Floods, Fires, Broken Old Cars And Clogged Furnaces! The Drudgery Continues…

2018-01-13_summitfireSo far 2018 hasn’t started out very well for me or some of my family, but I’m not complaining because as bad as it’s been, it’s nowhere near what the majority of humanity has to deal with on a daily basis. I am also very well aware of that and always want to be doing more, but I get so bogged down with my own little trials and tribulations, that I am almost useless for anything other than dealing with my own little life.  Even though there have been a lot of bad things happening recently, me and my family ended up okay after it all, so I’m grateful. I was just hoping that after seven years of college, I wouldn’t end up just being a New Jersey housewife, but the way things are going, the drudgery just gets more and more instead of less and I have so little time to do anything else, that it seems hopeless a lot of the time.

As most people do, I made some new year’s resolutions with the best intentions, but those intentions haven’t paned out — no surprise there!   So I will just journal a little bit about what has happened so far, and afterwards, trudge on like I always do and hope for a better day for myself and the rest of humanity.

In my own little world, I began the holiday season with the usual amount of exhaustion and stress, but things quickly escalated until by the week between Christmas and New Year’s I succumbed  to a head cold and slight fever. No big deal for me with all of my other numerous ailments and chronic autoimmune condition. Hey, when you’ve had over 6 surgeries including having some organs removed, a head cold is nothing, but it did make the week miserable.

And so, my mother and father came to visit for Christmas Day and stayed over night. We had a nice day, or at least, they did. I had only my usual 5 hours of sleep, or maybe less that night and was in charge of cooking the turkey dinner. We eat turkey for Christmas and Thanksgiving since my husband is from The United Kingdom originally and has always traditionally eaten turkey for Christmas dinner right after the Queen’s Speech! My dad went home on Boxing Day (for non-Brits) that’s the day after Christmas.  My mother lives nearby in NJ, about 20 minutes away, so I drove her home with

E and K and my mother went inside her apartment while I parked the car. When I walked in they were all in a panic because the kitchen sink was backing up, over the counter and onto the kitchen floor. They were frantically pulling out the garbage pail and recycling bins from under the sink to catch the water and I frantically starting turning off the kitchen taps and getting covered in water at the same time (later I realized that it was all of the upstairs neighbors dirty dish water) and I had just showered and put on clean clothes that morning. A major feat in itself. We had a triage line going from the kitchen to the bathroom tub to collect the kitchen sink water and drain it into the tub. Finally, the sink was almost empty of the murky, brown water and we called the super.  It turns out that the drain to the street was clogged and nobody in that part of the apartment building could use their sinks until the next day when plumbers arrived to clean the drain. We managed to have dinner by using water from the bathroom sink. Thank goodness the water didn’t have to be turned off in the bathroom too!

My mother’s dishwasher was broken from getting water in the electrical components, but the CO-OP that she just moved into in September offered to pay for it to be fixed. So that episode was over, but not a fun thing to happen when you are 76 and just recovering from a very stressful and exhausting move from Brooklyn, NY to  New Jersey after living in NYC for 20 years.

She sold her CO-OP there to buy one here and all of the logistics were quite time-consuming to coordinate, especially when things didn’t go so smoothly. Luckily, my mom is still a “sharp tack” and noticed the discrepancies that would have had her lose out on thousands of dollars by mistake, among other issues that arose during the sale and purchase. I am also grateful that I didn’t have to help her much with all of that. On top of my other responsibilities, I would have totally lost my mind. I just helped her during the week in September when she finally moved in. I’m good with a box cutter and opened about fifty boxes for her to unpack, among other various and sundry chores.

I left E and K with her for a day or so to catch up on other house chores and shopping with my husband Mr. S.  Since the kids hate shopping and make  a tedious miserable chore, even more miserable. We finally planned to take a much needed break and go see the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. but E didn’t want to see it, so we picked up K and left E with grandma for another day. While me, Mr. S and K were at the movies, grandma and E were watching a car catch on fire directly across the street from her apartment! The fire department came and put the fire out, but it was certainly another bit of excitement for the night at my mom’s new place.

After this episode, things seemed like they were going to be okay, but on the day before New Year’s Eve after complaining that she was having trouble sleeping because her wrist was bothering her, she finally was having a sound sleep after using a brace/bandage that helps with carpel tunnel, she was considerate to wait until 9am to call me in the morning to tell me that her doorbell rung at 2am the night before by the super’s son telling her to pack her bags because the apartment building next door was on fire and she might have to evacuate! My poor mom, who just moved, unpacked, settled in,  and  finally getting some much needed rest, was now faced with packing only the few prized possessions that she could fit into two suitcases. Waiting until the morning to find out if she would need to evacuate, she had to call the fire department to find out if she could go back to bed.

I feel terrible for the people that lived in the other building and are now homeless, but grateful that my mother was able to stay in her new apartment, especially after she just moved! I was in a fire about twenty years ago, so I am very familiar with facing the idea of losing all of your prized possessions, but that is a story for another time… It is also good news that nobody was seriously hurt in this particular fire or the one that I lived through.

As an aside, my mother was feeling a bit freaked out by the fact that most of the new people she’s met since moving  all had other tragedies befall them in the last few weeks — a stroke, auto accident and stays in the hospital among other tragedies! Yeeash!

So, I suppose that was really lucky for us, but it just hasn’t been a stellar beginning to a new year. Including a subsequent cold snap of three weeks with subzero temperatures and E & K being home from school for two snow days after winter break. So much for my settling down to work on new songs or continue with my New Year’s resolution to practice guitar every day. Oh, and genius me, I put a light on a pipe in our basement for the kitchen bathroom sink that tends to freeze in winter, because some idiot decided to install the pipes along the outside wall in like 1928’s when our house was built.  I put one of those new energy efficient light bulbs in the lamp and it didn’t give off any heat! Duh. I’m just glad the pipe didn’t burst and said lamp has been refitted with a proper hot bulb!

And in more fun news,  just after the new year,  our steam heat furnace became clogged and I had to call a plumber to come and look at it. It still isn’t fixed and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will keep working until we can get it cleaned out and repaired in spring.

We also have two cars, one ancient Subaru Forest that will be twenty years old in 2019. We’ve been holding onto it so that we can keep two cars. It comes in handy to have two cars on the weekends when the kids have birthday parties, travel soccer and I’m doing my face painting jobs to make extra money (long story).  The Subaru has been smelling like exhaust fumes so badly that you can’t even drive the car without the windows open and I kept thinking that it would explode at any minute. I told Mr. S. that we should take it in for service, but he didn’t want to spend the money on such an old car, so we were going to wait until the next oil change. I guess it’s luckily that the check engine light finally went on and the car started rocking back and forth violently, so we were forced to take it in for service. I’m so glad it didn’t explode while I was driving it! We decided to have it fixed and sink more $ into it instead of buying another car. It’s weird, but it’s the first car I’ver ever owned and I’m actually a bit emotionally attached to it. Weird, right? I feel better that we didn’t leave it in such a sorry state and gave it a tune-up, new brakes and spark plugs, plus replaced the oil valve that was leaking and fixed the problem that was causing the fuel to go into the oil tank! I know nothing about cars, but it sounds like a recipe for an exploding car and I really didn’t want to go that way, especially with my kids in the car too!

Keir is Born!

Keir is born! Our second son is finally here! He was born at 2:15pm weighing 7.1 lbs. I had another scheduled C-Section because of my previous fibroid surgery and because it was 38 weeks instead of 38.5 weeks, I was required to have another amniocentisis to make sure that the baby’s lungs were ready. I didn’t want to have another amnio but I would have had to have the baby on July 8th, or take the chance of having him on July 4th if I went into early labor. I had to fast after midnight with no water or food.

We arrived at the hospital at 8am and went to the third floor of St. Barnabas Hospital to the P.E.T. department. I forget what that stands for, something about prenatal treatment. They had me undress, put on a gown and go into a room for the amnio. I didn’t have the pre-admission blood work done because I wasn’t sure that I would be having the baby that day, and I’m sorry I didn’t because I had this horrible technician take blood and insert an IV into my arm. The IV hurt, but what was worse, and one of the worst parts of the whole experience, was that when she tried to take some blood for testing, she used the inside of my arm where I always get a horrible bruise and she couldn’t get the blood so she kept digging into my vein for what seemed like an hour! It was excruciatingly painful while another nurse was asking me all these questions about my medical history. Needless to say, I had a tremendous bruising on my arm for weeks after that.

The most difficult part of having Keir was waiiting the first few hours for the amniocentisis and then waiting for the C-section, plus the never ending blood tests and doctor’s visits. The genetic testing, then the bloodwork, and amniocentisis, and the special injections of RhoGam that I had to receive because I’m blood type A-. But, waiting for the results of this second Amniocentisis was very uncomfortable because they made me stay lying down on this very uncomfortable cot, not really a proper bed — half propped up and half lying down. I felt like I was sufffocating while watching NBC’s Good Morning America on the TV that was on in the room the entire time while my sore left arm was throbbing from the blood testing vein poking done earlier. Dr. Miller, the male doctor that did my amniocentisis was very straightforward and explained everything. The amniocentisis wasn’t that bad, especially compared with the earlier vein poking episode in my arm. Peter was there with me for the whole procedure, and we made a joke that he should sit down in case he fainted over me during the procedure, and I explained that he hadn’t had any breakfast either, poor guy! All these interns/residents came in to ask me more questions, and then I finally got the results that the babies’ lungs were ready and I could have him born that day! That was exciting news, but there was a traffic jam in the surgery rooms, so I had to wait and wait until about 1:30pm before they finally had me walk to the operatiing room. I got up on the table while Peter changed into some scrubs. He had to wait outside while they gave me a spinal/epidural. I was instructed to sit on the table with my feet together and back hunched over while they injected the needle. It was a little painful, but the worst part was that the room was freezing and I started shivering.– partly from nerves, partly from cold, and partly from low blood pressure from lying on that awful cot for so long. It seemed like the anesthesia took a very long time, and I started to get worried that they would start cutting before I was numb. Dr. Sandy Yeum, my OB/GYN assured me that she wouldn’t start the procedure until I was numb and they keept testing my face and then my torso with a cold compress to see if I could still feel. She pinched me and I said ouch! But finally the anesthia started working and they let Peter come into the operating room.. While I was lying on the table with both arms stretched out like on a cross, I started shivering a lot , but once the anesthesia started working, I felt warmer. All these different people kept looking at me to ask if I was okay. There was a funny Asian guy that I think was the chief anesthetist, but I’m not sure. He looked at me upside down and asked if I was okay. For a minute, I thought it was Peter. Peter took forever to come into the room. I guess they wouldn’t let him until I was sedated/numb enough. Doctor Yeum asked him if he had brought his camera and he had left it with his knapsack in the other room and it was too late to get it! I was so scared, more than I was with Ellery for some reason. I guess because I was so cold and still feeling things.. I finally got numb enough and they started cutting. I could still feel a bit, especially when they got down to the last layers of Uterine tissue, and then suddenly, the sounds of a baby crying. Peter said he could see Keir crying with his head sticking out of my body before they had totally taken him out.. Very different from Ellery who was much quieter and only did a big pee when he came out and didn’t cry at all. After they cleaned Keir and weighed and measured him, they brought him to me and put him right up to my face so that he was routing around on my face! I gave him a big kiss and a quick look and then they took him away! Then I felt much better knowing that they would be closing me up. I asked them to show me the Placenta and so they brought it over in a stainless steel tray. It really did look like a hugh red steak or something. Yuck! But interesting nonetheless. I had wanted to donate the cord blood etc. and even brought a kit to the hospital, but was sad to hear that the doctor wasn’t able to get the correct materials for donation. I never really understood the explaination fo why and I honestly feel like they just could’n’t be bothered with it, but maybe they really did try and didn’t have the right equipment. In any case, I had to have one of the nurses go hunting for the box for me, since it had some personal confidential information in it. I asked for it as I was shivering in the recovery area. It was so sweet and nice when Peter was sitting by my side and said that he had to excuse himself to go off and cry somewhere because he was overcome with emotions. It made me feel very proud and honored to hear him say that. I was very cold and shivery, but felt better when they put a heating pad on me and wheeled me to my private room. Peter stayed with me on this sad little fold-out chair with one sheet and a pillow,. I thought I was better and tried to eat an ice cube, but felt like I was about to puke, so I had to stop that. I don’t remember when I finally ate something. I think it was in the middle of the night when I finally had a bit of Jello or something. They finally brought Keir into our room after what seemed like an eternity and I started nursing him right away. He caught on (no pun intended) much faster than Ellery did and was nursing well from the first night, but my breasts were killing me! They hurt so much at first, I thought something was wrong and that he wasn’t latching properly. The nursery nurse said something about “they are like little baracuddas” and it totally felt like that at first. There was also a missunderstanding and Keir was given a bottle one night instead of being brought to me. I got reallly engourged and uncomfortable after that, but I kept nursing him and it got a bit better. After being home with him for a week or so, the pain finally stopped and I realized that he was nursing properly and my nipples just needed to get used to nursing a baby again. I needed to get my calluses back, so to speak. I was very close to finding a lactation consultant, but then the pain went away and nursing was fine. (I purchased a special “hooter hider” that made nursing in public much more discrete and easy. I’m a bit shy and don’t want someone staring at my ta ta’s while I’m nursing.) I nursed Keir in the hospital about every 3 hours and I didn’t get much more sleep than I did when I was in the hospital with Ellery. I did manage to sleep for a few hours one night and felt a bit better the next day. Standing up and walking to the bathroom is always the worst the day after. They make you get up to walk around and it is just awful. You feel dizzy and nauseous and it is so difficult to move after a c-section. The fear is worse than the actual pain a lof ot the time…. so afraid you’ll rip your stitches getting out of the bed etc. And going to the bathroom. Peter was helping me one time and I pulled the emergency call cord by accident. All of the sudden two nurses were in the room asking if I was okay. Oops! We got to take Keir home the day before July 4th and Peter brought grandma Daniela and Ellery to see me and Keir on the second day. Ellery was more interested in playing with the bed controls than looking at Keir. He sort of ignored him when he came into the room and wanted us to put him back in his bed. Ellery got an “I’m a big brother” sticker from the hospital. I was so glad I brought my boppy nursing pillow from home and my own bathrobe. It made the stay more comfortable. When it was time for us to all go home on July 3rd, Peter and I started feeling like we wanted to stay where all the nurses and staff could still help us! “Oh no, we’re on our own now!”. Peter was a nervous wreck driving Keir home from the hospital. He looked so tiny in his Graco Snugride car seat and it was a very hot day. We made it home okay and my mother, father and Ellery were there to greet us. Mom made us dinner and Dad brought me some flowers.

Our New House

The closing date is set for December 15th and we are buying our first house (actually, first house for me, second for Peter as he owned a flat in England). Ellery, Peter, Asia and I will have a house to call our own. We originally began looking Upstate in Rockland County, around the Nyack area, but after making an offer on a 4-bedroom colonial house in Pearl River, NY that was turned down, we started looking in New Jersey and found that there are more of the styles of houses that we like. Peter and I don’t like raised ranches, or even regular ranches. Even though they have a lot of interior space, the outside is bland and reminds me of a trailer. No offense to people that live in trailers or raised-ranches, but they aren’t for us. We love the Colonial, Victorian and Tudor style houses and found many in New Jersey. So we are moving into a 3-bedroom Tudor house with a great finished attic. It isn’t a conventional Tudor, more of a Faux-Tudor with a similar layout to a Side-Hall Colonial.

I don’t have time to go into all the details of the house-hunt at this point, but it started this past July and we finally made our accepted offer in late October. I’m glad I’m forgetting all the grueling details of looking and that my sanity is still somewhat intact. Now to rest up for all the work ahead of packing, painting, repairs etc. etc. This house doesn’t need a lot of work compared to most of the houses we looked at in our price range, but it still has lots of little things that need fixing. Welcome to home-ownership. Now if we can just get a comfortable couch to rest on in between sanding and painting sessions, oh, and a bed, and bookshelves, and …

Ellery is Walking!

It’s finally happening at 16 months and 3 weeks; Ellery has started taking more than two steps without holding onto anything. I was in the bedroom with him today and I looked over at him and he was toddling over to the door. It was a wonderful sight, and so cute the way he holds his arms out for balance. I was starting to think this day would never come, but it’s finally here. They say, “Late walker, earlier talker.” and that is certainly the case with Ellery. He talks up a storm now, repeating all sorts of words that we say (we have to be careful now).  He has a pretty large vocabulary: dog, fan, cheese, air (short for airplane), kitty, feet, knock-knock, go-go-go, more, duck, vac (short for vacuum) and the list goes on.  He loves airplanes and whenever he sees one outside the window or when I’m taking him for a stroll, he points and says “air!”

Ellery is a baby model!

I first sent Ellery’s photos to modeling agencies almost a year ago, and after one modeling job for Knit 1 Magazine in September 2006, Ellery wasn’t called in for any possible work until today. Now he has been called for two "go-sees" just this past week.

Today we went to a “go-see” to be on the cover of the April issue of Parenting Magazine. We got there early and were the 30th applicant. By the time we left, the numbers were up to 74 and more parents with babies were arriving, so the chances of him getting booked for this one are pretty slim.

We also went to a “go-see” last Thursday for a possible medical editorial. Ellery was still getting over his ear infection, so he wasn’t very smiley that day. The photographer said he got some good photos, but we haven’t heard anything yet.

The exciting news is that the winter issue of Vogue Knitting’s Knit 1 magazine is on the stands and Ellery is featured wearing a knit hoodie on page 48! I’m so proud of him. He looks fantastic in the photo. After looking for the magazine everywhere, we finally found a copy at our local Barnes and Noble. It was a proud parent moment! Peter and I have already bought four copies to keep and give to the grandparents. I’m also keeping a copy hermetically sealed under plastic so he can see it in ten years to show all his friends.

Even if he doesn’t get any more modeling jobs, this one photo was worth the trouble of schlepping him to “go-see” — not to mention that he made a few bucks for the college fund as well.

The ear infection and the head cold (a.k.a. The never-ending sickness)

Poor Ellery! Poor me! Poor everyone! Starting the day before Thanksgiving, Ellery became very ill. He started having a mild runny nose on Monday, November 20th (the day Peter left for England) but the symptoms just got worse and worse until Thanksgiving, when I took his temperature and it was 100.8. He was very cranky and not himself. He hardly ate any of our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner of Turkey Lasagna and Italian Turkey sausage. He usually loves pasta and sausage. They are some of the few foods he will eat.

I was so worried about Ellery that I started making a record of his temperature and the times I gave him medication (Tylenol). By the day after Thanksgiving, his temperature went up to 103 and I called the pediatrician’s office. I left a message with the answering service but didn’t get a call back because the doctor on call had a medical emergency himself. His wife was giving birth and we got lost in the shuffle. Every time I gave Ellery Tylenol, his temperature would go down, sometimes even to normal and he would start acting much better, but after his nap on Saturday his temperature shot back up to 104 so I called the doctor’s answering service again and we finally got a call back.

The doctor apologized and explained the situation with the other doctor’s wife giving birth, but he also said that it wasn’t an excuse and we should have been called. After I explained Ellery’s situation and that he seemed to be complaining when we touched his right ear, and having trouble sleeping lying down, The doctor offered to meet us for special hours in his office on Sunday. The office in Manhattan was closed, but he came in especially to see Ellery and a couple of other children with medical emergencies.

Thank goodness we brought Ellery in to see the doctor, because it turned out to be a bacterial ear infection in his right ear. The doctor took one look in his right ear and could see immediately that Ellery needed antibiotics. Thank goodness my mother was helping me and was able to drive us into Manhattan and then to the drug store to pick up the prescription. It was for Amoxicillin and I was instructed to keep it refrigerated and give it to Ellery two times per day. I was dreading giving him the medicine, but another thank goodness, he liked the taste of the medicine. I told him it was orange sherbet. Since he doesn’t even know what sherbet is yet, I don’t think it really made a difference, but the orange flavor that the pharmacy puts into the medicine certainly did.

About a week after Thanksgiving, I finally stopped taking notes, because Ellery didn’t feel hot anymore and his nose was drying-up. He was starting to get that sparkle back in his eyes, and so far he is doing much better. He has a follow-up appointment with the doctor next week to make sure that the infection has cleared up completely, and to get his second flu shot that he was supposed to get last week, but couldn’t because of the ear infection. I hope the antibiotics worked. They seem to have done the trick even though the doctor said there could be a 7% failure rate with Amoxicillin. Fingers crossed….

And then of course, after this ordeal, I came down with a head cold with chest congestion, and my mother, and my father did as well. It must have been from spending time with Ellery on Thanksgiving when he was so ill. Only Peter and our cat Asia remained unscathed.

Peter visiting England for Thanksgiving

Peter left for England today and will be away for a week. Ellery and I are staying home in the US this time. With all of the house-hunting and moving plans, it was just too much for us to try and go with him. Toddlers and long airplane flights don’t mix well.

We decided it was best for Peter to go during the Thanksgiving holiday week and he is English and doesn’t really care about celebrating Thanksgiving. But in more practical terms, I only have to cook a turkey for the Christmas holidays instead of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Peter likes to have turkey at Christmas. Apparently that is an English tradition, so my mother is coming over to the house and we are having lasagna instead. Don’t ask.

My father, Richard, and stepfather Lionel will be joining us, and Ellery and Asia of course!

Ellery is 16 months old!

Ellery is now 16 months old. He is cuter than ever and I think he is finally getting some more teeth. Some of the bottom molars are now coming in. It seems like he’s had the same eight bottom and top front teeth forever (or at least since he first started getting teeth) and I was starting to wonder if the other ones would ever come in. Finally, more teeth!

Mixed Feelings

My feelings about breastfeeding Ellery are very similar to my feelings about being a parent in general. After almost 16 months, we are down to only one breastfeed in the morning when Ellery awakens from his night of sleep. Originally, I had planned to just nurse him until his first birthday and then stop, but after awhile, it became so second nature and more convenient than giving bottles. It’s become so easy and such help when Ellery is sick and won’t eat or drink much of anything else. I can hardly remember how unbelievably difficult it was at first to nurse Ellery in the hospital when he was born, and for the first few months.

For the first 6 months of Ellery’s life, I kept looking forward to the time when I could stop breastfeeding because of how demanding and exhausting it seemed, but now I’m feeling sad that this special bond and closeness will be ending, and I don’t really want it to end.

As a parent, I have mixed feelings as I look forward to Ellery being potty-trained, walking, feeding himself, dressing himself and being more independent. It will be great, but at the same time, I don’t want him to change or grow up because I will miss him as a cute little baby. He’s only 16 months old and I’m already missing the time when he was so helpless and little. He is a toddler now — not really a baby anymore — and when he grows up it will be forever. I will never see that baby again, except in the photos and films we’ve taken and my distant memories. Childhood and especially baby and toddler age is such a precious time that I really want to enjoy this part of Ellery’s life, but it is with mixed feelings. I can’t wait for him to be out of diapers and be more independent, but I’m starting to miss that little baby so.

Oh no! The family intestinal illness…

Oh no, a day after Ellery got sick from the stomach bug, Peter started feeling sick and had to stay home from work for two days. Then a day after Peter got sick, I got sick ( I will spare you the gory details). Luckily, this was one of those 24-hour illnesses where you only feel really sick for about a day and then, just a bit out of sorts, for a few days after.

Ellery seems to be the most stalwart of all of us. He was playing and doing normal baby things just an hour after vomiting. Peter couldn’t get out of bed for an entire day, and I was almost as bad. Another close family bonding experience!