May 11, 2014: Happy Mother’s Day!

Greetings all! Are you thinking, “It’s the middle of May! There will be no talk of colds or flus on the Smalls’ blog this week”? If so, you’d be wrong, wrong, wrong. Because despite it being past cold and flu season for the most part, we’ve been stricken again! But only two of us this time. Theo was fine at school on Monday and was perfectly happily playing with the iPad while Sam napped and I worked in the afternoon. But as soon as Sam woke up and we went downstairs, Theo was pale, shaky, complaining that he had to throw up, and feverish. It struck fear in my heart—he was so antsy and upset and looking like he was going to puke that I feared a relapse of the stomach virus, despite the fact that we had a maid service come and scrub down our house after the last bout. AHHHHHH!!!!

Luckily, I was wrong. He was sick, but it wasn’t a stomach bug. Rather, it was some nasty little virus with a fever that lasted a couple of days and residual effects lasting most of the week. But no puking, thank god. And Chris got it, too—and interestingly enough, had the same symptoms as Theo. He felt fine one minute and then dizzy, weak, and feverish the next, with his stomach threatening to go into chaos. He, too, never puked, but he didn’t feel well for a couple of days. He was well enough to go to work, but feeling icky and off.

Sam and I, miraculously, didn’t catch it this time around. Interestingly enough, I started using essential oils on Sam and I about a month or so ago. I was so darn tired of us being sick all the time that I decided to give them a whirl. Several people in my Rockin’ Moms group swear by them. So, I ordered a health/immune defense blend of sorts, put a few drops in a roller bottle with apricot oil as a carrier (essential oils used straight are very potent and can be harmful—if nothing else, abrasive to your skin—so you have to dilute them pretty heavily), and I’ve been rolling a small amount on the soles of Sam’s feet once a day and on the back of my neck once a day. I hadn’t tried them on Theo because he has been my healthy kiddo this year (he’s been sick a couple of times, but not much). But what do you know? The two of us in the house using the essential oils are the only two who didn’t get sick! Needless to say, I’m now applying a small amount to Theo, too. Chris can decide whether he wants to participate, too. 🙂

I actually ordered a digestive blend for me, too, but I haven’t figured out yet how to take it. You can dilute it in any kind of oil (olive oil, apricot oil, coconut oil, etc.) and put it in capsules, but making the capsules is labor-intensive and I haven’t had time. I need to figure out another solution. Perhaps you can do a drop in a big glass of water or something. Need to research more…. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if, when I finally get around to working with the digestive blend, it helps my digestive issues—which are healing but still flare up now and again.

Theo being sick gave me a good reason to go to Kaiser. When he was still pretty droopy and complaining of a sore throat and “sore cheeks” on Friday, I took him in for a strep and ear check. I was pretty sure whatever he had was a virus, but I figured better safe than sorry, and besides, I wanted to quiz the doctor about Sam’s required blood tests for his thyroid medicine.

As it turns out, our pediatrician wasn’t on duty, but my other favorite doctor in the group was—lucky us! She quickly confirmed that Theo’s illness was nothing more than a virus, and then I asked her whether Kaiser could run the blood tests Sam needs to have done next week. I can’t remember whether I shared just how bad our blood-draw experience was the last time, so I’ll give you the brief summary now. For the naturopath, I needed to go through a company called LabCorp to get Sam’s bloodwork done, as Kaiser supposedly doesn’t offer one of the tests she needed to run. I searched for a local LabCorp office that does pediatric blood draws, and off we went. What…a…nightmare! In the end, we had to go to three different LabCorp locations and have five different techs before we got someone who could draw Sam’s blood. In the meantime, the others poked and prodded and stabbed the poor kid multiple times, rooting around in his arm looking for a vein while he screamed and screamed. At the last place, it took thirty minutes, and by the time they finally got a vein, his entire arm had broken out in a petechial rash (basically tons of burst tiny blood vessels), and he had a pretty awful bruise. Plus, he was screaming like crazy and I was nearly in tears because I felt so awful. It was just absolutely horrid. For all my love/hate relationship with Kaiser, those people can draw blood! When we go into their lab, they very quickly and efficiently find a vein and draw Sam’s blood with virtually no pain or trauma to him. Apparently, the LabCorp locations are not so great.

So anyway, I wanted to plead our case with a pediatrician and try to have Kaiser run the follow-up tests he needs to make sure the dosage is correct for him. (Besides, it will save us $200 in out-of-pocket costs, which is also not an inconsequential factor!) As it turns out, the pediatrician found what the naturopath had told me—that Kaiser doesn’t offer one of the tests he needs. However, she ordered it as a “miscellaneous” lab and told me to go into the lab and have them pull up the order, where she noted exactly what he needs, and ask them if they can run it. I’m not terribly optimistic, but I’m certainly going to try it! And if they can…oh, if they can, this mama will do a very big happy dance!

The pediatrician was very interested to hear about Sam’s treatment. Apparently she has a patient who is having similar thyroid issues, and she told the parent not to treat, based on Kaiser’s guidelines. However, after hearing about Sam’s amazing developments since starting and about the naturopath’s theories about why he should be treated—and, specifically, with the desiccated thyroid medicine—she told me she was going to consult with her patient’s mother and perhaps revise her suggestion on treatment. She also told me that if we went to the endocrinologist in Oakland (instead of the one in Walnut Creek we were referred to), we might have more luck getting treatment. I had to smile when I told her that we had stepped outside of Kaiser because of their “policy” on thyroid treatment, and she rolled her eyes and shook her head as if to say, “Yeah, yeah, them and their policies….” 🙂 I actually got the same vibe from our own pediatrician a month ago, when I mentioned the second opinion to her. They’ll never come right out and say it, but I think some of these docs really wish they were allowed to do more than they are.

Just in case you’re wondering why we don’t change insurance, it’s because I honestly haven’t heard any better stories about other medical insurances/groups. It seems across the board that there are plusses and minuses to all of the insurances and providers, and in general, Kaiser does good work. We have a great pediatrician, we like our own doctors, and in general we feel we’ve gotten good care from Kaiser. We haven’t agreed with everything they’ve done, which is when we’ve stepped outside of them, but in general I do think they’re a pretty good group. No one’s perfect, right? 🙂

Anyway, in case you’re wondering about Sam’s incredible progress, he continues to progress. Once he took those first few steps, he became an unstoppable walking force! He practices all the time, and he’s so proud of himself! He still crawls much of the time, probably because it’s easier and faster, but he practices walking a lot and without prompting, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before we have a full-time walker on our hands! And I just can’t get enough of seeing that incredibly proud smile on his face as he staggers around on those still-wobbly-but-getting-stronger baby legs. It just never gets old. 🙂

In other weekly news, I volunteered to take the pictures for Theo’s school yearbook. This meant taking individual pictures of each of the 55 students, plus the three teachers, plus class photos of all three classes. Overall, it went really well. The kids were mostly cooperative, and out of that entire batch, there are only two pictures I need to redo. One is of one of the teachers—she came out slightly out of focus, so I’ll probably redo hers. The other is Theo’s K/1 class photo. We have 16 smiling kids and their fearless leader—and one kid who decided it would be fun to make a face. Would you like to guess which student that was?? I’ll give you a hint: The photographer really should’ve known better than to take her eyes off of him and focus on the entire class. Epic mom-photographer fail. 🙂

So, the weekend. On Saturday we went to a Special Kids’ Day put on by the Lions’ Club. They do it each year on the day before Mother’s Day, and it’s awesome! If you have a child with special needs, you can participate in this totally free event. Part of what makes it cool is that it’s only for families with kids with special needs, so it’s not very crowded. I would guess maybe 500 people were there—which, when you think of a big festival, is really not that many people. And, because every family there has someone with special needs, you know that if your kid freaks out and melts down, you’re with a forgiving audience. Thankfully, Theo is mostly past the freak-out stage and Sam is pretty easygoing, but it’s nice to be in a place where no one so much as bats an eye if a kid suddenly goes into full-blown meltdown. We’re all doing the best we can, and everyone there knows it. It’s comforting.

Besides that, it’s just an awesome event. Everything is free—all the free food you want. I can’t even tell you how much shaved ice and popcorn Theo ate, plus a hot dog, chips, and various other things. I had an ice cream bar and cotton candy. Sam loves fudgsicles, we found. Chris had shaved ice and popcorn and cotton candy. Really, it was a sort of guilty-pleasure-food extravaganza! There are hay rides, motorcycle rides (one of Theo’s favorite parts!), bouncy houses, a petting zoo, a big medieval area where kids can try water-balloon catapults and try on knight gear, musical entertainment, play structures, and tons and tons of games where everyone wins prizes. We met up with Theo’s BFF, Gavin, and his family there, and the two boys rocked the stage with a rousing rendition of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”

Funny story about this: Last year, the boys surprised us by getting up onstage and singing a karaoke version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” (Theo’s suggestion, given his great love of AC/DC.) Gavin is fairly shy (or at least was last year), and Theo isn’t shy but isn’t much of a performer. But apparently if you give them microphones and a rock song, they are both rockstars! The boys kinda brought down the house last year—people stopped us and Gavin’s parents to ask us, “Are you guys the parents of those kids who did AC/DC?” It was quite amusing.

So this year, Gavin’s mom went up to the guys running the stage and asked if they were going to do karaoke. They were, and asked what her son wanted to sing. She said AC/DC, and they replied, “Oh, are those the same kids who did ‘Back in Black’ last year?? We brought the AC/DC this year just for them!” Ha ha, it cracked us up that these guys remembered our kids a whole year later!

For your viewing pleasure, here are both of the boys’ performances. (Thanks to Gavin’s mom, Courtney, for the footage!) Let me warn you of two things. The first video is last year’s “Back in Black,” and I urge you to cover your ears. It was all about the primal screams, and they sound like wounded cats. 🙂 The second video is this year, and they’re actually much better on the singing side of things. It starts slow, but then they start rocking it. I only wish we had the very last part, where they both thanked people for coming to their show. It was pretty epic. 🙂

So that brings us to today—Mother’s Day. Well, it was an up-and-down day. It started out a little rough but ended on a good note. And I have to give props to Chris, who really went out of his way to make it a smooth, as-stress-free-as-possible day for me.

I decided what I wanted to do was go to the Ferry Building in San Francisco for oysters and lunch and then go on a wildflower hike in San Francisco. Well, the Ferry Building was…stressful. My oysters were delicious, but then I couldn’t get any more food because any place I could eat was either too crowded or too expensive. (We were just grabbing takeout items with the plan to eat outside in the sunshine, but some of the takeout there is very expensive, and my gluten-free options are pretty limited already.) So I sat and watched the boys eat their takeout…all the while rather hungry. It was somewhat depressing. And then some guy walked by and spit a big loogie right in front of us, which was just gross. I mean, there was a garbage can five feet away—he couldn’t spit in the garbage can instead? (It’s a little thing, but really—common courtesy! And this was not a down-on-his-luck type who maybe didn’t know better—it was a well-dressed, trendy-looking guy who apparently just lacks manners.) So I was feeling rather grumpy. (I get grumpy when I’m hungry!) But I decided to console myself with a double-scoop of ice cream from a new ice-cream vendor in the Ferry Building, and that was delicious! I had one scoop of ancho chocolate (like a slightly spicy chocolate) and one scoop of fluffernutter (peanut butter with some marshmallow fluff, I think), and it was divine! The boys were not as charmed by their sorbets—mango-carrot-cake and prickly-pear-coconut—but my ice cream was delicious!

Then we walked over to the Starbucks next door because I needed to go to the bathroom, and the Ferry Building bathrooms are notoriously gross and ridiculously crowded. And because Theo hadn’t liked the sorbet, I decided to be a nice mommy and get him a chocolate soy milk for his dessert—besides, it would give me a chance to use a better bathroom. OR SO I THOUGHT! The Starbucks bathroom was pretty filthy, and the guy who went in front of me (it was a unisex bathroom) left his pee in the toilet! I thought maybe the toilet was broken, but no—he just didn’t flush and left the filthy seat up to boot. And again—well-dressed guy who you would expect would have simple manners. I know we’re in a drought, and here in our house we do often follow the “let the yellow mellow” rule in an attempt to conserve water, but come on—a shared public toilet? Please flush!!!

So I was all the more disgruntled and grumpy. It wasn’t shaping up to be a stellar day, and a certain member of our party who shall remain nameless was really a bit of a handful, too.

But then we finally made it to our hiking destination—the Presidio—and it was fabulous! Cool breeze, beautiful blue skies, amazing views, and miles of trails meandering through eucalyptus groves with wildflowers to explore. Not to mention a fabulous playground and a public bathroom that was actually very clean with no pee left in it!! It’s the little things, you know? 😉 Plus, the aforementioned antsy member of our party, the future John Muir, settled down once we got out and hiking, and he had a wonderful time exploring the trails and playing on the playground. And the other member of our party had a ball, too—riding way high up on Daddy’s back and going down the slide about a million times.

I hadn’t realized there was hiking in the Presidio (an old army base) until I read an article about it this week, and now that we know about it, we’ll definitely be back. It really is lovely, and the trails are easy enough for Theo to really enjoy. Plus, it’s in a nice, cool, breezy part of town, so I imagine that on hot summer days when it’s too hot to play outside in our part of town, we can head over there for a nice, cool hike.

So the day ended on an excellent note. And note to self: No matter how good the oysters are, next time skip ‘em and head straight to hiking in the Presidio. 🙂

I’ll close by wishing all of the moms out there a happy Mother’s Day. To my own mom, to my mother-in-law, and to all of the amazing and wonderful moms I know, I hope you had a wonderful day (with no sidewalk loogies or rogue pee in the toilet)!

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