Sunday, January 30, 2011

You take the good... take the bad
You take them both and there you have
The facts of life, the facts of life
-Alan Thicke & Gloria Loring, theme from "The Facts of Life"

I started thinking yesterday about the sheer amount of time we've spent in doctors' offices and hospitals, trying to entertain kids. We really should write a book called "How to Entertain a Wiggly Child with Nothing but a Tongue Depressor and a Cotton Ball."

Friday was one of those all-day-in-medical-land kind of days. We'll start with the good...

On Friday morning, Jay went back to the cardiologist for a follow up. He didn't have an echo at his last visit, so we were certainly anxious get a closer view of how his heart is doing. Drum roll please... he's doing great! The improvement to his heart function (how hard it squeezes) seems to be leveling off. And while still not normal, it's certainly within acceptable ranges. He won't likely ever be a long distance runner, but his heart is beating strong enough for him to participate in normal activities, climb stairs without a problem, etc. He's come a VERY long way from the ECMO days where his heart was not beating at all. When I stop to think about it, I get so overwhelmed. Joyous happy thoughts - but more than I can comprehend.

The other good news is that he can stop one of the heart meds - the one that he was taking for the heart rhythm problems. This is a scary thing for me because it's hard to know if he's having arrhythmia issues. His particular arrythmia would be life-threatening if it were to occur again, so we'll be praying that's a distant memory. This particular medication stays in your system a long time, so he'll do a study (wearing a holter monitor, which is like a 24-hr ECG) in 6 weeks when the drugs are really gone.

I gotta say, it was one of the smoothest visits ever, thanks to A LOT of preparation and discussion about it:
What will we do first?
Where do you think the nurse will take your temperature?
Will she take your blood pressure on your arm or your leg? (Answer - both arms AND a leg.) Will we see Cathy? What do you want to tell her? (Answer - "I am so brave for my finger sticking." Both Cathy and Dr. M. thought it was hilarious to hear a 2 year old use the phrase "finger sticking!")
What will Ms. Lindsay put on your chest for the echo? (Answer - that goopy gel and her camera.)
But like with so many things, he was great when he knew what to expect. So all was good in cardiology world.

Then, you take the bad...

I haven't talked about it that much here, but Luke has been congested since, well ... July. He gets a little better then gets worse again but, truly, there has not been a single day that he hasn't had snot fangs. (Thanks MS for one of my very favorite descriptions!) We took him to the ENT, and surgery is in the near future (tubes in, adenoids out, tonsils still TBD). He's taken at least 5 different kinds of antibiotics. We've tried everything short of surgery to no avail.

I don't worry about it all that much because he's a happy little snotter. He never gets fevers, and never seems all that concerned about the rivers of green gunk. But on Friday, he was miserable. He screamed for nearly 4 hours at daycare (while we were at the cardiologist with Jay). I picked him up at noon, and he continued screaming for me until he finally crashed. Clearly, not feeling so good.

I took him back to the pediatrician, and (no surprise) he has a raging double ear infection. Uggh. Given the range of oral antibiotics he's tried with no luck, he got the triple whammy ... rocephin shots, 3 days in a row. And a strong encouragement for mom & dad to schedule said surgery sooner rather than later.

While walking around (and around and around and around and around) the circle of offices at our pediatrician's this morning, I saw a list of the pediatric specialists that they usually refer kids to:

Urology? Check.
ENT? Check (kid 1) and Check (kid 2).
Cystic Fibrosis sweat testing? Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt.
Cardiology? More times than I can count.
Allergy/Immunology? Yup, got the epi-pen, too.
Radiology? Oh yeah. Jay's had enough chest x-rays to light up the night sky.
PT/OT/Speech? Yup, been there.
Labs? Rex and Duke, on a regular basis.

I do know that we have it better than a lot of kids with special needs. I truly am so grateful that we live in a city chock full of excellent medical professionals, with so many pediatric specialists. But man - that's a lot of co-pays!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hey little thing lemme light your candle

cause, mama, I'm sure hard to handle now
gets around
-The Black Crowes (or Otis Redding), Hard to Handle

Now that little Luke-o is mobile, crawling like a speed demon in the direction of the nearest trouble, our morning routine has become a little hairy. Enjoy a tale of two perspectives that we'll call 5 minutes in the morning...

Sweet! Mom gives me blogging rights again. The kids in daycare are gonna loooooove this one...

So, usually mom drops me in BABY JAIL while she spends hours and hours and hours doing her hair. Complete with bars and everything! I wail and scream at her until she comes to rescue me.

Last Friday, she finally (FINALLY!) figured out that I will stop crying if she'll just let me be near her. I got to hang out with her in the place where Big Brother and I hang out and splash each other before bedtime. Boy is there a lot of fun stuff in there!

First, I checked out the splashing place while it didn't have any water in it. I tried really hard to get in, reaching on my tippy, tippy toes, but I still couldn't get in there. It wouldn't have been much fun without Big Brother and without water anyway, so I decided to see what other stuff might be in this fun room.

Mom sprinkled some toys around on the floor. C'mon. I am so far beyond plastic squirters. What am I supposed to do with them when there's no water to squirt? They don't make noise. They don't have flashing lights. They don't DO anything. What fun is that? Does she really think that will distract me?

Oooh!! Over in this corner is a door! Wonder if it opens? YOUCH! That hurts when it opens with your finger in it!! WAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Oh, cool, what's this over here? I think this is where Big Brother goes to the potty. Look! There's the cushion that they put on the potty for him. Wonder what it tastes like?

Seriously, mom. Those toys are so not exciting. Is that supposed to keep me away from all this cool grownup stuff?

What's over here in this corner? Hmm, mom sure is making a lot of noise with that air gun that she aims at her head. Bet she can't see me over here. Wonder if I could turn over this basket full of dirty clothes? Yup. Sure can. Boy, I'm good.

Oooh! A cord! And I think mom's waving it around to play with me. Hey Mom! Look, I can grab your pants and stand up. What's wrong? You don't like my pulling up trick? Oh, sorry I got some snot on your pants.

What's this big thing in the corner? It's got a long stick. Hmmm, wonder what this big chew toy thing on the end is for...

Jen's Perspective:
Luke is generally a pretty easy kid. But he ABSOLUTELY. DOES. NOT. entertain himself, playing with toys while we get dressed in the morning or fold laundry or fix dinner or do any of the basic things required to run a household. He has to be right in the middle of everything.

To keep him out of trouble, I usually put him in his crib while I dry my hair and get ready in the mornings. Let me be perfectly clear - I do not take long to do this. I don't do makeup, I don't have a fancy hair-fixing routine ... I dry my hair, brush my teeth, and that's about it. 10 mins, tops. So while he's not happy about being left alone in his crib (surrounded by toys, no less!), I leave him there where I know he'll be safe. If he cries for a few minutes, I really don't think he'll suffer long-term harm.

Last Friday, I decided that he could probably stay out of trouble in the bathroom while I was in there watching him. I mean, really, how much damage can he do in there?

I was wrong.

First, he was mere inches from crashing headfirst into the tub. He got his arms and upper body over the edge and was truly only touching the ground with one tiny toe. Probably not the safest bathroom activity.

But we have toys! Bathtub toys, specifically designed for entertaining an almost 1 year old. I pulled them out, but that was a complete waste of time. No interest in them whatsoever.

He headed for the linen closet which has bi-fold doors. Not good for little fingers ... I learned that from watching Jay smash his little hands on more than one occasion. By the time I realized he was headed for the door, the damage was already done. Luckily, he settled down quickly. Tough little guy, that Luke.

I tried the toys again to no avail. C'mon, I only need 2 minutes to brush my teeth!

Next up, the potty seat. Gross!! Oh my God, he's going to put it in his mouth!! Where can I stash that that he can't reach it. I think I need to brush his teeth too. Might need to brush mine again just thinking about what would have happened if he'd actually gotten his jaws on that. Shudder.

Okay, he's just watching for a sec, so maybe I can dry my hair real quick. He's headed for the hamper, but what can he do with a load of dirty clothes? Well, apparently, he can turn it over and spread them all over the floor. He's dragging a dirty hand towel along as he crawls. Sigh.

Oh good, he's coming back within arm's reach. He can't break anything while I can reach him right? Hey sweetie! Oh, you're getting to be such a big boy pulling up! I'm so proud of you. Oh, gross. You just wiped your snotty nose on my knee. Guess I really ought to change clothes now, eh?

Seriously, just 10 seconds more and my hair will be dry. Just sit there for just a sec ... Oh crap! DON'T TOUCH THE PLUNGER!!!! AUGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That spoon, that spoon, that spoonful...

...could fill spoons full of coffee
could fill spoons full of tea
just a little spoon of your precious love
is that enough for me?
-Cream, "Spoonful"

The best part of having two kids? Watching as big'un puts words in little'un's mouth. This video is pretty funny anyway, but be sure to listen closely.

In case you can't understand, here's the play-by-play:
Jay: But it's hot, mom!
Me: It's not hot.
(feeds him a spoonful)
Jay: Is it hot, Luke? It is? Okay.

And if any of you wondered how I spent my Sunday, you can see that a significant portion of the day was spent cleaning oatmeal off of every flat surface in the kitchen. Then I began the laundry. For the record, oatmeal comes out of fabrics quite nicely if attended to promptly. Leave the oatmeal sludge on the pj's for a few days? Not so much.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I remember we were driving, driving in your car...

...the speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder,
And I had a feeling that I belonged,
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.
-Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car"
(Aren't y'all impressed that I came up with the one car song performed by a woman?! Love me some Tracy Chapman. )

Well, folks - it's a done deal. I am the proud owner of a new-to-me car. And I will surprise you all by saying that it was not one that was on my original list of 6 cars I was considering. It's got the cute, car-like feel I loved about my CR-V and is has a third row for when I need more space.

Isn't she just so pretty?

I bought "Maddox" the MDX earlier this week, but didn't really consider her MINE until she got the A-OK from my beloved car mechanic. (Sidenote, I am NOT in the business of endorsing products/services on my blog, but if you want a recommendation for a fantastic mechanic, give Robert from Autobahn Automotive a call. Honest, professional, skilled - I can't say enough about how great he is!)

She's a 2008 Acura MDX, and I love her. We're gonna call her Maddie for short. Oh, and my very favorite thing about her?
Yes, friends. That's a seat heater over on the right. So my tush will be nice and toasty on these cold mornings!

So, I must tell a story that is part amusing story and part embarrassing confession. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (particularly since a key character hasn't yet heard the tale!). This is going to lay out for all of the e-world the fact that I'm still clinging much too tightly to my middle school-era inferiority issues. I was a goofy nerd who didn't fit in very well and spent a lot of time wishing she was in the cool crowd. In a lot of ways, that is still an unfairly large part of my grown up identity. Remember my Muffins FOR Mom story from this spring? My interaction with those moms stems from the same inferiority complex. Different verse, same as the first.

For a little background, we go to a church in downtown Raleigh that is filled with a very diverse group of people. As you might expect in a historic downtown congregation, there are lots of people who earn a good living as attorneys, doctors, politicians. There are many beautiful people who I can only imagine have been in the cool crowd for most of their lives. There are also plenty of us "regular folks" who eke out a living working with cows & goats (my dear hubs) or as teachers, secretaries, plumbers. ALL are welcome, regardless of whether we shop at Target or swanky downtown boutiques; regardless of whether we are high profile politicians or underappreciated preschool teachers.

Background tidbit #2 ... we live on the very edge of a really nice area of town. Real estate prices in our city are are significantly higher if you live inside the beltline (ITB) than outside. While we can spit over the beltline from our backyard, we are on the inside. Some people readily identify as ITB people, old Raleigh people. I just don't fit that mold. I'm an ITB poser.

So, I was telling a friend from church that while I really loved this car, I just wasn't sure it fit me. Confused, she asked me for more detail. I said something like "It's too pretty. It's for beautiful, thin people who have their act together. Not flustered people like me who will immediately fill it with last week's junk mail and crush Cheerios into the floormats. It's too ITB. It's too FBC-ish. Too attorney-ish. I don't really belong in it. It's the kind of car someone like our friend Dana* should drive." (Dana* is a mutual friend from church who is a beautiful, poised, classy attorney - and one of the world's nicest and most genuine people. When I think of a woman who has it all together, she immediately comes to mind.)

My friend's response ... "You do know what kind of car Dana* drives, don't you? An Acura MDX. Hers is white, but otherwise it's just like yours. And need I remind you that you do in fact go to FBC? And you do live ITB."

Ouch. Truth hurts sometimes. And sometimes who we appear to be on the outside doesn't line up with the inner dorky girl on our inside. While I see myself as a grown up version of the dorky nerd who doesn't really fit in, others may see me as an ITB-dwelling, FBC-attending, Acura driver.

Yes, I plan to tell Dana* this story and let her know that I think she drives the perfect car that is as beautiful and classy as she is.

So, the song is even more perfect. It's not only about a car, but captures that feeling of belonging, that feeling that - if only for this moment - all is right with the world. Good song. Great car. I'm just hoping I can grow into it and become the classy woman who belongs in such a nice car. I have a feeling that I can be someone, be someone.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

If you're really gonna cut my hair...

would you please, please take your time
and if I don't like what you've done to me
could I have a turn of mine
-Athenaeum, "Haircut"

(Sidenote - Derek was quite pleased to pull out a perfect song by one of his favorite local college bands. We had some good times in the late 90's listening to Athenaeum, Cravin' Melon, Far Too Jones, The Connells ... ahhh, the good ol' days. The smell of smoke still permeates every memory of those shows at Ziggy's and Lake Boone Country Club.)

So, given the song, I'm sure you can guess the big news around our house. Luke finally (FINALLY!) got the much needed haircut. We kept waiting, thinking that any day now it would start to lay down. Eventually, it's going to get long enough and therefore heavy enough to stop sticking up. Right? Apparently not. His hair was more than 2 inches long, and still standing straight out of his head in every direction. He looked like he'd spent a little too much time with the Van De Graaff Generator that I thought was so neat in high school physics. Oh admit it - you thought it was cool too.

I had been ready to buzz him for a while, but people kept saying "No, it's so cute!!! Don't do it!" And it was cute. But I finally decided it was time when strangers in the grocery store started commenting on it every time we took him out in public. Every. Single. Time. I mean really, if you saw a kid who looked like he'd stuck his finger in a socket, you'd have something to say about it, too. I realized that if he were someone else's kid, I'd publicly say "Oh it's so cute!" but secretly think "Why the heck don't they cut that crazy hair?!"

It was time. And what better way to start the new year than with a new 'do?

So, here's the before - for those who don't know me on facebook, this was a couple of weeks ago as he helped us with the cleanup from our Christmas baking.
When I tell you that hairdo is completely natural, I am NOT STRETCHING the truth in the least. Seriously - his hair just stood up like that completely on its own, and it didn't matter how much rubbing or spit-bathing it got, it just stood straight up. It actually kinda curled up and back, just for extra volume. It probably would have laid down if I put some gel on it or something, but I absolutely refuse to put product in a baby's hair.

And now, for the after:

Yes, it is really short. Yes, he looks like he's ready to join the Marine Corps. Yes, it makes him look older. But dang if he's not just about the cutest baby I've ever seen. So now, if folks comment on how cute he is in the checkout line, I'll know they really do think he's got an adorable smile. And they're not just amused by his crazy hair.