Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cheap Shots

Before I became a mother, I used to say - and quite haughtily too I might add - that there were several things I would nevah, evah do:  1)  Take a screaming child on a plane;  2)  Let my child eat sugar;  3)  Let my child watch television;  4)  Spank in public;  5)  Take my child to the pediatrician unnecessarily.

Oh, how thy words come back to haunt thee, no?

Sadly, I readily admit that without any reservation, I went and broke rules 1, 2, and 3 within 48 hours of becoming Aria's mother.

Number 4 still remains intact.  I've never spanked in public, and I shall decline to even say on this blog whether I've spanked at all, because I'm totally not in the mood for judgment today.

Which brings me to rule Number 5.

As a Nurse Practitioner, I've always taken a bit of secret pride in the vexing phone calls I'd receive from friends late at night, imploring me for advice:  "Sarah, so-and-so has the sniffles!  So-and-so is running a fever!  So-and-so hasn't pooped in three days!"  And stifling my urge to mock, I'd perform my friend duty and soothe their fears with a witty response, like:  "Oh honey, it's just a cold.  Just think, he's building up his immunity!  Give him some infant Tylenol", and one of my favorites, "Give him a teaspoon of prune juice and everything 'will work itself out'". 

I still laugh about that one.

Can you just see my arrogance dripping off the page?

When Aria, and then Caroline, came along, I am proud to say that, although it was very difficult and I had several occasions of sitting on my hands to keep from phoning the doctor, I actually made it twenty-one months without one sick visit to our pediatrician (unless you count Aria's mild case of swimmer's ear, but I totally don't count that since Chris was in charge that day and he's the one who took her in.  Record, maintained).  Twenty-one!  That's close to TWO YEARS with no sickness. 

Is that great parenting or what?

Yes, I realize it could be due to the fact that my child has the constitution of a brick having spent the first year of her life in the paltry living conditions of an orphanage in southeast Asia.  But then how do you explain tiny little Caroline surviving her first year of life with no maladies other than the projectile vomiting, which I had totally under control. 

Like I said, great parenting.


What the heck was that?  Oh, right.  That was the sound of the needle screeching across the proverbial record. 

My record.  My twenty-one month record has now been dissolved with a preposterous little microbe called strep.  Which has, in the last two weeks, caused both my stalwart, immunologically-durable children to be.... what's the word?..... oh, right, it's, um.....


And it's not making Mommy happy.

Which brings me to today.  We are getting ready for this morning's special edition Halloween ballet class, to which the students wear dance-appropriate costumes.  Aria insists on being Cinderella this year for Halloween, but her dress is too long to dance in, therefore rendering it not dance-appropriate, so I had to come up with something costume-y on the fly that she could wear to ballet.

This, of course, was sooo difficult, as you know by now how much I hate to dress my kids up.

Introducing... Ballerina Princess Aria Grace:

So as we are jetting out the door, I'm wedging her ballet slippers on her, and I notice that her left foot is swollen.  Um.  Really swollen.  Twice the size of her right foot.  Double.  Huge.  We remove slippers, costume and tights so Mommy can have a closer look and turns out, her whole leg is swollen twice the size of the other one. 

Just to give you a little sample of the internal dialogue that takes place in someone's head who knows just enough to know there's a problem, but not enough to know what to do about it:  "Oh, sweet Jesus, my baby, heal my baby, dear God, heal her, she's got a blood clot, oh no, it's a spider bite, this looks like a staph infection, what if it's that flesh-eating staph?  They might have to do an I&D, merciful God in heaven, heal my baby, is it cutting off the blood supply?  We're going to have to go to the hospital, she's going to need two weeks of IV antibiotics, what if she gets compartmental syndrome, and then she's gonna need surgery, would they amputate?, " and so on.  Yes, it went on.  And on.

And on.

Can you imagine the drama inside my tiny little pin head?

But seriously, look at this picture and tell me you wouldn't be just a little skeered:

Meanwhile, Aria, with her one ballet slipper wedged precariously on her swollen foot, is imploring me to get a move on,  "Let's rock and roll, Mommy!  I don't want to be late to ballet!"  Exact words.  Not kidding.

So I frantically phone the pedi instructing her we need to be seen right away after ballet because we've got a bad case of cellulitis and she needs to be on antibiotics post-hasteI know, I know, great parenting - postponing urgent medical care for the dance class with costumes, but like I said before, I'm not in the mood for judgment today.

At the pediatrician's office, the doctor, who incidentally is very gifted in calming down the frantic mother who knows too much yet knows too little, confimed that yes, it is cellulitis probably from a bug bite and yes, needs to be treated with antibiotics and no, will not require incision or drainage or surgery, but yes, she will need to get a (big, huge, painful) IM injection of Rocephin, and then, music to my ears, "Mrs. Thomas, I'm glad you brought her in when you did.  Left untreated, this could have been very bad."

Um, what?

So, I'm not a lunatic-worry-wart-crazy-mom who calls the doctor unnecessarily?  Thank you, Dr. Michaels.  Simple validation for all the crazy thoughts in my head.  Chris, are you listening?   

After wiping some big tears from the injection, I went home and promptly broke rules 2 & 3.  Again, no judgment. 

But I guess this also means Number 5 remains intact.

Until the next emergency.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I've always had a big preoccupation with costumes.

Ask any of my cousins.  From the tender age of, oh I don't know, six-ish, I was writing and directing plays to be performed at various family get togethers.  And I even got so bold as to charge admission.  For the really good ones.  Like the Christmas story performance, with our cat, Cobweb, in the title role as the tightly swaddled, hissing, growling, spitting Baby Jesus.  Probably not how it really went down.  Just a guess.

As I got older, this fixation was transferred to my dog.  Cooper, poor hapless Cooper, was dressed up for any given occasion.  He's been the Easter bunny, a reindeer, a big flower, a 70s-era disco dancer.  But I think I'd have to say my all-time favorite was the time he dressed as a lit Christmas tree.  A lit tree.  As in, powered by electricity.  You can't imagine how well that went over with my 100-lb dog.

Mercifully for Cooper, Aria and Caroline have come along, so my fashion-passion can now be redirected to the youngest, most naive, and least-likely-to-put-up-a-struggle (for now!) members of the family.

Which is really just a big build-up to the copious Halloween pictures you are about to be assaulted with...

Round One: 

Pumpkin Patch at The Dallas Arboretum.  We went with Tanner, one of Aria's BFFs, and Tanner's precious mommy, one of my BFFs.  Yes, of course I had the foresight to charge my camera battery.  No, I did not remember to remove it from the charger and actually put it back into the camera.  Doh! 

Ahh well.  Thanks, Andrea, for having my back and taking beautiful photos.

The answer to your unspoken question is, Yes.  My children were the only ones there in Halloween tutus. 

And I'm very proud of this.

Beware, Round Two is coming.  Aria gets to wear a Halloween costume to ballet class tomorrow.  This should be interesting!


Thursday, October 21, 2010


A little tidbit about my oldest, Aria Grace - and I don't want any stereotyping when I say this - but mercy, does that child LOVE to take pictures.  When she was a mere twenty-months old, she knew how to not just turn on the camera, but to change the settings and frame her subject, properly, I might add. 

(I said no stereotypes!)

The upside of this:  maybe I'm raising the next Annie Leibovitz.  The downside:  going through the hundreds - not kidding - hundreds of pictures she's taken on my camera, and now occupying precious space on my hard drive.  Which is why it has taken me so terribly long to get Caroline's birthday pictures onto this blog. 

But glory be, I've finally done it, so I hope you enjoy...

Birthday girl and Mommy pre- party:

Baby girl not so thrilled with her party hat:

 Cake Joy!

 Post-bash exhaustion...  

And now some pictures of the the voyage back east.

 My little hiker in the mountains:

 Three favoritest people:

 No caption needed...

Mommy and girlie:

Scenic creeky photo:  Mommy, A, Mimi (Patti), Uncle Kick, and Poppies:

 Stunning - oh and a nice waterfall:

Yes, my 12-month old is running:

Family soccer game - nobody won:

And finally, God's country...



Tuesday, October 19, 2010


If you attended my child's birthday party last weekend, I recommend you stop reading.

If you did not attend, and feel like a good pity laugh at my expense, read on.

Last Monday morning, I noticed Caroline was puny.  Not eating well, and a little whiny.  Nothing too dramatic, but something was definitely up.  I still dragged her to the gym, to Target, to the drycleaners, etc - you know, a typical mom day.  Shortly before her afternoon nap, she was playing on the floor (while I was reading my Bible.  Or People magazine.  Whatever.), and she suddenly climbed up into my lap, put her head on my shoulder, and just whined a long, pitiful, sickly baby whine.  I felt of her forehead and sure enough, baby girl was burning hot with fever.  A dose of generic non-recalled Tylenol and a thirty minute rock in mom's lap seemed to do the trick.  She went down for her nap, and woke up a new, happy, unsick baby.

Whew.  Crisis averted.

Tuesday was "school", which consists of preschool for Aria, and Mother's Day Out for Caroline.  They were both so excited to see their teachers and ran quickly into the rooms to begin their day.  Mom ran quickly to her car to get to my tennis match on time and begin my own day.

Possible foreshadowing on the remainder of my day?  I lost the match 6-1, 6-0.  Ick.  Bad Sarah.  Poor.  Shame.

Does it hurt more or less when you lose that badly to your very own husband?  Isn't he supposed to be chivalrous and husbandy and throw the match or something?  Especially when it's my birthday? 

Well, I had a pair of birthday shoes to buy, and not even the shame of an abysmal game of tennis could deter me from the joys of shoe shopping.  I arrived at the shoe store with two hours stretching out in front of me, two hours to spend at my leisure in the mindless, soulless, blissful world of ladies' shoes. 

Suddenly, an earsplitting sound punctures the calm, soothing, ambient environs of the shoe store.  Somebody's phone ringing.  Please, fool, answer your phone and stop disturbing my shoe meditation.  Oh wait, my phone, me, I'm the fool.  I hastily grab it and whispered a hushed, "Hello?"  I get a, "Hi, Mrs. Thomas?  This is so-and-so calling from Prestonwood CLC.  Your child is lethargic and not eating, and has a fever of 101.5."

"Oh mercy, I'm on my way, I'll be right there to pick up little Caroline".

"Ma'am, it's not Caroline who is sick.  It's Aria."

This can't be good.  First Caroline, now Aria, need to call Chris, and where is that pedi's number?

I race to the school, retrieve my babies, and drag them both directly over to the doctor, who confirms after gag-and-puke throat swabs that both girls have it.  Strep.


And since I'm feeling so guilty for my tennis-game-shoe-shopping excursions while they were languishing pitifully at school with this hideous microbe attacking their precious little immune systems, I let them watch lots of afternoon TV and then have ice cream before dinner.  There.  I said it.  But that's just the way you gotta roll sometimes, people, when both your poor babies are sick, and you clearly have a very inattentive undersensitive, mommy instinct radar.

A full 24hrs of Amoxicillin and a dose or two of generic, unrecalled Tylenol = happier, healthier kids which = happy Mommy.

Sans guilt or fevers, we boarded our plane headed to the Carolinas, for a birthday weekend with the grandparents.  We went up to the Blue Ridge mountains, and enjoyed God's full fall splendor on the trees. 


You'd think all the medical drama would be over and done what with both kids safely on antibiotics and generic non-recalled Tylenol, right?

It wasn't.

Only this time, it was ME, for the love of pete!

After an awesome family hike Saturday morning among the most excellent fall color palate God could design for a now-native Texan come home to Carolina, to some spectacular waterfalls with my most excellent resident wildlife biologist brother, Dr. Kick, who educated us on moss, lichens, various botanical species, and the diet of local brook trout, I was making myself a sandwich in our mountain cabin, when out of nowhere - BAM! 

Kidney stone. 

I'm not kidding, it was literally out of nowhere.  I was slathering light mayonnaise on wheat bread when I dropped to the floor and into the fetal position.  My husband and mother, both experienced with my history of kidney stones, loaded me into the rental car and rushed me to the Blowing Rock Emergency Room, where I was the sole patient and probably the most fun they'd had all day, seeing as how when you are writhing about in pain like that, you will pretty much say or do anything to make it go away. 

Not one of my finer moments.

It was here that I received the most excellent of care from a Nurse Practitioner (shout out!), and even more excellent narcotics to numb my pain and stop the insanity.  The little booger made its exit the following morning.  How can a 1 mm grain of torture bring a healthy 29-year-old woman to her knees?  

Okay, so those drugs might - just might - make me hallucinate.  Ya think?

All in all, though, after my drugs wore off, and Aria and Caroline's drugs kicked in, we had an awesome time in the North Carolina mountains and the South Carolina foothills celebrating birthdays. 

Pictures soon.

(I think I'll throw down the gauntlet and blame the tennis on the kidney stone.  Rematch, Honey?)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Fodder

The craziness continues!  We had Caroline's birthday party Saturday (rescheduled from Sunday so I could attend Mimi's service) which was a blast, and I have a million photos yet to unload upload.  The funeral service for Mimi was very special, and my aunts even insisted I read my previous blog post as a eulogy.  I editorialized it a bit, of course - there was no mention of the Benadryl coma or anything.  All in all, a good weekend, and one I hope to be blogging about/posting pictures of soon.  Until then, a little something courtesy of Aria Grace.

Mommy is so proud...


Sunday, October 3, 2010


Can I please just say?  Writing tributes to loved ones after their passing is just getting old, and I intend to not do it anymore.  Which means, everyone in my life whom I adore, please stay healthy and safe.  You will not get a tribute from me if you choose to die anytime soon.  My heart cannot take this.  Just sayin'.

I shall explain...

My Dad called me yesterday to let us know that his mother, my Mimi, had become unresponsive and was not doing well.  As they are in Charlotte, and we were at the lake in East Texas at the time of this call, I had little choice but to get on my knees pray for comfort and peace for this extraordinary woman, and all those who love her.

Later in the day, we packed up the car and headed back home from the lake.  One child was scheduled for a nap during our car ride, and the other was in a Benadryl coma thanks to the multiple (thirty-five!) mosquito bites she fell victim to while under the watchful eyes of a parent.  No names here, but that parent wasn't me.  Just sayin'.  Nevertheless, this quiet trip allowed me two hours in the car to reflect on my Mimi, and the way she touched our lives.

The three words which best describe my grandmother? 

Larger Than Life.

She really was, that woman.  Larger than life.  Not just physically - she was gorgeous and captivating and  tall (let's be honest here, compared to me, who isn't tall?).  No, it was definitely her personality.  She had a way of walking into a room and owning it.  She never met a stranger, was always the life of the party, and had an uncanny ability to make everyone who knew her want to be around her all the time.  Oh, and she had the most magnificent laugh - loud and throaty - she would frequently lose her breath in a fit of hysterics.  She was so artistic and creative, always plopping down at the piano to bang out a tune, or generating fantastically funny songs or poems to honor a birthday or special occasion. 

Put it this way, if she were a member of our generation, she would have a starring role on Glee.  And she'd probably go on and rewrite it too, to make it even funnier.  And direct it.  And then she'd produce it.  And lay down the tracks for all the songs.  And then throw huge cast parties after wrap so everyone could be friends.

Up until illness waylaid her a couple of years ago, I swear that woman had a more active social life at 85 than me at.... well...  ever.  Her phone was always ringing, friends were always popping by for a cocktail and a good laugh.  Mimi was never short on laughs.  She loved telling jokes, and playing jokes.  Her whole life seemed like one big fancy shindig, and she, the penultimate party planner.

She never discussed these things, but my beautiful grandmother was screentested for Gone With the Wind, and partied the night away with Frank Sinatra on the rooftop of the Carolina Inn shortly before she got engaged to my grandfather. 

That's the stuff of legend, people.  Can I getta amen?

Aside from her exquisite social skills, Mimi taught me a lot about family.  She was never happier than when all her kids, grandkids, and later, great-grands, were all gathered around her.  She always insisted on the family getting together several times a year, even if it was only for a quick brunch, or a few days in the mountains.  Trust me, Mimi was like our own personal Chablis-swilling mafiosa - you did NOT say no to Mimi.  Whatever she wanted, she got, and most often what she wanted was time with her beloved family.

She taught me to write poems and stories, she taught me to appreciate artwork, how to set a table, how to decorate a house, and how to throw a party.  It was very important to her that her southern-born granddaughters master the fine skill of hosting a party, and also being the life of it.

And I'll never forget what she said to me the day I graduated with my Master's from Medical University of South Carolina and became a Nurse Practitioner. 

"Sarah B (my family nickname), I used to think that you just needed to go to Davidson (College, the Harvard of the South), meet a nice boy to marry, join the Junior League, and learn how to make good chicken salad.  I never imagined you would go to Clemson, then on to medical school (okay, not technically medical school, as it was a Master's in Nursing, but try explaining that to your grandmother), and now you're an almost doctor, and you take care of itty bitty tiny babies!  I never thought you'd amount to much more than a housewife who made good chicken salad, and look at you now!"

Okay, the delivery may have been a little off, but the sentiment was there.  And let me tell you, this was one of the prouder moments in my life.  Knowing that I had exceeded my grandmother's expectations, and knowing that she recognized it.  It also is a true testament to the bubble she lived in, in the Deep South, but that's probably a blog post for another day.

Oh, my Mimi, how I wish my girls could have known you back in the day, when you would chase each of us around the house with a hairbrush so we all looked "appropriate" in case you had company, or when we cousins used to jostle for the chance to sit by your side and listen to you laugh, or when I would open the mail to find a poem you had written for my birthday, or when you would host your annual Birthday Party for Everyone and we would all celebrate and feast on your famous Heath Bar Cool Whip cakes. 

My dear, sweet, peculiar but authentic, Larger Than Life grandmother, you will be so missed.


Sarah B