Friday, February 25, 2011

And Then the Angels Sang

Yesterday we took Finn to the pediatrician finally to discuss the tic behavior he has been displaying the last few months. We waited first to get some video footage to show the doctor (hopefully you understand that I'd prefer not to upload it here), and then to find a time where M. and I could both be home for the appointment - it's been a busy time for us work-wise lately!

I actually considered cancelling the appointment, because Finn has not been doing the tic (ticking? I'm not sure what verb to use here) very much at all lately. But we went anyway, and I am really glad we did. It ended up being a very productive appointment.

When Finn's name was called to go back to an exam room, I actually left him with M. and went back by myself with our laptop, so that I could talk to the doctor first and show her the videos. We told Finn that he was at the doctor's office for a check up - I don't want to make a big deal about the tics in front of Finn, or to make him feel like there is something "wrong" with him - and I really didn't like the idea of talking about Finn in detail while he was sitting right there. So I went alone, and it really was for the best, though unfortunately it meant that M. didn't get to hear the discussion with the doctor.

I described the behaviors to her to refresh her memory (we had discussed it briefly once before during an appointment for Lucy), and she asked me a few questions: Is there a history of Tourette's Syndrome in the family? (not that I'm aware of, but some minor repetitive motion/muscle twitching in a couple of people) Is Finn anxious, depressed, sad? (sometimes anxious/hard on himself, but happy) Does he sleep well? (doesn't nap anymore AT ALL, but does sleep well at night) Etc.

Then I showed her two videos, and she found them very helpful and interesting. She agreed that the videos showed a motor tic - so we are not dealing with seizures, thank goodness. And she also said that the annoying noise he made for a while back in December was a vocal tic. The rest of the conversation was as I expected, given the reading I had done on this kind of thing already. She wanted to test his blood for Strep antibodies, because Strep infection can cause/exacerbate tics and other behaviors (called PANDAS, an acronym that is too long to define). I suspect that his test will be negative, though. And then she told me that she would refer us to a neurologist if this got to the point where treatment is needed (for the tics, not Strep - that is just treated by antibiotics). Typically treatment is only used in cases where tics interfere with a child's/person's life, because the medication used is similar/the same as how they treat ADHD - it contains a sedative. Not ideal. But a neurologist would be the one to see to find out all our options.

I'm hoping we never get to that point. Right now, these tics come and go - this, too, is very typical. And so far, they haven't interfered in Finn's life much at all. I'm not even sure the other kids at daycare ever noticed the two he's had so far, so beyond creating two worried/anxious parents, the effect on Finn's life has been negligible. The way forward will most likely simply be - nothing. We will do nothing. But I am so, so glad that we brought this to the doctor. She made several notes in his chart, so our concerns have been documented, should it ever become important in the future. And though I know this is selfish and not the point AT ALL, I feel validated and empowered as a parent, because I had REASONABLE concerns (rather than the "panic over nothing" I often feel I have when parenting and illness are combined) and I handled them sensitively and well with the doctor. Better yet, as far as Finn is aware, he is a perfectly healthy child (which he IS) who was a total rock star when his blood was drawn. Which he proudly described to his friends when he got back to school after the appointment.

And then, after an intense and exhausting-though-relatively-brief doctor's appointment, and the resulting attempt to cram 8+ hours of work into a 6 hour work day, my reward came:

It's so shiny! And clean! And shiny!

Look at all the space we have!

This is almost all the food that was cramming our old refrigerator (we did throw out a few questionable items rather than subject them to further sitting-and-rotting in the new fridge), and there is much, much room for more. Like, whole empty shelves room for more! I'm in love.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A REAL Holiday

Today was one of those magical, rare days - a holiday that M. and I both had off of work, but for which daycare was still open. Yes, that's right - it was a holiday from PARENTING. I'm certain that many parents chose to spend this day WITH their children, enjoying an extra day of togetherness. M. and I are not those parents. We hustled Finn and Lucy into daycare bright and early, and spent an entire day doing things we have been putting off because they are a pain in the ass to do with kids in tow. Namely, we shopped.

And we were quite successful at it, too. We started the day with a bang - bought a brand-new, bottom-freezer, french door, stainless steel refrigerator. Woot! Big sales and a tax-free weekend for energy saver appliances enticed us - that, and the inability to live with our disgusting, ancient, no-room-for-anything side-by-side refrigerator any longer. It arrives on Thursday, and now I am having trouble NOT seeing all the other things I'd like to change about my kitchen. Off-white, easily stained formica counter top. Linoleum floor. Cabinets with highly visible wood grain (a pet peeve of mine). An over-the-range microwave oven with a tippy door that will now be the only NON-stainless steel appliance in the room. Our shiny new fridge deserves a better home than this! But hey, one thing at a time, right?

We had breakfast and lunch out, we bought pants (M.) and shoes (me) and T-shirts (M.) and workout pants (me) and much-needed new underwear (also me). We actually walked around the mall and browsed through clothing racks and tried things on. It was wonderful.

The kids thought we were at work.

We did talk about them, at least. A little.

To make up for our utter lack of guilt in passing up an extra family day, here are some cute photos that can spark feelings of "aw" in the the grandparents and great-grandparents, taken over the weekend.

Finn gets High Five magazine every month (thanks, Mimi!), and this weekend he decided he wanted to make the recipe from the February issue - Happy Face Pizzas. He and I rolled out the dough and topped 4 mini pizzas for the whole family to enjoy. They came out great!

Finn ate at least half of his, including all the veggie toppings.

Lucy did pretty well, too (though I'm pretty sure she ignored the broccoli nose and red pepper mouth).

Finn refused to let me cut his pizza into slices, so he ended up wearing a fair amount of the sauce, too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Their little bodies seem to fit perfectly with mine, like a physical memory of the time when we shared the same space. I crave this contact - a soft body on my lap, a head on my shoulder, smooth round cheeks pressed against mine. Breathing in the scent of Child: warm hair, shampoo, the fading scent of ketchup from dinner.

I can't seem to stop touching them. I tell myself it's to make sure they know they are loved. But really, it is for me. *I* am the one who needs it.

For now, they tolerate my neediness. Sometimes they even seek me out, bestowing me, unasked, with sqeezy hugs and sloppy kisses. My heart fills, but my craving is never satisfied. Because I know this time is short lived. Soon enough, my lap will not be a space that is fought over, my kisses will be rebuffed, bedtime cuddling will be a thing of the past. It helps ease the inconvenience of Lucy's still-more-frequent-than-we'd-like nighttime wakings - the idea that eventually, she will not find comfort sleeping on me. Even as I sit in her room longing for my own warm bed, I revel in her little body draped on mine, breathing and sleeping and dreaming.

I miss these times already, though they aren't gone yet.

Withdrawal is going to be killer.

Monday, February 14, 2011

These Things Are In No Way Related

Yet another random assortment of thoughts and stories. In an ideal world, this would be a coherently crafted literary masterpiece, I suppose. But at least by numbering my paragraphs, I'm acknowledging that there is no transition possible that will make them the slightest bit cohesive.

1. In a cruel move toward solidifying her "non-baby" status, we forced Lucy to give up the pacifier this weekend. For no other reason than the theory that if we waited longer, it would be harder. And so far, it is going swimmingly. She asked for it once, before nap time on Saturday (she said nothing on Friday night, when we began the venture). I explained that pacifiers are for babies only, and Lucy is a big girl. There was a lot of reiterating "Baby paci" from Lucy, and my affirming response "Yes, paci's are for babies, Lucy is a big girl, no more paci's for Lucy." She seemed to accept it, as she hasn't mentioned it since. She needed to be rocked to sleep the first few times, but last night managed to get herself to sleep. There has been shockingly little angst and zero panicky build-up, and yet again I thank my lucky stars for my go-with-the-flow child. Who, for the record, I still call "Baby" every day.

2. For those interested, a quick update on my progress with Weight Watchers. I've been a member for just over two weeks now, and I've managed to lose 5 pounds. I am cautiously optimistic; if my weight were a monster truck, it would likely be called The Fluctuator (reference best understood by those well-acquainted with small boy children). Regardless, I know that I could be up again next time I step on the scale, but it's a two-week trend in the right direction. We'll see if it holds. I'm finding the program easier to work with now that I'm familiar with it, and the success I've had makes it easier not to go overboard with cheating. In fact, the way the plan works, I haven't actually had to "cheat" once. This includes the bottles of wine M. and I have split on occasion, and the two cannolis the family shared this past Saturday. The plan allows you to splurge - I just try to keep those splurges to the first half of my week, and not near each fateful weigh-in appointment. I think it also helps that I have been extremely busy at work lately - I'm too busy typing or running from meeting to meeting to snack constantly or consider chewing my arm off from hunger. My weakness is eating in front of the computer, and so far I have been able to exert some control over this habit.

3. Friday I was rear-ended on my way in to work. It was sucky in some respects - I was delayed an hour getting in to work, and now I have to deal with the hassle of getting the car repaired and getting reimbursed by someone else's insurance. On the other hand, there is less damage to the car than the last time I was rear-ended - which, by the way, involved the same car (of mine, anyway - thank goodness for my plastic Saturn), and the exact same spot (exiting the highway by work), about three and a half years ago. This time, I didn't have any children with me (the first time, I had an 11-month-old Finn with me), and the car that hit me was able to drive away(not the case the first time). The other bonus was less tangible, but better. I spent much of Thursday evening with the kids screaming my head off. It was like a runaway train that couldn't be stopped. They both did things that aggravated the crap out of me (ran out into the parking lot without me - they are fast!; Finn lied; Lucy threw shit on the ground during dinner; etc). None of it was a new challenge, but I lost my head - once I started yelling, I couldn't stop. And it carried over into Friday morning, where I called Finn a jerk for the way he talked to me, among other things. Not nice, even if it was true. (On a side note: Oh, the whining. When does it fracking stop? Ever?) I felt like a horrible mother, and by 7:45 am on Friday, I was already having a horrible day. Getting into a car accident helped me reset. It was like the day had taken such a turn that I couldn't help but have more patience, especially with my kids. It led us right into a pretty darn good weekend, assisted in great part by my lack of yelling and reserved stores of tolerance for repeating the same instructions over and over again. Which, once Finn began to respond to my improved attitude, I really didn't have to trot out after a while.

4. M. has just informed me that he is still unable to tell which one is Bert, and which one is Ernie. WTF? Everyone knows that Bert is the long thin one with the eyebrows (and the pigeon fixation), while Ernie is the short round one with a duck fetish.

5. Pictures, for the family:
Blue eyes

Winter 2011's Snowman

Some serious Angry Bird-playing going on here.

Lucy has taken to stealing the camera, turning it on, and taking pictures. Here, a self portrait.

M. and Finn work on some literary skills at the chalkboard.

The kids just started swim lessons again (after a 10-month hiatus). This time, they have to wear swim caps. I'm sure the swim school meant that the caps should be worn in the water, but in our house, they're much more of an "everyday accessory."

For both kids.

M. and Finn made wheat bread on Sunday, dragging our breadmaker wedding gift out of hibernation from the top of the refrigerator, where it had been living untouched for several months.

Finn greatly enjoyed monitoring how high the dough rose before cooking.

Lucy mugs for the camera.

Finn eats the fruit of his labor (on the couch, to the dismay of the couch. And me.).

Lucy demonstrates her undying affection for our demon cat Macy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I meant to sit down and blog at least 5 different times over the last week. I even did, once - wrote a couple hundred words about the strange things we say as parents, before I decided that the post was heading toward Crapville. If I was a better writer with a better memory for detail, I'm sure I could have pulled it off, but I just wasn't able to capture the intricacies and convolutions of pre-schooler speak. An excerpt, as the post is likely never to be published at this point:

On the way home from school yesterday, Finn explained how one of his classmates' mom came in to tell the class about her job. From this - "she does science and works with police officers to catch bad guys and showed us our finger wrinkles and then we dipped our fingers in chocolate syrup and dotted the paper" - I managed to deduce that the parent in question is a forensic scientist, and she tried teaching the kids about fingerprints (and had them make their own fingerprints using chocolate syrup).

What followed was a twisty-turny conversation regarding the criminal justice system that somehow ended with me advising Finn that no, it's not OK for policemen to shoot your pet. How we got there is still a bit of a mystery to me.

I also meant to tell you that I joined Weight Watchers this past Saturday. But the hunger kept consuming my thoughts to the point where nothing interesting could be blarfed out onto Blogger. Seriously, I have been hungry. Which you're not supposed to be, apparently - their program is supposed to be very "satisfying." But I'm still in the Learning How to Eat and Track Points Plus phase, so I have been conservative and perhaps erred a bit too much on the side of Foods Without Flavor. Because Flavor (usually) = Fat. So every meal I eat leaves me wanting to eat something else/more. I finally allowed myself to have a glass of wine tonight (well, two, actually), but I didn't enjoy it. MUCH. I kept thinking of the damned points. This will get easier, right? Right? I joined mainly because I completely failed at my attempt to diet by tracking calories (it just requires such COMMITMENT) and determined that I needed to be guilted into tracking my food intake by actually paying money and being forced to get on a scale, in front of PEOPLE, every week. And also because my sister has had amazing success with the program.

In other news, M. was out of town for a couple of nights. It's only really news because over the last year and a half he hasn't been traveling much for work. It really made me appreciate how much it helps to have him around in the morning, even though he leaves for an early train about 20 minutes before the kids and I get out of the house (most days). He usually stays long enough to help dress one kid and get them both downstairs. Corraling these two kids into clothes, making Finn pee, making both kids brush their teeth, feeding them each a snack, chasing them down to put on coats and shoes... probably falls under the "no shit" category, but it is infinitely easier with two ringmasters. Especially since Lucy delights in doing the exact opposite of everything I ask of her (for example, running away when I ask her to come over to me to get in her coat). And Finn, while he doesn't do the opposite, argues and argues and argues. I kid you not, in the morning, his voice is made of pure whine. WHINE. The kid is a class A grump when he wakes up, always has been. M. claims that he gets this from me. Though in my defense, I usually get up from bed much more easily then M. does. I just don't have appreciation for any kind of humor or flirty behavior AT ALL. Who wants to get handsy at 6 am before they've even had coffee, forgodssake?

Where was I? Oh, yes, M. was out of town. And though I was out of practice, it was fine. I remember how panicky I used to feel when Finn was a wee babe, and then when Lucy was a baby (and with good reason, there were some traumatic solo parenting experiences, all of which involved a reflux-y baby), and now it's all just FINE. I wasn't the slightest bit worried, even though I was on my own starting at around 2 pm on Sunday (the dreaded single parenting on a weekend when there is no DAYCARE!). Yes, things took a little longer, occasionally I yelled a little more, but we did fine. I cooked actual meals, and gave baths, and handled a 12 am wake up, and we all got to school and work at appropriate times. I even took both kids out in the snow on Sunday to go sledding by myself - wrangled them both into their snow gear and pulled their collective 65-pound weight all over the damned place in our blue plastic sled. And though I felt at times as though I might keel over from the exertion, we all had fun. Success!

And now M. is back, despite dire weather situations practically everywhere (yay!). And I am off to bed, lest I find myself idle and fixated on what kind of stupid diet food I will eat during this Sunday's Super Bowl. Oh pizza, I miss you!