Archive for September, 2014

Hospital Day with Lila and Zoe

Today was Biopsy Day for Mom up in Georgia, so Zoe, Lila and I were shoehorned into the front cab of my ol’ red F150 truck. Old red Ford trucks were not built with car seats for children and infants in mind. We were driving along in the quiet predawn when Zoe suddenly started screaming loudly. It was the sort of screech that I would let out if a giant tarantula started tap dancing on my nose, or a snake decided to take up habitation in my pants leg. I nearly hit the roof of the truck. I jumped, started looking around wildly for cobras or zombies, and yelled “What? WHAT IS IT?”

Zoe sobbed “There’s a FWY in the TRUCK!”

What?  Breathebreathebreathe. Count to 10. Count to 25.  Count down from 100 using serial sevens. Reflect that this is a test used to detect mental impairment and what does it say about my marbles or lack of them that I can’t do serial sevens while driving down the road in the dark while a preschooler is screaming and scaring the baby? (Ha ha, I lied. I can’t do them in the daylight when there’s no noise outside, either. Or maybe I just won’t.) Wonder if this is a reflective question like I learned about in psychology years ago. Remember that I really don’t remember crap about most of my college classes and that they were, for the most part, a waste of money and time that I will never get back again. Get depressed all over again. Ask about the fly.

“Uh, I don’t see any fly! Where is it?”

It’s right THERE, MeeMaw! It’s on the window, and it’s going to get me or baby Lila!”

A small mosquito was buzzing haplessly against the windshield.

“Uh, this is the fly?” I asked, pointing at it.

“YES!” she sobbed.

“Okay, MeeMaw will kill him for you!” I told her, and squished the mosquito on the INSIDE of my windshield. Yeah, that left a mark, but she stopped being totally freaked out about it. On the other hand, if the Supreme Being is in Mosquito form, I’m in deep shit.

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Suckered Again!

Little Lila was chewing her fists, screaming and crying. She had fallen asleep on her own about an hour earlier after ingesting 8 ounces of milk, so I was skeptical about any hunger she might be experiencing.  “No way, kid. If I give you more food, you’re going to urp all over me.”

I carried her around for awhile. She fussed and tried to latch onto my neck under the mistaken impression that there must be nipple around here SOMEWHERE. I detached vampire baby before she could leave a hickey. Not that I was worried about SwampMan getting the wrong idea about how I was spending my day. SwampMan knows that if the Most Attractive Man in the World came by the house and told me that their dream was to satisfy my every desire, I’d say “GREAT! Bounce the baby. The diapers and wipies are over there, the 3-year-old wants apple cider frequently and it’s in the garage refrigerator, and the boys will be home from school in one hour and they’ll want freshly-baked cookies and help with their homework. Take the laundry off the line, fold it, and put it away, then do another load in your spare time. Oh, and the recipe for the pizza dough is on the computer, and that probably should be done before the cookies. I’m going to take a 2-hour nap.” Yeah, baby. That’s my extreme fantasy. Yes, yes, YES!  *sigh*

I started worrying, though, that perhaps I was not correctly remembering when her last feeding was. Maybe it just SEEMED like I’d just fed her. Maybe it was longer. Maybe I should make another bottle just in case.

So, my favorite shirt is now in the laundry covered with baby urp. Never, ever play poker with a baby. Their bluff is very convincing.

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The Local Liquor Store Needs to Deliver

Chocolate cupcake crumbs and white icing as well as pink and yellow Play-Doh (or is that Play-D’OH!) are now crushed happily into the carpet. (Yes, you CAN eat off my carpet. Please do so. Immediately.)

I need to stop in at the local liquor store and explain why they really need to deliver.  Perhaps I’ll bring pictures to bolster my plea. Meanwhile, I’ll explain patiently that tea parties for imaginary friends are best held in the kitchen. Oh, my bad. Apparently the tea party was held in the kitchen, and a certain someone or something unknown tracked the party crumbs into other areas of the house.  Curse you, messy bad people!  Or maybe it was Minnie Mouse.

Now, back to denying that my name is “MeeMaw”, and claiming to be a personage named “Fred”.

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An Exercise Ball Instead of an Office Chair

My computer desk used to have an ordinary office chair. Not a fancy leather-covered office chair with arms (although I have one of those somewhere in an outbuilding) but a regular inexpensive cloth-covered typist chair with back support and hydraulic height adjustment and no arms. I had the leather executive-type chair for awhile, but it was uncomfortable to do a lot of typing in. I suppose at heart I’m just one of those humble little worker bees and not the queen.  *thinking it over* Well. I’m a humble little worker bee unless you forget your proper place, drone. *sting*  THEN I’m the queen.

But I digress.

When my inexpensive chair breathed its last in the middle of the night (nothing ever breaks when replacements are readily available), instead of going out and dusting spiderwebs off my executive-type chair and serving eviction notices to whatever venomous eight leggers dwelled therein and thereon, I just rolled an exercise ball in to take its place. It isn’t like it was getting used for exercise!  And it was temporary, after all, until I replaced it with a new typist chair.

Except I didn’t replace it.  I decided I liked bouncing in place as I read the news. Granted, rolling around the room without actually getting up is a little more challenging than when in the chair, but I can manage somewhat in my uncoordinated fashion. I have new problems with my chair now. My “chair” ball disappears as soon as I get up to get a drink from the fridge, or to stir a pot. “All RIGHT, you little heathens!” I yell at the grandkids. “The ball belongs at the computer. THE COMPUTER! That ball is MY TOY!”

“But MeeeMaw! It’s OUR TURN! You need to share!”

“Let me let you in on a little secret of the universe, kiddies….Sharing is for chumps!  Um, don’t tell Mommy I said that.”   But I have one or more grandchildren draped across the ball as soon as I vacate it, illustrating another secret of the universe. Superior numbers and determination can eventually wear down superior strength.

Daughter, of course, thought I’d completely lost whatever marbles I’d ever possessed. “Seriously, you actually sit on that thing at the computer?” she asked. “Yep! And it’s the best thing ever for bouncing fussy babies!” She was skeptical, but after trying it for a week, she was won over.

“I really missed that ball when I took the kids home this weekend. I was trying to bounce the baby in the rocking chair. It didn’t work.”

So, now I’m posting from my exercise ball. My little #3 granddaughter is gnawing happily on her toys from her boppy chair next to me. I can offer new chewy toys with one hand while typing with the other.  Maybe I need to rig up a cane pole, a piece of elastic, and a carabiner to jiggle toys overhead. Hmmm.

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MeeMaw’s Exercise Program

If it weren’t for me, my MeeMaw would just waste her time and sleep all night long instead of rocking the night away! It’s 12 a.m. and I wanna rock!Lila 14 weeks

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Milestones and Illnesses

My little Lila suddenly went from her arms aimlessly waving about and occasionally batting a toy or grasping one put into her reach to looking at a toy and deliberately reaching out, grabbing it, and tasting it.  I think teeth will be coming soon, because she has gnawed on tail of tiger, snout of crocodile, and trunk of elephant so far after breakfast today. It is incredible to me how one day babies cannot seem to coordinate hand, arm, and eye and the very next day, everything works together down to coordinating feet to help hold objects. I feel privileged to have been able to witness this miracle first hand one more time.

Yesterday, I took out Zoe’s favorite activity, stickers, so that she would be able to make a sticker bug wonderland with queen bugs and princess bugs and draw them flower castles and flower food on a piece of poster board.  She struggled through this activity. “Are we done yet, MeeMaw?” she would ask me plaintively throughout the activity. “Gracious, no, child!” I would exclaim brightly. “We have lots of caterpillars to peel and stick!”  Zoe is the sticker queen. Whenever she gets stickers, I have found stickers on my tables, chairs, floors, cabinets, etc. Now I keep them in a Top Secret Location (guarded by dragons and fire breathing spiders) to be brought out to play whenever baby is sleeping, the laundry and floors are clean, dinner is started, and MeeMaw has extra time to spend with this delightful child.

“What’s the matter, Zoe? Are you hungry?” I asked in concern.

“I don’t fink so!” she told me.

“Would you like a peanut butter jelly sandwich?”

“Well, maybe I could eat one!”  So, she had a PBJ and Koolaid.  She complained that she needed a blanket because it was so cold in the house.  The house temperature was in the 80s because no A/C.

We were going to walk out to the bus to meet her brothers getting off at the bus stop, but she couldn’t find her shoes. She started crying.  “Well, where are they?” I asked.

“I fink I left them in Mommy’s car!” she sobbed.

“You know what? That’s okay! We’ll get them tonight!” I promised. I turned on Netflix, and she chose to watch “My Little Pony” as her brothers came in.  I spent an hour with the boys doing their homework, and asked her if she wanted chocolate milk. She came stumbling into the kitchen rubbing her eyes.  I touched her arm, and it was *very* hot. “I don’t feel thirsty!” she told me. “I’m still cold.”

I took her temperature orally and couldn’t convince her to hold the bulb to the digital thermometer under her tongue. Thermometer quickly went up above 102.  Hunh. Maybe that one wasn’t working correctly. I found the new one, and took her temperature again. This one quickly went above 103.

“You know what? It’s time for your bath!” I told her. She cried.  After her bath, her temperature was *only* 102.7.  Time to call Mommy and let her know we needed some liquid Tylenol. But Mommy was already coming up the driveway.

We conferred over the symptoms. She wasn’t coughing, sneezing, or showing any respiratory symptoms, but she was now extremely pale and sleepy.  She had eaten lunch and it hadn’t reappeared. She had eaten breakfast.  No intestinal symptoms. Maybe West Nile Virus?

Mommy went to the store and got her some children anti-febrile medication. After taking it, her temperature went down to a little over 100, and she fell into a deep sleep on my chair.  I had Lila in another room from Zoe. “Whatever it is, I certainly hope Lila doesn’t get it!” said Mommy. “Their pediatrician has instructed that if she has a temperature above 100.4, we’re to take her directly to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.”

“This morning, they played together like they always do, with Zoe kissing her and giving her toys.” I told Mommy. “And Lila has slept longer than usual today.”

Zoe awoke with just a slight fever today, ate a few bites of breakfast, drank juice, then told me she was sleepy and wanted to go sleep in her bed. Lila woke, played, ate, and fell back asleep. Everybody is quiet. The house is quiet. And instead of catching up on sleep, making cupcakes before the boys get home, or doing other productive things, I’m running back and forth feeling children for fever as they sleep, washing hands in between.

You know who will probably get sick? Yep, me.

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I Look Like a Zombie (and Smell Like One, Too!)

It is Friday, the day that I now generally shamble aimlessly about the house like a mindless zombie, reduced to this state by sleep deprivation.  I wander from room to room, trying to remember why I’m there. My sleepy brain interprets this as low blood sugar, and decides to send some hunger pangs my way.  “I bet you would feel better if you ate those leftover mashed potatoes with sour cream and the leftover roasted corn relish. And the ribs with the brown sugar rub. Yeah.  Lots and lots of carbs. That would make you feel better!” says that lying, sleep-deprived brain.  So I walk into a bedroom looking for diapers for the baby, ask myself why I’m there, don’t remember, and empty the laundry hamper and walk out to do the laundry.  Baby Lila is crying, and I remember I’m supposed to change her diaper. So I walk back to get a diaper. By the time I get into the hallway, I forget why I’m there, and I walk back with the dirty clothes from another bedroom laundry hamper. I drop them on the pile of dirty clothes from the first hamper, decide to go back to look for a diaper (again), but take the baby with me so that hopefully I will remember what I’m looking for this time. 

I have noticed that there are no such things as big ol’ fat zombies on the Walking Dead, so I suppose you would have to come to MY HOUSE to see an example of what a big ol’ fat zombie looks like in real life.  I do not know why the television zombies in Georgia are all skinny. I have lived in Georgia.  I know the truth. There would not be a whole lot of anorexic zombies in Georgia except the meth heads.  Everybody else is just too good in the kitchen and at the grill.

Baby Lila was so happy and lively this morning at 7 a.m.! She smiled and cooed happily at me. She kicked her feet. She sucked her fingers noisily, then my shoulder when I picked her up. I warmed her bottle and gave it to her. Then she gave it right back to me, erupting like a volcano of milk. Yeeeeuuk. My shorts were drenched. My shirt was drenched. My little baby Lila was drenched. And my lazy reclining rocking chair was drenched. I changed her clothes. I changed my clothes. I washed the recliner. I told her firmly that I did not think she was hungry AT ALL! She smiled and waved her feet happily at me. I wish I could report that I have had time to take a shower, but that would be wrong. Now I smell like rotten cheese. But the laundry is drying on the line, so at least I have something to feel good about myself for today.  “See there!” you might say. “You are doing okay. You at least remembered to do the laundry!”  Yeah, big whoop. I dropped it in the middle of the floor where I would trip over it if I didn’t wash it.  No big memory component involved there. 

Former DIL called today to apologize because she had invited Lila, Zoe, and me to accompany her to the zoo this week. She had a big order come in to her small business, and wasn’t able to get away.  She was afraid that I would be unhappy or disappointed. “Honey, I just barely managed to get away to the grocery store yesterday with just two of them, and didn’t manage to make it back before the boys got home from school.  There is no way I would have been able to get away to the zoo for several hours!” I told her. 

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Babies and Budgets

SwampDaughter got home from work last night as the aroma of roasting chicken filled the air. “My check was deposited a day early; want to ride with me to Walmart to pick up some diapers and formula?”

“Dinner is almost ready, so I can probably go!” I answered. She had mentioned that morning that, if her check was in today, she needed to go. The kids had already done their homework, reading, and taken their baths.  They were good to go. Mommy just needed to sign their behavior reports and look over the notes and corrected work that had come home from school.

Dylan, the eight-year-old second grader, had bombed a language arts test because he hadn’t used a cedilla under his digraphs. Mommy and I looked at the test in perplexity.  He HAD answered the questions correctly, his spelling was perfect, but he forgot to put the cedilla. Every language arts test in his grade has multiple proofreader marks that must be used correctly, or the answer is wrong.

“What is up with this?” Mommy said.  “Granted, when I was in school, I did not see the need for algebra, yet now I use it daily in my job.  But this? What possible use could this be?”

“I think it’s called ‘creating employment for English majors through common core standards'”, I answered.  I have never, in my long and varied work history, had occasion to even know what a cedilla was, let alone the proper usage. I believe that he will see this multiple times in the future on standardized tests (sigh), so we had better make sure he uses same. I briefly pondered whether our news anchors and local journalists know about the cedilla.  Would knowing minutiae about diacritical marks help them to write (or read) news stories without sounding like 13-year-old girls with PMS? If so, they need to be put into diacritical re-education classes immediately.

After dinner, we headed to Wal-Mart for said formulas, diapers, wipies, and assorted baby paraphernalia. $150-some dollars later, we headed home.  Daughter looked over her bill in disbelief. “I got paid a day early, and I’m completely broke again!” she wailed.

“Well, that was a month’s worth of formula and diapers, right?” I asked.

“No, that was a WEEK’s worth of formula, maybe ten days. The diapers and wipies might last three weeks.”

DAMN! “Maybe we should consider cloth diapers….”

“I REALLY can’t afford those!”

Well. Maybe we can look into the cost of buying cloth for making diapers over the weekend. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the formula. They are shorthanded at Mommy’s job, so she barely gets to eat her lunch, let alone having a full 20 minutes at lunch in order to pump milk. Her milk supply is drying up.

Babies really are expensive.

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ZZZZzzzzzzzz. Snorfle. Whut?

As those of you that are my close friends and confidants know, SwampDaughter was quite worried about the accidental new arrival, Lila. She was worried because little Lila would cost $250/week in day care, and she was already paying day care costs for the two boys (before and after school care) and full-time day care for little Zoe. All in all, the day care costs would run between $1,800 and $2,000 per month. The additional $1,000 a month cost was a budget buster for them.

“No problem!” I said. “Y’all can move in with us for as long as you need.  We’d LOVE to take care of the kids! ” However, I sorta forgot about the part where babies don’t sleep at night and if you do not attend to them immediately, they wake up the entire household.  Not being a new mother for 30 years kinda dims that memory of sleep deprivation.  Daughter has to drive an hour one way to work in the early a.m., so she can’t be up all night with a grumpy little baby (my decision, not hers).  Somehow I completely forgot about colic. I forgot about the horribly rude noises babies make in public. “Oh, what a pretty little baby!” somebody says. She responds with a huge toothless grin and a roof-raising fart.

But there’s the happy giggling when she sees her feet waving in the air. There’s the smiling and cooing when I stagger blearily to the crib at 2 a.m. after finally putting her down for the night (or so I thought) at 1:30 a.m. Even with a dirty T-shirt, hair standing straight up, and bags under my eyes that Samsonite would admire, Lila thinks I’m the second most beautiful person in the world (the first being Mommy).  There’s the little fingers wrapped tightly in the neck of my T-shirt or around my fingers. There’s the sleepy grin and unconditional love and trust when the baby is cuddled close and falling asleep.

The boys are up at 6:30 a.m. and leave the house to catch the bus at 6:55. During that time, I pack their lunch boxes, fix their breakfast, pack daughter’s lunch and breakfast, and pack SwampMan’s lunch and breakfast. There isn’t much in the way of convenience foods for us; we can’t afford ’em.  Breakfast is oatmeal, scrambled eggs and bacon, or a homemade baked good like pumpkin muffins.  I walk up the driveway with the boys to the bus stop while Mommy heads to work (unless it is one of her early days which is leaving at 6 a.m.)  I walk back to the house, feed and change Lila and, as soon as I put her back down for a little cat nap, Zoe wakes up for her breakfast.  When Zoe eats her breakfast, I try cleaning the kitchen, then Lila wakes. I run throw a load of clothes in the laundry, throw some soap in the dishwasher, and run grab a grumpy baby. I’m a lil’ grumpy myself, because I had hoped to get a nap in!

Before I know it, it’s time for Zoe to have lunch. I’ve managed to mop the kitchen but not the bathroom. I hope to have a shower and maybe a nap before the kids get home from school at 1:30 today, but it ain’t looking good. Zoe wants food, but the kitchen is wet.

And Lila starts to cry.

And the chickens haven’t been fed yet.  And neither have I.

I have about five loads of clothes awaiting folding, and another load on the line. And another load in the washing machine.

Somehow, we all need to get to the grocery store. I spent $200 on food this week, and didn’t get any meat for dinner tonight. How did that happen?

It has been five hours since I started trying to write a post. (grin)  Now y’all know why no updates…sheer exhaustion!

In retrospect, menopause was a darn good idea the powers of the universe came up with.

Poor daughter is run even raggedier than I.  When she gets here from work (about 5:30 – 6:00), she goes over homework with each son, gives Zoe the Mommy attention she is craving, nurses baby, and attempts to change clothes while I’m cooking dinner. Then it is time to send the kids off to bed, and she checks email with one hand while bouncing grumpy sleepy baby with the other.  By the time I’m done in the kitchen and can take baby, it’s usually around midnight.  Then she’ll get five or six hours of sleep, and start all over again.

An emergency beckons. Zoe has just informed me that there is a fly in the toilet, therefore she cannot go potty.  I advised her to flush it down the toilet, but she just looked at me with big tear-filled eyes because that fly may possibly extend its evil fly appendages out that toilet and grab her and suck her down with it. *sigh*  Probably a tiny little moth.

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