No Wonder Our Mothers Drank The Hard Stuff

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 06/30/15 8:35 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog

Have you ever wondered what the first Independence Day celebrations  were like?  I don’t know if it was because I spent a lot of time as a kid watching Little House on the Prairie reruns or if it was because historical fiction was a genre that spoke to me when I was a young reader, but I often find myself wondering how in the world pioneeer women did it.  How did they take care of their families, protect their children, cook,  clean and clothe without the modern day conveniences of today?

Good God it must have been tough.

Like hellish.

Even during the course of my life caring for a family has changed drastically.  I remember when we got our first microwave.  It was my mom’s birthday. My dad surprised her and it was such a big, hairy deal that a small crowd of neighbors gathered around the giant box on our back patio to watch my mom open it.

It was as big as a fridge.

I think it took a couple of the men-folk to haul it inside and when they did we all gathered around while we boiled water…in two minutes.  It was epic.

So much was different of our mothers.  Fresh fruit was available “in season”; a quick supper consisted of “Swanson dinners” baked up in an oven (Remember the apples? The salisbury steak?); and most of the time dishes were done by hand…over and over again.

No wonder that generation drinks the hard stuff.  Roll those challenges up with the pressure of preparing for a holiday and good God…I’d be hitting the Manhattans, too.

In fact, sometimes I think Pinterest inspired, intricate party fare was because food preparation has become too easy. Where our mothers and grandmothers would have been slaving in the kitchen preparing apple pie from scratch–crust and all–our generation buys a pie from a gourmet bakery–in our supermarket– and instead slaves over glue guns, fancy chalk labels and decorated mason jars.

Blueberry pie circa 2012

Blueberry pie circa 2012

Yes.  That’s it.  Pinterest crap was born out of not having enough challenge in our domestic lives.  Instead of reveling in the ease of modern convenience we complicate matters with crafts.

My mama made these!  (Well...not the wine.  She bought that and I love her for it!)

Simple food.

This Fourth of July we are celebrating small.  A few close friends over for fireworks, potluck salads, ribs and an array of slider options.  I do admit to perusing Pinterest for slider recipes and if you listened to me this morning on 101.5 The River you heard me talking about the three recipes I picked out.

They are here…

Spicy Peanut Butter Bacon Sliders

Aloha Barbecue Sliders

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

If you are more interested in the low and slow method of preparing of ribs you can read my post  HERE!

Of course I’ll also be making strawberry pretzel salad.  (Using the term “salad” loosely here,  folks.   How a recipe that calls for two cups of sugar and an entire container of Cool Whip is called a “salad”? It’s a local thing.)

Ohio for the win.

Not really just Ohio for the win.  How about the United States for the win?  Or, better yet, how about women who don’t have to cook EVERYTHING from scratch, can heat water in two minutes, and buy wonderful homemade pie at the supermarket for the win!

Happy Independence Day, friends!



Attempted to go blueberry picking but the u-picks weren't open yet.  We settled on  fruit stand Michigan rasberries and blueberries which eventually became a bumble berry pie!  Yum.








If Only It Was Always Summer: An Update on Nicholas

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 06/24/15 5:21 PM

It’s been awhile friends.  Too long.

For that, I apologize.

I’ve been sucked into the vortex of managing six kids of very different ages.  Meeting their differing needs seems to take every minute of my day.  If only these posts could go straight from my brain to the blog.   On that note…if only laundry did itself; meals cooked themselves; houses cleaned themselves…

There are so many “if onlys” none of which is more prevalent in my brain than the following…

If only it was ALWAYS summer.

You see, summer agrees with Nicholas.  The warm weather.  The absence of cold and flu season.  The ability to leave the house to explore and discover.  This boy can’t get enough of the outside world–and people.  He loves everyone.  There is no stranger-danger wired into this one.  He shares smiles with enthusiam.  His joy with every new experience…and person… is palpable.



He thinks grass is hilarious.



Nicholas had ear tubes surgically placed in late April, a common procedure for kids with PCD due to the malfunction of the cilia in the eustachion tubes.  He is our third child to have tubes, but our only who has struggled with persistent infection after surgery.

It was our expectation that the tubes would negate chronic ear infections.  They didn’t.   Antibiotic ear drops were prescribed.  They didn’t work.  Then we tried a different kind of drop to no avail. That’s when we turned to numerous courses of oral antibiotics that not only failed but led to a gut infection called “c-diff”.  (An intestinal infection brought about by too many oral antibiotics in the gut.)

By Memorial Day weekend Nicholas was a hot mess of ear drainage and the scariest diapers this mother of six has ever seen.  (And that’s saying a lot, folks.)

Complicating matters this is what we were doing Memorial Day weekend.


and this…


Nicholas’ baptism. May 23, 2015


Um…mama ain’t got time for this right now…’kay Nicholas?”

After some talk of hospital admission, putting him on another antibiotic to clear up the c-diff, and a consult with an infectious disease doctor we decided to take him off of all oral antibiotics and see if the gut problems cleared on their own.  The good news is they did.  The bad news was the ear infection continued to rage causing Nicholas to be in a lot of pain.  Especially at night.

Which meant no one was sleeping.

So…here’s where the story gets all Karma-like.  It was MK’s kindergarten graduation dinner and I must have looked like hell because the father of one of her friends commented about how tired I looked.

I was.

I was so damn tired I could have curled up on that banquet room floor and snored my way through the chaos that comes with eating dinner with 38 kindergarteners and their families.

That tired.

When I explained what was going on with the ear infection he responded, “Well…couldn’t he have a shot of Rocephin?

Rocephin is a powerful antibiotic that can be given via injection.  Drew had several shots of rocephin when he was a baby and they always worked when oral antibiotics didn’t.  That was a brilliant idea.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

A few days later I took the idea to my pediatrician who agreed, administered two injections four days apart and wah-lah…


…we have a happy, ear-infection-free baby boy.

So, where was the karma?

You see, that dad who gave me the brilliant piece of advice—  well, he was my 7th grade student.   A billion years ago I was his science teacher. Now our daughters are classmates and BFFs.   And, he solved a huge medical problem for my son because he’s really smart, he was a whiz at science and now he’s a doctor.

Sometimes Karma is a bitch.

On this day…well…karma was my friend.


So, summer is in full swing at the Savage household and Nicholas couldn’t be happier…or healthier.  We’ve learned to time his daily aerosols with naps or thirty minute episodes of Barney, and I think he is starting to understand us when we tell him to cough.  (Coughing is important because it clears the gunk from his lungs.)

In addition, Nicholas continues to slam dunk his milestones.  He’s is sitting up unassisted and can support himself on all fours.   Crawling is right around the corner which will render him one of our earliest to reach that benchmark.  He has two teeth, eats three squares a day and waves bye-bye with pride.

He thinks grass is the bomb.

The cheeks.  I know.

One thing he isn’t doing is sleeping through the night.  As tired as I am, I kind of don’t mind.  After all, it’s summer and it’s warm when I drag myself out of bed.  Plus, we don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time.  The pressure of the school year  is off.  So, instead of mentally ticking through my to-do list, the stillness of the night gives me a moment to focus on all that is good.

That’s where I find peace, and for that I am grateful.

If only it was always summer.

A Seventh Birthday

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 03/29/15 11:41 AM

Seven years ago today a little girl bounced into our world at a whopping 2 pounds 15 ounces.  We learned immediately that what she lacked in size she made up for in spunk!

Mary Kate, 2008 at a whopping 2 pounds 15 ounces.

Mary Kate, 2008

Seven years later Mary Kate continues to amaze us.  When not reading her favoritie American Girl book she loves making her baby brother laugh and playing Calico Critters with her two little sisters.  In addition to loving ballet, soccer, running and acting Mary Kate is always up for a snuggle with a side of sass.

Mary Kate met Kit Kittredge, American Girl, on her 5th birthday compliments of Grandma Kate, Grandma Linda and Papa.  They are inseparable.

Mary Kate, 2013

Mary Kate, 2014

Mary Kate, 2014

Tonight is her final performance in CTW’s production of the Unprincess and never has their been an “Annie the Inn Keeper” who nailed her part with such enthusiasm.

Annie the Inn Keeper getting her make-up!

Annie the Inn Keeper getting her make-up!

MK with Aunt Jo Jo

MK with Aunt Jo Jo


DSC_0126We are so very proud of our girl.  It is a pleasure to parent her!



DSC_0144DSC_0147DSC_0151Happy Birthday, MK.  We love you!


He Laughs in His Sleep

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 03/26/15 2:22 PM

I could probably leave it at that because he really does.  The first time I saw him do it I thought it was gas or a fluke, but I’ve now witnessed the phenomenon repeatedly.  It truly is laughter.



Of course, he has reason to smile.  He is four months old and thriving.  Weighing in at a healthy thirteen and a half pounds, Nicholas continues to slam dunk all of his milestones.  With the exception of a run-of-the-mill ear infection, he has also managed to remain healthy.

Thank God.

As for the rest of us, we are adjusting to our new normal.  Being the mother of six is a lot.  A lot of chaos.  A lot of laundry.  A lot of crazy.  And, a lot of love.  Every time I find myself dragging due to sleep deprivation I remember where we stood only a few months ago and mutter a prayer of thanks giving.  We are so very grateful.


Amidst the gratitude there is still a little bit of angst.  Because Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia is genetic we were encouraged to have our other five children tested for the disease.  Sean and I were genotyped last month and we know now that we are both carriers of a mutated CCDC 40 allele.  (Admission…the only reason I can remember it is the CCDC allele is because CCDC reminds me of AC/DC. You’ve got to love a little heavy metal word association to keep one looking smart.)

Anyways, Sean and I were very confident that none of them had it.  We’ve never seen any symptoms that mimic what Nicholas has been through.  Unfortunately, our confidence was misplaced.  Turns out two of our other children have PCD.

When we learned of the test results we were stunned and stumped.  Stunned because our other five are generally pretty healthy.  Stumped because we weren’t sure how to best proceed while respecting our children’s privacy.

It’s their lives.  It’s truly not up to us to divulge that kind of information without their permission.

So, after spending a few weeks discussing it we’ve landed in a comfortable spot.  It’s okay for me to write about PCD.  It’s okay for me to talk about parenting three children with a respiratory illness.  But we’re going to leave it at that until the other kids are old enough to tell me if it’s okay for me to write specifically about them.

I think that’s how I would’ve wanted my mother to handle it.

Hence my silence.  It goes without saying that we were shocked by the additional diagnoses. There’s been a lot of meetings where we’ve been trying to learn what this means for our children.  And there is sadness.  Sadness so profound it’s paralyzed me.  I know myself well enough to know that when I get like this I kind of shut down.  All I want to do is take care of my family.

So, that’s where I’ve been.  Taking care of my family.

As time progresses I am sure I’ll snap out of this funk. Winter has given way to spring and summer can’t get here soon enough.  RSV season is officially over mid-April and Nicholas will get sprung from his quarantine.  I can’t wait for him to learn about the world outside of our home and his doctor’s offices.

In the mean time we are taking a doctor approved trip south to warmer weather.

Stay tuned.  Some sunnier posts are coming soon!

And Then The Doctor Called…

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 02/18/15 4:30 PM

I’ve noticed that many of you tend to worry when I get quiet.  Most of the time your concerns are unfounded.  My lack of presence is due to being trapped under multiple loads of laundry or being sequestered to my car depositing children at their various activities.

Unfortunately, this most recent silence isn’t that simple.

Last Tuesday Sean and I were summoned to a conference call with Nicholas’ pulmonologist.  As we waited on the line for his doctor to join the party we were both silent.  We knew the genetic test results were back…and we knew that our required presence for an explanation probably meant we were about to get some disconcerting news.

Neither of us could talk.  I can’t speak for Sean but I was quiet because I feared if I opened my mouth I just might throw up.  In fact, I was so sure of what I was about to hear that I spent a minute or two trying to decide where I wanted to be in my house when I heard the doctor say it.  Which room did I want to forever associate with bad news?

I chose an upstair’s closet.

Now before everyone gets too upset let me put you at ease a bit.  There is nothing life threatening going on with our little boy.  Nicholas continues to eat like a champion and slam dunk his milestones.   If you looked at him you’d never know there was anything amiss.  That is…until you heard him cough.  Then you’d wonder why our sweet little three month old sounds like he has a ten-pack-a-day habit.

Spending some time with Reagan...his twin.

Spending some time with Reagan…his twin.

We were hoping his cough and occasional wheezing were from the remnants of his pneumonia.  Some of it may be…but it appears that it is more likely that Nicholas’ continued respiratory symptoms are as a direct result of his new diagnosis.

Nicholas tested positive for primary ciliary dyskinesia.  

I’ve written before about how I think bad news has a sound.  For me it’s like the most offensive alarm I’ve ever heard.  It’s constant.  It’s piercing.  And it’s distracting–almost as if my brain is trying to protect my heart from breaking.  I guess it’s a defense mechnism of some sort.  Perhaps it’s purpose is to soften the blow of a new and unwelcome reality.  I don’t really know.


MK read his valentines to him!

MK read his valentines to him!

What I do know is that when the alarm lifts and the news starts to sink in I’m often left somewhere between mental chaos and numbness.  My mind is racing trying to figure out how to assimilate what we know now into our daily lives, while my heart is left breathless…trying not to think of the worst.  And because I’m a mom…and I’m hard-wired to worry…I have to shut it all down, reverting to that whole one-step-at-a-time strategy.

During my pregnancy with Logan, Sean and I swore by the one minute…or one step… at a time strategy.  It’s how we survived.  We employed it again during Nicholas’ hospitalizations.  I was hoping we were done having to cope in this manner.   Fate had other plans.

The other day my mom asked me how I was feeling after having had a week to digest the diagnosis.  I told her the truth.  I really don’t know.  I guess I’m fine.  It didn’t really come as a blindside.  We knew PCD was a possibility.  We were just hoping that this whole mess had truly been caused by a monster infection.  That would have been temporary…something we could have left in the past.


Instead we have to accept that our future–Nicholas’ future– is going to be different than we thought.  And we have to remind ourselves that, that’s okay.  At least he has a future.  Hopefully a future filled with a lot of normal…and a lot of extraordinary.


Now it’s our job to provide him every opportunity to grab his life by the horns.

Diagnosis be damned.


As a result of this new diagnosis, it was important that Nicholas had the status of his lungs checked.  We were hoping to see clear open lobes on both sides.  Unfortunately, that pesky right upper lobe is still problematic.  As a result, Nicholas is headed back in for a bronchoscopy tomorrow.  The goal of the procedure is to suction as much mucus out of his airways as possible allowing air to flow freely resulting in an inflation of his upper right lobe.  

Please keep him in your prayers.  I will update on Facebook tomorrow evening.