Monday, November 30, 2009

Parenting has its rewards. Mostly, laughing at the kids.

Ben is sick again. Very, in fact. Unfortunately, there is no medication known to man for his disease. Not only that, but it's fairly contagious, especially to children. What is his tragic diagnosis, you ask? The bane of all parents - the whineovirus. (Credit to his dad for coming up with that one!)

Leah also has a medical condition. Today the whole family was camped out on the couch watching the Vikings (finally! A season that is so far rewarding fans for their dedication!). Both the boys were on me, and Leah was desperately trying to cuddle with Aaron on the other side. I say "trying" because as much as she really, really WANTS to cuddle, apparently the ants in her pants make it impossible for her to sit still for more than two seconds. We know, because we've timed her. At about one and a half seconds, she has to shift her body, or scratch an itch, or something.

This time, she kept throwing her arms into the air, the very same air occupying Aaron's line of vision. After about the third time, Aaron finally said that Leah had attention deficit disorder. I started laughing right away, but she is pretty much the OPPOSITE of ADD usually - the kid can listen to books on CD for THREE HOURS.

Leah immediately responded, "I DON'T get enough attention!" And Aaron and I proceeded to double over laughing. In fact, I can't think about it without giggling.

By the way, whoever taught Leah that older kids miss out on attention once a baby shows up...thanks. Thanks a lot!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Look pretty and do some good.

You know what I hate? I hate it when friends move away. One friend left earlier this year, another is leaving next summer, and now my friend Lindsay is heading to Africa. It's not a total surprise, since she and her husband have been talking the whole time I've known them about their desire to care for orphans. But it's a little bit more upsetting when they start talking fundraising and departure times. That means they may actually DO it. Yikes.

Lindsay was interviewed by a local magazine, On the Minds of Moms, about her dream. She was even featured on the cover! By the way, you may notice that her younger son Colin is close to being my Ben's twin. We have both mistaken the other boy for our own son.

I finally decided to support them in this endeavor. Kind of. I mean, it's still helping African children, but not the same ones that Lindsay and TJ will be working with. I'm having an open house this coming Saturday, December 5th from 9-11am (kids welcome!). Lindsay and a friend will be selling paper-bead necklaces handmade by Ugandan women and also homemade aprons. The necklaces are $10, every one unique, and the proceeds will go to build a kitchen for the community of Bukedea, which is made up of 250 "double" orphans. Double as in they are orphans caring for other orphans. Lindsay is wearing one of the necklaces in photos in On the Minds of Moms.

These necklaces and aprons would make wonderful holiday gifts! If you'd like to join us for some goodies and shopping Saturday morning, please send me an email or leave a comment, and I'll email you back with my address. If you are out of town or can't make it that day, contact Lindsay via her blog, and I'm sure she'd love to help you out.

Hm, there may be a giveaway involved here soon...

Turkey Leftovers

Thanksgiving was pretty low-key around these parts. Last year we had about 20 or so of Aaron's family here, but this time, it was just my dad and Grandma Gigi. Mom had to work until 7pm, and thankfully, even though Aaron had to work the whole weekend, he was home by 10am on Thursday.

A quieter holiday does have it's benefits - I felt fairly relaxed the whole weekend, and have had time the last couple of days to get the Christmas decor out. However, I am NOT someone who enjoys cooking just for the heck of it. If I'm actually going to make 3-4 dishes for a meal, I'd prefer there to be more entertaining involved than just 2 other people. As much as I may love those people.

I got off easy, though. Mom made her wonderful dressing and an amazing apple cobbler, and brought it down before heading to work. So basically everything else was just one thing - squash, potatoes, turkey, green beans (no casserole - can't bring myself to eat the stuff). And some gravy that only showed up by contractual obligation. Everything was done at the same time, and at 12:30pm on the dot we were eating. And using my beautiful newly purchased antique dishes! I KNEW I needed them!

The day before Thanksgiving, friend Tara and her boys helped my gang clean out our pumpkins. They'd been decorating our buffet, but I knew they would be outdated by the Day After Thanksgiving. After gutting them, the seeds were cleaned and soaked in salt water for a day and a half and then roasted to perfection, if I do say so myself. And both the kids like them, which really stinks. That means that I won't get to eat them all myself.

After dinner on Thursday, the kids took turns opening their Thanksgiving presents. Both got a few new books, Leah got a couple puzzles (100 pieces!) and Ben is loving his new animals and dinos.

I realized that my kids are totally going to be messed up - carving pumpkins AND getting presents at Thanksgiving. Their spouses are going to be SOOO confused.

Thanks to Aaron working the holiday, my self-control was assisted by not being able to get to the stores for Black Friday. I DID check out Old Navy online, but waited. Thankfully. Because hours after contemplating getting Adam some pants that don't make his legs look like sausages, I was in the storage space downstairs pulling out Christmas bins. Then I turned around, and saw an ENTIRE BIN OF BABY CLOTHES. And guess what? They were exactly the size that Adam needs! Now he has a bigger wardrobe than I do, and I'm afraid he won't be able to wear them all before he outgrows them. But at least his circulation isn't being cut off.

In addition to Mom's cobbler, I also made a pumpkin flan. The recipe came from Martha Stewart's magazine, but is from a cookbook called Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, and it has the unique distinction of being the first dish I've made that actually ended up looking like the photo. It was a lot like pumpkin pie without the crust -and easier to make, since you don't have to make the crust! I think it would make a wonderful breakfast. Or bedtime snack. Or whatever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ben Sez

When I first started blogging, Leah was the only kid talking, and boy! Did she say some funny things. (The other day I was getting sad, thinking that the age of funny quotes had passed. And then she said something else hilarious.:) At the time, Ben was just a baby, and we were sure that he would start talking at about a year and progress verbally much as his sister had.

We were wrong.

Benjamin didn't start talking until he was about 2 years old. And even then, the language was halting and fairly incoherent. But now, things are a bit different. The child is a genuine chatterbox. In fact, he even makes Leah look quiet on occasion.

Tonight at the table, he took a break from scarfing dinner to exclaim, "My head huwts!" Did I mention that he may talk alot, but that it's not all clear? That just adds another element of entertainment.

He kept saying, "It huwts!" And then he started pounding it with his fist. We asked why? WHY? was he hitting his head? He said, "Twying to make it go away!" And then, "It's pwobably from my big bwain!" Yep, probably, buddy.


And then, later on I was trying to convince him that he needed to put chapstick on his upper lip. He has decided, for some reason, that he does NOT like chapstick. At my suggestion, he shook his head, no way.
"Ben, if you don't put chapstick on your lip, it's just going to be a big owie. Do you want that?"
Immediately, he nodded his head yes.
And then he rethought it. "Actwually, no."

Actually. God bless that child. A year ago, I never thought I'd hear him use adult words in context. And now that he is, but still with that adowable lisp, it just makes me so happy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Genetic Modification

When you become a mom, along with growing eyes in the back of your head and being able to smell poo from two rooms away, you should also become impervious to germs and bacteria. So that you NEVER GET SICK.

As every mom knows, you just don't get sick days in this gig. Dads are great and all, but if they get sick, they call in to work, take a vacation day, and hang out on the couch for a while. As they should. We need them back at work paying for the groceries and Target dollar aisle.

But I've been sick going on four days. And Aaron goes to work all day. So SOMEONE has to make the meals, change diapers, and generally keep the house going. Fortunately, although I have "the fever", other than a severely congested head, I've been feeling alright. Just mediocrely miserable.

It really should be impossible for the children's primary caregiver to feel under the weather in any way. No colds, no coughs, no headaches...can you IMAGINE that world with me? A world where the tissues are only for the kids, where no matter WHAT time you wake up, your head always feels like...nothing. NOTHING. Moms shouldn't have to go to any extra effort to breathe. Or eat, for goodness sake. If we find the time to sit down between requests for napkins and ketchup, just let us eat! With our mouths closed, not gasping for breath.

You know who else suffers when Mom suffers? Those poor sweet kids! Especially the littlest ones, who can't escape. Leah gets to go to school at least half the day, but Ben is stuck with me. He's relying on me to get him out to do "fun stuff". Every day he asks, "What are you, and me, and Adam goin' to do for fun?" Bless his heart, usually going to the grocery store (where he gets a sucker) is enough of an answer. As long as I can promise a playdate at some point in the week. So you can imagine how he feels about THIS week.

Adam is also suffering, and not only because he was cutting that tooth we didn't know he was getting. I am trying to prevent him from getting sick too, so he's been doing a lot of sitting in a bouncy seat. Or in the exersaucer. Or on the floor. You know, for variety.

A question: How come I can still smell the poopy diapers, but not the yummy products in Aaron's hair after his haircut? That is a classic lose-lose situation.

A recommendation: Enjoy a cough drop WHILE in a hot shower. You will experience some first-class breathing. Too bad it's only temporary.

Don't worry about me, though. I'm planning on getting well tomorrow. But since I'm stuck here, I want to scrapbook all day, with breaks to read New Moon.

Yeah, we'll see how that plan goes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Biological Warfare

On the plus side, Adam is much recovered from his bronchiolitis. Not completely, but the coughing is fairly infrequent, and he doesn't wheeze when he breathes now. In fact, we moved his bed back into our closet (which is a converted bedroom, folks - hang up with social services) several days ago, when we weren't so concerned about him catching a breath and the whining at night was driving us nuts again.

But still. He's back to nursing at least once during the night, and wakes up 3 or so more times and cries until his pacifier is put back in his mouth.

I know. I KNOW! He's got us right where he wants us.

But with the whole cough/wheeze thing going on, I didn't feel comfortable letting him "cry it out" - you try laying in bed listening to a baby cry until he starts gagging. It ain't easy.

This whole process means that I've been operating on two or so consecutive hours of sleep, which served to beat down my normally robust immune system. And now I'm sick. Like, fever for three days (and counting), headache, congestion, sore throat, oink-oink sick. I really wish I'd have gotten this the week that Leah and Ben were sick, so I wouldn't have to miss out on activities AGAIN. Thank goodness Aaron is willing to pitch in, even if it means rearranging his work calendar a bit. And thank goodness my mom (still) lives in town - she came and entertained the kids yesterday afternoon, until they drove her crazy and she fled with the shreds of her sanity that were still intact.

I told our pediatrician that if Adam doesn't get this flu it'll be a miracle, since he'll rarely let me put him down, much less walk out of his sight and Hello! have you seen those cheeks? I cannot stop myself from kissing them! She said, after giving me a prescription for tamiflu, "Why? You're nursing, so he's getting the antibodies from you - as your body fights it off, he gets some of that, too." Good to know. Vaccination the old-fashioned way.

Today at lunch, friend Tara was dropping of some new tea for me (what a sweetheart! Thanks!) and observed Adam trying to fit just one more! finger into his mouth. She asked if he was teething, and both Aaron and I quickly poo-poohed that idea - neither Ben or Leah had any teeth before 8 months. Leah only had two at a year! And they were both drool monsters for about 5 months beforehand.

After she left, Aaron said, "I don't know, maybe he IS teething?"

I said yeah maybe - his cheeks are red, but he doesn't have a temp...

So this afternoon, I decided that hey! Maybe I should check it out! I washed my hands well and dug in there. AND THERE WAS A TOOTH. On the bottom, when I've been watching the top.

Well I'll be a monkey's uncle. No wonder the little bugger's been fussy, clingy and generally onery. Now, let's see if this improves his night-time sleeping. I CANNOT allow the baby to win this battle! ONWARD!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Okay, but not okay.

Apparently I am completely oblivious when it comes to my baby's health.

Adam (5 mo. old) started coughing about a month ago, right before his 4 mo. appointment. The doc at the time said he had bronciolitis, but his oxygen levels were fine, so all we could do was keep on eye on him and wait for him to get better.

A month later, the cough seemed to get better and he slept through the night for four nights! It was awesome!
And then it was over.

The cough came back with a vengence, along with some phemy sounds coming from the general vicinity of his head. Only I didn't really notice that he had gotten sick again, until Aaron pointed that out. We headed off to church last night as usual, with a little more concern over Adam's status - he felt a little warm, seemed a little irritated.

Periodically during the last month, he would cough so hard that he would throw up his last meal, usually just after it had been ingested. Last night, however, he decided to break with routine, and pulled an Exorcist move on me in the middle of the Fellowship Hall, about an hour after last eating. I know it always seems like kids throw up more than they actually do (I mean, I have known seriously chubby babies who appear to puke up their whole meal every meal), but when I saw that stream of white liquid fly out of his mouth straight at me, it seemed like 2 cups. It was probably more like four ounces, but still plenty enough to cover my entire left shoulder and upper chest, part of his chest and leg, and some bonus! for the floor and chair next to me. Fortunately I blocked the puke from hitting the two guys behind me.

At that point, Aaron decided that OBVIOUSLY he had gotten worse and exactly how long had he been like this? Clearly we should be doing something. I took off my outer shirt (I had a tank underneath), found someone (thanks Val!) to cover my group of girls for the evening, got Leah and Ben off to their Awana classes, and then Aaron and I headed off for a date.

Except we kind of broke that date rule about not talking about your kids.

Dr. Miller at the children's walk-in clinic saw Adam, who by that time had perked up a bit and was grinning, and said he had....bronchiolitis. He had no fever, was nursing fine, and was still in a fairly good mood, so again, all there is for us to do is watch and make sure his breathing doesn't get more distressed.

And move him back next to our bed, and wake up every hour or two to listen to his coughing and make sure he doesn't puke all over himself, and hold him a lot to help our poor sick baby feel better.

Will someone please let me know if my kid gets sick again? I may or may not notice and act accordingly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Negotiations: Part II

Last week there was a big milestone for me. Thursday was the day I finally faced my fears and took Ben for his first dentist appointment. I've been putting it off because I was anticipating a fuss like the kind I've been faced with at gymnastics. And guess what? There was no fuss!

Well, almost no fuss, anyway.

We happen to go to an excellent dentist who knows the value of a good solid bribe. At their first teeth cleaning, kids not only get to pick out a cool toothbrush and Sponge-Bob toothpaste, but they also get 3 prizes: one from the vending machine, one from a treasure chest, and a Beanie Baby. Granted, they don't have the full 1,000 or so critters to choose from, but still.

Also helping the situation is the fact that Leah loves going to the dentist and gets really excited about it. I mentioned about a month ago that Ben would be going soon, and she didn't need any prompting to encourage him. She may have even called him "lucky"! Ben was again prepped for the upcoming appointment about a week before, and then a day or so before, but I didn't dwell on it - just said, "Ben, you get to go to the dentist!" No arguments allowed.

I billed it as a kind of a date with Mom, since Ben has a bit of an Oedipus complex happening right now - only Mommy can change his diaper, get him dressed, put his coat on, tuck him into bed, etc. (Some of these things just need to be taken over by Ben himself. Working on it.)

Ben first watched me get my teeth cleaned. Side note here: I finally got my wisdom teeth removed last summer, and my dental appointments have been sooo much easier since then. If you are putting it off, just go and get those buggers taken care of, already! The hygienist chatted with Mr. Ben the entire time, about dinosaurs and his favorite animals. It was fun to listen to his chatter, when a year and half ago he was getting by with grunts and whines.

When I was done, we convinced Ben to sit in the chair with me and let the hygienist count his teeth, and after a bit more convincing, the dentist was able to do the same thing and brief exam. But the cleaning was completely rejected. Miss Hygienist told Ben he could pick out the toothbrush and paste, but I suggested that the 3 prizes would have to wait until he actually had a cleaning.

I reminded him that he could have cookie-dough toothpaste (!!!), and then that fabulous hygienist showed him the polisher - while he was standing on the ground, not cornered on the chair. Then she touched it to his fingernail, and then just the front tooth...and then Ben said, "O-kay..." and the rest of the appointment proceeded without objection! He even had a fluoride treatment - banana-split flavored (!!!).

I was so proud of my little man. Really, I mostly anticipated a tantrum and very little attention to the actual teeth. This was a case of some well-placed bribes/rewards, and also maybe some modeling of how "easy" it is.

Now, if only these tactics were working for potty-training.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some people use their time in weird ways.

I have been on a buying rampage tonight, grabbing a bunch of books on Ebay for a fraction of their new prices. Most of these new purchases are destined to be Thanksgiving gifts for Leah and Ben - they include a fairy tale collection, a book about dinosaurs, and a couple of joke books - so I don't have to listen to their made-up jokes, which frankly are pretty lame, rarely make any sense, and sometimes include non-English words.

While researching different drawing books on Amazon, I found this review for the book How to Draw 101 Animals. I am equally curious about how many people thought this was a real review and chose NOT to purchase the book (the comments are entertaining, too!), and how bored the reviewer must have been to go to the effort. I'm hoping, at least, that they had washed all the clothes and dishes in their house first.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Negotiations: Part 1

My oldest son is enhancing my negotiation skills. Just this week he's given me two training sessions, and I think I'm learning. Because I'm winning (I think).

You may remember Ben and the great gymnastics stand-off. I was prepared for a reenactment since buddy Isaac was again home sick. Unfortunately, the stalling started before we even got out of the van. I stood my ground and said that we WERE going inside, and he WAS going to get dressed for class, and we were NOT going to sit in the balcony with the other parents. We sat in our usual spot under the balcony and watched the rest of the class play in the foam pit and warm-up.

We tried leaving him with the coach while I left, and he had a total breakdown.
I pointed out how much fun everyone was having.

How much fun he has had in the class before.

That I would not cuddle him or let him touch me while we were sitting there.

I showed him that there were other boys in the class. "But I no know their names!"

One boy, who the coach called Cooper, had his turn on the trampoline directly in front of us. That child must be a prodigy trampoliner or something, cause I have never seen tuck jumps so tucked, or piked, or was truly impressive. I kept admiring his jumping, "Ben, look at Cooper jump!"

He finally looked interested, and took up the coach's invitation and went to jump, too! While he was bouncing away, I asked Cooper if he would be Ben's friend. And that sweet, sweet boy shyly nodded, "Yes!"

From that point on, Ben and Cooper were buddies, and Ben participated in class willingly and with a smile on his face. And another good thing? As much as we love Isaac, Cooper has never missed class!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One of Those Weeks

Ever had one of those weeks? This is how it happened to me.

About a month ago, the only thing on the schedule for this week was Leah's Fun Fair for Saturday afternoon. So why not host a "Dinner for Nine" at our house Friday night? I wouldn't have to cook, and we'd meet some new people from church...Aaron said sure and like that! we were committed.

And then I may or may not have said "sure!" to one or two or ten more things. Oops.

Here's what the week ended up looking like:

Monday: Tastefully Simple show
Tuesday: bible study all morning, Aaron working that night
Wednesday: gymnastics for Ben (more cajoling required), classmate of Leah's over for the afternoon, then Awana at church
Thursday: dentist appointments for me and Ben (his first!), Leah's gymnastics, then dinner with an interviewee at Aaron's work (out! no cooking!)
Friday: playgroup at our house in the morning, Dinner for Nine (or seven)
Saturday: MOMS club garage sale/showcase, meet & greet with possible new pastor, then Fun Fair

What I really can't believe is that I didn't forget anything. Although we were running late for a few things, including the meet & greet - Yes, I was the loser mom who came in late, thinking it would be a casual visiting time, only to find out that everyone was seated and listening to Q& A. Also, I brought Leah, the only child present, while Aaron stayed in the van with the sleeping boys. Then I realized that everyone there was on the worship (music) team, and that Aaron should probably be there since he's a part of it, not me.

So I skeddaled out and sent him in. Then I had the distinct pleasure of dealing with Ben waking up and crying/whining for 10 minutes. With both boys now awake, I thought I could maybe sneak in at the end and at least shake hands with our potential new pastor. Ben had other ideas, and nearly had an emotional breakdown at the suggestion of leaving the van. Fortunately, Aaron and Leah were headed back at that point. Blurg.

Sunday is coming! Praise the Lord! Sunday is a day of rest.