Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With the (C)Old(s)

It feels like forever since I’ve posted anything.

I do have excuses though. We’ve been sick. In a circular family oriented sort of way.

Grace gets sick. Then Matt gets sick. Then I get sick. Now Matt gets sick again.

THE CYCLE MUST STOP!! I can’t do this anymore.

We were talking about our cycle of snot and puke the other day and came to the realization that since the Bahamas (remember my head cold?) that we haven’t gone more than 2 or 3 days as a family without one of us being ill.

How will I be celebrating the New Year? With Lysol. The environment be damned, but I am high-tailing it up the store and buying every can of germ killing spray I can get. Sure, we will be high on antiseptic fumes and leave a carbon footprint the size of Washington state from my 2 hour cleaning bender, but I AM DONE.

Here’s to the New Year and getting the crud out of our systems.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Than Words

It’s amazing how quickly Gracie’s language skills are developing. Just a month ago I was worried that she hardly had any words. Now she seems to learn a new word, and its meaning, almost daily.

So far my favorite is “Aww Dun!” (Translation: “All Done!”)

It is punctuated, of course, with hands thrown into the air like she is about to begin the decent of a mammoth roller coaster. After all, what’s the point of announcing that you are finished with your dinner if there is no grand gesture to accompany it? This is always directly followed by a quick session of “All Done” and “More” where she pushes and pulls her highchair tray back and forth. A few more pieces of food are usually consumed too, thus proving that she was in fact NOT “All Done!”

In the number two spot is “Baawl.” (Translation: “Ball.”)

Why is such a simple word and object a ranked favorite? Because I’m lazy, that’s why. My mom has bought Grace the Ball-o-saurus Ball Pit with accompanying bag ‘o 100 balls. I wrapped the pit, but ran out of enough paper to wrap the bag ‘o balls. So they’ve been sitting on our dining room table in plain sight. I figure that she’s 1, she’s not going to even notice that they are there.

I was wrong.

The other day, in an attempt to occupy her, I asked Gracie to go get a ball. What does she do? Crawls straight over to the dining table, stands up and points at the bag ‘o balls. Oh. I guess she does notice the large see-through container of brightly covered toys, huh?

Number three? “Daawg and Wik.” (Translation: “Dog and Rick.” Which is one in the same.)

Every morning, after her cries have been answered and she’s rescued from her crib, the first thing out of her mouth is “Daawg.” She has come to adore Lil’ Rick. She spends a quite a bit of time crawling after him, pulling his fur, poking his face, trying to trick him into licking her and when not engaged in those activities calling “Wik. Daawg. Wik. Wik. Wik!!!” The dog in turn, spends the majority of his day trying to avoid her while still being near family. Plus, he doesn’t come when WE call him half the time, much less when Gracie is screaming his name in her 1 year old accent.

The fourth favorite is “Aww-el.” (Translation: “Angel.”)

Gracie has been mastering the art of Christmas ornament removal. Frankly, I am fine with it because at least I can put the ornaments back on the tree. Originally, she was plucking the needles of our White Pine.

On top of our tree is an angel. Directly across the room from it is another angel on a shelf. She has noticed both, and started pointed both of them out. I know, not ground breaking, but I am still impressed that she recognizes that while they are distinctly different objects, more different than the balls anyway, they are the same. Hurray! Taking those nasty fish oil pills while I was pregnant is paying off!!

Finally “Da Da” is a great one too. (Hopefully no translation is needed.)

It’s a favorite because she is finally starting to ONLY use it when addressing Matt. For awhile, it was her only word, so everything was Da Da. Now, she likes to lay on Matt’s chest and poke him with a jabbing index finger (very similarly to the dog) saying, “Da Da.” Matt then responds with “Gracie” to her. The game is great. It can last quite a long time. And doesn’t involve my participation in the slightest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Q of P

Now that our family has rejoined the living, (yeah that’s right, both Matt and I came down with Gracie’s flu Thursday night) there is so much to do. So much time to be made up for.

When I feel overwhelmed with things that need to be done though, I turn into a slacker college student.

In college, I was the Queen of Procrastination. I always got things done. I usually got good grades. I graduated with a solid B average, which is more than good enough to propel me in my current career. Oh, I was a slacker though.

When finals or major papers/projects rolled around, I took naps. Usually right up to a day or two before. Then I blow everything off to slap something together or bribe someone else into helping me/doing it for me.

That is one reason why Matt and I became such fast friends in college. He was smart enough to craft papers on subjects that he knew nothing about, with only a few books, frozen pizza and a case of beer. The case of beer was the bribe payment. Back in those days a case of Miller Light was gold.


The holidays are barreling towards me and I just want to take a nap.

I still have one more present to buy Matt, but I have no idea when I will find the time to do it in the next two days.

I have so much cleaning to do, but I have no idea how I will get it done before my brother arrives on Wednesday.

I have to go to the grocery store to finish buying everything I need for our Christmas meals, but I am too mentally tired to really think about what ingredients I need.

I just want to take a nap.

After Christmas, New Years will be here way too quickly along with another train of visitors.

That’s the thing about all this though.....

I welcome the New Year. I rejoice in the idea of family coming to visit. I am excited about the next barrage of parties and events.

But there is so much to do. I just want to take a nap.

I put these pressures on myself.

I am sane enough to realize that I have self-inflicted crazies. I am sane enough to realize that I cannot collect every loose dog hair in my house and that nobody expects Martha Stewart when they walk into our home. But I am crazy enough to inflict those standards on myself.

In the end though, I will fall back into my college ways and I will just take a nap or lay on the couch. I’ll shove all the dirt under the rug and buy pre-made frozen snacks. I know I will. That won’t stop me from obsessing about ways to not do that until the event has come and gone.

Maybe I should stock up on Miller Light. Naw, not anymore. A good Port might be my answer though.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I’ve always considered the flu to be a practical version of the butterfly effect. If you think about it, there are similarities.

Someone, WAY over THERE gets the bug from someone else even more WAY over THERE. A random dude doesn't wash their hands, the wind blows in a funny direction, a cricket chirps in a forest....

Then someone that is in my vicinity touches my door or sneezes or coughs or just breathes and there is the evil bug, just floating around.

So I walk through the cloud of ick and come into contact with the dreaded thing. Micro-particles just floating in seemingly harmless environments. And it sticks to me.

What do I then do? No amount of neurotic hand washing and sticking, burning sanitizer gel or even shots can save you if the F-L-U really wants to come in.

It came a knockin’.

Grace was sent home from daycare on Tuesday. I received two panicked phone calls in the span of 20 minutes. I guess you would be panicking too if you had to clean up the entire contents of a child’s stomach off the floor. Especially if it’s not your kid.

So we were banned. The rule is 3 runny poops or 2 yacks and your home for 24 hours.

I picked Gracie up mid-nap from daycare. She immediately fell asleep in the car. I woke her again to bring her inside the house when we got home and she immediately fell asleep in her bed again.

Hmmm. That’s not normal.

She took a conglomerate 4 hr nap. That is so not normal.

Two hours later she was ready for bed (an hour early) and preceded to sleep for 13 hours.

So, so, so not normal. Let’s call the Doc.

It’s confirmed. It’s the flu and only the flu, so your going to just have to wait it out. Umm, and as for your trip to Chicago Thursday morning, I wouldn’t plan on it. Not unless your all want to be miserable, infect everyone around you and pray that she doesn’t vomit or have explosive poop on the plane.

Good point Doc. Throw in the fact that my dad is immune depressed and Matt’s dad just got out of the hospital, let’s consider the visit cancelled.

Shortly after the doctor’s visit, we developed a one diaper an hour routine.

With another 13 hour bedtime, that was the making of quite the mess come morning. (1 diaper x 13 hours – actually changing the diaper in that 13 hours = EWW.) Throw in a little more yack just for good measure and that had been our last 3 days.

(I do have to admit though, I catagorized this as a milestone. Gracie's first flu. To celebrate lets all go wash our hands.)

How is your week going? Watch out for butterflies this time of year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Do Believe

My brother Jerry, the firefighter / paramedic, called me yesterday with an announcement. He saw a ghost.

Jerry said he was covering for another station, so he and his partner went go hang out while the other squad was gone. His partner wanted to stay in the ambulance to sleep, Jerry went in the building.

Most of the lights were off except for the truck bay and the ambient light in the kitchen where he was trolling for snacks. He said when he turned around there was a little girl, about 7 years old, standing in front of a big gumball machine in the kitchen. He didn’t think much of it because often times people do bring their kids to work and have them spend the night. He didn’t say anything to her and the girl turned and walked silently back into the bay moments later.

When the other squad returned a hour later, he informed them that someone’s kid had been up.

Nobody had any kids here, they said, the station is empty.

No really, Jerry responded, a little blonde girl wearing a dress. She was looking for candy. I figured it wasn’t my kid, and didn’t particularly care what she was eating at 1am, so I didn’t say anything.

That’s when they cracked smiles. Oh, you saw her! That’s our ghost.

Not funny, Jerry said. She was real. I saw her.

There is nobody here, they said. Go look in the bunks. Nobody is there.

Jerry went and looked. Nobody was there.

They told him they had responded to a call in the summer of 2007. The girl died on the scene and has been with the station since then.

I believe in ghosts. I believe in angles. I believe in good and evil. I believe. That is why I don’t watch scary movies. I believe.

Yesterday, as I sped through the woods on the way home from L’s birthday party, the dark, narrow, twisted road all of a sudden got REALLY dark.

Hmmm, I thought, maybe I should turn on my brights.

Just as I did I saw a large deer running down the steep embankment that counts as the roads edge.

The super-bright flash of my headlights startled the deer and stopped it dead in its tracks. I have no idea what would have happened to us if it hadn’t. There is no wiggle room on that road. There is no edge. There is no straight line. There is nowhere to go.

There was nowhere to go.

I drove the rest of the way home really, really slowly.

And thanked my guardian angels. I have two of them you know.

I do believe.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fine Arts

Gracie has developed another new skill. One that is very practical in my world.

The love on sauces and the ability to dip.

I made chicken the other day and overcooked it. Yeah, that happens every once in a while. So the savior of all dry chicken? BBQ sauce of course!

Gracie was fascinated. She kept pointing at the bottle and watching me dip my chicken. Hmmm... why not let her try some too.

At first, she just looked at it, so it dipped my finger and gave her a taste. Mmmmm. She then in turn dipped her finger, made one perfect index print on her cheek and then stuck it in her mouth. Mmmmm.

Then she screwed her face up and let out a shriek. OK, BBQ sauce (even though it was mild)probably wasn't the best choice to give to a 1 year old. She was thrilled with the experience though.

Next, she picked up a piece of chicken, and ever so delicately dipped the tip into the sauce. It looked like she was a painter about to put the first stoke onto her masterpiece. Mmmmm. And a shriek.

Again, she dipped the chicken into the BBQ sauce and put it into her mouth. Mmmmm. And a shriek. So I wiped away to sauce, which caused another round of shrieking, this time for a much less valid reason.

At dinner last night though I gave her some deconstructed chili: plain ground beef, kidney beans and a little glob of tomato sauce on her place to dip in. Mmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caught and Now Released

Well, it was a heralding 7 days.

It's been 7 days since we got phone calls saying PaPa was acting weird.

It's been 7 days since we got reports back from the neighbors saying he looked a little grey.

It's been 7 days since Matt called 911.

It's been 7 days since PaPa was coughing up blood in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and then immediately intubated and put into a drug induced coma.

It's been 6 days since we were told to expect him to be in the hospital for at least 2 weeks.

It's been 5 days since the doctors said he had a 60% chance of survival.

It's been 3 days since they removed all tubing and Matt found him sitting up in a chair and eating eggs and asking for pizza.

It's been 2 days since PaPa insisted that Matt bring his wallet to the hospital so he could do his Christmas shopping.

And today? Today he was set free. A mere 7 days.

This is a mysterious and wonderful world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doctor’s Orders

When we took Gracie to her 12 month doctor’s appointment, the pediatrician suggested that we buy a kiddie shopping cart to help encourage her to walk.

It’s amazing how quickly she will learn to balance on her own with one, she told us, and I find that girls especially like shopping carts. She’ll spend all day putting stuff in and taking it back out.

Sure thing Doc, we said. We’ll get on right away!

I did all sorts of research to measure their sturdiness, push-ability, fun colors, until I found the perfect cart. Then it went out of stock. Well, well just wait a little longer.

Well, Gracie turns 14 months on Friday, and guess what? Yeah, that’s right. No cart.

Until yesterday.

In an effort to be thrifty, I went to Babies R Us to buy baby wash and some miscellaneous bath toys with a gift card we received as a birthday gift for her. Stay on task, I kept telling myself. Stay on task. You don’t NEED anything else in this place.

Then I saw the checkout line. It looked a mile long and ended inches away from the modest toy section.

Well, maybe I’ll go look at the 1 year old section really quick. The line is super long anyway, I’ll might as well wait for it to go down a little.

So I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the toy section.

And there it was. No, not THE cart, but A cart and it was cheap. Cheap enough to be covered by the gift card anyway.

Within minutes of getting home yesterday it was snapped together and on the floor. Gracie went straight for it. For the first time ever, well since she’s been mobile, I was able to make dinner without someone clutching my pant leg and demanded to be picked up to see what I was doing.

Faux bottles of ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper and syrup?!? were clinked together with joy. Laps were made around our kitchen island in a half sprint. Falls were taken, carts were toppled, but the sheer joy of it made her jump right back up and start over again.

I can honestly say this was the best $22 I’ve spent in a long time. Guess I should recommit to following doctor’s orders when given, huh?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Things went downhill yesterday, just like the roll of stones or the flow of water. Except our version of water was slightly digested and smelled like feta cheese.

I 6:40 pm last night I set about our nighttime routine.

- 8 oz bottle √
- tomorrows clothes √
- jammies √
- bath water warming up √

Then my mom called. Grace wasn’t actually in the bath yet, so we ran to see who was calling. Sorry Grams. Not answering.

Gracie gets in the bath and starts that play routine.

Phone rings again. What the ????. Not answering. It is now 6:50. People know better.

We get out of the bath, get dressed and start the bottle. Lights are off. Sleep Sheep rain is pattering. Humidifier is blowing.

7:00 phone rings again. Son of a !!!!!. Gracie sucks down the last drop of her bottle and starts looking around.

We go downstairs to make another bottle. 6oz should be more than enough. And the message light is blinking on the phone.

Back upstairs we settle back in and Gracie starts working on bottle #2. At 7:10 the phone rings again. ####. Grace looks around for a second but is getting sleepy.

Two seconds later my cell phone starts to ring. The dog barks. Gracie sits up in my lap. #### #### ####!

She settles back down quickly, entire bottle gone, and I rock her to sleep.

I am amazed that she drank a new record amount of 14 oz in one sitting and am thinking about how I have to call Matt to announce this big news, once I yell at all the people who have been calling.

We get up and as I stand Gracie opens her eyes and smiles at me.

Then she gives me the look. Uh Oh.


Yack. All over my neck, shirt, pants. We start to move towards the bathroom.


Yack. All over the hall carpet. We take the final steps into the bathroom.


Yack. All over the mirror and sink.

I sit her on the counter with her feet in the sink.


Yack. All over her footie pajamas.

I strip off all our clothes and wipe down my shaking baby. I curse and kick at Lil’ Rick, who is in the process of eating the carpet yack.

Once in new jammies, Gracie fell asleep quickly. I on the other hand, had the joys of parenting to attend to.

And a lot of phone calls to return.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Single Parenting

Matt flew to Green Bay Saturday morning so first news from the Midwest:

1) Matt is charmed. We bought a 1st class ticket for the flight because it was only $15 more than a regular old chump ticket, and hey, if your going to pay that much money you might as well get some snacks. Well, Matt got a whole lot more than that.

Being the chatty, superstar, sports aficionado that he is, Matt had the good fortune of being seated next to a referee flying out to officiate the Green Bay v Houston game. Over the course of a few hours and a few drinks, they apparently become best friends and he’s offered network seats to the game. Which he of course has to turn down. So business cards are exchanged and now Matt has an in for free awesome tickets to games he wants to go to. PLUS he was served MIXED drinks BEFORE the plane even left the runway.

2) While again, not related to PaPa’s health, his brother Rob, bought a Lotto Scratcher ticket on a whim Friday. Won $10,000. No big deal.

3) PaPa is making improvements. As of this morning, they plan to try and take him off the ventilator. The latest chest X-Rays show the same amount of infection in his lungs, but the respiratory sounds are getting much clearer. The same X-Rays are also indicating that there may be some heart issues, but nothing that they are concerned about right now. The bad news is the doctors are saying that he will be lucky if he’s out in two weeks…. So if you do the math, he might be spending Christmas in the hospital.

On the upside, Matt & Jeanine raided PaPa’s house and cleared out the offending cigars. They were actually able to collect all unopened packages of Swisher’s and return them at the local grocery store. You’ve got to love small towns at times.

Given everything, Gracie and I had a fairly good weekend. Well, except for a few highlights:

1) Gracie is always on the move. I am getting to the point where if I know the baby gate is up on the stairs I just let her run loose and play. We are pretty much baby-proofed. Unless it gets quiet. If more than a minute goes by without noise I know she is into something she’s not supposed to be in.

Case in point, she had stood up and grabbed a glass ornament that I thought was out of reach on the tree. While the glass was still blessedly in tact, she was scraping the glitter swirls off the ornament with her teeth. Although I will admit, the glitter all over her face/mouth/tongue was pretty funny.

2) Saturday night my body decided to kick me one more time. Thankfully, my version of the flu only lasted a few hours, and they were nighttime hours.

I will always remember when I was checked into the hospital to be induced into labor with Grace, my OB asked me what I had eaten for dinner. “Oh I was good. I kept it light. I just had a salad for dinner!”

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, probably not the best choice. If you have a second kid remember this – Only eat things that you won’t mind seeing come back up. Oatmeal is my favorite. Let’s just hope you keep it all down through your labor.”

I always thought that was a crazy thing to say. As I was revisiting my healthy salad on Saturday night / Sunday morning those words kept echoing in my head.

3) Sunday morning we went to the mall to Christmas shop. The 20 minute nap she took on the way home completely destroyed her sleep schedule for that afternoon. Normally she sleeps from 11:30 – 2:00. Yesterday, it was 1:15 to 1:45. I apparently added insult to the injury of making her nap by having Tim & Jen over to watch the Bears game when she woke up. This lead to very cranky pants for the following 45 minutes.

Given everything though, I think my first weekend of single parenting went smoothly. At least there was no blood to accompany either of our tears.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Waiting

December is such a full month.

It is feeling so hectic and we are only on day 5 of 31. That makes me crazy.

This December is so full of the unknown too. That is making me insane. I am a control freak.

Matt’s dad (PaPa) is sick. Really sick. In the ICU on a ventilator kind of sick. Currenlty critical but stable kind of sick. And of course, there is nothing we can do.

It is a case of flu, turned pneumonia and then (according to the Doc's) ignored for quite awhile. The illness had completely encompassed his left lung and was starting to work on the right. Yeah, pneumonia is easily curable, but the resulting side effects aren’t always so easy.

Again though, there is nothing we can do but trust the doctors and let the medicine do its job.

And wait. And worry. And visit. And worry and wait some more.

The modern convenience of the internet and Dr. Google is exceptionally helpful … until it starts getting into the worst case scenarios of illness. Then it sucks.

Matt is flying out to Green Bay tomorrow to camp out at the hospital for a few days. Then we are both on our own to worry. It will be the worry of the disease and the worry of what is happening 800 miles away.

Is Matt eating?
Is Gracie sleeping well?
Is Matt sleeping at all?
Is Shan overwhelmed on her own?
How long will Matt be in Wisconsin?
How much money is Shan spending at the mall? :)

In 2004 my dad had a double organ transplant. I was back in Chicago for 2 months. While the situations aren’t quite the same, I know what Matt and his family is going through with this. It is scary.

It’s a lot of doctor’s telling you they are hopeful, but let’s wait and see. Just give the medicine some time to work.

You however, are sitting there in a tiny little anti-septic smelling room, listening to the pump of the ventilator and the beep of the heart monitors, waiting for the next doctor to come into your cube, watching nurses scurry around and minutes tick down on the clock.

I must relearn patience with this though. Squash the anxieties. Find the calm.

After all, PaPa is the patriarch of a very stubborn family.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I finally finished my notes from our vacation. I had ... ahem ... lost my notebook for awhile. In my 'I don't feel so sick anymore' cleaning frenzy I found it buried in a pile of Food & Wine magazines.

So scroll down to the beginning of November and read away!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Running of the Reindeer

Well, my 1st 5K has come and gone. It was.... interesting. It was both better and worse than I ever imagined.

Better: I actually ran. The most I have ever run in my life. Granted it was downhill, but that was by Matt's instruction. "If you are tired, which you will be, run all the downhill, try on the flats and walk the uphill." Well, there was a lot more downhill than uphill. So I did OK.

Worse: My knees still hurt from running so much.

Better: We got a lot of random support from the reindeer antlers that Jen bought us to wear. Unexpected encouragement was great!

Worse: Because of all the extra attention, our picture was taken a million times. Who would have thought that I needed to be worried about what I looked like. Uncombed hair. Unflattering clothing. A jacket that adds about 30lbs to my midsection. Wonderful.

Better: We ran the 3.1 miles in 46 minutes and 22 seconds. No, 15 minute miles aren't the greatest time in the world, but I did it. I didn't quit.

Worse: I wanted to quit. About 3/4 of the way up the giant hill. My feet felt like cement blocks. I told Jen I felt like Frankenstein and that I was glad I didn't have my cell phone because I might call him to come get me. She in turn cheered me on, motivated me to keep moving and to jog again shortly after. For that I will love you forever Jen!

Better: I was a realist and signed up for the race as a walker. They did not list the walker times on the finisher list. However, the last runner came in at 45:15. In my mind this means that we were one of the first 'walkers' to come in. Hurray! We're number .... 50-ish??

The big question, will I do this again? I really don't know. I want to keep doing something, and while - NO JEN - I don't want to do a 5K with you every month, this does seem like a good way to stay active.

So there we are. To wog or not to wog.