6.21.2009

Another Ear Infection

Two sets of tubes, adenoids surgically removed, and the little girl got another ear infection, in June. Back on to the antibiotics.

Aaaauuuuggghhh!

The ENT has looked at her ears again, now that the infection's cleared, and says the tubes are still in place and look fine. She may still get the "occasional" ear infection.

So, I've done all the regular care for this; now I'm moving on to chiropractic care. (And I've ruled out food allergies a looooong time ago.)

I absolutely adore our chiropractor. Couldn't say enough good things about him. Not being a father himself, he's a tad awkward with Ada while she does her shy-burrowing-into-mama's-shoulder routine. But when he gets into chiropractor-gear it's a whole other story. I sit on the table and hold her, he scoots in beside me, and he makes adjustments so subtly she isn't really even aware that someone who is not me is touching her. Once she catches on, she starts fussing, but until then, she's great.

I've also started doing light massage around the occipital region before she goes to sleep. Very, very light massage, sometimes just resting my fingers under the weight of her head and letting her move around a little to find the pressure that feels nice to her. She seems to really enjoy it. Dr. Chiro showed me a very subtle movement to do, cupping her head and making very tiny figure 8's in the air, in a flat lateral plane side to side, but the movement is too small and fine for me to manage now, being out of the habit of doing daily bodywork.

I'm hoping that all of this will help to free up the interior anatomy to function as designed, and help her ears to drain, because the PE tubes and lack of adenoids haven't totally cleared the problem. And I really, really hate having to keep putting her on antibiotics. She tolerates them fine; it's the building resistance problem that I'm trying to avoid.

This, too, shall pass.

5.07.2009

Pancakes and Hot Dogs for Dinner

The other night I was trying to figure out, as I was also trying to fall asleep, what I was going to make for dinner the next night. I'm still trying to keep dinner simple, to save money, to save time, to save my and my kids' sanity.

Why not zucchini pancakes? And don't we have some leftover natural hot dogs that need to be eaten? And aren't there a few odd cups of apple sauce lingering in the recesses of the pantry?

I've never seen Griffin so excited about his dinner. He spontaneously thanked me. He's four years old. The zucchini pancakes were so good, and you couldn't even really taste the zucchini. I just added shredded zucchini to my regular pancake recipe.

Zucchini Pancakes

pressed oats for oatmeal
sliced almonds
all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsps vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini

Fill a measuring cup to about 3/4 cup with the oats and put into a food processor. Add in about a fistful of sliced almonds. Grind them together to resemble flour. Pour them back into the measuring cup and top off the mixture with regular flour until you have 1 cup total.

Pour the "flour" into a large bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix lightly with a fork. Add the wet ingredients, including the zucchini, and mix with a spoon until it is generally worked through. Don't overmix or try to work out all the lumps. This is a foolproof batter, and if you overmix it your pancakes will be rubbery instead of fluffy like cake.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a hot griddle. I don't add butter or oil to the pan because the oil in the batter keeps them from sticking, and I use a non-stick frying pan for my griddle (remember to toss those if the non-stick surface has cuts in it and only use a soft, non-metal spatula). The batter should make a soft sizzle as you drop the spoonfuls into the pan. Wait until you can see that the edges are no longer wet and are starting to cook and bubbles have risen in the center of the pancake and popped before you try to flip them. If the pancake is sticking or breaks apart when you try to slide the spatula under it, it isn't ready to flip yet. Don't worry - even the "mistakes" are delish.

Serve hot with butter/heart-healthy spread and maple syrup.

5.05.2009

Going back to full-time work

I'm interviewing. For various reasons, I think it may be time to go back to work on a regular schedule. I'm not worried about the work - that's the easy part. I'm worried about the impact on our lives, on our fabric as a family, on the kids' emotional well-being.

Lots of mama's work full-time. In fact, more mamas work than not, and the majority of those are working full-time. Even mamas with preschool-aged kids.

To prepare for the change, I'm working out what time I'll need to get up in the morning (6:00), how our morning routine will change (I'll shower and dress first, then get dad up with the kids at 6:45, get them dressed and breakfast made while dad showers and dresses, then I'll leave and dad cleans up from breakfast and takes the kids to daycare), how the afternoon will change (I'll be picking the kids up later, so I'll have healthy snacks with me in the car). I've started to scoot the kids' dinnertime to later, a little after 6 but will need to end up with dinner time around 6:30. I've also scooted Ada's bedtime to 8:00, which is appropriate for her age.

Other simplifying strategies: hire a house cleaner to do a few of the major chores once a week; stop making sit-down dinners until the kids are old enough to enjoy more complex foods like stews and quick spaghetti with garlic and olive oil and arugula and quick soups like creamy asparagus and potato-leek with aged cheddar, or a ceasar salad with bread and chicken for dinner. These are all fairly easy to make meals, but thus far the kids, ages 4 and 1, have turned their noses up at them. So they'll get zucchini pancakes and turkey dogs and macaroni and cheese and steamed brocoli for a while. And Kirby and I will eat...something.

Returning to work full-time will make it possible, if we remain relatively frugal in our expenses, for us to retire around 65, maybe even 60 if we really watch ourselves. Right now, it looks like we'll have to work full-time until we are simply unable to. That's a depressing prospect.

3.24.2009

Ada Lovelace Day

I just signed a pledge to publish a post about a woman in technology whom I admire. Considering Ada Lovelace is one of the origins of my daughter's name, I'm sort of obligated. And since I've been reading about the dearth of women in gaming development and history, here's one for you:

Roberta Williams (1953 - ) of Oakhurst, CA invented the first home-computer adventure game to use graphics, "Mystery House." She had been working as a computer operator and programmer, and when she had the idea, she and her husband brought the game to life, he doing the programming and she doing the design and gameplay. Together they formed a company, Sierra On-Line, in 1979, which continues today as Sierra Entertainment, owned by ... Activision? some Activision division? Not sure.

Good for you Roberta and Ken!

2.28.2009

Soooo Much Easier

The recovery from an adenoidectomy than from a tonsillectomy, that is. Ada is such a trooper. She woke up freaked out and mad and the nurses were all, uh, let's get this IV out and you need to get her home, now. She was fine in the car on the way home, cuddled in my lap with some cold milk watching Little Einsteins and every now and then would remember that she'd had an EFFING AWFUL MORNING but would settle back down again with kisses and hugs and then she took an early nap.

When she woke up again, she was, kid you not, 100%. She still had to stay out of school for a week, doctor's orders, but she did great. Seriously. I didn't even need the humidifier running or painkillers or anything. It was actually a little weird how completely and totally okay she was. Because she'd just had SURGERY.

Yea, Ada! And yea to no more ear infections, although she's still generally got some yuck draining from her nose. I've tried taking her off dairy to see if it would help, but made no difference. And she's on zyrtec, but I'm not sure it's making a difference. But she's happy, sleeps great, growing like gangbusters. And such a cutie.

2.01.2009

Adenoidectomy

Having nursed the boy cub through his recovery from his adenotonsillectomy last May (it was a doozy - that post still drives more traffic to this blog than any other), now the girl child goes in for adenoids and tubes tomorrow morning.

I'm a little sick with worry. I hate to be going through this again. The surgery itself is still relatively minor. It's the risk of general anesthesia that gets me. She's 16.5 months old, about 25 lbs. This is her second time under anesthesia, since she got her first set of tubes last May, and that time went fine - she threw up in the car on the way home, took a nap, and was right as rain after she got up.

Conventional wisdom and counsel is that recovery from an adenoidectomy is much less troublesome than for a tonsillectomy. From your lips to God's ears, Dr. Ent. I'm not having a whole lot of luck researching for information on the recovery for someone this young, although I did find one reassuring account from the parents of a boy child about the same age as Ada who did very well. We're doing this for recurring ear infections. She has no sleep problems, but she seems to be constantly congested, and her ears won't drain, even with the tubes. She's on Zyrtec now, which seems to be helping with the continuous congestion quite a bit (Austin is awash in cedar allergens right now), but I still can't see filling her up with antibiotics every time she gets a cold because the fluid just won't leave her ears.

Ugh. I hate this. One of my friends posted on her "25 Random Things About Me" list on FB that being a parent feels like having your heart outside your body.

So true.

1.02.2009

My Economic Predictions for 2009

What do I know? I've got a fine education and a little world experience; I try to stay reasonably informed, but I'm no economics expert. Today's post is based on observations of trends and developments with a smidge of analysis. Mostly I'm just curious to see how far off I'll be as the year unfolds, so I record my impressions here as a baseline to compare against in the coming months. Sort of like a personal experiment. So here goes.

Things will truck along in the present gloom for the next few months. New information about how historically BAD the economy has been will be announced. President Obama will succeed in collaborating with Congress to pass his stimulus package, with a few nasty compromises, but the general thrust of the plan will remain: re-invest in public and social infrastructure - roads, utilities, schools, hospitals, local police and small businesses.

In April, thin glimmers of hope will appear in the leading economic indicators. Very thin. Nothing is changing yet, the layoffs continue, instability in the middle east is ugly, drawing in countries that usually sit out the conflicts on the sidelines, but at home there are a few bits of data suggesting that there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

The summer will be a hard, long haul. Things will get even uglier in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and India will again be drawn into the conflict. The entire subcontinent will come under the threat of catastrophe with a combination of natural disasters and political instability, resulting in an appalling humanitarian crisis. The international community - including China - will render significant aid. Obama will order an air attack against a known terrorist base in the region. Oil prices will hit a new cyclical high, beating back down the small recovery that was otherwise taking root. It will feel like one step forward, two steps back. As usual, ordinary Americans will respond by putting our heads down, rolling up our sleeves, and working our asses off, creating higher levels of productivity than ever before. Violent crime in both major cities and the mid-range metropolitan areas will continue to rise through the summer as gangs extend their activities and control into new markets, feeding off of the unemployed who join their ranks and making use of technology in ways that leave law enforcement - underfunded and undermanned - struggling to keep up. In the wake of the crime, communities will organize to fight back. Stronger communities will pay off in greater social dividends later beyond reducing crime rates.

Around October, as temperatures cool, gas prices will have retreated enough to relieve the pressure against productivity gains. News will start to surface of data from the summer months showing improved fundamentals; the economy is undeniably turning around. Next year's winter holiday retail sales will be slightly better than this year's - but only slightly. Americans are still feeling the pinch, and after the violence of the summer months the desire to celebrate is hard to muster. It will have been a tough year. Around Christmas there will be another significant military aggression that the rest of the world would have been much better without, and again, the global community will be slow to respond. By this time next year, it would be overstating it to describe Americans as "cautiously optimistic;" the year will have been too ugly for optimism. But there will be a general sense that the worst of this down cycle is behind us. We will have a foundation in place to build on, and will look forward to spending 2010 working our asses off even more to make sure that foundation sticks.