Diary of a SAHD: Pain don’t hurt

I think I may have alluded to Anne Marie’s very weird pain threshold. We first started to notice it this summer. Once she got her gallop on and could run the street with her big brother and his friends she would fall down, as most of them would. Our Sac* is not breeding the next Baryshnikov, that much I’m sure of. Anyway, as Anne Marie would hit the deck and invariably take a chunk out of her knee she would pop back up and keep running. The blood running down her leg was apparently only a concern to her parents.

Mrs Frank’s Place is an over-reactor. I can be one as well, but in the Sac I play it cool. You know, retired military and all that. Don’t want to ruin my rep as a efficient killing machine/defender of freedom and what not. In this particular case I think I noticed it before Tracy did. It wasn’t that Anne Marie didn’t cry, it was that she appeared be unaware she had cut herself at all.

The hand is not the injury.

The hand is not the injury.

Man if Frank had cut his knee like that we’d still be changing his bandage and the neighbors would be tired of looking at his “boo boo” every ten minutes.

I offer this photo as proof of my son’s drama-itis.

This was Frank after surgery to remove a cyst on his right ear lobe. He was two I think.

Don’t get distracted by the look on his face. He’s trippin on the after effects of Versed or silly juice and his fourth banana popsicle. Note the bandage on his left hand. It was to hold the IV in place during surgery. It was supposed to come off when we got home that day. He wore it for a week. His left hand was immobile for some reason. He held it out like a wounded claw – for a week. His hand magically returned to normal when we finally coaxed him into taking the damn thing off.

I know for a fact Anne Marie wouldn’t react like this. I watched the docs and nurses poke, stick, and prod her for months. They took blood a lot. When they did, the dude in the red scrubs would slap a warmer on her foot to get the blood flowing, making it easier to draw. The blood people wore red scrubs, that had to be an on purpose ironic choice. After a while she would get worked up when she felt the warmer on her foot. After a few months she would get worked up when she saw the red scrub guys. But towards the end she didn’t react much when they stuck her.

I didn’t think much of it and I may be remembering it wrong, it was a bit of a blur. But when I watch her close her hand in the accordion door on the hall closet and calmly open the door and run off, it makes me wonder. When she slams her hand in the drawer on the coffee table she doesn’t cry, she looks pissed because she’s stuck.

The speech therapist and OT, and some other mom type experts in the Sac, feel like it’s something she will grow out of. The doc all but confirmed this yesterday when she went for her 18 month check up, 3 months late. Kids have a switch she says, at 6 months they have no fear then a switch flips and everything hurts. That’s true with Frank. He got the flu mist when AM got a needle in the thigh. She didn’t blink, he acted like he’d been hit with a taser. So maybe AM’s switch is a little delayed. OK I can buy that. That’s what the Sac moms said anyway.

It’s possible, the doc says, she did build a tolerance to pain while in the NICU. Sac moms offered this up as well. Maybe I’m paying the wrong people for pediatric care.

I am having a harder time with the pain tolerance theory. I always thought pain tolerance had to be a conscious effort. But what do I know, I’m a soft, middle aged, retiree.

The doc is explaining all this as she readies a pin to stick AM in the finger to get blood. Yeah, not a peep. Not during the stick, not during the squeezing of the finger to get blood to flow, not during the continual wicking type maneuver they use to get blood into the little midget container. I usually am proud during these moments because the place is filled with screams from kids being tortured. But her lack of response to any of it is starting to creep me out.

Of course I say all that but when laid on her back for inspection she freaks out. Needle in the leg, no problem. Nurse lays her down to check stuff out where there is no pain involved at all, not even a cold stethoscope, she acts like she’s being deep fried.

After the nurse laid her down to do the cursory exam, we waited for the doc. During that time AM gets my wallet out, pours it on the floor and comes up with my drivers license. Then goes to her bag and gets the keys to the van and heads for the door. I asked where she was going and she said, “Home!” She was done with laying on the exam table. So I watched. Just as I’m thinking no way she gets the door open, she gets the door open. Rachel who is a nurse practitioner really but doc is easier to say, intercepted her in the hall way. AM came into the room backing up the entire way, looking up at Rachel. I expected them both to be holding six shooters, the stand off was that epic.

Can't a sister just eat some ice in peace?

Can’t a sister just eat some ice in peace?

We are taking her to see her developmental pediatrician in a week. The lady has a fancier and more accurate title but I can’t think of it. Mrs Frank’s place will yell it out for the 100th time as soon as she reads this.

For now, aside from AM not knowing when she’s really injured and thus endangering herself even more, it could be a pretty cool super power. Especially in a cul-de-sac full of boys.

Frank, Bennett, Jack, and Grant, you fellas better toughen up.

Might be a new sheriff in the Sac.

*Sac – the name all of us on our street gave our cul-de-sac. We have t-shirts. Yes we are that cool.



Diary of a SAHD: One and done.

Well, getting down to it now. One small hurdle and as they say, that will be that. It’s been quite the journey. At times it seems like yesterday and then sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. 21 months ago we were blessed with this:

From my deep sea diving collection - the latest in incubator wear.

From my deep sea diving collection – the latest in incubator wear.

a 1lb 12oz question mark.

She was a question mark because we had no idea what would happen or how to handle, of if we could handle, the whole deal. We didn’t know what to do while in the hospital for almost five months. We were clueless to what issues we would be bringing home, or if we would even get the chance to bring her home.

We were lucky by most standards. We did get to bring her home. We left the NICU with a heart monitor and zero medication. Occupational and speech therapy awaited, but again by most standards for a 1lb 12oz micro-preemie, we got off easy. The OT was in-home and at a local facility once a week, speech was in home once a week as well. Our dance card was full for sure but it was an uncomplicated two step even a rhythmless bastard like me could manage.

As the months went by we shed the heart monitor, then the RSV vaccinations. A few months ago we finished up with the out patient Occupation Therapy, leaving only the in home therapies remaining.

Or should I say therapy.

She can't say Iggles! yet, but I'm working on it.

From a question mark to a 21 month, 24.8 pound exclamation point

Today is a big milestone for us. The speech therapist discharged Anne Marie today. Usually these types of things last until the 2nd birthday, 3 months from now in our case. But after hearing Anne Marie begin to speak in sentences and refer to her breakfast as eggs and sausaeeeg, (read that with an Italian accent), the speech therapist deemed her ahead of her peers. That’s her actual age peers by the way not her adjusted age peers.

Even looking at the pictures now it’s hard to believe that any of it happened. That’s the lifetime ago part. To see her at 1lb just doesn’t compute with what we see now. Just the other day I scolded her for throwing everything off the kitchen table. I never thought I would get to the point of scolding that little kid with all the tubes up her nose.  This kid we thought might be fragile, have development issues, be lagging behind her peers, yeah not hardly. Go back through the archives and read some of the stuff this kid has pulled, the weird pain threshold she has, it’s bizarre.

We knew Frank would be in for a surprise when Anne Marie came home, turns out we all were surprised.

The big one came when the speech therapist said it was time to discharge her. I was more ready than Tracy, but still it seemed very early for that. Liz, the speech lady said “Yeah it is, but she’s past all the goals of a 21 month old, we’re working on 24-28 month old stuff now and she’s doing that too.

Yeah I’m bragging, sue me.

Looks like her mother, but "The Look" she gets from me.

Looks like her mother, but “The Look” she gets from me.

So 21 months later we say goodbye to Liz the speech lady and thank her for her service.

Here is the extremely talented Ms Liz and her star pupil.

Another bonus for me, no frantic cleaning of the house on Tuesday mornings so Liz doesn’t find out we live like animals most of the time. Anyway, she was great. Again we were fortunate to get one of the best in the business to help our little pistol named Anne Marie.

I get that this may seem minor to y’all. In reality it probably is. However, one thing we learned, one thing that was ingrained in us during our time in the NICU; celebrate every step forward. Every ounce of weight gain, every ounce of milk from a bottle instead of the feeding tube, every hour without a heart or breathing failure, celebrate these things.

James said “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” The morrow? Bro we didn’t know where we might be by the next minute.

A new minute has arrived. So we celebrate.

Sue me.

Diary of a SAHD: Ten years and a tinfoil hat…A wedding story.

Today, 06 December 2013 , is the ten year anniversary of my wife staying married to me. Tracy doesn’t really get a lot of play here because the nature of the blog is about the kids. So here’s a few pictures of Mrs Frank’s Place.

Maui, December 8th 2003.

Maui, December 8th 2003.

1st halloween, October 2009

1st halloween, October 2009. Frank in The Dog.











Avalon NJ, 2013 with the kids.

Avalon NJ, 2013 with the kids.

Have you picked up on the theme yet? Mrs Frank’s Place hasn’t changed much. Sure she’s technically aged ten years since 2003, but other than that she is as beautiful as she was then, still the same out of my league girl she was then.

Hey I lucked out, I get it.

As I said Tracy dosen’t get much air time at Frank’s Place. Because of that and in honor of our 10th, the tinfoil anniversary, I give you our wedding day story. A here-to-for untold tale of two very different wedding day experiences.

Of course since we spent the day apart, I’ll write my experience from memory and make up Tracy’s experience as I type.

The wedding was at 4pm. It was December 6th. For all you college football fans you know that means we got married on the day of the SEC Championship game. The game would be kicking off during our reception. We half wondered if some people would skip the wedding to watch the game instead. No matter, we weren’t rescheduling.

So the day started off overcast and cold. Me, the best man – Mike Rogers, and Tracy’s brother Brad had planned to go golfing in the morning. We had to do something waiting for 4 o’clock. I’m not sure Brad and Mike realized the depth of my addiction. There was no way 35deg temps would keep me off the course. So we went golfing.

Tracy slept in. I think. Knowing what I know about her sleep habits now, I’m putting the house on the fact she slept in.

We get to the course and no surprise we have the place to ourselves. It was an unspectacular outing with the only memorable moment coming on the 18th green. It’s at this point that I should mention a trait that appears to run through Tracy’s family. When they get nervous, their digestive system not only fails them, it attacks them.

So as we putt out on the 18th, Brad putts quickly and runs off. Shouted something about the bathroom. Mike and I took our time, made our putts and then chipped and putted for a while waiting on Brad. We waited and waited. Mike finally says, “Brad seemed a little nervous.” My reply, “What does he have to be nervous about, I’m the one getting married?”

As it turns out, Brad was getting nervous about his role. He was giving his sister away. Their father died when they were young and Brad was representing the Rogers clan. Apparently that set off his plumbing.

So after what seemed like an hour, but was only 25 minutes, Brad comes out of the clubhouse. He looks funny. He’s missing a sock and his pants are not adjusted properly. He walks up hurriedly, “We have to go, now.” He walked past us moving with a purpose to the car.

Tracy was having a mani and pedi with her mom and sister-in-law Rachel. Not a care in the world.

Mike and I catch Brad at the car and I finally ask him where his sock is. He says, “It’s with my underwear.”

“Well where the hell is that?”

He giggles a little and says, “It’s in the trash can in the bathroom. We need to get out of here.”

Apparently his “system” got the better of him and he had to accomplish an emergency procedure that somehow involved his right sock and underwear. Clearly neither of those things would fit down the toilet so he pitched them in the trash can. To this day the events are as sketchy as the alien landing at Roswell.

Tracy and company are at the church sipping tea and having their hair done. Again not a care in the world.

Driving what has now become the get away car, we hustle back to Tracy’s house to drop Brad off. As he disappeared into the house I thought we might never see him again. He just lost two pieces of clothing and we were still 3 hours from the ceremony. In the next hour, say hour and a half he might just crap himself out of existence.

Mike and I had the car pre-loaded with our tuxedos so we head to the church. We catch up with the rest of the boys in an upstairs store room in the church. It’s not bad. I’ve dressed in worse places.

Tracy and the girls are in a big lounge area in the church having danish and kibitzing. Not one world care given.

My side of the wedding party is made up of 6 military members plus me, in our Air Force tuxedos complete with white gloves and swords, and 6 civilians in very nice tuxes with red flowers on the lapel. It was at this moment that the greatest line ever uttered in a wedding party was delivered.

Dan Anderton, a great friend to this day, watched in amazement as 7 defenders of freedom struggled with putting on our swords like it was a giant, unsolvable rubik’s cube. One guy figured it out and the rest followed his example. We then stood in a line of seven for a quick picture. Taking all this in Dan says, as he’s pinning on his flower, “Great, you guys get swords. How are we supposed to be tough wearing flowers.” How indeed Dan. It wasn’t Johnny Carson but it busted us all up for some reason.

We get into position in the church and the band is warming up the crowd. The band was all the people Tracy sang with in the church praise band. They were awesome and free. Huge double win there. The only paid musician was a trumpet player from the Knoxville Orchestra. He was bad. How bad? I’ll sum it up this way. Standing in position with Mike- the best man, and the Pastor, Petros Roukas, a Greek right from the Isle, the trumpet player did a solo. Pastor Roukas winced, Mike shot me a look, and then the Pastor says, “Are you paying this guy.”

Yes sir, we are.

“Ask for your money back.” Hahaha. The dude was awful. His terrible play was only highlighted as the all volunteer band was flawless the entire wedding.

Anyway as Mike and I stand at the front of the church, I can see Tracy and Brad all the way at the back through a door. They were laughing hysterically. I thought, yeah that trumpet guy was that bad. Nope. Brad sensed Tracy was nervous after she made several trips to the can, so he attempts to lighten the mood and tells her what happened to his sock and underwear at the golf course.

Worked like a champ. Tracy was not as nervous and made it down the aisle without tripping; one of her big fears.

Nothing calms the nerves more than a good story about losing some loyal clothing in a battle with your innards.

All went as planned after that except for one very quiet moment during the service. Two worlds converged when my father’s very good friend was almost immolated by the father of one of my best friends.

We had candle sticks marking every other pew in the church. My father’s friend Emil, sat in one on those pews with a candle. Emil was on oxygen due to health issues that would eventually call him home way too soon. My friends father, Tom, was sitting behind Emil. Tom bumped the candle stick and glass globe it was in. The whole thing started to fall forward onto Emil and his oxygen tank. Did I mention the candle was lit?

Although hampered by age and a worn out working man’s frame, Tom recovered in time to catch the globe and candle. For the next ten minutes you can hear this glass tinkling as Tom tried to reassemble the whole deal. All captured on the wedding video. My back was to this caper as it unfolded. But I could see my friends Chris and Tim as they were facing out into the church. The look on their faces made it clear. Chris was stifling a laugh and Tim was trying to move people and objects with his eyes. I thought, “Must be Tim’s dad.”

It was smooth sailing after that and at 4pm on December 6th 2003 in Knoxville TN, a Southern Bell and a palooka from Jersey merged families. And no one caught on fire.

So that’s day one in the story of Us.

God help us all.