Back from Vacation!

Wow – what a whirlwind trip. We started with a drive to Lewes, DE on Tues. – did Lewes and Rehoboth that night.

There is a yarn shop in Lewes – WOO HOO! I didn’t buy anything – the yarn shop shares space with another store, and the yarnies weren’t there. Probably a lucky thing, since I really couldn’t afford more stash anyway – but it was fun to look. My favorite thing was the labyrinth at St. Peters in Lewes. Very cool – Jasmine & I walked it.

Anyway – the whole point of starting in Lewes was to take the Cape May -Lewes Ferry to Cape May the following morning. I had been on the ferry once before, but it was a night trip, so this was my first trip where I could actually see everything. We did see a couple pods of dolphins – I had a perfect view of one in particular since it swam right in front of where I was sitting.

All in all, Rehoboth was nice, but I’m used to the Jersey shore, so was so it was good to get to NJ. It’s funny to think about it – I’ve been taking vacations in the same place since I was a baby, and it’s still fun. I love the fact that I can show my kids all the same places I enjoyed when I was their age.

This year, we were fortunate enough to stay at our neighbor’s summer cottage in Villas, which is about 10 minutes from both Wildwood and Cape May. So, while Rob & Jasmine went on the beach, Robbie & I went SHOPPING (the poor boy!). I stocked up on soap at Bath Time Cape May (one of my favorite stores) – Robbie got a pirate ducky. And, of course, visited the YARN STORE (WOO HOO – again!). This time, I couldn’t help myself – bought a booklet of knitted doily patterns and a kit for an adorable beaded knit flower.

By the time we got back to the cottage, the tide was out. I had heard the sunset view was incredible – I had no idea how beautiful – lookie at the pics!

Villas low tide

Villas low tide

Rob & Robbie - Sunset

Rob & Robbie - Sunset

Michelle & Jazzy - Sunset

Michelle & Jazzy - Sunset

The bay itself at this part of the beach is shallow, so when the tide goes out, it goes waaaaaaayyy out. There were all kinds of little snails. And horseshoe crab shells everywhere! Maybe we’ll be able to get back that way in May when the horseshoe crabs come up to lay their eggs. The following morning we even spotted a bald eagle eatting a fish by the waterline!!!!

Robbie - Sunset Beach

Robbie - Sunset Beach

Jazz - Sunset Beach

Friday started out with breakfast in Cape May and then a trip to Sunset Beach. For those not familiar with is, Sunset Beach is made up of mostly pebbles (as opposed to sand) and is the one place where you can find lots and lots of Cape May Diamonds. Cape May Diamonds are quartz pebbles that wash up on the shore. When they’re wet they are clear and sparkly (like diamonds). We all dug through the beach and found a nice handful of them. Robbie especially liked it – I think he liked playing in the stones. I made sure his pacifier stayed firmly in his mouth though – since I wouldn’t put it past him to try to eat a diamond.

Next on the list was the dolphin watching trip on the Silver Bullet for Rob & Jasmine. (Robbie is too little for a speedboat ride, so he and I stayed back). They had a fabulous time! They saw lots of dolphins, including some babies. It sounds like the Captain took a special interest in Jasmine (probably because she wore her T-shirt from last year’s dolphin watching trip). He explained to her that the female dolphins (the mommies) have pink bellies and even gave her a shell that was given to him by one of “Ariel’s sisters” – she loved it!

My goal in staying back was to work on Sianny’s socks. At the start of our vacation I only had about 4″ to go on them. Figuring I’d finish them up in no time, I took a 2nd project along. Things didn’t exactly work out that way – I had very little time to knit, but did manage a few minutes while Robbie napped and we had the house to ourselves.

Friday night was the Wildwood Boardwalk. LOVE IT!!! I know it’s a little crusty and but it’s still one of my favorites. I love that some of the same stores have been on this boardwalk for 30-40-50 years. We did a lot of walking!

And before we knew it, it was Saturday and time to come home. We spent the morning cleaning up the cottage so that it would be nice and neat for our neighbor when she travels back down, took a last walk on the beach, got some lunch and headed for Ocean City.

This was a big beach day for Rob & Jasmine. They saved a shark. Yes, that’s right – they saved a shark. Here’s the story. They were on the beach and saw a very large seagull trying to carry something off – so of course they ran after it to investigate. The “something” was a dogfish shark. Being the animal lovers that they are, they chased the gull and managed to get the shark back in the water – a little worse for wear, but still swimming. Whether or not he actually made it much past the rescue, I’m not going to venture a guess. Needless to say, by the time we reached the boardwalk Jasmine was bouncing on air.

While they swam – once again Robbie & I went SHOPPING! There’s a new pirate store on the boardwalk. It was fantastic. I loved pretty much everything in there. Here’s what Robbie looked like when we met Rob & Jasmine after the beach:

Dread Pirate Robert

Dread Pirate Robert

Ocean City has a great amusement pier – perfect for younger kids – and we had a packet of tickets that we purchased earlier (during the 1/2-price ticket days). The highlight of the night was absolutely the bumper cars.

Bumper Cars!

Bumper Cars!

These are kiddie bumper cars. I don’t know if they don’t go in reverse or if kids that young just can’t figure out reverse, but either way, it was something to see. The kids go forward, run into each other and then they just have to sit there until the attendant pulls them apart. Whatever they were paying the attendant, it wasn’t enough. He pretty much ran around the bumper car pit non-stop throughout the ride. By the time the ride was over the onlookers (parents) spontaneously started cheering for him. And I’ve never seen a amusement ride attendant tipped before, but I think this guy must have made at least $15 dollars just in tips from the parents on that one 2-minute go-round.

After caramel corn and ice cream we headed home. I could barely keep my eyes open. Sianny’s socks were not much closer to being finished than when we left, but that’s ok – I have until Christmas.

Actually, I did manage to mostly finish them last night. I’m going to hold off grafting the toe until I confirm her shoe size – just in case I need to frog the toe & re-do it shorter or longer.

Sianny's Socks
Mom's Doily

In the meantime, my mom put in an order for a new doily, so I’ve started that (crochet). I may try one of the knitted patterns from the new book for her for Christmas.

One Last pic from Vacation:

Pirate Baby!

Sweaters and Socks!

OK – so I’m catching up on the knitting blogging.  Oldest first.  I did manage to finish two sweaters for the little’uns.  First is Jasmine’s back to school sweater.

It’s the cropped sweater from LionBrand.  It still needs a button, but I promised Jazz that she can pick out her own.  Other than that, it’s finished.  It was actually an easy pattern – and all in one piece, so not much finishing (YEA!!!).  I’m not a big fan of knitting cardigans, but this one had a built-in button band (WOO HOO!).  The only glitch working it up was my yarn.  I didn’t pay attention to the pattern (so what else is new), and picked a sportweight instead of worsted.  (And my sport felt lighter than a sport to me).  Anyway, trying to get gauge turned out to be pretty annoying.  When I did manage to get the right number of stitches, they looked way too loose to me – I just didn’t like what I was getting.  So, I ended up casting on stitches for a larger size on a smaller needle and then using the smaller size measurements.  I also didn’t like it cropping so high.  J. tends to be long waisted, so I added an extra inch to the length. I’m definitely pleased with the results.  (And – for those who know me – are you amazed – I actually took the time to block!!!! – This sweater really needed it though).  The cardi came out lightweight, great for back-to-school time – just what I wanted!

Next on the list is the froggy sweater, that has been sitting in my queue forever.  At one time it was next on the list, but kept falling behind.  When J went in the hospital I was between projects – having finished the cardigan the night before while she was sick at home.  Since I had the pattern and yarn for this all together, I grabbed them along with the suggested needles before I ran out on my way to the hospital.  Problem?  I generally have to go down two sizes to get gauge.  So, of course, I was waaaaaayyyy off with only one set of needles available.  Thankfully, I paid attention in high school math.  End result? I cast on for the 6 month size and used the 2T measurements.  Kind of nice because there are fewer stitches.  (OK – maybe it’s just a mental thing, but still!).  Knitting it, it definitely wasn’t my favorite.  I was using super-cheap yarn (always do for kids stuff – we do a lot of laundry!) and I’m not a big fan of my color-working skills.  But, all in all, it knit up pretty quickly.  The sleeves are blue in the original pattern, but I was running low on blue and didn’t have a matching skein within easy reach, so I changed them to green, and I kind of like the look.  The sweater itself is a little scratchy, but I think that will soften way up after the first washing.

So now I’m back to Christmas Knitting.  Last night I cast on for Sianny’s socks.  (Notice the lovely stitch-marker from Mytmagnolia – included in my dishcloth swap package!)  I had all my needles readily available, so could use the one that gave me the correct gauge.  Like Dan’s socks, I’m using worsted, since these are supposed to be slippers.  And, I’m making them bright red – it’s such a happy color. The others I was considering were much more muted, and Sianny seems to be more of a bright-color person to me.  Like Dan’s, I’m doing them two-at-a-time, since I love finishing up and having them both done!  And – I just saw a post with a link showing how to do Kitchener on knitting needles, so I just might have to try that once I get to the end of these!

The Wonderful World of HSP

Last week we learned a new word – Henoch Schonlein Purpura – aka HSP. (OK – so that’s 3 words.)

Here’s what happened:

Tuesday: 5AM Jasmine wakes up crying that her hands really, really itch. When we turned on the light, her hands were red and covered with itchy bumps. There were also some on her feet. I thought they were hives. Later that morning, I called the nurse at the pediatrican’s office. They said that it did sound like an allergic reaction, but could possibly be hand foot & mouth disease. Either way, I should treat with benedryl. By dinner time, she was covered with the rash. I called the nurse again who said it’s definitely not hand foot & mouth, but the benedryl may take several doses to start to correct the rash. Keep giving the benedryl and if it’s not improving by the morning they would want to see her in the office. That night at bedtime, she felt warm.

Wednesday: The rash was much, much worse and there was a definite fever. So this time, I called the doctor’s office and told them we were coming in today. When we got there, her fever was 100.4 – and then spiked to 104 at the doctors office. Three of the pediatricians on staff looked at her and sent us to the ER at – our choice – CHOP or DuPont. We chose DuPont. The whole thing was incredibly scary since I wondered why they weren’t sending us to the local hospital. The good news is that we really are blessed to have two of the best children’s hospitals in the country less than an hour’s drive away.

I think we made the right choice. We got to DuPont’s ER and they took her right in (our doctor had called ahead for us). So that meant she had more (men) doctors, plus blood tests (horrible)! Once again, they didn’t know what the problem was. They suggested HSP, serum sickness, rocky mountain spotted fever (or other tick-borne illnesses), viral issues, etc. The problem was that her symptoms didn’t follow the regular patterns of any of these illnesses.

Eventually they decided to admit her. I went home to nurse the baby and Rob stayed there. (Thank goodness for my parents who came down so I could take Jasmine to the doctors and ended up staying to take care of the baby). My parents stayed the night, and then took the baby with them to their house in the morning while I went back to the hospital.

Thursday: The good news is that she had a private room. The bad news was the reason for the private room. Since didn’t know what the problem was, they had her in isolation in case it was contagious. When I got there, the overnight doctor had put her on “droplet protection” which meant that anyone entering the room was supposed to wear a gown and mask. The regular (morning) doctor did not see the necessity of that – in fact he assured me that she is NOT contagious, but the sign stayed on the door. Consequently, the more experienced doctors and nurses walked right in, but the younger ones (as well as meal service people, etc.) came in looking like spacemen. (Ugh!). Housekeeping refused to come in at all!

Thursday was Infectious Disease Day. We had visits from four different infectious disease doctors. They agreed that the rash looked like HSP or rocky mountain spotted fever, but she did not have the other symptoms of either of these diseases. Thursday night, once Rob got back to the hospital from work, I went home to grab some clothes and then headed to my parents house to crash there with Robbie.

Thursday night was a bad night. Her feet started itching uncontrollably. The child writhed and screamed for 5 hours and nothing helped. I think that the night staff was the problem. They tried a number of different things – including some topical ointments that our doctor told us the following day would not work anyway, since the issue was internal. Eventually, the nurses just left Rob to deal with her on his own since there was nothing they could do. (Not good to do that to a father who hasn’t slept in two days!!)

Friday: Rheumatology Day! By the time I got to the hospital Friday morning, she seemed back to her old self. Unfortunately, the itching happened again – and it really was horrible. Anyone walking in would have thought she was having some kind of a seizure. The good news is that when this happened, our doctor was standing right outside the door doing rounds. So, he saw what was going on and immediately ordered her a high dose of benedryl. Once that came, it took one nurse plus myself to hold her down while another nurse gave her the medicine. Within 20 minutes, she was much better. The benedryl also knocked her out. This is when I learned that a child in a benedryl-induced sleep, if awakened will be extremely agitated. We learned this when the first rheumatologist arrived. She was wonderful, but Jasmine literally woke up kicking and screaming. The doctor only wanted to look at the rash and listen to her heart and lungs. She got kicked – I got bitten. Apparently, though, this is normal and caused by the medicine. I still felt sorry for the doctor. What followed was a major temper tantrum – because she did not want to be there – she wanted to go home, etc. I can’t say I blamed her.

The whole thing was horrible, and I was beyond my breaking point. I’m so thankful for our head nurse who was ready with a hug and a listening ear. She even arranged for me to have a breast pump so that I could pump for Robbie while I was at the hospital.

Several hours later, she went back to sleep and the head rheumatologist arrived. She was also wonderful, and I felt like we were finally getting some answers. They still didn’t know what the problem was, but – the worst case scenario was rocky mountain spotted fever. The test for that takes several weeks to come back from the lab, and you can’t wait that long to treat, so, although no one really thinks that’s the problem, they were putting her on antibiotics just in case (because the risk of not treating would be long term issues). They really think it’s an atypical version of HSP which is a vascular issue where the blood vessels contract and cause the rash and bruising. HSP usually goes along with joint pain and severe stomach cramps (because the blood vessels are contracting internally as well). Jasmine did not have the joint or stomach pains, but the rash seemed to be following the HSP pattern. The doctor really thought it was a severe reaction to a virus. Either way, if left alone it would get better on its own, but would take longer and Jasmine would suffer more. So, she would be put on a decreasing dose of steroids to help move the improvement along and also help to control the itching. However, with the flare-ups from the night before and the morning, they wanted to watch her for another night.

Saturday: After seeing our doctor, another infectious disease doctor and the head rheumatologist, they decided to let us go home!!! WOO HOO!!! Not a minute too soon, either. We had another stand-off over the fact that she didn’t like the hospital food and didn’t want to order her lunch – which she told the rheumatologist (“I hate your food”) and then made up a little “I hate your food song” which she sang throughout her examination. I think that was probably the steroids starting to kick in.

Jasmine was so happy to come home. We left with an official diagnosis of “probable HSP” and antibiotics and steroids medicines. The rash will be there for a few more weeks (up to 12, but probably closer to 4), and she’ll need to have regular blood pressure and urinalysis with her pediatrician – tapering off after 3 months.

All in all, DuPont was wonderful! I can’t say enough good things about the hospital and our team of doctors. They were all so caring and so good with children. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t take her to the ER prior to the pediatrician visit, since we would have ended up at the local hospital, and she would not have had nearly the quality of care or the number of experienced doctors and specialists trying to heal her.

And I’m so thankful for the many, many prayers that went out for our family.  I know they helped not only Jasmine but the emotional state of the rest of the family as well.

I’m just so glad that our whole family is home together again and that she is on the mend!!!