Friday, January 28, 2011


This week I've learned:

  1. A visit from grandparents is a highlight in the life of a small boy.
  2. A small tent is the perfect way to amuse a little guy AND motivate him to help clean up. No cleany, no tenty. 
  3. Bronchitis sucks, but it helps if you catch it early.
  4. The only time my guy will nap is when he's sick.
  5. Getting out to see a movie with my husband is so nice. Date night/afternoon needs to be a priority this year.
  6. I deserve a pretty bedside lamp, and I'm going to make that a reality next week.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Idea courtesy of Wired Monkey. Because I am utterly incapable of original ideas.

A: Adenoids. We need to get Sam's adenoids checked out, and if they need to be removed, then we get to play the oh-so-fun game of when should we do the surgery, right away or wait-and-see if he needs a second set of tubes. It's a minor surgery, very low-risk, but I'd wager no parent loves the idea of their kid going under the knife.

B: Bronchitis. BAIN OF MY FUCKING EXISTENCE. There is not a year that goes by that either my kid or I don't get bronchitis, and it is usually both of us.

C: Complaining. Because Mary Helen's C was Cancer, and although I bitch a lot, I honestly never lose sight of the fact that I am so goddamn lucky that I get to complain about things like bronchitis and potty accidents rather than things like my kid having cancer. And I am so incredibly lucky that when I worry about surgery it's adenoid surgery and ear tube placement instead of brain surgery.

D: Dog. I want one so very very badly, but between the small house and the aging cat this just isn't the time of life to do so. I told that to my brother, and he snorted that he got TWO dogs with his pre-existing cat in a smaller place than mine, to which I replied, "Yes, but I actually LIKE my cat." He conceded the point.

E. Elephants. Sam's current very favorite animal.

F. Facebook. I just spend way, way too much time over there.

G. Garden. What I cannot wait to get back to.

H. Help. I'm getting better at accepting help for what it is and not seeing it as a judgment. This is one of the hardest lessons I've learned.

I. Intelligibility. The past 10 months have, to a lesser or greater degree, revolved around diagnosing and getting help for Sam's intelligibility issues. His language is fine--he understands everything (and I do mean everything) you say, and his expressive language is pretty much right on track. But due to having fluid in his ears when he was acquiring language, and also because of some developmental delays surrounding oral motor function, he has some significant articulation issues.

J. Jokes. Sam's really starting to crack jokes, and there's simply nothing that has come along that can't be made better by a Sam-joke.

K. Klingons. Because I'm getting really worried that my child's father is going to start teaching him Klingon phrases. And everyone knows that if you're going to teach your kid a made-up language it should be Elvish.

L. Lightning McQueen. Everything in my child's life can be related to the movie Cars. Oy. Vey.

M. Miss Moira--Sam's amazing speech teacher. She comes to the house once a week and works miracles with my kid.

N. Nothing. Which is what my kid will condescend to eat. Our very worst battles are over food, and although I try valiantly to deny the battle and remain neutral, man, is it tough. One thing I've discovered is, regardless of what anyone may say, you cannot force your kid to eat. If you think you can, trust me, your child is not as stubborn as mine.

O. Oranges, or rather, clementines. There's half a box sitting in my kitchen. I need to eat them so I can be a little better on the whole fruits & veggies thing. This is a recurring theme in my life.

P. Preschool. For which I need to register my son.

Q. Quixotic. I think this may best describe my parenting style.

R. Robots. I'd love a Robot to clean my house. Even just a Roomba.

S. Sam, obviously. But also speech therapy.

T. Thistle. My other preshus, my sweet kitters cat. She hates us with the fire of a thousand burning suns, but we do feed her wet food, so she'll overlook our myriad grievous faults. In all seriousness, though, she is one damn fine cat, and so much more patient with the boy than anyone has a right to expect.

U. Unicorn. Because why not?

V. Violence. Which I wish primarily to perpetrate upon whosoever is responsible for Thomas the Tank Engine teaching my child horrific grammar. You "feel badly," Thomas? I'm sure you do, since you have no fricking hands. Or skin. Or nerve endings. However, MY child has all of those, and when he is upset about something, he should feel bad. Seriously, fuck off.

W. "WIPE NOSE!" The pathetic battle cry of the sick child. It strikes dread into my heart.

X. Xanadu. I've always had this shameful desire to see it.

Y. Yoga, which I'm finally making a priority again in my life. Thank god.

Z. Zoo. I'm debating getting a zoo membership this year to either the Reston Zoo or the National Zoo.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Parenting things about which I do not give a flying you-know-what*

  • Wearing clothes in the house. This isn't so much a "I shall not quench his precious independent spirit by forcing him to wear something he doesn't wish to" as much of a "I'm pretty goddamn sure no child ever died of exposure in a house that is kept at 68 degrees" type of thing. Clothing is not optional outside the house, but if he wants to run around in pajama tops and no bottoms in the privacy of his house I truly cannot be bothered to fight that fight. If he's cold he'll consent to pants. 
  • Daily baths. If you corner me on this I'll spout off about dry winter air and how Americans are overly germphobic and daily baths aren't good for his skin, and I do actually believe all that. But, again, unless he's dirty or congested, I'm just as happy to let him skip his bath for a day or so. I draw the line at three days--he gets a bath every third day minimum whether he needs it or not, and we usually do every other day. But I just can't find it in myself to be that worked up about it all. It's not like he's going on dates or anything. 
  • Fevers and colds. Before he got his ear tubes I'd take him in constantly, but now I can pretty much trust he's not getting an ear infection. I mean, if I even THINK something is up with his ears he goes in, but if he just has a cold or a fever, I'm not bringing him to the doctor to just to hear "He has a virus, make sure he gets lots of rest and fluids." If he seems to be getting worse instead of better I'll drag him in, but other than that, we just kick back at home. 
  • "Enrichment" activities. Until you can come up with empirical proof that there is a more enriching activity than Legos, I'm not going to buy toys with labels that promise to make my kid smarter. Legos will make my kid smart. Reading to him will make him smart. Playdough, chalk, crayons--anything that he has to think about to use creatively is good in my book. Making him figure out how to play with his toys rather than showing him the "right" way to do it. He has an amazing brain, and the best thing I can do is get out of his way and let him use it. 

*Fuck. I don't give a flying fuck.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


This week I have learned:

  1. Everyone needs some time outside in the fresh air, even in the winter.
  2. Family visits are good, not least of all because they force you to clean the house.
  3. It is super-tough on a little boy to be quiet in his own house, but sometimes life just isn't fair.
  4. Fresh-baked bread tastes incredible, especially when someone else does the baking!
  5. Homemade gingerbread playdough is far superior to anything you can find in a store.
  6. A little boy is looking forward to his grandparents' arrival, especially since they are bringing him a "special animal" to help him fall asleep on his own.
  7. My boy's capacity for unconditional love and forgiveness just about breaks my heart. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The snow is just starting to fall outside, our first "snowstorm" of 2011. I put that in quotes because a DC snowstorm (last years Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon and Snoverkill not withstanding) is really only a couple of inches. But it's more than what I grew up with, so I'm still happy every time it snows. Dr. Fancypants has a wide streak of machismo which does not allow his wife to be seen shoveling snow (although he points out that it is as because of my asthma as because of his machismo that he doesn't me exerting myself in the cold), so my snowy duties are the fun ones--making warm, wonderful meals, hot chocolate, and taking the boy out to play in the snow. He's been dying to make snow angels (the boy, not Dr. Fancypants) so I'm hoping we get a couple inches this time around.

Growing up in California, we never really had seasons. Even in Northern California, it's pretty divided into Rainy and Not-Quite-As-Rainy. But here on the East, we really have four distinct seasons, and I absolutely love it. If we ever move back to California, seasons are without a doubt one of the aspects of East Coast life I would miss the most.

Even so, winter has major ups and major downs. Fires in the fireplace! Snow! Hats and scarves! BUT--Multiple colds! Asthma! The MOTHERFUCKING asthma!!

I didn't get asthma until I was an adult, so I'm still learning how to live with this chronic condition. Most of the time it is under control, and I'm being much better about taking my meds so I don't have bad flareups. But one of the ways I keep it under control is by avoiding triggers, and one of my worst triggers is cold, dry air. Which means extended time outside in the winter tends to be a no-no for me. Which wouldn't be a problem, except it ALSO means that my boy is cooped up inside almost every day in the winter. An energetic little boy inside all day long is not a good thing.

One change I've been able to make with our fantabulous new storm door is to kick him out in the backyard by himself while I watch from inside (usually doing dishes or sorting paperwork). That way he gets some good outside time and I don't have to risk my health. I also make a point of spending time outside with him every time the weather permits me to be outside. It hasn't happened a lot this winter, but we had a warmish spell in early January and you can bet I abandoned organizing the house to take him for a tricycle ride up and down our street.

My other strategy is to simply get him outside of the house. Trips to IKEA will likely loom large in the plans this winter. Lots of playdates. Visits to the Udvar-Hazy center.

What do you do with your kids in the winter?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yearly recap

I found this over at Sundry's blog, and it seemed like a cool idea. So here it goes...

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Throw a third birthday party for my son. Go to both my grandfather's 90th birthday party and to his funeral. Took a hard look at myself and really dealt with my problem (PMDD). Took my son out on Big Bear Lake. Helped break down a couple of trees and dry our own firewood. Decorate a Christmas tree with my son.  Saw the worst and snowiest winter of my life. Held my son as he was put under and left him on an operating table. Navigated my way through special education.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't make any resolutions last year, because they've not worked out well for me in the past. But this year I'm resolving to loose some weight, because the family history of diabetes is just too strong for me to ignore it anymore. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Three of my dearest friends all had baby girls this year! It was so wonderful to welcome those little lives into the world. 
4. Did anyone close to you die?

We lost my grandfather this year. He was 90, and went out at the top of his game. I miss him every day, but it's not a sad missing. I'm not sad he's gone, but I just miss him. 
5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
More peace of mind. 
A  vacation for just our family. 
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 8, the day my grandfather died. I'm not great at specific dates, but definitely the days my friends had their babies. 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Recognizing that I had PMDD and deciding to get some help. It is so amazing, and I am so humbly grateful, that now in the week before my period I can clean my house, deal with my son, cook meals, and not sit on the couch crying. Putting myself first and realizing that I HAD to care for myself before I could care for my family. 
9. What was your biggest failure?
I really fell off the exercise bus this year. And that seems like it has affected so many other parts of my life. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I spent the whole winter of 2010 sick. It was a brutal stretch, and one that I am doing EVERYTHING in my power to avoid. 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new storm door for the back door. It has been fantastic! I love having the retractable screen for milder days. Also new bras.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and groceries, sadly. 
13. What did you get really excited about?
Christmas so fun this year. And finally getting speech therapy services for my son after slogging through the system for about seven months. My sister-in-law getting engaged. Meeting my niece for the first time.
14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I'm not sure this year has a particular song for me. Which is unusual. 
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? I think I weigh less, but it feels like more fat and less muscle than last year.
– richer or poorer? Richer--we're making slow but steady financial progress.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. Turning off the computer. More walks. Go into the city more often. Exercise.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying about things I can't change. Asking my husband to pick up dinner instead of cooking. 
18. How did you spend Christmas?
At home--so peaceful and wonderful. 
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Doctor Who.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Mockingjay. Best Friends Forever. I don't even know--I can't remember much of what I read this year. 
21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I don't think I listened to any current music this year at all! I spent a lot of time listening to Wailing Jennys, the Cars soundtrack (ugh), and whatever popped up on Pandora. 
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
REDS, How to Train Your Dragon, The A-Team. We didn't see a ton of movies this year but more than we did last year. I started Inception but we wound up falling asleep and I haven't rented it out again yet. 
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32 (I think??) and we all went to the knitting store, got me some new knitting supplies, then went out to lunch and had cupcakes. It was a great day. 
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I'd gotten treatment for the PMDD earlier.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I wore clothes that were usually clean and mostly brushed my hair before leaving the house. 
26. What kept you sane?
My husband. My friends. My son. Exercise. Prozac. Most especially Prozac!!
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

You absolutely must put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. It does others no good when you black out from lack of oxygen before you can get their mask adjusted. And setting a good example of self-care is one of the most important things you can do for your children. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


This week I have learned:

  1. It is so exciting when you learn to properly put your pants on all by yourself.
  2. For my boy with the major oral fixation, a pet store may be a better place to find him a "chew toy" than a toy store!
  3. Pumpkin bread tastes even better when you add some chocolate.
  4. Coming back to a recipe you haven't made in months is like a comforting visit with an old friend.
  5. Sometimes an angry little kitty just needs some love.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Now we sing of fair maid with gold upon her chin...

Open you the East door and turn the new year in.

I'm not just desperately hoping, I'm also planning that this year, 2011, will be the year of being more organized. I'm making a good start--I finally got some large storage bins to put away all of Sam's old clothes, which previously had been thrown in his closet since I had no place else to put them. Turns out that four bins is not enough--I'll need at least two more, and probably a third for some toys.

Living in a small house with very little storage has been tough, especially once we added a child and his multiple possessions to the mix. I think we're going to bite the bullet and get a small storage unit soon--mostly for things like the crib, which we won't be using for quite a while, but which we will need again one day. But there's a lot of guilt involved for me in taking this step--it feels like a sickness to have so many things that you can't store them in your house. What are we DOING with this much stuff??!! What kind of sick first-world, overprivileged problem is this?

So much of our stuff is gifts--a huge portion of the stuff I'm keeping and not using are wedding presents--crystal and glasses that I know I will use one day, but just don't have the space for right now. Remembrances of people who are now gone. So those will go into storage.

An interesting side effect of the little money/no space problem is that I very rarely buy things for myself now. And when I do, like a simple hand towel at Target, I get so much enjoyment out of it. It feels like such a treat, because buying something I like just isn't the norm anymore. Even if I had all the space and all the money in the world, I think I'd still keep to this new way of not buying stuff frequently. Every time I look at my towel I get a little thrill.