Friday, February 27, 2009

Thirteen things

Avtalyon is 13 months old today. In his honor:

1. We have a First Years handsfree gate in the entrance to our kitchen. The pedal that opens the gate requires 40 lb of pressure to open, so babies and toddlers can't open it, but an adult (or a smart preschooler who jumps on it really hard) can. Today I noticed Avtalyon holding on to the gate with both hands, putting one of his pajama'd feet on the pedal, and pushing--trying to open it himself.

2. Avtalyon loves light switches. Every time I walk past one holding him, he wants to flick it on, then off, then on, then off. Sometimes he does it without my even slowing down for him. This can come in very handy on Shabbos, but you have to be careful that he doesn't get his own ideas about which lights should and should not be on.

3. He splits his nighttime sleep between the big crib in the boys' room and the pack and play in my office. He sleeps fine in either one now, but if Iyyar wakes up in the night (as happens often these days) he wakes up too, and has a hard time settling back down.

4. He is in size 4 diapers now. And they're not too big at all, even the Pampers.

5. He likes his little soft blue leather shoes with the turtles. When you're putting them on him, he is interested enough to let you hold him still.

6. He really, really, really wants to get his hands on the cordless phone.

7. He likes drinking water from a sippy cup. I tried giving him whole milk the other day, though, and he was unimpressed. Cheerios in whole milk, fed to him with a spoon, are acceptable.

8. He likes to go to sleep with a pacifier in his mouth and his blankie tag in his hands. He must suck on the tag in the night, though, because it's getting all ratty there.

9. He's got three teeth on top and two on the bottom. I think a fourth one is coming in on top--he's been fussy lately.

10. He's not totally bald anymore--just starting with the peach fuzz.

11. Yesterday, when Ada left, he walked after her, waved, and said "ba ba!" as in, bye bye! And when he heard Barak come in the door, he said Barak's name, absolutely clearly.

12. It's impossible to nurse him if anything else interesting is going on in the room. He's too distracted and keeps flipping around sideways to look, without troubling to break his latch first. Ouch.

13. He's just started to display signs of baby temper. Last week, he threw a full-blown baby tantrum, as in, he flung himself down on his stomach, beat his hands and feet on the floor, and howled. I laughed, and I think he was slightly insulted. Then he forgave me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This'll be a short one--much to report, but not much time.

Iyyar's been coughing for a while. Not a lot, but when he does it sounds pretty bad, and it's really not going away. I mentioned it to the ENT when we were there, and he didn't seem bothered; I mentioned it again to the nurse practitioner last week, and she said that if the whole family was coughing (well, I am, and Abba is a little) and nobody had a fever, I didn't need to bring him in. Yesterday, though, he really sounded bad, and I was feeling worse myself--I'm always tired, but it's usually because I don't sleep enough. Lately, I've been tired in an I-can't-move, all-my-muscles-ache kind of a way.

Last night, though, I woke up and couldn't breathe. My chest hurt too much to inhale, and it was going up my neck, down my arm, into my back. It was pretty scary, and I couldn't even get enough air to tell my husband that I was having a problem. I managed after a little bit to get up and get into a hot shower--the theory being that maybe I'd pulled a bunch of muscles coughing. (All of them at once, though? Really?) That was when I realized that it wasn't just really cold in here, I was having chills, and then I found a thermometer and realized I had a fever. Great. I found another blanket, got back into bed, and by that point was breathing okay--well enough that I'd discarded the idea of going to the ER but thought a trip to the doctor in the morning was in order.

I called in sick, spent the babysitter portion of the morning napping, and kept Iyyar home from playgroup because there was no way I was going to be out pushing a double stroller in the cold. This afternoon, we both went (by cab) to the doctor. "Does anyone in your family have asthma?" he asked me. I said no, not that I knew of. He pulled out a little tube with beads in it. "Look, I'm going to blow into here." He stood up and blew and the bead went up to 700. "Okay, now you do it. Take the deepest breath you can," (it wasn't very deep) "and blow." I did, thinking, hey, that wasn't too bad. Then I looked at it. 300. Oh. "Try again." I did; 300 again. "Let's get you an inhaler." What? I took two puffs and ten minutes later blew into the thing again. 400 this time. Huh.

Anyway, he thinks I had an asthma attack brought on by a respiratory infection; he gave me an inhaler. My chest still hurts and I still can't get a good breath, and I'm still dragging around, but I feel a whole lot better than I did last night. Better than walking pneumonia, anyway, which was my guess as of yesterday.

And Iyyar is fine; lungs clear, and the doctor mentioned getting him an inhaler as well but when I said he didn't seem bothered by the coughing said, then let's just let it go. Oh, and he looked into Iyyar's ears and said they looked fine. I guess we'll see what the ENT says next time--followup in two weeks, after Iyyar's sleep study, which is tonight. Iyyar and Abba are leaving in half an hour, so I'd better go make sure everything's ready.

French fries

Yesterday, more or less on a whim, I took the boys for French fries after school. I had asked the person who takes Barak home in the afternoon to drop him by Iyyar's playgroup, and so we were all together and out for a walk, right by the French fry store. Too much to resist.

We had our fries, and I supervised Barak's desire to feed Avtalyon: "Not the hard ones. The long soft ones, like these. He only needs one at a time. " Avtalyon managed to suck down a couple of fries, Barak had a blast, and Iyyar, who doesn't have much appetite these days, played with his and sang but didn't eat very much. At one point Barak asked me what was inside the fries, and I told him potato. When we were done, I asked Barak to put his garbage in the trash can, which he cooperatively started to do. Then he noticed the picture on the French fry bag--a very happy-looking potato, complete with face, arms and legs, leaning smugly against a large pile of fries.

"Who's that? Is that a potato?" he asked.

"Yup, that's a potato."

"What's he doing?"

"I think he's saying, look at all these yummy fries."

Pause. Then, softly and almost horror-struck,

"Were those his friends?"

I don't think I came up with a very convincing explanation for that one. Instead, I changed the subject. "Barak, do you know who really really likes French fries?"


"Grandma. Grandma really likes French fries."

"Does she eat them a lot?"

"I don't think she eats them a lot but when she gets them she really likes eating them."

"Does she gobble them all up?"

"Yup. Just like you do."

Solemnly, in an attempt to determine exactly how Grandma eats French fries: "Does she slurp them up like a vacuum cleaner?"

"No, she's politer than that. Grandma has very good manners."


Sunday, February 22, 2009

more updates

1. First things first--Iyyar did in fact poop yesterday. Three times. (I know, you were all holding your breaths, right?) But this morning he didn't eat much breakfast or lunch, moped around, and then by lunchtime burst into tears saying he didn't feel good. Half an hour of rolling around on his bed with his blankie and Grover later, though, he seemed fine. He happily shared a bowl of cereal with Abba and is out with him and Barak now. Avtalyon is napping and I should probably be cleaning up, but I choose to sit here lumpenly instead. And blog, of course.

2. Avtalyon is shattering all known cuteness records. Today he picked up a toy phone and intoned "Iiiiiiiii," into it, very seriously, several times. His other fun activity of the day was picking up an empty, capless Avent bottle, dropping a yellow piece of Lego (the medium-sized kind) into it, and trying to get it out with his fist. The proportions of his hand to the bottle neck make this impossible, so it's kind of a frustrating exercise; after a while he gets mad and cries, I take the bottle off his fist and tip it upside down, and the piece of yellow Lego falls out. He then looks at me and grins, picks up the Lego, drops it back into the bottle, and puts his hand back in. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. Last week my husband needed to put a program on his laptop, which is almost six years old and very full of stuff. So he took all the pictures on there--of which there were many--and moved them onto my computer. This meant that I rediscovered a bunch of knitting pictures I'd forgotten I had taken, some of them of knitting I've already given away and had forgotten I'd even done.

Naturally, the next thing to do was start adding those projects to Ravelry, which I did. One of them was a pi shawl--an Elizabeth Zimmerman creation that is my only piece of lace knitting to date. I made some mention of it being my "first and probably last lace shawl."

Can you see where this is heading?

After I added the project I took a look at some of the other pi shawls, saw one done in Trekking XXL, thought about getting a similar effect with my box of Koigu scraps, and, well... I'm on the 568-stitch section now.

4. I am running out of ideas for things to cook. I've taken Iyyar off dairy again, and since he's not feeling good he's being really picky. Barak is always picky but does have a reasonable range of things he'll eat; however, most of them contain dairy or things Iyyar won't touch (like raw vegetables). If you were to draw a Venn diagram representing the range of healthy food items that Barak and Iyyar like, there would be very little overlap.

My general philosophy on picky eaters is "This is dinner, take it or leave it." I don't force anyone to eat anything, nor do I offer alternatives. However, given how Iyyar's been losing weight I can't let him skip meals--meaning I really need to be offering him something he'll eat at every meal, and it wouldn't be very nice of me to only make things that Barak hates. This means that currently, we're down to about three recipes.

Complicating things massively is that Barak won't eat meat, except for bologna and hot dogs (yecch) so if I make, say, spaghetti and meatballs, Iyyar and Avtalyon are thrilled but Barak ends up eating plain spaghetti with spinach. And I truly don't think meat as it is produced in this country is good for anyone, so I don't want to be forcing Barak to eat it--especially since I was myself a vegetarian for 12 years and fully understand his "I can't possibly eat THAT!" reaction.

Any ideas for pareve, kid-friendly, quick and easy meals? Ideally, I'm looking for ideas that don't involve scrambled eggs, Hungarian noodles, Trader Joe's chickenless nuggets, corn, carrot pancakes, peanut butter sandwiches, or spaghetti, because I've got those covered already.

5. Barak is being really sweet lately. Not every second, obviously, but often. He's bigger now--closing in on five in a couple of months--and much more interesting to talk to. It's also getting more interesting to listen to him play. Last Friday both of our guests canceled on us at the last minute (as in, half an hour before licht, but that's another story) and my promise to Barak that he could come out of bed when our guests arrived, as long as Iyyar was asleep, hit a snag. Not only that, but Iyyar's four-hour nap that afternoon meant that he wasn't interested in falling asleep, and in fact stayed awake until past 9--pestering Barak the whole time.

At 9:15 pm, after Abba and I had finished eating our own dinner and he'd gone out to a shalom zachor, out came Barak. "Iyyar's asleep. Can I play with little Lego?"

What to do? I'd told him he could come out if he stayed in bed quietly till Iyyar fell asleep, and he'd kept his part of the bargain. I'd also told him he could play with little Lego, which he hardly ever gets to do, since it's a choking hazard for Avtalyon and Iyyar scatters it on the floor.

"Okay," I told him. "But just for a little while, and very, very, very quietly."


This is where I comment that Blogger autosave is not to be trusted. I had finished this post with an entertaining roundup of Barak's Lego session, wherein I got to witness the construction of an amphibious helicopter and listen to Barak's commentary on same. I also mentioned the ridiculous cuteness of his green bear pajamas, how Avtalyon likes to toddle around the house with one hand on his chest a la Napoleon, and how Iyyar has been spending a lot of time lately talking about his boot powers (apparently, his boots have superpowers. And to think I got them on clearance at LL Bean.) Alas, the end of the post is gone, so you'll have to content yourself with this, I suppose. And I'll have to go clean the kitchen, because it is incredibly unlikely to clean itself.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Square one

Last Sunday, Iyyar started looking uncomfortable. And didn't poop. Monday same. Tuesday, he started in with the kind of crying and screaming we haven't seen since early January. Wednesday was more of the same, and last night he woke up at 10 hysterical, rolling around on the floor and wailing that his tushy hurt and he couldn't poop. My friend Yehudis, in a great act of chesed, drove over to the 24-hour drugstore for us at 11 at night to get suppositories--which didn't work (and by the time she came over, he was all happy again, after an hour of Grover videos in my office). Then he started crying again, then he fell asleep, then woke up screaming with a dirty diaper (but not dirty enough) at around 3 am. This morning he seemed okay, woke up on his own and wanted to go to school, because he's supposed to be Shabbos Tatty today. We got as far as the door of playgroup when suddenly he fell apart. "I don't feel good..." and we turned around and went back home, by way of the drugstore, where I picked up more Miralax, even though I don't think it does him a bit of good personally.

So, looks like starting the dairy again was a mistake. He got the second pinworm pill yesterday--so that can't be the problem, because he was already miserable before that. I talked to the GI doctor's nurse practitioner yesterday, and have another call in today. They don't seem to have any more ideas. The stool samples came back negative for parasites and all his bloodwork, B"H, looks good. But clearly, there is something wrong.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Motzai Shabbos

I just put sitemeter back on here, after a few years of having it off. I discovered that I have an average of 25 visits per day, which is nice; I'm surprised that many people read this. I also discovered that on Saturday, I get ten readers. Which, I guess, says something about my readership.

So... where to begin?

Avtalyon had his birthday last week. That was fun. He got chocolate cake and ice cream, which he ate, of course, with his hands, and while I'm sure some of it made it into his mouth (he was singing the happy food song, so it must have) the rest wound up evenly distributed over his face, pajamas, and high chair. Also last week was Avtalyon's introduction to spaghetti and meatballs. Eating spaghetti and meatballs is fun, but nothing like as fun as seeing them eaten by a pair of one-year-olds (we had some very small guests that night too).

In other news, all the boys are now sleeping in the same room. I tried this a couple of weeks ago and it didn't work out very well, because when Barak woke up screaming (which doesn't happen every night, but often enough) I ended up with a lot of screaming, and Avtalyon got relocated back to the pack and play in my office pretty quickly. I have cribs in every bedroom right now; the regular crib in the kids' room and pack and plays in both our bedroom and my office. The walls are thin and the kids are loud, and Avtalyon is a light sleeper, so he frequently gets moved from one crib to the next, often in the middle of the night. Anyway, I just put him down in the kids' room for the first time, and it's still quiet there. The night is, of course, still young.

And as for the Iyyar medical saga... well, it continues. The GI doctor, as you may remember from our last thrilling episode, ordered a bunch of tests, including stool samples for parasites and some blood work. Early last week, I noticed Barak sticking his hands in his underwear and scratching his bottom. "Barak! Don't do that!" He withdrew his hands, guiltily. The next day we were at CVS for something and I saw him doing it again. "Barak!" This time he didn't stop. "It's so itchy."

Hang on. Did I blog about this already? I did, didn't I?

I need to sleep more...

Anyway, yes, so, Barak had pinworms, which meant dosing both him and Iyyar, which I did, and now Barak is no longer itchy Iyyar is doing way better, so much so that I reintroduced dairy gradually last week and he is now back to his usual diet and seems fine. He occasionally complains that his tushy hurts him, but not in a major way, and he's been going every day. So, that's good.

Thursday, I took him to the ENT, fully expecting to be told he needed his tonsils out. I was rather taken aback, however, to hear that the doctor first wanted to do a sleep study, because otherwise my insurance would not approve doing the surgery at the local children's hospital, and he wanted to do it there because they had a PICU, and Iyyar might need one, and they wanted to be cautious.


I do think Iyyar needs his tonsils out. I don't think he breathes easily, I don't think he sleeps well, and I am pretty sure his enormous tonsils are a cause of that. I also think that his tonsils are part of how prone he is to choke on food--I still feed him like I would feed an 18-month-old, with nothing hard and no chokeable pieces. I think the tonsils should come out. But, hello, NOT IF IT'S GOING TO LAND HIM IN PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE!!

I think what happened--and I told this to my pediatrician on the phone late on Friday--is that I started giving the ENT doctor the abbreviated saga of Iyyar's GI woes, and the doctor heard this and immediately thought that he was looking at some kind of medically complicated child, and decided to be really cautious. I am all for caution. I applaud caution, especially in people who are considering performing surgery on my child. But I thought the communication might have been a little lacking there.

I asked him to explain to me exactly why he was being so cautious--whether it was something he was seeing in Iyyar, or something I had said. He said it was what he'd heard from me. Fair enough. He also said that Iyyar's ears were packed with gunk--I can't see anything, but clearly he did--and that he had no motility in his eardrum, his ears were full of fluid and he couldn't hear (he also wanted an audiogram). I have no problem with an audiogram but I'm really sure Iyyar can hear--maybe just in the other ear, which he couldn't look at because of the gunk, but he doesn't have any hearing loss that's affecting his communication with me, at least. (I told this to the doctor and got the body language loud and clear in reply. "You don't believe me. That's okay. You see what you see in his ear, which is that it's full of gunk. I'm telling you what I see, which is that he communicates fine. Now you have more information.")

Barak could not hear at all, which is why we got the ear tubes. Iyyar hears fine. I don't have a problem with doing a sleep study, which is at worst an inconvenience--okay, a fairly major one, being that we have no car and a nursing baby--but we'll manage. I don't know why I came out of the appointment so mightily freaked--maybe it was that I felt I wasn't communicating, or that the doctor wasn't listening, or maybe I was just flipping out from having heard the phrase "pediatric ICU" uttered in conjunction with MY CHILD.

The next morning I called my regular pediatrician and left a message saying I wanted to talk to her. She called back right before Shabbos and I communicated my freaked-dom to her; I also said that I was worried because the ENT was making clinical decisions based on things I had said about Iyyar's health, and I didn't know what the heck was going on with him myself. I think it's pinworms, but am I really sure? No. She was reassuring; do the sleep study anyway, she said, because it can't hurt. Go to the followup, and take it from there. Your insurance will cover a second opinion, especially if it's for a surgery, because they'll be hoping they won't have to cover the surgery. So, that's the plan. And open enrolment is coming up soon at work--I'm going to look into switching to the PPO.

Anyway. Sleep study scheduled for Wednesday night. I'm supposed to make a followup appointment two weeks later, for an audiogram and another checkup with the ENT. Stay tuned, as always, to this exciting channel.

Friday, February 06, 2009

It worked last time

I've been thinking lately of two books I loved when I was little that I'd really like to find for my kids. One of them is A House for Barbapapa, which isn't in print anymore in English but is on Amazon in French (no problem, I can read it to them in English and the pictures are the best part anyway). The other one is harder.

Does anyone remember a picture book (okay, this is a good one) about a little girl who goes sailing on a boat all by herself, except that she brings her baby brother along? The illustrations are very soft watercolors, and very detailed of the inside of the boat, and I think there's a peach tree on the boat that she puts there so that she can feed her baby brother peaches (or something like that... sorry, it's been about 30 years!) I have a hazy recollection of the ship being called the Morning Something, and I definitely remember a wonderful illustration of her and her little brother in a bassinet and the inside of the ship, and my own fantasies of having such a ship myself.


In other news...

[If you're reading this while eating your breakfast, maybe it'd be a good idea click away now. Go read the news or something, and come back later.]


Yes! More pinworms! A couple days ago I started noticing Barak reaching inside his underwear to scratch his bottom. At bathtime, I saw a lot of red marks on his tush, and thought, hmm, that doesn't look like a rash but what is it? And then at night, he woke up wailing and crying--real tears and everything--saying that his tushy hurt him. I told him to go to the bathroom. He said he didn't need to. I told him I could put some cream on if he had a rash and maybe he should be careful to wipe himself very well when he went to the bathroom. Then I saw that he had his hands in his underwear again and was scratching like crazy. "Barak, does it hurt or does it just really feel bad?"

"It feels really really bad!"

"Is it itchy?"

"It's iiiiiiiiiiitchyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! It itches so so much!"

Thick, aren't I?

This time I bypassed all natural remedies recommended by the Internet and went directly to the thermonuclear approach. Both kids got dosed with mebenzadole on Thursday (Avtalyon's too little, so he gets lots of vaseline--he's not unhappy) and have had diarrhea ever since. Iyyar's diarrhea has little white things in it. Some of them are squirming.

I told you not to keep reading if you were eating, didn't I?

So... today's pre-Shabbos recreation will involve a lot of hot water and laundry. I'm really really hoping that the pinworms have actually been in Iyyar's system this whole time and are the cause of the GI woes. I'm less convinced right now that the dairy was the culprit; he was immediately better for a week, but the problems have been coming and going over the last month and he hasn't had dairy, except for the couple of times he's sneaked it, in almost 6 weeks.

In further news, Avtalyon, after a week or so of being generally under the weather, is back to his happy perky self. This is a very big improvement for him and also for the household at large; he was being pretty pitiful and we all felt sorry for him, especially Barak, who kept trying to get him to smile with endless rounds of peekaboo. Iyyar pooped on the potty a couple of days ago, and got ice cream, which was great; the timing could have been better, though, since his ice-cream-lust-fueled desire to use the potty came just when the pinworm-fueled-diarrhea-avalanche came. I have been scrubbing a lot of poop out of a lot of different pieces of flooring, carpet and furniture lately.

Okay. I'm done. You can go finish your breakfast now. That is, if you still want it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

This morning

did not start terribly well. Well, last night was good; Avtalyon slept in a regular crib all night, with his big brothers in the room, and everyone slept fine from when I moved Avtalyon in there at around 9 through till 6:45 this morning. I had to leave at 7:30 to take Iyyar to the doctor, and of course at 7:35 there was no cab. Many back and forth calls later (during each of which I reconfirmed my exact address) I got a call that "my cab had arrived"--ten blocks away. Gah! So we left half an hour late, for the appointment that it had taken a month to get, with me practically in tears thinking we'd miss it and Avtalyon hysterical because I kept coming in and out the front door with the car seat. (Oh, and Avtalyon has a fever. Forgot to mention that part.)

We did make it, in the end, with about a minute to spare. The appointment went well. We were there all morning, from 8:40 till around noon. Iyyar was down another half pound to 31. We checked in with the nurse, who took the back story, and then we spent a good half hour talking to the GI doctor, who listened, asked questions, examined him, and then told me what she thought the possibilities were: behavioral constipation (I really don't think that's it at this point), celiac, a thyroid problem, parasites, or something with a very long name that means a sensitivity to milk protein in the small intestine. She ordered a bunch of blood work and we also need to bring in stool samples for the parasites etc. Unfortunately, Iyyar has very small veins and the phlebotomist could only get enough blood to do the chem labs. We were told to come back, but I'm going to see if I can get the labs done at our local hospital and have them sent over. The place we went to today is half an hour away by cab, which means at least two hours of babysitting plus cabs etc.

We also saw a nutritionist, who thinks that the weight loss is mostly to do with a) taking dairy out of his diet and b) him not feeling good, partly because of the tummy issues and also partly because of his huge huge huge tonsils. (We're seeing the ENT next week, and I fully expect to be told that the tonsils have to go. Did I mention they're HUGE?) I told her exactly what Iyyar eats in a given day--it doesn't vary much--and she said I needed to be adding fat. More peanut butter, which he loves, or olive oil on his noodles. I've been worrying about getting vegetables into him, but she said I should be focusing on fats (which also help lubricate the digestive system, as it were.)

In general it was reassuring. The doctor told me point blank that she doesn't see signs of anything extremely concerning; Iyyar was happy and bouncy and playing the whole time we were there, ate his whole snack (strawberries, crackers, raisins and apple juice) with great gusto, and seemed to forgive her for the indignity of the rectal exam. She wants him back on Miralax, even though it did nothing at all that I could see, and also agreed that we should go back to daily warm baths and lots of A & D in the diaper in case the problem is fissures that are making pooping painful.

The nice part about going to a specialist at a children's hospital is that the whole place is so well set up for kids. The exam rooms are kid-friendly, there are tons of toys, everyone there deals well with kids. The hard part is seeing so many kids in such bad shape. There was a little girl in an examining room next to ours whose wheelchair was sitting nearby; she was lying on an examining table while the adults were talking a few feet away, and my instinct was, "careful, she'll roll right off!" Then I looked again and realized that she wasn't capable of rolling herself anywhere. I am not good at seeing such things and telling myself how much I have to be grateful for. I know exactly how much I have--but that doesn't make it hurt less to see people with much harder things to deal with.

Anyway. That's the update for today. No poop to report, but no poop-related misery either, which is something. As for me, my house is clean, my kids are abed, and it's time to write some speeches.