there should be Crazy Reading Time for grown-ups too

Catie started second grade yesterday. It was weird for me, because I took her to her first day of kindergarten and first grade, but this past weekend was Dave’s weekend with the kids, so he took her to school on Monday morning.

Dave and I had met up with the kids last week for “back to school” night, so we both met her teacher already. He had texted me that he packed Catie’s lunch and walked her inside to make sure she found her classroom, and that she was totally fine when he left.

But even though I knew it was all ok, I just felt uneasy and worried all morning. I didn’t get to give her a hug and a kiss and send her off on her first day of a new school year, and that felt really weird for me. File under, things I’m going to have to get used to. (There’s a lot of those.)

I picked the girls up last night, and Catie didn’t have much to say about her first day (I got the usual, “it was fine” response). I showed her some of the online tools her teacher is using this year, which is new for us – there’s an online reading log where she can add in the books she’s read, and it gives kids little incentives/rewards on the website as they progress. (She chose a dancing lizard as her avatar. Because of course she did.)

Then she said, “You know the cool thing about [her new teacher's name]?” (I’m about 99% sure she never told me that anything her first grade teacher did was cool or fun.)

It turns out that in first grade, when they had their assigned reading time, they had to sit at their desks and read quietly. Her new teacher has what he calls Crazy Reading Time – they can sit under their desks, on top of their desks, on his chair, wherever they want to go in the classroom to get comfortable and read. And you know? I’m going to call anything that gets Catie excited about reading time a HUGE win for us. So, hooray for the new teacher.

Also, one of her tutors is starting her freshman year of college, but asked if she can keep working with Catie after school a couple of days a week. Which is awesome, because Catie loved her and she really seemed to help a lot. She’s starting next week.

So, all good things there.

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Last night, I had to wash the girls’ hair. (We usually wash hair every other night, give or take – sometimes they might go 2 nights if they don’t look greasy, or we might have to do it more frequently if they’ve gotten sweaty/stinky.) On hair wash nights, I bathe them separately because Catie prefers the shower, but Lucy is still scared of the shower. And really, with Catie I basically just stand there and supervise to make sure she rinses all the shampoo out, she does the rest herself. (Ways in which 7 year-olds are awesome.)

Normally during bathtime, I play music on my phone to keep them entertained. I did Lucy’s bath first, and she asked me to play the Frozen soundtrack. Which is pretty normal for us.

Then Catie came in and wanted me to play Lil’ Jon “Turn Down for What.”

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It was just kind of jarring to go from Disney princesses to rap/dance music. And struck me as funny that there’s a huge difference in those 4 1/2 years between them.

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Another random music thing: we were in the car and Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” came on the radio.

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There’s a line in the chorus where she says, “I have loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more.”

From the backseat, Catie says, “That’s two thousand years, that’s a pretty long time.”

Ok, my little nerd. Way to take a romantic metaphor and turn it into a math equation.
Catie opted for the neon green shades.

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This morning, I went to give Lucy a kiss, and she wiped it off, and said, “Mommy! You have on lipstick!”

I hadn’t even gotten dressed yet, so I certainly didn’t, but I realized that it was my coffee breath that offended her. I laughed, said sorry, and kissed her again. She said, “STOP IT! I no like yucky kisses!”

Which of course led to me kissing her all over her arms and belly just to tease her and make her laugh.

It was her sister's eye doctor appointment, but she got a new pair of sunglasses anyway.

Sorry, little girl. I’m pretty much never going to stop kissing you.

(Also, very grateful that Chris never tells me that my kisses are yucky. Although I guess I do normally brush my teeth or at least pop a mint or something before I kiss him.)

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Thinking of dental hygiene: I took the kids to the dentist last week, and was texting Dave afterward to fill him in on what they recommended for the girls. It ended up with me making a completely filthy “spit versus swallow” joke and I realized that we really are pretty amicable with each other now. Which is definitely a good thing.

Or it could just be that I have the sense of humor of a 12 year-old boy sometimes. Either or, really.

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Ok! That’s probably enough random non-sequiturs for today, yes? Yes.

beach weekend

This past Saturday morning, we (my parents, the kids, and me) loaded up my mom’s mini-van, and drove out to Wilmington, to go to to the beach.

Headed for the beach. The pillow serves a dual purpose: breaking up fights, and car naps.

My brother and his girlfriend Mandy drove over from Charlotte to meet up with us, and Chris and his son also came. (His daughter is out of state visiting her aunt.)

waiting for the waves to come to her

Catie and Chris’s son are the same age – they’re both about to start 2nd grade – and they play really well together.

Catie playing on the beach with Chris's son

Last year, Lucy was terrified of the ocean and wouldn’t even put a toe in the water. There’s a big difference between age two and three, though, because this year, she loved it.

Favorite pic from today: Lucy in the ocean with my parents. This is the first time she hasn't been scared of the beach.

I mean, that face, COME ON.

Lucy loving the beach

We were at the beach for over four hours, straight through Lucy’s naptime. She was having so much fun, but eventually she got tired and grumpy, and fell asleep on Chris’s shoulder. We set up a spot so she could have a little beach nap.

Beached.

Eventually, we headed back to our hotel, cleaned up, and went to dinner. Chris and his son headed back to Raleigh (he had to have him back to his mom early on Sunday morning), and the rest of us crashed at the hotel.

worn out in the hotel after the beach

The next morning, we met up with my brother and his girlfriend for breakfast, before we headed home. (Mmmm, Cracker Barrel…)

I had sort of a surreal moment later when I saw these two pictures, side by side.

Same beach, same swimsuit. Two girls, 4 years apart

Catie in 2010, Lucy in 2014. Same beach. Same swimsuit. Two different kids, four years apart.

It’s funny because I don’t normally think Catie and Lucy look alike all that much, but then I see them like this, and it sort of hits me that whoa, yeah. They really are siblings.

I guess an overnight road trip doesn’t really count as a vacation, but it’s probably as close as I’m going to get to one this summer. And it was great, so I have no complaints. I know the kids wanted to stay longer. Funny thing is, this was the first year that I really wanted to stay longer too. Normally after an hour or so at the beach, I’m all, “Ok, I’m done.” This was the first time that both kids were having fun, and I was able to just relax and enjoy it. Hopefully, next time, we’ll be able to swing at least a two- or three-night stay.

I’ve also promised my mom a trip to the mountains at some point (maybe in the fall, or for her birthday). She’s never been, and I know the kids would love that too. It’s one of the many great things about where we live in NC – you can drive a couple of hours in either direction and be either at the ocean or in the mountains. It makes vacations a lot more accessible when they’re within a reasonable driving distance.

Now, if I can just clean up all the sand we brought home with us…

July 21, 2014Permalink 1 Comment

nothing to see here, folks

It’s never a good idea to sit down and try to write a blog post when you don’t have anything specific in mind that you want to say, but I kinda just want to move that other post down the page a bit.

So! Let’s move on, shall we?

Hey, mind if I complain about my week?

Monday, the kids and I went to my parents’ house for dinner (as we often do, since they live a little over a mile away and they love their grandkid time). At some point, Catie went to use the bathroom. Then I heard her start crying and calling for me.

Turns out, she had a UTI. My parents kept Lucy while I took her to Urgent Care.

That kind of threw the whole evening off. We went to Urgent Care, got a prescription for antibiotics, went to Rite Aid to get it filled, went back to my parents’ house to pick up Lucy, then headed home. It was after the kids’ bedtime already when we got home, and I still had to bathe them and do the whole bedtime routine.

It was somewhere in that frantic bedtime rush that I realized everything in my freezer had melted, and everything in the fridge was cool-ish but not cold.

There are times that I miss being a homeowner. Like, I hate the wallpaper in my dining room-turned-office (it’s a floral pattern that I think is ugly), and I wish I could rip it down and paint the walls a soft, neutral color. But on the other hand, there are times like this, when a major appliance breaks, and I don’t have to pay to fix it, and I thank my lucky stars that we rent this house.

My landlord has a website where we can file maintenance requests, and they’re pretty prompt about responding to them. An appliance repair guy came out the next day to look at the fridge, decided it was too old to bother fixing, and TA-DA! I’m getting a new fridge. Which is awesome.

(Except for the part where it’s now Thursday and I still don’t have a new fridge yet, and I’ve lost a ridiculous amount of money on all the food I’ve had to throw away. Hopefully it’s getting delivered today.)

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Complete topic jump: yesterday I took both kids to get haircuts. Catie was way overdue, her hair was the longest it’s ever been in her life. At first, she said she wanted her hair cut short, so she wouldn’t need a ponytail every day (it’s HOT in the South, you don’t want all that hair on the back of your neck if you’re a little kid who likes to play outside). Then she changed her mind and decided she didn’t want it that short after all.

Catie before & after her haircut

My hairdresser, Kim, took off over 3 inches, and it’s still plenty long enough to put in a ponytail.

(I know Catie will probably hate these pictures of herself someday, because I hate all the pictures of me with gap teeth when I was her age, but man, I do love that awkward little smile of hers.)

Lucy waited patiently for her turn to get a haircut.

Waiting her turn at the hair salon. (Catie is getting her haircut first.)

Thank God for iPads, man.

Then she sat in the chair like a big girl for her haircut. (Kim had some cushions to boost her up so she wouldn’t need to sit in my lap.)

Lucy during and after her haircut

So, three year-olds are basically grown-ups, huh? Weird.

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Another complete topic jump: Chris and I have marathon’ed a lot of shows over the past year or so. We’ve watched Breaking Bad, Homeland, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Masters of Sex, and probably something else I’m forgetting. We’ll watch one or two episodes a night, and work our way through them.

Last night, we watched the first episode of the first season of The Walking Dead.

Y’all, I am… not at all sure that I will be able to handle watching that show.

If you’d like to leave me a suggestion for something good that won’t scare the crap out of me, please do. (And keep in mind it has to work for both of us. Like, I can’t watch Game of Thrones because I can’t handle that much torture/violence. And we can’t do girly shows like Veronica Mars, because, no.)

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So, you know, everything is fine. Catie is feeling better (Bactrim is good stuff), and I’m making some fun plans for this weekend while the kids are with me. We’re all good here.

Now if I can just get that fridge delivered…

July 17, 2014Permalink 6 Comments

you shouldn’t poke bears with a stick, but that never stopped me

I mentioned this a while back, but it’s kind of an odd position to find yourself in, when you know someone who actively dislikes you reads everything that you write on your blog. I mean, I guess it happens to popular bloggers a lot, but that’s not me, and this is not a random Internet troll, this is someone who is connected to my real life. Well, distantly connected. We’ve never met, but this person is related to people I know and love.

(If you know me in real life, you probably know who I’m talking about. See also: this is why I keep my Twitter account locked.)

zip_lip

I find that I censor myself a lot more now. Which is fine. Even at my most overshare-y, my blog probably only represented maybe 5% of my life. The only difference is that now I’m just more selective about which 5% I share.

Other times, I find that I’ll write something deliberately, in a way that reads as harmless to everyone else, but I know will provoke this person. I figure it serves him/her right for reading my blog in the first place.

There’s a weird kind of entertainment value in that, writing something and then waiting to see how long before this person sends an outraged text message referencing something I wrote here.

arrested-development-lucille-sure

Those outraged texts never take long. I think chronically angry people are always looking for something to justify their venom.

So, you know? Since this person is going to read my blog anyway, I figure I might as well use this little platform of mine to clear up a few things.

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My breast implants are saline, not silicone. If you’re going to make disparaging remarks about my body, you should at least get the terminology right.

If you’re saying it because you think I’m supposed to be ashamed of myself for admitting that I had a part of my body surgically enhanced because I wanted to feel more comfortable in my own skin?

haha_no

Nope. Not even a little. My new boobs are freaking awesome.

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Quick fact check:

* Chris and his ex separated in September 2011.

* He and I met in March 2012, a full 6 months later.

I don’t think the term “home-wrecker” can be applied to me, since that home was pretty thoroughly wrecked long before I ever showed up on the scene.

homewrecker
Pictured above: not me. (Bummer, I know.)

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If you are the type of divorced parent who thinks it’s acceptable to say negative things about your ex-spouse in front of your kids? I think you are a horrible person who should have your parental rights revoked.

leslie_knope_angry

That shit is unforgivable.

Look, divorce is hard on all of us, especially when kids are involved. Vent to your friends, or to a therapist. Common decency should tell you to leave the kids out of it.

Because no matter that you say you don’t involve the kids? When the kids themselves repeat something you said, it’s proof that you’re both a liar and a bad parent to boot.

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If you want to mock the name PooBou, which is a nickname from over 20 years ago?

Whatever, dude. Be my guest.

sound_of_music_no_fucks

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I’ve said it before, but since some people seem to think I have an agenda, I’ll say it again:

I do not care if I ever get married again. At all. It’s not on my to-do list.

And it’s funny, because a couple of my friends have gotten engaged recently, and I am so excited and happy for them, truly. But at the same time, there’s not one iota of me that’s jealous.

My commitment to Chris – and his commitment to me – is the same as if we were married, but I have no need for that piece of paper to certify it. It just doesn’t matter to me.

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One of the best things about my relationship with Chris is that we don’t interfere in our other relationships. He doesn’t tell me how to raise my kids or how I should interact with Dave, and I do likewise for him. Sure, we talk about things, and we might ask for the other person’s opinion, but neither of us dictates to the other how we should act with our families and friends.

I do my own thing, he does his own thing. We love each other and don’t try to change the other person.

awesome_keep_it_up
Maybe not a verbatim transcript of our conversations, but the gist is there.

I think that’s called mutual respect. It’s pretty great.

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Finally, there’s this.

dont_ruin_happiness

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I guess that about sums it up. Now I’ll kick back and wait to see how long it takes before those outraged text messages start popping up….

I hate the word staycation but I guess that’s what it is

We’re about halfway through our month-long summer break, and it’s been really nice so far. Catie loves the track-out program at our daycare. They have field trips every day, plus she’s known most of the other kids since she was in pre-K, and they’re all friends.

I’ve been trying to make sure we do as much “get out and have fun” stuff as possible, when I’m not working. Like, we’ll go to Goodberry’s in the evenings after dinner, and the kids will run around and play chase behind the building.

Girls playing at Goodberry's
Frozen custard plus playtime to burn off the sugar rush. Perfection.

We’ve been to the pool so many times that, despite my rigorous efforts at constantly slathering on sunscreen, both girls now have swimsuit tan lines. I never seem to get pictures at the pool because I’m always in the water with them (I have this fear about iPhone + water), but that’s been a lot of fun. Lucy started off this summer so cautious about the water that I couldn’t coax her off the steps into to the kiddie pool, and by last week, she was counting to three and then leaping off the edge of the pool into my arms.

The fourth of July was a lot of fun. We went to my cousin’s house so the kids could play, and we grilled hot dogs and made s’mores over the fire pit in their backyard.

Catie & Elizabeth. 7 year-old cousins. Keeping a safe distance from the fire pit while we cooked hot dogs.
Catie and her cousin Elizabeth keeping an eye on their hot dogs from a safe distance.

Then we went to watch fireworks, and Lucy found a pretty comfy spot for watching them.

Lucy found a pretty sweet spot for watching fireworks.
She got excited every time she saw pink fireworks. “Pink! It’s my favorite color!” Yes, my little girly-girl, we know.

We’ve also made time for playing at Mimi and Pop-Pop’s house.

Love watching my girls play with the Fisher Price little people toys that were mine when I was little.
I love watching them play with toys that were mine when I was little. My sister, brother, and I played with the Fisher Price little people all the time.

And taking silly selfies.

Happy Lucy face. (And a mommy photobomb.)
That face, I swear.

And, when the kids have been with their dad, Chris and I have had some occasional date nights here and there.

Sunday date night. (Girls with their dad this weekend.)
Just… happy.

So, ok, maybe it’s not a trip to Disney World or a cruise or anything like that. It’s been a pretty nice little stay-at-home vacation regardless.

July 14, 2014Permalink 2 Comments

when birth control isn’t for birth control

WARNING: This post is long and rambly, and there is discussion of lady parts and sex and birth control ahead. Dad, you should just go ahead and click that little red X in the top-right corner now.

(I’m kidding. My dad knows my blog exists, but he’s read it a grand total of once, when I wrote Catie’s birth story. He said, “That was more than I wanted to know.” And he hasn’t read it since. Fair enough, Pop.)

I don’t normally talk about politics here, but my blog is my place where I sort of dump out the stuff that’s rattling around in my brain, and I admit that this whole Supreme Court Hobby Lobby thing has been taking up a lot of my brain space lately.

So, here’s my take on it, and I’m sorry this includes personal anecdotes and backstory.

After Lucy was born, my cycles were a mess. My understanding is that this is common after you have a baby, especially a second (or third or fourth) baby. I had debilitating cramps, my mood swings were crazy to the point of borderline-psychotic, and my period lasted for well over a week. It was awful.

I went to my OB/GYN to talk about my options. She said the best solution for the problems I was experiencing would be to get on one of the hormonal methods of birth control, because that generally alleviates all of these symptoms. It didn’t matter that my marriage had just broken up a couple months prior, and I was in no way even remotely sexually active, nor did I have any need whatsoever for contraceptives. Birth control was the best solution.

After going through the list, she suggested the Mirena IUD. There’s a long list of reasons why (I have digestive issues that rule out taking an oral birth control pill, I’m allergic to the adhesive in the patch, etc.), and honestly, I had a Mirena IUD between Catie and Lucy, and I liked it. So that seemed like an easy pick.

Three years later, I still don’t need my IUD as a method of contraception. I’m in a committed relationship with a man who’s had a vasectomy. I have no need for birth control, per se. And yet, I love my Mirena IUD. My cycles are super-light (I spot for a couple of days, that’s it), I have no cramps, and I might be slightly more irritable, but it’s miles better than it used to be.

And this is where the Hobby Lobby thing gets me. They don’t want to cover the IUD because they say it’s an abortifacent. And I say bullshit. Yes, in theory, it can keep a fertilized egg from implanting. But there are also women who use it for the same reason that I do, for their basic general health. Either way, it’s not my employer’s business why I have an IUD. My doctor shouldn’t need to clear it with my boss to treat me.

And really, we can argue all day whether or not “keeping a fertilized egg from implanting” counts as abortion, since that’s also the same thing that Plan B does (aka the morning-after pill, the OTHER thing Hobby Lobby now won’t cover for their employees). Personally, I say that until it has a heartbeat, it’s just a cluster of cells, not a human life. A cluster of cells with potential, sure, but it’s not the same as an actual fetus. (Also, people who confuse Plan B with RU-486/the “abortion pill” – please do your research, those are two very different things.)

Aside on Plan B: back in the 90s, a friend of mine was raped, and the next day we went to a clinic and got Plan B for her. Maybe there was a fertilized egg there, maybe there wasn’t, but in the wake of a really horrific trauma, it was reassuring for her to know that at least she didn’t have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy on top of all of the other emotional repercussions she had been dealt. I’m really glad that it exists for situations like that.

Back to the point about “birth control when it’s not a contraceptive” (man, I have a lot of thoughts on this one), my situation isn’t unique. There are a couple of million women in the U.S. who use hormonal birth control for reasons completely unrelated to contraception.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve heard a few recurring statements from the people who support the Hobby Lobby decision.

1. The female employees can pay for their birth control themselves.

The average IUD costs $900-1000. For most people who work in retail – even at a company like Hobby Lobby, which tends to pay their employees higher than minimum wage – that’s still a pretty sizable chunk of change. I’m not sure many people can afford that.

2. Small businesses should be able to do what they want without government interference.

To a point, I agree. But if government never interfered in private businesses, lunch counters in my home state of Mississippi would still be segregated. Government regulation is sometimes necessary in our society. It’s just a fact of life.

(If you happen to be one of the people who think the Civil Rights Act was a mistake, just… look, we’re never going to see eye to eye on anything, so don’t bother.)

3. If the employees don’t like it, they can just go work somewhere else.

Well, ok, I guess that’s legit. But this case sets a precedent for the 50 or so other pending lawsuits from corporations who don’t want to provide contraceptives to their female employees. What if you work in a specialized field, and the only place you can find employment is with a company that’s run by Catholics who object to covering all contraceptives? The Supreme Court basically just made that scenario possible.

It’s interesting to me that the people who see this as a victory for freedom of religion are the same people who would decry this decision if it went in favor of any religion other than Christianity. Say, for example, there was a company run by Muslims and they say that all of their female employees must wear a hijab. I mean, they’re just exercising their freedom of religion and if the female employees don’t like it, they’re free to go work somewhere else, right?

But if that were the case, do you think Sean Hannity and those people would be cheering this as a win for freedom of religion in this country? I find that pretty doubtful.

And look, I know I’m pretty far left politically, so this decision was bound to piss me off. And I’ve been talking about this issue with some of my friends who agree with the decision, and I’m proud of us for staying polite in our discussion on this, even when we completely disagree.

I guess what it comes down to, for me, is that I’m more pro-choice now than I was before I had kids. I’ve experienced firsthand how hard being a parent is, and I realize that not everyone might be cut out for it. It’s extraordinarily hard to be a good parent, and it’s all too easy to be a shitty one.

But rather than abortions – which, honestly, nobody wants, even the most pro-choice among us – what would be ideal is if all women had access to all of the family planning tools that they needed. The easier we as a society make it for women to get contraception, the lower the abortion rate gets. And wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where every pregnancy was wanted?

As for Hobby Lobby, here, go watch John Oliver sum this up. He’s a lot funnier than I am.

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the return of asthma and crappy teachers

So, this post that I wrote a couple of months ago about how Catie seems to have outgrown her asthma? Let’s just go ahead and redact that whole thing.

Since we took Catie off her daily inhaler several weeks ago, I noticed she was coughing a lot. I figured it was just sinus drainage stuff, she uses a prescription nasal spray for that sometimes. Rather than worry, I made sure Dave had an extra bottle of her nasal spray at his place so we could make sure she got it every night. I figured it was likely related to allergies and would eventually pass.

Dave mentioned last week that her cough seemed worse, and I noticed it when she was at home.

It was Dave’s weekend to have the kids, but Catie got invited to a birthday party, and the kids’ social outings tend to fall more under my umbrella. I picked her up and we went to the birthday party. (We didn’t want Lucy to feel left out, so I took her to my parents’ house while Catie and I went to the party. Getting to have her grandparents all to herself is a special treat, so she was happy with that. I pulled up in the driveway, got Lucy out of her car seat, she ran up to the house, and as soon as she saw my mom, she turned around and said, “Bye, Mommy!” Like, see ya later, dude, I’m good now.)

The birthday party was at a bounce house, and Catie had a great time jumping around with her friends.

By the time the kids were supposed to stop and have cake, Catie was coughing a lot. She didn’t want to sit down with the other kids, she was clinging to me and telling me she didn’t feel good. I got her a bottle of water, and she eventually sat while everyone sang happy birthday and ate cake, then she was back by my side.

The other kids went back to play on the bounce houses again. Catie said, “Mommy, I can’t breathe. I wanna go home.”

That set off some internal alarm in my head, and we said goodbye to the birthday girl, thanked the parents for inviting us, and got out of there. I took her home and set her up with albuterol in the nebulizer, and she was fine after a few minutes of a breathing treatment.

She went back to Dave’s for the rest of the weekend, but we’ve been texting, and her cough is still pretty rough, and she’s needed the inhaler several times. (Dave has asthma too, so he typically recognizes the symptoms faster than I do.) I called the pediatrician’s office this morning to make sure this is all documented in her chart, and to have them call in more refills of her inhaler.

So, it looks like she hasn’t outgrown her asthma after all, and that it really was her daily inhaler that was keeping her asymptomatic all this time. And hey, if that’s all she needs to manage her asthma, that’s fine, we can totally handle that.

It’s not the end of the world by any means. It sucks, but she’ll be fine.

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On a completely unrelated note: I ended up talking with a couple of the other parents from Catie’s class at the birthday party, and it turns out that we weren’t the only ones who had a bad year in first grade and who didn’t care for the teacher. It was reassuring to know that it wasn’t just us, and that other parents and their kids struggled in the exact same way that we did. I mean, it sucks for all of the kids who had a rough school year – and it’s heartbreaking to hear kids say they hate school when they’re only in first grade. But it reinforces my theory that the issue really was more with the teacher than with Catie, since our experience was not unique.

I’ve already emailed Catie’s second grade teacher and told him about some of our struggles this past year, and the challenges that Catie has been dealing with. I figure it’s good to make him an ally from the get-go. His reply was very nice, and I’m feeling optimistic that we might be able to turn this around for her.

Fingers crossed.

June 30, 2014Permalink