Sunday, October 31, 2010

happy halloween!

In a moment of bravery, I took the kids out on Thursday night to a Halloween event at a cute little farm sponsored by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. It was called Tales of the Night, from 6-9pm, and was perfect for kids. We wore costumes, brought flashlights, and wandered around the dark farm on a moonlit night, exploring the different exhibits for kids.

There were owls, spiders, and scorpions on display, along with your typical farm animals like chickens and goats, most of whom were looking at us as if to say, "who are you? Why are you dressed like that? And what are you doing here so late?" The stars were out, the night was warm, and the paths were lined with carved pumpkins and white lights. Besides interesting animals, we saw old Mother Goose plays like the Three Little Pigs and Miss Muffett and Little Bo Peep. The kids LOVED it, and I had a pretty good time too.

There was even a haunted hayride, which I didn't realize was haunted until we were already on and it was too late for us to get off. Thankfully, a continuous pep talk from me kept either Josie or Gabe from freaking out, even as characters dressed in costume jumped out at the tractor and pull. Poor Josie kept looking up at me from my lap and asking, "Eees pretend? Mommy, eees pretend? Eees scary, Mommy!" It was adorable, honestly, even though I was a little worried both kids would be up at night with nightmares.

We had only one moment of worry from Gabe, when we passed one of the haunted scenes, and a girl was trapped in a spider web and a man dressed as a spider circled around her as she screamed for help. I told them over and over that it was just pretend, not real, but Gabe whispered as we passed them, "But Mommy, it's not pretend, it was MOVING." Poor little thing, it took a lot of convincing for him to believe it was a man in a costume.

Luckily, everyone had a great time, no one had any nightmares, and the whole trip was a success. As we were leaving, though, in our final moments at the farm, of course Gabe informed me he had to pee with 30 seconds of anticipation. I ran full speed with him, the stroller and Josie to the bathroom, but just as we opened the door, he said "uh oh" and I turned to see pee spreading across the front of the costume. His non-washable Buzz Lightyear costume. The non-washable WHITE Buzz Lightyear costume we went to multiple different stores to find. Sigh. I wish I could say I had a fabulous parenting moment where I totally kept my cool and didn't freak out or anything, but I'd be lying. I was, for better or worse, really pissed, and ended up yelling most of the way home. Of course, I feel horribly guilty about it now, because logically I know he is only 3, and he hasn't had an accident in months, and he was having such a great time he didn't want to interrupt it by going to the bathroom, but regardless, it was frustrating, and spending the rest of the evening hand-washing his costume and hoping it would survive didn't make things any better.

The costume survived, the night was salvaged, and lesson learned, I will force him to pee when we're doing super fun things, even if he insists he doesn't need to go. The farm was super cute, though, and definitely put us in the mood for more Halloween fun. We've been carving pumpkins, attending costume parties, and of course, tomorrow (or I should say, today) is the big day with tons of candy to be eaten and fun to be had. I'm watching my fill of scary movies, and the kids are eating their body weight in treats.

I'll post costume pictures as soon as possible!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

can 22 month olds have attitude problems?

Um, wow. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to learn that the IRS has determined breast pumps don't fall under a "medical expense," even though acne cream and denture adhesive counts. But I AM surprised. Go ahead, take a few minutes to read the article.

I breastfed my kids for almost 12 months and 18 months, respectively, and it was a huge commitment, both emotionally, time-wise, and financially. A pump, different sized pump pieces, storage bags and more storage bags and more storage bags, not to mention the herbal remedies I purchased to try to increase my supply. I can totally understand why not everyone would want to or be able to breastfeed, because holy smokes, it is very challenging.

I'm shocked, therefore, to find that even though the American Academy of Pediatrics would advise them otherwise, that the IRS wouldn't deem a breast pump worthy of a tax break under the flexible spending plan. I don't think breastfeeding is right for everyone, but I do think it is worth supporting and definitely should be covered as a medical expense. Well, at least my insurance paid for my pump for Josie, and hopefully it'll be covered next time.

In other, totally unrelated news, Josie's repeat hearing test was today and 100% normal hearing! YIPPEEEEEE!

I'm not sure about the balance issues, though, for the last few days she's been falling as much as usual, but I'm still keeping fingers crossed. Speaking of breastfeeding, it apparently didn't help my kids with their ear infections, even though it was supposed to.

She's also had a couple of nose bleeds, which the ENT said must be related to her adenoid spot healing. Isn't that kind of odd? Has anyone else experienced this?

Thanks for the advice on the leash. I'm hoping this is just a stage and she will eventually start listening, or else it is Baby Boot Camp for her. Well, it is probably Baby Boot Camp for her regardless, because this child is a little pistol. During her hearing test, she was pointedly ignoring the audiology technician when she was asking her to look at the puppet or at the light. Finally, without lifting her head, Josie snarled "NO" when the woman asked if she could hear her.

So positive result on the hearing, negative result on the attitude. I am not looking forward to the teenage years, I'll tell you that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

maybe she'll be an olympic sprinter, hopefully not a thief

Folks, I have a problem. Well, I guess I have more than one, but let's focus on the one.

Josie is a bolter. She runs. All the time. Everywhere. And she also doesn't stop when you call her.

One would think the obvious solution is to never let her out of the stroller, and I do agree, this is a reasonable solution and one I employ most of the time. There are times, however, when it is inconvenient or difficult to bring a stroller along. She also has learned how to undo straps and slither out of her stroller, no matter how tight we tie the straps. It is a skill we did NOT encourage.

I try to hold her hand all the time too, but given her propensity for dislocating her elbow, I can't hold onto her hand very tightly, and if she makes her body go slack, I have to let go because I'm so scared of another dislocation. This means that we've had a couple of instances where she was able to get me to let go and then took off running, and that little sucker is FAST.

Tonight, we were walking from the library to the car, and I let go of her hand when library books started sliding out of my arms and she began running straight toward the street. I dropped the books and took off after her, screaming her name, while Gabe tried to grab her dress and pull her down (he's used to trying to stop her). I caught her, but she was close to running into the street. And I FREAKED.

I am always firm about the running. I've tried being calm. I've tried positive reinforcement. I've tried yelling. I've tried talking to her. I've even tried spanking out of desperation. None of it works and I'm at a loss for what to do! This is too serious of an issue for me to mess around with. Running away from me in a store is one thing, but in the street?

Any advice? Thoughts? I do realize this post puts me at risk for my favorite commenter coming out to berate me, but whatever. I need the help! Throw all your ideas at me, please!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

getting into the spirit of things

Ahhh, look! Another week of no injuries! What a relief to be able to post something happy for a change!

We had a lovely weekend of Halloween parties, dinners with friends and family, and a fun little outing to downtown Boston. We loaded the kids onto the train into the city and walked around Boston Common for an hour or so, before loading the kids up and coming back home. It was short, but perfect for a 3 year old and 1 year old who are thrilled with the excitement of trains and hot chocolate. What could be better?

This week I'm just trying to gear up for my all-time favorite holiday, of course! To tell you the truth, I've never been less excited for Halloween, and I suspect it has to do with the events from the past few months. I have been in a constant state of overwhelmedness since June, I think, and it took me forever to find my excitement for bats and witches and pumpkins, oh my! Finally, FINALLY, though, it is here, and I plan on living it up until Sunday night.

Tonight we're all carving pumpkins, and I have Halloween/Fall activities planned for pretty much every day this week. Gabe is thrilled because he's been asking me if he can start celebrating Halloween, um, YESTERDAY. I've clearly been slacking in my parental duties. I literally just ordered Josie's Halloween costume. Oh, the horror! (I'd actually planned on making her costume, but yesterday I finally threw in the towel and admitted it wasn't going to get done. I'm pushing aside the guilt because really, I am cutting myself some slack)

Plus, you guys, Boston is showing her COLORS right now, and it is stunning. Who wouldn't feel autumn happy and Halloween excited?

Do you see the bride with the red balloons in the background? Adorable! Plus, the kids aren't bad either.

Friday, October 22, 2010

maybe I can pretend it is an ornament

The Good News: Josie (fingers crossed) has STOPPED FALLING. I know, I know, too soon to tell, but really, the change has been rather dramatic. I've had several people comment on the change because she is really and truly falling far less than she was. She has even managed to correct herself from falling when she does start to teeter. That never happened. Never.

The Bad News: Of course, another injury. At least it wasn't one of the children! I have to take my blessings where I can get them.

On Friday, I took my parents to Salem, Massachusetts so we could experience some of the Halloween/crazy people who love to roam the streets in the witch trial city. It was surprisingly tame for being only a couple of weeks away from Halloween, but regardless, we had a good time.

At one of the kitschy witchcraft shops we browsed through, they happened to be selling something called "witch's balls." Wikipedia has a better description than I can provide, but it was basically a pretty colorful hand-blown glass ball, with strands of glass criss-crossing the inside of the ball. It looked a bit like a spider web inside, and was rather pretty. The description on the display said that witch's balls were traditionally hung in windows and were thought to attract evil spirits with their beauty and those evil spirits would get trapped inside the strands of glass.

Is it terrible that the first thing I thought was, "Oh geez, I need one of these."? I mean, I think we can ALL acknowledge, we have had more than our fair share of bad luck. Things have been a little bit crazy, a little bit frenzied, a tiny bit STRESSFUL, maybe? I do keep reminding myself that although upsetting and annoying, we have (thus far) avoided serious or long-term illness. It could always be worse. We are very very lucky in so many ways.

Anyway, the glass ball cost $20, which I guess wasn't soooo much money, but it was too much for me to be spending on a random strange superstitious probably piece of junk, so I didn't get it. But I lingered over it, and thought about it, and kept wondering- could it hurt? Why not?

I chuckled over it, laughed a bit with my parents, and then dismissed the glass ball as silly and unnecessary. After Sunday, however, I'm thinking a drive back to Salem may be in order. $20 or not, I'm willing to try anything at this point. Josh called me from work today and said he'd done a survey at the office and 100% of his coworkers said GET THE BALL. My girlfriends said ha ha ha, no seriously. GET THE BALL. My parents said, GET THE BALL. So what the hell. I may end up GETTING THE BALL.

I'll let you know how it goes. I'll also be doing some serious research for house/people cleansings. And buying stock in Percocet. Sigh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

keeping the sanity

Theoretically, if I were thinking about being super pro-active and buying birthday and holiday presents up front, do you have any ideas for the following individuals?
- Four year old boy
- Two year old girl
- Husband who doesn't like anything
I'm thinking maybe Playmobil and Lego stuff for the boy, and doll stuff for the girl? I don't know, she isn't super impressed by dolls yet, to be honest. She likes them fine, but she isn't fawning over them. My gratitude runneth over for your always excellent ideas!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

another day, another ER

Sunday, at his soccer game, Josh dislocated his shoulder.

Yes. Let me give you some time to process that pretty tidbit.

For those of you keeping score, that is 9 traumatic injuries since June. NINE.

I am selling my whole family on Ebay. Clearly, these folks are defective.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We survived!

I will admit, however, the whole day was far worse than I'd anticipated. The preparation and actual surgery weren't as bad as I'd thought they would be, although having to hold her down while they put her under was painful and sad. I found myself fighting back tears when I took the elevator back up to the pediatric floor to meet Josh, but the hour passed quickly and before I knew it, the ENT called me from the operating room to let me know the surgery was a success.

I walked down to the recovery floor and encountered a hysterical baby who continued to scream for the next 4 hours without stopping. Worse still, there was another family on the pediatric ENT floor who was prepped at the same time, went down to surgery at the same time, and sat with us in the surgery waiting room while we waited to be called in to the OR. While I was holding my screaming baby, their baby was wheeled into the recovery room, and STOPPED BREATHING. It was a horrific, terrifying few minutes, while the anesthesiologist screamed at all the nurses and they reintubated him and began a whole series of procedures to get him stable again. I stood in my little cubicle with a screaming Josie in my arms and cried as I thought of his parents waiting upstairs. Parents who had no idea what was happening with their baby.

It was one of those moments, you know? Where you realize that your whole life can change in an instant? The crying was awful and heartbreaking, but things could be SO MUCH WORSE. I was wheeled up to the main floor where Gabe was waiting, and I told Josh the story while we watched the parents through the glass in the waiting room. Another 20 minutes passed before a doctor came up in person to talk to them, and they left to go to a private room where I assume their son was admitted. We stayed for another 3 hours and didn't see them again. I've been sending up some prayers today that their son is safe and sound and totally fine tonight.

Josie has been slowly improving throughout the day, although it has been rough. Lots of tears, a bit of blood, a decent amount of coughing, and complaints of pain. She's finally asleep now, and I'm hoping tomorrow will be way better. Regardless, though, my sweet girl is sleeping peacefully upstairs, safe and sound and healthy, and I couldn't ask for more than that. Thanks for all your positive thoughts!

Monday, October 11, 2010

my sweet girl

I was feeling totally Zen about the surgery tomorrow, until NOW. I'm freaking out a bit and feeling totally anxious and stressed. I think it has quite a bit to do with the fact that I just finished a call with the ENT's pediatric nurse and she gave me all the pre-op instructions and a description of everything that is going to happen.

I know it sounds silly, but as I was rocking her tonight and kissing her forehead, I kept thinking this was her last night with adenoids. Tomorrow she'll be changed for good. Crazy, I know. I've never thought about adenoids before in my life!

I keep telling myself this is all for the better, but right about now, only the reasons NOT to have the surgery are on my mind. Too late to back out now, right?

Sigh. Some positive thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated, pretty please!!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

hopefully, it is the right answer

Over the past several months, I've posted about our ear infection situation. We've had lots. Maybe 10-15 over the last year, probably close to 20 since Josie was born. The obvious answer would be tubes, but the thing is, her ears seem to clear between infections, so she hasn't seemed to be a great candidate for tubes. We've just been hoping she would outgrow the ear infection situation as her ears mature and the Eustachian tubes change position.

On Wednesday, I had an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor because a friend of mine finally pointed out the list of Josie's symptoms that could all point to the same area:
Repeat ear infections
Endless illnesses
Poor weight gain
Severely enlarged tonsils and adenoids (did I mention this?)
Noisy breathing
Loud talking and lots of screaming
Terrible balance (DING DING DING DING)
The doctor looked at my list of symptoms, blinked twice, and asked why we hadn't been referred sooner. Then we did a hearing test, and shock of the century for me, Josie has mild hearing loss. She also tested terribly when it came to fluid in her ears. Apparently her ear drum is totally firm with fluid, even though she hasn't been sick in months.

All of this added up to a scheduled surgery for Tuesday morning to remove her adenoids and put tubes in her ears. I'm not thrilled with this diagnosis, but I do feel relatively peaceful about it. Something has to change. I think we can all agree that the repeat accidents for Josie (the falls, the breaks, the dislocations, the FREAKING stitches), it HAS TO END. The balance situation has to change. None of us can face another winter full of ear infections, pain, crying, and antibiotics. I resisted this as long as I could, and now it is time to face the reality of the situation.

Both Josh and I were shocked and upset by the hearing loss diagnosis, because her speech is so great, we never assumed the ear infections were affecting her hearing. The audiology technician said, however, she never seen a kid with this much hearing loss who didn't have a speech delay. Huh. So who knows what is going on with Josie? Maybe she compensates by yelling, maybe my voice happens to be in the range she hears, maybe she hears as if she is under water? Who knows!

We're pinning a lot of hopes on Tuesday, though. Hopefully we'll have less illnesses, less infections, less screaming, less pain, and please dear G-d, less falls. I'd like for her to stop walking like a drunken sailor, my goodness. It has been almost a full year since she started walking! I'd like to have one afternoon without a near miss accident. I'd also like for her to stop suffering from ear pain and start gaining some weight (she hasn't gained in months).

Now I just have to make it through the actual surgery, which the surgeon said will take about 45 minutes. She'll have to have general anesthesia and be intubated, so I'm a bit anxious, but trying to keep calm about it. She's a tough little girl, so I have no doubt she'll come out of it swinging. Wish us luck, pretty please!

those sedatives she got at the hospital look pretty good

We have remained injury-free for a whopping 4 days, and I am starting to be able to catch my breath again. My shoulders were so tense, they were almost touching my ears over the weekend.

Thankfully, now my parents are visiting too (first time in 10 months!) so I have another 2 sets of hands and eyes to watch out for injuries. Keeping these two kids safe is a multi-person full-time job. My mom keeps asking me breathlessly, "How do you do this alone?" It doesn't help that Josie NEVER STOPS. Never ever, never.

My daily running commentary goes something like this:

"Josie, get down from that chair."

"Josie, don't climb the desk."

"Josie, stop hanging on the oven handles (or dishwasher handles, or fridge handles)."

"Josie, get out of the toilet."

"Josie, stop running. No, stop running. STOP RUNNING!" (rinse and repeat 10,000 times per day)

"Josie, get off the table. Get out from under the table."

"Josie, leave the front door alone."

"Josie, don't climb out of the stroller/high chair/grocery cart."

Did I tell you we call her Houdini? It doesn't matter how or where or what you tie her into, this girl gets out. She is a master at undoing straps and slithering out of any restraint situation. A MASTER.

Just yesterday, she was safely strapped into a restaurant high chair, and my mom had the nerve to say to me, "Oh, she definitely can't get out of this one." Not 5 minutes later, Josie says, "Mommy, look at me!" and she had slid out of the restraints, hoisted herself out of her seat, and was holding herself up over the seat (kind of like a gymnast on the saddlehorse thing) and dangling her body in mid-air.

The thing is, she does all of this in seconds, so if you divert your gaze from her for even a moment, like perhaps when you turn to Gabe to ask him to finish eating his quesadilla, that is long enough for her to climb out of her seat and perform circus tricks.

It is a real gift.

I am really and truly considering getting some kind of harness for her to tie around my wrist, and only the worry that people will think I'm some kind of child abuser keeps me from purchasing it. I'm wondering, though, what if I put a sign on her that says:

One broken wrist.
Two dislocated elbows.
Stitches between my eyes.
My harness keeps me safe and my parents sane.

Or something like that, will people still judge me? I wouldn't change her for the world, but I'm hoping her balance improves as time goes on. I'm also hoping she develops a healthy fear of falling, and SOON.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

if he says "sh*t," then I'll take responsibility, but this time it wasn't me

I'm not sure where Gabe heard it, but we've had some episodes of him saying the word "stupid". It has been a totally incorrect usage, although one time he did call his sister a "stupid dog," but he said it in an affectionate tone. Almost as if he thought it was a term of endearment. Anyway, regardless of the usage, I've made it clear that it isn't a nice word, and is totally unacceptable.

Last night, we were getting ready for bed and he was playing with some little figurines, and one of the men referred to his toothbrush (I know, random) as stupid.

Me: What did you say?

Gabe: I didn't say it, the man did.

Me: Did you say stupid?

Gabe: The man said it, not me.

Me: Remember when we talked about how stupid isn't a nice word and we don't say it?

Gabe: (exasperated) I told you, it was the man.

Me: Well, the man is going to have to go away for a while if I hear that again. We don't say stupid, it isn't nice. It isn't a word we use.

Gabe: I'll talk to the man about it. I'll let you know what he says.