Christmas Outtakes

It’s that time again – time to hustle the children into their Christmas finery, schlep them down to Phipps, and try to get some passable shots of them for use on the Christmas cards.  It was an especially futile attempt this year.  Out of over 100 shots, I got about 5 usable ones.  Four, if you ask Scot because he didn’t want to be on the card.

The outtakes, on the other hand, are glorious.

We begin with Liam.  I love the kid but he’s in that stage where he simply CANNOT smile naturally unless you make him laugh.  Making him laugh was simply not on the agenda today so I have a lot of pictures like this:

With that lack of upper lip, I should rename him Frank Burns.
If you didn’t get that joke, get off my lawn.
I actually don’t have many outtakes of Jamie by himself because they’re all blurry.  He would run away from the camera.  I did get a couple of decent close ups of him (though mostly profile) that are being used on the Christmas card, however.
Moving on to the group shots…
This was the best I got all day.  Clearly, they’re thrilled.  It was all downhill after this.


“Again? We have to do this again?”

Liam is looking at the ceiling and Jamie smells something bad.

Passable one of Spud.  Jamie disapproves.  Of everything.

Jamie seems to have misplaced his neck.

I have no idea what’s going on with Liam here.
I can’t imagine what these two are going to come up with next year.

UPDATE: I forgot to leave you with this sign from Phipps.

Worried and Scared

I’m not sure I’m going to click “publish” on this post but I can’t keep myself from feeling the need to write it out so write it out I will.  If I do hit publish and you feel the need to comment that I’m just a whiny whinerton who needs to shut up unless she has real problems, you can just skip right over to some other place on the internet.  I don’t need that today.

Today may go down as the day that changed our family.  I know that sounds melodramatic and ridiculous but it’s how I feel right now.  I’ll admit up front that I’m upset and a scared and feeling a large dose of panic about this so that undoubtedly makes this all seem worse.

To explain, let me go back a bit.  Liam has been having some troubles off and on for a few months that finally led us to take him to the doctor.  They were mostly gastro-intestinal issues so I’m not going to get graphic about it.  When Scot took him to the doc, they weighed him and he’d lost two pounds.

That’s a big deal for Liam – a very, very big deal.  Liam is almost 7 years old and he now weighs 44 pounds.  He’s very skinny and also a bit short for his age.  Much of this is due to his genetics but the fact remains that he gains weight excruciatingly slowly and cannot afford to lose any of it, much less two pounds.  It is not unusual for Liam to spend an entire year gaining that much weight.

When Scot discussed all of the seemingly disparate symptoms with our pediatrician they decided to run some blood tests on Liam and get an abdominal x-ray.  I wasn’t able to be at the appointment so when Scot called to tell me what was going on, I got upset.  I thought it was a simple matter to deal with (hey! my kid’s butt won’t stop itching!) and instead they walked out needing diagnostic tests.

One of the blood panels they ran was to rule out Celiac Disease.  Our pediatrician basically said that he didn’t think this was really Liam’s problem but better to run everything at once rather than have to take him back for a second stick later.  We figured that if anything came back wonky, it would be his iron level.

His abdominal x-ray was normal.  We found that out the same day they did it.  Today I got the call about the blood work and one of his numbers on the Celiac panel was elevated.  To give you an idea, the number should be below 20 for a negative result for Celiac.  20-30 is a weak positive.  Above 30 is a stronger positive.  Liam’s number was 31.  The other measurement on the Celiac panel was normal.

What does this mean?  It means more tests.  It means a specialist.  It means more investigation.  It’s possible, given his fence-sitting results, that he does NOT have Celiac.  It’s also very possible that he does.

Now, Celiac has been getting a lot of attention recently as diagnoses are on the rise – not because incidence is increasing but because doctors are getting better at recognizing the symptoms.  So, it’s possible you’ve heard that the ‘cure’ (not really, it doesn’t go away) for the disease is a gluten-free diet.

Great, you say.  What’s your beef?  Why are you freaking? Feed him different food and he’ll be fine.  If you have to deal with an auto-immune disorder, it’s best if it’s Celiac since it’s treated by dietary changes.  You’re golden!

Except we’re talking about a 6 year old kid with food issues.  He is a supremely picky eater whose favorite food is PASTA of all things.  We’ve had dozens of conversations with Liam about the state of his eating habits and he always says “OK, Mommy” and promises to try new things.  Then, when push comes to shove, he can’t do it and he’s puking up corn (or whatever else we’ve asked him to try).  Part of my panic is about the very real possibility that World War III is about to erupt in my household over dietary changes.

Celiac is still an auto-immune disorder, ‘good’ one or not.  And that means he’ll have increased risk for a lot of other potentially awful things.  Doing some basic reading up on it today left me breathless and in tears.  I’m scared for my kid.

People with celiac disease are more likely to have:


Gluten-free means huge added expenses to our grocery bills.  It means absolute vigilance about everything he puts in his mouth.  It means he’ll never be able to eat the sweet treats his classmates bring in for birthdays or that are a part of class parties.  It means the family recipes that I’ve long treasured and enjoyed baking with him will no longer be safe for him to eat.  I’m sad about the loss of those things.

I’m scared and worried about navigating the enormous amount of upheaval this will cause in our lives.  Of couse I believe that we can get through it and figure it out.  Of course I know that we have doctors and professionals and the internet to help us through.  But, for now – just for today, I feel overwhelmed.

One Small Gesture

It’s been one hell of a week in this house.  Three of the four of us were sick with a nasty cold and Scot was diagnosed with a cracked rib.  Of course, they only discovered that after 2 ER visits, 2 doctor visits, multiple chest x-rays, blood tests, and a CT scan.  But I digress.

So, yeah, it’s been a long rotten week (hence the lack of blogging – when I blog and I’m cranky I get comments about how if that’s all I have to bitch about I should shut up.  So I don’t blog when I’m cranky).  We’ve been muddling through as best we can but Scot was having a really hard time – mostly because he felt like he couldn’t breathe – and wasn’t really able to do much more than lay in bed and try to catch his breath.

Liam, sensitive kid that he is, picked up on all this and presented Scot with this note two nights ago:

” Dad I will love you forever.
I really {love} Dad.
You are the best Dad ever.
You are great.
I love you lots and lots.
You are the best Dad ever.”
One little note and life doesn’t seem so tough anymore.

Wherein I Discuss That Thing

That Thing that happened at Penn State.

So, you know, I would completely understand if you skipped it.

I’ve wondered whether I should even write about it but I have so much rage about this.  So much.  No, I didn’t go to Penn State.  No, I didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania.  No, I don’t understand the worship of Joe Paterno.  I acknowledge that I will see this situation somewhat differently than those who have but I did graduate from a Big Ten university with a large football program – a university that gave out far more athletic scholarships than it ever dreamed of giving to the smarty pants academics.

So I do kind of get it.

And then I consider all the things that had to happen, all the people who turned away and shut their eyes and mouths, and I stop being able to understand at all.

That’s when the rage hits.

I don’t care how many games of whatever sport you’ve won.  I don’t care what good you’ve done through charities.  I don’t care if the man you see doing terrible things to children is someone you respect or even love.  I don’t care if you think you have a university’s reputation to protect.

The very last thing any adult should be thinking about in this situation is any of those things.  The second that they do, the victim and what happened to them gets lost and they learn a terrible lesson.  They learn that adults can’t be trusted, adults won’t help them, and, even worse, that they are somehow not WORTH anyone’s help.

THAT is the tragedy in this situation.  Not job loss, not reputations ruined.  It’s children forever damaged while people sat back and pretended it wasn’t happening.  How would any of the people involved in perpetrating this horror feel if it was their child so horribly damaged?  I do not understand how any of these people can look themselves in the face and justify their actions or inactions.  How does the one eyewitness in the case look at his 2 year old daughter and find a way to live with what he didn’t do?  It is simply incomprehensible to me and then I just want to see all of them get everything the law says they deserve.

But more than anything else I think about the victims and I hope and pray that they have found some kind of healing and peace.  I hope that they know that they are, and were, worth someone’s help and worth far more than any sports program or reputation.  I hope they know that it was never their fault.


Liam has been a student of Tae Kwon-Do for a year and a half now.  In that time he has gone from a clumsy, awkward white belt to a blue belt with control, balance, and a certain grace.  I am immensely proud of all he has accomplished through his hard work.

Today he participated in his very first tournament and he did so very well.  This was an inter-school tournament that included all 9 of Grandmaster Kong’s dojangs.  So, there were a lot of kids there that Liam has never met, never sparred against, never seen their skills.

This was only half of the gym full of kids
Liam competed in patterns and sparring.  They also had categories for breaking but as he hasn’t done that yet, we didn’t sign him up for that.
First, he did his pattern.  This is the same pattern he will do next month when he tests for his red stripe. I apologize for the camera work – we were in the bleachers with lots of other people.
When all of the kids in his group had demonstrated their pattern and been scored, they awarded medals and certificates.  They gave a gold, silver, and bronze medal to the top three kids and certificates to the others.
Liam won a bronze!
Look!  I got a medal!
These aren’t chintzy participation medals either.  They’re heavy and large with emblems on both sides.

After the patterns were finished, they moved onto sparring.  Liam sparred twice, losing the first bout but winning the second.  The bout he won was against a red belt.  

Liam is on the right.

Liam on the left, facing the camera.
And he medaled again!  He won another bronze for his sparring.
Getting his medal (Liam second from left)

Grinning from ear to ear
He’s worked very hard over the last year and a half and this is such a marvelous validation of all that hard work.  He earned those medals.  We couldn’t be more proud of him.  More importantly, he couldn’t be more proud of himself.


My kids are four years apart.  We planned it that way and for the most part it has worked out.  But the age difference has made the sibling relationship a bit fraught from time to time.  Liam gets bossy, Jamie gets grabby, there are unkind words.

They’re brothers, I expect this.

But every now and then I see sweet gestures between the two.  Liam will play games with Jamie and I’ll hear gales of laughter, usually while wrestling with each other.

This morning, Jamie melted my heart.

Liam was having a rough morning.  Time change is kicking his butt.  He woke up cranky and difficult, telling me he wouldn’t go to school and with raging attitude.  I was working through all of this with him, trying to coax him through morning routine without it becoming a battle, when he complained that his back hurt.

Given that he was sitting on the hard kitchen floor scrunched up against the island this was hardly surprising.

Jamie was hanging around while all of this was going on and he ran off at this point; I assumed he was going to go poke around in the freezer and then shove some breakfast item in my face to fix for him.

Instead, while I was continuing to talk to Liam, he came back with one of our kiddie ice packs from the freezer.  We call it “cold Nemo” because it looks like a clownfish and has gel inside so you can freeze the whole thing but have a flexible cold pack.  Anyway, he came running back with cold Nemo and put it on his brother’s back.

My tank of a two year old, who is made of all ego and rarely thinks beyond himself (he’s two!) heard Liam say his back hurt and ran off to get something to help.

Melted puddle on the floor.

I hope, as they get older, they find more and more common ground.