Archives for April 2007

When a cough is not just a cough

We missed church, again, yesterday because Moose started sounding like a barking seal saturday night… yesterday he spent the day running around like nothing had happened.

But it happened again last night. More barking seals and wheezing and other awful sounds (called stridor) that don’t seem natural coming out of anyone, much less a tiny little 17 month old body.

So today, we were at the doctor’s office to confirm what we already knew — our Moose has the croup. He is now on steroids (good thing he’s not a professional baseball player) and is laying on the floor – just laying… and wheezing. But less than he was.

It is awful to see your children go through things like this. And it can be frightening too.

Two years ago, Sweetums and Bug ended up with Whooping cough/pertussis. Both had been immunized, so we weren’t even thinking along those lines at first. Fortunately, I have a good friend who’s son had had whooping cough earlier in the year (*side note of irony: there were 6 documented cases of whooping cough in our WI county that year – 2 were my kids, one was the son of one of my friends, and the other 3 were the children of a friend of mine at our church. None of the families got it from the other families. In fact the other two families had no contact and didn’t know each other… it was just all some odd coincidence) I asked her to come down one night and listen to Sweetum’s cough. We got online and she took me to a site where you could listen to samples of the cough (here: Whooping Cough information and sound clips – sound clips are on the bottom right column)

I never realized how awful and serious whooping cough was until that moment. Bug, who was only 8 months old had a very mild case. Considering his age, it should have been a lot worse. But Sweetums – bless her heart – had it to the point of not being able to breathe and throwing up. She would literally cough until her lungs were empty. That is when the “whoop” or gasping for air comes into play. For months after, any amount of running or jumping would throw her into an ugly coughing fit. She seemed so fragile during that time. And looking back, she was. I look at Moose today and feel the same way.

We spent a lot of sleepless nights during that time, as we are now. Nightime brings out the worst in both of these diseases.

Please pray for Moose. It’s not serious at this point – in fact, the worst is the first two nights. It’s not affecting his oxygen intake. But he is uncomfortable and not sleeping well.

Perseverance lessons learned from the Green Beast – Part 2

I suppose I could have put this into one post… but since I am no BooMama, Big Mama, or Sarah, I knew I couldn’t hold your attention for that long. Hence the 2-part post…

As I am sure you have all waited with baited breath, let me move forward with where this is all heading.

(I will also mention again, that I asked my husband it he was alright with me writing about this for all of blogdom to read. And he is. I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to dishonor him.)

As I was discussing yesterday – we’ve had to have several talks with Abbie about perseverance and keeping commitments. She has been having a hard time with dance and likes to find creative ways to stay home from it.

The best tale I have for her, when it comes to such a topic, is the tale of her daddy and “the Green Beast”. Now, words will never do it justice. I can not create the visual image necessary to fully appreciate the true dedication and pay-off involved in this tale. But stick with me and try your hardest to visualize what I am about to tell you…

When we bought our first home, like most young couples, we had a lot of hodge podge furniture. None of it matched. A dresser from his mom and dad… a coffee table left behind by an old roommate of mine… ditto on the (laminate-covered) kitchen table… etc. It all worked nicely and did it’s job. But it wasn’t what this new homeowner had in mind for decor.

We made a stop with my folks in Maryland on our way to New Hampshire to get things out of storage (yes – there was a good reason our stuff was in NH and we were in Wisconsin – but that is another tale.) Frederick is filled with antique stores, so we decided to look around and see if we could find anything that we needed.

We had a mudroom in our new home and so I wanted a nice bench to sit on and remove shoes and boots, with a shelf under it to keep them on. We looked and found several. But each time, my husband said “Oh, I can do that. And it will cost a lot less than that.”

Since he had totally impressed me early on in our marriage by his ability to change my car battery and oil (“what? you mean I no longer have to take it to one of those oil-job-y places??!!! COOL!”) I relented… And when we stopped at his folks home in PA, he bought the supplies needed and fashioned us a nice sturdy bench. His only mistake (in his mind – not mine) was that he made it out of oak and I was planning on painting it. So he was sad about the whole “painted oak” issue.

But we all survived the paint job and moved it into our home, where it sat, in all it’s glory, in the mudroom. (I’m pretty sure it was the first thing I moved into the house.)

As everything was moved into our home, I began to imagine a lovely clock here… a nice tv cabinet there… a coffee table that matches the rest of the furniture right there… In my mind, I had our home looking like something out of the trendiest home magazines. Only our budget looked like something out of “frugal living at it’s frugalest” magazine.

To rectify this, my husband reminded me of his carpentry skills. He had, after all, fashioned a mighty fine bench. What could be so hard about learning to fashion my shabby chic style furniture?? I got to work finding images of what I had in mind so that he could begin planning some of it out.

The lovely thing, he told me (only, he didn’t use the word “lovely”) was that the former homeowners had left some wood in the garage. Plenty to make several items.

With picture in hand, he set out to build me a freestanding floor cabinet for the bathroom. One that would hold towels and various other bathroom items. I imagined my towels looking like the loveliest of towels sitting in their new cabinet home.

He worked and worked on this cabinet. Every afternoon, he got home from work and headed to the garage to work on it. I was not allowed in to see his handiwork.

(As a side note, but one that bears importance further in the story… I wanted to paint the living room a shade of green. One day, my husband came home with a can (just one – for the entire living room) of green paint. Do I need to mention that it wasn’t even close to the right shade? It was a shade of green alright… but not the right shade.)

Finally, the moment of unveiling arrived. He carefully carried his handiwork to the house, from the garage and brought it into the bathroom where I was giddily waiting. He was so proud and so puffed up with his work he was about to burst.

I about burst too – into tears – when I looked at this cabinet.

It was green! The green from the can of paint he had bought. It had paneling (another “left behind” item) for the door. It had moulding-trim pieced together and painted white, for the top trim… The door knob was screwed into the skinny narrow trim that framed the door. The door wouldn’t stay closed so it had a hook and eye clasp for keeping it shut. The shelves were different sizes.

To say it looked nothing like my vision, would be an understatement. I believe my exact quote was “You are not bringing that into my house.” Don’t hate me or send me hate mail for that comment. It wasn’t my proudest moment. (though it was a moment filled with my pride) Fortunately, we laugh (really hard) about it now – hence the reference as “the Green Beast”.

Poor Sean went out to the garage dejected. However, he kept plugging away and continued to try out and refine his carpentry skills.

Not that there still wasn’t a learning curve he had to overcome. He also brought in a coffee table that was as tall a kitchen table; an end table with a drawer that was nearly impossible to open without dislocating a shoulder; many items held together with screws (as opposed to dovetail joinery) and made of construction-grade lumber pieces (what those left behind pieces actually were)… the list goes on.

But as it goes on, it also started to improve and pieces became more refined and crafted with more skill. He got to where I loved the pieces he had made, but after looking at them for weeks he would get irritated with an imperfection and rebuild it. He did this to several of my favorite pieces while I was away from home. I was distraught – only to come home and find furniture that was even lovelier still.

(*I tried to get good images of his work, but by the time I did, the lighting was all wrong… I hope to post some more soon.)He got books from the library and looked online for tips. He learned as much as he could.

Suddenly my house was filled with beautiful handcrafted items. Items that he has written special secret messages to me on before staining. Items crafted with so much love and skill that just thinking about them now, makes me tear up. Pieces that our children will be fighting over one day, when we are gone. ;)

When I’ve told this story to Sweetums (obviously cutting it down for brevity; she is only 6 after all and would surely fall asleep in the middle of a tale this length) I’ve always pointed out how Daddy could have given up. He could have (cussed me, which he probably did, anyway and) walked out to the garage and thrown away his tools.

But he didn’t. He was determined to learn something and improve. He didn’t quit just because his wife crushed his pride. He didn’t give up just because it wasn’t easy. Like Sweetums, a lot of things come easy to him. But he resolved to learn it and improve through all of the cuts and gashes. We sometimes joke that had I not been so honest, he’d probably still be making “Beasts”.

His craftsmanship is beautiful. The skill involved in the pieces he has created for our home blow me away. I’m so proud of him for working so hard.

And this is what I want Sweetums to take away from all of this. Not everything worth doing comes easy. Some things take a lot of hard work, determination and time. It’s a funny story with an important message.

(*I tried to get good images of his work, but by the time I did, the lighting was all wrong… I hope to post some more soon.)

Perseverance lessons learned from the Green Beast – Part 1

We’ve had to have several talks with Sweetums over the course of the past five months about perseverance.

She has been blessed in this life, in that she hasn’t had to work hard for much that she succeeds at. She taught herself to read; she’s been drawing like no one’s business since she was not even two. She’s been given gifts in many areas.

Keeping focused on things outside of “her realm” is not one of those gifts.

When she was barely three I signed her up for a toddler’s dance class. It was new to the area and I wasn’t familiar with the teacher. The teacher was a stickler for order. Not a good expectation to have with 2 and 3 year olds

It was apparent after one class that it wasn’t going to work out. If I wanted my child to have even a smidgen of love for dance, I was going to have to pull her out before the teacher tore her down.

Sweetums wanted to do her thing. By golly, she wanted to dance. But she wanted to dance her way – not follow some teacher around. She wanted to move like a butterfly, but her butterfly was more spontaneous and swirly and twirly than the rest of the class.

Mind you, she is a good girl. But as her kindergarten teacher has pointed out several times: she is a bit absent-minded. What you might consider a dreamer.

This past year, I decided to start her back in dance. With her starting school, I thought it would be an appropriate time to have her involved in something that required “follow-through.” Something she had to finish whether it because tiresome, boring, too hard… whatever the case may be.

She loved dance class. And still does. But there are songs in ballet that make her miss her mama and daddy. (she has a heart like her mama’s – music can make my mood change in an instant). She doesn’t like to miss her mama and daddy, so knowing what lies ahead, she dreads going to dance class.

Oh! The excuses and the sudden tummy aches and exhaustion…

So we’ve had to discuss follow through. And commitment.

One way I’ve taught her is telling her about her daddy and his woodworking.

It’s a good one. One I asked if he was okay with having me post online. He agreed.

Part 2 is tomorrow.

Sweetness from the mouth of a babe

On sunday, I took Abbie and Seamus on a picnic while Sean took Quinn fishing.

I love these times, because Abbie and I don’t get much time like that together. Even though Seamus can be a handful, if we are outside and he has a ball to toss, she and I can get some talkin’ done.

We needed to stop by the grocery store first and pick up some junky stuff to munch on during our outing. Something in the parking lot triggered her thoughts of her daddy and she started the following conversation:

Abbie: “I can’t wait to be married and have a husband one day.”
Me: “Oh yeah? Why?”
Abbie: “Because I will marry someone fun, like daddy. And I will kiss him everyday. And he will tickle me like daddy does… and I will beat him up like I beat daddy up… and we will laugh about it.”
Me: “As long as it’s someone like daddy and you are playing, you’ll be just fine.”
Abbie: “I know.”

I love her heart. And I love how she loves her daddy.

And I believe that if she finds someone like her daddy, she will be just fine. I’m thankful she has her standards set high.

A daddy by any other name

Sean has had the privilege of having our first two children say his name first.

This time around it was different. So, imagine my gloating and enjoyment of finally hearing my name be the first one uttered from my babe’s mouth.

Sometimes he says it like he is in the Soprano’s… other times he says it like a natural southern boy. Anyway he says it, I love it.

Soon afterwards, he started saying “dada”. Sean was so proud. Always calling back to him.

Last week, Seamus and I were playing on the floor together and one of the cats walked by. He immediately started saying “dada… dada…” Curious, I asked where??

He pointed to the cat. I tried it out several other times during the course of the day.

It seems as though he has not be addressing his daddy after all.

But I DO KNOW that when he says “mama”, he means it and isn’t speaking of the trash can…

***In other Seamus news: Monday afternoon, he was in his crib napping. I heard him wake up and babble a little bit, but then nothing more… until: THUMP, followed by crying.
He is the first of my children to ever climb out of their crib.
Should I feel proud or horrified??!!??***