I write down my random thoughts here mostly for me, for our family. I want to have a record of our lives for when I’m old and my memory is shot, but it is also an outlet for me to share my thoughts and feelings, and my pictures. that being said, I do love and appreciate that others read what I write, so I was super tickled when I was approached by BlogHer this week, to syndicate my post on Woo’s recent bout with Croup, and how I still check to see that my Lils are breathing every night before I sleep!! The post can be found on the BlogHer family site at http://www.blogher.com/breathe-breathe-out-1. Go check it out!!
When I was a teenager, I babysat for a family who lost their youngest child to SIDS. I didn’t know anything about SIDS, but knew that this family had put their healthy infant son to bed one night and he never woke up. It was terribly hard on the family, their lives altered and filled with grief in an instant. As their regular babysitter, it affected me too. I became hyper-vigilant for a long time after, afraid that any of the young children who I babysat would suddenly stop breathing in their sleep.
In time, the memory of that little boy faded, and my schooling and career took me away from regularly caring for small children. Then I had children of my own, and that old fear came back in an instant. As an adult, I knew more about SIDS and what puts a child at risk, but I also had croupy babies, and one child with asthma. So I worried.
When they were really wee, I got in the habit of checking on them several times while they slept, just to watch them breathe. It didn’t matter if they were napping, or down for the night, I’d invent reasons to go by their rooms and just watch and listen. I never actually thought that they wouldn’t be breathing, I just needed to check. I still do it, at least once a night, even though they are five and six years old.
This past Thursday night Woo had his first bout with croup in over a year. It was a bad one, and it caught us by surprise. We`ve all enjoyed a winter of relative health, and save for an adjustment to new asthma meds, Woo`s breathing issues have been a non-issue. Little people are supposed to outgrow croup, yet here he was, lying in bed complaining of the tightness in his throat and sounding like Darth Vadar.
Past experience has taught us that sounding like Darth Vadar is the point at which you go to the hospital. Well, past experience and that time that the nurse from Tele-health called an ambulance to our house… On Thursday though, we had given him Advil to help with the swelling, and while we discussed going to the hospital, his breathing started to get better. I decided to lie in his bed with him, to comfort him when he coughed. I was with him when his breathing got worse again a few hours later, and then when he came home from the hospital, untreated after a three hour wait.
Something in the time that he left the house had made the croup better, either his wakefulness, enough cold air, or a different humidity in the hospital. He didn`t meet the threshold for the steroids, so he and Willy came home and his crappy, coughing, wheezing, Darth Vadar-like breathing returned for a few more hours in the night. I lay beside him and listened to every breath, willing it to get better, consoling and rubbing his chest when he was worse. As I lay there, I thought about the number of times that I have wondered at what point I will stop my routine checks to see if they are breathing, but now I know.
One of the many reasons that Willy and I grew to love our community after we bought the house was the fact that the elementary school was within walking distance. The walk is a little over a kilometre, so the lils are technically eligible to ride the bus for the first few years, but we wanted to walk. So we walk. The walks haven’t always been fast or easy, and on more than one occasion I have walked or biked home with a teary lil person, upset that it wasn’t cold enough or yucky enough for me to have brought the car. For the most part, however, the walks have been great. I love that we can talk about anything and everything, and that it is just the three of us, or as been happening more and more lately, just the two of them lost in conversation with each other.
The majority of our route is on a busy street, so I am thankful for the sidewalk that is set well back from the street. As much as I feel safe on the walk, there are times when I get frustrated by some of the people who we encounter. The teens and adults who don’t realize that they need to share the sidewalk, and walk single file as we pass them, so we end up in the snowbank; the cars that think it’s OK to park on the sidewalk every day, forcing us to squeeze around the back of their car through the exhaust or walk on the busy street to get around them; the people who don’t reign in their big dogs, allowing their behaviour to fuel my lils fear of big dogs…
I take a deep breath and try to explain to the lils that others just might not be aware that they are being rude, inconsiderate, or that big dogs jumping on lil people can be scary. Instead we focus on the good people, the friendly neighbours, the daycare “families” that are bursting with energy, the family at the street who we look forward to greeting every morning – even though we don’t know their names, classmates that we walk with when we time it right, and our always smiling crossing guard. Each of these are important parts of our walk.
Lately I have been troubled by the cars that are leaving the ‘hood in the morning. We cross seven streets in the course of our walk, and most days at least one car comes out from those side streets and turns right onto the busy street. They do it without looking, ignore the stop signs, and are oblivious to the fact that we are waiting to cross. We have the right of way, but they take it, never seeing us waiting at the corner. The lils know that they can’t safely cross these streets without me, so even if Woo arrives before Goose and I, he waits.
Woo is always seeking a little bit of independence on the way home. Goose is slow and tired at the end of the day, so he likes to scoot ahead. Most days I make him wait for us at each street, but I see this as a safe way to teach him to cross safely, so today I let him go farther. He was allowed to go one block ahead, provided that he was careful and obvious in looking all around before crossing one intersection. He did it flawlessly several times. I was close behind, watching and feeling that he was doing well.
At about the third intersection, a car pulled up as he landed on the corner. Both stopped, and Woo waited. The driver waved him on, so Woo checked one more time and crossed. I guess he was walking too slowly, or the driver forgot that there was a small child crossing in front of him, but just as Woo got in front of his car, he started rolling forward. Woo noticed and jumped out of the way, and jumped out of the way, so the car just kept on driving.
I ran up to Woo, who was predictably full of questions. He was curious about why a driver would be so unsafe, but not terribly upset, or frightened. I was, and still am both. I can’t wrap my head around why he thought this was OK. He chose to let Woo go, then apparently changed his mind and decided to roll his very large vehicle towards my son. Woo wasn’t close to the edge of the cross walk, he was right in front of the car! I wish that I had been closer, but I am not sure that I could have been able to do anything differently. Thankfully nothing happened to him, but I’ll be keeping him a little closer for the next little while. I need to reassure myself that the rest of the driver’s will watch out for a little boy, learning to cross the road on his own.
I am a self-professed Olympics junkie, but I have been having a really hard time getting into the Games this year. I always forget about this part, and it seems so much worse this time around. It’s the last few weeks, days, moments before an Olympic Games officially begin, when the world is watching and, for the most part, reporting only on the bad.
I am not trying to trivialize the global reactions to a myriad of issues, including human rights violations, corruption, safety and security concerns, environmental issues, or animal cruelty. I feel the same unease and anger, and these issues have been on my mind for months. Several times, I have considered boycotting the Games. In the end, it is my appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the athletes, elite athletes who have worked hard their entire lives to get to the ultimate completion that convinced me that I should watch and support the athletes from afar.
With this decision made, I started to seek out the coverage from Sochi this week. Overall, I was saddened to read that most of the “filler” content that I have been reading has been so very negative, and has become the go-to joke in many ways. I understand that it is frustrating when things go wrong, or aren’t ready when they should be, but I also know that there have to be more positive stories that can be told, stories that tell us about the athletes that we will be watching and the Olympic spirit. Instead I found articles that showed me which of the current photos coming out of Sochi were actually old or fakes, or that mocked a journalist for trying to look past the logistical problems and have a great experience in Sochi; mocked her not because she tried to look beyond these issues, but because there was a typo in her headline. A headline that she likely did not write!
Today, I forced myself to look past that. I spent most of the day in the lil’s school, seeing all the excitement that they had for the Olympics; little ones dressed in Canadian gear, some fortunate enough to have teachers who allowed them to watch some of the opening ceremonies, others making copious trips to the washroom so that they could catch a glimpse on the TVs that stream the Games in the hallway, the littlest children making giant Olympic rings to decorate the school, and plans being made for a mock Olympics next week. It gave me hope. Then we got home, and the little spent hours drawing Olympic themed pictures, and planned the events that they want to watch tomorrow. Then they told me that we need to throw an Olympics party, complete with “events”. All of a sudden, I can’t wait for the competition to begin!
Over the last few months, I have noticed that my creative inspiration has been slipping away from me. It’s been hard for me to try to overcome, as I never really thought of myself as a creative person until I realized that I wanted to write, take pictures, to create as I had in the past, and I could not force myself to do so. I’ve wallowed, ignored, forced myself, and tried new projects, but have had limited success. While I am certain that it will come back to me in some form, I am surprised at how this funk seems to blanket every aspect of my life.
One of the places where everyone in my family seems to notice the rut I am in is the kitchen. Meals have become boring and predictable. Each week’s menu plan is reminiscent of the week prior, and the smalls in particular are getting a little frustrated. They have even asked me to stop cooking some of their favourites, for a while, because they were sick of seeing them every week. This was the sign that I needed to mix things up.
One of the reasons that I was sticking to the family favourites is that we are not the easiest family in the world to feed. While the lils are very adventurous eaters, we all have our likes and dislikes, none of which overlap. Add in the fact that Woo and I both have severe allergies and that I am a vegetarian, and you get a certain amount of chaos. I try to make meals that appeal to most of us, or that can be easily adapted for their carnivorous tastes, but I have struggled in the last few weeks. There have been too many nights where I have run out of food for some of us, forgotten to cook anything for me, eaten just mashed potatoes and salad, or had to cook three or four different meals, because I realized too late in the game that the menu I had planned didn’t really appeal to any of us.
I’m fed up with the confusion that I have created for myself, and the rapidly rising grocery bill that has accompanied it. Yesterday was the first day of my renewed efforts to take control of the kitchen. I planned the meal perfectly, beef stew for the family and vegetarian chili from the freezer for me, both accompanied by a loaf of homemade bread. We sat down to eat, and everyone dug in. Goose, in particular, was eating with much enthusiasm. This surprised me, as her number one nemesis, the onion, was plentiful in her bowl. She had munched on happily for about ten minutes, when I noticed that she was really digging in her bowl. “Mama”, she cried, “there are NO BEANS in my chili!!” It seems that knowing I was having chili for dinner made her think that she would be getting it too.
Happy that I was not the only one who was mixed up in the kitchen, I explained that that she got the stew because it was non-veg, and that I was the only one with chili. She got a cross look on her face, noted that my bowl was empty, and declared that she was finished, as the stew was not to her taste. I sighed, and went back to the drawing board on the menu plan. Confusion reigns for another day.