Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Current Goofy Phrases

You know how, when you're really cool, you quote phrases to show people that you've seen them and you're cool? Well, considering for me, I was quoting a lot of Monty Python Movies, I'm not sure I was cool as much as I was signalling to the other geeks that I was cool in their world.

Or maybe I was signalling to other dorks.  I never did know.

Well, the movies and TV shows I'm quoting from now all indicate that I am a complete loser, a parent of you children and not only do I watch their shows, I think they are funny.  In no real order, phrases that are commonly heard around our house.  And in my classes.

Curse you, tiny toilet!
I think it was the shlond poofa. (Correct spelling!)
Yes.  Yes, I am.  or No.  No, I'm not.  
Nanny McPhee, we need you!
Hello, Sweetie.  
Nervocited (which I am right now)
Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.
I done did dood that!!

And this is not a quote as much as a childish misunderstanding. We were peeling eggs and Christopher asked what something is.  "It's the membrane," I replied.  "Yes," Bridget added, "it's the memory brain so the egg can remember things."  I let them call it a memory brain for quite a while before I said membrane again.  Then they morphed into memberain and I hope it never changes.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On Not Second Guessing

The twins are doing GREAT in re-K (what we're calling this year of repeating Kindergarten).  They are going so well, that--I have to be honest--that I wonder if they should have gone on forward.

And then my wonderful, supportive friends (Julie, Carrie, lots of others), look at me and say "That is wonderful you made the right choice".

I don't know what first grade would have been like for them if we had let them go forward.  It could have been bad.  It could have been just fine.

But I do know that right now, Bridget and Christopher are starting to "get" reading.  Both Bridget and Christopher are having fun doing their math and love to show off printing their letters very, very well.  The teacher really and truly lets them be helpers when they are ahead of the game on some activities.  Bridget, in particular, LOVE LOVE LOVES helping the other kids when they are struggling with something.  She's really *helping* them with some writing or drawing challenge.

They are both blooming and they love school right now.

Who wouldn't love positive feedback on their performance?

My undergraduate motivation class spends a lot of time on how self-efficacy ("I can do this if I try hard enough") is one of the biggest predictors of effort and thus motivation and thus performance.

I really hope that this re-K gives my twinnies the belief that they can do it.  That they can master successfully the material with enough effort.

I can't help but to wonder about what would have happened had we sent them on to first grade.  Right now, it is literally unknowable if they would have succeeded.  ((That's really hard for a researcher to accept. I feel like I could know lots of different things by designing the right study))

But I do know that right now, they are doing great.  They are positive, they are succeeding and they are actually LEARNING what they didn't quite get last time.

I think I have to stop second guessing and go with what is empirically valid right now:  they are doing well and re-K is/was the right choice.

I might have to read this post a few times (re-k-read) to make sure it sinks in.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Camping Before I Forget

We had our family camping trip last week.  We started at an academic conference in Pittsburgh, PA, an amazingly beautiful city. Although the number of people smoking was shocking (and that's saying something coming from NC), it's definitely one of the top 10 cities I would live in.

Of course, our family trips end up having a theme.  We don't plan them, but frequently, something happens throughout our trips that we see a linkage over events that gives each trip a special flavor.

The theme for this trip was negative surprises at first that turn out ok.  Hmmmmm?  First night in Pittsburgh, I realized I had left my toiletries bag and Dave had left, um, his duffle bag with all his clothes.  Whoops.  While I went shopping and spent an ungodly amount of money to get the basics, our housesitter FedExed Dave's duffle to him.  ((Note to everyone: the cheap makeup I bought was fine.  But Ana's Potions, the serums, cleansers, and creams I use, cannot be replaced.  And are apparently the best part of my beauty regime)).

So um, yeah.

That theme continued when we arrived at the state park.  We love state parks.  We love the rustic beauty and the ability to let the kids safely roam and explore nature. When we arrived (an hour later than expected b/c Waze took us to hell and we could hear the Deliverance music playing), we did not see rustic nature.  We saw partying.  Young people with poor camping equipment partying in tent sites right on top of each other.  We found the most remote/private site we could and began to talk about leaving as quickly as we could.  That first night, two people got speeding tickets.  Someone nearly backed their boat off the hill over us.  And someone else knocked off the water spigot at the closest place for us to get fresh water.

Le Sigh.

And then, by 9 am Sunday morning, everyone was gone!!  No seriously.  EVERYONE.  We had our section of the campground completely to ourselves!!  The park superintendent told us that one night a week, this park is packed with party people (I added the alliteration) and the rest of the time it is deserted.  Yay for us!!

We found a path to the lake and evidence of a massive flood two weeks earlier. The point of this park is to keep Pittsburgh from flooding; so it floods when necessary.  We walked. We hiked.  We found the beach and swam.  We went to the nature center and flirted with the snakes and mouse.  We ended up happily staying there the whole time.

Of course, though, a theme is not just two events.  Any two points can make a line.  There were additional experiences that made this a memorable trip.  We decided to do a family kayak around the lake.  It was gorgeous and fun, the SECOND time we tried.  The first time, we were out for 10 minutes and it started thundering and the thunder came closer.  We turned around and paddled back as quickly as we could.  Bridget, in particular, was quite frightened.  We went back first thing the next morning and had a blast.  Thinking of getting family kayaks for around here.  ((For all the free time we don't have))

The final experience involved animals.  We are not camping novices.  We know about them there raccoons.  We were shocked that the first night, we didn't see evidence of a raccoon invasion.  Looking back, we believe it was because the raccoons had plenty to choose from and our camp wasn't appealing.

The OTHER nights, though.

The first night it wasn't party central, Dave heard noises and saw our cookies walking down the hill with a new bandit friend.  He was sad to lose the cookies but we've lost worse to more aggressive raccoons.  More humorous was the shout he heard 15 minutes later when one of the novice tent campers in the distance shouted "OH NO YOU DON'T!!!!" and commenced to chasing off these same raccoons from stealing their food.

The final night was definitely an adventure.  I woke with the coyote howled the first time. I woke Dave when the second coyote howled.  Yes, they were nowhere near us, but it's the first time I thought of how thin our tent is.  Then almost immediately we heard Mrawr, mrawr, mrawr, mrawr right outside our tent.

W. T. F.

Had the raccoons gone rabid?!?!?!?  Had the fox we seen earlier stopping by to look for treats!??! NO!!!

It was a small group of feral house cats.  In heat.  Deciding to look for love and enemies at our tent site!!  Two things come from the feral house cats.  One, a great new saying we use all the time.  Whenever we can work in the phrase "Yeah, but they are no feral house cats in heat" we do.  Second, apparently, the coyotes and the feral house cats in heat were enough excitement to permanently disrupt my sleep that night.  I ended up sleep crawling through the tent and shining a flash light and then trying to convince Dave that I saw a mountain lion sitting under our kitchen canopy.  By the time I woke up for good in the morning, I couldn't tell if the mountain lion was all a dream or real, but Dave assured me that there are no mountain lions in WVA and yes, I spent a good portion of the night trying to convince him otherwise.

All said and done, it was a great trip.  And we're going to the NC mountains next weekend to see the Perseids meteor shower!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy Happy Joy Joy

We received the letter from the twins' school yesterday:  the twins will be held back for Kindergarten.  I know I must be 1 in a million to be so happy and relieved about this news.  It was our first real fight for our children's future, but as Dave's cousin says, it won't be our last.  We have to pace ourselves.  Thank you all for your support on this big issue, which most of you probably wouldn't do.
It is true that we don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.  We appreciate your kindness and support.  Also, we kindly suggest you keep your summer babies out of kindergarten for an extra year.  Forgive me:  you know I'm a professor and I have to profess what I think I know.

Speaking of "kind," let's do the Christopher update, which is kind of working.  I say "Kind Of" because it is SO MUCH BETTER, but it is not perfect. Yesterday, in particular, sucked mightily.  You know why?  Guess which child refused to eat anything but fruit and carbohydrates all day long? No protein knowingly passed through his lips yesterday.  Can you say Blood Sugar Drop?  Dave suggests we live in a Snickers commercial.  Pretty much, this is a dramatic re-enactment of our house on carbohydrate days.

Um, yeah.

The good news is that Christopher willingly accepts going to his room for a minute or two to calm down.  Kazdin's big thing is that time outs should not be long.  Longer is not more effective.  For Christopher, honestly, just walking into his room and getting on his bed means he has accepted that he accepts our authority.  Dudes, that is a huge step forward.

Christopher no longer completely loses it multiple times a day. We have gotten better and quicker at "If you do this positive thing, you immediately earn that positive reward."  That's a good thing altogether. It really is just when he is tired and hungry.  And we don't run a short order kitchen, so what's to eat is what's to eat.

Also, Baby No (as he was referred to as soon as he could speak) will suddenly dislike his favorite food to "punish us," I assume for cooking it.  He once threatened to leave us to move in with a family that cooks food that he likes.  Had he been older, not at all sensitive, and I in any way didn't care about the repercussions,  I would have replied, "Be my guest."

So, all in all, we're doing better. I have to better at sneaking in protein, of which homemade yogurt shakes and peanut butter have tons and Baby No still likes them.

What I hate is that he is not getting pleasure out of these episodes.  He doesn't like himself when he is bad.  No kid does.  We all have to remember that.  He's not losing it because he likes it.  He's losing it because he's lost control and somehow we have learned to reward that behavior.

OH!  OH!  OHHHHHH!!!!  I forgot THE MOST important thing we've learned during this process.  It IS rewarding for him, even though it's negative attention.  The most powerful thing we can do is leave the room (or have him leave the room) for a few minutes.

The most impressive event was one night when he, Bridget and I were going to sleep and he had moved from his normal place, drawn a line in bed, and was kicking Bridget every time she got near it.  This was the end of  a 15 minute episode of bad behavior.  I remembered to leave.  So Bridget and I got up and went to her room so he could have the whole bed to himself. YOU WOULD THINK that he was thrilled we were gone.

But 5 to 10 minutes later, we heard a plaintive, "Mommy, would you please come back?!"

"Why, sure, honey!!" You *cannot* hold grudges with this method.

We came back, the bed was cleaned, he was in his right place, and he snuggled up hard to me as we all went to sleep.

It's the last time we've had that particular problem.

Happy happy joy joy, indeed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Knowing for real vs. conservative guessing

So everything is fine.

In fact, everything is so fine, we've stopped Bridget's antibiotics.

Based on worries and suggestions, we did call her pulminologist who ordered a chest x-ray.  At the same time, Bridget's temp went back down to normal, even though she said her ribs still hurt.  She isn't coughing.

This morning:  normal temp, no coughs, pain in throat only, and chest x-rays showed no pneumonia and only some chest wall thickening possibly due to a virus and her asthma reactions.

So, again, we stopped antibiotics.

So the summary:
*Pain in ribs and shoulder
*Low grade fever that disappeared and came back strong then left again
*Junky cough for only a few days
*Very good oxygen numbers.

It seems like a normal virus (except for the spike on Monday morning).  I know atelectasis can sometimes cause fever, but it's only done so once for us and that was in the worst hospital event.

We have no idea what caused her truly severe pain.  I'm taking it as a data point.  If she never has pain in her ribs again, then this was some weird funky thing.  But if she does, perhaps it is some new manifestation of her funky problems

I know in comparing risks of x-ray to the risks of un-needed antibiotics, people have differing opinions.  We know kids are way over-prescribed antibiotics and it has long term effects.  We don't hear of kids being over-prescribed x-rays and it's been over 2 years since her last one.  I have a feeling she'll end up back in the hospital at some point, and I'd rather save her sensitivity for antibiotics when she needs it.  Not just to be conservative because she has funky lungs.

So there.

Of course, Conor started running a low grade fever this morning.  Kit had it last week.  Apparently, it's going through our house.

And no one is seriously ill.  Thank the god(desse)s.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Same? Different? Squirrel-o-rama

So back from the second doctor's visit in two days.  Bridget has some pain in her "waist" (really, her ribs) when she breathes.  That's been going on for about 5 days, and it keeps switching sides. Also, she says when it's on  her right side, it also hurts her shoulder.

She had a low grade fever for about 24 hours, Friday to Saturday.  It went away and came back at 102.1* this morning.

First doc said she'd pulled a muscle and that's why her ribs hurt.  :-/

Second doc said today we could hear some depressed breathing in her lower right lung lobe.  (I'm sure "lung lobe" is not a correct phrase.  It sounds really odd to say:  Lung lobe.  Lung lobe. Lung lobe.  So I shall say it repeatedly) To be fair, yesterday Bridget said her left side hurt and today, she said her right.  First doc didn't spend any time at all on her right side because Bridget didn't say it hurt.

We're starting her on antibiotics in case the depressed lower lung lobe is antibiotics. LOWER LUNG LOBE, FTW!

I have to be honest with you:  Dave and I really feel like we've been here before.  Diagnosis of pneumonia that really is atelectasis and, well, things happen.  However, Dave and I are no longer novices with Bridget's lung lobes.

We've got a pulse oximeter and we know how to use it.  We have a top notch pulminologist who will be our next step, should her oxygen numbers start to go down. We have a pediatric team that knows she's funky.

The crummy part is that neither option is great here:  Bacterial pneumonia or virus-causing atelectasis. Yeah, at this point, pneumonia is the better choice.  I guess??


No one is naive here.  This may be the end of the diagnosis and we're done.  Or, we may be at the start of something.

Blergh again.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mondor's Disease: A Punny


I forgot the funniest part of spraining my boob, I mean, self-diagnosing with Mondor's disease.

When I first started searching google and explaining it to Dave, I kept saying Mordor's disease.  That will only make sense to you if you are a JRR Tolkein fan.

Mordor's Disease.




That means my boob is the Eye of Sauron!