Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The smell of cute toddler head pressed up under my nose. I've said it at least ten times in the past month. It still bears repeating, I think. The best thing ever. She crawled up in my arms tonight, with her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sliced banana, and ate her dinner before falling asleep in the curve of my arm clutching a sippy cup of milk. As long as I live I'll not get tired of that. It makes everything else worth it. If I have to go on full bedrest, if I have to step up the laying down flat to get the pressure down enough to stop the too-tight feeling in my face, I don't care. In a couple of months I'll have a toddler in one arm and a newborn in the other. A happy, healthy, (hopefully) fullterm infant. I'll need to have someone there to lift them off me or I'll be spending whole nights in the armchair with my babies. But would that really be such a bad thing apart from the stiff neck in the morning?

I can do this pregnancy. I really can. I can bring it to a good conclusion. It doesn't have to end in disaster and emergencies this time. I can succeed.
I need to get a new pair of sunglasses. My eyes go through so much out here, where you can't count on cloudy days with any regularity. Where the sun beats down hard and harsh for maybe 8 months at a time. Where it doesn't really rain. Ever.

After the baby is born I'll probably treat myself to these: Giorgio Armani 371/S. Or maybe even these.

I figure those, in addition to some new contact lenses, will help eliminate the smudges left by cute chubby baby fingers. Plus, I see better with the contacts. Curse this double astigmatism! Curse my lack of night vision! Yay for the new contacts and sunglass frame availability that make it seem less like I need thick coke bottle glasses just to see the fingers on the end of my hand.
I have seen the Pumpkin, and it was good...

Took the Toddler downtown to the halloween party-thing setup so we could all drop off the cake for the cakewalk (not sure how that is supposed to work... maybe it's a raffle of some sort?) Since I'm not supposed to be on my feet any more today -or really, probably, sitting upright- I won't get to go downtown for this. But it was nice to see the roses still blooming in courthouse square by the bastille. And the warm sun on our heads. And the moonbounces all being inflated.

We even got to go to the library and look at the fishtank and some new books!
So many times lawsuits (of the non-frivolous type) stall out or are pressured to come to a fast and non-fair settlement because the plaintiffs cannot afford to keep meeting the expenses that come along with it. Here's a new concept. Any Lawsuits loans. The company will give you the money to fight your case through to settlement, and you only repay the loan if you win. I think this is a good plan; too often you feel defeated before you even start to fight. When the true costs come to surface; filing fees for this and that, travel to the court, time off of work to do the paperwork, the meetings, the consults, the talks... where does it end? And if you are independently wealthy it's unlikely you'll be in this position to begin with. Which is why it's so important to meet those little costs with the least amount of stress as possible.

My Little Girl. Ain't she precious? I'm completely prejudiced, of course. But I think she's pretty cute.
Okay everybody, I'm open to suggestions. Aside from laying perfectly still on my side for hours on end, which isn't exactly feasible just now, what other techniques can I use to help relax and bring the pressure down?

This morning's reading was 153/114. Not good. So I'm open to suggestions. And yes, I'm going to lay down on my side in just a few minutes. For a while.

The Boy has been sent off. I've been to the pharmacy and refilled my sharps prescriptions for the diabetes. The Toddler was a very good girl while we waited patiently at the pharmacy. Everybody at the hospital windows were in costumes; the pharmacy tech was dressed like a big orange striped tiger. The OBGYN receptionist was a witch with a big black pointy hat.

More later. Please leave comments with suggestions; there may be a small prize to the person who can give me the method that will lower my pressure the most by the end of this week.
I am a firm believer in early intervention services, in emergency services, in peacekeeping services... these are all dangerous occupations from time to time (just ask a special ed teacher who deals with students who often need to be physically restrained for their own safety!) It's not easy- balancing your own safety with the safety of those you need to protect from themselves and each other. This is why you've got to have the right gear and make the most of your equipment budget. 5.11 Tactical Pants can be ordered in a variety of sizes and styles, all fitting milspec standards. Other products available include holsters, watches, and bulletproof vests.
I'm sitting here sipping a cup of Tahiti Tango. That's what the tea packet said, anyway. I take no responsibility for the naming of this tea. It is very delicious though; my favorite color of amber-red in the cup. I didn't even sweeten it, that's how calm I am this morning. Usually I sweeten my teas, this time I didn't. Calmness is a factor this morning because I'm going to drop my Boy off at the base terminal for a military transport to the other side of the country, where he's going to get on a Big Ship for the next 10-14 days. Or so.

It crossed my mind this morning that for the first time in over a year I needed to know emergency contact information for him. When he was ship-based this was not a huge issue. All I needed was the name of the ship, whether or not they were at sea. The naval hospital in Balboa was able to cope. If there was an actual emergency, that was all they needed to know. Now I've got a slew of civilian doctors without that ability, without the military framework to work within, and to be honest I have very little faith in his command to actually do anything in the speed with which I have been accustomed.

I do need to suck this up. It's not a big deal. I'm used to working solo over here; part time single parenting is no biggie. Part time single parenting while Serious Medical Issues are going on is no biggie either, really. I know that my Boy is with me in spirit if not flesh, that he has faith in my judgment, that he'll back me to the wall no matter what happens... I've just been out of the habit now of doing things all on my own for all over 3/4 of a year and it's hard to realize just how comfortably I slipped into that role. Now I've got to start slipping back out of it. While continuing to relax, de-stress, and keep my blood pressure under control.

This is going to be a fun ride.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

After what is jokingly referred to as a "good" night, I'm happy to say that the Toddler is back to her giggly happy self. This morning she's having so much fun running hither and yon, back and forth, up and down, clutching a pink ball in her hands. See? This is what happens if she listens to me and takes her nap/goes to sleep/closes her eyes and lets the sleeping happen. She wakes up, happy and refreshed and ready to go again.

I love it when she's this happy. Makes me happy too, no matter what else is going on. Those phone calls I'm supposed to make? Not making them. The shirt I'm supposed to update for the Boy's trip tomorrow? Will get done, likely not for a while yet, probably sometime this afternoon after he's home again. Pumpkin painting? That's on the list as well. I don't have a clue.

When will I have a clue? Next spring, maybe? Next spring is looking real good to me right about now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

With the deluge of offers for credit that comes at this time of year, it's a good thing that there are places prepared to offer the same sort of consumer friendly experience that often comes along with popular shopping sites. If you need bad credit loans they can be hard to find and you may find yourself tempted to take the first things you see because they may be the only things appearing in your mailbox. But that may not necessarily be the best option open to you... The company information points to a company that is concerned with providing the best information available, they take the time to try to match you with the solution that helps your situation. After all, it's in everyone's best interest to have these debts resolved!
Another day, another blogging moment. On the to-do list for today: get the pediatrician appt (reg) to discuss growth/development issues. Also sweettalk the doc into letting me have her assigned to the new baby. Because seeing one doc for both kids just has a certain appeal to me.

It's also becoming clear today that I need to get a move on getting the new car seat into the household by the end of November. Why? Because you never know when there's going to be a need for it. Most women could delay this until the 8th month... I feel like it's risking a lot to delay it until the 7th. How depressing is that?

I also need to start implementing my knitting/resting rhythms again. I woke up with a slight soreness in my entire left forearm again. Because I haven't been doing a lot of knitting lately and now I binged and now my arm hurts. I don't think I pulled anything, or overly strained it, but that doesn't really make the pain go away, right?
Have I mentioned that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to have your toddler decide that not only must she watch her Tubbies on your lap, but she needs to do this while curling her entire warm snuggly body into said lap. On a slightly chilly morning, warm toddler-head tucked up under my chin, this is about as close to heaven as I think I can come while still being a) vertical b) nauseous and c) exhausted.
I've been dreaming about plastic surgery for the past ten years. Or so. Right around the time that I blew out of all the pretty, inexpensive bras that easily fit into the budget. That also coincided with the first summer I got blood blisters from the bra straps themselves, when the back acne became uncontrolled due to my inability to reach all the necessary spots with cleansers, when I could no longer see my feet because my boobs were in the way.

Unlike a lot of women, I don't seem to dream about lipo to get rid of a belly, or thunder thighs. I just have one simple dream- to one day see my feet again. To no longer carry around twenty pounds attached to my chest. To buy a bra over-the-counter instead of over-the-Net-and-hope-it-fits. Plastic Surgery is never something to be taken lightly. (Hah! Get it? Lightly?) There are so many things to consider including cost.

Look for surgeons who are certified by the appropriate licensing boards. Get somebody who takes pride in their work, not just in how much they can charge you for and the swankiness of their offices. Don't let yourself be pressured. Spend a lot of time really thinking about the procedure- once you're seeing the surgeons and scheduling, events can move awfully fast. Plastic surgery is more like a marriage commitment than a one-night stand. What kind of complications are there? Can you talk to other patients who have had this procedure? And especially- look at why you want it done. Whether it's a nose job or a tummy tuck or in my case a reduction... is it ultimately to make you happier?

One day I'll see my feet again. One day I'll be dancing for joy as the weight comes off my shoulders for good. And on that day I may just post a picture or two of my new boobs.
Anybody else confused over the time changes? We had some of our clocks pushed back yesterday, making me resort to the old standby for time accuracy. The TV. More specifically, the tv guide channel. I figure that if they don't know what time it really is, there are bigger issues at play.

Sleep is an issue that has come up again around here. Nobody seems to be sleeping at the right hours- I'm not sleeping nights, the Boy sleeps the first half of the night, the Gram sleeps the second half of the night, and the Toddler? I have given up on knowing her sleep cycles although I know she's making a good effort at pretending to be asleep during the dark hours. This is at least a start. The Baby? I can lay at least part of the blame for my not-sleeping on him.

As we get ready to start a new week, a new day, I pause to reflect on these things. Would it be nice to have daylight savings time fall back yesterday and get a theoretical hour more of sleep? Yeah. If it meant I'd actually get sleep. Would it be nicer to have the sleep instead of an hour? Seriously. I'd do odd things for that right now- that's how exhausted I feel this morning.

Blood sugar levels? Great.
Blood pressure levels? Let's not go there.
Swelling in fingers and ankles? I can close my hands without too much trouble this morning, and my feet feel only slightly puffy. This is, as always, due to change without prior notice.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've got at least a hundred knitting patterns. For sweaters alone. I think.

It's hard to be sure because they're all over the family room, the library shelves, the pieces of paper jammed into drawers and various parts of the Stash. And I've even gone so far as to order the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern from Schoolhouse Press because it looked so cool when the Yarn Harlot posted about it (I don't remember when, but it was cool) And I don't remember the last time I used a pattern just the way it was meant to be used.

My current knitting/crochet pattern useage is more of a picking through the styles. Find a hem from one, a sleeve from another, a neck that fits the person it's intended for. Tweak the pattern as needed to get a pretty finish. Don't be afraid to start over. Don't be afraid to try something new. Who's going to know when I'm done, after all? Right now I've got a blue sweater on the start. I don't know where it's going, I just know that I wanted to start it so badly that I cast on with only the barest thought of what it's going to end up as.

Like a new adventure. Or going on a roadtrip with only a vague understanding of the detination. I could say the same thing about life. About this pregnancy. About the dreams that I'm starting to delicately hold in my mind for the new baby, his life and prospects and what he's going to become. I ask myself, am I ready for the challenge?

There's no way to be sure of the answer. I have to take this trip, like so many others, on faith. Except I can't rip anything out with life. I have to work my mistakes into the pattern of the greater whole and trust in God that I won't mess anything up too dramatically. I can't go back, I can only go forward. I guess that's one of the biggest leaps of faith ever put on this earth.
Moving around from apartment to apartment and house to house over the past few years has given me a real appreciation for the quality of the fixtures. It's been interesting to note that the cheaper rents don't always mean the cheaper fixtures. For example: the two cheapest places we've ever lived have had Delta Faucets. As far as it went, they worked better than the others. If I ever have the opportunity to makeover my kitchen just the way I want, I'd definately go with them again. And here is where all that renting comes in handy- I've gotten to field test a bunch of styles already! Isn't that a bright spot in my day? is a nice place to start when considering a kitchen makeover. They have shopping guides, style guides, and a lot of information that can help you navigate the Wide World of Kitchen Stuff. It's confusing; there is so much more out there than just a standard faucet. Actually, I don't even think they make a "standard" anymore. It's gotten more complicated than that with options- one handle or two. One knob or two. Sprayer? Diffuser? Little filter thingie that can deliver instant custom flavors to your drink? Who knows. These people do know, and they also offer coupon discounts for first time buyers.
I think I need one of these for dealing with my Boy lately. He's back to burying himself in gaming; it's like pulling teeth to get him off just to spend time with his family. Me? I don't even care so much for me this week. But the Toddler will crawl herself all over him to get his attention and it's sometimes painful to watch. Part of it is that she still doesn't use her words to ask for what she's wanting, and he's not getting it without an explicit request. And I'm feeling that what I want to scream is "get the fuck off the game and pay attention!" Which while attracting his attention would really cause a marital strife that I don't want to deal with when he's leaving Weds for a two week DET.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I keep thinking stuff.

Wow. That sounded even more inane typed out then it did in my head. Let's try it again...

I keep obsessing over stupid things. Things that make no bit of sense in any form. That I want above all else flavored creamer. But not just any flavored creamer. I want a flavor that has likely been discontinued by a company that's uber-expensive for my poor grocery budget that is suffering under my desires to eat all kinds of odd things. Chipped beef on toast. With oranges. And fishsticks. The thought of an actual vegetable on my plate appeals to me, but as soon as said plate appears under my nose I want to toss the whole thing aside and puke. The smell of broccoli, for example, which I normally love.

Went to the store this afternoon and expected it to be a bigger disaster than it was. Fortunately I only had so much cash in my pocket and had limited myself to only using that. It helps. Something else that helps? Library books. The library here in town has a Very Limited and Somewhat Poor collection. The catalog is hard for me to work with, and so I find myself walking the stacks with an open mind. It's wonderful to do that- I find so many more books and authors that I might never pick up otherwise. Good stuff. Happy stuff.

Takes my mind off the other stuff. Like the part where I'm on more bedrest than before, and this is going to be more strigently enforced in the upcoming week and a half, and I'm giving up more and more control of my life because I just cannot endure the thought of being forcibly hospitalized for my own good. Which may happen yet. And without the Net I may shrivel up and wither away into dust.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why are concrete garages a good idea? Well, aside from durability they're just so darn practical. Fireproof. Sturdy through windstorms and rainstorms and snowstorms. Insectproof. You're not likely to find a termite problem in concrete walls, and it's harder for vermin to burrow their ways into it. Honestly, if I were to build a house in southern california right now I'd seriously consider making the whole darn thing out of concrete. It's not like you are stuck with cinderblock construction, for one thing. The nature of concrete makes it extremely easy to mold into a vision of your own. The sky is the limit. Henry Mercer did it in Bucks County, Pennsylvania... his museum and home stand today as a shining example of what can be done with concrete. To celebrate finishing the house he hauled up a bunch of wood and set a bonfire on the roof- all the neighbors who thought he was crazy for doing it had to admit that the house would not be burned out by normal methods; and fire in the remote countryside was a horrible prospect. Prefab Garage is a good way to keep your property safe. It will be a good investment of time and effort, easy to care for, and it might even outlive the house you stand it next to.
So here we are again... can you just hear the dramatic music playing softly in the background? Mexican bakery trucks, four different ice cream trucks, two small children next door, and the hum of my fridge. Maybe not so dramatic. Certainly better to my ears than the window-rattling sounds of the spanish/latino/something or other that comes from the garage across the street on randomly chosen evenings. If they'd turn it down some maybe I'd know what it was. Maybe I'd even like it. But if anything is played at that level I feel that I have the constitutionally-given right to retaliate. Possibly with Elmo's World. At an equally loud level, until they get the hint.

See? I can so be calm. I've laid down for two hours, my head is no longer swimming with exhaustion, and I finished a library book. The Toddler sleeps. Or she's just cleverly biding her time and pretending to sleep. Without opening the door I can't tell, but I'm not quite brave enough at the moment to check. I'm planning on locking myself up this evening/coming weekend and writing a bunch of new stuff to help make this blog more readable and less ad-able; and I've got to confess that this past month the income has Seriously helped to the Goldfish Cracker Fund. So now all you need to do is read along with events here and nod your heads and maybe pat me on the head with a comment or two to let me know that I'm not blogging my fingers off in vain.

Tonight I am going to have to dust off my bp machine and start logging it. Do I get a prize if I can keep my numbers within a ludicrously near-normal range?
Many years ago a nice company across the pond set up shop to make life easier for plumbers. They specialized in training. Specifically, getting people who want to be plumbers or improve their skills together with those organizations that can provide gainful employment. This is near and dear to me, especially as the Toddler enters a new phase of her life: potty-training. (and where else in your life will you need a plumber as badly as you will if the child decides to really test out what can and can't be given to the pipes??)

Also, my great-uncles and great-grandfather were plumbers. It runs in the family, sort of. This happy little firm has recently started offering training in sales for plumbers- to help them make the most of their skills and businesses. Marketing is important in this society to stay competitive and to help your business get the most exposure it can. Sales Training is a great way to accomplish that mission. After all- who are you going to call?
I've narrowly escaped the triage room this morning. By the skin of my teeth, I suspect, and it was a scary moment. My blood pressure upon arrival in the vital-taking room was 148/101. Yes, it came down. 130-something over 82. Which made the doctor more happy and willing to let me get in the car and drive home, with reservations. This on top of the swelling in my fingers and my feet. On top of the cold sweats that I'm getting damn near every night now. On top of being chronically exhausted.

Makes me scared. Makes me stubborn. Makes me wonder at which point I listen to the doctors and at which point I'm prepared to ignore them... would I have actually gone to triage, ordered to or not this morning?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For all my reservations about the instant loan business, I have to say that nowadays it's not all loan sharking. Secured Home Loans are a fast way to tap into the equity of your home (and since it's equity, you should be able to pay back the loan without serious hardship or ulcers). Some of the customer reviews on this site mention that they assign one person to deal with you for the duration of your loan; I can't begin to emphasize how wonderful that would be. One person. Only one person, who returns your calls and emails, minimizing the amount of miscommunication that can happen over the course of the process. Those miscommunications do nothing to ease the situation. All it does is raise blood pressure, which goes squarely against my own current doctor-mandated philosophy of Relax! (Are you relaxed yet?)

On a purely asthetic note, this looked like a very relaxing website. Nice colors, easy navigation... easy on the eyes as well as fairly well written. One of my biggest turnoffs on websites is the sheer number of them that do not use proper grammar. Hate that. If I have to work to understand what you're trying to say, that makes me not ever read you again and certainly not refer you to anyone I know. Except the pesky people who ring the doorbell and wake up sleeping toddlers.
Along with everything else this week I worry (still) about this pregnancy. I want this baby. I do. I am totally out of my mind to be doing this, given everything we faced last time and everything we're likely to face going forward from here, and I still want this baby. On the plus side of the ledger the OB says that he's about 1 pound now. That's a good thing, isn't it? A very good thing. I'm not so worried about my blood pressure or my blood sugar as I am that he's going to stop growing like his sister did.

The doctor asked me if they had decided what caused the Toddler's prematurity. My mom insists that it was the diabetes and the preeclampsia. Well, yes, but not quite. It is far more accurate to say that the Toddler came when she did because she stopped growing. She hadn't gained a speck in two weeks and my doctor at the time said that she was going to be born sooner rather than later because of that. What do I think? She grew to the limits of her environment. The radiation treatments screwed that area up like the chemo did the rest of me. I can't say with any more surety than that. All I can say for sure is that she's here, she was incredibly tiny, and that I'll count myself lucky to keep this next baby growing as much as possible for as long as possible.

Next year. Right? Next year I'll be having this baby. Not before that.
It's just so hard to eat well these days. The glucose monitoring I'm doing means that 4 times a day I get instant feedback on what I've eaten and what it's doing to my body. Ever wonder just what those fries can do? A full-sugared soda? I now know what it does. Eep.

One day of eating on the run- lunch and dinner last night I couldn't believe the numbers I was seeing. They were sky-high, more than twice as long post-meal than I should have checked. Meaning that the actual numbers for reporting would have been just that much higher. I don't want to know. I refuse to let myself guess. Hands firmly over my ears, and I'm saying lalalalalla I'm not listening!
I want a real bed one of these days. An actual bedroom suite, with wood, probably oak, with dressers and nightstands and a bedframe. So far we've just made do- so many other things take priority in the budget. With the children, their furniture is also taking precedence. I don't know what or when we'll ever end up with to replace the second hand mattress on it's metal frame. Mind you, it's lasted very well over the past 5 years. Almost 6 years now. I was looking at Oak Beds this morning while drinking that all important first cup of tea and waiting for my insulin to warm up so I can take it. Something like this. Actually, this entire room seems nice from what I can see of it. Nice big windows, leafy green stuff outside, a clean and swept carpet to either side without the piles of Stuff that just seems to breed no matter what I do...

Doesn't that look all nice and refreshing? I bet I would have seriously reduced insomnia after sleeping in this bed. Either that or I'd never want to get out of the bed.
Inspired from “Tea Bliss” by Theresa Cheung (the list is a direct quote)

Commonsense Tips for Keeping your Cool:

1) look after yourself
2) Forget about being perfect
3) It's okay to say no
4) take action if you can
5) express yourself
6) work smarter, not longer
7) take time out
8) vary your routine
9) have a nice cup of tea

The last one makes me laugh. The Boy uses it as a default wife-soother. Not sure what to do? She shows moderate levels of stress that does not suggest a concrete solution? Make her a cup of tea. Tea will fix it. (The Toddler version of this, incidentally, is the poppy-sicle)

Oddly enough it does seem to work. When presented with a steaming cup of tea I stop and lift it to inhale the first fumes. My blood pressure drops a bit with the first sniff. Bonus points if it's a rich clear amber-red color. A big sigh ensues. Knees slide of their own accord into a chair- and the world becomes a friendly place again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last night I wrote about the Blackpool theme park. Today I ran across a Blackpool Hotel associated with them, which is just The Coolest Concept to me. They've got family suites, people. Not only does the hotel look wonderful and restful from their website (I love watching slideshows of hotels on the Net), but the family suite concept has a nice "standard" place for the adults to sleep as well as a separate child's section. I couldn't quite tell if that's in it's own room or just a separated alcove niche, but the child's part has two bunks with individual tv/dvd screens. No fighting over who gets to watch what. Plus mommy and daddy are able to maybe watch a grownup program like law and order, or CSI, or the news... It's a 4 star hotel. If I'm ever going to make the trip to go here in real life, across oceans and countries and continents, there's really no point in using a hotel with anything less than the best I can afford. Why not really make it a trip to never be forgotten? Why not create a memory that will last my lifetime?
I got the "Relax" lecture again yesterday at the doctor when my initial blood pressure measured in at 178/92. Do over! Several minutes of laying perfectly still on one side later and it dropped to a slightly less alarming level. So I got the lecture about how I need to relax, and not carry Toddlers up several flights of stairs (that's what set off the mini-contractions the other week). This combined with that same Toddler trying to singlehandedly demolish the entire ultrasound room paled in comparison with the sight of my unborn child mooning the camera.

This sort of thing leads me to wonder if, in five years, my children will both have taken fully after their parents and become the world's biggest smartasses. With a side helping of cute stubbornness. Last night I was tired, completely wiped out after toddler wrangling through the OB's office, even though my mom had the majority of that chore. When the bedtime insulin was administered I stuck myself in a spot that bled profusely. While holding a tissue to my leg to get the bleeding stopped, I lost whatever coordination I still possessed, and instead of running the needle shield back on the pointy end correctly I jammed it through the side of the shield and into my thumb. Good thing that they're sterile, one-use items, no? I'm feeling much more coordinated now. I guess there is definitely some sort of relationship between those two instances.

Still tired. Still exhausted. There is still one browning banana in the fridge. The Toddler continues her nap strike.
It's interesting to note that although there is a mortgage/lending crisis going on these days, the majority of traditionally financed mortgages are not coming into trouble or close scrutiny. Bad Credit Mortgages is a company in the UK that provides more of a traditional approach to people with less than perfect credit histories without going deep into that scary bubble. The key to finding a mortgage that works for you is to really be honest with yourself and your lender about your ability to afford it. Don't get sucked into hoping something is going to suddenly change and let you afford that 6 bedroom golf course resort. Just go with the reality of the situation.

Personally, I tend to feel that this is how a lot of mega debt situations get started. People want to believe in a miracle, they're not so much into the constant self-sacrifice of saving and denying themselves what they can see that everyone around them has. Doing that short term is pretty doable, but not always sustainable over the long term.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Relaxing, Part 1

One of the recurring themes of my first pregnancy was the admonition to RELAX! Are you relaxed? Why aren't you relaxing yet? That was due to the blood pressure, to it's constant creeping up no matter what I was doing. Like a good cup of tea, baby-growing is not a thing to be rushed. Every baby is unique. Every mother. Every leaf on a tea bush, carefully picked, processed, and blended. Every factor that goes into growing these things has it's impact no matter how small. Does the water boil for your tea or do you let it sit right to the edge of boiling before pulling back? Which brings the finer taste and flavor to your cup? Or to your life? If a pot of water boils away to nothing it hurts the pot and you are left with an empty cup. So relax. Don't try to take on too much.
I just made another couple doctor appts, and I'm daydreaming once again about running away from home. Trouble is, the places I'd normally go might be too easy for me to be found. Why not consider Theme Park UK as a destination? I'm sure the many rides will make it possible for me to escape the people demanding my time. They've got some of the biggest rides of world including the Pepsi Max Big One. As much as the Little Bit is enjoying his Daddy's driving these days, I'm sure that he would be all for this. I'd like the food. Unlimited cotton candy, yum. If you book online this month, you can get an unlimited ride wristband for twenty pounds. That's sounding pretty good to me.

Doesn't that look like fun? I think it does. Let the wind whip through my hair and just let it all hang out. This park was founded in 1896, which is certainly older than the parks near me, and it embraced the principle of making it possible for adults to feel like children again. I think we all have moments in our lives in which we need to relax and feel like kids again. I would love to get away from my responsibilities here- but I think I'll keep my running away limited to virtual vacations and daydreams. For now. Until the munchkins are old enough to both really enjoy the experience and come with their mama.
Random Thought:

An online calculator tells me that with our current plans, we can expect to pay $4500 over the next year for the new baby. This will work out to $375 a month, in addition to the Toddler's expenses as she transitions into a new world of IEP services, preschool, etc.

And people wonder why I've turned to paid blogging via payperpost to generate this income? Heck, I'll do whatever it takes. At least this is legal/ethical and a viable way to earn money from my computer while Toddler-wrangling. And gestating. And while doing housework, monitoring my blood sugar, and semi-bedrest.

As of today, all this paid blogging has brought in $300. As time passes, as my blog gets more traffic/site rank/whateverthehell they're looking for these days, I will earn more per post. It's not nothing. These days, one does what they can in so many ways to make the ends meet. This is going to work for us.
Preemies, preemies, preemies. Why is it that I woke up this morning with PREEMIES on the brain? I have no idea. Maybe it was the dream I had last night, about being presented with not one but two full-term chubby swaddled baby boys? This afternoon I'm seeing the OB again and let me tell you that I'm getting a reconfirmation that there is only ONE child in utero. Not that I'd turn down twins, or even triplets, but I do have a sense of my limitations and I have a feeling that multiple newborns would be a bit much for me to handle.

So I had a preemie. Great. She's doing fine, catching up, right about where she should be given all other factors in our lives together. Cool. The next question is: where do we go from now? Winter is creeping in again and on the preemie boards that I still follow the questions are being revived about holidays! Family getting together! Inlaws and Outlaws not understanding our preemie rules! Synagis! And much, much more but those are the winter standards as I see them. It's really insane to think about.

As much as a new parents wants to hide their newborn away in a plastic germ-free zone, it's pretty near impossible to acheive. It's hard enough to keep the well babies from catching colds. A sick infant is one of the most miserable and pathetic sights I've ever encountered- and I used to give baths to our cats. A wet long-haired cat is not a pretty sight either. But I digress... sick babies. As awful as it is to see your "healthy" baby being sick, how much worse is it when you've in the past few months seen your underweight child on a vent? Covered with tape to hold wires and tubing and sensor leads in place? Once you've seen your baby come off those machines, there is no way in hell a mother or father will want to see that again. Once you've seen them struggle to take every breath, the mechanics of the common cold scare you more than the prospect of a head-on collision. Comparatively speaking, locking yourself in the house with the newborn for the next year or so makes a lot of sense. Throwing yourself between them and anyone else who has not passed a complete physical, donned sterile gowns, and scrubbed the full 3 minutes with surgical soap? Not a problem.

When I faced these questions, I found an even deeper one for me. How much fear will I live with? How far will I protect my child, my preemie, my baby girl who was born into this life the same size as a Holly Hobbie doll and weighing less than a box of bisquick? While I did not go around exposing her all willy-nilly to risk factors, I refused to live my life in fear. We left the house. Not for heavily extended times, but we left the house.

Looking at the Toddler now, I know I don't want to have to go through those things agian with another preemie. I know I may not have a choice. I'm scared. I'm terrified. I'm getting out of bed every morning and thanking the Lord I'm still pregnant and "doing well".

Serenity, yes? Just keep going.
Infant and child brain development has started to really strike a new chord (again) over here. When babies get born, their brains are more or less ready to cope with the external stimuli around them. They've got a sucking reflex. They can multitask certain body functions- like eating, breathing, and keeping their heartrate steady. Preemies often get born before their brains are able to cope with even that seemingly simple task. This helps explain why so many of their parents are obsessed with weight gain.

What I'm thinking about this morning though is SID. Sensory Integration Disorder. Which is somewhere on the autism spectrum but like so many other disorders has a full range all it's own to play with. Symptoms can be totally dramatic, or not quite. The Toddler has a mild case of it. Which is a good thing to be aware of. We've been watching her for this ever since she came home from the NICU- SID is one of the more common afflictions of preemies, once they get a little older. Also to be considered is that I've shown signs of it here and there, scattered among all my other depressive/neurotic things. It's when you get so overwhelmed that your brain just seems to shut down. It's the child's tantrum when they have a serious meltdown due to overstimulation. With SID, it's not so much that they're overstimmed (though they are) as they cannot process anything, they forget what they do know -such as how to calm themselves- and they get scared on some deep level. Personally I think the scared portion comes into play later on as they realize that this is not the norm and that there is a way out if only they could find it.

It's heartbreaking to see that in my Toddler. She gets so upset and I can see in her face that she knows this doesn't have to be. She knows something's horribly wrong and can't remember how to fix it so she just cries and screams and thrashes around in my arms. I swaddle her up in a comfy blanket, not too thick or warm, but something without a lot of give. I make sure her legs and arms are swaddled tight up against her body. I hold her, and I apply gentle weight to those swaddled limbs, and I make quiet shooshing sounds. And eventually she will calm down.

I can only imagine what it would be like had not we been watching for these signs from the time she was born. If we had done less or nothing. If she was allowed to go unswaddled during these horrible meltdowns. With this swaddling technique her episodes grew less and less. Less awful. Less frequent. She can calm down and maybe rest a little and then she's off again with a smile from ear to ear; none the worse for wear but secure in the knowledge that Mama made it better.

I wonder if we're going to face the same issues in her little brother?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can I run away to Florida next week? Pretty please? I don't eat much, and I can travel light... that is, until the return trip. I might just be loaded down with all the rare books and antique knick-knacks. On the last Saturday of every month the shopping district of San Marco (St Augustine, FL) has a major event called Uptown Saturday Night. The participating shops have wine and snacks in a giant open house. There is live music. There is a street party atmosphere. Good times to be had by all. And free parking provided by the Mission of Nombre de Dios.

I swear, I want to run away for this. I keep threatening that one of these days I'll run away from home for a night or a weekend. When I was working I'd throw that up in the air every Friday afternoon- I'm running away from the office and I won't be back until Monday and you can't make me! Unfortunately this threat loses it's bite now that I'm a SAHM with a toddler and a bun-in-progress, and since my nearest and dearest know that I'm way too responsible to actually take off.

Still. The prospect of a giant street party with all my favorite things really makes my mouth water. Rare books, train tours, sightseeing. Antiques. Spanish treasures. Music and munchies. I could wander up and down the streets for the whole four hours it "officially" runs. But how much do you wager that some people start early? End late? St. Augustine shopping has never seemed more appealing to me! There is a focus right now on the next two dates- October 27th and November 24th. Why not pick up unique Christmas gifts for everyone on your lists? And did I actually almost forget to mention the art shows with great local artists, and the local authors? Book signings! Books! I can feel my blood pressure going into vacation mode just thinking about this.

Life is balance. The same as a really good cup of tea. A lot of people think of brewing tea from loose leaves as a lot of trouble, and why should they bother when it can be had in convenient little prepacked bags? Balance is the key. Find the right balance between tea and water, between giving of yourself to the world and taking back, and you may just discover that not only does your breath come easier but that life seems brighter.

Maslov's pyramid of needs shows that certain things follow from others- physical needs come at the bottom, spiritual needs fit in somewhere higher up. The top cannot be reached and fulfillment can't happen unless you take what you need from somewhere. That goes squarely against a lot of teaching about self-sacrifice. If you're in an airplane, you're supposed to put the O2 mask on yourself before assisting your small children... that's supposed to be a no-brainer. If you pass out from fumes or lack of oxygen, they have no help at all. We don't need more martyrs in this world. We need the cheerful givers. The people who stop and listen to others without offering advice or trying to fix it "their way". Listening is enough. Smiling is enough. Showing human consideration for someone. Wait patiently in line for your turn. Do not get frustrated with service personnel for things beyond your control. Return a shopping cart to the store instead of leaving it in the lot.

Balance in life. If everyone spent just five minutes doing something like that every day, wouldn't it help? The little things add up fairly fast. Doesn't have to be big to be effective. And the flip side is taking- taking with grace can be just as hard as giving with grace.
If the day ever comes when the Boy and I make the transition to homeowners, I'd really sorta like a new house from a modular home company, you know what I mean? I want to be able to live there for a year or more without any major problems, without hearing my family bitch and whine about how the previous residents screwed up this or that... and I could pick my own carpet and flooring. I was a lot younger when I first heard about how Sears and Roebuck started the mail-order home buying concept. It sounded so great then, and these days there are only more choices! Forget about trying to find the right floorplan in the right neighborhood with the right options. Just find a good spot and pick your dream house from a catalog. As far as I'm concerned that would be heaven. One of the great things about having a modular home is that even though it may seem cookie-cutter in it's "sameness", that very "sameness" will save some money in the longer haul. For starters, it meets codes and requirements. Want to build in some energy-saving features? Get them in from the beginning. Like a luxury car, you can have a luxury home. Underneath the bells and whistles you're still looking at the same frame. It's the add-ons that give it the unique touch.

And it would feel so wonderful to have our own home, under some sort of warranty, where everything works. Where the kitchen drawers do not fall apart in my hands. Where a garbage disposal actually works. Where the electricity remains a constant presence even in the evening hours. -more later, maybe, on our newest electric woes. I'm still waiting for the electric company to fix their billing screwup of last month, and I'm not holding my breath because I've got larger things to worry about right now. Like, oh, say the baby I'm gestating?

oooh. I'm holding my breath daydreaming of a beautiful new home with hardwood floors and a working kitchen and full electric at all hours. With a full finished basement that has become a playroom the length and breadth of the house. Where the kids can make as much noise as they want without trashing the upstairs.
There seems to be a lid situation brewing in my cupboard. I don't know how it started. Innocently enough, I guess. A travel mug promotion at a good coffee stop for the Boy, a mug I saw that I just couldn't live without when I was commuting. Some of his commands where he needed the mug for another purpose and then it came home to live with us.

By themselves, that's not a huge problem. The problem comes when you move so much. Box up, box down, box up and down and all around and you're staring at one box that seems just filled with lids. None of them have mates. Either the lid gets tossed or lost, or the mug dies. They'll never be in the same room again. I've got a drawer full of lids and maybe two of them fit mugs in the cupboard. While I love using the mugs as they are, there are circumstances that require lids. When you're stuck in bed. When you want to take a hot beverage in the car without spilling it over the gearshift. Or your lap.

I'm so tired of it. Tired of never finding a lid that fits when I need it to fit. But what, really, is the solution? Reattach lids as soon as they exit the dishwasher? I have a hard enough time getting that process to work smoothly, nevermind the extra step. Maybe I'll just give in, give the whole mess to the Salvation Army, and buy five or six new travel mugs at the dollar store. It seems wasteful to do that. But I would have lids that fit.
One big thing that seems to be going about the moms I run into here is real estate. Specifically, a bunch of them want to be certified and licensed to get into the business, on the hopes of spending a little more time with their families while earning a second income. Good luck to them. There's a piece of software on the market that may make it even easier for them to study for the mortgage broker exam, available at The service provides free demos, updates, and a guarantee of passing the test. After all, thinks I, if these are the same women who would not blink at paying hundreds (and thousands, eep!) on SAT preps for their children, they certainly would see a benefit in paying $59 for a prep to help them make those SAT preps possible!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Again I'm finding myself searching for balance in this motherhood/wifehood/pregnancy thing. It's a hard thing to find. The baby has started overwhelming me with movement. The Toddler, when she was in utero, never moved this vigorously. Or aggressively. To the point where I literally cannot sleep every other night. So I start every day on a sleep deficit that makes me wonder just when exactly was this news to me?

I knew on some level the insomnia would come up. That it is choosing to become a major issue in the same time frame that the Toddler is moving to her Big Girl Bed is not only inconvenient but damn near dangerous for those around me. Tonight I burst into big snotty sobbing tears a minute or so after I got in the house. The Boy sent me to my room to pull myself together again. It took most of the evening to accomplish.

What, precisely, am I going to do about all of this? I have no answers. I wish to hell I had the answers. Then I could write them down in my planner as a master checklist thing and that would fix my life. That would stop the anxieties, the worries, the sleepless nights and more sleepless days when I'm trying to drag through them in an effort to Be A Supermom.

Not even a Supermom. Just a mom who is capable of coping with life. I would totally love to see that happen this coming weekend.
When you go to new places it's important to know something about the area. That's why people are turning to for an inside scoop. You can submit reviews of your favorite and not so favorite spots as well as check out what other people have said. Get a more honest opinion than the one in the paid guidebooks/advertisements! You don't have to hang out in an area seeking the inside scoop if you can access this all online before making your traveling plans. In the UK, a trip to the local London bar or to London museums are only a few clicks away.
Your heart beats softly in the quiet
my hand presses down
cradle the life growing
keep safe
Do not fear the morning, the light
Bright in the chill, the fog over fields
Beginnings and promises
I don't know who you are yet
Laughter in your smile
Or how you'll wake from deep sleep
It's hard to tell
In the night when the house sleeps
We are learning one another
Kick and touch
lullaby and whisper your name to the moon
I'm falling in love with open eyes
It's hard to know exactly how I feel about credit cards at this point in the year. 0% purchase credit cards seem all well and good, but I've known too many people get into too much trouble to truly trust it. I think it gets handed out too freely to people who really can't afford to get stuck in it; college kids, young adults, high school students who don't even have an income of their own! And how will they learn to manage it responsibly without digging themselves into a deep hole? One card gets maxed out and past due, so they get another card to work with balance transfers, and before they know it they will need to work the next thirty years to pay it off.

And then on the flip side of that equation, there are the responsible ones who need a convenient safety net. They may be uber-responsible with their finances, pay full balances every month, never get over their heads. And when they need to replace their brakes, they can just put a piece of plastic on the counter and know that it's good. Online transactions are made marginally safer by using credit cards instead of giving out bank account info at every turn.

I don't know. Really. I could go either way on this issue. I guess it all depends on the person using the card, and unfortunately that's still not a criteria used in judging who gets offered a card in the first place.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Am I a slug or what? Last night I couldn't sleep, so today I made up for it. Kinda. Slept a few hours, completely oblivious to the world. And then it was afternoon, and time to eat again, and get the Toddler up, and go run a couple of errands on the way to get the Boy.

And I'm making lists in my head as I'm doing all of this: lists of what I'd like to have in the house when the baby comes, lists of what should come first as I scrape the money up for it- infant baby bucket car seat, crib, nursery stuff, diapers, a chest freezer and the food to fill it... I'm making these lists and I'm thinking to myself what are the chances that any of it will turn up in time? Lord only knows. But if the opportunity presents itself I should be ready for it, right? Right?

In about ten minutes I'm heading off to bed again, for another wonderful night of Not Really Sleeping. The baby is kicking, I presume, causing the most severe lower back pain I've felt that cannot be cured through careful stretching. It makes the region around my spine hurt. From the inside. My tummy feels tighter, which makes me happy, and it's getting easier and easier to give myself the injections.

The really nice thing about feeling so sucky today is that I am really feeling the support of my household. My mom is taking most of Toddler Care this week because I cannot summon the ability to move fast enough. My Boy is seeming concerned, telling me to sit down more often, get those feet up, doing what he can to take the load off so that I can sleep and rest and grow the baby BIG. Not too big though. Maybe all of 6 pounds big. Which is still plenty big when compared with the Toddler's beginning. I'm starting to get a sense for this new baby; learning moods and attitudes and pouts. Trying to fall in love with the munchkin now. I don't want to waste the time. I feel like I'm running low on time, and that's not a good feeling. I can't even explain it right other than how I just did. I'm running low on the time I'm able to spend with this baby in this fashion, and it scares me.

Stay put, little baby. Wait a while. It'll be worth it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What do you get for the Toddler who thinks she has everything? This is raising it's head again this morning because it was cold outside and thus I started thinking ahead to Christmas. And there's this fantasy running through my head that the house will be clean, that the family room will be cleared of junk and festooned with all sorts of glittery tinsel and evergreen, that the kitchen will smell constantly of cinnamon and spice instead of tough'n'tender cleaner...

I can do some of it. Not all of it. I can make smells happen, at least, with the aid of any number of great products (available for low, low prices at most retailers...) and I can get a few great gifts under the tree at Christmas time. Darn those toy catalogs that have started to appear in our mailbox, free of charge. I started lusting after the gigantic hardwood block set that I used to play with at doctor appts when I was a little girl- one of the catalogs had that set, with the expansion pieces, and the wooden shelf/cubby holes for storage.

If only I had a credit card. I'd get in so much trouble with it (sigh) so it's a good thing I don't have one. It's easier to stick with a budget when there's no easy credit to be had. Of course, that works both ways. If there's no easy credit card to pull out it makes it harder to squeeze pennies out for a gallon of over-priced but necessary milk towards the end of the pay period. What's up with the milk price? It's almost getting as painful as gas around here, and that's saying something. I've gotten used to the pinch at the pump. Do I need to be feeling the same pinch here at the supermarket? Later today my mission is to start writing that article/paper I have meaning to write. I just read a book that lends itself to a whole series of posts-as-commentary (should that be commentary-as-posts?) and I'm all excited about it. Finding the time, though, is likely to be a small challenge.
One thing I always had problems with was writing resumes and applications. They invariably want to know about you; your experiences, your qualifications, and they want this in your words. How do you find the words to accurately reflect all of this? How do you manage to separate yourself from what you want? While you don't want to inflate your good points, you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot either. There has been a recent upswing in this process towards hiring a coach to help you through the process. Coaches are available to write resumes, to hold your hand through your application to graduate programs, and the services of a good coach invested in your cause is well worth the price. The more prestigious the program, the more you really do face a challenge getting ahead of all the other candidates for those limited spaces. Law school being one of the toughest to get in. Law school admissions consulting is available from a graduate of Yale Law School; who better to help you succeed in getting into a good school than someone who's been there? He's jumped through the same hoops and is ready to help you do the same. Right now he's offering financial assistance in his service to those who most need it, as well as offering five free hours of help (after the first five hours, the free five start).

While some might think the hourly charge is a lot, compare it to the services offered. This guy will hold your hand (virtually) through this whole process. You don't have to bite your nails to the wrist alone, wondering if you could have phrased paragraph five in the third page better. He'll help you get through, he'll cover every part of the application process. You may have a list of qualifications and all the right stuff, but without knowing how to spin it you may end up on the bottom of the admissions slush pile. Don't let that happen to you! You've worked your butt off to get this far so invest wisely in the future by giving yourself the best opportunity to get into the best school suited for your talents.

Ever have the feeling that if you could just catch up on one more hour of sleep everything else would fall neatly into place? That's how I feel this morning. I fell asleep on the couch last night, and had no trouble sleeping through the night. All night, all the time. I also feel like my body has turned into a log. That's likely due to the Little Bit, not anything due to the exhaustion. Or the tiredness. Or the fatigue that wants to wrap my head in wool batting and tuck it in for a long winter hibernation.

Oops. Did I say that out loud? Mommies aren't supposed to admit to this. At least, not the mommies I want to emulate. While it's not feasible to live up to a Leave it to Beaver stereotype, wouldn't it be nice if we could acheive that without feeling that if we could only step into the tv screen we'd discover a pile of laundry shoved in a closet, or a mess of dirty dishes in the oven? It would make me feel more okay with the state of my own life, which this minute really isn't that out of control.

It's more that I'm wanting to go back to sleep, and there's a Toddler that just woke up and is looking for her breakfast.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Everybody needs a little help from time to time to make unexpected expenses go away. Car needs a new battery two days before payday? Why not think about a payday loan? Payday Loans can be a useful way to avoid bounced check fees from your bank, and as long as you have a bank statement/proof of income and ID, they're relatively easy to obtain. As always, remember that if you're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, this may not be a good long-term solution for your family. But every now and again you just find yourself a little short at the wrong time. No worries, it happens to all of us. These days there are many reputable businesses to help you out of a tight spot.
I guess the key to making it at all anymore is organization. This is a mama-hack, a habit of highly effective people, and something I strive for because if I let my guard down just one day everything else goes to heck in a handbasket and stays there for weeks. If not months.

FlyLady has been good at motivating me. I read through the emails about once a week and get warm fuzzy feelings that it is possible to turn my life around, that organization and a clean house does not have to wait until I'm 60 and the kids have flown the nest. And I can incorporate the smaller things easily enough. It's the larger routines that go to heck right now- between my not feeling well enough to move some afternoons, and specialist appts, and everything else that goes along with motherhood and toddlerhood.

But this morning I felt sort of productive. I guess. Getting a lot of stuff in order so that I can tackle the larger stuff, and work on getting "caught up". Does anyone ever get "caught up"? I find it doubtful. The kitchen got clean before I went to bed, which helped me be able to start the day on a more positive note. Paid some bills, working on getting caught up on the blogging, thinking harder about investing in that unique domain that will make it easier for me to pay a few more bills around here.

Oh yes. And working on getting some article ideas sketched out. That helps too. It's like having an emergency dinner in the freezer, having a blog post or two on ice for when I'm having a craptastic day and need a little extra push. So wish me luck and I'm going to make a bigger effort in the next week to get my marbles all back in the basket.
It's nice to find a complete search engine for online retailer's coupons. Coupon Codes save money and you don't even have to do a lot of work trying to find them. This site is updated daily, with merchants offering online coupons like these: Apple Store coupons and Old Navy coupons.
The site is simple enough to be used first thing in the morning; as a mother of a toddler who seems to be perpetually scatter-brained these days, this is a very important consideration for us. I enjoy not having to work for a bargain. More time to spend curled up with my Toddler reading! More time to cherish every precious second of her childhood.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hypoglycemic shock is also everything it's made out to be. I was blessed with a mother with hypoglycemia, and a long line of diabetics, and so this whole gestational/maybe-pre-existing diabetes is something of a "meh" moment for me. Of the umpteen complications I faced with this pregnancy, this comes under the category of "given".

So yesterday I shot the full amount of the quick acting insulin as instructed, ten minutes before eating dinner. And I tried extra hard to stay within the carb allowance. And I'm not sure what exactly happened in my body, but 30 minutes after eating my heart started pumping through my ribs and 90 seconds after that the room started graying and cold sweat poured through my body. "Ah", I thought to myself. "So this is what the full-on shock feels like. Let's make a note of it, and not do this again."

Since I keep my monitor kit ready to pop open for the next testing at all times, it was a snap to pull it out and check. Yep, the glucose read 55. No, 54. No, something sinking a bit below that. Off to my mom, who could quickly provide the needed sugars in the right quantities for bringing those numbers back up with what we had on hand. Which was, incidentally, black walnut ice cream with chocolate syrup. Not necessarily the recommended procedure, but given my condition it works. 15 minutes after consuming the sweats have cooled. 20 minutes later my heart has completely returned to normal. 60 minutes later my glucose was chillin' at a cool Normal Average Number.

Tonight I ate like a real person, and had a small helping of an actual dessert item. My post-dinner reading? Normal Average Number.

And tomorrow I'll call the doctor and report in on this. Oy. If I had not had all that family experience, I would have seriously freaked out. Thank God for family.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ow. When sitting down for a bloodtest, one of the last things you want to hear is "Where are your veins?" Let us be thankful that the tech waited until she found a vein before poking me. One poke, two tubes, and we're all happy people... except for location choice of that particular vein. The hand is not a great place to get poked.

Other than that the appt went pretty much as expected. Adding in a couple of insulin shots to the belly in addition to my nightly dose. Coming back in another week to see how the numbers are progressing. Because as the dietician pointed out in today's class, a woman wants to have a baby and then get to see the baby- not have the baby spend more time in the hospital in NICU. As I can personally attest, the NICU is everything it's cracked up to be. I do not want to do it again. Not this lifetime.

That's worth a little extra care now, right? Right? I think so.

And when the dietician told me that given all my other Things I really did need to consume 30g of carbs in my meals, I almost hugged her. I've been just so hungry all week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

So how do you feel about relaxing? It's pretty important, right? If you don't find a way to relax yourself you'll end up all hunched over your computer screen, tense and knotted with a big ol' migraine throbbing behind one or both eyes and that little vein bulging out on your temple. You know the one I mean. Personally, I call it the Mommy Vein.

My Toddler did NOT want her nap today. This is not a new thing; I've gone on about it at great length ever since she was born. Somewhere along the way I started giving the Boy a daily Nap Report. Instead of the noontime national news, I type little progress reports and shoot them over to his desk (many miles away, behind chainlink fences, beyond the security gates and their armed response teams...)

He wonders why I feel the need to do this.

I always thought it was obvious why I felt the need to do it. First of all, he's stuck at a desk working and thus "missing" most of the Toddler's daily activities. As his firstborn, he's naturally inquisitive about things like her first steps, her experiences with food and drink, the fine quality of both smells and substances that are daily extruded from her body. I figure the Nap Report is the most "clean" and semi-humorous part to include him on. Secondly, he's away so damn much of the time. That second point doesn't come into play as much these days. Shore duty is great for that. But sea duty? Every sixth night spent onboard, periodic Away-weeks/months/(gulp, years?) You don't just miss the day to day junk, you miss out on life. Life moves real fast for infants and toddlers. I always felt that if I included him as much as possible they weren't strangers to each other when he came home.

I'll admit to feeling a definite pride that when he returned from last year's deployment, my daughter did not mistake anyone else for her Daddy. There was a standard reacquainting period, but after that it was back to giggles and tickles again. Pretty quickly. And he knew what she looked like- quite different from the limp little baby he left that spring, sick with flu and miserable about it.

I make a point of working the relaxing bits into my life when possible. It's pointless to stress until I'm snapping at everyone and cranky at the Toddler and so wound up that as soon as she's in bed for the night I'm sitting alone too wired and upset to do anything but sit in a chair and stare at the wall. Today I was stressing and forgot to drink enough fluids. That ended in mild contractions for about an hour. I know they were, because they were so bleeping regular and consistent, just like I had around this time last pregnancy. And once I sat down and got the fluids back up they stopped. But it's sure another thing to stress over; one I don't exactly need this week.

I'm ready for good times again. So ready.

Stone massage has a certain interest for me. Warm stones, plus the massage techniques (and please, if you're doing this, go to either a professional or someone you love and trust). There's an interesting video clip that demonstrates a basic technique for doing this. The full video can be purchased here: The Art & Practice of Stone Massage - Video and includes a much more detailed explanation as well as history of the practice. It can be combined with Swedish massage as well as done with hot or cold stones- while I personally prefer the warmth, I know there are some that don't. There are different types of stones that can be used, edges, smooth ones, rounded. So many ways to relax! And this time of year as we move closer to holiday stresses and tensions, when will we find a better time to look into this?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm sitting here tonight feeling lost, overwhelmed, depressed, wishing I could start sobbing but then it would not end... and I'm surfing the Net looking for stuff to distract me from my lost life. I found this. It's worth a read. Beautiful. I don't know, maybe it makes me feel like all is not lost? I like that feeling.
I ran across this while browsing through the morning news online. It may require registration (free) but is in my opinion worth it. I agree with the sentiments- especially the ones about how our affiliations should be kept a bit more private than they currently are.

I may be one of the few military spouses around here who does not own either a yellow flag magnet, bumper stickers, mugs, sloganed diaper bags, or a commemorative license plate holder. I do own two tshirts proclaiming my love for my sailor and that being a navy wife is one of the hardest jobs in the navy, but that's it. And I've stopped wearing those out of the house, for the most part. I save my political expression (what little I feel like sharing) on the Net, and my religious expression for the privacy of my own prayers and worship. Personally, it means more to me that way. I don't feel any need to display it.
The Toddler likes to sleep in odd positions that make my neck hurt. In her crib she was often found lying with her head and upper body parallel with the side rails, but her entire lower half bent in an L-shape over and through the rails so they would hang down. Inevitably they would get stuck that way, leading to a massive wail when she woke to find her legs jammed in yet another unnatural position. It was my firm belief that the transition to toddler bed would stop this. That she would stop looking for ways to make my neck and back hurt, that she would either sleep on the bed or on the floor -depending on which way she ended up.

Last night in an effort to proof Mama wrong -and this seems to be the new pattern of our lives together- she fell asleep with her head and upper body on the pillow slightly to one side of the middle of the bed. The rest of her body was in an L-shape over the side of the mattress, her weight fully supported in sleep by her two perfectly dimpled legs.

That's right. She fell asleep standing up. Propped so that she would not fall, but standing up. It is to be noted that she was so exhausted that she didn't notice when I came in and rearranged her body so as to lay in a less painful position. And then she slept all night, waking at dawn to greet the rain falling softly on the slightly overgrown yard outside.
I do like contests. Especially the ones that get judged more or less by your peers instead of some anonymous search engine somewhere that doesn't really give a flying fig and can be "fooled" by various means. online game show is a pretty neat one- no spam coming out of it, sign ups are free, and the people who enter are the ones who ultimately get to judge who wins the prizes. Finally, you might win out of merit instead of sheer luck of the bots? What a concept. This site also has a place to share commentary on the contests, current events, "entertainment" (hollywood, paparazzi stuff, etc), and all the rest of it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What's on your iPod? It says a lot about you, like what reading matter you keep in the bathroom, or what book is shoved under your bed, or what is eventually unearthed from the scary depths of your purse. Your iPod is a private thing, or it should be. Your own personal musical life. Playlists, artists, podcasts. What sort of thing remains on there, no matter what else comes and goes?

Right now my iPod is filled with Blue Collar Comedy. With Engvall, Foxworthy, and the rest. I've still got a few (three) music albums on there. I have a whole list of News from Lake Woebegon. I have SModcast. What does this say about me?

I don't really care. The only person who knows what's on it is me. The only person who ever listens to it is me, because I'm not counting the passengers in my car that get inflicted with these things on a regular basis. I fall asleep with my iPod tucked neatly under my pillow, with one earbud feeding me sweet laughter and the other ear free to listen for the sounds that my family needs me. All I need. And what does that say about me as a person? That of all the songs I gravitate towards when I need to drown in pain and emotion, when my depression grabs me with steel hooks in the back of my brain and make it an almost impossible effort to put clean clothes on or brush my hair, I keep going back for the laughter. If you don't laugh in this life you'll cry. I've done my share of crying. I want to fill the coming years with laughter. Tears will always be there. Send in the clowns.

The time has never been better to drop expensive landlines run by the phone company. We've seen the market open up in the past ten years or so- you can get phone service bundled with cable, with internet, or drop it completely in favor of your cell. Why not consider Voip service for your home? VoIP Phone through the IConnectHere company has the lowest rates and highest customer service quality around. Not having to compromise on either of these points is a great feature. Right now they're offering a $30 signing bonus credit, plus all the features you have come to enjoy and expect from a traditional phone company. IConnectHere is affiliated with the deltathree group, which was one of the first companies to get into VoIP services.
Entering Day Three of the Headache. Also known as: who stuck this ice pick in my right eye? And: when will this thing stop hurting?

Could be worse. I remember it being worse than this. But this morning, right this second, I weep for the sleep that has eluded me all night. And for the searing pain behind my eye. And for the raw-ish stuffy sinuses.

This too shall pass. I'll post something witty and humorous later. Right now I've got a date with a pillow. And a blankie.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Am I ready finally for the transition to toddler bed? No. I'm still not ready. The Boy did the changeover this morning; the crib is now toddler-bed. In all it's glory. One rail was replaced by the two safety guards, and the Toddler can climb in and out with ease. I'm not ready for this. I wasn't ready when she came home from the hospital. I wasn't ready for her to give up the bottle. But I got through it; I survived the transition with the brave mama-face, and so it went...

This will be like the others. I never wanted to be the mama that held onto my child, crying at the door. I don't, as it happens, hover when she goes off into the new classroom or the new social setting- I make sure the adults are taking over and I wander off to my appointed place. But for this sort of thing, for this I'm just not emotionally ready. I don't know how to fix that. Maybe there's no way to know, no easy path, I just have to take everything as it happens. Maybe that's my answer.
Home security has been a big thing for me since, well, forever. At least since we lived in a little hole-in-the-wall in the bad parts of Baltimore. Since the one morning I woke up to find some "person" (and I use the term loosely) climbing in through my bedroom window. It took me a very long time to either feel secure or to sleep through the night after that.

There are so many common sense things you can do to keep your home secure -and to have that lovely feeling of being safe when you close your eyes. You can put up cameras. You can triple lock your windows and doors. More ideas can be found at Security Camera. One thing I used when the Boy was deployed last time was to take one of the Toddler's over-sensitive musical toys and prop it behind the front door. Anyone making an effort to get in would have to come through that. We lived on a second story at the time and that was another safety feature for me.

So many dangers in this world. So easy to go overboard and lock yourself in a bubble. I don't take unnecessary risks. I always lock the car and roll up the windows, and in the last place I lived despite parking under the motion activated light in the parking lot my car was stolen twice. It's been broken into in the past 5 years about 4 times. Not including those two fully-stolen times. Why is this? I don't know. But since I've owned the new Blue Car, nothing. No thefts, no changes in behavior. Who knows. I've only had one instance of home invasion though, and Lord Willing I will never face that again. We live in a better class of neighborhood since then.
It is not possible to literally waste away from being on a carb-restricted diet. I know this. I really do know this. So why is it that when I heard that I've got to go to no more than 15g of carbs per meal per day, my inner self shriveled up into the fetal position and wept?

I'm the person someone was thinking of when they came out with a tshirt that said "I heart Carbs". I'm the person that sits down with potato chips and pretzels, and hashbrowns, and bagels. Bring it. The more, the merrier. But if I ever want to see a glucose number below 150, this is what has got to happen.

Let me lay here and whimper, dreaming of danish and pastries of all kinds. Let me think fondly that at least they're not taking away my meat and cheese. Yet. Because while I might survive without the carbs, I know I would not survive without the other things that make life worthwhile.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Insulin is everything it's cracked up to be. Post-meeting with the endocrinologist, and I'm definately diabetic. It seems that a glucose number of 250 two hours post-meal is not a good thing. So I've been sent home with another huge brown bag of sharp stuff. Sure, I was a bit apprehensive about shooting up with the syringes... but the needles are superfine and it's a heck of a lot easier to put the medication into my body than it is to get blood out of my veins or hook up an iv line. I'm supposed to be injecting the insulin into the fleshy parts of my outer thigh. In other words, I reflected the other night when I couldn't sleep, into my rump. Which means, loosely, that I have to give these shots into my butt.

And somebody told me once that I couldn't find humor in Every situation...

So the glucose numbers are coming down, diets are getting more restrictive, and the insulin happens at bedtime every night. This morning post-breakfast I actually scored a real passing number. Not a marginally passing number, but an honest-to-God passing number. I guess it's the small victories that make it memorable for me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

It's been a while since I wrote about parenting my preemie in "adult terms" rather than in the neverending whine of "I'm tired, I'm tired, poor me". So why don't I put a few thoughts out there?

Two years, five months, and seven days ago, God gave me a baby girl who weighed in at a mere 1195 grams. That's not a lot. The machines that kept her alive were not only bigger than her, they were about twice as massive as the state of the art isolette that she lived in. We had to scrub our hands a minimum of three minutes with surgical soaps to be allowed to touch her for ten seconds through the ports on that isolette. There was a machine that breathed for her.

As a preemie with respiratory issues, she breathed very noisily. That was the trachea malasia, the soft spot on her windpipe. If there was a little congestion, if her nose was the least bit runny, you would have thought she had pneumonia and was ready to stop breathing. She was as floppy as any rag doll, but she was fully human, and there are so many bits and pieces that can be seriously injured or worse if let to bend into a way in which they were never meant to be. Forget being careful of the soft spot on her head- we were terrified that if we lifted her up to burp in too rough a manner we'd snap her neck like a twig and let the life out. That only lasted 6 months or so before she got as sturdy as a "normal" newborn.

Germs are the enemy. So is becoming a psychotic parent who puts their kid in a bubble. How in the world can you make a balance between keeping your fragile child a week out of ICU safe, without turning yourself crazy? How do you ensure that they get exposed to just the right set of germs to make them have healthy immune systems, without landing them back in ICU, without putting their lives at risk? How do give them a social life? How to keep yourself from going insane from the virtual bubble you have to live in?

It's hard. And after you work all that out, there are the runny noses, the colds, the coughs of your infant that make you second-guess every decision a thousand times. Every doctor, and you'll see dozens if not hundreds, has a different opinion for what is best. Most of the time they'll come into conflict with something else. If you're lucky, they won't conflict what you see as the real issue to be dealt with. You can't just schedule everybody when it's convenient for you, because this is not your convenience, this is your child's life. Miss an appt or miss a procedure and something else could be missed that will bite your butt later. So you see all those doctors, god knows where, packing up and packing out mountains of baby gear. Any wonder you get tired? This is on top of being a new mom, getting up for those feedings and changings, maintaining the medication schedule, the doctor schedule, recovering from childbirth... and if you're very lucky you'll have someone available to give you respite.

Not enough, people, to tell a preemie parent they need respite. It's one thing to hunt for a babysitter you'd feel alright leaving your kid with. It's another thing to find a babysitter willing to take on all the stuff a preemie entails. Meds? Nope. You might find someone willing to take the responsiblity for someone that tiny and floppy and fragile, but not meds, and machines? If your baby is on a monitor then you may as well forget going out ever. At the end of the day of caring for the child, there's very little energy left. Maybe enough to eat a decent meal and take a shower. There's not enough to then spend several hours finding people to care for your kid and arrange the interviews, then arrange the times, then go out somewhere.

So you save your strength for the next day. And the day after that. And one day you'll wake up and be able to cope with one more thing, one more chore, one more doctor into the mix.

Yes. I get tired. Less tired now than I was. I do not get so tired and overwhelmed anymore that I sit down and cannot find the strength to cry. I get tired of all those doctors, and all those specialists, and the medication that my kid doesn't want to swallow but MUST swallow so that she keeps getting bigger and brighter. Tired of the hyperviligence against germs and strangers. Tired of explaining to people that she's not just tiny or mentally retarded because she's two and a half and cannot do so many things that they expect of her at two and a half. I tell them that she was born 8 weeks early. She weighed around two and a half pounds. I don't know if they understand that any better. I hope they can connect that to the commercials showing micropreemies in isolettes, that they can realize just a fraction of what goes into raising a child from that plastic box to toddlerhood; I know that most of them do not. Just get a sitter, they say. Or just let her cry it out. Just sign her up for daycare a few days a week, or early preschool. Just make her potty train. Make her talk. Make her walk.

Well surrrrrrrrrrrre. You were planning on making the arrangements for this? You're sitting on the money to pay for these services? Because I love being told what I "should" do and being judged for not doing it when they don't see past the surface to everything else.

I wish I could speak for my husband's side on these matters as well. I won't. He faces a whole different slew of morons.
Whether you are a collector or an organizer, that garage can get pretty dark pretty fast when the lights go out. Don't let the shadows put you at risk- if you can't see where you put your feet you could be in danger of falling or something falling on you. Not fun. At the same time you don't have to pay a fortune for garage lighting. Find all your lighting solutions at Car Guy Garage, and tailor them to work for you. Have a bunch of lights spotlighting different areas and only use the ones you need. Have all the lights on and flood your workspace to let everyone have the same level of light. Make your garage the best on the block this autumn.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dinner tonight is thrown together. A box of crunchy taco, hamburger helper. A pack of imitation crab chunks. Some heat.

It sounds so good to me. It feels right. Now if only the Little Bit O' Boy will cooperate and let me enjoy this dinner? Please? With sugar and a cherry and a banana split on top?

Last night I was getting a PB&J sandwich and some banana chips out for the Toddler. She looks up at me, then over at the Hershey Syrup bottle sitting in the fridge. I felt like such a cad when I told her that she didn't need chocolate syrup on her banana chips.

At least, not without ice cream. And so that particular treat sensation will have to wait for another week.
As my wise mother once told me, you've got to have a bachelor's in something in order to survive in this world. If you don't want to be permanently relegated to "labor" or "unskilled", making barely more than minimum wage because that's all the market will cough up for your sweat, you've got to go to college.

Of course, the Boy didn't start college until this past semester. Has it affected our lives together? Sure. It was one factor that kept him in temp work until he enlisted. The military will do a good deal as far as higher education goes, but for the majority of young adults out there college is something that's really got to happen. And with the economy and social realities of life, that means that you've got to find student loans. Sure- you'll be paying those loans back for a while after you graduate. But the jobs you will get with those loans will enable you to survive and thrive. Private student loans are a wonderful option. They enable you more flexibility when it comes to finding the best terms and interest rates for your unique situation. Student loans are going to be responsible for paying the majority of your expenses while living on campus- even if you are able to supplement this with a second (or third) job. You may be able to cover living expenses that way, and possibly even your books. The tuition bill is usually the real shocker. Federal loans are also a possibility; I used a combination of both in order to maximize what I could get from the university I attended.

I have my degree. I may never use it for it's official primary purpose, but the education it provided was able to carry over to be highly effective in my chosen field. Besides... it was fun.
Tell me. Do you sometimes find yourself yearning back to the days when toddlers were real toddlers, when station wagons came in wood paneling, and when it was possible to buy a gallon of milk and have change left over from a five dollar bill?

I think I'm either loopy from the lack of sleep or having a serious nostalgia moment over here. Bear with me, if you will. No, not that sort of bear. The other sort, the sort that enables relationships to survive the end of the rose-tinted glasses. So I was at the store the other day and saw practically nothing in the entire child department that I would want on my daughter's body. Or near my daughter's body. I sent my Boy out to Target with all sorts of warnings- "don't let her come home looking like a hooker" I wanted to say. I've been telling him all about these things, how the hems are too short and the logos are just on the tamer side of sleazy, and how no 18month old child is "sexy thang". "Juicy", I'll give you. Especially the morning following a fruit binge. Somehow I think my interpretion of that slogan is different than the marketer's intent.

What is it with the fashion-marketing-sales people who order this crap up for the stores and try to foist it off on us? What is it that makes people wear spandex in ways in which is was never intended to be worn?

And the second half of my recent chagrin is that I stopped at a quick-e-mart on the way home the other night for some milk. Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I had sort of assumed that the standard gallon of milk price was pretty much fixed. It's one of those pantry staples, not subject to wild fluctuations like the prices per pound of beef and beer. I expect to pay more than the grocery store price when I shop at a quick-e-mart (no, I'm not naming the store). I do not expect to pay $4.99 for a gallon of milk that is sold next door in the grocery (when they're open for business) for $3.55. Is that not ridiculous?

We accuse Big Oil of price gouging. I guess it's not just gas that they're pushing prices up on. It's everything they can get their grubby little mitts on.
Another of my favorite things to do when I can't sleep is to figure out what I'll do with all the money I'll never win in the lottery. The first thing is to buy a house. And if I should be in a position to buy a house, I'd be very interested in an emortgage. It's really just a traditional one, only it's done online. So much of the waste and tons of paper can be eliminated; replaced by electronic processes. Not only will it make the mortgage easier to process, it will be safer for both the recipient and the poor admins who push all these papers around. I remember wading through dusty reams of paper in back offices, where my eyes itched and my nose ran from all those allergens being released. If I could have scanned through the files on a computer screen while sitting comfortably instead of hunched on my knees over a box?
From time to time I wonder what the Toddler is thinking. There was this morning's first adventure of getting behind my back to open the broiler so she could step up on it to reach the top burners and clatter them against the stove. And play with the knobs again. Then there was this morning's second, cuter adventure, which involved this happy scene:

She slips out into the family room while Mom's getting ready for the Walk to the Park.

About two seconds later she thrusts the door open to allow her exit, and I'm looking over the kitchen counter and see only the top half of the swiffer carpetflick parading at full attention past us- through the dining room, past the kitchen table, and right on out to make it's rounds through the rest of the house.

The Rogue Toddler was finally cornered, swiffering the inside of the shower. She laughs. Looks up at us with those wonderfully guileless eyes, and I fall in love with her all over again. These moments I realize that it doesn't matter that I've been awake for the majority of two days. That she's been awake since 0300 this morning (at least), that she skipped her nap yesterday and was awake for 16 hours straight, and that we're both of us not thinking so clearly. All that matters is that she's laughing and I'm laughing with her and the sun is shining outside at the balmy temperature of 80ish. A beautiful day that I get to share with her.

All that matters, really.
If you're like one of the many Americans out there exploring the lapband procedure, you should know that Woodlands Lap band is now available in the Houston, Conroe, Kingwood and The Woodlands region. Dr. Richard Collier has made the comfort of his patients a priority, in both his medical expertise and the facility. If the lap band procedure is the next step for you, please consider his practice for your needs; this is one of the many surgeries that can now be performed on an outpatient basis with minimal recovery and discomfort.
Today I reach new levels of patheticness.

Just saying.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Middle of the night wakeups. That's what's keeping me from moving the Toddler to a Big Girl Bed. Let's be honest, folks, it's not about the transitioning or about losing my baby girl. It's all about wanting to be able to have the security that she's still in her crib. Even if she wakes up playful or curious while I'm still trying to grab a little sleep. I want that security. I read about an experienced mom's battle with sleepy eyes and slumber parties a few minutes ago and found my comment on her site turning into a huge post thing for me, so I moved on over. -sorry for starting to get carried away, Lisa, but thanks so much for the spark of this post!-

Last night we had a wakeup. Toddler had a nightmare, I think. That seems so nasty to say, that I don't know if she's had a nightmare or why she was so upset, or any of that. This would be a direct result of her unwillingness to communicate. If she would use her words, I might know. If she would have been quiet enough to possible communicate with us last night I might have been better able to act appropriately. Instead I found myself doing what all mothers have done everywhere since the beginning of time. I held her in my arms and made little shushing noises until she was calm and asleep again. This was made easier by the way she clung, leech-like, to the left side of my body from thigh to neck, refusing to loosen the deathgrip until she was in her bed again.

We struggle with communication, still. I start thinking that we'll always be wondering about that. She doesn't tell us she's hungry or thirsty or needs to potty. She climbs bodily into our laps with her books, or thwaps us with them gently to get her way, only rarely deigning to use her words to request. We make as much as possible of her day about getting her to use the words. Books have become a battle. Toys are a battle. Staying dressed is a battle. I refuse to let food become a battle; both as a recovering eating disordered person and as a mother I get horrified at the thought of withholding food from my hungry daughter. I realize that if I got tough on that issue it would be a hard couple of days and then a breakthrough. I'd also know that I'd be letting/making her go hungry, and I will not abide that. It's one of my lines in the sand. "There, don't cross that line. I mean it. Don't cross it. Or? Or what? I don't know. But I'll draw another line. Don't cross that line."

Parenting is hard. No one promised a rose garden. It has sweet moments and hard moments and I don't know how or who balances those out. So far I'd have to say the sweetness overwhelms all hardness. That's the thing that gets me out of bed every day.