Sunday, November 30, 2014

Georgia's 12th Birthday

Georgia turned 12 last week, almost right after her surgery.  (I'll get back to Thanksgiving soon, but I do like my blog to be in order!)  The day started early as all Elliot birthdays do.  Georgia's special day was also a school day for two of the three Elliots (Henry had the week off), so we all had to get up extra early to have time to open presents.  

Georgia was not disappointed.  She got a pair of light-blue high-tops from her Granny and Grandfather:

And a giraffe from her sister:

Gordy and I got her a new jacket:

And her Philadelphia relations gave her a cute pug purse and earrings.

From the Southerns, Georgia got some flute music (which was a big hit, pardon my pun!)

And she also got books, some money, a gift certificate, a cool sweatshirt jacket and some lovely cards.  

Georgia dressed up for school in her birthday finery:

... plus her large ace bandage and her swollen leg.  She chose to leave the crutches and knee immobilizer at home since she only had a half-day at school and Georgia was feeling confident that she could make it through without the help.

Twelve is the year that our kids give up large birthday parties.  When Henry turned twelve, he and I took a birthday trip to Baltimore and Georgia and I are hoping to do a similar excursion but this time to Washington, DC.  There are two flaws in this plan, however.  Free weekends are not exactly easy to find and then there is the nagging fact that Georgia got to take a two-week long trip to Spain last July which is considerably more expensive than a two day trip to Baltimore and maybe that should count as her birthday trip?  We haven't made up our minds on that one, yet.

In any case, Georgia had friends over after school on her birthday - but we made it clear that it was not a party and that her friends shouldn't bring presents.  

Later that evening, we celebrated Georgia again with a birthday meal of her choosing and a cake.

Happy Birthday, Georgia!  Twelve is going to be a wonderful year!

(Flashback twelve years to Georgia, aged only a few weeks:)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  We started our day with storm clean-up.  Our town was hit by the nor-easter but we only got about two inches of snow.  

We'll be having Thanksgiving dinner with Gordy's parents and I'll blog all about it soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pug Loving - Desperately Needed

I warned you about the Pippa Middleton overload  

and I wasn't kidding.

After a long week of surgery preparations, surgery and surgery recovery, we all needed a little pug luvin.

Luckily for us, Pippa Middleton was in the mood to kiss and snuggle.

This was a long, long week.  I had known it would be, but that still didn't mean that I was prepared for the emotional toll that comes from worrying about your child.  I don't think the whole thing really hit me until the nurse wheeled Georgia away from us and Gordy and I went to sit in the waiting room.  That's when my heart began pumping at a mile a minute, the tears began and the nausea hit.  The surgery was over in an hour, but my anxiety and tension haven't really left yet.  Consenting to surgery for your child isn't fun.  Since it was the third time we've lived through this with Georgia, you'd think that it would be old hat by now.

Kissing Pippa Middleton's soft, velvety head is fun, though.  And the girls and I took advantage of our 45 minute visit on Sunday with our new baby.

It seemed relaxing and wonderful at the time, but I must need more pug time.  

Yesterday, I drove Georgia to middle school, carefully folding her, her leg immobilizer, her crutches and her 60 pound backpack into the backseat of the car.  I was more than a little worried about how she was going to navigate the halls while struggling to walk though the crowds with all that gear.

Our middle school did little to ease my worries.  When I called the school pre-surgery to discuss the crutches/injury protocol, I had been told to report to the nurse with Georgia on her first day back to school.  But the nurse immediately passed us onto the guidance counselor, who merely showed Georgia where the elevator was and told her to arrange for friends to carry her books for her.  

The Guidance Counselor didn't make these arrangements, she told 11 year old Georgia to do it herself.  

Did I mention that our school has a No Backpack Policy?  So here's the scenario:  Welcome Back Georgia!  School starts in ten minutes.  We see that you are wearing a full-length knee immobilizer and are using crutches.  You also seem to have a very heavy backpack filled with things that you will need during the day.  Tough luck for you!  Go ahead and hobble to your locker (two floors below), balance yourself on your one good leg while you unpack, search for a friend to take your books along with her own to your first class and then arrange for similar assistance between each of your other seven periods.  Your backpack would be a huge help, but sad for you!  We don't use backpacks in this school - no exceptions!

You can imagine my annoyance.  Before the Guidance Counselor directed Georgia away from me and  towards the elevator, I reminded her (in my loudest voice) that she has my permission to take her time between classes, to wear her backpack if it makes her life easier and to ask for help (I may have said demand help) if she needed it.  I meant demand help from said Guidance Counselor, who I thought was not taking the entire thing as seriously as she should.  

This is not my first time at this rodeo.  And if there's one thing I've learned from getting one child through middle school, it's that no one - NO ONE PEOPLE - cares about your child the way that you care about your child.  It's up to parents to advocate for their child every step of the way and when that child gets to middle school, it gets a whole lot harder to do so.  Middle schools are notorious for wanting parents to be hands-off, which is fine if the school picks up the slack.  The problem is that this school very rarely does pick up the slack.  It's not realistic to expect an 11 year old sixth grader to speak for him or herself.  An eighth grader might speak up but a sixth grader will not.  How many eleven year olds want to constantly ask others for help?  And what happens when Georgia finds herself between classes and there's no one she knows who can help?  

And now I've gone off on a tangent and I don't even remember what the purpose of this rant was.  

Pippa Middleton needs to come live with us soon.  I need pug therapy 24 / 7.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Last Few Days

So how did it all go?  Well!  Thank you.  Georgia is three days post surgery and she is walking around -- slowly and awkwardly, but walking nonetheless.  

We left for the hospital around 8 o'clock on Thursday morning.  

And after a series of x-rays and a stack of paperwork, Georgia was given a bed in the pre-op.

At this point, all was still fun and games.  Georgia was in good spirits and she enjoyed exercising full-mobility for a few extra minutes by pretending to kick her father.

One of the doctors noticed that Georgia's birthday is coming up and gave her the world's largest balloon, which was tied to her gurney and followed her down the hall to the operating room.

Georgia decided to get an IV put in while still awake - a decision that she regretted when said IV was being put into her hand.  She further regretted that decision when the anesthesia was administered through the IV and the pressure she felt made her panic.

Our usual sunny child was not present when Georgia woke up in the recovery room.  Just like the last time when she had surgery, Georgia woke from surgery scared, anxious and in considerable pain.  And like last time, pain medicine (morphine and Valium) took awhile to ease her symptoms.

Things didn't improve once we got to her room.  The anesthesia made Georgia vomit multiple times and eventually the doctors had to add an anti-nausea medicine to the mix.  We expected it to be a long night, but Georgia managed to sleep fairly well.  The same could not really be said of Gordy who had to fold himself onto the pull-out couch.  At least they had a private room!

The next morning, Georgia and her giant balloon were released from the hospital.  We brought her home where she collapsed onto the couch.

And posed for photos with my parents:

It's been a roller coaster since then.  The highs included the arrival of some balloons and presents from friends, the lows included severe stomach cramps, exhaustion and one sleepless night (for patient and parents).

Things had improved considerably by Sunday.  Georgia was allowed to put weight on her leg right away.  She's wearing a knee immobilizer at night and will probably wear it to school tomorrow just for protection.  The crutches were abandoned pretty quickly but will also probably make an appearance at middle school since Georgia moves a whole lot faster with some help and she only has four minutes between classes to get where she needs to go.

We are all so glad to have this last surgery behind us.  Thank you so much for all your well-wishes.  

I'll leave you with a photo I took when Josie got home from school on Friday to find that Gordy had returned from the hospital.  

Sweet, no?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Georgia's Third (& Hopefully Final) Surgery

Today is the day of Georgia's third surgery to correct issues stemming from Amniotic Band Syndrome. 

I meant to write a long post about Amniotic Band Syndrome and our experiences, but I ran out of time. We go to the hospital in a few minutes and Georgia's surgery is at 10:45.  She's in good spirits and doesn't seem too nervous.  I'll post an update when I'm able.  It might be easier for me to post updates on instagram (you can follow me by clicking on the camera symbol on the right).

In the meantime, here are some photos of Georgia before (and after) her last two surgeries.  

The above photo is a of the original Amniotic band before surgery (it's that crease in her ankle)>

And here's a photo of Georgia right after her second surgery when she was six.

By this evening, Georgia will be in another leg immobilizer but this time she won't need a wheelchair (phew!).

Thanks for all your well-wishes, thoughts and prayers.  They've meant a lot to Georgia and to us all.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Game Night With Josie

Josie and I had some time to kill last Friday afternoon after her cello lesson.  Georgia (who is usually home and willing to play) was on a bus with her soccer team, driving down to Maryland for a tournament.  I had already made dinner and we had about an hour before we had to pick Henry up from his school van downtown, so Josie and I decided to have ourselves a Game Night.

Josie picked one of our old favorites, Memory.

Our Memory set has the faces of international children printed on the cards.

Back in the days when kindergarten Josie and I would play games together after she ate her lunch, I was quite good at Memory but since then, age and general exhaustion has affected my skills.

I lost fair and square.  For every four pairs of matches that Josie found, I found one.

I had better luck during the next game:  Snakes and Ladders.

This is an old-fashioned (and more adult) version of Chutes and Ladders.  This version has few, very tiny ladders and multiple, extremely long, heart-breaking snakes.  We usually bring this game with us on vacation in hopes that it will buy Gordy and I a good long time to sit in peace on the porch and enjoy a book (or cocktail) without juvenile interuption.  

It doesn't always work.

On this night, Josie and I took turns making it to the second to last square on the board before falling down the soul-crushing snake to the very bottom.  It was more fun than it sounds.

I think Josie eventually won that game, but since I was bored after 40 minutes of non-stop sliding, I guess you could say her win made me a winner too.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our First Snowfall Of The Year

We had our first snowfall of the year on Friday.  I didn't even know we were expecting a storm until Thursday afternoon when I was congratulated on having put snow tires on my car by the man at the service station who was pumping my gas.  He told me that I would be happy that I had put those snow tires on my car tomorrow after the big storm had hit.

And you can imagine my confusion because - HELLO!  I put snow tires on my car!  - isn't it Murphy's Law that once you go through the hassle of putting snow tires on your car, it doesn't snow all winter!?! 

I thought I was guaranteeing a sunny, dry winter season.

I went home and checked the weather report.

According to, our town was supposed to get 1-3 inches of snow which doesn't sound like a lot, I agree, but it's not a dusting either.

One-three inches of snow implies shoveling and miserable conditions to this non-native New Englander.

Gordy and Georgia were leaving at 5:30am on Friday morning to go to a soccer tournament in Maryland.  They were taking a bus with the rest of Georgia's team, so snowy roads weren't an issue for them.  I, on the other hand, had a whole day of driving ahead of me starting with getting Henry to his van at 6:30am and I wasn't happy with the thought that I'd be doing all that traveling over 3 inches of slippery snow.

I did what I always do in these occasions, I stressed.  And I checked the weather report frequently.

Henry, who after 14 years as a New Englander is an expert in a weather-related matters, assured me that it was too warm for the snow to stick and that my worries that he had neither snow boots nor a winter coat (long, long story) were unfounded and unnecessary. 

But I just haven't learned.  I'm a sucker when it comes to  They said it was going to snow - AND STICK - and so it was going to snow AND STICK.

I should have had faith in my snow tires.  Because sure enough, it barely snowed at all and the snow that we did get stuck only on the grass, plants and trees.  I need to work on controlling my panic reflex when it comes to weather... or at the very least, I need to listen to my son a little more often.

Although I still think he needs snow boots and a winter coat and so those were dutifully ordered on Friday night.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prepare Yourself For Cuteness

I'm so excited to introduce you all to our new puppy - Pippa Middleton Elliot.  Or maybe I should introduce her by her formal name:  Philippa Charlotte Middleton Elliot  -- Pippa Middleton for short.

Pippa Middleton isn't living at our house yet.  She's only four weeks old and she needs to be with her biological mother for another month, but Gordy, the girls and I had the honor of meeting her when she was three weeks old and then Henry and I went back and spent time with her last weekend when she was four weeks old.

She is so, so adorable and so very sweet.

At her three week old visit, Pippa Middleton was the size of a gerbil.

We all took turns holding and petting her and smelling her sweet puppy smell.

And we all took turns admiring her beautiful mother, Dulce:

The following week, I brought Henry so he would have a chance to meet his new sister and to wallow in her sweet puppy smell.

It was unbelievable how much Pippa Middleton had grown.  

We are thrilled to say the least.

We found the breeder in such a random way.  The girls and I went into a jewelry store in Lexington and there to greet us was the friendliest, quietest shop pug I had very met.  After playing with the pug for awhile and exchanging pug stories, I asked the owner where she got her pug (a little lad named Stanley) and she gave me the name and phone number of this local breeder.

The name and number stayed in my wallet for a year.  We've been dog-less for almost five years and the thought of starting back up again wasn't terribly appealing to me.  But then I mellowed and Gordy got enthusiastic and the children continued their relentless begging and we called the breeder in September. What we thought was going to be an inquiry, ended in the birth of one gorgeous fawn female (and one handsome fawn male) ...

and how could we resist?  Look at this face?

We love this breeder.  He's a hobbyist breeder and our experience with him has been the exact opposite  of what we lived through when we got our last pug puppy, Nancy.  While Nancy's breeder refused to allow us to visit her kennel, Tony has welcomed us to his home as often as we like.  Whereas Nancy came to us fearful and unsocialized, Pippa Middleton is held constantly and loved by everyone who meets her.

That's not to say that we didn't adore our pug, Nancy, because we did.  But if we are going to be honest - and why not be - Nancy had what could commonly be called a "unique personality."  She didn't really like people except Gordy, me and my sister Elizabeth and she pretty much hated children.  And while we found Nancy charming, she wasn't your typical pug.

We always vowed that if we got another puppy, we would only do so from a small, local breeder.  And we would guarantee that the puppy had been properly cared for and socialized.  

We bring Pippa home in December, at which time you will be inundated with photos.  Don't say that I didn't warn you!

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