Tag Archives: parenting

The Winter of Our Discontent

Song Lyric of the Day:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days / When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Twenty One Pilots / “Stressed Out

I’m over this winter. Normally I love winter since it’s cold and I can’t overheat like I do in late spring and then summer, but this winter has been miserable. Why exactly? Because Sebastian has been sick since January 12. I remember the date, because it was the day before Rich was due to leave for India for work for 13 days. Good timing. Sebastian woke up covered in vomit that morning, so we of course immediately thought “flu!” and rushed him to the doc. It turned out to be a stomach bug and a little cold. Rich felt better leaving for his trip knowing he was not leaving me with a flu-afflicted baby.

Sebastian then got a virus, which started clearing up after a few days. Meanwhile, as Rich was away and that always upsets the natural balance of things, Knoxville got snow. One whole inch of snow led to three school snow days in a row — combined with MLK Day that Monday, Coraline and I were home with her sick brother almost all week. At least she had school that Friday, albeit on a two-hour delay.

The second Sunday Rich was away, Sebastian got sick again and was so weak with fever and bordering on lethargic that I was positive his virus had turned into the flu. I called my mom to come sit with Coraline so I could take him to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to get looked at. When I told Coraline that Abuela was coming to watch her so I could take her brother to the hospital to get checked out, my poor girl got hysterical. She adores her baby brother and has been terrified of him getting the flu since she knows it can be fatal for babies. I did my best to calm her down, although I ended up crying a little bit, too, since she was so upset. I reassured her that I was sure the docs at the hospital would tell me I was just being a paranoid mommy, but she replied with, “I just want to spend as much time with him as I can while I can,” as she went to embrace her brother. It’s not like hearing her say that, through sobs, ripped my heart out or anything. Mom got to our house in about a half hour (she ROCKS) and Sebastian and I left for the hospital. I managed to stake out a corner in the waiting room relatively away from other people; it was full that night, and half the kids were wearing face masks because of flu-like symptoms. We got there around 8:20PM and didn’t end up getting home until 12:55AM. Turns out it wasn’t the flu, just the first day of a new, second virus. Poor Sebastian had blood drawn and spent most of the night in my arms practically fainting from his fever.

The next week was a bit of a blur as Sebastian had me up several times every night. I took to calling him the Fever King since he had so many I lost count. I’m very fortunate in that my job is portable and I can work from home, so when Sebastian felt well enough to play I’d work. I’d then haul ass to get even more work done while he napped since that was my longest uninterrupted stretch during the day. But with a very sick baby who is very clingy when not feeling well, I ended up working most nights after the kids were in bed to finish what I couldn’t during the day. I’d wrap up working for the night between 10 and 11PM, then rush to do a few household things, then try to get an hour or two of sleep before Sebastian’s first wakeup. He’d inevitably wake up with a fever; we’ve gone through I don’t know how many bottles of Infants’ Tylenol and Infants’ Motrin these last few weeks.

Finally the Friday arrived when Rich was flying home. One hour before his scheduled landing, I was changing Sebastian’s diaper before heading to the airport when I noticed his torso was covered in a rash. Another call to the nurse triage line (my second or third at this point) followed. Rich landed safely and the nurse called back while we were at the luggage carousel. After I answered what felt like 100 questions, the nurse assured me she was certain it was Roseola, which meant that the virus was coming to an end. Finally, our little boy was going to be well again, right? Yeah, not so much.

Sebastian was still sick enough that I had to keep working from home with him, but now with Rich home again, he was able to work from home with him a bit so I could get in to the office a few days. Because things weren’t fun enough, Coraline’s school district canceled school Monday and Tuesday that week due to illness since so many kids and teachers were out with the flu (among other things). They had school Wednesday, only to have school canceled the remainder of the week. That weekend Sebastian got sicker — again.

As he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms again, back to the doctor we went. It wasn’t a virus this time, but his first-ever ear infection. He got prescribed an antibiotic, but a few days later somehow got sicker while on it. Back to the doc, where he got diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on a second, different antibiotic. And — because this has been the winter that keeps on giving — you guessed it, he got sicker. Back to the doc, where his doctor took one look in Sebastian’s ear and said it was so infected even a first-year med student could diagnose it. That’s right — his double ear infection had gotten worse while on the second antibiotic. Sebastian was then put on Augmentin, which eventually made progress on the ear infection while destroying his stomach in the process. His doctor had warned us how harsh it would be on Sebastian’s stomach, but boy, it was more vicious than we anticipated.

As I write this, a little more than seven weeks since Sebastian first got sick, he’s still not quite back to 100 percent. He’s pretty close, though — I’d put him around 90 percent. He went eight days before developing another fever this past Friday, but it was a low-grade one of 100 degrees. He also currently has a very runny nose and a little cough; the last few weeks he learned to recognize the Boogie Wipes package, so that’s made wiping his nose extra fun since he fights it. (I don’t know why since those wipes are awesome when you’re sick.) Best of all, he’s eating again. He had next to no appetite at his sickest; breastfeeding was all that was keeping him from dehydrating. And, if I’m honest, as a Puerto Rican, it freaked me out that he wouldn’t eat. When people don’t eat, it freaks us out. We need to feed you. Not eating is weird and scary. At least Sebastian would take his beloved pouches, which oftentimes were the only thing he’d eat for days on end.

I know things could have been much worse, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the most stressed I’ve been in ages during Sebastian’s illnesses, particularly while Rich was out of the country. I made a point to thank Coraline for behaving so well while her dad was away, since she was a big help with her brother. I’m lucky that my parents and sister are in town (as well as close friends) and a phone call away if I need anything, like the night I needed to take Sebastian to the hospital. Now seven-plus weeks, three antibiotics, lots of Children’s Benadryl, Infants’ Tylenol, Infants’ Motrin, 4 negative flu tests, 4 negative RSV tests, and one negative strep throat test later, my baby is finally getting back to his normal, silly, noisy, bottomless eating pit, mess-making self.

Now if only it were spring …

Sebastian on the go

Taken when he felt good one morning, before he napped and woke up with a raging fever later that day (2/19/18).

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A Conversation With Coraline: The News

Noticing ABC World News Tonight With David Muir was on the TV:

“Can you record this?”

“It’s already recording. Why do you want to watch it?”

“Because sometimes I think the news is exciting.”

“Well, I’ll keep it recorded for you.”


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A Conversation With Coraline: Which Witch

After she asks me to put on a TV show called Little Charmers:

“So what’s Little Charmers about?”

“It’s about these girls with magic powers and they do charms and fly around on brooms.”

“Oh, so they’re witches.”

“They’re not witches, they’re Little Charmers.”

“You said they do spells and fly around on brooms.”

“I said they have magic powers and do charms and fly on brooms.”

“You do know that’s pretty much the literal definition of a witch, right?”


“I give up.”

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A Conversation With Coraline: Name That Tune

Singing: “Bow-chick-a-wow-wowww.”

“Um, where did you hear that song?”

“From E at school. Bow-chick-a-wow-wowww.”

“I’d prefer you not sing it, OK?”

“Why not? It’s fun. I love singing it!”

“Because I said not to, OK? I don’t like that song.”

“Well, I do.”

“Well, I don’t.”

Sighing: “Fine.” A minute later, sotto voce: “Bow-chick-a-wow-wowww.”



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Photoblogging: Mother’s Day 2014

Yesterday I enjoyed a low-key Mother’s Day, my fourth as Coraline’s lucky mom. We started the day with brunch — Coraline’s favorite meal — at The Egg & I, our first visit and one of the few places with a less than two-hour wait. Then we came home, where Rich and Coraline presented me with cards and presents. Coraline’s card made me cry (Rich chose well), while Rich’s was sweet and heartfelt. They gifted me with Lily Allen‘s new album, Sheezus, which I really like; a gift certificate to my favorite Italian restaurant, Altruda’s; and the Evil Dead Blu-Ray, which is a huge deal. It’s a huge deal because while I LOVE horror movies, Rich does not. At all. So he really took one for the team, because now that I own it, he knows there’s a chance he might have to watch it with me. That’s a good man right there. As far as Coraline is concerned, it’s a “people” (read: adult) movie that she can’t watch for a very long time.

Rich then offered to watch Coraline so I could enjoy a solo trip to Barnes & Noble without my tiny bookworm in tow — so luxurious. After the bookstore I went to my parents’ house to give Mom her card and presents. Coraline will be personally presenting her abuela with her Mother’s Day card today; we knew she’d want to do that herself. I got home, hung out a bit more, then when Coraline went down for her nap, I passed out on the couch with my cats. Then it was time for dinner, which we picked up from a nearby restaurant, and more family time. All in all, it was another great Mother’s Day. I’m really fortunate to be mom to such a fabulous kid, which I would never be without an equally fabulous husband.

Speaking of, said husband indulged me and took some pics of me with our curly-topped cutie to commemorate the day.


Coraline insists she be called Darth Vader when wielding this little inflatable light saber.


A kiss from Mommy




A kiss from Coraline


A BIG kiss from Coraline


She’s very into making silly faces for photos these days.


Me and my little girl


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The Little Social Butterfly

Song Lyric of the Day:

(When it gets loud, I turn it up) / Shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem / (When it’s too hot, I light it up) / Ooh, light it up, yeah, smoke em if you got ’em

New Politics / “Harlem

The other day Coraline got an invitation to a friend’s birthday party, this one for a zoo extravaganza. That’s when it hit me: My 3 1/2-year-old has a more active social calendar than I do. Sure, Rich and I went to our friends’ baby shower this past weekend, which was a blast and where we made some good new friends. But that was one of our few and far between social engagements these days. Coraline, on the other hand, has been to a couple of birthday parties recently, then has two upcoming parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend. As for my and Rich’s social calendars, uh, well, we’ll be accompanying Coraline to two upcoming birthday parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend.

I do have to say, I’m proud that Coraline is nice, and well-behaved and well-liked enough to be invited to her daycare classmates’ parties, among other events. She’s also social to a fault. Just last night, Rich had to remind her that while it’s OK to say hi to and smile at people we pass or have brief encounters with, we don’t necessarily need to tell them our life stories. Let’s just say that Coraline is very well known by certain cashiers at Target, Barberito’s, and Trader Joe’s. She’s particularly fond of yelling, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” as we head out the door. After telling them what we’ve bought, where we’re going, who we’re going to see, and so forth.

Raising a confident child has definitely been at the top of my list as far as qualities I want to instill in Coraline, and so far, she’s got confidence to spare. It manifests itself in a love of performing (look for a Coraline-directed all-toddler version of Frozen coming to a playground near you in fall 2014), her imaginative play, her eagerness to make new friends everywhere she goes, even her at times let’s say unique fashion sense. So far, so good on the confidence front.

Now if I can just figure out how to help her retain her self-confidence as she grows older.

Who's a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!

Who’s a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!


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La Di Da Di, She Likes to Potty*

Song Lyric of the Day:

La-di-da-di, we like to party / We don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody / We’re, just some men that’s on the mic / And when we rock upon the mic we rock the mic right / For all of y’all, keep y’all in health / Just to see you smile and enjoy yourself

Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh / “La Di Da Di

Today marks 7 weeks and 1 day since one of the most magical, glorious, long-awaited things that can ever happen to a parent happened to me: Coraline became fully potty-trained. So yes, there will be some talk of pee and poop within this post.

Thanks to day care — probably the only time I’ll ever be happy about peer pressure — Coraline had been practicing going potty for more than a year. She first successfully peed on the potty just shy of her second birthday. For months now, she’s been accident-free at day care, wearing BIG GIRL PANTIES!!! (her enthusiasm, I assure you) and only wearing Pull-Ups at naptime. On the days I work from home, she’s worn her BIG GIRL PANTIES!!! during naptime without any accidents.

So on that magical, glorious, long-awaited day 7 weeks and 1 day ago, I was working when she walked over and quietly, almost shyly, said, “Mommy, I have to go potty.” Nothing unusual about that (except for the quiet shyness) since that’s what she said any time she had to pee. So you can imagine my surprise when she ended up dropping off the kids at the pool, a first. I could have thrown a party for her right then. As it is, I thought of her breakthrough as her early birthday present to herself, since it was six days before her 3rd birthday. She even came up with a potty-training mantra on her own: Pee and poop go only in the potty!

She’s had a few accidents since then, like an accident at school one day the teacher blamed on Coraline’s enthusiasm to get the job done, or not getting to the toilet quickly enough here at home. But overall she’s done great. And just two nights ago, she announced that she was going potty on her own, no doubt inspired by seeing her two big cousins do just that this past weekend. She was so serious about going on her own that she made me wait in the hall, around the corner from the bathroom door. You know, so she could have some privacy and, oh, not have to see her mother.

Even if Coraline were still working on the whole potty-training thing, I’d still be proud of her. But now that she is fully potty-trained, I thought I’d share it with all of you exactly how proud I am of my (big in her mind) little girl.

Coraline hamming it up the day of The Big Breakthrough (9/18/13).

*My apologies to Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, but I just couldn’t resist.

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And Bajingo Was Its Name-O

Song Lyric of the Day:

You want me to change, change, change / You want me to change

Churchill / “Change

Several months ago, Coraline started expressing interest in and naming body parts: “Mommy’s nose! Poppa’s eye! Coraline’s bell butt!” (In case you need a translation for that last one, “bell butt” is her way of saying belly button.) Her unrelenting interest in learning the names for various body parts led to an interesting discussion between Rich and I. We decided easily enough that her butt was to be called either — you guessed it — “butt” or “tush.” As for her girl parts, well, that was a different story.

Calling her girl parts “vagina” seemed awfully formal for such a small child. So me being me, I suggested “bajingo.” For you non-Scrubs fans, that’s the term the uptight female doctor, Elliot, used for lady parts.

Everything was hunky-dory for a long time. Then we started potty training and lo and behold, our preliminary research taught us that in addition to not giving your child a complex about bodily functions (no “Oh dear God, what just came out of you?! So gross!”), you’re supposed to use the proper (formal-sounding *cough*) terminology for private parts. This is where I should mention that Coraline pronounces “bajingo” as “bingo,” leading to my recurring nightmare in which I get a call from her daycare about Coraline grabbing her crotch when the class sang “B-I-N-G-O.” So, on a subconscious level, I guess I already knew that it was time to teach her the proper word.

Coraline now knows that the correct name for her bajingo is vagina, although she will occasionally use the wrong term for it. We gently correct her when she does. God help me, though, because last Wednesday when I was getting her dressed for the day, she placed her hands over her chest and said, “These are my boobs.” I won’t even get into how she thinks her nipples are boo-boos.

At least we never used the term “whizzy winkles” with regard to potty training.

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Melatonin Down Bedtime

Song Lyric of the Day:

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping / Hill and vale in slumber sleeping / I my loving vigil keeping / All through the night

Harold Boulton / “All Through the Night

The last few weeks, Coraline has experienced a drastic personality change at bedtime. She went from this:

Video uploaded by thebrushborder

To this:

Video uploaded by babylonsfalling

We have no idea what caused the change. She used to be so easygoing and ready to go to sleep for the night after reading some books (oh, how I rue the day I introduced her to my old Disney reader of Three Little Pigs). Then bam! — she’d start screaming like she was dying the second you closed her bedroom door. Seemingly overnight what used to be a pleasant half-hour of quality bonding time turned into up to two-and-a-half hours of Rich and I tag-teaming each other, taking turns trying to calm Coraline into going back to sleep. (Thankfully, she has not been having night terrors.)

A couple of weeks ago I got desperate and called our pediatrician for advice. His nurse promptly called me back and explained that at this age toddlers develop “bedtime resistance.” She suggested giving Coraline two milligrams of melatonin drops about a half hour before we wanted her to go to sleep. Since our bodies naturally produce melatonin, she said you could, in theory, take melatonin drops indefinitely (which we aren’t going to do). Desperate for a return to normal evenings and uninterrupted sleep, Rich and I went straight to a vitamin store after work to buy some. We were giddy at the thought that something might finally help Coraline go back to her old non-screaming, non-head-spinning-and-pea-soup-spewing sweet, sleepy self. I very well may have skipped into the vitamin store.

That night we were only able to get one milligram of melatonin into Coraline, but it did the trick. It was Rich’s turn to put her to bed that night (OK, so I chickened out and traded nights with him. She was THAT bad at bedtime), and he said that she got drowsy right on schedule. He put her to bed without incident, and we didn’t hear a peep from her until it was time to get up the next day. It was glorious.

We’ve made giving her that milligram of melatonin part of her bedtime routine. It has an orange flavor, and since she loves taking medicine, it’s not a problem to get her to take it. We’ll probably stop giving it to her after a month, like her nurse suggested, and see if she’s been “retrained” to sleep by then. If she hasn’t, back on the sauce she shall go.

Now if only I could figure out a way to get her to sleep in on weekends …

Coraline with Red Panda and Nemo. Not pictured: the 72 other stuffed animals and dolls she sleeps with. (10/15/12)

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Wild Toddlers Can’t Be Broken

Song Lyric of the Day:

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed / One fell off and bumped his head /So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said /No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” (book by Eileen Christelow)

Last weekend Rich, Coraline, and I were enjoying the wilds of Asheville, N.C. — particularly the wilds of Biltmore. We enjoyed a stay at the historic Firestone house, which Rich found on Airbnb, which was great. Not only was the house in a terrific location with a wonderful host, but the fact that we were in a home environment versus a cramped, impersonal hotel room was really helpful for Coraline. Unlike our trip to Iowa last summer, she didn’t have to sleep in a hotel’s metal prison-on-wheels crib or her pack ‘n’ play. This trip she got to sleep in a big bed like a big girl.

The first night she slept by herself in the twin bed. Of course, I had to lay down with her until she fell asleep, which ended up taking over an hour. She’d only ever slept in a bassinet, pack ‘n’ play, or crib until this trip, so she needed some reassurance. (So did Rich and I — we placed every extra pillow on the floor next to her, just in case.) Our second night there, Rich took the twin bed while Coraline slept in the full-sized bed with me; she fell asleep in under an hour, passed out with her head on my shoulder. The last night, Rich and I switched and Coraline fell asleep even quicker than the night before.

Turns out Coraline is quite the little bed hog (7/6/12)

Once we got home last Sunday and Coraline went from a vacation non-routine and 24/7 mommy and poppa time (that included all of us sleeping in the same room together) back to her normal schedule and sleeping alone in her crib in her room, well, it didn’t go over so well. No sooner had I placed her in her crib than she was standing up and screaming “mommmmeeeee” over and over, something she never does at bedtime. She normally flips over onto her stomach, pops her thumb in her mouth, and goes right to sleep. I went downstairs where I told Rich how upset she was and turned on the video monitor, which showed Coraline still standing and screaming. Within a couple of minutes we heard a loud bang, Coraline scream, and Caleb bark. I looked at the video monitor and didn’t see Coraline in her crib; I was pretty sure she wasn’t in one of the corners we can’t see. I told Rich I thought she’d fallen out of her crib.

Where's Coraline?

Where's Coraline? (I took this pic back in March when Coraline started squirreling books in her crib.)

We raced upstairs to her room, and no sooner had I opened her door than I spotted her standing on the floor next to her chair. She held out her arms and screamed “MOMMA!” as I snatched her up. Rich and I checked her over to make sure she hadn’t hurt herself; she fell directly onto the hardwood floor, so we were worried about broken limbs and a possible head injury. Thankfully, she was OK. No physical injuries, just scared out of her wits — proof that toddlers are made of rubber and Adamantium. After Rich helped calm her down, I read a few more books to her. While we were reading, Rich brought a mattress pad in and laid it on the floor in front of her crib, just in case. A little while later, I turned off the light and put Coraline back in her crib. This time she rolled over onto her stomach, popped her thumb in her mouth, and went right to sleep.

That was the first — and so far only — time Coraline has ever gotten out of her crib. We think she scared herself so badly that she doesn’t want to try it again. She also scared us so badly that we now have her crib toddler-bed conversion kit in the hallway on standby.

Coraline's room

It's a long way down from that crib.


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