7.29.2008

News or Just a Crime Report?

I know I'm late to the party in complaining about this, but it's just to the point of being absurd. Our local television news has degenerated to nothing but arrests, suspects sought, and crimes occured, with a little weather and sports on the side.

Every evening I get home with the kids around 4:45. Pooper gets to watch 2 episodes of Thomas (I might ff through the ads and oops maybe a little of the episode too) then we catch the end of the national network nightly news, and then the local news come on at 6. And it's nothing but crime. I get so frustrated I pick up the remote and start going through the channels.

"Police have issued this sketch of the suspect -"

"The body was found on E. Riverside drive by a woman and her father -"

"- Today was indicted on six counts of indecency with a child -"

COME ON, PEOPLE.

The only real local news I have left now is the Statesman daily, the Chronicle weekly, and the Community Impact monthly. This is ridiculous. Such a shame that local television news has gone so far into the trash. I wish I could have the news on with the kids while I finish making dinner and discuss local government, civic events, health news and other items of interest with them rather than opting for HGTV so we don't have to listen to the grisly details of the latest murder-suicide parading as "news."

7.23.2008

CDC Vaccination Schedule

The little one turned 9 months old last month, so at her 9-month wellbaby appointment I asked her pediatrician about perhaps spacing out some of the next vaccinations. She opened her mouth and breathed fire and melted my eyeballs right down my face.

Our pediatrician is one of the leading proponents of timely vaccination of children. She is also as vociferous as she can be about vaccine saftety, especially when it comes to Autism. So, we spent the remainder of the visit with her venting about all of the misinformation and fear and paranoia fed by the media, and I did a lousy job of redirecting the conversation to the many other risks associated with vaccines - encephalopathy, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease - what with the melted eyeballs and all.

And let me not add to false hysteria - I have yet to find a study that has found a positive correlation between vaccines and any of the above conditions. But, and as usual it's a big but, every one of the studies that I found was an epidemiological study. We don't know yet what triggers these conditions to arise in some kids and not in others, although we have a handle on several contributing factors. But why one child's system deteriorates to disease but another's health is resilient, when each is exposed to the same environmental stressors and pathogens, is not yet understood.

Our particular pediatrician, while she was completing her residency, had a 7 year-old girl brought in to the ER by her distraught parents with a sudden 106 fever who had the chicken pox. She had open blisters and a staph infection had invaded through one of them; her entire body was shutting down. She was put on IV antibiotics and taken to ICU, but her heart gave out before the night was over. Can't blame our doctor for being so deeply passionate about vaccinations coming from that sort of personal experience.

So, yes, I want to vaccinate my child. But there's so many of them now, and we still understand so little about the connections between vaccinations and why some children have these extraordinary adverse reactions - even death - and some don't. I feel like I'm playing Russian Roulette every time we go in for more shots. Then I look at the decisions and opinion at the website for the Court of Federal Claims under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and I get a little freaked out.

I've considered changing pediatricians, but that still doesn't solve my dilemma of what to vaccinate for and when. The CDC seems to take the approach of get as many as you can as fast as you can. I know there are alternative schedules out there, but I'd like to see some science backing them up.

I'm in a stew about this one. Ugh.

Doggie Congestive Heart Failure

My dear canine companion of lo these 15 years - predating DH and the kids and even graduation from grad school - is taking four prescription meds now (thankfully much cheaper than people meds) to keep him sufficiently oxygenated in spite of having a bum ticker.

He has a heart with valve problems, which he has tolerated more or less all his life. Now, however, the fluid accumulating in his lungs resulting from the blood not getting pumped through the heart adequately is starting to be a constant bother to him. Besides having him on heavy diuretics to try to keep the fluid out of his lungs, he's on potassium supplement, Vetmedin which is supposed to be helpful for this condition, and a bronchiodilator to help him get more air into his lungs.

He's a very sweet dog, his clouding eyes are still bright and shining, he still has significant spring in his step, and if it wasn't for the coughing and hacking, you'd think he was half his age. And yet, at our last appointment, the vet said that his heart wasn't just bad, it was terrible.

My dog frequently makes me nuts with his whining and begging during dinner time and insistence on being underfoot in the kitchen while I'm rushing around to make dinner, get a baby fed, and monitor Griffin and Ada. But I love him dearly. I am finally having to come to grips with the fact that he is, after all, mortal. I have such conflicted feelings about this. Thankfully the meds seem to have made him more comfortable.

7.14.2008

Voluntarily and Not So Voluntarily Saving Money

My personal assistant quit today. She was lovely and sweet and had to quit for health reasons and I will never find someone else as cheery and efficient and just perky as her. Now I'm worried for her and will have to bug her to make sure she's okay.

I've also decided to have a go at making dinners again. I'm watching cooking shows on the DVR (favoring Ellie Krieger and Jamie Oliver at the moment - mostly I just covet his garden and rustic kitchen and dishes and food prep gadgets). All in all, this should save us a hefty chunk each month. And I may lose my mind, which should help me save on gas.

7.10.2008

The Opposite of Co-Sleeping

If co-sleeping means having everyone together in a big family bed, snuggled warm and close, what's the word for everyone sleeping separately in their own beds, with their own night-time sleep preferences (white noise v. quiet, sheets tucked in v. loose, cat on the bed v. not) intact and not disturbing the other sleepers?

Well-rested?

In our house, we all have our own room and bed for sleeping. We have four bedrooms, and each child is in their own room, Kirby's in the guest room with a loud fan and the cat, and I'm in the master bedroom, quiet and peaceful. Kirby and I each have a monitor so we can hear our assigned sleeping child if they should wake up crying or roll off the bed or whatever. Him, so he can hear it over the fan (and he's a heavy sleeper), and me, because I'm down the hall from Ada's room and might not hear her if she woke up.

I'm getting better nights of sleep now than at any other time previously in our marriage. And you know what? It's good for our family. It's good for me as a parent to be well-rested. It's good for our marriage that Kirby doesn't have the guilt, and me the frustration, of being woken up multiple times in the middle of the night by his kicking his legs during a vivid dream, or coughing from allergies, or turning on the bathroom light for a nighttime call from nature. I'm a very light sleeper, so having kids or animals in the bed is out off the question. I adjusted once during college when I lived in a dorm room that was just off of the main stairwell. I learned to sleep through loud students coming and going at all hours, some coming back from too many drinks and making way too much noise at a really cruel hour. I got used to it and slept. But I guess I'm too old for this now. And sleep is more important than ever, because it's so precious when it's so hard to come by.

I think there are studies out there - outdated studies - that cast sleeping in separate bedrooms as a marital red flag. I don't think that's a judgement that can be made across the board for all situations. Sleeping in the same bed is just a small part of the whole picture of marital intimacy. And if sleeping in separate bedrooms is the only means of getting a good night's sleep without interfering with each other's sleep habits, then it seems there may be more good than bad to it. Including for the health of the marriage.

7.06.2008

Outsourcing It All

I'm sure some media-type will come up with a catchty word for this, because it has to be some sort of trend, even in this dodgy economy. Maybe especially in this dodgy double-income and then some economy. As a lawyer, I bill by the hour. Plus, because my work is more flexible for hours and location, and since Kirby's job and career (and insurance) are the primary financial supports for the household, 98% of the domestic responsibilities - errands, appointments, repairs, service arrangements, shopping, supplying, ordering, cooking, cleaning, dropping off, picking up - fall to me. With a 3 year old and baby, and also trying to work, things get nutty. I get nutty.

About a month ago, it occured to me that, if it wasn't billable and it wasn't spending time with the family, I didn't want to do it anymore. And if freeing me up from some of this stuff helped me to be able to bill just a few more hours a month, then it was worth it and may even pay for itself. So I decided to outsource everything "else" that I do to outside vendors.

Now I have a cleaning service come twice a week for an hour to tidy up, mop floors, and do one major chore. I'm ordering dinners for delivery every Monday. And I just hired a personal assistant who helps with everything else for a few hours a week. There are still some chores for me to do, the largest being the laundry, on top of the daily picking up, washing, loading and unloading the dishwasher. And there's still meal prep to do - I only order one full dinner and then maybe some sides and put something together quickly. But Thursdays we have leftovers, Fridays we order pizza, and Saturdays we eat out or order in, so there's been a significant reduction in the time spent on making dinner. And the assistant can't do everything, but she can do a lot, and it helps. In the two weeks since she's started, all of the burned-out lightbulbs have been replaced, the fridge got cleaned out, she's done my grocery shopping (twice), gotten my broken shoes repaired, and found a handyman to install the baby-gate.

I'll probably start pulling back on some of the services as the kids become more and more self-sufficient. Ada weaning from the bottle this fall will give me back about 3 hrs/day on the weekends, and an hour on weekdays. And oh, not to be washing and mixing bottles every night. And then once she moves down to just one nap, I'll be able to run errands with both kids much more easily, since I'm firm about having her in her crib for each nap. So all of this assistance is just temporary, but it's great while I have it. I wonder what the trend-wathers will call it ... House-sourcing?