Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back from the (almost) dead

Sometimes we just can't catch a break. It's always something or one thing after another. The kids had been sick for a week or more, Logan a simple double-ear infection and Carter more serious to where we thought he might have pneumonia. We started to feel a bit better, although Carter was still throwing up about once a day due to coughing and drainage.

Early this morning, Logan woke up and threw up. On the drive to take Bill to work, he did not look good at all. On the drive home I had to pull over to let him be sick on the side of the road. Great.... Here we go again.

We got home and snuggled on the couch, Logan being able to make it to the bathroom to be sick most of the time rather than being sick on himself. Not too much later, I took a turn for the worst and was right there with him, rotating bathroom time. Right around lunch time, I was ill. Very ill. I was too weak to take care of the kids and didn't feel like I could safely carry Carter upstairs to change his diaper and clothes. I called Bill to come home. I had the car, so he had to figure out a way to get here quickly. Knowing this, I called one of my clients who had a canceled session to see if she would help me out. At this point it was scary. I couldn't take care of the boys and Carter needed to eat. I was too sick to nurse him. I was dizzy, my hands and wrists were going numb and I couldn't stand up straight. I was concerned enough that I called the advice nurse with the kids' Doctors office to ask them about swine flu and if there was anything we needed to do.

I had barely enough formula to make Carter a bottle and soon after that, Bill was home. He took over while I went upstairs and practically had a near-death experience. I stupidly never took my temperature and in retrospect, it was probably dangerously high as I was in and out of consciousness. I was severely dehydrated and couldn't keep any liquids down - no water, no juice, no Popsicles, nothing. It was as if I was living the wost days of hyperemisis all over again. And living through that twice with both pregnancies, I felt like this is the only reason why I was able to tough out this flu. One day compared to 18 months is a cake-walk. I think other people would have called Uncle long before.

I was so sick that I missed the call from the advice nurse and we were fortunate that the boys fared well. Carter wasn't even sick, laughing and playing, coughing occasionally. Logan only threw up a few times - a very mild case of the flu. I was the one on death's door. I don't think we had the swine flu, but definitely wanted to call and get some advice, just in case. I'll call back tomorrow even though we're recovering well.

After a few hours of battling flu-death, I was able to come back to life and work on getting rehydrated again. I'm sure Bill will be able to go back to work in the morning and we'll just lay low for a few days.

I've had enough of being sick for a while.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Close call

Over the weekend I kept a close eye on Carter, obsessively checking his temperature. We were lucky that his fever never returned and that he was left with an extremely boogery nose and a wicked cough. He had stopped throwing up from coughing so hard and by this morning, he stopped crying from the pain his coughing spells caused him. As of this morning, he is better and we don't have to get him in for a chest x-ray.

This last week was hard on me (as it was on the kids). I swear to God, I found a handful of gray hairs that were not there before. I was so worried that I'm sure it shaved a few years off of my life. I also cried so much that I should have purchased stock in waterproof mascara.

It's a scary time when your kids get sick, but it's even more worrisome for us because of our decision not to vaccinate. Every runny nose can possibly become meningitis, every cough could worsen and become pertussis and every cold could be pneumoccous. After this last week, I feel like we got a taste of what could happen if my kids contracted a vaccine-preventable disease. I know what it's like to be on both ends of the spectrum now - both with adverse vaccination reactions and dealing with disease.

I would not change anything and our decision remains the same.

I've thought long and hard about this, believe me. The moment our pediatrician recommended specific testing because Carter is not vaccinated, I really began to weigh both sides again. However, as scary as this last week has been - it does not even compare to how I felt during Logan's adverse reactions and here's why...

First, with Carter there was a plan. There was testing being done to figure out what we were dealing with so we could develop the best treatment plan. There was a treatment plan for whatever disease we were facing be it a cold, RSV or pneumonia. There was something we could do. Yes, it was miserable. Yes, we had to do more testing than those who vaccinate. But there were options.

With Logan's adverse reactions there was nothing we could do to stop it. We could give him Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl and worst case - steroids. There was no treating the problem, only the symptoms. We were at the mercy of whatever was causing an adverse reaction because nobody knows why it happens and what exactly happens. It's a very helpless situation.

I still stand by my decision for our family. After Carter's 6 month check-up and vaccinations were brought up again, I was sent home to think about it. I was this close to taking him in to start a single dose - selective plan and then I got a call from my sister, R about how Cousin G had an adverse reaction (to most likely rotavirus) at his 4 month check-up that sent him to the ER - where they could do nothing but medicate him with over-the-counter medications. That sealed the deal right there for me. Not only has Logan had more than one adverse reaction, now another baby in our family has had one. The odds are a little alarming and I would really be playing Russian Roulette with Carter's health if we had gone through with it.

In our family, the risks are there on both sides. It really is a no-win situation and every conversation I have with our pediatrician at check-ups regarding the possible fatality of a scenario is absolutely real. We are at risk of adverse reactions and we are at risk of contracting diseases. Each choice is a roll of the dice.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It hurt me more than it did him

Yesterday afternoon, Carter's fever started to spike again to about 101. When we first went in to get the boys checked out on Monday, I had been told by the nurse that if Carter's fever wasn't going back down by Friday then we needed to come back in. I gave Carter another dose of Tylenol and called to get him scheduled for the next morning.

This morning while I got Carter ready to go, he seemed pretty good. A little boogery and still congested, but not lethargic and miserable like he had been. I almost contemplated canceling his appointment, but thought it would be best to still go - just in case. Bill had already taken a vacation day since he will be busy all weekend at a tournament, so he and Logan hung back at the house to play.

We got there and our pediatrician checked him out instead of a nurse. She got the rundown of what went on all week after our appointment on Monday. I told her that I thought he might have an ear infection since he had been pulling at it. I guess he had a slight fever this morning while at the office (I didn't ask how high and nobody told me. I didn't even think of it at the time) and while she watched and listened to him breath the muscles on his back pulled tight, tight enough that his ribs became more defined. This was not a good sign.

"This isn't supposed to happen," she told me. She didn't seem overly concerned, like it was an emergency, but we had to do some tests. "It could be a few things and we need to narrow it down so we can find the best treatment plan. He could have RSV as it's still the tail end of the season. It could be a viral infection or it could be Pneumonia." I stood there staring at her with a straight face as my heart dropped into my stomach.

"We need to get him to the lab and get a nose collection done for the RSV test and then we need to do some blood work and check his white blood cells," she explained. She then went on about how we could give him antibiotics, but she doesn't feel comfortable treating patients without knowing the cause of the infection (this is one reason why I like her). Everything sounded simple enough and I took a deep breath as we got ready to head on over to the lab. My hopes for an ear infection now turned into hopes of RSV -which would be the easier infection to manage.

After a short wait in the waiting room, we were escorted into one of the back office rooms where two clinicians were decked out in blue paper gowns, safety goggles, gloves and face masks. I was a little taken aback as it looked like they were going to do surgery on my baby. The shorter, sweet girl explained what they were about to do while a taller younger guy stood back to assist her. Her explanation was invasive. "What test would you like us to do first?", she asked me. "I have no idea. You guys are the professionals. Whatever you think is best." I replied.

They decided to do the blood draw first. I sat in the phlebotomy chair with Carter in my lap. They strapped a rubber band around his small, chubby arm and worked very hard to find a vein. He cried and cried and cried. I tried my best to keep it together, to stay calm, stroke his hair reassuring him that it would be OK. After sanitizing his arm, the girl inserted the needle in Carter's arm. He screamed a hoarse, painful scream. Tears streamed down my face, wetting the top of his hair. "Are you OK, Mom?", the sweet nurse asked me. "Yeah," I lied. His vein wasn't giving them any blood and she dug around to get the sample they needed. Carter continued to cry, grasping for my hair to hold onto and I continued to sniffle and attempt to comfort him.

They decided to go to Plan B because they weren't getting any blood. Another nurse was brought in to see if she could find his vein on the other arm while the younger tall guy left. After much effort, she announced that she didn't feel comfortable and to call in another nurse. While waiting for this person, they decided to go ahead and get the sample collected from his nose.

I hugged him and cuddled him close to calm him down, his head resting on my shoulder in the crook of my neck and his sore little arm draped around my chest. I rubbed his back and rocked him back and forth telling him that it was OK. He had never hugged me so close before, usually too interested in all that is going on around him. But this time, this time he didn't want to know any more and preferred to stay in my arms.

After calming him down, I placed him on the exam table where the short, sweet nurse did the collection, the second taller replacement nurse held onto his head and I held his arms and legs down. He cried more, but this time was so exhausted that he didn't fight it. He just cried. While he cried, I turned my head to silently cry on my arm. The nurses were trying their best to comfort him, speaking softly and apologizing for all that he had to go through. Fortunately, this was an easy collection and very short lived.

I picked him up again to cuddle while we waited for the fourth nurse to come in. The short, sweet nurse left to work with another young boy about Logan's age, maybe a year older. The fourth nurse came in and we sat in the chair again while she looked for the vein in his other arm. They searched for quite some time, all the while Carter crying. The fourth nurse was very confident and quickly got the needle inserted as soon as she found the vein again after sanitizing his arm. He cried his hoarse, painful scream again - a scream a mother can feel in the core of her body and I continued to stroke his tear-stained hair telling him it was OK. For some reason, the blood was running slow and it was taking forever to get the sample. While Carter wailed on my lap, shrill, excruciating screams of intense pain came from the boy Logan's age in the next room. "Oh my God," I quietly gasped with my hand over my mouth as tears ran down my cheek.

After a few more minutes, the confident nurse thought that they collected the absolute minimum needed for testing and hoped for the best as she removed the needle from Carter's arm. They taped his puncture and I soothed him again. Both of his arms were sore - the left already bruising; his face red, spotty and blotchy from crying so hard and his body drained of all energy. It was finally over with and I just held him tight. "Are you OK, Mom?" one of the nurses asked me again. "Sort of," I replied more honestly as tears welled up in my eyes again.

The nurses began to clean up the room while I comforted Carter and got him strapped into his car seat. I thanked them, apologizing for crying. They were nice and hoped that Carter felt better soon.

On the drive home, Carter fell asleep, completely worn out. I pulled into the garage trying my best to keep everything in. I carefully took the seat out of the car, walked in the house and without saying much to Bill, walked right upstairs into our room and sobbed. The fear that Carter could be seriously ill, the trauma from seeing him in so much pain at the lab - it all came spilling out.

We got settled in at home and tried to recover while we waited for the call from our pediatrician. All of us were able to take much needed naps. The Doctor called with the results right in the middle of our deep slumber.

"The RSV is negative and his blood work came back fine. He must have some virus. Let's wait it out 24 hours and see what happens. If he has another spike in his fever or if he gets worse clinically - not eating, throwing up, difficulty breathing - bring him in. If he's not better by Monday, our next step is a chest x-ray."

I tried to go back to sleep after the call while Bill got ready to go to the course to practice. I got a bit more in before the kids woke up. Carter smiled as if nothing had happened, his bruised, taped arms reaching out for me to cuddle him. While Bill was gone, Carter smiled and played and coughed and sniffled. He seemed to be doing somewhat better and I obsessively took his temperate every half hour. It was normal.

I think he'll be OK. I think we just have to ride it out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I hate this part of Motherhood

Nobody likes it when their kids are sick, especially their babies. This is one of the worst parts of being a parent because you feel so helpless and hate to see your kids miserable and suffering. You always want to be able to fix it for them and make everything A-OK.

Logan has recovered just fine. In fact, the next day after our appointment, he was running around outside, playing in the sandbox and playing "whack-a-mole" with the yellow jackets that are emerging from under our back deck. Other than being a little cranky every now and then which is easily resolved with a nap - he's fine.

Carter on the other hand, wow - he's having a hard time. I can't really tell yet if this is just how he is when he's sick or if he's really that miserable. On one hand I want to chalk it up to the innate beginnings of The Man Cold, but the kid is just not right. My mommy gut is telling me that his whimpers and sad looks are real. He is sick, sick, sick. He sleeps A TON right now, which is exactly what he needs to do. But he's only up for 30 minute increments before he goes back down to sleep for 1-2 hour stretches.
He's nursing fine, eating a bit and diaper changes seem normal - he's just extremely lethargic and he has snot pouring out of his nose like a faucet. I am constantly getting the boogers out and washing his nose out with saline spray. He has a fever that comes and goes and is pretty mild. Sometimes he'll grab at his ear. I'm not one to pump my kids full of medicine, but Carter has had more Tylenol this week than I'm sure Logan ever has in his 3 years. And he needs it. I went ahead and called the clinic to get him in tomorrow morning because he's not getting any better.

I hope this is just how he is when he's not feeling well and it's nothing more than a cold. I hope, I hope, I hope.
I thought I could make him smile by trying out the swing on a nice night after dinner. Guess not. He just slouched there and looked so sad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I got it from you, Mom

I think it's common knowledge that kids learn behaviors and habits directly from their parents, right? We've all experienced the parrot repeats of swear words (or at least, some of us have) and I know Logan's defiant attitude is not only because he's 3, but because I am the same way (yes, I'm a snot - I know). BUT! At least I'm not teaching him just the bad behaviors that come from me.

When I have clients come over to train, the kids are usually with us. Carter is content to sit in his walker (that he's too short to walk with) and Logan either plays with toys, sits and watches on the futon or gets in trouble for getting in the way and is sent to his room. He looks forward to the workouts and is excited as anyone I've ever known about his ability to do a bicep curl. Thankfully, I have nice clients that like to watch Logan demonstrate his physical abilities as he does crunches along with them or attempts to do an overhead press with 5 pound weights.

A few days ago Bill bought a pull-up bar because he's starting the P90X program with his friends and co-workers (this will be a post for another day when someone inevitably gets injured and quits the program - I've already given my professional unsolicited opinion about it). I've been meaning to get some more equipment for client sessions, so I wasn't about to say no to this new purchase. He installed it in the laundry room doorway where clients will have to run up a flight of stairs to use it (awesome). It's also where Logan can see it all the time and he is very interested in tying his best at a pull-up.
The night Bill installed the pull-up bar, Logan was all over it. We got some pretty cute pictures and video. My favorite part of the video (other than him sporting his CARS sleeve that Bill temporary tattooed him with) is when he says "I'm really STRONG!" It makes me laugh every time I watch it.

This morning while we hung out recovering from the crud, I got Carter down to sleep for what seemed like the 5th nap of the day and Logan and I were just chillin' on the couch. Out of nowhere, he puts his hands behind his head while laying down and exclaims, "Look Mom! I'm working out! I'm doing crunches!" Again, I had to smile and give him props for a good workout.

So, while he may talk back and have way too much sass for a 3 year old because I can't seem to keep my mouth shut, at least he's most likely going to be one of the strongest kids in his class and hitting the gym when he's old enough to and won't hate working out. There's one battle won right there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

At least he can tell me

Over the weekend, both boys got colds. Logan got his first and being the ever-obedient child that he is, when we told him to leave Carter alone, he promptly went over to breath in his face and grope his hands. It didn't take long for Carter to catch the crud.

It seemed to hit a peak for Logan on Sunday and he was complaining about his ears. When I called the clinic, they were closed. We had to wait until today to go. I made an appointment for Carter to get checked out even though all he had was a really bad cough. Shortly after I scheduled the appointment, Carter went downhill, spiking a fever of 102 and not feeling well AT ALL. Logan seemed to be doing better than Sunday, but was still complaining about his ears.

We got in this afternoon and both boys are sick. Logan has a double ear infection (his first), sinus congestion and a small cough all tied together with a low-grade fever. Carter had a higher fever, worse congestion and a horrible cough, but at least his ears were clear. So, we're on lock down this week until everyone is fever-free for 24 hours. Logan will be on antibiotics for 10 days and both of them will be on a timely regimen of Tylenol.


Although having sick kids sucks (say that one 10 times fast), it was great that Logan could actually tell me he was sick and his ears hurt. It took the guesswork right out of it! Loved it! He was a great patient too, doing as the nurses asked - breathing in and out so they could listen to his lungs and describing the pain in his ears. Ahhhh, communication. Such a wonderful skill.

Hopefully we'll be on the mend soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fishy #2

The other day while doing our weekly shopping at Wal-Mart, Bill made us all stop by the pet department and stand there staring at the fish tanks trying to decide if Logan was old enough for a fish. He's been thinking about this for weeks and every week we go shopping, we make the pit stop to the pet department and contemplate fish responsibilities (and I remind him that he will be the one cleaning the tank). He finally came to the conclusion that a fish would be a good purchase.

Logan picked out his fish, the biggest gold fish in the tank. He promptly named it "Fishy". We bought a classic round fish bowl that included a starter kit with gravel, a pathetic, odd-looking plant and fish food. We were set. When we got home, Bill had "The Fish Talk" with Logan, explaining the rules like not taking the fish out of the tank and don't put anything into the tank. Mainly, just be happy with only looking at your fish and don't expect to torture it like you do the other pets.

Somehow, we expected him to listen. Does he ever listen to anything else we say? No. But we were delusional enough to think it would happen now. Maybe it was the fluorescent lights they use in Wal-Mart that drained us of all rational thought. You think that's a conspiracy theory? Take a look at who is shopping at Wal-Mart. Case closed.

For the entire day he had his fish, I lost count with how many times I told Logan to get whatever he had in his hand out of the tank (tubes of lotion, dinosaurs, books, etc). I threatened to take his fish away. I even caught him hovering over the bowl as if he were going to spit in the tank. He was immediately banished from his room and the baby gate went up. For Fishy's safety.

Last night Bill came home from work and began the bath routine with Logan while I got Carter fed and ready for bed. I had just planted my butt on the couch with the laptop to mindlessly surf facebook when Bill came downstairs. "Did you know Fishy is dead?", he asked. I was not terribly surprised. The poor fish only lasted a couple of days, if even that. "What should we do?", Bill asked me. "Well, we need to tell him the truth", I insisted.

Bill continued to get Logan tucked in all the while Logan talking about how his fish was sleeping. I cringed. I've never wanted to lie to my kids about life lessons and now we were about to explain death. I wondered if he would even grasp the concept considering we're not religious. It's not like we could tell him that Fishy went to heaven to be with God and Jesus. Ugh. How were were going to do this on a 3 year old level.

Bill came back downstairs after Logan was asleep. "I'm going to get another fish. He's not going to understand death right now". Not wanting to debate it since we had clearly done enough of that this week, I just shrugged my shoulders. "Sure".

And that is how Fishy #2 came to be. We'll see how long this one lasts.

Edited to add:
Fishy #2 is dead 3 hours after publishing this post. Logan went down for a nap and the fish was alive when he went down. No more than 15 minutes after that, the fish was dead, or really, sort of dead. Pretty close. He was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. He didn't even make it 24 hours. We are now going to talk about death and the big pond in the sky. Or something like that. Needless to say, there will not be a Fishy #3.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The showdown

From the moment I woke up this morning, my anxiety was in full swing. I was able to do our morning stuff as usual - make the kids breakfast, hang out and play with dinosaurs, but once I got Carter down for a nap I turned on some cartoons for Logan and had a shower cry. This was just nuts. I had tried my best to think happy thoughts and get my mind off of what was to come. After dropping the kids off at a friends house and picking up Bill, I could feel my arms going numb again the closer we got to the office. We sat in the parking lot for a quick minute to breath and chill before going in. I knew we had done everything we could to get ready and I just had to relax (as much as I could).

We get to the office and have to wait in the waiting room with Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju for what seemed like eternity (15 minutes). All three of them, Bill, Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju are just chatting away "Hey, how about that weather!" and "Did you hear so and so broke their arm?" and a bunch of random crap as if nothing happened and we weren't about to go into a session and talk about all of the horrid things they've done. I sat there in silence irritated to hell that they were doing this - BUT THIS IS WHAT THEY DO. One day they call you a crazy bitch and the next day they want to go out to lunch.

We finally all sit down in the room with the counselor and start introductions and goals. Grandma L wants to get the family back together again, Aunt Ju-Ju just wants to come to an understanding (like Bill) and they all know that I'm done and there to support Bill. We started to go over the history. She read the copies of the emails that were sent after the Virus Visit and we discussed the difference of poor judgment and character flaws. In this case, either way the in-laws are screwed. If their judgment was so poor that they didn't think exposing a 4 week old newborn to a serious virus was a big deal - I can NEVER trust them to be alone with the kids. If it's a character flaw (which I think it is), same situation. Can't trust them. I really think it's a character flaw because I refuse to believe that two teachers, one who happened to teach child development, are ignorant enough about basic health care precautions. Especially since Grandma L touts herself to be a child expert and is highly irritated and offended that I don't ask her for advice.

While the notes and copies of the emails helped, the counselor said I shouldn't write anymore because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm not stopping because then I'll be liable to rip someones arm off and shove it up where the sun doesn't shine. I'd rather not go postal.

Grandma L, as predicted, cried and played the victim. Aunt Ju-Ju, as predicted, put all of the blame on me. She kept saying things like, "It's evident she doesn't want to be a part of our family". Well, no kidding! Bill has been bribed to divorce me, there have been many personal attacks, I've put up with all of this crap for 10 years and they think I'd want to stick around and keep taking it?

Bill DID speak up when Grandma L tried to lie and boy, did she try and wiggle her way out of answering. We were talking about the beginning of the history and when the relationships all fell apart - when Grandma L told me I wasn't smart enough to be a Doctor when I was leaving for grad school with Bill. In the session, she turned to me "Well, how many credits did you have? You were struggling with math. I was looking out for you FINANCIALLY (making sure to emphasize this part and repeating it) because we were supporting you (unbeknown to me at the time). I never even said it like that". Then both Bill and I said at the same time, "Yes you did". And then he said, "Mom, I heard you". She sat there, huffed and rolled her eyes.

She was way pissed that I showed up with a manila file full of "evidence". There were many times that she "forgot" about events, like the time after she cut me off and we had the driveway conversation where she wouldn't come into the house. She kept pretending like it never happened and it took every ounce of self control for me to not whip out the printed blog post to read aloud. I wish I had been able to be heard like that, because I think that is a MAJOR part of the issue. I wanted to read so much - I had everything I needed to prove her wrong and all we did was listen to her huff and sniffle. But, really - what did I expect. Again, here's the false hope of her possibly taking responsibility for her actions (the same blind hope that Bill has).

Other than going over a fraction of the issues - we really didn't get anywhere (as to be expected). The session took an hour and a half since there was so much to go over. The counselor was good and began to touch on some important issues - but you know how counseling goes. This stuff takes time. We were given a very good graph handout on "crucial conversations" that is very beneficial for us even outside of the in-law issue. We talked about the boundary issues and why we are having a difficult time. Is it because we all have vastly different views on boundaries or is it because there is mistrust? If it's a difference of opinion, then we can come to a common understanding. If it's mistrust, we may never resolve this because it's a core issue. Considering everything that we've been through, I don't trust them at all.

I was very satisfied with myself during the session because I didn't shed so much as a tear. I was able to stay calm and get my point across and be stern when I needed to be. I tried my best to stifle any emotion in there and did a pretty good job. And I had my stupid notes and preparation to thank for that.

After the session, Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju left without saying anything. They actually hid in the building until we left (or were leaving). Talk about a major pout. Bill will most likely see them again before they leave this weekend and I'm sure I'll hear more about them pretending that nothing is wrong.

Overall, this is exactly what I expected. They still refuse to accept any responsibility and they certainly are NOT sorry for anything. Aunt Ju-Ju was quite proud of herself for sending the nasty email over Christmas and Grandma L tried to justify telling me that I wasn't smart enough. Nobody ever said, "Gee - that was wrong and I can see how it hurt you. I'm sorry it happened this way". NOTHING LIKE THAT. It was all, "Kristin has these hidden rules that nobody can figure out". "Kristin doesn't want to be a part of our family". "I'm tired of Kristin's shit". "It's all Kristin's fault this is happening". "We never said/did those things. I don't remember any of that". "That's not what I meant".

We are not going to get anywhere with them. They will NEVER change. And now? Now I'm being suckered into trying to keep working with them. Bill thinks they are going to change. He refuses to give up hope that they will actually be normal. At this point, I feel like he'd rather subject me to their crap to keep giving them another chance, time and time again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preparing for a trial

This is it. The eve of the family session. I feel like I'm going to hurl and I've felt like this for the last two days. I haven't had much of an appetite during the day and end up famished at dinner, which makes me a bit concerned about my milk supply again. As the days have gotten closer, the hours creep up, my anxiety increases so much that I get stomach pain and arm numbness to where my hands tingle.

And this? Is better than how I've handled it all before, oddly enough. I've been working very hard on controlling my anxiety over this session and Bill has been helping me tremendously by sitting down with me at night and listening to how I feel and just talking with me. His support has been significant.

We met with our marriage counselor on Friday morning to discuss this upcoming family session with a brand new counselor that Aunt Ju-Ju had scheduled with from her employee benefit program and to plan as much as we could. We are moving forward with a cut-off from me and the kids and Bill's goal is to figure out what kind of relationship he's going to have with them. We planned to have a release of records signed so that the two counselors could talk and cut down on the re-hashing of history.

On Tuesday I called the new counselor and had a mini-session on the phone to give her the heads up of what our situation is and what our goal is, so that there are no misguided attempts at trying to make us be a happy family. She seemed nice and assured me through my tears that she would not let the session get out of control since my big fear is getting ganged up on. I feel like I'm walking into a firing squad.

Last night Bill and I spent a long time going over the 'in-law' labels here on the blog making a time line with cliff notes. It was astounding to see it all organized and realize how horrible our life has been with them, how unhappy many of our holidays were and how hard we've tried to work with them only to be met with childish temper tantrums. We have everything we need to stay on track, limit the amount of emotion and stop the lies as they are being said.

This is it. The beginning of the end.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Tonight after I got Carter to bed, Logan came running inside from playing in the back yard crying. I asked him what had happened and as usual, he couldn't tell me (he generally has some kind of answer like "I can't do everything", which bugs the hell out of me). So, I waited for him to calm down again and asked him what happened. He mumbled something about the slide and pointed to his mouth. I took a look and his front tooth was chipped. Once I saw this, he then started talking about his broken tooth. Apparently he fell on the slide (or fell off?) and hit his mouth.

It's not that bad and you can't really tell unless you look, so there was no reason to make an emergency appointment to the dentist, but it sure did motivate me to make that appointment for his check-up that I've been slacking on. We were really lucky that it wasn't worse, no blood or half his tooth missing or something like that.

I told Bill what had happened when he was on his way home. "Boys will be boys", he said. I guess so. And in that case, we need to decrease our insurance coverage deductible.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Excited about Easter

As Logan gets older and grasps the concepts about holidays, every celebration becomes more and more exciting in our home. Last year he began to understand what we do on Easter, but this year he was very excited about it. He had been talking about the Easter Bunny for days, sometimes calling him the 'Santa Easter Bunny' since at one point I compared the two. The cartoons that have been on (Dora, Max & Ruby, etc) have all had some special Easter episode and Logan has wanted to watch that one specifically.

On Saturday morning we went on an Easter Egg hunt with The Club. Logan was thrilled to go and couldn't wait to find eggs with his friends. We got there and it was cold and cloudy, but the kids still had a great time. There was an awesome turn out and all of the kids lined up by the soccer goal on the field at the park. The whole field was covered with brightly colored eggs, making it fun and easy for the little ones to participate. The kids were given the go-ahead and they all ran out to fill their baskets. It was so cute. Logan, for some reason, really took a liking to the color orange and only collected a few orange eggs. I thought that was pretty funny. Since it was cold, we chatted for only a little bit and the headed on out for breakfast.

For the rest of the day, all Logan talked about was eggs and Easter Bunnies. We even saw a cotton tail in our back yard and Logan thought it was the Easter Bunny. That night Bill went out with his friends and Logan and I cleaned up the house to get ready for the Easter Bunny to come and hide eggs. I told him that the toys needed to be picked up and he eagerly cleaned up the entire house, running around yelling "THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMING!". This was one of the very few times that he didn't put up a fight about cleaning. He even told me that "Easter Bunny doesn't come to messy houses". He learned quick!

Getting him to go to bed was a bit difficult since he tried to stay up to both wait for Bill to come home and for the Easter Bunny to make his appearance. He finally fell asleep at 10:00 and I was FINALLY able to fill the eggs, hide them around the house and get the baskets together. Carter got some tub toys for his first Easter and Logan hit the Jack Pot - stickers, a new garbage truck, a card game, CARS socks, dinosaurs, a snake and both boys got a matching shirt.

Easter morning Logan slept in a bit, but once he was up, was ready to get crackin' on the egg hunt. He checked out his basket, blown away by all of the stuff he got and I helped him find eggs around the house. Bill made a delicious french toast breakfast that stuffed us all silly. We relaxed for the rest of the rainy day watching movies and playing games. Before lunch and nap time, we painted our wooden Easter Eggs (our little tradition). Logan really enjoyed it more this year, mixing all of the paint colors and carefully painting his eggs. This year Bill even painted an egg. Impressed the hell out of me, that's for sure.

During nap time Bill and I started getting dinner ready - turkey, stuffing, potatoes - pretty much Thanksgiving in the spring. We even had pumpkin pie. It was great! We were also able to get some great family pictures with all of us, even Bill. That right there made my Easter.

So, we had a wonderful time this year with all sorts of family fun. Good times, no doubt!

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Lately I've realized how easy it is to get lost in the day to day routine - make meals, pick up the house, run errands, go to the gym, do whatever kids' activity we're doing that day. A lot of the time we just "do" rather than enjoy.

While changing Carter's diaper this afternoon, I thought about when he last laughed. Had he laughed at all today? He smiled, that's for sure. But is that enough? We were half way through the day and even though we were just hanging out at home, we really hadn't had "fun". I kind of felt like a schmuck of a mom realizing this and decided that we needed to not only lighten up a bit, but we needed to have more fun.

So after getting him in a clean diaper and just about ready to go down for a nap, we spent a good few minutes with me tickling him and covering him in kisses. He laughed and giggled to hard he couldn't catch his breath. It was hysterical! With flushed pink cheeks, he was ready to take a nice, happy nap.

I came downstairs and cuddled on the couch with Logan, playing with the puppets he had us playing with last night. After a big hug, telling him how much I love him, he kisses me on the cheek "I love you too Mom". Thus commenced the cheek-kissing game of tag with lots of giggles.

My goal is to make sure my boys get a good laugh at least once a day. We need to.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Oh, the things that come out of his mouth

Over the last few days, Logan's defiant attitude has calmed down some (thank GOD!) and he has been a very sweet, funny, loving kid. I'm not sure if he's just outgrown the extreme brat stage that he was in or if he understands that I'm trying to control my freak out mode because of the stuff going on with the in-laws. At any rate, his cooperation has helped me to chill out a bit and the house is surprisingly calm.

Tuesday morning, I had a few (or more) of the mini-cookies left over from our Easter Egg painting craft we hosted the day before. Logan discovered that I ate the rest of them and sternly told me, "Don't eat lots and lots of cookies! Just eat one!" Well, then. I suppose he's heard that before and maybe I should follow his demands.

Later that afternoon I found out some details that I was NOT happy about (that could mean BIG problems) and a panic attack ensued. I haven't had a panic attack like this in some time. I tried breathing which kind of turned into hyperventilating and my hands were going numb. "Are you sad Mom?" he asked me. "Yes I am sweetie pea. It's OK though", I tried to tell him through my tears. He then ran upstairs, came back down with a used, balled up Kleenx to give to me. He gave me a hug and a pat on the back. "It's OK". I thanked him for being such a nice, sweet kid, assuring him that everything was OK and that we would be going to the gym later to play. He was good with that answer and ran off to play. I made a mental note that this is another reason why a cut-off is in our best interest.

Today he was playing with Carter on the couch, which is the highlight of everyones day. The two of them playing is the cutest! Logan handed Carter a corner of a blanket and was pretending to play tug-o-war. "Pull! Pull! Say 'pull' in Chinese", he told Carter. I just about fell off the couch laughing.

Carter has been lasting about 30 minutes before melting down while I've been working out and a few days he's been able to hang in there for longer. But this afternoon was awesome as I was able to get my whole workout done without interruption. I went to pick them up after I was finished to find Logan talking to Carter, making him smile and laugh and being a fantastic big brother. It was so cute!

Because our week together has been so good, we've been hitting up the stores while running errands to look for Disney CARS to add to Logan's collection. Sadly, Bill and I are just as obsessed with finding new cars as Logan is. But it's something fun we like to do together, especially as a special treat when he's been on his best behavior. It's so fun to see him get so excited about finding a new car (when we do - it's getting more difficult as his collection grows). And it's equally as cute to see how much he understands when we don't find a new one. He shrugs his shoulders and asks to go to another store. I have to remind him that we'll try again the next day and see what we can find. He's satisfied with that and there are no temper tantrums or fights.

His new favorite toys to play with are his dinosaurs and his favorite is "Dinosaurus Rex". His imaginative play is growing by leaps and bounds and the conversations he has with himself while playing are hysterical. I've yet to write down what he's said, but I will now because it's getting too good to forget!

Monday, April 06, 2009

I don't want to

I mentioned in a earlier post about things going on my life that I wanted to write about, one of them being about the in-laws. They've been in a time-out since October, I suppose officially since December. They've visited every month except for the last and we had not seen them. Bill will go out to lunch with his mom or whatever, and he went out to lunch with Aunt Ju-Ju around our birthdays, but the kids and I have gone on with our life as usual.

I was going to write about how those months have been the best months ever. With the exception of Valentines Day (which ironically involved the in-laws), I don't remember the last time we had major turmoil in our home. Bill and I have been working really hard on our "togetherness" and frankly, have been very successful. We always seem to be able to get back on the horse and keep going and the last few months have been awesome. Not having the drama from them has made those months the best months of our lives. It was an eye-opening realization for me and I was convinced (I AM convinced) that the time-out should move into a full cut-off. Our life is undeniably better without them.

And then Bill got a phone call.

Grandma L called Bill on Thursday telling him that they would be in town for Easter and to schedule a time for all of us to meet with our counselor. My stomach dropped and the anxiety started. Here we were, doing so well. Our conflict at home was minimal, we were having productive conversations about issues, I hadn't had anxiety for God knows how long and I had been medication-free to boot. Now it was all about to change just because Grandma L decided it was time to finally follow through on our request at compromise - a little too late.

We had talked about going to counseling with them for a very long time, always to be pushed off with answers like "sure, when we move out there". It was an empty promise as there was never a time line to work with and it will most likely be years before they really do move. When I called to confront Grandma L about the guilt-trip email she sent Bill and Aunt Ju-Ju (and asked Bill to lie to me about it), I went on about how we all need to work together, about how Bill and I have been working hard and taking the steps - going to counseling, trying to figure out boundaries and learn better ways to communicate (with everyone). I told her that she needed to do the work too, that it had to be a collaborative effort if our family was going to be together. I was shot down with her telling me that she wasn't going to do anything, then proceeded to make fun of me, hang up on me and then spread lies about how I verbally abused her.

The offer from me was pulled off the table. That was the final straw.

As someone who actually has lived through abuse and was told I was lying about it, Grandma L did something unforgivable to me. I cannot and will not, ever, forgive someone who lies about abuse. Not only that, but she throws my childhood traumas back at me to use as a scapegoat. Whenever anything is to blame, it's me because of the way I grew up. She then uses this sensitive and personal information that I trusted her with and gossips to everyone she knows about it. I have never in my life told Aunt Ju-Ju or Uncle J (or the friends that she blabbed to) what I had been through, but they retort the same comments, "My gut feeling is there are many unresolved issues in Kristin's past that she carries and transfers to your parents" (direct quote from the last email). This is the same comment made time and time again - that every thing is happening because I hate my mom, which at this point isn't even true. I have no feelings towards my mother. I have the same feelings for her as I do my kitchen chair.

It's also interesting that my personal pains are always up for speculation and public amature psychological analyzation, however, Aunt Ju-Ju has been traumatized in a way as well, yet it's never spoken of. Nobody dares to declare that she is the way she is because of what she went through.

After this, I told Bill that we are way beyond "sorry", that when Grandma L asks (if she ever does) what she can do to fix the issue I will have no answer. I don't have the faintest idea how anyone could fix that. An insincere apology (which is what it would be) isn't going to cut it. This is an irreparable relationship with our family. Not only is this something that I cannot forgive, but I never want my children to have a relationship with someone who resorts to those kinds of tactics. What's done is done, she's made her choices and it's time to walk away.

Bill had asked me to still go and I told him that I would while also making sure he knew I was going just to go, that I was going for him. There wasn't any hope for the situation. This agreement was a complete waste of time. He knew where I was coming from. I fully expect nothing to come from one session, where I don't want to cooperate at all because I'm not interested in having them in our lives. I fully expect Grandma L to just sit there and cry, deny all of her actions, not take responsibility for anything and essentially, do the same thing she's been doing for the last 3 years. If there was hope for a different outcome, she wouldn't have ignored the situation for the last six months when talking to Bill on the phone, pretending like nothing was going on. She would have taken a step and called us wanting to talk about how to move forward before making the appointment for counseling. She would have done something of meaning for her grandchildren rather than buying them useless crap for holidays that she missed.

Her asking Bill to schedule a session is just another fake request. I suppose we have 2 weeks to find out. If it even gets that far.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Broken and stranded

Yesterday afternoon I got the kids packed up in the car so we could go grocery shopping. I had volunteered to make dinner for of the moms in the club who had her second baby a week or so ago and I needed to pick up a few things to make our favorite chili (and other stuff).

I was driving down the road when the power steering went out. I thought I might have had a flat tire since it was more difficult to turn in one direction. The street I was on was pretty small and I was about to make a right hand turn onto a very busy road when the radio died. OH CRAP, I thought to myself as I hoped the car didn't die where I was - a terrible place to break down. I was lucky enough to make the turn and then turn safely right into a medical complex parking lot. Both boys were fast asleep, oblivious to our situation.

I called Bill at work (which was about 3 minutes away) and he came to our rescue. He drove us home with the boys finally waking up and confused at being loaded up in a different car, a friends car that Bill had borrowed. We stayed home for the rest of the day and I canceled dinner plans for the following night.

Today the car was towed and worked on. We are very lucky that it was a simple fix; a belt broke, the battery needed to be replaced as well as the battery cable. It cost a chunk of change, but it could have been a whole lot worse. Plus, the auto shop discounted the bill quite a bit. Bill found a great car repair bargain!

While being stranded without a car at all, I felt lucky to be living where we do. We live in a small town where you really don't have to have a car (sort of), but for us specifically, we have everything we need within walking distance - Target, restaurants, the gym and a brand new library among many other stores and many more that aren't even open yet. Our only car breaking down could have been a major fiasco in another city, but it was a very small annoyance here.

The car is back in action tonight and our little adventure was fortunately that. Little.