Exhibitionist

My son has learned how zippers work. Specifically, how to unzip them. He unzips sweaters, jackets, the fly on my jeans (thanks honey!) … but his favorite thing to unzip: His pajamas.

Its been a trend for the past month: We’ll put him to bed and when I check on him, his clothing is in various stages of disarray. For example, the boy knocks on his bedroom door because he doesn’t want to go to sleep. When you open the door to tell him to get his keyster back in bed, he’s …

  • Standing there wearing nothing but a diaper and a smile.
  • Standing there with one arm out of the pajamas, and one halfway in with no pants and tells you “I stuck”.
  • Or he’ll go to bed with no problem and when you check on him hours later, you can see the moon shining off his bare heiney as he lays face-down in his pillow and his blankets tangled in his legs.

(I got extra parenting points for that last  one: I managed to get him back in a diaper, clothed, laid waterproof mats down over the gigantic wet spot in the bed, AND put a blanket over that, then moved him back into place without waking him up. WINNING.)

Patting yourself on the back for shelling out the extra $15 for a waterproof mattress cover? PRICELESS.

Although highly hilarious, I’m also a bit baffled by it: Why is he shucking off his clothes at night? Is he too hot? Did he pee out of his diaper? Was something itching him? Does he just prefer sleeping naked?

I have no idea. I just don’t want him to freeze.

Short of super gluing his zipper, I’ve tried a couple of ideas to keep the jammies on:

  1. Remind him to keep them on when I put him to bed;
  2. Dress him in the thinner cotton pajamas instead of the fleece ones;
  3. Let him pick his pajamas (two options);
  4. Try different styles of pajamas (long sleeve shirt and thermal pants); and
  5. Simply checking in on him more often after I know he’s asleep.

____________________

He did it again this morning.

From the monitor at 6:15 a.m., a voice chirped: “uh-oh.” A second later: “UH-OH … Mommy?”

That never translates into something good.

When I walked in, he was laying — tummy side down — in bed. Naked. No covers, no nothing. Laying in what I assumed was a cold, wet, and smelly spot. I checked on him before I went to bed, so this must have happened in the wee early hours of the morning.

He turned his face to me. “Uh-oh.”

“No kidding, Dude. Are you cold?”

“No. … Mommy?”

“Yes honey?”

“I cold.”

Welcome to communicating with a toddler.

After wiping him down, dressing him, and getting him his morning juice and banana, I stripped down his bed and threw everything — pillow included — into the washer. (Thank you “sanitary” setting!)

Now I just have to remember to throw it all (+ a tennis ball) in the dryer when I get home. I only have so many waterproof pads.

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Blink

I’ve been hibernating. Or hiding. Whichever you prefer. Either way, its been seriously crazy around our house recently and I haven’t had the time or energy to write — even though I’ve been bursting with material.

Which is why man invented bullet points. Onward!

  • We are ending the end of Week 1 at the new day care, and so far so good. Today Allie didn’t cry AT ALL when I dropped her off. While Sean was still upset, he wasn’t hysterical, and that is good too.
  • The kids seem to really like it there too. Lots of stimulation. Lots of things to do. Lots of other kids. For Allie, I think its exhilarating. For Sean, overwhelming. Yet he has a ton of fun. He loves playing outside on their playground and is very attached to two of the teachers. When Hubbs picks him up, he’s always doing an activity with the other kids and is very happy. I can’t even describe the relief.
  • The two teachers he’s attached to? Miss Molly is an adorable brunette. Miss Kaitlyn is blond and blue-eyed. Apparently he’s big on cuddling with them. Hubbs is very proud.
  • On Wednesday, he waved and said “bye-bye Me Mowwie” (Bye-bye Miss Molly), which resulted in big waves and smiles from her. The dog.
  • Allie smiles and claps and then runs into our arms when we come to pick her up. Most. Adorable. Thing. Ever.
  • She said “apple” clear as a bell the other morning. Then stole two slices from her brother’s plate.
  • I found the most insanely cute pair of booties for her: Pink fuzzy bunny booties. They’re incredibly ridiculous and I love them. If they made adult versions, I would wear them around the house and drive Hubbs INSANE with them. And I can’t find a picture online anywhere. Must remember to take a picture this weekend!
  • Both kids are eating more each night. I think its because they’re expending so much more energy at the new day care.
  • I got a new purse/commute bag/diaper bag and it is faboo.
  • Riding BART in the rain kinda sucks. The trains take on this wet, musty, moldy smell. Its even better when the air conditioner/fans don’t work.
  • All the hand washing I’m doing = lizard skin. Stupid dry winter air. I swear, the four of us keep Aveeno in business.
  • I made corned beef for dinner earlier this week just so I could make corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast on Saturday.
  • We are officially formula-free in the house. That sound you hear? Me dancing around with all the $$ we’ll save because of it! (Hooray for regular milk!)
  • This weekend is going to be jam packed. And I’m getting a visit from my least-favorite aunt for it. Fabulous.
  • Trying to plan a weekend getaway is much harder than I remember.
  • Doctor’s orders: I need more vitamin D.
  • I also have “mild” sleep apnea. The guy who came over to set up my machine? Said the No.1 comment from women is: I didn’t have sleep apnea until I had kids. He guesses its because we’re always half-listening for our kids. Even while we sleep. That “mother hearing” everyone jokes about? Totally true.
  • Sleep apnea means I get one of those machines with the face mask. I’m not digging my current mask. I feel like I’m being attacked by a face-hugger all night.

And on that thought, later!

 

Quarantine

Taking care of one sick kid is hard. Taking care of two sick kids is exhausting. Throw in a sick Hubbs — just for kicks — and what do you get? Nuclear meltdown. CDC quarantine. Hazmat suits and instant hand sanitizer. And me. The last one standing.

For now.

First Sean got sick. Just your standard, run-of-the-mill cold. Paired with the typical “I don’t feel good so I’m going to freak out about EVERYTHING” toddler behavior. (Yes, he freaks out about EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Nose running? Freak Out! No more juice in your cup? Freak Out! Sister sit next to you and take your dinosaur? Nuclear Explosion!)

Then Allie got sick. At first, I didn’t even realize she was sick. She had a very slight runny nose (she’s teething, so nothing alarming there) and was cuddly and quiet Monday morning when I dropped her off at day care. Later that day, I got a call from our provider: Allie had no energy. She was very quiet. And she had a “barking” cough. And our day-care provider? She was worried.

I hung up, did a reality check with Hubbs, made an appointment with the doctor for both kids, then let work know.

I was honestly worried that I was being paranoid. That she was really fine and that I’d feel silly for taking her in for a normal cold. Then I saw her: Tired, barely-open eyes, noisy/wheezy breathing, and that barking cough. When I held her in my arms, she slumped against me and put her cheek against my chest. She tried to talk to me, but only a hoarse croaking came out. She had lost her voice.

Something was most definitely wrong.

A long wait at the doctor’s office later (note to everyone: ALWAYS have food with you when you’ve got kids at an appointment. I had to scrounge through both my purse and diaper bag to come up with 2 boxes of raisins and a bag of cookies) and the verdict was: normal cold for Sean, croup for Allie. And just what is that? (Aside from whatever Diana’s sister had in “Anne of Green Gables”?):

Croup: Viral croup; Laryngotracheobronchitis – acute; Spasmodic croup

Croup is breathing difficulty accompanied by a “barking” cough. Croup, which is swelling around the vocal cords, is common in infants and children and can have a variety of causes.

According to the NIH (PubMed Health), symptoms include:

A cough that sounds like a seal barking. Most children have what appears to be a mild cold for several days before the barking cough becomes evident. As the cough gets more frequent, the child may have labored breathing or stridor (a harsh, crowing noise made during inspiration).

Croup is typically much worse at night. It often lasts 5 or 6 nights, but the first night or two are usually the most severe. Rarely, croup can last for weeks. Croup that lasts longer than a week or recurs frequently should be discussed with your doctor to determine the cause.

If you’ve never seen or heard a child with stridor, you’re lucky. It sounds like this rattly-wheezing coming from their chest, and their little stomachs suck in so far you’re amazed that you can’t see their backbone from the front. Sean had it as a baby, and its terrifying as a parent to know that your kid is struggling to breathe.

The doctor prescribed her a corticosteroid (which she started in the office) to help reduce the swelling in her upper airway and ordered us to keep our humidifiers (yes, PLURAL) going 24-7, to raise the head of her crib, and to take her into a steamy shower if she needed it.

And yes, that’s really all you can do: Be vigilant, pay attention, and if it gets worse/she has more problems: call the doctor and get to the ER. We also needed to keep Sean home until Wednesday to make sure he didn’t come down with it, and Allie needed to stay home until Thursday.

I slept in fits that night, waking up every time I heard a sound coming from her room. The next day, my mom came up to help with them. Honestly, a life-saving move. Allie couldn’t stand to be more than 2 inches away from me at all times. Sean also wanted constant attention. The fact that Grandma was there to sit with him, stroke his hair, give him 100% of her attention? Made him SO HAPPY. Despite the cold.

And then at exactly 3 p.m., Hubbs walked through the door.

He looked at me, said “I feel sick”, and went into our room and closed the door.

I left the kids with my mom and followed him: He felt nauseous, felt cold, his skin was clammy, yet he had a fever. The man had the flu.

And that is when I looked up at the sky and screamed.

Well, in my fantasy, that’s what I did. In reality, I went and got him a cup of Emergen-C with a straw and 3 Advils before closing the door and washing my hands and shooing my mother out of the house for her own safety.

I won’t bore you with details about that night and the next day except to say that I’ve slept on the couch for the past couple of nights in an attempt to stay healthy and that its exhausting to take care of 3 sick people  at the same time. Especially when 2/3 of them are under 3 years old.

And if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get another cup of coffee.

New Year, Big Change, Bigger Worry

Its barely January and we’re already working on a big change in our family: We’re going to change day care providers.

I cannot even express how torn we are about it either.

Sean has been with our current provider — K — since he was 4 months old. She’s been with us through all his breathing issues, doctors appointments, and tests. She calls Sean “kook-a-boo” — we have no idea how that came about, but its this little endearment that they have for him.  Allie is their “princess” or “angel”. Every morning after we arrive, Allie reaches for K with a giant smile on her face while Sean runs to the rocking chair to watch “Sesame Street” with her husband. They’ll sit together for hours and rock. Her husband is tall — very tall — and his rocking would probably make me motion sick. But the kids love it. The kids love them. I trust them.

That’s why this is so hard.

But Sean is 2 — nearly 3. He’s the oldest kid at this day care and he needs more socialization. He needs more stimulation. More action. More structure. And we’ve found a day-care center nearby that we think that, in time, he’ll love. They have a giant fenced yard with tons of play structures. They do arts projects multiple times a week. They have tumbling mats and story times and free play and sing songs and have tons of dinosaur and animal toys. He’ll be with about 6 other kids and be supervised by 2 teachers. It’s a small setting by normal facility standards, which is good for him. Eventually he can move into the 3-year-old class and into pre-K. Hopefully, he’ll transition into kindergarten with some of the same kids and will have built-in friends.

Allie is more interested in other kids than Sean. When we toured the center, she wanted to get on the floor, to go up to several kids and check them out. She wanted to see what they were snacking on. (She probably wanted some of those snacks too.) She was interested in everything and everyone. They have a toddler playground for the small children, tumbling mats, building blocks, a nap room, and all other sorts of goodies for the younger set. Story time and singing corners and baby dolls. I know my social butterfly would have a blast.

And — as any change regarding the two of them will — it makes me nervous. Because even though I like this day care center, it’s a CENTER. Its not K. Its not her house. I don’t have a relationship with the teachers. They don’t know my kids.

They’re not going to reach out for “My Allie” every morning. Or take Sean to McDonald’s for French fries or to a local bakery for cinnamon rolls as a treat. They won’t bake my kids cookies, just because they might like them or give them birthday or Christmas or Easter or whatever silly holiday presents. They won’t bring them home a stuffed animal from their vacation.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been spoiled: K has treated our kids like family.

I’ve been able to go to work and feel secure in that my kids are happy and being well-cared for. Now, more than ever, I’m feeling the mommy guilt. Especially when I talk to some stay-at-home parents I know who will be sending their little ones to pre-school part-time (2-4 hours) for two or three days a week.

That kind of change would be so much easier to manage. Small bites. Small increments. Easing the kids into the new situation and having the flexibility to be able to stay and help out in class if needed.

Sean is a child of routine. He doesn’t do well with change. This is a gigantic change, and I have no idea how it will go over with him. Will he love it immediately and be totally fine or will he give me hives for months until he slowly adjusts to the new place? Will he be a constant boomerang? Will he be able to handle it? Am I over-reacting and over-analyzing everything?

Will I ever get a restful night’s sleep again?

Sometimes I feel like society is setting mothers up for failure — like we’ve been given a trick question: How do you provide for your family financially yet be there to provide for them in every other sense?

Is there even an answer?