Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Recap

With the final hours of the year trickling by, I figured I had better try and squeeze in the Christmas recap. And holy crap! What in incredible Christmas we all had!

Of course, Santa and the family was more than generous with the gifting to the J-man. Between the Hot Wheels and the Planet Heroes and the Legos and the puzzles, my house is starting to look more like a Toys R Us research lab.

We did Christmas morning here at home, opening gifts from family out of state, and of course, reveling in the spoils of Santa. J was a little upset that Santa only nibbled at the humongous plate of cookies that he and Steven decorated together, but he got over it quickly as he dove into the goodies left under the tree.

He got all sorts of cool stuff, including this really neat Black and Decker drill and flashlight set with a battery pack that slides off-- Just like Dada's tools!

And here's the picture proving that he's way too familiar with the world of vet med:

Yes, he IS looking in the dog's ears with the flashlight. The picture I don't have to share with you is the one of him using the drill to "clean" the poor dog's ears. And sweet Kelli- she just stands there and takes it. She's perfectly content so long as someone's touching her.

After we opened all of our gifts at home, we packed ourselves in the car and headed over to my parent's house for round two where J was, once again, thoroughly spoiled. The whole time, I sat wondering where in the world all of these new toys were going to go! Some of the hits of the day (aside from the Planet Heroes, which he lusted after for months), were his Smart Cycle, and a giant flatbed Tonka truck complete with a battery operated bulldozer. The thing is about 3 feet long, and super cool.

He played so hard and for so long that around 5 pm, he actually fell asleep standing up. Yeah, I know, I thought that was only something done in cartoons, too. But sure enough, he did, standing right in the middle of the back porch, and when he did, he crashed, hitting his head on the table on the way down, and he slept until nearly 10.
Can you see the bump on his forehead?

The day was full of excellent goodies, and the kids were overjoyed and surprised by everything, but the biggest surprise of the day was mine. You see, when making my Christmas wish list this year, I included such useful things as a new set of headphones (Thanks Mom! They're great!), a new travel coffee mug to keep my car from having the aroma of week old spillage (thanks Jess. It's the best one I've ever used, right down to the clip that holds it to my purse handle!), a subscription to Interweave Knits (which I also got, thanks to Mom), and various other little stuff that I really needed and wanted, and never would have bought for myself. But at the end of the list, and more as a joke than anything else, I asked for a spinning wheel.

Yeah, I know, that's pretty steep, and more than I would ever want or expect anyone to spend, ever. I should have known that if it was on the list, and Dad had even a glimpse of it, it'd end up under the tree. But still, it took my breath away as the paper was torn from the box, revealing this:

Oh my goodness! It is the most lovely and wonderful thing ever, and I'm completely in love!

Of course, before I could play with it, I had to finish it and assemble it, and that my friends, is another post entirely.

You know, my SIL got one, too. She received hers almost a month ago, and how she managed to not spill it to me in all that time amazes me. She's a stronger woman than I!

I'll leave you now with just some of my favorite shots from the holiday.

Happy New Year everyone.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

An Ode to Animal Control Officer Jeanine

I have so much to tell you guys about-- Christmas and the amazing gift my parents gave me. But I'll have to save it for another day when I have more than a couple of brain cells still functioning.

This post, instead, will be dedicated to Jeanine, the super-nice and super-agile animal control officer who saved my dog's ass tonight.

After a horrendous day at work today, all I had in mind when I came home from work was a shower and a beer and parking my butt on the couch for a while. When I pulled into the driveway, I was relieved to see that hubby was already home, and was leashing up the dogs for their walk.

As I got out of the car, Kelli saw something, probably a raccoon, and took off after it, nearly pulling Wil over. She took off into the woods, dragging leash behind her.

Sure enough, the dragging leash got tangled in the underbrush somewhere deep inside, and although we could hear her struggling, she couldn't get free. We dug around in the shed and found a pair if hedge clippers and while Wil started cutting limb by limb through 20 or more years worth of underbrush to try and locate her, I drove the car as far in as I could without tearing out the engine, trying to get a path started and a light on her.

She thrashed and whined and gasped for air, as her choker got tighter and tighter as she struggled. We talked to her calmly, even though we couldn't actually find her, and as she fell silent, panic set in. She was suffocating herself.

I ran next door and borrowed the neighbor's pole saw, but when we plugged it in, it blew the circuit, and we couldn't get it to work.

So, I called animal control and in came Officer Jeanine to save the day. She was small and mighty and weilded her machete like a pro, ducking and diving under prickly pepper tree branches with the skill of a cuban sugarcane farmer. In no time she had cut her way through nearly 50 yards of the gnarliest underbrush you can imagine. She cut Kelli free just in time.

I've always held the animal control officers in high regard, but now I have an even greater respect for them. So, thank you Jeainine. You saved my dog, spared me a heart attack, and totally made my kid's night with your flashing lights and fancy truck. We would have never freed her without you.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Does anyone, ever?

True to form, it's Christmas eve, and even though I didn't set very many knitting goals for Christmas, I've still managed to fall short. Of course, I knew about 3 weeks ago that one of the things I was working on was not going to get finished. It just wasn't turning out the way I wanted it to, and so I quit while I was behind. Of course, without that gift, it put my shopping in a pinch, and I have yet to find the right substitute for this recipient. You see, I was really excited about this one. The pattern screamed this person's name to me, and I thought it would have been perfect. The yarn I chose for it was the skein I went to the end of the earth--or at least to the Orlando Needleworks Show for, and I had high hopes. Alas, the yarn did not do what I expected it to do, and I guess I can chalk this failure up to inexperience and getting in over my head. Of course, if I'd bothered to swatch first, I'd have known what the yarn was going to do. No big deal, though. I found a replacement pattern that I think will be lovely in this yarn, and so it's not a total loss. It's just not going to be a Christmas present. But I wish the recipient could know the lengths I went to to TRY and make something special. Now they're going to end up with a last minute gift certificate, which makes me feel somewhat ass-like.

I decided that my falling water scarf, which I've actually had done for a while, besides weaving in the ends, would make a nice gift for one of my grandmothers, and so that was an easy thing to accomplish. Yay me! One knitted gift done.

While I was busy hemming and hawing over the above mentioned failed project, I grabbed a ball of stash yarn and cast on for something I hadn't even planned on making. It turned out quite lovely, and it amazed me how I could create something on the fly like that, and have it turn out perfectly, while the planned and thought-out projects always seem to go to crap on me. I can't show you a picture of the finished object because obviously, I haven't gifted it yet, but here's a small peek.

Sorry about the picture being washed out, but it just wouldn't photograph well without the flash. Still, it's lovely in person--heathered gray and a subtle pink for the snowflake design.

Then last weekend, because I'm insane, I went and cast on for another scarf, thinking that if I gave one to one grandmother, I should probably make one for the other. I was going to do the same pattern, but since I was fresh out of laceweight yarn, I ended up choosing the Irish Hiking Scarf. It's a lovely and simple knit that I can do with my eyes closed. Unfortunately, I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it as we speak, and yes, it really is Christmas eve. Ugh! So much for that. But, my dad is leaving to go to TN on the 27th, and if I can' finish it before then, perhaps he can take it with him and deliver it a few days late. So, all hope is not quite lost yet.

So that's the saga of my Christmas knitting. Sorry if your gift isn't finished in time, but as you can see, it certainly wasn't for lack of trying/thought.

I can hardly believe that it's Christmas eve already. Every year time seems to move just a little more quickly, doesn't it? In all, 2007 hasn't been a bad year, but I'm hoping that 2008 will bring some long-overdue changes around here. In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very happy holiday, filled with family, love and laughter.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not quite peace on earth, but it'll do

Through a strange and lengthy turn of events, we took possession of another dog last week. She's a wonderful girl, and Jonas has been absolutely smitten with her since he was an infant, so there was no question about whether we'd take her or not. The only real roadblock to her coming to live with us, and the reason she hadn't done so sooner is the fact that she is not necessarily the most mellow of dogs, and our existing dog, Mocha, isn't real keen on sharing her space. Plus, Mo is getting older, and sometimes is grumpy. Our fear was that Kelli (the new girl) would, in excitement, jump on Mo, causing her to growl, causing Kelli to become defensive, resulting in bloodshed and mayhem. Let's face it... our house is small and there aren't a lot of places for large dogs to escape to. They're going to have to get along if they're both going to exist.

So, consulting our behavior specialist at work, we gathered the necessary strategies to help their transition, as well as a bottle full of valium to calm tense nerves (the dog's, not ours), and we brought Kelli home.

The first night was chaos- the two of them driving each other nuts, but it ended well, with both of them sleeping through the night and no problems. But, that next morning, when it came time for breakfast, a little disagreement occurred, and so I took Kelli with me to work, afraid that they'd fight while we were gone.

Last night, when we returned home, they both acted like they'd been roommates forever, hardly even giving each other the time of day. Today, more of the same. So, they may not love each other, and Mocha is feeling a bit mopey and upheaved from her throne, it looks like it's all going to work out well.

Here are a couple of pictures of the two of them. Kelli's the big brown girl- Mo's the fuzzball that doesn't photograph well.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Jolly Old Elf

After therapy and a bad haircut (I swear no one understands how to cut curly hair!), I took J to visit with Santa at the mall. He was all excited about it until it was actually his turn.

J's going through this phase right now where he's scared of things. All kinds of things. Things that he's never been afraid of before. The sound of the vacuum, the monsters he imagines in the closet, the bath tub drain sucking him down from all the way across the bathroom, and now, we can add fat guys in red suits to the list.

Uncle B, if you're reading this, yes, that is SO a "chingrin" he's got on his face.

He was very brave when I told him that it was ok to sit on Santa's knee and tell him what he wanted for Christmas, and he did so, hesitantly. But it went downhill from there. Santa couldn't understand what he was telling him he wanted, and J just got upset and looked at me and said, "Mama, I thought Santa already knew what I wanted."

It was truly distressing to him, but he thanked Santa, reminded him that had been a good boy, and then grabbed my hand and nearly dragged me through the gate to "safety." I guess all kids go through this stage, huh?

We're staying in the holiday spirit, though. Earlier in the week J and his big cousin worked together to create this:

I've done a small bit of Christmas knitting, even though I vowed to not stress myself out with gift knitting this year. Just a few things, and if I don't finish them I've got backups.

Lots of other stuff going on at the moment, but I'll fill you in on those later. For now, let's just get through the holidays, right?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

I am the root of all evil

...or at least the evil that dwells within my child.

J has no interest in doing anything that can be labeled as 'learning' or 'homework'. This, unfortunately, does not translate well into the world of speech therapy. Most times it's like pulling teeth to get him to do any of his exercises at home, and he's even on to me when I try to turn it into fun and games.

Today at therapy was more of the same... attitude, arms crossed over his chest, chin down, staring at the floor. Then the therapist told him, "Ok, Jonas, if you're not going to do your work, Mommy's going to have to leave." So I waved goodbye to him, and stepped out of the room. She has one of those neat one-way mirrors into the room, so I could stand on the other side and watch him without him knowing.

Lo and behold! The moment I left the room he became Mr. Cooperation. I sat and watched in amazement as he performed every one of his tasks without even a hint of a whine or fuss.

Looks like I've now found myself a 30 minute chunk of weekly knitting time.

Because he was so good for therapy today, we stopped at the craft store on the way home and we picked up some little wooden tree ornaments and some paints and glitter and we came home and made little Christmas goodies for the grandparents. He had a great time dictating what shapes I should draw on the ornaments with the glue before he sprinkled on the glitter, but after I did a few of them, I encouraged him to do it himself. The results are some truly gaudy treasures that I'm sure everyone will take pride in for years to come.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Faith Renewed

You may recall that Wil was robbed a few weeks ago outside his office. You may also recall my rant about you this city is rotten and full of disgusting people. What I didn't tell you about is how creepy it was knowing that there was some miscreant running about with not only my husband's entire identity in his hand, but also our address and, most creepy of all, family photos. It makes me shudder to think of some creep studying the lines of my son's face, maybe taking a little pride in how he's taken advantage of that smiling schmuch in the picture who's got his arm around his wife's shoulders.

Totally sick. And yet, oddly, I have very few qualms about sharing pictures here on my blog. Probably mainly because I know my audience, and I monitor my statcounter religiously. I know who's looking, and more importantly, who isn't.

Fast forward to this evening. We all arrived home at about the same time, and as I fed the critters and prepared to cook dinner (meaning sat down and read my email), J and Wil walked to the mailbox, returning with a suspiciously unmarked package. Just a simple largish, white envelope with the post office stamp as the return address. It had hubby's full name written in a sloppy and yet girlish script above the address, and inside was the unmistakable bulk of a wallet.

How sweet of someone to come upon the wallet, perhaps lying in an alleyway or along the side of the road, and take the time to stop at the post office to return it. Even sweeter was the fact that the family picture was there, right where it should be, and tucked neatly into the bill section of the wallet was every canceled credit card, insurance card, even the doctor's appointment reminder card.

There really are good souls out there, and it makes me feel somewhat guilty for ever losing my faith in humanity.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good News/Bad News

Welp, after minimal progress with speech therapy since September, the therapist and the pediatrician were grasping at straws, and so they sent J for a barium study this Monday to evaluate the anatomy of his throat. He has a very weak swallow, and the thinking was that maybe it was being caused by some sort of defect in his esophagus, etc.

The test itself was a breeze, and Jonas thought it was great fun to see what he named "bone-jonas" on the tv screen in front of him. All it consisted of was him taking a few bites of foods in varying consistencies which were laced with barium to show up on a moving x-ray. I'm no expert, but from what I could see on the screen, everything worked perfectly.

It was no surprise to me when the pediatrician called today to let me know that the test results were fabulous, and my kid does not have any physical defect preventing him from swallowing/causing him to gag/making him drool.

So, the next set of options are to continue in speech therapy and see if improvement is just slow to happen, referral to neurology to make sure that my kid isn't suffering from some neurological defect, or drugs.

Don't get me wrong... I'm in no way interested in finding out that my son has some sort of defect or problem, but wandering around without a label and grasping at staws as far as treatments go is starting to get depressing and costly.

For now we've chosen to continue in therapy and see where it goes. If there's no change in two or three months, then we'll consider the neurologist, and as a last resort, medications, which don't really solve anything, they just dry up the saliva, and that concerns me for a lot of reasons. I mean, spit's kind of important in things like digestion and oral health. Not to mention, imagine the feeling of walking around with cotton-mouth all the time.


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Random stuff from the past few weeks

In no particular order, here are some things I meant to blog about, but have neglected.

Have I showed you guys the stuff I got when Michele and I went to Orlando?

Well, here you go.

Two ounces of pretty roving to play with, two balls of Freedom Spirit, which I have no clue what to do with, but loved it and couldn't leave it behind. And the Green skein is Dream in Color Classy in "Happy Forest". This was the one purchase I had an intended knit for, and I think it's going to be the perfect yarn for it. Shhh... it's a Christmas gift for someone, so I couldn't show you progress pictures, even if I had them to show.

You see, before I could start working on anything else, I had committed myself to knitting a few chemo caps for my friend's Aunt. Now, we all know that I'm NOT a hat knitter. Not by a long shot. I don't know what it is about them, but they either turn out too small, too big, too floppy, circulation compromisingly tight, etc. I've never completed a hat that I'm happy with.

That said, chemo caps sounded like a nobel cause, and I was up for the challenge. Or, at least I thought I was. So I gave up all hopes of NaKniSweMo and tucked that yarn back in the cabinet along with the yarn for the Ballet Cami that Michele and I wanted to knit together, and I cast on for a cute little hat that I found at Kody May Knits. Check her out, she's got some really cute hats! I used Caron Simply Soft for it, in a solid and very bland color because my friend assures me that her aunt is a very plain person and wouldn't like anything too crazy.

It was a quick knit, but seemed awful short, so I added a pattern repeat to mine, and also lengthened the crochet at the brim to give it some extra length before gifting to said aunt.

The very next day, the hat was back in my possession because it was too short for her taste. Ugh! Nothing like getting a hat back when you don't like hats anyway. :)

My lazy solution was to add another few rounds of crochet to the bottom rather than ripping out the decreases at the top and picking up the pattern again. Overall, I suppose it works, but I'm most certainly not loving this hat at all. Could have something to do with the fact that I absolutely SUCK at crochet and so it looks sloppy and thrown together. But to make up for it, I cast on and knit a plain stockinette hat as well. Hopefully these will be good enough, and I can finally get on with my holiday knitting.

To be honest, I don't have very much of it to do. I'm only bestowing handknits on a couple of folks this year. It's just too much work and I have too much other stuff going on to try and make the handknit Christmas happen.

And just because they're cute, here are some pictures from Thanskgiving that I never shared.

And now, my friends, I'm off to earn a few bucks.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

All hail the HMO

Originally uploaded by mommyleek

Does anyone remember this face? Yeah, the one covered in sore and cracking blisters? I do realize that the cuteness of the kid somewhat diminishes the eewww factor, but humor me.

This was J a year and a half ago, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as me making the decision to withdraw him from daycare. The doctor diagnosed him as having hand, foot and mouth disease, and I knew exactly where it came from since his entire class ended up with it after one particular child arrived with a suspicious spot on his lip, which the daycare owner did not question the parents about.

HFM, to make it easier to type, is one of those things that are like Chicken Pox. You're only supposed to really get it once in your life, and so once it was finally healed, which took twice as long as the doctors and the internet said it would, but that's just my kid's luck, we didn't worry much about it. All kids have thier illnesses, and we were glad to have that one behind us.

Fast forward about a year and a half...

About two weeks ago J got this nasty looking fever blister on his bottom lip. We immediately attacked it with campho and kept him slathered in chapstick to help put a barrier between his lip and his saliva so that it would dry out. Sure enough, it did, but not until it was done leaving a big nasty scar.

Wait! It gets better, I swear.

This Thursday he wakes up with his lip looking a little redder than usual, and his drooling, which he's made some progress with, was terrible all day. As the day progressed his entire bottom lip deteriorated into clusters of nasty little blisters... see above referenced picture if you really want to know what it looks like.

So Friday morning I took him to the pediatrician, already knowing what they're going to tell me-- J never had HFM, what the kid at daycare gave him was HSV-1, better known as Herpes. Cute huh? To tell people your kid has herpes all over his face. Yeah, I know. It's more of a stigma to the word than it is a disgusting disease. I mean, probably 50% or more of us carry the virus, and how many of us haven't had a fever blister in our lifetime? But still- swallow that one... my kid has herpes. Go ahead, try to apply that to your own sweet little kid's face. It's ugly, isn't it?

So, a copay at the doctor's office, and another (Good Lord! Have Mercy!)$50 copay for a 5gm tube of cream with copious refills later, we're left with a diagnosis that makes me sick and a kid who is going to suffer recurrent breakouts of this for the rest of his life.

But here's something interesting- in my research about HSV-1, I found this little snippet: "The virus remains in the nerve tissue of the face." Which leads me to wonder if maybe the virus, or his severe case from a year and a half ago could have something to do with his drooling/oro-motor deficits/hypersensitivity. Maybe I'm grasping at straws simply because no one else can seem to give me a definitive reason for any of it. There's no label, there's no real seems like we're just trying stuff because we don't know what else to do. And it's frustrating.

Frustrating because I have to watch my child struggle with it, and also because I have to shell out the money for the therapy that my insurance doesn't deem necessary. Dn't get me wrong- I'm not trying to put a dollar figure on my child's health. But it certainly would be nice to see some progress for my money-- or at least some answers.

And that's my Sunday rant.

I'll post something more uplifting once I've had more coffee. I promise.

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