October 2015: Scarier Than You Think

So I’ve had pneumonia. That’s meant too may trips across town to the doctor, and lots of medication. Unfortunately it’s been hard to rest, because even with taking sick days from work, Baguette still needs to go to school, and I need to drop her off. And Wicket had had a mysterious sore on her outer ear that required several vet trips for antibiotics, bandaging, rebandaging, and bandage removal.

But on the days when I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, I took naps. Naps help. And that was my plan for Thursday–even though I did have an appointment, it wasn’t until early afternoon. So: school drop off, nap, early lunch, doctor’s appointment. It seemed like a good plan.

What that plan didn’t include, though, was what happened before Baguette woke up. Wicket, who is normally an exceptionally continent dog, had two accidents in the kitchen that morning. We never get upset at her for going in the house, because she actually works really hard at not doing that. If the dog door is closed and she’s really desperate, she scrupulously keeps it on the tile (I tried putting down paper; she went next to it and then looked at me with an expression that said, “I did’t want to mess up your nice paper! It looked special!”)

Then she started vomiting. This is something that happens only when her stomach gets too empty and she brings up bile, and we have changed her feeding schedule to accommodate that. What never happens is vomiting six times in a row.

Then she couldn’t climb onto the couch cushion that was on the floor. This from a dog who, the night before, had been jumping onto the couch with only her usual intermediate step (floor to giant memory foam thing to couch).

Then she started tilting her head to the left. Then she stopped being able to stand up. She just lay there, breathing heavily. I brought her bed out from our room so that she would have a soft spot to lie. Then she started frantically rolling, over and over in seemingly endless circles that flipped her out of her bed, but didn’t end the rolling.

I thought she was dying. I said goodbye, I told her that we loved her, I told her she’d taken good care of us. I cried and cried. I made Mr. Sandwich get off the bus as soon as he could so that he could pick up one of the counter-traffic buses and get home, because I had to take Baguette to school, but I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving Wicket alone. It was absolutely terrifying.

During her second bout of frantic rolling, it seemed like she was trying to get her collar off. So I took it off for her–and she was still. The rolling stopped, and she just lay down, exhausted but calm. I called Mr. Sandwich back, just before he was about to get on the northbound bus, and told him that I thought he didn’t have to come back, after all. I got Baguette up and fed and dressed, and had her say goodbye to Wicket, just in case. And then I crossed my fingers and took her to school.

When I came home, Wicket was still exhausted but calm. I called the vet and they had me come in right away. She still seemed like her normal self, albeit unusually tired.

What the vet thinks happened was this: The day before, Wicket had gone to the groomer. It was the place we’ve been taking her for at least five years, but that day there were different techs, and they gave her the fastest grooming to date. So the best guess is that she got stressed out by the speed grooming and her blood pressure went up, causing a small seizure or stroke. They gave her some medication to settle her stomach and sent her home.

I went to my doctor’s appointment. On the way, I started to have chest pains. My doctor gave me an EKG, and everything was normal, so it was probably just stress.

Here’s the thing: We’ve had Wicket for six years, and everyone’s best guess at the time was that she was 12 years old. That means she’s now 18. Overall, she’s in great shape–she may nap a lot, and she may be missing more than half of her teeth, but she loves her food and her walks. People are always amazed to hear how old she likely is. And no matter how long we’ve had her, I’m not ready for her to go.

The food has changed; the blood tests and x-ray showed that she has pancreatitis, so she’s on a prescription low-fat diet for the rest of her life. She’s had antibiotics and fluids, and is stronger and back to her usual scramble onto the couch. We each have follow-up appointments next week.

So all of that? Is why I can’t remember which day last week I had another kidney stone.

This October is not easy. I think this sums it up:

Friday Five, September 12, 2014

Here are a few things from the past week.

1) Baguette is perfectly fine with cold macaroni and cheese, except when she’s not okay with it.

2) I have some really good support at work. That’s good to know.

3) Baguette hates pigtails with a passion. I knew this, because she would never let me put up her hair. But today it turned out that this is also true at school. When I picked her up, she was sobbing–almost keening, in fact–in front of the mirror and trying to get the rubber bands out of her hair. Fortunately she sat very still while I took them out, and calmed down shortly thereafter.

4) This bed isn’t big enough for the three of us.

5) I’m starting to wonder if I will ever not be tired.


Some Stuff About Some Things

There’s a lot going on, and while I really want to write, it’s hard to come up with a unified concept. So here are a handful of thoughts and recent developments that are not at all unified.

  • Baguette had a low-grade fever for much of the weekend. It turns out that when she is sick, she avoids negative constructions–she would not say “I don’t want Mommy to go,” but would say “I want Mommy to stay.” (She was better yesterday afternoon and hence is at day care today.)
  • I’ve been making simple syrup regularly this summer, and life is just so much easier when it’s around. Want to make that regular tea sweet? Want to make lemonade? Simple syrup to the rescue!
  • We finally caught up on Sherlock. Why are there only three episodes per season? Why is the next season not airing until 2016? Whywhywhy?
  • I need to write more, but my job doesn’t involve writing, but my bosses do give me the flexibility and support that I really do need right now. Yet still I need to write more. It’s a conundrum.
  • We really should get new passports, what with ours having expired and all. Not that we have travel plans, just that we should have them. But why are passports so expensive? Again with the whywhywhy?
  • Time to start working out. But how to find the time?

That’s it. For now.

My Balance, Revisited (Again)

balance scale

I want to blog, but it’s so hard. So. Hard.

Time is fleeting, and filled up. Here’s what my balance looks like, for the past two weeks and the foreseeable future.

5:00 Alarm goes off. Hit snooze button.
5:09 Hit snooze button again. 
5:17 Get out of bed before the alarm goes off again. Wash face, brush teeth, etc. Open dog door. Unload dishwasher and dish rack. Wash remaining dishes. If Baguette needs to take lunch to daycare, pre-heat thermos.
5:35 Finish morning ablutions.
5:45 Sit with Baguette so that Mr. Sandwich can get up and get ready for work. Catch up on Facebook and blogs in RSS reader. Check weather for day.
6:10 Get up and assemble Baguette’s breakfast, snacks, water bottle, and lunch (unless it’s one of the days for which we’ve pre-paid for hot lunch). Put ABA binder in bag (if it’s Monday, put sheets and blanket in bag). Assemble my breakfast and lunch, if I got them prepared the night before
6:30 Get dressed. Put insert in toilet seat for Baguette.
6:45 Take Baguette’s pre-selected clothes and stage them for getting her dressed. Choose different clothes if weather forecast has changed from night before.
6:55 Wake up Baguette. Comb her hair. Sit with her in bathroom. Get her dressed.
7:10 Leave for daycare. Take Baguette to her classroom and set out her breakfast and water. Drop off ABA binder, bag, jacket, and any other items needed for the day.
7:17 Drive to bus stop or to work, depending on whether I’m actually on schedule.
8:20 Arrive at office building. Buy breakfast or parts thereof, depending on what I brought.
8:30 Turn on computer and check email. Touch base with Mr. Sandwich, to let him know how Baguette’s morning went. Work.
4:30 Leave work.
6:00 Arrive home. Evening ABA session starts. Prep dinner. Participate in ABA.
7:00 Eat dinner. Participate in ABA. Check calendar to see if Baguette has hot lunch at school. Check weather for next day. Lay out my clothes for next day. Lay out Baguette’s pajamas.
8:00 Sign ABA provider’s timesheet. Give Baguette her bath.
8:15 Get Baguette out of bath and get her dressed for bed. Take Wicket outside one last time. Close dog door for the night. Feed Wicket.
8:25 Load dishwasher. Wash other dishes and put in dish rack. Play with Baguette. Check Facebook.
9:00 Go to bed. Read to Baguette. Hope she falls asleep by 9:30. Go to sleep ASAP after that. 

The big difference from my balance in 2011 and 2012 is ABA. It’s a big difference.

And this isn’t just my balance. Mr. Sandwich’s day is not identical to this, but looks very similar. With a lot more laundry.

Photo by winnifredxoxo, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Mom-Friendly Meals

Recently, some of my friends have said, “You really seem to have this meal-planning thing down. What’s your secret?”

I do not have the meal-planning thing down. My secret is that I have a child who is slightly older than their child.

I think there are a lot of us in this boat. We think, “That person over there is doing this much better than I am.” And the truth is, they’re just working with different circumstances.

One of my college friends has a daughter about two months older than Baguette. She also has an older child and a stepchild. And when her daughter was a baby, every night this friend would post on Facebook about some amazing meal she was making her family for dinner.

Now, I know her. She wasn’t doing this to brag about how much better she was at parenting. She was doing it to show that it could be done–that often when you feel overwhelmed, it’s in your head. She wasn’t boasting, she was demonstrating.

But what I couldn’t figure out was this: how was she managing it? Like me, she had a full-time job outside of the home. Like me, she had an infant. Unlike me, she had two other children. So how was she pulling off this amazing feat?

As it turns out, she has a shorter commute. Like, a lot shorter. Mine is an hour each way. Hers is more like 15 minutes.

See what I mean? Different circumstances.

And my own circumstances have changed. Looking back, I’m not really sure what I ate when Baguette was a baby. I cooked for her, but I don’t remember what I made for myself. After a while, I found that I could use the crock pot on the weekends to make a big batch of something. That counted as cooking.

slow cooker
I no longer use the slow cooker for oatmeal, though.

More recently, I’ve been able to use the stove a little. Last night I made shrimp with bell peppers and zucchini in Red Thai Curry Sauce, served over quinoa. I’m having leftovers for lunch.

I have no idea what’s for dinner tonight.

Again, I think there are a lot of us in this boat. So I’m starting an occasional series called “Mom-Friendly Meals.” I’m going to write about what I cook, how I choose recipes, what tools I use, how I find ingredients, and anything else that comes to mind. You can follow me on Twitter at @tragicsandwich; I’ll be using the hashtag #momfriendlymeals for these posts.

One thing to keep in mind: These are mom-friendly recipes. At our house, we all eat different things. Baguette is going through a picky stage, and while we’re trying to move her through that, I’m not going to pretend that she ate the Thai curry with me. And Mr. Sandwich has his own palate, and tends to do his own cooking. So our kitchen is very busy, but we’ve finally started eating together as a family.

Now we just have to clean off the rest of the kitchen table.

It’s Friday, Right?

I feel like this week has gone on for about a year.

Monday was a holiday, and so being us, we went snowshoeing. Baguette loves the snow, but we dramatically underestimated how quickly a not-quite-three-year-old can get wet and cold.

Tuesday we went back to work, and Baguette went back to school. Honestly, I don’t really remember Tuesday.

Wednesday we had Baguette’s in-network evaluation for speech therapy. More on that in another post; for this one, let’s just say that the appointment started late and ran longer than we expected; Baguette missed snack time and got very grouchy; she napped for a grand total of 25 minutes; and at the end of the day we had a conference with one of her teachers. More on that in another post, too.

Thursday was crazy busy, and also rainy. That meant that Baguette got to wear her raincoat and boots. It also meant that she wanted her umbrella, which I did not have time to find. In the evening she ate and ate and ate.

This morning I dropped her off at day care, narrowly avoiding an umbrella-related meltdown, and one of her teachers referred to “the breakfast she doesn’t eat any of.” Which explains the evening hunger. And then work was crazy busy again, with much soothing of ruffled feathers in some directions and prodding in others.

So now we’re home, and while a hat-stacking-related meltdown led Baguette to declare her interest in “go bed,” we are back up. There has been playing with “A-B-C Puzzle” and her new dump truck–it arrived today, and I realized that I order so many things from Amazon that everyday is Christmas. At the moment we’re winding down (I hope) with Sesame Street, and if we’re really lucky, she’ll actually go to sleep and let us watch a sitcom. Ha!

So I leave you with this:

elephant dinosaur robot toys
An elephant, a dinosaur, and a robot walk into a bar . . .

How to Make a Mom Angry

I shared something about Baguette on my Facebook profile. Most of the responses were positive. But then there was this:

[Older relative]: I thought you were a stay at home Mom. You are missing a lot.

Cue the gritted teeth. Because, guess what? I know! But I also know that if I didn’t work, I’d miss the chance for professional accomplishments. I’d miss the friends I have at my job. And we’d all miss my half of our income.

We live in a small house. Nearly all of our furniture is hand-me-downs. We drive old cars–mine is 11 years old, and Mr. Sandwich’s is around 25 years old. Our last big trip was before Baguette was born. We don’t live lavishly. And to live not lavishly, we need both our incomes.

And I think that Baguette benefits greatly from day care. While we are having some issues with them right now, I know that she gets much more exposure to arts and crafts there than she would get at home with me. She gets a 2-hour nap every day, which I doubt very much she would get with me. And she met Bestie there.

Life’s about the tradeoffs. We all know that, and we all know that choosing one thing means we can’t choose something else, at least not at the same time. But each of us is making the best choice we can for our families, and that ought to be respected, whether we work outside the home or from home or don’t have paying jobs. And we’re all missing a lot. But we’re all doing our best, and that’s what our families need.

And this is a relative from an earlier generation–although what’s funny is that while I don’t know whether she worked outside the home when her kids were growing up, I’m pretty sure her sister did. It’s not like this is new. But since I have a close–if wide-spread–family, I don’t want to have a fight about it. I want to present my point of view, but I’m not going to war about it. Not today, anyhow.

So how did I respond?

“This is the economy I live in. Plus I like working.”

My Balance, Revisited

Nearly a year ago, I was inspired by a post by Oil and Garlic to write about my balance. So, where do we stand now?

1. What’s your work schedule?

I still drop Baguette off at 7 so I can be at work at (or around) 8, and I still work until 5 and am home a little after 6. All of this is likely to change on Friday, however, because the Rampture is coming–and that means all bets are off. I have no idea what my commute will be like for the next year, except that I know it won’t be good.

2. How do you handle childcare?

We still love Baguette’s day care. Mr. Sandwich’s parents come over to help around the house, but are less likely to babysit on weekend evenings; they have their own busy schedules, and it’s a lot harder to keep up with a toddler than it was to monitor an infant. However, one of her favorite teachers left the day care (not for reasons that concern us), and we’ve had her over for a get-reacquainted evening so that she can sit for us on occasion.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

It works, but just barely. Because of our jobs and commutes, we just don’t have enough time with her on workday evenings. We get home, go for a walk, eat dinner, give her a bath (while the other person fixes lunches for the next day), play a little, and go to bed. There just isn’t a lot of leeway in that schedule. But at least we have a routine.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

It doesn’t last forever–at least, not in this form. For a long time, I barely cooked at all. Now, I can manage to make a big batch of food in the slow cooker on Sundays, and that means lunches for several days that week. But being able to do that, which previously I could not, tells me that some day I will be able to cook meals with more than one dish.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?

Yes. There are no Daddy Wars, not even in the media.

One of Those Weeks

You know how sometimes everything hits at once? This is one of those times. Somehow every project I have at work is at a crunch point. One of them seems headed into some sort of death spiral (naturally, this is the one that is highest profile). We’re exhausted, because Baguette keeps crying in her sleep for no reason we can identify. And this morning Mr. Sandwich’s sister called to say that their mother is in the hospital, so we handed off immediate duties and headed across town to see her, bearing a couple of books I thought she’d like (turns out that one of them was her favorite Georgette Heyer). Fortunately, she seems to be on the mend.

So as I look at the photo we took of Baguette a month ago, with her impish little grin, I just want to go home and hug her.

But first I have to have a meeting about that death spiral. Life’s all about the trade-offs, right? Right?

Deep Thoughts

Tonight I was telling Mr. Sandwich how I feel like I’m caught in an endless cycle of nonstop activity. Get up, go to work where there is too much work, prepare for meetings (or actually go to them) for my alumni club, meet with the realtor, eat dinner, and go to bed so that I can sleep and start all over again. None of this is restful. Not even the sleep.

So I think I should try meditation. I have some music from Gaiam on my MP3 player, and in the past I’ve found that even a few minutes of sitting quietly can help me relax and let go of the rest of the day.

Now I just need to set aside time for meditation. And make sure that there are working batteries in the MP3 player. And find the MP3 player.

On second thought, maybe I’ll just go to bed so that I can get up and go to work.