Thursday, January 29, 2009

A note

I’m going to take a temporary break from blogging as we make time to visit Rob’s mother in the hospital, be with his family and work through this difficult time together. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Digital deluge

For what it’s worth, today’s Ledger-Enquirer includes my musings on how our digital camera may eventually crowd us out of our own house, given all the photos and photo albums it’s producing as we go overboard documenting the lives of Will and Owen. Of course when it comes to being a tourist in my own life, this blog only exacerbates the problem. Even Will’s caught the bug. He’ll strike a pose or hide under a blanket, and shout, “Wouldn’t this make a good picture? You should take a picture of this.” Most of the time, I comply.

At least I haven’t caught scrap-booking fever yet. Then we’d surely need to add on an extra room to our house.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pedialyte Brown

Will has a certain infatuation with Pedialyte popsicles. It was a love affair that began after a hospitalization. At about 15 months old, Will acquired a particularly nasty case of rotavirus and try as we might to force feed him the regular liquid Pedialyte (we used syringes to no avail), he wound up dehydrated enough that our pediatrician at the time decided he needed to get IV fluids. Unfortunately it wasn’t until he was recovering in the hospital that we learned about Pedialyte popsicles, which he would have happily sucked on for hours on end.

For a long time, he loved the things even though he obviously had them very rarely. On one occasion when Owen had a diarrhea bug and got to suck on a Pedialyte popsicle, Will envied Owen so much that he voiced his yearning for a bad case of diarrhea himself. All so he could suck on some icy Pedialyte.

Lately I haven’t heard him pining for Pedialyte popsicles, but apparently he’s still got them on the brain. Tonight as he tried to recall the name of the fictional hero Encyclopedia Brown – he found a fitting replacement (for Will at least) for that cumbersome “encyclopedia” word.

“Mom, we should read more chapter books,” he said as I came to say good night while Rob read a chapter book to him on the couch. “Remember that Pedialyte Brown book, dad? We should read that one.”

Rob and I just laughed.

I am looking forward to reading more chapter books with Will, even if we don’t ever get to dive into the mysteries facing young Pedialyte Brown. Lately that enviable "chore" of chapter-book reading has fallen to Rob, while I’m getting Owen to bed. Will and I tend to read shorter tales in the afternoon while Owen’s napping, but I’d like to get to dig into a longer book with him again soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today I got teary-eyed watching that amazing crowd of hopeful people on the Washington mall and seeing President Obama take the oath of office. I’m sure there are plenty of cynics out there who’d call me a sap, and in a way I join them in wondering how in the world even the most able leader could guide us out of the mess we’ve created for ourselves -- but I’m inspired by our new president and seeing that inspired crowd gives me hope for our country and our world.

At the same time this morning, I was thinking of Rob’s mom, who I visited in the hospital on Saturday. I’ve been carrying a picture of her around in my head – weary, battered by all that’s she been through and yet still smiling at us in spite of it all – ever since we saw her. And that’s made me weepy too.

This evening we heard from Rob’s sister that Ann had her best day so far. For the first time in two weeks of hospitalization -- after suffering a stroke and kidney failure among other complications from her pneumonia -- she sat in a chair for a while instead of being confined to the bed. And she called Rob’s dad by name – or by her name for him: “Dad.” So we’ll take hope for Ann and hope for our country all at once.

On a lighter note, we watched Obama take the oath of office and deliver the first part of his inaugural speech on videotape with Will and Owen on our laps tonight. I’d pointed out that people were listening to Obama in Atlanta and other parts of the country as the cameras cut to various locations where people were watching the speech via television. When I asked Will if he thought Obama was a good speaker, he said, “Yeah, he speaks really loud. People can hear him across the states.”

And when Rob pointed out our new vice president, Joe Biden, Will asked, “Is that the guy who kept talking about Joe the Plumber?”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Buzz boy

Today while I was out running errands, Rob and Will conspired to surprise me with this:

Will's hair reduced to buzz cut.

They were smart to do it while I was away because I would have protested if I'd been on site.

I'm one of those mother's with a certain nostalgia for my boys' hair, so I'm kind of missing Will's now and awaiting the day when it returns to a nice state of shagginess.

Now Owen's got more hair than Will -- but Rob's threatening to do the buzz on him too (to clean up the wispy bits). I lobbied against that idea -- if the poor kid has almost none of the stuff, surely we should let him keep what little he has?

But Will sided with Rob: "Dad, because mommy can't stop a hair cut you can just do it! That's the only thing I say."

I guess I better get used to not getting my way.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fighting the nighttime cough

An NPR story yesterday serves as a warning against using Vicks VapoRub on very young children especially directly under their nose after an 18-month-old was hospitalized with respiratory problems after her parents had applied Vicks under her nostrils (all of which is counter Vicks’ indications, which says the product should be applied to the chest, throat or aching muscles and used on children over 2). The report, which also detailed some follow-up research on lab animals, sparked my interest since at least three or four times since becoming a mom I’ve received a forwarded e-mail suggesting that a great cure for a kid’s nighttime cough is to rub Vicks VapoRub liberally on their feet and then cover the feet with socks to protect the sheets. The latest research on 15 lab ferrets whose congestion worsened instead of improved with Vicks VapoRub seems like it’s based on fairly skimpy data, but maybe it’s still a good cautionary tale. describes the Vicks-on-the-feet claim as “undetermined” and cautions toward the end of their analysis that some health agencies advise that camphor, which is in Vicks, should not be used on children. I guess that’s enough to make me wary. I never did try the Vicks-on-the-feet trick, and I probably won’t go experimenting with it now. But if any of you swear by it, I’d be curious to know.

When Owen and Will were both battling some brutal nighttime coughs during our Christmas vacation in Colorado, my cousin reminded me of this article I’d posted on the blog a year ago about using honey for a cough. I’d forgotten the tip (another testament to my lousy memory), but started giving a half teaspoon of honey to Will and a quarter teaspoon to Owen each night and their coughing did seem to let up quite a bit. One pediatrician on yesterday’s NPR story also mentioned the beneficial effects of honey on coughs. (Just remember that honey is not safe for babies under 1, due to the risk of infant botulism.) It’s nice to find research that backs up a good old-fashioned, chemical-free home remedy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The dog dilemma

On a recent trip to the park, Will and Owen and I were walking along a path when both boys noticed a couple approaching with a large dog on a leash. Owen started pointing and exclaiming “Dog! Dog! Dog!” with unfettered joy. Will, meanwhile, hid behind a light pole in fear.

On our way home from the park, Will said, “Mom, I wish I were Owen because then I would love dogs.”

Will, who does love his aunt’s poodles, has been gradually developing a big-dog phobia.
When a big friendly dog comes bounding at Will, eager to play, Will starts shrieking. Our latest big dog incident came in Colorado, when about 3 seconds after we walked in the door of my cousin Emily’s house, Will saw her big friendly dog, Juneau, enter the room. At the mere sight of harmless Juneau, Will jumped from his chair in fright and impaled himself upon his cousin Max’s play fire station, giving himself a bloody lip in the process.

So Rob and I began wondering if we shouldn’t go ahead and get the dog we’ve been thinking of acquiring sooner rather than later. To acclimate the kid. The only problem is a couple years ago Will was diagnosed with a minor dog allergy – in spite of the fact that we’ve never owned a dog. So if we get a dog we need to either get a strictly outdoor dog or go the way of the Obamas and select a hypoallergenic breed.

I’ve been reading more over the past couple nights about these supposedly “hypoallergenic dogs” and to a certain extent, it seems, the whole concept’s a myth. While dogs that are smaller and shed less do seem to create fewer problems for people who are allergic, all dogs produce allergens and it’s hard to predict how an individual will react to any particular dog. Here’s a New York Times article on the subject along with a little a little blurb from
None of this bodes well for my dreams of getting a shelter mutt and Rob’s dreams of having a big dog like the golden retriever he had growing up.

I’m half inclined to take Will back for the pin-prick tests on the off chance he’s outgrown his allergy. Otherwise we may just need to abandon our plan to welcome an indoor dog into our family and buy ourselves a hypoallergenic iguana.

Anyone have advice when it comes to dogs and allergies?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Long-distance hugs and prayers for Nana

Today Rob is in Athens, where his mother has been hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia. The boys and I had to stay home, but in our own way we are sending our thoughts and prayers to our Nana.

Here is Owen, giving Nana a sweet hug in his sleep when he was just a little guy...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Art in the bathtub

Here’s a suggestion for an alternative canvas for your child’s next painting project:

the bathtub.

A couple days ago, I helped Will mix together a half batch of a recipe for bathtub finger paints that I found in “The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions,” which Will got from one of his great grandmothers for Christmas. We added red food coloring, the only food coloring I had on hand, and Will stripped down to his bare naked self and painted stick figures, snakes and other undecipherable squiggly lines all around the tub. He used a paint brush instead of his fingers but any method would work.

Rob thought it looked like a murder scene, but Will thought it was a most joyous experience. And cleaning the stuff of with a wash cloth seemed to entertain him as much as the painting itself.
Here’s the recipe (which apparently also works fine as a traditional finger paint for paper):

1/3 cup clear, liquid dish detergent
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Food coloring

Mix detergent and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Pour the mixture, in equal parts, into several sections of a plastic ice cube tray. Add 1 to 2 drops of food coloring to each section of the tray and mix with a small spoon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas roundup

We've finally downloaded our vacation photos. Here's a sampler:

This year we enjoyed sharing Christmas with three great-grandmas,

two in Atlanta
and one in Colorado.
Will and Uncle Graham show off some newly unwrapped Christmas treasures, a Superman suit and some adult-sized glow-in-the-dark dinosaur footie pajamas.

Will works on the snow cave.

Owen enjoys some hill-free backyard sledding.

Will takes on the slopes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Collards for the New Year

I’m not necessarily good at keeping New Year’s resolutions but this year one of mine is to finally join a CSA so we can start getting more food that’s fresh, local, a little healthier, and a little more environmentally friendly. First though I need to convince myself that my family will actually eat the kind of food we’d be getting. I’m not worrying about things like arugula, eggplant, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces, garlic, basil and blueberries. That we will devour. But I’m resolving to get a little more adventurous in the kitchen with things like kale and collards, turnips and beets as a sort of test run before we commit to buying produce that only I’m willing to eat. Yesterday I decided to start things off with a 2-pound bag of Georgia-grown collards, appropriate for a New Years meal. I found this recipe for a curry sweet potato-collard-carrot-tomato-chickpea stew (I also threw in some olive oil), which when served with some basmati rice and homemade cornbread made for a nice meal. I gave Rob a pep talk about it all and he decided to maybe not exactly love, but at least like, the collard stew and while the boys mostly shunned the collards they at least picked around them and gobbled up everything else. Owen even ate a few of the collards, which I think led to some later indigestion, but oh well… If you have family-friendly recipes that put locally grown produce to good use (including a recipe that actually inspires the kids to eat the collards too), please share.

And Happy New Year!