The Opposite of a Diet

This weekend, we stocked up on the following items at the grocery store.

  • Evaporated milk
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Croissants
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Corn syrup
  • Something called “ghee”, which apparently is even more buttery than butter
  • Pudding
  • Super-fat milk
  • Super-fat egg nog
  • And whole-fat “baby” yogurt, which has always been a staple
And I’m sure I left several more uber-fat things off the list.
We purchased these items on the recommendation of Molly’s gastroenterologist, who suggested we try pouring them on, or mixing them into, Molly’s food, or just let her drink them straight in some cases.  The goal is to see if Molly can be fattened up in the next month for her next visit to the doctor.  This is the least intrusive (and indeed, the most enjoyable!) way for Molly to try to get back on the growth chart.  Molly has been hanging below the bottom of the growth chart, around negative -3-5% (is that even theoretically possible?), since she was born, and has even dropped off a bit in the last few months.  Thus the gastroenterologist.
Hopefully with all this gooey fat, Molly will put on some weight in the next month and even hit the 21-pound mark!

Packing it on (sort of)

Molly had her 18-month well check today.  Mainly, we were interested to see if her body was actually growing.  Last time we had her weighed at the doctors’ office, during a visit for a cold back in January, she had not put on a single ounce over the few weeks since her 15-month check.  She was stuck at 18 pounds.  If we did not see any movement on her weight this time, we might have to start with the blood tests, which besides being a troubling sign, might get ugly, based on past experience.

We did not go in with great expectations, either.  Molly had been on another “down cycle” with her eating lately, apparently due to a cold and/or teething, both of which seem to badly suppress her appetite.  She is often hostile to the very idea of food.  Most mornings when I set her down for breakfast, Molly looks like this:

Back to the well check…we had some cautiously good news.  Molly now weighed in at 18 pounds and 12 ounces.   She’s small, but definitely growing, and the doctor was happy about that.  Coupled with a lot of walking and talking, the doctor was pretty encouraged with the way Molly was coming along.  After all, Molly also looks like this once we get her away from the high chair:

Out for a Walk

Yesterday on the way home from school, Claire said, “Maybe tonight, after we do all our work and stuff, we could go for a walk.” I don’t know what inspired this. Maybe the new neighborhood? Maybe all the walking we did on our vacation in Florida a couple of weeks ago? Maybe the beautiful spring weather? It was brilliant how she framed it as “after we do all our work and stuff” so I would not object or say, “Well, sorry, but we don’t have time”. Not that she had to convince me. A walk in our new neighborhood on a nice spring evening? I was sold!

I did tell Claire that there was not much time for a walk, so we would have to eat dinner quick. Claire said yes, but we should not eat too fast because we did not want to get food stuck in our throat. When dinner was done, Claire and I got geared up for our walk. Claire suggested that Kit stay at home because Molly, who was asleep, would not want to be left all alone. Wow. Claire had all the angles figured out.

Claire and I took a 10-minute walk around the corner and back. We talked mostly about street walking safety, the plants and trees, and some of the pretty houses. Claire wanted to go longer, but we needed to get her back for bath & bed.

Tonight, Claire suggested we go for a walk again. This was not a bath night, so we had a little more time. This time Claire wanted to go for a longer walk and bring along her water bottle in case she got dehydrated. We brought along Muffin this time too, as per Kit’s suggestion. A block or so out, Claire said she wanted to run to get more exercise. So Claire, Muffin, and I jogged down the street. After another block or so, Claire asked for some of her water, and Muffin was panting a lot. We did intervals the rest of the time, walking a block, jogging the next, and so on for about 15 minutes. This was all Claire’s idea. She said exercise is really important, and kids and adults should do it every day. I really don’t know where she is getting this crazy information.

Cast Conversation

This is Claire telling the story of the cast on her leg. At this point, she has had the cast on for about three of her planned four weeks. She says her leg still hurts here, but of the many times I have asked her that question, this is the only time she has said it still hurts.

Also, kudos to the new Flip Video camera, which takes even better 😉 footage than my cell phone.


On Sunday afternoon, I took Claire and Muffin for what I thought was going to be a simple walk down Turtle Creek to Reverchon Park. Unfortunately, this innocent walk turned into a broken leg for poor Claire, all day Monday at the hospital getting her fixed up, and several weeks in a full-leg cast. So, not a good day.

Kit was off at work. After Claire woke up from her nap around 4:30, I decided to do something productive with that dubious time between nap and dinner, so I decided to take Muffin for a bath. This has been on the to-do list for weeks, but Muffin’s hygiene had repeatedly been pushed to the bottom of the list. Her white hair was turning yellowish now, and it was really time to get her clean.

When we pulled up to Dirty Gawgz, the self-serve dog wash place, it was closed — out of business. Muffin was out of luck again! Rather than just go straight home, I decided it would be fun for everyone to go for a little walk along nearby Turtle Creek. Muffin was very excited about the idea, but Claire was only luke warm. I think she said she would rather go get some ice cream. In retrospect, I wish I had listened to Claire.

We walked down the creek for about a half mile when we hit Reverchon Park and started to hear a crowd and some music. It was a festival of some sort. The minute I saw the inflatable “bounce house”, I nearly turned back before Claire (with her lower profile) could see it. I knew Claire would really, really want to go play in the bounce house, as she had enthusiastically done at many birthday parties. But I was not really “up” for a fair and not excited about keeping track of Claire and Muffin by myself in a crowded park. Just as I completed that thought, Claire saw the bounce house and yelled, “I want to go there!” I considered telling her we didn’t have time, or something along those lines. But the fact was that we did have time, and the only thing keeping me from letting her play was my own lack of energy and/or adventurism. Isn’t this the kind of thing childhood is all about? Stumbling apon a fair on a nice Sunday afternoon and getting to go play for a while? In retrospect, just this once, I wish my grumpier and more hesitant side had prevailed. But it did not.

We did a couple of arts and crafts first, to sort of warm up to the fair. But there was no line for the bounce house, so we headed that way soon. In fact, nobody was even watching the bounce house. Claire crawled in with two or three other little kids about her age and started doing her thing. Several minutes later, a pair of older boys crawled in. They were maybe 8 or 10 years old. Their size made me a little uneasy, but everything seemed fine as the older boys gave the littler kids some extra space. Even if I really wanted to, I had no good way of getting Claire out of there. The entryway was too small for me to climb in and grab Claire. Plus I had Muffin to keep track of. And have you ever tried talking a kid out of a bounce house? That must be like trying to talk a fish out of the water.

Then it happened. Claire fell down, as she had may times before in these bounce houses. But this time one of the big kids landed on her leg. Claire screamed and started crying. Everyone stopped bouncing. I pushed through to the entryway but again could not get in to rescue Claire, who was laying down grabbing her left knee and crying. The big kid looked confused and just said, “What happened?”

Claire dragged herself over to me at the entryway, crying. I picked her up and hugged her. I had completely forgotten about Muffin. Fortunately, Muffin is not the type of dog to run off. Plus a nice little girl had stepped on her leash to keep her from getting away. This was the only help I received from anyone during the whole ordeal at the park.

At this point, I did not know Claire’s tibia was broken. It turns out when you break a bone, it does not necessarily make an audible “crack” sound or any other obvious sign of breakage. I thought it was just a “normal” injury, as in “Ouch, someone bonked my leg!”, or worst case some sort of twist or sprain. After a few minutes, Claire has stopped crying, and I tried getting her to stand up so she could walk back with me. We had been through many seemingly similar situations over the years, and the standard drill I had worked out is to say sorry that hurt, now let’s move on and not wallow in it. But even though Claire had stopped crying, she would absolutely not put any weight on her left leg, and I ended up carrying her and walking Muffin back to the car.

One I got home, I called Kit to let her know what happened and to get her medical perspective. Claire was in decent spirits, but she would not walk. She was just happily watching TV while I talked to Kit. But Kit came home to check out the situation. Thinking it was still some sort of sprain, we put Claire to bed that night with one Tylenol to help ensure a good night’s sleep and waited to see how her leg was feeling in the morning.

Monday morning came, and she still would not put any weight on her leg. I took Claire to her regular pediatrician that morning. Claire was very excited about seeing the pediatrician because she usually gets a lollipop at the end of her visit. The pediatrician — much to my surprise — told me to take Claire to the emergency room! She said it was possible the leg or knee had a fracture or tear, and the ER would be able to do an x-ray and determine what was really wrong. We got back in the car, and Claire said, “Bummer.” I asked her if she was bummed about going to the hospital. She said no, it was not that. She was bummed because we forgot to get a lollipop from the pediatrician! Feeling guilty and knowing that we would be in for a long day at the ER, I got Claire a milkshake from the McDonald’s drive-through on the way to the hospital.

We went to the ER right by where Kit worked so she could come visit us and help provide some more seasoned medical perspective. Claire and I were very glad to see Kit. She made us both feel better from the shock of actually being in the ER, and she got to look at the x-rays to see what was really happening. After several hours of waiting, x-rays, more waiting, talking, taking calls from work, more exams, and more waiting, we left the hospital around 5:30 pm with a full-leg cast on Claire’s left-leg. Kit went back to the hospital to finish up her work late that night.

Amazingly, through this long day of boredom and uncertainty, without a nap or a regular meal, Claire stayed almost entirely calm. She had a few short moments of frustration and eagerness, but for the vast majority of the day, she showed amazing steadiness and maturity. At one point later that night, looking at our sweet little girl in a full leg cast, I started to tear up. Claire saw this and said, with genuine curiosity, “Why are you crying, Daddy? I’m not crying, and my leg is hurt. See?”

Not knowing if Claire could even put any weight on her leg, we were not going to just send her right to daycare the next morning. I had already missed a full day or work and canceled several meetings, with several more scheduled tomorrow. This ordeal was not only rearranging my own schedule, but some of my peers at work as well. So we called Kit’s parents late Monday night. They were on their way back to Texas from a long trip to the Northwest. They were in Kansas and said they could be in Dallas by 3 am so they could watch Claire on Tuesday. They snuck into the house undetected in the middle of the night and were ready to take over Claire duty in the morning. Their showing up on such short notice helped keep this difficult situation under control. My parents were unavailable because my dad was back in Houston recovering from a dislocated shoulder, which like Claire, he had suffered while out with me having “fun” (in this case working out) in uptown Dallas. I am bad luck, people.

Claire slept well, and when we woke her up the next morning, she saw her cast and said, “Can we take this off now?” That’s when Kit and I explained that the cast was going to help her leg heal, and she needed to leave it on until June or July to make sure her leg was okay. Claire listened paitently and accepted the news calmly. Until we got the new routine figured out and saw a specialist who would tell us exactly if and when Claire should walk around, we settled into a new routine which involved a lot of carrying Claire around and letting her watch a lot of TV, including her new obsession, Finding Nemo. I wonder if she will forever think of that movie as the “broken leg” movie.

That first day at home with Grammy, Claire scribbled a long note. She said it says, “Dear Mommy, thank you for coming to the emergency room with me and Daddy. And Daddy, thank you for loving us!” She and I really did appreciate having Doctor Mom with us at the emergency room.

Claire Turns 3!

Claire tacked on another year today. She is now exactly three feet tall and three years old. To tell you the truth, this was sort of a tough birthday. But Claire soldiered through it quite admirably and had a pretty good day.

Claire had been talking about this day for a long time. For months, she had been asking, “When is my birthday?” Unlike last year, this time she really had the drill down. She must have been inspired by all the birthday parties at school. She has been reminding us not to forget the balloons and party hats and birthday cake — especially the birthday cake! She had been specifying a “red cake!” for a few weeks, but in a surprising and provocative move, she switched to blue in final days before her party. Further, she clarified that she was talking about the frosting, and she did not have a preference on what the inside looked or tasted like, just as long as it was cake.

The grandparents all planned to come up for the big day. The Houston grandparents made the trip up for Thanksgiving and the birthday, although Claire and I had just been down to Houston the weekend before. Grammy and Granddaddy would not have missed it for anything… except one thing, which stepped in and kept them back in Corpus Christi. They had to arrange funeral services and legal matters for Kit’s Gramma Marvel, who had just passed. We will all miss Marvel.

This next part is sort of an aside. The afternoon before the birthday, Kit and I left Claire at home with Noni and headed out to get some mylar helium balloons for the party. Kit knew from Marvel’s 103rd birthday party a few weeks earlier that Claire loved playing with these shiny balloons. We arrived at Party City and went straight to the the balloon counter. There, surrounded by countless colorful inflated animals and cartoon characters, was a gloomy and cheerless lady who initially refused to even acknowledge our presence. When we tried to ask about getting some balloons, she sighed and rolled her eyes like we were really out of line. She explained with some exasperation that we needed to give her “at least a day’s notice” for any balloon orders, and the balloons would probably not be ready in time. How did this lady end up at the Party City balloon counter, of all places? Maybe was just burned out from the grueling world of party balloons, or maybe the local DMV office was not hiring. We decided towait until tomorrow and get whatever balloons they had at the nearby grocery store, where they presumably could to blow up whatever balloon you want right then and there (amazing, I know).

Then it was off to said grocery store to pick out a cake. I was prepared to get burned on this too. If Party City could not blow up some balloons in 24 hours, how could I expect someone to bake a special cake in that time? I had just recently given up on the idea of baking one at home, because that was going to take away time from other fun. Not surprisingly, the grocery had no blue cakes ready to go. But they did have a really cute”character cake” with the frosting done to look like a furry brown unnamed Sesame Street character. I asked the nice lady at the bakery if they could do that one in blue. She said no, but they could do a Cookie Monster, who always comes in blue, and they could have it ready first thing in the morning. Now that is more like it!

The next morning was the actual birthday. Today of all days, you would have expected Claire to wake up early and excited. She did wake up early, but not because she was excited. She woke up because she was uncomfortable. She was acting worn out and slightly irritable. We would find out a couple of days later, when the doctor’s office reopened after the Thanksgiving weekend, that Claire has been suffering from a tough case of pneumonia and an accompanying ear infection. On her birthday, it turns out that Claire was in bad shape, and was even in some pain.

Knowing this now, I am really proud of the way Claire handled herself. Though she certainly felt miserable, she managed to enjoy herself, especially as long as we kept her full of kid’s Tylenol. We had planned a zoo trip for the morning. With Claire sick and the weather cold, we made the trip pretty quick and took a monorail tour through the African section rather than walking around on foot too much. We dropped by the grocery store on the way home to get the Cookie Monster cake and pick out a balloon. We settled on a giant ladybug. Claire loved the balloon and played with it in the car and the all day. A week later, it was still afloat and still a favorite toy.

It took three of us to carry Noni’s and Phil’s present from their car. It was a huge dollhouse / treehouse, which took up a large part of the living room and was taller than Claire. She could not even reach the top with her hands! Only a picture can really describe this thing. Claire loved the present, but soon started to show signs of wearing out, so we skipped the other presents for the time being to avoid overwhelming her.

The pièce de résistance for the birthday was the lunch with cake, candles, more balloons, and of course the birthday song. Claire carefully picked out birthday hats, all with different colors and patterns, for everyone. (She would spend the next few days putting on each hat and pretending to be that person.) By this time she was getting exhausted. With her pneumonia, her appetite was down, and she barely touched her special birthday spaghetti. She managed, with some help, to blow out the candles on her special blue cake (and blow pneumonia germs all over it!). She could not quite eat her whole slice of cake, although still she did eat a lot of it. Birthday cake was probably the only thing in the world she would actually right then, so it was lucky we had it. Grammy and Granddaddy called in from Corpus Christi to wish Claire a happy birthday and to sing the birthday song to her. They would see her in person soon enough, just not today.

Claire spent the remainder of the day hanging around the house resting up, playing with her new tree house, and just cuddling with everyone. You could certainly do worse than that for a birthday, but still, I think we owe her an extra fun one next year!

Here is a short video montage of the birthday activities.

Second Birthday!

Today Claire doubled her age! I doubt she will ever do this again.

Claire’s second birthday started off with an omelet, which I managed to cook in our torn up kitchen, which is in the middle of being remodeled by Claire’s favorite handyman, Arvydas. I had to work my way through some construction rubbage just to get to the refrigerator and prepare the omelet with paper plates and a plastic spoon, finally cooking it on our one available pan. Among the construction rubbage, I discovered a 3-foot-long section of quarterround with several old nails sticking out at bent angles, laying in the corner. That probably qualifies as a child hazard, and arguably as a regulated weapon.

The first order of business today was, not coincidentally, Claire’s two-year checkup at the doctor. Claire was somewhat scared and suspicious from her previous experiences with ear infection and shots. During the ear prodding, she did some pretty good resisting and crying, and I had to hold her arms and head still. Then afterwards Claire collected herself and declared, “I’m okay” with a sheepish smile. Claire’s height and weight are both now very close to 50% percentile, down from her earlier slightly above normal numbers. Claire was again pretty freaked out, understandably, about being held down and poked with needles for her flu and hep-a vaccinations. She did her best to collect herself again, but it was the lolipop at the checkout line that really calmed her down and kept her quiet in the car all the way to see Grace and Reese.

Grace and Reese greeted her at the door singing “Happy Birthday”, which was a really nice surprise, and very sweet, especially considering that Grace does not speak much English. Reese had a present ready for Claire which he was really dying to “help” her open. Claire was still fully absorbed in her lolipop at that point and was not very interested in the present. So Reese ran off and did Claire the favor of opening the present for her. It turned out to be a new Thomas train; this one was girly and named Rosie, like Calliou’s sister. How nice! (Reese also thought so, and he “helped” Claire play with the new train all day.)

Apparently Claire and Reese each had another lolipop later in the day, and on the drive home Claire suggsted, “I want a lolipop for dinner. Lolipops are gooooood!” Coldly disregarding Claire’s dinner suggestion, we all went to out dinner at Moe’s for Claire’s favorite real food, quesadillas. She got a sticker and a little plastic guy there from Happy, the very friendly Moe’s guy, and she played a fun peekaboo game with a little girl about 5 years old.

Arriving at home, along with cards and phone messages from the grandparents who we had just seen a couple of days before, two new packages were waiting. They were from the Popes next door. They always remember Claire’s birthday because she was born exactly the day old Aubry Pope died, and they seem to be big fans of Claire. One present was a great big Winnie the Pooh “find it” book from Faye. The other was a beautiful doll in a glass display case. We went next door to thank them and have a nice visit. Well, Kit had a nice visit anyways. Claire spent most of the time wandering around their huge, smoky, maze-like house, and I spent most the time shadowing her to make sure she did not break something or fall down the stairs or just get lost. Claire really liked playing with the cat toys. It turns out the Popes hand-made the display case, and they explained that while Claire may be a little too young for the gifts, she could enjoy them in the years to come.

Finally we all split a birthday cupcake and put Claire to bed a little late. It seemed like a pretty nice day for Claire, even if she didn’t really understand what all the lolipops and cupcakes and presents were about. We actually ran out of time to give Claire the presents from us and some of the ones still waiting from her grandparents. So much fun, so little time!

Called in Sick

Just a quick note that this is the first time I have ever called Claire in sick for school. She had a minor head cold, and I figured we should drop her off with Grace rather than spread the germs. I think Claire picked up the cold when we took her to the doctor a few days ago. The funny thing is that Claire is liking school a lot, and probably would have preferred to go in if the choice were up to her.