The Missing Wallet on Richmondmom

I have been a mess lately.

Not in any sort of good way.

In the I’m-sick-my-husband’s-out-of-town-I-don’t-even-have-clean-pants way. You would die if you saw my laundry pile.

And then, I lost my wallet.

Please join me at Richmondmom.com where I let you in on the behind-the-scenes of my current life and make you smile with a story of a good deed.

See you there! 

The First Week of School That Wasn’t

After a busy trip to the beach to celebrate my husband’s 30th birthday, followed by a week to Georgia to visit family, followed by an epic 4th birthday party for my son, it was inevitable that life would catch up with us.

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Excited at pre-k orientation!

My son made it to his first day of school orientation where we both fell in love with his teachers and his cute classroom.

And then sickness hit.

I had woken up hours early and made muffins and painted a chalkboard sign for my son’s first day of school. I was so looking forward to some downtime from all of the craziness and quiet solitude as my husband returned to work and my son started his first day of pre-kindergarten. (Also? How is he old enough for pre-k??)

Our first day of school was instead spent in bed after my son threw up all over the couch. Thank goodness for removable and washable cushion covers.

His four year old check up was that afternoon but by then he seemed fine, just a bit tired. Everything checked out well with the doctor and my son came in at a healthy 37.5 pounds and 3.5 feet.

I was hoping for a recovery the next day but instead he woke up with a 102.2 degree fever. My poor little guy and I spent the whole day cuddling on the couch.

By the last day of his four day school week he felt good enough to go and was actually ready to get out of the house. And probably ready for a break from Mommy.

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Cutest First Day of Pre-K picture ever.

He did have a great first day at school and how adorable is his first day of school picture??

His teacher is incredibly organized and communicative and has some adorable ideas for the school year. I think this is going to be his best year yet and I am so relieved to know we made the right choice despite all of my insecurities about school this spring.

To continue our crazy pace I had auditions for a Christmas production this weekend and worked my very first event for Richmondmom.com. This week was a bit more normal but after summer and all of our traveling I still have not caught up on laundry! (Or sleep. I’m never caught up on sleep.)

We ended this week of my son’s school with a very special treat; Disney on Ice! You can see my review on Richmondmom.com.

I think things are going to slow down…for a few days anyway, before all of the excitement of fall kicks in. :)

How has your fall gotten started?

 

The Trouble With Three

Have you ever spent a lot of time with a three year old? By a lot, I would have to say approximately 150 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week, and I legitimately spend 150 of them with my son. Who happens to be at the ridiculously challenging age of three.

(This is a true calculation. My husband is very rarely home, and this calculation took into account the times my son goes to school or attends church child care. I am with him AT ALL OTHER TIMES. I am including the night hours because at nearly three-and-a-half, this child still does not sleep through the night. We’re working on it.)

I remember my mom and my mother-in-law both saying that they found three to be harder than two. As a mother of a two year old, I found that to be an impossible statement.

Then, I became the mother of a three year old.

Three year olds are, for lack of a more appropriate description, ridiculous creatures.

I could handle the terrible twos. Terrible twos are just about the word “no” and temper tantrums. Three year olds are constantly on a roller coaster and they are taking you with them.

Here is my parenting time line so far:

Pregnancy, delivery, recovery: Terrible

Baby phase: I rocked it. My emotions may have been going haywire as I struggled with postpartum depression, but I found parenting a baby very natural and I knew exactly how to do it in a way that worked for me and my son. We had a really great run for those first 18 months.

Terrible Twos: My son hit his terrible twos early, at 18 months. Even though the constant “No”s and temper tantrums were trying, I was (usually) able to deal with them and think, “It must be hard to be two.”

Two and a half to three: Dare I say it, but from age two and a half to three parenting was actually EASY. My son was a good listener, very cooperative, and very willing and excited to learn new skills. He practically potty trained himself at 29 months, received glowing reviews from his teachers, and was fun to be around.

Then three hit. It wasn’t an overnight change, but slowly my sweet, loving boy turned into a whiny, emotional, defiant monster. He forgot how to listen and pushes limits like his life depends on it.

I am finding threes to be worse than twos because at two they are genuinely still learning. Their protests are out of frustration and your job is to provide guidance. At age three, I KNOW my son knows better than some of these behaviors and he continues them anyway. It’s exhausting and infuriating.

The thing is that no one tells you about how bad the threes will be, or they can’t tell you exactly why it’s hard. It just IS. It’s incredibly, frustratingly, hard.

It feels like another one of those unspoken rights of motherhood. Your body will change in indescribable ways, your bladder will never go back to normal, oh, and the threes are going to be REALLY hard.

My favorite term for my son is a threenager, because he certainly teeters between being a little one that needs me and a teenager with an attitude ready to be independent. My threenager has got his role down complete with going to his room and slamming doors when he’s mad to uncontrollable bouts of attitude and disrespect to telling me the other day, “Mom, please be quiet. You’re interrupting my show.”

Sigh. The beauty of being someone’s mother is you can see them at all of their stages. I can look at my son and still see him as a baby, and I sometimes flash forward to seeing him as a teenager and see glimpses of the young man he will become. And then I see him as three, at this challenging age of pushing limits and being in between.

And I think, this won’t last for long. This, too, is just a phase.

But so far I must say, it’s a phase I’m ready to move on from.

Only 23 more days till 4.

 

Tooth Trouble: The Whole Story

My son started teething a bit early, around 4 months old. We did all of the things we knew to do; teething rings in the freezer, let him bite our fingers, gave him Tylenol, tried the homeopathic teething tablets, and gave him lots of cuddles.

By 6 months teeth coming through had become normal for us and by 9 months he had quite a few teeth.

We were moving from our apartment in Augusta, GA to our first home in Richmond, VA when he was 9 months old. At his final check up with the GA pediatrician, she was concerned about his teeth. “They seem to have some deformation,” she said. “I recommend you take him to the dentist immediately.”

Really? The dentist at 9 months old? Aren’t you supposed to have the first appointment at age 2 or 3? And we were in the middle of moving so it didn’t make sense to try and establish a connection with a dentist when we had one foot out the door to move 10 hours away. “Then the first thing you need to do when you get to Richmond is call a pediatric dentist.”

So I did. We moved when my son was 9 months old and at 10 months old we were sitting in a pediatric dentist’s office, my son in my lap, while the dentist looked at his mis-formed teeth.

The thing was, they actually CAME IN YELLOW. This wasn’t a case of poor dental care, this was a child whose teeth came in yellow as a baby. The pediatric dentist started grilling me about my pregnancy. Had I abused drugs? What was my alcohol intake? Did I have a complicated pregnancy? Was there a family history of poorly formed teeth? Basically, what did I do to make this happen? (Answers are no, none, yes but I don’t know how that would have affected his teeth, I don’t think so, and I have no idea why are you making me feel oddly guilty?)

After more questions about his diet and eating habits and making me feel like a terrible mother I was told that there was nothing we could really do (he was still too young to even brush teeth) but we might need to start wiping his teeth with a wet rag after he eats. Oh, and I needed to stop breastfeeding.

There is actually a lot of evidence that shows the health benefits of breastfeeding, including the positive effects on oral development and dental health. Discontinuing breastfeeding was not something I was willing to do. I left the office feeling deflated and angry for the way I was made to feel that his teeth were somehow my fault.

Some family conversations later my husband and I find out that some distant cousin/relative on my husband’s side had enamel deficiency. Some strange ultra recessive gene?

We wiped my son’s teeth after eating and he had a diet of breast milk and mashed fruit and veggies. At the next check up, three months later, the dentist’s views were much of the same. There had been no improvement in my son’s teeth but he was still too young for them to do anything, and they again urged me to stop nursing and questioned what happened during my pregnancy. I also hated the way they handled my son, making me hold him down in my lap so they could pry his mouth open and take a peek. It was difficult for me to physically maneuver him and to emotionally hear him scream. The verdict was the same; let’s wait and see what happens.

Three months later, we got a different dentist. A young, very nice resident who treated my son with care and didn’t make me feel terrible about his yellow teeth. She said that not only had there been no improvement in his teeth, but it actually looked like they were beginning to further deteriorate. She recommended that we put my son under general anesthesia to perform a dental surgery. She said the condition of his teeth would continue to deteriorate, and we could choose to intervene now or later but now would be best.

I was in tears at the prospect of my son facing a surgery. My husband was not at all comforting, since his specialty is anesthesia and he thinks of it as a routine procedure. He did not seem to fully grasp what it meant to face the prospect of putting your own child to sleep for a surgery. I felt alone in my concerns and scheduling the surgery became a task of it’s own, requiring multiple calls to the “scheduling coordinator” who was in charge of coordinating the procedure with the dental office, insurance, and the OR, as well as the anesthesia team.

We were going on our first family vacation in May and would have the procedure done in June. While we were on vacation I got a call about rescheduling the exact day. Also while we were on vacation, the deterioration the dentist was afraid of came true.

We made our way to the beach prior to going to GA to visit family. While in GA, my son started running a temperature and seemed to have some facial swelling. We took him to a pediatrician in GA who said maybe it was an allergic reaction or that sometimes there can be swelling with colds and fevers. My son was in pain, and later that evening we discovered why.

His gums had abscessed. Whatever it was that made his teeth yellow had caused an infection that had spread to his gums, causing his gums and face to swell. We had to call the dentist and have her call in a prescription for an antibiotic to GA. Depending on his condition when we returned would depend on whether or not they could perform surgery, since they do not like to put children to sleep if they are running fevers and on antibiotics.

After returning home, and 2 courses on antibiotics later, the swelling was down, fevers were gone, and it was time for the surgery.

I had had a few weeks to process, so I thought I was in a good place about the surgery, and it was very apparent that it was necessary. The morning of the surgery my husband, son and I woke up extremely early and got ready to go to the hospital. I spilled my chai tea all over the kitchen floor so perhaps I wasn’t as put together as I thought.

We made it to the hospital my 6:30 AM and I followed my husband through what seemed like a maze before we arrived. We took my son to a small room where they weighed him and talked to him. We had to sign a bunch of papers. People came to talk to my husband. We met the dentist and anesthesiologist. And then they gave my son an oral medication that would make him sleepy. It really made him incredibly loopy.

I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with a drunk baby before, but it was incredibly strange. He got really happy, and as my husband said in his take away message, “At least we know he’ll be a fun, happy drunk in college!”

Then they took him away.

There were no tears from my son when they took him, which is good, and I think part of why they give him the oral meds when we’re there with him. So it wouldn’t be as scary.

My husband and I walked down to the cafeteria. I ordered a chai. “Don’t you want anything to eat?” he asked me. I’m never one to pass up good breakfast food.

“I’m not hungry,” I replied.

We walked in silence back to the waiting room, where we sat, crowded with other moms and dads waiting for their child and a lot of other families waiting to even go back into the little room to get started. My son was the first surgery of the day.

“You know, it’s not normal to have to hand your child to someone and watch them take them away to surgery,” my husband said. It had finally caught up to him.

We passed the time with people watching. I briefly gazed through a magazine. TV blared in the corner. We laughed about something, but I don’t remember what.

“Hembree?” We jumped to attention. “He’s doing fine. The procedure went well. He’s just in recovery now. We’ll come and get you when you can see him.”

The dentist came out shortly after. “He did great! We were able to cap the bottom two teeth and do a thorough cleaning. We used the base of his top two teeth to construct caps around them to resemble full teeth. Unfortunately, the infection was too deep to save the other top two teeth, so we had to extract them. I would like to send them off to a research facility in North Carolina. I’ve really never seen anything like it.”

At 20 months old, my son had undergone general anesthesia, had fake teeth, and had two teeth extracted.

Seeing him in post-op was heart-wrenching. His mouth was in gauze and covered blood. He was extremely disoriented in a hospital gown and over-sized orange hospital socks. His face was a bit swollen and there was sticky residue over his eyes from where they had been taped shut. He was calling for Mommy and Daddy and we were right there but it was hard to comfort him because he was so unaware of his surroundings.

At some point they brought him a snow cone (a cup of ice with syrup.) We tried to help him take small bites.

Soon we were released to go home. We carried him all the way to the car and drove home as quickly as possible.

When we got home he desperately wanted to walk and play, but he was stumbling and falling. The anesthesia still hadn’t fully worn off and he was incapable of walking. He screamed and cried when I had to hold him and finally threw a large tantrum, escaped my grasp, and crawled to the middle of the living room floor where he promptly fell asleep. That was certainly a first. My husband and I sat in the living room with him and watched him sleep away the beautiful summer day.

Hours later, when he woke up, he was fine. We gave him Tylenol and used teething ice packs for a few days and that was it. Tooth drama over.

We tried the tooth fairy thing that night and left money under his pillow. The concept was lost on a 20 month old.

I was worried that only having two front top teeth would affect his eating abilities. It didn’t. I was worried that missing two front top teeth would affect his speech development. It does, but this did come into play until earlier this year when it was brought to my attention by his preschool teachers. I was worried about what it would mean to his peers to be missing his front teeth. His baby teeth are gone, and his permanent teeth will not come in until he is 6 or 7, about first grade. I just hope this never causes him to be made fun of in school. Luckily, all of his peers will be losing their baby teeth at some point so maybe it won’t be an issue.

Then on September 1st, 2011, my son’s second birthday, we received a bill in the mail for a total of $13,500 for my son’s dental surgery. Insurance was refusing to cover it. It was unclear why. One call resulted in the claim that the procedure “was not medically necessary.” Another stated that the pre-approval had been improperly filed. Yet another inquiry informed me that the billing code was incorrect. In the mean time, we were not paying any money for the surgery as I fought with the insurance company, and the hospital billing sent our file to collections, so we were receiving threatening letters. Though this is a long story and could be a post all on it’s own, the summary is that I called our insurance company EVERY WEEK for an ENTIRE YEAR. We went through two appeal processes. I dealt with the insurance company, collection agencies, the hospital, and the dentist office. Finally, right before my son’s third birthday, the appeal was accepted. After my very strongly worded letter (I wanted an award for that thing) and a very thorough appeal packet which included reference to legislation supporting the procedure, photographic evidence, and many documents, our claim was accepted. I had spent a year of my time on it, but our outstanding $13,500 bill was brought down to only a $30 co-pay.

Summer turned to fall and my son started his first experience at preschool. Then that November, my husband and son were going up the stairs to change a diaper. Someone pulled too hard and someone let go, and somehow my son fell up the stairs, cracking his top front tooth. He was in a lot of pain and it seemed the fall had not only cracked the tooth, it had pushed the base of the tooth into his gums. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and by 5:00 we were sitting in the dentist’s office, the staff was staying after hours, and they were strapping my son down in what they call a “papoose” and pulling his tooth. No drugs or anesthesia involved.

I couldn’t watch, but I could hear his screams down the hall as my husband stayed calming with him and I cried from afar.

When it was all over we drove home with a popsicle from the dentist and a child with only one remaining top front tooth. He was barely 2 and was missing three teeth that will remain missing until he is 6 or 7.

Then it was over. We diligently brush his teeth twice a day. All follow up checks up have gone well. We thought we were in the clear.

Two weeks ago my son had a dentist appointment. I left completely defeated, as they discovered that he had 4 cavities and they are now suggesting another dental surgery to fill them and do a thorough cleaning, asking that he go on a sugar free diet, and saying he needs to brush his teeth after each time he eats.

We have not scheduled the second surgery yet, because we are trying to find a time that my husband in actually home to come with us and waiting on a pre-approval from the insurance company (we have since changed companies so hopefully it will be better this time.) In the meantime, we are starting a sugar free diet and doing a lot of teeth brushing.

I’m am so exhausted from tooth drama.

I know that in terms of health problems, we are incredibly lucky that his health problems are limited to dental. The only thing is, it spills into other areas of his health such as his speech development and we are in for a lifetime of dental work and braces. One of the points of baby teeth is to be spacers for permanent teeth, and since he does not have baby teeth to hold the space, braces are inevitable. I just REALLY hope his permanent teeth come in with out deformities.

Has anyone ever experienced anything like this?

 

Choose Your Battles

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It was an early morning and the often dreaded get-ready- for-school routine was upon us. Neither of us excel in the “morning person” area, so my son and I both struggle with the unreasonable demands of waking up and getting dressed at a certain time.

This morning was different, though. We had both gone to bed very early the night before, were well rested, and had spent the first part of the morning talking, laughing, and reading stories. It was going to be a good day. Obviously, having that thought was my first mistake.

As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, my son began the first battle with an outcry of “I want to be naked!”

“I know, you really like to be naked,” I replied, “but right now we have to get dressed and go to school.”

Reluctantly, my naked toddler sauntered over to me and offered his foot for the putting on of underwear. First battle: Mommy.

“I want this shirt!” he said, presenting a gray and black striped shirt. “And these pants!” he declared, choosing a slightly wrinkled pair of khakis from the laundry pile on the couch.

I am not a huge stickler for fashion, since I have been known to show up at preschool drop off and pick up with no bra, sweat pants, and a ponytail, but when I actually get dressed I do like fashion. And I definitely like for my son’s clothes to match.

“I’m not sure that those pants match that shirt. What about jeans with that shirt? Or you could wear this blue shirt with those pants? Oh look I even have the blue socks to match this blue shirt!” (Yes, he has socks that match certain shirts. I like a well dressed toddler.)

He met my attempts with a defiant “NO!” complete with a dismissive swipe of the jeans and blue shirt, and instead opting for the mismatched attire of khaki pants and gray and black striped shirt. He did like the blue socks, so now he looked like a complete mismatch of items. Battle goes to: the toddler.

Pick your battles, I told myself. And although I sometimes like to tell me inner voice where she can go, this time I listened.

“Alright! Now let’s brush our hair!” The brushing of the teeth earlier had gone flawlessly. He was dressed. We had even put on shoes without a fight. But the brushing of the hair was deemed an unreasonable request.

“No, I like my hair to look crazy.”

It’s hard to reason the importance of looking presentable with a person who is 1) three years old and 2) ok with looking crazy.

“Mommy will do it very quickly and then we can eat breakfast! Would you like Trix or Lucky Charms?” We serve a gourmet breakfast around here.

“Trix!” That did the trick (pun intended), and my son was soon blissfully eating breakfast with combed hair.

Until he decided that he would like to watch a TV show.

“We don’t watch TV in the mornings. You can watch a show this afternoon.”

“But I want to watch a show right now! I am not going to eat my breakfast if there’s not a kid show on.”

“Then you will be very hungry. We never watch TV in the mornings because the mornings are time for getting ready for school. You have a few more minutes to eat breakfast and then we need to leave.”

This caused an eruption of behavior. He stomped around, yelled “no” repeatedly, and began to throw his toys. He repeated his ultimatum about not eating breakfast unless he could watch TV and ended it with, “That’s the deal!” After politely asking him not to throw toys and telling him that Mommy said no, we are not watching TV right now, I then had to give him a warning that if he didn’t stop, he would be going to time out.

Finally realizing that his tantrum was not working, he gave in and soon starting quietly eating cereal in the dining room while I worked on folding laundry. Battle winner: Mommy. He even carried his bowl to the sink without my asking.

And then, right as we were on our way out the door, he looked at me and asked, “Mommy, what are you doing in the grand scheme of things?”

What a vocabulary! What a question! Oh the shock, the puzzlement, the philosophical pondering!

You win this round, toddler. You win.

 

Long Days and Short Years

*I wrote this post sometime this summer. I am so terribly behind on blogging, but I wanted to share it with you today.*

These days are long.

These days like today, where this boy sent me on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from elated to exhausted to angry to proud to exasperated to in awe.

This boy who just today threw 3 temper tantrums, drank my Starbucks, opened and ate a watermelon in the middle of the grocery store, stuck modeling clay to his bedroom wall, stuck his penis through the hole of a CD, tracked poo throughout the house, dumped out an entire jumbo bag of cat food in the laundry room and then tried to put the cat in the bath.

Just today, I found myself apologizing to the grocery store cashier for the half eaten dripping watermelon he had to ring up so we could exit the store, and saying the phrases, “Please take your penis out of the CD.” “Why is there poo on your foot?” “How did this entire bag of cat food wind up on the floor?” “We do not put cats in baths.”

But on this same day, this boy said, “You are the beu-ti-est Mommy I eber seen.” And my heart smiled. Just today, this boy was thoughtful enough to pack a snack in his Daddy’s work bag and say, “Daddy, you can take this snack to work to share with your friends.” Just today, this boy and I shared a lovely evening walk.

Yes, these days are long.

But these years are short.

This boy will be three years old in September. In just three years he has changed dramatically from a helpless infant to a thoughtful, smart, challenging, adorable, child. He has formed complex thoughts and a personality all his own.

This boy has entered my life and it has been a whirlwind ever since. He has changed me completely, and my love for him at times is so intense that it feels overpowering. This boy has taught me more about life and love in the three years I have known him than I ever could have put together on my own. And I am so aware that my time with him is limited. It will not be long before his world expands beyond this one we have created together. It will not be long before he is old enough to make his own grocery store trips and buy his own Starbucks and take care of his own pets. It will not be long before Mommy and Daddy are no longer the center of his world and he is no longer my sweet little boy.

Yes, these years are short.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – unknown, but my favorite quote since becoming a mommy

What Do You Do All Day?

This afternoon, one of the neighborhood kids stopped by. She does that occasionally, and she is very nice and good with my son. Although her visits are always unplanned, I never mind them.

Today, as she was telling me about how her year is going so far in 5th grade, I mentioned that my little guy just started school, too. She said, “Oh no! Aren’t you lonely?”

I politely said, “No, it gives me time to get things done.” To which my son added, “Yeah, when I go to school Mommy eats and drinks and cleans.”

And then she said, “What do you do all day?”

I told her a brief overview of our schedule, saying, “Well, after we wake up I drop him off at school and then come home to do some cleaning. After I pick him up we eat lunch and have quiet time and then play outside for most of the afternoon. Then it’s time for dinner, bath, and bed.”

She just nodded but I kind of felt like I was being judged for not doing enough. By a 5th grader.

So, here’s the breakdown of what I actually did today. It’s probably going to be really long and boring, so you can stop reading now if you like. I guess I need to write it down as much for my own sense of accomplishment as for needing to tell the story.

8:00 AM: Wake up Noah. Brush his teeth, get him dressed, get him downstairs and set up with a cereal breakfast. Note that getting a toddler dressed is not as simple as “getting dressed.” It involves a lot of coaxing, hands on work, and sometimes bribery.

8:30 AM: Return back upstairs to get myself dressed. Which means throw on something somewhat presentable and put hair in a ponytail.

8:45 AM: Gather up all needed supplies and go out to car to put child in car seat. I had packed his snack and school bag the night before.

9:00 AM: Drop Noah off at school. Drive to Starbucks.

9:15 AM: Go to grocery store.

10:00 AM: Get gas.

10:30:AM: Return home, unload groceries. Do dishes, start a load of laundry, scoop the cat litter, straighten living room. Notice that the china cabinet is leaning a funny way and rearrange its contents.

10:55 AM: Head upstairs to do some cleaning. Which involved: putting away all toys, dusting all surfaces of Noah’s room, making up Noah’s bed (which takes forever), vacuuming his entire room including baseboards.

Then I moved on to the bathroom and since I was in an organizing mood I re-organized all of the upstairs bathroom cabinets including wiping them down, designating things to other places, and throwing things away. Then I dusted all bathroom surfaces and the upstairs hallway.

Moving on to our bedroom, I put all of the clothes in the closet, made up our bed, dusted, and vacuumed.

12:20 PM: Quickly run downstairs, grab keys, and go pick up my child.

12:35 PM: Arrive at school to an excited toddler and listen to his stories about school and soccer. Drive us home for lunch and to let him watch one episode of “Peep and Duck” while I also try to cram in lunch in between switching the laundry load, making Noah’s lunch, and sorting through his school bag.

1:20 PM: Read Corduroy to Noah. He requests, “Again, Mommy!” We read it 3 times.

2:00 PM: After 3 stories and much arguing from the toddler I finally get him to lay down for quiet time. (We are past napping.)

2:20 PM: Noah decides he is done with quiet time and jumps up to play. I reluctantly get up.

I’m not sure of the rest of the time-table for the afternoon, but at some point the mailman comes and we read the mail. We play with leftover yellow birthday balloons. (Yellow birthday party pics coming soon!) We line up magnets. We pretend to fix computers. We have a chasing session. We also go upstairs briefly to get a book (I thought) but instead the toddler sees what I have done to his room and promptly unmakes the bed and arranges his blankets into some kind of fort on the floor. Sigh. We cuddle. We laugh. We marvel at the size of my son’s poot and I wipe his bottom. We vacuum the living room and I switch laundry again.

Around 4:00 we have a snack and then decide to go outside. That is when we run into our neighbor and she comes over to play. She plays with us while we ride tricycles, take a neighborhood walk, swing, slide, and ride scooters.

5:30 PM: Neighbor leaves and we come inside for dinner. Except that transition results in a MAJOR tantrum screaming fit and we do not actually make it inside until 6:00. Ridiculous.

6:00PM: Toddler has a personality change and says, “I will be nice now, Mommy.” What the….?

6:30 PM: I serve a lovingly prepared meal of hotdogs and grapes (for Noah) and a Healthy Choice microwaveable meal (for me.) Cooking is not my thing. I also prepare my son’s snack for school tomorrow.

7:00 PM: I put the toddler in a bubble bath. We make “party decorations” with wash cloths and play with a toy shark and lizard. I wash his hair and we sing silly bath time songs.

After drying off and putting on pajamas we brush teeth and cuddle up in my bed to read Corduroy one more time. There is no trying to get him in his own bed on nights when Daddy isn’t home. We also read Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See and an Elmo book. We then get all snuggled up, I turn off the light, and my little guy drifts off to sleep.

8:00 PM: I leave the toddler and come to my computer to catch up on email, which involves a lot of correspondence I need to deal with for my new role of Parent Council Chair at my son’s preschool. I alternate between working on that, checking Facebook and Twitter, and trying to catch up on blogging (which I am terribly behind on.)

8:55 PM: The toddler wakes up. I comfort him and am able to return to the computer work after about 15 minutes.

9:30 PM: The toddler wakes up again and this time does not settle easily. After rocking, singing, and getting him water he finally drifts off into a deep sleep right before 10:oo.

Before I can settle at my computer again I go to let the cats in that have been left outside in the rain that just started. Oops. They are ok. Just a bit wet and mad.

Now, after 10:00 PM, I am finally hoping to get caught up on Parent Council emails, some blogging, and some social media. I hope to be asleep by midnight.

Of course, this isn’t the way it is everyday. There are some days when I clean other parts of the house or run other errands or go shopping. There are some days I pay bills or make house administrative phone calls or deal with some pressing paperwork issue. There are some days when I choose to actually take some me time while Noah is at school. After today, I am hoping tomorrow might be one of them! There are some days when my husband is around. There are some days Noah does not have school and we do play dates or go to parks or the children’s museum. There are also some days I actually get adult interaction.

But most days, this is a good description of my life. This is currently day 11 of no husband home to help. He is a medical resident and his current schedule is a stretch where his shortest shift is 12 hours, but most days it has been 16. Either way, it means he’s gone before we wake up and home after we are asleep.

I don’t mean this to be list of complaints. I love getting to spend so much time with my son. I love that I am able to have such a clean house. I love that I can go get Pumpkin Spice lattes. I love evening walks and cuddles with my little guy. But days like today are the perfect descriptor as to why my life is both elating and exhausting.

And that, my friends, is what I did all day.

How did you spend your day?

Coming Home With Croup

It’s official; my little boy has croup.

We have been incredibly lucky to have a healthy little boy who rarely gets sick. We have had our share of ER visits and one surgery, but very rarely does my little guy get a cold or a real illness.

Yesterday was a pretty lazy Sunday filled with building blocks, running a few errands, and some yard work. My son was his usual playful self.

Last night, he developed a bit of a runny nose. That’s really not a big deal, but for my son it is.

As the night progressed, he continued to become more and more congested. I was up with him multiple times and he woke up crying a few times. He was having trouble breathing, but my husband and I just passed it off as congestion.

This morning, my husband left for work early as usual, but something in the way my son was breathing would not let me settle back to sleep. He was wheezing, gasping for air in between breaths.

I didn’t want to wake him, so I let him sleep a bit while I texted and cancelled our morning playdate. Then I called the pediatrician’s office hoping to squeeze him in for an appointment at some point during the day.

While I was explaining things to the nurse, my son woke up and began the dreaded barking cough and was wheezing audibly enough for the nurse to hear him over the phone.

“Is that him?” she asked me in a bit of an astonished tone. When I said yes, she said, “Um, you don’t need to come in to the clinic. You need to go straight to the ER.”

In a multi-tasking move I’ve mastered since being a mother, I managed to get my son and myself dressed all while calling my husband. As I was packing up the last of my son’s bag my husband walked in the door from work and we all drove off to the ER.

Within forty-five minutes of walking into the hospital, we had a croup diagnosis, my son was given a dose of steroids and got to pick out a book, and we were on our way back to the car.

Croup is an upper-respiratory virus that constricts the airway. It causes children to have trouble breathing and have a very distinctive barking cough. It usually gets better during the day and is the worst at night. The steroid dose my son got at the hospital should help open his airway, and then at home we can sleep with a humidifier and try hot showers for the steam or taking him outside into cool air at night.

We have dealt with croup once before, on my son’s first birthday. It was a similar experience; difficulty breathing resulting in a trip to the ER, a steroid shot, and some long nights at home.

Watching my son have trouble getting air is such a scary feeling. And I know that feeling; that gasping; that helplessness. I had severe asthma when I was growing up that resulted in frequent illnesses and hospital stays. I always had to carry an emergency inhaler with me, had to take a preventative inhaler, and remember many childhood nights sitting on my parents’ bed doing my nightly nebulizer treatment.

Every day, I am so very thankful that my son is healthy. I really don’t know how my mom handled the stress and exhaustion of constantly taking care of me when I was always so severely sick.

Croup can be very scary, but I will gladly give up a week of sleep and playdates until he gets better.  And I remain so very thankful that these times of illness for my son are so very rare.

Who’s Embarrassed?

So last week there was a link up going around about how your child has embarrassed you. I missed it because A) I’m a master procrastinator and B) I was in a sappy mood. (This is why.)

But of course the primary reason that I wasn’t able to link up was that my child never embarrasses me. I mean, he’s just always so socially cuth.

Like the time he kicked a woman in the head during a Christmas Eve service at church. (It was an accident and the woman was super nice about it, but I’ve never gone back to that particular place. God knows where we live. And we usually don’t kick people in the head here.)

Or the time he very loudly discussed the fact that girls do not have penises at a local park.

Or the time we were walking in Target and passed a bra display where he loudly exclaimed, “Mommy, look! I never seen such beauty bras before!” It’s cool, I love for random Target patrons to know that all of my bras are old and ratty.

Or the other day, when we were just going to go grab hamburgers for dinner because I burned supper and the hubs is on nights run a quick errand so I left the house with my hair in a pony tail and no make up. As we were getting out of the car, my son looked at me and said, “Um, Mommy? You look scary. Maybe you should put on some make up.”

And of course, my favorite story is when my kiddo peed in the ice cream. Which was not in public, so maybe it wasn’t embarrassing, but it definitely ranks up there with outrageous kid stories.

See what I mean? My little dude is always so socially appropriate. I’m going to go hide under the covers now.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day!

Style Evolution

I just stumbled across this blog tutorial on how to do hair and make up and my first thought was, “This girl does not have kids.” It’s an adorable blog, with a lot of great tips, and I was memorized for hours a while, but who puts this kind of effort into their looks? Oh, women who are not mommies. And who have time. And who care about their appearance. Kind of like me, when I was 18.

I wish I could blame my lack of style and hair and makeup knowledge on being a busy mom and never having enough time, but that just wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, I lost my style long ago.

In high school, I was stylish. I was in the popular crowd, I knew what clothes were acceptable and what weren’t, and I even prided myself on never wearing the same outfit twice. I also spent hours doing my hair and make up, which involved a long routine of shower, blowdry, flat-iron, and curl. And of course, occasionally style up in some way, but only after completing the above process. My make up routine was equally involved with foundation, concealer (for what I don’t know…my 18 year old self would be appalled at my now nearly 30 skin) powder, blush, 3 different layers of eyeshadow, two different eyeliners, mascara, lip liner, lip gloss, and shimmery highlighting powder. Whoo, just writing that made me exhausted.

When I went to college, I discovered this horrible thing called the 8 am class. That meant I had to be up and ready to go by 7:15? Usually after staying up until wee hours the night before? That hair and make up routine got dropped pretty quickly. My college uniform quickly turned into jeans, a college t-shirt, a ponytail, mascara, and chapstick. I still knew how to get pretty for evening activities, but I never made any friends in classes. I was into sleep more than impressing co-eds.

After college graduation, I took my first job as a nanny. No need to dress up for a newborn, a 3-year-old , and a 5-year-old, right?

When I got my first teaching job, it was in a pre-school/day care environment where you could not wear jeans (oh no!) but you could wear scrubs or “professional sweat suits.” I don’t know what that means either. I took it to mean gray sweatpants, t-shirts and soaking wet hair ponytails, and got away with it. I am actually still terribly embarrassed that I went to work like that.

For many reasons, that job wasn’t a good fit, and I interviewed and got hired by a “real” school, a local public elementary school. There was a professional dress code here! You had to wear stuff like khakis and real shirts! (I also had things like a salary and benefits. I was a grown up!)  But I was still teaching Kindergarten. So my wardrobe became fitted with all things Old Navy and Target. Khakis and v-neck t-shirts people. Outfits of the stars. (Seriously. I think my class was the shining stars…or something like that.) I also upped my hair and make up routine by wearing my hair in a deep part, low side bun every day and actually wearing make up! But this time, the routine consisted of Bare Minerals foundation, mineral veil, eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss. So quick, so easy, and I looked so presentable every day! Amazing.

A year and a half  later, the stay at home mom gig started. I would go for DAYS without putting on a trace of make up. Or getting dressed. Or showering. Or touching my hair. Yes, my husband is a lucky, lucky man.  Fortunately, the baby didn’t care.

As I started to feel better and get back into the world, I realized that I honestly forgot how to do this. This body was different. This hair did not style the way it used to. This skin does not conceal! Seriously, having this baby changed EVERYTHING!

Slowly, I found my way back to the deep part low side bun ponytail. Bare Minerals saved my life. And I only had to invest a million dollars use a few resources to get back to a wardrobe I’m comfortable with. Which now involves jeans, v-neck t-shirts, and the occasional print blouse. I know, my style is so enviable.

I have also discovered that I need to keep my hair at a manageable length. Although I love my hair long and styled, long with a baby just meant daily ponytails. But too short also means daily styling, which just doesn’t work. So a medium length gives me the freedom for ponytails often, but also the capability for a down do every once in a while. I also learned to keep make up in the car. Parking lot mascara anyone? The toddler even knows to wait just a minute after we arrive at a destination so “Mommy put on make up and not look scary.” He’s a charmer.

So I am not the most put together mom, and even though the morning ritual of lets-fight-about-putting-on-socks-and-shoes definitely interferes with my make up time, having a toddler isn’t the only reason I’m not so put together. My style has just been a constant evolution. My adult life has been devoted to the caring of children; often in non-structured environments. And it’s just so hard to put forth the effort to get all done up when you just don’t have to. (And when you have little people yelling at you. Like right now. The toddler needs juice.)

I suppose it is something that will continue to evolve and change as my life does. But it kind of also looks like I just might not be as girly as I used to think I was. A style evolution and a personal revelation; who saw that coming?

So, my friends, do you have any style advice for me? As long as I can still do the pre-school drop off by sitting in my car with no bra and sweat pants, I would love to take you up on suggestions. :)