Monday, June 30, 2008

We are richly blessed with germs

I thought we were supposed to be reasonably healthy for the summer. I thought the sunshine and outdoor activities would kill all the germs before they had a chance to infect us.

I thought wrong.

Claire woke up around 1 am last night vomiting. She got sick about 10 times in about 10 hours. So many that I completely lost count. So instead of enjoying a beautiful summer day with Justine, we quarantined ourselves in the house and tried to get ahead of the mountain of laundry.

The laundry is winning.

Then BJ came down with it, too, and came home from work at noon.

So far, MG and I are ok, but that's going to last until about midnight tonight, when she'll wake up sick. I hope to have some sheets and towels clean by then, but I'm not hopeful.

Of course, BJ has a very important, unmissable meeting on Wednesday. Of course. Because that's how it always goes.

I don't get it. I use hand sanitizer. I wash the kids regularly. I was my own hands constantly. I have no freaking idea where we might have picked this bug up, and I am not at all happy about it.

Poor Claire. Poor BJ. Poor me. At least the two of them are resting comfortably (I hope) upstairs right now. I took a nap with MG, to catch up on the sleep I missed last night. I needed it. Especially if I'm going to be up all night with MG, or up all night sick, myself.

Do other families with young kids get sick this often, or is it just us? For crying out loud, we just got over croup a week and a day ago. This is ridiculous. What am I doing wrong??

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The ExpHAIRiment - Just Cut It All Off

It is not easy to get a good picture of oneself and one's new haircut, is it?

I went in the bathroom to take it photos of myself in the mirror, the way Moosh did. Apparently it helps a lot if you have a phat camera, and you're a size 2, and you don't have 11 chins...

Oh no, dummy, you have to turn off the flash.

Look at Blurry, trying to pretend she has a waist.

Doobleh-Vay would be proud of that chin jut, but who knew that I could jut my nose like that?? I like to call this pose the "Crazed Pinnochio."

Did you know that your nose and your ears grow throughout your life. By the time I'm 85, I'm going to look like Karl Malden. You didn't need to see the top of the haircut, anyway, right?
Back off, Lefty, this is not about you!

There. Close enough.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The world is full of pretty babies today!! Not only did my friend Tauna (formerly known as "T" - everyone has already heard by now that she had her baby) have her beautiful baby James last night... 7 pounds even, 20 inches long, lots of soft baby hair, and the sweetest little roundy head... My friend Katy also had her baby, Sam, within the past couple of days. I found out when I checked my e-mail after I got back from seeing Tauna. If I'd known, I would've gone 2 for 1 at Rubia and taken flowers to both of them at once (and I could've held TWO new baby boys!!).

By the way, local folks, Rubia does such an amazing job with flowers, and they are so reasonable (if you get them in the store and deliver them yourself, which is always a good idea because then you get to hold the babies!). I got a bouquet with blue hydrangeas, and they cut the stems short, then had 12 long-stem white roses sticking out all over, with some purple stuff (sounds like linoleum, but that's not the right word) filling in the gaps between the roses. I thought it looked really neat, not your "usual" floral arrangement, certainly, and their prices are so awesome. Karen and I took a class there last fall, too, which was a lot of fun. We were supposed to make table arrangements for Thanksgiving. Mine wasn't quite what I was going for, but it was still a lot of fun.

Gotta run, I'm at work!

The ExpHAIRiment, Day 4

I have screwed up the ExpHAIRiment. You're only supposed to apply the apple cider vinegar to the ends of your hair. I've been putting it all over. Consequently, I am greasy. Very greasy. In fact, if we could figure out how to collect the hair grease and use it to power our engines, I could singlehandedly end our dependence on the Middle East for oil.

Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but it's bad.

The thing is, this oiliness feels somehow healthier than the oiliness I've experienced in the past when I've skipped a shower. My scalp doesn't itch. It doesn't look fabulous (but I haven't showered yet!), but it doesn't feel gross. It just looks gross.

So, the ExpHAIRiment continues. I'm going to shower in a few minutes, and I'll be careful to apply the vinegar only to the (quite damaged, still need a haircut) ends of my hair. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, there has been no overnight news from T, however, I don't think we're on her "call in the middle of the night" list. We're more in the "they'll hear about it soon enough" category. BJ often works out at the lab at the University where T's husband works, so I'm sure if there's news, he'll get it when he gets out there. I am resisting the urge to call and check on them. I did call and leave a message last night that said, "Hey, I hear you're in labor. I'll come and take video if you want. You'll never know I'm there!" See, we'd talked about whether or not to videotape labor when we went out for dinner a couple weeks ago. T said that she didn't want her husband to be so worried about the camera that he wasn't fully present for the big event, or so worried about it that he wasn't focused on her. I said I had the perfect solution - I could come videotape the birth, and then they could focus on each other! A lot of nervous laughter, and a couple of those marital glances where the couple can read each others thoughts, and the thoughts are, "If you agree to this I will kill you," followed. Nevertheless, I've been hoping ever since that they'd call and say, "We thought about it and we want you to tape our birth!"

The call never came, obviously, but I just want to extend the offer to all of you - I will be happy to quietly and unobtrusively videotape your labor and childbirth if you want me to. I was in the room when my brother was born, but I was 3 so the memories are pretty fuzzy. Since then, I've always been a bit busy and distracted when I've attended a childbirth, mainly because I was the one birthing the child. I think it would be amazing and wonderful to see it from the other side - you know, the side that isn't in labor.

So, e-mail me or call if you're pregnant (SAUNDRA!) and you think you'd like to have a very professional, very symapthetic videographer present for the Big Day. I promise that I will give you all copies of the tape, and I will bring chocolate and a post-partum bottle of champagne. Did I mention that I'm really good at massage?

I'm trying to decide whether or not I should stop by the hospital after I drop the kids off at Dawn's today. On the one hand, T didn't visit me in the hospital after my kids were born. On the other hand, she's a lot busier than I am, and if I'm going to go up there, I don't want to bring my kids, and today may be my best opportunity to do that. I think it'll be ok if I show up with a present for the baby and some chocolate. What do you think?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Great news!

My friend is in labor!! We're going to call her "T," because I don't know if she wants me broadcasting it all over the internet or not. Hahaha...

If you happen to read this before the next update, please say a prayer for the quick and painless and most of all safe and healthy delivery of little James.

I have to go shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Liveblogging The Baby Borrowers

Ok, if this isn't the stupidest program on television, ever, I don't know what is.

First of all, what parents in their right minds would let their teenagers move in with their boyfriends or girlfriends? I can't believe this show found 10 families willing to allow their kids to move in with their significant others and share a bed! Call me old fashioned, but over my dead body!

Second, what rock did they find the infants' and toddlers' parents under? My God - the only thing worse than allowing your teens to move in with their S.O.s that I can think of is turning your defenseless baby over to a couple of selfish, immature, inexperienced teenagers. It's reprehensible that they found 10 families - 5 babies and 5 toddlers - to do this. I am absolutely appalled.

The whole premise is idiotic. Life doesn't just drop fully formed into your lap one day. You learn to roll, then you learn to push up on your arms, then you learn to crawl, then you learn to walk, then you learn to run, then you learn to dance. Taking these kids and dumping them in "the real world" is the same thing as taking a 3 month old and expecting her to do the rhumba.

The first "experiment" was the pregnancy belly - the girls had to wear a belly that made them look 13 months pregnant for a day or two. One of the girls completely freaked out and refused to wear it. For crying out loud, the baby starts off as two cells. You have 9 months to get used to the gradual growth before you get to the point where you're the size of the broad side of a barn. It doesn't happen all at once. If it did, no one would ever get pregnant. How terrifying and impossible would it be to roll over after conception and suddenly be 30 pounds heavier and huge? It's nothing like real pregnancy, and saying that it is like pregnancy is just ignorant.

Ok, we've caught up to where I am in the show now. After this commercial, they're going to get the babies. But, again, life doesn't just drop a 10 month old in your lap (unless you adopt, but even then you get the whole long adoption process to prepare yourself, emotionally and physically, for a baby, in much the same way that a pregnant woman or a pregnant couple can prepare themselves).

The other problem that I have with this premise is that your own baby is a whole different story from any other baby you have ever dealt with, ever, in your life. I remember being in the hospital when Mary Grace was born, and she started to cry so Brandon handed her back to me, saying, "She wants her mom." I remember thinking, "This is it. This is where everyone sees that I can't do this. This is where they're going to realize that I'm a fraud and that I can't make this kid happy, and that I have no idea what I'm doing..." He handed her to me, and she stopped crying like magic, just because I was me.

Babies know their parents from the moment they're born, and that makes it easier to take care of them in so many ways. Of course the kids on this show are going to be traumatized, being away from their parents, so they're going to make the teenagers' lives living hells. Of course. But it's not at all like that if they're your own. Ok, sometimes it is, just because babies have gas or colic or whatever, but generally infants are going to be happier with their own parents than they will be with anyone else. And they don't know what's going on, they don't understand this "experiment" so the babies are going to be freaked out. This is borderline cruelty.

I don't know if it's true for BJ, but my kids' diapers have never bothered me the way that other kids' diapers bothered me. And I've been thrown up on dozens of times, and while it's not an experience I would choose, it's not disgusting on the same level that other peoples' vomit would be. I call it "local gross" versus "foreign gross" - substances out of the bodies of the people who live in this house just don't bother me the way substances from strangers would bother me. Does that make sense?

Ok, here comes the baby... 11 months old. Oh my God, he's a choker. And they're going to give him to a couple of kids. Jeezus. Mary Grace was a choker. I gave her the back blows about a thousand times. Claire doesn't do it, though, thank heavens. It was terrifying.

Baby #2 - the parents of baby #2 think that they're doing these teenagers a favor, teaching them that parenting is more than changing diapers... Ack. Seven months old and teething. Good luck.

Six month old Baby #3. Mom was a teenager mother. Ok, her reasons for participating in this almost make sense. I dislike her the least.

Baby #4 - these kids aren't listening to the mother's instructions at all. Scary. Mom's nervous. YA THINK? Maybe you should've thought about that before you signed up for this, Mommy Dearest!

Here comes freaked-out-about-the-belly-mom - they get Zachary. She says she felt motherly toward him. How is she going to get motherly in real life if she can't deal with being pregnant?

Ok, the parents can watch 24/7 and intervene if they need to, and there are nannies in the house to step in just in case there's an emergency. That makes me feel a bit better.

The boys are going shopping for baby supplies. Again, this isn't something you have to learn all at once. You get a thousand samples from the hospital, you get gifts at your shower, you work into it gradually. This is like baby bootcamp. It's nothing like real life at all.

This blond kid, the surfer guy, seems to have a good head on his shoulders. His girlfriend is a spoiled little twit, though.

How sad - Karson's mother intervened because he wouldn't eat, and she said to the teenager, "He doesn't want to eat because you're holding him, and he's not used to being held." I guess that explains what kind of parents would allow their child to be a part of this sort of "experiment." Parents who don't hold their kids. Parents who think holding is spoiling. Mother of God... Paging Dr. Sears, Dr. Sears to the Stupid TV Show, STAT!

And, we're back from commercial. The obligatory "gagging over the diapers" shots are next. Yeah, you don't want to go in too early - make sure they're done before you start changing it. That's important. Now the baby who pooped is crying. The kids don't realize that babies are like worms when it comes to their digestive systems - if some comes out, some has to go back in. Often, putting something in will cause something to come out. But if something comes out, and nothing's gone in, the baby's going to cry. He's hungry. Feed him!

Oh, all the babies are crying now. It's making my boobs hurt, hearing all these crying babies. I don't know how these parents can sit in the "observation house" and just watch their kids cry all day. What a bunch of assholes.

Ooohh... Kelsey's jealous that the baby likes her boyfriend more. That's real. Claire prefers BJ, and sometimes it just kills me. It's a good thing we had MG first, and she prefered me, because now I can just repeat to myself all the things I said to him about MG when she was small - don't take it personally, babies are weird, she loves you, it's not a reflection on your abilities as a parent, and so on...

I love how these kids are calling the babies "it." Hahaha... The mom just confronted the couple in the preview (Kelsey and her boyfriend) for saying, "Let's just put it in the other room," during the night when the baby was crying. She said "IT? It is a little girl!"

I think that's the problem with a lot of teenagers who want to be parents (not that I think this is common anywhere but TV land, but what do I know about teenagers?). They see the baby as an object, or an accessory... Like Paris Hilton's dog, only less furry. Then they have a baby, and they realize that "it" is a person, not an object, and by the time they figure that out, it's too late to back out. Maybe this show isn't all garbage. But I still think every single parent involved is out of his or her mind.

The way the African-American baby cried when her daddy showed up, oh, it's breaking my heart! Now she's happy because her dad is there. No infant should be away from her parents for three days. This is just cruel. I'm really worried that one of these babies is going to get shaken in the night. Nights are hard, anyway, and these babies want their parents.

I think I'm hallucinating. Peter Brady is on a trapeze. Maybe I was hasty when I said that the Baby Borrowers was the stupidest show on TV... This is pretty bad. I could've gone my whole life without the flying Bradies.

Hello, NBC? I used to love you. ER, Friends, Frazier, Cheers, the Cosby Show, all outstanding shows. There was a time in my life when I rarely watched any TV show that wasn't on NBC, but you've gotten lame. Very very lame. It's time to return to your roots (you know, shows with actors and plots!) instead of all this trashy "reality" TV. We're over it, already.

In all honesty, I don't think I'm going to be wasting an hour on The Baby Borrowers next week.

Oh, Claire started saying "Max" today. She says, "Maa-ah!" in a "yoo hoo" sort of descending third tone... It's really cute, I'll try to get it on tape.

The ExpHAIRiment

I'm so clever, sometimes, I just kill me...

I wrote the other day about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner so that my abundant natural oils can stop being so abundant. I've been doing it for two days, now, and so far, so good!

I think I'm going to need to get a haircut in order to truly assess the difference. I have a lot of frizziness going on at the ends of my hair. It's been a while since my last hair cut (a while, like 6 months!) so I don't think I can blame the "no poo." I think the conditioner in the Fructis 2 in 1 I was using was actually sticking my hairs to each other or maybe to themselves, and causing it to look less damaged than it is. Now that it's not sticky, it looks damaged. But that's an easy fix.

Any cute summer haircut suggestions for a person with a very round face?

In other beauty news, have you ever tried an aspirin facial? No, I'm not kidding. You dissolve 6 uncoated aspirin in a few drops of water, and smash them until you have a paste. Then you put it on your face and wait for 10 or 15 minutes, until it dries. As you wash it off, you massage/scrub it into your face.

Holy cow. I did this last night and it worked better than the commercial product (St. Ives Apricot Medicated Scrub) that I've been using for eons. No kidding. And a bottle of a zillion aspirin costs like $5. I could do this every week for a year, and still come out ahead. Give it a try (unless you're sensitive to aspirin, in which case it is a very bad idea) and let me know what you think.

Works for Me: Nothing

I thought I should mention that I haven't "quit" Works for me Wednesday - I just haven't been able to come up with anything brilliant that works for me, lately. Between having a house full of sick people, getting in arguments with people, and the general chaos that reigns in my house when it comes to housework, I haven't felt at all qualified to sit on high and make pronouncements about better ways to do things.

It must be going around, because Shannon couldn't think of anything today, either.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fine. We're fine. The kids are better (although Claire is still hoarse, and if she isn't over it by Monday I'm going to take her to the doctor - and I just wrote, and had to correct, "take her to the vet." I am an excellent mother). The house isn't really that bad, mainly because I haven't been cooking a whole lot, lately. It's too hot, and we've been too busy. The toys have spread out of the toy room, again, and it could use a vacuum, but it's not like the city is coming by to condemn my house any time soon.

I could use a few suggestions, though. For one thing, Claire has been climbing the chairs and sitting on the dining room table. The chairs are cheap (hooray Ikea) so she can actually pull them out and climb them. Does anyone have any good ideas for how to stop her? Preferably ideas that won't interfere too much with the normal use of the chairs. I'm not excited about, say, putting them upside down on top of the table, the way we had to do with our chairs at the end of the day in school, because she could pull them down on top of herself. BJ's thinking bungee cords, but that sounds like a pain in my neck. Maybe I'll just put a stack of books on each chair's seat, so that they're harder to pull out. Lord knows we have enough books!

MG loves the movie Monsters, Inc., she calls the music at the beginning, during the credits, the "door music" because of all the doors that open and close during the opening sequence. Well, we have a Disney book called "Family Story Collection Volume 2" which has a bunch (75 actually) of stories from the Disney movies, and yesterday she was excited to find that Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. are on the cover, and there are two Monsters, Inc. stories in the book. Hey, she's 2, it was a big thrill. Well, she just brought the book over to me, and said, "Look, Mommy. This book has door music!" She was pointing to the "bibliography" page at the end, where it says in fine, centered print which story came from which movie. Then she said, "Something must be wrong, it's not moving!" Apparently the credits in the book are supposed to roll like the credits in a movie. HA!

The other thing I need a suggestion on is kind of fun... Our friend, we'll call him Jacques because he gets all irritated when I put him "all over" the internet (as if anyone reads this!), has a cousin, we'll call her Justine, because that's her name, who is coming from France on Friday to stay with Jacques for a month and improve her English. She's going to spend a lot of time with the girls and I while Jacques and his girlfriend, Fran, are at work all day. He wants to bring her over this weekend to have a meal with us and let us all get to know each other.

When I went to France as a teenager, I was so excited to try the food. Our first night, we had dinner at a prix fixe place where everyone got the same thing. Steak frites. Steak and fries. I was so disappointed to be served something I could easily get at home! I still remember it, what, 17 years later? That's a disappointing meal.

So, I want to make the "All American Meal" for Justine. I was thinking meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, but that's a pretty heavy meal for summer. It's more of a cool weather meal. Then I thought about burgers and hot dogs on the grill, with potato salad and baked beans, but that didn't seem very interesting, either. I also considered tuna noodle casserole (with crunched up chips on top) and Jello salad, but I don't want her to run screaming back to the airport.

What is the "All American Meal"?

Thanks for the help! I hope something works for me next week!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Aunt Mimi!

Today is Mimi's 27th birthday! It's very weird, because I was 5 when she was born and I remember holding her for the first time, and she screamed and turned all red. How can I remember something so clearly that happened so long ago?

Happy birthday, Mimi! I hope you enjoyed your birthday dinner with Trey!

Random things that only happen to me

Things happen to me that don't happen to other, dare I say "normal," people.

Today I found a baby.

I was driving down the street, past the old school that they use for an admin building now, and I saw a stroller sitting in the grass, next to the driveway that leads to the parking lot, far from any buildings or people.

"Weird," I said to my dad, who I was talking to on the phone, "I just saw a stroller that appeared to be abandoned by the side of the road." Pause... "I hope there wasn't a baby in it! Hold on, I have to go check and make sure there isn't a baby in it..."

I turned right into the neighborhood, then right twice more to get back to where I had been. I rounded the corner into the parking lot, peeked into the stroller (it was facing away from the driveway) and I saw feet!

"Oh my God, Dad, there's a baby! I'll call you back!"

I hung up on Dad. Frantic, I started running toward the stroller, while looking around for someone, anyone, that the kid might belong to. He was asleep - or at least, I HOPED he was asleep. My boring, ordinary day of running errands was turning into a made-for-TV-movie.

The only person I saw was a kid who appeared to be 6 or 8 on his bike, about 150 feet to my right. Surely he's not the babysitter or something? My eyes scanned right, and I saw a woman bending down, helping her daughter ride her bike. She was at least 200 feet away from me and the stroller. I had to yell to be heard, "Is this yours?" I shouted. "Yeah!" she said. "Oh my God, I saw the stroller, and I didn't see you (she was already behind me by the time I spied the stroller on my first drive past), and I freaked out! Sorry!"

I got into my car and, a little sheepishly, turned around and drove away.

But then I thought about it, and I'm kind of glad that I'm the kind of person who stops when she sees something unusual like that. I mean, what if he had been abandoned? How many people would have driven right by?

So, it makes my life kind of weird and dramatic, but I don't think I'd change the way I am. At least, not on this point...

Chemicals, chemicals everywhere

I love the idea of switching away from chemical-based products (and I mean everything - shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, household cleaners, etc.) and switching to natural products. For one thing, it would be better for the environment if we all washed our hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar than dumping gallons of Pantene into the water supply every day. For another, I think it would be better for our bodies.

After reading about the damage that phthalates can do to little growing bodies, I switched all the kids stuff from Johnson's and Johnson's to California Baby - which is an expensive natural product I found at Target. We've also switched to organic milk (which costs a small fortune). We're still using Pampers, and I hate it, but it feels like it's too late to switch to cloth (and BJ would probably kill me if I even suggested it!).

I bought the Borax and the Washing Soda necessary to make my own laundry detergent, but I've yet to find Fels Naptha soap (I don't want to order a single bar online - seems silly to pay shipping for something that's $1). I just recently read that you can use Ivory, instead, so I may buy some and give it a shot.

But what about me? My hair is super greasy. If I don't wash it every day, my scalp itches and my hair looks filthy. It's not filthy - I'm not running a marathon every day. It's oil. Apparently shampoo strips the natural oils out of your hair, and so your body over-produces them in response. My kids don't have greasy hair - they can go a week without a wash and look super - so I can only assume that it's 32 years of shampoo use that causes mine to be this way.

I've been reading online about going "no poo" and I'm intrigued. Certainly using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair would be cheaper than using Fructis. It would be nice for this natural stuff to be cheaper than the alternative, for a change. (Well, the laundry detergent will be cheaper, once I find the soap, but the California Baby products and the organic milk are killing our grocery budget!). It would also be nice for this "busy mom on the go" to be able to skip a shower once or twice a week and not look grungey. (A hair dresser actually called me a "busy mom on the go" about a dozen times when she was teaching me how to make a "cute" ponytail. It looked a lot like a regular pony tail to me, except it took about three times longer. Hair dressers are weird. Long live the French braid).

The thing is, all the sites I've read say that it takes about a month for your hair to revert to its natural state, and I'm kind of afraid of what I'm going to look like for that month. Especially now that it's summer - I don't want to look like I fell head first into a deep fryer.

What do you think, internets? To no-poo, or not to no-poo, that is today's question!


The pictures are really grainy. I was all the way across the gym with Claire. I didn't want to be that mother who is constantly following her kid around snapping pictures and interfering with the class, so I made myself sit still and watch from the sidelines, and take pictures from there.

When we left yesterday I said, "You followed directions so well! You should be really proud of yourself. What was your favorite part of your class today?" and she said, "Everything!"

I love the way her whole demeanor changed when I told her she should be proud. She puffed out her little chest, and walked a little taller. Every day she is more and more her own person, and less a part of me. It's bittersweet, to watch her grow, and know that she's inevitably growing away from me.

She's the youngest kid in her class, and the tallest. I didn't get a picture, but at one point they were marching, and she was out in front of the group, with her knees up so high, and she looked so proud, so confident.

She's not my baby anymore. She's a big girl. A big gymnast, even! It goes so fast.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Yesterday's Project

Remember yesterday's project? Well, we got the main structure assembled. It took all day, but that's my fault because I slept late. We got the swings on. We replaced one of the regular swings with an infant swing for Claire. We couldn't assemble the slide because the kit was missing some important washer like things that are split in half, so BJ will make our 5th trip to the hardware store today to pick some of those up. Apparently they're important, and not something that you can just skip (which was my suggestion).

BJ is so funny, he is a perfectionist of the highest order, and so if something is 1/4 inch off, even if it doesn't make any difference, structurally, he can't rest until he fixes it. He doesn't know the meaning of the phrase "close enough." It's what makes him a good engineer, but it's also what makes all of our home improvements take 3x longer than the estimated project time listed on the box. I think he drilled two holes for every screw that's in that thing. Of course, there are so many screws that it's more metal than wood, so I think it'll be ok, regardless.

I put the A frame that holds up the swing beam together all by my little self. I also installed the doohickeys that hold the swings up. So, when my kids fall and bust their heads, I'll have no one to blame but myself. This was by design.

I've been blogging with Scribefire, but it's acting very buggy and I keep losing posts. I've written this one twice. Very annoying. I think it has to do with upgrading to Firefox 3. Hey Scribefire - fix yourself!!

We have gymnastics at noon. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures this time. BJ had the camera last time, but he was too busy trying to keep Claire from imploding to take any pictures. And I was too busy trying to teach MG to line up and to be more than 3 feet away from me without freaking out. Hopefully I'll get some posted later today. I also need to work on putting all the accessories on the playset (the periscope, the steering wheel so you can imagine that it's a bus or a firetruck or whatever, and the rock climbing wall). Oh, and I need to go to work for a bit.

What am I doing just sitting her blogging?? It's a busy day!

6 Quirks Meme

The rules are to link the person who sent it to you (Mandy at Piaku!), mention these rules in your blog, then (the fun part) tell us about 6 random, unspectacular quirks that you possess. Then tag 6 others to do the same.

How am I supposed to narrow it down to six??

1) I am a magical thinker. I think that I can avert events by anticipating them. It's always the stuff that you never imagined that happened, right? So, if I think about every possible bad thing that could happen, I feel like I've somehow avoided them. I realize that this is insane, but realizing it doesn't make me do it any less.

2) I can only carry things (my purse, my kids) on my left side.

3) I remember song lyrics to songs that I haven't heard in years. In fact, if I need to memorize something, all I have to do is turn it into a song and it's burned into my memory forever. Remember this annoying McDonalds ad? I still know all the words. See, I had a paper route when they put the record album (yes, I'm that old) in the paper with the song on it, and if the singers got all the way through, you won a million dollars or something. They sang it 3x per record, and I had 50 customers on my route. Of course I stole all the records out of all the papers and played them all to try to win. I didn't, but I still know the song, and that, friends, is the gift that keeps on giving!

4) I look like an idiot in glasses and hats. There isn't a single pair of glasses or a single hat on the planet that doesn't make me look stupid. I think my head is shaped funny or something.

5) I don't mind doing things alone. For example, it has come to my attention that there are people on this planet who won't see movies by themselves. I think this is silly, because you aren't supposed to talk during movies, anyway, so what difference does it make whether you know the person next to you or not? I also don't mind going to restaurants alone. I just take a good book. I am comfortable traveling alone, too. A lot of people (especially women) aren't. It just doesn't bother me. I don't know if that makes me antisocial, independent, or just weird, but there it is. I'm comfortable with my own company, I guess. Of course, I prefer to be with people, but if all my people are busy or whatever, no big deal. Last night I saw Sex In The City by myself (there's a lot more sex in the city when you're not watching the edited for TBS version! Holy full frontal of the male neighbor, Batman! I'm relieved that I didn't call my dad to see if he wanted to go. Hello, awkward!)

6) I am a jack of all trades, master of none. I can do a lot of stuff passably, but I'm not an expert at anything. I also have a really terrible memory, and I sometimes wonder if these two quirks aren't related - maybe if I could remember stuff I'd be better at stuff. Right? Maybe that's why I love to write, because if I write stuff down, I don't have to worry about forgetting it.

Instead of the Usual Suspects, I tag...

Charlotte at Harrington Family Blog
Amy at Doobleh-Vay
Becky at sailing.....
Cary at List of the Day
Casey at moosh in indy and
Lisa at Clusterfook

Just to be new and different... :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Today's Project

It's my blog and I can bitch if I want to

I put this post up a few days ago, then took it down because I didn't want to offend "Lola." Well, guess what... This is my blog, and I'm not going to edit myself anymore. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Stay tuned for my upcoming treatise on how the baby boomers are all completely insane, and have screwed up hundreds of years worth of social and cultural progress in just one generation. For now, here's the original post. Names have been changed. Unfortunately, I can't get the original poll votes or the comments back, but I encourage you to vote (early and often) and to leave comments telling me how you would handle the situation I describe. Maybe Lola will read them and get her rectal/cranial inversion fixed...

Here's the post. Goodnight, kids.

I am being given the silent treatment by someone very important to me. We will call her Lola. Lola has a dog, we'll call him Charlie, who is about 14 years old. Charlie has been mean his entire life. He has bitten dozens of people. He bit Mary Grace when she was about 15 months old. He's blind and has a host of health problems that have only made him more and more vicious.

When Charlie bit Mary Grace, Lola and I agreed that whenever Mary Grace (and subsequently, Claire, of course) was around, Charlie would either be muzzled or put in another room. Considering that I knew Charlie's history, I really should have insisted that Lola put him down, but I didn't want to break Lola's heart.

We were at Lola's house, recently, and she had Charlie sitting under her feet. One of the kids came near her, and she shooed her away. "Doesn't he have his muzzle on?" I asked. "It was irritating him, so I took it off, but he's fine, I've got him." "He wasn't half as irritated as I'm going to be if he bites one of my kids," I replied.

I gave myself some time to calm down, and a few days later I called Lola. "Look, Lola," I said, "When Charlie bit Mary Grace we agreed that he would either be muzzled or put away when the girls were at your house, and we've* gotten pretty lax about that. I want you to understand that if you take the muzzle off of him when we're there, again, we will leave, and we will not come back until he is dead," (whether by natural causes or not isn't my choice).

(*Notice that I said "we" and took responsibility for my own complicity in the situation.)

Lola said that she had control of him at the time, and that he was no threat to my kids. I reminded her of two times (that I am aware of) that Charlie has bitten adults while he was in Lola's arms. She said, "That's different, they provoked him," I said, "You don't think my kids could provoke him, too? You don't think that it could happen so fast, that there's nothing you could do to stop it?" Then Lola got offended that I would accuse her of putting my children at risk. I said, "I don't think you're doing it deliberately, but I think you have a big blind spot when it comes to Charlie." This went on...

I finally said, "Look, the bottom line is that BJ and I have discussed this, we're their parents, and we will not risk this. We would have to live with ourselves if something happened, and we don't want to have to try to do that."

Lola hung up on me and hasn't called me since.

As it stands, now, Lola and I have had it out again (both in e-mail and on the phone), and I have told her that we will not be returning to her house as long as Charlie lives there. She said that she'd put him in the upstairs bathroom, and that she doesn't understand what the big deal is.

Lola, if you're reading, I just want to reiterate - the big deal is that you have not acknowledged that you were wrong to take his muzzle off (especially without consulting me, because you put my kids in danger. And you did so after I had made my wishes on the matter crystal clear). If you simply say,
"I'm sorry, I was wrong to take his muzzle off. It was not safe. It won't happen again," then I can trust that you understand my point and will respect my wishes. Until you do, I won't feel safe in your home. You are welcome to visit us here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'll Teach You All This In Eight Easy Steps

I just read a very interesting article about parenting over at US News. Apparently I'm doing everything wrong.

1. Parents fail at setting limits.

We have limits. "Don't touch Mommy's wine." And how about "I'm not talking to you until Oprah's over." Those are limits, right?

2. They're overprotective.

I can't believe that US News is still hung up on the bubble wrap jumper with matching bonnet that MG used to wear. It was a joke, folks. Build a bridge and get over it.

3. They nag. Lecture. Repeat. Then yell.

If I stop nagging, lecturing, repeating myself, and yelling, I might as well stop talking. That's all I do.

4. They praise too much - and badly.

"Nice hit!" said Mommy, as Claire punched Mary Grace in the nose. (Hey, she had it coming...)

5. They punish too harshly.

I do not think it's too harsh that my kids are already grounded until they're 29. I think it's for their own good.

6. They tell their child how to feel.

I need to remember when they get hurt not to say, "you're okay." Instead, I'm going to start saying, "Rub some dirt in it and walk it off!" That'll cover #6 and #2!!

7. They put grades and SATs ahead of creativity.

I am so pissed about the kids' SAT scores - why else do you think they're grounded until they're 29? They couldn't even fill in the bubbles! Don't get me started about the essay section...

8. They forget to have fun.

I'd be happy to have fun, as soon as someone gets these kids out of my hair.

Ok, but seriously, what are you screwing up as a parent? For me, it's totally the yelling/nagging/repeating/lecturing one.

(Thanks to Parent Dish for the heads up on the article.)

Update on BJ

Not pneumonia, bronchitis.

I was close.

I'm a (web)MD!

I'm pretty sure BJ has pneumonia. He's headed to Urgent Care when he gets dressed to find out. I've had seriously bad luck with the doctors at that doc in a box, but I figure if I'm smart enough to diagnose him (with a little help from WebMD) then they should be able to handle it.

Part of me wants to pin a note to his shirt that says, "Dear Doctor, I am reasonably certain that this patient has pneumonia for the following reasons. A, B, C. Please treat him accordingly so that I don't have to write you a nasty letter when you diagnose him incorrectly and then he goes to our real doctor, gets diagnosed with pneumonia, and treated properly. It'll save us both a lot of time. Sincerely, Amy"

Yes, I'm that patient.

You see, when I was pregnant with Claire, I was still nursing Mary Grace. We got some kind of virus (this was in November, then we got rotavirus in February. I'm not sure what the November virus was, but it doesn't matter. It was nasty) and I went to the Urgent Care... Well, here's the letter I sent afterwards, which tells the whole story.
To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to file a formal complaint about the treatment I received on November 3, 2006.

I am 18 weeks pregnant, and I am nursing my 14 month old daughter. I am also taking Zoloft for post-partum depression. On Friday, November 3, I came down with a severe stomach virus. I violently vomited 4 times in 3 hours. I was unable to keep down even a sip of water. Out of concern for my unborn child, I called my OB’s office and asked them what I should do. The nurse, Tammy, recommended that I take phenergan, and said that she would call in a prescription to my pharmacy.

As I always do with unfamiliar medications, I quickly looked phenergan up on the internet. I found that it was a pregnancy category C, meaning that its effects on unborn children are not known. I asked Tammy if she was sure it was safe, and she replied, “The doctor wouldn’t prescribe it if it wasn’t safe.”

As a skeptical consumer, I chose to read further. I discovered that nursing while taking phenergan is not recommended, and that it is also not to be used in combination with Zoloft. I mentioned, again, that I was both breastfeeding and taking Zoloft. Tammy said that she’d speak with the doctor and call me back.

When Tammy called back, she said that I should go to Urgent Care for fluids. I mentioned that I was having stomach cramping, and I was concerned about the baby, and she said that they could do fetal monitoring as well. She again mentioned taking the phenergan as a suppository, but I decided to speak with the doctor at Urgent Care about it before consenting to take it, because I still had grave concerns about breastfeeding while taking this medication, and I was not being given an opportunity to speak to my OB directly.

When I arrived at Urgent Care I was quickly taken back to a treatment room. A friend drove me, and she remained with me at my request. The nurse came in and I told her that I was both breastfeeding and on Zoloft, and that I was very concerned about the medication that my OB’s office was recommending, because my research showed that it was incompatible with breastfeeding. She suggested that I speak with the doctor.

Dr. MF (I'm not kidding, those are really his initials!!) then came in and promptly kicked my friend out. This bothered me, as the decision to have a third party in the room should be mine, and not his. Frankly, though, at the time I was too sick and too tired to argue about it. I again mentioned that I was breastfeeding my daughter, and that she was also ill with the same stomach virus, and that I was concerned about taking phenergan while nursing. I told him that my OB’s office had sent me in for fluids and fetal monitoring, and to get a suppository of phenergan, but that I was not comfortable with taking the phenergan. I thought I made myself clear that if it wasn’t safe to nurse while taking phenergan, then I did not want to take it. Dr. MF left the room to look up the drug, and left me alone. He returned and offered me a shot of phenergan, because they did not have an adult dose in suppository form. I had taken a shot of this medication before, and it burned, so I requested oral medication. He said that they had it in a gel that you put on your wrists, and I said, “ok,” to that.

I figured, at this point, that he had looked it up and found that phenergan was ok in my specific circumstance. However, just to be cautious, when the nurse came in with the gel and began putting it on my arms, I mentioned again that I’m breastfeeding. She said, “Oh, well you’re going to want to throw it out for a couple of days.” I was stunned. I had assumed that since it was being given to me, that there was nothing to worry about. I said, “I can’t throw it out. I’m pump resistant. I have never been able to pump more than a few drops!” She replied, “Well, then I guess you’ll have to quit.” (As if it is that easy!)

When Dr. MF came back in, I tried to get a sense of how dangerous the tiny amount of phenergan that would pass from my system to my baby’s would be. He said that they don’t like to give phenergan to children under 2. I said, “I understand that, but it would be a tiny amount that would pass through to her.” At that point, he visibly got exasperated and said that I would have to discuss the continuation of breastfeeding with my daughter’s pediatrician. Essentially, he “passed the buck.”

The very personal and private decision of whether or not to wean my daughter was taken right out of my hands, by a complete stranger. I could understand giving me the drug anyway, if I had been in an emergency situation where I had to either stop vomiting or lose my pregnancy, but this was clearly not the case. In fact, Dr. MF never gave me the IV fluids or the fetal monitoring that my OB’s office had sent me in for! He listened with a Doppler and said that he could tell the baby was fine from the heart rate. We discussed the pains I’d been having, and he said that they were intestinal pains. I would’ve felt a lot more comfortable having that verified by a non-stress test, but again, at that point I was too sick and too tired to argue. I have a regular OB appointment on November 6, so I will ask for an NST then if I am still having pains (I am writing this on November 5, and I am still having pains, by the way).

Phenergan is an antihistamine. All antihistamines will dry up breast milk. Furthermore, abrupt weaning can cause mastitis – a very serious breast infection whose symptoms are very similar to the stomach flu. If I had developed mastitis as a result of abrupt weaning, my symptoms would’ve been masked by the flu I already had. Not to mention the trauma to my daughter, who was struggling with the same virus herself, if Mommy came home and refused to nurse her! How do you explain that to a 14 month old? It could have been physically and psychologically devastating to her. Additionally, it would’ve made my already difficult week (being sick, pregnant, and having a sick child and a sick husband) more difficult by forcing me to deal with an angry, frustrated, abandoned-feeling baby.

As a result of Dr. MF’s “care,” I also get to spend the next 22 weeks wondering whether or not this medication has done damage to my unborn child. It was a gut-wrenching decision to continue to take Zoloft through my pregnancy, and it is a category B. Phenergan is a category C, which means it’s more dangerous. Once again, I was not given the option to make my own decision. The decision to put my unborn child at risk was thrust upon me by Dr. MF. He never discussed the risks to my unborn child with me.

In fact, by giving me phenergan in spite of the fact that I’m on Zoloft and it is counter-indicated, Dr. MF effectively put my entire family at risk. Myself, for the Zoloft, my 14 month old daughter because she’s nursing, and my unborn child because he or she is unborn! Maybe I should send my husband in to juggle knives with him or something. He might as well make a clean sweep of it…

What really makes me angry is that I made every effort to be sure that my conditions were known, and that my concerns were known, and the doctor did not listen to me at all. I made it abundantly clear that breastfeeding was my priority, and that I did not want the phenergan if it would interfere with breastfeeding. When he sent the nurse in with the medication, I was stupid to assume that he was implying that it was safe. I wonder how less well-informed patients would’ve been treated under the same circumstances?

By the way, treatment of this nature doesn’t make it any easier to swallow the recent 46% increase in our health insurance premiums (the largest increase that our agent has seen in 18 years of working there!). Once this baby is born, we will be shopping for a new health insurance provider.

I believe that Dr. MF should be reprimanded for his treatment of me. I feel that an appropriate consequence would be for him to attend a series of La Leche League meetings to educate himself about breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt if all Health Plan doctors were to receive further training on breastfeeding, as this is not the first problem I have had with an Health Plan doctor regarding breastfeeding. (Another doctor told me to “just give her a bottle” when I had a hard time nursing her as a newborn. That is not a supportive attitude for a medical professional to have toward breastfeeding.)

I would be happy to discuss this further if necessary.

Amy Prettybaby
So, you can see why I'm a little nervous about sending BJ to the Urgent Care. I didn't talk to Tammy at my OB's office for the rest of my pregnancy. I complained to my OB about her, and he said, "Yeah, we don't like to let her answer the phone, and we avoid it whenever we can, but otherwise she's a good nurse..." So, from then on, if I got her I would ask for Linda (who is super). If Linda wasn't there, I would just wait an hour and call back.

I have a really hard time with incompetent people. This is the reason why I can't/won't/don't work with the public.

If you're local and you want the full names of the folks involved, just e-mail me. I'll be happy to tell you who to steer clear of. I just looked, and Dr. MF is still practicing with the same group. I wonder if he ever was disciplined.

Maybe BJ should ask when he's there.. Nah.....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Nose

Why don't they just change the name to "You-Used-to-Have-a-Well-Baby Visit"?

BJ's come down with the creeping yuck, now, too. I swear to God, I am not going to sit in a hot steamy bathroom and bounce him on my lap. For. Get. It.

Not that we've had to do that with the kids - the steroids the doctor gave MG have been working just fine at preventing middle of the night fever and stridor freak outs. (Stridor is what doctors call that wheezy barking seal cough that you get with croup).

I made my medicinal chicken noodle soup tonight to try to nurse my mucussy brood back to health. I felt that I should probably share the recipe, since it contains actual magic.

Amy's Magic Chicken Soup
(if I were Pioneer Woman I would have awesome pictures of all of the ingredients sitting obediently on my counter, as well as each step of the process, but I am so not Pioneer Woman... so you'll just have to play along at home)

1 of those big cans of chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bag frozen mixed veggies (I like the kind "for soup" that has onion, celery, carrots, and other stuff, but the regular corn/beans/carrots combo is just fine)
1/2 a bag of "No Yolk" egg noodles
Chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (I used boneless skinless thighs tonight, because PW told me to, but you can use breasts, or the leftovers from a roasted chicken, or even canned chicken if that's all you have on hand. There's enough going on in this soup that it doesn't really matter. Are you ready for the magic?)
2 cloves worth of garlic, chopped (I use the jarred kind, because I am lazy)
a generous shake of ground red pepper

Cook the chicken, if it isn't already cooked, in a bit of oil in your soup pot. Once it's almost entirely cooked, dump in the big can of broth and the water. Once it's boiling, dump in everything else. Return it to a boil for 10 minutes (or however long your noodles take to cook). Serve really hot with lots of black pepper and crusty bread.

Now, if you want to pretty this up (and I have) you can use fresh celery, carrot, and onion, and you can cut them up and cook them in a bit of oil after you cook the chicken. You can also use real garlic. You can even use real honest to God broth from an actual chicken that you raised in your own yard with your own bare hands, massaging it daily and feeding it only the crusts of the freshest French bread in the United States. I find, though, that when I have a house full of sick people, cooking like Julia Child is about the last thing on my mind. If you feel like you must have thickened soup, well, you're weird. This soup is just fine without thickening, but I guess you could use some corn starch or carageenan or whatever the Campbells use.

The thing about this soup is that you will not eat it all before you are better. It is physically impossible. If you live on this soup, tea, and OJ, by the time you run out of soup you will be better. Either that, or your body will just convince you that you're better enough to order a pizza.

And it's so much better than Campbell's. I can't even eat canned chicken soup anymore. I can still tolerate vegetable soup from a can, but that's rapidly changing, too, now that I'm dumping leftover veggies in a container in the freezer and using them for soup when it fills up - just like Mom used to make.

There has to be a business model in this somewhere. Would you hire someone to come over and make homemade chicken noodle soup and get you fresh boxes of Kleenex, popsicles, and generally dote on you when you and your whole family is sick? What could I call it? "Jewish Penicillin on Wheels"? Seriously, I'm thinking that I could do this for families for $100 a pop, which would include soup, videos, Kleenex, juice, and a couple of hours of TLC. I could watch the kids so Mom could take a long, hot shower without worrying that someone is going to implode. Of course, I would be sick, myself, all the time.

I'll tell you what, I would hire someone to do this, if I could, because the truth is that I've been sick, too, but I'm Mom, and Mom doesn't have the luxury of being sick. Mom has to hold everything together, start the videos, wipe the noses and butts, and make the soup. Mom has to go to the store. Mom has to power through it, because the babies aren't allowed to use the knives or the stove. And Dad is sicker than the babies, so he gets a pass.

Being Mom sucks, sometimes. Next life, I'm coming back as a house cat.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Claire's Turn

How is it that kids know when the pediatrician's office closes, and they save their 102 degree fevers for an hour and a half later?


I guess it's a good thing I didn't try to do anything with them today. We are SO bored.

It's Wednesday, and all the news is depressing

It seems that the great state of Indiana is continuing her trend of only being in the news for profoundly sad or embarrassing stories... Like this one out of Frankfort - a Guatemalan woman has, apparently, abandoned her 2.5 year old at Walmart. He was found with cups, diapers, and toys in his backpack, along with a note (written in Spanish) that basically said, "We're starving and I can't take care of him anymore..."

Holy crap. He's Mary Grace's age.

I can't even fathom how bad it must have been for this poor mother, to feel that her only option in life to protect her son was to leave him at Walmart. Frankfort has a large Hispanic community for a town of its size (there used to be a Del Monte factory there, and a lot of Hispanics used to harvest the tomatoes, and when the factory closed, a lot of them stayed... I did my student teaching there, in a school where 78% of the kids spoke Spanish at home, and like 93% of the students (overall) were on the free/reduced lunch program). Knowing what I know about the Hispanic community, in general, it seems incredible to me that this woman was completely alone, with no one to help her navigate the network of social services... She must have been passing through from somewhere else, because so far they haven't been able to locate anyone who knows little Martin or his mom. That's very unusual in such a small town. Apparently they came to the US a year ago, and the boy's father abandoned the boy's mother and Martin about 10 months ago.

God love her. I hope she's able to find information about her son, to know that he's ok, and maybe to learn that there are more people who want to help her than who want to punish her for what she did. Maybe she'll come back, be reunited with her child, and get the help she needs.

And, in wince-worthy news, apparently a puppy in Fort Wayne bit a one month old boy's testicles and removed them from his scrotum (I'll wait, guys, take a minute). The puppy was unavailable for comment because the owners had his vicious ass destroyed, and good riddance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5 Things Meme

Charlotte tagged me for a Meme... Since I never did manage to get in touch with her before she moved, I figured I'd better do it.

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. Moving from The City in the Middle to the place I live now
2. Going back to college
3. Falling in love with BJ
4. Temping
5. Working two jobs (at night I was a waitress)

5 things on my to do list:
1. Laundry (but it's always on my list)
2. Put together the kids' new swingset
3. Do the dinner dishes
4. Organize the kitchen cabinets
5. Clean and defrost the fridge and the deep freeze

5 favorite snacks/food:
1. Chocolate
2. Coffee
3. Creme brulee
4. Freshly baked bread with butter or oil
5. Pasta

5 things I would do if I was a billionaire:
1. Have a bunch of kids
2. Build a big house to keep all the kids in
3. Set aside a couple million for each kid
4. Travel
5. Fund research to find a cure for Huntington's Disease

5 bad habits:
1. Procrastinating
2. Not always being a good listener
3. Cussing
4. Yelling at the kids (rare, but I always hate it when I do, and feel guilty)
5. Exaggerating

5 Places I've lived:
1. Half an hour west of Grammaland
2. Grammaland
3. The city with the Other University
4. The Big city in the Middle
5. Here :)
(all of the above are in Indiana)

5 People I'm Tagging (the usual suspects)
1. Brandon
2. Rob
3. Erin
4. Michelle
5. Jenny

Croup Hug

We headed up to Grammaland yesterday to work on Aunt Mimi's shower planning and eat tapas on Mom's deck. Mom and I stayed up late watching The Bucket List, and I didn't get to sleep until 1:30 am (my time. Grammaland is an hour behind...)

I woke up at 3:30 am (my time) to Mary Grace coughing in a really painful, barky fashion. She had a very high fever (I don't know how high, because I didn't have a thermometer with me). I had to turn on the light to find the tylenol, and that woke Claire up. And all the crying woke Gramma up. After I got MG a drink of water and gave her the tylenol and laid there with her for a bit, singing and trying to keep her calm, I realized that it was going to be easier to drive home (90 minutes) on the adrenaline rush that I had from freaking out over her fever, and with both the kids asleep, than it would be to wait until morning and head back at a decent hour. Coming back in the wee hours also meant that I'd be able to get her in to see the doctor earlier. So, I packed up our gear and we evacuated.

I had to stop for gas, and to get a coffee and walk around a bit to wake up, but we made it back here at 6 am. I got both the kids in without waking them up (miracle). I also managed to get both the kids to bed, and get myself to bed, without waking BJ up. He was a little confused when he woke up and we were there.

When we got up at 9, MG's temperature was 103.2 in her armpit! Usually you add a degree, so that means it was 104.2, which is way past my comfort zone. I am paranoid about fevers - not sure why, really - and anything over 101 and I'm a bit freaked out. I gave her ibuprofen and it came back down to a much more calm 101.

Of course, by the time we got her to the doctor at 11:30, she was at 98.3. Why does that ALWAYS happen? Seriously... But the doctor said it sounded like croup, gave us steroids, and sent us on our way with the scariest patient information sheet I have ever received.

Here are the highlights:

"Most children settle down with the above treatments (putting them in a steamy bathroom or using a warm mist inhaler) and then sleep peacefully through the night. If your child continues to have stridor (wheezing), call your child's health care provider IMMEDIATELY (emphasis theirs). If your child turns blue, passes out, or stops breathing, call the rescue squad (911)."


On the second page, it says, "While your child is croupy, sleep in the same room with her. Croup can be a dangerous disease."

Ok, you know if they're advocating co-sleeping, it must be bad, because the Medical Establishment is very, very anti-co-sleeping.

And of course Mimi's dogs ate Claire's sippy cup, so the two kids shared a cup all day yesterday. As I was leaving I told the nurse, "See you in two days with my other kid."

Looking back, I think leaving in the night was a really good decision, because the exposure to the cold night air seemed to really help her cough (which is consistent with croup). At least we're having a cool snap of weather, so I'll be able to take her outside if it happens again tonight. It's odd that both cold dry air and warm humid air help. But this is Indiana, and we have more than our fair share of both...

See you in a week, because we're quarantined until then.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Payless Friend Jennifer asks Loaded Questions

Jennifer left a comment asking my thoughts on vaccines. We met at the grocery store when we both had our kids in slings, 2 years ago, and we recently ran into each other at the park so I gave her my blog address, and here we are.

First of all, Jennifer, I hope you guys are feeling better. Stomach bugs suck. I've used acidophilus before, especially after taking a round of antibiotics, and it's good stuff. You can get milk that's fortified with it, and that's sometimes easier to get down kiddos than a pill. Especially when you're sick, too, and you don't feel up to making smoothies. Milk can make stomach bugs worse, though, so I would save it until after the puking phase.

As for vaccines, well, I have a lot of opinions (I have a lot of opinions about everything). I went to school to be a special ed teacher, and I really believe that we're seeing an increase in autism diagnoses because we're getting better at identifying autism spectrum disorders - particularly relatively mild ones like Asperger's Syndrome. Special ed has only been law since the 1970s, and in the beginning it was just for kids with obvious disabilities. Now we've refined our teaching techniques and our diagnostic techniques, and we can identify and treat kids who would've just seemed "different" or at the low-achievement end of the class 20 or 30 years ago.

If the mercury in the MMR truly caused problems in some kids, it's a moot point now because they removed it from most vaccines several years ago. If you're concerned, it's a simple thing to ask your doctor to use the thimerosal free versions of the flu vaccine (the only one that I'm aware of that still contains thimerosal). I don't personally believe in getting flu shots - mainly because they vaccinate for last year's flu, which you're probably not going to get this year - but many people who are more educated than myself disagree. My kids have had flu shots, in the past, but it's not something I plan to do again.

The most recent research I've seen suggests that the vaccines combined with a genetic predisposition in some children can cause autism. The jury, though, is still completely out. The trouble with doing any online research is that a lot of the websites that are talking about this issue have their own agenda, and it's hard to find unbiased information. Stick with the big guys, like the CDC, the FDA, and the AAP. I think it's important to have a conversation with your doctor (and hopefully you trust your doctor!) about your concerns.

Of course, real vaccine opponents will say that the CDC, the FDA, and the AAP are part of the conspiracy, but there's really no reasoning with those folks, anyway. (Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean that they're not out to get me...)

The vaccines that really bother me are the ones they give at birth. Having a bunch of shots and eye gunk doesn't seem like a gentle way to welcome a tiny, helpless infant into the cold, cruel world. I opted out of the Vitamin K shot when both my kids were born, as well as the eye drops and the hepatitis B shot. I told the doctor, "She's not allowed to have unprotected sex or use IV drugs until she's at least 6 months old, so we can hold off on Hep B."

I also was absolutely certain that I didn't have any STDs, which is why they use the eye gunk (which can sting or cause other temporary discomfort - being unable to see clearly, etc.). I understand that other women may be "absolutely certain" and may have, unknowingly, caught something from a straying partner, so I understand why these are "mandatory" but the people who made the laws didn't know me or BJ, and didn't know our marriage or our situation. Our doctor agreed that we're "low risk" (BJ is more likely to cut off his own feet than sleep around), so he didn't give me any grief about that decision.

The vitamin K shot is to promote clotting. Knowing our medical history, and the fact that neither of our families has ever had a baby who had a brain bleed due to this rare clotting disorder, I didn't feel that it was necessary. Again, I understand why they would make it mandatory (because not everyone knows her medical history, etc.) but I felt that, in our case, it was unnecessary. There is an excellent discussion of the Vitamin K shot here. Since I wasn't on any medications when I was pregnant, and since I planned to breastfeed, I didn't feel that the benefits of the Vitamin K shot outweighed the risks for our family.

The thing about the vaccines that still bugs me is that it seems like a lot to hit a tiny, developing immune system with at once. At some appointments the kids have been vaccinated for 10 different illnesses (usually they get 3 or 4 shots, and those shots are combined vaccines, like the MMR or the DTaP that vaccinate for more than one illness). I have given serious thought to spacing the vaccines out over a longer period of time.

However, the problem with doing that it results in more shots and more doctor appointments. If you don't do combination vaccines, you're going to have 3 sticks for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella instead of just one - and you have to have them a couple times to get full coverage. If you add it all up, that's a lot of needle sticks. No one enjoys shots. The fewer the better, IMHO.

The other problem with deviating from the recommended immunization schedule is that you have to be very, very proactive about making sure that your child eventually gets all of the vaccines that she should. Doctors are super busy, and it would be so easy to give a shot too many, or too few, times if you deviate from the schedule that they typically use. Our doctor's group recently switched to paperless charting, and we've watched them struggle as they learned the new, less intuitive, computer system. It would be so easy to give a child the wrong shots if you go "off list," and that concerns me. I'm not saying it's impossible to keep track of what they need, when, and modify the schedule to suit your own preferences... But if you're going to do that, you need to be extremely educated on what they need, when, and on what they've had already. Many of the vaccines need to be given more than once. You have to make sure that you're giving them at the right intervals. Otherwise you could end up with a kid who isn't truly immune, or who accidentally got the shots too close together or too far apart, or who got too many doses of one vaccine or another.

Also, the recommended schedule has been used thousands of times. There is a lot of data to show that, for most kids, it works. If you use a DIY (do it yourself) schedule, your kid is the only data point to show whether or not it's effective. Seems to me that there's risk, there. For example, the pneumococcal vaccine (pneumonia) is given 5 times before 6 years of age. They get it at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months, and then some kids get it between 2 and 6 years (if they're high risk). If you don't get all 4 of those shots, you're not covered. Let's say you decide that a 6 month old or younger is too little for shots, so you get them at your 9, 12, 15, and 18 month well baby visits instead. That may be fine, and it may work just as well, but where's the data showing that it works? How many other parents have used that schedule? Did their kids get pneumonia at higher rates, or lower rates, than the kids who got it on the recommended schedule? There may not be data that's available or reliable. On the other hand, just about every kid you know has gotten his or her shots on the recommended schedule - that's a lot of data. Do you see my point? I, personally, don't feel that it's worth the risk. Close friends of mine disagree, and I know that they're getting their child shots on a modified schedule that they came up with on their own. It's hard to find a doctor, in some areas, who will go along with this, too. That's another practical concern.

If we only had one kid, it would be a lot more do-able, I think, to modify the schedule. But with two small children who are both still getting shots, I can't keep track of it all. I know that you have a lot of kids, Jennifer, and that you live in a small town. Because it's a lot to keep track of (who has had what) and because it might be harder to find a cooperative doctor where you are, I would recommend that you go with the recommended vaccine schedule.

I think it's the responsibility of every parent to do their homework and to know what their kids are being exposed to when they get their shots. I also think that most parents are unprepared to correctly find, read, and interpret the data that's available. And I know that a lot of the most recent data is unavailable to the average parent. For these reasons, I think that the best thing any parent can do is to find a doctor that you trust, and to continue to see the same doctor throughout your kids' childhood to the greatest extent possible. Having a doctor that you have a relationship with is proven to increase the quality of your medical care. I truly believe that having a longterm relationship with a good doctor is one of the best things you can do for your kids' health.

We see a family doctor (Joel Mulder, for those who are local) and we LOVE him. We've been seeing him ever since fall of '04. He treats all four of us, and he knows us in a way that a doctor at a "doc in a box" type clinic never could. He is the only doctor who has ever treated our kids. He's known them both since before they were born. We don't always agree on every little thing, but I can put my trust and faith in him, knowing that he's a good man, that he's a great doctor, and that he has a longitudinal view of our family's health. He knows me, too, and he listens to me (which is HUGE - I've been to a lot of doctors who didn't listen). He knows that if I call and say, "Hey, BJ's having trouble sleeping and we need something, but he doesn't have time to come in this week..." that we're not going to get drugs and sell them on ebay - that we're trustworthy enough for him to recommend or prescribe something over the phone. It's also handy when we all have the same bug - we can make back to back appointments and have everyone seen and treated in one outing, rather than having to drag the kids all over town to my doctor, BJ's doctor, and their doctor.

OMG, I have to get this day on the road. We've got MG's first gymnastics class at noon, and I am not even dressed... YIKES! I hope I answered your questions.
Feel free to comment and we'll continue this conversation later...

And Jennifer - it was GREAT to hear from you! Made my day!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I want to tell you a story about BJ to let you know, if you don't already know him, what kind of father he is.

Last year, when I was really pregnant with Claire, and Mary Grace had rotavirus, the doctor prescribed some anti-nausea medicine for her over the phone. We were in the middle of a blizzard. BJ couldn't dig the car out, so he walked over a mile in a blizzard to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, and then walked home.

Did I mention that he had the virus, too? He walked, sick, through a blizzard, to get Mary Grace's medicine. And when she's a teenager and she screams, "You're ruining my life! I hate you!!" at us, I plan to tattoo that story on her forehead.

I could not have picked a better father for my girls. I love you so much, honey. Happy Father's Day!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Did I tell you that Aunt Mimi broke her arm? Yeah, she was at a wedding and got violently pushed off of the treacherous dance floor and I have been assured that this incident had exactly nothing to do with any alcohol consumption on Mimi's part. Riiiiiggghhtt...

Anyway, last time MG saw Mimi, Mimi's arm was encased in a bright blue cast. So when BJ went on a golf outing and came home with a bright blue drink koozie (or however you spell that), Mary Grace decided that she broke her arm (when she "was a kid" - a phrase she picked up from Grandpa Bob).

BJ asked me this morning if I'd shown her how to do that. Nope. She figured it out all on her own.

Claire's cast is red.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh my cow! A Question!!

Amy C. writes: I have a 15 month old son and a 1 week old daughter. Any tips on how to help my son adjust to having a little sister? He throws tantrums over everything all day long. And by the end of the day i'm exhausted just from following him around to stop him from doing what he shouldn't be doing. Luckily my newborn is easy and sleeps a lot but on the rare occasion that i need to hold her longer than 10 minutes, my son freaks.

Your boy has gone through quite a change in the last week, and it's so frustrating for him because he doesn't really have the skills to communicate his feelings. That's why he's having tantrums. It's handy that Claire is exactly 15 months old, so I know exactly where he's at, developmentally.
The good news for you is that his receptive language is a lot farther a long than his expressive language. In other words, he understands you a lot more than you understand him. Sometimes, helping him avoid the tantrum can be as simple as saying, "Are you mad? Do you want me to hold you? Just one minute, ok?" can help him hold it together long enough for you to take care of the baby and get to him. Don't worry about letting the baby sit in a wet diaper while you finish reading to your son or letting her cry a minute while you get him a drink... She will not remember, and a few seconds won't kill her. In fact, I found it very useful with MG (who was 19 months when Claire was born) to say, "Just a minute, Claire! I'm with your big sis right now!" whenever Claire cried and I was doing something with MG, so that MG wasn't the only one hearing, "Just a minute" all the time. Did Claire understand? Of course not. But MG did, and that's what mattered at the time.

One thing that worked very well for us, and still does, was to have a special song. If I was nursing Claire and MG wanted in my lap, I would say, "I can't hold you just now, but how about if you sit with me and we sing your song?" It's been especially useful at bedtime. Claire has her own song, too, and I don't sing Claire's song to MG or MG's song to Claire. But sometimes Mary Grace sings Claire's song to Claire, which melts my heart into an ooey gooey mess.

A lot of the books say that you should get the baby a doll to play with while you're feeding your baby, so you can say, "you take care of your baby while I take care of mine." That didn't work so well for MG (although she remains very attached to her doll, Moses). What worked with her was a stuffed cat (Biscuit, who was "Bikkits" for a long time). Any security object like that can help, and if it's roughly shaped like a mammal (face, limbs, etc.) he can pretend it's his "baby" and do what you're doing with the baby along with you. Give him a wipe and let him "wash the puppy" while you wash the baby. Talk to him about what you're doing. Ask for his help. He is probably capable of getting a toy for the baby, or getting the remote for you. The Wise and Powerful Dr. Dave says if you're only going to teach your kid one thing, you should teach him how to be a helper. Go ahead and start now, because if he feels involved, he's less apt to feel left out.

It's also not to early to talk about what a wonderful big brother he is, and how much the baby loves him. He won't understand every word, but you're home all day with two kids, what else are you going to talk about? Send someone to the library to get you a bunch of books about being a big brother, and read them to him. Maybe the baby could get him a little present every so often? I'm not saying you should bribe him, but she did miss his birthday, after all, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to promote a good sibling relationship with a little present.

I find suckers work well for bribes. My kids may not have teeth by the time they're 11, but at least I'll still be able to hear. It's hard to be in a bad mood with mouth full of sugar.

I can't recommend highly enough the adjustable pouch that Kangaroo Korner makes. Get a mesh one, because fleece is way too hot for summer. When Claire was little, I'd put her in the sling and she'd conk out and I would have time and energy for MG. We went everywhere in that sling. We could go to the park and I could help MG on the slide and the swings while Claire was perfectly happy and content, snuggled up next to me (which is where babies want to be, anyway). I walked all over Washington DC with her in the sling. It really saved my sanity. It's expensive, yes, but well worth the investment. When are those folks going to start paying me a commission, because I have shouted their praises from on high for over a year, now...

We also did a lot of singing and dancing in those early days. I would put on Rhinoceros Tap or Dog Train (these days we're into Choo Choo Soul and They Might Be Giants ABCs). MG would happily sing and dance with me. Claire would love the movement and the music from inside the sling. Good times. Of course, you're still recovering from the birth, so go easy. No break dancing for at least 5 more weeks.

Finally, for your own sanity, create a space in your home where you can leave your boy on his own for 5 minutes, and know that he won't kill himself on anything. It could be his room, or a toy room, or the living room - wherever - so long as it is 100% childproof. Otherwise you're not going to be able to take your eyes off of him unless he's asleep, and being that vigilant toward your toddler with a newborn in the house is just exhausting. Get a gate, cover all the outlets, make sure he can't get to any lamps or pull over any shelves or dressers or jump off of anything tall, and lock his little butt up once in a while so you can have a break. If you do it as part of your routine ("Ok, it's time to play in your special room! Oh boy!!") instead of as a punishment ("Mommy has HAD IT! Go to baby jail for 10 minutes! Do not pass go, do not collect $200...") he's more likely to accept it and less likely to scream. If he'll tolerate a playyard (I don't know who these kids are that will happily play in a playyard, because neither of mine were ever the least bit excited about them, but everyone has a pack and play so maybe it's just us...), that could work, but you need to be able to go pee and do laundry and make meals without worrying that he's going to do a swan dive off of the china cabinet into the aquarium, you know? So, if you haven't already, make sure that there is a place where you can let him be on his own, and put him there a few times a day with his best, most fun toys.

This is the hardest part. I promise you that in about two weeks, he won't even remember what life was like before he had a baby sister in the house. She'll just be part of the furniture until she starts to crawl, and then walk, and then look out because they're going to start fighting over toys.

Keep me posted, and we'll cross that bridge when it comes. And check the comments, because I have the smartest, most talented readers in the entire blogosphere, and I know they've got all kinds of excellent advice that I forgot... Right readers?

Off the Charts

At Claire's 15 month well-baby visit today, we learned that she has dropped off of the growth chart for weight. She is below the 5th percentile. And not just a little. A lot. She has grown, a bit, since her last appointment, but not as much as they want her to. Her length and head circumference are fine, but she's skinny.

The thing is, she doesn't look skinny. She has chubby little legs and a normal little baby pot belly (I think that we evolved baby pot bellies to off-set our giant baby heads when we learn to walk... Otherwise kids would just fall over). It's not like she looks sickly. Her bones aren't visible. I just don't see that we have a problem here. I mean, if I could choose my own weight percentile, I think it would be NICE to be in the 1st percentile for weight. Right?

But apparently brains are made of fat, and while she's hitting all of her developmental milestones (speaking, walking, banging things together, picking up small objects - especially those that I do not want her to pick up, etc.) we need to give her Pediasure.

I went to Kroger to pick some up on the way home from picking the kids up at Dawn's, and OH MY GOD it costs $12 for a tiny little six pack. What the heck is in this stuff? Jeez. So, if anyone knows of a good Pediasure dealer who can get me a deal, let me know.

In other news, I have a real live question from a real live reader that I'm working on, so stay tuned!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"I'm doing my acrobats!"

I heard a rumor from my neighbor that a gymnastics club was operating out of one of the school buildings in town, so today we went to investigate.

Mary Grace (who has been "doing her acrobats" on the couches and chairs for several months now) is now enrolled in a once-a-week gymnastics class for beginning preschoolers.

So, this fall when Allison comes back and she starts preschool, Miss Mary Grace's schedule will be:

Monday: Gymnastics
Tuesday: Allison
Wednesday: Preschool
Thursday: Allison
Friday: Preschool


It's a lot to go from nothing, nothing, nothing to a real schedule, so I'm glad that we're starting gymnastics next week, and that we're going to continue to go to Dawn's until Allison gets back (or until Justine comes, whichever comes first). But that schedule sure looks like a big kid schedule to me. Jeez, if I find a Suzuki teacher, she could have lessons in there, too.

She's getting so big!

So big, in fact, that today while BJ was putting Claire down for nap, she went upstairs, got into her bed, and laid down all by herself. She didn't say a word to me or to BJ. She put herself to sleep.

That has never happened, folks.

She really is getting so big. I'm going to go celebrate by taking a nap.

What a FABULOUS window treatment!

In "you win some, you lose some" news, both the kids slept all night in their own beds last night. Unfortunately, they both decided that it was time to get up at 6:30 am. I can hardly blame them, since their bedroom faces east, and the sun was streaming in through their window. I really need to get a fabulous window treatment, but the window is a non-standard size (84 inches wide x 60 inches high or so) which makes it virtually impossible to find any off-the-shelf blinds for it.

It's never really mattered, because by the time dawn came along, they've always migrated to our room on the west side of the house. If they're going to start sleeping through the night, though, I might have to figure something out to keep the light out in the morning.

BJ has been working just a ton this week. He has a client in from out of town (who leaves today) and they've been pulling long hours at the lab. He didn't get home until after midnight last night. I know it's hard on him, but since this is my blog, I am going to take the opportunity to complain about how hard it is to parent two mildly sick kids (Claire woke up with the fever this morning, but seems to be doing ok now) alone when one is also coming down sick, oneself. *insert whine here*

Gosh, I thought that would make me feel better, but it didn't.

I was talking to Grandma Susan yesterday and she said that we really seemed to be getting sick often this year. I told her, "No, I just complain more than the average mom." It's just normal small child stuff. Stomach bugs and respiratory bugs and whatnot... I usually get something this time of year, thanks to the cottonwood trees. They should be outlawed, those cottonwood trees. Where is the Onceler when you need him? Surely he could think of something to do with them. Maybe a thneed.

I need a nap.