Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shapes = Blowing Mom's Mind

Have you wondered lately, does this chick ONLY talk about that CHILD of hers? Does she think of NOTHING ELSE ALL DAY?

Well, for YOU, I have another post about the minutia of Josephine's life! Sorry.

She's been doing all kinds of crazy and grown-up and mind-blowing things lately. I can't even keep up in her little 2nd-year calendar* and I DEFINITELY haven't gotten enough video footage of her (our video camera is giving me serious Hulk-style rage), but she did something last night and this morning that for some reason, seems so much bigger.  Like, a Holy mother of pearl, who taught you that and should you be able to DO that already? kind of thing. 


Last night I pulled out a bin of toys that have been out of rotation for a little while (gotta keep it fresh!), and inside was the clock I got her for Christmas. 

At the time, she was like, Thanks mom, cute. Moving on. But last night, while I was typing something for work, Jeremy sat down and watched her play with it, and she was PUTTING SHAPES IN THE RIGHT HOLES. EASILY. He had to show her which holes were the right ones, but she was DOING IT. I'll admit, for a while, I thought he was punking me. 

But then, this morning, she went and dragged it out, sat in the middle of the living room, and PUT THE SHAPES IN THE CORRECT HOLES ALL BY HERSELF! (I guess I should have put a warning at the top of this post about the excessive all-caps shouting. Sorry.)

So, of course, I took about 5,000 pictures (mostly because I had to use the camera on my cell phone, which is fine, unless, of course, someone is MOVING -- ANOTHER camera in our house is also giving me the rage, but let's not talk about that).

Look at the brilliance!

Look how proud she is! Now that's a heart-melter!

Some of you may be scratching your heads at my wonder and amazement. Here's the problem. I overdid it when I was pregnant and she was new, and read SO MUCH about EVERYTHING and was a walking encyclopedia of milestones and ridiculous information (no, Jeremy, most babies turn from front to back at blahblah weeks) that I totally overdid it. It was too much and not worth the brainpower. Especially once you realize that if your kid doesn't fall into the "average" timeline, it's usually not a huge deal, so why have you memorized that stuff anyway? So, these days, I get all excited when she does something new, but I'm not out there researching or posting on message boards with frantic cries for help (How old was your little one when they did x y and z??!?!?!). 

Maybe kids should already be able to do this by now and Josie is behind the curve (unlikely, since she is a genius). Who knows? It just seems SO BIG and she did it ALL BY HERSELF since her lazy mother didn't think to introduce it to her any earlier. 

It's just amazing to see this little PERSON. She's not a baby, she's a PERSON. Crazy.

P.S. Two hours after I wrote this, she climbed up in my lap and made me cradle and rock her like a baby for ten solid minutes. :) That kid.

P.P.S. If you came for a leg update, she is wibbly-wobbly every now and then, but she was running around chasing Jeremy last night, so we still have our fingers crossed for a good report at her x-rays on Saturday!

*In my post the other day, I got a few requests for where you could buy the first and second-year baby memory calendars (that my smart and generous mom got me), so I figured I'd share the link. Here it is! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Splint-Free Update

Well, the doctor told us to take the splint off yesterday and see how she was walking. We waited until Jeremy got home at 6, because I wanted him there to help me assess, but also because I thought it would be good to get in another full day of healing. 

In the meantime, my mom came for the day (bless her heart!) and we spent the day trying to keep Josie off her leg. In the morning, we went to two craft stores for selfish purposes, but also because Josephine loves riding around in the cart if she has pretty things to reach out and touch, like fabric and glitter and boas. Then, we went out to lunch and she enjoyed Mongolian Barbecue for the first time. And man, she REALLY enjoyed it. I made her a little plate of noodles, tofu, edamame, pineapple, and green pepper with sweet and sour sauce, added brown rice, and she CHOWED down! She ate her whole plate then ate a lot of my mom's chicken.

Then she discovered the rice spoon.

And how amazing two spoons at once could be. 

By the time Jeremy got home and it was time to take the splint off, I was nervous, but VERY hopeful that we could keep it off, and by golly, she was back to normal, other than a huge raw spot on the back of her knee where the splint had been rubbing (SOB!). 

So, we let her keep the splint off, and she quickly rewarded us by waking up at 9 PM and kicking the sides of her crib with such force that we could hear it downstairs. Perfect. Especially since the doctor told us that it could be fractured, even if she seems to be walking okay after today, and it just started healing. I was just sitting downstairs imagining a fracture that started to heal snapping like a twig. Then, she woke up screaming and sobbing at 2 AM and needed soothing, which has not happened in a L-O-N-G time, so of course I imagined she was in horrible pain. Sigh.

However, things seem to be business as usual today, as evidenced by this dress-up extravaganza:

We still have to go back for another set of x-rays on Saturday, and the doctor warned us that they could find a fracture then and send us home in a cast, but there is also the possibility that she is a-okay. Her knee is a little swollen and has a few bruises, and her knee is the only place where the doctor thought there was a possibility of an abnormality, but apparently toddler knees are all different and are in a constant state of change, so he couldn't be sure if it was normal for her or from the fall, so I guess it could be her knee. However, for now things look okay. 

Thanks to everyone's kind words in the comments, on facebook, and on Twitter. They were all much appreciated. We've got our fingers crossed over here! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

This Was Not What We Had In Mind

WARNING: This post is LONG and DETAILED because I want to be able to look back on it and remember this story to tell Josephine. Feel free to just look at the pictures if you aren't up for it!

Remember when I was like, life is difficult at the moment, but at least Josephine can play outside and enjoy the playground?

Cue dramatic music.

Stupid, Veronica. STUPID.

On Jeremy's first Saturday off in lo, so many years, we stopped at Josephine's new favorite playplace. We played. We frolicked in the long, wet grass, we had a loverly time. When it was time to leave, Josephine was walking and went to step down off the curb to take the path back to the car, and BAM, hit the deck. It was about the 50th time she had fallen that day, so I wasn't all that concerned. I went to help her up, and she was crying. This kid doesn't get that upset when she falls, even if scrapes are involved, so I thought that was weird. I picked her up, and she clung to me and cried the whole way back to the car. Usually, if it is possible for her to walk, she walks, so it was also strange that she let me carry her so far.

We strapped her in and decided to hit the library quickly before heading home to think about what to make for dinner. I put her down, she beamed with excitement at the sight of all the books, tried to take a step, and nearly fell over. She tried about ten times to take steps, and she simply could not put any weight on her right leg. She cried out in pain and looked totally bewildered with every step. She limped a few steps, then just put her arms up for me to get her. I knew something was terribly wrong, and I tried very hard not to panic. 

Since she had wet shoes and pants from the playground, we went home to change her and pack up some things, and I called our on-call physician at the pediatrician's office for advice. After I changed her clothes, I tried to let her walk again, and it was the same thing, only worse. She was DETERMINED to walk on that leg, but just couldn't. I told Jeremy I didn't want to wait and we should just head to the hospital. 

As we pulled out the driveway, we got the call back from the pediatrician, who said to definitely go to hospital, because at her age and in those types of falls, it is very common to have spiral fractures of the tibia, and just watching and waiting wouldn't do her any good, since it was unlikely that it would swell or show any other more obvious signs. 

We headed to the ER. And waited.

And waited. 

And got into a room. 

And waited.

And the doctor finally came and said that something was very obviously wrong and ordered x-rays. How long did we wait for those x-rays? Oh, only TWO HOURS. While trying to make her stay in her stroller, since she just kept trying to walk on the probably-broken leg. It was INTENSE, to say the least.

Let me tell you though, she was SO FREAKING GOOD, considering the circumstances. She found ways to cope in that tiny room, such as noticing this funny face on the "safety tips playscape" and imitating it all night. 

After a while (and a few tears), we gave up on the stroller and let her sit on the bed and just sat her back down every time she tried to stand up. (Sigh, SIGH, DOUBLE SIGH. I do not recommend.)

(getting a kiss from a My Little Pony)

When she finally did get the x-rays, the x-ray tech was kind of freaked out about how cooperative and good she was during her 17,000 x-rays of her foot, knee, upper leg, lower leg, hip, and entire pelvis. He asked if she had been given narcotics. Nope, she's just a good little bean, that's all. 

Luckily, the doctor was able to review her x-rays quickly (and I had seen them all, since I had to be behind the wall to avoid exposure for Baby X, and I got to peek at them all and they all looked normal to me -- and you all know about my M.D. in Awesome, so you know you can trust my opinion). He said he didn't see any obvious fractures, BUT (and of course there had to be a BUT), at this age it is really difficult to see hairline fractures, so since she still couldn't walk on it, and especially because it was so out of character for her, we would have to do a splint and come back in a week for another x-ray. Apparently it is easier to see them once they have started to heal a while? GRRRR.

So, a splint. We waited about a half hour for them to come put it on. And they put on a splint from her butt to her foot, bent 90 degrees at the knee. I almost had a total breakdown. BENT AT THE KNEE? How will we manage this?

However, she was very good for the techs, and they also complimented her on her excellent behavior and said they wished their older clients could be so still and cooperative. 

Then ... she broke it. Yes, she broke her plaster splint five minutes after it finished drying and the tech said, "That's not going anywhere!" Heh. The doctor took one look at it and said, "Well, that's very unusual for a child so young to be so strong. Let's get another one on her." 

At this point, it was an hour and a half past her bedtime, and she had been snacking all day, but had missed dinner time by three-and-a-half hours. It had also been eight hours since Jeremy and I had had anything to eat or drink. I almost had a complete meltdown, and Josephine had her only real minor freak out. Thankfully, it was quickly resolved with an echo microphone from Granny (the last toy left in the bag!). So she spent the entire thirty minutes he was wrapping and holding the fiberglass in place talking into the microphone and making animal sounds. Priceless.

The second splint was fiberglass, and the tech actually said, "There is NO way she is getting out of this one, no matter HOW strong she is!" I freaked. I said, "Now, why would you say that?" This time, the tech sat and held her splint in place for the entire half-hour drying time, and decided it was stronger than her and we were all set ... when he let go, she simply smiled and straightened her leg out. You know, what she WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO WITH THE SPLINT ON. I almost lost it again. 

He went to get the doctor, and when they returned, the doctor said she was obviously bent on destruction, but he wasn't comfortable putting a full cast on her without an obvious fracture. He said we should try our hardest to keep it on her until Tuesday, then take it off and see if she can walk. If not, splint back on, return for x-rays in a week. 

Then we played peek-a-boo until we were FINALLY discharged.

So, while sitting, she can straighten that thing right the heck out, but when she tries to walk on it, she can't quite get it straight, so she can't put her full weight on it, and that is the best we can hope for. 

She's not supposed to walk on it (HA!) and she's supposed to sleep flat on her back with pillows piled under her leg (HA!), but we are doing our best. It is really hard to convince this kid that she shouldn't be walking, and on day two of this splint adventure, she is already getting frustrated. Yesterday when she would try to walk and fall, she would just say "let's go!" and try again. Today, she sits for a while and cries when she realizes she can't do what she wants to. Heartbreaking, to say the least. She also keeps asking for a shoe on her splint foot. Sorry, kiddo. 

All in all, it was a horrible experience, even though I know, OBVIOUSLY, that so many worse things could be happening to our kid, but it also reminded me what a great kid she is. She was as well-behaved as humanly possible and was actually smiling at the end of the night, long after her father and I had thrown in the towel and were acting miserable. She is also so dang determined to do what she wants with this thing on. She's a little inspiration. Jeremy and I stared at her in the monitor last night after she went to bed, with her splint leg flung up in the air and resting on the bars of her crib, and all we could do is say, "Wow ... we love this kid."

AND, we got one of my new favorite pictures of Josephine while she was talking on Jeremy's phone in the waiting room:

Jeremy says the caption is "I am VERY interested in saving money on my long-distance!"

Man, we sure do love this kid.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Days

We are having some ... issues ... over here. The kind you don't talk about on the Internet. BUT, our marriage is tip-top, Josie and Baby X are both healthy, and we have a roof over our heads, so we have the most important stuff covered, right? Right.

So, I am focusing on the things that are making me happy lately. Here are the things I have been loving the most this past week:

1. This WEATHER! Nothing gets Jeremy into a tizzy about how the world is ending and DON'T YOU EVEN CARE, VERONICA? faster than 70s and 80s for weeks straight in March, but DANG I've been in heaven the past few weeks. It looks like it's gone again for the time being, but it was magnificent.  

2. The abundance of park time we have had (thanks to said sign-of-the-apocalypse weather) and how much Josephine LOVES it!

3.  We also spent a lot of time hanging in the backyard, where we played with toys and rode bikes and found treasures like rocks and bugs and nuts (and one berry ... that we won't speak of).

4. And if it's warm enough to hang out in the backyard, it's warm enough for the "three-season room" aka, our porch someone put walls around (totally strange). I love sitting out there in the morning while Josephine plays in her wagon or crawls on my lap or pretends she's a cat. 

watching the storm last night that sent us back to normal weather :(

5. Painting Josie's toenails for the first time with Piggy Paint!

I have always been afraid to paint her nails because I was positive she would eat it off, but my neighbor said this stuff was safe, and she's an honorary healthy hippie, so we borrowed it. Josephine just stared in awe and couldn't stop saying "wow!" in a tiny little whisper, then she couldn't stop touching them when they were dry.

6. Finally catching up on two months of filling out Josephine's second-year calendar. 

Some months I write in it every night, other months I make scattered lists in notebooks then go to my Twitter and facebook to fill in the blanks and make sure I got all the dates right. Two months was the longest time I let it go, and my stomach seriously starting eating itself EVERY NIGHT when I realized with a jolt that I had let another day pass without catching up, so I am SO GLAD it is done. Now, every day is accounted for, and many adorable moments and important milestones have been carefully detailed ... IF she can read my tiny cramped handwriting in those little boxes when she's older.

And there you go: focusing on the good. And now it's time to put the Bean down for her nap -- another good thing! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

I fell in love with John Green when I read Looking for Alaska, and my love for him only grew stronger when I got a copy of The Fault in Our Stars

There is a tremendous list of reasons that I adore John Green's work, but I must say, one of the reasons I recommend his work to everyone is that he has that uncanny gift of making everyone who reads his book feel like he or she was the exact target audience for the book, whether they are a teenager or a senior citizen. His books feel like they were written just for you. As one of the most celebrated Young Adult authors of recent years, he obviously knows how to capture a young audience, but his razor-sharp wit, his cunning wordplay, and the vast knowledge he gives his young characters will have you hooked in the first few pages; I guarantee it. 

Now here's where I have to get all technical and admit it is, in fact, a book about teenage cancer patients. I know, I know. It's hard to commit to picking up a book like that, because you know you are putting your heart at risk of being completely demolished, but I promise you -- it is worth it. The beauty of this novel, the amazing characters, everything -- it is worth having to think about your own mortality or that of your children. It is not one of those books that piles it on, trying to make you feel miserable, it just happens to be about cancer.

In case you hadn't figured it out, I love this book and recommend it wholeheartedly.

If you'd like to see what others in the BlogHer Book Club had to say about this book, click on over and check it out.

As part of the BlogHer Book Club, I was provided with a copy of The Fault in Our Stars and was compensated for this review, but everything written is my honest opinion (because I am mean and would tell you if the book sucked)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Prime Suspect

Lynda La Plante's Prime Suspect is the quintessential crime thriller. Jane Tennison is a woman investigator trying to gain the respect of her male colleagues, and, quite frankly, just get in there and be able to do her job in a workplace that is overtly hostile and unwilling to let a woman do what they consider to be a man's job. Written in the early nineties, it often feels like the sixties in terms of their derogatory comments about women, but then again, I never worked on a murder squad in Great Britain, so I can't comment on the realism factor, can I?

What I loved about the book was that the crime was interesting and you were kept on your toes -- is the prime suspect the guy or not? -- the entire time. What was a little strange to me was that I hated every single character for almost the entire book. I didn't even like the main character, the woman investigator we are supposed to be rooting for, until about 20 pages before the conclusion, when all of a sudden all of the characters become either bearable or likable. It was an interesting phenomenon, but not something to make me dislike the book. It was certainly not something I ever remember happening while reading a book, so I guess that can be good, right? 

I also really liked the Brit-speak and all the fun lexicons, and liked that while it was there, it was not overwhelming for an American reader -- it's all easy to figure out based on the context if you have never heard one of the words before, so it's not like anyone's talking over your head or trying to confuse you. The one thing I have to say I disliked was the way she sometimes would have a very short paragraph, page break, short paragraph on someone else, page break, paragraph on someone else, page break, and on and on and on. I have read a handful of people say it felt like they were reading an episode of Law & Order, but to me it would be like watching Law & Order and hearing BONG-BONG every ten seconds for a solid five minutes. It made me want to bash my head in at times. But at the end of the book when the action gets intense, it totally works, so if you think that's the way a crime novel SHOULD be written, then this is the book for you.

All in all, it's not my favorite book I've ever read, and it's not even my favorite crime/thriller/mystery novel, but if you are the type of person who loves the genre and reads a book a day, I would highly suggest this book. There are also two more Prime Suspect novels that follow Jane Tennison past this book, so if you like it, you have plenty more to read!

This book was reviewed for TLC Book Tours. If you'd like to read what other people had to say about this and the next two books in the series, click HERE to see the full schedule of reviewers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Perfect Homemade Salsa

You know what just SCREAMS St. Patrick's Day? Yup, Mexican food. Much to my husband's dismay, I do not make Irish food (I stood in the kitchen one year while he made corned beef and hash -- NEVER AGAIN), and I have been much too tired this week to be creative with food. BUT, we had friends coming over for dinner, and I decided to go with my favorite fall-back: Mexican.

I thought this was the ideal time to perfect the allusive "perfect homemade salsa" recipe, as I have tried twice before but thought I knew exactly what I needed to do to get it right. I decided to combine recipes from The Pioneer Woman and Mountain Mama Cooks and make a few adjustments here and there, and it was not only simple, but EXCELLENTE.

I went through a major pico de gallo phase, with the big chunks of tomato and onion, but what I have been craving lately is some delish restaurant-style stuff that is nice and blended. Divine. If you want some restaurant-style salsa that is fresh and doesn't have any nasty vinegar or other preservatives, this is the way to go.

Perfect Salsa

1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
2 10 oz. cans Rotel (or just regular diced tomatoes and green chiles)
1/2 of a small onion
1 fresh jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic
A big handful/a little more than a cup of fresh cilantro
juice of one lime

1. Chop the onion and (peeled) garlic. Toss the whole tomatoes along with the onion and garlic in and hit the pulse button 3-5 times to get the big stuff into smaller pieces, but you still want it to be chunky at this point.

 2. Cut the stem off the jalapeno, cut it in half, and remove the seeds if you like mild salsa or leave some in if you like a little heat. Chop into small chunks (they don't need to be very small).

3. Now toss in everything else (both cans of Rotel, honey, salt, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro) into the blender. Unless you have an industrial-sized blender, this might look like a tight fit at the moment. No worries. That cilantro will get small mighty quick.

4. Blend away until the cilantro is small but not minuscule. Once the cilantro is this size, everything else should be perfectly blended.

And ... BOOM. Perfect salsa. Perfect for the chips and salsa snacks I have been craving for months. 

As a warning, because it will be all aerated (or whatever the scientific term is), it will look a little orange-ish at first, and will be kind of bubbly. I put mine in the fridge for at least an hour before serving the first time, then seal it up in jars to keep.

And just so you don't think I'm the heathen wife of an Irish man, let me point out that I did dress my daughter in an adorable t-shirt and whipped together a four-leaf-clover clippie this morning for her hair. So there you go.

Erin Go Braugh everyone! Enjoy your salsa!
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