Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Meanwhile, she's also developed a urinary track infection, which we're treating with an antibiotic. And if that's not enough, the vet found glucose in her urine, which means she likely has feline diabetes.
If it's possible to have a bright note to this story, it's this: If Maddie is, in fact, on her ninth life, she is making the most of it! All the treats and table scraps we've been denying her for years because of her weight – she is enjoying them now in abundance. She still tends to hide in the basement when the kids are awake. But in the morning before they're awake, she is constantly under my feet, especially when I'm in the kitchen.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Enjoying the beach while Daddy played with his metal detector.
Marching with the band during a free outdoor concert. The kids had so much fun, and the setting (sunset, with Lake Huron in the background) was awesome!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This "Playhut" is temporarily filling a huge portion of our living room. It will hopefully move to its permanent home in the basement later today, once we pick up some more foam flooring tiles to put underneath it. When Grandma Elouise described the dimensions, I knew it was going to be long, but somehow didn't grasp how wide it was.
Sydney pretty much lived in it for about a half hour yesterday. AJ, meanwhile, likes the accompanying golf club best of all. Why? Because it's like a sword, of course.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We celebrated Christmas a night early, rather than haul all the presents to other houses to be opened. (Does that make it Christmas Eve Eve?)
The unwrapping was amazingly orderly, with AJ wanting to stop each time to play with the newest toy. Sydney, meanwhile, seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all. It took a couple of presents before she finally figured out how - with help - to rip the paper. With a flourish, she'd tear a strip and then hold it high in the air, exclaiming, "Ta dah!"
You wouldn't know it from the above photo, but we cleaned the living room right before we pulled out the presents. I love the fact that all the "kids" in the picture, including Maggie, are engrossed in their favorite new toys. AJ is playing with little knights and pirates. Sydney has cups and a doll's bottle. And Maggie is destroying her new squeaky toy. By morning, there was fiberfill everywhere!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I love this picture. Sydney pulled her favorite little chair up to the coffee table, then set up her "computer". Someday, if she decides to pursue a career that puts her behind a desk, we'll have to share this photo of her first "office".
A note about her headwear. Sydney has decided she likes cashmere. In particular, she likes Mommy's pink cashmere hat. During a recent venture outdoors, I couldn't find her hat, and so let her wear one of mine. Now she doesn't want to take it off. Even after we found her hat, she still wants this one.
This little girl better hope her desk job is a high-paying one, because she's already developing expensive tastes.
Monday, December 22, 2008
As we walked into the sanctuary Sunday, AJ looked around for the pastor and asked, "Where's the boss?"
Several people around us snickered, prompting AJ to protest, "The boss isn't funny. Only clowns are funny."
With a few minutes to go until church started, I decided to check out the nursery. I didn't think either of the kids would stay there without me, but amazingly, both quickly started playing with toys, so out the door I went.
Jeff and I actually got to pay attention to about 30 seconds of the service. And then we heard Sydney's wail. We turned to look and there was the lady from the nursery trying to juggle a squirmy Sydney under one arm, and her own baby in the other.
And so the service progressed, with Sydney now glued to me. As the children's sermon began, I felt a small twinge of guilt that AJ wasn't able to go up for it. Then, a little later, just as communion began, AJ suddenly appeared, carrying some of the toy dishes from the nursery. "I brought you some tea, Mom," he announced. He never really made it into the pew, before turning and dashing, "I have to go back." And then, a minute later, he was back again with more toy cups.
We kept AJ with us after that, and soon headed up front for communion. AJ kneeled quietly as the pastor blessed him, which was a relief because he's starting to question why he doesn't get "juice" like Mommy and Daddy do. And then it was our turn to go back to our seats. But wait! AJ, who had missed his chance to talk to "the boss" during the children's sermon, wasn't going to pass up this moment with him.
"I have to tell him something!" He insisted.
The pastor leaned over the railing. "What's that?"
AJ began telling him about the presents under his Christmas tree, and that Santa was bringing him knights and dinosaurs. AJ may have said more, but I didn't hear. Grateful that I was in charge of carrying Sydney, I abandoned Jeff to try and drag AJ away from the pastor, who was clearly amused by the unexpected conversation.
Mercifully, the service at last ended. It would have been nice to simply shake hands with each pastor and leave the church in an uneventful manner. But no. Pastor Tom kneeled down to AJ's level, "So you had more to tell me..."
Dear God, will it never end?
AJ this time decided to launch into the gory details of the "sharks and sea creatures" book he's been eyeing at Barnes and Noble, telling about his new favorite underwater monsters, the sea snake and sawfish, which is shown in the book slicing through a young man's leg. By this point, both pastors were laughing and assuring us how delightful this is.
Sure. Easy for them to say.
One positive note : AJ pointed to the stained glass window that depicts a nativity scene, announcing, "Look, there's baby Jesus." So we're making progress on that point.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Finally, on Friday, conditions created "The Perfect Storm". Temperatures climbed into the mid-teens and the winds died down on Mommy's day off. So outside we went to play!
Sydney, we quickly learned, does not like boots. She doesn't want to walk in them, and if she trips, she can't get back up. She's fine with the snowsuit, and is more than happy to be pulled around in the sled. Just don't expect her to do anything else.
AJ, meanwhile, had a blast sledding down the hill at the end of the driveway. It's not a very steep hill, but the snowbank created by plowing, makes it a little better. This is the first year he's been big enough to zip down the hill on his own. Of course, that also means he now has to trek back up on his own.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
So I decided to try using props to make the story more real. I bought a small nativity set. As AJ pulled the pieces from the box, he noted the sheep and a cow. He then asked, "Is there a bear?"
"No, I don't think there were any bears in Bethlehem," I answered.
He next grabbed the three wise men and used them to start a wrestling match.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"These are the bad guys." He exclaimed.
I'm not going to give up. Meanwhile, I've found someone who's absolutely fascinated by the little people.
Ask her where's the baby, the sheep, the angel, the mommy, etc. She's knows them all!
'Tis the season of miracles. We'll get AJ to come around.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I'm not sure if his fascination is due to the sound the machine makes, the knowledge that he's destroying something, or maybe just the name "Shredder", which also happens to be the name of a bad guy in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Whatever the reason, AJ loves to send paper through the teeth of death.
It gets a little annoying at times when I'm busy with something and he comes asking for more paper to shred. (Note to judges: I do stay with him when he's using the shredder and watch to make sure he's being careful, to prevent any fingers/clothes from getting caught) But when you've got a messy stack of old, unneeded statements piling up on and falling off of the counter, and a husband who's very paranoid about identity theft, AJ's love of shredding really creates a win-win situation.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
There is one thing I'm curious about, however. These are the same picky felines who yowl and even push the water dish around the kitchen if it's not filled to an acceptable level, or if perhaps the water temperature has dropped to room temperature. And yet, despite these high standards, they LOVE to push aside the tree skirt and drink the scummy water at the base of the tree.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Another blessing came late this evening - in the form of a pickup truck with a plow on the front. Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors. Cory was able to clear our driveway in about two minutes, something that I bet would have taken us an hour with the snowblower. Meanwhile, our neighbor on the other side called earlier in the day to make sure Jeff had made it home safely from Ripley. Otherwise, she was all set to send her husband over to help plow. There's nothing like 9-inches of snow (as of 6 p.m.) to remind me of what awesome neighbors we have.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I think I'm mostly over whatever bug made me miserable yesterday. Unfortunately, it seems to have moved on to Sydney. She threw up a little after 4 this morning. She then slept until 8:30, and woke up wanting to eat. The fact that she has any kind of apetite is hopefully a good sign that the worst is past for her now, too.
The only problem for AJ, meanwhile, is he's getting too smart for his own good. Sitting on the couch watching cartoons this morning, he asked me for a hug, which of course I was happy to give. After a few seconds, he pulled away, announcing, "That's enough. I don't want your germs."
A little while later, as I was reading the paper, I could see Maggie on the back step. I asked AJ to let her inside.
AJ responded by wrapping his arms around his mid-section and saying, "I can't. My tummy's starting to hurt."
I was concerned until a few minutes later - after I'd already gotten up to get Maggie - when he started bouncing around with a character on a cartoon. I said, "I thought you didn't feel good."
He responded, "I'm better now."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
She wasn't too excited by the pancakes or the sausage, but she was thrilled with the toppings. We'd poured syrup on the side of her plate to use as "dip" - something that usually works to get her to eat pancakes. But on this day, all she wanted to do was dip her fingers in the syrup and then lick them off. That is, until she discovered the butter packet. Yum!
Butter and syrup... the breakfast of champions.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
AJ made me very proud on Saturday. While at the mall to get his glasses fixed, we let the kids climb on one of the coin-operated rides. As the kids were playing, I could hear in the distance the ringing of a Salvation Army bell. I've always tried to give a little at each bucket I pass, and so I thought it would be a good idea to teach AJ to do the same.
As his ride came to a stop, I handed him two quarters and suggested he "go give them to the lady ringing the bell."
You should have seen the look on his face. He was standing in a coin-operated ride, with coins that could make the ride go again. And I was asking him give the quarters to someone else! (I hadn't thought about how tempting the timing would be for him, but in retrospect, it was a fabulous lesson.)
"Why, Mommy?" he asked me.
"Because when you put money in the red bucket, it goes to someone who doesn't have as many nice things as we have. There are kids out there whose mommies and daddies don't have enough money to give them good food or buy them nice presents. This money will help those kids so they can have presents, too."
That explanation clearly satisfied him. Nodding, AJ announced, "Okay!" and hopped down from the ride, then walked over to drop the money in the kettle.
A little later, shopping at a different store, we encountered another bell ringer. AJ noticed him first, grabbed my hand and said, "Mommy, we didn't give him money!"
Reaching into my pocket, I found a dollar, which he happily slipped into the slot.
I have a feeling this could get expensive. But if it encourages a lifetime of compassion and generosity to the less fortunate, then I'd say it's money very well spent.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I suppose I should be grateful that she's coming home with green hair at age 17 months rather than at 17 years.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Alas, it was not to be. We apparently packed in a few too many activities on Saturday. By the time we stopped for the tree, our two little elves were off to the place where visions of sugarplums could dance in their heads.
One funny note about buying the tree. For the last couple years, we've gotten our tree from a place just a few blocks from our church. This year, the guy who normally helps us was busy with another customer, so his wife came out to help. She wasn't able to help lift the tree onto the Explorer, so Jeff did it himself. As he was tying it down, the husband finally was freed up to help us. He looked at what Jeff had done, which apparently was not too aerodynamic, and said, "How far do you have to go? I normally try to tie the tree in the opposite direction."
We told him we lived less than two miles away, to which he replied, "Well then, you should be okay. At least you'll be able to get rid of all the dead needles that way."
That's looking on the bright side! I'm happy to report that we, and the tree, made it home safely.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The local school hosted a pancake breakfast with Santa. While waiting in line for pancakes, I realized that one of the lenses was missing from AJ's glasses. We searched the cafeteria and retraced our steps in the hallway. We left our name and number in case the lens turned up. On the way out, we looked in the parking lot and in the car. Nothing.
Luckily, we did find the lens at last - at home on the headboard of AJ's bed. That means Mommy and Daddy hadn't noticed the missing lens for over two hours, including when I put his patch on his glasses and took it off, which means I was holding the glasses in my hands.
So the good news is - the glasses have been fixed. We also finally bought a "back up" pair, something we've been talking about doing for two months, since the last time he broke a pair.
Back to the photo opp with Santa. AJ was quite excited to see jolly old St. Nick. Sydney, however, shook her head when she got close. As long as Daddy was holding her, she agreed to get this close:
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
A million thoughts flashed through my mind in roughly a split second. But none of them involved a fear that this was poisonous.
AJ's toy snake has been missing for months. How exciting that I was able to find it for him! Between lifting cushions and actually moving the entire couch, I didn't find the missing book, but I did discover all sorts of other treasures: 14 cents, four combs, two "hair pretties", a spoon, a fork, two toy mice (one of which Maddie proudly brought to us - howling - at 5 a.m. How nice!), a plastic spider, three other books, a small knight, about a half dozen legos, the camera's lens cap and enough animal fur to form a small pet. I am pretty excited about finding the lens cap. It's been missing for weeks.
And the missing library book? I finally found it about two hours later. It was in a bag of toys inside AJ's closet. Of course! I can't imagine why I didn't think to look there first.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
AJ, who was either trying to help, or perhaps has already figured out how to mess with his little sister, pulled out a small tote bag from the toy box and offered it to her. There was no way she could carry five things at once, so instead she started walking laps of sort. She'd carry a couple items from the fireplace to the couch, where she'd find some of the other items with handless. She'd switch up her loot a little, then walk back to the fireplace, to switch up again.
This kid's ready to go places. Just so long as her luggage has handles.
Of course I couldn't stop there. I do, after all, have way too many stamping/scrapbooking supplies that have been gathering dust in the last year. So I added decorations for "special" days. For instance, I know AJ will have two opportunities to see Santa before Christmas. So I stamped a Santa hat and stuck it on those days' links on the chain. Just for fun, I stamped candy canes and treats on a couple of days, so he can have an extra treat on those days, like the reindeer cookie he's happy to show off in this photo.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
While shopping over the weekend, she picked out the pink sweatsuit she's wearing (under the pink coat) in this photo. She gave me a decisive "noooooo" when I showed her an outfit I wanted to buy for her, then lunged at the pink one on the next rack, excitedly clapping her hands when I pulled it down for her to hold. At another store, when I picked up the pink hat that you see her wearing, she squealed with delight. She'd wear the hat all day if we let her.
Yet, she's not all frills and fluff. That glass in her hands is covered with superheroes. It's a reject from AJ (the holes in the top are too small, so milk comes out too slowly) so she quickly claimed it for herself.
Monday, December 1, 2008
'Cause we need a little Christmas, right this very minute...
Sunday, November 30, 2008
So let me begin by saying, I don't even like pecan pie. But Jeff and my Dad do, so every year I make one for Thanksgiving dinner. And every year I learn a little more about how to perfect the pie that I don't eat. For instance, I learned early on to let the syrup mixture cool before mixing it in with the eggs, otherwise, the eggs scramble. This year, I tried wrapping tinfoil strips around the rim of the crust to keep it from burning.
Using pecans that were hand-picked by Jeff's Dad in Texas, this pie had potential to be the best one ever. Until I tried putting it in the oven while not wearing oven mitts. As I slid the pie in, my finger touched the shelf. Not long enough to burn myself, just long enough for me to over react and fling my hand away, bumping the pie, which was still pushed only half way into the oven.
As if in slow motion, the pie started to tip. I tried to save it, but could grab only a strip of the stupid tinfoil. Thick, gooey, sticky maple syrup poured out onto the oven door, and through the hinged opening at the bottom. It then cascaded down my cupboard doors, before pooling onto the floor, which of course I had just finished washing about 30 minutes earlier. The eggs - you know, the ones I didn't mix in until after the syrup mixture had cooled - scrambled on the hot oven door. Of course the pecans also were part of this delightfully messy mixture, working their way into the hinged opening, which is where Jeff was trying to pluck them from in the above photo.
I salvaged the pie crust, but other than that had to start over. Luckily, Bill had sent us lots of pecans. Unfortunately, I'd used the last of the maple syrup in the first failed attempt. So the second version uses regular Aunt Jemima.
And no, it's not a coincidence that I waited until after the pie had been consumed to mention this "little spill".
Saturday, November 29, 2008
While snuggling at bedtime on Thursday, his Thanksgiving meal barely digested, AJ had clearly drawn the conclusion that it was now okay to look foward to the next holiday. He announced, "This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"
This being his fourth Christmas, I realize he has so many to which he can compare it. But I have to agree. With the kids at the ages they are, I think it's going to be my favorite Christmas to date, as well.
Friday, November 28, 2008
When it came time to feed her, I scooped up a cup of dogfood, then asked Sydney if she'd like to give it to Maggie. Sydney was more than happy to help, so I handed her the cup and off she trotted. A few seconds later, I heard the sound of the food being poured into the bowl, so I turned my attention to other things.
And then I heard the sound of more food being poured in Maggie's bowl. I should have known. We'd recently filled the dogfood bin, which meant food was close enough to the top for Sydney to reach it. She'd reverted back to that old routine of picking up the food with her hand, placing it in the cup, and then dumping the cup into the bowl, all the while calling out, "Ma-gee! Ma-gee!"
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
What am I thankful for this year?
I could just let this picture speak a thousand words.
But I need to say more than that. Between work and some freelance writing projects, I've spent the last week somewhat immersed in the world of non-profits. And so after visits to places like Goodwill and the CHUM foodshelf/emergency shelter, I've been reminded of just how blessed I am.
I am thankful to have two happy children who are mentally and physically healthy. I am thankful that I can give them the food they need and put them to bed in a warm, safe house. I am thankful for my wonderful husband, my best friend, who loves me as much as I love him, and who helps me create a loving atmosphere in our home. I am thankful for our parents and family who taught us the important values and love of Christ that we are now doing our best to pass on to our kids. Likewise, I'm thankful to have been instilled with a work ethic, love of learning, understanding of money and sense of service. I am thankful for my "Mommy" friends: the ones who are at a similar point in life as I am so that our kids can have such fun together (while we have fun, too), and the ones who are a few years ahead, who inspire me with stories of their children's success.
Oh yes, and I am thankful that my kids let me sleep until 8:30 this morning. Life is good!
Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this and are among those I'm so thankful to have in my life.
I'm a few days late in marking Sydney's latest verbal accomplishments. At 17 months, she's added a whole bunch of new words to her vocabulary. Unfortunately, only a few of them are understandable. Among the ones I can make out:
- Mine! (of course, she had to learn that one)
- Mow (mouse)
- Mook (milk)
- Uh oh!
I wrote an article earlier this week about early literacy. One of the statistics I learned is that reading to your child 20 minutes a day, exposes them to about a million more words each year.
Having been asked to read "That's not my puppy" and "Hello Blueberry" about 5,000 times in the last few days, I wonder how many of those million words are simply the same words read over and over and over and over....
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
AJ had a learning experience this weekend. While climbing and goofing around on the coffee table, he forgot to pay attention to how close he was to the edge.
From the kitchen, I heard a loud thud, followed by a crying preschooler. Note that I did not hear whimpers or whines. This was a full fledged cry, as in, he really hurt himself.
Somehow, despite starting out on top of the table, by the time everything hit the floor, AJ's finger ended up underneath the table. I'm sure there's a law of physics to explain this, but as a journalism major, I never had to pay attention to those laws. I picked him up and let him have a good cry.
"The table hurt my finger," he wailed. He had a slight cut, though not bad enough to bleed.
When the cries gave way to fakier whimpers, I asked, "Do you need a bandaid?"
"Yes," he quickly answered.
That's when Mommy learned an important lesson: always check the band-aid supply before offering one to a child.
Later in the day, while shopping, I picked up a box of Spiderman band-aids. Seeing them in the cart reminded AJ of his great wound. So when we got home, I let him have a band-aid. It lasted about 20 minutes before AJ pulled it off and announced, "Mommy, my finger isn't peeling." (It took me a while to figure out he meant that his finger hadn't heeled yet.)
The next day, he managed to scam both Jeff and me into giving him a new band-aid. It was about the time that I realized he was wearing two band-aids, including one on a finger that wasn't hurt, that I instituted a three band-aid limit for injuries of this (lack of) magnitude.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The child who can go through several ketchup packets eating one french fry, now has a new quirky eating habit. Sydney suddenly wants a lot of milk on her cereal, and frequent refills of that milk.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
That changed for some reason on Friday. In our haste to head out the door, I forgot to try and make sense of the blonde mop, and AJ suddenly started to care.
It was in the car, on the way to McDonald's for lunch, that AJ suddenly wailed, "Oh no, I still have messy hair. The kids will laugh at me."
Trying to calm him, I reasoned, "No one's going to laugh at you. Have you ever laughed at anyone for having messy hair?"
"Yes," was his honest answer.
So much for that idea.
He must have caught sight of his shadow, because he next wailed. "I look like a triangle! I look like a stegosaurus!"
You know it must be serious when the thought of looking like a dinosaur doesn't improve the situation.
These photos, by the way, were taken later in the afternoon, so the "triangles" had been flattened a bit by his hood.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
P.S. Whatever fever she had, is now gone.
Friday, November 21, 2008
You've got to love the convenience of modern food products. But I'm wondering if I should feel guilty that my son - after spending approximately two minutes pulling the little Ready to Bake pre-decorated cookie dough circles out of the package and placing them on the tray - announced, "I'm a real cooker."
Start to finish, including the time it takes to preheat the oven, it takes less than 20 minutes to produce two dozen of these awesome little sugar cookies. The kitchen is left with that wonderful scent of fresh baked cookies. The only dishes to wash are two cookie trays and a spatula. I love the geniuses at Pillsbury!
As I pulled the tray from the oven, AJ grabbed the camera to capture the excitement of his baking masterpiece reaching completion. He snapped the photo, then looked at the camera's display to see the picture. Showing it to me he said, "Mommy, your forehead is missing."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
He likes to cook and clean up afterward? Some day this kid is going to make a great husband. Just look at the way he's rolled up his sleeves to help wash dishes. The expression on his face clearly shows he's having fun.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"Because it's still November. You have to wait another month."
"It's NOT November," he insisted. "I don't like November."
I couldn't resist asking, "Why don't you like November?"
"Because I don't like Thanksgiving. I don't like turkey and smashed potatoes."
"You like turkey," I reminded him. "And Thanksgiving also has pie."
He was silent for a moment, then: "This year, I want to spend Thanksgiving at home."
That surprised me, so I questioned, "You don't want to see Grandpa and Grandma at Thanksgiving? Or Jonathon and Jessica?"
Finally, a squeal of delight. "I was just kidding. I like Thanksgiving."
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Oh where, oh where could they be?
With the velcro straps and cute Pooh on the sides.
Oh where, oh where could they be?
Logic tells me that shoes can't just walk away on their own. Yet these little suckers seem to disapear every time I turn my back. Two days in a row, I've ended up spending at least five minutes in search of the blessed footware.
I have no excuse for losing them the first time. They were sitting next to her changing table where they should be, never really lost. I just managed to overlook them during my search. But the next day they ultimately turned up suspiciously close to the toy box, and I know I didn't put them there.
I've heard of remote control ringers you can attach to key chains and other items that tend to get misplaced. Perhaps I could stick one on each shoe.