Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We're all sick.

We took Oliver to the doctor on Monday. He has an ear infection! Yay. This is new for him. It's the first one he's ever had. (At least, the first we've ever known about.) He came into our bedroom Monday morning crying that his ear hurt. Lo and behold, an ear infection. No cold. No warning. Just waking up with an ear ache.

Colin has had diarrhea for a few days now. He's been refusing to eat anything, which is completely the opposite of his character. We took him to the doctor assuming his ear infections didn't clear up, btu they're gone.  The next day he threw up and it was clear that he was just sick. He seems to feel a little better today but he's still crabby.

Very early this morning, Oliver came up the stairs covered in liquid poop. Later this morning (but still very early) he came up the stairs and threw up all down the hall on his way to the bathroom.

The poor kid yells, "Mom! I made a mess! I'm sorry."

He didn't know what it was to throw up. He did not understand when we asked him if he puked. Barfed? Vomited? Threw up? He had no idea what any of that meant.

The concept was foreign to him that he assumed he did something wrong. He apologized profusely for making a mess on the floor again. I told him it wasn't his fault and he said, "Oh yeah. It was an accident."

Every time I ask him how he feels, he says he feels great. He does not look great. He's been dozing on the couch while watching Scooby Doo all day long. He turned down special treats from the grocery store. He feels very hot but complains he's cold. He smells terrible. He barely moves.

But if you ask him? He says he's "great." Always. "I'm great, Mom!" When he's about to throw up he says things like, "This is not so good." or "Something is not right now."  For all the drama he lays on at bed time, or when Colin knocks down his buildings, or when I cut up his food when he didn't want it cut up...

ALL of those situations bring on such intense acting and theatrics. But explosive barf and poop? Those things are "not so good." No other complaints.

He looked so corpse-like on the couch that I actually got out my camera to take a picture of him. His brain registered that I had a camera so he looked up at me and said, "Cheese." This is the best he could muster. This was him trying to smile. This stunned dumb look was the best he could muster, but he still tried:

An A for effort?
No wonder we never notice when he's sick until he's reallllly sick. 

Jared and I, too, are sick now. We now know how he must be feeling. Jared called in sick to work and we've been lying in bed, leaving only for frequent trips to the bathroom. 

We've been trying so hard to avoid sickness so that Colin's ear infections could clear up and the fluid could drain. We were doing so well! And you know what happens as soon as we get the all-clear on his ears?


There's just no winning.

Friday, January 25, 2013


This week we had an electrician come out to fix some of our wiring. When we run too many things at once, we overload the circuit and the whole upstairs falls black. The smoke detector beeps. The dog trembles and hides at my feet, leaving me to trip and curse and jump up and down on the foot that didn't step on a Lego. I run downstairs, flip the breaker and reset the microwave and the oven and the clock radio. I almost always have dinner cooking, so I make a guess at how much time was left before our bread will be done baking and call it good enough.

I wish it were just our wiring being overloaded, but it's all of us too. This winter is getting to us. It's getting to me, especially, because I am what keeps everything running. I have help, of course, but I am the overseer. I am the bather and feeder and washer and schedule master. I'm always here holding down the fort. I usually do a pretty good job at what I do but this month has been rough.

Colin is into everything. All the time. Hardly a day goes by where he hasn't taken a bath in the dog's water bowl. He's learned not to do it when I'm watching. He knows to wait until I'm distracted. As soon as Oliver asks for my help, Colin makes a break for it. I don't usually find my mistake until it's too late and there are little wet hand prints all across the kitchen floor and the sliding glass door.

I can't eat anything in front of Colin without sharing.  When he discovers me hiding behind the half wall in the kitchen scarfing down my ham sandwich, he lurches at me groaning, "UNNGGHHHHHHH."

ALWAYS with that terrible noise. Always, "UNNNNGGGHHHHH."

Colin doesn't babble much. He's usually very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that Jared and I wonder if he hasn't been delayed in his speech because of his numerous ear infections.

But that noise? Oh that noise. It is terrible. That noise is like waking up at 3AM in sweat-drenched sheets. It's like the pins and needles in your foot when you've woken it from slumber. It's like getting a splinter in your eye.

I wish I could convey this horrible noise through type but I can't. Nothing could prepare you for a day full of that terrible noise. I'd rather wait 4 hours at the DMV. Match 6 laundry baskets full of slightly different but mostly similar socks. Steam and an entire house-worth of moldy wallpaper. Be on the receiving end of 3 simultaneous root canals.

That noise. Anything but that noise.

The only thing that makes that noise worse is that it's usually directed at me. I'm not fast enough with his food. I took away that steak knife he was chewing on. I don't have my boobs in his mouth. I shouldn't be putting him down for a nap. I shouldn't be paying attention to the phone. Why am I putting him into that car seat again? How come he has to wear that stupid hat when we leave the house. Most of all, how dare I eat anything in front of him without sharing.

If Colin and his terrible noise were my only problems, I think I could persevere. But that's not even it.

Oliver has been mastering the art of whining. We've been cracking down on his attitude and more time outs have been served than ever before.  We take away bedtime stories. We take away his favorite snacks. We take away TV. We take away toys that haven't been picked up.

I feel like I'm running a police state but he's starting learn to behave. He catches himself whining and he tries hard to stop it. He hasn't pushed Colin or yelled at Colin for maybe 10 days. He's been getting ready for bed without complaints for the last week.

All of this work is paying off but it is still completely tiring. I hate listening to him in time-out while he sobs that I don't love him, that he hates living here, that his entire life is ruined. He really says all of that. He is the most dramatic 3 year old ever in the existence of time, thanks to a few tricks he learned at preschool.

That's about the only thing I've been trying that has been working.

I signed up at the gym to escape the house and the kids. I went for my first meeting with my trainer and it was a disaster. Colin screamed the entire time I was gone. When I picked him up he was crying in the corner and hyperventilating, surrounded by other babies but not a single staff member to comfort him. The big kid childcare area was chaos. Oliver said he was pushed down multiple times by two different boys.  He said he had to wait to go potty so long his bladder "almost exploded." I was given a pager, but they didn't page me. Colin was so upset by the time I made it back there that it took me ten solid minutes to get him to calm down.

I can't accept that, so I'm canceling the membership.

I misjudged the days of the week and forgot to bring Oliver to preschool on Tuesday. On Thursday I remembered to bring him, but I forgot that it was his day to bring his teddy bear and he was pretty disappointed.

I tried to take the kids out to run errands, but Colin was crabby. Oliver threw a tantrum on the way out when I told him he had to put on his mittens. At that point I was already so angry that I yelled at him right there in Target. I told him to walk to the car without his mittens and let his hands freeze. It was bitterly cold, well below zero. I felt horrible dragging him through the cold to the car with his hands exposed and tears freezing onto his cheeks. I apologized to him in the car but I still felt like I hurt him.

Jared & I had tickets to a show last weekend but we didn't go because I was too angry at everything in my bathroom not going right. I bought a new towel rack to replace my old one, and I asked the man for a 24" long one so I could cover up my old holes. 24" was a standard size, so I picked the one I liked and started putting it up. After I had already put in the drywall anchor for one side, I looked more closely at the box. In huge print it read, "24 in. Towel Bar" but on the bottom of the box it read in tiny little letters, "Actual measurement 25 inches." Nothing about the bar was 2 feet long. Not the brackets. Not the length of the bar. Not the inside measurement of the bar. Nothing. Why do they call it a 24 inch towel bar!?

Parts to the light fixture I ordered were missing and the customer service rep was annoying. One of the new "never-change" light bulbs already burnt out. I accidentally messed up my fresh caulk lines and had to tear them out and re-do them. One of the new light switches I bought was defective so I had to return it. Home Depot screwed up my paint order so I had to repaint one wall several times.

None of those thing are really so bad and I probably wouldn't have minded but I'm just so tired that it was more than I could take. I couldn't imagine going out to dinner so I stayed home and worked to fix all of my problems. I still can't decide if that was a good idea or a bad idea.

Also, in general, because I've complained so much I might as well not stop here:

  • My car has flat tires and so I'm stuck at home.
  • My car doesn't like to start in the cold and so I'm stuck at home.
  • It is super super cold and so I'm stuck at home.
  • Colin hates going into his car seat and putting on his hat and mittens and so I'm stuck at home.
  • Colin and Oliver have been waking up in the middle of the night all week long.
  • The dog is terrified of the wind and has been under my feet all the time.
  • Oliver's preschool options for next year cost approximately $1mil.
  • I fell down the stairs because there was a Clifford sticker stuck on the bottom of my sock.
I really wish it were just our circuits that were overloaded. If I only I could get the electrician to fix me, too. I'd gladly pay the $200.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No, my bathroom still isn't done.

I've been super angry at the bathroom "remodel" because for some reason the tiniest things are going wrong and then I need to go back and fix them times one million.

So, no, my bathroom isn't finished yet. Sooon, people. Soon. And then I will post pictures.

In the mean time, we have been hanging out at home because I am too angry to quit my projects and leave the house. Also, it's freezing outside. Enjoy some photos of my children while they sat at home and did nothing.

Excited to eat a cheese stick.

Enjoying bath time. ***

Still enjoying bath time after an accidental dunking.

Very intensely into video games with Daddy.

Very intensely into watching big brother play video games with Daddy.

Very intensely into ruining my clean laundry.

*** Dear Colin, I'm sorry you have such sticky-outie ears.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Colin, neglected second child.

Sometimes I forget that Colin hasn't done all of the things Oliver has done already. I haven't even thought about starting a baby book for him. I know there would be no point, because I'd spend 2 hours trying to fill it all out on his 4th birthday or something.

He's what, 8 months old? 9 months? Something.

This afternoon I looked up from doing dishes and Colin was standing up without holding on to anything. My first thought was, "Do you think I have time to finish washing this bowl before he falls down and starts screaming?"

With Oliver I would have dropped the bowl and gone running for my camera. I probably would have called somebody and told them about it. But not poor, neglected second child Colin. He'll be lucky if I remember to tell Jared about it at the dinner table.

 It's not all bad for Colin, though.  He might miss out on some of that special obsessiveness I used to have, but he is entitled to other benefits such as:

1. Eating a lot more dirt/paper/dog hair while being left unattended.
2. Being allowed to eat mac & cheese and ice cream at a ridiculous age.
3.  Not having to put on airs and pretend that I put pants on him and/or comb his hair when we leave the house.
4. Exposure to a myriad of choking hazards around the house left from big brother.
5. Less frequent doctor visits, thanks to less noticing and fretting of weird symptoms.

When he gets older he'll probably complain that I never buy him new clothes or new toys. He'll probably complain that he can't take karate lessons or go to 1st grade or climb the tall parts of the jungle gym.  

But for now? This kid is very excited about our lackluster parenting.

Sitting by himself on the dirty monorail.

Antagonizing big brother.

Not having to walk at the zoo.

Stealing spaghetti from me.

Playing with the most obnoxious toys.

Terrorizing the dog without wearing any pants.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

DIY Strikes Again.

Womp womp.
As you can see, our kitchen didn't have a backsplash. The wall was plain, unsrcubbable white. And that wall, coupled with the unfortunate counter tops and green cabinets... Well. The kitchen just wasn't right.

I wanted to tile a backsplash (and I would have tried my hand at that, too) but tiling is just not a good idea for us right now. We HATE the counter tops and we want to get new ones, so fixing the backsplash before putting in counter tops seemed like a backwards way to go about things. Since both counter tops and tiling cost more money than I'd like to know right now, I settled for a temporary fix.

I painted a backsplash.

I taped off the cabinets and then measured out "tiles" to paint. In stead of being normal and purchasing a square or even a ruler, I measured out our tiles in Jiffy cornbread boxes. A box of spaghetti was my square.

Flattering photographic evidence of me taping and measuring.

It worked, okay? And it cost me $0.

When I had everything taped and measured. I painted.

It took me two afternoons and an evening to tape off my lines and paint tile by tile. I'm pretty sure the paint color that we got was not the paint color that we asked for at the paint counter. At any rate, I'm definitely sure that I expected the paint to be more green than blue.  But it is what it is.

I pulled off the lines and... Presto! A backsplash, fake-it-til-you-make-it style.
Before & After Magic.
It's still not the kitchen of my dreams, but it's a start.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

DIY Victory

Helper Dog, always ready to turn 35 circles on your drop cloth and be a general pain in the butt.
We've been working on a lot of home improvement projects to make our house really awesome. We had a new driveway poured. We had new flooring laid. We hung curtains. We're picking paint colors.  We're getting quotes for new windows. It's exciting to be expressing ourselves in our living spaces and to take a pride our workmanship and design.

Fireplace mantel before.
When we first bought our house, the draw for me was that we were our own landlords. We didn't have to live in fear of neighbors on the other side of our walls overhearing our plans. We could play loud music and cook stinky foods and change our locks and paint our walls. It was ours. I was first and foremost excited about our freedom, about sticking it to the man, Mr. Landlord.

But now that we've been in this house for over a year? I'm excited that it's ours. I'm excited that people can come over and see what we've done. I feel comfortable knowing that our kids have a place here that's safe to grow in, a place that they will remember as home. They will remember the train tracks that snaked down our hallways, forever a trip hazard. They'll remember loving and hating shoveling our driveway. They'll think about eating "picnic" lunches together out on our deck. The boys will paint and repaint their bedrooms as they change and grow.

In our family photos, our house will always be the faithful backdrop. We'll look back in 20 years and say, "Can you believe you hung those ugly curtains!" "What were we thinking when we bought that couch?" "Whose idea was it to paint THAT colour?"

Every little project I complete makes me feel like this house is more an extension of us. Even if all I've done is hung a toilet paper holder, I look back and think, "I did this." I feel so accomplished when I change something and I get to sit back and admire it, knowing that my own hands have touched it.

Fireplace mantel during.
This feeling is something I didn't expect when we first started house shopping. We bought the house because it made financial sense. It gave us space. It gave us something to show for the money that we parted with each month. It was just the next step in growing up.

What I didn't expect was the attachment. I didn't expect the enjoyment. I didn't imagine I would have so much fun lying in bed at night brainstorming new ways to update the kitchen, fix the ugly cabinets, paint the walls. I guess what I didn't understand was the "pride in ownership" that people talk about.

Fireplace mantel after.
Today I refinished our fireplace mantel. It seems like nothing, right? Really, it is nothing. It was a simple job. But I still put in those hours with my own paint-stained hands.  I spent the afternoon sanding off the shiny outdated varnish. I cleaned up all of the sawdust. I taped off the walls. I painted one coat, two coats, three coats with careful slow brush strokes. When I finally pulled off the painter's tape, I felt like I had just laid a brand new fireplace brick by brick.

It's true that all I did was paint a mantel. It's true that I've got a lot left to do. But at least I did something. It's one step closer to my final end goal. It's one more experience under my belt. One more thing that makes this house ours.

And that just feels so good.