August 6, 2014
Cottage Days: Clam Race

There is an annual clam race at the cottage. Our family has even submitted a winning clam once - coincidentally the last time we were at the cottage during clam racing time.

We had a hard time locating clams at first - the kids scoured the water and Brendan and I took the paddle boat out all over the bay to look for the tell-tale lines they leave behind in the sand. But we had no luck until Nancy suggested we check out the depths by the diving raft. Brendan volunteered to go mucking around and found a clam. We were expecting hardly any clams to be entered but instead there were a record number! Erika, Maria and Elizabeth entered twice with "Clammow" and "Clammy". Matthew had a clam too - his was called "Da"

The placement of the clams was fun. Serenaded by a "very large quartet" with snacks and funny hats (we didn't get the funny hat memo, but Elizabeth borrowed one). The fireworks were intended to tell the clams when to start (ha ha)

Sadly our clams did not travel particularly far - Matthew's only managed an inch and the other two hardly managed much better! Clammy and Clammow were stymied by weeds and disadvantaged by not being on the sunny side of the course... But poor Da started out strong and then was fouled by another clam, who obviously frightened him into a retreat. The winning clam went over nine feet!

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August 5, 2014
Cottage Days:Cousins

Erika, Maria and their parents stayed with Grandma and Grandpa J and us for the first few days. The girls all slept together in one small room. They loved it. The cottage has a large living room, and although another bathroom and a kitchen upgrade would be very welcome (hint hint) we really didn't need more space this year - it's not like we spent all that much time inside...

They had to go check out the chickens. At first there was a lot of getting chased away by the chickens but after a few days Erika figured out how to catch one for petting. There were water fights. There was seed spitting. There were s'mores...

I perfected my small children in the canoe skills. Erika went to canoe camp this year for the first time so she's actually helpful as a paddler now! She spent a lot of time in the canoe - we might be at the point where we need two to accommodate all the eager paddlers! Elizabeth and Matthew started out the week by crying everytime they got into the canoe. Elizabeth actually screamed more than Matthew - he was good until he wanted to climb out and couldn't. I comprised by allowing him to stand and help me paddle (I had a firm grip with my knees...)

Erika and Elizabeth decided they wanted to go down the water slide this year, so I swam them over. They got to the top of the slide and started having second thoughts. Mean aunt pushed them down (slowly - I practically lowered them into the water). Erika went in fine, but Elizabeth got completely submerged and I guess she was expecting the life jacket to keep her head above the water. So she had mild hysterics. And I made her go down again a second time because I didn't want the submerging to be the last memory. (The second time I held on to the loop at the back of the jacket) Looking at the photos, I think the difference was that Erika spread her arms on impact, and Elizabeth was hugging herself like a petrified monkey. Ah well. Erika and I went down the "bigger" iceberg slide on the last day. Elizabeth decided to put it off until next year.

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August 3, 2014
Iron Man

Disclaimer: Quite a lot of you have wanted to hear the "iron" story details. This was extremely traumatic for me (understatement). I'm writing it out here so that you can have all the details you want. But I'm probably not going to talk about it in person so please don't ask me about it.

Remember I mentioned that the kids both had blood work recently? Neither of them are celiac!!! I was very relieved as I had several pretty awful nightmares while waiting for results consisting of the kids begging for various favourite treats - goldfish, granola bars, mini wheats - and of course they were all wheat based. Anyway. The blood work was an adventure for Matthew in particular, because CHEO forgot to run one of the tests (on the paperwork in yellow highlighter!) so we actually had to get it done twice. The second time he started screaming the second he laid eyes on the tech. "I get that a lot", she said. "I guess he's been here before."

In any case, Matthew is not celiac, but his iron stores were low. "Not quite anemic", said our doctor, but she wanted us to supplement with iron for four months, twice a day. She faxed the prescription into our pharmacy and called us to make sure we understood everything and were on the same page. Have I mentioned our pediatrician is awesome lately? I really like her! (Dr Lynn Jacoby at Appletree, for those of you wondering) I was less thrilled about another to-do list on our pre-cottage packing list but in any case I called the pharmacy. Unusually, they were out of the iron and wouldn't get it in until after we left for the cottage. The pharmacist suggested that I walk down the street and get it filled there. I arrive at the second pharmacy and explain what I need.

First question: "Do you have a drug plan?" Well, no. We're self employed and it's always seemed overly expensive for what you can get. "Tell you what", says helpful pharmacist. "I can give you this over the counter. Then I don't have to charge you a dispensing fee." Well, ok. I'm slightly uncomfortable about the ethics but also I'm in a hurry and don't want to seem weird. She hands over the bottle and the prescription. "You're supposed to take 5mL twice a day", she says and points to the jargon that explains twice a day to make sure I understand. I look at the bottle. The maximum daily limit for a child of Matthew's weight is 2mL. I question her. Isn't it a problem to give the kid FOUR TIMES the maximum dose I ask? She gives a little laugh. "Oh no" she says "You just have to go with whatever the physician says." There's a lot of instructions about taking with citrus (which Matthew doesn't like) and scheduling around eating (unpredictable and already a bit of an issue) and not nursing for three hours on either end (the next four months look fun)

The next morning, we're rushing around throwing stuff in the car. We get to the iron. We decide we should give Matthew his morning dose. In retrospect I do not know why we thought that right before a long car trip was the time to start a new medication. This is not a mistake we will ever make again.

I'm still uncomfortable about the dosage. I ask Brendan about it. He agrees it seems a bit weird and we decide we'll only give him the morning dose and try to get a hold of the doctor on Monday when she'll be back in the office to ask.

The pharmacist didn't give me anything to measure with, but luckily we have a plethora of these from our recent bout of poor health over the winter. We have a hard time getting Matthew to take the 5mL. It is now 11:30am.

We leave - stopping for McDonald's on the way out - and get on the road to the cottage. Matthew is a little bit fussy, but sleeps for a while. Around 2pm he starts to throw up. We think maybe he's car sick, but it seems weird. We turn his car seat around to face the other direction and clean him up. He loves it. He seems fine so we get back on the road. Shortly afterwards he throws up some more. And some more. We pull over in the middle of the woods to clean him up again and Brendan asks me to double check everything - prescription, bottle etc. I pull out the prescription and actually looked at it closely. The doctor wrote "0.5 mL", not "5 mL" which is what I heard the pharmacist say. I had just given Matthew TEN TIMES the prescribed dose.

The next few hours are a bit sketchy. The guilt and terror were overwhelming. We called 911. It turns out you should call poison control first - that's what the paramedics do. We talked to my parents on the phone while waiting for the ambulance, who calmed us down somewhat (my cousin gave us a telehealth consultation over the phone - from Zambia - that exactly paralleled what the hospital ended up doing). We got an ambulance ride to the hospital. They gave us a more appropriately sized syringe. We waited around to make sure Matthew was actually okay and talked to poison control, and then we went to the cottage where he had the foulest diaper I have ever encountered. It smelled like iron. He's okay.

Brendan and I have come up with a checklist that we're going to follow from now on when dealing with prescriptions. We're not going to skip dispensing fees (they would have put the dose on the bottle, and hopefully it would have been correct there!). We're going to keep a copy of every prescription and both of us will compare it to the notes on the bottle. We're not going to start meds before trips. I'm going to listen to my instincts

And that is how I came to accidentally poison my son.

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July 30, 2014
My garden

I'm pretty happy with my garden so far. I thought I planted fewer beans this year but either it's been a good bean year or I overdid it as usual. We have loads of mint. Loads of basil. Loads of currants. Peppers coming (but either we have mutant squirrels or these peppers are not hot ones because something keeps eating them!)

The watermelon has finally started to grow flowers. The pumpkin is looking even more blight-y than last year - hopefully the pumpkins still grow... The potatoes are happy, tall and producing apparently highly toxic potato berries (don't eat them, kids!). Onions are growing well, tomatoes look like they will ripen while we are at the cottage. The lima beans are starting to plump out a bit.

But by far the most exciting garden news is that my corn has tassels, which means that we might actually get corn. Assuming that it doesn't ripen while we are away AND that the raccoons don't level it...

If that wasn't exciting enough, a random sunflower just popped open at the edge of my corn. (You might recall that the ones I planted all got knocked over - the last one on my birthday no less)

The garden is my happy place :)

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July 28, 2014
Farm Camp 2014

Farm camp was much anticipated this year and it did not disappoint. Well, we were slightly disappointed that the "show" this year was just for the other kids (they did a hoe-down dance, apparently, but Elizabeth claimed she needed the other kids and couldn't demonstrate at home). But we were thrilled that there was no getting sick! I of course made farm themed lunches. My favourite was the sheep that accidentally were also pigs when viewed upside down!

She got her wagon ride, she named rabbits, she made pretty much the cutest crafts I've ever seen. She made all kinds of fun snacks. She now struts around the farm like she owns it. Apparently, the best part was the face painting at the end of the week.

Xander, Matthew and Isabelle came and helped pick her up the one day. Three under the age of three makes for a lot of sympathetic looks, I discovered. But I managed fine - even took them for the tractor ride all by myself which I thought was quite something since it requires climbing into the cab about seven or eight feet up!

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