May 24, 2012

Our Recent Medical/Dental Interventions and a Healthy Dose of Perspective

Wow, what a month!  I'm not sure where to begin.

I mentioned in Jason's birthday post that he and I had gone on a date without  our children on Friday evening.  When we arrived home, we were greeted with a moaning boy who was trying to stabilize a swollen left arm with an ice pack while trying to play games on the baby sitter's cell phone with his other arm.  It turns out that Garrett and Spencer had been climbing in the cherry tree (something they do often), when Garrett fell and reached out to catch himself.  The landing was hard.  With only thirty minutes until closing time, we thought it best to get  him to the instacare for a quick x-ray.

The diagnosis was a buckle fracture of the arm, just above the wrist.  He was given a splint and a token to purchase a ninja from the toy dispenser in the lobby, and we had instructions to have his pediatrician put a cast on early during the next week.

Tuesday of the next week, Garrett had an early morning appointment with the dentist to have a cavity filled, and then I was to take Ella to her 15-month well check.  The pediatrician allowed me to schedule Garrett's appointment for a cast on that same visit.  Unfortunately, the medicine used for sedation for the cavity turned him into an agitated, aggressive demon child.  I brought him into the doctor's office screaming, fist flinging, slapping, and  hair pulling. It was not pretty.  After checking Ella, the doctor recommended that we not cast Garrett until the following day because he did not think it was a good idea to do it until the affects of the medicine wore off.  He didn't think I'd appreciate being hit by a hard cast on a flailing and out of control arm.  

I was frustrated and reduced to tears as I thought of having to make an additional trip to the office during the next day when I was supposed to be making and delivering fifty chocolate cupcakes to the elementary school for teacher appreciation week. Deep breaths!  Now take demon child home.

Well, I made the cupcakes that evening and handed them off to someone else to deliver instead. Jason stayed home from work Wednesday morning to take Garrett to get his cast on and allowed me to go get a much needed Zumba workout in.  I was now recharged and ready to take Brevin and Spencer to the dentist in the afternoon to have teeth pulled and impressions made for retainers.

Well, there's his shiny, new cast.  (Please excuse the fact
that he is wearing the same shirt as he was on the day he
broke his arm.  In my defense, there was a laundry
cycle between the two days..I think.)

Yes, those are Spencer's teeth in his hands.  Ouchy!

Brevin got off a little easier this time.

Two weeks after Garrett broke his arm, Ella was climbing on a chair in the kitchen and tipped it over backwards.  She had been holding onto the chair back, and as it hit the floor, her fingers were crushed and she severed a piece of her left ring finger.  We gathered the tiny piece of flesh with nail bed intact and put it on ice.  We then rushed to the emergency room to see what, if anything, could be done to salvage the fingertip.

After five hours at the hospital, Ella had been ex-rayed, given a shot of local anesthetic to the hand, examined, sedated, had the tip and nail sewn back on, and was given a bright pink dressing on her hand.  We left with prescriptions to ease pain and prevent infection and with an optimistic outlook for healing.  The finger had been broken, the skin and tip would die but would act as a nice, natural "band-aid" to cover the exposed bone, and the nail matrix was still intact, so a nail could still grow.  We will just have to wait and see what the long-term cosmetic effect will be, but I am assured that everything is made better in this situation by the fact that Ella is a baby with great capacity for physical growth and healing. The bad news--it happens to be her left ring finger.

This was taken just two days after her fall.  Isn't she sweet!

I couldn't bring myself to take any initial photos of Ella's finger, but as it healed,
I was amazed how much better it looked with each passing day. 
I decided I should start chronicling the healing process.  Here it is at two weeks.

So, here is where I gained a healthy dose of perspective with these recent events: 

In just a matter of seconds, a life can be forever altered.  In our family's case, we were fortunate that things were not worse...much, much worse. 

I cringe to think how quickly I loose focus on the things that are most important and how quickly I become consumed with those things that are not.  These incidents served as gentle reminders to set me back on track (I don't want to have to have any more of the harsh reminders; I've had a few of those before).  Life is good, so enjoy it!

Also, with Garrett and Ella's accidents occurring in such a short time frame, I felt to confront my inadequacies as a mother. I even entertained the thought, Why can't I keep my children safe and free from harm or injury?  And then it dawned on me.  I can't. And I am not supposed to.  I need to accept that my children, at times, will become victims to the consequences of their own choices, others choices, and things that are completely out of their control...and mine.  I can do everything I can to help prepare and prevent, and I will do everything I can to comfort and assist in the healing process.  I will stay calm during the emergencies, I will fill prescriptions and make children take disgusting medicine (I'll try to hide it in their food and drinks if I have to), I will take them to follow-up appointments, and get up in the night several times to hold them when they awake in a fit of discomfort.  I will clean and dress wounds, apply needed ointments, and try to refit a cast that has slipped off a bit.  I will even deal with plastic bag barriers at bath times.  Of course I will be able to accomplish all of this because of help and support from my amazing husband, extended family, friends, and my sweet visiting teachers.

Likewise, my Savior, Jesus Christ, doesn't always prevent me from becoming victim to the consequences of my own choices, others choices, and things that are completely out of my control.  But He does everything to help me prepare and prevent, and He is everything in comforting and assisting in the healing process.  I've learned that the human body is extremely resilliant and with proper care, can be mended.  I feel the human spirit is just as resillient and capable of mending.  I just have to be sure to go to the Master Physician.

All is well at the Park household.  All is well.

This post authored by Amber

Thirty-Seven (But Who's Counting?)

This good-looking dude just had a birthday (well, over a month ago.  Yeah, I'm a little behind).  His birthday occurred not long after his once-in-a-lifetime business trip to Augusta, Georgia to view practice rounds of the 2012 Masters, among other business related activities, so we went with a golf themed celebration.

I found this recipe on a great cooking blog to try out for Jason's breakfast: Cream Cheese-Stuffed Lemon French Toast with Strawberries.  Yes.  It is as decadent as it sounds, and I am sure it is super-dooper healthy for you, too. (A girl can dream, right?) 

Jason's birthday fell on a Thursday, so we took all the kiddos out to eat that night.  After stopping at a few local restaurants that were booked due to college graduations, he decided he wanted a pastrami burger and fries at JCW's. Yummy!

We came home to have Jason open gifts and blow out his candle (with assistance from Garrett, of course) and we polished off a few cupcakes that had been made to look like a golf course. Jason's parents stopped by to wish Jason well for his birthday and helped us eat the cupcakes. 

Along with the candy and Muppet Movies DVDs, Jason was also given a special treat of a gift certificate to Hobble Creek Golf Course.

Inspiration for the cupcakes came from the book What's New, Cupcake!

And because we like to drag these things out, Jason and I went out for an evening alone to eat sushi at Shoga on Friday night.  I don't have pictures of that.  Just know that the two of us ate enough to feel uncomfortable, but that didn't keep us from forcing the complimentary cheesecake upon our full bellies. 

I love birthdays. (And I love Jason, too!)

This post authored by Amber

May 21, 2012

Yeah, Our Spring Break Was Totally Awesome!

With an entire week dedicated to the rest and relaxation of Nebo School District students and faculty, 2012 Spring break seemed like the perfect time to plan a trip to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.  Jason and I also decided to keep the children completely in the dark about our plans until the moment we put them in a pre-packed van to head to the west coast.  Man, we had such a great time!'s my dilemma.  How do I decide which pictures best represent my family's week long Disneyland trip when I took over five hundred total?  Needless to say, this will be a "photo heavy" post.  Enjoy!

"We're Going to Disneyland!"

Jason and I woke the boys early Sunday morning to see what the Easter Bunny brought.  We then gave them a present to open from us.  Inside was a souvenir keepsake can (like others they already have) with a label that read, "Memories from our family vacation.  Disneyland, April 2012."  It took a while for the realization to set in.  Spencer was the first to clue into the fact that we would need to fill the can, and that's when we excitedly informed them to get dressed and get in the car 'cause we were GOING TO DISNEYLAND!       

Surviving Driving Straight Through

We decided to drive straight through to California without spending a night at a midway point.  We did stop off at Barstow for some lunch at Carl's Jr, though.  Because of the early start and favorable traffic, we made incredible time and arrived in Anaheim just after our available hotel check-in time.  Because of the early start, all children were crashed out as we pulled in to our destination.

The Amenities of the Clarion Hotel

This trip, we tried a different hotel that was located two blocks away from the park.  It had an outdoor pool that we played in after we checked into our room.  We also enjoyed free full breakfasts each morning with our stay.  The distance from the park necessitated a shuttle bus transport, but the rooms were much larger than our hotel of choice from past visits (which is right across the street from the main entrance).  It worked out to be just fine, I thought.

Ella's First (Official) Visit

The last time I came to Disneyland, I was in the early weeks of my first trimester of  pregnancy with Ella.  This time around she was beside me, and loving every minute of it, although she did scurry to clutch on to my shoulder anytime a ride would get too dark for her liking or make sudden changes in direction (namely, the drops in Pirates of the Caribbean and backing down into the cemetery of The Haunted Mansion).  She was such a trooper when it came to waiting for others to go on the big rides, and she was justly rewarded when Cinderella and her fairy godmother emerged from the castle right in front of us for a fabulous photo op.

Crowd Control

I anticipated huge crowds when I learned that park hours were extended to accommodate Spring Break groups, and regular season pass holders had blackout dates for the week we were going to be there.  But just look at this picture of Main Street just before park opening!  There's, like, nobody there!  We were able to get so many rides in during the morning hours, I couldn't believe how lucky we were. (It probably helped that we went on Monday through Thursday.)  Yes, the crowds picked up by mid-afternoon, but by then we were working the fast pass and rider switch pass system, and we didn't have to wait in a line more than fifteen to twenty minutes.  Absolutely fabulous!

The Parades

We were able to get so many rides in, that it didn't bother us one bit to spend a little time to stake out a good spot for the Main Street Parade.  Ella sure looked fascinated with the Princess float.  Personally, I loved seeing Mary Poppins on a motorized carousel horse.

New Attractions

California Adventureland seemed to have all of the rides and events that we've never been to.  World of Color was fantastic, The Little Mermaid ride was adorable, but we were most impressed with the laser show that was part of the Electronica night party event. We made a point of going back to see that a second night.  It is a truly innovative spectacle.  I highly recommend it.

Adrenaline Junkies

So, yeah, I just love this picture.  While everyone else is holding on for dear life on the Hollywood Tower of Terror, I convinced my boys to do a cool pose with me before the elevator shaft was dropped thirteen stories.  MY KIDS ROCK!

All of that thrill seeking did take its toll, though.  After back-to-back rides on Screamin', a swinging gondola on the giant Ferris wheel was just enough to send some of our party over the edge.  We had to rest for about fifteen minutes until everyone regained their "land legs."  (Oh and did you know the gondolas are equipped with barf bags?)

Passing the Time

Garrett and Ella were really good sports when it came to waiting around for the big kids to go on the big rides.  Of course, the time was passed by riding other rides and playing with Garrett's newly acquired bubble gun.  That gun turned out to be the best souvenir ever.

Two-Time Jedi Padawons

During our last visit, one of the highlights was when both Brevin and Spencer were selected to participate in the Jedi training.  This time, the Jedi master must have "sensed" that the two would make worthy apprentices.  As he walked onto the stage, he did not hesitate to call them both up very first thing.  I love, love, love this live show. I grew up on Star Wars, and it's fun to share that interest with my children.  It's also really cool to see Darth Vadar and Darth Maul emerge from the stage platform in all their Dark-sided glory.

Trying Something New

While I've already stated that California Adventureland had many attractions that we'd never tried, I didn't mention a newly discovered area of the park.  There is a Wilderness Explorer Camp (inspired by the Pixar film Up). You are given a brochure with all sorts of questions and tasks to complete that include rock wall climbing, a zip line, net bridges, slides, and all sorts of things that little explorers would love. "Adventure is out there!"   

Everybody's Favorite Rides

This is a picture of Brevin just outside one of his favorite rides, Indiana Jones.  Turns out, it is a favorite of most everyone.  When asked after the trip, "What was your favorite ride?" these were the responses I got: 

Jason- Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain ("and Little Mermaid was pretty cool, too.")
Brevin- Star Tours, Space Mountain, and Indiana Jones
Spencer- Indiana Jones and Space Mountain
Garrett- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Monsters Inc. and Pirates of the Caribbean
Ella couldn't say, but she seemed to like Small World and Heimlich's Chew-Chew Train mostAs for me, I love the Hollywood Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan.

Souvenir Shopping

While Garrett looks adorable in this Goofy hat, we did not buy it.  We did, however, purchase the aforementioned bubble gun and a Mickey Mouse light saber.  Brevin and Spencer got to build their own light sabers and both also picked out a cinch sack backpack, a notebook, and pirate sword pen.  Ella came home with a collection of miniature princess figurines.  Jason and I got a magnet for our fridge (that says 2012), a Pirate Mickey Mouse car antennae ball thing, and a guidebook with clues to all the "hidden Mickeys" in the park.  Let me just say, once you learn there are hidden Mickeys in the park, you become a little obsessed with looking for them. 

The Food.  Ahh, the Food!

For the most part, we ate breakfast at the hotel each morning, took snacks into the park to hold us over, then ate one meal at a park vendor.  Of course there were a few treats like suckers, popcorn, Dole whips, and churros thrown into the mix. 

Some of the places we ate during the week included Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express where the beignets (pronounced ben-yays) are divine.  Order the bag of ten.  You can thank me later.  We tried a hand-dipped corn dog from the Little Red Wagon.  Yum!  We also stopped in at the Hungry Bear Restaurant, The Pizza Port, Taste Pilot's Grill, and the Plaza Inn.  All were really good, but I think the Plaza Inn chicken dinner was the best value overall.   

Lifelong Family Memories

To say that we had a good time on our trip to Disneyland would be a total understatement.  I hope my children will look back on this weeklong experience with fondness.  I know I always will!

This post authored by Amber