Sunday, September 11, 2011

America Shall Not Perish

[We] here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~ Abraham Lincoln, 1863

"That 'we here highly resolve...' in the midst of a bitter civil war, they came to listen: nearly twenty0-thousand people crowded onto a field in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was November 1863. Only a few months earlier seven thousand Americans had lost their lives on this ground.

"With his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln transformed a field of sorrow and ashes into a place of hope. He understood how precious it was for a nation to rededicate itself, in a war-torn world, to the twin ideals of liberty and equality. Today, those ideals still stand as our twin towers: beacons to guide us as we strive to fashion a world in which all people may freely live their dreams." - James West Davidson, co-author, The American Nation

Monday, September 5, 2011

Great grandparents

My mom called me on Saturday. My Granny's surgery has been scheduled for Wednesday, the 7th. I know I didn't get around to mentioning it before, probably because I was hoping to get some time to process it and write something poignant. But I'm pretty lazy when it comes to blogging I guess. My grandmother has breast cancer. And apparently it's pretty advanced, but it's isolated to a lump so her doctor was pretty confident that he could remove the lump and just give her radiation therapy to resolve it. My mom didn't think her health (she has COPD and was just getting to a point where she didn't need oxygen to move around anymore) would last through radiation treatments. So my mom had her doctor consider other options and they sought a second opinion. The next doctor told my grandmother that a complete mastectomy would negate the need for radiation. My Granny wasn't really going to go for it, but finally came around to our way of thinking. I think she was rather scared because my Papa passed away within months of his cancer diagnosis (when I was only 13). He had pretty advanced cancer too and when they went in to remove it, they found tumors throughout his body. He just never made it through the chemotherapy. But the reason my mom called, other than to wish me a happy birthday and apologize for not being able to visit, was to say that the surgery had been scheduled and Granny had taken a turn for the worse in health. She's been through a lot of tests to assess her for surgery and she's been getting progressively run down since Liam's birthday party. Well, it turns out that her potassium and sodium levels have plummeted again (this happened last year too). It leaves her so weak and unsteady; she's tired all the time.

We went to visit her today. She is pretty worn out. Her voice is deep and congested sounding. She was wearing her dressing gown. She hadn't made her bed in three days she said. We brought the boys to entertain her and just be generally cheerful, but I don't think her surgeon is going to want to do the surgery after I saw how she was doing. I made her bed. Jon went out and brought in the trash cans and took out the newspaper to the recycling bin. We brought in her walker and her toilet seat which upset her because she just got them out of the house at the beginning of the summer. She's back on oxygen, but only at night. She didn't have any water to drink the whole time we were there. Mom came in from work (she's just moved out of the house and back into her own house but is still working in Sac) and made Granny a sandwich and we had a little chit chat. I think it was a good visit overall and I'm glad we insisted on visiting. Who cares that she didn't have a gift or card for my birthday? I'm 32 tomorrow. It's not a cool birthday; I'm claiming to be 27 again. But she did give me some money. We stopped by Louis Cairos in Williams on the way home and brought home delicious steak dinner. I got a rib eye smothered in miso onion butter and grilled onion with ranch beans and minestrone soup. Yummers. So I still got a great gift.

On a side note, I also got a call from my dad yesterday. He was apologizing for being incommunicado the last 2 months and wanted us to swing by to pick up some money he wanted us to have for Liam's daycare. His van finally died last week and I guess he and my uncle Ted spent the day on Saturday shopping for my dad's first new vehicle since they bought my Garfunkle when I was 12 (um, 20 years ago!). He got a Toyota Tacoma pickup, new, and I think it will be a great investment for him and his property. But he also told me that my Grandpa Bert was in the hospital in Stockton, just having had surgery and was recovering really well. I thought this was for a kidney transplant that dad said he needed. But no. Apparently he had a brain tumor too. And his doctor had not originally wanted to operate on it; I guess he said "let's wait a couple of months and see, but I don't think it's malignant." So I guess my grandpa told him that if he didn't get the tumor out of his brain, then he would stop going to dialysis. I can understand his reasoning. The man's 90 years old. If his brain isn't good enough to rescue, why should his kidney be?

All in all, I'm so lucky that my boys have 3 great grandparents still in their lives, even though we only spend a significant amount of time with my Granny. I still have fond memories of my two great grandmothers, both of whom I knew throughout elementary school.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

make-up and la abuela

Too cute. Yesterday morning Liam was up while I was getting ready and says "wuss dat?" Make-up. "Cam I put on da make-up too? Weeum make-up?" So I took my older blush brush and swiped it across his face. "Dat tickles momma!" Then I brushed his hair with my big paddle brush (which is like as big as his face) and spritz him with a little hairspray. "All done mommy!" Ummm, I do think this kid is either destined for theater or drag (he also calls himself a "pwincess" when he grabs the laundry from the hamper and puts it up to himself). Either way; that's cool with me.

We also went to the park after dinner. He was running around in diaper and t-shirt and suddenly said "I puddon da sand-do-does. I go to da park." Do you want to go to the park? "YES PWEEZE!" So I let Jon stay home and relax since both boys had been up since 6:15am and I couldn't get home until after 5pm. I put Colin in the carrier, grabbed a sheet and the boppy, a juice cup for Liam and the Yam (yes, he did put pants on). He had a grand ol' time. I took him to the park instead of the elementary school across the street. It was a toss up really. The school means i can let him run around a little more since it's fenced in and only across the street in case of boo-boos. But the park has equipment more his size. I chose the park. While crossing the street, I was singing our little "hold hands, cross the street" chant and a sheriffs deputy stopped and said to me "you got your hands full there" before he continued into the intersection. :)

There was a little Mexican girl (maybe 2 years old) and her grandma getting to the park just about the same time. Thee little girl was quite the dare-devil. Yeah, my son will go down slides by himself even if no one is watching, but she was sliding down the tall, bumpy slide backwards and on her belly. Wow! It took about an hour before Liam went down that slide at all, but he loves the twisty slide there. When the street vendor came by with his cart, the little girl and her grandma got some Mexican junk food (those pork rind things that look like rings and a shaved ice. Liam whined once about wanted some "ice cweem" but yo no tengo dinero, so sorry buddy. It turned out not to be a problem because he was really too enamored with the playground equipment to mind. And then, the little ol' abuela started offering Liam some of their snacks. Wow, how nice grandma. I made sure Liam wasn't too much of a pest and that he said please and thank you. He and the little girl ran back and forth along the wall. They went down slides. He got so overheated that his little pale anglo-nordic cheeks were bright pink. He was hot and sweaty and very sad when I finally put the kybosh on park time and we headed home.

Considering he hadn't taken a nap and had been up since 6am, I wasn't surprised when he drifted off to sleep easily after his bath...I only had to read 5 Thomas stories and 1 animal book :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

long day

Just to bookend this first day of the weekend after going back to work, here's the post of today. Ummm, wow! My boys are the biggest whiney brats. I don't know why but my fuse was so short today. Everything the littles did seemed to frustrate me beyond measure. I do feel bad but it seems like I'm getting to the end of my rope so easily with Liam these days. I know a lot of it has to do with him pushing his boundaries a little further now that he's 3. But still, WHY?!!!

Liam got up a little after 7am and was totally happy just totally loud for the first hour. Then his day went downhill fast. He "made a mess" by spilling his dry cereal all over his Green Ghost (who we just frickin' cleaned last night); it wasn't a mess, but he refused to either eat it or pick it up. Colin decided that he wasn't going to be happy unless he was in my arms so I couldn't exactly get any chores done. Jon was sleeping the morning away on the couch. I figured if I couldn't do housework I could try to do some work-work that I brought home but the boys were not going to have it. Colin spit up on me at almost every feeding and he took two 30 minute naps (that's all). He also was just a major complain-atron for the whole damn day.

Liam did not nap, but at least he entertained himself for a couple hours in his room. He peed on the living room floor after twenty minutes of sitting on his potty and on the big toilet watching videos of peeing on the potty (yes you can find those on YouTube). He shrieked at the highest pitch he could muster and threw trucks at me so I sent him to his room. During his bath, he insisted on getting more soap for the bath pouf but I wouldn't let him have it. So he tried to "climb" the corner bath shelf and yanked it so hard that EVERYTHING flew off of it and into the tub around him and scaring him (except for the particular quart sized bottle of baby shampoo that he had been trying to get - umm yeah, that flew out directly at my head by the other wall of the bathroom where I'd been sitting).

He went down to bed easily but Colin decided that he was finally going to be happy and cheerful for the first time today when I was trying to put him down. Such a cheeky monkey :)

So yeah, it felt like everything happening in this house today was created to irritate me. If I hadn't just had a cycle, I would swear it was my TOM. Grrrrrr. It's a good thing they're so cute or I'd probably have eaten them out of frustration.

mega update

No, this will not be long like the title might suggest. I just have some mega news to report on.

#1) I went back to work this week. Well, technically I went back to school last week to start getting my classroom in order. And it was quite the ordeal as I left my room rather messy and told my substitute that she was NOT in any way expected to organize beyond what she needed to function. So when they took down my room for the summer clean-up; yeah, they hid my mess in all my little tiny cupboards. Oh well. I also have some big changes that I'm making to my teaching methods and I had to pick up a class of 8th grade US History due to the massive size of the class of 2016. They gave me the most challenging class; I've never had an aide in my room everyday but there are enough students that require push-in support that I get one. Frankly, I accommodate for all of my students. But I also got some low readers and some pretty lazy kids who could do a lot better if they just did their assignments. These will be my little loves. I missed them all a lot when I left for maternity leave, but they're mine again [cue megalomaniacal laughter here].

#2) Liam's daycare/preschool will be remaining open! Laura is moving to the Redding area, but she decided that her original plan of having a manager oversee the school in her absence would work after all. So this allows the daycare to stay open AND the gals to retain their jobs as teachers. I'm very happy all around. We won't be putting Colin in or having them go full-time until Jon gets a regular job however. For now, Yamster will continue to go in the mornings only.

#3) Colin finally (seriously we thought he was gonna be walking before he did this) rolled over on the 17th. This makes him just 10 days shy of being 5 months old. He's been scooting around and getting into all kinds of crazy positions when he's on the floor or in his crib, but he just hadn't quite managed that roll. And he did the more difficult one first. While I was on the floor watching him in the baby gym, he rolled from back to belly so quickly and got his arm out from under him in so short a time you would have thought he'd been doing it for months. Hooray! He's not done it many more times since then, but it's awesome knowing he can now. Just a side note on the rolling around in the crib thing ... well, several times now we've found him completely turned around from the direction we put him in and he's been managing to get those skinny little legs of his stuck out of the crib slats. It doesn't really bother him though. Have I mentioned before what an awesomely happy and chill baby I have? Well, I do; he is.

That's all for now. You wouldn't believe what a mess the house has become after 2 weeks of being back at work and the Hubster still needs to finish the craft project for the ladies room in the office at work.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

baby BooB camp

Well, I am officially a week away from school starting. I am still behind in planning for my 8th grade class, mostly because I am still trying to cling tenaciously to the time off I've enjoyed since Colin was born. In anticipation of my return, I decided it's time to put the kybosh on Coco's boob munching throughout the day. Afterall, I'm not going to be able to take the little guy to work with me. It's time to build up the milk supply in the freezer.

When I returned to work with Liam, I had about 14 packages already in the freezer. But he was 7 weeks old when I returned and wasn't drinking very much in each bottle. Plus, we were still having to supplement with formula after every breast feeding. The kid was hungry and I just wasn't providing enough. Add to it the fact that I could only pump breast milk once a day because my principal scheduled my prep period right next to lunch (BIG MISTAKE) so I had no time to build up for a 2nd pumping during the day. During this time, Liam got very very used to the bottle and became very impatient. Weekends and evenings were torture but I felt like I had to continue breast feeding because I was already cheating him by giving him formula. A week after his 4 month doctor visit, I had one night that he threw a major screaming fit at bedtime because I wanted to nurse him and he wouldn't latch long enough for me to get a let-down. It's a vicious cycle. No latch, no let-down, no milk, baby cries for milk so he gets no latch. Lather-rinse-repeat. That night I told Jon to make a bottle and there would be no more breast for Baby Liam. He agreed because he could see how stressful breast feeding had become for both of us. Liam just screamed until we gave him his bedtime food (this time in bottle form). It only took me less than two days to dry up; I knew I still wasn't producing very much milk so I wasn't surprised. We had enough milk frozen that we just gave Liam 1/2 milk/formula bottles for the next 2 months until that ran out. Then my kid was formula fed all the way (except he was also starting solids at this time ... and then he went cow milk transitioned at 11 months old).

Back to the Coco milk situation. As I'm home most of the time, I don't have a big supply of milk stored up. In fact, I only have three 6oz bag in the freezer and he pretty much drinks 5-6oz at a time now (we've given him bottles so we know this). I've been lucky that my principal fulfilled my request for an afternoon prep period so now I can pump during lunch and prep at school. I'm going back to work every day this week to get my room ready and fill out lesson plans, etc. So I made Colin's baby Boob camp declaration!
"Colin will no longer get boob from the hours of 6:30am-4:30pm! He may eat a bottle when he likes, but I need to pump so he must take a bottle. I will also be pumping only during the times that I would be pumping during school too."
It started off well because I was very full in the morning and he only took one breast at his 5am feeding before noddling back off to sleep. I pumped the other side (my fuller side) and got 7oz! (amazing for me). I then pumped at noon (should have been 11, but my mom had called). I then forgot to pump during what would be my prep period, but I took advantage of the fact that both boys were still napping and got another round done at 3:45p. Well, Colin woke up almost right after I finished, so I just gave him the milk that was collected rather than thawing out another older bag. Wow! He's falling into pattern just great. Not only that, but he didn't want to eat again until 8:30p which was perfect because that's just before his bedtime. Phew! Things are looking like they might be easier already (yeah, we'll check in next week after the stress of going back to work is freakin' you out a bit and drying you up!)

So far, (knock wood) Colin is now older than Liam was when I stopped breast feeding and he looks like he'll make it quite a bite longer. Even if he goes as long after I return to work as Liam did, that'll make him 7 months old as opposed to 4.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preschool Rainbow Cupcake - Pt. 2

Happy birthday to my Big Boy . . . the Yam turned 3 years old today!!! Can you believe it. He's done some phenomenal growing over the recent 3 months that he's been in preschool; I was excited to make cupcakes for his class in the preschool (and the school-age room as well). It's a little thing that I probably won't get to do a lot since Liam's birthday is in the summer and even if he were to have a party at school, well guess where I'll be – at school in my own classroom. (Colin is a risk too as his birthday may sometimes fall during Spring Break.)

When we dropped him off at school this morning, they had written on the window a birthday message for him. There was also a giant banner in rainbow dots between the two classrooms. How did they know I chose a rainbow theme?! I asked when we should bring the cupcakes by and they said around 10:30am so that there would be sufficient time before lunch to get a bit of appetite back. The preschoolers/toddlers were so cute in their little chairs. They all started to sing to Liam while I was handing out the cupcakes and Liam tried so so so hard not to dig into his frosting (which is pretty much all he eats of cake these days) until everyone was served.

Even two of the infants got to have some cake. And the school-age kids were super stoked when I said they could all have a cupcake too. The teachers were so impressed by the rainbows and called me Supermom! Awww. I told them it was easy but it just took a long long time. The little kids exclaimed “Wainbows!” when they bit into the cupcakes and when they saw the papers. The papers are beautiful actually; Jon said they looked like little tie-dyed shirts with their circular pattern that wasn't always perfect VBGYOR order.

It was a cool feeling, being that awesome kind of mom. You know, I hate to have a Back to School whinge right now, but I feel like I put this much effort into everything I do for others and that includes my friends as well as my students. Why oh why are my efforts not viewed as spectacularly by the administration or the parents? Maybe I need to make rainbow cupcakes for everyone at “B2S Nite” to get their appreciation. Um yeah; like that's ever gonna happen!

I hope Liam always enjoys cupcakes and being spoiled a bit on special days. I know it seems like we're going a bit overboard this year, but last year I wasn't even home because I was at a CTA conference and besides, this is like the first birthday he's going to remember anyway.

Oh, we finally got to learn the names of his little school chums. When I was loading the photos onto the computer this evening, I actually got Liam to tell me who everyone was. Apparently this Cami girl that he's confessed to holding hands with before is an older woman (she's probably four by my best guess). That was adorable when I learned about Cami. “Cami an' Weeum hold hans. Hold hans's OK to hold hans.” Awww.