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Archive for the ‘Girls’ Category

The end of the school year always gets crazy.  OK, not just crazy.  INSANE.  It’s one special event after the other, and because I like to volunteer at my girls’ school, there is never a lack of things to do.  Science Fair.  Field Day.  Organize and shut down the library.  End of year meetings for Daisies.  Room mom duties.  Award ceremonies.  Then add all the extra-curricular stuff: the recital, the performances, the showcases, spring sports.  And all the details that you can’t overlook: sign up for fall soccer, order new uniforms, think about NEXT year’s extracurriculars, attend evaluations, get haircuts so everyone looks nice for these special events, meetings and preparations for summer camps and special projects, end-of-year gifts for teachers, Mother’s Day.

And this year in particular, we have an out-of-state birthday to attend AND an out-of-state wedding to attend in May on top of all that.  Add our annual vacation is in early June, and it’s a recipe for insanity.  In fact, the only reason I have time to write this now is because I’m waiting on an e-mail to come in that I need to print before leaving the house.  Were it not for that, I’d be out running errands … picking up snacks for 19 Pre-K kids, copying letters for teachers, and picking up a diet Coke at McDonald’s.

Oh, I haven’t told you about my love of diet Coke?  Yeah, that’s a whole other post entirely.  I’m going to be needing a LOT of diet Coke over the coming month.

The only way I get through it all is with two software programs: Mac’s iCal and Evernote.  Both sync automatically and instantaneously with my iPhone and I can see where I need to be and what I need to do at any given time.  Were it not for those two tools, I’d be in trouble.

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In Sickness and In Health

They should totally make you take that oath when you become a parent, too.

One of my good friends and I have this theory about kids.  Every kid has their “thing.”  It may be physical, it may be emotional, it may be intellectual, it may be behavioral.  And that “thing” may be big or it may be small.  Maybe it’s a couple small things, maybe it’s really big and intertwined.  But every kid has their achilles heel … a part of their life that just doesn’t develop or function normally.

For our oldest daughter, her “thing” is a less-than-stellar upper respiratory system.  Hers is a Bermuda Triangle situation: a bifid uvula, which is a couple big leaps away from the same mutation that causes a cleft palate; that seems to impact her eustachian tubes, which currently do not function; and the ear problems seem to cause repeated upper respiratory viruses/infections which sets off her cough-variant asthma.  And you can throw in a propensity for croup, just for good measure.

She has had four sets of ear tubes and after a visit with her ENT the week before last, she’ll be getting her fifth set this Tuesday.  For whatever reason, her eustachian tubes cannot equalize pressure in her tears; so what happens is her eardrum gets sucked back and retracted, the ear fills with fluid (which may or may not become infected), and then obviously her hearing becomes mildly compromised and she gets sensitive about any and all things in her ears, especially when swimming.

Thankfully, though trial and error, we have discovered that the combination of ear tubes and a daily nasal steroid spray do an excellent job at keeping the upper respiratory infections under control, and therefore her asthma under control as well.  I also have to give credit where credit is due.  By chance, she was selected to participate in an asthma study through Washington University in St. Louis, MO and through that study, we have been working with an asthma coach each month for the last year.  She really helped us identify her asthma triggers, treat those correctly, identify her asthma early warning signs, begin treatment at the right time, and teach us how to correctly and fully treat her asthma flare-ups.  After our monthly calls, I am a HUGE supporter of asthma coaches and believe they should be MANDATORY for all parents of kids with asthma because it helps keep asthma better controlled (thereby reducing doctor and ER visits, which ultimately cost us all money) and do so using the least amount of medicine required.  Seriously, I’m a big, big fan.

Because her health has been very good lately – thanks to all of the above AND my husband’s discovery of epicor as part of our daily vitamin and supplements – we were very surprised when she woke up this morning at 4am with croup.  Thankfully this seems to be a mild virus, no worse than the average kid you hear in the grocery store, so it’s status quo around here and full-speed ahead to Tuesday and ear tubes, set #5.

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Up In The (H)air

I will admit that, in earlier years, I’ve gone a bit overboard with hair accessories for the girls.  And I’m classifying six 30″ bow holders as a “bit.”  Some of you might consider that an obsession, I’d just prefer to think of it as an interest.  Regardless of what we call it, the rate at which hair accessories are diminishing in this house is yet another sign that our girls are indeed no longer little.

So first, a little more details regarding that confession I made up there.  A sister of a friend makes hair accessories – not so much bows anymore, but that’s all she did a few years ago.  And given her willingness to support my obsession, we amassed quite a collection of bows.  Back when I had a say in what my girls wore each day, I coordinated their outfits whenever I could — and that usually meant coordinating, custom-made bows as well.  (As an aside, I always said that I would coordinate them as long as they would let me … and that’s exactly what I did.  The first moment either girl had an opinion about their clothes, it was entirely their decision.  Now … well, they both have an opinion every day.  Which is the way it should be.)  In addition to bows to match most outfits, I also had bows made to match their school uniforms.  Note the plural.  I’m not talking two or three.

Needless to say, as they outgrew the outfits, the custom-made bows didn’t match much.  And some of the bows I had made early on were really too small.  And a few fell apart from use.  I’ve culled through them a few times, once when I sent a huge bag of them to my cousin’s daughter, and just recently when I filled an entire shopping bag and dropped them off at Goodwill.  In a few weeks when school ends and our younger daughter will be moving to a new uniform for kindergarten, we’ll pass down an entire bow holder of bows made to match the preschool uniform to a friend.  And with that, we’ll have a decent, reasonable collection of bows.  Two holders, plus a drawer of headbands.

Truthfully, though, I doubt those will last long.  Our older daughter wears nothing in her hair.  With a shoulder-length bob and dark blond hair, she has exactly one preferred hairstyle: down.  It gets brushed in the morning and washed every night.  There are no clips, no headbands, no ponytails, nothing.  She is required to wear a ponytail four times a year for her choir concerts, which she does without comment as she doesn’t have a choice.  There are also two days a year when she has to wear a certain color bow for particular events at school; that she does with lots of grumble and complaint, even though every.single.girl at school wears that color bow or ribbon.  She definitely has a preference, and her preference is plain and with no adornments.  Our younger daughter has a chin-length bob and her hair is that thick, straight, smooth stuff that people comment on all the time.  She likes headbands but isn’t quite adept enough to adjust them properly as needed throughout the day.  (And while I do allow both girls to have a say in how they style their hair, I do insist that they choose a style that can stay looking relatively neat all day long.)  So most days she has a half-up side ponytail … with a bow.  I suspect as she becomes a little more dexterous, she’ll prefer a headband or maybe just a simple tuck behind the ear like her big sister.

When that day arrives, I’ll lovingly take the bow holders off the back of their bathroom door and send them off to someone who can use them.  I don’t regret a second of making them look adorable when they were little, but it’s also really fun to watch them develop their own sense of style.

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It’s been interesting over the last few days to deliberately observe how differently my family members add or remove “noise” from their environment.  What caused me to take note of this was a headline – though I admittedly didn’t read the article – about whether music is distracting to kids while they are studying and doing homework.  My thought?  I think it really varies by personality.

I’ll start with me because I’m pretty sure I know my noise personality: it’s up and down, and closely tied to my mood.  In general, I prefer no noise.  Yes, I choose quiet most of the time.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, but unless there is a breaking news story, the tv is never on.  NEVER.  Nor do I have music playing at home.  When I exercise, usually swimming or walking, I don’t listen to music either.  (At one point before getting married, I had a waterproof belt that I put a walkman in while I was swimming laps.  I’m sure now they make a waterproof iPod pouch but I’m certainly not in the market for one.)  In the car is where I’m most likely to listen to music, but even then it’s 50/50.  The girls like Radio Disney, and I’ll also listen to pop and 80s on occasion.  But when the DJs start talking or commercials come on, I’ll flip the channel OR turn it off entirely.  I have no problems driving in the car without any music whatsoever.  The exception being on beautiful, cool, sunny spring days – like today – when the windows are down and the beat is thumping.  (OK, well, not thumping exactly … I mean, I do drive a minivan.)

My husband is easy – he’s all noise, all the time.  He’s a HUGE music fan and he is actually UNable to concentrate without noise of some sort.  When he’s working in his home office, the tv or music is on.  Always and without fail.  The only time he really breaks this rule, which I realized last night, is when he’s mowing the grass.  He doesn’t put headphones on.  It will be interesting to see if he starts once he reads this – my guess is that it just has never occurred to him to do so.  But otherwise, he’s always got something playing – when working out, in the car, when at work.

Our older daughter seems to be more wired like my husband, while our younger daughter is more like me.  This morning before leaving for school was a perfect example.  They had both finished breakfast so they had a few minutes of free time, so the younger one chose to color quietly at their art table, while the older one chose to pound out some notes and melodies on the keyboard.  In general, that’s a pretty good representation of their noise styles: the older one loves music (and possesses a fair amount of musical talent as well) and is better able to concentrate WITH noise, the younger one – perhaps a result of her sensory-sensitive nature – tends to choose a quiet environment.

Which begs the question: with two adults who have opposite noise styles and two kids who also are quite different, how does it work at home?  To be honest, we don’t really have many issues.  My husband’s home office is in the basement, and when we added that room, we insulted it fully.  So he can be down there with the music or tv turned up loud and I hardly hear it on the main level.  I understand that his version of downtime involves noise, and he understands that my version of downtime does NOT involve noise.  It’s not as if I never watch tv – we still enjoy watching tv together in the evenings; or if I come outside to help wash cars, he might turn the radio off so we can chat or interact with the girls.  The different styles don’t seem to impact the girls much at this age, though our older daughter has recently re-discovered her iPod and seems to enjoy listening to music throughout the day.  And that, of course, has prompted our younger daughter to ask for an iPod of her own.  But that’s another post for another day…

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