Wednesday, December 05, 2012

My Butt

Now that's an attention grabbing title, amiright?

Yes, well, it's been eventful around here and much of my attention has been focused on shrinking my booty.  After the twins started eating real food in real amounts and breastfeeding, oh, 2 years ago, I put on some serious Ell Bees.  (Think about that for a second and it will make sense)  Apparently, I could eat everything I want and weigh a normal amount while bfing twins, but when they stopped, I just kept eating.  Not a good idea to keep one's weight under control.

I ended up putting on 15 lbs in about 3 months.  And it aged me about 10 years.

I tried losing some of the weight with weight watchers and exercising sporadically, but it did not work.  What did work was Bridget sleeping through the night (and no longer wailing for me anytime I left the bed).  This allowed me to start regularly exercising in the early morning.  YAY!  And I also started tracking my calorie consumption through LiveStrong.Com.  Yay.  I actually LOVE LiveStrong because it has a great database of foods and so far, everything I've entered has been on it.  But, you know, yay.  I'm eating less food and drinking little wine.  Woo. Hoo.  But I'm losing weight, so Yay!!

NONETHELESS, (and it's not a blog story until there is a "nonetheless"), I have been surprised during the last three months about some folks' reaction.

First, there were quite a few  "Well, good for you!!!!!" reactions when I shared I was starting to run again.  And yes, they did use all those exclamation points.  For the folks who knew me BC (Before Conor), I was a very athletic, very thin woman.  Very athletic in that I ran lots of marathons and even placed or won my age group in 5K races.  Very thin in that at one point, my friends staged an intervention because they were concerned that I had an eating disorder.  I did not, but I was too thin at that point.  And even for years and years and years after that, I was still reasonably on the thin side.  

But most of these folks have only known me after I'd become a mom and many of them after I'd had the twins, and, well, when my pants fit better when I put them on backwards.  It was just surprising to me how surprised they were that I could possibly even consider running and losing weight. (Especially since when I was in shape, I would have been able to run their sorry asses down and smack them in the head)  More politely, I kept wondering how they could not see the skinny girl trapped inside this overly jiggly body. 

And the skinny girl is still not free.  I have 15 more Ell Bees to go until she can shake free of these bonds.  And I really don't have any plans to lose the 25 or the 35 more Ell Bees to get to my VERY skinny state.  It's too much work, and I'm pretty sure I'd still be dealing a great deal of twin skin that's flapping around my midsection and I don't have the money to have that removed.  

But I'm running.  And I love it.  I was athletic for all of my life BC.  So I'm back to doing what makes me very happy.  My pace is pathetic, but I don't really care.  I'm able to get an hour run in at 5:30 in the morning.  I'm having a hard time getting in long runs; based on Dave and I dividing morning responsibilities, I'm doing my long runs on Friday mornings.  And even starting at 5:00, I can only get 1.5 hours in before I need to be back helping the kids get ready for school.  And while, BC, 1.5 hours would have been close to 10 miles, let's just say it's not now. And I don't really want to get up at 4:00 in the morning to get a 10 mile run in on a Friday.  So, maybe I'll do two 1.5 hour runs during the week?  THINK OF ALL THE FOOD I COULD EAT!!!

Ahem.  Anyhoo....

I've still got a ways to go, but I am glad to be back to where I was and I hope to be back to where I was before in a couple of more months.  And I'm definitely glad to see less of my butt.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Camping Bug

So we were bitten by the camping bug this weekend, and, fortunately, that is not literal statement.

The odd thing is that this wasn't a "perfect" camping weekend:  Dave and I were dehydrated Friday night (a bit too much wine and WAY too little water; I see why beer is the preferred camping drinky-pooh) and a couple of pretty big storms on Saturday night/Sunday morning should have made us less enthusiastic about camping.

But that is not what happened.  Instead, we spent most of Sunday night searching for tents and camp cooking supplies.  Check our Amazon wish lists, should you want to contribute to our new family hobby.

So why so much fun?  Well, the kids were crazy excited.  And they are way into nut collecting now, so at one point there were 100 nuts stored in our borrowed tent's mesh pockets.  And there was a big rock by our campsite that Conor immediately climbed and didn't come down until he had to go to bed.

My brother and sister-in-law came with us and served as camp mentors (otherwise, I would have had no idea about heating the water on the camp stove to wash dishes).  There was also the 8 year old twin boys with whom Conor became best buds and constantly stalked us over the big rock.

There was the day trip to the zoo in which we fed the giraffes, a pretty dadgum amazing experience.

There was the fire and the roasting of hot dogs and s'mores.

And then there was the storm.

Just a few things here.  First, and accuweather?  If you think what happened Saturday night was a 30% chance of .04 inches of rain (respectively), we need to review probabilities and measurement.  My brother kept citing the NOAA prediction, which I pooh-poohed.  When from about 12 to 1, it began to rain steadily and with vigor, I realized the sky was pooh-poohing on me.  We stayed dry, though, until 1ish, when the rain started coming down hard.  Water started spritzing into the tent. Occasionally, a big drop would plop on our heads, but it was mostly just spritzing in the tent.

Dave and I debated spending the rest of the night in the car. Then I remembered my cell phone and checked the radar. We were at the end of the storm and there was nothing anywhere between us and Nashville.  OK, I thought.  A few more minutes and we'll be fine for 6 or 7 hours, if that storm even comes over the mountains. We waited a few minutes, the rain stopped, and all was fine. As I was falling asleep, I started doing a little math, because that is what I do, and realized that the next round of rain, should it come, would arrive around breakfast. Fine....zzzz..zzz.zzz.zz.

When I woke up at 6:50 everything was still fine.  Dawn was starting to break, and it was brisk but we were all warm in our sleeping bags.  I thought, well, hey, let me go ahead and check the radar to see if that storm is anywhere close.

And that's when I saw an enormous swath of red and yellow just to the west of us and heading east.

"DAVID!!! We've got ONE HOUR, and then we're going to get a BIG ASS STORM! EVERYBODY UP!"

I ran down to tell my brother and SIL, and then headed back to our camp to bug out. (That's a phrase that we campers use that means pack up and get the heck out of dodge) That's, of course, when the whining began.  The kids didn't want to get out of their warm sleeping bags to get dressed.  Blah, blah, blah blah-dee blah.  After so many years, it's not effective.

It's not effective, that is, until one hears one's spouse say "Oh, Conor!  Oh, no!!"

Conor wasn't just cold:  Conor was sopping wet.  While the rest of us had just been spritzed with water, he had been soaked.  Apparently the rain fly had just directed all the water through some seam and onto our son.  His clothes were so wet, he might was well had been standing out in the rain storm.  And he had slept that way for 6 hours in 50 degree temperature.

Shitty parents of the year award!  We win!!

We still had to convince him to take off his wet clothes in the cold and put on dry ones and that took entirely more time and energy than it should have. But fine.  We got him taken care of, got the rest of the family taken care of and, with the help of the rest of the adults, got the gear stored mostly neatly in all the right places.

Dave put the last thing, the tent, into the back of the van, got into the driver's seat.  "I just felt a raindrop," he said. And indeed, by the time we pulled the van out of the camp site, it started raining. And by the time we pulled out of the campground, it was crazy raining. 1 hour and 10 minutes after I checked the radar, we packed up and that big ass storm started.

Maybe it was all that drama at the end, but we were cheering and hooting as we pulled out of camp.

So, uh, yeah. That is apparently what my family thinks is fun.  We cannot wait to do it again. Chickens. Camping. Craziness and fun.  That is apparently how we roll.

Monday, October 01, 2012


I saw a friend over the weekend and we were talking about how well written Julia's blog Here Be Hippogriffs is. I particularly like how she can come up with a turn of a phrase which is unique but right on what she is trying to explain. "Yes," my friend pointed out, "she spends a lot of time on her writing and working on her craft."

Alas, I do not have that time.

I would love to spend hours on each blog post.  Or, actually, I would love to live a life in which I had a couple of extra hours a day to spend crafting an informative and witty blog post that would thrill and inform my readers.  As someone who has recently started running at 5:30 am (again) I am fully aware that we choose to spend time on what we want to do.  And it's obvious, I don't spend time on cleaning my house and probably spend too much time on facebook.

Nonetheless, I don't have enough time to write as much and as well as I'd like here.

What I NEED, however, from this blog, is a space to work through pressing issues in my brain so I can process them, get them out, and move on.  Indeed, I want to work through my evolving feelings about my body, now that I'm done with childbearing, but have an extra 15 to 25 lbs on me.  (The difference depends on how ambitious or pitiful I'm feeling in my goals at any one time)  I want to work through the fact that our house IS A MESS, and I cannot figure out how to keep the mudroom clean (ironically!) much less the rest of the house.  The mudroom is the goal because it's the smallest room in the house.  I can't even keep the extra shoes picked up off the floor in there.  There's lots evolving in our lives and that has been what I've been cogitating on for this blog post.

And then, Christopher went ahead and finally got his diagnosis of asthma, and I'm sort of cogitating on that.  We've known it's been coming.  As I pointed out to Dave, when Christopher got his first respiratory illness around 7 months old or so and was suffering from massive eczema, asthma started coming up.  (But the doctor said he was too young to have allergies, blahda blahda blah, yeah I was right).  Then last winter's horrible RSV hospitalization, all the docs and nurses kept saying, "You're on the path to asthma."  And I'm pretty sure there were a couple of other pneumonias and ear infections in there in which folks kept saying "Asthma, meet Christopher.  Christopher, meet Asthma."

And thank goodness for friends and colleagues as well as relatives who have been with us down this path and have let us know what to expect.

I'm actually not really feeling anything right now.  I don't know if I'm supposed to be upset or neutral.  I'm glad we FINALLY got a sheet from the doctor about what to do with asthma (green light, yellow light, red light) and have a referral to a pulmonologist.  (Really?  Blogger spell check wants to change pullmonologist to Kremlinologist? Really?) I'm also reassured that the doctor said I was intuitively doing the right thing before I even got my green/yellow/red state check list.  (We were in a Yellow State)

I think we finally got the diagnosis today because there is no other underlying reason for Christopher's wheezing.  He doesn't have a virus-that-has-progressed-into-lung-funk, pneumonia or RSV.  The wheezing seems to be pretty independent of anything else.

And people, here is one thing you really need to know about lung sounds and when to worry:

If you hear gurgling/funky sounds when a child breathes,

1) If it's when s/he begins to exhale, it's probably snot and there's nothing you can do.
2) If it's at the END of the exhale, it is wheezing and you need to do something.

The first gurgling sound is the louder one and sounds awful.  But it's the last one, sometimes quite soft, that's the bad one.

Anyhoo.  He's sleeping now and I had a few free minutes.  I can think about this and think about this.  Or I can get it out and move on to doing what I really need to do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I didn't know I had a hole in my heart until a flock of chickens filled it.

I love everything about these birds!  I love how they grew way too quickly from chicks to gangly teenagers.  I love their coop that Dave built and which we have painted to match our house. I love going to Renfrow Hardware in Matthews and getting chicken advice from the real farmers.

I love how the chickens put themselves to bed at night by going into their coop. I love how they still cuddle together in a corner of the coop when they sleep instead of roosting (which I hope they do eventually).

I love how we have (hopefully) finally figured out how to let them be Free Range and still protect them from the local hawks. I love how they explore and peck the backyard as a group.  I even love when Buffy gets distracted by something shiny, and when she notices the flock has moved away from her, she runs and jumps and half flies so she can catch them. I love how it still shocks me to see a multi-colored, speckled flock of birds in the rain garden, under the shrubs or meandering through the sweet potato vines. They are truly beautiful. I even love that they climb on our back porch and peer in our glass door to see what we are doing.

I love how they get excited when they see me walking towards them when they are in their run/pen and how they run towards me when I come outside and they are out exploring the yard. I love how they chase and eat crickets as if they are on a mission. I love how they eat nearly all our table scraps.  This is the stuff we would normally throw away, but now goes to the chickens to eventually feed us again as eggs.

I love how our children all have their favorite chickens and that neighbors will just stop on by to see how to see how they are doing. I love how the neighbor's dog has adopted them and how he sits at the fence by their coop, patiently and calmly watching them.  I love how Patches knows they are part of our herd and doesn't try to hurt them.  Try to herd them?  Yes.

And I love being on Egg Watch 2012.   I love that today, Angel, the Rhode Island Red, laid a beautiful speckled egg, which was her first.

 I really and truly love these chickens.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The events described in this blog were experienced, relived, and written about with a great deal of hand flapping and use of the phrase OOOOOOMMMMMGGGGG.

Please consider this your fair warning that should you continue reading this entry, you, too, may start hand flapping and saying OOOOOOMMMMMMGGGGGG.

Still reading?

Are you sure?

Cause here we go.  Seriously, turn away.


Conor walked in on Dave and me.

(((Hand flapping)))

NO, we didn't have the door locked but in our defense it was only 10:00 at night and everyone had theoretically been asleep for a while.

(((Hand flapping)))

So, do you remember that episode of Modern Family when something similar happened?  Do you remember the debate between Claire and Phil about whether they should talk about it or just ignore it?  Well, I'd suggest that is based on real life.

Pretty soon after our initial PARENTING FAIL, I checked on Conor to make sure he was not actively gouging his eyes out.  He was ok and not obviously traumatized, so we went to bed.

I had a restless night of nightmares in which I'm pretty sure I flapped my hands.  Yes, I know it's not completely unusual for something like that to happen in other families.  But NO ONE recounts their own personal episode to their friends as young adults in college without some horror and psychic wounds.

So the next day, I had to work and Dave stayed home with the kids.  (Have I shared how the twins are out of daycare this summer and we are cobbling together nannies and camps to make it until our new daycare opens?  No?  Well, let that be one excuse for why I haven't posted this summer)

So when I got home, I asked Dave if he had talked to Conor.  "NO!" he replied, his Midwestern preference for denying any issues showing through. (Maybe it's a dude thing--or just my dude's thing--instead of the  Midwest, but I'm going to attribute it to an entire regional culture and annoy everyone else instead)

So, I waited until Dave took the twins up to bed and Conor and I were watching some movie on Family TV.  For some reason, that feels more wholesome, whereas not much of this story does.

"So, Conor, how are you doing?  Are you ok?"


"Last night, I was really embarrassed.  That was awkward!"


"Are you ok?  Do you want to talk about it?"


"Are you going to have more babies?"

(((HAND FLAPPING.  Although I am proud that he knows where babies come from.  Nonetheless, HAND FLAPPING!!!)))

"No.  It's just that Mommies and Daddies do that sometimes."

"Ugh!  I'm not ever going to do that!"

"Oh, you will Conor, when you get older."

"Are you going to do that again tonight?"


"No. But next time, we're going to shut the door and lock it.  We forgot to do that.  And it was embarrassing.  We're going to lock the door next time."

"Yeah, good."

(((Slight hand fluttering)))

"Ok, honey."

And then we watched the rest of the Family movie and snuggled because (I think) he was reassured we were not complete freaks and I was reassured he wasn't going to be irretrievably scarred by the whole event.

So there.  Now you, too, have events, images, and conversations seared into your own brains. I know we didn't HAVE to talk about it afterwards, but I think we should have, pretty much exactly as we did.

Still.  LOCK YOUR DOORS, PEOPLE!  That is the lesson we should all take away here.  Prevention is the best cure!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All Aboard!

One of the fun things about having the kidlets is the new words they invent or misspeak.  As a psychologist who studies groups, it's a naturally developing, fun way to reinforce our family culture:  we have words for things that other families don't.  For example, growing up in my family, a jergle was what we called a shiver, like when "someone walks over your grave."

And, I must be honest, since our firstborn was a child of few words, the twins are coming up with a lot of the colorful new words.

They like to eat doodles for dinner and yo yo for dessert, especially the drinky and the squeezy kinds.  If they are really lucky, they will sometimes get mac-n-cheese from Jingle Bells.  And I can make some pretty good handyburgs on the grill.

They fight over who gets to play games on the patio.  Hint:  It's me.

Bridget did not like it at all when her brudder was in the house to spit.  Nor did she like it when we laughed at her pronunciation.  So she got changed what she said to "House spittle."

Recently, Bridget received a ponycorn from one of our neighbors.  Here is Conor breaking its neck.

Luckily, Daddy was able to glue it back together.  (What makes more sense when you are 2 1/2, really?  Ponycorn or unicorn?  I like ponycorn much better)

There is a phrase, though, that should you be aware of.  I mentioned a few months ago that when our children pass gas, instead of excusing themselves like normal, polite children, they proudly shout out "I tooted!!"  (Sometimes, this is less endearing than you might imagine, such as when Christopher twirled around and kept repeating it in the checkout line of Trader Joe's)

Well, the phrase has evolved.  One morning, while we were all snuggling in bed, someone tooted.  Christopher then said, "All Aboard!  Toot! Toot!" a phrase from the book Maisy's Train.  Those of us snuggling in the bed found that quite funny and our family phrase therefore evolved (language-wise, yes.  Maturity?  No).  Now, we call out,  as needed, "All Aboard!!" and identify who the conductor is.

Why might this involve you?  Well, after a close call in a public location, perhaps, say a church, we have decided that if any member of the family at any occasion warns the others with "All Aboard," it is time to hustle to a new location.  I realize that we are the only family in the world that has gas. None of the rest of you would ever do such a vulgar thing. But it's part of our family culture and due to the fact that we do enjoy our vegetables.  So you are fairly warned.  Should you hear a conductor calling for everyone to board the train, you should consider getting a move on yourself.

As Christopher would tell you, "My do it!"

Friday, May 04, 2012

Life On The Farm

Dave: "You know, we purposefully bought a house in the city."

Me:  "Yes."

Dave: "And then we turned it into a farm."

Me:  "Yes.  Yes, indeed."

Dave made this comment while he was working on our new chicken coop.  Yes, a chicken coop.  For these chicks that we got in the mail.

who have grown into these "teenaged" chicks.

We are pretty dadgummed excited about our chickens.  (When you live on a farm, you used words like "dadgummed;" it doesn't matter how many advanced degrees you have.)

And I find it very amusing that the same chick who is about to hop out of the box at two days old is the same the same one about to walk through the open door at 4 weeks of age.  I study individual behavior in  groups and influenced by the environment, but I have to admit that some traits are in-born, even in chickens.

So let me introduce our chickens:  the black one with the white spots on her head in both the box and the crate is Spike.  She is an Australorp.  The fluffy light one near her in the box is Buffy.  She is a Buff Orpington, and the inspiration for the the theme of most of their names.  Angel, who is a Rhode Island Red, is beside Buffy in the box and behind Spike in the crate.  Willow is not easily seen in either picture, but is a silver laced wyandotte.  Bunny is the light one beside Spike in the crate, and she is an Ameircauna and will lay blue and green eggs (deviating slightly from the Vampire Slayer theme, although wasn't Anya afraid of bunnies?).  Our final chicken is named Minky.  She is a  speckled Sussex (I think).  Her name comes from what Bridget calls her binky/pacifier. And although we cannot in any reasonable way make a Buffy connection to that, I'm just going to go ahead and say that Bridget is the next generation's slayer, so there.

I whole heartedly recommend that everyone gets chickens.  They eat nearly everything, thus making composting (for the urban farm!) a lot quicker.  The kids love them and they love the kids. Conor likes to put them in his cars and trucks and they apparently like it, too.  They (both Conor and the chickens) only get spooked when I walk in and "catch" them playing with each other.  So not only they have personalities, they have different norms of behavior for interacting with different people?  Really??

No, we are not going to eat them.  But we are going to eat their eggs, which they should start laying in August.

What a hoot.  What a crazy life to have this little piece of land in the city of Charl0tte and do so many crazy things on it.

Friday, April 06, 2012

How to Frost Cupcakes Like Someone Who Used A Pro's Advice

So, next in the series of DIY projects are some cupcakes I made for Dave's work.  Folks at Dave's job have been working their booties off for the last 6 months and he wanted to give them a little thanks.  (Like most organizations, an actual raise is out of the question)

So I followed this woman's recipes and advice for cupcakes, icing and how to ice them.

I often find that advice on the web for cooking (especially) is more assvice.  Nonetheless, I think this woman's site on cupcakes is fantastic.  The recipes are easy and delicious and there is even a video on icing the cupcakes!  Yes, you do need some special equipment (icing bags and frosting tips), but she even gives good hints on how to use them.

Here is my version.  Two things:  1) yes, there is room for improvement on my part, but considering this was the first time I've done it, they turned out great (some of mine do look like poop, and none of hers do).  2)  I need to figure out a better way to photograph my projects.   I could not get a good picture of these and they looked much better in real-life than this picture.  Suggestions welcome.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The First Garment I've Knit

It is "knitted" or just "knit?"  I don't know.  In any case, I made this!!

The pattern came from this one on Ravelry.

Mistakes were made (on my part) and I think that I knit too tightly.  Nonetheless, I think that this one came out well.  I'd say this DIY was a success.  It's one of those things where I say if *I* can do it, anyone can.

Fashion for The Rest of Us

I submitted this column to the Charlotte Observer for consideration for their Guest Fashion column.  It hasn't shown up, so I'm thinking it was rejected.  It's not a surprise for a variety of reasons, the main one being this is an anti-fashion column.


I walked back to the front desk to tell my friends good-bye.  One said, “Your former student?  The one from 10 years ago?  She held up her pinky finger and said that you used to look like this!  And you were Ms. Corporate America that first year you were teaching at UNC Charlotte.”  We all laughed. But I let out an inward sigh.

When I moved here 10 years ago, I was very thin and in shape, running marathons and eating all I wanted because all I wanted was healthy food.  I was not yet married and not yet a mother.  I loved dressing in nice clothes because I had the money and the body to do so.

Then I became a mother and learned about sleep deprivation and crack-of-dawn nursing.  I apologized to all my working mother friends for wondering why they couldn’t find time for a 3-hour run at 5 am on Saturday. And then we had our twins.  And I wonder why we didn’t recognize all that time, money and sleep that we actually had with just one child.

So when my former student commented on my former body and former fashion style, it reminds me that it used to be a lot easier to look nice.  After the twins, my body took a completely unrecognizable shape.  Let’s just say that I am pretty sure my pre-twin pants fit better if I put them on backwards.  Yesterday, my new fancy scale, which provides information about muscle mass and bone density in addition to my weight, just called me fat. 

But it’s more than that.  My fashion choices have devolved into two: 1) Try To Be Fashionable or 2) Try Not To Be Naked.  Occasionally, the right clothes are clean at the same time in my closet and I have an opportunity to fiddle with the accessories. I can meet Fashion Choice 1. But most of the time, I just try to find some pants that that I haven’t worn twice already in the last week and a top that doesn’t have too many stains on it. My one accessory is my trusty athletic watch that serves as an alarm clock instead of a run chronometer. I have met my fashion goals for the day.  I just have to convince the rest of society that at some points in life, Fashion Choice 2 is also valid. 

Friday, March 09, 2012

Spring Cleaning

People have asked me how I can work full time, be a mother, garden, knit, geek, and whatever else it is I do with my days.

Do you know what my answer is?

It's easy.

Do you know why?

I don't clean my house.

And by that, I don't mean that I have a housekeeper come by every two weeks.  With no raises for Dave and me for the last 4 years and the addition of two children in daycare and a minivan payment to a budget that was barely making it before, we cut back on our housekeeper. (Not that I am complaining too much--there are folks who have it much worse than we do; we're just going to pay for 10 years for the daycare that kids 5 years of  daycare expenses)

Anyhoooooo, no housekeeper.  What I mean when I say I don't clean is that well, our house is usually very messy.  We clean for guests--one of the reasons we have parties!--but on a Saturday morning if I have a choice of scrubbing the toilet and tub or getting sweaty and dirty in the garden, I am going to opt for the garden.

That doesn't mean that a dirty house doesn't freak me out.  I have enough OCD in me to not like the clutter and mess and dirt and unfiled bills and toddler clothes to be sold and shoes on the floor and papers to recycle and magazines to read and blankets from a fort and the teepee from two Christmases ago and the toys scattered about and general crap that a family of 5 makes. But if I have to make a choice, I'd rather go outside and enjoy the natural untidy-ness of Mother Nature. (I never got the Mother Clean genes)

So last week, the Charlotte Observer had an article about Spring cleaning and dusting all the places at the top of the room you don't during the year and moving all the furniture around to sweep out from under it, etc, etc.  It inspired me.  We haven't deep cleaned the house since we moved in and although I don't have the time to do this sort of cleaning, I took it anyway.  Of course, they also suggested that the rooms you spring clean not have clutter.

HA!  I did it all at once.

And it's so nice.  I've re-organized poorly organized storage.  I've tossed old toys.  (WOOOOOHOOOOHOOOOHOOOHOO!)  I've made a huge pile for our garage sale.  I've moved nearly all the kid crap out to the office-now-playroom.  (They can keep a few toys inside.  A. Few.)  I've cleaned off crap, dusted high and low, and made executive decisions about what we need and what is just taking up space.  Don't tell Dave.

I realized that I like it.  I actually love a clean house.  It is comforting to me to walk in and see open spaces and neatly arranged counters and shelves without crap everywhere.  It feels like beauty.  I think it is beauty. And I think it helps clean and clear my mind.

We hope it lasts for a while.  Even Conor walked in after school one day and said "WOW!  This room looks BEAUTiful!  You tell me what you need me to do and I'll do it!"  Even Dave is picking up his shoes and putting them in their New Special Place.  (Everything has as Special Place.  That's the only way I can do it)

Maybe the house cleaning will only last a week in this tip top shape.  But I'm hoping my brain cleansing will last a little longer.

How do you do it?  How do you keep your house clean either as a SAHM or a working mom?  Am I just that lame?  Well, don't answer that third question.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


OMG.  Are you on Pinterest?  Follow me and I'll follow you back.  I LOVE that site.  All these great ideas of crafts for me to do, activities for the kids to do, ideas for gardening and decorating the home, great recipes to cook.  I feel so creative and cool when I pinning links to my boards of activities I will do to make my life more beautiful and organized.

But I have to be honest with you.  It is a fundamental characteristic of mine that I HATE clutter anywhere.  And the idea of just collecting and collecting anything without using them drives me up the freakin' wall.  (T-shirts, Dave Dougherty.  I am looking at you)  I can't stand wasting anything.  And collecting without consuming makes me crazy.

So I only want to collect things on Pinterest that I really want to do. However, it is crazily easy to just collect and collect (recipes, crafts, gardening ideas) to a level that one cannot possibly do.

So my goal is to do the crafts and cook the recipes and use the ideas that I gather on Pinterest, and document it here.  The problem is that I am not nearly the "crafter" that I would like to be.  And my baking skills?  Well, let's just say that they always taste good.

For example:  here are some mini-cheesecakes that were quite popular on Pinterest.

Here is my version:

And that's the prettiest one!  Trust me, it's not just the original poster's skills at photographer at work here.

Today, I decided to organize our accessory cords.  I found this idea in Family Handyman:  You use ponytail holders to keep the cords together and then you put them in sandwich bags before putting them in a storage box.  They are all neatly stored and you can easily search for what you need without tangling everything up.

And here are a few bonus pictures of the kids, because, well they are so darn cute!

Off the approve the chicken coop placement.

Moving Forward

I realized that the last post left folks at the critical point without much resolution.  We were in the hospital and not getting out any time soon.

Well, we did get out.  The doctor ran into the room on Day 5 and told us to get out before Christopher took another nap.  Although he started sleeping through the night without oxygen support starting Friday, his oxygen saturation was dipping tremendously during his naps--like 84% and 82% Friday and Saturday respectively.  It took the nurses the maximum oxygen level to get him back to an adequate range---92% (not even normal which is 94% or over).

On Saturday night, he was flirting with needing support while he slept (hanging out around 90%) when the respiratory therapist came in, gave him is nebulizer treatment, listened to his chest, identified the last wheezy part and the commenced to bang the heck out of his chest.  While the morning respiratory therapy soothed Christopher, this one made him whimper a bit.  That said, I don't regret it because as soon as she was done, his oxygen rose to 94% and stayed there all night long.

So we got out of there as soon as we could.  Stopping only for a second to have the nurse take Bridget's temperature and verify that indeed, it was rising and that, why yes, that was a crap-ass junky cough she had developed.  The time, ironically, was 20 minutes after our pediatrician's weekend sick hours had stopped.

We took them both in on Monday and the verdict:  Christopher was doing great (although likely to have asthma issues for a while) and Bridget had RSV.

I write that and let out a tremendous sigh, remembering how desperate we felt at that point.  Fortunately, Bridget did not succumb to Wimpy White Boy syndrome with RSV and never really even got all that sick. Of course, we also didn't tempt fate and put her on steroids and albuterol immediately, so who knows.  But her experience is how MOST kids get RSV.  Christopher was the 2% exception.

That said, RSV has been going around Charlotte like the flu.  In fact, we are not having any real flu season this year, but RSV has been happening in record numbers.  On our Friday night at the hospital. we saw a PA do a happy dance because someone was admitted who didn't have RSV.  In our walks (and walks and walks) around the pediatric floor, most doors were covered in a yellow drapery containing masks and gowns because RSV is so contagious, no medical professional is supposed to enter in without wearing masks, gloves, and a disposable gown.  We were all (patients and professionals alike) worried about the newborn who had to come back to the hospital for jaundice.  What a shitty time for that infant to need a few hours or days of billirubin lights.


Bridget just had a high fever from a random virus and I was pretty dang worried we were looking at a pneumonia from her lingering RSV cough.  Hallelujah, no.  Just a virus.  I'll take "Just A Virus" (JAV) any day of the week from now on out.

IN OTHER NEWS--and thank God(dess) there is some---we have seedlings all over the house for the garden (I botched the first round of eggplants and peppers and had to start again with a heating mat; I'm concerned about a late harvest) AND WE ARE GETTING READY FOR OUR CHICKENS!!!

I am so excited about our chickens!!  We just ordered our starter flock today--6 hens of different breeds.  They are all quite pretty and while 5 of them lay brown eggs, one lays blue and green ones! They will arrive in April, which will give us time to get the brooder box set up and Dave will have about 12 weeks to make our coop.  It's going to look an awful lot like our treehouse, just with a roosting bar and laying boxes for the hens.   Let me repeat:  I AM SO EXCITED!!!  It will take a while for us to recoop (HA!) the initial set up costs.  But Chickens! in our backyard!!  I cannot wait!!

The garden is even exciting me, too.  We added a new bed out in the Back Forty (I call it the East Garden; Dave calls it the Back 40). So we can have lots of options for planting.  Also, I keep forgetting to try our frozen veggies from last summer.  It was only this weekend that I tried our frozen eggplant sauteed with tomatoes and peppers, spiced by a basil/oil ice cube from our garden.  The eggplant was delish!  This means we might be able to grow and freeze enough to never spend outrageous amounts of money for great eggplant again!  It's worth the seedlings everywhere, I think.

I could blog forever right now.  The kids are asleep and it's the first kid free and work free moment I've had in recent memory.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Still Here for A While

So, why not a bar in a hospital?  Who needs it more than those of us spending the night with our sick loved ones and are too revved up to get to sleep.  And it's not like medical personnel are so stingy with the medications.  When I was in maternal care with the twins, they were passing out ambien like candy for me to go to sleep.  And after  the c-section, they were very open with the percocet.   They kept trying to push the extra strong stuff  and I kept telling them I needed one half pill of the weakest.

I think therein lies the issue.  So what I want is a glass of wine.  And a hospital bar would offer is a choice and between a double martini and a fifth of vodka, all the while watching until I drink the whole thing in one gulp.


Anywho, Christopher is doing fantastic during the day.  He is so active and engaging he doesn't look sick at all. I forgot to mention that our pediatrician told us that Christopher was the happiest child she had ever checked into the hospital.  So he's great during the day.

But when he sleeps, his oxygen plummets below 90% saturation and sometimes down to 85 or 86. I finally had some time to check Dr. Google.  86% does not indicate immediate danger at this age, but it can cause some long term damage? I don't understand that.  I just know it's not good.

But they put him on oxygen and he gets better. He just needs to sleep a night without oxygen to get home.  I thought we'd go home today based on his activity while awake yesterday.  Now I think the earliest is tomorrow if he doesn't have any oxygen tonight.  But I think we're looking at Sunday to come home.

So asthma.

One of the pediatricians stopped by yesterday.  I was apparently in a mood for chatting because I told her and the nurse in the room all about a new study I'm working on analyzing a medical virtual community, asking for their feedback and insights.  The doctor and I ended up chatting for quite a while about that until we started talking about the A word.

She says it's possible that Christopher is on the path for atopic asthma, because of his eczema which is related to his seasonal allergies and now this strong reaction to RSV.  I would like to take a minute and do the double bird flipping booty dance towards his first pediatrician who said there is NO WAY POSSIBLE THAT ECZEMA AND ALLERGIES ARE RELATED even when I said it seems to me and the RESEARCH I SAW that they were!!! Asshat.  Which is why we switched to our new pediatrician who LISTENS to us, especially when we talk as though we are typing in caps and italics.

We aren't going to be exploring any asthma diagnosis right now, though, until March.  Why, you ask as did I?  Because for the next 4 weeks and the every other day visit to the doctor to check Christopher out, we're going to be more concerned that he is still breathing right now and not any long term issues.  I really don't know what she said because my head exploded after the You Will Be Seeing Us WHOLE FREAKIN' LOT FOR THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS part.

So this morning's pediatrician stopped by. And um.  Good news.  He's going to be fine.  There's no bad news.  There's just a whole lot of waiting.  He has to be off oxygen.  And while I was excited that he is down to 1/2 liter while he's sleeping, that's not the best news we could have.  He still hasn't "turned the corner" yet.  We are still on the straight path and it's too foggy to identify the corner.  I thought we were well past the corner, but we're not.  So he gets out Saturday? Unlikely.  Sunday?  Maybe.  Sometime next week?  Probably.

 So join me on this adventure with the other bleary eyed, wild haired parents walking the halls of the children's hospital in our pajamas looking for coffee.   

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I Honesty Didn't See That Coming

Greetings from the hospital.

Everything is going to be ok.  But Christopher doesn't have pneumonia; he has RSV.  I think it's good news that this is not pneumonia, because the course it is taking would be a Really Bad Path for pneumonia.  But the RSV is taking a real toll on him.

Generally, RSV is a concern for children under 1, especially preemies.  Christopher was a preemie, but is well over 1.  I do think, though, we are looking at some asthma issues developing and this is why his RSV hit him so hard, while when Bridget had it (we think), it was just a really, really bad cold.

In any case, Christopher is in here for a few days at least.  You can't treat RSV because it is a virus so you treat the symptoms.  His main pain problem is significant congestion making it hard for him to breathe.  The congestion is described as "coarse" by the respiratory therapists--worse than wheeze, but not as wet and dense as pneumonia.  RSV!  His oxygen saturation level gets too low (waaaay too low) while he sleeps so he is on oxygen.  He can't leave the hospital until he can sleep a good amount (usually 8 hours) without needing oxygen.

We hope to get out Saturday or Sunday.  I don't think there is any way in H-E-Double-Hockey sticks we will get out tomorrow.

I realize the benefits of blogging about important episodes later when you can get perspective and add insights and humor.  Bu sometimes you just need to get it out.

Things that are interesting, worth developing some perspective:

* this is a highly contagious illness, so the medical staff, if they are going to touch him, have on all sorts of masks and gloves and disposable robes.
* Even sick and even tiny, my son takes up a boatload of room.  I slept with him in his bed last night, fixing his oxygen when it fell off and the monitor beeped.  And thank god(dess) for the respiratory therapist who, at the 4 am treatment, finally slid him over in the bed so I could actually get my whole body on the bed. A twin bed can have an adult size and a child size portion as long as the child isn't doing this.  
*Presby Main still serves fried chicken on Weds.  Woohoo!!  It was the third thing both Dave and I thought after they told us to go to the hospital.  After: Oh and Shit. So yes, the thinking was. Oh. Shit! Fried Chicken on Wednesday.  Oh, maybe it was the 4th thing we thought. But it was up there.  Yes, we've spent a lot of time at this hospital.
*While Tuesday was my turn to freak the freak out over Christopher's health, Wednesday's was Dave's.  We share that way.

Goal today: to take a shower.  My first one since Sunday.  It's been a rough week.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Am So Tired....

Sometimes, I have to blog to get some things out of my head so that I can move forward and do other things (e.g., work).

So Christopher has pneumonia.  This is our fourth pneumonia in the family. Conor had it once and Bridget had it twice.  He has had a cough since Christmas, but nothing too worrisome; we all have some sort of dust/pollen allergy over here.  Then Sunday night, his cough got a lot worse and he started running a fever.  In our house, viruses start with fever and turn into coughs.  Pneumonia (at least for Bridget) starts with a cough and then turns into a fever.

Conor and Bridget also had substantial lethargy with their pneumonia,which is why when I took Christopher in Monday morning to the doctor with a 99.5 fever and a engaging, funny, ACTIVE disposition, I felt like I was being an overanxious mother.

Nonetheless, the doctor heard the crackling and wheezing in his lungs immediately.  I congratulated Dave and me for being wonderful parents and developing our lay skills at identifying early signs of pneumonia in our children. Indeed, the doctor suggested we only needed to use albuterol on an as needed basis instead of a strict 4 to 6 hour schedule (like we did for Bridget).

I was even more proud of us when Christopher's fever spiked to 102 Monday afternoon.  We were ahead of the curve! He was going to have two good antibiotic treatments before the dreaded Nighttime Fever Spike.  I was expecting this to be an Easy Peasy pneumonia.


We gave him  ibuprofen at 9:30 (easy peasy!) and another albuterol at 10:30 (coughing but under control after the meds) and settled in for sleep.  About 1:30, I woke up next to a burning, wheezing ember of a toddler.  The 103 temperature was especially bothersome because he should have been covered by the ibuprofen. (We are thinking this morning, it  would have been 105 if we hadn't treated earlier in the night).  I dosed him with Tylenol and debated giving him his next albuterol an hour early.  The wheezing, holding his breath at the top, and the coughing up of the lung made Dr. Mom decide to give him his albuterol early.

But then.  It didn't get better.  The fever stayed at 102.5 and the wheezing, struggling breath wasn't going away like it did earlier.  I would like to also point out that what is happening at this point is NOT AT ALL like we experienced with Conor's and Bridget's pneumonia.  Yes, we've had to alternate between tylenol and ibuprofen for high fever before, but the breathing has usually been taken care of by the albuterol.

I started to debate calling the triage nurse.  What could they do at the hospital that I wasn't doing already?  But could I give him more albuterol earlier to help him breathe and sleep.  So I called.  Dave told me this morning that he thought I wanted to take him to the ER. No, I wanted to give him more albuterol.  And, honestly, to make sure Christopher's path wasn't similar to a friend of ours who nearly died last Christmas.  (Yes, Anne, your illness and near death scared us then and scares us now. When a friend's Facebook posts go from "I've got the flu" to "Here is Anne's CaringBridge Page", I think that is the definition of having the bejeesus scared out of you. Pneumonia isn't something to trifle with)

So yes, after the triage nurse had me report what Christopher's ribs looked like as he breathed and to count the number of breaths he was taking per minute, he told  us to Go Directly To the ER.  Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.  (Instead, start writing the $200 check)

There was no one in the Presbyterian Main Hembly Children's ER (Shout out for this pediatric ER! Go there!) and the triage nurse and receptionist tag teamed us into the system and to the doctor ASAP.  Christopher's oxygen saturation at this time was about 93%.  As the doctor told us later, 92% is when you start to worry.  Personally, I do not find 93% to be a "Yippee, Hooray" kind of number.

The doc came in poked, prodded, listened, and discussed with us what was going on.  There was some discussion about whether Christopher has asthma because he takes flovent and that we have albuterol hanging around the house.  It took a couple of tries to get him to understand that our (old) dr tested for asthma (no), allergies yes and that's why we use the flovent, The albuterol is leftover from Bridget's pneumonia, and honestly, I think the pediatricians like us having that around the house.

ER Doc prescribed two breathing treatments in the ER and steroids for home use.  The treatments got his oxygen saturation up to 95% (not yippee, but not on the border of freaking out, either).  And then we talked about the steroids.

The ER doc went back to Christopher's initial lung scan from NICU and said he saw a gray spot indicating Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  I pretty strongly said "THAT had never been brought up before" not mad at  him, but bugged that no one mentioned that earlier considering all the lung/respiratory issues both twins had have.  In any case, we got out of ER and arrived home about 5 and went back to bed.  Around 6:30, Bridget started pounding on my head to WAKE UP!!  TIME TO GET UP, MOMMY!

So it looks like Christopher is developing mild asthma, probably related to being a preemie.  We follow up with our doctor on Friday to get more information about this.

Dave is home today so I am supposed to be working on my research papers (one submission due today! another tomorrow!) and prepping my class on Thursday.    I am so emotional that when my co-author just emailed me that the one we're submitting today looks great, I started tearing up.  (I just did it again)  I'm very excited about these two papers; they are part of a new program of research I'm doing and I want them to be good.  But I'm also concerned about my son dying (he's not, but I wasn't convinced last night) and it's a lot to be processing all of this on an incredibly small amount of sleep.

I had to get this out so I could start focus on my other stuff.  It takes some time to write this, but it frees up my brain to focus on other things.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toddler Talkings

The kids are saying some very cute things lately and I want to remember them before it's too late.  Despite our first blog's semi-disappearance (we all lost our blogs on Salon, including Julie Powell's blog--the one the book and movie Julie/Julia was based on), I frequently wrote about Conor's development.  The twins are getting short changed in this regard.  So, I may be writing some short entries over the next few decades (!) so I can say a bit more about what they are doing.

I'm just freakin' busy.  And although I have time to write a FB status update most days, I don't have enough time to do that with the blog.  (As my older son just CHING CHING CHING CHING ninja attacked me on the arm this very second, I don't always have the patience either)

So, here we go.

Bridget likes when I tickle her parmpits, but does not like it when she hurts her belbow. Truly, she loves to eat doodles with red sauce and a lot of parmesean cheese. When guests are over, and she, ahem, passes gas, they might expect her to excuse herself when they ask her "What do you say?"  Most people are surprised when she proudly shouts, "I TOOTED!"

We are pretty open with bodily functions around here.  Tonight, Dave said to Christopher as he changed him for bedtime, "Oh my goodness!  Where did all this pee pee come from in your diaper?!"

Christopher thought for only a moment before he stated the obvious, "From my penis."