Monthly Archives: February 2010

the models on the cover of Parenting Magazine are not my mom’s age anymore, but mine

This fact of life hits me occasionally: I’m a frickin’ grown-up.

When did that happen?

Every now and then I get this feeling, this shock that I’m an adult. It hits unexpectedly most times. When I’m setting up the coffee maker for the next morning, making a dinner that includes vegetables or talking to my husband about Ollie’s development concerns. It hits…

I’ve changed. I’m a grown-up with grown-up responsibilities.

It’s sometimes a little jarring.

I generally think of myself as being about 16 and still la-la-la-ing my way through life.

When did this all-important, but almost imperceptible change take place?

Possibly, it was college graduation, unleashed into the world, using my hard-won education to better my life, by uh….telemarketing and receptionist jobs and a brief-but-eye-opening detour into door-to-door sales. Duped by cleverly worded newspaper ads, I walked a quaint town selling discounted Golf foursomes. In 80 degree weather, cute high heels and full-on “business” attire, learning the suggested hand gestures to use to gain more sales. Clearly, this was a mistake an adult wouldn’t make.

Perhaps when I moved out on my own? Without roommates to blame things like electricity-cutoffs and missed telephone calls on, suddenly I’m responsible for all the bill-paying and dish-washing. But that’s all day-to-day grind stuff, anyone with any amount of common sense realizes you wash the dishes before you get roaches.

Another option is a combo. A one-two punch of personal milestones. Marriage and parenthood. Nothing like settling into newlywed life with joint bank accounts and matching cellphone plans to help you to the conclusion that you’re kinda like your parents. Add to that a tiny newborn to drag you kicking and screaming into adulthood.

But that’s not spot-on, either. I considered (but clearly not bought into the idea) long before I met Matty and Ollie was born that I had evolved. But changing my last name to reflect a new identity was part of the evolution.

I’d considered the idea that maybe I wouldn’t ever be a parent, but it happened, in a completely unexpected fashion that really threw us for a loop.

And I completely rearranged my life to keep Ollie in it.

Is that when you become a grown-up? Rearranging the things that are important to make room for someone or something else? That subtle change of priorities when you actually leave work on time and exchange your sporty(ish) two-door for a sedan? When you’re introduced to someone who makes you realize that It’s Not All About You anymore?

It’s a combination of everything. But every now and then it hits me. I’m not 16 and la-la-la-ing through life. I dress appropriately for the weather, don’t mind Elton John, feel a buzz after one amaretto sour and eat leftovers. I drink coffee, use coupons and plan meals. I’m in bed by 10 and straighten up the house before turning out the lights. I call the cops on suspicious behavior in my neighborhood. I’ve taken note that the models on the covers of Parenting Magazine are not my mom’s age, but mine.

Now I know how my dad felt when he saw Paul McCartney on the cover of the AARP’s magazine. How can this icon of my generation be on an old-folks publication? he asked in the same way I wonder how someone my age can have a family, a house, a respectable car and vegetables for dinner.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


This just in…

Ollie loves Charlie Daniels.

There is a Geico Insurance commercial, part of their series of “rhetorical questions.” Does Geico car insurance save you money on insurance? Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?

The commercial comes on, he stops what he’s dong to watch. Big smile, undivided attention, toy left abandoned during Charlie’s 30-second solo.

Commercial ends, Ollie cries.

Back it up and give Ollie instant happiness.

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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Uncategorized


This Week in Ollie History…

A year ago, Ollie was living in the NICU of West Allis Memorial Hospital. Plugging his way through growth and eating challenges, occupational therapy, extra oxygen, bradycardias and apneas, hernias. In all, he stayed 84 days.

Going through this time of year, I often think of what we were doing “last year at this time.” As in, “Last year on this day, Ollie weighed two pounds.” When January 20th rolled around, I thought, “last year on this day, he wore clothes for the first time.”

This week in Ollie’s history was a turning point for us. We got lots of great news and big steps forward in his growing.

This week last year, we got the news that his ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) was resolving itself. ROP was a big scare for us, and other preemie parents, since it can lead to blindness. It’s thought that too much extra oxygen before a premature baby’s retinas are fully developed causes scar tissue to develop. In severe cases, the retinas detach from their…retina holders? and laser surgery is used to put it back? Something like that, anyway….Stevie Wonder is blind from ROP. (Did you even know that Stevie Wonder was a preemie? See!? Lots of things learned when you know a micro-preemie!).

We learned two weeks earlier that Ollie was developing scar tissue on his retinas and was diagnosed with Stage One ROP; it could progress worse, or start resolving on its own. Stage Four is the most severe. Jeez, yet another thing to pray about. During this week in Ollie’s history, we learned it was resolving itself. HOORAY! Two weeks later, we would be cleared and only have to have another checkup in a month. (By the way, if you ever have the option of watching a baby eye exam, don’t do it! Look away.)

Even more exciting, this week in Ollie’s history was his movin’ on up from his Isolette(R) incubator to a BIG KID, OPEN AIR, NICU CRIB! Gone were the portholes to maneuver through when getting him dressed! No more was the puzzle of trying to figure out how to change his diaper from the side, rather than positioned at his feet! Finally, I had a mom’s ability to simply pick her child up when he cried.

A GIGANTIC MILESTONE for NICU babies, that switch from incubator to crib. It meant he was one step closer to those big double doors. It was tangible, visible, positive proof that he was getting better. He could maintain his temperature! It happened a little early, actually. He was supposed to weigh 1800 grams (just under 4 pounds) but they evicted him from his Isolette at 1783 grams; I didn’t settle into the idea that he was surely out of his box until a couple days had passed. I didn’t want to sell my wagon in case he wasn’t ready for the car.

Wrapped up tight in footed jammies, knit hat and fleece swaddler, he was our 4 pound Baby Burrito. Snug as a bug, he looked around at his new surroundings and seemed to focus on the things that made the move with him: his pictures of BobCat and Li’l Baby Kitty and me and Matty. Things that seemed to give him comfort as he kicked the tires of his new home.

He didn’t have to go back into the box.

Now that we’re heading into Spring, the memories are getting easier. On his birthday this year, I felt a little blue, given his birthday wasn’t the most wonderful day of my life. In fact, with all its trauma and uncertainty, it was a bit of the opposite. Just remembering the daunting feelings as we just started down the path that was Ollie’s first three months was enough to bring on a melancholy mood.

But now, “Last year this time,” we were rounding second and heading for third and the memories are getting easier to think about. We would still have about a month to go in his NICU stay, but it was a busy month for everyone and it went fast.

He stayed out of the Isolette, we moved back to our window seat, he worked on his suck, swallow & breathe coordinations and had his hearing test. We brought in our carseat so his oxygen levels could be tested while he sat in it…a BIG indicator that your NICU student was soon graduating. We studied our Infant CPR DVD and passed our test, made the first doctor appointment and “roomed in” in the parents’ rooms to make sure we knew what we were doing with him round-the-clock.

Instead of remembering that “today last year, he had a blood transfusion,” I’m remembering that feeling of relief, happiness, delight that he was getting better. Growing bigger. The artificial womb that was his incubator, maintaining his temperature and keeping him isolated was no longer necessary.

It was a great week.

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Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


Lone Star Belt Buckles and Faded Old Levi’s?

We like cowboys. We think they’re cool. Cowboys roping. Cowboys riding. Cowboys in their cool pearly snap shirts sitting around a campfire, eatin’ their jerky…what’s not to like?

But mommas aren’t supposed to encourage this behavior. Just ask Waylon…or Willie.

We recently had a feeding evaluation for the little bugger. Ollie has decided it’s a neat trick to gag and cough when fed anything chunkier than the very smoothest purees. Give him a baby cracker, and he wretches when he bites a bit off. He has thrown up the entire content of his stomach when a Gerber Puff reached the back of his mouth.

Nothing comes easy with this little dude.

So, I called my case worker at Birth to Three and scheduled an evaluation.

We set up shop in the kitchen. She sat and watched as Matty fed him his favorite treat, sweet potatoes. She observed as he picked up a Puff, marveled over his pincer grasp and noticed when he went red and readied for a throw-up.

She didn’t freak out when he gagged, she made him forget about it! She distracted him when he wretched and made him smile, rather than vomit. These people are so knowledgeable.

She left us with some tips on how to get him to eat chunkier foods: Crunch some Puffs into his purees to get him used to a new texture. Give him a carrot to chew on, to let him experience some stronger things in his mouth. Brush his gums to desensitize an over-reactive gag-reflex. REMEMBER THAT HE’S NOT GOING TO CHOKE ON A CRUMB!! Give him a stick of Beef Jerky.


Beef Jerky. Really.

The savory favorite of cowboys at home on the range.

A trip to Pick n’ Save left me confused. What flavor of Beef Jerky will a one year old like? Teriyaki? My instinct tells me that Black Pepper wouldn’t go over well, same for the Hot Red Pepper. hmmm…Sweet and Spicy?

I left empty-handed.

I just can’t wrap my head around feeding my li’l pardner Cowboy Food. What’s next? Pickin’ guitars and drivin’ old trucks? Lone Star Belt Buckles and Faded Old Levi’s? I’m supposed to be encouraging him to be a doctor, or lawyer, or such.

So what do doctors eat?

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Posted by on February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


Dear Oliver, I hate to tell you this….

But you’re sitting.

You don’t realize you’re doing it, but you are. You’re sitting unassisted while you play with your “Starter Laptop,” pushing buttons to make the kitty meow, the boat toot its horn and the airplane fly overhead.

You are sitting.

You are sitting when you play with your stacker, removing the plastic doughnuts from its stem like a pro.

You are sitting.

You are sitting when you lean forward to see what the cat is doing, what that noise is outside (the garbage collectors), to reach your toes or grab for the remote.

You. Are. Sitting. Unassisted.

Why won’t you do it in the middle of the floor?

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Posted by on February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


The SS Oliver

We are fans of storage bins. The plastic ones that store everything from old clothes to Christmas ornaments. They are sturdy, durable, and most importantly (when it comes to basement storage) are tight enough to keep spiders and other creepy crawlies from setting up shop in our storable goods.

Given my long-time love of the storage bin, I wasn’t too surprised to see Ollie’s Occupational Therapist walking up the driveway with one. I assumed she noticed our clutter and was good-heartedly helping us straighten up. She’s done things like this already, noticed something we need and surprising us with a visit with that very item.

De-cluttering was not the trick she had up her sleeve.

Turns out, the storage bin was the latest weapon in her arsenal geared to get Ollie upright.

Ollie spends a couple hours each day in his bin, strengthening his sitting muscles. Its sides are slightly higher than shoulder-height, and the smallish size prevents him from straightening his legs, forcing him to “circle sit” with the bottoms of his feet together. The higher sides give him stability for when he starts to topple, and teaches him that his arms can be used to catch himself.

Ollie’s love-affair with the bin wasn’t as instant as mine, however. His first couple sits proved stressful for him, but once his beloved Puppy blanket was in there with him, it wasn’t so terrible.

In fact, he seems to like it.

We’ve named it the SS Oliver. With a pull-handle-string (actually speaker wire), it also doubles as a Choo-Choo-Train, with him being tugged around the house in a new game.

Whatever works with this kid.

Matty and I commented that we never would have thought that a storage bin would be a helpful tool, and had we thought of it, we certainly wouldn’t have told anyone.

It seems wrong, to mention that Ollie’s hanging out in his storage bin, but you gotta admit, it’s pretty cute.


Posted by on February 3, 2010 in Uncategorized