Saturday, September 28, 2013

Potty Delaying

Potty training takes on a whole new element when both parents are working. The Wife expressed her frustration thusly: "How the heck do people manage to potty train their children when they're both working? I guess that's why I've seen so many three and a half year olds wearing diapers." When you don't see your kids from 7AM to 4:30PM every day, it becomes a lot more difficult to get them trained exactly how you want them trained. It becomes a lot more difficult in a lot of ways, but potty training is turning out to be challenging.

Granted, people have had two jobs for a long time. This is not a new or an unusual thing; as a matter of fact, I think the unusual thing was that The Wife was able to be home for as long as she was! The Boy's potty training is well-documented (and, frankly, ongoing), made more challenging because of chemotherapy and resultant effects of kidney cancer. Little Bear potty trained early and easily (as he's done most things). The Baby pee trained at the same rate (maybe earlier) as Little Bear, but poo training is a continually elusive matter.

It's hard because The Baby goes from our house to a babysitters to Grandma's to home, or our house to school to Grandma's to home. He (and we) hasn't adjusted to his new schedules yet. The Wife is also discovering that's it's hard to work a full day, get housework done, relax a little bit, AND try to keep on top of a two year old boy who is determined not to use the potty unless forced.Potty training the way that we've done it for the older two - wearing underpants, frequent trips to the potty to try, catching them by body language to get them to a potty before poo accidents happen - requires an awful lot of constant, vigilant attention. He's not getting that right now because of multiple caregivers,

So, what are we going to do? That's an amazing question, and one for which we don't have an answer. The hardest part of everything is that The Wife's situation is so, so, so transitory. She's a long-term substitute - basically, a person that does the job of a full-time teacher (with all the same duties, paperwork expectations, et al) for one third the pay, no benefits, and no sick days. There's no guarantee as to when or if the "real" teacher is coming back. There's a vague promise that she'll be considered for any positions that might open up - but that assumes that they'll give her a fair interview and not find somebody for the full-time position and leave her in the substitute position because "she's doing a great job there." She's taken a couple of job interviews since the start of the school year, which has been nice, but has not yet been asked back for a second interview. Oh, she's also keeping going with singing 5-7 services per month at Rodef and teaching in the Sunday school there.

This means that we're going to continue in this busy, insane instability indefinitely. She can't give up any of her part time stuff, because if the sub job falls through, and she hasn't landed a full-time position, then we lose desperately needed income. And, frankly, most of the part-time stuff is awesome. The Rodef Shalom community has been such a G-dsend to us. They've been friendly, and welcoming, and generous, and accommodating; I honestly don't think we could have made it this far without them. Since they seem to appreciate and value The Wife's abilities, then the very LEAST we can do is keep lending her to them.

(I mean, it's silly stuff - like one of the preschool teachers spending twenty minutes with the boys before The Wife sings services; watching them until I get there from work to pick them up. It's not a huge sacrifice for H to watch the kids, but it's such a huge burden that's taken off of us. You know what I mean? That stuff is priceless and a big reason why I consider us fortunate to have found Rodef.)

So, it's back to the drawing board when it comes to potty training, and it's back to carrying lots of little underpants with us wherever we go. I am reasonably certain that, by the time he gets to high school, he'll be potty trained most of the time. Once we all adjust to the schedule, we'll be able to make a new plan and a new system to get this completed. Until then... ugh. We'll deal with it. It's not like we're strangers to cleaning up smelly messes.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oncology Followup

Yesterday was The Boy's six month oncology followup. It's gotten a little more impersonal over the last couple of visits - the nurses have cycled out and don't remember or know him; Dr. Graves was promoted and is doing research full-time right now; and he's had three different primary contact physicians for his last three visits. Last time, in March, it was a little disappointing; we sat with a physician's assistant who told us that the doctors reviewing the case decided that they wanted to follow The Boy for five years and not three. Not a huge deal, but - with all due respect to my niece, who is working on her PA license - I'd rather hear that from the doctor.

So, we planned out yesterday's visit. I took a half vacation day from work and he took a half day from school. I called last Thursday because we hadn't received any notification about an ultrasound; the original order from six months ago was that the next ultrasound would be in March, not September. Because I'm that kind of guy, I called anyway. The scheduling folks checked with oncology and told me that no ultrasound was ordered or required.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:45 for the 1:30 appointment. We bought a hot dog and a cup of coffee and brought it upstairs with us. The Boy demolished the hot dog in about ten seconds flat; pretty impressive considering it was second lunch for him. The appointment was at 1:30; at 12:50, they brought us in for weighing, measuring, bloodwork and urinalysis. He was characteristically stoic during the bloodwork, without a flinch or a complaint. He's always been a great patient (with the exception of some of the medicines and the kayexalate debacle).

Side note: the fact that he can pee in a cup now is SO MUCH FREAKING EASIER than the bag. He hated the bag.

We met the first resident, who asked the standard questions - anything unusual, pains, etc. We did tell the story of our wonderful hospital visit from May, which seems to have been a GI infection without lasting side effects. He left, the nurse came to get the cup of urine, and the new attending physician came in.

First thing she did was question me about why we didn't get an ultrasound.

I don't lose it often. I certainly don't argue with doctors often (the occasional "please wash your hands" aside). But, I argued and got as upset as I ever get. I mean, you have GOT to be FREAKING kidding me. First of all, I was told, at the last visit, that they changed their mind and wanted five years of followup instead of three. Okay, that's nice. If they didn't like us, they would have booted us out the door earlier rather than later. Then, the PA at the last visit told me that no ultrasound was needed. When I called last week, they told me no ultrasound. We didn't schedule an ultrasound. And now, we need to schedule an ultrasound.

Probably the most annoying part of it was the doctor trying to sympathize with me about having to take more time off from work. "I understand that it is difficult to get time off to do these things. I've had to, also." Okay, look, no you don't. I know what oncologists make annually. There are a lot of issues that we would NOT be able to deal with, without the generousity of my in-laws; most of those issues, when you have some money, tend to become MUCH easier. I really don't want to hear a new doctor tell me that she's sympathetic. to my work situation.

I don't know. I guess I'm getting a bit tired of the whole thing. It's not the most productive time that we spend, at the hospital. It's not awful these days; The Boy entertains himself, and he's old enough that he doesn't need 100% attention every moment of the day. I would feel better if I felt like anybody there actually knew us, knew our situations, and was paying attention to what was happening. I'm ready to be done with this, and I don't remember feeling this way before. I just don't want to go back - not because it's particularly traumatic, but because I don't think it's necessary.

The kicker to the whole thing is that the ultrasound people will schedule it and send me a letter with the appointment day and time. So, I have no control and no choice over the time and day. Nothing better than having to take a full vacation day because of a 2PM ultrasound (not sending The Boy to school to avoid snack time and lunch time and such when he's NPO for the day because of a late ultrasound).

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Audience Etiquette

So, I'm in Perrysburg, Ohio, for the Sweet Adelines harmony weekend, and things are wrapping up. The coach hired for the weekend, the incomparable Jim Arns, is working with the Cleveland chorus, and I'm one of about twenty five people in an auditorium that's set up with 200 or so chairs. I'm sitting where I usually do in such situations: smack dab in the center of the auditorium, with my recorder set up on there chair in front of me and my iPad on my lap taking notes. I'm in my seat five minutes before the session starts, ready to go.

Twenty minutes into the session, someone comes in, walks in front of me and around me, sitting in the chair directly behind me; of course, not in any one of the other 175 chairs in the auditorium. They then proceed to embark on a loud, sustained coughing fit that lasts for the remainder of the coaching session. Thank you so much, person, for not only coughing on the back of my neck but also sharing whatever germs you have with me and my family.

People, if you are coughing, leave the auditorium. Coughing is loud and disruptive. Would you talk loudly to your friend, or talk on your cell phone? (If you would, ignore me. You're an ass, anyway.) If you wouldn't, then why do you think it's acceptable to make loud, hacking coughing sounds in public?

Going out in public, going to work, or whatever "noble" thing you're doing while your sick is not noble, and it does not show strength. It just shows that you don't give a crap about the people around you: either for their enjoyment of the show without also enjoying your hacking cough, or for their desire to stay healthy without whatever plague you carry around.

I know coughs; I have these wonderful hacking coughs because of asthma that last for weeks at a time. When I have to go out in public, I sit in the far rear of auditoriums, as far from people as I possibly can be. I certainly don't find the guy sitting in the middle of the room and sit directly behind him.

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Location:Fremont Pike,Perrysburg,United States

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rough Night

The Boy was home from school on Wednesday. While I was at rehearsal on Tuesday night, he spent a nice chunk of time throwing up for Grandma and Grandpa. He was really okay by the morning, but we kept him home because 1) we don't want to spread any stomach virus germs around the school (we're good like that), and 2) the last time he was puking similarly, he spent five days in the hospital. I was positive that this wasn't a repeat occurrence, but better safe than sorry.

I stayed home from work because I don't use a lot of sick days, and because The Wife is a long-term sub; after 40 days in the classroom, she gets bumped up a few bucks a day and gets a nice check of retroactive pay, which is really, really important to us. The Boy was okay but not so physically active, so we rested together for most of the day. We watched "The Little Mermaid" (at his request, his first time seeing the movie), a couple of other shows, played some iPad, went for an easy walk around the block to get in the sun for a little while, and otherwise relaxed. It was the first slow-moving, relaxing day that I've had in months and months, and I probably needed it more than he did.

The other boys did their normal thing: pre-school to Grandma's, until Mom picked them up on her way home from work. We all kind of vegged out for the rest of the night.

Thursday was a relatively normal day: I took The Boy to school and got home in time for dinner. I took the boys to the playground for a bit while The Wife's quartet sang, then they had a nice snack (Mango fruit ice) before bath and bed. However, The Boy had a bit of a meltdown after dinner. He said that there was no school tomorrow (Friday), that Ms. B (his teacher) had said that there was no school tomorrow. He was really, really insistent about it! He was so insistent that I actually had to check the calendar to make sure that there was, indeed, school. He threw a moderate fit about it, which is really, really odd for him - he throws plenty of fits, but never about something like that.

Last night, The Baby slept without a diaper, as he had for a week or two. I took him to the bathroom shortly before bed, and he peed. That didn't stop him from waking up at 3:00, right after he wet our bed. The TEAM started up again, and The Wife took him to get cleaned up while I got a covering for the bed so we could sleep - a little bit of baby pee is disgusting, but not really worth the production of changing the entire bed sheets when we'll all be up in two hours anyway.

I got up a bit early because I had to finish packing for me trip (toiletries and power cords and such), exercised, ate breakfast, and came back upstairs. The Boy woke up and immediately started freaking out about how he wasn't going to school, his teacher TOLD HIM that he didn't have school, and he wasn't getting dressed. Then, he would take his shoes off immediately if they were put on. Then, he was not getting in the car. We got to the school, and he said, "You'll see, Daddy. When you ring the doorbell, nobody will answer it."

He did have school. It's been a long time since I've seen him so, so sad, as when the lady opened the door for the morning breakfast program.

Thankfully, Little Bear decided not to give us a hard time last night or this morning. The only issue he had was that he was tormenting The Boy, with relish and gusto. It's amazing how quickly Little Bear has learned how to twist the knife in his older brother's pain. Sigh. I'm moderately surprised that The Boy didn't pop him one, and I'm fairly sure that I would have pretended not to notice if he did.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013


This past weekend was Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. Basically, right after the big new year's holiday, everybody apologizes for their sins for the past year and promises to do better. The Wife played bass during the kol nidrei - the call to atonement, basically - service on Friday night. I met the boys at Grandma's house. They had already eaten, so I grabbed a quick snack and threw them in the car. The boys were beginning to turn back into pumpkins and Grandma had already done far, far more than her duty for the day. They were all in bed by 8:30, and I joined them by 9:15. The Wife got home safely

after then.

Saturday morning, we all went to the young children's service at Rodef Shalom together. It was quite nice; the boys wanted to dress up, so they wore their suits: vest, tie, slacks, nice black shoes. I wore a 3-piece suit without the jacket to match them. They were okay during the service, and I took 2 & 3 home afterwards. The Wife and 1 stayed for the kindergarten service; since he's in Sunday school, he can just stay with her when that stuff happens. I took the younger boys to the comic book store and Starbucks, and we went home afterwards. We had a nice lunch and napped together for a chunk of the afternoon. The Wife and The Boy got home while we were all resting. Saturday afternoon, The Wife went back to services and I took the boys to Eat 'N' Park for dinner; I really didn't want her cooking while she was fasting, and besides, there really wasn't any food in the house at that point. She came back home and ate some leftovers for dinner. We went to the playground for a little while at night before turning


Sunday, I had a singing job with my chorus. The Wife had no Sunday school because of the recent holiday, so she was home with boys. I got home from singing and took 3 for a nap while she took 1 and 2 to swimming lessons. We kind of slumped around the house for the rest of the afternoon. She went to a CD release party for a former teacher while the boys and I stayed home and watched football. Rather, I watched the occasional football play while keeping the boys from killing each other or the baby from pooping on the floor. After dinner, Grandma and Grandpa decided to send us out for a drink while they sat with the boys, which was very nice.

The Baby is an that frustrating part of potty training. He's 95% pee trained; he won't often take himself to the potty to pee, but will not use the potty for poo. Makes it a bit messy. I did make a rookie mistake on Friday night - went to the park without a change of clothes for the baby, figuring that the poop he made right before we left home would carry us through. Nope. Had to leave, which was a real shame - the older boys had found another bike-riding boy, and they were trading bikes and having a LOT of fun racing each other around the playground. It's also making it a bit tougher at preschool, because we have to remember to change him into diapers when we get to school. Not a huge deal - we did the same thing for Little Bear - but add that to the morning list.

The Boy startled us yet again with his reading abilities. When The Wife and I got home Sunday night, he was upstairs with Little Bear, reading him the Pinnochio story. He read the entire story, beginning to end, with no help from anybody else. It was pretty darn amazing. I stood outside the door and listened because I could hardly believe it. It's tough reading - and there were some words that he kind of slurred his way through - but he did a nice job. He even managed to make different characters speak with different voices! I'm very proud of him. I was an early reader, too.

He's still playing Kingdom Hearts and advancing further (slowly) in the game. Because of the game, we've gotten the boys to watch and to read Lion King, Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Now we're adding Pinnochio (because Monstro the Whale is a world in the game) and Little Mermaid; we need to find Pinnochio the movie, but I own Little Mermaid on DVD. The Baby asks to listen to "This Is Halloween," the opening song from Nightmare Before Christmas, every time he gets in the car with me. It's kind of neat, because they get introduced to some great, older movies and meet the characters before actually seeing the movie.

The fun thing about The Boy is his complete, sweet innocence when it comes to the whole thing. He's a very, very smart and capable child, who can figure out all kinds of things, but he doesn't have a lot of arrogance about him. There's no feeling of "This is for babies!" or "I've been doing this for years" when asked to do things. I think this is going to help him survive kindergarten without alienating everybody in the classroom; he's honestly ready for 2nd or 3rd grade academic material, as I've stated before. But, because he enjoys doing things and completing them well, he doesn't mind re-doing the simple activities in kindergarten.

Scary math moment from yesterday: I told him that tomorrow (now today) is my oldest brother's birthday. I told The Boy that he was ten years older than me and asked how old Uncle B was. He thought about it for a second, and I started him "Okay, I'm 39. 39, 40, 41..." He interrupted me before I finished saying 41 by saying 49. That's pretty extraordinary. Good for him!

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekend Update

It's been a while, I know. It's also been a wonderfully event-ful month since I've updated the blog last. Let me encapsulate the events, in no particular order:
--- The Boy started kindergarten at Minedeo School. He's enjoying it, for the most part. The only thing he does NOT like is the length of the days - he gets to early-school breakfast around 7:15, and he gets off the bus in the afternoon at 4:10. That's a long day, compared with the 8:30-12:30 day at Rodef Shalom. He'll get used to it. I brought cupcakes to the classroom for his birthday, so I got to see the classroom in action, so to speak.

He's already far, far more canny than we've given him credit for. He managed to momentarily convince my wife to let him stay home last Friday, saying that he wanted to go to temple with grandma and grandpa for the second day of Rosh Hoshanah. The conversation when I got home; "Why do you want to stay home?" "I want to go to temple with Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow. " "Boy, don't try to b.s. a professional b.s. artist. Why do you want to stay home?" "Kindergarten is too long."

He went to school. If he was the type that actually sat in temple, then I would have had no issues with it. If Little Bear, for instance, wants to go to temple with Grandma and Grandpa next year, then I wouldn't question. He's enjoyed going to services since he was an infant. The Boy is like me - he's got a spring implanted in his backside when it comes to religious services.
--- We had a marvelous, wonderful, perfect visit with my college buddies from The Quad. J and C, D and Z came from Boston and Maryland, respectively, to spend a long Labor Day weekend. It was incredible. We went to the Children's Museum, and Primanti's, and a great birthday party at the Family Park. We did minigolfing at Monster Minigolf. It was epic. Best part? All four boys slept in the same room all weekend without issues.

We also polished off a few six packs and a bottle of Jack Daniels, but that was after the boys went to bed. That's a story for a different blog.
--- The Wife is back to work. She got a long-term substitute position at two schools in Pittsburgh Public. She's teaching in the school right around the corner from Grandma and Grandpa, which is kind of cool - that's the school with the little playground behind it that we used to frequent all the time. The other school is on the other side of the city. She's three days at each school - it's a six day rotation. It's good news and meh news at the same time: good news because her supervisor seems to love her and wants to get her into a full time position. Bad news because she isn't in a contract position and it being paid substitute pay without benefits for doing the work of a full time teacher.
It's a tough adjustment for everyone; arranging the schedules of one school-age and two pre-school children, full time work, and managing the household. I'm trying my best to step up and take as much of the pressure off of her that I can. It's also hard for her to be away from the kids for the full days; she hasn't been away for that long since December, 2008, when she left her last position. That's pre-Little Bear, by the way.

Might be hardest on The Baby, because Little Bear is able to be in preschool every day.
--- L'Shana Tovah to all my peeps among the Chosen People. Easy fast on Saturday. I'm not fasting, because I'm not Jewish, and because I don't fast without medical necessity.
--- Pirates broke the streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons and are contending for a division title. It's been the best story in baseball this year by a longshot, particularly since Andrew McCutchen is contending for an MVP. The Yankees, on the other hand, are a longshot for a second wild card and have used more players than any other year in their history because of injuries. Jeter's done for the year, and the games are painful to watch. It's Mariano Rivera's last season, so I'm tuning in late in ballgames to watch him pitch. It's been a great, eventful baseball season for both of my teams, although I wish for a few less injuries.

--- The boys love, love, love reading Action Cat and Adventure Bug comics in "Aw Yeah Comics." It's the must-read book of this year by a longshot. The Boy has been reading to his brothers regularly.

It's interesting how the two older boys conceptualize reading. Little Bear will sound out and guess words, The Boy will kind of mumble through them and try to guess by context clues if he doesn't know the words. The Boy is still playing Kingdom Hearts and reading all of the dialogue on the screen, which is really quite advanced reading for a six-year-old.

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