Friday, January 30, 2009

What Next?

Caleb: [whining about something]
Mommy: Caleb, that is an ugly noise and I don’t want to listen to it.
Caleb: It’s a whiny noise and it is my choice to make a whiny noise ‘cause I want to.
Mommy: Okay, it’s a whiny noise. But whatever you call it, I don’t like it and it is disturbing my peace.
Caleb: What is “peace”, Mama?
Mommy: Peace is a happy feeling inside that I feel when nothing is bothering me.
Caleb: Oh. [silent pause] I sorry its ‘turbing your peace, Mama, but it’s still my choice, and your peace is just going to have to go away.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Welcome to Virusville

It has been quite a ridiculous 48 hours here in the Wagner household. Thursday started as usual. The boys and I were confined to the house for the third day because Marc's car is in the shop again, and it was in the 20's outside, so we were a little short on things to do, but no biggie.

Around noon, Ethan was down for his afternoon nap, and I was laying in bed with Caleb, telling him a story before his nap. We were sharing a pillow and laying face-to-face in one of those daily intimate moments that I love. All of the sudden, Caleb coughed once or twice, and then projectile vomitted right into my face. It was undoubtedly the most disgusting moment of my life. There was vomit literally dripping from my eyes, nose and chin. And then Caleb was vomitting again, this time all over his comforter and himself. Then he was crying and wanting to be held, but I HAD to get the vomit off my face or I was going to lose my lunch, so I told him he was okay and I'd be right back. I stepped across the hall, and stuck my head in the shower for about 15 seconds, just enough so that I could open my eyes and dry off my face, but certainly not enough to get rid of the smell or to feel even remotely clean. The whole 30 seconds I was gone, Caleb was wailing "MAMA!" I got back to him, gave him a hug and reassured him while I carried him into the tub and stripped him. I cleaned him up, rinsed out the tub, and then ran him a bubble bath to cheer him up. While he was playing happily in the bubbles, I stripped his bed and threw all the clothes and bedding into the washer. As I dressed him after the bath, he was happy and energetic, so I hoped that the vomitting was simply a one-time thing. I finally got Caleb down for his nap just as Ethan was waking up from his.

I called Marcus to tell him about the vomit nightmare, and when I got off, I heard something upstairs. I went up and stood outside Caleb's door. The familiar smell accosted me even before I got to the door. I opened the door and Caleb was literally lying in a pool of vomit. There was nothing on his bed except the waterproof mattress pad (the bedding was still in the washer), and so he lay there clutching his blankie, crying and soaked from hair to socks with vomit. I actually had to strip him on the bed to avoid dripping vomit on the way to the tub. Keep in mind, Ethan is still downstairs in the play room, and cannot be left unattended while I clean up this mess. I put a naked, crying and still vomiting Caleb in the tub, throw a towel around him for warmth, and run downstairs to get Ethan. Once upstairs with us, Ethan focuses all his efforts on getting his body into the tub (one of his favorite places to be). He pulls up on the side, wedges his tummy onto the side, and catapults himself head first into the water, all while I am beside him trying to calm and clean up Caleb. I catch Ethan just as his crown hits the water, and plant his bottom back on the ground. He immediately starts wailing at the top of his lungs at the unjust thwarting of his efforts. This scene replays itself twice before Caleb is clean enough to remove from the tub and dress again.

Since Caleb threw up huge amounts twice within 45 minutes, I realize that it is probably not over. I bring both kids down to the playroom, grab a large plastic bowl in the kitchen, and then throw an old blanket over the recliner in the play room. I'm literally seconds from depositing Caleb into the sick station chair when he says "Mama!" and starts throwing up all over the play room carpet (I did manage to catch the second and third time in the bowl). I throw the blanket over the mess to keep Ethan from crawling through it (which he immediately attempted to do), wrap a towel around fully-clothed, vomit-covered Caleb, and call Marcus. Our conversation took place around 2:00 pm and it went something like this.

Rachel: You have to come home. Take a sick day, do whatever you need to do. Caleb has thrown up twice more since we talked, there is vomit everywhere, and we are running out of towels and blankets. Help me!
Marcus: Okay, I'll see what I can do.

He walked in the door about 30 minutes later. By the time he arrived, I had changed Caleb again (no bath this time, I realized it was futile) and had him curled up in the blanket-covered recliner with a bowl in his lap and Peter Pan in the DVD player. I had also started one of the nine loads of laundry that I would be doing in the next 48 hours, but there was still vomit in my hair, all over Caleb's room and on the playroom floor. After Marcus got home, we spent the next two hours holding the bowl for Caleb while he threw up bile every fifteen minutes. He was beyond miserable and my heart was breaking for him. He kept begging for a drink, but Marcus held firm that the treatment for vomitting is to withhold liquids until the vomitting has stopped. That is so much easier to accept when your child isn't looking at you with wide, sunken eyes pleading, "Do we got some water, Mama? A little bit of water, please?"

At 4:30, after 4 1/2 hours of Caleb vomitting every 15-30 minutes, I called the pediatricion because I was concerned that he was becoming dehydrated. They told us to bring him in right then, which we did. Dr. Hardwick saw us right away (maybe because Caleb was throwing up when we arrived). Dr. Hardwick was primarily concerned about Caleb's hydration level and gave him 2 ccs of Pedialyte. He asked us to wait there for 15 minutes to see if Caleb could keep it down. After the 15 minutes had passed, he told us to give Caleb 2 ccs of pedialyte every 10 minutes, for as long as we could keep him awake, and if he threw up again after we got home, we needed to go the ER for IV fluids. He also gave us a script for an anti-nausea drug, which we filled on the way home. Caleb threw up once in the car and once more after we got home, around 6 pm, but after he took the anti-nausea drug, he started keeping the pedialyte down and began to improve.

Marcus camped out at his computer in the guest/office room with Caleb in the guest bed (and Peter Pan on the portable DVD player) so he could give Caleb his fluids every 10 minutes. By 10:00 pm, it seemed we were in the clear with Caleb and would not have to go to the ER. At 10:15, I was downstairs loading the dishwasher when I heard a familiar sound in the baby monitor. Sure enough, Ethan had just thrown up all over his crib. (Side note, it is AMAZING to me how much vomit these tiny bodies are capable of producing.) For the next seven hours, Ethan threw up every hour. The messes were even bigger than with Caleb because he had no ability to aim whatsoever. The bright side was that it was at night and he slept between each episode. Also on the bright side, he was not vomitting as violently or frequently as Caleb had, and therefore didn't become dehydrated. I also breastfed him when he wanted during the night. He threw up for the last time around 5 am and then we both slept for a couple of hours.

On Friday morning, both boys were feeling better, though queasy. Ethan had diarrhea all day, and we kept both boys on clear liquids (and breastmilk for Ethan). Last night we went to bed early, exhausted, but relieved that the drama was over.

Then I heard Marcus in the bathroom for the first time around 2:30 am. It is now 2:30 pm, and he has been in bed feeling nauseous and miserable for the past 12 hours while I've been taking care of the two recovering boys (who are feeling much better, but still have no interest in eating anything but juice and popsicles).

To end with a little humor, here are two conversations of note that occurred this morning.

(After we just finished playing an animated game with Caleb’s set of toy gears.)
Mommy: Caleb, how are you feeling? Are you feeling better?
Caleb: (lips pursed, thinking deeply) Umm, I’m not better, Mama. I’m still real sick.
Mommy: What still hurts you?
Caleb: I don’t know, but I throw up a lot, so I need to watch some TV cause I’m real sick.
Mommy: Oh, you need some TV?
Caleb: Yes, I really need some TV to make me better. Maybe ‘bout 30 minutes? You got 30 minute TV, Mama? I think I’ll be all better in ‘bout 30 minutes. (Can you guess what daily TV limit he hears a lot?)
Mommy: Caleb, I think you are a little opportunist!
Caleb: Mommy, I not opportunist! I just really really really need some TV!

(While holding his "just-in-case" vomit bowl)
Marcus: Rachel, I feel terrible! I've had this constant nauseated feeling for hours! Can you go get me [this and that]? I can't get up or move around or I might throw up.
Rachel: Carry that bowl and that feeling around the house all day every day for SIXTEEN WEEKS while taking care of a two-year-old and a house and you'd know what it's like to be pregnant!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mothers Day Out, Preschool, Daycare...

So it's late January and Caleb will be three-years-old in two short months. Ever since we moved to Birmingham 7 months ago, people have been asking me where Caleb goes to "school". At first I explained that I didn't work, thinking they were asking about daycare. When it became clear that my explanation was not making sense, I assumed that they had grossly misjudged Caleb's age, and went on to explain that he was only two-years-old. I still got blank looks. It took several of these interactions for me to realize that here in Birmingham, EVERYONE, stay-at-home moms included, sends their kids to full or part time preschool starting between 18 months and 2 1/2 years. From what I can gather, preschool, unlike daycare, lasts from 9:00/9:30 am until 1:00/1:30 pm. The pattern seems to go something like this: 2 days a week at age 2; 3 days a week at age 3; and then 5 days a week until kindergarten. In Gainesville, no stay-at-home mom that I knew sent their children to preschool. Occasionally I would hear a working mom say something like "I picked [my two-year-old] up from school" and I would chuckle inside at the euphemistic use of "school" for "daycare". It wasn't until I was asked literally DOZENS of times here in Birmingham, "So where does Caleb go to school?" that I began to realize the cultural difference.

I still haven't gained a complete understanding of the preschool thing, but the best I can tell, the parental motivation is a combination of three things:
(1) To socialize their toddlers in a classroom setting.
(2) To allow the children to "get ahead" a little and be well-prepared for kindergarten.
(3) To give themselves some time during the week to run errands and get things done.

Now these all seem like reasonable things, and so I have turned the idea over in my mind many times for the past eight months. (The extra consideration it has recieved is largely due to the shocked look on the other mother's face when I finally get it across to her that Caleb is not in any sort of preschool program.) Here are my conclusions so far:

(1) Socialization: Caleb is with other children in church for an hour or two every week. We also attend a playgroup of some sort at least once a week. And we also have six other kids age 2-4 in our home during our church life group meeting every week. Plus, Caleb regularly plays with other kids at parks, at the gym, and in his gymnastics class. This seems to me to be an adequate amount of social time, and I even prefer the fact that Marcus or I am present during many of these activities so we can teach and reinforce positive social interactions.

(2) Getting Ahead: As I have explored the idea of preschool, I have visited and called several locations. I have looked at different preschool curriculums and been unimpressed by the content. Everything I've seen in the written curriculums is something that Caleb has already mastered and that we review in various ways at home and in our play. In fact I haven't seen a 3-year-old curriculum (in my local search) that includes anything beyond letter-recognition (and mostly not even that). Like many children his age, Caleb has known his capitals for months and is now learning lower case, practicing phonetic sounds, and learning how to write a few capital letters. (Brag moment: he can write A, M, V, O, T and X). Though I see the value in reinforcing color, number and letter recognition, I do not see any advantage to doing that in a preschool setting vs. what occurs in the natural parent-child interaction of a home setting.

(3) Break Time: Though I can definitely identify with the convenience of having 8-12 hours a week with only a baby vs. a preschooler and a baby, I'm not convinced that it is advantageous overall. I'm very practical about things like this, so this is how I see it. I have the boys on my own for about 60 hours a week (6 am to 6 pm, M-F). On average, Caleb naps for a total of about 12 hours during that time. So that leaves me with 48 hours each week. A preschool program would have him for 8-12 hours a week, which is 15% to 25% of my total "work week". Seems a little excessive for a break. Also, I lose all of those hours with Caleb, during which I could have been continuing to teach him the things that most matter to me: showing kindness to Ethan, helping with chores around the house, praying through moments of frustration, etc. Plus, I think it is good for him to go on errands with me and learn to wait patiently in the checkout. I think I already messed things up a bit with him by avoiding doing chores or anything else while he was awake during his first 18-months of life, hence giving him the impression that life revolves around him and everyone should do whatever he wants to do at the moment. We are slowly rectifying that now, but I think part of that correction is having him participate in the not-fun things as well as the things he enjoys.

Well, these are my thoughts and the summation of why I have not yet attempted to carve out the $125-$200 a month for 2-day-a-week preschool, even with the fall registration deadlines of mid-February fast-approaching. Regardless, I am blogging about it today because, clearly, everyone I've talked to around here thinks that I am costing Caleb something significant by depriving him of the preschool experience. If any of you have more insight into this than what I have surmised, I would enjoy your input. Or if any of you have come to the same conclusion as me, I could always use a little reinforcement from my all-over-the-country friends, since my Birmingham friends seem to be all of one mind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wagner Christmas

We celebrated Christmas with the Wagner side of the family in Melbourne, Florida this year. It is was a 6-day adventure for us and our little ones :)

We left Birmingham around 11:00 am on December 31st and arrived at Marc's mom's house a little over 12 hours later. The trip went better than we expected, with only minimal crying (Ethan) and whining (Caleb). I learned three things from our trip to Searcy in October of last year and rectified all three of them for this trip:
(1) Caleb couldn't sleep comfortably in his big boy car seat before, so I bought him two side head pillows and he was able to sleep much better this time.
(2) The oncoming headlights and streetlights flashing across their faces woke both kids up frequently before, so I created a "sleep tent" for them in the backseat using a clothes-hanging bar and a dark sheet.
(3) We didn't bring the portable DVD player to Searcy, assuming that the kids would sleep the whole trip, since we were driving at night. BIG mistake that we did not repeat this time. Caleb watched all of Peter Pan on the way to Melbourne :)
Anyway, we got in very late (around midnight eastern time) and were able to transfer Caleb to his prepared mattress on the floor. Not so lucky with Ethan. He was bright-eyed from the moment we took him out of the carseat. It was at least an hour and a half before we got him back to sleep. He just didn't get why we were trying to put him back to sleep when he thought it was morning!
Highlights from the rest of the week...

(1) Caleb and his cousin Chase (one year his senior) playing cooperatively more than ever before. The fact that Caleb can communicate well now made a big difference for their relationship.
(2) Eating Doubles sandwiches. Doubles might be my very favorite thing about Melbourne.
(3) Marcus getting to go surfing with his brother, Mike. And I'm sure Marcus would also say getting to play video games with his brother and his brother-in-law, Josh.
(4) Having a nice girls' evening with Wendi and Traci and Marc's mom. We didn't get to the games we'd planned to play because I couldn't get my kids to sleep until after 9:00, but we helped Wendi with a mosaic frame and got to visit for a while.
(5) Getting some great pictures of the boys at the park near Mike's house.
(6) Caleb playing with Marc's childhood toys, particularly the He-man set which Caleb called the "Ugly Strong Men".
(7) Caleb going on "Daisy hunts." Mimi has a VERY antisocial black cat that often goes unseen for days when company is around. Caleb was very intrigued with trying to find her.

All in all, it was a good visit. Enjoy the pictures :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Campbell Christmas

Here are some pictures from Christmas with my family. We had a fun week together, and went a little crazy with our new Nikon SLR cameras. We got to take everyone to several of our favorite spots: including church, the science museum, Homewood park, a nearby hiking trail, and the Oak Mountain petting zoo. For me, the highlights of the week were Dad taking Ethan for daily walks in the stroller; Mom rocking Ethan to sleep; Mom reading with and playing with Caleb; playing poker for hours every night; hiking with Dad, Marcus and the boys; watching my brother with his son; Caleb's excitement Christmas morning; praying together the night before Michael's family left; and just having my family all together. Before the week was out, we'd already made our reservations for meeting at a lake house in Texas for Christmas next year!

The only downer this year was that I got really sick the last day. So the next morning, Mom played with the kids and Dad helped out with cleaning up the house; then they headed home a day early so we could recuperate before our trip to Florida.

Enjoy the pics :)