Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dylan at 2 Years 4 Months

-We are getting rid of the pool that takes up our entire yard. The guy came last night to dismantle it. Dylan saw him, and ran to grab his construction hat, saying, "I help!"

-One day last week, I was looking through old pictures, and Dylan saw one of us from last summer at the lake. He announced, "Mommy, when Daddy home today, we go to the beach!" "Uh, it's 40 degrees out, kid, but way to dream"!

-His obsession with letters continues. He has started writing C, E, F, I, L, M, O, and V. He can also spell his name, Mommy, Daddy, and Up. He says the sounds of all the consonants, ( "B says Buh!"), thanks to the Leap Frog refrigerator magnet toy.

-I've mentioned before that dinner time at my house is difficult. There's the whole human vacuum thing, but it's more than that. On the rare occasion that I can hold Dylan off until Jim gets home, we eat together as a family. Jim and I try desperately to talk, and Dylan tries desperately to interrupt. Lately, I've been trying to get him involved in an appropriate, polite way. I coach, "Dylan, ask Daddy, "How was your day?"". Other times, "Dylan, ask Daddy, "What did you do today?"" He's catching on. The other day, after not seeing his beloved stuffed animal, "Puppy", for a while, he picked him up, asking, "Puppy, how you do today?"
-He is hilarious at music class. He is a very enthusiastic participant! One little problem - he doesn't stay with me! He's over, right next to the teacher, imitating her every move, and grinning at her! I'm sure the other kids are saying, "Hey! Teacher's pet! We're not being graded on this stuff!"

-The "Pope Mobile" has been retired. I knew my parents were taking Dylan to the mall, but one day I asked, "Does he stay with you when you go?" They replied, "Well, sometimes we have to put him in the Pope Mobile". "Uh, the what?!" Up until that point, I had no idea they were taking the old backpack stroller to the mall, and having my kid imitate the Pope.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor,

My son, Dylan, was a patient of yours from birth until he was about 4 months old. At one of his first appointments, I mentioned to you that his head was always tilted to the left. You told me not to worry.

At each appointment after that, when I brought it up, you didn't act concerned. You acted as if I was an overprotective, paranoid mother, who was making something out of nothing, and for a while, I listened to you. I figured that you were the professional. You surely knew what you were talking about. I was a new mom, uncertain of my abilities and untrusting of my instincts.

But, when he didn't "grow out of it" by 4 months, I became relentless in my questions. You finally gave me the number of a specialist, and told me to have him seen there to "ease my mind". When I did, I was told that his neck muscles on one side were weaker than on the other side, and that I should immediately set up physical therapy sessions. I was handed a piece of paper with the word "torticollis" written on it, before the doctor walked out, leaving me bewildered and frightened.

I had no idea what "torticollis" meant. I looked it up online and found this definition...
" A congenital condition in which there is a shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck. This results in limited neck range of motion. As a result, the child holds the head to one side with the chin pointing towards the opposite side. Often a firm mass can be palpated in the midportion of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. If untreated, there can be permanent limitation of neck movement."
So, that's what it means, but let me tell you what it means for the parents. Let me tell you what it meant for me...

It meant numerous phone calls and forms, trying to set up physical therapy. It meant once a week sessions, learning the correct ways to stretch his neck. It meant forcing myself to stretch him 3 times a day at home, even though we both hated it. It meant trying head positioners and forcing tummy time, and always being conscious of how I held him, laid him down, fed him, etc. It meant hearing horror stories about what might lie ahead. It meant nights lying awake, worrying I wasn't doing enough. It meant appointment after appointment, and finally deciding to get him a helmet, to try and correct his head shape. It meant dealing with the stares, the looks of pity, and the questions of strangers when we took him anywhere. It meant taking him twice monthly for helmet adjustments for the 6 months that he wore it. It meant crying in my car after therapy, when I was told he wasn't making enough progress. It meant more phone calls and forms to find a different therapist with a fresh perspective and new ideas. It meant welcoming someone into my home twice a week to sit by helplessly as my child screamed while being stretched. It meant feeling helpless, out of control, and guilty.

Dylan is 2 years and 4 months now, and he is doing great. He is basically done with therapy, but the therapist comes 4 times a year to make sure he's still on track. He has amazed me throughout the whole process. It was harder on me than it was on him. I am proud of him, and I am proud of myself for learning to trust my mommy instincts. You taught me that.

I want you to know, I am not writing this letter to make you feel bad, and I am not hoping for an apology. I am writing this because maybe the next time a mother expresses a concern about her child to you, you will think of this letter, and you will listen with an open mind and an open heart. I really hope so.

A Mom Who Survived Torticollis

(*If you are wondering, yes, I am sending this).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Grocery Store Blues

With all the warm fuzziness included in the last post, I feel I am entitled to a rant. Luckily I just happen to have something to rant about. I would just like to reiterate this plain and simple fact - I HATE grocery shopping. I must hate it even more than I realized because this is my third post about it. You see, I'm thinking of starting a petition. No, not a petition that states, "Jen will never again be expected to endure the torturous task of grocery shopping", although that would be a pretty darn fantastic petition. You'd sign it for me, right? No, this would be a petition to get rid of those annoying self check out lanes. I am seriously asking here - do any of you use them? At the Giant Eagle I go to, there are probably fourteen of them, or more. Then, there are four regular lanes with actual human beings, and two "this many items or less" lanes.

I never have ten items or less. Sometimes, I cheat. I casually push my cart over and get in line, pushing some items on top of others to hide them, so it looks like less. Then I assume one of two faces. One, the dazed face that suggests I only have half a brain and I cannot count. Two, the mean face that suggests if you question the number of items I have I just might bite your head off.

Most of the time, though, cheating isn't possible. Even though I shop once a week (ridiculous!), my stupid cart is overflowing. There are 3 of us! How much food can we eat?! Oh, and did I mention that my stupid cart has a bum wheel? You know, the one wheel that starts squeaking when you are too far away for it to make sense to get a new cart? Or, the one wheel that pulls the whole darn cart to the left? I get it every.single.time. So, there I am in the ridiculously crowded store, with my squeaky wheel, clutching my coupons and my list, and muttering to myself like a nutcase.

They have those lovely women stationed throughout the store passing out ridiculous things, like pickles and mini chimichangas. If I owned a grocery store, mine would have wine and chocolate stations. That would at least make the trip bearable. I also think that lights should flash and balloons should fall out of the ceiling every 100 customers or so and they should get free groceries.

There are so many types of people at the grocery store who annoy me. There are the shufflers. Those are the ones who seem lost, like they somehow accidentally stumbled into the store, but they have no idea why, and they will just shuffle through the aisles at a snails pace in front of you until they remember.

There are the serenaders. Those are the people who sing along loudly to the tune playing on the store radio. My singing voice sucks, so I hum. What? What are you looking at?

Then there are the socializers. Those are the ones who bump into their sister's neighbor's cousin who "they haven't seen in ages"! They will hug, chat, laugh, and catch up on a years worth of gossip, all while obliviously blocking the aisle.

I go prepared. I have my list. I have my handful of coupons. I know the layout of the store, and still it takes me an hour to get everything. If I have to also pick up something at the pharmacy, and deal with the sea of incompetency? My head just might explode.

After an hour of shopping, there is the 30 minute wait in line. Yes, I've timed it. What else do I have to do, besides read the trash they call magazines these days? I almost always end up in a conversation with another shopper because I need to complain to someone about the garbage on the covers! For instance, People magazine's 2008 Yearbook cover - teeny, tiny photo of President Obama, huge photo of smiling Brad and a very pregnant Angelina. Seriously?! What is wrong with our society?

Then, there are the women's magazines that scream out in bold type "HOW TO...HOW TO...HOW TO..." How to be better, is basically what they are saying. Women have enough insecurities. Why do we need to shell out $5 to feel worse? I haven't bought a women's magazine since 2002. In 2002, I bought one and was amazed by all the ads in it. I decided to do a little experiment. I ripped out every page with an ad. I was left with 13 pages! Thirteen pages telling me how to be better. Never again.

I'm sorry. Let me get back to my point - the petition to get rid of the self check out aisles. I tried using them a handful of times. Each time something went wrong, and I found myself listening to the repeated echo of my "Hello? Some help here?" cries. I realize that they are trying to cut costs, but WHY do they need to? In this economy, people aren't eating out as much. They are staying in, and consequently, buying more groceries. I asked a cashier when the best time to come is to avoid the crowd. After thinking a while, she answered, "Weeknights at dinner time". That's all she could come up with, because it's busy all the time.

When I'm in the grocery store, I start computing in my head, how much time in my life I will actually spend waiting in those lines. It is a depressing thought! If Jim really loved me, he would take over the grocery shopping task, knowing how much I hate it. We'd dine on Spam and Steak um's every night, but I probably wouldn't care.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

I've mentioned, (and you've witnessed), that Dylan looks a lot like his dad. But, did you know that they have many other similarities?

Jim loves his tools. (I was nice, and took a picture of the "neat" area, because I'm a good wife).

Dylan loves his tools. (I swear that I came in the room, and he was arranging his tools! OCD, a little?)

Jim loves to build things. (This is a shoe rack he built from scratch! Soon to be modified to work in our new house.)

Dylan loves to build things. (And destroy them two seconds after building them, but whatever).

Jim is very creative. (He made this three dimensional picture frame with cut paper. Cut paper!! As in, he cut each little circle and blade of grass by hand. I don't have that kind of patience. Or a steady hand.)

Dylan... well, time will tell. I totally see where he was going with this, though. The bold use of color, the juxtaposition of the lines, and the overall composition is quite impressive.

Here they are doing our taxes...

What can I say about my guys? Separately, they're adorable, but put them together and I'm turned to mush.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life and Death

I haven't felt like writing. Actually, I should say that I haven't felt like writing posts for my blog. Several events came together to settle a cloud of melancholy and deep thought over my mind. The first was learning that a friend of Jim's had breast cancer. I had only met her once, but she is the type of person that you immediately like - warm, and with a huge heart. The type who will do anything for a friend. She has only been married a couple years, and her son is only 17 months. The unfairness of it raged at me, and made me once again think about how fragile life is.

During the time in which she was undergoing chemo, having surgery, trying to regain her strength after surgery, and being told that she could possibly have bone cancer, (she doesn't!! : )), I had a sore throat. A sore throat that persisted for a month, and that a family doctor and a specialist couldn't diagnose. I was also exhausted. I felt weak, tired, and like I was going through my days in a fog. With each doctor visit and test, though, I kept thinking of her, and of the many like her, going through things much worse. (I have since come to be convinced that the whole thing was allergies, and I'm on medication for that and feeling much better).

During the last two weeks, my parents have been on vacation in Florida. I know that I depend on them, but it became clear just how much while they were away. One day, something happened, and I picked up the phone to tell them about it, before remembering they weren't at home. I sat down with tears in my eyes when the thought came to me that someday I won't be able to pick up the phone and tell them about my day, or ask for their advice.

One day, I forgot to take something to my employer's to do while the youngest took a nap. I grabbed one of the many books on the shelves to read - "Lovely Bones", by Alice Sebold. I don't know why I picked that one, but the timing was incredible.
It is a haunting novel told from the perspective of a young girl, from heaven, who was viciously murdered. Even though at times the story was told so graphically and the loss felt from the family was so honestly described that it was almost unbearable to read, I was spellbound. I was engrossed in the story from the first page. A story about death and life. It seems to be the prevalent theme on my mind this month.

So, what has all this focus on the subject resulted in? A renewed appreciation - for my health, for my life, and for the people in it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sore Throat Q & A's

1. Have I had a sore throat now for one whole month? Affirmative

2. Did I suffer for two whole weeks before realizing I should stop trying to be SuperMommy and go to the doctor? Affirmative

3. Did that doctor tell me, "I'm not sure what the problem is", before guessing I could have an infection caused by acid reflux, and giving me an antibiotic and reflux meds? Affirmative

4. Did she also make me endure a strep test and a torturous blood test? Affirmative

5. Do I have strep or mono? Negative

6. Did I then make an appointment to see an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist after waiting one week (as I was told), to see if the meds worked, to no avail? Affirmative

7. Did I then have to get a babysitter again, so I could go downtown for the appointment, and almost get my car towed because I parked on a "permit only" street? Affirmative

8. Did I then have to have an extremely long, frightening contraption shoved up my nose, and down into my throat? Affirmative

9. Does the specialist know what is wrong? Negative

10. Did he tell me to "give the acid reflux meds another week"? Affirmative

11. Am I feeling the slightest bit better? Negative

12. Did I have to make another appointment, and get another babysitter, so that I can now go get x-rays? Affirmative

13. Am I starting to get just a tad ANNOYED and IRRITABLE? AFFIRMATIVE

14. Do I realize that things could be a lot worse, and that I should stop my annoying whining? Affirmative

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Playground Days

The past two days we have been enjoying the warm weather by hanging out at the playground. I was recently introduced to Mosaic Maker by Jenn at Juggling Life, so here is my mosaic from the playground pictures...

(You can click on it to make it bigger).
Also, one of some flower shots I've taken in the past, to get us in the mood for spring...

This last shot, although blurry, perfectly captures the way I feel about FINALLY being able to enjoy the outdoors!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Favorite Posts Contest

Well, I have a gazillion(totally a word) other things I should be doing right now, but I heard
Barking Mad is having a contest to win a $250 Target gift card, so that's a NO BRAINER.
It does involve links and badges and technical crap that causes old people with feeble brains such as myself to mumble and hold their head in their hands, but again, $250 Target gift card!

I'm supposed to link to my favorite 5-10 posts. I'm doing 5 because I'm pretty sure the rest of you also have a gazillion things to do. I tried to pick some oldies, but goodies.

The Old Couple and The Leaves

A Book Review

A Phone Call With Spring

Super Soaker and The Stray

A Complaint Letter

*I should add that you don't need to do anything to "help me win" (Julia, you're the best!) I'm in the running just by participating.)