Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Meatball stands to get the balloon!

Pasta Salad

Whole wheat rotini, onions, peppers, garlic, black beans, avocado, olive oil, cider vinegar, oregano.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A stage presence made for radio

While practicing my instrument today, I decided to record my work. I wanted to hear what I sounded like, as I hadn't really done that in a long time. Typically I prepare myself for disappointment after listening to recordings. Music takes place in time, and moments are gone as quickly as they happen, which is true for the brilliantly executed phrase as well as the splatsplatsplat of the mistake. Recording, however, allows you to revisit these moments and assess just how brilliant the execution of that phrase really was or how egregious the error. Usually the errors which slip my mind are brought to the forefront on recordings, and the sound that I made isn't the sound that I thought I was making.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that while my performance of the first page of the concerto (one that I should have learned several years ago, by the way) wasn't great, and there were plenty of slips and blips, it music. My sound on the double bass is warm, somewhat dark, not so ping-y, and surprisingly consistent. It sounds like my singing voice in some voice is darker these days, sits comfortably in the middle to lower range of female singing.

Playing the double bass is not something that came naturally for me. I'm not a very physically adept person, and much of my time practicing is spent directing my stubborn body to perform that which my mind already understands. I have occasionally thought that when it was "pick up a strange instrument that no one else plays" day in high school orchestra, that I should have played the horn instead. But we already had horn players. REALLY good ones.

Singing, by contrast, comes very easily to me. I have perfect pitch and a strong music theory background that I picked up early. Unfortunately, I also have a stage presence made for radio. I didn't grow into myself as a singer until much too late in life, and really, does the world really need more professional singers?

Switching gears on the music topic, my primary musical function has been that of a teacher. And I wish to dispel the myth for all you parents who read this that musical involvement requires talent and that only a few people can be involved. Yes, I have seen and worked with plenty of talented students. I have also worked with even more students who did not seem to be musically "gifted" but decided that they liked it and wanted to participate.

But then, kids are less self-conscious when they're little. And even as they grow up, if taught properly, they don't care so much that they're not the best, as long as they're involved.

It's all you grownups! How many times have you said "Oh, I can't sing, I'm not good at it, I'm embarrassed" because you're not a trained musician? If you can sing a song and the melody is recognizable, you can sing, and you can learn to sing better.

Please, encourage your children to sing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Six years and one day ago...

Even though I didn't remember to write about our anniversary ON our anniversary (at least not in my blog; it made it to Facebook), we remembered to celebrate, and that's what counts.

Looking at us now in comparison to six years ago...we haven't done too badly. A little more grey hair for me, and I'm sure Musical Daddy would have more if we could actually see it. His beard has stayed the same. I'm glad to say that we weigh about the same as we did then. And that's not bad considering I've had two kids.

How we feel is another matter. We definitely feel older, even if we don't look as though we've aged more than the 6 years we have (although the kid at the "guess your age" game guessed that I was 37! Rat!). Children age us; a child with a chronic illness ages us even more. When we got married, Musical Daddy was 29 and turned 30 later that summer. I was 23 and turned 24 a few weeks later. Conveniently, I also changed jobs for the upcoming schoolyear, so there was no new name to get the kids to learn

I'm not the type of person who expects a big deal to be made over things like birthdays, anniversaries, and that day before Cheap Chocolate Day...what's that one called again? I don't consider my husband to be an insensitive clod if he doesn't read my mind and just KNOW that I want a certain gift. Sometimes I wish he'd be more decisive when it comes to choosing how to celebrate something or even where to go for dinner, but after we get over the initial decision-making process, it doesn't matter a bit what we do.

Snaps to him for suggesting that we do Dave & Buster's in the evening on Saturday to kick off the celebration (in typical Jewish fashion, the holiday starts the night before). We had a great time. We had dinner there--the food is typical "casual dining" food in that type of atmosphere. Then we played games. Dave & Buster's is a little like Chuck E Cheese for grownups. Some locations (like the one where we were) allow kids. Some don't. I hadn't been there before, partly because I didn't like the prospect of playing games in a smoky room. Fortunately, there is no smoking indoors in public places here anymore.

We played Skee Ball. We bombed "Pump It Up" which is like Dance Dance Revolution. Musical Daddy played a few shooting games. They had Guitar Hero, which we played together, but it was pretty expensive in terms of credits and you only get to play one song. We played a few racing games, and we played a Wheel of Fortune game. Nothing complicated, just spinning for tickets. Like Chuck E Cheese, you win tickets and can trade for prizes, so we got some dinky little toys for the kids.

After D&B's, we got some frozen yogurt at Razzy Fresh. We got some for my parents too. It's a neat place. Customers serve themselves and pay by the ounce. They have several flavors and lots of yummy toppings, including a nice variety of fresh fruit.

And if that wasn't enough fun, we did Kennywood yesterday! Of course, I already wrote about that.

Tomorrow my sisters turn 25. Next week, Meatball turns 1.

A separate post will hopefully follow about this, but I read Freakonomics today. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. The subtitle is "The Hidden Side of Everything." I enjoyed the various explorations in this book because they centered around questioning everything, which I like to do. You know, question everything--including questioning everything. The authors didn't believe that there were many simple answers...and if the answers were simple, they weren't the ones you expect.

The authors even referenced Steven Pinker and The Blank Slate, of whom my therapist frequently speaks. Steven Pinker makes the case for infants not being born a blank slate at all, but rather, everyone is the way that they are just because, and in the argument of nature vs. nurture, it's mostly nature. MOSTLY. Not that damage can't be done, and not that experiences can't make improvements, but that people come out that way.

I have not read The Blank Slate, so I'm not sure how much of this I buy, but it's certainly a different way of seeing things--your parents didn't screw you up as much as you think; you just ended up that way.

Anyhow, I'll have to think more about Freakonomics later.

If you will recall my new friend on the other side of the state, I'm less worried about sending her milk right away because I was able to make a connection for her to someone in South Jersey who so graciously offered to share her stash. I'm still going to work on the milk but I'll wait until she has the freezer space to send it to her. Or, depending on when we make a trek out east, I'll just wait until then and hand-deliver it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Make-Up Work

My mother pointed out that this summer, it is imperative that we have extra fun to make up for the past two summers, which were awful. Our make-up work while school is out is to have more fun with our children than we ever thought possible.

Granted, two summers ago wasn't that bad. Particularly when put in perspective. Two summers ago, The Boy had outpatient chemo once a week on Thursdays. It was summer. We'd go to the treatment center, have a donut (they used to have really good treats there, and cream cheese for the bagels. Budget cuts necessitated the removal of cream cheese and donuts), play or rest, and come home. We'd have to take care of the diaper know, every 2 hour changes. But without us having work in the morning most of the time (Musical Daddy had a Monday through Thursday job), it wasn't such a big deal to sleep a little extra. Summer weekends meant farmer's market and walks to the diner. We took a short shore trip. We didn't do much, although with a child under age 1, you don't do so much anyway.

Last summer was pure hell. Mostly spent with The Boy in the hospital. So much of last summer was just constant misery. And while we did get Meatball out of the deal, his arrival did not make things much easier. I'm just glad that last summer is in the past.

This summer, with The Boy off treatment, with us living in a new location, and having Grandma and Grandpa around so frequently, we actually have the opportunity to have the best summer in a LONG time.

We have season passes to the zoo and to Sandcastle water park. We went to Sandcastle twice last week. We spent most of the time in the Tad Pool, which is a baby pool with a few little slides and some fountains. We also went to Wet Willie's, which has a pool similar in depth to the Tad Pool and has a playground structure with slides in the middle. The Boy's favorite part about Wet Willie's is the water control capabilities. Kids can redirect water coming from the play structure; they can cause the water to come up out of the floor or from the ceiling, and from one direction to the other, they can pick up hoses, and they can run under waterfalls. The Boy didn't go down these slides, but he did go down the Blue Tuba Luba with Daddy, which is a big slide that requires an inner tube and the only one where people are permitted to ride in pairs.

Surprisingly, the lower limit for this slide is 36" tall, and The Boy is taller than that. He was scared out of his mind but had a blast.

Today we went to Kennywood Park. Kennywood is a medium-sized amusement park, much smaller than Cedar Point (Ohio) or any of the Six Flags, but larger than Dorney Park (Eastern Pennsylvania). My father's company has always had a picnic at Kennywood--tickets are cheaper and food and drink are provided. Sign us up!

There was next to nothing for Meatball to do at Kennywood. The kiddie rides specify that the rider must be able to walk independently in order to ride. He could have ridden on the carousel with someone but we never got around to it. He got to eat, though, and he got to be outside and be walked around. He even napped for an hour while we were there.

The Boy, however, was having a blast. Not that you would have been able to tell by looking at him on the various rides. He looked grouchy and annoyed every time...and then he'd get off the ride and say "again?" Some of the kiddie rides were only for the kids; others were designed for an adult to accompany the child.

We were there when it was HOT outside. And it was the middle of the afternoon, so we were TIRED. We did end up staying about 3 hours. Musical Daddy and I got to go on two rollercoasters together while Grandma and Grandpa watched the kids (and gave them strawberries and cream). The lines weren't too long today, and we even went the extra mile and waited for the front seat on both coasters. We also took The Boy on the Log Jammer, which is one of those water roller coasters with a little splashdown at the end. He loved everything except the end.

I don't know when the last time was that Musical Daddy and I went to an amusement park together. I don't know if we ever have, in fact. Since I started working, I've been to amusement parks a handful of times with student groups. So has he.

The best decision that we made today was to get our hands stamped for reentry. Since we only live about 20 minutes from the park, we chose to leave before anyone got miserable, thinking that we could come back. Just two of us, or us with The Boy. We brought The Boy (who didn't do as much napping as we thought he might) and had even more fun! Carousel, Auto Race (twice) and almost everything else in Kiddieland that he might have missed. I took him on Garfield's Nightmare, which is a little boat ride haunted house (for the Kennywood fans, it's the Old Mill with new scenery and 3-D glasses). We rode the train and learned about Kennywood history. We ate Dippin' Dots.

He was a great sport and exhibited so much initiative. I was so proud of him for being independent enough to ride the kiddie rides by himself. He also did a great job of staying with us, listening to us, and waiting in line. He cheered as he watched the roller coasters.

I'm very excited for Meatball to be old enough for this stuff; physically he might be ready at the end of the summer, but I have a feeling that we'll have better luck next summer. The kids can do this stuff together.

Musical Daddy has a collection of walking routes in Pittsburgh that we'll check out. We might do one this week.

He has a job for 4 weeks this summer. Half-days, and 11:30 start. So we get up, have breakfast, play, he goes to work, the kids eat and nap, and it isn't long before he comes back. And then we go do something fun.

I think we're doing a good job on our make-up work.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The milk works

I have decided to attempt an increase in my milk supply in the hopes of pumping some extra to donate to a little guy on the other side of the state.

I found out about this baby and mama through a mutual Facebook friend. I was reading my friend's profile posts and found a note by someone else entitled "Our Stay at CHOP." I assumed that this meant "Children's Hospital of Philadelphia" and I was correct. Odd for my Canadian friend to be going to CHOP, but it was an online buddy of hers tagging my friend and other friends in the posting regarding their experience at this "world class" hospital. It sounded as though the family was having a similar experience as the one that we had.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia? And, were it not for the actual surgical work performed so successfully on my son, I'd have rued the day we walked in there.

This woman's baby boy is having issues with weight gain and has been "diagnosed" with failure to thrive. That's not a diagnosis--that's like saying it's wet because it's raining. Failure to thrive means that the child isn't gaining enough weight, basically. That could mean ANYTHING. A tongue tie can cause FTT (which was why no one ever suspected Meatball of having it). An allergy can cause it. But FTT is not only not a diagnosis--it is completely unhelpful.

The medical staff didn't remember anything about this woman's child. They said that confused him with another child on the floor, only to discover that there wasn't another little boy like him on the floor and they were just using that to cover up for their stupidity. They basically mocked these parents for using cloth diapers (sound familiar?) and gave them a hard time for wanting to sleep with their baby close to them. Many of the children in that area of the hospital had no parents for most of the time, and the medical staff seemed to be accustomed to making decisions about the children without having to "contend" with the parents.

The doctors prefer easily measurable, which is why they like kids being formula-fed. Doctors also admit to knowing little to nothing about human lactation, and if they do know, it's because they or their spouse or their mother taught them. Doctors also have a hard time understanding that a child who isn't tolerating formula shouldn't be fed more of it.

Incidentally, have you seen this?

So, inspired by my hatred of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and my distaste for baby formula as an automatic solution to feeding problems, I'm making milk for this little guy. I have 3 bags of milk, 3 oz each. One from a few weeks ago and 2 from last night and this morning.

I'll see how much milk I can get, and next week I'll put it all on ice, load it in a cooler, and send it on the Greyhound bus. It's a very quick and very effective shipping method.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toy Story 3 Today!

Today was The Boy's very first movie theater experience. I'm not sure about what age children tend to see their first movie in the theater. Has this age changed since home movies are easily accessible? In either direction--children may be more apt to sit through a film in the theater because they have sat through other movies at home. OR parents might take one look at their little charmers and decide that waiting until the movie comes out on video would be a smarter decision.

I'm going to try to make this entry as spoiler-free as possible. Of course, I already knew the basic plot of the movie because I read the story in the bookstore.

The movie was Toy Story 3, which we had been looking forward to seeing with The Boy since we saw the preview before watching Avatar. We figured that it would be a perfect first film for him, as he had recently become interested in the other Toy Story movies. He didn't care for the movies at first, but as soon as he got Pez dispensers with Woody and Buzz on them, he decided that their movie was worth watching. Same thing for Nemo.

The Boy enjoyed the theater lobby--video games to look at, air hockey (which we actually paid for, although The Boy decided that it was funny to put the puck in his goal multiple times, rendering the game shorter than it should have been), and wide open space, not to mention the GIANT painting of The Hulk. The theater was interesting to him, and the seats which he could barely hold down were amusing to him. Of course, the popcorn and candy were highlights of the afternoon.

The Pixar movies generally begin with a short cartoon, and this one was very cute. The Boy watched it and laughed in many appropriate places. We could see that he was very likely to sit and watch all or at least most of the movie.

We were also quite relieved that most of the other people there had small children; that way, they wouldn't get offended by The Boy's occasional running commentary: "Silly Buzz!" "Oh no! Where's Woody?"

He did alternate between sitting on the chair himself, sitting next to us, sitting on one of us, or standing near us. He tried to wander near the end, but he lacked conviction, so the notion didn't go anywhere.

Regarding the movie:

Like many other children's movies, this one had a plot that could be understood on the most basic level by, say, 6-year-olds. And by that I mean that a child that age would be able to recount many of the events in the movie and be able to talk a bit about the types of characters in the movie. However, the more meaningful aspects of the movie require the wisdom of years to understand. Likely a person at least as old as Andy, the boy in the movie, who is 17 and about to go off to college. The movie deals with issues of friendship, loyalty, and redemption, as you'd expect. It also deals with watching children grow up and learning to hold onto the past as only a memory instead of something that can be recreated in the present.

The movie had several jokes that related back to the other movies in the series and also had some little cookies in there for the grown-ups. Nothing "inappropriate" for kids, but just that they likely don't have a reference for jokes made about old movies or shows.

The toys in the movie seem to be adult figures. Except that, being toys, they don't age, and the only thing that happens to them is that they eventually wear out. From the moment they come out of the box until the moment they are thrown out or recycled, a toy possesses a certain intellectual capacity. Working with whatever laws govern toy behavior, they are forbidden to show the kids that they are alive and can see and hear them. Even so, these toys find a way to let their children know that they, as toys, are there when the children need them. It's a unique perspective, because the toys, as far as the children are concerned, don't have to learn about how to be better toys (contrary to what the toys who come to life would have us believe). The toys are subject to the children's notions of play.

As parents, however, we are always learning how to be better parents at the same time that our children are growing up and learning how to be people. Because you see, we as the parents have done a lot more learning. The children learn to be people for the first time; we have already learned to be people but must adjust to life as people with children.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Degrees of Difficulty

As you all know, cancer complicates life. Even after treatment is over, there is fallout for which one could not have possibly planned.

Furthermore, said fallout may not be attributed entirely to cancer or cancer treatment; it just raises the degree of difficulty a bit more.

I realize as we go through our "normal" lives which we are so fortunate to experience, finally, there are a few problems that The Boy has in terms of his behavior and "self-discipline." While he behaves as many other boys his age do, I feel as though the cancer treatment and its restrictions have stunted his social growth and made typical "terrible twos" and "little boy" issues that much more problematic.

One of the major gripes about little kids at this age is that they have a tendency not to stay put. Really, who would want to do that? Why listen to Mom when she says to remain in one location when looking at the neat stuff over THERE is just so much more fun? They do learn, though, that staying with Mom, or staying within acceptable boundaries, is the proper behavior. Mom makes it more enticing to stay nearby, or Mom plans outings in such a way that the boundaries are acceptable for the child, or the child somehow understand that it's better to stay nearby than to screw around. Remembering, of course, that the innate sense of "right" and "wrong" for their own sake doesn't really come about until kids are 6 or so.

Even so, when a child hasn't had the chance to get out and explore the boundaries and test the boundaries and learn that running away from Mom is a bad idea, he needs to make up for lost time. Somehow that "fear of the unknown" and sense of danger is completely missing from The Boy's consciousness. I'm not sure if that's something that he should have gotten already, something that he has yet to develop, or if we've just got one of those kids that will jump off things and over other things and play with fire and all that dangerous stuff.

Physically, The Boy is still behind where he should be. He carries himself like a child nearly a year younger, even though his strong vocabulary gives him away as an older toddler. He seems to fall a lot, which is also typical but is likely magnified due to his gross motor delays. This evening, I saw a child who was almost exactly a year younger than The Boy, and I thought that they were the same age, because they moved similarly. Actually, the other child was a better climber and could jump. The mother was worried about her son's verbal skills, and I reassured her by saying that The Boy at that age was not putting two words together, although he could request what he wanted for breakfast or ask for things, as long as he knew the word.

Even the parental concerns about how our children progress are both augmented and diminished as a result of cancer treatment. As in, there are some aspects of development that we know will be slower or be different, so we don't worry as much and we compare less. On the other hand, we examine certain behaviors or problems and think, "Is this normal, or is this cancer-related?"

Socially, The Boy is awkward and frequently chooses to play alone rather than with others. He is friendly initially with other children, saying "hi" at first meeting and trying to chase them if he sees them running. He never engages in a group activity for longer than 5 seconds or so. He also doesn't EVER stay interested in a concert, a story, or even many movies. Even when other children his age are sitting and listening, or participating, he doesn't. It's the lack of consistency--he was only rarely able to attend storytimes and concerts and such, until coming off treatment. Now that he can go more regularly to things like that, it's still such a chore because he isn't interested and would prefer to do his own thing. Thing is, we can't force him to participate in things. Because then he throws fits.

It's normal kid stuff. With a little extra twist.

Teach it to your children

We've been spending lovely afternoons/evenings at the pool. Yesterday, The Boy went in the big pool with Daddy for a "swimming lesson." Daddy was a lifeguard, taught swimming for about 10 years, and knows more than a little bit about pool skills. There's no reason for us to enroll The Boy in swim class, considering that Daddy can teach him just fine...right?

Same thing with music lessons, no? Between the two of us, we could teach our children to play any instrument at least through an intermediate level, higher on more than a few.

Will we teach them these things? Or will we find someone else to do it? I guess it depends on how well they take to learning them from us. On one hand I can't imagine that our children would dismiss our expertise (at least not this young!). On the other...sometimes the struggle between teacher and student is different than that between parent and child. Being both of those things, we need to balance both types of struggle, particularly when we choose to take on the responsibility of teaching our children something that other parents cannot teach to their children.

Having said that...parents should be careful not to abdicate all teaching responsibilities, no matter what choices they make with regards to their children's education. Parents who know nothing about what their kids are learning have very little success in encouraging them to embrace it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're getting our bed back! (?)

As soon as I write about this, if I'm not already in my bed, I'm going to go back and find all of my bed-related posts regarding The Boy. Because I'm interested in remembering what we did each time and what was the undoing (cancer, anyone?) of each attempt to get The Boy to sleep in his own bed.

But for now, I'll focus on the present.

Last night was miserable. The Boy woke up asking for something or other, and to go downstairs, and to get water...and and and. We had a really hard time and tried to get him to sleep elsewhere out of frustration. First the spare room. Then his bed. Meatball was NOT happy about that. Then The Boy asked for the potty. And pooped. Thank goodness for small favors.

So, at 2 AM, both children came downstairs with us. Meatball nursed and went back to bed.

The Boy didn't seem to give a darn that he was keeping us up and that we were exhausted. So back to bed he and Daddy went after awhile. I stayed up. Then I slept in his bed.

Tonight I put Meatball to bed after their bath. I cleared some junk out of the van and returned to The Boy finishing up watching a movie with Daddy. Then it was time for two books (which he read on the iPhone), and I took him to the bedroom. It was initially pretty frustrating, because he whined and woke Meatball, who needed a new diapers and to be nursed back to sleep. Additionally, The Boy wanted to play instead of sleep, as now he is very comfortable playing in his room.

So...I decided to employ the "mom will be right back, stay put" technique. And, miraculously enough, The Boy neither complained nor followed me. I came back a few times, just to let him know that I would. I left for awhile, and Meatball was still whining. After I figured out that he still needed me, I went up to get him and, amazingly enough, The Boy was fast asleep, tucked away in his bed. Once Meatball FINALLY had his fill of milk, he went to sleep too.

I thought I'd be camping out in there for the next few days...maybe The Boy is really ready to sleep in his own bed. We'll see how it all works out.

It's not just the sleep, though, because the sleep itself is less of an issue. Yes, he needs to sleep on his own eventually but I would be less inclined to move him if the sleep issues and waking issues weren't a part of a larger, ever-present problem:

The Boy needs to start being a "normal" kid.

The feedback I have received from other families indicates that it will take awhile for him to understand that just because he is no longer the center of the universe and just because he doesn't always have every wish and want met in the blink of an eye, we still love him very much and want the best for him. Also, it will take him awhile to understand that other people's feelings are important as well. Of course, this is a normal 2-year-old problem, and it is a developmentally appropriate problem to have, but the issue is magnified by the issues brought on by his illness.

Another problem that I have just begun to address is the whining freakouts at little things. For example, if we put on music that we think he'll like and he wanted something else, he starts to whine. There are the potty protests and the desire to omit handwashing even though he knows that handwashing is a part of the process. Elmo said so. There is the complaining at the table. Again, typical two-year-old stuff, magnified by the fact that we'd been really working hard NOT to tick him off because of his high blood pressure. Since that is pretty well under control, a little cognitive dissonance is good for him sometimes. So I resort to a little bit of preschool-teacher coaxing: "We understand you and can help you get what you want when you speak like a big boy."

It actually worked.

Everything that we have to do with him needs to be done "Gradually, With Love" (come on...where's THAT chapter heading from...leave me a comment with the answer). It is difficult to keep our perspective sometimes when he's driving us batty, but we continue to acknowledge his opinions and treat him respectfully. Even if sometimes he has to be led away or picked up and moved.

Next items on the agenda for the relatively near future: completing potty training for The Boy, continuing with the potty intro for Meatball (he's gone in the potty about once a day for the past several days, and today he even peed on "cue."), and getting The Boy to eat vegetables again.

Wish us luck.

Yes, that is The Boy in his own bed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We love puddles!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Drug Problem

I decided to do a little bit of nosing around online after reading Dr. Mercola's latest anti-pharma article. As I have said numerous times (and have come under attack by people who think I'm trying to make them feel guilty), I tend to prefer the path of least intervention, the path of addressing the problem and not just the symptom. Dr. Mercola is an extreme proponent of this. I disagree with him sometimes or find him to be over the top, but reading his newsletter reminds me to make a few more healthy choices for myself and my family.

I like to see the extremes so that I can figure out where to place myself.

But this isn't about Dr. Mercola today.

I decided to nose around online and learn about the possible side effects of The Boy's medication. He takes Enalapril once a day for hypertension. Enalapril is in the ACE inhibitor medication family, so I googled "long term effect of ACE inhibitors."

I discovered that a possible side effect of ACE inhibitors is diarrhea. Might explain the potty training problems.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Meatball just made poo on the potty. Yes, I said Meatball.

He was making "those" noises, so I put him on the potty, made "those" noises right back at him, and out it came.

My motivation for even starting him on the potty this early, other than the fact that many other cultures don't use diapers or use them infrequently, is because of his sensitive skin. Any time he can be out of diapers, or avoid sitting in poo/pee, it's good for him.

Who knows--maybe I can Meatball trained before The Boy. Wouldn't that be something...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who needs sleep?

I get the feeling that tonight is going to be a difficult one in terms of getting the kids to sleep. And the grownups.

We were up at around 5AM to get The Boy to the hospital for surgery. Meatball woke up soon after and stayed up for awhile. He usually gets up at 7:30, so a 5:30 wakeup time is unusual. BUT he took an extra nap, the last one ending after 6. While he usually goes to bed at 7:30 or 8, a nap at 6 might interfere.

As for The Boy, who also gets up at 7:30 or so, getting up extra early, then being under anesthesia (although it seemed like the same amount that he had for his CT scans and radiation back in NJ, where he'd snap out of it in a hurry and be back to normal in short order), then having a long late much for the 9PM bedtime that we at least attempt every night.

Since Musical Daddy and I both got naps today, we're just going to roll with it.

After all, life with children can't be all about schedules and strict regimens. Sure, you want to have structure and routine, but if you aren't flexible, you'll be miserable.

Or, as we say in the teaching world, monitor and adjust.

We're in

The Boy went in about 10 minutes ago. I would have updated, but I had to eat.

One more round

We've been here at the hospital for about an hour. I wonder if the feeling of routine, you know, the sense that you live there, ever really goes away. And we didn't log nearly the number of hours here that we did at the hospital in New Jersey.

We are awaiting The Boy's port removal. This will be his sixth surgery, three of which were major deals. This one is easy, although he doesn't know the difference at this point (he's still hungry).

We figured that we'd get breakfast after he went in; now we're hungry too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Breast cancer "vaccine" possibility, complete with side effects

I'm actually ill after reading this article.

Breast Cancer Vaccine...but there's a catch.

To summarize, the vaccine is being created to target a certain type of protein that is found in breast tumors. This protein is also found in the milk of lactating women, meaning that the vaccine would destroy a woman's ability to breastfeed. The vaccine may also be able to shrink existing tumors. It would be given to young women who are considered to be high-risk and also to women in their 40's.

The writer of the article is rather cavalier about dismissing the inability to breastfeed as a result, saying "there are choices to be made." This prospect bothers me because most of our culture is content to dismiss breastfeeding entirely, because "there are choices to be made." "It's a mother's choice; it's about what's right for her and her family." This vaccine, if it takes off, will render more and more women unable to breastfeed, and no one but those of us now on the "fringes" of mothering society will even care.

You see, breastfeeding is "a choice." Many mothers in our culture feel that a mother who chose to breastfeed could have just as easily chosen not to, that any given feeding at the breast can be replaced with impunity by expressed milk or, even easier, formula. Breastfeeding presented as a lifestyle choice completely discounts the ill effects possible from formula and the who-knows-what that is in it. Sure, you and you and you were fed formula and you turned out fine...but who knows, maybe being breastfed would have improved your life; you might not have the chronic illness that you have. You might have an easier time controlling your weight. You might spend less money on prescription drugs. Or you might turn out the same...but you never know.

Yes, I said "ill effect from formula" rather than "benefit of breastfeeding." Read this essay by Diane Weissinger to understand why.

Breastfeeding REDUCES the risk of breast cancer. Not only does it reduce the risk for the mother, but it reduces the risk for her daughters. So, thank you Mommy, for breastfeeding me and for encouraging me to do so for my children. Yes, I know that it doesn't eliminate the risk. My favorite lactation consultant nursed her 3 kids for nearly 2 years each, and yet she had breast cancer. And she says that she would not have forgone breastfeeding in order to receive the vaccine. I'm the last person with whom you want to talk statistics. of a kid who had a rare cancer...Having children and NOT breastfeeding them or barely breastfeeding them at all puts a mother at greater risk for breast cancer. And again, it doesn't GUARANTEE that the mother will get it because she chose not to breastfeed.

Life is about playing the odds.

I'm all for this treatment being marketed for the post-nursing demographic of women, the 40+ or so age bracket.

Younger women, however, don't know how they would be affected by not breastfeeding, nor how their future children might be affected. It would be horrific to find this marketed at younger women, saying "there are choices to be made." There are laundry lists of scare tactics that will likely be used to get people to agree to get this treatment, which is probably not cheap (nor easy, or they might have figured it out before). Yes, I am aware of how horrible breast cancer is. Yet, this is just too high of a price to pay...and the tragedy is, very few people agree.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Some of the best $5 ever spent: a Buzz Lightyear Slip n Slide.

Today, we had friends over--mom and little guy, 14 months old. First on the agenda was, of course, lunch!

The concept for the meal was dips. I figure, they're little kids, and it's messy fun. Of course, Meatball was wearing his meal in short order. I took tortillas and cut them into little wedges. I made a few quesadillas separately but for the most part, everything was to be dipped into using these little tortilla pieces. I had beans, cheese, salsa, salsa with sour cream, onions, peppers, and two kinds of hummus. I also made cut grapes in yogurt for the little guys.

Meatball LOVES food. He ate everything. The Boy was enthusiastic about the quesadillas but not much else...he could really use some color in his diet.

From there, we puttered around with toys for a bit, and I set up the Slip n Slide outside. Our little friend wasn't quite as interested, but The Boy LOVED it. He walked back and forth...and then he fell. Which was hilarious, so he repeated it.

Meatball wasn't interested and was also less than thrilled when I got him with the hose. Sorry, little buddy.

The interesting thing about the afternoon was that even though our little friend was 14 months old, where Meatball is 11 months, and you'd think they'd be playing together, it was The Boy, nearly 3 years old, who played with him. This kid climbed up the slide. He's tough. But "tough" at his age is probably just about right for a playmate for The Boy. I don't worry about his verbal skills, not having other little kids with whom to carry on conversations. He talks to us all the time. What he needs is a little friend who will encourage him to climb on stuff, because Meatball is too young yet and probably will not walk until after his first birthday. No big deal--I didn't.

On that subject, The Boy starts his physical therapy, finally. He will go every Monday. I think that he has improved significantly, just from the time spent on the playground. Hopefully the therapist will have some fun suggestions for us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The things we have to do to get things done...

I was waiting and waiting for a phone call or two to be returned. Said phone call was made to the insurance company of the neighbor who hit my parked van while I was at therapy. Oh, cruel irony.

I called my insurance agent, who, although I've never met him, sounds like a really cool guy based on the handful of conversations that we've had. I explained to him the situation, and he said that it's not his issue at all, that this guy's company would be taking care of it, but he'd be glad to call over there and nudge some people.

All of a sudden, I got phone calls. First from the other guy's agent, then from the claims person, and then from the appraiser. He'll be here tomorrow.

We can get a rental car, but since we really don't need it (Musical Daddy takes the bus to work, and school is almost over), we'll just live life as a one-car family, something that we were seriously considering anyway, depending on who gets what jobs and how easy it is for them to bus or bike to work.

We do have a friend who bikes from this area to downtown. Also, one of the teachers who lives on the other side of the city bikes to work. He says that it's mostly downhill on the way there anyway.

I did bike a little bit today. Following a quick family trip to Oakland for Musical Daddy's comic book fix, Daddy took the children to the playground in the wagon. I was to join them after I made sure that dinner was ready (cook everything, then leave it in the oven, but make sure that the oven is turned off. Stays warm enough for a park visit). I hopped on the bike and rode to the playground down the street...and found no one. Oops--wrong playground. No problem...although this one is a little further away, with more hills.

We played for awhile; then I put The Boy in the seat on the back of my bike and rode home. I took a different path, but it was still hard work. Particularly with 30 extra pounds behind me. The Boy is almost too tall for the bicycle seat, and Meatball is just about ready to start riding in it! I think The Boy can still ride for one more summer, provided that he refrains from kicking me.

I think I'm feeling better, overall, about the past 2 days with The Boy. I'm really not pushing the potty issue. I am, however, making sure that he understands, as well as he can, that he is responsible for what he does. If he makes a mess on purpose,
he is expected to help clean it up. If he wants to go somewhere yet runs away when we try to dress him, we won't chase him; we just let him know that he needs to be dressed to go.

Somewhere, buried in the pile of stuff downstairs, is our Love and Logic book. While I find this book and this parenting theory to be very appropriate for us as teachers and parents, I have also heard a lot of criticism, from both "sides" of the parenting debates. Some say that parents are just manipulating their children into thinking that they have a say when they don't. Others say that giving little children too many choices is a waste of time. I admit, sometimes I feel that way, when The Boy has picked out his third plate of the meal.

The struggle, as several wise friends have mentioned, is not about the potty, and it isn't about the toys or the messes either. It's about The Boy adjusting to life as something other than the center of the universe. Additionally, he is lacking in social skills, and to fight with him to get him to join in activities is pointless. We might be better off inviting one or two friends over at a time. Probably friends who are a little younger, at least at first.

There's NO way that The Boy would be ready for preschool in the Fall. He'll be 3. I don't worry that he'll "fall behind" if I don't send him, nor am I that excited to send my socially awkward kid, who will be one of the youngest unless he is held back (likely), to "school" when one of us will likely be at home and we won't have that kind of money anyway (long freakin' sentence!) He has no interest in group activities, his ability to listen and follow directions is VERY selective, and he has a tendency to get walked on, literally and figuratively.

Not gonna lie--homeschooling has crossed my mind more than once. Not going to do it, but it crept into my head.

Meatball is 11 months on Saturday. Where does the time go?!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

For the record...

Even though I have halted potty training with The Boy until he is more "ready," (actually, port removal is next week so it's just as well), I still think that T. Berry Brazelton is a corporate tool.

T. Berry Brazelton did a lot of child development research and basically endorsed Pampers, hailing the new product as one that makes mothers' lives so much easier because children can wait to learn the potty and parents can just throw dirty diapers away.

Creating new sets of problems...

Anyhow, I think I will still offer him the potty in the morning and before we go out, just to keep it in his consciousness, but give him the choice to use diapers, particularly when going out.

I swear...if I have any more kids (which I doubt) it's going to be EC all the way...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I give up.

I think I'm putting The Boy back in diapers. Every time he gets the chance, he has accidents just to get attention. There's only so much pee and poo I can clean up off the floor and his legs and only so much time I can spend containing his little brother while I'm doing it.

I'm also giving up trying to get him to nap. I will not lie down with him to rest anymore, because I end up neglecting Meatball or trying to get him to rest too, when he won't.

The Boy has been accustomed to having an adult, or more, to himself, when he is in the hospital. Fortunately, he's not doing that anymore. Part of adjusting to "normal" life is getting him to understand that there are other people in the family.

Maybe when school is out for Musical Daddy, we'll try to get all this in order.