Saturday, March 31, 2012

End of March

I finished working on Michele's quilt the other day.  This is for a new niece or nephew (not sure which...I think she said nephew).  She wanted very angular stitching and the initials sewn into the center square.  I had a long wait before I got the backing for the quilt, but it was finally delivered and now it's DONE!  I have four or five more quilts waiting in line--one for Lauri, one for my sister, one for Sharon, and a couple of my own quilt tops waiting in the wings.  I also have three quilts waiting for bindings so I can have them ready for the quilt shows this summer.

I started a new weave with Baronial and Kingdom colors.  This doesn't have any particular home in mind, but will probably end up as a prize or on the sale table at a big event this summer.  I've formed a great partnership with the fabric dealer, so I'm thinking maybe July will be the time to set out my weavings.

I did some repair work on the old loom.  The uprights were loose and the screws weren't helping, either.  It was painfully evident as I was warping it up the last few times--it would start out fine, but after four or five cards were put in, the first two cards were loose and had to be tightened.  I took it apart, slathered it in wood glue, clamped it together and let it sit overnight.  It's working really nicely now!  I will have to do the pegs next; a few of them are loose, too.  Considering how many pieces I've woven on it these last few months, I'd surprised it's lasted this long.  Now that it's had the bumper-to-bumper, it should be good for another 3,000 miles.

One thing I haven't done much of lately is knitting.  This is usually something I do in the cold weather months.  I started a Turkish sock using alpaca, which is deliciously soft, but I didn't get very far.  I had to rip it back to the toenails because it was too small for my foot, I added a few stitches, and started again, but I think it's still too small and I may have to start yet again.  Because it's a two-color pattern, maybe I'm not leaving enough slack in the yarn, or maybe I'm using smaller yarn than I'm used to, but something is different about it.  I'm just not ready to analyze it now.

I still have a tunic to finish for Tyrssen--it's been hanging in my closet for way too long.  I gotta get the pieces cut out and sewn together!  I'm also working on a red, white and blue swap for an online quilt group that I need to finish up ASAP.  The blocks were supposed to arrive on March 15th, but here it is the 30th and four people keep promising to send them...come on, guys!!  I know, things came up in our lives (hospital, health, work craziness) so I've extended the deadline.  Hopefully we'll have people participating in greater numbers in May.

We finally had another girl scout meeting this week--we had to miss one or two with Ben being in the hospital--and a couple days later, I get a note from one of the moms saying that her daughter is quitting scouts.  I don't know why, but I can't help but take it personally.  I wrote a note back to the Mom immediately and haven't heard anything back yet.  It makes me wonder if two years is enough being the leader.  I'm just sad that no one else seems to want to step up and do it, so I'm left holding the proverbial bag.  The girls LOVE being part of the group (or at least appear to), but none of the parents have time to participate.  Ever.  (Except Leena, my co-leader, who occasionally is out of town on business, and finding someone to co-lead with me is near-impossible.)  It's frustrating and while I don't want to abandon the kids, I can't stand people who complain about how I'm doing my job but aren't willing to step up and help.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birthday Bash!

The post was originally entitled "not much" but then I realized I was missing a lot of stuff that happened over the weekend!!

So first, the tablet weaving continues!  I finished three lanyards for my Sounders friends, including Kelly, Daniel, Jose, Meli, Brandon, and Lauren.  The other three I just finished taking off the loom yesterday but I have yet to finish the ends and turn it into a lanyard.  The second set I made a bit longer to fit the taller folks in the group.  This one I sized for myself, which should fit Jose and Meli.  Kelly wore this one to Friday's game with his season pass card in it.  After I took the last weaving off the loom, I took the loom out to the garage and glued the upright pieces back together.  It's had a lot of hard use lately so things were loose and wiggly and it desperately needed some reinforcement.  It didn't help  that it has been dropped on the ground more than once.  Great globs of wood glue should be good for another 3,000 miles.

For my birthday, Kelly got me a very cool gift--seats in row E at the midfield line!  We could almost see the whites of their eyes!  Or some people who aren't nearsighted could have seen the whites of their eyes...we were right by #24 (my birthday!) Roger Levesque, one of the goofiest men in soccer.

We started with dinner at our favorite dim sum place in the International district.  Kelly said the few words he knew in Cantonese ("good food" and "beer") to the waitress, an older Chinese lady, who talked back to him in Cantonese.  When he responded with a blank face and, "uhhhh..." she proceeded to cuss him out in Chinese for not speaking more of the language--trying to trick her into making her think he could speak Chinese and he only knows five words.  It was funny as hell!

The game kicked off just after 7:00 pm and we WON 2-0!  WOO!  I got a new scarf there that reads "KINGS OF CASCADIA"...the cup that they've won three years in a row.  The new goalkeeper seems to be a good choice--he made a couple spectacular saves.

Afterwards, I picked up some of the leftover rolls of green streamers that people threw down during the game (which is a huge nuisance when it gets on the field, but fun when it drifts down into the stands).  There were half-rolls left over under some of the seats, so I picked a couple of them up and put them in my pocket.  We kinda floundered around looking for a place to have drinks and food, but the kitchens were serving weird food or were closed.  Eventually we settled on a little sports bar that only had fried foods left, so we got some little shrimpies, french fries and chicken wings.  Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea...

The next day was my birthday!  WOO!  Cammie was very sweet and cooked me breakfast in the morning.  Unfortunately, she did it very early and I didn't get down to eat it until it was cold, but it was a very sweet thought.  She made me tea, french toast, and left out an apple and a stick cheese.  Such a sweet girl!  And a good cook, too!  I heated up the french toast in the microwave for a minute and it was yummy!  She also found my Sounders Rave Green streamers and decorated the staircases and dining room for the party.

In the mid-afternoon, Heide arrived from a long drive from near Vancouver and helped me get ready for the party.  We then sat and had tea and cookies until the other guests began to arrive.  Becca arrived with the cake she made for layer was vanilla cake with lemon custard filling, the other was chocolate with cherry filling.  Yum!!

The party got underway.  At one point, it was mentioned that I needed a birthday James's daughter made one for me out of aluminum foil.  I think it looks better on James, tho.

A lovely lavender plant arrived for me from Mom.  I'll have to figure out where to plant it.  I had it indoors for a few days and it started to get pretty wilted, so I watered it a bunch and then stuck it outside, where it looks much happier.

I received a few other gifts from friends--four bottles of cider from Jose, Meli & Daniel.  Two of them are my favorite, Thistly Cross, a Scottish cider.  The other two were kinds I hadn't tried before--one was a stout-like cider, dark and thick.  The other was a lighter one that I didn't care much for.  I taught a couple people how to play Tablero, which was great fun,

I also got a basket of travel supplies from Jen and Darby--a pair of towels, a washcloth, razor, toothbrush, sewing kit, first aid kit, and more...including a make-your-own Marvin the Martian kit.  Heide brought me some hand-spun yarn from Godith's sheep.

On Tuesday, it was Girl Scout day--we ate cupcakes and played board games like Nine Men's Morris, Fox and Geese, Mancala, and Peg Solitaire.  I was going to guy some glass droplets to use as game pieces, but realized it would be a lot cheaper (and tastier!) to use M&Ms.  The girls got together and bought me some flowers, two cards that included gift cards for Starbuck's and Michael's.  I love those girls!  They're awesome!!  We made some plans to have a badge ceremony and work on earning more badges.
So...what else have I been doing?  Not much.  Taking kids to doctor appointments, karate, school, scouts...the usual stuff.  Busy.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New stuff

Spent the weekend in Bham for the Ithra.  Godith allowed me to stay at her place in her newly retro-fitted home, where she spent a bit of money updating all the insulation and ventilation systems in the 100 year old part of the house.  The newer part of the house (about 20 years) doesn't need as much work, which includes the master bedroom and rec room.  Although we had originally slated to hold the session at a local historical home, we ended up having to cancel that location to avoid the extraordinary expense and we had it at Godith's instead.

I ended up teaching three classes this weekend--I had signed up to teach one, then was asked to co-teach a second, then an instructor ended up being scheduled to work (after she had already been given the weekend off), so I took over her class.  My classes I taught were card weaving (with Miss Bek), Pattern Drafting (the class I took over), and Dyeing Wool with Kool Aid.

We had some issues with the looms we provided for the card weaving class. It was a small piece of 1 x 2 pine and two small c-clamps.  It didn't have enough clearance for the cards to turn well and it was too lightweight to use effectively--especially for new students.  I talked with another artisan who gave me a good idea to try, then went to work building this very simple solution out of scraps of wood in my garage.  Four holes drilled in the base, two holes drilled in each of the four 1 x 1 blocks, and four nuts & bolts.  I would prefer to use wing nuts, but I didn't find any that would fit in our collection of bits in the garage, and figured this was just a prototype.  It works!  I figure with the parts--although I have to price them out at the store since the web sites for these hardware stores SUCK (you search for 4" bolts and you get hinges, eye bolts, and other weird things)--the cost for each loom would be under $5.  It took about an hour to make this, and only took that long because I was hunting around for parts, having problems with the drill press.

The pattern drafting class was a first time for me and I just threw the handout together with a bunch of links, images and a few patterns.  I got copies of the other instructor's handouts which is mostly text, so they compliment each other pretty well.  There were three students and they seemed to enjoy the class, made a body block based on their measurements, and sewed together a tiny dress sized for an American Girl doll.  I taught more than just how to make patterns and measure, but also taught each of them to sew a running stitch (boy, it was painful watching them do their stitches...I just couldn't stand it anymore), taught one student how to find 10% (apparently the Seattle public school system was unsatisfactory), and we had a fun, relaxing time.  One student also bribed me with chocolate wine, a large chocolate bar, and a chocolate candle for allowing her to register at the last minute.

The last class was a small one with only two students--we dyed yarn with kool aid.  Then the hostess and my bursar came over and jumped in on the class as well, bringing wool roving to use in the kool aid to see what would happen.

On Monday morning, we had to go to see the surgeon (or his nurse, as it turned out) and the dieticians about Ben's button and how to use the feeding tube.  But on the way to drop the girls off, my car started overheating.  The fact that there was snow and ice on the car in the morning and I only drove 5 miles meant there was something seriously wrong with the minivan.  I made it to the school parking lot and turned the car off, then called Kelly to have him drive us to our appointments (he had planned on coming anyway, so there was nothing lost there).  Afterwards, I drove it another couple of miles to the shop to have it looked at.  A couple hours later, they call with the results--water pump, thermostat, bad tires, and much more.  $2000 more.  Wow.  Happy birthday to me.

We used Ben's button for the first time last night for an overnight feed.  There were some issues with getting the pump to work properly and it wasn't supposed to beep when it's done, but it woke him up at 6:30 this morning.  It was fairly sensitive for disconnecting this morning and he wanted to do it himself.  Then there was the cleaning up the parts and I'm not really sure how many times we can use the parts before they need to be disposed--I think it's a week.  It was a lot of information to process in a single sitting, but there is a set of directions that came with it...I'll have to investigate it further.  But at least he can take baths and go swimming and do karate and do all the normal things that kids love to do.

The neighbor's house, which has been empty for more than two years, is finally getting emptied of all the trash left behind (box springs, old clothes, etc.).  It was put up for auction on the courthouse steps, which means that it has had all the liens cleared from it and it will soon be put on the market (no one in their right mind would pay the amount that was owed on it with all the back taxes, overdue mortgage payments, etc.).  It'll be nice to have a family living in it again rather than just watching it rot in place.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Home Again

We were finally released on day 15 and came home around dinnertime.  We dropped everything in the living room and collapsed into our comfortable routines.  I made spaghetti for dinner.

Ben slept a lot and then played X-box a lot.

Emma got oral surgery.  Then she played X-box a lot.

Cammie's fine. :)  She's had nothing removed or implanted.

I've spent the last couple of days putting together class handouts for the upcoming Ithra session--I had volunteered to teach one class on wool dyeing (Kool Aid!), but I ended up volunteering to teach another class on Pattern Drafting. I don't know if the previously scheduled instructor (who is coming Saturday but can't stay Sunday due to a last-minute work schedule change) is bringing handouts, so I threw together nine pages of images, links and a little bit of text.  I'm thinking that we'll talk about measurements, adding wiggle room and seam allowance, and drawing up body blocks.  I had two other instructors cancel all their classes; one was on a cross-country trip when their RV broke down 3000 miles away and the part they need wasn't available until *yesterday*, so they're either still getting it fixed, or finally heading back in this direction...but they couldn't get here for at least 4 days, unless they take turns driving for two straight days and nights...and I don't think they're that crazy.  The other instructor has severe allergies to cats and can't come teach at the location where we are having the session.  Unfortunately the previous location was going to cost $600 for the weekend and we didn't get anywhere near enough registrations to cover it.

SO, long story short, we are going to have about 20 students hanging out together over St. Paddy's day weekend.  Gotta wear my GREEN garb!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Club Med, Day...uh...14.

Ben got his button surgery today, aka the G-tube.  He was originally scheduled to have the surgery at 1:00, but it was bumped to an earlier time slot, which meant that Kelly was already running late.  I texted him to let him know that they were moving the schedule up and he wrote back saying that he was on his way.  They started prepping him around 8:00 (and letting both of us sleep while they washed him down with the chlorhexidine wipes) and we were headed downstairs a little after 9:15.  The surgery started around 10:00 and Kelly and I met up for a little breakfast, and they were done by 11:30 or so.  We grabbed a light lunch and headed back to the room, where they brought him back to recover.  He's been sleeping on and off all afternoon.

I'd take a picture and post it, but he's pretty sensitive about showing it to anyone, even the doctors.  If I could, I would, along with the caption, "Baby's first piercing".  It would be funny.  I'd chuckle to myself.

I'm really tired of confined spaces and really sick of cafeteria food.  What I wouldn't give for a good steak right now.  I might even kill for a steak.

Kill a cow, that is.  What did you think I meant?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Club Med: Day 11? 12?

No idea what day it is now.  It's been a blur of breathing treatments, antibiotics, PFTs, weight checks, and nagging about eating...not to mention the parade of doctors and nurses and specialists coming and going.  From 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., a steady stream of people are pestering us for measurements and treatments.  The girl across the hall, another CF patient, remarked to one of the nurses that she thought Ben was very funny with his vest treatments.  There's a YouTube video out there somewhere, but I don't know where it is, what it's called, or even the account name.  Pfft.  I'll find it later.

Today Ben had a series of Xrays while swallowing a cup of cherry-flavored (sort of) barium.  He didn't care for it, of course, but he was a great patient and did swallow mouthfuls of the chalky substance when instructed.  The purpose, of course, was to get images of his stomach and intestines to make sure everything looks and functions normally before they do the surgery to install a G-tube.

So what is a G-tube?  Well, boys and girls, a G-tube is an access directly to the stomach through the abdominal wall (as opposed to a nasal-gastric tube, which goes up the nose, down the throat and into the stomach).  Overnight, we can plug him in and slowly drip food into his stomach to help him gain weight while he sleeps.  They've done this thousands of times and there is very little risk, so we decided that we're worn out from begging, threatening and bribing him to eat.  He just can't do more, so we're at the point where this is the next logical step.  It's not permanent, so if, in a year or two, we decide that he can work harder at eating and doesn't need additional feeds, we can have it removed.  Let's hope this is a very temporary thing.  I mean, really...who needs extra work?  Us, apparently.

I started a new weaving project:  I'm making lanyards for my fellow Sounders fans to wear around their necks as season ticket holding devices.  Here you can see the front and the reverse sides of the weaving, both of which are *gorgeous*! The colors are white (obviously), moody blue, and  I forget exactly which color green it is.  Either Colony Green, Myrtle Green or Dark Green.  I'll have to look at the labels on the tubes again.  Unfortunately, once you peel the label off to use the thread, the sticky label is all covered in fuzz and won't stick to anything.  Not that it matters, since there's nothing on the tube to stick it to.

We'll probably be here at the hospital for another day or two--we're thinking it'll be Tuesday when we get let loose, and maybe Thursday or Friday before Mr. B can go back to school.  He's not going to be showing off his G-tube to anyone, though--it took a couple days before he freely let the nurses look at his PICC line.  Funny guy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Whoops...NOW it's day 8

Nothing very exciting to report.  Ben needs to eat more.  He had ice cream and cookies for dinner.  Apparently he doesn't like the cooking at the hospital.  Don't blame him, really.

Tonight I went to a Sounders game with Bekah, Kelly and the rest of Gang Green, including its newest member, Lauren (the pic is me and Bekah--our 2nd annual photo op for Sounders games...good thing you can't see how my hair was standing on end from static).  They were playing Santos Laguna, a Mexican team, for the CONCACAF quarterfinals.  Funny thing is the fans from Santos were scattered throughout the stadium and were yelling very naughty things in Spanish.  When our goalie kicked the ball back into play, they yell "Punta!"--literally translated to "asshole"--to which one of our fans responded to him, "We're winning!"  Bekah and I burst into giggles at how his childlike voice gleefully announced our impending victory.... and we won!!  2-1 in a very exciting game.  I was sure a fight was going to break out on the field a couple of times, and it seemed clear that the Santos team was playing rather rough and the ref wasn't calling them on the fouls like he should have.  They have to travel to Mexico now to play the second half of the 180 minutes, and hopefully they can hold the lead to go into the semi-finals.

We stopped at a deli before the game where I had the best turkey sandwich ever.  It's amazing how days of cafeteria food can make something so simple taste so extraordinary.

"Home" again and Ben is more interested in playing with a folding ruler than eating anything.  Sigh.  Eat your cookie, BEN!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Club Med, Days 6-8

I've lost track of the days's Tuesday now, and we had some adventures.  Yesterday was a busy day; we had lots of treatments and a PFT (pulmonary function test).  The numbers from that test were very encouraging, although some of his small airways are still impaired.  Within the normal range, but they've been higher.  We're hoping they'll improve a bit more before we head home, which will likely be on Monday.  It looks like we may be able to get a vest to use at home, too--that will be far easier, especially  on those days when he isn't interested in doing the acapella.

The hardest part of our stay here is not being in my own bed and not having a home cooked meal.  I miss my own cooking.  We can't afford to have me eat out all the time, so I'm trying to be frugal, but frugality without a kitchen tastes like crap.  There's a fridge (shared amongst all the families on the floor) and a microwave that's as old as Methuselah.  No oven, no stove...just the basics.  There's also a cafeteria, which gives a 5% discount if you use their pre-paid card (which you can refill in $5 increments), and they have a pretty good salad bar.  The rest is cafeteria food, pre-packaged chips, soft drinks, etc.  I'm trying to stick with salads, skim milk, and a little extra protein...often skimming leftovers from Ben's dinner trays.  Getting him to eat more has been a challenge, too--he doesn't care for their cooking, either. When we get home, we'll have to institute mandatory snack times.

Bedtimes are really hard to institute--he's not tired and there's so much activity until 11 at night.  There are volunteers who stop by to help entertain him, which would give me some time to go get a cuppa or run some errands, but more often than not, they stop by when we have visitors or when he's in the midst of treatments.

In the quieter times, after I've finally turned off the lights or when he's working on a project, I'm either weaving on the watermelon band, or I'm watching the Patrick Swayze "North and South" series.  (Or sometimes both.)  Technically, I think it's too big to be called a mini-series when it has some 24 hours of footage over three seasons.  It was on Amazon for more than 65% off the retail price, and I'd been waiting for it on Netflix for a long time...I suspect they lost some of the discs and never bothered to replace them.  For around $20, I got all three seasons.  There are parts of it I really like, but other parts that are just annoying.  The women's costumes are good, for the most part, but sometimes an outfit comes out that's just weird, and Kirstie Alley always looks like she walked off the "Cheers" set and just put on a different dress.  Her hair looks too 1980s to be 1850s.  The Northerners' house is nice, but it looks like they just filled the streets with beach sand.  Don't get me started about their accents--when they say "house" and "about" they sound Canadian.  But I'm so intrigued, I have to keep watching.

I took a short walk today down to the grocery store.  They had my favorite granola bars and I got Ben some more of those dipped granola bars.  When I got back, I picked up a Venti size cold drink cup from the coffee shop downstairs that I've filled three times with water.  I noticed that I hadn't been drinking near enough water these last few days.  I'm not very good at judging distances, but it's about 7 or 8 blocks each way, so it was a pretty good hike.  The weather was so nice and sunny, I had to.  A bit nippy, but sunny.  Hopefully it'll be just as nice tomorrow. :)


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Club Med, Days 4 & 5

The weekend arrived and the attending parents rotated positions.  Friday started with a Chinese feast in the hospital room.  Nancy, Nate, Jean, and our whole family were in the room together, gorging on fried rice, sweet & sour chicken, and various forms of shrimp and vegetables.  YUM!  The cleaning lady (who was, by coincidence, Chinese) came in to empty the garbage cans while we were still eating, then came back a couple hours later to thoughtfully take away the dinner garbage.  We thanked her for her foresight.  I'll have to slip a chocolate into her pocket next time she comes in.  They truly are the forgotten heroes of this place.

Cam went south to visit with her cousin, Aunt & Uncle for the weekend (an experience I don't remember ever having had as a child) and Em and I spend the weekend lazing around the house and doing a couple trips to the hospital for visiting.  OK, we also did some laundry, dishes, slept, watched TV, and ate dinner out at KFC.  It was a raucous weekend.  Woot.

When I returned today, Ben's school principal and his wife were visiting.  I had never had the opportunity to meet her before and she is really delightful.  She's of some form of African descent, but has the coolest almost-blue eyes.  I can't even describe the color...just amazing!  They brought him one of those shiny helium balloons and he just LOVES it!

We are finally settling into a bit of a routine--medications morning, noon and night...and late night.  Twice daily, he's getting the full on respiratory therapy--albuterol, flovent, and 7% hypertonic saline and he gets 20 minutes 4 times a day in the Vest.  In the evening they add another medication called Pulmozyme.  Once daily he gets one antibiotic, and four times daily he gets a second antibiotic.  Then four times a day they take his vitals, just as a matter of course.  Three meals a day, two snacks a day, doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, residents, nursing students,'s a constant parade of people in here from 8 a.m. to about 11 p.m.  Then he finally has a midnight snack and off to bed!  The volunteers are a great service, but I've turned them away more than once just because we haven't had more than a few minutes alone all day.  Yesterday one of them dropped off a Sorry! game, which we will play again tomorrow.  He played a game with Nate when Cammie was returned back from her visit.

Having some time on my hands, I am keeping busy with weaving.  I finished the Anchors Aweigh! weave yesterday and will soon be shipping it off to Wisconsin to its new owner.  He's already seen the picture and is pretty excited about receiving it.  I don't know if he's going to turn it into a belt or suspenders, but there's quite a lot to work with--it's 4 yards long.  Maybe he can do both?

My new project on the loom is for local SCA gal, JuJu, who requested a weave that looks sorta like watermelons to match an outfit she has already.  She grabbed the yellow and red weave that was set out for sale at Gypsy Caravan in January that I finished some time back and asked if I could do that in two tones of green, pink and a black center.  No problem!  Unfortunately, I lost my directions for how I did the yellow one, so I had to kinda make it up again.  It looks very similar, but I think it's narrower than the yellow band at only 2 cm wide.  I'll have to measure the yellow one when I get home.

I had packed my sewing machine and a couple of quilting projects to work on, but not having a good table to work on, I left it in the car.  The other day, one of the nurses found a spare dinner table for us and brought it in, and have never come back to reclaim it.  Now that I have a small table to work on, I don't have the drive to go get it.  Not yet, anyway. 

I guess the computer is keeping Ben awake, so I should head to bed myself.  More tomorrow.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Club Med, Day 3

With the PICC line in, all was better with medicine administration, but retrieving blood samples for testing couldn't be done through the same line.  Apparently, the medicine adheres to the walls of the tubes and gives incorrect numbers for levels in the bloodstream, so he's required to get two pokes a day...not fun.  This evening's first poke required a nurse and myself to hold him down while the phlebotomist drew the sample...not fun.  Even the sparkley band aid, the promise of ice cream and singing his favorite song was not enough to calm him down...too smart for that.  'If you want to go home,' she said, 'you'll have to give us a sample so we know you're getting better.'  He was screaming "GO AWAY!" and said that he'd just stay in the hospital rather than get a poke.  Sigh.  After it was over, he got ice cream and stickers anyway (the Incredible Hulk...she said he was that strong)...and his dinner showed up just then--fish sticks, rice and a giant cookie.  Yum!

We had a bunch of testing to do today, so along came the medicine tree, which was pushed around by a couple of different attendants.  A nursing student followed along to watch the pulmonary function tests and Xrays, and while I had to hold the rat and mask, I decided to make better use of both.  Tiny the rat rode along and stayed in there quite well as we went up and down the elevator, down the long hallways and over various thresholds from one building to another. First he did a pulmonary function test, which appeared to have improved since Tuesday.  While he was getting the Xray of his lungs, he had to hold his arms above his head for the side-view shot while wearing a lead sarong around his hips...which kept falling down.  Standing in this odd position, he realized how it must look and he declared he was a ballerina.  
He kept busy during the time he was in his room, lots of activities going on and volunteers to help entertain him.  He also got the rest of his math homework done while his Grandma visited, and then they made puppets!  I ran down to the store to get a few supplies (they have whole white milk and skim chocolate milk, but not fatty chocolate milk...hello, Nesquik!).  Since he needs higher amounts of fat, we've been trying to find good fatty snacks for him to eat.  Since everyone *else* in the world is on a low-fat kick, it's really hard to find high-fat snacks.  I did find out that Ben likes those frosted animal cookies...6 cookies per serving...7 grams of fat.  Score!

Today they tried two new therapies--hypertonic saline and the "vest".  Hypertonic saline is, as you might guess, aerosolized salt water.  They start with a 3% concentration and work up to 7%.  The vest is--if you can imagine this--a combination between an inflatable waterski vest and a vibrating hotel bed.  The vest fills with air and then it pulsates to shake the crap out of his lungs.  He hates the saline.  Loves the vest.  He was singing and laughing and making funny noises while the vest was on.  No end of entertainment to the nursing staff, who adore him, of course.  

Kelly and the girls came by after dinner and visited for a couple hours.   We walked down to the playroom and showed them the therapy pool, and showed them around the floor a little.  They headed out at about 8 pm and we watched a movie before bed.  When the movie was just about over, the chest physiotherapist finally showed up and Ben got to do the second Vest therapy for the day.  
I got a letter from my Dad after the movie was over and I stayed up a little later and wrote him back.  He's recovering well, but slowly.   Good news!