Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There's Nothing Like A Good Fedora

When I ran across a children's store selling kid sized fedoras I let out a squee.  When they were on sale, I bought them for Liam and Jamie.  I just couldn't walk away.  I don't have any pictures of Jamie in his yet but Liam latched onto his in the space of two heartbeats.

I can't stand it.  He's too adorable for words.

Fedora + Spud = AWESOME.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two Boys And A Hose

Best toy on the planet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your Attention Please

Remember how I complained about what a pain in the ass it was getting Jamie started in speech therapy?  Well, I meant it.  It was a total pain in the ass.  But all of that aggravation was worth it.  We're 4 weeks into  therapy now and today Jamie hit a major milestone with his speech.

He said not one, not two, but THREE complete sentences.

"More milk!" (and he signed it while he said it!!!!! Yes, that deserves multiple exclamation points.)

"Hi Mama!"

"There it is!"

I'm stunned.

I'll be the first to admit that if you don't live with Jamie, none of these things were clear or intelligible, with the possible exception of "hi, Mama."  But because I live with him and I'm used to his patois of African click tongue, Central American Bush Speak, and Caveman Grunt these things were clear as day to me.

We're also slowly building a vocabulary with him - downstairs, outside, stomp (we were playing in puddles), up, down, uh-huh (as opposed to uh-oh), and probably several more that aren't coming to mind at the moment.  The thing that's so huge to me is that he's finally starting to string things together to make sentences.  It seemed so far outside of his reach when it came to language.  I thought it would take far longer for him to make that leap.

It also makes up for the fact that he spent the whole weekend shrieking and refused to use any language at all (but only a little bit because that sucked).

It feels weird to say that I'm proud of my kid for talking but it's true.  I'm proud of the little bugger.  Keep it up, kiddo.

Happiness Is

Yesterday Liam came home with a gem in his backpack.

"Happiness is visitin my Papa."

He's talking about my Dad.  Now, it's really "Puppa" but he doesn't know how to spell it so close enough, ya know?

Also - no clue who the people are supposed to be but my guess is Liam and Puppa.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In The Words of Inspector Gadget, "Wowsers"

Saturday evening, I tweeted the following:

Sunday evening brought this gem:

I don't even know how to describe what we've gone through with Jamie this past weekend.  He has displayed behavior the likes of which I have never witnessed in any child with which I've come into contact.  This is not my first rodeo when it comes to the Terrible Twos and this weekend was so awful that if I start to seriously contemplate how bad age three is going to be, I might get PTSD - Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Jamie spent the weekend screaming.  When he wasn't screaming, he was squealing.  When he wasn't squealing, he was sobbing.  When he wasn't sobbing he was whining.  When he wasn't doing any of those things he was asleep - which was hard won to begin with.

He refused to communicate with us at all.  If we didn't have ESP, we might as well bend over and grab our ankles.  Seeing as we don't have the ability to read minds, we were staring at our ankles a lot.  We couldn't figure out what he wanted to do, what he wanted to eat, where he wanted to go - nothing.  We tried taking the kids out a couple of times and we had to run for the hills both times because Jamie was having epic public meltdowns.

Poor Liam got the short end of the parental stick all weekend long.  Scot and I were so frazzled at trying to survive what was happening with Jamie that Liam just had to sort of fit himself into the cracks.  This is one of the many reasons I felt like a failure as a parent.  Not only couldn't I find a way to calm Jamie down and help him through whatever was upsetting him, I had to ignore Liam in the process.

I have theories about Jamie's issues: teething, a cold, new neurologic patterns as speech slowly emerges, and hunger (due to his mouth hurting from teething and not eating as a result).  When I finally figured out that last item, I made him some easy to eat Kraft Mac n Cheese and the kid stuffed at least a half a pot of the stuff down his gaping maw.  

I hope this weekend was just some kind of perfect storm because I don't know if I can do that again and again and again for weeks or months.  So far, today has been better.  He's been in a better mood and he's taking a l-o-n-g nap.  Here's hoping...

San Antonio Memories

I have more pictures from my trip that I wanted to share but I decided to contain them to a separate post rather than overwhelm the previous one.

Somewhere over the midwest.  The clouds looked like snow to me.

Dallas from the air.

Coonskin cap at the Alamo.

Fish in the canal at the Alamo.  They were as long as my arm.

Part of a giant oak tree at the Alamo.  It's grown around the pole propping it up.

Rest of the giant oak tree.

Cactus flower at the Alamo.

These next several pictures are all from the Riverwalk.  Despite it being a tourist destination, it was very pretty, shady, and restful to walk along.

 Poorly composed but I could totally see Carl and Ellie Fredrickson taking a rest here.

The river entrance of the Art Institute.  "Ars longa vita brevis."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Challenge Accepted

Oh what a difference a week makes.

Last week the planets aligned, the angels sang choruses, the Lords of Kobol looked down upon me with smiles, and I escaped rainy Pittsburgh for sunny Texas.  I proceeded to have a fabulous time.

The planets, the angels, and the Lords of Kobol (those farggin' sneaky bastiches) had a meeting while I was gone and decided that I was going to have to pay for their magnanimity.  "You want a vacation?  Fine.  But you're going have one hell of a week when you get back, sister.  Enjoy!"

This week has been something of a challenge.  Play dates went awry when we suddenly lost power for several hours due to a thunderstorm.  Parent-Teacher Conferences were hectic and fraught with last minute childcare plans.  Jamie spent most of the week feeling like something he normally fills his diapers with.  I had to pick him up early from daycare on Tuesday because he was running a fever.  This fever, though low grade, held on all week and prevented him from going to daycare on Thursday.

Last night, I saw every hour of the night save for the 2 o'clock hour.  Jamie couldn't and wouldn't sleep for beans (or any other enticement, including begging) because he was feeling liked a filled diaper.  Today has been somewhat of a challenge with the sleep deprivation and all.

I did take Jamie to the doctor today and he has nothing that they can treat - it's likely a virus of some kind - so they sent us home to wait and watch.  I had mixed feelings about this only because I really don't want a repeat of last night.  But useless antibiotics won't change that so we wait and watch.

He did not take a good nap this afternoon.  He didn't eat a great dinner.  We had to hypnotize the raging toddler with Phineas and Ferb.

He was cranky right up until bath time.

I took his temperature right before bath.  Guess who was spot on normal?  That would be Jamie.  As if this news was just the moment he'd been waiting for, he turned into happy toddler.  He played in the tub and had a good bath.  He giggled and giggled and played and chased his brother during the rest of bedtime routine.  He was happy reading a book with me before bed.  He was feeling fit as a fiddle.

Just in time to go to bed.

He's in there now, talking to himself and, without doubt, cuddling with his board books.

The planets, chorus singing angels, and the Lords of Kobol have taught me my lesson.  Don't go out of town unless you're prepared to pay the price.

This week was hard, but getting away was still worth it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Diet

Ladies and Gents, it's week 9 and things are NOT going well.  At this point I should have lost 15 lbs.  I have lost 6.  I feel better, yes, and I can tell that I look better but I really need to look a lot better than I do.

I know I've had a very stressful couple of weeks.  I went on vacation for the weekend and then promptly had to come home and weigh in but the sad truth is that I'm failing the test here.  Again.  For what seems like the millionth time.  Clearly my commitment to this is lacking.

Do I have time in the day to focus on this?  Yes, I do.  But I don't use that time to exercise.  I think about exercising but I'm tired and I don't feel like it and it's hard and I'd really like some cheese with my whine.

And then there's the time of day when the kids are in bed and I'm ready to chill out on the couch.  My brain immediately tells me "you need a snack.  In fact, you need LOTS of snacks."  I handle the problem much better on some days than on others but I bet I'd be more successful at all of this if I could just flipping STOP eating at night after dinner.

It's becoming more and more clear to me that this is going to take more "me" time than I hoped.  I am going to have to set aside the time to be good to me by torturing myself at the gym - at least metaphorically because I can't afford a gym membership.  So, my gym is going to have to be my living room and, well, blerg is all I have to say about that.  The gravity well that resides on my couch is ever so comfy.

I only have 3.5 weeks left on the 12 week online program I paid for through Weight Watchers.  If I don't make better progress here I don't know what I'm going to do at the end of that period.  Meetings are a pain in the ass and not scheduled at times that are convenient to me so I'm tempted to stick with the online program.  But, well, see all of my complaining above.

I guess I'm just feeling frustrated and stupid and lazy and every other bad adjective in the book.  Sigh.  I work hard at a lot of things in my life.  Why does this have to be so hard, too?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How I Spent My Birthday Vacation

As I write this, I am sitting on an airplane bound for Pittsburgh - an airplane equipped with Wi-Fi.  To quote Wil Wheaton, "I love living in the future."

Leaving behind Scot and the kids, I spent the weekend in San Antonio, TX with my best friend from high school, Trista, and her husband, Dan.  These are two of the coolest, most awesome people I know and I haven't seen them in 2 years.  To say I was looking forward to seeing them is something of a massive understatement.

It would also be a massive understatement to say "Gee, that trip was fun."  It was more than fun.  It was exactly what I needed and the perfect balance of sitting around shooting the shit and going out and doing things.  I ate way too much but I don't give a damn because it was all so tasty.  I could wax rhapsodic for an entire post about the food alone.  I'll spare you that, though.

I left my house early Friday morning and headed to the airport.  The drive was perfect - not a ton of traffic, got there in plenty of time, and found a place to stash the car.  I got through security with plenty of time to spare (and got the full-on TSA grope) and boarded my flight to Dallas on time.

Pittsburgh from the plane window during take off.

The flight to Dallas arrived early of all things, I got to my next gate for my next flight, THAT one went off on time and it arrived early, too!  Who knew that the words "airline schedule" weren't an oxymoron?!

Dan picked me up at the airport and whisked me off to the taqueria for lunch.  I promised not to wax rhapsodic about the food on this trip so I'll just say YUM.  Then, we spent a couple of hours back at their house chatting about books and making fun of Twilight while we waited for Trista to be done at work.  Once she was, we went and picked her up - oh frabjous day!

Trista then treated us to a roast duck dinner.  Again with the YUM.  Since I was just dying to stay up way past my bedtime, we decided to head out to see a movie and settled on seeing Thor at The Alamo Drafthouse.  This theatre was really cool - each row has a long table in front of it and they have a menu of foods you can order from throughout the movie.  Dinner and a movie all in one place.  Since we'd already eaten we chose to indulge in dessert: Guinness milkshakes.  I don't know who decided that ice cream and beer thrown in a blender and topped with whipped cream was a good idea but that person deserves large amounts of cash and the swimsuit model of their choice.  The movie was decent, too.

We got home ridiculously late (for me) and I fell into bed and slept like the dead, not waking until 8 am (which was 9 am according to my body).  Bliss!

After breakfast (which, again, nothing but YUM), we decided to get out of the house for a bit.  After we managed to clean ourselves up, we headed over to Trista's work because she had a to do a quick check on some of her lab work.

Amusing sign in Trista's lab


After she was done, we went to the local library which was having a book sale.  While I didn't score anything for myself, I did find some paperbacks for my Dad.  Trista struck out but Dan left with an entire stack.

By this time it was time for lunch.  We decided on Thai.  Oh green curry, how I love you.

We spent the afternoon in downtown San Antonio.  We weren't looking to do anything specific so we basically wandered about.  I discovered that San Antonio is a very walkable city.  Trista and Dan, having just been there again recently, were not interested in The Alamo so we had planned to skip it.  As it turned out, we stopped there anyway just to avail ourselves of their restrooms.  Remember (to pee at) The Alamo!  But, since we were there, we took a quick stroll through the gardens and took a gander at the front of the place.

Trista and Dan

Trista and me

The Alamo (see, I didn't forget it)

After doing a strafing run on The Alamo we headed down to the Riverwalk.  We didn't do anything except wander the path along the river, take pictures, and just generally enjoy a really gorgeous day.  After a while we got tired of walking and had seen most of what we cared to gawk at so we hiked back to the car (detouring once again through the gardens at The Alamo) and headed home for a couple of hours and some foot rest before going to dinner.  We sat around talking and in the process I managed to get enough recommendations for books to fill up my Amazon wish list.  Woot!

The cuisine choice for dinner was Mediterranean.  Not to beat a dead horse here, but YUM.  The meal was very tasty and beyond that full of good conversation and friendship.  All was right with my world.

After dinner we went home, made sinful peanut butter blondies, popped open some of Trista and Dan's homemade wine (they make a mean Malbec!), and I got introduced to Castle and Chuck.  Of course I've heard of these shows but never gotten around to watching them.  Nathan Fillion's character on Castle is the unholy melding of Captain Mal Reynolds and Captain Hammer.  In a word, awesome.  Chuck was fun and full of giggles.  I think if I watch more, I will become seriously addicted to it.

We stayed up late talking and drinking wine and lounging around without a care in the world.  It was precisely what I needed.  Then we fell into bed for some much needed rest.

My flight home wasn't leaving until mid-afternoon so we got to be lazy and slow moving this morning.  We drank coffee and chatted.  We ate breakfast and chatted.  We sat around on our asses and chatted.  And then it was time for me to pack up my stuff and get ready to leave.  They dropped me at the airport and we said goodbye.  I miss them already.

So, now it's back to my regular life.  The boys had a weekend with Dad and I'm sure Scot is ready for me to be back at the helm when it comes to steering the family ship.  Having had a chance to rest and recharge, I'm ready to get back to it, too.  This little mini-vacation was an incredible treat for me and I'm so very glad I got to do it.  I have to give a special thanks to my parents for gifting me with this and to my husband and in-laws for working out logistics to make it happen.  My family loves me and I love them right back.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Achievement Unlocked: Ear Tubes

Short version (because I am EXHAUSTED): The tubes are in, he did OK with everything despite some extended crankiness in post-op, and he now has rivers of gross coming out of his ears.  We are to use antibiotic ear drops twice a day for the next several days to bomb that infection back to the stone age.  He was not quite the rock star his brother was when it came to this procedure but he weathered it fine.

I am knackered.

And, despite refusing to take any afternoon nap at all, so is he.

Daddy brought me get well toys and all I could do was fall asleep with them.

Tomorrow it's back to regular schedule - he has daycare so I have time to clean - and the rest of the week promises to be hectic as I gear up to head off to Texas on Friday.  I'm hoping that he wakes up happy tomorrow and back to his usual self.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

This morning we had a lovely brunch at home with Scot's parents.  Earlier this week, we tried to find a restaurant to go to but in our procrastinatory way, we were too late and every place was booked.  We decided to just do it at our house.

And it was yummy.  French toast; egg, bacon, and cheese casserole; fresh fruit salad; more bacon; coffee; mimosas; donuts; and pastry.

Yeah, I don't need to eat for the next week.  It was worth it though.

Then the kids wanted to go outside to play and I just wanted to get a picture of me with my boys.  Once again, Jamie was having none of that nonsense.  Camera?  Pshaw.  Take your stinking camera away, Mother.  So, I had to get pictures with them separately.

With Jamie, I had to photo bomb him or there was going to be hands over the eyes and crying.  These were the best we got.

Jamie is still making a face.

Later on, I got a couple of good ones of the boys playing together.

As for gifts, I got cards and a very special creation from Liam.  First the card, which Liam picked out.

And now for the pièce de résistance made especially for me by Liam during his art class at school.

He calls it a 'pinch pot.'

He made it, glazed it, the teacher fired it, and it's my very first piece of made-for-me-by-my-kid pottery. I love it.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Murphy's Law Bites Me In The Behind

About 10 days ago, I took Jamie to the ENT for a consult on ear tubes.  The immediate verdict was "yes, he needs tubes."  We left the office with an appointment for surgery on Monday, May 9th.

That would this coming Monday, two days from now.

Now, Jamie was in the middle of a double ear infection when we saw the ENT and on a course of Omnicef for the infection.  Incidentally, Scot was infected with the same nasty strain of bacteria and had a sinus infection - one that was resistant to the class of antibiotics that both he and Jamie were on.  He ended up having to get another course of medication, this time a different class.

Given that I knew this bacteria was a tough nut to crack, I was naturally worried that Jamie would finish his course of medication and, in the week between finishing it up and his surgery date, promptly relapse, spike a fever, and screw the surgery date.  

With this weighing on my mind, I called our pediatrician's nurse line at the end of last week (over a week ago now) and tried to ask them how to handle this gap between medication completion and surgery.  I attempted to explain that I was worried that he wouldn't clear the infection and by not clearing it end up sicker and possibly interfere with our surgery date.

Short version:  it went poorly, they were exceedingly rude to me, and while promising me a call back after speaking with our pediatrician, never did so.

Because I was embarrassed by what happened and knowing that I had been labelled "that" parent that is problematic, I didn't push the issue further.  Jamie finished his Omnicef on Monday and seemed to do well the rest of the week.  His nose was a bit snotty off and on but nothing that was egregious.  I figured we'd make it to surgery day, get tubes, and be home free.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Last night was the first clue that something wasn't right.  He woke up around 11:15 or so and wouldn't be comforted.  He'd rock in the rocking chair with me and be fine.  I'd tuck him back into bed and 3 minutes later he was crying again.  I gave him some Tylenol, rocked him, put him back to bed.  Again, 3 minutes later he was crying.  In the end, I sat in his bed with him on my chest until nearly midnight and the Tylenol had finally kicked in.  I got him tucked in and fell into my own bed.

This morning he was cranky.  He wouldn't eat.  He didn't have a temp but I just knew something wasn't right.  I took him out with me to run an errand and while I was getting him in the car, I asked him if his ears hurt and he said yes.  (OK, he nodded, but close enough.)


I didn't bother calling the pediatrician for a number of reasons but mostly because I knew that they probably didn't have any appointments open by that time.  Since he didn't have a fever I decided to watch him a bit and see how he did.  If he didn't improve we could take him to Children's urgent care.

Then he fell asleep in the car on the way home and it was only 9:30 in the morning.  Something was definitely not right.  When we got home, I put him to bed and he slept for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  He still wouldn't eat.  He was still cranky.

Scot packed him up and took him off to urgent care.  Guess what?  DOUBLE EAR INFECTION.  What a shock.  Unfortunately, the doctor there didn't want to listen to Scot about the fact that this strain of bacteria was going to laugh at cephalosporins.  Their treatment plan was to give him an injection of Rocephin to get him through until his ear tube installation on Monday.  This was not a comfortable procedure - the Rocephin burns when it's injected.  So much so that they mixed it with lidocaine - which also burns when injected until the numbing takes effect.  Jamie was NOT PLEASED to be stabbed in each thigh at the same time with stuff that burned going in.

By the time they got home he was exhausted so I put him down for another nap.  He slept for 2 hours.

In the meantime, I called the ENT.  I was afraid that all of this was going to prove a problem on Monday - especially if the Rocephin wasn't capable of bashing the bacteria into submission.  I was scared that if he spikes a fever they'd refuse to put him under anesthesia.  Also, if he spikes a fever, I am only allowed to give him Tylenol because Motrin is not allowed as part of his pre-op instructions.  So, I won't be able to properly control any high fevers he gets.

The good news is that the ENT wasn't worried.  He said that as long as Jamie doesn't develop chest congestion, we can push ahead with surgery and that the Rocephin should get us that far.  The truth is, that the best thing we can do for Jamie is get the tubes in place.  We have antibiotic ear drops we can give him that will get exactly where they need to go once the tubes are in.  Right now, they're useless, but with tubes they're like a guided missile against the infection.

Jamie seemed to feel better once he was up from his nap and actually ate a decent dinner after refusing food all day.  So far his temp is only slightly elevated and easily controllable with the Tylenol.  Now it's just a matter of getting through the next 36 hours.

But, really, Murphy and his little law can just fuck right off.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's All About The Accessories

Diet: Week Six

I gained half a pound.  Oops.

But I'm not too upset.  I got sick at the end of the week, the whole week itself was crazy beyond measure and I had no time to exercise, and I indulged in a bacon cheeseburger and a beer on my birthday (as well as a slice of cake).  Given all those factors, I think it's actually fairly good that I only gained half a pound.

At this rate there's no way I'm going to make my goal of losing 10 pounds by my Texas trip but I'm still OK with that.  I just keep on going.  I'm back up on the horse this week and hoping to get some exercise in if I can just get rid of this virus.


The other day we were outside with the kids and broke out the sidewalk chalk.  Liam came up with this creation:

I don't have any idea what it's supposed to be.  Chances are, if you asked Liam, he wouldn't know either.  He almost always draws abstract pictures - it's rare to see stick figures or anything like that.  He knows HOW to draw that stuff, he just chooses this sort of thing.  That's my kid - always has to be different.  I love that about him.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


That would be me.  I managed to blog every day last month and this month is the very definition of scattershot.

It's not that I don't want to write posts.  I have at least 3 or 4 rattling around in my head but it has been BUSY the last couple of weeks.  We've had doctors appointments and illness and speech therapy plus all of our regular commitments.  At the end of the day, more often than not, I space out and don't write.  During the day, I have things to do and when I don't have things to do, I'm trying to enjoy being with the family.

So yeah, the blog has been coming last on my list of priorities - right behind laundry.  Since I'm finally tackling that mountainous pile, it's time to do something here.

On the subject of illness, the upper respiratory virus that's running through our household is a doozy.  First Scot came down with a sinus infection that left him in bed for 3 days.  Almost simultaneously, Jamie started with a fever.  Two days later we took him to the pediatrician and got the double ear infection diagnosis.  So, 2 out of the 4 of us are on antibiotics for what is likely the same virus.  Scot finished his up yesterday and went the ER to beg more medication because after 2 weeks this infection is still hanging on.  Jamie's fever broke within a day or so after starting his Omnicef but he's still coughing a bit and congested.  Tomorrow is his last day of antibiotics.  I'm going to have to keep an eagle eye on him for the next week because he's supposed to have his tubes put in a week from tomorrow.

In the meantime, Liam has started to get congested and is developing a cough.  And me?  Ear pain to start and now chest congestion and a cough.  I don't have time for this mess.

As far as speech therapy goes, we had our first working session on Friday.  She did all of her paperwork as quickly as possible and was able to work with Jamie for about 15 min before the end of the session.  To the outside observer, all she did was play with him but I can see the strategies she's employing to improve his speech.  There's a lot of repetition involved.  She also rewards him for using language by continuing the play activity with him.  For example, they were blowing bubbles and every time he used the word "bubble" he got more bubbles to play with.  She comes again tomorrow morning, bright and early for a full length session.

My 35th birthday was also on Friday.  It was a low key day after we got done with speech therapy and I enjoyed that.  Since I had cleaned up before the therapist got here, I was able to sit on my butt while Jamie napped FOR THREE HOURS that afternoon.  (Best. Gift. Ever.)  We went to dinner that night with the kids and my in-laws.  Again, very low key but also very enjoyable.  My mother-in-law baked me a cake since I didn't have time to do it for myself and it was delicious.  I got a few small gifts (but the real gift was the camera I got last month) and lots of hugs and kisses and "Happy Birthday, Mommy!" from the kids.

Today I need to clean but I am not feeling excited about it, mostly because I feel like crap.