Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Babysitting Room

We started keeping toys downstairs for Eleanor to play with last summer and shortly after, Charlie began creating his "babysitting room." He would first take one of the baby walkers and "vacuum" the rug in front of the fireplace. Then he would arrange all the toys a certain way around the rug, effectively creating a room.

Ironically, Eleanor is not allowed to touch anything in the babysitting room, despite the fact they are HER toys and she would presumably be the individual requiring said babysitting. It is quite upsetting when Eleanor messes up the babysitting room.

I love this goofball kid. How does he come up with some of this stuff??

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eleanor's Surgery

After all of Eleanor's ear problems, I went ahead and made an appointment at the ENT. Our pediatrician wanted to drag it out a bit longer until we met some arbitrary numbers, but Brad and I were pretty much done seeing her suffer.

The ENT took a look at her fresh-off-Augmentin ears and there was still a bunch of fluid in one. I thought I had been able to tell at least one had cleared up a bit, though, because she had started talking more and picked up a couple new words. Anyways, the ENT agreed tubes were a good idea and the procedure sounded like a piece of cake.

Then we talked about her congestion, which she has had since about birth. I feel like she has always had a stuffy nose and it has always made it difficult for her to sleep. The ENT suggested she may have chronically inflamed adenoids and that they were very simple to remove while they were already there doing the tubes. Great.

Surgery day arrived and I took her in while Brad took Charlie to school. Side note because I love this about Brad: He does not do carpool. When he gets a chance to take Charlie to school, he walks him in, chats with the teachers, hangs out in his class and usually brings some kind of show and tell for Charlie to show off. Friday it was the rocket they are building to launch at the park. Charlie was thrilled to tell me all about Daddy visiting his class when I picked him up.

Anyways, Eleanor and I got to the surgery center bright and early, got paperwork done, she was checked out and we chatted with the anesthesiologist about the procedure. We waited in the kids waiting room where Finding Nemo was on. A nurse came and took her back for surgery. I was told she would almost immediately be given some gas and go to sleep. I waited in the waiting room until they called me back.

She was upset after the anesthesia and she still had an IV in her little hand, wrapped in tape because she kept pulling at it. Her other hand was bandaged too. They couldn't get a vein in that hand. She calmed down in my lap and we laid out on the bed for a while.

(warning: slightly graphic content ahead) The nurse came by and said oh her shirt is dirty, she got sick when they pulled the tube out. Um, what tube? From her being intubated, that's what tube. Between two doctors and a gaggle of nurses, nobody had told me that would happen.

I was given instructions and ear drop prescription, which I was expecting. And an antibiotic prescription, which I didn't expect at all. There wasn't really a great explanation for it when I asked, it was to keep bacteria at bay while her throat healed.

We went home and proceeded to have three of the most painful, sleep deprived nights since she was a newborn. Screaming, crying, up all night kind of nights. Google doctor that I am, I started reading post op instructions for other clinics at 3am Sunday. I noticed a couple of things - most clinics did not prescribe antibiotics and most did prescribe something for the pain.

I called the ENT's nurse on Monday morning and asked for something to make Eleanor more comfortable. When she called back, she could not have been less empathetic or any more dismissive of my concerns. We had a tense conversation, as I apparently didn't understand my role to just nod and say thanks for her crummy advice.

The nurse (and later the doctor, who overheard our tense conversation and called me himself) insisted it was night terrors that were waking up Eleanor and if it wasn't that then it was something that had nothing to do with her surgery. Right. I asked if they wanted to see her and make sure there were no complications. I was told no, complications are very rare, she's not having complications. I mean??

I got off the phone, burst into tears, pulled myself together and began the google doctoring on the night terrors. They're rare, usually start around age 3, not evident in children under 18 months. Also, I know my child and what she is like when she's in pain. She's gone through awful reflux and several ear infections.

Where I eventually had to land in my head was that the ENT was not going to help us.  I knew my daughter was in pain and I would move on for another opinion. It was almost 5 by the time I talked to the doctor so I figured one more night of awful screaming and we'll hit the pediatrician's office.

Fortunately, we didn't have that, she slept mostly well, up a couple of times and not as upset. There's improvement there. It still kills me she had to spend so much time in pain that she would wake up screaming. But she is healing and getting better. In a few weeks the swelling around the site of the adenoids will go down and she will breathe a lot better. Until then, she has some super bad breath as it heals!

Overall, I don't feel like I was prepared for the healing process for the adenoids. The tubes are so simple and the adenoid procedure was described as simple, too. They feel night and day from each other in my head. One is simple and one is complicated. I think what he meant was "simple for HIM." Five minutes of his time to complete it.

The adenoids were very large and I do think she will eventually find a lot of relief in no longer having them. However, I have not found the process we've had to go through to get there to be something I'd want to endure again. Or have Eleanor endure again. I'll probably spend quite a bit of time rehashing in my head what I should have done differently. Once I am not so exhausted.

So on that note - Good night!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Eleanor's Baptism

Eleanor got baptized in mid-November and we were so fortunate to have our very good friends, Sam and Jen come all the way from Arkansas to celebrate with us as Eleanor's godparents. We had not seen them since right before we left for London.

Unfortunately, the night they arrived, after we stayed up late talking, Eleanor's ears started bothering her and she was up most of the night. And then I spent most of the next morning at the pediatrician's office with her. The weekend doctor didn't offer the numbing drops and I didn't know about them yet, so she was in pain until the antibiotics took effect. Sometimes our pediatrician's office really bugs me.

But anyways, after we got her squared away with meds, she and I met up with everyone else at the house for lunch and watching football. Brad took Sam, Jen and Charlie to Pony Pasture. Actually, they dropped Jen off at the mall first! Anyways, everyone came home muddy from all the rain we weren't supposed to have (or shopped out) and ready to watch some games.

Later that day we drove around while Eleanor napped in her car seat and checked out Monument Avenue and Hollywood Cemetery. Rested for a bit and then left the kids with a sitter and went to Carytown. We had dinner at the newly opened Daily Kitchen and then dragged our tired selves home!

The next morning we had some brunch and headed over to the church. I had arranged with our church to do a private ceremony after the main service, just as we had with Charlie. It was fortuitous, with Eleanor not feeling well and being extremely tired. She was fussy and somewhat difficult throughout the whole thing. It would not have been fun in front of a packed church. Who am I kidding, it wasn't really fun. Squirmy worm.

It wasn't quite as crazy as Charlie's baptism, which was performed by the same priest. He told us when we first arrived that there are still some chandeliers swinging in the chapel from that baptism!

We had some food back at the house for everyone that attended, including a very good cake from Whole Foods. Kind of pricey, but real buttercream. I was so relieved I'd ordered it as I'm not sure how I could have found the energy to bake a cake that weekend.

After we finished up with the late lunch, we found out Sam and Jen's flights were in jeopardy due to storms in Chicago where they were connecting. It ended up taking them until the next day to get home. Flying between Richmond and Northwest Arkansas is not for the faint of heart. I think we were all really relieved when they finally made it home. And their two kids were definitely ready for Mom and Dad to be home!

Charlie had a great time all weekend. He loves him some Sammy! And he got to wear his first *real* tie that has to be tied by Daddy. Oh and his first belt. We are nuts for the belt.
I let Eleanor have a little cake. She seemed to like it. Poor thing. Sick for her baptism.

Despite all the problems, it was a great weekend/endurance challenge. As I continue to learn with children, there are no plans that can't be completely torn apart by one kid-related thing or another. It's something that is easy to accept in theory, but so disappointing when it actually takes away from something you were looking forward to. We just had to roll with it. She woke up Monday morning finally looking like she felt better. But Brad, Eleanor and I all have extremely tired eyes in these photos!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Ears

I had the best intentions of keeping up the blog after Halloween. But almost ever since then, we have been dealing with ear issues and things have been a little light in the sleep department around here. While I can usually string together a semi-coherent post when tired, my old laptop doesn't allow for much photo editing and uploading without locking up several times. I usually give up halfway through and go to sleep.

Anyways. Ears. At Eleanor's 9 month appointment there was a little fluid in both ears. Perfectly normal for this time of year. That fluid became an infection during her baptism weekend in mid-November. The fluid never had a chance to go away before we had another infection. And then another one, this time with the bonus of a blister on her eardrum. It was very painful for her and she was up all night screaming. It was the night before Christmas Eve. My mom was here and we were all at a loss as to what to do. Even the ear numbing drops didn't work.

Yes! Ear numbing drops! I think they might be new since Charlie, though he never really had ear infections. But for normal infections, they are so wonderful. They numb the entire ear canal and have been the bridge between us and a few hours sleep on several occasions.

It took two rounds of antibiotics to mostly clear that last infection up. At her one year appointment there was still fluid of the not-clear variety and the doctor said he would probably see us within a week. He was right! She got another infection this week.

Fun fact: our pediatrician said she has both the face shape (longer, narrow) and high palette that make her susceptible to ear infections. For some reason that I'm sure makes perfect sense among the population that has slept this week, those features contribute to infections.

All of these antibiotics, sleepless nights, pain for her - I think we've reached our breaking point. I scheduled an appointment with a pediatric ENT for Monday. We know him; he actually lived two doors down from us for several years and Charlie goes to preschool with his son. And I am going to beg, if necessary, for some tubes for this poor little girl. Get her a few months of relief.
From what I've been told and have read, getting the tubes is a 10 minute procedure under light anesthesia. It takes me longer than that to drive her to the dang pediatrician to get her ears looked at every other week. Sounds like a bargain!

After watching her in pain so many times in a condensed period, not to mention several rounds of antibiotics, some of which are very hard on her tummy, I think this is the best things for her. Hurray for modern medicine and flexible plastic! Cross your fingers for us Monday. 

Friday, November 8, 2013


It was Eleanor's first Halloween! Which she almost didn't have a costume for because both kids were sick the week beforehand and I was almost too tired to remember I had this old duck costume in the attic left over from Charlie's first Halloween. I think she made a lovely duck, don't you? With the little duck head snapped on, she and Charlie look identical. 

Charlie decided he wanted to be a red ninja a few weeks ago, after giving serious consideration to Jango Fett, Luke Skywalker and "white ninja".  I got excited at the prospect of Luke Skywalker, as Eleanor could go as Leia and I thought I could hunt down a Darth Vader mask for Brad. Alas. Maybe next year.

I found an online karate supply store that had some karate/tae kwon do/ninja type costumes and was really pleased with the quality when it arrived. Nice heavy material and strong stitching. Since Charlie will wear this costume for at least another year, it needs to wash well! Poor Batman costume from last year didn't survive the Spring. 

The costume you see above also came with a hood, which we omitted because it seriously took the whole look to an uncomfortable level of KKK resemblance. Clearly not what we were going for and very glad we moved on from white ninja!  I'm not sure why the company includes the hood - looks much more ninja without it.

We kicked off Halloween a week prior, when our preschool had their Pumpkins and Pasta dinner, where the kids get to break in their costumes. Charlie was just getting over the croup but still coughing some. Fortunately, the mask shielded others from germs.
Charlie had a great time with his friends, barely ate anything and just ran around being a ninja with an assortment of ninja turtles and civil servants. By that night he had a fever again and was sick for 3 more days. Ugh. 

We made it out by Sunday (even though Eleanor was still sick) to the University of Richmond's Halloween carnival and Charlie had a great time. He didn't feel like painting pumpkins when there were bouncy castles and s'mores to make, but Brad did and the result was the pumpkin version of Wilson the volleyball:
Am I right?

We all recovered by Halloween and Charlie had his class parade and party that morning. He forgot his mask for the parade, but stayed in character the entire time. He is so method.
This cutie watched the parade with me. She squealed when she saw Charlie.
I had my usual amnesia about what a pain it is to keep an excited child entertained all afternoon until it's time to trick or treat. When will I learn and have some kind of activity planned? It was a long afternoon. Note to future Kara: PLAN SOMETHING.

I had to wake Eleanor up from a mega-nap to get ready for pictures and our neighborhood potluck. We have it each year before trick or treating and it's really fun. LOTS of kids.
Our neighborhood is so fun on Halloween. A lot of homes now decorate and set up tables in their front yards for distributing candy. We make some roadies and walk around with the kids and socialize. It's a blast. Usually there's a bonfire in the cul de sac, but it was 70-ish and we were all sweating instead.

Brad made it home from his work trip in time to scarf down what was left of the potluck and get started on trick or treating. After Eleanor decided she was quite done with all of it, I took her home and passed out candy while Brad took Charlie trick or treating with friends. My helper:
It must have been a long, tiring day for Charlie because he announced to Brad that he was done trick or treating and ready to go home. Last year we had to drag him kicking and screaming back home. He was happy to pick some treats, camp out on the sofa with The Great Pumpkin and pass out candy to the last of the trick or treaters.

Also unlike last year, he has not insisted on going trick or treating every night of the week following Halloween. Our Charlie is growing up! He is now asking about how long until his birthday because he really just wants to turn 5.

Anyways, it was a very Happy Halloween for Ninja Charlie and Duckie Eleanor! HIIIIYAH!

10 Months of Eleanor

Admission: I never wrote a post for 9 months of Eleanor. I can't even find the slip of paper from her 9 month appointment that has her height, weight and percentiles. I remember she was almost 18 pounds and 90th percentile for height. Poor second child, the number of blog posts detailing your life is quite small.

I remember thinking about what I was going to write at the 9 month mark and couldn't think of a ton to write so I'll just mush it all into one. I came back from Cape Cod and she had just turned 9 months and she was crawling up on her hands and knees. She also pulled up for the first time, on the fireplace hearth. And then promptly looked like she had no idea what to do from there. 

There was also a lot of eating, still some getting up at night and the beginning of getting into everything. So far she is not as persistent about it all as Charlie - he would open cabinet doors and really put a lot of effort into Search and Destroy. She is curious, as babies are, but takes a closed door as a sign to move on, not a challenge to overcome. 

I can cover the past two months in saying she loves her brother so much. She is always watching him and reaching for him. We will walk up the stairs with him right ahead of us and she is lunging to grab his hair or smack him - anything to get his attention. I started putting her in the bath tub with him last month and they have a blast playing together. He makes her laugh and it, in turn, makes my heart melt.

Eleanor now notices music and will start bouncing up and down to the tune. It's like a reflex! She'll hear a little blip of something on the tv or Charlie and I will sing a song and she stops whatever she is doing and breaks it down. Like it's her job. It's really cute. 

She's making some sounds out of her babbling - the mamamamama and dadadadada. I can tell she wants to call Charlie something but can't quite figure out what. It will be neat to see what baby nickname he gets. Today, at just past 10 months old, she looked up when I walked in the room and said mama. I about died. 

She's also just learned to clap for things and it is beyond adorable. She'll just start clapping and I suddenly remember why it's sad when the baby phase is over. Sure, you're sleeping more, but there's no adorably clumsy clapping of the chubby hands.

Eleanor got sick again this past month. Charlie had a virus and then she got sick, though not majorly like he did. She does not have Brad's asthma lungs like Charlie, so it was a minor virus. With some very major diaper rash. Not fun.

Her top two center teeth broke through around the same time, so I'm not sure if some of the fever and congestion (or even diaper rash) were due to those. They are such cute little teeth. I see some white in the surrounding gums, so I think more are coming. Man I hate teething.

I just realized some time in the past couple of months that she has completely stopped spitting up. Maybe it the last time was actually a while ago - I'm not sure. The stains are there, but we have moved past that particular phase.

I'm starting to have way too much fun dressing her. We have reached the end of the line on most of the baby gifts and hand me downs, so I am frequently on a quest to find her cute outfits. It is about the most fun thing ever. I love finding things I myself would love to wear. Jeggings, cute shoes, cardigans, tunics - it is so fun. Because she is so long, she is in 18 month clothing right now. I would like her to just stay this size for a little while so we can enjoy the clothes!

She loves to eat table food and will eat just about anything. I can't tell you how many frustrating dinners I go through where Charlie will turn down just about anything. Eleanor, on the other hand, will eat it all. She especially loves meat. And cheese - even very pungent cheese! I attribute this to her first few months in utero taking place in a country that has truly exceptional cheese. 

We took Charlie and Eleanor to Chipotle last weekend and I don't think two children in the world could have enjoyed dinner as much as they did. Charlie kept taking bites and saying "This is the BEST food!" and Eleanor ate a bunch of my carnitas, rice, beans and guacamole. It's neat to go somewhere and just eat what they're serving. So easy!

She is taking two naps a day, usually a shorter one in the morning and a longer one in the afternoon. I try to schedule them right after we drop Charlie off at preschool in the morning and again after we pick him up. She seems to sleep best when she has both naps. Overtired has never been good for Eleanor.

That's all I can think of. In a few weeks she will be 11 months and then her first birthday will be upon us. I can't believe it. It really does go by in a blink.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Niece!

Isn't she adorable?? We found out Megan and Bruce were expecting a baby ages ago and I have had to keep it mostly a secret since then. Killer! But they had their "big" ultrasound yesterday and are now sharing the big news! In other words, it's Facebook Official!

And they are having a girl!! We all thought it was a boy. Her morning sickness has been similar to what I experienced with Charlie and we all just had that boy instinct. My family was 2 for 2 on guessing the gender of my kids.

I am usually wrong in guessing gender, though. I thought Charlie was a girl and Eleanor was a boy. So if you need an accurate indicator, ask what I think and go with the opposite!

Eleanor and her new cousin will be just over a year apart in age. It will be so fun to have two little girls close enough in age to be good friends.

Charlie was on the phone with me yesterday when Megan called to share the good news. He was so excited! He asked what they were going to call the baby and I told him that they haven't decided yet. He must be studying the 50 states in school because he suggested Carolina and New Jersey as possible names.

I can't wait for April to get here so I can meet this little peanut! She is already as cute as can be.