Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

My mom's birthday is December 26. It's a bummer for her since most people are "gifted out" by the time the 26th rolls around. She often gets gifts wrapped in Xmas paper or a "two-parter" type gift that's related to something she got on Christmas.
To separate out her day from Christmas, the 25th has turned into a day of rest, with all the Santa hoopla on the 24th.
The last few years, we've taken the train up to the city and we celebrate a bit up there, check out the holiday decorations, have dinner and then come back. Dad generally doesn't want to go, so we didn't bother asking him this year (especially considering the mood that has filled their house since the closing of our Christmas celebrations).
We had a lovely time! T was SO excited to be on a train. He's been on it before, but was scared of the loud noises while waiting for it to arrive at the stations. This year, he seemed to understand it was a train (and not a bus or plane) . And he proudly told our fellow passengers that he wasn't afraid anymore. He was almost TOO excited and was difficult to get him to listen to me about where he could and could not sit (NOT in front of the doors!), etc. But he loved all the busy-ness of the city, the lights, the people. He even got a "magic wand" from the clown making balloon toys on the corner. And if you haven't tried a cream puff from Beard Papa's, you are missing something fantastic! Especially the eclairs. Yum, yummy! It was mom's make-shift birthday cake and she loved it--plus sharing the day with us is always high on her list.
Happy Birthday Mom.

Christmas Post

The holidays are about tradition and every family has their own. Mine are morphing and I'm looking for new ways to celebrate or add to the festivities.
The Christmas gifts start early at our house. Santa just couldn't come to every one's house in one day so he fills the stockings during the night (on the 23rd) to be found Christmas Eve morning. Then in the evening the big show begins:
Our Christmas time has always been on the night of the 24th. Mainly because my mom is NOT a morning person, plus her birthday is the 26th and she wanted a day of separation between Christmas gifts and birthday celebrations. (It does suck to have a birthday near Christmas--at least my mom has always felt that way.) Everyone comes to mom and dad's house in the late afternoon. We hang out, chat, watch holiday movies and eat dinner--usually Bami Goreng (a lovely Indonesian noodle dish my mom does especially well). Then, when it's dark, Santa arrives and knocks on the front door with a big, heart-pounding banging. All the kids run to the front door and find lots of presents waiting there for them. We all sing out "Thank you Santa!!" as the gifts are gathered and placed near the Christmas tree. In the early days, my mom would hand out the gifts, 2 or 3 at a time so everyone could ooooo and ahhhh at each gift given. After the last gift is opened, we all shout out together another "Thank you Santa Claus!!" and then we gather ourselves and head home with happy hearts and arms full of Christmas wishes come true.
T was thrilled to find presents in his stocking. It was so heart warming to watch him open gifts he knew Santa brought just for him. The rest of the day was exciting too because he would be seeing his cousins AND Santa would bring more gifts on his way back to the North Pole. I still haven't figured out OUR family tradition on when to open the gifts under our own tree but this year Santa came and brought more gifts under our own tree (to be found on Christmas morning), but I'm not sure I'll keep that timing in the future. Sooo many presents and too hard to tell the story of how Santa comes for stockings and then later for presents in the evening. We'll see how it evolves...Either way, T was happy as "a pig in mud" (G-rated version since we're talkin' about kids here). The memory of the level of delight on that cute little face will be with me always. He was just as happy opening his own gifts as he was helping me hand them out to everyone else. His most cherished gift so far is the Leapster games he received. I love them because they are all educational and he loves them because it's fun! But every single gift is cherished and he's played with them all, already.
Everything went really well.
Until, the rather loud discussion between my sister and dad started up. It might have been a fight, but voices were kept to a loud rumble and actual communication was happening. All the kids were corralled outside and watched over by the adults not involved in the "communication" and at the end, my father had managed to alienated one more family member. Well, actually two: my brother is no longer welcome in my parent's home. Suffice it to say that counseling will be starting and I will no longer write about this topic on this forum. It is family stuff that should remain within the family. Every family has their issues, and we are no exception. But, boy, would I like to be!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A bit too much excitement for one mom

T, 5 1/2 years old

Last Saturday I went out for some last minute shopping at a nearby discount store to finish up the Christmas list wishes. Mom and I were feeling pretty relieved that we had found all that we needed for a hopefully successful Christmas time together. My dad watched T and had decided to take advantage of the break in the rainy weather for some fun at the nearby park. It's one of the things Dad does with T and they spend hours there, often coming back after dark. At first I really worried that something had happened to them, but each time they just lost track of time or stopped to chat at a neighbors house on their way back home.

So last Saturday when Mom and I returned back to their home at 6:15PM and it was pitch dark outside I didn't worry too much but wondered what would they want to do in the cold and dark after being at the park for what would have been four hours at that point. Minutes later, the phone rang. My mom picked it up and it was Dad. That's weird. He doesn't have a cell phone and generally doesn't think to call and let it be known when he plans on returning. Suddenly my mom's face stiffens and the room gets quiet. He's calling from the emergency room. He had tried to call our cell phones but didn't have the correct number or felt he shouldn't leave a message when the answering service picked up.

We got in the car and headed off for the hospital as quickly as my car could safely get us there.

Apparently, T had climbed up on the jungle-gym and jumped up to grab some rings (something he had done a few times before, the last time they went to the park) but this time he didn't quite make the rings and fell back about 8 feet, hitting the back of his head on the corner of the steel step. T immediately reached up on his head and his hands were covered in blood. Dad thought his hands were broken or damaged but soon realized it was a head injury. They were alone in the park and Dad just wanted to get home. T insisted he was OK to get on his scooter and refused to ride on Dad's bicycle. 3 minutes later they were at my parents home. Dad phoned 911 and before he hung up, 2 firetrucks and an ambulance were at the house. 8 firemen, paramedics and even the Mayor were there (he's a volunteer firefighter too). They evaluated T for orientation and the extent of his injury. T was calm and and even answered their questions on his address and phone number correctly. Good boy! It was decided that he would need stitches and the ambulance would have to take him there. They placed a C collar and strapped him to a board for the ride. Dad drove behind the ambulance. T was calm the whole time.

Once in the ED, T was super scared he was going to get shots. T does NOT like shots! He hid behind the gurney and kept telling anyone who came near him that he already had his flu shot last week and didn't need any more. When it was time to fix the laceration, they wrapped T in a sheet and then 4 people held him down while they cleaned and stapled the 2 cm wound in the back of his head. T even tried to talk himself out of this uncomfortable situation by telling the medical staff that he had to go to the bathroom. But dad told them T had just finished going and to not let him up until they were finished treating him. That rascal was able to think up a potential "out" of the difficult and scary position they held him in. The laceration was quickly approximated--staples are quick! And T was sitting up and his old smiling self again. When I finally arrived with my mom and brother, T was in his treatment room with a sparkling white gauze turban around his head and an orange Popsicle in hand, like it was no big thing, waiting for the OK to go home.

What a day for T! I was, once again, amazed at how he handles scary situations. It could have happened to any kid playing at the park. And I'm happy that my dad made the call and got help fast. Head injuries are nothing to mess around with--better safe than assuming it'll be OK. The rest of the evening was smooth, with no signs of a concussion. It could have been so much worse. And I'm feeling pretty grateful that he's OK and smiling again. As a parting gift he got the 60ml syringe they used to clean his boo-boo and has found just how far you can squirt water from it. It's the coolest toy ever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Updates

Wow. It's been a while since my last post! Busy, busy, busy, I guess. Let's just go back in time and comment on the happenings...

Thanksgiving. It's our neighborhood's tradition that for those that want to burn a few calories before the planned overeating, we meet at the local coffee house and do a 5K run or walk together (or just wait with latte in hand for everyone to come back!). That's always fun, and I love the sense of neighborhood togetherness to start the day. As T and I were waiting for the group to meet, a nice man sitting outside with his coffee in hand made small talk with T. T announced proudly, "My name is T and I'm 5 years old and I know everything." with a big grin. The man said, Well, that's amazing since I'm 54 years old and I'm still learning lots of new things." After the tiniest pause T said (head cocked to one side) "Well, I could teach you." Man-o-man! I had to hold back the laugh--didn't want to embarrass T, but I couldn't have come up with a better punch line to that! Isn't it interesting that as young people we are sure that we know it all, and the longer we live the more we realize what we DON'T know. The smarter a person gets the more clearly he/she sees the missing gaps of information. Hmmm. Something to ponder upon....
Thanksgiving was held at my sister's house again--she has the biggest home all set up for entertaining. We all bring a dish and she presents the meats (Turkey and a prime rib roast) and pies. My usual has been sweet potatoes. They were better that usual this time--I added pears to the mash. All the food was fantastic!! My nieces/nephews have grown into such beautiful people and were quite pleasant for company (ages 14-17 can be hit or miss). For all the social crap that could have been stirred up (mainly due to my dad) it was a very pleasant day. He and others held their tongues and amazingly no one lashed out at anyone. Whew. Family....there's always drama around the corner. This year has been especially difficult due to changes in my dad's behavior (maybe brain disease??, senility, Alzheimer's ??, but so far undiagnosed, so he's still held responsible for his mean behavior). Anyway, at the end of the day we all left with full tummies and warm and fuzzy feelings for each other--mostly. A day that reminds me I am so lucky and thankful for many, many wonderful things.
1. My health. Yes, the colonscopy biopsies were all normal. And I'm sure the thyroid nodule will be benign too.
2. All my immediate family members are alive and healthy, and so are their families.
2. My friends, who would do anything for me and my happiness. And visa versa (never sure how to spell that!).
3. My mom. An angel on earth.
4. My wonderful son and all the people who helped me to create him. And there were many. My undying gratitude will never waver and never feel like enough.
5. My home. Thank goodness I bought it when I did. Having to deal with what so many are going through with foreclosures or not even being able to scrape up the money to buy one in the first placeawful. A heartache I've been able to dodge.
6. The financial freedom to be able to work just 4 days a week. I love my work, but getting an extra day to spend with T and do whatever is priceless.
There are more, but those are the biggies.

Christmas Tree Day. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving I meet at the bottom of a nearby mountain with one of my best friends J with her family and her brother's family. Then we drive up a ridiculously steep and treacherous road up, up, uuuuup to the very top (passing many other tree farms along the way) . (Thank you to my car, for never failing me on the crazy things I ask you to do!) Next we break out he coffee, hot cocoa and donuts! Necessary sustenance for tree hunting. The kids LOVE every moment. Well, OK. We all do! Then we search and search and search for the best tree. I found ours first. The others had to go to the other side of the mountain to find theirs. It's tough work, you know. Not too tall, not too wide, no bald spots either. This year I returned the saw I accidentally took home last year. Oops. They have signs informing that if you steal a saw you will be charged $10! But with my winning smile and self-deprecating humorous story they not only didn't charge me but have me $5 off my tree purchase this year! And 3 candy canes to boot! See, this is why we go to effort to come to the very top of the mountain. High mountain folk are good people. J's brother brought their 12 week old Golden Retriever puppy along--extra fun for an already fun-filled morning. After all the pictures were taken of each family in pursuit of the perfect family photo for Christmas card making, we all made our way down the mountain with our trees roped to the roof of our cars.
Within the week, I had the tree up on in the living room and decorated. Well, the lights in it, anyway. My mom decorated it with all the decorations she's given me over the years, while she came over to babysit while I was away doing school work obligations. Thanks Mom!! It looks divine!

School stuff. I did it!!!! I finished up the practicum with my preceptor on December 6. They all gave me a lovely card with lots of compliments and well-wishing. And we had a little pot-luck too to celebrate the end of their OB/GYN experience and my last day. Next thing to concentrate on was the oral exams. I fine tuned my powerpoint presentation, added a few pictures for enhancement (and word relief--too much writing on each slide). I practiced and practiced to make sure I could present within a half hour. Got it down to 27-30 minutes. Then the big day. December 15. I dropped T off at school and returned home by 9AM. I gave myself one more timed practice--28 minutes. Good. Then made myself a cup of coffee and got a glass of water ready to relieve my already dry throat for the big event. The teacher called me at 10AM and gave me a special conference phone number with a secret code. I dialed with frozen fingers while the rest of my body suffered yet another hot flash. There were 3 over-educated women on the other end of the phone. They all sounded friendly but I knew they would be judging me shortly. Big breath. Introductions. Go. I gave my presentation with only a few flaws--occasionally reading the slides, but mostly going by my notes so it didn't sound too boring. At the end they had very few questions. Yay! I was hoping for that. The questions were more about what I'd learned and how I'd apply it to the future. Then they hung up to discuss me and my status--pass or fail (or rather need improvement--which means you have to do it over again later). Less than 5 minutes later my teacher phone me and told me I PASSED! They said they were so impressed with me that they want me to tell people that I went to Regis University and not to mention that I had any natural abilities before attending. Now, that was a nice thing to say. They like a person like me being associated with their school. Cool. I feel good. Next, I had to write a small evaluation on service learning and send in my last practicum journal. Did that in the next half hour. And then....DONE. I am done with all requirements for my Master's degree!!! Hurray!!! What a relief. It's been a long 2 1/2 years. It still hasn't fully hit me. I think I have to experience a few more days of no guilt over not doing something for school that I should be doing. NOT having some big project looming and pressing on my head, shoulders, entire being. Big, big breath.
Ahhhhh.
I'm glad I took on this challenge. I feel great in having accomplished it. And I cannot imagine I will ever enter academia as a student again. But that's how I always feel at graduation time. Who knows what the future holds. Might go for a doctorate someday. Ha! No. The stress would kill me...or at least age me much faster than normal wear and tear. Who needs that??
And would you look at that! Suddenly I can turn my head to the right again. Stress and nerves. They can tie you in knots!

Thyroid surgery. The surgery scheduler called and gave me the date: February 10. This works out perfect because my favorite co-worker asked if I could go out after February 7 so she could go back east for a visit to her family. I will have to take 4 weeks off work after the surgery according to the surgeon--she suggest not talking for 3-4 weeks to rest the nerve that will be undoubtedly strained and inflamed due to the surgery to remove this nodule. Hopefully I will awake with only half my thyoid removed and a small scar on my throat. If it's cancerous (a 20% chance) then the whole thing comes out and I'll be feeling anxious that I let 4 months pass after finding out the mass had grown to twice its prior size. I'm sure it will be fine. I much prefer being an optimist. Hopefully, I'll be feeling so good after surgery that I can take a trip up to the snow and have T take some ski lessons. I'd love for him to start learning this year.
Well, I think that's the major events. I'll post more as I think of things I left out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back from the near-dead....

Holy Cow!
This colonoscopy experience totally kicked my butt. Well, more than that. I was worthless for a day and a half. It started with the lovely prep they have me take to "clean things out" was totally GROSS. This time instead of the vile liquid (phoso-soda) I opted for tablets. FORTY of them! By the time I got the first 15 in I started heaving and the nausea waves were awful.
I have no idea how I did it, but all 40 stayed put.
By the time I showed up at the appointment, I was freezing cold, and hugging an emesis basin. Thank goodness the drugs were good for the event. I hardly remember a thing.
But when I woke up, I was prodded by a rude nurse who wanted nothing more than to empty the bed and get on to the next patient.
Sheesh! It was the first time in a day I didn't feel nauseous and I wanted to rest there a while.
But that wasn't happening. "Move your arms and and feet. That's right, open your eyes and sit up (as she raised the head of my bed)." I said, "hey, put my bed down and leave me alone. I'm just fine." I got about 2 minutes of peace and then she was at it again.
I had no choice. I got dressed and they wheeled me out.
My mom drove me home and I slept for the next 2 hours. Mom went to pick up T from school and apparently went and did a little shopping to give me some time at home to rest. (Thank you mom!) I woke up totally nauseous. And parched. I wanted to drink but whenever I tried, I heaved it up. What a NASTY feeling. It never let up....until about 9PM that night. Uggg.
But in the morning, the nausea was GONE.
Hallelujah!
I was pretty weak but when nausea leaves you, it's the most beautiful feeling. I weighed myself....down SEVEN pounds. Wow. But I still looked the same...well, maybe my face looked a little more drawn and tired. Certainly no fat was lost. Oh well. The weight will come back.
To be sure, I started with cereal for breakfast...and then a Togo's #9 for lunch! It felt good to eat! I bet I found most of my weight back. But still it's kind of yucky to drink fluids (since it's still kind of linked in my mind with the nausea) but in a few more days that will probably be gone.
T was such a dear when he saw me so sick. He rubbed my hair and patted my back and gave me lots of hugs. But after a couple of hours, he'd had enough and felt I should play Go Fish (card game) with him. I tried to explain that Mama couldn't hold up her head, let alone have any spit to say "go fish" but he didn't let up. The best I could do was snuggle with him when it was time to go to sleep. He'd never seen me sick like this before. Hopefully it won't ever happen again. Thank Goodness for my Mom!! She was an angel taking care of me and and T and everything else. Dad stopped by too and gave me a kiss.
Family. It's a good thing.
PS. Today I played Go Fish with T and, of course, he won. He was SO happy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making progress...

Today, thanks to my parents for watching my son, I was able to spend a big chunk of the day with a dear friend and colleague to further develop and finish my power point presentation for the oral comprehensive exams coming up on December 1. I thought it would only take a couple of hours since I had already put in the basic frame of what I wanted. But it took the two of us 5 1/2 hours to figure out what the instructors were really asking for in those cryptically written "objectives" they gave me. I still have to add some interesting pictures to break up all the written language that each slide has, but I think it's pretty good. I have notes to myself that I can refer to as I speak so hopefully I won't blank out and forget what I need to say.
I just sent the power point to my instructor so she can give me feedback--and HOPEFULLY she'll say "Oh, this looks great! Oh-my-gosh, I'm so impressed! No changes are suggested!"
'Cause I really don't want to mess with it anymore!
Once I hear back from her (or maybe before, since I'm reeeeeally hoping she won't have me fix anything, I'll practice giving the presentation and time myself. I have to do it in about 30 minutes, which should be doable since there are only 25 slides.
Today, I have also been enjoying a clear liquid diet. I'm pretty sick of tea and bouillon so I went to the store to buy some ready-made jello (didn't think to make it ahead of time). But they didn't have any gelatin without a creamy parfait-type addition or fruit added. Finally I found some lunch-pack sized jell-o products but of the 6-pack, FOUR of them were red jello (a no-no says the bowel prep instructions). Frustrated, I bought it anyway and figured I eat the 2 orange ones and keep the others to mix with whipped cream once I finish this madness.
Tomorrow, after I drop off T and his classmate A to school, my mom will bring me (she's spending the night over my house) to have the procedure done. I'll be sedated (thank goodness!) so I have to have a driver to go home with.
But in the mean time, I must swallow 3 capsules every 15 minutes with lots of water, until I get 20 of them in me. Only to repeat the process again tomorrow morning. And you know what this stuff is supposed to do, don't you?? Did I say this was a bowel prep?? Yep, I'll be spending a large portion of the evening (and morning) very near the bathroom.
Yuck.
I hate this crap. Did I say crap??
*sigh*
Well, there are certainly worse things....gotta keep looking on the bright side....perspective, perspective.
Colonoscopy, here I come!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My thyroid saga

So yesterday I met with the surgeon and she gave me my options: continue to watch it or surgery. Since I've already watched it for 2 years but now it's growing at a pretty fast rate, I opted for surgery. She said there was only a 20% chance that it would be cancerous. Once she's taken a sample of the mass, she'll send it for a frozen section and get the answer before she closes me up. If it's NOT cancerous, I just lose the right side of my thyroid and hopefully the part that's left will be enough to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone. But if it IS cancerous, then the nodule and the whole thyroid come out. And then I have to take replacement thyroid pills for the rest of my life. But that's better than cancer, so it's hard to argue that point. The surgery will take about 2.5 hours to do and apparently I have a nice little crease in my neck exactly where she would make the incision. It's nice to wrinkle in the right spots--if one has to wrinkle at all. ;)
I don't know the exact date yet, but probably the first week of February. She's full until January 27. But, there's a big chance that I can go earlier if there are cancellations of other surgeries. She advised I take off 3-4 weeks off work, but better 4 weeks because of a nerve that runs through there that goes to my vocal cords. It will become inflamed with the surgery and I have to allow for the swelling to go down before trying to talk. So that's nice....I think. Time off work is always appreciated. Plus I have plenty of warning to my co workers so they can arrange for my absence. And one of my coworkers is finally coming back to join us next month after a few months off for hip replacement surgery. So, it all works out. As it usually does.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parent Teacher Conference

This morning I had my first parent-teacher conference. T came with me since I had no where to put him and school would start right after wards anyway. He did a good job of being quiet but staying within ear shot so he could hear what we had to say.
Mrs. V gave me glowing reports on all areas for T! The only area we need to work on is penmanship. Which I already knew. He is always in too much of a rush and doesn't take his time to make the letters more perfectly shaped. Plus, in class, it's play time once the work is finished. So first one done with school work gets his pick of the toys. Also, T has a habit of holding the pencil with all four or 5 fingers--looks all cramped. I'm constantly reminding him to hold the pencil/marker with 3 fingers (a thumb and 2 fingers to be precise) but it's not natural for him. Yet.
I'm very proud. He's reading at 1st grade level. He learns so quickly. I only have to show something once, and if I have at least half of his attention, he's got it. Except for the penmanship. But that will come with more time and practice.
I'm still working on my power point for my oral exam. It's going slow. And sometimes I opt not to work on it because I'm just too tired (like last night). But I've GOT to finish it by this weekend so the teacher can review it before the big day.
Last Monday, it was unusual but very welcome to be busy while doing my practicum hours at the hospital. The student nurses were so busy that they often came to me for help and support in doing different tasks for their patients. It made the time go by so fast and it felt good to feel useful. Hopefully the rest of the Mondays I have to be with them will equally fly by just as fast.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Too Many Pots to Stir

I've been away...
Last Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I trekked up and down every day to the city for a big conference. I learned a lot and was generally blown away by all the courses and smart people giving the courses. And all the smart people in the audiences! But it was exhausting too. Poor T didn't much like it either that I was gone all weekend and too long on the week days.
Today he was so happy to have me around. He said, "Mama, I like you much better when you are not working." Awww. Well, I hope he likes me the same but the extra time together is what I got out of it. What a sweetie. I'm soooo glad I get to work a 4 day week. We played Go Fish, Candy Land and drew pictures almost non-stop! Now if I can get done with the school cr*p, I'll have more time and energy to be a really good mom!
I'm scrambling with school. I haven't finished my volunteer hours at my chosen charity and the evaluation is DUE this week. I'll pull something out a hat and make sure it's finished. But it's not helping to settle my tummy--all this deadline crap-ola. I still haven't put together my powerpoint that I have to present with my oral comprehensive evaluation--looming near on December 1. I'm supposed to send the power point to my teacher 2 weeks ahead of time to make sure I've addressed all areas. I'll be a little late on it, but I think I'll be OK.
I was absolutely blank on how to start. So I called one of the students who chose to go first with her oral exam (hers is on Monday). She gave me some GREAT tips on how to start. Now I have some idea on the skeleton of the presentation and also what kinds of things the judges in Denver will be looking for and asking about.
Next Thursday, I meet with the surgeon on my thyroid mass. And the week after that....a colonoscopy!!! Aren't you all envious at all the attention I'm getting??
Good times.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween

T the Pterodactyl at our front door.

Halloween was a lot of fun, as usual. T's school encouraged the kids to dress up and even had a fundraiser for portraits to be taken of the kids (for $5 for a 5x7). I paid it so hopefully it will be a nice one.
T was a pterodactyl and I was a witch. I knew the head part of the outfit for T would probably be pushed off for most of the day, so I painted his little face with green and orange colors to match the colors of the suit.
The pterodactyl smiles.


T shows how he would fly with his little wings. :)

I bought some green eye shadow and brushed it all over, blacked out my eyes and added some unattractive shadowing, plus a black dress, wig and hat and tadaaah! A witch.
I dressed that way for work and kept up the whole gig all day until after 9PM where I SO looked forward to a shower to get that stuff off! My patients loved it. And if they procreated that day, it would create a lasting memory of that day, for sure!
T and his classmates went on a little field trip and took a school bus to the district offices, sang Halloween songs and went office to office collecting candy. He got quite a booty of stuff!!
After work, T and my mom were waiting for me. Mom was feeling a little under the weather (?something she ate?) and so just T and I went to our neighbors house for a little pizza party and then some trick or treating around the neighborhood. We took a couple of blocks and collected quite enough candy! One house even had a big cotton candy machine in their driveway and was whirling out cotton candy for everyone! And the smell was divine! There were a few scuffles along the way with the kids getting too excited and wanting to be first to each door, running across yards, falling, tripping, and even yelling.....while 2 inches from her face to WALK ON THE SIDEWALK AND NOT IN THE GRASS!!!! (uh, yeah, my kid...) When the 5 year old recipient of that rant started to wail from fear, I felt like I SO wanted to be in the nearest deep dark hole. Fortunately, all was forgiven quickly, but still, I wished it hadn't happened. T and I had a chat about it later and hopefully he is learning about who is in charge and who is not.
All in all, it was a great day and everyone had an excellent time.


Here we all are, the hosts of the Halloween bash-ette and us.



Good times!

I'm tired....

I know it's been a while and I want to post....but I'm too tired. I spent 4 hours this morning putting together a powerpoint presentation (with my angel, M--thank God for her!) for my lecture on Monday and this evening (after T went to bed) putting the finishing touches on my paper for school. Now I have to make a power point to go along with it....but I'm tired. Did I say that already?
*sigh*
I'll write about Halloween another day soon. Promise.
Here's something cute T said today:
It's been raining most of the day and T seems a little perturbed that it's getting in the way of his playing outside. Seems like he doesn't remember that water can fall from the sky. But it HAS been a while around here--maybe past his point of memory even! I told him that it's good to rain for the plants and flowers. He quickly said, "No, Mom. It's more better to use a hose!", using his arms and hands to show how he'd hold that hose. I totally get that rationale in is brain. I'm a summer kind a person too.
Good night.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peer Pressure

Yesterday I was unpacking T's lunch bag--usually a few empty zip lock bags and a slightly sticky tumbler cup where his juice used to be. But this time the juice cup was totally full. He generally loves his juice (I often make it 50-50 with juice and water to cut down on sugar content) so it surprised me to find it untouched. It was a brand new beautiful new bright orange color (his choice) cup with a screw on lid. There was a hole in one side of the lid to suck out the drink. I got him this new "big kid" type cup because a few weeks ago he told me that "sippy cups" were for babies. That's what I used to send his drinks in at the beginning of the school year. I was sure this new perspective on sippy cups had come from the other kids at school. I thought this new cup, without the obvious big mouth spout, would be acceptable.
But, no.
When I asked why he didn't drink his juice, he said he was "too shy about having a sippy cup and he didn't want to the other kids to see it." I felt bad for him. Someone's making fun of him and he felt embarrassed. Kids will always find something. Darn it. And it's a beautiful tumbler! Oh well, we'll just have to use it at home. I told him we'd find a "big boy thermos where he can pour his own drink into a cup." He seemed quite happy with that and chimed in, "Yeah, for BIG boys!"
Today, I packed a little juice box with his lunch. I think that's acceptable to the kids since most of them drink from them. I gotta stay in touch with what's cool--to a five year old, and every year after that!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moving along...

Yesterday I took the last of the scheduled tests and PASSED. Hurray. I'm happy that part is over with. But now I've got several other projects I need to complete before my big day for the oral test: December 1. Yikes. It scares me to death. It will be over the phone, but still, it's nerve wracking.
Mom is feeling TONS better now, thank goodness. She watched T after school yesterday so I could do some more hours for my preceptorship. I spent the day in a skills lab testing the students and then giving evaluations (with their instructor) on how they did for the past 6 weeks. These students will now go into the pediatrics area of study and other half of Quarter 3 students come from pedi to OB. It was a good day and lots more fun that hanging around in the hospital waiting for students to need me. We finished early after the evaluations, so I took the opportunity to go shopping! I bought 4 pairs of shoes! Yikes! It was a load of money, but I do appreciate a well made shoe, and I rationalized that a) I deserved a treat for doing well on my test and b) I kinda needed new shoes for the winter months, and c) I'm worth it! Then I went to mom's house and she treated us all (my brother came over too) to a nice dutch meal of brussel sprouts, boiled potatoes, and meatballs. Yum.
Oh, yeah. And I'm going to need surgery soonish. Last week I had an ultrasound of my thyroid done. Two years ago I discovered a mass on my thyroid. The thyroid function is normal and the mass has been biopsied twice with benign results with no further growth in size. But this time the ultrasound indicated that the mass has grown to twice its size (5.5 cm in one dimension) and so now either I can have a fine needle aspiration again, or have the entire nodule removed. I opted for the latter. I'd be afraid with an FNA that they might miss a portion of the mass and not get a good sampling. On November 19 I get a consultation with the surgeon ( I picked the best one I know of) and then likely a scheduling for surgery to remove the mass. As vain as I am, I'm actually more worried about the scar afterward. I scar badly and tend to make keloids. But, I gotta do what I gotta do. (pray it's not cancer!) Maybe I'll start wearing ribbon choker necklaces if it looks horrid. OR, just display my new scar as one more battlefield mark in this adventure we call life! Yea, that's the ticket!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No go on the "forego" of diapers

Well, stars are powerful but not so much as to wake my boy in the middle of the night to go potty IN the potty, instead of the diaper.
Last night, at 3:30AM (wasn't sleeping too well myself), the diaper flooded and the bed had a nice big wet spot in it. I stripped him down, put a big towel underneath him and put a new diaper on--all while he slept.
In the morning he had a dry diaper on. Imagine that! I said, "Well, that doesn't really count because look at what happened to the first diaper and Mama's bed." He decided that was old news and what really counted is that the MORNING diaper was still dry. "You should be proud of me Mama, because I have a dry diaper." Oy. I countered that I was proud of him but the star cannot be earned when the starting out diaper was flooded through with pee." He tried to argue his point, but dropped it pretty quickly.
I think I'll put this off for a while and just praise like heck if we actually do get a dry diaper. It's apparently not the right time yet. And I don't want to make him anxious over it.
Thanks for the advice, Billy.
But the stars are still coming for the great "choices" he's making at school. We keep getting good notes about how well he's doing. Yay.
Today, all the kindergartners went on their first field trip. They are going to an outdoor park and will be learning about their 5 senses, eating a bag lunch and then returning by bus again. I loved field trips when I was in school. Hopefully everyone had a great time. Tonight we are going out for dinner at a restaurant that will give a portion of their profits to our school. Another way to fund raise. I've never been to this restaurant and it will be fun to go with other folks from school.
Mom's not feeling any better yet. I encouraged her to make an appointment with the same doctor (she really liked her) and let her know the antibiotics may not be working. We'll see how things go. She's planning to get her hair done tomorrow--something that lifts her spirits, so I hope she'll be able to drive herself to the appointment and also watch T after school. She says she's up to it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Awesome Power of Star Stickers

On Monday, I reminded T that I'd hope we could put a sticker on his chart for good behavior at school. He already got to put some stars on the squares for brushing his teeth and putting his plates/cups in the kitchen after eating, and getting dressed by himself. He was so excited to earn the stars!
On Mondays I volunteer in the class for an hour (the last hour of class). When I got there T was happy to see me and eager to show me how good he was behaving. When some of the boys were fighting over some toys/games, he was sure to stand up and wave his arms in telling them "No fighting. No fighting." All the while looking sideways at me to make sure I was seeing him trying to instill order and not being part of the disorder. The teacher said, right away, that T was making lots of good choices all day long. That's my boy!
When we got home, he got to put a star in the space next to that expectation/task. He was so proud. And me too.
I decided to add underneath that task, "Dry Diaper!!" He still wets his diaper at night about 75% of the time. He says he tries but I still can't get him to wake up and go pee in the potty. I've limited fluids in the evening, made him pee just before bed, but still, it's an issue. Hopefully, wanting to wrack up stars will be an incentive for him to want to try harder.
Last night, he woke up and went pee at 12:30AM....but still woke up in the morning with a slightly used diaper. Shoot. Well, we'll keep trying.
But on the positive side, he earned another good behavior sticker from Mrs. V at school!

Don't Make Waves...

Last Friday night, as I was leaving from work (at 7PM, typical for a Friday) I realized my wallet was missing. I'm not panicking because I'm pretty sure I left it at home, and besides, wouldn't a robber have taken the cards and money and not the whole wallet?? Somehow I felt better that the whole wallet was missing and not just the stuff inside it. I stopped by my house on the way to my mom's. (T was already there as my mom picked him up from school, the usual routine on Fridays.) When I got home, I found my wallet wasn't there, and then realized I might have left it at work inside a bag that I use to do specialized Xrays. Hopefully, it would be there. If it was there, it would be safe, but now I wouldn't have my wallet to go grocery shopping or get gas. While at my house I checked phone messages: a message from T's teacher: something about a behavior problem at school. Darn. That doesn't sound good.
As I was driving to my mom's, I realized it doesn't take that much for me to feel like the world is falling apart and crashing down around my knees. I must be living with my nose just about the water line. Any little wave or glitch in my routine and everything feels out of control. I take note of this fact and keep on driving, telling myself that all will work out in the next couple of days. I can only focus on today's issues and not look too far into the future for what's required of me. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed.
I arrive at my mom's and it's kinda late. T is yawning and ready for bed, plus my mom looks like hell and I feel I need to be there for her and take care of her. I feel bad about my mom watching him because she's been pretty sick with a nasty cough and body aches. It doesn't seem to be getting any better for the past week.

During the night my mom can't stop coughing. I tried to do what I could. She'd already taken the Nyquil and rubbed Vicks over her throat and chest. I gave her an inhaler to help with inflammation (but it's not for immediate help and needs a few days to make a difference) and some cough drops to soothe the constant tickle in her throat. It seems to help in spacing out the coughing spells but I've resolved to call in the morning to have her evaluated by a doctor.

Next morning, I get the appointment for my mom. She called me later to tell me she has pneumonia. Sheesh. First, my brother in August. Then, my dad gets bronchitis a few weeks ago. Now this. Fortunately, they gave her some medications and hopefully in 2-3 days she'll be feeling much better. T's teacher called me and explained there was a problem with T hitting or kicking the other kids during play time outside. Inside the classroom, all was fine, but outside they always do a chasing type of game that escalates into pushing and kicking. I told her that T knows that is unacceptable behavior and I don't know what I can do when I'm not there. So the plan was that I was to reinforce that Mrs V would be watching him during the day and would tell me if he behaved badly or made good choices. I bought a chart at the store called "My chores" with different headings for tasks and boxes to place stickers if a good job was done. In one of the empty spaces I wrote: Good report from Mrs. V.

We'll see how this chart helps with reinforcing and praising good behavior. He seems excited.

Oh, and I stopped by work on Saturday, and retrieved my wallet (intact) from the bag I'd put it in. Whew. One catastrophe avoided.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Status Quo

Not much going on...
Last Sunday, my mom and I went up for a 3 year old birthday party--my sister's grandchild by marriage (her step daughter had a baby) and so we went to show support for her. We don't really connect with my sister's step daughter--she keeps her distance for some reason. But her little boy is a doll and my sister loved that we came.

Last weekend I wrote about 90% of my big fat scholarly paper due in a few weeks. I finished at 2AM on Saturday night and it looked good then. But I better re-read it and refine it. I'm sure it could be improved. And I also have to create a power point to go along with it. But the next 2 weeks are pegged to study for the Legal Environment in health care, so that's where my efforts are going now.

Last Monday, in T's class I got to work with the kids, two at a time, in making a pattern that repeats itself with Fruit Loops and a piece of yarn. When they finished, they each had a lovely necklace to wear. T and another child were first and they did great! I got through 12 kids--most were excellent with the concept of a repeating pattern but some needed more help. Plus I made a rule that they could eat the "duds" (broken loops) and it was almost as much fun looking for those as it was making the necklaces.

Last Tuesday my mom dropped off my dad at the airport to go to Holland for a 4 week vacation. He was quite nervous to find his way in the airport on his own, but we informed the KLM people that he'd need some guidance to get to the terminal and they were fine with it. He called the next day to let us know that he arrived safely, so hopefully all will go well with his planned reunion with his six sisters and any friends he can locate and visit with. Dad's 77 now and his sisters are all still relatively healthy (a little diabetes and hypertension here and there) but you never know when one will be taken. It's good to go now while all are still doing well. Mom was looking forward to some quiet time alone, but wouldn't you know it, she caught a nasty virus 2 days before Dad's plane was to take off. Their house is looking pretty nice now. A few months a go they got nice replacement windows and last weekend, the house was painted. Now a little attention to the lawn and it will be lovely, once again. Hopefully, mom will recover soon and we able to enjoy herself fully.

I decorated the house for Halloween and took out my costume so the wrinkles will let loose. I'm gonna be a witch and T will be a dinosaur. At first he was going to be a Prince, but mom found an excellent dinosaur costume for cheap at Savers. Plus, T loves it too. T is excited to have the jack-o-lanterns around the house. He remembers well last year and all the fun he had. This year we are starting out at a neighbors house of his best buddy (a girl named "A") and have dinner there. It's a birthday party too because it's also A's dad's birthday on the 31st. Several other kinder kids are coming too, so I'm sure lots of fun will be had.

This Sunday I'm having A's family over for spaghetti dinner. Mostly as a way to say "thank you" for being gracious enough to pick up T from the CDC last Monday when mom couldn't babysit for me (she caught a nasty virus and is unable to do much), and also because they're good, fun people! I had to go to the hospital for my preceptorship, but left a few hours early so I could get T at 8PM from their house and put him to bed. It's SO good to have neighbors that are there for each other. I hope one of these days I can do something for them, if they are ever in a bind.

Tomorrow is a teacher in-service day and that means "no school", so I have to find a babysitter for T. My mom might be able to do it, but since she's been pretty sick, I have to find a plan B just in case. Perhaps I could bring him to Kids Park for 5 hours (they have a 5 hour daily limit per kid) so I still have to find another babysitter for the rest of the day. We'll see how it works out. Fridays are very busy at work and I don't dare call in sick as all my patients would have to be loaded onto the other's already full schedules.

I'm having a hard time making myself study this week. I'm tired of studying and the subject isn't very enticing--legal environment. Blah. Plus, I've had head aches and my neck is quite stiff--no doubt from stress. But Excedrin or Motrin always does the trick!

One day at a time....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Boy Can Really READ!

Last night at bed time the book T chose to read was the book we received for the week from school. It's called Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik. This book has four different little stories written over 63 pages. Most of the pages have pictures, but still, it's quite a bit of reading for a 5 year old. And T read every word on every page all by himself! He only had trouble with the more difficult words. Words like "climbed", "beautiful", and "thought". Why do we put a "b" in climb anyway? And what's with all those extra letters in beautiful and thought?? It's tough getting the hang of English! Every few pages I would tell him how proud I was that he could read all the words, and he just BEAMED. He loves to read, but especially, he loves to show others how he can do special and difficult tasks. All it takes is a "high five", hugs, and lots of praise for a job well done. He amazes me all the time.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Second Tooth Lost!

Well, not really lost...just out. :)
T's second little tooth came out on October 3 while at school. The "big" tooth was already coming through behind it so now that the baby tooth is out, there's not much of an "empty" space there. The teacher saved it in an envelope and that night the tooth fairy came. She found him, even though we were staying over Oma and Opa's house! In the morning he found a special gold $1 coin with a picture of John Adams on it, inside a silver box. At first he was disappointed since it wasn't a "green" dollar. I forgot to mention ahead of time how special gold dollars were. But he's liking it now. We have a special card (that we bought at the recent school fund raiser) to put in all the presidential $1 coins and this is our first in the collection.
I wonder when the top "two front teeth" will come out. Hopefully together because I think it's so cute to see a toothless grin for a little while. Maybe by Christmas?? So he can sing "All I Want For Christmas" with a big lisp! Yep! Gonna get that on video, for sure!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yahooooo!


Yes, that's right! I passed. I passed. I paaaaasssssed!!
Not only did I pass but my score was an impressive 90%. Considering I flunked the first class, and my repeat test brought me just barely entering into the acceptable zone, I'm pretty happy with my results!
Whooo hooo! Glad that's over with. Now on to the next hurdle--write a scholarly paper worth 30% of my total grade, over the next 5 days. Usually, I'm pretty good under pressure, so hopefully it will all come together by the weekend.


For those waiting on news of what I might have done with my hour of volunteering in class with T, I worked with a few kids in trying to get the mathematical concepts of creating repeating patterns with a few lego pieces. And then transferring the created pattern to paper by coloring in the squares placed on the page. It was fun. The teacher gave me the names of kids who needed extra attention. At first, they didn't understand, but when I asked them to make a pattern and what would come next, they all answered correctly...eventually. It was good learning. T was totally excited to have me there. He introduced me to the class and then proceeded to bounce around the floor, walls, etc. The teacher said he's usually better behaved but, clearly, was excited to have me there. I took it as a good thing. But, hopefully, next week he'll be able to show me his "good manners". The last 20 minutes of my hour was spent sorting and organizing picture flash cards that, apparently, the kids had gotten a hold of on the day there was a substitute teacher. It was a mess, but easy enough to put in order again. Just takes a little time and a bunch of counter space to lay them all out.

Yesterdays time with my preceptor was better than last week. I had a little more to do and my preceptor had me "grade" quizzes and go over care plans turned in by the students.

Thursday I am taking an educational leave day to attend another lecture at the college. I also was invited to teach to all the third quarter nursing students on November 4. I'll be presenting information on infertility. I have the PowerPoint already but I'm going to change a few things to make it more meaningful to nursing students. They asked if I was OK in being taped. Yikes. I better put some thought to what I'm going to wear!

Tonight, like just about every night, T and I read a few stories before bed. A perfect ending to a perfect day.









Monday, October 6, 2008

Big Test Coming Up

I'm studying my butt off.
Every day.
Trying to get new information to stick inside an old(er) head. :)
I sure hope I do OK. Tomorrow is the big test. I have to pass by 76% or I must take the test again, no sooner than 30 days later. Plus pay another $150 for the privilege.
The first test I had to take....I failed by 2% points. It was a shocker. But then I decided, well, it's character building. And if this was easy, anyone could do it. It will feel more like a HUGE accomplishment now.
But now I'm done with that. I just HAVE to pass. I don't have the time or energy to study for this test all over again.
I took some time out just now to call my cousin Meta. I tried calling many times yesterday because it was her 38th birthday. But I just got a busy signal. Weird, since my Dad was also having the same trouble in dialing any phone number for Holland. She sounded great and things are going well for her and her kids. The arrangement between her estranged husband and the caring of the kids seems to be very amicable and I'm so happy for that. I hope we check in with each other more often. I would love to know more about the daily happenings in her life. She's a wonderful human being. We clicked from the moment we met back in 1990 and we have a special bond that doesn't really need nurturing but feels good to experience every time we chat.
So, this morning I will study for an hour and then I get to volunteer for an hour in T's class. I don't know what I'll be doing, but I imagine the kids will be put into small groups and we'll work on writing, or reading or math skills. I'll let you know later.
Then I have to go to the hospital from 2 PM to 10 PM for another day in my preceptorship. I hope there is more for me to do so the time passes more quickly than it did last week. But it will be 8 more hours chipped away at the 105 hour goal!
Mom will be coming over at 1PM to watch T. It's a really nice arrangement for us. And I think Mom likes being here too.
Over the weekend, I purchased tickets for Dad to go to Holland for 4 weeks. He's jazzed to make a reunion that is happening with folks from the town where he grew up. And, honestly, Mom is super jazzed to have some peace and quiet around the house. :)
It's nice to have some "me" time for Mom. Especially since retirement-- he rarely leaves the house anymore. Time apart is a good thing.
Anyway...Gotta get studying!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Reading Star!

T with fellow kinder classmate and best buddy, A

Last Thursday I had a message from someone at school that said there would be an awards ceremony at 9AM and T would be getting an award, so it would be nice to see you there.
Sheesh. Talk about last minute! And on a Friday, when work is always slammin' busy! I left a message for my co-worker that I need to see what this ceremony was about and that I'd be about 20 minutes late (lie, lie, lie). But I had to see what T would be awarded!
Since it was Friday, the day started with the kids walking across the street, single-file, to the black top playground and saying the "pledge of allegiance". Everyone. In unison. It was just a site. I had my video camera ready and hopefully I captured how cool it was. After a few announcements and rah-rahs for certain classes doing well in fund raising, all 5 kinder classes crowded into the media room and sat around the stage area. The parents that came were pressed up against the back perimeters of the room.
There were 4 areas to be awarded.
1. Best citizenship-- being kind and respectful to others.
2. Most improved
3. Math awards
4. Reading awards
Since any of those things was a potential area (well, OK, I'd be surprised if he got the best citizen ship award--we're still working on the social skills) for T, I was hoping he would be included in the FIRST category--go I could leave and get to work without being ridiculously late.
But of course not.
Each category had about 12 kids that each were recognized and then invited up on stage to accept a special ribbon. And then a group photo was taken. Lots of applause all along the way.
Category after category and I could see T wanting to be called but having to put his hand down frequently as he wasn't called forward.
I was getting nervous and starting palpitations as time ticked by...
Finally it came, second to the last kid called up.
Hooray! T earned an award for being a great reader and knowing all of his "sight" words. Words such as "I, he, she, we, like, a, at, the, come, with look," etc. There are 32 in all. He knew them straight away and didn't need to study them. It's nice to be recognized and all the students were beaming has they got their moments in the sun.
Some kids went up accidentally, having the same first names, but the "wrong" child graciously gave the ribbon to the correct awardee and even gave her a hug and then sat down again. Wow. That's pretty special for a kindergartner.
The only bummer is that I had difficulties with my camera for a picture of the group of Star Readers (batteries had fallen out of the camera!) but at least I got it on tape! I was so proud!
And then I had to scramble out of there and make apologies to my colleagues for covering my butt, since I showed up ridiculously late, back in the clinic.
It was worth it, though.

Little catch up

My nephew J, with T and I.


My nephew J on is eighth birthday party at Iceland ice rink.


Helping with a little slip.


Playing together on the ice--J, T and me.

Last Sunday, T, my mom and I went to Iceland (no, not the country! lol) for my nephew's 8th birthday party. We had a family party last weekend but this was the one with his friends. And since I have a son who likes to ice skate, we were invited too. It was a lot of fun. First there was pizza and ice cream cake and then 3 hours of ice skating! T did so well last time (about 6 months ago, his second experience at it) that I thought he'd probably be fine without me being on the ice with him. But no. He was not having fun hanging on the wall and was too small to catch the eye of any of the 8 year old friends from his cousin. So I got on some skates and held on to him for the next hour. He was getting better slowly but still watching all the other kids or seeing if Oma was watching him to get the hang of skating at all. Then...I was slowly skating backwards (slowly, because I'm not very good at skating!) and T let go of the wall and with a steely eyed stare into my eyes he skated all the way to me! We kept doing that, concentrating on him looking only at me while he skated towards me. And that was all he needed to learn how to ice skate. We went for longer and longer treks towards me, and then he could do it all by himself. But still would get side tracked and need to see who was around or looking at him. He was constantly looking around for Oma or anyone he knew to look at him skate. Afterwards, he asked if we could go skating every day, because he really likes it. I said, we'll go again pretty soon...
We had dinner at my sister and brother-in-law's home and it was nice hanging out with the family. My nephew got a few more presents and really seemed to enjoy the books and pok-e-mon trading cards he received.
Yesterday was my first day in the hospital with my preceptor and nursing students. First I got a ID badge for the hospital and then we met before the shift started (at 2PM) to discuss expectations and assignments. There are 3 areas: maternity, nursery, and Labor and Delivery (L&D). I was pretty much hanging around maternity in support of any of the students there. My preceptor came by once in a while but mainly spent her time in nursery and L&D. I got to help the nurses with administering oral medication, IM shots, discontinuing a foley catheter and getting a post cesarean patient up the the bathroom and cleaning her up. The initial shift exams were given together with their assigned nurse. It was kinda cool. So neat to see the nervousness and excitement in their faces when they do something new. And then that great sense of accomplishment when they've done it right. It's confidence being built right before my eyes. I'm happy I get a hand in supporting these little steps in creating a really good nurse. But it was also a little boring. Not enough for me to do. And I don't know their computer system so I couldn't help with that part.
This Thursday I will attend the theory lecture from 10:30 to 2:30 and after that I will go to an Administrative meeting for the nursing department. Little by little chipping away at the 105 hours that I have to do.
I read an email from my practicum instructor asking when I will be sending her my journal entry and hours completed. What!? I didn't know I was supposed to do that. I have to re-read the paper work again on all the assignments that I have to do.
Just when I thought I had it down. Darn it.
So far the studying for the next test...coming on Oct 7...is going well. I know more than I ever did before on Nursing Research (and lots of research terminology)!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hitting is not allowed

Yesterday while at work, I got a call from the CDC. My first thought was "What?! The Centers for Disease Control are calling ME?" But then I realized (with all the kids yelling in the background) that it was the Child Development Center where T goes for after school child care. Apparently T was hitting kids and then claiming it was "an accident". The care giver told T if he did it one more time, his mom was going to be called. Hence, the phone call.
I told her I couldn't say why he was hitting since he knows that's unacceptable behavior. She put T on the phone (and I could overhear he didn't want to talk to me) but as soon as he got on the phone I could hear (and just picture it too) crocodile tears and he was crying about how he missed me. It just broke my heart. It was 4PM and I couldn't leave work for another 1 1/2 hours. I tried to calm him down and ask that he not hit anyone anymore. It was all blubbering after that and I couldn't understand him. Poor guy. Either he was really having a hard time being in the CDC that day or he was totally snowing me and using his best acting skills to manipulate my actions towards him. I'll never know for sure, but the latter is a big possibility. And even if I could get someone to pick him up early, or some how get myself there so he could leave the CDC, he'd be learning that all he has to do is be a "naughty boy", cry a bit and then get he'll get his way.
*sigh*
It's a learning process-- on my end, as well as his.
When I picked him up at 5:40 he was his normal self. And then he threw a marble at the counselor's head. He was told not to by the counselor, but I made him officially apologize for doing that.
AND, if I hear that he hits anyone or throws anything--no ice cream for him. That's a big deal, because he loves his ice cream desserts after dinner! We'll see how this motivates him in, hopefully, the right direction.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grad Student, that's me!

Yesterday I spent my first day as a preceptee. I went to the college in the morning and stayed all day. It was kind of exciting and interesting being among college students on their first day of school. It was also exhausting. I know I'm feeling stressed since a few days ago I got a huge pain in the right side of my neck so that I can't turn my head to the right. This is exactly what used to happen whenever I was near final exams in my college days. I hope it lets up soon.
When I was being introduced to the faculty and students, I was described as a "graduate student". I thought that was so cool. I've been one for the past 2 years, but no one's ever described me that way yet. I used to hear others say it about themselves or someone else, and it was a level of study I admired but never saw myself getting that far. But now, it's me. I'm the grad student. I like it. I'm glad someone said that about me now, before I graduated, so that I could feel what it's like to wear that hat. And have others see me that way. Neat.
Mom picked up T from school and took him to their house until I could be there at dinner time. Thank goodness for my parents--I couldn't do this without them.
Today I just feel an overall body ache, like all my muscles are super tight. Again, probably the stress.
I made a daily calender of events so that I have all my tests, papers and study schedules written out. It's pretty tight but if I stick to the daily plan, all will be turn out well. I sure hope I pass the tests on Oct 7 and 27. If I don't, I have to wait 30 days before I can retake it.
Well, it's lunch time at work now. I think I'll go to the grocery store and get some needed items so that the house will have what I need to prepare Ts lunches and have decent dinners without too much effort.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So overwhelmed

I meant to write a few days ago but I've been so overwhelmed with trying to get a handle on the demands of this practicum (my last course in getting my master's degree) and also keeping up with the extra time needed for T's school. Last night I did an hour of volunteer time for kindergarten by making "kindergarten journals" for the kids. They will, undoubtedly, be homework in the coming weeks. It's just practice for writing their letters and words.
I was up till 1AM last night reading all the entries in my class from other classmates. I have to put in my post by this weekend but first I have to research some theorists and their ideas to put together a well thought out, informative post. Then I have to respond to at least one other classmate's post, in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Not just a , "yes, I agree what you've said." type post. It's like writing a mini scholarly paper.
Speaking of. I have to write a large scholarly paper on a nursing theory and a power point presentation that represents what's in my paper. PLUS put together an power point show indicating how I've accomplished all the objectives and goals of the master's program for my oral composition testing. We have to pick a date for that excruciating hour. I picked December 1. Not too early and not the last.
PLUS, I have to put together a professional portfolio that I started at the beginning of this journey, 2 years ago. But of course I haven't even looked at it, let alone added to it (as suggested) for the last 2 years. Too many other things to do!
PLUS I have to volunteer my 4 hours of service learning AND write reflection papers on the experiences.
Add to that, every Monday and some Thursdays I have to be with my preceptor and at some point prepare a lecture to give to the students.
Every time I have to log on to class, I have to get up quickly and run to the bathroom. That's the effect of stress on me--right in the gut. It makes writing papers more lengthy with all the bathroom runs I have to make!
Today, I'm calling to commit myself to taking the last two CLM classes. That way, if I have a date I MUST be prepared to be tested, I'll make myself crack open the binders and study. Plus, if I fail any test (yes, it happened with CLM test #1) they won't let me retake it for 30 days. And I HAVE to get these tests done before the Oral Comps can be taken.
It's very very stressful!!!
I have a few moments in my work day to write this, but now, that time is up.
Until next time....
This weekend, I'm going to my sister's for a BBQ. It's her son's 8th birthday party. Oh, that reminds me, I gotta get to the store and get a birthday present!
Stuff, stuff and more stuff to do.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Whoo hoooo! I got a preceptor!

Man, am I happy that the woman I'd hoped would take me on has agreed. And just in the nick of time! She wrote me quickly after I emailed her and I went to her office for in interview to discuss the particulars of my class and needs. She is a Russian immigrant who has a master's degree in Electrical Engineering while in Russia and worked at a software engineer for NASA. After she came to the US and studied nursing, starting with an AS degree and continuing with school until earned her master's in nursing, specializing in midwifery. She's been teaching at the local community college for the past 3 years, while working in a busy practice with one partner at a nearby hospital. She hasn't had a vacation in a while since her colleague went to Malasia for an extended period of time, so she's now taking a break and going to Hawaii before school begins. She seems pretty easy going and understanding of what it's like to be a student. She wants to give me the experience I need and is also excited that I might teach her and the students a bit about infertility. We've divided up the time and figured I'll be spending all day Mondays with her and occasional Thursday and attend a couple of the monthly administrative meetings. That should give me my 105 hours within the next 3 months, and plenty to write about in the long scholarly papers and reflection writings I'm expected to do.

I also connected with a small agency called Families for Families to volunteer at least 4 hours of my time and learn about them and how they serve the underserved and poor/needy families within our geographic area. I could have stayed with the other agency I'd started with--The Giving Tree, but I didn't really appreciate the volunteer coordinator there. So, on to something new. This newer agency was created by a friend of mine so it will feel good to help her out with her mission to bring relief to families who need help.

Now, all I have to do is write some "objectives" that are measurable, get the contracts and agreements signed and send it all in electronically to my master's program. Oy. It's a lot of work! But it's only beginning.

This evening I attended the first REI journal club meeting. We met at a nearby Black Angus restaurant. It was really nice to hang out and discuss personal and professional issues--one doc is moving and the trials involved in that, politics and the upcoming elections, practice issues, case presentations, and of course the 2 journal articles that one of the doctors picked out. Mom came over and babysat while I was away. I felt guilty the whole time I was sitting at the restaurant with my colleagues. In fact, as I think about it, the ONLY times I don't feel guilty is when I'm at work T-F, 9-5:30 and any time I spend with T. Any more time spent away from T for any reason and I feel very uneasy. Like I'm not where I'm supposed to be. I'm burdening someone else with my child and responsibilities, and I'm missing out on spending hours with my son that I'll never be able to get back.

Am I sick? Or unbalanced, that I can't fully enjoy myself away from my child? Other parents make excuses to go to a weekend get-away without their kids. I can't. Maybe it's because I'm a single parent. I'm it. I want to do the best that I can for him. And in my mind, the best I can give him is me. At least for now at this point in his life.

I realize I can't be all things for him, at all times. But those experiences will be later. Now, he's mine and very shortly he will be needing more experiences that don't/won't involve me. I just want to soak up every bit of Ts growing up and learning new things as I can. Without being intrusive or overbearing. I'm sure I'll be able to recognize that line when it comes. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

a normal kid

I was reminded yesterday as I heard a 2 or 3 year old boy throwing a tantrum while strapped in his stroller that we, too, have had our share of tantrum throwing.
I had almost forgotten about those days...
One time, mom and I were pushing him in the stroller in a mall and he just had it in his mind to keep his feet either on the wheels (thereby obstructing them) or on the ground and having them occasionally double back underneath the moving stroller. Whatever I said or disciplinary action I told him would happen, he absolutely refused and starting fighting and screaming at the top of his lungs. I just tipped back the stroller and continued to do my business in the mall as best I could. Time was at a premium and I had to do what I came there for. This fighting/screaming went on for at least 20 minutes, maybe longer, before I just decided to park the stroller on the side of the mall walkway and just walked away (20 feet or so). He had his fit and eventually got tired out. But in the mean time strangers felt obligated to stare and want to help this poor boy who was so obviously distraught. When I told them to leave him alone, he's OK, and that I was his mother, they looked at me like I was some monster. There was pain and indecision in their faces as they weighed whether they should really leave my son alone or intervene and help this poor child. Thank goodness they let him be, because at that moment my last nerve was being fried and I might have wailed on whomever made my day worse--and their actions showing judgement against my best intentions to deffervesce the situation.
It only took a few minutes of letting him be "alone" before he decided there was no point to the tantrum. And he took a nice long nap at nap time. I loved those nap times......
The defiance isn't totally gone either. (I actually admire this quality--I think it will serve him well as an adult.) This evening we went swimming after dinner. I was going to go in the water too, but it was a tad chilly and the breeze had begun to blow. He was fine with me staying out but, of course, the real fun is having an audience. So mom, dad and I watched him do any and all tricks he could muster. When it came time to get out and go home, he had a few delaying tactics. They worked for the next 15 minutes or so, but then I'd come to the end and insisted he get out. He refused. I said, he'd be in the naughty spot if he didn't listen NOW. I started counting (if I get to three and he's not at my side, he has bought time in the naughty spot) and just about always, he's at my side by "2". But this time he was busy arguing how there was no naughty spot and it's only a pool. (At home the naughty spot is the end of the hall way.) So, I ratcheted up the ante and said, "If you don't listen to me and get out now, you are going to get a spanking." Now he's saying he doesn't like me now and he wants a new mom. Then he says, "I'm going to kill you." For a while now, when he earns time in the naughty spot, he says this to me as he sits there dutifully. I know why he says it (any attention is good attention) so I don't react. But I've heard it enough now and it's starting to bother me that I also hear him say he's going to kill his dinosaur (when playing with them) or stuffed toys, or whatever he's playing with. Enough with the killing threats and plans. So I marched over and grabbed him when he got close to the edge of the pool and gave him a swat on the behind. I got in is face and told him I will not have him talking to me that way and there will be no more threats of killing or he will not be able to go over and play with his neighborhood friends for a while. He continued to be miserable as I dressed him and put him in the car. Then magically, 2 minutes later all was forgotten. I reminded him he needed to apologize to me and he did. Sincerely. Big hug. All done.
Except whenever I get to the point where I end up spanking, I feel very guilty. Guilty for not being able to handle it and get him under control in another, less violent, way. I didn't want to do the naughty spot at the pool. It was cold and I was tired. I do the best I can with the tools I have. And I was spanked when I was little. I guess I better start reading more on discipline strategies because I've gotten all I can get from the Super Nanny show and I'm still digressing to the occasional (and it's really almost rare) spanking.

quotes and commentary

Here's some interesting things T has related to me this week:

1. Frequent quizzing on addition and subtraction. What's 100 plus 2? What's 13 plus 16? What's 20 plus 20 plus 20? And on and on. And he almost always gets it right. He uses his fingers often, but I don't get how he does so well when he goes above anything over the number of fingers he has.

2. On being asked what's your favorite (anything). "Well, lets do eeny meeny miny moe, get a body let him go, one, two, three, four, five and your are it." (LOVE his version...) First he wants to know what MY favorite is and then he'll choose to be alike or different from my choice. There's a politician brewing here.

3. On playing tag in the yard. Of course he makes up the rules as we go and the "vase" (his word for base) changes depending on what he can get to. Then from across the lawn he implored me to "Wait! Wait, wait,wait, wait, wait.", as he walked towards me to explain how this bit of the game would go. I stood there and looked at him with a moment of silence and then said with a sarcastic grin, "I heard you the first time." He looks up at me inquisitively and incredulously and asks, "You didn't hear me the second time?" LOLOLOL! So I explained that what I meant was I HEARD you the first time, no need to say it a second, third, etc time. Ai yai yai. Nothing like a new perspective on an old cliche. lol.

4. I gave my cat a shower and T watched with curiosity--and mocking him at his obvious discomfort with the whole thing. After it was done he decided he wanted to jump in with me (it's a big shower with a bench on one wall). While soaping up as he was standing on the bench he starts to slip and slide his tummy onto mine--and as usual we make a mini game out of it. Then he stops, and looks at my chest. He places his hands on his own tiny nipples and informs me that his boobies are growing (with a bit of glee, I might add). I assured him they won't grow now or in the future. They only grow for girls, not boys. He stops and thinks. Then looks me square in the eyes and says, "No, Mama. Look at Opa." LOL. I had no leg to stand on with that argument! Opa loved that story (that was a bit of sarcasm too ;) ).

A day at the art and wine festival





Today Mom came over and after shopping at the dutch pastry shop and Costco, we went to Castro street Art and Wine festival. It was huge...and HOT. The weather was at least 100 degrees. And with that many people milling around booths, beer and kabobs, it got tiring. There was all kinds of neat stuff to look at but none of it was a "must have". Sometimes I can find something interesting for a Christmas gift. But not this time. Still, it was nice to share an ice cream with my favorite son and mom...and a grape/bubblegum flavored shaved ice....and a cold soda.

The best part for all of us was the kid's area where they had rides and slides--for a price. But I can't dwell on the money spent when you see the look of utter glee spread out over T's face. I will look at those photos and be glad I let him have his fun. No matter how much money they relieved from my wallet.

Later we went to the mall near my home to hit the food court for dinner. Mom and my favorite is the burritos at Rubios--we get one and split it. And T, of course, never veers from his usual order--Sbarro's slice a pizza kids meal. And a McDonald's vanilla soft ice cream cone. Mom did very well, considering this was the first day she's been out of the house since she came down with whatever viral crud she caught from my brother after our camping trip. We had to take frequent breaks but she managed to enjoy herself.

T was thoroughly happy and told me repeatedly all evening how lucky we were to have each other.

Really.

And hugs and kisses and cuddles. I love my 5 year old. Can he please stay this way forever?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Still searching for a preceptor

Well, it's Friday and still no word on whom my preceptor for my practicum will be. I have until next Friday to get a preceptor, sign the contracts and meet to decide on how I'll get the hours logged. I sent an email to the director of nursing of the nearest community college that has a nursing program. I kept the letter short and sweet but definitely let her know I was in a hurry to find someone. I figured she might be interested in the relationship I'd be building with their department as this master's degree would qualify me to be a teacher in their program. And from what I've read, it's a huge need--more faculty members so that they can let in more students. The nursing shortage will continue unless we can graduate more nurses. So many applicants get denied into a program due to the lack of teachers. I'll check my work email tomorrow and if I don't hear anything, printed all the phone number of every faculty member in the nursing department and make individual pleas. I could also contact the 2 year college I attended but it's much farther to drive out there and as I'll be having to go there to get my 105 hours completed--lots of extra time and gas to get it done there.
Since my master's degree is in nursing with a focus on education, it makes sense to go to academics to get the preceptorship done, but as a last resort I'm going to also contact the Health education department at my work. They might be able to do the job. I just think it might be more difficult to write the papers I'm going to have to write on my experiences.
Today, the neighbors picked up T from school and took him swimming with their daughter (also in the same kindergarten class). They fed him lunch (well, I packed one for him) and they played well together in the water (even though, apparently, the water was a bit cold). Then they fed him dinner (burritos) and took him along with their daughter to the Ice Cream Social at school. I tried to get out of work as quickly as possible but still stayed over time 30 minutes. I got there a little late but the party was still in full swing. The kids were all having a ball! And the parents were milling about and mingling while keeping one eye on their kids. The weather was hot but cooling off. Perfect for the ice cream sundaes they were making. Within minutes I saw one of my patients there with her son and then another guy recognized me. He and I used to swim together in the Master's program at lunch time. (Ah...good times, they were. 10 guys in a lane and me. I loved the attention! I swam until the day I broke my water. Then life...changed...) They also had a school uniform swap and you could bring uniforms that kids out grew and pick through the piles for anything in the desired sizes. Since it's out first year, we have nothing to swap so I just looked though and found a pair of shorts that would fit T. When he outgrows what we have, I'll give it up for the smaller kids. Kind of nice to save money on the uniforms and be supportive of those in our school.
It was as close to a Norman Rockwell scene as I've ever had.
Pray I'll get a nibble SOON on finding a preceptor.