26 February 2014


There is a new mama in my area. She has a one month old daughter with Down syndrome and is staring heart surgery down in another month or so. She is a young mama and this is her first child. Sound familiar? Like me, maybe? It came up when Abigail's therapist was asking me questions about Abigail's eating issues before and after heart surgery. The therapist was telling me that this new mama was asking all these questions about her daughter's life, her future, even tearing up as she talked and rocked her baby. I was tearing up hearing about it! I know exactly what she is going through. She sounds just like I did when Abigail was that age. I am on the hunt for this mama. I want to love her. I want to support her in whatever way she needs to start her healing journey. If she likes to read, I can recommend scores of Ds books - I've read just about all of them. If she wants to talk, I can make a mean homemade chai and listen. If she wants to hear my story, I can recount it all. If she wants to know what surgery is like, I will show her pictures, hand her my journal, spill my secrets. When the therapist told me they don't like to share names, I reacted flat out, "fuck that shit." Okay, I didn't swear at the therapist, I just swore in my head, but I got up that very instant, found some paper and jotted down everything: my name, phone number, email address, Abigail's age, how old she was when she had surgery. I gave the therapist explicit permission to tell this women what town we live in, about Abigail's eating issues before and after surgery, and that I would love to chat with her. No mama enters this community without getting a burst of love on my watch.

Healing is a long process, sometimes marked by slow steps, sometimes by bursts of speed. I feel really, really good about how far I've come with the whole Ds aspect, but I still struggle a lot with my birth experience. I hate to call it a traumatic birth experience because everyone lived, but it definitely was a dramatic one that left me with a lot of scars. You'd think with how much I've written about it (I mean, I'm freaking writing a book about it) that I would be over everything by now, but I'm not. Now that we're pregnant again and I'm getting ready to give birth again, I'm struggling a lot with those old scars. Primarily, I'm still not over the fact that I didn't get to see Abigail for three hours after her birth, that I couldn't breastfeed her, and that we were separated for three days while she was in the NICU (I did get to visit her, but it was still painful). My biggest fear (aside, obviously, from the baby dying), is having to be knocked out for the baby's birth. I was this close to being knocked out for Abigail's birth. Minutes. Less than a handful of minutes.

I am interested in having a doula or midwife present with me during my hospital birth. There are two main reasons I want someone there: 1. To help me parse out doctor's advice in the midst of labor pain. I'm not good at vocalizing my desires and I want the support of someone with experience when I make decisions in the middle of labor; and 2. So that if something does go wrong (c-section, post-birth separation, etc), I will know that it was because it had to and we did everything possible to avoid it. I've looked at all three midwives covered by my insurance and wasn't impressed. One doesn't serve at the hospital I'll be at, one doesn't do deliveries anymore, and one won't call me back. So I contacted an out-of-network doula service and fell in love. They're a bit pricy, so we're still deciding if/how we want to make things happen. But in the meantime, they lent me a book about processing dramatic birth experiences and last night I attended a free birth healing class that they sponsor. Both resources left me with a ton of tips, techniques, and ideas. I'm feeling much, much more positive about revisiting labor and delivery in May.

One of my favorite ideas is to make a list of goals I want to achieve during the birth process. They can be anything from big (I want to have an unmedicated birth) to simple (I want scented candles, for example). This way if things do go off-course, I can revisit my list and remember all the things that went right. All the things that happened according to plan. Under my control. Seriously, my favorite idea. I want lots of things on this list that can't possibly go wrong. One thing I want on that list is really shallow: favors for visitors.

I know, it's unbelievably silly. But here's why I want it: we knew that Abigail had serious heart issues by the time I hit the 3rd trimester and no one let me forget it. They all had good intentions when they plied me for details on our latest specialist visit, but it still set a really negative tone. I purposely didn't tell many of my Florida friends about Abigail's heart issues and it was soooo peaceful. I didn't have a single discussion about life-threatening issues at my Florida baby shower. But most of the time, if I wanted that "Yay, congrats!" attention most pregnant women get, I only found it in the aisles of Babies R Us. And once Abigail was born and we had a diagnosis, it only got worse. Most people acted like Abigail had died. I heard, "I'm so sorry" about a million times. It sucked. It felt like no one was happy for me. It wasn't until we moved back to Florida when Abigail was almost four months old and a friend turned the first "Ladies' Night" into a "Welcome, Abigail" party that I felt like someone was happy I had a baby. (TB, I don't know if I ever properly thanked you for that party and that cake with the yellow flowers, but it meant a lot to me. A lot). A child is a blessing and I will never let that happen to my family again. So I want a celebration. And one of my favorite parts of celebrations (other than good food) is favors. They are these frivolous little light-hearted luxuries. And I want that. So if you know me IRL, come visit me in the hospital. Paste your biggest damn smile on your face, say "Congratulations!" until you're sick of the word, and feel free to bring Abigail a balloon that says "Big sister" on it. And you will walk away with a kick-ass favor (that I will definitely get started planning) and you will have made my day. And no matter what else goes wrong, even if I have another c-section, I don't get to see her for three hours after her birth, I can't breastfeed, and this baby spends days in the NICU, it will be a celebration. And that will be healing.

I have lots of other things to sort through, think about, talk to Matt about, prepare for in the next three months and I am really looking forward to it all. I'm so excited to get another chance to rock another little girl in my arms, put little pink fleece socks on her tiny feet, and watch Abigail give her gentle kisses on her forehead. This child will be just as loved as Abigail, but this time, her mama will be a lot more whole.

24 February 2014

7 Quick Takes: Mostly children and money

I'm gonna do this 7 Quick Takes style because I think Mondays are a very logical day for quick takes.

Abigail is sick again. Because why not? I'm pretty sure she's trying to catch up on every past episode ever aired of Blues Clues. I mean, why else would you get dehydration/constipation, the stomach flu, and a head cold all consecutively if not to spend an entire month on the couch watching Blues Clues? Do you guys have the kid's book Ten Little Fingers? There is this one page that says, "And one who was born with sneezes and chills." The kid spends the entire book with a runny, red nose. Sometimes I feel like that is poor Abigail's life. Her weaker immune system (a Ds thing) means she's always got something.

So I researched "teaching patience to toddlers," and gathered up the advice I received from the blog post. We've implemented a two-pronged approach that has significantly reduced our terrible two outbreaks. These new techniques are in addition to the old ones that still had some effectiveness.

The smaller prong is the timeout prong. Abigail gets a timeout when she's doing something she's previously demonstrated she knows is wrong. For example, pulling the cat's tail. I used to be able to say, "Be gentle to kitty!" and she would cease her meanness, but lately, she just yanks anyway, sometimes even pulling the cats across the kitchen tile floor by their tails. That behavior = timeout. Timeouts around here are done Super Nanny style - swift (remove her from the crime immediately), quietly (I only speak to briefly reiterate why she's going to time out: "I said 'Don't pull kitty's tail.'"), her timeout is equivalent to her age (2 minutes), and we make-up afterward (we hug and say "I love you" and give kitty a gentle "apology" pat). The cats are pleased to report that, so far, it has been very effective.

The larger prong is the one we use more often. It's a technique called "feed the meter." It's this concept that if you recognize your child's good behavior little-by-little throughout the day, they'll act out less. As in, putting quarters in the meter throughout the day keeps you from getting a ticket. So I praise Abigail when I see her being gentle with the kitties, putting a toy away without being asked, nurturing her dolls, etc. I thought I was already good at praising her behavior, but I've since realized that I was regulating a lot of the praise to therapy stuff and that you can never compliment someone enough. So now I recognize good behavior for doing things she used to do, but still does well, like tells me when the kitties need "help" or closes the lid to her straw sippy cup. This has definitely been an incredibly effective strategy and I noticed an instantaneous, same-hour reduction in bad behavior.

But I guess if someone suddenly started complimenting me on my laundry folding or dish doing, I'd be pretty happy pretty quickly too.

I don't think I say enough on here how incredibly thankful I am that we do sign language with Abigail. I can't imagine not knowing what my almost three-year-old wanted. Abigail is getting the the point where she likes to tell acquaintances what is going on in life, so she'll excitedly tell the guy holding the door open for us at Mass that we drove our car that morning or the lady at coffee and donuts about the baby who was crying during the Homily. I know this behavior is normal because my young nieces and nephews are the same way. They have no blinding insight about what they had for dinner last night, they just feel the need to share the facts. But even though Abigail is doing something normal, because so few people treat her like she is normal, no one responds normally to her. So the conversation goes something like this:
Guy holding door at Mass (who sees a "Ds Angel" instead of a little girl): How is my favorite little girl today?! I love your pig tails!
Abigail: *signs car and points to the parking lot behind us*
Matt: *interprets the sign*
Guy at door: Yeah? *Awkward pause until we leave*

I get that she can make people a little uncomfortable. The sign for car (as if your hands were on a steering wheel) is pretty clear, especially with us interpreting it, but Abigail has a verbalization with it that I can see how it unnerves people. Abigail's word for car is this weird noise that sounds like the "-ar" part of car, but you have to drag out the "r" and not official end it, so it sounds almost like someone with a Harvard accent. It's weird, I get it. It calls to mind images of overweight, underkept adults who used to garner the title of "retarded." I know that's what they're thinking, I can see it in their eyes. But what Abigail has opened my eyes to is that all her behavior that seems weird or makes people uncomfortable is simple the other person's uncomfortability with their social expectations being violated.

There is meaning and intention behind her weird noise: it's her trying really damn hard to say "car" like you and I say "car." And I know how long it took her to get to the point where she could pair a vocalization with a sign. Abigail taught me how to don a perspective that "different" people still have meaning and intention behind their "weird" or "uncomfortable" behavior. That's why I say to treat people who are different as if they have no differences. If a regular kid said in a regular voice, "We drove our car to church!" what would you say? "Oh yeah? Do you love riding in the car?" "Oh yeah? What color is your car?" "Oh yeah? I love cars too!" Well, man-holding-the-door-open, that's what you should say to Abigail.

After a brief sock hiatus from the baptismal gown, I have resumed sacramental preparations. Back when I was crocheting socks for Christmas presents, Matt and I sitting next to one another on the couch watching a movie after Abigail went to bed (a "date moment," if you will), he would stare enviously at all these pairs of handmade wool socks. Since I can't exactly make him something without him seeing it, I instead made him a coupon for a pair of handmade socks in a yarn color of his choosing and gifted him with that. It took 1.5 months to pick out and order the yarn, but we finally did and it took me a lengthy 10 days to whip them up (normally it takes me a weekend, but the stomach flu can really throw off timelines). He was pretty stoked to have his new socks. Anyway, so now I'm back to the gown. I'm almost half-way done with the skirt.

Secret confession: I wish I was a couponer. Not like a crazy, I-have-100-boxes-of-cereal-in-my-cupboard couponer, but more of an I-never-pay-for-deodorant couponer. At the beginning of the year, I got serious and started clipping coupons from the local paper and basing my twice-monthly meal plans around the sales flier. I shopped at one store and made a lot of stuff myself. In our strong desire to get rid of this freakin' law school debt (which, granted, is less than half the national average of what a law school student graduates with), we live with one (non-smart) cell phone, we don't have a TV package, we have one car, we shop around for cheap car insurance, and we keep the heat low. I never thought I could get our incredibly low food budget any lower. But that didn't mean I didn't want to try. So when I got serious in January, I chopped 20-25% off our grocery bill. We were pretty stoked and I have been tucking the extra money away into an envelope labeled "post-partum food," so that we'll have something budgeted for those early recovery days when frozen pizza and chinese take-out rule the day.

But when I skimmed through the local community education class booklet and saw a one-night couponing class for only $25, I knew I would do anything to take it. The class occured the day after I recovered from the stomach flu and they promised that by following their tips, I'll save an average of 50% of my grocery bill per month. 50%?! For us, that is a life-changing amount of money to play with each month. There are so many places we could funnel that money to relieve other pressure plus up our debt payment.

In addition to massive savings, I would also love to stop making some things from scratch. Some are way fun or are healthy enough that I want to keep going, like bread and gatorade; some things are nice to make, but when I'm crunched for time or sick or pregnant, I would like to buy, like tortillas and laundry detergent; other things I never want to make again, like body wash and crackers. Skin-irritating detergents or not, I freakin' hate making body wash! Plus it would be nice to have more convenience foods - things I'd never buy without a serious discount, like spice mixes and slow cooker sauces - but will make dinner prep much faster on days when I feel really...pregnant.

I've been "crazy couponing" for one week and I've already gotten $.70 name-brand conditioner, $.17 frozen pre-chopped veggies, and two $.25 two liters of soda (the hubby is a soda junkie). I've previewed the coupon-sale match-ups for this week (I don't go shopping until Saturdays), and have seen some pretty awesome looking things: $1.50/box of Cheerios, $.64 canned diced tomatoes, and $3.50 California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas.

The couponing does take a few extra hours of my time per week, but to make/save 50% of my grocery bill per month, it is so totally worth it my time. I'll let you know how things go as I continue this journey.

If I can really save 50% of our grocery bill, I can totally use a month's worth of saved money to throw the girls a party in May! The double celebration 3rd bday/Baptism I was dreaming of could totally happen! I mean, we're not talking anything fancy, Hot 'n Ready pizzas, some balloons, a few cases of soda, but it's something! Talk about motivating!

Lastly, not that I want to sound any alarm bells, but if you could say a quick Hail Mary (or what-have-you) for this baby, I'd appreciate it. I'm sure it's all in my paranoid head, but this baby doesn't move like Abigail moved and it's got me a bit nervous. I've got a doctor's appointment this Friday and will bring it up, but in the meantime, prayers for an unborn child never hurt anyone : )

20 February 2014


The week I hit the 3rd trimester: February 2014 vs March 2011

18 February 2014

The Light at the End of the Sickness

We appear to be out of the sickness woods. Abigail and Matt are back 100% and I'm probably at 95%. Much to my despair, I was not spared the stomach bug and did, in fact, have a head cold and the stomach flu while I was six months pregnant. My upset stomach must have been bothering the baby because she normally hangs out really low, but these last few days, she's been up super high kicking me in the stomach. I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle vomiting so much, as the left side of my abs where they connect to the pelvis has been throbbing. As if life couldn't get any worse, my kidney also started acting up while I was sick. I'm pretty sure I told Matt something along the lines of, "This is it. I'm going to die. And if I don't, we are never getting pregnant again."

Ah, thank goodness such pain is easy to forget once health returns.

The good news in all of this is that Matt had Monday off (Happy Birthday, Washington), so he only missed one day and one hour of work during our battle of Entire Family Sickness. We are trying to bank as much sick/vaycay time as we can so he can take some time off when the baby is born. His employer does not offer a paternity leave, but does have generous sick/vaycay days.

All of us being too sick to do anything other than lay on the couch and moan meant that Matt and I had a lot of time to talk about some of our more frustrating issues. I think I've briefly mentioned in previous posts that I feel like we have all these Big Deal things to make decisions about and I feel like we need to make decisions right now. They include things like buying a house/staying where we are another year, buying a second car, stuff like that. We've been re-hashing the same points and re-rejecting the same list of possible solutions for a frustratingly long time now, but having a long weekend of staying home and talking was significantly beneficially. We came to a compromise on nearly all of our issues. While the solutions aren't ideal (ie, we aren't buying a second car right now), we did figure out how to relieve some of the building discomfort. I feel like we took things down from a "this has to change Right. Now" scenario to an "I can live with this and offer my hardships up" kind of situation. It's so relieving to have those issues off our shoulders. And I think our marriage is stronger for having dealt with them.

Today the weather hovered above freezing, so Abigail and I went out for a brief stroll. We didn't dare leave the apartment complex as the city we live in has given up plowing sidewalks at this point - staying in the complex allowed us to walk in the street when the snow was too high to trudge through. Abigail is a bit too young yet to find the snow much fun, and in most places, the snow is practically above her head anyway. But it was glorious to get outside. In the sun. We could even see concrete in some places. I have been very careful not to wish that winter were over or that spring were here. Life is goes by fast enough without wishing it would hurry up. But I don't think it's too anti-"live in the moment" to be glad that the snow drifts are starting to shrink.

Well, I should wrap this up as Abigail is not going to fall back asleep at this point. Lately she has had such an attitude and I keep waiting for it to pass. "Well, she's just stir crazy from being inside all the time." Then it was, "Well, she's just sick." Then back to, "She's just stir crazy. She needs more playtime with kids her age." Then she was sick again. But I've come to realize that Abigail is in a terrible twos stage. Little Miss Attitude has discovered selective hearing and realized that if she goes completely limp, I can't make her go pick up that toy she just threw. It is so maddening! She hits when she's mad now, and she'll get revenge on me by digging through drawers she knows she's not allowed to be in. The little stinker would rather run through the house dumping clean laundry everywhere than helpfully take an armload of folded socks to the dresser. She's always had a sassy streak, but my helpful little princess has turned into Miss My Way or the Highway. All my old tactics to quell the terrible twos are no longer effective (give her a job to do, show her how to help you, praise her efforts). I need to schedule in some time this week to research teaching patience to toddlers. In the meantime, if you have any advice, I'd love to hear it.

15 February 2014

A Bunch of Sickies

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words of advice on my whiny/ER post. The good news is that I was able to get Abigail to drink a little bit more each day, and even eat a bit of full-fat yogurt and we had a...break through (if you get my drift)...on Friday. But this morning she woke up with a small fever. Which got worse as the day went on. And now it's accompanied by gas and diarrhea. So we went from constipation to diarrhea in a week. Since I didn't give her anything other than juice to clear up the constipation and she's got a fever, I think Abigail may have some sort of stomach bug. And since we like to go big or go home around here, Matt has all Abigail's symptoms, meaning double the fun. Thankfully no one is vomiting. I put both of them to sleep around 6:30pm tonight.

Another mark in the "good news" column is that I have neither fever nor diarrhea. I am still fighting this nasty head cold - which is completely non-responsive to pregnancy-approved meds - but I'd way rather have a cold than a stomach bug. Another bit of good news is that since everyone is sick, no one is very hungry, the lack of food around here hasn't been noticed, which is excellent because this sick, pregnant girl is looking for every excuse in the book to avoid going out in the cold and lugging home groceries.

This cold has been a doozy for me, so much so that I called Matt at work on Thursday and asked him to come home early. When the alarm went off on Friday, I asked him to stay home completely. It's kind of a big deal for me to ask Matt to take a day off work. A few weeks ago, I had migraine remnants and was passing a kidney stone and I didn't ask him to come home. Heck, I'm the one who encouraged him to go back to law school less than 24 hours after Abigail had been discharged from the hospital following heart surgery. I feel like I need to be on death's doorstep to ask for help or else I'm just being weak and whiny. But being pregnant...and almost at the third trimester...it changes things...it zaps you of what little energy you have every day...I know I'm making excuses, but I'm basically trying to explain how desperate I felt to have to call him home.

But the funny thing is that the two of them being sick suddenly gave me this ability to power through my cold and take care of them. I'm all sneezing, blowing my nose, and washing my hands every five minutes, but I'm also dolling out water and Tylenol, refilling toilet paper in the bathroom, and changing Abigail's diaper a few times an hour like I'm Super Mom. Being needed and having a clear job to do is keeping my mind off my sinus pressure and achy back.

Since me and the deaf cat are the only two souls awake around here at this crazy-late hour of 7:10pm, even though I'm sick and could use the extra sleep, I'm really enjoying the silence. So I'm gonna stay up a little longer, blog a bit, doing some crocheting, and then maybe I'll join the rest of my family around 9pm or so. The whole family asleep by 9pm on a Saturday. Even though I've never been much for partying, 18-year-old Jacqueline still probably would have been in shock at the concept. But 27-year-old Jacqueline thinks that sounds blissful.

Cloth Diapers
I expanded our collection with a Fuzzibunz Elite (the brand-new model, which I hear is significantly improved over the older versions) and a new BumGenius pocket diaper with velcro. We now have 4 cloth diapers total. I didn't think I'd really care about velcro vs. snaps, but I actually really like velcro better. It's faster to put on and I don't have to obsess about which row of snaps is the better fit. I also really like brand new diapers over used ones because they are softer and the newer models are using a different material for the inserts that dries faster. I sat down a few days ago and ran a whole bunch of different calculations to figure out which diapers we wanted, who had the best price, and exactly how many I think we'll need for two kids. I went over the details with Matt and we picked a plan that will have us fully stocked in cloth by the time the baby I'm carrying is about a month old without stressing the budget. Once we get a cloth stash built up, we'll hopefully be able to slash the amount of money we spend on diapers now down significantly and funnel that money somewhere else. I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime, cloth diapers are so new, novel, and exciting right now that I don't mind changing her diaper : ) Although she'll be rocking some serious disposables until she's over this stomach bug. I'm not even going to go there.

The Baptism Gown
Things are moving along really smoothly thus far. No problems with the pattern and the lacy look is so beautiful that I just want to keep going. I don't get crocheting in while Abigail is awake though. She's not a big fan of Mommy working on something she can't "help" with.

The dress is taking a long time though, there is no way I'd be able to make and sell these (Sorry, TB). I've been working on this dress for 2 weeks exactly today and I'm only about 1/4 of the way done with the skirt. Then there's the bodice, the sleeves, the final details...I think if I got in a good 3-4 hours of crochet time, 7 days a week, I could probably finish a dress in one month. But I'd have to sacrifice all other craft projects, reading, pretty much everything else I would want to do for fun, and I'd have to charge several hundred dollars. When it comes to yarn-based projects, it is incredible how much more cost-effective it is to have a machine do the work. And it isn't necessarily true that handiwork is higher quality than machine-made. I think largely the "handmade" aspect is more for pride/bragging rights, both in the short-term (when I show off our new baby in this on at her Baptism), but also because that pride will probably keep things like these in the family longer.

Sorry these photos are so dark and the color is so inconsistent. I take these in the location I usually do my Etsy photos, but I don't wait for the ideal day/time for lighting and I don't photoshop them to make them prettier because that takes time. When I finish the project, I'll doctor up those photos for maximum blog beauty.

The Memoirs

I have a few copies back from my peer-reviewers and am expecting the remaining comments next week. I'm excitedly tearing through everyone's notes and looking forward to digging back into the manuscript. I want to wait until I get all the copies back before I start working so I can look for common themes that need changing. It's amazing how two people can read the same exact paragraph and some readers really connect with it while others feel it needs significant improvement.

Before I sent out the manuscript, I did some reading on various writer's websites to prepare myself to handle the critiques without taking things personally. It does help that I've worked in design since graduating college, so I am familiar with having people hate something I put lots of work into. But I know that one of my personal weaknesses is taking criticism. I have been surprised at how not-offended I have been thus far. I really do genuinely appreciate people's honesty. And while it's not easy to see someone circle a paragraph I was particularly in love with and write, "hated this" next to it, I would way, way, way rather have my friend who cares about me say, "this part sucked - fix it" rather than an editor who certainly does not have my best interest at heart tell me what they didn't like about my work.

I have this fantasy that once I get everyone's comments back, I would rent a hotel room with an amazing view somewhere nearby-ish for a few nights and just hole up on my own personal writer's retreat. Just me, my computer, and my stack of insights for a few days, typing away with zero distractions. Taking breaks by strolling up and down a sandy beach, wrapped in a warm sweater, drinking a hot chocolate; feverishly scribbling notes on scrap paper in my cheap blue, but writes incredibly well, pen; sucking up every blissful moment of that "OMG, I got this paragraph just right, that sounds amazing, I love writing" high. Writing at home in few-hour chunks during nap time, or squirreling away in the bedroom when Matt's home at my workspace located next to a leaky bedroom window that overlooks a parking lot is not exactly conducive to serious productivity. But running off to a cozy bed and breakfast on the coast of Lake Michigan to work on my first-ever book that could very well never make us a dime is not exactly in the budget right now. And even if it was, I'd rather have a second car, celebration party for the girls, kayaks, a new couch, etc, etc before I ran away on a personal work trip. So it's just a fantasy while I pay my dues as a newbie writer in the trenches of editing hell.

Sorry guys, no proofreading tonight, but to make up for it, here are a few cute photos of Abigail in the 12-hour period she enjoyed between the constipation and the diarrhea. The poor girl. Before her heart surgery, Abigail's Godparents gave us a small vial of healing oil from the a statue that cried tears of healing oil in Europe (maybe in Medjugorje? I can't remember off the top of my head and I know they did some traveling while they were over there. Sorry, I blame it on the pregnancy brain/head cold). Even though I used it often before and after her surgery, just like the widow in the Old Testament whose jars of flour and oil never ran low after she made Elijah food, the vial never seems to get low, so I break it out whenever the poor girl is in a rough way.

*Later that night: It's almost 10pm now and I've been in and out of the bathroom since I posted this around 8pm...with Matt and Abigail's symptoms...looks like I might have a stomach bug plus a headcold? Someone please say this is a random fluke and I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning perfectly fine. Please?

12 February 2014

Warning: Whining Ahead

We had our first child-related trip to the ER last night. The label "Emergency Room" would imply the situation was an emergency, but it's incredible how often a person has to go to the hospital for something completely not a crisis. That was us and the entire pediatric ER waiting room last night: a whole bunch of families who did not look or act like they were having a catastrophe and needed immediate attention. I did everything possible to avoid the hospital and its $200 copay, but in the end, that's where we found ourselves.

So Abigail had been constipated for a few days and had barely eaten. She'd vomited once the day before and it was clearly related to the constipation. Since she eats a primarily dairy-based diet, she gets constipated often, but I usually just increase her fluid intake, give her extra fruit, and she clears up within 24 hours. Not a big deal. After open-heart surgery, it takes a lot to rattle me about Abigail's health. But she was rejecting fluids yesterday. And if there is one substance Abigail will gleefully consume, it's beverages. She loves water - warm or cold, milk, non-dairy milk, smoothies, and juice. And by yesterday evening, she'd had only 8oz of fluid, despite my myriad of attempts. She had one wet diaper all day and it was not even half full. She was short-tempered, clingy, and sleeping more than usual. My mommy-gut was starting to alert me: This has never happened before. And how can you get ahead of constipation when your kid won't drink? I was nervous to let her go another night without consulting her doctor.

I called the pediatrician (well, the triage nurse on staff) and described all our symptoms, to which she admitted that Abigail did sound dehydrated and they weren't equipped to do a saline solution there. She advised that we head to the ER. After some discussion, she recommended a pediatric urgent care clinic that wasn't too far from the hospital (which is only 25 minutes from our apartment) that we could try first to avoid a hospital visit. She warned that young, non-verbal kids can go from bad to worse really quickly, so it was best to take action.

It was about 5pm in the evening, I'd just gotten home from picking up Matt from work and was about to start dinner. Of course it was one of those days when I'd barely had lunch and there was little food in the cupboards as I need to go grocery shopping. Everyone knows emergency rooms are incredibly slow, but I wasn't expecting anything too drastic, I mean, we just needed a saline IV. I packed a bag with some books, snacks, and water bottles, and all three of us drove to urgent care.

The nurse at urgent care didn't even admit us - she heard about the lack of wet diapers, the behavior change (clingy and grouchy), and sent us to the ER. She told us that the pediatric urgent care clinic didn't do IVs in little ones. The pediatric clinic doesn't poke little kids. I still haven't wrapped my mind around that one.

So shortly before 6pm, we found ourselves standing in a long line to enter a metal detector at a hospital emergency room. Yes, you heard that right: a metal detector. I checked three times to make sure we had entered the correct door. It looked like an airport security terminal. There were a few security guards milling around, an x-ray device to see inside bags and purses, and we had to empty our pockets into little plastic bins. Matt and I were in shock at the bottle-necked entrance to an emergency room. Eventually we got through the line, the two check-in stations, and found seats in the pediatric ER waiting room. Where we waited. For hours. All because Abigail was approaching dehydration.

The room was crowded and as kids' bedtimes ticked by and bored adults got sick of staring at exuberantly painted walls, everyone started getting a bit testy. The vast majority of people in that waiting room could have been sitting around anywhere. A three-week-old sound asleep in his mother's arms as she messed around on her phone. A teenage couple getting into a spat while their young daughter toddled around the waiting room chewing on a teether. A school-age boy shouting at his dad in Spanish over something he didn't get at the store. Very few patients looked as though they were having an emergency, including us.

Abigail was signing "eat," but refusing the snacks I brought, signing "water," but refusing to drink, signing for toys I didn't bring, fighting exhaustion, and trying desperately to walk around the waiting room. Matt and I passed her back and forth between us for about two hours. When a tech finally appeared and called Abigail's name, Matt and I literally cheered.

Things finally started going our way once we got back to our room: an attentive nurse showed up promptly, a friendly physician's assistant with a good bedside manner discussed possibilities. An order was put in for an x-ray to determine the severity of the constipation and we were left in our quiet room.

Then the nurse stopped by to offer us some juice to get Abigail drinking. She needed a urine sample, she explained.

"A urine sample? From a dehydrated toddler?"

I explained that I had brought water, a juice box, and some snacks, but that Abigail wasn't having it.

"Well, we have apple, grape, water, and milk," she offered. "Would she like it in a sippy cup?"

WTF? I thought. Like I haven't been trying this all. freaking. day? If I could get her to drink, I WOULDN'T BE HERE RIGHT NOW.

I selected apple juice just to get her to leave.

The nurse returned quickly and stood over my shoulder to see if Abigail would drink it. Abigail took a small sip and pushed the cup away.

"Do you want more juice?" She asked loudly. "More juice?" Abigail signed "more" because she heard the word "more" being emphasized, which got the nurse all excited. But I knew better. I kept offering the juice, Abigail kept refusing. The nurse finally left us.

And we waited. And waited. Abigail was getting irritable again. Matt and I played every game we could concoct in our hungry, tired, irritable states and got Abigail to drink three more ounces of apple juice.

Finally a guy popped his head into our room. He was probably in high school, wearing a bright red polo with khakis and carrying a clipboard. I was positive he was the tech who was going to lead us to the x-ray until I spotted the word "volunteer" on the back of the clipboard.

"Can I get you anything?" He asked with an expression that begged us to reply in the negative.

I asked if he could get us an ETA on the x-ray, which he thankfully did, although the response was, "there are people ahead of you, it could be a while." The nurse did tell us that if we wanted to wait up in the x-ray area on a bench, we might be able to get in faster. We excitedly agreed. As we followed her down the winding hallways, we passed empty x-ray room after empty x-ray room. There were people in hospital beds in the hallway waiting outside of lit, empty x-ray rooms for their turn to have an x-ray. On my way to the bathroom, I found yet another hallway of empty x-ray rooms.

The hallway was cold, the bench was uncomfortable, and Abigail was so freakin' done with life at that point. She oscillated between slap-happy giggles and angry outbursts with breakneck speed. My blood sugar was crazy low, my back hurt, and I was so tired I was starting to get nauseous. Matt was not in much better shape. I don't know how long we waited in that beige hallway, but finally someone called for Abigail and we got a perfect x-ray after the first try.

"How long will it take to read the x-ray?" I asked the technician in a voice slightly-higher pitched than normal. I was terrified of the response.
"Usually it takes 45 minutes to an hour, but we're really busy today," he responded apologetically.

We were back in our room by about 10:20pm, found some Olympics on television, and tried to settle in. The nurse popped in every once in a while to try to get Abigail to eat some crackers or drink some more juice, which was irritating me in the extreme. I am her mother, the person she is closest to in the world, and I can't get her to eat or drink, why would a complete stranger have better luck? And most importantly, if she would eat and drink, I WOULDN'T HAVE COME TO THE E-FREAKING-R! And I was right: the nurse's obnoxious persistence got her nowhere. We also checked periodically to see if Abigail had a wet diaper they could run a test on, but she was perpetually completely dry.

It was almost 11pm when I finally lost it. Between the dizziness, lightheadedness, and exhaustion, I felt like I was drunk. Turning my head quickly, lifting Abigail, watching the slow-motion replays on TV, all sent my head spinning. It was almost FOUR hours after Abigail's bedtime, she'd barely eaten in two days, and she didn't feel good. Matt was starving, exhausted, and just as angry as I was. In hushed voices we went over our case with one another. We had done everything possible to try to avoid a trip to the ER: we spent two days working through solutions at home, we contacted the pediatrician, we went to urgent care. We were talking about a non-crisis, border-line case of dehydration, but apparently the only place in all of America that can handle such an event is an emergency room.

I paged the nurse and asked if we could get started on the [damn] saline solution while we waited for the [f-ing] x-ray results. (Words in brackets means they only thought and not spoken). A few minutes later, she popped into our room, "Why do you want to start her on an IV?" she asked.

It took every last ounce of strength I didn't know I had to keep my temper under control. I explained our logic:

-We're here on concerns of dehydration
-The pediatrician said she'd need a saline bag, and we could only do that at an ER
-The urgent care clinic said she'd need a saline bag, and we could only do that at an ER
-Why not start the saline bag now while we wait for x-ray results? You know, speed things up a bit.

The nurse detected my anger and paged the physician's assistant. It turns out they never wanted to do a saline solution because Abigail was acting mostly normal. Her lack of lethargy was an indication that her dehydration was not very severe. Apparently IVs are more "invasive" and they like to approach things "conservatively" and not traumatize young kids by poking them unless it's necessary.

I laughed. I honest-to-goodness laughed. A bitter, sarcastic laugh that came out before I could stop it. I couldn't look the nurse or the PA in the face at this point, I definitely would have yelled. I explained that Abigail gets poked a lot. Between the twice-yearly blood work, any in-between blood work a specialist wants, and the vaccines...she doesn't usually even cry about it. An IV wouldn't traumatize her. I explained that it was FOUR HOURS past Abigail's bedtime and we had accomplished nothing that I couldn't have done on my own at home.

As we were talking, Abigail's x-ray results came back (Coincidence? Who knows) indicating that she had mild to moderate constipation and no blockages about which to be concerned. He recommended that we keep trying bits of food and fluid with Abigail.

He assured us that if we had to come back, they wouldn't repeat these tests and would start her on an IV quickly.

Oh, joy.

He said a bunch more things, most of which seemed unimportant and I kept inserting the question, "So we can just go home and keep an eye on her?" every time he paused. There was a 0% chance we were going to spend more time in that exam room waiting for Abigail to pee.

As soon as the doctor left the room to get our discharge paperwork in order, Matt started packing things up and offered me my coat. I had to laugh again, this time a sad laugh. Discharge paperwork never arrives quickly.

It was midnight by the time we arrived home. We had left the apartment SEVEN hours earlier because Abigail was ALMOST dehydrated. And we arrived back home in the SAME CONDITION that caused us to go out in the first place. Sans a $200 copay.

Abigail fell asleep within moments of her head touching her crib. Matt and I scarfed some Taco Bell and hit the sack just as fast.

But wouldn't you know it? I had insomnia. I could barely stay sleeping for more than an hour at a time and it would take forever to fall back asleep. And when the alarm went off in the morning, I realized I had a nasty headcold. To make matters even worse, Abigail did not sleep in this morning, waking up at her usual 6:30am. I'm completely exhausted, Abigail's a total (still not-eating or drinking) grouch, and there is still no food in the cupboards. I have zero expectations for today. Matt has been checking in from work almost hourly and has assured me that he can get things in order and be home quickly on a moment's notice. He just may have to. In the meantime, I've been Googling "why ERs are so slow," and apparently it's a national epidemic. From now on, I think we'll be waiting to head into an ER until it's actually a catastrophic, crisis emergency.

11 February 2014


I'm going through one of those times in life when I'm being faced with a bazillion important decisions that need to be made and it feels like they need to be made right. now. Life feels very turbulent and chaotic, and yet ironically, life in this little apartment feels boring and mundane. I don't know which way we're supposed to go and sometimes I don't even feel like I know how to figure it out. A few insightful moments this past week have me feeling hopefully and giving me a hint of direction. Usually I like to obsess, analyze, research, and plan when I feel this way, but today I'm making a point to focus on the little things: new pink sparkly nail polish, my husband's kiss when he left for work this morning, a good hair day, when Abigail put on a bracelet and searched me out to show me and say, "pretty!" And so today I'm blogging about books. Simple, distracting books.

Matt and I are both big into books. We were both raised in households that encouraged reading and made books readily available. I loved reading so much so that I majored in English (Lit) in college, even though I didn't have an end job in mind for my degree. When we got married, our combined libraries totaled about three shelves and our first book wall was made:

Our books in our first apartment together back in 2008. Ah, the shelves look so empty!

We were a pair of newlywed, book-loving, DINKS, and walking into a bookstore together was like two heroin addicts on payday. We encouraged and enabled each other's addictions. We got excited about each other's book purchases. We bought books and read books and talked about books. We Googled pictures of home libraries and dreamed of what ours would look like.

When we moved to Florida for law school in 2009, we sorted through our collection and left a good chunk in my parents' basement. The rest were packed up into banker's boxes and paper boxes (the two ideal book-moving boxes), and hauled them down to Florida.

Each time we moved, we'd go through our collection, donating books we didn't really like or had no interest in reading, but more books were coming in than going out, so our library kept growing.

From our Florida apartment after Abigail was born - 2011.

After we had Abigail and only a very part-time income, we cut back on our spending, but book-buying was always our weakness. One Christmas, I bought all the books on Matt's Amazon wishlist that were used for less than $1, many of those only $.01. Even with a $50 budget, you can get a lot of books when you're basically only paying the $4 cost of shipping.

Our biggest book dump was when we moved from Chicago back to Michigan last summer. We found a used book store that paid decently for used books and our book collection had grown the point that we barely had space to hold them all.

The library in Chicago in 2013. That built-in was very wide, we estimate that it held almost an entire bookcase worth of books.

When we arrived back in our home state, we pulled most of the books out of my parents' basement (leaving only our kid books - Matt's Hardy Boys and my Thoroughbred series, that sort of thing). The new library collection required a 4th bookcase. We also have a small two-shelf case that holds my cookbooks, craft books, and parenting books that isn't pictured below.

This picture was taken today.

So with parents like us, is it any surprise that Abigail likes books? We read books together almost every single day, books are a part of the naptime and bedtime routines, and she gets new books for almost every single holiday. While we obviously supply her with board books, the girl is not prejudice. She loves skimming through novels off our bookshelves. She'll pull off Robinson Crusoe or Atonement or a Michener or anything else on the shelves she can reach and just sit on the floor pointing to the words.

Photo from early fall in Chicago in 2013.

Ever since Abigail could hold her own head up, I've been reading books with her. Her therapists noted early on that Abigail looked at books from left to right and top to bottom before most typically developing kids. A child with Ds doing something ahead of a typically developing child is incredibly rare.

Abigail's personal collection holds about 60 books that she has free access to.

We also have about a dozen "special books" (ie, picture books) that she reads with adult supervision.

After I took the above pictures, I pulled out Abigail's current favorites. A few were scattered around the apartment, but these are most of the ones we read on a daily basis:

I love that she loves her Bible!

I personally don't have a favorite book or author. My favorite genre is "classics" (ie, stuff by dead white guys), but I do branch out and read more modern stuff when the mood strikes me. I'm known to go on author kicks (most recently I was on a Hemingway kick) or get cravings for certain themes (most recently I had a craving for post-British de-colonization of Africa).

My Vonnegut collection from my Vonnegut kick in high school.

Oddly (embarrassingly?) enough, I actually have a really bad memory for books I've read. I can't remember the plots or main characters in books I read only a month ago. I can recall general themes and whether I liked the book, but that's about it. It's wildly frustrating. I'm actually worse with movies, to the point that I often don't remember that I've even seen a movie only six months later. Despite my crappy book memory, I still try to read two books per month minimum.

There is one major point on which Matt and I differ when it comes to our books: he likes quality, I like quantity. I love a good Bantam or Signet classic.

I can pick out a good Bantam or Signet from an aisle away - the books are always short in height, the pages cheap, the typeface heavy, and they have the same exciting smell. I see a Bantam and I smile. Why? They are dirt freakin' cheap! I see a Signet and I think, "Wow - I can get a 1200 pages of literature for only $7!"

To me a way-awesome shopping trip is walking into a bookstore with a $10 bill in my pocket and walking out with enough book to keep me busy for weeks a few dollars leftover to treat myself to a coffeeshop mocha to toast the opening chapter.

So what does Matt have against my Bantams? Take a look for yourself.

Sick-tight bindings, tiny margins, cheap pages, and heavy typeface. I think it gives him a headache every time he thinks about my Signets. Fortunately for Matt, he doesn't read my dead white guys, and these publishers typically only do classics. Unfortunately for him, he reads primarily non-fiction which usually comes with a steeper price tag. But when we does read novels, I steer him toward a Modern Library or a Scribner. More expensive in price, but way easier on the eyes. And actually, Barnes and Noble (Borders used to too) carries two different lines of store-brand books, but the slightly more expensive one is still very reasonably priced and just as good in terms of readability as the more expensive ones.

Well, if you are still reading this post, I thank you. Talking about something light and easy and fun has been a much-needed break for me. I show my gratitude with a series of cute Chica book-pics:

06 February 2014

An Assortment of Updates, Mostly Relating to Babies

I'm having mad beverage cravings this pregnancy. That's right, beverages. All kinds. A grande Starbucks mocha with whip? A large mixed berry fruit smoothie? A giant frozen strawberry margarita with a sugar-lined rim and a tall straw? Yes, yes, yes! Even ice cold water and store-brand cranberry juice have my mouth watering. Most commonly I've been craving chocolate milkshakes. From Big Boy. McDonalds will do in a pinch. Unfortunately I have all these health problems that get in the way of my beverage enjoyment. Hard lemonade is (obviously) a no-no during pregnancy, my kidney pain gets worse when I drink coffee, and I have a colon disease that prevents me from drinking soda any more often than a few times a year. Thankfully chocolate milkshakes are feasible. Even though my pregnancy cravings are stronger than regular, non-pregnancy cravings, I've only ever had one occasion where I had to have it right then (it was a Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme with raspberry iced tea from the fountain at the end of the first trimester). But - oh my goodness - I came "this close" with a Big Boy chocolate milkshake the other day. It was getting bad. Today is about "this close" to being "this close" with regard to those damn milkshakes. With windchill, it feels like 6 degrees outside my window right now and I'm dying for a chocolate milkshake.

* * * * *

Do you remember how my apartment complex was all, "We're going to make your life really difficult with 48 hours notice!" a little while back? Well, today was the day.

I'll end the suspense and let you down gently: it wasn't as particularly hellish. It did help that we actually did get 48 hours notice and I made sure to prepare myself for a difficult day. I squeezed in a shower before Matt left so I wouldn't have to worry about someone walking in on me in the middle of the afternoon, and I even picked up a donut from the grocery store last night to save for this morning. Because even a stale, day-old donut is a good way for a pregnant woman craving sugary baked goods to prepare for a difficult day.

I think the worst part of the entire thing was the lack of communication. No one knew how long they'd be in my apartment (Haven't these guys been working on these apartments for weeks?!) and they'd leave saying they'd be back, "In a little while," which, obviously means different things to different people, including my two-year-old, who is pretty "a little while" longer strapped in her highchair is about 35 seconds. The process involved lots of furniture moving, cutting holes in walls, drywall dust flying everywhere, and tools scattered throughout the apartment. The process took about two hours, during which my active toddler needed to be confined to either her high chair or her crib, and we never knew for how much longer. Plus maintenance men, cable technicians, bug guys (pretty much any male in a uniform carrying foreign objects) is a mega seizure trigger for poor Puff-puff.

The guys weren't thrilled to discover I hadn't moved any furniture, but after I said with a laugh over my six-month-pregnant belly, "Well, I'm not moving anything!" They snapped into gear and began moving things without breaking anything. They were also pretty polite about giving us another hour when they arrived in the middle of a physical therapy session. All this mess so that we can have better cable television. And we own neither a tv nor pay for a television package.

* * * * *

I want to thank everyone who commented on my previous post with regard to the baptismal dress and early Baptisms. I was surprised at how many other people baptize early as well, as a matter of course. I have been plugging away at the dress for an hour or two each night (good thing I have three more months!) and I thought I'd post a picture because, hey, this post needs more pictures.

I've officially started the skirt (the dress has an empire waist). And I do have to say that the pattern isn't hard so much as it's intricate. It is still definitely for an advanced crocheter, in part because the pattern is written for an audience that is experienced, but also because it takes a lot of endurance. My favorite part of starting a new pattern is discovering how it works. What stitch forms those ripples in the afghan? How did they make the texture in that clutch? Or, in the case of this dress, how did they make those pineapples? Once I find out, it's a little bit of disenchantment, like finding out the secret behind a magician's trick. Now that I know how to make dress, I kind of want to move on to a conquer a new pattern. The second challenge with any project is the endurance part. Now I know how it works, now I have to do it! Usually it takes me a few rows before the urge leaves me and I get excited about the challenge of finishing. But don't worry, I rarely give up on a project.

* * * * *

Abigail appears to want to skip her nap today, for the second day in a row! The kid is not ready to phase out naps yet, as evidenced by the giant grouchy-monster that she becomes by 4pm on non-nap days. If Abigail doesn't nap today, we may be walking the 1.5 miles to Big Boy to buy a milkshake - snow be damned - otherwise I'm going to turn into a giant grouchy-monster by 4pm.

* * * * *

The other update I think may interest you right now (cause I know my beverage cravings are of utmost interest), is that Matt and I have finalized a name for this baby. First and middle.

But to heighten your suspense, I'm not going to tell you. We're not releasing the name because I really don't want to be one of those people who has horror stories of family members sitting them down and trying to talk them out of it and also so that we can change our minds if we don't like the name once we meet her.

Matt and I are early-name-people. We started talking about names long before we were trying for Abigail, and we usually start chatting seriously as soon as we see the "+" on the pregnancy test. So yes, we have a name, we have Godparents (she cried when I asked her - it was quite flattering), and we have kicking at this very moment.

03 February 2014

Occupy My Mind

Last week's purloining of the car plus a family walk on Saturday (temps of 25 degrees feel pretty warm after a month of -25 degrees), I was feeling a much-needed release from cabin fever. But it's amazing how quickly the walls start closing in again once that front door closes, so I decided to start arming myself with a few projects to keep myself distracted.

Last week I rearranged the furniture in Abigail's room to make space for the second crib, but it's still too early to start sorting through her old baby stuff. To be honest, it was even too early to rearrange the furniture, but we were desperate for a way to burn energy and the new arrangement made things feel new and exciting.

The best way to keep a hands-on person distracted is with a craft project. During the month of January, I made an afghan. It's a 4.5 feet x 4.5 feet.

After the craft fair and Christmas presents, I had a lot of random balls of yarn leftover - all too small to be their own project, so I decided to make a blanket with all the scrap yarn. As you can probably see, I still have a lot of loose ends to weave in, but as that is my least favorite part of blanket-making and this afghan is not on a deadline, I'm taking my sweet time.

So I needed a new project and my favorite brand of baby yarn has recently been discontinued, leaving me no desire to start working on a baby blanket for this baby. So I opted to start working on the Baptismal gown. After much searching, I found this pattern that Matt and I both love:

Click the photo to be directed to the Etsy shop where it was purchased.

The yarn used is so delicate that I was unable to find it at my local craft stores, so I ended up purchasing it online. It arrived on Saturday and I started crocheting that night.

The light and camera makes it look yellower than it really is - it's more of a cream in person. With each and every row, it is starting to look more and more like something my grandmother would give me and say, "My grandmother made this." The incredible tininess of the yarn will give it a very lace look. For those of you familiar with crocheting, this is crochet thread size 20 - standard crochet cotton is size 10. For those of you not big into the crochet scene, here is a picture of standard (size 4) yarn with one of the most popular size crochet hooks used in patterns (h) for comparison:

The seller of the pattern warns that this is for advanced crocheters, and she is not joking - my 15+ years of experience in crocheting is coming in handy. But I really love the challenge of this dress and I can't wait to get started on that intricate skirt! I am confident enough in my skills to know it will turn out like the picture, and this is totally the kind of thing people see and go, "you made that?!" Maybe someday I'll be that grandma whose granddaughter passes this down to her great-granddaughter.

The baptismal gown goes hand-in-hand with a baptismal party, and Matt and I are playing around with a way-fun idea. We had Abigail baptized very early as a precaution against her heart, but, for lots of reasons, we really liked completing this sacrament so early, so we'd like to repeat it with all of our kids. This baby is due 2 days after Abigail's birthday, so we're thinking of doing a joint Baby's Baptism & Abigail's 3rd birthday party. We don't want to make extended-family-wide bday parties a regular thing because that can be really draining for large families, like my husband's. But everyone is already going to be in one place for the Baptism. And I love planning things, especially girly things. And Matt thinks we should make the theme pink. So. Yeah. Who knows if it will happen - even a "close family, intimate event" wouldn't fit in our apartment and feeding people is expensive - but I decided to plan it anyway! I resurrected my old Pinterest account and started searching for DIY center pieces. We haven't even called the church yet, but I did up some invitations. Even if this party never happens, I enjoy planning things and I just need something to do when I need a break from crocheting.

The only thing about planning parties and crocheting dainty dresses is that it's hard to do them with one of these cuties running around:

And this little cutie starting saying, "no" on Thursday. Right now we're still in the adorable, "she doesn't know that she can say it to me yet" stage, and I love overhearing her tell her dolls, puzzle pieces, kitties, any other errant toy, "no, no, no" in her cute little voice that sounds more like, "new, new, new." I don't know how long I get before the "no" stage turns ugly, so for right now, we're just enjoying a new word. Anyway, I am planning to get her a new toy for Valentine's Day, something her therapists really recommend, and new toys always lead to more time spent occupied and less time torturing them:

so I'm looking forward to it.

Today is Monday, my friends. Do something today to make Monday awesome. And may the sun be with you.