Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to school!

I was going to post pictures of the first day of school a couple days ago, but my Internet was down do to some strong storms here in Chicago.

The first day of school was not the same for Mary and Anna although they go to the same elementary school. Since kindergarten is only a half day and the first day for the older kids is only a half day kindergarten starts the day after grades 1-5 do. Kindergartners got to come to school to drop off their supplies and meet the teacher and explore the classroom that day though. They got to see where they sit, where they hang up their backpacks and found their cubby holes. There were two other kids from Anna's preschool last year that were going to the same school as Anna and they are both in her kindergarten class, so that was exciting for Anna. Mary also got to find that there were a few girls from her class last year in her class this year, so that was really good for her since this is only her second year at this school.

Everything went well on the first full day for both the girls. Anna goes in the afternoon session (because the girl is not usually a morning person) but all morning she was asking how long until school starts! Jason was able to come home in time to come with me to drop Anna off. Grandma even came! This was a big deal for all of us, our little miracle girl starting kindergarten! There is a special playground for the kindergarten classes that is closed off, which makes me more comfortable with the whole recces thing. The older kids look like they would squash the littlest kids in school! The teacher came out, asked the kids to line up and took them away when it was time to go in. Oh, how sad for Daddy, Grandma and I. Anna barley had time to say goodbye. Some of the kids were hesitant to leave their parents side but I didn't see many tears from the kids. The parents; We all looked like the paparazzi with our cameras flashing (a couple even with camcorders), calling out to the celebrity children! It was a funny site, I'm sure.

Anna playing before school
Anna and her good friend Hunter from preschool, before school
Lining up for the first bell
Anna coming out of school, very excited!
Mary and Anna after school!

Thursday, which was only the second full day of school, was very interesting. Just 15 minutes before school was out, the skies got very dark and the Tornado warning sirens came on. I was told in the past that when there are weather warning, children would remain in school until the warnings expired. This is something that has never been an issue since I have had school aged children, and since it was only the second day of school I panicked a bit. It was very hard to be stuck at home without your children in severe weather. I was scared, Jason wasn't home, Alex was napping, and I had no idea what was going on since the girls were supposed to be picked up by Hunters father. Ben (Hunter's dad) called me to let me know that he called the school and they weren't going to let out of school, and to wait around until the weather calmed and the warning expired. I was nervous for the girls, especially Anna since they have not had time to have tornado drill with it only being the second day of "real" school (as far as I know they didn't practice this in preschool, only a fire drill). I pictured her crying and scared, and Mary being scared, but knowing what to do in the case of an emergency since she has practiced this before. Everything turned out ok in our area, even with the strong winds.

It was a mad house at the school when it was time for the kids to be picked up. Parents had to go to the office to sign their kids out, then the kids were called one by one to the office. There were lines and groups of people everywhere. I don't think anyone was really prepared for anything like this as we don't have very much severe weather in the Chicago land area. I signed out for the kids, and Anna and Hunter were the first to come out. I expected tears and strong hugs, but they were totally fine! Obviously the teachers and staff were good at keeping the kids calm. When Mary came out, however, she had the look of terror on her face. She called out "Mommy" ran up to me and hugged me tighter than she has hugged me in the longest time! She's still my baby!

They ended up cancelling the next day of school due to power outages in half of the districts schools, and unsafe conditions on the school premises. This was an interesting first week of school, that's for sure. Hopefully next week will be calm so that we can get into the swing of things.

Here are a couple pictures of some of the damage done in the area around us. This was taken in Elmhurst, which is just about 10 miles east of us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One Little Girl, One Big City!


My friend Jenny just sent me these pictures that she took of Anna at the Shedd Aquarium the week that Mary was in the Dells. I still have to develop the pictures that Mary took while she was on vacation, and I'll get those on a disk so that I can share those photos too!

Anyway, I just love the picture on the top of this post of Anna in front of the Shedd because she looks so little compared to that big city skyline in the background. Leave it up to Jenny to take some pretty cool pictures!

I love the look on Anna's face in this picture. I have to ask Jenny what Anna was looking at in this picture, doesn't she look like she is really concentrating on something?
Shedd, 4

I wish Brandon would look at the camera when someone takes a picture because he is such a good looking boy!
Shedd 3

Here is another cool one! You can't see Anna's face, but you can see her reflection off of the fish tank!
Shedd 2

Anyway, we are all feeling much better, just coughing up a little more Flem, yuck! Mary starts her first day of school tomorrow, for just a half day. Anna doesn't have her first day of school until Wednesday, and Mary will start full days on that day too!

I got a call from the school nurse one day last week as she was looking over Anna's medical forms. She wanted to know what they could do as far as making sure Anna was safe in her class room. She wanted to know if she should send out a health letter to all of the Children in Anna's classroom, and inform the staff. I told her that I already had a letter that I have handed out in Anna's past years in preschool, and if she just wanted to look it over and OK it, this would save her a step. I told her I would bring it in later that day so that she could have it ok'd by the principle and staff so that it would be ready for the first day of school. I had no idea that not only was the nurse waiting for me, but she had Anna's teacher on standby so that we could have a meeting about Anna. The nurse went ahead and read up on transplants and Anna's medication and had a few questions to ask me. I was bombarded with questions from the both of them, and to tell you the truth it was a little overwhelming just because I wasn't expecting it! I guess I didn't think that this was going to be a big deal, but neither the nurse nor the teacher have had a student with these medical issues. After much discussion I was comfortable with the nurse and teacher and it felt so good to know that they have so much care for Anna and our situation. We are going to be on the computer as a contact when any big illness is going around in any part of the school. They only usually send things out to the parents in the particular classroom of the sick child, but I will always be informed because if those germs are in the school; if anyone would catch them it would be Anna.

This is a letter that I got from a fellow liver mother that her son's school nurse typed up for the kids to take home to keep parents informed. This is what will be handed out to the parents. Here is what it reads:

Dear Parent/Guardians:

This year we have a student in your child's class who has had a liver transplant. She is healthy and active and can participate in activities along with your son or daughter. Some of the medication that he has to take to prevent her body from rejecting her liver also weakens her immune system and makes her more susceptible to infections.

You can do the following to help prevent the spread of infections.

Teach your child about frequent hand washing

-After blowing noses and catching sneezes
-After using the bathroom
-Before eating

Do not send children to school if they are actively sick with vomiting Diarrhea, cough, sore throat, or fever. Children should be fever and symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school.

Keep children home if they have had a strep test until you know that both the rapid test and the overnight test are negative or until they have been on antibiotics and are fever free for 24 hours.

If your child has a rash that you think may be contagious, please do not send him or her to school. Call your doctor for advice or an appointment. If your child or a sibling has been in school and is then diagnosed with a contagious disease such as strep, mono, chicken pox, conjunctivitis (pink eye), gastroenteritis (vomiting and/or diarrhea), please notify us as soon as possible. This is particularly important to limit the spread and sometimes re-infection of both bacterial and viral infections.

The parents of this student appreciate your assistance in making attending school a healthy experience for their child and all the children in class. We view this as an opportunity to continue to instill healthy habits in all our children. Limiting the spread of germs that cause illness is the goal of our whole school community. Thank you for your cooperation. Working together we should have a healthy school year for everyone.

So.......Yes.........I am feeling good about Anna starting Kindergarten!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More on Illinois Donor Diaries

Anna's story is now up on the Illinois Donor Diaries and the I am, Are You blog! Please stop by to take a look, and register to be a donor if you haven't done so already!

Sorry for the short post, we are all sick here with a nasty cold, possibly flu, virus. I hope it goes away before school starts this coming Tuesday!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dog Sitting

We are in our glory with a dog in our house! Some friends of ours went away for the weekend and we begged them to let us watch their dog, Baily. She is a golden retriever and a beautiful one at that.

It has been a little over a year since we had to get rid of our dog, Annie. Annie was a great dog, but we had to move into a place that doesn't allow dogs, we had no choice. It was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do, she seemed so sad, and the girls were heart broken. Thanks to my good friend, Jenny, we got Annie a great home where she is spoiled rotten! She lives with a single Man, he revolves his whole world around "our dog" and we are so grateful to him for that. Jenny even works with Annie's new owner, Paul, and she gets to see Annie once in a while. At first I thought that we would schedule some visitations with her, but as time went by I wondered if that might not be such a good idea. I started thinking that all it would do is stir up some emotions in the girls, and maybe even in Annie. Paul said that she went through a period of depression, being taken away from the only family she knew for 6 years. We are just letting Annie and Paul be happy with each other. Just knowing that she is alive and well makes me happy. You still can't bring her up to Mary without Mary putting on the water works.

Anyway, I forgot how nice it is to have a dog around. I don't think I realized until now how much of a dog person I am. Don't get me wrong, I love my cats, but dogs are just totally different. You have to earn a cat's love, but dogs love you unconditionally. The girls haven't left the poor thing alone since the moment she walked in the house. They want her to play all the time, we have to remind them to let her rest! We have taken her outside to play so many times, and take her for nice long walks. She slept with Jason and I last night, thank God we have a king size bed! Her owners warned us that she might not eat because of being in a strange place, but she is eating just fine! I think she likes us! I think we might not answer the door when they come home tomorrow night! I haven't even heard her bark once, my landlord would never know!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

While the girls are away......

Monday morning Mary left early for vacation, without us! She got an offer from Jason's cousin to tag along with him and his 7 year old daughter to go to Great America for a day, then drive up to Wisconsin Dells and stay at the Kalahari Resort (this is a hotel with a water park in the inside and one outside) for 3 days! Mary, of course, was excited. Anna was less than thrilled. Anna didn't think it was fair for them to want to bring Mary and not her! At first I actually didn't think it was fair for Anna either, but after giving it some more thought, why hold Mary back? It's really hard to give to these girls equally. When Mary gets to do something, Anna feels left out, and when Anna gets to do something Mary feels left out. Granted, Anna has not yet had the chance to do what Mary is doing this week, but it doesn't mean that she never will. She will get her chance. Besides, I didn't have to pay for anything, in fact Rob (Jason's cousin) told us not to send Mary with any money! Good thing because I didn't have any money to give to her!

I tried explaining to Anna that she wouldn't have been able to go on a lot of the rides that Mary and Samantha would be able to go on, because they are much taller than she is. Also, Mary and Samantha both know how to swim (this is probably helpful to know how to do at a water park), and Anna is not a strong swimmer. Also, Anna is really good at wondering off into her own little world, you have to remind her to watch where she is walking and to stay with you. When she sees something she likes she WILL beg for it and she is very good at arguing her case. Especially, I wouldn't want to give Rob the responsibility of remembering Anna's medication every day at the same time and measuring it out and all of that.

We are trying to think of fun things to do with Anna while Mary is gone. The day Mary left, Jason, Alex, and I went to the local public pool. Wouldn't you know it, an hour of swimming lessons with Jason and Anna was swimming! She swam the whole width of the pool! She is a swimmer now, I am so proud of her! Alex decided to get really brave this time too, and she was floating around with her arm floaters in the deeper water. We didn't go into the baby pool at all this time, she was jumping into the water to me, making me hold her belly to make her swim, and was having races with Jason and Anna! It was so adorable! Later that day Anna went to Grandma's house for a sleep over. Anna's Grandma made her favorite dinner and Papa and Grandma took Anna out for ice cream when they were done eating. A day at the grandparent's house is always fun for the girls!

Of course, that left Alex and I home alone because Jason was working late that night. Alex was less than thrilled, I guess I am chopped liver compared to her sisters. She always has one sister or the other with her, and I obviously just don't play the right way with her. She threw a huge fit because I didn't have any icy colds ( aka, Popsicles) for her, and because I wouldn't take her outside in the thunderstorm! I guess in a two year old eyes, they don't see the rain and lightning as a threat, they just want to ride their tricycle! Eventually, we found something to do that pleased us both. I painted Alexandria's nails for the first time! She felt so pretty, she said she looked just like Mary and Anna now! It was very cute!

"Alex, show me your nails!"

"Let Me Try to get a close up!"

"Ok, one ore Alex!"
Jeez Mom, that's enough!!!


Yesterday we had Anna's friend from preschool over, Hunter, and his little sister Maya. They always have fun together! Hopefully Anna and Hunter get into the same Kindergarten class together because he will be the only other one from preschool who is going to the same elementary school. I know Anna will make friends, and pretty soon it will not be cool for Hunter to be friends with a girl, or for Anna to be friends with a boy, but for now and at first, it would be nice for them to at least know each other to get through the first few weeks!

Anna and Hunter making silly faces, and Alex and Maya making silly faces!

009 007

Then later after they left we went to Anna's favorite restaurant, the Mongolian BBQ! This is a very good, all you can eat, put it together yourself stir fry. They always a good variety of meats and veggies and sauces. You put together all your favorites, and watch them stir fry it in front of you. They sometimes throw the knives up into the air, and do some little tricks, and they have a big symbol they gong when you throw a tip in the jar. Anna loves it! It is very good food!

I'm not sure what today holds yet as it is still early, but tomorrow my friend Jenny is taking Anna and her son Brandon out. Possibly the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago. That should be fun!