Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Up?

Regular visitors to Krinkeland, I thank you. I'm glad you like the site, I'm glad someone is reading what I'm taking the time to write, and I'm glad you feel caught up in what's going on in our lives. HOWEVER, just because you know what's going on with me doesn't mean I know what's going on with you! Don't forget to shoot me an email or call to check in. Believe it or not, I am much more interested in hearing about what's going on with our friends and family than I am in talking about myself. Really. Really.

What Stinks?

Forgot to mention the most embarrassing part of Elisabeth's playdate:

When Rachel and her mom arrived at our house, the girls immediately took off for the playroom. Reena and I were chit-chatting, admiring the view, etc. Some minutes later, I offered her a tour of the house. We came upstairs, and when we walked into the master bedroom, I thought, "What stinks?!" I mean, it really smelled bad. I started looking around for a dog accident or a forgotten dirty diaper. Then, I walked toward our bathroom. The smell was overpowering. Reena stayed quiet, but chose to NOT tour the bathroom.

I went in, and found the largest "deposit" I had ever seen in our toilet. Libby had gone upstairs and unloaded, but the girl never flushes. What must her little friend have thought? And, though the hand-washing is improving-- with much hounding, what will it take to get my children to start flushing on their own?

There is no photo for this entry.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You Got to Have Friends

Elisabeth had a friend come over to play after school. Her friend is Rachel. The two are inseparable at preschool. Rachel's mom said her daughter has been painfully shy and extremely uncomfortable in any kind of social situation. But, this fall, she latched on to our Libby. In recent weeks, Elisabeth has been bugging me to invite Rachel over, and today the stars aligned.

It is so much fun for me to see Elisabeth choose her own friend. This is the first time I can really point to her having her own playmate-- not Amanda or her sister's friends, not her cousins, not the children of my friends. I can see why she likes Rachel. She is very nice and sweet, and seems to like the same things Libby does. The two got along well together... and Rachel's mom is a lot of fun, too.

She Did It!

Amanda can now tie her shoes. After trying for about a year to teach her, Todd and I both gave up. She is so stubborn and such a perfectionist, she would give up when she couldn't do it just right the first time. But, she came bounding off the bus yesterday, announcing that she knew how to tie her shoes.

Yep, we didn't teach her. Another mother was volunteering in the classroom, and I don't know what she told Amanda, but it worked. She plopped down on the floor and showed me, showed Daddy, showed Grandma and Grandpa. She even had to wear tennis shoes to school today with her jumper, just to practice tying.

I suspect her willingness to suddenly learn the art of shoelace tying was born from her competitive nature. Either all her friends could already tie their shoes, or there was some kind of class incentive for everyone to learn. I'll be waiting for the details of that to unfold.

After she displayed her new skill to me, I praised her up and down, and I asked Amanda, "Now that you know how to tie your shoes, what are you going to learn next? Your phone number?" She replied, "I don't know. Maybe I'll learn how to build houses like Daddy."

The Story IS the Punchline

Elisabeth was chosen to play the angel Gabriel in the preschool Christmas pageant.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Goosey Loosey

I looked out the window this morning and saw a gaggle of geese swimming off our beach. The first thing I did was attempt to count them. I believe that is also the first sign of aging.

The second thing I did was call my husband to tell him about it-- that would appear to be another sign of aging. (Though I did not run outside to scare off the geese, which is what my crotchety old man would have done.) In fact, Todd is generally amused at my practice of taking photographs through our home's windows, rather than going outside. It's cold out there, man!

The third thing I did was remember a really funny friend I had when I was a girl. When we were in maybe sixth or seventh grade, she gave me a Christmas card, no doubt pilfered from her mom's stash, with a picture of a Canadian honker on the front. Around the goose she had drawn wavy lines, like rising aromas, and she had written, "The Christmas goose lets loose!" It still makes me giggle. Childhood regression, definitely a sign I'm getting old.

Leah also wrapped Christmas gifts in balls of tinfoil, so I couldn't tell the shape or shake to hear any sound. And, she enjoyed her Fudgesicles dipped in Cool Whip-- you can't imagine how good this is. Don't knock it till you try it.

Skinny and Sissy?

The boy's pants don't stay up. It's just another of those little things that comes with having a Skinny Minny. Naturally, we've had the same issue with Libby, and even some stretches with Amanda, but, somehow it's different with girls. They can wear dresses, cute jumpers, leggings, and seem to have more options for pants with elastic waists. But baby boy pants often don't come with belt loops, and I have yet to find a place that sells baby suspenders (I've asked.) And poor Benjamin can't wear overalls EVERY day.

The adjustable waist thing helps. Thank heaven for the adjustable waist. But, they're harder to find in such small sizes, and, as we've discovered with the sister, when you cinch the elastic as tight as it will go, the fabric makes funny bunches at the hips (or where the hips would be, if kids had hips!) The whole deal is a real bummer for this mommy who prefers hand-me-downs and garage sale specials, because most clothes do not fit my boy after they've been on someone else's diapered rump. But, I press on.

At Target, I saw these cute shirts for Benny Boy. The shelf underneath held blue jeans. I picked up one pair in a 12-month size-- I had to pack up all his 6-12-monthers because, though they fit around the waist, they were transitioning from highwaters to capris-- and I actually thought they looked like they might fit him. But then I panicked. Looking back on the shelf, there were three or four other styles, and they all looked girly. So, what about these?

I asked the opinion of another shopper. She was a mommy, like me, except younger, prettier and thinner. She said, "Those are girls' jeans." When I asked how she could tell, the conversation stalled. She tried to explain it had something to do with the shape of the pocket, but I thought the jeans I was holding looked much like the pair she had picked out for her son. There was no pink stitching, no embroidered pocket, no flower icon on the button. I bought them anyway.

They don't exactly fit, but they don't fall down either. If, the next time you see us, you think Ben is dressed like a girl, please keep your opinion to yourself. I'm trying.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Day in Paradise

I wish I had something more interesting to write, but, here are the highlights from Krinkeland:

Elisabeth told me she was going to "poke your eye out or kick your neck and take the Leapster and break your table and your dresser and your car and everything you love" because I wouldn't take her to McDonald's to crawl around in the disgusting Playland.

Amanda threw a fit over the bathtub seating chart. Todd added insult to injury by calling her "Amanda Connie" when he scolded her.

Benjamin sat in his high chair whining, "Mo, mo" and pointing to the table. His supper consisted mostly of gobs of grape jelly.

Mama said there'd be days like this... and now she's laughing her butt off.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Under the Knife

Todd and I met with the general surgeon today, and we both liked him. So, it appears we will be going ahead with the breast augmentation.

Just kidding.

He had conferred with my GI doctor, and then went through everything with me as it pertains to the gall bladder. Basically, he said I have an excellent specialist, who would not have referred me this far if he wasn't quite certain there was a problem with my gall bladder. They offered me three choices:
1. Do nothing, and wait for the next attack.
2. Undergo a nuclear medicine test that will should how my body secretes bile. This is another test that can determine gall bladder disease. However, to have the test means injecting the body with a substance that will basically simulate another attack, so I will get sick. Also, this test only looks at the gall bladder, so it won't necessarily rule anything out, and it won't look for anything else, either.
3. Schedule surgery.

I pointed out to the surgeon that he just likes to cut people. He did not disagree with me. But, he said he performs this surgery hundreds of times each year. Many of his patients have symptoms that present like mine, and often the standardized tests show nothing. However, by removing the gall bladder, 90-99% of his patients never have these problems again.

So, I decided to sign on for it. Laproscopic, same-day surgery, on December 18. We will go to Libby's Christmas program in the morning, and to Abbott in the afternoon. I will no doubt need assistance for a few days, but the surgeon said I should be back at it by Christmas.

I did ask about my dad's approach to gall bladder disease: Get a doctor to prescribe Percoset so he can weather the attacks once or twice a year, and otherwise ignore the presence of any problem. He did not recommend that treatment method.


My eyes were barely open for five minutes this morning when Amanda asked me, "Is God married?"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

We went to visit my grandma, Gua. That's what we all call her-- a nickname one of my older cousins came up with as a child, I think, and it definitely stuck. My kids call her Great Grandma Gua, or, my favorite, Great Gua. It will be 11 years this Christmas Eve since we lost Grandpa-- Buppa-- to cancer.

This woman is still going strong at 92! She lives on her own, but is surrounded by neighbors in her little apartment building. She, thankfully, has my Aunt Pat, and her daughters, very nearby. My cousin, Wendy, visits daily, which is such a blessing. Gua never had a driver's license, but seems to know everyone in her small town. Family members take her where she needs to go, and a little bus for seniors drives her to fun destinations, mainly casinos.

We stopped on the way, and picked up chicken, which Gua loves. But, this lunchtime, she had to fight Amanda and Elisabeth for the pieces of dark meat! After lunch, when Benjamin started acting like he needed a nap, she was quick to pick him up and rock him. Gua also made a mean lemon meringue pie!

She is the only great-grandparent my children know. They have a couple step-great-grandmas, who live considerable distances away. Todd's grandma, for whom Amanda is named, got to meet just our first child... She died when Amanda was three months old. Every time we visit Gua, I am reminded we should go more often.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shop 'Til You Drop (Somebody)

In the pre-dawn hours of the Day After Thanksgiving, Mom and I headed out on our annual ritual: shopping. You know I'll do just about anything for a good deal; Mom says she just goes for the excitement. This year was kind of unusual, because every store we went into actually had just about everything on our list. Kohl's and Menard's were both pains... But, then again, I generally find those stores overstuffed and annoying.

Still, for the most part, we made it in and out of each discount and department store without incident. No one called us bad names. No one backed into our car in the parking lot. No one stole our cart. No one grabbed the last anything off the shelf right before we got there. We had shorter lists, but managed to hit all our stops and be back home by 11 a.m. This included drive-thru runs for coffee and, later, breakfast, along with numerous bathroom breaks.

Now, I'll just have to wait till the kids go to bed, so I can go through all my stashed bags and look at just what I bought, and for whom, so I can figure out what I still have to buy. Ahhh, 'tis the season.


I took a bit of a hiatus for the holiday, but I couldn't let the whole weekend pass without sharing at least a partial list of things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving (not necessarily in this order:)
1. medical professionals
2. the Internet
3. preschool and kindergarten teachers
4. Diet Mountain Dew
5. the Disney Channel
6. disinfecting wipes
7. family who babysit
8. my bed
9. lint rollers
10. my husband and my kids

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


When I got up this morning, I threw on a jacket over my pajamas and went outside to walk the dog, no socks, sticky-up short hair, and all. At the end of my driveway, I encountered a city crew in a white truck, along with a small geyser bubbling up near the mailbox. A guy got out and approached me, but he kept his distance once he got a good look.

Seems there was a water main break, right in our front yard. He was waiting for the other guys to show up, so they could further stand around assessing the situation and scratching themselves. He told me the pipe was just old and cracked, but it might take them the better part of the day to fix it. I asked him to please not turn off the water until I had my shower, and I high-tailed it back inside.

Once clean and coiffed, I figured no laundry or dishes would be done for a while, so I might as well go shopping. When we returned home, the leak was fixed, the water was back on, and our mailbox was still standing. The best part: the city guys had removed this huge, useless utility pole that had been standing in our yard for no reason whatsoever.

Splitting Hairs

I got my hair cut-- short. I'm not good with hair, and I just get sick of trying to do something with it, so I cut it. I knew you'd be wondering what it looks like, so I took this photo of myself. What does it look like? The better question is: Who do I look like? My sister. I didn't do it on purpose, and this is not a bad thing. Heaven knows, I've always considered her the pretty one. Plus, she has the long legs and the dainty hands. However, I am a little embarrassed that I could not come up with something more original. I showed Robin a photo that did NOT look like Ellen... but I still ended up looking a lot like her.

The downside of this haircut is that my remaining hair looks even darker, and the gray sticks out more. I also think the cut makes me look older. Amanda said she likes my hair, but, she is such a people pleaser, she could think of something pleasant to say about Charles Manson. Todd is not thrilled. Elisabeth HATES it. First, she told me I look like Jared's mom. Suffice it to say, this is not a compliment. And, every time she encounters me anew, she demands, "You better let all your hair grow back!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Story of Christmas

We had our first parent-teacher conferences at Amanda's school. After getting the glowing report from her kindergarten teacher, Todd and I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet the specialists, her teachers for subjects such as technology and Spanish. When we introduced ourselves to the music teacher, she cracked up. She tried to contain herself when she saw our puzzled expressions, and then began, "Today I had one of those really amusing moments in the classroom-- the kind that keeps me going all year long. And it was because of your daughter." Uh-oh.

Apparently, she was beginning to prepare the little ones for the upcoming Christmas program. She said many of the kids, at this age, don't have much of a concept of the story of Jesus' birth, so she was starting there. The teacher barely got out a few lines about Mary and Joseph and riding on the donkey, when Amanda's hand shot in the air. "I know this story! Let me tell it!" She then went on, at length and in detail, to describe every aspect of the nativity story, focusing greatly on Herod and his desire to kill every baby boy in the land. "Why? Because he didn't know which one was Jesus. Why else? Because he really liked being king."

The music teacher said the other children were horrified by Amanda's account, asking questions like, "How was he going to kill the babies?" The teacher tried to get things back on course, explaining how Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, just as Jesus was about to be born. One more interjection from our storyteller: "Right. And there was NOOOOOOO room at the inn! No room anywhere! Everyone said they were full. No one had room for Jesus. He had to get born in a barn."

Construction Concept

They are putting on an addition at the church where Elisabeth has preschool. Last week, when the crew broke ground, the teachers took the students out to watch the big diggers. When I picked up Libby, I asked her, "What are they building at your school?" Elisabeth's response: "Duh, a hole."

Today (one week later,) when I was dropping her off, she looked out the window and sighed, "Are they still working on that thing?!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Secret Life of Amanda

Amanda told me they were doing a project in school about "something no one else knows about me." Naturally, I asked her what super-cool, super-secret information she was divulging. She told me, "No one at school knows my daddy is an engineer-- but not the train kind."

Movin' On Up

Benjamin had his first physical therapy session. Unfortunate timing, since he is battling a really nasty cold. He was up a few times during the night, coughing, again, so no one got much sleep. Ben was in pretty good spirits, considering how awful he felt-- and looked.

His therapist, Margaret, was impressed by his progress. He showed her how he now cruises along furniture, climbs up stairs, and tries to stand. She gave me some very specific things to work on, involving changing his stance, getting him to move out of his core comfort zone, and building strength in his arms. Margaret said that is a big concern right now. Ben is getting really close to walking, but he still doesn't have great balance; he is controlled by that big head. She is worried he will take off walking, but won't have the ability to catch himself when he gets knocked off balance.

Ben wouldn't pose for any photos, and Margaret didn't seem to want to be in any of them. Here is Benjamin playing with a doll shoe. She let him have it, after about a dozen drills of bending down or reaching over for it. Just as well you can't see his face... It's probably full of snot.

Glamour Gals and Guy

Not much to report from the weekend...

We attended the open house of Todd's cousin and his wife, who are finishing renovations on a 1940s bungalow in northeast Minneapolis. It is a beautiful home-- a lot of work. But then, we know all about that, don't we? Of course, I brought the camera and then didn't take any photos.

Benjamin has the girls' cold, full force, so he has been miserable all weekend, and making Mommy and Daddy miserable, too. He is coughing at night, so not sleeping. Luckily, Todd took the week off from work, so he is resting now, but that means not much else is getting done.

I thought I could cheer up your Monday morning with a shot of these glamorous people-- Elisabeth, Amanda, and Kazmer playing dress-up at Grandma's house. And, yes, observant ones, Elisabeth is modeling the dress Mom made me for the 9th grade Goodbye Dance. And, no, Kaz says that's NOT a wig-- "It's just my hat, Auntie."

Oh, and Libby "decorated" herself on the way to church. She looked fine when we loaded into the car, but, somewhere along the route, she found an orange highlighter marker and colored around her mouth and down her legs. When Todd asked her what she was doing, she said it was her "makeover." She went to Sunday School looking like that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Social Butterflies

You know you're in for it when your 4- and 5-year-old daughters have plans on a Friday night that don't include you...

Neighbor Kailee is home from college for the weekend, and she asked if she could take the girls to the local high school production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The foreign exchange student staying with their family is in the show, and everyone agreed it would be great fun. Of course, we said "Sure," but we tried to warn Kailee she really didn't know what she was in for.

First of all, the girls love to go anywhere, but they especially love live theater. They were dressed to the nines, with gloves and beads and handbags. (Well, Elisabeth stuffed a Dora the Explorer backpack with the essentials; Amanda's purse contained cough drops and her own pack of tissues.) They were looking out the window for Kailee a full half-hour before she was due.

Plus, my kids actually know the story of Joseph, along with all the music, since they saw Auntie play the Narrator in a community theater production last summer. I warned Kailee that they would be singing along and dancing in the aisle, and I have no doubt they were. Elisabeth had a long nap, so she was raring to go. Amanda came off of a long day at school, and apparently fell asleep in her theater seat. All was good though, because I understand she also had a sleeping mask in that handbag of hers.

Another New Baby!

We rejoice in the birth of Kate, the third daughter for my college roommate, Kristin, and her husband, Greg. She was born Wednesday, November 14, weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces, and measuring 19.5 inches. Everyone is home now and doing well. Kate joins doting older sisters Taylor and Molly. Life doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, November 16, 2007

One Stair at a Time

Benjamin now does stairs-- up only, of course. It's funny how I say he is "delayed" in his gross motor skills... 16 months and just starting to climb. But, when he does take on a new task, he does it with gusto. At the beginning of the week, he figured out how to get up one stair and then sit there. By Thursday, he was cruising up the entire flight to the second floor, including navigating that angled switchback.

Now, comes the fun part: teaching him how to get down.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bad, Bad Mommy

Elisabeth has started grading me. I think it mostly has to do with how often I respond the way she would like me to. She sits in her judgment perch in the last row of the car, yelling, "AAA!" Or "You get an F today!!!" Sometimes, there are stars involved, as in Four-Star Mother. She uses an orange highlighter marker and a crumpled Sunday school workbook page to issue her pronouncements.

As we were leaving the grocery store parking lot, she told me I needed to stop the car immediately. She does this often, usually because she wants to take off her seat belt and pick up a pen cap or a petrified fruit snack from the floor. I was in no hurry today, so I decided to humor her and pull over. She told me, "You might get a smiley face today, Mommy. You might. You might will, or you might not."

Bad, Bad Boy

Benjamin is turning naughty. It was bound to happen, because he is spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. I take credit for that.

He has started throwing fits at bedtime. I am not a long-drawn-out-books-and-songs-and-rocking bedtime ritual person. It's pretty much a short prayer, a kiss, and lay down. That's been fine, up until about a week ago. I don't think that stretch of sickness helped... Also, the fact that he can now stand in his crib... Plus, we've elevated one end of his mattress because a couple doctors have suggested he might have a bit of reflux-- and so he slides down to the other end of the bed.

Ben will start screaming. I have NO trouble ignoring this, but, within five minutes, he gets himself so worked up that he vomits. This is simply unacceptable in the world of underweight children.

I called my sister and asked to borrow this sleep book she swears by. Her kids have had sleep issues. I have to admit I've always put some of this back on her-- kind of a hereditary thing-- because Ellen is not a good sleeper, either. I, on the other hand, have no trouble. My family will never let me forget the time I invited them over to play board games and then fell asleep on the middle of my living room floor.

Anyway, the silver lining to my story: It appears Benjamin approaches bedtime tantrums the same way he does everything else-- half-a**ed. Last night, he went to bed just fine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thar' She Blows

I was awakened this morning to loud thumping sounds on the outside of our house. Sitting straight up in bed, I yelled, "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" A sleepy and bewildered Todd rolled off the pillow, mumbling, "Shhh, Honey, it's OK. I'll get the tweezers."

But seriously, folks, if there's one thing I underestimated about living here, it is the WIND. Every meteorologist in the market said it was going to be windy today, but, when it's windy elsewhere, it's WINDY at our house. Obviously, it has something to do with the lake... But it's totally wild.

Regular summer thunderstorms come roaring across the lake in no time. In other parts of town, tree branches get blown down. On our street, boat lifts are picked up and carried three doors down. We have a joke amongst neighbors, "When you see Nancy putting away the patio furniture, it's time to get moving!" Her family has lived here longer than the rest of us, so she's considered a pretty good barometer for when the wind is going to cause damage.

Today's winds actually ripped the rain gutters off the house. (That was the early morning banging.) And when I took Amanda out to the bus stop, she asked me to buy her a ski mask. I told her I'd consider it, but explained that article of clothing carries a certain stigma. I'd be keeping a closer eye on the evening news, especially when they show surveillance tape. Don't think I couldn't pick you out of a lineup, kid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another G.I. Update

Since we're on the fine subject today, I suppose I should pass along the latest in the gall bladder saga:

I had another ultrasound last week which again showed basically nothing. Today, the specialist called me to tell me the test showed nothing (I had already honed that information from the radiologist and the techs.) But, he said he wants me to see the surgeon in two weeks, anyway. When I asked him why I would consult with a surgeon about removing an organ that tests show to be healthy, he said, "Just go see him. Maybe he will have some more ideas."

I pressed him on the stories of others; mant people have told me "it took four trips to the E.R." or "the ultrasound never showed anything" in regards to their gall bladder dilemmas. He said, "There are more tests we can do. I want you to see the surgeon first. Then, we'll talk again." Whatever. Funny thing: He asked me, "How are you feeling?" Ask me a different day.

All Hail the Tummy Tamer

Buffalo, November 12, 11:15 p.m. Picture it: The boy is STILL NOT ASLEEP, because he slept all day, but appears to be feeling much better. Mommy comes out of his room and eases the door closed. Coming up the stairs in one direction is Libby. She has fallen asleep on the couch and has had a potty accident, because no one remembered to put a Pull-Up on her. While standing in the laundry room cleaning her up, she barfs again. Meantime, from the other direction, Amanda comes down the hall, wailing, "My tummy really hurts!"

Call in the reinforcements! Daddy has fallen asleep, in his makeshift bed on the den floor. He was staying with Elisabeth, but she snuck past him because she was embarrassed about the potty pants. I shake him, he jumps up, and we move his headquarters to the floor of the girls' room. He has agreed to take on puke patrol until he goes to work. Thank God.

I don't know how he does it... but it really doesn't bother him the way it does me. He holds heads, rubs tummies, delivers 7-Up and cleans out buckets. I knew there was a reason I married him. Unfortunately, he had an early meeting which could not be avoided, so now I'm in the trenches. Yeah, there won't be any photos with this post.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Great News!

I'm staying caught up on the laundry...

Libby has it, too.

Boy Still Sick, Mommy and Daddy Not Well

I just got back from the doctor with Benjamin. After holding up OK all day yesterday... no barf after 5:30 a.m., holding down water and juice, having snacks like crackers and toast, he became inconsolable at bedtime. Ben cried and whined for 2-3 hours. Definitely not like him, as we all know. Finally, sometime after 10, Todd and I calmed him by letting him take a remote control to bed.

A short time later, he threw up again. A lot. Then, he was much happier. We got him cleaned up and back to bed, and he slept until I had to yank him out of bed for this morning's doctor appointment. I did hear him coughing some during the night-- which may be his version of the cold the girls have had. Todd and I were concerned this was not a stomach bug, but rather some kind of intolerance to the Pediasure, or something else plaguing him.

Our pediatrician works a late day on Mondays, so we saw another doctor about which I've heard great things. He was very kind and very thorough. Benjamin slept through basically all the appointment, which was weird and disconcerting. He was checked for and DOES NOT have: an intestinal blockage, strep throat, ear infection. He DOES have: a lot of gas and your basic gastroenteritis (stomach bug.) The doctor also noted large tonsils, which he said can make him snore and could contribute to the coughing/gas; and also said he may have a touch of reflux (though he never spit up as a baby) and suggested putting his head on a pillow, or putting some kind of wedge under one end of the crib mattress to see if that helps.

Once again, I can blame his father for that family trait. So far, all he's gotten from me is dashing wit and piercing blue eyes.

The doctor said this can go on from 2 to 7 days, and it's not unusual for him to have stretches where he does not throw up (because his tummy is empty.) He also said the gassiness is probably what made him so unhappy last night. If he's still sick at the end of the week, we're supposed to bring him back. Meantime, if any of you are near my house, please make a delivery of Pedialyte, apple juice, and simethicone drops. Also, I would like a nap.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sick Day

Benjamin is sick. I know-- all kids get sick, but I am not handling this well. I don't know if he picked up a bug somewhere (he didn't leave the house yesterday) or if he ate something bad (the only thing he had different from the rest of us is Pediasure.) But he started throwing up around 9 last night... At almost 9 this morning, we're at the first 3-hour stretch where he hasn't thrown up, but I just changed a really awful diaper. His fever is slightly elevated.

Maybe it's Ben's age... I know his weight is a factor... I didn't get a wink of sleep till 5:30, when Todd took over. He's actually really good with sickness; the hard part is waking him in the first place! I am a wreck. Not good with stomach stuff to start with, and really bad whenever it's Ben-- just panicked. "Maybe there's something else wrong with him... maybe something was missed... maybe I should call the gastroenterologist... maybe it's something I DID."

I wanted to take Ben to the hospital-- I was worried he would get dehydrated. It's so hard when they're so little. He has no idea what's going on... and he wants to keep drinking, so he keeps getting sick. That's the "accepted approach" these days, though. Doctors say if kids want to drink or eat-- let them. Just more barf to clean up, I guess.

Then, I started wondering if maybe he has strep throat. I've heard that sometimes kids can react this way to strep, and we have all had colds in this house. But no one has had strep. During the night, whenever he would throw up, he would immediately feel better. He'd cry during the yucky part, and the clean-up, but then say "uh-oh" and try to get down to play. Just now, though, after I changed him and read him a couple books, he reached for his crib and said "nigh-nigh." I guess, depending on how the next few hours go, we may be making a trip to urgent care. I hate that.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh, Baby!

Here is today's baby report:

First, an update on the family of Todd's co-worker, Jonathan. His sister gave birth to a baby boy, Andrew, at 24 weeks gestational age. Andrew is one week old today, and is holding on. As always, the fear is infection, especially pneumonia, as his lungs and the other parts of his tiny body continue to develop. Please pray for his parents, as we hear they are having a difficult time, and are not spending much time with their baby.

My friend, Kristin, is set to deliver her third baby this week. Word on the street is this is a girl, who will be called Kate. She will be greeted by big sisters, Taylor and Molly, who are all ready to love her up.

Amanda's principal, Kim, and her family traveled to Guatemala this week, to bring home their daughter, Karsyn. It has been a drawn-out and exhaustive process, as all my adoptive friends know, and we pray that they return home smoothly, and soon. She also has a big brother, Jacob.

My sister's friend, Melissa, is continuing beautifully through her pregnancy with twin girls. She is due mid-January, but we're hearing the babies may arrive around Christmas or New Year's. Big sister, Hannah, Mommy and Daddy are going to have their hands full.

Please keep all these parents in your thoughts, as well as others I've mentioned previously. I, too, send out my love to those who I think would feel uncomfortable mentioned here. Your families are most important to me, and I love you all.

My baby has finally contracted the family cough, so I'm off to tend to him.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Weighing In

You know one of the big issues with Benjamin has been his history of poor weight gain. From 6 to 9 months of age, he gained just over a pound. From 9 to 12 months of age, he gained about a half-pound. That's when the pediatrician got really worried and when the gastroenterologist put him on this high-calorie diet. From 12 to 15 months, he gained more than 3 POUNDS, and he's still going.

Next week, he will be 16 months, and he is currently weighing in around 20 pounds, 8 ounces. Now, that's still not quite on the growth chart for a boy his age, but it's very close. It's also hard to get an accurate reading these days. I bought a digital pediatric scale. But, you know how it has those curved sides to hold a really little baby? Naturally, Ben sits straight up, and now grabs the sides of the cradle and performs his own rendition of "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat."

Soon, we will be turning around his car seat to face forward. Daddy just wants to do a little more research, first, on how a big-headed toddler would fare in a crash.

Other food-related notes: It turns out Elisabeth likes steak. While it's nice to see her eating something that is actual food, I wish her tastes weren't quite so expensive. And, I don't know how he did it, but Todd got Amanda to try green bean casserole, and she liked it! "This is really good, Libby," she told her sister. "You should try it." On the other hand, earlier this week I made a lasagna. It might not have been my most beautiful dish ever, but it was certainly quite edible. Amanda took one look at the pan and commented, "Boy, Mom, looks like you had a little too much help on this one."

Master of the Bleeding Obvious

I had a nice conversation with my godson last evening, while Amanda was having her piano lesson. Solomon is 21 months old this week, and seems to waste most of his breath impressing others with all the words he knows. He brought me a talking, stuffed, purple dinosaur and said, "Barney, dragon, works, batteries." It was cute the first six or eight times.

It's so funny how when you ask him a yes/no question, he answers, "No" in a really low, serious voice. But, if it's affirmative, I get a cute, chirpy, "Yes!" I was asking whether he had gotten his hair cut (knowing he had.) His dad interjected, "Sol, where did you get your hair cut?" (They go to one of those cute places for kids.) Solomon turned to me, and pointed to the area above his left ear, "Right here."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Answers to Your Questions

In this edition, I will attempt to answer questions commonly posed on-- or about-- this blog:

Q: Who reads your blog?
A: I have no way of knowing. I don't have the site listed in the public directory, so people can only get it from me or from someone who knows me. However, I also don't restrict access, so anyone who gets the address can look. I know the grandmas and aunties do. That's mostly why I did it-- so people could read what's going on with our family, without me feeling as though I was shoving it down their throats. If they don't want to know, they never have to look.

Q: How do you have the time to write every day? (Translation: What's wrong with you? Don't you have a life?)
A: It literally takes me minutes to post each day. When I started blogging, it was the one consistent piece of advice I got: Write something new every day. It keeps things interesting. Naturally, I know that is true, because I am interesting.

Q: Does it cost money to have a blog?
A: No. I just went to, and followed the step-by-step instructions.

Q: Does Elisabeth ever wear clothes?
A: No.

Q: Why is Benjamin only getting physical therapy twice a month?
A: Of course, the administrators of the school district program deal with state funding, so they have to follow a specific formula. The program "rates" kids based on their skill levels and needs. Some children get therapy more often because they need different kinds of therapy. Some go as infrequently as once a month. Ben's developmental needs are very specific, and borderline, at that. We are encouraged to have input in the process, and to speak up if we think he needs more time with the therapist. Todd, siding with the neurologist, doesn't think Ben needs therapy AT ALL, so this is the compromise, for now.

Q: Are you still looking for work?
A: Yes, work-from-home jobs are not exactly falling into my lap. I have followed up on leads generated through this blog. My friend, Heidi, is helping me gather some contacts, too.

Q: Are you still selling stuff on ebay?
A: Yes, but just to pare down the stockpile in my home. This will not become a business for me, because it is too little profit for too much work. I price my items low, because I want them to sell... but that means I am dragging two kids to the post office nearly every day, to make just a couple bucks on each box. The good thing is, I'm clearing out some of the excess, and am vowing to not let it build up again!

Q: What do you think about all-day kindergarten?
A: I think it is nice for some kids, but totally unnecessary in the scope of education. It was a big change for Amanda (and me) because she was used to being home with me pretty much all day, sleeping in, eating a later breakfast, and having some organized activities with a lot of down time. She loves school, loves her teacher, loves her friends, but, when she gets off that bus, she is exhausted! I also don't think I would like all-day, every-other-day kindergarten. It would be hard to have an ever-changing schedule. Half-day seems the most reasonable to me.

Q: Who do you watch for local news?
A: Believe it or not, I rarely watch local news. I am fixing supper during the 5 & 6 p.m. newscasts, and we don't have a TV in the kitchen. Plus, I can't ever have news on when kids are around. By 10 p.m., Todd and I are usually in bed, and he has a very low tolerance for local news. My loyalties, however, have switched back more to WCCO (Ch. 4) because the management there has changed-- and is changing once again-- since I left, and because I am fond of Frank and Amelia.

Q: Has Todd finished the cabinets?
A: No, but last night he re-caulked one of the bathtubs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Three Strikes

Benjamin has been making so much developmental progress this week, we thought we'd try to teach him to play catch. Turns out there are issues even physical therapy can't address. He appears to be about as athletically inclined as the rest of our family.

Our Boy: No Dummy

We had our meeting this morning with the school district's Early Childhood Program coordinators, to go over the summary of Benjamin's developmental assessments and to hear their proposal to help him catch up. As expected, the only area where he is classified as "borderline"-- where he may benefit from assistance-- is with his gross motor skills. Even in that area, Ben has made significant progress from earlier visits. He can now get into the sitting position from a prone position; get into the crawling position and make a few movements; and, as we all know, hold onto furniture and pull to stand.

The area where Ben scored the highest? Verbal/communication skills. It's kind of ironic, since we're always commenting at how much MORE the girls were already talking at this age. But, of course, it's not just about what Ben says, but about what he understands. And he is way above normal. "He's no dummy," as Grandma always says.

Beginning in two weeks, Benjamin will have physical therapy here at the house, for one hour every other week. The physical therapist seems wonderful. I really like her tough but encouraging attitude, and the way she pays attention to the smallest things. She will also make notes and leave instructions for us on ways to work with Ben between sessions. They set goals, with a timeline for him to meet various developmental milestones over the coming months. After six months, the group will review Benjamin's progress. His current plan is good for one year. Then, there will be a complete reassessment to find out whether further services are needed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

We Have Liftoff

I put Benjamin down for his nap and went to lay down with Libby. Pretty soon, I heard whining and then all-out screaming coming from the nursery. I peeked in to find him STANDING IN HIS CRIB! Why is it they always master the first part of this skill, but then practically hang themselves because they can't figure out how to get down?

I was astonished-- the first time. The second time, I was equally amazed. The third time, I thought it was cute. Now, we are one hour into "nap time," and I have just laid down Ben for the fourth time. My parental pride has given way to annoyance.

Items of Note... or Maybe Not

I have just a few short updates on situations previously mentioned here:

Todd's co-worker's sister had her baby on Saturday, at 24 weeks. That means she made it a week, in the hospital, getting steroids and antibiotics. At one point, the doctors said she was still making amniotic fluid, and it was possible the leak could close and the pregnancy continue. But, that was not to be. Mommy and baby are holding on. That's all I know, because men never think to ask the important questions, like gender-- or name.

Turns out it was probably a good thing Amanda came home early from her first sleepover attempt. Another mother told me the girls didn't go to sleep until 1 or 2 a.m. The next morning, they did "makeovers" and the kids came home with red spray painted hair. It didn't come out.

For the record, here is the correct sequence for eating Skittles: First, separate into piles by color. Next, eat in the following order-- orange, purple, yellow, green, and red. It is OK to throw in and chew up each flavor by the handful... except for the red. They should be eaten individually, sucked on till the candy coating dissolves, and then chewed. So, if your husband tends to grab your Skittles (even though he doesn't like Skittles) make sure he sees what you're eating early in the process, so you don't have to part with any of the red.

While we're on the subject, let's order M&Ms for munching: brown, yellow, orange, red, green. Savor the green. Don't ever eat blue.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Witching Hour

She made it till 11.

Todd and I permitted Amanda to go to a SLEEPOVER birthday party, at the home of a family we do not know... in the next town... with other kids we do not know... for the whole night.

It was a very tough call. Obviously, we think five is a bit young for a sleepover party. She has never stayed anywhere but at the homes of family. We had never met these parents. But, I did do enough "Magnum P.I." work to determine they were not axe murderers or pedophiles. And, Amanda really wanted to go. I mean, she REALLY wanted to go.

We packed her overnight bag together. I asked whether she wanted to bring her blanket. (I thought she might be embarrassed.) She said, "Mom, you know I have to bring my Bo-Bo whenever I go on a sleepover. It reminds me of home." She also insisted on packing two other things that "reminded her of home:" a My Little Pony and a photo of her friend, Lucas.

Todd took her. He kissed her goodbye, and told her she could call at any time if she wanted to come home. The call came at 11:07 p.m. The funny part was, I was dead asleep, and Todd was shoving me and shouting, "It's the phone! The phone! Get the phone!" (He has been known, in the past, to sleep through chase scenes on TV, smoke detector alarms, and vomiting children.) The little voice on the other end of the phone said, "Mommy, I can't sleep. I miss you too much." Todd was already dressed and out the door.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Three Degrees Closer to Fame

Our brother-in-law, Terry, played his first gig last night, at Club 3 Degrees, a Christian music club in downtown Minneapolis. Sure, he has put on his own concerts in the past, performing at schools and churches, and promoting his CD. But this was the first time, at least to my knowledge, that he performed at such a big venue... a place where people who DON'T know him go to hear new artists.

It was exciting to see him on stage... I'm sure it was REALLY exciting for him to be on stage! He said he learned a lot from the performance, and will take that knowledge and experience with him into the future. As always, there are links to the websites for Terrell Steven and Club 3 Degrees at the bottom of the blog. I think we all know what it's like to have a dream. It's fun to see him living his!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

This Just In

This is a totally useless update, offered only because I've given you all the other updates. We got a letter from the geneticist at Mayo. Remember Benjamin's visit, when the doctor ordered skeletal tests and eye tests that ended up showing nothing? Well, he also ordered blood tests to check for a rare genetic syndrome that had some commonalities with Benjamin's "features," and a blood screening to look for missing and/or extra parts of chromosomes. Anyway, those tests came back negative. As expected. Thank you, God, for our son.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What We Call Ourselves

I use so many nicknames, I often marvel that my kids know their given names, at all. While runnind errands today, Elisabeth begged to go to McDonald's-- AGAIN (we didn't.) I told her, "You want to go to McDonald's so much, you're going to turn into Ronald McDonald. In fact, from now on, I think I'll call you 'Ronald.'" She thought that was pretty funny, and next tattled, "Mom, there's a boy in the back seat here spitting at 'Ronald.'" I said, "Oh, yeah? Then, I think we should call your brother 'Spitty McNitty.'"

Libby had the idea for EVERYONE in our family to get new names. Her suggestions:
Amanda-- "Schooler"
Daddy-- "Worker"
Mommy-- "Stayer"
Ike-- "Sleeper"

Later, at nap time, she picked out this hideously long and boring book. I said I would read it, IF she promised to lay down and go to sleep quietly. Of course, she did, and then, of course, she twitched around and acted up. During her usual whining of, "I can't sleep!" I told her, "Yes, you can. You just relax, lay still, close your mouth, and close your eyes." Libby replied, "Well, that's not going to happen-- because I'm Super Girl... and you're not Grandma."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

To See, and Not to See

I have been receiving a lot of emails about two upcoming films-- one is highly recommended viewing, and one I strongly hope you will boycott. Rather than pass along all the emails and column clippings, I will try to summarize them below.

First, you've no doubt heard about "The Golden Compass." It's set for release in December, is billed as a family film, and stars Nicole Kidman. From what I understand, the story is based on a series of children's books, written by professed atheist Phillip Pullman, in response to the Chronicles of Narnia. While the movie script is said to be watered down, the book trilogy is about children killing God, so everyone can do as they please. The frightening anti-church message has made its way to, so please check it out for more information, (I'll post a link at the bottom of the blog,) and DON'T GO SEE THE FILM!

But, let's end on an up note: I am hearing just as many POSITIVE comments about the new film "Bella" and its pro-life, pro-humanity message. Already released, but coming to Minneapolis on November 9, this film is the story of two people whose lives change forever when they find it sometimes takes losing it all to finally appreciate the things that truly matter. "Bella" has been largely ignored by Hollywood, even though it won the Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award. Please help get out the word to your friends and church communities. The movie's website is listed under my favorite sites, at the bottom of this page.

My Little Goblins

Everyone was so excited about Halloween-- no one could sit still. I got exactly three photos of all the festivities. It was very cold and windy. We don't get any trick-or-treaters on our side of the street, I think because there's too much traffic. But our neighbors on each side had huge treat bags for our kids. Our little pumpkin, Ben, made it to those two houses, and then it was back home with me. Jaguar Elisabeth walked part way down the street, but then had to ride back in the car with Grandma and Grandpa R., eating candy ALL THE WAY. By the time they returned, her bucket was largely wrappers. Amanda, the angel, and Daddy kept going, meeting neighbors we still do not know, and greeting classmates on the street. Todd marveled that she seems to know everyone, and EVERYONE knows her!

Doctor Know-It-All

I saw the gastroenterologist-- One of those guys Todd would call a "Rock Star Doctor" because he's always being interviewed on TV for something, or attaching his name to some new research, and he seems very confident about having all the answers. He sat down, went through my medical history, and listened to me describe my on-again-off-again upper-GI pain. Then, even before examining me, the doctor said, "It's your gall bladder. I'm certain of it. It needs to come out."

Yes, both general practitioners and emergency room docs have said it is NOT my gall bladder, but this specialist called me a "classic case," both in the way I describe my symptoms, and because I have all four factors: family history, fair, fertile, and forty. Ahem. I guess 33 is close enough. So, next week it's more tests, and the consultation with the surgeon is already set up for the end of the month.