Monday, June 29, 2009


I made picked beets last week. I really love pickled beets. I always thought it was a Hungarian thing, but Avtalyon, who has never even been to Hungary, liked them too. He liked them so much that, when presented with a bowlful, he employed the two-fisted hand-over-hand eating technique in which one hand shoves beets into mouth while other hand grabs more beets from bowl, continuing with this until there are no more beets left, at which time the hand discovering a beetless bowl presents said bowl for refilling (before the other hand has even finished cramming the last few in the gaping beety maw).

He ate a LOT of beets this way. Afterwards, we had this:

And then, of course, the dreaded beet diaper. "Imma! Imma, look Imma! Avtalyon pooped PURPLE!"

Even more disorganized than usual

But better than nothing, right? Right?

1. Barak's latest Lego creation is a laserbeam airplane. It's a pretty impressive airplane with a flower piece on front. This is the thing that shoots the laser. He's done a lot of little Lego lately, mostly courtesy of his star chart Lego but this past week courtesy of some birthday money from Bubbe & Zayde. I got him a set of pirate Lego, soon to be discontinued. It was much bigger than the kind I usually give him for star charts, and I didn't want to up the ante with that, so I gave it to him as a late birthday present. He was, naturally, thrilled, and happily crept out of bed after the other two were asleep erev Shabbos to tackle it. He did it all by himself, by "looking so so carefully at the constructions."

2. Avtalyon is being HILARIOUS lately. He really seems to be feeling better and, par for his course of trying to be like his big brothers in all things, has started doing Lego. By this I mean that in the last couple of days he has figured out how to attach Lego. When he does this, he does one of two things; either he attaches it into a tall stack and brings it me or someone else available to take it apart for him (this is harder than putting it together?); or he puts it together into an amorphous blob and drives it around the floor, saying "Beep! Beep!"

3. Avtalyon also just started saying "meow" and "please!" which comes out sounding like "bee!" He still has zero patience for waiting for anything while in his high chair, but now sometimes inserts a few hopeful "bees!" into the frantic wailing.

4. Iyyar has really had some setbacks on the tummy front this week. As in, back to screaming and constipation. I called the GI doctor back this week and talked to the nurse clinician. "It's been eight months and he's still not OK. I'd like to bring him back in, and also, I think we should look more into the possibility that he might have celiac disease." He's showing so many of the signs that I wanted her to try a different test to be doubly sure--there are a few. We talked about his antibody levels, which were tested for in February. Except--surprise! They weren't! They didn't get enough blood! And nobody told us that the tests were canceled! In fact, we were told that if no one had contacted us, then everything was normal! Does this ring a bell with anyone else here?

We've been giving him Miralax this week, which has brought him from constipation to diarrhea. An improvement from the point of view of his comfort, but it still doesn't give any answers or any long-term solution. Also looming on the horizon: preschool. If he isn't toilet trained by the end of August, he can't go. I don't even want to think about that possibility. I'm bringing him back in for another blood draw Tuesday (fun for everyone!) and he's going back to the GI doctor at Children's in July.

5. Barak's latest invention on the fantasy animal front is the dragon cheetah tiger. I know that they are black and they have big teeth and they are scary, because he drew one for me. VERY big teeth. Don't meet one of those in a dark alley.

6. I told you this was going to be disorganized, right?

7. I am way way way behind on work. WAY behind. I've been distracted, and I've been tired, and I'm burned out on this year. And I want a break, but one is not forthcoming.

8. It is the time of the Annual Ant Invasion. Barak and Iyyar think this is great. I do not. I also don't like it because I don't want to teach the kids to smash bugs for fun. But I do a lot of bug-smashing these days. Fine line, etc.

9. A friend of mine from grad school came for a brief visit today. It was really, really nice, and my kids were as beautifully behaved as they've ever been in their lives. She was impressed. "They're so good!" I did tell her that they're not like this all the time, but I admit to the shepping of some nachas in that regard. They really were being awfully good.

10. Oh, I forgot this--it should have been attached to #1. Last Friday, when Barak was doing pirate Lego, we had dinner guests. We had made early Shabbos but even still, by the time we sat down to eat it was after 8. Barak sat with us for kiddush and motzi and then sneaked off to the kitchen (with my permission) to do his Lego. I let him stay up until 11 PM. Crazy, I know, but he was totally fine the next day. And he had a blast.

What this made me think of was the Make-A-Plate. You know those melamine plates that you made in nursery school, or that your kids made? I made mine in 1976, and it was a picture of my mother in a blue dress and high heels with curly hair. Barak's obviously criminally negligent preschool did no such project, so I ordered the kit online and we did them at home. Iyyar's is covered with scribbles. Avtalyon's is handprints--I stuck his hands on an inkpad and then on the paper templates you are supposed to use. Barak's plate is a drawing of a house erev Shabbos. It is dark outside (colored in blue) and the Imma is lighting candles on a table. There are brothers in bed, and one brother who is not in bed. This, he informed me, is the brother who is getting out of bed to play little Lego in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Deja vu all over again

I think Avtalyon's about to blow another eardrum. This is getting a little old, don't you think? First he ruptured two, and got 10 days of Amoxicillin. On day 7, I brought him in for a checkup, and he had one ear clear and one still cloudy; on day 13, he ruptured another ear. That got him 14 days of Cefprozil. We are now on Day 8 and he is giving every indication of being on the brink of yet another rupture. I called the doctor earlier asking for a referral to see an ENT; she said she'd request it but I should bring him in in the morning anyway, so they could switch his antibiotic. Not sure to what.

It's been a rough week. A lot has been going on, most of it, frankly, bad; the major thing has been a death in the community that has everyone pretty shaken up. Without getting into too many details, a mother a little older than me with kids a little older than mine got up out of bed one day and died, in front of her kids, for no clear reason, with very little indication beforehand that anything was wrong. She was not someone I was close to or had a lot in common with, but we have known the family for years, my husband worked closely with her husband for several of them, and she was a really, really good mother. Better than me, and too good to lose. That's terrible enough, obviously, and there are other aspects of it that have blown a lot of my own mother/child/no mother issues out of the water. I haven't been sleeping well or thinking about much else. Compartmentalizing has never been my strong suit.

In the absence of any ability to do anything helpful for the family, beyond paying shiva visits and getting on the list to make meals, I've been trying to work on other things; I invited a few Shabbos guests who really need invitations, and have been trying so, so hard to focus more on the kids and what they need from me. Which has been hard, because Barak and Iyyar are currently in a state of ongoing conflict--not constant, but much more frequent than has been the case historically--and Avtalyon, for whatever reason (ears, probably) has been really, really fussy. Plus I'm just very tired. The busiest time of the year at work is ending now, and while that is good it means that the pile of put-off tasks must be dealt with. The laundry never seems to end, and now that I'm in my fifth month (yes, I'm just sneaking that one in there) I can't just get by on five or six hours of sleep. This morning I was just too tired to think so I decided to lie down for fifteen minutes (at around 9:15). Need I even tell you what happened? The two-and-a-half-hour nap was awesome, but I have to make those hours up somewhere.

Oh, and we still need to figure out a way for my kids to see their grandparents this summer. We have a trip scheduled to see Grandma E in early August, but getting to see Bubbe & Zayde is a lot more complicated logistically; my MIL does not fly, their home is not somewhere we can stay with the kids (they'd be happy to have us, but it doesn't work practically), the one friend who lives nearby has a new baby of her own and almost certainly can't host us, and neither MHH nor I have flexible vacation schedules--if it doesn't happen between mid-July and mid-August, it isn't going to happen until next summer. The initial plan was to meet up with them in Boston, but that isn't working out for a number of reasons, even though it would have been by far the easiest and most enjoyable thing (IMHO, anyway). I feel awful putting a visit off indefinitely. The kids haven't seen their grandmother since before Avtalyon was born, and haven't seen their grandfather since we were in Israel. It's not like any of us lives on Mars. It's not like we all have a superabundance of family, either. Just not sure what to do about it.

Pause while I try to think of something cute or cheery to end this with...

Oh, the firetruck. I can tell you about the firetruck. That really was cool.

We had an absolutely awesome surprise visit to the fire station last Thursday. There is a single-engine company about five or six blocks from us, on the way to Barak's new kindergarten, where I had to drop off some registration forms last week. On the way there, we saw the firetruck parked on a corner, and saw firemen get out. This was from a few blocks down the street, as we were coming up toward the intersection of the main commercial stretch. Neat! we said. We'll get to watch firemen! A few minutes later, as we approached the corner, we saw them all get back into the truck. Oh well, show over--oh. No. Wait. What's that they're holding?

Ice cream cones. They had, apparently, stopped on the way back from a call for ice cream. I caught the look on Barak's face. "Barak, do you think that's fun? I bet that would be fun. Would eating ice cream cones in a firetruck be about the most fun anyone could have?" Barak, somewhat dreamily, agreed. Then we discussed further and upon careful reflection decided that the absolute most fun, the pinnacle of fun that one could have in this lifetime, would in fact be eating ice cream AND chocolate chip cookies in the back of a firetruck.

Got that? Good.

So we went on our way, passing the fire station, where we got to see the truck backing into the bay (remember, it is on the way to school--this is all along the same semi-major street). We dropped off our forms. We came back, on the other side of the street so as to get a better look through the doors at the firetruck. It was a warm day, and the door was still open. What the heck, I thought. I poked my nose inside and saw a fireman sitting by the door doing a crossword. Can't hurt to ask, can it?

"Excuse me? Would it be okay if my kids looked at the firetruck?" He got up. "Sure! Come on in."

We went in, Iyyar and Avtalyon in the double stroller and Barak holding on, all of them looking sort of... stoned. They all really like firetrucks, if this needs mentioning, and none of them was expecting this. Even Avtalyon, who can actually (sort of) say "firetruck" now, was awed by the big red machine. They stood and gazed, openmouthed. The firemen looked at them.

"Do they want to go inside?"

Um.... WHAT?!

Long story short, he let the bigger two play in and on the firetruck for at least 20 minutes. He even let them sit in front and pretend to drive. He answered their questions. He let them look around the bay. He asked me if I had a camera to take pictures with (I didn't, but I did have a phone and used that). He was SO NICE.

We are planning to make cookies to bring them this week, so that next time the firemen get ice cream, they can sit in the firetruck and eat cookies and ice cream and have the most fun anyone could possibly have. I think they deserve it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Avtalyon is asleep now, with his first dose of Cefprozil (twice a day for two weeks) inside him. Fortunately he loves this kind of medicine too, although as with the Amoxicillin he tries to grab the empty medicine dropper so he can chew on the bulb.

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been busy with work, the kids need and deserve my attention, and I'm still knitting more than I really should. And both Barak and Iyyar were sick last week--fevers, stomachaches, etc. So... yeah. Not much with the blogging.

I feel bad, though, not documenting this incredibly cute and funny phase in Avtalyon's rapidly-vanishing babyhood. He's sixteen months old, and just stopped nursing this week--a couple of days ago, in fact. He's still so much a baby in so many ways--he weighs 25 lb as of his last checkup, he's still got hardly any hair, and he just got in his seventh tooth (bottom left). And he's still really little and soft, and has a hilarious potbelly, and gives great kisses, and is just amazing to snuggle.

He's just enough of a baby that when he does non-baby things it still really startles me. Mostly, probably, because of the contrast between him and Iyyar and Barak. Today, I had to take Barak and Iyyar with me to the pediatrician, because of the short notice and all. Barak is still feeling under the weather and was not thrilled about the walk; Iyyar and Avtalyon were busily pestering each other in the double stroller, and even the really short wait we had in the exam room before the doctor came in was too long. Barak and Iyyar both wanted to climb up on the exam table, Iyyar was pushing the stroller around, Avtalyon wanted to bang the mouse on the keyboard, etc. It was already a little hairy in there when the doctor came in, and Avtalyon was in no mood to have his ear poked at. When the doctor was done looking at him, he (Avtalyon, not doctor) wiggled out of my arms and hustled across the room--to get my large, pink, quite heavy backpack, haul it back across the floor, and push the handle into my hand. Subtle, isn't he?

He's also been mimicking things the boys say, usually with no apparent idea of what those things mean. That's why we often here a phrase that sounds suspiciously like, "I needa go potty!" Other favorites are "I want it!" and "I don't want it!" ("Ah na wa na!") Today, though, when he went over to grab Iyyar's Batman car, it was pretty clear that he knew what he was saying: "Mine!"

Right now he seems to want nothing more than to be big, or at least, big enough to play with his brothers. Sometimes they let him in on their Lego and block activity--sometimes not. Sometimes he is forced to resort to grabbing a kippa and running away with it to get them to pay attention to him. (That one works really well.) He loves fruit, and cucumbers, and grated cheese, and noodles, but not his high chair--as soon as he's done eating, or has emptied a bowl, or has no further need of something on his tray, over the side it goes. "No" has proved unproductive, so I've resorted to removing his entire tray instantly upon the first infraction. We'll see how that one goes, but I'm not about to mop my floor after every meal and snack.

Oh, and he loves shoes. I think it's more the association with going out--often, after he's got his shoes on, he'll go straight to the back door and wait there. Sometimes he picks up his sun hat on the way, which is kind of funny because when the sun hat is on his head, outside, the sun hat immediately becomes the bane of his existence. It's kind of, "Okay, here's my sun hat, let's go!"--but that doesn't mean I'm going to wear it once I'm out there, you understand.

Pretty soon he'll be too big for me to want to post pictures of him on this blog, but here's one from yesterday, of him modeling the engineer's cap sent to us by Grandpa M a couple of years ago.

Pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

What, again?

Last night Avtalyon was fussy again, as in, waking up every few minutes crying, settling back down, then crying again. I gave him Tylenol at around midnight and then he slept through till 8 am--and woke up happy. With a ton of brown goo oozing out of one ear.

ANOTHER ruptured eardrum? Seriously? Three days after he finished a 10-day round of amoxicillin? I brought him in last Wednesday for a well baby visit cum ear recheck, and the pediatrician said one ear was clear, the other cloudy. And the nurse, when I called this afternoon, said that the antibiotics can kill the bacteria without taking care of the inflammation. Um, okay.

Back to the pediatrician this afternoon, with everyone in tow, even though Barak and Iyyar are just getting over being sick themselves and are not going to appreciate the shlep--especially not Barak, who's going to have to walk the mile each way. Oh, and it's looking pretty threatening out, too.

What I'm more worried about though is what effect multiple eardrum ruptures have on hearing. It can't be good. Wonder if he'll send us to the ENT and Avtalyon will end up with tubes...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

She lives!

I know, I know, it's been a while since I posted anything real. About a month, in fact. And I have no outstanding excuse to offer except for the insanity of my job (at the busiest time of the year), as well as the time-consuming nature of motherhood in general and laundry in particular.

Even though it's been a month I can't promise anything of great interest, and in fact have no idea what I'm about to write, but I'll just start a list and see what I come up with. That okay with you? Great.

1. I took Iyyar and Avtalyon for their three-year and fifteen-month checkups, respectively, this morning. Iyyar--are you ready for this--has grown THREE INCHES and gained three pounds in the less than three months since he had his tonsils etc. out. And I'm pretty sure most of that happened within the first month, because that was when he outgrow all the last of his 2T clothes. He's going up stairs fine now, his muscle weakness seems to have diminished greatly, and while he still doesn't look as coordinated as the other kids in his playgroup you wouldn't immediately pick him out as the klutz the way you would have a few months ago. So, yeah, it looks like all of that was indeed growth-spurt related. But holy cow. Three inches!

2. Last Wednesday Avtalyon was Fussy. Capital-F Fussy, which he hardly ever is. He had a ton of hard earwax in both of his ears that seemed to be uncomfortable, and it was clearly interfering with his hearing, so I'd made an appointment for what I knew was going to be a miserable and traumatic earwax excavation; in addition to the annoyance that seemed to be causing, he had one tooth barely broken through on the bottom and two more poised to strike on top. So, itchy ears and teething--plausible explanation for a baby who toddled miserably around Yehudis's basement playroom, periodically tumbling into my lap to nurse, wail, scrabble around for more nursing, and wail some more. Right? Anyway I thought so.

Until the next morning, when I went in to retrieve a suddenly happy Avtalyon and saw that he seemed to have thrown up a little in his crib. No, wait, that's not vomit. It's... poop? No. Dirt? No. Oh wait. What the... is that earwax?

It was. It was earwax that had erupted from his ears when, um, both his eardrums ruptured from the huge nasty infections that had been percolating away in both ears for however long. The force of the explosion was such that it did an excellent job of earwax removal--it was all in his crib. The amount of pus and goo leaking out of his ears, however, was more than moderately alarming, so off to the pediatrician we went. She gave him antibiotics--oral, not ear drops, because, as she said, "I don't think you could even get them in his ears, and if you did, they'd probably get washed right out by all that... gunk."

Oh, and by the way, Avtalyon LOVES his antibiotics. He grabs the dropper out of my hand and sucks them right down--and even goes to the fridge himself and, if I open it, pulls the bottle out and hands it to me. Forget the cheese, I want more of THAT! Good thing it's a seriously childproof bottle.

3. Barak had his "nursery graduation" this week. I think this is a completely ridiculous concept, but admit it was pretty cute to see him dressed up as a chet.

4. Ooh, here's a thrilling one. Sterilite just came out with a new size of 15-quart latching bin that fits perfectly into the spaces in the wall of cubbies I have in my office cum guestroom cum fiber cave. I confess to having bought 20 of them, and lovingly sorted a whole lot of yarn into them. I do like how it looks when it's all kind of loose and crammed in there--sort of a horn-of-plenty effect--but concede that this is both more organized and probably more moth-resistant.

5. I've been knitting a lot, at least, a lot more than I really have time for. I just finished Iyyar's alphabet sweater, or, as he calls it, his ABCDE sweater; it's a kid-sized (obviously) Lopi into the yoke of which I knitted the alphabet. And it worked out perfectly, too--I only had to make the J a little narrow. Ends are woven and it's blocking now, just in time for summer.

6. They had cherries in the grocery store yesterday! I bought a bag and ate them all myself.

7. I feel like I should be doing more cute-kid updating but... I can't think of much. Iyyar is being pretty trying, to be frank--a lot of testing, testing, 123. What will you do if I do this? How about this? How about this? He is totally uninterested in potty use, which has the potential to be a real problem if he doesn't get his act together soon--no clean dry underwear by the end of August, no preschool. I really don't want to push it with him--he is the kind of kid who does not respond well to that--but I'm going to have to get serious about it when school is out. I'm giving myself until July 1--he's out of school so in my clutches all day, and Abba is still at work, ergo not here to freak out at the sight of a three-year-old running around the house commando.

Complicating the potty issue is that the constipation seems to have made a return visit. I have no idea what's causing it this time, unless (best case scenario I can come up with) he inadvertently ate another kid's dairy snack at school. I kind of doubt that though. He associates "cow milk" so strongly with feeling terrible that every time he sees me cooking or preparing anything in the kitchen, his first question is whether "that's a cow milk one." If I say yes, he won't touch it, although if it's something particularly appealing he might argue with me for a while about whether it really is cow milk, or whether I am merely misinformed. I feel bad about giving the other two cheese in front of him, especially when he loves it so much, but I just can't take dairy out of everyone's diets--especially since Avtalyon won't drink milk and Barak won't touch meat. They need the calcium and the protein.

8. I got a new mouse, since the old one barely worked anymore. The new one lights up in a sequence of five very bright colors--I did not notice this when I picked it out. It is not cool at all--it is, in fact, spectacularly distracting. And you CAN'T TURN IT OFF.

9. Hmm. Nine. Do I have a nine? [Thinks.] No, I don't.

10. The usual division of household labor around here is that Abba deals with the laundry (the schlepping-to-basement part--I fold and put away), the garbage, and gives baths when he is available. I do pretty much everything else. Lately, Abba has taken to emptying the dishwasher in the morning, which is really really nice, but has been so busy with work (seriously, he is almost never here) that the laundry has been sliding by the wayside. To the point where none of us really had much in the way of socks or underwear, etc. It had sort of gotten to the point where he was so overwhelmed with the backlog that he just couldn't deal, so I said, fine, I'll do all the laundry and clear out the pile and then you'll take it from there. Which proposal was gratefully accepted.

Eight. I did EIGHT loads of laundry in the last day and a half. And we have huge Maytag extra-large-capacity washers and dryers, that easily take a very full, very large basket of laundry. It's all folded and put away now, and everyone's sock drawers are overflowething. It's a nice feeling.

Okay. That's enough blogging for tonight. Off to knit something, and then go to bed.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What's been keeping me busy that isn't this blog

(Click to enlarge picture and see stash in all its woolly glory.)