Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Decisions, Decisions...

Dear Hubby is in Tampa, FL on business for the second time in three weeks. Each time, he's stayed Mon. thru Thurs. They offered him a promotion last week, which I expected they would. Professionally, it's good opportunity. Dear Hubby's department is highly specialized so there's not a lot of movement, so opportunities like this one do not come along often.

Still, we made a lot of sacrifices (for all the right reasons, in my opinion) when we decided to return to Louisiana in 1999. Are those reasons still valid today in 2007? That's the big question. The real estate market is more favorable in Florida right now (in terms of what a buyer can expect), and there's no state income tax. However, we'd be moving 10+ hours away from the very family that we moved to be nearer to in 1999.

Son #1, my ADHD, seizure prone, speech impaired, highly eccentric child is thriving here in La. right now. Doing well in school, well in Boy Scouts. Do I really want to rock the boat? But he's also highly-adaptive, so perhaps this would be a non-issue.

It's nice to have someone other than Mom and Dad cheer Son #2 on at the baseball park. It's nice for Son #3 (age 5) to have a 'date night' with his Aunt Mimi when he needs a change of scenery. I really didn't want to give all that up, although I want to be supportive of Dear Hubby's goals. Ultimately, he decided that there are things he wants to accomplish in his personal life that that he wouldn't be able to do if he accepted the promotion.

Keep us in our thoughts and prayers. Specifically that Dear Hubby can look forward (for every door closed, another one opens).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Best of Elle*Bee: Happy Thanksgiving

I'm repeating my post from last year because not much has changed. Here's what I wrote about Thanksgiving traditions:

Since moving back to the state in which Dear Hubby and I were born and raised, and where his family still resides, we’ve settled into our regular Thanksgiving tradition. It’s generally accepted that we will all gather at my father-in-law’s house. We always did with the exception of two years: his Sister #2 hosted one year, his Sister #4 hosted another year. Her house is largest of all the family’s but hers has an older oven and smaller than ours.

Still the drill is the same: Father-in-law will cook a turkey AND a ham. (Dear Hubby’s Brother #2 is allergic to poultry.) He also makes a casserole of some kind and a meat dressing. I never understood the concept of meat dressing, but whatever…

My mother would always make herbed bread dressing (aka embellished Stovetop Stuffing). This is my contribution to the festivities. I have also branched out into cornbread dressing with cranberries and walnuts because of my brother-in-law’s poultry allergy (my regular Stovetop Stuffing contains chicken stock). I don’t eat it though – not a fan of cornbread. Update 2007: I'm not in the mood to make cornbread stuffing so in addition to the aforementioned Stovetop and the below-mentioned green bean casserole, I'll make roasted, seasoned brussel sprouts. An acquired taste, I know....

I also make the traditional string bean casserole, complete with the Durkee’s fried onions on top. And I’ll buy an apple pie. I remember early on when Dear Hubby and were dating, I was initially mortified by his family’s Thanksgiving menu. Meat dressing? Pumpkin and mincemeat pies, but NO fruit pies? No black olives? (Okay, so that was a stretch. My mother used to set out a little dish of raw radishes and pitted black olives to snack on while the turkey was roasting, so I’ve come to associate black olives with Thanksgiving.)

My own personal tradition – after dishes have been loaded in the dishwasher and the football game’s on TV – I’ll write my Christmas cards. (For the record, I don't actually mail the cards until around Dec. 10th.)

This year, 2007, someone else is bringing a fruit pie. I have my olives, and my Christmas cards, so I'm all set!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * Fastforward to November 21, 2007 * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Again, we have so much to be thankful for this year. Continued health for our family. My losing 20 pounds via WeightWatchers and not having gained it back (ask me again when Thanksgiving is over!). An awesome family trip to Disney. An uneventful hurricane season, which formally ends on December 1, so perhaps I'm counting that blessing a little prematurely (but I don't think so). Good friends, great family. Well behaved (most of the time) kids who still seem to accept and practice our family values. It's been good.

Here's wishing all of you a very Happy, Safe Thanksgiving, and even more to be thankful for in 2008!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Failure to Thrive

(Background info: click here and here for more info about Son #1's condition....)

Most of us moms are at least vaguely familiar with the term: failure to thrive. Usually it brings to mind infants who are not growing as expected. I guess, technically, that would be Son #1. He was born in the 50th percentile for height and weight, but quickly dropped to the 10th percentile and then to the negative 10th percentile, which means that although he was still following the curve for "normal" development, he was not gaining weight/length at the rate of a "normal" baby.

Still. Failure to Thrive. Although it's been in the back of my brain, I've never seen them in print on a medical chart until today. My "baby", for the record, is 12 years 5 months old. I'll admit that it's distressing to learn that your child at any age isn't growing as expected. However, at this point (pre-teen years) his life is not in danger. I should point that out.

Son #1 was referred to an endocrinologist for testing in April. Blood work was okay (human growth hormone was at the low end of normal). Bone x-ray was a bit disturbing. Apparently the bigger the gap between "bone age" (indicated on the xray) and chronological age, the better. Son #1's gap wasn't much. :-(

Today's visit was slightly encouraging. Son #1 grew 3/4 an inch (more than he's grown in the past two years). I knew it would be good news, because I noticed that his size 8 Slim school pants were *finally* getting too short. (Did I mention that he's 12.5?).

The doctor wants to try an appetite stimulant. Periactin is the most popular. It's from the same family as Benedryl, though, and can make kids drowsy (altho' that would be a welcome change from Son #1 as long as the drowsiness didn't occur in school), and it can make them fidgety (Son #1 is on ADHD meds to make him less fidgety. Let's not cancel that out.)

Instead the doctor recommends a medicine called Megace which is used to stimulate appetite and prevent muscle loss in AIDS patients and cancer patients. The biggest risk to Son #1 is that it may delay puberty, which the endrocrinologist said may not be an altogether bad thing. The greater the amount of growth between now and the post-puberty growth spurt at which most boys peak, the better. The medicine is expensive - about $550 retail (my insurance copay is $100) but we figure it's worth a try. If we can encourage Son #1's appetite now and perhaps avoid the human growth hormone injections (to the tune of tens of thousands per year) in the future, it would be less invasive in the long run.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can Richard Simmons Travel Incognito?

You know who he is, right? "Sweating to the Oldies?" "Deal a Meal?" Severely hyperactive, middle aged, extremely jovial fellow. (Seriously, Richard, I've never considered taking an illicit or narcotic drug in my life, but whatever you're on, I'll consider...)

I remember Richard Simmons from his appearance on General Hospital in 1979. Of course he was overshadowed by the whole Luke & Laura storyline. Still, he'll pop up on TV from time to time. I saw him not long ago on a rerun of one of my favorite shows, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (hosted by Drew Carey, starring Wayne Brady, Colin Mokrey, and Ryan Stiles).

One thing about Richard. He never changes. Wild hair. Exuberant energy (is exuberant a word? You know what I mean). Baggy tanktop. Short shorts (look away!!!!). Not unusual to find a sequin or two. (Richard, if you're reading: feel free to borrow any of this for you epitaph.)

I have to give the man props. He'll be 60 next year (yes, sixty!) and his energy puts me - and my ADHD son - to shame. Anyway, there is a point to this...

Dear Hubby was flying from Tampa to New Orleans, on Thursday afternoon and who does he encounter in the security check-in line. Yep. Richard Simmons. Not larger than life. I've heard the camera adds ten pounds and Dear Hubby said Richard looks trimmer in person than he does on TV (must be the baggy tank).

This day, Richard was wearing spandex shorts and a white t-shirt. He was his usual spunky self going through security. Dear Hubby was surprised that Richard Simmons wasn't flagged as a security risk. Once on the plane, Mr. Simmons made his services available to the airline service staff (stewards and stewardesses). He handed out peanuts to the passengers and went around and just was - well, being Richard.

Which brings me to this. If Richard Simmons is ever feeling tired, or cranky, can he just travel incognito? I don't think so. He is Richard. He is expected to be ON all the time. If Richard is feeling under the weather, how does he hide from the public. The answer: He doesn't. He is who he is. He's supposed to be perky and upbeat all the time. What pressure! The man has to be ON all the time. He is who he is. Love him or hate him, he is a character. He can make people laugh. Regardless of his lifestyle choices, he has a gift. One that he's willing to share with people regardless wherever he is.

I raise my glass to the "always on" Richard Simmons.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Interim reports came home yesterday. You know, those midway through the grading period reports that let you know how your child is doing so far.

Can someone please explain to me how a 12 year old, who cannot spell at all yet reads at a 12th grade level, is managing an A in spelling and a D in reading?!!!! I'm scratching my head. Son #1 generally tries very hard. He'll get a lot of excellent grades peppered with the occasional not-so-great grade, but it usually balances out beautifully. This D, however, stems from one low test score and two missed assignments (which is out of character for him).

On his last report card, he had 5 As and 2 Bs. On this interim, he has 6 As and 1 D (which he'd better pull up or he'll be having a very Blue Christmas!). It's hard to rejoice over a half-dozen As when there's that lone D staring me in the face. But should it be hard? Six As are pretty impressive. And, as it stands now, if he ended up with these grade on this report card, he'd still end up with a 3.57 average and therefore make honor roll. With a D. Mind boggling.

Needless to say, there's a conference in our future. I called today to request an appointment, but I also want the resource teacher who's responsible for my son's IEP (individualized education plan) to attend in case we need to make modifications.

Not be outdone by his big brother, Son #2 also brings home a disappointing interim. One A, 4 Bs and 1 C. This is down from his last report card grades of 4 As and 2 Bs. Sigh.... While he didn't get the lowest grade in our family, he dropped in every class but one. That's perhaps more distressing that Son #1 who went up in one class and way down in another.

Son #2 is a trickier nut to crack. He's very smart, and in general, things come very easily for him - although that appears to be ending. He just likes to rush through his work, not read the directions completely. He has a completely different work ethic. Take his weekly geography assignment, for example. The teacher hands it out on Wednesday and the kids have a week to do the worksheet, using their text books. An easy A, right? Practically a gift from the teacher. How do you mess that up? By getting Bs and Cs on the worksheet? Why, I asked? Because he couldn't find all the answers. They're not all in the book, he says - but I'm skeptical.

Let's say he's right, though. He has an entire week to find the answers. And we now have highspeed internet. Heck, a week is enough time to go to the local library and check out a couple of books. But no. He finds the answers he can, guesses at the rest and turns it in the day after receiving the assignment (basically he turns it in 6 days early). I'm putting an end to that now.

If it were an issue of his not being organized, we can take steps to improve that. If he was struggling with the content, we could work on that. But how do you "fix" someone's work ethic? (Really, I'm open to suggestions.)

And for the record, I'm not completely opposed to Cs or even Ds. I'm just opposed to them for these kids. It's one thing if a child is struggling with a subject. Heck, I was that kid (math). Sometimes Cs and even Ds are reason to celebrate (or at least breathe a sigh of relief). But neither of my sons are struggling to grasp the material being taught.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* UPDATE ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As I sat looking at the dates of Son #1's missed assignments, it occurred to me that they may have been handed out on an afternoon when Son #1 wasn't feeling well and spent 20 minutes in the nurse's office before returning to class. The teacher believes that was indeed the day, so she will allow Son #1 to make up both missed assignments and deduct 10 points, which I thought was generous. He should have been more proactive in asking, "what'd I miss?" She didn't sent the assignments home though on Friday so he'll get to work on them after the Thanksgiving break.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not For the Faint of Heart

If you're the squeamish sort - especially about dental stuff - hit the "back" button NOW!

Still with me? Okay. Sunday morning in church, Son #3 (age 5 1/2) whispers to me, "Mommy, I have boo boo on my lip." He was pointed to his gum, however. I gently pull is lower lip to take a look. At the very bottom - where the lip meets the gum - was a hole. Yes, a hole.

But not just any hole. This one had - are you ready for this? - part of a tooth root (yes, ROOT) protruding. I almost fainted on the spot. Broken bones, stitches, blood? I can handle it. Tooth-related stuff? Nuh uh.

Son #3 has this pesky baby tooth that's been slightly loose for almost a year now. It's the bottom front, on the left. The permanent tooth is growing in right behind it. At his last check up in May, our dentist, Dr. C said if the tooth doesn't fall out by this upcoming visit - scheduled for Nov. 29, he would probably pull it.

I left a message on the answering machine at my dentist. They open at 9:00 a.m. on Monday so of course I was on the phone calling them again at 9:02. I know, I know. Give the receptionist a chance, sheesh. But hello? Hole? Tooth root? Come right in, she said. So we go. Son #3 meanwhile is handling it fine. It's tender, but not too bothersome to him. (Plenty bothersome to me.)

The dentist and the hygienist take a look and start saying stuff like, "Wow, would you look at that?" "Oh my, that really is a root." and my favorite: "I've never seen that before." Not what a mom wants to hear.

Dr. C used a cotton swap to push on the root to confirm that, thankfully, it's the root of the loose baby tooth and not the permanent tooth. Apparently since the permanent tooth grew in behind, and not beneath, the root of the baby tooth never dissolved as they usually do.

Dr. C is a family dentist but doesn't specialize specifically in pediatrics, nor is his office equipped to do sutures so he referred me to another dentist, Dr. Jill. Dr. C was concerned that if he pulled the baby tooth and the gum split, he wouldn't be able to stitch the gum.

Luckily, Dr. Jill's office was able to fit us in. She was able to extract the tooth without splitting the gum. Son #3 was thrilled that the tooth fairy visited him last night. As for me, I'm thrilled that the 4 1/2 hour ordeal is over.

Are you ready for a picture? It's not a great shot, but to the left of the tape measure is Son #3's baby tooth. It looks like an icicle. See the point of the root? OUCH! And it measure about 1/2 an inch. For comparison, on the right of the tape measure is Son #2's same baby tooth.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Oh the Irony...

So now that I have a faster internet connection, and can blog faster - there is nothing going on this week. Go figure.

Seriously, I don't mind quiet and uneventful, but it does make for a boring blog post.

So I leave you with this silly/gross item that was sent to me via email:

This one is for everyone who a) has kids, b) had kids, c) was a kid, d) knows a kid, e) is going to have kids.

I was packing for my business trip and my three year old daughter was having a wonderful time playing on the bed. At one point she said, "Daddy, look at this" and stuck out two of her fingers. Trying to keep her entertained, I reached out and stuck her tiny fingers in my mouth and said, "Daddy's gonna eat your fingers," pretending to eat them.

I went back to packing, looked up again and my daughter was standing on the bed staring at her fingers with a devastated look on her face. I said, "What's wrong, honey?"

She replied, "What happened to my booger?"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Air Show

Last weekend, we attended that Air Show at the Belle Chasse Naval Station in Southeast Louisiana. It was an annual event, but because of increased costs associated with the war, funding has been decreased so this was the last regular air show. They plan to still hold one every 2 or so years.

The top photo is of the F18, the F22 (Raptor - a very impressive craft), and I forget the other.

Below is a photo of My Three Sons in front of a plane. See Son #3 hugging Son #2? That never happens so I'm glad I caught it on camera.

Below is Son #3 sitting in an airplane. Can you see that he's wearing an Air Force hat?

The boys in a WWII Jeep.

Jeep also sponsored a rock climbing wall, which the older two boys enjoyed. Son #2 didn't make it all the way to the top - the atomic wedgie from the safety harness did him in. However, not only did Son #1 reach the top, he did it on the toughest section (smaller hand- and foot-holds) and did it wearing Crocs no less!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Zipping Along on the Web

We've finally come into the 20th Century (notice I didn't say 21st?). This week, we finally ditched the dialup internet. Seriously. We were probably the only ones left on dialup so you'd think someone would pay *us* to upgrade. We've switched to DSL offered through our phone company.

Personally I didn't really mind dialup. Then again, I didn't know what I was missing. Dialup was okay for me, but now that I have three kids in school with all the ensuing research, homework, etc., it was time to move up.

It's nice to be able to talk on the phone while surfing the 'net and emailing. Perhaps now Son #2 will stop giving out my cell phone number to his friends. As in: "If you call my house and get a busy signal, it's because my mom is on the computer, so call me on her cell phone." The sad thing is he gets more calls on my cell phone than I do.

So this week, I learned how to install and set up a wireless modem, a wireless adapter, add filters on my phone lines, installed a new internet program, and broke up with my old Internet Service Provider (ISP).

I started on the internet years and years ago with MindSpring. They were bought out a few years later by Earthlink. I've been happy with them all these, what? 14 years, but when it came to upgrading to DSL, they couldn't touch the deal offered by my phone company. I now have a bundle, which includes unlimited free long distance on my landline phone, highspeed internet, and two phone features I didn't have before (call waiting and caller ID). For less than the cost of Earthlink's DSL. I still have to master this new-fangled call waiting. For all of my blossoming tech prowess, I still hung up on Dear Hubby when trying to switch back to another caller. Oops.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Especially since I wasn't able to export my saved emails to my new ISP because Earthlink will only allow you to save them in one format. Apparently not one of the 10 formats my new ISP accepts. I saved the ones I wanted to my harddrive as a text file and said "goodbye" to Earthlink (whom I've been with since before my kids' births). Sad? Nah, not really. There's something very liberating about starting fresh with a nice empty in-box and not the hundreds of archived emails that I "might" need someday.

Anyway, that's why I've been slow to blog this past week (that, and the 24 cupcakes and other Room-Mom tasks I performed for Son #3's kindergarten class). I think you'll find me posting more frequently. I know I'm looking forward to reading my favorite blogs quicker and more often.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Butterflies are Free...

I planted milkweed in my garden back in the spring in hope of attracting monarch butterflies. They often lay their eggs on milkweed plants and the caterpillars eat the leaves. This fall, in addition to monarch caterpillars, we also had these nasty black and orange bugs (Son #1 calls them Assasin Bugs - I don't know if he's just making that up). Anyway, these black and orange bugs would eat the tiny monarch caterpillars.

My neighbor loaned me a couple of plastic and mesh bug houses and gave me instructions on "rescuing" the caterpillars. Yeah, yeah...I know: let nature take its course, the survival of the fittest, yada yada. But monarch butterflies are sooooo pretty.

As soon as the caterpillars were large enough not to crawl through the mesh of their "vacation home", we'd capture a few and put them inside. We'd add fresh milkweed leaves several times a day.

After they grew fat and happy, their appetites dropped off and they climbed to the ceiling of the house, attached themselves and hung in a "j" shape for a while. The caterpillar then formed its chrysalis (a process that took only a few minutes). After 10 to 14 days, viola! Butterflies!

We released them into my garden where I also have a lantana plant (mature butterflies like those, too.)