12 Months

Dear Michael,

You are a 1 year old today.

You say duck (“uck!”), and what a duck says (“kak, kak, kak!”). That’s about it for words, although you’re working on other sound combinations. (It’s “ma” “ma”, baby.)

You walk in that endearing toddler leading-with-the-belly way. And you don’t really walk that much yet. You much prefer cruising, still, or crawling. Sometimes, you shuffle around on your knees, which is pretty damn cute, too.

You are the only baby I know who sleeps on his side.

You love your big sisters unreservedly. You are amazingly tolerant of rough-housing with Kate, and she better watch out, because I have a feeling you’re going to give as good as you get. Flora can make you belly laugh more than anyone else so far, except for when your daddy tickles your belly with his beard.

Generally speaking, you are a delight. Laid back, easy going, not terribly demanding. You are a total mama’s boy, though.

And now that you are sick, you are a whiny, clingy mess. Which is okay. You’re sick, and if I could, I would be with you again today. Letting you cling to me and wipe your snot on my shoulder.

For your birthday, we went to Children’s ER yesterday. You have a bi-lateral ear infection (that means in both ears, buddy), and you’ve been running temps ranging from 100 to 104 since Sunday. You also got a giant shot of antibiotics in the thigh.

Yeah, happy birthday. We’ll do better today. Maybe. I guess it’ll depend on what the doctor says later. You were very unhappy this morning, and you will be spending the day with Bella and Tadone.

Maybe I’ll get you a little cake for later.

Please, please, please feel better. You are breaking your parents’ heart being sick on such a happy occasion. As your Daddy tells you often, he’s been waiting 30 years for you. I haven’t been waiting quite that long. But I do know you are the baby that made our family complete. I want my easy-going mama’s boy back instead of the little bundle of snot, fever, and tears you’ve been this week. I love you no matter what, but I like your belly laughs a lot better.

Happy birthday, little boy. Feel better so we can have a big party!

All my love and hugs and kisses,

Random Thoughts: Brief and Bad

I don’t really have much good news.

I’m at trouble at work because of how much time I have been home with sick children. And you know what? I think I did the right thing staying home with them. So that’s that.

Flora woke up SCREAMING at 11:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. with ear pain. Dan’s taking her back to the doctor this afternoon.

Guess those antibiotics aren’t working.

I had ear infections as a child, and I remember how very much they hurt. As hard as it was to be empathetic at 2 a.m., I think Dan and I did okay with Flora. We were a little crankier — all right, a lot — with each other. Really have to work on that.


Oh, wait, I do have good news. The plague of insects that has descended on the house in the past few months has been stemmed. Thank goodness for cold weather.

I still see the occasional G-D FRUIT FLY buzzing around the kitchen. I make it my priority to track it through the air and squash the life out of it. We’ve a few Asian lady beetle carcasses laying around, too. It’s amazing that some of those seemingly dead bugs will rediscover their will to live (and their tiny little feet) and crawl out of the pile of crumbs I have swept up.

They aren’t very fast. They get dumped with everything else.


I have a lot of baking to do in the next 10 to 14 days. This is bad news if you are on the receiving end as I’m not much of a baker. But Flora needs cookies for her class (she’s going to be 5 years old in less than a week) and I am attending the infamous Cookie Swap with Burgh moms on Nov. 14. I have a couple of pretty easy recipes on tap; the trick will be how I deal with the kids while baking.

If I suit them both up in hazmat uniforms, I guess I can let them help.


Our new back door won’t go in because of wood rot and other problems. Do we just do something half-assed for now (and not use the back door) or do we spend thousands of dollars to do the job right and make the payments? FUDGE.


Updated to add: Flora has infections in both ears, a temp of 102, a new, stronger Rx, and she threw up in the doctor’s office. This day is just going swimmingly!

Meatless Monday: Consolation Prize

Because I have been almost completely housebound this weekend (and looks as if I will be into the near future as well), and also have had a well-stocked refrigerator, I have managed to do a lot of cooking.

On Friday, I made a crockpot minestrone soup recipe. This was my second stab at it, and it still needs some tweaking. If I get it right next time, I’ll post the recipe.

I joined a CSA farm for the first time this year (Kretschmann Farm), and I was placed on their waiting list in May. I was finally to pick up my first box of veggies a few weeks ago. Beets are big this time of year. For Saturday night’s dinner, I roasted them. Holy heck, roasted beets are tasty! I’ll be doing that again.

Then for Sunday night, I made more roasted veggies from the CSA, carrots and potatoes. The kids balked at first, but then sampled a few. Flora preferred the carrots, and Kate preferred the potatoes. Dan liked them all. Also with CSA produce, I made this risotto recipe. Next time, I should make sure I have all the vegetable stock I need because substituting in two cups of water made it too bland. But I will be trying it again, and in the meantime, I think I’m going to try some fried risotto patties with the leftovers. Also to try: this recipe for red cabbage.

Flora’s temp hovers at the 99.5-100 mark, which her pediatrician’s office tells me is part of “this” virus. (She’s also got a runny nose and one heck of a cough.) When I brought her to the doctor’s office Friday, she was diagnosed with an ear infection. After two doses of the antibiotic hadn’t killed the temp, I knew something else was up.

The most remarkable thing is her pallor. Flora is drawn and pale; her lips are too puffy (I am making sure she drinks plenty of fluids, even stooped so low to offer her Yoo-hoo — a ‘treat’ from my FIL); and she’s got dark brown circles under her eyes. The time change didn’t help her — she was up Sunday at the new 5:30 complaining of how thirsty she was; and she was up early today, too — screaming about a “ladybug” on her ceiling. Her appetite isn’t that great; she mostly prefers butter bread. She’s restless as all get out, but doesn’t have either the sustained energy or attention for doing much. (So much for having her help me dust.) (I kid. Kinda.)

Anyway, at this point, the pediatrician says she’ll probably need to be at home at least two more days. I am monitoring her temperature rather obsessively, even going so far as to take it both via an ear thermometer and an oral digital thermometer. I keep checking Kate, too. I wonder if this is the virus she had not too long ago, or if this is something else she’ll pick up.

At least we’ll have lentil soup to feast on this evening. That’s some consolation.

No Good News

Bun is sick — yes, I know, AGAIN — with some unspecified virus. She is feverish and congested, so maybe a cold. But I don’t know that a cold sends temperatures soaring over 103, as happened last night. With ibuprophen and a cold washcloth to the forehead, things came down to a less worrisome range.

She ate a whole piece of bread with jelly this morning, which is a good sign. And she’s still drinking lots. We’re just waiting for the fever to go away and stay away.

In an attempt to find out why Bun is always sick, I surfed around on the ‘net last night — a dicey proposition, I know. The sites I saw were more discouraging than scary though. Kids at Bun’s age just tend to get a lot of bugs due to immature immune systems. If they are in a daycare setting especially. And my girls go to a clean daycare, with lots of hand sanitizing and washing going on. It’s just… not the best of luck I guess.

I am seriously starting to be concerned for my job. I burned through another vacation day — I have no more sick time — to stay home with Bun yesterday, and I don’t know what I have left. And it’s only September. You can bet I’m looking at more sick days for my kids; it’s likely that Monkey will have at least one ear infection. I’m kind of hoping she dodges whatever Bun has now. I’m not exactly holding by breath.

I am feeling tired and sluggish, kind of headachy myself. I am just hoping that is due to poor sleep last night, and not the beginning of my own illness. Being cooped up in the house for the second day in a row isn’t really helping. I’m hoping that once DearDR comes home, I can at least get out for a little bit this evening. I don’t care if it’s just to wander around Target for an hour. Monkey is feeling cabin feverish, too; I promised her an outing tonight or tomorrow. I was hoping to go to the Irish Festival, or catch some RADical Days action today. No such luck.

Well, if this isn’t just about the least interesting blog post I’ve ever written, then I don’t know what is. I’m feeling gray, and it’s showing. I hope things brighten up in the next couple of days. Ciao for now.

I Didn’t See That Coming

Thank goodness I had a good time on Friday night. DearDR and I headed to the Three Rivers Arts Festivals to take in the Black Keys. Afterwards we had a beer with this guy. It was a great night.

It all came to a screeching halt when Monkey woke up at three o’clock in the morning complaining about having to throw up. After taking her temperature, which was a lovely 101.3, I tried to get some Tylenol into her. No go. She immediately threw it up (along with whatever else she had in there). DearDR helped her out; we bathed her face with a cool washcloth, then all four of us fell back to sleep in our bed. (Shockingly — not — all the activity woke Bun.)

DearDR took off for work around 8 a.m. Monkey slept on, burning up, now an even lovelier 102.8. I tried some more Tylenol but she sicked that right up too. After a phone consult with my pharmacist mother, I sent Bun to Bella’s and tried to get Monkey in a bath to bring the temperature down. I intended to send Bella for Tylenol suppositories, but I noticed a fine rash all over Monkey’s face, so we headed to the pediatrician’s instead. She was so lethargic, I had to carry her.

I know what the term “glassy eyed” looks like now. A bit of an education I could have done without, thanks.

Turns out the rash on her face was something called pitikia, and generally appears when little blood vessels in the face burst from the heaving of vomiting. Well, she certainly had had that going on. However, one look in her throat, and the doctor declared, “Oh, that’s strep.” He backed off a little saying they would do a culture to be positive, but between her throat and the rash on her torso, it was almost surely strep.

It was.

As I was running the necessary errand to the pharmacy, I reflected that such a day with such a sick child certainly was a distraction from grief.

It also got me to thinking of a post I had read recently at Niobe’s place. Which, summed up, basically says if you put your troubles in a big pile with everyone else’s, you’d take yours right back up again after looking around.

This is pretty much true in my case too, especially now. I love my girls, and my husband, and my life. Yeah, I would tweak a few things here and there — who wouldn’t?

What about six years ago, though? If I had to throw my grief on the pile, my life after babyloss, wouldn’t I quickly snatch up someone else’s bag? I mean, anything had to be better than this.

But then I thought, well that would mean someone else would have to pick up Gabriel. Pick up where I left off. To whom would I do that? One of these families?

I declared on the first day in that hospital room: “If I have to go through this so that no one else I know has to, I’ll do it.” I meant it too. Kind of magical thinking in reverse.

I’d pick my bag right back up. Now, six years ago, anytime. Hell, I have it good. Gabriel’s loss is the worst thing that ever happened to me. But I own my troubles, not the other way around.

What about you?

Random Thoughts: Thursday Quickies

Look for Lost thoughts tomorrow. I have to write a little bit about “Some Like It Hoth” from two weeks ago along with last night’s episode.


Dear Bun, Please stop getting sick. Or, conversely, if you’re not really sick, please stop that yellowish goo from coming out of your nose. You have no fever, you are sleeping great, eating well, and… your energy is certainly not diminished. To put it mildly. So you’ve got ear tubes now, which is great, although it seems to mean that all that crap that got trapped behind your eardrums now is free to flow copiously out of your left nostril.

It’s really disgusting, honey. Please clear up. Thanks. Love, Mommy


Dear Monkey, I know: you want Daddy. I know. I cannot provide Daddy at my whim, or yours — oh, would that I could. And I know that my inability to produce Daddy at your whim, along with my being such a hardliner about meals and baths and bedtimes makes me a mean mommy, but having you tell me that with tears standing in your pretty baby blues really hurts my feelings. I don’t get to spend much time with you these days, and I would like our time together to be more pleasant and less frustrating for both of us. Let’s work on it, okay? Thanks. Love, Mommy.


I started The Thirteenth Tale, and I joined Goodreads (both at the suggestion of Kelly at Peace, Love and Flowers). I’m excited about these developments, which pretty much goes to prove what a literary geek I am.


Still looking for a babysitter for May 1 so DearDR and I can go see the premiere of Wolverine. Any takers?

And yes, DearDR knows I have a thing for Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine). That’s why we’re going — correction, trying to go — to the premiere. Because DearDR loves me very much and wants to see me happy. Heck, he even brought me the Entertainment Weekly magazine with Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine) on the cover. In Wolverine’s signature wife beater. Be still my heart.

I may be a literary geek, but I’m still a flesh-and-blood woman. Hear me *rowr*.


I know there’s been a lot of fist-shaking at the media about all this Swine Flu reporting — oh, sorry, H1N1 — but this image has been making me laugh for days now. Thanks to Brandon at thinkoutsidethepun.blogspot.com.

And look at it this way: If it were something truly serious, wouldn’t you want this level of alert? The government and the media are just trying to do their jobs, and inspire confidence in the systems used to warn people about this stuff. It sucks that it can raise anxiety levels for a disease that’s just like the regular flu, pretty much, but what’s that old saying?

Better safe than sorry.

Random Thoughts: Cranky Version II

I honestly wonder if there is an underlying problem.

Bun is sick again. Last week, she had no ear infection, and she was perfectly healthy when we left on Friday for a weekend out of town.

And now? Fever — over 100 for two days — coughing so hard she gags, congestion, and continuing constipation. Not eating well, not drinking well, not sleeping well.

I wonder if there is something that is making her vulnerable to every virus that comes along. I am seriously concerned, and I am not sure what to do.

When I called my pediatrician, I was told the cough could last for up to three weeks. To make her comfortable, I should run a humidifier in her room (done) and I could give her some OTC cough syrup like Delsym. If she runs a fever again today, I can take her to the office.

Yippee skippy.

I am thinking of taking her back to a chiropractor. And also of putting her on a dairy-free diet. I think that may help with the congestion and constipation.

I just don’t know what else to do. Surgery — ear tubes and/or an adenoidectomy — are only going to address the ear infections. Not that would be any small feat. But I don’t know if that’s going to stop the sick cycle.

I kind of doubt it.

Also, if someone could tell me where I put all the plastic eggs for Easter I would really appreciate it. We have about two dozen around this house somewhere, and if I have to run out at lunch tomorrow — especially if it’s during the wintry mix we’re supposed to be getting — someone is going to be very, very unhappy. Monkey is supposed to be doing an egg hunt at preschool on Thursday, and she can’t if she doesn’t have eggs.

I would like to put in for some spring. Thank you.

Adaptive Biology

Before I had children, the idea of changing diapers and cleaning up vomit made me, literally, gag. Even the actual changing of diapers the few times I babysat an infant made me throw up in my mouth a little. I didn’t baby sit very much.

Somehow when it’s your own kid, though, these things don’t even make you blink. Vomit, diarrhea, snot, drool — you name it. If it’s flowing out of Bun or Monkey, it doesn’t turn my stomach. (Blood is the exception to the rule. Blood on your baby pushes the panic button.)

This is very curious to me, but I’m sure there’s some biological explanation. After all if our children revolted us with their basic bodily functions, it would be difficult to care for them. So much for the perpetuation of the species.

And it’s a good thing too, because Bun threw up spectacularly Wednesday night. I knew something was up when she didn’t even touch her dinner. Although she seemed just fine playing, she started crying when I tried to bathe her. And then as I was drying her off, she puked.

I caught most of the first wave in her towel, and got her to the toilet. As I was giving her another bath, she puked a little in the tub, too.

Poor Bun.

Her temperature was 102.2, so fingers crossed I gave her a little water and a dose of ibuprophen. She kept that all down and slept through the night.

I got up Thursday and got ready to go to work. Bun started crying, and I went into get her. She seemed a little warm, and she cried for “dinkie, dinkie”, Bun for drink. Dummy me, I gave her some water. I gave her more water. And then she puked all that up, too, at 6:30 a.m.

I thought Dan didn’t start until 1 p.m., but it turns out he had a 9 a.m. patient, so I had to call into work.

Bun insisted on yogurt at 8:30 a.m., and I lost the argument with her. “You’re just going to throw that up,” holds no water with a hungry 2-year-old. Although her fever continued to hover around 100, she did not vomit again the rest of the day. I fed her what I consider ‘sick food’: crackers, soup, buttered noodles. For Bun, she was lethargic, although still energetic enough to play with some toys and try to help me fold laundry. She napped for almost four hours.

She seems to be well on the mend. I have my fingers crossed (again) that I won’t get a call from daycare. And that I won’t be cleaning up more puke this weekend.

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas…

…And all through the house roamed sick toddlers and a stressed out husband.

I came to work.

To clarify my last post: I was very, very ill on Sunday, not just sick about not having a Christmas tree. I spent most of the day on the couch, even napping during the first half of the Steelers’ game. (Should’ve napped through the rest of it.) Sore throat, very achy. DearDR spent most of the day with Monkey next door; Bun and I muddled through at home.

I managed to cook a very yummy lentil stew for dinner. I also put together gifts for my daughter’s kindergarten teachers (only two, thank goodness). I was going to bake cookies on Sunday, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before… oh, the new year, probably. Too bad, because I have tons of flour, sugar, and butter at home now! (DearDR, bless him, did the grocery shopping.)

Also, bless DearDR for buying a Christmas tree. He brought home a pretty little Fraser fir last night. Now we just gotta throw some decorations on it.

Here is why DearDR is stressed out: My in-laws decided to take their car (the Cadillac) to the shop today. They want to use the station wagon. The children have to go to the doctor (Bun’s Rx does not seem to be helping her; Monkey is complaining about a sore throat — hey, wouldn’t it be hysterical if she had mono?? hahahaha! No). They are currently scheduled for back-to-back appointments at 10:15 (the doctor’s office is only open a half day today).

And DearDR has not bought one Christmas gift. For anyone. Well, no, that’s not true — he bought iTunes gift cards at the grocery store for his teenage cousin.

Do you know how many people DearDR has to buy for?

One. Me.

If he wants, he can also purchase gifts for his parents and his grandmother. But the past few years, we have primarily only purchased gifts for the kids in the family. It is too expensive to do otherwise. This year especially.

Sooooo, I am facing the reality that I may not get any gifts from my husband this year. I am having a difficult time with it. [See update below.]

I don’t want to be angry, but I am angry. After all, I’m the one over here trying to get my children to appreciate that Christmas is not about presents and Santa, but about Jesus’ birth.

(Had to review this last night with Monkey:
“What is Christmas about, Monkey?”
“No, it’s Jesus’ birthday.”
“Oh, I thought it was about presents.”
“Well, Jesus was the best present of all.”
I could see in her little head she was thinking, “I am still getting presents, right?”)

Part of me feels really bad for DearDR. He loves Christmas shopping — he loves shopping for gifts in general, really — but he is stuck. He doesn’t plan well; he’s not very organized; he spends almost all of his time working. If he had thought ahead a little bit, he could have ordered gifts online, and he’d be done. And now, instead of going shopping, he’s got the kids all day; he has to take them to the doctor; he is stranded without a car until his parents get back from the garage. He doesn’t really know what to get me. We didn’t exchange lists this year, and he can’t spend that much money, anyway.

I am trying to let my sympathy and my Christian spirit carry me through or past my anger. I’m having uneven results. Besides, it’s not a foregone conclusion — after all, we get our prescriptions filled at Target, that mecca of shopping!

I just want to focus on making Christmas a fun day for my children. I want us to go to church as a family. I want them to enjoy the tree, and opening their presents. Maybe when Bun naps Christmas day, Monkey and I will try to bake a few cookies (note to self: must stop eating pistachios DearDR bought for recipe) before we go next door to my in-laws.

I need to find it in my heart to let DearDR off the hook. (This year, anyway!) And he has to do the same to himself. Yeah, it stinks. But DearDR is not a bad guy. He’s not a mean guy. He’s not out to hurt me.

He makes me laugh. He’s a good father. He makes awesome green beans. He works damn hard, too hard sometimes. He is good at doing things around the house — unstopping drains and fixing dryer vents and changing furnace filters.

This is the guy I married. And I love him.

Merry Christmas, DearDR. Take it easy on yourself, okay?

Edited to add: Monkey has an ear infection in her left ear. Bun has a sinus infection to go with her two ear infections.

At least he will be going to Target. I will be getting Christmas booty! And maybe some green beans later. Mmmm.

Merry Christmas Eve. Sigh.

In Case You Were Wondering

In a direct contrast to my last post, this weekend was horrible.

DearDR was sick.

Bun was sick.

And we found evidence of mice in our kitchen.

DearDR simply has a cold, but still, you know what a sick husband is like. I give him a lot of credit for not bugging me, and just sleeping until 2 p.m. on Sunday. As much as I needed him to help with cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen, or taking care of Bun, or playing with the utterly non-diminished-energy-level Monkey, it was better that he was completely unconscious. It helped him and helped me, because I pretty gave into the inevitable, which was to come to terms with this fact:

I am one person, and I can only do so much.

Bun ran a fever from Friday all the way through Sunday. I had already decided I was going to take her to the doctor today. Along with the fever, she had decreased appetite, and couldn’t sleep very well. She was pretty listless.

To top it all off, she had a terrible case of mommy-clingitis. I could not remove that child from my lap.

As much as I wanted to play outside with Monkey and/or clean my invaded kitchen, I pretty much sat around with a hot toddler on my lap for long stretches throughout the weekend. A lot of which we also spent at my in-laws house because no one is allowed to eat in my kitchen until the critters are caught and/or all evidence of their being there is eradicated.

In light of the fact that Bun actually was not running a fever this morning, I pretended all was back to normal. I was late to work, because I did wait to talk to the pediatrician’s office. They said if the fever came back, I should have her seen.

By the time I got to my desk, DCL had called.

Bun’s temperature was 100.5, and she wouldn’t leave DCL’s lap. She has a 5:15 appointment this evening.

Here we go again. I’m tired.