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Homestead happenings: March

February 28, 2011

* Thank you for your encouraging comments last week on Col’s upcoming tonsillectomy. I love having my own little cheering squad, which may prevent me from showing up drunk at the hospital next Tuesday. So, team, who’s taking the first night shift? Tylenol-lortab combo given every 4-6 hours around the clock, unless there’s an allergic reaction in which case have Benedryl on hand and call the doctor’s cell immediately. Gasp.

One face of March

Another face of March

Whenever the tonsillectomy comes up Col either runs from the room, burying his sobbing head in a chair, or, he issues his party line, “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT,” then peacefully returns to piecing together medieval lego scenes of horses grazing under cannons.

Last night, on a whim that may have had a little something to do with the glass of beer I had sipped outside in the afternoon sun, I announced to Col that I thought he was going to do great at his surgery. He pressed his head into my chest and said “I know, Mama.” And then ten minutes later he was buckled over in tears.

Dan took him into our room and held him for a long time while he cried. When they emerged Dan announced, “Col has a request.” Everyone turned to Col, who was calm but puffy eyed and breathing in big gaspy bursts. “Col would like his presents brought to the hospital.” Col sniffed and nodded and transformed into a hugely mature, but still tiny person, who seems to have already learned one of the saddest and truest and maybe most freeing lessons, that even your parents can’t protect you from pain.

He later said, “I know this isn’t fair, but I only want Rosie to get her present when she gets her tonsils out.”

And it’s almost more heartbreaking—more than the raw sadness, anyway—when Col gathers up his courage like a small cloak around him and asks in the smallest voice, “how long is my throat going to hurt?”

Which is a hard question to answer, especially because all the medical professionals have taken special care to warn Dan and me not to underestimate the post-operative pain. “Two weeks of a severe sore throat,” one doctor wrote in an e-mail. “The first few days are hellish,” said a friend whose son went through it. “You don’t want to miss a single dose of the pain killers for the first week,” the nurse told us. “You’ll set your alarms so he gets his meds every 4-6 hours.” And then I passed out. (Actually I’m doing fairly okay. How’s that for reassuring?)

*** ** *** ** ***

::It’s March and it feels like March here in the Southwest.

::The sun is creeping into places that have been draped in blue-grey shadows for months.

::The Great Antler Giveaway was highly successful. Every antler in the pile was taken. Even the chalky, old, bleached out ones which crumbled in your hand. Even the box of assorted antler pieces, from which Dan had already cut off tips and sections. Apparently Dan even snuck a few choice antlers out of his own pile.

She got antlers for her great-grandson to make an antler chandelier.

They got antlers for a mentally ill family member who beads antlers as therapy.

People took antlers to paint them, to display jewelry on, to decorate their houses and gardens, for craft projects, and because “my husband collects them.” From my husband to your husband, sucker.

::Now that it’s warming up and everyone’s creeping out of their homes, we’re starting to see the folks who live downstairs much more. The four of them are the poster children for successful communal living. Despite not knowing each other before moving in, they’ve created this amazing village of friendship and shared, garlicky meals (we can smell it upstairs!). They whip up collaborative sushi parties at 9pm, which is the same time that all of my brain matter has slithered out my ears (but sometimes I can be roused for a plate of sushi). They all also happen to be charmed and amused by the two little people on the property; and they babysit. I love them.

Caroline from North Carolina, who puts on a great dance party for the six and under set.

Naima, who the kids adore, and who brings a stack of art supplies when she comes over.

::It’s very exciting when Col and Rose get to sift through Dan’s special things, like turkey feathers.

Someday, Dan hopes to make his own arrows using these feathers for fletching.

::Apparently meals around here are clothing optional, and animals are welcome. (How do you like our ipod, I mean mp3 player, okay, I mean boombox that my grandma once owned, in the background).

::Gratuitous picture of kale in the greenhouse.

::Swoonable coldframe innards.

So, since it looks like we’ll be spending next week at home on the couch, all day, every day, besides breaking up the time with lortab administerings every 4-6 hrs, I’m taking suggestions on engaging, low key activities for a 6-year old boy. Thanks in advance, you guys are the best.

I hope March is flooding your life with sun.



39 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2011 9:24 am

    Sending good healing vibes your way. I had mine out when I was 17 and let’s just say I’m really glad they won’t grow back so I don’t have to do that again.

    Your little Col is so strong and he will do great, especially with such a loving mama to care for him. I remember jello was particularly comforting to me for some reason.

  2. March 2, 2011 9:41 am

    I totally understand your mommy fears and focus on the pain. It would be my first inclination as well. Because all I want to do is save my children from pain.

    I’ve realized my best stories in life have grown out of pain. All the best. So, I wonder what it would be like to focus on how everything will change for Col? What would it be like to find a place against the wall to mark how tall he is so that the blog people can investigate if tonsils out means Col grows taller…hmm. Interesting to see and wonder.

    Do tonsils out mean Col sleeps better? How do you measure sleep? Could he get a dream journal you could do together and draw/write his dreams?

    They may not even be real measures, but they take the focus away from the knife and place it somewhere else. On the heroe’s journey. He’s a hero here. Why is he taking this journey? What are you hoping to find in this empty throat? My hope is that, with this changed focus, his wonderful imagination will go to magnificent places. But you probably already do tons of this and we just don’t hear as much about this because it’s not what keeps you up at night.

    In the early days of recuperation? I would want to listen to my Mama sing, “Here Comes the Sun, doo en doo da.” and feel it on my back. Do you know this song?

  3. March 2, 2011 10:05 am

    Good luck to you, your family and especially Col. I’m sending healing vibes to him!

    My best friend just had her tonsils out at 25 years old and she said that the first day was the worst and then about 5 days later it was really bad again for one day, but then it got a lot better. She believes it got worse that day because the scabs came off? She isn’t sure, but I just thought I would share that with you so that if he had a very bad day after a few not so bad days, you wouldn’t worry as much.

  4. March 2, 2011 10:05 am

    Haaaahaha, we have almost the same “MP3 player.” I’m raising my kids in the stone ages.

  5. Ami permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:21 am

    Love your posts, Rachel. I was wondering if you would message me with your address? I would like to send Col a present for being so brave. It would just be a re-gifted something (Trust me, I’m not into crappy stuff, either) but it’d be cool! :) ?????

  6. March 2, 2011 10:24 am

    I don’t know why, but the line, “From my husband to your husband, sucker,” literally made me laugh out loud, for quite some time. I’m glad the de-antlering was such a rousing success!

    I have seen a few posts lately about making your own “I Spy bottles,” like this one at Counting Coconuts: Seems like it might be a nice pastime for a reclining and recovering six year old. I’ll be thinking of you and Col next week!

  7. Kathy permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:32 am

    Hi again Rachel, just wondering how your supply of frozen fruit pops and ice cream is…….cuz that’s “the carrot at the end of the stick” for Col. Somehow I think I would have more rememberances of this 5 yr old experience, so the fact that I don’t assures me that Col will do fine…….and I doubt he will be reclining for long after.
    I will be thinking of you and Col, not to exclude Rose and Dan of course…..and sending my love and healing thoughts your way. Best, Kathy

  8. March 2, 2011 10:49 am

    I have little people, too, but haven’t had to endure any surgeries. Am sending Col all the healing vibes I can muster. Love from Iowa

  9. March 2, 2011 11:11 am

    dominoes baby, dominoes… and lots of love and patience and faith… it’ll be fine, and the end of the rainbow will be LESS sickness down the road…

  10. Barb permalink
    March 2, 2011 11:13 am

    one of my very earliest memories at age 4 is going to the hospital with my brother Michael (then age 6) so we could both have our tonsils out (1959, i guess the era when all kids had them out). vivid memories include: sharing a room with him, falling asleep before surgery (that is I remember they said now i would go to sleep), getting some good presents even while in the hospital (we were at least there overnight), and eating LOTs of ice cream when we went home. No memories of fear or pain. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t any, but that’s not what i remember.

    I have finally, after lo these many (many) months, actually put a package in the mail to you guys. Reallyy! Seemed like good timing, various diversions and distractions for all to divide and share. Note that nothing is wrapped, so your call to open in front of kids or not.

    hugs all around, barb

  11. March 2, 2011 11:24 am

    Swoonable greens indeed.
    I was 7 when I had my tonsils removed. Buy tons of popsicles. Find some juice hippie ones and have fruit smoothie ingredients on hand. (no milk) My mom let me eat my fill of these. And jello. So much jello. Maybe that’s why it grosses me out now? I’ll bet you could use grass fed gelatin & good juice to make some decent stuff…. anyway… the important thing is that I totally remember eating some chewable grape tylenol & watching tons of tv. But that’s it. I was bored & driving my parents nuts within 48 hours. I know, I asked my mom the other day. And that is after a week IN the hospital of dr’s trying to figure out what was wrong with me…. long story short they told my poor mom (my dad was out of town driving long haul/truck) that I had some rare sort of cancer. She thought I was going to die. It ended up being a rare (though not serious) abscessed tonsil thing…. gross, but not life threatening. (again, my poor mama!) I do think Col will do very well…. of course I totally hope he milks this for all it’s worth. You know, good presents at the hospital and perhaps a little bell to ring when he needs another popsicle ;)

  12. March 2, 2011 11:47 am

    sending you all loads of love, rachel. glad to be part of the cheering squad. xxoo

  13. March 2, 2011 12:01 pm

    Best of luck to Col next week, I’m sure he’ll do great and be up again in no time!

  14. Barb permalink
    March 2, 2011 12:15 pm

    oh the bell! how could i forget it? we definitely had a little bell to ring when we needed…. anything at all. Not sure how many days we were allowed to keep it. I vote for a bell for Col.

  15. mama meredith permalink
    March 2, 2011 12:24 pm

    Hi Rachel and Co!

    I have to confess your blog has become my little obsession… I love it! I literally laugh out loud, and almost always tear up or all out cry. I read bits out loud to my husband and children. Thank you, Rachel. It’s such a joy to share in your family.
    And, much love to Col on his big, up-coming day!


  16. Rachel Kohnen permalink
    March 2, 2011 12:33 pm

    Little tears spring to my eyes for Col’s dilemma. How do we explain to little ones that sometimes getting better means you hurt first?
    I had the very same boombox in red…Ian commandeered it. He starts his CD every morning and air-guitars while getting dressed for bed!

  17. March 2, 2011 12:47 pm

    Everyone has their tonsils around these parts but we have had this year’s Missoula Crud lately, which involves the most painful throat I have ever experienced. My kids only get to watch a movie on Saturday night but when they are sick I don’t hold back. Some favorites (that won’t drive the parents berserk): My Neighbor Totero, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Planet Earth, Ponyo, Disney’s Robin Hood, and Charlotte’s Web. A truckload of library books (for you to read of course) wouldn’t hurt either. Good luck guys.
    Also, children’s ibuprofen comes in dyed and un-dyed and because I am a hippie-mama as well I replenished our stock with the un-dyed, and let me just say that the crowd was not pleased. Apparently medicine is WAY more fun if it is day-glo pink.

  18. abozza permalink
    March 2, 2011 1:15 pm

    My Julia had her tonsils and adenoids out, together, when she was 5. They prepared us for a two week recovery. By the next morning, we were fighting to keep her in bed, because she felt just fine. This, even after the surgery went 45 minutes longer than planned because she, apparently, had the tonsils of a 55 year old, 300 pound man that needed a lot of work to get out. So, take heart…it could be just fine!!!

  19. Chris permalink
    March 2, 2011 1:32 pm

    Sending good thoughts and healing vibes to Col. Tell him his fellow preemie pal Carolyn had her adenoids out and ear tube insert last January and did well. I know Col will pull through like the champ he is! And here’s to you Mama for being you–such a great Mom! Love, Chris

  20. March 2, 2011 1:43 pm

    I was only three when I had my tonsils and adenoids out and so I don’t remember the pain. I remember the popsicles and pudding and the like though. :)

    Perhaps the fact that Col is so focused on the post-surgery pain means that it will not be a shock to him. You know? Better than him going in without a second thought and coming out with a raw throat that hurts for a week or so. He is clearly a strong and brave little man. He is an inspiration.

    And I love the mp3 player. We don’t have an ipod either…or a microwave, or cell phones, or a tv. Yep, living in the stone ages. :) xo

  21. Kristen permalink
    March 2, 2011 1:47 pm

    Rachel – I feel for you. I wish I was going to be around next week to sit with you in the waiting room. Aidan had surgery when he was 13 months old and it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I will be thinking of Col and your family and sending lots of healing Reiki energy post-operatively. Good luck!

  22. Ashley Brass permalink
    March 2, 2011 2:06 pm

    I was a super sickly child when I was young, I had tubes put in my ears 4 times!!! and I also had my tonsils out…I don’t remember it being all that bad…I do remeber I was sooo hungry though cuz it was painful to eat….

    Now as an adult…I went to the doctors and he told me that I had inflammed tonsils….I told him I have them removed when I was ike 6….and his reply ” well in rare rare cases they sometime can grow back!” WTF> lol

    Children are vert resiliant as i am sure you are well aware of….im sure he will do just fine and rejoice in the popsicles and jello and gingerale!

  23. Barbara permalink
    March 2, 2011 2:57 pm

    Sendng vibes your way – poor sweet Col :( After Jenin’s surgery she actually preferred luke warm things and not freezing cold ones – lots of soup and mashed potatoes and tons of fluids (don’t worry if he doesn’t eat much as long as he’s drinking). Don’t be tempted to skip a dose of the meds – it makes it worse for them (trust me we did once). AND be warned that that medicine tastes really awful it was tough to get her to take it. I think you can do regular tylenol if he won’t take the other – just check with your doctor. She ate the same day she had them out but day 3 was really the worst. It took about 3 weeks for her to begin to feel better. Let us know how it all goes – I know exactly how you feel.
    Peace and love to you all!

  24. March 2, 2011 2:59 pm

    Oh, Rachel, I feel for your family so much! We haven’t had child surgery here, just some procedures, but it’s so hard for mommas. Cole is a sensitive, smart, little guy, which makes the fear difficult. I wish I had more ideas to help you get through the time before surgery. Maybe some art therapy? Lots of busy, out-of-the-house adventures to make the time pass and provide distraction until then? As for after the surgery, maybe it’s time to stock up on games. You could teach him how to play solitaire! I’m sure it will be tough, but I bet he’ll be active pretty quickly.

    Good luck! Keep us posted.

  25. Amy Mayfield permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:15 pm

    Healing thoughts to you guys! Col might like those activity books with the “invisible ink,” do you remember those? My kids also get a kick out of children’s CDs like Jack Prelutsky, Recess Monkey, the Frog and Toad Audio Collection, etc. If Col feels like doing a passive activity, listening to those can be a good distraction.

  26. March 2, 2011 3:32 pm

    I can’t wait for Col’s surgery to be over and he is on the mend! I know he is frighten for what’s to come..I keep him in my prayers..even when I think of him during the day…He has come a long way already, so there is some intent for his being that is in God’s plan.

  27. March 2, 2011 3:46 pm

    Children are so resilient – even when we can’t protect them from the pain, they will bounce back faster than we think. I honestly don’t even remember my pain from my surgery. The ice cream and ice cold chocolate milk however…

    Hugs to Col and you, mama. Hope March brings you more fair weather so you’ll both at least be distracted by the promise of new life around you and further exploration in less tundra-like conditions.

  28. Jessica permalink
    March 2, 2011 4:27 pm

    Sending hugs to your whole family!

    A fun activity is making your own special homemade popsicles. Maybe add something that makes funny colors or stripes and some heavier stuff for floaters. Make them a day or two before so that Col has something to look forward to, and then make another batch and use it as a low key activity while he is recuperating. Maybe after hours make a special “adult” batch for Mom and Dad? Caregivers need to stay hydrated too you know! :)

    Another activity:did you ever have one of those elastic band looms that you could make potholders and such? It’s great on the lap, and the pieces aren’t so small that they’ll get lost in a sea of blankets.

    You already know this, but you’re doing a great job!!

  29. Steph permalink
    March 2, 2011 6:41 pm

    So lucky, you are, to have green edibles growing (and thriving, even!) year around at this altitude. As for anticipating the pain, some things that we dread are often worse in our minds as we anticipate them than they are when we are actually *in* the experience. This could be a possibility for Col’s recovery. He is, after all, such a trooper and has been so tolerant of so much throughout his life. As for recovery ideas, I know you’re not a huge fan of videos, but you can get a free, no obligation, 30-day trial of Netflix, where you can stream kid’s material (Thomas, Dora, and the like) over the internet on your laptop for him to watch. Best of luck to you guys! We’ll be sure to stop by with a gift for Col!!

  30. March 3, 2011 12:08 am

    Okay, I *was* drooling over your coldframes but now it is just plain making me sick. As long as there is still two and a half feet of snow in my yard, I might have to quit reading your blog for a while. (And I love snow.) Of course we have lots of sunshine, it’s Wyoming. But the only bare bits of dirt within sight are the dog turds in our front yard.

    Oh, and thanks so much for your two cents on our housing crisis. Your words made a HUGE difference in our mindset. Thank you, thank you. I, however, have no good advice to give you regarding Col’s up and coming surgery other than: good luck, drink beer, you made the right decision.

  31. March 3, 2011 12:14 am

    Oh, honey. Don’t you wish you had a magic wand to wave at *how long will my throat hurt* and, just like that answer in confidence *three minutes.* We’ll toast popsicles from our shore in well wishes.
    Loved *from my husband to yours, sucker.* I feel that way about the marine arsenal acquired dockside, street side, classifieds filling up our garage.

  32. March 3, 2011 12:15 am

    one more thing, turkey feathers should always be perused in cheeta jammies. love it.

  33. Melissa permalink
    March 3, 2011 12:44 am

    Puppets! Colored card stock, popsicle sticks, markers, glue. Rose will love to entertain Col with puppet shows and he can be the director. My friend made a box of supplies for Avi–if you send me your snail mail address perhaps I can score some more for Col? I am not so industrious or I would make the kit myself (:

    It’s so awful when kids have to go through this shit (and don’t underestimate what it may bring up for you and Dan as you move through it!) but Col sounds like such an evolved guy. I love the way he is expressing his experience pre-surgery. So healthy!

    Love the beautiful photos in the post but what else is new. Love your greenhouse greens. Sheesh!

    PS. Writing this comment from Berkeley–we’re in! xo

  34. March 3, 2011 9:53 am

    Have you ever tested Col for food allergies?

    I hope he’s doing well, I hope you’re doing well and that the sun is shining on you!

    Big hugs!

  35. March 4, 2011 1:12 am

    I remember when Emelia went in for some dental work. Not just regular work, she went under and had all 8 of her molars filed, filled, drilled (whatever they do) and capped. I wasent allowed to go with her into the O.R. and i remember watching her walk down what seemed like the longest hallway ever. She was so strong and did such a great job. I know Col will do the same, i think he will suprise you and himself. Don’t worry too much… And to keep him busy, i though of one of our favorite homeschool games. We get some sort of tray and fill it with all sorts of little things, plastic animals, rubber bands, coins, straws, anything small you find laying around the house. Show the tray to the kids and let them study it for a few minutes. Then have one person close their eyes and the other people take 2, 3, or 4 thing away and the person opens their eyes and guesses what is gone. Its so simple and Nolan and Emelia love it. They especially love it when they can trick me.

    Good Luck

  36. March 4, 2011 9:51 am

    tell mr. col that we will be making a batch of super secret purple passion ice cream just for him. from cows just down the road. purple cows.

    do you get pain killers, too? that would be swell.

    it’s all going to be good. deep breathing and blind faith and a touch of denial work well for me in the hospital setting.

    thanx for antlers…will send pics soon!


  37. March 4, 2011 4:13 pm

    I just love that image of Col emerging from a big cry, supported by Dan, asking of his family what he needs.

    Big hugs to you all —


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