Friday, May 27, 2011

Five Question Friday 5/27/11

Totally insane week. Monday was pretty typical, which is to say Busy. Tuesday we had our big ENT appointment (L will be getting his adenoids and tonsils out, plus getting ear tubes) and I was getting ready for the last day of school (teacher gifts!). Wednesday was the preschool graduation ceremony and party, plus speech, and I made a cake. Phew! Oh and I nearly backed into my husband's car with our van--that would have been a true nightmare. Thank the Lord I stopped in time! I am still trying to recover from it all.

Because I have just a few minutes and not a lot of energy, I give you Five Question Friday, hosted by Mama M. Enjoy!1. Do you apologize to your kids?

All. the. time. Yes, I frequently find myself apologizing to my kids because I do NOT have this parenting thing figured out. I make a lot of mistakes and if necessary, I will try to walk it back and apologize for whatever I did that I regret. Sadly this frequently includes losing my temper. :-(

Incidentally, my father is incapable of saying he's sorry. He can't do it. Cannot. At best, it will be sarcastic. So growing up with a dad who doesn't/can't apologize, I know I don't want to be that way. If I screw up (even to my kids), I will own it.

2. What color are your nails right now?
Plain, uncolored, as always. I haven't painted my nails in YEARS. I am lazy, unfancy, and my husband hates the smell of nail polish and remover (even hours after they've been used).

3. When you were growing up, how difficult was it for you to stay home from school sick? (As in, did you have to vomit or just say "I don't feel good".)
Honestly, I can't remember. I was a nerd so I really didn't want to miss school and get behind. I do remember one time in high school, I was sick and missed 2 days of school and on the third day I was actually feeling better but I was afraid to go back to school (for fear of all I'd missed and how hard it would be to catch up) so I stayed home an extra day. So I guess my parents didn't take much convincing. Anyway, that was a disaster--after only 3 days out, I was VERY behind and my grades dropped, I got my one and only "low scholarship" when my grade in French dropped below a C. I don't think I missed another day after that, certainly never 3 in a row!!!

4. When is the last time you bought a new comforter for your bed?
Well, I bought a whole bed-in-a-bag for our master bedroom 2 Christmases ago, to give our room a simple makeover, but the sheets weren't as soft, and the comforter kept falling off, so we really haven't used it. (Don't worry, the set only cost me $30.) So our room is still in need of help. ;-)

5. Favorite website(s)?
Oh my, how do I choose?! I obsessively check email (yahoo) and facebook throughout the day. I check kids.woot every morning. And then there are mommy blogs, too many to list and impossible to choose favorites. Amazon, Wikipedia, Imdb, and Hulu = love.

Okay, for more Q&A fun, head to My Little Life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Reviews 5/22/11

I've been putting off writing book reviews for so long and I think I know why: I stink at writing reviews. Which makes me kind of sad, because once upon a time I wanted to be a movie critic. I mean, what better job is there?! Get paid to watch and write about movies! Alas, that is not my gift. So rather than some elaborate literature reviews, here are my quick and dirty notes on the two books I've read most recently.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I loved this book. It was beautifully written and easy to get sucked into. I was worried about what would happen when I got to the prostitution, but it was quite modest, or whatever is the opposite of graphic. The heroine is very likable but while she romanticizes geisha culture, the author shares enough of the negative stuff to see it for what it is. And it was really fascinating to learn about geisha culture (and Japanese culture in the early 20th century). I think that's where the book is best (this is no romance novel!), sharing in beautiful detail about the culture and ceremony of geisha.

I was disappointed in the ending (as I often am, I like everything tied up in bows). The narrator geisha quickly wraps up her own story, but doesn't say what happened to the various other characters in the book. Other than that, I loved the book and recommend it. Two thumbs up.

Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson

I also really liked this book. Unlike Geisha, it is not great literature. It was hard to go from such beautiful prose in Geisha to "just" chick lit, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The heroine is flawed but likable; the island where the book takes place is full of wonderful characters; the love story is genuine (but again, I thought the end came too abruptly). I'm passing this book on to my sister and I recommend it if you're looking for a nice, quick, romantic read. (It's also a nice PG-13, nothing too racy.)

Next on my bookshelf

I've been doing some book-gathering lately and suddenly I have quite a pile of To-Reads. Currently, my upstairs book is Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to stick with it (I'm about 100 pages in). The other day at the library, I found the latest Maeve Binchy novel: Minding Frankie. I'm only 2 chapters in and totally hooked!

In nonfiction, I have two books I'm eager to read. Totally Desperate Mom, which I just won from the author on her blog. And an organizing book I got at a garage sale yesterday. It's from 1991, but The 15-Minute Organizer looks right up my alley.

More fiction waiting in the wings:
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper--I've been eager to read this for a while, found it for $1.50 at Goodwill.
Jan Karon, In the Company of Others--the latest Father Tim novel (a Christmas gift)
Wicked --this is from the garage sale as well

At the garage sale, paperbacks were 25 cents. I got a set of Chronicles of Narnia that I hope to read as a family when the kids are older. And I spotted Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and couldn't resist. Is this a sequel to Tom Sawyer? If so I'll have to get that from the library first. For my husband, I got Gore Vidal's Lincoln and the classic Ivanhoe.

I'll be sure to "review" all these as I finish them.

What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Know Thyself

Apologies in advance if this turns out to be incomprehensible.

I was reading Better Homes & Gardens and an article began like this: "When DD Allen's teal-blue 1978 Scout is parked outside, you can bet a party is going on at her New England beach cottage. 'My House is on the beaten path,' she says. 'If people see cars in the drive, they feel comfortable popping in. It's never really planned. It just evolves.'"*

And I was kind of horrified. I mean, that's nice for her, but oh my would that not work for me! The idea that someone could unexpectedly knock on my door fills me with anxiety. When my parents moved here in November I was clear that they could not just show up at my door. Call first! Even if you're already on your way. Just a few of the reasons this wouldn't work for me: my house is always a MESS, I don't have food to throw together to make a party [though the article goes on to say the hostess gets takeout tacos but makes her own margaritas, so she's not completely an impromptu Martha Stewart], and I would constantly be anxious that someone would knock while I'm in the bathroom.

Which leads me to the inspiration and title of this post: know thyself. It's okay that I can't do impromptu entertaining. No one expects me to (and I don't have any local friends, so no worries). Over the years, I think I've learned, well, to have low expectations of myself. One of my newer phrases/mottos is: there are things I can handle and things I can't. Not that I always know which is which, but for example, I sometimes cancel speech in the afternoon if I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. Maybe the actual timing would work, but I don't want to overschedule myself. I've learned as a mom of two that maybe I can get 100 things done (or more like 6), but the consequence will be that I am cranky and snappy at everyone by the end of the day. The challenge of course is to find the balance between productivity and down time, and I do not have that figured out, not by a long shot.

And I realize (sadly) that what I can handle is less than the average mom. Blame the IBS or depression or just my personality (and laziness), but it's true. Like I said, I do too much and I take it out on others. And there are some supermoms out there who can handle 20 times more than I can. And I'm okay with that (though I probably won't read their blogs!). The point is to find what works for you. And hopefully be at peace with letting the rest go.

* Better Homes & Gardens, June 2011, p.37

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That's Life 5/18/11

May has been a crazy month! Crazy! Averaging 2 doc appts per week on top of our regular stuff. Today was the allergist (again) and we have speech in a few minutes.

Continuing on our medical adventures, we did environmental-allergies-testing today. And it all came back negative. So what does that mean? Obviously, I'm glad L doesn't have some new issue to deal with. On the other hand, what about his "allergy shiners" and constant congestion? Theory #1: sensitivity to pollution. {There's a name for it--vaso-motor-rhinitis or something?} L can take eyedrops and nose spray as needed. Theory #2: we did x-rays to look for chronic sinusitis or enlarged adenoids. I don't know, this medical stuff is over my head. Anyway, I agreed to the x-rays, might as well rule more stuff out. The radiologist got us in and out fast, we'll have results soon.

Here's a question: when we saw the ENT last week and he found fluid in L's ears, he said something like "if he weren't already on Nasonex and Zyrtec, I'd have him take those." Now the allergist has taken him off those two. So do I keep giving them to help the ear fluid?! Oy vay!

This week is National Eosinophilic Awareness Week, which means I should be blogging all about EE. We just keep plugging along as usual. As I told his GI last week, we're doing well with the reduced volume of Neocate (28 ounces per day), we're confident he can get through a full school day. But we're frustrated that he eats so little real food, particularly proteins. Even what he calls his favorite foods, he'll only eat three bites. So she is getting us in (again) for a feeding evaluation. We won't do feeding therapy again (too much time and money), but maybe they'll have ideas to work on at home.

We went to kindergarten orientation last night. I can't believe my little boy will be in kindergarten this fall! Choosing an elementary school turned out to be really tough/complicated/aggravating, but we finally chose the Catholic school. I'm still not thrilled we chose a school that costs money, but he didn't get into our first choice charter school and we didn't want to chance it--we know for sure the Catholic school is top-notch. So anyway, orientation last night was kind of repetitive and not as informative as the info night we went to last month, but the kids got to take a tour AND I met the mom of a fellow incoming kindergartner, with whom we can have playdates and get to know each other before the fall. Yippee!

Oops, it's time to go to speech.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Five Question Friday 5/13/11

1. Tube socks, calf socks, crew, ankle, none? (From@ThisDaddys_Blog)

When wearing long pants, I go with crew socks. In the summer I'm either in sandals (no socks) or in ankle socks with sneakers.

2. Was your childs (children's) name a mutual decision or was it a debate? If you don't have children, do you plan on giving your spouse a say, or do you have a name you MUST have, regardless if your other half likes it or not?! (From @momtodh)

Hubby had L's name in mind long before he met me, and told me about it long before we considered having children. It's the first name of his favorite author, but it's also just a great name and fit my criteria for normal but not popular. So I was onboard from the get-go. T's name was a mutual decision based on lots of back and forth and baby name books and all that. Although really, that was Hubby's suggestion too. It's a saint's name and when he suggested it I was reluctant because I don't like its main nickname, but then he suggested another nickname which I quite like and that is what we exclusively call her (though we did give her the full name, you know, legally).

3. What is your favorite type of weather? (From@TheSpunkyDiva)

I like the 50s and 60s, breezy, light sweater weather. (That's basically "winter" here in Phoenix.)

4. If left to your own devices, what time would you wake up every day? (From Sandy at "Pardon My Dust")

I LOVE SLEEP!!! I cannot get enough of it. If there were no kids or responsibilities, I might amble out of bed around 10. At the earliest. I love sleep. I miss sleep.

5. Have you bought your cemetery plots yet? (From Pam at "Troop Petrie")

No. And I'm embarassed to admit that my lawyer husband and I don't even have a will. Actually we have what's called a holographic will that we wrote ourselves, in case of emergency (i.e. if something were to happen to us today, that does spell out who gets our kids), but we'd really like to do it with a lawyer soon. But that costs money. Which we don't have. :-(

Oops, back to the question. Sadly, I don't even know where we'll get plots. Near Hubby's family? Near mine? Start a new plot here in Phoenix? Ack, not something I want to think about!

For more Q&A fun, head to Mama M's.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Medical Adventures

Once again, I've had a million plans in my head for what to blog but I never have time to sit down and do it. So I'm now going to write for 5 minutes (before Hubby gets home for dinner) and see what comes out.

At the risk of sounding like Negative Nelly, I can update you on our latest health woes. Yesterday.... Well, I should go back a few weeks. I took L to the pediatrician for a bad cough and because his SLP noticed he had swollen tonsils. The doctor pronounced him with a cold virus (hence the fever) and environmental allergies (she noticed "allergy shiners"--puffy eyes with dark circles) and referred him to an ENT for the tonsils. And she put him on Zyrtec and Nasonex for the allergies.

The cold (and allergies?) cleared up (thanks to meds?). Last week, we saw the allergist to talk about environmental allergies (even though we were there about 2 weeks ago talking about food allergies). He scheduled us for stick tests next week.

Yesterday we had the ENT appointment. Good news: his tonsils are fine! (Probably cleared up with the end of the cold and/or allergy meds, I guess?) Bad news: he found a bunch of fluid in L's ears. So he tested his hearing and found a mild "hearing loss." Frankly, I don't think "hearing loss" is a good term, it sounds like he's going deaf. Scary! He meant that the fluid is making him have trouble hearing. So we get to wait and see on that. We go back in a month, praying the fluid has gone away.

Today, we saw L's GI for a typical follow-up and that was thankfully uneventful. We did get to check out the brand new Phoenix Children's Hospital. It was very nice. I was thrilled with the abundance of parking--the garage was a ghost town above the second floor! But there was a complete lack of magazines. None in the waiting area or in the exam room. And we were waiting in the exam room a LONG time. L and I had to practice our patience.

I guess I'll be creating a couple new tabs: one for seasonal allergies and one for ENT. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Food Allergy Rant Du Jour

I'm in a bad mood, so I thought I'd blog about it.

L's class had a field trip today. They went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. A few days ago, his teacher asked me which of 3 entrees I wanted to order for him: a cheese crisp, a bean burrito, or a beef taco. First I said cheese crisp (because he loves cheese quesadillas) and then the bell went off, Wait he's allergic {to wheat and corn--so no tortillas or taco shells}! So we decided I would pack him a lunch.

I pack him a lunch for school everyday, but his classroom has a microwave. I felt that my task was to pack a lunch that didn't require heating, so he could eat it in the restaurant. I chose a sunbutter and jelly sandwich, raisins, string cheese, and I also packed some Pringles (technically they contain traces of wheat, but mostly it's a potato chip) so he could dip in salsa or guacamole with his classmates.

This morning, my husband mentioned to the teacher that Leo could have chicken, beans, cheese and guacamole at the restaurant. Maybe that's where it all unraveled, I don't know. But I picked L up at 2:30 and the teacher said the trip didn't go well (I thought she was going to say L had a tantrum because he couldn't eat anything, thankfully that's not what she meant). I guess she ordered him a plate of chicken and beans and he didn't eat it. (In the car, L told me he did eat some. His teacher probably doesn't know that he routinely eats Very Little.) And she told me the restaurant told her there was dairy in the guacamole so she didn't let him have it. This irked me the most because L isn't allergic to dairy and Hubby specifically said he could eat it. (Oddly enough, L loves guacamole.) But since then I realized I may have put "dairy" as one of his allergies at the start of the year--so they wouldn't try to hand him a glass of milk. But since then we've learned he can tolerate yogurt and cheese. So I'm partially to blame as well.

And of course his teachers should err on the side of caution.

But they didn't take L's packed lunch to the restaurant! I don't understand this at all. Even with what my husband said (such that she ordered him a plate of food), I had clearly sent a lunch box. They even took the bowl of Pringles out of the lunchbox and took that with them, but not the rest of the lunch. If he didn't like the chicken and the beans, he could've been eating his sunbutter sandwich! And they might have noticed the string cheese and thought, "Oh he can have guacamole!"

But none of this would have mattered if I'd been there. Of course I would've volunteered to go too (many parents did); I could've ordered him whatever looked good on the menu, including guacamole, and urged him to eat this and that, including his sandwich. But I didn't have childcare for T. My mom works on Tuesdays. So I couldn't go. And it pains me that having 2 kids means one or the other kid is always getting the shaft. I have a lot of trouble with this.

So it was a big botch of a day. Although when the teacher was telling me how awful it had gone, I asked if I shouldn't have let him go at all and she was like "No! We would've missed him. And he had fun." And it sounds like he did have fun. And he wasn't aware of the guacamole issue at all.

His teacher asked if there are any gluten-free tortillas and I said "oh yeah, he has them all the time at home, I just didn't think I could send it to the restaurant" (I was thinking about the re-heating factor) but she was nodding and was like "maybe next year" {except he'll be at a different school next year} so I feel like that is where I failed. Although, really, a cold quesadilla or using the restaurant's microwave? I don't know!

I said to her "live and learn" because that's all I can do--take this experience and learn from it. Heck, it's what I'm constantly doing as Allergy Mom, trying to figure out how to accommodate the world to L's issues. I think she thought I was crazy, like I should have it all figured out because I'm the mom. Uh oh, I hope she didn't think I was telling her to "live and learn"--oops! But I don't, I don't have it all figured out, not by a long shot. When I first heard about the field trip, my instinct was for him to skip it. That's how we used to deal with these things, especially because there was nothing he could eat back then. Now he's older and he has more safe foods, and he needs to, we need to, figure out how to let him fit in. Ugh.

Part of me wishes we'd just ordered him the cheese crisp and let him eat some wheat, like we do at pizza parties. But we see the allergist tomorrow. And I wanted to spare him any health repercussions. I don't know! That's pretty much the moral of the story--I don't know!!! There is no manual!!!

You would think it would get easier, now that he can eat more foods, but corn and wheat are major ingredients.

Also, we never eat out. Sometimes we bring food in, the obvious difference being we can serve L his own foods. Maybe if we had more experiences with restaurants I could've said, "here's a GF tortilla, have the waiter put some cheese on it and nuke it for 30 seconds." Plus, I'm such a people-pleaser. When I eat out, I hate to even ask for the slightest change, like no mayo on my burger, I'll just order it regular and then scrape off the mayo myself. Okay, I'm veering off here....

Live and learn. That's all I can do. And hope that next time we do it better.