Posted in Children, Mommyhood, Pets

Meet Ladybug!

A long time ago, when we first bought this house, we had intended to adopt from some friends a sweet, well-behaved, loving, and calm Pembroke Corgi, who really needed to be an only dog in a home full of people who will pay oodles of attention to her all day long. My boys could be up to that challenge, boy howdy. We were getting ready to prepare to bring her home after our second child was born.

However, before that happened, we got a call from our friends to let us know that they just discovered this beautiful, sweet dog had lymphoma, and not long to live. 😦

She had to be put down a few months later. I wasn’t extremely heartbroken, because she hadn’t been ours yet. I hadn’t seen her (or our friends) much in months. Life just kind of got in the way. Perhaps providence. I don’t know. But I really wasn’t sure how we would ever find another perfect dog like her for us.

Fast forward a year or so: I left my boys with some friends from church one evening while I was at a choir practice, and when I went to pick them up, I met our friends’ newly adopted Golden Retriever. She was about a year old, a little timid, but sweet as could be and the perfect energy level for my boys (which meant too much for me!). My friends mentioned that another set of friends from church, who are getting ready for a big cross-country move, were trying to find a home for their older Golden, because they just didn’t think the move would be good for her.

I kind of wonder if God put a few of these Golden Retriever owners in my life at this time to get me ready for this new addition to our family, because Ladybug would be the fourth Golden Retriever (maybe fifth, if I count an older one who died a few months back, who belonged to the people who just adopted the one-year-old) I would encounter in a few months’ time. One of my friends owns two Goldens, that are her ninth and tenth in her adult life, and tells me there is no better breed, especially for raising boys. She said she couldn’t have raised her three boys without her Goldens.

I thought about it. At first, I didn’t want to promise anything. I wasn’t sure I could be a big-dog owner. I’d tried before, and I couldn’t handle it. I was sure I would need something with big-dog attitude, but of a controllable size (like a Corgi; I really wanted a Corgi). Well, in truth, the big dog I’d tried before was not a dog I had any business trying to own and train myself. He needed special keeping, and I was definitely not a good match for him. Bringing him back to the shelter was not, on the face of it, my proudest moment, but looking back, it was a very smart move on my part. He was aggressive and too energetic. At this point in my life, I KNOW I could not have handled him, especially since I found out five days after bringing him back to the shelter that I was pregnant with our first child.

Since then, I’ve researched Corgis. I’ve looked up adoptable older or senior female dogs who just need a loving family and a good home to spend the rest of their days. But I didn’t know if I could do it. We don’t really have a good yard set-up (yet) for a dog, nor a fence. We could adopt a sweet dog, but if she was a runner, we would be forced to stay outside with her the whole time she was going potty, rain or shine. And what if she wasn’t good with cats, or children? Most petfinder sites are good at screening those, but I found my first dog through them, and they did NOT have the full scoop on Maxie. I just wasn’t sure whether to trust them.

Enter my friends from church. Suddenly, they have to find a home for their dog in a matter of weeks, and here I am, wondering if I was going to make a big mistake by asking them about it. Was I setting myself up for heartbreak? Failure? Future bad behavior from my cat, who still resents the fact that we brought children into her territory? (She’s not aggressive, just irritable.)

I talked to my friend, then agreed to meet with her and Ladybug at a local park, so we can see how she handles the kids, the strangers (both men and women), strange dogs, etc. Fortunately, all those things were present! A family brought their dog, which was the same size as Ladybug, and sat not far from us. The dog was off-leash and came to say hi to Ladybug at one point, and Ladybug, though a bit stressed, did not react at all. She did not react to men coming to talk to her. She did not jump on my boys or lick their faces. She was pretty much perfect, and I couldn’t help but feel that she would do just fine with us.

She is six years old, has gorgeous curly hair on her chest and hindquarters, the sweetest brown eyes, and such an immensely loving disposition that transfer to our house was nearly seamless. I say “nearly”, because she does have an issue with submissive urination. After a couple days of cleaning up messes because she didn’t want to go do what I wanted her to do, and didn’t like it when I approached her to correct her, we’re starting from the beginning with some crate training (to get her comfortable with smells and sounds, and so she’ll realize that she mustn’t mess the crate, since that is where she will be spending a lot of time), then we’ll work up to “who’s the boss” (roped to me all day, following me around while I do daily stuff, learning sit-stays and down-stays), and hopefully we can get her more confident around us so that she won’t feel like she needs to wet herself, her bed, the floor, her crate, or anything else because she feels threatened or timid.

Tonight was great, because we all went for a walk, and it only took a quarter or a third of the walk to get her used to my walking rules (walk next to me, behind my husband (for today); don’t pull; sit when I tell you (she’s kind of hard-headed about that one sometimes); and stay till I tell you (that one, too)). By the end, she was barely pulling on the leash, and I could hold it loosely looped in one hand while she walked next to me and Sweetie. She even mostly ignored the boys when they turned around in the stroller to call her. Such a smart girl! πŸ™‚

She is still getting used to a potty schedule, but as far as I know she has had no more accidents in the house after Friday morning, when I decided we’d go back to crate training for a while. She’s been a good listener, has let me clip her toenails without complaint (or peeing!), put in her ear medicine in (she’s fighting yeast infections, which should hopefully clear up soon), and has been happy to play ball in the yard with the kids. She hasn’t barked but once. She would rather be by my side or chasing a ball — and bringing it back — than running off into the sunset. And she’s a calm car-rider.

But the best thing about this dog? I’m not a total big-dog failure! And she’s so dependent on our love and companionship that I feel like I can actually be a good leader for her. She’s helping me be a bit calmer toward the boys, especially since loud noises freak her out a bit. πŸ™‚ AND I’m getting the house cleaned. Slowly, but she’s good motivation. πŸ™‚

I’m really glad we could help our friends out, because they were so worried about finding a family for her, especially if it would have to be strangers. And she is just about as perfect a dog for us as we could ever ask for!

Here she is, lookin’ for love:
Ladybug outside

Pie torturing her:
Ladybug inside

Posted in Children, Insomnia

Why WE Choose to Keep and Bear Arms

I’m still too keyed up to sleep. Or perhaps I’m caffeinated.

Last night was not one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had. Even when Beanie was a newborn and waking all the time, there was some pattern. But last night was . . . remarkable. So here are my remarks:

2300(-ish) (That’s 11:00 for civilians πŸ˜‰ ): Sweetie and I go to bed. It might have been closer to midnight.

Midnight, or slightly thereafter (I didn’t look at the clock that time): Beanie starts to fuss, but isn’t putting his heart into it, or standing up in his crib. I lay in bed, hoping he will go back to sleep, because I feel like I hadn’t even slept yet. He does, about five minutes later. I drop back into a light sleep, waking every time he moves.

Between 0100 and 0200: I roll over. This is notable, because I rarely move at night. If I start on my left side, I stay on my left side. If I start on my right, my hip starts hurting halfway through the night, and I roll over. It often involves the cat moving around, too. Beanie is shifting around, too, and I seem to be waking every time.

0230: I wake up to a loud sound, about four or five loud bangs that kind of echo through the house. Thinking someone is pounding a hard object against our door, I wake my husband. There is no further banging, but he wanders about the house before getting his pistol and going downstairs to investigate. I almost follow him with the shotgun, but I haven’t used it in too long (which will be remedied soonest), so I go to the living room to look out the window. There is someone in the neighbor-across-the-drive’s yard with a flashlight, possibly the neighbor, but we’re not willing to go outside to find out. Sweetie opens the door and retrieves the mail he didn’t see on the porch the day before (yay! My curtain fabric is here!), and leaves the outside lights on. I wonder how in the world I’m going to sleep for the rest of the night.

0300: I eventually go back to bed, having exhausted all options for investigation open to me. No way am I sleepy! Well, I AM sleepy, but no way am I going to sleep! I analyze the sounds I heard while I play Words With Friends and read on my phone until my eyes force me to sleep, around 0340-ish. My next-door neighbor is awake and getting ready for work, if the lights on in his house are any indication.

0400: SLEEEEEEEP.

0445: Beanie wakes up. He is serious this time — really! He’s standing up in his crib, letting me know, under no uncertain terms, that I need to get up and change his diaper. And feed him. Until he’s asleep again.

0450: I cannot ignore him. I wake, I do those things.

0700: He’s finally asleep. I figure I get about half an hour of sleep till Pie wakes up, and by golly I’m going to claim it! It occurs to me sometime that the noises I heard might actually have been gunshots. But who on earth would have been shooting a gun outside our house?!

0900 (possibly, maybe earlier): Pie comes out of his room to find me on the couch. Tries to wake me, but I am sleepy and immobile. He’s just going to have to entertain himself for a while. He tells me to wake up and fix him breakfast. Not happening, kid.

0920: Forced awake by a stupid woodpecker pounding on my stupid roof. I know I should have fed my child, but he wouldn’t have starved. However, the one I wanted to continue sleeping was going to be woken up by an obnoxious bird, so that needed to stop. I put on my shoes and glasses and go out to scare the darn thing away. Come back inside and wonder how I’m going to function.

1000: Have had coffee, both children are awake and fed (I think). I see my neighbor across the street wandering around by the mailboxes and go outside to talk to him. I haven’t met him before, but I assume (correctly) that he’s the boyfriend of my actual across-the-street neighbor, whom I haven’t interacted with in ages. He tells me it definitely was gunshots I heard, and that he saw (or heard) two cars fleeing the scene shortly thereafter. It was his flashlight I saw when my husband was checking the front door. He was out looking for spent casings, but couldn’t see any. My heartrate goes to 11, knowing my suspicion was right. I probably shouldn’t have had that cup of caffeinated coffee.

1030: I had called my neighbor down the street, who technically lives behind the across-the-street neighbor and across from the next-door neighbor, but her driveway is between them. She calls me back to say they’re okay, but they hadn’t heard anything that night. She says she’d woken, but heard no sound. We chat for a bit, and she tells me that her nephew’s house was almost broken into while his wife was there, around 0700 — just a few miles from here. This does not make me less paranoid.

11 or 1200: Next-door neighbor comes home. I rush out to talk to him. He and his wife had heard the gunshots, but saw nothing. He did see a car zoom away from the bottom of the street when he left for work, though, which was kind of weird. He has a dummy camera just inside his fence that we both wish was real, but he also has a game camera in a tree nearby that may have caught something, but more likely nothing at all, because there’s a big bush blocking the view of the end of the driveway. I get his and his wife’s cell phone numbers (but just realized I didn’t give him mine — oops! I blame sleep deprivation). My oldest son is sticking his head outside the front door, even though I’d told him repeatedly to stay upstairs. Beanie is yelling from the top of the stairs, fortunately cautious enough to not follow his brother down. Argh. It might be time for a gate.

1300: Next-door neighbor knocks and shows me five shell casings he found at the corner of his driveway, between all our houses. They are blackened brass (oxidized, rather than painted), and unstamped, but obviously (after a little research) nothing less than a .45. He says he called the sheriff’s department, but they said there was nothing they could do. However, should it happen again, we should call 911. (Later in the day, a sheriff deputy, who is a family friend of ours, confirms that procedure.)

1330 to 1630: I somehow get the kids to nap/play quietly while I get some “me” time in. I am paranoid, and look out the window at the sound of every car coming up the road. I’m also really tired, but caffeinated and keyed up. In case I haven’t mentioned it in a previous post, caffeine makes me jittery and anxious. And I’d had a regular cup of coffee and caffeinated Earl Grey tea. It is not a state I care to be in, but I also dislike being sleepy and nonfunctional.

1700: Husband is home. Kids are up and LOUD. I’m going out of my mind, but I’m making pancakes. BEER pancakes! And they are awesome!

1800: Finally leaving for my Ladies Enrichment kickoff in Tacoma, but still tired, paranoid, and jittery.

2100: Enrichment was fun and seemed to take the edge off a little. Get some groceries (child-free!) and head home — hoping that my family is just fine, and they are. But Beanie is still awake. Natch.

2200: Beanie is finally asleep, and I get to take a shower.

2300: Not sleepy. Skype with my dad and drink a glass of wine.

0000 (midnight): Done Skyping. Realize I should probably go to bed, because I have to get up in six hours.

0015: Finishing this post.

I want to get picture documentation of the shooting “incident” — which I’m now thinking might have been a drug deal gone bad. It’s a terrible place to have a clandestine meeting, because it’s so residential, however, it’s also PITCH dark. I’m hoping to mitigate future clandestine meetings there by turning on our garage lights at night. My husband and I have also agreed to get motion-activated lighting for the front and back yards, ASAP, and I’ve talked him into light sensors for the garage lights, so they’ll come on when it’s dark and go off when it’s light. We also need to frost (or something) the window next to the front door.

I think the thing that freaks me out the worst about the shooting is that we can’t find bullets. What did those idiots shoot? The woods? There are propane tanks out here, for Heaven’s sake! And houses in close proximity! But now I’m wondering if someone didn’t get shot and driven off to be dumped. It freaks me out that something like that could happen mere feet from my house.

Well, I can’t deny that I really need to go to bed. I’m glad I’m getting out of the house tomorrow for some adult time with Christian ladies. I could really use it . . .

(And now it’s 0038, and I REALLY need to go to bed. Hoping I get to sleep till my alarm wakes me . . . and that I don’t sleep through it . . . )

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, Mommyhood

Dental Dilemma

Pie had to go in for a three-month “follow-up” for his teeth today, because last time we went to the dentist, he wouldn’t lay back in the chair or let them scrape his teeth — which really needed it. The doctor had us schedule a three-month “follow-up”, which ended up being a cleaning, too. I hadn’t expected it to cost anything, but I should have, because United Concordia pays for little more than six-month cleanings. It wasn’t going to be a lot, but they may have seen a questioning look in my eyes, because the lady asked me if it had been explained to me what the difference would be, or that it would cost at all. I told them I thought it was a follow-up, but figured a cleaning was in store, because his teeth were pretty gross. It made sense that the insurance wasn’t going to pay for it, though. She decided they weren’t going to charge me for it at all, because it hadn’t been explained to me when I originally made the appointment. I only had to pay $10 for the fluoride gel. Yay for no charge, but I still hadn’t expected to pay for a fluoride treatment.

I’m not a big fan of fluoride treatments, especially ingested. It’s kind of funny to me that a topical fluoride product would warn against swallowing, and even recommend one swabs out a child’s mouth if they can’t spit it all out, but on the same sheet of instructions it advocates fluoridated water and fluoride tablets if fluoridated water is not available. What kind of sense does THAT make? One could make the argument that the concentrations are different, but how much difference is there in a slight residue on a child’s teeth that needs to be swabbed out, versus a whole tablet that must be swallowed, or water run from the tap and used in everything the child ingests?

The reason I’ll try it, though, is because Pie’s already developing some little cavities behind his front teeth. The hope of the dentist is that this product will mitigate the need for major fillings in six months. She also recommends (much to Pie’s delight) that he chew Trident (the only gum with xylitol) three or four times a day, especially after meals. This is not a problem — Pie loves gum almost as much as he loves apple juice. Unfortunately, the apple juice has been verboten by the dentist at any time but meal time, and we aren’t allowed to water it down(!) at those times. This dentist is of the school of “volume vs. frequency”, and would rather a child drink a small cup a couple times a day than have it watered down and sipped all day. Apple juice is probably the worst juice, too, she said, because of the acidity. Even Coca-Cola has a pH buffer to keep the acids from eating your teeth (though it can degrease an engine and dissolve a nail in record time!).

*Sigh* Pie doesn’t drink water. He will not drink water! I suppose we’re just going to have to enforce apple juice only at meal time, and then get him used to the idea of water or nothing the rest of the day, but, dang it, we’re trying to potty train here! It’s frustrating enough that he doesn’t eat and that dairy does a number on his stomach. At least he likes almond milk, sort of.

I did have a bit of a brain blast, though: You can buy xylitol at a health foods store (or a health foods section, like in Fred Meyer), so it might be worth it to get some and add it to plain water or watered-down apple juice to create that buffer against the acidity, or give water a flavor. I don’t want to buy “water flavoring” (like Mio), because there are other chemical sugar alternatives in those, and he’ll be getting enough of those in gum.

I know this is doable, but . . . dang it. I can already see the meltdowns over no juice. And I have, like, five cans of frozen apple juice in the freezer.

Oh well. Poor Beanie is currently screaming his sad-baby head off, and has been for almost an hour, because he flat-out refuses to nap. I think we missed the nap window. :\ Too bad my nap window has been wide open for the past two hours, because the same child also did not sleep through the night last night . . .

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, Mommyhood

It Feels SO GOOD!

I weighed myself this morning.

The first time I did so, I was at about 164 (and some change). I hadn’t eaten breakfast, but neither had Beanie, and I was still in PJs. Later, just before my shower (and still before breakfast, but after a cup of decaf coffee), I weighed myself again. 163!! To be fair, it was, like 163.6, but that’s close enough!

At my first pregnancy appointment with Pie in 2007, I weighed 169 (according to their scale, anyway). Granted, a lot of it was muscle and water, because I’d been working out pretty hard learning a kata in my Kempo classes up to then, and then bloating like crazy after conceiving. They still labeled me “obese”, but whatever. :p

I didn’t own a scale for a long time between having Pie and conceiving Beanie, so I don’t really know if my weight dipped below the 165 mark. After buying a scale, I know I had trouble getting below 170.

When I bought these jeans, they fit just fine, so I suspect that even if I didn’t weigh less than 170, I might have been in okay shape and probably had more muscle, at least in my legs. I was working out more then — or at least still taking martial arts lessons once a week.

However, I also have discovered that bras for which I needed expanders before now can be hooked at the tightest fit, and I think these jeans have shrunk since I bought them (if length is any indication). But I barely work out now! Unless I consider that I do a LOT more carrying, because Beanie (who is about 20 pounds) likes to be held more than Pie did, and I can dead-lift Pie (who is just over 30 pounds) with ease onto his changing table.

I think the biggest difference now is food choice and attempts at portion control. I barely consume dairy anymore (I used to have cheese almost every day with breakfast), and we’ve kind of cut back on red meat a bit. It might also help that I have no false hormones running through my system, and am not on anti-depressants. Beanie is still nursing, too, and more often than Pie did (Pie was weaned when he was 14 months, and Beanie just turned 16 months).

So, I’m thinking that if I add working out on a semi-regular basis to this hodge-podge of possible weight-loss stimulators, I could be below 160 before I know it! πŸ™‚

In the meantime, I enjoy being able to zip AND snap my jeans the first time I put them on! πŸ™‚ It’s the small victories. πŸ˜‰

Posted in Children, Insomnia, Mommyhood

Sleepy Logic

I decided sometime early this morning — perhaps around 3:45? — that the word “hate” (which I never use for people or animals — unless they’re spiders) is just not as strong a word at 3am. (I think I may also have concluded that violence performed in a sleep-befuddled state might well be pardoned in a court of law if they just knew why — but, again, “sleep-befuddled”.)

I went to bed kind of late last night, partly because I just wasn’t sleepy, and also because I was waiting for my hair to dry a bit after my shower. I was happily making some writing progress, too, which, in my opinion, is reason enough to stay up until my body forces me to sleep.

Which, of course, occurred half an hour after sitting down. Natch. :\

ANYway, I got to bed probably around 1:15, maybe? Maybe earlier? And was well into dreamland when Beanie woke up crying at 2am. Not just stirring and fussing, which I ignore until he settles or becomes inconsolable (don’t judge me! SLEEP!), but standing up and wailing. *Sigh*

I usually take him into the living room and watch a show (or two . . . or three), but I was tired enough I thought I’d just snooze while he had a bottle or nursed.

We both ended up falling asleep. This is okay; at least I wasn’t fully awake for two hours, but it did make it harder to put him back to bed. He fussed when I put him down, which just about made me cry (inside), but as I resigned myself and searched for socks to wear while I stayed up for the rest of the night, he plopped down and fell asleep.

YAY! This is good! But here’s where my sleepy logic came into play: My stupid cat — whom I really do love very much, but would often like to turn into a pair of luxurious gloves — kept meowing as I was getting into bed. It’s like that Crappy Pictures blog post about pet annoyance, before and after kids. She wouldn’t shut up! And Beanie kept stirring! His fragile sleep state was in the balance! WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT, STUPID CAT??!!

And that’s when I thought it: Hate is so much less a powerful word at 3am, because I so very much hated my cat just then. She wouldn’t be still. She kept making noise. I thought I’d never sleep again! She didn’t understand how close she was to death just then!

(Or maybe she did, because I always threaten to kill her, but I never do. 12 years of that probably taught her that I’m just bluffing.)

Then, this morning, after a couple hours of semi-uninterrupted sleep, she started chewing on plastic, and digging into stuff near the baby’s crib. Once again, HAAAAATE!!! But, instead, I squirted her with a water bottle and tried to go back to sleep.

And then Pie woke up, followed shortly by Beanie. And the cat was vindicated, because she knew that now I would HAVE to get up and feed her, which was her ploy all along.

Grr!

But now I’m up, and less filled with hate, because coffee makes everything better. πŸ™‚

Did any of that make sense? Or am I still running on sleepy logic?

UPDATE: I am extra cranky today, so it was a good thing we were planning on going to a friend’s house, so Pie and his friend could beat each other senseless while my friend and I talked and took the edge off. Turns out, our kids are cranky, too! And we’re all sleepy! So, even though we had a good time, I was still cranky and tired when I got home. My husband got home a little early, and both kids are ensconced in quiet/nap time, so I am drinking a much-needed homemade mocha and listening to MY music on MY headphones. Just for a little while. And reading Crappy Pictures, to make myself feel better about being a cranky parent. πŸ™‚

Posted in Children, Technology

Experimenting

I got the WordPress app for my phone, but I’ve been a little delete-happy today, so I thought I’d at least play with this a bit before I decide it’s sort of frivolous for me. It may end up being the best thing that’s ever happened to my blogging since having kids! Goodness knows most of my pictures are taken with my phone these days.

I do love that I can change the format with the push of a button icon, and easily add a link if I want to.

Blockquotes are simple, too.

Hee, this is kinda fun. πŸ™‚

But now, the moment of truth: Adding a picture! Here is my cute little Beanie Baby:

image

Look at all those teeth! πŸ™‚

Okay, I might have to play with this more often. It’s been fun! Now to post . . .

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

I Miss Sleep

It’s probably the biggest complaint of any parent with small children: “I’m so tired!” If the small children are newly-born, sleep-regressing, or teething, it kind of catapults into: “I’m so freaking tired, I want to curl up in a ball and hide from life for the next decade.”

Yeah, you know what I mean. Just an FYI, I can’t guarantee the coherency of this post. Bear with me while I vent ramble blubber vent.

My cute little baby — sweet little Beanie — has been running a three-digit fever for the past few days. I suspect it’s from teething, but we’re quarantining, nonetheless, in case it’s something else. No other symptoms but the little spikes under his gums, mild stomach upset from gas, and inability to sleep through the night without significant help from Tylenol are presenting themselves.

But, let me tell you, I sure have plenty of bodily complaints to add to his list! My left elbow and wrist will never be the same, from hours of holding an arching, kicking, thirteen-pound infant and bouncing to get the gas bubbles out. My left foot is feeling the pressure of that extra 13-ish pounds. I get upper-back spasms and tight lower back, despite weekly-ish visits to a chiropractor. I’m irritable and seriously lack patience, because being awake from two AM to four-thirty AM every other night seriously messes with my already dwindling energy levels and brain function. ** TMI: Also, sore boobs, from trying to nurse a teething infant whose latch changes daily, and whose jaws clamp shut when he falls asleep. *wince* **

And the screaming . . . Not my screaming, mind you. The screaming at three AM, when I’m pretty sure he’s almost asleep enough to detach him (see “TMI” above) and put him to bed, but he wakes and arches and I have to start all over again for the fifth time — bouncing, walking, nursing, etc. Then, almost like clockwork, he passes out just about four AM, but I have to wait an extra ten minutes or so to make sure it’s FOR REAL this time.

I know there are countless parents out there who deal with this. I’m just complaining because, y’know, sometimes ya just gotta vent or you’ll explode. I don’t cry — I’m not a crier. I get frustrated and angry. I resent it about myself, then get depressed. If I don’t vent once in a while, I just bottle it up and carry it around with me. It causes anxiety and more depression — ’cause, seriously, why can’t I cope? Parents deal with this stuff all the time! Parents did it for generations before parenting books came out! Grr!

For reasons that really only make me look lazy and incompetent, Beanie is still in our bedroom. We have two bedrooms in this house, and, eventually, the boys will share one. For now, I LIKE that I can separate them for simultaneous nap and quiet time. Beanie goes to his bed in our room, and Pie has his whole room to play in for a couple hours. The two activities don’t always coincide, but when they do, you get a blog post! Hooray! Or I can choose from literally hundreds of activities of my own that will be put off to do the dishes or websurf. I’d nap, except I’m afraid I’d just be more tired later, when the nap turned out too short to make up for hours lost during the night.

Oops, rambling again. ANYway, Beanie is also a light sleeper. If Pie wakes up in the night (which isn’t often), Beanie is apt to wake up, too. And be LOUD about it. And insistent. (Maybe he’s a bit spoiled to nursing in the middle of the night, but he’s also still not eating solid food (and has been off the formula train lately), so I kind of have to feed him every time he asks.) And our house ECHOES like you wouldn’t believe, so to let him cry it out in OUR bedroom means neither me nor my husband sleeps, and my husband gets WAY crankier than I do if he doesn’t get a solid six to eight hours. To let him cry it out in Pie’s room means NONE of us sleep, because my husband is unconsciously geared to waking up with Pie while I take care of Beanie. It’s a lose-lose. So, I get up with Beanie when he wakes up, Pie sleeps on blissfully unaware in his own room, and Sweetie puts a pillow over his head and sleeps the deep sleep of the Daddy Who Has To Get Up For Work In X Hours. Beanie screams, and I . . . do a mother’s duty. Bounce, walk, nurse; lather, rinse, repeat; and maybe watch more Star Trek on Netflix — because I ran out of Castle on DVD, and Star Trek has subtitles so I can watch with the volume down low.

I should count my blessings, though. At least I can almost get another three or four hours of sleep before Pie wakes me (and Beanie) up the next morning, and then Beanie is ALMOST guaranteed to take a long nap. And the nights Beanie DOESN’T wake up, he’s apt to sleep nine to twelve hours, depending on bedtime and morning sleep disturbances. </Segue in 5…4…3…> I’m EXCEPTIONALLY THANKFUL I’m not this mom, who thinks it’s normal or okay for her two-and-a-half-year-old to wake her FOUR TO SEVEN TIMES a night to nurse!(!!)

Now, I have no problem with a mom wanting to nurse her toddler. I weaned Pie when he was fourteen months, and I probably won’t wean Beanie until I’m sure he’s eating enough solid food to make up for it. He might be two years old before I wean him. But I believe that’s my prerogative. I might throw in the towel early and trade my milk for raw cow’s milk and formula, because I’m so tired of being tied down and being the sole source of his nutrition in the middle of the night. I understand and sympathize with much of what that mom wrote about, and daytime nursing every three or four hours makes sense — that’s about Beanie’s average, too.

But, dang it, if my child’s not teething, gassy, sick, or soaked, I do NOT want to be waking up multiple times a night to nurse him. ESPECIALLY if he starts eating solid food like a normal child. Children that age should be sleeping through the night. Granted, I’m a lot more lenient with formula than I was with Pie, so I’m more likely to offer a bottle before bed at times Beanie’s more hungry so that he will last through the night; and I don’t always mind waking up just once to feed him, because he is pretty dinky and really does need the extra calories over a span of twelve hours.

But FOUR to SEVEN TIMES A NIGHT? Good grief! I’d be a raving lunatic, and it would have NOTHING to do with the idea that self-pity or guilt makes me more exhausted than just pure sleep deprivation. I just couldn’t do it! Waking up with Beanie means a two-minute trip to the bathroom so I’m not uncomfortable while nursing him, a two-minute or so diaper change, a walk to the living room and a settling into the couch, and a nursing session that may or may not actually result in a sleeping child at the end. Then, whenever he’s finally asleep again, a moment of touch-and-go where I lower him carefully back into his bed despite the muscle spasms, and crawl into my bed to try to go back to sleep. That’s at LEAST half an hour to forty-five minutes! Four to seven sessions like that a night, and I would be in a mental institution. It’s bad enough he doesn’t get to sleep till eleven some nights, and wakes at two and stays awake till four. I know that’s NOT normal, and I’ll do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen every night, and it ENDS when he’s mostly done teething.

To be fair, she probably co-sleeps, which is something I cannot and will not do. Kudos to those who can successfully sleep with a wiggling baby between them, and good luck transitioning that baby to its own bed; but I cannot do it. I won’t even let the cat between my husband and me. Also, the last time I brought Beanie to bed to nurse because I was just too exhausted to stay awake, he bit and pulled and drew blood. I still shudder to think about it, so we don’t nurse in bed ANYmore.

To each parent his or her own, of course. If you’re fine with waking up every hour for a two-year-old to nurse, then, by all means. Most parents are thrilled when their four-month-old QUITS that habit after the four-month sleep-regression and starts sleeping through most of the night again. Excuse me if I look funny at any parent who doesn’t do their darnedest to teach their toddler how to sleep through the night without having to fill his or her belly every one or two hours, because that just looks like insanity to me. It’s insane enough having to stay up four hours out of every eight at night to bounce gas bubbles out of a one-year-old.

Hm, it appears this vent has turned into a rant, and I’m getting redundant and repeating myself. I’ll stop now. πŸ™‚ And I can finally close that tab on my browser . . . But, more immediately, Beanie’s awake from his nap now and I hate typing one-handed. So, I’ll write again later, because there’s another article sticking in my craw. But I’ll wait till I’m a little more coherent for that one.

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

My Weird yet Talented Son

Clearly, this little boy is autistic <eyeroll>:

Sorry, I’ll be riding that horse for a while. The more I compare the autism criteria that the doctor thought matched Pie’s behavior to Pie’s actual behavior, Pie appears less autistic and the doctor appears more on crack. Today at OT, he said hi to everyone he passed (I’m not kidding: EVERY.ONE.), trying to engage them in conversation about Elmo, no matter whether we were running late for our appointment, crossing the street, or getting into the elevator. He gave hugs to the OT staff freely, showed them his Cookie Monster book, and laughed at every opportunity. (If anything, he’s bipolar — and you’d agree if you’d seen the Mr. Hyde routine he’d put on before we left for OT, and then the 180Β° he pulled in the car!)

Anyway, this video is brought to you by the fact that my son is ΓΌber-adorable when he “reads” “What’s Wrong Little Pookie?” by Sandra Boynton. I’m just thrilled he’s starting to love books. He wants to be read to at night, and sometimes during the day, and he’s willing to go quietly to quiet time and actually BE quiet (relatively) while reading his books in bed. He almost never naps, but he actually fell asleep today — with his backpack on. It was cute, and I should have taken a picture. πŸ™‚

I’ll have to try to get a video of him reading “10 Little Dinosaurs”, because that is hilarious, too. πŸ™‚

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

The “Autism” Hammer

I’ve often wondered if the great number of autism diagnoses were misdiagnoses of children who just had a different way of looking at the world, didn’t conform, or patients of doctors who believed the criteria were absolute and not a matter of early childhood training getting in the way of whatever some medical council has declared “normal” should be.

Is the huge spike in autism statistics a matter of awareness (i.e. “We have a name for it now!”), the aforementioned misdiagnoses, or an ACTUAL change in the behavior of our children for the worse (due to whichever popular evil du jour, be it excessive stimuli of our day and age, vaccinations, BPA, power lines, or chemtrails)?

Before you power up your flamethrowers, I believe autism is a real thing, and that there really are children who have it, and I’m glad there is so much awareness and help for it today to make parents’ lives easier.

I just don’t think MY child has it.

Yes, he’s a little wild sometimes; he doesn’t care to play by the rules; he tends to think outside the box, play alone, and say whatever comes to mind, ignoring your questions completely; and he doesn’t hold your gaze for the magical amount of time doctors want while things are going on around him or he has a bunch of new things to look at. But how much of that is due to the fact that I might be sub-par at training him to develop according to the standards, and how much is due to the fact that he’s only three years old?

Here are the criteria for diagnosing autism. The doctor (the developmental specialist at the hospital we go to–who specializes in autism, no less) circled (a) and (b) of (1); (c) and (d) of (2); and (b), (c), and (d) of (3).

(a) of (1) says there is a “marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors, such as eye-to-eye gaze,”–(the latter underlined by her)–“facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.” When we went to see her, we were in a brand new room, with lots of toys and a person he didn’t know. He busied himself with the toys, and rarely met my eyes because he was busy with the toys. He didn’t meet her eyes, either, because, like I said, he was busy with the toys (and he didn’t know her and she was kind of a severe person who scared even me). That, apparently, is what she considered to be a processing problem. There’s so much to see and do, that he can’t pay attention to the person talking to him. I was kind of in listening mode and processing mode, myself, so it didn’t occur to me till later to mention that HE’S THREE. And he’s A BOY. It took me a long time and lots of courage to meet the eyes of people I didn’t know (and even those I did), especially if I had other things going on around me. Goodness, maybe that makes ME a candidate for autism!

But a “marked impairment“? He doesn’t try to avoid your gaze, he just doesn’t look at you when he’s busy. He has LOTS of facial expressions that convey what’s going through his head. And he gestures all the time. If he doesn’t have the word (or want to say it), he points. Then he points more emphatically. Then he says something (or whines) and points. He’s communicating well enough for a busy three-year-old.

I’d also been watching him lately, and I’ve realized that he meets my gaze very well, especially when being defiant. To get the attention of another child he tries to catch their eyes and say hello. Which brings me to (b) of (1), which says “failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.”

I will admit failure on that part. Again, he’s THREE, and we live in the boonies. It’s not like he can pick up my cell phone and call his playtime buddy, or jump in the car and drive to the Imagination Station for some peer-to-peer interaction whenever he wants to. But when the next door neighbor’s grandchild comes over to play, Pie is thrilled. He runs and screams and plays with other kids, wherever we are, whether he knows them or not, and he talks about his cousins (one of whom is six weeks younger than him) all the time. If I got out of the house more often to play with other kids, he would have more appropriately-aged children to play with. But let me tell you: The fact that he’s played with kids who are older than him has led him to be more resilient, and the fact that he’s played with younger kids has helped him be more nurturing and gentle. Just because I have failed to create a regular cohort for him (or enroll him in preschool already) does not mean this criterium applies to him. When we were meeting at a playdate once a week, he never clung to me or sat by himself the whole time, but preferred to get into stuff, play with toys, and scream and run with the rest of them.

(d) of (2) is kind of weird. Pie has the toys he’s familiar with, and he will do all sorts of things with them: Act out his favorite movies, use them for purposes unintended for them (he has a travel alarm clock that is apparently his Blues Clues PDA, and the battery compartment is the perfect size for a broken crayon–that seems pretty imaginative and spontaneous to me), or make stuff up like any normal child. When faced with a new toy, or bunch of unrelated toys, he wants to see how they work first. He doesn’t just jump into expected patterns of play behavior because he’s exactly three years and seven months, and that’s what a child of his age should be doing.

The doctor had him sit in one spot and brought out several groups of toys in quick succession, trying to engage him in some imaginative play defined by her. The first was a baby, some birthday paraphernalia (plate, fork, knife, small dowels for candles, napkin), and play dough. The doctor wanted him to help her make a cake, then put candles on it, then sing Happy Birthday, cut the cake, and feed it to the baby. Pie, who doesn’t do food, just wanted to play with the play dough. If the candles really were on fire (or even looked like candles), he might have sung Happy Birthday and then helped her blow out the candles (he’s done that before). If there really was juice in the cups, he would have helped her clean up a spill. As it was, he was interested in touching everything first (which, for a kid with a touch of tactile defensiveness, is actually kind of commendable). By the time he might have engaged with her, she was already putting things away and getting out something new. She wasn’t even giving him time to use his imagination. I mentioned that he really loves to see how things work, and is very mechanical in nature. I thought that was a good thing, but, to her, it meant he wasn’t playing at an age-appropriate level (I guess because it seems to fall under (3)(d)).

As for spontaneity, he recites and acts out his movies at the drop of a hat, sings random songs he knows and hums tunelessly, and every day objects become toys if he wants them to. His favorite toys at the moment are his hands stuffed into a couple fake salt and pepper shakers that came with his kitchen that are nested inside cups that also came from his kitchen. He looks like he has hooves instead of hands, and, to him, they’re endlessly entertaining. Soon, he’ll drop his interest in those for some other occupation. As I said, he’s a busy kid. (After writing that paragraph, I hung out with him and Beanie in his room, where he entertained himself building with blocks, crawling through his tunnel, and making pizza in his kitchen (making microwave sound effects, no less)–which, of course, he did not pretend to eat.)

Sure, he has some rigid adherence to certain routines and activities, but, in case I didn’t mention it before, he’s THREE. I’m not a terribly structured individual, so his need to have routines amongst my daily chaos seems pretty normal to me.

There is much to his behavior that, admittedly, could be attributed to lackadaisical parenting on my part. I told the doctor that some parental training would probably have to be involved to see better results from him.

I stewed over this diagnosis for days. That first day, I felt pretty emotional and weird, because I was warring against a professional opinion (she’s a specialist, after all!) and my opinion as a mere parent (heh). Later, my husband said he couldn’t see it. Pie’s OT said she could see some trademarks, but nothing about him screamed “autistic!” to her, and she’s been seeing him for almost a year now. The Pediatric GI doctors got fifteen minutes with him and didn’t see anything peculiar about his behavior. The audiology tech seemed perplexed by the diagnosis, as well, and said Pie merely seemed stubborn (and he was less cooperative with that guy than with the specialist). A speech therapist friend of mine has had dealings with this doctor and said that she (the doctor) is prone to diagnose a large number of children who come to see her as autistic, and it would be best to get a second opinion.

So, we’re going to seek a second opinion. Fortunately, the specialist is NOT the boys’ pediatrician. I’m hoping the pediatrician, whenever she comes on staff, is not likely to bend to the will of the specialist or the diagnosis, and give me her genuine professional opinion. Then I hope to get referrals to a new therapy group in Tacoma that was recommended to us by the GI doc, who said they have seen more progress in behavioral issues from them than where Pie is going right now, and evaluations from a local special-needs preschool in the district.

I feel better now than I did a week ago, now that I’m armed with more knowledge and know better what to look for to counteract the doctor’s knee-jerk diagnosis.

It seems to me that rushing into such a diagnosis really detracts from the severity of true autistic children, who need those resources more than kids with mild behavioral issues, like mine. It sours the need for autism awareness when children who really need a little extra consistency in their lives are diagnosed with such a weighty label. It seems that someone who specializes in autism should know that, and be a little more careful in her diagnoses.

But, as the saying goes, when all you’ve got’s a hammer . . .