Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's

With sick babies, we're in for the evening. And while I wait for the 20th load of laundry of the day to dry, here's my thoughts on 2008, compliments of a quiz on the great All and Sundry.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
I had a second kid and discovered you can really love the second one as much as the first.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
This time last year, I was so huge all I wanted was a healthy baby and not to be pregnant anymore. Both of those came true.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My cousin Marsue died unexpectedly on a cruise. What was most unexpected was we didn't hear about it immediately.

5. What countries did you visit?
I don't think I left the U.S. in 2008 and even missed the Egan Clan Rally in Ireland this year. Something about little kids at home.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
In the next year, I'm looking forward to the kids being old enough that we can start to do stuff together as a family with her as a more active participant, like going to museums and other stuff.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The obvious, January 26, Meg's birthday. The 25th, the day I went into the hospital to have her was pretty memorable, too. Work-wise, we had a pretty kick-ass media event in September that was a big milestone for me professionally.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
See no. 7 above.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't think I handled the 2008 daycare fiasco particularly well. I think I somehow rushed into making a decision. I am very happy with the outcome, but I don't think I did my research very well. And um, that stock market thing wasn't so great either.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Being pregnant, I had just about every cold you can imagine so I was relieved to end that once I delivered. Sadly, the kids have had some illnesses that have really rocked my confidence. Like right now.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought the services of a night nurse when Meg was a newborn. I don't normally splurge on stuff for myself, but it was worth it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Andy gave up his binky over the summer and potty trained, both of which I feared would never happen. Jennifer graduated from college. Mark got into a four-year college and moved out. Bjorn started a new job. Meg -- well -- everything she does right now is cause for celebration.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The Cowboys. How do you go from Superbowl favorites to not making the playoffs?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Aside from living expenses, most of our money went to tuition for all four kids. What's left over went on some splurges for the house, like new windows which I'm very excited about.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
It was exciting to be a part of the Obama campaign. I was on the fringes, but it was cool to see Bjorn and others get so motivated. I've never really been part of a campaign before and it was all really fascinating. Oh, and all that press for work was very cool, too.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Sadly, the theme song to Little Einsteins.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder?b) thinner or fatter?c) richer or poorer?
I am happier, but more stressed with two kids. I am a lot thinner, you know, not pregnant and all, but still not as thin as I'd like to be. I think we're about the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I'd figured out how to get out with more friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I'd worried less. Everything always works out in one way or another, but in the interim, I spend a lot of time chewing over it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas in Dallas with my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Yes, with a newborn. Oh, and there are a few new good TV shows, too.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
With two little kids, I watch a LOT of television. My faves -- Lost, 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Unlike Bjorn, I usually don't hate anyone. Well, except that Parade magazine columnist. That guy bugs.

24. What was the best book you read?
I read a couple interesting ones: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and Founding Mothers.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Finally getting to use my iPod to download those one-off songs I love, like Romeo in Black Jeans.

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted a healthy baby and I was really blessed to receive it (fingers crossed, knock wood, etc). Well, the past two weeks excepted.

27. What did you want and not get?
Bjorn had a big job opportunity that didn't pan out. That would have been exciting.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We never see movies anymore. In the advent of Tivo, my attention span is just too darn short and I want to Tivo through the boring parts. But I did really like Juno.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 this year. We had a baptism for Meg rather than our usual party. It was nice. I liked doing something a little different.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I get stressed with the kids, money and that kind of stuff. I really wish sometimes I could have taken a deep breath and laughed rather than worrying about whatever it was.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Clean is my goal. If only that always happened. I want to be better in the new year. I am going to vow to wear more colors and less black and grey.

32. What kept you sane?
Bjorn, my television, work and my friends and family. Oh, and my trashy magazines are good, too. My sister, Elizabeth, also has two little kids and is invaluable for helping me take a deep breath when I am freaking out.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I adore Tina Fey. She just rocks. I love how she makes smart girls sexy.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The presidential election was very moving. And once McCain picked Palin, I got really engaged. While I found her personally fascinating, her politics scared me.

35. Who did you miss?
Gay, but I miss Gilmore Girls. I haven't found a show I like as much. I miss our friends Mo and Bill who moved away. I miss my family in Texas. Especially now that I have little kids, I would love for them to be more a part of my regular life.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
The neatest new person was our Obama organizer Nealin who came to our house twice a week for a few months. Too bad Obama was elected and she went and moved away.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
I learned that as much as I want it, there isn't always a right answer. Sometimes there are just a lot of good enough answers. I have finally figured out that if I book sucks, I don't have to finish it. No one is grading me. Oh, and I figured out to almost always check books out of the library rather than buying them. Then there's even less pressure to finish a sucky book.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Bob the Builder -- can we fix it? Yes we can! -- I feel I spend a lot of time trying to make things better for the little people in my life.

Oy, part 3

So guess who was up last night throwing up? That would be Andy! Poor guy. He came to my bed about 11, which is weird, but there are lots of weird things going on this week. He snuggled for a minute, then coughed, cried and when I turned on the light, I saw that he'd thrown up. In my bed. Turns out he'd also thrown up in his bed earlier. He did that for about half an hour while we changed the sheets and then woke up about 3:45 and 8:30 for repeat performances. Bjorn was quite the champ taking care of him and everything. Meg, believe it or not, had a pretty good night starting about 10:30 and woke up looking more like herself. Go figure.

I called Meg's babysitter to see if she could go over there today to give me a break to deal with Andy. She agreed so at least I had a chance to catch up on rest, laundry and e-mail for a bit. Dang, it's been a long couple of weeks! I hope all these bugs stay with 2008.

Oh, and to update on Meg. We spent two hours at the doctor's office yesterday. The first hour was waiting (groan) and the second they ran a bunch of tests. She has a double ear infection so the Omnicef wasn't doing its job so now she's on another antibiotic and a prescription antihistamine that will help dry her out and help her sleep. The doctor said I might go ahead and make the ENT appointment just to get a referral. She said Meg is younger than she normally likes to refer and hasn't exhausted everything else yet, BUT with Andy's family history, we're likely headed there anyway so why not go ahead and make that an option. The surgery makes me nervous, mostly the anesthesia, but the thought of preventing all this recent discomfort makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oy, part 2

After a mostly uneventful Monday, Meg threw up all over the car on our way back from Costco (where I picked up our Christmas cards, sorry folks for the delay). She then proceeded to have a terrible night of throwing up and crying. It. Was. Terrible. I'm likely off to the pediatrician's again this morning. Poor little girl. She would relax for a little bit then cry out in pain. A few times I half convinced myself we were headed to the emergency room, only for her to settle down again and sleep for an hour or so.

Andy, blissfully, slept through the whole mess. Poor guy though. This was our week to play on "in-cation" and I have a feeling it's not going to be too much fun.

P.S. Anyone know how to wash the straps on a Britax Roundabout? The cover comes off easily, but those straps are sure nasty right now.

Monday, December 29, 2008


So we returned and we were all excited to relax and sleep in our own beds...only for little miss Margaret to be up all Friday night, coughing so hard she would throw up. Poor chicken only slept about two hours at a time. Unfortunately, she only wanted me so Bjorn couldn't even really help. She and I were both exhausted and cranky come Saturday morning.

A trip to the pediatrician in the morning, along with most of the rest of Northern Virginia, diagnosed an ear infection so now she's on 3 ml of Omnicef twice a day as well as 3 ml of Motrin and Tylenol for the pain and 1 1/2 ml of Benadryl on occasion to help with the drainage. The humidifier is cranked at full blast and, thank heavens, she had decent nights Saturday and Sunday nights. I did even promise her a pony if she slept through the night Saturday I was so cranky and exhausted. She made it so now I suppose I need to look into ponies.

So far, the antibiotics seem to be working on her ears, but I have a feeling ear tubes are in our future. Fortunately, we've done it once so the whole process is not as scary.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just a few

We took 177 photos while we were gone. Here are some of the highlights. Andy proudly showing his name on his stocking.
Darling Baby Emma who is now 18 months and walking everywhere, especially wherever the Big Kids go.

Darling Baby Meg, pooped from the trip and giving me a much-needed break on the way plane ride back.

Bitsie, Cousin PJ and me at the Christmas Party.

Pop with his oldest grandchildren.

Most likely Mom's Christmas card.

I love that neither of them seems to sure here.

Drake, Andy and Ben at the flight museum.

Susan stuck in the control tower.

Me with Meg with her bow and darling Christmas dress and matching red tights.

All four grandbabies in matching pajamas. I have about 20 variations of this photo. It was like herding cats to get them all together and in the end, not on picture was great of everyone.

Merry Christmas

Once the stomach bug left the building and I got some rest and stopped acting like a baby, we had a really nice visit. Here are the highlights:

1) Megan and Andy had a blast together. They are at that great age where they just got together, giggled and ran off to play toys. They didn't need help although they were able to cause mischief. He had the best time of anyone and wants to come to Texas all the time. Hard to blame him since he got to stay up late, watch movies, eat crap and play all the time.
2) Playing Fact or Crap on Christmas day with Mom, Elizabeth, Uncle Bobby and Bjorn.
3) Watching Andy and Megan delight in picking presents out from under the tree and getting Great Uncle Bobby to tell them whose name was on it so they could distribute it.
4) The pedicure/lunch present from Mary.
5) The deep tissue massage at the DCC, compliments of Dad.
6) Dad calling Andy "Byron" all week and Andy totally getting that they're both Byron.
7) Megan saying ,"Grandmother loves malt liquor," on command.
8) Watching Wall-E and Enchanted with Mom and Dad.
9) Seeing family, including cousins Susie and PG from Austin, and friends.
10) Watching Susan have to climb to the top of the tower at the Frontiers of Flight Museum.
11) Trying to get group pictures of lots of little kids. Talk about herding cats.
12) Meg saying, "Hi" and waving to everyone.
13) Emma and Meg sort of eyeing each other up. I love thinking that they'll be buddies some day like Megan and Andy.
14) Watching Mom take her "Christmas thong" out of her stocking.
15) Watching the Big Kids run around the track on Christmas Day with Pop.
16) Coming home to a clean house and getting everyone into their own beds.

It was a good trip, but I am glad I won't have to fly with two little kids for a little while. That was exhausting!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nothing says vacation quite like a stomach virus

We are in Dallas. The flight was mostly uneventful and the kids were generally well behaved. The added wrinkle was Meg's diarrhea that forced me to make four or five diaper changes in a three hour flight. Fortunately, I packed enough. Her poor little bottom was very red and had red welts, and by Sunday, her symptoms seemed to be getting worse rather than improving. A call to the pediatrician back home resulted in instructions of a 1/2 teaspoon on Children's Kaopectate and a diary-free diet for 24 hours to try to give her system a chance to heal. As a precaution, I also took her to see my childhood pediatrician, Dr. Pharo, who at 83 is still practicing and has probably seen everything. He also cracks me up since he seems sort of old school about things.

He echoed the Kaopectate although he said I could give her adult if I wanted -- the children's just has flavoring. That and diet, he said, should improve things quickly. He advocated no wheat for a few days, including Cheerios or anything else with gluten, and said to go for rice krispies or other rice-type foods. He said she could start drinking 2 percent milk. "Formula?" I asked. "What's she still drinking formula for? You can switch to milk at 8 months? Well, no sense switching her right now. You can give her a little bit of diary, so two ounces instead of six. And be sure to slather her bottom with Desitin or some other zinc oxide as that stomach acid will burn a hole in her skin if you're not careful."

Last night she slept well for the first time since we arrived on Friday, sleeping about 8:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The previous few days she had woken up at 4:30 a.m. My mother even gave me a break and got up with her until Andy got us up at 7:30 a.m. It is amazing how much better every one's mood is when when we've gotten a little sleep and symptoms seem to be improving.

Meg is also going through full-blown separation anxiety right now. To be fair, there is a ton going on and she really cries out when I leave the room or try to put her down. Some of it is probably her not feeling well, but I'll be happy when this phase passes.

Andy, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. He loves playing with his cousin Megan, aged 4, and a little with Baby Emma, aged 18 months. He is also loving all the added attention from his aunts and grandparents. It's been fun to watch. I am hoping Meg will stay on the mend so I have more time (and energy) to play with the big kids and adults. And maybe even drink plenty of wine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I walked into my babysitter's house this week and Meg crawled around the corner and said, "Hi." It was so perfect and adorable, I nearly fell over. I scooped her up for a hug and kiss, she smiled and pushed me away so she could go back to crawling.

She has said, "Mama" before and really seemed to mean me, and now she can with some regularity say, "Hi" on command (well, only when it's her command really, of course).

We leave for Dallas tomorrow and, on cue, Meg seems to have some type of stomach bug. She had a lot of loose stools yesterday and then some full blown (heh) diarrhea last night. I am experimenting with some soy formula that I have a sample of and Ayesha was going to give her rice and other carbs today to try to help solve the problem. I also gave her some yogurt this morning and could hear my mother's mantra in my head about the "good" bacteria. Hopefully the combination of treatments and time will cure her before our trip.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home improvement

Before with the old aluminum, sliding windows.

During when they removed all the old aluminum frames.

Installing the new windows.

Viola! All shiny, new and pretty!

Another classic

Andy: "Uh, Mom, am I wearing any underpants or am I going 'ammando?"
Me: "'Ammando?"
Andy: "Yeah, 'ammando, without underpants."
Me: "You mean commando?"
Andy: "Yeah, cuh-manndo."
Bjorn: "Okay, I did teach him that one."
Me: "..."

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Me: "Andy, why are your hands in your pants?"
Andy: Smiles, "I'm just tickling my penis. Tickle, tickle, tickle!"
Me: "..."
Bjorn: "I didn't teach him that!"

Friday, December 12, 2008


Meg is now standing everywhere. It's been amazing how quickly she's picked it up. I turned around yesterday to find her standing in the kitchen holding on to the kid drawer with all the sippy cups in it. She then proceeded to stand there while she took each top out, licked it and threw it on the floor.

She has also figured out how to climb the landing step on our stairs and is already turning the corner gunning for the rest of them. Although I do have one baby gate that I keep at the top of the stairs, I had borrowed the others I used with Andy from a friend who has since relocated to Missouri. I am thinking I need to invest in a couple to put at the bottom of the stairs in the living room. Otherwise, I'm going to spend my time defending against the stairs.

The Christmas march is on and I am loving watching Andy really get into it. Some things he still finds a little hokey, like the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas special from 1974 narrated by Joel Grey. I can't say I blame him. It was pretty bad. We also watched the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer claymation show from 1964 (I know, 1964, and it still holds up). We liked that one a lot although Andy was really scared about the Abominable Snow monster to the point that he cried he was so scared. That prompted a nice talk afterwards about how monsters aren't real and it was just a TV show.

Meanwhile, I am a little confused how I'm going to pull off this Santa business. The theories just don't hold up -- I tell him the monster isn't real, but then he's to believe Santa and Rudolph are? That doesn't even touch on how to react when we see Santa in the mall. Is that the real Santa? What about the Santa that just drove through our neighborhood on a firetruck? Good thing he's not doing any logic theorems on this or I'd be busted in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hester Prynne

Little Miss Margaret can stand. Problem? She can't sit down. Last night, as we entertained Vickie and Christian on a Monday of all remarkable things, she was having trouble settling down. After Andy came down tell me, "Mom, um, Baby Meg is crying," I went up to find that she was indeed sobbing -- real tears, no less -- as her arms were stuck over the side of the crib and she couldn't figure out how to get down. It was tragically adorable. She did sort of remind me of Hester Prynne there in the stocks. Wait, did the Scarlett Letter actually have anything to do with that or am I mixing my classics?

I believe we are days, if not hours, away from the cruising stage. Heaven help us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy Holidays

Hey look! A picture of the four of us! Together!
We went to Alexandria yesterday in theory for the parade of lights where boats are decorated for the holidays and cruise by. This sounded great except for two things -- apparently the parade started at 6 p.m., not at 4 p.m. like I thought (that's when the music started or something), and secondly, that is was snowing. We ended up tooling around for a couple of hours and then getting home late, like 6:30. Both kids were good sports even though it was late and cold.
Knock wood, but Meg is usually a pretty good sleeper. The problem lately is that she is getting up earlier and earlier, like the unholy hour 5:45 a.m., and eagerly and enthusiastically ready for the day. The books I've read say that an earlier bedtime actually makes them sleep later, but I'm pretty hard pressed to get her to bed at 6:30 p.m. like I want to. I'm a little curious to see how things are going to go when we're in Dallas, what with all the festivities, alcohol consumption by myself and falling back an hour to Central Time.
I also haven't exactly figured out the configuration for the plane. We got seats for all four of us (thanks, Mom!). Andy will be easy so long as the batteries to the DVD player work, but I haven't decided about Meg. She's long outgrown the baby car seat that would be really easy to hook into the airplane seat. We have a cool car seat/stroller combo (again, thanks Mom!), but it's a little bulky and I think I'd like to have a better stroller with me in Dallas. We don't need car seats since my mother has an extra set in her cars for my nieces. She's really a little too small still to sit in a seat without anything propping her up, and most importantly, stapping her down so she can't run anywhere. Thoughts and suggestions?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mundane excitement

The new washing machine arrived yesterday. It looks surprisingly...just like a washing machine. The difference is this one doesn't leak and is more energy and water efficient. The rest of it, well, eh. It was a nice Christmas present to ourselves though.

I initially really wanted one of those fancy front loaders, but the reviews from my friends and Consumer Reports was pretty mixed and for the additional $700, I wanted to get something I really loved that worked great. So instead, I have this basic white one.
The best surprise of the whole thing is the laundry room. I spent some time yesterday cleaning and organizing getting ready for the Sears guys. The result is a room that at least looks a lot bigger. I even figured out how to finally fold up the child bike trailer so I can eventually get it up into the attic.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Andy's language continues to explode. I swear, once a day he says something that I think to myself, "I need to write that down." And then it's gone and he's on to the next thing. Some of the stuff he says just cracks me up. Here are a few:

"No, I'm not ready just yet." What he always tells me when we're getting ready to leave.
"We haven't done that in ages!" He's latest favorite exclamation.
"I'm sad about that." Accompanied by pouty face.
"Let's look at the weather. Is it going to be sunny today?" He loves my weather station.
"Reuse. Reduce. Recycle." Thanks Bob the Builder!

He's also developing quite a repertoire about his boy parts.

"My penis is full."
Or the corollary, "I don't have to pee. My penis is empty."
"When you get big, you can get a penis, too." Lucky me!
"She doesn't have a penis." Usually something said relatively loud to the older lady at library or grocery story.

Updated: Andy had another gem I just remember. At bath time, the other night, he told me, "I'm getting so big. When I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be big. And I'm going to have a big penis." When I told Bjorn the story, he naturally said, "A big penis like his father?" but sadly for Bjorn, that's not what he said.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I did something nice this week. I wrote a letter to Andy's school telling them how great his teacher is. We really like her. In fact, there were a few weeks over the summer and fall where she was out of town and then working in the office. Those were not good weeks for us. Andy was out of sorts at drop off and never really seemed in sync. Once she returned, all that went away. She also seems to really care about him and is great about communicating with us.

I got the idea from the Ask Amy column. I'm a little ashamed to admit I read Ask Amy, but I usually start with the Washington Post by reading Page 3 of the Style section for the gossip. Then I go to the very awesome Carolyn Hax and then if there's time or I have the page open when shoving baby food into a person, I may read Amy. Anyway, there was a recent thread about giving teachers gifts for the holidays. A teacher wrote in to say the gifts are nice, but what they love are letters to the administration about their skills as well as homemade stuff made from the kids.

It was nice to write the letter. Better yet, by submitting it, I turned Ms. Paris in for an award with the school and she's going to get recognized. I sent the copy to the director and printed out a copy to give to her in person. I gave it to her at the end of the day and she told me the next day that she almost cried. How sweet is that? And yes, I am a little proud of myself. The whole experience was so great though that I am on the hunt for other great people that I can say nice things about.

Monday, December 01, 2008


It is so much fun having an almost four year old at Christmas time. Andy is so incredibly excited about all of it. He remembers Christmas trees from the year before, but the rest of it all seems new. Last night we hung the stockings (including baby Margaret Anne's, thanks Mom!) and he was thrilled to see his name. Well, until this morning when he started telling me that he wanted more Santa on his stocking although he's quite pleased that only he and Meg have bells on the bottoms on theirs.

Bjorn's mom gave the kids advent calendars and he was so excited to get up this morning and open number 1, not only because it has chocolate behind it. I tried to explain that we count down until Christmas and it's clear I need to teach the kid something about religion.

Me: Andy, whose birthday is on Christmas? Is it Jesus' birthday?
Andy: ...Birthday? Is it my birthday?

Perhaps I should invest in some religious toys like this one.