Wednesday, November 18, 2015

God stuff

So, when I obsess over a post over a period of time, writing and rewriting it in my head while I try to sleep, I figure it's actually a post I need to get out of my brain and onto the screen.  Kind of like a brain pimple.

And what a lovely way to start a post in which I talk about God(dess).  I'm so uncomfortable writing this that I wonder if I'll even publicize this post (I will.  But I might delete it).  So why write about it?  See the first paragraph.

So, I'm of the Baptist flavor in which we are encouraged to be our own priest as well as priests to others.  To me, this means I get to think about the things I hear and interpret them for myself and that's my spiritual truth.  This is in stark contrast to Baptist flavors in which the preacher tells you what to believe and if you don't you're going straight to hell (something, that may not be so). I apologize deeply and profusely if my stereotype of other Baptist flavors is wrong.  (I'm serious about that)  Please inform me if that is not true.  One of the benefits/challenges of being a psychology professor with a spiritual practice is  knowledge of the pervasive and strong natural human tendency to favor our group and disparage others. 

So ANYHOO, what has been keeping me up a night and causing me to obsess over this blog post?  This!  This following thing I've been thinking about and has sparked a truth for me that I really like.  And WRITING IT UP MAKES ME SOUND LIKE THE BIGGEST GOOBER IN THE WORLD!!! Yes, I'm shouting!  I don't how to write the next sentence without sound so pretentious and stupid!  ACK!

Here goes.

So The Lord's Prayer.  ((See?!  Right!??!  What the heck)) Anyway, I'm still typing cause I'm still digging this.  Here is *my* walking-along-my-spiritual-path interpretation of the Lord's Prayer as someone who has a spiritual practice, is a psychologist, and writes a lot herself.  As I understand it, this is the only prayer Jesus taught his disciples, so it seems important, eh?  Well, here we go.

1.  Our Father who art in heaven/ Hallowed be thy name.

My interpretation (MI):  "Dear God, You are holy."  Personally, I don't know what "holy" is (i.e., how to operationalize it) but God(dess) is It.

2.  Thy Kingdom come/Thy will be done/On earth as it is in heaven.

MI:  Jesus is going to die in a few days.  Note that he doesn't say "I'm going to heaven!!  Nah nah nah nah boo boo!"  Instead he says "Let Heaven come to earth."  I can imagine some disciple saying "Rabbi, what do you mean?" And as I imagine it Jesus slapping Peter (who I think would ask such a question) in the back of the head and going "DUDE!!  What the Hell (Ha!), do you think I've been doing for the last 3 years or so?  I've been showing you what God's Will--um, Kingdom: Heaven!--is supposed to be!  Love, forgiveness, health, compassion, food, equality, power for the oppressed, mercy. Doing these things. That's what God(dess) wants. REALLY!?"  Jesus (in my mind) is a bit frustrated by this point.

3.  Give us this day our daily bread.

MI:  May we all have enough to eat.  Not a big house with lots of money in the bank--WHICH I WOULD REALLY LIKE--but may we all have enough to eat.  That's it.  That's the bar we're supposed to be aiming for:  enough to eat.

4.  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

MI:  We are all human and we say and do stupid things (sometimes on Facebook) or we don't say the right thing and don't do the right thing (pretty much anywhere).  We are human and that's what humans do.  Thank you for pointing that God(dess) knows that and we're forgiven.  And as a reminder, let's note that all the other humans here on earth do and say stupid things (often on Facebook) and they don't say or do the right things in real life and we should acknowledge they are humans, too, and let it go.

5. And lead is not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

MI:  Even though we are all human, don't make it any easier for us to be jerks.  And keep us away from Really Bad People and Events (and thank you for the unfriend button when it gets too bad).

6.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.


  • Sincerely, Jesus
  • TTFN, Jesus
  • You da man, brah!
  • See you in a few, Your son, Jesus.  
I'll be honest with you.  Should I have been editing this back in the day, I would have said "You're right.  You can't just from Deliver us from Evil to Ciao.  But this sentence doesn't really fit with the others.  It is not simple nor direct.  You need a sign off.  But you've already said You're holy.  This sentence doesn't add much.  Why don't you think about it a little more, work on this line a bit and see what you can come up with."  You know.  Because I'm a professor.  And I edit.  EVERYTHING.  Maybe in the future I'll see the brilliance of it (said every Grad student whose paper I've ever edited), but now?  Meh.  

So, um, yeah.  

Bizarre topic for this blog, eh?  But I do think about this a lot.  And I do try to gather lessons from it.  And if anything, I can now put some Clearasil on my brain and start obsessing on some other topic.  

Cause, you know, that's how I roll.  

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Meanwhile back at the Cesspool of Cough


I'm sick now.

And the twins' O2 is lower than we're comfortable with to send to school.

Also, apparently, it is possible for their to be outbreaks of atypical (e.g., walking) pneumonia.  Usually in the late summer or fall.  In crowded areas, like schools.  GO FREAKING FIGURE.    I'll be honest, this doesn't feel like Walking Pneumonia to me, which I've always thought was mild.  All 3 of my kids had a rough time of it (well, Bridget didn't, but she's a Squirrel, so there).  And I was under the impression that walking pneumonia doesn't have a fever whereas all of us are HOT BABY!!!

Also, can it freaking stop RAINING here??  I'm turning into a vampire and I'm afraid my skin will melt off when I see the sun again.  And can someone PLEASE invent a self-cleaning house? Is that too much to ask for?  And personal trainers?  Can't someone send one over to make me get my fat a$$ back into shape again?  I'm participating in a steps challenge at work and they are about to throw me off the team.  Usually I'm a leader.  Now I'm a ((sob, sob)) ..... I'm not going to say loser.  That's not good self-talk.  But I'm trailing everyone else.

I'm going stir crazy FOLKS!!!  Wine isn't appealing anymore.  Only whine!!! THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!!!!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Pneumonia Assvice

I am NOT the queen of pneumonia.  But with all three children diagnosed with pneumonia (X-Ray validation and all!!!), I do consider myself the Princess of Pneum.  The Duchess of D'Oh. The Queen Mother of All Dirty Words.

And as Her Royal Highness, I thought I'd share what my experiences with what pneumonia is like.

I got nothin'.  Every one of them has had a different experience.

Conor had spiking fever (103.7 one afternoon and 104.1 one morning), but I've seen viruses do that.  However, Conor was EXHAUSTED.  He couldn't even sit up to watch TV.  About all he could handle was lying down watching the new Curious George series.  Dr. Who and even cartoon Transformers involved too much cognitive processing.  His daily routine for 9 days consisted of: getting up out of bed; sitting at the computer doing school math for 10 minutes and watching Dude Perfect for the rest of the hour; stumbling to the sofa to watch Curious George and PBS Nature shows for 10 hours, and then be *thrilled* to go to bed because he was so tired.  We knew he was finally better when he could sit up and play Minecraft (this, after we started the Z-pack for atypical pneumonia).

Christopher's pneumonia was indicated only by a 105.7* fever on a Friday afternoon.  Let us pause for a second while that number sinks in.  Let me then describe walking in from a three day business trip.  Into a home of freshly baked cookies and art projects on the kitchen table.  Into a home, with children resting and watching some TV show.  "Oh, honey! It's so nice to be home, but let me check the children's temperatures!"  Bridget comes up with 102, which is high for most people, but moderate in our world.  Then I go to Christopher, slumping over in the corner of the sofa.  We're using my fancy under the tongue basal body thermometer leftover from TTC.  Our digital ear thermometer is unreliable.  When I shouted ONE-OH-FIVE-POINT-SEVEN, I might have become a bit agitated.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that while I am high in Big 5 trait Neuroticism, Dave is very low in trait Neuroticism.  I had called the doctor's office, gone through the triage wait, pushed 0 because it was urgent, gotten the nurse, told her the numbers, was throwing cold rags on various parts of Christopher's body and prepping my travel bag to be a purse to take to the nurse who said "GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW." During this time, Dave gave Christopher his ibuprofen and was gently untying the knots in Christopher's shoes to put kindly on Christopher's feet.

Ahhhh, marriage.  I like to use examples of this in class to show how those of high in trait Neuroticism react quickly, we move like the wind, we are loud (or at least I am), we constantly scan the environment, we see the problem, and we Get. It. Done.  People who are low in trait Neuroticism are preferred by society.  They are methodical, slow to get worked up, calm in any storm, and highly likely to be yelled at by their high trait neuroticism wives to put the damn shoes in my bag, and carry the kid out to the car.

Honestly, there was no other sign in Christopher.  He was coughing more than Conor, but Christopher has asthma.  He coughs.  The doc heard a crackle, sent us off for X-ray, and by jove, it was pneumonia.  However, no energy?  DON'T YOU WISH!  He is running around the house like a crazy boy, except for the afternoons when the radio begins to close in on 105.7 WKIT, as we now refer to this incident.  (You might have to take a moment to get that pun)

I would also like to point out that after 105.7 WKIT, there has been some rearranging of roles in the family.  From now on, Dave is the child life specialist and as always, the cleaner of cat yak and dead bugs.  I am the nurse on call and the picker upper of the crap laying round around the house.  (Not literal crap.  Dave still has to do that)  But 105.7 WKIT has clarified our strengths in playing hospital.  We all have a role to play in the family, I am the no-nonsense check your stats nurse, and Dave is the fun one they all want to stay home with.  I do give more kisses and snuggles, though.

So Christopher's cough has gotten progressively worse as have his oxygen numbers.  Dave and I spent 15 minutes last night (at the beginning of Panther's game!) staring at the pulse ox moving from 85 to 89 while he slept.  Yes, them there's numbers to go the hospital, but as discussed with our doctor, we wake him up, he goes to the the hospital, his numbers are fine, and they send us home.   (90 is the cut off of good/bad oxygen) FORTUNATELY, Christopher had a major coughing fit, puked up a ton of phlegm, and went back to sleep with an absolutely fine (at this point) 90, 91 and 92 oxygen saturation.  This morning he's sleeping with a perfectly fine 95 to 96.  THRILLED.

Bridget is in between the boys.  Her temp has stayed 100.5 mostly, with a few 101 to 102 peaks.  She's puny sometimes and she is developing dark circles under her eyes.  She coughs some but her oxygen is fine. She's not been below 96 for any period of time.  BTW, Conor's was *100* during his pneumonia.  Bridget is a very steady 97-98.  However, the doc can hear crap all over her lungs and 4 days of fever are not good.  So her X-Ray showed pneumonia, too. We've started the shaky vest with her and called the pulmonologist.  She's doing the best of the 3, which is not what anyone would have expected.  That little trickster squirrel!  Keeping us on our toes!!

I think we've turned the corner getting the twins on the Z-pack.  I'm hoping two more days at home and then we're back to normal.

I, of course, have developed a productive cough.  But Moms and Dads don't get sick, right?  I don't.  But I am looking forward to some productive work once they all go back to school.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Pneumonia B-Shite


This should be a Facebook post, but I have too much to whine.

AAAAARRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!  Bridget is the one who is supposed to have oxygen problems, not Christopher.  But Christopher is the one whom I'm watching right now as his O2 numbers on the pulse ox range from 92 to 93 while he's sleeping.  It's such a weird mind fudge:  I start getting anxious when their O2 numbers hit 95 and then I beg for them to stay at 93 because 93 isn't so bad, really.

Other adrenaline bursts of late?  When one's son gets a 104.7* fever.  On Ibuprofen.  After 48 hours of antibiotics.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that HE HAS THE SAME FREAKING ATYPICAL PNEUMONIA THAT HIS BROTHER HAD TWO WEEKS AGO SINCE THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT ARE CONTAGIOUS!! Two X-ray confirmed, suspected bacterial pneumonias in one house that are not related is (are?) statistically unlikely.

O2 up to 94!!  Happy, happy gal-dang joy!!!

Hall-e-freaking-luia!  He just had a bad coughing fit, I used the chest PT they taught me with Bridget and he is UP TO 97!!!!!!!

Ok.  Battery died and has been replaced.  Hanging at 95.

I'll take it.

Hoping it stays that high and his temp stays low for the rest of the night.  ((It did come down to 101* eventually))

And did I mention that Bridget has started acting puny?  Her O2 is fine (95-97) but she's acting puny. I don't know what parents say outside of the south, but here, "puny" is a medical term.  And it's not good.

Great.  Christopher is now at 90.  Back to 93.

Can I live tweet/blog this all night long?  Don't you want to go through this with me?


Ok.  Christopher's O2 is up and down (and by down I mean dipping into the upper to mid 80s down)  We have experience in this realm.  He wakes up, gets energized and his O2 at the hospital is 96.  We come home; he goes back to sleep and his O2 is borderline needing oxygen support.  He's 93 right now and we're 12 hours from seeing a doctor.

Let's just go ahead and agree that my putting out running clothes for a morning jog before Dave leaves for work and Conor leaves for school is overly optimistic.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Children's Lungs: Part You are Fracking Kidding Me

So let me start this by recognizing that YOUR children do not get as sick as mine.

I get it.

I fully understand that you and the vast majority of children in these United States do not get sick.  Or at least, they do not get the funky lung problems that our children do.  Your children don't get hospitalized.  Your children don't get multiple bouts of pneumonia. I get it.

I also get that you might think that we are hypochondriacs.  That I take my kids to the doctor more than usual.  Or that I demand antibiotics for every cold they get.

I. Do. Not.

I am health conscious in that we try very hard not to eat processed foods and we use natural remedies for whatevs and I fracking HATE going to the doctor for a "virus."  I can handle colic by myself.  I can handle hand-foot-and-mouth and gladly check it off the list of childhood illnesses. We don't do ipuprofen for less than 101.5*. I know fever isn't dangerous until 107.  (I think; I would call the doc at 105+, but I wouldn't worry too much until 106+) I don't need a doctor to tell me what is going on with most illnesses.  I pride myself on not over-reacting.  ((I heard that cackle you just made.  I swear I did!!))  :->


I understand that my kids aren't normal.  And they have been hospitalized a lot.  And I don't even post about ALL the colds, coughs, fevers and general illnesses we have.

But here is the part that makes me want to smack someone.




Conor is the healthy kid.  Conor is the kid whose enactment of a bad stomach bug is that he doesn't eat all of his dinner.  (As opposed to me, who can gleefully lose 7 lbs in 3 days!!)  Conor doesn't get fevers.  Conor doesn't get sick.  And now Conor has pneumonia.  FOR THE SECOND TIME!!

I keep shouting this because although all of my children have been diagnosed with pneumonia, only Conor has actually had it.  Kit had RSV with 5 days hospitalization.  Bridget has her atypical reactive airways disease ("asthma"), but she's been kicking her lung issues like a champ for 20+ months.

Conor had pneumonia when he was 3 years old.  Only indication?  Clinging-to-mommy fatigue.

Conor has pneumonia now--after catching this virus from Bridget who LAUGHED in the face of this wimpy virus.  HA!!! HAAAAA!!!  HAHHAHAHAHAAA!!  She said!

Apparently, this virus is biting a few older elementary kids in the butt.  I don't know how this works and my nurse friends might be saying "no, you've got this all wrong" but the doc thinks this has turned bacterial with weird spiking HIGH temps (104.3 this morning!! I said ugly words at that one, but I didn't rush to ER or immediately call the doc) and serious fatigue and opaque X-Rays spots.

Can someone tell me if this could still be viral?  The doc says that it will take about 48 to 72 hours for the antibiotic to start working.  Is that the same time viral pneumonia should get better or are we really dealing with a bacterial one now?

The part that pushes that soft spot in my soul is that Conor doesn't have lung problems.  Conor is healthy as a horse.  And now all three of our kids have odd things that YOUR KIDS DON'T GET.

My response to the universe is: YOU ARE FRACKING KIDDING ME.

Dave wonders if there is something environmental in our house.  Dave and I don't have lung problems.  Is there something in this old house that we need to figure out?  Statistically speaking, something seems off and I SWEAR TO YOU, it's not our paranoia nor our insistence on western medical treatment.

Sweet baby lemur.  This is funky ash.

I may update this in the morning after a good  night's sleep.

ETA:  I realized quite a bit through the night that even though Conor has pneumonia, we have a pulse oximeter and his O2 is *great.*  Like, he was hanging at 96% O2 this morning for a bit, but generally he is really around 97 to 98% most of the time.  Those are great numbers and nothing to worry about.  He is starting to cough more and Dave and I keep telling him this is just the beginning of coughing.  That does not make him happy.  But overall, he is doing Just Fine.  He's so tired he can barely move. But he's *not* hospital bound.

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!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Shitty Couple of Weeks

It has been tough here in the Mother Thing household.  As I was telling a friend yesterday, Conor is the only one who doesn't have something big and possibly bad going on.  Four out of five is not good.

So humorous deconstruction of reality.  Let's go!

First up:  Dave!  Dave had outpatient surgery last week.  In the interest of HIPAA, I'll let Dave share the reasons why, but it was NOT elective surgery.  And while it was outpatient, he has had some significant down time.  We expected that.  Sort of.  I must admit that when I came back to the recovery room, his state coming out general anesthesia was pretty pitiful.  It's the first time I thought:  How am I going to walk this 6'4" dude into our home and onto a bed.  He went back to work on Monday.  But Tuesday came home early with a similar look of pain and fatigue.  He's working from home today.  It's supposed to be a 2 week recovery and we're hoping we're about halfway through it.

Next: Me!!  I had a bit of a breast cancer scare, although probably not as much as I thought it was. It started about 3 weeks ago with some serious pain in my breast.  YES!  You are correct!!  99% of the time, breast pain is NOT cancer!  Breast cancer doesn't hurt!  But the 1% of the time that it *is* cancer, it's very bad.  I waited two weeks for my annual GYN visit and the doc scheduled me for a diagnostic mammogram which was a week later.  I *really* wanted one ASAP and they moved it up to two days later.  YAY!!  Nothing on the mammogram and the radiologist was not amused by my coming in so quickly.  I really don't care.  Really.  No one lost out on my getting in quicker.  Doctor's advice?  Stop poking your boob.

So, three days later....I SWEAR I WAS NOT POKING MY BOOB!!  Instead, I was going "OW! This bra really hurts; let me pull it off the sore spot!!" and felt something.  It wasn't/isn't a lump.  Instead, it's more like a cord or a tendon or ligament.  I haven't had biology since high school, so honestly, I don't know if one's boobage has ligaments.  It doesn't.  I did not sprain my boob.

Instead, Dr. Google suggests that I have "Mondor's Disease."  Basically, a superficial vein in my boob has a blood clot in it and has caused the rest of the vein to swell up and harden. It is believed to be benign, sometimes painful, and rare.  It is seen less than 1% of the time in breast clinics.  There is really no treatment except waiting for it to heal itself.

So I called my OB/GYN to tell him about the cord I'd found in my boob, who gave me the same advice as when I saw him in the office:  take ipuprofen and if it still hurts, he'll recommend biopsy surgery in 2 months.


That's not what is going on.  I am annoyed.  I potentially have this rare but still benign problem and his advice is take two aspirin and call me in the morning?  Ok.  Fine.  It's rare, it's benign, and he clearly doesn't believe me.  Whatevs.

So then the Twinnies.  This is the part that has been keeping me up at night and making me so anxious that just typing that caused my stomach to drop out.  It is possible they could still be be promoted to 1st grade.  Despite our wishes and their poor performance on standardized tests, their scores are low but within normal range.  So they *could* go forward.  Further, I feel like my emails about our comfort with them being retained got their care team in trouble, something I had no intention of doing. I'll be honest with you.  Seeing all the other kindergartners graduate to first grade makes me sad.  But they are not ready to go up.  And I still believe holding them back is a good idea. We are anxiously awaiting the final word.

Also, don't email anyone in the public sphere.  Just don't.  Call.  Unless you want your email to be part of a permanent record that could bite you or someone else in the butt, DO NOT EMAIL.  DON'T DO IT.  Unless you *do* want it in the permanent, public record, then feel free.


Summer school is over at the end of this week.  I'm teaching two classes, one of which is a new prep.  With all this other stuff going on!!!  YIKES!!!

I hope the rest of the summer is boring and fun.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Week #3 on Parental Reboot

So we've gone through three weeks of our Kazdin's Positive Parenting Reboot to keep Christopher from throwing a tantrum.  We have learned a couple of important lessons thus far.

1)  We're not done yet.  We've made significant progress.  In fact, I would have been shocked three weeks ago how much better things are now than they were then. But we're still dealing with a hair trigger temper and a quick devolution to 5 year old hell.

2) OH MY GOSH.  If there any indication that positive parenting works and punishment focused parenting does not, it was our own N=1 design last Friday. For some reason, Christopher started off on the wrong foot stealing Bridget's bagel at breakfast.  I told him he would only have one opportunity to earn points that day instead of two.  He screeched and screamed and I took the second opportunity away too.  ((This is a good example of how I had been parenting before))  I realized I had just experienced a brain fart and gave him one opportunity back.  That afternoon, he demanded two opportunities and I said No.  That night, he got mad at us and would only sleep on the ottoman at the end of the bed.  I should have ignored him ((MORE LATER ON THIS)) and instead I tried to engage him.  He gently (but  it still happened) slapped me on the face.  I grabbed his arm and forcefully told him not to ever do that again.  He screamed that I could never be a mother with that tone of voice.  He then became hysterical, screaming and kicking and throwing and sobbing.


I'm giving you that example to show What Not To Do and What We Have Been Dealing with.

He and Dave went to bed elsewhere and I slept with Conor and Bridget.  About an hour later, I couldn't stand it and switched places with Dave.  ((It's a commune around here on weekends))  In the middle of the night, Christopher and I woke up and kissed and made up.  In the morning, he told me that he had been very, very sad the night before.  I had re-read Kardin's book and realized that my approach to take away his opportunity to be good was probably not going to win me mother of the year.  Not doing that again.

3.  Who the heck knew IGNORING was so freaking effective?!?!?!?!?!  He was doing his "No, I'm Not!!!" where he basically refuses to do anything we ask the other night.  So we all left the room.  He was refusing to go to bed and Bridget, Conor, and I just left.  Dave came in about 15 minutes later and told him it was time to brush his teeth and go to bed, and he hopped up and did it.  I SHIT YOU NOT!!!    Right?????  Afterwards, Dave and I just looked at each other and went, "How positively reinforcing is THAT?!"  For us, yes!!  Ignoring is a good thing.  Christopher told me "No, I'm Not!!!" the other day and then immediately backed down.  I will freaking take it.

4.  Three weeks in, we're already starting to taper out the points and rewards system.  He received his fancy new Lego set for being good for 2 1/2 weeks and earning enough points.  Since then, we've run out of treats for the goody bag and we're just sort of doing the practice and points as we need to.  I need to read up what is next.  I don't know, but he's not All Done yet.

So, yeah.  Big steps forward here.  We haven't changed any underlying cognitive processes here. I am suspecting that Christopher is extremely sensitive and instead of directing his pain inward, he directs it outward. I think it means that for most of our parenting, we're going to have to focus on helping him do right instead of punishing him for doing wrong.  That doesn't mean punishments are out.  But it means focusing more on rewarding what we want to do than relying on threats of punishments to stop what we don't  like.

I'd love to hear how you all are doing on your parenting challenges.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Parenting Intervention(s)

So, last Friday we started our first "Parenting Intervention" with one of the children.  Specifically, Christopher, aka Kit (mainly because that's a boatload easier to type, write and text).  So our little moose, Christopher/Kit, is a very sensitive boy.  And he experiences pretty big feelings:  high highs and lowwwww lows.

And when he gets angry (frequently because I tell him no, he can't have a homemade yogurt "milkshake" and instead he can have a banana), he turns into a holy terror.  He screams, he hits, he spits, he bites, he says he hates us, he says we hate him, he goes right up to but does not cross the line of destroying important toys/plates/knick knacks.

We have been using time outs as punishment.  And really, it's also been a strategy for him to get ahold of himself when he is truly losing it. Here's the thing though:  as the time outs become more frequent and longer, at some point you have to note that the behavior is not changing.  Our parenting strategy is not working.  ((And for spanking/hitting advocates, the results would likely be the same with just more anger on his part and then more force on ours.  Not a road we're going to travel down))

So I wish we had been the ones to recognize that more times outs, longer timeouts, or more/longer/extreme timeouts (or any punishment)  without a change in behavior means that the parenting strategy is becoming less effective.  But we did not.  Instead this was an observation in the first chapter of our new parenting guru, Dr. Alan Kazdin, developmental psychologist, Yale professor, and author of The Kazdin method for Parenting the Defiant Child.

I have to be honest with you.  While I appreciate pediatrician's parenting advice, as a psychologist, I sometimes think they should stay in their own lane.  So when I find a psychologist who offers applied advice based on 30 years of published, peer reviewed research, who was also APA president (less impressive to me, but there it is), I'm going to listen.

Also, WHOOPSIE DAISY!!!  Although I spend a good portion of my reinforcement theory lectures talking about how punishment only stops a behavior and only positive reinforcement CHANGES a behavior...I FORGOT!!!  Yeah, we professors do that sometimes.

So, what have we been doing?  We have focused on the Positive Opposite of the tantrums ("To ask nicely and to remain calm no matter the answer").  We have ENTHUSIASTICALLY!!!!!!!!! praised every positive practice and every actual "asking" episode.  We have immediately given check marks on his scorecard.  We have provided goodies and rewards for both low level points (one good episode and he gets to go to the regular goody bag) and higher level accumulated points (2 1/2 days of good episodes and delaying reward lets him go to the BIG goody bag).  We have provided goodies for the other kids to get when he does well, which allows him to be the family hero.

In 5 days, he's moved from frequent goat to frequent goody.  He still gets mad and he's still making poor choices.  But he is SO MUCH BETTER.  When he gets ready to lose it, he can handle himself a little better.  When he loses a point or I tell him he only gets to earn 2 points instead of 4 for the day, he agrees with it.

We're only 1 week into this and it apparently takes about 2 months to get the new behavior to become a habit and phase out the rewards, but we are really happy.  It's truly a family intervention.  We are all trying hard to help Kit do well. And he loves the attention he is getting for doing well.  Positive reinforcement is SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL than punishment.

It's exciting to see this in action.  And it's exciting that this is based on both strong theory and a great deal of good research.  This is one of those blog posts I hope can help others make effective changes in their child's behavior.  Leave a message or email if you have more questions.  We'll be updating more about this as we go through the 8 weeks of intervention.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Spring is finally arriving in Charlotte.  We've been spreading mulch and,for the first time, I have successful tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings.  I'm putting out chard and kale tomorrow I'm hoping to start planting carrot, lettuce, beets, and radishes in the next week.

It used to be that I'd start the spring garden over UNC Charlotte's spring break (which is always the first week of  March).  But I figured out last night that it's been years since I've done that.

7 years ago, I had my colon resectioned due to diverticulitis.
6 years ago, I was on bed rest with the twins.
5 years ago, I had 8 month old twins and I was a zombie.
3 years ago, Christopher had  been in the hospital and I was catching up from that.  I think I sprung a little.
2 years ago, Bridget started her hospital odyssey and I know for a fact that Spring sprung the 10 days from when we entered until we left.
Last year, no one was in the hospital, I was still in recovery mode, and it was still cold in March.  I really didn't have the emotional energy for a big garden and I kept expecting that every cough would send us back in the hospital for a week.

Now?  Now, I'm having a lot of fun getting my hands dirty.  Bridget is coughing.  She is actually coughing quite a bit right now.  She is coughing enough that her classmates ask why she coughs so much more than they do.  ((Frowny face))  And she's coughing enough that we're checking her numbers and they are 'ok'.  Not great, but ok.

BUT.  (all my friends have a big but)  We know what to do now.  We have prednisone at the house.  We have a recent history of everything turning out ok without low O2 numbers.

And we have, what feels like, the first spring in a bazillion years where we can hang and play and enjoy the sunshine.

It feels like it's been a really, really long time.

Monday, March 09, 2015

First Family Skiing Trip

Yes, it was expensive.  It's probably one of the more expensive vacations we've ever taken.  But that, my friends, is not saying much.  We camp.  $50  day for lodging and food for a family of 5 is "expensive" to us.

But I am telling you right now, it was worth every penny.  Our condo/hotel was one of the, um, less fancy ones.  But the view was amazing. This was the view when we arrived.

This was sunset.

And this was sunsrise.

These are the kids enjoying the pool size hot tub (WHOOOAAO!) in the bathroom.

But what about the skiing?  Wasn't that the point?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  So, let's talk about me for a minute here.  When I rollerblade, I prefer flat spaces and going  UP hills.  I hate, hate, hate going down hills at any rate of speed.  So when my ski instructor took me down the bunny slope at breakneck speed (not really, but it felt that way), I actually had to stop him and tell him that I didn't think that skiing was going to work out for me.  Yeah.  That is exactly how lame I am.  The bunny slope scared the bejeesus out of me

So, I took many, many deep breaths and we did it again.  Much slower with with me pizza wedging from side to side all the way down.  And I did that again and again and again and again.  On the freaking bunny slope.  They stopped actually checking my tag on the way up the "Magic Carpet" moving sidewalk because I did it so many times.  Apparently, an old woman with a bright pink ski jacket stands out on the bunny slopes.  

Oh, yes.  For those  of you not on Facebook, I fired Dave as my teacher when the first thing he did was take me to the top and show me how to do a "Hockey stop."  I don't know much, but at that point I knew I needed to learn Pizza and French Fry.  

So on Day 1, I foolishly thought I could take a Green Run.  I probably could have done it with someone who wasn't as advanced as Dave. But Dave is a naturally very, VERY good skier.  And when I wiped out just getting off the chair lift, he froze like a deer in headlights at the Mac Truck in a pink ski jacket coming down after him. 

Day 2 was A LOT better.  It was a lot warmer so the snow was very slushy, which real skiers don't like but Bunny Slope experts who hate speed LOVE!  I learned to turn and traverse the slope.  I did parts of a green run that did not require a chair lift.  I made many people's day when I wiped out several times just standing there on my skis.  The best was when I put on my skis and promptly fell on my arse right in front of the family deck.  I turned around to see who was watching me and 4 people immediately began to look for birds in the sky.  I'm a professor.  I can tell when the audience doesn't want to be called upon.  

I'm really looking forward to going again.  But my goal, at this point, is to become a master of the green slopes.  I am not, at this point, aiming for anything higher than that.  

But what about the kids? Well, the kids had a great time.  Here they are getting fitted for the Sugar Bear School.  

They all passed Level 1, beginner on the first day.  However, the twins were red-shirted part way through Day 2.  Christopher  had the skills but not the confidence.  Bridget had the confidence but not the skills.  The instructor said all we need to do is keep them out on the slopes at this age, and they'll be fine skiers eventually.

Conor, on the other hand, is a natural just like his dad.  He passed Level I on day one and Level II on day two. The instructor said he was very good and with a bit more practice would be ready for the BLUE runs.  That's intermediate, folks.  Conor can pizza and hockey stop and generally be a very good skier.  He, too, wiped out on his first chair lift (and Dave did, too, a zillion years ago) so maybe that's common.  But Conor had a blast and I think, this may be one of the sports he's really good at.  

I have to be honest, and Conor agreed, dance class, where they tell you to focus on this body part and have it do that sort of thing is exactly the sort of skill that help when you're learning any new sport. I am so proud of him, I can't stand it.  Really.  He is amazing.  

And finally.  Feet. Imagine a duck's foot and you will have a good idea what my feet look like.  I was  very concerned that I would not be able to fit into any ski boots.  Apparently, though, I am not the only duck who likes to ski.  I will be honest with you:  my feet are rarely happy.  But when I took off my ski boots and put on my F'uggs (Fake Uggs), my feet have never, ever been happier.  Good to know that I can wear ski boots and my feet can actually be happy, too.

We're already planning our next ski trip.  

Friday, March 06, 2015

We're Going Skiing

For the first time as a family, and as a first time in my life, we are going skiing.

The reason this is a big deal (beyond the obvious that watching an old lady--me--learn to ski is going to be very funny) is that during the worst parts of the financial woes of the twins in daycare, a minivan payment, and no raises, we fantasized about what we would do when we had $2000 extra per month to deal with.  Yes.  Those of you with children know what I'm talking about.  Those of you without children just re-upped your birth control.

In all honesty, we still have substantial debt to pay off.  I'd like to pay it off as quickly as possible and live as spartan as we've lived before to use all that money to pay down the credit cards. And for the most part we are (Stitch Fix, Ipsy, Club W, and Lakeview Farm Fresh Milk Home delivery excepted).  FEEL FREE TO USE THOSE LINKS AT  ANY POINT!!  :-)

But the ski trip is a Real Splurge.  And something that, while we can currently afford, would normally be used to make another big payment off those cards.

I. Don't. Care.

I would rather take another month to pay off a credit card and have a family experience when all our kids still like us. We are incredibly cheap in hundred different ways (homemade bread and yogurt are two).   I want to see my children romp in the snow, learn to ski, and basically spend quality, active time together.

We'll take a few years skiing  in the NC mountains.  And then when everything is paid off, maybe we'll check out skiing in Colorado or Utah. Or somewhere extra fancy.  Really, the extra fancy is  not  nearly as  important  as the short time we've  got together before  our children are gone out in this world.

Feel free to wish me luck, but refrain from saying "Break A Leg" because  I think that's a real possibility!!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Taking a Breath

This morning, I just really need to catch my breath for just a moment.

Since Christmas, I have been exceptionally busy with two conference submission deadlines, prepping a new graduate class, and two respiratory infections with the squirrel.  I have three peer reviews I am working on, two of which are late.  (JoAnn and Ann--I swear, I'm finishing them up today and tomorrow).  I've worked every weekend and most nights and I'm not sure I've had one whole day where I wasn't up early (5ish) and working late in over 3 weeks.


The house looks like it's been invaded by a fraternity.  Shaun the Sweep is afraid to come off of his docking station.  It's so messy that I thought a cat paw playing with a fake snow ball was a bug.

And poor little squirrel.  She is having a rough time.  She had her second respiratory virus over the weekend.  We had some crap ass numbers on her O2.  Sunday morning she was in the low 90s and upper 80s until she had her treatment and coughed up some stuff.  She's going gung-ho most of the day and then she crashes and her lungs catch up.  We sent her to school this morning, but I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't come home early.

And she's really, really not liking school right now.  I'm really  glad we decided to "Red Shirt" the twins.  And really, that is what it is.  We recognize their academic potential and feel like we'll help it better by letting them have a bit more time to mature.

((A good deal of time spent staring off into space))

Ok.  I am really struggling with how to write this. I have things I need to "journal"/blog about, but I feel protective about both Christopher, Bridget, and their wonderful teacher (Oh, btw, The  Daily Beast says blogging is dead. Sucks to be me, I guess)  I want to share information about the struggles and triumphs of the twins, and I am very protective that someone will place the responsibility on their teacher, when in fact, I think what we're dealing with is normal (or maybe not) kid stuff.

We are working closely with their teacher on some of  their struggles (particularly Bridget's) and we're all on the same page  with the same goal.  We also imagine that what may be our goal: "Oh, we're red shirting them; if they don't do well we aren't bothered" could cause our teacher to be poorly evaluated "What  do you mean two children didn't do well.  What kind of teacher are you!?" Right???  That's not fair to her!!  So we're all documenting our choices and working together to make sure everyone is fairly evaluated.

But little squirrel is having some problems.  For the past three weeks, she has been HYSTERICAL about going to school.  Monday mornings, especially, she gets into a hysterical crying spree.  And this isn't a fake cry. This is red, splotchy face, snot coming out the nose, nearly inconsolable hysterical.  And it's about math.  Kindergarten math!!  1+1=2 math!!

I know I'm biased about what I believe about Bridget (and Christopher) so I have to back up a bit. And make some confessions.  First, last summer, we took  the twins in for "testing" to make sure it was a good idea to put them in the same classroom.  For instance, there are going to be natural comparisons between twins about their performance.  Both of them have strengths that the other doesn't.  Is there such a difference we should  be concerned about putting them in the same classroom?  We told them they were being tested to figure out where they should sit for kindergarten.
The results were good and fine.  Christopher's scores put him close enough to Talent Development that I won't be  surprised if he gets in later.  Bridget's scores put her in "average to high average" except for one scale.  She scored 99th percentile in Fluid Intelligence, which means she picks up new things very, very quickly.  That  last link is why we think Bridget is going to be a lawyer some day.  She's always working out the logic of something and is not afraid to share her views on any and sundry topic.

But math requires sitting there and thinking and working and struggling.  At least it does for me, and I was and am very good at math.  It's funny that her teacher says that if she shows Bridget blocks  of color for math (2 red and 1 white), Bridget can make answer the question instantaneously.  But 2+1 on a math worksheet  is not as easy for her. Yes, it has occurred to us that she may have some "differences in learning style" that we might need to address.  And if anyone wants to share some parenting experience on this, we'd love to hear it!!  I don't know how I'd live without step-ahead parent mentors.

So this morning, when she was just losing it at 6 am just over the thought of going to school, I did a little Mom coaching.  She's so tiny that I can actually still scoop her up in my lap, hug her tight and she's not much bigger than a cat. We talked about how easily she learned to ride a bike and how hard, actually, it was for Conor to learn.  We talked about how Conor cried when he was learning to play the piano because it was so hard and we'd told him about it  being hard to ride a bike at first and he had to practice and then it was easy.  The same is true for Conor now and piano playing: he plays well now but he had to work at it.  She may have  to work at math before it's easy.  

I told Bridget that I was really smart because I worked hard not because it was easy for me.  ((I was one of those kids who actually did study in high school.  Everyone else I know said they never cracked a book and got all As.  I meanwhile studied over breaks!!  "Smart" was never easy for me)) I told her that I had to work hard at math and a lot of times I didn't understand it, but  if I thought it was like a puzzle I could figure  it it.  I told her (true story!) that Daddy didn't well in high school, and it was only in college when he met a girl who studied a lot that he became "smart" because he worked hard (studying with this girl, dontcha know). We talked a lot about how people think "smart" means it's easy when really "smart" means it's difficult you work hard.

It's funny that on their spelling tests, Christopher can get 3/11 and could not actually care less.  Bridget, on the other hand, gets 9/11 and she wails at how horrible she's doing. IN KINDERGARTEN!!!  (I should note at this point that even though Christopher scored close enough on his tests that TD is not out of the picture, he'll do just fine repeating Kindergarten)

I don't know.  I'm not a Kindergarten teacher.  Is 2+1 obvious?  Or at some point, do you actually  have to think?  Is she frustrated because it's not as quick for her as she thinks it is for other people and thus she's giving up?  Or does have a  learning difference we ought to address?  (Her quickness at the different colored  blocks makes me think this is possible) Can't we just Let It Go for this red shirted year and worry about it next year?

Parenting is hard, y'all!!

Parenting twins is hard.  Parenting when you've got clever children is hard. Parenting clever children who are having problems is hard. Parenting in a house that looks like it's on Fraternity Row is hard.  Parenting on broken sleep because you keep making sure the pulse oximeter is over 90 in the middle of the night is hard.  And parenting when you get a shot of adrenaline at midnight because it's actually 92 is hard.  Parenting, when your entire heart is hanging out in three different people at an elementary school, is hard.

God(dess), I love those children so much.

Taking a deep breath. And going to go review some papers now.

Friday, January 16, 2015

All Better

I know the only people reading a blog on a Friday night are goobers who don't have plans  beyond a few glasses of wine and a family movie on Netflix.


This is your tribe, people.

So, yes, I am feeling very relieved.  We talked to the pulminologist today and saw  the pediatrician.  And it appears that, indeed, last night's hellish bad numbers were the trough.  And Bridget  is getting better.  After she and I both took a long nap this afternoon, her  numbers are *stellar*.  Either the prednisone kicked in or she coughed up that big loogie of a lung bugger that was blocking her airways.


And now that the crisis is over, my family is annoying the freaking hell out of me.  I have been so freakingly freaking effed the freak stressed this week.  I've had little sleep and accomplished less work in a time of the school year when I need productivity and smart thoughts to be shooting out of every orifice.

Of course, I had to focus on the Squirrel.  I wanted to be there for her.  But we're out of the woods. And I want them all to STOP YELLING and BE QUIET and CLEAN UP and Let me have a moment to myself. DO THEY HAVE TO EAT EVERY DAY!?!?!

5 minutes.  Just let me have some peace and quiet and healing for FIVE FREAKING MINUTES.

And now you see why, after being Super Mom for the last 5 days, I will never, ever, ever, ever win Mother Of The Year.

Bargaining with Pulse Oximeter Numbers

I've noticed a trend among mother' named Anita with crazy curly hair.  Ok Me. This is all me.  This all crazy me.  This is all crazy me and why people with mild anxiety should not have data producting instruments that can freak them out.

So when Bridget first gets sick, I worry because  her O2 numbers start to hang around 96. I generally consider this a "B grade" amount of oxygen. I'm a professor. I think in terms of grades.  I prefer As.  I'm a professor!  As I tell my undergrads, Bs are not a problem, but I also know it's not typical for her and something is going on in her lungs.

Then as she starts getting sicker and her  numbers get lower, I get so excited when I see  a 96.  When 96 makes me relieved instead of worried, then we have  problems. That's when I turn into some kind of reverse auctioneer trying to will her numbers higher.

Can I get a 95? 95? 95? Sold at 95!  At least it's not a 94.

Oh, I see a 94.  94? 94? 94? 95!!! Oh, back to 94.  And holding.  Well, we're still above 93.

Oh, I got a 93. 93.  93. 94. 93.  93. 93.  96!!! 95!! 94...93.  93.  93.  At least it's not 92.

And so on.

Sometimes I try to sneak up on the numbers.  Usually this game is  going on during the night and I'll close my eyes for a few minutes and then sneak a peak.  This is good when I spot a 94 or a 95 and pretty adrenaline shooting shitty when it's a 91.

We are doing all the right things we can do at home.  We started prednisone at the right time, definitely not too soon and definitely not for shits and giggles.  Yesterday was great.  Bridge had lots of energy and great numbers.  And she wasn't coughing much. ((Cue the foreboding music.))  I had to teach last night and just before I left she had a coughing fit that caused some 80s to show up on her pulse ox.***  ((again, haven't seen that since the last hospital visit))  Dave texted me in class that her numbers  were all high 90s!!!  ((He is  not a crazy, curly headed, slightly anxious woman))

She was in bed by the time I got home and when I checked her numbers they were an extremely steady 93.  When asked how he could explain the discrepancy from the texts and the numbers, Dave shrugged and said "You?!"


She spent more time in the low 90s, even with all my reverse bargaining.  This morning when I woke up she was hanging in the upper 80s and low 90s.  We did a full treatment at 4:30 am an now she's back asleep, ironically at 96.

I'm not excited about that number (Still!!  So difficult to please) mainly because it's  the max now, not the min.

I don't know what's going to happen.  We've never been here before. We've either started the prednisone in the hospital or used it when there was no need.  We are definitely doing the right things here at home.  I just don't know what's happening inside her lungs and whether her funky hypsersecreious asthma doesn't give two flying fig newtons about that extra prednisone  as it fills her lungs with gunk.  ((That is what I think happens when she stops coughing for a period of time.  The gunk is  filling up her the bottom of her lungs and causing atelectasis))

And now you know.

Still hanging at  96.  Sold!  To the whackadoodle mama in her Hello Kitty pjs.

UPDATED: And as is what always happens when I'm bargaining/bidding, the numbers are still going down and I should have locked it in at that better price.  I'm sure there will be more updates in the future.

***Please!   Someone draw me a pulse ox!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Enterovirus D68.....*Maybe*

I do not want to hysterically claim that  Bridget has EV D68!! Bridget has EV D68!! We have no idea.  It's *possible* she does. And she will not be tested for it because she is not going to PICU.  In fact, she is not going to the hospital (thank you, starting prednisone early enough!!!)

But we do know she has one of the bad respiratory viruses.  And we know that EV D68 is  in Charlotte, along with RSV, the Flu, and "A Flu Like Virus." (Actual CDC tests paid for by the hospitals say so)  And through the process  of elimination, it seems more likely to be an enterovirus than the other ones.

How come?

Croupy cough at  the beginning signalling "something."  Low grade fever at 100.  Most docs don't even count that as a fever.  Puking at school. (LOVELY!) and complaining of a stomach ache the entire time.  Gas that could bring chili-bingeing sumo wrestlers to their knees.  (LORD!) And that cough.  That mucus-y, body shaking cough.

I think Bridget is going to stay out of the hospital for a couple of reasons.  First, that child can cough.  Even when it burns and stings, she continues  to cough.  I'm very proud of her.  It hurts.  It tires her. But she keeps coughing.

Second, I credit the emergency prednisone our pulminologist gave us.  EVD68 is infamous for turning bad quickly.  For most of the week, Bridget's O2 has stayed around the upper 90s with a low  around 95 to 96.  That's  fine. Then last night, her max was a 95 and she was hanging at 92 to 93.  That's not a number with which to rush to the hospital.  But we've seen that trend before.  The she started dipping into the 80s and flirting with  some steady 90 readings.  Them there are  hospital numbers.

So I broke open the emergency prednisone (or unscrewed the childproof  top) and dosed her up.  6 hours later (I think that's how long it takes to work???), she has back up to 96 asleep and 98 awake.

We'll see what happens this afternoon and tonight.

So far, with the previous trips to the hospital, we didn't start prednisone until we ARRIVED and her lungs were full of crap.  I'm really hoping that  we're ahead of the curve here and will keep ahead of, on top of, and/or out of the way of the phlegm in her lungs.

I really think we're going to be ok.