Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Insecurity, thy name is hok

I'm suffering an extreme case of insecurity and self-doubt. I have a post written about my adeventure yesterday chaperoning Ella's class field trip to the Texas Memorial Museum, but I just can't bring myself to post it. I've rewritten it three times, and it's still not quite right.

After my third revision, I realized that I'm worried it's not good enough.

This is new for me. I'm pretty good at recognizing when something isn't written well and either scrapping it all together or doing a major rewrite, all without any major psychic drama. But now I'm blocked.

I think the problem is that I've had several very nice comments and compliments lately from readers. Some are from friends and some are from bloggers whose blogs I read an admire. The compliments have thrown me into a tailspin. Now that I've had positive feedback, I'm terrified that anything I post won't live up to expectations.

Which leads to a further problem - I like receiving positive comments, who wouldn't. But what do I do if I keep getting all locked up every time I receive one?

Maybe I should just shut up and write already.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back to Target

At the begining of the month I vowed not to go to Target for at least 30 days. I've come close a couple of times to breaking my vow - mostly on quiet Saturdays when my kids were with the m-i-l and I was bored. But I stopped myself from going and frittering away money on junk we don't really need.

This Saturday, however, I had to go to Target. I really did. Believe me, given that I had a migraine AND three kids to tote along, I didn't go because I wanted to.

Two weeks ago I was rear-ended on MoPac. Traffic had come to a quick stop. I managed to stop in time, but I watched the guy behind me in the mirror and braced myself for impact. Maybe if he had hit the brakes before he hit the horn, things would have turned out differently, but who am I to judge. It was a minor fender bender. My back bumper needs to replaced, and the guy who hit me will have to replace his license plate holder.

Anyway, when I was on the phone with the claims person from his insurance company, the man asked if I had kids in the car when I got hit. When I said yes, he asked if they had been in car seats. I said of course. And that's when he told me I needed to replace all the car seats. I said, "Really? It was such a minor accident. The airbags didn't even go off." He said, again, that I had to replace them all, even the girls' booster seats.

So off to Target we went for new car seats, which everyone thought was very exciting. We also needed to get a new bike helmet for Ella because the strap on her old one just snapped last week when she put it on. She ended up wearing my helmet home from the park while I risked possible brain damage.

I was very proud of myself when we left Target. I bought exactly what I went in there for: one car seat, two booster seats, one bike helmet, one gallon of milk, one thing of laundry detergent. I resisted the girls' pleas for new movies, and I didn't get any fun magazines. I bought only what we needed and walked out again.

Yay me.

But I'm starting the clock over again - no more Target for 30 days.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


If you think Campbell looks bad, you should see the other kid.
Just kidding.
Actually, this picture doesn't really convey just how banged up his poor little face is. The bruise on his forehead is on top of a big lump. And the scrape near his eye goes almost to his ear.
It was one of those accidents that you don't see coming, but when it happens, it unfolds in agonizingly slow motion. We were at a birthday party last night, and Campbell was done in, so B was going to take him home while I stayed with the girls. B put Campbell in the back seat of his car to play around while I put the car seat. B went around to the other side of the car and opened the back door, not realizing Campbell was leaning on it. I lunged across the seat and yelled, as B lunged and managed to catch Campbell by the back of his shirt. Unfortunately, Campbell's face still hit the curb pretty hard. All three of us cried.
B watched Campbell for signs of a concussion for the rest of the evening while I stayed at the party and fretted. Having learned from our last head injury, I gave Campbell some advil when I got home to help stave off any potential headache.
Today Campbell seems no worse for the tumble, although my nerves are still shot. I've been putting tea tree ointment on his scrapes all day, which Campbell thinks is fun. But we did get a lot of strange looks from folks at the playground this afternoon, like they were wondering whether they should call CPS on me. But as my sister says, if that ever happens, all we'll need to do is let Campbell run around for five minutes and fall down.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Poor little brother

It must be tough having two big sisters. You desperately want to play in their room with them, but when they do allow you in, they do things like cram you in a tutu and laugh hysterically. Or they put bows and clips and headbands in your hair, which you try to tug out on your own but end up crying because you pull your own hair in the process.
I promise, little man, that when you get older, you'll get them back with all sorts of gross boy stuff.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Knitting stuff

Work has settled down a bit; we're in review stage, waiting for the product to come in from the publishers so that we can proof everything for problems. As a result, I've had more time to knit, when I'm not dealing with barfing or screaming kids, that is.

I finally finished the hat I've been working on for B. It's made of gorgeous Lorna's Laces charcoal yarn that was just delicious to work with. B loves the hat because I made it long enough to cover even the very tips of his earlobes.

The next day, I cast on a pair of socks for me. I've given away everything I've knit so far, but you'll have to pry this pair off my cold, dead feet. I love, love, love the wool, which my mom gave me for Christmas.

The toy

This is the toy that caused Ella's thermonuclear meltdown on Monday. Once she stopped asking if she could have it back, Ella started asking me to get it out of the trash and take a picture so that she'd have something to remember it by.
Finally, Wednesday night I decided that taking a picture was the least I could do since I had so obviously ruined her little life by throwing away a worn-out toy she hasn't played with in months. If any of our neighbors looked outside at about 9:30 pm, they would have seen me standing the rain, by the light of the open garage door, pulling bag after bag out of the trash looking for the one that had this thing in it. Of course, it was at the very bottom.
I found it, took a picture, snapped the little board in half, and threw it back in the trash, grumbling the whole time about how that child just doesn't understand what I'm willing to do to make her happy.
When I went inside, I showed Ella (who was still awake whimpering about the toy) the picture on the camera. She gave me the biggest smile, snuggled down in her covers, and went straight to sleep.
And she hasn't mentioned the toy since.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One bright spot

What with Ella's meltdown, Lily's and Campbell's illnesses, and B's second set of facets injections in his neck today, it's been a tough week. I've been feeling pretty worn down and discouraged.

Today, one of my best friends, H, watched Campbell while I took B for his injections, and when I picked Campbell up, H handed me a note. In the note was a list of all the things H thinks of when she thinks about me. It is a wonderful list of very nice traits that I sometimes forget I have. There was also a lovely note on the back. I sobbed when I read it. And I teared up again when I dropped her son off after preschool and saw her. It is without a doubt the kindest, sweetest thing any friend has done for me. It means more than I can ever fully express.

I will treasure that note forever and will keep it someplace safe so I can pull it out on bad days as a reminder. So thank you H; you provided one bright spot in a very dark and dreary week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Barf - gross-out alert

I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to icky kid stuff. I haven't yet met a diaper that phased me, and I can handle cuts and scrapes without a problem - except for Campbell's Thanksgiving gash (which cost us $600, by the way), but I cannot handle vomit. The smell of it makes me start gagging. I've actually thrown up while loading vomit-covered sheets into the washing machine. Normally, B handles the clean up while I comfort the child.

Last night I gave Campbell his pre-bed cup of milk and stood up to take him off to his room. He puked all over the floor. I figured it was just a really big urp and took him in his room to change his clothes. We got as far as the hallway before he threw up again, this time all over me.

I got him changed and settled him down while B did the clean up. After about 30 minutes with no more vomit, I popped Campbell into bed. Fifteen minutes later he started screaming. I went in and found him and his crib covered. So I stripped him and sent B in to pull everything out of the crib and load it in the washer.

Campbell threw up one more time, but we got him safely tucked into bed, vomit-free by about 9:00. I was mad at B and Ella, thanks to her thermonuclear meltdown over a toy, so I stomped off to bed to read.

About half an hour later, B came in to tell me that Lily had thrown up all over her bed. This time, I ended up cleaning it all up while B took Lily off to our bathroom for a shower. And when I say all over her bed, I mean it. She got the wall next to the bed, her headboard, all her pillows, most of her stuffed animals, and her various little blankets in addition to the floor. I have visions of her head spinning around as she threw up.

We finally got everything cleaned up and Lily tucked back into bed at about 10:00. B put a big pot next to her in bed as her barf bucket, which came in handy about half an hour later and again at 3:00 am.

Fortunately, we've been vomit free all morning, but between Ella's tantrum and the illness, I'm wiped out, physically and emotionally. The kids are in bed for a nap, and I think I'm going to lie down, too.

The hill I died on

Despite my worries about the rain and illness, yesterday morning actually went all right. Lily and Campbell both took really good naps, and Ella got invited to a neighbor's house even though I told the mom about the possibility of contagion. I got work and knitting done. Things looked good.

But it all went to hell in the afternoon.

The girls share a room and sleep in bunk beds. They keep a lot of their toys in a trundle that rolls under the bottom bunk. When I first got the trundle, I organized all their toys in nicely labelled clear plastic bins - it was a fit of pregnancy-induced nesting. The system lasted all of a week before falling apart as the girls just chunked toys in wherever. I've cleaned it up a few times since then, but lately it had gotten really bad and was getting on my nerves.

When Ella got home from the neighbors' house, I offered her a buck to clean out the trundle and sort things back into their bins. She worked on it for about 15 minutes before declaring herself bored and forfeiting the dollar.

I went in to take a look and found this.

I decided I couldn't possibly just put all the bins back in the trundle and tuck it away; half the job was already done. So I grabbed a trash bag and more bins and started to work while the girls were busy watching PBS Kids. I figured I was home free. But then Ella wandered in and saw what I was up to and started crying about how I was throwing away her favorite toys that she loved so much. I tried to reassure her that I wasn't throwing out any toys that weren't broken or ruined, but she wasn't buying it. And, honestly, I didn't throw out any of their treasured stuff, just the flotsam and jetsam of broken crayons, worn-out markers, dried up paint, and scraps of paper and other trash.

But Ella had spotted, through the bag, this Diego notepad she had bought at her school's book fair last spring. It has this special coating on it, that when you paint on it with water, changes colors. The coating wore off long ago, and the special paint brush has long since disappeared. Even though Ella hasn't played with the thing in months, she decided then and there that it was her most special toy ever because it helped her remember her first-ever school book fair.

I told her to leave the bedroom and let me finish. She went back in the living room but came back in her room every few minutes sobbing uncontrolably, which then turned into shrieking at the top of her lungs loud enough that it scared Campbell. Lily joined in with the crying for a few minutes, but after I reassured her that I wasn't throwing away her splinter or her lovies, she was mostly fine.

When I tried to take the trash bag out to the garbage, Ella clung to it with her whole body, sobbing and wailing as though I were throwing out everything she owned.

Now I know that at this point I could have simply taken the Diego thing out of the bag and given it to her, but I felt like that would have been rewarding her rather terrible behavior. She was screaming "You may not do this to me! You are not allowed to do this! I'm telling Dada on you! You are the worst mother in history!" And really, there need to be consequences. So I detached her from the bag and took it out.

When I came back in I sent Lily to Campbell's room and Ella to mine so that we could all take a breather and cool off. Ella brought me out a long piece of toilet paper on which she had written, "I will give you every dime and pennie I have to not trow away my toys." I went in my room to try to talk her down and explain why I had thrown things away, but all she did was yell and scream. I walked out, telling her that she had to stay in my room until daddy got home.

Lily had calmed down enough that I let her out of Campbell's room and enlisted her help in finishing sorting toys into bins and putting them into the trundle, which she did quite cheerfully, chattering the whole time about this, that and the other. Why is it that when one child has lost her freaking mind, the other is on her absolute best behavior?

B arrived home to have Ella come out of the room to tell on me. He just nodded and sent her back in. B, Lily, Campbell and I all ate dinner together (which I would later realize was a big mistake), and then I took Lily and Campbell off to take a bath in my bathroom. I checked on Ella, who had retreated under my bed, and found her like this.

We left her sleeping under our bed and got the little kids bathed and tucked in to their beds. Ella staggered out a while later, and under duress, apologized to me for her behavior. B gave her a plate of dinner and sent her off to bed when she had finished. But once she was in bed, the waterworks started again.

She went on and on about how maybe the toys weren't really broken and how Thursday, which is garbage day, was going to be the saddest day of her life because then she would never see her toys again.

B lost his patience at this point and started yelling at me about how I just had to pick this hill to die on and how I'd better clean up my mess. That didn't help my mood. I was already feeling like the worst mom ever, and to have him gang up on me didn't help. I gave Ella a final warning and stomped off to bed to read.

The fun continued at 9:00 when Lily threw up all over her bed, and the wall, and the headboard, and her stuffed animals, and Ella continued to hector me about the toys while I was cleaning everything up. She started in again at 3:00 am when I was up with Lily, who was throwing up more. And the first words out of Ella's mouth when she woke up this morning were about the toys. She wants me to dig the toys out of the trash and take pictures of them to help her remember them.

This morning I'm feeling horribly guilty about it all. I shouldn't have thrown stuff away while the girls were around; I know how they get about their stuff, even if it is just garbage. But, again, I just couldn't bear to put the trundle back in half cleaned. And perhaps I should have given the dang toy back, but I really felt it would be rewarding bad behavior. Besides, Ella really needs to learn that you can't keep every little thing. She'd keep every Tootsie-Pop and Hershey's Kiss wrapper if I let her.

So this morning I'm nursing my mug of tea, pretending it's coffee, and feeling like the meanest mom in history, even though I know I'm not. This one incident alone won't send Ella into therapy when she's older.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's going to be one of those days

I can tell already that it is going to be one of those days. Ella and Lily both have the day off of school due to the holiday. I had planned to test out my new bike rack and take all the kids and our bikes and bike trailer down to the Trail for a ride. It would have been Lily's first trip down there to ride without training wheels. The girls were THRILLED when I said we'd do it.

But that plan is not to be.

First, it's raining, so no bike riding.

Second, Lily and Campbell are sick. Campbell just has a runny nose and a bad attitude. He's smart enough now to run away whenever he sees me coming with a Kleenex, so he has a perpetual trail of slime on his face. Ick.

Lily is worse off. She's running a fever and complaining of a sore throat, which worries me. Apparently, strep throat is making the rounds of preschools. One of Lily's friends, with whom she had a play date last week, has strep, and I'm afraid germs may have been shared before our little friend was showing any signs of being ill. When she's sick, Lily just turns puny and whiny, and she wants to be in my lap constantly, which isn't convenient when I'm trying to clean up the house and get some work done.

Ella, however, is healthy, and I'm predicting lots of complaints about boredom today. I'm hesitant to call in reinforcements and send her off to a friend's house because maybe she's on the verge of having whatever Lily has. I'd hate to be "that" mom who sends her sick kid off to play. I think I may have to resort to letting Ella watch the fourth Harry Potter movie, which Lily isn't allowed to watch, while Lily is napping. The promise of the special movie is usually enough to buy a fair amount of cooperation from Ella.

Fortunately, I started the day with a good, if damp, run. It's the first time in weeks that I haven't come home borderline hypothermic. With any luck, the endorphins from the run will enable me, and the children, to survive the day.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Blue, blue, blue

It's 35 degrees and raining here today, and the weather matches my mood perfectly. I don't know why I'm in such a funk, but I am. All I want to do is curl up in bed, have a good cry, and then take a long nap.

But instead I have paying work I need to finish and mountains of laundry to fold. I've been steadily washing clothes all week; I just haven't had the time to fold and put them away.

I really should be in a good mood today. Last night I went out to dinner with one of my bestest friends, and with the help of her and a glass of wine I actually bought a pair of jeans that fit.

I suppose my problem is that my night out came at a cost - work and laundry were left undone and are waiting for me today. It seems that any time I do something fun for myself, I end up having to pay for it later. It's not B's fault - I came home to three sleeping kids, a neat living room and a spotless kitchen - it's just the nature of my life as a stay-at-home mom and freelancer. I can't leave my work at the office because my office is always here.

The fact that I didn't go running this morning isn't helping me either. I woke up and got dressed to go, bundled into lots of warm gear because I knew it was going to be cold. When I opened the door to get the paper, it was sleeting. So after a few minutes of dithering and second guessing, I went back to bed. I can handle running at 5:30. I can handle running in sub-freezing temps. I can't handle both of those things AND sleet.

But then I found out that the rest of my running group braved the weather and ran five miles. Now I feel like a total and complete wuss for not being out there with them.

I know this is rambling and disjointed, but so am I this morning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shhh . . . I'm reading!

I know this really belongs over on my book blog, but I haven't finished the book yet.

While making a donation to Chicago Public Radio to support the free podcast of "This American Life," I saw an ad for a book of essays collected and introduced by Ira Glass called The New Kings of Nonfiction. I decided to order it because it has essays by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Orleans and Dan Savage, to name a few. And because I have a huge crush on Ira Glass. He's sexy in a geeky, intellectual but still hip way. Kind of like David Byrne, but far less intimidating. If I were stuck on an island with David Byrne, I'd be afraid to talk out of fear that I'd bore him. But if I were stuck with Ira Glass, I think I'd have a grand time.

But I digress.

The book arrived yesterday, and since Campbell was down for his afternoon non-nap (he plays happily in his crib for an hour), Lily was playing princess dance party with a friend from school, and Ella hadn't arrived from school yet, I sat down to read. And I was hooked immediately.

Honestly, I haven't been this excited about reading a new book in a long time. I didn't knit last night because I was reading. I cursed my work because it kept me from reading. I was ready to stick toothpicks in my eyelids to prop my eyes open so I could keep reading.

While I'm not a fan of short stories, I love nonfiction essays. It's one of the reasons, aside from the cartoons, that I have been a subscriber to "The New Yorker" since college. This book is chock full of great essays. Dan Savage's essay is about his attempts to change the Republican Party in Seattle from the inside during the 1996 caucus season. There's one by an author I've never heard of about her months spent as a hostess at a hot nightclub that was hysterical. Right now I'm in the middle of Malcolm Gladwell's essay on the principles of "six degrees of separation" and how it works.

I may not be blogging, working, or caring for my children much in the next few days because I'll have my nose buried in this book.

Monday, January 14, 2008

UFO News

I'm a little freaked out by this article. I've written before about my fear of UFOs, and this spate of sightings is a little too close to home.

What scares me about this new account is the number of people who have seen the object, including a pilot and a constable. It's not just one loony claiming green men have been shoving probes up his rear. When more than a few people start saying they've seen something odd, you've got to wonder just a little what might be going on.

B didn't help me with this. As I was reading the article, he leaned over my shoulder and said, "Ohh, they're getting closer." If it weren't for the fact that he is still in a lot of pain because of his neck, I would have elbowed him in the gut.

Success! Or, Caffeine withdrawal, day 6

I think I've successfully gotten caffeine out of my system, along for my craving of that morning cup of goodness. The best part is that I haven't had a withdrawal-induced headache since the blinding one on Friday.

Now I just need to get out of the habit of asking for iced tea or coke when I go out to eat. I had to stop myself on Saturday night when I went out to dinner with a friend. I was desperately tired and still had a function to go to later that night - fodder for another post - and I almost ordered a coke, just to wake myself up a bit. But I resisted temptation and had water instead. As a result, though, I only lasted an hour at the after-dinner event before going home and tucking myself in at 11:00.

I really could have used a cup of coffee this morning. Campbell decided that he wanted to party like a rock star at about 4:00 am. I let him fuss in his bed for an hour or so until he started really screaming. I gave in and got him up, stretching out on the sofa with him on my chest. He finally fell back asleep at about 5:30. I however, did not. Fortunately, B was home this morning, so when I put Campbell down for his nap, I ignored my work and took one too. Campbell woke up long before I did, so B kept an eye on him.

Now that I'm off caffeine, I'm feeling quite proud of myself. But I wonder how long it will be before I slip up and have a coke.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New blog title

I finally decided on a new blog title, no thanks to any of my readers except t. cooke. He's the only one who suggested a new name. Perhaps I should have made it a contest.

I came up with the new title today while reading Calvin and Hobbes with Ella. The dynamic duo are sitting in a tree discussing their plans for the day, which mostly involve waiting for Susie to walk under the tree so they can drop a water balloon on her. Hobbes says, "I love summer." Calvin responds with, "The days are JUST packed."

I like the quote for two reasons. First, it reminds me of summers when I was a kid, when we did a whole lot of nothing. We'd go to the pool for a few hours, we'd ride our bikes around, we'd climb trees, and then when the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, we'd head inside to read or watch old "Leave it to Beaver" shows. Those were great days, and I hope I can provide my kids with the same sort of summer memories.

Second, the quote pretty accurately describes my life. My days are packed with kids and their schools and work (both house and paying) and errands and running and knitting and reading. Some days, when I'm feeling like I've been a lazy slug, I'll write down everything I've done in a day, and I'm amazed at what I've accomplished. Needless to say, I don't have a lot of down time.

This blog has never been about just one thing - kids, running, knitting - but rather about all the pieces of my life, all the things that pack my days full. So the new title seems particularly appropriate.

My days are just packed.

hok cooks

The girls are addicted to this Pepperidge Farms cinnamon bread. If I let them, they'll each eat three pieces at breakfast. So last weekend I decided we'd bake some cinnamon bread of our own.

With apologies to Pioneer Woman Cooks, here's my bread-making process.

First, you gather all the ingredients. Then you notice you don't have cinnamon, which is crucial to making cinnamon bread. So you raid your neighbors' pantry and steal theirs. Make sure the neighbors are out of town when you do this.

Then, if you're Lily, you pout and cry a little because your big sister got to go first when adding ingredients.
The nice thing about my bread baking is that everything goes right into one pan, which makes for a very fast clean-up.

After you've added the flour, cinnamon, salt, water, butter and powdered milk, make a little hole for the yeast and pour it in. I don't know why you have to make a little hole, but you do. Bad things happen if you don't.

Pop the whole shebang into the bread machine and hit the start button. (Ignore the People magazine on the counter. I don't really read such trash, really. )

Make sure to take time to watch the kneading process.

Et voila, three hours later, you have bread. The girls' verdict? It's not as good as the store-bought cinnamon bread. The did like the plain old white bread I made the next day, though.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I am NOT Gina Trautwig

I don't know who Gina Trautwig is, but a collection agency is looking for her, and they keep calling my cell phone. At first I ignored the messages, but when the collection agency started leaving three messages a day, I decided it was time to act.

Thursday night my cellphone rang, and recognizing the number of the collection agency, I answered. I went through the prompts and pressed 3 for "wrong number." Finally a man came on and asked for Gina. When I told him that they had the wrong number and that I wanted the calls to stop, he hung up on me. I hoped that would be the end of it.

But no. Yesterday afternoon they called again. I went through the prompts and got a woman, who asked for Gina. This was our conversation.

Me: I talked to someone yesterday and told them you had the wrong number.
Debt Collector: No you didn't.
Me: Excuse me, yes I did. I talked to a young man who hung up on me when I told him he had the wrong number.
DC: No you didn't.
Me: Yes I did. Please stop calling me.
DC: All you needed to say was that we had the wrong number.
Me: I did that already. Stop calling me.
DC: Click.

I was sputtering by the end of the conversation. How could she have been so rude? It wasn't my fault that Gina Trautwig had defaulted on her debts and then given out the wrong number. But then it occurred to me that folks who work in the debt collection industry probably aren't too concerned with their customer service ratings. They get lied to, cursed at, and hung up on many, many times a day.

They haven't called back yet today, so maybe they've officially taken my number off their list. If they haven't though, I may be forced to get nasty. I'm spoiling for a fight with someone.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"You're spoiling him!"

That's what B said to me last night when he found me snuggling with Campbell on the sofa at 8:30. Campbell has been working on giving up one of his naps, and the days when he only takes one nap, he goes to bed without a problem. However, on the days when he takes two naps, like he did yesterday, he has a hard time going to bed. Last night I put him in his crib and made Pigeon give him some kisses and gave him his lovie and left the room, like I always do. Campbell was quiet for an hour, then he started crying. I went in and patted him and tucked him back in, but that only made him scream more. I gave him a few more minutes of crying before I went in to get him.

We snuggled on the sofa together while he drank a little more milk. Even after he finished his milk, Campbell was content to just sit quietly in my lap. He's figured out that if he's quiet and cuddly, I'll let him stay up, but that once he starts wiggling or trying to play he gets packed off to bed. We were sitting quietly watching Law and Order when B found us and accused me of spoiling him.

I couldn't argue with B; I am spoiling Campbell a little. But I can't help myself. Those sweet, quiet moments with Campbell are so rare these days. He's in constant motion during the day, and he won't sit in my lap for more than a moment. Plus, I know he's my last baby, so I need to enjoy the baby snuggles while I can.

Campbell is also in a particularly cute phase, destructive tendencies aside. Lately he's taken to climbing onto the sofa and flinging himself in my lap to give me wet slobbery kisses all over my face. He won't stop kissing me until I make a smacking noise and give him a kiss back. As soon as I do that, he slithers off my lap and takes off to destroy something new.
Besides, how can you not want to spoil someone who's so darn cute?

Don't worry - I'm not spoiling him to the point where he's not learning the meaning of the word "No," and I'm not letting him bite me or his sisters, like he wants to. I'm just spoiling him with love.

Caffeine withdrawal, day 3

I thought for sure that by day 3 I'd be through the worst of the withdrawal, but I'm not. I didn't crave coffee this morning, but the lack-of-caffeine-induced headache kicked in earlier today than it did yesterday, and instead of having a plain old headache like I had yesterday, I definitely have a full-blown migraine. I popped three Advil liquid gels, just like my doctor recommended . . . and nothing happened. Even though I've already taken Imitrex once this week, I took another one an hour or so ago. I'll risk the possible rebound migraine in exchange for not throwing up all day.

What gets me is that I know it's an easy problem to solve. All I have to do is drink a cup of coffee and all this goes away. But now that I'm three days in, I can't give up. However, if the headaches go on much longer or get much worse, I may rethink that position.

And I promise, no more whiny posts about this. You won't hear about caffeine withdrawal again until I'm successful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caffeine withdrawal, day 2

First, a big thank you to everyone for their words of support and commiseration. I received more e-mails and comments about my posts on giving up caffeine than I have ever gotten before. Turns out it's a hot topic.

Now on to my progress. I decided to go cold turkey today, and it wasn't easy. I made coffee for B this morning, like I do every morning, and I really, really wanted to pour myself a cup. It turns out I really like that part of my morning routine, I just didn't know it until I couldn't have the coffee. My tall glass of cold milk, usually my favorite beverage, really didn't do a good job of taking coffee's place.

Once I got over missing part of my routine, the morning went well, until about 11:00 when I got a headache from hell. I was at my favorite bakery at the time, picking up treats for Barb and her daughters, and I was so tempted to order a large iced tea, knowing that it would be a simple fix for my headache. But I sucked it up and had my friend L bring some Aleve with her to the girls' ballet class.

The Aleve didn't really help the headache. I managed to hold things together through Lily's dance class, but I skipped going to the grocery store on the way home. I couldn't bear the thought of shepherding Lily and Campbell through Central Market with my head pounding like that.

Fortunately, B was at the house when we got home, so he hung out with Lily while Campbell and I took a nap. I slept for about two hours. While my head feels a bit better, I still have a headache.

Despite the headaches, I'm not giving up on getting caffeine out of my system. If cutting caffeine out of my diet will eliminate at least 1/4 of my migraines, a couple of days of headaches will be worth it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What a contrast

Here's an article about a mother who is such a contrast to the mom who made last week's news. I loved that she referred to herself as the "meanest mom on the planet" in her ad. And bravo to her for sticking to her guns on her rule of no alcohol in the car. I think I'll file this one away for when and if our kids get cars. We'll make them sign a contract, AND I'll do something similar if they break the rules.

B's dad did something similar when B was 15. B's dad had gotten him an MG convertable to drive when he turned 16. But B and one of his friends decided that they couldn't wait that long and snuck out one night in it. They got busted by the cops, of course, and the parents got called to pick them up at the police station. B's dad, as a punishment, gave the car away shortly thereafter. B was crushed. He still talks about it, to this day.

Caffeine withdrawal, day 1

Even though I'm not sure I trust my doctor's recommendation about giving up caffeine, I figured it was worth a try, so this morning I made coffee for B but didn't drink my usual half cup. I did, however, stop at my favorite breakfast taco place on the way home from taking Lily to preschool, and I got a coke and two tacos. A coke has about 1/3 the amount of caffeine of coffee, so I figured drinking half a coke was a good first step in weaning myself.

But no, I currently have a blinding headache. And the Advil the doctor recommended I take for pain? It hasn't even begun to touch it. I think it may have even made my headache worse, even though I treated myself an hour-long nap after taking the Advil.

I was able to take the nap because for the first time since December 20, Campbell and I are back to our normal little morning routine. Both girls are back at school - hallelujah! So when I put Campbell down for his nap, I curled up in bed. Unfortunately, Campbell woke up much too soon for my liking; I could have slept another hour.

I'll continue the break-up with caffeine tomorrow by going cold turkey. Today's headache is bad enough that I don't want to prolong the agony any longer than I have to. All I can say is this better be worth it! I'd better not have another migraine for months.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Farewell, caffeine

I had an odd appointment with my neurologist yesterday, odd enough that I might be looking for a new doctor. Up until this time, I've liked Dr. R. She took over my old neurologist's practice, which I think he may have left just to be rid of me. I left every appointment thinking that he just didn't know what to make of me. Anyway, Dr. R is just a few years older than I, she has three kids, and she gets migraines. Those last two items are particularly important to me - she knows what it's like to be suffering from a migraine AND running after three kids.

Last year, after Campbell was born, Dr. R put me on a blood pressure medicine because it has proved effective in preventing migraines. Unfortunately, like every other preventative medicine that doctors have put me on, the stuff made me feel awful - dizzy, lightheaded, spacey. I gave it 30 days and then stopped taking it. Dr. R looked pretty unhappy yesterday when I told her why I'd stopped taking the medication and why I didn't want to try any other preventive drugs. I have yet to take one that doesn't make me feel worse while I'm on it.

I went for yesterday's appointment because back in December I had tried to get my pain pill prescription refilled, and Dr. R had denied the refill. When I called to find out why, Dr. R had already left for Christmas vacation. I'm ashamed to admit that I got a little hysterical with the nurse about it all. So she talked to one of the other neurologists, who approved a refill for me. But the nurse said I had to come in for an appointment.

Dr. R completely surprised me yesterday by basically going against what she and every other neurologist I've seen has said about treating migraines. First, she told me that I can only take Imitrex one day out of seven. When I asked what to do if I got two migraines in seven days, she told me that I should take three Advil liquid gel caplets. Her reasoning was that taking too many Imitrex in a seven-day period can lead to rebound migraines. When I asked what I should do for pain when the Imitrex didn't work, she again said Advil. Dr. R claims that taking the pain pills more than once every six months or so leads to rebound migraines.

Then she asked me how much caffeine I drink. I proudly told her only half a cup of coffee a day, only to have her frown and say that I had to give it up all together, again because of the rebound effect. Migraines cause the blood vessels in your head to swell, and caffeine makes them shrink. According to Dr. R, every time you drink caffeine, you shrink your blood vessels, but then they open right back up again when the caffeine wears off, leaving you more prone to migraines.

I'm just not sure I buy all this. My first neurologist, whom I loved, told me not to take Advil when I had a migraine because it had blood thinning properties (the same reason you can't take it when you're pregnant), which can actually make the pain worse. My OB-GYN, when I was pregnant with Ella and couldn't take Imitrex, said to drink a Coke when I got a migraine. So now I have a doctor telling me absolutely not to drink caffeine and not to take pain pills and not to use Imitrex more than once a week.

Basically, I left the doctor's office rather stunned and not sure what to do. I almost want to schedule another appointment with her so that I can ask her some follow-up questions, like:

1. Do you follow this protocol yourself?
2. Where and when did you learn about all this? Did you just attend a migraine conference?
3. What do I do if I give up caffeine and pain pills and the Advil doesn't work and I still get migraines?
4. Can I see another doctor please?

As of right now, I'm willing to give the no caffeine thing a try. It'll be a rough day or two as I get it out of my system, but I don't drink enough for withdrawal to be a big deal. I was going to start this morning, but I was scheduled to be helping parent in Lily's preschool class, and I couldn't face the thought of spending five hours with 12 pre-k kids without caffeine. So I guess tomorrow's the day.

But I still think I'm going to look around for a second opinion.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Seeking a new name

So I think my blog needs a new name, something more descriptive than my initials and last name. I'll keep the same url, because now that I actually have more than two readers (Hi mom and dad!), I want everyone to still be able to find me.

But I'm stumped on the name. I want something clever and reflective of the topics of my blog, which are pretty far ranging. How do you encompass mothering, knitting, running, freelancing, and general blathering in a brief phrase?

The one title I keep coming back to is "On the verge of . . ." I like it because it's ambiguous as to what I'm on the verge of. It could be on the verge of greatness, or of insanity, or of brilliance, or of stupidity. I could be on the verge of anything.

But I'm not sold on that as the title, so I'm opening up the floor for suggestions. Anyone got anything for me?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Knitting stuff

I've been busily knitting away this past month - when work and kids allow me the time. I finished the purse for my sister, which I knit on behalf of my mother who is supposed to be taking a break from knitting due to a hurt wrist. This is the purse before I felted it. I KNOW I took an after picture, but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe my sister will take a picture and send it to me. It looked really cool when it was finished, even if the handles didn't quite fuse to the purse correctly.

I finally finished the orange socks, which I've been working on for two months in between other projects. The pattern is bamboo walking socks, which is a lot of fun to work on. It's the perfect combination of a pattern and mindless knitting. I gave the socks to Aunt Alison, who loved them.
I also knit three pairs of baby booties and one baby hat out of this really cool self-striping sock yarn. I meant to take a picture of all the booties lined up, but I forgot.

And now for this. . . . My father-in-law gave me money for Christmas, and I wavered on what to use it for - new running shoes, a pedicure or three, new books. But then inspiration struck as I was wrestling with a skein of yarn, trying to wind it into a ball to begin knitting a hat for B. I bought myself a swift and ball winder off e-Bay. The contraptions arrived tonight, and I immediately pulled them out of the boxes and set them up. I proceeded to wind a skein of gorgeous raspberry wool from Mountain Colors into a ball. It looks neon in the picture, but it's not at all in person. I can't wait to begin knitting socks with it.

B laughed at me about the swift and ball winder, and then he laughed harder when I called my mother about them. He asked, "Calling someone who cares?" He just now walked past and asked if I was posting about the swift and ball winder so that all my "geeky knitting people" could see them. Brave words from a man who keeps asking me to knit things for him.

This is why I live in Texas

I'm apologizing in advance to readers like Hallie and Heidi who, by the look of the pictures they've posted, are drowning in snow.

But today is one of those perfect days here in Austin. It was 61 degrees when I ran at 6:30 this morning, which was quite a change from the 36 degrees we ran in yesterday morning. Now it's in the low 70s with big-ass Texas blue skies without a cloud in sight.

The kids have spent pretty much all morning playing outside, first in the front yard with their friends and then in the back yard with each other. As soon as we finish lunch, we'll be hopping on our bikes and riding up to the park for more outdoors time.

It's just a really, really lovely day. Someone remind of this post in August when I'm bitching about weeks of the 100+ degree weather that I hate ever so much.

Friday, January 04, 2008

One the perks of the job

This afternoon Ella was at a playdate and Campbell was down for a nap (he didn't sleep, though), so Lily and I settled down to watch a movie together. I had promised her a movie to make up for the insult of not being invited to the big girls' playtime. I told Lily she could pick any movie she wanted, and of course she selected "Arielthelittlemermaid."

As we snuggled down under the blanket on the sofa, I started thinking about all the stuff that needed to be done - lunch dishes were still on the counter, laundry was waiting in the dryer, work-related e-mails and work tasks were sitting in my in-box. I almost got up to do all those things while Lily was occupied with the movie, but then I remembered that I had promised I would watch the movie WITH her.

That's when it hit me - my primary job is being mommy; it's not being housekeeper or freelancer. Part of my job as mommy, one of the best parts, is spending time with my kids without multi-tasking. So I settled in and watched the movie with Lily. We both dozed off for a little bit in the middle, but it was a great way to spend an hour with her.

My hope is that she won't remember wearing wrinkled clothing or that the dishes weren't always done, but that she will remember the times when we snuggled on the sofa together. I know I will.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Farewell, Target

I'm cutting Target out of my life for the next 30 days. As I've written before, I love going to Target. There's just something about all those shelves of brightly colored stuff. But I've been feeling the need to downsize our collection of clutter. I tried very hard at Christmas to give only non-cluttery gifts, and I think I did pretty well. It's been a week since Christmas, and I haven't tripped over any new plastic junk yet. Even better, we're getting lots of use out of the presents we did get. The girls have been going on daily bike rides with me or B. And we've been towing Campbell along in the new bike trailer.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, but then I read this blog, and it got me thinking. I'm not ready to give up buying things for a year - I'm not sure I could do without new books and new yarn and new running shoes. But I am willing to give up Target for a month again. Maybe I'll be able to stretch it out longer than that.

In anticipation of this change of lifestyle, I made one last trip to SoooopeeeerrrTarget today, to pick up a few last things and say good-bye. I'm really proud of myself. I made it out of the store without any extra stuff. We bought three bike helmets - one for me, one for Lily, and one for Campbell - which I had planned on, but that was it other than groceries. I didn't even buy any junk food groceries, despite the girls' plea for ice cream.

I wavered in the DVD section, though. The other night we watched the new Pixar Shorts collection at our neighbors' house, and we all loved it. I had looked for it before Christmas, but it was out of stock then. I almost bought it today, but then Ella and Lily got in a debate about the new Harry Potter DVD. I didn't want to buy two new movies, but I didn't feel right about buying one that we won't let Lily watch yet. So I told the girls we weren't going to buy any movies this trip.

Ella started the waterworks, crying about how much she loved Harry Potter and how I had promised that she could watch the movie when it came out on DVD and she's been waiting since December 11 for it and she wanted it for Christmas and didn't get it and it isn't fair. Sob. I asked her if she loved Harry Potter enough to pay for half of the cost out of her own money. That question stopped the tears pretty quickly. I explained that my parents had made me help pay for things I really wanted, and that it had helped me learn to really think about what I wanted to buy. In the end, she decided to go home and count her loot to see how much she would have left if we bought the DVD. I was pleased with her response. Ella loves to save her money and almost never spends any of it. I'm glad the lure of Harry Potter hasn't changed that trait in her.

So now for 30 days without Target. I won't even go in for the bag of dog food I forgot to buy today.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

hok, the fish killer

Our neighbors went out of town for Christmas, and I agreed to feed and water their cat and fish while they were gone. We do this sort of thing often when anyone goes out of town. But after this last stint as fish feeder, I may not get asked to pet sit again.

My parents and sister stayed at our neighbors' house for part of the holidays, and my sister came over one morning to announce that one of the fish was floating upside-down. I was horrified. The last time one of his fish died, the little boy next door was very traumatized; he cried for hours. After they flushed Hermione the fish, L told his mom that he though one of his tears had fallen in the potty and had brought Hermione back to life, which meant they had just flushed a live fish. Nothing his mom said changed his mind about that theory. L insisted on having a funeral service for Hermione the fish. His mom was at a loss on what to serve for a fish funeral. She asked if it would be tasteless to serve the mourners goldfish crackers.

After my sister's announcement, I went next door and scooped the fish out and popped it in a zip-lock bag, which I then put in the freezer. I called our neighbor and left a message on her cell alerting her to the situation. When she called back and I told her the fish was in the freezer, she just about died laughing.

But I had my reasons for freezing the fish. First, I didn't know if L would want to have an internment or funeral service or ceremonial flushing, so I figured I'd better preserve the corpse. Second, I wanted to have the fish on hand just in case we needed to go to the pet store to buy a replacement fish. That way I could hold the fish up and say, "I need one just like this, please."

My mom had the best suggestion on how to handle it. She said we should just buy four or five new fish and pop them in the tank. When L got home, we could just tell him that Santa brought him new fish. He'd be so excited about the new fish that he wouldn't notice the missing one. My neighbor nixed that idea.

In the end, no one did anything with the dead fish. L hasn't yet noticed that it is missing from the tank, which is a good thing. I really, really don't want to be known as the neighborhood fish killer.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Start, Stop, Continue

Last year, Ella's teacher sent home a work sheet asking the kids to list things they wanted to start doing, stop doing and continue doing during the coming year. I liked this exercise better than making New Year's Resolutions. So I made my own list. I haven't done as well as I would have liked. I'm still not running as much as I had hoped. I'm still pretty hard on myself about everything. But I am still reading a lot. So here's this year's list.

Start: Being nicer to myself. Making sure to have one bit of "me" time each week, even if it's just spending an hour wandering through the book store.
Stop: Being my own worst critic. I'm still incredibly tough on myself. I never feel like I'm doing enough, even though I'm raising three kids, managing a house, maintaining a successful marriage, and working part time. I need to remember that it's ok if the laundry doesn't get folded immediately or if the floors aren't spotless.
Continue: Reading. Learning. Running. Knitting. Taking joy in my kids and my husband and our friends.

Happy New Year to all. May 2008 be filled with peace, love, health and happiness.