A little good and a little bad…

The two weeks have been pretty intense here. There have been lots of ups and downs. Frankly, dear readers, I’m exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I’m just worn down. Every time I think that life is on the upswing, it seems like it comes crashing down again. Here’s the rundown of what’s been going on.

  • My father e-mailed Bro and me last week to let us know that our aunt (his sister) has cancer. Not sure why he e-mailed us that shocking news, but he did. Aunt J (in her late 50’s) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be having surgery to remove the cancer early next week. She’s roughly the same age when her mother (my grandmother) was diagnosed (and later died from) the same type of cancer. Aunt J’s prognosis is unknown right now, so once the surgery is over, we’ll know more. My father’s side of the family is plagued with cancer. So far, both grandparents and two aunts have died from cancer.
  • My relationship with Aunt J has been strained for many years. But, to know she’s going through this breaks my heart. She’s never been married, has a very small support system, and not a lot of income. She’ll be leaning heavily on my parents to get her through this, and I’ll be doing what I can as well.
  • Cadet has basically stopped sleeping through the night. He’s now awake for vast portions of the night/early morning. Over the last two weeks, he’s slept through the night only one or two nights. We have tried everything to get him back on a good schedule and nothing has been working. It’s insanely frustrating, because I know he’s exhausted, but nothing I can do will get him back to sleep. At this point, he’s spending most of the early morning in bed with McRuger (not always sleeping, but at least not crying).
  • Pumpkin’s sleep has been vastly disturbed by Cadet’s screaming/crying tantrums in the middle of the night. And so he’s not sleeping well either. No matter what, he’s awake at 2am…and it takes him forever to go back to sleep. In general, he’s a good sleeper…but conditions haven’t been optimal.
  • As you can imagine, both McRuger and I are exhausted. I’m averaging about 4 hours of continuous sleep a night (probably 6 hours total, if you could the mini-naps I take between feedings). McRuger is getting more, but that’s because he has to go to work in the mornings.
  • The sleep stuff has gotten so bad we’re actually talking about hiring a baby sleep specialist (several have been highly recommended by friends). That’s not something I ever thought I would need to do, but the whole family needs sleep.
  • McRuger’s “paternity” leave is half over. We were going to hold a garage sale, but it rained the day we had planned it.  We’re basically spending the remainder of his leave getting little things done: curtains up, garage cleaned, kitchen reorganized, bedroom fixed up…. Our plans for a mini-vacation went out the window with the lack of sleep…and then my aunt diagnosis.
  • On the “good news” side of things, my hair stylist came back from maternity leave! So, for the first time in a year, I have a decent hair cut.
  • We had a wonderful visit from AE. She’s just gotten back from Africa, and spent the entire day with us. AE and I had some great conversations and it felt good to connect with her again. Nothing like a best friend to brighten a day! And we had sushi to top it off!
  • My car is finally back from the body shop, and looks shiny new. We spent a good deal of money to outfit it with everything for having two boys: kick mats, seat protectors, cup holders, and a mirror. I finally installed the two decals I really wanted on it (one is a mandala, the other is more geek-related). I love my car, and it seems like every day I discover another reason to love it.
  • Just as my car is back from the shop, McRuger’s car has gone into the mechanic for about $2,000 in repairs. Mostly it’s just maintenance stuff that we’ve been putting off, so we wanted to get it done while McRuger is home.
  • Last week, I met with a local homeschooling expert. We had about an hour meeting over lunch at a local cafe. Originally, I was meeting with her to get more information on her “private school for homeschoolers”…but it rapidly morphed into a meeting about how I could (and should) open my own. At the end of the hour, I felt very good about moving forward with homeschooling and doing it independently if I choose to.
  • Cadet and I continue to work on some “homeschooling” lessons every day. Right now, we’re working on his fine motor skills and doing lots of painting and cutting. We also spend a lot of time outside digging in the dirt, drawing in chalk, or playing with cars. It seems like such a small thing, but I really try to give him the space he needs to learn on his own. Cadet’s imaginary life has been amazing these days. I want to bottle the joy that Cadet exudes when he’s playing with his toys.
  • Pumpkin is such a delightful baby. He’s so smily and communicative (in ways Cadet never was). Seriously, he just lights up a room and he loves meeting new people. He turned 4 months old and I just can’t get enough of his smiles.

I’m reading your blogs when I can…answering emails when I can…just trying to keep up with life. Whew…it’s not easy being an adult sometimes!

This wasn’t such a “microblog”…but I hope you’ll forgive me! To find out more about MicroBlog Mondays, please go here….



Categories: Cadet, Family, McRuger, Pumpkin, sleep | 7 Comments

Post-placement thoughts…

Last Thursday was our first post-placement visit with our social worker (SW). The amount of projects and organization we completed before she came was kind of astonishing…although with Cadet around, it doesn’t last long. Anyway, the meeting took about 2.5 hours, and it was quite in-depth.

We went over our copious amounts of paperwork, she asked a ton of questions about our relationship with MsV, and even had us fill out even MORE paperwork (ugh). After all of that, she toured the house…looking in every closet, in the garage, and looking everywhere in the backyard. She was thorough, to say the least. I’m glad that we had finished everything we had…

Overall, SW seemed happy about where things stood with the adoption. She was very impressed with how cute Pumpkin is (well, duh!!). Oh, and she was so happy that Cadet was interested and involved in the process of the interview (he wanted to have paperwork to fill in too!!!). And she seemed very pleased with our thoughts on adoption (i.e. our openness with MsV).

The only problem with the whole meeting was that our attorney hadn’t informed SW about the 3rd potential biological father…and we didn’t have all the information. However, it turned out to be a good thing…because she spoke with our attorney..and then MsV…and then the 3rd potential bio-father. Apparently, he’s retracting his statement that he’s the father of Pumpkin and MsV was very happy about that. His rights will be severed on (or around) the 20th of this month! And since SW spoke to him directly, she’s adding her statement to the court petition to terminate his rights.

The next steps are pretty simple. Both McRuger and I need to have our physicals completed before she comes back in 3 months, there is some more paperwork which needs to be completed by us, and Pumpkin needs some paperwork filled in by his doctor at 5 months. She said that our finalization date should be before the end of July.

She left, and life returned to normal. We spent the rest of the weekend, resting…or at least trying to (Cadet has stopped sleeping through the night again).


If you’re curious about Microblog Mondays, please CLICK HERE to learn more.



Categories: Adoption, Family, Pumpkin | 9 Comments

Something a bit more uplifting

It’s a rare, quiet afternoon here. Pumpkin is sleeping. Cadet is quietly playing with his cars and eating a bowl of dry cereal (his choice). And, instead of prepping for our first post-placement visit on Thursday, I thought I would write about some of the good things happening here.

  • We are planning for our first vacation as a family of four. We’re going to take the boys to the snow for a few days. Cadet’s at an age where he would really enjoy it, and has been asking questions about it (after all the talk about snow around Christmas-time). One of McRuger’s co-workers has offered us use of his timeshare (!) so, it shouldn’t strain our budget too much.
  • Cadet’s vocabulary and language usage has sky-rocketed recently. It’s truly insane. He’s asking questions, making inferences, narrating his whole life, and commenting on everything he sees (“mama, there’s a lot of cars going in that direction this morning…”). He’s also been starting to tell us what he needs in terms of his sensory needs: bean bin, bath time, drive, or quiet time. His speech therapist (who we had a month-long break from) came back last week and was astounded. He’s grasping concepts and words beyond his age level…if you can understand him. That’s the big thing these days, understanding him. McRuger says he understands about 75% of what he says, friends/family understand about 50%…and I am about 90%, and usually get it once I ask for him to say it again. It’s such a shocking change from just a year ago. I can’t tell you how much I love hearing his voice.
  • Pumpkin is starting to “talk”. He’s very talkative at 3am and loves to smile and engage with people. He’s quite the smily little fella. He’s lost some of his baby hair, and has a bald spot on the back of his head…but those are normal things. Pumpkin is our little snuggle muffin.
  • Cadet, for the first time in over a year, fell asleep in my lap last week. He was exhausted from waking up early, and was having a bad tantrum. After his tears had stopped, he climbed up into my lap, curled up, and promptly fell asleep. I held him for the longest time. Savoring the feeling of him being calm and happy. While, I love seeing him grow up, I know that there are some things he won’t be doing as often (like falling asleep in my lap)…and I will miss them!
  • The first post-placement visit will happen on Thursday. I’m honestly not looking forward to it. Apparently, it will take 3-4 hours and there will be a home inspection. Our post placement visits for Cadet’s adoption were 30 minutes or less…so this will be interesting. Needless to say, we’re scouring the house (I even had our cleaning lady come a week early!). However, it’s prompted us to get some projects done and do lots of organization. The front of the house is pretty much ready to go, now we just need to finish up the guest room and master bedroom.
  • I made a really great Mornay (cheese) sauce to go over brown rice and broccoli the other night. Seriously, it was quite good. I made it with cheddar, parm, and a bit of jack cheese…lots of pepper and a bit of nutmeg. Cadet couldn’t get enough. I’m really trying hard to try new things to add to our meals. Since Cadet and McRuger will prettying much eat anything, it gives me permission to go a little wild.
  • Speaking of eating, we had dinner with my cousins this last weekend. One of my cousins has a son, just slightly older than Cadet. My cousin was in awe of how much Cadet would eat (as in variety, not amount). She asked me how we got so lucky. McRuger explained that we have always been very insistent that Cadet at least try new things…and most of them he likes. Sure, he loves the typical “toddler foods”: crackers, hot dogs, pasta…but he will really eat anything. I can only think of a handful of foods he really doesn’t enjoy: mashed potatoes and green beans are the big ones right now. And frankly, if my kid wants to eat toasted nori, poached chicken, and tomatoes…I’m really okay not forcing him to eat his green beans.
  • I’m getting better at managing the house with two kids. It’s still not easy, but I’m getting a pattern down which is working. It’s really important to me that I have a hot dinner on the table for Cadet and McRuger (even if he has to serve himself). It makes life seem so much more “normal”.
  • We had a good deal of rain last week/weekend. It was glorious. Cadet is a true lover of weather (just like me). He loves watching the sky and when he sees dark clouds, he runs to tell me that “a storm is coming, mama”. And when he feels the wind and rain, he has the biggest smile on his face.
  • I’m taking several online classes at the moment. Two of them dealing exclusively with home schooling, which have proved to be very helpful in planning. My favorite online class at the moment is one on creating sacred spaces in your home. Oh my. I’m learning so much about creating warm, inviting, and loving spaces for children (and adults)…and how it helps everyone feel more centered and warm.
  • McRuger and I have had a few very productive conversations about communication and expectations recently. They have gone a long way towards helping us feel more connected and loved. It’s truly amazing how much we love each other…it’s just a matter of communicating that while we’re tired and overwhelmed. It feels like we have a bit of our old spark back!
  • After a few more calls to the insurance company we were having an issue with, things have sorted themselves out. My car is scheduled to be repaired next week…which is awesome!

Well, the boys are awake and I have a long list of things to get done. Hope you are doing well!

Categories: Other Stuff | 7 Comments

And the hits (literally) keep on coming…

So, last Monday, I took Cadet to the grocery store to pick up a few things. McRuger was home with Pumpkin. I was driving home (in my new car) when someone merged into my rear bumper/rear quarter panel. This was on a perfectly clear day, on a perfectly straight stretch of road, and she hit my car. My brand new car. 

We went through the song and dance of exchanging information. McRuger advised me to get a statement from her admitting fault…which she did. We also exchanged phone numbers (a very helpful thing later on). We got to talking, she had been having a very bad day, and had spent the night in the ER in pre-term labor pains and bleeding (she was only 19 weeks along). She had been dealing with infertility and this was her first pregnancy. I told her we’d gone through infertility too and knew how hard it was. We talked about local doctors and I highly recommended a few that we liked. She and I bonded over that…but Cadet was getting antsy…so I drove home. We got the damaged assessed later in the week, and it’s almost $3000 in damage (half labor, half parts).

Dealing with her insurance company on this has been a nightmare. This is the other driver’s insurance company (US.AA). And in the 6 days since the accident, we have talked to them at least every day…and every day they have lied to us (flat out lies!). At first they claimed that the other driver was on the phone filing a claim, so we couldn’t file one at the same time (lie). They they claimed that she had filled out an online form, but hadn’t actually filled in the part about this being her fault (lie). We tried to actually talk to the adjuster assigned, but he never returned our calls. They claimed that they were unable to reach the other driver (despite multiple attempts…lie). One operator actually put McRuger on hold while he “called the other driver” and then said he left her a message (both lies). How do we know these are lies? Because finally McRuger got angry. He called the insurance company, asked to speak to a supervisor and told them that this call was being recorded. The supervisor eventually admitted that they had been lying to us. And basically were trying to “wait out the claim” (if they couldn’t “reach” their client in 30 days, the claim would be denied). McRuger put them on hold and called the other driver. And they talked. She claims, and I believe her, to have gotten no messages from her insurance. And she was pissed that they had been lying to us. McRuger connected the two calls (the insurance company had been on hold the whole time) and let them speak.

Finally, we seem to have this sorted out so my car can be restored! Thank heavens McRuger knows how to handle these sorts of things. Anyway, that was Friday afternoon. While we were dealing with that…things with my parents were getting bad…

My parents live in a relatively isolated area. And, that area has been hit with some very wet/windy weather. On Friday, my mom was home using the computer (dad was at work). She heard an explosion, and simultaneously received a large shock from the computer. The house started filling with smoke. She got out of the house, and called 9-1-1…thinking the house was on fire from a lightning strike.

It took a while to discover what had happened. The transformer on the electrical line across from their house had exploded, sending two (2!!!) 20,000 volt charges through the house electrical system. The first one fried the circuit box, the second fried everything else (lightbulbs, electronics, house wiring). My mom was lucky to not have received a more serious shock.

It took 5 hours for the electrical line to be repaired and the event investigated, but my parents were told not to turn on anything in the house until an electrician/inspector could come to examine ALL the wiring in the house. My parent’s house is old (built in the 1920’s) and has been updated several times, but there are some parts of the house which have more antique wiring.

At this point, the house is uninhabitable (no lights, no fridge/stove, no hot water, and no heat). While they have the wood cook stove, they have been advised not to use it until the electrical in the house has been cleared (the fear is that the heat from the stove would damage something further). My father is staying at the house during the nights, making sure no one breaks in. Both of them are there during the day. They have to clear out the entire attic (something that hasn’t been done EVER) and remove all appliances (they have been damaged). They also have to clear anything that might be near an outlet (for the inspectors).

Currently, the plan is to have the inspector out early this week, clear the house, and then work on moving back in. My dad isn’t so confident it will be that easy. If any of the wiring has shorted or burned (which seems pretty likely), that will have to be replaced. It’s entirely possible that they will have to re-wire the entire house (which isn’t cheap or a fast thing to get done…).

And to top everything off…we had a power outrage last night which lasted almost 9 hours. You try keeping an SPD kiddo asleep without his white noise machine or sleep clock. He’s been up and down since midnight…and he’s actually been awake since 3am…

So, yeah…quite a week it’s been…

Please keep my parents in your thoughts…

And I hope that you are doing well!


Categories: Cadet, Family, Household, Marriage, McRuger, thoughts | 10 Comments

Some quick news…

Good news! We received Pumpkin’s blood test results…and….he’s totally healthy. His neutrophil counts were 2400 (anything over 1000 is “normal”). His neutrophils accounted for 29% of his total white blood cell counts, which is low, but totally normal. Yay. This was just the case of viral suppression and not anything more dire. We are finally done with isolation!

Categories: Other Stuff | 12 Comments

Meeting Luna…

The cars I have owned/driven in my life have been pretty diverse. My first was a 1979 Ford, which I nicknamed the Godfather (it was black, boat-like, and horribly undependable). My second car was a brand new Honda Civic, which my parents purchased for me and I paid them back. I loved that car. It was the most basic model…didn’t even have A/C. But it was reliable, pretty, and got great gas milage. I drove that beauty into the ground over 7 years. Then, I was gifted my grandma’s Volvo…and ancient model that seemed luxurious compared to my Civic. Then, I my aunt gifted me her old Acura…another old model…but it only had 40K miles on it and had been meticulously cared for. In fact, that’s the car which McRuger drives daily. He loves that car.

When McRuger and I started living together, he had me drive his Hyundai Elantra. It was new-ish, had more room, and had better gas milage (and I was driving 2 hours every day). I came to view the Elantra as mine, and so did McRuger. It later became the “family car”. I love the memories that we made in that car…

Well, my car, the Elantra was totaled late last week. And it wasn’t even a close call. The collision shop looked at just the cosmetic damage and said it would be at least 6K, and that wasn’t even taking into account the structural repairs that would have to happen. A second opinion confirmed it.

Our insurance offered us a settlement, and we took it. It was fairly generous, and would provide a great downpayment on a new car. We applied for a loan, and got a good interest rate from our credit union.

I have never picked out a car before. Not once. Mine had all been chosen for me. So, this was going to be a whole new experience. And, I dove in with a ton of research. After a few days, McRuger and I narrowed our choices down to 4: Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda 5, Toyota Highlander, Honda CRV. McRuger and I debated about our “non-negotiables” and what our price should stay at (while we’d gotten a good loan, we didn’t want to have to use all of it). There were some tough talks about money and budget and how to better manage our investments. We have several upcoming expenses that we need to start saving for…sigh…

Then came the test drives…challenging with two kids..one of whom isn’t supposed to be in contact with people. But, we did it. One of us going out…driving…coming back…other going out…driving…coming back…comparing notes. A few trips we made together, just keeping Pumpkin in the car or covered in a stroller (in open-air spaces).

In the end, we decided to go with Hyundai. They have a great warranty program, we rarely had issues with the Elantra, and they were offering us some great deals. We test drove new and used, and eventually decided on the Santa Fe Sport (turbo). It’s a 2014, so we got a great deal since they were clearing out the inventory.

McRuger is a master negotiator! He spent 5 hours at the dealership negotiating the staff down almost 7K from the asking price, and they threw in a whole bunch of extras (cargo nets, all-weather floor mats, tire locks…).

Overall, I’m thrilled with the car. It didn’t meet all of our initial requirements (seating for at least 6, being the big one)…but it felt right. It’s perfect for our family, at least in my opinion. McRuger likes it too, but is more focused right now on other things.

Yesterday we said goodbye to the Elantra. McRuger and I took the kids to the collision shop, and as they stayed in the car, we cleaned up the last few bits from the car. It was a good opportunity to have Cadet say goodbye to the car…he loves “the blue car” and he’s been asking about it since it “got hurt and went to the doctor”. We explained that the “white car” was now our family car, and we came up with the name: Luna. The name was actually inspired by the fact that Cadet thought the car looked like the moon. Moon = Luna…worked perfectly. Cadet identifies with things a little better if there’s a concrete name for it, especially if it’s new.

So, Luna’s parked in the driveway…all sparkly and with that new-car smell. McRuger put in the all-weather mats (not that we need them now…but I like that they are so rugged). I love the back-up camera, the bluetooth integration, and the sat-nav (not that I use it that much, but it’s still nice to have). There’s only 163 miles on her right now…and I get a little flutter of excitement when I have to run errands. In fact, today I just took the boys for a drive during Pumpkin’s early afternoon nap.

Categories: Choices, Family, Household, McRuger, money | 5 Comments

What is too much?

Pumpkin was released from the hospital late last Friday afternoon, almost 48 hours after we’d been admitted. His primary doctor was wonderful and helped me understand quite a bit about what was going on with Pumpkin.

Pumpkin was officially diagnosed with Influenza A. His cultures came back positive for it. Trouble is, he’s not really symptomatic…at all (he has a bit of a runny nose). However, the doctor wasn’t sure if that was causing his severely low white blood cell count.

So, Pumpkin’s WBC (white blood cells) were low in a very specific way, he’s neutropenic. Meaning the neutrophils which are supposed to fight infections (bacterial/fungal) were impossibly low. When an infant has neutropenia, infections can become deadly very quickly. His immune system is compromised. It’s possible that he’s neutropenic because the Influenza A is causing what’s called “viral suppression” (the virus itself is suppressing his immune response). However, generally, that would mean the child is very symptomatic. Which Pumpkin isn’t.

We were released because he hadn’t had a fever in 24 hours, his WBC count was up slightly (at 500 when we left), and he had no signs of being really sick. But, we’re under strict instructions to keep our family pretty isolated, recheck his blood levels every week, and if we see Pumpkin getting sick (fever, persistent cough)…RUSH to the hospital. This means no playdates, no outings, no contact with anyone who might be sick…and especially avoid anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated or has contact with children. With such a suppressed neutrophil count, Pumpkin can’t fight off anything right now.

In addition, both Cadet and Pumpkin are on Tamiflu (an anti-viral) to keep symptoms less severe and help shorten how long the kids are sick. Oh yes, did I mention…EVERYONE is sick (except me). McRuger is SLOWLY getting over his flu, Cadet is a few days behind him, my mom is sickly too (but she went home), and Pumpkin is still fighting off his flu.

So, right now, delivery services are our friends. Groceries, Ama.zon, even the occasional meal delivery is keeping me sane right now. McRuger is back at work (sigh…) and the days are long.


As I was saying, we were released on Friday afternoon. We got home, settled in, and I went to bed really early. McRuger took a late shift to allow me to really sleep in. At 1:30 am, there was a car accident on our street corner. One of the cars bounced off another, and rolled straight onto our lawn…smashing my car in the driveway (the family car)…and eventually landed on our neighbor’s lawn. Five police cars, a firetruck, and an ambulance were all parked outside our house…and I slept through it.

The upshot is, my car is most likely totaled. Part of the back quarter panel was ripped off the car, the suspension is definitely involved, and there’s some muffler/exhaust damage. The preliminary report from the collision shop puts the damage at at least $6000 dollars, and that’s without looking at the undercarriage of the car.

So, either the car is totaled (Blue Book value of about $5000) or there’s going to be lots of repairs. If it’s totaled, we will get a new car (yay)…but that’s a purchase we wanted to put off another year if we could.

Thankfully, with all of this, McRuger happened to be awake…he got the insurance information on both the other drivers and got the information from the police officers. Also, thankfully, the car didn’t hit my mother’s car, which was parked just 6 inches in front of mine!!

We have a very nice rental car for the moment. And now we just wait for the insurance companies to figure out what happens next!


Monday was my birthday. With all the events going on, it was a very low-key affair…which I was not happy with (birthdays are big in my family)! McRuger kind of bungled everything in regards to my birthday, and we ended up having a huge fight about it. Two of my local friends (knowing that things were chaotic for me), actually surprised me with cupcakes and a few little presents. It was sweet of them.

McRuger made it up to me the next day by giving me a shopping spree at the local-ish Le Creuset outlet store. I replaced my dutch oven (which my mother ruined around Christmas), and picked up a few other things. So, that was nice!


All of this has coincided with Cadet really “enjoying” being 3.5…and he’s tyrannical. He’s on a hair-trigger these days. He loves to test boundaries and break rules we have established. He knows he’s not supposed to bounce on the couch, but if he thinks I’m not looking…he’ll bounce until I notice. Or he’ll scream and run away from me if I tell him he needs to change out of his pajamas. Just last night he threw a 30 minute tantrum because I wouldn’t let him jump up and down in the tub (a standard rule here). He hopped out of the tub and ran naked through the house screaming (waking Pumpkin and setting us up for a rough night). It’s gotten to the point that I can’t go out with him without McRuger (one to keep a firm hand on Cadet…another to hold Pumpkin). Not that we’re going out a lot these days, but it means I can’t even take Cadet on a walk around the neighborhood. I know it’s just a phase, but it’s so frustrating.

And now I should go….

I hope you all are doing well! I send you all lots of love!


Categories: Other Stuff | 7 Comments

So, that’s quite a bit to have happening….*update below post*

Let me start off with the big news…Pumpkin was admitted to the hospital late last night for a severely low white blood cell count. He’s doing well, but we’re waiting on answers.

How did we get here? Well, that’s a longer story. On Sunday, McRuger started getting sick: congestion, body aches, fever, cough…the flu or a cold. By Monday, he was worse. And on Tuesday it was pretty obvious he was flat-out sick. He was running a fever of 102, and basically laid in bed all day just staring at the wall or sleeping. I was on “kid duty”, 24-7.

I got McRuger in to see his doctor early Wednesday morning. The doctor examined him, declared it to be a bad flu, and sent him home with cough syrup and a nasal spray. By the time McRuger got home, Cadet was running a fever, a low grade one at 99.8…but he was also suspiciously cuddly.

Around noon, I sent McRuger and Cadet out to pick up some groceries and to pick up McRuger’s prescriptions. After they left, I changed Pumpkin’s diaper and noticed the skin on his chest was rough (like sand paper) and “pimply”. I gave him his bottle and then, since he was feeling warm, I took his temperature (rectally). It thermometer turned red and flashed 100.9. Rash plus fever, generally means a trip to the doctor.

Within minutes I had Pumpkin an appointment to see a doctor in our normal clinic (but not his normal doctor). At the appointment, I gave the history, they got a urine sample (not fun), and did a blood draw (traumatic). Pumpkin’s temp was normal, so we were sent home. And the doctor told me that he’d call with the results of the tests. And that we were to follow up with Pumpkin’s normal doctor in the morning.

Frankly, I thought that was the end of it. We went home, had dinner, got Cadet to bed. McRuger went off to take a nap, and then the phone rang. It was the doctor…bad news. Pumpkin’s WBC (white blood cells) were severely low. In a child his age, they’d expect Pumpkin’s counts to be in the 1000-1500 range. Below 1000 is “low”, below 500 is “severely low”. Pumpkin’s count was 400…not good. The doctor directed me to immediately take Pumpkin to the hospital, and that they’d have a room ready for him.

Cue some amount of “mama panic”. I packed an overnight bag, the diaper bag, and headed out. McRuger stayed behind to watch Cadet and sleep.

By 8:30pm, we were admitted and I saw the doctor around 9:30. This doctor was wonderful. He explained everything to me very clearly and helped put some of my panic aside. According to him, Pumpkin’s low WBC count probably means he’s fighting off the same virus that McRuger has and Cadet is fighting. The low count, while unusual, isn’t terribly worrisome yet, mainly because Pumpkin is acting totally normal and the rest of his blood/urine tests came back completely normal. Admitting him to the hospital was/is (??? I’m not sure what tense to use) just a precaution, in case his fever came back or he got worse before we got more information.

We worked up a plan, he examined Pumpkin (totally normal), and told the nurses to check on us every 4 hours. And he left me to fitfully sleep (I’ve gotten about 3 hours so far).

The plan, right now, is simple. Re-take Pumpkin’s blood work (the tech just came by), do a nasal swab (not fun), and see what time does. If this next round of tests show Pumpkin’s levels rising, we’re all good and we will be released later today. If, his levels are still severely low, then we move to the next round of testing: lumbar puncture, bone marrow aspiration, and so on…to see what’s causing all this (cancer, certain blood disorders, etc…)

Pumpkin’s vital signs have been normal all night. No fever, nothing unusual. I’m hopeful that the tests will show that his counts are rising and we can go home. No matter what, this will now be something we will have to check on when Pumpkin gets sick. Some kids just have low WBC counts and are more prone to infection. We’ll have to see. Right now, it’s just a waiting game.


Sadly, this whole trip to the hospital was not the worst thing about yesterday. We also got two additional bad pieces of news.

1) McRuger’s father is very ill. We aren’t sure with what, but for the first time in 20 years…he’s canceled on of his teaching engagements. He’s apparently barely able to function. We don’t know much more than that, so please send some healing thoughts his way!

2) We also got a call from our adoption attorney yesterday with some news. A third potential birth father has stepped forward and is, right now, demanding to parent Pumpkin. MsV is terribly upset and swears this man isn’t the biological father. This man, however, seems to feel strongly that he’s the father and wants to assert his rights. Our attorney spoke with him, and it didn’t go well. He was very aggressive and it wasn’t a productive conversation. He’s being served with paperwork today, and he’s being given options for how to move forward. Most likely, he’ll demand a DNA test (fine with us), and not sign away his parental rights. Our attorney seems to think that most of this is bluster and shock at hearing the news about the adoption (we’re unclear as to who told him about all this). If the DNA comes back that he’s the father, well, we will just cross that bridge when we come to it.


Meanwhile, please keep Pumpkin in your thoughts and prayers. I’ll keep you all updated when we know more. My mom is driving down today and so we will have a little extra support in that way. But, we can always use some positive thoughts!!


I spoke with the doctor. Pumpkin’s WBC count is higher (564), but not as high as she was expecting. They took some more blood, and suggested we stay another night. The reasoning is complicated, but sound. So, Pumpkin and I are settling in for another 24 hours in this room.

Categories: Other Stuff | 14 Comments

New Year…just a bit late.

Sigh. I am just getting over being sick. Saturday I had a horrible sneezing attack (it wasn’t pretty) and it seems to have cleared my sinuses. Since then, I’ve felt pretty normal. My immune system is shot due to lack of sleep and not getting enough exercise. Grrrrrrr. Lots of things have taken a second fiddle to my being sick: thank you notes, correspondence, cleaning, laundry, cooking, and organization.

McRuger and I rang in the new year separately. He, feeding Pumpkin. Me, asleep in our bed. There were a ton of fireworks at midnight (it felt like the Battle of Lexington was raging over our house), but thankfully Cadet didn’t wake up. It felt oddly “adult” to not be doing anything other than normal things on the holiday. Heck, I didn’t even cook a special meal. Oh well.

We seem to be reaching a rhythm with Pumpkin and sleep. While he’s still eating every 2.5 to 3 hours, getting him back to sleep is much easier. He still loves to be held, but he’s okay with his cradle too . I can get him settled long enough to go to the bathroom or help Cadet re-focus. He’s just a little better at night, but I’ll take what I can get.

The Christmas tree and most of the decorations came down. I have a long-standing rule that the tree must be down before my birthday on the 19th. It took all of an hour, and opened up some much needed space. I left up our Christmas cards because I love seeing the faces of our friends and family.

It’s been wonderful having McRuger home, but it will end on Monday. I’ve interviewed a ton of new babysitting candidates (7 at this point who were serious contenders), and have been shocked at how shallow the pool is. And also, how very unprofessional some of them were. I had at least three not show up to interviews, several not return phone calls, and some refuse to provide references. The young woman I chose, for now, is not perfect. She’s young (21) and doesn’t have a ton of experience (less than 5 years). However, Cadet likes her and her references were good. She still charges more than our last two sitters, but at this point…I just need the help. She won’t be watching Cadet alone…I’ll be here (but just getting things done).

Communication with MsV and MsJ has been very good. Texting MsV every day and MsJ every few days. MsV seems to be doing better now that the holidays are over. We’ve had a few phone conversations about what the future holds for contact.

We finalized Cadet’s adoption in his home state. There was a surprising lack of paperwork, a few social worker visits, and a phone call with a judge. Pumpkin’s adoption will be handled by California, and that’s a whole different ball game. I just got the first packet of information we need to complete and return to Department of Children and Social Services. I’m not kidding…there’s over 80 pages of questionnaires and documents which need to be filled out/returned. That doesn’t include doing our finger prints again and a DMV search. Oh, yes, and we have to submit our medical records, proof of employment (again), proof of McRuger’s divorce (again), oh and a questionnaire packet that requires essay-length answers on various topics. Oh, and there’s a very tight deadline for when all of these need to be completed. When exactly am I supposed to complete all this?

On Saturday, McRuger, Cadet, Pumpkin, and I took a little trip to get McRuger’s iPhone fixed (Cadet had broken the screen). I realized it was the first time we’d been out as a family for more than just grocery shopping. We had a nice lunch, did a little shopping, and came home feeling exhausted. Even Cadet was worn out.

Sunday (this morning), Cadet and I ventured out to the Farmer’s Market. We picked up some apples, and then went to the grocery store (none of my normal vendors were there). It’s so easy just doing things with Cadet. I forget how much he’s grown at times. He can help me pick things out, he can remember items we need to pick up, and he reminds (frequently) me “don’t crash the cart, mama” (thanks for the reminder kiddo!!).

We came home, our sitter came (late for the second time in a week…grrr), and we got serious about work. I made all of McRuger’s breakfasts for the next week. I roasted some vegetables, cleaned off the kitchen table, tidied the living room, and even got some work done outside. McRuger did the dishes, got the trash taken care of, and took a nap. McRuger then took the sitter and both boys on a walk. I had 45 minutes of alone time. Holy cr@p people…I was alone. The house was too quiet. Even Em wandered into various rooms looking for someone else. I sat and ate lunch…alone. I read a part of a book….alone. I even had a conversation with AE (she’s in Africa this month)…alone.  It was so odd, beautiful, wonderful, and scary.

I have found that I still need “me” time…even with two kids. Shocking, I know. So, these days, I head into the bedroom after Cadet’s gone down. And I spend 30-45 minutes doing something for me…just me. I am not allowed to work on laundry or e-mail or anything…just me. So, I craft, felt, write, watch a movie, or just go to sleep. Some days the thought of those 30-45 minutes is all that gets me through rough patches.

I know I have so much to fill you all in on. How we’ve been (successfully) taming Cadet’s tantrums. How our relationship with MsV has developed. What it really feels like to have two kids. What changes we’ve had to make since Pumpkin’s arrival. And, how the “homeschooling” is going…and yes it’s going. How well I’m surviving on so little sleep (not well). But those will have to wait until I find more of that mysterious time…

Categories: Adoption, Cadet, Celebrations, Family, Pumpkin, speech | 2 Comments

Merry (belated) Christmas

Christmas 2014 will probably go down in the books as one of the merriest holidays ever. Despite a few little hiccups and challenges, overall it was lovely.

  • My mom arrived last week, and while we had some tense times, she did help quite a bit. McRuger was working some crazy hours last week, and it was wonderful to have an extra set of hands.
  • A few days before Christmas, I came down with a cold, one which I am still recovering from. Right now, I’m stuck with a cough and general feeling of tiredness (shocking, I know). Cadet caught my cold, but he’s handling it pretty well. So far Pumpkin and McRuger have not gotten it. I think it was mostly brought on by lack of sleep, which is also delaying recovery.
  • Our Christmas tradition of having a Christmas tree with only homemade ornaments continued this year. Dried orange slices, beeswax stars, and crocheted snowflakes were all that graced our tree this year. It looked lovely, simple, and peaceful. My mom and dad both commented that it looked exactly like a tree I’d have in my home (which I took as a compliment).
  • My dad drove here on Christmas Eve. It was nice having him here, and it was great to have him meet Pumpkin. My dad isn’t the biggest fan of babies (are any men?), but he liked spending time with Cadet…chasing him around.
  • Both my parents mentioned several times it was nice to have a stress-free Christmas (as compared to Bro’s house at Christmas). My mom said that it was nice to focus on family and not having everything “perfect” or “picture-worthy” or “kids upset about not getting enough presents”. They were especially happy to see that while Cadet was happy with his presents, he didn’t get stressed about them (as opposed to Bug and Mouse, who when don’t get what they want, throw spectacular tantrums).
  • Christmas presents went very well this year. There were none of the usual tussles over money and expectations. And, at the end of the day, we didn’t break the bank. Cadet got his whale-rocker from “Santa”, a few “functional” toys from family (kids cooking set, a new cup, and a bath toy), a few books, and even a bit of candy. Probably his favorite present was a Hoberman Sphere that I got him on a whim. He couldn’t put it down. Pumpkin got a few nifty things too, but most notably, a silver rattle from on my aunts (it is beautiful!).
  • Meals around Christmas always hold a bit of stress for me. I want to make everything “memorable”. This year, I gave up on that goal, and just focused on getting food on the table…and everything really turned out amazing. I created a new recipe for mashed potatoes which (for the third time this year) really impressed people (it involves roasted the potatoes a day before). The turkey (just a breast and two legs) was juicy and well-flavored. The stuffing was awesome. The roasted carrots were a little soft, but nothing too bad. And we didn’t bother with dessert, and instead had some fruit and snacked on the candy from our stockings. I was very pleased!
  • My favorite moment from the entire holiday was getting Cadet up on Christmas morning. I asked him what he hoped Santa had brought him. Cadet thought deeply, then looked at me and said: “Candies and a leaf blower”. He was so serious about it, but luckily he wasn’t disappointed in his actual gifts. I’m so pleased that I’m raising a child who isn’t particularly concerned about gifts (yet). We are really trying to steer Cadet (and eventually Pumpkin) away from the commercialism and “me, me, me” attitude that so many children fall victim to during this time of year. Cadet’s best part of the day was spending an hour playing in the park with my dad and McRuger. They found a few puddles of mud and got insanely dirty. Cadet’s smile was bigger after that than any present could have mustered.
  • I had a few nice chats with my mom about my childhood and memories. It’s always interesting to hear her view on life back then. I even had a nice talk with my dad about Cadet and parenting.
  • Best gift ever? My parents watched Pumpkin after Cadet went to bed…so McRuger and I could have 3 WHOLE HOURS of “couple time”. We spent almost all of that time enjoying some Christmas “nooky”. Sorry if that was TMI, but it was awesome! It’s so nice to reconnect as a couple!
  • On Christmas Eve, I got a rather large check in the mail from one of my aunts. It was for Pumpkin’s college fund. She wrote a beautiful letter welcoming Pumpkin to the family and wishing him the best in his life.
  • We heard from MsJ on Christmas. She sent a picture of her family and we sent one back of ours.
  • MsV got our Christmas package we sent to her and her kids. A travel book for her, and some coloring books for the kids. MsV called me up in tears after she opened her gift (a few days before Christmas). She was so thankful and amazed that I had remembered about her dreams to travel. I texted MsV on Christmas, but never heard back. I’ll text her again today to make sure she’s doing okay.
  • McRuger now has almost two weeks off. I am looking forward to it. We have a list of things which need to get done, but nothing too pressing or important. We may even make a trip to the ocean.
  • The countdown is on to my 38th birthday! Gasp! Sigh! McRuger already purchased my present: two tickets to see U2 in concert next summer. I’m thrilled!
  • Despite the loveliness of the holidays, I’m tired. Having two kids instead of one is such a challenge. I feel like I’m just a few moments away from sinking…all the time. How do people manage it?


So, that’s really my life right now. Not a lot of sleep, a little cold, and a lot of love! Could I ask for more? I hope your holidays were merry and bright. Please know that while I can’t always comment on what you’re writing, I am reading and commenting in my head. Upcoming posts I hope to write:

  1. Being the mother of boys…
  2. The serious challenges of having two kids, instead of one…
  3. And plans for 2015…
Categories: Cadet, Celebrations, Family, Marriage, McRuger, Pumpkin | 4 Comments

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