Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kitties like boxes.....

And so do Kittyboys! (For my Facebook friends, if there are no pictures in this post, look in the "Playhouse" album)

We got a dishwasher Tuesday (woohoo! Dishwasher!) and so now we have this HUGE box with the bottom flaps cut off, and what can you do with such a thing but make a toddler playhouse? Husband cut a door that's still attached on one side, so it opens and closes (and opens, and closes, and opens, and closes, and opens, and closes..........) and on the opposite side, he cut out two windows using the outlines of the warning labels as a guideline. It has its own furniture (a little red chair) and flooring (a carpet sample), and he loves it. He told me I had to come inside ("You 'ouse!") and upon realizing that I fit about as well as Alice in the White Rabbit's house, changed his mind ("You out! You out!"). Currently, Elmo is sitting in the chair and Kittyboy is sitting on the carpet sample, having graciously given his guest the one piece of furniture. He's a very good host.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You won't believe where I found them.

Sometime in the wee hours of this morning, I rolled over and Husband said, "You won't believe what I think I just found." He'd shoved his hand in his pillowcase and woke up holding glass and wire.
Friday night, I had been reading before bed, and then I took my glasses off but still stayed up a bit, and apparently I had put them "temporarily" between the pillows. When Husband picked up his pillow to look under it and behind the bed (because we HAD thought of the between-pillows theory, and looked thoroughly), they slid in the pillowcase!!!! They were there all along!!!
And last night I was taking apart the bedroom again, trying to figure out how you COMPLETELY LOSE something that can only be a very limited number of places!
Found! I can see!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Spectacle Gremlin Strikes!

This house has a gremlin. It eats my husband's keys, and it HIDES MY GLASSES. And, um, I kinda need those.
Every night, I take off my glasses and put them on the nightstand. Every night. And they're not there. We've opened drawers to see if they fell in, we've looked behind and under the bed, we've looked on Husband's side of the bed, we've looked in the bathroom, no glasses. The Spectacle Gremlin has them.
We WILL find them, if for no other reason than they're in this house, but in the meantime I am wearing my old glasses. I can order NEW glasses on October 30th according to insurance, but we're planning for those to be prescription sunglasses, not conceding this pair to the gremlin.
My eyes are already tired and achey. It's not so much about the prescription (okay, for my left eye it is), it's the lenses themselves. The missing glasses were constructed to compensate for my blasted cataract as much as possible (yes, I have a cataract). These glasses on my face now were bought at Sam's about four years ago, no anti-glare coating, squarish lenses, and yeah, an old prescription in the left one. I drove to fill the gas can for the mower this morning, had the sun visor down and was squinting something awful, thinking, "Oh good heavens the sun's bright today" and then remembered just how much had gone into making my glasses. And what a wonderful change they were when I got them.
So now I'm trying to remember how I LIVED with these old glasses, and I'm remembering it wasn't good. For starters, I had basically stopped driving at night. Couldn't do it. Couldn't see. I hated driving when the sun was out. I have, in comparison to my new glasses, no peripheral vision to speak of. I find myself turning my head to look at stuff I'm pretty sure I should be able to glance at.
That gremlin better return my glasses, and SOON. In the meantime, I need to write on my hand, "NO NIGHT DRIVING!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Everyone who voted for Obama should read this

FACT: If the "Healthcare for all" bill goes through as-is, private insurance will be illegal. It won't be a matter of choosing between private insurance and public aid (which is what nationalized medicine will boil down to). You will have no choice. If you have insurance now, and for some reason need to change from one company to another - say, your position at work changes and insurance changes as a result - you won't be able to get a new policy. Not an option.
Here's the article from Investor's Business Daily.

It's Not An Option

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers. (...)

The article continues, but there's the meat of it.
Having had Medicaid for a year for Kittyboy and myself when he was first born, I wasn't working, and Husband only had 25 hours of employment a week, I can say from experience that private insurance is expensive but WORTH IT if you have the money.
We all know that the government goes with the lowest bidder. When the feds are picking up the tab, they decide how much they are paying. This means that if you have, say, cancer, and are on Medicaid, the government decides how much your life is worth. And what we're all going to have, eventually, is Medicaid. Even if you have the money to buy the insurance outright, the company cannot write you a new policy.

Seriously, read the article. This is insane.

New Skirt

Yes, I'm still sewing!!
I go through these spurts of activity when I do a whole bunch of one thing, obsessively. For a while it was crocheting. Then I discovered knitting looms, and it was that. Then Carey taught me to knit, and I knitted. Now it's clothing - and yes, I have tons of yarn, crochet hooks, knitting looms, and knitting needles floating in my wake. Basically, I just can't be bored.

I absolutely detest this picture. I loathe it. I despise it. I am standing lopsided (I mean, I know one of my shoulders is lower than the other, but surely not THAT low) and I had rolled up my shirt to better show the waist of the skirt and it makes me look lumpy as a result. Ew. So ignore the person IN the skirt.
The skirt, on the other hand, I adore. "Instant dress" remnant from Walmart, meaning the bottom hem was already finished and the top five inches already smocked with elastic. Finished hem, elastic waistline - all I did was sew the ends together last night. I love it.
Maybe I'll have a new wardrobe, by the time I'm out of my sewing phase!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making clothing - and granola

This picture is not the best, but I made my own skirt and blouse over the course of the last week or so - the blouse, entirely yesterday afternoon.

The skirt started life as a pair of girls jeans. I rarely wear femininely styled jeans, because having grown up wearing skirts, I just cannot get used to the tightness in the, ah, leg area. My favorite jeans are boys jeans, size 18. This one pair of girl's jeans looked nice on me, but were just not comfy to sit in, and furthermore both legs were stained. So I cut them off, just an inch below the zipper in front and the rear pockets in back, bought denim, pinned it in pleats around the bottom of what was left of the jeans, and started sewing. Took me a week to be completely done, what with hemming, and the discovery that a blanket stitch, though it prevents fraying, is not meant for actually bearing weight, and three yards of denim weighs a LOT. So I had to put in a running stitch behind the blanket stitch holding the pleats, and now it's all sturdy.
This skirt was inspired by the fact that both my jean skirts had buttons up the front, which did not bother me until I knelt too quickly in one and heard a ripping sound. Tore the fabric next to the lowest button. Why, in an article of clothing that should be the workhorse of the female wardrobe, would you put in a row of structural weaknesses from top to bottom? This annoyed me, and so I started trying to find jean skirts without buttons, and every one I found looked like a frumpy tent. No waist. Well, now I have one with no buttons, and a very well-defined waist - complete with belt loops and pockets.
The blouse was the easiest thing in the world. I folded in half a rectangle of t-shirt material I'd gotten from the remnant rack at Walmart. I sewed from the bottom up towards the fold, ending about a third to a quarter of the overall distance from the top, leaving it open for arms. I then folded it in half the other way and cut an opening for my head, and stitched (just a plain old running stitch) around the neckline so it won't stretch out. T-shirt material is my new best friend, as it requires no hemming. Whole shirt took maybe an hour.
In none of these adventures did I take a single measurement - and, perhaps because God looks out for idiots, they both turned out great.
I also made granola today - two cups of quick oats, two cups of Total flakes, a cup of applesauce, and every appley spice in the cabinet (cloves, cinnamon, etc). Mixed and baked for half an hour at 350, stirring every few minutes. For a first attempt, it is surprisingly edible. Not bad.
In either of these projects, had I measured, and then had something go wrong, I would have sulked and been mad and given it up for a failure. But, if it's an experiment spur of the moment, there IS no failure, only a lesson for the future if it doesn't work out!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Parenting, in terms of a wrestling match...

... because parenting a toddler IS a wrestling match, either physically in the grocery store parking lot (been there, done that) or psychologically for control. That may not sound nice, but it's the blunt truth. Toddlers are figuring out their world and their place in it, and finding out just how much grownups can and cannot force them to do against their will. This is why many (not all, but many) go through phases of fighting over everything - saying "No!" to everything, even things they like, just to see what happens - and why toddlers in general are known for being "difficult".
Some of us don't grow out of that. (hand waving). I don't throw tantrums per se, I never did (you can ask my mom!) - but, when I say I'm not doing something, I simply won't do it. And you can't make me. And I keep not doing it long enough for you to get the message. I don't think of myself as being patient, so much as being able to outlast you. I will dig in my heels. I will prepare for a siege. I will wear you down.
This makes me either perfectly or horribly suited to raising a toddler, depending on the situation. There are things which should not be made into battles, such as toilet training - only the toddler can control bodily functions. That, I concede to him. But there are many, many conflicts every day which come down to simply who can outlast whom.
Kittyboy decided at lunch that he was not feeding himself. It was soup, and I often help out a good bit with anything requiring a spoon, as he has not yet comprehended the force of gravity. I don't feed him every bite, he's a big boy and he's learning. And today, the soup being especially chunky and thus easy to handle, I told him he had to practice.
Cue tears. "Mommyyyyyyy..."
"No, you do it. You're a big boy." (see, I'm being positive!)
"Mommyyyyy, uuunnnnhhhh..."
"Nope, I'm not doing it. You do it." (consistency!)
I left the room to get his milk, pondering on the way what the rest of my day was going to look like. He's not going to nap long without lunch, make sure the pantry's locked or he'll be in the crackers... if nothing else, he can sit down again with his bowl of soup when Husband gets home.
Got back and he'd already given up and was feeding himself. And the very, VERY first thought in my mature, maternal mind was "HA! What a light-weight!"
I remember, somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, sitting an entire afternoon in front of a plate of candied sweet potatoes. I had taken one bite, thought it was absolutely the most disgusting thing I'd ever tasted, and I was not eating any more. Nope. Not happening. And my father being who my father is, I was also not leaving that chair until I had eaten it. I did have a tactical advantage, in that we were at a great-grandmother's house - we had to leave sometime, and of course no one's going to pack up the four-hours-cold sweet potatoes to send home with us. I won.
I remember the rule being that what wasn't eaten at dinner was served for breakfast. I had many dinners become breakfast. I had many then become lunch. I called home this afternoon to ask my mom if they then became dinner again, because I couldn't remember having any meal make it 24 hours, but neither did I remember eating them, and she said no, she usually gave up after lunch. I could go three meals without eating - she couldn't go three meals without seeing me eat something. I won.
If asked to do something I didn't want to, I didn't argue or whine, I just nicely and sweetly didn't do it.
I just thought it funny that the first thought coming to mind at that moment wasn't relief at not having my afternoon dominated by getting him to feed himself lunch, OR pride at what a good big boy he was being. It was, instead, a humorous scoff derived from wrestling/boxing terminology.
I STILL win.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

So we've learned the word NO

Kittyboy has been saying No repetitively for a while. After I would tell him no about something, he would say, "Me no, me no, me no..." as he walked off to find an alternative source of trouble. This morning, he is officially doing the toddler thing of using it for control.
I told him it was time for breakfast. "Nooo beket. Nooo beket." I asked him if he wanted a peanut butter and honey sandwich, since he had to HAVE breakfast. "Nooo pee buh unny." Would he like just peanut butter? "Nooo pee buh." Would he like honey? "Nooo unny okay."
Now, the way he forms his sentences, Okay at the end is a reaffirmation of the previously expressed sentiment - most of the time. He didn't put it at the end of the sentence rejecting peanut butter, however, which lead to confusion. Should that sentence be punctuated with a comma after unny, meaning "definitely no honey" or with a comma after nooo, meaning "Nothing else, but honey is okay"? And if I started putting the wrong thing on that bread, the world would END.
I handed it to him plain. He was happy. Sigh.
I should be a linguist.
Being the Original Strong-Willed Child from whom this one is descended, I'm hoping that I will have insight into his desires and motives and be able to better avoid conflict. The alternative, given our collective Strength of Will, is that there will one day be a smoking crater where our house was.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Party for Kittyboy

We decided to have a party tonight for our big boy! Fish sticks and french fries, his favorites, with ketchup, mustard, and tartar sauce for dipping. How elegant! He preferred his fish sticks in mustard and fries in ketchup and tartar sauce.

And of course, drinking from a big boy mug his Great-Grandma Martha got him! He thought that was cool, a mug like I drink coffee from all day!

And naturally, there was a present involved. And also naturally, the present involved POOH.

And the top of Pooh's head comes off! Not every day you see that! (It's a little plastic mug I found at our local Asian store a while back - he played with it for a day before I put it up on a shelf for fear he'd damage it or lose the "lid").

Drinking from Pooh. Pooh is the new favorite cup now, kind of a hassle since Pooh's head is not a smooth shape and so Kittyboy dribbles a bit when drinking from him - it - the mug thing.
Fish sticks and fries were the only things I could think of that he loves eating, but doesn't usually get. I considered and rejected the idea of giving him peanut butter and honey sandwiches for his special dinner, because he has one of those at least once a day - a favorite, to be sure, but not a TREAT. French fries are a TREAT.
Credits: (my post has credits!)
For the idea of deliberately celebrating a milestone that every child passes (but for him, it took work!), I credit this post by Jennifer Choi on her blog, Can Mom Be Calm.
For the idea of dipping sauces in jar lids, the Repurposeful blog.
The adorable music placemat was a gift from Carey (who will be happy to know he was trying to play the keyboard at the bottom!)
Pooh mug - $0.99 at Little World Mart.

We need to have more parties!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I can't believe I'm writing this. Six days of Kittyboy drinking only from a cup requiring his head to be in a neutral position - and offering him a cup with no lid at least two or three times a day - and this afternoon, I didn't even stress about finding him a lid when he was thirsty. Since Sunday morning, he has taken off. He can drain 2-3 ounces without incident before he asks for a lid. It should come as no surprise that his speech has gotten a little bit clearer, and meals are starting to move a little faster - less stalling while he figures out what to do with the next bite. New muscles are getting exercised, and it is a marvelous thing.
And no cough - his sinuses are acting up, but I've sneezed a lot today, so no doubt it's just something different in bloom.
I'm just in awe. Soooooo cool.
God is so good!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Adoption of Old Blue

Dear Readers,
Meet our new family member. Old Blue, as he has been named, is old enough to purchase his own alcohol if he so desired, though he prefers only gasoline (unleaded, please - his gas gauge requests).

Yes, that is a tape deck! I have a tape deck! The historical geek in me is absolutely thrilled to bits! Now I need cassette tapes! I know I have lots of Byzantine and Russian chant on cassette! Obviously, I shall be requiring more!

I drooled over these gauges the whole way home. I just love the boxy 80s look, they're so cool.
Okay, now really, we as a society are so out of touch when it comes to what constitutes luxury in a car. Luxury is not a navigational system that will happily direct you into buildings - rather, it is having plush velvet armchairs for front seats (above) and a couch in back (below).
Old Blue is an '88 Mercury Grand Marquis, a family heirloom generously passed down to us from a generous relative. I learned to drive in a 70-something Plymouth Grand Fury III jokingly named Christine (after the Stephen King novel by the same name), and fondly remember family road trips with ALL SIX of us in one car, comfortable as can be. Three in front, three in the back, and forget leg room, we children had sprawl room. Spread out a bit, have your bag with books and games or whatever in front of you, life was grand and glorious. Why, oh why, do they not make cars like that anymore? Forget having a TV screen in my car, I want plushness and comfort and sprawl room! Surely, surely you could take the interior dimensions of these ocean liners of the road and partner it with one of today's smaller, more efficient engines. Much easier to get in and out of than a minivan or an SUV.
And now, should Kittyboy happen to actually attain the roof of our house (for which he strives repeatedly, attempting to climb our backyard TV antenna that looks exactly like a ladder) and fall off of it, or do something similarly dramatic, I have a vehicle with which to go to the doctor! This is to be my "round about town" car - just around town, gentle driving, this is a car to coddle and pamper. I also think Old Blue will look quite handsome and dignified in the church parking lot. The perfect car for a leisurely Sunday morning and afternoon drive to somewhere two miles away!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Open Cup Trials, Day One

I realize the first three words of that subject line look totally random. "Open cup" means a cup without a lid, a Big Boy cup, a regular ol' cup like those from which most of the world consume their beverages. "Trials" as in trying something out, as in you hear of the FDA having a drug in "clinical trials".
We are trying Kittyboy, at the age of 2.5, on an open cup. No straw, no head-down positioning, just up, up and away with a totally open cup and his head aallll the way back so his airway's nice and open, so he can cough and aspirate all he wants and develop bronchitis or pneumonia in the middle of summer! What FUN!
Okay, so the majority of that last paragraph was sarcasm.
Kittyboy has drank through a straw for over a year. Prior to that, it was a bottle, thickened liquid only, with him on his side and the bottle propped at a goofy angle. He had to drink with his head down to protect his airway, because his lazy little undeveloped airway couldn't be bothered to protect itself. It would leak into his sinuses and occasionally into his lungs (not into his lungs so much after we switched from rice cereal to an actual food thickener). So when he started on actual food, his speech therapist (speech therapists address feeding issues as well as speech, since it's all the same muscles) started him on a straw cup. Head down, airway protected, all was cool, and it was a cup not a bottle. So that's what he's been using until now. He was slowly weaned off thickener, I posted last Thanksgiving about his last video swallow study showing that he was safe with thin liquids now. But he wouldn't cooperate at the time for them to test him with an open cup (a sippy cup would have been a developmental step backwards, straws are considered more advanced, so an open cup is the next step).
We tried open cups off and on, and water bottles and such, and it didn't go so well, mainly because he didn't have a halfway point between "head down" and "head all the way back", which totally opens his airway. When I got some old Tupperware sippy cups that had open spouts (not spouts with tiny holes), I decided we would just go to those cups only and see what happened. About a week after we started, he tipped his head AAALLL the way back, and totally aspirated. He had a cough that night - and the next day - and the next night - and three or four days later, he had verifiable bronchitis. The doctor's advice was that since you can't ask a disease where it came from (though he also thought the cup was the cause, more likely than not), stop the sippy/open cup trials and start again in summer, after cold and allergy season and before fall allergy season starts, so that if it happens again, we'll know for a fact it was his drinking and not something that he might have gotten anyway.
So today, July 1st, easy date to remember if we have to take him in with a cough, I pulled out one of the Tupperware cups again. He'll drink from it any time he's not in the car, because if he started gasping while in the car, I would have to park, get out, run around the car, get him out, just way more time involved than would be safe. He had a straw cup with breakfast, but his "big boy" cup at lunch.
And boy, oh boy, do I have a newfound respect for the expertise and patience of SLPs who do feeding. I'm teaching him the term "head up" (neutral position) as opposed to "head back" which is tilted definitely back, and that's going okayish, that'll improve with practice, we've only done one meal so far. He can practice head position by itself with the lid on. But mouth positioning without the lid? I'd forgotten all the body-awareness hassles when he first started drinking from a straw cup and would forget to close his mouth. Or firmly believe it WAS closed, and stare at you cluelessly as the whole mouthful poured down his chin while you said "Close-your-mouth-close-your-mouth-close-your-mouth, oh drat." Poor body awareness - he didn't know his mouth was open, or couldn't remember how to close it. We stripped him before all meals. He learned to keep his mouth closed after drinking through the straw, but now can't figure out how to close his mouth only partway for a cup. TOTALLY different skill set. And he stares at me blankly while I say, "Open more - close a little - no, don't bite the cup" while I try to MAKE his mouth do what it has to. I may get bitten one of these days. I tried kneeling next to the high chair so he could see from the side how Mommy drinks her coffee from her open cup, and that was when I saw that his tongue is totally in the way and he won't/can't keep it down. I believe we'll be starting meals with the vibrating toothbrush again, and "Tongue down and close your mouth dear" may be added to the list of things I will be saying the rest of his life, like, "Now chew and swallow before your next bite."
Fourteen years from now, we'll be hearing, "Mom, I can drive a car. Could you please, please stop telling me how to eat!"
But hey, the couple times he coughed, he recovered fine and there's no lingering cough yet. One meal down, many to go.