I actually managed to post every day in the month of November!
Maybe this means I can finally get back to regular updating of the ol' blog again.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I actually managed to post every day in the month of November!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I'm so excited for my mom to have her Christmas present that I can barely stand waiting to send it to her. My mom hasn't been able to come visit since early March. She was making plans to join us for Christmas this year. At the time she'd starting talking about this, the airlines weren't accepting reservations that far out. By the time she was prepared to reserve a flight, the ticket prices had nearly quadrupled. I'm not holding on to much hope that she will be here for Christmas this year.
My mom's 50th birthday is just a month after Christmas. I asked her recently if anyone in Virginia was planning a celebration for her. She said they were not and that she didn't think much would be done about it. If this was going to be a special occasion in Virginia, that I had originally intended to make every effort to be there myself, if not with NS and the boys. But, since it doesn't appear that anyone is going to make any hoopla over this milestone for my mother, I had another idea.
This past week, I looked at ticket prices for flying my mom here the week of her birthday. They aren't dirt cheap, but they are very affordable. That was all I needed to make the decision.
On Christmas morning in Virginia, my mom will open a wrapped box to find an envelope inside. This envelope will contain a Christmas card, like one that holds money. Inside the envelope will be two mock boarding passes (and the printed itinerary) for her round-trip flight in January, the week of her birthday.
Hopefully, this will work for her, and we'll get to have her with us to celebrate her birthday properly, with pink and black balloons and cake and dinner and homemade kids' cards and presents for her. It's taking all my willpower to keep from spilling the beans.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Apparently, I was too optimistic and relieved to return to any semblance of normalcy. I've been experiencing more back pain today than I've had for a few days. Not as bad as a week ago, but still hindering. It hadn't gone away completely at all, but it had become much more manageable and tolerable.
I really hope it wasn't the kitchen time on Thursday or the semi-laundry I did yesterday that put me back in this position. I mean, I didn't even fold the clothes yesterday; I merely washed and dried them, which does entail a bit of bending, I admit, but Christ on a bike, it isn't like I decided to go run a marathon yesterday.
I'm inclined to believe it was my attempt to bring the Christmas decorations upstairs this morning that sent things back over the edge. I've decided to try some back stretches to see if that helps at all. One can hope, right?
This has just gotten super duper frustrating, feeling as though I am less of a whole person, unable to do the simple things I usually do every day. It's a good thing we still have tons of leftovers (and that the boys LOVE turkey and mashed potatoes) because the thought of standing in the kitchen to prepare a meal creates a worried furrow on my brow, like I may collapse or cry before it can be done. It pains me to no end to have to tell LMX that I can't pick him up. Gosh, how I took for granted all the times I was able to effortlessly lift my baby son into my arms for a snuggle-y hug. No movement is easy, and it makes me sad and solemn. I'm also fighting the useless moments of worry that this is something I will be dealing with forever.
Friday, November 27, 2009
LMX is my littlest boy, though he may not always be able to carry that moniker since he's months away from two years old and already in his big brothers' 3T clothing.
It is quite remarkable how much he resembles NS. I remember that being my first thought when I first saw him.
He is a quirky, entertaining bundle of joy. He is a true naturist. I have a picture that is evidence of this but couldn't bring myself to share it with the world. But, oh, how I will treasure that priceless captured moment of time! It took us a few tries to find a shoe he would wear for any duration of outside playtime. That was about three months ago. The shoes were his SpongeBob Crocs. I think it was maybe last week that we were finally able to convince him he didn't need to wear them all day and night. Not kidding, the kid slept with his shoes on and would pitch a colossal fit if his shoes were removed, whether by force or by accident. He's usually very easy-going, though.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Despite a spectacularly undesirable lead up to turkey day, today went quite well. Though my pumpkin cheesecake didn't set, it is still delicious, and all the other dishes of the day turned out beautifully, even finishing at as close to the same time as we could hope so that we weren't waiting for anything to complete the meal on our plates at dining time.
NS smoked two turkeys, and they are so full of juicy flavor that it's hard to pass by the pile of turkey on the counter without nabbing a piece.
I made a dressing/stuffing with sausage, apples, and cranberries that I enjoyed more with each bite. NS couldn't resist commenting on the predictability of this choice. I am well known in this house for my affinity for trying recipes that have fruit where one doesn't really expect to find fruit. I also made the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and a crap shoot gravy from the turkey drippings.
By crap shoot, I mean that I've never made a gravy from scratch like this, and I wasn't sure what else was needed besides the drippings and a thickening agent, such as flour or cornstarch. I threw some pinches of cornstarch into the pan and stirred. I quickly searched for a turkey gravy recipe on my go-to recipe website, and glanced at the general ingredients and rushed back to the kitchen to toss in some scantily measured flour, poultry seasoning, celery seed, salt and pepper, and water. With the smokiness of the turkey drippings, it was a unique and scrumptious gravy if I do say so myself. We had a couple packets of gravy mix in the pantry just in case.
Like I said, my pumpkin cheesecake didn't fully set. I don't know if I just undercooked it, but the recipe I used put such emphasis on not overcooking and detailing that the center may still seem unset but would set upon cooling that I didn't dare leave it longer. It really seemed firm enough when I took it out, but even after an hour on the rack and 5-6 hours in the just above freezing refrigerator, it's mostly goo still. Yummy goo, but goo nonetheless.
Thankfully, NS also baked up a batch of cookies for us. Half chocolate chip and half a concoction that I've just been craving since I saw the macadamia nuts in the store...chocolate chip with butterscotch chips and coconut and macadamia nuts. They are everything I yearned for and more.
NS's mom and I spent some time after dinner helping the boys assemble a gingerbread train. It was messy, sure, but the boys had a terrific time licking icing mistakes from the train and surrounding areas and from their fingers. LMX kept sneaking candy pieces from the decorating portion of the kit. As usual, our finished product looks vaguely like the one pictured on the box...if you squint and tilt your head just right. But, picture-perfect product is not even a slight concern when you're creating picture-perfect memories, which we certainly accomplished.
So, in closing, I'm truly thankful this year that everything went well. Even though I was a near invalid just a few days ago and LMX was an unenergetic ball of hot fever just yesterday, we were both so much better today that you wouldn't have known the past several days were anything but typical. I'm grateful to have people to spend the holiday with, people to share this food with, and the fact that it's been many years since I have had to eat a Thanksgiving dinner alone. I hope everyone else had a wonderful day and found many reasons to give thanks today. 'Tis the season.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I was hoping to knock out the pumpkin cheesecake tonight so that it would be set really well by dessert time tomorrow. But, alas, it has gotten way too late to take on this project. Particularly when this is my first cheesecake attempt, which means an extra slow, triple-checking the recipe process. Guess it's first on the list tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Today has been a reasonably tolerable day. I've done a great deal more standing, sitting, and walking than I've managed in nearly a week. I even got through two separate grocery shopping trips in preparation for Great Big Dinner Day in a couple days without needing to immediately lie down on the couch for hours to recuperate.
The reason we decided to get shopping taken care of today is because we'd planned to take a trip to see Victoria, B.C., tomorrow. This plan has been derailed by an unwell LMX. Poor kid has been feverish for the better part of the afternoon and evening.
One comes back up, another goes down...thanks fall/winter transition! Though mine likely has zilch to do with weather or seasonal changes. And, honestly, LMX could very well just be getting some new pearly whites for his grill. Still, always comes at this time of year (first bad back episode was last November), so I will curse it anyhow.
Now we're all prepared for our turkeys, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin cheesecake and have another day to relax before the cooking frenzy begins. Silver linings, people, that's what it's all about.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I had more relief from the back pain today than I've had in days. I sat for extended periods of time and managed a shower and survived a 90+ minute car ride to dinner* and another 90+ minutes back. I just walked around the house about two times without flinching to wait for the spasms to ease. I'm so excited! Thanksgiving day may actually be an enjoyable day afterall.
* We went to a phenomenal Mexican restaurant that we ate at while on vacation a few months ago. While it isn't something we'd make the drive for regularly, it was good enough that we wanted to share the experience with family and was anticipated as one of the highlights of our week.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I've given up hope on the vicodin. Anything that makes me feel that awful without actually providing any pain relief just doesn't belong in my body.
Today has been another day of dysfunction for my back. I've become entirely too frustrated with the lack of improvement in this condition. The drugs don't help at all; the ice and heat don't help at all; unless I would be worse without those things, which I don't see being possible since each and every movement of my body requires an excessive amount of deep calming breathing and pauses for regaining the will to continue said movement.
Other than that, we watched Inglourious Basterds with the in-laws this evening, which was a fine treat filled with laughter.
Hoping for a better day tomorrow...I can't imagine it would really be worse than the last three.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The alarm on my phone beckoned me to wake from what seemed to be a restful slumber. I shifted my body to sit up. I was immediately immobilized by the pain clenching my lower back. I paused and moved slower this time. Tears began to pool in my eyes as I winced and grimaced and groaned my way off the mattress.
Half-steps down the hallway. White-knuckled grips on the rail down the stairs to retrieve the heating pad. Forced pulls of my weight up the stairs. Clenching my jaw and tensing my legs as I plug in the heating pad and grab my laptop to begin my workday. I settle into the least uncomfortable position I can.
Once I realize that this episode is far worse than the others have been, I down 800 mg of ibuprofen and begin the Google search for NS's muscle relaxers and lactation to see if I can use those, too. Turns out I can, so I take one.
Though I didn't even believe it possible, my condition only deteriorated from there. Not even a slight improvement. I check the Google oracle for safety of Icy Hot and lactation. Something has to provide some relief. I have too much to get done today.
Icy Hot was miraculous as I massaged it into my lower back, but that 30 seconds and then 10 or so minutes after were the extent of any reprieve I'd have until much later in the evening.
By mid-afternoon, the simple task of getting out of the recliner and walking across the living room to let the dog out was too much. I was seized with pain, leaning against the refrigerator to keep from collapsing into a broken heap on the floor, screeching and crying as the sharpness twisted and punctured my spine.
I curled into a semi-fetal position with a pillow under my chest and face. By the time NS arrived home from work, I was ready to succumb and head to the hospital. I had never in my life experienced such awful pain. Every alteration of my body's position struck me with brutal force.
Praying that I just make it to the emergency room safely, I drove as safely as I could, minimizing the need to change lanes or merge into traffic due to my limited torso mobility. I find a parking space near the entrance to the emergency room doors, and I all but crawl through them.
I check in, giving them the briefest informative rundown of the situation - not the first time I've had this particular type of pain, but this time is more intense than ever before, and there's nothing to pinpoint for its cause. I messily collect the urine sample for them. Just as I've finally gotten lowered into the seat of a cushy military hospital waiting room chair, my name is called to come back across the room to sit at the window for the triage nurse. Again with the rundown of the situation, then answering some standard questions of history. Now she sends me to the room just behind the triage station for to recording of my vital signs.
Not since I my last week of pregnancy with the twins, when I had to stay in the hospital to be monitored for several hours, has my blood pressure been elevated like this. No fever, though, and pulse was average. I returned to the waiting area to bide my time.
The sitting was excruciating, nearly unbearable at times. If I could have leapt to rejoice at the sound of my name as I was called back, I would have. And, it only took an hour and a half for that moment to come.
Another round of vitals and team of people to ask why I was there. When asked to describe what kind of pain I was feeling, the best answer I could come up with was the really hurting kind. I mean, it was a dull pain when it wasn't an overwhelming, blinding pain, which was pretty much every time I move more than a millimeter from where I was at any given moment. The only thing I could say with certainty was it wasn't throbbing and the area wasn't tender.
I lost track of time waiting in that bed, writhing around periodically, squelching a desire to exclaim my misery. I couldn't see a clock, I couldn't move enough to stare at any machinery, and so I was stuck focusing on the off-white curtain with hundreds of same tone threaded mini squares. It was drawn just before closing completely. My sliver of a view would only allow me to see the edge of a rolling cart of some sort, likely a defibrillator or crash cart. Every so often, a human shape would pass by my narrow window, but mostly, it was an incredibly boring cream-colored prison cell guarded by a bed rail and chrome-like paperclip-shaped curtain hooks.
The physician's assistant who eventually saw me narrowed the ordeal down to a muscular-skeletal issue, said they could offer me more ibuprofen or a shot of something or other. I told him that given the fact the ibuprofen I'd already taken didn't provide even a second of respite, I'd probably want the shot, provided it was safe for breastfeeding. He went to make sure it was (it was), and when he returned, he told me that they'd send me to get some spinal x-rays just to make sure there isn't anything more serious.
They came to give me the injection. First shot I've ever had to get in my glute, and I sure hope it was the last. Maybe it was the strain of trying to turn just to the side and holding down my pants just enough to allow for the shot, but it was more uncomfortable than I'd expected, especially when I was already in pain. I just assumed my back pain would win out, and a prick on my butt would barely register a blip on the pain radar at this point. Wrong assumption. After the sting and burn wore down, I did feel a bit better, though. Better enough that I volunteered to move to a wheelchair for my x-rays rather than be rolled along in the bed.
The x-rays were uneventful, and when I returned to my 'room', I was resting peacefully for a few minutes before someone came to retake my vitals. The injection of pain relief must have been working better than I even realized as my blood pressure had dropped down to a much more normal reading for me, like 15-20 points on both levels. With the x-rays revealing no fractures or blaring abnormalities, I was discharged with orders to the pharmacy to pick up 600 mg ibuprofen to be taken up to three times per day, vicodin to be taken four times per day, and a muscle relaxer (the same one NS had at home) to be taken four time per day. This is the exact cocktail NS had been prescribed when he'd been there for a back injury a few months ago. Well, except my ibuprofen is not as strong.
I had apparently been at the hospital for four hours at this point, which seemed both short and long. Short because I've been in ERs for 8-12 hours before, which just seemed to be the norm, and long because I didn't really think all the stuff that seemed to be taking hours was actually taking real-life, honest hours.
The pharmacist gave me the information on my drugs and cautioned me to avoid driving after taking them because they'd all make me sleepy. Stupid injection had already worn off. I slowly found my way home, my tummy practically begging to stop for some sort of food...
Just a cheeseburger, please. C'mon. It's on the way home, mom. Puh-leeez! I'm so empty; you barely let me have anything all day long. I may just have to eat myself.
I resisted the pleas of the hungry belly because I just wanted to be home where I could take my pills and apply some ice or heat and try to relax after this awfully unproductive and exhausting day.
Within a minute after hobbling through the door and up the stairs, I began devouring some leftovers from the fridge in hopes of satiating my hunger and preventing ill side effects from the drugs I was about to swallow.
I followed my alternating ice and heat treatment notes, and settled on the couch. Before long, I felt sick. I still don't like vicodin. Shortly after that, I was in and out of consciousness.
And, now, I'm sleepy and nauseous once again. Haven't been able to function on any level of mobility for more than 10 minutes at a time, but I think it's possible I may recover some time in the not so far future, which is the bright side, I guess, though I'm not sure the trip to the emergency room yesterday has facilitated this.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saving my backache woes for another day, I'm placing some well-deserved attention on my sweet boy, J. He is definitely sweet, without a doubt. He has grown more considerate of and attentive to others in his old age, that of nearly 6 years. I'm certain this is in no small way attributable to his very sensitive nature. Any minor infraction results in his feelings being hurt, and he will be sure to tell you as much. But, he also has an extraordinarily expressive face and delights in bringing laughter and joy to those around him, especially by way of a goofy look on his face.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I periodically suffer from intense, life-disrupting lower back pain. Generally, the episodes last a few days and then I'm good as gold for another few months. Because the pain always goes away completely in a relatively short period, I've never bothered to seek any medical opinions or treatment. I assume the strain on my back from small children nagging for lots of lap time and quick pick-ups for redirection is the major cause for my broken body.
It figures that just two days before my in-laws arrive for a visit and just a week before the cooking day of thanks, my spine would malfunction. Getting the house cleaned up tomorrow should be an excruciating experiment of gratifying torture, but at least we should all be able to find our clean clothes.
On the bright side, NS is nearly finished encasing our fireplace wall in stone veneer, and our couch is officially relocated back into our main living room. Home remodeling progress, it is both sweet and measurable!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Late last night, while waiting for LMX to pass out from exhaustion, I started re-watching episodes of Arrested Development. I never saw the show until after it was canceled, and that's sad because it is highly entertaining. Though, it did start in 2003, and, to be fair, that year and the year after were not new-show-habit friendly for me, what with the twin pregnancy and infancy and all. Knowing there is a movie to look forward to in the near-ish future is making this marathon even better than the first.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I've mentioned in passing previously that I follow and read Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids blog. It's a philosophy that I've grown to fully embrace, and I truly love reading the posts and comments from people who aren't paranoid about our world, and I have come to view the world as much less scary and dangerous than I was raised to believe it was. I want to share a wonderful teaching opportunity I had with M and J to promote their independence and self-reliance.
A few nights ago, M randomly began talking about how IFKAMH sometimes walks away from them and they don't know where he goes. Yes, that is as vague as his initial description was, and my prodding didn't really get much more details of what he was actually talking about. It seems that some time in the past IFKMAH has told them to stay in one place at a store and then gone to another part of the store away from their view. I couldn't figure out if this was from their most recent visit or if it was even an isolated incident. All they could clearly convey to me was that they didn't know where he'd gone or when he'd be back and they went looking for him to find him.
I was upset by this. I was upset that he had once again done something to make the boys uncomfortable. It would seem they still have issues trusting him since they chose to go find him rather than wait for him to return as he'd said he would. The boys also have separation anxiety issues. They do tend to freak out when they don't know where their adults are, especially in stores. But, I chose not to handle this situation that way with the boys, playing into their fears. Instead, I wanted them to understand what they can do so they won't have to be so afraid.
I asked them if they knew what to do if they couldn't find their grown-up when they were at the store. They didn't have an answer, so I told them they should walk to the front of the store and find an employee and tell the employee that they couldn't find their grown-up. I explained that the employee would probably ask for the grown-up's name and maybe their name and would then use an announcement system to call the grown-up to come to the front of the store to find them.
As much as it infuriates me that IFKAMH may have walked away from them in a store without setting their expectations as to where he'd be and how long it would take for him to return, I don't want my boys to feel scared in this situation or in a situation where they are actually lost in a store. I want them to know the best course of action, so rather than commiserate with their acknowledgment of his parenting mistake, I decided to let that slide and seized the opportunity to teach them something they need to know.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I've been thinking a lot lately about the kind of things I hope my children experience and remember from their childhoods. One of those things is a family game night. M and J are definitely getting to an age of being able to fully participate and enjoy such a thing. First thing we need to do, though, is bulk up our game collection. So, I started trying to pinpoint some of my favorite games from my youngest years. I have fond memories of playing round after round of Candyland. It's the very first game that comes to mind when I think of games I played as a child. Chutes and Ladders is another, as well as Uno. My other favorites were Connect 4 (I used to play that for hours, and I'm pretty sure I've played myself a few too many times) and Guess Who. Those two are ones we don't yet have. I think I recall looking at the boxes with the boys one day and noting the age recommendation was for ages 6+...maybe another couple good items to put on the gift ideas list for family. Two that I've never played but have read great raves over are Ticket to Ride (should go over especially well with our train-loving duo) and Blokus.
Anyone have any other games spring to mind as ones children love?
Sunday, November 15, 2009
NS and I were talking a few weeks ago about people living on low incomes. We were unable to figure out how it's managed without substantial compromise of life's necessities, like not eating very well to reduce grocery expenses. I mean, our food budget each month is quite high, and we assume it is because we try to have a variety of food in the house and don't feel comfortable sparing expense with the staples of fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and bread.
As luck would have it, through the magic of Google Reader sharing, I started reading a blog about a family of five living on a budget of under $1000 per month yesterday. I've been skipping around on the posts there, and honestly, haven't read very many yet, but my interest is thoroughly piqued. I figure at the very least I'll have a much clearer understanding of what it takes to live a good life with minimal means.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Can't form sentences. Sleep-deprived is me.
Li'l Man X doesn't appreciate sleep the way mama does, the way someone his age should. Toddlers are way less cute and funny when they're awake 19 hours a day. That just ain't right, y'all. Good night.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I figure the best way for me to do these posts on my favorite things about my boys is to post pictures that exemplify those characteristics.
Tonight is all about M, my oldest by way of technicality and ease. Up until birth day, he was my baby B, positioned to come into the world after his twin brother. But, since his twin brother had gone and gotten himself lodged in a breech position while M remained in the proper vertex position, M was easier for my doctor to pull through the slash in my belly and was, therefore, born first.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Let's get back to the exploration of Washington nature road trip from July. After the Hoh Rainforest, we headed to Ruby Beach. Our trip began very early in the morning, very early. The big kids were carried to the car in pajamas early. After our brief hike in the rainforest, they changed into shorts and t-shirts. The weather there was our typical summer day in Washington, or what one might call perfect. The kind of weather in which you can be just as comfortable in shorts and a tank top as you would be in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. No rain, just gorgeous light pouring through the trees.
This meant we were all ill-prepared for the beach portion of our trip. Even as we approached the beach via that pretty little trail with mountain views and quaint streams, we couldn't have expected what we found at the beach. Ruby Beach was an entirely different climate. It was early afternoon; we planned this to be where we'd eat our picnic lunch. It felt cooler when we got out of the car, so we made sure to have M and J bring their blankets. Thank goodness for some small measures.
We sat huddled on a large rock beneath the overcast sky, so full of clouds that it was like a fuzzy white blanket resting upon the treetops, as though Mother Nature had constructed a makeshift fort over the beach. The whole place looked surreal. It was breathtaking.
After lunch, M and J began exploring the rocky terrain around us. LMX placated his toddler senses by digging through the sand and unearthing smooth, rounded pebbles, so different from those usual edgy rocks he finds at home in the yard. A short while later, NS carted LMX off with Miss P for some Newfie fun. Once they returned, M and J wanted to walk along the shore as well. So, they and NS and Miss P and K went to climb the rocks while LMX and I kept each other warm, admiring the scenery.
Would you believe that even after a terror-inducing fall into the bone-chilling water that is the Pacific Ocean, J still thought this beach was fun? I wouldn't have, but he did. We all did. Ruby Beach was my favorite stop on the road trip.
*** With this post, I have now posted more in the less than half a month of this November than I have the previous ten months of this year. That's an accomplishment whether I succeed with the NaBloPoMo challenge or not. ***
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Some of the most memorable Veteran's Day celebrations I can recall are from my early elementary school years. We always had big, elaborate assemblies to honor the day...maybe because most of the school was military families as it was a couple miles from the Navy base.
I remember one in particular which still sends a sense of patriotism soaring through my blood. Even now, the sound of the entire school singing along with songs like God Bless the USA reverberates in my ears with joy and pride. I can picture me in my navy blue and white polka dotted dress with its ruffled skirt; it was one of those dresses that swished with each movement. I had a matching headband to wear and completed the outfit with lace-trimmed white socks and shiny shoes. It felt so good to stand in the crowd of children and teachers and sing from the depths of our hearts. It felt as though we were part of something truly great and important.
Today, we honored my soldier husband by allowing him to stay home with a house full of rambunctious kids with a couple hours of napping followed by making his own lunch and stacking wood on our deck and finished off with difficult woodwork labor. Somehow, I think our celebration of his service fell short of what it should have been. Thankfully, we aren't limited to just the one day.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When I first saw this picture, I thought I saw a 'p' in it. Now, I see it as a lowercase 'r'...which happens to work way better for me in this post. I took that picture during our adventurous road trip in July to the Hoh Rainforest. We had a few weeks in late July and early August that were crammed with sight-seeing so that we didn't send my sister-in-law off to England for three years without a mind and camera full of Pacific Northwest memories. Hoh wasn't the only stop during that road trip, but I'll get to those another day. Today I'm sharing my favorite pictures from the rainforest.