Learning To Function With One Hand

(Apologies in advance if there are any typos in this post. I’m typing with one hand. )

Confession: I am not a good sick/injured person. I don’t like being cooped up in the house. And I really don’t like not having the use of my right arm.

I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in early August and while I know its not forever, cabin fever has definitely set in. Right now, my movements are very restricted: The only approved way of moving my shoulder is to be standing, bend at the waist, and let my arm slowly hang away from my body. That’s it. And now you know how I get dressed every day: Put sleeve on bad arm, bend, pull it up, pull over my head, insert good hand, and SLOWLY adjust said shirt.

Bras?  The only ones I can wear are strapless or bandeau tops. Although my favorite so far is the tank top with a shelf bra. So. Much. Easier.

My sling is gigantic. It even has its own pillow to keep my arm away from my body. I also can’t drive for another week, and when I do, it can only be for short trips and I have to use my left hand for everything. (Translation: I’ve been cooped up in my house for nearly six weeks! And most of that time was spent alone. HELP ME.)

So … life has been very small recently. And slow.

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Of Cavities And Picky Eaters

The boy is the picky eater in our house. “I want macaroni and cheese for dinner!” he’ll proclaim, but when it is placed in front of him in all its day-glow orange glory, he’ll take one bite (maybe) then say “I’m done.”

Excuse me? Baking powder? A sphincter says what?!

It’s not like I’m putting overcooked brussels sprouts and canned ham in front of the kid. This is macaroni and cheese. The stuff of childhood. And I have to buy the blue box, because he refuses to eat the “natural” kind.

The orange stuff.

The orange stuff.

Meanwhile, the girl child has polished off her portion, has mowed through her sliced fruit, her sugar snap peas with hummus (one of her favorite snacks), and is munching on a slice of turkey breast.

“I eating Mama,” she’ll say. “I listening!”

“I know baby,” I’ll say, then turn back to the stone-faced 4-year-old. “You have to eat FIVE bites of macaroni and cheese. BIG ONES. And all your fruit.”

For those keeping score, five big bites is to compensate for him specifically requesting said macaroni and cheese. The fruit is to keep ze bowels moving. Because lordy, if he gets stopped up that’s a good THREE days of mineral oil and eventually stool softener to get things moving again.

TMI? Sorry. Welcome to my world.

So dinner is basically a Mexican standoff. A gunfight at noon. Whathaveyou. We sit and stare at each other until he eats. It is SO much fun. Oh, and he STILL doesn’t eat meat. It baffles the mind.

"You will eat your dinner!"

“You will eat your dinner!”

Meanwhile, his sister has cleaned her plate and gets to hop down and watch a movie of her choice. Even if it’s his turn to pick. And if he gets upset, usually she’ll say something along the lines of: “Just eat, Sean. You taking too long.”

But why the long, drawn-out process? Why not just say “fine” and let him be done? Well, Internet, I’ve tried that too. What happens then is that when its time to get into pajamas and get ready for bed: He’s starving. SO HUNGRY. But now my food is cold! I want cereal! With milk! But I’m still hungry! I don’t want to go to bed! and  WAAAAAAAAAAH.

So we struggle. Daily. And I fantasize about scientists creating a pill that gets him all his nutritional needs and fills his belly. But then I’d have to figure out a way to get him to eat it daily. (Back to square one.)

Meanwhile …

The shortcake has cavities. Yes, plural.  On her back molars. The dentist says part of it is because her mouth is so little and that her teeth are very close together.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, its because of the fruit snacks, raisins, and goldfish — all of which she loves — and all of which stick to the teeth and spread their sticky, sweet, cavity-inducing selves all over the enamel. As a result, I have hidden the rest of our fruit snacks and they won’t be making any more appearances. (Also? I got tired of the picky eater trying to fill himself up with these. Fruit snacks do not a meal make.)

Sugar-filled cavity bombs!

Mmmmm … sugar-filled cavity bombs!

I’ve replaced the kid-height snacks with Z bars, granola bars, boxes of raisins (they’re healthy, we just need to be more cognizant of how many she eats), applesauce packets, and snack-size bags of popcorn and “better” crackers. In the fridge, I’m going to make small bags of carrot sticks and sugar snap peas. So far, the girl is loving it. She ate 2 bags of popcorn (about 1/4 cup popped per bag) and a bag of crackers yesterday. The boy? Not so much. He survived on blueberry shredded wheat. Which is fine by me, because hell0 — FIBER.

We took her to the pediatric dentist on Friday for her fillings. Yes, we. Because of the medication they give the kids, two adults are required to be there to ensure nothing bad happens to the kid on the drive home. Like falling asleep and flopping forward and cutting off their air supply and dying. Seriously. So … I wasn’t worried AT ALL.

First off, the girl handled the whole thing like a pro. The only time she cried was after the procedure was over and the dentist turned her movie off before the song was over. That caused sobbing. But aside from that? She was a boss.

And I’ve got the slideshow to prove it.

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And a video. To show just how loopy she was. (BTW, she didn’t lose her footing. She straight up almost fell over.)

Bribery & Other Sins

I remember the days before I had kids. (Vaguely at least.) And you know what? I was judgey. I can admit that now.

See a parent giving in to a kid in a toy store? Weak! I’d never do that when I had kids … See a kid throw a nuclear-fueled melt-down in the store? MY future kids would never misbehave so badly! Hearing a parent bribe their kid with something — candy, McDonald’s, whatever — just to get them to do something? Be still my heart! How could they?!

Do you know what else I can admit? I want to kick the person I once was. I want to kick her in the shins. Because she had no freaking idea what she was talking about. 

So here for your amusement — and mine — here are some of my parenting “sins”:

Bribery

Yeah, I bribe the boy. He’s not even 3 yet, and I bribe him. My saving grace: My bribery is 99% related to medicine. That boy does not like taking medicine. The only thing he half-way willingly takes is grape-flavored Tylenol.

Otherwise, I would have to either:

  1. Lay him on the changing table, lean over his torso with my body, trap his hands under my stomach, and hold his head with 1 hand while giving him the medicine with the other, or
  2. Sit on the floor, wrap my legs around him (trapping his legs), wrap one arm around his two arms, and corral his head between my shoulder and chin while giving him the medicine with the other hand.

It was time-consuming and exhausting and — let’s face it — not exactly fun for anyone involved. Thank goodness he never thought to spit it back at me. (Although I did take knees and hands/elbows to the head a couple of times.)

One day when both kids were sick, I gave the girl-child her medicine first. Bless her little heart, she opened right up and took all her medicine without any fuss and even smiled at me. I will admit that I over-reacted for Sean’s benefit. I gushed at her, telling her what a good girl she was, how proud I was of her, and what a big girl to take her medicine so well! And then I got Hubbs in on the game: “Hubbs, Allie is such a good girl! She took all her medicine like a big kid!” *wink-wink* He knew what I was up to and did the same song and dance.

Sean eyed the both of us skeptically the entire time.

And when it was time for him to take medicine? He opened up with no fuss and drank it all. Then looked at me and smiled as I praised him up and down and threw him a parade.

It worked for 3 days.

On day 4 of his antibiotics, he refused to take medicine again. I was sick and tired (literally and figuratively) at that point, and said something to the effect of: “If you take your medicine, mommy will give you candy.”

Sean: “Candy?”
Me (getting excited): “YES. If you’re a good boy and take your medicine with no crying, mommy will give you CANDY.”
Sean: “I get medicine.”

And he took it! No fuss! And then he looked at me and said: “I get candy?” And we ran to the cabinet and he got a piece of candy. Well … pieces. “Candy” in our household means a mini packet of Pez. And then a thorough tooth-brushing.

Now at the end of the night he’ll ask me: “I get medicine? I get candy?”

Being that we’ve all had plague on a rotating basis this year, I’m buying another bag of Pez.

Judge all you like.

They Watch TV

The horror! I’m turning their little minds to mush with things like Sesame Street, Disney movies, and National Geographic channel!

Let’s face it, parents need a break sometimes. And these things are entertaining. And mostly educational. Ever watch a kid dance along to a Sesame Street song? Priceless. I also think it helped him learn to count to 20. Disney movies taught him about dogs, cars, safari animals (Lion King intro, we never get any farther), fish, and that monsters aren’t scary.

Most times, neither kid sits still and watches the entire show/movie unless they’re sick and cuddled up with me. Otherwise, they’re running around the room playing and occasionally watching something on the screen. When a song comes on, they dance or bob along as they sit down.

And I’m OK with that.

It’s also vastly entertaining to see my kids’ reaction to a crocodile snapping a giraffe off a shoreline and dragging it into the water. Their eyes go wide, and then they smile. “He eat him! Croa-o-wile eat giwaffe! Bye giwaffe! Have a nice day!” Hubbs and I snicker a bit at that, and then Allie waves her goodbye at the screen.

On another note, my kid can correctly distinguish between a crocodile and an alligator. He nails it every time. Also, if he tells you the animal in the picture is a gazelle? My money’s on him being right.

We Don’t Eat Dinner As A Family … Yet

We're not here yet.

Right now, it just isn’t practical. I don’t walk through the door until 6:10 p.m. on a good day, and at that point, both kids are ready to start eating their fingers and toes no matter how many snacks Hubbs throws at them.

So they usually get a quickie dinner within 10 minutes of me walking through the door — with most of that time being devoted to cutting up fruits and/or veggies.

The goal is to start working us toward sitting down as a family, but that takes better planning on my part and the kids being able to feed themselves better.

As in, not dumping a carton of yogurt/plateful of watermelon/the entire contents of his(/her) cup on the floor every 5 seconds “better”.

I Take The Kids On Errands

No really, I do. And they will inevitably get mad about something and scream in the store and possibly fling themselves down on the floor and if they’re in a spectacular mood, they’ll kick their feet while they’re down there. I used to turn my nose up at it, but you know what? They’re kids. If I misunderstand what one of them is trying to say (ahem, Sean) that can be the sole basis for a temper tantrum. So can the word “no”. As in “No, you can’t stay in the outdoor section of Costco and play in the shed for the next 45 minutes because 1. You have a cold and 2. Because I said so. MOMMY LAW.”

Poor Hubbs had him for the tantrum that ensued, since I was wrangling the girl child and getting her buckled into the basket. And then he was accosted by a Buttinski shopper who proceeded to tell him how he was mishandling the situation. I was waiting for the fallout, but he walked away instead. She looked offended, and started to open her mouth to me as I passed. I cut her off, saying “Mean mommy wouldn’t let him play outside IN THE COLD anymore …” and breezed on by.

What parenting “pitfalls” are you guilty of?

Santa Claus Is Coming … To Torture Your Kids

I’ve got it all figured out: When they’re older and misbehaving, I’m totally going to threaten the kids with having to go see Santa and sit on his lap as punishment.

Its brilliant, because the old elf has to be evil or running a sweatshop or something because otherwise he wouldn’t elicit these reactions:

This from the kid who loves EVERYONE. The elf is evil!

This was Allie’s first experience with Santa. She took one look at his beard and lost it. (Apparently my extreme dislike of beards has been genetically handed down to both kids.)

But what the above picture doesn’t show is Sean losing his freaking mind. We couldn’t get him into the first picture because he wouldn’t let go of Hubbs. Check that: We couldn’t PRY him off Hubbs. He was like Spider Man, holding on with all arms and legs.

And screaming.

At the same time, Allie was arching her back and flinging her torso forward, trying to scoot herself off the jolly man’s lap. So in the interest of actually getting a picture with both kids in it, we took a family picture.

Note the instant calm radiating from Allie. No Santa = no tears! Sean? Not so much.

As soon as I picked her up, Allie stopped crying. She didn’t even mind being near Santa — as long as I was holding her. (Also note: In the picture, both Hubbs and I have the kids sitting on the knee farthest from the fat man.)

Sean had his eyes squeezed shut and  didn’t stop crying until we were out of the building, down the hall, outside, and I had handed him a sippy cup. This obviously means that there is no juice at the North Pole.

Because Santa is evil.

Also, if you appreciate crying Santa pictures, The Poop has a yearly contest. And it is faboo.

The Most Unsympathetic Wife In The World

The Hubbs is playing slow-pitch softball with a bunch of co-workers this year. I have a few feelings about this:

  1. Good for him;
  2. Hey, I want to play too; and
  3. MAN the house is quiet after the kids go to sleep!

Actually, I’d probably benefit more (mentally and likely physically) from an hour of yoga once a week more than I would from playing softball — even though I could totally be that girl on the co-ed team. You know, the one who can actually play better than most of the boys.

And hot damn but that just sounded totally cocky.

I suppose I should explain myself: I used to play fast-pitch softball on a B-league traveling team when I was in high school. I was the pitcher, and I was good. I can say that without feeling like an egomaniac, because its true. And because I worked really freaking hard at it. I was also a decent hitter — normally 5th in the lineup on the traveling team.  I took pitching and hitting lessons once a week. I practiced every day and two times a week I met with a personal trainer to work on endurance and “explosive power.”

My personal trainer was this huge Hawaiian dude named John who had all these signed pictures of celebrities thanking him for getting them in shape. He loves to torture people. “Warming up” usually meant 10 minutes on the stair climber set to “high”. You ever try doing weighted squats when you can barely feel your thighs before you even start? He used to make me hold the “superman” pose with a 15-pound medicine ball balanced on my back for 2 minutes at a time. Then he’d tell jokes/stories/chat while I struggled to breathe and not knock the damn ball over. Good times.

But back to the Hubbs.

His only experience was playing beer-league softball when he was in college. He broke his leg during a practice because someone had left an errant ball in the outfield and he stepped on it. While running. They had to put pins in his leg to fix the break.

10 years later, and he’s back.

He dove for a ball in his first practice and came home with gravel raspberries along the opposite leg and elbow. When I asked him how he got hamburgered on the the opposite side that he dove to, he showed me. Basically, he dove and rolled. Internet, he doesn’t know how to dive. I’m praying he never tries to slide either, because god knows I’d have to pick him up from the ER.

He had his first games yesterday — yes, games. Doubleheader. He was sprinting to first after he made contact with the ball and got himself a lateral glute strain. His first hit during the first game of the season and he pulls a glute. He’s got heart, I’ll give him that — he played both games and pitched during both of them.

When he walked in the door, I rolled my eyes at him. “You’re not limping are you?”

He just grinned. “Yeah.”

Rolling my eyes (again) as I attached buttons to the girl-child’s Halloween costume: “What did you do THIS time?”

I then played 20 questions with him, asking things like: Did you stretch? What stretches did you do? What did you do after you pulled it? Did you stay in the game? And what am I going to do with you?

I checked out his leg, gave him some motrin and sent him into the shower with directions to really soak his leg with the massage setting on the showerhead and to put some white flower (an Asian oil that’s similar to tiger balm) on his thigh when he got out and to massage it really well. At the same time, I popped an ice pack in the freezer.

I suppose I should have been more sympathetic. I should have offered to massage his leg, to get him a drink, to get a pillow to prop his leg on. But that wouldn’t really make his leg feel better. It needs rest, ice, and stretching.

So I continued to work on the Halloween costume (I think its done!) and got him an ice pack when it was cold enough.

I also posted a couple things to my personal Facebook account, basically saying that I need a bubble for him on game days. Something along the lines of a hamster ball with bubble wrap on the inside.

He tweeted this about 15 minutes later:

The nice old lady who sold me a big stack of pain relief products at CVS this morning had more sympathy for my softball injury than my wife.

I’m picking him up some Tiger Balm and hot patches today on my way home. I’ll also try to be a bit more sympathetic. Its either that or challenging him to a crab-walking race.

Mommy Fail

It was a really hard morning.

We were running late because it was my telecommute day, and I like to keep the kids home a little bit longer on those days. We have a nice breakfast together, watch some “Dinosaur Train” or “Sesame Street” and play before we get in the car and go to day care.

A new rule at day care is no toys from home. (We were having sharing/meltdown issues.) It makes for an overall easier day at day care, but has been a major issue when we’re trying to leave. It was part of his routine to pick a “friend”, usually a stuffed animal, to take with him. He still wants to do that every morning. And I have to tell him “no.”

This does not go over well.

Sometimes I can distract him and get to day care without incident. Other times, like today, I imagine the Fates are standing behind me — laughing hysterically. He would not be distracted. He cried all the way to the car. He screamed and flailed around, arching his back and trying to get down when I was buckling him into his car seat. He had just started to calm down when I got him out of the car seat at day care when he saw a toy on the floor of the backseat. Naturally, he wanted to take it with him. And I had to say “no.”

And he lost his little mind again.

I put him in the front seat of the car for a time out, hoping he would calm down. (Sometimes all he needs is a minute to himself.) No such luck. By this time, I had about 10 minutes to get home and signed onto my computer to “get” to work on time. I hadn’t had any coffee.

And I was out of patience.

While profanities were running through my mind, I think the only part that made it out of my mouth was “Oh for the love of …” before I hauled him up, felt an eardrum shatter from his screaming, put him on one hip, grabbed the lunch bag and my daughter (in her car seat) in the other, and trudged up the walkway to day care.

She opened the door before I was able to knock — she heard him from inside — grabbed my daughter and the lunch bag and set them gently on the floor, before taking the squirming, screaming boy from my arms and saying: “Just go, Sweetie. He calms down quicker if you’re not here.”

I called out a “love you guys, be good,” as she shooed me out the door. When I reached the car, I couldn’t hear him crying anymore. He had already stopped.

It wasn’t until I had been working for an hour that the guilt hit. I had lost patience with him because I was breaking his routine and not letting him take a toy to day care. A toy that gave him comfort while he was there and for nap time. Even though our day care provider has a special stuffed animal for him at nap time, its not the same as having his toy there — usually elephant — for comfort.

And then I thought about it a little more: How often during my life will I get frustrated with him or his sister? How many times — if I really think about it — will the cause of the frustration ultimately be my fault?