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Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

but at least Maya is feeling better.

I haven’t written must about J’s celiac disease, mostly because it doesn’t much affect our lives. He had it when I met him and has had it since he was a baby. Of course, little was known about the disease back then and his parents were erroneously told he’d outgrown it when he was 6 years, but he was re-diagnosed when he was 19. This means he’s lived with it for over 20 years and we’d pretty much adjusted a lot time ago. He has been having fun with all the new gluten-free products that have come out in the past several years. When he was a kid, it was rice, rice and more rice.

Which doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected our lives at all. For one, whenever we go to New York, he drags me to all the gluten-free restaurants (which are actually getting pretty good). For another, we avoided giving our children anything with gluten until they were a year old. Celiac disease, the latest theory goes, involves a genetic component, but also requires some sort of trigger, or challenge to the immune system, to cause someone to develop the disease. In J’s case, it was the early introduction of gluten when he was an infant. For other people, it doesn’t happen until adulthood, and often people have no idea why it begins.

We have a great family doctor who is very aware of the issues and any time one of my kids comes in with some sort of stomach complaint or hard-to-figure-out illness, she sends them off for a blood test. The test measures the level of a certain antibody produced by the gut when it is reacting to gluten negatively – to put it simplistically.

So when I took Asher in to see our doctor a couple of weeks ago because he’s always tired and run down, is pale and has big dark circles under his eyes and loosing weight, her first move was to send him for the test. This time, it came back positive.

It still isn’t conclusive. The next step is a stomach biopsy to confirm it, but first we have to get to a specialist. And until he gets that biopsy, we have to keep feeding him gluten or the test won’t be accurate. This, of course, is driving me nuts. I look at his pale face as I hand him a piece of pizza and cringe a little inside, feeling like I’m poisoning him.

If he is celiac, it is probably one of the least awful chronic illnesses we could have to deal with, since we already know the ropes and as long as he follows the diet, he’ll live a normal life. So that is good. But I can’t help but think of him being unable to eat anything at birthday parties, having to watch everyone else eating pizza during pizza day at school, and going through his adolescence having to avoid all the fast food his friends will be eating (at least he’ll be a lot healthier). It isn’t the worst thing, but it still sucks.

And there’s my selfish distress too. Before we had kids, I used to experiment with baking for J. I perfected a GF banana bread and have several great cookie recipes. I was even experimenting with bread. But then the kids arrived and the stores began to stock GF products and I stopped making the effort (poor neglected J). But if Asher is positively diagnosed, I’m going to have to come up with more variety. I’ve already promised to work on challah and matzah balls. It’s going to be a lot of extra work for me, not wanting my boy to feel deprived. (My husband, sure. But my boy? Never.)

Asher took the news very calmly, for the most part, telling me that he’d always expected this to happen at some point. Weird kid.

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She lives!

Fortunately, Maya’s ability to heal with unbelievable speed seems to be trumping the need to torment me with her misery. That, and those Tylenol 2s. I feed her half every 4 hours like clock-work and except for whining about all the food she wishes she could eat, Maya is doing really well.

Moments after I posted my last blog entry and told Maya it was time to leave, she said to me, “I just want you to know that if this hurts at all or goes wrong in any way, I’m blaming you completely.” She was serious.

I said, “Maya, I am completely aware that anything that goes on in your life at any point and involving anything will be blamed on me.” I was serious.

Right after the surgery treatment, I got to see her in the recovery room, and she was amusingly dopey. I asked if she wanted water. She stared at me blankly for a good five seconds before responding, “No.” A few minutes later, she asked, “Why are we here?” I told her, “You dental surgery – remember?” Five second pause. “Yes.” She then reached up and touched her frozen upper lip and asked, “Is this my lip?” When I told her it was, she said, “Are you sure?” like it was actually possible to confuse with something else.

It actually brought back memories of feeling like that when coming out of sedation, where the thought would formulate in my head but take forever to actually get out my mouth. (I’ve been sedated a few times – wisdom teeth, molar extraction, appendix, boob tumour. It sucks.)

(I also felt like that when I was sick after Boo was born, lying in the ER room, feverish and haemoraging. That was a bit different, though, because I think that was something more like shock. And in that case, I didn’t answer. I just lay there, thinking stuff but finding it just too much of an effort to bother to communicate with anyone. I even felt badly that it might be freaking them out, but not badly enough to fight my way out of it. Only when I realized Boo was hungry and I had to tell J how to latch her on did I get the strength to shake it off and communicate.)

Maya seemed to come out of it really quickly, which is something I never managed. I was marveling at how well she was doing as we headed out to the parking lot when I noticed that she was heading off the curb as we walked down the sidewalk. I just grabbed her coat and redirected her.

Then we ordered Evan Almighty on our ‘on demand’ cable and ate ice cream. Compared to my pre-Weight Watchers days, I didn’t eat much, but I still think I ate too much. And the movie was stupid. It would have been completely unbearable without Steve Carroll. But Maya was happy with both the movie and the ice cream, so the afternoon was a success.

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Sigh …

I have a headache – a migraine that is sending tendrils of pain down my neck and shoulders and even making my right ear throb – and am trying to get a column written. And Asher is in an unfortunately good mood and keeps demonstrating his bloody yoyo me. “Sometimes I wind it up like this. I have two ways of winding it up. Are you watching, Mom? Mom, watch, watch. See, I do this. No wait, that isn’t quite right. Watch, I’m going to try it again …” Fortunately, he’s in a good enough mood that when I snapped petulantly, “I don’t want to watch!” he just let it roll right past him. Didn’t stop talking, though.

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Monkey Girl

We took our kids wall-climbing yesterday. All of them, even my diminutive 5-year-old.  It was quite the sight.

All three of them had a great time. We knew Maya would, as she’d done it before. We were pretty sure the other two would too, but it was hard to imagine the rock-climbing place let someone as small as Boo try it. They had no problem.

Boo, as I may have mentioned before, climbed to the top of the piano when she was about 8 months old. We have a metal-frame bunk bed in the basement and I put away the ladder to stop toddler Boo from getting to the top bunk, so she climbed the frame, repeatedly. I figured she would like wall-climbing.

I was wrong. She loved wall-climbing. She went up the easy walls like a monkey. The next step up was a set of walls where the holds were sometimes quite a reach for her, but she’d just stop half-way up the wall and consider her options, then keep pulling herself up. She’d get right to the top, rappel down and demand to go right back up. After 2 hours, Maya was worn out and her hands hurt. After 3 hours, Asher was wiped. J had to drag Boo out of the place after about 3.5 hours.

I wish I had my camera with me to take a picture of my kids hanging on to little holds two stories up. But I don’t feel too badly, because I suspect I’ll have a lot of other opportunities to take photos, especially of Boo.

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Yogamum, the evil thing, turned me onto audible.com, where I found a ‘book’ that is the first two seasons of This American Life. Forty hours! Woo hoo!

The show is heading into its 13th year, which makes for some interesting listening. For one thing, it is just at the very start of web access (at one point, the host does mention that someone has a web site, and gives the address this way: “Go to http …”).

It is an interesting reminder of how quickly my world has changed. Here I am, charging the iPod, watching a DVD of the Dog Whisperer that I rented on-line in a smaller window while I write on my blog in another window. None of which I would have imagined doing a decade ago (makes me half-fearful/half-excited to see how different things will be in the next ten years).

I just listened to show on closeted gay men, who stay married rather than come out, and that really did seem quite old. I know that there are lots of places where being gay is still just utterly shocking, but the descriptions these guys gave of the impossibility of being gay and having a ‘regular’ life seemed so foreign.

When I was a kid, I didn’t think anyone I knew was gay, not that I thought much about it all. At an adult, I can look back and realize that one of my best friends in high school was gay. He moved away in grade 11, so I can’t confirm it now, but I’d bet a lot of money on it. It also occurred to me that one of my favourite babysitters was also gay. I can’t explain it beyond gaydar. It is just obvious in retrospect. Recently, wondering if I could find out what had happened in her life, I googled her and discovered that she’s apparently a respected medical researcher. The only other clue to her life was an obituary notice in which she is mentioned as the ‘life partner’ of the dead man’s daughter.

Given how homosexuality seems so normal to me now, how regular, I have to confess that it seems weird to me that my kids still find it so … titillating. They keep forgetting the gay people we know are gay and are shocked all over again whenever it comes up.

A couple of days ago, Maya made a yellow star – like Jews were forced to wear under the Nazi regime – for a project at school. She commented that she’d rather make one in pink. I told her that they did have pink stars, for people who were put in camps for being homosexual. Then I said, mostly to myself, “I wonder what they did with gay Jews? Did they have to wear both?”

Maya actually said, in a tone of disbelief, “There are no gay Jews.”

After I stopped laughing, I once again listed our gay friends and acquaintances.

It’s 1:40 am. I can’t sleep. I have no idea where I am going with this. I just thought that was really funny. Where do they get this stuff? When I pointed out (once again) a relative is gay, both the older ones said, “But he’s not married to another boy!” No marriage, no homosexuality, I guess. I know a lot of Conservatives and Republicans who would just love that to be true.

Oo, I think I’m actually feeling the possibility of sleep! I’m going to stop rambling about gay people and go to bed.

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 I have a deep New Year’s post waiting to go up, but it is on the laptop, and I am not, so I have decided to slide straight into the trivial for my return post.

Webkinz is so passe, don’tcha know? My kids have moved onto obsessing over Club Penguin, which is smart enough to let a kid be a member for free, only without being able to do any of the cool stuff. For that, you need a membership.

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After much negotiating, I agreed that Maya and Asher could each buy a month, in hopes that they’ll lose interest in that time and not beg for more (oh look! a slippery slope! why, it seems to be getting closer!).

Of course, Boo was outraged. It is so unfair, she mopped, that they get memberships and she doesn’t, just because they are older and have their own money. I put her off for a bit, but then realized that putting up with all the moaning and begging wasn’t worth the $6 membership fee for a month. And I did see her point.

We delightedly logged her on, as she announced her intention to buy a yellow puffle (a little tribble-like pet), just as her siblings did. Oh, how she yearned for that yellow puffle. I checked her account. She had $138. I asked Asher how much a puffle costs. A mere $800, he informed me.

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At this point, I had two choices. I could have Boo sit at the computer for about 4 hours, playing little games that make Penguin money until she had enough (money, or patience), or I could play the games for her and get it done much faster. Most of the games on Club Penguin are beyond her computer abilities.

And this was how I found myself on Club Penguin yesterday afternoon, playing Connect Four with some child somewhere else in the world (actually, the skill involved in one of the games had me suspecting I was playing another adult). I also went fishing, played a version of space invaders and a maze game involving melting ice.

Boo and I are now the proud owners of a cute yellow puffle named Puffle.

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Mousy murder

We have mice in our cold storage room in the basement, and in the closets down there. We keep the extra dog food in a storage closet along with tons of other crap, and when I took out my winter boots, they were filled with dog food. They also got inside the gift I was keeping for my 5-year-old nephew – a set of kid-sized tools from Home Depot and filled his little tool belt up with food too. That made for a more amusing gift-opening experience. He was so happy he has his very own level and chalk line, he didn’t care.

So J did the manly thing when we found the boot full of food and set out traps in the cold storage room. The mouse find their way in every fall, no matter how many little cracks J stops up with steel wool. The kids refuse to go in when this happens, making it easier for me to hide gifts from them.

But today, our remaining cat, Roxy, got into the room unsupervised. Predator that she is, she found one trap under the shelving and dragged it out to the middle of the basement. Traps themselves aren’t so easy for a cat to carry, but when there is a nice, plump mouse in it, it’s a snap – so to speak.

Maya found the result, which is a bad thing. She came screaming upstairs, raving about “blood everywhere”! I didn’t panic. Maya exaggerates. A lot. Sure enough, there was a dead mouse, caught in the trap only by maybe a lip (eeewwww!), but I think Roxy did it a favour and finished it off. The ‘blood everywhere’ turned out to be a smear on the trap itself.

The positive side to all this is that Maya has now announced she will never again go down to the basement and since that is where the TV is, maybe she’ll never watch TV again. I wouldn’t count on it, but then again, I wouldn’t put it past her, either. When she was four years old and we lived in a different house, I flushed a wasp that got inside down the toilet on the main level and she refused to use that toilet ever after, convinced the wasp was going to swim back up and bite her on the butt. That’s only mildly insane when you are four, although she did irritatingly keep it up the whole summer until we moved. But what pushes it over the top is that this summer, she remembered the incident and now refuses to use the ground floor toilet in this house, which has basically the same lay-out.

I totally understand why people chose not to have children, given that they suck very life out of you for 20 years or so, but I do feel a little sorry for those who live the stable, expected life that comes from not living with these unpredictable, insane little creatures. Like, for example, an 11 year old who refuses must go upstairs to pee because her mother flushed a wasp down the main floor toilet in another house 7 years ago. I giggle every time I think of it.

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Boo had an eye appointment yesterday and it was great. It was almost a year ago that we found out her eyesight was dreadful (the doctor admitted today that when she first came in, she was legally blind). When she first got her glasses, they improved her vision to 20/200. That was the good number, which really upset me.

Today, with her glasses on, her vision is 20/30. Unbelievable. And she still has a couple years of improvement, since the doctor says we have until about age 7 before her eyes will no longer change for the better. But 20/30 already! I honestly never thought she’d be able to see that well, ever. It was a good day.

So now we get to go get new glasses. Yay! Her old ones are scratched and battered, so it is about time anyway. She’s excited about picking out new frames. I’m excited about her eyesight improving enough to justify new glasses.

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I had something written about Hanukkah – of which today is the last day and yet I am sure I will still be hearing “happy Hanukkah from well-wishing but clueless acquaintances until the 25th – but I keep not getting it posted and now it is over, so I think I’ll treat it like the minor holiday it is and ignore it. Is that a run-on sentence?

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I just read in the paper that Matthew Perry, Zach Ephron and Michelle Trachtenberg are going to be staring in a new movie called 17. According to the blurb, it is about a dad who gets zapped back to being 17-years-old and goes to his daughter’s high school, for unexplained reasons, and his daughter develops a crush on him.

I think if pretty Zach were to take a look at the photo on the link to Perry I provided, he’d think twice about agreeing to be this guy’s younger self. But beyond that point, may I just add an very hearty, very sincere EEEEEWWWWWWW!!!! What kind of sicko came up with that plot idea? I know a zillion girls think Zach is just the biggest cutie ever, but are they really going to want to see a movie in which the concept is that their dad could have once been the biggest cutie in school? And the whole daughter/dad thing – it’s just way too incesty. Blech.

And what’s with the girly boys? Zach is all over my daughter’s wall and he’s prettier than his girlfriend. I don’t think this is an entirely new thing, because I remember reading some deep analysis once that said young teenage girls like girly boys because they represent unthreatening masculinity, but I personally never got it. My first crush at age 13 was on Harrison Ford, who was gruff, crabby and scarred. I still have a crush on him.

I can’t wait to see what kind of hits those tags get me.

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It was one of those perfect winter days today, where the snow fell in big, slow flakes and made everything look beautiful. There was no wind and it was mild. I took Jasper for a long walk, then got the kids and when we got home, Asher and Boo played outside for a long time with the dog. It was idyllic and fun and helped me breath properly again. Here are pictures. Lots of pictures.

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He loves to smush his whole face in the snow.

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I don’t want to go on about it, but the reason it was so nice to watch everyone romp around was that my cat, Theo, died yesterday at the age of four, very suddenly. He developed crystals in his urine, his bladder got blocked and his kidneys were damaged beyond help by the time I got him to the vet. He died in my arms shortly thereafter.

He was a marvelous cat. He was utterly-unfeline-like in his friendliness and love of everything. He purred at his vet appointments. At one, he had to take a medication that had the side effect of calming them down and when the vet walked in, he was lounging on her counter, purring happily. She said, “Wow, that stuff really mellows them out sometimes.” I told her, “He hasn’t taken it yet. This is just his personality.” Even my mother liked him, and my mother hates cats.

I miss him so much.

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J is off gallivanting around the world again for the next week. This morning, I got the kids to swimming lessons and snuck off to have a shower myself while they were supposedly being watched by their instructors. I say ‘supposedly’ because when I arrived at the end of Boo’s lesson to get her, she told me she didn’t learn much this time because she lost her instructor for a while, but eventually he found her. In the pool. I told the guy at the first lesson that without glasses my kid is blind, but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in. Either that, or he has the same problem. We’ll be chatting about it tomorrow.

Then we popped off to friends for brunch, where my kids were pretty well-behaved, I think. These friends only have one kid and she’s still wee, so the amount of noise and destruction she can cause compared to my kids is light years apart. I remember having people over with more than one kid when I just had sweet little Maya and watching in horror at the chaos. I hope we didn’t do that to them. Fortunately, my kids like to eat. After announcing he wasn’t hungry. Asher ate a pancake and four helpings of lasagna.

Then, it was off home to make Hanukkah cookies. I’d promised the day before. I was so bloody tired, but couldn’t see when else to do it, so soldiered on. The house is already a mess, of course. But we shoved aside crap in the kitchen and made the cookies. Dinner was order-in pizza, now that the non-gluten guy is out of the country. Afterwards, we decorated, adding icing sugar and many types of sprinkles to the chaos. These are some of the finished product:

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Here is poor Jasper watching us play and play with food and give him none, poor boy. He’s using a teddy for a pillow, so I had to take a picture.

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Asher knocked an entire container of thawed strawberries on the floor. Someone else knocked over thawing beef in the fridge, so now the fridge has been bled on. Maya dropped Jasper’s full bowl of food on the floor, and for one the damn dog decided that floor food did not interest him.

We realized after dinner but before decorating that Asher had not finished his Hebrew project for Tuesday. That wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the English project he hasn’t even considered beginning that is due Wednesday. There was no point in even trying to get any work on that. He can’t handle academic stuff at the very best of times in the evening, and having been promised cookie decorating is not the very best of times to suggest homework.

I have a point to all this. As I was singing Boo to sleep, I was reading yesterday’s Globe and Mail. I read Karen von Hahn’s column, in which she postulated that people who have children young are perceived as older, over-the-hill, compared to their peers who have small children. Her last line is this: “Who needs plastic surgery when you can be as young as you feel, thanks to artificial insemination.”

Is it just me, or is this woman completely insane? She has this idea that having kids when you are older makes you feel younger. Obviously, she is one of those women who had her kids when she was younger and, at 40-ish, is happily waving them off to university.

Gee, I wonder who feels younger – von Hahn, who is looking into the rest of her 40s having done the difficult work of childrearing and wondering what to do with her time – take a cruise with her husband? Throw herself further into her career? Train to run a marathon? After all, she clearly still fit and young enough to do whatever she wants. Or me, who is looking into the rest of my 40s filled with parent-teacher interviews and forgotten projects, kitchens with florescent yellow icing sugar dripping off the walls and the first child careening into adolescence like a runaway locomotive?

I wonder who looks younger – does the flour from the cookies dusting my shirt and the sprinkles in my hair age me? Or is it just the frazzled expression, the 40-year-old skin having gone unmoisturized and 40-year-old hair uncut for months because I’m too tired and don’t have the time.

I’m not really complaining, not really. I knew what I was getting into, although I never actually planned to have a kid at 36 years old. I am truly happy I had my children in my 30s rather than my 20s. But how can any woman who has actually raised children, as von Hahn has, be so utterly deluded as to think that raising small children in one’s 40s makes a person appear or feel younger? Those little shits age you, and they age you twice as fast when you are already older.

Anyway, I can see the dishes piled up in the kitchen from here, so I think I’ll just go downstairs, put on Family Guy and do some knitting. Maybe the dish fairies will come clean everything.

Jasper just discovered a kleenex box was in reach, and neatly hopped up to take one for himself. (He likes to snack on them.) Here is a picture, because he is the cutest dog ever, and don’t you forget it.

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