Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wren has a fever

Wren has a fever. Its 102.4 (39.1C). He is not seeming ill but I wish it would go away.

Clinic says to call on Monday if he still has the fever and to call before if it is very high or he shows signs of distress / more symptoms / I have concerns.

I am always concerned but it didn't seem helpful to say that.

What a time to enter Seattle Public Schools

Yesterday, I received an email inviting Frost to further testing for the Seattle Public Schools Accelerated Progress Program (APP).

Recently your child was administered the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) as part of their evaluation for Advanced Learning programs. As a result of your child’s performance, he or she is qualified to take the reading and math achievement test (the Iowa Test of Basic Skills)

I had expected to be very excited about this as it suggests that Frost will qualify for the APP program for 3rd Grade. Unfortunately, this is a very bad time for a family from NE Seattle to contemplate APP or any school in our public school system. The NE is defined as a cluster for purposes of Seattle Public Schools school assignment. This means, we get priority in local schools. There are a few "all city draw" programs which are not based on where you live, APP is one of them. But students from other areas can apply for schools out of their cluster so enrollment is very uneven.

The reasons I am discouraged about our options are:

1) The elementary schools in the NE Cluster are full. Even though we live less than a mile from our reference school (Bryant) it is currently very over-enrolled and there is little chance of us getting in. We have no idea which school Frost would be assigned and are unlikely to get one close to us since these are among the most popular.

2) The Alternative School I loved when I toured (Thornton-Creek) is being relocated and reformed as a K-8 school. It will become larger but spaces are being promised to another school which is either closing or moving Far Far Away. This means it is unlikely Frost will find a place there either.

3) The Elementary APP Program which was housed at Lowell is being relocated further South and split in two. This means it will be of uncertain success as a program and would require Frost to travel 8.5miles by bus each way picking up kids along the way. I have no idea of the school bus route, but during traffic this would take me 30 minutes in my car so it seems reasonable to estimate one hour travel time each way.

I have no idea what we are going to do for Frost. I guess we will do the school tours in January and ask questions even though the schools / programs we will be seeing are unlikely to exist in their current configuration by the time Frost starts in Fall.

It feels like our kids are salmon swimming upstream and the engineers have forgotten to build a fish ladder. I haven't even applied yet and I am tired of the churn. Is this when I panic and apply to private schools too? Become Catholic? Get a job?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Playing Doctor

Wren was playing a sweet new game with me today. The family stethoscope was found lying on the ground so I started a game checking on the health of the “stuffies”, Wren’s family of stuffed animals. Together he gently asked of the health of the 2 ferocious T-Rex dinosaurs, 2 baby blue hospital bears that had Band-Aids on them, and a large kitty. Their temperatures were checked, stethoscope used on their chests, they were laid down for a rest in hospital, stroked gently and then pronounced "OK now".
He was very involved. I said that he was the “doctor” and he liked that. Shannon hopes that this role play may help him with processing medical visits.
The question of bathing is another issue....

Here is Wren having a lovely time making a Christmas ornament with Kyler (and Heather).

Thursday, December 4, 2008


This morning I walked from the Pacific Science Center (where Frost and Granny were seeing 'Lucy' - the missing link fossil) to the Westlake Center. I was waiting at a traffic light within sight of the big shiny tree, the carousel and all that glitters, . A black woman with a plastic bag and lots of missing teeth smiled at Wren. I smiled back as you do with strangers.
She nodded at Wren. "I had a baby," she said "but my baby died."
I said "I am very sad to hear that. Was it long ago?"
She nodded.
The light changed.
"Have a happy day," she said.
I pushed Wren across the bumpy crosswalk clutching his new dinosaur with all the stories of our lives garbled in my head.

We really enjoyed the Macy's Christmas window with the trains traveling through snowy country. We really enjoyed the bus ride home.

Cardiology Clinic Rescheduled

I received a call from Jeremiah to say that Wren's Friday cardiology clinic check-up can wait until the 19th. It was schedule two weeks ago but we went in last week for an echo after he had a 3-day fever. Perhaps the fact the pericardial infusion is resolved means Dr Olson can wait a while.

We are happy not to go along again so soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nursing a Toddler (AKA Wean rhymes with Mean)

When I was pregnant with Wren I signed up for a parenting email from Swedish Medical Center. Over the past months I have received these two, rather contradictory emails from the folks at Swedish. They are on the subject of NURSING TODDLERS. Last summer, a lady approached me by the swimming pool where Wren and I were watching Frost do swimming lessons. She invited me to join their support group for mothers nursing older children. I looked at her in shock. IMHO an 18 month old is not an older child in the nursing universe. Wren agreed and we thought no more about it.

Fast forward 6 months and this is a bit of an issue at home at the moment, not because I am embarrassed about nursing a big baby but because Wren doesn't sleep through the night, wants to nurse instead of eat and is a total tyrant about it.

These are some of his words on nursing:

When he wants to nurse instead of sleep. "Want milk NOW."
When he wants to nurse more instead of going to bed. "More milk. Want OTHERSIDE now."
When I tell him its "all gone". "Try? Try otherside now?"
When I tell him its time to eat lunch. "I do not want to. Want MILK now. Milk on couch!" [this is his favored place to nurse].
When I tell him I can't right now he starts sobbing, falls on the floor and screams "want milk."

I recall a story I read a while ago about a woman trying to wean her toddler. They were planning a trip by aeroplane and she suggested her son nurse before they left for the airport. When he replied that "I will have milk after we take off" she realized he had been nursed too long.

Anyway, here are those Swedish emails:


From Swedish Medical Center Parent Newsletter 11/25/08

My daughter will be 2 years old next week, and we're still nursing. She shows no signs of wanting to wean, and I don't mind. We nurse early in the morning and at night as she goes to bed (and sometimes during the day), but I'm beginning to wonder if she's getting too old.

A:The American Academy of Pediatrics urges mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life and to continue nursing to the first birthday, and as long after that as both mother and child desire. While nursing toddlers are not common in the United States, in much of the rest of the world they are the norm. While your daughter obtains most of her nutrients from other foods by this age, she still gains much from nursing: closeness to you and the calm it provides during her busy days. You can encourage her to wean when one or both of you is ready by finding other ways in which to be close and calm. Until then, enjoy your special times with your daughter.


My 2-year-old is still nursing, and I'm glad. But sometimes she asks to nurse in public and cries if I don't let her. How can I teach when it is okay to nurse and when it is not?

A:While the American Academy of Pediatrics applauds you for continuing to nurse your toddler as long as you both desire, the North American public is not always so approving. Nursing in public, especially when the child is a toddler rather than a small baby, draws attention and too often disapproval in our cities and towns. Your daughter may want to nurse, but you don’t want to endure strange looks and rude comments. Your daughter is old enough, however, to be asked to wait a little to nurse. Can you find an alternative activity that will help her to be patient? Perhaps a drink of water on a sippy cup or a bagel to chew on will hold her. Her emerging sense that other people may feel differently than she does, and awareness that their eyes may be on her, will help you to teach her that public and private behavior can be different.

I think that its encouraging that such a mainstream publication is facing questions about nursing toddlers but the part i want more information on is this:

"You can encourage him to wean when one or both of you is ready by finding other ways in which to be close and calm. "


Try telling Wren that. If I am carrying him and rest him slightly sideways in my arms he starts sqwarking MILK. I am still trapped at home by the need to nurse him to sleep and recently have been required to come home around the end of naptime because of the tantrum Wren throws about waking if I am not there to fuel him up.

I feel I am ready to end the nursing relationship but he is not. What do you do in this situation? Josh and I said that he could have a few months after heart surgery. You know, you have to give him a bit of room. But I feel the leash is tightening not loosening. Symptomatically, the strap of one of my last nursing bra's snapped today and I feel this is a metaphor. The time has come and I am not going to buy another one.

Now I need to run home for Wren because he should be waking soon. Sorry for the abrupt conclusion (or lack thereof). This is part of the ISSUE.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Holiday Season

Its that time of year in Seattle when I try and make up for the short dark days by putting up many little lights. I have just spent 20 minutes sticking little bits of double sided tapes onto hooks which were stuck in turn onto the window casings to support strands of miniature lights.

The longer I live in the US the more gadgets I find. In early years, I nailed tacks around the windows to hand the lights. Subsequently, I discovered U-tacks designed for threading telephone cable along skirting boards. Imagine my joy - 8 years after arriving in Seattle - to discover THE CHRISTMAS AISLE at Lowes. Who would have believed it? There is a product (well, a whole line of products) called Decorating Clips. These little adhesive backed clips are specifically for threading lights all over. You can also buy TREE CLIPS for threading around trees, GUTTER and SIDING clips and various other models. These little tapes ones are ideal.

We have a deer!
The kids are also into this festive business. Yesterday, Josh and Frost returned from Fred Meyer with a 4ft animated and illuminated deer. I bambi you not! It is splendid. The instructions were not so splendid and Josh spent some time in quiet contemplation of phrases like "insert the plastic ring into the fixing hole on the body, then insert the pivot arm into the fixing hole."

Eventually it worked.

Making Forests
I have been collecting little houses at thrift stores because Frost wanted to make a diorama on the mantle this year. At Lowes in that fabulous CHRISTMAS AISLE I also found bags of tiny Christmas trees for $8.95. None are more than a few inches tall and are speckled with glittering snow. The value pack had so many trees that Wren has been setting up forests around the living room.

He holds the trees like little birds in cupped hands as he walks and balances them in obscure and unstable places like on top of the backs of chairs and in the branches of a potted plant.

He loves this game. He does a similar thing with our box of Lego trees - setting them up in forests around the carpet.

While he napped I captured most of them back again and the mantle is now reforested.

Mommy is a Big Dinosaur
I haven't been updating the blog as much recently because Mum is still staying with us and has decided to extend her visit until the day after Wren's 2nd birthday. That is the 14th December. I don't have as much idle time with Mum here - but that is good mostly (except when I feel obliged to keep up with her level of activity.) Today, Mum is sick with a head cold and resting a bit more. She also has a bit of a cough and we are concerned Wren will catch it.

Mum has been encouraging me to do a bit of yoga daily. Apparently, my grandfather did his army stretches every day of his life from his 20s till his 90s and credited it with his health. This morning I did some yoga in the living room and the kids became very excited (a sign I do not do it often enough).

While I tried to perform downward dog Wren tried too - underneath me.

"Wren doing good dogging!" he said.

Clambering out he looked at me and said "Mummy BIG dinosaur!" which caused Mum and Frost to laugh and almost spill tea.

Apparently I am so in need of a diet that I am comparable to a brontosaurus or diplodocos - the BIG ANIMAL in his collection.

Well, the big animal is now going to lie down with a Big Book and pretend to be able to concentrate on at least one page before she falls asleep for 10 minutes. Frost managed to con us into thinking he was ill this morning "Oh, I have a terrible headache and I am DIZZY and feel TIRED and have a SORE TUMMY and ..." but is now kicking a balloon around the living room, complaining of being bored and eating a lollipop.

We shall conduct a more rigorous examination tomorrow morning.