Fries are done

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Happy Birthday!.... Again!

Well, considering the outlook 9 months ago, we figured we could extend the celebration over a few days, right?...

So this portion of the festivities took place at Ft. DeSoto, on what turned out to be a VERY crowded Sunday. Probably the last nice weather before the "tropical winter" sets in. But we managed to secure a spot under a shelter alongside a nice family from Polk County - brought their own gas grill on the back of the pick-up. Resourceful, no? I spent half an hour with the briquettes like some dude from Quest For Fire, meanwhile Zeke & Co. were grilling steaks inside 5 minutes. That's okay though. I take solace in the fact that charcoal makes burgers taste better no matter how old I get waiting for it glow. Well that's my story, anyway....

We had a nice little turnout and everyone seemed to have a good time. We had told Dante we were going to have a party at the beach and all he wanted to do was make a beeline straight for the water - well, we were at the beach, right? So let's go!

Everyone seemed very impressed with the cake, which was designed by the Little Man himself. The Publix bakery folks had to call twice to confirm the layout. Couldn't quite grasp the concept. "No, lots of little 3's all the way around. Yes, half of the cake blue, and half red. No just the numbers 1, 2 & 3."

After cake we all went down the beach for a little splashing and screaming, as toddlers (and, as it happens, not-so-toddlers) are wont to do in the water.

All in all, a good time had by all. When Jen arrived home we had two sleepy monsters sacked out in the back seat. Jen and I soon followed.

Dante and Tyler - double trouble...

Heather and Gretchen

Takin' care of bizness...

Jennifer and Ryan enjoy the beach.


Monday was Dante's official 1st day back at preschool. Yet another milestone. Daddy's been waiting for this day for a long time..... We had a few preliminary visits the last two weeks, to reacclimate, but Monday went the best. I left for a couple of hours and Miss Laura, his new teacher, said he did great. Had fun, listened well, ate all his lunch. I asked her who was this kid and what had she done with my son? - I kid, I kid.

However, we do feel that this is a really big step, and there was considerable anxiety about his response to all the other kids. And sharing. And not grabbing. And sharing.

Since Dante has been out of preschool and pretty much devoid of regular peer contact for the past 9 months, there are considerable social skills that he is lacking but are evident in some of his friends that remained in school. He has a gap there that the other kids don't. But I expect he'll catch up pretty quick. And regardless of where he's at now, it's really great to see him out there with other kids.

One day, on the way out to the playground one of the other kids, a little cutie named Brooke, took his hand, and at first he was a little taken aback, but he held on and by the end of the hallway, he was smiling and jabbering away with her about going out to "play on the playset and swinging on the swings and climbing on the ladder and bouncing on the bridge and and..... "

So we are very excited about the past week and things to come.


In Dr. news, Dante had a Speech & Language evaluation, and another Audiogram with Dr. Carr and the grad students over at USF (a really great operation and nice people). Both of these are ongoing and are side effects of the Cisplatin they used for chemo in his treatment. The S & L eval looked good. Age appropriate mistakes and no real obvious problems. Nothing that would immediately be attributable to hearing loss anyway. We were advised to keep an eye on how certain words and sounds develop, but no hearing aids recommended yet.
The Audiogram went well too, especially considering it was late afternoon. There is more hearing loss evident in the upper frequencies, but all within the same pattern as the earlier test (which occurred just prior to his last round of chemo). Dr. Carr seems to think it should level off now, but we'll be back in 3 months to check again.

So all around, no bad news, and everything remains on track.

And we remain cautiously optimistic.

Consider leaving some ice cream out just for good measure :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

All Better?

Today, my morning wakeup call was from Dr. Patranella. She was calling with lab results that were negative for Giardia.
Me:"Well, that's good."
Dr. P: "Well, yea, but only if he feels better!"

Dante is much improved from last weekend. He has had a nagging upset stomach for the past couple of weeks, and of course, our episode last weekend. He has also been randomly itching all over. Dr. P said it could be Giardia or maybe a slight case of Rotavirus (but certainly not the same alien life form that infected Chris a few weeks ago - that was a horror show). We are still waiting on 2 other test results for other possibilities. I think that if he had it, it's run it's course by now.

The main reason we went to the doctor on Dante's birthday was that he had hardly been peeing at all! I kept wondering why he would never go when we sat on the potty or why he was flat out refusing to sit on the potty when he used to at least humor me. Then, I started noticing that his diaper was very dry for long periods of time. Well, we found out why and after much fretting on my part, everything is now fixed and on the track to recovery. He had meatal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the opening of the urethra. I convinced the urologist to see us right away and it took less than 2 minutes to "fix". He's a little tender, but much happier.

While at Dr. P's, we were asking all sorts of behavioral questions, because Dante has been so ornery lately. She started by saying, "Well, I think I would be cranky too if I felt how he does right now!" But then she proceeded to tell us that she refers to age 3 as the obstinate threes - Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner!

Carina is now standing up on her own and trying to take steps! She climbs everything. I turned around the other day and she was on the coffee table! The other night, she got her whole leg up and almost over the edge of the bathtub! It's pretty funny, because she is just smiling away and having a blast.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Three is the Magic Number!

Happy Third Birthday Dante!

Just a quick note to let you know that Dante was officially 3 today. Chris took cupcakes to Dante's new class at preschool and he really seemed to enjoy it. After that, we headed to Dr. Patranella's to find out why Dante hasn't been feeling too good lately. We have some preliminary possibilities, but have to wait for some test results and have another appointment tomorrow with a specialist. And hey - it's your birthday - Here's your Hepatitis A shot!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Call Father's Day

On Saturday night, we had Uncle Dave come babysit so Chris and I could get out by ourselves for Mother's Day and for the first time in several weeks. Both kids were sound asleep when we left, so we thought it would be an easy night for Dave. We got through an enjoyable dinner and were on to our next stop to just relax and hang out. Two sips into a nice cocktail both of our phones suddenly registered missed calls. It was Dave - Dante had thrown up and was pretty hysterical. By the way, we had put him down in our bed so if either of the kids woke up, the other would stay asleep - we got that part right....

We rushed home and Dante was OK. He was sitting with Dave on the couch still whimpering a little bit. Even though he was out of his clothes, he smelled terrible. Apparently, he had gotten sick and not completely woken up, so he was in there for several minutes marinating in it before actually crying out and Dave realized something was wrong. We couldn't get him to get into the bath, so I just wiped him down and got him in new PJ's and back to sleep. We were on edge the rest of the night anytime we heard any stirring.

He was fine all day today, but didn't eat much. He actually has been acting as if something is wrong with his tummy lately, but not enough to get sick or stop eating. Today, I only fed him if he asked for food.

This morning, Mother's Day. All I really wanted was to sleep in an extra hour or so. It was not in the cards. Carina woke up at 6:30 and would not go back to sleep. Then Dante woke up and only wanted mommy. When Carina went down for her morning nap, I finally got Dante in the bath and he smelled much better. Everything seemed like it was going well...

Carina wakes up to a blown out diaper and a huge mess in her crib. While Chris is holding her at arm's length and I try to remove the offending clothing and get her in the bath, he strains his back. I get Carina all cleaned up and am still hoping for even a few minutes to myself today. Chris's back is hurting so bad, he has to take a muscle relaxer and go lay down. Meanwhile, we had planned to have mom over for dinner - cooked by Chris. That doesn't happen either.

So, the day ended up with Chris sleeping most of the afternoon and me and the kids going over to mom's to hang out. Dinner was take out and the one cooked by Chris will have to be rescheduled.

My mom said it never worked out for her to have a good Mother's Day and she always called Father's Day instead. I think that's a good plan.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Just Mommy

Conversation with Dante leaving a restaurant tonight:
"Mommy, leave Carina at the restaurant."
"Daddy, you stay at the restaurant." just got better from there, and louder... eventually, however it took only one bedtime song before he fell asleep.

The past 2 days, I think the whole sibling thing has really caught up with Dante. He has been super moody when Carina is around and keeps asking for her to go away. But, then in the next sentence, he is asking to play with her. Go figure.

Super crazy busy week coming up...Mother's Day, Dante's Birthday, Speech/Language Evaluation, 3 year old check up, Birthday Party, Swimming lessons and summer vacation!!! All of this mixed in with Chris booked half the week and the last days of school craziness for me. I am so looking forward to my summer vacation this year!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


We had a doctor's appointment today at the oncologist's office. First one in 6 weeks. Dante was very good and super silly in the waiting room, singing and jumping around. Once he saw his old friends, like Lee, Darlene, Pam, Irene and Dr.Grana, he decided to go all shy with them, but he was obviously happy to see them. I really like everyone at the clinic, but someone who is strong on time management needs to have a sit down with them. Our appointment was at 11. I think we finally saw Dr. Grana around 12:45! We got into a room, but then we just had to keep waiting. Luckily, Dante was occupied with the ever handy "sticker book", which has saved us during countless clinic visits.

After all that wait, they decided to just do a finger prick CBC. His ANC is 4400. His platelets are up to 183. His hemoglobin is still low at 11.4, but much higher than during our previous visits. If you recall, we were getting concerned about how his hemoglobin was not rising. Dr. Grana said that she thinks his body is just taking a little longer to get his red blood cells back to normal. She thinks his immune system is back to normal and everything looks really good. We will have another CT scan in June, and at that time we will get another AFP test(tumor marker) done.

While we were there, I couldn't help thinking back over the past 9 months. We have met some really great people and our eyes were opened to an entire other existence that many people are living in daily. We are so thankful for how everything has turned out for Dante and us so far. We're also very thankful for all the people who we have met along the way. In the clinic today, there was a little girl Dante's age, Edith, who we always saw at the hospital and once shared a room with. She had so much hair, I didn't even recognize her! I couldn't stop staring because I didn't believe it was the same person and I was so happy to see that she was obviously healthier. I have also been closely following another friend, Sara, and just get goosebumps when I think about how happy I am about her progress. We have recently heard about a couple of kids that have lost their battle to cancer and our thoughts go out to those families.

When Chris and I first got the phone call from Dr. Patranella in August, telling us that Dante had a tumor in his pelvis, we thought our world was ending. We were so terrified that we didn't even want to discuss the thoughts that were going on in our head. It seemed to just get worse and worse until we had an exact diagnosis. From that point on, we proceeded with a different attitude and tried to not let those thoughts come to the surface. We were determined to stay strong for Dante. I am so thankful to be able to soon celebrate Dante's third birthday, that words cannot express.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big Helper

The last few nights when I am feeding Carina her bottle and about to put her to bed, Dante has been super cute and sitting at my feet reading a book. When I tell him it's time, he carries his book into our our bed climbs in and waits until I get there after putting Carina in the crib. He has calmly picked out books to read and told me what four songs we will sing before sleeping. Then he has gone to sleep after the fourth song.

Every other time that Chris has been away, this time of night has been very stressful to manage, because Dante wouldn't understand that he needed to be quiet so that Carina could go to sleep. Maybe something finally clicked. It has made this weekend much more bearable!

The past two mornings, I have been woken up around 6:45am to both kids singing. First, I will hear Carina babbling away and giggling and then all of a sudden, Dante starts singing and giggling with her. Normally, I would've sent them both back to bed at that hour, but they're both being so sweet and good that we just end up getting up and starting our day.

We spent last weekend catching up with old friends. On Saturday, we went to see Caleb to wish him a belated 3rd birthday. It's pretty amusing to watch 3 year olds "play". They were happy to see each other and I was happy to get to hang out with Tasha for a little while as well. On Sunday, we went to visit Tyler and Gretchen. Tyler and Dante had a blast playing in the pool and singing the ABC song together.

Gretchen and Carina just sort of eyed each other and went about their business of playing and crawling around. Heather and I also had a chance to catch up - as much as you can when you are handling two kids a piece. Dante was worn out each day, but very happy to have seen his old friends. We can't wait for summer when we get to do that more often! I used to work with both Heather and Natasha, so a playdate for the boys is really an excuse for a playdate for us as well.

(OK, a side funny note about the matching outfits on the girls. When Heather and I worked together, we were always asked if we were sisters. We would laugh and have no idea where they got that from. Similar freckles maybe? When the boys were born, they couldn't have looked any different and we were always asked if they were twins! I couldn't resist when the girls were born to buy them matching outfits anticipating that question again. )

I am thinking more and more about Dante's upcoming third birthday on May 15th. Kid's birthday parties can grow exponentially somehow and take on a life of their own, so I think we will stick with low key. I asked Dante tonight what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said he wanted to have a picnic. Sounds like a plan to me.