Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Progress aka "The Grass is Starting to Turn Green"

So overall good things have been happening with minor setbacks, but that's life. Smurf 3 has been home for a month after spending a week in the PICU with bronchitis.  He required a small amount of oxygen to come home (0.1 liters of airflow; the consistently of having a fan blowing in your face) but has been off it for over two weeks now.   Now that he's finally not sick he has time to start acting like a baby.  Right now he's showing a lot of progress with developmental skills but he is expected to be behind at this point because he was premature and spent a lot of time hospitalized with issues.  At 4 1/2 months he is still working on holding his head up and coordinating objects with his hands.  However he can roll over onto his side from his stomach and will even military crawl about six inches if he can get traction on his feet (the boy has some strong leg muscles!).  He is just at 10 pounds, so he's still a small Smurf. However we've noticed that he has very little body fat and is eating/feeding a lot right now.  I mean this kid goes through 3 oz. of formula per bottle as well as having applesauce as a filler.  About an hour and a half later (unless asleep) he will want the same amount.  We've had to start adding rice cereal to this bottles just to make them last longer.  So if we can fatten him up that would be a good thing!

Smurfs 1 and 2 continue to amaze me.  Sure they're pains in the ass a good portion of the day, but they are definitely learning a lot about socialization, helping others, and empathy.  Smurf 2 is really sensitive to the feelings of others, whereas Smurf 1 (being a boy) has the attention span of... me.  So when he bounces from topic to topic and barely pauses to apologize for something wrong he did I can follow him without thinking about it.  However, my wife will stop the both of us and make sure he backtracks to the apology and understands why he was in the wrong. 

Kid logic is so funny to me.  Smurfs 1 & 2 can come up with an excuse for anything in the world, and it actually makes sense in their limited view of the world.  I've heard stories about why cookies can be eaten before dinner, why it's okay to leave a room messy, and how writing a lot can lead to a hand injury (now that was funny!). 

My stress is less because we're getting into a better routine at the home.  Granted I still have to work in the evenings now and try to take care of the house (which is a war i'm still losing) but it's worth it to be home with Smurf 3.  I've definitely got to improve my home organization skills and learn to balance the time with my work requirements.  At least my mind isn't as scattered as it was a few months ago.  Hopefully things will continue to improve.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Month of Stuff, aka "When Life Gives you Lemons..."

I've been wanting to post something over the past month, but have not had the time due to a variety of things.  There have been several ups and downs, all the while my stress levels have not seen a decrease.  So, here's a brief summation:

Up - Smurf 3 finally came home!  He is on several medications but we're able to maintain them and keep track of what's needed at what times.  He is more alert and active than he was in the hospital, and his siblings are CONSTANTLY checking on him.  When I say checking, I mean they: talk to him, hug him, kiss him, want to hold him, read to him, rub his head, give him his bottle/pacifier, etc.  It's a little overwhelming at time, and we have to continue reminding Smurf 1 and 2 to give him some space.

Down - I've noticed that since he's been home it's been hard for my wife to get into a rhythm with the other two Smurfs.  She spends most of her time with Smurf 3 (which is expected), so i'm monitoring the others.  This means I do most of the homework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bathing, and bedtime with them.  So of course if she reprimands them or gives directions, they ask me if they can do it (which bugs both of us).  I'm trying to keep them to a routine and integrate Smurf 3 into it, but because he hadn't been home long we have to worry about his health and safety.  ugh.

Down - the hospital we were at sucked.  Well, the hospital itself was okay, but the nursing staff in the NICU sucked.  If you ever have a young child that needs to go to a hospital, DO NOT take them to a teaching hospital.  I don't care what kind of experts they have, the day-to-day pains of dealing with ignorant, crappy, and uncaring nurses is not worth it.  They get rotated each shift, so it was rare to have the same nurse two days in a row.  That sucked because they wouldn't know Smurf 3 and would try things that, if they had been there before, would know did not work with him.  Or they were lazy and didn't care (or at least gave that appearance).  There was one nurse who was so lazy that she spent the entire time on the computer doing a wedding registry.  Luckily my wife was able to sit there all day with him, so she was able to advocate for Smurf 3 and call the nurses out on what they were doing.  If it wasn't for her, they would not have moved as fast or informed us of what was going on.  The staff there (doctors and nurses) would try to talk around or over my wife regarding care and progress instead of with her, and so she started speaking up and dictating what they would and would not do.  If she hadn't, he would have had several unnecessary procedures and probably would still be sitting there. If possible I do not ever want to go there again.

Up - No jealousy from the siblings.  As I mentioned earlier, they are constantly checking on him and want to help take care of him.  I haven't seen any signs of jealousy; it makes  me proud. However...

Down - they do worry about him.  Each day I pick up the Smurfs from school they ask if he's still at home or the hospital.  If he coughs or make a noise, both immediately stop whatever they are doing to check on him.  They are diligent that he gets his medications as well (remember, they are only 3 & 4).  It makes me sad that they worry about him because of the lengthy hospital stay, and at their age they should be having more fun than worries.  This leads into the next thing...

Down - Today we had to take Smurf 3 to the ER.  He was having some fast breathing for the past two days, and this morning while drinking a bottle he started crying again.  He then turned purple and had trouble breathing.  I tried to clear his airway and give pats on the back, but they didn't work. My wife did rescue breaths while I called 911, which seemed to work immediately.  At the hospital every test is turning up negative (which is no surprise given his history), lungs were clear, heart was strong, etc.  They suspect an upper respiratory infection because he did have some mucus and required oxygen for saturation and reduce his respiration rate.  So right now he's in PICU at the hospital with my wife.  I'm at home with the other two Smurfs and had to explain to them why he was in the hospital.  I told them he got sick and the doctors wanted to check him and let him stay for a few days to make sure he was no longer sick.

Up and Down - Vising the hospital was fine for the Smurfs.  They actually took it in stride and asked a few questions; otherwise they did not act bothered.  After the visit, however, Smurf 1 told me he was nervous about going because he thought Smurf 3 was going to look bad.  Smurf 2 just processed the situation by talking out loud to me and her brother was asking for reassurance.  That really broke my heart to hear the both of them, but I reassured them that everything is okay.

Up - My wife is holding up better than I am.  She was freaking out when he turned blue, but working together helped her out.  She said she's now just hanging out there with him, watching t.v. and waiting.  Also, the doctors at the hospital (which is the one we prefer) have been upfront with everything, asked questions, gave information, and have been receptive to feedback.  Right now it's a waiting game until he is well enough to go home.  Me, i'm a basketcase because i'm not there.  However, it's easier for me to be with the other two Smurfs because we have a routine that works for us.  If I was at the hospital I would annoy the hell out of everyone with constant questions. Plus, I cannot sit still for any length of period unless i've got busy work.

Up and Down - no idea what i'm going to do for work.  As is, with doctor appointments, Smurf 3 coming home, and keeping up the home (which still looks awful) I'm not doing as much work as I should to bring in money.  Since my job ends soon, I need to figure out what i'm going to do to at least have some income.  However, I've gotten to the point where I just don't care and have decided not to stress about it.  If i work, I work; if not, then "oh well." 

I've been reciting a hilarious rant in my head to keep me sane over the past month. It works some of the times, but I should probably replace it.  It's Cave Johnson from Portal 2.  It's a rant about life giving you lemons and what to do with them.  I'm going to keep trying to keep my head above water and not go crazy on someone (although I did come close today).  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Loud and Proud, aka "Kids Say the Weirdest Things"

The Smurfs have been able to visit Smurf 1 in the hospital since Friday, which has been the highlight of their day each time.  It's quite a pain at times because they are either too aggressive or passive when visiting.  Smurf 1 just cannot stand still and wants to push on him and grab his head.  Smurf 2 acts as if Smurf 3 has the plague and is tentative about going near him.  However, after we have left she talks about him as if she was taking care of him and had a great time.   So on the first day they got to visit, both were understandably excited.  They were asking a bunch of questions, looking at stuff, saying how cute Smurf 3 was, etc.  Well, his diaper needed to be changed, and surprisingly Smurf 1 wanted to watch (Smurf 2 has backed away several steps because she's just timid in this situation).  When his diaper comes off, Smurf 1 notices that Smurf 3 has an inflated belly button.  He has a small hernia that makes his belly button inflate, but it's supposed to correct itself.  Anyway, he looks at it and declares (quite loudly):

"Look! He has a belly penis!"

 A couple of the nurses tried their hardest not to laugh, but it couldn't be helped.  I laughed so hard I started coughing.  It's not a misspoken word or phrase, but i'm counting it as one.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Life Sucks at Times, aka "What's Going On?"

Well, just when we thought Smurf 3 would be coming home, he develops several problems at once.  His stomach became distended, and it's just full of air.  They cannot find any reason why at this point, so that's frustrating.  Then, his liver is showing enlarged veins but looks healthy; however, his test levels are coming back high.  They tried a medication, but he's starting to look jaundiced and every flarking test is coming back negative.  So now they're moving him to a hospital 45 minutes away because the pediatric liver specialist (didn't even know you could get THAT specialized) is at this other hospital.  I'm just frustrated and upset that we don't know what's wrong with him and how to fix it at this point.  He's wanting to eat, but because of the stomach issues they can't allow him to eat until the air is out of his intestines.  Even though he's getting IV nutrients, he's wanting a bottle. 

So now my wife will have to spend even more time at the hospital and driving during the day, which means i'm going to have to go back to doing drop offs and pick ups of the other two Smurfs.  Plus, if i'm going to be able to visit Smurf 3 while maintaining my job I will need to keep going at night.  So instead of getting home around 1 a.m. I probably won't get back until 2 or later, and that's if I don't shorten my time with Smurf 3.  Not to mention the extra strain this will place on my ability to work to make enough money to cover all our current and extra bills.  After all of this I think the credit card companies actually own a piece of my asss

I'm not mad or frustrated at anyone, just at the situation.  I appreciate all the doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that have been trying to figure this out; I just wish this would end so I could have my entire family home.

We haven't been telling anyone about the medical issues, but there have been messages asking about when he would come home.  My wife doesn't want to tell anybody anything, but I'd rather just tell them and then say whether or not we want any help or visitors rather than just ignoring everyone.  I appreciate that people care and want to know, but I don't want the headache of people trying to visit, offering to cook, clean, etc.  I laughed when one of my sister-in-laws offered to cook dinner for us when she doesn't even cook for her own family; she has most take-out places on speed dial.  To be honest the only help that has been worth it has been my neighbor, who mowed my backyard without saying anything or wanting recognition. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anansi Story, aka "Making S**t Up as I go Along"

 visit Smurf 3 in the hospital at night.  My wife spends most of the day with him, getting all the information, asking questions, following up, etc.  We then spend the evenings and nights with the other two Smurfs, and after everyone has gone to sleep (and i've done some work), then I go visit Smurf 3 until about 1 a.m.  It makes for a crazy schedule, but as long as i'm not sick (which I have been the past few days), then I don't miss a night.
One of the things that i like to do (which i've probably mentioned before) is that I like to tell him stories.  The simple fact is I can't sit still for long and my mind wanders rather quickly.  Therefore, I've found that if I'm telling him stories while holding him, then I have an easier time of sitting there and not just staring at the clock and looking around the NICU room being nosy.  I don't tell the traditional type stories either (little red riding hood, mother goose nursery rhymes, etc.) because I can sleepwalk through those.  Rather I tell him stories about Anansi the spider or Tabu and the Dancing Elephants, or I will make something up along those lines.  Here is one story that i've adapted from an Anansi story about his meeting with Death

A long time ago, Anansi was taking a walk outside of his village.  He had heard of an old man who lived outside of the village who didn't do anything but sit and stare.  He decided to see if he could play one of his tricks on him.  Soon he came to a house with a very, very, VERY old man sitting outside the door. The old man looked like skin and dry bones. Anansi walked up to him and said : 
"Good day sir! I have been walking all morning and would love to have a cool drink of ice water."

However, the old man said nothing.

Anansi, who thought that the old man might have been deaf, walked closer to the seated figure and repeated in a loud voice.


Nevertheless, the old man said nothing.

Anansi scratched his head and said, "Oh, you said to go inside the house and help myself?"

The old man still said nothing to Anansi.

Anansi walked past the old man and went into his house and not only helped himself to ice cold water but to as much food as he could eat. When he had finished eating, Anansi went outside to see the old man who was sitting in the same spot by the door. Anansi thanked him for his hospitality and returned home.

The next day Anansi went to the house of the old man and again ate his fill. Still, the old man said nothing to Anansi. On the third day, Anansi the spider went to the old man's house again to eat his fill of food.  However, when he went inside he noticed that all the food was rotting or old.  He went back outside to the old man and said:

"What happened to your food? What kind of hospitality is this?"

Finally, the old man spoke in a deep raspy voice. “Do… you …know… who… I… am?”

“Yes.” Anansi said. “You are the old man outside of the village who does nothing!"

"Hah!” The old man rasped. “My name is Death and you came looking for me. I did not invite you into my house. Now I am going to have you for lunch," Brother Death said as he grabbed Anansi by the shirt.

Anansi tore the buttons from his shirt, slipped out of it and ran for his life. He ran as fast as he could in the belief that he could easily outdistance an old man like Brother Death. However, wherever Anansi turned, Death was right behind him. Finally, out of desperation, Anansi lunged for a tree limb and climbed as high as he could. To his surprise, Brother Death did not follow Anansi up the tree. Death could not climb!

Brother Death picked up a rock, an old shoe, anything that he could find, and threw them at Anansi. They all missed. Death could not throw either. He soon ran out of things to throw. Death finally sat down facing the tree and said to Anansi:

"I am Death and no one gets away from me.  I will sit here until you get tired and have to come down; then you will be mine!"

Anansi, holding onto a tree branch, thought to himself:  "He's right. I have no food, water, and no place to sleep.  My arms will get tired soon and then he will eat me up!"

Just then, Anansi noticed that the tree had silkworms hanging off the branches.  He thought "Aha!  I can use the silk from the silkworms to make myself a little nest or bed on the branches and leaves"

So, while hanging onto the branches with 4 of his legs, Anansi used his other 4 legs to collect all the discarded silk left by the silkworms.  He then tried to make a bed of them, but they just lumped together into a ball. However, it was better than him hanging onto the branch, so he settled into his little ball.  He looked down and Death and said "Ha! Now I won't get tired and can outlast you up here!"

Death just stared at him and said "You may have a place to stay, but you don't have any food or water.  Eventually you will get hungry and have to leave to eat or pass out and fall to the ground.  Either way, you are mine!"

Anansi thought about how he was going to get some food.  He couldn't eat leaves because they made him sick, and the tree he was in didn't have any fruit!  Just then, several insects came flying by, taunting Anansi about his predicament.  

"Aw, poor Anansi!"

"Look at him, stuck in a tree and no place to go but down!"

"Shouldn't have messed with old man Death!"
He turned to them and said "I will make a meal out of you if you don't leave me alone!"  But they kept buzzing around him, laughing at him.  He swatted at them, but they flew too far out of his range.  He then thought "If only I had a net, I could catch them easily and then I would have something to eat!"   

As he sat in his ball of silk, he realized that part of it was sticky.  He decided to make a fishing net out of the silk and began trying to throw it at the insects.  However, they saw what he was doing and simply moved out of the way.  Anansi then remembered that the most successful fishermen in his village would set up a net and wait for the fish to come to them, so he took his net and placed it between several leaves of the tree, making a web out of it.  He then chewed on several strands, making them sticky in certain places.  He then sat on one spot of his web and waited.  Eventually he caught two of the insects, ran to them, and used the remaining silk to tie them up.  He then looked down at Death and said "HA!  Now I have a way to get food in this tree.  So I have a place to stay and food to eat, and all I have to do is wait for it to rain for water.  You can never get me down from this tree!

Death continued to watch Anansi and said "Some day you will have to come out of that tree. I will sit here and wait for you until that day comes; I have all the time in the world.  And then, I will get every spider I can find in the world."

And because of this, all spiders continue to make webs in high places so they can stay away from Death.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Improving the Olympics, aka "Why Isn't this Here?"

There are several foreign sports that should be added to the Olympics that I think (mostly) Americans would love once they watch it.

1. Calcio Fiorentino.  Started in the 16th century by noble Italian families who would compete with each other to show off their power and prowess, calcio fiorentino appears to be a combination of rugby and wrestling without the refs, rules, or timeouts.  There are 27 people on each team, and you're allowed to do whatever it takes, except for kicks to the back of the head, for 50 minutes straight.  There are no substitutes, so if someone gets injured then that team is down one man.  This would put football, soccer, and rugby to shame. See more here.
2. Botaoshi.  2 teams of 75 people. 2 poles. 2 rounds.  One team attacks and the other defends. The second round the teams switch.  The point is the see who can take down the other team's pole in the fastest time.  It was started by the Japanese as a military exercise, which they still do annually to initiate the new recruits.  So in essence it's a big brawl between 150 men attacking a pole.  No sexual overtones there, eh? But still, to watch a video of this it looks pretty awesome and reminds me of a childhood game we played in the neighborhood that was a combination of team freeze tag, hide and seek, and capture the flag.

3. Fierljeppen.  It's Dutch pole vaulting, but you do it over a canal.  You take a running start, grab a pole, and then try to climb as high as you can before jumping off it on the other side of a canal.  Whoever goes the farthest wins.  Here you go.  If you've ever watched a show called MXC (Most Extreme Elimination!) then you've probably seen something similar.  Combining MXC's version of it (well, they ripped it from a japanese game show) with the landing pad and wider canal would make it very watchable.

That is all.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Making it Work, aka "Keep on Rollin'"

It's funny how I have less time now to do things than I did while my wife was in the hospital. Granted, my stress level has decreased but what needs to be done has increased.  For starters, she's trying to do WAY too much right now, and she gets tired very quickly.  She keeps apologizing and telling me how guilty she feels because i'm still doing a lot of things, but I have to remind her that I don't mind, i'm happy she's home, and it's not a lot of effort on my part.  I've been trying to leave her alone in regards of the things she wants to get done, but I know she can't finish them without help.  Her big goal of the week was to get the house spotless and dust-free by Sunday afternoon, but so far she has only gotten a little bit of work done.  Most of her free time is spent with Smurf 3, which is preferable, but then she gets upset because she hasn't been able to clean.  I've stopped waiting and just started cleaning over the weekend, and i've already figured out when I could get stuff done around everyone's schedule.  But I'm going to continue to support her efforts to do things at home, but I'm pushing for her to slow down and take breaks so she's not too worn out by dinner and can't do anything.

Smurf 3 is doing very well. He's up to 3 lbs., 1 oz and hasn't started bottle feeding yet.  It looks good for him to gain weight quickly once he does start.  I've been debating on whether to post pictures/videos of him, and I decided against it simply for privacy reasons. 

I took Smurfs 1 and 2 to the pool today while their mom visited Smurf 3 at the hospital.  Smurf 2 won't put her head underwater, and Smurf 1 won't stop jumping in from the side of the pool.  If he could swim, he'd go off the diving board!!  I thought it would be harder to keep track of both of them, but they did well following directions and staying near me so that I could help them if needed.  It definitely wore them out to be at the pool for almost 2 hours.  We'll probably do it again on Sunday morning.

Work is a pain as usual.

Sleep has been... elusive.  Since I only can visit Smurf 3 after Smurfs 1 and 2 have gone to sleep and I've done some housework, I often don't see him until midnight.   I get back home around 1:45, then i'm up until 3 or 4 doing stuff.  I get back up around 8 or 9 and start my day.  I feel like i'm getting less sleep, but apparently it's the same amount just at different times.  However, I am feeling it around dinner time.

I realize how much more time I need to spend playing with my Smurfs.  I spent 30 minutes last night wrestling with Smurf 1 and 2 hours in the pool with the both of them.  They enjoyed it and wanted to do more stuff, which makes me feel as if I'm not giving them enough play time with me.  I know I don't have much extra time to give, but I might increase the level of activity we do so that they can get out all that excess energy and I can feel as if they had quality time with me.  One thing we did today was to vacuum out the car.  For most kids this is boring, but I turn it into a treasure hunt (removing all toys and non-garbage stuff), then I give them a hand-held vacuum and direct them where to go.  Afterwards, they get to beat up/shake out the floor mats, and then they sit in the car playing with the newly discovered old toys while I finish up all the extra cleaning.  They seem to be willing to do whatever chore I need to get done, so I guess i'll have them help me weed out some areas tomorrow after swimming; they'll need to take a bath anyway so I might as well get some free labor!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Smurfs, aka "This is the End"

Smurf 3 continues to do well, but they are concerned that his blood glucose levels are not as high as they should be.  They didn't have any idea why, but then they spoke with the doctor that delivered him.  Apparently the placenta was not fully attached to the uterus because of scar tissue,  and he should have technically not made it.  So with only partial attachment and help from the doctors he was able to make it to 32 weeks.  I'm thankful for the doctors and my wife for being able to make it as far as she did with Smurf 3, and just wait for him to come home. 

The problem this presents is that with the scar tissue we realize that having any more children might not work for us, which is saddening because we wanted 4 Smurfs.  However, we're not willing to risk my wife's nor any child's life just because of the idea of having 4 Smurfs. So barring any surgery to remove excess scar tissue (which is not something we think is worth the risk), we are done with having children.

On a lighter note, Smurf 2 made me laugh when they got home.  She was playing with a balloon and needed to wash her hands.  This was our exchange:

Me: Smurf 2, give me your balloon so you can wash your hands.

 S2: No daddy you can't hold my balloon.

Me: I can hold it if I want.  It's my money so I can hold it.

S2: Daddy you hold the money, but you can't hold my balloon.

The Smurfs like to have helium balloons, especially when they get to release them into the air.  I think it's cool as well to let a balloon go and watch it disappear into the clouds.  But I do hate regular balloons that just pop when you look at them.  I cringe whenever they get them and want to sit right next to me playing with them, knowing that at any moment they're going to pop.  I think I was frightened by one popping as a kid along with the clown that gave them (I abhor clowns).  But my kids like them, so I continue to blow them up, make water balloons, and fly helium balloons with them because it's nice to do something as simple as that to have fun with my kids.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

She's Home! aka "Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back!"

Yay!  The wife came home on Friday.  Although it doesn't change the level of burden I have, it's such a relief to just have her around.  Since she's still recovering I am still doing everything around the house (having to force her to sit still and stop trying to be superwoman) and with the kids.  She finally recognizes that she has to go slowly, so I'm running with the Smurfs, doing baths, household chores, etc.  However, it helps that she can take them for rides and join us to help watch them while they play.

Smurf 3 is doing very well for being premature.  He's now doing more oral intake of breast milk and will probably be started on a bottle by the end of the week.  His bloodwork is great and he's responding to our voices.  My wife spends more time with him because it's easier for her to visit him and me stay with the other two Smurfs, which works out well because i'm afraid to hold him at this time.  He's small enough that I worry about applying too much pressure to his body, so i've decided to wait until he's able to bottlefeed to hold him.  That way he should be bigger and stronger.  I'll get to see him every evening, which will be nice.  Hopefully he'll be home in 4 weeks or less.

Smurf 2 is just... Smurf 2.  She's so into wearing dresses and having her hair put up in certain styles.  What happened to my truck-playing, pants-wearing, daredevil little girl?  And she's only 3!  At least she's into spicy foods and has almost no qualms about trying new foods.  It's funny to watch her eat chips and hot salsa at a restaurant.  Her artwork is pretty good, and the patience she puts into her work is amazing.  I like the stories that go along with her pictures, and she often will redraw a picture several times in order to make it perfect to her.

Smurf 1 is such a hyperactive kid.  I think his mind works a lot like mine and he has a hard time dealing with his brain moving faster than his body.  I've been showing him various coping methods for kids that seem to work.  He's showing emerging reading skills because I was able to get him to sound out several short words.  He was quite happy to be able to read a few words (dog, stop, bus, cat, school, exit, and camp), and he can definitely write any word we spell to him.  His math skills are pretty good too, but could be better.  He can add and subtract up to +2 in his head but cannot do it on paper.

So today while my wife visits Smurf 3, I will have the kids outside playing on a sprinkle mat similar to this.  Also, i've got some water balloons, guns, and bubbles.  I'm hoping to wear them out enough to take an early nap (early for them being before 4 p.m.).  I need to finish some outdoor work, laundry, dishes, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.  I've got to work it out with my wife on how to divide the chores again because i've learned that I can't sit still now and just relax; I see everything that needs to be done and get the urge to just go at it.  If I sit still I start to fall asleep due to boredom, so it's back to taking care of things for me. 

Misspoken Words of the Day

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ramblings, aka "Another Day, Another Way to Stress"

So Smurf 3 is doing well.  There were some concerns about his liver functioning and potential brain bleeding, but all scans come back positive.  He still bruises and bleeds easier than he should, but it's getting better. His platelet count has stabilized and is improving, so he should not bleed as much.  It appears the same issues that my wife had are showing up in him, but they are definitely getting much better.  His suck reflex is very strong, so even though they have a nasal feeding tube in him they are giving him drops on his lips and in his mouth along with a pacifier to get him used to the coordination of eating and breathing.  And he is not on any breathing machines and such, so things are going really well for him.  However, I can't bring himself to visit him for long in the NICU.  It's a combination of the hospital (this hospital is great; I just hate hospitals), wanting him out of NICU, him being fragile so i'm afraid of accidentally hurting him (I have a hard time judging my strength), and then having to watch over the other Smurfs.  They cannot visit him because of their ages, so they stay with Momma Smurf in her room.  However, she cannot handle them as easily right now, so I try to limit myself so that she is not having increased difficulties.  Last time I left them, when I returned both Smurfs were in the hallway and had been trying to follow me when I left.  I know there are more serious things that could be happening and so i'm trying not to stress out my wife and the kids.  But I am going to have to find some time to shower.

At times my Smurfs irritate the hell out of me, and others they are cute.  I had a bit of both yesterday, but i'm not going to get into them.  I do like the fact that I can now explain things to them, wait about 20 minutes, and then check to see if they understand.  Granted, I still do a lot of misdirection or distract from questions which are difficult to answer, but overall I'm finding that by talking to them I get to increase their vocabulary and problem solving/critical thinking skills.

I hate eating out.  I used to like it, but I just don't like most fast foods anymore, and I don't like going to restaurants (although my Smurfs are very entertaining when they're not whining).  If I had a new grill at home I don't think I would ever eat out again. However, my wife likes to eat at certain places and the kids like to entertain other people, so I put up with it.  It just sucks that I can't order a true medium rare steak with the blood and juices coming out; I miss that.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Smurf 3 is Here! aka "Tonight's Da Night"

So my third child is here as of 5:50 p.m.  He was 15 inches long and 2 lbs, 14 oz. at 32 weeks.  I'm told that this was a good weight for him since to weeks ago he was estimated at 2 lbs. 2 oz.  The reason he was delivered today was because my wife's liver functioning changed quickly, so the doctors didn't want to waste any time.  He seems fine and has no physical issues; now it's a matter of time to see if there are any cognitive ones. 

As I watched him in the NICU, I began to think about all the things we will need to do at home.  We had already talked and agreed upon everything, but i've realized that a lot of it will fall on me because my wife will still be recovering when she returns home, and Smurf 3 will still be in the hospital.  Also, Smurf 1 and Smurf 2 are asking a lot of questions, especially about being able to see and touch Smurf 3.  So i'm having to deal with the sad, disappointed looks and mini-tantrums when they're told they cannot touch or visit him yet.

We've only told my family because they will not come here to bother us; they actually understand that they need to wait until he is able to come home and get used to us.  Her family?  They would ALL drive here tonight, set up camp, and try to spend about a week in town just to sit and stare at us.

When I started writing this I had the idea that this would help me sort out my thoughts and be able to just write as much as I want without worrying about someone reading or critiquing this; therefore I wouldn't have to follow any format and just stream out sentences based on my thoughts at the moment.  However, after today I see that I will most likely continue to write because I will have to stay at home with Smurf 3 for almost six months because we can't afford daycare for all three of them at the moment.  Right now I have the flexibility to work in the afternoons and evenings, which means that once Smurf 3 gets home I can arrange to stay with him during the day until we get our finances straight.  However I will be out of a job (unless i find another one) at the end of the year and may become a permanent stay-at-home dad at the time.  And right now I have to work since i'm the only one bringing in any money, but my wife also expects me to be at the hospital most of the days this week.  I've got a ton of paperwork to finish and to reschedule/schedule appointments, plus ensure that the other two smurfs make it to daycare in time to stay all day this week.  I definitely need to go out and exercise this week.

Speaking of exercise, I went on a walk/run with the Smurfs last night.  I put them in their wagon and walked up and down the hills in the neighborhood for 30 minutes.  I even ran down a few of the hills; when I was done, I was covered in sweat.  Of course they were fine, sipping on water and enjoying the breeze of being towed.  Normally on our walks we went slow because my wife could not walk as fast as I could. I think I will definitely do this again tomorrow night when the sun is almost down so I don't pass out from a heat stroke.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Misunderstandings, aka "Kids Say the Darndest Things"

Today I shall tell of two stories involving the Smurfs and some misunderstanding on my part.  I preface by saying that kids will say things innocently, but some of those things can be easily misinterpreted and can make you wonder about your own thoughts and feelings.

Story 1:  When we visit my wife, one of our routines is to take a lap around the ground and 1st floors.  During one trip the hallway was empty except for an orderly/nurse/tech/hospital employee person wearing gray scrubs and of Middle Eastern origin.  The hallway is quiet, and as we get close to him Smurf 1 says rather loudly "What is that gray thing?"  Trying not to overreact, I ask him "what do you mean?"  He then points in the direction of the guy and repeats the phrase.  Now I'm torn between avoiding eye contact, looking at the guy and giving the "kids are crazy" shoulder shrug, or standing up straight (since I could tell I was bigger than him) and give him the "I dare you to say something to my kid" look.  Instead, my wife opted for the smart option and asked him for more clarity. He points again, but this time he says "That gray thing there.  The thing with the words. What does it say?"  My heart finally started to slow down and we read the sign to him (loud enough for the guy to hear) and kept on going.

Story 2:  As we're walking through a hallway to get to the elevators to visit my wife, Smurf 1 says loudly (I think he only has one volume level) "What happened to the man?"I look up and down the hallway to find out what person he has identified, but I don't see any guy except a \really fat guy walking (like take-up-half-the-hallway fat).  There happened to be two women walking behind us, and I heard one of them go "ohmygawd!" and the other one started giggling.  Remembering what happened in Story 1, I asked him to point and describe who he is talking about.  He then pointed to the hallway (away from the fat guy) and said that there was a statue there that was now covered up.  I told him that the hospital was probably fixing something and he would be back later. 

So what have I learned?  That I need to make sure my Smurfs clarify anything that may be embarrassing, although there will be that day where my fears will be confirmed.

On a good note, my wife came home for 6 hours today again, which was a huge relief again.  We did almost nothing and it was glorious.  Also, the in-laws did not stop by (yay!).  I still have to do some laundry, dishes, and bathe the kids (they did not take a nap until 6!), but i'm still happy about today.  Tomorrow will be a different story.

Smurf 2 likes to chirp like a bird.  Well, she likes to make all kinds of sounds and noises as part of her acting/singing/dancing repertoire, and one of her favorite things is to chirp like a bird.  It's annoying, constant, and cute at the same time.  She will go from sounding like Donald Duck to chirping to doing penguin noises.  It's a weird skill she's developed but it suits her personality.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Note, aka "That's Just Creepy"

While I was cleaning up last night after the Smurfs went to bed, I started watching one of the Twilight movies.  Normally I would not watch something like this, but I was bored and it kept me busy while cleaning (I have some difficulties focusing on one task at a time).  I understand that it's catered to teenage girls (and some older women with issues), but I was creeped out by the fact that you've got this guy who, though looks 18, is really a helluva lot older and is crushing on a 16/17 year old girl.  I just kept thinking "this guy is a pedophile" in the back of my head.  Maybe it was just me, but if he was really such a gentleman then he wouldn't be hanging around a high school picking up girls as if he's David Wooderson/Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused.  Why not go to a college and pretend to be a freshman or sophomore?  That's all for now.

Daily Anecdotes, aka "The Good, The Bad, The In-Laws"

So today was stressful work-wise but i got through it with minimal psychological damage.  The in-laws weren't as bad as they could have been, but it still makes me flirt with the idea of smoking again.  So today's highlights:

Spent almost two hours explaining to an 18 y.o. why he has to lose some of his SSI when he makes more than a certain amount per month from working.  He kept saying that it was b.s. and wasn't fair.  I finally got to the point where I told him "yeah it sucks, but that's life.  You learn to deal with it or make enough money so you don't rely on it."  I still know he's not going to grasp it and will only try to remember parts of the conversation.

5 members of my in-laws visited (two sisters, parents, and a niece).  Two more are supposed to be in the area tomorrow.  I know they are trying to be helpful, but they aren't.  I appreciate their offers of assistance, but after all these years i'm surprised they don't know what I would and would not accept.  I would not accept someone else cleaning our house unless we are moving.  I would not accept them cooking at our house to feed the kids (I'm slightly insulted by that one).  I would not accept them taking the Smurfs away while I "relaxed" because they I don't agree with their discipline style (none at all) and I wouldn't relax because I would be worried about them.   They could take a cue from my neighbor who borrowed my lawnmower; he mowed the rest of my backyard and didn't even mention it afterwards.  That's classy to me because he didn't brag about it afterwards or make a point multiple times of saying that he wanted to help me.  He just did it and then left it alone.  That man deserves a thank-you card!

Mother in-law brought a lot of useless crap as usual.  I think she's one of those bag ladies in the store that just pick up random stuff and gives it away when she realizes that she has picked up crappy things.  This is the dress she brought for Smurf 2 (who is only 3) and thought that it's something she would like.  Smurf 2 has her own sense of clothing style and will often match her colors, creating pretty decent outfits.  She looked at that dress, then her grandmother, and just walked away (had to stifle a laugh).

Why would you offer to give a hyperactive, adrenaline-driven 4 year old a toothpick? That's just an ER trip waiting to happen.

I know I am overweight and need to exercise to be in better shape. However, after watching my in-laws have difficulty keeping up with my Smurfs I felt much better about my fitness level.  Also makes me realize how easily I can exploit/utilize my children as exercise equipment. 

We made chocolate chip cookies.  Well, Tollhouse made the cookies and I heated them up.  Anyway, while eating them I noticed Smurf 1 rubbing his ear with his shirt and moving as if his ear hurt.  I checked it out, and he had chocolate in his ear.  Apparently he stuck a chocolate chip covered finger in his ear and left part of it there.  I got it out without freaking out, but I almost called the wife about it.  See, I don't do well with minor medical issues such as fevers, headaches, stomachaches, etc.  IF it's something major like a broken bone, severe fever, strep (happened once), viral meningitis, etc. then I don't have problems with them because i'm used to helping with those types of situations due to my job.  I think dealing with the worst has me prepared for worse-case scenarios, but then whenever something minor happens I wonder if it's going to blow into something more.  Just part of my anxiety issues I guess.

31 weeks and counting now.  In two weeks we do another growth check, and if Smurf 3 hasn't progressed enough in growth then they're going to deliver him.  If he has, then they'll let him stay until 36 weeks.  We shall see what happens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Long Day, aka "My Blood Pressure Keeps Rising"

Don't think I can take any more surprises today.  My wife was supposed to come out on a 6 hour visit today but couldn't because during a NST the heart rate of Smurf 3 went WAAAAAY down.  It went back up, but the doctor freaked out and moved her to labor and delivery. I thought they were going to deliver any moment, which had me freaked out because when I was told I was in the middle of being with a client and his mom at the hospital, I still had to turn in paperwork so I could get paid, I had to contact several people for paperwork so other people got paid, I had to clean up the rest of the house because in-laws were around (oy vey), and I had in-laws visiting.

Luckily, everything has worked out.  She was on monitoring for 4 hours and had no changes or issues, so she was returned back to her room.  However, she might not get another pass to get out and that flat out sucks.  I was able to get one person discharged from the hospital, but then remembered I have to send information to another hospital for someone else.  I also need to follow up about an assault claim and Adult Protective Service call.  I got in my paperwork but not all of it (but I will still get paid so that's good).  The house is clean, the in-laws are bothersome (and will be back on Friday and Saturday), and I'm ready for it to be Sunday.  However, the Smurfs are still fun so everything will be okay.  I think I can keep my blood pressure in check long enough for my wife to get back home. 

I think it's funny that my daughter, Smurf 2, will allow me to wash and comb her hair in the tub but would never allow my wife to do it.  Smurf 2's hair is exactly like my wife's hair (very curly and thick), and I sometimes have a harder time with it.  However, she did not (and still doesn't) like for my wife to do her hair.  She even prefers if I'm the one putting on her headband, doing a ponytail, or whatever hairstyle she likes at the moment.  I also need to buy a few more dresses for her since she keeps asking to wear one every day; she currently has 4 that she likes.

Smurf 1 is going to eat us out of house and home.  I swear that boy eats almost as much as a teenager.  On the regular he eats anywhere between 2 to 3 helpings of dinner along with 2 snacks and possibly a third.  Luckily he prefers to drink a lot of water (puts me to shame) and will drink 1/2 cup of juice or a juice box per day.  Smurf 2 will drink water but only if she's very hot or nothing else is available.  Otherwise, she's got a juicebox or cup of juice in her hand.  Or strawberry milk.

So now we are on the way back to the hospital to get a good dinner to my wife.  They wouldn't let her eat while monitoring her, and she's hankering for some Outback food.  

Misspoken Word of the Day:
 *Preface - I try to use words that my kids should know with minimal euphemisms. Today I was speaking with Smurf 2 about using the bathroom, and that's where today's word comes from.

Browse Moose.  "That's a lot of Yuck daddy."  "It's called a poop or bowel movement."  "Ok.  That's a lot of Browse Moose."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Relaxation Day, aka "Everybody's Sleepy"

Yay for today.  My wife got to escape from the hospital for six hours today.  The docs are thinking she can make it to 34-36 weeks (she's 31 and 2 days right now), which will be better for the baby.  He's still severely growth restricted, so we're hoping that by the time he reaches 34 weeks he could be at least 3 pounds.  But it was nice to have her around and get to relax, even though both Smurfs were tired and a little whiny.  Could have been they were thrown off by their mom being home, or the fact that they didn't get to sleep until 12:30 a.m. and woke up around 9 this morning.  So they were sleepy-cranky today instead of just kid-cranky.

As for me, my wife keeps saying that i've lost weight.  I don't think my gut has gotten any smaller but she wants me to weigh myself soon to check.  I guess because i'm having to move around more and I'm eating less.  I've not been extremely hungry for most things and I'm trying to cut a lot of garbage foods out of my system.  Yesterday was the first time in three weeks i've had soda, and it didn't taste right to me.  I'm mainly drinking water and some juice (orange apple, blended, etc.) while eating much smaller meals. Hell, Smurf 1 eats more food than I do at lunch and dinner.  I would definitely like to have time to exercise, but the best I do is running around with the Smurfs.  Yesterday, mowing the grass was the most i've sweated in a long time (I could wring the sweat out of my shirt) and it felt really good to just be dirty like that.

While outside I had the kids help me dig a hole to bury part of their swing. Because they are much heavier than when we first purchased the swing, it tends to tip a lot.  So i've got some gear to stake the back part into the ground, and we were able to do one hole yesterday.  I'm hoping on Monday to do the other one so that I don't have to worry about them tipping the whole thing over while swinging.

I did get some cleaning done today, which was helpful to me to see that I can take care \of the house.  Just gotta do the shopping tomorrow and keep the kids fed and entertained.  Think I'm going to start them riding their bikes again and doing a book time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Long Day, aka "Time Flies When You Have a Lot of Crap to Do"

So far I have:

Washed, dried, and folded some of the laundry
Did the dishes
Did the trash and recycles
Swept and cleaned up most of the living room
Got the kids up and microwaved their breakfasts. Twice.
Made sure the kids packed their bookbags correctly for daycare.

Still to do:
take the kids to school check!
Finish the laundry halfway done
mow the lawn 75% done. Just the part they play in
pay the bills check!
plan and prepare for dinner check!
dust and vacuum the entire house didn't even start
clean the kitchen and 3 bathrooms kitchen is mostly done; that's it
Finish up as much work as possible got half of my stuff done.
Not go crazy because I've only got about 5 hours to do it in actually only had 3 hours

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Cuteness of my Kids, aka "That Makes Me Smile Every Time"

One of the things I do to relieve stress is sing songs with my kids.  Not the stuff that's on the radio or even oldies (although they do like a few oldies I'll list out later), but stuff that appears on Micky Mouse Clubhouse, Sesame Street, Team Umizoomi, etc.  I've also gotten to the point where I will interact with my kids in public as if other people aren't around, so many of the things that we end up doing may be embarrassing under normal circumstances.  Today, as we're leaving the hospital, the Smurfs started singing a song from Team Umizoomi.  Not one to be outdone, I started singing Elmo's Ducks with them.  Now, when we normally do it I sing Elmo's part and they do the duck noises/acting.  So imagine a grown man walking with two kids doing an Elmo voice while they're quacking like ducks.  We did this 3 times in a row while walking past visitors, doctors, nurses, volunteers, security, etc.  Although I was aware of people staring (and potentially commenting), I couldn't have cared less because they were happy and so was I.  We've also done public performances of We Make Music and Sing After Me, one time drawing applause from someone we walked by.  I like doing stuff like that because it reminds me that no matter how much stress i'm under, having fun with the Smurfs is a priority.

As I've noted before (and if you can't tell) I refer to my kids as The Smurfs.  It's now more of reflex to say it randomly, and they respond accordingly.  They have never seen the cartoon and have only seen Smurfs through a McDonald's Happy Meal promotion.  However, Smurf 2 likes to constantly ask when in the car "Are we there yet?"  Now she knows where we are going most often and when we will get there, but she likes to do it because I pretend it's irritating.  So whenever she asks I always go "Not yet my little Smurf" until after the 5th time I will go "NOOOOOOO!!!!!" in a goofy voice.  My inspiration? Here.

Misspoken Words of the Moment:
Taskifier. - "He has a Taskifier in his mouth."

Nipple.  "I have two Nipples dad.  Do you have any Nipples? Here [Smurf 2], you can have one of my Nipples so you can buy something at the store."

Another Day, aka, "I Worry Too Much"

So yesterday was a mostly good day.  My wife got to leave the hospital for 6 hours, so we (family) spent a lot of good time together.  I mean, we do it each day that we visit but it's so much more better being away from the hospital.  Today they checked the growth rate of the baby and he's still behind.  However, the tech said the baby is growing symmetrically, which means that his body is growing proportionally.  That's better than asymmetrically, which would indicate potential medical and cognitive issues after birth.  It still sucks that he's behind in growth, but it appears that Smurf 3 would be a smaller person regardless.  When I say smaller, I mean smaller than us.  I'm only 5'11", my wife 5'9".  Both kids are pretty tall for their age, especially when I compare them to other kids their age.

Work is still a pain and I would really like to have some stability right now.  I like the fact that I can be flexible with it, but because I have limited time during the day because of the kids I spend most of the night playing catch up.  I think right now my average time to go to sleep is about 3 a.m., and I wake up between 7 and 8 a.m.

So i'm pretty mopey right now, but I try to keep things in perspective.  I follow a blog of a guy named  Rob (lostandtired.com),  and he is in a much more difficult situation than I am.  I feel I have no place to bitch and moan about laundry, cleaning, cooking, and taking care of things because things are still relatively good for me and the Smurfs.

Misspoken Word of the Day:
Anglish.  "That's not Spanish, that's in Anglish."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A History of Books, aka "Reading is Fundamental"

I love to read.  If I could, I would spend most of my time reading books.  I don't know what it is, but I will even read bad books just because I want to finish it out.  I'm not the same with movies or games because I don't have to think about them as much as I do with books.  With movies you get to see everything and don't have to think much (unless it's a really good movie).  Therea re a few games that I like, but for the most part I prefer to be with a book.  It's so bad that whenever I get one to read I usually finish it within a day; I've ignored everything else before just to finish a book (skip dinner, showering, going to work, etc.).  I've stopped my book reading because of so many things I have to do since I'm supposed to be a responsible adult, but every once in a while I get the chance to pick out a book and finish it in a few hours.

That being said, there are so many stories that I remember but not the titles.  Luckily with the internet there are good descriptors for stories, so I just type in part of the plot to get the titles. I plan on trying to keep a list of all the books i've read (even as a kid)  just because it's interesting to me.

My favorite book of all is Dante's Divine Comedy.  I'm not a religious person,, but something about it just draws me.  Other than that my primary genres are horror fiction, comic books and collected editions, science fiction, and the occasional mystery anthology.  Here's what I can recall off the top of my head:

1. Almost all the VC Andrews books up to 1995 - My high school years.  I saw the movie Flowers in the Attic and was curious about the stories.  So I read that one and enjoyed it.  The rest? Not so much.  It was just... bad.  Most of that was about incest, rich families, and people being weird.  But I still read them.

2. The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks
3.  All the Iceberg Slim novels - I can thank my mother for that.  I found a stash of books she had and read almost every single thing she had, one of which was Airtight Willie & Me.
4.  I read one Donald Goins book, which I did not like.  Haven't read another once since.
5 . Journeys of the Catechist books by Alan Dean Foster (writer of Aliens).
6.  Everything Stephen King has written.
7.  Most of Dean Koontz's work, before his similes became really bad.  The Bad Place was my favorite.
8. World War Z.  Awesome book.
9.  Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Three Investigators.  Every. Single. Story.  Very cheesy but interesting to me.
10. Encyclopaedia Brown books.  TV show sucked.
11.  Repairman Jack novels.
12. The Iliad.
13. Odyssey.  It always took me a few pages to begin to understand the style of speak and be able to follow them.
14.  My Brother Sam is Dead. I read this in the 5th grade and initially had trouble with it, but then got into it about halfway through.
15. Beowulf
16. Grendel.
17.  The "Choose Your Own Adventures" series up until I was 17.
18. The school reading lists that include Tom Sawyer, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Pearl, The Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe, etc.

Cooking for This Dummy, aka "Where's the Pepto?"

When I was in college I used to cook only for myself.  This meant that whatever I made did not look like what it was supposed to; I didn't care as long as it tasted okay.  Luckily I met, fell in love, and married a woman who has excellent cooking skills.  Over the years I have tried to learn how to do some basic things so that I can understand what she does, but frankly I still need to read the box of things while she can just pull it from memory.  Now that I am tasked with the cooking, I find myself trying to remember how things are done, double-checking every recipe, and calling my wife to make sure i'm doing things right.  I try to stick to her normal formula of a main dish, vegetable, preferred food, and a fruit of some kind.

Right now the Smurfs are happily eating a dinner of mac & cheese, tater tots, hot dogs (Smurf 2 only), apple sauce and mixed fruit cup, and shredded cheese (they like cheese!).  No one wanted the turkey burgers that I had to call my wife about twice to be reassured that I wasn't going to kill them with it.  Did it matter that I ate one?  Nah, I can tolerate half-cooked food because that's what I used to make.  Both seemed to like everything else because their plates are almost empty.  However, I think my son may be taking after me because he just poured the juice from his fruit cup into his milk and drank it.  Although I think that's something to try, my wife surely would have had a fit.  Plus he likes to mix his food to try out a variety of tastes.  He once mixed a bite of turkey burger, applesauce, and milk; he took several more bites after I told him it was okay as long as he wanted to eat it.

Fortunately this was not my first successful daddy-only meal.  The first real meal I cooked in the past few weeks was pancakes.  I was able to get them very close to the way my wife makes them, and the kids ate them all.  Of course Smurf 1 complained of a stomach ache a little bit later, which had me worried that he was sick from undercooked batter or something (he had to go to the bathroom).  I did do a crockpot dinner the second night alone with them of turkey chops, cream of mushroom, peas, corn, rice, and fruit.  They actually ate it without complaints and I was proud to have done it.  I will try meatloaf at some point, but I've got to make sure I have a backup meal in case it doesn't turn out well.

Misspoken Word of the Day
Violent.  "Look at the pretty rainbow! I see orange, green, violent, yellow, red, and blue!"

"Are They Twins?" Count of the Day
I've had 2 of them today, and 4 of "they're so cute!".  The short response still works.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Misspoken Words, aka "What Did You Say?"

I want to start something like this because, to me, my kids are funny.  See if you can guess the actual word.  The quotes are real.  By the way, I always provide them with the correct word, and they usually repeat it so that they can get it right.

1. kinoculars.  As in "daddy, I can see you through my kinoculars.  You look so close!" 

2. Crunch.  As in "I wiped my crunch with toilet paper."

3. Samami.  "The very hungry caterpillar ate cake, ice cream, samami, ..."

4. Simanem.  "Dad, I like to have simanem in my pancakes."

5. Praying Magnet.  "What does a Praying Magnet eat?  What is it a Praying Magnet?"

Meeting New People, Aka "Are They Twins?"

I am not a sociable person.  Rather, I prefer not to socialize with a lot of people.  Aside from my wife I don't have any true friends. I have people I associate with, joke with, and even talk about some personal things with, but overall I wouldn't consider any of them close.  Case in point, those who could be considered my "close friends" don't know that I write this blog and don't know my wife is in the hospital.  Hell, I think only one person knows that she's even pregnant, and that person isn't someone I normally associate with.  My wife is the same way and didn't tell her family she was pregnant until she went to hospital at 27 weeks; her family has visited at least once a month and never said a thing (although several claim they suspected).

I say all this because I am forced to be more sociable than normal because of the Smurfs.  I used to only be alone with them one day a week, and most of the time we did our own thing and ignored other people.  Now that we're together almost all the time, I end up taking them to many social activities and places (I don't want them to become fat, lazy, tv watching schlubs like some kids I know).  So now on a daily basis, whenever we're in public, I brace myself for uninvited conversation starters from others.  To be fair, the Smurfs are cute and even more so when I'm talking with them while walking or having them hold my hands or each others. *

*A side rant here: when I talk to my Smurfs, I speak to them as if they're intelligent enough to understand proper English.  I have never used baby speak with them or said anything in a sing-song voice (which one of my sisters-in-law does all the time).  If they don't understand what i'm saying, both will readily ask me "what does ---- mean" since both have been speaking in complete sentences since they were two.  So when we're walking and talking, they may sound smarter than kids who are still using one or two-word phrases at the same age.*

Anyway, the most common thing I am asked is if they are twins.  I used to answer "No, they are a little more than 11 months apart in age" but have stopped because that usually provokes additional questions such as who is older (how the hell can't you tell? One is bigger than the other), do they get along well, do they look like their mother, do they get their hair from their mother, are you going to grow their hair like yours (I have dreadlocks), etc.  Therefore I have modified my answer to "nope. 11 months."  It's not that I want to be rude, it's just that I don't want to talk to people.  Only the most die-hard of people will try to continue a line of questioning, so I continue to shorten my answers even more until I'm just looking at the Smurfs and saying something like "You guys ready to go?" which is my BIG hint that I am not going to answer any more questions.  And heaven help the people who just make comments; all they get is a grunt in recognition from me, and then I ignore them.  Luckily I have taught my kids better social skills than I show.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fun Times, aka My Kids are So Cute!

Even though I'm stressed on a daily basis, my kids do things that makes me forget everything for a little while.  There aren't any grand gestures or amazing things that they do; it's the ordinary stuff that make me smile.  For example, whenever they're walking (and getting along), sometimes they will hold hands and walk together and talk about making sure each one is okay.  Smurf 1 will also help Smurf 2 out of her carseat if I ask, and they always hug afterwards (I can just see the sugar oozing out of their heads!).  One of the best things is when we go visit my wife (now known as Mommy Smurf or MS), they like to hide things behind their backs and give to her as a surprise.  It could be anything (toys, socks, food, the newspaper, maps, etc.), but the look of joy on their faces to give Mommy Smurf a present sends a smile to my face and makes me forget about all my concerns.

Something else we have been doing since they were young; we name parks and playgrounds by what is there so they can easily identify things and tell us what they like.  There's the bus park (there's a play bus there), the drum park, the train park, the airplane park (because it's near an airport), the sand park, the castle park, Julian's park (near a school friend's home where they had a birthday party), and the inside park (which they don't really like because, well, it's inside).  We also do the same thing with the malls ("play store" and "bookstore" are two of them) and museums ("play museum", "bone museum" and "earth museum").

So now they plan out fun things they want to do; I'm only told about it right before we're supposed to go.  Apparently Smurf 1 and Smurf 2 discussed it, decided where to go, and i'm only told when I'm needed to provide transportation.  So there have been some heated discussions (as heated as you can get with a 3 & 4 year old) about what will and will not happen.  I'm trying to teach them how to plan ahead, although I know at times that can be a hard concept to grasp (especially for Smurf 2).  So right now as it stands we are going to several places tomorrow and Saturday, but not Sunday (according to Smurf 2).  Why?  "Sunday we are supposed to rest."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

6 Hours of Fun, aka Jailbreak! aka Smurf 1's birthday

I'm doing better with handling my wife being in the hospital. Yesterday she was able to come home for 6 hours (I called it her temporary release from prison!) because of Smurf 1's birthday, which was fun.  We did a cake at his day care and his sister got to attend it.  Afterwards we went home to relax, out to eat, and then to the store for presents.  It was odd to have my wife home knowing that she could not stay, but I didn't say anything about it.  I could tell she wanted to stay as well but wasn't going to cry in front of the kids. 

Anyway, they had fun eating out and were doing a LOT of talking.  I mean non-stop chatterboxes on everything and anything.  Smurf 1 kept talking about his birthday, asking other people about their birthday (strangers can be so nice to cute children!), when was my birthday, and when he would turn 5.  Apparently he has all sorts of plans when he turns 5, which include:

- Going to kindergarten
- Sending his babies to school (y'know, the 100 babies he has living in the clouds)
- Being able to read
- Riding a train (still not sure why that was there)

Smurf 2 was a little jealous and kept saying that she needed a birthday present and a birthday card.  I showed her what she got when it was her birthday, but she wasn't satisfied.  At first I thought it was a problem with understanding since she's 3, but after listening to her talk and actually restate in her own words what I told her, I knew she understood but didn't like it.  So, like a ninja of the night, she cajoled her way into getting some stickers (not a big deal although I know they'll end up as a decoration on our floors).

While dropping off my wife at the hospital, the Smurfs were playing on the couch in the room.  This couch is one of those that will open up to a bed (very uncomfortable) and was a hideous dark blue color when pulled out;  However, when paired with a rocking recliner with the wheels locked it becomes a perfect setting for a pretend ocean.  They jumped off the chair/dove off the beach on the deep blue bed/ocean.  They then swam around, pretended to spit out water, and rescued each other from sharks, trains (again with the trains!), bugs, pirates, and other things.  It was quite cute and I wish I had taken a video of it.

Things do appear to be getting better, and my wife will speak with the doctor about trying to do these trips twice a week until the delivery.  5 1/2 weeks left to go.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Smurf 2, Aka Sneaky Smurf aka Princess Smurf

Smurf 2, the younger of the two, is my little girl.  And she's VERY sneaky.  She's more of an introvert than her brother, and is aware of everything that's going on around her even if she's not reacting.  Where her brother will announce everything that he has done or is going to do, she'll do it and try to do it without anyone noticing.  Case in point, if her brother has a juice box and she has finished hers, she will wait until he puts it down and turns his back.  She will casually walk near it, hover for a minute, then walk away with it or swap his full one with her empty one, and pretend like nothing happened.  Smurf 2 is also famous for asking to hold things in an attempt to get at something.  The only time she helps carry groceries or bags is when she want something out of them.  However, instead of saying what she wants she will go "I want to hold that bag."  She will then carry it to where it needs to go and walk away casually, holding her treasure in a way so that we're not supposed to notice she has it.

She is very girly and loves to wear dresses and play with dolls, which started almost six months ago.  Prior to that she preferred trucks and "boy" toys like bikes, trains, action figures, etc.  I admire how she is very sociable when needed but will stay to herself or not reveal any information to anyone.  Her handwriting is better than her brothers and her artwork has much more details.  Where Smurf 1 has great gross motor skills, Smurf 2 has great fine motor skills.  I think she will be writing and reading by the time she is 4, which would be great considering how much she enjoys books.

I know there is a lot more about her but i'm going to stop here.  Time to get them to bed.

Smurf 1, Aka Hyper Smurf

At some point I started calling my kids Smurf 1 and Smurf 2, and they have taken to those nicknames.  What's funny is if I call their names, they may ignore me but if I say "Smurf 1 and Smurf 2!" they both respond immediately!

Anyway,  Smurf 1 is VERY hyper; he reminds me of myself a lot of times.  This boy will run back and forth in the house when he gets to the point where he has too much energy.  He likes to jump off things, and so has accumulated a variety of scars and bruises on his legs and hands.  At times I wonder if he has a sensory issue because of the way he tenses his body and wrings his hands when overstimulated (anxiety, happiness, excited, etc.).  I originally thought of Autism or Asperger's but he doesn't show any other sign except for the body tensing.  He definitely has an active imagination because he tells us a variety of stories based on things he's been read or he's seen.  His current play story is that he has 100 babies that live in the clouds.  Their names?  Baby 1, 2, 3, etc.  He gives them lemonade and oatmeal to eat, takes them to school, and goes on adventures with them.

He's mainly interested in boy-type stuff: wrestling, fighting, playing, jumping, looking at pictures.  He's not a fan of coloring, writing, or arts and crafts. However, he does show the emerging reading skills for his age and knows all the beginning sounds of words.  Plus, he likes to make jokes and will even try to make his own euphemisms.  At some point I will have to list them because they can be quite funny.

And that's Smurf 1.  Up next, Smurf 2.

The Twilight Zone aka "Me, Myself, and I"

So with my wife potentially in the hospital for the next 5 weeks due to severe preeclampsia, I have become the part-time stay-at-home dad.  So far she has been there for almost 2 weeks now and is trying to convince them to allow her to leave for a few days just to break the monotony.  My kids, Smurf 1 and Smurf 2, have adjusted a lot better than I have.  Smurf 1, who will be 4 tomorrow, had a harder time at first because he hates hospitals and doctors (like me!). Smurf 2, who just turned 3 last month, doesn't seem to worry about it as much (or at least doesn't show it).  Once we told them she was having a baby and was not sick, then they both seemed to be happier about not having their mom at home.  Here are some of the questions I've been asked since they found out:

- Why is she having a baby at the hospital?

- Did she eat a baby? Is that how it got in her stomach?

- If she didn't eat it, how did the baby get in her stomach?

- What's the baby's name?

- How is it going to get out?

- What's his name?

- Does he eat food?

- Can you open your mouth so I see him? (asked while he's looking in my wife's mouth)

- Can I play with him? (asked while tapping on my wife's stomach)

So now i've taken over her jobs at home, which is quite a lot.  We had everything split as far as chores, responsibilities and such.  But now i'm taking care of everything, and since I organize things like my thoughts, things can be chaotic at home.  Plus i've still got to work 30 - 40 hours a week (somehow) while taking them to daycare 4 days a week while cleaning, cooking, shopping, planning meals, dealing with in-laws (oy vey!), and dealing with crisis situations (so far 3 days of scrapes and bruises).  I stress but i handle it okay because I also know that my wife is struggling as well because she has to be away from us and is not relaxing at home.  Oh well, time to make breakfast and get everyone ready for school.