Friday, December 5, 2008

What beautiful boys!

Allow me to brag for a bit.

Last weekend we went down to Phipps Conservatory to see if we could get some pictures of the kids for our Christmas cards. Simon's 9 month birthday was yesterday so this doubled as his 9 month photo shoot. My girlfriend, Christy, who has recently started her own photography business came with us since her eye and equipment are far superior to my own.

Phipps was done up beautifully! I spent so much time taking it all in and encouraging the kids to look at Christy that I didn't take many of my own pictures of the decorations. I hope we can get back again before they take down the holiday decor and re-do the Thai gardens. It was peaceful and gorgeous and I'm sorry we haven't taken advantage of the gardens more often. Jesse had a good time running through the mazes and Simon liked exploring everything around him, including the dirt. Ah, boys and dirt! A match made in heaven!

I can't believe my Simon is 9 months old already! Yesterday I was off work and took the boys to Lilliput for a playdate with BFF (the group that spun-off from MoMo when it went bust a few days before Thanksgiving) and then to the pediatrician's for Simon's 9 month checkup. He's doing so well! He's a shorty - 27.5 inches long - but a chunker - 22 pounds on the nose. Jesse is 33 pounds. Almost time to turn him forward facing in his Boulevard since it only rear faces to 35 pounds. Both boys received a thimerisol-free flu vaccination. Neither boy shed a tear or made a peep with their injection. Freaky, huh?

Anyway, enjoy a sampling of the pictures Christy took. I love them! She really caught the boys' personalities!

It's like looking at a baby picture of me!

I love this one! Dear Santa: Bring me all the toys or Baby Brother gets it! Love, Jesse

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On having a second baby...

Simon lights up when Jesse comes in the room. He seriously almost gives himself whiplash trying to keep his eyes on every single thing Jesse is doing. Jesse puts on a show, dancing around, squealing and giggling, "He thinks I'm funny, Mama!" He sure does. For every time Jesse whips a toy from Simon's hands leaving Simon with a bewildered look on his face or when I hear Jesse shout, "No, Simon, I was playing with that first!" there are countless moments when I will hear Jesse trying to comfort a crying baby, "Don't cry, Simon. I'm right here!" or I hear the sound he makes when he gives a kiss and I hear, "I love you, brother." Oh holy hell!

I was amazingly worried about rocking Jesse's world with his brother. He was our life before Simon arrived. He was our miracle baby, our gift from God. How could any child compare? What on earth were we thinking wanting to have another? How would Jesse react to another child vying for our affections? In the days leading up to Simon's birth, I spoiled the heck out of Jesse, taking him for special trips, buying him toys, snuggling with him on the couch, lavishing him with every second of attention I could, second guessing our decision to have a second child the entire time. He'd "wisten" to his "baby brudder" with the stethoscope on my belly and giggle when Simon would kick. I'd ask if he was ready to meet his baby and he'd say yes, but I knew it was not the right choice and his world would never be the same.

I was right, his world will never be the same. But not in the way I was thinking. It's better. When I birthed his brother, I birthed his best friend, his favorite playmate, his punching bag, one to make him his punching bag... good, bad or ugly, Simon is not only a gift to us, he is the best gift we could ever give Jesse.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Facebook is awesome.

Facebook is interfering with my blogging time.

Facebook sucks.

I promise to try to blog more. I'm happy when I get it out.

Facebook still rocks though!

Just what I needed today

With Simon approaching 9 months and another well baby visit with his pediatrician, I've been thinking a lot about our delayed vaccination schedule. As of right now, Simon has never received any vaccinations. I intended originally to refuse all vaccines early on in order to take my time researching and starting him at 9 months at the absolute earliest. As I researched, I considered not vaccinating at all though I've never felt 100% confident in that decision either. To complicate things is the fact that Dan is leaving this entire subject to me. It's a hard burden to bear alone.

Today I discovered a new blog with some compelling information, some factual and some anecdotal. I've already decided to take more time making my choice as to what to do with Simon. I will refuse again at this appointment and possibly start vaccinating at his one year appointment. Time will tell.

Friday, October 31, 2008

And other fall fun...

We had a few busy weekends! Lots of family fun! Dan's dad was in Chesapeake fishing so Dan stayed home from hunting and we packed that weekend as full as we could. We ended up with some really nice weather too!

Saturday we headed to Reilly's Summer Seat Farm to do a little pumpkin picking. Oh, that place is a blast! We usually enjoy Soergel's Orchards a lot, but Reilly's really does it up right for the kids for Halloween. Jesse went through a corn maze, a boo barn, got his face painted, went down a huge slide on a burlap sack... you name it, he did it! We all piled onto the hayride to take the long ride out to the pumpkin patch where he proceeded to choose the world's ugliest pock marked pumpkin as his very own. He was so very proud! While we were picking our pumpkins, we ran into the couple who was in the waiting room with us at Magee the morning of Simon's birth. Their baby boy, Matthew, is huge like Simon too - and he's oh so cute! He was born 2 hours after Simon.

In case you can't tell, that's Simon on the left and Jesse two years ago on the right. Simon is fully mobile so he wouldn't sit still for a nice picture like Jesse, who couldn't even army crawl at this age, did. Still, it's fun to have these pictures side by side!

The next day we headed to Idlewild for Hallowboo. It was fun! But what a crowd! We couldn't even get into Storybook Forest to trick or treat. It didn't keep us from having a good time though! Jesse rode the Ferris wheel, the Caterpillar (we used to call it the Centipede), and the big roller coaster! He was just tall enough! And he loved it. He's so daring these days.
Simon enjoyed people watching so much that he pooped out in the stroller. I wish I could have worn him instead of pushing him around all day (he would have napped much easier), but I am still in a lot of pain from the car accident. Simon screamed most the way home since it was dark and he was in his car seat. That made for an awful ride home - it's about an hour and a half. Outside of that though, I'm glad we went!
It was a busy and fun weekend!

Happy Halloween!

Can you even stand how cute they are?

Monday, October 20, 2008


Too cute not to record someplace and since the baby books are buried under a pile of paperwork on my desk...

Yesterday we had the kids at Idlewild for Hallowboo. It was fun even though the size of the crowd at the park was ridiculous. Jesse had spent the night before at Jennifer's so Dan and I could have a date night and he had stayed up hours past his usual bedtime playing and watching movies with Joseph. He didn't nap at the park and, while he did well all things considered, he was pretty whooped and cranky as all get out by the time we packed it up to go home.

Dan was pushing Simon in the stroller and Jesse insisted I carry him. I am still in a lot of pain from the car accident so I carried him a bit to appease him then I asked if I could put him down and could he walk and just hold my hand. He whined and cried and buried his head into my neck further.

A minute or two later I hurt too much to even continue walking let alone continue on carrying a 30 pound toddler. So I asked him again. He leaned back, looked me in the face and said, "Mom, I can't walk! My legs are too thirsty!"


All dressed up... and someplace to actually go!

Saturday evening Dan and I enjoyed our first date night since before Simon's birth. Simon had been fussy so we sent Jesse off to his Aunt Jennifer's for a sleepover with his cousin, Joseph, and Dan's mother came to the house to care for Simon. I bought a new outfit, put on jewelry, Dan shaved... we did it up right. It felt funny to leave the house without buckling any rugrats into car seats, but we soon got over it when our anticipation of an evening out hit.

Our destination? The Sewickley Car Store's BMW showroom for the VIP premiere party and showing of A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway. Rick Sebak was there, his camera dangling from his arm, documenting what had to be a proud evening for him. I don't think he stopped smiling all night. Dan kept saying Rick reminded him of someone and I told him, "It's Santa Claus. You can think and think and you'll come to the conclusion that it's Santa. There's never been a jollier fellow!"

The place was packed. Outside of a few directors from work and coworkers who were there to make sure things went off without a hitch, we didn't know a soul. We got drinks from the bar, sampled some hors doe'ouvres from Remo's (who also catered our wedding - yum!) and checked out the Porsches and BMWs that sat glistening, just tempting us to come have a seat. I saw some of the people I knew were featured in the film - Buddy Nutt and Brian Butko - I'd seen many pieces of the movie down in the editing room and on Rick's computer when I'd stopped to BS with him from time to time. I introduced myself to Rick's mom and his sister, Nisey, who I've heard so many stories about over the years.

Eventually the lights lowered and it was time for the movie to start after a brief speech from Rick. He was very excited. And rightly so - the film was wonderful! It was delightful, interesting, informative... I wanted to be sure to remember my favorite part to mention it specifically to Rick afterwards, but I ended up with too many favorites to mention them all! It was that good. The crowd laughed so much in certain parts I missed what was said next! I can't wait to watch it again! Dan, who isn't entirely into such things, had a smile on his face when it was over. Actually, I think everyone did considering the last segment of the movie - what a way to end it!

When it was over I sought out Rick to congratulate him. What a wonderful premiere! Then we bolted. We were starving! We headed to Sir Pizza where we never get to go. We were overdressed but the pizza was delicious and the drinks were good. It was the perfect end to a great night.

It was nice to spend some alone time with Dan. We definitely don't make the time for it like we should. We should try more often.

For more information on Rick's newest movie, follow the link above or check out A Blog Along the Lincoln Highway for fun and antics that happened along the way while taping the movie. Some of them made it into the film and others didn't. Either way, it's a good read. For another good read, here's Brian Butko's take on the evening. And Rick's blog is now updated with his version of the night.

A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway premieres on PBS at 8pm on Wednesday, October 29 (check your local listings). See you there!

Hot Tortilla Pie

I've decided to start adding some recipes to my blog. So I'll start with Dan's absolute favorite. I love to make this without him knowing I am going to because he gets so excited when he finds out that's what we're having for dinner. It's a good wife moment to savor.

Hot Tortilla Pie

Preheat oven to 450ยบ.
Cook and shred 1-1½ pounds of boneless chicken.
Toss chicken, ½ cup salsa & 1 tsp cumin in skillet on low-medium and heat through.

In a minimum 9" pie plate (deep dish works best), layer:
¼ cup salsa
1 tortilla
some of the chicken mixture
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tortilla
some salsa and cheese
another tortilla and so on…
Be sure to finish the layers with a tortilla and then ¼ cup salsa.

Cover with foil and bake 12 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on then bake another 3 minutes uncovered.

Variations (I never make this dish the same way twice):
Rinse, drain and slightly mash beans (pinto are a good choice) insteadof chicken for a vegetarian meal.
Add 2 Tbs sliced jalapenos to beans or chicken mixture.
Toss in some low fat cream cheese when heating the chicken and cutback on the shredded cheese used.
Layer in frozen whole-kernel corn.

Once the pie is done, finish by sprinkling with fresh cilantro and/or ½ an avocado (peeled, seeded, and chopped) or top each slice with some sour cream.

Or make up your own variation and enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My socks are wet

And my kid isn't wearing any glasses. I need to vent!

Ever since this stupid car accident, I have been in a cloud. These headaches are so distracting. I'm having trouble getting my work done, I can't remember my grocery list, I feel slow and sluggish. I cannot concentrate well. The pain is there when I am sitting but when I stand up it's blinding, dizzying, at times unbearable. I want them to go away!

This morning I watched the news to see how the weather would be. It was 69 degrees at 7 am but it is going to drop this afternoon. Ok, yay, I knew to take jackets to daycare so Dan will have them for the ride home. However, since that's what I focused on I didn't have enough memory space for much else. It's pouring outside and I forgot an umbrella, wore classic crocs with the holes in them, never even realized I didn't give Jesse his glasses (like I've given them to him every. single. morning. for more than 7 months now) until we got to Donna's and she asked, "Jesse! Where are your glasses?" I feel like a crappy mother.

I feel like my head is going to explode! When I come home from work and yet another chiropractor appointment, it's all I can do to nurse Simon, muddle through some dinner, painfully bathe the kids and then lie uncomfortably in bed while Simon nurses down. I lie there trying to think of the millions of tasks I need to do when he's finally asleep, but they pop into my head and then they are gone just as fast. My house is a disaster, I probably have overdue bills lying on my desk, mail is piling up on the dining room table...

I just want to feel better. I want to go back to the morning of October 6 and leave 2 minutes earlier or later so I wouldn't get hit by that other car. So I wouldn't have this pain in my neck, back and knee. So these headaches wouldn't be happening. I just want to feel better.

And I want dry socks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friends across the miles

Jesse and Henry 2008 and 2007. Can you stand it?

My friend, Leah, and I live a few hours away from each other. Our sons, Jesse and Henry, are 11 days apart and her daughter, Evelyn, is 3 months younger than my Simon. Leah and I try to meet up midway once or twice a year to visit with each other. We've had picnics in Clarion, gone shopping in Grove City, visited an animal park in Pymatuning (I think this was a favorite for the boys)... It's never enough though. When the day is done and we part ways, it's very sad.

A couple months ago, Leah asked if I could bring the boys to stay at their house for a long weekend. How fun! We planned for the trip and as it approached I can't tell you who was more excited to go, Jesse or me. Staying at someone else's home is extremely far outside my comfort zone, but my desire to see Leah and the kids was greater than my anxiety, so the trip was on.

The weekend before last, I took Friday off work, packed the boys up in the truck and hit the road. The drive was very pleasant once the rain stopped - across the beautiful countryside of PA with some of the leaves already changing, through quaint towns with gorgeous old Victorian homes, across sparkling waterways and through rolling mountains. It went a lot faster than I anticipated and the boys slept most of the way. Even when they woke and I stopped to nurse Simon, they weren't antsy or fussy. It was a great success!

I was beyond excited to arrive at Leah's house. Seeing Evelyn so healthy and chubby was awesome (she suffered a cardiac arrest in July due to an undiagnosed birth defect and underwent open heart surgery here at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh, so the last time I saw her she looked very different)!

The boys were a touch standoffish with each other, but they warmed quickly. Leah lives in one of those amazing Victorian homes... her third floor is a ballroom! Gorgeous! I'm sure it's a pain to clean and heat, but it's the kind of house I love, the kind you imagine what it was like to live in way back when it was full of servants and the formalities of the times.

We had lunch and caught up while the boys played. Once Leah's husband, Chris, got home from work we had homemade pizzas for dinner and then the boys got a bath before bed. They were a blast together, just like peas and carrots! Oh, how I wish we lived closer!

On Saturday Leah made an excellent breakfast of waffles and bacon (Jesse was in heaven!) and later we all headed to a local Johnny Appleseed festival. The park where it was held had a great playground where the boys ran and played and climbed and just had a rip-roaring good time! Chris and Leah took Jesse for a while so I could sit and nurse Simon in a quiet spot. What a gorgeous fall day it was, sitting on a bench amidst the activity of a festival, nursing my beautiful boy in the shade. It was a moment.

That evening after the boys played more outside for a while we had a ham Leah had made in the crockpot (I need to start doing this, it was exceptional) and relaxed and enjoyed time together. All too soon the weekend was coming to an end and with it our time to be together.

Sunday, after I packed up all our crap and Leah whipped up a batch of banana muffins (seriously, she's like Super Mom or something), it was time to go home. I was very teary. Who knows when we will see each other again? The kids will be bigger, different. I missed Leah as soon as I drove away. I wish I had a good friend like her who lived closer.

The nicest thing about the weekend, besides spending time with friends I don't see often enough, was how relaxed everything was. Leah's house is like my own - the adults adapt to the schedules of the children, discipline is gentle, everyone respects everyone else. It was nice to spend time in another laid back home.

I hope that we see each other again soon. Before the babies are no longer babies at least. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend, Leah and family!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Brotherly love

Make my heart melt, why don't you?

Backwards boys

Let's talk extended rear facing.

Jesse is 2.5 years old. He's 36" tall and weighs more than 30 pounds. Yet he's still rearfacing in his car seat in my Explorer. Why? The law states he only needs to rear face for a minimum of 12 months and 20 pounds. He passed that ages ago. Why is he still looking out the back window like his baby brother?

The short answer is that it's safer. By far. Even with his long legs folded up! I could get into all the details and statistics, but I'll let a very loving and concerned grandfather do that for me. Sadly, this man's story is all too common.

This was posted by a grandfather at one of my car seat boards. It is a very sad story indeed, and explains exactly why rear facing past the bare minimums is so important.

First, meet Joel:

PLEASE, for your childrens sake, consider leaving them in REAR-FACING (RF) car seats as longs as you can. Although it is "suggested" by many people and organizations, that you can turn them forward facing at 1 yr/20 lbs, and seats are made to accommodate that, it doesn’t mean they will not be subjected to cervical spine injuries in an accident. Sure, it’ll hold their body in place, as it did for my grandson. But their head is thrown violently forward!! Actually, if you do your homework, front facing children "75% more likely to be injured" in a crash.

I am Grandpa, and here’s my personal view. My 18 mo old grandson, Joel, was injured in a front impact car crash 4 weeks ago. He is a "beefy" boy, weighing in at 34lbs and about 39" tall. According to his mom, the doctor told her it was "okay" to put him in a front facing car seat, because he was a "big boy". So she did. And he was securely strapped in the rear seat. The car hit a tree, for reasons unknown, at city speed limit of approx 35 mph.

At the accident scene, the EMT crew took Joel out of the car while in the car seat and all, and transported him to the hospital. They had to "bag" him at the scene to restart his breathing. The true miracle is that the ambulance was driving by, and some people flagged it down. They didn’t even get time to call 911. You can bet God had his hand in that!!! they were on the scene in about 60 seconds!!

Below are some photos of Joel, before and after. YOU decide whats best for your child.......not anyone else!!! He sustained dislocated top 2 vertebrae in his spine (C-1 & C-2). Some of the doctors put it in very simple terms...his skull, internally, became detached from his body... and was basically held on with his skin.

In the last few weeks, I’ve scoured the internet to find these facts:* a young child’s head is approx 25% of his/her bodyweight. If that were true of adults, my head (I’m 220 pounds) would weigh 55 pounds! As it is, an adults head is only about 6% of their body weight. So, kids are very top-heavy.* Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland recommend rear facing until 4 yrs old*

Look on You Tube at the crash test videos of front facing vs. rear facing. you’ll be amazed.

YouTube Crash Tests
Rear facing:
Forward facing:

See how much farther forward the forward facing dummy is thrown? How violently the neck snaps?* if a young childs spine is "stretched" a 1/4 of an inch, it could result in total paralysis or death.* and this is amazing! There was an article published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) earlier this year that states: "A recent analysis of the protection provided in rear-facing compared with forward-facing car safety seats has revealed that children under the age of 2 years are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury when they are in a rear-facing seat. This finding was true regardless of direction of the crash, even those crashes with side impact, which typically are the most severe."Parents may be helped to understand the importance of using the convertible car safety seat in the rear-facing position longer than 1 year if they are counseled that children are 5 times safer than when riding in a forward-facing seat into the second year of life."

After hearing about that, I contacted the AAP via email, and asked what their position is on this issue. Their response was "While this was published in the Academy’s journal, it does not necessarily constitute AAP policy" and "Because riding rear-facing does provide significantly more protection to children’s heads, necks, and spines, the Academy does recommend it for as long as possible, but the only minimum we have set is 12 months/20 pounds. This policy statement is under revision but is current at this time."

The policy statement is under revision.... at this time??

Do your home work folks!!! Oh, and you’ll also find out that in the USA, rear facing seats only go up to 30-35 pounds (depends on manufacturer). In Europe, whose testing standards seem to exceed US standards, the RF car seats can be purchased up to 55 pounds. AND, made by the same manufacturers as in the US.So, the question is, why can’t we get them??

And don’t worry about legroom. Sure, they can break a leg in a violent crash, but I think bones are easier to fix than a broken neck!!! Heck, it’s better to mount a portable CD player in the back window shelf and let them watch it, then to risk their life! Think about it....their body is strapped down to a car seat that is strapped down, and the car comes to an abrupt stop!! Where is their head going to go? FORWARD, and at a tremedous velocity!! The back of their neck/spinal cord is vulnerable to serious injury.But the BIG question is....... for you to decide. I know you want to see their darling faces. But you don’t want to see them in a halo.

I know this is a very long blog, but if it saves one child...or one family, the agony of what we’ve endured these last 4 weeks, it is worth the read!!

The pics below are about six weeks apart. he was eating cake by himself....very cute. And now, he is is headed for intense physical therapy. He does move his fingers and his legs, but he doesn’t pick up his arms. The therapy people are very optimistic, given the movement in his extremities. Doctors believe it was some compression of the shoulder nerves from the car seat straps across his collar bone area. You had to see those big, wide bruise marks.

Again...front facing will do it.!!

Joel now:

I would like to see:
the FF threshold raised to 24 months, and larger RF seats available in the US.

Thank you.

This little boy is VERY lucky he is alive. This is every parents worst nightmare, and I’m glad that I have the knowledge to help protect my kids to the best of my ability. And now I’ve passed the information to you. Thank you for reading!

Please see these sites for more information:;109/3/550

(^ Recommendation 1-"for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the max weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back")

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here's a classic for you

I shared this with my coworker, Betsy, for the first time the other day and she enjoyed it. It's been a while since I shared it so I figured I'd post it here.

My most embarrassing moment to date. It's been many years and it still stands strong!

My mom is the administrator for a type of welfare to work program. She doesn't always deal with the best people and she used to come home with horror stories about which student's baby's daddy got past security and beat the shit out of the student before the police came, she has had money stolen, been threatened, etc.

My mom also fosters a really bad habit of speaking to me on the phone up to 4 times a day while we are both at our respective jobs. So, to call her at work is nothing - plus, she's the boss there.

One day, I call her at work and she was so short on the phone with me. Usually, she keeps me on the phone a lot longer than I hope, yet she really seemed like she was trying to get me off the phone that day - one word answers, very hurried with no explanation.

A tad bit more background....we were raised to be alarmists. My grandmother hit the deck at the grocery store once when someone dropped a glass bottle of ketchup, screaming, "They're shooting! Get down!!!!" My mom taught us to look for little nooks and crannies at the airport where we could hide if random terrorists just start shooting. I am a cautious person and never really took on the level of alarm they tried to instill in us, but those thoughts are always in the back of my head.

Anyway, back to being on the phone with my mom who was acting so strangely. The week before, a student's boyfriend had come in and roughed up the student and, when my mom called the cops on him, he threatened her saying, "I am going to get you, bitch" etc.

So, after my mom rushed me to hang up the phone without even paying attention to what I was saying, I thought about it for a minute and I called her back.

Me: "Mom, are you being held hostage?"
Mom: "Yes."
Me: "You ARE being held hostage, oh my God."
Mom: "Yes. I have to go now." She said this all sing-songy, of course, she was trying to let her captors know she was going along with them while giving me the hint that nothing was right.
Me: "Let me get this straight. You. Are. Being. Held. Hostage?"
Mom: "Yes, I will speak with you later."
Click - she hung up.

Immediately, I called 911 and asked for the City of Pittsburgh. I got in touch with the appropriate agency and repeated the threats my mom received the week prior and the cryptic message she was trying to get to me over the phone.

As I spoke to the dispatcher, I started picturing the certain hell that my mom was currently enduring and I started to really lose it. They were probably pushing her around, maybe pistol whipping her about the face and head, screaming obcenities and scaring her! The dispatcher tried to calm me, but the ridiculous sobbing came. She put me in touch with the Chief of the next municipality whose guys were also going on the raid to my mother's place of business. He kept trying to reassure me that they would rescue my mom and he would not let anything happen to her.

Eventually, things started to happen, so he took my number and told me he would have to call me back.

I waited and waited - it was excruciating. I was out of control, shaking and sobbing. I couldn't even call my father to update him on my mom.

The phone rings and I pick it up. This is how that conversation goes:

Me: "Chief?"
Mom: "NO, it is NOT the Chief, Joelene! What the hell are you doing? I am in a meeting with the President of the college and the damn SWAT team busts into the room, guns drawn, riot gear on! What the is going on???"
Me: "Wha, huh? You're ok? Oh, Mom, I was so scared!"
Mom: "What are you talking about? What were you scar..."
Mom: "Oh my God. I told you I was being held hostage - like I am in a meeting being 'held hostage'."
Me: "Buh, but I asked you a bunch of times. You said yes, you were being held hostage! I thought that _______'s boyfriend came back with a gun!" Uncontrollable sobbing ensues.
Mom: "I can't believe this. I have to go explain this mess. Go take an Ativan - I will call you later."

That's exactly what I did. Well, after I hung up with the Chief who called to let me know that my mom was, in fact, ok and that it was all a misunderstanding.

The Chief also reprimanded my mom pretty well for yelling at me. I guess she expressed her anger with me to him and he read her the riot act, telling her that I did the right thing and she should come home, apologize to me, and give me a big hug.

At our wedding, we had those guest book pages that ask for the guest's "favorite bride or groom memory". Every single person who works with my mom wrote, "When Joelene called the SWAT team because Cathy was being 'held hostage' in a meeting."

To add insult to injury, the Chief told my mom to come home and comfort me and not yell at me because I did the right thing, she was to blame, blah blah blah...

He then said, "She was really upset. How old is your little girl anyway? About 10 or 11?"

I was 19 when that happened.


Happy Monday!

I know it's Tuesday but I couldn't get to a PC yesterday.

After a lovely weekend with friends (which I hope to write about once I get some pictures back) I was heading back to work yesterday morning when I was rear ended by a young girl in a Dodge Neon. Great way to start the week, right?

I don't know what she was doing. I had been stopped at a red light for quite some time just listening to the morning news on the radio when BLAM! there she was all up underneath the back of my Explorer. Instant headache - literally and figuratively at the same time.

I ended up in the ER at Passavant for about 5 hours, much of which was like this:

Lovely, huh? As if being upset, in pain and alone wasn't bad enough, it was HOURS before I could convince anyone that I needed a darn breastpump! Stupid asses acted like I was asking for an extra pillow every time I told them I desperately needed one. So frustrating!

I spent the rest of my day on the phone with insurance companies learning about how the whole messed up system works. Medical covered by this company until it runs out, vehicle covered by this company, personal property covered to a certain amount by these guys and then maybe the extra covered by these guys... blah blah blah. What a pain!

Speaking of pain. Can I just complain here? I am eternally grateful my sweet boys weren't in the truck with me. I had dropped them off at daycare mere minutes before the accident. I am glad no one was seriously injured, that the girl wasn't going faster, that it wasn't a dump truck instead of a Neon... But I still need to complain. I hurt. Bad. My neck is so stiff and stabs me when I move it. My shoulder alternates between feeling like someone is pouring ice water down it to feeling like someone is scalding me. My lower back is tight and stiff. My left knee is in pain for some reason and both legs are stiff. This really sucks.

Bathing the boys last night was painful! I'm not allowed to go to the gym for a week or so. I slept like crap. And the headache. My goodness, the headache! I just want to go back to bed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Get off your butt and move!!!

I joined a gym last month. It was time. If I can't diet or reign in this voracious appetite I have while nursing, then I need to move more to make up for the fact that I eat everything that's not nailed down.

Beth and I shopped a few gyms and decided to return to Club Julian. I had been a member there in 2004-2005 and stopped going when I was pregnant with Jesse. It's been a few years and more than a few pounds since I stepped foot in a fitness facility.

Pregnancy and childbirth really take a toll on a woman's body and I feel like they've taken a huge toll on me. I was in physical therapy at UPMC's South Side facility for a few months after Jesse's birth to rebuild core muscles and regain strength in my extremities. After being on bedrest and restricted activity before and after his birth, I was a hot mess! PT helped so much.

This time around I am not as bad off but I desperately need to strengthen and build up my stamina. I am not interested (right now) in dropping pants sizes or being some MILF, I just want to be healthy and active for my boys.

Antonio, my trainer, got me started on a routine and I've actually been able to pump it up from his original plan pretty early on. I usually start by stretching on the (awesome) stretching machines, then I warm up on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes. I am able to do inclines and speeds I wasn't able to do until I was ready to graduate from PT last time so I take that as a very good sign! Off to the circuit training from there. Legs, arms, abs and back. I've modified some of Antonio's exercises to make them more "chiropractor-approved" after Dr. Brian made that frowny face he makes when I described what exercises I was doing. No more ab or back machine exercises, it's all on the floor or on the ball. I cool down on the track, stretch on the machines again and head home!

It's been going well. I've been able to get my routine to fit into an hour and a half so I can be home by 6:30 to nurse Simon. Dan's been great about getting the kids and starting dinner every Tuesday and Thursday since the start of September. I really hoped to work a third day into my schedule and take a fun class on Saturday or Sunday but so far that hasn't happened yet.

Last week I was on my way to the gym from work and I really just didn't feel like going. It would be so easy to turn up Seventh Street and head home to my boys instead. I remembered I had a class schedule in my bag so I looked to see what was offered at that time of day. Zumba. 5-6. I perked up a bit.

I had heard of Zumba a few times. My mother-in-law said something about it once and I saw a short segment with some overly peppy chick on the Jennifer Antkowiak show (No, I don't watch the Jennifer show! It's filmed here at work though so sometimes I come into contact with it when I choose not to.). It looked a little neat since I do love all things Latin (Hello! Gipsy Kings, anyone??? LOVE them!). But it was all in passing and I never gave it a second thought.

Anyway, I decided to try it out. Worst case scenario I hated it and wouldn't come back. While waiting for the class to start I met Mandy, a very tan and peppy girl who told me what to expect in the class, the difference between the two instructors, etc. She's a really nice girl.

So into Zumba I ventured. Within 10 minutes I was sweating and all red in the face. I looked at the clock on the wall and couldn't believe I had to do this for 50 more minutes! There was no way I'd ever make it!

Then the music got a hold of me. Goodness, I love Latin music! Gets me every time! I tripped through salsas, merengues and cumbias, usually moving the opposite way as the class and finding the entire class facing me more than one time when I didn't realize I was supposed to be turning around.

And then the music stopped. It had been a full hour! And I was disappointed it was over. I wanted more! Me! Joelene. Fat Ass Extraordinaire. I wanted to exercise more!

I haven't done my circuit training since. I know! I know! I should mix it up and do my strength training also. Afterall, isn't strength training the reason I joined the gym in the first place? But I love the Zumba far too much. And I figure I should do what I love because anything is better than nothing.

I Zumba'ed last night and I'll be back tomorrow evening too. In my defense, I am checking out other classes like kickboxing, water aerobics, yoga, pilates...

But for now? I'm going to Zumba, baby! ¡Me gusta Zumba!

Little Four Eyes

A friend sent me a link this morning to an optometrist's blog that revolves around babies and small children and their eye health. It's a great read, very informative.

Little Four Eyes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shhhhh, don't tell the truck!

I just paid off my Explorer. I called the credit union to get the amount of my last payment due October 31 and they reminded me that I have shares in my savings there as collateral for that loan so I just had them draft the last payment from that. Ta da! No more Explorer payment! With two in daycare sucking the money out of our checking faster than we can get it in there, that $328 will come in handy. Won't pay for the daycare (not by a long shot), but it won't hurt freeing that up!

Now, just don't tell the Explorer. It's bound to shit itself as soon as it knows it's paid off. So it will be our little secret.

I love this video!

Someone posted this on my mom's group board yesterday and I just can't stop watching it! I love how normalized breastfeeding is that there's a commercial for it, that it's open and free, that it's not just infants but toddlers and older children also. Oh, if only the US looked at breastfeeding this way!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can I get a "Holy Cow!!!"????

10,000 ounces.

That's how much milk I have pumped thus far. In fact, I reached that milestone a few squirts ago as I am pumping as I type this entry.

Jesse will turn 2.5 years old tomorrow. I started pumping on his birth day, March 18, 2006. His was a rough entry into this world and he was quickly whisked away from me (before I even laid eyes on his beautiful face) and taken to the NICU. Once I finally stopped bleeding enough to be released from Recovery and taken to the Special Care unit at Magee, I was greeted by a wonderful nurse who reminded me somewhat of Dan's Aunt Debbie by the way she talked and her mannerisms. She asked how long ago my baby was born and if I was able to nurse him at all. I told her he had been born 11 hours earlier and I had never even seen him. She left the room for a minute and came back with a Medela Symphony on a wheeled stand and told me I had to start pumping immediately. And that's how it all began.

I pumped for Jesse and my colostrum was fed to him in his bottles of formula in the NICU. On his fifth day of life I was able to attempt to put him to breast. Of course, by that point he wanted easy food from that dummy nipple so it wasn't smooth sailing for us. But with the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, Diana Jordan, who came to our home once he was released from the NICU and worked with us one on one, we got him to take the breast eventually. I pumped and bottle fed him for a while though until he figured it out. (Major props go out to all those moms who exclusively pump for their babies for one reason or another. I have EPed for a couple months total between my two boys and I cannot imagine doing it long term. A special shout out to my friend, Betsy, who pumped for her twin girls for 21 months. She rocks something fierce!) After Jesse got it, I still had to pump for relief since I was graced with a raging oversupply of milk. I had mastitis twice, recurring painful clogged ducts, blebs, leaking, spraying wasn't able to feed my baby in public for fear of showering everyone in a six foot area with my own liquid gold...

Once I returned to work, I didn't mind pumping for my special boy. It was a way to feel like I was doing something for him while we were apart, a way to feel connected. With all my milk though, I had more than Jesse could ever take and through the Yahoo MilkShare group I was able to find a local family whose mama was unable to make enough milk for her baby. I donated about 1,200 ounces to Melissa and Gabe in the fall/winter of 2006/2007.

As Jesse grew and got more into solid foods, I was able to decrease my frequency of pumping at work. When he was 11.5 months old I was able to go from pumping every 3 hours to pumping every 4 hours. Then when he was 14 months old I went down to pumping once a day at work. By the time he was 16 months old and I was a few months pregnant with Simon, my milk supply had diminished enough that I was comfortable not pumping at all while away from him for the day. He still took my breastmilk (from my ample freezer stash) in a cup at daycare until he was almost 21 months old.

With Simon's birth being a (mandatory) repeat cesarean, scheduled and controlled, I always thought he would just come out ready to nurse and I planned to do so as soon as I was able to in Recovery. We tried and tried but the poor boy couldn't latch effectively. He would try to suckle but his mouth was so small and his tongue would just push my nipple out again. We were both very frustrated. Even more frustrating was how long it took to get a lactation consultant to see me in the hospital. When one finally came, I got set up with a pump again.

Again, back to see Diana (this time at the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh) and again back to pumping. I used syringes and finger fed him while trying to latch him along the way for a month until he latched and ate one day when I attempted (oh the tears of joy!!!). After I was sure he could sustain himself by breastfeeding exclusively, I tossed the syringes and packed up the pump. I had already built a stash of milk in the freezer since I was graced with an oversupply again this time around, so I had no need to pump until I came back to work.

Simon's demand for milk wasn't as great as Jesse's and my oversupply isn't as raging this time around (thanks to sage tea) so I was able to go to pumping every 4 hours from every 3 hours by the time Simon was 4 months old. I like this schedule a lot better, pumping at 10 am and 2 pm each day instead of 9, 12 and 3.

I am getting ready to donate milk again, this time to Jo and her twin preemie girls. I hope that I am able to help them out for a while and not just make the one donation.

Someday Simon will start solids and need my milk less and less while we are apart. I pray he continues to want to nurse into his third year (and beyond) like his older brother has, but I admit that I will not miss this darn pump when it's time for me to hang up my horns for good! No scheduling around pump times, no tingly hot feeling when I have to push a session back, no more cow sign on my door of my office, hauling expressed milk back and forth to the fridge, mentally figuring warm storage time and how many more ounces I need to make this week's bottles, spending $10 every couple weeks at work for Lansinoh freezer bags...

In the meantime, I'll keep updating my spreadsheet so I know what's in my inventory at all times. I'll keep pumping as many times a day as Simon requires me to. And I'll keep adding to my 10,000 ounces.

Holy cow, indeed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My guardian angel in a big yellow school bus

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sir!

On my way across Liberty Avenue this morning in Bloomfield to get, what else?, a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, I crossed between a big yellow school bus and the 54 Chicken. I made eye contact with the school bus driver to make sure he saw me so he didn't creep up on the PAT bus too closely. It was gridlock and no one was going anyplace, just me happily on my way for a treat!

Beep, beep... beepbeepbeepbeep! The school bus driver started honking while I was crossing right in front of him. What the heck? I don't know this guy, surely he's not a stickler for reprimanding jaywalkers, he can't be beeping at the PAT bus driver in front of him. I paused to look up at him as I slowed my pace.

BIG WHITE FLASH! Right in front of my face. Not 4 inches in front of me. Some jackass in a white van flew down the side of the road between the school bus and the curb. Apparently, where this guy had to be (later discovered to be into the Sunoco for a pack of smokes) was extremely important.

You know how you hear a tragic story about an 83 year old female pedestrian hit by a vehicle in the Strip and think hard about the intersection where it happened and wonder how a tragedy like that unfolded? Yeah, this is exactly how it happens.

Had that bus driver not seen that van coming in his side mirror or had he not made the connection between me and the connection that was about to happen between me and that van's grill, I would have been toast. Toast, I say.

Once I caught my breath and hurried onto the curb, I was shaken. All I could do before ducking into Starbucks was turn around, point at the school bus driver and mouth "Thank you" while patting my chest where my (still beating) heart lie.

So to the vigilant black man in a red t-shirt who was driving a big yellow school bus at Liberty and South Mathilda in Bloomfield around 8 this morning... thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. You're an angel.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Poor Bub

Poor little Simon. Tonight was his first ER visit. His first ear infection. When I went to dry him off after his bath and he screamed bloody murder when I touched his left ear, I knew it. We took him into Passavant to have it confirmed though. With the wind from Ike blasting the 'Burgh, they were swamped. And with us going in outside of regular channels, we expected a bit of a wait. Luckily the whole thing took a touch less than 3 hours and we were able to be on our way about a half hour after the entire North Hills lost power (including the hospital - very eerie, indeed).

Dr. S was a saint to take his time to see Simon under the table. He did a full examination and confirmed that the left ear is red and inflamed, no fluid yet though. He promptly wrote a script for amoxicillin. We thanked him profusely, thanked the nurses who came to coo over Simon, and went on our way.

By this age, Jesse had already had 2 or 3 ear infections. Not knowing any better, we filled the amoxicillin every time... until it stopped working. Then we filled the next antibiotic. Then the next. Then we dealt with the runny diapers, the raw behind, the resulting impetigo on his bum (which the ped wanted to treat with yet more antibiotics!). Eventually, I had an aha! moment. There had to be a better way.

I started taking Jesse to my chiropractor. Dr. Brian helped align his neck and voila, no more ear infections! Not a one. Not even a hint since he started seeing Dr. Brian.

I've still got the script from Dr. S. But I'm not filling it. We're going to take the "wait and see" approach. Simon will see Dr. Brian tomorrow. If I can't find some garlic mullein oil, I'll make it. Well, I'll at least make garlic oil since finding herbs in Pittsburgh is like finding a snowsuit in Arizona in July. But I'll see what I can do. Then we'll go back to the pediatrician later in the week to see how his ears are doing.

In the meantime, extra snuggles and lots of nursing. My poor little bub.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good and Bad

Today is a good day. And it's a bad day in other ways.

First the bad. Does anyone else wish we could just skip from September 10 to September 12? We need to remember and never forget the tragedy that occurred 7 years ago today. But I get a pit in my stomach and can't shake the sadness that surrounds everything 9-11 related. I don't want to remember where I was when I heard that a plane struck the WTC or the feeling I had when I heard a second one hit and I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was no way it was accidental. I don't want to recall hearing the 911 calls coming in from Flight 93 and wondering how those people felt or how their families handled receiving those final phone calls. I don't want to remember watching the news, the disgusting news that we somehow could not tear ourselves away from all night, seeing people leaping to their deaths. I don't want to think too much about the widows and children of the 343 fallen firefighters and how their lives were shattered that day or about Father Mychal Judge, a hero in so many ways.

But I have to. We all have to. For the rest of our lives we have to remember. And we have to make sure our children learn and know so that they can remember for us when we are gone. We can never forget. As bad as it feels to remember, we can never let ourselves forget.

Now, on an entirely different note... the good.

It's about time! It's not without its faults, but Pennsylvania's statewide smoking ban went into effect at midnight. Hallelujah!

Can it be? Is it true? Will we be able to patronize the Cranberry King's Family Restaurant without walking through a cloud of thick smoke from the old men sitting at the counter in the front of the restaurant?

Finally! A choice! We can choose to stick to places that aren't flat-out bars. Since a business with gross revenues of more than 20% from food is effected by this ban, we would seriously have to go to a straight up bar to be surrounded by cigarette smoke. With two little ones and our nights of clubbing at Jimmy D's on the South Side far behind us, it's very unlikely we will be barhopping anytime soon. Still we should be able to sit at the bar at our favorite restaurants while waiting for a table without choking to death from the Marlboro Red that Smokey Joe on the next stool is "enjoying."

Aaaaaaaaah! That was me, breathing a breath of fresh air!

Now, when will PA make it illegal to smoke on the sidewalk? Or in your car? Oh, I know, I know, smokers have rights! Yeah, whatever! I can't wait to sit in traffic or walk down the street without a chance of catching that whiff. It will likely never happen without tobacco becoming illegal (and with Big Tobacco's hands in the pot in so many places these days shyeah like that will happen!), but one can dream!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

That was rough!

What's worse than one sick kid? Two sick kids.

What's worse than two sick kids? Being sick at the same time.

That was not fun. Luckily, both my babies are feeling better now and I am back to work. Poor little peanuts. They are both troupers. Jesse wasn't as bad as Simon (though there was a pretty nasty poop episode resulting in poopy footprints all through my kitchen) and Simon smiles through everything even when he's sporting a fever and utterly miserable.

Maybe our immune systems got a little boost that will see us through the winter. One can hope.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My little daredevil!

We took the kids to the Stoneboro Fair over Labor Day weekend. Jesse had a great time! He rode the motorcycles (over and over), sat on tractors, checked out farm-grown fruits and vegetables, liked the cows and pigs... It was a good time. Simon liked watching people and stopping every hour and a half to nurse. Darn 6 month growth spurt!

When we spotted the bungie jump, we weren't sure if Jesse would A) be big enough to go on it (he was too short for the little kid swings) or B) want to go on it. But he was all smiles as we stood in line watching the other (older) kids and adults take their turns. Then it was his turn. He loved it! I'll let the video do the talking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quiet! We're hunting puddles!

My poor, sweet boy.

Jesse had an extremely rough day at daycare today. When I got home and Dan filled me in on what happened, I knew I needed to get Jesse out and spend some one-on-one time with him. Immediately after Simon was born, I made time like this a priority. But in the past few months, since Jesse has transitioned so well to Simon's arrival, I've let it fall by the wayside.

I nursed Simon and then asked Dan to take him for a bit. It was raining so I had the perfect activity for my special boy and I to do. He was already wearing his yellow rain boots, his "work boots" as he calls them. So I told him to come to the front hall closet with me. When I pulled out his matching rain coat, he knew what was up. "My prize? What's my prize, Mama?" he kept giggling as I helped him dress, playing like he didn't know what the surprise was.

Out we headed. Out into the street. Holding hands and talking as we walked along. "We're hunting puddles!" he squealed. "We're puddle hunters!"

It doesn't get much better than that.

We stayed out for about a half hour, finding puddles, splashing in them, giggling and squealing, ruining my khakis, holding hands when cars came to pass, looking down sewers and talking about what we saw. We found spider webs, rocks wedged in holes of manhole covers, bugs, worms, arrows and 7's spraypainted by the gas company, a pool full of green water and a bunch of different fallen leaves.

We talked a little bit about the incident that happened at school. But mostly we just talked about nothing.

"Whats is this, Mama?"
"That's a sewer where the water goes when it rains."
"But why?"
"Because the water has to go someplace or all the cars will float away."
"But why?"
"Because when it rains some water goes in the grass, some goes on the road, some on the house roof, some into the sewer."
"But why?"
"But why what, Jesse?"
"Why does it rain?"
"Because God wants to water the earth."
"Oh. Okay!"

We found the best puddle at the intersection of 10th Street and Priscilla. We splashed and played in that one the longest. When we were finished and Jesse wanted to find "the next puddle" we turned toward home. He cried, "But I don't want to go home!" I asked him why. It was time for dinner and Daddy and Baby Simon were waiting for us.

"I want to stay outside with you forever, Mama."

My heart.

Boys and Girls - Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

People Who Are Still Here

Hey hey! If Jennay can blog about him, why can't I?

Rick Sebak. If you know him, you love him. If you don't know who he is, forgive me. We Pittsburghers have this annoying little habit of failing to realize the rest of the world isn't exactly like us. I was in my late 20's before I discovered that the entire world doesn't refer to rubber bands as gum bands. Or that jagoff wasn't actually a real word in Webster's Dictionary.

Anyway, back to Rick. He's a regional treasure. A one of a kind guy who makes the world a neater place to live in. Neat. Yes, I said neat. He's pretty darn neat. Who else can make a cluster of grey insulbrick cottages along a strip of blacktop seem interesting? Who can send you off to Kennywood never able to look at it the way you did before viewing his documentary on it? No longer do I see crowds of unruly teenagers and smell dirty garbage cans (well, yes, I still see and smell those things but they don't seem to matter as much) because I am enamored with the history behind the park after Rick presented it in the way only he can.

For years I grew up watching Rick's specials on WQED, listening to that distinctive voice tell me about things I never realized were gone or still here in this great city I live in. I took for granted that there was always going to be another show to interest me. I never gave a second thought to where the shows came from, who was this man with the voice, what was he like in "real life" or how did he come up with his ideas? I never imagined that I'd end up knowing him personally.

And he's a cool guy to know. He's always cheery, always with a joke or something funny to say, always, ALWAYS with a cool story about some neat place or person. Even when he's in a bad mood - I feel bad because I laugh sometimes - but I still find him very entertaining! He's got a way of talking that just seems like he's spinning a yarn, there's hilarity and mayhem right around the corner. He's a man who loves his mother dearly and that makes him all the more endearing. He's the kind of guy whose father you would love to meet because you bet he'd have even better stories than Rick!

I often wonder how he comes up with ideas for his shows. Does he have a dream? Does someone pitch them? I've racked my brain for ideas for him and even pitched a few. No, no, he's never used one of mine. Volunteer firefighters - "Only volunteer firefighters would watch it." Hmmmm. Maybe he's right. Pittsburgh weddings, money dances, cookie tables! - He actually dug that idea but he'd be stepping on someone else's toes. I think next time I see him I might pitch campgrounds. You know, goofy golf, big sloping sided pools, riding around in golf carts, bingo... BINGO! Ooooh, that's a good one! Or Pittsburghese. I could see him doing a kick ass show on how we talk around here. Maybe if he did make that show I could tag along on a shoot and meet Jimmy Krenn! I bet he's just a normal guy too. Just like Rick.

For more about Rick, check out his Wikipedia page. Oh my goodness, it's hilarious that he has a Wikipedia page! I wonder if he's seen it?

Rock a Baby

How is it fair that the second baby tends to grow up faster than the first one did?

Even though I am resting easy, not looking for that next big milestone, trying to just revel in all of Simon's babyness... he is growing up faster than I ever remember Jesse growing!

He's pushing up onto his knees and rocking. What? Why? He's 5 months old! Jesse army crawled at 7 or 8 months and didn't start really getting up onto his knees until he started crawling for real around 9 months. He only ever rolled from back to belly and he only did it in one direction.

Then there's Simon. He rolls back to belly, belly to back, left, right, all over the place. He's trying to sit up doing those little baby crunches that make his tummy look like a big ball of bread dough. And now the rocking on the knees. He gets so determined, pulls his legs up under himself, pushes up and looks so surprised at what he just accomplished! Then he gets a big grin and starts rocking feverishly back and forth, squealing with delight!

I want to tell him to stop growing so fast! I want him to stay a baby for a while longer. I want to go back for a day to the sleepless, exhausting days when he was a skinny chicken legged newborn with furry cheeks and shoulders and alien-like eyes growing from the sides of his head making those little squeaky sounds when he moved around stretching and startling.

Now he's almost 6 months old and it's gone much too fast! What's next? Teeth? Crawling? Talking, walking... driving? I swear, sometimes it feels like it moves that fast.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mamas and toddlers and babies... oh my!

Big playdate at my house today! It was a hit!

I invited a few moms who I've been dying to meet as well as some old friends. Everyone got along great. There were 7 moms and 10 kids/babies. I ordered subs and cookies from Subway (which is becoming my playdate habit lately, so easy!) and everyone ended up bringing something also. We had quite a spread.

The kids played in the yard, swam in the baby pool, rode Jesse's roller coaster, the babies played on blankets... it was just lovely.

You know, I didn't take a single picture! I was quite busy at first getting things in place, making sure everyone had what they needed, then once I could relax I just had too nice of a time to even think about busting out the camera. I really hope someone else took some to share!

I met Michelle and her lovely Amelia and Tobi and her adorable Seyi for the first time. I definitely hope to see them both again very soon - before Tobi moves to Tennessee, of course! I saw Amy again. I hadn't seen her in almost 5 years. And I met her beautiful daughter, Heather. She is a sweetie! Amanda was there with Julia and Connor... who is walking! Crazy! I hadn't seen him since his first birthday party and suddenly here he is just all over the place! My friend, Billie, came with Johnna. We had run into them the night before at Bob's memorial service and I thought they'd fit in perfectly and I'm so happy they came! And Rebeccah was there with Michael and Christopher. We hadn't seen them since May when they came to play with the boys before I went back to work.

A few moms weren't able to make it for work reasons or kids with sniffly noses. Tina, Annie, Anna, Veronica and Mandy were missed, but hopefully we will get to see them again or meet them for the first time very soon.

You know, before I was a mom I thought playdates sounded funny. Scheduling time for your kid to play with other kids??? Sometimes it's just more about the moms than the kids though. Don't get me wrong, it's great to see Jesse play with other kids (Simon really has no opinion on other kids just yet) and make new friends and I love to hear him talk about how much fun he had once the playdate is long gone... but I think I enjoy the interaction with the other moms more than anything. I've met such incredible, dynamic, strong, interesting, insightful and diversified moms since I've had kids. I love how we can all parent our own ways, see things differently, have varied philosophies and still get along swimmingly on the basic level as mothers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Calling all mothers!

If you have given birth in the past three years, please take the Birth Survey. Submitting your experiences can help other women who will give birth in the future. The survey took about 30 minutes for me to complete and I was able to rate my midwives, doctor/surgeon (mine happened to be the same person), hospital, level of care received, among other things.

I only wish I had been able to do something like this after Jesse's birth. Even though Jesse was born less than 3 years ago, I had to complete the survey with Simon's birth in mind since he is my most recent baby. Someday, someday... someday I will write about my births. Today is not that day. I am not prepared to deal with it right now. But I was able to provide comments on care related to Simon's birth throughout the survey.

Do you wish you'd had more information when choosing a doctor or hospital or method of birth? Help another mother-to-be out and complete the survey today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hey there, Four Eyes!

How cute is he?

I love my little guy in his glasses. I hope he doesn't get made fun of when he's older. I don't know if he will or not. But I know he needs them and he looks sweet in them. He's pretty good about keeping them on though he is rough on them. He's a boy though. I wouldn't expect him not to be rough on them.

Jesse was diagnosed with hyperopia and amblyopia shortly after his second birthday. Common treatment for amblyopia includes patching. Jesse's eye straightened out when Dr. T (Joseph Terravecchia of Pediatric and Adult Vision Care, who Jesse adores) put the prescription in front of him so we went with lenses. He will need them for at least 5 years. If they stop working we will try patching and surgery is always an option for more severe cases.

Jesse had an InfantSEE exam when he was 9 months old. He took to Dr. T immediately. He also got a clean bill of health. We never noticed anything wrong with his vision and his pediatrician never picked up on anything. I first noticed something when Jesse was about 22 months old. I took a picture with my phone and it looked like his eyes were crossed in it.
At first I dismissed it - babies tend to cross their eyes when trying to focus on something and I thought maybe they just continue to do that for a while even as they grow. But within a week or so it was apparent to me that there was something else going on. I could tell it was only the right eye drifting in as opposed to both eyes and that gave me pause.

I brought it up to Dan and my mom and a couple other people and no one else saw anything. I knew I wasn't crazy so I called Dr. T (who I also see for myself) and made an appointment for right after Jesse's birthday, hoping I'd be recovered well enough from Simon's birth to take him.

The day before Simon was born I took Jesse to the mall for a special Mommy and Me day. We played at the play area, ate Chick-Fil-A and Dairy Queen and then headed downstairs to ride the train and see the Easter Bunny. While in line a woman asked if I'd ever had his eyes examined. I told her no but we had an appointment in a couple weeks because I noticed his right eye drifting in. She nodded her head and said "amblyopia" and that was the first time I heard that term. She noticed it too. I knew I wasn't nuts. It tended to happen more in the evening and when he was tired. On the day Simon was born it was very obvious.

A few weeks later we saw Dr. T and I expected to start patching. But he prescribed the glasses. I had no idea how we were going to keep glasses on a 2 year old, but it's worked out really well. Hopefully we will have great success with this and not have to explore other options for him in the future.

Even though Jesse's issue wasn't discovered at his InfantSEE exam because it developed later, I think having had his exam made me more aware of his eye health and having the relationship already started between Jesse and Dr. T made it very simple to get him help when he needed it.

InfantSEE (by the American Optometric Association) is a public health program developed to help eye and vision care become an integral part of comprehensive infant care. Through this program, babies can receive a free eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months. A baby's pediatrician checks their eyes at their well baby visits but there are issues that cannot be caught this way. Early treatment is key to eye health for many children. The Parents' Center at InfantSEE explains things about a child's eye health that every parent should be aware of.

Now I serve as part of the Mom's Council with InfantSEE. Moms in the group have incredible stories about how InfantSEE saved their child's vision... even their lives. One mother's baby was diagnosed with retinoblastoma and started immediate treatment. Six months of chemotherapy later, her cancer is shrunken and shriveled and she's healthy and being closely watched. She is an extreme case, but with free care available, why not make an appointment? Why wait? If your baby is between 6 and 12 months, younger or you are currently expecting, go to the site, check it out, make an appointment or write yourself a reminder to do so when the time comes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Testing my new addiction from an old one

Apparently I can blog from my blackberry. Let's see if this works.

Yep. That worked. I think I'm in trouble!

Oh so sparkly!

Update to I can finally clean green!

When I got home from work yesterday the neighbors were over with news of Bob's passing. Since the kids were being entertained I took a few minutes to give the bathroom a quick cleaning. I have always enjoyed cleaning with vinegar since it reminds me of my Nanny Fulton, but going beyond vinegar and water was very enjoyable! Using the baking soda and Dr. Bronner's in the toilet and sink smelled divine as did my disinfectant spray (toilet) and APC spray (sink). It was a satisfying feeling to know the bathroom was as clean as it would be using Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and Scrubbing Bubbles but it was A) chemical free and B) a lot less expensive. Dan had already used the new laundry soap with good results and we knew the dishwasher detergent worked well. I am pleased all around. I should have done this years ago!

Now, what to do with all these chemical cleaners I have lying around?

Monday, August 18, 2008

God bless Craig, whoever he may be.

Each night when Jesse is ready for bed, he says his prayers... "Dear God, thank you for today... for our house... our foods... mama, daddy, baby simon, miss donna, puppies, bubba, miss warwa, mister dan, uncle b, kafryn, motorcycles, pap pap, gwandma... God bless Jesse, baby simon, mama, daddy... I WUV YOU, JESUS! Amen."

We thank God daily for what He has provided for us, for the love He surrounds us in, for this life He has granted us.

But right now, I would like to shove my tongue into my cheek and ask God to bless some things I love more than I should.

Like DVR. God bless DVR. How on earth did I live before this invention? I think it should come standard with every discharge package when you are released from the hospital after having a baby. Will I ever get to watch the more than 90 hours of shows I have DVRed? Maybe not! It's still awesome that I didn't have to have my butt sitting in front of the TV or messing with an archaic VCR when the show came on in order to catch it. If Simon pukes on the bed or Jesse throws a royal tantrum in the middle of the nightly news, I can pause it and come back to it later. Right now I've got more than 35 hours of Olympics DVRed. I can watch the Olympics anytime I want! Which is great since all the good stuff seems to start after 10:30 when I've long passed out while nursing Simon in bed. And LOST? What LOST viewer is complete without the ability to rewind and pause and play things in ultra slow motion to see what crazy thing just flashed across the screen or what the voices in the jungle were really whispering? God bless that DVR!

God bless craigslist. Wow. What can I say about craigslist? No fees, no limit to the number of lines, no phone ringing off the hook. Sure craigslist comes with its own hassles, incessant questions from people who (really?) never heard of a Bumbo seat, no shows, lead ons, etc. But where else can you unload your kid's used crib bedding for 50% of what you paid for it more than 2 years ago? In the past 10 weeks alone I have gotten rid of a closet full of baby gear and clothes that we no longer need and I've received more than $850 in cash. Genius! Just don't go near the forums on craigslist. Now that is some freaky shiznit!

God bless the digital camera. No more snapping away hoping you got a good shot only to spend $15 at the one hour booth to find you wasted a roll of film and didn't get anything you want to put in your scrapbook. With the digital, you point, click and then you get to see what you just did! Old news but it needs to be said. The digital camera rocks.

God bless the $200 double jogging stroller found for $75. I worked up quite a sweat last night while the boys sat quietly, holding hands, watching the neighborhood zoom by. Who would have thought Jesse would enjoy a stroller ride or that I would enjoy working out?

God bless the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Limited Edition. Yeah, that's the pump I have. Before the Freestyle came out, it was the best of the best that you could buy for at home. Of course, the darn Freestyle came out mere weeks after I purchased my PISA, but that's ok. After using a Symphony for more than a year after Jesse was born, I was doubtful a non-hospital-grade pump would ever make me happy. And, face it, no pump will ever live up to the wonderfulness that is the Medela Symphony, but the PISA Ltd. makes me very happy. If I'm going to dread pumping everyday, I might as well dread it with a nice pump!

So there's my list for today.


Blasted Cancer

This morning our friend, Bob, passed away. Cancer. Again.

Cancer sucks. I am sure you can agree. I think it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a person whose life has been untouched my this dreaded disease. My mother's sister, my beloved Aunt Lisa, was taken from us far too early. My grandmother followed in a little over 2 years and then Aunt Amy 6 short years later. Breast cancer. Damn cancer. I have two friends named Mike who lost their fathers to cancer when they were in their 20's. My neighbor's beautiful daughter, Chelsea, is recovering (and doing better every day) from her battle with cancer. She was 13 when diagnosed with a tumor at the base of her brain. A woman in my InfantSEE mom's council has a daughter who was diagnosed at 7 months with cancer behind her eye. Kim was 34 when she passed after battling a mysterious cancer that the doctors still don't know what really caused it. Jesse's godfather, Brian, lost his mother last Thanksgiving...

Now Bob. A quiet, unassuming man, humble, traditional, friendly, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back kind of guy who enjoyed the birth of yet another grandchild in January - diagnosed out of the blue with pancreatic cancer and dead not even two months later. How fair is that? Is two months enough time to prepare? To fight? To resign yourself to the fact that your life is over? For his wonderful wife to become accustomed to knowing that her husband of more than 5 decades will be leaving her shortly, never to return? For his children to say goodbye to the strong father who is quickly fading? For his young grandchildren to build memories that will have to last them a lifetime? Two months.

Cancer sucks.

I can finally clean green

I've had the ingredients for my cleaners lying around the house for a while, but with our crazy schedule I hadn't gotten around to making them. Since we had no plans yesterday and Jesse was next door playing with Bubba, I put Simon down for a nap and got busy!

First I took care of our laundry. Laundry soap of Borax, A&H washing soda and grated soap (I used some Fels Naptha and Ivory though I think I'll just stick with all Ivory next time - it grated much nicer). I must give a shout out to my awesome seester here. She bought me a really swell food processor 8 years ago when I moved out on my own and until this weekend I never once used it. I figured it out this weekend and I can see me using it much more often in the future! To think I've been mixing my meatloaves by hand! Anyway, next was fabric softener. I chose lemongrass as my essential oil for this. I hope Dan likes it!

Dishwasher detergent - Borax, A&H baking soda, sea salt and citric acid (hard to find and pricey so I used unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid). Vinegar in the rinse assistant resivoir.

Disinfectant - Dr. Bronner's (peppermint - delish!), water, tea tree oil.

All purpose cleaner - water, vinegar, sweet orange oil. Smells awesome!

Water and vinegar for cleaning glass and washing fruits and veggies (this was standard before my interest in green cleaning).

For the bathroom I'll just shake some baking soda, squirt some Dr. B's, spray with disinfectant (toilet) or APC (sink, shower) and scrub/wash. Easy peasy!

Immediately after I finished making my cleaners as I was cleaning Borax off the kitchen floor, Jesse got a hold of a bottle of APC and took off into the living room to spray Simon. He must have thought he was dirty. Dan went after him. He wanted to know what would possess him to squirt his brother. Eh, at least I know Simon was ok. It's not like he sprayed him with Scrubbing Bubbles, Febreze, Clorox Anywhere or any of that other crap I am so happy to be rid of in my house!

Much thanks (and love) to Deirdre and Shelley for inspiration and awesome recipes.

How can your heart break and melt at the same time?

I uploaded a bunch of videos from my camera this morning. In the process I found a ton of videos from right before Simon arrived of Jesse playing and doing all sorts of fun things - first night with his big boy bed, getting his first hair cut, etc. He was about 22 months old. So these videos are about 6 months old.

What happened in the last 6 months? My baby turned into a boy! Forget the milestones of sitting up, first words, those shaky first steps... Those were fun milestones! Your baby is still a baby doing all those things. He's just a baby who can now crawl or speak a few words or toddle about. Where's the "turned from a chubby faced baby to a real live boy" milestone? You know, the one that breaks your heart in two that those silly, giggly, squealing with delight, saying words that only you know what he's saying days are gone and before you stands a child who speaks in full, understandable sentences and wants to run and play instead of snuggle in your arms all day long. Bittersweet doesn't begin to describe it.

I am amazingly proud of the boy Jesse has become. He's incredible in every way. He's smart and thoughtful, empathetic and witty. But he's not a baby anymore. He'll always be my baby, but he's not a baby anymore. Soon Simon will follow his brother and grow up. Then I will have two boys and no babies. I love the baby stage so much. I don't want it to end. But I love the boy Jesse has grown into.