Silly Baby

Reid is home with me today. Wheezing again. He’s taking it like a champ, but we did go see the doctor today to see why his Flovent/albuterol cocktail doesn’t keep him breathing easily during a flareup.

Clearly, he takes this all in stride – as demonstrated below.

He thinks he sounds funny when he’s wheezing, and he has this funny little chipmunk laugh that he does. I wanted to get it on video and ended up just rolling tape and getting a good collection of Reid’s daily antics. It’s perfect. He is a little hamball. Just imagine what it’s like when he and Graham get together! We get nothing done!

On the breathing front, we now have a higher dose of Flovent, and we now have a nebulizer to administer meds when he has a cold to hopefully get his two medicines administered more effectively. Here’s hoping!

Run-On Sentence

Sometimes this site can really get ahead of me. Or… behind me, is more accurate. I guess.

We’ve been muddling through the winter months, as we do. Ask any Wisconsinite about this winter and the answer will generally be the same. A theme of: “It really hasn’t been that bad. Ready for it to be over though.”

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Funny because we’ve had constant snowcover on the ground since January (not November, please note) and the mailbox is looking a little nervous about the encroaching snow bank at the end of the drive. (He’s about shoulder-deep at this point.) But, you know, not bad.

We had a lovely Christmas season. Pointedly NOT a white Christmas, however. I managed to feel slighted. We more than made up for it with a season surrounded by family. My mom (poor sick dad couldn’t come!) came up the weekend before Christmas, Andy’s family all came in for Christmas itself and Mark, Marilyn and Eric made the trip down from Wausau the weekend following.  Just perfect. I swear my heaven might be standing in my kitchen churning out food for people. And so nice to have adults in the house for a change – people who don’t flail about on the floor and act like they’re gagging on poison when I serve something other than chicken nuggets and pizza.

January was basically a giant game of “Which cold do you have and have I had that one already?” We all lost horribly. Multiple times. On two occasions, Reid got taken to the doctor when I thought a fever on Day 10 of the cold signaled some other looming infection… only to be told that it was just another virus starting probably. One time that was coupled with breathing issues, but we were told that “we’ll tolerate a little labored breathing, but watch him.” Like… it’s okay if he only chokes a little.

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I happened to interpret “watch him” as “obsessively and continuously count his breaths per minute while he sleeps to ascertain if he is in respiratory distress”. So, asthma is fun. In fact, I’m finishing up my own ‘prednisone burst’ as we speak for a little bronchitis that I swore was fine until Andy was like, “YOU SOUND TERRIBLE, TAKE THE MEDICINE.”

February started like no February should. We lost my Great Uncle Mark unexpectedly, and everyone was completely rocked.

Mark and Marilyn live a couple hours north of here and have been such blessings in our lives. Graham and Reid know them like they know their grandparents or their aunts and uncles. My mind is busy listing this enormous list of things that Mark and Marilyn have done for us… just even since we’ve gotten to Wisconsin, though the list certainly doesn’t start there. Visits to our home, trips for family events, subscriptions to kids magazines, care packages, Christmas presents, recommendation to a local CSA. You name it. Mark was my grandpa’s little brother. I could hear a little of him in Mark’s laugh. None of us were ready for him to go. He certainly will be missed in our little family.

Mark’s death set me off on a little journey of which I’ll share just a bit. Listening to stories about Mark – who was a social worker in the health field, retired from an inpatient care and hospice center in Wausau – were inspiring. Those who knew him spoke of his presence. He cared deeply for others and made constant efforts to reach out and comfort or otherwise support those around him. His funeral was on a weekday and the church pews were filled.

I’ve told Andy before, but I want to be that blessing for others. I may be very much engrossed in the business of mothering and providing for my little family now, but as my boys become more self-sufficient, I want to pay attention with how we’re filling our days.

In fact, I was so moved that I reached out to our local hospice organization to start the lengthy process of becoming a hospice volunteer. That lengthy process is going to be a little lengthier than usual, because I immediately disqualified myself by having a family member who has died recently. They’re giving me a year to air out, but come this time next year once they’re feeling better about my mental state ;) I’ll be beginning the process again. The disqualification is fair. It was Mark’s death that led me to them. Just not in the way that they think.

Deep thoughts from deep within the snowbanks of Wisconsin. We dream of summer now… and camping. Swim lessons for G. Perhaps getting Reid to sit through a meal without shoving his plate away from him and demanding, “No, COOKIES.”

Because 2-year-olds.

But mostly we’re just… getting along. Which is mostly why I’m not writing. There are days that go by when the TV never turns on. We talk and play and sing songs and tell stories. We race remote control cars around the house and think up our next projects. When we get stir crazy we go out and play in the snow. When that gets too cold, we come in and drink cocoa. When all’s said and done? It’s not a bad way to live.

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Five Years Old

You won’t understand this for a very long time but I dreamed about you, son. I didn’t know what you would look like, but I had a place set at my table for you. I knew that I wanted a family, and I knew that our introduction would change things forever.

I was so right. And I also had nooo idea.

I thought sleep deprivation would be hard, but I didn’t know that the only way your father or I would ever get shuteye again was to teach you how to sleep.

I thought I would be firm and make sure you knew your limits. I had no idea that you would also be tough and push me until I exceeded mine.

I thought I would show you things but you, in your brief five years of life, have made me look at the world in ways I never have before.

I never understood how a mother could yell at her children in public for just being healthy, normal kids. Until I did it.

I have said since Year 1 that Motherhood is everything and nothing that I thought it would be.

But you, kid? You are everything I dreamed you would be. And more.

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Your dad and I were talking about you the other night. This happens on almost a daily basis, just so you know. Once we’ve managed to feed, bathe and tuck you boys into bed at night, we flop on the couch and marvel at the past day (and how much energy it took to get through it!)

On this particular night, we were recounting something that you had said that day and realized three things:

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1. You have empathy beyond your years.

This past Monday, when our Great Uncle Mark died, I knew I had to tell you but I had no idea how I was going to get through it. I was worried that you would be shaken, but when I broke into tears after telling you, you grabbed my hand and said, “It’s going to be OK, mommy,” then you hugged me and said, “What can I do for you?” Even your 4K teacher, Mr. Joel, says there are times when you say things that are so sweet he darn near needs to take a minute in the hallway to collect himself.

You are constantly reading a room. I honestly think this is why you have a tendency to get so overwhelmed when you are around a lot of people for an extended period. You take on the emotions of those around you, and hell if that isn’t a lot for a 5-year-old. It’s a lot for anybody.

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2. You are eloquent, articulate and brave.

It sounds like three things, but I promise they’re related.

You have a way of using words to articulate a thought or feeling that is both transcendent and perfectly your age. Like when I took a blanket out of the dryer and covered you in it. You squeezed your eyes shut, curled your toes and said, “Ooooh that is soaking warm!” I secretly hope you’ll write someday – just because I don’t want to miss out on those thoughts after you’ve grown and left me.

And brave. Oh buddy. I admire how you use those words of yours to stand up to your father and I. Just like this morning, when I was shouting upstairs, impatiently asking you to get downstairs and into the car. You came down the stairs and said, “Mom, how would you feel if I yelled at you on your birthday? .. Bad, right? Well that’s how I’m feeling right now.” Just a reminder, you’re five

Yes, there are times (many, actually) I wish you’d just stand down, but when I find myself wishing you were a little more easygoing, I realize that if you’re brave to stand up to us, you’re brave enough to stand up to your friends. Or other adults who aren’t making sense. It’s why we try so hard to ingrain the importance of respect. But keep it up, dude.

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3. You love special things.

You call them “special deals,” and you live for them. There is nothing you enjoy more than getting a break in the routine – to have successfully negotiated a bonus. Whether it’s something small like two bowls of cereal on a schoolday or something bigger like a pizza party movie night.

You’re starting to see the merit in enjoying other people’s special deals too and getting excited for them. That is a big sign of growing up, buddy.

This year has brought so much more than just those three things though. This has really been a breakout year for you, kiddo.

You’ve started cooking in a big way.

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You joined a tee-ball team.

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You started putting your own outfits together and getting dressed in the morning. (I promise, it’s gotten way better since!)

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You started 4K.

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You, with some help from dad, have started using real tools in the workshop.

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You discovered your love for camping…

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… and for weddings. (No, really.)

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You ran in your first race!

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You started writing in a big way. Reading is close behind!

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And you’ve made real friendships.

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Graham, I am so, so proud of who you are and of this wonderful little boy you are becoming. We have so much ahead of us this year, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Happy birthday, sweet boy.

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It’s What Jesus Would Have Wanted

At Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad got the boys a book called The Sparkle Box to read this Christmas season. It’s a book that has a sweet message – that our gift to Jesus for his birthday can be intentional actions to help other people in some way. In the book, they give examples like donating blankets and food for the homeless, money to build wells in Africa, etc.

Graham and I read the book last night and talked about it a bit. We’ll just say: I think this book came at a good time – he’s definitely intoxicated by Christmas this year. He’s also four, so reconciling Jesus’s-Birthday-Christmas with Santa-Presents-Christmas is difficult. I gave him some examples of how he might be able to do things for other people. Things like helping Ms. Peggy clean up toys or including a lonely classmate in a game.

That’s pretty much where we left it. This is definitely less exhilarating conversation for a 4-year-old than where in the house he thinks Buddy the Elf is going to be when he wakes up the next morning, but I was still glad that he was thinking about it.

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This morning, I had preschool drop-off duty. Normally Andy does this (and I pick them up) but today I left for a work trip to Chicago, so I offered to flip-flop schedules with him. Andy got the kids’ coats and backpacks on, and I loaded them into the car. I noticed Graham holding a note, but I didn’t ask about it. Honestly, he always has something odd in his hands when he leaves the house.

When we arrived at school, I unloaded the kids from their carseats. Graham started heading into school, but he turned on his heel and ran back to the car. “Mom! I left my note!”

We got the note from the car, and I asked him what was on it. He handed it to me and I opened it. It was a yellow, lined piece of paper that had one thing written on it in Andy’s writing:

“Honey Bunches of Oats”

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I handed it back to Graham, “Did you take Daddy’s grocery list?” I knew Andy had poured him a bowl of that particular cereal this morning – maybe we’d run out. He said, “No, I had Daddy write it down for me.”  ”Why did you want him to write it down?”

Graham looked at me like I had two heads, “Because it’s good cereal.”

Naturally.

We walked a little further and he continued, “I thought I could tell my friends in Ms. Peggy’s class about it… That can be my nice thing I do for my friends for Jesus’s birthday.”

“Recommend a good cereal…”

“Yep.”

Zinc Lozenges

I’ve been thinking a lot about health & wellness here these past few days. Reid continues to recover from his tummy bug – which good! Except, oh right, he still has a chest cold.

And fun! Graham now has it [the chest cold] too.

He is also chock full of vague complaints like he “has stuffing in his throat” or “cracklies when [he] breathe[s]“. He also looked at me and said, “Mom, I think I have a sore throat.” This comment, for no good reason took me back to a time when I was home from college for break.

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I walked into my parents’ living room and flopped onto one of the armchairs and complained about having gotten a sore throat. My mom was sitting across from me on the couch, reading, and mentioned that she’d gotten some zinc lozenges from the chiropractor that I could try.

“Have you tried them already?”
“Yes.”
“Did they work?”
“I”m not sure.”
“You’re not sure??”
“I don’t remember.”

I laughed and gave her a hard time. How do you not remember if something worked or not? Mom and I are in full agreement – the sore throat is the worst part of the cold. So how could you have such an unsure assessment of something that was supposed to fix the worst part of a cold.

She ignored my jabs and asked again if I wanted one, so I agreed to try it. She went to the kitchen and opened a prescription pill container (not actually a prescription, by the way, just the container that it happened to be sold in. Sketchy, no?) She extracted one of these.

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Like this… only the size of a milk cap

There were no words. It was gray-brown, and grainy-looking. Flat and HUGE. Mom just said, “I know.”

I popped it in my mouth and held it there. A huge Necco wafer gone horribly wrong. It tasted like it looked. Chalky, grainy, brown. Slightly metallic. Earthy, like someone ground up and dried down a bunch of twigs from the backyard.

I moved it around – as one does with a lozenge – but found it to be sort of unwieldy and obtrusive. I had to have grimaced. Mom said, “Give it a minute.”

So, we both resumed our original places in the living room. She with her book, and I with my twig-wafer. The thing slowly started to dissolve, making it only rougher. The muddy flavor was increasing, as was the metallic taste. My stomach started to turn. I wondered if the sensation was psychosomatic or if there was actually something in the lozenge I was physically rejecting. The worst part was: I still had a good quarter-sized lozenge left to dissolve – the thickness of about three quarters too.

I looked over and said, “Dith you finish thith entire thing?” Mom replied, “No, I had to spit it out.” I sprung off the couch, spit it out in the kitchen and came back to the living room. The metallic aftertaste and the nausea lingered. When I came back, she continued, “I’m not sure if it actually works or if it’s just so bad that it takes your mind off your sore throat.”

“So,” she continued, “did it work?”

Green around the gills and trying to bring feeling back to my tongue, I thought about it and then realized…

“I’m not sure.”