Friday, August 31, 2007

Vicodin, Ben Joy, Labor Day

I just haven't felt like I had much to say to anybody. Things at work are crazy and emotional. Lots of people are stopping by to express incredulity at my leaving and sometimes congratulations. I'm gearing up to start training my replacement who starts on Tuesday. And my pregnant self has been feeling kind of ick lately.

At my last appointment, my doctor finally broke down and prescribed vicodin for me to take at work when I start having severe back pain, pelvic pain and contractions. Since the dears in HR would rather I limit my intermittent FMLA to four hours or so a week, I'm stuck here at work when I should be home in bed... that is unless I want to go to battle with HR. And I don't. I'll be gone soon, but Chester has to stay here. Better to leave on good terms.

Working while stoned out of my gourd on vicodin is interesting. My proofing ability decreases by about fifteen percent, but I can still focus. It doesn't even take away all the pain, but I'm so chilled out I don't care about the discomfort. It makes life a little more interesting, and I avoid talking to people while I'm riding the waves. It's very easy for me to make a fool out of myself, and I would prefer to be discreet about narcotic usage in the workplace.

Disclaimer: Vicodin is not the best drug to take while pregnant, but the major risk to the baby occurs when taken near full term. If I were to stay on vicodin until I go into labor, the baby would be at risk for dependency and withdrawal. I'm only taking it until I stop working at the end of next week, and I don't take it every day.

Anyway. Ben has been a joy and a blessing this week. He's not nearly as crabby and difficult as he was when I posted last. We've adjusted our diaper changing techniques, and that's been helping with the levels of frustration in the house. We've also been sitting down to eat together in the evenings without the TV on, so we get some quality time with Ben. It makes a huge difference. We've also reverted back to a morning cuddle time upstairs with him before he comes down for the day. We found that if we just go up there and unlock the gate while he's still in bed, and we don't stay up there to cuddle with him, he has a meltdown and a very rough start to the day.

We don't have very dramatic plans for the weekend. We both get off of work at noon today, and we'll be picking up Ben and then going home for a nap. Tomorrow, we're scheduled for an informal cookout at my best friend Mary's apartment. And for the actual Labor Day, we're driving to Green Bay to see my brother and his family... and deliver some "Congratulations on Getting Knocked Up Again" presents and supplies. We haven't been to their house in over a year, so it'll be nice to cross that off our list of things to do before the baby comes.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Remarkable Changing Boy

I remember dragging my little family to a reunion (Dad's side) up north a year ago. It was a simple one, held at state park beach I had swam at lots in my childhood. After I had introduced eight-month-old Ben to all my old relatives, the general consensus was, "Cheryl, what a good-natured boy you have!"

I know now that what of the reasons that label was provided for my son was because of another baby, born a year earlier, who was never as "good-natured" and was really kind of difficult at times (read spoiled).

But for the most part, it's been true. Ben is a sweetheart. He's not afraid of new situations, new people. He's never had stranger anxiety except for that one time when the creepy guy at Wendy's talked to us too much. Ben is usually content to just sit back and watch everyone around him with a slightly amused expression on his face (rather like mommy).

So where the hell did this kid come from? Not the nice boy, but this creature he's become. My mantra for the past two weeks has been, "It's just a phase." "Things will be different when I'm home with him all the time." But really, toddlerhood is wonderful and delightful, but some parts of it can really suck. Hard.

Ben is exercising his new-found ability to throw temper tantrums and meltdowns when he doesn't get his way. Under no circumstances do we give in, but it hasn't dampened his seeming enthusiasm with the process. So the world comes to an end almost every single time we have to take a toy away from him for one reason or another, no matter how lovely and wonderful the replacement toy is.

Another characteristic of this phase is his unhappiness with pretty much anything that happens. We leave to go to the store, meltdown. He has to hold our hand to walk from the car, tantrum. I don't let him kick or hit me while I push the cart, panic attack. AND... and this is the part that leaves me in tears, too, he freaks out when we leave him at daycare.

I'm a reasonably intelligent young lady, and I know that his issues are control and power issues. I also know that our lives are transitioning toward many changes (SAHM-hood, new baby). And though his life hasn't really altered much yet, he can sense that things are in upheaval. So he's acting out, trying to exert some control over the situation that is his life.

My husband and I keep reminding each other that we know we're not raising a spoiled child. That was one of our main determinations when we first talked about parenthood. Ben doesn't get what he wants all the time. We offer compromises. We never walk down the toy aisle at a store. We teach a message of gentleness and kindness. And yet...

I know it's just a phase. Really. I know it. I just hope he snaps out of it before my mom comes down to spend a few days with us this fall before the baby comes. She's be horrified that I'm not spanking (sorry, "correcting") him already. And frankly, I don't have the strength to try to explain to her why we're avoiding spanking.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bookish Thursday: The Lay of the Land

I used to call these Bookish Thursdays, so here it goes again. It helps that I finished a book this morning before work.

As I've mentioned previously, I'd been reading Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land. It's on my list of about twenty books that are out of my comfort range, are about topics that I'm not familiar with, and have won some sort of award.

Anyway. I really enjoyed this book. It's the kind of book that has paragraphs and sentences that fly out at you and smash your face in with brilliance. Stuff I had to read out loud to my husband and bring into work to show my boss the next day.

Like other reviewers, I was driven through the book not because of the plot, but because it's a gigantic practice in self-help and self-actualization. It's very difficult to read the book without contemplating the state of your own internal affairs, where your life is right now or what you really want out of life. Sure, you get to know the texture and scope of the main character's soul, but surprisingly, you learn a lot about yourself as well.

Frank Bascombe is called an "everyman." And he is. Although I've never known someone just like him, he reminds me a lot of many different older men I've known throughout my life. His experience with cancer makes me wonder how my dad dealt with his. His realty business and ambition reminds me of the smooth-talking guy who sold us our house. Little bits of his humor remind me of an old boss. But mostly, he's like none other I've ever known. And I'm glad to have met him. Being a young lady in my twenties who has ensconced herself in rural America, I'm not likely to venture out and meet people like him. Older gents don't usually take the time to sit down and divulge their life stories to someone like me, though now I wish I'd open myself up more to people and make myself available for experiences like that.

I'm not going to do a thorough review of the book. I don't have the patience because I'm cranky and have been having a bad morning. But I would recommend this book to anybody. It's dense and slow-moving, but incredibly satisfying. None of the characters are really cookie cutter. It's like Ford made a point to make each one more unusual than the last. And while the book is slow moving, the plot itself is a crazy ride that only takes place over a couple of days. I wasn't ever really bored, because I found Frank's introspections and explanations to be fascinating. It's not often you get to see so clearly inside someone else's messed-up head.

I identified a lot with Frank as he explained why he made bad decisions throughout the years. Like me, his decisions were not reflections of his permanent, developing morality, but rash, not-thinking-clearly, just-going-with-the-moment choices that you have to regret later, in my case, when I was sober. I think growing up and maturing involves not making so many bad decisions like that... and letting your permanent morality and ethics guide your way more and more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Lesson Learned About Having A Kid With Asthma

I'm up early this morning because Ben is. And instead of fussing and crying and clinging to me, he's actually wanting to play, so this is good news. You see, yesterday, it wasn't like this at all.

Sunday night, Ben started coughing in his sleep. He seemed okay in the morning, and we sent him off to daycare with a request to Amber to keep track of his cough and his breathing. He had the sniffles, but was still anxious to play with his friends.

I called periodically during the day on Monday, and she let me know his status. He was okay. He had a cold, but he wasn't miserable. When we picked him up after work, he had just started on his downward spiral. His very quick downward spiral.

By the time we got home, his eyes were glassy, he was running a fever of 101, and he was gasping. Not good at all. He refused dinner, and he started crying non-stop, which only made his breathing worse. So we started his breathing treatments.

It was a long Monday night. Ben woke up in many cold sweats because he had stopped breathing. It was scary. Chester stayed home with him yesterday to continue the breathing treatments and to monitor him. Finally, when I came home for lunch, Ben consented to lunch. By dinner time, he still had a strong wheeze, but he was more interested in playing. And he ate some dinner. Yay! Off to bed, and he stayed asleep until four this morning.

We were all set to split the shift today. I'd stay home in the morning, Chester in the afternoon. But now, with Ben so perky, I'm not sure it's necessary to keep him home. As you can imagine, I'll be watching him very closely over the next hour. He still has a small wheeze, but otherwise, he seems normal. Amber's perfectly willing to do the nebulizer thing, too, so he'll keep getting his Albuterol.

Yesterday I felt so intensely guilty about not giving Ben the nebulizer treatment right away on Monday morning when he woke up with the sniffles and a cough. The medical plan that our doctor gave us indicates that, but I wanted to wait and see how he did throughout the day. Dammit. Having such an easy summer with his asthma made me complacent. At least I've learned my lesson. When your kid has asthma, you have to freak out when he gets the sniffles.

In other news, the new girl at work doesn't suck. She seems bright and intelligent and seems to be a quick learner. At least I hope so. My boss is already transferring a lot of duties over to her.

My sister is coming to town this weekend with her family to drop off the latest load of rummage sale finds. These include a mini basketball hoop, a motorcycle-looking tricycle thing, several tonka trucks, and two more bags of clothes for Anna. She really loves going to rummage sales, and we don't mind reaping the benefits. Goodness knows I don't have the energy to be traipsing about, yard to yard.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What I Learned This Weekend

I desperately need to say that I had a productive weekend, though I really didn't. That really awesome idea to finally paint our dining room so we'd have a venue to finish listening to the audiobook we started last weekend. Yeah. That idea kind of fell flat.

Saturday dawned hot and humid. The nighttime had been hot and kind of rainy (which is nice because we need the rain), but instead of cleansing us from the dust and awful the-heat-is-never-going-to-go-away stuff, it kind of made the heat a little more moist and icky.

Dear husband had been up until two in the morning working because, as he put it, "the box that I was rebooting died and I fixed it, but then it died again and it took me a while to figure out how to fix it." Yeah. I don't have a clue either. The point of the whole fiasco is that right after lunch, he insisted on going back to bed for a nap. So even though he had only cleared out half of the living room and I had masked only a few vital areas, I sent him off to bed.

True, in a perfect world, I would have been able to be industrious and keep working on the project without him. But truthfully, I didn't want to. He didn't want me up on the ladder without him around, and I have a hard time crawling around on the floor. So I sat down and read.

Sunday morning. I woke up and read. After Ben got up, I did a sinkful of dishes and got started on baking a fabulous Finnish pancake. (It was terrific, by the way.) Following breakfast was a little play-with-Ben time which ended with it's-mommy's-nap-time time. When I woke up, we all had lunch, and then Chester and I got going on the dining room again.

While I was stirring the paint, his work phone rang. Yeah. That's never good news on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently some people at work were quite upset that they couldn't print anymore, and it wasn't an easy fix. I guess the server that hosts the printers is on its last leg, and it's dying. That required a lot of really boring phone calls to a lot of different workaholic types who didn't want to push off the problem until tomorrow but instead wanted my husband to get started on the fix immediately, even though he was supposed to be painting the dining room.

I painted a bunch of the trim areas (the deal is I work the brush while husband works the roller). Chester was in the living room staring at his laptop while he talked to various people on his annoying blue tooth thing. Eventually, he was able to put down the laptop and paint... but while he was on the phone the whole time.

The painting thing was a bust. Our dining room is now half pepto-abysmal pink. It's a terrible color. It's just the mid-tone primer that goes on over the original white and under the beautiful deep red to come. I've always wanted a red dining room. Maybe I'll eventually get one.

Once upon a time, I loved painting projects. Even when I was six or seven months pregnant with Ben, I was quite agile and able to dance around clumsily, painting his bedroom a lovely blue. This time around? Yeah. It's not happening. I hurt. Breathing in this heat with just a box fan to blow more hot air on me... not fun. My feet are swollen, I have two inexplicably bruised ribs, and my house is a disaster area because it hurts to bend down and pick up Ben's toys and videos that are strewn all over the place. But hey. It could be worse. I could be moving like Allie at

What I learned this weekend is that sometimes it's best to just focus on the productive aspects of life and ignore those crazy, pie-in-the-hazy-sky plans.

When it was raining Friday evening, and Ben was looking so cute, staring outside at the rain, I went out with him and we got drenched while exploring the perimeter of the house and experiencing the water dripping off the eaves. We were barefoot, and Ben was spotlessly clean after his bath. It was joyous. We got muddy. It was very productive.

I made pork chops for the first time in years, and they turned out well.
We watched a Little Bear video about eight times.
Chester is nearing the end of the last Harry Potter book.
I am greatly enjoying the book I'm reading. The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford.

All are minor accomplishments, but hell. They're all I got.

I meet my boss's new employee tomorrow. On Friday, Lady Smogo asked me surreptiously to try to find the new girl's myspace page... which was no easy task since she doesn't use her real name or a specific location. But hell. I found it. And while she has my favorite singer on her favorite bands list (Damien Rice), I'm still not sure we'll "click." Oh well. Only four weeks of awkward getting to know you crap and then I'm out of there.

In other news, my boss plans on making an offer to my future replacement. She let me help her in the decision on who to hire, and I'm hopeful that this new guy will work out well. Being a proofreader requires a great deal of ... well... balls and nerve. He'll be one of two people in the company who will be proudly waving the banner of accuracy and consistency in the faces of people who were happy with the slap-dash-crap way that they did their work the first time. It takes a bunch of courage and even more ego.

And, because the universe is usually kind to me, just months too late, the person I dislike most at work is putting in his or her notice this week. This person's last day will be about a week and a half before I leave. I did a happy dance, but I wish it would have happened a year ago. No. I wish the company actually cared about performance and quality and fired this individual a year ago when it became oh so clear that it was the right thing to do.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ben Giggling Like a Maniac at Nana's House

My first experiment with posting videos.

My Goofy Boy

I just love the new facial expressions that Ben uses. He likes acting like a goofball as much as mommy and daddy do. Here are a few pictures from our weekend... including the rare pictures with my beautiful husband.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A weekend of travels with sunburn included

Finally a weekend happens with lots of bloggable material. I might expound on certain events later in the week, but I figured I'd write the outline down before I forget about it all.

We left work early on Friday to get the hell out of Dodge. We were at my mother's house in Minocqua before dinnertime. Ben absolutely loves playing at Nana's house because, without fail, he always forgets all the new interesting toys she has at her house... and he hasn't even discovered the basement yet.

After dinner, my mother, Chester, Ben and I drove down to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation for a concert. We left my mother there after an hour because Ben was getting a little antsy and quite tired. It was way past his bedtime after all. But we had a nice time.

Saturday morning, we woke before dawn to get ready for the activities we had planned for the day, namely getting the hell out of dodge again. Driving in separate vehicles, my mom and dad drove to Eagle River while we followed. We had a nice breakfast at a diner owned by the same family that owns one of our favorite diners in Wausau. It was kind of funny to see the same menu, just with higher prices because of it being a tourist area.

After that, we drove. And we drove. And we drove. Sure it was only for two and a half hours, but it felt more like six. We headed to Upper Michigan to stop at my grandmother's farm in Baraga before we headed further north to Houghton. There we met with about thirty or forty of my relatives on my dad's side, and we got on a cruise boat and eventually traveled down the canal to the open waters of Lake Superior.

It was a fun family reunion, though after eating, I felt very seasick and nauseated. Seeing all of my relatives was interesting, especially seeing the little kids that I used to babysit. One kid is sixteen now, but I distinctly remember having changed his diaper before. Very weird. Most of that group isn't from the area anymore, though. They are scattered from sea to shining sea. From Florida to California to Toronto to New Jersey. It's a good family. Everybody is reasonably well educated and kind and unpretentious. Having originated from a place like the UP of Michigan tends to take a bunch of potential snobbiness out of your personality. I think it's directly related to the number of times you've used an outhouse or had a sauna naked with your grandparents.

After the boat, we drove back towards my grandma's farm (which isn't really a farm anymore since there aren't any animals). We stopped at the nursing home where she lives now. She's not really "there" either, but she likes getting visitors, even if she can't communicate well anymore and doesn't remember anybody except my mom. I sat with her and told her about my life, then kissed her and said goodbye. When she does die, I won't be reminiscing about this stage of her life. I'll be remembering the stooped old lady who made watery beef stew and always let me play with the ancient toys she kept in the closet.

Then we drove that ridiculously long and boring trek back down to my parents' house. We didn't get there until around 8 at night, but we ordered pizza from a local dive and watched TV for a while, mainly to wear out Ben some more. That silly little guy barely napped all day long. Maybe fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there.

Sunday morning, we amused ourselves with breakfast and cartoons, and Ben found a few more special toys he hadn't seen before. Then the boy and I took a nice long nap, after which we packed up all of our stuff and headed back down to Wausau. It's weird being at the house without my parents there, but they stayed in the UP for the night to be around the visiting Tepsa and Martilla family members.

When we got back to Wausau in the afternoon, there was a message waiting on our answering machine telling me to call my sister-in-law Jennifer in Green Bay. I called her, bewildered, since I only talk to her every couple of months. She tried making small talk, but I made her get to the point because I was dying of curiosity. I knew something was up because she had left a few messages on the answering machine at Nana's house as well. Turns out she's pregnant again, due in April. Ha!

Ha! I say. Over and over again. I'm thrilled, don't get me wrong, but this is not an expected turn of events. She has two sons, ages 13 and 8. For the last few years, she and my brother had been toying with the idea of having another baby, but she wasn't really into the idea, so they dropped it. Ha!

It's all very exciting. I'm due in November. She's due in April, and my sister Jolene and her husband are planning for another baby to be born in June or July. Ha! We're going to have to rent a freaking banquet hall for holidays now. So many grandbabies! There are already six, not counting the ones in utero. Ha!

So that was my weekend. We've got to clean house and get organized for the week to come, but we're so lethargic and exhausted, just relishing the comfort of being in our own house again.