Saturday, February 27, 2010

A shower without the giftwrap

Today I hosted a nontraditional shower/blessingway for a first-time mom-to-be, who is also a good friend and one of Rob's co-workers. We skipped the usual unwrapping of presents and instead brought a bunch of unwrapped second-hand baby toys, infant seats, bouncy seats, swings, cloth diapers, clothes and more for her to either borrow or keep. And then we had an envelope for monetary contributions so she can get exactly what she needs.

We had a tasty potluck, so that even though I'm recovering from pneumonia I didn't have to do any more work than the other shower-goers. And in the time we could have spent unwrapping presents, we instead strung a necklace for her, in blessingway tradition, placing beads on it from each of us as we shared birth stories, thoughts about her, and shared memories with her. We also gave her a little foot soaking with lavendar bath crystals.

I am always grateful for the time I spend with women at a blessingway-style shower. It's so nice to bond, to hear each other stories, to share some heartfelt appreciation for one another, and maybe even get a little teary-eyed together.

Thanks to my friend Tina, now far away in Sweden, for introducing me to the concept.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time to consign -- and bargain shop

It's that semiannual time of year when I consign the requisite 25 items so I can go to the Just 4 Kidz consignment presale. If you're like me, and prefer to get kids clothing recycled and bargain-priced, check out the web site. Consignment drop-off starts this week and the sale is March 2-13.

On a side note, my pneumonia is finally clearing up, even though I still don't have much voice. My energy is returning, and I'm discovering new ways to keep myself healthy -- everything from Chinese herbs, raw garlic, plenty of rest, a dairy-free diet temporarily, and a whole new method of breathing -- Buteyko style (I apparently managed to trigger some asthma for the first time with my little respiratory disaster.). I can say that there is nothing like a bout of pneumonia to make me cherish my normal good health.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Audio books to the rescue.

One of the most frustrating things for me about this long battle with pneumonia has been my inability to read to Will and Owen without coughing a bunch or getting short of breath.

Last weekend we picked up some books on tape for Will to substitute for my reading when Rob's at work. Will has an insatiable appetite for stories and the only reason we ever stop reading a chapter book is because I call an end to our reading session, pointing out all the work I have to do.

So with an audio book, there is no stopping Will. He listened to three-quarters of William Steig's "Dominic" the other day, wrapped up in a sheet like this for a couple hours. It was all I could do to get him to turn the thing off for dinner. Then he spent all of dinner retelling the story to us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

100 hearts

Over the past couple days, Will has developed a passion for cutting out construction paper hearts. He made 14 valentines for Rob, Will, Owen and I -- not to mention a few others for his teachers. I was too sick to organize an early Valentine-making project to mail off to our extended family, so if you fall into that category, please consider these an e-Valentines from Will to you.

A couple days before his heart-cutting venture began, Will was busy drawing hearts. He made me three get-well cards, all of which look about like this, featuring 90 colored hearts in total. I think those hearts have helped more in my recovery than any of the various drugs I’ve been prescribed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Southern snow

I read in the newspaper today that snow fell on 49 states yesterday – only Hawaii stayed snow-free. In our little corner of the country we got about 3 inches, a rare treat in Columbus. Georgia snow, when it does manage to stick (this happens once a year at most in our part of the state), is always perfect for snow man making. When we were in Colorado over Christmas, it stayed so cold that the snow was too dry for rolling snowballs.

Unfortunately Owen was cursed with a one-day fever that kept him inside with me yesterday while Rob and Will built our snowman for the year. The sun is out so he should be melting to the ground by this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I’ve stayed fever-free for almost three days now and I am so grateful to be regaining much of my old energy.

Post-script: Owen was back to healthy on Saturday, in time to make a baby snowman, which melted to nothing just hours after we built him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Count birds

Well my latest diagnosis after my fourth trip to a doctor in 3 weeks: atypical or "walking" pneumonia. I've been on antibiotics long enough now that I'm not contagious but I'm still feeling like a pretty pathetic excuse for a mom and wife. It's not in my nature to lie around and let other people work for me, but I'm trying to resign myself to it in the hopes of getting better faster. And I'm grateful to Rob for being super-dad for days on end. Luckily, winter break arrives tomorrow, so I can rest another week without missing any more work.

Anyway, if my blog posts are meager over the next little while, forgive me. This weekend since we'll be mostly cooped up at home anyway, I think we'll go ahead and participate in the annual Great Back Yard Bird Count. It's easy to do and there are resources for kids on the web site, so check it out and consider doing a 15-minute backyard birdwatching session with your kids. Or pack some binoculars and make an expedition of it -- somewhere beyond the home.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Potty Training 101

Today’s Ledger-Enquirer includes an article about my potty training adventures with Owen. At the writing of the piece, Owen had miraculously potty-trained himself and gone at least a week without accidents. We’ve regressed a bit since then. On one day a couple weeks back, when Owen was constipated and short on sleep, he had six accidents and about sixteen temper tantrums. Luckily that was a blip on the screen but we still have the occasional accident and we’ve begun wearing the thicker training underwear again, since Owen’s initial determination to wear Thomas the Train and Elmo wore off a bit. So Owen often produces a little dime-sized spot of pee on his underwear before he decides to declare that he needs to use the potty. Potty training is inevitably a long journey, even when it goes relatively smoothly. All I know is I’ve given away most of our diapers and put some spares in the closet, and unless we have some visiting guests in need of them, I don’t intend to pull them back out. Because once you get to underwear in my house, there’s no going back.

I’m not providing links to any Web sites this time around, because I decided to stick with the built-in incentives of potty training and follow Owen’s lead – and forget all the tricks and gimmicks this time around. It seemed to work better for us, but of course, it helps to have a big brother around. (We did read Joanna Cole's "My Big Boy Potty" on occasion, though; it's a nice little book.)
If you’ve got potty training tips or stories or online resources to share, please do.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oxygen please

I have been about as sick this week as I remember being in my life. I’m still not quite sure on the diagnosis – it’s just a month-long cough, fueled by a combination of viruses and allergies, that’s gotten more productive by the day and finally landed me in bed with fevers on and off this week. I’ve been on antibiotics to no avail and am now enduring a 5-day stretch of prednisone, which seems to be helping but also makes me unusually weepy and unusually prone to nighttime mind-racings.

Yesterday I was feeling so much better that I decided to accompany Will on his field trip to the fire station (especially because the prospect of visiting the fire station was making him jittery and he was threatening not to go if I didn’t accompany him).

Today I paid with the fever’s return, but yesterday we had fun.Watched a couple firemen race to get dressed, watched another fireman climb to the talk of the ladder on the ladder truck, saw the firemen’s living and sleeping quarters, tried on firemen’s helmets -- and Owen was overjoyed to use the fire station potty.

Maybe I should have hooked myself up to one of their oxygen tanks. If you’ve got a miracle home remedy for relentless asthma-like bronchitis mixed with sinus infection, please share.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Never been thinkin’ much ideas'

Sometimes it’s fun to listen to Will share his wisdom about the world with his younger brother. He’ll take a simple message learned from us – that those nighttime leg aches are probably just growing pains, or that avocado is supposed to be good for our brains – and warp the message just enough that it gets more interesting:

After a night when Owen had complained of leg aches, Will told him:

“Those are ache pains. Ache pains make you grow.”

Then at lunch, when Owen declined my offer of avocado on his pita sandwich, Will told him:

“It’s good for your brain. Why you’ve never been thinking much ideas is because you never have avocado.”

What little pearls of wisdom have your children shared with you lately?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Collecting pennies for peace

After a two-week Pennies for Peace fundraising drive at our preschool, Owen and Will and I pulled a wagon filled with a big, heavy jug full of coins into CB&T on Friday. We had a great time dumping the coins into the coin machine and watching as it calculated the money. We collected 6,769 pennies and about 1,200 other coins for a grand total of $300.29 – our modest contribution to help build schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
We read “Listen to the Wind” (Greg Mortenson's story of his first school-building experience in Pakistan) to our 3-year-old and pre-k classes and had fun sorting and counting change in the classroom. If you’ve got a tiny bit of spare time on your hands and the inclination to help your child’s school (or even just your family) launch a little Pennies to Peace drive, check out the web site. They make it simple and provide lots of online learning material.