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  • Morning Coffee: Awesome Board Game Deal at TRU

    There’s an amazing deal on board games at Toys R Us this week. First, if you buy $25 worth of qualifying games, you’ll get a $10 gift card. Second, many of the games are just $3.99. At my store, the regular price on these games was $8.99 to $12.99. And third, there’s a TRU/Hasbro rebate that will get you up to $69 back (the rebate on the $3.99 games is $2 each). So, if you buy 7 games, pay $27.93 plus tax, get the $10 gift card and submit for 7 $2 rebates, you’ll end up paying just $3.93 plus tax for 7 games, which will make terrific birthday and holiday gifts. You need the original rebate form, which you can only find in store, so your best bet on these is to head to your local TRU, grab the rebate form, and look for the games listed. One note: The rebate form says character games are excluded (except for Memory), but there were character games under the sign for the rebate at my store, so I took a chance that these would be honored for the rebate, since I’d rather give the Disney Princess version as a gift and $3.99 (minus $1.60 for the prorated gift card) is still an awesome price for the games. If you’d rather be sure you’d get the $2, avoid the character games.

    If you plan to be in Orange County (CA) next Monday, Nov. 16, then you might want to head to the Daily Grill in Irvine or Newport. Those restaurants will be collecting donations of canned goods for the Orange County Food Bank. For every 5 cans donated, Daily Grill will provide a $10 promo card good for food and non-alcoholic beverage (valid January 1 – February 28, 2010). For more info, check out the Daily Grill Facebook page.

    A couple of Amazon deals, because it’s that time of year when great deals abound: Get 2 free accessories when you buy a Flip Ultra(ends 11/18). Also, there’s a sale on digital frames for less than $80(ends 11/15). I see a few Sony and Kodak frames included in this deal.

    Speaking of deals, Freebies 4 Mom has an astounding freebie: 50 free photo cards from SeeHere by FujiFilm.

    MommySnacks is giving away a $100 Target gift card from Shop at Home.

    Every month, I’m blown away by A Thrifty Mom‘s summary of her shopping. In October, she spent $95.57 on $461.84 worth of items. The best part of her post is her explanation of her philosophy of shopping at the end.

    Stretching a Buck has details on how to get 6 free photo book pages at Shutterfly. You have to buy an 8×8 photo book to take advantage of the deal. The books start at $15.99 right now. I don’t quite understand the expiration date, which may be 11/11 or 11/25 based on the terms and conditions of the offer, so it would be safest to purchase your books by 11/11.

    The Science of Being Dad is giving away 4 $100 Sam’s Club gift cards (subscription required). Ends 11/13.

    Why was The Happy Housewife not in my home when Alex was a newborn, giving me advice on the benefits of “room time“?

    Sweetnicks claims to have the only sugar cookie recipe you need. There’s only one way to decide that for yourself, of course 😉

    Trust your parenting instincts – they’re probably right!

    I mentioned yesterday that we had an important medical appointment, but what I didn’t mention is that the evening prior, we got a call from the nurse, essentially saying (reading between the lines) that the specialist didn’t think he needed to be involved and our regular pediatrician ought to be able to handle the follow up. It was certainly surprising and frustrating, although after the initial shock and irritation, I realized that what really mattered yesterday were the actual test results and not the specialist’s input – particularly if the results were positive.

    But I found myself unwilling – even unable – to let the specialist write us off completely. I asked if we could be rescheduled for next week – in the nicest, most reasonable way I could, because I do strongly believe that being nice will always get you more than being nasty, even when you have a right to be angry. The end result was that we were told we could make an appointment with the nurse practitioner, and maybe the specialist would also see us.

    It turns out my instincts were right on. Most of the test results were positive, but there was one negative result that needs to be monitored. By the specialist.

    And I realized that, ever since that first night in the ER, when I understood that my job was to be my child’s advocate, that I have had to advocate almost every step of the way. Each time I think my job is pretty much done, something comes up that requires me to take that role again.

    What I didn’t realize at first was that being an advocate is exhausting. In retrospect, it should have been obvious. My good friend B. has spent countless hours advocating for her child, who’s been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic. I cheered her on from the sidelines as she cajoled, negotiated, and demanded the plan that was in his best interests, and refused to settle for anything less. And I understood at the time that it was mentally and emotionally exhausting for her to do that.

    What I’ve now come to realize is that being an advocate is also a privilege. I love my children so much, and it really is an honor to be able to stand up for them and make sure that they are getting the absolute best care possible. I wouldn’t trade my role for anything!

    The hospital experience (updated)

    Again, thank you for all of the kind words and prayers. They’ve really meant a lot.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever want to really write about the hospital experience – I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet, hence I’m still prone to bursting into tears when someone asks about it.

    But, there are a few tips I do want to share:

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone at the hospital was quite nice. Even the attending physician, who at first came off as rather brusque, turned out to be forthcoming and answered every single one of my questions with relative patience. The doctors in general were sometimes hard to track down, even for the nurses, but I never felt that they were negligent in their care.

    Distraction is the name of the game. The hospital had a DVD player and TV for each patient, so that helped to provide constant distraction. Ditto for lots of small toys (new ones, especially) and books.

    Sleep when your child sleeps. You won’t sleep well, but a little sleep is better than none. And you’ll need your rest, because the whole hospitalization thing is rather exhausting in and of itself.

    Maintain perspective. Even in my darkest moments, I knew we were the lucky ones. My child’s life was never in danger, while we saw other children who had chronic and/or life-threatening ailments. Some were clearly regular guests at the hospital, and arrived with their own blankets and pillows.

    The nurses are your best friends. We were blessed with awesome nurses who were caring, attentive and competent, all at the same time. They tended to me, too, making sure that I was getting all of the information that I wanted as quickly as possible.

    Be prepared for things to be hard when you get home. I was so focused on getting out of the hospital that I didn’t stop to think that things would still be rough when we got home. But with medicine needing to be given every four hours, and my own emotions still all over the place, the first few days home were really tough. (Not to worry, things are definitely better now.)

    I forgot to include this last tip:

    Check on the availability of any prescriptions you receive upon discharge before leaving. We left with a prescription for a medication that needed to be given every four hours, but it turned out the medication isn’t generally stocked because it’s not prescribed very often. Every pharmacy near our house could get it the next day, but that wasn’t going to help me administer the medication that night. The only place I could get the medication was at the pharmacy back at the hospital (a 45 minute drive each way in rush hour traffic), and that pharmacy turned out not to be contracted with our insurance company so I had to pay a pretty hefty amount out of pocket. If only I’d known that I wouldn’t be able to get the prescription filled near home, I could have saved myself an extra hour and a half in the car. At least the pharmacist was thoughtful enough to recommend only getting a partial fill, and I was able to get the rest of the prescription at a local pharmacy that was covered by our insurance the next day.

    A hospital stay teaches me my purpose in my life: To be my child’s advocate

    I just spent the last 18 hours in the emergency room and hospital with one of the boys, who’s being monitored following some substantial blood loss due to another bloody nose. As I sat in the ER digesting the news that he’d have to be admitted, I realized that I had one purpose in life: to be my child’s best advocate.

    Partly, my sense of purpose was due to being confident that I would be good at it. My training as a lawyer and advocate makes me particularly well suited for this situation, even if I don’t have a deep understanding of the medical issues. Doctors are pretty good at breaking things down into layman’s terms, so I had a pretty good understanding of what the problem was. And being an attorney means I’m good at asking questions, finding answers, and being persistent and aggressive (in a nice way) when warranted.

    I realize that this has happened before, just not so starkly. Since our youngest was diagnosed with a peanut and nut allergy, I have reacted fiercely when I’ve perceived any kind of danger lurking in a new food. I’ve pestered the pediatrician with all kinds of questions, and even made him find out if there are any desensitizing clinical trials going on locally. (Unfortunately, there are none.) And a couple of years ago, when the lead paint recalls were overwhelming, I convinced the pediatrician to let me get our oldest’s blood tested for lead.

    Maybe it’s because these fiercely protective feelings are rooted in evolution, when the offspring who got their parents to care about them survived best, but I’ve never felt so strongly that I was put on this earth to accomplish a specific task.

    Right now, I’m feeling particularly grateful that we don’t appear to be dealing with anything especially serious, while other patients at the hospital are handling major health crises. And I’m very grateful for the wonderful medical care we’ve gotten – all of the doctors and nurses have been terrific, and the standard of care has been incredibly high. I’m sure we’ll be paying for it with a massive bill in the end, but it will be worth every penny.

    Needless to say, posting will be light here for a while.

    Adapting to life with my two boys

    Alex is four, so you’d think I’d be used to living with my kids by now. But I find that life with my boys changes so frequently that I’m constantly having to adapt.

    To wit: They have become true consumers.

    I don’t mean they buy lots of stuff when we go shopping. I mean they use up a lot of stuff around the house!

    They eat a lot more now, so a meal cooked for four really does serve only four. Six months ago, I could cook a half pound of pasta, feed the four of us for dinner, and still have leftovers for lunch for Marc and me. No longer. I discovered last week that I need to cook the whole one-pound package if I want leftovers for lunch.

    The boys also use up a lot of handsoap in the bathroom. (I’ll share my trick for cutting down on that later this week.) We go through toilet paper and tissue more quickly than before, too. (Not that I’m complaining about them being potty trained in the least. We can’t be done with diapers soon enough!)

    The thing is, I’m sure that as they get older, these types of changes will become more and more frequent. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for the day when I have two ravenous adolescents threatening to devour everything in the kitchen.

    In the meantime, I realize that I simply need to learn to accept these types of changes as a given, and not be surprised when I notice them. (Any tips on specific things to be prepared for?) I want to stay on top of these shifts in behavior and consumption so that I can keep us well stocked. I wouldn’t want to run out of toilet paper or soap and have to pay full price on them!

    How Toddlers’ Brains Work

    I have no background in early education, but still, I think the topic of brain development is fascinating. And this article on how toddlers’ brains work actually has some potentially practical applications. I don’t know how practicable they are in daily life, but it’s interesting to know that my kids don’t think ahead yet.

    The study found that while 8-year-olds can anticipate the future, 3-year-olds “call up the past as they need it.” The example given was telling your 3-year-old to get her jacket because it’s cold outside. But the child just stores that information and it doesn’t register until she gets outside and feels cold – at which point she’ll think, It’s cold outside, Mom said I should get my jacket.

    The suggestion for handling this situation was to tell the child, “I know you don’t want to take your coat now, but when you’re standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from your bedroom.” Of course, I’m not crazy about the idea of letting the child outside without a jacket to begin with, which is why I question whether this new research can result in ways of communicating that can or will actually be implemented.

    But, I think this helps with my biggest frustration – the not listening. Now it (kind of) makes sense that when I told Alex to stop dragging the toe of his shoe on the ground because it was ruining the shoe, he acted as if he hadn’t heard and kept doing it. I suppose it would have registered at some future time, when he noticed that there was a hole in his shoe: Oh, that’s why Mom told me not to drag my shoe. It’s not excusable, of course, but my new understanding of what’s going on (or not going on) in his brain will hopefully give me more patience.

    Now I just have to figure out how to phrase things so he’ll actually process the information on the spot. Is it even possible?