Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Finished!

After ten years of marriage, our wedding album is done!

Wow, you say, is that REALLY behind or what? Well, sort of. I started in 2007, so I'm slow, but not ten years slow. At that time, our wedding pictures were in a nice wooden box-style album. It has a picture frame top and opens to several small hanging albums with wooden spines and slots for pictures. I'm not saying this is optimal, I'm just emphasizing that it was a real place to put pictures, not just a shoebox, because it was at that point that my husband started saying "You are making these great albums, but it so sad that our wedding pictures are just in a box!".

After I finished spluttering that they weren't just in a box, I realized that he would like them to be scrapbooked and I would love to scrapbook them, so I better get started! Since I was pregnant with Sammy, I reasoned that before his birth would be the perfect time to do it. I worked on it only at the "scrap nights" we used to have with a fun little group of girls, led by Jennifer. I attended a scrapbooking retreat at Jennifer's invitation in January of 2008, making some progress. But then I was all out of scrapbooking-specific occasions, so I set up a serious workstation at home and spent all my late-night time that I couldn't sleep because of heartburn, contractions, heartburn, the baby head-butting me repeatedly, heartburn, and general discomfort (and heartburn) working on the album.

I finished the sections for the preparation and the wedding in February the night before Sammy was born! I was scheduled to be induced on a Monday morning and my mom was flying in on Sunday evening. Her flight was delayed, and then delayed some more until it was 2:00am by the time James arrived back from fetching her at the airport. By the time she arrived, voila! It was done.
As lovely as that was, I really wanted the honeymoon in the same album. We went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with our little film camera. Most of the pictures had only one of them in it, and there were so few compared to our digital snap-happy style of taking pictures. Some of the scenes were lovely and I hated to let myself think "I'll do that someday", and never get back to it. So I went back to work on it.

Inspired by my sister's completion of her son's album, I took it with me on this past holiday trip with the faint hope of making some progress. Finally, just before the stroke of midnight on the last day of the year, watching the Times Square party from my Granny's house in Alamagordo, New Mexico, I finished the last page. Being the statistics- and symmetry-loving girl that I am, I was particularly pleased to have it done during this calendar year.

It was so funny to see us as we were then ("What in the world am I doing wearing pink jeans!?"). But it was sobering to realize how much I had forgotten. I couldn't place many of the pictures: "James, do you know what day this is?", "James, where was this?", "James, what were we doing here?" Good thing hubby dear has a good memory. He finally wrote down a schedule of what we had done each day, what kind of place we had eaten, and some of his favorite memories. I sometimes hear people talk about scrapbooking for other audiences - our friends, our family, our kids... but as much as that's true, I'm treasuring in my own heart the memories of our first days of marriage!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wetlands Park, Yuma, Az

Planning on visiting Yuma, Arizona? Maybe not too many are, but there is a fabulous castle playscape there at the Wetlands Park. I've been to Yuma a couple of times, but I was working on helping out my sister with some things and didn't take time for playscape fun. Zack loved this, and his little cousin had a great time too. Too bad he ended up with his first split lip! But, being the tough guy that he is, he went right back to playing.

One thing I loved is that Zack started describing the imaginary parts of the "castle", in a precursor to the elaborate make-believe lands I remember inventing with my cousins when we were kids. He was most intent on the "dungeons", but I had more fun on the battlements!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Applause, please

Sammy spent Christmas Eve learning to clap: yay!

He's feeling great and starting to eat normally again. The only fly in the ointment is that he's been broken out, head to toe, in eczema. I had it as a kid and both boys have dry skin and a little trouble from time to time with exzema, just not of this magnitude. Is it possible that the albuterol from the breathing treatments is causing it? He broke out on his cheeks and around the mask first... but then it could be the dry Arizona air.

It doesn't seem to be bothering him much, though! Here he is, mugging for the camera, making best use of his Squinty Smile:

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Friday, December 19, 2008


We received a small gift basket for Christmas that had been assembled by the gifter (or their helper?). The items were nice but I especially enjoyed that even though they were purchased items, they were selected and packaged into a basket by hand. The included treats, like the beautiful tea with it's shimmering fabric bag and colorful leaves above, were all the more lovely for the extra attention.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gettin Better

Here is Sammy, on his first day in a week without fever!

Friday we headed out to run some errands just as soon as he woke up from his nap. He was fussy in the basket at wherever place I went. I did need to run into Walmart and do an exchange (two glass gallon jars - bulky and a little heavy), so I figured I could do one more thing. I loaded the awkwardly large jars into my oversize reusable grocery bag and just carried it and my purse on my shoulder with Sammy on my hip and took Zack by the hand.

Sure, Sammy was much happier being held, but picture me by the time I had crisscrossed the store twice and added my three purchases (two of them slightly smaller glass jars) to the load. The glass jars in the bag are clanking together, I'm trying to hold a fussing baby, contain Zack, and convince him to carefully help me carry this stuff. Just as we get in line (a Walmart line during Christmas season, no less), I realize that Sammy is not fussy anymore. He's flushed, and he's hot, and he's listless.

Zack had one specialty of illness as an infant and toddler: high fever with some congestion - viruses like Roseola, or it's relatives without the rash. We figured Sammy for the same thing as his temperature climbed. We had to put him in a lukewarm bath to get the temperature under 104, which was not a popular move around here - neither with baby nor with mamma. We went through a couple of days of battling the fever, checking him every two hours, alternating Motrin and Tylenol, and using cool compresses that he hated. Just when we figured the worst of the fever should be past, it was up again and we had another night just like the worst one, bath and all. Meanwhile, his cough is sounding worse and worse. So, out we go into the 32 degrees and misting (that's crazy cold to us Texans, and we sure don't know how to drive in it, just to get everyone oriented) to the Dr., though I really feel like it's viral, and what can they do?

Viral it was, but it was more than I thought. I had only been able to get in to see the nurse practitioner rather than his usual pediatrician and after examining him, staring strangely at his chest with his sleeper open (what is she looking at? what is she counting? why is she frowning?), the NP was back in with his usual doctor.

"Well, he's borderline for hospitalization right now. We would definitely be justified hospitalizing him if you're more comfortable with that."

Mamma is at full alert.

He had something I hadn't heard of, but I guess a lot of people have, RSV or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus. They had done nasal swabs and confirmed it (also confirmed negative for flu, which was good). He had another virus, roseola or the like, overlapping it; the rash started as we were in the office. He had two ear infections. The thing concerning the doctors was his labored breathing and low blood oxygen saturation. Apparently, RSV often causes enough breathing problems that it's the number one cause of hospitalization in children under two (so said the doctor anyway). But, in the hospital, they would mostly just give him fluids and breathing treatments, and I could do that at home if I was comfortable with it. I was a little concerned that I hadn't known what "labored breathing" looked like. The NP could see his chest pulling in at certain spots and hear a wheeze in his breathing that was very noticeable to me once she pointed it out. But I still wanted to avoid the hospital if at all possible, not wanting him exposed to more illnesses and woken for meds and checks on the floor's schedule instead of his own.

They tried out the breathing treatment on him in the office to see if it helped enough to justify sending me home with a machine. The nurse set it up, then slipped out of the room a nanosecond after turning on the machine. Sammy hated it, screaming and thrashing the whole time. I was supposed to be doing the treatment and didn't know what I was doing, alone in the examination room for what seemed like an hour (it was more like 15 minutes), trying to hold him upright and still with this loud mask over his face. I am not sure how much medication he actually got. It didn't change his blood oxygen saturation but he seemed to be less labored, so they said I could take him home if I could do this every three hours, waking him at night. My brain was in crisis mode, so of course I could do this. I can do a lot in crisis mode, and do it all with logical efficiency. I don't panic, which is handy. Of course, I have to come down from crisis mode sometime, but at the time, it is effective.

We started him on antibiotics for the ear infections (and to keep the RSV from going into pneumonia) and continued the regime of fever meds and breathing treatments. It was a little like nursing a newborn in that the three hours counts from the beginning of the treatment, so by the time we did it and got him calmed down again (which usually did require nursing) there wasn't much time before the next one. He wouldn't eat, but he would drink milk, so that was ok. We had a houseguest and a catering order and a party I was helping with, so I juggled. Our housegeust was actually more help than hindrance, playing with Zack and staying at home with him while I took Sammy to the doctor. We're supposed to be leaving on a 1140 mile trip (that's the distance one way) day this coming weekend. The Christmas shopping needs to be finished, the Christmas cards need to go out, I've lost the paperwork to get the (overdue) registration on the car, I need to prep for a wedding that I'm coordinating when we get back... you get the idea. That crisis mode was handy, I guess, because that list is not far from being done. The catering order looked great. Thanks to James' parents coming and staying with the boys for an afternoon, the shopping is mostly done. The Christmas card envelopes are printed. James saved me and took car of the car registration. The party was fun and had plenty of food. I haven't slept much, but hey, I'll pay that bill when it arrives (hm... my throat is sore... maybe that bill is here already).

Today I'm rejoicing that Sammy has no fever (so far), and is smiling again. He even got dressed today, much to his brother's relief (Zack doesn't hold with staying in jammies all day). Sammy still won't eat, but we're down to breathing treatments every five hours (longer if he's sleeping) and he seems like himself. Check out this face - there's no doubt he's getting better.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This blog is sad

It needs some posts.

I have had several ideas for posts in my head. They were fairly well fleshed-out, and it didn't really occur to me that I later would not even be able to remember what they were, much less capably write them. I guess those moments have passed, and now I'm going to have to notice some new ones. My noticer might be a little bit out of order just now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The sugar thing seems to be working. Whether it's just our being more consistent, or that the ongoing consequence really speaks to him, or the sugar itself, I don't know, but our house has gotten calmer, which is a relief.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The last three books I've read have been fascinating. And by "read", I mean thoroughly read, digested and even made an occasional note... on the first third of the book. Ok, let's be generous and call it the first half. These books were checked out from the library, which has a three-week loan. At least one, maybe two, of them I was able to recheck for a second three-week stint. Six weeks and I can only get through half a book?? Mommy or no, that's pathetic.

I've got holds on all three to check them out again and I'm waiting my turn. Let's see, maybe I can get through half of two or three more books before I get these back.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sugar and its Effects

This month's "celebration"round robin seems to have taken it's toll on our family. Zack is a crazy, crazy little person. He seems to be having fun, but it's driving us batty. I think he's been getting candy and treats at every turn; then he turns into this jumping, shouting, spastic force of nature. Who wants to spend all day saying No! or being said No! to?? Not us, and theoretically not him (though I doubt he's in favor of a change).

So we are beginning an experiment. For at least a few days, we're cutting off the sweets and trying to see where all they are embedded in our routine. For example, when Zack wakes up (before we do), he is allowed to have a "breakfast snack" (as in, "Mommy, that isn't a breakfast! That's just a breakfast snack!") of a yogurt. Only problem is that even the least sweet individual prepackaged yogurt is pretty sugary. For another example, we have this little basket where we put various small treats. It started with we had all this Easter candy, so we put it in the basket to have one small item a day. There were also Benefiber chewables in there, and Zack chose one of those as often as he chose a Hershey's kiss or a Starburst (we were really feeling clever over the additional fiber). That seemed to be working fine. But then, after Halloween, there were all these (small but not tiny) candy bars in it, items which were MUCH bigger than a Hershey's kiss, and Zack wasn't interested in the small things or the Benefiber. Plus, once a day turned into after every meal, and could he please please please have regular dessert AND a treat from the basket?? Plus, I think they are giving him sweets at school. He came homing this week (yes, in December) saying it was a special occasion and they got to have candy corn at rest time. Hmm... restful...

We simply can't make it through the last half of the month, and a long car trip coming up, without some kind of reset on the crazy behaviour. We told Zack if we got on a better behavioural roll, we would add back in a few treats at upcoming celebrations and see what happens.

I'll keep you posted on whether it helps.
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Here's the amount of accumulation, just so you have a idea what level of snow it takes for us Austinites to make a fuss!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Guess that's Austin

When we went to pre-school this morning, it was eighty degrees. When I stepped outside after a church brunch, the air was hanging heavy, the sun hot on our necks. It occurred to me that I ought to have worn sunscreen on my neck if I was going to stand around outside chatting.

We went to the bookstore tonight and as we got out of the car, the wind held the door shut against Zack attempts to open it, a little stinging rain penetrating the lightweight clothing that had seemed too heavy earlier in the day. By the time we left the bookstore, the rain was frozen, pinging on our windshield.

As soon as we got home we set Sammy in his crib, directed Zack to entertain him and bundled ourselves up in the first sweatshirts that were handy with raincoats over top (Zack asked me if I was going to do painting. Guess my sweatshirt was a bit on the shlumpy side?). We ran outside and turned on the lamp we use to keep the garden from freezing on cold nights, revealing four more red tomatoes but also bits of ice sparkling among the tiny shoots of the new lettuce and the swiss chard sprouts. We covered up the garden and the herb bed and the succulents, running back and forth and tracking mud on my not-vacuumed-often-enough-already floor.

We put the kids to bed and put on the news to see what scary severe weather system could be producing frozen stuff falling from the sky. They said the sleet and frozen rain were over for the night, folks, nothing left to see here. I finally convinced myself to do the evening kitchen routine when I heard more sleet, yes? Not so! Not sleet but SNOW. In Austin!

From 80 degrees with tomatoes ripening on the still-producing vine to 30 degrees and snow. Guess that's Austin for you!

Friday, December 05, 2008


I had a doctor's appointment at 10:00am. I left the doctor's office at 1:39pm.

Now, before I launch into this, let me say that I am fully aware that none of this is in the same category as real Health Problems. This is more in the category of Annoying Crap. I am very thankful that I'm generally in good health, at least with respect to anything serious. I guess it is this generally good health that has led be to the (clearly ridiculous) assumption that if you go to the doctor with a specific combination of symptoms, an onset timeline and whatever details are relevant, they should be able to say what's wrong with you and tell you whether to wait and heal or give you some kind of treatment. Right??


Why is it always some puzzling mystery? Why is it "Wow, I've never heard of that" or "Hm, I couldn't really guess what's happening with that". Sheesh. They can completely replace a person's hip but they can't tell my why my ear hurts??

My almost four hour appointment today (accompanied by two children) netted me a very annoyingly painful "office procedure" (unrelated to the ear pain), a recommendation for surgery (unrelated to the ear pain), and a diagnosis of "take three Advil three times a day and call me in six to eight weeks" for the ear pain. Whaaa?

So here's what I'm thinking:

A) Why did I bother going at all?
B) Why, oh why did I leave the house without coffee?
C) How could I have gone out without snacks for the children?
D) How could I have gone out with only a single coloring book for Zack?
E) How do they blithely keep a woman with a four-year-old and a nine-month-old in the waiting room for HOURS?
F) How do I get sucked into these "minor procedures" that turn out to be ordeals?
G) Is a simple diagnosis so much to ask?


Update: The annoying "office procedure":
a) Was billed as "surgery"
b) Was ridiculously expensive

I guess I'll take a fix over a diagnosis.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


As previously mentioned, Zack's a little moon-crazy...
But Mommy, I don't see an American flag on the moon and I've been looking and when I see the moon I look really hard for a flag and I really don't see one.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Here's a tip for childproofing the christmas tree

Or, try hanging it from the ceiling. That's also convenient.

In case you are a family member and prone to concern, skip over the photo group of getting the tree up there. Really, it wasn't too bad. No Deannas were harmed in the making of this Christmas tree. And, as far as the ornaments go, I only dropped one little guy, and he didn't even break. Even with the scary big step off the ladder, it was better than last year when I was pregnant and James had to do this part, using my instructions and a laser pointer for where each ornament should go. Am I kidding about the laser pointer? Actually, no.

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