Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Port Problems

Maria has a port for intravenous access because she has been getting immunoglobulin infusions every other week for the past several years (she has Myasthenia Gravis which is an autoimmune form of muscular dystrophy). In Michigan, we were blessed to have a wonderful nurse. The infusions take several hours so we had lots of time to get to know each other and we soon became friends. We still miss her. Just for the record, though, sometimes Maria's port gave Nurse Lisa problems too.

Fortunately, in Iowa there are also many good nurses and they do their best to take good care of Maria. Today, however, was just one of those days when everything is difficult. First, the nurse just wasn't able to access Maria's port. A second nurse tried, but still no success. Then they tried to work together to get the port accessed, but that only resulted in one nurse getting stuck with the used needle. So, it was off the hospital. Fortunately, there they were able to get access as well as the blood draws needed because the nurse got stuck with the needle.

Then the pump wasn't working properly, probably because the port was still being cranky. It kept beeping and stopping and generally giving everyone fits. They flushed the line, switched pumps, had Maria change positions, nothing seemed to work for long. It took the entire day, but thankfully she is finally "all juiced up" and ready to go again. Then, after she was all finished, Jon Felipe had a seizure. Nice of the two of them to take turns like that. All in all, a pretty normal day at the VanTol household. As for the port, hoping this doesn't mean she needs it replaced, although she has had this one for many years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 2010

We had so many things to celebrate in the month of June. A biggie was the fact that we completed the sale of our house in Holland. We loved living in Holland and still very much miss all our friends, but it is such a relief to no longer own property there. I wish the new owners the very best. It was a very happy house for us.

We also had a fabulously time vacationing "back east." First we traveled to Chicago to see my family. Here my nieces are trying to teach Maria to ride their skateboard. She was eventually able to let go of their hands for a few seconds and now desperately wants to have one of her own.

Then we had a party to celebrate my sister Chris' graduation with her MBA degree. Here is my dad with another one of my nieces during the party. Another thing to celebrate, my dad's 70th birthday today!

We ended our Chicago visit by all spending the day together at the community pool in my parent's neighborhood. This is an amazing facility and definitely had something for everyone to enjoy! The tubes you see behind the girls are for use on the lazy river and the water slides.

Then it was on to camping in Michigan with Dwight's family. This is a long standing family tradition and we all look forward to it every year. Here is Colin with my nephew Liam and his family's new puppy Pippin.

We spent time enjoying the beach, swimming in the lake, and catching up with everyone. It was wonderfully relaxing and we had great weather.

Of course, there was no escaping the obligatory family photo.

This week is always like a family reunion as Dwight's aunts and uncles and their families are all camping too. It really is a lot of fun. We've never tried a group picture of everyone. This is just a picture of our little family group. Our family drove in from Iowa, Dwight's sister's family came in from Wisconsin, his one brother's family came in from Massachusetts, and the other brother's family lives in Michigan. Aren't we a good looking bunch!

Just the grand kids. Colin is the oldest grandchild and Liam is the youngest.

Dwight's parents with their children and their children's spouses. Can you tell that some of us had no idea we'd be posing for family pictures and had just spent the day at the beach?

Helping children learn to ride a bike without training wheels is a time honored camping activity. Jon Felipe and I gave it a good shot this year, but he isn't quite ready yet.

Hoping you all had lots to celebrate in the month of June as well!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Research Project

I am working on a research project. It is a continuation of the work I did for my dissertation and has to do with vocabulary acquisition for preschoolers, particularly English language learners. I am working with the local Head Start programs. I've been meeting with some of the teachers all spring to develop the assessment measure. I had originally intended to include the children in the centers in Sioux Center and Orange City, but the program director has asked that we include the children in all the centers in Sioux County. Of course, I was very excited about this opportunity as well as somewhat overwhelmed.

I applied for and got a grant to support the project. With the grant, I was able to hire a computer science major to write a computer program for our test platform. This is very exciting as it will make the assessment and data collection process so much easier. I also hired a student in the graphic arts program to take the photos for the assessment. Above is my favorite of the pictures she has taken so far. Don't those strawberries look yummy! I may have to frame this photo for my office wall!

I am so excited about this, even while I am a little nervous about pulling it off. We will have to give the assessment three times a year to about 300 children in centers all around the county. Head Start has asked us to consider expanding the program the following year to the early Head Start program and to also consider expanding to centers in an adjoining county. In addition, the local school district wants us to consider following these children in future years as they enter school. So lots of fun and exciting things happening.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


There are lots and lots of tractors over at the fair grounds. I don't really know why they are all there, but we went over to check them out. We found tractors of all types and colors. There were new tractors and old tractors and tractors that had been cobbled together out of left over bits from other tractors. There were red tractors and yellow tractors and orange tractors. Jon Felipe's favorites were green and had his name, "John," on them. How cool is that! Now he has decided that in addition to driving a bus and a truck when he gets bigger, he wants to drive a tractor. He also thinks he might need a green shirt with "John Deere" on the front of it like the other little boys were wearing.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


This afternoon we went to the Summer Celebration parade. We teased Maria that the city was holding a parade to celebrate that it was her birthday.

The pre-parade show included the Shriners with their white horse patrol.

Square dancing while riding horses. Fun to watch.

This little horse did tricks. This horse had a lot of personality and was my mom's favorite part of the show.

Clown Band

Old fire engine in the parade.

One of the clowns was going to get shot out of this cannon. If you look closely in this picture, you can even see the rubber chicken that got shot out instead.

We ended up the evening with pizza and a couple rousing hands of Uno. Definitely a fun day!

Saturday Pictures

We started out our day with Summer Celebration activities. Jon Felipe loved going in all the different bounce houses, sliding down the slides, and getting a balloon hat. Maria particularly enjoyed the horses in the petting zoo. The adults loved that all of it was free. We also went to the craft show and generally enjoyed the fun atmosphere.

Later, we enjoyed a celebration of Maria's 13th birthday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Pictures

Aunt Pat wanted to see lots of pictures, so here they are. First up, the kids getting on the bus for their last of day school.

Taking a little break.

Everyone came to our house for dinner tonight.

George and Regina

Uncle Chris and Aunt Clara

Group hug on Jacob
Uncle Chris, Aunt Clara, my mom, and Maria
Maria and Dwight
Jon Felipe with Grandpa
Maria with Grandpa
Jon Felipe giving Dwight a rather enthusiastic hug

Maria with George and Regina

Me and my dad

Maria and me with my dad

This was the highlight of the night for my mom. Trevor took her, Maria, and Jon Felipe for a ride in his jeep. He and Allison had dropped over after participating in the cruise night.