Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Pre-Christmas Plague

Unfortunately, the first three weeks of the Christmas season were a haze of changing sheets and scrubbing carpets in the middle of the night and tending to sick kids all day.  I was going to write a post with the stats of this illness the kids had but I didn't have the energy to figure that out.  I washed the sheets so many times that I ran out of laundry detergent (which never happens here).  I ran out of carpet cleaner and but they still look like they need some professional help.  My hands were raw from washing them and scrubbing things.  I didn't make dinner for two weeks unless it was pasta or a frozen pizza and I didn't go to the grocery store unless it was for Vitamin Water or popsicles or bananas.

I'm so glad it's over.  It was a little bit of a roller coaster.  At first I didn't think Casey was going to get it or at least she got a milder version.  Then she's throwing up all night.  As soon as I thought Jack was better and sent him to school, he was throwing up again and soiling his sheets in the middle of the night.  I still cringe when he tells me his belly feels funny even though I'm sure it's from the massive amounts of food I'm feeding him.  He lost a little weight but I think he's more than making up for it this week.  He's finally eating like I heard boys eat!

We missed a lot of things in the last few weeks - school field trips and birthday parties and holiday parties and church practice.  But now everyone is doing well and we're getting really excited for Christmas!  I'm so glad I got most of my shopping done early or was able to buy online.  We're counting down the days (we have 4 countdown calendars) and I think I might get through this without being too frantic about the things I have left to do.  The silver lining of spending so much time at home is that I got to sit down and watch a lot of Christmas shows with the kids and that was kind of fun and brought back good memories.  The kids are really into Christmas specials now!

Despite being pretty sick kids, the highlight of each morning was coming downstairs to open their Lego Advent calendar.  Each day they pull open a box and there is a Lego figure or car or spaceship they can build.  Jack has a Lego Star Wars calendar and Casey's is a Lego City calendar.  Jack is already excited about next year.

Here are a few pictures of the first day...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Present

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went out to dinner with Pat's parents before they left town.  We went to Pat and the kids' favorite restaurant which attached to the mall.  We go there quite often and then we usually stop by the pet store after dinne to look at all the animals.  This time, Nana took the kids into the dollar store as well.  Casey desperately needed some pencils I think.  And then I guess they decided to do a little Christmas shopping.  Both Jack and Casey came out of the store with a bag and a Christmas present they picked out for me.

The first thing Jack wanted to do on Sunday as we were starting our Christmas decorating was to wrap his present.  I got all the wrapping paper out for him, tape and scissors and told him to have at it.  After a little bit of time he asked if he could use some tissue paper instead because he decided it would be easier to put it in a bag.  

After it was in there, I asked if he had labeled it.  He got a piece of paper and wrote out his from and to lines.  Then he asked me if that was a sentence.  I told him it was just a label and he wanted to know what a label was.  There was a wine bottle nearby so I tried to explain it with a wine label.  I think he was satisfied because he was quiet for a little longer.

Then he showed me his bag and he was very proud of it, even if he isn't smiling in the picture:

He wanted to make sure it had a sentence, so he wrote "You wil like it."  And I believe I shall because that is the cutest tag on a present ever and I already like it!  Although I'm pretty curious about what's in the bag but that will have to wait a few more days.  21 actually, according to our 4 countdown calendars.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Decorating

On Sunday, we started our Christmas decorating.  Pat pulled all the boxes out of the attic and brought them downstairs.  The kids pulled everything out of the boxes, set them on whatever surface they could find and left the boxes strewn around.  I attempted to make our fake Christmas tree presentable by using zip ties to hold branches in place.  Casey and Jack asked when they could decorate the tree and where the ornaments were about 45 times.  We strung the garland and then it was finally time to decorate!

Actually it was a pretty fun afternoon.  I liked that I could let them pull everything out of boxes and not worry about them breaking things (too much.)  I loved their excitement.  I loved watching them find all their ornaments and remembering when they got them.  I love how quickly they decorate a tree.  I even love their clumps of ornaments on the tree.

The afternoon's pictures:

Casey never shies from an opportunity to pose.

 Jack waits patiently so he can put the first present under the tree.

Casey helps Daddy under the tree.  He's turning it to hide the bad spots.  Yes, our fake tree has bad spots.

More smiling and posing.

Pulling all the ornaments out and "staging" them for tree decorating.

Casey's clump of special ornaments.

Casey's favorite Cinderella ornament that's lost its wheels from rough handling over the past two years.  She kept asking who broke it and denied that she would have done that when we told her she did it.

Jack hanging an ornament.

Jack's turn to put the angel on the tree.

Jack as a human crane.

Almost there.

Casey makes sure the angel looks good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Casey's Turkey Party

Today was Casey's Thanksgiving party at school today and Jack's was last Friday.  I thought it was nice that they were on different days so I wouldn't have to run back and forth between their parties.  Unfortunately, Jack didn't feel well today so he didn't go to school and I couldn't make it to Casey's party.  I made a turkey though...a fruit turkey.  It looked mostly like this:

Minus the peppers and most of the cheese. It turns out the cheese wants to fall apart when I try to put it on skewers. I also didn't like that you slide the cheese on and then the next set of grapes has to slide through the bits of leftover cheese on the stick. So I made a few with cheese and the rest were just grapes. I should have taken a picture, but you can trust that she was an impressive bird. I scattered the rest of the cheese around the bottom.

When I picked Casey up from school, the cheese was all gone and most of the feathers were still there. I guess it was more of a decorative turkey. Although as I was making it, I questioned whether it was wise to give 3 year olds pointed sticks as part of their snack.  I decided an adult could just de-skewer if necessary.

Also while I was making it, Jack was hanging out in the living room and piped up with, "Casey, would love that Mommy!"  I thought he was impressed with my fruit turkey making skills.  It turns out he was watching a commercial with a 3 story princess dollhouse for the Barbie sized princesses.  It's exactly the castle that Pat thought should would love but I may have called it gaudy.  It was too plastic-y and purple and pink and fake looking for me.  Luckily we've found a compromise castle that maintains the princess part and tones it down a little.

Anyway, back to the party...or the after party...

Casey came home with a couple baggies with the food that I guess she didn't eat, including a turkey sandwich, pumpkin bread and a pumpkin/cream cheese roll. When I asked what she did eat, she said, "A grape. And some jello." A lovely Thanksgiving feast.  I'm sure Squanto wishes he'd had Jello at the first Thanksgiving.

Instead of stories tonight, Casey wanted to draw pictures on her erasable sketch pad. She asked me to draw a cornucopia which was pretty funny coming from a three year old. When I asked her to draw a turkey, she started drawing and chatting to herself - "Here's an eye. Here's another eye. This is a grape. This is a piece of cheese.'s a turkey! Oh, wait, it needs a wattle." I think she's got her turkey nomenclature a little confused. But hey, she knows what a wattle and a cornucopia are.

Casey is also very excited about the real turkey tomorrow. I just hope she doesn't think it will have grapes on it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Daddy Date Night

Last week, Casey went out on a date with Daddy to see the Broadway Production of Beauty and the Beast.  Pat called her during the day and told her that if she took a nap, he would take her out on a date.  I've never seen her run upstairs and hop into bed so fast!

She was so excited to go out on her date and she had a great time with Daddy.  Apparently they were a  little early for the show so they went through the car wash.  It was one of the highlights of her evening.  Other things that she was excited about were the M&Ms she got at intermission and the very special "bottled water."  She also liked the show :)

Jack and I also got to do something a little special...we went over to our neighbors house to watch a new movie she had gotten for her birthday.  Jack was also enamored with the bottle of water he received.  We rarely have bottled water from the store around here so I guess it's a big treat to my kids.

Here are a few pictures from the night...I think you can see how excited Casey was just by looking at her.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The End of an Era

Yesterday we took this poster down in Jack's room.  It's kind of a sad day for me...the end of the Elmo era.  Elmo has been living on Jack's closet door since we moved into this house 3 years ago but he's been around for longer than that.

It's been coming for a while.  Jack no longer wants to sleep with his super big Elmo that he got when he was 1 1/2.  He doesn't even want to play with him.  Earlier in the year he gave Casey his very first Elmo, his baby Elmo that he slept with on and off since he was born.  

The first video that Jack ever watched was an Elmo video.  I had never seen Elmo's World before but I remember after he watched the 3 episodes from his video over and over, I finally realized that they were all the same format.

We had tickets to Elmo Live and it was scheduled very close to my due date.  Just two tickets...I figured only Jack and Daddy would go.  I thought I was going into labor on Friday night, the day before the show.  I think I willed Casey to stay inside until Jack could get to his Elmo show.  I so wanted him to be able to go see Elmo.  It was his first show and he had a great time with his Daddy.  And then he got to meet his new sister the next day. 

Elmo was the first Halloween costume that Jack got to help pick out.

But yesterday we took down the Elmo poster and replaced it with a Star Wars poster.  I think the only hold-over is that sometimes Jack still talks like Elmo, in the 3rd person.  It used to bother me, but now it will probably be a little bittersweet as I remember how much we used to live in Elmo's World and now we don't.

So goodbye Elmo.  Thanks for the great memories!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soccer Season

Jack's first soccer season has come and gone and I didn't document it very well.  I think even the poor quality of the pictures I took is evident of my lack of excitement about it all.  Jack, on the other hand, had a great time.  

Jack loved putting on his shin pads and his cleats.  I can't tell you how many times I had to tie his soccer shoes so he could go out back and practice or how many nights he waited for Daddy to get home to practice with him.  Casey would run out and be the cheerleader.  

He also loved his team practice before the game...especially when they got to play "Kick the Coach."  He loved the games.  He ran around and had a great time.  He spent most of the first game getting comfortable and then the second game he figured it out and scored his first goal.  He is pretty good at figuring out where the ball is going to be and trying to get there, although when there is a gaggle of kids all chasing the ball, it's not all that predictable.  

We missed one game a couple weeks ago when we went to Ocean City for the weekend.  We had planned to go to his game and then get on the road.  The forecast was for rain so they moved the game indoors and it wasn't until 11am.  I told Jack his game was cancelled and that we would just go to Ocean City after breakfast.  This caused Jack a little concern. 

"What about the gym Mommy?  I thought they would have it in the gym if it was raining.  Remember when we had it in the gym that time?  I wonder if there is something wrong with the gym.  Maybe there's a leak in the gym and the rain is getting in there.  Mommy, do you think there's a leak in the gym?  Is that why we're not playing the game?  They'll have to get some workers to fix the roof.  I wonder if there's another gym we can go to."

Okay, okay, okay!  I had to tell the poor boy the truth and tell him that his game was in fact scheduled for the gym and that it was just too late for us to go to his game and Ocean City.  I didn't want him having nightmares about the poor gym and it's leaking roof.

Our last game was last week and Jack scored two goals.  He was very excited about it and did a great job in the game.  The kids all got medals at the end of the game.  Jack was sad to see it end but as I mentioned recently, he's already moved on to roller blading and hockey!  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A New Hockey Friend

Now that Jack has mastered his bike, I guess it's time to move on to something new!  Pat bought him roller blades on Sunday and he is doing pretty well with them.

A few weeks ago, Jack started playing street hockey with C, the boy next door.  He is 8 and just started in a hockey program at the local ice rink not too long ago.  One day he saw Jack out with his net and hockey stick and they have been playing street hockey since then.  C upped the ante last week though when he came out in roller blades.  I think Jack started asking for them after that, but it's also possible that Pat may have been the one to suggest it to Jack.

Jack calls C his "hockey best friend."  I heard him saying that across the cul-de-sac last week when they were trying to divide up into teams when there was a group of kids out that day.  Jack said, "I'm going to be on C's team because he's my hockey best friend."  He doesn't quite get that the two kids who play a lot of hockey probably should be on separate teams to make it even!

It's been cute to watch Jack's friendship blossom with C.  C came over last week to tell us when his next hockey game was in case we could get to it.  Then at church C came out in the aisle to wave to us, or Jack really.  After practice for the Christmas program, Jack walked out with C and then told me, "C and I were talking about when we're going to play hockey next."  It sounded so grown up - Jack was making plans with someone and I wasn't needed.

This weekend, I let Jack go out in the cul-de-sac by himself and play with C all afternoon.  I kept an eye on them out the window.  They played hockey and then moved on to baseball and then Jack came in to get the pool noodle lightsabers and they had a pretty epic battle out there.  This is exactly the kind of neighborhood relationships I hoped my kids would make some day.  I want them to be able to be outside playing with all the other kids.

Jack now spends his afternoons asking me when C will be home so they can play hockey.  Today the poor kid waited 5 hours.  He was in his roller blades the whole time.  Occasionally he would skate around a little bit or play with Casey.  But mostly he sat on the curb, waiting.  Then C had to do his homework when he got home and finally...finally, he came out to play.  The sad part is after all that waiting they only  had about 30 minutes before it got dark.  I think they made the most of it though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tugger Update

Did I mention that Tugger only has three legs now?  Actually, I know I haven't, but I've been thinking about this post for a while.  Then I would remember that I don't have any good pictures of her and I would put it off.  But today I got some nice pictures of her on a beautiful fall day.

About a year ago, Tugger started limping one weekend when Pat's brother was visiting.  It was only for a weekend and we thought she got a little too excited and hurt herself.  Then her limp came back and her "knee" joint on her left front leg started to look swollen.  We visited with our veterinarian every two weeks for a while and finally took an x-ray.  He recommended we visit an orthopedic surgeon and gave us two to check out.

We went to one surgeon and decided he wasn't the one for us.  The other surgeon was further away but we finally visited him.  He was pretty sure it was a localized cancer and that about the only solution would be to remove the leg.  I was pretty shocked by hadn't really crossed my mind that she was going to lose the leg.  I thought he would be able to just remove the tumor but it was eating into the bone and there was no way to take just the tumor.

So, we scheduled the surgery and Tugger officially became a tripod in March.  From the time of our initial visit to the vet until the surgery, Tugger's ability to use the leg had become less and less.  She was basically hopping around without using it and it was obvious she was in pain if she had to use the leg.

Intently watching the neighbor take down Halloween decorations
The first week post surgery was a little more difficult than I expected.  We were trying to keep her quiet and keep her from licking the incision site and fluid was still seeping out of the site.  It seemed like it would take forever to heal.  Tugger didn't really have any problems getting around but every time she moved she would start leaking fluid.  She spent most of the time in the crate and we spent a lot of time saying, "No licking, Tugger."  Luckily she couldn't reach all of the incision and would just lick around the edge of it a bit.  I tried getting her a cone but when she had it on, she was too active in trying to get it off and she wouldn't settle down.  It was easier for her to just stay in her crate and she didn't lick much while she was in there.

After two weeks, the incision was healed and Tugger was getting around fine! She had her energy back and was ready to get out for some walks.  It is amazing how well she got around with her three legs. Even after only two weeks, if you saw her from her good side, you wouldn't even know she was missing a leg.

8 months after the surgery, Tugger and I now go for runs together, she has been swimming and she has most of her endurance back from before she started to get sick.  Sometimes people will stare at us and I will wonder what they are looking at until I remember that I have a dog with three legs.  Other times people will see Tugger and not even notice she's missing a leg until some time has passed and then they'll do a double-take.

I took the picture above not too long after her surgery.  I thought it was kind of strangely funny that it looked like she also lost her head.  But she didn''s just under the bed.

Tugger has only escaped the house without a leash one time since she got sick.  She ran around for a minute and then she actually came right back to me.  Phew!  Hopefully this means there will be no more chases around the neighborhood or calls to animal control.  Although it made for an entertaining story, I'd prefer not to do it again.  On the other hand, she has gotten so sneaky about trying to get food off the counter.  I have to make sure that I have things up on the high portion of the counter or shoved all the way into a corner where she can't reach!  She gets right up on her back legs with her front paw on the counter to see what she can get.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Pictures with Mommy

Preschool Halloween parties, pumpkin carving and a huge bag of candy equals a pretty successful Halloween.  Honestly, I can't believe the amount of candy the kids collected.  Pat still thinks he's the one trick or treating and I think he was looking for maximum candy acquisition.  Either that or he likes to think of this as a little protest against all the healthy food I try to make them eat or conversations about food in which I say, "Can you even pronounce all those ingredients?"  

I also wanted a nice picture with my Tinker Bell and Darth Vader.  These pictures are in chronological order.  As you can see, I had a little bit of a moment because Jack would not stop moving around and being silly.  I told him he was not going anywhere until he stood still for a picture.  Then I smiled again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Candy Bargain

I suspect that after tomorrow night, I won't hear a conversation like this.  I trust that Jack will have plenty of his own candy.

Casey had some candy that Jack wanted a couple days ago and I heard him say, "Casey...Did you know candy gives you sugar bugs?  All that candy is going to give you a lot of sugar bugs.  Sugar bugs make your teeth rot.  You don't want your teeth to rot, do you?  Do you want to give that piece to me so you don't get the sugar bugs?  Isn't that a good idea?"

Someone has his dad's persuasive side!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Watching Videos in the Car

Ever since we've gotten our minivan, videos have been playing in the DVD player wherever we go.  At times it has seemed a little ridiculous.  I remember a Manic Mommies episode that I listened to where the Manic Mommies thought it was a bit much to have it on for the 5 minute ride to school.  I agree.  I think I heard that episode before I had the DVD system built into my car but even now I still agree.  And I still have it on for the 5 minute drive to school.

I've always justified having it on by saying that my kids don't really watch that much tv at home and a little bit in the car will be fine.  We usually get our videos at the library and the kids like to pick out new ones every week or two.

I've read blogs or books or articles about the how the car is a good time to talk to your kids because you have their undivided attention.  That's probably true.  When Jack gets in the car and there is a video on, he puts the headphones on and you've lost him.  But since I'm not working and get to spend all day with my kids I don't really need their attention in the car.

In the past I've tried turning the video player off as a punishment.  I thought maybe that if they got punished enough, it would wean them off the videos.  But usually it was just one child who was in trouble and then I got cries of, "It's not fair!"  I also didn't really use this punishment enough for any weaning to occur.  Then I would forget my powerful punishment tool for awhile because I don't really have the need to discipline them a lot in the car anyway.

A few weeks ago, Pat mentioned that he is always impressed that the channel is never changed from what we left it on the night before.  Meaning we haven't watched any shows (downstairs) all day.  (Or we watched something that was DVRed and didn't need to change the channel...but let's just say we didn't turn the tv on.  Because we really don't turn it on that much.)  Pat also thought that maybe we didn't need to have the DVD player running in the car all the time.  I told him I agreed but that I didn't think it was contributing to too much tv and I wasn't ready for the war that might start if we started turning it off.

Recently though, the DVD player isn't the star player's on the bench, playing second string.  It will be Jack's turn and he'll say he doesn't want anything right then.  So it will be off for a few days and then he'll finally ask for something and it will go back on.  On one of these days when it was off, we were driving around somewhere with the whole family in the van.  At one point, Jack was talking to me, Casey was talking to me and Pat was trying to have a conversation with me.  I was going crazy and I wasn't even driving.  I said, "This is the reason I have the DVD player on all the time!"

Once upon a time when I was in the Navy and standing watch, I used to have headphones on with different people in each ear and people standing behind me talking to me and I could listen to it all and comprehend it and then respond to all those people.  But when two of those people are saying, "Mommy...mommy, mommy...mommy!, mommy!" or whining or crying or repeating themselves it gets to me a little.

So the real reason I don't mind having the DVD player running is because the car is my quiet time!  I buckle everyone in, tune the radio to what I want to hear (I'm an AM radio dork usually), pay attention to the road and where I'm going and get there without any stress.  The kids watch a few minutes of a show and we're all happy when we get to our destination.  Maybe I could even say the DVD player is a  safety mechanism...the less I'm trying to arbitrate bickering and answering the same question over and over, the more I'm concentrating on driving.  So's a safety device.  Sort of.  But really, I just enjoy my quiet time!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Casey's Official Big Girl Moment

She's three years old and can ride her bike without training wheels.  She's potty trained.  She's going to school.  I think those all pretty much qualify her as a big girl.  But whenever anyone looks at her and says, "You're getting so big Casey!" she tells them, "I got a new carseat!"  Besides a few pairs of her shoes, I don't think she's ever been as enthusiastic about something.

It's a booster seat with a high back (that can be removed some day) and you could say it's Casey's prized possession.  A couple weeks ago when Pat put her in the car seat he deemed her too big for it and said she needed a new one.  Casey didn't need any convincing so we headed out to the store to get one.
She's very happy to have a little more freedom of movement with the shoulder belt instead of the five point harness.  She was unbuckling the top of the old one anyway.  She's also happy with the cupholders on both sides which recede into the base if she's not using them.  And the best part is that she can unbuckle herself when it's time to get out although we've had a few discussions about her not pushing the eject button too early.  

I think Casey has mentioned it to at least 15 people that she got a new friends, neighbors, teachers at school.  The old carseats have been relegated to the attic for now although they'll eventually be purged before we move again.  It's a big change from the first three months of her life when it was more likely than not that she was going to cry for the duration of the carride!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Carving

I found an app last week from Parents Magazine for pumpkin carving.  I tried it out by myself one night and "carved" a few pumpkins and then when Pat was out of town on Saturday I let the kids play with it.  They love the virtual pumpkin carving and keep asking to do it over and over again.  We've replaced our song time, which has really turned into YouTube time, with pumpkin carving.  Jack's goal is always make the scariest pumpkins he can.  Casey just enjoys playing with the iPad like she's been doing it for years.  She's so funny when she scrolls around and picks out her pumpkin parts.

This is my kind of mess to clean up, no rotting pumpkins on the front porch, no sharp knives and no kids wandering away after 5 minutes leaving the parents to carve.  I know a lot of people love the family pumpkin carving tradition, but so far I could do without it.  I don't mind letting Pat be the lead pumpkin carver.

With this app, you can pick the color of your pumpkin and then whether you want to freehand carve or pick from the various jack-o-lantern parts that are available.  The last thing to do is to pick a background.  It's funny hearing Casey say, "And now I need to pick a background."

Here are some of Jack's creations:

I just realized that they're practically the same pumpkin.  Jack really likes that mouth and nose.  They must be the scariest.  And they both feel the need to put hair on the tops of their pumpkins.  In the first one it's hand carved and the next ones have a mouth that we turned into hair.

Here are some of Casey's creations:

I kind of like the homely one at the end.  Or should I say hole-y one.