I’ve heard it takes between four to six weeks to adjust to something new, in which case, today is a really big hump day — 2.5 weeks into my semester and 2 weeks into G’s school year (cue Bon Jovi, “Ooooh, we’re halfway theeeere . . . “).

G’s transition from half-day Montessori preschool (with grandma as one of his teachers) to full-on, conventional kindergarten has been a little rough, made rougher by the fact that we found out the day before school started that his supposed teacher resigned (two days before school started), which left his class without a dedicated classroom teacher for the first four days of school.  The school principal, teachers, and other staff did their best to fill the void, but it definitely made things extra rocky.

Overall, I think G is settling in and will be fine, but goodbyes in the morning are always a sad time.  He tears up pretty much every single day, rubbing his eyes and fighting back the tears while blowing me sad-faced kisses as his class walks into the building.  I held it together until the fifth day of school, when I also broke down.

I think he might actually be better off if I just dropped him off and left, except that he refuses to engage with any of the other kids on the playground, which makes me feel like he’s not ready for this step.

Instead, I stand there with him clinging to me in the hot, hot sun (his school starts on the later side and we are on the east side of the building — SO. MUCH. SUN.), staring at my phone and hoping that NOW is the time they will blow the whistle for the kids to line up and go inside.

No matter how late I push our morning departure time, or how many errands we run ahead of time, we have yet to achieve my goal of arriving exactly as the kids are lining up.  Always early!

Anyhow, I changed things up yesterday, and instead of just blowing a kiss to G as his class walked by my post near the door, I made a funny face: tongue out, fingers waggling at ears, eyes crossed — going all out and making a complete fool of myself (in front of the few parents who were actually still there) to get a smile out of that kid.  And it worked!

Don’t be fooled by the fact that we are arriving early — time is NOT on my side these days.  For the past two years, I was spoiled by G’s school schedule and our transportation arrangements.  Matthew took G to school most days, and in order for the timing to work, they usually left the house by eight o’clock.  That meant my day — the chunk of time I had to do school work, paid work, and house stuff — effectively started at 8.

These days, by the time I get home from G’s school drop-off, it’s almost 9:30 a.m.  It’s like I’ve lost an hour-and-a-half every. single. weekday.  Add another 30-40 minutes to that on the days I’m also picking him up in the afternoons, and, it’s two hours a day, poof!  Gone!

Anyway, I’m slowly adjusting, figuring out ways I can at least squeeze in some housework and/or errands in the mornings before school, which helps a bit.

On the bike
Between G’s school transportation and getting to my own classes, I’m racking up quite the mileage, despite the heat.  Did I mention it is hot?  So hot?  (Actually, it could be hotter, but I don’t want to think about that.)

One of my classes meets in the afternoon, which means I am biking both to and from class during the sunniest and hottest times of the day — not super fun for this heat-phobic vampire!

Biking with G has been good overall, though as he continues getting heavier (and the difference between his weight and my weight gets smaller), using the tag-a-long bike is becoming more challenging, both from a general balance perspective and for getting up the hills.  I’ve taken to using a longer route to/from school to avoid one particular hill, at least when he is in tow.


So, there you have it!  A couple more weeks, and we should all be pros at this new normal.  Moving toward cooler weather (if slowly in StL), doesn’t hurt, either!

Halloween weekend

The weather was lovely on Friday night, so we kicked off the weekend with a family bike ride to check out the neighborhood Halloween decorations.  The forecast for Saturday night looked less than ideal for trick-or-treating, so I wanted to make the most of it, and we did.  All was well, despite the fact that I didn’t realized my rear bike lights weren’t on until four blocks into the ride — oops!

Saturday dawned drizzly and gray, as promised.  We made the most of it by baking bread (Matthew) and making chickpea dumpling soup (me).  My food lab instructor mentioned chickpea flour dumplings last week in class (I was probably the only one in the room who had every actually consumed them), and I realized I’d completely forgotten about that recipe, which is quite tasty.  Fun to bring it back!

After some post-lunch quiet time, Matthew and Gabriel got into full tiger costume.


I’ve got the two cutest tigers in town, and that’s no lion!

After a quick visit to Nana and Papa’s, we returned home for dinner (something nice and healthy before all that candy!).  Despite my fears, the weather mostly cooperated for trick-or-treating.  It was damp when we headed out, but no active precipitation.  We walked a few blocks to a street that is very active in trick-or-treating.  There were some great decorations, including this kid dressed up as a creepy jester who looked like a statue until he jumped at you.  The house with what had been G’s favorite decorations added an animated werewolf for Halloween night, and it was too creepy for my little tiger.  About halfway through, it started spitting, and there was a very light drizzle just as we finished.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared Ellyn Satter’s recommendation for handling Halloween candy, basically putting the child in charge (at least to some degree) to help him/her learn self-regulation.  I really like a lot of Satter’s work (mentioned in my “Avoiding Pitfalls in Raising a Healthy Eater” post), so, despite some qualms about these particular recommendations, I decided to give it a try that first night.

I told G he could pick out what he wanted, and also that if he was hungry for something else (we don’t usually do a snack before bed, because bedtime is so close to dinner, but we were up late and he had done a lot of walking), he could have a piece of the [fresh-baked] bread.  In the end, G picked 4-5 pieces of candy and then asked for a piece of bread.

I’ll admit that after each piece of candy, I was wondering, “Will this piece be the last one?” and I wouldn’t have minded if he’d chosen even less candy (yes, I might have some control issues), but as a “sometimes” thing, this was not at all unreasonable.

We’re now doing a bit more direction with the candy, and I’m not going for the “as much as he wants at snack time” thing.  Mostly I feel like there’s SO MUCH candy for a 4-year-old, and I’m wishing we’d visited fewer houses, as neither Matthew nor I are particularly interested in helping consume the candy stash (we’d prefer our sugar and fat calories from our homemade treats!).  Looking ahead to next year, I think it might be more fun (and lead to less candy) if we host a Halloween party, which would include some trick-or-treating for the kids, but would also include games and Halloween-themed food items.

Saturday’s rain delayed gardening until Sunday (yes, the garden is still alive and kicking!), and my tigers worked in the garden while I stayed home and did homework.  They returned as I was finishing dinner preparations, and G happily munched on some extra kohlrabi before showing me the big ol’ kohlrabi that Matthew had just harvested.

G with kohl rabi
“Make it quick, Mom. This is heavy!”

And that’s a wrap on our weekend!  I have a number of other posts in the works, including one on my no-longer-so-new bike commute, but I also have lots of school-related writing due in the next few weeks, so no promises!


Suddenly September

Some parents complain that August just drags on — seemingly endless summer days until school starts again, with frequent complaints of “I’m bored” from the peanut gallery.  That wasn’t our experience.  Between dealing with G’s broken leg and finalizing plans for my return to school, the month of August flew by.

In the first meeting of one of my dietetics classes, the professor asked us to go around and introduce ourselves by stating our name and the most fun/exciting thing we’d done over the summer, and I drew a complete blank.  A big ol’ nothing.  The two-and-a-half weeks since Gabriel had broken his leg were so intense and draining that everything prior to that (i.e., June and July) was just a blur, a faint and distant memory.

So here we are in September.  I am two weeks into the semester and feeling pretty good about pursuing dietetics as a profession.  I enjoy the material and the science and math that go along with it.

I am also enjoying the challenge of increased bicycle mileage.  I am pretty sure that I’ve been on my bike every day for the past 15 days (there’s one Saturday morning that I don’t quite remember whether or not I ran errands), for a total of 133 miles.  That’s quite a bit more than I’d been doing, and it’s apparently enough bike time that I’m now doing bikey things while OFF the bike, like almost using an arm turn signal when walking through a building on campus yesterday — that wouldn’t have looked weird at all, right?

We had another check-up with G’s surgeon yesterday, and everything looks good.  He’s been completely off of pain meds for almost a week now.  We are just over 4 weeks out, and G is finally starting to walk, with a lot of assistance/support (holding onto our hands plus furniture), though most of the time he still just scoots around on the floor.  He’s also enjoying riding his tricycle.

We go back for another check-up in a month, at which point the doctor might recommend some PT (depending on G’s gait), and we’re hoping to have the nails removed in December.

In case August didn’t have enough excitement, we ended the month with a bit of activity on the house-hunt front.  We made an offer on a house, but failed (so far?) to reach an agreement with the seller.  Then, last Thursday, I took a different route to school, and saw a For Sale sign in front of a [previously off-market] property that we’d been interested in for awhile.  It seemed like fate — I’d just happened to take that route right after negotiations on the other property had ended, and, as it turned out, just five days before bids on this property were due.

We soon discovered that this latest property was a bit of an odd-ball, not really set up for standard home buyers.  After a bit of back and forth with our Realtor and a third party, we figured out a round-about way to get our foot in the door on the bidding.  We have no idea how many people we’re competing against or what those other offers will look like, so now we just wait.

Adding moving to what already feels like a crazy next few months is not exactly my idea of a good time, but after house hunting for over six years, we can’t really pass up a good opportunity due to “inconvenience.”  Moving will likely be a pain whenever it happens, and we’ll just have to deal with it when the time comes.  And, in reality, there’s a decent chance that that time will NOT be now.

So, now that we’re in September, what’s the most fun or exciting thing YOU did over the summer?  Or what are you most looking forward to with fall approaching?

Broken leg aftermath

It’s been a heck of a two weeks, friends.  In many ways, having a young child with a serious injury is a flashback to those [seemingly] endless days of early infancy as a new parent.  The first night in the E.R./hospital gave us a head start on the exhaustion, which just builds with each middle-of-the-night pain med wake up.  There was inconsolable crying, the feeling of not knowing what the heck we were doing (as I mentioned the discharge instructions could have been clearer), general lack of predictability, and little-to-no time for self-care.  I spent the entire first week in a deep mental fog.

Thankfully, except for a few blips (when we tried to ditch the oxycodone too soon), G hasn’t been waking at night except when we wake him for the scheduled pain meds (and most of the time he barely wakes then).  The alarm on my phone goes off at 3a.m. every morning, and I drag myself out of bed and into the kitchen to get the drugs.  For the first week, I was tired enough that I got back to sleep pretty quickly.  This week, that ability seems to have disappeared, and I often spend those remaining hours tossing and turning.  (In another flashback to G’s infancy, I decided that if I’m getting up, I need a middle of the night snack, even though this time around, it isn’t fueling breastfeeding.)

Last Saturday, one week after the surgery, G finally saw the light of day when we took a stroll to our neighborhood’s new Little Free Library.  Getting out was good for him, and we followed up on Sunday with the first car outing.  Holding 40-pounds of anxious child in just the right position to avoid pain while wrangling him into the middle-positioned car seat in a small car is quite the feat.  Still, we not only made it work, we repeated it again on Monday (when Matthew took off work to help care for G at his mom’s house, giving me a MUCH-needed break) and then again on Tuesday for G’s first post-op doctor appointment.

Other than the tech positioning G’s leg for the x-ray, which was quite painful, based on his screams, the visit went smoothly.  We got our first peek at the new hardware (it was also the first time I saw the break).


Hip joint visible at the top, knee bone at the bottom, and some big ol’ titanium nails.  Matthew and I were both surprised to see how off-set the bone is still.  The doc said that was completely normal (and that it would have been more off-set if we’d done casting instead of the nails).  The surgical incisions also looked good (a relief, given my surgical site infection fears!), and with that, we were told to come back in three weeks.

This week, we managed to get him off the couch, and by Wednesday, he was spending most of the time sitting on the floor (or in his booster seat on the floor) playing.  He has not attempted to crawl yet (despite a bit of gentle prodding), but he his bearing some weight on the leg, scooting around on the floor from the sitting position — as he’s gotten more comfortable with it, it kind-of looks like a crab-walk.

We started to cut back the oxycodone for the second time (after our first, too-soon attempt).  It seems that ibuprofen or acetaminophen are sufficient for pain control now, but he did have what we suspect were some opioid withdrawal symptoms (agitation and inconsolable crying for no reason), so we’re trying to dial it back slowly.

My mental fog seems to have lifted this week, though in the logistics of getting G loaded into the car on Thursday afternoon, I left our front door wide open while we were gone for almost three hours.  Thankfully, we do at least have a storm door that was closed.  Also, this was another flashback to G’s infancy — one morning in those early months, I went down our front stairs, only to discover that we’d left our front door open all night long.  Oops!

Yesterday marked our first post-break bike ride.  Big Blue has been a bit neglected since we got the tag-a-long in May, but she’s just what we need now.  I removed one side of the Hooptie to make it easier to get G into his seat, which he said felt just fine.  Getting him onto the bike is much easier than getting him into the car (though the logistics of getting me, our stuff, and then him, in my arms, out of our second-floor apartment are tricky with any mode of transportation — walking is the easiest).

20150814_101424[1]The trickiest part here was strapping the stroller (necessary once we reached our destination) onto the bike.  A couple of bungees worked well enough for our short trip to the library and Target.

If all goes well (knock on wood), Matthew and I will be getting a much-needed break this week when G goes to Tennessee with my MIL.  For the past two weeks, we’ve been back-and-forth on whether or not that trip (which has been planned since June) would happen or not, but as of now they’re a “go” to leave on Monday.  I need to reconnect to my mindfulness practice, and a few nights without that darned 3a.m. alarm will be most welcome!

Friday night E.R. lights

Friday started innocently enough.  The newly be-Hooptied Big Blue was finally ready to ride (after a bit of a debacle involving the internal hub and a missing o-ring), and we towed Lightning to the park for a morning ride.


The previous week, we’d made some progress in riding Lightning after I added some homemade streamers to the ends of the handlebars and made a game out of riding the circle path around the playground.  His interest was strong the first two days but already starting to fade.

Later in the day, after not napping, we hooked Green Bike to Midnight (finally picked a name for my 3-month-old bike) and headed out for a multi-modal trip to meet up with my family, who were visiting from Iowa for the weekend.


Two mile bike ride and 10 minutes on the MetroLink later (I rotated the Burley Piccolo almost 180 degrees to fit on the train), we were at the hotel where my family was staying.  Easy peasy!

An outdoor pool is a nice amenity for summer StL visits, and we changed into our suits and headed to the pool (I was wishing I’d worn mine under my clothes so I could just jump in after the hot bike ride!).

Things went south from there.  I was just about ready to join G and my mom in the pool (after getting all sun-screened and letting it have some time to sink in), when G came out for a little break.  I don’t remember what he was heading for, but he was running on the pool deck.  I was a few steps behind and literally starting to say, “Don’t run next to the pool,” when we experienced the consequence of said action.

He slipped and landed really awkwardly, kind of a side split, but with knees bent instead of straight.  Given the position, I was assuming he’d pulled or strained something in the groin.  He was in quite a bit of pain, and ice and time didn’t seem to alleviate it.  We got him back to the hotel room, and he held his leg very awkwardly.  There was some swelling, but no bruising, and after consulting with a nurse on the after-hours exchange line, we headed to the E.R. at Children’s Hospital.  By that point, I was pretty convinced that something was wrong — I’ve never seen him that upset/inconsolable.


They started pain meds, and took him for some x-rays.  Soon enough, we heard the news: spiral fracture to his right femur (the long bone in the upper leg).  Our treatment options were either spica casting (basically a huge cast, from his waist down past his knee on the right leg, and possibly including some of the upper left leg) or titanium elastic nailing (TEN) of the femur, a surgical procedure which would involve no cast and allow him to start bearing weight as soon as he was ready.  Either way, it would be done under full anesthesia, and we would be waiting until morning.


They put his leg in a very temporary cast for the night.  The manipulation this required was pretty tortuous, even with morphine in his system, as he was crying and screaming, “No, please no, please don’t do that!”  — agonizing for him and for me and my mom.

Matthew stayed with him at the hospital overnight, and I headed home to do a bit more research on our treatment options before attempting to get a bit of sleep.  The TEN procedure seemed like a no-brainer in most ways, both for G and his caregivers, and it was what the pediatric orthopedic surgeon recommended (“What I would do for my kid”).  There wasn’t a ton of information either way.  We were concerned about the risk of surgical site infection with the TEN procedure (not an issue with the spica casting, since it doesn’t involve surgery), but in the end, we went with that option.

Saturday morning a bit before nine, he was wheeled into surgery.  Sometime after ten, the surgeon found us in the waiting room and said we would be able to see him in a bit, and the procedure had gone as planned.


The green is not a cast, just a stretchy bandage covering the incisions from the surgery.  After some time monitoring him, a visit from a physical therapist, a trip to the pharmacy for oxycodone, and much crying about the transfer, we headed home on Saturday night, a little over twenty four hours after arriving at the E.R.


We had great care overall, and were fortunate to be at a state-of-the-art children’s hospital.  I do feel the hospital staff could have done a bit better job preparing us for what to expect once we got home, i.e., how much pain he would be in, wound/dressing care, etc.  I also wonder if some kind of splint or brace would have been useful, but that was never mentioned or offered.

The past few days have been challenging for all of us — a temporary return to the days of having a needy young infant: lots of inconsolable crying, sleep-deprived parents, multiple night-time wakings (even if he’s sleeping, we need to make up to give him more pain meds).  Those were not my best days, and I’m trying to stay positive this time around.

Despite the fact that, bone structure-wise, he theoretically could be bearing weight on the leg now, he is clearly far, far from being ready for that.  I think the way they presented the procedure was a bit misleading in that aspect.

He is clearly still in a lot of pain, compounded by his anxiety about the pain.  I almost think he has some kind of PTSD from all of the pain of the initial trauma, plus the limb being manipulated in the E.R., and then just being in so much pain for so long (he was on pain meds all night on Friday night, but nothing but the morphine seemed to help much, and they were hesitant to give that).  Now, anytime we go to move him, he freaks out, crying and screaming before we even touch him.  Afterward, he often admits that it didn’t actually hurt (although sometimes, despite our best efforts, it does).  I’m not sure how to help him past the psychological issues.

We’re not pushing movement right now, other than wiggling toes and flexing the ankle, but we do have to move him sometimes (e.g., to sit on the toilet — we have a thing for him to pee in; we could use a diaper for bowel movements, but we would likely have to move him just as much, if not more, to clean him afterward, so potty it is!), at which point he usually screams bloody murder and tries to push us away.


We confirmed that the seemingly odd/awkward position he favors, with the leg angled outward, is not a problem, and they gave us another script for more oxycodone (they were really stingy the first time around); as much as we would like to wean him from the hard stuff, acetaminophen and ibuprofen just don’t seem to be cutting it yet.

After consulting with the hospital staff, we decided that the coordination required for a walker, much less crutches, was probably too complicated at this age.  The expectation is that he’ll start bearing weight on the leg as he’s ready, first crawling, then pulling himself up and walking with assistance, and finally walking unaided, so, basically learning to walk all over again, but a faster progression (theoretically — we’ll see with this naturally cautious, and now anxiety-ridden, child — he may just decide it’s safer to crawl everywhere for the rest of his life).