Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What The Heck Happened?!


Maybe you were all wondering what was up since I haven't written anything in a week. Well...I knew as soon as I wrote that Just An Ordinary Day post last week that I was really setting myself up for something.


After Disneyland last Wednesday, we had a full next two days. On Thursday, we went to Huntington Beach to meet up for friends for lunch (Mexican...yum) and then went swimming all Thursday afternoon.


Friday, we went to the Aquarium and had a wonderful day- all of which I was going to write about on Friday night.

But then...


When we got home on Friday night, a letter was waiting for us. It was from the Department of Health. It said that Ginger had tested on the borderline for lead poisoning. We were shocked, horrified, and very scared.

Long story short, we moved into the new house in March. We had Ginger's well-baby visit in May, at which time they did the blood draw to test for lead. We didn't get the letter until this past Friday night (three months after the test) because they sent the letter to our old address, and it had to be forwarded on. Why it took three months to get the results...I don't know!

Anyhoo- at that point we began freaking out because the more we read about lead poisoning, the more we learned how awful and tragic it is. It causes permanent, irreversible brain-damage. It never goes out of your body. Once it has caused brain damage, there is nothing that can be done to reverse its effects.

When we had the initial test back in May, we'd been living in the new house for about two months. We didn't realize it until we started researching lead posioning, but a lot of older homes have lead paint...and ours was built before 1950 (which apparently is much worse than if it is built after 1950). No one ever told us about lead paint in the house (it was never disclosed to us). But now we realized that there was a very real possibility that the lead exposure could be coming from the house itself.

Since the initial test was three months ago, that meant that Ginger (and Paprika) had been exposed for three more months...breathing in lead dust, picking up particles onto their hands and then eating food afterwards. A baby or young child will often not show any symptoms of lead poisoning- it's the type of thing that doesn't show symptoms until a child reaches school age. You can imagine the nightmare scenario that began to unfold in our minds.


Bright and early on Saturday morning, we all went to the doctor's office (and then to the hosptial) to have our blood drawn (three vials a piece) to get tested for lead poisoning. Because it was a Saturday, it took forever. That, and no one wanted to draw Ginger or Paprika's blood...getting that much blood from a little baby and a four year old is not something that everyone knows how to do (or wants to do)! We probably should have gone to a pediatric hospital, but we just wanted to do what would be the fastest and get our results most quickly.

The funny part was that Paprika was totally unphased by the blood draw and thought it was kinda neat. Ginger did great- but mostly because I did the Jedi-trick of nursing her during the blood draw while covering her eyes, rocking her and singing to her all at the same time. The phlebotomist at first thought I was totally nuts for nursing Ginger during the procedure, but when Ginger didn't make a peep during the blood draw, I think she was convinced. ;-)


On Sunday morning, Paprika went to her friend's birthday party - Mr. Mustard took both girls, and I stayed home and packed up our stuff. Since Friday night, I had been unable to sleep at all, thinking about the possibility that lead dust or lead paint might be poisoning our girls. It made me absolutely sick to my stomach.

So, while they were at the birthday party, I packed up some things and by the time they got home from the party, the car was packed with enough stuff for us to go live with my mother-in-law, Pat, in Santa Barbara...indefinitely.


Mr. Mustard started working on the new season of DWTS on Monday, so he caravaned up to Santa Barbara with us on Sunday, helped us get set up (and brought an extra carload of stuff), and then went right back down to Los Angeles (a three-hour drive, each way).

Meanwhile, we just had to sit and wait for the new test results. I started researching everything having to do with lead poisoning...and now I can say that I know way more than I did a few days ago (when I knew nothing)! We started making plans to move out of our house, get rid of all of our furniture (due to lead dust contamination), and contingency plans for what we would do if one or both girls had high blood levels of lead.

In the meantime, I was totally distraught and accidentally locked my keys in the trunk of my car. And, wouldn't you know it, my car has a security feature that makes it impossible to unlock the trunk without the key (you can't pop the trunk without the key).

Since we couldn't go anywhere since my car key was locked in the trunk, I took the girls for lots and lots of rides in the wagon that they got for Christmas last year (but we didn't put together til yesterday!)


So, we waited and waited and waited for the test results to be sent back from Washington. And this afternoon, we got them.

The results? All four of us have very low levels of lead (wayyyy below the level of lead poisoning) in our blood. The first test was a mistake, a simple lab error. (We can be pretty sure it was the first test that was the mistake, since it was a fingerprick test, which has a high rate of error/false positives. Our second lab tests were venous blood draws, which have a very low rate of error...plus since we all tested low, that makes me feel even more assured).

Knowing what I know now, we will be testing the house for lead anyway and making sure that Ginger and Paprika's lead exposure continues to be minimal.

Whew!!! What a whirlwind. I was sooooo sick over it, I couldn't do anything except focus on taking care of the girls and dealing with the whole mess. It's like this giant cloud has been lifted.

So, now I am just waiting for an extra set of car keys to arrive via FedEx (Mr. Mustard Fed Ex'ed me his keys this morning). Once they get to Santa Barbara, we will be headed back to our lives in Los Angeles.


I am soooo glad and grateful that Ginger and Paprika don't have lead poisoning, and that we don't have to move, or get rid of all of our belongings, and a million other things. My current mood is: exceedingly grateful.

And now it's time for a good night's sleep. I haven't had a good night's sleep since before we got the first test results. So, I am really looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's A Small World!


The past two days have been jam-packed. Really.

On Wednesday, we went to The Happiest Place on Earth, aka Disneyland! Mr. Mustard had some highschool friends in town visiting, so we met up with them and their families. It was a big caravan of kids and adults...and made the trip extra special and fun!


I was worried that it would be crowded because it's still summer and Los Angeles schools haven't started yet (we're like a month behind the rest of the country). But, mercifully, the place was practically empty. Score!


Here is the one shot I got of the four of us. Notice how we are all out of focus? That's what happens when we hand off the camera! Ha! But even if we are all out of focus, I'm still glad that we all got in the picture... :-)


It was about a gazillion degrees. Our friends were so hot that they decided to leave around noon to let their kids nap in the hotel rooms, and wait out the heat til the evening.

Since we drove from our house, we didn't have a hotel room to go to (not that our kids would nap anyway- ha!)- so we just kept very hydrated, had a long air-conditioned lunch, and stuck to many of the indoor rides that were blissfully cool.

We also hit California Adventure while our friends were resting, since their tickets were only for Disneyland. We did the Monster's Inc. ride a bajillion times, and learned about drawing and animation at the Animation Building. Basically, if an attraction was air-conditioned, we were there!

Ginger spent the whole day with a cup of ice water in her hand. It was so hot (I know I already said that, but it really was).


Can you imagine how this guy must have felt?!!!


Because the parks were so empty, we got to ride a ton of rides. Ginger loved them all.


Her favorite by far was It's A Small World (we call it "the dolly ride"). Ginger loves dolls so much, and is such a little mommy to all of Paprika's dolls. She was so excited during the whole ride and was pointing, jumping around, and waving...it was awesome!

Riding It's A Small World:


Paprika's favorite ride was Autotopia! It was her first time on it. We have never been before because the line scares us...it's so long! We went after our friends came back into the park and re-joined back up with us. They hooked us up with a Fastpass, and we got right on! Paprika was still talking about it last night when she went to bed.

It was such an awesome day...any day at Disneyland really is. I am so glad that we get to have magical moments like this together as a family. It makes me The Happiest Mommy On Earth. ;-)


12 Years From Now...

12 years from now, this is what we have to look forward to! Haha. Pictures and the full story to come later...


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Surf's Up!


Today we were all set to go to the beach but decided to go hang out with some friends at the last minute. We met these friends through Paprika's preschool and we've become really good family friends with them this summer.

Their house is three blocks from the beach- a little beach bungalow that is sooo cute it looks like a houseboat. The dad stays home, the mom is on maternity leave, they have a little girl two weeks younger than Paprika, and a newborn little boy. So, the four of them are home all day...and the four of us are home all day (for now since Mr. Mustard is working odd hours this summer)- and so it's just this kind of surreal, laid-back thing where we're all around during the day.

The stay-at-home dad and Mr. Mustard have become good friends, and I don't want to burst his bubble when he finds out that Mr. Mustard usually works about a gazillion hours/week once he goes back to DWTS...so...basically this week is the last time he's gonna see him!

Bye bye summer. Hello reality!

I have been working on getting Ginger on a schedule...you know, for sleeping (oh yes, that). I think some structure would do us all some good. But then we have to be home all the time to enforce this sleeping schedule, and we don't get to go out and do all of our fun adventures.

After we'd spent some time at our friends' house, I decided that I would sneak away by myself and take Ginger for a walk up the beach and hope that she would fall asleep for a nap. But, of course, she didn't nap at all. Which meant she was sooo cranky and tired for the rest of the afternoon. But if I'd stayed home, I would have missed out on that walk on the beach with her.

Being spontaneous is one of life's greatest gifts...but on the other hand, a sleeping, well-rested baby is also a gift! ;-)

If I had to pick one, I'd say I'd rather go with the adventures and choose sleep later. When the sun is shining and the surf is up, who wants to stay home and have a nap? Well, I guess it depends on the day! Haha!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just An Ordinary Day


I have come to cherish the ordinary days. The days when the biggest item on the agenda is running to Trader Joe's to pick up a few things. Days like these really are a gift, you know?

I was talking to Mr. Mustard last night about something called "what if we'd never known the loss of our twins." You know, if they had never existed. We wouldn't know grief the way we do now. We were forever changed by them, and most of the time, I think we were changed for the better. Sometimes the mantle of grief is incalcuably heavy, and it's a lot to bear. Even now. And so sometimes I wish I could go back to that carefree innocence I once knew. But then I wouldn't have had them, and...well, I don't want that either.

And then I wonder, would these ordinary days feel so sweet without having experienced extraordinary loss?

I guess we will never know because we can only be where we are now because of what we have been through. Deep, right? ;-)


So, yes, today was one of those precious ordinary days. Just a day to hang out and make sandwiches, bake banana bread, and play in the backyard, and go down the slide again...


and again...


and again! (and maybe a few more times, too).


Paprika wanted to act out the story of The Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs over and over again. She was Goldilocks and the rest of us were the Three Bears...Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear.

When we were playing The Three Pigs, I got to be the Big Bad Wolf. That was a hoot. Somehow these fairy tales all have about four characters, which seems to work out for us.


Ginger wanted to pick all the lemons off the lemon tree- even the green ones. I let her do it. I know, I know. (They do grow back, right?)


We played in the backyard until the sun almost went down. Just like you would on an ordinary day.


I like you, ordinary day. Stick around. Put your pajamas on. Stay awhile.


Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.

-Mary Jean Iron


Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Over Creation


This weekend we really ventured all over the state of California. Well, at least the Southern half!


Saturday we made a day-trip up to Santa Barbara. Mr. Mustard's BFF, Ryan, had flown in from Chicago to visit his parents. They had an awesome backyard party. Lynn, Ryan's mom, is an amazing gardener and taught Paprika and me all about butterflies. We left with eight monarch caterpillars, lots of live milkweed, and a whole set up to start our own butterfly garden here at home. It was incredible!

Lynn also does a great "Lynnie-ride" and had fun whirling and twirling both Paprika and Ginger around in the backyard!


After the party, we swung by Mr. Mustard's mom's house in Santa Barbara, and hung out til way too late, talking with his mom, sister, and Ryan. Everyone had a great time. We decided to drive back that night because Mr. Mustard had to work in the morning. We got home around midnight, which for our little girls was really pushing it. ;-) But they were troopers.

After Mr. Mustard finished work today, we headed up to a fabulous birthday party hosted by our friends Devon and Rob. It was a Princess Party, so you know Paprika thought it was a blast. She was a little hestitant at first and wanted to go upstairs to get some quiet (she gets kind of overwhelmed by big crowds of people), but once I told her that there was a pinata...she rushed downstairs and was fine for the rest of the party. In fact, peeling her away at the end of the party was quite the task! Haha.

Ginger had a great time running all over the house, playing with the toys, and getting into everything. She was so upset when it was time to go home...but she fell asleep on the ride home and is now (for the moment anyway) slumbering peacefully in her crib. :-)

That pretty much sums up our weekend!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Islands and PBK


This morning, Ginger woke me up at 6:55 am, which to us is the crack of dawn. Mr. Mustard was just getting home from work (long night)...so he was just going to bed as I was wrangling Ginger.

Paprika woke up at 9, and I tried to keep the girls very quiet while Mr. Mustard slept. Easier said than done. ;-) I was feeling achy and awful- I am still trying to get over my cold I've been fighting. It was one of those mornings when I kinda, sorta wish we had a TV to entertain the kids.

We left our television at the house in Pasadena when we rented it out, and we decided not to get a new one. We never watched it anyway, and we didn't have cable...so it hasn't really been that big of a change. But this morning I was craving just "vegging"- if you know what I mean! No such luck. Haha.

So, we played in the backyard instead. Paprika gave me dance recital after dance recital. Ginger pushed her toy car, and tried to keep up with Paprika.


Mr. Mustard got up around 11am, and we were both so very hungry. I was still feeling pretty awful, and he was tired, and the kids were ready to get out of the house. So, we decided to go out to lunch.




We hit the mall, and had lunch at Islands- both girls were very entertained, and what do you know...they have TVs there (just playing surfing footage). Ginger kept looking at them like, "how can they be surfing up there?"

Ginger is still trying to figure out pictures...she loves looking at the front but always seems so surprised when she flips them over and they are just white on the back. I think she thinks that there's a real person there, and then gets so confused that the backside is just a blank piece of paper.


Anyhoo- after our lunch at Islands, we walked around the mall, played in the fountain, and then went to Pottery Barn Kids (PBK). We like to pretend that PBK is our own personal resort, our home away from home. We went back to the pretend girl bedroom, which has a gorgeous play kitchen, dollhouses, and lots of display toys.

Mr. Mustard and I laid down on the bed there and let the girls play (they were having the best time, and being so very good). It took everything in my power not to get under the covers and fall asleep. Eventually a sales person came back and said, "Is there anything I can help you with?" And all I really wanted to say was, "Yes! Can you get me a Pina Colada?"

But I didn't.




On Thursday, Paprika had a friend over for a few hours (it makes her sound so grown up to say that). They played in the kiddie pool in the backyard, and had a grand time painting. The easel painting ended up becoming finger painting...then body painting. Even Ginger got to join in and ended up with paint all over her, as well. (What can I say, it ended up being a three bath day).

One thing that I'm noticing: Paprika had so many beautiful baby clothes that I saved with such care to hand down to Ginger. And now, they are getting absolutely destroyed by Ginger. I guess I was able to manage the mess more when there was just Paprika, but now that we have a backyard and Ginger does everything Paprika does...it's just futile. Most of her clothes are stained, worn, and very loved at this point. Oh well, that's what I'd call a "good problem," right?

Happy Weekend! :-)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

1 Year Plus 2


My little bear turned 14 months old yesterday. Paprika has always been bunny rabbit, and now we have Ginger, our little bear.

My little bear is now running, not crawling at all anymore. She thinks she can talk and we understand her (well, really we do understand her but probably no one else does!) She says the first syllable of words and looks at you like, "Don't you get it? I said Bath!" - when really she just said, "Baaaa!"

Her voice used to be so loud, it was as if there was the high decible switch and the off switch and nothing in-between. Now she can talk softly, loudly, and everything in between.


She loves to try new things, and has no fear whatsoever about new foods, new experiences, nada. As long as her mama or daddy is with her, she is good to go. The only thing she really doesn't like is when new people come up to her and talk close to her face. She's not a fan of that at all!

She also clings to me (still) for dear life whenever someone else tries to hold her. If I leave the room, she's fine. But if I'm near her and not holding her? That's not okay in her book.


Like I said yesterday, she is now taking multiple baths per day. Usually two...mid-day and before bed. It is a must! She finds a way to cover herself with food at every meal. And if it's not food, then it's dirt from playing outside...and a lot of it!


She can stand up for herself really well. Her favorite things to do are to play with Paprika's toys, pull Paprika's hair (we're working on this), and run away during bath time.

She loves playing peek-a-boo in her closet door, and blowing kisses, and clapping, hi-fives, and giving kisses. She understands most of what we say. Like the other day I asked her to go get a bowl for me and bring it over, and she did. She will put away toys when asked, and her clothes, too (in the dresser drawer). So, even though there aren't a million words being spoken by her (yet), I know she's understanding what we're saying.

She is amazing with her spatial-temporal reasoning, and she understands how things fit, how she can fit into things, and how to maneuver through the world in an efficient, novel way. I don't know if that's the best way to say it, but really, she amazes me with her ability to maneuver and to problem solve. There's a lot going on upstairs in her head...

Most importantly, Ginger laughs easily and a lot. She is fun to be around (unless she's tired...in which case she's not so much fun- but we're working on that!) She wants nothing more than to be held, held, held. She is still every bit the cuddle bear, and I am enjoying that more than I can even express. She is such a JOY and I don't know how I ever got so lucky to be her mama.