Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anticipation is a bitch

There is something magical about Christmas. Once a child reaches a certain age they totally *get* Christmas. They know its coming, they know what's coming and nearly pee their pants daily with anticipation. It is very exciting to think about a little fat man bringing you toys while you sleep. Its almost too much to handle. It is fun to witness the enthusiasm that children have towards this all too often hectic holiday.

There was a period of time where I didn't much care for the social parts of Christmas. When you are in college or grad school its more about the time off from your studies than anything else. But when you have kids everything changes (duh). The shocking delight on Christmas morning when they don't yet understand. Then the hints of comprehension that come the next year. Then by the time they are three all gloves are off and they start making lists in July.

With the grade school set they are more skeptical of the stories about Santa. They hear rumors that he might not be real and those little wheels start spinning. I can tell that Raph doesn't want to believe Santa isn't real BUT he does have lots of questions. He discusses the logistics of it all ad nauseam. He's so excited that he can barely contain himself but then he worries about leaving out the wrong type of cookies for Santa. He told me the "Santa" we saw at the children's museum was fake and he could always tell which ones were fake. He told me all the reason he felt this man was a fraud...in a very hushed whisper. He has been so very polite that you know he's throwing out an extra "Merry Christmas" to strangers just in case he's teetering on the verge of the naughty list.

Likewise, all this build up makes them slightly more insane than usual. There have been more than a few screaming matches between the boys involving who is and is not on the naughty list. Usually someone ends up coming to me in tears asking if they are on the naughty list. If its between the hours of 3 and 6 pm then I'd usually say yes. I think those arsenic hours are the worst time of day for our house and its best if they just leave the judging out of my hands.

We first noticed a problem with Raph a few years ago. His behavior takes a nose dive right before major holidays or his birthday. He has so much bottled up excitement that he doesn't know how to appropriately channel it. The end result is an overly emotional child that can be happily talking one minute and a puddle of sobbing tears the next. He has little patience for his siblings and does NOT wait for things at all. This year is a mixture of the good excitement and the bad excitement explosiveness. I think he's getting better but not entirely. Colin is just purely explosive and nothing else. I'm not sure if that's just his everyday behavioral train wreck or the usual with some extra Christmas specialness. Its hard to say but if Christmas doesn't happen soon I'm liable to just go postal. My normal resting blood pressure is about 58 over 89. Its crazy low. But most of today I'm fairly certain I've been hypertensive.

OMG I just had an aneurysm... Colin just woke up Heidi. I am on the verge. It wasn't bad enough that he was a maniac at the doctor's office today, in the grocery store and over flowed a toilet in the bathroom causing water to pour into the air vent and Heidi poured a bottle of body wash out in the hallway. My house now smells like said body wash and its giving me a migraine.


Please Santa, I'm trying to be good but these hellions are making me very very naughty. Heidi's next word might start with an f and end with an uck. Oh and the kids been off school for a full week before Christmas is bullshit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Specialists pick my kid's nose

Nothing for the best for my babies! The absurdity quotient for my life may have reached an all time high. It seems that way anyway. Let me get you up to speed.
I went to pick up Colin from school the Monday before Thanksgiving. As I went into the classroom I was whisked away by his teacher to the nurses office. Seems Colin fell on the playground and was bleeding. What's new right? I went into the nurse's office and saw my blood covered baby with lips so swollen they hung off his face and a nose twice its normal size. The nurse assured me that his pupils were behaving appropriately but he needed medical attention. The rest of the day was a whirlwind of shuffling kids and waiting in the ER. Oh and being thankful that we've met our obscene deductible so our jaunt to the hospital is covered.

Let me interject a moment. I know doctors have to learn some how but I get really annoyed by teaching hospitals sometimes. It just slows down the whole process and in my case the resident makes his/her recommendation only to have an attending come in and say something different. Anyway, to sum up this instance, Colin broke his nose but not terribly and there's nothing to do about it except use an ice pack. Fair enough. He just looks tough with his bruising, swelling and scratches.

Fast forward to the next Tuesday when Raph gets a tooth punched out of his mouth on the school bus. Nothing gets a Principal's attention like a bully attach that results in a lost tooth. He was appropriately alarmed by the incident and was on top of it. After that phone call I talked to Raph about how we would leave a note for the tooth fairy so that she knows his tooth was floating around on the school bus. Not only did Raph get his FIRST tooth punched out but he also lost it and was worried he would get any money from the tooth fairy.



The rest of that evening was fine except Heidi kept waking up, coughing and crying a bit and then going back to bed. I went to check on her before I went to bed with a migraine. Heidi had thrown up EVERYWHERE. That coughing I'd heard? Her projectile vomiting all over the place. Mike came in to take care of the bedding and I had to give Heidi a bath to get it out of her hair. Mike had to wash her sheets, mattress cover, bumpers, dust ruffle, sides and bars of crib and the floor around it. Like I said...everywhere. I spent the rest of the night being thrown up on and sleeping briefly next to a crying, rolling, fitfully sleeping baby. This was not conducive to getting rid of a migraine.


Wednesday morning I got up and Heidi seemed fine but then the explosive diarrhea began. I met with the school principal about the punched out tooth and the boy was sitting in the office looking miserable. In house suspension is a bitch. The principal laid out the plan for the boys on the bus and the punishment for the puncher. Heidi exploded her diaper and we went home. This required a complete clothing change for both of us and the washing of our coats and her car seat cover. The rest of this day was consumed by washing barf and poop laundry and a failed attempt to get rid of a killer 2 day headache. Then an airport run to get my mom who came into town for the weekend.

Thursday the consensus was that Colin's nose was not quite right. He sounded like he had something blocking his nostrils. I wasn't sure what that meant but the ER doctor said to see the ENT if we had any concerns at all because you have a 2 week window with a broken nose to fix anything. I call the ENT and make an appointment for that afternoon.

We visit with my mom in the morning and I put Heidi down for a nap and take Colin to the doctor. The doctor comes in with an intern but she's just observing, not practicing. Phew! She looks at Colin's bruised face and he says, "My nose is broke-ing." The doctor nearly dies from cuteness and looks up Colin's nose. Yeah he's got something up there...giant boogers. Sigh. After some saline up his nose and a professional nose picking the doctor was laughing hysterically. She said, "THIS is what your co-pay is for." I told her we'd met our deductible so it was free. She laughed and said, "Well in that case, come back next week and I'll do it again!" In all seriousness she said it was good we came in and she would have done the same thing. the problem was that when the swelling came down everything got completely lodged in there. And for all we knew it could have been a blood clot, so there! I had a specialist pick my kid's nose, so what of it? I drove home from the hospital feeling sick but better that my son's broken nose was nothing to worry about.

At home I started fading fast and by the time Raph got home from school I was throwing up too. My mom took the boys to the store and I stayed at home with Heidi. Nothing like having a 15 month old look over your shoulder as you violent barf into the toilet. I think at one point she even clapped for me. As the evening progressed I couldn't feel my arms. You know because that's totally normal. My whole body hurt and I couldn't keep anything down and my arms were numb. After projectile vomiting all over the hallway...yes I'm an adult who can't make it to the bathroom in time...we decided to go to the ER. Remember the deductible? Score one for us!
The first hospital we went to was gone. Like GONE gone. It was a construction site and the whole thing was leveled. Shows how often we go to hospitals that aren't made for children. At the next hospital the guy registering me entered my information and then said, "Hey, happy birthday!" That's right, my birthday was in a few hours. My mom had come in town for a visit and to be here so Mike and I could have a free night out. Not really what I had in mind but it was good she was here so we didn't have to worry about the kids while I was at the hospital.


After some anti-nausea meds, a couple bags of fluids and some pain meds I felt better. The ER doctor told me that the numb arms was a totally normal reaction and it was caused by dehydration and a lack of electrolytes. How about that? Learn something new everyday. I still think its beyond crazy that I couldn't feel my arms but whatever. Mike told me happy birthday at 12:01 and I got a script for vicodin. Happy pharmaceutical birthday to me! We came home and I went to the bathroom before bed...toilet back up and no amount of effort on Mike or I's part could make the water go down. I passed out in my pharmaceutical haze and Mike slept on the couch to be away from the disease and petulance.

Friday morning my mom took Colin to school and I wallowed on the couch in full body and head pain. I was no longer throwing up but my whole everything was killing me. I called roto-rooter first thing and had someone fix the toilet. This day was a daze of trying to drink enough and nursing Heidi who was in danger of dehydration herself. She was back to non-eating and multiple night wakings and would only nurse. I went to bed shortly after the kids. I'd been woken up by Heidi's need to nurse and Colin's nightmares and my own illness for days so I was exhausted. Mike hung out with my mom watching movies and then she went to bed...and started throwing up.

Saturday I was much improved and my mom was miserable. Changing of the guards and now I was taking care of her and trying to put my house back into some sort of order. It looked like a bomb went off in my house. Our night out plans were cancelled because I was still iffy and my mom was completely sick. The gift certificate we planned on using expired so that night couldn't be rescheduled. Boo.

Sunday was much the same except for we decorated our Christmas tree and had Christmas shit all over the house. Colin asked to leave a note for the broken nose fairy so he could get some money under his pillow (genius that boy is!) Mike also got a truck load of furniture from one of his dad's display houses so we had two sets of dining room and office furniture in the mix. My head nearly exploded because of the chaos and laundry.

Monday Heidi got a cold and was a teething, snotty, whiny mess. I continued my feeble attempt at cleaning my house and visiting with my mom on her last day. After taking her to the airport and apologizing profusely I came home and feel asleep on the couch at 5pm with all three kids climbing on me. Did I mention the multiple night wakings from Heidi, the refusal to sleep past 4:30am or eat food and Colin's nightmares?

This is what happens to a spool of floss after it goes through the dryer.
Tuesday morning I got up and took a shower. Made an appointment for Heidi to see the doctor because her angry diaper rash was back full force and the prescription cream was gone. Plus she needed another flu shot anyway. I was going to do a load of laundry. My poor washing machine was whimpering in the corner at the thought of MORE laundry. I walk down the basement stairs and it smells funny...and there is water everywhere. F#*% me. I tried to keep the kids out of the nastiness, called Mike and roto rooter...again. I have to leave to take Heidi to the doctor and Mike comes home to start the clean up and wait for the plumber. Heidi gets a new prescription, a shot and then they make her wait for an extra 20 minutes because of her egg allergy. My head nearly explodes again. The upside of this overly long appointment was that Mike cleaned up all the water mess by the time I got home. I spend the rest of the day doing laundry after the drain is cleared and stop myself from falling on a sword. I was nearing being caught up on laundry until every towel in our house was soaking wet and stinking.
Wednesday the clean up continues, I fight with Heidi to get her back on food and not nurse and sort through soggy boxes in the basement.

Thursday I wake up with Heidi at 4:30am once again and she's croupy. Colin wakes up and he's croupy. Just kill me now. It is now Saturday morning. My house is a shit pile. We have no food, I have snot on my shirt and have 2 raspy voiced kids and a 6 year old who seems to be flirting with something. Miraculously none of the boys (big or small) got the barfy plague but the past two weeks have been a disaster. Oh and one more thing...remember the deductible? Heidi's hideous diaper rash is still bad so I'm using the "last resort cream". The print out from the pharmacy said, "Your insurance saved you $289." At least there's that! And really, why should butt cream cost almost $300...that's just stupid.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wisdom

Wisdom has many facets. It doesn't always come from the mouths of wizened philosophers. Sometimes it comes from the mouth of babes and those words are so true and pure and unguarded that are so very wise.

Raph is one of those children who was born with an old soul. You forget sometimes when you talk to him that he is only 6 years old. He's such a sweet and empathetic boy that he just exudes comfort. I swear that boy is so magnetic that you cannot escape his pull. He's far from perfect and has his own share of trouble but he is charismatic and wise beyond his years.

A few weeks ago he was chattering away in the back seat on the way home from soccer. He was talking about how when they (he, Colin and Heidi) were older Mike and I could stay home to hand out candy on Halloween. Then he said, "How old do you have to be to drive?" "Sixteen." "Well, maybe when I'm 16 I can take Colin and Heidi trick-or-treating so that you and Daddy can stay home. I'll just drive them around and bring them home when they are finished." I said that would be nice of him and I could see those wheels spinning in his little mind and he continues, "When I'm older and I don't live with you anymore I will just ask for one thing before I leave. I will ask for a picture of you and Daddy so I can put it on my counter. Then when I see it I can think of you. And, Mommy, I will always come see you on your birthday."

Dear Lord I nearly ran off the road right then and there in a heap of tears. How can someone so little say such moving things? He said this all with such fierce emotion that you know he was deeply sadden at the thought of leaving us but knew it was an eventuality. We've had tearful conversations about what happens after High School. He was reduced to sobbing when he found out that when you go to college you move out and likely (hopefully) don't ever move back in again. He told me that he never wanted to go to college. Wellllll, that's not the answer either because eventually you do have to move out on your own and then you can have your own family.

The prospect of having his own family always delights Raph. He's got such a nurturing way about him that I have no doubt he will be a wonderful father. He gets so excited to think about having his own babies some day. I remind him of this when he tells me that, "We should have just one more baby then we can be done. Just one more girl baby so its fair then we can be done." Um, WE?! No, I am finished having babies but you can have your own babies some day thank-you-very-much.

He is caring and empathetic beyond his years. Once when I was pregnant with Colin and so very very sick I had Raph lay down with me to take a nap. He was bouncing around in the bed so I put my arm over him to kind of pin him down long enough for him to fall asleep. He then started to caress my arm and kind of whisper "shhh" because he knew I was sick. He was so gentle that I fell asleep. I woke myself thinking, "Geez I'm the adult here! I need to wait until he's asleep before dozing off!" He continued his soothing until he fell asleep. He was 2. Can you imagine what he will be like when he's 22?

Just last week I had one of those knock-you-on-your-ass migraines. I got up after being in bed for a few hours and he saw me walk into the room. His face full of worry he ran over to me, "Oh Mommy are you feeling better?" I told him I was much improved and he gave me a big hug and kiss and said, "I'm so happy you are feeling better."

Recently I was thinking about Heidi. That day no less than 10 people stopped me (some even gasped) to tell me how beautiful she was. I was pondering this and jokingly told Raph, "You need to watch out for your sister when she gets older." Raph's little face got so serious and he almost whispered, "I will always take care of her. I won't let anything every happen to my baby sister." I don't doubt him for one minute. I do pity those boys who come to see her when she's older. They will have a rough road to get through to her. Even Colin is protective of her in his own way. If someone treats her badly there will be hell to pay from my boys, especially from Raph who's loved her since before she was born.

Raph is so sincere and compassionate and thinks so far in advance that its amazing to me. He draws conclusions that he should not because he is only 6. He worries for people when they are feeling ill or sad. He soothes those in need and cheers on the victories of others. He's a sweet old soul and I hope he never loses that quality. I would hate to live in the world of a jaded Raph. It seems impossible to think of that every happening, though it certainly could. For now, I just enjoy him for who he is and know that someday he will make someone very happy...and she will be lucky to have him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Favorites

Ask any parent if they have a favorite child and they will either gasp or laugh it off and say, "Of course not! I love them all the same!" I call them liars. You can't really go around saying you have a favorite but is that honest? I think not, its just not PC to say so.

I have favorites. I do not love them all the same.

::crickets::

Now, let me explain. It is impossible to love all your children the same. They are not the same so how could your love for them be the same? Hmmm??? I suppose if you had little clones then maybe this would be true but my children are all wildly different. As for favorites, I have favorites. I admit that. And it changes frequently. Sometimes over the course of the day someone goes from first to last. Last night as I was putting Heidi to bed I thought, "She's my favorite." After all she's been calling me "Mama" for months now. The boys didn't call me by name until they were 19-20 mo old. A little verbal recognition goes a long way with me.

I'm not malicious and I don't banish children to the basement and I certainly love all of them fiercely. To say its all equal and samey-same..that's implausible. You cannot physically love a 1 year old the in the same way you love a 6 year old. At different ages children need different levels of attention and different levels of stimulation and different levels of Mommy smooches. They require different levels of work on my part. Its just different. It will always be different. That doesn't mean its bad. I would hate to pigeon hole my kids and have them all be the same. How stifling would that be?

So when Colin is overtired and throwing fit after epic fit...yeah he's not so much my favorite. But when he's acting out crazy plays for me, giving nose kisses and being sweet to his baby sister it melts me. When Raph is demanding and talks in exasperated tones like a 13 year old, not my favorite. When he snuggles up with me and says, "I love you Mommy." and talks to me in detail and with great emotion that is so unexpected for someone so young, I swoon. When Heidi repeatedly slaps me in the face or sticks her fingers up my nose while nursing and tears up my bathroom once again (If you ever come over and find a tampon in the couch or contact solution in kitchen don't judge. Heidi did it.) I groan and carry on. When she is silly and plays with me and shows her budding sense of humor and calls me "Maahhhhh-MAH!" I get a little twinkley feeling in my belly.
Love knows no boundaries. I love my children more than I ever thought was possible. However, the momentous task of parenting comes with many peaks and valleys. It is rewarding and at times full of wasted efforts. Appreciated and taken for granted. Joyous and angering. Sweet and terrifying. I will always be there for my children, love them and nurture them but I don't always have to LIKE what they do. They do not always like me and what I have to say either. That's fine. Its ok for them to not like me at times but some day I hope that they understand all those moments they hated so much. I can look back and laugh at the bad moments now that they are gone and get that warm sense of pride for all the really great moments. I can think about those easy times and sigh...think of those really hard times and sigh but in a different way. Such is life with kids. I have my favorite moments (and children), as does any other parent in the world, whether or not they choose to admit it is up to them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Changing of the Guards


Look closely, Raph is in the laundry basket cage and Colin's
shirt is on backwards and there is a pullup on the floor
and a breast pump part and other random scattered crap. Sigh.

When your kids make you crazy because of a certain phase they are in for a looooong ass time you must often repeat, "This too shall pass". Unfortunately, though, if you have more than A child then "this too shall pass" right on to the next child in line. Damn. Maturity is a miraculous thing. Sometimes it sneaks up on you and other times its like a switch is flipped and *poof* your child has matured into normalcy!

Raph has always been fairly easy to manage and discipline. Certainly he is not perfect but the good days to bad days ratio is pretty favorable. He did go through that phase of about 2-3 years where he could not make it through Mass without some sort of forcible extraction and muttered threats in his little ears. But, by then we had Colin who was turning one and the gig was up. Raph sat in his seat with me and Mike took Colin to the back. Guess who's next!? **Ding ding ding** Heidi's turn! Since they are 6 months closer in age than Colin and Raph were there was more over lap. This of course meant that Raph would fidget in his seat and nearly have a panic attack because he would be left in the pew by himself. Now, for the most part, Colin is well behaved enough to make it through a service. Heidi sometimes doesn't make it through the opening prayer. After years of standing in the back with Colin Mike told me, "You get Heidi". Fair enough, for the next 2-3 years you will see me in the foyer of our church.

Its not just church though. I know its hard for kids...sometimes its hard for me too. Yesterday I was at the grocery store with Heidi and Colin. Last fall Colin would reduce me to tears in the parking lot because he was just. so. bad. in the grocery store. Well, things have changed. I had the two of them in the shopping cart that looks like a rocket. They are up high with their own steering wheels. Heidi has long sense mastered the art of Houdini-ing her way out of the straps of a shopping cart but this time she nearly took a header off the top of the cart. She had crawled out of the rocket and onto the ledge where you push the cart. She was making her way down (4 ft drop) the side of the cart when I caught her. My hands were full off food and she landed on top of my selections. I had to put her down on the floor while I gathered the things I dropped and put them in the cart. Meanwhile she took off at a full sprint squealing and laughing down the liquor aisle. I had to chase after her so she didn't break bottles of whiskey and tequila. A couple was looking in the beer cooler when the man said, "Yeah! This is my favorite aisle too!" I prefer jokes to smug glares from other shoppers. Or worse yet "helpful" suggestions implicating me as a pitiful excuse for a mom. They can take those comments and shove it.

I put Heidi into the food part of the cart for the remainder of the trip. She used the food as a step stool and attempted to climb out of the cart. Then scream when she couldn't make it out and fell on top of the food. And merrily throw things out onto the floor. ::palm to forehead:: What was Colin doing you might ask? Happily talking to me about his fuzzy drink and yogurt and whatever else popped into his head. All punctuated by exclamations of, "NO HI-EEE! NO!" By the time we got to the check out I looked like one of those crazed moms from commercials with goldfish in her hair, mismatched shoes looking for a drink. Heidi had thrown papers out of my bag onto the floor countless times. Food items onto the floor. The entire contents of my bag were dumped into the floor area of the rocket ship and I had some smashed boxes of food. Hey, at least this time she didn't throw yogurt cups onto the floor having the contents splash out onto the sushi counter...that was last week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who-pons 101



Colin has speech problems with articulation. Most of the time he will replace the first sound of a word with an "H" sound. It can be confusing at times but its endearing. He just saw a coupon printed from our recent trip to Target, "Oh dat a who-pon?" My 3 year old knows what a coupon is and how to use them. You see his mommy is slightly neurotic and will develop a twitch if she goes to a store without her coupon organizer. Its not a bad thing really. My children have an understanding of the value of a dollar...you know as much as any 3 and 6 year old could possibly understand. Sometimes they will say something crazy like, "Oh that's ok, if you don't like your car you just go to the car store and buy a new one." Well, yes and no. Like I said, they are only 3 and 6.

I fully believe you should indoctrinate the young. Their minds are so malleable and receptive! But really sometimes its just better for your logistics. You really have to explain to them why we take one load of groceries to the car only to go back into the same store to buy more groceries. They pick up on your habits and talk to you about getting a good deal on things. My boys know that there are certain things we can only get when they are on sale and we have a coupon. Colin has now started to call Shop'n'Save "The Fuzzy One" because we had a coupon for Kool-Aid fizzy drink pellets. No way I'd ever buy that crap without a coupon, a sale and $10 off $50 Thursdays. They know this, so often they ask for clarification about which grocery store we are going to that day. Fuzzy, Cookie, Money and the other one. One has fuzzy hinks (Fizzy drinks), free cookies, a quarter for the shopping cart and the boring one with no real perks from a child's stand point. Then of course there is Sams and they "Sell free samples"....semantics.


The day we bought fuzzy hinks I told Colin we were going to the grocery store and since we had a coupon for the Kool Aid we could buy one. His eyes lit up and he ran into the kitchen to get my coupon organizer, "Here Mom, here's your whopons. Let's ho!" See, he *knew* he couldn't go without the coupons! You make Mommy so proud!

I've always been a coupon user and generally frugal. I splurge now and then but I HATE paying full price for anything. Really it pains me. Even as a kid I would save my money and save it and save it. I remember once for Christmas I got 2 truffles. For a little kid who grew up in the country something like a truffle is big. Really big. I ate one that day and saved the second one. I saved it so long that when I finally went to go eat that truffle I opened the box only to find a mouse had nibbled on it! I was reduced to a sobbing heap. Disregard the mouse factor (I SAID I lived in the country) but isn't that heartbreaking? I still remember it very clearly and that crushing blow of disappointment. Anyway, now our house is rodent free but I still tend to save and scrimp and get way too excited about free hot dogs and paper towels (I got both this week). I think its a good quality to instill in my children. Delaying gratification, working hard to save and then now and then you get to get something really special. Usually that special something won't be ruined by varmints but ya know.

I've explained how coupons work. How sales work. How advertising will sometimes make you want to buy things you don't need. The difference between wants and needs. How companies pay for advertising so that you buy their products so that they can make money. A little lesson in Capitalism is important. Colin now says, "Daddy go to wook to buy me hicken." Move over bacon, chicken is the way to his heart! In turn the boys have started earning money by picking up the stupid gum balls in our yard. The rain must have been just right this year because there are an obscene number of gum balls on our trees. The boys fill up buckets upon buckets of those suckers. Once they earn enough money they go to the toy store to buy something of their choosing. If something they want is more than what they earned they can either pick something less expensive or wait and go back once they earn more money.


I think children these days (damn that makes me sound old or like I might burst into show tunes from Bye Bye Birdie) are accustom to getting anything and everything. No consequences for their actions and their every whim catered to without question or delay. I suppose its easier to just say, "Sure honey! Whatever you want!" They will be more agreeable and *love* you for it...until the next time they want something. But that doesn't not help a child grow into a responsible adult. When that child grows up their boss isn't going to say, "SURE! Go ahead and take a few days off, leave early and miss a deadline! I'll give you a raise too!" I think it is a huge disservice to children to let them get away with everything and give them everything. The sense of entitlement is rampant and unbecoming.

I worked in a university for years and the change in overall behavior is alarming. The difference from when I was a student, grad student and employee is amazing. No longer do students work hard for a grade. Then bitch and moan to a professor or TA and have their Mommy call from 5 states away to say its not fair that their BAAAYBEE got a D. Really? Consequences are a good thing. So are mistakes. If you never let your child fail how will they really learn? If they let their child get a D because they never went to class then they might just learn something. Obviously not the subject matter but that they have to be accountable for their actions.

Soooo this got kind of jumbled. Coupons, Capitalism, Rodents and Entitlement. Got it? Good.

Can you just see that bubble over her head saying "WTF Mommy?"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fleeting


Its an old adage that babydom is so very fleeting. Cliches like that don't come from the ether, they are true and often repeated. Early childhood is a tug of war for parents. You are so eager for that next phase, newest milestone and yet you want them to stay that age forever. At least the good parts. I could do without night wakings and diaper changes but I digress.

Even still, those mundane daily events you want to cling to on a certain level. I remember when we got new bedroom furniture not long after Colin turned a year old. I was taking the drawers out my old night stand and I found a newborn diaper stuffed in the back. I was nearly reduced to tears when I saw that weensy diaper. How could my Tasmanian devil of a child ever have fit into a diaper no bigger than the palm of my hand?

Now when I get up with Heidi at night (yes she still gets up at night) and nurse her, I love it. When she has drunk herself into oblivion I raise her up and rest her head on my shoulder. Her long legs wrap around my waist and I drink her in. I rock and cradle her limp, heavy body and know that this too will end. She rarely sits still much less lets me rock her so I take my brief sleepy moments at night with a certain amount of joy. These little moments are to be treasured, though I don't usually feel treasured when morning comes all too soon. She is my baby, my last baby, and I won't have many more of these moments. Every day she is more child than baby. I love her new phases. She is a character, mischievous and a joker but you want to savor those baby moments as long as you can while looking forward to what lies ahead.

Every night Raph falls asleep as soon as he is still for 30 seconds and Colin bounces around in his bed. He comes out to the living room and says to Mike, "Daddy, I rock you?" He's torn between enforcing bedtime and enjoying his moment with his *baby* boy. Every night after Colin is back in bed Mike says that he wants to rock him because how long will Colin actually want to sit with him? So, Raph crawls into bed with us in the morning, Colin rocks at night and Heidi nurses around 4 am every night. They will always be our babies, even if Raph scoffs at the notion. They grow so quickly, seemingly overnight at times and they are disappearing before our very eyes. What replaces the baby is something even better, albeit not quite as nostalgic. There is something special about a baby. Everyone, no matter who they are or even if they are holding their own baby, turns and looks when a baby enters a room. Babies are magnetic because they are here for such a brief, sweet time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The things we do

Heidi has just recently been diagnosed with food allergies. More specifically, she allergic to milk, egg and wheat. My first thought was, "How in the hell will I make a birthday cake without milk, egg or wheat?!" Really important I know but my baby's birthday is around the corner and I want her to have cake. Real cake. I've been doing some exhaustive google searches for vegan, gluten free cake recipes. I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised by the volume of recipes there are to be had. Not only that, but some of them looked really really good.

Looking good and tasting good are not always the same thing so before I make a beautiful birthday cake for a crowd of people I want to make sure it tastes as good as it looks. I decided on a chocolate cake and was off to Whole Foods. $65 later I came home with coconut milk, Xanthum gum and all kinds of, um, different ingredients. I whipped up a Mexican chocolate cake with Kahlua ganache.

This cake is nothing short of spectacular! I'm not even kidding. It iss so good. I would order this in a restaurant and certainly make it for a crowd of people...then, after they eat it say, "By the by, that cake is gluten free. And vegan. Mwhahahahahaha."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Systemic

When a child is diagnosed with food allergies your heart sinks a little. The challenges that comes with finding appropriate food are complex. How can you keep them safe? Teaching your child to take care of himself is another story. You want him to be cognisant of the problem, wary of unknown foods but not terrified of food. Its a delicate balance between cautious and down right terrified. Now, when you find out your child is allergic to peanuts you take those fears and concerns to a whole other level. You start to think about that urban legend of the girl who died after she ate chili b/c the *secret* ingredient was peanut butter. Even if your child only gets hives from peanuts you always think about their little throat closing up and being rushed to the ER. Their delicate body clinging to life. That's a little dramatic but its always in the back of your mind when you are prescribed an Epi Pen. And the crazy thing about allergies is that one exposure might cause a rash and the next anaphalaxis...you just don't know until you know.

Raph has successfully almost outgrown his milk and egg allergy. His doctor thinks for sure next year (I've heard that for the last couple years but I digress) he will be completely nonallergic to milk and egg. At any rate, those allergies have weakened significantly and if he rolled around in egg whites and drank milk he might not feel well but he wouldn't be too terribly sick. Its comforting because at least they are getting better.

Peanuts on the other hand are a whole other beast. Only 20-25% of people with peanut allergies every outgrow their allergies. Its a crap shoot and all you can do is wait and see. So far Raph's RAST scores have only gone up, not down, for peanut. This means that he is not outgrowing it any time soon and with little exposures here and there it may have gotten worse. Its the cumulative effect of repeated trace exposures that can sometimes dictate the outcome of consuming an allergen. Sometimes not...you just don't know until you know.

Last week the person who makes copies for Mike's office brought in some cookies. She regularly gives them cookies and they have always been chocolate chip, sugar or oatmeal raisin. You know, regular. Mike brought home 2 bags. One had oatmeal craisin and the other chocolate chip. Raph ate part of an oatmeal craisin and Colin ate part of a chocolate chip cookie. Colin left about a quarter of his cookie on the counter when he was finished. The boys went to bed and Mike and I cleaned up. I ate the rest of Colin's cookie...it was peanut butter chocolate chip. We threw out the other peanut butter cookie and said it was good Raph doesn't like chocolate and had the oatmeal cookie. By the way, Mike tasted Raph's cookie first just to make sure.

A little later Raph wakes up and is upset because he's suddenly so stuffed up. We bring him to the living room to calm him down and help him blow his nose. As he sits in the rocker with Mike I can see that his eyes are swelling and tearing. His nose is running and he's scratching his head. I immediately think of the cookie. I know he didn't eat that particular cookie but it came from the same source and he and Colin were wrestling around after dinner. We watch him and he starts to wheeze, his lips and mouth are swelling, he says his stomach hurts and the back of his mouth hurts. I gave him Benadryl and his inhaler. Nothing.

I called the allergist's exchange and talk to him. I describe the situation and he tells me to give Raph more Benadryl, Zyrtec and his inhaler again. He said he's having a systemic reaction to the peanuts but its mild. We don't need to give him the Epi Pen just yet. While I'm on the phone Raph is doubled over in pain because his belly hurts so much and is getting worse. My doctor said to give him the medicine and use the Epi Pen.

In 6 and a half years I've only thrown away an Epi Pen because it expired never because I actually had to use it. That was about to change. All those years of fear and anxiety came to a head at that moment. It was not dire, he was not turning blue and I was not in a panic. He was, however, having a "mild" systemic reaction. It didn't seem so mild to me but I know it could have been much much worse. I have Raph sit on my lap and Mike used the Epi Pen on his little leg. He didn't cry, just jumped a little when the autoinjector rammed the needle into his leg. That was it.

Within 2 minutes his eyes looked normal, his lips weren't swollen, his breathing was quiet and he perked right up. I suppose anyone injected with epinephrine would perk up but you know what I mean. His hands were a little shaky but he was calm and sat up watching cartoons with us for a while. He was no worse for the wear and he felt fine. Its amazing what medicine can do. Especially when the outcome is so drastic and so quick. When you can actually see the changes happen right before your very eyes.

Now, all of this happened without him eating a peanut. His exposure came from his cookie touching the other cookie or Colin touching him with crumby hands. I know there is some outrage on the part of parents of non-allergic kids when a school or a facility is peanut free. I think what people do not fully grasp is how little it takes to make a child very very ill. Your kid might be grumpy if he can't eat a PB&J sandwich at lunch but his choice could potentially kill my son. Raph has no choice. These are the cards he has been dealt and its not something he can change. Many people think the solution is to have the allergic child sit at a peanut free table. That works to an extent...assuming the peanut eaters clean their hands and face after eating lunch and don't contaminate anything in the interim.

Think of it from the allergic child's perspective. They often watch as other kids get a special treat because they can't have it. They are forced to sit away from their friends through no fault of their own. They did not make that choice but you did make a choice when you sent a peanut butter sandwich to school. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the children who choose to eat peanuts sit elsewhere? If they want to sit with the rest of the kids then they can choose to eat something different next time. My son does not get a choice yet he is ostracized on a daily basis because of biology. Just think about that before you are outraged at the mere suggestion of something being peanut free. Just think about it...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When it clicks


It just clicks. Raph has had one of those 'Ah- HA!' moments recently when it comes to swimming. At the beginning of the summer he started swim classes and was on the verge of being dropped down a level. They did a skills test on the first day and his teacher raised an eyebrow when he said, "Now, put your whole head under water." Raph's face went under water for a millisecond ::dip:: then he immediately hopped out of the pool, wiped his eyes on a towel and went back to sit on the step. Oy.

He has come a LOOOONG way since then. Today I watched him jump off the diving board at my mom's house and swim the length of the pool. Totally unassisted. My mom was in the middle of the pool waiting for him and he swam around her so that he could do the whole length. Amazing.
The process has been quite impressive. A few weeks ago, after swim lessons were over, I bought him a pair of goggles. I didn't want them to be used as a crutch during his lessons so we waited. He put the goggles on and swam under water. His little Dumbo's feather got him over that fear and he could swim. He couldn't continue to swim unless he stood up, wiped his eyes and took a breath. I knew once he figured out how to take a breath without standing he would be golden. Today that little light bulb went off and he knew how to swim, take a breath and continue swimming. His form could use some work because he does look like a half drowning dog but I think that's to be expected.

Too bad that little light bulb didn't go off last week...you know, before Mike had to jump in the pool to rescue him and drowning his Blackberry in the process. Details, details.

Oh and get this, he can totally do a front and back flip in the water. Did so on the first try, much to the chagrin of his older cousin :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mommy Neurosis

I think there is something in a woman's brain that just clicks into overdrive once they see that second line form on a stick. For every woman its different but for some women they transform themselves into completely new people. I've seen that happen before, a seemingly normal person becomes totally entrenched in some sort of extreme. Someone might eat McDonald's for lunch twice a week, then find out they are pregnant and they eat all organic and their baby doesn't have candy until he's 5 and a half and even then it was only by accident. For the record, that woman was NOT in fact me. I have no problem with candy, that is not one of my neurosis triggers.

You never know when it will hit, some people its as soon as that second line forms and for others its not until they have a grade schooler. After having a recent conversation with my mom and husband about car seats I was a little taken aback. I know that car seats are my issue. I know this about myself but in the course of this conversation my mom said with a smirk, "Yeah, that's ONE of your issues." Whao. I have more? I wonder just how crazed I seem. Of course some of the most extreme cases of Mommy Neurosis the mommy is completely unaware that what they are doing could possibly be perceived as 'weird'. So after that comment I started to try to think about what it is that I do that could be 'weird' or a wee bit over the top. I have never once claimed to be a perfect mother, far from it, but I do have a few hot button issues. This is what I've come up with:
Car Seats: I didn't start out this way and it wasn't until Colin came along that I really started to get crazy about them. Of course Raph was in a car seat from birth. I mean, you can't leave the hospital with your baby until they see you strap in that baby and carry him to the car for you. Do they do that everywhere? I think it came later when I watched one too many YouTube videos about extended rear facing car seats. I had Colin rear facing until he was over 2 years old and reached the weight limit on his seat. I begrudgingly let Raph use a booster seat (withOUT a highback) when he went to Yellowstone with my mom when he was 5. I know in some states a 5 year old doesn't even need to be in ANY sort of restraint (sheer madness!) but I was uncomfortable with him being in *only* a booster. I kept him in a full on 5 point harness until this spring and he was 6. Only reason he got to move out of the car seat was because we did the great car seat migration of 2010. Everyone moved one seat down and this left Raph without a car seat. He is in a high back booster but it still makes me uneasy. I'm trying to be OK with it but I just feel like he's so UNsecure. When we travel I nearly break out into hives if the car they are strapped into doesn't have the right latching system or they seem at all wobbly. How is it possible that an infant carrier is just as secure with a seat belt as it is in the base? Couldn't be, I don't believe it. The way I see it is this: Its not hurting them and its only helping them. Period. End of story. You can let your kid ride in the back of a pick up truck but my kids will be bungied in if nothing else is available. (Can you believe we grew up in a world where you could ride on a TAILGATE of a truck down a HIGHWAY?! Its a miracle I survived.)



Formula: Before I begin I will say this. I do not have a problem with formula per se. I do not judge people who use formula. I think in many instances formula is the BEST option for some people. I am not a nipple nazi who thinks formula is akin to rat poison. Quite the contrary. It is a very good alternative to breastfeeding. BUT, for me, I have issue with giving my kids formula. First of all its f*#^%&# expensive! I'm a cheapy so the thought of spending money on something my body produces is just crazy talk. I have always found breastfeeding very easy, and have yet to have any real problems (to date I have nursed a baby for a grand total of 39 months). Now, if it were problematic, too painful, insufficient supply, too restrictive of a diet for me, etc etc etc then by all means bring on the formula. Given that I have none of those problems I breastfeed.

Raph had formula a couple times in the hospital. Once right after he was born. I had complications in surgery and was far too weak to hold him and try to nurse. I fed him at the NEXT feeding when I was more lucid and not likely to drop him on his head. He had formula a couple times in the hospital but then nothing once we got home and I nursed him for 14 months. Colin only had some of the preemie weight gainer 3000 formula that they give babies in the NICU. He NEEDED nutrition before my milk came in. After my milk came in he did not have any formula and again I nursed him until he was 14 mo old. Heidi has never had formula. She didn't have any actual milk until she was nearly a week old and even then it was by feeding tube. My milk was in and flowing by the gallon so there was no need for any alternative source. So, given my history, I suspect I will nurse Heidi until she's around 14 months old and if I had to give her formula I would probably develop a twitch.

Food: I think I have good reason to be leery of food with my kids. Food could kill my eldest so unless you've had to carry around an epi pen do not judge me. Raph has all sorts of food restrictions. He is STILL allergic to milk, egg and peanut. Try to develop a well balanced meal around that...oh and he won't eat meat (except McDonald's chicken nuggets of course). Since I had all the allergy concerns with Raph I had a new tactic with Colin. He didn't have solid foods until he was about 7 months old. Even then I proceeded with extreme caution and he had zero high risk foods until he was a year old AND had allergy testing done. Consequently he has no food allergies. Cause and effect? I have no idea but I know I did everything that might possibly help prevent allergies and he can eat a peanut butter ball covered in egg whites and cheese and be just fine...well no that's not true, that's repulsive and he'd probably throw up, but I digress. Also, Colin had this weird thing where he would throw up foods with texture. He ate baby food for a long time, then refused any and all food for about a month when he was 11 mo old. He got over it but only after expensive testing done at the Children's hospital..naturally. Little turd.

Now, enter Heidi. She won't eat. Period. Only recently has she begun to consume actual food. Crackers and even a frozen waffle. We were elated, especially since she had an appointment for expensive testing at the Children's hospital. She was kind enough to start eating right BEFORE said appointment. That's my girl! Now because she isn't called High Maintenance Heidi for nuthin' she seems to be allergic to wheat. Figures. I got her to eat SOMETHING and she's showing signs of an allergy. AND prior to this I had started to relax my allergy fears and roll with it and even ::gasp:: let her have a high risk food like wheat! Ugh. Oh and one night she was sticky and covered in hives. Turns out Colin spilled some ice cream on the floor and she crawled around in it. So we have two potential allergies, milk and wheat. Could there be two more difficult potential allergens out there? I think not. Hopefully its a fluke and she can eat some Wheaties in cow milk. Until then we resume our regularly scheduled programming of extreme food phobias and a restricted diet. The good news, though, is that she eats sweet potatoes. Not the puree, but actual potatoes. She might end up with an orange nose but at least she's consuming an actual food!

Update: I wrote this post before going on vacation for two weeks and I'm only just now finishing it. On vacation we deduced that Heidi had an ill-timed stomach virus and is not allergic to wheat. I think. She is showing some sign of being allergic to something but I'm not entirely sure. Yesterday I did the unthinkable. I gave her COW milk from a medicine dropper. I did it just like they do at the allergist office when they do a milk challenge. Start with a wee drop, wait, few drops more, wait...you get the picture. I gave her half a Motrin medicine dropper of milk and nothing happened. I was so excited! Then a few hours later she was screaming in pain until she turned purple. She had a green liquid filled diaper and a severe diaper rash. Poor little honey (don't feed babies honey btw). I feel awful because I went against my gut and tried out a questionable food and now she is suffering. I'm making an appointment today for the allergy testing and will only give her fruits and vegetables until further notice. I hate allergies.

Sleep: This is another of my issues. I think this comes from Raph more than it comes from me. I'm not just throwing him under the bus, because it comes from him, for real. Raph has always been pretty rigid when it comes to his sleep needs. As an infant he would crawl to me and want to lay down for his nap if it was past 8:30am. Yes his first nap was at 8:30 in the morning. Don't get me started. He does not handle any sort of change well and certainly not changes to his sleep. At home this is no problem and naps are taken when they are needed and bed time is regular. Travelling sleeping arrangements are when it becomes problematic. I know my sister thinks I'm crazy but they MUST go to bed on time. My kids are not like hers. They will not compensate for a late bed time by sleeping in the next day. On the contrary, my kids wake up at their usual time or even earlier for some unknown reason. The end result is that I have to deal with enormously crabby children for the duration. Makes me want to run screaming in the other direction.



Yes he is wearing fogged up swim goggles and defying gravity while snoring.


I even went so far as to take Raph to a sleep clinic when he was a baby. Before you roll your eyes just know it was the best $20 co-pay I ever made. The Sleep Lady is sheer genius and I love her. I met with her with Raph's sleep journal and we talked for 2 hours about the nuances of Raph's sleep. At the end of our appointment I had a step by step plan to get him to sleep all night long. Prior to this meeting he was waking every 2 hours or so. That's fine for a newborn but there in no reason a 1 year old needs to wake that often to eat. Her plan, she claimed, would take a week to accomplish. She was wrong. He was sleeping all night in about 4 days. I told you she was a genius! And her plan did not require me to let him scream for hours on end. It was kind and logical. If she had told me to let him scream I would have gotten up and walked out of her office. We tried that and it made Raph terrified of his room. He would literally try to climb over my shoulder to get away from me if I even walked down the hallway towards his room. Crying may work for some but clearly Raph was not one of those babies.


Colin has been a better sleeper than Raph. I'm not sure if its a personality thing or just out of necessity. You can't drop everything for naps when you have more than one child. He was better about naps and could do well with skipping or short naps BUT he still needs a full night's sleep to function. He's got that rage that comes out if he's not well rested. Its ugly and I try to avoid it at all costs. He had plenty of issues learning to sleep all night, as do most babies. I honestly don't expect much out of the first year but after that its on. They MUST sleep well at night or Mommy might just drive off a bridge. We worked out his sleep issues once he got his ear tubes in and he's been great ever since. Even when he moved to a big bed. For all the trouble he gives me sleep is not high on the list.


See I'm not totally uptight, I let infants sleep on their bellies and with blankets and bumpers ::gasp::

Heidi has been the most adaptable yet. I suppose she really doesn't have a choice but I love her for it nonetheless. Today she's taking a morning nap (hence my updating of the blog) but yesterday she only took one afternoon nap. That's my girl!

Your kids might be a dream when it comes to sleep. More power to you but really mine are not. They eventually work through their kinks but do not do well if they are over tired. Instead of more sleep they compensate by extreme crabbiness and fits of rage. Which would you prefer? Coming home early or devil children? You decide if I'm crazy...I don't care. We all have our issues. No one is without some sort of neurosis. I think the main difference is how we let them rule our lives. If it interferes with our ability to be functional parts of society then you might consider some therapy. If its just some quirks and you are cognisant of them so what. No one is perfect and we all have to do what we think is best for our kids. Even if it leads to mild mockery from our families :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

All About Babies



This week's theme on I ♥ Faces is "All about Babies". I have baby pictures and lots of them! It was hard to choose but this one might have to be the one.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Double Trouble





This week's challenge on I ♥ Faces is "Play". I think the boys playing in the sprinkler fits the bill.



Friday, June 4, 2010

Sputtering


I just feel like I'm sputtering. I'm pulled in a million directions at once and just getting by most of the time. I think everyone has phases like that where they are in a blur of child rearing, shopping, interrupted sleep and social interaction. May was a busy month in our house. It just seemed to fly by and leave a path of destruction in its wake. June is pretty calm but I'm still recovering from May. The boys are out of school (the horrors!) and we are all home. The whining and fighting are not for the faint of heart. I swear all I say is:

"I can't understand you because you are whining."
"I'm not part of this fight so I don't want to hear about it."
"Stop tattling."
"Don't hit/kick/punch/suffocate your brother/sister."
"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

I think this is the period of adjustment because they aren't used to being around each other so much. They don't fight all the time but when they do it can be explosive. That said, the bickering is just as annoying as the screaming. When they are sweet and hugging and playing nicely its sheer perfection.


I try to stay out of their fights as best I can because I don't want any part of irrational pecking. Plus if I intervened I wouldn't have time to do anything else, much less work on The Suzy Homemaker Plan. Speaking of that plan...I haven't started yet. I have paint swatches on the wall in my dining room and the paint buckets in the basement but how in the WORLD could I possibly paint two large rooms with all those kids underfoot. If it were just the boys it would be one thing but Heidi? She's into everything. I think this will require a sitter to come to the house while I work. I'm not an after hours painter. I paint with mad fury during the day and crank out a room in a day.

Once again I'm abandoning all logical flow patterns and flittering from project to project. (Yesterday Raph and I organized my recipes into binders with nice tabs and page protectors. Because, that's REALLY important.) I think, with the exception of painting over the color swatches on the wall, my little (read: epic) plan will have to wait until the fall when the boys are in school again. This summer I have to try to make it through as a SAHM for the first time without throwing unnecessary obstacles in my path. I read something the other day that I need to remember, "There is no extra credit for taking the hardest path possible." This is true. I don't need to set myself up for failure like that...there is plenty in my path already without adding more! You know, like getting Heidi to go to sleep by herself and stay that way until morning. Or keeping all the damn crumbs off the floor. That alone makes me feel lik Sisyphus.


I'm trying to get it together and fall into some sort of rhythm for summer. Its my only hope for survival. Otherwise its going to be like Lord of the Flies over here!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flowers




This week's theme on I ♥ Faces is flowers. I took this picture of Heidi a few weeks ago and its perfect for the theme.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Most Important Job

Raph was talking about daddy's work and how I used to work. About how when I had Heidi I decided I needed to stay home. Then starts listing all the work I do now that I'm home (and how Daddy doesn't do much at home ::snicker:: ). He says to me, "Mommy, know what the most important job is? Taking care of your kids."

Seems he's an advocate of stay-at-home-mom-dom. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I wuv you!



I'm entering my first ever I ♥ Faces weekly challenge. I've enjoyed looking at all the pictures and tutorials but have never entered. I think this is my week to try something new because I have the perfect picture. Now that I have found the list of future weekly challenges I'm looking for that one perfect picture that fits the next theme.