Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Great Game of Tallywhacker

Yup, you read that title right. You'd think that after so many years at the back of the marching band bus I would have at least heard of that little expression, but I never did. But, I'm getting ahead of myself . . .

It all started about 2 years ago when Pete, stark naked and dripping wet, streaked through the house while we were visiting family. "What are you doing running around with your tallywhacker hanging out?" yelled Uncle Dennis. We cracked up. (It's a funny word! Say it really quickly: Tallywhacker,
tallywhacker, tallywhacker, tallywhacker, tallywhacker . . . ) Knowing Dennis's penchant for coining silly words, I assumed this was just another of his creations. (Must've missed that one on the band bus while I was listening to Michael Jackson on my Walkman. Or maybe Madonna. ~shudder~)

Fast forward a year. Pete and Daddy started a game of snapping each other with towels right after bath time. Yes, you guessed the name of the game. It starts with Pete screaming like a banshee and running away from the tub - holding a towel around himself these days - with Daddy right on his heels, snapping away. After Pete puts on his jammies, they both snap towels at each other, laughing maniacally.

The things men do to bond.

I didn't realize the true origin of "Dennis's" term until one day when my neighbors (who I barely knew at the time) stopped by right after Pete had had his bath. They seemed startled to see Daddy zinging Pete over and over with loud thwacks. "Oh, they're just playing a little game they made up called 'Tallywhacker,'" I cheerfully explained. The look of horror on their faces impelled me to look up "tallywhacker" on to see if it was a real word.


Evidently, I had been telling everyone that my husband and son were playing a game they invented called "p*nis". I'm lucky that social services didn't come calling.

I should be glad that Pete is enjoying rough and tough stuff like this, regardless of the name of the game. Drama Queen's obsession for all things American Girl has been rubbing off and he's been asking for a Kit doll for his next birthday. I'm hoping that he'll settle for G.I. Joe.

Then again, the absence of a tallywhacker on
said action figure could cause confusion as well . . .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Screech Turns Two!

I can't believe my baby girl is 2! She had her birthday a week ago, and I cried all day long. I'm a little surprised at how I reacted, seeing as we hope to have at least one more child, and I'll get to enjoy the baby stage all over again. I guess it's because we went through a few rough times with her early on which made us realize how precious and fragile life is.

My other two children were late (3 and 9 days), so I pretty much counted on having her in February (my due date was Jan. 27). To my surprise, my water broke with a gush in early January!

(That in itself is quite a story. I was in the middle of teaching a clarinet lesson when I bent over to pick up a book and suddenly felt a familiar warm gush. I sat there in denial for a full five minutes. It's just an accident, I tried to assure myself. Finally, reality kicked in and I excused myself. Sure enough, it was the real deal! Trouble was, I had ducked into the kids' bathroom, where there was nothing for me to change into or even cover up with! Thank goodness that my student was FEMALE, and a very responsible senior at that! I called out to her, and she had to go to my master bathroom and get a pad, fresh underwear, and pants. Talk about embarrassing! She was a real trouper! I was SO glad it happened when it did, though; fifteen minutes later and I'd have been stuck with an awkward, immature freshman boy!)

Between her coming early and her easy birth (2 pushes and she was out!), she must have been really impatient to get here! Although she wasn't quite a preemie, she was my tiniest one at 6 lbs, 6 oz. (DQ and Pete were 8 lbs, 3 oz and 8 lbs, 8 oz, respectively.) She seemed like a little doll!

Two days after we got home from the hospital, Hubby was holding her and noted that she was cold. I just assumed she was underdressed, but he insisted that I take her temp. It was 94! After calling the doctor, I rushed her to the ER. Although there was a waiting room full of people, they placed her almost at the top of the list and she was seen very quickly. Things got really scary after that. The main concern was meningitis (!), a symptom of which is inability to regulate body temperature. They were talking about possibly airlifting her to Vanderbilt. They wanted to search for every possible cause for her low temp, so they did a spinal tap, attempted a urine cath, took blood, the works. I tried to nurse her before they started but she was too sleepy, as she was pretty jaundiced. Wisely, the nurses suggested that I leave the room while they performed the tests. During this time I called Hubby (who was staying with the kids) to give him an update, and my dearest friend from church, who came in a flash. By this time, it was late in the evening. When they came to get me after the tests were through, I heard the most bizarre sound as I walked back into the ER. Sounds like someone is torturing a cat, I thought. It was my baby crying. That sound will haunt me for the rest of my life. All the nurses thought I was handling everything so well, but I was simply on autopilot. If I had really let myself think about what
was going on, I would have gone to pieces. They never did find the exact cause of her temperature problem, but they treated it as an infection with a triple round of IV antibiotics for three days. By the time she went home, her temp was stabilized and normal. I still had to take her back as an outpatient several times to have her bilirubin levels checked, but other than that she was doing great.

When she was two months old, we had another big scare.
I was playing with her, making funny faces and such, when it dawned on me that she never looked at me. It always seemed that she was staring past me somehow. I'd been having a funny feeling for a couple of weeks prior that she wasn't connecting with me like a two-month-old baby normally would. She never interacted with us and rarely smiled, and even then it was random and not in response to our smiles. When I realized she wasn't looking at me, I did a bunch of things to check her tracking skills. I passed high-contrast toys back and forth and up and down in front of her, and she didn't follow them at all; she just stared straight ahead. I tried moving my face back and forth, and she couldn't see me either. I did this many times from varying distances. She did not track anything. The next thing I did totally freaked me out. I acted like I was going to poke her in the eye, stopping just short of her eyelashes, and she didn't blink at all, not even a delayed blink. I did this over and over. Nothing. She could not see anything! I called a pediatrician friend, who was very concerned, and the next day I took her to her own pediatrician. He was concerned as well, and referred her to a pediatric ophthalmologist at Vanderbilt.

We had to wait over two weeks for the appointment with the specialist, and it felt like an eternity! However, her eysight appeared to gradually improve in the meantime. By the time the appointment day arrived, she was tracking and smiling quite a bit. The specialist said that although her vision development was closer to that of a six-week-old's (she was 2 1/2 months old at the time), nothing was wrong with her eyes at all. He said the delay was due to her being born early and judged her eye development based on my due date, which made her adjusted age 8 weeks old. A few weeks afterward, she was completely normal - tracking, smiling, and interacting. What a blessing and relief!

I guess I have to come to realize how fragile life is, and it has made me enjoy her babyhood that much more (and I really enjoyed DQ's and Pete's!) There was a certain specialness about her being so tiny when she was first born, as well as her looking so different with her blond hair and blue eyes. (She looks so unlike us that there are times that I wonder if she were switched at birth, then that little temper flares, and I think, Yup! She's mine!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas Firsts

Here are a few pics from our Christmas trip to Arizona:

Fun on the plane (gotta love Dollar Tree!)
The noses blinked and were a big hit!

(Hey, at least it kept her happy!)

Screech finally put on her antlers and nose.
(That's candy stick residue all over my top!)
This was her first time flying. She did great! Almost no tears!
(Last time I flew, I was pregnant with her. I was 36 weeks along and everyone was really nervous! I had to get permission from my doctor to fly.)

This pic was taken in my "in-loves" (in-laws') neighborhood.
Screech laughed and called these "silly trees"!

American Girl fever has struck our household.
Here is a very happy Drama Queen with Molly.

Persnickety Pete went to his first football game with Uncle Dennis.
The Arizona Cardinals played the Atlanta Falcons, and Arizona won.
Pete had a blast!

Our family put on a Christmas Eve concert at my in-loves' church. My kids are pictured here with cousin Princess. The little ones (minus Screech, who sat with me and was chain-fed cookies and granola bars) sang "Away in a Manger" together. It was a big deal for Pete to sing; in the past he refused to participate. Drama Queen sang a very sweet solo. My favorite part was when she played a violin duet with her daddy.

After the Christmas Eve service, we gorged on Aunt Denise's cookies, a yearly tradition. I believe there were 23 different kinds of cookies and candy! I made the Fairy Food (AKA sponge candy, angel food, sea foam, honeycomb, or hot air candy). It is HARD to make, but I love the challenge! Hubby and his family are crazy about the stuff.

Screech finally conked out after all that eating!

On the trip back, Screech fell asleep minutes before takeoff. She slept quite awhile and was content in Daddy's arms for the entire flight. No tears!

We had a wonderful time. I especially enjoyed playing Rook with the family. My in-loves are precious! We all get along so great. It's amazing, even when we're all cooped up in a tiny house, no one seems to get on anyone else's nerves. They are a wonderful, godly family and I have learned so much from them.

Overall, our trip went really smoothly. Getting through the airport on the way back, though, was tough. I didn't realize it until I went through security but I had lost my driver's license. This of course meant that I was a terrorist. (Even the pic on my VISA check card wouldn't count.) I got the whole enchilada - I was patted down, they went through my purse with a fine-tooth comb, and they strip-searched me and sent me through the x-ray machine. (Okay, I'm kidding on that last one. But it felt like it.) I felt REALLY stupid because we bought some extra snacks for the plane which included some Capri-Sun pouches, which of course had to be thrown away. Then when I got to the gate and the guy got ready to scan my ticket, he said that I had to go through the whole security bit again because they had failed to punch my ticket. (I was ready to punch more than a ticket by this point.) Thankfully, someone in security remembered me so I didn't have to go through it all over again. (Hey, aren't you the idiot terrorist lady who tried to bring a bunch of explosives disguised as drinks on the plane?)

I'm sorry, but I've got to vent about the Atlanta airport. After we landed, we were in a hurry to get to baggage claim because it was so far from the gates that we had to take a subway. We knew that by the time we got there our stuff would already be on the carousel and we were worried about things getting stolen. We don't know the layout of the airport very well, so we followed the signs to baggage claim. A few of the signs were COMPLETELY in Spanish with NO English anywhere to be seen. If it weren't for the little picture of the suitcase, we wouldn't have known where to go. I. WAS. LIVID.
If I had landed in Mexico or Spain I would have expected this, but THIS IS AMERICA! I know that many people and businesses have chosen to cater to Spanish-speaking people by putting Spanish translations underneath the English in signs, but making signs completely in Spanish in an English-speaking country is RIDICULOUS!

Okay. My little tantrum is over now. I feel much better, thank you.