Monday, October 29, 2012

Blown away

So! We have a honking huge hurricane coming to get us. The eye of Hurricane Sandy is headed just south of us. We've brought stuff inside, stocked food, filled containers with water, and in anticipation of possibly losing power, eaten some of the ice cream from the freezer before it melts. Eating ice cream is an essential part of storm preparation that I think doesn't get emphasized nearly enough.

The schools and libraries are closed today and tomorrow, so we're all cuddled inside the house, hoping against hope that we keep our power and that whatever is giving Katherine a sore throat and fever is viral, not strep, because it will be a pain and a half trying to get her to a doctor. She's perked up after ibuprofen and a four hour nap (!), so I'm hoping it's just her version of what Alec had this weekend.

Right now, we're enjoying a warm meal of chili and cornbread while the wind howls outside. I'm grateful for our warm, safe house and at the moment, much more grateful than I usually am for our lack of close trees. Hopefully we will stay that way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

That was the week and a half that was

Well! That was certainly a week and a half. No really, it's been an eventful week and a half. Although properly, it started two and a half weeks ago when I got a call from my mother on Thursday telling me she had been in the hospital since Monday.


I was in the middle of the grocery store, and while I called her back later, her phone kept cutting out, so I wasn't able to gather much more than that she had gone in for heart tests and they had decided to keep her for several days. She got out of the hospital the next day though, and seemed healthy enough to drive out to see us a week later for James's baptism.

So last weekend, my mother, her intrepid aide and my brother drove out to visit us and my aunt and uncle drove down from Connecticut as well. We don't get to see my aunt and uncle nearly enough given that we only live three hours away (thank you, weekend jobs), so we passed a lovely weekend catching up with everyone.

James was baptized on Sunday, wearing the traditional familial christening dress, now 106 years old. He was an absolute doll, allowing the minister to walk him through the congregation, smiling beatifically the entire time. He really is such a lovely, happy baby. If you're going to have a surprise third baby, I highly recommend having one like him.

My mother and brother stayed until Wednesday, so we got more of a chance to visit. And Doug and I went out to dinner alone with my mother so we could discuss various things about her health. On the whole, given that it was a conversation that largely revolved around what you could call end-of-life housekeeping, it was pretty good all things considered. It was established that yes indeed, we DID want to be called when she was in the hospital, preferably before she had been there three days. And my mother was even the one who brought it up, although my brother and I had gone in planning to talk to her about it. My mother had significant issues with her parents telling her about health crises - she learned about her mother's first heart attack through a letter written two weeks after the fact - so she's always felt pretty strongly about this sort of thing. Which is why it's been so surprising to me that this is the second time this year I haven't learned she was in the hospital until she had been there several days. We discussed making sure Doug and I both have all of the power of attorney we need (I have financial, but I'm not sure if I have health) and discussed other such cheerful topics as whether the insurance company would want any of her medical equipment back or if we needed to dispose of it. Not cheerful conversation, but necessary and good to have.

As it turns out, she was in the hospital because she's had a heart murmur her entire life, and they were doing a heart catheterization to establish what kind it is, but couldn't because there was too much pressure in her heart from fluid in her heart and lungs. So they admitted her for a few days to get rid of it and established that the heart murmur isn't a bit deal, so we only need to worry about that pesky congestive heart failure. She's not sure what her prognosis is, but as she said, it's never enjoyable to receive a diagnosis with the word "failure" in it.

Sigh. I don't feel ready for this yet. It feels like when you're dealing with a person in their late 80s or 90s who have a significant health crisis that really knocks them down and then have a series of little things for the next few years until the final big thing hits. So far this year, Mom has been in the hospital twice for her heart, once for a UTI that got out of hand and then got C. diff. Only she's only 74. It's too early for end-of-life conversations and accelerating loss of health.

So: family - good! Congestive heart failure - bad! Baptized child - cute! It was a long week but I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Friday, October 5, 2012

James at four and five months

My goodness, where does the time go? One minute you're crossing the tabs on your stick-like newborn's teeny-tiny diapers, the next minute you're straining to lift a fat, wiggly five month old. At his four month appointment, James was 15 pounds, 12 ounces and 26.25 inches. That's around 60th percentile for weight and 85th for height. So he's officially more than doubled his birth weight.

This is the handsy age. He grabs everything in reach, from toys to hair to plates, and examines them with scientific keenness before attempting to bring them to his mouth for the purpose of a vigorous gumming. Speaking of gums, he's been working on getting a tooth through for about a month now. Oddly, despite the fact that this is often a very drooly age, he barely drools despite the impending fang. He's still something of a spit-up volcano, although not as often. That has the effect of making the spit-up a more random event, lending a charming air of Russian Roulette to holding him without a protective cloth.

On the gross motor front, he went from happily lying on his back and doing half-rolls to one day rolling back onto his back every time I put him on his front. Then, the day he turned five months old, he rolled from back to front, and he's barely done anything else since. I will be interested to see how soon he can work up an army crawl. He's starting to take more than a few seconds to topple over from sitting to lying down. Katherine is very determined to teach him how to sit up, so we'll see if she can have him sitting independently before he's six months old.

He favors us with happy conversational cooing, with a couple consonants and proto-babbling being introduced just before four months. He's just happy, period. He doesn't seek out attention the way Alec did, but pretty much anyone who pays attention to him gets a big smile (not surprisingly, he's a very popular baby. I admit I'm hardly impartial, but he's got the sort of Gerber baby looks and cheerful mien that attracts a huge amount of attention in public). He adores his big sister and brother, and the huge smile he gets every time he sees them makes the aggravation of multiple children worth it.

Did I mention he's a happy baby? Happy happy happy. And we're happy to have him.


Monday, October 1, 2012


One thing making our lives complicated:

Our street is under major construction at the moment. Our water main broke at the beginning of August, sending an exciting 50-foot arc of water spraying into the air. As it turns out, our water main was built in 1917, so the city has decided that 95 years of deferred maintenance is probably enough and is spending the next six weeks replacing it.

It's making life difficult of course, since while it's still possible to drive on the street, whether or not we'll be able to get out during construction hours is a crapshoot. But it's interesting to see what a child's paradise our street has become. It's normally very busy, but now it's completely blocked off to through traffic and kids feel free to roam the street. I had no idea there were so many bikes on the street before now. So this is what it's like to live on a quiet suburban cul de sac.

Two reasons I'm proud of Katherine:

1. As we were on the last mile of driving home from Michigan, and I saw that the empty restaurant space in a local mall that excited us with recent construction, was going to be... Hooters. Katherine heard our disgusted reaction and asked what was wrong with "the owl restaurant." Hedging a little, I responded, "They aren't very nice to their waitresses." Katherine's reply: "Well, we won't ever go there then."

No, we most certainly will not, but I'm proud of her for deciding that on her own (she also hasn't mentioned Chik-fil-a once since I explained to her why we don't go there, which also makes me proud).

2. During math this morning, she was asked to solve 9 + _ = 17. Helping her out, I pointed out to her that she had recently solved 9 + 9 = 18, so what did she think you would add to 9 to get 17? She thought for about a second and said "8." Go kid! Now _that's_ what we're aiming for with math - not just mechanical adding and subtracting, but really seeing how the numbers fit together, and being able to figure out that since seventeen is one less than eighteen, you would need to add one less than nine to nine to get seventeen.

Man, I love our math curriculum.

The three step process that reveals the depth of my baby-brain deficit:

The birthday check B received from my mother and deposited in the atm was sent back to us because my mother forgot to sign it.

Reaction 1: What a pain, we'll have to send it back to my mother to sign or get her to send another and it will take forever, etc.

Reaction 2: What a shame I didn't catch it before we tried to deposit it. I have power of attorney for my mother and I could have signed it.

Reaction 3, a truly embarrassing number of minutes later: Hey, I have power attorney. I can sign it NOW.