Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This post will probably be a mishmash of what life is like right now. I'm posting from the bathroom. We have recently become the household of baths every night. We had been the household of baths "every other night" which I'm a little ashamed to say turned into the house of "Hey, when's the last time Jackson had a bath?!" Times have changed for two reasons. First, its warmed up. By that I mean its been near 90 degree weather! We are enjoying it, Jackson has been to the park frequently, and he keeps sneaking out the back door and down the stairs to dig in the sand. So he's become an extra dirty kid. The other reason for the baths is that Jackson has some kind of a rash. It started on his thigh, spread to his belly, then slowly crept across his whole body. It started 3 weeks ago. Jackson doesn't seem sick in anyway, so we weren't overly concerned in the beginning. We mentioned it to the pediatrician at Jack's 2 year appointment last week, when the rash covered 1/2 of his body. The doctor wasn't concerned at all either.
Even though the rash doesn't itch, we got some hydro cortisone cream to try to clear it up. Since its an all over rash, I slathered it on kinda heavy. Last night, I noticed red dots all over Jack's cheeks and neck, little broken capillary dots. My online searched turned up options like Meningococcea and bleeding problems. So we headed back to the pediatrician today. He said the rash still doesn't look like anything, but we are trying to get an appointment with a dermatologist sometime this quarter (getting a doctor's appt in Connecticut is impossible!) and we had to have blood drawn for a platelet count. Cross your fingers that the broken capillaries were caused by the cream and we don't have something more serious on our hands.

Other things that are going on? Well, I mentioned Jackson is sneaking out the door. He wants to be outside all the time! It's great, except it makes it hard to keep the household functioning--can't really make dinner from outside. And the trips to the park? Well, they often start with Jackson shouting, "Park! Par Par Paaaarkkk!" At the park, Jackson mostly likes the slides. At the top, he calls out, "Hoy I come!" He hits the ground running and dashes back up the stairs to come down again, like he's all grown up or something. Monday night, I spied asparagus in the garden and sauteed them for myself, then cooked a few down further and pureed with milk to call soup. It was pretty tasty, and Jack had a bit (before Ally got to it). Next time, I'll name it "dip" and hope he consumes it faster.

Bedtime is also a bit unusual. We start with the typical routine--fresh diaper, optional pajamas, 2 stories, tuck him in bed, gate the door. Jackson usually gets back up, plays, calls for me. I'll tuck him back in once. He invariable gets up again. Lately, he's been finally going to sleep in the rocking chair. Most nights for the last few weeks. It's an adorable sight, see for yourself.

I'm off to tuck Jackson back in. I'm sure to hear him say, "Move. Hop", that's I'll move over so you can hop up into bed with me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lead Levels

Tuesday was Jack's birthday (Yeah--happy birthday, boy!) I'll post about that event, and the subsequent, incessant, cutting and pounding (thanks, Mom) later. For now, a few lines about what's been eating at me--that is the trip to the pediatrician. I could complain about the shortage of HIB vaccine or Jack's mysterious spreading rash which the doctor proclaimed was "contact dermatitis" (my ass). Or I could say how weird it is that Jack's head size didn't change at all, and sometimes increases or even decreases in size depending on who the nurse is. I could also rave about how well Jackson takes his pricks, staring stoically and in silence at the nurse. These topics are all of passing interest.

The thing that's eating at me is the lead test, taken by capillary. By way of background, it has been determined that there is no safe level of lead. The Dept of Health gets involved when the level is > 10 micrograms/deciliter, serious action with chelation and home remediation starts at around 50 micrograms/deciliter. Jackson's lead levels were below these thresholds at 5 micrograms/deciliter. By official lead accounting, its normal and nothing to be alarmed about. Except that the level should be nothing, zip, zero, undetectable. There are studies that show a linear relationship between even low lead levels of lead and IQ impact. 10 micrograms/deciliter has an impact of -7 IQ points. (There go the "trivial" few IQ points I pumped so much precious, time consuming, stressful breast milk to give my child.)

Historically speaking, lead levels of kids my age (born 1976-1980) had a mean value of 15 micrograms/deciliter. After lead paint was banned in 1978, the levels have gone down, and today's kids have a mean value of 2.7 micrograms/deciliter. Jackson's level is twice that.

We live in a brand new house (see previous post), with clean well water running through new lead free pipes. We don't use brightly colored foreign stoneware (as far as it can be avoided). We don't have antique tin toys or let Jackson play with the ammunition. So, where is the contamination coming from? I've been through latest list of lead based toy recalls. Nothing we own is on the list, but there are certainly similar items. It could be anything. Is it the painted spots on his bath toys? The zippers on his pants? The vinyl housed flashing light of his spider man jacket? How about his toy boxes? Or new froggy boots that he's worn all day every day since Easter? Maybe a contaminant in his daily multivitamin. Is it our dishes? They're purchased in a US big box store and light in color (typically reds are more likely to be lead based glazes). We only have 1 vinyl mini blind in the house, but that could be the source.

Point is, there is no way of knowing where the lead is coming from. This is a consequence of globalization and failure to enforce regulations. Even buying all of our consumer goods from reputable US made sources (as if that were possible) wouldn't guarantee safety, since they could just as easily get a batch of contaminated raw materials to work with.

In our home, we go through considerable effort to avoid contaminations. We buy US goods where practical, spend extra on local-ish free range meats and organic vegetables, produce our own eggs, limit high sugar content foods (corn syrup has a 20% contamination with mercury rate, by the way), eschew manufactured food items (like those pedialyte drinks they're pushing these days). We built a new house rather than remodel an old one that might be contaminated.
Despite these efforts, we're powerless against things like heavy metal contamination or food poisoning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Home Improvements

We built our own house and moved in 4 years ago. Much of the work we did ourselves (I think Jason blogged about this a while back) cleared the land, did all the finish work from decks to paint to floors to cabinet installs. We didn't take shortcuts on these things, and as a result, we lost enthusiasm as soon as the bank declared us officially "done". Totally burned out. Barely any home improvement was completed after that--1st because of the burnout, and then because it was impossible to do anything with Jackson needing constant attention.

As a result, our house looked like it was dropped in place by a tornado, like something out of the Wizard of Oz (luckily no curled up witch legs stuck out anywhere.) It's hard to really get a feel for that in the below picture since its winter, but trust me.

Same view in early Spring with a little effort at landscaping, a red door, and a stained front porch, and stairs on the back deck. It's starting to look like it belongs in the landscape.

Front view.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rhubarb Pie

Jackson is making rhubarb pie--from something that might be considered scratch.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Beans have been a topic of conversation around here lately.
A couple of weeks ago at dinner time, Jackson was picking the few black beans I left unpulverized in the tacos and pronouncing, "Beans! Yumm!" (I questioned his parentage, that was definintely not a phrase anyone ever heard me say, enthusiastically or otherwise.)

And this evening, as he and Jason recounted the days events, Jason recalled, "and Mama gave you jelly beans."
Jackson replied, "Beans! [then, hugging jason] Ohhh Mamaam!"

I live for the hug and the "Ohhh Mamaam!"

Friday, April 3, 2009


Katie got me started. I apologize in advance for the whiney tone.

This is what one day in the life of this working mother is like:

My son slept all last evening instead of all night. He was up for good before 5am. I had to change an extra gooey diaper when I should've been running out the door, packing a large laptop, purse, and lunch (no longer trusting the cafeteria after 2 recent and icky salad bar experiences)

I have a TON of real work to do. Instead, I spent 2 hours on the phone with the help [less] desk doing a software install for something I requested in early January. At my biweekly meeting with my boss, we discussed my upcoming review and lack of design support. He said, "Not much I can do about it now, you should've mentioned it a couple of weeks ago." I said, "I did". He said, "Not loudly enough." Then he said my husband better be taking me out on dates, I could ignore the rest of the religion, but weekly dates were a commandment from God.

After this, I headed across the street to visit the coffee guy that comes in Fridays for a knock-off frapuccino. It's a poor imitation, but he's a nice guy and it saved me the hassle of driving one town over. Also saved me $2.

At lunch, I read a NYT article by a Judith Warner who proclaimed the heresy that breastfeeding had no measurable benefits and wouldn't it be great if breast pumps were oneday banned!? The point was supposed to be that there's too much pressure on working mothers and we should all lighten up and band together to get more family leave. It also stated that her husband curled up his nose when he saw the bags of milk in the freezer and didn't want to have sex with her [ever again] because the pumping stretched her nipples out so far. Yes, there's too much pressure and we should get more family leave. However, the scientific verdict is pretty much out in favor of breastfeeding (several IQ points, superior nutrition, bonding, weight loss, less asthma, better immunity, and extremely low risk of melamine contamination) and despite its drawbacks, I am grateful for my pump. I also point out that a little nipple stretching is nothing compared to the stretching of labor and delivery. Here's the real rub in this article--we all spend 12 months panicky about how we're going to squeeze in multiple daily trips to the milking station, fulfill our workplace obligations and get home in time to see our child awake. Now there's an article from a journalist who is supposed to be on our side and instead throws another guilt trip on women for having gone to soo much effort to do it all when we could've been happily shaking up manufactured milkshakes for our babes.

In the afternoon, I returned a bunch of phone calls. One of these was answered by a lovely computerized female voice who asked me to type in the name of the person I was calling. My first attempt, I tried to use the keypad like I was texting (repeating the 6 three times to get to the n)--gibberish in, gibberish out. Second try I spelled Jensen with and "o", and the computerized voice offered me 2 people I wasn't interested in speaking to. Third time, I am sure I spelled it correctly, and I was offered nothing.

I spent the next couple of hours investigating who had totally blown my project budget, finding the person (who I have never even met) and getting incredibly unsatisfying responses to my questioning of just who was he, and what had he done for the 3.5 weeks he charged my program exclusively. About this point, someone commented on how I remained calm and collected all the time (Thanks, Betsy).

Then I got called into a stupid meeting to discuss an issue that had been resolved 3 months ago. I ended by saying, "I'll resend the email you received 12/18 from the person who has been managing that particular issue for 15 years so that you can copy it into the documentation. Oh, how many people would you like me to cc: and ask to reply all that they concur", hanging up, and muttering, "Jackass". I have several similar meetings each week with this same person.

In short this was a totally wasted workday.

I came home and Jackson threw open the front door and said, "Hi-ee!" Then he gave me a big hug and said, "Ahh mahmahm." I watched him (a delight after a 4 hour nap this afternoon) eat a whole watermelon. Well, actually, 2 macaronis off the floor (ewww, dropped them at lunch, mental note to invite the beagle in the scavange the floors more frequently), 3/4 banana, 25 mini mozzarella balls, bowl of sunchips, 1/2 cup (yes 1/2 cup) of peanut butter, 1/2 cup fruit cocktail, and nibbles from my soft taco. I'm sure I'll pay the penalty tomorrow morning. At least I didn't give him any raisins or prunes.

He took a brief pretend nap on the second stair with ducky who tickles his nose. Then he climbed the heaters to get to the window sills and look out. I changed a diaper (with raisins), helped him brush his 11 teeth (at 20 teeth, will he be chewing up the dried fruit? How about 16? The last month of poorly slept nights indicates we may have 16 soon). Jackson bounced on the giant exercise ball while I read about Harry the Dirty Dog and hoped the ball was wedged sufficiently into the corner so as not to topple over. Then I read Goodnight Moon (mostly from memory so Jack could turn several pages at a time back and forth) followed by Eyore, Be Happy. Then Jackson didn't want to go to bed, so I told him to call me back in when he was ready to sleep and turned out the light. Suddenly, he was ready for bed. I kissed him and 3 stuffed animals goodnight, then took my leave. Jackson followed and spent the next 1/2 hour with his chin leaning on the gate shouting, "Mamahmahhhm" After a while I started shouting back, "Jack Jahck Jaaaahck". I think he's sleeping now, but I hesitate to check incase he's not.

It rained today and is set to rain all weekend and all next weekend.

After posting this, I'm off to spend "datenight" doing the work I needed to do in the office today.