Annoyances

announcing

The Announcement Here goes round number 3. The girls are really excited.

My biggest problem? I can't figure out what to call baby #3 before he/she decides to join us.

Brooklynn was Beta (for beta release version)

Maddi was Artoo (for R2, or revision 2)

I'm halfway tempted to follow the Star Wars convention and go with Threepio, for C-3PO, (using the C3 for child 3...), but I haven't committed to that. Feels a little contrived.

Brooklynn suggested Molly which was nixed for being too gender specific. Maddi contributed her idea of "Baby". Real original, honey.

So, baby #3 for now.

reflection

We came back through the Denver airport on Sunday, September 9th, 2012. I was in the same airport on Sunday, September 9th, 2001. At that time, I was there to visit Rhiannon while she had a layover on a trip home from a volleyball tournament. I went through security without a ticket, without taking off my shoes, and without any full-body scanning. I didn’t know it then, but it was the last time I was at an airport where the atmosphere of the entire place could be described as casual.

Flying out last Friday, we waited for 5 minutes for someone to use a laser to scan our 6 ounces of water in a bottle to mix up formula for Maddi on the plane[1. I don’t feel one bit safer getting on a plane having had this done to “protect” us.].

I have some strong opinions on the state of the security antics associated with flying right now, and I’m just a little saddened by the fact that my kids are growing up in a world where it seems like the default behavior is to assume the worst about people until proven otherwise.

Here’s hoping that 11 years from now, things will be better.

the new routine

Rhiannon is now in her third week of being back at work for the fall, and we are falling in to a bit of routine. We get up and get ready.

We get Brooklynn up and get ready.

Brooklynn doesn't want to get up. She cries and tries to keep her pajamas on. And then she eats some yogurt and it's all better.

Well guess what, Brooklynn. Mom and Dad don't want to get up that early either. But we don't cry about it, at least not so dramatically.

pretty little lies

If you read enough parenting books on how to raise fine upstanding children[1. Believe me, I have.], one of the things that comes up over and over is being honest with your kids. Sometimes the frame of reference dealt with kids who were older than Brooklynn, but the gist of a lot of the advice was not to underestimate what your kids can handle and understand. I’ve always assumed that I would be honest with any of my kids about everything and not intentionally lie to them. Now I find as Brooklynn gets older, that gets harder and harder to do. We use the term “broken” a lot in our house. Sometimes it refers to the iPod Touch that Brooklynn calls her phone. We tell her, “Your phone is broken,” and we mean that the battery is dead and it needs to be plugged in to charge. It’s probably not the right term to use and I’m probably underestimating her ability to understand charging, but she now knows that when the iPod is broken, plugging it in will fix it so we can use it later.

Lying? In the strictest definition, I suppose so. But it fits with her understanding of the world. Now, what about the fact that we sometimes tell her the iPod is broken when it is still half charged? Because she doesn’t need to watch a movie on it during the middle of the day when we should be playing with blocks or running outside. Lying? You bet. But it gets the results we want and it doesn’t seem to cause her any harm.

When we go out shopping, Brooklynn sometimes want to get in my car. It’s kind of pain, because in our garage, I park close enough to the wall that the passenger side of the car is inaccessible. Brooklynn gets in the back seat on the driver’s side, climbs across, and then I reach back from the front seat and buckle her in. Meanwhile, Rhiannon waits outside until we’re done and I back the car out so she can also get in. And when we come home, the process works in reverse. For a 10 minute trip to the grocery store, it’s easier just to take Rhiannon’s car with all the doors available.

So we tell Brooklynn that Daddy’s car is broken and we’ll fix it later but right now we need to take Mom’s car. She’s fine with this reasoning and usually gets in the other car without question. Lying? Yes. Absolutely. But is it doing any harm?

Lately, we’ve been going through a phase where Brooklynn wakes up once in a while during the night, and since we’ve taken the side of her crib off again, she can get out and come find us. Sometimes, a quick hug is all it takes to get her back in bed, but other times, the tears and wailing starts as soon as we head for her bedroom door.

She wants someone to sit on the ottoman next to her bed. This is not a habit we want to get in to, but she will follow us out if we don’t sit with her. So, if we tell her that we have to use the potty[2. She’s going through potty training right now, so this is a really effective statement that she hears a lot.] she will agree to stay in her bed and wait for us to come back.

I know that Brooklynn remembers things, often for a few days. We are past the point of out-of-sight out-of-mind distraction tricks, so sometimes I wonder if she remembers that we never came back even though we said we would. Sure, I think she settles down and falls asleep quickly, but does she ever lie there, quietly waiting for Mom or Dad to hold up their end of the deal and return?

Yes, we are lying to her, but it helps everyone get some sleep during the night. It makes our lives easier. Pretty much all the lies we tell Brooklynn are to make our lives easier. It doesn’t seem like getting her away from watching a movie to play outside or take a different car to the store has a negative impact on her. But are we teaching her any sort of lesson about not always getting her way?

When she wants a certain type of snack, sometimes we tell her it’s all gone, even though there is more in the cupboard. She will often let it go and we don’t have to deal with her crying when we tell her that she can’t have anymore. So she learns that she can’t have it because it’s not an option, not just because we said so.

We lie to make our lives easier. We lie to make things go smoothly. We lie.

It’s something I thought I would avoid as much as possible, and yet, I find myself doing it more and more. And I lie to myself in thinking that I’m always ok with it.

The truth? We’re kind of learning on the fly here. I don’t know the long term outcome of what we’re doing. Does it mean I’m going to stop the little lies? Probably not. Maybe I’ll try to tell myself that just the fact I recognize what we’re doing makes it ok and that we can change later when Brooklynn needs to learn some of life’s tougher lessons.

Maybe if I tell myself that enough, I’ll even start to believe it.

work on completion

From a young age, a lot of us are told to keep at something until we finish without stoping in the middle. Maybe it doesn't apply to every situation you may encounter, but for many things, it's good advice to follow. I'm not going to name any specific names here[1. You can draw your own conclusions as to who the "members" are.], but one member of our household has a potty in the living room. And one member of the household poops on said potty from time to time. And, one member of the household likes to look at what is in the potty.

Now, if you stand up from pooping without finishing, sometimes poop ends up on the floor. And on your foot. And back on the floor from where you took steps with poop on your floor.

And then another member of the household gets to pick poop up off the floor and scrub the carpet. And the offending member? Well, the offending member gets a sticker.

Like I said: finish what you started. Good advice.

regression

I mentioned in the last monthly letter that Brooklynn had transitioned from her crib into a toddler bed, which is just the same crib without the side on it. And it went great. She was excited to show people her new bed and she was excited to get in all by herself. After her bedtime story at night she would walk over to her bed, climb up, settle in, and wait for her kisses goodnight. For naps, there were times she would go up and lay down on her own and there were times when she would get up once and we would have to put her back in bed, but that was the worst of the transition. For a week, she did great.

Then the thunder happened right at bedtime one night. Brooklynn is very concerned about thunder. It’s loud. Really, she’s very concerned about any loud noises. Loud trucks, loud dogs, loud planes. We hear about all of them. “Truck, loud!”

Yes, she typically places her adjectives after her nouns. Rhiannon and I think that she’s just ready to learn one of the romance languages without having to relearn word order. Yes, it’s probably going to hurt her grade in English class, but isn’t pre-emptive bilingualism worth it?

So, thunder at bedtime. She was asleep. Soundly. Thunder loud enough to physically shake the house will do that to a two year-old. She got out of bed, opened her door, saw me sitting at the computer, and closed it again. She knew wasn't supposed to be up, but "Thunder!" Rhiannon ended up laying down with her in our bed to get her back to sleep that evening. The next night, no thunder, but we went through the same thing. Up, see me, close door. Open door, close door. Cry. Get put back in bed. Open door, close door, cry. Get put back in bed. I would keep writing it over and over, but I don't think anyone would actually finish the post at that point.

Rhiannon finally sat on the ottoman in Brooklynn's room until she fell asleep, at which point, we figured it was just a hiccup from the storm the night before and we would soon be back to normal.

1 am, we had a toddler pounding on our door. 4am, she was finally asleep. The worst part was that it seemed like she wanted to play and run around the entire time. She was in our bed. She was in her own bed. She was sitting in a chair with me. She was back in her bed. Nothing mattered and nothing could get her to stay in bed. At about 3:30, we put the side of the crib back on and let her cry it out until she went to sleep.

The next afternoon, we took the side back off. Naptime came, and this was a small kid who had a severe lack of sleep the night before. She wouldn't stay in bed even though she was clearly tired. We were getting ready for her birthday party and so we eventually just put her in the room and went downstairs. She fell asleep on her own on the futon in our the loft upstairs.

That night, the crib side went back on and she's been sleeping great again. Maybe we'll try to go back to the toddler bed in a week or so. The parental sanity can only take so much crazy at one time.

winter made it

After going through the first half a winter with hardly more than a few flurries and a couple of overnight lows that could actually freeze water, winter finally found us. The rest of the country is saying welcome to our life. I think our entire household is starting to think moving farther south sounds like a really good idea. Get me out of here

Yes, we are all less than impressed with the snow.

brrrrrr

School has been called off again tomorrow due to cold weather. It's too cold to snow and the roads are cold enough to be free of snow and dry for the most part. Not so much a snow day but a cold day. And yes, it really is cold. Negative 17 in the morning with wind chills predicted to be in the negative 30 range. Too cold for kids to be out waiting for buses or walking to school. Maybe the kids are enjoying the extra weekend in the middle of the week. Unfortunately, standardized tests don't get pushed back at all, so that means two less instruction days for Rhiannon in the classroom before testing. Things I never considered when I was a student myself. Of course, back in the ancient days, standardized test results weren't quite the deal they are now.

a needed benefit

Since both Rhiannon and I decided to play in our volleyball league again this year (the same league that caused the sprained ankle I am still slowly recovering from five weeks later), we needed a babysitter. In the past, whenever we've gone out on a weekend or even weeknight, we've relied on help from Rhiannon's family, a couple of her former students, or even our daycare provider (talk about working overtime...) But, with a consistent standing night out—volleyball has become our version of date night—and some of those nights not ending until 10:30 or later, it wasn't going to work for us to be dropping and picking Brooklynn up or having young high schoolers come to the house. So we found ourselves a babysitter.

We have a babysitter. Someone who comes to our house on Thursday nights and watches Brooklynn.

Well, last night, she came over after Brooklynn was asleep so she really just watched a baby monitor, but it seems just a little neglectful to leave a sleeping baby home alone for an hour while we go out.  (Yes, that was a joke. We would never leave Brooklynn asleep at home by herself. We make sure she's awake so she knows we left.)

But most nights, she comes over, watches Brooklynn for a while and gets her to bed at a decent time. So far, we've had nothing but good reports about how the evenings go without us. Maybe something to do with the fact that Brooklynn isn't old enough to talk back yet and the fact that most evenings she's tired enough she wants to go to bed.

And we even have plans to possible go out on a Saturday for a few hours. And use a babysitter.

We found a babysitter. It was much needed.

Somdays, I feel really old.

permanent sensory loss

Today, Brooklynn is 16 months old. This is not her monthly letter. (I do plan to get to it.) I just finished cleaning out her dirty diapers. We use cloth diapers (BumGenius, specifically), and we wash them at home. Which means that we take out the inserts, close the little velcro tabs, try to spray off any fecal residue—it actually sounds worse when you use technical terms, doesn't it—and turn the washing mashine on sanitize.

We have 18 diapers, and depending on how much Brooklynn drinks and how often she poops right after we change her, this will be enough for two to three days.

I don't know if we've saved money or not in the long run. We've still done our fare share of disposables over the past year when we were too busy some evening to wash, we've been traveling, or it's just been more convenient on a weekend running errands not to haul dirty diapers around. I do know if you do a rough average of 5 diapers per day—which might be low—over 12 or 13 months of actually using them, we'd be nearing 2000 diapers saved.

It helps that we have a daycare provider who is willing to use them for us and that Brooklynn has never had an issue with wearing them. So, every two to three days, I find myself dumping out diapers and separating inserts.

I think it's relatively well known that uric acid is a major component in liquid human waste. Uric acid in solid form is urea, which is odorless. However, when mixed with water, it give's off ammonia. Not odorless. Not be a long shot. Also commonly known - ammonia is a major component in common smelling salts.

After over a year of changing out soaked diapers that may or may not have been in a bag for a day or two, I think I'm starting to become immune to ammonia. Not that I don't smell it, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it used to. Either I'm getting used to it or my sense of smell has been permanently degraded.

Just something to keep in mind if you ever find passed out for any reason and I don't come around with smelling salts.

curious incident of the apple juice on the plane

Last weekend, we flew to North Dakota. And then we flew back. We had a few comments at how good at traveling Brooklynn seemed to be, and our standard response has become some form of the phrase “this ain’t her first rodeo”. By my unofficial count, subject to correction, Brooklynn has now been on twelve plane flights covering four different airports, and this isn’t counting the six flights when she was still just a beta version in utero1.

As well seasoned a traveler as the little one is, she isn’t without her moments. These moments are becoming more pronounced as she gets older and increasingly vocal and willful about making her own decisions.

Moment 1: Security line in DIA

From everything I know about DIA, most of which comes from second hand sources, the musings of overheard business traveler conversation, and occasional commentary on the news, it was designed to successfully handle far more people than it currently does. I tend to believe this since the C terminal sits half empty every time we see it.

I also know that when the security screening area was put in place, it wasn’t designed to handle the current federally mandated regulations. Unfortunately, this is the case with most major airports these days. With airlines charging borderline ridiculous bag fees, more people (like us) are going with carry-on luggage only. Taking off shoes, taking out laptops, isolating approved minuscule amounts of liquids in a clear bag and shoving everything plus coats, five bags, and a stroller through the x-ray machine takes time.

So, the security line backs up.

Like I said, from what I know, DIA can handle a lot more people than it typically does, and we generally have a wait consisting of less than 3 minutes in line. Brooklynn is fine with three minutes.

Apparently, Friday mornings are actually busy times. Our wait was more on the order of 20 minutes or the length of time it takes to shuffle slowly back and forth in the queue 13 times. Brooklynn was great through half of it. She sat in her stroller and watched the people on either side of us also trudging slowly back and forth, like beginning skiers traversing across the slope of the mountain, to afraid to pick up speed to actually turn in the direction they really want to go.

She wanted to get out and seemed ready to cry. We let her out. No meltdown. She wanted to walk not holding Mommy or Daddy’s hand. She’s a big girl. Plus, she’s still just wary enough of strangers that we weren’t concerned about her wandering too far away. No meltdown. She wanted to push her stroller by herself. It’s an umbrella stroller: very light and very pushable by small children. No meltdown.

Small children pushing their own umbrella strollers tend to ambulate in more of a general direction than in a particularly straight line2. The requirements of the security line course we sought to maneuver through actually had a straight line stipulation, particularly when passing around the poles holding up the rope. This means that Rhiannon had to touch the stroller ever so slightly in a course-corrective manner.

And Brooklynn wanted so badly just to push the stroller by herself is that too much to ask WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING MY STROLLER MOM GET AWAY!?!

Meltdown.

Face down sitting puddle on the floor in the security line. Tears. Sobs. A minute later, a nice older lady several people in front of us waved to Brooklynn going around one of the 180 degree turns and everything was fine.

Meltdown 2: Beverage Cart

On weekends, we typically let Brooklynn sleep in. She gets up early during the week due to our work schedules, so it’s good for her to catch up a little. By letting her sleep in, I really mean that we ignore her first time she wakes up, wait for her to go back to sleep, and get up when we’re all ready to see each other for the day.

On Sunday, her Grandma came and got her from outside our bedroom the first time she woke up. She had been coughing a bit that night and neither Rhiannon nor I slept all that well, so we didn’t mind the reprieve. We slept in. Brooklynn did not.

We drove see Brooklynn’s cousins and family, who also just so happen to live about five minutes from the airport3. She slept on the drive there, about an hour, and then played hard for the afternoon. With us, she might take a two or three hour nap in the afternoon. Too much excitement to sleep and a short nap lead to a tired baby getting on the plane.

Up early. Short nap. Hard play. We had a tired child on our hands getting on the plane and we were hopeful she would fall asleep with the noise and vibration of the plane. I think she would have. She cuddled on my lap with her blanket, and each time, just when it looked like she was going to close her eyes, the kid across the plane one row behind us cried.

And he cried for the first 40 minutes of the flight.

When the flight attendant came by with the drink cart, Brooklynn was still up and suddenly very interested in what was going on. On Friday’s flight, we got some juice for her. She doesn’t drink juice, as in I think we can count how many times she’s had it in 16 months and still have some fingers left over, so we figured maybe it would be a nice treat. So we got juice again.

The little plastic cups on planes also have little plastic lids and little coffee stirring straws work just fine for little people to use. Brooklynn’s sipper cups are all straw-based, so she’s no stranger to using pressure differential to move liquid from low potential energy to an area of higher potential energy. Her sipper cups are also spill proof, and we don’t worry about inversion.

Airplane cups, however snuggly the lids are on4, still have a significant hole in the top to allow the straw into the liquid reservoir area. When the cup is tipped far enough, liquid comes out. You may ask yourself why any sane and rational person would actually do this when they are perfectly capable of using the straw in the preferred fashion. I would posit that you are asking the wrong question. The real inquiry here is whether any small child can actually be considered sane and rational.

The answer is no.

Brooklynn took the cup and tried to tip it as she drank. Rhiannon held it level. Brooklynn took the cup again and tipped it, and I pulled it back level. Brooklynn took the cup, indicated with some wild hand waving that she was in charge and we should back off, and proceeded to pour juice on herself, into Rhiannon’s hand (thanks to her fast reactions), and a little bit on our pants.

At this point, the juice cup went away, our glasses of ginger ale were quickly finished, and the seat-back trays were properly stowed in the take-off and landing position, and everything disappeared.

Meltdown.

Some snacks, blanket time, and cuddling with Mom, everything was better. She even had time at the end of the flight to stand in the aisle and flirt with the guys sitting in the row across from us. (Hopefully the guy in front of us didn’t mind too much, especially considering he was the recipient of the sipper-cup-turned-geyser event earlier in the flight5.)

So, for several hours of travel, to limit the outright meltdown time to around 10 minutes it good. Seasoned traveler good. Awesome baby good. And everything can be traced back to her wanted to do everything herself don’t touch it IT’S MINE! type of reactions. I guess that’s what you get with a 16 month old.

Irrational outbursts stemming from mundane actions. Well, that also describes some adults I’ve seen when traveling. And they aren't nearly as cute doing it as Brooklynn is.


  1. Has anyone ever documented how less noisy and disruptive kids are before they’re actually born? The differences are amazing, especially from the male perspective.
  2. I present this statement as a fact, but, admittedly, my population sample consists of one child, my own. Statistically speaking, this is both biased and insignificant.
  3. Sometimes the benefits of living in smaller, rural type cities cannot be understated.
  4. We know by trial that the lids are actually liquid tight.
  5. Seriously, pressure differentials are nothing to be messed with.

relaxing (at the time)

The best part of a holiday weekend away with the Grandparents? Actually relaxing because you're not at home and there isn't really anything you should be working on (like cleaning the garage or scrubbing floors). Hiking with Grandpa

The worst part of a holiday weekend away with the Grandparents? Getting home on the last evening of the holiday and remember that not only did you relax and not do anything extra, you also didn't do any of the normal weekend activities. Like, grocery shop or do laundry. And now you will spend the rest of the week trying to catch up.

It was worth it.

caution: this tale may make you lose sleep at night

I don’t typically dream, or at least I don’t typically remember my dreams. Many times, if I do chance to recall one upon waking, it’s fleeting and quickly gone from my memory. I know that there are many techniques out there to help you remember your dreams, such as keeping a pad of paper next to your bed or a voice recorder nearby and storing everything you can remember immediately upon waking. I’ve also heard that setting an alarm in the middle of the night and thinking of something while you are half awake / half asleep can influence what you dream of while you fall back into slumber. Frankly, as a parent of a child less than one year old, I try to avoid being awake in the middle of the night at all costs, because that would mean I’m up dealing with a crying baby.

Last night, I had a dream. And I remember it.

Vividly.

In fact, it was more than a dream; this was a full-fledged nightmare, and probably one of the worst I’ve ever had that I can remember. Maybe it was the sugary cereal that I had a couple handfuls of before going to bed or maybe it was the random thunder that was booming throughout the night, but something triggered my brain to create one of the most terrifying scenarios I can imagine and store it, permanently etched into my waking memories.

I dreamed that I was bald.

(I’ll wait for you to recover from the shock and horror of that statement. It’s been several hours for me, and I’m still not fully recovered.)

As in, really bald. Shiny head bald. (Sorry, Dad.)

I woke up from this dream around 3:30am and slept fitfully until the alarm went off a couple hours later, fearful that I might have the same dream again. People, you do not realize the significance of this for me. This is how insomnia is born – the thought of having this nightmare again makes me not want to go to sleep at night.

Some people think it’s stress that makes hair fall out. Well, what if you’re stressed about your hair falling out and then more stressed about the fact that you’re stressed and might bring that very scenario upon yourself all that much sooner?

I’m buying Rogaine on the way home tonight and sleeping with a bottle under my pillow.

And Jiminy Cricket and his “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true,” is officially on my persona non grata list. No dreams coming true for me, thank you very much.

At least until I dream about winning the lottery and remember it. Then we’ll talk.

pathogenic, part 2

I'd like to offer a little advice to myself for the future: when both your wife and daughter (and niece and nephew) have thrown up recently with a case of the stomach flu, maybe it isn't a good idea to be excessive in your eating. On Monday, when Rhiannon was sick, I had a bowl of Reese's Puffs, a granola bar, two small blueberry muffins, a lemon poppyseed muffin, two bowls of kneophla soup, two summer sausage sandwiches, a cheese quesadilla from Perkins, and a couple glasses of wine. Most of this was consumed after I knew that the flu might be spreading around me.

This is basically an invitation to be sick, and the flu went ahead and RSVP'ed on me three times last night, all about an hour apart. Much like Rhiannon, I don't throw up very often, so when I woke up at 1:30 in the morning feeling a little off, I couldn't immediately place what was wrong.

And then I sat up and figured it out pretty quickly.

Orginally, Rhiannon thought that if she would have been lying down or sitting on a cool tile bathroom floor, she might have never vomited, and, for a moment, when I made it to the bathroom floor without any regurgitation, I thought I might make it through.

This lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of two seconds until there was very little uncertainty where the food in my stomach was going.

And it went. And went some more. And an hour later, it happened again, only there wasn't so much in the way of food left. And the third time, nothing came up.

My abs and entire core area were sore the next day from dry heaving, so imagine that somehow I could market the stomach flu as the next diet sensation: Lose inches off your waist while toning your midsection!

Except the whole part about actually throwing up and generally feeling like crap.

I wasn't the only one that got hit: included in the final tally were Rhiannon's sister Tricia and her dad. He tried to claim food poisoning since he doesn't think all of the food he ate came back up - apparently his body only rejects the bad stuff.

I'm feeling better now and really just glad that I made it through the plane flight without bring up the piece of toast and couple glasses of water I had managed to consume at that point.  All told, it was about 36 hours until I fully felt recovered.

I hope that's the last time I feel like again for a very long time. Maybe next time, I'll just start drinking heavily enough to get it over with right away...

resolved

Just an update to a previous outstanding issue: King Soopers replaced the Amazon gift card in full and I have confirmed that it works. I hope that they got their money back from Amazon. Unfortunately, while the incident has soured me a little on Amazon (what with their lack of help or information), they still have decent selection and prices and I will probably continue to shop with them. I might be a little more open to alternatives.

Other than the fact that no one ever called me back from King Soopers to let me know to stop by and pick up a new gift card, I can't complain about their service on the issue at all.

Now, I'm just wondering how a physical gift card that I have in my possession doesn't exist. Maybe time travel does exist. I'll try again in a year.

from the "karma will bite you" department

When Brooklynn was around 2 months old, she started sleeping through the night. It caught us a little by surprise as we didn’t do anything special to encourage the behavior. We just wrapped her up in her swaddle blanket and put her down after a bath and bottle. 9 to 10 hours later, we would wake her up when we needed to get her ready for daycare. Rinse and repeat for the next two months. I’m sure we were a little smug about it. We would hear from nurses and friends how their kids didn’t sleep through the night until they were over a year old. Oh my, we would say, Brooklynn’s only three months old and she is a great sleeper.  Right through the night. I can’t imagine what we would do if she would still be waking up. And then we would go about our day, assuredly confident that when night rolled around, we would be enjoying a full night’s rest uninterrupted by the cries of our very wonderful infant.

Smugness really has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass, doesn’t it?

Around 4 months, we think Brooklynn hit a small growth spurt when she started waking up in the middle of night. We would feed her and she would go right back to sleep for the remainder of the night. So we upped the amount of formula she was getting before bedtime and figured this would pass.

And then she got sick with a cold. We were on 4 plane flights in 11 days. Schedule and sleeping were not on the top of the things to do list. She just started to get back into good habits and we left for Christmas vacation. Vacation lead into a double ear infection and about the time we were coming off the last days of antibiotics, we found ourselves in the hospital for a week.

Somewhere over the past 3 months, we lost the ability to sleep through the night. Maybe lost, maybe forgot. Brooklynn also temporarily misplaced her knowledge of how to roll over as well. We’re hopefully all these stored memories eventually come back.

Last week, I got around 10 hours of sleep over the first three nights. Brooklynn decided she should eat at night again, but eating does not translate into sleeping afterwards. It translates into, well since I’m up, I will scream if you put me in my crib.  It’s and interesting behavior because she goes to sleep by herself for naps and to start each night.

So, halfway through last week, on one night when I had had enough of a crying child, Rhiannon went to try and calm her down. She brought Brooklynn back into our room to hold her for a short time and presto, sleeping baby.

We have a king bed, and, not being one take an opportunity like this for granted, we left her in between us and went back to sleep. Blissful sleep.

10 days later, she still usually ends up between us at some point during the night. Over the weekend, when we all slept in as a family, she woke up all smiles between the two of us and looked around the room as if to say this was not her room and she would like to stay here.

Bad habit? Probably. Pay for it later? Most likely.

Worth it to save our sanity and get some rest? Most surely.

unresolved

In a time long ago, before we had Brooklynn and before we were really considering children, Rhiannon and I had grandiose ideas of finishing our basement ourselves. With a little a lot of help, I even got so far as to have one whole wall framed out. Yes, one wall, straight line, with a window even. It was beautiful.

And then the progress stopped and we did things like travel and go outside and stack boxes of stuff in the basement. Grandiose was put on hold.

One day in the spring of 2009, we came to the realistic conclusion that if we were going to have the basement finished, we should probably do it before we had a kid.  If we didn’t, who knows how long it would take us to actually get around to it.  Seeing as how Rhiannon was already pregnant, it was pretty apparent that we were working on a limited timeline with a firm end date and the DIY option was not nearly as inviting as it had been in the past.

So, we hired a company and got it done. Would I have liked to do a little more if it myself? Sure, but I am man enough to admit that it would not have turned out nearly as well if I had taken that approach. Between the design and actual construction, it would have turned into one of those endless ongoing projects.  I’m still trying to get around to finishing up the drywall on one wall in our garage that started over a year ago.

While we were at it, we had the contractor wire in hookups for a drop-down screen, projector, and speaker system. Yes, it’s a small basement with room for a pool table or a dedicated home theater room, but we got a bedroom, bathroom, and the option to watch some movies on a decent sized screen.

And the hookups sat in the ceiling unused. Until the Super Bowl rolled around and we decided to have a few friends over to watch the game. So we bought some gift cards for Amazon to order us some electronics. Amazon because, hey cheaper prices and no sales tax. (Colorado is in the act of trying to pass a bill to charge sales tax on online purchases right now to go into effect in two weeks. Make your big purchases soon.) Gift cards from the grocery store because we get some money back on grocery store purchases with a credit card.

To get further off topic, we really have to look at our ability to reason. The state we live in has a record budget shortcoming and one area that is looking at getting a large reduction in funding is public education. Oh, hey, look at that – Rhiannon is a teacher at a public school. My job is still hanging in there, but there is certainly no overtime or extra work floating around like a few years ago.

Yes, the economy seems to be turning around, but it’s slow. What should we do? If you answered but a home theater system, maybe we should be friends. Or go to counseling together.

So, we bought gift cards for Amazon in increments of $100 each. I don’t know how many grocery store purchases of several hundred dollars on a single purchase fit in one plastic bag, but the clerk’s reaction gave me the impression that it was a little unusual.

One of the gift cards didn’t work.

I checked the receipt – yep, it was activated correctly just like all the other ones that went through just fine. I contacted Amazon. The code on the card was invalid and due to “confidentiality reasons” they were unable to tell me more and suggested I take the card back to the location I purchased it from.

Confidentiality? They’re the ones who made the card that I have. What can they not tell me? Would some lawyer-client privileges be breached somewhere?

Back the store. Customer service counter with a teenager working. I explain the situation and show him the card and the receipt. He looks at me. At the card. At the receipt. Back at me. Back at the two items. Sighs.

Picks up the phone and calls for a manager.

Same story, but the manager says he’ll go try to get in contact with Amazon even though it really isn’t the store’s problem. All sales on cards are supposed to be final and Amazon already got the money from the store for the purchase.

Over a half hour later, still waiting. I got status updates consisting of “Amazon is really hard to get in contact with.” I was offered a cup of coffee which I declined. And I waited some more.

Have you ever tried to kill 30 minutes in a grocery store without actually shopping for groceries? At least the newspaper stand was right by customer service; I made a good dent in the daily New York Times.

How do you know that you’ve been waiting in the grocery store too long?

You see employees leave for and come back from a lunch break.

You know that the grocery store recently changed it’s retirement age requirements and the cashier working the self-checkout lanes now has to work an extra four years for full benefits which is bad because her husband just go to retire last year and now he is a bum at home with no one there to get him to do anything.

You know that shipments of flowers from the east coast have been delayed a little by all the recent snow storms which isn’t good because, hello, Valentine’s day coming up.

You know that the high school kid working the customer service desk has a really hard time understanding a thick Chinese accent, especially in regards to sending a Western Union money transfer to China.

You know that the high school girl getting coffee from the Starbucks and talking with her friend would have totally gone to the movies with John because he’s pretty cute except that Megan texted her that John had kissed Katie after the dance last weekend and she texted John’s friend Danny to find out if it was true. Danny didn’t know if was true or not, but he thought that John kind of liked Katie, so the movies this weekend was not going to happen. And oh my god, she thinks the all the red and pink balloons are so awesome.

My advice to John? Deny everything and buy the girl some balloons.

This is how you know you have been in the grocery store too long – you now feel completely out of touch with the younger generation and are terrified at the fact your daughter will some day be a teenager.

The grocery store manager came back and said the Amazon customer service sounded like where from India and said the card didn’t exist. The card I bought and looked and he was holding and also looking at didn’t exist. Amazon had no record of it, ever.

I guess I now also believe in ghostly gift cards. The grocery store manager was even more irritated that I was, mostly, I’m assuming, because he just found about John and Katie after the dance. Katie, that shameless hussy!

An Amazon manager is supposed to call the grocery store manager back sometime today. I got a $25 grocery store for my inconvenience and the ghost card back to hold on to for my own safekeeping.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

if she hits the weights, she could be huge

In case you haven’t heard, we’re still at the hospital.  This is night number five. Earlier today, we thought things were looking good to go home soon. Now, I just don’t know anymore. It’s hard. I generally try to be a little humorous about the situations we find ourselves in during the adventures of parenting a baby, and let’s all be honest; there are plenty of funny, if also exasperating and exhausting, situations.

This is not one of them.

It’s not that we haven’t had our lighter moments. Brooklynn has an oxygen saturation monitor. For adults, it’s that thing they clip on your finger. For babies, it’s a little red light that wraps around their big toe. Her toe glows red at night through both pajamas and a fleece blanket, and I think she is a little bit like a cross between Rudolph and ET’s glowing finger. “Attack of Rudolph’s Foot Phoning Home” or some such thing.

Brooklynn is also the undisputed pediatric wing champion at snot production. One of the nurses referred to her as the “Booger Queen”.  Today, they emptied out about a half cup of snot from the suction canister. I know that half cup doesn’t seem like much, but find a twenty pound person and a measuring cup. Compare the size of that cup to the size of the head. I’m just hoping that they aren’t sucking any brain out along with all the mucus.

Brooklynn has RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which infects and inflames the lungs and respiratory tract.  It’s common enough in children and adults but normally presents as just cold-like symptoms. However, in young children, it can be slightly more serious.

Last Monday, we noticed that Brooklynn was a little wheezy when breathing, but she otherwise seemed like her normal happy self, so we let it go. Tuesday was a little worse, and by the time Rhiannon picked her up from day care on Wednesday afternoon, things weren’t good.

We have ourselves a happy baby, so when Brooklynn was lethargic and showing labored breathing, Rhiannon took her in to our family doctor. She had a very low oxygen level, and a nebulizer treatment did little for it. I got a call at home that they were in the ER and being admitted to the hospital that night.

We spent about three hours in the ER waiting for a room in the pediatric unit to open up. What we didn’t know at the time is that the room would become our new home for this long.

We’ve had too many nurses and aides to count them all. We’ve grown tired of the cafeteria food and the local semi-fast food joints.  We’re a little bit stir-crazy being cooped up in a room around the size of our master bedroom suite for five days.

But we’ve always had the hope that Brooklynn is getting better.  During admission, we were told hopefully two nights. On Thursday, she didn’t improve as much as they hoped, so we were prepared to stay until Saturday.

And we made a mistake. We planned. We got our hopes and expectations up. We packed up all of our things on Saturday morning like we were going home. You know what happened. Like I started this entry, we’re still here.

Brooklynn is on oxygen 24/7, but they do a room air test to see what her oxygen saturation will dip to during the night and during the day. Ideally, we’d be in the 90s. We’ll take 85. One night, she hit 68. That is brain damage territory.

We already know that we’ll be taking oxygen home with us in a portable tank. What we can’t take home with us is the round-the-clock monitoring of her levels. When she pulls her canula (the little nose tube) out in the middle of the night, Rhiannon and I would have no way of knowing that unless we watched her all night long in shifts.

So we can’t go home yet.

And tonight, she had to have the highest levels of oxygen since she’s been here. We’ve been treating her with nebulizer treatments of racemic epinephrine. Today we started a course of oral steroids for her lungs and topical steroids for some eczema-like patches that have cropped up due to our lack of lotion-at-bedtime routine.

For those of you who remember the Barry Bonds investigation from a few years ago: Brooklynn is on the cream and the clear.

She also managed to get another ear infection, so she’s on high strength antibiotics. Considering we’ve treated all her illness up to this point with a steady combination of Motrin and Tylenol, she has enough drugs in her to open up her own mini pharmacy.

The doctors and nurses are still positive that she’ll get better soon and that she is on the upswing, but it’s hard. The pediatric wing is completely full.  As soon as a room opens up, it is cleaned and turned around to the next waiting patient in the ER.

The majority of the floor is RSV. And the room across the hall from us has been occupied by 4 different patients. Four kids have come and gone in the time we’ve been here.

Today was a rough day. Rather than making progress, she went back a little. It seemed like every time she would fall asleep, some nurse or doctor needed to look at her and would wake her back up. And then you start typing terms like “racemic” into a search engine and you peer-reviewed medical journal articles describing a myocardial infarction in a healthy pediatric patient after receiving the treatment.  You find out that 30% of all kids with bronchiolitis (a side effect of RSV) go on to develop asthma.

You have to love the internet, right?

We aren’t doing a room air test tonight. We’re just letting her sleep as much as possible without being disturbed. That already happened for about three hours between respiratory therapy and medicinal administration.

And the doctor could tell we’re getting tired of being here and frustrated with the seeming lack of progress. We’re a little short when a nurse who is helping out doesn’t know how to do a procedure on a baby. We’re a little impatient when help gets tied up another room.  I’m pretty sure we’re one of the longest tenured patients on the floor; that’s go to count for something, right?

We’re not going home tomorrow. Frankly, until we actually see discharge papers, I think we’re done expecting to go home. When it happens, it will be a nice surprise.  If anything, Brooklynn is handling this the best of any of us. She has toys to play with and basically gets Mom or Dad when ever she is awake.

Brooklynn was born in this same hospital almost seven months ago. She spent two nights here at that time. We’ll be here at least six now. And yes, we are very fortunate to have this type of care. It’s hard to feel life is unfair when we read stories of people performing amputations with only Motrin as medication. I’m sure a few million people would trade spots with us. But this is our baby, our little girl.

We just want her to be better. There is no magic pill; trust me, we’ve asked, repeatedly.

It’s about 2am as I’m wrapping this up. A baby near by is crying. The hospital is fun to visit, but you don’t want to live here. Trust me.

Brooklynn, get better. Please.

we're still here

Here being the hospital that is. Frankly, at this point, it's getting to be routine. Even the new weekend shift nurses don't have too much to tell us about. Brooklynn is still on oxygen and probably will be after we take her home as well.

Give me the gas

Aside from the fact the O2 has dried out her nose enough that it has started to bleed and she likes to try and rip the tubing off of her face when her nose runs (her nose runs all the time), we're doing great.

accepting the bad to get the good

It feels like Brooklynn has been sick for the majority of the past month and half and we’ve made more unscheduled doctor visits than I care to recount.  (We haven’t received any bills for these yet; although I’m not saying we would avoid going to see a medical professional at the sacrifice of our child’s health, I’m also not saying that the out-of-pocket cost when on a high-deductible health plan isn’t something that we don’t think about. (And if you can follow that many negatives in one sentence and still get my meaning, congratulations.)) At the last visit, just before we kicked of 2010, we found out she has an ear infection. I wasn’t surprised by this since I was pretty sure I also had an ear infection at the time and I seemed to have the same cold she did. If a tendency to be susceptible to ear infections is genetic (and we've heard it is), then this will not be the last time we take her in because she is rubbing her ears and showing eleveated temperatures.

I had ear infections as a child, and while I don’t remember all of them, they were often and severe enough that I had three rounds of tubes put in my ears. Yep, I was the kid who had to make sure he didn’t get water in his ears during showers and wore ear plugs to the pool. I also had an aversion to swallowing large pills, so I got mine crushed up in a spoonful of Gatorade. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the infections, but I’m just saying, if Brooklynn picks up tendencies from me, we have a long road ahead of us.

The doctor prescribed some antibiotics to help clear up the infection and gave us the go ahead to give her Motrin as well as Tylenol for the slight fever and ear pain. We were told that we should see improvement within 24 hours.

And we did. The coughing slowly subsided, the fevers stopped, and we got our normally happy and independent baby back. Now, you may ask yourself how independent can a 6-month old baby really be, and I grant you that she is a little time removed from staying home by herself and making microwave popcorn, but she will at least sit and play with some toys without constant attention.

At least, normally she will. Last week, if we tried to move anywhere but directly in front of her, like to get a tissue to wipe away the snot running down her face, she cried. If we left her in her crib just long enough to grab the medicine that was supposed to make her feel better, she cried.  And that has stopped. So yes, we saw quick improvement.

What the doctor didn’t tell us about was the fact that antibiotics and Motrin will grease up a digestive system as well. Literally. The first messy diaper after we started the medicine looked like it had been lubed up with a grease gun, allowing the second, runnier wave two to quickly slide up and out the back and onto her clothes and back and neck and near her shoulders…

All I will say is that it’s interesting trying to take a shirt off an infant without it actually touching her head and it was even more fun trying to clean water resistant poop out of a cloth diaper using water. Now you know why we have gone back to disposable diapers during the days until this medicine is done.

And why we hope that she poops at daycare so we don’t have to deal with it. (Sorry, Jamie.) Last report we heard was it took around 10 wipes to get all of the business down there fully cleaned out.

We go back this afternoon for the official 6-month checkup and vaccinations, so we get a freebie appointment to follow up on the ear infection status. And hopefully the infection is gone and we can end the medicine tomorrow as currently planned.  Keep your fingers crossed. Otherwise, I would not be surprised if our daycare rate mysteriously rose for a few weeks.