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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Does SOMEtime Have to Come So Soon?

Dear Daughter is a very proficient reader for a not-yet-six-and-one-half-year-old. She discovered my Garfield comic book collection in the storage room a few weeks back and has developed the same passion for them that I had as a kid. Only I was a quite a bit older than she is currently when I began collecting and reading them.

We've had the same bedtime routine for nearly six and one half years: PJ's on followed by teeth brushing and about an hour of reading followed by several minutes of snuggling together in the dark and debriefing our day, or what we've just read, or whatever is on the girl child's mind. In the past couple weeks a new dimension has been added onto the routine. Dear Daughter now gets an additional 30 minutes of time by herself to read her Garfield comic books after I leave her room as long as she turns her light out when told (she knows how to tell time by herself now), and stayed in bed the night before instead of sneaking around the house.

Tonight I pointed out to Dear Daughter that it's kinda silly for us to turn out the lights and snuggle in the dark only to have her switch the light right back on to read some more by herself after I leave her room. The lights out for snuggle time routine began six years ago as a means of helping her wind down and go to sleep. Tonight I suggested we just leave the light on as we snuggle a few minutes and ponder the meaning of life, and then I would leave and let her read her comic books until the specified "lights out" time. By definition, this arrangement implied less time to cuddle up together. Dear Daughter loves cuddle up time. I expected her to protest my suggestion. I probably secretly wanted her to protest a little. She didn't.

"Well..." she began thoughtfully with a little grin. "I guess I have to grow up SOMEtime! So I think that would work, Mommy! That way you could go get started on your night-time work and I can get to reading my Garfield books!" I watched her face as she spoke, and feelings of bittersweet pride stuck in my throat. I knew I wouldn't be able to stop the tears, so I just let them trickle in warm paths down my cheeks. I was remembering when, at almost two years of age, she finally allowed me to place her in her crib awake instead of rocking her to sleep first. I was pregnant for the second time, and I could no longer lift my big rear out of the chair along with her 30 pound body without causing her to wake up. In fact, tonight was very much like that night just over four years ago. While my rear is not quite as big as it was then when I was pregnant, the same lump choked me in my throat as did four years ago when Dear Daughter allowed me to put her in her crib awake, and with a tearful, pitiful voice assured us both with her words, "Mommy be back!" I barely got out the door that night before the tears flowed, and tonight I didn't even try. I just let them slip down my cheeks as I held her close with the lamp still on.

"Yes," I said in a pitiful voice. "I guess you have to grow up SOMEtime...." I heard her pitiful little not-quite-two-years-old voice echoing in my memory..."Mommy be back!" Yes, my baby girl, I will always "come back," no matter how the fabric of life changes you or our relationship. But that doesn't stop the ache that comes with the knowledge that a milestone has once again been passed, and once again things will never be the same. I would have held you a little longer last night if only I would have known.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It was Friday the 13th, and I'm not superstitious. Dear Husband commented that evening about some silly poll on the number of people who are superstitious and because of it do not leave their homes on Friday the 13th. It just happened that the kids and I did not leave the home on this particular Friday the 13th. It had nothing to do with superstition; it had to do with having one fabulously joyous day on which there was nowhere we HAD to go. The house was relatively clean. Even my work for the week was nearly caught up before the weekend. This kind of thing just never happens in my life very often anymore. In fact, I cannot remember the last time. I spent the day not thinking at all about it being Friday the 13th. I schooled the kids peacefully. The phones didn't ring. My only chore for the day was the six loads of laundry that I juggled between Math and Handwriting and Science and Social Studies. I enjoyed some outdoor play with the kids and the dogs as well as some games and silliness in the downstairs playroom. As 5 pm drew near, I was satisfied this had been a very productive and even relaxing sort of day, and I was feeling very little stress or pressure. Days like this are too few and far between.

I eventually succumbed to the kids pleas for television by 5:15 pm while I prepared a meatloaf for dinner and then spent some time in the office shredding sensitive papers, rearranging piles, and filing stuff that has accumulated for the past year. This is how the husband manages things. I stay out of it until I feel like I'm going to go insane or until I worry that one of our children will wander into the office and be buried alive under the sliding stacks and mounds of stuff awaiting sorting and shredding and filing.

I was mindlessly shredding the piles of paycheck stubs from the year 1982 or something, when Dear Son came screaming into the office crying above the drone of the paper shredder, "Mommy! I need a snot rag!" He was nearly hysterical. "I put a sticker in my nose, and I can't get it out now!" and he continued to wail in hysterics. I'm pretty sure I exclaimed something along the lines of "Oh crap!" but probably a tad stronger than that.

I took Dear Son upstairs to put him under my strongest reading lamp so that I could peer up his nose, all the while pleading with him how he could do this after the Trident wrapper thing.

I saw nothing but black way up in the uppermost caverns of his nostrils. He had informed me that it was a black sticker he had shoved up there. I mumbled the derivative of "Oh crap!" again as I went for the flashlight. I peered up there again and saw something black all the way as far back as I could see. I was trying to remain calm, but my mind kept racing between my child's welfare and the steep bill this was going to cost us at either urgent care or the ER.

I did what many hysterical mothers of young children do when they don't know what else to do: I called my mom. She is a (retired) nurse, after all. This means that she can advise on anything from high fevers to amputated limbs to stickers shoved up one's nose. She re-affirmed what I already knew: I would have to take Dear Son somewhere to get medical assistance in extracting the object from the depths of his nasal passages. There was that expletive spewing from my mouth again.

I called the closest walk-in clinic. I don't regard them very highly. They've lost my respect for a variety of reasons. But I was desperate. I explained to them the predicament and asked if they could assist in this sort of thing, and I was told that while they could try, they would probably end up referring us to the ER anyway, and so given that we were going to have to pay for this "procedure" out of pocket, we would probably be better off just going to the emergency room in the first place. Really. I let this sink in. My mind was really racing now. I was worried about my son going through a "procedure" to extract this object from the depths of his nose. I was worried about the cost of said "extraction." And now I was also envisioning sitting for hours in the ER waiting room among hoards of Swine Flu sufferers coughing and sneezing all over my boy child. I had one last option. I called the pediatric urgent care associated with our doctor's office, and they assured me that in the vast majority of cases they are able to extract objects from kids' noses and they rarely have to refer to the ER. Okay then. From our past experience with them, they charge more than the walk in clinic, but less than the ER. Seemed like the best option at this point.

Husband walked in the door just in time to rush off to urgent care. A 30 minute drive (with a brief stop to drop Daughter off at Grandma's house) and 20 minute wait later, we were in. Son had complained of his nose hurting on the drive. I was worried about him, like any good mother would be. The nurse's assistant brought us back to an exam room and asked several questions. She left. A Registered Nurse came in and asked us all the same questions. She left. A Medical Doctor came in and asked us all the same questions again. She left. I nudged Husband and asked him if we were going be expected to pay for each of these people's time when all they had to do was review the first person's notes and we'd all be on the same page. The doc returned. She couldn't help giggling. She sees kids do this sort of thing fairly often, she says. Her own grandson had decided to shove an open tube of Super Glue up his schnoz and squeeze the glue out while it was up there. I didn't ask how that one turned out. She was chuckling, so it must not have been too bad.

She peered in one of Son's nosrils. She peered in the other side. She called me over to peer in. "Do you see anything?" she asked me. Well, no, I don't see anything at this particular moment and now that this very small light is shoved up his nose. She said she needed to check his throat to see if it had moved down there. She gagged him with her tongue depressor. He screamed and squirmed. Nothing. She didn't say much, but she left the room. She came back with two more nurses. I again wondered if we would have to pay all these people for their individual time. Dear Son was clinging to Husband and begging to go home. We convinced him to allow us to have another look. The crew had brought a sheet in to wrap his arms to his sides and keep him from flailing. I was thinking of how much I would absolutely hate this sense of helplessness to have my arms strapped at my sides while someone jabbed around in my nose and throat. We made it sound like a game for Dear Son. He was going to get to pretend to be a burrito. He actually fell for it, and didn't even complain until someone started to stick tools in his nose. Who could blame him? They used something to spread his nostrils wider because they were swollen a bit from his allergies and that made it hard to see up there. They looked in one and then in the other before they decided that it was all clear.

What? I asked incredulously. There's nothing THERE? I asked at least a dozen questions and was told about a dozen or stories of crazy things they've extracted from kids' noses, including a bean that been up a kid's nose for so long that it had sprouted. Seriously. They hypothesized that Dear Son had either gotten it back out himself or swallowed it, and that if there were still a sticker up there, it would dissolve in time and make its way back out. Dear Son had insisted over and over again that he shoved a sticker up his nose. I asked him for the three hundredth time if it felt like there was something still up there, and he was SURE he put something up there. He first said "Yes!" and then said that maybe it had already come back out. While thankful that everything was okay and that my boy child was healthy and nothing worse was wrong, I was also beyond exasperated. The staff handed the boy a Thomas the Train sticker on our way out, and I told them it was a sick joke and a ploy to keep kids coming back in. I quickly warned Son not to dare consider shoving this sticker up his nose. They also gave him a purple Popsicle.

The boy slurped happily and obliviously on his Popsicle, and the husband and I exchanged bets on the way out as to how much this visit, that could have completely been avoided, was going to cost us. We agreed that it would probably be somewhere between $200 and $300.

It was Friday the 13th. Turns out it didn't matter that I didn't leave the house all day. I suddenly felt a little superstitious after all.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

John Lennon

My dear three-year-old son is becoming quite the little prolific artist, much like his big sister has been ever since she could hold a crayon. Dear Son's latest art theme is lots and lots of happy smiling people. The other day he came up with this one (pic on the left). It looked eerily familiar to me (pic on the right). When I asked him if he had drawn a picture of John Lennon, I think he snorted and looked at me like I had three heads before he replied, "Mommy! It's a picture of Zoe!" Apparently my 6 year old daughter has an uncanny resemblance to the late John Lennon. Or maybe I'm just imagining things...?

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Farm

This post is looooooong overdue, which pretty much sums up my life these days. Several weeks ago we made a trip to farm country to visit the kids' great grandmother and great aunts and uncles. We don't travel much. At all, really. This is probably because I hate to travel, and traveling with kids causes me to twitch uncontrollably. Nonetheless, it had been three years since the kids saw their great grandmother. More importantly, in some ways, it had been three years since my grandmother saw her great grandkids. Since this is the only grandparent I have left and we did not get to see my other grandmother before she passed away last spring, I thought it was important to make this trip.

Just in case it wasn't a hard enough commitment to make already, I was faced with a really bad cold that should have landed me in bed for several days. It hit me the day after I let Grandma know we were coming for sure, and I didn't have the heart to let her down. If I'd have started my Vitamin D3 regime a bit sooner, I probably wouldn't have gotten sick at all. At least it helped me get well a lot quicker.

I had ten therapy appointments scheduled the day before we were supposed to leave for the trip. And I was sick. But that's not all. We also got 6 1/2 inches of rain the day before we were to leave. Yes, SIX and ONE HALF inches of rain. In one day. I was driving home from work in the dark around 8:30 pm with my eyeballs swimming in snot, and I was having trouble finding a road to travel that was not flooded. I nearly didn't make it home that night, and I still had to pack for departure in the morning...AFTER getting the kids to bed. I expected a late night despite the fact that I already couldn't keep my eyes open and it was only 8:30 pm.

Right after we got the kids to bed, the power went out. And it didn't come back on. And it was STILL raining. So Dear Husband and I decided there really wasn't anything else to do but go to bed. We would leave in the morning whenever we were ready, and there was no point in stressing more about it.

We made to farm country the next evening, and it was a good thing the kids managed the 9 hour car trip so well. Better than I did, actually. I was twitching a bit by the time we made it in that night, but it could have gone much worse. Not only did we make this trip with kids, but also with two dogs. Baby is our new Boston Terrier. We decided it would be less stressful for all of us to just bring the dogs than to leave them with a boarder. Baby had just joined the family, and Cooper has major separation anxiety and a history of abuse before we got him, and it just seemed less stressful to bring them. Cooper loves to come with us places in the car. Actually, I don't think he loves to go in the family mobile, I just think he loves the part about being with us.

Cooper actually traveled well. He didn't shake or hyperventilate. Only a few weeks before he was riding in the family mobile with us and Dear Daughter called to me from the middle row to tell me, "Cooper is vibrating." I looked behind to see what she was talking about, and sure enough, Cooper was trembling and shaking like a leaf. Vibrating was actually a pretty accurate description.

Baby "vibrated" and hyperventilated for the first 30 miles. Fortunately she got a grip after that since we had 8 1/2 more hours of travel ahead of us. By the time we arrived, both dogs were seasoned travelers with nary an ounce of doggy-anxiety to show for it.

And the kids did amazingly well. We have not traveled with the kids that far in three years, and I was very skeptical. The last time we made this trip, neither one of the kids would nap in the car, and both of them needed to. We had to stop a lot more that time, so the trip became 11 or 12 hours long. And neither one of the kids slept at all the entire 12 hour car ride. Not. a. wink. I was REALLY twitching by the end of that trip!

We clearly made it. Grandma just turned 91, and she still does pretty well in assited living. I think our visit was the highlight of the year for her.

The kids also got to see their "cousins" (which are my cousins' kids). I have to do my research on family relationships to find out what that makes our kids. Second cousins, perhaps? Regardless, the kids (and I) enjoyed a leaf fight. Aunt Pat even joined us for awhile. I particularly like this picture--you can see a cloud of leaves directly over Dear Daughter's head.

These pics are on the property where I spent a lot of time when I was growing up. It was originally my grandparent's and now it is my Aunt and Uncle's. I haven't been there much in the past 24 years, but each visit brings back lots of old family memories. The landscape has changed a bit. Grandpa and Grandma's house is no longer there. A big row of pine trees that used to border the driveway and divide the space from the field behind are gone. But some of the outbuildings are still the same.

The kids also got to see my uncles' farm equipment and even go out in the equipment to the field. Dear Daughter couldn't believe how big the wheels were on the equipment. The kids each got to ride in the tractor and combine. Dear Daughter even got to drive the combine a bit. They had a lot of fun. Then they got to see the 2,500 pigs that my Uncle Randy and cousin Nick manage. I couldn't believe it later when I realized I didn't even get a picture of all the pigs. I guess I was too mesmerized by the sea of 2,500 pig faces and grunting, stinky critters all crammed together to remember to take a picture.

I'm not sure if the farm or the hotel experience was more fun for the kids. The kids had never stayed in a hotel before, and they seemed to think this was great fun. Of course, we couldn't get them to sleep together in one of the two queen beds in the room. They would just giggle and jabber the whole time. So, as predicted, Dear Husband and I had to split up in order to split up the kids so we could all get some sleep.

All in all, the trip went pretty well and hopefully I'll stop twitching before we take on a trip to Oregon next.