Sunday, February 27, 2005


On Sundays I usually try to get out and get some exercise. Today was beautiful, so I took the kids on a long bike ride. We have this great bike trailer from Target that both the kids can ride in. Its great because even if I totally wipe out, they won't fall! After biking for about 30 minutes, I stopped at the big City park and let Anna out to pee. I thought I'd also let the kids run around for a few minutes before strapping them back in the little trailer. Colin ran right over to the basketball courts with his miniature ball. As I tossed his ball into the basket for him, he spied the mudpuddles next to the court and ran through them. "Oh no!" I said, but then, it was such a beautiful sunny day, and it was such a nice sight to see a boy running through the puddle with such delight. Oh well, I thought, the shoes are already wet... I let him run through a few more times. The joyous laughter he made was like bells ringing in the air. Then he fell, and started wallowing in the water, then he was just falling on purpose. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, his sister came over and joined him and also started fake falling and wallowing. That's when I had to get on my mean mommy voice and tell them they were making me angry and they were not allowed to lay in the water, and then pretty soon I had to end the whole thing and drag Colin by his wrist to the bike while he whimpered. He was OK though, once I'd stripped him and given him some juice. At home they both got baths.

That happy little boy laugh is still in my ears.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Maybe cat

Who is this cute little feline, curled up on my green chair? He's a little stray cat, found behind my clinic. He is SO sweet. I neutered him on Thursday, and decided to bring him home for a trial run on Friday. When I came in with him, Anna said excitedly, "What is that? Oooh, its a kitty. I like his green eyes!" I told her he came to "spend the night." He was a good boy, and immediately peed in the litter box. So far he continues to behave like a gentleman, so his invitation has been extended. He slept part of last night curled up at the foot of Anna's bed. He is very patient with the kids. So far, so good!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Play the Drum

Here are Anna and Colin, "sharing" his Leap Pad Drum. Check out the curls!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Colin Loves Noodles!

Here is Colin devouring cheap Ramen noodles. He loves them! But that one small piece of homegrown organic broccoli picked moments before it was placed in his bowl - he refuses that.

We are all feeling much better today and going about our usual business. Thanks for all your kind comments.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Virus Strikes Back and Return of the Virus

When we called the nurse at our pediatrician's office about Colin's virus, she told us, "Make sure you wash your hands really well, because these viruses usually have a fecal-oral transmission." However, soap and water was not stopping this bug.

Sunday at midnight, I threw up all the Soothing Chicken Lettuce Wraps I'd eaten (not so soothing on the way up), and vomited about 4 more times, with the diarrhea, of course. A few hours later, Anthony started to get sick, too. Anna's school was off for President's Day, but not Colin's. I decided to muster every bit of strength I had to drive him to school. As excruciatingly difficult as it was, I knew it would be better than watching him out of the corner of my eye as I lay on the couch/not really watching him at all. Plus, all the preschool activity would wear him out much more than repeated episodes of Dora the Explorer. Colin was so excited about going to school, picking up his backpack and lunch, running out the door. Anna was excited to see her brother's school, but I was a little embarrassed to notice I hadn't brushed the rat's nest out of the back of her head while she chatted with the teacher. The drive home was about as fun as scratching your nails on the chalkboard for 20 minutes while trying to keep up a conversation with a plucky 3 year old. At home I crashed in the bed while Anna watched Nick Jr for a record 4 hours.

Anthony summonded up the strength to pick Colin up at 1, then he crashed and I put Colin to bed, and played Candyland with Anna. I made the kids bean burritos for dinner (Anna's favorite) and Anth and I were able to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. About 10 pm I decided to turn in, after reading my favorite blogs. Then Anna started vomiting.

We changed her sheets and gave her the bucket, but within minutes we were changing sheets again (you'd think we'd learn). Finally, we decided it would work better if someone slept with her, and of course she chose me. So instead of a restful night, I slept in her bed and woke up to help her vomit in the bucket every 30-60 minutes. The weird thing was, most of me didn't even mind. I felt so sorry for her, being so freshly reminded of how miserable persistent nausea is. Also, she was so sweet and trying so hard to be good - when you know she felt like total crap. We also took a nap together this afternoon, and I don't think we've done that since she was nursing.

She was almost normal at dinner tonight, actually eating some food. Anthony said, "You know it really grosses me out, that whole fecal-oral thing." Because believe me, we really do wash our hands around here. Religiously after the diaper changes. And the washing machine has been on overtime. Its not like we have dirt floors, either! But, when you live with these wonderful grubby little people, who love you with their whole little selves, and give big open mouthed kisses, I guess some sharing happens. If that's the price of this love, I'm happy to wallow in it.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I've created a Honey Monster

Last night at bedtime, Anna had a little cough, so I said to her, "Here, let me give you this little teaspoon of honey. Its what my mommy gave me when I was coughing and couldn't sleep." And when she was out of Robitussin, most likely. But last night it seemed sweet and cozy and Anna, of course, loved it.

Tonight, after our elaborate bedtime ritual, which is: bathe, pick out clothes for tomorrow, pick out PJs, pick out books, read books, sing 2 songs, get water with 5 ice cubes, count the ice cubes in Spanish, tell 2 stories about when she was a baby, talk about tomorrow's plans, and finally sneak out to obstensibly tell Daddy she needs a kiss, after all that, she said, "I have a cough. HACK HACK. I need honey." I said no, she didn't need honey, and she said, "I really do, I can't sleep, HACK HACK, I really need some honey." I said, "I'll see..." and shut the door. A few minutes later, she comes into the kitchen, "I have a really bad cough. HACK HACK. Hear that? That's a cough. Can I please have some honey?" I can see she's trying to add honey to the already overblown bedtime routine, and I am not going to add a big spoonful of pure sugar to the whole scene. I had Daddy put her to bed, but I sense her lingering around her bedroom door, hacking away. Better go nip this in the bud...

BTW, Colin is much better today, took a 3 hour nap, and if you start singing the Backyardigan's Pirate Song, he gamely chimes in at the chorus, "Argh, Argh, Argh!"

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Virus and a Movie

Last night we got the kids in bed around 8:30 pm, not bad for a non-school night. All was well until we heard some wheezy coughing from Colin's room at 10:30. Anthony went in there and found him vomiting next to a large pile of the beans-and-rice dinner he ate. (I know, I know, Emily always says Steph and I talk too much about bodily fluids. Goes with the toddler territory.) Poor Colin looked totally bewildered by the involuntary contractions ejecting the entire contents of his stomach.

We cleaned him up, sat with him awhile, and ended up changing his sheets 3 times before giving up and just keeping him on the couch with us with a bucket handy. I held him until 1 am. He was curled up in on top of my belly, and I thought about how he used to occupy that space 2 years ago. Except, of course, now he weighs 3.3 times what he did at birth, and even curled up his body stretches from my chest, over my belly, and onto my lap. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his eyelashes like the wings of a butterfly, briefly open and then close, open and close, until they remained closed. I put him in the crib and went to bed. Anthony got him up vomiting a few minutes later, we tried putting him in our bed, which he promptly vomited on, too. He continued heaving every 15-30 minutes, so Anthony sat/slept with him on the couch from 1 until about 6, when I relieved him, then took him to the pediatrician's at 9:45 am. By the time we got there, of course, he was jabbering happily, exploring the waiting room, and acting like I had munchausen by proxy to be taking him to a waiting room full of sick kids. They looked like he did a few hours before.

He's feeling much better now, took a long nap and ate a huge dinner. While he slept, I took Anna to see her first movie EVER in the theater, Pooh's Heffalump Movie. It was cute and short, but Anna is pretty sensitive, so at the part where the Heffalump starts crying and missing his mommy, Anna started missing her dad. He got some great hugs when we got home.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Iraqi War Memorial - Eyes Wide Open

I tried to write this post yesterday, but since I am new to blogging, I could not for the life of me figure out how to post pictures. Anthony could sense my frustration from the other room, and today figured it out AND posted all the photos for me. What a great husband.

Yesterday, I went to a traveling memorial for the Iraqi war. It was called "Eyes Wide Open," and the purpose is to illustrate the cost of human life for the war. A pair of combat boots sits on the ground for each soldier killed, along with his/her name, age, and hometown. It started in Chicago when there were 504 pairs of boots. Now there are over 1400.

I drove downtown to Zilker Park, where the memorial was set up. I brought Colin and Montana dog with me. It was a bright cool day, with a breeze that lifted our hair, and warm sunshine on our backs.

I wrapped Montana's leash around the stroller handle and pushed Colin up the hill to where the memorial was set up. There were several people quietly walking through the boots, stooping to read the nametags, and meditating. Since I had the stroller and the dog, I just walked around the perimeter of the boots. I knew it would be emotionally evocative, but I was totally unprepared for how suddenly I was overwhelmed by grief and emotion. It was devastating. The boots are arranged by state, and Texas was represented in the front. The first five names I read were for soldiers whose ages were between 18 and 20. Family and friends of soldiers had attatched flowers, ribbons, and other momentos to the boots. There were many pictures of the soldiers, with their wives, and small children. Many babies who would never know their daddies. Several boots had folded letters inside them. The soldiers in the photos all looked so strong, so young, so healthy, and so brave. None of them looked like they should be dead.

As I walked around the boots, Colin said, "Shoes.... shoes... flower... mommeeee... shoes...."

(cont on the next post)

To the side of the combat boots was a small display of ballcaps. Each had represents an American civilian contractor killed in Iraq. In the background, you can see a small portion of the shoes set out to represent Iraqi civilian deaths. Since there are no hard numbers on how many of these deaths there are, it is just a representation. Compared to the uniformity of the combat boots and ballcaps, these shoes are a jumbled assortment, just as you might see real people wearing on the street. There are men's leather dress shoes, wedges and pumps, sandals, and children's shoes.

(cont next post)

Unnamed Soldier

Soldiers are dying in the Iraqi conflict everyday, and they, too, are represented. On the back row of the exhibit were shoes for soldiers we know we've lost, but who are as yet, not publicly named.

Here is a picture of the memorial at a distance, as I walked away with Montana and Colin. Colin-O really needed to get down and play so we went across the street and walked the trails and played on the playscape. Later we went and ate some hamburgers. It seemed almost obscene to be enjoying the beautiful day when soldiers in Iraq risk their lives and mothers there fear for the safety of their children.

You can click on any of these images to open them into a larger picture. I'm afraid, however, my measley pictures and words don't do it justice. To stand in front of all of these empty boots, and imagine all those lost standing in front of you was a powerful experience. I strongly encourage everyone to see the memorial, if possible. Later this month, it is going to Dallas, and to Seattle in April. For more information, go to

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

DIY Ambulance

No matter how many baby books you read, no matter how much babysitting you do, no matter how much you imagine it, nothing can prepare you fully for how hard parenting can be. I never appreciated how hard it would be to get no more than 3 hours of sleep in a row for weeks. I never knew how hard it would be to do anything else while the sound of my own baby crying her heart out was happening in the other room. I never imagined how scary it would be to care for a sick infant.

And I never imagined I would drive myself alone to the emergency room.

That's what my sister did last night at 2 am. She'd been sick with a cold for about 2 weeks, then got this severe head pain, so bad she thought she'd pass out on her trip to the bathroom. She has twins, and one of them was still sniffly, so her hubby stayed home with the kids and she drove herself to the ER. They were afraid she had meningitis, so after many long hours of testing (including a spinal tap and CT scan) they determined she had a severe sinus infection in multiple sinus cavities, and sent her home with antibiotics and morphine.

I drove myself to the ER about 1 year ago. Something, either a virus or food poisoning, got me up at least hourly to vomit one Sunday night starting at about midnight. By the time I could feel myself getting dehydrated, Anthony was starting to ralph. I knew I had to make it stop, so that meant medical intervention. It was about 5 am on a Monday morning. We couldn't ask one of our neighbors to come over before work, expose themselves to our household, and ruin their sleep before work, just so Anthony could drive me to the ER. So, after I heaved, I pulled on my baggiest jeans and sweatshirt, and forced myself into the car. Anthony felt so bad but he had to stay and hold down the fort. I had to pull over into the WalMart parking lot to barf on my way there. Fortunately, I was seen right away, given Zofran and 2 (!) liters of saline IV, then sent home. When I got there, Anna was in our bed, and both she and Anthony were barfing. Anna and I moved to the couch, where she slept on my chest in between episodes of vomiting. Colin was just a scooting infant at the time, and I guess the breastmilk protected him, because he never got ill, just played with his toys on the floor. I remember apologizing to him as I put him down for his morning nap 30 minutes early, because I was exhausted and I wasn't really able to watch him. He cooed happily in his crib. Later, I took Anna into her pediatrician where she got an injection for nausea and didn't even cry. We all woke up better the next day, and the fog cleared, but it still seemed like we'd been in a time warp and missed a whole calendar day.

When my mom told my dad about my sister driving herself to the hospital, and that I had done it too, he said, "Our girls sure are strong." But, I guess that's the thing about parenthood: you realize you have to rise above the situation, and sometimes you have to seek out help for yourself so you can take care of your family.

Get well soon, Steph.

Monday, February 14, 2005

I HEART Cystotomies

Today was a great day at work. I got to do one of my most favorite surgeries EVER. A cystotomy. That means cutting open the bladder and removing the stones (uroliths).

I love cystotomies because it is usually a straight forward surgery on a relatively healthy patient. There is a problem (stones in the bladder) that is causing discomfort and disease in the patient. It is easy to access the bladder, remove the offending stones, and sew the patient up. Just like that, the patient is CURED! Hooray! Of course, there are some post op issues, like finding special diets so the patient doesn't form stones again, but over all the surgery is easy and successful and fun. Plus, I have a clever way of suturing the bladder wall shut in an inverting pattern that pleases me to no end. I enjoy other surgeries, but they have other draw tumor removal - could be malignant, could be difficult to close; dentistry - technically can be difficult; exploratory abdominal surgery - who knows what danger lurks in there....

Other highlights from today: seeing 2 very nice, very sweet young labs that were recently adopted by nice clients, puppy booster shots, and a lunch time visit by my husband and my son. My co-workers hadn't seen Colin in a long time and loved his long, curly blonde hair and his butterfly tattoo on his arm. (What an Austin dude!)

Much better than last Monday. The clinic had 5 euthanasias that day. Two of those were mine, an old cat I'd been trying to make better but couldn't, and 7-year old dog, long time patient of the clinic, with kidney failure that had suddenly gotten worse. Five adults drove in to say goodbye to that dog. You know its a bad day when the euthanasia solution sits on out on the counter all day. Everyone in the clinic was glum.

But, today was a great cystotomy day. And when I got home, Anna had a small pile of Valentine's cards and only a little bit of candy from her school. And there are 25 students in her class!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Pre-School Days

Anna attends a local Montessori school, which she loves, and we do, too. It is very structured, and they emphasize things like life skills, independence, and responsibility - as in you are responsible for your own mess. They have really helped her learn to be potty trained and get on the road to reading.

On the days I work, Colin attends a preschool at a church in Round Rock. I liked their program because they have 2 adults for every 6 children, and the facilities look clean and organized. Since its only 9-1, Anthony gets to do all the pick up and drop off. He's noticed some differences in the schools. Colin's school is more like structured playtime.

Colin's school is closed Monday, Valentine's Day, so they told Anthony, "If you'd like to bring Valentine's for the other students, here's a list of names." A few nights ago I printed out some color valentine's day cards from the web, and wrote the names of the other students on them.

Today, Colin came home with a HAUL of Valentine's junk. Seems all of the other 5 students brought cards AND Valentine's minutiae as gifts. He got a cup with candy, mini bubbles, pencil, and stamp, and a twisty heart-shaped straw with a cut-out airplane, and a plastic heart filled with candy and an eraser and more bubbles, and it went on! One mom even made little gift bags that contained, in addition to candy and more plastic stuff, a homemade frame decorated with hearts.

I felt a little guilty that all we did was send homemade paper cards. But then I looked at all this stuff, and thought, other than the inherent value of chocolate, does any child really need more plastic paraphenalia? Did I really need to go to Party Pig and spend money on similar trinkets to keep up?

Anthony dismissed the whole thing as ridiculous, since 18-24 month olds really have no appreciation of Valentine's Day. And I think he's got a good point.

But I'll be more prepared at Easter.


While I was at work today, Anna wrote her first word unassisted. She writes her own name all the time, and will slowly take dictation (for thank you notes and stuff). But today while Anthony was on the phone, she took it to a whole other level.

She wrote her name on the back of an old business card, then she wanted to write Pooh Bear's name. She told me at dinner, "So I wrote P, then an O, then another O, then I didn't know what came next. So I looked it up." Which means she turned on my computer, when to, saw that POOH ends with H, turned off the computer, and finished her card! She's already looking up things on the web!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Viva la difference

Most of the time I commute from the northern suburbs of Austin way down to the south (some say hipper) side. It takes about 1 hour to drive to this clinic. However, it is worth it to me, since the clinic is the best that I have ever worked in, and I only commute part-time. The medicine is top-notch, the support staff is well trained, and the clientele is in love with their pets and affluent enough to pay for excellent care.

About once a month I work in a clinic in Round Rock (far North suburb) that is also good, but very different. It is a one-doctor clinic (the south clinic is 4 doctors), and usually I work to give the owner a break, or let him go to Dallas for a doctor's appointment. I still work there on occasion because I feel some loyalty -- it was one of the first places I worked when I first started doing relief work (temping) after my daughter was born, and they still invite me back. Also, it is about 10 minutes from my house, so I get home well in time for dinner, and can even see my kids on my lunch break. The staff he has working there are very fun and they do a good job, as much as they are allowed. And, I can earn a little extra money.

But, being a one-doctor practice makes for a different practice culture.

For one thing, since he's always there, he tends to do all the technical stuff. The staff can draw blood, but he puts almost all of the IV catheters in. He's a little cheaper when it comes to expenses. And, he helps take ALL the Xrays.

I like to interpret Xrays. I hate taking them.

At my regular clinic, we have trained staff that can take better films than me anyway. And there's enough of them for me to give them an Xray request, and go on to do other work.

At the Round Rock clinic today, we had a 95-lb mastiff, 1 year old, who was a chronic vomiter/regurgitator, whose vomiting had gotten worse over the last week, was not eating, and was losing weight. I wanted to rule out megaesophagus and foreign body obstruction, and that meant Xrays.

I put on the lead apron, which at this clinic is the most UNCOMFORTABLE I've ever tried. Instead of having wide shoulder straps to support the weight of the apron, these have a knotted strap. After about 30 seconds that knot is boring into your lower neck. Then, there is the technique chart that makes NO SENSE. So, I make my best guess at the settings. The staff never take the Xrays, so they have no clue how to help me. And there is only one cassette.

Because Xray pictures are a 2-dimensional view of a 3-dimensional animal, you almost ALWAYS have to take 2 views, so most clinics have 2 preloaded cassettes of film. At this clinic, you take one view, wait for the tech to change out the film, then take another view.

I wanted 3 shots, actually (lateral chest, lateral abdomen, and ventral dorsal abdomen). So, the tech put the phones on hold (the other girl was at lunch), we lifted the beast onto the table, took one view, she changed the film, took a second view, she changed the film, then tried to take the abdomen shot, with the dog laying prone on his back. It was a struggle to convince this large deep-chested young dog to lay still on his side for the first 2 films, and IMPOSSIBLE to get him to lay on his back, so we punted and shot it with him "squatting" on his abdomen.

The first set of films were all too light. So, I adjusted the technique and we reshot. OK, but I was still unsure of the esophagus, and the DV abdomen was still too light, so we reshot it, gave him a little barium, and reshot the lateral chest. Then I gave him a little barium in food, to be sure, and reshot it again.

So that's 9 films, with an uncooperative dog, with an uncomfortable apron. It took well over an hour.

The good news for the dog is he definitely doesn't have mesaesophagus, and I couldn't see an obstruction (so no surgery needed). I decided he had gastroenteritis (or possibly IBD) and treated him medically (reglan, bland diet, etc). The bad news is, the husband owner was VERY CONDESCENDING to his wife, telling her "Why do you even open your mouth when you are just going to lie to the vet? Why don't you just go wait outside," when answering the question, how often does he vomit? That sweet dog has to go home with those people.

Sure was great to go home to my precious demanding children and wonderful husband 10 minutes after quitting time.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The First Post

Okay, this is my first foray into speaking publicly on the internet. I am keeping this blog so that hopefully friends and family can stay up to date on the goings-on in our life, and maybe some lurkers can also enjoy the adventures.

My 3 year old daughter, Anna, went to her Preschool Cooking class today, and they made "Edible Playdough." I thought that was pretty cool; should be very handy for her 20-month old brother, Colin, who I haven't let use playdough yet because I thought he might eat it (even though it is nontoxic). We did finally have to take it away from Anna so that she would be able to eat at least some of her dinner. Here is the recipe:

1 (8 oz) jar smooth peanut butter
6 tbsp of honey
Nonfat dry milk powder

Combine the first three ingredients, using enough dry milk powder to make a dough. Then knead, shape, roll, and decorate with raisins, nuts, or sprinkles. Then eat and enjoy!