Friday, July 31, 2009

Health Snippets

I'll say from the start that I am thankful to be blessed with two generally healthy children. "Generally" being the qualifier for poor ol' Big Bro, who seems to do worse than average in the minor acute ailments category. But I have never had serious long term concerns about my boys' health, and I know that we are extremely fortunate to be able to say that.

That being said, July has been one of our busiest months on the health front- Little Bro's naive immune defences were no match for snotty colds and chesty coughs, whilst the one week of good health for Little Bro coincided with Big Bro getting a rapidly developing chest virus that made his mild asthma flare up enough that we spent a day at the GP and Children's Hospital.

Thankfully Big Bro has come on a long way since his first, and worst, emergency department encounter when, aged 10 months, he spent the first of 5 nights in hospital with oxygen tubes, a nasogastric tube and hands bandaged up to prevent him pulling out the tubes. He has also moved past his doctor-phobia of last year, which at times was a "you look vaguely like my Ear-Nose-Throat surgeon" phobia. He is even at the age where we can convince him that medical dealings are fun, with a bit of effort on our part, and the good fortune to have access to a great GP and Children's Hospital as needed.

We got Big Bro a toy medical set recently, which he loves use for role play games. It also means he's familiar with the instruments as they come up. Our GP was impressed when Big Bro told him "that's a stethoscope for listening to my chest"; maybe for extra-impressive value I need to teach him to say "sphygmomanometer"?! Big Bro is also at the age where we can brief him in advance about what's going to happen in various tests, yet not old enough to be freaked out by being told things like "when we go in this next room, the nice man will take blood out of your arm".

I thought I would share some of the recent cute observations from Big Bro:

While having an ECG (wires attached to chest):
"I'm plugged in and charging like a (mobile) phone!"

While using a spacer to have ventolin:
"it's a trumpet- toot toot!!" (this one was said when Big Bro was looking quite unwell and got a laugh out of our GP)

While wearing a 24 hour cardiac monitor (a little box attached to his chest by wires):
"I'm sharing {the cardiologist's} pager"

With each health event I've been adding to a mental list of helpful stuff to take to medical appointments, which currently includes:
-snacks, snacks and more snacks
-pencils and a notebook
-stickers and a quickly handdrawn sticker chart for multistep appointments,
-a bubble blowing set,
-a couple of picture books,
-our iPod that can play video,
and for Little Bro when he isn't the patient:
-sleeping gear and toys including a "quiet rattle", no tautology intended: ours is a small plastic bottle containing confetti; Little Bro has the infantile satisfaction of making noise, but it's not intrusive.

It sounds-and it is!- a lot to carry around, but it's a relief to feel that I've maximized my chances of two happy boys. And even when they're under the weather, they are still gorgeous and charming. But I do hope that come August, they can be gorgeous, charming and healthy.

Brighten my day!

What do you call this symbol?
According to Big Bro, it's a flower.
I love it!
Wouldn't you like an automated phone message to ask you to "please press the flower key now."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Random cuteness

While making bread with Big Bro:
"Yeast, you need wake up eat sugar, make bubbles!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reading the way to sleep

Goodnight Moon- Margaret Wise Brown
Time for Bed- Mem Fox

Our family has become big believers in bedtime routine. We got onto a bedtime routine in Big Bro's youth, when he wasn't a big fan of sleeping. Thankfully he is now a bit more appreciative of the "gift of sleep", yet we stick to our routine like limpets to a rock. Like the childrearing experts suggest, we do dinner-bath-quiet time-stories-bed. Although that is just the bare bones: Big Bro now has many steps between stories and bed: finish stories, have a drink of water, turn on quiet music, sing two songs, look at the family photo......... Our stories run to a program, too: generally 3 mainstream books, then one of a selection of bedtime literature to conclude. Though these days we appear to have settled on Goodnight Moon as our final story. We love it so much that we even have two copies (regular hardback and the large board book "lap" edition), allowing Big Bro to read one while a parent can read the other.

Goodnight Moon is the description of a bunny-child's room as he settles to sleep, bidding goodnight to his surrounds. The language is repetitive and rhythmic, winding down to a gentle finale that has all of us yawning:
goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.
Clement Hurd's illustrations alternate between detailed spreads of "the great green room" and individual items. The latter make for good toddler prompts as Big Bro reads/recites to us. As the book - and as the room's clocks- progress we see the bunny and his surrounds gradually drifting towards sleep: the light dims, the kittens curl up to sleep, the moon rises. Whilst turning the pages of Goodnight Moon hundreds of times (or more?) I've noticed small details: the copy of Goodnight Moon on the bedside table, the wall picture taken from the illustration of another Margaret Wise Brown book.

When Little Bro came into our lives I was keen to instill a bedtime routine on him, too. Feeling like a change from Goodnight Moon, I selected Time for Bed for his storytime finale. Before Little Bro was old (and alert) enough to have a formal storytime before bed I would recite Mem Fox's quiet rhyming couplets before tucking him in, but for many months now, Time for Bed has been appreciated by Little Bro in its full published glory. Its soft, repetitive rhyme pairs with the most beautiful illustrations of animal parent-child pairs settling down to sleep. Little Bro certainly understands what the opening of Time for Bed means, resting back against me and rubbing his eyes as I start,
It's time for bed, little mouse, little mouse,
Darkness is falling all over the house....
I do have one minor criticism of Time for Bed; you may well feel that this is political correctness gone to far, but I point it out because two friends independently commented on it too. The book climaxes (quietly) with a bedtime scene where a girl is being tucked into bed by her mother, who is very prominently wearing a wedding ring. Perhaps it's nothing, but my (married) friends and I agreed that it was unnecessary to perpetuate the stereotype of the married mother putting the child to bed. That being said, I do hope Little Bro and I continue to read Time for Bed for many years to come. And I am sure Big Bro will be spending many more hours in the great green room of Goodnight Moon.
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