Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weird Rash, New Daycare and Some Recipes

Why is it that your child will be moping around the house, glued to you, whimpering, sniffling, moaning with unhappiness due to illness, but the moment you get to the walk-in clinic, that same child jumps out of the stroller and starts pushing it around the waiting room like it's the best toy ever?

If it wasn't for that awful rash all over his body, they might have kicked us out for faking.

At some point last year, Ben had the same rash. We couldn't find a doctor who could tell us what it was. They just said it was probably viral, not contagious and would go away on its own eventually. FYI: the rash is red, slightly bumpy, everywhere, but mostly on the heat zones of his torso. It doesn't seem to bother him, and it doesn't itch.

The only reason we took him in yesterday was that he had been running a moderate fever all night and was acting very miserable. Because they are thorough, they tested for strep and did a blood draw to test for measles, though he'd been immunized. We won't get the results back on the measles for a couple of days. The best guess the kind doctor could give us is that it was a delayed reaction to the pulmicort that he's been on for three weeks.

Last night, after Ben had napped for most of the day and was finally starting to act a little perky, we threw him into a lukewarm bath to wash him up. And it dawned on Chester... we figured out what the rash was from the last time this happened when a few days after the rash appeared, Ben cut four new teeth at one time. It's a freaking teething rash, and we were worried about the measles.

Though a teething rash as extensive as Ben's is rare, it's happened to him before, and it explains all of his symptoms. The poor appetite, the fever, the fussiness. And of course it explains why he would shriek with pain when he'd chew on pineapple. The acid would hit his raw gums and he'd flip out.

We've decided that for the next baby, we will write down when the baby is sick, what the symptoms are, and what eventually explains it. That way we'll know and not waste the time of the nice people at the walk-in clinic. We had recognized Ben's rash, but we didn't really remember what it was from. Ugh. We'll learn eventually.

You can imagine our anxiety this morning as we tried to explain to our new daycare lady that the rash IS NOT contagious and that Ben is healthy enough to be at her house. He looks awful, and though he's acting cheerful and goofy and wonderful, one glimpse of that awful rash still sends us into a bit of a panic, and we've been looking at it for more than 36 hours now.

That brings me to my next topic. Ben's new daycare. Her name is Amber. She's a few years older than I am, and she lives in a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood that manages to be just five minutes from downtown, but still kind of on the outskirts of town so there's not a lot of traffic.

Last week was his first week with her, and he loved it. Amber says that he fits in well with her crew. The kids are nicer at her house.She says that everyone plays together well, and Ben seemed very happy to interact and play with the other kids. Thank goodness.

When we dropped him off this morning, he ran right up to her for a hug. We're all very pleased with Amber, Chester especially. To him, it feels more natural to leave Ben with someone who is allowed to really bond with him and nurture him. At the group center, there had to be more of a professional wall between the teachers and the kids since the teachers weren't always the same and there were more kids. In contrast, Amber is able to really get to know Ben and speak lovingly and glowingly about how his day was, how he's adjusting, what a joy he was, how much she loves his little smirk when he's trying not to smile.

Of course, that same closeness is what makes me more jealous. Family daycare feels more like a mother replacement because it mimics more closely what Ben would experience at his own house if we had more children. And watching him thrive at the new daycare makes me really anxious for the summer to be over so the next phase of our life can start: when I quit my job to stay home with the children.

In other news: I made a chili in the slow cooker yesterday. It was AMAZING. Three cans of dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed. Three cans of diced tomatoes, two of which were sweet onion flavored, undrained. Two cans of tomato sauce. One chopped green pepper. One vidalia onion chopped up and sauteed with a pound and a half of ground beef. I started it around seven thirty, and by noon, the whole house was infused with this delicious aroma. After adding a whole bunch of chili powder and black pepper, it was perfect. I served it with chunks of cheddar cheese over macaroni.

At lunch today, I'm throwing together another recipe to have in the cooker while we finish our workday. Cranberry chicken barbecue. It calls for a can of whole cranberry sauce, a cup of barbecue sauce and chopped onion. You layer that in the cooker with chicken breast (we use skinless, boneless), and let it cook. I bet it will taste wonderful. I've made a cranberry chicken before, baked in the oven, but never with barbecue sauce in a slow cooker. I think I'll like it a lot.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Meme plus Life Update

A meme I found on Allie's blog (http://curvatude.blogspot.com). I'm not tagging anyone for it because I don't want to annoy the crap out of people. I've included an update on my personal life at the bottom.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was 16. Yikes. I was getting ready to pass my driver's test. I was dating... someone. I think it was my ex-boyfriend who I kept going back to at least once a year. He was getting ready to graduate high school. I was being young and insane... although that was the summer that I went to the local tech school to get my nursing assistant certification, making me the youngest person to ever graduate from the program. I was really good at that job. While I was going to school, I was working at a local 3-in-1 fast food restaurant that had a pizza parlor, sub shop, and frozen custard counter. Ah, the memories.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
A year ago today I was being a new mommy to a small baby named Ben. He was five months old and very charming. I don't think we did anything special for Memorial Day weekend, although we may have driven up north to see my parents.

Five snacks you enjoy
1. Cheddar cheese chunks
2. Apples/oranges/bananas
3. Soft pretzels with nacho cheese
4. Ritz crackers
5. Chewy granola bars

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to
1. Elmo by Holly McNarland
2. The Blower's Daughter by Damien Rice
3. London Rain by Heather Nova
4. Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung
5. Hold On by Sarah McLachlan

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire
1. Pay off ALL of our debt, including the mortgage
2. Pay off my siblings' mortgages
3. Set aside a trust fund for the kids
4. Invest, invest, invest
5. Go on a couple of vacations

Five bad habits
1. Picking my nose in private
2. Picking at the dry skin on my lips
3. Picking at my face while I'm falling asleep (can you see the trend?)
4. Swearing at work
5. Not caring if the car is a pig pen

Five things you like doing
1. Tickling Ben
2. Cuddling with my husband
3. Gardening
4. Singing along to music in the car but only in goofy voices
5. Painting pottery

Five things you would never wear again
1. Shorts (it's a vanity thing)
2. Crocs
3. Really high heels (my husband is a quarter inch taller than me)
4. Sequins
5. Hemp necklaces

Five favorite toys
1. Laptop
2. Sandcastle equipment
3. Canoes and rowboats
4. TV remote
5. Ben is the best toy there is.

Personal Update: I had a baby checkup on Tuesday. My doctor, bless her, still couldn't get a reading on the heartbeat. Sure, that's not great, but the official party line is that we're not worried since I've felt the baby kick. Of course that just makes me freak out and think that maybe I didn't feel the baby kick after all. But anyway. I have another appointment near the end of June when I'll be 18 weeks and really showing, and we'll be scheduling the anatomy ultrasound at that appointment.

I really didn't want to go out of town this weekend. I hate traveling when I know the roads are going to be packed. Makes me feel like a lemming. But my dad called last night to talk to Chester. Dad had taken out the cable modem to replace it, and he couldn't get it back together again. Go figure. I have no idea why he tried to do it himself. Now we're driving up to Minocqua tomorrow to see my parents and fix the computer so my mom can get back online again. She's housebound because of her knee (replaced about a month ago). She can't drive or walk anywhere without a cane. She hasn't seen Ben in a month, so that will be nice. I'm just not looking forward to the hour and fifteen minute drive it takes to get there, which will probably take about two hours because of the traffic.

Have a fantastic weekend everybody! I don't know if I'll post again until I get back to work on Tuesday. We'll have to see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eight Random Facts, A Meme

Eight random facts about me? Thanks, Mary Tsao at momwrites.blogspot.com, for tagging me. Really. Thanks a lot. :)

1. I don't really like chocolate all that much. I know it makes me different from a lot of women, but I really only get chocolate cravings a few times a year.
2. I forget to prompt Ben to brush his teeth every night. It's a problem, but I'm just glad he hasn't suffered from horrible bad breath yet. We are in the process of putting up reminder signs around the house. This means that we've talked about putting up signs, but we haven't gotten around to it yet.
3. Lilacs are my favorite part of living in Wausau, WI. They're all over the city, and I love this time of year when they bloom. I find the smell to be heavenly, and I think the precious little petals are adorable.
4. I have hairy toes, and I don't like shaving them.
5. I once broke up with a guy because his penis was too small. The reason that I told him? He was too shallow. The irony is obvious.
6. My most debilitating phobia is getting the mail. This is especially true when our bank account is, shall we say, lacking. I have gone for almost two weeks, letting it pile up in there. But that's not fair to the mail carrier who has to figure out creative ways of stuffing more in there. So I try to tell myself that I can just remove the mail without looking at it, place it on a table somewhere and ignore it until I feel strong enough to go through it. It's kind of silly now that the majority of our bills are up-to-date. We only have two outstanding accounts, and they are more likely to call me than send me another notice. It comes from years of living under a huge pile of huge debt with very little income. I feel guilty receiving bills for services rendered/products provided and knowing that I can't pay them immediately in full. I've tried to pass the chore off to my husband, but he frequently forgets, and I have to remind him, which is something I avoid doing because it's almost as bad as having to get it myself.
7. I totaled a car when I was 16 because I blacked out. I was under a lot of stress psychologically, and my medication hadn't quite kicked in yet. I simply drove off the road, going about 25 mph, and ran right into a tree. My parents were out of town, and I was using my mother's car. My new kitten, Adira, was in the car with me. She was quite the hit at the ER. While I was waiting for emergency vehicles, I paced back and forth on the road on two dislocated knees. For the record, that's a bad idea. I received a ticket for inattentive driving, but I never told my psychiatrist or my doctor what really happened. I lied and said I was attending to my kitten, who wasn't in her car carrier at the time.
8. I hate nail polish. Passionately.

Eight people to tag? This is impossible for me since I know a lot of the people on Mary's 8. Too much overlap. So I'll double tag some people. And my linky thing doesn't work for some crazy-ass reason, so I've included the address after the name.

Lisa at Midwestern Mommy http://mylifeasacliche.blogspot.com/
Allie at Curves with Attitude http://www.curvatude.blogspot.com/
Mothergoosemouse http://www.mothergoosemouse.com/
Amandad at Tumble Dry http://lifewithbriar.blogspot.com/
Wisconsin Mommy http://wisconsinmommy.blogspot.com/
Daisy at Compost Happens http://compostermom.blogspot.com/
Dana of The Dana Files http://thedanafiles.com/
A Mom's Life http://candacej73.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cooking Extravaganza, Diaperless Ben is a Bad Idea

I did nothing more exciting then cook all weekend long. Made a spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, and a chicken casserole as well as a couple of sides. Our fridge is stocked for the week. Yay! We're on a tight budget until we get paid on Friday, so I figured I might as well flex my culinary skills, which, as it turns out, doesn't amount to much.

I did use a new meatloaf recipe. It calls for Lipton's Onion Soup mix (the kind you can mix with sour cream for an easy chip dip). Hopefully it doesn't suck. I had to call my mom to have her give me explicit, step-by-step instruction on the chicken casserole. It's such a simple recipe, I felt a little like an idiot for not remembering. Layer chicken, cooked stuffing, cream of mushroom soup (diluted with a bit of milk) in casserole dish. Put in the oven. Done. Ben absolutely went wild over it, but then again, he found a week-old french fry on the floor by the garbage can and was chewing on that for a while before I noticed. He loved that too.

There are certain staples that I've been slowly learning to keep in the house.

A bag of potatoes. They were in a cabinet for a month and were a little wrinkly, but still firm and white on the inside. I made an American Fries dish Saturday morning utilizing a shake-n-microwave packet I had picked up a while ago. So easy. Yesterday I cut up about six potatoes and boiled them as a side dish for the meatloaf.

Cream of mushroom and cream of celery soups. Also have to add cream of chicken to this list. It was in a lot of recipes I looked at yesterday. Easy to make a quick casserole.
Diced tomatoes. Easy to add to the casseroles, but also a nice addition to a cheap, store-bought spaghetti sauce.
Box of Stuffing. Casserole addition, but also an easy side for grilled chicken.
Long-grain rice. Ditto, but also a nice base for a stroganoff or a thick chili.
Frozen mixed vegetables. Easy casserole addition to add some color and extra flavor, but also a healthy side to pretty much anything. If you can't stand the healthiness, add cheese.
Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Seriously. How boring would a meatloaf be with out Worcestershire sauce?
Onion soup mix. Great for roasts in a slow cooker, but I'm also going to start using it as an addition to mashed potatoes.
Saltines. Chester had to run to the store to pick these up. We didn't have a filler for the meatloaf. No oatmeal, no crackers. It was embarrassing. Almost considered goldfish crackers.
An onion or two. Granted, we don't have any in the house, but I really wished we had a couple this weekend.

We don't buy meat until we know we'll be cooking it right away. I'm not very good at cooking with frozen meats because I can never get them to thaw properly. We bought about six pounds of ground beef on Saturday and browned about a third of it for spaghetti sauce, saved a third for hamburgers, and used the rest for the meatloaf. I can't figure out a way to freeze ground beef without freezer burn.

Maybe A Cute Ben Thing:
Ben had over ten code browns over the weekend. I think it's because we started feeding him more vegetables and cutting down on his milk consumption (the doctor's idea). If we didn't catch them right away, he would develop of bleeding, oozing rash. He spent a lot of time out of the diaper because of that... he'd just squat in the living room over and over again and scream because his butt hurt so much. In other news, I thought Chester had put the diaper back on before he went outside to mow yesterday. I was in the living room, and Ben was playing in the dining room. I heard some splashing, but I figured he had just opened his sippy cup. Turns out no... He had peed on the floor and then splashed in it for a while. Oh God.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Once Upon A Family. Baby Kicks.

Once upon a time, Mommy lived by herself in a nice-sized apartment with one and then two cats. She loved reading books, listening to books on tape, watching old movies, and cross-stitching.

Mommy went to school for a while and studied technical writing and journalism, and she worked at the school newspaper. She loved being the boss, and she loved having her own office. Life became really busy and noisy, so Mommy changed her and decided to find a different job that would make her happier.

So Mommy started to take care of a baby girl named Claire. She was so tiny and cute! Mommy drove thirty-five minutes every day to see Claire, but she didn't mind. It was so wonderful to spend the day caring for the needs of a little baby. Mommy would sing to Claire, dance with Claire, read to Claire, and give Claire hugs.

While Mommy was with Claire, she moved from the apartment by the university to an apartment in a different city to be nearer to Claire and her family. But Claire didn't stay a baby, and eventually, she started to go to a school for toddlers so she could be around other kids. Mommy was sad, but she still saw Claire three days a week. But Claire grew up even more, and Claire's mommy and daddy decided that Claire should be at the school all week long, and Mommy wouldn't need to take care of Claire anymore. That made Mommy very sad indeed.

Sometimes sad things happen to people, and they spend a lot of time being sad and unhappy. Mommy was no different. She was sad, but she also knew that life is full of blessings and miracles. Very soon after she stopped taking care of Claire, Mommy got a different job making other people's writing and designs prettier by taking out all of the mistakes. The miracle was that the new job made her just as happy as she was with Claire, but in a different way.

Mommy was still living by herself in a nice-size apartment with two cats. She still loved reading books, listening to books on tape, watching old movies and cross-stitching. But Mommy started to feel lonely. So Mommy went on the internet and made an effort to find Mr. Wonderful. After a not-very-long search, she found someone very special who loved Mommy very much, who also wanted a family, and who wanted to have a simple, happy life with Mommy.

Mommy and Daddy were married, and they wanted to start their family right away. They got their wish. Very soon, Mommy started to get a very big belly. Her belly grew so big because Baby Ben was inside! After Christmas, Ben was born and came out of Mommy's belly five weeks earlier than expected. But it was just the right time, and Mommy and Daddy finally got to hold and cuddle and kiss Baby Ben.

That little baby grew big, started to crawl, and then walk, and then run! Mommy and Daddy loved playing with Ben and having him around. They loved his smile and the funny faces he would make. And they decided that Ben might like to have another kid in the house, so Mommy's belly started to grow very big again. Another baby was on the way to join the happy family!

This morning while Chester was still in the shower, I sat on the kitchen floor with Ben and showed him the new magnetic puzzle I bought him earlier this week. The magnets are pictures of heavy trucks like bull dozers, zambonis, cement mixers, etc. It was so wonderful to be there with him and watching him discover new things. It gave me a glimpse as to what my life will be like when I'm home with him starting this fall. He was very serious and careful with the pieces... studying them and gently putting them on the fridge. He even helped me take them down and put them back in the box. It was a little piece of heaven, just for me.

Like yesterday, when I pulled my chair up to the keyboard at work. Little Baby gave me a big old kick, and I was startled and squealed a little bit. I've felt the quickening before, starting last week, but that was the first movement that wasn't just a flutter. I got a couple more kicks throughout the day, and it was marvelous. Like my own special gift. Something I get to experience before anybody else. It'll be a couple more months before Chester will be able to feel the kicks from the outside, so for now, I will continue to feel very special and get a flush of excitement when I feel this new little life grow inside. I've already been having fantasies of how wonderful it will be to hold a newborn in my arms again.

We never received any feedback from the center's director about our break-up letter. One of the teachers tried to talk us out of it by saying that they were planning on hiring more teachers for the Under Two room so Ben and the other kids his age would have the opportunity to get outside and play. Even so, they'd still be stuck for most of the day in that small room that doesn't have space for a table and chairs, the cots, the play equipment. I told that teacher that it would be a nice transition for him to go to a home daycare for the summer since he'll have to be staying home with me in the fall anyway. She could understand that, but she couldn't understand how disturbing it was to us that the center was going through such an upheaval.

Anyway. Tomorrow will be his last day, and I'm sure I'll cry a lot when dropping him off and picking him back up for the last time. We've grown so close to his teachers, and the center has been such a big part of his life. Ben won't understand why Mommy is crying because he's too young to understand he won't be going back there. Oh well.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

We met with Amber on Friday after work. We were immediately at home in our house, and Ben got right to work with interacting with the other toddlers and playing with her toys. It's safe to say we both fell in love. Chester reserved the right to "sleep on it" and not make a decision right away, but within fifteen minutes of meeting her, he gave me a private nod.

Although I wrote a rough draft of our break-up letter with Ben's current daycare center, it's admittedly very snarky and kind of mean in parts. The responses I got from people who I let read it were "Cheryl!", "You are THE woman," and "When you get mad, you really get mad." Although it was an honest letter, I didn't think it was in Ben's best interest to have the center director know how we really feel during his last week there. Although his teachers wouldn't let it affect how they treat him, I wouldn't put it past the director. She's not the warmest person on the planet, and she's made some bad decisions in the last couple weeks that we personally know have bitten her in the butt and cost her more money than she was probably prepared to lose. (Long story, but we know some of the other parents at the other center that closed had some rough partings with her and that center).

For your reading enjoyment, I offer the final draft of my break-up letter. I needed it to be firm enough that the director wouldn't make a huge deal over us not giving the required two-week notice. If she makes a stink, I'm prepared to contact my nice lawyer friend to back me up... but I hope to take care of the situation on my own. I also wanted to make it clear that the only reason we're leaving is because of the restructuring she has planned for next week.

So here you go:

Dear Director's Name, of Center's Name,

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that this will be Ben’s last week at your center. His last day will be May 18, 2007.

Due to the planned changes occurring at the center after this week, we feel that Ben would find better quality of care elsewhere. Because of the announced depreciation in value of the care that Ben would be receiving, I do not feel it is appropriate to give a two-week notice, though in an ideal world, we would have had time to do so to ease the transition for Ben and his teachers. You may feel that he would be receiving the same high quality of care, but we simply do not.

I feel that combining Infants 1 & Infants 2 into one small room will not benefit the children in your care in any way. Not only will Ben not be involved in the age-appropriate activities like group play for which there was ample room in Infants 2, he will also not be able to go to the park daily to exercise, play and explore. He’s a rambunctious toddler already, and I fear that he would have a hard time adjusting to having to be so cautious about stepping on the small babies and being quiet during their more frequent naptimes.

We have loved Infants 2, its teachers, and its programs. Having Ben at your center up to this point has greatly enhanced our lives. We’ve been able to encourage Ben to advance to a higher level of development than we see in other children his age. For instance, he’s now comfortable eating at a table instead of in a highchair, and since he was used to sleeping on a cot at the center, we were able to transition him out of his crib and into a big boy bed already. Both of those skills that he learned in Infants 2 will no longer be encouraged, and that’s a shame.

To clarify, it’s not the teachers at all. We’ve gotten to know and love the daytime teachers in both Infants 1 and 2. After all, Ben has been with the center since he was just two months old. We don’t feel the teachers will have the opportunity in the new Under Two plan to offer the same level of care that they are used to providing.

I understand that you need to restructure in order to stay afloat. For whatever reason, your business plan hasn’t worked. I wish you well in the future, but please understand that the other children and their parents who are caught in this awkward backward transition in the disbanding of Infants 2 have my sympathy.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother Am I?

For most of my life, since I was about 11, I've been called "motherly" and "nurturing." I was always the Mama Hen in my group of friends. Why? I'd tell it like it was, stand by your side when you're sad or in trouble, live my life openly and authentically, and generally be a gigantic fount of comfort and generosity.

In college, my apartment was the gathering spot for people on their work breaks, people who need a meal (even if I only had Ramen to ofer), people who had a bad day, people who just wanted to relax and escape from the crazy drama of the outside world. They were my friends, and I was very loyal to them.

Now that I'm actually a mom, I get to look back and see how those traits that branded me as a "Mamma" actually relate to parenthood. And the answer is... they relate more than I thought.

I'm a mom newbie in that my son is only a year and a half. But I've gotten the gist of the whole motherhood thing in little lessons every day. I've compiled a list of things that I feel make me a mother.

1. My life is all wrapped up in my child. He's the center of my existence. Even though I have a life away from him, he's still what my thoughts and emotions default to.

2. I'm good at making him feel good about himself. Maybe it's because I'm a total goofball at heart, maybe it's because I've always enjoyed the antics of children, but Ben gets lots of attention and praise and encouragement every day. Perhaps it's why he's such a confident, curious, outgoing kid. He's had his "mommy" stages where he seems to be made of glue when he's around me, but it's never stopped him from interacting with his environment and new people we meet.

3. I've made sacrifices for my child (and my current fetus). A month before I got married and started getting freaky with my dear husband, I quit smoking. Sure, hubby didn't want me to smoke, but I mostly did it for the unborn kids in our plan. I've stayed smoke free, and I've made an effort to stay off of anti-depressants while I'm pregnant (even though I'm totally hormonal and moody).

4. My face lights up everytime I see my child. He really is my delight, and my whole internal focus has shifted. I'm constantly amazed at the new things he's learning, the cute facial expressions he adopts, and the general Ben-ness of it all. Some people get psychicly turned on by music, movies, religion, literature. For me, it's my child.

5. I'm constantly reevaluating every decision we make concerning his upbringing. Since I'm convinced that what worked last week for this changing toddler may not work again, I have to be on my toes and searching for the right fit for Ben. The rules of what is permissable change to allow him space to grow and explore.

6. I seriously have had panic attacks at the thought of Ben experiencing a broken heart. I can't stand the idea of other children picking on him, or the sadness he will feel when we change daycare providers and no longer sees his favorite teachers. I am very protective of his sweet, sensitive spirit, and the mother bear in me rears up and growls when anyone would dare to tamper with his joy and goodwill.

7. I have no plans to hide the truth of my past from my son. I've done some bad things in the past, and I've made some bad decisions. When the time comes to talk to him about the tough subjects like sex, drugs, and alcohol, I'll be sharing my experiences with him rather than just preaching at him. He'll know right from wrong, but he'll also know both the dramatic and subtle consequences for bad choices. I could take the easy route and just tell him the moral truths (or I could just hope he gets all the moral training from school), but I think I'll be more of a mother if I let him learn from my mistakes.

8. I make judgments about how other parents raise their kids, but I sympathize with them at the same time. Maybe it's the single mother I work with who has three young boys at home but who chooses to go out drinking and dancing a couple nights a week. Maybe it's the mother I see berating her kids and calling them losers and dumb****s. I'm not going to apologize for being all "sanctimommy" on their asses. Instead, I'm going to use their examples to highlight to myself why I treat my son the way I do. Being a mom means that motherhood comes before the party life, even though it's important to kick back and relax once in a while. Being a mom means that it's my job to lift my children up, not tear them down. There will be enough mean people in their lives who will take it upon themselves to do that. If they annoy me or misbehave, I'll call them on it and tell them they're being naughty or disrespectiful, but I will not call them names. "Brat" will never be a pet name for my child.

9. I look forward to finding out what my children will do with their lives. Ben has such a way with people, such a tender spirit and expressive personality. How will that play out when he's older? What traits and characteristics will I discover about this little peanut who is still nestled in my womb, growing and squirming? I think part of being a mother is embracing the possibilities, and enjoying the daily opportunities for wonder and joy. My son is a 22 pound enigma, and every day I'll get to learn something more about him.

10. I am now a mother because I finally starting to understand all of what my mother had to go through, what she still goes through. Her heart is still wrapped up in her children, though we're all grown and starting families of our own. My mother's heart recognizes hers. And my mother's heart also recognizes the quiet sensitivity of the other mothers I encounter everyday, be it online or in real life.

I'd love to do a link callout to Parent Blogger Network and Light Iris, but my links aren't working in blogger. You can find their addresses in the blogroll. Join the fun today and write your own post about what makes a mother. Remember to send your link to parentbloggers@gmail.com to let them know you're participating.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Daycare Woes and Black Eyes

*This is me, putting a blanket over the entrance to my cubicle, declaring to the world to leave me the hell alone for a few minutes.*

For some reason, the stress of coming back to work this morning has been a little too much for me. Around 10:30, I was ready to be done for the day. I think it was a combination of stuff that's been going on at home and the fact that my boss and I have to take up the slack from the other employee in our department who was promoted out. That position has now been eliminated, and until the job duties get placed on someone else in the company who has a lighter workload, we're the ones doing the crap work.

What's most pressing on my mind is the childcare situation we're in. On Friday, I found out through the grapevine that the sister daycare center of the one that Ben attends is closing. They gave their parents notice that the 18th would be the last day of operation. The director of the centers spent most of her time over there, and now she'll be at ours. The problem is we really don't like her. She's not very warm and fuzzy, and we don't have a lot of respect for the way she runs things. While the care the children receive is good, the facility is ... well... dump-ish. And that annoys us.

Added to the director coming on over, one of the teachers in the baby room admitted that there will be changes coming down the line for our center as well. Specifically, they plan to reduce the number of children in the Under Two rooms from 19 (currently) to 8. That is a huge deal. We have no idea how they will decide which babies will have to go.

We do know that 1. they know that Ben would be leaving at the end of September, and 2. we get a group discount rate based on where we're employed. If I were the one making the choice from as cold-headed and hearted of a standpoint as the director, Ben would go buh-bye.

So where does that leave us right now? Well. We're going to wait for one of two things to happen. Either we'll get so disgusted with the new atmosphere that happens when the director comes over or we'll be asked to find a new placement for Ben.

I might start calling around this week to find out what's available. I feel horrible, though. I keep having flashbacks to what I went through when I was told that the little girl that I nannied for would be going to daycare full-time and my services were no longer required. Sure, the bond between Ben and his teachers isn't nearly as intense, but there is still a big attachment. And it breaks my heart to think that Ben might be sad about the transition. Yes, I'd be taking him out of there this fall anyway, but that's different. He would be home with Mommy.

In other news, Ben has his first black eye. It looks awful. He got in on Saturday, and I think it looks worse today than it did yesterday. It doesn't hurt him, he just looks awful, and we wince everytime we see him. How did he get it? He was being naughty, and he fell off of a shelf he had climbed up on. Poor widdle man.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What A Difference A Clinic Makes

We had a Ben health crisis this week. Monday night, he started wheezing again and running a fever. It hadn't improved by morning, and it seemed to be getting worse. He was wheezing hard, and his respirations were 60-80 breaths per minute. After my last bad experience with bringing him in when he was like that, I convinced Chester that it could wait until morning to bring him in.

You see, we were in the transition phase of changing pediatricians. Ben's first appointment with his new doctor was for Tuesday afternoon. Ben's old doctor, though a very nice, sweet man, never bothered to really treat Ben's breathing issues, even though they landed him in the hospital last October. That wasn't the sole reason we decided to switch, but I kept getting the feeling that more could be done if they'd take the time. As long as it wasn't RSV, they didn't care.

Chester brought him in to the walk-in clinic downstairs from his new pediatrician, and the difference was amazing. They actually took us seriously, and they actually treated the problem. Unlike before when we were scolded for worrying about his breathing, the new clinic people gave him a dose of steroids immediately and sent him home with a nebulizer only after his ox-sat levels had improved.

As for the new pediatrician, Dr. Sarah. Wow. We had a follow-up with her yesterday about the wheezing, as well as a well-child checkup. She was in the room with us for no less than 45 minutes. She wrote up an action plan for dealing with Ben's asthma (yes, there's finally a diagnosis) and avoiding crisis events in the future. Ben will probably be on a controller medicine for most of the year, but we're okay with that.

Everybody is a lot happier now in our house, especially Ben. We're still on the "sick plan" that Dr. Sarah wrote up, and he has to have albuterol several times a day and pulmicort twice a day in his nebulizer, but he's getting used to the process, and he seems to understand that it helps him breathe better. For the first few minutes of putting the mask up to his face, he actually holds it there and breathes deeply. Of course he gets bored and squirmy, but we're figuring out ways to deal with that. (When both medicines are in the nebulizer chamber, it takes no less than thirty minutes to finish it).
For me, I feel much more reassured about my son's health. I know that if there's a crisis like that again, there'll be a clinic and a doctor I can call who will 1. remember who Ben is and 2. take my concerns seriously. I can't tell you how many times we went to the old walk-in or called the nurses line about Ben's breathing in the last year. Since it's their policy not to write down notes when a parent calls with a health concern, the staff never really saw a pattern. And the walk-in staff didn't contact the primary pediatrician to inform them of a problem or flag the chart for them. On Tuesday, the new walk-in clinic was in contact with Dr. Sarah throughout the morning to keep her updated on what treatment option they were giving us.

AND... Dr. Sarah had actually read through his charts from the old clinic and had MADE NOTES and talked to me about the areas that she highlighted. I was glowing with pleasure after the visit.

One good thing I gleaned from the talk about asthma. Children who develop asthma symptoms before their second birthdays are far more likely to outgrow it. I'm hopeful this won't be an issue that Ben has his whole childhood. So far, he just has episodes when he gets a cold. Exertion doesn't seem to bother him.

And by the way. My little guy got his first skinned knees on Monday. I was so proud, I cried a little. He's growing up so fast. (But not as much as I thought. He's lost two pounds since his last visit. That's normal, but it still surprises me. He's only 22 pounds and 30 inches tall.)