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.


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.

first grade is in the books

Today is Catie’s last day of first grade.

first and last days of first grade
The obligatory “first and last day” pictures to show how much she’s grown this past year. Which, WOW. I now understand how I’ve spent a small fortune on new pants and shoes for this child.

This school year has been really hard on Catie. I don’t think she and her teacher ever quite “clicked.” (To be honest, I never quite clicked with her either, which I thought was maybe because I was misreading her or something, until Dave mentioned that he didn’t much like her either, and then I felt better about it.) And it’s not that she’s a bad teacher, just a different personality type. And her teacher had a lot of health problems (of course, not her fault at all), so they had different substitute teachers filling in a good portion of the year, which caused even more upheaval.

Combine that with the fact that none of her friends from kindergarten were in her first grade class, because we changed her from track 1 to track 4 (it’s a different year-round school calendar, and track 4 worked a lot better for our family as far as vacations and time off). So she had to make new friends from scratch, which was tough, but she did.

It’s been challenging, and she’s gotten very sullen about the idea of school. She says that she hates school and doesn’t want to go. Which makes me sad for her, because I remember that I loved school when I was her age. (I didn’t start to hate school until I had a really horrible teacher in 4th grade. After that, I was fine until I was a teenager, when I pretty much hated everything.)

I mean, if I’m being totally honest here? The pet bearded dragon was more of a reward for her surviving this past school year than anything else. I didn’t phrase it to her that way, but that’s how it felt to me. “Ok, you did it, here’s this thing that you’ve been wanting since you were five years old.”

Because it’s a year-round school, her summer vacation is basically just the month of July. Which seems horribly unfair at first glance, until you remember the 3-week breaks in the fall and spring, and the 5-week break at Christmas. I’m a big fan of year-round school. She doesn’t have time to get into the “whiny mode” of summer vacation where she complains about being bored. It’s 4 weeks and then it’s done. And those intermittent breaks throughout the year are really nice.

I was hoping that she’d get a teacher for second grade that would get her “spark” back, and get her excited about learning new things. I found out that her teacher next year is going to be a young, male teacher. He just got his degree in 2013 and he’s only been teaching one year. I’m hoping this will be the “reset” button that Catie needs. My guess is that a younger teacher is more likely to be enthusiastic and get the kids’ interest, and my hope is that a guy will be more accepting of Catie not being a traditional girly-girl type. Not that that was the main problem with Catie’s first grade teacher, but I think that was at least part of the issue, that she didn’t fit neatly into a mold.

I read the introduction letter that her new teacher sent home to Catie, and she seems to be (almost?) excited about being in his class. I hope it stays that way. We really need a reset button after this past year she’s had.

So! First grade is in the books, and I’m thankful we’re done with it.


Meanwhile, today is Lucy’s first time having “water play day” at daycare, and she was so excited about wearing her swimsuit to school that when I took Catie’s “last day of school” picture, she wanted me to take her picture too. Naturally, I obliged.

Lucy's daycare class is having "water play" today. She was so excited about wearing her swimsuit to school, she wanted her pic taken too.

That picture makes me laugh every time I see it. The joy on her face is contagious.

(Side note: I’ll have to keep a spare swimsuit and towel in my car for the rest of the summer, because you know that I will never remember Water Play Fridays from now until the end of August.)


Lucy is also starting 3 year-old pre-K in July. Which isn’t a big thing on her end, she isn’t even changing classrooms, it’s just a different curriculum. But still.

Milestones, y’all. Milestones all over the place.

welcome home, Spyro Jones

Back when my cat Teenie died a couple of years ago, Catie was devastated, and I ended up getting her some fish as a consolation pet. The 3 glowfish died shortly after we got them, then we got a betta fish, which lived for about a year and a half.

Catie still sometimes cries that she misses Teenie. It’s usually because she’s upset about something else, and Teenie becomes the placeholder for whatever it is that’s making her feel sad. But it’s obvious that cat took up a pretty big space in her heart.

I think Catie figured out quickly that the fish were not a good substitute pet for a cat. Since she’s been obsessed with dinosaurs since she could talk, she started asking for a reptile. She had her heart set on getting either a snake or a lizard.

I held off as long as I could, but it’s been over two years that she’s been wanting a pet reptile, and her interest hasn’t waned yet. She’d regularly bring home books from the library about lizards and other reptiles, and talk about, “someday, when I have one…”

About a month ago, I gave up the fight. We started researching different options. From everything I read, it seemed like bearded dragons were the considered the best pet as a “starter reptile.”

We went to PetSmart. They had a baby bearded dragon at the store, but since I was planning to get a terrarium off craigslist (because that stuff is expensive to buy new), we weren’t able to take him home that day.

But, they let Catie hold him, and she pretty much instantly fell in love with him.

Later that afternoon, at my parents’ house, she drew a picture of her experience. Note that Lucy is pretty indifferent about the whole lizard concept.

Today, we went to Petsmart & held a baby bearded dragon. This is Catie's artist's rendering of the experience. I'm on the left, pet store guy on the right. Note Lucy looks less than thrilled about the whole thing.

I found a used terrarium setup yesterday. We went back to PetSmart and bought the baby bearded dragon.

Welcome to our family, Spyro Jones. (That's what Catie has named our bearded dragon. He enjoyed the bathtub while we set up his terrarium.)

Catie named him Spyro Jones. Spyro is for her favorite Skylander character — he’s a dragon, so I guess the name is fitting for a bearded dragon. And Jones is for Martha Jones, her favorite of Doctor Who’s companions. (I take no credit for turning her into a Doctor Who fangirl. That is entirely her dad’s influence.)

She is completely smitten with the little guy. Last night, she couldn’t bring herself to go to bed because she didn’t want to stop watching him.

It's way past her bedtime but she can't stop staring at her new buddy. I think this is true love.

This morning, she woke up with pink eye, so I kept her home from school. (We’ve all had it in the past month. We went to the doctor and got some eye drops, she’ll be fine in a couple days.) If I didn’t know better, I’d think she planned getting sick so she could stay home with her new lizard.

Catie hanging with Spyro Jones this morning. She is so happy.

It’s a weird thing, I have no big love of reptiles, and I am grossed out that I have a container of live crickets in my house that I need to feed him.

But at the same time, I have to admit that I’m developing a weird affection for this little lizard too, simply because he makes my Catie so happy. And really, what more can I want for my kids than that?

after the ballooning

Things I’ve learned about sinus surgery/balloon sinuplasty and other random thoughts from yesterday:


1. You have no idea just how far back your sinus cavities go until a nurse packs your nose with numbing gauze. Chris and I took one look at the nurse’s supply tray and we were both like, “yeah, that’s not going all the way in there.” (Insert a “that’s what she said” joke here.) But it did. Equal parts fascinating and horrifying.

The doctor’s office was late getting started and we did a lot of sitting and waiting. At one point, Chris threatened to take a picture of me with my nose packed with gauze, IV in my hand, playing Candy Crush on my phone. I think the glare I gave him convinced him otherwise.


2. I’ve gotten used to people assuming that Chris and I are married. I figure that when you’re of a certain age (like we are), and you’re obviously a couple, people just assume that you’re married. Especially if we’re out with the kids, it looks like we’re a little family unit. And that’s fine, I don’t really care what other people think. Hell, I’ve taken my kids out to do stuff with my brother Chris, and people assume he’s their dad. Until my girls address him as “Uncle Chris,” and they probably put it together. But again: I don’t care, it’s not really on my radar to worry about how other people perceive my marital status.

But I have to say, it’s kind of jarring when people call Chris my husband. It happened a few times yesterday, nurses called him that. Like, “your husband is in the waiting room,” that kind of thing. And my brain goes, “Wait, what? I don’t have a hus- ohhhh right nevermind.” I didn’t bother to correct them, because really, they’re just doing their job, and they don’t care about my relationship status. Still, it throws me a little.

Like a couple of times when we’ve gone out to eat, and Chris paid with his debit card, and the waiter has come back with the check and said, “Thanks for coming out tonight, Mr. and Mrs. [Chris’s last name].” It’s happened in reverse, too, when I paid with my card, and the waiter called him Mr. Wilkinson. It’s just… strange.

Point being: wedding rings, y’all. Check for them.


3. The anesthesiology nurse warned me that it stings when the sleepy meds start to drip into my hand from the IV. I said, “oh yeah, I see what you mean,” and then I don’t remember anything after that. No counting down from 100, it was just lights out.

[Side note: that same nurse told me afterward that during the last part of the surgery, my heart rate went way up and I started to thrash around. I really wish she hadn’t told me that. I kind of wanted to keep the vision that I was just peacefully asleep for the whole thing. Knowing that my unconscious self was able to register pain and react to it is probably the kind of thing that will give me nightmares.]


4. The next thing I remember was being in a wheelchair in the recovery room, crying and bleeding all over Chris. I must’ve woken up earlier, because they got me from the bed to the wheelchair after I was awake, but I don’t remember that part. And Chris said he heard me asking for him as he was walking down the hall to the recovery room, so again, I was obviously sort of conscious, but I don’t remember that at all. I just remember that my whole head hurt like hell and I couldn’t breathe. And I hate crying in front of strangers (like the medical staff who were in the room with me), but what can you do? That happened.

The ride home was pretty miserable. I moaned and whimpered the whole way.


5. Percocet is a wonderful thing. Chris helped me get settled in bed (2 pillows to keep my head elevated, towels on top of the pillowcase in case I bled everywhere, bottle of Gatorade on the nightstand in case I got thirsty), and I slept in a lovely, comfortable, narcotic haze for a few hours.

When I woke up, we had dinner, lay on the couch, and watched TV. I cut the Percocet into one-fourths so I could space them out, keep myself pain-free, and not be completely loopy and stoned. It worked pretty well.


6. Trying to sleep the first night after sinus surgery is pretty awful. I can’t breathe through my nose (nor am I allowed to blow my nose), so I woke up pretty much hourly. Not fun.


7. The tools they used in the surgery shaved several layers of skin off the tip of my nose, and it’s now starting to blister. This is decidedly not awesome. I’m keeping Bacitracin ointment on it.


8. On the upside, I’m 24 hours post-op and I’m not in any real pain at all, just general discomfort (like when you’re congested with a bad cold). I’ve switched to regular Tylenol, so that’s not so bad. I just wish I could breathe normally.


I guess time will tell if this was all worth it. If it means that I get less frequent headaches, and I stop getting sinus infections that require antibiotics every couple of months, then it definitely will have been worthwhile. Just have to wait and see, I guess.

sticking a balloon up your nose sounds like a really bad idea

A couple of years ago, I started seeing an Ear Nose & Throat doctor for some recurring sinus issues I was having. He recommended that I get sinus surgery, but the recovery time was at least two weeks. And he told me this when Lucy was a baby and I was a full-time single mom of two kids. So I basically balked at the idea.

I saw my doctor again a couple of months ago, and he told me about a new procedure called balloon sinuplasty, which is basically the same concept (taking a Roto Rooter to your nasal passages), but less invasive and the recovery time is minimal. And it turns out my insurance covers it, too.

So I’m having it done later this week. The kids will be with Dave for a couple of nights while I sleep off the anesthesia and recuperate. I’m not anticipating any issues, but you know, when you throw the word “surgery” around, things start to sound kind of scary. Good thoughts welcome.


The kids spent this past weekend with Dave. It occurred to me that this might have been the first time he got to be with both kids on Father’s Day in Lucy’s lifetime.

Actually, I guess that’s not true, because he was here in 2011 when she was two weeks old. But the vast majority of 2011 is kind of a blur for me. It’s weird when people tell me about something I said or did around the time Lucy was born and I have no recollection of it. (My dad mentioned something about painting Lucy’s nursery pink. I was like, “no, I never painted anything in that house.” Then I remembered that oh yeah, I did. Or maybe Dave painted it and I just decorated it with vinyl wall stickers afterward? I honestly can’t remember.) Everything from that time frame is fuzzy, like something that happened in a dream.

Anyway, the girls got to spend Father’s Day with him this year, and that’s a good thing. Lucy’s daycare class all made some kind of art project for their respective dads, and Catie made him a dragon, since she made me one for Mother’s Day and I guess felt like she needed to be fair.

"I knew Mother's Day was coming up, so I made you this dragon." I swear, 7 is my favorite age yet.

I know I’m not objective, but I do really like her dragons.

I don’t say much about Dave here, because I generally think it isn’t appropriate. But I will say that it’s been really great having him actively involved in the kids’ lives these past several months. I think it’s been good for all of us.


I miss blogging. It’s hard because lately I feel so scrutinized. I know a couple of people are reading here, looking for any tiny detail they can use against me or Chris.

What’s the expression, it’s not paranoia if people really are out to get you? That. It seems there are some people whose entire existence is based on trying to suck the happiness out of others’ lives. Joy thieves really suck to have around.

Hopefully, this too shall pass, and eventually I won’t feel quite so censored. But for now, I have to use the “mute” button pretty heavily on a lot of my life, and I hate it.

Lucy’s 3rd birthday recap

When I asked Lucy what kind of birthday cake she wanted, she said, “Princess cake!”

Ask and ye shall receive, baby.

Lucy asked for a princess cake. So that happened.
I got some comments on FB that seem to imply people think I made this cake. I did not. I have spectacularly awful baking skills. This is one of those grocery store “fill out the form with the code number for which character-branded cake you want, and what you want it to say.” Boom, done. Princess cake acquired.

I tend to think that 3 is not an age for a big birthday party, since kids that age are too young to remember it. So we kept it small and low-key: Catie and Lucy, plus my cousin’s kids, plus Chris’s kids, added up to 6 kids, and with family visiting (my sister flew in from Texas, and my brother and his girlfriend came over from Charlotte), we had 9 adults.

Since 15 people in my house seemed like an awful lot, we used my neighborhood’s clubhouse, which was perfect, because it’s a nice big space with a lot of seating, and a playground right next to it for the kids to run around.

I got veggies, chips/dip, fruit, stuff to make sandwiches, and a couple of pizzas, and all of the grown-ups ate and talked while the kids were in and out. It was really nice.

I wasn’t really paying attention to the time, and it had been over 2 hours before I realized we should do cake and presents. By that time, Lucy was already kind of tired and not at all sure about this whole “singing happy birthday” thing.

not at all sure about this birthday business
That’s her “what is all this shenanigans?” face.

We started to open presents, but by that point, she was doing the thousand yard stare, and it was pretty rapidly apparent that girlfriend needed a nap. So my parents took her with them to their house, where she promptly crashed, while the big kids continued to play outside, and the grown-ups cleaned up the clubhouse.

One random moment from that – Chris’s daughter accidentally let go of her balloon in the clubhouse, which has ridiculously tall vaulted ceilings. Since we were supposed to leave it clean, we didn’t want to leave a stray balloon behind. It became very Walter White and the fly in trying to figure out how we were going to get the balloon down.

My cousin’s husband and Chris together somehow devised a Swiffer tied to a broom with an extension cord to try to catch it, but that didn’t work. Finally, we got out the vacuum, Chris stood on a barstool while Tony held the vacuum up in the air, and it was juuuuust tall enough to reach.

Balloon escaped into the vaulted ceiling. Engineer/scientist brains figured out barstool + vacuum extension hose to get it down.
Balloon rescue success!

After we finished cleaning up, my cousin and her family took off, Chris and his kids took off, and my sister and I took Catie over to my parents’ house. We found Lucy still asleep.

Birthday'ed out.

When she woke up, she opened the rest of her presents, which was much more enthusiastic since she was more perky after her nap.

She got a set of Frozen action figures, which she loved.
Lucy got a set of Frozen action figures for her birthday

My mom, because she knows my girls, had the foresight to get Catie her own set, so they wouldn’t fight over them.

Catie liked her set of Frozen figures too

(They’re these, for those of you who are curious. They cost less than half the current amount when my mom bought them, but it took forever because they shipped them from China, and they had a really horrible chemical smell when they arrived. My mom soaked them in vinegar and let them air out in the garage for weeks before they were ok. So, not really recommended, but if you have Frozen-crazy children and are desperate, there you go.)

My sister gave Lucy Barbie-sized Anna and Kristoff dolls, which she immediately stripped naked, because that’s what she does with all of her dolls don’t ask me why I don’t know.
I don't know why Lucy always has to take off her dolls' clothes. Sorry about that, Anna and Kristoff.

And she got to be a “butterfly fairy.”
Lucy the butterfly fairy

Really, what more could a 3 year-old ask for?

So, yeah, third birthday is now in the books. Can’t wait to see what the coming year brings.