Monday, November 30, 2009


Punishment for a 4-day holiday break comes in this form - the nanny calling in sick, a busy work day with a cranky twin (who woke up too early) hanging on me, and a broken refrigerator (still not fixed - it'll be over 24 hours before the thing is working again, assuming the parts don't need to be ordered).

And I have to go into the office tomorrow morning on a normal WFH day. What a dreadful start to the week.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Moon Marble Company

It's probably not common to meet folks from Norway and England in one place in good ole Bonner Springs, Kansas, but it seems the Moon Marble Company gets some international acclaim.

I took Claire out for our first visit to the marble "factory" to watch how marbles are made and to pick out a bucket full of marbles to bring home (always good for the twins to choke on, you see). Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the marble making process, but I got a few of Claire in the marble store. Beyond the millions of marbles, the store also boasts a great selection of toys and games.

Claire found the marble making process, blow torch thingy and all, fascinating enough to request that we sit through a second round of the demonstration session. Here are our photos from this afternoon (those are marbles in those bins, not candy!) ...

... and now I'm wrapping up a 4-day weekend with house chores, a nice long shower, and a little television for the night. Personally, I think my sister's trip to St. Bart's still sounds just a little bit better than this, though I did enjoy our afternoon marble trip.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Should Have Been A Perfect Day

Today we enjoyed a spectacular 70-degree day in Kansas City - sunny and mild perfection. It should have been a perfect Saturday.

Except for the bronchitis diagnosis. For me. Which makes it clear that Claire's four weeks of coughing have probably left her in the same spot. Dragging three kids into a doctor's appointment for myself is never fun, but it was over quickly (and I tried to prove to the twins that mommy doesn't cry when the doctor checks her over). The tetanus shot I asked for will soon bring great arm soreness, but my biggest problem is the chest muscle pain from coughing too much the past couple weeks. I feel like someone kicked me in the ribs. It's very uncomfortable, particularly when coughing or straining. But all in all, I don't feel too bad other than the intense rib soreness.

So this time, the $20 copay was for me. Not wanting to get hit with another pediatric clinic $25 copay, I decided to treat Claire's symptoms in the same manner prescribed for me. I'll follow this regimen for a couple days, and if her coughing doesn't improve, then I will take her into the doctor.

Claire and Kyle finished the Christmas tree last night ...

... and Claire, the twins, and neighbor Ashley all had fun early this evening playing in the back yard together ...

... and yes, those are brooms they are using to "rake" the leaves. I am definitely sad to see Sunday come so quickly. This short work break has felt too short with Claire staying up too late each night (last night was 1am), no one catching up on sleep, and all the coughing and fatigue going on. And currently Kyle and Claire are complaining of a stomach ache so we could be in for a real ride now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Images

Just a paltry two images from the holiday here ... our very non-traditional ham dinner and Claire getting the tree prepped. We never got the tree decorated (at least by 9:30pm tonight as I post this), so those photos will have to come later. The good news is that the kids actually ate the dinner tonight, so ditching tradition seemed to go over well here.

Claire and I just got home from watching a light show - one of those shows where the lights are coordinated to the music - so the holiday mood actually seeped into my Scrooge self a bit. It's hard not to get excited when you see a kid's face light up like that.


It's my observation that family traditions are often guided by the oldest and youngest members of a family. With the "oldest" members of this family dispersed every Thanksgiving (both Kyle's and my parents find other things to do), and the youngest being, well, young ... and needy ... and picky about food ... it seems that tradition has gone by the wayside around here. Mostly.

If you find my Thanksgiving post from last year, you'll see that I spent an entire day single handedly cooking a fine Thanksgiving feast for my family of five. Only Kyle and I ate it. The effort was so wasted, and so under appreciated, that I decided this year to ditch all of it. So after a peanut butter sandwich and spaghettios lunch for all, I plan on slicing into our pre-cooked Christmas ham, making a few mashed potatoes and maybe some green beans (fresh, not a casserole), and warming up a few Dean & Deluca rolls for dinner tonight. The kids won't know the difference, and I will not have knocked myself out for nothing.

I did hold to one personal tradition, however, and that was to make my Great Aunt Sis' spaghetti sauce. Every Thanksgiving week, I pick a day to make the sauce, and then later turn it into lasagna. Tuesday of this week I slow cooked the sauce all afternoon, and yesterday I put in a half day's work at the office and spent the remainder of the afternoon lovingly preparing lasagna in my long-departed Great Aunt's honor. I was in heaven upon my first forkful (I put $20 worth of Gruyere cheese in there, so it better have been good!) and was quickly transported to more carefree days from my youth (if just for a brief moment). The kids, of course, ate none of it, but I didn't care - that's just more for me to eat. I trust that some day their taste buds will mature and they'll enjoy the lasagna too.

And now, Kyle and Claire are installing the Christmas tree (photos to be posted later), and I'm recovering from a horrid night with Molly. For reasons still unexplained, she had me up for five hours in the middle of the night last night. I am decidedly not thankful for that.

I am, however, thankful for my three little girls.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Science City at Union Station

Today I was determined to break from the routine, so Claire and I spent the afternoon at Science City in Kansas City's Union Station. It was our first trip to the science museum. From an adult's perspective, it can definitely be improved upon, but Claire really enjoyed it and we both benefited from the change of pace. Union Station itself is a gorgeous building and had a holiday theme going, so we were able to enjoy a toy train display, Christmas tree displays, and the food and snacks the station had to offer, along with the museum.

Although I missed seeing the twins most of today, I know it was best that they weren't with us - Science City is not for two year olds. Here are the photos from today ... this is Union Station ....

... this is just a small portion of the holiday train display ...

... and here's a photo of the inside of Science City ...

... and here's Claire making clouds ...

... and here's Claire watching real trains at the train station ...

... and now I'm looking forward to a short work week, especially because I finally got the kids' sicknesses and don't feel 100% myself! I guess the mommy immune system got shattered after all.

Friday, November 20, 2009


It wouldn't be a typical Friday if I didn't have some park photos to share. Molly is wearing Claire's sweater, hence the floor-length outfit in today's photos. We had our usual Waffle House lunch after Claire's hair cut and the twins are taking a marathon nap right now. Here's to another slow Friday work day!

A Shearing

Hair people always get it wrong when they cut long hair. If you tell them "cut three inches", they cut four or five, maybe thinking you have some to spare. I know this because I have long hair and it happens to me every time. So I should have known better than to tell the kids' hair lady to cut about four inches off Claire's hair. Instead, I believe the lady chopped about six inches, and Claire's hair is above her shoulders for the first time ever. I'm still in shock - she does not look like the same kid anymore. I am partial to long hair on little girls, so this will take some adjustment.

Molly and Lily thought the hair place was fantastic fun, so I'll include a couple photos of them enjoying the hair salon too. But mainly, I'm going to show off Claire's new haircut. She looks older!


Hi. My name is Molly. When I'm mad, or not getting my way, this is my weapon of choice:

I particularly like the reaction I get from my sisters when I pull their hair. Their screams give me great satisfaction. Mommy thinks I've become the Hair Pulling Bully.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Happy Birthday?

Today is my birthday. Today is also a reminder that once you have children, it's definitely not all about you anymore - even on your birthday.

My morning started at 5:45am to get ready for Lily's ear tube surgery. Fortunately for me, Kyle had agreed to let Molly sleep on him last night, so I wasn't awake with her all night too. Unfortunately for me, Claire woke me up for about an hour last night, so I was still a zombie at 5:45am.

Lily and I were at the hospital by 6:45am and home just before 9am. The procedure itself lasted 15 minutes. She was the best patient - she didn't cry, she didn't vomit from the anesthesia (something I was halfway expecting), and she didn't remain super cranky the rest of the day. She slept off the surgery effects this entire morning and then had a mostly normal day after that. I am overjoyed to think I just cut out half of our clinic visits and antibiotic doses, but I admit that right before the nurses came to get her I had a moment of doubt about the procedure. Ear tubes are a tough cost/benefit to weigh.

Once home, I had the nanny play with Molly and I also napped while Lily slept. It was incredible! I slept about an hour, but that was just enough to make me feel human again, and it's decidedly important to feel human on one's own birthday. Things seemed to be going well at home, so I had a quiet birthday lunch by myself at the Nordstrom Cafe and did a little birthday shopping too. This helped in making me feel even more human. After returning home, I had a couple hours of listening to Molly cry nearly non-stop, but was then able to leave that all at home again by dinner time. Claire and I had dinner with my dad at a nearby restaurant (thanks Papa) while Kyle fed the twins and got them to bed tonight - a rare break from the dinner/bedtime routine for me, and much needed because I'm burned out on kids after three weeks of sickness in our house.

Claire and Kyle bought me watches and socks and a cupcakes/cake combo. Claire gets so excited about birthdays. I am incredibly ambivalent about my own birthday - adult birthdays are quite anti-climactic, if you ask me - so I have to work hard at getting into the birthday mood for her sake. I envy her childish joy about turning a year older!

And now, at nearly 11pm, I hear Molly beginning to hack away, so it looks as though I'll be back on sick kid duty any minute now. Good night!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sick and Sleepless

I was, er, "blessed" with two kids who don't sleep well when they're ill. Lily remains our good sleeper, and other than some night stirrings when she's sick, you can generally get her to go back to sleep on her own (parents with kids like this don't know how lucky they are). Claire and Molly are the ones who demand parental attention. And both Claire and Molly as babies and toddlers think the best cure for feeling ill is to sleep on mom. Problem is, mom gets no sleep that way while child fitfully sleeps.

And that just about sums up my night last night. I'm running on fewer than four hours of sleep, a little shaky and a lot worse for the wear. And my own head cold has ramped up too. But I'm not allowed to notice that, now am I?

Unfortunately for me, tonight will follow the same pattern (Molly wanting to sleep on me, me getting no sleep) on a night when we are preparing for Lily's ear tube surgery tomorrow. Lily has to be at the hospital at 6:45am, so for the moment I've punted the hospital duty to Kyle because I know I can't do two nights of 3 1/2 hours of sleep and get Lily to the hospital on time tomorrow. I'm beat.

I took Molly (and Lily) to the doctor's office at 9:45am this morning. What she has is viral and there's nothing we can do to help her right now. Her rapid strep test came back negative despite a raw looking throat. But what I didn't like is that she had five days of fevers barely a week ago, and now she's on her fourth day of a fever this week. This morning at 6am I logged her at a 104.2-degree temp. Her skin was burning hot, and she was miserable. It's at those moments I feel most helpless as a mom. I couldn't help other than give her more Motrin and beg her to drink some Gatorade.

I was, however, able to help her at lunchtime today. I got the first test of my Heimlich maneuver skills which sent the adrenaline rushing. Molly was goofing around eating curly fries at Arby's and she tossed one into her mouth. Unfortunately for her, it lodged in her throat in the wrong way and she couldn't breathe or gag it up. I grabbed her, paused a half second to decide if I should yell for help (I didn't), turned her upside down and whacked her hard on the back. The offending piece of curly fry shot out of her mouth and she looked utterly stunned but didn't cry. The Arby's employees who see us every Tuesday rushed over to make sure she was OK and she smiled coyly. Yes, all was OK, and I momentarily forgot just how tired I was.

I beg again - could we return to uneventful days please?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick Duty

For some reason, no one accepted my resignation letter.

So I'm still on sick duty, listening to Claire hack away, and monitoring Molly's temperature. Molly's temp hit a peak of 103 degrees or higher tonight before I gave her a strong dose of Motrin before bed. Bless her heart, the kid is trying be playful, but it's hard when temperatures get that high.

I did go to work today, but after picking up Claire at preschool I spent some time with Molly over the lunch hour. I gave her Motrin and Gatorade and sat with her until I felt comfortable going back to work. At that time, her fever was about 102.7, but dropped to just over 100 with the Motrin which I knew would allow her some much-needed nap time.

Kyle is sick. I am sneezing like crazy, my nose is a little runny, but if I stay this "well" then I can't complain. What amazes me is my mommy immune system - it took me about three years of motherhood to get it, but thanks to being surrounded by kid germs, I get sick a relative few times compared to the kids and it's usually pretty mild (though the stomach virus always gets me). I hope the mommy immune system carries me through the next few days because I can't afford to get deathly ill and take care of three kids. Kyle tends to go to work and lend very little assistance even when I'm sick, so I hope I don't end up in that awful situation.

The one kid who isn't noticeably sick is Lily, and that's the good news. Her tubes are scheduled for Wednesday morning. She seems to be running about a 99-degree fever so that may call off the "surgery", but many doctors do not count anything under 100 as a fever for a child. We need her to stay well so the surgery can proceed.

And I need some relief from the kid cooties. I want happy, healthy children again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Resignation Letter

To whom it may concern:

Effective immediately, I resign my position of "Mother".

The child named "Molly" just spiked a 102-degree fever. Runny poops are occurring. In this recent "Mother" role, I have not had a break from kid sicknesses for three weeks. This should constitute some form of hazard pay, yet I am not receiving this. Instead, I've been receiving a large dose of crankiness, sleeplessness, and hassle, along with the financial drain of lots of co-pays to doctors.

I currently do not feel well suited to the role of "Mother" and plan to take a long vacation on a warm beach somewhere, taking care of only my needs. I am confident there are far more energetic, patient, and loving candidates you can locate for this role of "Mother".

I wish you and these children well in the future.


3 AM Visit

The sicknesses, and $25 co-pays, aren't stopping. My previous post mentioned Claire's non-stop coughing, so it may come as no surprise that we had an "incident" related to the coughing around 3am last night. Claire woke up coughing horribly (sounded like a barking dog) and wheezing so badly it sounded as if she could not get a full breath. She was panicky, and cried loudly enough to wake up Molly. I worked on her to stop crying and made her take deep breaths for me. She couldn't. She sounded like she was having a horrible asthma attack, yet none of my kids have asthma. I decided it was worth taking her into Children's Mercy Urgent Care which is open 24 hours a day.

By the time we arrived at Urgent Care, she seemed perfectly fine and I was feeling sheepish. However, the doctor was quickly able to tell me why she seemed fine. She has croup, and the cold night air had momentarily fixed it on the drive over. He gave her a dose of steroids to calm the inflamed vocal cords and told me that croup is viral and there's not a lot we can do but wait it out. It's possible the twins may get this also.

And on that note, Molly woke up too early this morning and her nose is slightly runny, so she's working on something new herself. It's never ending. I despise winter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Long Lunch And No Cook Fridays

I have determined that the "long lunch hour" (say, 11am-1:30pm) and "no cook" Friday (Waffle House for lunch, pizza or something else for dinner) is the happiest way to celebrate the end of the week. The kids also like the schedule, with the break from the house and standard routine being great for moods all around. Today we had the usual lunch (Molly even shouted "Waffle House!" in the car on the drive over, which is a first-time event for her) and played in another neighborhood park. I've recently been illegally crashing some other neighborhood parks (really, I am), but we treat the parks nicely and leave happy, so somehow it doesn't feel as wrong as it likely is. Here are today's photos of the girls playing at the park after lunch ....

... and the day closed with me taking the girls to dinner at Chili's (Molly despised it and wouldn't eat) and then out for frozen yogurt. Kyle, per his usual Friday schedule, got home too late to join us. The only bad part of the day came with another Lily poop smearing in her bed incident, which I'm still coming off the high of that clean-up event. I'm getting really tired of this game of hers, and we've seen a recent resurgence of this activity with even the nanny getting stuck with poop clean up twice lately. After about the fifth time, you can't help but wonder what the fascination is and why a child won't learn to stop herself when the punishment is so uncomfortable. Today I tried the cold shower approach - I read it on several parenting boards on the Internet, so I gave it a shot. Suffice it to say Lily did not enjoy the cold shower, but my guess is she'll still keep diaper diving anyways. I'm out of ideas and open to suggestions for stopping this disgusting behavior. And before you suggest this one, I'll note here that I did have a onesie on her. Problem is, that doesn't stop her. She prefers to snake her hand through the crotch/inner thigh area and dig around that way, and no onesie or duct tape or anything else seems capable of fixing this "gap".

And Claire, well, Claire won't stop coughing. And coughing. She's awake in the middle of the night coughing. Coughs all day. An irritating, dry cough. The cough had started to die down a little (after two weeks of the hacking) but it got immediately bad again after her flu mist the other day (I don't know if there's any correlation, but I did note the coincidence). I can't wait for the cough to disappear.

Tomorrow: Kyle is working, and the girls and I have no plans yet. I love a wide-open unplanned day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When "Well Child" Means Otherwise

It was supposed to be a simple well-child check up.

Instead, I got roped into four hours of doctor's offices today. But first, I had to leave a half-day, very important meeting at work after only attending two hours of it. I left early because I refused to reschedule Claire's 5-year check up over worries the doctor was facing a seasonal flu mist shortage. Boy did the doctor confirm my concerns there. The nurses looked in every cabinet of the doctor's office and found one last dose of the flu mist that was originally earmarked for a nurse's husband, but he didn't need it anymore. So it was given to us.

Problem is, Claire didn't get to take it. Apparently she has strep throat (hence the recent tantrums), and continues to run a mild fever, so the fever required the doctor to call off all vaccinations including her three shots and the flu mist. We did continue with the usual check up (80th percentile in height, 50th in weight), but my head was spinning - ah ha! This is the reason Lily has been so cranky. She's got strep too. Molly won't have it because she's on antibiotics for her ear infection, but Lily isn't protected. So Claire and I picked up her Amoxicillin at CVS and I promptly dropped her at the house and loaded Lily in the car for her strep test.

But here's the rub - Lily had just been to the after-hours clinic last night for an ear check because we thought her crankiness was attributable to another ear infection. Her ears looked great and the doctor sent us on our way without further checks. So I chose to return Lily to the same clinic at 4pm to argue the point of another $25 co-pay for the same kid in 24 hours. I lost the argument, and the clinic got its payment. If you're keeping count, we just shelled out $70 in co-pays within a 24-hour time period, and $10 in antibiotics cost, for Lily and Claire. In the last few weeks we have paid another $40 to the ENT specialist for Lily, $25 for Molly's ear infection diagnosis ($5 for the meds), and we'll pay $20 this Thursday for Claire to get her vaccinations. And then we pay a $150 co-pay to Children's Mercy Hospital next Wednesday for Lily's tubes, with bills from the various doctors to follow the procedure. Sick kids make us broke.

So we are taking up a collection, and the plate will be sitting on our doorstep. Contributions are welcome and requested.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Wonderful Weekend

I still have a job.

I also had a fantastic weekend. With weather in the 70s, I got the kids outdoors as much as possible. Saturday we went to two parks, out to lunch and dinner, and a colleague's country house for a Fall party. On a rare "to hell with our schedule" night (about a once a year thing for me), the kids and I didn't get back to the house until nearly 9:30pm last night so that we were able to enjoy s'mores over a fire and a long hayride that Claire and Molly thought was fantastic. We saw deer in the night and people night fishing on a lake, and Claire can't stop talking about it. Molly was even so enamored with the hayride she keeps asking for "more" today. Lily wasn't so sure about the deal but she did like seeing all the stars we normally can't see in the city.

Today we spent some time at a park and a nice walking area before Claire and I had to do the usual weekly grocery trip. I suffered through a Walmart run mid-day today, and other than the shock of hoards of people and screaming kids, I remain amazed by the grocery prices at that place. Problem is, I can rarely handle the crush of people there, so I don't go often enough. I actually had a migraine headache last night and was in bed before 10pm, and the Walmart trip brought back a small part of that headache.

The girls have been great fun this weekend - nice weather and outdoors time tends to help with the happiness factor. Here are some of our photos from this weekend ...

... and tomorrow, I'll have no gripes about returning to the grind. At least I have "a grind" to return to.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just Can't Shake It

Tonight it was Molly's turn for the ear infection diagnosis. I've had to handle a very unhappy and grumpy Molly for a couple days now, and she's had me up for over two hours in the middle of the night the last two nights. I'm exhausted, and so is she. She's also on the fifth day of running a fever which is very concerning, so I decided to take her in. Sure enough she has a double ear infection without any noticeable congestion. I'm hoping the antibiotics kick in quickly and the fever will be gone by tomorrow. I also hope the both of us sleep through the night.

Claire is still hacking away (though still a dry cough) and at times runs the slightest temperature above normal - around 99 degrees. Lily's temperature seems fine but she is clearly working on her second ear infection in a month's time. Lily is scheduled for ear tubes surgery on November 18, and I predict she'll have had a second ear infection before the surgery. I'm guessing she'll be diagnosed some time over the weekend. Now with Molly having her first infection in four months or more, I will need to do some hard thinking about doing tubes for her also.

We just can't seem to shake these cooties, though none of this week was horrible. The doctor tonight did tell me that no one is testing for H1N1, but it's possible that is what we've experienced. I'm skeptical because this has been too mild for a "real" flu, and neither Kyle nor I even got a touch of real sickness.

I also can't shake my anxiety over tomorrow's job news, though I'm somewhat confident I'll still have a job. There's nothing fun, however, about watching other people lose their jobs even if mine ends up safe. And "safe" is a misnomer here as it sounds as though we'll likely have another round of cuts in first quarter of next year, so the end of this story won't be written tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Molly's new obsession is telling me about 20 times a day how old she is. She puts her fingers in a perfect "two" position, and says, "Momma, dee [two]!"

So here's the conversation at snack time today:

Molly: "Momma, dee [two]!"

Me: "That's right! And Claire is five."

Molly: "Momma, old."

I laughed so loudly I scared the child. Admittedly, the nanny spent a little time the other day trying to teach the twins to say "mommy is old" (she thought that would be easier to say than my age), but I have not yet heard the twins say it and the nanny thought her teachings were not successful. So I was very surprised and tickled to hear it today!

For the sick kid update, I've decided if you have to get a virus, this is THE virus to get. The kids' fevers have continued to yo yo up and down, but even at 102 degrees I have perfectly mannered and happy children. It's like the fever doesn't phase them. The worst part of this is Claire's coughing - she woke up the house at 4am last night from a coughing fit. I struggled to get back to sleep. The twins, however, have never even started coughing; in fact, their only symptom is the odd fever. We've kept Claire out of school so far this week and I'm debating sending her tomorrow. In fact, we hadn't left the house for two days until I decided Claire could handle ice skating lessons tonight which did us all some good - everyone needed the break from home. I've got the nanny coming tomorrow and I'm going into the office, assuming the kid fevers will stay the same or improve.

I've also got to be in the office this Friday. My manager is requiring that we are in the office on Friday to hear if we've still got a job, so Kyle has agreed to stay home with the kids that day. Hopefully I close out the week still gainfully employed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Curse

The Halloween Curse continues. Two years running we've gotten some kind of cooties over Halloween weekend. Last year, we got the stomach virus. This year, we've got something ... it could be H1N1, or some other kind of flu virus ... we're in the throes of it so I don't have any answers yet. All three kids have fevers, and these fevers yo yo up and down, up and down. Molly threw up once this morning. Amazingly, all three kids' moods are great, so I am thoroughly confused by this whole deal. I'm also stuck at home on a day I'd typically be in the office. I've got the twins napping now after a dose of Motrin but that may not last long - Molly's last temperature measured at 102 degrees and rising.


Claire did end up being allowed to trick or treat because she did not have a fever Saturday night, so the twins helped me pass out candy while Kyle and Claire walked the neighborhood. I am personally not a big fan of the holiday, plus I was petrified about the flu hitting our household, so I don't have many costume or pumpkin photos worth sharing. We spent 45 minutes or so at a park yesterday and I got some good pictures of the kids before I realized that all three were coming down with the same thing ....

... and so now I'm hanging on, waiting to see how this virus plays itself out, and hoping I don't end up sporting a 102-degree fever myself.