Sunday, January 30, 2011

A photogenic chest cavity. The highlight of my week.

As I tried to think of what I would blog about this weekend, a variety of topics flooded my mind. So instead of trying to narrow it down, I've just decided to share them all. Basically, none of them are worth writing an entire blog on, so I may as well shove them together.

Okay, thought number 1:

A few weeks ago I developed a sinus infection which then contributed to a nasty cough. I was coughing so hard I woke up one morning unable to move due to the pain in my chest. In short, it felt like my lungs were too small for my ribs. So with every cough (and there were MANY), it felt like my ribs were cracking.

This was debilitating enough to get me to a doctor.

I was diagnosed with "pleurisy." Essentially, the lining of my lungs was inflammed. I was put on antibiotics and some prednisone (anti-inflammatory).

Problem was, I couldn't do anything. My exercise routine came to a screeching halt since any amount of movement accompanied by heavy breathing put me in excruciating pain.

A sneeze was a near-death experience.

Mornings were the worst - I had to shimmy out of bed because sitting up was impossible.

My 3-yr-old didn't care that picking him up meant Mommy would be clenching her teeth and brought to tears.

So, with multiple urgings from my friends, I headed back to the doctor.

Chest x-rays and multiple blood tests later, and the doctor says, "You've got me stumped."

On a side note - she said my x-ray pictures were 'perfect' and 'beautiful.' It's nice to know I'm beautiful on the inside! lol

But she figured either I had inflammed connective tissue between my ribs or my lung lining was still inflammed (although the blood tests supposedly ruled that out). So now I'm on a massive dose of prednisone. I did read one of the side effects can be weight loss so I'm really hoping for that...although a couple paragraphs down it reads, "may cause puffy face."

Super. I've got gorgeous ribs but I'll have the face of a balloon animal. I think I'm going to turn myself inside out.

Good news is I think the drugs are starting to work. The pain is manageable for now. I guess I'll hit the gym tomorrow and see what happens...

Okay, thought number two:

I know I've blogged about this before, but it still baffles me when sudden blasts of reality hit me - namely, my age.

I met a young man - an early 20-something - this weekend, and when he introduced himself, I recognized his last name. I cringed as I asked this, "I know I'm old when I have to ask this question, but who are your parents?" Sure enough. He gives the names of a couple I remember with small children. Uh, this 'child' is well into adulthood now.

On the way home, I tell my husband I can't believe that he could be that old. I remember him as a toddler! My husband hangs his head and replies, "That's nothing. I knew his Dad before he was even married."

Ugh. Just sign us up for AARP cards already.

It didn't help that tonight I spent some time putting Christmas photos into albums and had some significant catching up to do (as in, I haven't been diligent to do it for a few years, so there was a large collection of photos) and as I started sticking in graduation and senior pictures of my nieces and nephews - my eyes scanned the pages preceding each one.

Photos of them as babies.

I still vividly remember the outfits they're sporting.

And then the cute early elementary photos. The braces and bad hair of the middle school years. Finally the transformation of a baby-chubbed kid into a beautiful/handsome young adult.

**SIGH** How come 18 years seems more like 18 months to me?

And final thought...

My 8-yr-old is sportin' such a strong 'tude lately you'd think she raced through some years and was more like 14.

The latest phrase I've come to despise: "It's none of your business."

Huh? She's 8. I'm her mother. Everything she thinks and does is still my business, isn't it?!?!?

It's that horrific moment in parenting when you wonder, "Should I be firm and tell her it definitely is my business and she better start talkin'" or pull the compassionate card saying, "Oh, honey, I know you're struggling with something, but you know you can talk to me about anything."

Eventually I try them both.

And eventually they both work.

But she's 8. I'm thinking my luck with that will run out in a few years.

It's just hard to believe that moment the doctor held up that baby with girl parts and my heart burst with joy ...would be so quickly snuffed out by her 2nd-grader-style bad attitude.

So I'm sick. I'm old. And I'm a lost parent. Maybe I'll trade my prednisone in for some anti-depressants!

What a week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The trauma of a pretty smile.

I am so envious of my kids. They have no idea how good they've got it when it comes to a visit to the dentist.

When I was a kid, sitting in the dentist's office was like waiting on death row. Nothing good ever came of it.

Problem was, I was that innocent little baby that sucked her thumb only to then require retainers and braces to correct the effects of that thumb-sucking. Talk about being punished for a little self-soothing!

My dentist was mean.
My kids' dentist is kind.

My dentist was insulting.
My kids' dentist is encouraging.

My dentist figured novacaine was entirely optional.
My kids' dentist will do anything to eliminate pain.

I am thoroughly envious.

At my dentist's office, there were various rooms which were equipped for different types of care.

To me, they each represented their own level of pain.

One room had flowery wallpaper. No drills or frightening equipment. This was the room used for a simple, pain-free check up. Maybe a cleaning. I'd sigh in relief when I was escorted to that room.

Next there was the room they took you to if you were most likely going to get some pokes - but nothing too terrifying. Small amounts of pain were inevitable, but manageable.

And then there was the room that brought great trepidation and trembling. My entire body tensed up immediately upon entering. It was the Raggedy Ann and Andy room. That wallpaper screamed 'TORTURE.' It is here you knew it was only a matter of time. You would be writhing in pain. No question.

To this day my stomach does a flip and a flop whenever I see a Raggedy Ann or Andy doll, painting, fabric, whatever. They're now synonymous with pain in my mind.

The additional problem I had was that my dentist had a daughter the same age as me with identical teeth issues. She was a thumb-sucker too, and she needed retainers and braces just like I did. In fact, we began treatment around the same time and therefore our check-ups were often similar in nature.

This did not bode well for me. Here's why:

Dentist's Daughter was a tough little cookie.

I was not. Or at least this is what he led me to believe.

My dentist would be killing me with his sharp instruments - I was certain Raggedy Ann & Andy wallpaper was used solely because the pattern could hide all the blood stains - and while I'm sobbing for relief he scolds me, "I just did this to my daughter last week and she didn't cry at all! Come on, this doesn't hurt!"

Some bedside manner that one had.

I never actually knew going to the dentist didn't have to be painful until I was in college. I needed my wisdom teeth removed, so I found a local dentist to do the job.

I was emotionally preparing myself for the agony. I put the memory of Raggedy Ann and Andy out of my mind as best as I could and I went for it.

And you know what?

It didn't hurt at all! The guy used some stuff to numb the pain of the stuff that would be used to numb the pain. Like a one-two punch to pain. Very nice.

What a novel idea.

He didn't scold me.

He didn't rip my lips into shreds with his latex gloves and then later say, "Oh, you'll need some vaseline."

It was - dare I say it - a pleasant experience!

My kids are so fortunate because it has always been a pleasant experience.  They get to watch a monkey brush his teeth. They get toothpaste flavors like strawberry and cookie dough. The hygenist asks them about things they like. And when they're all done, they get to choose a prize from a box.

All I ever got when I left the dentist was a disapproving look and a "come back in two weeks."

Yep, my kids have it much better than I did. And boy am I glad!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Aiming to be 'diaper-free' by...2025??

"Who left a smooshed chocolate chip on the bathroom counter?" my husband bellows.

I'm in the kitchen with my 3-year-old at my feet as I reply, "Uh, hon. We're potty-training. That may very well be something other than chocolate."

I hear a disgusted groan and a long run of the water as my husband frantically tries to clean his fingers.

But then I remember I baked some cupcakes earlier and let our 6-year-old lick the bowl. "Oh, it actually could be chocolate," I reassure him.

That's life in our house currently. "Surprises" could be left around any corner, under any table. Because when it comes to potty-training, I am unbelievably inept at this aspect of child-rearing.

Truthfully, I despise the entire process.

First of all, you're supposed to determine when they're 'ready.'

Gimme a break. When are we ever ready to lose the ease of relieving ourselves whenever and wherever we want to? Sure, he likes his "big boy" underwear but if he's in the midst of watching a rivoting episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog, keeping Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk dry just doesn't rank very high on his priority list.

And I'm left cleaning a couch.

It never gets any easier either.

With boys, you have to decide whether to teach them to sit or stand. Some moms swear standing is easier, others believe in sitting - where they're helping them avoid the bickering with their future wife about leaving the seat up.

I've found both techniques to be useless. Because aim isn't good in either position, I come armed with Lysol wipes either way.

And then there's the consistency factor.

In a perfect world, you would never leave home and the child would have access to the bathroom at any given moment. Timely relief. Consistent training. Poof! They're out of diapers.

I don't know about you, but I don't live in that world.

In my world, it's the constant dilemma of deciding whether to let the child wear his underwear when Mommy has a gazillion errands to run knowing she'll be slowed down considerably by either frequent potty breaks or a very likely "accident."

It's deciding whether to inconvenience a babysitter by asking them to continue the potty-training in your absence or to make it easy on them and pull out the trusty diaper.

It's all very stressful to me.

I'm on my third attempt now, and since my first two children are still trying to master the skill  in some respects, I am not hopeful for speedy success with my final child.

In fact, I was pretty lazy about the whole thing with this one. He was nearing age 3 and I hadn't done much more than pull out the potty seat.

I guess when you dread something, you'll put it off as long as possible. And I think I have good reason to dread it. I don't have a great track record.

With my first child, when she hit age 2, I was all over it. I bought two kinds of potty chairs to give her "options." I bought the princessy underwear. I had the reward jar filled with M&Ms. I was cheering like she had won an Olympic Gold when she so much as tinkled in that toilet.

But she was 3-1/2 before she figured it all out. Oof. A year and a half of trying everything I could think of, reading everything about potty training I could get my hands on, and taking advice from every "been there" parent I knew.

With my second child, I foolishly thought I'd had it down. I waited until he was closer to 3, and then, promising myself I'd be patient, I took on the challenge.

I remember WAY too many instances of watching a puddle form beneath my son as he stared up at me with his big blue eyes as if to say, "Am I in trouble?"

Believe me, my patience wore thin.

Since he and his sister are just 19 months apart, much of the years-long potty-training was happening simultaneously. We pretty much couldn't go anywhere without four changes of clothes per kid. If anyone served my kids juice, it meant I'd be doing a lot of extra laundry in very short order. It went right through them back then.

It was humiliating at times. Go to someone's house for a nice dinner and end up asking for the carpet cleaner four times and "Any chance you saved some of Johnny pants was he was little? We've used up all our spare clothes."

This has been the toughest part of parenting for me. Hands down.

Give me a kid who pukes all over me for three straight days and allows me no more than two hours of sleep a night for a week. Because that's short-lived. It's painful at the time, but within a week or two, you're laughing about it.

Potty struggles? Nope. Haven't laughed once.

I am honestly in awe of parents who say they got their kid potty-trained in a day, or they had it mastered in a matter of weeks. I can't even fathom that.

Because I'm in the midst of this challenge again. Some days are good. Other days are bad. I've got carpet cleaner within easy reach these days, and the washing machine gets a work out.

I don't even let my mind drift into thinking about the day we'll be diaper-free, because I'm realistic. I will probably keep a box around until these kids graduate from high school.

And I'll keep double-checking that "chocolate."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thanks, Jimmy. I owe you one.

It's been a day. I normally don't dread Mondays now that I'm a stay-at-home-mom. Frankly, all the days kind of run together. But today was SUCH a Monday.

I rushed off to the gym  like usual in the morning with my 3-yr-old in tow, sans diaper. He's enthralled with his superhero underwear, and loves to use the toilet, but only if I tell him to use it. That's called mother-training, not potty-training, I think. *sigh*

But the staff in the child care area of my local gym are quite good at the potty routine, so he rarely has an accident there. However, today the child care area was full when I arrived.

It was 8:45am.

And they were already full. I was aghast.

It's because of those people with new year's resolutions to lose weight and exercise. They come in and take my usual spot! Oh, for it to be the end of February when all those good intentioned resolutioners have given up and gone back to eating McDonald's and watching their DVRs.

Any other day I would just have taken my little underwear-sporting son into the gymnasium and played some basketball as we wait for a spot to open for him in the child care.

But today I needed to register my two older children for basketball. It was opening day of registration, and the line was crazy long. The management of the gym looked like deer in headlights as they scrambled to help people register their kids.
I would later learn that this type of register turnout was unprecedented - they weren't prepared for such a mass of people.

Lucky for me, the big man on campus is a friend of mine and when he came out of his office to assess the situation, he came up to me to find out my story.

...Because I obviously had a look of distress on my face as I tried to maintain my spot in line while pleading with my son to 'stay by mommy.'

As I begin to tell him my plight, I don't get much beyond, "the child care is full but..." and he's giving me a reassuring look, a "hold on one second, I'll fix this" gesture and off he goes. Soon the child care area is in process of adding staff, and he's attempting to keep the masses happy by offering cups of coffee.

Someone bellows, "Where's the donuts?"

He replies, "Donuts? Good idea. I'll have those next time!"

I find myself unable to even be slightly upset with the directors and staff. They're all so good-natured and obviously taken aback by the multitudes this morning and yet bending over backwards to serve.

And then...FINALLY...I get to the counter. It's my turn! I have managed to keep my active child from putting his entire head into the nearby garbage can or running out the doors into an icy parking lot and still kept my place in line! Hooray!

But victory is fleeting.

Just as I'm giving the name of my first child to the kind staff person, my little companion says, "Mommy, I have to go potty!"

Now I am torn between "Oh, why NOW?" and "WOW! You're actually initiating this! I'm so proud of you, son!"

But I look back at the long line, look at my squirming son and turn to the registration person and in desperation cry, "We're potty-training so I HAVE to get him to the bathroom," as I dash off.

Only to get to the bathroom and hear my son say, "I'm wet."


Since this is my third child I am prepared - spare clothes are tucked in my bag. As I start to peel the soaked clothes from his body, one of the child care workers pops her head into the restroom to say, "We can take him now!"

As tempting as it was to just dump the half-naked child off on someone else, I did get him cleaned up myself and got him settled into child care.

And when I returned to the line to attempt registration consisted of...


So had I just dawdled about 30 more minutes at home this morning, I could have avoided ALL of that nonsense.


My frustrations would not be left at the gym, however.

I would return home to various messages in relation to my freelance work that only left me more frustrated. And after school when I shared the good news that I had my children registered for basketball, that news would be received with "No! I'm not playing basketball! Basketball is boring!" from my daughter. My son was overjoyed, which is the response I was hoping for from BOTH of them...but it was not to be!

I knew my daughter wasn't thrilled with the idea of playing basketball but I didn't have all the reasons why. So we talked about it.

She doesn't like crowds watching her.

She doesn't like a game with "so many rules."

And then she mumbled something about basketball being for boys...

As a former basketball player myself, that one hit a nerve.

"I played basketball! And our team was really good!"

And then I remembered...I have the tape!

I proceed to say, "After you take your shower tonight, you can watch me play basketball when I was in school."

My daughter is thrilled with watching home movies of herself as a baby, so the idea of seeing her mother in her - ahem - younger days sent her happily skipping to her bathroom to bathe!

We weren't too far into the tape (VHS - wow, I had to go out to the garage to find the ol' VCR) when my kids' own commentary began.

"Why is your hair so big and curly, Mom?"

"It's not just me! That was the style. Everyone's hair is poofy."

"You look"



"Sweetie, I was young. This is 20 years ago."

But after just one quarter: progress. My daughter was impressed and I think maybe a little excited for someday having her own basketball video.

Although it had nothing to do with the points I scored, the announcer saying my name, or a flashy uniform.


It was because of a brief pan of the camera onto the Cardinals cheering section.

Center stage. A young Jimmy Kleinsasser. Standing, cheering, whoopin' it up for his big sister's team.

I pause the tape to show them this boy who is now a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings.

And my daughter's jaw drops and exclaims, "You mean a big-time football player was there cheering on MY mom?!"

Er, yeah. Kinda.

But I was going with it. Because it may just get her on the basketball court!

And that, after all, was my goal from the start.

Day. Redeemed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Maybe I WAS missing something.

Tonight I played with a Wii. "Rockstar" to be exact.

For more than 2 minutes.

Because that's really all the exposure I've ever had to video games of any extent.

Sure, when I was a kid Atari was all the rage. Yes, I'm giving away my age, but oh well. I'm a "Rockstar" now. It doesn't matter.

And I remember watching other kids play Pac Man for what seemed like hours at the arcade of "Big B's Pizza" - but I wasn't the one holding the joystick.

I have to admit, I could never figure out the draw to it. Why do kids beg for these games for Christmas? Why do children - and adults for that matter - become glued to their TV screens like zombies just so they can jump over a cartoon mountain or eat a cherry?

But I think I might get it now. It's all about the score.

At least it was for me.

"Rockstar" hurled me back to exam day in 11th grade. Would I get 100 percent? 98? Please tell me it is above 93!!

And so I bang on those drums and strum that guitar like I've missed my calling. And though I end with a respectable 80 percent, or even a 93 percent...I am not satisfied.

I need to do it again. I must beat my score.

I fared better on the vocals, but that's just because I can follow a line better than a colored bar, apparently. It clearly has nothing do with actual vocal ability.

But I scored a 99 percent on vocals.

Well, hey! I'm nearly a perfect rockstar!  Or so the silly game designers would like me to believe.

Because they know I will go for that perfect score. Over. And over. And over.

It is hypnotic, fun and incredibly ridiculous all at the same time.

Unfortunately - or fortunately probably - the TV actually blew a fuse as my friends and I neared the end of one of our songs. Oops. It was probably a sign. At least it flashed me back to reality in short order.

And though I wasn't crushed that I couldn't get to my guitar solo, I was devastated to not get to see my score.

Some video games may bring out our competitive nature, but "Rockstar" brings out the perfectionist in us.

And, much like my guitar playing...

it ain't pretty.