Nine

Jun. 29th, 2014 11:59 pm
juthwara: (Chu)
IMG_0112


Last Saturday, Katherine turned nine years old. That's just one year away from double digits. I started getting body hair at nine. I'm so very not ready to contemplate puberty yet.

Currently, she's 53 inches tall and 60 pounds - long and skinny. I have a strong feeling that she's due for a growth spurt upwards any day now. She's solidly in Big Kid territory these days, and starting to show hints of the young woman she's going to become.

She still happily plays involved games with toys and plans out elaborate projects. She's a Minecraft aficionado. She loves sewing, crafts, science and cooking. The confluence of those things have resulted in her being banned from using flour unsupervised (a choice quote from the last incident: "But I didn't use it in my room!" It can be a bit exhausting trying to keep up with a child who has always had a talent for enacting projects that I had no idea I needed to forbid, but I so admire her creativity and ingenuity.

I can't believe we're going to have a fourth grader next year. Our Big Girl.

IMG_0137
juthwara: (Chu)
It was... not a great parenting day. More like the kind of day that makes you wonder if Medea had the right idea. But it was pretty amusing when Alec was wailing as I carried him into preschool that he didn't want to go to this school because "It has too many windows!"

He's in a phase lately where if he doesn't like something but can't verbal why, he grabs onto the first trait he can see. Recently, he was insisting he didn't like the Spiderman shirt I bought him because "It's too stripy and fluffy."

***

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike
juthwara: (Chu)
So Thursday night, I stayed up obscenely late finishing Katherine's dress. Then after I finally made it to bed, that special sensor that babies and small children possess that lets them know that since their parents are choosing to go without sleep tripped in James and he decided to join me.

Friday, I was foggy and tired all day, and the gnome inhabiting my sinuses had babies and they all tried to burrow out through my forehead with their adorable little pickaxes. Since then, there have been several nights where 2 AM has been prime toddler party time. Last night, Katherine got in on the act and I had the pair of them in bed with me, completely failing to sleep.

Which is all to say that I've been very very very very more than just a little bit tired, not to mention not feeling great. I DID manage to exercise several nights - 25 minutes Sunday, rearranging and vacuuming Katherine's bedroom on Monday, 30 minutes on Tuesday. But I haven't been managing to write, since the place in my brain where the words are is mostly a dull tired hum at the moment. Not to mention the fact that I keep falling asleep on the couch every evening.

Today, I walked around Costco, which seems sufficiently exercising, and I made myself sit down at the keyboard early enough to dredge some dried up words out of the corn stubble of my brain. All of the children went to bed at a reasonable hour, so hopefully they'll let me sleep as well and I can get back on track with this whole writing and exercising thing.

Quickie

May. 22nd, 2014 01:45 am
juthwara: (Chu)
I'm making Katherine a dress with the solar system appliqued on it, and in a foolhardy moment, told her that I might be able to finish it in time for her to wear to school on Friday when she has a no-uniform day. Thus I have no time to type. I'll post a picture when I'm done though, because such an absurd amount of work needs to be shared.

Exercise: Some sort of malicious gnome decided to climb into my sinuses and is attempted to dig his way back out with a pickaxe so I'm not at my best. 20 minutes on the exercise bike tonight. Nothing formal last night, but I made two trips to Target and went to the grocery store, which adds up to approximately two and a half Bataan Death Marches worth of walking.
juthwara: (Cooking)
I recently discovered the most wonderfully easy dinner - chicken gyros. I know the word "gyros" conjures up the image of specialized equipment and meat on a spit, but the magic of chicken is that you don't need any of that.

Ingredients:
Boneless chicken in an amount suitable to feed the number of people you want to feed
ditto flatbread
cucumber
tomatoes
onion
tzatziki sauce
feta cheese

Throw a couple pounds of boneless chicken in the crockpot with some olive oil and greek seasoning (the seasoning I use is McCormick Greek Seasoning, which I bought in the grocery store. If you can't find anything like that, there are about twelve million recipes for greek seasoning mixes available for the Googling). Cook on high for two hours or low for four hours. Cut the chicken into slices.

Warm up some flatbread or pita to make it more flexible by putting in it a hot skillet for a couple minutes or wrapping it in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for a minute or so. I've taken to using our Foreman grill, which lets me do several at once. Cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers into slices and finely slice some onion. Crumble of some feta cheese if you're of a mind to. Put some tzatziki sauce (Trader Joes makes an excellent tzatziki, but I've seen it in most supermarkets. And ooh, Trader Joes Greek Yogurt dip is fantastic on this too) on the flatbread, pile on the chicken, vegetables and cheese and eat, reveling in the knowledge that you've provided a hot meal with about five minutes of prep time. I've served this three times in the past three weeks and so far nobody has started pelting me with pitas when I announce we're having it yet again.


****

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike - I was sick today, so I feel pretty damn heroic doing that much
juthwara: (Chu)
As I've said several times in the past, it's always been difficult to know how well Katherine reads. Her school has been extraordinarily patient with her performance anxiety when it comes to reading and writing (the writing issue has led to us to decide to have her formally tested for learning disabilities), and she's definitely made a significant amount of progress this year. She actually admits that she can read a bit now, for instance. She's even been occasionally willing to read out loud in class.

But the biggest sign of progress yet came this evening. She wants to have a sleepover, and I've told her she can't do that until she can go to sleep without one of us sitting with her (she was the lucky inheritor of my childhood fear of the dark). Tonight, she decided to try going to sleep on her own, and she decided to try reading to help herself fall asleep.

Reading for pleasure and falling asleep on her own. Our big girl.

***

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike
juthwara: (Chu)
This evening, I was making Alec take a few bites of dinner before being excused. He had taken three bites, and I asked him to take two more, then asked him if he had taken three bites and then took two more, how many would he have taken? He took a bite, then said, "Five."

He was evaluated for a speech delay earlier this year and the evaluation report came back reporting fairly limited math skills for his age. I'm thinking they were a bit off on that.

****

At James's two-year appointment, he weighed in at 24 pounds, 3 ounces. That's no weight gain at all from his previous doctor's appointment six weeks earlier (when we took him in after he had been throwing up for two weeks straight, so you would think once the vomiting stopped, he would put some weight back on). And it's around the 5th percentile for weight, when he's over 50th percentile for height. This is somewhat worrisome.

Now mind you, I don't think he's ever managed to crack the 35 percentile for weight, but a drop in weight gain curve from the 30th to 5th percentile is still not something you want to see. It could be quite likely he just takes after his father, who was six feet tall and 140 pounds when we met, and could be legitimately accused of being able to disappear by turning sideways. But meanwhile, we're working hard on getting more fattening foods into him.

I had thought we were doing pretty well on that front. But as it turns out, while we were giving him lots of fat and protein, closer attention to what he actually eats revealed that our toddler is attempting to turn himself into an herbivore. All of the nice fattening cheese or sunflower butter sandwiches in the world won't matter if he plows his way through a plate of apple slices first.

It seems silly to complain that my child likes fruits and vegetables too much, but he really does need fat and protein to grow properly too. I didn't realize the extent of the problem until the other day when he threw a cheese stick on the ground and came over to me to beg for lettuce.

Good lord child, that's just weird.

Anyway, I'm giving him less plant matter so he can't fill up on that and making a bigger effort to get him to drink milk. I haven't pushed cow's milk much because he's not incredibly fond of it and if he doesn't drink enough liquid, he comes to me to make up for it. I've partially solved that by adding hot chocolate powder to his morning milk, which both make it more appealing and adds calories. I've started giving him cheese sticks as a default snack and putting cream cheese on his morning toast. And there's always direct injections of lard. We'll fatten up our little piggy yet.

***

Exercise: twenty minutes on exercise bike, 11000 steps per pedometer (thank you James, for deciding to do laps around the bookstore this evening)
juthwara: (Chu)
Alec to [livejournal.com profile] longstrider as we were dropping him off at work yesterday:
"Bye Daddy! We miss you! Happy Mother's Day!"

He brought home two Mother's Day presents for me from preschool, about which he is absurdly proud. In one of them, he describes me as being 100 pounds and taller than a crayon. He's not technically wrong about my height, mind you, but it does give me the mental image of him seeing me as being extremely short and squat.


Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike, and I feel downright heroic because I was three quarters asleep on the couch before I remembered I needed to exercise and yet I still hauled myself up and did it.
juthwara: (Chu)
* After nearly seven years on the job, I was informed out of the blue last week that I'm getting a raise! It's the first for all of the museum workers in ten years. It's still an absurdly low pay rate for someone with a master's degree, mind you but they will no longer have to give us a raise if Obama is able to get the minimum wage raised as high as he wants. I won't hear about the scandalously low average pay of fast food workers and think I'd like to get paid that much. And it will be an extra hundred dollars a month, which will definitely help.

* School ends in a month, and I'm extremely happy that both Katherine and Alec will be going to the same day camp this year. They'll have a great time, of course. Katherine will get to reunite with her summertime friends and Alec will learn how to swim, but mostly I'm just selfishly enjoying the fact that they'll both be out of the house five days a week and that I'll only have one place to drop off and pickup.

[livejournal.com profile] longstrider's aunt has been paying for camp, and every year I tell myself not to count on it, that it's a huge amount of money and we're incredibly grateful for what she's already given us. This year, when we got the camp materials, we discussed sending Alec to Katherine's camp instead of his preschool's summer program since it would make life easier and because we thought Alec and his preschool need a break from each other (it hasn't been a great year in preschool for Alec, but that's another post). But that added another couple thousand dollars to the cost and I was hesitant to suggest it. Then [livejournal.com profile] longstrider called his aunt and she said, "I was thinking that it should be time for camp materials to arrive, and maybe you'd like Alec to attend the same camp as Katherine this year," before we even said anything. So that was easy.

[livejournal.com profile] longstrider's uncle ran a summer camp for many years, and I can't think of a better way to honor his memory than to send his great nieces and nephews to camp. I'm just grateful we get to benefit from that.

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike (and the only that got me on it tonight was not wanting to punk out on the second day. See, it's working!)
juthwara: (Chu)
Two days ago was the eleventh anniversary of this blog. Once upon a time, believe it or not, I regularly posted every other day.

I never meant to not so much drift as gallop away from blogging, and I keep trying to find my way back. It occurred to me recently that when I first started, I used blogging partially as a way to be publicly accountable for my personal goals - exercise, productivity, healthy eating and cooking. I don't feel up to keeping track of all of those things at once, but I desperately need to start exercising again, so keeping track of exercise here dovetails nicely into wanting to blog more in general.

Supposedly it takes 30 days to form a habit. My particular habit is dropping habits even when I've been at them for a while, but it's still worth a try to do this for 30 days to see if I can either successfully restart exercise or blogging. I've managed to exercise four out of the past five days, so that may be the one that sticks, but we shall see.

So here it goes:


Exercise: 25 minutes exercise bike
juthwara: (Chu)
Last Monday night, Luna was acting weird. In the past, she's come onto my bed and loudly demanded attention at bedtime, but it's usually in the winter (and I usually wind up kicking her out so her incessant meowing doesn't wake the baby). But despite it being a warm night, she was all up in my face, demanding attention. The next day, both she and Lily seemed out of sorts. I kept finding them places that I don't normally see them during the day, like they didn't quite know what they should do with themselves. And that's when I put it together that 1) I hadn't seen Sonya all day and 2) I had found the patio door open a bit last night, but didn't have time to go check the yard for escaped cats because I was putting the boys to bed.

Oh no. Not again. Since she disappeared for a month five years ago, we've been so, so careful to keep her inside. But with not only our own children but neighbor children running in and out of the house, it gets hard to be certain that every door is closed as tightly as it should be (particularly since James figured out how to open the patio door and waltz out unsupervised into the backyard. Aiee!). And now she's much older and been getting skinny lately, so she doesn't have that layer of fat to help her survive without food for a while.

Fortunately, the difference between this house and the house she escaped from before is that while that house had a heavily-trafficked alley in back, this house has a nice yard that borders about 7 other unfenced yards, creating a nice large semi-wild area for a cat to explore safely without having to wander further afield. So last night, we turned the porch lights on to try to attract her and hoped for the best. Sure enough, as I was putting Katherine to sleep, I heard meowing and ran outside to the front of the house just in time to see a cat vanish under the car. I looked underneath and lo! There was an unhappy Sonya who was thrilled to come to me and go back inside. She then spent the rest of the evening cuddling with us and remarking her territory, since she had been gone an entire day and therefore had to reestablish herself in the cat hierarchy. She also had to collect a large number of small stuffed animals to leave on the landing of the stairs for some obscure cat reason.

Oh, what a relief. She just turned 13, and I'm becoming acutely aware of the fact that she probably doesn't have too many years left. But I'm not ready to lose our Sonya yet.
juthwara: (Chu)
* Last month, [livejournal.com profile] longstrider's union voted to approve their first contract since 2009. A good contract, even, with none of the nonsense like unlimited furlough days that had made them understandably balk before.

So [livejournal.com profile] longstrider is getting a raise, and has raises guaranteed for two more years. Yippee! I had almost forgotten what it's like to have our income go up.

* We got to go see a movie in the theatre last month. And it was rated higher than PG! Captain America, to be specific. Good golly, that was a great movie. And [livejournal.com profile] longstrider and I both have Friday off, so we could conceivably abandon our children at the baby warehouse and go see another movie. The mind boggles.

* That the elderly man who came into my library last weekend and told us he needed to drink a lot of water because of a medical procedure did not then actually tell us about said medical procedure. Because last year, he came in and started telling us the world's most boring and convoluted story about slipping on the ice. I had managed to mostly tune him out despite the fact that his indoor voice is only slightly quieter than a jet engine, when suddenly I heard "And then they stuck a needle in my male organ!" Then he went on to say he didn't know why they would stick a needle in his penis and since he was in a Catholic hospital, maybe it was because he's not Catholic?

That... certainly gives a hair-raising impression of Catholic hospitals, no? Of course, the last two times I've been in a Catholic hospital, they stuck a needle in my spine (maybe because I don't have a penis?), but since they then proceeded to slice open my abdomen while I was awake and remove a baby, I was really pretty grateful for the needle in the spine. Who knows what they would have done to me if I were Catholic.

Two

Apr. 24th, 2014 12:08 am
juthwara: (Chu)
Today, my baby turned two. It doesn't seem possible, but with all he's doing these days, he's clearly not our tiny baby any more. He just started walking downstairs holding onto the railing, and figured out how to open the patio door so he can run out into the backyard, a paradise from which he feels he is far too often barred.

Happy birthday James. If your third year is half as delightful as your first two were, we will be very lucky indeed.

IMG_1340
juthwara: (Chu)
(It has occurred to me that one of the downsides of not posting much is that four of my last five posts have involved vomit. At least until the last two weeks, our winter hasn't actually featured much puking, so I'll attempt to rein back the discussion of it to be in proportion to actual amounts in our everyday life)

(Although guess what I did Tuesday night. Sigh)

One good thing that came out of the massive amounts of school Katherine has missed due to weather is that I tried to convince her to watch Star Wars. To my great surprise, she agreed. To my even greater surprise, she loved it, mainlining A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back the first day and champing at the bit to watch Return of the Jedi the next (I'm sure it helps that I told her there were living teddy bears in that movie)(I'm not sure I will ever forgive myself for selling my Ewok village playset at a garage sale now).*

The way I convinced her was through Angry Birds, which the older kids and I started playing last fall (which makes me all hip and up to the moment for like, 2010 or so). We had worked our way to Angry Birds Star Wars, and Katherine was begging me to get Angry Birds Star Wars II. So I finally said I would if she actually watched Star Wars, and she said okay. It was a spur of the moment whim on my part, mostly as a way of putting her off a little because I try to avoid putting new games on the tablet too often. Even when they're free, I would rather the kids not get accustomed to a constant stream of novelty and have to actually spend some time playing through the games they ask for before getting a new one.

So we watched Star Wars. And she loved it. I came home from work last Sunday and discovered she had asked to watch it again. She's never been much of a science fiction kid (well, except for Wall-E), but clearly this is a hit. I wish I could think of more PG science fiction to show her. This trend needs to be encouraged.



*We had been pondering since before we actually had children in what order we would show them the Star Wars movies. I finally came down on the original trilogy first because they aren't remotely old enough to handle Revenge of the Sith. And because the original trilogy is actually good, of course.
juthwara: (Chu)
We had another puketastic weekend - this time, Katherine threw up once and was sick all of Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] longstrider felt sick but never threw up, and James has been throwing up multiple times a day since Friday night.

He's been throwing up for two weeks now, and it's hard not to worry. We took him to the doctor today, which I wouldn't normally do for what's almost certainly a virus, but two weeks calls for further investigation. And the diagnosis was... probably a virus. Or I suspect two viruses back to back. But the doctor did say he looked well-hydrated, so we just need to wait it out. It's just hard to see our skinny baby lose weight. He was 22 pounds, 8 ounces at his 18 month appointment, which is the 8th percentile for weight. Today, he was 24 pounds, 6 ounces, which is a net gain of less than two pounds in five months. That's not really adequate weight gain for a toddler. I'm going to have to concentrate on calorie-loading for him once he's consistently keeping food down, whenever that blessed day may come. And meanwhile, we will continue to do massive amounts of laundry.

***

Katherine hid the fact that she had thrown up from us on Saturday, and spent the day protesting that she was fine! Absolutely fine! Despite spending the day basically lying prone and motionless and not eating at all. The reason was that she was desperate to go to a local nature center.

So I took her the next day. It was actually the right day to go because we got there right before a program was right about to start. It was supposed to be for members only, but they let us attend if we promised to consider joining. So we got to meet the new animals of the nature center - an opossum, two rats, two snakes, a bearded dragon and a turkey vulture (we didn't actually get to meet him since he was far too shy of humans to do programs yet, but we met his cute stuffed stand-in). We got to pet them all, then the children made toys for the rats and opossum. The environmental educator gave a very entertaining program, so we'll definitely have to try to go back. I think we'll join as well. There are certainly larger places to go in Philadelphia, but this place is very close to us and doesn't require driving across three quarters of our egregiously large city. And as an employee of a small museum, I know how much more difference every single membership makes.

****

And, as always, an observance of the holiday:

juthwara: (Chu)
I discovered the secret to an easy Daylight Saving Time transition: stay up most of the night with puking children! The next day, everyone will be so exhausted that they have no problem falling asleep when their bodies think it's an hour early.

In other news, after three night of nocturnal vomit in the past week, I'm not a fan of this particular stomach bug.

Almost

Mar. 1st, 2014 12:36 am
juthwara: (Chu)
We were so close. After a week with four snow, the next week with two snow days and for the killing blow, the next week starting with a holiday and a teacher's inservice day, Katherine was finally going to have a full week of school. And then she got sick, and so much for that.

Yes, yes, I know she used to be home all the time. But we had a routine based on that then. Children off their routine are not a pretty sight, and when you mix it with being housebound by the weather for days on end, starts to get grisly. Children start pinging off of walls like heated molecules and household civilization crumbles into decay. By the second week, I was practically sprinting out the door to work when the weekend came.

And now there's six to twelve inches forecast for Monday. Sigh.

Sigh

Feb. 1st, 2014 12:35 am
juthwara: (Chu)
I had all these plans to write about cheerful substanceless things this month, like tv. But instead, my mother went back into the hospital two weeks ago and I had to go back to Michigan.

When I got the call on a Monday, her aide had good reason to believe it could be near the end. She had just finished the antibiotics from her last bout of pneumonia and was having symptoms that suggested it had come galloping back. She also had a hemoglobin of 5, when you want it to be at least 11. She was grey, confused and had easily agreed to go to the ER, which she had been fighting hard all week. I didn't quite get the impression that I was rushing to her deathbed, but it clearly wasn't good.

By the time I got there on Thursday, she was doing much better. By Saturday, she had gotten a transfusion, the infection was under control and the doctor said that most of her problems were actually her congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension acting up and they were responding well to medications. She got home last Tuesday.

I, meanwhile, got to figure out how to get home on a day that the latest polar vortex was dumping 13 inches of snow on my fair snow-plow impaired city. After an hour on hold with United while meanwhile seeing online that my best choice was to pay $1000 to switch my flight to 5am on Thursday, I decided, "I have a rental car. I'm going to drive." And so I did. I had James with me, but thank goodness he's an excellent little traveller (a terrible sickroom visitor, but a great traveller). We spent the night in Columbus and by Wednesday, the snow had stopped and was cleared on major roads by the time we got home Wednesday night. There was a point I was convinced that the Pennsylvania Turnpike was actually some eternal road stretching through purgatory, but we made it home in the end.

So it's all good again for the moment. I'm experiencing some major emotional whiplash though. I've been prepared for it to be the end twice in the past six weeks. You can't be constantly ready for something terrible without starting to lose it after a while. Life is too busy to fall apart though, so I'm just trucking on.
juthwara: (Chu)
* Today started with a bang, or more precisely, something of a wet blort as James decided to throw up in our bed at 6am. This followed Katherine throwing up last night, Alec throwing up the night before and [livejournal.com profile] longstrider and I experiencing it lower down the digestive tract last Thursday.

It's a mild virus, thank goodness, and I hope this means that we're done with it (Alec had it so mildly that we didn't realize he had been sick until we found the vomit in his bed. When I asked him about it, he cheerfully said he had thrown up, "But I feel better now," as he munched away on chips. Er, good. But perhaps you should spend some time over there on the tile floor just to safe, okay?). Katherine was supposed to go back to school last Thursday, but we didn't feel up to driving her. Then Friday was a snow day. She's been making noises about maybe still being sick tomorrow, but after two full weeks of full family togetherness, I'm ready to carry her the entire ten miles to school on my back tomorrow if need be.

* I talked to my mother last Friday and she sounded a bit better. Her chest tube is out, which I can imagine would make anyone feel better. She wasn't leaping up and kicking her heels by any means (she in fact has been using a lift again to transfer between bed and her chair because she can't stand any more), but she sounded more like herself, which is encouraging.

* So we had a whole two inches of snow on Friday, which had ended by 6am. By 8, a bright sun shone over the snow that anyone half trying could have cleared in time for a two-hour school delay. But no, another snow day. The insane cold currently in the Midwest is supposed to hit us Tuesday, and if Alec misses another day of preschool after the number he missed to sickness and snow days last December, I may start typing repetitively about all work and no play, and possibly size up axes for their door-opening capabilities.

I am not up for another winter like the one we had 2009/2010, I tell you what. To be honest, I rather like not having Michigan winters here. The whole get an occasional snowfall which melts in the next couple days is pretty convenient when you have small children. Although I don't mind Michigan winters either. When they're in Michigan, that is, where they have adequate plows, know how to drive in the snow and don't panic and close the schools over every half inch of snow. This whole being perpetually snowed and/or iced in the way we have since the middle of December is getting old.
juthwara: (Chu)
We are in Michigan, enjoying a low-key Christmas. All of the presents were well-received, the Christmas fondue was lovely as always and [livejournal.com profile] longstrider's parents came down to Grand Rapids so we got to have a good time with them (and got to go see a movie!). But what made Christmas best is that my mother was finally able to come home from the hospital Christmas Eve.

As I recall, the last thing I said about my mother and the hospital was that she went in Thanksgiving evening. I'm not entirely clear what was initially keeping her there (I could rant for a long time about the poor quality of information I've been receiving over the course of this hospitalization, but I think my unhappiness has been adequately expressed to the right people and it's been straightened out, so I'll let it go for now). But that Saturday at midnight(!), I received a call that she had been moved to a higher level unit because of a prolonged run of atrial fibrillation. I called the next day and she was doing better, then another ten days went by, she developed pneumonia but was sent home with antibiotics. She was home for less than a day when she went back coughing up blood. From there, things started going really badly. She couldn't get off of high levels of oxygen and she kept having spells of atrial fibrillation, which made the breathing issues that much worse. At some point during that week, I realized I was starting to assume that she wasn't going to come through this and was just hoping she could last until I could get there for Christmas. But then her pulmonologist did a bronchoscopy and pulled out a lot of fluid from her lungs, making it a lot easier to breathe and giving hope that she might make it home for Christmas. Then they did a CAT scan and found more fluid around her lungs, necessitating a chest tube and taking home Christmas off the table. Then two days later on the 23rd, we arrived in Michigan and discovered she was, in fact, coming home, chest tube and all.

She's clearly much happier being home, being able to wear her own clothes and have some privacy. But oh my, she's so very very weak. She lost a lot of weight in the hospital, and her aides have been running her food through the blender and feeding her so she doesn't have to expend more energy than necessary lifting a spoon or chewing. She spends a lot of her day dozing in bed. Maybe the hardest thing is that after a year of extreme hoarseness, her voice came back right before this illness. I got one good conversation with her and now she can barely talk at all.

To be honest, while we got this Christmas with my mother, I am not placing bets on whether she'll be here next Christmas.

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