Monday, January 31, 2011


Well.  We're back from Disneyland.  We're not happy about it.  It was really and truly the best Disneyland trip I've ever had. 

I took over 400 pictures while we were there.  The blogging of this trip is daunting.  I have a headache just thinking about it.  I thought I'd kick things off with the easiest day- Wednesday, aka, driving to Anaheim day.

Michael and I went to work on Wednesday morning.  Spencer went to school.  I left work and picked Spencer up, then we drove to Phoenix and picked Michael up.  Then we hit the road.  We were almost to Indio, CA when we realized we were getting low on gas.  We pulled into a Chevron prepared to fill up.  Then we saw the "middle of nowhere in California" gas prices.
So we put in $9, which was just enough to get us to Indio.

Around this time I got into the back seat with Spencer.  We watched The Wind in the Willows so that he would know who Mr. Toad was for the ride in Fantasy Land. Spencer enjoyed a lollipop.  I enjoyed not driving in rush hour traffic once we got into the greater L.A. area.

I know this was the most boring blog post ever.  Tomorrow will be better.  I just have to get over the crushing, overwhelming, debilitating and crippling depression that I am experiencing after leaving Disneyland and returning to my boring house, boring commute and boring job. 

Life just really sucks with no monorail, no ice cream everyday at 4 pm, no singing pirates, no chipper multi-cultural dancing children and no pretend cartoon character homes.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011


We like to recycle as much as we can.  I've been known to cut a tag off of a new shirt, throw it in the garbage, feel guilty about it, retrieve it from the garbage and then put it in the recycle.  Oh, and according to Spencer they are not garbage and recycle, but are gabor and cycle.

The system in our house is that recycle goes into the can in the kitchen.  When that is full it gets emptied into the container in the garage.  When that is full it gets dumped into the big container outside.  When that is full it goes to the curb for pick up.  We missed recycle day during the Christmas holidays.  We also had a lot more recycling with all the packaging from toys and gifts.  It threw us into a recycling tizzy for a couple of weeks.  Everything was full, and since pick-up is only once a week there was no place to empty the recycle can.  It took us a while to get back on track.  This became the norm in the house:

I'm glad we're back to the real normal now.  This is just embarassing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not so brilliant

Spencer got his first Memory game for Christmas.  It has 20 big cards that make 10 matches. 
Each card has a number and pictures on it.  The number of pictures corresponds to the number on the card.  For example, the number 3 has 3 squirrels and the number 9 has 9 buttons.  It took Spencer exactly 14 minutes to master this game.  Way too easy for him.
Our favorite toy store, Brilliant Sky, was having a buy one- get one half off sale 2 weeks ago.  I thought we'd stop in to get a new memory game.  Hopefully one that was a bit more challenging.

This one looked good.
It has more cards and the cards are smaller.  Definitely more difficult.
As our half off item we got this awesome bubble bucket.  Totally removes the most annoying part of doing bubbles-the little jars with the little wands.  Spencer can pull these wands out on his own.  You can even tip the bucket over and as long as it's not too full it won't spill.

We spent a good hour in Brilliant Sky the day we went in to buy these (it was a Friday).  We played with the trains and the scooters and the play kitchens.  We read some books.  We talked to the employees.  4 days later, on a Tuesday, Michael and Spencer came home from gym class (that is very close to Brilliant Sky) and reported that not only had Brilliant Sky closed their business for good, but the store was completely cleared out with nothing left inside.

What gives Brilliant Sky?  Not cool.  Not cool at all. 

Where are we supposed to go now to see Elmo, Peter Rabbit and live llamas?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Spencer is staying under the covers while he sleeps.  Not all night, but longer than the .5 seconds he used to stay under before kicking them off.  He's also sleeping a lot more with his head on the pillow instead of turned around with his feet on the pillow or his whole body on the pillow. It makes him seem so grown up. 

He also stayed in his room ALL NIGHT for 4 nights in a row last week.  It was a record.  Notice I say was, because he's back to being our 2 am visitor.  It's OK.  Truth be told, I miss him when he's in his room.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Desserts, Appetizers, Cutting and Sewing

After the snow day/mama lioness morning (see previous post if you're confused) we hurried home to prep for the next part of our busy day. 

Remember when I told you about my monthly get-togethers with all the ladies I used to work with?  Shireen was hosting January's, but I volunteered our house to meet at since we have two big tables and needed a lot of workspace.  There were two parts to our get-together: 1) a dessert and appetizer tasting and 2) making hygiene gift packs for girls in Africa.  We'll get to that in a minute.

So, anyway.  Michael and Spencer left to meet the husbands and other kids for a man hike.  There are no pictures of that, which is sad, since it was Spencer's first hike.  All the ladies came over to our house, where we started the party with a lot of eating.

I made mint chocolate brownies.
Shireen made this amazing baklava.
Brenda made this yummy bean dip.
There were many other dishes too.  Amy made a delicious chocolate eclair cake, Lauren brought hummus, and Maryellen made seasoned oyster crackers.  Maryellen also had the best line of the day in reference to the oyster crackers, "they don't actually have oysters in them".  I only took 2 pictures the whole day, so lots of stuff is missing.  I'm using pictures that I borrowed from Lauren's Picasa album.

After we ate we broke into 2 groups.  A sewing group and a cutting group.
Brenda, Nasreen, Shireen and Nasreen and Shireen's mom (I'm sorry! I don't remember her name) were on the sewing team.

Amy, Maryellen and I were cutters.  Amy was a fast cutter.
Maryellen and I were slow cutters.
Lauren was a cutter, but she was a floor cutter.  Girls in Africa will be getting fabric bags with Ginger hair on them.
Each girl gets a pair of underwear (or maybe 2) as part of their bag.  Did you know that most women in Africa have never owned a pair of underwear? 
The whole crew.  This picture took a lot of effort using the timer on Lauren's camera.
It was a GREAT day.  We didn't get nearly enough sewing done, but Shireen and Nasreen have assured us they will continue on their own.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Brownie Layer
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
½ cup flour
¼ tsp salt

Mint Layer
2 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1- 1 ½ TB heavy cream
½ tsp peppermint extract
Green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 TB unsalted butter

Brownies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan. Set aside. In a stainless steel (heatproof) bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat, with a wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out almost clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.

Mint Layer: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until firm.

Chocolate Glaze: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

To Serve: Remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 30 squares. It is a good idea to wipe your knife between cuts with a damp cloth. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snow Day

A nearby preschool had a snow day on Saturday.  It was open to the public, so, while Michael got the oil changed in the car, Spencer and I walked over and had ourselves some fun in the snow.  It was Spencer's first experience with the white stuff.
He was a little confused at first.

But as soon as he saw the rakes, shovels, hoes and buckets, he jumped right in.

They had little tables set up with dye to make colored snow.

The whole thing was mighty fun, especially because it was in the high-60's while we were playing in the snow.   

I do have to tell you about one incident that was a downer, just because I'd like some feedback on how I did as a mom and what you would have done. Spencer was out in the big snow pile digging with that little shovel he is holding in the above picture.  He was scooping it into that measuring cup.  A kid that was bigger than him (in height and weight, but not necessarily in age) kept trying to take it from him.  Spencer held his own and kept saying no.  There were extra shovels all over the place (they were provided by the preschool), so I just stayed in the background and didn't get involved.  If there hadn't been extra shovels I would, of course, had insisted on sharing. 

After this kid tried to take the shovel for like the 8th time and Spencer said no, the kid's dad walked over, RIPPED the shovel out of Spencer's hand and handed it to the kid.  Now I am not a confrontational person.  I'm pretty good at just walking away from things because I don't want to be punched in the face by some out of control drug addict.  But frankly, I was pissed.  And Spencer was on the verge of tears.  So I walked over, took the shovel back, handed it to Spencer, looked that bully in the eye and said "excuse me, you just ripped that out of my son's hands.  He is three years old and that is not OK."  Then this idiot started blubbering about how his son is an only child and he doesn't have experience with other kids and he's trying to teach him how to share.  My response: "well, I would bet that the least effective model you could give him is to steal things from people who are smaller than you." I was very proud of myself.

Then he tried convincing me that they had brought their own toys and Spencer had no right to the shovel.  I waved my hand at all of the tools and asked if they had brought ALL of them or if it was coincidence that they were exactly the same.  He picked up a little truck and said they had brought it (implying that they hadn't actually brought the shovel) and as a matter of fact should put it away because it was getting burried in snow.  Loser! 

Then he tried to smoothe things over by introducing himself and saying that our kids must be in the same class and we should be friends.  He tried to shake my hand which I refused.  I looked right at Spencer and suggested that we go find some friends who were nicer.  As we left that evil man (who felt embarassed for bullying a 3-year-old only when he got caught) continued on with his insistance that he was only trying to teach sharing.

How did I do?  Am I a mama lioness?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Thanks for all your words of support.  It felt good to just get that all out there. And good news- my brother Nick is going to lend/give us a HEPA air purifier.  His allergy shots have worked so well he doesn't use it anymore.  It's going into Spencer's room immediately.  There's $150 saved! 

Spencer and I planned on going to the mall after his nap today.  I had a free coupon for a tiny antibacterial hand gel at Bath and Body Works and he wanted to play in the little play area.  After his nap he decided that he wanted "his daddy" to come with us.  Side note: Spencer has started calling us "my mommy" and "my daddy", as in "I want to wait for my daddy to get me some milk", as if there are other mommies and daddies in his life that aren't his. 

Michael got home from work, we ate dinner, took Ginger for a walk and then got ready to go to the mall.  Michael just happened to check the mail before we left.  There was something from Helzberg Diamonds-a  coupon for a set of free cultured pearl bracelets.

Helzberg Diamonds just so happens to share a wall with Bath and Body Works, so while I popped in to get this little guy (FOR FREE),
Michael and Spencer popped in to get these guys (FOR FREE)!
We left the mall having spent $0.00.  How awesome is that?

I'm in such a better mood than I was when I wrote last night's post. 

P.S. I already misplaced the bracelets.  I do stuff like that when I'm stressed.  Apparently the free stuff hasn't cured all my woes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Long winded rant

I've got some s-h-i-t I need to get out into the open. 

This is going to be long and whiny and full of pictures.  If you're popping in during your 5 minute break at work you should go check your facebook instead.  This post requires your children to be in bed for the night or your husband to be out with the boys and not bugging you.

We'll start when Spencer was 15 months old.  Eczema.  We took him to our pediatrician (whom we LOVE) and got a prescription ointment.  We soon realized that we were going to need to do more.  We tried all sorts of home remedies that were worthless.  By the time Spencer was 17 months and his cheeks looked like this:
And his ankle looked like this:
we admitted defeat and took him to the best pediatric dermatologist in the state ($30 co-pay).  He doesn't have the greatest bedside manner (he basically called us crappy parents for letting Spencer get to this point), but dammit he's a good doctor.  That man knows what he's doing.

So, we started with the eczema regiment:

Dye free shampoo

Dye free body wash

Benadryl, as needed for itching.  We used it a lot in the beginning.  1-2 doses a day for probably 6 months.  Then 1 dose a day for the next 6 months. 

Derma-Smoothe scalp oil ($40 co-pay) for the eczema on his scalp.

2.5% hydrocortisone ($10 co-pay) for the eczema behind his ears, in his ears, on his face and on his neck.
Triamcinolone cream ($20 co-pay) for the eczema all over his body (mainly belly, back, ankles, shins, toes and a couple patches on his upper arms).

mixed with Original Eucerin cream and applied all over his whole body.  We've tried many different brands and types of lotion/cream and find the combo of eucerin and vaseline to be the best feeling and most effective.
This is nightly and sometimes extra triamcinolone, vaseline and eucerin in the morning.  As a result, something like 80% of my wardrobe has strange grease stains.  It doesn't matter that I wear an old t-shirt when getting him ready for bed- this stuff still finds a way to make it onto the rest of my clothes.

Continuing on......

Spencer is now 20 months and we start going to My Gym and taking swim lessons.  Every time Spencer runs or becomes the least bit active he starts coughing.
 Back to the pediatrician.  Spencer now has asthma.  Did you know that asthma and eczema are the same disease?  Asthma attacks the lungs and eczema attacks the skin, but they are the same illness.  Interesting, huh?

Spencer is prescribed an inhaler spacer and mask ($50 co-pay) that this child that is not Spencer is demonstrating.
He's also prescribed Proventil (which is albuterol and a $20 co-pay) to be used before physical activity and as needed.
This works until Spencer is 2-years-2 months old.  Then, it doesn't matter how much we use it, his cough won't go away. 

Back to the pediatrician (have I mentioned that each one of those co-pays is $15?) where we are prescribed Flovent ($20 co-pay)- one puff in the morning, one puff at bed time with the inhaler spacer/mask.
OK.  Asthma is under control.  Eczema is under control (with yearly visits to the dermatologist).  We've got it, right?  Hell no.

2 months later- the allergies start.  Constant runny nose, itchy palate, itchy/watery eyes and constant black circles under the eyes.

Back to the pediatrician.

We're given a prescription of Nasacort ($20 co-pay), 1 spray in each nostril at bed time. 
And we're back on Benadryl which we worked so hard to get off.

Allergy eye drops- at bed for sure and through the day as needed.

 Eczema is under control.  Asthma is under control.  Allergies are under control.  For close to a year.

Then we get to Thanksgiving Weekend 2010.  And Spencer starts hacking.  It lasts for like a week.  Then in the middle of December it started again.  And was HORRIBLE.  We couldn't go anywhere.  He missed school.  He coughed so hard he threw up.  Several times.  Back to the pediatrician.  He has SEVERE post nasal drip.  She puts him on

Afrin for 2 days,
 and Dimetapp for 5 days (both free, 'cause the pediatrician gave us samples).
Just as these medications are starting to work the time limits are up.  Cough is back.  2 weeks ago Spencer woke up at 4 am just coughing his guts up.  He came into bed with us.  After he coughed in my ear and on my face for 2 hours (4 am- 6 am.  Have you met me at that hour?  I'm not pretty) Michael went and got a can of saline and shot that up his nose for as long as Spencer could stand it.

Guess what?  Immediately- no more cough.  It flushed all the drip away. 

The next day we convinced Spencer to start doing the neti pot ($15) with saline packets ($10 for 100).  We've been doing it every day, sometimes twice a day.
I also spent about 10 hours researching post nasal drip on the internet.  Based on what I read (and us living in the desert), we bought

An elephant humidifier for Spencer's room ($40)   
and a penguin humidifier for our room ($40)

We've also allowed unlimited access to sugar free candies ($6)

But, even with all these things the cough didn't get better.  So, last week we had an appointment with a pediatric allergist ($30 co-pay).  She called Spencer a "really allergic kid", diagnosed a raging sinus infection and confirmed the post nasal drip.  She told us to double his flovent inhaler (morning and night- we had gone down to just night), double his nasal spray (morning and night- he's always been just night), continue everything else and to take him off benadryl so he could come back in a week for allergy testing. 

She also prescribed an antibiotic for the sinus infection.
($10 co-pay)
So, back we went today ($30 co-pay).

Spencer had fun building with legos while we waited.

He WAILED when the nurse did all the pricks. 
Then calmed down right away when I put on a Little People DVD. 
These are the results. 
Want to guess what he is allergic to?

Yep.  That's it.  No molds.  No trees.  No grasses.  No weeds.  No cockroaches or feathers or mites.  Just dogs and cats.  Cats a little bit more than dogs, but this won't be allowed any more. 
This is what the doctor said, in a (BIG) nutshell.  1) Spencer has allergies for sure, but the cough is most likely a result of his asthma not being as well managed as we had thought.  But... the asthma is caused by the allergies, so we have to treat both. 2) He will most likely develop more allergies (to all that other stuff) as he gets older.  3) We can start allergy shots when Spencer is 5 (I'm all for that). 4) On a scale of 0-4 with 0 being no allergy and 4 being horrible allergy, he is a 2 for cats and dogs.  So it's not as bad as it could be. 5) People are not allergic to pet hair.  It's pet skin (dander) and saliva that is the problem.  We could get rid of Ginger, but Spencer would still be exposed to the allergens in any public place, including the mall, the grocery store, the library and school (since the majority of the population has pets and pet owners carry the allergens with them wherever they go).

Here's the plan of action.

We'll continue the eczema regiment.  We'll continue the nasal rinses.  We'll continue all his previous medications and continue doing the nasal spray twice a day and the flovent inhaler twice a day.  We'll add the proventil inhaler at least at bedtime and more during the day as needed.  We may increase the dosage of the flovent inhaler.  We'll stop giving benadryl.  Then we'll add this:

Zyrtec ($10 over the counter) at bedtime

HEPA Air purifiers ($150 or more, in Spencer's bedroom, our bedroom and the living room.  Did you add?  That's $450+) 
A HEPA filter vacuum ($500 ish)

HEPA filters ($20 +) for the central air/heating system. 

Anti-Allergen Pet Shampoo ($10) for baths for Ginger every 14 days.

Allerpet/d for rubbing all over Ginger 7 days after her bath.

A HUGE margarita for me, because, well, did you read all this?


Forget about the cost of college tuition or feeding a kid until they are 18.  Michael and I can't have another baby because we simply can't afford their medical care.

I am incredibly grateful that Spencer doesn't have leukemia or autism or Type I diabetes or cystic fibrosis or spina bifida or any of the thousands of other childhood ailments there are.  I am grateful that despite all of this is he actually a healthy little kid (I know that sounds like an asinine statement). 

But honestly.  I've finally reached my breaking point.  I've been able to manage all of it up to this point, but I now actually need to make a chart to keep it all straight (especially the two mornings that I work and I'm lucky to remember to take Spencer to school).  I'd like to feel like breastfeeding him for 2 years was worth something.  Actually, did you know that years of research has shown that breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding leads to a higher IQ and protection from a bunch of childhood illnesses, but NOT allergies, asthma or eczema.  Damn it!  And I'd like to, for just one night, feel like I could trust a baby-sitter to put him to bed, which is just ridiculous because his bedtime routine is like 45 minutes.

Thanks for letting me bitch.  I know the post title said "rant", but by the end of it all I feel like "bitch session 2011" is in order.

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