Saturday, February 23, 2013

Princess Poopy Pants Strikes Again

Speaking of poop, I just found this old blog story stuck in my draft folder. I guess I never published it for some reason. 

June 23, 2007

It's been awhile since I've shared a poopy story, and I just couldn't resist telling this one…

About a week ago, Allyson was happily removing all items from the bottom two pantry shelves while I loaded the dishwasher. Just as I was finishing the last couple of items, Allyson crawled over and clung to my leg, whining to be picked up. I noted absently the aroma of poop and made a mental note to check her diaper soon.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that she was carrying something blue and white, maybe a dish towel. After I'd loaded the last dish, I turned to pick her up and realized that she was carrying a diaper--that was full of poop! How could she have gotten into the trash without my noticing?

I scooped Allsyon up onto my left hip, pried the diaper loose with much protest, and threw it in the trash. I immediately called Bill to describe his daughter's latest antic. "But where did the diaper come from?" he asked. He hadn't put a diaper into the kitchen trash, and neither had I.

Hmmm…. She wouldn't.... Surely she couldn't.... I reached down under her big-girl nightie and touched… her bare bum. Somehow she had gotten the diaper off. And now her bare, poopy bum was up against my hip. Bill was howling. "I gotta go!" I shouted as I raced up to the changing table.

After we were both in clean clothes again, I had to count my blessings:
1. At least she was holding the diaper right-side up, carrying it like a basket.
2. At least she hadn't put her hands in it and squished it around like she had done with her birthday cake a couple of days before.
3. At least it wasn't runny. It just left a few brown flakes on my shorts.

From now on, Princess Poopy Pants will be wearing shorts or pants over her diaper at all times!

Allyson Smashing Her First Birthday Cake

My New Favorite Gadget

If you've been reading long, you know how I love me a new gadget. So I'm sure you won't believe that I've kept quiet about my latest addition to the collection for about four weeks!

Remember how I whined over the unaccustomed task of picking up Lola's poop? Well, sometimes it pays to complain. After my brother Rick read that entry, he showed me his own system for picking up after his own dogs (and grand-dogs). He uses a Sanitary Pooper Scooper in combination with a bag-lined bucket. No stooping, no heavy shovel, no swaying plastic bag. Piece of cake! (Piece of something, anyway.)

I wasted no time ordering my own scooper, just $12.90 on Amazon. I could hardly wait for it to arrive! When it did, I scurried right out to the backyard to try it out. I'm telling you, that scooper is fabulous! It's light and nimble, and so much easier on the grass than the heavy shovel. Why, it made poop scooping almost... enjoyable. Almost. For the first time, anyway.
Positively Ecstatic. Can't You Tell? 

The next weekend, I generously gave Ethan a turn with the new scooper. While his reaction wasn't quite as enthusiastic as mine, he did agree that it made the job much easier.

At our first monthly family dinner, I raved to Mom about the scooper, and Rick brought his out again to demonstrate. Mom didn't even wait until she got home to order hers. It was easy to understand her excitement; they have three dogs to pick up after. (However, I bet those two Chihuahuas and one poodle don't drop as much doo in a day as my one 60-pound Lab mix.)

I've now used the scooper three times, and it still gives me a little thrill. A tiny one, to be sure. Of course it doesn't compare to the thrill of using, say, my Nutrimill Grain Mill (after at least a hundred uses, too). But any sort of thrill from picking up dog poop is a pretty good thing, don't you think?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Best Chapter

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would share the next chapter in my (now finished?) love story with Bill. This is the one I've been looking forward to telling you ever since I started that very sporadic series of blog entries. 

Excerpts from Allyson's Journal
Daddy wrote this in my birthday card:
Happy 36th birthday! I do think dreams come true.... Most nights as I lay in bed (in our house), next to you (my beautiful, caring and loving wife), with my hand on your belly feeling our daughter, I think my dreams have come true....

About 8 months along.
Funny, I had no idea Allyson was going to be huge. 

Ethan and His Cousin Savannah
I've been so frustrated with all this false labor. How will I know when to go to the hospital? What if I wait too long? You're not due for three more weeks, but the doctor says it could be any day.

I've decided to take that with a grain of salt. Yes, you could be born tomorrow (or tonight), but you could also be born in two or three weeks. I'm going to try to relax and live my normal life. You'll come when you come and I'll have to trust God to let me know when we should go to the hospital.

Well, I guess I wasn't listening closely enough. I doubt that God told us to go to the hospital today, but we went....

At six in the morning, I had several hard contractions about three minutes apart. I told Daddy I thought it was time...

Daddy woke Ethan up, and he was amazingly cooperative. He got his clothes and shoes right on and went downstairs. Too excited to eat breakfast, he helped Daddy pack his school lunch, then helped him gather last-minute items for the hospital.

When I came down, Ethan said, "So this is what it's like to get ready for a baby!" I thought that was so cute! When we dropped him off at before-school care, he gave me a big hug before Daddy took him in.

We weren't far into our drive when I realized the contractions were slowing down. By the time we reached the hospital, they were 10 minutes apart. Given my odd labor pattern with my first baby [more on that in another entry], I decided it wouldn't hurt to get checked....

The labor and delivery nurse hooked me up to a monitor for an hour, watching my contractions and your heartbeat. Naturally, the contractions slacked off severely. I had only four in an hour, and felt so silly....

I cried a little during the monitoring. Daddy was very supportive. He stroked my hand and sat quietly by my side. He made me laugh a couple of times.

When the nurse sent me home, she seemed rather patronizing in her instructions. "Don't come back until the contractions are consistently five minutes apart," she said. "I know you said your contractions were not regular with your first baby, but...."

I reiterated that the contractions had never been close to five minutes apart with Ethan, and that I'd been 8 centimeters dilated (out of 10) when I reached the hospital. I explained that with such a long drive, I was concerned about possibly delivering the baby in the car.

She replied that the most important thing was that the contractions would be very painful. When I informed her that mine weren't very painful with Ethan, she raised an eyebrow. I could tell she thought I was stupid, or that I was lying. I felt so defensive, so foolish. I cried in the parking lot, though I couldn't explain why.

Monday 5/29/06
Well, I wish I could say there were no more pre-birth labor dramas, but that was not the case. Last Sunday I thought my water had broken.... Of course, the leaking had stopped by the time I got to the hospital. Either I'd been peeing myself repeatedly, or there had been a small hole that sealed itself....

Sunday 6/4/06 
Another week has passed, and still no baby.... I felt down yesterday, but today I feel better. At church we sang a new song called "Hallelujah" [the one from the Shrek soundtrack]. It really moved me as I realized how many reasons I have to sing hallelujah. Why have I been frustrated and upset? I have a baby coming in the next week. I have a husband who loves and supports me. I have a strong, active baby inside me, for almost certainly the last time. I have a God who cares for me and my baby, who knows what's best for us. I let the tears fall and just let go of the worry. And although nothing has changed, and I'm still confused about the contractions, it doesn't seem to matter today. I feel content.

Tuesday 6/6/06
I wish my contentment could have lasted longer than two days. Yesterday I had contractions all day at work, and it was easy to see they were getting more frequent. By bedtime, they were about five minutes apart. I agonized over whether to go to the hospital but finally decided to go to bed and see what would happen. I was up almost all night. I managed to doze, but the contractions woke me over and over.

This morning the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, so we headed to the hospital. But the moment we got in the car, they slowed down, about 6-9 minutes apart. So instead of going to triage, we went to the doctor's office. My doctor's associate examined me, and she strongly recommended induced labor--tomorrow!

Being presented with this choice was overwhelming, especially after getting so little sleep. I sobbed all the way to my mom's house, where I spent the day relaxing....

Wednesday 6/7/06 4:30 A.M.
Today is your birthday! My water broke at 4:00, and we are at the hospital. The pains are about three minutes apart, and pretty sharp. I am nervous and excited. Ethan is with us, and Grandpa is on the way to pick him up.... I'm so excited to meet you, sweet Allyson!

Wednesday 6/7/06 8:15 P.M.
You are a beautiful baby. I can't believe how smoothly the whole labor went. I know God was with me throughout....

After two hours, I was at 6 centimeters, making good progress....

Around 8:00, the doctor came and broke my water. I was 7 centimeters dilated. The pain was still quite manageable. I was able to laugh and talk through the contractions. I wished that snippy labor nurse who'd made me feel so stupid on that first trip could see me now, but I never saw her.
Hard Labor??

But when I hit 8 centimeters, the pain ratcheted up abruptly, like a knife stabbing me in my lower back. Previously, I'd been praying through the contractions, asking for peace and strength, asking God to open my cervix. Now, I could only moan and breathe, "Jesus, Jesus."

The nurse, Candace, said she'd check me again in an hour, and if I hadn't progressed she'd give me a little Pitocin to make the contractions stronger. Make them stronger?? After an hour? I suddenly decided I wanted an epidural after all. She said it wasn't too late.

An anesthesiologist came in a minute or two later, almost as if he'd been waiting in the hall. Was I glad to see him! He asked a few questions, but I could barely answer him. I literally had trouble telling him my name, and also gave him my pre-pregnancy weight by mistake. He finally told me to roll onto my right side, and started to swab my back for the injection.

After I'd lurched over like a beached whale, I cried, "She's coming now. Now!"

I'd been checked only five minutes before, but Candace checked again. Verifying that I was at 10 centimeters, she dismissed the anesthesiologist and paged the doctor. "Oh no!" I thought. There was no turning back. This was going to be an all natural birth.

Candace lifted my legs into the stirrups for some practice pushes. She told me to hold my breath and push, but I kept breathing really fast. "I'm scared!" I told Daddy.

Candace told me to look in her eyes. "Remember not to breathe. Don't make a sound. Just push." Finally I got the hang of it. The pain was almost gone, leaving a tremendous pressure in its wake.

After one contraction, she said, "No more pushing!" Pressing my knees together, she told me to blow. I repeated, "She's coming NOW!"

My doctor, Karan, must have run across from her office. When I saw her, I wanted to push again, but Candace told me to keep blowing while she got ready. I replied, "She's coming! I can't stop it."

At last they put my feet in the stirrups and let me push. After just one contraction, your head and elbow were out. I could hear your gurgling cry, but I couldn't see you. And then the rest of you slipped gently into the world. Luckily, Candace urged me to open my eyes, just in time to see you emerge.

I looked at Daddy and started to laugh. I couldn't believe I had done it! You were here! I thought I would cry, but I just laughed. Your daddy cried, though. He said he'd been crying a lot because I was so brave. But I hadn't felt brave.

As she caught you, Karan had said, "Wow! This is a big baby." The pediatric nurse weighed you right away and announced that you were 9 pounds and 0 ounces. I couldn't believe how easily you'd come. Nine pounds!

Thursday 6/8/06
Your first day passed in a blur. You were in a quiet, alert state for much of the day, but by evening you were exhausted. You slept and slept, through quite a few visitors--many of whom held you and remarked how pretty you were. Grandpa and Grandma visited, bringing along your big brother, Aunt Emily, Hillary, Savannah, and Sammy.

Proud, Proud Daddy

Ethan was too nervous to hold you at first, but then he changed his mind. He was so proud!

The next visitors were Uncle Rick, Aunt Diane, and Mindy....
Grandma and Cousin Mindy
Through all of this, you slept. But after a nurse came to weigh you at 11:30 that night, you were wide awake. Daddy was wonderful with you! He held you, talked softly to you, rocked you, and walked the floor. He told you he understood how tired and overwhelmed you must be--such a journey you had made! I was very moved by his compassion and the joy with which he cared for you.

When you awoke again and hour or so later, I looked down at you as you nursed. In that moment, I fell in love with you. It had been such an exciting, hectic day that I really hadn't had time to bond with you. But now it was only you and I in the world; Daddy was asleep in the uncomfortable futon chair. After you ate, I held you against my body, skin to skin, with your blanket covering us. You slept blissfully, lulled by my heartbeat. I whispered that I missed carrying you inside me, but I was so glad to hold you in my arms at last.

Monday 6/12/06
You've been home several days now, and you're settling into a routine. It's been very difficult because you sleep all day and then stay up all night. Again, I've been amazed at the grace Daddy shows despite his lack of sleep. He talks tenderly to you and gazes lovingly at you even in the middle of the night.
One of Those Exhausting Nights
It's been harder on me. I'm tired from the delivery and from making milk. My hormones are changing, and that makes me weepy when I don't get enough sleep. Daddy is tender with me also. He rubs my back while I cry, and he snuggles me close when I'm too anxious to sleep. I'm falling in love with him all over again....

Nana and Grandpa arrived on the 8th, the day after your birth. They were a lot of help, doing all the cooking and helping to comfort you when you thought you wanted to eat all the time. Nana watched over me to make sure I was eating and drinking lots of water.
Nana and Her Angel
Of course, they fell in love with you instantly. Nana called you an angel. She and Auntie Lisa--who saw you on the hospital website--think you look just like your father. But my family thinks you look just like me when I was a baby. I can see Ethan in you, too. Your cheeks are chubby like his were.
The Hospital Picture
You are such a miracle. I love to see your wide eyes when you are awake. I love to see you totally relaxed in sleep, with so many expressions playing across your face. I can see Daddy, Ethan, and even myself in you....

Ethan loves you, too. He's so helpful and cooperative, which shows he's growing up. He cheerfully washes his hands so he can hold you.... I'm very, very proud of the way he's welcomed you into the family.

After reading through all these journal entries and reliving the happy memories, I'm surprised that I don't feel a bit sad. Those were good times, and I'm glad we had them. I'm sure God has many more happy memories in store for me. Perhaps the best is yet to come! 

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shut Up and Reboot

As a former tech support associate, one of my all-time favorite Dilbert cartoons is this one:

For the record, while I sometimes rolled my eyes at some of my more vexing callers, I wouldn't have dreamed of telling them to shut up and reboot. So you can imagine my surprise last week when I phoned my Internet provider for tech support and was basically told to shut up and reboot.

I'd finished my endless list of chores one evening and gotten Allyson in bed early, so I figured it was the perfect time to install those parental controls I'd been thinking about. I wanted to restrict access to inappropriate sites and also to limit Ethan's browsing time. I found the instructions I needed on the provider's website, downloaded the necessary program, and installed the program all within ten minutes. Wow, that was easy!

And then a login screen came up, asking for my account ID and password. What's an account ID, I wondered? It had to be my email and email password, I reasoned. I entered those three times, but kept seeing a message that the login had failed. I went onto the provider's website and verified that I could log in there. I tried to search their knowledge base to see what an account ID might be, but any time I left the main page, an error message informed me that parental controls had been activated, and I did not have access to this site. Next, I tried to Google the problem, but the same error message came up. I could feel my blood pressure rising.

I dug out my latest bill and located the tech support number. A friendly computerized voice greeted me. He didn't introduce himself, but to me he seemed like a Bob. Bob gave me a long list of menu items, none of which seemed to fit my problem. After following several rabbit trails, I kept repeating "operator" until Bob said, "It sounds like you want to speak to an operator. Is that correct?"

"Yes!" I shouted.

"One moment while I transfer your call."

I heard a click, some silence, and then a dial tone. Argh!!

I dialed again, explained my problem again, and ended up in the tech support queue at last. Bob cheerfully informed me that due to unusually high call volume, the estimated wait time was 45 minutes. "Perhaps you can hang up and try our online knowledge base," he suggested.

"That's a great idea, Bob... IF I COULD GET ON THE INTERNET!"

While I waited, Bob offered one totally irrelevant suggestion after another. And then he asked me a question to see if I was listening. "Often, rebooting your computer will resolve the problem. Have you tried rebooting?"

I groaned. "No, because-"

"It sounds like you have not rebooted your PC. Please reboot your PC and call back if that does not resolve the problem."

"No! I don't need to reboot. It automatically rebooted when I installed the-"

"Thank you for calling."


Oh, was I mad! I'd just been told to shut up and reboot by a COMPUTER! And then it hung up on me!

I dialed back in with trembling fingers and snapped at the ever cheerful Bob when he answered. "Have you rebooted your PC?" he asked.

"Operator!" I shrieked. "I want to speak to a freakin' operator."

Just as I was yelling at a computer over the phone, Ethan walked in and eyed me quizzically. "Who are you talking to?"

I held a finger to my lips, straining to hear Bob. "It sounds like you want to speak to an operator. Is that correct?"

"Yes!" I hollered.

"One moment while I transfer your call. The estimated wait time is... five... minutes."

I grinned. Apparently Bob had some sort of programming that analyzed the caller's mood. He must have detected the rage in my voice and bumped me to the head of the line. Awesome!

Turns out, he was just lying to appease me. The wait was more like 30 minutes. While I waited, I sheepishly explained to Ethan that I had just installed parental controls on the computer and had locked myself out of the Internet. He snickered.

"I'm not sensing a lot of compassion from you," I said.


After listening to ten more of Bob's inane suggestions, I finally got to talk to a live body, a girl named Cherise. Talking to her felt a lot like talking to Bob; she was clearly following a branched script. I breathed deeply and willed my pulse to slow down.

At last I was able to make Cherise understand the problem, though I was pretty sure she didn't believe me about using the correct password. (I have to admit, had I been in her shoes, I probably wouldn't have believed it either.)

She tried several things with no success, including resetting my password--which, incidentally, Bob had already done for me while I was waiting. Then she ran across a solution that sounded promising: she walked me through finding the parental controls program on my hard drive and uninstalling. But the dreaded login screen reappeared, and it still would not accept my user ID and password.

We rebooted for good measure, and then she reset my password again, and then we were able to uninstall the program. Here's where it got stupid. I agreed to let her walk me through reinstalling it. Initially, I was able to log in with my email and password. I thanked Cherise profusely and started configuring the controls.

I set up a sub account for Ethan with a browsing curfew of 11 P.M. on weeknights and 2 A.M. on weekends.

"What?? Why do I have a curfew on the weekend? " 

"Well, you don't need to stay up all night playing games online," I said.

"I don't stay up past 2," he protested.

"Good, then you won't have a problem with the curfew," I said. "Now what user ID do you want?"

"Slave," he said flatly.

I swiveled in my chair so he could see my raised eyebrow. "Slave? That's the user ID you want?"

"Yes, 'cause that's what I am."

I pressed my lips together to hold in the laughter. "What password do you want?"


"Slave1? Really?"


"That's not a very strong password," I said, choking on my laughter.

"It's fine." Ethan was not amused.

"You do realize how embarrassing it's going to be if I have to call tech support, and they see my child is set up as Slave?"

Ethan chuckled in spite of himself. "Good."

I completed the setups and logged out. When I brought the browser window back up to test it out, I saw that "Slave" was now the default. I entered the password, Slave1.

"Login failed."

I tried it again. Slave, Slave1.

"Login failed."

With a sinking feeling, I tried my own ID and password.

"Login failed."


Ethan laughed out loud.

By this time it was 11:30, and there was no way I was up for another skirmish with Bob. So I did some more deep breathing and went to bed.

The next day, I rebooted and tried again. Wow, Bob was right about rebooting! Now the password was accepted. I immediately uninstalled the parental controls.

I don't know who's more relieved: me, or my Slave.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Allyson's Little Joys

Over the last couple of months, I've had some really deep pain at times, but lots of joy also. It started with random moments of happiness that caught me by surprise, and then days of contentment and peace with some laughter thrown in here and there. Sometimes I'm so happy for so many days in a row that I think I'm surely over the hard part, but then something brings the pain back to the surface, all the more hurtful in contrast with the joy that preceded it.

By far, my children bring me the greatest joy. I don't take anything for granted any longer, and my priorities are completely changed. As a result, I'm spending much more one-on-one time with Ethan and Allyson, and much more family time with the three of us. It's amazing and wonderful how quickly we are reaping the benefits.

I know Allyson's heart was broken right along with mine, but she continues to inspire me with her energy, her passion, and her way of finding joy in the simplest things. Here are just a few of the things that have made her happy recently...

Losing another tooth, and bringing it home in a tooth necklace. (One of her teachers pulled it!):

And another one, at the hands of the same teacher:

Lining up her favorite stuffed animals to serve as backup singers for a concert. See the pink rabbit, hanging by one foot from some stolen double-sided sticky tape? 
She sang and danced for me. So graceful in her outgrown tutu! (Man, I miss that gorgeous hair!)

Like her nana, she loves to entertain. When Grandma and Aunt Amy came over for game night, she wrote out name cards and menus for each of us, and earnestly took our orders.

I saved the best for last. Here she is with her beloved WatchD.O.G. (Dads of Great Students). She was so proud last week when Daddy volunteered at her school. The two of them got to help with morning announcements, and then he helped with a math game in her classroom.

How can I help but be happy, living with such sweetness?


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