Thursday, May 31, 2012

God Wanted Me to Get a Massage

So I had a pretty good day. It was one of those rare occurrences where none of my employers had a full day of work for me. I had a full day of daycare that I had already paid for, but only a half day of work. What to do?

Well, I knew in advance that this was the situation. And my gimpy shoulder has been nagging me for weeks, and I'd been hoping to make an appointment with the massage therapist. So I called Catherine. It was on a whim, as I know she's usually pretty booked up, and it was the last minute.

She had one appointment time available. It was not long after I'd get off of work. I took it. What were the odds? My employers had been begging me to take on extra work days lately, and I had worked a fair amount over the last week. Why not a full day of work today?

Because God wanted me to get a massage.

And He wanted me to run errands.

I had exactly an hour and 10 minutes between work and my appointment. I ran two errands in that time, and they were two towns over. It's amazing what I can get done without the girls around. After my massage, I walked down the street. I ran into a friend and her two boys. I sat down on a bench and had a snack with them. Then I checked out two local shops that I'd been wanting to visit lately. And scored two awesome summer dresses. Consignment, so defensibly reasonable.

It was meant to be.

The laundry? It wasn't meant to be. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Love Aphasia

I love aphasia. Actually, that's a lie. Because aphasia really sucks. Aphasia is a communication disorder that is the result of some kind of neurological trauma. It most commonly results from strokes and traumatic brain injuries, and robs people of their ability to speak, understand spoken language, write, read, or all of the above. So I hate aphasia.

But I do love working with people who have aphasia.  There are varying degrees of disability that depend on the severity and location of the trauma that occurred to the brain. In my experience, aphasia is like snow. I have never seen 2 examples of aphasia that are exactly alike. In my perfect job, I would work with individuals with aphasia all day long.

Now, many of my healthcare co-workers don't share this opinion. It can be extremely frustrating to try to help a patient get dressed, walk, find food they want to eat, and express what is causing pain or anxiety when there's a breakdown in simple communication. Because aphasia can impair pointing. And gesture. And the other myriad ways we try to get our point across when we can't get the right words to come. And it can also prevent a person from even knowing that they don't make sense. Imagine how frustrating it must be to make perfect sense (to yourself, at least...) and have people staring at you like you speak Martian instead of handing you that sweater hanging in that closet over there like you've been asking for for the last 10 minutes.

But I have the luxury of sitting down and just trying to work through the communication piece. And I find that most patients are relieved to have someone who can take the time to try to communicate, especially when that person also has tricks to help recognizable words actually come out.

So I was reminded today at work how much I love working with people with aphasia when I sat down with Mr. Jones. Of course his name is not really Mr. Jones, because HIPAA would hunt me down and have me de-licensed. Well, HIPAA's just a law, it can't hunt. But someone would hunt me down... But back to Mr. Jones... He's a gruff elderly gentleman, shaved bald with a wicked potbelly and dry sense of humor. My favorite kind of patient. I sat him down in the vacant dining room (his room was too noisy) and offered him a drink:
Me:  "What can I get you to drink?"
Mr. J:  "Eh, anything."
Me:  "Well, we have lots of things in the kitchen, coffee, tea, juice, soda, water... What would you like?"
Mr. J:  "Coffee... with Splenda."
Me:  "How many Splendas?"
Mr. J:  "One."
Me:  "Any cream or milk?"
Mr. J:  "No no no!"

I was quite pleased with myself. Our significantly aphasic gentleman just very clearly told me that he wanted coffee with Splenda. So I poured him a cup of coffee from the kitchen, stirred in one packet of Splenda, and proudly placed it in front of him on the table in the dining room. I was not prepared for what came next.

Mr. J:  "What the hell is this?!?!"
Me:  "It's coffee. With one Splenda."
Mr. J:  "I can't drink this sh*t!"
Me:  "What's wrong with it? It's just what you asked for! Coffee with Splenda!"
Mr. J:  "NO!"
He pushed the cup away with a look of disgust.

Now, I happened to know that Mr. Jones can read better than he can understand, and once he reads the word, he's able to say it out loud. (Aphasia is funny like that.) So we went through a 10 minute process of me asking questions in multiple-choice format, all written on paper, until I finally understood what he really wanted.

A diet gingerale.

You can't make this stuff up. His speech errors are usually well-articulated real words that are somewhat appropriate for the situation. They're just the wrong words.

But we worked together for an hour, and did get some of the right words to come out. And there were moments of joy when they did. Mr. Jones was able to laugh at himself a bit, and I was able to tease him a bit. I have no problems laughing at speech errors (technical term:  paraphasias) and help my patients do the same. Sometimes the substitutions are just downright funny. And in the midst of all of the frustration of ideas locked in a brain with an uncooperative speech system, I assume that they need more opportunities to laugh.

So the next time you find yourself annoyed, trying to get the word out that's on the tip of your tongue, imagine that all of your words were like that. And pray for individuals with aphasia!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Catchup and Gail Halvorsen

Happy Memorial Day to all!  A huge "Thank You" to everyone who has served in our military. 
I'm extremely thankful that there are people in our country who willingly put themselves in harm's way every day so that I don't have to think about how dangerous the world is. I do sleep better at night knowing that there are people who have the skill and bravery to do the dirty work that allows us to all sleep peacefully at night. And I'm extremely thankful that there are families who put on brave faces, and spouses that struggle to do the job of two people so that their household can function while their soldier spouse is deployed far away. 

Whether or not you approve of the reasons that the military gets deployed, you must acknowledge the people who don't get to have a say in these decisions, but feel strongly enough about serving their country that they go along anyway. And they do a really good job of it. They've recently proven that the bad guys aren't as good at finding hiding places as we are. And they bring along candy for children who have never tasted any. And share their rations with people who don't have food. And provide medical care to the sick and injured who aren't even involved in the fighting. 

I know that there are countless stories of U.S. service members doing small things to help the residents of the countries they fought in. I think my favorite so far is that of Gail Halvorsen. PBS introduced me to him a while back, talking about the Berlin Airlift after WWII. Today made me think of him again. American pilots flew life-saving necessities into Western Berlin. They provided a constant stream of food, medicine, and supplies for the beleaguered Germans who lived there, with planes landing every 3 minutes. Gail noticed the children who watched his plane land 3 times a day. He gave them chewing gum one day, and realized that they weren't just bringing these children food, but hope. So he bought up candy at the commissary, fashioned tiny parachutes out of handkerchiefs, and dropped the candy from his plane on his approach to the landing field. 

Gail attaching parachutes to candy. (Thanks for the photo, Wikipedia!)

Of course it was a hit. He became known as the Berlin Candy Bomber. Children across the U.S. raised money and American candy makers donated candy to the cause. Other pilots joined in. One man's sympathy and compassion for a few children grew into a joy-bringing institution. 

@ss-kicking and candy bombing. What a combo within a military force! 

So that's all I've got for today. I'm too behind to even try to do a belated Stewardship Sunday. Thanks to a holiday weekend, I significantly increased my work hours, which always screws me up. BestestHusband was home today with the girls and attacked the Clean Laundry Beast that was lurking on the spare bedroom bed while I enjoyed a "quiet" day at work. That's why I even have time to tell you that I can't catch up with blog posts. Yeah, I know it's been a while. But I promise a new boulder update soon. There is a new boulder. And a new update.

PS. Thanks Anne and Chris for the delightful dinner gathering that made me eat and drink too much. That's probably the biggest reason I couldn't write a Stewardship Sunday post. And the homemade brats were insanely good...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boulder Update

BestestHusband found a new favorite boulder tonight. He was very happy. Then I called everyone in for dinner. The boulder is still at the bottom of the hill. For now.

I see a boulder rematch in our near future...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bedtime Prayer

MeToo:  “DearDesus, tank oo for Desus… and Mommy and Daddy an Pincess book, pease teep ussafe true da nigh, an pease make us fee bettah true da nigh… and tank oo for…Manny an Tamin… true da nigh… an fee bettah… true da nigh… an fee bettah……. an…....”
Mama and Daddy: “AMEN!”
MeToo:  “Amen.”

Accidental Homebirth

Children love to keep us on our toes. Just as soon as you think you have a schedule, BAM! The schedule changes. Just as soon as you think you know your child, BAM! Your child changes. Children are very good at surprising us. 

A dear friend of mine just had a baby. I'll protect her medical identity by calling her "Friend". (creative name, huh?) She's the ever-practical and calm person who makes motherhood look easy. I'm sure she'd disagree with this statement, because she's also humble. Anyway, she just had her third child. Her first 2 children came significantly early. I've always been a tad bit envious of that, as my 2 both came late. But baby #3 wanted to be different. Keep her on her toes. Baby #3 came late. And baby #3 came fast. 3 hours, start-to-finish. They didn't have time to get to the hospital. Baby #3 was born at home.

It's a growing trend in my local mommy network, and I know of many well-planned home births that were ideal births. Experienced midwives were on hand. Doulas were on hand. They'd planned the birth for months. Working in healthcare and knowing what germs lurk in hospitals, I understand the desire to avoid all of that and just birth in the comfort of your own home. 

This does not appear to be Friend's situation. No, baby #3 was delivered by her own father and grandmother. With assistance from a helpful 911 dispatcher, of course. And a friendly post-birth visit from helpful local Fire, Police, and EMT teams. 

The email and FB updates report that everyone is healthy and doing fine. I can't wait to hear the who story from Friend. That makes for quite an entry in the Baby Book!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Want A Sodastream

I want a Sodastream.

It's been a long day. I don't know much else other than that.


Monday, May 21, 2012

A Trip to Ruth House. And Target.

Aahhh, it's rest time. The time of the day where I pray the girls will sleep and threaten them with flaming wrath if they come out of their room. The time of the day when I try to let my ears recover from their auditory onslaught. The time of day when I procrastinate from stuff like clothes-folding and floor-sweeping and sit down to read email and write blog posts.

Dinner's in the crockpot. A load of laundry is in the wash. Ok, NOW it is. I forgot to actually do it. But now we're back on track. We're waiting on an old co-worker to stop by; she's bringing back a bin of baby clothes and exchanging them for the next bin of larger clothes.

The girls and I were out and about this morning. We started the day with a trip to Ruth House. We were at the first Ruth House Experience, where we were given a taste of the lives of the girls who live there. The other visitors for the Experience were given dolls, car seats, and a small bag of baby essentials. I brought my own 2 kids and bags of essentials. They even cried and made noise at the appropriate times. The other women didn't have crying baby dolls. They could listen intently. They didn't need to produce toys, snacks, and other interventions to keep the general hubbub down. We were a mini object lesson to what the real residents of the homes dealt with when they first were oriented into the program. But only an analogy. Because I know a little bit about how to shush crying. I can predict when the girls will get tired, bored, and hungry. I have a little experience. I had people to teach me. I'm not 16 years old and homeless, with a newborn.

After our Ruth House Experience, we went to Target on our way home. We needed a white shirt for HeyMama. We found one. Then picked up a second shirt because it also would match the skirt we were trying to buy a top for, and it wasn't too expensive. I found a sun hat. We looked at sun hats for the girls that were on clearance. We ultimately didn't buy one, because we already had sun hats, and even as cheap backups, they weren't good enough. I was willing to spend more for a better hat. We got a gift for BestestHusband (shhh, don't tell!). We didn't look at toys, despite the girls' begging. I wanted to get us all home for lunch and rest time.

The shift from Ruth House to Target helps highlight the difference between my experience as a mother and the experience of a Ruth House mother. I have snacks in my diaper bag. I never have to worry about not being able to afford food for my girls. If we need more food, I go buy it. I can walk to the store. I can drive to the store. In my very own car. I don't have to worry about shopping only where the bus lines will take me. When we need more clothes, we go buy some. Sure, I love hand-me-downs, and try not to buy anything excessive. (Which can be hard, considering girls' clothes. Headbands were my downfall last week.) But it's out of a desire to use our money wisely. Not because we don't HAVE money. My girls were excited to help pick out a gift for BestestHusband. They know him. They know what he likes. My daughters have an involved father. He supports them. He supports me. He is there for us every morning and every night. I'm not parenting alone. I have the luxury of scheduling our days around they girls' needs. I can make sure they eat at regular intervals, and get plenty of sleep. The basic necessities of life are never in question. They are always provided.

Even under the best of circumstances, parenting is a challenge. Imagine having only the clothes on your back, with a few diapers and a blanket for your baby. You're almost out of formula. You're almost out of diapers. You have no clean clothes for your baby.

Imagine what it would be like to be shown to a room, with a pretty crib for your baby with sheets and a blanket. To see a nice bed, just for you, with a pretty comforter and sheets. You see thick soft towels. This is all yours now. This is the first time you've had a room all to yourself. With a key to keep your things safe. The people who lead you to this room seem tough. They talk about rules. School. Schedules. Things you MUST DO. But they repeatedly ask you what you want for your child. What you want in life for yourself. They talk about dreams and goals. They tell you that they will help you get yourself there.

Yes, this is why Ruth House is such a special place. I support it with my time and money. The girls there, and their young families, need it. If you're looking for an inspiring place to get behind and support, please consider attending the Ruth House Experience for yourself!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stewardship Sunday

It's Sunday again. I'm not sure where the day went... well, actually, I do. Much of it was spent at church, thanks to an afternoon Voter's Meeting. And yesterday was spent at work. So I don't feel like I had much of a weekend. I'm starting this post to procrastinate from finishing the dishes. With little perceived weekend, doing dishes just doesn't sound like much fun...

We had more fun this past week than the week before it. Well, I did... HeyMama had an allergic reaction to her amoxicillin, and had a nasty rash. It's almost gone now. Poor kid looked like a leper. But we did more fun stuff. We had lots of play dates. We went places. We bought glittery nail polish and have glittery toes. BestestHusband battled a boulder. It was a great week.

The laundry monster is still stalking me from the spare bedroom. I must conquer him tonight, so I'll be brief.

Exercise:  I only made it to the gym once. I plan to remedy that this week.

Patience:  It's closely tied to how often I make it to the gym, but having fun and being outside in glorious weather helped a bit.

M&Ms:  Less gym time = more M&Ms consumed. It's an unfair relationship.

Money:  We did shoe shopping this week. Ouch. Our trip to CVS resulted in the purchasing of multiple headbands and hair appliances. And nail polish. It's expensive to be a girl.

Food Waste: We threw out half of a bunch of mint, and will likely toss half a can of tomatoes. I'm trying not to waste the whipped cream I made earlier in the week. I think somehow I'll manage to consume that and not the container of salad greens that are trying to go bad in my fridge...

Hope you have a great week! Now, off to slay the dread laundry monster...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feats of Strength

I spent a gorgeous Saturday at work, trying to communicate with demented little old ladies who don't speak English and getting covered in tube feed solution by a little old man who did speak English, but disconnected his feeding tube and plugged it into his bed alarm. The pump didn't know that the tube was now feeding liquid nutrition to an electronic device. Good times. My darling BestestHusband was at home with the girls, and arranged a play date with our friend Chris and his daughter, who is HeyMama's bestie and MeToo's rock star idol. The girls of course were overjoyed to play together. RockStar and my girls played in the yard while BestestHusband and Chris had plans for a day filled with Feats of Strength.

My darling BestestHusband is a huge fan of Seinfeld. He's also a weekend warrior extraordinaire. He sits at a desk being brilliant all week, and has the need to exercise a bit of his brawn on the weekends. When I first met him, I couldn't help but notice his height and broad shoulders. Those were the days when we could row and exercise on a regular basis. (Don't ask him about the Head of the Charles and his herniated disk. Still painful. The memory. Not the back...) Now, he walks dogs and bikes to work to get a bit of exercise. Not quite the same. So I'm convinced that he has a primal urge to do Feats of Strength, like leveling the back yard by hand. And pushing boulders up a hill. Poor Chris just got recruited to help with both jobs...

BestestHusband has been putting in a new garden for a few weeks now. The missing piece was the cornerstone of the rock retaining wall, a giant boulder he had dug up while leveling the yard that he decided would be the ultimate stabilizing force of the entire garden. If he could just get it up the hill... He's been working on that little element for several days now. He estimates that it's in the 300-400 lb range. He  attempts to roll it up the hill, and stops when he gets to the point of muscle fatigue. Then he comes inside, and tries again another day. He was making gradual process. He got the brilliant idea to use a moving dolly. Our friends around the corner just happened to have one. I suspected it was not the best tool for the job. I figured a team of draft horses was more up to the task...

But BestestHusband has his plans. And a need to do back-breaking manual labor. And I happen to like his broad shoulders, and figure that back-breaking manual labor probably plays a role in their maintenance. So after stating my opinion, I shut up and made plans to spend a gorgeous day indoors. I didn't plan on getting covered in yuck. Rookie mistake...

Moving the boulder proved to be a sisyphean task. Literally. Instead of getting the boulder up the hill, it just rolled further and further down the hill. 2 strong men. 1 strong moving dolly. 1 nasty boulder. The boulder won.

Anyway, I came home to a newly-renovated garden. BestestHusband resigned himself to using smaller boulders, and moved a few large shrubs to further demonstrate his strength. I can't complain about the results. The garden is quite stunning, considering that it had previously been a series of unhelpful slopes. We now have a level and fertile span of yard neatly delineated by rocks that BestestHusband dug out from under our failing grass. It will look even better when our plants have matured and have food on them. 

Our new garden.

Some of the smaller boulders BestestHusband dug up.

The compromise boulders that made up the final corner.

The rock wall from the side.
The boulder and the dolly.

Closeup of the boulder.

The boulder and dolly are significantly downhill from the intended wall corner.

Darker spots on ground indicate higher points that the boulder once rested. Oh well. 

So I'm off to apply a tube of muscle rub to my BestestHusband, Sisyphus. If anyone else is interested in a day involving Feats of Strength, let me know. I'm sure we have some more projects on the ToDo list.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rhododendron Path

This was part of my commute home from the train station today. I missed a bus by 30 seconds. But got over it pretty quickly...

When I start kvetching about how much I loathe Boston winters next February, please remind me of how much I love Boston springs.

Hulking Monster

There's a hulking monster in the spare bedroom. It keeps growing bigger and bigger, trying to engulf the bed.

I was grateful to flee from it today, and happily skipped to the train station to go to work.

I showed a picture to a coworker, who groaned. "I have one of those at home too. I hate it."

I felt a little better. She doesn't have kids. I never had monsters like this before the kids came along.

Laundry that needs to be folded. It's menacing.

How did it get to be so bad?

I ask myself this, frequently. I wondered if it was because:

  • I took the girls to he doctor Monday afternoon instead of getting stuff done
  • We went shoe shopping on Wednesday morning
  • HeyMama and I made bread on Wednesday afternoon
  • I went out Wednesday night with a friend for drinks
  • I did the laundry in bursts whenever I was home instead of spacing it out evenly through the week
  • All of the above

I discussed this with my Wednesday night drinking buddy, a mom of three down the street. It's amazing how trying to fit one extra thing into your week can totally throw everything out of whack. Like laundry. I managed to get it all clean, but folding it was just asking too much. And there are always random little things inserting themselves into the week. Shopping for a birthday. Shopping for Summer shoes. You'd think by now that I would have figured it out by now. You'd think wrong.

Oh well. The girls are getting a chance to wear through the last clean clothes in their closet, and I can see if those rarely-worn clothes still fit or not. So I can wash them and let them sit on the bed again.

Do you have any monsters hulking in your house?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Helen's Legacy. And a Demolition Crew.

We've lived in our condo for about 5 years. It was an old home that was gutted, and with a large addition in the back, turned into 2 large condos. We each have 2 levels of renovated space that doesn't feel like the typical Boston housing stock. In other words, it's updated and not grimy. We have a front and back yard. We have the Arboretum across the street and wetlands behind us. We thought we'd hit the jackpot. We were thrilled to find the place, and put down an offer on the spot. It was accepted about 12 hours later. 

We found ourselves to be neighbors with families that had lived in the area for generations. On one side of the house was Helen, the octogenarian matriarch of a family that included 9 children and countless grandchildren. She lived in a large house with 2 of her adult sons. The house was typical Boston housing stock, slightly grimy, with multiple family projects added to the house and yard over the decades. Helen was still wiry, spry and strong-willed, a force to be reckoned with. She had been a nurse, in addition to raising 9 kids. There was no doubt about who was in control next door.

But the projects that they had added to the house were a bit interesting. Decades before, Helen wanted a pool for her children. They couldn't afford to pay someone to put one in for them. So they did it themselves. They raised the level of their yard, from a steeply sloped hill to a large level expanse adequate for a pool with a diving board and a slide. They built a large... well... I'm not sure what to call the structure. It has a roof and screened in sides. It overhangs the city's wetlands behind it. I'm pretty sure it's not legal. It's also ugly. But it provided shade and a place to store pool toys. 

When we first moved in, Helen was still living in the house, and loved to see the family gathered for swimming and grilling. There were plenty of patio tables, chairs, and a large awning coming off the back of the house. But Helen was starting to become forgetful, and over the next few years we witnessed her rapid decline. Helen was moved into a nursing home, and the pool parties stopped. 

The property was "adorned" by quite a collection of stuff. Ok, so it was like having the Beverly Hillbillies next door. The yard was built up with construction fill. They built the wall out of old sidewalk remnants, and filled in with the contents of dump trucks that had been rumbling by. There were plenty of teen-aged sons at home, so they were put to work creating the back yard. They were good at repurposing things. Helen didn't like to throw stuff away. This is useful when you're raising 9 children. This is not attractive when your property overlooks the collection. As Helen started to lose her memory, a few of her daughters would secretly come in and throw stuff out. The stuff that made it to the curb was amazing. Not attractive, but amazing. 

We planted ivy to try to cover the wall. We planted a tall yew hedge to separate our kitchen windows from their "woodpile". We prayed with every windstorm that the large building in the back would miraculously get blown down. We've been praying a long time.

We were shocked this morning when a dumpster container arrived next door. A demolition crew arrived with it. They went back to the structure. Then they started taking it down. Quite rapidly, actually. The girls were amazed, and watched, entranced, from the back deck. It really was amazing to see them disassemble the monstrosity. 

Alice, the 7th of the 9 children, came over to tell us what was going on. We knew that Helen had died a year or 2 ago. Chris, one of the sons, had started doing some work on the property, and it was slowly (very slowly) starting to lose some of its Beverly Hillbillies appearance. We approved. I took out lemonade in the summer to show our appreciation. Alice explained this morning that everyone in the family who could afford a house already had one, and this one was going to be sold. (I didn't ask about the 2 random grown sons and a grandson and his girlfriend who lived there...) They would spend the summer getting the house cleaned out and in sellable condition. They would open the pool one last season to get the family together on the weekends. 

This is amazing news. I know that Helen would be spitting mad. As Alice explained, the "wetlands" behind the house used to be a city dump. The additions to the yard were "improvements", especially in Helen's eyes. She didn't see that the structure was illegal and constructed out of random building remnants. She only saw that, despite working 50-60 hours a week and raising 9 children, they had managed to build a yard, a pool, and a cabana on a shoestring. It was a testament to their hard work and ingenuity. Alice told me that under the floor of the structure, they found an old porcelain bath tub. With a dead raccoon in it. Somehow, it seems appropriate. 

The structure, as the demo begins...

Men at work.

Our view of the work.

HeyMama supervising.

HeyMama and MeToo supervising.

The roof is coming off.

The roof is gone.

The frame is gone.

It's all gone.

Our view of their patio from our deck.

Our view of their patio from our patio. Thank you yew bushes.

Our view of the structure from our patio. Thank you demo crew.

Our attempts to cover the sidewalk wall. 

The giant expanse of wall that the ivy can't seem to conquer. That's a lot of sidewalk chunks!

Our view of the wall from our patio.

The woodpile. With random tires and crap. This is actually a cleaned-up version...

Our new garden and new grass that BestestHusband is working on. We prefer to look at this.  

Alice watched the work through the back windows. She said she liked watching the view of the trees reappear as the structure was dismantled. "It's like it's come full circle", she said. Alice salvaged a few plants from a planter that was part of the structure, and gave them to us: "Autumn Joy Sedum". I want to keep them. Alice said that Helen loved them, and they were one of the few plants that she could actually grow. I have few but fond memories of the spunky old lady next door. She fretted that I would slip on the ice when I walked to work, pregnant with MeToo. Her ability to remember new things was quickly leaving her, so the memory of losing one of her pregnancies was strong whenever she saw me. But even in her frailness, she exuded energy. And joy. I'm be honored to have her "Autumn Joy". I promise to think of her when they bloom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Little Leper

Poor kiddo, she looks like a leper. The amoxicillin rash has spread even more. The skin-to-rash ratio is about 1:1 now. The benadryl's not doing much. Neither is the oatmeal bath.

Is oatmeal bad for the plumbing?

The doctor says to wait it out. Waiting sucks. Poor kid...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Revenge of the Amoxicillin

So I earned myself the Worst Mother of the Year Award this weekend by allowing HeyMama to get a sunburn on her shoulders. Saturday morning we went down the street to our friends' yard sale. I didn't expect we'd be there long. But we were. Without sunscreen.

So HeyMama had bright red shoulders this morning. I slathered her in aloe. The redness spread down her arms. Then little bumps appeared. I called the doctor's office. By the time the nurse called back, the bumps had spread to her legs. The nurse scheduled us for an appointment in the evening. By the time we got there, the bumps were on her chest and back. They were spreading to her face.

The verdict? Allergic reaction to amoxicillin.

Poor HeyMama. She's red and swollen all over now. And itchy. And sad.

At bedtime, we all said special prayers for her little red bumps. Even MeToo asked God to make her feel better.

I hope the Benadryl works. At least we know she'll get a good night's sleep...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stewardship Sunday: Mothers Day Edition

Happy Mother's Day! And Happy Sunday!

It's that day where I look back at the gifts I was given during the past week. There was one I really wanted to return:  strep throat. The girls and I both had it. I do have to say that amoxicillin and penicillin are great gifts. As is a large urban healthcare practice that can schedule 3 people to be seen, last-minute, with almost-back-to-back appointments. With a pharmacy downstairs. It truly is a great gift. 

I spent most of the week grumbling about my fate. The girls did not seem to feel as bad as I did, and certainly didn't think they needed to sleep as much as I did. Thursday, I took the day off from work and sent the girls to preschool. I caught up on sleep and housework. The week got a little better. Pastor was a last-minute late-night houseguest. Life felt a little more normal. (Don't ask me why Pastor dropping by made me feel more normal, but it did. It really isn't a normal thing at all. Whatever.) I had a PT eval for my gimpy back on Friday. BestestHusband started to put in the garden. And ran out of space. So ordered more soil to be delivered to make it bigger. And tried to move a giant rock. (The rock deserves its own blog post.) HeyMama and I made bread. She made her own loaf, and it turned out quite well! Preschool had a Mother's Day Tea for all of the moms. It was lovely. And then the weekend came along, and we were all feeling a little better, and the weather is fantastic. BestestHusband took the dogs for a vet checkup and ran errands yesterday, and the girls and I spent the morning hanging out at a friend's yardsale down the street. And scored a large swimming pool to use as our new sandbox!!! BestestHusband ran more errands with the girls, and I sorted through too-small and too-big clothes in the basement to piece together a Spring/Summer wardrobe for the girls. And today we put aside the ToDo list and had a lovely Mother's Day. 

We avoided the chaos of Lilac Sunday and had a picnic on the quiet side of the Arboretum with great friends (and our goddaughter!) We sorted through baby clothes to find a Spring/Summer wardrobe for our chubby-thighed little darling of a goddaughter. We were reminded of how much we'll miss them when they move in a few months. (Sigh.) BestestHusband organized the whole thing. I just dug out the picnic quilts. Did I mention that the weather was perfect?

My Mother's Day gifts. 

Ok, so let's talk about what I did with my gifts this week.

Patience:  Total fail all around. The next time the girls and I both get sick at the same time, we need to find someone else to take care of them. It is necessary to have more patience than a 2 yr old to take care of a 2 yr old. And I did not. 

M&Ms:  We have peanut M&Ms in the house. Bad stuff. My self control was as weak as my patience.

Money:  I'm shopping for summer shoes for all of us right now. It's necessary, but painful. I picked up some of the clothes I took to the seamstress to get altered. Not cheap, but I have 2 more garments in my closet that I WANT to wear. I'm trying to ignore the price tag on BestestHusband's trip to BJ's yesterday. It was record setting. But not my fault.

Food waste:  I did relatively well, because I didn't want to cook, and therefore didn't make too many leftovers or try ambitious recipes. We did throw out 2 full giant pitas. The mold was white. I missed it until the last minute. But before eating them, thankfully...

This week, I need to amp up the patience and fun to try to balance out the misery of the past week. The process of looking for life's small joys never ends, and I'm ready to step up to the plate for another week.

HeyMama made the little loaf in the middle!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Meet My Mum

I'd like you to meet my Mum. She's a lovely lady. This is her 34th Mother's Day. 

And to celebrate, I'd like to share some fun facts about her from my childhood.

  • Though usually disguised as a well-mannered and reserved Pastor's wife, she has a wicked silly streak.
  • Growing up, she was the prettiest mom in our church. And we went to a big church. 
  • She taught me to chair-dance at the dinner table, bopping my head around while staying in my seat.
  • Earlier in my life, she showed me how to live a life of volunteering, rarely saying "No" to anything.
  • Later in my life, she showed me that knowing how to say "No" is just as important as knowing how to say "Yes".
  • She showed me how to take strong feelings and speak them in gentle words. 
  • She showed me how to wear bold colors. And tasteful makeup.
  • She taught me about Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, the wonder seasoning that works wonders.
  • She taught me to make pie. I think I was 4...
  • She showed me that even if you don't like being the center of attention, sometimes you just suck it up and speak in public. 
  • She showed me the importance of prayer. And Faith. And Hope. And Grace.
  • She told me that emotions are just emotions. We can't control or change them. But actions, that's what we can control and change.
  • She showed me that patience is a virtue. (Unfortunately, she never taught me the secret to being patient...)
  • She showed me what living in a clean and organized house was like. (Never mind that I've forgotten...)
  • She showed me that making something can be the best part about having something. (BestestHusband, the craft supplies in the spare bedroom are all her fault...)
  • She told me that holding myself to my own values and goals was far better than living up to someone else's. Besides, my goals were harder anyway.
  • She gave me space to let my imagination wander. 
  • She gave me time to learn to entertain myself. 
  • She taught me to play car games, looking for letters in highway signs and funny billboards. We went on a lot of car trips. 
  • She taught me to sing at any time. Make up a song, if needed.
  • She encouraged my interests. 
  • She told me that "sometimes, you just need a good cry."
  • She gave lots of hugs. 
  • She demonstrated what joy looks like.

Nowadays, she lives a time zone away. A long flight + a long drive, or a long flight + a long layover + a short flight away. It's much much too far. And I miss her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mum!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time Magazine Hates Mothers

I'm shocked, horrified, and downright LIVID to see what Time Magazine put on its recent cover.

No, I'm not upset to see a woman nursing her child. No, it doesn't bother me to see a mom who looks like a model nursing what appears to be a 5 yr old son (reportedly, he's 3). I'm a bit annoyed at the title, "Are You Mom Enough?" that goes with it. When did this become a competition? No, most days I don't feel "Mom Enough", but it has nothing to do with the fact that I no longer nurse my 3 year old.

What peeves me is that it starts people talking about whether or not the mom on the cover "should" be nursing her 3 year old. WHY IS IT THEIR BUSINESS?!?!?!

Yes, Time Magazine ran the cover to get our attention and sell copies. I'm sure they're achieving their goal. Good for you, Time.

But they're also feeding into the notion that people are ENTITLED to have an OPINION on the choices that OTHER PARENTS make regarding parenting their own children. Since when do you have the right to make a judgement upon the myriad decisions I make for my children on a daily basis? Oh sure, if I'm doing something illegal or blatantly dangerous (like placing them on the tracks in front of an oncoming train), then tell me. Please, do protect my children from my dumb decisions. But what harm does it do if I nurse my girls until they're 4? Am I a horrific mom because we didn't make it past their 1st birthdays? I'm going to confess a deep dark horrific secret:  I stopped nursing MeToo at 10 months. I didn't even make it to the 12 month mark. Why? Because I was going to Scotland for a week, and the mechanics of keeping my milk up for a week in her absence were just too annoying. Please, judge me now. Go ahead.

No, you shouldn't judge me!!! You don't have the right to have an opinion about the choices I make for my children! Why do people think they have this right?!?!

During a week that we should be preparing to thank our mothers for all that they have done and all that they continue to do, Time Magazine is stirring up controversy about what is the "right" or "wrong" way to parent children. Yes, the article is about Dr. Sears and Attachment Parenting. But that's not what the cover is about. The cover is about inciting judgement and self-righteousness about the choices that we and others make. We should be busy encouraging each other in the hard work of parenting that we do, instead.

Shame on you Time Magazine.

Would this make your mother proud?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Few Things I've Learned From Strep

I despise being sick. This is something I've known for a while. (Hint hint God, you don't need to keep reminding me!) But I will acknowledge that there are a few lessons I've learned the last few days, thanks to strep throat. I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

  • iPhones are great tools for taking pictures of your nasty tonsils
  • Strep-infested tonsils are gross
  • Febrile sweating is a great way to lose a pound or so while you sleep
  • Febrile loss of appetite is a great way to lose a pound or so while you don't sleep
  • Definitely time any necessary strep throat before swimsuit season
  • Household demands don't seem to notice that you're sick
  • But they do taunt you while you're lying on the couch. I swear the cobweb on the living room curtain rod was laughing at me yesterday...
  • Getting sick lowers my patience to a threshold similar to that of 2 year olds
  • You need to have patience greater than a 2 year old to effectively manage a 2 year old
  • Attempting to manage a normal life while sick is sometimes necessary
  • And it makes you bad@ss

Wash your hands, friends.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Swallowing Rocks Studded With Nails

Today is a "sick day." Well, I'm home from work because I have strep throat. Already fragile patients in Rehab Hospitals don't respond well to being exposed to strep throat. I'm fine with this concept. But the girls are home with me because they also have strep throat. So while we're all sick, I don't think this counts as a "sick day" in the way that I used to know them. Before kids, "sick days" were days that you were too sick to go to work, so you stayed at home, horizontal on your couch or bed. You didn't exert yourself. You caught up on sleep. Maybe someone even made you chicken soup. But apparently moms don't get "sick days". 

I went to bed early, but couldn't manage to fall asleep quickly. And when I finally did, I spent the night sweating like a marathoner, waking fitfully to find myself swallowing rocks studded with nails. Ok, so in reality I was only swallowing my own saliva. But it felt like I was swallowing rocks studded with nails. Or maybe just shards of glass. 

Have I mentioned that I don't like strep throat?

I ridiculously assumed that my girls, also stricken with strep throat, would be willing to take a nap. Consequently, I would be able to take a nap. At least I could have an hour or so of a "sick day." Alas, it was not to be so. They're well enough to not take a nap, but not well enough to handle the elements of daily life without dissolving into whining, arguments, and tears every 10 minutes. Sigh.

So we're eating a lot of yogurt to combat the antibiotics we're taking. I had to make another batch of yogurt today. I suspect it will last us until Friday. Maybe longer if I ever get up the will to serve something different for dinner. 

Oh, and today is a day that MeToo has decided that she wants to wear undies and use the potty. So I'm cleaning pee accidents at inconvenient intervals. The fun just never stops.

Wash your hands, friends. You don't want my "sick day" to happen to you!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Moms Aren't Allowed to Get Sick

I'm glad I have a fever. You can't make a fever happen or not happen. It just is. And in my book, it's proof that I have a RIGHT to feel this crappy. Because Moms aren't allowed to get sick. Life is just not structured for Mom sickness. Well, at least mine isn't...

And if my kids have to get sick, I'm glad we're all finally sick at the SAME TIME. So we can all lie on the couch together, happy to watch PBS Kids. And schedule all of our doctors appointments within a 2 hour stretch. This is a convenient illness, if you ask me. We usually stretch out our illnesses over a week, where there's always a conflict between people who want to go to the playground vs. people who want to lie on the couch and watch PBS. Or just sleep and moan (that's my typical response to being sick).

I rarely take my kids to the doctor for "looking sick". They need serious or prolonged symptoms to get me to make the trek. But a fever in me is a rare thing. And the hideous tonsils lurking in the girls' throats? They're pretty serious.

And I always question myself when I start to feel droopy. Am I REALLY getting sick? Or just being a wuss? Have I gotten enough sleep? Had enough caffeine to drink? PMS-ing? Just in a crabby mood? Procrastinating from some task I really despise? But why do I really doubt myself? Sometimes I DO get SICK. I know it's not ALLOWED to happen, but hey, call me a rebel.

BestestHusband had a thing in his mouth that he was already taking antibiotics for, and his doctor agreed today that this was the reason he DOESN'T currently have strep. He was signed up for another course of antibiotics for his mouth thing, and told to eat a lot of yogurt. "My wife happens to make it by the gallon," he told her. "Unsweetened?" Yes, when I make yogurt by the gallon, I do make it unsweetened. Perhaps my yogurt-as-procrastination habit isn't such a bad one, after all...

Our current pharmacopeia.


This is what strep throat looks like.

The nurse who looked in my mouth informed me that I have white patches in my throat.
Now you can see them too!