Unexpected Return

The original plan was to spend the day at a soccer tournament. It was to be the last soccer event of the year. Everyone was bringing water, drinks, and snacks for the kids.

Then Flora got strep. I pulled her from the tournament.

Plan B was to shop and run errands in the morning. I already had a babysitter coming for the other two. Dan and I were having people over for dinner. I had a really nice meal planned: grilled meat, roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots, a lentil/rice slow cooker dish. For dessert, cheese and fruit.

(Yes, Saturday was soccer all morning and a dinner party. We are insane.)

Instead, here we are at Children’s Hospital again. M has been spitting out blood the past couple of days. Never a lot, and not for very long. But they wanted to see him, and observe him for 24 hours. We arrived around 9:30 a.m. They had to stick him three times to get an IV started (that SUCKED as you can imagine).

I have had a granola bar and a single cup of coffee. It is nearly 3 p.m. Dan is on his way. I am hangry! He can’t get here soon enough.

It’s a rotten way to spend a beautiful Saturday, that’s for sure!

When’s the last time you ended up on an unexpected Plan C?

While You Were Recovering

This is what Flora got up to while her siblings were having surgery and recovering:

1. She took a fundraising order to my office to deliver it to the people who had ordered from us.
2. She had a chorale concert. They did not sing “Let It Go”! They sang songs from The Sound of Music. She had a solo part!
3. She had soccer practice.
4. Her violin class was on The Saturday Morning Light Brigade, which broadcasts from the Children’s Museum. You can hear them here.
5. After the radio show, she had TWO soccer games. They lost one and won one.
6. She went to Kennywood with her BFF and family. She didn’t ride the Pittsburgh Plunge, but she did stand in the splash zone while watching the ride. She got soaked. She was gone ALL DAY LONG on Sunday.
7. She received a nature science set and a bird log (Christmas in May!) from her godmother, and proceeded to wander the yard looking for stuff to put in vials and examine. She filled in about five pages on her bird log.
8. She got strep throat.

For numbers 1 through 5, I have to thank my parents for chauffeuring her around and for recording the events for her dad and me to view later. For number 6, thanks to BFF family. What a treat it was! For 7, thanks to our good friend/Flora’s godmother/@Whatnot6 for bringing the children their Christmas gifts (from last year; we still had her daughter’s too) and helping me make the front of my house look pretty. For 8… I probably can thank that generous soaking she got at Kennywood.

What Flora has done since Tuesday: watched a lot of television, started antibiotics, and spent time at her daddy’s office. We attempted school today, but I think the antibiotics are making her nauseous. I think I’ll call her ped to sort that out. She’s with Bella and Tadone as I type this.

What Flora will not be doing this weekend: soccer practice or the soccer tournament she was scheduled to participate in.

Oy. What will your children not be getting up to this weekend?

Surgery: Surprise!

In general, things are going okay. My little troopers are fairly compliant as far as drinking and medication. This morning so far I’m getting a little pushback. As long as the will take a sip or two of something and their meds, I won’t force anything on them.


The day after Kate’s surgery, she had a really bad morning. I had opted to let her sleep through instead of waking her for medication. The 30 minutes she was awaken before the Tylenol kicked in were VERY UNHAPPY. But then the meds started working, and she got some fluids in her, and she managed two little pancakes with plenty of syrup.

They had put us in a semi-private room in the hospital, expecting siblings to be sharing it. Instead, they put another family there, so Dan had nowhere to sleep. He went home Tuesday night, with the plan that he would workout, then take M for his surgery. While Kate and I were waiting for her to get discharged, the surgery center called; they could take M early, but he had to stop drinking clear fluids.

I called my mom to give her that happy news. And tell her to lock up the mints.

Then my dad got to the hospital, and picked us up, and we went home. I fixed Kate a smoothie, had a little bit myself, and got ready to nap.

And then Dan called.


When we had the children evaluated for ear tubes, plus tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) (no, really, they officially refer to it as that), the doctor, Dr. M, advised that both Kate and M have the works. We knew we wanted Kate to have everything done, but we decided just to do tubes and an adenoidectomy for M. I was worried about compliance with recovery — we know about 3-year-olds and compliance, yes? — and the doctor agreed. Tonsillectomy requires extended dietary and activity restrictions. I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge of managing them for M.

Plus, I only wanted one excessively clingy child.

The doctor expressed his concerns (M’s tonsils were huge, he wasn’t sure he could even get to the adenoids); I expressed mine. He understood my concerns.

And when he got into surgery with Michael, he realized what we had agreed upon wasn’t going to work. He stopped the surgery, and went to talk to Dan, who then called me.

M’s tonsils were 1. blocking access to the adenoids; 2. 99% obstructing his airway; 3. so large they were touching each other, like pressed flat against each other touching; and 4. the largest tonsils Dr. M had ever seen. 

I expressed my concerns again, to Dan and to the doctor, and then gave consent for the surgery. And then I showered and drove to the surgery center.

Nap status, canceled.


Surgery went well. I am happy to report that so far compliance has not been a major obstacle. We’ll see what happens when his energy comes back full bore.

The doctor has been great. He called today, even, to follow up. We’ve had some rough patches, but once the ibuprofen or Tylenol kicks in, he’s fine. The children take turns being clingy, so that even works out. 

What unexpected stuff had you had to deal with this week?

Surgery: All the Feels

Tuesday has been a day full of many feelings. Right now, I am sitting on the side of my daughter’s hospital bed, relieved that she is safely out of surgery. She’s woozy, and hasn’t truly woken up yet.

This morning went as smoothly as you would expect with two children who were not allowed to eat breakfast. That is, not very. Kate whinged her way through; M out-and-out melted down. Offering Gatorade did not stave off the whineys.

We got ready to leave around 9 a.m. I figured the hospital would be enough of a distraction from their bellies. The children got in the car, and Dan and I grabbed the bags.

Coming out to the car, M met me in the driveway. “Can I have gum?” he asked.

“No,” I said, then realized that I had gum in the car. Shit! What if he already had some, or Kate did?

I rushed to the car. “Kate, you didn’t have any gum, did you?”

“It’s not gum,” she said. “And Michael ate it all.”

M had gotten into mints I didn’t even know I had in my car, and had, indeed, eaten them all.

Well, shit again.

Realizing that there was nothing to do but find out what the docs would do when we got to the hospital, we stopped to vote (it was primary day here in Pennsylvania), and made our way to the hospital.

The children’s hospital we have in Pittsburgh is efficient. It really keeps things moving. Before I knew it, we were in a room ready to do surgery prep and paperwork.

I told them about M and the mints. As I had expected would happen, they took him off the list for surgery. His nickname for the day was miscreant.

I have to admit to being furious with M. I had gone through a lot of trouble to arrange things ‘just so’. My parents are in to help keep Flora’s day/week on track. I got Kate and M scheduled for the same day. I took unpaid time off my job.

And M, by virtue of being 3, and hungry, and not understanding why he couldn’t eat, threw a big giant flipping monkey wrench into the works.

I was *mad*.

Fortunately, everyone else was very understanding. It’s something that does happen. And, fortunately for my little miscreant, the doctor can fit him in tomorrow for tubes and adenoids.

Anyway, Dan suited up, Kate changed into scrubs, and they walked off to surgery. M and I went to the waiting room, and Dan joined us shortly.

“I got a little emotional in there,” he said.

“Did Kate see?” I asked.

“I kept it together,” Dan assured me.

I posted some things to Facebook and Twitter, let M eat, made arrangements to get him home (thank you, again, nonna and pap-pap), and waited. When I noticed the doctor approaching, I jumped up.

He was all smiles, very pleasant and reassuring. Kate had come through surgery fine. Her adenoids were blocking the eustachain tubes, which affected both her hearing and breathing. Her tonsils were nearly a four (on a scale that goes to four). She was waking up in the recovery room, and we’d be able to see her soon.

Dan went back first when Kate woke up. I got M and his carseat to my parents, and hurried back to see my baby girl.

Seeing her still woozy from the anaesthesia was heartbreaking. I was teary-eyed with relief though. Just seeing her so vulnerable, but on the other side of surgery — the safe side. It was overwhelmingly relieving.

Now, after reading her a new book, and letting her fall back to sleep, it’s a waiting game to see how she does with hydration and diet. Tomorrow will bring new challenges, logistical and emotional.

I am so glad Dan has been with us the whole time too. Feeling like a team, united in having all the emotions, and supporting each other through this. It’s kept me even-keeled. I hope he feels the same way.

Would you have told the doctors about M eating the candy mints? It didn’t cross my mind not to.

Surgery: Pre-Game

We did a lot of prep work this weekend (while also attending a picnic on Saturday and a communion party on Sunday).

Cleaning: My parents are staying with us for the week. God bless them. We excavated the girls’ room, cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed just about everywhere, wiped down the bathrooms, swiffered the kitchen floor, and even cleaned the oven.

Our bedroom and the office remain pigsties.

Information: The place that is doing Kate’s and Michael’s surgeries sends out an email with a link to an online informational presentation that goes over… a lot. Now, if you are like me, there is no such thing as too much information, and this is a good strategy. It did not alleviate my anxiety, per se, but it gave me some good ideas of issues to be aware of and questions to ask. And reminded me that I needed to put Children’s Tylenol on my shopping list.

Shopping: We’ve stocked up on popsicles, Gatorade, applesauce, and pudding. We’ve got smoothie ingredients. I’m hoping that by the weekend, Kate will be ready for scrambled eggs and soft noodles. If not, plan B is some of those fruit pouches for toddlers. And more smoothies.

M should be eating just fine by Wednesday.

Packed: The children’s bag is packed. I will have to remember to put M’s Monkey in the bag tomorrow morning.

Talking: We’ve prepared Kate as well as we could. Basic information, assurances that everything will be okay, assurances that it’s okay to be scared, that she has good doctors and we will be there. We haven’t lied about after, that her throat will hurt, that she will need to eat soft foods.

M… we’ve tried a little bit. His biggest concern is whether or not he is getting a shot. Technically no. Tomorrow is going to be unpleasant for him.

Our check-in time is 10:30 a.m. No breakfast for the kids. No fluids after 9 a.m. I hope some Gatorade will stave off the whineys until then.

No idea what Dan and I need for tomorrow and tomorrow night. Suggestions welcome!

A Day in the Life

This is what I did Friday, May 16. It’s a fair representation of “the daily”. Only the minor details change.

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I set it to go off later than usual because last night we had an unexpected (but welcome!) guest, and my stylist came over at 9 p.m. to do my hair, and I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 p.m. I blew off exercise, but I will workout Saturday instead.

6:45 – 7:30 a.m. — I give the girls a shake and put their clothes on their beds; I open M’s door and kiss his cheeks. The girls groan and stretch, M doesn’t even stir. I shower, then go downstairs to make sure the girls are eating or have eaten. M is still in bed at 7:30. So is Dan. Our unexpected guest is sitting with the girls at the kitchen table. He and his wife do not have children, and he looks a little amused by the amount of chatter and activity. Flora already has her hoodie on, but Kate is still working on homework. (She’s a little loaded up right now; her teacher is trying to keep her ahead of the assignments that will be done in class next week).

7:45 – 8 a.m. — Out the door and drive girls to school. We discover Flora has forgotten her duffel bag for soccer. Oh well. That’s going to make us run late later.

8:30 a.m. — Pull into parking lot at work.

8:30 – 10 a.m. — E-mails, phone calls, coffee and a granola bar. I get copy for an email finished. I send my mom and dad a list of stuff they will need to do next Tuesday with Flora while Dan and I are at the hospital with Kate and Michael. Wish a coworker happy 30th birthday. Work on Big Work Project.

10 a.m. — Buy Black Keys tickets.

10:15 a.m. — Back to work! The Big Work Project that I am working on (with my designer partner) is going to final today. I have a number of pages to finalize. But it’s happening. WE DID IT! We deserve bourbon.

I also have other smaller projects to wrap up today and Monday, plus the odd meeting here and there.

Today’s soundtrack: The Fray, Chvrches, Afghan Whigs, Lorde, the Pixies, and The Black Keys (duh).

12 p.m. — For the first time this week, I actually leave my desk to eat lunch. My friend Roy and I walk up the hill for baked mac and cheese and stewed tomatoes — it’s actually better than the usual Friday pizza and nachos lunch.

The fact that Monday was 85 degrees and today it’s 50 is making me a little cranky.

12:45 p.m. — Back to work, again! About 30 pages to go!

2:30 p.m. — Done! Next work project.

3:30 p.m. — Have conversation with the children’s surgery center to get all their information up to date.

3:35 p.m. — Back to work. Landing pages.

4:30 p.m. — Out the door for the weekend. One more work day to go before Kate’s and Michael’s surgeries.

5:10 p.m. — Pick up girls. Since Flora was unable to change for soccer, and Dan had the duffel bag in his car (he had meant to drop it off for her at the school), and I don’t feel like running around like a crazy person, I make the executive decision that Flora is going to miss practice. Sorry, Coach.

5:30 p.m. — Pick up Michael. We stop to pick something up, then head home.

5:45 – 6:20 p.m. — I put rice and beans in the rice cooker and get it cooking. I feed M and Flora left over chili with tortilla chips and cheese. Kate has a sleepover, so we pack her pajamas, a sleeping bag, her lovies, a change of clothes, and her toothbrush in a bag. I run her down to her friend’s house, and leave her with lots of hugs and kisses, and instructions to be good.

6:30 p.m. — Once I’m home, I sit down for a bit to organize my head. I need to gather all the dirty laundry, clean the kitchen, make a salad to go with the rice and beans, etc. etc. I send Flora upstairs to clean her room for 30 minutes.

7 p.m. — Rice and beans are done. I should wait for Dan, but I’m starving, so I eat. I am reading The Help, and it is excellent. I read and eat, then start evening clean up.

7:30 p.m. — Put on Despicable Me 2 for Flora and M. I continue to fuss around the house for a bit.

8 p.m. — Dan’s home, and I feed him. We watch the movie; I read after I finish straightening a couple more things up.

9 p.m. — Dan puts M to bed. Flora has decided she is going to stay up late since it is Friday. She changes into pajamas.

9:30 p.m. — I fix Dan and I a cocktail. We find a ridiculous show called “Too Cute” on the Science Channel, and watch it, all of us cuddled up on the couch.

10:30 p.m. — Flora puts on “Tanked”. I read. Dan falls asleep on the couch.

11:30 p.m. — Bedtime! Flora tucks herself in; I check on M. Then I hit the hay.

Do you let your kids stay up late on the weekends?

About “Having It All”

If you saw the story Kim Lyons (@SocialKimLy) did on work-life balance in the Post-Gazette, you probably noticed the sidebar on the inside, where she asked a number of other working women about “having it all” (h/t to my tweeps @katrinaravioli and @katieB480). Kim asked each of us about having it all. My answer didn’t make it to the main story, so I thought I’d talk about it here.

Here’s the short version of what I told Kim: It depends what you mean by “all”. A person like me, who came up middle class, has a bachelor’s degree, and doesn’t aspire to the corner office has a far different “all” than the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers of the world.

Here are my priorities, pretty much in order:

1. A strong marriage.
2. A loving relationship with my children.
3. A job that I am very good at and for which I am decently rewarded (salary, benefits, a healthy and safe environment, some flexibility).

Do I want my work-home life to balance “perfectly”? That would be nice, and that would mean having something different than what I have now.

At this point (and this is something I clumsily expressed to Kim), my children, at 3, 7, and 9, have reached a level of independence that I treasure. I have been in the same job for six years, and that has its perks. I have a fantastic husband who is supportive, works hard, and does his part around the house and with the children. Is my house spotless? Not even close. Do I have stress regarding money and finances? Yes, yes I do. Am I the most perfect mom in the world? Nope. I certainly yell more than I’d like.

But I have found MY balance. I have learned how to be in my children’s lives and still put in a productive 40 hours at the office. I have accepted my domestic limitations (much to Dan’s chagrin, I’m sure). I pursue writing projects outside of work. If I excel at any one thing in the home arena, it is in the kitchen (well, Dan maybe has another area that he would say I’m not doing too badly in these days). A lot of the time, because I have made getting fresh food a priority, I feed my children and husband pretty darn well. We’re not 100% home-cooked, non-processed foods — because I think that’s unattainable as a WOTHM, but overall, I think the scales tip to fresh, local foods.

Here’s what I would tell to any woman worried about “having it all”. First of all, stop it. I don’t know why (or if) women do this to themselves to a greater extent than men, or if parents are harder on themselves than non-parents. A person needs to focus on herself, her needs, her family’s needs. A person really needs to shut out as much as possible the outside opinions from the Internet or people on the street, or even, sometimes, her extended family and friends (get off Facebook if you need to).

Second of all, have realistic expectations. No one is entitled to a top-notch education, a perfect partner, perfect children (if one wants that), a wonderful job (if one wants that), and fabulous riches. It takes some work (unless your family is independently wealthy; I don’t know what that kind of life looks like). Figure out what you want and what you have to work with. Go get what you need to get what you want.

Lastly, be kind. To yourself, to others. Fill your life with love and positivity. Don’t let other people treat you badly, and don’t do the job for them. Life’s too short.

Do I dream about writing the next great American novel and becoming fabulously rich? You bet I do. And I’m lucky if I manage to pound out a page a day. I’ll be dead before this book gets published, but I don’t care. I labored my kids, and this is my next labor of love. In the meantime, I do pretty well with what I got.

My husband loves me. I have a wonderful extended family, lots of good friends. And my children think I’m pretty okay, too. Really, I have all I need. That’s all I can ask for.

My girls and I at Muffins for Mom at their school
My girls and I at Muffins for Mom at their school
Posing sibs
Posing sibs

My honey and me
My honey and me

Are you over the idea of having it all? What would you say to someone who asked you about having it all?

About That Photo

In case you missed it in the incessant sharing over my social media streams yesterday (Happy Mother’s Day, BTW), I landed smack dab on the front cover of the Post-Gazette. Kim Lyons, whom I know via Twitter and in real life, was looking for some working moms for a story, and I pinged her to let her know I was willing to chat on the record.

I am not shy. I have some opinions.

I cannot speak for the other mothers in the story, but I can attest that Kim very much captured our conversation, and the frustration I feel with the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world. As one of my friends informed me on Facebook, “I burned my copy of ‘Lean In’. Tosh.”


Talking to Kim was easy, a giggling M jumping on me during our phone conversation notwithstanding. The photographer coming to my house was another thing altogether. I admit to being a little stressed about that. Fortunately, my work day was a little different the day the photographer could come over, so I was able to make one room presentable. I even changed into that outfit before I picked the kids up.

When the photographer showed up, he said he wanted some candid shots of what we do in the evenings.

“Well,” I said, “I would be in the kitchen cleaning up right now. But you’re not allowed to take pictures in there.” The kitchen was an unholy mess. “And since I already cleaned this room, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.” As you can see, Kate neatly solved that problem by being Kate. “Also,” I told him, “if this were truly candid, I would have yoga pants on at this time in the evening.”

I so glad we got that couch. I’m so glad that Dan recently repainted the white wall. I am extra happy I had time to pick up the room and vacuum.

But the thing I am most happy about is the bookcase in the background. I had just gotten it reorganized a day or two before, primarily with a number of hardbacks I own.

It looks nice, doesn’t it?

Just ignore the painting supplies in front of the toy bins, please.

What would you wear if you knew your picture was going to be taken for the newspaper?


The Art of Repression

So the plan to distract myself from the upcoming (perfectly routine) surgery — still 10 days away! — is not working.

It consumes me. I think about it all the time. I am worried more about Kate than about M, and then I worry that if I don’t worry more about M something bad will happen, because of course worry and anxiety are prophylactic in nature, right? (No. No, not at all.) I am picking up little gifts for Kate: a duct tape art kit, a Bink & Gollie book. I bought M a water table for the summer. Because (perfectly routine) surgery.

The school is conspiring against me. Not in that they are going to give me a hard time for Kate being absent. As a matter of fact, Kate’s teacher is already making plans to help Kate plan her work around her absence. But there’s a fundraiser for which the stuff needs to be picked up and delivered that day; and Flora has a singing concert that night — and I keep looking at the date, and thinking, “Oh. I can’t do that.”

Now fortunately, I have lots and lots of support, and I suppose it’s as good a time as any to thank a bunch of people in advance. Of course, Dan is going to be at the hospital with us the day of the surgery, and stay overnight at least one night with us there. He promised Kate. My in-laws, as always. My parents are coming to stay with us, and make sure Flora’s routine stays as normal as possible. They are going to be the ones that make sure the fundraising orders get picked up and delivered, and the ones who will see Flora sing.

Aside: Flora kinda, sorta wanted to join a singing group at her school. I signed her up, and then she kinda sorta didn’t want to do it. I encouraged her, though. I thought it would be something she would enjoy and be good at. And now I have a 9-year-old who sings to herself all the time. I don’t even think she realizes it. She sings songs from Frozen, from Sound of Music, and a couple of religious pop songs. And love hearing her. And I’m a little heartbroken that after having been so encouraging about it, I am going to miss her concert.

Yesterday, I was talking to my parents about all the Stuff They Had To Do if they Didn’t Mind Too Much the day of Kate’s and Michael’s surgeries. I think I managed to keep the panic from my voice, and they were very kind and told me not to worry about this Other Stuff, they were on it, they’d take care of it, and I got of the phone and cried in my car for awhile.

So, trying to keep anxiety at bay is not really going so well.

I have bad tendencies. I have the tendency to be anxious. And although I fight it, I have the urge to want to be in control. If having children has taught me anything, it’s that there is no room for trying to control every — or even most — outcomes.

The prospect of this surgery is the perfect storm for my two worst tendencies to come together and drive me to distraction. It is completely out of my control, and even though I know and accept that, it’s still difficult. So I make long shopping lists (Gatorade, Italian ices, applesauce, pureed fruit pouches); I obsessively avoid thinking about the mechanics of the surgery; I haven’t yet prepared myself for what comes before; and I’ve no real idea what “after” will be like. Bad, I think. Not good. I buy little presents to appease the suffering children.

It’s exhausting.

These two!
These two!

A Good Start

One of the goals on my uber-list for 2014 is to redo the front closet and paint the hallway going up the stairs.

This weekend, we started. I wish I had taken a picture of the closet before we emptied it. Here it is with the coats that will stay for now:


We put the winter coats upstairs (in M’s closet for now). And all of this stuff?


Was on top of the shelf in a big jumbled pile. I haven’t been through it in at least two years probably. I am going to go through it, and get rid of singleton gloves, hats that don’t fit, and anything that wasn’t worn last winter. And I’m going to return @mattieflap’s Gryffindor scarf.

So: New coat of paint, baskets for sorting, a shoe shelf.



I want to put contact paper on the shelf, and since we can fit one more basket in there we are going to.

Next: covering up this horror show of a hallway and hanging some pictures! This is going to happen!


This is the post that inspired the redo at my place. What small house project would feel like a big change to you?