Sunday, May 29, 2011

They grow out of it, and into it

Today was the first pool day of the season, and it was amazing to watch how the boys have changed since the end of last summer. The Boy was still not quite at full strength back then, and Meatball was still a baby, and didn't walk much if at all. Now they are both very comfortable at the baby pool, to the point where one of us could comfortably go with the two kids.

I'm frustrated that more often than not, bathtime is preceded by me getting hit by The Boy. He gets nasty and doesn't want to cooperate when it comes to stopping whatever he is doing for his bath. When I remember, I can avoid some of the struggle by letting him know ahead of time what's coming up. That occasionally works. Sometimes. But if I forget to do that, then I get "No! Stop! You have to stop!" and he swipes at me. My own advice to others about stuff like this is that eventually they'll look back and realize that their child doesn't do that annoying thing that s/he used to do because eventually behaviors are outgrown. So I have to follow my advice and while I continue to demonstrate positive behaviors and walking away from the kids when they hit (assuming a safe situation of course), this stuff won't go away until The Boy grows out of throwing fits and hitting and develops a better sense of timetables and tasks. It's something we had to work on with potty training, and it's still part of the rhetoric around here (Gotta stop what I'm doing and run run run to the potty) but getting a child to do something because it's "time" rather than because they really need to is a challenge. Maybe it's better to let him decide what we are going to do. Although he probably picks "stay home and play iPad all day, and by the way Mom, baths are for suckers."

It's a fun age. For both boys. Fun to see how Meatball is really a little person. Fun to watch both children get smarter and learn more every day. Less fun when they are cranky or talking back, but some of that forces a reexamination and adjustment. Also less fun when Meatball is woken up multiple times when trying to sleep.

As for baby #3, he seems to want to play, which is funny. I'll chase him around my belly, and feel feet (I hope) near my belly button. A few days ago, I was playing cello and he just wanted to get close to the instrument.

Also, I have a second interview for a great elementary string orchestra teaching job in a few days. Wish me luck. Especially since there is a playing component, and I have to get my pregnant self around a double bass...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Now hear this

Today was fun. At The Boy's school they had a lunch, to "welcome summer" and for teacher appreciation. Families invited. Our boys were good (except for a few times when we had to go looking for them...). Musical Daddy was a little kid magnet--several of The Boy's friends engaged in various forms of Daddy-tackling, and a boy who is David's good buddy actually sat on his lap. I think he would make a great preschool teacher, although I don't see him doing well with the inherent gender stereotyping issues.

He has recently explored this topic, so I won't get too into it, but I find that many of the issues with men/fathers just not knowing what they are doing and not being as competent with babies and little kids just don't apply to Musical Daddy. He does defer to me on certain issues, such as infant feeding and carseat safety, because I have done the research and/or possess the equipment. But he always knows what is going on with the kids and is very aware of what they need at any given point, even if what they "need" is to run around the house with no pants on singing the ABC's.

He is a natural when it comes to the little ones. And he is SO excited to have another itty bitty boy coming soon.

After the lunch, we went home for our very nice rest.

Then I had the distinct pleasure of taking The Boy for an ear irrigation. His audiologist saw him yesterday and let me know that he had a lot of wax buildup in there and it was likely contributing to increased feedback in the hearing aids. It wasn't fun, and he cried about it. I had to hold him on my lap which is, fortunately, pretty uncommon these days, but I haven't forgotten and he probably hasn't either. After it was done and he got stickers and we walked out, I asked him if it hurt or if it was just annoying, and he said it was annoying; I hope he understood that and was telling the truth, because if it did hurt, I'd rather that he feel fine in saying so. I haven't has this procedure done, but that's what I've heard about it.

I realized later this evening that I should have referenced the page in One Fish, Two Fish where the guy has a bird in his ear. I did ask him later if that's why he needed the ear cleaning, and he said yes. Silly boy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

About the list, and luck

How lucky I am, to be sitting up with The Boy, an hour later than he really should be up, waiting for him to go to sleep, because sometimes he still has trouble. How lucky that I get to offer him new decals for his hearing aids. Or remind him that he needs his medicine.

Another precious warrior got her angel wings today. A heart-wrenching description, as a family friend wrote about how Riley reached for her mother's arms and, then, was taken into His. She had been fighting and fighting, having completed at least four different types of treatment for Wilms Tumor, and it just didn't happen.

Riley's story was one I followed closely, as she had been on the regimen on which The Boy had been. She completed the entire 30 cycles. She still did well in school and was accepted into the gifted program. She also ended up with hearing aids.

Riley was wise beyond her years and was consistently true to her faith. She gave her parents hope when they struggled and, reading her story, she seemed almost fearless. That's easy to say about my kid, who didn't really understand what was happening to him, but Riley was six when she began her battle and ten when she lost it. She knew what was happening to her and still remained so strong.

About five hours later, Riley's maternal grandfather passed away as well. If heaven is there as it is described, then they travel together. But they leave behind Riley's parents and three younger siblings, whom I hope have been given some of Riley's strength.

Another child in our Wilms community is also in that "make him comfortable" stage. After 3 magical days on his Make-A-Wish trip, he became very ill and had to return to his hospital.

I know of these families through an email group. Everyone has a child who is either on treatment for Wilms Tumor, is off treatment, or is an angel. There are also a few adult survivors. The list changes. Some who are no longer fighting don't really keep up with the list because it's too hard. Some who are off treatment prefer to keep their distance, while some come back to congratulate on clear test results and help support those who get bad news. Frequent topics include educational and social issues as they relate to the post-treatment child. And, of course, there are the new members. And we always say, glad you're here because we are glad to help you, but sorry you have to be.

I really hope that the reason for the list growing is that more families are being made aware of it, but I'm just not feeling that optimistic.

Why do I stay on the list? I know that my heart is just going to break over and over again for these children and families who were on the wrong side of the statistics. And I'll just be reminded of how we aren't our of the woods yet with The Boy. However, it is important to share these stories and to pull together with people who REALLY understand, whether we are searching for satisfaction with a medical decision, dealing with emotional fallout from our sick/formerly sick children and their siblings, or trying to figure out the best way to get special service for our children because we might not know what the toxic chemicals have done to them.

If you pray, pray for these families. Also, a Jewish mother of young children in NYC is fighting cancer. Her name is Chaya Meira (will get her mother's name soon). The "Chaya" was added to her name, as it means "life." Anyhow, the family is asking for people to do Chesed, acts of lovingkindness, in her name. It's a Jewish custom to do something like that; have in mind the name of a person who needs healing as you do something good and righteous. Every little bit helps, right?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Disasters (relatively speaking)

I'll pat myself on the back for being very self-aware and recognizing that I am the one who sets the tone (thank you, Positive Parenting Challenge, for the reminders) and I am always in control of how a situation is going to go, because I am armed with knowledge and foresight and planning capability.

AFTER I give myself a stern talking-to for completely ignoring my instincts and knowledge and foresight. When a parent ignores that instinct, things can frequently go wrong.

Here's how it all went down. The new member blessing and congregational picnic at our synagogue was this evening, and we were excited to go. Particularly once we got there and learned that the menu included both hot dogs and Rita's ice. Thinking about it, though, since the service took place before the meal, we decided that just The Boy and I would attend, and Daddy would take Meatball out somewhere else special. And Grandma and Grandpa could actually have a quiet house for an evening.

I should mention that Musical Daddy and I worked today. It was nice--we got to work together. We arrived home from work around 4:15 and found the boys playing in the living room with Grandma. Everything had gone relatively well at home that day with the help of Aunt J. Mom said that it was a pretty active day for her with the kids. Did Meatball nap, I asked? Well, he did, but The Boy did not.

And that, right there, was the problem.

The Boy is at that awkward stage where he thinks that he can get by without a nap. I can barely get by without a nap. Some days I don't know how I function after 1PM. So when it was time to leave for services and the picnic, he turned on his usual "I don't want to go!" hysterics. A little worse than normal but I figured he'd be happy once he got there. He was pretty excited to be going to school again that day (as it was also where he goes to preschool). And he was happy that they had a name tag printed out just for him! We got in to the service and they were just starting. I picked a seat in front of a family where the mother was a friend I had gone to school with a long time ago and the older daughter was in The Boy's class. He FREAKED the heck out, so we had to walk right back out. First we were in the hallway trying to calm down and some older ladies were shushing us. Thanks, like I didn't know that the kid was loud, that's why we left the service. We moved to a bench further up, and we saw more of The Boy's school friends walking by on their way in with their families.

Did The Boy want to go in and sit and sing songs and have fun with friends? No. Not even if, when we were done singing songs, we could have hot dogs and fruit ice? No. Do we need to wait? No, we just want to go home. Well, Boy, we're not going home. I realized that sitting there was a waste of time, so we just left and got in touch with Daddy and Meatball to meet them for dinner instead.

As we were waiting at the light near the building, The Boy decided that he wanted to go back. Well, too late. We didn't. And he screamed. And he cried. And he said "Nobody loves me!" which I am certain is a line from the old "Cat in the Hat" movie. Just like there are things that he'll now say "I do not like it!" for, which he got directly from the "Green Eggs and Ham" book. Who knew that Dr. Seuss could be held responsible for ornery behavior?

A good 15 minutes was spent on the "nobody loves me" issue. I of course told him that everybody loves him, and I named people who love him, and he said that they didn't. Of course. I then asked him some leading questions to perhaps get him to be able to verbalize his feelings a little better. We talked about how hard it is sometimes when you want to just keep doing what you're doing and someone else wants you to go somewhere, or do something else. Even though it might end up being more fun to do the new thing, you want to do what you are already doing and not change it. Transitions can be an issue, in other words. I let him know that we wanted him to do other things with us because we love him and want him to have fun, not because nobody loves him.

He fell asleep and stayed that way for about 10 minutes, maybe less, before we arrived at the restaurant.

Which, thankfully, had outdoor seating.

The Boy was somewhat happy to see Daddy and sat with him for awhile. Didn't really want to eat for awhile, even though I brought him strawberries. Meatball was, of course, thrilled as anything to get melon and other assorted goodies from the salad bar. Meatball was really quite good the entire evening, which was very helpful and made me feel better.

Also, The Boy REALLY didn't want to go to the bathroom, despite having leaked a little bit, both upon our arrival at the synagogue and our arrival at the restaurant. He was whining and complaining and dancing around, and still refused to let us take him. Finally he did, after the food had arrived. And thank goodness, because he did feel quite a bit better after that. This wasn't residual from the potty drama of a few days ago, though. We could tell that this was more about control, because he still felt so out of control this evening.

After we ate, we played around a little bit at the walking path and up and down the hill. We looked at the river and talked to the doggies as people walked by with them.

We went to the bookstore, as was the plan for Meatball and Daddy. They didn't have the books we wanted (have to go order them once I'm done blogging), but we did have gift cards which we spent on some fun books for boys--The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Hop on Pop, and a really cute train book. Also, we bought presents for a birthday party that The Boy will be attending on Sunday. The kids roamed around in the children's section with us for awhile, looking at books, reading a few, looking at some things. Meatball also asked for "new pants" (diaper change) completely unprompted.

So we did end up having an okay time, but things definitely didn't go as we had wanted.

Obviously I made a poor decision in trying to anywhere in the evening with The Boy without him having napped. Particularly on a day when we were both at work, because I think that he gets off-balance when he is away from us. But on the other hand, at some point kids do stop throwing tantrums of that sort, and at some point they are able to understand that if we sit in the service and sing songs and have fun with friends, then after that we can have a nice dinner which includes hot dogs and fruit ice. And they will actually listen to that and understand it instead of being defiant just for the sake of being able to tell Mom no. It was exceptionally embarrassing to see The Boy's friends going in to attend the service, and sitting with their parents and singing songs and all that, and just wondering, why in the world can't my kid do that? I know that he does at least an okay job of sitting with his friends at school to sing songs or listen to stories. Why is it that, particularly when we try and go to services, he just refuses? And more to the point, why is my kid such a baby when the other kids are acting like real people?

Unfortunately, even though it's been awhile, I have to pull out the old cancer card. Frustrating, because it isn't as if people can look at my typical-appearing 3 year old boy and see what he used to look like and what his health situation used to be. Some might get a glimpse of the hearing aids and wonder, but the real reason that The Boy really is still different from many kids his age has to do with the scars on his belly and the scars to his psyche. We don't know what fighting off medicine has done to him. We don't know if the fact that I gave him shots for over a year of his life has contributed to his frequent desire to push me away. We aren't sure if he has an unconscious issue with us because we willingly brought him to the hospital when he was feeling well so that he could be given medicine to make him feel awful. And, more simply, he didn't really get to be 2. He didn't really get to be 1 either. Most of the time he spent at those ages was hardly what you'd call a childhood.

My mother brought up the point that that area of development, in the social and emotional spheres, The Boy is not at the same level as he is with his intellectual capabilities. Yes, he can read a little bit at his age, but can he play in a group? He can write letters and numbers, but is he able to do an activity with other people, when that activity is supposed to take place? I don't have any desire to downplay my boy's strengths or dismiss them in favor of what I might think is important. However, certain areas of weakness in him are bound to cause some issues.

Ultimately, a rough evening out is still better than, say, a visit to the ER in the fast lane. But I'm disappointed that I didn't do more to prevent The Boy's hysterics. And I don't think that there needed to be any additional retribution here. The fact that he didn't get hot dogs and fruit ice finally seemed to stick with him. It was a natural consequence, I thought--he didn't want to stay, so he didn't get the food after. Similar with last event--they were crazy and wild, and The Boy was upset by not getting ice cream, but we were done chasing them and couldn't deal with it anymore; had to go home. Missing ice cream was unfortunate, but it happened.

It's been very exhausting. I'm falling asleep in my chair and it's only about 10PM.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I am glad to report that The Boy is on the mend. No longer afraid of the toilet, thank goodness.

Quick story: The Boy was going to the bathroom (putting off going to bed but still having to go for real). He had been playing in his room and brought some toys in a hat, which is silly enough. He started to tell me that neither of us would be going to bed. He looked in the hat and said "we have to STOP going to bed" and held up a little stop sign. I said that I wanted to go to bed. I still haven't but I said I wanted to. He repeated "we have to STOP going to bed!" and kept on holding up the sign. I laughed out loud.

Unpleasant, plus good news

Any time that pop becomes the central focus, things get unpleasant.

So does The Boy.

Yesterday was "scan" day, and he didn't want to pee then either, to the point where he had an accident right there and wiped out any chance of us getting a urine sample that day.

Most important was the news that The Boy remains with NED status. Not that we aren't perpetually worried, but the pop stuff was still on our minds. The oncologist brought up the point that a virus could cause the constipation. Odd to me because usually viruses go the other way. The Boy's white count was elevated, with nothing else wrong, which corroborated the doctor's theory. Fun for everyone. But still not a big deal by comparison, either to our cancer struggles in the past or the GI struggles of some of our cancer friends.

So it's been a rough time. MiraLax in the morning, and complaints from The Boy. He hurts, he says.

Meatball has been great through all of this. Very pleasant and cooperative. I think he knows.

I'm just glad that now that the looser poo has started, The Boy used the real toilet. Nothing worse than cleaning runny poo out of Elmo Potty.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You don't have to thank me...

The resident here in the ER came in to check out The Boy. She did the basic exam, such as listening to his chest and back and checking his ears and mouth. Then she had to look at his bum. Following that, she did a rectal exam and found no masses and no blood, and nice soft tissue.

He was quite cooperative. I think he remembers how to be cooperative for doctors even if he doesn't completely remember his hospital experiences.

We asked him to say "thank you" to the doctor. She was charmed, and said "you don't have to thank me for a rectal exam." Very quotable.

I don't know if the ER docs get a lot of "thank you."

On a similar note, we walked back with someone who seemed to be a grandmother, with a girl who was about 6 and didn't seem to be in too bad a state. She was very irritated at having had to wait. We said that we'd rather have to wait than be such an urgent case as to get fast-tracked.

She didn't get it. And with any luck on their part, they never will.

The ER, local traffic

Haven't been here in awhile.

Once, with Meatball, last October or so. We waited a LONG time. Hours.

Today is our first time here with The Boy since we got kicked out of the express lane. He's still in pretty bad shape so will be seen soon, hopefully. They did vitals already, within half an hour.

So what's wrong with him? Well, yesterday he had to poo, and couldnt. We did a suppository (actually, Grandma did) and he went, and felt better. For awhile. Then the next time he went, there was some blood in there and he was in pain. He felt well enough to attend my concert last night, but by this morning, he was in pain more than not. When we had talked to the doctor first, he said do the suppository. Next conversation was regarding the blood in his stool and the pain. The doctor said Tylenol and Orajel. Tylenol by mouth, Orajel on the bum. Not the original design, but it's for numbing, so...

Anyhow, since he was worse, and remained worse, the doctor said to bring him to the ER for some X-rays.

It was exactly an hour from the time we arrived until we were back in a room.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Mother's Day was. We had a relatively enjoyable day, although not necessarily the typical mom-as-pampered-princess type of day. Not that I expected it, or wanted it.

I said to my mother that Mother's Day isn't necessarily about "freedom FROM mothering" to which she responded that, sure, it was. Not really, because kids as small as mine don't really know the difference. They still need Mom.

The Boy had a fever, and, as we discovered today, has another ear infection. Now what I'm wondering is, do the ear infections have to do with the hearing aids or the start of school? Both happened around the same time. So yesterday he was a little cranky and irritable. And now we have the wonderful antibiotics and the accompanying loose stools to go with them.

Meatball is getting better at the bed thing. Interestingly enough, he has had a few poos late at night, or at naptime, and he'll get up out of bed and stand by the changing table. Good thinking, kid.

We did have a grilled dinner, courtesy of my father and me. I don't mind cooking. I enjoy it--I like being able to prepare the food and present the food, preferably with someone else amusing the kids, but they can "help" if they're around. Also, it's nice that someone else will usually do dishes for me.

And we had cake.

Today, I worked. It's interesting how after spending only a few days working for someone, I can figure out SO much about them and the way that they do their job.

Only about 2 months until I become a mother of 3. I'm getting rounder every day.

I hear...boys.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Operation Toddler Bed

Meatball's attempts to escape his crib (not when he's trying to sleep, but when he's waking up, mostly) were met with an abrupt bed shift on Friday night. Musical Daddy removed the crib and replaced it with the little toddler bed that we had bought for The Boy and had used with very little success. We didn't want Meatball taking a header out of the crib, and his climbing technique indicated that he was moving in that direction.

Friday night was the first night. I should mention that it wasn't a great evening anyway. We attended Tot Shabbat at our shul, which should be lots of fun. This is also where The Boy goes to preschool, and some of his friends from school were there, as well as one of his teachers who just adores him. However, our kids are a little squirrely to begin with, and they seem to reserve the most resistance to group participation for these events. The Boy ate nothing but strawberries, despite the fact that we thought to bring noodles and sauce as our potluck entry. Meatball ate well, but then, he always does.

The kids weren't listening, weren't staying with us, were wandering off, and in a moment of Mean Mommy-ness, I decided that the perfect time to throw in the towel and leave the event was when we finished the services and returned to the reception room for dessert. Yes, I pulled the old "you didn't listen, so now you don't get ice cream." I'm not entirely proud of that but frankly, I was tired of chasing them around and I figured that they'd had enough of the group setting. Unfortunate that they missed ice cream as a result.

With regards to the bed, though, the first two nights have been...not too bad. The first night, which followed the missing of ice cream, involved a long time of Musical Daddy sitting with Meatball and putting him back in bed and playing him recordings and such. When we finally got him to sleep, he stayed asleep until 7:30 AM. The second night involved putting Meatball in bed and after a few minutes of wandering around, he snuggled in and slept. However, he was up at 2:30 and wouldn't go back to sleep, either with us or in his bed. I'm completely fine with children visiting our bed at night, if they actually sleep. If they come in to play, then they get bounced back to bed. It was 3:30 when Meatball stopped resisting his bed, after being back and forth between his bed and ours, and he slept until 7:30 again.

Naptime was a bit of a bear yesterday. We started the nap process late, and he didn't really want to nap, and he kept getting out of bed. In my stubbornness I missed that he was getting out of bed and going to the changing table because he had poo in his pants. After fixing that, he went down for his nap and was fine.

I felt bad because there have been more tears during this process than I prefer with regards to my kids and bed. I don't like it when my kids cry. No one does. But there seemed to be little I could do to fix it. If he'd actually do it, I'd snuggle him to sleep or almost to sleep and then put him in bed. If he'd nap with me like The Boy still does, I'd be glad to forgo independent napping for Meatball in favor of a consistent family nap. I could just say that Meatball can make a decision himself about naps and whether he needs them or not, but that's not realistic either. He has frequently said that he wants to rest, and has been put in his crib to do so without any complaint. So it isn't as if he doesn't want to rest; he just is unaccustomed to the new venue.

I lament the fact that Meatball has been SUCH a low-maintenance sleeper, even when he was waking up in the middle of the night for feedings, and now we actually have to work at getting him to bed. Maybe. If he can go to bed like he did last night and stay asleep like he did the night before, we'll be fine.

It's interesting to see Meatball at 22 months now, which is the age that The Boy was when Meatball was born. Back then, I had two babies. Now I've got two little boys who talk and climb and run around. Not that it's a fair comparison because of the whole illness factor, but Meatball at this age is SO different than The Boy was.

As for The Boy, he isn't feeling very well right now. We're going to take him to the doctor tomorrow--he had this fever with wheezing and coughing thing that went away and came back. Could be just another kiddie cold; could be something a little more serious that requires medication.

And finally, on the list of Things That Aren't Fair, I wanted to mention that we have some new angels. A little girl who is the daughter of my sister's colleague lost her fight with cancer at age 4. The funeral was this past Friday. Also, Meghan Henry, a 22 year old nursing student and long time Wilms Tumor patient, passed away late Friday night.

We live our normal lives, and yet, in the back of our minds are these stories of these friends that we've never met but with whom we are connected thanks to our membership in this exclusive club we never really wanted to join.

David has his next oncology checkup on Monday, May 16. We hope and pray that he remains disease-free.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Spring in Western PA tends to be heavy on the April showers. We get just enough warmth and sunshine to trick us into thinking that our Spring and Summer wardrobes need to come out and then it doesn't matter because we seem to have so few places to go.

The Boy is sick with a cold and is wheezing, so we will be calling the doctor in the morning.

One of the highlights of today's indoor activities was time spent playing on the Wii. In addition to enjoying the Wii Fit "obstacle course," we also played with the little characters (called Mii for those who haven't seen it before). We made a Mii for several of The Boy's school friends and one of his teachers. He picked some of their features in order to make the Mii look more like the friend, and then he would tell me how to spell the person's name. I helped, but he really seems to know how to spell those names!

Yesterday was the eye doctor for us grownups followed by a rare treat--The Original Pancake House! It isnt particularly close by, but it us near the eye doc. We have IHOP nearby, which is nice, but this is much better. And the kids were SO hungry, and so excited for pancakes.

Unfortunately I seem to be getting whatever The Boy has. Cold or something. I'm wiped.