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Outpatient Surgery at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis – Department of Otolaryngology Pediatric

Hailey, almost five, needed a new set of ear-tubes and her adenoids removed at the request of ENT specialist Dr. Lieu, (Department of Otolaryngology-Pediatric). Hailey has toughed out five years of constant fluid trapped in her middle ears (even with first set of tubes) and countless infections, we’re hoping the procedure will help alleviate constant pain and sensitivity issues also prevent any long term hearing loss.

Extremely kid-friendly, Children’s Hospital in St. Louis is a great facility with the best care around. Dr. Lieu’s office is located at the hospital and between Olivia and Hailey, this would make our fourth out-patient procedure, so we have frequented “Children’s” many times prior to this, but nothing in our experience would have or could have prepared us for (although we should have expected), Hailey’s difficult recovery, I’ll get to that soon.

Kim had all the paperwork completed before our arrival so checking in was a snap. We just need to show picture ID’s and insurance card at the reception desk where a concierge was waiting to take us up to the surgical center. We were immediately placed into a spacious “family” room down the hall from the operating room where we waited for Hailey to be called. We did have a couple hours to wait too, luckily the room had cable TV, DVD, and a playstation. Right outside our room was a play area loaded with games, puzzles, books and non-messy art supplies. Hailey and Kim played Guess Who? Then it was time to send Hailey to the OR.

Dr. Lieu came in to see us right before the surgery and apologized for the wait. Dr. Lieu is highly personable and genuinely interested in her paitents health. Five plus years ago when searching for an ENT, Kim and I were lucky to have found Dr. Lieu from a pool of (in my opinion) mediocre doctors that were in our (then) insurance network and we did a few interviews too.

The cartoon print scrubs gurneyed Hailey off to the operating room, bravely she went, not looking back as Kim held in a tear. Kim and I went back to the room until they called us to the recovery area which only took an hour. I had some phone calls to make so the time went by quickly.

Approaching the recovery area we could hear Hailey shouting, “The medicine made me sick! I want to go home right now!” over and over again. She was surrounded by four attendants and thrashing around when we arrived. The fact that Kim and I showed up only made her scream louder, “Take me home right now! The medicine made me sick! I want to go home now!” I’m pretty sure the nurse administered (and I wasn’t rejecting) a sedative into Hailey’s IV more than one time over the course of a thirty minute Hailey scream feast, something I am used too, but probably nothing the nurses or techs had anticipated. A few surprised passer-byers gave us the look of ‘can’t you control your child?’ a few others gave us the look of ‘been there and glad it ain’t me’.  At one point, the stubby attending nurse told Hailey that she needed to try and be quiet because she was scaring all the other children, which I didn’t appreciate her saying to Hailey at that point in time. Hailey moved from the gurney to Kim’s arms where she shrieked and wailed “I told you blueberry! The strawberry medicine made me sick! It’s in my mouth! I can’t hear! Take me home now! I don’t like this! Etc…” for another twenty minutes before she finally started to calm down enough for the recovery team to get her out of their hair. Once back in the room Hailey cuddled up with me for a few more ear splitting cry’s and the nurses shut our door on us. Kim and I half-laughed at that and I added “well we should have expected this, [from Hailey].”

Hailey crashed in my arms for an hour or so then woke up vomiting on my lap which was no surprise and normal, (well, did not expect throw-up on me). She swallowed some apple juice which made an immediate return. Slept a bit more, then woke up and stomached half a 20oz bottle of grape Power Aid for a good amount of time. At this point we were ready to go, Hailey was calm enough to say that she was feeling better and wanted to go home and sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed. Kim had signed the release paperwork and picked up a couple prescriptions from the hospital’s pharmacy earlier while Hailey slept in my arms. I Hoisted up Hailey to leave when she vomited all over me again, this time on my shoulder and inside my shirt pocket where I had stashed my ID, insurance card and validated parking pass. I took off my button down and walked her out in crew neck t-shirt. The stuff on my pants had long dried.  She also hurled waiting for the elevator, lucky for the janitors she made it to the trash can. Kim and I were about to turn around and go back to the nurses station and ask to be re-admitted waiting out any further vomiting but from past experiences, we knew that this was just part of the process, figuring she would be ok soon and we were right. Hailey fell asleep on the ride home, slept even more once we got home, had no more stomach problems and woke up the next day feeling as if nothing even happened.

Lesson Learned:
1. Have all paperwork complete and sent to hospital before the day of surgery.
2. Get the kiddo familiar with hospital prior to day of surgery (most hospitals do tours).
3. Keep photo ID and insurance card handy.
4. Get parking validated.
5. Expect your kiddo to be disoriented after surgery and expect vomit.
6. Bring extra clothes for kiddo (and self).
7. Bring work or activity to fill an hour or two for yourself and spouse.
8. Have vomit bag ready for car ride home.
9. Kiddo will sleep a lot the rest of day and next.
10. Have quiet low energy activities planned the next couple days.

Jump Start Your Child’s Interest In Books With The Tag Reading System From LeapFrog – Product Review

Pink Tag Reader

Pink Tag Reader

The LeapFrog Tag Reader was waiting at our front door upon our arrival from preschool last Thursday. Priority shipped directly from the good people at LeapFrog Enterprises as part of a giveaway promotion and literacy program, the Tag Reader and two extra books became an instant favorite, can’t live without, necessity for my preschoolers. 

An agonizing (for the kiddos yet hells kitchen type stress for me) six minutes past as I unboxed the Tag Reader and followed the simple two-step setup. Olivia and Hailey both could barely wait that long for me to scrounge up two AAA batteries and install the Tag Reader software to their desktop computer. The Tag Reader’s packaging was clear in direction and thankfully the software loaded up quickly. Within a few minutes I had the two extra books’ (A Scooby Doo and Green eggs and Ham) audio files downloaded to the Tag Reader and just in the nick of time, before the kiddo’s anticipation deteriorated and excessive nagging mayhem ensued.

Scooby Doo Shiny Spooky Knights

Scooby Doo Shiny Spooky Knights

As I fumbled through the instruction booklet for several minutes trying to figure out how the smart toy worked with the books, Olivia intuitively had the Tag Reader completely mastered. I didn’t need to explain anything to her and before I knew it she was teaching Hailey how to operate it. I put the instruction booklet back in the box, sat back and enjoyed the (rare) cooperative moment.

Hailey, four years old, was not a book person before last week. In the past, during the nightly routine of story time with Kim, she would flit around, her attention elsewhere. The Tag Reader has turned that around. Within a week she has become engaged in books and not just the Tag Reader books but all their books which combined, out numbers the amount of toilet paper squares within our household.

Olivia is a book connoisseur, a journal writer, a story teller and scribbler of sorts. She must have at least five books on her nightstand before the final tuck-in and sometimes she falls asleep with a book covering her face shielding her from reality or maybe she’s just hiding her eyes from the strong light emanating from Hailey’s bedside lamp. She does enjoy the story telling aspect of the Tag Reader especially the recognizable characters, for instance the voices from Scooby Doo. She also enjoys the thought provoking mini games and likes hearing the Tag Reader tell her that she has received a new award for an accomplished challenge.

Surprisingly, the Tag reader was not tossed into one of many bottomless toy chests where most their stuff ends up, but instead, has been trophied by Hailey and proudly resides on her nightstand where it is readily accessible. It didn’t take long for Olivia and Hailey to convince me to buy them two new Tag Activity Storybooks, “Olivia” the pig and Disney’s Ariel “Adventures Under the Sea.”

I thought it would be a fun activity to “play” journalist with the kiddos and set up an exclusive interview with each of them. This is what transpired:
FOTB: When is your favorite time of day to do the Tag?
Olivia: When Hailey doesn’t want to play with me, I play it.
Hailey: Friday

FOTB: Where do you use the Tag Reader?
Olivia: By the computer.
Hailey: The Living room

FOTB: Who do you like to play the Tag Reader with?
Olivia: Daddy
Hailey: Daddy
FOTB: [Hold on, head is swelling].

FOTB: How does the Tag work?
Olivia: Press the Tag on the book and enjoy the story or play the games.
Hailey: By pressing the buttons [icon buttons].

FOTB: What is your favorite aspect, err, thing about the Tag?
Olivia: The games.
Hailey: Playing Ariel.

FOTB: [Here comes the hard nosed journalist]. What don’t you like about the Tag?
Olivia: I don’t like the present [icons] that reads just one page.
FOTB: [Here comes follow up]. So you would rather hear the whole story all the way through?
Olivia: Yes.
Hailey: Playing the diamonds.
FOTB: What are the diamonds?
Hailey: I’ll show you [points to diamonds in the Ariel book].
FOTB: What do the diamonds do?
Hailey: You have to catch all the diamonds.

My assessment of the Tag Reading System; one small limitation (sorry ‘bout this LeapFrog folks but I have to be honest here), I found with the Tag Reading System is the lack of memory. Only fifteen or sixteen megabytes of storage and each audio file consumes about three megs, meaning that the Tag can only hold five books. However anything that helps kids get into reading and literacy is a great thing and has my seal of approval especially since books have to compete with computers, video games, DVDs and so many other high tech toys.

Wii Quipped

Kim and I decided that a Wii would be a good family investment. You know, we envisioned happy scenes of the whole family playing interactive games together, exchanging high fives, cheering each other on and spending quality time together, which for the most part became reality except for a few emotional breakdowns due to extremely competitive egos which I will get to later.

When discussing the purchase, I gave Olivia and Hailey the idea of chipping in a few unredeemed gift cards from the holidays to sway the decision in favor of buying a new Wii console. Elizabeth didn’t (couldn’t) object, contributing her unspent gift card too. The fix was in. This past Sunday we piled into the Odyssey and headed to the local Toys R Us where plenty of Wii consoles were in stock. We roamed the endless overwhelming toy filled isles for hours, each of my girls (excluding Kim) indecisive about picking out a small toy and then relinquishing the remaining balance on their gift cards to collaboratively purchase the family gift. Finally Olivia picked out a Littlest Pet Shop toy, Hailey an Aurora doll and Elizabeth a new talking baby doll.

I was hesitant when it came time to enter the tighter than airport security gamer coral and asked the young helpful Toys R Us customer service girl to unlock us a Wii console. “Is this all I need?” I asked. The perky sales assistant said that I may need an extra controller; undecidedly I turned to Kim who gave me the nod. I can drop twice the amount on new inline skates or a new road bike without a second thought, but leaving the store an empty feeling kept me thinking, “Was this money well spent?”

In the van, on the ride home, I turned to Kim and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” She laughed and repeated the phrase back too me.

It didn’t take long to get the Wii setup, but I did have to get creative with the hookup to my ancient surround sound tuner. A lack of auxiliary space forced me to change the VCR’s (yes, we still have one), audio setup, no big deal, I got all my components working.

The kiddos love Mii. They spend most of their computer time on pixiehollow.com recreating fairies so building Mii’s came natural to them. We must have spent an hour on fashioning characters that closely resemble each of us. I secretly desired Kim’s Mii to accurately depict her as she is in real life, sultry and hot, but ironically her Mii ended up bookish.

As mentioned in the first paragraph of this post we experienced a couple emotional outbursts during game play which I am about to explain. The first game we played was Wii Sports Bowling. In the first frame, Hailey knocked down seven pins and failed to pickup any more pins on her second bowl. She stormed off, sulking her way to her room and slammed the door shut. For years I have been explaining to both Olivia and Hailey the importance of good sportsmanship. Finishing a game is an important part of being a good sport and nobody wants to play with a poor sport. Luckily I didn’t have to lecture her this time and Uncle Alan (my brother in law) was there to temporarily stand-in for Hailey’s second frame, by the third frame she had come back to the game on her own accord. Not only did she finish the game she beat Kim and me.

Another Hailey outburst occurred the following day. I had just walked in the door, home from work and Hailey was in her room crying on her bed. “What’s wrong with her” I asked Kim. She said that Hailey and Olivia were playing great together on the Wii, encouraging each other to do well and when they finished bowling Hailey got upset, presumably because she lost. I entered her room and I think she was embarrassed at her behavior because she turtled under her covers. I sat down next to her, silent for a few minutes until she was finished whimpering. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She skirted the root of the problem and said that mommy had yelled at her and wouldn’t let her play the boxing game, which was probably a diluted version of what really happened but I didn’t question any further. I told her that we would play the next day which happened to be a daddy day.

Back to my question, “Is the Wii money well spent?” Yes, I think so.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

For every hundred failures one successful idea will prevail. About a year ago I had one of those successes. It is a great parenting tip and I want to share.

Contained within a dryly PhD written child development book which I can’t remember the title, I found an interesting factoid that stood out; three out of every four teenage girls has an unsatisfactory self image. When I read this I could see truth in that. Of course the professional child psychiatrist who recorded that fact had no solution to combat the ugly trend, pointing to external cultural influences as the cause.

That gloomy stat slowly began to creep up on my girls, In photographs Olivia would mimic cover model’s expressions that she’d seen from Glamour mags while waiting in line at the supermarket, Hailey started using words like “fat” or “ugly” to describe other people and Olivia desired to wear clothing emulating teenyboppers. Pop culture was stealing my children’s innocence. It was only a matter of time before Olivia’s and Hailey’s own inadequacies bound them into a suffocating comma of self doubt and uncertainty. I had to find a solid method to instill confidence in my young princesses and repel the damaging tide of filth spewing from every direction. That method came from another book. A book that I do remember: Get Real Get Rich by Farrah Gray, an inspirational read about a south-side Chicago kid who grew out of poverty to become wealthy in more ways than monetarily. Somewhere in that book I came across a confidence builder that worked for the author; looking in the mirror and reciting self affirmations. Yup, the perfect remedy to instill self-confidence in my girls.

Close to a year ago I got my girls into the habit of saying something nice about themselves or something that they are good at when they stood in front of the mirror while getting ready for preschool. Now, anytime they step in front of a mirror they automatically have something positive to say (or think) about themselves and both Olivia and Hailey appear to be more self assured, upbeat and less hypnotized by our glamified culture.

I can tell them a bazillion times (and I do) that they are beautiful or intelligent or good at something not making a dent in their psyche. However when they have convinced themselves that they are good or pretty or smart, a noticeable internal foundation of confidence is clearly evident. In three or five or ten or twenty years will my girls turn out to be overly confident even conceited? Maybe, but it’s better than the alternative.

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Each Tuesday during April, Olivia, Hailey and I attended a ‘Mommy and Me’ class at our school district’s early childhood center. Yoga Animal Antics. Too young for the class, Elizabeth Rose sat this one out and luckily my mom was available to watch her.

Each class started off with an animal search and rescue operation. The kids blindly pulled a picture of a missing stuffed animal out of a box and then became responsible for rescuing that “lost” animal.  Once all the hidden animals had been found, the class circled-up for songs, introductions and animal education. All the kids got the green light to go wild mimicking sounds and movements of the animals that they had recovered.

It was then time to do animal impersonations by means of yoga stretches. Each child picked a card that showed an animal and how imitate that animal with a yoga pose. Everyone got a turn leading the class with his or her pose. Cat stretches, down dogs, crab walks and fluttering butterflies, to name a few. The best part of this activity was right at the end, the instructor handed out mini rubber ducks, the kind used for duck races and then we were instructed to lie on our backs and place the duck on our tummies. We had to make the duck go up and down by breathing deeply. Ok, so we were doing shavasan and within seconds of placing the little duck race duck on my stomach I would momentarily fall asleep.

Any parent child class would not be complete without a craft activity and this class was no different. The motif of craft time was wild animals and the favorite had to have been “pigs in the mud,” a couple little people farm pigs tracking chocolate pudding over butcher paper. The class ended with a parachute games and lastly a goodbye song.

I enjoy these classes because, it is less planning for me on daddy days, it is good to get out of the house (before the kiddos destroy it) and we usually learn something new. Olivia, Hailey and I have frequented many of these ‘Mommy and Me’ classes in the past and always have a good experience in doing so. But there is one thing missing from these kinds of classes; the dads. Four years of parent child classes that we have been to only one other dad has been in attendance and he showed with his wife. Note that those were classes during week days.

These parent and child interaction classes aren’t called “Mommy and Me” anymore.  A step in the right direction for a dad who likes to attend such classes and wishes not to feel ostracized by a motley group of alpha mommies. It is hard enough breaking the ice to a room full of glaring women that are wondering what a man is doing with his children in the middle of the work week at mid day committed to a parent child class. Most of the moms are welcoming and warm to the idea of an involved dad in their mist. But there is inevitably a small percent of leery women believing their must be an arterial motive to my presence and these are the ladies that exude the air of exclusion. I don’t let them detour me.

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