Saturday, October 31, 2015

Boo!

Happy Halloween from the Alway Family!


Ryder learned how to say, "Boo!" this month, and he's been popping out from behind doors and couches constantly, shouting it at the top of his lungs.

Too cute for words.

He has also learned that he loves candy just as much as his Daddy does, and it's really becoming a problem. Because it's really hard to resist those baby blue eyes as he looks up longingly and says, "Please?" in his sweet little voice, which comes out, "Peeez?" in his desperate attempt to obtain a single Skittle.

But one Skittle ultimately becomes many, and then suddenly it's 9:30 p.m. and my sugar high kid is bouncing off the bars of his crib, shrieking and throwing stuffed animals and blankets onto the floor, intermittently shouting, "BOO!" and laughing hysterically.

It can go on for hours...

Momma's gotta put a stop to this.

This is Ryder's second Halloween, and he was a little more aware of what's going on this time around (although not much).

Stewart had to work, but my mom and I dressed Ryder in an adorable little dragon costume and took him down to the fire station to visit Daddy at work. 



Afterward, we took Ryder around to visit some of his favorite neighborhood friends. We only made it to four or five houses before the dark, cold, and rain drove us back inside. But frankly, watching Ryder screech and run toward the door in excitement every time the doorbell rang was far more fun. He greeted all the trick-or-treaters with an enthusiastic, "Hi!" and a big smile, and then waved bye-bye as they headed off to the next house.


 He had fun looking through his loot and then we were all in bed by about 8:30... My, the times sure have changed since the days of drunken pre-baby late-night Halloween adventures.

Honestly though, every holiday takes on new meaning to me now that I have a child, and I get excited for dumb little things all over again. And really... I didn't mind getting a good night's sleep.

We hope you had a spooky evening!

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ryder Goes to the Hospital

Nothing is worse than seeing your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it.

 One day life was fine and dandy, and then, all of the sudden, we were rushing our precious baby boy to the hospital by ambulance, desperately hoping that life-saving measures would not be needed along the way.

 
Needless to say, the last couple weeks have been a little intense.

When our nanny's son was diagnosed with croup, we knew that Ryder was probably in for it.

What is Croup?

Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough. The symptoms are the result of inflammation around the vocal cords, windpipe, and bronchial tubes.

Viral croup is most common, and symptoms are most severe in children 6 months to 3 years old. The symptoms are often worse at night, and when children are upset or crying. The effects of croup generally peak 2 to 3 days after they begin, and in the meantime home treatment includes helping the child get rest and plenty of fluids, and assisting their breathing by administering cool, moist air.

Croup usually isn't serious, and most cases can be treated at home. However, for a small percentage of children, croup can be severe and even life threatening.

Unfortunately, Ryder was one of these children.

The Nightmare Begins

 
As we suspected would happen, Ryder was diagnosed with croup just a few days after his little buddy. He was given a dose of oral steroids, and we prepared ourselves for a few sleepless nights with a sick little boy.


He clearly didn't feel good and was very clingy and whiny, but other than that his behavior wasn't out of the ordinary. As expected, nighttime was the worst. We slept with Ryder to monitor his breathing, and often had to take him outside into the cool night or early-morning air to help him breathe easier. After a couple days, he seemed to be getting much better.

 

The Emergency Room

Then Ryder had a particularly bad night, and by morning his breathing had become so labored that we became seriously concerned. After speaking to the on-call pediatric nurse, we rushed him to the emergency room. At the ER, Ryder was given a nebulizer breathing treatment containing epinephrine (adrenalin). This came in the form of a mist that must be inhaled into the lungs, and we had to hold our sweet boy down while he screamed in fear and pain as it was administered.


My heart just about broke into pieces.


Luckily he didn't mind this breathing treatment too much...
 

After being kept several hours for observation, Ryder's condition seemed to improve (he even had a snack!), so they sent us home.

 The Hospital

Over the next couple days, Ryder's condition remained pretty much the same. He was sick, but no sicker than any other little boy with a nasty case of croup. He had a cough and was struggling to breathe (at nighttime in particular). We thought he seemed to be getting better and was probably over the worst of it.

Then another particularly bad night struck, and the next morning we waited anxiously for the doctor's office to open. She agreed to see Ryder right away, and during the next few hours Ryder's condition deteriorated rapidly. As he gasped for air at the doctor's office, the decision was made to admit him to the hospital. I was frightened but tried to remain calm as a special pediatric doctor was summoned from Seattle out to our little local hospital in Issaquah, where he was born.

The doctor arrived, and Ryder was admitted to the pediatric wing of the hospital. By this time he was lying limply in my lap, eyes only partially open, gasping for air as if it was the only thing in the world his little body still had energy for.


Emergency Transport

After just a short period of time, the doctor explained to us that Ryder was much sicker than she had originally realized. She did not feel confident that the local hospital had the staff or equipment needed to treat him adequately. Terror flooded my body in a slow, cold rush.

My baby was very, very sick.

A respiratory specialist arrived to administer a medical high flow air-oxygen treatment while we waited for the Pediatric Transport Team to arrive from Seattle. They wanted a pediatric surgeon to be with Ryder every step of the way, in case life saving measures were necessary during the ride to the hospital. I felt like I was gasping for breath myself as everything was explained.

The ambulance ride into the city is a complete blur to me.


I rode in the back with my sweet baby and held his hand while he looked around dazedly at the monitors, tubes, wires, equipment, and masked faces around him. As confusion, fear and pain flickered across his face, I've never wanted to cuddle him up in my arms so badly.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

When we arrived at Swedish Medical Center, we were rushed through a series of elevators and corridors to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. A team of doctors, nurses and specialists surrounded my baby while they hooked him up to a plethora of equipment as I watched helplessly from the hallway.

Finally, we were allowed in.

 

The PICU is a section of the hospital that provides sick children with the highest level of medical care. It allows for intensive nursing care and continuous monitoring of things like heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It also allows the medical staff to provide intensive therapies like the high flow air treatment that provided Ryder with a constant stream of warm, humidified oxygen combined with helium (a much lighter, easier to breathe gas). The respiratory specialist was also able to use this system to administer periodic doses of epinephrine (so Ryder no longer had to endure the horror of being held down). Additionally, an IV constantly administered fluids and regular doses of a steroid that helped relax and open Ryder's airway to help ease his breathing, as well as pain medication to make him comfortable.



The Days Drag On...

Croup is a viral infection, so there was nothing anyone could give Ryder to "cure" him. Instead, the medical team did everything they could to monitor him and make him comfortable until his own body was able to fight off the virus.

We were told it could be days or even weeks before this might happen. 


Ryder settled into his hospital bed, which meant that either Mommy or Daddy was always in the bed as well, cuddled up next to him, comforting, consoling, and whispering sweet nothings into his ears. For the first couple days he was too sick to smile, speak, or play. He just slept or stared dejectedly around the sterile hospital room.

 

We all tried to get rest, either in the hospital bed or on a little cot set up in the corner, but it was hard because of constant interruptions by beeping equipment and medical staff coming in to check Ryder's status and give us updates.


Ryder was such a trooper throughout the whole experience. Finally, on about the third day, he really started to improve. Slowly but surely they began to remove some of the equipment as the doctor became more confident in Ryder's ability to breathe on his own. Once the high flow air treatment was removed, he really seemed to perk up and act more like himself.

 
 
Going Home

The hospital staff was amazing. The food was ok. The TV was terrible. The monotony and boredom became unreal.

 
Finally, after four days and three nights in the PICU, we were released so that Ryder could continue his recovery at home. I have never been so happy to see a smile on that little boy's face, as he continually repeated, "Home! Home!" as we packed up to leave.

It's a beautiful day to go home...

Recovery

Ryder is feeling much, much better. He still has a lingering cough, and is clinging to Mom and Dad like his life depends on it, but he's essentially out of the woods.

 
Admitting your child to the hospital is not an experience I would wish on anyone. We were all terrified and confused, but the doctors, nurses and staff at Swedish Medical Center really did make our stay as pleasant as possible.

Thank you to everyone who called, messaged, visited and sent their best wishes for Ryder's swift recovery. We know that your positive energy helped him bounce back quickly.

We are so happy to have our happy, healthy boy back!
 
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Does This Blog Suck?

I've mentioned before that a lost follower is like a gained pound, and I still feel the same tragic rush of disappointment and rejection each time someone quits reading Life As Always.
I noticed that I lost a couple followers this week, and now I just feel wretched.

 
 I've recognized and acknowledged that this blog has changed a lot throughout the years, and frankly I'm quite happy to leave the dramatic recounting of my drunken mid-20s behind. But maybe immature, emotionally irresponsible dating and theatrical, melodramatic, passive-aggressive friendship drama is what my readers actually enjoyed.

Wedding planning, home buying, pregnancy and parenthood definitely aren't everyone's cup of tea. And I admit that sleep deprivation and the addition of a tiny human who literally sucks the life out of me every day hasn't been enhancing to my creative writing abilities. Sometimes it's all I can do to slap up a couple photos and say, "Here's what we did this weekend."

So can I blame people for un-following me?

Nope, not one bit.


But can I wallow in self-pity and self-doubt about it for a second?

I'm sure gonna.

It's ultimately my responsibility to keep my readers engaged, and if I'm not doing that then I have no one to blame but myself. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do about it.

In any case, to those of you who have continued to follow along on our journey throughout all these years...

THANK YOU.

I'm so glad you're here, and whether you read every post, or just stop by once in a while to see if I'm still alive, thanks for sticking around.
 
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekend Update - Dentist, Ferndale, Football, Pumpkins

Once again, the Alway Family had a very busy weekend.
 
We started out with Ryder's first trip to the dentist!
 
The current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should be seen by a dentist within six months of eruption of the first tooth, or by 12 months of age (whichever comes first). Well, epic fail on our part I guess, because Ryder is 17 months old, but we do what we can...
 
I did some research and ultimately chose Snoqualmie Valley Kids Dentist for Ryder's first visit. Basically the convenient location and rave online reviews were enough for me. And luckily we were really happy with our experience there.
 
The lobby was filled with games and toys, and we were taken back quickly to a kid-friendly exam room way in the back (because I guess kiddos tend to make a ruckus at their first visit). A very friendly dental assistant went over Ryder's health history with us while he played with some toys, and she demonstrated proper brushing techniques using an adorable teddy bear with a full set of dentures.
 
Then Dr. Jenny Lee came in to do an exam and apply a protective sealant to Ryder's existing baby teeth. He did so great! Dr. Lee said all but about 10% of kids cry at their first appointment, but Ryder didn't seem to mind anything one bit, smiling and flirting with the doctor the whole time.
 
What a good, big boy!
 
 
Road Trip
 
Then on Saturday morning we were off on a mini road trip up to Ferndale, Stewart's hometown, to visit a bunch of his childhood friends.
 
We spent the afternoon at Joe and Jessica's house, where Ryder had a blast playing with their two daughters, and Stew and I got a chance to catch up with everyone.
 
Unfortunately this was just one of those trips where I failed at taking photographs, but I did get at least a couple good shots...
 
Ryder always loves his visits with Annette and Dave.
 
 
Seahawks!
 
And of course (unless it's a bye week) you're not going to escape at least some mention of football in my weekend update posts. This week we watched the game at my BFF Tara's house, which was fun until about halfway through the third quarter when the cable went out. The rest of the game isn't really worth writing about anyway, and frankly I'd rather not talk about it.
 
But here's an adorable shot of the Littlest Seahawk...
 
 
Halloween Pumpkins
 
I really would have loved to take Ryder to a pumpkin patch this year, but frankly our schedule and the weather forecast aren't going to allow for it, so it was grocery store pumpkins once again.
 
I think they turned out pretty cute!
 

 
How was your weekend?
 
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Club: Fire Shut Up in My Bones

I feel it's my duty to review all the books I read, even the terrible ones.
 
Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow definitely falls into that category.
 
It's pretty rare, but every once in a while Amazon tricks me into reading a book because of its glowing with five-star reviews. This was the main reason that I decided to read Fire Shut Up in My Bones for my book club, even though it's something I wouldn't normally pick up.
 
Darn you, Amazon.
 
If there's anything I truly hate, it's my time being wasted.
 
Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a memoir about how one of America's most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past.
 
Charles M. Blow remembers growing up in an African-American Louisiana town, a place where slavery's legacy reverberates in a near-constant wash of violence. Charles is extremely attached to his mother, a fiercely driven woman with five sons. Unfortunately she is not able to protect him from an episode of abuse at the hands of an older cousin. This damage triggers years of anger and self-questioning for Charles. Eventually he escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing. Finally, he briefly outlines the conclusion of his college years and his entrance into the world of professional journalism.
 
The first couple chapters were all right. I enjoyed Blow's writing style and the descriptions of his hometown and the people who live there. But about a quarter of the way through the book, I found myself feeling bored and constantly wondering, "So what? Why am I reading this? Why should anyone care?" I know a memoir is ultimately a collection of personal memories, but if you're going to publish them publically for the masses, I think the author should still attempt to create a story that is engaging and interesting to the reader. Blow seems to ramble on and on with seemingly no purpose. Then he spends far too much time on his years spent with the fraternity, graphically describing the violent hazing and humiliation he endures. He makes his point, but the length of this particular part of the book went way overboard and almost caused me to give up finishing completely. I kept thinking, "All right, already. I got it, I got it."
 
I admire Blow in his ability to recreate himself from a fearful, self-doubting little boy into an intelligent, accomplished adult, but I was extremely disappointed in this book overall.
 
I wish I hadn't wasted my time on it.  
 
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Monday Night Football

Here's the thing about having a kid: Sometimes you have to miss out on stuff.
 
The Seahawks played the Lions at home for Monday Night Football this week, but tragically I wasn't able to go to the game.
 
I just can't bring myself to leave Ryder with a sitter at bedtime! Frankly, he's never stayed with a sitter ever (besides with his Nana and Grandpa, or with a nanny when we're both at work), and the idea of it really stresses me out. I just can't fathom trusting a teenager alone with my child, especially to put him down for bed, something that I do myself 95% of the time.
 
So I had to arrange my priorities and give up my ticket.
 
My little brother was stoked!
My loss is his gain, I guess...
 
They all had a great day at the tailgate while I spent the day at work, begging for text message updates so I could live vicariously before heading home to spend the evening with my Baby Seahawk.

 
While they all headed to CenturyLink later, I chased Ryder around the house while attempting to keep one eye on the game.
 
And I had big plans for halftime...
 
The idea was to give Ryder a quick bath, put him in his Seahawks jammies for an obligatory MNF photo, and then quickly put him to bed. I was excited because my neighbor had offered to come over with a hot dinner while we hung out during the second half.
 
Ryder threw an interception.
 
He pooped in the tub.
Yes, pooped.
In. The. Tub.
 
Sigh.
 
That fiasco took a while to deal with (he also peed on the floor of my closet while I was trying to get him dressed), bedtime took about three times as long as usual (he always seems to be able to tell when I have plans that he can foil), and I spent most of the final quarter cleaning out my tub with bleach.
 
Luckily, the Hawks won, and my neighbor was still willing to come over later and hang out for a while (note to self: Get her recipe for crock pot phở).
 
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Monday Night Football a little more than I did...
 
Go Hawks!
 
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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ryder Goes to the Zoo

Stewart and I have been teaching Ryder to love animals as much as we do almost since the day he was born. And it definitely hasn't taken much encouraging; the kid absolutely loves all furry friends! This has been a bit of a problem when he goes running up to strange dogs at the park, though. We're going to have to watch that...
 
Anyway, we were super excited last weekend to take him to the zoo for the first time. It was a beautiful, sunny, fall afternoon — perfect for a visit to Cougar Mountain Zoo. It's a smaller zoo nestled on the north-facing slope of Cougar Mountain in Issaquah just a few miles from our house.
 
Although we had fun, the visit didn't quite turn out the way we had hoped...
 
Ryder did take a look at some of the animals, but he was mainly interested in eating snacks, climbing on railings, picking up rocks, and playing in the gravel on the paths. Silly rabbit...
 
 
The thing I liked about this zoo in particular is that it wasn't crowded at all, and since it's a bit smaller it wasn't overwhelming. The exhibits also weren't very large, which meant we were really able to see the animals up close and personal.
 
 
Ryder and Stew really liked watching the cougars, or "big kitties," walk around the enclosure.
 
And the white tiger was absolutely gorgeous, although the sign: "Watch Out — Tigers Spray!" made me a little nervous!
 
I thought Ryder would love all the big, colorful birds, but at this point he was much more interested in a rock he spotted along the pathway...
 

He did enjoy feeding the deer, though.
 

 
Stew said this is the closest he's ever been to a Bengal Tiger — cool!
 
 
Even though our trip to the zoo didn't turn out exactly as we had hoped, it was still a super fun afternoon and we'll definitely be returning to the Cougar Mountain Zoo... next time when Ryder is a little older (we might check out the Reindeer Festival this Christmas).
 
Do you like the zoo?
 
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