Thursday, October 23, 2014

Glasses, asthma, and the Plague

"Did you feed the dogs today?" McMister just asked me with a more than a hint of annoyance.

"No," I said. "The fact that the girls got fed today is success with the way I feel right now."

Why is getting sick with a cold like the worst thing to ever happen to anyone? There are a billion other sickness that are worse. Like all the sicknesses. But man, a stupid little bug can drain the life out of you!

It's been quite the week around here, and it has nothing to do with the girls all being under the age of 5 and acting accordingly. They haven't been angels, by any means, but they've toed the line of normal/expected behavior. And with everything going on, that is a success to me, too.

A few months back, Gracie started complaining that her eyes were blurry in the morning when she woke up. Both McMister and I told her it was normal after asking her some questions and hearing of no other concerns. Then one day, she said it happened before snack, too, and I got a little worried.

"That's odd," I told her. "We'll bring it up at yor doctor's appointment next week."

Her 4-year appointment was just around the corner. So I saved it for that.

The first thing they did after weighing her when we walked in was check her eyesight on one of those letter board things we all picture when thinking about getting your eyes checked. They said she did great; so I felt relieved, but I still brought it up with them when they asked if we had any concerns. The pediatrician suggested we take her to an eye doctor for a complete eye exam now, before kindergarten, just in case there was an actual issue. Her appointment was scheduled for this past Monday.

I had scheduled a playdate with a pair of sisters, the oldest of which is in Gracie's class. When I saw her mom that morning, I asked if we could push it back an hour because I had forgotten about the eye exam. Her teacher heard me downplaying the blurry eyes in the morning thing and popped into the conversation with, "She has been really squinty."

Uh, what? She has? I've never seen her squint before. Why hadn't the teacher mentioned this sooner? Can I realistically expect her to mention everything she notices like that?

I texted McMister on the way home to tell him about it, and my phone rang. A weird local number had been calling me all morning and not leaving messages; so I finally answered it. It was him telling me he had, that morning, downgraded to a flip phone, and the number hadn't switched over yet.

"So you didn't get my text?" I asked.


I explained what had happened, and he explained that he was telling his coworker about the whole thing earlier that day. His coworker and his 2-year-old daughter both wear glasses.

"Yeah, it sounds like she's going to need glasses," he told him.

In the course of five minutes, my mind had gone from this is just an overly precautionary eye appointment to my daughter might be getting glasses today!

The appointment was at 2 o'clock. So Lyla would just be waking up, and Poppy would be smack-dab in the middle of her afternoon nap. "I'll come over with the littles when they wake up so you can drive straight back to work," I told him. "DON'T pick out any glasses for her until I get there."

He came and picked Gracie up, and Poppy did her mid-nap wake-up right on schedule. Every day I feed her back down, and every day, I hope and pray Lyla doesn't take those exact three minutes to wake up from her nap. Monday, that's exactly what happened.

I set Lyla up with a show in our room so I could try to get Poppy back down, but it wasn't happening. That's when my phone lit up with McMister's crazy temporary number.

"Yeah?" I snapped.

"Soooo where is this place?" he asked.

We had already discussed the general business park where it was located, so I said, "I don't know. In that place by our old CPA's office. Just look it up on your phone."

Well, with a flip phone, it doesn't work that way. Five hours in, and I was already fuming about the damn flip phone.

The only reason I even answered was because I could tell there was no way Poppy was going back down to finish her nap. So I loaded them up, and we headed over to the eye doctor.

After the obligatory diaper change that happens every single time we're in the car for more than 5 minutes (WTF?) and a potty break for Lyla, we wandered the halls unannounced and found them. Gracie was just about to start another exam, and I had seen a tiny separate kids' waiting room with toys, so I told McMister I'd take the littles back there and wait.

Commence Lyla screaming fit. She screamed and yelled, "DADDY! WHERE DADDY?" for the longest ten minutes of my life while we sat in that teeny little room. I finally got her distracted with one of the toys, and we waited.

Gracie was picking out a special treat when the doctor found me and re-explained everything she had just told McMister. Basically, we're going back in three months to test again because she's so young, and they want to get her used to the testing and the equipment. One of her eyes is slightly weaker than the other, and if it remained that way, they'd give her glasses to prevent a lazy eye from developing down the road. She went on and on about how it would be billed to vision this time, but the next time it'd be billed to medical under the condition of lazy eye. But I didn't hear any of it. All I was thinking was my daughter might need glasses?

I was just so surprised. I really had never even thought about it.

Tuesday was a normal day with activities for the littles in the morning, then the rescheduled playdate that afternoon, and my mom coming by to help with bedtime since McMister would be gone again and the previous Tuesday was such a complete shit show. I knew Gracie was coming down with the same rotten cough and sore throat everyone else in her class had: the Pre-K Plague, but since she was in good spirits, and I knew literally every other kid in the class already had it (and the teacher), I sent her to school Wednesday morning.

Two hours later, my phone rang. I looked down, saw the name of her school on the caller I.D., and started grabbing my coat before I even answered.

"So I have Gracie here with me," the office lady said. "And she's been having chest pains."


"OK, I'm coming to get her," I said, and she went on. She had spilled milk on her shirt and red bumps on her stomach and a cough and and and and.

Every single break she took to take a breath, I said, "OK, I'm coming to get her."

"Do you want to talk to her?" the lady said.

"Uhhh, OK," I said, thinking I'M COMING TO GET HER.

Gracie didn't really say anything and was being super shy on the phone, which is exactly what I knew was going to happen.

"Are you embarrassed to talk to your mom?" I heard the lady say in the background.

In the car, I called McMister, heard the first few rings and remembered the effing number still hadn't switched over to the flip phone. I hung up and called the direct line to his desk he had given me two days before, but since he is never at his desk, it went to voicemail.

"The school called. Gracie is having chest pains. Call me back!"

When we got there, Gracie was smiling and looked fine. I was terrified.

I took her shirt off in the middle of the hallway and put her coat on her. She had apparently spilled milk on it, and the office person had guessed maybe that's why she had bumps on her stomach. So I just took it off right away without even thinking.

"Does she not talk on the phone very often?" the lady laughed while I was gathering her things. "She kept holding it away from her and just looking at it."

I told her she had probably never even seen a landline phone before.

The first step we took toward the door, Gracie stopped, put her hand to chest and said, "Owwwwww." I had no idea what to do, and every step we took to the car was exactly the same.

Panicked, I called the doctor and was told by a recording that there would be a long wait. Would I like to leave my number and have someone call me back? Hell no. I would wait.

Since we only live three minutes from the school, they still hadn't picked up by the time we got home. Gracie often grabs onto me, and I kind of lift her out of the van even though she easily steps out on her own the other half the time. When I went to lift her out, she wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist. I carried her into the house with the phone on my shoulder. She sat in my lap with her head on my chest for the next few minutes until someone finally answered. My mother in law was there, thank God, so she had Lyla and Poppy distracted. When the scheduler answered, my mother in law offered Gracie some tea they were drinking.

I took the first appointment available, an hour from that time, and walked back into the room to see Gracie sitting at the table, drinking tea and laughing.

"Should we still go to Gym Jam?" my mother in law asked. She takes Lyla every Wednesday.

"If you want to," I said. "Either way is fine with me. I'm going to take Poppy to the appointment anyway, so you'll have to put Lyla down for nap while I'm gone."

She agreed, and Gracie burst into the conversation with, "I WANT TO GO TO GYM JAM!"

"Uh, no," I said. "You can't come home sick from school and then go to Gym Jam. I'm sorry, Honey. It doesn't work that way."

She cried and cried, and the crying made her cough, and the Lyla got upset that she was upset.

I shooed Lyla and her nana out the door and turned on a show for Gracie.

"I get to watch a show?!?!?!" Gracie beamed. "Not at nap or bedtime?!!?!"

She was happy as a clam watching her favorite show at a special time while we waited for the doctor's appointment. Once the show ended, she was back to bouncing off the walls and knocking over Poppy and laughing and eating and not getting dressed when I asked and fighting me about what shoes she was going to wear.

When we got in the car, she asked, "Why are we going to the doctor? Because I'm sick?"

"Yeah, and your chest hurts."

"It doesn't hurt anymooooore," she laughed.

Even though I knew nothing was going to come of the appointment, that they'd look at her, tell me she had some unidentifiable (and un-medicate-able) virus and send us on our way, I was still happy we were going. She most definitely was not faking the chest pain when I saw her, and that scared the crap out of me.

The nurse and doctor both acted exactly as I expected until the doctor had the stethoscope on Gracie's back. Her eyes looked up, right at me, and said, "Do that one again, Gracie."

"Yep," she said and took the stethoscope off her neck.

In a slew of sentences I can't recall with any kind of clarity whatsoever, she prescribed an inhaler and started telling me the signs of troubled breathing that would necessitate taking her to the emergency room.

"I don't think any of this will happen," she tried to reassure me. "It's just that you're a first-timer with all this. So we do need to go over what to look for."

I don't remember when she said the word and what the context was, but at some point, she had mentioned asthma. So when she said, the "first-timer" thing, I asked, "So wait, does she have asthma?"

Poppy was crawling all over me, pulling my hair and biting my face, and I was trying to understand why the doctor's tone had changed completely from Run-of-the-Mill Pre-K Plague Visit to First Time Asthma Mom Visit.

"No, we would never say she has asthma after just one episode," she said. "But I did hear wheezing and a lot of very young kids describe the symptoms of asthma as chest pain and that cough, that smoker's sounding cough... Hopefully, this is just a one time thing and you won't need to use the inhaler again after a few days. But it is good for a year, so if you do need it again, you already have it. Do you want me to tell you again how to use since you're so new to all this?"

When we got in the car, I called McMister's landline again. It went to voicemail. I hung up and emailed him. "We have to get an inhaler. Call me. I hate that I can't get a hold of you!"

I went straight home instead of to the pharmacy because she hadn't coughed or complained of chest pains once in the past two hours, Poppy was in desperate need of a nap, and I knew, just knew, that there was no way my mother in law had gotten Lyla down without me. Sure enough, we walked into the house to screaming and crying, and I put Lyla down, and then Poppy down, and McMister called me back while she was still in my arms. I let it go to voicemail and called him back a few minutes later.

I've had the same conversation a million times since then. "I don't know. I'm just really overwhelmed. In a matter of three days, Gracie might need glasses, and she might have asthma. What?"

This morning, I woke up with the Pre-K Plague, and really, it just makes perfect sense for this week.

So, sorry about the lack of posting :/ and thank you so much for your support about switching over to private. Look for an email from me over the weekend (or Monday) for a link to my new spot.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - October 22, 2014

 photo 98BB2574-ED34-452F-9260-EBD7FA3F1648_zpsl8eh0pqz.jpg4 years

"Gracie, get dressed. We're going to the park."

Several minutes later, she reemerges in this, "OK, I'm ready to go!"

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My mascara application buddy every morning.

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After all your comments about your babies' nighttime friends last week, I immediately dug this little toy out of the closet. McMister's sister lives halfway across the country and sent this for Poppy before she was born.

Lyla named her Snowflake.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Changing to a private blog

I've been wanting to change to a private blog for a few months now and have kept a page open on my phone explaining the steps to do so since the end of the summer. It's getting annoying looking at that open page all day; so I'm going to bite the bullet and do it.

Starting next Monday, McMissis will be a private blog. I'd love for you to keep reading and commenting if you want. If you do, you'll need to send me your email address so I can add you to the safe list. You can leave your address in the comments below or send me an email directly at

Some of you might remember that I haven't told my friends and family about my posting here. I always have a fear in the back of my head that one of them will somehow find it and be upset that I haven't let them in on it. Other than the first few months when I didn't really know what I was doing, what I wanted out of the blog, and where I saw it going, I haven't promoted it anywhere other than commenting on the very few blogs that I read. So really, I have no reason to keep it public and many reasons to make it private, not the least of which is that the girls are getting older, and the stories are becoming theirs, more than mine, every day.

So, those of you who are reading this right now, don't leave me! Send me your email address and continue to watch my girls grow, continue to watch me grow, and continue to give me all your kind and wise advice.

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You have been an integral part of my village raising these three so far, and I would be honored for that to continue for a long, long time.

Edited to add: Also, you guys, I just figured out after posting this that I haven't been getting any of the emails to that email address. I thought they were forwarding to my normal email, and they weren't. So I apologize for not getting back to you on a lot of stuff :/ I promise I wasn't ignoring you, just not having any idea what was going on!

Welcome back, Puddle Season. All nine months of you.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The girl who cried middle child

A few weeks ago, Lyla was screaming and crying from down the hall.

"What is it, Lyla?" I shouted out to her from the bathroom sink. I didn't even turn my head away from putting on my mascara.

"Moooooommmmmyyyyyy!" she wailed, her voice getting closer to me.

When she finally walked in the room, I glanced over to her to ask what had happened that was making her so upset, and her toe was covered in blood!

My heart sank immediately and I dropped down to my knees. "Honey?!?! What happened?"

She had cut the tip of her toe standing on top of the air conditioning unit McMister had, seconds earlier, taken out of her window for the winter. I had heard him telling her over and over again not to stand on it. He went downstairs to get a tool, and that's where the story began.

She ended up being fine, and when I told McMister about it a minute later, I said, "Man, talk about the boy who cried wolf!" (Edited to add: meaning we didn't believe her when she really had gotten hurt, not that she was faking it this time.)

Her sobs mean nothing to us right now. Can you even believe how horrible that is? We're her parents. The ones who should being running to her without a second of hesitation when we hear crying, and yet, the vast majority of the time, the hysterical sounds coming from her illicit nothing but an eye roll. And almost every single time, we're right.

The time with the AC was the only time I haven't reacted when something was really wrong, and I felt awful -- rightfully so. Most of the time, I can tell when she's really hurt. Just yesterday, I had to change my entire outfit because she fell down in the driveway after splashing in puddles, and when I rushed to her and picked her up, she soaked me. It's not that we (usually) don't respond when she's in pain, it's just that we know that she's not hurt the entire 80 percent of the day she spends in hysterics.

She and I had the most horrific screaming match the other night. After months of easy bedtimes with her, she's been yelling at the very top of her lungs for about an hour every night for weeks now. Tuesday night was the first night I've had to put all three of them down since she's kicked back up again with the bedtime screaming.

After round after round of screaming at each other, yes, I was screaming at a 2-year-old, she finally ended up calling my bluff on an empty threat to make her go downstairs by herself.

"I WANT TO!" she yelled in my face. "I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS BY MYSELF!"

And that's what she did. She went downstairs, laid on the floor between the back of the couch and the kitchen, face down, and stayed there silently for about half an hour while I was finally able to put Poppy down. I checked on her twice during that time, and she wasn't sleeping. She was awake, spoke to me both times, then chose to lay back down on the floor.

Poppy was so overtired and worked up that every time I put her in the crib for a second to deal with Lyla, she started blood-curdling screaming. Truly, a sound I haven't heard from her since she was in the hospital as a newborn.

I cracked and completely lost it, engaging in a ridiculous, on so many levels, yelling war with my toddler. I texted my sister and told her it was the worst night of my life. And it was. I failed. Completely. And terribly. And I'm in tears just thinking about it.

Sure, her sobs don't mean she's in physical pain, but that doesn't mean she's not emotionally hurting. When she screams and kicks and cries in the bed every morning for McMister to wake up and make her breakfast, it sounds like the. brattiest. thing. EVER. But she just wants to spend time with him.

When she wails and pounds on the shower door while he gets ready for work, it drives us both to the point of yelling at her to "stop banging on the door and use your normal voice!" But again, she just wants her daddy.

When she hangs from my waistband with the entire weight of her body at the bottom of the stairs and screams, "Carry me on the other side!!!!" she wants me to pick her up on the side I'm not holding Poppy. Hauling the two of them up the stairs after we drop Gracie off in the morning is hard, physical work. But does that mean I shouldn't do it to make her feel loved?

A lot of the time, we're responding the right way. She is only wholly happy when she gets 100 percent attention from an adult (or Gracie, if McMister's not home.) That is just not a realistic goal for a child with siblings. We need to teach her to deal with that.

But a lot of the time, we're responding the wrong way. She needs our love. She needs us to show our love. She needs it differently than her sisters do. I just don't know how to give it to her and still care for those sisters. A popular suggestion for dealing with tantrums is to give "time-ins." Spend a few minutes hugging or focusing solely on that child to give them the security they need to feel safe and happy. I try that again and again with Lyla because that is exactly what she's looking for. But the problem is, the second I stop, she sobs even harder, screams even louder. Reacting to her tantrums by giving her what she wants doesn't work because that is all she wants.

All she wants is love and attention and affection. And as a mom of three, I can't give her as much as she needs. And that SUCKS.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 2014

Hi girlies,

The weather has finally turned away from summer here. It took a lot longer than usual this year, and I'm not complaining. Most of the time, I am, but this year was a glorious, sunny, not hot like the end of summer, but still fantastically warm September and early October. The rain has come now, and we're starting to ease indoors.

Gracie Girl, sometimes I forget how deliciously fun you really are. You, of course, are much calmer than your days as a younger toddler, and sometimes I think that means you're not that way anymore. But then I hear people talk about you who don't know you well, and they always gush over how wild and, well, just GRACIE you are. Over the past week, three different people have just beamed talking about the incredible way you live life, and I beam right back with pride.

Lou Bear, we've had a rough week. I'll probably post more later about the details, but maybe not. For every moment of chaos and frustration you bring, you bring so many more of happiness. Your sweet smile, cuter-than-anything-on-Earth accent, and shockingly generous heart wrap our home in warmth every day.

Anytime you see anything you like, even a little bit, you ask, "Can you get that for me for my bootday? A pink one?" I'm not sure you even really like the color pink that much, but it's always what you ask for when it's not right in front of you.

You count 1, 2, 3, 14, 15, 14, 15, unless we prompt with 4 after 3, then you can count to 17 for real. You don't know many letters because I haven't taught you, but you always ask what real words say. Is it possible to learn to read without learning your letters first? You adore cooking and spend a little time every day looking at cookbooks. You can't be found during the day without Bitsy in your shirt, sunglasses on your face, or your doggie backpack with those and your water inside them on your back. Or all three at once.

Poppers, if you could decide how to live your life, you would spend every waking moment standing up, pulling hair, and eating stickers. You are definitely afraid of strangers holding you now, but if they're just looking, you flash them the biggest smile and lay your head on my shoulder. Not a soul has met you without cooing over your sweetness and your beautiful red hair.

When I look back at your early infancy, I will most definitely remember all of our walks. For a while this summer, it was the only way you'd go to sleep at night. So while Daddy put the big girls down, you and I walked and walked and walked around the neighborhood. A few nights ago, Daddy took the big girls to the store after dinner, and there was a break in the rain. You and I took our last evening walk for the year, and it felt so final. The sky had already darkened almost all the way, and the wind blew strong. With every gust, you buried your head into my chest and smiled. I told you it would be the last like it for the year, maybe for a long, long time. The changing season felt all too real. The weather and your little life.

I love you forever,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - October 15, 2014

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2 years, 4 months

Sometimes, consignment sales have the best stuff.

 photo DSC06717_zps50b55c23.jpg8 months, 1 week