Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some Questions are Hard to Answer…Especially When They are About an Elephant.

So we’re in the van yesterday on our way to my parents house when Aaron asks, “Mom, if I was feeding an elephant, and he was eating peanuts, you wouldn’t let me do it would you?” Before you say, “Um, come again,” Aaron has a peanut allergy and it seems to really be on his mind a lot lately because he keeps coming up with these insane ways to bring peanuts into the conversation. I told him that no, if he wanted to feed an elephant peanuts, I would have to say that he could not partake in the pachyderm peanut-feeding process. Then he went on to say how much he wishes that he didn’t have a peanut allergy and I tried to explain to him that he might not always have it. There’s a new study out where doctors are giving children with peanut allergies very small doses of peanuts and after time, they begin to build up a tolerance and viola, no more allergy. “Well, do they shoot it into you,” Aaron asked. Yeah Honey, they load up a pistol with a peanut, stand across the room, and ready, aim, fire there’s your peanut dose for the week.

The night before the elephant conversation, I was putting him to bed and he started saying how much he wished he wasn’t allergic to peanuts and then he asked what I was allergic to when I was a kid. When I told him that I wasn’t allergic to anything, he looked absolutely shocked and with his eyes about as wide as I’ve ever seen them he asked, “So Grandma gave you peanuts when you were a kid?” “Yes,” I said. Then he was like, “Did she even make you peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” “Yes, Honey, she did,” I said. He sat there in his bed for a long while trying to absorb this new information like I had just told him that I was the Tooth Fairy.

The fact that this seems to be weighing on him so much absolutely breaks my heart. I’m sure that at five years old it makes no sense that there is this food that he can’t eat, but it seems like everyone else around him can. When he is at school, the teachers always make sure that he sits in a group with kids who don’t have peanut butter for lunch and while he has never said anything about it before, I wonder if that bothers him or if it makes him feel out of place. Although it’s really not an option; he just can’t sit with kids that bring it for lunch. One time this year when I went to pick him up from school, he had just finished gym class and was walking down the hallway toward Elyse and me. His face was beet red, but I didn’t think anything about it because he is always red when he gets overheated. Then, as he got closer, I realized that his face was covered in welts and they were starting to form down his neck and back. Apparently a kid from the other pre-K class had peanut butter on his hands after lunch, played at gym, and then Aaron came in and played with that same toy, and bam…instant peanut reaction.

I have to hand it to him though, Aaron is very aware of the peanut thing and is super cautious in situations where he isn’t sure that he should be eating something. We were at a birthday party for one of his best buddies a few weeks ago and along with the cake, the kids were allowed to make ice cream sundaes. When it was Aaron’s turn, the first thing that he asked the guy dishing out the toppings was whether or not the stuff was peanut safe.

When I was pregnant with Aaron I remember briefly skimming over the parts in the baby books that talked about the precautions you should take when eating certain foods if there’s an allergy that runs in your family, but no one is allergic to anything and I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to that stuff. I was very careful to not give him any questionable foods until he was well passed his first birthday; no strawberries, no cow’s milk, no peanut butter. Then, when he was around fifteen months old, I was eating a peanut butter sandwich and he wanted a bite. He took a tiny little nibble and went on his way. A little while later I noticed his face looked a little splotchy, but it didn’t seem to bother him and he was otherwise fine. It went away pretty quick and so I didn’t give it much thought. Then, when he was about eighteen months old, I had been eating apple slices with peanut butter and there was a small amount left in the bowl. He had gotten a hold of the bowl and put it up to his face and a tiny bit of peanut butter got on his eyebrow. I wiped it off and then took him to change his diaper for nap time. I changed him and then looked at his face and he looked like someone had just punched him in the eye; it was huge, red, and swollen. I immediately called the doctor who said to give him Benadryll and then he wanted to schedule an appointment to test for a peanut allergy. Sure enough, the blood work came back showing that Aaron was definitely allergic to peanuts and we had to start carrying Benadryll and an Epi-pen everywhere we went.

When he was three and a half, his pediatrician decided that he should be seen by an allergist to determine if he was allergic to anything else. I remember he was such a trooper the day that we took him for the testing. These two nurses walked into the room each carrying a plastic square thing with spikes all over them. Each spike had been dipped into a specific allergen. Then, the squares were pressed into his back for a few seconds and then removed. We had to wait for a half an hour to see which ones reacted. His back looked awful. It was bright, bright red and just about everywhere that there had been a spike, he had a welt. He was really itchy, but he hung in until the nurse came back to read the results. In the end, the only things that reacted were of course peanut, but also shellfish and a certain type of grass. They wiped him down with Benadryll wipes and sent us on our way.

Since we have known about the peanut allergy he has only had a handful of reactions and thank God those reactions have only been welts. He has never had an anaphylactic reaction which required the Epi-pen, but we never leave the house without it. We still don’t know if Elyse has a peanut allergy or not because she can’t be tested until she is three, but I am pretty confident that she does not have it.

I wish that I could make this go away for him. Can you imagine living your whole life without ever experiencing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or peanut butter crackers, or good Lord peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? I am hopeful that because he is still so young that there will come a day in the near future where there is a cure for this and he will be able to start freely enjoying things like Halloween, or eating with whoever he wants a lunch time, or good Lord peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Can you tell I love me some peanut butter and jelly? But until that day comes, I’m afraid that he will just have to steer clear of any peanut-eating elephants, no matter how much fun it would be to feed them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yes, I Had a Real Job Before I Wiped Your Butt.

Over the weekend I took Aaron to one of those Build and Grow clinics that is offered at Lowes. This week’s project was a UFO and he did a fantastic job. While we were there, I ran into one of the pathologists that I used to work for when I was a histology technician back before I had Aaron. He was probably one of my favorite docs to work with and seeing him brought back so many memories of my old job and the four and a half years that I spent with some of the most amazing people that I have ever had the pleasure of calling my friends.

It was the summer of 2000 and I had just wrapped up my second year of college, but I was absolutely miserable. I don’t know what it was, but I hated just about everything about college life which was surprising because I had always done pretty well in school before. I had made good grades and I genuinely enjoyed learning. Maybe it was being away from home, or the pressure of the increase in responsibility, or the fact that I was engaged to an absolute ass who kept me on a very short leash and prevented me from truly experiencing college and all of the fun that it had to offer. What ever the reason, college and I clashed and I soon began contemplating quitting altogether.

After a few weeks, I decided that college wasn’t for me and I started trying to find a job. I would consider that the worst mistake of my life except that that decision led me to a job that I absolutely adored and to friends that I cherish to this day. You see, the gigantic ass that I was engaged to at the time worked at a local hospital and one day he brought me a list of job openings. I looked over the list and immediately stopped when I saw the words Anatomical Pathology. I was intrigued. The job listing described a position where the applicant would assist in the processing of microscope slides, assist a pathologist with the gross dissection of surgical specimens, and occasionally assist with autopsies. I knew that I HAD to have that job. I had always loved science and the things described in that job listing sounded like the most fascinating position ever created. I’m sure most people would have seen the word autopsy, fought off a wave of chills and the urge to vomit, and then moved on to the next listing. For me, it only made me want it more. I’m sick like that I guess.

Anyway, I sent in my application and started harassing the woman doing the interviews for a chance at this job. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but she eventually contacted me and just told me to come in and start working. No interview, just come on in and work. It was kind of on a trial basis and if things worked out, I would get a full-time position. I practically ran out to buy some scrubs and I very anxiously went in to work the very next day.

At first my job was pretty simple. I did whatever everyone else needed me to do. I would cover slip the slides as they came out of the stainer. I’d set up the counter of specimens for dissection by the pathologist. I made trips to the OR to collect specimens. I basically did the odd jobs for the ones who were busy doing the real work. And I loved every single second of it.

As time went by though, Tim, Karen, and Connie started teaching me more about what was being done and started training me to do some of the things that they were doing every day. I started assisting the pathologist with the gross dissection every afternoon. I learned how to embed the processed tissue into paraffin wax to prepare it to be cut and mounted on the slides. I learned how to cut the tissue on a special machine called a microtome and then mount that tissue on a slide. I did special stains and eventually Karen even taught me how to use the immuno stainer which was her precious baby and only allowed a handful of people to breath around it let alone run it. By the time I left, I was able to do just about everything that I had marveled at during my first few weeks there.

When I started that job I was twenty years old, had just quit school, and as I have already mentioned, was engaged to an idiot. In the four and a half years that I spent there I dropped the idiot and met my knight in shining armor, Mike. Mike and I got engaged and Tim, Karen and Connie along with Lance and Lori attended our wedding. I took and passed the tests to become an officially certified Histology Technician by the American Society of Clinical Pathology. And of course, I got pregnant with my firstborn, Aaron.

Getting pregnant with Aaron changed everything. Everyone knew that Mike and I were planning on having a family and when that day came, I was planning to quit so that I could be a stay-at-home mom. The night before my last day in Histology, I sat on the floor in the nursery, eight months pregnant, and sobbed to Mike about how much I was going to miss this job and the people that I had come to love. I was so conflicted because I was just a month away from giving birth to my first child and becoming a stay-at-home mother which was the job that I had been dreaming of for my entire life, but starting that job meant leaving this one behind and that hurt so much more than I had anticipated.

Everything about my last day made me want to cry. Everything that I did I noted that it would be the last time. I had stepped out for a minute and when I got back I saw that Mike had sent me flowers. I still have the card that came with them. It said, “Thinking of you on your last day of work.” That did it, and I started crying again. I cried off and on for the rest of the day until it was time to leave. I said my goodbyes and stopped in Tim’s office for the last time. He had this thing that he always said whenever any of us were leaving for the day which was, “Thanks for coming in, being here, and making a difference.” He said that to me and I just had to leave. Karen walked me out and we decided that we weren’t going to say goodbye because (A) It was just too hard, and (B) My baby shower was that weekend and so why go through the agony of goodbyes when we were going to see each other in just a few days. Good call Karen.

I got in my car and sobbed the whole way home.

Being a Histology Technician meant more to me than I could ever begin to explain. Even now writing this I am getting all chocked up because that job was so much more than just a job for me. When I walked in every day I felt like I was there to do something important and when I left each day I left truly feeling like I had made a difference. The work that we did in that department mattered. The quality of our work could mean life or death for our patients, and we took that responsibility seriously. I was good at what I did and I was extremely proud of it.

Of course I know that being a mother is the most wonderful and important job on Earth. I get that, but it can also, at times, be a very thankless job in which more than once I have questioned whether I was really cut out for it. Deep down I know that I am a good mom, but I am constantly plagued with doubts. I knew for certain that I was a good histology technician. I am not saying that I don’t love being a mom. There’s truly nothing like it, but it’s hard to see the significance in what you are doing when most of what you do everyday seems so trivial; changing diapers, preparing meals, keeping up with the laundry, etc.

Maybe some day if I’m lucky, when the kids are old enough to take care of themselves, I’ll be able to go back to that job as I have been told many times that the door is always open. But until then I hold the memories of those four and a half years in my heart and when the difficulties of being a mom get overwhelming, I think back to those years and it always makes me smile.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Italian Festival

Every summer around the fourth weekend in July, our town holds its annual Italian Festival. One entire street for about five blocks is closed off and vendors of all kinds line the streets peddling their wares. There are so many food stands, not all Italian foods mind you, that even if you went all three days you couldn’t sample from all of them. There is live entertainment, and on Saturday night there is a fireworks display. I have been going to the Italian Festival since I was a kid and it is something that was always a highlight of my summer. Last night, for the first time, I got to take my kids for their first ever Italian Festival experience.

We hadn’t really anticipated taking them just yet because although it is a good time, it is hot and crowded and not something that we thought they would get much enjoyment out of at this age. However, a few nights ago, Aaron heard Mike and I talking about it and asked, “So, what is the Italian Festival? Is it something that I can go to?” He seemed so interested that we decided to throw caution to the wind and take them on Friday night.

Now, we are currently experiencing a bit of a heat wave. The Weather Channel said that it was about 98 degrees out, but I know that when we passed the bank it was registering 1000. It felt like we were standing on the sun, but did that stop us? Hell no! It’s the Italian Festival for cryin out loud. I dressed the kids as cool as possible, double checked with Mike that going naked was probably in poor taste, and hoped for the best.

We somehow managed to steer the kids away from the giant blow-up bouncy ovens of heat exhaustion, and went about finding something to eat. As seems to be the norm lately, Aaron gobbled up a slice of pizza, but Elyse refused to eat. I think she was having some belly issues because in the van on the way down she informed me that her belly was full. When I asked her if she felt sick, she told me with a giggle, “My belly full…in my butt.” That’s 100% pure two year old wisdom right there people.

Not much later we decided to grab some Italian ice for the kids to try and cool them off, but while Aaron sat perfectly still, devouring his, Elyse decided that running around and rolling in the grass was more fun. Shortly thereafter, Mike decided to take Princess home and my Mom, Aaron and I stayed to pick out a souvenir and soak up a little more people watching. Possibly one of the greatest things about the Italian Festival is the people watching. I have seen some pretty incredible sights over the years, but the highlight of last night was the girl who was wearing jean shorts and white spiked heels that laced all the way up her leg past her knee. You just don’t get that everyday.

Mom, Aaron, and I walked around a little longer and then Aaron declared that, “He HAD to go home.” On the way out he grabbed another Italian ice and then savored the air conditioning on the ride home.

All in all I think that they had a good time for their first Italian Festival experience. Aaron already asked if he could go back tonight when Mike and I go with Angie and Derek, and Mal and Matt. Um, sorry Sweetie, tonight is the beer portion of the Italian Festival and after Mommy has a couple of drinks, I probably won’t be able to chase after you in my white, lace-up spiked heels.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Latest Project...

Here is another one of my knitting projects.  I call her Daisy and I think that she is adorable.  I have been participating in a summer clothes themed knit along on a crafting website called  This pattern can be purchased from Barbara Prime on Ravelry.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If You Listen Carefully, You Can Hear, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” Softly Playing in the Background.

After much consideration and deliberation, while pounding fist full’s of Tums, and fighting spine tingling chills caused by the images of what could be, against our better judgment Elyse is in a toddler bed.

About three weeks ago now we took the plunge. We dismantled the crib, said a little prayer, and put Elyse to bed in Aaron’s old toddler bed. Petrified doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about the move, but it was something that had to be done. She had turned two on June 1st. By the time that Aaron was two, he had been sleeping in a toddler bed for over seven months. Why did we wait so long? If you have to ask then you probably don’t know this little girl. Maniac describes her on a good day. She has a brain that is constantly churning out new and exciting ways to torture us. She is absolutely fearless and will scale anything given the opportunity. Do we really need to relive the poop story; Versions 1 AND 2?

The thought of her all alone in her room with absolute total freedom to live out whatever scheme she could devise caused my left eye to start twitching involuntarily. I have seen her in action and I know what she is capable of when adult supervision is present and ready to thwart her evil plans. I couldn’t even conceive the damage that could take place when given a ten to twelve hour span of time with no witnesses.

But, these milestones eventually have to take place and so on June 20th, Father’s Day, we took her to Wal Mart to pick out some big girl bedding. That night we read her some stories, sang her some Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, crossed our fingers, and closed the door behind us hoping that when we opened the door the next morning her room would still be standing and intact. It was quiet at first, but then there was a little knock at the door. She knocked for a while and then yelled that she had to use the potty. Ok, we can’t very well deny her potty privileges, so we let her out to pee. She went back to her bed, but then started knocking again. We started this at 8:30 PM. By 9:30 PM she was still knocking. Then things seemed to get quiet. Around 10:30 PM I went in to double check on her before Mike and I went to bed and she was STILL awake, sitting up in the middle of her bed with the biggest bags under her eyes that I have ever seen. When she saw me she said, “I need Twinkle, Twinkle.” So I sang her Twinkle, Twinkle, tucked her back in, and went to bed.

The rest of the night was quiet and when we walked back in the next morning we were relieved to find a happy, rested girl and a completely intact bedroom. After a few more nights of knocking on the door, she got with the program and now she goes to bed without a problem. She has only fallen out of bed a hand full of times and when she does wake up in the morning, she very quietly plays with a couple of toys until we go in to get her. The other morning I walked in and she had her blanket all stretched out on the floor, books all around her, and when she saw me she said, “I read stories, Mommy.”

Still, I am not completely confident that we won’t walk in there one morning to find her constructing a bomb with nothing more than some Desitin, left-over Cheerios, and a baby doll head, but that fear seems to lessen with every successful morning that she is not sitting in a pile of rubble that used to be her room. This was one of the milestones that I dreaded the most with her, but somehow, against all odds, things seem to be going well. My eye has almost completely stopped twitching and I am down to just one handful of Tums a day. Now if you will excuse me, Princess beckons from the baby monitor. Um, wait a second. Did I just hear her say, “Fire in the hole?” Nahhhh.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby You and Me, Got a Groovy Kind of Love.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily routine and bogged down by the stresses of parenthood that we sometimes forget what got us to this point in the first place; each other. Back in the day, in a time before kids, we talked without interruption and we laughed liked there was little to worry about. Time was ours, and we lived every second of it.

Then…the kids came along.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. I firmly believe that Aaron and Elyse are why God put Mike and I together in the first place. A world without them is a world that I wouldn’t want to know. Our lives with kids, while stressful of course, are more joy-filled and precious than I ever could have imagined before they came along. But sometimes, I miss us and the time that we used to have to just focus on each other. The good thing, no, the fantastic thing is that it never takes us long to get back into that groove when given the opportunity. Yesterday evening was one such opportunity.

After a rough morning, and that’s putting it mildly, I put in a call to Grandma 911 and pleaded my case for a child free evening. Although it didn’t take much pleading because all my Mom really needs to here is hello and she is ready to take the kids indefinitely. 5:00 pm rolled around and we promptly dropped the kids off at my parent’s house and escaped for dinner. We talked and laughed, ate awesome burgers, and held hands as we walked. I could actually feel the tension of the day melt while we soaked up each other’s company.

It wasn’t long before it was time to head back to get the kids, but our evening was so us-filled and relaxing that I almost didn’t mind. Even this morning I can still feel the effects of our time together, and I am so much more relaxed and positive for it. No matter what is going on or how difficult things seem to be, all I need is some time with my husband and best friend. I am one lucky girl because Mike is both.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Old Grey Mare, She Ain't What She Used to Be...

There comes a time in the life of every marriage when you have to sit down and take stock of what you have together as a couple. At some point you look around and realize that things just aren’t as new as they used to be. Perhaps they are a little worn or in some cases even broken, and you look at each other and say, “What in the hell happened to all of our stuff? Everything is falling apart!”

What? You knew that’s where I was going, didn’t you? How about you Sweetie? Mike?...Mike?...Hang on, let me get the smelling salts.

Ok, so as I was saying, seven and a half years of marriage have been a little rough on all of our household items and all of that great stuff that we got as wedding gifts is kind of falling apart. The things that we already owned and brought into our marriage have frankly seen better days, but as far as our marriage goes, our marriage is hotter and spicier than ever. Grrrrrrr Baby!

I remember right after I had my wedding shower, how excited I was to open everything and put all of our new stuff in its place. The dishes sparkled, the towels glimmered, and as far as the eye could see everything was new. Fast forward seven years later and things are starting to show their age. The rubber grips on my pots and pans still prevent third-degree burns IF you make sure to line up both pieces that are barely hanging on. Our microwave finally gave up the good fight and died a couple of months ago. The dishwasher that came with Mike as part of a combination bed/dishwasher/husband deal has gotten so lazy that using it is about the equivalent of blowing our dishes clean. House ware items of all kinds are choking and hacking up a lung right in front of me and our kitchen seems to be the place where appliances go to die.

It’s overwhelming to look around and realize how many things need to be replaced. Just this month we finally broke down and decided to pick something, just one thing whose time had come and make the move to finally replace it. After careful consideration and much deliberation, we decided to purchase a new bed. Our old bed was the one that Mike owned before we even met; no fancy headboard or anything, just a mattress and plain metal frame. It screamed bachelor, but when we first got married it seemed like a waste of money to buy something new because the thing technically still worked. It was soft, sheets fit on it, and no springs were hanging out. What more could you ask for in a bed, right? It also wasn’t all that old and so we just went with it.

Time passed and the frame started getting squeaky. Every time one of us rolled over, we woke the other person up, but that was kind of ok because the thing had lost so much support that when someone moved even slightly, the other person was almost sent flying out of bed and so the squeaking was a nice little heads up to hang on. Finally we said forget it and got rid of the frame and just left the mattress and box springs on the floor. We had every intention to replace the frame right away, but then stuff would come up and the kids would need shots, or food, or whatever, and we just never got around to it.

Then a few weeks ago I started thinking, “Could we be anymore white trash?” When I realized the answer was “no,” I told Mike that we HAD to get a new bed. I didn’t care what the cost. If it meant selling a kidney on Ebay, I was going to do it. Luckily it didn’t come to that because I found some fantastic deals over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and VIOLA…A brand new mattress AND bed; headboard, footboard, and everything. We’re like real, live grown ups now.

But the bed is just one thing on the list of many, many items that have had their time in the sun. It seems like just about every day I come across something else that is begging to be put down. That is why I feel that every so many years a married couple should be entitled to throw themselves another shower. I just so happen to believe that seven years is the perfect interval to whip up such a shin dig. Think about it, five years doesn’t seem like a tremendously long time to hang in there, and ten years is a real milestone worthy of celebrating. So it seems only logical that every seven years is the way to go.

I think I may be really on to something here. You may consider this your official invitation to our Seven Year Wedding Shower, or Way to Hang in There and Deal with Each Other’s Crap Shower. Err, on second thought, maybe the word “crap” shouldn’t be a word that gets written out in fancy writing on a cake. I think we’ll go with Seven Year Shower, cause we’re classy and stuff.