10 December 2008

Winter Wonderland Snippets

It has snowed almost every day for the past week. It snowed on The Wombat's birthday and the next day for his party. The snowy days have also brought wind, though, and we haven't gotten outside as much as the boys would like. Last year I took The Monkey to school via sled on most snowy days. It's not as hard core as it sounds - we only live a few blocks away from the school, but it will make a good story when The Monkey is older..."When I was a little boy, my Mama used to take me to school on a sled."

This year I would have about 60 pounds of boys to pull and with the bitingly cold wind we haven't done it yet. The difference between "cold but tolerable" and "freezing our noses off" has a lot to do with the wind.

Despite the snow, wind, and terrible roads, we ventured out on Monday night to pick out our tree. I can tell we need to get the boys outside more because both of them immediately started complaining about being cold and wanted to go inside the tree lot trailer. We have been buying our trees from the same place since we moved back here. The local university's Forestry Club sells reasonably priced trees and the profits go back to the club. Friendly forestry students staff the tree lot and they The Scientist's favorite Frasier Fir. He usually wants a much bigger tree than I do - I'm partial to the skinny Charlie Brown trees and he wants the biggest one that will fit in the living room. This year I gave up my tree control, took the boys inside (where they were delighted to receive candy canes from the friendly forestry student studying ecosystems - I saw her book), and The Scientist picked out the tree by himself.

The tree fits nicely in our living room, although it's big enough that we have to put it in the center of one wall, blocking the fireplace (I was hoping for a skinny tree to stuff off to the side by a window). It turns out that even though you can't see the tree from the street in front of our house, you can see it from the alley in back through our kitchen window. I changed some of our decorations around to make room for some new things I bought during the after-Christmas sales last year and added my favorite beaded garland and sparkly silver candles to the sideboard in the dining room instead of the mantel (mantle? Why does neither word look correct?) in the living room. I think it's the first time I have put any decorations in the dining room except on the table.

We didn't have a Christmas tree last year. We spent Christmas in TX and didn't want to leave a tree up with the cats alone for a week (alone minus the cat sitter each day, that is). Plus, preparing two very small boys for a trip, finishing up a huge project at work, and my family holiday obligations here pretty much did us in as far as pre-holiday energy went. This year's tree is the first one either boy has decorated.

The Monkey and The Wombat helped me decorate the tree last night while The Scientist was at band practice. The Scientist and The Monkey hung the lights after dinner before The Scientist left. The Wombat enjoyed hanging the less-breakable ornaments on the lower branches. I also lifted each of them up to put some glass balls on higher branches. The Monkey appropriated one ornament he was supposed to put on the tree and put it on the doorknob of a cabinet in his bedroom instead. I told him he could hang the ornament "wherever he wanted" and he took me at my word. Even though I meant to hang it wherever he wanted on the tree, I checked my initial impulse to tell him no and to bring the ornament back. Was it breakable? No. Did I really care if it was in his room? No. So I got to be the "Yes Mama" for a night (well, for a few minutes at least) and tell him that it was OK if he kept the ornament in his room.

We never got around to turning on the Christmas carols last night. I asked The Scientist to do it before he left, but he forgot amidst putting away boxes of unused lights and getting out the door. Instead, The Monkey sang the holiday songs he's been learning in school - mostly old standbys like Jingle Bells, but they are brand new to him. The Wombat chimed in on a few words here and there (he can't quite keep up with the entire song, but usually gets the end of the phrases..."way," and "sleigh"). The Monkey loves to sing. He's not always on key and sometimes the tune wanders around a bit, but he makes up for it in enthusiasm. He is not at all self-conscious about singing by himself in public (despite refusing to participate in last year's school program) and when I take him to the grocery store he usually sings most of the time, alternating between You Are My Sunshine and Jingle Bells.

I try to remind myself to stop and take a minute to appreciate these moments. The Monkey already talks about when he will be a big kid, when he will be a teenager, when he can drive a car, when he will be a "big man" and a daddy. The weeks rush by, especially this time of year, and although I look forward to the boys growing up to become men, I know it will all go by faster than I want it to.

09 December 2008

After after and The Birthday Wombat

After all of the Thanksgiving sick-sick-sick it's taken me quite a while to get back into the swing of things, only to have The Wombat's 2nd birthday swoop in (and me to acquire a low-grade cold/sinus thing, which I'm trying to ignore).

[Side note: Between my family and The Scientist's family we have birthdays in October (1), November (2), December (2 - plus Christmas), January (4), February (0 - I cheated with this one, but there is Valentine's Day), March (2), April (2), and May (2). Almost all of these are birthdays we buy presents for. Is it any wonder we get to summer and feel totally broke?]

We had invited family & a few friends to The Wombat's party but several people couldn't come because of previous commitments. The party was the day after The Wombat's actual birthday and he had three different present-opening sessions, one at home the morning of his birthday (mini Autmoblox 3-pack from us, a harmonica from The Monkey, and a garbage truck toy from his cousins), one at my parents' house the afternoon of his birthday (light up sleepy turtle from the in-laws, a book, and a DVD to share with his brother), and at his party. Plus he brought cookies to school on Monday and was the birthday Line Leader, a coveted position for a younger brother.

This was definitely the first time The Wombat really understood presents and the concept of "birthday party" and that all this stuff was (mostly) for him. For days before the party he would talk about "Wombat's party" and who was coming. He got very into ripping off the paper from the presents and would study each gift once he unwrapped it, playing with it for a while and exploring it fully before moving on to the next one.

The from-a-can orange sweet rolls were a big hit for his birthday breakfast and the chocolate cupcakes (decorated to look like dirt in honor of his farm theme - yes, really, dirt) and Chocolate Blackout Cake (not served to the kids because of the cup of coffee in the recipe - will have to ask The Scientist, what happens to caffeine when baked) were a big hit at the party. The Wombat put the entire cupcake in his mouth.

We do birthdays pretty low key. There's usually lots of food (this year it was mac & cheese from scratch with really good cheese, Costco-bought soup, hot dogs for the kids, veggie tray, chips & guac, and the aforementioned cake, cupcakes, & optional icecream, plus kid and adult beverages - yes, I serve over 21's alcohol at my kids' parties), maybe one activity (putting stickers on paper was a big hit with the 3-and-unders at The Wombat's party), present opening, and hanging out. That's it. No pony rides. No bounce house (maybe someday). The party favors were that the kids got to each take home one of the toy tractors I used to decorate the cake. The "theme" is very loose, usually encompassing the invitations, cake decorations, and maybe a few other things (farm stickers & the giveaway tractors). This year we used napkins, plates, and bowls that I had left over from other events. The invitations were even recycled, left over from The Monkey's farm birthday (also his 2nd birthday - not really on purpose, they both just got really into farm stuff, animals, and Old MacDonald at the same age).

It sounds like I'm bragging on our thriftiness, and maybe I am, but I just keep thinking about how even with all the economizing (both for monetary and philosophical reasons), The Wombat got lots of presents that he loves and we had a great time. The $5 harmonica from his big brother was just as popular as the $35 rocket ship, which was his most expensive present. Would he have liked a $350 toy even more? Maybe for a little while (especially if it was one of those ride-on electric jeeps you see in the FAO Schwartz catalog) but in the long run it would probably get broken and for now, he loves his play-doh and stickers and doesn't know any different.

It often seems to take a lot less than we parents think it does to make our kids happy.

03 December 2008

Sick con't

So that was Wednesday. Thursday we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's house that we had to bring absolutely nothing to except ourselves. We even got to bring home a bunch of leftovers.

Friday I took the boys to ride a special holiday train with my parents while The Scientist stayed home to do some nagging house projects. The Wombat was still running a fever, but we figured it was the ear infection. He got worse throughout the day and Friday night/Saturday morning was up several times. I finally took his temperature at 4 in the morning when he felt burning hot to the touch. 104F. Fuck. Tylenol, Motrin 1/2 hour later, and he was still hot. His fever finally broke around 5:30 a.m. and he slept until 7:45 a.m. (which almost never happens).

I called the dr's office again around 9:30 Saturday morning and spoke to a nurse who asked a lot of questions. No fever, no ear pulling, no other mysterious symptoms so we were told the antibiotic had probably just taken a while to kick in and he didn't need to come in. Call back if anything changes. An hour later he was pulling on his ear and his fever spiked back up again. Called the dr's office for another appointment, called my parents to see if they could watch The Monkey so he didn't have to be dragged along (and also not get exposed to all the other sick kids in the dr's office on a Saturday), texted The Scientist who was at band practice to let him know what was going on, and got The Wombat ready to go. My mom came with me for moral support, which I desperately needed at that point.

We saw our 3rd pediatrician in 3 weeks and The Wombat's fever was up to 102.5 in the dr's office. His blood test was negative for mono and his white blood cell count was fine, so we were sent on our way with his 3rd antibiotic. This time I had it filled at the pharmacy next door. Side effects of this one: orange poop.

Sunday was more of the same - night waking Saturday night, lower grade fever throughout the day. The Wombat stayed home from daycare Monday and Tuesday (mostly on Tuesday because of antibiotic-related diarrhea) but slept better. Last night he slept straight through from 7:30 p.m. to 6:20 a.m. and I think we're finally all on the road to recovery. Just in time for Christmas, which last year involved pneumonia and strep. I am crossing my fingers that we will not have a similar experience this year.

01 December 2008


Thanksgiving was a blur of sick, sick, sick.

The Wombat had an ear infection a couple of weeks ago but never got entirely better. Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving his daycare called to say he was running a fever. I had thought he felt warm in the morning, but couldn't get a reading over 99 from the ear thermometer. Mama intuition said, "stay home from school" but Mama long-weekend-prep-instincts (and The Scientist's input) said, "Send him, he's fine." Nope.

The situation was complicated by the fact that we had dropped the cats off at the vet's in the morning for their annual visit and shots and that I had insisted we also drop off one of our cars at the dealer. The Scientist didn't think the car had anything wrong with it but I convinced him it wouldn't hurt to have it checked by using my mad skillz in logical argumentation - I think he was swayed because the car had acted weird for him (not shifting from reverse into drive properly), not just for me.

The Scientist had wanted to do some shopping so after all the scheduled drop-offs we had lunch together (rare!) in our old neighborhood across the street from our first apartment together and headed to the mall after. That was when we got The Call from daycare. Now we were down to one car, two drivers, and three places to be.

It was 1:10 when I called the dr's office to see if they could squeeze The Wombat in. They gave us a 1:30 appointment. I warned them we would be late, but they said to come in anyway. I dropped The Scientist off at the car dealership and he called my parents for a rescue (car hadn't even been looked at yet). I frantically drove to daycare to pick up The Wombat. The teachers woke him up from his nap right as I walked in and he was groggy and confused. I loaded him into the car, bribed him with leftover raisins and M&Ms from his lunch, and headed to the pediatrician's. We arrived at 1:40, within their 15-minutes-and-you're-cancelled policy. Amazing.

Unlike our last visit where we waited over an hour to be seen by the doctor (hint: never go to the pediatrician late on a Monday), we were seen almost immediately and The Wombat was diagnosed with an ear infection in the other ear and put on a stronger antibiotic. I had the prescription sent to our local Target so I could take advantage of my "fill a prescription and get at $10 gift card." What the heck, we already spend half our paychecks there anyway.

The Scientist and my mom met me and The Wombat at Target and The Scientist drove The Wombat home in our car to finish his nap while my mom and I waited for the prescription. Once we had the prescription filled (side effects - nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea - OH GREAT), my mom drove me to pick up the cats at the vet's. As soon as we got them home (yowling all the way, luckily it's a 5 minute drive), my mom drove The Scientist to the dealer to pick up our other car while I stayed home since The Wombat was sound asleep, reading the new Nora Roberts book my mom bought at Target and lent to me. Yes, I could have swept the floor or cleaned the kitchen, but I needed a break.

Car verdict: transmission fluid leak that could have lead to serious malfunction if left unfixed. Cost: FREE (still under warranty).

The Scientist got home with the car and informed me that the vet found a heart murmur in one of the cats and he (the cat) needed to be referred to a cardiologist.

To be continued...