Recovering

Thank you, thank you to those who have reached out following the last post. I sincerely appreciate it. Especially because the messages I received were just… check-ins. Love it. Thank you.

Very conveniently, I got to spend the days following that post with my beloved family having a wonderful weekend.

It started that very Friday when I got to visit Graham’s school for an annual kindergartner parade for the Chinese new year.

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Pictured above [in the red paper hat] is Graham’s teacher. She is so great. Patient and kind and always looking for new ways to help our buddy in class.

This parade thing? This would be something that I typically wouldn’t be able to make if I worked outside the home. But here we are. I got a flyer inviting parents to join, so I did. And do you think it makes a difference?

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You’d better believe it does.

I talk with Graham fairly regularly about how my being available to hang out after school and come to things like this during the day are a temporary thing while I’m on the job hunt. And we then talk about how we are just going to enjoy the heck out of it while it lasts.

I think we’re doing a pretty good job. :)

On to the weekend!

Graham was edgier than usual, but we did have unseasonably warm (and SUNNY!) weather, so we got a chance to take advantage by making a trip to our local zoo.

I’m going to take a moment and say how impressed I am with the Madison zoo. First off, it’s free. You drive up, park and walk in. No one so much as counts heads or anything. Crazy.

Knowing it’s free, I expected something fairly modest. In fact, when we said we were going to go to the zoo, Reid immediately yelled, “I WANT TO SEE THE LIONS!!! :::ROOOAARRRRR:::,” Andy and I were all, “Well, there may not be lions,” and “…there might be some sort of big cat, maybe.”

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But no. There were lions. And a tiger. (No bears!) And giraffes and penguins and chimps.

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We ran into one of my friends from my hometown there and his wife and son. It felt like all young families in Madison were at the zoo Saturday. The day was perfection.

Sunday was pretty great too – to start.

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Despite the big smiles in the zoo pictures, Graham was pretty crabby on Saturday. We attributed it to too many Saturday morning cartoons. After a particularly nasty outburst from him, we stripped him of T.V. rights on Sunday.

Funny that these ‘no T.V.’ days end up being the best days. He and Reid played alllllll morning and were so sweet with each other. Graham was mildly complaining that morning of his tummy feeling icky, but otherwise we had a pretty normal day. Graham and Andy went to the hardware store for some lumber so Andy can build some shelves in my closet. Reid and I ran some other errands that morning too.

Graham had lunch then we played Uno through Reid’s naptime. Take a look at these awesome card holders Graham thought up! I’m sure it’s mommy goggles, but this kid just impresses the pants off me sometimes.

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It wasn’t long after this picture was taken that our day took a turn. Graham went out to the wood shop with Andy to make little card-holders out of wood, but they came back in after 10 or 15 minutes when Graham started feeling super suspect. Not long after, the fireworks started. 😉

Poor kid. It seemed like this thing was going to be fairly run-of-the-mill bug. After a couple of rounds in as many hours, things seemed to be slowing down, but he then made the regrettable error of chugging a bunch of water which made the gastrointestinal gods angry, which then led to him… making sacrifices… every 20 minutes for the next 3 hours. He even woke up moaning a couple of times shortly after he went to bed.

It was bad enough that we were resorting to trying a bit of Dramamine and placing a call to the on-call pediatrician for advice, which we haven’t done for a stomach bug since Graham was a toddler. This one was a doozy!

After a quiet night, we figured Graham would be feeling much improved this morning, but we sort of rushed things too quickly. Soon after he got up, I offered that it might feel good to get in the shower. He agreed, but shortly after getting under the water, he started moaning, “I need my trash can” again.

Thankfully for him it was a false alarm. But – message received. We’re going slowly this morning.

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Project Rehydration is in full effect! I treated him to a couple of Redbox DVDs, fresh sheets and jammies and – per the on-call pediatrician’s advice – taking 2 tsp shots (yep, out of an old college shotglass!) of Gatorade every few minutes. Which means I’ve been writing this post in 5 minute increments.

Suffice it to say, we’re recovering. In more ways than one. Graham’s little smile in the above pic is a ray of hope. He should be feeling much perkier as the day stretches on. Meanwhile, I feel more positive this week. And I feel in my bones that this job hunt is drawing to a close.

In the meantime, I’m needed at home. It’s a good feeling to be where you’re supposed to be.

Run-On Sentence

Sometimes this site can really get ahead of me. Or… behind me, is more accurate. I guess.

We’ve been muddling through the winter months, as we do. Ask any Wisconsinite about this winter and the answer will generally be the same. A theme of: “It really hasn’t been that bad. Ready for it to be over though.”

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Funny because we’ve had constant snowcover on the ground since January (not November, please note) and the mailbox is looking a little nervous about the encroaching snow bank at the end of the drive. (He’s about shoulder-deep at this point.) But, you know, not bad.

We had a lovely Christmas season. Pointedly NOT a white Christmas, however. I managed to feel slighted. We more than made up for it with a season surrounded by family. My mom (poor sick dad couldn’t come!) came up the weekend before Christmas, Andy’s family all came in for Christmas itself and Mark, Marilyn and Eric made the trip down from Wausau the weekend following.  Just perfect. I swear my heaven might be standing in my kitchen churning out food for people. And so nice to have adults in the house for a change – people who don’t flail about on the floor and act like they’re gagging on poison when I serve something other than chicken nuggets and pizza.

January was basically a giant game of “Which cold do you have and have I had that one already?” We all lost horribly. Multiple times. On two occasions, Reid got taken to the doctor when I thought a fever on Day 10 of the cold signaled some other looming infection… only to be told that it was just another virus starting probably. One time that was coupled with breathing issues, but we were told that “we’ll tolerate a little labored breathing, but watch him.” Like… it’s okay if he only chokes a little.

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I happened to interpret “watch him” as “obsessively and continuously count his breaths per minute while he sleeps to ascertain if he is in respiratory distress”. So, asthma is fun. In fact, I’m finishing up my own ‘prednisone burst’ as we speak for a little bronchitis that I swore was fine until Andy was like, “YOU SOUND TERRIBLE, TAKE THE MEDICINE.”

February started like no February should. We lost my Great Uncle Mark unexpectedly, and everyone was completely rocked.

Mark and Marilyn live a couple hours north of here and have been such blessings in our lives. Graham and Reid know them like they know their grandparents or their aunts and uncles. My mind is busy listing this enormous list of things that Mark and Marilyn have done for us… just even since we’ve gotten to Wisconsin, though the list certainly doesn’t start there. Visits to our home, trips for family events, subscriptions to kids magazines, care packages, Christmas presents, recommendation to a local CSA. You name it. Mark was my grandpa’s little brother. I could hear a little of him in Mark’s laugh. None of us were ready for him to go. He certainly will be missed in our little family.

Mark’s death set me off on a little journey of which I’ll share just a bit. Listening to stories about Mark – who was a social worker in the health field, retired from an inpatient care and hospice center in Wausau – were inspiring. Those who knew him spoke of his presence. He cared deeply for others and made constant efforts to reach out and comfort or otherwise support those around him. His funeral was on a weekday and the church pews were filled.

I’ve told Andy before, but I want to be that blessing for others. I may be very much engrossed in the business of mothering and providing for my little family now, but as my boys become more self-sufficient, I want to pay attention with how we’re filling our days.

In fact, I was so moved that I reached out to our local hospice organization to start the lengthy process of becoming a hospice volunteer. That lengthy process is going to be a little lengthier than usual, because I immediately disqualified myself by having a family member who has died recently. They’re giving me a year to air out, but come this time next year once they’re feeling better about my mental state 😉 I’ll be beginning the process again. The disqualification is fair. It was Mark’s death that led me to them. Just not in the way that they think.

Deep thoughts from deep within the snowbanks of Wisconsin. We dream of summer now… and camping. Swim lessons for G. Perhaps getting Reid to sit through a meal without shoving his plate away from him and demanding, “No, COOKIES.”

Because 2-year-olds.

But mostly we’re just… getting along. Which is mostly why I’m not writing. There are days that go by when the TV never turns on. We talk and play and sing songs and tell stories. We race remote control cars around the house and think up our next projects. When we get stir crazy we go out and play in the snow. When that gets too cold, we come in and drink cocoa. When all’s said and done? It’s not a bad way to live.

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Building Immunity

Seriously. Reid is sick again.

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I’m pretty sure this [above] is what I looked like this afternoon. Reid is not only on Day 3 of a head/chest cold but now also has a stomach bug as well.

Yes, absolutely correct, for those of you paying close attention. He did, in fact, have a stomach virus two weeks ago to the day. He apparently has been lucky enough to pick up some other strain. Probably from his 2-year well visit to the pediatrician on Friday. Kid is cutting a tooth, so in addition to climbing on every vinyl chair in the doctor’s waiting room and flipping through all the books, he was also chewing on his fingers non-stop.

But, hey, whaddyagonnado.

Thankfully this time around, I was able to get him psyched about “grape juice” (shh, don’t tell him, but it’s Pedialyte). Both kids went on a Pedialyte strike for about a year, making hydration more of a challenge in times like these. Big thanks for small blessings, I guess.

In other news, I got Christmas cards out this weekend and Christmas decorations distributed in the house. I never realized just how difficult it would be to decorate a new house with a previous home’s decorations. It took forever, and it’s definitely going to be a work in progress over the next couple of years.

Andy and I also got outside today and conjured up some exterior decorations. I’ll see if I can snap a pic one of these days. We were able to repurpose some lit garland from the old house. Very unfortunately, 3 of the 4 strands had half their strands out. This, we realized after it was attached to the roofline.

Yeah.

I was like, “Well, these won’t be lit garland this year.” Andy was like, “Yeah, that’s going to bother me.” Suffice it to say, stringing lights on garland on an extension ladder in 34 degrees was an experience I hope not to relive soon.

Okay, ever. But it does look pretty. Proof coming soon.

Puke and Rally

This is a vulgar title, sorry. But Andy and I have been saying this phrase to each other over the past couple of days.

For those who may not know what a Puke-and-Rally is (although you can probably guess), it’s a phrase you’ll hear at a college party that’s pretty out of control. If someone drinks too much, barfs and then goes back to drinking (always a good idea…) it’s called a “Puke and Rally.”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Yesterday, Reid came down with what must have been a stomach bug. It’s been going around school. He felt warm at lunchtime, so I checked his temp – 101.2F. He poked at his lunch a bit and went to bed. A couple hours later he awoke, hotter than ever.

I went out to do a bit of Christmas shopping and came home after not too long. Reid was snuggling on the couch with Andy and his fever had reached 102F. Not long after I arrived home, Reid started vomiting without warning – as it often goes with these little guys.

Graham, who was sitting on the other side of me totally cracked me up. He goes to daycare, and this time of year, a barfing kid is a total non-event. He just moved closer to the television so Andy’s and my frenetics didn’t interrupt Handy Manny.

Reid was shaken up and cried throughout his following bath. With clean jammies on, we got him settled comfortably in front of the T.V. And he was fine.

No, really, he was fine. A half an hour later, still hot with fever, he started asking for Cheerios. I tried to coax him to just drink water, but he reacted about like you’d imagine anyone would. After those Cheerios were gone – more Cheerios? And then another request. And another. An hour after that, when I was putting supper on the table, he ran over with a smile on his face and said, “DINNER? DINNER!!!!” He ate two pieces of cornbread before I refused to give him any more. He had an early bedtime, and that was it folks.

This morning, no fever, and he’s seemingly 100% fine. Now we see if I’ve Lysoled and bleached enough to keep the rest of us healthy. I hope so, because we’ve got Thanksgiving on the line!!

That’s the Way Life is, Mom

have to share a conversation I had with Graham – 4.5 years old – last night. Over his plate of chicken nuggets.

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Graham: “Mom, let’s pretend that you’re a girl and I’m a girl so we can get married.”

Me: “First of all, I am a girl, so we don’t have to pretend that I am. Second, why do we both have to be girls to get married?”

Graham: “Because sometimes it’s a girl and a girl. And sometimes it’s a boy and a boy. That’s just the way life is, Mom.”

Me: “Oh yeah?”

Graham: “Yep.”

Me: “Who’s been talking to you about this?”

Graham: “Sophie” [another preschooler friend of his, quite precocious I might add ;)]

Me: “Ahh.”

Graham: “I talk to Sophie and Greta a lot. They know a lot about life.”

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The end. I was slayed. We moved on. It was no big deal for Graham. He’s still the age where he thinks he can marry his mom, so there’s clearly no need to go into the adult-world complications of marriage and relationships and who gets to do what and who deems what OK and not OK. There were no emotions coloring this conversation. Graham is ruled by a word of black and white. Emotions really only surface when it is a question of fairness or basic human need. Today for him the facts are simple – sometimes it is a girl and a girl. And sometimes it is a boy and a boy.

Because that’s just the way life is.