Monday, February 28, 2011

The Big Itch

So Saturday morning we decided to travel approximate two miles down the street to take the kids roller skating.   I will have to come back and write another post about that experience alone because, whoa, it was like a flash back to the fifth grade.  Plus putting inexperienced children on skates is comedic gold, am I right?

What started as a fun, even whimsical weekend quickly took a nosedive.  Around mid-afternoon on Saturday Michael started complaining of a sore ear and began running a mild fever.  No problem, I thought, a little ibuprofen will carry us through and I'll make an appointment first thing Monday morning.  Haha.

Matt stayed home so Michael could sleep in Sunday morning while I took Harper to church.  It is important to note that I did not see Michael awake before we left...

After church we chatted with some of our friends who remarked on the absence of our male contingent.  No problem I said haughtily, just a little ear infection brewing, we'll go to the doctor tomorrow, no need to run to urgent care for that.  Man, has parenthood taught me nothing?

Once we arrived home I knew something was wrong the minute Michael spoke to me.  It sounded like he had a couple of marshmallows stuck in his throat.  I cringe just thinking about what it looked like in there - so swollen his tonsils were pretty much touching - I have no idea how he was swallowing.

Of to urgent care we went, armed with a huge bag of books and a dose of ibuprofen for the road.  Both the nurse and nurse practitioner who looked at Michael's throat had audible shocked reactions -so hard to believe that happen over night - and we left after about two hours with a script for some antibiotics.

That should be the end of the story, but no, not so much.

Michael took the first dose of meds with no problem.  After dinner I tried to give him another dose - which he tried to spit out - I figured he just didn't want to swallow because his throat was so sore...  but five minutes later he was scratching at his neck and pulling at the collar of his sweatshirt.  I stripped his shirt off to see that his entire trunk was splotchy and red, as well as his neck and shoulders.  Yikes.  Because of our history with allergies I have a really, really hard time not going into an internal panic when I see signs of an allergic reaction.  Unfortunately we couldn't even give him Benadryl because he'd already taken his daily does of Claritin.

I called the after-hours line for our pediatrician and talked with a grumpy nurse who told me I had to call urgent care.  I called urgent care to get more unhelpful advice - don't give him any more of that med (duh) and call 911 if he starts to have trouble breathing (again, duh).  They did say I could use Harper's EpiPen on him if  his throat started to swell shut, which was the only reassuring bit of information to get.  Although if I thought Michael was having an anaphylactic allergic reaction I wouldn't wait for permission to use our EpiPens.

We watched him closely for a couple of hours before finally putting him to bed.  As soon as we dropped Harper off at school this morning it was off to the pediatrician for a closer look and a new prescription.  Poor guy looks like he has a sunburn and may stay that way for up to a week.

I am telling you we better be through with all these germs and soon because I am feeling beat right down but these never ending sicknesses.  Spring cannot come fast enough.


You still have a couple of hours to enter the book giveaway, I'll count all comments left before midnight!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Little Informant

Well I woke up in a spectacularly foul mood today.  How about you?

This just, happens, sometimes.  Even the sun peeping out for a bit this afternoon has not improved my mood.  Even the prospect of the book giveaway is not cheering me this afternoon.  In addition to feeling generally steamed, I am ready to strangle Harper right now.

Do you know what my six-year-old has been doing?  Hoarding raisins and fruit snacks in her bedroom.  I actually knew about this because she shared her secret with my mother and sister when they were here visiting last week.  (Yes children, we really do tell each other everything, sorry for the betrayal.)  I didn't bust her right away and actually found it sort of hilarious that she was keeping fruit snacks under wraps.  Apparently we are so stingy with the dessert around here that she felt the need to keep some backups at the ready.Although she told my mom and sister that she was saving them for a surprise for me - suspicious since she's surely never seen me actually eat a fruit snack.  Anyway I figured a time would come when I'd be able to call her on it, and I was right.

Today Michael told me that he had fruit snacks under his bed.  What?  So he showed me.  I asked where they came from and he told me he got them from Harper.  That's right eldest child of mine, your little brother can speak now, think twice about what you show/tell him.

So Michael took me into Harper's room and pulled a pencil case out from under her bed.  It was stuffed with fruit snacks.  There were also two empty fruit snacks boxes under her bed.  And you know what, while I don't want to encourage the children to hide food in their rooms, that isn't the part that bothered me.  The lying is what really gets to me.

Lie 1: I don't know where he got them.

Lie 2: He got them from the pantry.

Lie 3: I put the boxes in the recycling last week.

Lie 4: I don't have any more.

(Further coaxing reveals more fruit snacks and raisins in her purse.)

Lie 5: I didn't eat any of them.

Ugh. Even when she knows she's cornered she still lies!

From my experience teaching little kids I know that this is perfectly normal 6-year-old behavior.  They panic when they are cornered with their own wrong-doing and tell bold-faced-lies rather than give in to the evidence laid out before them.  I know this, but wow, I really hate being lied to.

I think I have said before that I believe it is actually good for kids to think they are getting away with something from time to time.  It strengthens their sense of self. So there are a handful of infractions that I will knowingly overlook, but lying is not one of them.

Now comes the tricky part - Matt and I will have to decide on a consequence for the food-stashing-and-lying-about-it.  What would you do?

Seriously, don't forget to enter the book giveaway and to tell your friends to come enter.  Comments open until Monday!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February Lift (There's a Giveaway!)

We had the most tantalizing glimpse of spring last week, and it was followed by a Sunday afternoon mix of snow, sleet, and hail.  Blerg.

I wonder if I am not the only one with the need for a little pick-me-up these days...

If you are feeling a little anxious waiting for the arrival of SPRING! try this activity to cure the winter blues:

1. Realize a talented author is living in a neighborhood mere minutes from your house.

2. Get your book club to agree to read her latest novel. (Not difficult to do).

3. Use the fact that you once worked in different divisions of the same school to embolden yourself to contact her and ask if she would consider meeting with your book club.

4. Introduce your fun and interesting book club to aforementioned talented author.  Enjoy good food and wine and discussing of books.  Laugh a lot.  Happily realize that said author is indeed as delightful as you would hope the writer of some of your favorite books would be.

I guarantee that following steps one through four will cure your cabin fever, or distract you from it at the very least. However, if you are not fortunate enough to be able to recreate the above scenario (What? You're not ALL loosely connected to talented neighborhood authors?) I can offer you the next best thing - one of her books!

Our book club was so fortunate to enjoy the company of Katrina Kittle as we discussed her most recent novel, The Blessings of the Animals.  Of course the best way to keep a favorite author writing books is to support her by purchasing her already published books.  I'm very happy to do my part by giving her books as gifts and that includes giving one of them to one of YOU!  As a bonus, Katrina has agreed to sign the giveaway book with a personal message, and she may also share some swag from her publisher.

To enter the giveaway just comment on this post by Monday, February 28th.  Any comment will do, but it would be highly efficient to check out the books on Katrina's website and tell me which of her books you'd like to receive if you are the lucky winner.  I also welcome stories of both wonderful or horrific book club experiences.  (Is there such a thing as a horrific book club experience?)  One entry per person, please, and feel free to spread the word.  If there are more than thirty comments I will give away TWO books. (The winner(s) will be chosen by random number generator.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Old Friends

From first through eighth grade I attended a small Catholic school in a little Wisconsin town.  There were nine people in my eighth grade class.  Seventh and eighth grades were taught in the same room by the same teacher - and even then there were only 15 of us.  Of the people in my eighth grade class, six of us had been together in school since that first day of first grade.  Of those six people, the only one I am still close friends with is Colleen, who right this minute (due to uncooperative weather in Wisconsin) is sitting next to me on my living room sofa.

I cannot adequately express how happy this makes me.  I'm sorry she couldn't get home to her own house and children tonight, but I'm thrilled that I was able to offer her a place to stay when she became stranded in Ohio.

Colleen is an assistant volleyball coach for a Big-Ten university and had been in town recruiting this weekend.  I was already fortunate enough to catch up with her last night - when she came to visit before heading to her hotel.  We stayed up way too late talking and looking at old pictures and now we get to do it again tonight.

I have a handful of friends like Colleen - people who I know well enough that it genuinely never matters how much time has passed since we've last seen each other.  Before tonight the last time I'd seen Colleen was two years ago when we were on vacation in Wisconsin.  And before that I hadn't seen her since her wedding five or six years earlier.  We don't even talk frequently, but she does read here (Hi Colleen!) and we exchange the occasional email.

So even though she'd never met my children before yesterday and we hadn't spoken in a couple of years, it was as natural as ever to sit down and eat with her last night and to invite her to stay tonight.  AND I didn't even feel the need to play hostess.  Matt and I just finished watching the newest episode of The Amazing Race and Colleen, who doesn't watch it, sat with us and read her book.  I cannot think of many people, other than my immediate family, who could just slide in and hang out with us like that.  It probably seems strange that we were watching TV and she was reading when we so rarely get to spend time together, but like I said, there was a lot of catching up yesterday. It's just comfortable. Perhaps that's how it always is with someone you've known since you were six.

I don't take it for granted, having a friend I am so entirely at ease with.  Even in this age of hyper-connectedness, a 27 year friendship is a remarkable relationship.  It is awesome, and I am thankful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Some people get up early on Valentine's Day to decorate the kitchen or make heart-shaped pancakes or shower their kids with Valentine related trinkets.  We are not those people.

I have nothing against Valentine's Day but both of my children were over the moon about their school celebrations and I really don't see any reason to raise the bar when they are happy with the status quo. Although, I should note that Michael told me sadly that they didn't have circle time today, but they will have it tomorrow.  He missed circle time.  I would also like to note that I made four batches of Rice Krispies treats last night so the morning and afternoon kindergarten classes would have a safe snack.

The first year Harper had a school Valentine party we bought a bunch of craft supplies and had her make the Valentine cards for her friends.  (Actually I ended up in the hospital on bed rest that Valentine's Day, so Matt or Nana helped her make her cards.)  That was fine, but here's the thing:  Valentines are not expensive.  It is great to make them if you're looking for a fun family activity.  But buying Valentines is not going to break the bank.  In fact, for the initial investment we made into Valentine making supplies, I'm sure I could have purchased enough pre-made Valentines to see Harper through elementary school.  I totally phoned it in this year and both kids went to school with store-bought cards.  I think it cost us about four dollars.

Harper did have to make a Valentine box to take to school.  I wrapped a cardboard box for her, cut a hole in the top, and let her go to town with stickers, crayons, etc. I'm fairly certain there isn't much of an artistic streak running through this branch of the family tree.  When you let six-year-olds decorate their own Valentine boxes, the results are uninspiring, but at least they are proud.  I think there's a good parenting lesson in there somewhere.  If you let the kids do their own work (whether it is decorating a box or making their beds) it never looks as good as it would with lots of help from you, but it's not your job.  And Harper actually said yesterday, "I'm so proud!  This is my first Valentine's box!"

I'm not sure what the point of this post is, maybe just to remind myself that it's okay that we don't knock ourselves out trying to make everything extra special for our kids all the time.  My children seem to enjoy life without a lot of intervention on my part!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow What Fun

Once upon a time, approximately two years ago, my mom gave the kids a snowman kit.  And we've been waiting two winters to use it.

Let me explain something about winter in this part of Ohio.  It is not unusual for us to get through the winter having had very little snow.  What snow we do get often doesn't last very long.  In fact we're not in the habit of clearing our driveway when we get a couple of inches of snow because it usually melts before it causes much trouble.  Oddly enough, when we do get snow, it is often either super light and powdery or it is subject to a melt/freeze cycle that leaves it with an icy crust on top.  Much to Harper's chagrin neither type of snow is very conducive to snowman building.

(Michael would sit into the snow and then immediately yell, "Pick me up! Pick me up!  Me stuck!)

This winter we've had more than our fair of snow, as, I realize, has most of the rest of the country.  This winter's pattern has been to snow and then immediately get so cold that I can't stand to take the children out into the snow.

Finally today, after what feels like eons of waiting, conditions in the front yard were actually favorable for snowman building.

Apparently conditions were also favorable for random leaf finding; Harper added that leaf to her collection which is part of some grand plan she has to build her own ant farm.

It has been a very long time since I tried to build a snowman*.  And the yard had only about one inch of packable snow on top of the ice layer...  I helped get the process started and then Matt tagged-in when I had to go inside to take a phone call and begin dinner.

Matt and the kids ended up building the snowman in a manner that reminded me of making sandcastles.  Attempts to roll three distinct snowballs were abandoned in favor of a snow pile.  Amateurs.

In the end the snowman turned out just fine, thank you very much.  I'm exceedingly grateful I won't have to go through another year listening to Harper bemoan the fact that she has not been able to use that snowman kit!

*I may be having creative memory here, but it seems to me that rolling a snowball was a lot easier when I was a kid.  Once we got it started we'd roll it once or twice across the yard and have a nicely sized snowman body part to work with.  Northern folks - am I imagining this?  Were the snowmen of my childhood a lot smaller than my memory suggests?  Was it difficult to get a substantial snowball?  Because today it felt like I spent an awful lot of time with my hind end in the air rolling a snowball around the yard with not much to show for it - and I don't think the neighbors appreciated the view!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Moving Forward

I suppose it is time to put football aside and start dreaming of spring... Our temps are supposed to be in the forties next week and Matt has already suggested we put on our shorts and plan a picnic. It never ceases to amaze me how the forty degrees that feel so cool in October are simply heaven come February. For now I'm going to ignore the fact that warmer weather also means the yard will be a giant mud puddle and Rebound (and the floors) will be extra filthy for a solid six weeks. You take the good, you take the bad...

We've had some big changes in the last few weeks and I can hardly believe Christmas was less than two months ago. Michael has transitioned out of both the school programs he was in this fall and into four-morning-a-week public preschool, where he will receive weekly speech services. He began at his new school last Monday, but thanks to a great deal of ice Monday was the only day he had school. We're three for three so far this week, with one day left to go. He howls when I leave in the morning, and truly nothing is quite as heartbreaking as your child screaming, "Mooooommmyyyyy!" as you walk away from him. But in the end I know we are doing a good thing and they tell me he is through screaming before I even get back to the car. It also helps that he chatters happily about his day when I bring him home. Today he counted! With a pointer! And did a joyful skipping dance around the kitchen as he reenacted the events. He'll be fine.

Harper is going through something right now. I'm guessing there is a normal inability (or unwillingness) to attend to anything parents say that comes with six-year-old territory. But beside that, she's been a little extra tired, clingy, and crying at the drop of a hat. I think it is a little too early for adolescence to be setting in so we'll keep and eye on her and see. She is really, REALLY reading now (books with more than five words on a page) and it is so much fun. AND it means there are things we have to be careful of that we hadn't needed to think about previously. I recently discovered she could read over my shoulder as I was typing. She also recently brought home a flyer for Girl Scouts and proclaimed, "It's not too late!" Which, of course, is exactly what the flyer said. It's really too bad you can't turn the reading thing on and off for a couple of years. I have to start putting notes to her teacher into envelopes!

Did I tell you that my netbook arrived? I LOVE it. I can't believe how long I was chained to that computer desk! I am typing this from my kitchen. I have been freed! (Also, if you've been waiting two or three years to get an email reply from me, this might be your lucky month.)

I think that's all, for today. I wondered if you'd need a little updating, what with three posts in a row about our love for the Superbowl winning Green Bay Packers. Never fear, regular scheduled programming has returned.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Last One I Promise

Scenes from a victorious evening:

Harper was taking some kind of notes about the score.

Michael was practicing to lead the Packers when Rodgers retires.

Even the beer knew how to support the Packers.

A little good luck shrine went a long way.

Soooooo happy!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

We Interrupt Your Weekend

Please excuse the brief change in blog appearance. I'm quite certain that many of you who read here do not care about football, but I do. And this weekend, my team, a team in which I actually own a share of stock, The Green Bay Packers, are playing in the Super Bowl. I am not ashamed to admit that I actually shed a couple of tears two weekends ago when the Packers won the NFC championship game and secured their spot in this Sunday's contest.

We always have my in-laws over for the Super Bowl and have the same meal each time: cheesy chicken casserole, bread, veggies. Everything aside from the veggies I will prepare ahead today because I fully intended to soak in the hours and hours of pre-game coverage that will air tomorrow. I'm sorry not to have been home in Wisconsin this week to catch all the local coverage as well.

If you've paid any attention to the weather this week, you'll see that Pittsburgh and Green Bay have brought northern winter weather to Dallas. Thoughtful of them, no?

The best part of Sunday is that everyone watching in our house will be rooting for the Packers with me - I hope to sit back and enjoy one heck of a victory.

If you are the type of person inclined to watch the Super Bowl, but don't really care which team wins, go ahead and root for the Packers - you won't regret it.

I'll try to post a picture or two of the kids in their Packer gear tomorrow - Go Pack Go!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Words About Weather

Oh goody, another person writing about winter weather!

So, uh, I thought it was March, that is supposed to come in like a lion.

(Note to March: That is not a challenge.)

We aren't exactly buried in snow here, but our weather has been strange over the last two days.

No school on Tuesday, because overnight the world became coated in ice. Matt stepped one step out the front door to retrieve the paper Tuesday morning and ended up on his hip on the stoop. The ice made the snow in our front yard look glazed. Every time Rebound went out to use the bathroom he did his best Bambi impression.

Oh, and just to keep things interesting, Harper woke up vomiting on Tuesday - at least she was already off the hook for school.

More sleet/freezing rain stuff fell throughout the day on Tuesday. Then it warmed up enough that it started to rain Tuesday evening. The rain made puddles on top of the ice layer on top of the snow.

As it warmed and rained it sounded like the trees were hurling things at our roof. I don't know what exactly we were hearing, but it was loud enough to send my heart racing and had the children covering their ears. This sound went on ALL NIGHT. It was like a wild animal was racing around on the roof (and not a rodent, something larger, a tiger?) jumping and sliding and clawing - winter trying desperately to leap upon us in our beds.

Around 1:30 in the morning the power went out. I know this because it went out, Michael immediately started screaming, and then it flashed back on long enough for the time - 1:28 - to register on my clock before we were plunged into a more lasting darkness.

We found a flashlights, lit a (jar) candle, and I played the, "Please FTLOG go back to sleep Michael" game for the next three hours. Fun times!

Fortunately, because it was relatively warm outside (in the thirties?), the temperature in the house didn't drop too much over night - it was around 60 when we woke up in the morning.

The temperature was supposed to drop rapidly during the day, so we ended up packing some necessities and driving the ten minutes to Matt's parents who still had power. The worst part of that trip was getting the kids up Mike and Ann's (slightly) sloped and (very) icy driveway. Michael did pretty well, I held him under the arms and he sort of shuffled his way to the garage. Harper was a bit more challenging, legs flailing every which way as I tried to keep her from pulling both of us down onto the ice.

Then we ate some breakfast and tore the living room apart. My in-laws have the patience of saints.

We returned home in the afternoon - after checking with neighbors and then calling our answering machine to make sure power had been restored.

Then it got very windy and snowed a couple of inches. The end.

How have your last 48 hours been?