Posts in August 2016

Anniversary Lagniappe

Steven was scheduled to speak at the Louisiana non-profit association’s annual conference in Baton Rouge on the day after our 9th wedding anniversary, which was a great reason to have a fun weekend away. However, it was a destination with recent police shootings and a devastating 1,000-year flood. (Steven: “We sure know how to pick ’em.”)

We flew into New Orleans and drove one mile west to Baton Rouge. Along the way, we passed several closed exits off highway I-10, and there was standing water nearly all along the road, but we made it safely to the hotel and conference site. Most of the damage affected the eastern part of the city and surrounding parishes/counties. We had the unique opportunity to watch local news of families in the worst areas (Ascension Parish, namely) plow through the clean up process with adrenaline and hope. The area has Catholic roots, and it was encouraging to see trust in God in action. I spoke with several conference attendees about the community’s endurance after Katrina – but the need for and lack of mental health services.

Our anniversary dinner was at a cute, downtown oyster bar – Jolie Pearl. We had a stack of various charbroiled oysters and fried shrimp before another storm came through to flood the already-soaked ground.

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The next day’s weather was pleasant, but HOT. Louisiana humid and sticky hot. Steven had to work all day at the conference, so I spent my time doing independent things. It’s now become a tradition to get a massage, haircut or shop while Steven speaks. I scheduled a haircut at a local Aveda salon, found free wi-fi in the mall food court to catch up on some work, and then went to a see a movie.

By the way, you HAVE to see Florence Foster Jenkins. It made me laugh-snort and cry, which means it was superb.

Afterwards, I met up with Steven at the conference for a closing social reception. On our way to New Orleans, we stopped for local favorite beignets and coffee with chicory at Coffee Call. Fun Fact: chicory is a woody plant that is ground into coffee from a French tradition to stretch coffee beans supply. Beignets (ben-YAYs) are fluffy funnel cake-tasting fried dough with powdered sugar dumped on top. Everywhere I’ve seen, they are ordered in 3s, but the ones at Coffee Call are huge – like the size of donuts. By mistake we ordered “to go” and fought powdered sugar in the rental car.

We didn’t check into our French Quarter hotel until after 8 p.m., though in New Orleans, that’s considered early. French Quarter isn’t quite as busy on a Thursday night as the weekend, but Deanie’s Seafood at 9 p.m. is still packed with families and couples eating a fried seafood dinner. Another pile!

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Later we wandered some New Orleans streets and enjoyed a quiet(er) evening in the hotel courtyard. It was just as pretty in the morning for breakfast:

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…which fueled us up for a day of walking around the city. I was in NOLA in early 2014 for the Alzheimer’s Association national conference, but hardly saw the city. Steven had never been, so we had a few things on our bucket list: Cafe du Monde (famous coffee and beignet restaurant along the Mississippi River), French Market, Jackson Square, hurricanes and poboys and live jazz at Preservation Hall. Later we explored the World War 2 Museum, rode a streetcar and watched entertainers along Bourbon Street. It was a fun, packed day, and we were incredibly sweaty.

Before leaving for the airport, we visited a New Orleans historical museum and walked around a few streets the next morning, and GUESS WHAT WE FOUND?!

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Leah’s Pralines! Of course we bought some.

It was a quick but good trip – a lagniappe (pronounced LAN-yap, a New Orleans term for a bonus gift or “a little something extra”). It’s hard to believe we’ve been married nearly 10 years. Our relationship has changed over the years: we don’t have long conversations or look longingly into each others’ eyes. We don’t often hold hands or touch in public. But we do enjoy being in close proximity. I’ve found that when we’re together in a new place without Wes, we like to wander around and observe locations together – many times we’re deep in thought and subconsciously link arms or hands. We’re also more apt to jokingly tease in a way that doesn’t happen as often at home.

Occasionally getting away is great for us. View our photos from the trip here.

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Posted: August 21st, 2016
Categories: Leah
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Clavicle Fracture

In keeping with our theme of first-time experiences, today was one for the books.

Around 12:15 a.m., Steven and I woke to a loud bang followed by a long wail from Wesley’s room. I was pretty amazed with Steven’s cat-like reflexes: he immediately sprung from the bed and ran to Wes’ side. I mean – within SECONDS. He found Wes with his right shoulder on the floor and head in the air.

He hasn’t fallen off the bed in a least a year, so this was very unexpected. When he had fallen before, Wes was able to calm down from the initial scare and fall back asleep. Steven did manage to calm him enough to tuck him into the covers and slip back into our bed this morning, but after a few minutes, we heard consistent whimpering.

It was my turn to check on our guy. I crouched down to his eye level, and he grabbed my finger. “Mama, it hurts.” Big tears from exhausted eyes. Quivering chin. I tried to turn him over from his stomach to his back, but he loudly protested.

“Where do you hurt?”
“My ARMMMMMM!” More cries. “Neck!”

I poked a few places until I found the spot – between his right shoulder and neck. “Buddy, I think you hurt your collar bone. I’m so sorry.” He started to cry hysterically – partly from pain, mostly from exhaustion.

He and I moved to the guest bed and I tried to prop him up as best as I could. He finished off the last of the Tylenol. We slept fitfully for the remainder of the night. I knew I would have to make an appointment in the morning.

I had doubted that anything was broken, so my original thought was to swing by the pharmacy clinic to have him checked for anything serious before heading to school. I had a meeting scheduled for 9:30 that I didn’t want to miss. Steven thought my plan needed rethinking: “They won’t be able to do anything at the clinic; better call his pediatrician.” (I’m so thankful for his clear brain when mine is so muddy with Mom-panic.)

They couldn’t see him until 10:30, so I packed up Wesley’s bag with ice packs, pillows and the DVD player and planned to keep him in my office until the doctor’s appointment (so I could make the 9:30 meeting). We arrived at work early and made camp…

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…until his pediatrician’s office called and asked us to “forget the 10:30 appointment and come right away.”  The rain made the commute seem like forever, and of course we had to stop for gas because that would have been another mess of a situation, but we made it in one piece (haha).

Wesley was obviously in pain, but he was still in good spirits and hammed it up with our nurse. We love her, and Wes feels very comfortable around her. To make things even better, she just went ahead and conducted his 5-year-old check up right then and there – which was supposed to happen later this month. (He grew a whopping 3 inches this year! 70th percentile for height/67th for weight.)

His pediatrician is equally as awesome. While she didn’t initially think it was a fracture, she noticed an uneven clavicle and ordered an x-ray just to be safe. She assured me that even if it WAS broken, it’s a self-healing area and easily treatable with over-the-counter pain medications.

Conveniently, the x-ray technicians were just below her office. Wincing more frequently, Wes still handled the x-ray like a champ:

“So, did your doctor tell you to go back to her office?”
“No, she told us to go home and that we’d receive a phone call after the results were given.”
“I’ll call her right now. I think you better go on back up and talk now.”

Uh oh. I gathered at that point that it was a true break. Bummer! And then: WHAT NOW?! Somehow I had forgotten her reassurance from earlier.

We went back upstairs and they immediately took us to a waiting room. The doctor came in, and she looked about as surprised as we did. “It’s a fracture!”

I asked a ton of questions because amazingly, neither Steven or I or anyone in my house growing up had ever broken a bone. Did you know that your body gathers all its calcium to cover a bone fracture? A deposit calcifies and you can actually feel it under the skin as a “bump,” and it shows up on a follow-up x-ray (which we scheduled in 3 weeks). Eventually the bump flattens out and takes the shape of the bone it healed. Amazing!

She said a sling might help in addition to pain medications. By the time we were ready to leave, I felt relieved – like this wasn’t a big deal. Our nurse gave us a free sample of Advil and told us where to buy a child’s sling.

The pain medicine was starting to wear off during the sling fitting session at the pharmacy, but again, he handled it well. He talked more about getting soaked from the heavy rain than his “break in his neck.”

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We met a group of coworkers for lunch before heading back to the office to get some work finished. He happily laid on the floor and curled up to watch a couple movies. He was so quiet that I nearly forgot he was with me until a giggle or, “Mama, this movie is so silly!” escaped his mouth.

My coworkers were great with him today. He was quiet enough that they were productive, and he was sweet and sassy enough that they wanted to engage him in conversation toward the end of the work day. He loved the attention and special “office time” – offerings of candy, kitchenette treats and even tattoos! Health fair swag are usually kids’ treasures.

He “wasn’t quite ready” to leave for home when I was. In fact, after finding a cake pop, he licked his fingers and said, “This is the best place I ever been to.”  #TakeYourSontoWorkDay?

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Changing clothes is difficult. We decided it was okay to go without a pajama shirt, which he giggled about. “My belly is showing!” He was a little cautious about his bed, too, but we installed a guard rail and loaded him up with pain killers. So far, he’s sleeping soundly.

What a weird day. I’m pretty proud of him, though. I don’t think I’d be nearly as pleasant after “busting up my collar bone,” as he puts it.

Wish us luck over the next 3-4 weeks!

Posted: August 15th, 2016
Categories: Leah
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A Summer of Firsts, or It’s Good to be 5

Much has happened in the last 8+ weeks, including several first-time experiences for our growing kid. As my mom has said in response to Wesley’s reports, “it’s pretty good to be five.”

First (Minor) Celebrity Encounter
27797142723_96e0d03001_kWe participated in the summer reading program at our local library, and one of the prizes Wesley earned was a voucher for tickets to an Indianapolis Indians game. Library Night happened to be held on his actual birthday, and we scored some front-row free seats right behind the bullpen for the opposing team.

The pitcher sitting directly in front of Wes was Elvis Araujo (Lehigh Valley IronPigs / Phillies). He kept glancing back and winking at our fidgety son. It might have been the “I’m 5 Today” sticker badge that looked very worn from the day’s activities, or it might have just been because he’s a nice guy: Mr. Araujo turned around, smiled, and gave Wes the baseball he was practicing with. Wes lit up.

Wes ended up getting too unruly and fidgety for our cool seats, so we packed up our Monday Night Dollar Menu hotdogs, popcorn and cracker jack and headed to the lawn seats to stretch out.

Instead of watching the game, Wes ran around and threw his new baseball, and eventually Steven joined in. Their game of catch was so wild that they lost the baseball to the fenced in area around the scoreboard – which eventually featured Wes in lights for his birthday!

It took some coaxing via social media to get a staff member to help us retrieve the baseball and turn Wesley’s frown into an exhausted birthday smile.

First Chewing Gum
My sister started a tradition with my niece and nephews: once they turned five, they had access to big-kid perks – bubble gum and soda. Why not ride on the band wagon? We aren’t big soda/coke/pop drinkers in this house, and Wes wasn’t impressed with sparkling water. But THIS:


First Booster Seat
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His Diono car seat is built to last up to 100 lbs, and it’s solid. Supposedly you can remove the 5-point harness straps by following the manual diagram, but I ended up having to CUT it off because it was so sturdy. Whoops. Guess it’s a good thing we’re not backtracking!

It’s a small change, but he does feel big. I mean, look at the size of him!

First Time Off Training Wheels
He and Steven practiced off and on for a week. It started with, “I think I want to take off the training wheels,” and accelerated from there. We can now take our evening walks with the bike (although it does require a little more time because of the occasional fall).

We finally invested in knee and elbow pads to address some of those battle wounds.

First Bad Haircut
Two failed attempts to get an appointment at our typical kids’ haircut place resulted in a last-minute rush to a cheap salon near our house that doesn’t specialize in kids’ cuts. I figured they’d know what I meant by “all-around trim” when glancing at Wesley’s moppy hair. While he was hamming it up with the stylist (I was pretty entertained by overhearing his offbeat humor and engaging conversation), I waited in the designated area. Truthfully, when combed and wet, it looked fine. We paid and left for home.

At dinner, his hair started to dry and looked…moppy. Steven said, “Did ya get a haircut? Because it looks the same.” At first I thought he was joking that we should go back to fix it. Being the apologist, I tried to find an excuse for the stylist but was unsuccessful. Steven went outside to finish yard work, and Wes and I went back to the salon 30 minutes before it closed.

They were surprised to see us. I asked them to trim it shorter, and they did. A LOT shorter. Wes continued to be snarky with the stylist, but there was a slight panicky tone in his voice: “What are you doing?” “What does my hair look like?!”

In what seemed like ages, he hopped down from the chair. He had the 5-year-old decency to wait until we were in the parking lot to announce “that was the worst haircut ever.” I thought he was still on his joke-kick, but nope. He really hated it.

I started to chuckle about the last few hours. “It’s only hair; it will grow back, Bud.” I couldn’t stop giggling. Once home, Steven got in on the fun-tease, and while still slightly annoyed, Wes started to laugh back. He had so many hair snippings all over him that a shower before bedtime was necessary. Bubbles everywhere; family laughter; short, short hair.

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First Tennis Lesson
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When t-ball lessons ended, we asked Wes if he wanted to try a new sport this fall. “Maybe tennis!”

His answer thrilled Steven, so I found an opening with the area National Junior Tennis League. I mentioned the affordable cost to our Reynolds friends, and they signed up Beatrice! They had their first lesson last weekend, and it was pretty adorable.

Wes now wants to play tennis with Steven nearly every evening on the street in front of our house.

First Goodbye, Hello, New School
IMG_4342Because his Prep-K class at a different school doesn’t start until the end of August, we are in a weird limbo period. At his current preschool/daycare, the kids transitioned classrooms, so he had to say goodbye to his favorite teacher, Miss Kelly, and join a temporary class (Sunflowers!) for a couple weeks.

Earlier this year, Steven and I made the decision to wait for Kindergarten. He’s probably very ready for Kindergarten based on his daily experience in the classroom, but we felt like it was a unanimous hesitation, and why push it? He’s our only kid!

The same private school I attended as a kid offers a Prep-K class for those in his age bracket – in fact, the age cut off for Kindergarten is 5 by June 30 (his bday is in July). This means he won’t be the only 5-year-old in his class! We’re excited to experience a “real” school environment this year – complete with breaks, after school care and lunchboxes.

He attended a practice Round Up Day earlier this week to visit classrooms, the library and meet teachers. Another few orientations are down the pipe line (is it normal to receive emails nearly every other day from schools as a new family?!), and then class officially starts in 2 weeks. He can’t wait.

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With all these other “firsts,” I’m kinda glad I don’t have to adjust to Kindergarten Mom just yet.

Posted: August 10th, 2016
Categories: Leah
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