Monday, October 26, 2009

Long #2 Down

Day three of the Long vomitorium. James now has the stomach flu.

In all my five years of motherhood, throw up is something I still can't get a handle on. Fevers? No problem - I've got that tylenol/motrin alternating thing down pat. Cough and congestion? I can do that - I can administer albuterol breathing treatments with the best of 'em - I can deal with babies who don't know how to breathe out of their mouths when their noses are stopped up beyond belief - I can drop saline solution in their noses and then suck it out with the 'boogie bulb' as named in our house. Croup? Yep - I've learned how to steam 'em out in the bathroom with the shower running full blast/screaming hot and then stick their little faces in the freezer to clear out the gunk. Diaper blow outs? Sure - I can deal with changing diapers, cleaning up that kind of mess with no issues.

But throw up? For some reason, cleaning up something that has been in someone else's tummy gives me the willies. Still. After five years of cleaning up puke, I still hate it. HATE. IT.

Thankfully Deonne has no problem with it - as evidenced by his placid manner of cleaning up the messes that have come and gone over the years. While I'm tempted to throw out clothes for the sake of not wanting to deal with them, he'll patiently rinse them out, then wash them in hot water, and they're no worse for the wear.

So it's hard for me - really hard - to be at home, by myself, with two puking kids. Anna is better at it then James these days, she knows when it's coming and thankfully uses the bucket. James just doesn't want to do it at all - and seems to think that if he doesn't have the bucket under his face he'll suddenly stop. He's the wild card right now - the cause of two full loads of laundry. Since he's been home today. At 1:30 pm.

Please lord, don't let anyone else get this yucky bug...

Our Trip to a 3rd World Country (a.k.a. the Local Health Department)

South Carolina is rolling out the first of the H1N1 vaccines across the state. We received a letter at the kids' daycare that because they are in the high risk category, they are eligible to receive the vaccine at one of several free clinics - the first of which was last Thursday. My first reaction to the letter was, we'll wait - I'm not rushing out to get the vaccine - there's going to be a million people there (since the letter went out to all day cares in the City of Columbia) and I don't want to deal with all that mess.

So on Thursday when I'm in the process of picking up the kids, I run into one of A's classmates and his mom (who is expecting.) She tells me she's thinking of taking her son to the clinic - and asked if we were going. I hesitated. I started to say 'no' then I started to overhear a lot of other parents around us talking about taking their kids over there.

I debated. I hmmmmd. I hahhhhhed. Jack had just been fed. I had some 'emergency' snacks in the car should this take a while, and besides, I convinced myself, if they distributed this letter to every.single.daycare in Columbia, surely they had a system in place to get everyone in and out in the allotted 5-7 pm window.

And, I started stressing out that what if they ran out, what if this ended up being the only clinic, you know - what if - it'll get you every time.

So, I called Deonne and told him we were heading over there. He kind of laughed at me. Wished me good luck.

We arrived at the health department - diaper bag, check. Bottle of water (one), check. Bags of snacks (three), check. Load the kids up - head on in.

James thought the entrance to the building looked similar to the coliseum where we see kids events. For some reason he thought we were going to see Elmo. I hated to burst his little bubble.

They had nurses stations set up - in the lobby. Not a great place - because as you line up to check in - you get to see/hear children screaming at the top of their lungs while their parents pin their arms and legs down to get the shot. My kids (who are good shot-takers) suddenly are scared.


But we pass that, check in, and begin the wait.

Someone had the brilliant idea that they'd line up this enormous amount of people by snaking them through the halls of the building. I suppose they thought they'd keep us happy - but the air conditioning couldn't keep up with that many people. It was hot. And muggy.

The line was ridiculous. Hundreds of families. With small children. Working families (their kids are in daycare, right?) who came to the clinic right after work - many with no snacks or drinks or anything to keep the kids entertained. And these are small daycare-age children - as in - under the age of five.

Kids were screaming in stereo - at different times up and down the line of people. It was awful. Poor little things - they just couldn't understand why their parents were making them stand there, for hours, with nothing to do in a cramped, hot, muggy place. (And who wanted to tell them what the result was at the end....)

I called Deonne around the time he was leaving work - he agreed to head over to help out. The kids did remarkably well - I was so proud of them. Thankfully one of Anna's classmates and his family were about 10 people ahead of us - so she and James took turns "visiting" them.

When we finally got up to the head of the line for our turn for a shot (after being there for two hours) we were told we could all get the vaccine (Deonne and I included) because Jack is right at six months. (He was too young to get his shot.) The nurse did tell us we weren't technically "high risk" but she couldn't tell us "no" because of Jack's age.

I told her we all wanted it - and didn't feel guilty at all.

And so, after an evening spent in the third world country that was the hot, humid, stinky, sweaty, full of screaming children hallway rat-maze of the Richland County Health Department, we've all been vaccinated.

Now we get to go back in four weeks for the kids' booster.

Repeat fun....

Carpet Cleaning Tips???

I think I've finally dug my way out of a month or so (okay, two) of neglecting my house. With the back to back parties in September, followed by Grant Season, culminating in two weeks of visiting my home to sleep and shower, it was pretty bad.

Friday I had a meeting in NC - that was short and sweet - resulting in my returning home mid-afternoon. Rather than rush back to the office for an hour or so - I opted to take some "leave" and spend the time in the quiet solitude of my house - sans kids, husband, or place to be.

It's amazing what one can accomplish in a short amount of time if determined to do so. In two hours I managed to get the entire downstairs (foyer, living room, dining room, Jack's bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, and den) picked up (which was no small feat with the eruption of toys in the den,) swept, dusted, vacuumed, and scrubbed. I had a little bit of time left, so I actually had time to scrub the kids bath upstairs, sweep the stairs, wash/disinfect the bath toys that had become an odd color of pink, and make dinner.

Deonne so kindly agreed to pick up the kids from school so I had the extra time, and I promised a home cooked meal (we'd been eating out a lot this week due to lack of planning/over scheduling.) I made spaghetti - nothing fancy - but the kids favorite.

I should have known something was wrong when A didn't want to touch her dinner. The kid could eat pasta every meal for the rest of her life, she loves it so much. She said her tummy was full - she didn't want to eat much. I tried to get her to take a few more bites - but she refused, politely, but refused.

Okay, fine. We go about the rest of the evening.

Deonne takes the kids up for their bath, I clean up the kitchen, then prepare Jack's bottle, and am just finishing up feeding/burping him/getting him ready to put down when I hear Deonne exclaim

"Lord, Anna!"

As I put Jack down I'm thinking, oh, she must have done something stupid - like colored on the wall, or - I don't know - cut her hair again.

What I found when I reached the top of the stairs was Anna - white as a ghost - sitting on the potty seat with her arms wrapped around herself with a frightened look on her face - James standing on the landing with a bewildered look on his face - and Deonne, standing at the threshold to Anna's door - staring at a large pile of undigested spaghetti. And marinara sauce. On our light cream colored carpet.

"Anna threw up."

"Really? I see that..."

I look at Anna who (with tears in her eyes) says "mommy, I didn't know I had to throw up - I tried to make it to the potty in time." Oh my poor baby.

Poor little thing ended up with a wicked tummy bug - that lasted through the night. Thankfully, crossing every appendage on my body - she didn't pass it to anyone else in our family.

She's still a bit droopy and down and out today - so she's home with mommy and missing day one of Spirit Week (wear your jammies to school day.) Hopefully she'll be back tomorrow.

Another fun weekend in the Long House.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reality Check

My good friend N over at the Comer Family Circus has this up on her blog. These words rang so true, brought a smile to my face, a tear to my eye, and a swell in my chest.

There are more days then I'd care to admit when I'm overstressed, worried, and frantic over silly little things. I've needed a big fat reality check - a kick in the rear to remember to appreciate my children, to love my spouse, to forgive, to love.

Thanks so much N for posting this on your blog. (I'm stealing it to stick on mine - so I can easily reference when I find my blood pressure rising over something that really is mundane.)

By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never Blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up To you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an Answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't Save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."


I suppose this isn't all James' fault. I know Anna had a large part in this - as in 'Come on James, wanna play dress up?' And I know when you're 2 1/2 and you worship your big sister, it's hard to say 'no.'

But these priceless photos will come back to haunt you, my precious boy, oh yes. Mommy will tuck these away and use them for blackmail at a later date. (They are pretty darn cute, though - you wear pink tutu's well!)

Beware my love, beware.

Apples, Pumpkins, and Hayrides, Oh My!

We had an abbreviated trip to the apple farm this year. We usually take a weekend trip up to the apple mountains of North Carolina every fall with some dear friends and their girls. Unfortunately, finances and a crazy schedule prevented as such this year. Boo! But, it was a chance to let the kids run, play, and show off their new outfits from Shrimp & Grits Kids.

Desperate for some family time together (after not seeing my kids for almost two weeks) and not wanting to totally miss the fun of fall this year all-together - we packed up our Party of Five for a day trip on Sunday afternoon to Nivens Apple Farm. It was a perfect fall day. The sun was shining. The air was crisp and cool (we actually had need to break out our fleece jackets for the first time of the season.) The apples were tart and sweet. The pumpkins bright and orange. The cider ice cold and refreshing after an afternoon of tromping around the orchard.

The kids loved the hayride the best - a short narrated tour around the farm. It was nice in that it was educational - okay, the lady was kind of corny and crazy - but she did have some interesting farm facts to share.

It's a neat farm - was relatively close to home (less than two hours) - so definitely do-able for a day trip.

Of course, we greatly missed picking apples with our friends, and if I heard once I heard fifteen times, "why isn't Anna Reese with us this year mommy?"

So Logan, if you're reading this, know you and your family were desperately missed - and we hope we can get back on track for more apple festivities next year!


14 grants.

14 different stories to tell.

18 pages each.

2+ weeks of working ridiculous hours (7:00 in the morning until well after midnight each night - and all day on weekends.)

$5.6 million of potential funding.

Enormous hope for the communites we submitted for.

A sense of pride and accomplishment in a job well done.

Holding my breath and praying for favorable outcomes when the grant announcements are made in Spring '10.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Move Over Paul Mitchell...

*grant writing frenzy interrupted momentarily by an Anna story I must record***

Yesterday, late morning, I get a call on my cell phone. The caller-ID flashes "The Children's Center."

Oh dear - who fell down, threw up, or is bleeding - are my first thoughts.

"Kristen? This is Kevin (Anna's teacher.) I have to tell you something. Today, just now, the kids were cleaning up from Center time to get ready for recess. Anna had a pair of scissors, and, well..."

It's funny how your mind can go at lightening speed. In about 0.6 seconds my worries culminated in fears of "oh lord, she's cut herself, is bleeding, I'm going to have to get her and take her to the ER, I wonder how many stitches she'll need..."

"...well... she cut her hair."

"She cut her hair?"

"Yes, she cut her hair."

(So am I supposed to be angry or upset, because right about now I'm trying to stifle a loud guffaw.)

"She's right here with me now."

"Do you want me to talk to her?" (Because really, what in the world am I supposed to say to my child-turned-barber that could possibly make a difference at this point?)


The phone changes hands.


"Yes mommy?" (I can barely hear her whispering...)

"Did you cut your hair?"


"Why did you do that?"


longer pause

even longer pause

"I don't know."

I quickly realized the conversation was going nowhere fast - so I told her I loved her, I'll always love her, but I didn't like the choice she'd made and that we'd talk about it later.

I didn't realize how bad the damage was until I picked her up last night (at 5 pm - long after any available hair cuttery place was open.)

Apparently she'd pulled a long strand over her shoulder from her back, and made her cuts. Which wasn't too noticeable - until I brushed it straight. Imagine hair down to her waist, with a 2" swath cut from her shoulder blade to her spine, about 1" below her shoulders.

In a panic, I called my stylist at home (thankfully I've been going to her since my wedding in '01 so we're close enough I can call her with hairstyle emergencies...which by the way, is something I never thought existed - because what really constitutes a hair emergency? Oh, now I know - a five year old who has hacked her hair up....) She offered to have me come out to her house to fix the problem - except she didn't have any scissors with her - even tried to track down a stylist she'd trust who might be working late who could rectify our problem.

Unfortunately, no stylist was to be found - so instead we agreed I could get some sharp scissors and blunt cut it myself - then take Anna out to see her this weekend so she can even it up.

So, after bath last night, poor Anna had to stand on the stool in the kids bathroom and watch as mommy cut about 6" off her beautiful, long, golden, "Sleeping Beauty" hair.

She still looks beautiful, and truth be told, she needed to get a good haircut anyway - but I didn't want to have to be the one to do it.

I'll get some pictures up soon - oh another fun evening in the Long house!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where I've been the past few days...




Hopefully writing successful grants that will bring loads of money into communities that need it.

See ya' on October 17.