Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Have children, will travel (grumpily)

Here we are in New Jersey, having put in a 9-to-5 day (more or less) to get out here. Worth it, to see our friends and their new baby boy, and for a little bonus visit with Musical Daddy's BFF, his brother and family, and Grandpa of course (the kid's grandpa, not his. Also worth noting is that I call my mother "Grandma" just as often as I call her Mom or Mother, even when not in the presence of my children). And since we don't have real jobs, we are a lot more flexible with our time.

The children are not bad travellers; they just don't always like being stuck in the car for hours. Particularly Meatball, who isn't necessarily old enough to stay focused on either a toy or whatever media happens to be playing over the car stereo. We own a portable DVD player, but I'm just not thrilled with the idea because I don't want it to be overused, at least not now while they are this little. Meatball still rides rear-facing anyway, as per the new AAP recommendation that kids stay rear-facing until age 2.

Side note, and possibly fuel for a later post: while rearfacing to age 2 isn't law yet in the various states, I've read an alarming number of people responding to the recommendation who come up with the most ridiculous reasons for not wanting to keep their kids facing backwards. Not the least of which is, they can't see the movie. Watching The Boy in his carseat, he wants his feet up if possible, sitting cross-legged. You know, the way that kids have to sit rearfacing. He has outgrown sitting rearfacing, at least in his seat. That's what little kids like to do, so the issue of leg space isn't an issue. Neither are leg injuries. If I post on this topic again, I'll be sure to cite some sources, but right now you'll just have to believe me.

Anyhow, so they were cranky. And The Boy was on potty strike. If anyone has any advice for getting a kid to "try" before leaving or in a rest stop, or anywhere where you know there won't really be another instant opportunity to go, please share. We do need to trust him more, as forcing him to go when he doesn't want to leads to temper tantrums and fits, and sometimes (although, with the exception of today, this hasnt happened in a LONG time) soiled pants out of spite. But he also needs to learn the art of "go now so you don't have to worry about it later." particularly when the rest stops are nice enough to provide little potties for little people.

Also on the list was The Boy pushing his car seat chest clip down. While I have seen these put on incorrectly, we don't mess ours up. A chest clip that is too low (it should be at armpit level for the kid) is unsafe because the carseat straps can fall right off the shoulders, allowing the child to slip out in a crash or even if they move wrong. We stopped the car at the next exit, I got an extra potty break for myself, and we didn't go until The Boy was done. Not screwing around on issues of safety.

Between those things and a lot of yelling on the part of Meatball, it was unpleasant for the kids. We even stopped at my aunt's house in the middle of the trip. Tomorrow (well, tonight, since it is 1:30 AM) we will stay over there to break up the trip.

The last thing I want to do is hold a grudge with the kids over travelling unpleasantness. Particularly since once we arrived, they were very happy. I know that as they get older, they will find ways to amuse themselves and each other that don't involve fighting. They already do some singing in the car and of course we hope to continue that. We also hope to make good travellers out of our kids. Growing up, we took car trips all the time. Usually to Grandma's house.

Why 1:30 AM? Well, I was asleep around 9:30 after finally getting a sleep-resistant Meatball to settle down. I was TIRED. But I was awakened at 12:30 by a crying Boy. The preceding thud didn't disturb me, though. He was asleep in the room down the hall and had fallen out of bed. He is now next to us (but still, he started out on his own so we hopefully won't regress on the Boy's own bed thing). It was enough to wake me and keep me awake. Might be time to play some Winnie The Pooh movie on this iPod. Desperate times...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Important Dates

I've missed a few dates on my blog this year. Often when certain dates or anniversaries come up, they cross my mind and sometimes cross my blog.

Valentine's Day. Missed that one. I think The Boy was sick with something. Not a major deal around here anyway, although we got some cute cards, and a cranky Boy wrote on a card "Love, The Boy" a few days later. Or a few weeks. It all blurs together.

The Ides of March. Not usually anything special unless perhaps you are Julius Caesar. Or unless you were a friend of mine from high school who died on March 15, 1998, during our senior year. He was flying a plane, as he loved to do more than anything. Something just went wrong. I was reminded that it's better to be good to people...I think of him every year around this time. And I have a former student who wants to fly planes too, and also plays the same instrument.

Another anniversary approaches, probably the most life-changing one thus far, with the possible exception of the kids' birthdays. And that is the first anniversary of the day that we were told that The Boy was done with chemotherapy. It was an easy date to remember--April 1st--because we thought they were joking. Plenty of cancer parents are unsure as to the exact date of off treatment status. You know...is it the last chemo date, 3 weeks later, or the OT scan date? Well, faithful readers will remember that The Boy and Daddy went to the hospital for a GFR and subsequent chemo. They did the GFR, and when the results came back, the doctor decided that the state of The Boy's kidney was not one that could take any more abuse from the toxic chemicals. He was backed up by a doctor who had conducted the original studies, and in those studies, kids were taken off treatment in the middle of the very long regimen and still had favorable outcomes.

Not sure yet what we will do. Actually, we have tickets for Kevin Smith that night, but perhaps a little ice cream cake?

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Room (and happy kidney) for Boy!

The Boy is fast asleep in his very own bed, in his very own room, that was just built for him out of a large upstairs sunroom here in my parent's house. The room wasn't doing much anyway. Just collecting junk.

Getting him to that point wasn't very easy, and he ended up just falling asleep, after about an hour of trying to fight the power with Daddy and then with me, as I read to him. Not what I'd prefer--I'd rather he come by his solo sleep honestly (as in, with honesty on my part instead of my having to sneak out) but it worked.

Not sure if it was the fact that he was so tired and just had to fall asleep some time or if he knew that Mom means it when it's bedtime. Usually Daddy and Grandma have better luck in convincing The Boy to do things, if they are things that need convincing (using the potty before an outing, today's episode of having to pee in a cup for the doctor, or just plain calming down) but I have a history of bedtime success with him.

We'll see how long he stays there and how often we have to bounce him right back, versus when we just give up and let him come in with us in the middle of the night. Because, you see, that would be an improvement. Just having him go to bed on his own and allowing us to have some time to ourselves is a good thing. And once we get him to bed initially, the sleeping longer in there will come.

In other news, we had a nephrology appointment today. The doctor said that according to his urinalysis, and comparing the one from this month to the one from last month's oncology visit, he was doing fine kidney-wise. He had bloodwork done, and comparing the urinalysis and bloodwork will paint a clearer picture. Last month he had +1 protein in the urine, which isn't great but is only a slight deviation from normal. A person with normal kidney function may still get that sometimes. This month he didn't have any. I asked the doctor about his peeing habits, how he really only goes about 5 times a day. I also told her that when he is sick, he is great about wanting more fluids and we always make them very available to him. She said that it sounds fine, as long as he doesn't get dehydrated. A kidney patient needs to be concerned about that. She suggested a watered-down lemonade as an additional drink option for him, if he does need to drink more, but that if he drinks enough, not to worry.

Likely after his next appointment, she will up the dose of his blood pressure medicine a little bit, to account for his growth. The fact that he is growing is another sign that the kidney is doing fine. But the kidney itself has to grow and compensate, and that puts him at greater risk for higher blood pressure, hence the medication.

After seeing the doctor, we did have to get the labs drawn. She said that next time, we'll sync it up with the hem-onc lab so that they can just do it up there. Poor boy was confused, though--he sat in the chair and gave the nurse his finger, saying "this finger" for a finger stick, but of course since they needed more blood, it had to be an arm vein. Grandma decided to get the boy a lollipop for during the procedure. Not that it took that long, but he was already in a Mood, so it was certainly a welcome distraction.

We are in kidney watch mode. Nothing imminent, nothing severe, just watching. The kidney doctor only needs to see him twice a year, so we're not TOO concerned. But we still need him to be monitored, and it's great that everything is in one facility where tests that oncology and nephrology need are done once and not twice.

It's also great that the cafeteria has such good grilled cheese.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Boy stuff, girl stuff

Aren't there boy butterflies too?

The gender identification thing is a combination of "nature and nurture." My boy's preferences in activities and clothing and characters is based around what they see. So they like comic book characters because that's what Daddy likes. Grandpa and I love puzzles. Not just the usual kid puzzles but the big jigsaw puzzles, so The Boy loves them and will sit for long periods of time working on them. Both children love letters, numbers, and colors. Meatball counts up to 10 and will go further if you say "11."

We haven't necessarily said that certain things are for boys and certain things are for girls. Meatball doesn't care what color the little ball popper toy is at the play center we frequent (there is one that is blue with rainbow popping balls and one that is pink with pastel popping balls), as long as he gets one. The kids love their play kitchen and "cook" just like I do. It was a gift from a friend whose very burly sons had one from their sister--they played with it to the dismay of their father and grew up to be chefs.

They don't play a lot of dressup, although their clothes are pretty boyish. I don't doubt that both of them would pick a pink or purple shirt if they could, every now and then, because they like all colors. Knowing The Boy, he would want to see all colors represented in his wardrobe because he is a completist like his daddy.

So, regarding the butterflies, last night at the JCC we went to a family Shabbat dinner. Since Purim is coming up, they also had a few Purim activities, including a collection of costumes. The Boy was interested in the butterfly wings. And I guess boys aren't supposed to like butterflies? A few other kids were talking about him, saying "that's the BOY who wants to be a butterfly" and giggling about it. Fortunately they said nothing directly to him.

About the wings themselves: they were fabric on wire, about two feet high, and they were black, brown, and orange. These were not fairy princess wings--these were the kind of wings that would make a kid think he could jump off of something and fly. The Boy has seen butterflies and he has seen both boys and girls (and big purple dinosaurs) pretend to be them. Butterflies are cool--why wouldn't a kid want to pretend to be one?

Not sure what to make of this, other than to let him be a butterfly if he darned well wants to. And to refrain from telling those boys that the cow masks that they were wearing are way more girly than a set of realistic butterfly wings, given than cows are well-known for their lactation abilities.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Milk Sharing--Human Milk 4 Human Babies

Everyone please relocate to


for your milk-sharing needs!

The Eats on Feets pages have been (unexpectedly) shutting down. We're proud to provide a space for milk-sharing under the name Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

New name, same milk! (thanks to my friends in the HM4HB chapter for that sound bite)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Let's talk fighting

My kids, being 3.5 and 1.5 years old, are prone to fighting with each other. Nothing major and nothing that can't be fixed with a hug and an apology, but sometimes it seems like whenever one picks up a toy, the other tries to get it, and when the other starts to do something, the one wants to be involved without being welcomed to do so.

I don't like to play referee all the time. In many cases, they are able to work it out, either by one of them getting distracted by somehing "better" to do, or by The Boy behaving diplomatically and giving Meatball a toy, saying "here, you can play with this!" or even *gasp* sharing what he has if it is something like letters and crayons.

But I also want to discourage both of them from hitting each other out of frustration. They'll learn eventually because they figure out that if you hit someone, they're liable to hit you back, whether it's a good idea or not. So maybe that, too, will work itself out, but probably not. Given that boys in particular and children in general are prone to smacking the crap out of each other for funsies.

Please, share with me your tales of sibling rivalry and toddler warfare.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Meatball has been following in the footsteps of his big brother, trying to jump on, and off of, everything. Frequently when he is jumping on something upon which he probably shouldn't be jumping (beds, couches, and the like), he actually gets a little bit of air. He is just about 20 months old.

I appreciate this developmental milestone because it was a physical therapy goal for The Boy.

I'm glad to say that The Boy LOVES to jump. And to bounce, and to hop like a frog, or hop like a rabbit, or pretend to be a kangaroo, or a bird.

It's been nearly a year since they told us, no more chemo; go home and be normal. And I still look at The Boy in amazement sometimes, because we are SO lucky to have him. And then I look at Meatball and think, what a blessing he is, as a typical child. It keeps me focused on his positive qualities during some of those times when I get bogged down by the difficulties that come with typical toddlers. Usually the easiest thing to do when Meatball is bound and determined to play with the dishwasher is to completely relocate. A different part of the house that doesn't have a dishwasher, or better yet has a pretend dishwasher, is the best place for him when he is getting frustrated that he isn't being permitted to open and close it and push the buttons.

Busy week this week. I'm playing in a concert band on Sunday, and we rehearsed Monday night and today (they rehearse every Monday night, usually). So that's two extra nights out for me during the week, and two extra nights that Musical Daddy is "on" without me. I trust him completely to take excellent care of our children--sounds ridiculous that I even have to say this about my husband, their father, but there are plenty of dads who struggle. That said, he's definitely been dealt some rough hands this week. The boys have colds and are uncomfortable and cranky. They've been sleep-resistant and have been fighting with each other more than usual, when they are tired.

The Boy learned something very important in school today: how to cough into his elbow. Yes, we have showed him this before, but of course when you see 9 other little kids your own age do it, and it's something that has been fun to learn, it sticks that much more. Also, it's fun for 3 year olds to learn those things together; less so when they're older and their teachers or parents are so exasperated by their lack of manners...

Unfortunately, his cough is getting worse. Nothing major, just a cold, but plenty uncomfortable. So he probably won't go back to school tomorrow unless he wakes up feeling like a million bucks. Anything is possible, of course, but I'm thinking the rest would do him good. Then, hopefully, we can make it to Tot Shabbat tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Human Milk 4 Human Babies

Eats on Feets has changed its name to the more globally accessible "Human Milk 4 Human Babies."

This is the same network that it has been, an online network based around the idea that families can make the informed choice to share human milk amongst themselves. "Breast milk is not a scarce commodity, it's a free-flowing resource," says Emma Kwasnica, the very same woman through whom I myself made the connections to give a little extra milk to a baby in need.

It's just as easy to use as ever. Start here:


And click on your local chapter, whether you are looking to offload a surplus of milk or you need some human milk for your human baby.

"Informed choice" means that the parties involved do whatever screening they'd like and ask for whatever information they need. Many mothers provide their bloodwork from the beginning of pregnancy to prove that they are free of certain diseases. Specific dietary concerns may be addressed.

Point being...if you've been involved, stay involved. If not, and you'd like to, go ahead and get started!

I can answer a lot of questions about this wonderful endeavor. However, it is the policy of the HM4HB network not to give out medical advice on behalf of the network.