Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paging Neddy Bear

Neddy Bear, my teddy bear - when did you get so grown up? It may sound crazy but between Saturday and Sunday you look like you grew two inches and your hands and feet got longer. Completely unprompted by me both your Grandpa and Nanny April said the same thing!

I miss my little snuggler who would gently touch my face and coo at me. This little boy that has appeared out of thin air is willful and not always very nice to his sister. He screams bloody murder when we try to get him dressed for bed but if we let him roam the (unbabyproofed) portions of the house he'll reward us with happy shrieks. This little boy still eats well but he likes to throw food and sippy cups on the floor and laugh when you tell him "no" and pout when he doesn't get his way.

Thanks, Neddy Bear, for introducing the Esq. Family to The Toddler Years.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Stroller: Review of Chicco Twin Trevi

I had been contemplating buying a twin umbrella stroller for months. Just for those occasions when one parent or the nanny needs to take both kids on an errand or a play group. Our Bob stroller is great - but it is heavy and a bit unweildy to get in and out of the car. The Bob is more for walking/parks then for malls/stores. I went to the Baby Furniture Warehouse in Reading and impulsively bought the cheapest stroller they had - a Chicco Twin Trevi (for $180 with sales tax- stupid increased sales tax, "temporary" my ass).

We tested the new stroller out last night at the Burlington Mall with a stop for dinner at Legal Seafood's where the kids didn't eat any fish or nicely grilled veggies but did gobble up french fries (sigh).

1. Maneuverability. Very good - the front wheels can be locked or freely swivel. Perfect for running the kids in circles when their daddy is off trying on Gap clothes and they are cranky. It also fits through doorways and elevators much, much more easily than the Bob. That is the primary reason why I got the new stroller.

2. Collapsible. Also very good. I had the guy in the store show me twice and it is no problem. You can't do it with one hand but hey, my kids can wait in their car seats while I set it up and put it away. And it folds small enough that it fits next to the captain chair in the middle seat instead of in the way back.

3. Seats. Narrow. Ned and Penny were able to play tug of war on Ned's lovey (which he thought was hysterical). But they "sit up" very well - I like a less reclined seat so they can see more. It also reclines at least 45 degrees (I didn't put it all the way back so it may recline further) if you like that feature.

4. Handles. I would have preferred one handle but a double collapsible umbrella stroller with one handle for cheap is pretty much impossible to find. The height is not adjustable but it is fine for my husband (5' 10'') and me (5' 3'').

5. Storage. It is even better than the Bob. One basket under each kid and very easy to get to for shopping bags or diaper bags. And there is an adult cupholder!

6. Sun/rain cover. This will mostly be an indoor stroller so we didn't even attach it but they looked pretty deep and were individual (which I don't really care about).

7. Straps. This is the feature I actively dislike about the stroller and not one I thought to "try out" in the store. The straps themselves are fine - they seem comfortable enough - but it is a pain to actually snap the straps into the harness. I had to move the fabric cover off the harness point to more easily snap them into place. They are also tough to unsnap. If anyone has handy tricks how to deal with this flaw I'd appreciate it.

8. Durability. The fabric seems durable and only time will tell about the wheels, but I don't expect to be out in the woods or non-pavement surfaces with this stroller so I think it will do just fine.

While I do not want to have buyer's remorse I'd still be interested in hearing what umbrella/store strollers you like.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

None For Daddy

When Husband decides he wants breakfast after the kids have eaten they usually decide a second breakfast is in order. Mommy, Esq. is smart enough to eat her breakfast standing up in the kitchen while cleaning up kids' breakfast. This reminds me of when I was a kid my mom always complained she never got a cup of Tab (and later Diet Coke) to herself. What food item do you find impossible to eat around your kids?

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Word and Cute Phone Pic

It took me a week or so to accept it but Ned is saying his first real word! Both kids have said "all done" occasionally but not consistently so I decided that phrase didn't count. Ned is obsessed with animals - he squeals in delight with dogs and shrieks with joy at the sight of Scotia. "Kitty" is his first word. He crawls toward her saying "titty, titty" (hee!) but you can sort of hear a "k" too.

I have yet to test if he understand that word with respect to all cats or just Scotia. Don't you love "experimenting" on your kids? What was your kid(s)'s first word?

Also, Penny loves sticking her tongue out - but she always puts it to the side. Here's a mobile phone photo to play along with Laura's Phone Fridays.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where is My 80s Teen Movie Music Montage?

I love teeny-bopper movies. And no movie is complete without the music montage that shows the heroine (or hero) making efforts to succeed, all set to inspirational music. When I get a little worn down by the effort of "figuring life out" I wish I had a musical montage to step in and show me the way. The song choice is different from my "theme" song. Currently I'm thinking "Eye of the Tiger". What would your musical montage song choice be?

Ned and Penny went to their friend Harry's first birthday this past weekend at a park. Harry's wagon was a big hit - although Penny was a bit unsure when both Harry and Ned decided to push her. Don't they look adorable in their fleece jackets my mom got them at LL Bean?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Penny Surgery News

Husband here...

Good news--Penelope's surgery went just fine. I'm sure Wife will have more details for everyone, since she's been at the hospital dealing with everything. Wife is still there now, since they're keeping Penny overnight for observation, but not for any particular issue...just general precaution. I think they just couldn't bear to see such a cute little girl go. (We need to post pictures/video of her sticking her tongue out. Adorable.)

Special thanks to Wife's Mom for helping out yesterday and going to the hospital with Wife today, and to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, calls, and e-mails wishing Penny well.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Phone Photo Friday

Uncle Andrew took this of Ned in Maine during our long weekend there. Too bad neither kid actually likes wearing a hat for any extended period of time.

I've been lacking on the posting front but lots has been going on - after work commitments, job worries, organizing our home office (yeah!) and general "life crap". Penny's surgery is Monday so I'll update when we are back home. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cheers to the IRS. Jeers to Mass DOR.

Husband here...

If you know me personally, you're probably as surprised as I am to hear me say the first part. But really, I mean it. (You're probably not at all surprised by the second part, though.)

It all comes back to those pesky Nanny-related taxes. Overall, the feds have been just fine to deal with. A single taxing authority, everything handled easily electronically, and fully integrated into Intuit Online Payroll. (I still hate paying so much in taxes, but at least they make it straightforward.) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the other hand, is a pain in the ass. Multiple taxing authorities, cumbersome and confusing online tools, multiple ridiculous forms...and nothing gets handled automatically by Intuit.

Two interactions this week (by mail) have really sealed the deal.

Over the weekend, I got a letter from the IRS. (Crap.) Turns out they were notifying me about a penalty I owed for paying the Nanny's withholding tax a couple weeks late last month. Which I absolutely did, and knew I was late and would owe a penalty when I did it. (Slipped my mind when I was working through our Vineyard vacation, you know?) But the letter was to let me know they were waiving the penalty (~$100, so not chump change), and just letting me go with a warning to please pay up promptly next time. Who ever expected to be surprised and delighted by the IRS?

And then today, the Mass. Department of Revenue weighs in. Nothing to do with late payments; their deadlines are different and I paid them on time. No, they say I owe them $1,200 in back taxes, interest, and penalties for failing to file in JANUARY--before our Nanny even started with us. Ridiculous. Now I presumably have to prove somehow that she WASN'T working for us then. You know, I think one of the many forms I've had to send in specifically required you to specify the start date for each of your employees--but that one went to the Dept. of Workforce Training, or something. They apparently don't chat so much with DOR. So this is just one more thing to deal with.

All in all, nice work Mass DOR. Bad enough to steal my money (and the Nanny's, with me as your agent) at gunpoint. But do you have to make it such a hassle?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sugar and Everything Nice

Many parents are concerned about the amount of sugar their kids ingest. At a year old though my kids haven't had much by way of sugar. Sodium, now that's another frustrating matter entirely, but I digress.

I was thrilled to find Cherrybrook Kitchens makes a cake and frosting mix that doesn't contain soy and we substituted butter flavored Crisco for margin (which by the way does have milk in it and I've never been able to find this "dairy free" margerine the boxes talk about - even at Whole Foods). Husband even checked to make sure that "butter flavor" mentioned in the Crisco doesn't have dairy - according to the Interwebs people have called and the company says it does not.

At their birthday party the kids had their very first cupcakes complete with frosting. I admit the cupcakes were sort of "oily" but hey, when you are dealing with allergies you do what you can. They both loved the treats! Think of the calories that Penny ingested! By the way, Husband was annoyed because I didn't give him advance warning and he didn't record the candle blowing out or birthday song. Next year, kids!

Speaking of allergies, I think I forgot to mention that Penny's skin tests were inconclusive - including the histamine control which is supposed to react - so we had to do blood tests. She tested "positive" for allergy to chicken, beef, peas and peanuts. Rice, eggs, potatoes and wheat are okay, thank goodness. We are keeping her off turkey too since that is often hand-in-hand (beak-in-beak?) with chicken allergies. Soy and milk were negative but they want us to keep her off those anyway - apparently all allergy testing that shows a negative result isn't conclusive. We have more tests in her future since they only tested for 11 items.

I bribed Ned at Whole Foods today with a cookie - worked like a charm. It was organic so that's good, right? Heee!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Endless Beeping

The beeping is driving us crazy. Back when Penny went on oxygen she couldn't roll or crawl - she slept on her back and pretty much left the nasal cannula alone. Fast forward two months and we have a very different and determined little girl...who "desats" all night long - starting when we sit down for dinner. As her pulminologist understated "oxygen can be challenging in kids her age". It is much worse dealing with the damn beeping than the 2x a night crying/feeding I did when they were infants.

My blog has a limited audience but I think if anyone else has to deal with this (I'm starting to feel like we are the only parents in this situation) they might be happy to have our "experiments" to help them.
  • Mask. We started using a mask instead of a nasal cannula because it was easier to readjust it in the middle of the night (instead of taping the nasal cannula). If you up the O2 level it can function a bit like a "blow-by". But Penny is a stomach sleeper and turns her head a lot so we had to go in to adjust it all the time. We have now pretty much abandoned the mask.
  • Duaderm on her cheeks (near nose), one tegaderm on top, then cannula, then another tegaderm to secure it. The nurse advised this but Penny still pulls them off.
  • Pediatric arm restraints. Husband hates them but I think they do work. Last night after our 15th trip into the room I put them on her, then taped the nasal cannula in place. I didn't have to go in there again. By the time we went in (at 7:30 am!) she had managed to remove one restraint. When the other came off she sat up and pulled the tape/cannula off before I even had the chance to do so.

  • Cannula behind the head. We are supposed to secure it under her chin. Making it a million times easier to pull off. I guess there is a chocking risk about having it behind her head (because when she pulls it off it goes around her neck) but since she is on a heart/O2 monitor it is hard to get really exercised about that risk.
  • Cutting the nasal cannula. We cut off the prongs. Her nose is runny (has been for 3 months) and she was always rubbing at her nose when the prongs were in. Instead the nasal cannula "holes" are just under her nose. Since she is also a mouth breather some O2 could also make its way into her mouth. Husband is going to try to take a tube and glue it to a pacifier to see if she'll keep it in that way.
  • Trading "shifts". We keep thinking this is a "temporary" situation and have been dealing with it on an ad-hoc basis. Lots of sighing and "can you go in this time" conversations. We need to be better about "assigning" nights so the other parent can get some rest (maybe in the guest room so he/she isn't subject to the endless beeping?).

Our pulmonologist is trying to move up her surgery (not looking likely) and offered to check her into the hospital if we need a break. I think that is a waste of medical resources and would be tough on us as a family. I'd love to have an oxygen tent but they aren't used any more because of fire risk.

The crazy thing is that I know I'm going to miss the monitor when it hopefully (God, please) is gone. It's a constant reassurance that my baby girl is alive. I suspect once it is gone I'll be getting out of bed to check on them both more often like I did before Penny went on oxygen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It Really Was a Labor Weekend For the Grandparents

We finally took the kids up to my parents' house in Maine on Sebago Lake. Summer plans, sick kids, difficulty traveling while on O2 all conspired to push our first visit out until the last unofficial weekend of the summer.

My parents really brought their A-Game. The kids were fed and entertained and Husband and I got some down time. As you can see we needed it:

Penny spent lots of quality time with her Bumpa.

Ned was stuffed full of Sunday pancake breakfast made by Grammy.

The tykes enjoyed various "adult" activities including a ride in a motor boat, splashing in a jacuzzi and playing with wine (ahem, corks). My parents started to appreciate what it means to "baby-proof" a room again.

I am a bit hesitant about next year when they are walking since the house is nothing but outdoor rocks (with fall-offs into the water) and rock-made stairs but I'm sure we'll go up for at least a couple of weekends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Countdown Clock

I was going to title this post Monday Meandering or Monday Musings but then I realized it was Tuesday.

1. We saw signs for a million yard sales in Maine and I really don't get them. In my mind all they do is transfer crap from one house to another. Theme sales - all baby stuff or something are fine, but the yard sales we saw were more along the lines of "look, here is all the crap I've accumulated for the last 10 years and don't want to keep around any more so give me $5". I'm really anti-clutter so it probably affects my point of view. If I can I donate to charity and the rest we throw away.

2. Husband and I have been up 12+ times a night for what feels like weeks with a Little Lady who will not keep a nasal cannula in or an O2 mask (that we aren't supposed to be using) on her face. After a THREE MINUTE (no joke) meeting with Penny's ENT (I mean, come on, can't we do this crap by phone instead of taking 1/2 a day off work and dragging her into Boston) - her adenoidectomy has been scheduled for Monday, September 21. Since we don't have a time yet I am counting down to bedtime.

3. After spending time considering what food he ate that could possibly result in the rash on Ned's hands and feet our Nanny pointed out he has hand, foot and mouth disease. Husband and I were all "d'oh!".* You know Penny is going to get it. I refuse to bring him to the doctors - it's a virus and there is nothing they can do about it other than charge me a $20 co-pay.

*There was going to be this awesome pic to illustrate but it has crashed my computer 4 times.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stats and Schedules

The kids saw the pediatrician on Friday. Penny weighed in at 15 lbs, 4 oz, 28.5 inches tall and 17 inches for head. Obviously not on the growth curve chart but starting to grow so I'm happy. Ned weighed in at 20 lbs, 15 oz, 29.25 inches tall and 18.25 inches for head - 25% across the board (except his head which was 50%). We all really expected him to be bigger - I guess the comparison to Penny makes him seem large.

I haven't done a "schedule" post since this one in February but I've been thinking about their schedule for a while - it has obviously changed in the last 7 months and now we're transitioning Ned to milk/sippy/straw cups. We have to keep Penny on her special formula and she doesn't do well on the sippy cup. Fortunately if Ned has his straw cup he doesn't seem jealous of Penny's bottle. So here is the rundown at year old*:

6:00-6:30: Wake up. Usually Ned first and Penny sometimes sleeps until 7:00. Diaper changes and bottles with 10 mins of waking up (small one for Ned). Eventually this will be a straw cup for Ned but I'm not ready to let the bottle go. Husband flits in and out but basically gets ready for work.

7:15: Breakfast. Some days I strip Ned down and let him practice feeding himself yogurt (it can be disastrous). Penny will only eat Os or 1/2 a breakfast bar. If they are up early we may do breakfast as early as 7:00 am.

7:30 am: I get the kids ready in the playroom - put them in clothes, "brush" their teeth. Play time until 8:30 am.

8:30 am: Husband leaves; Nanny April arrives. I get ready for work. If they sleep "late" I shower before they get up - I pretty much get up at 6:30 unless someone (ahem, Mr. Ned!) makes me get up earlier.

9:00 am: I leave for office. Kids go down for naps around 9:30 am.

11:00 am: Up from naps. Penny gets a bottle; Ned gets a straw cup with whole milk. We tried to have him in the highchair in the other room while she did her bottle but she kept getting distracted.

11:20ish am: Lunch. Penny eats a Pringle, throws the other real food on the floor. Ned chows.

11:40 - 1:30 pm: Playtime.

1:30-3:30 pm: Nap.

3:30 pm: Bottle for Penny; Ned gets straw cup with whole milk. Small snack after in their highchairs.

4:00 pm: Walk, then play time.

5:30 pm: Nanny April prepares dinner for Ned. Husband comes home if not travelling.

5:45/6 pm: Penny gets bottle. Ned has dinner with straw cup of milk. Penny joins him in the highchair around 6 pm and throws her food on the floor unless we give her puffs or dried fruit. Pretty sure she hasn't had a vegetable in about 2 months.

6:30 pm: Bathtime. I try to sneak in some playtime if I get home from work - it makes me feel relaxed and happy. When Husband does bedtime alone (most nights) the kids go straight from highchairs to bathtub.

6:45 pm: Dressed, bottles (only 4 ounces for Ned; whatever Penny didn't eat at 5:45 pm) and brush teeth (we are struggling with that one).

7:00 pm: Lights out after book and song.

9:00 pm-4:30 am: Penny pulls out her nasal cannula 5-10 times until we give up and take it off her and shut off the O2 monitor.

*Note: This does not include Penny's medicine regime.

Current favorite obsessions - "book nook" and my old sunglasses. They will spend 15-30 mins just flipping through books. It's incredible.