Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The March

The March for Babies was yesterday morning. It was cold and rainy but still fun. Liam was a trooper and made it through the whole walk. By the end he was by far the driest and warmest of us all.

I wanted to spend the walk thinking about what I would write here and taking lots of pictures but instead I was only focused on trying to keep Liam warm and dry. A distant second was trying to keep myself warm and dry.

Team Liam was the most successful of all the "family" teams. We raised over $5000. and I would like to mention that the top three fundraisers on the team were my Aunt Kelly, Karin's Mom and my Mom who each raised over a thousand dollars. Amazing work and I am so proud of them all.

I'm sorry folks but I'm exhausted. I wanted to have a great long post about the walk and what it means to us but I don't have the energy tonight. I just wanted to post a few pics and make sure to mention how proud I am of our team. I've done that and now its time to get some sleep.

Night all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pre-Walk Walk

March of Dimes sponsored March for Babies day really is like a holiday for most families touched by premature birth. We have been waiting to take Liam on this walk for a year. Last year we finished walking and went straight back to the NICU to tell Liam all about it. This year we get to show him.

In the morning we prepared the house for the walk and in the afternoon we took a practice lap. We haven't had many chances to put the new stroller through its paces and so we took advantage of the nice weather and headed out. Good thing too because we did find a few things we can do differently tomorrow to make things easier.

Afterward we spent a good while just hanging out in the yard and waiting for Liam's Aunt Kathy and cousin Aiden to come over and for his Grammy and Opa to arrive from New Jersey. I got to take a bunch of photos before and after our stroll.

It makes me a little sad to see how big he looks in this photo. My big boy is growing up way too fast.

Kid knows how to wear a hat though.

Dad! Don't make me laugh so hard!

(or yawn, it could be a yawn)

I'm going with laugh though.

My bubbles.

He seemed to really love hanging out outside for a change.

It may be so 2009, but no one rocks the faux hawk quite as cool as Liam. This shot is Mom's handiwork.

Liam tries to play it cool even though he's psyched about the awesome paper plate maraca that his cousin made for him today at the zoo.


We finished the day with an incredibly delicious meal prepared by Karin's mom and settled in early in anticipation of tomorrow's festivities. Thank you to all who helped out here today and I'm excited to see everyone involved with the walk tomorrow.

Go Team Liam!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Forward March

Lots to do, lots to do.

March of Dimes walk is tomorrow and Team Liam is roaring to go. The cookout here at the house after the walk has the whole family running around like crazy. Except for Liam. He's busy napping.

Lawn has been mowed, floors have been swept and mopped. Baked goods are in the oven and all seating areas are cleared for visitors who are coming in from all over.

All that's left to do now is show you a video of Travis Pastrana doing a high speed and altitude back flip on a big wheel. A pink big wheel. Oh c'mon, you know you want to see it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Play Ball II

Liam slept well last night which has left me chipper and energetic this morning. Regular readers of the Pressure know that I usually only post in the wee small hours of the morning; today I'm trying to squeeze out a post before work.

Red Sox on a streak.

The Sox have actually put together a couple of wins in a row. No small feat for a team that seems allergic to run scoring. I know its early and these things have a way of working themselves out over the course of a long season but pitching and defense are not the strategy you need in the american league east. Other divisions, you may be able to get yourself enough 3-2 wins but when you have to face the Yanks and the Rays 18 times a piece you need to be able to score. I, and many of the long time Red Sox fans I work with, have already allowed ourselves to fall back into old ways. Pre 04 days. There's always next year. I'm surprised at how easy that attitude came back. Its an attitude that long time Red Sox fans feel comfortable with. We've got our swagger back. Helps to weed out the fair weather fans (pink hats) anyway.

One employee of mine though is upset, very upset. Every day he comes to work angry at how poorly the Red Sox have looked and I will say it does remind me of me back in the day but his anger is different. It took me a while to figure it out but since he was only 15 years old when the Red Sox won the world series in 04. He expects to win. He expects the playoffs every year. He doesn't remember the early 90's. He doesn't remember '86. He doesn't yet know what it feels like to have this team really break your heart. Over and over again. He came to work after the sox's 5th straight loss and stood in my office and shouted "Now I know what its like to be a Kansas City Royals Fan!" I turned to face him and calmly explained. "No, now you know how it feels to be a Red Sox fan young-in." Poor kid. I was only 9 when they first broke my heart. I think its easier when it happens that young. I got used to it.

Let's be clear, I hope I'm wrong. I hope they turn it around and we make the playoffs. I will be pulling for them to do so every day. I will still watch on the edge of my seat and will still yell at my TV during games but I'm just mentally prepared for it not to happen. For them to tease me into thinking its possible right before the yearly June swoon. Our division is just too tough and I don't think that good pitching and adequate defense is going to be enough. Unless they make a big move before the deadline (a la trading Nomar in 04) it's going to be a long season.

But remember the mantra of all long time Red Sox fans, there's always next year!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Stroller Weekend

I love this picture. Skipping mine of course, we've got 4 generations of Olson's up in here! Nan is wonderful with Liam and he has always loved hanging out with her. You should have seen her excitement when we surprised her with a visit.

It was New Stroller Weekend this weekend. Liam's new custom made stroller was delivered and assembled by our mobility specialist on friday afternoon. It took 3 hours of tinkering for it to be built and sized just for Liam and when I asked how I could learn to adjust the parts for his growth I was shot down. Growth adjustments will be handled by the company who will come out periodically to make sure he fits just right. This thing truly is the Cadillac of strollers.

We have been waiting close to 3 months for this unit to be made. Measurements of all of Liam's limbs were taken early in the year and all of his equipment has a place. Gone are the days of lugging large heavy bags and equipment for a simple stroll around the block. This thing is freaking awesome. Our old store bought stroller while great for any other family just wasn't a safe option for us. With the ventilator hanging on the back of it we couldn't ever let it go for fear of the whole thing tipping over due to all the weight. The large solid wheels make this thing off-road ready. Next weekend is the March of Dimes March for Babies (click the link on the right to donate in Team Liam's name) through Colt State Park. That park doesn't even know what coming. We are gonna walk all over that place!

It wasn't until last night, three days after we got the thing that we realized its only drawback. It doesn't fit in our car. It collapses a bit to take up less room but not nearly enough to fit into the trunk of a Honda Civic that's for sure. It took a few tries and a lot of the type of thinking I haven't done since geometry class but if we take the seat part off and pop the wheels off the base unit we can fold it enough to fit in the front passenger seat of the car. Its a temporary solution as it is obvious to us now that our only real option for the future is to find a minivan or SUV of some kind. If anyone knows where we can pick up one of those for under say a hundred bucks let me know. For now, Karin will ride in the back with The Kid because his stroller's ridin shotgun.

The Boy loves his Grampa too and he got to see the pottery yesterday while on our walk. The hat he's wearing was made by my Mom for him. With his old stroller Liam was always so sunken into the seat that interacting with him was difficult, not the case with the new ride and we have taken full advantage of that. In fact while we were on our walk whoever wasn't pushing the stroller was able to walk by his side holding his hand. There is nothing like walking down the road with Liam's hand in mine. With the new ride and the warm weather, that will be happening all the time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Play Ball

Today was the first game of the 2010 season for the Providence Grays Vintage Base Ball Club. A team of which I have been a member since 2007. This is the 13th season for the club and we are the longest continuously running team in all of New England. We play according to the rules and customs of Base Ball as it was played in 1884. (although today we played 1886 ball which our opponent focuses their play.) That means no gloves, a pitcher 10 feet closer to the plate, 6 balls and 3 strike count where foul balls are not strikes and when hit by a pitch a base is not awarded. We play in period accurate replica uniforms made of the same materials used in the 1880's. 100% wool uniforms are mighty comfortable for a doubleheader in august let me tell you. Dig around the website and you'll find more details on the rules and the team's history. I guess you could boil it all down to a cross between a sporting event and civil war re-enactment. We're baseball dorks with a death wish.

We lost 15-10 in an ugly game on a muddy, wet field but no one got hurt and that is always cause for a celebration. I broke a few bones in my hand a couple seasons ago catching a fly ball, and pretty much everyone else on the team has at least one similar story while some have sustained far, far worse. Of course I would have liked to win but win, lose or draw it was still a day playing Base Ball (yes, in those days it was spelled as two words) and that's pretty much better than any other day.

I didn't play at all last year. With Liam spending the summer in the hospital, fun and games in the sun wasn't ever an option; so I really have been looking forward to this game for close to 2 years. I played well I guess. Not well in your standard definition of playing baseball well, but well enough for my limited co-ordination and athletic ability. I am a very limited fielder and had 2 errors today playing second base, which isn't bad in our gloveless game where single game team errors can easily run into the double digits, but they came with only 5 balls hit towards me all day. I had a great day at the plate though where I went 2 for 5 with a fielder's choice and a long flyball. I was getting good wood on the ball, but my baserunning definitely left something to be desired. Unaware of where the defense was playing I ran into a boneheaded force play that I should have made with ease. I'm slow enough as it ,I need to make sure I'm using my head out there. Overall I can't complain though as it was my first game action in a few years.

The plan was of course for Liam to come out to the park to see his daddy play but since it was a miserable cold and drizzly day he and his mom stayed home and hung out. I can't wait to see him in the stands watching me run around like an idiot out there. Next month we'll be playing at McCoy Stadium the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston's AAA farm team. I've played there before and to take that field after meeting ball players that I have seen on TV (John Lester a few years ago and Clay Buchholtz the next) was truly amazing. Having my wife and parents watch from those stands was quite a thrill. I can't wait for it to be my son up there.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gold Star Day.

I have to admit publicly that I spend most days at work looking forward to my next day off. I hardly think I'm alone in this. So when the day off ends up being both productive and fun its an epic win for the Olson clan. I can happily say that today was one of those days. Which is fun to type since most days of the week I find myself muttering 'oh, I guess its gonna be one of those days.'

I spent a large chunk of the day in my basement silkscreening Team Liam T-shirts for the March of Dimes walk which is at the end of the month. Mel, a friend of ours brought the equipment and the know how. She draw up an excellent logo for the shirts a few weeks ago and has donated a lot of her time and ability to the project. Karin and I appreciate it more than she probably knows.

The shirts came together wonderfully. A happy accident with color choice drove us in a direction I probably wouldn't have picked in the planning stages and actually gave us a better product; I am so happy with how these came out. Our original logo color just didn't POP against the bold material color we chose. Some quick improvising and paint mixing on Mel's part had us up and running quickly and after a few test runs we were banging them out easily. I was on board and hanger duty as I prepped the new shirts for screening and hung those freshly screened. I would later spend the early evening ironing all of the shirts to set the paint so that it won't wash out.

We could have uploaded the logo Mel designed for us to some website like Cafe Press and had nice, pretty, perfectly centered and printed shirts. Normal shirts. But nothing in Liam's life has led us in a normal direction and we've always ended up better for it. Each shirts is unique. Sure a few ended up perfectly centered and perfectly printed; but they're snowflakes. Some fade in at the top, a few feature a small line through the logo due to a crease in the board, vintage looks abound on the first couple of shirts that were printed just a slight shade less as we learned how much the material soaked up ink, a wrinkle here a tiny smudge there make them all perfect. I love them all and only wish we had made a whole lot more than we did. It makes me happy that instead of signing for a delivery we rolled up our sleeves and made something for the team.

I won't post the logo here yet. I'm saving that until after the walk. I'm sure that the internets will be flooded with Team Liam shirts by then since we are currently leading all RI teams for donations no thanks to me. I need to greatly increase my efforts but since I work in a facility with March of Dimes staff my market is already flooded. I can't ask my family because they are all already team members. I've got some ideas though and hope to make a dent this weekend. My family and especially Liam's 2 grandmothers have been working their butts off for this wonderful event and charity and I'm so proud of the whole team. Even if you can't give please click the link to the right to learn more about the March of Dimes mission.

During all of this fun Liam had an OT appointment and again gets a figurative Gold Star. He was tracking objects and hitting switches like a big boy. Karin learned a whole bunch more stretches and exercises to teach me and we set our new short term goals for his progress. Before he could fall asleep on the floor like usually does after PT or OT we scooped him into the stroller to enjoy the rest of the afternoon outside in the sunshine.

We took a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood taking streets we usually never turn down and enjoying the warm springtime breeze. A breeze not strong enough to keep Liam awake as he fell asleep within two blocks of the house. We ended up at the Dairy-Bee, the neighborhood ice cream shop of my youth, for an afternoon ice cream cone. Does a day get any better than that?

A funny thing happened on the walk as the three of us came to a busy intersection down the street from the house. "The Square" is one of those normal small town traffic light intersection but one that is fairly easy to cross on foot. The traffic lights allow for plenty of time to cross and the Nuttin buttons on the Don't Walk signs actually produce results most of the time. We approached the intersection just as the light changed and were ready to wait for the cycle to run through when a police cruiser in line to pass in front of us stopped midway through and put on his lights while turning to block the oncoming lane which contained 5 or 6 cars about to reach the light. And then he waved us through. He waved us through. A whole lot of fanfare for something that would have happened in a few seconds had we waited for the light to change. I thanked the cop and we pushed across the street as the oncoming cars wondered what the fuss was about. I have to say I wondered what the fuss was about. I mean, don't get me wrong it was a cool gesture and I do appreciate cops (or people in general) to do nice things for people and this was definitely a nice thing but the light would have changed eventually. It just seemed so weird, but it was kind of cool too.

Liam woke up by the time we got home and stayed awake for most of the day. Since he didn't fall asleep until after 9pm I'm hoping he stays asleep most of the night for us. With the nursing situation as it is our routine for the gym and other errands has been completely thrown out of whack. We'll get back to it. As much as we like our routine Liam has taught us not to rely on them. Too bad too because I could get used to days like today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Long week.

Look at that face would you? The kid is adorable. Now if he would just fall asleep. As it gets later and later I am realizing that getting up for base ball practice before work tomorrow is becoming less and less likely. A bummer too since it's the last practice before games start next week.

Its been a long week. A very good week, but long. Spending my day off from work in the hospital last tuesday has really drained me and since I'm working the weekend I haven't gotten a chance to get caught up on any rest. On my off weekends I can usually squeeze in a nap with Liam each day but I've just been too busy lately. The nursing situation at home could be described as sporadic at best but hopefully that will change in the next two weeks. We'll be training a new nurse this week and the whole house is hoping that it's a nice fit.

I am still loving Liam's new trach size and the fact that he can use his voice again. Every night I try and get Liam to say Dada, but I'm fairly certain that he'll say Mama first (as he should.)

I know that I have been slacking on the blog lately. What started as an exercise in discipline of writing every day has become 2 or 3 times a week at most and that is simply not enough. I have been writing but not on the blog. I'll fill you in on the details of my other writing project someday but its not ready to be talked about here yet.

When Liam falls into a deep sleep the ventilator sounds become soothing like a white noise machine. The rhythm of 26 breaths a minute is ingrained in the conscious of everyone in the house and when he rides that vent it can become downright hypnotic. I'm going to count down from 5 and when I get to 1 I'll fall into a deep sleep. 5...4....3....2.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In the Hospital.

I don't like getting out of bed in the morning before the sun comes up. I like it even less when I have to get up that early to take Liam to the hospital operating room for some tests. Liam needed to have a bronch which is a routine (about every 6 months) test for kids on vents as well as an ABR which is a hearing test that is done under anesthesia. Neither test is really that risky but let's face it, being put under anesthesia always has its risks. I'm not a fan of Liam going to the O.R.

The bronch results were normal. We weren't expecting anything different. It's something that we'll do a couple of times a year and the changes we are looking for usually take years and years to happen so no big thing there. We did get Liam sized for a new trach which doesn't fit quite the same as his old one. He's got a leak now. A bit of air passes by the cuff of his trach and he can now use his vocal chords, mouth and nose in ways that he hasn't used them in almost a year. As I type this post both Liam and his Mom are snoring on the couch across the room from me. With Liam the snoring is new and adorable, with Karin its never happened and if you ask I'll tell you that she never snores. (wink, wink)

The hearing test was normal. He fell in the normal range for all categories for his age group and we no longer have to worry about hearing tests or hearing aides. The interference noise from Liam's ventilator makes most screening equipment useless for Liam and observational tests are tenuous even for healthy infants so having hard numbers on the subject is a good thing.


I posted a few pictures of the morning's events on my Posterous page. You can even see his annoyed, "why did you get me out of my crib at 5:30am" face


Liam is kind of a rock star at the local children's hospital. It was nice to see a few of the people who had helped us so much when we were there for 109 days. Not nice enough to want to stay even a second longer in recovery than we had to, but nice all the same.


More than one person commented on how pleasant the alarm chime was on his pulse-oxymeter, and it is pleasant, the first 3 or 4 million times you hear it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It has sprung all right.

I stopped regularly posting to or reading my Twitter account once I started the blog but ti seems that the last few weeks of blog posts could easily be boiled down to 140 characters. THis will be no exception.

A night nurse 2 nights in a row! I am almost drunk on two full nights of sleep.

An absolutely glorious day outside today. Glorious truly is the only word that could do today's weather justice. I spent the morning at Base Ball practice and will spend the rest of the day showing Liam what springtime is all about since he spent all of last Spring in the hospital.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend as much as I already am.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It was an extremely long day at work today. Not bad necessarily just long. Our night nurse is here for the first time in close to a week so I am going to sleep in the same bed as my wife tonight which also has not happened in close to a week. It has been a long time since I have put together a proper blog post but I figured I would at least throw a picture of the boy up here.

Good night folks.

For my wife who no matter how long she lives in RI will always be my Jersey Girl.