Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

At first, I hated that Hallmark commercial. You know, the one where the mom records the little boy saying Merry Christmas on the card to send to Grandma and Grandpa? Who hates Hallmark?!? I know, I know. But it made me cry, because when they started airing it, Lainie couldn't even say Merry, much less any resemblance of Merry Christmas. So, we started working on the signs.

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

teehee, that makes me happy.
But, then again, so does this oh-so-joyful holiday song:

Oh, and speaking of commercials, I have one more reason to love Target. Did you notice the adorable little kid signing in their Christmas pageant commercials? Ya, they have a new fan...or at least a more dedicated old one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Total raving vent.

Mommies are supposed to fix things. They are supposed to kiss boo-boos and make them all better. A mommy's hug has magical powers and can make even the worst day seem manageable. (beware: poopy talk ahead.)

It's killing me that I can't fix Lainie's problem. I can't fix her health. I can't keep her from getting sick. And even if it was normal childhood ear infections or the such, then we could cope. But diarrhea for 9 weeks and going? Every day she goes 24 hours without a nasty blow-out diaper, I think maybe she's over it. But then she follows it with 5 diarrhea-consistency diapers in a day. Even the docs are stumped. Next step -- tests. Stool samples, blood test, and who knows what else.

Why can't I fix this? Why can't I find a magic solution? Why can't I do some magic googling and find that drinking juice and eating crackers at the same time -- or some equally ridiculously simple combination -- causes uncontrollable chronic diarrhea.

Bright side. I'm trying to see the bright side. She's not getting dehydrated. She hasn't lost weight; she hasn't gained in 2 months, but she hasn't lost. It doesn't slow her down usually, except on the bad days, when she's just drained, literally and figuratively. She still eats.

If Mommy's magic isn't working and Doc is puzzled, then what? Can someone please fix this!

Updated: Today, for the first time, Lainie was too sick to stay at daycare. She had 5 blowouts before noon and was literally standing at the front window, crying for mommy for an hour while I drove home. So, I got her in with a new doctor, with a pediatrician this time. After a 15-minute appointment, the doc said she's 98 percent sure Lainie has toddler diarrhea. Doc almost laughed at my facial expression -- of course she has toddler diarrhea! She's a toddler and she has diarrhea. But apparently Toddler Diarrhea (notice the caps) is an actual illness. It's basically irritable bowel syndrome in toddlers. I "get" to take a stool sample in, just to rule out other causes, but since we've already had our well tested and treated and since she gets sick at my moms and at daycare, this our doc's likely diagnosis. So, with some diet changes, we can hopefully get it to decrease. And, best of all, it's not something that should get worse or inhibit her growth.

Friday, December 5, 2008

On the edge of adulthood

Okay, not really. Katie only thinks she's on the edge of adulthood. At 7, she's got a long way to go.

Seriously, she actually told me that it's confusing to her because some times she feels like an adult and some times she feels like a child, and that's why she isn't sure how to act. Poor girl!

I understand why she's confused. How many times a day is she reminded to be responsible, to take care of her own things, to do the right thing? Think of school time: at this age, they want the kids to learn more and more how to take care of themselves. Altruistic incentives for good behaviors.

Then she comes home and is the oldest child. No matter what, I think that birth order brings with it extra responsibility. Lordy, I try not to, but I hear myself asking her to do things that maybe a child shouldn't have to. It's not so much because she's the oldest; it's because she's so stinking responsible and such a rule-follower. I know she'll tell me the instant Lainie's doing something she shouldn't, while Maggie would encourage the deviant behavior just for fun.

But then, Katie tries to act like a parent. She has started arguing with everything I ask of her or requiring an explanation. She's in the habit of telling Maggie and Lainie what to do, which is sometimes okay and sometimes not. She rarely just acts like a kid.

But rarely doesn't mean never. Every once in a while we get a glimpse of the little girl in Katie, innocently playing dress-up or playing with the Barbies. I guess I just wish we'd see more of that, and worry that we aren't. She's seven. Shouldn't she still be a little girl?

I'm so lucky!

Katie actually admitted to keeping things off her wish list for Christmas because she thought they were too expensive to ask for. Not a wii, people. No, a $40 camera, a $25 pair of shoes, a scrapbook kit she really loved. And she's also the one reminding me we have 2 bags of toys to take to our local equivalent to Goodwill.

Maggie's decided to grow up. Like a light-switch, one day the fits stopped. No more tantrums or arguments when I ask her to do something. She does things without being asked, like making her bed or putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. She spent over an hour last Tuesday reading to Lainie and encouraging her to talk. "Lainie, can you say Barbie? Say Barbie! Good job, Lainie!"

And Lainie is two. It's never an easy age, especially for a minimally-verbal two-year-old. But even she's providing more moments of sunshine than anguish. Yes, she'll still stand defiantly with her little smirk when I ask her to do something she doesn't want to. But she also loves to unload the dishwasher and load the clothes into the washer and help any way she can. And she adores hours of sitting on our laps, reading book after book.

Reading back over this, it sounds like it's all about what chores they do or don't do. It's not that at all. I think I'm just focused on that aspect right now because I'm still freaking out about managing a household of 6. Also, we're so busy right now with holiday activities and school activiites and baby-prep activities that any help I get with the mundance tasks are SO appreciated. I guess my love-language has switched temporarily to acts of service.

And, since my love tank is full with all my wonderful little helpers (and one big helper) helping, I have time and patience and, well, the compassion to stop what I'm doing to fill their little love tanks: Katie's Words of Affirmation, Maggie's Physical Touch, and Lainie's Quality Time.

Now if I can just carve out DH's love tank refill, it will be a happy holidays.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Random bits

Isn't it too soon to have the flu, as in influenza type tbd? Enough said about that.


I love that Katie loves to tell all. It is so darn useful and entertaining. I mean, how many other moms get such a clear portrait into the inner workings of a 7-year-old? I heard all about boys chasing girls and girls chasing boys and the transferring of cooties, aka tag at recess. I used to hear a lot about who was bad in class, and after insisting that is none of my business unless someone hurts her, I now hear who was the best behaved in class. I hear what she had for lunch, whose clothes matched hers, what she did with her free time, what every teacher said to her that day...but I also hear about the stubbed toe, the mismatching outfit, the annoying sister, the other annoying sister, the need to personal space, the need to more interaction, etc, etc. When she was a baby, I joked that Katie was my beautiful little bi-polor baby. It's not as extreme as it used to be, but she still can change her mood like flipping a light switch. And I love that about her.


Maggie's preschool had their Thanksgiving program on Thursday. The class of 8 stood in front of parents and grandparents and recited/sang 3 pieces, then we all ate the pumpkin bread they helped make and looked at their art projects. I can't remember the songs, I can't remember the actions, but I will never forget Maggie's face light up to see both Jay and I there and how proud she was that we were watching her and that is was HER time.


At supper last night, the girls focused their attention on the family pictures in the dining room. Katie made some comment about Lainie's ears looking like an elf, all pointy and big. Then Maggie said something about how beautiful her own picture is and how cute Lainie looked, but too bad Katie's wasn't as good. I told them to both stop and that they were being mean. And, dripping with sarcasm, I said, "well, I guess since Katie's made fun of Lainie and Maggie's made fun of Katie, then it's Lainie's turn to make fun of Maggie." To which Lainie replied, "maaa-eeee hahahahaha" and pointed at Maggie. Yep, without talking coherently, she very distinctly made fun of Maggie.

There is never a dull moment with these three! And around 12 weeks left until we become a madhouse of 6!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Halloween

It's been a while since I've posted any pictures so, here it goes:

Trick or Treating with SIL Jill, neice Raychel, and crazy-K-Stater Daddy.
Ready to hit the road for trick-or-treating. K's missing her fairy-wings

Carving pumpkins the day before. Who woulda thought it'd be 70 degrees on Halloween?!

Not her Halloween costume, but still a cute super-star.

All decked out as Hannah Montana for her preschool party.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She's different.

It's becoming more and more apparent that Lainie isn't up with her peers, speech-speaking. It's to the point that other people are noticing now, even if she isn't signing to us. I don't know how I feel about that. I mean, we knew it was coming, and I've noticed it for awhile. I'm prepared for it; I don't know if DH is. Sometimes I think he still thinks everything is just fine.

Some days she's really cooperative. She loves watching videos that have sign language in them. We watched one about Halloween ( and she immediately applied the signs. When we read Halloween books before bedtime, she did the sign for Halloween (with a "how-ho-heee") and jack-o-lantern ("jaa-oo-laaa") and candy ("an-dee"). But then, she did a lot of "eh-eh-eh"ing yesterday, even when she had the word and sign for what she wanted. Maybe she's just being a two-year-old?

But, I'm having a lot of trouble teaching her big and little when she doesn't have the words. Or her colors. She'll sign them with prompting, but can't point to the red one versus the blue one. (I need to look it up and see what she's supposed to be able to do at 30 months.) I mean, who cares what color a heart is, when you're still waiting to hear "I Love You, Mommy"? She can't say I love you, but she can say "Daddy did it" and "Meanie Mommy" thanks to her sisters' influence.

Then, I also wonder if I'm just super-paranoid. I mean, did I track K and M's development this closely? I think the answer is yes, but their delays were still in acceptable range of normal and were all in motor skills, and for some reason people don't associate intelligence and motor skills. ("Wow! Look at that toddler jump! He's going to be a genius!") I mean, honestly, our society associates speech, both lack thereof or speech impediments, as a sign of intelligence. That probably bothers me more than anything. That, and the fear that she is going to fall behind her peers, because she can't talk to us or that any talking she does do, requires so much effort on her part.

I heard a story of a husband whose wife was diagnosed with Alzheimers. He said that a great peace settled over the entire family once they recognized that his wife was working at full capacity, and that she was only capable of xx now. They stopped getting angry at her, expecting more, thinking she wasn't trying.

As parents, I feel it is partly our responsibility to push our kids, to get them to try harder. But, only to their capacity. I accepted a long time ago (probably before they were born) that my kids weren't going to college on athletic scholarships. That is beyond their capacity. :D Both K and M have already surpassed my expectations for them, academically. So, how do I adjust my expectations to meet Lainie's capacity? Am I expecting too much, or pushing her to improve? Where is the balance?

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Maggie

Tomorrow Maggie turns 5.

Five years ago today, I was on my way to the hospital to be induced, after being on bedrest and then modified bedrest for 2 months. We knew we were having a girl, but we didn't know if she'd be an Emma or a Maggie. We knew she was tough, as she went through a rough couple gestational months with no ill-effects. We didn't know she'd be THAT tough.

Maggie is boisterous, hilarious, loud, creative, intelligent, physical, tough, beautiful, and perfect in every way. She drives me crazy faster than anyone but she makes me laugh more often than anyone, too. She says the craziest things; she loves telling her big sis that "I'm smart because of my naturally curly hair. Your hair is straight." She is smart, reading so amazingly well for her age. She is strong, with little legs with already defined muscles. She will run up to hug you and, not knowing her own strength or density, will knock even her dad on his behind. She's stubborn -- if she wants it, she'll find a way to get it or exhaust herself trying.

Maggie loves yellow. Yellow has been her favorite color for more than 2 years now. But, she's starting to want to wear pink with sparkles, and I don't know if it's because she wants to be big like her sister and so she thinks she needs to dress like her, or if it's because of the girls in her preschool that are pink-girls, or if she's just changing her mind. I think she's just changing her mind, because Maggie isn't one to follow the crowd...

unless they are getting into trouble. Maggie, on her own, will be a perfectly behaved child. She knows the rules and will follow them, unless someone else instigates it. Then, she'll be the second one to join in. It only takes one person to misbehave and she thinks that opens the door for her to get to do it, too. Even last night, as part of the continued battle to get Lainie and Maggie to sleep in the same room, that trait reared it's head again. After 2.5 hours of battling and one fall down the bunk-bed ladder, they finally stopped making each other laugh and fell asleep. Alone, they both would have fallen asleep within a half hour; together, it takes hours.

Maggie fights her her little sister and reveres her older sister. When she gets mad, she has a temper that can scare me (and reminds me of me.) I have seen her pin a kid bigger than her against a door or knock a kid 3 years older than her onto the ground. She gets shaking mad and turns red, but she's learned to control it a little better, as long as she can leave the situation.

Maggie doesn't feel pain like others do. Her tolerance is so high. When she's in pain, her face turns white as can be and the area around her eyes turn red. That's the only way we know she's hurting.

She is an amazing little girl and I can't wait to see her continue to grow and mature into an amazing young lady.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Air quotes McCain

Apparently, McCain can do no right.

It seems he's set off a fire-storm by putting "health of the mother" in air quotes in the recent debates. And, although I'm still not in favor of either candidate, and feel he couuld have handled his response better, I feel I should explain his response, on behalf of pro-lifers everywhere.

Partial birth abortion is the specific procedure to which he was referring. In a partial-birth abortion, labor is induced. The baby, often in the third trimester, is born feet first; in fact, they'll turn the baby breech if s/he's not already in that position. Then they deliver the baby up to the head. They inject a syringe into the base of the skull and suction out the brain stem. Then they deliver the rest of the baby. Why? Because if the baby takes a breath, they are required to let it live. If it takes a breath and they kill it then, it's murder. But as long as it doesn't take a first breath, it can be killed and called an abortion. And for the record, 80 percent of babies that this is done on are perfectly healthy. It used to be called "version & breech delivery."

Now, can anyone ANYONE out there give me a real-life example of this help the health of a mother in some way? In what situation would it be easier, physically, for a women to undergo this proceedure, rather than just deliver the baby and hand it over to the authorities? Because at this point, the abortion doctors in my state (who are currently being investigated) are using the mental health of a mother as sufficient reason, up to 36 weeks gestation. They say that it's too hard emotionally for a mother to give up a baby, but an abortion -- that doesn't hurt them emotionally. And as a birthmother who gave up a baby, I take issue with that.

I'm not even stating that abortion needs to be illegal at all stages. I do understand the medical reasons one might be necessary, at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 20 weeks, 25 weeks gestation. But 33 weeks? 35 weeks? Come on.

So, yes, McCain should have done without the air quotes, but using the health of a mother as the justification behind partial birth abortions is just bull. Plain and simple.

Prove me wrong. I listen to research, to reason. Convince me otherwise.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let the nesting begin!

I can't say if I'm nesting, really, because it doesn't seem accurate to start nesting at 22 weeks. Maybe I know that, in 15-18 weeks, I won't feel up to the heavy cleaning that I'm doing now. Or, maybe it's just me freaking out at the idea of having 4 kids to organize. The caring for, loving, snuggling, attention-giving ... I'm ready for that. It's the "where are my shoes" and "what do I wear today" and that books and toys scattered everywhere that are freaking me out.

So, I cleaned out our entry closet. All too small shoes from that closet and from both kids' bedrooms' closets have been moved to a spare closet. (Dude, my house has nothing if not closets!) The same with all jackets and coats. All winter mittens, scarfs and hats are in a quilt bag -- you know, the zipper ones that new quilts and comforters come in -- and stored away. And the shelves have been cleaned off, leaving Katie, Maggie, and Lainie each with their own designated shelf for their shoes and a designated hook for their jackets and coats.


All toys -- ALL toys -- and books have been removed from Katie and Maggie's room, and the toddler bed moved in there. And then, Lainie moved in there. Her clothes are still in her room, but I need to get her transitioned to sleeping in their room before the baby comes. I know it's possible to have an older child and newborn share a room, but I don't want to make any of the girls lose out on that sleep. And while it doesn't work for everyone or every newborn, all three of our girls have slept in the crib from day one. So, now the baby's room is vacated (pending Lainie's successful transition to the big girl room) and ready for me to attack that space.


There is a room in the basement with unfinished sheetrock that we call the office. Well, I call it the room-with-the-potential-to-be-the-office. I need to encourage DH to finish the walls in that room and move the desks to the basement. Then I can move the office from the main floor to the basement. That will let Lainie ride her bike and play in a bean-filled sandbox while I'm working from home. And, even better, the current office space will become a room for Katie and Maggie. The plan is for it to have a desk for their art supplies (Katie: "art center"), 3 bookshelves of books (Katie: our library), and Katie's beanbag chair and Maggie's birthday present (Katie: "our reading center). (Katie loves HGTV!) Also, all annoying toys that aren't toddler friendly, like those blasted polly pockets, are to be kept in and played only in that room. It'll be off-limits to Miss Lainie and the baby. Deadline: ASAP, please.


Clean my room out. Organize all baby clothes, size 0-18 months. Clean and purge the laundry room. Attack the play room closet.

Got any other ideas? How to be organized? Fall cleaning? Reassurance on mothering 4?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

And the game plan is...

After months of discussions and gathering information about resources available, we have a plan for Lainie...if she can get in where we want her to. She "graduates" from infant-toddler services when she turns 3, so we need to get something in place before then. Her speech therapist is going to recommend her for the early intervention preschool through our district, which is at Katie's school. They accept kids the semester they turn 3, so she can start in January. If accepted, the bus will come to daycare and pick her up and will take her back there afterwards. And, one little girl from daycare is going to attend at the same time, so she'll have a friend to ride with. By doing it the same day as daycare, I won't feel guilty about sending her (as much). The hope is that by getting her in that setting, she'll realize she needs to talk/sign for everyone like I can get her to talk/sign for me.

In addition, there is a speech teaching program at the university that Lainie should qualify for. (Think of it this way -- kids with a speech impediment get accepted there, and she's way beyond that...she doesn't have words at all, much less pronounces them correctly.) That will give her the speech boost to keep progressing. We will have to drive her to the appointments at least once a week, and we have to pay for these services...maybe. My insurance will pick up a portion, and I'm supposed to contact a parent advocacy group that will fight my district to pay for it, since they are not providing the services they are supposed to within our district.

There is a speech program at the preschool, sort of. There was a big shake-up and last year's speech therapists all resigned and were replaced with a new group that the state licensing board says aren't yet qualified to be speech therapists here. I wouldn't have (as much of) a problem sending her there for speech if we were just talking about a speech impediment, but her situation is just more severe than the average kindergartener.

So, we have a plan. The load will (hopefully) be off of me to teach and push her, at least by the time the baby arrives. Now we just need some prayers said that this is the right path and that she gets accepted into the programs and I can let this one worry go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's in an name?

A lot! At least, that's how it feels today.

Lainie said her name. After 8 months, she can say her own name again. She was saying it for about a month before the seizures. Every night we'd pass her picture on the stairs and she'd say 'Lainie' clear a can be. Then after the seizures, she'd just say "eh."

For at least four months (if not all 8), I've been working with her, getting her to say Lay, then Nee and trying to get the sounds put together. Months of effort and (honestly) disappointment. I wanted my little girl to be able to say her own name, her first name.

And now she can!

Ironically, with all the down feelings of last week, I was also feeling really tired of working with her on her speech. And then I thought she's probably tired of being asked, "can you say ____?" And so I decided Saturday I wouldn't pester her at all or work with her or make her say the words or sign when she wanted something. It was going to be a day off for us both. But then, I still heard myself saying, out of habit, "use your words!" And I saw Lainie using her signs without any encouragement.

And the day after our day off, I heard her beautiful name! It's one of the best sounds in the world.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Where There is Hope...

I feel like I'm going into that dark area again, where my thoughts are dark and my day dreams are nightmares of every bad scenario imaginable. I know why, and I debated posting this, because it turns other peoples suffering into all-about-me. But, darnit, this is my blog, my therapy, and nobody's probably reading it anyway! So...

On Sept 2 my cousin delivered a little girl at 29 weeks gestation. She is named Hope. In addition to being premature, Hope has a rare birth defect that caused only 25 percent of her brain to form. She is able to breath, suck, look around. But she has a life expectancy of 6-12 months.

On Sept 3, a friend delivered a little girl at 28 weeks gestation. Her name is Ellie. She is doing well, but every day comes with the struggle of breathing and eating, digesting and pumping that little heart.

And these are just the two babies struggling right now. Two of thousands going through similar struggles, I am sure, but two that I know. Add to that list the babies born to friends/family in the past two years who have had fatal heart defects, abdominal wall not formed and organs outside the body, born at 26 weeks gestation, and a mitochondrial-related disease that prevented brain growth. Add to that Lainie's scare last January.

All that is background to say I'm scared, nervous, worried, prepared and maybe expecting the worst with this pregnancy. I have had this feeling from the get-go that something what not right. We made it through the first ultrasound, and baby had a heartbeat. We made it through 3 1/2 months of cramping with no spotting, and I'm still pregnant. I'm dealing with the sharp pains I get routinely now, hoping they are just strategically placed kicks. But, man, I'm dreading that ultrasound on October 8. I'm dreading it, but I need it. I need to see on that screen a fully developed brain, closed abdominal wall, thumb-sucking, 4-chamber heart, and everything else as it should be. I do not need nor want to see if it's a boy or girl -- that SO doesn't matter to me.

And I know that even if everything is okay now, it could still turn sour and there is nothing I can do about it. It's out of my control. I even considered calling Doc today and begging for an earlier ultrasound, but if something is wrong, what good is it going to do to find out now instead of 3 weeks from now? What would that change?

A friend of mine once said they were done after their son was born because she was so scared that they wouldn't be as lucky as to have a perfectly healthy baby if they tried again. She said it'd be selfish to ask God for another miracle. I didn't understand that rationale, then, but I sure do now. This is our last, for so many reasons, but also because I am too too aware of everything that can go wrong and too aware of how fragile and how lucky I am to have three beautiful healthy daughters. I'm just hoping and praying for a beautiful healthy little baby...just one more.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The big question

You know, perspective is a might thing.

In the past month, one cousin lost his wife in a car accident. Another cousin has welcomed her new daughter, born at 29 weeks, only to find out she has a terrible birth defect that results in a life expectacy of 6-12 months. A friend is also spending her days at the NICU with her daughter, born at 28 weeks, coping with all the daily struggle that entails. And a coworker just lost his dad to cancer.

Sometimes it gets so hard to understand it all. It also seems easier when it's happening to you, because you don't have time to think about "why me?" or "why is this happening?" You only have time to get up, to face the new day and whatever challenges come with that day. You barely have time to think of the what-ifs, and you push the what-ifs to the back to conserve your energy for that day.

But when it's happening to someone else near you, you have the time to think about the whys. Why did this happen to them? Why did this happen at all? What's going to happen long-term? What can I do to help?

Another friend (sorry for the ambiguity) attended a funeral recently of a former student, who committed suicide. At the funeral, the minister said we are all sitting around here asking why...why did God let this happen. And he said that maybe, sometimes, we are like a impetutious toddler asking a parent why why why. And eventually the parent responds with "Because I said so." And maybe that's God's only answer for us.

But my friend took that a step further, because her usually answer to her son is just "because." And sometimes that's all we need. Sometimes the answer is too big for us to understand or too complicated or too painful to try to explain. Sometimes we just have to settle with "because."

Turning a little selfish, last fall this time I couldn't walk upright. My arms were too weak to type, much less hold my daughters. I couldn't complete a sentence without stumbling over the most simple words. I couldn't see clearly, and I had constant ringing in my ears. I felt I was slowly disintegrating. And I spent a lot of time asking why. Now, a year later, we still don't know why I was shutting down. But I know that I'm better now, that it all seems just a memory, and that I am changed for the better.

I hope and pray that all those going through suffering right now, especially those near and dear to me, can look back in a year, think of these tragic times as just a memory, and be happy with the progress made. And find peace, even without knowing why.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Big Fat List

Sometimes, I've got to stop and smell the roses. So here's a list of what L can say, at 28 months of age,...

with signs:
  • more
  • eat
  • drink
  • milk
  • juice
  • toast
  • pancake
  • hurt
  • all done
  • diaper/potty
  • watermelon
  • sorry
  • love
  • ni-night
  • book
  • pray
  • baby
  • airplane
  • rhino
  • bird
  • bye-bye
  • bath
  • wash hands
With words:

  • Hi
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Katie (Tatie)
  • Sissie
  • Me
  • I do (it)
  • ni-night
  • Banana ('nana)
  • Shoe
  • Toothbrush (doobuuu)
  • Thank You (tankoo)
  • Baby (bu-bu-bu-beee)
  • Duck
  • Pretty (pit-tee)
  • Fish (ffiieeee)
  • Puppy
  • Car
  • Suzi
  • Tractor
  • Two
  • Aqua
  • Car cart (grocery cart with a car attached)
  • Quite a few names (Blaine, Jorja, Kara, Sue, Papa, Maama, Jill, Derek, Caca for Walleta)
  • And animal sounds (a monkey's ooo-aaa, hiss, moo, squeak, baaa, ne-eigh, quack)
And you know that theory/fact that kids can only develop one area at a time, so they either talk or walk first? Well, I think that L is picking up motor skills a lot faster than I remember her sisters doing it. It's like she knows talking is just too hard, so she'll concentrate on fine and gross motor skills. I don't know completely if I believe it myself yet, but it could be the case. I mean, she can undress herself, unload part of the dishwasher, almost put her shoes on, and unlatch the child gate. And all while insisting "I doo."

And the best part: I've almost stopped comparing her to her peers and am just comparing her to herself. She's making progress, and that's what's important! She's stubborn and strong and smart, and she'll learn her new way to talk, eventually!

Monday, August 25, 2008

My baby is 7!

K turned 7 yesterday. It seems so strange, to see her growing up so quickly. Some days I look around and feel like I'm playing house, like I'm way to young to have three daughters and a mortgage and car payment. But it also seems like my girls have always been here, like 8 years ago never existed.

K is a sweet sweet child. She is very considerate of others feelings, almost to a fault. She loves to dance and perform but has some stage fright. (who doesn't!) She is beautiful, exquisite in my eyes. She has a freckle on her ankle that she's had since birth. She is missing more front teeth than she has, with another one lose, and she loves it! She giggles softly, no matter how hard she's laughing. She tries hard to be kind all the time and she rarely whines. She does throw little drama queen routines and will say, on occasion, that it is the worst day ever of her whole life. She's pretty darn healthy, having outgrown her ear infections, and most of her asthma and allergies. She loves to read and is good at it. She trips on math, but fights hard for it. She loves to draw and paint and do crafts. She says she wants to be an archeologist when she grows up. Or maybe a fashion designer. Or maybe a famous singer. She loves her sisters but gives into them too much. She craves one-on-one time with Jay or I, and we make sure she gets it. She needs hugs some times, but usually prefers to sit next to you. She is short-ish for her age and has long skinny legs, but worries that her belly is fat. She is perfect in every way, says me.

Happy Birthday to my biggest girl.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to school!

It's a big day in our house. BIG, I tell ya! HUGE!

DH is starting a new job with a new district with new students and new families and new curriculum. And from his email from moments ago, I'd say he's having a stellar day. He's excited about the year and especially about the students in his classes. Oh, I hope this works out well for him!

K is starting her first day of second grade. Not only does she have the teacher she was hoping for, but she has the classmates I was hoping for. There are three other sweet, respectful, kind-hearted, clean-mouthed little girls in her class. They are all her friends from other activities, but they weren't in her class last year. There aren't any super-duper-take-charge girls in there this year, so hopefully it'll be a chance for K and her friends to have their turn to lead the roost, safely.

M is now the big-girl-at-daycare. She was having a hard time letting K go, and kept saying how she is going to miss her. M acts so tough so much of the time that she hides how emotionally drive she actually is. Poor little chica! I'm guessing our most-wondrous-daycare is making it all better. And, thankfully for her, it's only a half-day today for K and M and DH.

And L, oh my oh my! She's doing so well! She's saying "I do it" a LOT now, instead of just screaming at us when we try to do it for her. She's babbling with consanants always now and is picking up words as fast as her "sissies" can force them on her. From this weekend, zoo, boom-ba, yaaay, hiya, and a handful of others I can't think of right now. I'm most excited about a real, official three-word-phrase spoken. She can sign two and three-word phrases, and she will say "Hi ___insert name here___" which counts as a spoken two-word phrase. But this is a big step upward.

And on Wednesday she goes to see the ENT to see if she needs tubes in her ears. I've hesitated, for some unknown reason, but she's had 3 ear infections in 4 months, and before than 4 months solid of fluid behind her ears. So, maybe it's time. We'll let Doc decide.

So that's our big day for our house. How are yours doing?

Monday, August 4, 2008

One more time...

When I was in seventh grade, I decided I would be a writer someday and have four kids and live in the country. Well, I write quite a bit for work, but not the type of writing I envisioned. We do live in the country, in a beautiful part of Kansas. And, as of February, God-willing, we will be the proud parents of four kids.

My friends who are "done" told me that you just know when your family is complete. This pregnancy has been painful, thus far. I haven't eaten much, until just recently. But it hasn't been THAT bad...only vomiting once, no crazy surgery like Lainie's pregnancy. Despite that, I know I am done. In fact, if I could skip ahead to, say, December, I'd be all for it.

I'm so excited to have our fourth child, to add another sibling to our home, to our family. But I am not excited to experience the pregnancy symptoms again. I think that's the sign that this is our last one.

So, if this is our last one, shouldn't I be savoring each moment? Enjoying each little symptom? I can't; I don't have time. I've got three kids to take care of, a job to maintain, and a DH to help when I can.

There will be time enough for savoring when the baby's delivered! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

If English doesn’t work…

One of the reasons we’ve been working so hard on signing is the frustration L has at meal time. For example, at supper on Sunday, I fed the girls strawberries, grapes, and pineapple. Usually pineapple is too strong a flavor of L, so I didn’t put any on her plate. But, she saw her sisters’ plates and saw she didn’t get something they had. She fussed and hollered and turned at the kitchen and pointed. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I thought she just didn’t want to eat or wanted down. Ten minutes later, I finally figured out that she wanted pineapple. Pine-app-le. Three syllables that would make our mealtime a lot easier.

And when it comes to drinks, she can tell us she’s thirsty (pointing to her mouth with one finger), and she can say jooooo for juice or sign milk (squeezing her fingers like milking a cow.) But water, we’ve been stumped. Now, let me digress by saying that we also using Spanglish randomly in our house, or more accurately, Dora-Spanish. Water is as often agua as it is water. And, apparently, “agua” is easier for L to say than “water” because, thank the Lord, she started saying AGUA last night! One less frustration point to overcome.

Then, to add to her cuteness, she started saying “okiedokie” and “e-i-e-i-o” this weekend. She’ll sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, or at least parts of it. She’s got the EIEIO down, and can do the quack-quack of a duck. If we say doggie, we’ll get some sort of wowowow with a leg-slap (sign for dog) to go with it. Cow’s say meeeee in her world, even though she says “two” clear as day. So, L’s version of Old MacDonald is as unique as she is…and just as entertaining.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A girl named Sue

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but L was ahead of her age, in regards to communication. Last year this time, when she was about 14 months, she would say her own name clear as can be. Every day, when I tucked her in for naptime or bedtime, we walk past a wall of portraits, including her own. She would always name each one, pointing to herself and saying her name. She hasn't said it since January 9.

This month, our assignment was to work on the "S" sound. Our speech gal also recommended that we make it part of our routine, like before bed we work on a sound or after we brush our teeth we make a sound. So, I started out by playing a game every time I changed her diaper. I'd ask L, "What's the snake say? The snake says ssssss." Then, as I made the ssss sound, my hand would weave like a snake to her belly and tickle her. By the second day, L was making the sssss sound for me, so that I would tickle her.

We also practiced saying Sissie, which is the only name L will call M. (I think she can say M's name, since she can make all the sounds and never said it pre-seizure. I think she just chooses not to.)

And then, two nights ago, while I was putting L to bed, I asked her if she could say "Sue". Sue is her middle name, one she hears a lot. The first two attempts were "dooo" and then she stopped, took a breathe, and slowly said sssssssue. Lots of clapping and cheering and smiles later, she's said it a few times since then.

Yay! A new word! And a pretty big word at that. She cannot remember how to say her first name, but at least she has her middle name now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Daddy means fun, mommy means what?

Why is it that daddy always gets the fun side of things? Even though J stays home with the girls during the summer, even though he is their primary caregiver and disciplinary while I'm at work, they still associate daddy with the fun stuff and me with the work.

But on the (somewhat) bright side, I also get the serious discussions already. K asked me about boyfriend/girlfriend just a couple weeks ago. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I calmly answered her questions:
Yes, some kids your age talk about having boyfriends, but it's not the same
thing as high school or grown-up boyfriends. What's the difference? In grade school, it just means that you think they are really neat and fun to play with, and there should be no kissing or touching. It's probably better right now to just be friends with the boys rather than call it boyfriend/girlfriend. And please, if you have any more questions, come ask me! That's what I'm here for!
When I recapped the conversation with J and asked him if he wanted to talk to her about it a little more, his mouth said "no, it sounds like you got it covered" but his eyes said "please oh please don't make me talk about that with her! Not yet! NOOOOOOO!" heehee did we get here already! And any advice on what to say and what NOT to say? Did I screw anything up, based on what you read above? Advice appreciated!!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Big Day for L, Big Day for Us

Today L told us about how she felt.

This morning when she woke up, L told me she loved me. She didn’t say it; she’s a long ways from that. But she signed it for the first time without me initiating it or showing it to her. It melted my heart.

Then tonight, she was crying after I put her to bed. I went back upstairs to take care of her and I asked her what was wrong. She put her first fingers together (“hurt”), pointed to her teeth, and then clenched her hand and pulled it away from her face (“angry”). I said, somewhat shocked, “Your teeth hurt and that makes you mad?” She nodded, and any stamina I had at making her cry it out flew out the window. A dose of ibuprofen and a 15-minute rocking session, and all was better.

And, not as monumental, but today at lunch she wanted another desert breadstick. I told her she needed to ask for more, so she touched her fingers together ("more") then used one hand to 'butter' the other ("toast"). Not only is she using her signs, but she's expanding their meaning to get her point across.

My baby is (re)learning how to communicate!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

Why is it that strangers always find the one feature about your child and draw attention to it? For L 's first year and a half, we struggled with her growth. She just kept falling off the growth charts in height and weight. So what did we hear all the time? ohhh, look at that tiny little thing! She is awfully petite, isn't she? Are you sure you're feeding her enough? It's not limited to L ...with K, people would ask at least once a week, "Can't she walk? How old is she? Shouldn't she be walking by now?" I mean, seriously. Is it any of their business?!

I thought I'd grown callussed to these brainless, seemingly-benign-but-hurtful comments, until this week. The girl at the gas station said about L, "Wow, she really is a quiet one, isn't she?" I just smiled. "I mean, I've never heard a girl her age so quiet." Again, I said nothing, but nodded. "Why is she so quiet? Is she tired? Is she alright?" Seriously, woman. Do you want the full explanation! But no, I just said, "she doesn't say a lot." And left it at that.

What was I supposed to say? She used to talk, but then she had this nasty cluster of seizures that broke her speech. She says lots of sounds, but no end consanants. She jabbers, but only in vowels. She's really learning signs quickly and is now saying two-word phrases in signs. But you won't know what she's saying, because YOU don't read signs. This week she said "ungry" which we think meant hungry but could have meant angry, because she was mad that supper wasn't ready yet. Either way, we were just excited to hear the -ngr- sound, because that's a pretty advanced sound. But no, she won't say it now. It was a one-day thing. But the speech therapist says in two years, you probably won't even know she ever was in speech, she'll be talking so well. And maybe, just maybe, at that point, people like you won't say anything about her to make her (or myself) more self-conscious.

And I think that's what bothers me. L listens like a 3-year-old. She understands a thousand times more than she can say. She knows that the girl at the gas station was asking why she was different. And she seemed sad and extra quiet the rest of the day. And that, ladies and gents, makes me angry. Angry at the situation, angry at unintentional people. Just angry. And frustrated. But after that fact, I calmed down. And I think how lucky we are that this is the only stumbling block L needs to overcome right now.

Oh, and we weren't the only victim of thoughtless comments. My SIL is feeling guilty about the weight her newborn, R, lost during the first two weeks, when nursing seemed to be going well but in fact there just wasn't any milk. R went from 7 pounds 7 ounces, to 5 pounds 14 ounces. She's gained it all back now and is thriving. But when we walked in a convenience store, the clerk gushed about how tiny she was. "Oh, she's just itsy bitsy! How old did you say she was? She's just a wee thing! I've never seen one so petite!" Seriously, one was bad enough, but going on and on like that. ick.

So, for future reference, you're best off limiting comments about infants and toddlers to "what a cute baby" or in the case of not-so-cute babies, "what a cute outfit" or "what beautiful eyes." And leave it at that. Please. Pass it on.

Monday, June 23, 2008


My mom always told me, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So, I've been silent. To sum up:

  • My mom was in the hospital and will eventually need part of her intestines removed;
  • My oldest caught the stomach flu, again. She also had bloody diarrhea for 3 days last week;
    My middle daughter smashed her finger and ended up having to get a whole burned in her nail to release the pressure. Then, in an unrelated minor wound, she bled all over my bathroom, much more than she should of, resulting in a third call to the doctor this week;
  • A recent business trip left me stranded in airports for 24 hours total, between the trip there and the trip home;
  • Our truck got flipped by a tornado while I was on the trip. And I only parked it there because they were painting the parking lot where I normally would park;
  • Our water heater broke;
  • Our lawn mower broke;
  • The lawn mower we borrowed from my BIL broke; and
  • our account isn't as happy as I'd like it.

Yes, a lot of crappy stuff. But, then I got three doses of persective, back-to-back:

A dear friend of mine has had her children taken away from DCFS. She took her almost one-year-old to the ER, after she had unexplained bruises show up while at daycare. Child services were called in and, after a couple hours of interviewing the parents, decided to take the three kids away pending investigation. I know this couple. They didn't hurt their children. And now, they are looking at more than a month (or much worse) to fight to get the kids back to them. What is WRONG with our government!

My DH and I drove through the critically damaged areas of our region, where the tornado damage was the worst. We're talking brand-new houses just leveled. Ah, what's a truck. We have our house.

And, sadly, a woman who was inspirational to me has passed away, losing her battle to cancer. She was a breastfeeding consultant at the hospital where our girls were born, and was awesome at it. She was a wonderful person, and just like that, she's gone. And as her battle with cancer ends, another's battle begins. A co-worker's 5-year-old daughter is starting her battle against leukemia. Oh, how I despise cancer with every cell in my body. It takes so many wonderful people away from us, and changes lives in an instant.

Lawn mower, smawn doesn't matter. It's hard to remember that when life's little details just keep compounding again and again and it gets to be a heavy load. But at least I'm here to carry the load. And my mom's here for me to call and ask advice. And my girls are home for me to hug and kiss and take to the park. And I have a wonderful husband whose holding my hand through it all.

Perspective means changing your point of view. When you're taking pictures, it means getting down lower or getting up higher, or just moving. Maybe when they say we need some perspective, it means we need to try to see our lives from a higher up view. What do our lives look like to someone who is already in heaven? What's really important? And how can we remember to search for that perspective when day-to-day gets so crazy?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A good problem to have

M is addicted to reading. Seriously, she spends hours reading book after book, uninterrupted. I ask her to help unload the dishwasher, and she walks to the kitchen slowly, reading as she goes, hopefully not running into the door frame on her way. We finally had to remove all books from her room, as she'd spent an hour or more reading each night before actually falling asleep. We went to a birthday party, and she went to the child's bedroom and read books.

So what's the problem? She's 4. She won't be 5 until next October. Her next year in preschool is kindergarten prep, which means they'll be introducing letters. She already knows letters. She's reading first-grade level books. We didn't teach her this, either. She taught herself, by eavesdropping while we were teaching K.

I'm sure other parents have this problem too. I never believed them, really, when they'd say their 4-year-old knows how to read, in the same way people give us that disbelieving look when we tell them. "Surely she's just memorized the books." Nope. Her big sister taught her to read.

Again, so what's the problem? Well, it's two-fold. One, M is not the type of child who will behave when bored. In fact, she has trouble behaving at any time. She just likes to push it as far as she can and see what consequences befall her. Thankfully, we know her teacher next year and we know her teacher will push her forward and keep her occupied. But after that? Who knows? And socially, emotionally, M is at pre-school age. She needs to be with that class, and I wouldn't consider letting her skip a grade. So, how can you keep her challenged, keep her disciplined, when learning time is a review for her?

The other problem is she's not socializing with us. She'd rather be by herself reading 24-7. We force her to go outside, to be active, to burn off some energy, to do SOMETHING. My friend is a high school teacher and sponsor for the quiz-bowl teams. We had a long discussion about our children being smart or being socially-inept-smart. Is Maggie leaning toward socially-inept? So what do I do? Do I let her read all the time? Or force her to put down the books? And do you know how odd it is to tell your preschooler to stop reading? It's like asking Bobby Flay to stop grilling your steak!

I could use all the help and advice I can get!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A picture lasts forever

I'm a picture fanatic. I feel lost if I haven't pulled out the camera at least once a week and snapped some photos of the girls. (Hmmm, maybe that's why all three of them are so good at "CHEEZ" whenever a camera is near!) I don't post them here because I'm not quite comfortable sharing that with you all, but I have beautiful girls. Trust me. :)

But why do I love pictures so much? Because it's nearly impossible to remember exactly how someone looked 5 years ago. Because I don't ever want to hear "why are there all these pictures of K but no pictures of me?!?!" in 20 years. Because when my girls have kids, I want them to have pictures to compare themselves to their babies. Maybe it's because there is only one picture of my mom as a little girl.

I didn't think I'd see the benefit of all these pictures until the girls were much older, but already it's come in handy. M was a little jealous of all the attention and fuss over L on her 2nd birthday. She kept asking about her 2nd birthday, but in a guilt-inducing way: "Did I get balloons on MY second birthday?" "Did you make me a duck cake for MY second birthday?" "Did I get a turtle sandbox for MY birthday?"

After about the 5th question, I got the hint and sat down with M, her baby book, and her photo album. I showed her exactly what we did to celebrate her 2nd birthday, complete with a Dora the Explorer Wilton-type cake. Dude, it took me 2 hours to decorate M's 2nd birthday cake. Yes, I did adequately fuss over M on her 2nd birthday, just like I adequately fussed over L on her 2nd birthday. If anyone has need to complain, it's K, who's birthday parties were derailed twice due to medical emergencies, including a 2nd birthday party that got moved to the maternity ward. But that's another story.

The point is, without all those daily pictures, I wouldn't have remembered all the details that are already important to M. What would I remember in 5 years? Probably nothing. But that's okay, because this photo-crazy mama has plenty of evidence to help her remember.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If only I'd known

One of my co-workers is expecting her first baby and they hosted a shower for her last week. I gave her (among other things) a make-your-own-wipe kit and explained how wonderful it is. It's something I wish I'd known about when my oldest was born and it got me thinking...what things do I wish I had known, or wish that everyone would know about? Here's my list of top 5:

1-Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's an awesome book, whether you are TTC or not. I wish I had know that much about my body and how it functions, and I wish I had known it in high school. Oh, the irrational, ignorant fears I could have alleviated! Honestly, I want my girls to read it when they are in high school, or at least the teen version I just heard about. Or maybe junior or senior year of high school, due to some of the content, but I want them to read it.

2-Bradley's Method AND epidurals. I wish everyone knew ALL their options going into childbirth and didn't make preconceived notions of what was right or wrong. I have had 4 epidurals and they are great. It's so relaxing to give birth without pain. BUT I did enjoy (yes, enjoy!) the labor with my youngest, when I didn't get the epidural until I was complete. I wish I would have held out just a little longer. It's more than empowering; it just felt right. Next time around, I don't want the epidural even offered.

3-Homemade wipes. I turned my nose at the idea at first, because all the "recipes" I'd seen contained witch hazel, and I hate that smell. It brings back icky memories of newly pierced ears in junior high. But the recipe I have been using for (wow!) 5 years now contains Baby Magic (or Johnson's, but it doesn't smell as good) Creamy Baby Oil and smells so nice! It's convenient, it's gentler on newborn's sensitive skin, it's cheaper, and it's easy.

4-Breastfeeding is so worth it. Fight through the painful start. If needed, take fenugreek or whatever other herbal supplement I took, to increase your production. If you don't need your production increased, freeze, baby, freeze. Stock that freezer full! (If you have too much and it's going to go bad, then donate it to a local milk bank at a children's hospital. They use it for preemies.) Do what it takes to make breastfeeding work, because it is so worth it. But don't feel guilty about feeding formula. It works, too. It's just not as awesome an experience as breastfeeding.

5-Run. Walk. Jog. Swim. Whatever. Make time to exercise, as soon as you feel up to it. While pregnant, with a new baby, when you're 50! It will make you feel more energized, more peaceful, and healthier. Truly, it's worth it. Make your significant other help you make time to do it. But find the time. It's like serenity-in-a-bottle, only healthier.

And just so you know, I'm not much of a nuts-and-granola kinda gal. But keeping an open mind about new ideas has really improved my parenting... and my sanity!

Monday, May 5, 2008

So what follow-up

By the way...

L has learned a few new signs this week, so now she knows and uses: milk, drink, eat, more, help, ice cream, cookie, pancake, toast, and apple.

It took 5 days of riding her tail, but M has done a turnaround with her behavior. No complaints from preschool or daycare, and she earned all 5 minutes (per day) of Webkinz time for Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.

And speaking of Webkinz, K spent her Webkinz time this week earning money. She doesn't want to be that "broke" she says. :-)

And DH's massive garden resulted in massive covering-up-of-plants Saturday night as temps dropped to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It looks like they all (or almost all) made it okay, so he's a happier camper now too.

L's birthday

L's birthday party was Saturday. Fittingly this year, we had postponed it a week, since she was too sick last week to be much of a hostess. But my oh my was it worth the wait. We bought her a sandbox but it was too cold to play outside and we haven't bought the sand yet, so I filled it partially with beans and left it in our kitchen. The 2-year-old crew played there most of the time. Hoping for warm weather, I also bought lots of bubble stuff and her daycare provider gave her a bubbling cow (awesome gift, btw). So the older kids braved the wind and headed outside to load the air with bubbles. We blew bubbles as much as we dared inside, but I didn't want the floor to get too slick or wet.

L loved it! She loves attention, so it wasn't a big surprise that she enjoyed this day, but I was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. She had this beautiful grin on her face most of the day. When we sang Happy Birthday to her, she just grinned and looked around the room happily. And when she was playing, she would randomly weave through the crowd and run up to me for a big hug, then motion for down to run back to her friends. It was like she knew everyone was there just for her and she was telling me thanks for arranging it. Sometimes I think she can perceive things bigger than life. It's kind of like when she came out of the hospital. She was the happiest child ever. NOTHING made her sad. She walked around laughing and running from room to room for almost a week. The doctor's best guess, and I like this guess, is that maybe she somehow knows how close she came to not being here with us and is just so damn happy to be home?

Along that thought, this birthday was even more sweet. I caught myself a couple times thinking how grateful (not strong enough of a word) that we even got to HAVE a birthday party for her. Things could have turned out much worse. I think that's why both sets of grandparents made it to the party, because we're all a little more grateful for our time with her. And if only we could remember that feeling...if we could ALL remember that feeling...then maybe we wouldn't mind the whiny mornings or sleepless nights quite as muchn and would always remember to prioritize the right way?

Me? I'm going to stop replaying in my mind the image of her seizing uncontrollably and turning blue. I'm going to work really hard at replacing that image with the little movie of her looking around the room, seeing me, and then running, weaving, for a big giant hug and kiss. Now, that's an image to keep.

Monday, April 28, 2008

So what?

This is me applying my work-related leadership training to my home life. They taught us a management trick to ask "so what?" when things start to turn sour. It helps figure out what's the worst that could happen, and then recognize that even the worst isn't that bad. "So what?" is also a good question to ask yourself when everything seems to be overwelming, to help prioritize what needs attention first. So, here are my so-what's from this weekend.

So what if L doesn't learn to talk...ever? She's learning sign language a lot faster than I expected, and is just now getting the connection that if she makes the sign for what she wants, most of the time she'll get it. She hears just fine and understands what we're saying. Probably, most likely, she will start talking more. I've noticed more kiddos in our community in similar situations, needing help talking. And I watched a fellow 2-year-old talk up a storm this weekend, and it didn't actually bother me this time. It was kind of a factual recognition but not a comparison in a bad way. Yes, they are the same age and yes, L has a lot of ground to catch up, but so what? We're making progress, she's learning to communicate in another way, and in my mind, I wouldn't change a thing about her! She's still perfect!

So what if M is a hellion every once in awhile? Last week her preschool teacher politely informed me that M has not been good at school. That is a HUGE deal in our house, especially since DH is a teacher. The so-what I'm picturing is M , all dressed in black with piercings all over her ears and nose and tattoes covering her body, setting in juvenile detention. All that, just from a fit or two at preschool. Okay, so the so-what doesn't work in this situation, but at least reasonably I know it won't be THAT bad.

So what if K spent 3000 webkinz dollars in one afternoon? Worse case, her Webkinz starve to death, she learns about saving money, and she does without a Webkinz for a few months until she can buy her own or Grandma gives in and buys one for her. (FYI my ruling on this is if she spends all her money on interior decorating for her Webkinz rooms and can't afford to feed her Webkinz and as a result it dies, I'm not buying her a new one for a long long time.)

So what if DH's garden is out of control? Right now he's got 100s of plants to go in the ground, literally. And as long as I force it abit, at least K and M will spend time with him helping withe garden. But if the plants don't succeed, he's out his time but not much money. If they do succeed, maybe he'll be able to sell all that produce and make enough to buy a fireplace next fall so we can save on our heating bills. And if they do succeed and he can't sell it all, then we'll have lots of canned goods for ourselves, which is a good idea with the increasing prices in groceries and gasoline.

And... so what if we can't afford to drive this summer? Worse case scenario, we stay home and bond as a family. We take lots of trips to the little zoo in town and bike rides around the area. We save money by not staying a hotel or going to an amusement park. We have more time to can vegetables, work on M behavior, earn Webkinz dollars, and teach L more signs.

So what! :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Allowances and chores

A few weeks ago, we introduced the possibility of allowances for K and M. In return for doing clean-up that wasn't directly their fault, they would get a weekly allowance. K suggested a penny a day, temidly, afraid she was asking too much. In my motherly generousness, I granted her wish and immediate set her to scrub the floors and wash the curtains. Or not.

In actuality, we decided on a quarter a week. Their jobs are to help unload the dishwasher, set the table, pick up their clothes, and help with laundry. In their excitement, they've also washed dishes and reloaded the dishwasher, did laundry with minimum-to-no help, and picked up everything in the three main rooms. And they've really enjoyed the coolness that comes with being old enough to wash dishes.

I know it won't last long. I know they'll eventually hate the chores. I know some day they'll realize 25 cents a week doesn't cover it. But I see this as a first step to easier housework for me. From this point on, my girls should be able to at least help lessen the load. I doubt I'll have any volunteers to fold laundry any time soon, and I'm confidant I'll still be the primary bill-payer, grocery-shopper, menu-setter, and floor cleaner. But how nice it is to have the help, and know they enjoy it!

Funny thing, though...K balked at the idea of a quarter a week. She thought 7 cents a week was a better amount because, and I quote, "if you pay me 25 cents a week, it feels like I will, you know, OWE you something for it and have to work more." Dude. Welcome to the workforce.

Spring fever

Man oh man what a difference warm weather makes. In retrospect, i was really slipping into a depression. All the classic symptoms, but I only notice that it was odd now that I'm not sleeping every afternoon for 2-3 hours plus 12 hours at night, not laughing, disengaging from conversations, hiding out in my own little world, even disconnecting from my hubby and kids. I don't think it was my week away on a work trip that did it. I really think it was two fold: making progress in helping Lainie and hearing her start to jabber. I cannot explain adequately how wonderful it feels to hear her make new consonant sounds. It's just a little thing, but I did a littler internal skip-to-my-lou when I heard a g and s and t all in the same jabber. Yay!

Add to that beautiful sunny, 70 degree days and you have a recipe for a happy mama. And you know what they say -- ain't nobody happy if mama ain't happy. With my change in attitude and emotions, the girls are really responding too. (Or, that could be because of the weather.) Either way, it's so nice to have a positive laughter-to-whining ratio in our house again. Hey, with three girls, that's not going to happen all that often!

Monday, April 7, 2008


As anyone who has spent much time around little girls knows, it's rare to get a moment of silence ...usually. That, and my K and M tend to be even more vocal than most. Not only do they love to talk, or "have the gift of gab" as my dad always said about me, but they come up with the most entertaining, intriquing, unique statements.

M last week, after really being naughty most of the afternoon and evening, told me that, "I think my brain isn't going right tonight." Good to know. When in doubt, blame your brain.

This same brain-child informed me that my SIL is going to have a girl, of course, because "the baby is in Aunt J's tummy. If it was a boy, it'd be in Uncle D's tummy." Well, of course. How ridiculous of me. Did I correct her? No. I'm not ready to explain ALL that to a 4-year-old. Later, after DH tried to correct her, we settled on my explanation that only girls have babies because only girls have mommy parts because "God made us that way." And, no, now is not the time to tell her about the guy on Oprah who is pregnant. Come on-- she's only four. There's time to explain that later.

And M isn't alone in her big thoughts. K told me the other day that she thinks she'd rather just skip high school "because high school kids do really dumb stuff." Oh, sweetheart, if only I could get that tattoed across your forehead so you can remember that in 8 years.

The irony of this is that K and M won't stop talking, and L just can't very well. She seems to try really hard but not make much progress. Have you ever really watched an ant push a piece of food up a hill that is too steep to make it? He'll push and push and almost get there but not actually reach his goal? Well, that's kind of how I feel about L. She's pushing and pushing but isn't making much progress and is starting to get frustrated. I hate to see her frustrated, and I hate feeling helpless, and truth-be-told, I'm going nuts with all the "eh-eh-eh" and whining that results from her frustration. We all want her to speak!

So, after an official evaluation last week, L qualified for speech services. I'm very relieved. Now she can get some help, some new tricks. Now I don't feel helpless; I feel empowered. I feel like I am finally able to help her push that piece of food up the rest of the hill, and I'm confidant that once she does get to the top of the hill, she'll fly down the other side in no time flat. Soon, she'll be adding to the cacophony that can only be called our home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy April Fools!

And it is happy! (Man, this blog is starting to look manic-depressive. It's not that I am's just that I'm trying really hard to enjoy the positives and I use this medium to dump all the negatives.)

First off, we had a party at our house last night with some friends. Eight adults, a 12-year-old, 6-year-old, three 4-year-olds, and three 2-year-olds, so a bit rambunctious but crazy-fun. The best part was our crazy menu, which consisted of:

  • fake chicken nuggets (bananas with peanut butter and crushed graham crackers),

  • fake cupcakes (meatballs frosted with tinted mashed potatoes),

  • kitty litter cake,

  • fake orange drink (orange jello set in cups with straws),

  • fake water (clear koolaid),

  • fake jalapenos (fooled ya jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled),

  • picked beets (because they are joke in themselves),

  • a real veggie tray, and real eggs (just to throw people off).
It was a blast, and definitely something we'll have to repeat.

And then, speaking of blasts, Lainie finally (FINALLY!) had a solid diaper last night! YIPPEE!!! I've never celebrated more over the contents of a diaper, but geez- March 12 was the last time she had a "normal" diaper! And she feels better, too. She was dancing this morning and woke up smiling. It looks like she finally kicked this nasty illness. And just in time, as tomorrow is her evaluation to see if she qualifies for speech help.

So, following the advice of my priest and my couselor, I'm going to take today one-day-at-a-time (I can't even think that phrase without hearing the Christie Lane's version of the song fly through my head) and be thankful for what I've got...which is a LOT.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Up ...and down again.

L is sick...again. DH put it best when he asked, while cleaning up vomit and diarrhea for the umpteenth time this week, "Who the hell did we piss off?!"

L caught, we thought, the stomach flu a week ago Thursday. That's right, folks. Ten wonderful days of blow-out diapers, vomit-covered bedding. She perked up mid-week and we thought the worst was over, but nope. She's still at it.

And it's not like she's the only one who caught it. K threw up for 4 hours. DH and I had the "howlin' skitters" for 4 days. (Gosh, I love that term. A dear friend Jen introduced me to THAT one.) But only L gets to have it go on and on and on....

Today we thought she was REALLY better. She was even playing this afternoon and evening. She was asking for food for supper, so we gave her some cheese and crackers and bananas, as she asked. Not long ago, she started crying in her sleep and then threw up in her mouth. I expect I'll be woken up mid-night tonight again with her cries, dreading opening the door, wondering what nastiness is behind door number 2.

I know how I feel. I feel hopeless, angry, frustrated, guilty, worried, anxious, exhausted, tired. And I'm just on THIS side of all this crap she's had to deal with. How she must feel! And to top it all off, she can't communicate enough to tell us how she IS feeling.

So what am I complaining about, eh?

Monday, March 17, 2008

So Proud!

I did it. I ran 2 miles in the St Patrick's Day race in Manhappiness, KS. Six months ago I couldn't hardly walk across my house, and now I'm running 2 miles. I can't say YAYA!!!! enough. I'm that happy.

My time? For you "real" runners it may not seem like a big deal, but to me, it's fantastic. 17.37, when I was hoping for under 20 minutes.

Icing on the cake? 3rd place for my age bracket. Something like 117 overall. Is that a sign that I'm not too slow, or that I'm getting old and the competition is getting thinner?

REAL icing on the cake? K was so excited watching me race this year that she asked if she could run next year. Now that's the REAL reason why I did this. I want my girls to see how to be healthy adults and inspire them to try it. Apparently, its working.

Only downside? I'm really really sore...from the dancing we did to celebrate Saturday night. teehee I may be old but I can still dance!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Feeling better...

It's amazing what a little time and some great friends can do to make things feel better. :) I'll skip the whole struggle-as-a-parent conversation for a sec and return to that Great Exchange of 2008 topic.

It had its benefits, but not what I expected. I don't think DH yet appreciates all I do, and I decided I like doing what he does. I enjoyed taking care of the animals and doing what feels to be more constructive work. For example, I rearranged stuff in the basement and it's still nicely rearranged. In my normal duties, I wash all the clothes and fold them and put away, yet by days end it needs to be done again. That's the frustrating part.

DH did realize how hard the mornings are and has been doing more of his share in that regard. And THAT almost made it worth it.

The best benefit is that I realized I like doing my responsibilities. Love it, in fact. I was lost without my week's menu and cooking, and tried to find an excuse to go to the grocery store. I like the time spent with L in the cart and me acting like the crazy woman on those commercials, seemingly talking to herself but actually talking to her child. I desperately missed bathtime and bedtime and all the great conversations and book time and fashion advice and all that. I even missed the morning routine, getting to brush their hair and the psychotic adrenaline rush from hurrying everyone along in the morning. I felt like I ignored my kids, trying to play DH's role. And the kids noticed it too; my oldest K asked if we would PLEASE switch back because she missed me. So we did. Switch back, that is.

So, now, instead of brooding when I'm getting all three girls cleaned up and in bed, I enjoy it and think of poor DH, stuck in the basement with his plants. I still hate laundry and always will, but the rest of the stuff, I'm enjoying more.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It just gets harder

This parenting thing is not getting any easier. Today, for example....

I took my youngest, L, to a local child check, where they gauge the abilities of kids under 5 and see if they are developmentally where they need to be. Now, I know she's not at the top. In fact, I had a pretty darn good guess that she had fallen behind developmentally. And, I was pretty cocky that it was all because of fluid behind her ears, what with a flat tympanogram a few weeks back and reoccuring ear infections since the first of December. But I was only partially right. She is behind, in gross motor and speech development. But her ears are fine. She passed the tympanogram and the hearing test. Her delays cannot be blamed on her ears. She's not tripping because she doesn't have balance. She's not not speaking because she can't hear. She's fine; she just doesn't remember how to do those things correctly. So, I guess there is some permanent damage from the seizures et al. Ouch. It's just kinda hard to swallow, that my child isn't perfect, that she's going to have a hard road ahead. I'm still confidant she'll catch up, that a little help now will even the scale. And infant toddler services are going to come to our house, do a formal evaluation, see what services she needs. She's not perfect. And that's hard to swallow.

Then, we have Numero Dos, aka M. She's 4.5 years old and tonight spelled a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e without reading it anywhere. She, in fact, was correcting a 5-year-old's technique of reading the letters instead of reading the word. She is blowing us out of our shoes. How did my girl learn to read, all by herself (or with very very minimal assistance from us)?!? How is she picking up words and letters and math facts and science facts and historical tidbits as fast as a swiffer duster picks up the crap on my TV screen?! And what are we going to do about it, seeing as how she's the one of my girls who doesn't like to follow the rules, who will always push it as far as she can. If she's bored, she's in trouble.

And for the whipped cream on top of this insane sundae, we have my oldest daughter. She is smart, near the top of her class, kind ... kinder than any child I have ever known... and beautiful. She's a perfectionist, a dancer, an artististic little booger, and always wants to please others. She's harder on herself than anyone else will ever be. And it's hurting her so badly every time her little sister, a whole 2 years younger than her, knows something she doesn't. It kills her every time someone gasps as M reads a new word. So HOW am I supposed to give the attention deserving to M while preserving K's emotional state and keeping my third eye on L, wondering what's all going on in her brain?

I am at a loss. I'm sad. I'm excited. I'm worried. And they are not even 7 yet.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Great Switch 2008

DH and I have been having some relationship "challenges" lately, probably a delayed reaction to the stress of the last few months. You see, when I'm incapacitated or not here, he is great at taking care of the kids and household essentials, but when I'm here and able, he leaves it all to me. Or so I feel. He feels that I don't appreciate what he DOES do and that I don't do enough.

So... I suggested (and he agreed) that as of noon today, we switch roles and responsibilities for one week. He does everything he thinks I do and I do everything I think he does, and we'll see what's missed and what happens. Two exceptions to the switch, though. DH doesn't know how to manage our finances with the way I have it set up, and I don't want to learn how to hang sheetrock or mud it, so we kept those responsibilities. I spent the afternoon moving and cleaning in the basement, so the next phase of construction can be done next weekend. He took care of the girls, put them down for naps, got snacks, made dinner, had to make a menu for the week, went grocery shopping, cleaned up dinner, bathed the girls, put them to bed. Oh, and I went to a movie with my friends ("Bella"...good movie.) So far, we both think we have it pretty nice, but we'll see what happens in a week. I'll let you know how it goes!

Oh, and as I sat on the computer, he had this article pulled up for me to read:
Take a look -- it's pretty funny!

And one more afterthought: I feel sorry for anyone who is actually reading this blog right now. I'm still feeling my way through it and trying to decide what path aka topic this is going to be about...parenting, relationships, adoption, working mom? Who knows? Stay tuned for the next installment of The Great Switch 2008!

Monday, February 4, 2008

So about this seizure thing...

L, my youngest, is 21 months old. On January 10, she had a seizure at 5:30 that lasted about 5 minutes, for which we took her to the ER. The diagnosed it as a febrile seizure, she recovered, and we went home. Then at midnight, she had another, about the same. With that one, she was admitted for observation, definitely a "just-in-case" move. She was fine overnight, then at 8:30 a.m. on the 11th, she got hit with another. This one started as a tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizure for about 10 minutes, slowed for about 5 minutes, then triggered right back to a tonic-clonic that lasted for another 75 minutes. The doctors were calm and letting it run its course for what I think was 25 minutes, but then they hooked up the oxygen monitor. Her o-stats were in the 70s and her heartbeat in the 200s. They started administering the anti-seizure medicine, getting all sorts of people in the room.

My job was to keep her on her side so the food she was vomiting wouldn't choke her, and hold that oxygen mask on her tiny face. I called my husband after 45 minutes, and he started the process of getting a sub and making the 37 mile drive to the hospital from his work. After about an hour, I called a dear friend who was there in 5 minutes. Great timing, because shortly after she arrived, they told me they were going to intubate and transfer her to a bigger pediatric hospital. That's when it sunk in that she wasn't okay, she was bad enough to be flown 2.5 hours away. I left the room while they intubated her and cried. Then, by the time the helicopter and my husband arrived, I had pulled it back together, except for the shaking. I'm shaking even now as I type this, reliving it.

So I'll sum up the next part...they flew her, we drove. Her lung collapsed during the transport, and she had one minor seizure-type episode on the 11th. They took out her intubation on the 11th, and she finally woke up on the 12th. She slept most of the 12th and 13th, but was literally bouncing up and down in her crib-cage by rounds on Monday. They sent us home with diastat to administer if she has another seizure.

The local docs said she doesn't look like she has any permanent damage. She can walk, she can talk, she can draw and eat and little stuff like that. Emotionally, she was higher than a kite for about 10 days. We were so excited when she finally cried, thinking maybe it was a sign her emotion-box was okay. But she still wasn't doing everything she'd been doing before.

Last night L remembered how to take off her shoes. It may seem like a little thing, but she had just learned how to do it hours before her first seizure, and could not do it since. The shoe thing was especially exciting to me -- tears in the eyes exciting -- because I thought that once she could do that, the last skill she'd mastered before getting sick, then that meant she'd caught up what she'd lost. In reality, there are still at least a dozen things she can't do at all and another dozen she doesn't do the same, but she's making progress a lot faster than I thought. She remembered how to count to five, say almost everyone's names, and say yes and no this weekend.

So what are we still watching and waiting for? L is not kissing us, saying home or touchdown, going down the stairs, signing all done or more, or giving up her thumb (which she'd almost stopped). She can say bye-bye, but when you ask her to, you can actually see in her eyes that she can't remember how to make that B sound. Then if I ask her to say ba-ba-ba-blaine (for a boy in daycare), she'll say that, and then can say bye-bye. Her little mind just can't remember where that B sound is. Her words aren't as clear and she's still falling a lot, but I know from last week's tympanogram that she still has fluid in her ears, so I'm hopeful that is why she keeps falling and why her speech isn't as clear. Also, her emotions are more normal, more to be expected, as compared to the crazy happy she was the past two weeks.

So, how's that for an excuse to be a silent-blogger? What a way to start 2008.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Where have you been?

How pathetic is it, to leave a blog silent for almost a month? Especially a blog in its infancy? But, I have good excuses and it's not like anyone is reading this thing anyway!

Excuses? What excuses you ask? My baby girl (21 months old) had a "complicated febrile seizure" that resulted in her being flown to a bigger, better pediatric hospital while we drove the 2 hours. Her lung collapsed on the flight, but it looks like long-term she'll be okay. Long-term, but short-term she has some catching up to do. It's going to be a long story and maybe I'll save that for another day.

Then to follow that up, the whole experience knocked me on my arse, so my mysterious illness flared its ugly head again. Loss of vocabulary -- I can talk, just can't remember words -- extreme fatique, dizziness, that sort of thing that's starting to seem routine to me. So, more R&R needed to get over that.

And I'm just having some pitty-party blue time. I don't know why. Blame it on the stress, on the job, on the hormones, on the winter. I hope it'll go away soon.

So, I'm back. I'm back on here and I'm back exercising as of Monday. Last Monday, that is. Here's hoping for a dreadfully boring uneventful February!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Still going

Some days I feel like the energizer bunny. I'm up before anyone else in the family, trying to change batches of laundry and at least brush my teeth before morning madness insues. Then it's run to daycare, run to work, run to home, fix supper, family time, bedtime for the girls, and now runtime...then maybe my bedtime. I'm the first one up, last one down, and don't stop all day long. I actually hear myself thinking...just keep going and going and going....

So what did I GO do this weekend? The house is still clean, if not a little cleaner. That's good enough for me. Actually, my all-around-awesome DH was putting drywall in our soon-to-be bathroom, and it was my job to take care of everything else so he can finish it. I didn't run on Saturday, persay, but I did do 2 hours of housework and 12 hours of mommy-work. I think that was enough of a workout. Sunday I was back to it, and ran another 2 miles Sunday and Monday nights.

Last night I looked up my time at last year's race, which was my first race since high school. I ran 2 miles in 16.57, which still blows my mind. I know, you serious racers are thinking how snails pace that is, but I'm very proud of that. My goal is to do at least that this March. Right now I'm running 20 minute 2-miles on the treadmill. 9 weeks to go, 4 miles to lose. Should be interesting! All I have to do is keep going, and going, and going...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Still running

Here's a secret: yesterday's post was supposed to be posted on Wednesday, so now the dates are all messed up. And I'm worrying about that because...I'm a crazy control freak. Anywho...

Last night I had to rely on my sister in law to get me running. Dude, I am hurtin'! I did run another 2 miles, a little under 25 minutes when you include the walking warm-up. I did about 5 sit-ups but my abs are still killing me from the day before.

And to add to the craziness of my life, the shower that was going to be installed yesterday didn't fit through our basement door. To get it in, my DH cut a hole in the side of our walkout basement, put the shower through, then installed a new window. It all sounds so very redneck, but it looks awesome and was done right. DH may be super-relaxed about some things, but when it comes to working on our house, he's as control-freak, detailed as I am about everything else.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New 2008

resIt's January 3rd and I'm just now starting my first resolution -- to blog. I figure if I give myself a few minutes a day to post here, maybe I can keep my crazy life in check. So, what are my illustrious goals for 2008?
1-Run the 2 mile at the St. Paddy's Day race in Manhattan. (Kansas, that is, for anyone who randomly stumbles across this blog.)
2-Stay healthy, or as healthy as my body will let me. resolution
3-No yelling at the kids. I can get through to them so much more when my voice stays calm.
4-Say no more often. To people outside my family, that is. I've committed to too much and now it's time to stick with my priorities.
5-Remember my priorities every day. Family, God, then work.

And why the need for resolutions? I ran (not physically, that is...just figuratively) too much too hard for too long last year and the year before that and before that. The result was a total physical collapse in the fall. I do NOT want to get to that point again. And that's where the blog comes in. Hopefully by posting my goals, for myself more than anything, I can get reminded of them throughout the year. And maybe stick to them past June.