Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Real Talk About Sick Kids (Grossness Level: HIGH)

I started writing this post a week ago when both boys were still sick FOR THE 45TH TIME THIS WINTER.  Is this not the WORST cold and flu season in the history of ever?!!  I've kept Ronan home from school three times now.   Every fever, sniffle, and sore throat seems to rip straight through town to our house.  Even RSV!  No thank you!  We are all feeling fine now (knock on wood) but illness has wreaked havoc on our routines and housekeeping.  Come on, spring!  Set us straight!

The silver lining to all this plague and pestilence is that we are learning how to manage illnesses without totally freaking out (a big improvement from the devastation and panic I felt when Ronan got sick as a baby!).  We've been following conventional wisdom like propping up on pillows to help a stuffy head, and running a humidifier to soothe a cough.  Here are a few other tricks that seem to help.

For stomach bugs (boo!):
  • As soon as someone gets sick, start the washing machine.  We've been through every towel, blanket, and sheet in the house in one night.  Running out of clean linens is no bueno. 
  • Honor that it's scary.  Ronan is terrified every time he throws up!  Scott is really great at holding him and saying, "Yep, good job.  Spit it out.  I know it's scary, but you're doing great."  It's really soothing to Ronan to know that somebody gets it.
  • For lower GI drama, our pediatrician recommends probiotics like these to help set things right again.
For colds and flu:
  • I know it sounds gross, but this nasal aspirator is the bomb.  Don't overthink it.
  • Keeping a sick kid hydrated is a challenge, but they almost never say no to popsicles...  Orange juice, yogurt and honey is a favorite combo around here. 
  • We've spent a lot of family time chilling in the shower lately... turn the water on uber-hot, turn the shower head toward the wall, hold your sicko, and wait.  The steam helps loosen up congestion and the warmth and contact is soothing.  Follow with lots of nose-blowing/ suctioning. 
  • A teaspoon of honey mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice can help for older kids who are still too young for cough syrup.
  • When Merrin had RSV and was coughing until he threw up, I started keeping a big stainless steel bowl next to the bed.  When he would start gagging I'd grab the bowl, hoping to keep the bed clean.  :(  But more often than not, the shiny empty bowl distracted him from his coughing long enough to keep his dinner down.  Phew.
  • Speaking of RSV, this routine really worked great for in-with-the-good-out-with-the-bad: nebulizer followed by the aforementioned aspirator, then medicine, THEN nursing.  Trust me.  :(
  • I'm all about Vicks on the chest and feet, even if it's just the ritual that's actually soothing.  Alternatively, I put my diffuser in Ronan's fort and diffused a respiratory blend of essential oils.  It helped as much as the Vicks did. 
Mamas, how are you faring this cold and flu season?  What works at your house to help sick kiddos feel better?  I'd love your advice. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Strider Enduro

Strider's pedal-less balance bikes are all the rage around here!  Ronan cruises his all over town.  In January, he and his buddy Liam entered the Strider Extreme Indoor Enduro (!!).  Here are some of the hilarious pics, if you like.

His miniature riding gear cracks me up.  :)  The race was like herding cats, of course, but everyone had fun.  After Ronan finished his heat he zipped back onto the course to go again, and one of the race staff had to run after him.  He was crushed that he couldn't just ride all night! 
If you're in the market, Strider bikes are on sale on Zulily for the next two days! 
PS:  These earmuffs rock for taking babies to noisy events.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pinterest Happened: Spring Fever Edition

You guys.  I tried hard this morning.  I took Ronan to school, did dishes, started the washing machine, fed the baby changed the baby nursed the baby put the baby down for a nap, and was just sitting down to get some serious writing done when... Pinterest happened.  And I found all of this:
A banging post!  This is the stuff of little boys' dreams.  :)

And how easy would a little water table like this be?  Seems like a safer alternative to water play in a kiddie pool and it would be easier to keep clean through the summer.
Ronan and Merrin would both have a ball in a loose parts playspace like this.  I think it would be a great way to create an activity area that works for multiple ages.
Also, giant birds' nest!!!  Ronan would love hauling all the sticks home.
Don't tell Merrin, but here's what he's getting from Mom and Dad for his first birthday:
Last, who can resist a teepee?!!  Ronan and I can put our old t-shirt stash to good use.

Here's the best part:

Yesss!  For more totally distracting, spring-fever-inducing garden porn (with dino gardens and car cities!), check out my Outdoor Business board here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

While the Baby Is Napping

"Mama!  Let's play hide-and-go-seek!  You go hide and I will find you."

"Ok.  You cover your eyes and count and I'll hide."

"Ok!  Are you ready?"

"No, I haven't moved yet!  You have to go close your eyes and count while I hide."

He begins counting, eyes never leaving me.

"Onetwofiveeightten.  Are you ready?"

"Uh, almost!"  I skip quickly into the bathroom, out of his sight, and I barely make it to the far side of the vanity before he comes charging in after me.  He meets my eye-- he's found me!-- and he is delighted. 

"Okay, now I'll count and you hide," I tell him.  I kneel on the bed and cover my eyes with my hands and count slowly.  "One.  Two.  Three..."

"Mama, I'm ready!" he calls to me.  From very close by.  I smile.

"Okay, here I come!"  I stand and turn, prepared to pretend to search for him, but there he is laying flat out on the couch, giggling.

"You found me!"

For the next round, I convince him to actually close his eyes.  I run behind the island in the kitchen and crouch down low.  "Are you ready, Mama?"


"One... two.... five... eightten!"  He is counting as he searches.  "Are you on the couch?  No...  Are you behind the door?  No...  Are you under the baby bouncer?  No..."  He creeps around the island like he's waiting for something to leap out at him.  And he jumps when he finds me!  And laughs and laughs. 

The next time it's my turn to hide, I slip behind the floor-length curtains by the dining table.  I can feel the sun on my back and I know my silhouette is outlined with perfect clarity on the thin fabric.  But, he's three.

"Onetwothreefiveeightten!  Are you  ready, Mama?"

"Ready!"  There are maybe eight feet between us.

He barrels straight past me, checking the places I've hidden before: behind the island, behind the bathroom door, past the vanity.  I can hear him moving the shower curtain and checking the shower.   He pads back into the kitchen, clearly confused. 

"Psst."  A hint can't hurt.  I stifle a giggle when he jerks his head at the noise, hearing that I'm nearby but still not seeing my obvious form in the curtains.

He passes directly in front of me to climb the ladder to his sleeping loft.  "No..."

"Psst."  He whips his head around, grinning.  He shimmies down the ladder and checks underneath, which is where he was "counting" earlier when I hid.  "Psst."

He is laughing now, knowing I'm so close.  He heads for the bedroom door where the baby is sleeping.  "Psst!"  He whirls around.  How can he not see the curtains trembling with my own barely-contained laughter?  He checks the couch once more, then wanders to the center of the living room, bewildered.

"Psst."  I can't help it, I'm laughing out loud now.  I can see realization pass over his face, and he beams as he yanks back the curtain and squeals, "There you are!  I found you!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cricket Media for Kids

My friend Sarah recently turned me on to Cricket kids' magazines.  Love!  They're my new go-to gift for our kid friends.  Cricket has several publications for different ages of kids (1-3 years, 3-6, 6-9, 9-14, etc.) and interest-specific magazines for older kids.  Ronan gets the Ladybug magazine, and so far we are totally sold on it!  Each issue has short stories, poems, songs, activities and gorgeous art.  I love that he gets a little something new to refresh his interest in reading without us having to accumulate new books, and that he has something to take in the car that isn't a library book doomed to destruction.  He is thrilled by the magazine and by the fact that he gets mail, just for him.  :)  Check 'em out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Good Morning

Hey mamas.  I know it's been ages.  This whole preschooler-and-a-baby business is really cramping my writing style!  It seems like when I can find the time to write (ie, both kids asleep at the same time, something akin to a solar eclipse in its rarity), I don't have the intellectual juice to write.  And if I'm wound up enough to have something to say, I'll spend the whole day juggling opposite naps.  But I'm really pushing myself to return to writing, even if it's just to keep my vocabulary from atrophying.  Here's a bit longer piece I've been working on, if you like.

The sound of grunting nudges me awake.  It’s the baby, wiggling against my back.  He’s trying to roll over and he’s so close to me he can’t quite make the turn.  I scooch over a bit and listen to his funny grunts and sighs as he settles back to sleep.  He’s so close I can feel his little breaths through my shirt.   

I wonder what time it is.  There’s only one tiny window in this huge, awkward bedroom, along the north wall.  It’s still dark in the room, and I can see a slice of trees from my mattress on the floor.  Maybe sixish?  I think I heard Scott leave for work already.  Now that I’m sleeping better he doesn’t always wake me up when he bangs his way out the door.  My alarm hasn’t gone off yet, so I could still doze a bit more…  BZZ!  Beepbeepbeepbeep!  BZZ!  Beepbeepbeepbeep!   Damn.  The alarm on my phone nearly vibrates off the night table. TO DO: FIND ALARM TONE THAT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE A PUNCH IN THE FACE.  It’s 7:00 then.  Ronan will be up soon.  We’re attempting a road trip with our friends today, headed to the next town over to get a flu shot booster for the baby and play at the park while this warmish weather holds.  Four kids three and under.   What a circus.

Ronan stumbles in quietly, holding his yellow Nalgene sippy bottle and smiling angelically.  TO DO: STERILIZE RONAN’S NALGENE.  What a gorgeous child he is, all fair skin and eyelashes and dark, warm eyes.  I lift my side of the covers and he clambers in, elbowing my chest and knocking me in the chin with the back of his head.  He sighs contentedly, then (wait for it, wait for it…), “Well?  Should we go have some lunch?”  He asks me this every morning. 

 “Mmm hmm,” I manage groggily.  “What should we have?  Yogurt and fruit?  Toast and eggs?”

“Ummmm, I want yogurt.”  TO DO:  ADD YOGURT TO GROCERY LIST.  “And a orange.  But you have to peel it a lot a lot a lot, like yours.  And fruit.  And one of my mint candies.”

“No candies for breakfast.  And oranges are fruits.  But you can peel one; you know how.” 

“Okay.  Ready?”  He is steadily gaining volume.  Even his whispers are just hoarse shouts.  The baby stirs behind me and his breathing quickens.  He’s awake.  No chance of getting breakfast started without him, then. 

“Do you want some jammie pants, Mama?”  Oy, is my wardrobe that predictable?  I guess it is: roll out of bed into jammies or yoga pants and rock those until… bedtime?  Or on the rare occasion we have an engagement, I’ll shower after Merrin mashes his breakfast into my arms and pants.  TO DO: CALL MOM TO ASK WHAT REAL PEOPLE WEAR EVERY DAY.   

“Yep.  Thanks.  Let’s go to the kitchen, then.”  Our little parade shuffles past the living room where dinosaurs and matchbox cars seem to have multiplied overnight.  We swerve around the baby jumper and behind the loveseat piled with unfolded clean laundry.  Or at least it was clean until Ronan tried to make a fort in it after dinner last night.  Probably I will still call it clean so I don’t have to wash it again.  TO DO: FOLD CLEANSIH LAUNDRY.  The laundry, my word.  I can see piles (one pile, now, since they’ve all oozed together) eeking out the bathroom door.  I should move what’s in the washer to the dryer, before it gets all mildew and stinky.  TO DO:  60 LOADS LAUNDRY.  I flip on the bathroom light and stomp across the pile to the dryer where I’ve spread a blanket for changing the baby.    How can one tiny human produce so much pee in one night? 

“Uh oh.  Mama, I had a accident.  Oopsie.  Mama.  Mama, I had a—“ 

“I heard you, bud.  What happened?”  I turn around toward the toilet where Ronan is standing on his potty stool, pants down, aimed in the general direction of the toilet but looking down over his knees to the little puddle at his feet.  “Did you pee in your pants?” 

He shakes his head.  “Just a little bit right there, uh oh.”

 “It’s okay.  We’ll clean it up.”  I zip up the baby’s fleece footy-jammies over his clean diaper and set him on the rug, trying not to think about how unsanitary the bathroom rug must be.  TO DO: PRESSURE WASH BATHROOM RUG.  At least there, if he tips over, his head will hit a nice squishy pile of dirty t-shirts. 

“Any in your pants?” I ask as I pick Ronan up off the stool and examine the mess. 

“No, just my foots,” he says, dangling from my arm.  Warm washcloth for the boy, spray cleaner for the stool.  And the floor.  And the seat?!  And does anyone ever flush around here?  No wonder my bathroom smells like a campground vault toilet.  TO DO: CLEAN TOILET AND SURROUNDING 3-BLOCK RADIUS.

We finally make it back to the kitchen, where I plunk the baby in his clip-on high chair and Ronan scrambles up a wooden stool.  “Yogurt?” I ask.  I immediately feel guilty for offering.  One container of raspberry Noosa has 27 grams of sugar, over the daily “safe” limit for an adult.  That’s a lot of sugar for a three-year-old. Trouble is, I watched “Fed Up” after stocking up on delicious yogurt, and now I know that each heavenly bite is one step closer to diabetes.  Also, tooth decay.   Maybe I’ll dilute it with plain yogurt.  That would be better.  And how much of the sugar in yogurt is lactose and not evaporated cane juice, anyway?  Katie Couric said nothing about lactose. TO DO: RESEARCH LACTOSE AND DAILY SUGAR LIMIT FOR PRESCHOOLERS.  I stir the white plain yogurt into the pink and slide the bowl across the counter.  Now the baby, who has his angry potato face on and is slapping the counter.  Demands, demands.  I rifle through the fridge and find a half-empty pouch of sweet potato and apple puree.  I was hoping to save these for traveling and use the homemade purees at home, but I left Scott alone with the kids last night while I ran to the grocery store and he swore he couldn’t find the little cubes of puree in the freezer.  Oh well. TO DO:  ORGANIZE FREEZER.  I squirt the remainder into a bowl and add his oatmeal, then search the counter for the glass measuring bowl of hot water.  It isn’t there, because I haven’t prepared it, because I was waiting for the demands to stop so I could drink my coffee in peace.  Ha!  Water, microwave, 3 minutes, start.  CafĂ© Verona in the Aero Press.  Boiled egg, toast.  TO DO: BAKE DELICIOUS PALEO MINI FRITTATAS AND EAT THEM ALL IN TWO DAYS AND GO BACK TO TOAST.

We’re going to picnic in the park, which sounds fun but really is a self-preservation move, because neither one of us can imagine juggling all these kids in a restaurant.  I check the package of whole-wheat tortillas I thawed last night.  YEEEUFF!  Smells like… like… like I probably shouldn’t eat tortillas I bought one child, one house ago.  Moving on, then.  I spread peanut butter on regular tortillas, shred some carrots, spoon oatmeal in the baby’s mouth, reprimand Ronan for whacking Merrin while they’re both supposed to be eating, sip coffee.  Repeat.  Repeat.  My phone bings: a text.  I hope it’s not Monica telling me she can’t go after all.  Or maybe I hope it a little, because then I wouldn’t have to put on pants today.  But it’s Megan, giving me an update on Project Conception: it’s day 17 since she charted an ovulation and still no period.  Marvelous news!  Maybe this is it!  We discuss the merits of early detection pregnancy tests, she with full sentences and a zillion exclamation marks, me with one-liners and no prepositions.   A screen shot of her EKG-esque Kindara fertility chart appears.  Okay, so here’s the ovulation dip, here’s the temperature rise, and are those little hearts what I think they are?  Man.  I know they’re trying to make a baby, but WOW…  TO DO: DELETE PIC FROM MEGAN BEFORE SCOTT SEES IT.  Because, wow.

I stuff the tortilla wraps in sandwich bags and hunt around for something else to add.  A boiled egg?  A bag of almonds?  Some clementines?  TO DO: SIGN UP FOR NATUREBOX SO OUR SNACKS STOP SUCKING, THEN BACK OUT AGAIN BECAUSE NATUREBOX IS STUPID EXPENSIVE.  I wonder what kind of lunch Monica is packing, and if my kid is going to be all up in her business scrounging for better snacks.  Ronan can sniff out fruit snacks a mile away, no joke, and then he helicopters around whoever is eating them like a park squirrel, waiting. 

Holy mother of Moses, the time!  How can someone so offended by tardiness in other people be so chronically late?  I’m such a hypocrite.  TO DO:  RESEARCH HYPNOSIS FOR PUNCTUALITY.  I leave the boys at the kitchen island and head for the bathroom. 

Standing on the laundry pile (I hope this towel is just shower-water damp…), I peer into the tooth-paste spattered mirror.  Hair?  Cleanish.  Bedhead?  Mild to moderate.  I use a pair of bobby pins to secure my bangs out of my eyes.  My hair is starting to grow back, and the fine baby hairs around my hairline make everything lay all wonky.  The long bangs stick straight out behind the pins like a rooster tail.  TO DO: MAKE HAIRCUT APPOINTMENT WITH QUALIFIED ROOSTER GROOMER.  I tug a few pieces forward, fluff my dark waves.  Beachy waves or slept-on-my-wet-hair waves?  Same thing, as far as I’m concerned.  Undereye circles?  Present.  Ever-present.  Eyebrows?  One.  Gah!  At least the burn is gone, the only remaining evidence that I had searched “homemade sugar wax recipe” on Pinterest.  Mistake.  I pat my hair into a ponytail, brush on some concealer. TO DO: RESEARCH CONCEALER THAT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE PEPPER SPRAY WHEN YOU GET IT IN YOUR EYES. 

“Mama, watch this!”  Ronan is scooping yogurt from his bowl and poking the spoon into his eye, mimicking his brother.  It’s funny when Merrin does it, wobbling his baby spoon toward his open mouth and missing, but Ronan thinks it’s just the scoop and poke that’s funny.  “Yogurt goes in your mouth, please.  You’re making a huge mess.”  Another washcloth, then, to mop the two most yogurt, beautiful faces.

Okay.  Pants for me.  Pants for Ronan.  Pants for Merrin after I change his third diaper of the morning.  Everybody wearing a shirt?  Yep.  I scrub the baby slobber off the shoulders of my hoodie and declare it clean.  TO DO: 61 LOADS LAUNDRY.  The diaper bag is hanging on a doorknob in the bedroom, still empty from its recent washing.  It turns out that Ziplocs, while water impermeable, are not stink impermeable, and when your kid has an accident at the Super Bowl party and you jam his wet clothes into a Ziploc (feeling righteous that you packed a Ziploc, preparing for this very possibility) and then forget said Ziploc in the diaper bag for a week, everything in the bag will reek of old piss.  Forehead slap.  I feel around the layers of the bag, an old North Face backpack from my college days.  Still damp.  (From the washing, not from my college days.)  Damn.  I grab an oversized purse from the coatrack instead and jam in: 23 diapers, one full set of clothes for each boy, a bag of wipes, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, sunscreen, 2 100 calorie packs of almonds, a crinkly baby toy, my wallet, sunglasses, and a book.  I am congratulating myself on my minimalist pack job when I realize the bag is threatening to burst.  I remove the book.

Time:  8:32.  I told Monica we should leave at 9:00.  She lives about a block away, so if we leave by 8:40 we should have time to drive half a block to her house, unhook the carseats, transfer all the business to her Suburban, reinstall the carseats, panic over forgotten lunches, return to house to retrieve forgotten lunches, and make it on the road by 9:15.  Ok.  I got this.

“Is this the wrong feet, Mama?”  Ronan is standing by the door, peering down at his dinosaur snow boots that are toe-out on the floor in front of him. 

“Yes, dear.  Switch ‘em.”  I am stuffing Merrin’s chubby arms into jacket sleeves.  TO DO:  EXCAVATE 18 MONTH BABY CLOTHES FOR THIS ENORMOUS BABY.  I zip the jacket, search for a hat.

“Is THIS the wrong feet, Mama?”  He has the toes in, now. 

“No, that’s the right feet.  Wait, maybe we should wear tennies today?  It don’t want you to get hot in your boots.  Find your tennies.”

“I can’t do it!” I hear some serious whinge creep into his voice.

“You get them started and I will help you.  Open the straps.”  He stands on one foot and hooks his airborn toes into a shoe, then kicks his foot into the ground in an attempt to jam it on. 

“I need helllllllllp!”  His tone nearly makes my blood boil.  Apparently this mockery of shoe application is really getting to him.

“I said I would help you!  Take a deep breath; stop making that awful noise.”  I hoist him up onto the storage chest.  TO DO: RESEARCH 10-MINUTE CORE WORKOUT VIDEOS.  I cram the shoes on and open the door.  “Okay, let’s load up.  Go to your door.”  In my mind, he walks to his side of the pickup and waits patiently while I wrestle the baby’s carseat into the opposite door.  In reality, he’s picking up sticks in the driveway and pretending to shoot turkeys off the neighbors’ roof.  “Okay, no more shooting.  Time to go.  Should we bring your Strider?”

“I wanna ride my bike to Monica’s!”  The “gun” is forgotten and he’s picking up his orange balance bike from the patio.  TO DO: CLEAN THE COOLER THAT’S BEEN ON THE PATIO FOR 6 WEEKS.  He cruises it out to the driveway, legs a blur of motion like a pull-behind duck. 

I sigh.  “Ok.  Go ahead.  You know where she lives.”  There’s no real street between our houses.  I start the pickup and watch in my rearview mirror as he zooms down the drive and then stops, twisting around on his seat and waving me to come on.  I back up and follow him, an orange zigzag on our gravel lane, and we finish the start of the day.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Have You Heard About Kindara?

You guys.  I'm still here, I swear.  I had a baby.  Things got crazy.  But I've been thinking about you all, and amassing quite a pile of things I'm dying to tell you.  I'll tell you all about the baby thing later, but suffice it to say it was awesome, he is awesome, we are awesome.  He's sleeping right now, and Lamb is at preschool, so I've got about seven minutes in heaven of writing time to ask you about this:

Have you heard about Kindara?  My lady-friends have been telling me all about it, and how amazing it is.  It's an app designed to help you use the fertility awareness method (FAM) of family planning to either conceive or avoid pregnancy, depending on your goal.  Kindara, paired with a fancy basal body temperature thermometer (called Wink) synced to the app, essentially give you a roadmap of your menstrual cycle.  You can use this info to determine when you're most likely to get pregnant (so you can get busy those days or avoid getting busy, depending on what you're after) or to help you better understand your body to deal with hormone-related issues.  FAM has always seemed like a non-option to me because it was such in inexact science; Kindara takes out the guesswork and offers what seems like a sound, non-hormonal birth control option based on your own body data.  They say when used correctly, FAM is 99.4% effective for avoiding pregnancy.  Hunh! 

Ladies, have you heard of Kindara?  Have you used it?  What say ye?  Any thoughts on FAM?