Friday, September 28, 2007

Bad night.

Karma reminded me that I was not in charge last night again. We did everything we could to ensure that Willa was fed, bathed, loved on and tucked in before 9 pm when The Office started. This is my one TV vice. When I got Willa in her crib without a fight, I was feeling might proud of team Jim and Amy.

And 45 minutes into the show when I heard her coughing, and then crying it all came crashing down. Good thing the VCR was set. Yes, VCR - we don't do the Demand/Tivo or any other fancy schmany recording of shows. This is how much we think tv is must see, I guess.

She threw up. In her crib, on the blankets, on me, on the bathroom floor.... more than once. Jim took to the couch and Willa and I hunkered down in bed together. When she wasn't coughing, she was churning next to me, like a river otter playing in the water, or a hot dog on the gas station grill. Around and around and around. Little feet digging under my back, little hand slapping my cheek.

And in a gleam of true Willa spirit, she woke up at 4 am, coughed enough for me to nervously grab "the bowl." Then she giggled and started calling for Alro to join us in bed.

So, I'm at work, and the report from nurse Jim is that she's coughing a lot less today. Hoping she didn't catch the croup - there's a sign on her daycare room door declaring that someone has been home with that this week. It's like a centuries old town with a warning on the gate that the plague was there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tree hugger

Hoping that she'll love nature: walks in the woods, watching bugs, listening to the crunch of squirrels skittering over pine needles, the textures of pine bark, fallen acorns, sand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Daddy and Daughter love

Watching these two fall in love, every day, is the mom equivalent of asking for, and receiving, a pony at 7 years old.
I am a lucky, lucky woman.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baby love.

Last night we went to dinner with friends at Chez Fazzolis (think McDonalds of spaghetti). Their daughter Julia is 11 months old and taking her first steps. This makes her 10 times more interesting to Willa. I'm excited about watching them hang out as pals in the coming months.

When we got home Willa got a bath. Baths are harder now that she's interested in sitting on the toilet. I find myself lifting her from the tub to her potty seat so many times that I end up drenched. After her bath, she gets a sippy cup of milk that she drinks in our bed while we read books to her. Last night she gave the sippy cup to her baby doll (mom and dad, she loves this doll, good job), first putting the opening on the baby's eye, and then moving it to the baby's mouth... all the while singing, "baeeee-beeeee" over and over.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Possibly evil bears and my wonderful Jim

So Saturday we completely overdid it: Truck Convoy (explanation and photos for another day), Eastown street fair and a birthday party for a 4 year old nephew.

At the birthday party nephew Matt handed me a teddy bear with the warning that "he might possibly be evil. He has red eyes," and then walked away. David, the birthday boy, was checking people into the house with "Hi! Did you bring me a present?!" I told him that we brought him a can of sticks, which Tinker Toys really are. John, the 8 year old nephew was caught between trying to impress his 16 year old step-cousin and doting on the little ones. Willa emptied the hosts garage of all balls, and pushed her self a la Flintstone on a tricycle. The other nephew and niece, who we don't see nearly enough hovered near their mom and dad.

On Sunday I woke up and knew it wasn't going to be a good day. I ended up horizontal for most of the day and watched the clock for the next dose of Tylenol. I'm hoping my next dose of D will bring progress in the leaky muscle world.

I felt irritated/frustrated/guilty as Jim cleaned the house, did laundry, made dinner, cared for Willa, and did yard work. Just before lights out I let him know how grateful I was (no perverts, not in that way):
"Thanks for taking care of me today."
"I'd make a good wife, wouldn't I?"
"You'd make a good Ann B. Davis as Alice. (hilarious laughter) I am very, very luck to have you as a partner."
"Keep that in mind the next time your frustrated with me, okay?"
"I know, all day I kept thinking, how can I get SO MAD at this wonderful man sometimes."
We laughed. No Twizzlers.

Today I'm feeling much better. Of course: at my desk I feel good. On a beautiful Sunday: not so much.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is working outside in the sun a reasonable accomodation?

I wrote the following a month ago, but didn't publish it. I wasn't sure what was going on with my body. I didn't want to post this to worry people, or ask for any sympathy or advice. I wasn't going to put it up here at all. Then I remembered, I don't really write here for the benefit of a reader. I write here to keep an account of what's going on in our lives. And this was something that affecting me and my family.

written 8/24 embargoed until more info is provided
I just got a spam email that had the subject line "It's all right. I can take it."

And for some reason, this email (with the contents promising for a larger "member" in days with a magic pill) was more comforting to me than Jim's greatest attempts at consolation last night.

"It's all right. I can take it."

My body is doing something weird right now. My muscles are leaking enzymes. Apparently everyone's muscles are a little leaky, but mine are extra leaky. We found this out when I told the fantastic Dr. B that my muscles were sometimes pained in a way I can only describe as weird shooting crampy dull industrial rubber bands around parts of me. And sometimes the rubber bands are pointy. Sometimes it lasts 20 minutes, sometimes only a few seconds. Mostly it's in one limb at a time. Sometimes it happens several times in an hour. Sometimes it takes a few days off. So, we did blood work and my CK level came back high (150something). She ordered another round of blood work and it got to 176. I didn't really know what any of this meant, so I did some online research and proceeded to have the pants scared off of me by a list of diseases that are diagnosed with an elevated CK level.

By the way, when capri's came out, I swore I would never wear them. Now most of my summer pants are at least cropped. Damn fashion trends.

This week (8/20) has been difficult, as my whole body is achy. It might be totally unrelated to my extra leaky muscles, but last night I got scared by the "what if" parade (including floats from ALS and MD, as well as the Lupus high school marching band).

And poor Jim. Well, what with all that testosterone, he went into problem solvin' mode. Very sweetly saying things like, "Why worry now? We don't know what it is. All this worry isn't going to make you feel better."

He's right. My brain knows that. But I needed a little window to sneak into a pity party. And again, all that maleness didn't get that all I needed was a hug. And a box of tissues.

But this invisible spammer sends me a virtual chill out.

And he's right. It's all right. I can take it.

And now for the latest info (written on 9/21)
I saw a Rheumatologist on Monday and he ordered more blood work. The results came back and I got a phone call to say that my Vitamin D levels are very low (most folks have a count of 30, mine is 13). This would account for the pain and the pain accounts for the elevated CK. In this round, my CK is back down to 158 - good news. I am taking a prescription strength D supplement, and trying to soak up the sun as much as possible. I've spoken with my Dr. who told me that this isn't related to my vegetarian diet. I go back for a check up in 6 weeks.

If the answer is this easy, I am a lucky girl. Big breath in, and a giant PHEW out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The case of the missing clothes

I've noticed we're really short on Willa's sock supply, and doing the laundry didn't really help. Then I caught her! Ms. Willa has been taking her socks off, putting them in the Diaper Champ, and flipping the handle (so the socks fall into the bag with the dirty diapers. Who knows how long this has been going on?I suspect we've lost a shirt or 2 this way too. Might be time to retire the Champ.

A few more photos from the Garden

Nature sure is doing a good job being showy at this time of year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I've got her back

On Saturday evening we were near the mall, so we went in search of shoes and tights for Willa. Like most malls, this one has a kids play area. At this particular mall, kids crawl and run and run amok over giant foam likenesses of breakfast foods. It is unnerving to see my daughter crawl over bacon, but she was having a blast.

"Can you believe our daughter is old enough to play here?"
"Yeah, but she's doing great. It's amazing that no one is falling down, or getting knocked down."
"I know. But some of the bigger kids are getting too close. I'm keeping a mental list of which ones to trip as they walk past."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Other generations

My mom was here Friday and Saturday. Her visits leave me exhausted and refreshed at the same time. It's really nice to have her here to be able to see Willa in her natural habitat, and I like taking her around places in what is now my town. We kept each other up into the wee small hours of Saturday morning talking in the living room. When we finally said, "okay we should get to bed" for the last time, she climbed the stairs (yay for the new knee!) and I got into bed and hugged Jim tight. I wanted to wake him up so I could tell him how grateful I was for him, for our daughter, for our time together.

Mom was carrying photos of her parents that her cousin gave to her at his dad's funeral. The first was of my grandpa, striking a pose with one knee bent, his hand pulling up the cuff of his pants, flirting with the person behind the camera. Before he was a grandpa, this man had a cocky smile full of mischief. The other photo was my grandma, posed leaning against a car, she's wearing what looks like a service uniform with a wide belt cinching the jacket. Her smile is bright, and her eyes smile too.

They are both gone now. How wonderful it would have been for them to meet my family. For Willa to play with Tinker Toys in their back room. For us to eat cheese popcorn and drink diet Faygo while golf was murmuring on the tv in the background.
I wish I could hug Jim and Willa firmly enough to pass on a mutual introduction to them. Kind of like a phone line: "Grandma and Grandpa, this is my husband. This is my daughter." I wish they could know each other.
My mom, Willa and I went to the Meijer Gardens Saturday. Willa and her Grandma played hide and seek.

The night before we all went to Little Mexico for dinner. I jokingly put this sombrero on Willa before we left. She wouldn't leave it at home, and then insisted on wearing it into the restaurant. After some frowns from the staff at Little Mexico I whispered to Jim, "please take that thing off and hide it."
Happy 36th Anniversary to my parents. Mom and Dad, thanks for geting married and being a great example of a wonderful relationship. Love you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My past on the doorstep

Me, circa 1997 showed up on my doorstep last week in a Fed Ex box.

I had been in college for four years and still unsure of where I was headed professionally. I was active (maybe too active, my transcripts will show) in the volunteer program that year, and was curious about Americorps. I ended up on an airplane that landed in Charleston, SC in August of '97. I was a member of the Americorps*National Civilian Community Corps. That * is important. It's a government program, and it's in all of the literature and it was on my uniform, so * it is.

As a Corpsmember, I was on a team of 12 other folks aged 18-24. Our campus was on an abandoned Naval Base where the border patrol trained (imagine the ideological differences that came up in a common cafeteria where do-gooder hippie-types ate next to guys who wore t-shirts with the cartoon of a sombrero wearing mouse running from uniformed man and shouting "Andale!"). We did service projects in the realms of the environment, human safety, disaster relief, education, and other unmet human needs (again, government lingo). We served the SE region of the US. It was a great experience during which I learned how to frame a house, identify and kill specific invasive plant life on a National Seashore, spell Florida correctly (no kidding, I am a terrible speller) while tutoring 4th graders on their spelling lists, and pack for a two month trip on 20 minutes notice.

I made some great friends who were my travelling family. We were like the Partridges - but with hammers and shovels instead of guitars and drums - travelling the country spreading idealistic cheer and doing good works. Some of my old teammates were at our wedding. Some wanted to be but couldn't make the cross country trip. Some I've lost touch with, and I'm okay with that. At that time in our lives, the team was very important; we lived, travelled, and worked together, that leads to overexposure that will either lead to homicide or life long friendships.

So, back to the FedEx package. The Charleston campus is closing, leaving 3 or 4 other bases active in the country. The closing is somewhat mysterious, and when I questioned staff, they couldn't say much. I'm not sure they know much. In a room on the campus were probably thousands of binders. And in each binder was a portfolio that a team made when a project was completed. Someone from the Charleston campus unexpectedly sent me the portfolio from our project at a Charleston elementary school. In it are our reflections about our 2 months there, photos of our team with the classes we worked with, an Internet training manual for teachers, designed by 2 teammates who weren't excited to work with youngin's.

I had written about Marcus, the 4th grader who wasn't doing well in class, but not doing poorly enough to qualify for special ed. I remembered being very touched by the pride he developed in himself as we worked together. I wrote about his smile when he told me he scored an A on a test.

All of these people in my life who have helped shape me: like a river forming its banks. I'm remembering, I'm grateful. The portfolio reminded me to get more active in my community again. It reminded me of how I've grown in the past 10 years. It's spurred me to send out some emails to old teammates...

"... remember when we couldn't afford to go home for Thanksgiving, so we ate Thanksgiving dinner at an Irish pub? ... when we swam in the Atlantic 2 weeks before Christmas at night and walked back to the bunkhouse singing carols? How are you old friend? Where are you? Just a note to say I'm thinking of you on this 10th anniversary of our meeting, and smiling."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My crush

I parked my car in front of her room's window when I went to pick her up at the end of the work day yesterday. She was just getting up from her nap in the cot under the window. I watched her stand up, her little head bobbing in and out of view. Then she turned around to look out. She saw me and her smile held the energy of a flock of birds leaving a field together. Big, strong, overwhelming. And we both waved with giant grins. We could have done that all evening long.

I'm going to pick her up again in a minute. One of my favorite parts of the day. She'll see me at the door and run to hug my leg. Gotta go...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

shoes, tragedy, and love

Early in the afternoon, I was on the floor of Kohl's with Willa, feeling silly that 6 years after a national tragedy that rocked all of our psyche's, my biggest worry at the moment was finding her shoes that fit that didn't have Dora or Disney princessness all over them. Willa, of course, was partial to the pink sparkly ballet slippers, "SHOES! mama! SHOES," she yelled as she tugged off her socks.

Six years ago I was in a room with volunteers and staff at Habitat for Humanity who happened to be from the Mid-East, listening to discussion about exercising caution when out in a small southern American town. Then I packed and drove a 12 passenger van to Indianapolis to participate in the Habitat anniversary celebration, and to drive home my co-workers stranded by the chaos of air travel. I remember sitting in a hotel room, finally alone and processing what had happened, watching the news anchors talking about finding survivors in the wreckage with tears streaming down my face. "Hope-hope, Hope-hope" was the sound of my heartbeat.

Also yesterday...

"Can I interrupt for for a few minutes?"
"What for?"
"Well, I want to talk about a fear that I had today."
[This is where I should have waited for an affirmative, but didn't.]
"You know that I would really like to be a stay at home mom. But after today, I'm not sure I could do it. I mean, she cried for 2 hours straight. At the end of the day, I feel defeated and exhausted. I need you to tell me that it was so hard because she was home sick, and extra crabby. I need to hear that I'd be a good stay at home mom."
Jim looked at me and took a deep breath in. "Knowing the kind of person you are, I think you'll be a great stay at home mom. You'll plan trips to the library and the gardens and the orchard. I don't think you'll be the "watching soap operas while the kids play" kind of stay at home mom. You probably won't even at home much."
I sat at the table crying from the generosity of his affirmation.
"And your headache probably didn't help much either."
"Well, it did feel like it was going to explode most of the day."
"Now, I love you, but get out, I've got to study."

Monday, September 10, 2007

From the daycare report

"Today we colored with multicultural markers for family week." Now, I'm all for a more inclusive society, and am glad to see "flesh" renamed. Kudos to Crayola for bundling a bunch of shades of brown markers together in the name of diversity.

How do I know today's daycare report before the end of the work day?

Willa's on my lap with a 101 fever and glassy eyes. Early pickup and I'm trying to get some things done before leaving for the day.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's not all sunshine and cupcakes...

Willa's on the cusp of making one nap a day her normal practice. Until she's made up her mind, I'm pretty sure she's going to be awful. We are in nap pergatory right now.
She had one hour long nap yesterday, instead of two - hour long naps or one -90 minute. When we got home from daycare she started crying. She cried through eating a few things for dinner (I think she ate half of a cheese stick, 3 tablespoons of yogurt, and 8 blueberries, ignoring everything else). She cried while we played. She stopped crying long enough to laugh so hard she snorted. She cried and screamed while I gave her a bath. She screamed while she was lying with me, some books, and her sippy cup of milk. She screamed while she crawled on top of me, kissed my nose while hugging my neck. She screamed while I quietly sang in her ear and rocked. I put her to bed screaming at 7:14.
Jim came home at 7:15 (I put her to bed early, knowing that she was just very, very tired). He picked her up and brought her back to our bed. And she stopped screaming. They read and hugged and she asked for me. We all laid in bed for a few minutes while she finished her milk, and I put her in her crib, where she half-heartedly cried herself to sleep.
My brain was completely fried, and I watched TV all night. A terrible waste of so many hours of Willa-free time, but necessary.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

No, it's "brushed her hair back from her forehead."

When we were getting to know each other, I was at what was then Jim's bachelor pad listening to Paul Simon. He was singing along and sang the wrong lyrics. So, so, so wrong that I thought he was trying to be intentionally funny.

Last week, I was picking CDs to take with us in our travels and put Paul Simon on the pile, smiling, but not remembering the song or the lyric.

We were heading east with the dogs in the back seat next to a head bobbing Willa, when Jim started singing "Graceland" louder with a smirk on his face:

"As if I didn't notice, as if I didn't know myself. As if I didn't notice the way she brushed her hair back and farted."

We laughed, Willa laughed, we ate Twizzlers.

Note: it appears as though I've heard the lyrics wrong all along too - for a peek at the real lyrics (and chords for y'all with a music streak), go here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dangerous play

Dora and Elmo are making kids sick, and now Barbie's in on the action. Today Mattel announces a third toy recall;Barbie's dining room set has too much lead in the paint. There are a few other toys that were added to the list, so if you're a parent, or someone who buys toys for kids, take a peek at the link.

Over the summer a wave of distrust over Chinese products hit American shores. Tainted dog food, human food, toothpaste, and toys, all made cheaply so we can take our SUVs to Wallmart and buy our necessities for a good price.

There is anger and distrust and threats to boycott products from China. Reading labels on products shows just how difficult that will be. Retailers and shoppers are in for a difficult Christmas season. To avoid a massive recall, THE toy of the year might have to be a pet rock: but big enough to not be a choking hazzard, and harvested from organic fields in Nebraska.

Here's my proposed solution: buy less toys, no matter where they're made. Last night 2 empty and cleaned out yogurt cups kept Willa busy for hours. I know we're not yet at the age when branding invades her mind. She doesn't yell about how our breakfast cereal NEEDS to have Dora marshmallows, and doesn't mind that our band aids don't have a character on them either. I know this will happen, and when it does, you'll find me here asking for strength - and maybe rationalizing that the Disney princess underwear actually might help potty training go smoother. Please call me on it then, okay?

I'm all about Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs for her next gifts - anyone know where those are made now? If it's China, I'm going to hedge my bets and only let her play with scissors and sharp sticks.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Even at 32, I got nervous to show my parents...

It wasn't so much that I needed as I wanted another hole in my head. And so on Saturday I got my nose pierced. Jim and Willa came along. Does anyone remember the Sesame Street song "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong..." That was us in a tattoo and piercing shop. Though, I've earned my bad ass stripes - I have a tattoo, I can do shots of whiskey (though lately just one would probably make me sleepy) I've given birth.

So, I have a pierced nose.

My mom asked why. I've been thinking about this for a while now. In 1992 I was voted "most likely to get a nose ring" in our band's mock elections. [This is just how dorky my roots are. Band. Mock Elections.] So, really it was Manifest Destiny, though it's a stud and not a ring - a point that gives edge to free will. I'm typically not what one would call patient, but 15 years is a long time to ponder a piercing. I had a vision of Willa having someone come in while I was on my death bed to "freaking pierce her nose already! She's talked about it forever!" And I decided it was time.

To celebrate decisiveness and action we went to my brother in law's "it wasn't a heart attack, but it was a scary wake up call" party, visited with my parents and uncle Brian, and went to the Michigan state fair.

Here MaKenna guides Willa's hand to pet the baby duck. "Duck" was the first word that both of them ever said.

Willa with her Grandma and Grandpa P. I promise that out of the 3 photos I took of this moment, this is the best one of all 3.

Our backyard terrace project - only you can prevent soil erosion. It's done enough for us to consider it done for now. Well... after some wood chips. And maybe some more plants. And stairs next to it would be nice...

Note: at the end, I realized I still hadn't answered my mom's question of "why" here. The very basic answer I gave her was, "because I think they're pretty."