Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

I remember being in my second trimester of my pregnancy with Sam, and finally allowing myself to get excited about the baby it looked like I was going to end up with in a few short months.  Ron and I set up the crib, then tried to move it into the baby's room, only to find it didn't fit through the doorway.  We had to dismantle it, move the parts into the room, and "re-mantle" it.
For the next few months, I used the crib for storing all the various baby accoutrements we received as gifts and hand-me-downs.  I started to wonder where I was going to store all that stuff when I had to put the actual baby in the crib.
Then Sam was born, and slept in the crib for the next 2 years.  (I use the word "slept" in the loosest sense of the term, since sleep has never been one of his favorite pursuits.)
Then Natalie was born, and after the first couple of months that she spent in a bassinet in our bedroom, she moved to the crib.  Unlike Sam, she actually SLEPT in the crib for the next year and a half.
This weekend, I dismantled the crib and moved it downstairs, where it will live for the next few weeks few months until I get around to posting an ad on Craigslist.
Goodbye, crib.  It's been nice knowing ya.
*sniff, sniff*  Now I officially have no more babies in my house.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Close Encounters of the Medical Kind

Saturday started off with some unwelcome excitement.  The kids, the dog, and I were all outside and Natalie was having a snack while Sam rode his bike around on the driveway.  For no apparent reason, he ran into her with his bike, causing her to start crying.  I could tell from the tone of her cry that she wasn't hurt too badly, so I "attended" to Sam first by sending him to time-out and sending his bike to the inaccessible-to-him bike rack for the remainder of the day.
While I was doing this, a strange, gasping, choking sound started coming from Natalie's direction.  She was choking on her snack.  I've never had any reason to do the Heimlich maneuver in real life, but I pictured 1) my high-school health class and the 2) instruction sheet that used to hang in the kitchen of the restaurant I worked at throughout high school, and on the second thrust -- out popped the obstruction.  Her first cry brought tears to my eyes, similar to the way I felt when I heard her first cry at the hospital the day she was born.
A few hours later, I packed the kids into the car and went to Urgent Care.  Three weeks ago, I was bit by a deer tick and the site is still an itchy bump.  I hadn't been worried about it too much, but I had been thinking I should see my doctor one of these days, since I would have expected a bite to heal by this time.  I'd been watching for the bullseye rash associated with Lyme disease, but hadn't seen one so I figured I was in the clear.
Until Thursday, when I started having some strange symptoms.  Dizzy spells, heart palpitations, and nausea.  When this was still happening on Saturday morning, my husband convinced me to go to Urgent Care.  "Easy for you to say," I said, since he was going to work and I was facing the prospect of taking two young children with me to the clinic.  But ultimately I decided to go in.  At this particular clinic, Urgent Care hours don't start until 12:00.  I was hoping to be in and out quickly, so I promised the kids we'd stop for lunch afterwards. 
The triage nurse sent me to the E.R.  Three hours, two hungry and tired kids, five vials of blood, and $100 later, they discharged me with no answers.  The Lyme disease test won't be available until Wednesday, and that is not even definitive.  A positive test is definitely positive, but a negative test is not necessarily negative.  Evidently, there is not a test available to measure the number of spirochetes in the blood, so they can only measure the number of antibodies being produced.  Early in the disease, my body might not be producing enough antibodies to make the test positive.  So, who knows.
Since I've had no appetite, I've lost a couple of pounds in the last week.  I might hold off on taking the antibiotics until I lose that last, pesky 20 pounds.  Kidding, kidding.  Sorta.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quite a Workout

Monday night, Sam had his preschool screening.  I had no idea they do it so early now, but it makes sense, I guess - better to catch any potential problems as early as you can.  He passed, so he's ready to start kindergarten in the fall of 2011.  Me?  I'm not so ready.  But since it's still two years away, I can live in denial for a bit longer.
The first screener asked him about 50 questions, ranging from "what color is this block?" to "complete this pattern".  At his age, he only had to answer 11 questions correctly.  I didn't find that out until the screening was over, so when questions came up that I hadn't even thought of teaching him, I knew he was going to fail the test and not be able to start kindergarten until he was 10 years old, and it was ALL MY FAULT.  Patterns?  It's never even crossed my mind to teach him that concept.  But he got 29 questions right, so he passed without a problem.  Thank goodness.  I'm counting on him to support me in my old age.
Then they did hearing and vision screening, which he also passed.  When we were done, and waiting to speak to the nurse to review all the results, Sam plopped down into his chair and said, "Whew!  That was a lot of hard work.  I'm very sweaty from all that hard work!"
No one said building mental muscles was easy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Puppy Tales

Happy has been the perfect furry addition to our family.  He is very smart and wants to please, so he's very well-behaved, for the most part.  He has a couple of bad habits, from his previous owners.  Evidently, they 1) fed him table scraps; and 2) let him sleep in the kids' beds, so he barks in his kennel at night.  Monday, I had to put him out in the garage when the kids ate their snack and dinner, because he wouldn't stop begging and trying to climb up onto the table.  Last night, he did great at dinnertime - I actually forgot he was in the house, until I looked around to figure out where he'd gone, and saw him quietly lying under the table.  (He probably knew the odds were in his favor that, if he stayed there long enough, one of the kids would drop something.  He's a smart dog.)
Now, instead of having a 2-kid train follow me from room to room, I have a 2-kid+1-dog train following me everywhere.  I wouldn't have believed that another body could possibly fit into our too-small bathroom, but a small, furry black body does manage to squeeze in. 
Monday night, we had our first mini-crisis.  The chain-link fence in the front yard had a gap between the ground and the bottom of the fence, which I was repairing with chicken wire.  Happy and the kids were playing up by the garage, so I thought he was distracted.  I turned my back to grab the wire snips, and when I turned back around, there was Happy on the WRONG side of the fence, and quick as a flash he took off down the road after a bicyclist.  Of course, Ron was at work so I was home alone.  I told the kids to stay put, and went in chase of the dog.  Wrong move, because of course he thought it was a game and wouldn't come back for anything.
Then I turned to see that Sam was crawling under the fence.  "STAY THERE," I said in my firmest voice, and Sam listened but I could tell he really wanted to come and help me, so I didn't trust him to stay.  I went through the options in my head, and it seemed that all I could do was run in the house to get my keys and throw the kids in the van, and good luck to me finding the dog after all that time had passed.  Thankfully, just then a very nice couple stopped and asked if I needed some help.  The woman made sure my kids didn't go on the road while I finally managed to grab the dog, about a quarter mile down the road.  Good thing I had my tennis shoes on, because I got quite a bit of running in that night. 
While my kids have never run out onto the road and refused to come back, at least once a week they manage to frighten and/or annoy me with their antics, so Happy the dog fits right in with the craziness that is our family.  I think we'll keep him.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Newest Addition

It's like having another toddler in the house.  But this one actually listens to me.  

1) His name - the one he came with - is Happy.  We might still be changing that.
2) He's an 8-month-old poodle.
3) When Sam realized we were taking him home, he looked up at me with an awestruck expression on his face and, shaking with excitement, said, "I always wanted a dog!"  That, right there, is why we did this.

More details to come later. 

And Sam was thrilled to discover that he fit in the dog's kennel.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Make Way for A Gosling

Driving down the freeway, there were a couple of cars ahead of me who seemed to be competing for the Worst Driver of the Year award.  Darting in and out of traffic, slowing down and speeding up for no apparent reason - you know, the kind of behavior that causes you to drop back a few car lengths so you can avoid being caught up in the accident they are trying to their hardest to create.
Lucky me, both cars were now in my lane, albeit a hundred feet ahead of me - and suddenly, they both SLAMMED on their brakes.  As far back as I was, I still had to brake hard to avoid hitting them.  I grumbled under my breath and was looking for an opening in the next lane, when I saw why they had stopped so abruptly.
Make Way for Ducklings!  Or a gosling, as the case may be.  One lone gosling, flanked by two adult geese, was crossing the busy four-lane freeway.  The adult goose in the back had his neck craned at a weird angle, apparently attempting to make himself look big and bad.  He was showing those cars who was boss.
They did make it safely to the median, but there were four more lanes of north-bound traffic to cross, so I can only hope they made it safely to their destination.
Have you ever seen just one gosling, though?  I don't think I have, and that makes me wonder what happened to his fellow nestlings.  I'm guessing those geese parents might have made some other poor parenting choices.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kids Book List, Theme: Gardening

Have I already said how much I love the library?  So much, that my library card is activated at 4 of the 8 library systems in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.  Our libraries have an awesome "exchange program" type thing here - first you need to obtain a card from your home county's library system, but you can have it activated at any or all of the other library systems.  Since I work in one county, live in another, and regularly go to two other counties for various errands, this is very convenient because I can just stop at the library wherever I am at the moment.  And because I'm such a nerd, I know which library has the best children's section, the best selection of audiobooks, and the nicest librarians.  (Pssst, to my local friends - the librarians in the Anoka County library system are, in general, the crabbiest, most unhelpful librarians I've ever met.  And I've met a lot.)
I'm subscribed to various newsletters from each of the library systems.  One newsletter tells me about the new books the library has just added to their collection - which allows me to put my name on the wait list immediately, meaning I usually get to read the book within days of its release - without having to pay for a hardcover copy at the bookstore!  Another newsletter, my most favoritest newsletter ever, is called "Birth to Six News", which comes from the Hennepin County library.  It's a children's books newsletter that comes out once a month and includes fingerplays, new and notable books, and usually a section that highlights books on a certain topic. 
Also, on Hennepin County Library's website is ELSIE (Early Literacy Storytime Ideas Exchange).  You can search children's books based on a certain keyword, and limit your selection based on certain skill groups that you want to focus on, like Phonological Sensitivity, Letter Knowledge, and Vocabulary.  You don't even have to have a library card to use this system - anyone can use it to create a book list!  
Usually, the kids and I go to the library and choose books, willy-nilly, off the shelves.  But sometimes I have an agenda, and this month's agenda is "gardening".  Both kids have an intense interest in the garden, and have been helping me plant, water, and weed.  So far, neither one of them has pulled up a desirable plant, either.  But whether that speaks to their plant knowledge, or the weed/seeding ratio in my garden still remains to be seen.  Honestly, I'm betting on the weed/seedling ratio.
Here's my "gardening" booklist for this week:
The Carrot Seed - Ruth Krauss
Growing Vegetable Soup - Lois Ehlert
Ten Red Apples - Virginia Miller
Two Old Potatoes and Me - John Coy
Carrot Soup - John Segal
The Enormous Carrot - Vladimir Vasilevich Vagin
First the Egg - Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Muncha Muncha Muncha - Candace Fleming
Farm-Fresh Cats - Scott Santoro

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2 Reasons Why Carpet is BAD

Friday night I needed to go into a particular cabinet for a potholder.  This cabinet is not organized as well as it should be, as my extract and food coloring bottles are in front of the potholders - meaning, oftentimes when I reach for a potholder, I knock over a bottle.  That's what happened Friday night.  After I'd picked up the food coloring bottles off the floor, I realized I was holding a green cap but no bottle.  I looked under chairs, in corners, and under the refrigerator, but couldn't find a bottle anywhere so I assumed it had been used up and the cap just hadn't gotten thrown away.
*Cue the ominous music*
Later, I went in to start the kids' bath.  I was running the tub, which usually makes the kids come running.  A quick head count informed me that only one child had materialized.  Hmmm, where's Natalie?  I thought absentmindedly.  After the tub was full, I went out to find her.  And find her, I did.  In a puddle of green food coloring.  Which was all over my light-blue carpet.  And Natalie's hands.  And Natalie's khaki shorts.  And Natalie's pink shirt.
I did what anyone would do in this situation.  I screeched, "What did you do omigod what did you do get in the tub right now omigod" and stripped her clothes off on the way to the bathroom.  I scrubbed her down, best as I could - not easy to do when the bathwater instantly starts to look like it's been hit with a major case of algae bloom.  Then I got to work on the carpet.  A bottle of vinegar, six dishtowels, half a bottle of SpotShot, and an hour later, the carpet was reasonably clean.
But this wasn't the end of the carpet fiasco.  Oh no.
Saturday morning, a mere 12 hours after the green dye incident, I opened a bottle of grape juice which I'd just bought the day before.  I gave the kids each their usual watered-down serving.  1/4 cup juice to 3/4 cup water - you know, I actually prefer it this way, too.  I think it's much too sweet full-strength.  But I digress.
15 minutes later - seriously, only 15 minutes later! - Ron bellered at me from the living room.  "Get in here RIGHT NOW!  I need you!" 
Natalie had thrown up her grape juice all over the living room carpet.  Luckily, I still had a few clean dishtowels left and I commenced to scrubbing once more.
But what's a little bit scary is that it was evidently because of the grape juice that she threw up.  Because Sam did the same thing 10 minutes later.  And then neither one threw up the rest of the day.  I'm still not sure what I should do - call the store and explain what happened?  I can't imagine them taking the bottles off the shelves because of that one incident.  And the kids didn't really get that sick.  One good barf and they were both right as rain.
I think I'm going to get hardwood floors.

Monday, June 1, 2009

*Heavy sigh*

Awhile back, I talked about how some research has shown that kids tend to go through disequilibrium around the half-year mark. Sam will be 3 1/2 next month, and the terrible 3's have officially hit our house.
On Thursday of last week, I got the first glimpse of what was about to come.  It was just general naughtiness, nothing I could really put my finger on, but in a general way the behavior was very out of character for Sam.  I have been wanting to paint the bathroom for awhile, and I did have this feeling like - "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't try to do this now, because it probably won't turn out well".  You know how you've heard you should always trust your instincts?  You really should.
After I'd cleaned off the yellow Sam-sized handprints from the front of my (Not Normally Yellow) bathroom cabinets, I banished Sam to his room and kept him on A Very Short Leash for the rest of the night.  Figuratively, not literally - though I have to admit, I just may have been tempted for a brief moment.
The weekend was like a marathon of episodes of a really bad sitcom.  Things that might be funny if you see them on the TV screen, but not so funny when you have to clean up the aftermath.  Like when I was carrying a bucket of sudsy water outside to wash my car, and Sam ran up to me and, as quick as lightning, yanked on one side of the bucket so the water spilled all over the kitchen floor, landing, and stairs.  Trust me, there was no laugh track playing at our house - although there was a deep, reverberating voice narrating the words "GET INTO YOUR ROOM RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME..."
And this morning, I received a phone call from my husband that Sam had detached a clump of hair from Natalie's skull using brute force.  A clump.  When you hear the words "a clump" and "hair" in the same sentence, it sends a shiver down your spine.  I have not yet surveyed the damage first-hand, but it can't be pretty.  I've been informed that Sam has lost custody of one of his favorite toys for the remainder of the week (and with just cause).
Anyway!  Let's talk about something else more fun, because frankly, I'm getting more annoyed every minute just from typing this.
Like my garden!  I am doing some experimenting this year with fun, new things which I've never grown.  Red sweet corn - did you know there was such a thing?  I've only seen the small, decorative kind of red corn.  But as we speak, I have red sweet corn sprouting in my garden.  And artichokes!  I didn't even know they could grow in Minnesota, with our approximately 2-day growing season.  But the seed packet informs me that they do, by showing our grand state on the "when to plant" map.  We even have an actual color that corresponds to an actual month range on the map key!  So it must be so!  And I found some fun varieties of heirloom tomato plants at the Farmer's Market.  One that produces striped tomatoes, another called a "Black Plum" tomato, and a "Russian Persimmon".
Also, trees!  Now, those of you who know me well will laugh at this.  For, oh, the last 5 years or so, we've been talking about moving to a single-family house with more property.  (We live in an upper-lower duplex, and although we don't rent out the bottom half anymore, we mainly use it for storage so it's largely wasted space.  And who really needs two kitchens and two laundry rooms.)  I think, after 5 years, we're finally ready to give up the dream.  After all, moving is A LOT OF WORK.  Inertia is just easier.  So I'm planting trees.  Trees which won't fruit for 3 or more years, which basically ties me to this land.  Because after paying so much money for these trees, and all the time put into their care, I want to be around to see them pay off!
First, I purchased 2 apple trees from Linder's (a local chain).  I bought a Honeycrisp and a Sweet Sixten...yum.  I paid $50 each, which seemed like a steal since the independent greenhouses I'd perused charged $75 to $100 for the same trees.
Then, I was at Fleet Farm last week (another local chain) and found my holy grail...a Mesabi cherry tree.  I have been looking, and looking for one of these for a couple of months now.  It was marked $44.99.  Awesome!  But even more awesome, it rang up at 25% off - $33.74!!!  If I had room in my yard, I was sorely tempted to buy a pear tree and a plum tree, also.  Maybe next year, I'll find a place to squeeze them in. I'm feeling much better.  I'd so much rather think and talk about my garden than my behaviorally-challenged 3 1/2-year-old at the moment.