Saturday, October 31, 2009

Laughter is the best distraction

Maybe if I'd been serving her a healthier lunch, I'd have been more upset by her refusal to eat it.

As it was, I found Sydney's sudden (and presumably temporary) decision that she doesn't like pizza simply amusing. And sharp little cookie that she is, she picked up on the fact that I wasn't too concerned when I put on my most serious face and told her, "You need to eat your pizza."
With an equally exaggeated serious face she responded, "Nooooooo."
She said a few more cute things that left me laughing too hard to scold her. And by the time I grabbed the camera she was in fine form. As I snapped the picture she happily chimed, "piz-zahhhh"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The eyes have it

The way AJ sees it (bad pun), having drops put in his eyes ranks right up there with getting a flu shot on his list of least favorite medical treatments.

AJ visited the eye doctor today, and overall the news is good. It just was a bit of a challenge getting to the point when the doctor could examine AJ's eyes to tell us that. You see, AJ still remembers his visit last year when he got the drops. And they are not fond memories. The first thing out of his mouth as we walked into the exam room was, "Are they going to put drops in my eyes."

"Yes, AJ, you need drops this time."

That news set off drops of a different kind... big tear drops as AJ frantically cried, "I don't want drops. I don't want drops."

Ultimately, Daddy ended up sitting in the exam chair with AJ in his lap. Both got tipped back, with Jeff wrapping his arms tightly around AJ to keep him in place. (This picture was our attempt at a re-creation.)

AJ did his best to squirm loose. But he forgot one key detail. Daddy knows how to do this. In fact, Daddy has quite a bit of experience with submission holds and wrestling guys who weigh a heck of a lot more than 45 pounds.

Once the drops had been administered, AJ admitted that they "didn't hurt that much. Maybe a little bit, but not too much." He also said he wouldn't be afraid next time. Though he did verify more than once that he wouldn't need drops on his next visit.

And as I said, the news was generally good. His weak eye is getting stronger. AJ still needs to wear a patch, but now just 3-4 days a week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spare me!

"Mom, bowling balls is a hard game!"

That was AJ's summation of his first attempt at knocking down the white pins. On Saturday, we were invited to a party at a local bowling alley to celebrate his soccer (and soon-to-be hockey) teammate Owen's fifth birthday.

AJ had the benefit of bumpers blocking the gutters, plus an ultra light bowling ball. But it turns out what he needed most was a longer attention span. He lasted through about the fifth round before he lost all interest. That was fine with someone else in our family who was happy to fill in for her big brother.

Sydney's first attempt at bowling definitely required patience. It took the ball a loooooooooonnnnggggg time to finally reach the pins. But she was having fun, and of course that's what mattered.
Nevertheless, Team Kazel has some work to do before we join the pro circuit. Even with bumpers that made it impossible to throw a gutterball, our final score was a whopping 66.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I thought it was embarrassing during the children's sermon to sit in the back of the church while AJ announced whatever was on his mind for all the congregation to hear. Now I realize that's not so bad.

What's really embarrassing is walking up to the front of the church with Sydney so that she can take part in the children's sermon, so that everyone is looking at you when AJ starts talking. Because what am I supposed to do? It's not like I can say "Shhh!" in front of everyone when AJ gets the urge to tell the pastor about our fruitless search of the house for a pencil that was already sharpened.

Sunday's children's sermon focused on asking God's forgiveness when we make mistakes. The pastor started by making the comparison of why we need erasers on pencils (thus AJ's inspiration to share our pencil story.)

As the pastor tried making the connection between erasing mistakes and God forgiving mistakes, AJ jumped ahead of him to explain how God could do that. "Jesus died on the cross for all our sins."

"Excellent!" the pastor exclaimed. "Stand up and say it again for everyone to hear."

Of course AJ was only too happy to oblige. Standing up, looking down at the kids, he spread his arms wide and repeated, "Jesus died on the cross for all our sins."

Mercifully, the children's sermon wrapped up soon after, so we could return to our seats. Could, but didn't. Because AJ had to first tell the pastor we were going to Scarium at the Aquarium after church. I pried AJ away and started walking back with Sydney. AJ ran ahead, stopping briefly to give a high-5 to our next door neighbor who happened to be sitting across the aisle from us.

Amazingly, the message actually made an impact on AJ. Sunday night, while snuggling at bedtime, AJ told me, "Mom, I made a mistake today."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"I bugged Sydney and made her mad."

Figuring this was a good time to drive home the message, I told him, "Then you need to pray and tell God you're sorry, and ask him to forgive you."

AJ gave me a funny look, but proceeded to pray, "Dear God, I'm sorry I bugged Sydney. Please forgive me. Amen."

"Good job," I told him. "Doesn't that make you feel better now?"

He gave me a sweet smile and nodded, and then started praying again. "Dear God. I'm sorry for all the mistakes I'll ever make. Please forgive me. Amen." He then opened his eyes and proudly explained, "Now I don't have to do that every time."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a treat!

If you've got it, flaunt it. In this case, the "it" is a Cookie Monster costume that suddenly is the coolest Halloween get-up ever.

Yes, you read that right. Sydney has done a 180. (As I suspected she would.) This weekend, just in time for Scarium at the Aquarium, she proclaimed, "I like Cookie Monster. I Cookie Monster!"

She strutted around the Aquarium like she owned the place. She discovered that the one-piece costume works really well for sliding. So many people commented on how cute she looked, it almost made the craziness of the costume search worth it. Almost.
And what did AJ, the child with a million disguises choose to wear today? Batman.
It's always swell when a $1 garage sale find trumps the brand new Wolverine costume we bought a few weeks ago and the homemade knight costume I spent hours creating.

It was fun bringing the kids trick-or-treating at the Aquarium. It was an event I helped start seven years ago, and was one of the last things I worked on before being laid-off. Little did I imagine back then, how much enjoyment it would bring my family today.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Staying alive!

This was supposed to be a cool comparison from last year to this year, showing how much my two pine trees have grown. And that they're actually still alive.

But if you click on the link and look back at the old tree pictures, you'll notice a few things that make it tough to compare. For instance, I've got the kids lined up by the wrong trees. Plus, the kids have grown more than the trees have.

I wanted to go back out and re-take the pictures (the ones you see here are from a few weeks ago), but the wet weather and ever-shortening amount of daylight has made that difficult.

Aside from all that, the trees are still alive and flourishing. And so are the kids. So I guess that means this past year has been a success.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Give it your best shot

Want to test a 4-year-old's strength, determination and vocal chords?

Try holding him down while he's getting a flu shot.

My children are now vaccinated against the flu (the regular one, not H1N1). It was not a pleasant experience. I think I now qualify to participate in the World Wrestling Federation.

Last year, AJ was able to skip the shot and get a nasal spray instead. But this year our pediatrician advised against the nasal spray, saying tests show it's only half as effective as the shot.

Interestingly, this experience highlighted a gender difference in my kids. Giving Sydney the shot was relatively easy. But then she pouted about it for hours afterward, demanding to be carried because her leg hurt.

AJ, on the other hand, was a horrible patient. He kicked his legs, flailed his arms and screamed bloody murder. It took all my strength to hold his wrists and lay across his chest while the nurse
quickly injected his leg. He cried for a minute or so after, and then he was done. He hasn't mentioned it since other than to tell Daddy he'd gotten a shot.

I've been holding off on the H1N1 vaccine for the kids, because our pediatrician says it hasn't been tested nearly enough to know the potential side effects. Based on today's experience, I'm doubly glad to take this wait-and-see approach before bringing the kids in for more shots.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bedtime playtime

There's nothing like a two-minute warning (until bedtime) to encourage children to remember all that they love about their toys. Suddenly, the lure of TV is gone. Squabbles with their siblings end. And their imagination kicks into overdrive as they play with their toys as quietly as possible. I think they figure we'll forget they're there, and thus let them stay up later.

And on Thursday nights, that logic works for them. Knowing that they can (and usually will) sleep in on Fridays, I decided to sit back and listen to their playtime conversations.

Sydney had a talk with her "pink mommy," (Not to be confused with the "yellow mommy" who seems to be taking a header off the picnic table.) explaining proper etiquette for addressing me. "Not Dana. Mommy mommy." Can you tell what's been an issue at our house lately?

AJ, meanwhile, launched a battle between knights. Funny how if he were a girl, he'd be playing with dolls and dollhouses. But because he's a boy, we call them knights and castles.

Regardless of what you call these tiny figures, there definitely is a difference in the way that the kids play with them. As Sydney prepared her "peoples" to go to sleep, AJ's knights knocked each other over with cannon balls.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The kiss off

I knew this moment would come. But did it have to come so soon?

Tonight at bedtime, I went into AJ's room to give him, as I always do, "a hug and a kiss goodnight."

And that's when AJ informed me, "Just a hug is okay."

"You don't want a kiss?" I teased.

"Just a hug," he confirmed.

"Why don't you want a kiss?" I pressed.

"Okay," he relented slightly, pointing to his cheek, "You can kiss me here."

"What's wrong with kisses?" I asked again.

"Sometimes they're kind of yucky."

He's growing up, whether I want him to or not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The harder you try...

Many random thoughts are swirling through my brain right now, such as:
I should have known.
Who didn't see this one coming from a mile away? (Jeff claims he did, but I didn't.)
I am so very ready for Sydney to not be two anymore.

I've wracked my brain for several weeks, trying to find a way to provide my little darling with the Cookie Monster costume she so desired. Even as I tried to convince her that a "honey bunny" would be the best costume ever, she continued to say she wanted to be Cookie Monster, and so I continued searching eBay for a costume with a price tag I could justify.

Last week, I won.

The costume arrived by mail today.

And Sydney's response? A very emphatic, "I no want Cookie Monster!"

It was an absolute battle, complete with tears (from her), just to get her to try it on. I'm hoping that this will ultimately end like so many of our other power struggles. Once she gets past her initial stubborn resistance to the costume, she'll never want to take it off.

Regardless, she will wear it this year. Or she'll stay home. And as frustrated as I am right now, I just may make her wear it next year, too. After that, I believe I'll be ready to learn how to sell on eBay (the costume, not the child, as tempting as that may seem.)

C is for... counting

Alas, yet another of my children thinks the process of baking cookies involves transfering pre-made, pre-decorated cookie dough discs from a box to a tray.

For Sydney, she may not be learning to bake, but at least she's learning to count. Okay, in reality, she's just getting lots of practice counting, because she doesn't follow directions very well. I told her she needed to put 12 cookies on each tray. In the time it took me to put supper's leftovers in the refrigerator, she'd counted into the teens while piling all 24 cookies on one corner of each tray. And so we started counting again. One, two, three...

And then, just because she's Sydney and has to always test her limits, she teasingly lifted one of the cookies up to her mouth, which she knows she's not supposed to do, right as I was taking the picture. To her credit, she immediately put the cookie back down, without ever actually putting it in her mouth. Little turkey!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Saturday was Boo at the Zoo, a ridiculously expensive opportunity for kids to walk around the zoo in costume and load up on enough sugar to last them until Halloween.

Thanks to the inventor of the hot glue gun, AJ was able to dress up as a knight. Mommy beamed with pride when a Zoo worker complimented him on his cool costume.

And Sydney was a... grouch. Instead of Cookie Monster, she was simply a grumpy monster.

The bunny idea? Forget it! I made a cute pom pom tail to attach to her sleeper, and she threw a fit. I pulled out the adorable bunny ear hat I found at a consignment shop, and she threw it on the ground. So what you see here is what I'm calling Tundra Tinkerbell. It's her favorite fairy costume, covered by coat and boots. Kind of a Cindy Lauper look, if you ask me. Too bad this girl didn't seem to want to have fun.

That didn't stop AJ from having fun. Despite Daddy's fears that the too tall hat made him look like a grand wizard (as in, KKK), no one else seemed to misinterpret the costume. In fact, Sir AJ managed to find a scurvy pirate who was more than willing to join him for a sword fight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Perfect 10

In honor of our tenth anniversary, we dusted off the video of our big day. In between interruptions of "I watch Elmo" and "How long is this?", it was fun to re-live the joy of that moment, and see all the people who shared it with us.

Ten years. And we haven't changed a bit.

Okay, maybe a little. For instance, we've grown older and wiser. We've learned that if we want a romantic and enjoyable evening at Red Lobster to celebrate ten years together, then we really should hire a babysitter. Otherwise, this crew can be a little distracting.
Even though yesterday was our anniversary, we're waiting until tonight to celebrate. We're heading to a Hawaiian luau at a restaurant near Two Harbors. It seemed too perfect a coincidence that it was being offered this weekend. We honeymooned in Hawaii, and I remember saying we should come back to renew our vows on our tenth anniversary. Obviously that's not happening. So the blustery north shore of Lake Superior will have to do instead.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Three down, one to go

Can you tell Sydney's not feeling well? I suppose it'd be easier to notice if she were standing still.

So I guess this picture doesn't really help much either.

But perhaps it gives you some idea why it's not always obvious when our kids our sick. It's because, quite simply, they don't necessarily act sick. Such as when they're running laps around the couch and giggling at mommy's failed attempts to take their picture.

Sick she is, however. Sydney's been battling a cold for more than a week, and her cough was getting worse. So on Wednesday we decided it'd be better to be safe than sorry, and headed to the pediatrician. The doctor determined there's definitely a wheezing sound in Sydney's lungs. That alone would indicate a cold. However, considering that cold has worsened to pneumonia in both AJ and Jeff, the decision was made to "nip it in the bud." And so Sydney is now on the same antibiotic given to the men in the family.

All this raises the question... am I the last one standing? If so, is it because I'm healthier, tougher or simply luckier? Or, is it simply because I'm a mom who knows she doesn't have time to be sick?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Animal attraction

I recently commented to someone that both Maggie and Spike, for some reason, seem to prefer Sydney over AJ. I speculated that maybe it's because Sydney's a little calmer and quieter than AJ, and thus appears less threatening. Or maybe it's because Sydney is more likely to drop table scraps on the floor

Or perhaps, at least in Maggie's case, it has something to do with the large number of treats Sydney is more than happy to toss her way.

Check out that handful. Sydney has three dog treats wedged in her tiny fist. I believe she was announcing, "Here Maggie!" as I snapped the picture.

Last week, I caught Sydney feeding cookies to Maggie. (The cookies were still on a cooling rack on the counter, and so easily reached by Sydney.) I told her cookies were bad for puppies, and that she should give Maggie a dog treat instead. That was all the encouragement she needed to wheel the stool over and start doling out milk bones like she's the prize patrol.

Perhaps Spike's interest in Sydney is simply a curiosity of what she needs to do to enjoy the same "treat"ment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Money, money, money...

If Sydney has any interest in working at a financial institution, she certainly has a bank of experience to turn to for advice: two grandmas and a mommy all have worked there.

So it was fun checking out the newest exhibit at the Children's Museum last week. Sydney immediately grabbed a plastic basket and some fruit from the mini-sized grocery store, and then filled it the rest of the way with the bank's oversized coins.

AJ seemed more interested in the various computerized activities.

AJ, it seems, is the one we need to have a talk with about money. Though, Mommy really doesn't know quite what to say. On Sunday, I gave him two quarters to drop in the offering plate at Sunday School. We were a few minutes late getting there, and as I dropped him off, I noted they were just finishing collecting the offering. I made a mental note to have AJ give the coins to his teacher when I picked him up, but of course I forgot.

Fast forward to late Sunday afternoon. I ran to Super One with the kids. There's a coin operated "purple bus" just past the check out lines there, so usually I let the kids climb on it while I'm bagging groceries. This trip was no different, with one notable exception. When I looked over to make sure the kids were behaving, the bus was moving. Yes, my sweet little boy remembered the quarters in his pocket and figured out how to get the ride to go. WWJD?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween countdown

Can you guess who's excited for Halloween? This picture might help you take a stab at it.

Yes, Halloween is still 20 days away, but we wanted to make a jack-o-lantern with Grandma Lynne, and she's only here until Monday. And so, since we knew a carved pumpkin had no chance of surviving until the big day, we decided to do the next best thing. Think of it as Mr. Potato Head meets Mr. Pumpkin.

It may not last until Halloween, but it surely will last longer than the kids' interest in any particular costume. I believe this is a Power Ranger pirate during a moment of truce with a Storm Trooper bobblehead.

Maybe it's a good thing we still have nearly three weeks until the big night, because dress up plans are again up in the air. AJ already has a costume, but I just found a magazine with an absolutely adorable, no-sew pattern for Robin Hood. AJ looked at it, turned the page and saw a knight costume that he loved even more, and now I'm getting busy with a hot glue gun.

Sydney, meanwhile, continues to baffle me. For the last couple days I've been trying to talk her out of the Cookie Monster idea. She's started saying she wants to be a Honey Bunny, and I'm encouraging it. I figure I can stick a pom pom tail on a pink sleeper and get her some bunny ears. But during a trip to WalMart this evening, she threw a fit when I showed her some bunny ears. She briefly got excited at the site of a Thomas the Train costume, but then said, "I no Thomas." This just may be the year I dress her in her regular coat and mittens and attach a sign that says, "I'm two."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rude wake up call

Mother Nature just trumped any cute kids stories.

I knew there was a 60-percent chance for snow today, but I thought that meant we'd be seeing flurries. I didn't realize it was anything that would stick around. And I certainly didn't expect to wake up to this:

That's way more than just frost on our pumpkin. Even Maggie seemed surprised, and not all that thrilled, by this chilly layer of white. Maybe it's because we're still in the first half of October. Maybe it's because there are still so may pretty leaves on the trees.

Maybe it's because Jeff just mowed the lawn yesterday. Really. Maybe it's because we've just had two weeks of miserable, wet, mostly overcast weather, and the forecast for the next week gives no reason for cheer. Bottom line, I am not yet able to see the beauty in this.
Perhaps when the kids wake up they'll find reason to be excited. Hopefully their enthusiasm will be contagious, because right now I can't help but think this is just plain wrong.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The cookie has crumbled

C is for... Come up with a new idea for a Costume.

Sydney really wants to be Cookie Monster for Halloween. She's been telling us this for weeks. Can't you just imagine how cute she'd look in a fuzzy blue costume like this?
Alas, it is not meant to be. Though certainly not for lack of trying on my part. No local retailers carry anything close. They apparently believe Hannah Montana and Disney Princesses are the only thing little girls want to be this year.

And so I turned to the Web. Craigslist had nothing. Google revealed a number of online merchants offering the costume for an outrageous amount of money, but most of them carried it only in sizes 12-18 months (too small) or 4-6X (too big). A couple of places claimed to carry it in a 3T-4T, but then, a day after I placed my order, I got an e-mail apologizing that they didn't have it in stock and didn't know when more would be available. That happened twice.

By yesterday, I was crazed enough to register for ebay and place a bid on a used version. As I clicked on the "confirm bid", it dawned on me that I was becoming one of THOSE moms. I was putting way too much effort, and spending way too much money on a costume for a 2-year-old, a costume that by next year she won't even remember wearing.

As fate would have it, by this morning, another one of THOSE parents had outbid me. The price was up to $30 (plus $10 for shipping). Finally, common sense kicked in. This is as good a time as any for Sydney to learn that we don't always get what we want. More important, it's high time I remember that part of being a parent is teaching my kids a lesson in reality.

Though there are a couple of kids consignment shops in town I could check out...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts on the bus

Isn't it funny how, depending on our stage in life, a three letter word can take on such drastically different meanings.


As a child, to hear your friends shout it likely meant you're late. They're gathered at the stop, the bus is in sight and if you're not in line with them, then you better hustle.

As a teenager, hearing that shout of "Bus!" brought an even greater adrenalin rush. Working in the exciting quick service industry, more commonly known as fastfood dining, if a colleague shouted the alert of a bus pulling off the highway or – even worse – into the parking lot, it meant "prepare for chaos." Thirty or more hungry people could soon noisily pile into the restaurant expecting immediate service. Get the fries down!

Then parenthood arrives and, for at least a brief time, buses are an exciting, magical thing. AJ and Sydney both love to call out when they see a bright yellow school bus pass us on the road. It becomes a bit of a game to see who spots it first. "Bus!" It's become such a habit that, I have to admit, I've called out "Bus!" on my way to work when I'm alone in the car.

At this stage, riding a bus, as AJ got to do this week during a preschool lesson on bus safety, is just about the coolest thing ever.

It's a novelty, no doubt, but I wonder if part of the appeal is the fact that he's not strapped into a car seat. What other moving vehicle, in this day and age of seatbelt safety, allows you to freely bounce up and down?

Soon enough, I'm sure, we'll come full circle, when hearing the cry of "bus!" means the kids' bus is in sight, and if they're not at the stop waiting for it, then they better grab their coats and hustle.

But before that day arrives, I know I must survive one more key phase. I've got less than a year to prepare for it, and hopefully it lasts just one day. That's the day when the sight of a bus brings tears to my eyes, because I know that bright yellow vehicle is about to take my baby away for his first day of kindergarten.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Preschool - Day 1

What would a poet say about the road to knowledge? It is a path that hopefully never ends, long and winding, full of highs and lows, with tests and tribulations waiting 'round every curve.

But nowhere – from inspiring quotes to over-used cliches – have I seen mention that the start of that road involves threading beads on a plastic cord.

Alas, in our land of Fins and lumberjacks, this seems to be a popular activity. AJ has brought home several necklaces for me in recent months from daycare. Likewise, at the preschool's open house, he got to make a necklace using Halloween- and autumn-themed beads. So I suppose it shouldn't have been a big surprise that his first activity on his first day of class was making yet another necklace.

AJ started preschool on Tuesday, and parents were asked to accompany the kids on the first day. This gave us a glimpse of what to expect for the coming year, while reminding each of us how lucky we are to not have a job that involves trying to hold the attention of twenty 4-year-olds.

Back to the necklace assignment... this specific project involved threading beads imprinted with the letters of his name. Lucky AJ, that meant two beads and he was done. Cadence and Cassandra, two of the little girls at his table, understandably needed a bit more time to finish their project.

Gender differences are already quite obvious at this age, I discovered. As the kids moved on to open play, AJ headed to the corner with trucks and dinosaurs. So did all but one of the other boys.

The girls, meanwhile, gathered 'round the kitchen playset. The lines seemed drawn, until it came time for singing and stories. Suddenly it was okay for the boys and girls to interact again. For the Hokie Pokie and Wheels on the Bus, apparently, it's far more important to sit by someone you know. Especially if that someone is the young lady you think you may someday call your wife. Earlier in the day, AJ told me, "Mom, when I'm big like you and Daddy and I get married, I'm going to marry Hanna."

Day one wrapped up with a short bus ride around Esko and a lesson about bus safety. Never mind that AJ won't be riding the bus for at least another year. For him, riding the bus was the highlight of the day.

It's good he could find something to be happy about. We belatedly discovered that what he'd been most excited about for preschool was... drum roll please... getting to wear the Incredible Hulk costume again that he'd tried on during the open house. Sadly, for AJ, the costume was one of the toys in the Cool Kids room next door to his preschool, and he won't be starting there until next week.

The road to knowledge, it seems, is sometimes pocked with disappointment, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Go Vikings!

It's so easy to get kids to jump on the Vikings band wagon. Jeff is not exactly a quiet football fan. And Sydney in particular seems to be following in her Daddy's footsteps. (Especially the footsteps that involve jumping up from the floor while cheering.) When she hears Daddy shouting and cheering, she claps and shouts, too.

Part way through the Vikings/Packers game, I dug out an old jersey of AJ's, and sure enough, it fit Sydney perfectly. Right about that time, she found AJ's Vikings horns. And a purple and gold princess was born. Are you ready for some football?!!!

Or maybe not. She does, after all, have the attention span of a toddler, and this obsession with watching football is kind of silly.

Because with a big brother who was quick to recruit her to join his team, it's far more fun to play football, rather than just sit and watch. Let's get ready to rumble!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Remember your manners

This story got rather buried by the news of AJ's pneumonia. But still worth sharing...

Trying to get ready Friday morning... Sydney was still asleep. AJ was watching TV in the living room. I checked with AJ to see if there was anything he needed, and told him I was going to take a shower.

Maybe a minute later, from the closet where I was trying to pick clothes to wear (in the dark, so as not to disturb Jeff who was still sleeping), I could hear AJ calling rather urgently, "Mom! Mom!"

Quickly tiptoeing out of the closet and bedroom, so as not to wake Jeff, I finally reached the living room on the fourth or fifth "Mom!"

"What AJ?" I asked.

"I sneezed."

That's it? He felt a pressing need to tell me that? I waited for him to continue, but finally had to prompt, "So?"

He was quite concerned. "Nobody said 'bless you'."

As for how he's doing - he's still sleeping, and I haven't heard him cough once. Always a good sign. If you ask him, he'll say, "I'm mostly better. Maybe still a little bit sick."

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Why the goofy grin/head position? Because AJ is listening as Daddy reads to him a letter that just came in the mail.

It's not just any letter. No. This I think falls under the category of a love letter. From an older woman - a kindergartner!

It's from his friend Addie. Along with smiley faces and what I believe are balloons, Addie had her Mom transcribe:

Dear AJ,
I loved, loved the wonderful playdate. I hope we meet again.

AJ was quite excited to get mail. His response was an enthusiastic, "I want them to come play, too!"

And now a quick update on AJ's health: I'm already seeing good improvement. He still has coughing fits, but they're much fewer than before. Also, his appetite seems to be coming back. He's being a very willing participant in the healing process. He's taking the medicine without whining, and is doing a better job of blowing his nose.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Our battle with colds took an unexpected path last night. To Urgent Care.

AJ has pneumonia. That explains why my normally incredibly healthy child has been hit so much harder than the rest of us.

He's been congested all week, then late in the afternoon he started getting chills. By dinner time, he was complaining that his right leg hurt. I took a closer look and discovered a rash. I looked a little more and found a similar rash on his right arm.

Jeff must have figured it'd be easier to sit with AJ at Urgent Care rather than stay home and watch Sydney, because he volunteered to go. I'll bet he never makes that mistake again. Close to four hours, a throat swab, blood draw and battery of other tests later, they finally returned home. Jeff carried medicine and instructions. AJ carried the more than half-dozen Superman, Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Halloween and other stickers he'd obviously been rewarded with for enduring the various procedures.

He's not considered contagious, but we do need to keep him calm for the next few days. We also need to give him plenty of yogurt to replace the natural bacterias in his mouth that are likely to be killed by the antibiotic.

Jeff described AJ's expression during the blood test as "a look of terror." The poor guys. Though AJ did find time in the waiting room to make a new friend - a young boy with a sore throat. According to Jeff, AJ walked over to him and said, "Hi, I'm AJ. What's wrong with you?"

Of course all this couldn't have happened a day - or even a few hours - earlier. No, it will be much more fun to see the hospital bill, as opposed to the $20 co-pay for a visit to his pediatrician.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bubbling over with patriotism

An alternate title could be "Bubbling over with germs."

We've been battling colds at our house this week. And since AJ has never really mastered the fine art of blowing his nose, and Sydney seems to have forgotten how, we're resorting to other methods to clear the congestion. Namely, we've been taking nightly bubble baths. The bubbles come from Johnson & Johnson soothing vapor bath.

With ground rules firmly established (by them) that they don't have to wash their hair, and just get to "swim," the kids really enjoy it. Last night, after tiring of the normal bath toys, they came up with a new game "Bubble fight!"

Suddenly, scoops of bubbles were flying, as they splatted handfuls of foam on each other's backs, tummies and chins. It took a while to snap a photo of Sydney that hopefully she won't hate me for in future years.

Seeing AJ in the above shot, I couldn't help but notice a resemblance to a certain famous, though made-up figure. Can you guess? Not Col. Sanders.

Imagine him wearing a red, white and blue top hat.

"I want you!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forgotten post

Is it really possible that these pictures are less than two weeks old? Sydney is sleeveless and AJ is in shorts. And this morning I am wearing a wool coat, and expect to need an ice scraper to get out of the driveway. For the second day in a row.

I'd loaded these photos onto the blog back on Sept. 21, and then apparently never wrote about them. The kids must have done something else that was cuter, followed by our trip to Canada, and somehow, whatever I intended to write, remained in draft form.

We were at the Hermantown Elementary School playground. I wrote about this place in an article for Duluth~Superior Magazine, noting that in this day and age of towering, plastic playgrounds, this "firetruck" is proof that sometimes it's the classics that best capture a child's imagination. My kids love this playground, just because of this one piece.

Much to AJ's dismay, Sydney now enjoys the firetruck as much as he does, which means Mommy had to work quickly to convince him that riding in back as "the ladder guy" was just as cool as being the driver. Sure enough, within seconds, Sydney was willing to forfeit the driver's seat, "I do ladder." Sibling squabble prevented!

A side note for history's sake. It wasn't just my imagination that summer finally seemed to arrive in September. I'd heard a statistic earlier in the month that the average temperature for the first two weeks of September was warmer than June, July and August. Last night it was reported this was Duluth's warmest September in 102 years.

It was nice while it lasted. But I doubt the warm fuzzy feeling will do much for me when I head outside in a half hour to scrape the frost from my windshield.