Monday, September 29, 2008

Reconnecting with old friends

One of our NICU friends ran into another mom we knew from our time in the NICU. They had basically dropped off the face of the earth after going home. There had been sightings, and we knew they had another baby, since they had another (short) NICU stay with the second baby.

I've often wondered about this mom. She gave birth to twins at 25 weeks. One twin survived, and the other did not. They had a long stay in the NICU too, and when they left, we hoped they would stay in touch. I often wondered how she did it. She didn't have time to grieve for her dead baby because she had another one fighting for his life. She had to muster up all of her positive energy to give to Tanner so he could fight to survive.

As a parent with a child that spent time in the NICU, I think you will forever wonder what happened to all of those babies you spent time with. You worry about them. Especially when you don't hear about how they are doing.

So, it was FANTASTIC to spend the morning seeing and playing with Tanner and his brother Peyton. Tanner is doing so well, he has some issues with eating, (sounded REALLY familiar) but developmentally, and physically, he's doing GREAT.

I didn't do a great job with the pictures, but, you try to get four toddlers in the same frame.
I forgot to post pictures with the apple picking post so here are a few just because.

How can it be fall its 90 degrees outside, or Ryan and Evan go apple picking

One of my mommy friends suggested we take a trip to the Raven Hill Orchard for some apple picking. They have dwarf trees so the fruit is at toddler level.

We told the boys Friday night that Saturday we were going to go apple picking. On Saturday, we woke up to a chorus of "Apple pick-ing, ap-ple pick-ing"

All the way to the mountains, we heard "Ap-ple pick-ing, Ap-ple pick-ing" and from Evan, "First pick ap-ples, then wash them, then eat them, then make pie!"

We picked about 14 pounds of apples, in less than an hour. The boys had a blast picking apples, eating them right from the trees, and running up and down the rows after rows of trees.

This was really a fun activity for the whole family. I highly recommend it to families, or just to people who want to get out and pick some apples. If we get through our 14 pounds sometime before the harvest is over, we'll be heading out to do this again.

As I cut up apples for lunch today, I was serenaded with our new favorite song..."Ap-ple pick-king, ap-ple pick-ing"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ket Moo

It's no secret that the boys love music. We've tried to expose them to all genres, and especially not to just kids music. There is no Raffi in this house. That's why the boys love songs from the Grateful Dead, America, Five for Fighting, Coldplay, Leonard Cohen, Journey, Lyle Lovett, and the Beatles. We've also found lots of great music geared toward kids, the kids love it and it doesn't make their parents ears bleed. Some of our favorites include Putumayo Kids, Hullabaloo, and Grisman and Garcia.

Grammie sent us a CD from a great blues/rock/jazz/pop fusion artist Keb' Mo geared toward families and kids. It was a big hit. Now the boys are asking to listen to Ket Moo, and when we put it on, this is what breaks loose.

*Sorry for the poor video quality. It was still a bit dark in the house and I just grabbed my still camera to capture the moment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New adventures

Another mom friend of mine suggested that we try classes at a local animal shelter. I had no idea that they had classes like this for little ones. This week was horses. The boys really enjoyed themselves. They used miniature horses so the kids weren't intimidated by huge animals. They each got to pet, groom and feed a horse. We did a craft, talked about some of the things horses are used for, (did you know there are seeing eyed horses?) and had a chance to interact with the horses. All in all it was a good experience. It's a good thing since we are signed up for reptiles, dogs and farm animals in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

We also tried out a new place that teaches little ones foreign languages. They do Chinese, French and Spanish. We signed up for a free trial class in Spanish. Let's say, not the most successful class we've ever tried.

First, it was total immersion. The teacher only spoke to them in Spanish. Which is great, I really think this is a great way to learn a language. But part of my hesitation is my boys are still acquiring language. They seemed utterly confused. I'm sure after a few weeks they'd get the hang of it, but I felt like it was wrong...I can't really explain.

I firmly believe that the boys should be exposed to foreign languages as early as possible, however when they are still asking what everything is, is it really right for me or their teacher to only tell them what it is in Spanish? I mean, really, is this the right way? In my gut I feel that we should say the word in English, and then in Spanish, and then exclusively in Spanish.

Second, the class was too long, the kids got bored, the segments within the class were too long, the kids got really restless.

Third, its really expensive. A hundred bucks a month. Times two.

I just don't feel right about it. I'm going to keep looking for the right program. This wasn't it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life lived fully

This past weekend I went to the memorial service for my friend that passed away a few weeks ago. It was a lovely event with more than a hundred people in attendance. There were people from all aspects of Albert's life. Friends he met in the 7th grade, friends from high school, friends from college, friends from after college, friends from poker, friends from sea kayaking, friends from polo, friends from a social group, friends from a charity he volunteered with.

We had a number of speakers who told stories. We had a 3 hour paddle. (to scatter some of his ashes in the Bay) We had a long, laughter filled dinner. We had ice cream. All things Albert would have loved doing with us.

For me there were a couple of things said that day that struck me. Hit me hard, made me stop and think.

Albert's brother Tom said that he asked Albert shortly after his initial diagnosis if there was anything he wanted to do with his remaining time. Albert's response was no, he'd pretty much done everything he wanted.

How many of us can say the same thing? How many of us in 45 years have lived their lives fully, with no regrets, so that if we found out tomorrow we were dying, we would just be content to live our our remaining days just like we had before we were diagnosed?

Albert had his life set up so he had the means to live the way he wanted, to go and do some of the things that most of us can only dream about. But I think each of us can find small ways to live like there is no tomorrow. Now I'm not suggesting some list of things to do before you die, but making conscious decisions to take the long way home, or to eat that steak if it's what you really want, or to say screw the housework, I'm going to sit and play with my kids. It's those choices that might make tomorrow a little harder, or cause you to have to work out a little extra, but really, isn't it worth it to live your life fully and end it, whenever, without regrets?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A little deception can't hurt, right?

So, we've been reading the Harry Potter series to the boys before bed every night for a while now. Ryan and I are done with it and have been for about a week. I suggested we read Eragon, or as I told him, the Dragon Book. That brought tears the first night, so I re-read the last chapter and he was happy.

I love the Harry Potter books, and I've read all of them several times. I'm really not ready to re-read them a mere 6 months after I started Book I with Ryan. I've suggested other options, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, The Princess Bride, Grimm's Fairy Tales, nope, tears.

I decided to practice a little deception with the little man, and I'm starting to feel a little bad about it. I wrapped Eragon in one of the Harry Potter book jackets and have been reading it to Ryan ever since.

The first night after I started reading, he looked at the book a couple of times, and I think he even asked once "Harry Potter?" I continued to deceive and told him to put his head down, and said "yes, Harry Potter".

This can't scar him for life can it?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I hear the half years are the toughest

I'm reading a book on "Your Two Year Old" and it talks about how half years are tough. Kids are super, wonderful creatures when they turn full years, but when they hit the half year, they are crazy, uncontrollable, monsters. (okay that was a bit strong, but, let's just say they are not easy to deal with)

The boys are almost two and a half. Today we had one of those days. One of those monstrous days.

Before 7:45 this morning, we had 5 time outs. Three for Ryan and two for Evan. In reality, it was five in like 15 minutes. Ryan hit Evan. During the apology, Evan hit Ryan. It went on like this until it was me hitting my head on the wall.

Then after OT we went for a walk around the lake and even after going over the rules...hold my hand, listen, do not run away from Mommy. We were not there for 5 minutes and both boys took off in opposite directions. That cut our walk extremely short.

We got home and I wanted to wash off their shoes. All of their shoes were really dirty and could use a quick wash. During the time I emptied the car of 6 pairs of shoes, and got them into the sink to scrub, Ryan proceeded to howl. Endlessly. I job that should have taken 10 minutes at best was now verging on 30 minutes. I kept trying to get him to calm down. Take deep breaths. Relax, go read a book or something for just a few minutes, so I could finish this task. No such luck. He was now telling me, at about 10:30 that he was ready for lunch. He just had a very large snack and hour before, he couldn't be hungry.

I decided to let him wait a few more minutes while I finished washing the shoes. I heard him cry, and cry, and cry. I once again asked him to take a deep breath and comfort himself. I few minutes later, there was silence. Whew, okay, I put a load of laundry in to the dryer and came back out to the living room. There was Ryan passed out cold on the living room floor. Sound. Asleep.

Ryan's been sleeping like a champ, 4 hour naps, 11 hours at night, he woke up at 6 this morning, he should not have been this tired, this early.

I honestly don't know what is going on with him. The last couple of days he's been ready for lunch at 10:30 and ready to nap at 11. He then wants dinner at 4 and his snack at 6:30 and sound asleep at 7:15. He is so off schedule.

Of course, since he had a cat nap, he only slept for a short time and then wanted to get up. He then proceeded to cry every time I left the room for the next two hours. Our teacher was here and he was a peach, and as soon as she left, the wailing began again. It continued until Scott got home a little after 6. By 6:50 he was again crying to eat, and go to bed.

If this is how my days are going to be, times two, for the next 7 months...I think I'm going to need some earplugs and some medication.

I did a bad, bad thing

Almost two years ago I lost my beloved Samson. He was my first true love. He was my cat and only my cat. He tolerated Scott. I still miss him every day.

So, I'm a bit of a softy when it comes to cats.

A few days ago a little gray cat showed up in our back yard. The boys were thrilled to see the Kitty Cat and the Mom who wants to please her little boys kicked in. I grabbed a can of tuna out of the pantry and put it down outside the door to keep the cat around for a while so the boys could say "Hi Kitty Cat" a thousand times. The cat loved it. (naturally) The boys loved it. (naturally) And now, um, she's been back every day since. Today she spent almost the entire day in our yard. I know she must have a home because she is very friendly, and really wants to come in to the house.

I'm afraid she's adopted us as a second family.

I guess it's a good thing that my craving for fish lead me to purchase 3 pounds of salmon and a huge pack of tuna fish the last time I was at CostCo.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And we were worried they would never talk

Okay, we still worry about every other little thing, but lately, Evan has just been a TALKING MACHINE.

Here's a sampling of some of his more impressive (funny to me) sentences/phrases.

  • To Ryan at breakfast: "Let toast cool down, then eat"
  • To Ryan and Me in the car: "Daddy be right back, just run in, he get donuts for Mommy and Daddy"
  • While dragging his parachute around the house: "motorboat, motorboat go so fast"
  • Explaining to me what happened when he awoke from his nap crying, and I did not hear him because I was working out: "Evan turn off monitor, cry, climb out of bed"
  • While pointing to a quarter note: "quarter-note"
  • While getting spit all over his chin: "Eighttththhthh note"
  • Singing with a balled up scarf or clothes, or stuffed animals in his hand: "All around ca-ca bench, monkey chase weasel, monkey thought it was fun, POP goes weasel"
  • Singing again: "are you sleeping, are you sleeping, bra-bra, morning bells ringing"
  • Singing even more: "Bye bye Evan, Bye bye Evan, time for you to go home."
  • While holding said dragonfly: "Dragonfly went to beach, now Evan has" (and yes, the dragonfly was in our bag of beach toys and was found there on Saturday)
  • During diaper changes: "Evan, Ry-ry have prize poops" (surprise poops) or "Evan, Ry-Ry no prize poops, just pee-pee"
  • Generally, any time, any place: "When Daddy come home, then read car book with you!" (Both boys say this as the "car book" is our favorite right now)
It's so great because he is starting to express his opinions, and tell me things that are happening, in real sentences, not just one word grunts that I then interpret to mean one thing or another.

Remind me I said all that when all I want someday is peace and quiet.

**(Ryan seems to be feeling much better, aside from FOUR HOUR naps, there are no other symptoms and his fever is long gone)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Bounce

One of the great things about my boys is they bounce back so fast.

Ryan did not wake up at all after 10:30 last night. He woke up this morning at 7. He was cheery and bright eyed and his fever with no meds in 12 hours was only 101.

Ryan was so sweet and pitiful yesterday I told him this morning that I would get him a special treat. (I'd already planned on getting the boys some more track and a couple of trains for their train set, and I thought that this would be a fantastic day to do this.) He was so excited about getting to pick out a new train that he picked up his Snoopy and wanted to leave as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

We had to stop at Target first, and it was there that I experienced the two sides of humans. Ryan and Evan were munching on Cheerios. At least Ryan was, Evan had some in his mouth, he coughed, and made that noise that I know all too well. I knew he was going to throw up. I rushed around the corner to one of the Scanning/Paper towel/trash stations that they have every few isles. Sadly I was a moment too late. Evan thew up all over himself, and the stroller, and part of the Target floor. I pulling paper towels out frantically, trying to catch the second round, wiping, attempting to catch what I could as fast as I could when some lady (and I use that only as gender identification, not as an indication of her manners) came up with a bunch of things she wanted to scan. I said sorry if I'm in your way here but I've got a bit of a crisis. Meanwhile some kid (I use this loosely too, he was probably mid 20's) muttered something and walked by. I did not really pay attention.

The "Lady" was still trying to maneuver around me to the scanner. She then started talking to me like I should get the heck out of her way.
"You should take him to the bathroom to do that"she sneered.
"Um, I'm just trying to get this mess under control." I muttered wiping yet more vomit off my child.
"Yeah, but it would be easier and out of the way in the bathroom"


I have an unlimited supply of paper towels, and a trash can right here at my disposal. I also can contain the mess to this one square foot of Target floor. You really think I should wheel my puke dripping stroller all the way through the store? Anyone who has cleaned up child vomit knows, the faster you get the wet up, the easier life is. Let all the vomit on Evan's lap drip into the cushions of the stroller, and well, that would be the absolute end of our shopping today. (and therefore no train for poor Ryan)

She kept getting into my space, and my face about the bathroom, when finally I just had to say.
"Really, it's none of your business, please just leave us alone"

Just about then, the the kid returned, he had a pack of wipes. He said, "I already took care of this up front". And then he talked to the boys and said here you go buddy, and he handed each of the boys a wipe and told them to help their Mommy clean up. He then handed me the rest of the pack, finished his shopping and on his way out of the aisle he said. "I hope you feel better buddy"

Wow. I thanked this kid a bunch of times, but I really wanted to thank his mother, or whoever taught him to be kind, thoughtful and compassionate, to look at someone in need of help, and to help them. Not sneer at them and tell them to get out of their way and go find the bathroom so you didn't have to walk two aisles down to use one of the 40 other scanners in the building.

What a crappy and a really amazingly redeeming experience.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The season hasn't even started yet!

So we are in the pre-season, and our post season lasted longer than what seems to be normal, how could it be that we already have our first sickness of the 2008-09 cold and flu season?

Ryan woke up at midnight last night with a fever. Today is spiked to 103.8. Did you know that in toddlers that is considered a MILD fever? 103.8 MILD? The doctors told me to watch him carefully and if it gets over 105 or if it lasts more than 3 days (3 DAYS!!!) to call them back.

I feel so bad for him, he slept all of about 3 hours last night (oh that was me), and has been awake 3 times already tonight. We read books from 1PM to 3:30 PM today, with Ryan's head in my lap, Snoopys tucked under his arms.

If we are down this early in the season...look out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I think I threw up a little in my mouth

I had one of those mornings. A morning that every mommy fears, or at least hopes never happens to them...

Lately we've taken to removing our diapers, or our brother's diapers. (you know where I'm going with this right?) I'm a 99% of the time 100% attentive parent, so, this is not a big, big deal. Diapers removed get put right back on.

Today I was getting dressed, so we could go here...

I stopped in the laundry room to throw a load in, and I heard Evan say the following in rapid fire succession

"Ry-Ry, nakey boy"
"Ry-Ry, bum"
"Ry-Ry, run 'round, Nakey boy"
"Evan poop"
"Evan go poop"

I made it to the living room in time to catch an overwhelming whiff of poop, (So strong I knew, it was not neatly contained within a diaper.) and to see Ryan streaking around the room from couch to couch, naked, as I had expected given the play-by-play. I caught Ryan, found his bum clean, slapped a diaper on him hoping he was just gassy. Turned around, to Evan, who now had his diaper off, feet, legs and bum full of poop.

(hands over face, quickly think, think, think)

I swooped him up, careful not to get poop on my clothes or self. Tossed him in the empty tub, told him to stay put. Ran back to the living room and collected the books, and toys that had any speck or smear of poop on them left them in the hallway, safe from Ryan, and ran back to clean up the small smear on the carpet. The clean carpets that I spent three and a half hours vacuuming and shampooing on Saturday. (argh)

Evan was still standing patiently in the tub. What a good boy. I washed him off thoroughly. Diapered him put him back into the living room to attend to the toys.

Whew, all that action, and it was still only 9:15. We were dressed, sunscreen applied, in the car and off to have fun by 9:40.

The boys are now sleeping, with tape firmly securing their diapers.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gibbly Up

Recently the boys have been sitting on the arm of the sofa, hopping up and down, pretending to ride a horse. I'm not sure where they got this idea, but it's pretty cute.

Tonight I remembered that one of my former co-workers gave us a ride on rocking horse. The boys were scared of before, but it's been a while since I brought it out. It was a hit. See for your self.

I guess there are no cell phone laws for riding horses.

Evan is saying giddy-up, which comes out as "Gibbly up"

They are getting the "yee haw" from "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain" I think.

I swear, endless sources of laughter...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Finally under one roof

Two years ago today. We brought Ryan home from his 152 day stay at Chez NICU. 152 days, 3,648 hours, 218,880 minutes, give or take. and our family was finally under one roof. Our own.

It was a long time coming, there were so many of those minutes where even imagining this day would come felt dangerous. Like we were tempting fate. But those same thoughts, of coming home, being a family, were what got us through all of those 152 days.

Those last few weeks were tough. One moment we'd be planning on coming home, and the next moment, Ryan would need to be bagged, and our homecoming would be postponed. When we finally got the okay we wondered had we waited long enough since his last "episode"?

"Aunt" Peggy was there on our last day. She got one more cuddle in with both boys...
Loaded us in the car...
and sent us on our way home...
Once home, my boys found their comfort zone...

My confidence was shaken, the very next day. On our way to the doctor's office. Literally two blocks from our house. Ryan's monitor went off. I looked in my rear view mirror and he was blue. Not just dusky, but blue verging on purple, verging on black. I honestly don't remember how I pulled the car over without causing a major accident, but I did. I hopped out and started trying to stimulate him, he did not respond. I was screaming at him. rubbing his chest. screaming at my mom to get the oxygen. I finally had the idea to loosen his car seat straps. I think I was going to try and get him out, or try to get my hands in there to some how make him breathe. Once the straps came loose, so did breath. He pinked up quickly. I however stayed pale for days.

Thankfully that was our only real "episode." Both boys continued to breathe regularly and the monitors were virtually silent.

Here's what Ryan's been saying:
Play trucks please
Play cars please
Play choo choo please
Car book please (anyone sense a theme?)
Gold bug book
Read please
po-po bear
ice water please
more grapes
oh no ri-ley

I think one of the greatest things I've seen between these boys happened the other day. I was busy trying to get dinner packed up, and Ryan really wanted me to play choo choo's, he kept asking and I kept explaining to him that I had to get dinner packed because we were going to leave in a few minutes. I then told him he had two choices. he could play choo, choo's by himself, or he could ask Evan to play with him. He turned around squatted down in front of Evan, and said to him. "play choo choo" he then grabbed him by the hand, pulled him up and into the other room to play choo choo's.

He's also had an accidental poop in the potty this week. We were getting ready for bath, he had a poop in his pants, and I thought there was more to come, so I put him on the potty. He sat there for a few moments, stood up, left me a present on the floor, and managed to get the rest into the potty. Yeaaa, Ryan!!!

Since coming home two years ago, Ryan has brought us more joy than I can ever express. He has a way about him, a quiet, wry smile. There is a glint in his eyes that tell me I have to be on my toes at all times with him. he is the sweetest most compassionate being I have ever met. He's determined, and persistent, and relentless. (I wonder where he gets that?) He is full of emotion, full of mischief, full of wonder.

And we are a house filled with love.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A thousand words

I could write volumes about our really fun family vacation, but I'll let the pictures do the talking...