Monday, February 28, 2005

Birthday Party + Trip to Urgent Care = One Tiring Weekend

Get yourself comfy; this is a long one.

T turned four on Saturday and he had a good birthday. He wanted “strawberry pancakes” for breakfast, so I made him pancakes, plopped on some strawberry jam and whipped cream and….voila! Strawberry Pancakes. While I was making the pancakes, I could hear R and T waking up Uncle Dave. He and my in-laws came in late Friday night for T’s Saturday party. The boys were waking up Uncle Dave by jumping on him and wrestling with him. The next thing I know, T comes down stairs complaining that he’s having “a really bad birthday.” Evidently, he ended up falling off the futon during the wrestling wake up. (Nope, this isn’t where the Urgent Care visit comes into play…stay tuned.) Luckily, the breakfast helped his day improve a bit, but he still wasn’t all smiles and he would shoot Uncle Dave a look during breakfast. He finally cheered up helping us decorate for the party – balloons and streamers do the trick every time.

The day was a bit busy because R had hockey practice from 1-2 and then the end of season party and free skate with parents from 2-2:30. M, grampa, and U.Dave took him to hockey (and skated during free skate) while gramma, T and I stayed to finish getting ready for the party, which started at 2:30. The party was from 2:30-4:30, so it was just a cake and ice cream party, but I thought I’d have some veggies, cheese and crackers for any parents that stuck around.

We invited six kids to the party – four 4-year olds and two of their siblings (one 11 year old girl that T’s in love with, and one 2 year old boy). All but one were neighbors. One boy, Austin, is a friend of T’s from art class and story time at the library. Everybody showed up and they brought their parents too. I expected each kid to have a parent because the kids are only 4, but I didn’t expect each kid to bring BOTH parents! I guess that everybody liked the idea of a party in this dreary, snowy winter. All in all with family, kids, and parents, we had 22 people in our house for the party.

As the kids arrived, they decorated party hats (aka foam visors) in the kitchen. I bought a bunch of foam stickers – trains, airplanes, trucks, bugs, flowers, stars, balls, and geometric shapes – for the kids to put on their visor. (T wanted to have party hats, but he didn’t want the elastic string around his chin, so we went with the visor idea.) They had a lot of fun with the project. Most kids got so many stickers on their visor that you couldn’t see the color of the visor any more. This was a good activity to do right away, so the kids had something to do while the other kids arrived (an old trick my dad taught me). T’s visor was purple and he decorated it with two trains, a purple flower and a purple dog. R had a variety of sports balls, vehicles and stars on his visor.

Then we headed to the basement for the bulk of the party. (My mom in law cleaned up the visor craft table so that it would be ready for cake and ice cream later on.) M and the boys had worked on the basement to make it look really fun for the party. All of the grown ups commented on how cool it looked; they especially liked the colorful foam squares that M had put down (you know, like they have in preschools for the kids to play on.) We also had the different mini sports games set up – mini basket ball and a thing where you throw the ball in different holes for different points.

The kids played for a bit and then I got them started on the next craft (T loves crafts, so this party had a bunch of them!) It was another foam craft. I ordered some train kits, so the kids glued the train pieces onto the main train to make a train. I glued magnets on the back of the main train pieces the night before so they could put them on their fridges. I was smart and bought a bunch of glue bottles, so that each child had his own.

After the magnet craft, it was time for pin-the-smokestack-on-the-steam-train game. The night before, M drew a train on a poster board and his mom and I painted it. We also painted 8 separate smokestacks. The game worked just like the regular donkey/tail game. T-the-birthday-boy went first and didn’t even make the poster board. His smokestack was on the wall. He took off his bandana, took one look at where his poor smokestack was and began to cry saying, “I didn’t do good at all!” Poor guy! It didn’t help much that the next kid nearly nailed it right on the dot. In the end, I gave away two prizes to the two closest and was about to give the crying birthday boy a prize for being the farthest away, but he said, “no thank you. I don’t want the prize. I didn’t do good.” How mature of him! We then gave him another chance and he got the smokestack on the boiler of the train and felt much better.

Next was piñata time (a train shaped piñata, of course.) T went first and got a few whacks. The next kid did pretty good. Just when it was R’s turn, M tried to move the piñata a bit higher and the whole thing just broke open. The kids and I all just started at the candy and toys on the floor for a couple of beats, until I yelled “go for it, kids!) and they all piled in. Crazy! M felt so bad! But it wasn’t a big deal at all.

We did one final craft – each kid colored a train car for a train puzzle (T got the engine) – and then we headed upstairs for presents and cake. T got a lot of train toys and some cool books. All in all it was a fun party.

After the party, we opened family presents and played with all the new toys. While we were playing in the basement, R got something in his eye. He was looking up to shoot a basketball and started rubbing his eye. Evidently, a piece of dirt or something from the ball fell into his eye. We couldn’t see anything in his eye and it wasn’t tearing up or red at all. I flushed it with water a few times (a technique we use when the kids get soap in their eyes, dubbed “cold eyes” by T) to try to get what ever was in there out. His eye only hurt when he closed it. He did a pretty good job of not rubbing it. I looked in his eye a bunch of times and so did M, but we could never see anything. When he got up at 10:00 because of his eye, I even put a couple of drops of dry-eye Visene to see if that could help. It seemed to help a bit, so I tucked R in bed.

At 12:30, he woke me up, crying that his eye was bugging him too much to sleep. He said that it didn’t hurt, but it bugged him a lot. I sleepily gave him the cold eye treatment and sat with him a bit. No good. I put another drop of two of Visene in – this time that treatment hurt him, poor guy. We hung out on the couch together for awhile until he stopped whimpering and I took him back up to his bed. I went back to my bed, but couldn’t stop thinking about him, so I went up and checked on him. He was asleep (snoring quietly) but his hand would go up and rub his eye every now and then. I stayed with him for a long time, not knowing what to do until I was too tired, so I went back to bed. It was 3:00 am.

In the morning, his eye was watering for the first time. I was actually encouraged by this. I figured that whatever was in there had worked its way down to where his eye realized it was there and was trying to get it out. After a bit, M found a little tiny white thing in his eye that he got out. It was the size of a piece of sand. R said it didn’t hurt as bad now and was ready to go eat breakfast. On the way to hockey, we checked out the Urgent Care in town and saw that it would be opened later in the morning, just in case we needed to go. He was also supposed to have another hockey practice and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go or not. M and I encouraged him to go – there were only two practices left and he always had so much fun. Anyway, after half way through the practice, R came off the ice with his eye pretty red, a bit swollen, and tearing like crazy.

We drove right to Urgent Care from the hockey rink. We waited an hour with some of the sickest people I’ve ever seen in my life. If there was a way to hold my breath for an hour, I surely would have. M whispered to me, “breathe through your nose” as soon as we sat down. The doctor was as nice as could be and R was as brave as could be. She numbed his eye with some drops and put in a piece of paper that had orange dye on it. It somehow changed to neon green in his eye. Then she turned off the lights and used a black light to see if there were any scratches on his eye. There were! He had about 3 or 4 scratches on his eye. M and I could see them too. It was pretty cool to see. She couldn’t find any foreign objects in his eye, just the scratches. She said it would take a couple of days to heal and gave us a prescription for antibiotics to put in his eye three times a day (she put in one dose while we were there.) She also recommended that we see an ophthalmologist on Monday to confirm that there really wasn’t anything in this eye that shouldn’t be there.

Because his eye was numb, R felt pretty good then and was just tired from his night of fitful sleep (him and me both!) By the time we got home, it was 3:00, so I put him and T down for a nap. Then I crawled in bed for a nap too. Whew! What a weekend.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Balloons at the Battle Creek balloon festival. Posted by Hello

T is trying to keep his eyes open, but the snow keeps getting in them. Posted by Hello
I'm trying to figure out how to get pictures on the blog, but it's not working well (as you can see from above). Anyway, R would like to say something...

I am not feeling well, but hopefully I will feel good soon.

Here's what T says....

I hope I can get to art class and send you something, but I don't know if I can make enough.

A New Recipe

You know how you get in a rut with the food that you fix for dinner? Well, we were in a big time rut. For the last six weeks or so, I've made a pot roast on Sat or Sun night. Yeah, it's tasty and filling and easy, but what a rut! M bought two low-carb magazines with lots of recipes in them. One is pretty good. It has a whole section on Mexican dinners. Tonight I made a Mexican chicken casserole. It had chicken (of course) and cream of chicken soup, cream, sour cream, green enchilada sauce and three cups of cheese. I figured that it must be pretty good with all of those tasty ingredients. It also had three low-carb flour tortillas (which I was very excited about.) You heat everything but the tortillas on the stove untill the cheese is melted. Then you cut up the tortillas in strips/pieces one inch long. Then you layer the the mixture with the tortillas, ending with the mixture on top; bake for 35 minutes and voila...a tasty dinner. M, R and I enjoyed it a bunch. T made a big old face when he tasted the teeniest bite. I normally would make him eat about four bites, but he's been sick and doesn't have an appetite (he didn't even what his pineapple!) so I didn't force it. I'll definitely do that recipe again. Tomorrow is another recipe from the same magazine. I hope it turns out just as well :>

Snugglin' and Talkin'

Last night I after I did the dishes (M made a great chicken dinner) I went upstairs to hang out with M while he was surfin on the net. I got on the futon and covered myself with the blanket. R, who was still not up to snuff, came in and asked if he could snuggle with me. I told him that I would love to snuggle with him. So he got in and settled in, turned towards me with a nice smile and said, "Mom, sometimes when I'm not feeling so good, it makes me feel better to snuggle with you." He also said, "sometimes when I'm not too happy, I talk to you and you make me feel better." about warming a mom's heart!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sounds of a Midwestern Winter

Here are the top five sounds that I'm hearing now that never heard in California:

1. Snow being shoveled off our driveway (a job M takes upon himself!)
2. Salt crunching below my boots as I cross the street to work
3. Dog barking because there are deer in the backyard
4. Gobble of wild turkeys as they wander out from the woods into our backyard
5. Requests for hot chocolate after a cold day playing in the snow

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A House Full of Sickies

It was 5:30 am and I was lying in bed “snuggling” between three sick people. “This isn’t a good position to be in,” I thought to myself…so I got up.

Let’s step back a bit and see how I got in this germ-filled position…

It started on Sunday night, when M felt really awful. He had a headache, seemed to have a fever (we didn’t have a thermometer at the time because I dropped our old one in the toilet). He was nauseous and felt like he had been hit by a truck. He didn’t feel any better on Monday and T began to feel bad too. But T had cold symptoms – a runny nose and a bit of a cough.

Last night R said that his forehead hurt. I figured that he had sinus pressure from a cold, so I gave him cold medicine too. Well, at midnight, R woke me up, saying that his forehead hurt really bad. His skin was very hot to my touch. I gave him some Tylenol and took him back up to bed. At 1:30am T came down and said that he couldn’t breathe through his nose. So, I took him upstairs, got him some cold medicine and tucked him back in bed. Then, at 5:00 am, R came back down, saying that his tummy hurt and that it felt “soft”. I was too tired to march back upstairs, so I scooted over and got him into bed with M and me. Finally, at 5:20, T came back down, not being able to breathe again (almost four hours to the minute that I gave him the 4-hour cold medicine!). I got T to climb in bed with the three of us. So, there I was, wide awake at 5:30 in the morning, trying to sleep in between three sick people. After about ten minutes of that, I realized that I wasn’t in the most healthy position in the world. R was asleep, but T was awake, so I got him up and settled in the living room watching “Winnie the Pooh.”

As I was unloading the dishwasher (it was as good as time as any!) R came in to watch TV too. I took R’s temperature and it was 102 degrees (I knew he felt hot!). I gave him some more Tylenol and got him out of his fleece jammies into some light cotton ones (I learned to do this from my Aunt Patty). Then, I got a load of laundry in the washer and folded the load that was in the dryer. T felt like breakfast – two packages of peaches n cream oatmeal – but R didn’t want any. I got R to drink some Capri Sun to keep him hydrated and went and showered and got dressed for my day. So, after being up most of the night, officially awake for two hours…unloading the dishwasher, doing a load of laundry, feeding one boy, playing nurse to two boys…and giving M a kiss to wake up, I left to go to work to tackle a four-hour meeting and whatever project was next. All in a morning’s work!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Eleven Deer and One Barking Dog

Mackinaw has developed this big-dog bark within the last week. As I was clearing the dinner dishes, she started barking like there was no tomorrow. She proceeded to run from one window to the next, barking and barking. As I was doing the dishes, I would absently say “no bark” with a quasi-stern voice. After about five minutes, I realized that she was really barking up a storm. So, I looked out the window and to my surprise, there were tons of deer coming out of the woods into our backyard. Normally, we get about three or four deer at a time. Once we had eight. Tonight, there were eleven. No wonder she was barking! I decided that it’s okay to bark when there are eleven deer in the back yard, so I didn’t tell her to stop anymore.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day with the Family

I like Valentine’s day now. When I was single, I didn’t like it so much. Now, as a wife and mom, it’s pretty fun. M sent me a dozen roses at work, which is so sweet. They smell so good. R made a beautiful valentine in kindergarten. He took a heart template and sponge-painted around it with red paint. Then, he glued his picture in the middle. It’s just adorable. He gave it to both me and M, but he said that I can take it to work and put it on my wall. After we opened the valentine from R, M whispered something to T. The next thing I knew, T brought out a valentine gift bag full of little gifts from all the boys (M, R, and T). There was bubble bath, soap, Hershey kisses, and a cool beaded-lanyard for my badge at work. Then I gave M his valentine’s day present from me. (I must say that after I got the roses at work and then saw another present at home, I was worried that I didn’t do enough.) T passed out the beautiful valentines that he made with crayons and stickers.

I got M a book about lighthouses on Lake Michigan. He really likes lighthouses and I gave him a miniature Chicago lighthouse for our first valentine’s day. This book has the history of all of the lighthouses on the lake and lots of pictures (even of some that aren’t around anymore.) He said that he likes it a lot.

It was a nice day.

Oh, I forgot to say that it started off with me making the kids a special Valentine’s day breakfast – pink milk and waffles (Eggo) with strawberry preserves and whipped cream. A yummy start to a nice day.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Good to be Home

I've been travelling a lot lately. Three weeks ago I went to NY and LA. Last week I went to Miami. This week I went to Philly. That's a lot of plane trips! I was only gone two nights each time. I hate being away from the family, so I try to only be gone two nights. That often means really long nights for me to get all the work done and get on a plane. But, I'd rather make it harder on me than on the family. M is really good about it. He knows that I don't want to do it and it isn't any fun for me. When I got back from Philly on Thurs night, he and the kids picked me up at the airport. It made my heart so happy to see their shiny faces in the baggage claim area. It's so nice to be home with my family. I won't have to travel for another four weeks, which is very good.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Snow Good For Skipping

Today we went to a nearby recreational area. It has three lakes and lots of walking paths. Of course, the lakes are frozen during this time of year. We saw some ice fishermen on one of the lakes. We took Makinaw so that she could get her excercise for the day. (We've learned that if we give her a lot of excercise during the day, she's alot better behaved in the evening.) When we first got there, we just drove around to get the lay of the land. Our first stop was at one of the lakes. We all got out and started sludging through the snow to get close to the lake. Makinaw was on a leash, which she didn't like too much. But, M gave her a lot of lead and she was able to sniff around as much as she wanted to. When we got to the lake, we gingerly stepped out and started walking on the frozen ice. T said, "I can't believe that we're walking on the lake! Can you believe that we're walking on the lake?" We walked around on the ice a bit, trying not to slide around too much. M and I decided to head off of the lake and walk on more solid (but actually softer) ground. R didn't want to leave the lake. He really thought it was cool to walk on water.

We piled back into the car, after promising T that we weren't going home yet and drove around the camp ground. As we drove around, we got pretty excited about the summer time. There are lots of camp sites with lots of trees, all with fire pits and picnic tables. The campground is near one of the lakes and seems to have a nice beach (it's hard to tell, though, when it's all covered with snow.) We then drove to the big lake, which has the biggest beach. We piled out again and headed off towards the "beach". T got out and started skipping on the snow. He said that he was happy that it was skipping snow. I know exactly what he meant. Most of the snow is really soft and we'd sink down six inches with each step. In this area, the snow had a bit of crust on top, from being so cold earlier in the week. He appreciated the solid surface so that he could continue improving his skipping technique.

We could tell we hit the beach when there were some melted patches of snow that showed sand underneath. T was very happy to see that there were some pretty rocks at the beach, so he proceeded to begin searching for the "smoothest, prettiest rock ever!" We all had fun looking at the frozen lake and all the trees around, just picturing what it would be like in the summer. You could hear us saying, "I bet that they sell snacks in that building" and "we could probably bring our beach ball here too." After walking along the beach, we headed up the hill where there was a big picnic area. The boys and I needed a rest at the top of the hill, so we sat on top of the picnic tables and pretended that we were kings and queens, and princes. M and Makinaw didn't take a break -- they went into the brush and practiced "hunting birds". No, there were no birds and there were no guns, but they practiced anyway.

While we were heading back to the car, we saw two people on horses riding towards us. I yelled to M to get the dog back on the leash so she wouldn't spook the horses. Just after I said that, the man on the horse yelled to us "don't worry about that dog. Our horses have been raised with dogs. She won't bother them a bit." The man and woman on the horses stopped and chatted with us for a bit, which was a nice treat. We were able to pet the nice horses. R told them that his aunt's friend has a horse too.

M made it to the car first and started playing catch with Makinaw. Then R joined in by throwing the "bird" so that Makinaw could fetch it. T and I found one last treasure rock to take home.

It was a really nice family day for the Smiths :>