Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011: Pictorial retrospective

Full throttle parenting over Christmas with 2 toddler boys, neither of whom are capable of moderating tantrums or their urinary/bowel systems, has taken away all my ability to construct sentences with both subjects and predicates in any meaningful way, so please enjoy a smattering of poorly framed and composed pictures over the past week. Of all times to get my photojournalism on...I failed miserably! (In part I blame my father-in-law; when anyone with a much nicer camera and mad photo skills is around, I tend to keep our own camera hibernating.)

My propensity for verbal gymnastics and hysterics will resume in 2012, which is bound to be an awesome year...I've already signed a contract with the universe on that one.

The boys waiting for Santa to give them their presents at school

Our Christmas Company! Grandma and Opa!
Christmas 2011: working the local park circuit

Even Opa gets in on the fun...

Christmas eve--putting out the reindeer food (and I HAD to steal a kiss from the cutest almost 2 year old reindeer)

Did Mom just hear Rudolph in the sky? Quick! Get in bed!
Mom, you're silly...that was just a plane from PDK airport.
And, the food: starting with the yummiest bruschetta that will make an encore on New Year's.
Crusted tilapia, pasta in garlic sauce, and baked broccoli with garlic, olive oil and lemon.
For dessert below, I would have taken a picture of the Boston cream pie cupcakes...but they found a new home too fast.
Leaving Santa our homemade almond thumbprint cookies
Guess who had to taste test them first?

Medieval kings and queens had Thomas trains, right??

And what better way to end the holiday break than with $1 cones from IKEA. Rumor had it that these 2 hoodlums were going to move in with each other and share a bunk bed set from IKEA, but Felix's continued night wakings (even after the surgery), resulted in us walking out with cheap dairy treats and organizing bins.

A brief Christmas gift breakdown to follow...stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Myringotomy

Although our Christmas decorations have been boxed back up, the handful of pictures we took over the holidays are still hibernating on my camera, so the obligatory Christmas 2011 recap will have to wait. But I do have a few phone pictures to tide you over...

Back story:

By far the most expensive gift of 2011 was Felix's (repeat) myringotomy with ear tube insertion. Right after Christmas we shuttled our almost 2 year old over to Children's for some yuletide ear tubes. Epic "ear behavior" combined with premature terrible twos has provided some trying times over at our house, so when the ENT scheduler said they could get him in right after Christmas, my response was "SOLD!"

The previous tubes fell out after about a year (apparently that is pretty typical), and Felix has been saddled with terrible ear infections over the later half of the fall and into the winter. The deterioration of his hearing in his left ear, coupled with night after night of wakings and wailings and resistance to any and all antibiotics had us all feeling comfortable with the decision to move forward with the surgery. The good thing is that my abs and thigh muscles have never looked better (total for that elusive silver lining) from doing the stand/walk/rock Felix for hours every night for a few weeks, and now after the surgery we are on rocking detox. (Santa forgot to leave us our toddler who we could put in his crib awake and go to sleep before 8:15pm.)

Honestly, this second surgery experience just as seamless, if not easier than the first. Our surgeon, like last time, ran ahead of schedule (Dr Hermann at Pediatric ENT is uh-mazing bee tee dubs) and got Felix in 10 minutes earlier than we anticipated. That may not seem like a lot, but it is when you are wrangling a toddler who hasn't eaten for over 12 hours and has been at the hospital for 2 hours. Luckily, Felix was far easier to redirect and occupy this time around in the tiny pre-op room thanks to his being able to, say, WALK, and get absorbed in Eric's iPad (thank you technology).

We didn't deal with having to refuse middle of the night nursings the night before surgery like we did at 9 months old, and praise yahweh...this child yet again woke up so peacefully after anesthesia, I think we made all of the post-op nurses' day. (They repeatedly warn you that your baby will go from sleeping to screaming in 2.5 seconds...and in all honesty, the post-op ear tube ward almost sounds like a torture chamber. Babies and toddlers are screaming bloody murder, and you can see them thrashing in their parents' arms. I almost sympathy cried and felt like vomiting at one point in anticipation of Felix being wheeled down the hallway screaming.)

I know, I know...the picture below pulls at the heartstrings and I totally made a number of my family members creeped out when I texted it to them, but I wanted photo evidence of him being, well, STILL. And this is the second time we've ever seen him sleep on his back (first time was surgery #1).
Low and behold, Felix had fluid build up in both ears, with both old and new infection in the left side along with a delightful blood clot blocking all sorts of middle ear accoutrements.  Poor little guy.

After sleeping beauty got up, the nurses gave him some apple juice, Goldfish crackers, and we all walked out as Felix said "Merry Chris-mus!" to everyone. That kid can charm the pants off of a never nude. (Tobias? Arrested Development, anyone?)

Rumor has it, for Eric's and my birthday, Felix has wheeled and dealed with the anatomy gods and promised to verticalize (completely made up word) his Eustachian tube.


If we can only shake the damn torticollis.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Merry!

Thanks to my children's daycare for supplying us with all of the handmade holiday decorations. Outside of the tree and one strand of LED lights, Miles and Felix can take the credit for pretty much all of our home's holiday cheer.

My favorite "installation" below... with a little guidance from his childcare director, I'd say Miles is ready for breaking some child labor laws!

Faithful self induced blogging "time out" has concluded!

Brief family status updates:
  • Felix's ears have potentially cleared--but we are getting our 2nd set of ear tubes on the 27th. Merry-Birthday Felix! It's a two-for: Christmas and Birthday gift. Consider the right one to celebrate Jesus (isn't there something about the JC sitting on the right hand of the Fr?), and the left a 2nd b-day gift. You're welcome.
  • Ali is officially on PTO and has challenged herself not to check work e-mail more than once a day. Instead, she is obsessing about the 3 lines on her forehead that don't disappear after she lowers her eyebrows. 
  • Miles is not fully potty trained, yet. Post forthcoming. I wrote Santa for Miles to learn to poop in the potty, but I have a sense he's getting me gelt and a mattress pad.
  • Eric's beard mysteriously grew back on his face much to Ali's chagrin. But he can record another "all clear" oncology appointment!
  • The in-laws are descending for the holidays! Huzzah! Which means one of my child needs to start teething. Right on queue, Felix is slowly starting with his 2 year old molars.
Off to blare Vince Guaraldi and make krid-mas cookies!

Merry, Merry everyone! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RAK: December 2011

In the midst of living in a sleepless sick ward this month, I am still committed to fulfilling my 2011 Q4 random acts of kindness (RAK). December is tough because it seems the general global theme is giving (although it's coated in a thick glaze of mass consumption here in the U-S of A).

There is an advantage to having a colicky almost 2 year old (who, Merry Christmas, is getting tube surgery again on the 27th!)...I get a lot of time to craft in bed. Some people eat, other people get the luxury of sleeping...but I craft and drink peppermint tea in bed.

The pit of eternal crafting chaos (another moniker for Michael's) always awards you with a 40% off one item coupon with your receipts (and their smart phone app has them all the time, too), so I tend to make repeated trips to buy 1 skein of yarn. I've collected quite a stash to knit the 5 1/3 projects I can do, so I knew that December needed a knitted RAK.

And I had to attempt the snood again...

I used a different color, but same weight and type, and paid a little more attention to my seed stitching integrity. Okay, there *may* be a section that has some cable knitting in it...but that K1P1 is really easy to turn into K1K1P1K1P1...(3 of you may understand that.)
I decided to send this to my friend BP up in PA. I've mentioned her before--she's an friend from my childhood who now runs a really awesome Etsy shop called Bog Berry Handicraft. Over the past few years, we have reconnected, and have had some great conversations. She is one of those people I would just love to live next door to me and we could wax poetic about wool, wine, elderberry syrup...and then maybe throw back a few and reminisce. It just seemed like a natural fit to send this one off to B. Hope you enjoy! (and thanks for everything...)

But it doesn't end there, bed is sprinkled with fabric remnants as I just finished another Moda honey bun Christmas wreath! (And I'm working on another for my office's dirty Santa party, too!) This has yet to be gifted, but will end up in the hands of a very special someone who has been and always will be our chosen extended family...she's been there for us through many a crisis, and is, hands down, partly responsible for the grooming and nurturing of my children. A silly fabric adornment pales in comparison  to the acts of kindness she has bestowed on our family, but it's a start! (AND, Miles helped me with the cutting and folding for a few nights in preparation for assembly!)

Finally, I wanted to do something kind that didn't cost any money, didn't require me to venture into Michael's and could really incorporate the boys. Well, it ended up meeting all of those requirements, save the boys. Felix has been too busy demonstrating what "ear behavior" is, and was more interested in throwing himself on the ground than in participating...

We are slowly firming up our own holiday traditions over at our household. I was contemplating doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, that much like the concept of NASCAR, I only became aware of in my adult life. Not like NASCAR, I was intrigued, and even considering buying the Elf and story...and then I retreated. Listen, I applaud all of the cute Elf stories and strategic placements each night--but the whole idea seems to be steeped in stress if you ask me. We have a hard enough time motivating to make our boys' lunches every night, that hiding a toy each night seems quite laborious. Additionally, we have 2 really great advent calendars that we open at lightning speed to get out of the door a little after 7:30am each morning. And I'm not going to lie...I blame the creep factor...the idea of a toy watching you to assess your behavior seems a little creep-tastic to me. Miles already told me he doesn't want Santa coming down our chimney. Crazy looking fat guy, who sports a scary beard, dressed in a red suite tipped in tons of polyster white "fur" breaking and entering the home via a chimney that just screams claustrophobia--yeah, I don't know about that either!

So I admit it. I am not going to do the Elf tradition primarily because it's too much stress for me. I think my kids will be okay (and also, I do want them to know that they need to have good behavior all throughout the year...not because they are entitled to mountains of toys on Christmas if Jo Jo reports it such to Santa.)

But I do want to have some tradition and things to look forward to. I read about a great idea where you put a fragment of wrapping paper in your child's stocking...under the tree, presents are wrapped and assigned based on wrapping paper pattern. Fun, eh? I think we'll be doing it this year!

Another tradition I started this year was to drive around and look at the holiday lights. We have about 2 strands of LED lights inside our house, and I'm never going to purchase an inflatable train or snow globe, no matter how much Miles and Felix we'll appreciate other's gaudy taste.

I realized, unless it is a house that is dripping in lights (and power bills) and cars line up to slowly do drive bys, neighbors never know if their displays are appreciated. I told Miles we were going to write little cards that say how much we like people's lights, and drop them off in their mailboxes.

Simple Pimple. I used note cards I already had...let Miles cut wrapping paper to paste on scraps...and let Felix play with markers in between bouts of dramatic crying rolls on the group to add a little abstract art.

And then we got in the car, and I let Miles pick out the houses with his favorite lights. We popped the cards in the mailboxes, and kept our fingers crossed that the next day the unexpected home owners got a little extra holiday happiness added to their day.

2011 has been a really great year...slightly less frenetic and scary than 2010. Although I will probably not do planned RAKs for 2012, I hope to continue to be confronted with opportunities to do random acts of kindness throughout the year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Time in

Quick update cuz I know you are chomping at the bit:

Double ear infection confirmed today.(Poor kid has bloody discharge too!)

ENT on Wednesday...I'm guessing we will be scheduling tube reinsertion.

And I learned a new term: "ear behavior" ( ie, when you are convinced your darling baby or child has become possessed by the devil during an ear infection.)

I also learned that 4 days without sleep for an almost 2 year old resembles many an inebriated college student. Duh-leer-ee-um...and lots of crooked stumbling. Just no walks of shame.

And sorry to the organizers of the handful of social engagements I have had to cancel this week...if only I could cancel work as easily without repercussion.

okay...time out again.

Time out!

I have ~4 posts drafted in my head right now. Good ones, too.
But I'm calling "Time Out."

This past week as tried my patience as a working mother. Felix has been struggling more than he ever has in the past with an ear infection and hideous cough. (As an update, he lost both of his ear tubes and is apparently resistant to all strains of antibiotics.) Since Thursday night, he has not slept more than a 3 hour stretch. And when he does get up, he swan dives out of our arms and throws a tantrum...

...or throws himself out of the crib as he did for the first time last week. (I lost about 5 years of my life that night.)

Friday morning, I got an early morning oatmeal back scrub from Miles (ie, he puked down my back--and wouldn't you know it. Eric was NOWHERE in site. It was the first morning in my months I got Miles up by myself. Figures. I told Eric he probably thinks I have Munchausen by proxy because whenever Miles gets  vomit-y sick, I'm on the receiving end--literally--and Eric saunters in from some oblivious parenting abyss like, "huh? did something happen? I didn't hear him get sick" as I'm dripping in up chuck.)

I had an ungodly amount of work to be done on Friday, so I used the free babysitting provided by PBS and put on my cloak of Mommy guilt and had my lethargic, sick son on the bed next to me while I worked on my work computer...

...until Felix came home with a fever. Two sick boys and a full day of work. Awesome.

This weekend, Felix's cold/infection hit fever pitch (no pun intended). Not sure Eric, myself, or Felix have slept in total a full night's sleep since late last week. We've been to weekend urgent care (completely unhelpful on call pediatrician), elevated the crib mattress (actually have since September), given teaspoons of honey, lots of fluids, humidifier, extra chia seeds, doses of elderberry juice, prayer, and even some good ole fashion bargaining with the sickness gods. And we are militant about our kids washing hands; whenever the step in the door from outside, they take off shoes and got straight to he sink. 

Today, Felix has been up crying and pitching a fit since 4am--this is after waking 4 times earlier in the night-- and currently is getting a tour of Christmas lights with Eric in the car. 

We've had a really good spell of avoiding sickness and general "suckiness." (Made up inappropriate word. I won't claim to be articulate until I get a series of 6 hour stretches of sleep.) And right before we turned into an infirmary, I kept hearing about lots of my friends' little ones dealing with colds, ear infections, croup, pneumonia, bronchitis...and thought "Man, we've been so lucky to avoid all of this!"


I've *tried* to refrain from complaining to others (outside of my best friend CD, my Mom, and our boys' childcare director), but I'm making a pubic plea to the universe right now for mercy. 

And I kinda want to vent, m'kay? 

This is the disadvantage to having a public journal--I become transparent in all of my feelings and emotions. But maybe it makes me more accountable. And certainly more flawed = human.

I would reserve the completely unattractive whining for Eric, but this AM as I found myself dissolving in tears as I couldn't even hold Felix he was so hysterical, which just made me hysterical (and I wouldn't put him in the crib to cool off b/c last time I did that, he tried to commit crib suicide and for 24 hours I was afraid he had a brain bleed), Eric yelled--or said firmly, but it felt like yelling-- "pull it together! Stop feeling sorry for yourself. We are all tired, but we need to focus on Felix."


But he's kinda right. 

Like all things, this is temporary (pretty please?). And after I publish this completely sleep deprived post, I need to focus on things like getting my children healthy. And how I can DROP KICK my work so that I don't have insane guilt about not being able to be the model employee. And letting go of things like responding to every e-mail, color coding my closet, posting on the blog, and generally anything that takes me away from cuddling and loving on my children. Because that is where my heart is, and that's where my focus needs to be. 

Believe it or not, being a stay at home Mom has never seemed more appealing.  

I am hoping my hiatus is a short one--for the most part because it will mean we are all on the mend. 

In the meantime, go do something nice for someone not telling me how much sleep you got last night.

Now, onto healing...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dip n Flip

The Flannery Brothers (awesome children's musicians) are wrapping up a brand new song about putting on your coat. It’s called “The Dip N’ Flip,”  and they would love to put YOU (or your kids, parents, grandparents, dog, goldfish, etc) in the video performing the jacket flip trick!

Go here to find out more details. 

We attempted to do it one night with our new winter jackets from Mahna. I even put on my fav-o-rito Flannery Brother's tune, "Tambourine" on to get in the spirit.

Bee tee for their "Pirate or Parrot?" video on YouTube. My boys have watched it over and over.

Dark night + poor filming skills+generally uncooperative toddlers = mediocre submission.

(And it's not like I've bribed them 8 ga-gillion times since this video to recreate it under better luck.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Ooh La La La"

If you thought your mind didn't have room for yet another catchy "Krid-mas" tune, I'm about to prove you wrong...

Bias alert! My insanely talented children's musician of a brother (and sister-in-law) just threw together a Christmas tune with his iPhone and iMovie. I mean, I can do that kind of musical wizardry in my sleep...can't you? (Forgot to mention it's opposite day.)

I think he did this in that secret 25th hour of the day my friend Amy discovered, too.

"Ooh La La La!"

I bet your bottom dollar you'll be singing this on the commute to work.

I kinda want one of those Edward R. Murrow microphones with the flat kitchen colander in front of it...

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kinsey Kristmas

 Running toward the tractor with the boys' best school friend

I've sung the praises of Kinsey Family Farm during pumpkin season, and now I share the same sentiments during the holidays. Best tree experience. Hands down. I mean, how can you argue with roasting marshmallows and tractor rides, and running through a barn full of 13 foot Christmas trees ($300 to boot) with your best friend from school?

There is nothing like a real, smelly fir tree in the house...losing needles like Eric and I are losing hair (oh, wait, Eric's forehead is just growing.)

Our little gal is only a five footer, but once decorated and topped with a stuffed monkey, I imagine she'll bring us a month of holiday cheer...and lots of vacuuming.

Thank you, Kinsey, you gave us a great day of memories with friends, sticky lips, and the perfect tree. 

 The day was made even better when Miles's best friend showed up!
 Miles found a Christmas bush! Too bad it's not for sale.

 Looking for catfish.
 Never underestimate the power of a perfectly toasted 'mallow.

Man, I love the holidays.