Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Photos

Katie (my baby sister), Trystan, and Charlotte

Princess Charlotte showing off her new dress-up clothes

Trystan's big toy


Trystan figures out how to unwrap a gift

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sleep

We should be heading back for St. Louis this afternoon. I really, really hope that Charlotte sleeps the whole way. She has not napped more than 10 minutes at a time since the drive here on Saturday afternoon, and has been up till 10 every night. She normally pushes her bedtime back until 9 or later, but takes a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoons to compensate.

Trystan's sleep schedule is out of whack too, but he's getting in enough hours of shuteye. Unfortunately they're not the hours that we would choose. Last night he fell asleep around 6:30 St. Louis time, and slept for about 3 hours. That was just long enough for us to get started on a game of Diplomacy (Aside: if you've never heard of it, it's kind of like Risk, but you end up spending a lot of time making deals with the other players in order to attack or defend your territories..all that talking makes for a long game). My husband and I took turns attempting to put Trystan back down to sleep for probably over an hour, until we finally gave up and just brought him back downstairs, where he got mad about not being allowed to eat our pencils and paper.

Sometime around 11 or midnight, I abdicated my position in the game and headed for bed. I was too tired to think straight. My husband played my holdings for a while until everyone called a draw. Trystan still wasn't asleep. I put him in his bed and let him cry for a while, after he refused any milk or snuggles (unless I would let him claw my lips off, which I do not appreciate). It was some time after my husband had come to bed before the crying-snoozing-waking-crying cycle finally was broken for the rest of the night and Trystan just slept. Somehow Charlotte slept through the whole ordeal (we're all in the same room). Trystan was up and moving by 7:30 St. Louis time this morning.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas drizzle

It turns out my vent may have been fueled by a bit more than annoyance. After I tried to go to sleep last night, my stomach hurt. I wasn't sure for a while if my dinner was going to come out in a hurry, from one end or the other. By the time I finally started feeling better, Trystan woke up and puked all over me. Poor little guy. After I got him cleaned up and changed into fresh jammies, he went back down and slept really well until about 8 this morning. He woke up, had some breakfast (milk and baby oatmeal), a bath, more milk, and was back asleep by 10. It's now 12:30 (local time) and he's just now waking back up. My stomach is feeling better--though it did feel the need to empty its contents in a hurry when I woke up.

Man I hate getting sick. I'm not good at recognizing that my horrible moods are caused by not feeling well until I really fall awful. Blech.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Steam

Bah Humbug.

We're at my mom's. This is our first long-distance trip with Trystan, which means it's the first one we've attempted with two children. Both kids were OK for the drive, though a portable DVD player in the car did wonders for Charlotte's attitude. Right now, sleep is their problem (well, it's ours more than theirs).

The original idea was for my husband and I to share my mom's full-size guest bed, Trystan to sleep in a pack n play, and Charlotte to sleep in my baby's sister's unused bunk bed. 3 out of 4 of us were happy with the arrangement, but Charlotte would not go to sleep in her aunt's bed. Not with snuggles and books, certainly not with the door shut (to keep out the dog and cats). She has issues with closed doors. There is barely room for 2 of us in that full-size bed (we're used to a king...), and adding a toddler does not help. We did convince Char to sleep on blankets on the floor next to us. Convince, cajole, threaten, whatever.

Here's the current breakdown of sleeping arrangements. I am #2 of 5 girls. #1 and her significant other are here, staying at Mom's, as of tonight they're in teh bunk beds. I'm here with hubby and 2 kids, all 4 of us in a 10x12 guest room. #3 can't make it because of school committments (she was studying poisonous frogs on a tropical island until yesterday). #4 lives here in town with her SO. #5 is 11 and still lives with Mom. She's sleeping in Mom's room for the holiday.

So tonight, after I spent my "free time" of the evening addressing Christmas card envelopes, while my husband sat around playing card games with two of my sisters. Oh, he logged onto this laptop (which is nominally mine), and attempted to chat with his mom a bit too. I then went grocery shopping with my mom. When we got back, I tried to hurry up and finish the cards (my husband addressed a handful while we were gone...maybe 6 out of the 40 or so..).

Then Trystan was tired so I went upstairs to put his jammies on and nurse him. He was very nearly out when Charlotte came banging into the bedroom, climbed up on the bed, talking nonstop, and wanted to play. She played with Trystan, she played out of her clothes and into her jammies, and then she played with Trystan some more. Clearly, the baby was not asleep. I finally put Trystan in the pack and play, and let Charlotte entertain him there (he was outright giggling by that time and not settling down at all), and went down to yell at my husband, who was still engrossed in a card game with my sisters and didn't realize that Charlotte was even upstairs.

We both then went back upstairs and attempted to get both kids to bed. By then, sister #4 came in to say that everyone else (#1, #4, #5, and 2 significant others) were going out for a late dinner because the guys were hungry. She invited us along, but there was no way for us to leave the kiddos even if they were asleep already (Mom has to work tomorrow briefly, and was not a candidate for baby duty).

After more nursing and more convincing, I went to the restroom and my husband ended up getting both kids to sleep. I tried to gather up our scattered belongings for the night, to help cut down the chaos level in the house.

I then tried to log in for some precious surfing or blogging or (gasp!) writing time. Unfortunately, some combination of my husband updating Messenger, or perhaps updating Guild Wars, or maybe some other nefarious program managed to cripple Internet Explorer for over half an hour. I could clik on links on a web page, but could not type anything into the explorer bar, or it would lock up. I uninstalled a large number of unnecessary and suspect programs (no spyware, but several Yahoo things that were junk, IM, games that hadn't been touched in over a year, etc), and ran Windows Update and finally seem able to actually surf.

So basicaly, I'm in a bad mood. Travel with kids is not that fun. 3-year olds who are schedule driven do not handle changes of bedtime routines well. I vented to my husband about the whole playing-games-and-not-wathcing-children thing, and about the playing-games-while-there's-work-to-be-done thing (those are variations on a theme). I feel better after venting, though the two of us haven't really worked out that issue yet. He's probably still annoyed with me for being annoyed with him.

The Christmas Card thing is probably on it's last year. They're cute. But they're a pain in the neck every time we've tried to do them, and somehow I always feel like I'm doing a majority of the painful parts. Tonight, not only was I not enjoying myself, but I was trying to do soemthing that I consider work while everyone around me was playing games or being sociable, and I didn't get a chance to participate. So, if you get a card this year (and our list is shaky at best), and don't next year, please don't think that we don't like you. But I spend a lot of time blogging, and am including the url of the blog in our Christmas letter, and darnit, I don't know that I'll feel like rehashing what I already spend a lot of time writing about.

As for my laptop, I'm still annoyed about the half hour or more of system administration I had to do tonight. I wanted a laptop in part because I wanted my husband to not mess with it. With our other computers, every other time I would try to use them, he would have changed hardware, re-burned the harddrive, or installed some crazy thing that made it annoying or impossible for me to use it. He makes a hobby of messing with computers, which is fine for him. I don't, and I want my computer to work the same way every time I log on. If I have half an hour to spend on the computer, I don't want to waste it all cleaning up a mess first.

In other words, Bah Humbug. Maybe tomorrow will be better, and I'll get a chance to relax and spend time with family and not feel like bawling everyone (or anyone) out. Now I guess I should attempt to go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shopper's Paradise

I'm taking a training class this week in Clayton. Usually I really enjoy these classes because they're 1) a break from the normal routine and 2) I get an hour for lunch without having to work an extra hour at the end of the day. I do, occaisionally, learn something as well.

At lunch today, I actually had a little over an hour, as I was done with the assigned "exercises" a bit before noon. Any extra time I had there was eaten up by having to arrange my pump, however. I have a rather nifty (in theory) breastpump that I can wear around under my clothes, running on batteries. (It's called a Whisper Wear if you're interested but if you look it up online, the thing is no longer made, and the website is long gone). Once on, I look like I'm either stacked, or deformed, depending on how well the two pumps are staying in place. And far from "whispering", the things sound like a pair of asynchronous ducks following me around. In any case, I keep my coat on, and hope no one suspects me of being a suicide bomber.

Today at lunch I made a very poor decision--to drive to the Galleria for lunch and attempt to do some Christmas shopping. Apparently, half of St. Louis had the same idea. And none of them know that there are more than two levels to the parking garage. I think it took me 10 minutes from entering the garage until I found a spot..with about 50 other open spots nearby, all very very close to the Macy's entrance. The first 9.5 of those minutes were spent stuck behind other cars who were waiting for little old ladies to stow their packages and slowly back out of their parking spaces. Seriously, folks, keep driving up to level 3...you will walk the same number of stairs (down!) to the entrance and there is more parking.

Of the million people at the Galleria at noon, at least fifty thousand were eating at the Bread Company. Finding a table was much like finding a parking space, except that Bread Co has no level 3.

Lunch itself was good, but by the time I'd parked and ordered and eaten food, I was tired of the ducks and had to find a restroom to remove them. Either the other ladies in the Famous (sorry, Macy's) restroom didn't see me pulling things out of my bra, or chose to ignore it. I wonder what someone would have thought if they noticed me pouring baggies of white liquid into small bottles and disassembling objects that I pulled out from under my clothes. Maybe I should be composing my defense for drug charges, not bomb threats.

I did manage to buy a Christmas gift for my baby sister, the last person on my list that I hadn't shopped for yet. I got back to class a little late, having forgotten to account for shoppers-that-question-every-price-at-the-register. Given how much time I'm finding to post, I guess I'm not that far behind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Charlotte is becoming a great songwriter. She has always enjoyed songs and singing along when other people sing, and singing along with the radio. But lately she's actually composing new lyrics and notes. And it's hilarious.

I remember when the "Dark Horse and Cherry Tree" song (sorry, can't give the artist or correct title....I can never remember..you know the one I mean) came out a year or two ago. that song was on every radio station all the time, and I would hear Charlotte in her car seat behind me singing "woo-hoo, woo-hoo, No-No-No-No" along with the radio. Like most children (and many adults, for that matter) frequently do, she accidentally mixes up words and verses. Her alphabet song, until recently, has always had quite a few more "jake-elemeno-pee" verses than the original.

Charlotte's music evolved from repetition, and repetition with mistakes, to making deliberate mistakes. Admittedly, she has a couple of examples to follow. My husband and I frequently change the words to songs to make the kids laugh, or to get their attention when speaking voices won't. My husband is better at it than I am--I don't rhyme well on the fly, and I have to work hard enough to do the singing that it doesn't allow much brainpower left for the words.

In the last couple of months, she has taken to actually composing new songs, with music, words, and, occaisionally, choreography. She has watched a fair number of Christmas movies, read several Christmas books, and they talked about it during children's liturgy at church yesterday. So last night, Charlotte took one of her baby dolls, wrapped it in a blanket, and ran around the house singing (or maybe chanting) "Jeee-sus is Boo-oorn" at the top of her lungs, holding her swaddled doll up above her head like Father Gary does during a baptism. Eventually the song morphed into "Jesus at School" and then "Trystan at School" and finally "Trystan is born", but mostly, it was about Jesus. This lasted for probably 20 minutes or more. The baby doll was wrapped, unwrapped, carried, paraded, and snuggled all around the family room and kitchen.

It is really hard not to simply bust out laughing in joy at her. I don't want to make her feel self conscious, because her performance was wonderful and creative and completely silly but non-destructive (and entertained Trystan, and didn't involve the TV, etc, etc).

It must have been a lot of effort for the plastic Jesus (who besides the blanket was stark naked), because eventually Charlotte carried him upstairs and tucked him into Trystan's crib to sleep. She made me promise to be quiet so I wouldn't wake him up. Later, Charlotte informed me that Jesus's parents, Mary and Jofus (her pronunciation), were coming to visit soon. I wonder if she expects the fire department to bring them, like they did Santa Claus a week ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mixed emotions?

I broke my stand mixer. I was making a cake to bring to work for our Christmas lunch, and first I heard a clank, and then the beater stopped moving. It's a KitenAid, with the accessory port on the front. We have a can opener that plugs in and is powered by the mixer motor, which I had removed it while I made the cake. I covered the accessory port with the little metal circle circle. Apparently I did not screw it on tightly because at some point, it fell off and into the cake batter, got hit by the beater, stopped the beater, and probably broke a gear inside the motor. The motor makes noise when powered on, but does not move anymore. I didn't realize what had happened until I was attempting to finish beating the batter by hand and found the metal piece swimming in the bottom of the bowl. I had to stop by the grocery store this morning to buy canned frosting, depsite the plethora of powdered sugar and other ingredients in our cupboard--mixing icing by hand takes more time and one more hand than I had free last night (the cake was from a mix and would normally have taken about 5 minutes + baking time to prepare, if I didn't have to mix it by hand after troubleshooting the mixer).

This sucks. I love my stand mixer, and I use it a LOT. I don't really have any backup for it--a couple of years ago I gave away my bread maker and my hand mixer because I never ever used them. The only time lately that I've regretted not having something else was when I needed to beat 2 eggwhites to stiff peaks--the kitchenaid does larger batches of egg whites really well, but that small amount isn't caught by the whisk attachment well, and it takes forever (about as long as doing it by hand, and just as frustrating)--needless to say I've chosen a different waffle recipe to use since that episode.

My husband and I may try to repair it ourselves--he attempted to disassemble it last night to figure out which part was broken, but ran into trouble getting to the motor (he had every visible screw undone at that point and was stumped). I'm hoping there are instructions online somewhere (we found several places that stock all manner of parts). There are also repair centers, but I'm afraid that the labor may be more than it's worth. Luckily the basic design has been around forever (50 years? probably more), so the repair procedures should be fairly well documented somewhere, and the workings are mechanical and not electronic.

I don't want to have to buy a new mixer, because it's going to be expensive. It will be more expensive than the original one (not even counting the wedding gift cards we used to actually purchase it), because I'm sure I'd talk myself into upgrading to a more powerful version, or perhaps the "commercial" one that has a sturdier motor (metal gears vs platic I think) that would stand up to all the use I put mine through. They don't actually sell the exact model that I have anymore--the 5qt "heavy duty" with the bowl lift--currently their 5qt with my speed motor has a tilt head, which I think uses different bowls (and I have an extra, plus lids...would have to buy those too).

What does it say about me that I'm actually sad about the mixer? It's not the fridge, which we absolutely need to provide food for the family, or the oven, or even the dishwasher, which would be really obnoxious to do without. I guess that's why I like my mixer so much--it's not an appliance that I need, but one that I use to do fun things like bake cakes and cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's Not On My Christmas List Yet

One of the gadgets that I am seeing advertised a lot this Christmas is the e-book reader, like this one from Amazon. It sounds like an interesting concept, to be able to store so many books on one little device. The thing works like a cell phone, without the access charges (yet) for browsing and downloading books.

I'm not sold yet. I love the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell of the paper. I still much prefer to browse a real bookstore to an online one. It takes so long to click on all the links to get a good feel for an unknown book, and browsing online takes so much longer than scanning a shelf at the store. Plus, Amazon doesn't have a coffee shop, and most bookstores these days do. Besides the physical difference between paper and e-books, I have a few questions on their usage:

Why is it so expensive? Amazon is charging nearly $400 for theirs, before the cost of books, most of which run $9.99. I think I average spending $10-12 on a book, maybe less (I love the bargain book section)--that's going to take a long time to recoup my costs.

Can you create your own e-books to read and pass around? I didn't see technical specs on file formats. Is this going to cost several hundred $ for special software, or will the things accept a pdf file or a word document.

What do you do when you're done with a book? Can you loan them to a friend? Sell them to a used book store? Hide them from your parents? Will libraries be able to offer e-books? Amazon's website talks all about getting books *on* to the device, not how to get them back off again.

Can you really dog-ear pages? Sure, you can bookmark a page. But can you really really bookmark one so that the next person to pick it up knows immediately where the juicy scenes are?

If you plan on becoming a serial killer, is there a way to completely disable the built-in cell-phone like wireless? After all, we're all familiar with the police tracking cell phone signals. It would be terribly embarrassing to be caught because you stopped to download the latest Stephen King after burying the bodies.

How will we ever hold a decent book burning? Somehow, the image of a circle of right-wing activists holding book readers, thumbs poised as the leader says "On the count of 3, everyone click Delete together" just doesn't hold the same appeal as a massive bonfire.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We're beginning to catch up with the rest of the world. Is it really Christmas season already? What happened to October? November? September for that matter?

We now have a Christmas tree up and decorated in our living room. We bought a new, pre-lit one this year. Our old tree is fine, but putting on the lights takes hours, and we decided that after nearly 10 years of use on a $40 tree, we could afford a quicker one. Charlotte loved decorating it, almost too enthusiastically. We have enough ornaments in the house to decorate 2-3 trees, so I was trying to edit what she put up (sticking to the shatter-proof ball ornaments instead of the glass ones, keeping a color scheme, etc). A few unauthorized ones crept through (there's a bright ceramic Little Mermaid in the middle of our mostly silver and gold tree).

After Charlotte was born, I bought a Little People nativity set that we put away with the Christmas decorations every year. We have it set up under the tree, and both kids get to enjoy it this year. Trystan has sucked on nearly every item, and seems to be particularly fond of the camel. The thing is cute, with angels, shepherds, sheep, donkeys, wise men, etc, and the stable plays "Away in a Manger". I've heard that song several dozen times already since Saturday afternoon.

I had some time Friday afternoon to go shopping, and have a fair number of gifts bought. Well, maybe half. Ok, half of my half of the shopping. My husband typically must decide on his family's gifts...in part because our families approach Christmas and gifts very differently. It's just less stressful to divvy up the shopping.

We've even been to a Christmas party at a friend's church. It was a sort of family playtime event--with a bounce house, craft projects, cookies, face painting.

Maybe Christmas won't sneak up on us as fast as I feared it would after all.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Home

Trystan is home. He was discharged yesterday afternoon, which is about the earliest that we had expected that he could be sent home. His surgery Friday was (so far as we know) without complications, and even immediately afterwards, the nurses reported hearing good bowel sounds.

Anytime the intestines are operated on, or even moved around while other body parts are operated on, there is a chance that peristalsis, the coordinated action of the intestines, can get out of synch. So, instead of moving contents steadily downwards, parts can get messed up and try to force the contents back upwards. Trystan had blessedly little or no trouble with that this time. After his colostomy at 2 days old, it was over a week before the doctors deemed he was safe to try eating, and it took an extra day or two beyond that before he would eat without puking everything back up.

This time, he started passing gas and pooping at about 30 hours post-op. I was holding him Saturday night, with my hand lightly patting his bottom when I felt(and heard) the first toot. My husband and I were both giddy--you have never seen two parents so excited about an 8-month old soiling his diaper. I was even disappointed that we didn't have a camera, and joked that my husband could take a photo of the dirty diaper with his phone. We didn't, actually. But he continued to pass gas and stool all night (where he got some of that I have no idea, digestive juices mainly I guess since he'd been completely cleaned out before hand). Sunday was rough, as he was hungry, and the doctors still wanted his bowels to rest. So he was allowed 1/2 ounce of breastmilk every 4 hours until first thing Monday morning. The poor little guy did not want to let me (the food supply) out of his sight. Yesterday morning, he was given the green light to eat as much as he wants, and by about noon, we were told we could pack up to go home.

We're all exhausted around here, except for Charlotte who's stressed and dealing with it as any 3-year old does: by throwing tantrums every couple of minutes. Trystan slept in our bed last night--on top of me most of the night. Saturday and Sunday he did the same thing at the hospital and would not let me put him down to sleep. My back is still recovering from that. My husband had duty Thursday night and Friday night, which weren't any better.

So, now we get to deal with the aftermath. We're going to need more diapers, as he has a raging case of diarrhea (completely anticipated), and we must keep on top of the dirty diapers lest he develop diaper rash. Many kids really struggle with the rash between the new experience of having poop on their skin, consistency issues because the colon is not really doing its job well yet, frequency, and all the antibiotics around the surgery. Our laundry is about hip-deep in all bedrooms--much of it clean and needing to be sorted and folded and put away. Our pantry is mostly empty.

Did I mention Trystan's newest trick? Somehow during his hospital stay while he was physically attached to me or my husband the entire time (and basically resting), the kid learned how to crawl, and can suddenly pull up to kneeling. Maybe it just took a sore belly to convince him to try holding his weight on his knees instead of squirming on his tummy. Amazing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Post-Op

Trystan can poop. At least in theory.

He went into surgery this morning around 9am. They started closer to 10, and we were back to his room at about 12:30. He is so far just sleeping, on us most of the day. He wakes up every now and then to fuss, but at the moment he's just taking tylenol for pain and nothing else.

My husband is once again the lucky one who gets to stay the night with him. At least this night should be cleaner than last night. Yesterday, they cleaned out his digestive tract with solution force-fed to him through a feeding tube directly into his stomach. That was not a pretty sight. The ostomy bags continued to come off all night, and by the time I arrived at 8:30 this morning, my husband had used every last blanket, towel, sheet, washcloth, and matress pad in the room to help sop up the mess. Oh yeah, and there was an enema around 2am (or maybe 4..he was kind of groggy at the time). That went up his stoma, and then back out again. Yummy.

Today, we have no action coming out the backside yet. That will happen soon, though it'll just be digestive juices at first--there's nothing else in the kid. It will probably be about two more days before he can eat anything, which is why I'm home. Why tease the boy with his favorite comfort food when he can't have it.

Now, we get to move from the land of ostomy bags to the land of diaper rash, which we're assured is coming. Skin utterly unused to handling anything stronger than pee, plus wacked out system full of diarrhea-inducing antibiotics = a very large tub of butt paste. Again, yummy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trystan update

Trystan is at Children's. We took him in at 11 this morning for "bowel prep". His surgery is tomorrow (Friday). Bowel Prep is their way of saying "make him miserable and make a huge mess". He had a feeding tube in place, which is bugging the heck out of him, and an IV.

Through the feeding tube has gone 40oz of a fluid designed to clean out his digestive tract. BTW, 40oz is probably more fluid than he drinks on a normal day, and they fed it through in a matter of hours. Since what goes in must come out, he's been flooding his little ostomy bags. Those things are meant to hold poop, not liquid (and what's coming out quickly started looking just like what went in--clear liquid).

I think my husband and I have put on like 8 or more ostomy bags over the course of today, because they just won't stay. I was tempted to just leave them off and wrap him in towels. My husband kept trying to engineer solutions that included Foley bags. When I left tonight around 8, we had yet another bag, of a different brand that the hospital had that looked easier to apply, but possibly easier for him to wiggle out of.

Luckily, the geiser had slowed to an occaisional trickle, and I'm hoping my my husband's sake that he makes it relatively well through the night. I'm home for the night, and he's staying at the hospital. Trystan's on clear fluids through midnight, and then nothing (or maybe just water) until the surgery tomorrow, so my breasts weren't required at the front. Therefore, I get to sleep in the big comfy bed at home for at least a night or two, while my husband gets the daybed mattress thing in the hospital room. Yes, I feel sorry for him, but then I stayed every single night for the last surgery. This way too, Charlotte will get to see both of us over the course of the week-long stay, as I'll be back on duty when Trystan gets to actually eat again.

I really really hope that we never have to do this again. If I never see an ostomy bag again, it will be too soon. And I'm looking forward to actual poopy diapers. I'm sure the reality of that will wear on us quickly enough, but for now, it's a wonderful thought.

I'm off to bed. I may post again tomorrow, and possibly sporadically over the next week if I make it down to one of the family lounges that have internet access. Or, I might not get on again until we're all home next week. Man I'm tired.

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's never a good time, but some bad times are better than others

Our dryer is not working. Luckily it finished a load of jeans yesterday before giving up and going on holiday. That was not so lucky for the load of baby clothes that followed. The thing powers on, I select a setting, and press Start. I hear a click. Then, nothing. No heat. No movement. Wet clothes.

The really ironic part is that we have another working dryer in the house, but it's not currently useable (needs power and venting). Our old washer had nothing but trouble and when it died for the 3rd or 4th time in 6 years last fall, we replaced the whole pair with stackable front-loaders. I was going to sell the old driver, but pregnancy and babies got in the way.

Sears is supposed to be coming today to look at the dryer. I hope that they have whatever part is fried on hand and can leave us with a working dryer. The alternative is to deal with a pain in the a$$ 2 days before Trystan has to go in for a week-long stay at Children's.

We have options if the repair will take time: 1) bring up old dryer from basement and install in laundry room...that's a pain because of where the new dryer currently is, but more do-able than my grumpy husband wants to admit. 2) Air-dry everything--again, do-able but a pain. We don't own any sort of drying rack. 3) Laudromat (hey, maybe I'd get some writing done, if I don't have to bring kids with me and bolt my laptop to the wall every time I get up to rotate things) 4) Impose on friends. We've already done this with the 2 loads that were wet last night (one from the washer and the baby clothes that never dried). Problem here is that we don't have that much time and have a lot of laundry that I wanted done before Thursday. 5) Wire up the basement so we can have a second dryer there. Interesting idea, but would take more work than I think we can do by Thursday.

Blech. Sears repair is supposed to show up between 8 and Noon today, calling an hour ahead of time to confirm their arrival. My husband is working from home (thank goodness he has that option), but it's 11am and Sears has yet to call.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

To cook or not to cook

How do you feel about cooking your own Thanksgiving dinner? Do you? Do you love it? Hate it? Dread it? Order in? Just curious.

In a completely un-systematic random (but not statistically random) sampling of the people I have discussed the topic with lately, I am squarely in the minority. I really enjoy cooking a big Thanskgiving dinner. Over the past dozen years or so, we've probably hosted about half of the dinners at our house. We do the whole traditional dinner-Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple and pumpkin pie (other side dishes vary by the year...sometimes squash, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, whatever else looked good). I love to cook, and have been helping make our family dinner since I was little. My mom is a nurse and frequently worked on Thanksgiving, and I can remember basting the turkey every hour one year, in between playing with Barbie dolls and swinging outside-I was probably 8 or so at the time.

Some years I've tried fancier dishes than other years. We typically brine the turkey before roasting, make the dinner rolls from scratch. Pies are from scratch (this year I'm using pre-made pie crusts-my homemade pie crusts are one of my weaker points in baking). One year I
made a pumpkin cheesecake (I don't particularly care for cheesecake, but that was actually pretty good). We don't use pre-made sides. We don't buy a foil pan. The cleanup doesn't really scare me (hey, I'm one of 5 kids....*every* night there was a huge pile of dishes and pans to clean up).

Talking to our family members and some of my coworkers, there are a lot of people who find the whole business to be nothing but drudgery and work. Some of them go out. Some order a dinner. Some join a larger group so they don't have to cook and host. Some of them go to great lengths to avoid cooking (it seems to me that some people's "shortcuts" like more effort than just straight-forward cooking).

Bring on the drudgery, I'm itching to start cooking!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end is near

Trystan's surgery to close his colostomy is in about two weeks. I can hardly wait. I am not looking forward to seeing him in pain post-op, nor having to feed a mechanical baby (aka breastpump) instead of him for a couple of days afterwards. His roughly week-long hospital stay will be hell on our family--Charlotte developed some real fears last time after I spent the entire stay at the hospital with Trystan (that time he could nurse as soon after surgery as he felt up to it). But I am looking forward to an end of little pouches adhered to his tummy, to carrying a bag of medical supplies with us in the diaper bag, of having to order what are really diapering supplies from a medical supply house. I'm tired of worrying about whether a bag will come off overnight while he sleeps, or will start leaking while he's snuggled in our bed (we never did get a waterproof mattress cover for our bed, and really don't want runny poop soaking into our sleeping place). I'm tired of being limited on potential babysitting options, of having to explain to curious strangers who see me emptying his bag at a public changing station. I'm tired of whining about all of this on this blog, but what good is having a place to vent and whine if you don't use it?

I had to call the medical supply place this morning to order one more set of bags for him..they come 10 to a box, and we have about a dozen left at home. If the darned things behave, they can last 2-3 days apiece. When they don't, we can go through 4 in a day until we get a good seal. I'm not a gambler, and I don't want to run out two days ahead of time and have to run all over town trying to find more in a hurry. I asked them if they would take back unused ones, or an unopened box should we be so lucky, and was told that they didn't do either. The surgery office said that they could take them, even from an opened box, as they have patients with limited resources and poor insurance who have trouble obtaining supplies or paying for them. That thought was sobering--I once priced the things and they cost around $30-50 per box of 10...imagine paying that every 10 days or so on top of diapers and all the other baby stuff you need. Then there are protective pastes and powders, and the dressings for his other fistula (mostly gauze and tape, but you go through that stuff fast, and sensitive skin demands fancier stuff than typical first-aid supplies). Once again, I am thankful, thankful, thankful to have good insurance. All we pay for are normal baby diapers and wipes like we would be for any other kid.

I guess we'll have to buy a lot more wipes soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The color of autumn

I always feel sentimental in the fall. I have always claimed spring as my favorite season; I love the beautiful colors, the budding trees, new growth, sweet birdsongs. It doesn't hurt that my birthday falls right at the official start of spring (technically it's still in winter, but the first daffodils and tulips always forget to check the calendar). But fall has always been so precious to me.

Autumn historically has marked big changes in my life: the start of the school year, moving here to St. Louis for college at Wash U, buying our first house. With Charlotte's birthday in August, fall has marked big developmental steps for her as well--the end of sending bottles of breastmilk to daycare, moving her to a big-girl bed, and announcing the impending change from baby to big sister, giving up diapers. The cold winds of autumn, for me, sweep away decaying stages of my life, and the scent of dropping leaves always leaves me a little sad for the warm summer days that have fallen by the wayside.

The fall color this year seems more beautiful than in years past, and seems to be lingering longer. Maybe it's the warmer weather we've had, or the rain that hit at just the right point to sustain the trees a touch longer. Maybe it's just me, as I've been outside a lot more often during the day than in years past--this season of early nightfalls passes more quickly when you only see the sun on weekends. Here in the middle of november, there are green leaves still on many trees, and the rest are showing their most vibrant colors. Even our sad, the straggly sugar maple in our front yard, which normally fades from green to a rusty red-brown, boasts scarlet-tipped golden leaves this year.

Over the past week, I've driven from one end of the metro area to another several times along highway 40, and been able to savor its lively foliage for perhaps the last time. By the time it is reborn in a couple of years as the new I-64, I'm afraid that the beautiful tree scapes between Kingshighway and 270 will be replaced by towering concrete walls. The thought of those beautiful views being clearcut as the highway and interchagnes are rebuilt makes this fall's colorspray even more poignant.

Last night after bedtime, Charlotte crept quietly up to our bedroom door. She stood there in her pink footy pajamas with a shy, slightly upset, and very tired look on her face. She had dropped her baby bunny doll off the side of her bed and could not found it, and needed help, a hug, and to be tucked back into bed. Seeing her bright little face shining against the dark hallway behind her, I suddenly had a vision of her much taller and older standing in the same spot. Just like the fall color, the image made me sad, because when that day comes, she won't want us to pick her up and
cradle her on our shoulders, or carefully spread her Winnie the Poo blankets around her, tuck Baby Bunny and Glo Worm under her arm, and won't need us to blow her kisses from the doorway so she can sleep. Like the deep dark of the quickly approaching winter, that day is not as far away as I could hope it would stay.


P.S. I have not actually seen detailed plans for the highway reconstruction that show trees and shrubbery being removed during construction. But based on other projects around the area, and the increasing number of bald spots near current construction on the route, I can only assume we will see more of the same. But please don't take my opinions and fears for hard facts and set me up for some libel suit from MoDot on account of a little nostalgic rambling.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

That's it, she's finally cracked...

I am finally owning up to it. I'd read several friend's blogs, friends who admit publicly that they like to write, about NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month (for those of us who are not up on the latest writing news). Basically, you try to write a novel of at least 50k words during the month of November. Apparently typical novels range from closer to 70k words (for those skinny books), to well over 100,000 or more. So 50 is really just a sort of prototype. A novella, if you will. Still a rather impressive accomplishment.

Well, over Halloween I was sitting in a training class and while I was indeed paying attention to the class, I was also surfing the web (does that make me a little ADD? quite likely...), and decided to look up what the whole NaNoWriMo thing was about. The next thing you know, I'd actually signed myself up.

What? Writing? Isn't she an engineer? I didn't think engineers read books, let alone could write them. Unless books were full of "if !(foo(bar->getData()) == NULL)". Ha! Fooled you!

I don't make much use of it at work these days, but I did actually study literature in college. Study so much of it, they gave me a pretty piece of paper in a red folio with the university seal on it. Of course, none of the stuff I read or wrote for my major in college was in English--it was in Spanish. I will admit that there was one conversation class, and one "culture" class thrown in there, but my major wasn't about ordering tequilas in a bar or asking directions around Cancun. It was pretty much all reading and analyzing literature.

So there. I've justified my qualifications. I know I shouldn't need to. But for some reason, I've never allowed myself to really admit that I have any interest in reading or writing books (or any other writing). I think it has something to do with my reactions to English teachers in high school, and my solitary semester of "English" at Wash U (really freshman composition, taught by a grad student and not even a real prof). Basically, I could not (still cannot) relate to some of those people, and got a rather bad taste in my mouth for "English" as a course of study. One high school teacher was so anti-math that she insisted on recording every grade as a letter instead of a number, and claimed to be somehow averaging all those A's, B's, C's, etc to come up with your final grade. That drove me nuts..especially since no matter what, she could not believe that what she was doing WAS math (either that or pulling final grades out of her ass, something I would easily believe of her). Deep breath. Let it out. All better. I did meet English majors who did not drive me nuts. I even liked some of them :)

While my computer science degree has done a good job of paying the bills for all of these years, that other piece of paper has helped me justify spending a lot of money on Amazon.com buying books by Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, and others (not counting all of the reading I do in my native language). I have actually missed having to write papers, and frequently spend a while after each book musing over the imagery or the characterizations, or outright allusions to other works, etc. Fun stuff. Some of those hated English teachers from way back when might be proud. I have enjoyed writing for this blog. It's kind of fun to know that other people might actually read what I write (lucky you!), but mostly it's been good to be able to write things in complete sentences on lines that don't begin with // or ' (another coding reference...if you don't understand, you're really not missing much here).

I'm not writing in Spanish. I am attempting to write something like the books that first inspired my reading: a romance. Much as I would love to be writing a historical romance, well-researched and interspersed with period detail, I don't have have the time for the research and detail part. So it's set in modern times, in a as-yet unnamed city which might bear a strong resemblance to St. Louis (location isn't terribly key to the plot as yet). I have no title--probably won't until after it's a lot more done. I have the main plotline figured out, am refining details of the characters as I go. I've had the idea (and a handful of others) swirling around in my head for years. Yes, indeed, years (since probably high school) of silently inventing characters and plots, twists and turns, and nary a word written down before (see above notes on feelings of inadequacy in English).

So far, I've only written about 11,000 words. My schedule-performance-index calculations tell me that I'm behind schedule with that, but I do have a day job or two (or is it 3...2 kids plus one that actually pays me), and I've spent an awful large amount of time with a really sick baby this week. Maybe I'll catch up this weekend. I have quite a few scenes running through my head at various times, so when I'm not actually at the keyboard (and not at work...I am trying really really really hard not to do this at work), in theory I'm still working on it.

Will anyone get to read it? We'll see. I don't think it's that bad so far. It's nice right now that I am under no pressure professionally to actually write a book. If I do, great. If not, well, I'm a software enginner. In my profession, writing fiction is usually frowned on...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

(in)Frequent Flyer

I got an email today telling me that my "Delta skymiles" are about to expire. Apparently it's been two years since I last (first) flew with Delta. The message was full of links with ideas on how to keep my miles (pay $50, fly somewhere else, give my credit card number to any number of other people to monitor for spending at specific places). Should I even bother?

When I first graduated from college, I worked for a consulting company headquartered in Chicago. I spent my first month of gainful employment commuting from St. Louis to the windy city via Southwest Airlines, staying in a nice downtown hotel, and eating out for every meal all on the company dime. By the time my office was "virtualized" post-Internet bubble 3 years later, I had a walletfull of rewards program cards, and had even earned a free flight or two. Mostly, though, I wasn't a huge traveller, and my flights and hotels were all over the place, so I never racked up enough in one place to make a difference. I also got married around then, and some of those crazy programs gave me the run around when I needed to change my name (and they would not give me any new points if my name did not match their records).

In my two subsequent jobs, travel opportunities have further dwindled. I've travelled exactly once for my current employer, and don't forsee more anytime soon. I'm not particularly upset by this either. When I was still single (well, committed, but not yet legal) business travel was kind of exciting. Pre-kids (but post-house), it was fine, maybe a touch annoying with so many things to do at home. These days it would border on abusive for my family to be gone much (though perhaps provide a nice mini-vacation for me). I'm a homebody, really.

My husband and I have done a bit of leisure travel, though less since Charlotte's arrival, and none since Trystan's (I would really love a trip to the beach...maybe next spring?). These days our vacations do(would) include the kids. In fact, that last (first) trip with Delta was a week in Palm Beach, FL where we split our time between the introducing Charlotte to the beach and catching up with a cousin of mine and my grandmother, who live in the area.

I am tempted to simply chuck all those little plastic cards in my wallet/file cabinet and simply ignore their presence when we travel in the future. Am I really missing anything? Does anyone like me, who only travels a couple of times a year at most, actually earn anything from them?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Attention

These last couple of days of training have afforded me several instances of unwanted attention, but not attention directly related to my job or the class. These little vignettes are otherwise unrelated, but I found them interesting enough to share. Or maybe I'm just not as intellectually challenged by my class as I ought to be.

Monday at lunch, I headed to the mall food court. I parked outside one of the department stores, and walked through the dreaded first floor to get to the main mall. Mondays at noon must be particularly slow days for the cosmetics/perfume department, or else I had some sort of "sucker for overpriced junk" sticker plastered to my forehead, as I was approached by several pushy salespeople as I tried to speed through. I don't own perfume (most of it gives me a headache) and balk at spending more than $5 for blush at the drug store, so their advances were not welcome. I was tempted to explain to the lady who tried to tell me that her fancy nail buffer was the latest innovation that I have a $1 version at home that works just fine--but that would just be encouraging her to keep talking. I've walked through tourist marketplaces in third world countries with less obnoxious vendors. Sheesh.

Yesterday I had a run-in with the bathroom cleaning lady. I was pumping in the handicapped stall when she came in to clean. First she had to ask, in a rather annoyed voice, what exactly I was doing. After I explained that the power cord and the noise were a breastpump, for making milk for a baby, she started muttering about having to clean the stall I was in and how she didn't want to get in trouble for not cleaning what she was supposed to. I apologized for being in the way, and tried to ask for a couple of minutes to finish up and then I would relinquish my corner of the restroom for cleaning. After another minute or two, I cut my pump session short. As I was leaving, she did apologize to me and asked about the baby. She was older, but had nursed her own. Apparently she had trouble getting people out of another restroom in the building before finding me camped in this one.

Today's attention was less aggravating than the previous two days, but somewhat more mystifying. Walking to lunch, I believe I heard my first cat call in years. It might not have been directed to me, but the UPS driver (be still my beating heart) was looking right at me and the only other person around on the sidewalks was an older lady wearing a large shapeless overcoat. Not that I'm in any real haute couture myself--jeans and a black fleece slightly-nicer-sweatshirt. At Subway where I bought lunch, the cashier, and older (50ish?) man with an Eastern European accent called me beautiful. He also told me that the theme of the day was peace and unity, and had the air of the "would-be-eccentric-if-he-had-money" about him. Strange, but at least neither of my "admirers" were giving off those freaky-predator-stalker vibes, so I can safely be amused and flattered.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Practically a Vacation

I am taking a training class for work this week. Trystan has the tail end of a cold, and got his six month immunizations plus a flu shot on Friday, and the two combined have produced an irksome fussbudget who does not sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch. So this morning I was awakened by dueling alarms--my regular clock, plus the baby monitor. It could have been worse--he might have woken up 30 minutes before my alarm was due to go off, but at least then I might have gotten ready a little earlier.

My husband is staying home with Trystan and attempting to do a little work from home, so that meant that I had to take Charlotte into daycare before heading to my class--usually hubby drops off (or "puts down" as Charlotte calls it) and I pick up. She was unusually agreeable today, thankfully, and drop off went really well. Traffic was not quite as agreeable. Unfortunately, the class takes me in the same direction as most of the metro area, and only after a detour in the wrong direction for daycare.

While we were supposed to be working on exercises (it's a computer class), I snuck out and down the hall to the ladies' restroom to pump. With an extension cord stretched across the sinks and under the handicapped stall wall, I sat on the cold tile floor and tried to get comfortable enough to at least read a little of a fiction book I'd brought along. I do, at least, have a nice hands-free top so I don't have to juggle bottles and horns and worry quite so much about spilling all that effort in my lap or on the floor.

My day has had a bright spot: lunch. I had a little over an hour to eat where I please. I drove to the local mall and sat in the food court and had what very well might be my first child-free meal since Trystan was born that was not eaten a) at my desk at work or b) in the hospital cafeteria. I then had a few minutes left to walk around a shop or two and browse without worrying about strollers or running toddlers.

I've got three more days of this. Ahhhh. Heaven.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

I did not grow up in the St. Louis area. Though I've been here since I started college (13 years now...boy do I feel old saying that), there are still a lot of things around town I am still learning, and many places that I never knew existed. Last week, Charlotte's daycare took a field trip to the pumpkin patch at Thies Farm. I had no idea this place existed. We really don't live that far away from the Creve Coeur location, and though I realized that there was some farmland and at least one nursery in that part of town, I didn't know there was a farm that was open to the public with a farmer's market, pumpkin patch, strawberry fields, etc. Not to sound like a commercial for the place, but I'm just mystified that I had no idea that it was there. I will have to remember the farmer's market in the future--they had a lot of good looking veggies in there, including beautiful bell peppers that were grown right near the pumpkins, instead of from Isreal like the ones from Schnucks seem to be.
The field trip was a lot of realy exhausting fun. For once, my "regular" work schedule was a benefit, as the group went on Thursday, one of my days off. I had signed up to go along and help, and was able to leave Trystan for the morning at the daycare while I accompanied Charlotte's class. We arrived around 9am, and I got to watch some of the class room dynamics as the kids finished breakfast and were branded (on their backs with stickers containg the school's address and phone number) and herded first to the potties and then towards the waiting collection of school vans and parent vehicles. Charlotte rode in my car--had she needed to ride in the school van, it would have been a pain as they only have booster seats and she's not heavy enough for one yet. I would have had to install her carseat myself in their van. Our group had 36 kids between 3 and 5 years old, and 11 adults--about half teachers and half parents. There were two school vans and at least a half dozen parent cars, and we looked like an odd sort of funeral procession as we drove the short way to the farm.
Each parent and/or teacher had 3-4 children to keep watch for in the farm's Pumpkinland play area--a neat kiddie play area constructed from haybales and tractor tires. If you havent' been there, it's a lot more impressive than that sounds. I had Charlotte and two other 3 year olds, and I decided that day that I'm thankful not to have triplets. At any one time, two girls would run one direction, and the other would run in the opposite direction. But, I didn't lose anyone and they all had a blast climbing through tunnels, across rope bridges, through the hold of a hay pirate ship (CinderCharlotte nearly lost a shoe there), down a big slide, and more. They had over an hour of playtime before it was our turn for a hayride. We had a tour of the farm, and the driver talked about all of the various things that they do (strawberry festival, Christmas trees, etc). Afterwards, there was a greenhouse with baby farm animals that the kids could look at. Then we all piled back into our caravan, and after all heads were accounted for, drove back to school. The kids got pumpkins and a mini coloring book to take home.
We enjoyed the farm so much that we went back again on Saturday, this time with my husband and Trystan, and some friends of ours. It was such a nice day Saturday that I think half of St. Louis County came also. Charlotte and our friend's son had more playtime in Pumpkinland. We skipped the farm tour hayride this time and instead hopped the wagon to the pumpkin patch to pick a few pumpkins of our own. They had obviously seeded the patch with pumpkins from another field, but there were still plenty on the vine, and all of them looked quite nice (not so bruised and beaten as the grocery store ones always are). I had Trystan in our front carrier the whole time, which made carrying a pumpkin kind of difficult (had one on my head for a while...that hurts). My husband would have carried them, except somehow we came away with three good sized pumpkins, and a very worn-out 3-year-old, which is more than one man can carry. Before we left, we browsed the farmer's market and picked up some fresh-picked sweet potatoes, pumpkin butter (like apple butter--there's no actual butter involved, just spicy pumpkin-y spread), apples (from Michigan as the Missouri crop was nonexistant this year, but yummy nonetheless), and a few other odds and ends. Both kids crashed in the car on the way home.




Charlotte, Trystan and I posing by a pumpkin horse.



This is Charlotte, looking for a little pumpkin amongst the giants. She's been very taken by a book called The Littlest Pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Working and Schedules

I am currently working part-time, 3 days a week as a software engineer. The other two weekdays, I stay home with my kids. In theory, this is supposed to help free me (and my husband) to get things done that we’d be taking off of work for anyway—kids sick days, doctor appointments, errands, deliveries, etc. In reality, it seems much more difficult than that.
The sick day problem has probably given me the most headaches so far. I’m theoretically working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and you’d think that the kids would have at least some of their sick days on Thursdays or Fridays. So far, I don’ t think that’s been the case for a single illness since I went back to work. My job is flexible enough that I can just go in on different days, without anyone blinking. The problem is daycare. If I work a Thursday or Friday, then I have to call and OK that ahead of time, so that they will have enough staff (obviously, I also have to pay more if one kid will be going 4 days that week instead of 3). I do still earn sick days, as does my husband, plus he has the flexibility to do some work from home. But I’ve earned like 2 total since returning from maternity leave (the leave consumed the rest), and we’re both also planning for known hospital stays.
Doctors, also, seem to want us to schedule appointments on other days of the week besides Thursday and Friday, so I get into the same issue as with sick days. In theory, I can be somewhat flexible with my hours, but it’s been difficult to impossible to make up hours with getting kids ready and/or picked up from daycare at decent hours, and managing break time to pump milk for Trystan. (Before you even suggest giving that up, the answer is No, that is non-negotiable for me. I breastfeed. Period.). Working from home is not an option for my job (protest all you like about my being a software engineer, but truly it is impossible).

As for errands, some can be done with the kids, and some just cannot. Unfortunately, until Trystan is walking and/or Charlotte is walking better, the number of things is more than the number I can do. Grocery shopping: by the time I strap Charlotte into the seat, and put Trystan’s carseat in the cart, there’s no where left for the food. The sling is an option, but that makes it rather difficult to pick up some things (and he’s putting his hands into everything). Doctor appointments for me: maybe if the case were severe enough, but Charlotte’s not patient enough. Picking up a package from the post office: I would need one hand to carry Trystan’s carseat (or push the stroller) and one to keep track of Charlotte. Where do I put the package? The sling is just plain out, because there’s no way to balance a box with a baby strapped to your chest (unless you have superior arm strength I suppose). Usually, my home days are spent doing kid-focused things: story time at the library, walks to the park, playing around the house. I sometimes get lucky and get some housework done when the stars align and both kids nap at the same time (I try to let Charlotte be involved in taking care of the house so that she learns, but some things are just not kid-safe). For anyone who thinks I have time “to myself” on my “days off”, I laugh.

Oddly enough, there are two possibilities for how to address my time issue: quit work altogether, or work more hours. The former has issues with money and health insurance, and is not realistic right now. The latter option seems counterintuitive, but might accidentally work. I’ve been kicking around going back 4 days a week instead of 3 after Trystan’s next surgery. That would still allow me one day off a week with the kids. We would actually have to pay for full-time at daycare, but that means that we have guaranteed childcare on any of the 5 weekdays with no special phone calls to make. Within a 2-week payperiod, it is also much more likely that I can flex a couple of hours here and there if I have to (my job allows flexible hours, but not partial sick days for appointments). Actually, within a 2-week payperiod, it becomes plausible to actually flex an entire day off so I could work 7 9-10 hour days and have 3 off days. Note I say “plausible” not “possible” or even “probable”. The other benefit is that at 32 hours/week I earn full-time pay for holidays (currently, only paid half for holidays), contribute less (none actually) for health insurance, and earn vacation and sick time faster. Obviously I would also take home more pay to start with (80% of my “regular” salary instead of my current 60%), but that’s actually at the bottom of my list of pro’s right now
If/when I make a switch, I will likely follow up this post with one about how difficult things are when working 4 days a week. I wish there were a better solution, but winning lottery tickets aren’t often found laying around where I can pick them up, and other creative financial plans haven’t been well-received by all stakeholders.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Six" more weeks to go

We've been six weeks away from having Trystan's colostomy taken down/repaired/removed/gone for something like 4 months now. The end is in sight, but for some reason that sight never seems to get much closer. I'm getting tired of waiting for this pot, but I'm continually assured that it will, one day, actually boil. At birth, we were told that he would probably be "all fixed" by 4.50-5 months of age. Before his last surgery (both times it was scheduled), we were told it would be about 6 weeks later when he would be "done".

We had another follow up with surgery this morning-the 3rd since Trystan's last surgery, his anoplasty (Honestly, I doubt I'm spelling that right, but the spell check is suggesting "amplest" as a correction...hah). We went back 1 week post-op for them to remove his catheter. At 2 weeks we had another visit and were given instructions and supplies for a dilation treatment that we have to do at home (A description of the same general process is here, if you really want to know). Today, at 4 weeks, another visit. The doctor said today that the final surgery will be in about 6 more weeks, though by the current schedule of dilations, he'd be ready in 4 by my calculation (what do I know).

Getting rid of the colostomy = baby who can poop in a diaper like every other baby = fewer medical supplies, explanations, worries about driving and traveling. It also means that we could hire (or beg) babysitters (or use a drop-off service like at the Y) without providing "training"
first (right now, the only folks who could really watch him for very long are the workers at daycare--even my In-Laws haven't tried changing his ostomy pouch). It will mean an increase in our use of baby wipes and diaper rash cream, but also means he can take a bath whenever we
feel he needs one, not just when his pouch needs a change (sometimes the things last hours, sometimes for days at a time, no predicting...), and that we can use baby soap and lotion anywhere on his body that we please (the oils in it keep the pouches from sticking, so we have to be really careful). There may even be swimming lessons in his future (I have the 6-12 month size swimsuit all ready to go, just in case!)

Only "six" more weeks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ballet Lessons

We signed Charlotte up for ballet lessons through our local community
center. The class is half hour long, once a week, for 8 weeks, and cost
all of $24. That seems to be a really good deal, compared to the prices
for several local dance studios (that tend to run closer to $75-90/month
according to many websites I looked at). Charlotte loves to dance, and
I thought she'd enjoy the class-she took a toddler tumbling class about
a year ago and had fun (despite the class being poorly run by
alternating sets of teachers--which is why she hasn't gone back to
those).

For her birthday, she got a ballet bag and cardigan sweatshirt from my
mother, as well as my baby's sister's first recital outfit (sequined
tutu and all) from when she was 3 or 4 and first taking dance lessons
(that same baby sister is big into dancing and even performs in a
semi-professional groups every Christmas). Charlotte was thrilled, and
loved to try on the outfit and play with the bag. I found her leotards
and tights at Walmart, and ballet shoes at Payless. She was excited
about all of it.

Her first class went wonderfully. However, she lined right up with the
other 3-year olds, also in their pink leotards and tights, and walked
off to the dance studio with the nice-looking instructor with barely a
backwards glance at me. The second class went just the same. She was
happy and enjoying her class, and practicing little twirls around the
house. Then came the third week. Trystan had surgery that week and I
was sleeping with him at the hospital, so my husband took her. She
threw a tantrum and would not go in the room with the instructor. The
4th week, Trystan and I were back home again, and dance class went
smoothly.

The last two weeks -5 and 6 of 8, have not gone well at all. Both
weeks, she's thrown screaming tantrums the moment we get dressed and
ready to line up, and will not go dance. The closest she would go is
outside the door to the room, watching the other girls through the
window, while holding desperately onto me. I have no idea what has
caused her trauma. She acts as if she's terrified of something, but she
can't (or won't) say what. She's never come back to find me missing
from the lobby, and except for a single fall the first week (for which
she earned an extra sticker and hugs from the teacher), she seems to
have enjoyed the classes.

The time is bad for me-5:30 on a Wednesday, which is a stretch when I
have to leave work, pick her up, driver her over, change her clothes,
and give her a snack and drink. I am also hauling Trystan along, and
he's usually hungry and fussy by the time we get there (I should have
plenty of time to sit and nurse him while she dances, if she'd just go
along into the room like she's supposed to). I don't know whether she's
just picking up on my stress, or what. I also don't know if she's just
having some sort of separation anxiety, though I'm not sure why. She
does go to daycare on Wednesdays, but is typically home with me on
Thursday and Friday (and the weekend), so she gets lots of Mommy time.
I have tried giving her lots of praise and positive attention for
dancing, and we've read Angelina Ballerina and played happily with her
dance costume at home. I have, admittedly, gotten rather irate with her
the last two weeks for her behavior--more for throwing loud temper
tantrums in public than for not wanting to go to class (she screams when
I suggest she go dance, and screams when I give up and head for the door
to leave..lather rinse repeat until we actually make it to the car).

I'm disappointed at her reaction to her dance class. I know some of my
reaction is because I took ballet and tap classes when I was little, and
remember them fondly. I enjoyed dancing a lot, in "pom-poms" in middle
school and the color guard in high school, and took a smattering of
dance classes in college. I was hoping that she would enjoy them too.
But the worst part is that I think she enjoys dancing, but is objecting
to the actual class. And I have no idea why. This reminds me of her
potty-training behavior (screaming fits whenever we suggest she go
potty, even though we *knew* that she had to go and knew that she knew
it also). This weekend, we had a playdate with one of her
classmates--the little girl and her baby brother are both within 2 weeks
of age with Charlotte and Trystan, and we all enjoyed their company.
Maybe that will help this week. And, maybe we're just out about $60 in
class fees and costumes and need to forget about dance classes for a
couple of months or maybe a year or two (or forever I guess).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rice Krispy Treats

I’ve been on a big Rice Krispy Treat kick since Trystan was born. Because I’m breastfeeding, with every one of Trystan’s hospital stays, I get meal coupons that I can use to get food from a patient cart, or as $3 off in their cafeteria. Hospital food is, well, hospital food, but it does have its bright spots. The cafeteria sells Rice Krispy treats that are about the size of a slow-pitch softball. That’s about 4 inches in diameter of crunchy, gooey goodness, for about $1.50. I ate a lot of those during Trystan’s first two weeks in the NICU, and had to have at least one during each of his last two surgeries.
I’ve made several batches at home since then, and I think Charlotte knows how to make them too by now. I can eat a whole pan of the things by myself in 2-3 days (it would go faster, but guilt settles in after about 1/3 of a pan….). Then again, how bad can they be—they’re mostly cereal (low-nutrient puffed rice, but still cereal) and the rest is marshmallows (sugar….yummm). Every now and then I consider adding some peanut butter or chocolate chips or even (gasp!) oats or other grains to sort of jazz them up (and maybe add a tiny bit of redeeming value to them). But so far I’m preferring my indulgence untainted.
Over this past weekend, I actually tried one of the pre-packaged ones at a company picnic. That was a mistake. After eating a couple of bites, I found my self sticking my tounge out repeatedly—like a dog with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth—trying to scrape off the flavor, or at least air out my taste buds. I read the ingredients—Rice Krispy Cereal (so far so good), Marshmallows (that’s to be expected), Margarine (uh oh…here’s the problem). The list of sub-ingredients in the margarine were longer than the rest of the ingredient list put together. No wonder I hated them. I cook with butter. Real butter. (Also olive or canola oil. If really pressed by necessity of a recipe I still use shortening…but I’m getting farther away from that all the time). And I will admit to keeping a tub of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” (labeled as a “spread” made with buttermilk, not a “margarine”). But it’s been years since I’ve bothered with margarine. It’s not good for you, it doesn’t bake well, and it tastes nasty.
The moral of this story is: Thumbs down to pre-packaged Rice Krispy Treats. Thumbs up to the Childrens’ Hospital TreatsTheSizeOfYourNewbornsHead.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mush

Trystan started on solid foods about a week ago. By "solid" I really
mean slightly thicker than the mommy milk he's been used to. You know,
baby mush.

In the grand tradition of disappointing babies with their first tastes
of real food, we chose baby oatmeal to start. If you've never had the
opportunity to taste baby oatmeal, well, you're lucky. It tastes (and
looks) a lot like powdered cardboard. Except for Trystan's, which I've
been mixing with mommy milk, so it tastes pretty much the same as what
he's used to getting from a bottle (or the source), except pastier.
Many folks choose to start babies on rice cereal rather than oatmeal,
which looks and tastes exactly the same as oatmeal but tends to
constipate them. It's no wonder babies spend their first couple of
months at the dinner table spitting their food out.

Tonight (or sometime this week), we're going to move to the next step:
vegetables. We're not cruel enough to jump straight to green beans and
peas (although properly prepared, peas can be quite tasty). Charlotte
got sweet potatoes as her first veggie, so Trystan will too. With
Charlotte, we used a variety of jars and homemade baby foods. Well, and
some non-baby foods like applesauce. I never understood baby
applesauce-you pay a small fortune for a tiny jar with the word "baby"
on it, when you can walk a couple of aisles over in the grocery store
and find natural applesauce made with just apples and water, and get a
large jar for just a couple of bucks. I digress. This time, I'm going
to attempt to make more of the baby food myself. I don't believe that
it will be a huge undertaking. I already have sweet potatoes, a
butternut squash, and a bag of organic carrots sitting in the fridge
awaiting their turn in the steamer. I'm planning to steam, roast/bake,
or nuke the veggies, and then puree them and then freeze in ice cube
trays. Last time I relied more on mashing up whatever we were having
for dinner (if it was baby-appropriate), and used jars of food for
everything else. If anyone has any advice here, please pass it on!

We've already waited longer than with Charlotte to start foods,
preferring to wait till after this last surgery. I'm not, however,
going to throw a large quantity of solids his way just yet, since he has
another surgery coming up (getting rid of the colostomy! Hurray!) And,
unlike a normal baby who would just start making stinkier diapers,
Trystan is still filling colostomy pouches with his solid wastes..and
the size pouch he's been using is getting a little small. If we weren't
about a month from getting rid of the things altogether, we'd probably
try to move up to a larger kid size rather than the newborn ones we've
had, but the larger ones are a LOT larger and we still have a couple of
weeks of supplies of the other kind to go through.

Well, to take this discussion back to where I started (and away from the
discussion of where it all ends), I believe that tonight's dinner menu
includes mashed sweet potatoes (with pork chops for those of us with
teeth). I hope he enjoys it more than his oatmeal!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pickles, cheese, and a banana

I love having kids, but I hate it when they get sick. It's even worse when they get me sick as well. For years growing up, I really didn't get sick or miss much school. I think I was sick like 1 day in all of elementary school (truly--I remember being annoyed about that one day when several fellow 5th graders got awards for perfect attendance). I've been sick more often since Charlotte was born (since she started at daycare, actually), than I think I have in the previous 15 years.

Thursday when I picked up the kids there was a note on Trystan's classroom door about cases of stomach flu. Apparently he picked it up as well, and gave it to me. Saturday afternoon I tried to sneak away from the house for a couple of hours while everyone was napping and do some kid-free shopping and relaxing. About an hour later, I started not feeling so hot. After one quick trip to the nearest restroom, I gave up and drove home. Saturday evening was not fun--my stomach completely cramped up, and everything I'd eaten all day leaving by the nearest exit. No one else was sick (yet), so I was afraid it was actually food poisoning from a hamburger I ate at a festival earlier in the day.

Sunday morning, Trystan started throwing up. Babies and stomach issues are always a cause for concern, but even more so when the baby in question has needed emergency surgery after flu-like symptoms. Luckily, things seemed to be voiding him from both ends, and never stopped (so, just a flu and not a bowel obstruction this time). He threw up off and on till afternoon, and then started keeping down first pedialyte and then breastmilk. He's had one more incident first thing this morning, and I'm hoping it's the last hurrah. By about 28 hours, I was feeling ok again, and he's just now at about 24.

About midnight last night, Charlotte came into our room saying her tummy was sick. My huband took her to the bathroom twice, and nothing happened, so he let her suggle up in our bed. As I reminded him this morning, that was probably the wrong answer (the correct thing to do is go snuggle in *her* bed, as it has a waterproof matress pad...). Well, she tossed and turned and then spewed. In our bed. We picked her up and bodily carried her to the bathroom, spraying the bathroom en route (somehow she missed our carpet, but hit me--face, pajamas, and all). After changing our sheets and cleaning everyone up, we all got back to sleep--my husband in Charlotte's bed, Trystan in his own after waking up for a snack in the middle of things, me in our freshly-made up bed.

Today I get to play nursemaid--nursing one baby and playing maid to the other I suppose. Charlotte's tummy is OK so far this morning (knock on wood), but she's only been allowed peidalyte and some plain toast to eat. Trystan's napping. I finally am keeping down solid food--the first real meal since yesterday's diet of Propel, jello, and Ensure. There's a possibility that Charlotte's not really sick, but that her midnight escapade was fueled by the "nutritious" snack her daddy let her have before bed. Can you guess what that was?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The evil of Cupcakes

While in the car with my husband the other day, we heard an ad for an
upcoming episode of The Biggest Loser. We had watched the first season,
back before we thought Charlotte was paying attention to TV (and
definitely before she learned the word "ELMO"). Between the colic and
the evening clusterfeeding, we watched a lot of TV back then, as I was
spending a lot of my time on the couch anyway. In general I enjoyed
watching people work hard on such a healthy goal, and it was interesting
to see what kinds of regimens the trainers were dreaming up for their
teams. However, there's some aspect of every reality show that has me
talking to the TV--chiding the contestants or the show's creators
because of the sheer stupidity of what they're doing. During at least
one of the episodes, the contestants entered their communal kitchen to
find a beautiful display of every kind of baked good and pastry you
could dream up. It made my mouth water just to look at it. But these
poor people, who were literally working their butts off every day and
cut off from their friends and family, not to mention their strictly
enforced "diets", were punished if they so much as tried a fingerful of
icing.

As I monologued to my (sort of) patient husband the other day, this is
exactly the mindset that makes so many "diets" fail. People lock
themselves into some sort of strict deprivation mode, and may God strike
them dead if they even smell chocolate. Once they do fall off the
bandwagon and try the smallest taste of something, they then decide that
their diet's completely ruined, and spend the next week gorging on
anything fattening that they can find in order to punish themselves.
That is just dumb. Dumb dumb dumb dumb. A treat now and then (dare I
say, even every day) is not going to make you fat. And if eating a
cookie or two a day will keep you satisfied so that you don't get
desperate and eat an entire tub of cookie dough in an evening (locked in
the bathroom so that no one else can see your transgression), then it
seems like a good thing to me! Fat and Carbs have a very important
place in a healthy diet. I'm not advocating chucking the whole grain
bread, lean meat, and vegetables in favor of a Twinkie and Hostess
Cupcake diet, but I just don't see how a cupcake every now and then can
be so bad.

I saw a recent article on the New York Times website discussing the
controversy over cupcakes in schools. We're not talking a lighthearted
water cooler discussion, we're talking about lawmakers taking sides over
whether to pass legislation to ban or allow parents from bringing in
cupcakes to celebrate their child's birthday. I can definitely
understand the arguments from folks who want schools to serve healthy
lunch options (so that kids aren't buying Ding Dongs and orange Kool-aid
for lunch every day, not that I ever did that...ahem...). The problem
isn't that schools are dictating that every child must have a cupcake
every day; it's that parents are bringing a special treat to celebrate a
special occasion. Heaven (or Congress I suppose) forbid that that
special treat be made of fat and carbs and little else. Heck, I think
that describes most of the dishes my high school cafeteria used to sell.
Cut out those cupcakes and I suppose we'll eliminate the obesity crisis
in America. That's a logical argument, isn't it? Why don't they work on
making those healthy choices more appealing (or at least edible, as most
of the "good" food in my schools growing up was not), while still
allowing the special treats on occasion. Otherwise, kids who are
feeling deprived are going to learn to binge, and then to hide it.
That's a challenge that nobody wins.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dinner last night--Warm mixed green salad with chicken and pomegranite-redwine viniagrette

Last night's dinner was pretty good, if I do say so myself, though it has room for improvements. I started off with no plan except that we had frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, and a bag of mixed salad greens. I haven't had much time for cooking decent food in the last couple of weeks, so it felt really good. Here's what I ended up doing:

Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet until even thickness maybe 1/4-3/8" thick. Salt and pepper each side (I use Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper). I actually used some Emeril's Bayou blast on one side of the chicken, but ended up doing an overall non-cajun flavor, so would just salt and pepper next time. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add chicken breasts and sear (don't move them) till browned on the bottom--3-4 minutes? (I never watch a clock, and was attempting to do dishes, talk to Charlotte, and not stress over an increasingly fussy baby at that point). Once seared, the chicken releases easily from the pan (I use heavy stainless steel pans, not nonstick). Flip chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through (maybe 5-10 minutes)--use a instant read thermometer to check temp if you're not sure. Pounding the meat first makes this part go really fast and everything cooks evenly. Remove chicken from pan to a plate, and tent loosely with foil.

While chicken cooks, chop a small white onion into thin slices (maybe 1/8" wide, 1" long or so). I only used half an onion, and ended up regretting it later, definitely the whole would have been tastier. After taking the chicken out of the pan, return it to the stove, and add the onions. Don't clean it or anything--all the brown bits are good in the sauce. If the pan is too dry, then add a tad more olive oil. Saute the onions until they start looking translucent. I deglazed the pan with Red Wine Pomegranite vinegar--I probably used 1/4 cup or so, but could easily have doubled that. Also added about 1 Tbsp of brown sugar. Scrape all the brown bits (pan sauces make for nice clean skillets, don't ya know), and then simmer the vinegar until it's thickened and about half the volume--maybe another 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour any accumulated juices from the plate holding the chicken into the sauce. When the sauce looks nicely thickened, add chicken breasts back in for 1-2 minutes on a side so they soak up some flavor. Remove them from the pan again and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Take the sauce off the heat, and stir in about 1Tbsp butter (the real stuff, if you please).

Mound the salad greens on a plate. Top with strips of warm cooked chicken. Drizzle the pan sauce and sautéed onions on top (call it dressing). I had some toasted slivered almonds in the pantry, which added a nice crunch. The salad could also stand some cheese--maybe feta or queso fresco or something else crumbly but soft (we didn't have any). I sprinkled a little freshly ground sea salt on top as well to offset the sweetness of the dressing/sauce. Total time from meat mallet to table: about 30 minutes. Charlotte loved hers--I kept her salad separated into piles so she could pick and choose how much lettuce vs chicken she ate (some of each, btw, and all of her nuts).

We had Bisquick biscuits on the side (with some parmesan cheese and dried herbs mixed in)--not the best side dish, but they got done while I was cooking everything else and rounded out the otherwise veggie-meat meal. Then the 3 of us shared a banana split for dessert. Charlotte wanted a banana, and wanted her daddy to have one too, and me to have ice cream (bossy little thing that she is). So I layered a split banana with 3 small scoops of ice cream, some sliced strawberries (the non-fuzzy ones left from several days ago), some Magic Shell, and cool whip. Yummy. I think she mostly had bananas and cool whip and I mostly had ice cream and chocolate sauce, and both of us were happy. My husband declined to eat more than a bite or two (he claims to not like sweets....though I don't always believe him).

Last night was supposed to be Trystan's big foray into solid food--I have a box of baby oatmeal ready in the cupboard. However, a day lacking in naps caught up to him and he crashed about 5 minutes before 7 when our dinner was done (and stayed down all night, though he did wake to nurse). So, tonight's his night instead :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Side Effects

Trystan is continuing to do well from his surgery last week. On Friday,
he stayed home while my sister watched him, and was, by all accounts, a
really good baby. He's been a bit gassier than normal all weekend, and
a bit more attached to me. His stool was also a bit runnier (with the
colostomy its always runny anyway, but it was much more watery than
normal). They sent him home with oral antibiotics twice a day until
Saturday night, which I think were bugging his stomach--those things
wipe out all bacteria, not just the bad ones. With a couple of days of
mommy milk, things should right themselves. His bottom actually looks
remarkably good--the incisions are essentially healed (there's a
definite red mark, but not any sort of open wound). It looks like he
has a hemorrhoid where his colon is sort of bulging out, but the surgeon
said that would right itself over time--his body and muscles will need
time to sort themselves out. He still has a catheter until tomorrow,
which doesn't bother him any, though it has forced us to pull out and
wash 9-month sized clothes for him--he was on the verge of growing out
of the 6-month ones anyway, but the padding from the second diaper is
making the old ones impossible to button. I think he's been growing
anyway, and we'd already started weeding out the smaller clothes from
his closet before the surgery. Heck, he ate nearly 20 ounces in 8 hours
from my sister on Friday--we normaly send 12-15 to daycare, so I may
have to reevaluate that.

Charlotte is still recovering as well. I think having me stay at the
hospital was pretty hard on her. I got to see her once, for about an
hour, between Sunday bedtime and Thursday after school. My husband had
a harder time getting her dropped off at daycare all last week, and she
is normally somewhat clingy in the mornings. She refused to leave his
side for her Wednesday dance class, so got to sort of play in the hall
out side class--she loved the class the previous 2 weeks when I took her
and joined the group without a backward glance at me. This morning, she
threw a fit when we tried to explain that Trystan wasn't going to
school, but she was, and that I was doing the dropoff (normally her
daddy drops off and I pick up). When we walked into the building, she
got visibly scared at the door to her classroom, and hid her face on my
neck, until one of the workers retrieved her from my arms, and gave her
another neck to hide in.

I hope after tomorrow, that things will get back to almost normal again
for a couple of weeks. Both kids will be able to go to daycare and stay
home on the same schedule, and I won't be disappearing for a several day
stretch again. I guess for the next surgery we'll have to reevaluate
(again) our approach to spending time with both kids. With the last
one, I left Trystan overnights to come home, but that left him a lot
clingier for a couple of weeks afterwards. This time I stayed with him
and my husband only brought Charlotte to see us once, which traumatized
her. If only there were two of me and two of my husband (or at least
1.5 of each), we could cover both kids at once!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trystan's Surgery

I intended to post an update earlier this week, but couldn't find a wireless signal at the hospital. I had a copy of the configuration directions, but the best configuration in the world doesn't help when the radio waves can't pass through concrete walls.

Trystan had his surgery this week. This one is callled the "pull-through", or the "anoplasty" or the "PSARP". Trystan now has an anus. (That is a word that I never used to ever really say or type, and now it seems to come up in conversation alot....). The surgery was long--3 or 4 hours. His large intestine was connected to his actual bladder and not one of the tubes draining from it, like they originally thought from the x-rays. He held up great, and was allowed to nurse Monday night as soon as he was awake enough. He was pretty sore--the incision went from the base of his scrotum to a couple of inches past the new opening. We tried really hard not to move him too much Monday and Tuesday morning--I gave myself an odd backache trying to stand next to his hospital crib and nurse him without holding him overnight Monday. That probably looked pretty funny, but he wanted the comfort and I didn't trust moving him that much.

One of my sisters came into town to help us out. She couldn't make it till late Monday, but spent Tuesday and Wednesday with me at the hospital. She was a lifesaver. My husband had to work much of the week, so she helped keep me sane, and was a much-needed second pair of comforting arms for Trystan. He spent most of Tuesday and a lot of Wednesday cuddling with one of us while we watched TV and chatted.

By Wednesday night, Trystan started feeling really good and found his energy. He started smiling at everyone in sight, rolling around his crib and vigorously playing with his toys. That afternoon, he played so much that he pulled his IV out of his foot (bleeding all over his aunt's lap in the process). Since he was eating and not needing the extra fluids, they didn't replace the IV and just switched him to oral antibiotics instead of the IV ones. Later that afternoon, he pulled the tape off that was holding his catheter tube to his leg. The doctor decided that we could remove the large tube and collection part from the cathether, and rig up a double-diaper system. Basically, he wears one diaper with a hole cut in the front where the tiny catheter tube is threaded. The open end of hte tube is in a second diaper, worn on top of the first--that keeps the catheter in place, protects his still-tender incision area, and gives him the freedom to be a rolly-polly high-energy curious baby safely. It makes it a bit hard to button a sleeper over (I will have to wash a couple of the next size up to wear the next couple of days). To change him, we should mostly have to change just the outer diaper until the inner one gets messy.

We came home this morning. He still has the catheter and will until next Tuesday as they wait for his bladder to heal before letting it handle its normal duties. That will make caring for him a bit trickier, since I don't want to ask daycare to handle that as well (its no worse than a regular diaper change, but he's already a special case with the colostomy). We (and our surgeon) weren't expecting that going in.

It's really nice to be home right now. Trystan's taking his best nap of the week, especially since no one will wake him up to take his temperature or check his bottom or just make loud noises in the hall outside his door. I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. I also have seen Charlotte for only about an hour all week, and I'm looking forward to seeing her this afternoon!

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Up-a-daisy"

"Up-a-daisy"

That is not what you want to hear from the mouth of a 3-year old who is sitting next to your 5 month old. Charlotte apparently decided that Trystan wanted to sit up, and pulled him up to a sitting position. And then backed away. He looked around, gave me a goofy grin as I raced towards them, and promptly toppled over. And darn the child if he didn't laugh about it. I guess if he'd hit his head that hard, he would have cried, but by laughing he's re-inforced Charlotte's "helpful" attempt.

I think up and down definitely describes the last couple of weeks. Right before Labor Day weekend, I got a nice polite letter from my company's HR department saying that they were dropping Trystan from my health insurance because of "lack of documentation". I had sent his birth certificate, as they requested, several months earlier. At the time, they were doing some sort of company-wide sweep of requesting birth certificates and tax forms to prove that our medical dependents were legitimate, and I made the mistake of (silly me), sending both children's birth certificates in together. Apparently, one group (in one state) was handling dependents that were on the account as of last December. Another group (in another state) was handling dependents that were new this year. Pardon me for not realizing that all of the envelopes with my company logo and "Depended Verification" printed on the top, and PO Boxes for addresses, were actually going different places to people who were not speaking to one another.

Yikes. I called them immediately that night, and faxed them a copy of Trystan's birth certificate on that Saturday. By Tuesday, the representative said that the had not received it, or that it had not been "sorted" and "applied to my account". I then, over the next week, faxed it at least 5 more times (with and without cover letters, with my employee ID, with my social security #, and other various permutations), plus I mailed it in, calling nearly every day. I didn't get confirmation until this past Wednesday that they had received it, and could figure out what to do with it! I explained (again) that the BABY was having SURGERY on MONDAY, and that they needed to get him re-activated on the health insurance immediately if not sooner. I was told again this afternoon that they have the "work order" marked as Urgent, and that someone who deals with the insurance company is supposed to "push it through" today. In the mean time, someone from the hospital has also noticed that he's "inactive" and is trying to help get things straightened out so that we don't get a bill the size of our mortgage in the mail in a couple of weeks. Actually, its more that she's encouraging me to get thing straightened out. Same difference to her (if not to my stress level).

In between stressful phone calls, things have been relatively good around here. Charlotte is enjoying her dance classes. Trystan is getting closer and closer to crawling--he's pushing up on all 4's and trying to rock. Occaisionally he gets his butt in the air like he's doing a downward facing dog pose in Yoga. Then again, occaisionally Charlotte does too--she's seen a couple of my workout videos. Today we went to the lab at the hospital to have blood drawn, and both kids were quite good. Trystan got mad at being stuck by the needle, but really calmed down in a hurry. Charlotte was more interested in watching the needle and the blood than she was in distracting Trystan. She walked away with 6 Disney Princess stickers and a sucker for his trouble. Afterwards, I decided that the day was too nice for us to drive past the zoo and not stop. We had a rather pleasant afternoon, with only one minor meltdown on the way to the car (Charlotte was very tired and suddenly remembered that we didn't get to see the elephants). Both kids napped in the car on the way home.

Next week one of my sisters is coming out to help while Trystan's in the hospital. I'm looking forward to her visit. I don't get to see enough of any of them, and having an extra pair of hands around the house will be a life saver. We're still expecting about a 3-day stay, and I'm expecting to pretty much stay with him the whole time, and stay home from work most or all of the week. I did read a description of his surgery on another hospital's website last week, and it said that patients go home with a catheter in place, that stays until a 2-week checkup (!). No one mentioned such a thing to us that I can recall, and I'm slightly panicked. We were expecting and planning that he'd be in ok shape to go back to daycare after a week, but certainly can't with a catheter (heck, I don't know how to entertain a rolling, exploring 6-month old at home for 2 weeks with a catheter in place). We have a deadline at work, and no real backup plan at the moment for after my sister has to go home. Should make for an exciting week.

I should try to take my inspiration from Trystan--to enjoy life when I get to sit up and look around, and try laugh it off when I fall back down again. I just hope I don't bump my head to hard on the way down next time!