Sunday, May 29, 2011


... it's been a while since I posted. Joe has been in and out (and in and out!) of the ER this week and not much is getting done that doesn't have to.

He's (mostly) fine now and things are slowly getting back to normal.

I'll be back when I can...

Friday, May 20, 2011

medical stuff... a long rambling update

By  necessity we see a lot of doctors... specialists connected to all of M's issues, the kid's pediatrician for everyday stuff, and lately R's needed to be seen more frequently because of the back pain she's continued to have since the car accident we had last December.

This past week we had two major appointments... R saw an orthopedist at The Children's Hospital who specializes in back pain, and M had MRI's and arthrograms of both hips.

Unfortunately, R's appointment was a total waste of time. The orthopedist was very young, and probably very smart... but his "people skills" were terrible. He was rough in his examination of R, and apparently paid no attention to the information sheet they had me fill out which, along with her medical history, let them know that she's developmentally delayed. He fired questions at her way too fast for her to process and answer... even if she had been familar with the big words he was using. After a two minute exam he gave his opinion that her back pain was nothing, and started in with a long patronizing lecture to me about how I just needed to stick with PT and R would be fine.  At that point I'd had ENOUGH. I stood up, thanked him for his time, walked to the exam room door and opened it. Luckily he took the hint and left. It was also lucky that it was a heavy door, with one of those things on it to slow it down as it shut... because otherwise it might have been slammed behind him.

R said he was so rude to her that she was trembling during the examination and that she'd rather just keep hurting than see another rude doctor.

The kid's pediatrician read the orthopedist's notes about the appointment (she is connected to the Children's Hospital computer system) and was also upset (an understatement) with his handling of the appointment... She's already left a message for the orthopedist to call her, and ordered an MRI for R (the orthopedist refused to order an MRI, saying it wasn't necessary.)

Not all the doctors we run into are great, but it's been a long time since we've stumbled upon one THAT bad.

Thankfully M's procedures yesterday went more smoothly. They were also done at Children's Hospital (our home away from home) and took a couple of hours. Because he's still having a lot of hip pain, his orthopedist (a different, much better doctor!) suggested MRI's and arthrograms of each hip the last time M saw him... with the goal of trying to pinpoint the pain and decide on what (if anything) to do. M did well with the procedures. He was pretty stressed earlier in the week, and after R's experience with the orthopedist from hell I almost cancelled the appointment... not wanting anything to do with Children's for awhile... but it all went fine. They had a "child life specialist" come to radiology to help M through the procedure... basically she's just someone who has a head's up about his disabilities, can help him understand what's going to happen, answer questions, and even just hold his hand during the procedure. I decided to wait in the waiting room this time. I've always gone with M for procedures etc. but I wasn't allowed to stay for the arthrogram (radiation exposure) and he's already had numerous MRI's so they aren't scary to him, so I decided he could just handle it himself.  And he did. :)

I'll schedule R's MRI today, and hopefully hear back from M's orthopedist soon about the tests they did yesterday. More hip surgery may be one of the options, it's something the ortho has already mentioned as perhaps being needed. M is stressed about the possibility of more surgery (and honestly, so am I!) and I've told him that unless they have a VERY good reason for surgery, and can virtually guarantee it will help significantly with his pain... we're not doing another major surgery.

Unfortunately, M doesn't have any good options with his hips. More surgery (if that IS an option), or living with daily pain waiting for the hip joints to deteriorate to the point they both need to be replaced. Neither one are great options.

On the bright side though...  I adjusted M's meds a week ago or so and he's doing well... more stable again and without the increase in oculargyration that I was worried the med adjustment would cause.

Also on the bright side... We are going to a concert tonight!! Our church is sponsoring a Matt Mauer concert this evening and we're going. :) It will be the kids first "real" concert and they are so excited... and so am I...I really like Matt Mauer's songs and it will be great to hear him in person.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Small But Fearless Defender Versus Stinky

It was Small But Fearless Defender (SBFD, aka Cody) versus Stinky this morning...

SBFD was both victorious and came away from the battle unscathed.

SBFD was lucky, it could easily have gone the other way...

Early this morning Cody SBFD was sitting up on the bed looking out the window that overlooks the back pasture. This is his habit each morning... he watches for anything that might be moving outside so he can bark at it.

(Once we are back from the barn early mornings are pretty dull around here, so Cody looks for entertainment any place he can find it.)

He lucked out this morning and saw this skunk out rooting around out back.

Cody was beside himself with excitement... He couldn't wait to get outside and save us all by running the little guy off.

All the dogs needed to go outside, but the skunk was too close to the backyard fence for me to feel like I could safely let them out...

So I waited for the skunk to leave... figuring he'd move on before too long and I could let the dogs out.

But Stinky just kept digging around, blissfully oblivious to the fact that he'd worn out his welcome. (His welcome had worn out just about the time he waddled under the fence and into our pasture!).

Finally, after 30 minutes or so of Cody watching the skunk through the window and going crazy, I decided it was time to "help" Stinky move along.

I was carefully sneaking (so no dogs could get out) out the back door to find a few rocks to throw at the fence (from the relative safety behind the big ponderosa pine), when SBFD streaked past me in a blur... heading straight for the fence.

I cringed... waiting for the stench.

Stinky stood his ground briefly...

... then gave up without a fight (or spray), doing his funny little run/hop across the pasture.

SBFD stood at the fence for a long time... making sure Stinky didn't come back.

It's probably not a good thing that Cody chased him off this time and Stinky didn't spray. It's not that I want Cody sprayed... but now he has no idea of the danger of skunks, and thinks he can just run them off without any problems.

The next time Stinky comes around I hope SBFD doesn't end up with this...

...being the last thing he sees before he's swallowed up with noxious skunk fumes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving on..

Sadly, we had to say good-bye to Brighty today... he moved to a different home.

He is a sweet and amazing little donkey, but had been alone... completely.... for years before we got him. As a result of being alone for so long, he struggled to get along with Murphy and Tucker and as the months went by, and he settled in more and more, he started having a lot of trouble sharing both food and attention. His trouble sharing food required both R and I to be on our toes when feeding. Brighty could be calmly eating one minute, and the next minute have his ears pinned back, biting or kicking at Tucker, resulting in Tucker jumping out of the way or kicking back.

Trust me... you don't want to inadvertantly get in the way of 900 lbs of Tucker jumping out of the way!  Neither of the donkeys would ever have intentionally hurt any of us... but the risk of accident was high with all the biting, kicking and jumping out of the way going on.

Brighty's trouble sharing attention was sweet, in a way... but also caused problems. If we tried to pet Tucker or give him a treat, Brighty might be fine... or he might pin his ears back and run Tucker off.

Again, the risk of accident was high.

So I talked to my KD, my donkey guru, and she knew of a woman looking for a donkey to be a companion for her horse. Brighty has always done better with Murphy than Tucker, so we thought this might be a good fit. His new owner came to meet him the other day, and KD came over today to help us deliver him to his new home.

The kids and I went along to Brighty's new place (just a few miles away) and helped get him settled in and watched while he met his new pasture mate. Brighty seemed so relaxed, as did Poco his new horse friend... I think it was a good move.

It was sad to lose him, but as I watched Murphy and Tucker eating together this evening... calm, without any drama, a picture of equine tranquility... I knew it was for the best.

We're sure going to miss him though...

Monday, May 16, 2011


The weather has been so strange the past week or so...  We had six inches of heavy snow on the ground before last week's snow was over, and it's been cold and dreary ever since.

The back pasture should start greening up now... finally... it's been bone dry all spring.

The sun is finally out, but it's very windy.  The front door has blown open twice since the wind picked up... once last night after we'd gone to bed. We woke up to a cold house, but at least we didn't end up with any wild "visitors" that wandered in looking for shelter.

The wind has Murphy in a tizzy... Usually when I go out in the morning he's at the fence nickering to me about his breakfast. This morning he was running wildly around the pasture, twisting, bucking, and scattering the donkeys... slipping in the mud and slowing down to get his balance... then off and running again. He did come to the barn to eat, but stood panting, trembling, and pawing the ground even after he had a feeder full of hay in front of him.

I stayed with him as long as I could this morning, talking to him and reassuring him, but he was still worked up an hour later when R went out and even shied (shy-ed?) away when she went into his stall. She spent some time grooming him and just being with him and he seems calmer now.

I think the wind is unsettling for people as well as animals sometimes... M has been unsettled the past couple of weeks...  having the basement torn up for so long, and all the workers in and out, has been hard for him. I hope the wind doesn't add to it and leave him feeling the human equivalent of Murphy's mood this morning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why I haven't planted the garden yet...

It's been snowing off and on all day.

Spring seems to be playing hide and seek with us this year.

The little pasture is a sticky slippery mess of mud... I can't wait to see how all this moisture greens everything up.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The sun is warm... the wind is still...

... and it was a beautiful day to be outside...

... and even get together with a friend for an impromptu knitting (and grazing) circle.

Making memories

Prom 2011

Saturday night was prom night for M and his girlfriend (like our youngest, her name also starts with R, so to avoid confusion, I'm just going to call her "M's girl"), it was her school's junior/senior prom and they went with a group of kids including M's girl's brother and his date, and a few other friends.

Because of the kid's needs we couldn't just send them off completely alone, so a few of us moms tagged along... following the limo through the streets of Denver, from M's girl's house, to the restaurant, to prom, and finally to the after-prom get together at the high school. The kids didn't mind us tagging along and while they didn't need us to supervise (they all did an outstanding job... so grown up and responsible) they did need us for more hand's on kinds of things... for example, M had an episode of oculargyration at the restaurant and needed medication for it, and they needed a bit of help sorting out the dinner check and getting it paid.

But anyway... here is the evening... in pictures. :)




The next one is a little blurry... but I'm posting it anyway because I love the looks on their faces as they smile at each other.



One of the other moms took a picture of M and I together. I think it turned out pretty good... although when  I look at it I'm amazed with how grown up he looks. My little boy isn't a little boy any more...


The kids in front of the limo... (freezing... there was snow in the air!)


... and finding out this was the last picture and it was time to leave for dinner!




Following the limo.... my job for the evening.


I didn't take very many pictures of the kids at the restaurant or prom... They were all fine with us moms being there, in fact they wanted us there, but I tried to stay as far in the background as possible.

Here's one at the restaurant...


.. and a couple at prom.




It was an amazing, magical (if long!) evening and I was so proud of M. He was calm, responsible, considerate and did a great job remembering to put his girl's needs and wants before his own.  Watching him and seeing how he well he handled himself in such an unfamiliar environment, with LOTS of people he doesn't know,  reinforced for me the value of all these years of homeschooling... and gave me a bit of hope for his future. (R would have loved to tag along too, but is just a bit too young... so she very happily spent the night at her oldest sister's house.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

reading the manual (part 2)

In which I take even more pictures of my animals... (as if you haven't already seen enough!)

Because unlike my children... they will, without complaint, let me.

Murphy 15 year old (16 next month!) Appendix gelding, (mostly) undisputed king of the pasture and possibly the klutziest horse I've ever known. He regularly trips over his own feet, and if there is a way to get himself hurt or into trouble... he will find it. His name is short for Murphy's Law... for obvious reasons.


Murphy pretends not to care what people are doing... he's above all that you know. But he does spend a fair amount of time looking at us out of the corners of his eyes...watching us but trying to look like he's not.

Next is Tucker, our 6 year old burro. If Murphy is the king of the pasture, Tucker is, without question, the pasture security force. Nothing gets by him... approach our pasture and he's likely to stand at attention and snort a threat at you (running away if you get too close).  He prides himself on his wildness... but I know he's really a softy...he nursed until he was four (!), and he LOVES his morning hug.


Tucker on alert... he hasn't started shedding his winter coat yet, but with all the warm weather we've had he's hot... so he scratches himself on anything he can find... leaving his coat looking pretty patchy. He'll look smooth and sleek in a month or so when he sheds out.

And finally Brighty, our 10 year old feral burro... he was rounded up as a colt from BLM land in Arizona. He was without equine friends for most of his life, so his equine social skills are poor (he ends up biting and getting bitten a lot) but he's a puppy dog with people... especially children. If he could climb up in R's lap he would... but he settles for following her around resting his huge head on her whenever he gets a chance.

Brighty goes for the shaggy look...


I especially like this picture of him.... doesn't he have a sweet smile?


Well... I've run out of pets to take pictures of, I'll have to start stalking the wildlife again for subjects.