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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Caught it Early This Time

As a rule, I ignore cold symptoms (in myself) until one of two things happens. Either I get a fever, or my asthma inhaler is insufficient to control the chest cold symptoms. Today it was Door Number One. 102F, and the Hubs took Lizzy to school for me because I was still out cold at school time. So tired.

So I went to the doctor (heh - I'm a Doctor Who fan, and I find it difficult to write the word doctor without a capital letter. Just like I cannot write the word last without adding the -on because of my husband's name.) and he looked at my chart and listened to my lungs and did all the crap they always do. And he said this:

"Okay, here's the thing. Your history shows that you are prone to bronchitis and occasionally pneumonia. Your current symptoms suggest the former - your lungs aren't all that congested - except for the fever, which suggests the latter. The good news is that if it is pneumonia, you are likely not contagious, as it's not viral. I'd like to think about knocking this one out hard before you get all that debilitating congestion. What do you think?"

(Author's note: there is nothing I live better than a doctor who respects that I have a working brain. Even when it's not working at its best.)

So we went with his plan, which was a shot of an antibiotic in the uh... hip, and then a week of doxycycline (which I have not had before and am therefore not resistant to) and a cough suppressant that is not a narcotic. No prednisone, because it a) keeps me awake at night and I need rest, and b) makes me gain weight. Which I do not need.

Then they did a lung x-ray, which they will have the radiologist read to tell me whether it's walking pneumonia or what.

And typing this out means that I need another nap. Excuse me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Some Days...

...it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Today was one of those days.

It started simply enough; just get Lizzy off to preschool, come home and work on my final paper for Class A, pick Lizzy up from school, then work on Paper for Class A in between fielding questions about My Little Pony or the state of the union or whatever Lizzy finds interesting today. Simple, right? Because I do it every day.

But we had a personal family issue that needed dealing with, so I did what I could with that, and was running a bit behind after I came back from dropping Lizzy at preschool. Didn't get much done on my paper, but that's okay; I built in time. So I went to get Lizzy at preschool. She was muddy from mid-thigh down, of course, because I specifically asked her not to get filthy today. We were on our way home from the preschool when I get the Dreaded Call.

Uh-oh.

I know that number; it's the school nurse. A zillion scenarios go through my head, but the most prevalent (because it's Abby) is that somebody gave her something to eat that had nuts concealed in it and she's on her way to the hospital. You know, because rationality is such a strong suit when it involves worry about our children.

So rather than turning to go home, Lizzy (muddy from the thigh down) and I go up the hill to the elementary school and pick Abby up from the nurse's office, take her to the doctor.

The cold sore she had on her lip has spread to her left eye lid. Looks like a cold sore, quacks like a cold sore, and probably is one, but they want to take a culture to find out if it's type A or B. Okey doke. This, however, feels like "being poked in the eyelid with a toothpick" to Abby, which makes her mother cringe.

Then it's off to the pharmacy for an oral anti-viral medication, because one cannot use the topical stuff on a cold sore on the eyelid, and we have a follow-up appointment at the ophthalmologist next week to make sure the swollen eyelid does not affect Abby's vision, and there's school and play rehearsal and gymnastics and girl scout cookie sales to schedule around, and the doctor says it's a "medium sized pill" but it's so huge it has to be cut in quarters for Abby to swallow it,  and I can't concentrate on my paper until I write it all out here, and... and...

...and the pharmacist - who is the one who figured out that my recurrent cough was probably a side effect of my medication - looked at me, clearly decided that I needed a little help finding my silver lining today, and said, "The upside is that with this broad-spectrum anti-viral medication? She's really unlikely to get the flu for the next ten days."

It worked.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last Blog of the Session

Don't fret, those of you used to seeing a post from me every day or a few days a week. No disaster has occurred (knock wood, cross fingers, salt over shoulder, etc).  But Monday starts the last week of this session in school (and a phone interview for a full time CS position, oh please oh please), and you know how that is, even when it's not this class.

Please feel free to read the archives, order girl scout cookies, whatever you like.

See you on the flip side.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weird Week

Just a little. Not a lot.

Weird in that we're all sick with a cold, so Lizzy has not been in school (it hit her hardest) and it's a little surreal. Like an unending cycle of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and weak lukewarm herbal tea and can-you-take-her-while-I-nap. It's just a cold (once the initial vomiting was over, and that was Lizzy only) so we're all okay. Just crankypants and Dropping Spoons.

And the weird places one's mind goes while out doing things. Example: I had a job interview, for a part time job at a church. In Kirkland, and Bing Maps found it with no trouble whatsoever. Now I've had trouble with Bing Maps before, and while I realize that three trips is not a valid statistical sample, it seems that the closer one gets to Redmond Washington, the more accurate and less weird Bing Maps is. When trying to get to a theater in downtown Seattle for instance, it kept trying to take me to the freeway, although I was already in downtown Seattle. When trying to get to a fellow girl scout's residence in Kenmore, it insisted that the house in question was in the parking lot of one of our favorite stores. Wouldn't that be fun?

So, girl scouts (this is the weird linkage that my mind does). Tonight Abby has a Girl Scout meeting where they are making candy under the tutelage of a local candy maker and shop owner. The fact that this links back to Abby's role in her school play - she's an Oompa Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sometime in March; I've forgotten the date - is yet another example of the Weird Links.

Just... weird.

Kinda cool, though.


Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm Such a Mom

And although I have two, I am still prone to overreaction as much as the next woman.

You see, Lizzy hurt her neck at the McDonald's PlayPlace last Friday, and after consulting with a friend who is a massage therapist and knows his skeleto-muscular systems, we treated it with ice and heat and rest and coddling, and a little Tylenol at bedtime.

This is not the overreaction in question.

Tonight she went to bed with a minimum of fuss, which she does occasionally. And came trailing out about ten minutes later, saying she had "thwowed up". And oh boy, had she.

This is where the overreaction comes in.

You see, I am not a vomiter. I think the last time I did I was pregnant with Lizzy, which makes it likely about six years ago. Therefore I tend to view vomit as absolutely dire. And my mother is the same way, so our mutual concern got a tiny bit out of hand. This is where the non-vomiter thinks meningitis. Or maybe post-concussion disorder, if she had actually hit her head last Friday (she said not, but she's five, and not a reliable witness).

However, although we were a little carried away, we're also fairly practical people. So I called the consulting nurse at the hospital, rather than - say - packing Lizzy up in her jim-jams and taking her to the E.R. Since she was already in the bathtub by this time, singing tunelessly, "I thwowed up and I can stay up late," I also felt justified in this slightly less-panicked reaction.

The consulting nurse was reassuring, and I caught her laughing several times as she could hear Lizzy in the background, singing her little song and getting impatient with me when I relayed the nurse's questions, like, "Does your tummy still hurt?" or, "Did you hit your head?" The nurse also laughed when I told her that I got her number from the magnet they gave me when I was birthing said baby five-and-a-bit years ago, and said she was relieved that I still have it. No fever, no sore throat, she can touch her chin to her chest. It's okay, she'll be fine.

So either the doses of Tylenol plus Lizzy's first encounter with a crispy bean burrito, in conjunction with a busy preschool day after a weekend of utter sloth causes a one-off, or Lizzy has the stomach flu. The latter would be determined if she keeps throwing up.

She is currently out cold in the little nest I made her on the floor of her room (all her bedding is in the washer and her mattress is damp and airing out). She has a bucket nearby in case of repeat. No school tomorrow, but maybe Grandma's depending on how she feels (I have a lot to do, with job hunting and second-to-last-week of this school session, but if she wants her mommy she gets her mommy). Bland food for a day or two.

I should have realized it was more than her usual "my tummy hurts" (which she generally uses to describe the sensation of over-fullness).

The kid refused an Oreo. That should've been a clue right there.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Cookie Time!

Abby is a Junior Girl Scout this year. And she's selling cookies, as always.

Now, the rules about online cookie sales have changed somewhat of late; the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) and Girl Scouts of Western Washington (GSWW) both realize that more and more kids are online. In the interest of Internet safety, they have the girls take a safety pledge, some of which includes that Abby - as she is under 13 and therefore protected by COPPA laws - will not do her own online marketing; she needs an adult to do it for her. Even when it applies to using her own email address.

To that end, Mom to the rescue. Here are the basics:

  • Feel free to email me with orders by the 27th of January
  • Payment is not required (or even allowed, unless you are buying only for Operation Cookie Drop) until delivery. Check or cash only.
  • Cookies are $4 a box. Yes, I know they may be cheaper in other parts of the country; that is regional and out of our control
  • There are six flavors available this year; they did a study and these are the most popular:
    • Thin Mints
    • Samoas
    • Tagalongs
    • Do-si-dos
    • Savannah Smiles
    • Classic Trefoils
  • The West Coast uses Little Brownie Bakers when you go for nutrition or allergen information.
That second G-looking thing? It's an S that got
connected at the top
And now, a note from our Girl Scout:

Dear Mom's Internet Friends,

Please buy my cookies. I would really appreciate it. Cookie sales help girl scouts learn stuff that will help us when we're grown up. Please do Operation Cookie Drop; it gives cookies to the armed forces. Thanks if you bought some. 

Thanks again,

Abby


Parental Love...

...is knowing that your pre-kindergartner acts out at home because she knows that her parents will not reject her, no matter how much of a twerp she is. Or how much they yell.

...is delighting in said pre-kindergartner's strange little ways and sayings, such as, "I'm the most popular kid in my school, shiny like a movie star," while keeping a (mostly) straight face.

...is doing everything in one's power to help your fourth-grader find her missing essay, up to and including emailing various school officials to see if she left it in the library or the music room... and making her face the consequences herself if it can't be found.

...is supporting said fourth-grader by showing her how to work within  safety rules and still sell lots of girl scout cookies.

...is when your mom takes you in to have a flu shot because she thinks it's important. And you're 44 years old.

...is when that same mom, having taken care of your physical well-being with the flu vaccine, hands you twenty dollars and says, "Take this. Take your husband out to lunch. You've had a rough week and I know you'll have a job by this time next week and you'll miss your lunch dates."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

School Daze

Under three months until I have completed my Associate of Arts in Communications. I am reminded because all three of my advisors - financial, academic, and general - called me within minutes of each other yesterday. Good news on that front; my student loans are approved for the next quarter (they always are, but it's nice to get the call).

But mostly I wanted to talk about Lizzy's school. Like most children, she behaves differently for other adults than she does for parents; overall her behavior is better there (or possibly simply more appropriate for the setting; it is child-centric after all). She's also smart as a whip, a bit scattered, and very, very busy. In my experience as her mother. And her teachers seem to agree, although there are some skills she uses at school but not at home, and vice-versa.

Scissors, for instance. I am very uncomfortable with her using scissors at home, even the little school scissors. She uses them every day at school, however, and according to her teachers, she uses them very well for her age. She's in the early stages of reading (and like most children, recognizes half the words she reads by the typeface - so she reads dozens of logos and only twenty or so words), and is working steadily on addition, with little forays into subtraction. She apparently has impressive fine motor skills with a crayon, a pencil, and flatware.

She gets along well with other kids, she is well-spoken in things like show-and-tell, and (like her sister Abby and her mother and her mother before her) never shuts up in the classroom. Her diction is improving; the Elmer-Fudd-itis is now usually restricted to the letter R in the middle of words, when paired with another consonant (example: she says the Rs in berry, but the R in straw is still a W - giving us stwawberry). She's willing to tackle any subject, her teachers tell me, from insects to Doctor Who (the latter of which is getting a workout this week, as they are studying the solar system). She is insistent that Pluto is still a planet, by the way, but a small one. Take that!

She has "a scientific bent" (we knew that; she is her father's daughter (and her engineer grandfather's granddaughter) in many ways), is always happy in the art room or when given an instrument to play for music time. She occasionally has to be reminded to take turns nicely (she's five), or to sit down and listen (ditto). So in general, my little perpetual motion machine is likewise one at school, gets along well with others, is right on track or maybe a little ahead in academics for pre-K, and is apparently enjoyable to have in class. A parent can't really ask for more.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Take a Deep Breath

I'm done whining for now. Although I still won't object if you choose to share those last two posts; I think it needs to be said as far and wide as possible, and I simply don't have the readership. I love my readers, but to get political posts to go viral like that you have to be - well - a bitch.

And I don't want to.

I think that right now, in order to avoid jobless-depression and the like, I need to do. To think positive and not fret so much. And provided that the unemployment people come through (which they always do; I love them. It's their bosses in our federal legislative branch I'm having trouble with), the biggest of the money issues will be resolved Tuesday or Wednesday. The only issue there will be if they consider my one day in the entirely unsuitable-for-me field of collections as a Bad Thing. And here I go again with the slightly-bitter. Must watch that.

Anyway.

Doing. Busy week planned. Back in school after holiday break. A job interview on Monday (and oh boy, do I want this one; it's pretty much the Dream Job from the sounds of it, and the boss-people sound congenial and it's the sort of job where communication between team members is... cherished. Unlike the one-day... wait. Stop, Jenn, no dwelling on the unpleasant). Endless laundry of course. With no children here during the day there will be time for school and laundry and reading and writing and cleaning house and so forth. And three more weeks until I am on my last nine-week session to get my AA in Communications, and after that I start my BS in Intercultural Communication. I'm actually pretty thrilled, although in the day-to-day it's sometimes hard to see.

So (and I take a deep breath)...

Onwards!

Friday, January 4, 2013

An Open Letter to the U.S. Congress

I hesitate to write two politically charged posts in a row, because I don't write them very often, and this feels like whining. It's not, at least not solely.

It's an attempt to understand why my government (allegedly working for me) seems to think that winning points against each other is more important than taking care of its citizens. Because many members of Congress never learned to share or to compromise as children, millions of Americans - already having trouble meeting their bills - are having that much harder a time this week than last. And that does not even include those poor souls who have been the victims of disaster, natural or otherwise.

But I can only really speak for myself; I'm not arrogant enough to speak for my fellow citizens, as though I know them and their needs better than they do.

I'm behind on child care and preschool payments, and I paid just over half my rent yesterday. Because Congress refused to play nicely with the other branches of government, I'm back in the late-fee cycle. I did not get the unemployment check I expected when I expected it. I should get the rest next week, but that doesn't help me now, does it?

I'm not fancy. I don't buy clothes often, or get my hair done, or sit around eating bonbons because I'm unemployed. My kids are clothed from second-hand shops and garage sales. Our holiday was funded by gift cards. We don't have cable. We are not spending irresponsibly here.

I take responsibility (isn't personal responsibility that catch phrase of those parts of my government that believe I'm a deadbeat?) for my bad choices in the past. I should have finished college back in 1988 for instance, instead of going straight into the work force. I probably should have moved back home with my small daughter after the divorce from my first husband. I acknowledge these things.

Is political face really so important that millions of people like me are put into an even tighter bind than they were before? Just so you can save some of that face? And again, I'm just one citizen with a normal hard-luck story. Imagine all the people in similar circumstance who are then battered by hurricanes or school shooters, or other devastating events. What of them?

If you truly believe, my Congress, that your jobs or your political posturing is worth more than your fellow citizens, then shame on you.

Jennifer Kirkland
U.S. Citizen

P.S. This open letter is intended for Congress in general; I have no beef with my own representatives to the House or the Senate.

ETA: Yeah, so the balance of the rent is still late. And I'm still waiting on the rest of that unemployment check; everything gets delayed when the federal government is busy infighting, so also an NSF check or two. Way to go, Congress.



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Political Bitterness and Unemployment

If Congress would do their jobs (in a timely manner rather than as an eleventh hour save), maybe I could get back to doing mine.

I heard on the radio today that the reason they didn't want to extend unemployment pay is because they believe that unemployment checks make the unemployed stop looking for work. Let me just assure you right now that this is not the case. At least not for anyone I know, including myself.

I lasted one day in collections. Apparently I'm "too timid" (as though I have ever been accused of timidity!). No, I am not timid. I'm nice (although I am sure there are some people who would disagree with me, including my kids over this holiday break). But having been out of work for almost two years (less ten weeks last fall), I am simply not cynical enough to assume that everyone who has not paid their bills is a deadbeat who doesn't want to.

I want to pay my bills. I want a job. Preferably one that does not make me feel like I'm kicking people while they're down (metaphorically speaking) at the end of the day.

I think the big problem is that to most politicians, unemployment is theory. They are simply clueless as to the real world problems of living paycheck to paycheck, much less UI check to UI check.

Oh sure, +Laston Kirkland makes decent money. We don't have cable TV. We live in a two-bedroom apartment when we really need more space. We buy Christmas gifts with gift cards instead of cash. You'd think - or Congress would - that we're fine, we're just mismanaging. And some of it has been mismanagement.

But not most of it. Most of it is the reality of three kids and a world where the powers that be think I'm a deadbeat, and would rather not help me become less of one. I suppose because they're the cynical ones.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pork

Any pork allegedly cut by Congress with the fiscal cliff nonsense (if they manage to finish it) has apparently made its way to my kitchen.

For breakfast this New Years' Day, +Laston Kirkland had his traditional Hoppin' John (although his version is black-eyed peas, spinach, and ham). I ate a bite of it before putting the rest in his lunches for the week. And speaking of his lunches, this week's version is pork roast (chunked), Hoppin' John, tomato with chiles, beans, and mixed veggies.

Tonight's dinner is in the crock-pot - Asian pork. That is to say pork roast, orange-ginger-sesame marinade, mandarin oranges, and sliced water chestnuts. I'll serve it with rice.

And we had bacon and apple-cinnamon pancakes for breakfast.

Unfortunately, this high-pork sort of day is also a fairly high-sodium sort of day, so I'm doing what I can to mitigate that. The bacon is lower-sodium, and I didn't use much of the ginger marinade (it has a lot of soy sauce).

Tasty though.