Feb 2, 2014: Happy Second Birthday, Sam!

Okay, Sam’s birthday actually isn’t until Tuesday, but why not start celebrating now? My baby boy is going to be two years old!!! As much as it’s a cliché to say it, I can’t believe how quickly these two years have gone by.

We’re not doing much of anything noteworthy to celebrate the occasion, but it will be special. I’m baking a cake and decorating it with Sam’s favorite thing—cars! And after Theo gets out of school on Tuesday, we’re going to drive over to Genentech to have lunch with Chris. Really, both of these things are more for Theo than for Sam—Sam is oblivious to the fact that it’s his birthday. But Theo is very excited about the day, so we figured we’d do something fun. And as for the cake, I guarantee Sam won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole (and in fact will probably scream and throw it on the floor), but damn it, I want him to have a cake. So a cake he shall have! If I serve it with ice cream, he’ll probably eat that. I’ve discovered that ice cream is one of the five foods he’ll eat from me—the other four being goldfish crackers, pretzels, potato chips, and soy yogurt. Though whether he’ll eat ice cream at home is a giant question mark—he’ll eat it at an ice-cream shop, but that doesn’t mean he’ll eat it at home. Guess we’ll find out, eh?

The reason I know the little diva will eat it at an ice-cream shop is because I took the boys out for ice cream on Sunday, while Chris was at his parents’ house watching the Super Bowl. Well, sorbet for dairy-allergic Theo and ice cream for me (which Sam shared). What a tasty treat! Actually, Theo’s sounded horrible—they only had watermelon sorbet, which he chose to have with gummy bears mixed in. But he liked it, so that’s all that matters. I much preferred my dark-chocolate truffle ice cream mixed with cheesecake ice cream and with a peanut-butter swirl mixed in. Mmmmm! (Clearly, Sam agreed.)

That was actually after our trip to a trampoline place, where Theo had a play date with his BFF, Gavin. Theo does not like change these days, and he was rather rattled that Chris was going to be gone for the afternoon. However, when he found out about his play date, he proclaimed happily, “I will not even care about Daddy today! I will just be busy bouncing with my friend Gavin!” Ha ha, poor Chris! Clearly he comes in second. It’s a good thing that I had a way to distract him, though. Chris and I left the boys with Grandma Kathy and Papa on Thursday while we went to the George Strait concert, and poor Theo was all out of whack. He kept randomly bursting into tears over little things earlier in the day, and he was just not himself. At first I worried that he might be getting sick, as it was very out of character for him, but it seems it was more just he was very anxious about us being gone for a few hours. I have no idea why. He’s been quite preoccupied with the topic of death lately, so maybe it has something to do with that? I don’t know—he’s an enigma. Anyway, all is well. We had a great time at the concert, and he was back to his normal self the next morning.

We had great seats for the concert, by the way! We bought the tickets quite a while ago, and I had forgotten that we actually paid for decent seats for once. What a treat! And George Strait sounded as good as ever. Martina McBride opened for him. Although she’s not one of my favorite singers, I do like some of her songs, and she’s a good performer. In fact, one of the highlights of the concert for me was when she joined George onstage to sing the old Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash duet, “Jackson.” What fun!

We had actually wondered whether we would even get to see the show, as Sam spent the early part of the week sick. Are you getting tired of hearing about someone in our house being sick every week? So are we. I’m ready for this cold/flu season to end!

Anyway, I took the boys up to see my mom on Monday, as Theo had the day off school. Sam was fine when we left the house in the morning, and by the time we got to Elk Grove 90 minutes later, he woke up from his car nap flushed and feverish. He was rather listless and dull, and his fever climbed quickly, so we ran to the store for some baby Motrin. Once I got that into him, he perked up and ate some pretzels, but when the Motrin wore off several hours later, his fever climbed quickly back up. And so it went for three days—Motrin would bring the fever down, but it would climb quickly back up every time the drug wore off. And he was grumpy!! So, so fussy. But no other symptoms. I kept telling Chris, “This illness is a total mystery to me. The fever keeps shooting up and he’s so grouchy, but there’s nothing obviously wrong.” Kaiser had told me to just watch him for 72 hours, but by Wednesday afternoon I decided to bring him in. Turns out he had an ear infection—his first since getting tubes in his ears about six months okay. Okay, problem solved…right? He’s not contagious, he’s on antibiotics for his ear, it’s all good.

And it was all good. And it is all good. But I did finally find out the case of the initial virus (that turned into an ear infection): roseola! I didn’t take him back to the doctor to diagnose it (because roseola is a virus and doesn’t usually require a doctor visit), but I’d bet my last dollar that’s what it is. It’s a very common childhood virus that hits kids under age three. The symptoms are a high fever and irritability—usually very few other symptoms. And then, after the fever breaks in a few days, the kid usually breaks out in a rash. That was the dead giveaway: When I got him up on Friday morning, his torso was covered in red blotches. I was going to ask Chris to ask his parents whether they had fed him a new food on Thursday night, as I assumed perhaps it was a food reaction, but then I did some Googling and looked at a few rash pictures and discovered that he appears to have a textbook case of roseola! So the good news is, he shouldn’t have been contagious when we had Chris’s parents watch him (contagious period is when they actively have the fever), and the rash should go away in no more than a few weeks. And I’m relieved to have an answer, because I knew something weird was up—he wasn’t being himself.

We actually did have another doctor visit this week, though: the eye doctor! And the great news is that Sam doesn’t currently need glasses. Lots of kids with DS do, but Sam doesn’t. Which makes me very happy because I really don’t know how I would’ve kept them on him! He won’t even wear a hat or shoes, much less glasses. Though he would’ve looked cute as heck in them, wouldn’t he??

Our weekend was pretty quiet. We babysat Theo’s friend Tico on Saturday while his parents went hiking, and the boys had a good time playing at the park. We also took Theo to Home Depot for their building workshop, and he made a race car! While there, we saw his beloved Sabrina, and he said wistfully, “I just love Sabrina…” Awww! He has such good taste, that boy of mine—she really is a sweetheart, and smart as a whip!

In other news, if anyone is wondering why I’ve been rather incommunicado lately, it’s the usual answer: swamped with work. I finished the corrections of the Malala biography (along with teaching and doing some editing work), and the publisher has asked me to write a second book for them: a spotlight on sportscaster-turned-children’s-author Mike Lupica (who is from Oneida, NY, for my NY peeps!). The only catch is that they’d love to have the complete manuscript by Valentine’s Day. Eeek! They gave me a two-week extension if I need it, but they’re hoping I can wrap it up by the 14th. We shall see. It’s only a 50-page book (it’s written for fourth and fifth graders), but given that I had never even heard of Mike Lupica before about four days ago, I have my work cut out for me.

The other exciting news is that the series editor told me that he would love to work with me on some more books for their 2015 catalog, and he wanted to know what my interests were. I sent him a list of what sorts of things I’m interested in (travel, life sciences, photography, animals, etc.), and I mentioned that I’m passionate about the special-needs community and advocacy. He wrote back immediately that he was very interested in that, because he’s been trying to think of a special-needs series to do for some time now. So I’m cautiously optimistic that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to write a book on some aspect of special needs! The publisher is an educational publisher that does books for students in K-12, and if I had my way about it, I’d love to write a book explaining Down syndrome to kids in ways they can easily grasp. Obviously, it’d have to be different books for elementary and junior high and high school, since they’re at different reading levels, but I’d love to have a hand in something like that. For example, speech difficulties are a huge stigma for kids with DS. People make fun of their somewhat garbled speech, thinking that it’s a sign of stupidity. It very much is not; rather, it’s a sign of low oral muscle tone and the fact that the mouth cavity for people with DS tends to be smaller than typical, so their tongue is actually rather large in comparison to their mouth. I would love to be able to explain things like that so that kids who read the book could get a better understanding of how simple and inconsequential the differences really are—oh, the fact that Sam doesn’t speak clearly doesn’t mean he’s stupid, it means he has to work harder to get the muscles in his mouth and tongue to form the words!

Who knows if anything will come of this, but I’m just very excited that it’s even a possibility. That would really be a dream come true for me. Heck, even getting published was a dream come true, so getting to write about special needs would just be the icing on the cake!

Anyway, time to wrap up for the week. I spent most of the week dealing with a sick, cranky baby, so I’m afraid I don’t have all that much to report—nor do I have many pictures for you. But I do have something very exciting—a video made in honor of Sam’s two-year birthday! Enjoy, peeps!

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