Catching Up and 21 Weeks

I inadvertently took last week off from blogging. Whoops. Sorry about that! Totally unintentional. It was my first week off from school for the summer and we had something planned (at times, several things) every. Damn. Day. Some of it was awesome; some of it was an emotional rollercoaster. Needless to say, I’m LOVING enjoying the fun and relative relaxation of the holiday weekend.

Seriously, I would love to post at least twice a week throughout the summer, depending on what’s happening. So, we’ll see how that goes down. 😉

Here are a few anecdotes from  what’s going on in our world, in general, to catch up:

* We didn’t really have set plans for Independence Day, and tend to like it that way, so we played it by ear. We met up with a close friend (and, randomly, tons of other friends and acquaintances! Love when that happens) at one of our favorite farmers’ markets. Since our CSA has us filled to the gills with veggies, I was ecstatic to find a berry vendor, so we stocked up on raspberries and strawberries, and even happened upon a rare late-season bundle of rhubarb. Looks like I’ll be making my grandmother’s recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie, if I can track it down. Hadman had his fill of berries – seriously, is there such thing as berry overdose? – and enjoyed socializing and counting dogs.

From there, we decided to hit up Barnes and Noble (a rare successful, no-meltdowns visit) for a few gifts for the little guy’s 3rd birthday, then a quick lunch at Panera’s, then still more shopping at Toys ‘R Us. The rest of the night was pretty chill, with nitrate-free hotdogs and corn on the cob for a super late dinner, some “Yankee Doodle Dandy” watching, and fireworks on TV. The little man stayed up way past 10 (and still had us up throughout the night, grr) and danced his arse off. 

My face looks like the mother of a newborn today. (And I’m not.)

‘Merica. 

* House-hunting front: We found a house that we loved…but it made us reevaluate our situation and realize that, nope, we can’t do it. At least, not under our current parameters and not that house. Big “wop, wop”s all around. But, as always, we appreciate what we’ve got and will figure it out. As Dave said, “We’re lucky to have a house at all, and wherever my family is, that’s home.” I truly feel the exact same way.

We learned long ago not to get emotionally attached to houses with what a heart-pounding experience house-hunting can be. So, we’ve actually gotten good at completely objective about any house. The more that I think about it, aside from the incredible location and just-right size (two things that are, admittedly, hard to come by) of this particular house, we could totally make a future place just as loveable.

Sings “the sun’ll come ooooouuuut…tomorrow!”

* Saying goodbye sucks. A quick story of friendship: Dave made a friend in high school who, as with many of his friends, became lifelong kindred spirits. Fast forward a bit and she moved back to town, along with her equally-awesome husband. We started having occasional girl time and even became pregnant just before we did with this second little bean. At the same time, she dropped the “reality bomb” that her family would be moving down south (to, admittedly, a much more comfortable situation, culturally and career-wise, for all). Prenatal yoga and an awesome Harry Potter themed baby shower, and the time has come to say goodbye.

Sad faces. Throw some tears in for good measure. I am SUPER bummed, not only that our littles won’t be raised closely, but that it’s so hard to make good friends. Luckily, they’ll visit during the holidays and it’s true that real friends never actually go away…but, yeah. Still bummed. 

* Blogging for realz, yo. During the super-late naptime yesterday, I was finally able to finish off my FIRST POST EVER for an awesome (seriously, never saw one bad review!) cloth diaper company. The fact that I can speak with my own voice, NOT just discuss cloth diapering (although, clearly, that’s a thing I plan to do) but also parenting toddlers/newborns and just our experiences, in general, is huge. I don’t have to speak commercially. And, yes, it’s paid.

Needless to say, super excited!    

* Birthday boy! So, we’re planning a low-key 3rd birthday for the little guy to take place…in a week. I know, I haven’t posted a recap of my plans or anything (which I hope to do this week!), but at least we’ve stocked up on gifts. Now, just comes the *simple* meal-planning, prep & cooking/baking and any decor we may use.

So, stay tuned for that this week!

* Oh, yeah, and I’m 21 weeks along. As of last week, the baby’s officially measuring from head to toe (rather than head to rump). After a spill down the stairs last week with Hadley (we’re fine), I was super happy to have a sonogram showing how awesome everything’s coming along last week. We did have an encounter with a usually-super-cool doctor when I asked about the impending (like, early August) blood glucose test. I had asked about the possibility of drinking or eating an alternative to the chemical- and artificial color-filled orange gunk and she became unexpectedly testy. It was actually the first time I’ve had blatant push-back about eating organically (not ALL the time) and naturally (again, not ALL the time, but a majority of it). Huh. So, yeah, that was weird and not the norm whatsoever for our usual visits.

***For the record, she said I COULD do the “pancake and the works meal” that morning (I had heard that are particular 100% juices that you could chug instead), but it’s “the same amount of sugar”…to which I said that the sugar’s not what I’m concerned about. I guess some people can’t get their minds out of “sugar and calories are the enemy” mode? We’re down on chemicals and general crappiness of food.***

Otherwise, everything’s going fine and I’m trying not to dwell on stupid crap like that. Which, of course, means that I’m subconsciously obsessing about it and dreading my next appointment and making me think “they’re forcing a C-section on me AND make me feel like crap about asking questions…okay, screw that.” Blah. 

For the record, I hardly feel pregnant most of the time and don’t feel like I’m gaining any weight at all lately. Like, I think my tummy was bigger a month ago than now, but they didn’t seem to see any issue and as long as that little heart was beating (and he/she was ACTIVE while they were trying to catch a profile view), I’m good. Like, really good. Like, “don’t take me down, doc” good. And Hadley totally, 100% thinks it’s a girl.


So, what’s new with you guys?? I know, tons of boring information comin’ atchya. I just couldn’t seem to write anything else without doing a brain-dump first. You lucky readers, you. 😉

Driving

The first time I tried driving, my mother took me to the same spots she had taken my three siblings. We started in our church parking lot, which went quite well. She was so confident in my ability that she let me hit the mean streets of Mohawk. Everything was going fine until it started raining, hard, at which point I fiddled switches until I had my lights and wipers going. By the time we got home, we were getting angry beeps and shouts. My high-beams were on. (In retrospect, I’ve seen people do this and while people might get irritated, it seems like all these people were having a REALLY bad day, excessively freaking out.)

My mother was at the end of her rope. It wasn’t a huge deal, but she angrily slammed the door and muttered throughout the kitchen that she “couldn’t do this one more time; three was enough.” I understood. She had already diligently taught my brothers and sister how to drive; her wits were shot. But, it still saddened me. 

But, then appeared a beacon. My normally quiet stepfather chimed in. “I can teach her to drive. I’m sure she’ll do great.” 

It was the first time that I found myself excited to spend time with him. For the previous two years, I had made life for Jerry a veritable hell under our roof. He was one of the kindest people I had ever met, yet the simple idea of him and his entrance into our family, I took like an immature brat. There was a lot of hurt in my heart and I thrust it all upon him in heaps of the silence treatment and corrections (I’ve always been the grammar police, but his intelligence has always been of a technical/mechanical ilk; thus, I attacked). 

So, we hit the road a few times. 

That summer, I signed up for driver’s ed classes. The instructor had warned us not to do “too many lessons” since he’d have to fix incorrect driving methods. Unfortunately, I was stuck with a different fellow and had next to no skills aside from the occasional drive. He took to taunting me in other classes (a friend relayed to me) and cut my confidence down. Far. I learned next to nothing from the man but to fear driving and hold the wheel. I improved, much to his chagrin, but only from Jerry’s efforts.

The only bright spot that summer were the rides I took with Jerry. Getting behind the wheel with him was a joy rather than a lesson in humility. We would listen to the oldies station (which we both enjoyed) and he would simply tell me to drive. He would sometimes lean back in the seat and pretend to take a nap; he was actually quite awake, keeping an eye on me, but silently reminding me that he trusted my driving. I only got us lost once, and he immediately knew what strange back road I had happened upon, getting us back on track without a single scold. We would often end up at a local ice cream joint before heading home. 

Any time we had an errand to run, I drove, learning how to park in the busiest of situations. He took me a couple of times to try 3-point and parallel parking; with him, it was easy and simple compared to the high-stress situation at summer school. When I suddenly returned knowing how to park, the instructor was palpably frustrated. It felt great.

I “passed” my class, but continued driving with Jerry. He brought me to my driving test and happened to know the gentleman overseeing the thing; distracted, the man signed off on my sheet before I had clicked my buckle. Luckily, I did fine (well, my parallel park was kind of crappy; I’ve since mastered it) and earned my license.

That winter, as a good-sized squall started outside, he called out to my mother that we needed to go pick up some ice cream. Why on Earth he wanted to get ice cream was beyond me, especially with an impending blizzard, but I went. He hopped in the driver’s seat. After driving a block, he pulled over and told me to get out. We switched seats and headed to the next town, back tires shifting and sliding in the building slush. On the way home, the snow had become white-out conditions. I was at the front of a row of drivers, but he kept me calm. He explained that I should follow the ruts of the driver before me and how braking is an entirely different beast in the snow. Every time I’m caught in snow (which, in Central New York, is about half the year), I remember that experience. 

I have since learned countless other lessons from this man. He couldn’t wait for me to get my first house and help me fix it up; turns out, he also ended up teaching my husband (who has been such an eager learner, I couldn’t be prouder) about plumbing, electrical, and hundreds of other home improvement things. Now that Jerry’s older, we find ourselves sad to think that he won’t be as hands-on with any future home we finally hunt down.

But, beyond those practical lessons, he has become a guide. Time changes minds and hearts, and through his quietness, occasional common sense opinions, and dry but hilarious sense of humor, he has made himself an essential cog in our family. There was a time that I insisted that any child of mine wouldn’t call him “Grandpa”, but today I welcome the name (although Hadley actually refers to him as “Papa”, which is just fine). There was a time I wanted Mom or maybe my dear grandfather to walk me down the aisle; on the special day, I instead asked Mom and Jerry, both, to be at my side. 

There was also a time that I could picture him outlasting all of us, with a youthful energy and endurance to undertake more puttering and heavy-duty outdoor tasks in a day than a man a quarter of his age. Unfortunately, while he’s still as virile as any of us, he has been forced to slow down by some health complications. We are reminded that we will not always have our practical guide to turn to, and it brings me tears to think we’ll lose another father. When I hear people younger than him complain about getting older and “not being around forever”, I find myself angered that they don’t do more with their youth while they have it. Jerry is no self-pitier, nor should anyone be.

So, with Father’s Day upon us, I hope this year to salute not only the father of my children, whom I am grateful for on a daily basis, and all the fatherly figures who have touched our lives and hearts in so many ways, but specifically Jerry, who gets little credit for the huge job he has happily taken on. For those fathers who may not be related by blood, but have quietly fought their ways into our rude little hearts. For those fathers who had a choice, and regardless of the mountainous task ahead, took that choice to be someone’s father and to fill the role.

And for teaching me how to check my oil, I thank him. 

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

This year was possibly the most fun and exciting Mother’s Day weekend we’ll probably ever have. Friday, my sister had a baby — little Timothy Conner. Saturday, there was our sister-in-law’s baby shower (she’s due in July with her first, a little boy named Parker!) and my brother surprised us with a visit from Ohio to meet the new little one. Sunday, well, we celebrated Mother’s Day.

Dave gave us a super-early breakfast (because lately we’ve been super-early risers) that he cooked completely on the grill (toast, eggs, bacon, and sweet potatoes) and we got to enjoy peacefully on our deck. A gift of an azalea, new gardening gloves from Hadman and a gift card to “The Tailor and the Cook” (to say nothing of my two adorable, tear-jerking cards) topped off my day. Then, I played and ran around with Hadley while Dave did dishes and got ready before we bolted off to bring a second breakfast to his parents. While there, Dave made one last call to his brother – whom we’d been keeping a secret from until post-shower – to cover (most of) our bases.

When we got home and as Hadley fought a nap (we were heading to my mother’s house later in the day), we synchronized a Facebook status update, counting down 3…2…1….

We were anxious about the announcement, not because of the actual news but because the announcement might be confusing to some of our friends. We’re fans of “The Onion”, which is very much our strange sense of humor, and Dave had come up with this idea months ago. So, we plopped down at our dining room table, told Hadley to “think”, and set the auto-shoot on the camera. The little guy just happened to put his finger up saying, “Me have an idea!” as it went off and there we were. After weeks of writing and editing, we were happy with the final result. 
I figured it’d be nice to do a “normal” announcement here along with our quirky one. (Click and double-click on the above image to read it closer and better, BTW.)

Baby Bunny/Bulldog/#2 is due sometime in November. I say “sometime” because at our first sonogram we were told that our original date was off and we were further ahead than expected (by about a week). So, mid-November works right now. For the most part, things are very calm and peaceful and healthy, just like we like it. I’ll be posting later this week to discuss how things are going and how/when we found out (yup, I’ve got lots of blog posts in my head that I haven’t been able to talk about before now!), so if you have any questions, feel free to ask away. Otherwise, I’ll just over-share on my own. 😉

So, yeah. It was probably the best Mother’s Day I’ll ever have. I hope any moms out there had one just as wonderful!

Let’s Get Physical, Physical


It’s our last weekend for “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” folks! If you’re in the area and in the mood for some PG-13ish entertainment in a quaint historical setting, hit us up at 8 tonight…or 8 tomorrow night…or 2 on Sunday. Please and thanks! You won’t regret it, and neither will I!!

Yeah, no. I can’t do this.
It pains me to look.

Okay, on with the main event. (Thought y’all could use a non-theater post for one day. Happy Friday to YOU!)

I’ve mentioned a few times lately the fact that I’m going to physical therapy. Long story short, it seems that I had some extra wear-and-tear on my knees while pregnant (um, baby was big) and I did a lot more than I probably should have. When you have pregnancy pains, you tend to assume they’re just that — pregnancy pains — rather than an actual “thing.” I also didn’t adjust properly to walking/moving “normally” post-pregnancy.

So, I’ve got a couple of Baker’s cysts, which are just minute tears ([not min-it teers, but my-noot tares] in this case, on the back of both of my knees — nothing you can SEE, but you could feel them if you crawled into my achy body) that fill with the fluid that’s supposed to help my knee caps do their thang. There are a couple of other issues, but that’s generally the idea of the thing. I’ve been sore, and at times it’s been super difficult to move or squat, let alone shelve books at work.

The ultimate goal is to build up my thighs to support my knees better, as well as build up the strength again in my knees. Just call me “Thunder Thighs!!!” Not sure if those tears will ever heal on their own, but it’d be nice.

I’m going to a local place, Fitness Forum, which has been good for the most part. However, my biggest challenges are the facts that —

a) I just had a different doctor last week (filling in for my usual physical therapist) who gave me a completely different regiment of exercises,

b) I’m awkward as heck in “gym” situations, so I always feel like I’m doing it wrong (or just when I think I’m doing it right, the p/t tells me I’m not…embarrassing), and

c) I’ve had a very hard time finding the TIME to do my home exercises — the biggest challenge.

I’m trying to stay positive, but I’ve never been a super active person. Maybe that’s one reason my legs are so “surprisingly” tight for a “girl my age.” (Love that. Not.)

In high school, I played tennis and enjoyed it greatly (and attempted short stints with basketball and volleyball — not so great). Oh, and as a senior, I tried bowling, but that was a way to connect with my dad’s hobby and I wasn’t even close to good. I disliked gym; I was a music-English-history girl. Heck, I would’ve stayed with volleyball if my JV coach hadn’t been borderline abusive (verbally and physically pushing me to the point of throwing up every day; not the whole team) about not belonging there — she had gone to school with my siblings, who were band geeks like myself.

See? A bit of emotional soreness over athletics. Blah.

But, this is something else. This is to allow me to do my work again the way it needs to be done. This is to allow me to crawl around with my son and change his diaper and play with him without groaning in pain every time. This is to give me my energy and feeling of normalcy back.

It’ll be worth it, I know. I just have to jump some mental hurdles first — my own issues. Here’s how I hope to handle them:

a) Check in with my regular physical therapist to ensure that I’m doing the proper exercises…’cuz, yeah, they’re 100% different than what I was doing. (I have since done this, and while I have a million exercises, I’m adapting them to my needs. ie Not doing them all everyday.)

b) Get the heck over it. There are a TON of high school athletes around me doing exercises (and knowing full well how to do them) and a BUTTLOAD of older folks (dressed in Dockers and belts…? Here I was worried about my ratty sweatpants on the first day. I HAVE amended this situation that I blend in well enough, thanks to new sweats and new sneakers.), so I’m a rare creature. As with most things in life, I’ll just do my best and listen to what they tell me to do and deal with it. After all, it’s not forever. Just like gym class.

c) Um, yeah. This part sucks. I’m supposed to do them 2 times a day (they had mentioned 2-3, but we all know that ain’t happenin’). It seems that every time I go, the amount of exercises double — either in duration or just by changing what I’m doing — so it’s been confusing to LEARN the exercises as well as dig out the time to do them. (An assistant there that I LOVE has recently told me that once a day, especially with the busy life I’ve got goin’ on, is just fine. I love her.) SO, my attempt at a strategy here is to do them in the bedroom, when possible.

Wait, what? Yes, in the bedroom. If I get up early (5:30, people!!!! NO!), turn on the news, and do them while I don’t have any distractions (ahem, baby crawling on my stomach thinking it’s hysterical to sit on Mommy’s belly while she’s doing bridges, and, ahem, husband who doesn’t realize how much focus a grown woman needs to count to 20), I think I’m more apt to do them. Er, at least most of them. There are a couple of the exercises I’ve cut out on my own (probably breaking a cardinal rule, but…) because they’re painful. Like, direct knee contact that seems to be causing more issues than doing good type of stuff. (Don’t worry; I talk to my PT about it and we figure stuff out.)

Oh, and the same thing goes for the evenings (when I’m not into doing the 5:30 thing). When it’s time to chill out for the night, it seems that having one “zone” to do these exercises is half the battle. Plus, Dave zones out with his graphic novels (he is the Dorky Daddy, after all) and we can throw on The Big Bang Theory (or whatever, I’m not choosy…man, we are dorky) and I get the job done.

*sigh* I’ll get through it. And, y’know what? When I do, I hope to be pain-free enough to sign back up for some weekly yoga. Plus, when spring *finally* arrives (we have snow in the forecast…as long as that’s sitting on the 7-day outlook, it ain’t spring), we’ll be able to do family walking after work on a few days thanks to the hubby’s “new and improved” schedule.

See? Always a silver lining. 😉

A Valentine’s Day Look Back

Hey, folks! Happy Valentines Day! We’re setting aside our tradition of eating at Beardslee Castle (our go-to romantic locavore meal place, since it was where we had our wedding reception and it’s just so freaking awesome) in favor of a homemade, “adult” meal. Read: Mom’s watching the Hadman so that I can cook food that he doesn’t really eat (or, at least I don’t have to worry about whether he eats it or not); scallops provencal and a nice steak (surf ‘n turf, anyone?), probably with a bit of wine.

So. What’re YOU doing for the day? Nothing? Having a romantic dinner or watching a sappy movie? Watching your annoying daughter’s kid so that she can spend a couple of hours with her husband?

I really have no idea where this post is going to go today. From time to time, I have folks mention that they have a hard time finding their way around MAO (erm, the blog), although the “Archives” tab should help a bit with that. But, I thought it’d be interesting to “walk around” the ol’ joint and share some of my favorite moments. And, according to page views, a few reader favorites, as well.

Come along, won’t you?

Since it’s V-Day, and this is, of course, one of my all-time favorite posts, I thought I’d share my “it’s been 6 months and I finally got around to showing wedding pics” post. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find reality is a harsh broad when you realize how many of our friend-couples aren’t together anymore. Ahhh, life. And I can’t believe that was 2011…seems like yesterday. 

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/04/six-months.html

While we’re at it, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a post about the Hadman. Because, of course, he’s everything.

Okay, more than one post (such a scary weekend!). Maybe three (such a fun weekend!). And the original post where I talked about breastfeeding issues…and announcing his birth.

And our other boys are also still tops with us, even with a kid in tow. I’ve shared about how we got each of them, but I think a brief kitty post like this fits the bill just fine. Just a blurb about their personalities and what we appreciate about each of their idiosyncrasies.

And, now for some of YOUR favorites (based on what my stats tell me).

BY FAR, my most-viewed post is about Overcoming Facebook Addiction. This is still an uphill battle for an addict like me, but I try to keep it at a minimum. And, not to make excuses, but this becomes a bigger challenge in the winter months when my mind and body go into hibernation mode. (Can’t wait to get outside with the monkey!)

In a case of “ya never know what people will like” lies my mantle-without-a-fireplace post…which should really just be called “hanging a shelf.”

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/08/mantle-with-no-fireplace.html

Similarly random (and voyeuristic) is the showing of how horrific our bathroom started out. I recently found better “before” pictures that I’d like to show when all is said and done, but I really don’t want to call our bathroom “done” until I can get the shower surround completed. It’s about 90% done, in that case. 🙂 (This is what I would call the “in-between” phase where we’d at least switched up the sink and mirror, etc.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/04/bad-bad-bathroom.html

Sadly, this next post has a ton of views, which makes me proud yet numb to think about. It’s about a few days that changed the way of life in our humble little towns. No pictures, just words. Very true, very broken words.

Aaaaand a trip down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without a breastfeeding post, right? But, this isn’t just ANY breastfeeding post. This is the ever-controversial (in my mind; nobody had anything negative to say — thank goodness) “I lost my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding” post in response to countless comments from folks (women) regarding how much weight I’d lost.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-sorry-i-didnt-do-it-on-purpose.html

Last but not least, since our own Dorky Daddy’s birthday just happens to be two days after Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite gushingly corny post about him. Just for embarrassment’s sake.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-sorry-i-didnt-do-it-on-purpose.html

Mind you, some of these old posts are from before I realized that small pictures kinda suck, so please be kind. The heart’s still there, and that’s what matters most.

What about you? Do you have a favorite old post? Are you surprised at how things have changed around here, or do you think they’re pretty much the same (just with three more cats and a kid)? Anything you want to read more (or less) about? I’m always open to suggestions. 🙂

I’m Sorry! I Didn’t Do It On Purpose

This may be a controversial post (or you might peruse it and go “feh” then move onto red vs. blue arguments; to each his own ;-)), but I’d just like to address something. And, sure, offer an apology.

Okay, here goes: I didn’t lose my baby weight on purpose. I didn’t go out of my way to shed the pounds. I don’t exercise in an intentional way, and I don’t watch what I eat (beyond the usual, “don’t gorge yourself to the point of embarrassment” thought process).

And to those of you who may feel uncomfortable that I lost the weight so quickly (and that I seem to have kept it off), I apologize. While I’ve never been overweight (um, aside from, y’know…pregnancy), myself, I’ve fluctuated over time and remember “pudgy” times; I also have some very close friends and family who have struggled with their weight since I can remember, and have always felt deeply for them — and every other woman who deals with this issue. Seriously, I just saw an episode of “Super Fun Night” and, while the star is a great comedienne and deserves a voice for her humor, I found myself growing angrier and angrier that the overweight individual isn’t shown as a NORMAL person in regular (read: non-comedic) positions.

Oops, jumping off the soapbox. Anyhoo, I am genuinely sorry to anyone who may feel uncomfortable (or, perhaps, jealous…hate to use that term), but I thought I’d explain exactly how I inadvertently lost not just the “baby weight”, but that “extra 10” or so that has always followed me around.

#1: Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. Back when we first had Hadley, between the exhaustion and constancy of parenting a newborn, and the super regular feedings, the weight seemed to literally disappear within a week or so. I was ravenously hungry (because HE was ravenously hungry) and couldn’t seem to get enough calories, no matter how hard I tried. (And, boy, I tried.) So, that was a kickstarter to the whole thing.

Today, we still breastfeed, but we’re tapering off to 2-3 times a day, far far far less in each feeding. I’m getting emotionally used to it. My mother always warned me to expect the weight to come back in full force when this happened, but so far, I think I’ve just adjusted. It is what it is. Of course, I’m not eating as much because my body doesn’t call for as much, but I still eat…like…lots. (Healthy snacks all day sort of stuff.)

#2: That sweet little helpless newborn grew the hell up…seemingly overnight. How do they DO that?! Anyhoo, with that baby-to-crazy-little-boy growth came running…and getting into EVERYTHING. Which means lots and lots of chasing for Mama (and Papa, who also seems to be whittling down his waist an ounce at a time). Who needs a gym membership?

#3: Did I mention he’s a hungry boy? Hadley’s officially a gourmet connoisseur. This means he not only wants the food he’s getting…he wants what I’m getting, too. Whether I like it or not (hint: I don’t), he’s in the habit of begging for food off of MY plate every time we sit down for a meal. If we eat at the exact same time, SOMETIMES I’m able to get most of my food down my gullet. It never fails, though; his attention diverts to my plate and it’s meltdown city until he has at least a few bites.

And don’t get me started on my ‘nilla ice cream.

#4: Water. I’ve gotten into the habit of consuming tons more water than I used to; I can’t even make it through the night without downing an entire full glass. I do believe that these not only keeps me feeling healthier, but makes me feel a tad fuller when I do sit down to eat. And, for the record, while we do our best to eat “real food” and organic, I doubt it has anything to do with my weight loss; we by no means go without, if ya know what I’m sayin’.

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as sounding rude or even defensive; it’s not meant as such! But, when I hear folks, 15 months after having the baby, sneering “You’re SOOOO skinny!!!” “Megan! You’re TOO skinny.” or any variation regarding having a baby and “tininess” (dude, I ain’t tiny! I’m a tall lady!!), my feathers get a little ruffled. The tone is generally a mixture of disdain and disgust (I kid you not). Most of the time, these folks aren’t my friends, so I try to brush it off, but nary a week goes by that a comparable phrase doesn’t grace my ears.

So, I say, “Sorry.” Really. Maybe we’ll all feel better when baby #2 (SOME DAY!) comes along and I’m unable to bounce back to my pre-baby weight.

Friday the Thirteenth

Dave posted his version of this story (in a wonderfully succinct yet emotional way), so I can luckily edit mine back a bit…ha, right. There are parts that I just don’t want to forget; there are others I forgot the moment they happened that he probably included. Here’s my version, mostly so that I can look back in a week, a month, years, and remind myself of our luck and happiness.

I completely jinxed myself. In a major way. First, I was mentally celebrating Hadley’s 14-month “birthday” (even posting it on Facebook, which is big for me lately), joking that Friday the 13th isn’t unlucky since he was born on the superstitious day — and what a joy he’s been since. Plus, the prior Wednesday, I wrote that I’d try to write some lighter blog posts, and Friday I followed through. Then, in a very real way, all hell broke loose.

We awoke on Friday to find that Hadley had a low-grade temperature. He was relatively normal, but still tired (since I often get him up at 6:45 to rush off with Daddy by 7am), but a) it was too late for me to call in to work (and my schedule this year has yet to be re-printed, so it would’ve been tough to provide sub plans, even emergency ones), b) he was going to have a day alone with his grandma, so he was going to have one-on-one care, and c) it could’ve been teething for all we knew, although his little cousin had had what seemed to be a virus earlier in the week which consisted of about a day or two of sluggishness and fever that safely ran its course. All signs pointed to being safe to head to work.

Since Dave was going to be promoting his online comic series at a local convention all weekend, I headed off to Utica to pick the little man up after work. I had received a few updates throughout the day, and was asked if he should have some more Tylenol before I picked him up. I wish I had answered sooner rather than finally getting to the text and saying he could wait until I got there. We can’t say that would’ve helped the situation or not, though, but regardless…hindsight is painful.

Something felt wrong as I drove. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it the high-stress workweek I had just completed? Was it a change in the weather? My nerves were up, and I must admit they haven’t totally let up yet.

When I arrived, I found a concerned grandmother holding the little man, clearly sluggish and seemingly watching TV. She mentioned that he had been shivering, but had recently had a strange shake, and that we might want to take him to urgent care that evening. Then things took a sudden downward spiral.

We gave him some children’s Tylenol (a natural version) but I noticed that he wasn’t sucking on the syringe the way he usually does. In fact, he was hardly moving, and he hadn’t responded to me once (very, very rare for suddenly having a parent arrive). We both agreed I should call his pediatrician. After running to the car to get my phone and finally calling, they agreed that we should take him to the hospital. During that time, he grew worse, clearly in the middle of a seizure.

Donna drove my car while my tremoring voice constantly assured my now vomiting little baby that everything would be alright. I was breathless. He wasn’t acting violently in his carseat; the Tylenol and what appeared to be drool and bile oozed from his mouth, his eyes glassed over and almost closed, his body both stiff and limp simultaneously. The hospital, only a handful of blocks from my mother-in-law’s home, showed itself before us and I ran in what felt like slow motion into the ER (nearly knocking over a man pushing a walker), hardly stopping to talk to the staff. Thinking back, I felt he was already brain dead in the car. I felt we were losing him. That fear still hasn’t left my gut, although he’s with us, able to eat, to play, to move again.

The ER staff was absolutely incredible, the best medical technicians I have ever seen in my life. They insisted that things would be fine, and while I trusted them, I didn’t believe them. Normally, I trust medical personnel (whether I should or not) and put my faith in their hands, but their actions and tones of voice indicated that they were highly concerned. I didn’t leave his side, feeling as if I had absolutely zero control over what was happening…and I didn’t. None of us did.

His fever hadn’t gotten that high, maybe 103 at the most. Babies can hit 105 or so commonly (although it’s not a good thing), but I was later reminded that we have a few family members who naturally run a low temp, so there’s a chance that the 102-point-whatever that he reached might have been his “high”.

About 45 minutes to an hour after arriving, which felt more like 10 minutes, he started seizing again, his eyes rolling and his body shaking, which concerned the (AWESOME!!!!!) doctor since his temperature at that point was below 100. We later figured that he had simply spiked too much, but he was honest with us that it was rare for a child with “no fever” (practically no fever, at least) to seize, so this was the point that his father and I had to decide how much testing we needed to do. (Dave had come straight to the hospital, as did his father.) His brain might have damage. It could be meningitis. It could be something else we were completely unaware of. 

I wanted to sing to him more than anything on Earth, to talk to him with a calm demeanor but my body wouldn’t allow me to. I whispered in his ear and kissed his face, but I’m not sure anything I said made sense. I was in shock. I was starving, I wanted to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t move from Trauma 2. At times, I held him, my limp little doll, receiving no indication that he knew I had him. For the first time, there was nothing my mother’s love could do to fix the situation. I ached from the numbness. I would have rather died in that moment than to see him lost.

We made a fast decision to do a spinal tap to determine if it was meningitis. I looked into the doctor’s eyes, which were anxious but kind, and I nervously told him that I trusted him. We shared an unspoken awareness and respect in that moment. Hadley was stable (albeit still unresponsive), so we were taken to a quiet room while they did the procedure, picking my sister up at the door along the way. She later told me that she wanted to throw up or pass out when she saw the looks on our faces; we all looked like we had already lost him, apparently. I think we all were in serious shock.

After 15 years…minutes…we were led back and I held him, his pale body in nothing but a diaper with oxygen and IV tubes wrapping us up together. I rocked him subconsciously as the doctor said that it seemed we were clear for meningitis. It was discussed that if the seizures continued or they couldn’t determine cause that we would be heading to Syracuse (the best place in the area for a sick child, but dauntingly terrifying for us to be an hour from home…there are worse things, though, and I was glad they were willing to hand his case over if need be), during which a family tiff arose over whether we’d use an ambulance or helicopter. The doctor, Dave and I agreed that an ambulance would be safest and simplest (not to mention cheapest) and I had to silently but stalwartly put my foot down; we’re the parents, we make the decisions. Luckily, everyone understood; besides, I said, it might not even come to that. Part of me wished we could be alone with our son; another part of me was happy to be surrounded by support.

The next decision was whether or not to expose the little guy’s brain to the radiation of a CAT scan to determine whether there was any brain damage. The irony of all the little choices we make to make our little boy as healthy as we can, every organic cheese stick or homemade whole wheat muffin, hit me hard. One in 5,000 chance of developing a tumor; not a huge risk, but not a small one. After some conversation amongst the family (my mother had also arrived, thank God, looking just as hopeless as I felt), though, and lots of mental flip-flops, I had already decided. For the most part, I had been quiet. Shock, fear, and hopelessness will do that. But, I needed to know for the future if every twitch or strange behavior (which may or may not be a normal reaction of a young child) was actually due to a seizure he had when he was 14 months. I had to know.

I held him on a gurney as Dave and I were ushered to radiation. Along the way, we passed a sweet family with an infant and a child just older than Hadley. I couldn’t help but look at them with tear-filled eyes and a half-smile, silently telling them to hug their kids a little tighter at bedtime, then hang my head. Watching his little body lie in that huge machine as his perfect little brain appeared piece-by-piece in a blue image on a screen, I immediately knew he was okay. I was starting to feel more hopeful, but still couldn’t breathe.

The anti-seizure medication wore off as time went on, and while he wasn’t smiling or normal in the slightest, seeing his droopy eyes start to work again was encouraging. Still, I couldn’t breathe fully, or think much, or allow myself to let my guard down. I figure it’s probably how a mama out in the wilderness feels after a close-call attack from a predator; it’s a relief, but they must still be on high-alert…constantly.

Dave’s parents arrived with mountains of food for us, my mother had arrived at some point, and the nurses said that we could try some apple juice with the baby since he needed fluids (although he also had the IV); we later found out that the small pouch of food and fluids he downed was a no-no since there was a higher chance of asphyxiation during the night if he had another seizure or anymore vomiting. Dave decided to take his car home with his dad (to have a ride back) and to grab necessities for us and feed the cats. As my sister, and later my mother left, I could see that they were still concerned. We clearly weren’t out of the woods and the night ahead was sure to be difficult.

Still on a gurney, the baby and I, along with Donna (my partner in tragedy, at this point) were brought to Room 357, which housed a cage-like bed for Hadley and a smaller-than-a-twin hospital bed which Dave and I ended up sharing for the night. I don’t remember whether I held the baby after settling in or if he went into his “cage” (exhausted and still under the effects of medication), but I chatted with Donna until Dave came, starting to feel as if everything might just be okay. My heart was still in my throat that the night could prove terrifying.

The baby received a regimen of painkillers/fever reducers throughout the night. The rest is a blur — about 2 hours of sleep for each parent, some fussiness but general exhaustion from the baby, a rebellious breastfeeding at 3am (I know his hungry cries (obviously), and I also knew I wasn’t going to be sleeping the rest of the night so if there were issues with seizing and choking, I’d catch it immediately), lots of IV bag changing, chest listening and hiney temp checks (which was getting sorer and sorer since a bout with diarrhea had started). The more aware he became, the more pulling-out of his nasal oxygen tube he did, clearly frustrated, himself. His temperature was still fluctuating, but not higher than 102 (generally between upper 99s and 101s.

When morning broke, his oxygen was checked and deemed fine; only the IV left to go. It was also decided to try some food, of which he ate an entire pancake, yogurt (ugh, with corn syrup), at least 1/2 a banana, some juice and milk. Kinda usual for him. He still didn’t look at all like himself, but his energy grew and he became fidgety without being able to toddle around or play much.

A doctor finally came and Hadley’s mood was pretty cheery by this point. His fever had yet to break (still fluctuating between upper 90s and lower 100s) but the doctor thought that his condition was good enough to go home. At this point, we were confident that we could handle it since he was acting more like his old self.

Over the few hours that it took to write up our release papers, however, he started to show signs of sluggishness like the day before, and his fever hit the 102 area. Again, this doesn’t seem very high for a baby, but with a usually low resting temp this was discouraging. (I also wish the doctors took this into account more, but it is what it is.) We let the head nurse know of our concerns about heading home and found out that, because the doctor had already signed off, we could stay but our insurance probably wouldn’t cover it. Eep.

We called our doctor’s office (since they doctor through another hospital). We called my mother. We called a friend who just happens to be a patient advocate. Anxiously, we finally decided just to bring him home and see what we could do for him, sure to ask exactly what to do if he had another seizure.

Within 45 minutes of returning home, the baby was still “sick looking” but acting a lot better and had a much lower fever. We slept on his floor that night, a sleeping bag unzipped, blankets and pillows piled, a cool mist humidifier flowing. The cats slept closely, clearly concerned about our little family.

Things improved, although his temp still fluctuated, and we both decided to stay home Monday with him. We cuddled and hit him with the BRAT(TY) diet (for his diarrhea), and slept alongside his crib again Sunday night. Monday, we visited his doctor to determine if we were doing what we should be.

Still giving pain/fever reducing medications on an alternating schedule, he has since maintained a lower temperature but developed the sniffles and a croup-like cough. And, of course, Mommy has, too. The lack of sleep, general worry over him and what not left me open for that, I figure. I ended up taking an entire week off from work, between taking care of him early in the week and coming down with the nasties myself the rest of the week.

It was the epitome of a roller coaster weekend, and we both left it with a very changed life perspective. After experiencing some scary local events earlier this year, I can still say that this was the most terrifying moment either of us have endured to this point in our lives.

That being said, we’re no fools. We know that febrile seizures are common — like, one in every 25 kids common (and 1/3 of those that experience them will have more). We’ve heard from friends (um, and even strangers) whose kids or grandkids or niece’s child or (you get the point) have had them. In some ways, it’s encouraging and humbling to know we’re not the only people on Earth (or even on our block) to go through this. We’re not special, of course, and we know it. I’d like to call it the Febrile Seizure Club if it comes to that.

But that doesn’t diminish how frightening the experience was for us or anyone else present, or what it taught us about life, its preciousness, and even the importance of embracing the moment. So, thanks for indulging me in getting our story out there. We’re grateful for the opportunity. 

Framed

I know that I’ve been doing some pretty heady posts lately (I try to maintain a balance…really, there’s a rhyme to my reasoning!), but I felt too strongly not to write something. I promise I’ll do some fun, fluffy pieces soon. 🙂 We all need a bit of mental neutrality now and then.

This past weekend, we made a quick family trip to buy frames. Dave is excited to add some pictures to his new office, as well as get the chance to price out a framing option for his favorite Grandma Moses print. While we were at it, I decided to switch out the old, cheap, too-traditional frame for one of my favorite possessions; my dad’s photograph.

The picture was taken, as I have been told (and memory may or may not be an accurate thing; that happens a lot for me when it comes to my father), the morning that he returned to work after another round of cancer treatment. By the afternoon, he called home telling Mom that he had found another lump. It was only a matter of time before he was gone.

The original copy of this picture rotated throughout our childhood home as a plain, silent shrine. We were painfully aware that he was gone, but hardly spoke of it. So, there he sat. The one gentle reminder with a Mona Lisa smile and just enough youthfulness to make it burn a little more.

Over the years, I happened upon other photographs, mostly old family candids, that helped tell me a story of the man I hardly knew. Partly mischievous, partly serious, always so handsome. I carried one of the copies of his senior picture in my wallet as a teenager, even going so far as to tape it in my locker alongside a bittersweet shot of my sister and I sitting alongside him in “his chair,” all in sweats, an enormous fruit basket in the foreground. Looking back, I realized how gray and gaunt he looked, and that it was just about the time he left for the hospital (which I faintly remember), never to return.

But, still, this photo was quite literally his personification.

I don’t quite remember when, but my mother decided to have prints made and framed. Four; one for each of us. I’m sure she was apprehensive, worrying that we would all hate the reminder (much like when we received a very kind Christmas gift of all the old McCoy home movie footage on tape; there were plenty of tears that holiday season, but it was nice to see him in motion with our aunts and uncles, in living color). But, we were all deeply grateful to have our own piece of him.

That copy, in a couple of different Dollar Store frames over the years, has followed me to college and back, to my first apartment, to my first house; through family fights and deaths and marriages and babies. No matter my variance in moods or ups-and-downs with depression, it was a stalwart on-looker who always helped to pull me up by my boot straps. Not until I reflect on it now do I realize that, yes, Dad really did have an influence in my life over the years, though it was a very private, quiet one. I may not have any recollection of his personality or his voice or his opinions and views, but he has been there for me.

Of all my possessions, big and small, this image is the one thing that I would grab in a storm or fire or nuclear attack. (This, of course, does not include living things, which are actually family and not “possessions.” Child and cats included. ;-)) There are other important things that I’d like to grab — namely, my Katharine Hepburn autograph — but if I couldn’t, Dad would come.

So, as I stood before a row of frames in all their splendor, some plain and dignified, some with enough traditional curlicues for royalty, I found myself overwhelmed and fighting back tears. This frame needed to represent him, because the picture IS him. I finally landed on a couple of wooden options; one with dozens of rustic-looking coconut shell inserts and, finally, this one —

Crappy cell picture. In crappy lighting.
Win-win.


It’s plain. It’s a bit rustic. It has structure. It reminded me of Dad’s younger days farming his family’s land, his love of sports, and what I’ve heard about his methodically perfect way of doing projects (when he finally buckled down to do them). The frame just felt like “him”, or at least as much as my basic shy-of-4-year-old memory could ascertain.

It’s good to know he’ll be “around” for Hadley to know, even in his minute way.

Currently

Since it has been a rollercoaster week full of back-to-school, return-Hadley-to-Grandma’s, husband-starting-awesome-new-job, my brain is FRIED like those old egglicious drug PSAs in the 80s. Seriously, this is your brain on life.

But I still want to write and share and connect and, in essence, blog like usual.

What to do…what to do…

*light bulb*

HK


I tend not to take part in the “new topic every week” (or, God forbid, every DAY) linky parties. Don’t get me wrong. I love me a linky party as much as the next blogger. They’re totally like speed dating for bloggy friends! But, if you’re a regular reader, you know I have a hard time stickin’ with something. Case in point: The never-ending bathroom project. I’ll get there, just don’t put a timeline on it. I’m defiant, especially when defiance gives me an excuse to procrastinate. I’ve always been the “I’ll do it when I’m damn good and ready to do it and not a moment earlier” girl (my poor mother). Then, when I set my mind to it…I do it RIGHT. And in miniscule pieces at a time.

But, ANYhoo, the occasional “here’s a topic, aaaaand GO” post? I’m game. Here are this week’s topics….


(I heart Microsoft Publisher)


I’m growing the heck out of some man-eating tomato plants. I kid you not. The rest of the garden looks like the Land That Time Forgot (namely because *raises hand* I was a bad Garden Mama this summer…I was an awesome Hadley Mama, if that’s any consolation). But, I threw three cherry tomato plants into a little plot next to our front porch instead of flowers…y’know, to make better use. I’m SO one of those folks that would love to convert the front lawn into a garden full of medicinal herbs and heirloom what-nots, but this experiment taught me something about myself: I care a tad too much what the neighbors think. These plants have grown OVER, UNDER, AROUND and THROUGH the porch. Our. Poor. Mail carrier.

Irony? I hate tomatoes. What I hate even more? Picking…you guessed it…tomatoes. Especially when there are squishy ninja ones just waiting to pee tomato juice and guts all over my roaming hand. I want to throw up just thinking about it.

We’re buying shampoo (and have been for a little while now). Yep, I’m no longer ‘poo free, although I’d like to get back to it. I’m a tad more worried about the sheer number of grays popping through lately and whether or not there’s a more “natural” way to handle it. Oh, and especially with the Hadman back at his grandma/sitter, we’re buying the heck outta diapers. And food pouches. Just keepin’ it real. We’re consumers. Guilty ones, but consumers nonetheless.

I’m earning my keep again. READ: School’s back in session. This year, I’m really EARNING it, too. Next to no down-time in a day. But, it’s a job and I’m lucky.

We’re judging our finances. Seriously, we’ve made a Money Date (to take place during one or more baby naps this weekend) to analyze the crab cakes out of what we make and how we use it. I’m thinking of Dave Ramsey-ing our life a bit. And while we’re on the subject of “judging” – I’m judging myself for the fact that I technically do not use a black-and-white, set-in-stone budget. And I really, really need to. *hangs head in shame*

Dave is embracing his new job, and I’m embracing the “new Dave”…which looks a lot like the “old Dave” but with a huge weight off his shoulders. It’s a relief to me to see how well he’s responding to the new gig, and that it’s not a case of “the grass is always greener.” When the grass is half dead and overrun with weeds, anything’s an improvement. In this case, however, it’s truly a luscious field rife with long green grass and fragrant flowers. I don’t use this word much (and we don’t look at life in religious terms), but we are blessed. And you’d better believe we’re grateful. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the whole family. Peace.

And, as always, we’re embracing every single moment of Hadley-ness. As all babies tend to, he’s growing up so fast. The crisp fall air means a change from shorts to pants, and just seeing how long they make his legs appear…and the mini-sneakers he trots around in…holy crow, it’s insane. He’s a little boy. Sure, he’s still a toddler, at least, and isn’t very verbal (if at all), and gets needy here and there, but he’s SO not a baby anymore. Excuse me while I go sob into my pillow. Side note: Frost advisory tonight, but next week it’ll be warming up again. Hooray for toddler shorts again, just for a few more days!! Grasping at something I can’t hold.

So, that’s what I’m up to “currently”. Linkin’ up? You better believe it. Have a slaptastic weekend, folks!

Shout-out to Nekaro, whose blog I enjoy creeping…which is how I found this linky party. (I so invited myself. I’m a party crasher, but only on the interwebs. SO not brave enough for that in reality.)

Proud

Courtesy Corbis Images

I couldn’t be more ecstatic to announce here for all the world to see (all 3 of you who haven’t yet heard! ;-)) that my husband will be making a huge career shift from the wacky world o’ news to the calmer realm of P.R. in his new role in the SUNY Institute of Technology Public Affairs office tomorrow! It has been a roller coaster of emotions, from when he first considered applying, through the interview process, to his being offered and accepting the job and, finally, his last day at his previous job.

See, the emotions stem from several places. He moved his way up at the station from being the guy who posts stories to the web to the guy who assigns stories and works as the assistant news director to a full-blown anchor (mind you, while still wearing all of those other hats). As have a few others, I see that he has given not just the six very long years to the place, but he has had years shaved off the end of his life with the stress that has accrued. It has been challenging, to say the least, to watch the once vivacious man I knew beaten down into the ball of nerves and anxiety-driven ailments. It was time for him to recapture his life. I’m happy to say, as his final workday came and passed, the responsibilities that visibly weighed his shoulders melted away and his old self seems to be reemerging.

I know that there are some bittersweet aspects to this change for him and us, and more so for many who have known him in a “local celebrity” role (one which he has always been humbled by and kindly about, but that has messed a little with his mind; I imagine it would for anyone). As with everything else, he has dealt with this change with his head held high, proud of the work he has achieved and happy about the friends he made, yet unapologetic that he will now have a much less stressful day to contend with and easier hours with which to cherish life, his family (yay!), and his creative endeavors. Plus, the college is an incredible place to work, especially with its growing opportunities in fields that will make our area and America’s future brighter. It’s practically a dream come true after all the stress he’s endured. It’s well-deserved and was hard-won.

We realize that many folks will question this change. It brings us to discuss the meaning of “success” and recognize that this holds a different meaning for everyone. While he has been exceptionally proud of the work he has done (be it his coverage of the brewery fire – our first broken date, the first time that I realized I’d be up against many more disappointments that turned into opportunities for him, and would have to learn to deal with them – the shootings in “the valley”, his daily anchoring of the noon, or those countless forgettable spots or middle-of-the-night runs to get a tornado, flood, blizzard or fire covered), being on television does not equate success.

One’s pride in one’s work and the ability to enjoy a work-life balance is what means the most to us. To others, just the idea of being on TV for thousands to see is success. There is not one right or wrong way to live life, and to each his own. 

We know that it will be a tough transition and don’t expect all of our worldly problems to be answered by the change. (Nothing’s that perfect!) But, I can’t wait to see the work he’s able to do here, with the luxury of TIME to perform it properly. The wonderful thing about enduring a high-stress situation is that the simple things seem so much sweeter.

He’s already appreciating that he’ll be getting an actual daily lunch (like, taking time away from work to…y’know…eat), and, although it’s a basement area, he’ll have his own office – he’s chomping at the bit to have his own phone, to decorate, and to close the door if he needs some privacy. Even a far-off parking spot gives him happiness that he’ll get to walk on the beautiful campus everyday.

But, the biggest amenity is his time. We are beyond lucky for all the extra time (including the time he’s not busy worrying about work) that we, as a family, will get to spend with our Dorky Daddy. He was already the best father I’ve ever seen; now where only his heart was, his mind and actions will be. And all the creative ideas, be they general writing, film or theater, can now have time to percolate and find their way to reality. I’m so excited for him! Can’t you tell?

Let me just take the opportunity to say, above all else…I’m still his biggest fan. 🙂 Signing off.