A beacon of (somewhat recognizable) light in this dark month...
Lest I be the only blogger who hadn't complained about January: I am sick of this!
*David woke up from nap today with a new fever - he's been fussy and uncomfortable and pitiful. So far that's the only symptom, but that cancels at least 2/3's of our plans for the weekend. And this will be the third weekend in a row we haven't been able to go to church because one or both of the kids has fevers.
*The kids are dying to go outside, but temps in the teens aren't conducive to that. And when we're constantly sick, the indoor playgrounds aren't an option either (maybe that's what keeps getting us sick in the first place?)
*We thought our home remedies had gotten rid of our skunk-under-the-porch problem, as we hadn't smelled it since October. But this week the scent has popped up here and there. Then last night, all the sudden, our house reeked so badly of skunk that our eyes were watering and it was almost unbearable. There was nothing we could do - open the windows and let the stench in even more? In 5 degree weather? Brian looked it up and apparently skunks come out from their winter slumber and empty their scent glands (is this true, Erin?). Lovely. The smell is almost gone today, but we're going to have to decide how and when we're addressing this problem...the expensive way.
*Actually, this is a good thing: Brian finally convinced me to spend the extra money each month and get a DVR. Ironically, I've been recording like crazy and he has barely touched it. But it's so convenient for the kids' shows, and with all the sickness lately that has come in quite handy. And it's nice that when I get a rare moment to sit and just relax, I can have shows that I'm interested in watching at my fingertips. And I'm able to enjoy Letterman for the first time since college. This is definitely worth it.
So I thought I had a good plan for getting through the winter with lots of scheduled activities, but when you can't go to them because you're sick, it doesn't help much. And I suppose that as soon as we get well and go back to the activities, we'll catch something else. It's the plight of families with preschool-aged children. *sigh* We'll get through it. Here's dreaming of spring.
My head is spinning from this afternoon's events...
First of all, the ultrasound showed a healthy baby with everything in the right proportions and placements. Huge THANKS for that. The baby was moving and kicking like crazy - serious acrobatics. We got to see some neat angles where various parts of the body were pretty clear. It's amazing how much they look like full-fledged babies at a great big 14 ounces.
Within 30 seconds of starting the ultrasound, the baby was kicking the little legs around, and all the sudden all three of us went, "WOAH!" We were quite certain that this baby is a BOY. We didn't need the doctor to point THAT out to us. She said, "Well that was easy."
I don't know WHY, but I'm a little bit shocked. I have no idea where it comes from, but I am always certain I'm having a girl. What the heck?!?
And even though for the past several years, I've thought of myself as a girl-mom, now I'm going to have TWO BOYS?!?! I just don't know what to do with two boys. Two. boys.
So after catching my breath (oh, and stopping at CVS to fill a prescription for my sinus infection - urgh), we came home to show Katy. She was mesmerized by the pictures and asked to see them again. We said, "Can you tell from the pictures if it's a boy or a girl?" and she said, "Hmmm...let me see if the it has hair or no hair...I don't see any hair, so it must be a boy!" Yes!
She seemed happy (never mentioned disappointment about no sister), and we decided to let her call the grandparents to let them know. It was so much fun. She's been doing so great on the phone lately and it was so much fun to listen to. She kept saying, "I have some very exciting news. I'm having a new baby coming out. But not until after my birthday. It's a boy baby. His name is Jackie. (?)"
At one point after she had said that several times, she said, "Everyone keeps laughing at 'Jackie.'" Which made us laugh harder. It was so hysterical.
Speaking of names, neither of us has any one single name for a boy that we can even mention that we know we like. It's like we don't know any men or something. Coming up totally blank. So dig out the baby name books...
So I'm relieved, surprised, and a bit overwhelmed by it all. Once the doctor left the room, Brian said, "Does this mean you're going to want another one?" Ummm....
(BTW, this is not where I announce what the gender IS - that's tomorrow. This is just a reflection.)
It's funny, but I've noticed that when you have a girl and a boy, and are expecting a third, people often say, "So I guess you don't care whether it's a girl or a boy?"
And I'm sure there's a different vibe, say, if you have two boys, and perhaps you're really hoping for a girl, or vice versa. But if you know me, you know that I have been over-analyzing the impact of gender #3 for months (or, *ahem*, years). So I thought I'd share a list of my thoughts regarding the gender of this baby.
If the baby is a BOY...
*He and David will be close in age, and thus hopefully close in relationship, playing well together, and perhaps sharing a bedroom in the future (more on this later). There's something cute about 2 boys.
*But our neighbors have 2 boys close in age and then a girl, and the girl is always playing by herself, and I feel badly for her.
*David has been such a joy. He's a happy kid, fairly laid back in personality, a decent sleeper, and a good eater. If he is any indication of what raising a boy is like, I'll gladly have another, thank you. (Yes, I do realize that I cannot assume all boys will be like David.)
*When the kids are older and you do the whole "dad takes boys" and "mom takes girls" thing - a boy would put more in Brian's court. (For example, Father-Son camping trip practically empties the house)
*I'll be surprised AGAIN, because I'm pretty much convinced that it's a girl, just like I was last time. (But actually, after being surprised last time, I'm more hesitant to be convinced.)
If the baby is a GIRL...
*I still feel slightly more confident in the girl arena...just based on sisters, nieces, and general life experience.
*I love having a sister, there is something so special about sisters. I'd love that experience for Katy.
*Might not be as ideal for room sharing, since Katy and baby girl would be farther apart in age. But definitely still a possibility.
*I have this perception that girls fight with each other like cats and dogs, especially when they get to middle school and beyond.
*From a functional perspective (with 3 nieces and an oldest girl), we just have more hand me downs for girls.
*This may be hard to explain, but I'm wondering if a girl would bring a more cohesive feeling to the kids, since the boy is in the middle, rather than 2 boys close together and one girl. Does that make sense or is it crazy?
But of course, either way, whatever we find out, we'll be excited. Girls and boys are both delightful for different reasons. Brian says he sincerely "doesn't care." That's just not my style. I always have a few thoughts to share.
I was in such a good mood this morning. We were all starting to feel better, finally. I could breathe through my nose, fevers were gone, and I was looking forward to a week of activity outside of these four walls.
Also, after a particularly emotional night on Friday, I called the pharmacist again and decided to take David off the steroids. By Saturday, he was a completely different kid, and we were so relieved to have our sweet boy back (poor baby). Plus we thoroughly cleaned the house and did laundry yesterday, so this week felt like a clean slate. Welcome.
So I'm going to try to overlook the fact that I spent the afternoon in the urgent care getting a prescription for Katy's newly developed ear infection. And that I spent a good part of today comforting her and caring for her during the painful experience.
Because this is still a new week. The antibiotics are killing the bad guys in her ear as she sleeps, and this week is going to be good. It just IS.
After all...on Thursday we're (hopefully) going to find out what flavor of baby we're having. Katy's got it on her calendar. She also spent some time this weekend cutting pictures out of magazines of all the things we need to buy for the baby. And she's informed me that when the baby comes, she can take care of the new baby and I can take care of David. She said she knows how to change diapers, gives baths, and feed bottles. I'm thinking about taking her up on it.
And when we ask her if she wants a brother or a sister, she says, "God decides." Indeed He does, sweetheart.
This week has been a total bust. Gradually Katy, Brian and I have all come down with David's ailment. It's just a cold with a low grade fever, but it's enough to keep us home, inside, and miserable. Each day I keep hoping that we'll be well enough tomorrow to resume normal activities, but day by day, we've had to cancel the whole week.
At least the fever makes the decision easier. I always struggle with when to keep the kids home when they have plans for school, swimming lessons, playgroup, etc. Are they too snotty/coughy to go, etc? But when there's a fever involved, at least the decision is made for you: that's one rule that's black and white.
Also, they put David on an oral steroid for his wheezing, and within 24 hours I was calling the pharmacist to see how long he has to take it. The side effects are dramatic. He is so emotional, irrational, and miserable. Yesterday I was thinking, where in the world did my sweet boy go? He was screaming crying about every little thing, nothing made him happy, and he kept throwing himself on the floor sobbing. I know he's about to turn 2 and he's sick, but I'm completely convinced it's the 'Roids. The pharmacist didn't even ask why I was asking, he just said, "he's a wreck, isn't he?"
So it's fine, hopefully we'll be better by next week. I'm just ready to get these kids out of the house.
The Good News: It's not pneumonia or bronchitis. And we got a prescription that will hopefully help David on the road to recovery. And we're continuing with breathing treatments as we were.
The Bad News: David's reaction to his most recent respiratory virus is consistent with a diagnosis of asthma. I'm still not clear what officially puts the stamp on his chart that he has asthma, but the doctor assured me that it's "not severe enough at this point to require daily medication." Ummm...ok? That's good. Didn't know that was an option. But that's good.
So I'm still optimistic that this is mild and that he may still grow out of it, but gosh, it would sure be nice not to have to worry about full-blown asthma for the rest of his life. We'll see.
If I had a dollar for every time we uttered the phrase "This is crazy!" on Saturday during our Once a Month Cooking adventure, well, we could've gotten better take-out for lunch.
Overall, I'm happy with how the day went. I did enjoy the process, I made meals that I would never normally take the time to make, and we are now well stocked with dinners in the freezer that will last more than a month. My neighbor Sarah and I made the full menu for two families, and then I split my portion into meals big enough to feed my family of four. So at the end of the day, I had frozen about 40 meals - each to feed the four of us. About 8 of those are breakfast foods, and another 8 are lunch foods, but we will likely eat all of them for dinner. (I'm not above having egg sandwiches for dinner, are you?) And I'm so excited to eat some of the meals - BBQ chicken quesedillas, asian chicken salad pitas, enchilada casserole, etc.
HOWEVER. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the time and energy output! I had heard estimates of anywhere from 4-8 hours of child-free, focused cooking time, with a partner. We chopped the vegetables and cooked half the meat the night before in order to get a head start on the day. And STILL, it took us TEN HOURS on Saturday. I also suffer from sciatica when I'm pregnant, and it gets much worse when I'm on my feet for a long time. On Saturday evening, I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk or stand up straight. All in the name of cooking!
A collection of ingredients, and 24 pounds of cooked and chopped chicken! (And Katy on her way out the door for Daddy Day)
The crockpots got a workout - 34 pounds in 3 rounds.
How many times can you wash 2 stockpots in one day?
We did a happy dance every time we put something in the freezer - boo yah!
My kitchen freezer at the end of the night.
My basement freezer at the end of the night.
What I would do differently next time (if I ever get the nerve again!): *Read through all the recipes ahead of time (if you can't believe I didn't do that, yes, I'm that stupid!). *Be selective about the menu and perhaps cut out recipes that are tedious or require expensive ingredients. *Definitely do not plan a cooking day when I have a commitment with the 2 year olds at church at 7 that evening. Those poor 2 year olds didn't have much of a teacher last Saturday. *Plan ahead to see if I need to borrow some equipment, like extra crockpots or large stockpots.
I enjoyed the rest of our weekend. It was a good amount of productivity and relaxation. Today Brian had off work for MLK, and my Dad and Sue came and watched the kids so we could go out and have a date day (as opposed to a date night).
But David is still sick, and I'm worried about him. Unless he has a drastic improvement overnight, I'm taking him to the doctor tomorrow. His cough is getting worse, his fever comes and goes, and we've had to get out the nebulizer and give him a few breathing treatments. It's been going on for too many days with no improvement, so I want to get him checked out.
**After that New Year's post about cooking, I had a mental breakdown and then decided to do something about it. So tomorrow, I'm embarking on a huge cooking adventure. It's called Once a Month Cooking, and I'm sure many of you have heard of it. You make all your meals for a month in one day and freeze them. I'm doing a menu from another Ohio blog called Once a Month Mom. I pulled my neighbor in on it, and to say I'm intimidated would be an understatement. I've already spent hours preparing, and we haven't chopped a single vegetable.
**After speaking aloud the words "we've had a really healthy stretch since Thanksgiving," I got David up from his nap yesterday and discovered a low grade fever and cough. Sounds croup-ish. Within the hour, I also got an email from Katy's teacher saying that half of her class has the stomach flu. So I'm holding my breath and just praying that I'm able to cook the $60 of meat that's thawed in my fridge at this very moment.
**Last weekend, Brian, aka Hero Husband, cleaned out and organized the basement, which had accumulated every piece of "don't-know-what-to-do-with-it" since we moved in. It is incredible. It makes me smile every time I walk down the stairs. The kids can actually play down there, and in fact, they can ride bikes in a circle. So 8 months later, I officially feel Moved In.
**David watches TV now, FINALLY! Okay, I'm certainly not one to plop my toddler in front of the TV for hours on end, but prior to this month, he would not sit still for even 2 minutes to give me one tiny little break. It's nice to have him interested in something for 20 or 30 minutes so I can, you know, blog. :)
**I finally gave up on the dressing battle with Katy. The child will not wear pants. I don't want to fight it anymore. So yesterday, while she was at school, I perused the clearance racks and bought some more acceptable everyday dresses, skirts, and leggings. She was thrilled to try them all on when she got home and cut the tags out. She then carefully selected her favorite, and I asked her if she needed to go potty: no. Twenty minutes later, in her brand new outfit, "Mommy, I hadda assident." It was really hard not to be frustrated.
**After I discovered David's fever, I went to change his diaper and discovered a bright green mess, which caused a furrowed brow. My gut feeling was that it was nothing serious, but in conjunction with the fever, I decided to google it. I was reading along about bile and various items when someone mentioned food coloring. I tried to think if he had eaten anything unusual that day with unusual coloring. Aha! I googled "fruit loops and green poop." Bingo.
**As long as we're on the subject, Katy can poop on demand. It's the weirdest thing. We've still been having issues in this department, so when it's been a couple of days since we've seen any activity, I start to get nervous that we're going to have a problem. So no fewer than five times, Brian has said to her, "Katy, if you'll go make a poop in the potty, then we'll do XYZ." She immediately jumps up, runs to the bathroom, and deposits a huge poop into the toilet. Is that strange or what?
Me: Katy, would you like to hear some exciting news?
Katy: Yes!! What?
M: Guess what Mommy has in her belly?
K: A baby?
K: (in happy tone) Why did you get a baby in your belly?
M: Ummm...because I thought maybe you'd like to have a baby brother or a sister.
K: (pointing at David) But I already have a baby brother!
M: But wouldn't you like another one?
(long silent pause...Brian makes a comment about that being anti-climatic)
K: What time will the baby be born?
M: A long time from now...after your birthday.
K: What time did you get the baby in your belly?
M: (Brian and I exchange glances and smirks) Ummm...it was awhile ago, before Christmas.
(another long pause. Brian asks if she'd like a brother or a sister. First she says brother, and then gets wide eyed)
K: MOMMY!! Can you get a baby SISTER?
M: Well, maybe. Mommy and Daddy don't get to decide whether it's a brother or a sister. God decides and we are happy either way. We're going to find out which one in a couple weeks. (January 28th, if you'd like to count down with me)
Nothing makes you appreciate your vehicle more than taking it to the shop. Twice this week, I walked out to get in the van with two bundled children in tow only to realize that it wouldn't start. Since that's not an adventure that I like to have this time of year, the van is getting some much needed repairs, which has gotten me thinking about our cars and their quirks.
One of the situations that makes it possible for us to live on 1.25 incomes right now is that we haven't had a car payment since we've been married. Not that we're against car payments or won't have one in the future, but it worked out that way. I paid off my 2001 Toyota Corolla shortly before we were married, and then during our first year of marriage, when we had two incomes, we saved up and paid cash for our used 2002 Ford Windstar minivan. Both vehicles have over 100,000 miles on them now, but we're hoping, knock on wood, that they'll last us for a few more years.
We plan to drive both of these cars into the ground, so we've also had this philosophy during the life of these cars that leads to a few "quirks." As issues arise, we decide if it's something that we can live with. If we can, we don't fix it. If it's necessary to run the car, we do. If we were planning to sell these cars, we'd have to fix these things, but so far, we don't plan to.
So if I ever offer you a used Corolla, please note that:
*The "check engine" light is in a permanent state of "on." Oh, we took it in, and the diagnostic showed a $300 repair that would improve emissions slightly, but has no effect on how the vehicle runs. We chose to put up with the light.
*To unlock the door, you have to use the key, and it only works on the passenger door. It's a pain at first, but you get used to it.
*Mild hail damage. Seriously, I would have to point it out to you, and you'd have to look at just the right angle in just the right light to notice it.
If those things bother you, you might not be interested in my van, in which:
*The brake lights come on, and get stuck on, at will. Make sure you check that they aren't stuck on when you get out of the car, because it will drain the battery. (Actually this is getting fixed in the shop right now, because of my incidents this week)
*The washer fluid on the driver's side squirts the cars beside you, leaving nothing on your own windshield. This is a result of scraping the little plastic thing off during an ice storm last winter. (Okay, this one's getting fixed today, too)
*Matching rear panel dents that I like to call "dimples." One of them I found in a parking lot and have no idea how it happened. The other one...well...let's just say that I forgot that my Dad was parked behind me in my own driveway. The dimples make the van easy to spot in parking lots!
*Speaking of the dimples, one of the rear brake lights is cracked, too.
*Mild hail damage. Same as above. They were parked next to each other, since we didn't have a garage at the old place. (Yes, insurance covers hail damage. This situation worked out in our favor if we were willing to put up with the damage)
*The rear windshield wiper doesn't make enough contact to clear a visual field.
*About twice a year, you'll have to add some power stearing fluid. The leak is so slow! Just twice a year!
But despite all of these quirks, I was driving Brian to work in the Corolla today, and just feeling so thankful that we have two cars that run well, for now. That's more than a lot of families have, and putting up with these quirks has saved us some money for other things. Hopefully this doesn't come back to bite us down the road...for now I'm looking forward to getting my dinged-up, 8-year-old van back.
We had a bonus round of Christmas-after-New-Year's at my Dad's house this weekend. It's really nice to have everything spread out a bit to enjoy it longer. I mentioned to Katy today that we'll be taking down the Christmas tree, and she panicked, screaming, "No! We can't take down my tree! It's so pretty and I like it!" So that'll be fun.
Aunt Mel and almost-Uncle Aaron
Pics of the grandkids make the easiest gifts.
At dinner she was acting cranky, so I asked her to go take a break in "her" room. Then I found her like this. She was out for the night, after a short scream-fest waking up in an unfamiliar place.
Definitely the biggest hit of the weekend: starter kit for Thomas train set. The boy is in love. He's been pretty much in this position since we opened it on Saturday.
When he isn't playing with the cars themselves, he's looking at the "yearbook" (aka advetizement) that came with the set. I cracked up walking in and seeing him perched on the couch by himself, studying all the available trains, tracks, and accessories. Perfect marketing.
So this week it's back to the grind in the freezing cold and snow: preschool, Awana, swim lessons, and playgroup. I'm glad we have all these activities because otherwise it would be a looooong winter.
It's New Year's, and it seems like it's time to make a resolution or reflect or something. I really like the idea of resolutions, and I'm typically excited to make self-improvement goals, but right now I just feel too tired. Brian's been mentioning this week that we need to start eating better, and he's right. But I feel like I'm using all of my energy to get through the days, and I just don't know what to do to make changes.
Which brings me to the one thing which I would love to be able to improve this year: dinner. It's no surprise, I've talked about it a ton. It's the area of being a wife and mom where I receive the biggest FAIL. It seems so simple: just put a healthy and tasty meal on the table each evening. But nothing seems more insurmountable to me. I wasn't very good at it four years ago when we got married, and I'm worse now. Two kids and another pregnancy have only made it more difficult.
The biggest challenge to me about dinner is just deciding what to make. I just don't have a catalogue of recipes in my head, and every single day at some point I think with dread: oh gosh, WHAT are we going to eat tonight? I'm taking it one day at a time, which just isn't working.
So maybe what I need to do is menu plan. But the only thing that sounds more challenging than deciding what's for dinner tonight? Deciding what's for the dinner every night this week. And then I have to get out all the recipes and check our stock and make a grocery list accordingly? I know this is what many people do, but doesn't it take hours? Ugh, I just don't know how you do it.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'd really like to get better at this, but I just don't know how. And I lack the energy. Also, Brian is happy to do meal prep, but I'm still doing the shopping, so I would have to do the planning and that's really the biggest hurdle. Plus if we wait until he gets home from work to start the prep, we're eating later.
If you have any helpful advice, I'd love to hear it. Strategies, suggestions, how and when did you become competent at this task? (I'm assuming you are because I feel as though I don't know anyone else who struggles with this as much as I do. That sounds dramatic, so maybe it's an exaggeration)