Friday, November 30, 2007

Reasons to be Thankful

Nick's sisters and brother-in-law-to-be came for a Thanksgiving visit and it was truly TRULY wonderful. We had such a great time. Lots of fun family time, pie cooking (and eating!), board games, dinner out, cocktails, sightseeing and so much more. Gosh we had a great weekend! It ended all too soon.

I am thankful for singing really loud in the car while my sister-in-law snaps a pic of my silliness.

I am thankful for my sister-in-law Ava and our soon-to-be brother-in-law, but nonetheless still referred to as, Uncle Joe. Seriously one of the best guys ever. Nice work, Madelyn! ;)

I am thankful for table settings and the people that we were so lucky to have grace them.

I am thankful for family hugs and that our visiting Southerners were as crazy about our kids as we are.

Kate is very grateful for a plethora of ornaments for the tree - as evidenced by her slightly insane ornamental overload expression on her face! :)

More Reasons to Give Thanks

We are thankful for river sunsets. Here we have Joe, Mad and the rest of us standing by the St. Croix river in Stillwater, MN....a beautiful and quaint riverside town. We went browsing through antique stores and bookshops - a great afternoon!

Kate is thankful for her Uncle Joe and for our aquarium membership. Here we see Uncle Joe and his number one admirer, Kate, at the aquarium. They are members of the mutual admiration society.

Kate and Liam are thankful for their cool Auntie Madelyn and for merry-go-rounds. Mad took Kate and Liam on the Carousel with her. Such a great Auntie!

I am thankful for cuteness.

We are now the proud owners of.....

At-home medical equipment!!!! C'mon, now, are you really surprised to see a post relating to some sort of health ailment?! I told a friend today that if our house were not so old, I might consider investigating to see if it was built on the former site of some sort of toxic waste dump with how healthy we have all been lately! :)

But it is true, we are now the owners of one "Nebulizer". In fact, the reason I have not posted about all of our wonderful Thanksgiving activities is because the past three days have been spent in a rather sleepless fashion with several trips to the doctor because Liam apparently has Asthma. The little guy started wheezing and whistling a few days ago - it was not like croup, and was not quite a cold. My instincts told me it COULD be asthma....coupled with the fact that Patrick had asthma when he was little so it just all sounded familiar. I did not express my suspicion to the doctor because I did not want him to think I was some loony mom who overreacted. But after he listened to Liam's chest he raised the possibility himself. Long story short, Liam had to have a breathing treatment at the pediatrician today and we were sent home with our very own machine and a massive supply of albuterol (spelling?). In fact, I am up right now because Nick and I just had to give him another treatment as Liam awoke gasping and wheezing from his sleep.

It is REALLY hard to give a 20 month old a breathing treatment. It is pretty basic stuff as far as operation goes. A tiny mask emits a very fine cool mist for about 10 minutes. He does not even have to have the mask strapped on to his face, but I have to hold it close enough to his face so that this mist drifts up into his airways. Easier said than done. The compressor makes a very loud noise and Liam writhes around and swats at the mask constantly. He is also, shall we say, very loud in his protests. Eventually we will all get the hang of it and hopefully Liam will realize how fast it makes him feel better and he will learn to cope better. Poor little guy.

So - asthma. Pretty common, but kind of a bummer. We have to wait and see how it progresses and what his "triggers" are. It could just be the sudden change from chilly to frigid. He does not have smoke exposure or stuffed animals in his bed. I have always had allergy barriers on the mattresses etc. Who knows where this stuff comes from, right? Maybe he will just get it once a year, maybe it will be more frequent. Whatever happens, it is manageable.

An interesting coincidence is - my study at Yale was all about Asthma in adolescents. Mostly we focused on it in minority and urban youth populations......I just realized that I am full of stats about asthma and the socio-economic impact of treatments in urban and underprivileged youth. I can tell you about spirometer readings in the Hartford Public School district. Guess I need to brush up on some other details as a Mommy, though! :)

I will post fun pics from the holiday weekend soon. We all had such a WONDERFUL visit with Nick's sisters Ava, Madelyn and her fiancee - the wonderful Joe. It was awesome.

I leave you with a funny story about Kate:

Today in the car we were singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". We were singing together and as the end of the song approached, I decided to jazz up the is hard to translate in typing, but I kind of made it a big band kind of finish..."Santa Claus is coming, you know that Santa is coming! Oh Santa....big Santa is coming tooooooooooo" (I am crescendoing here and have a lot of jazzy feeling in the voice) Kate interjects with a VERY loud and emphatic "NO NO NO MOM!!!!! NO MOM!!!! DOOOON"T!!!!!!! DON'T DO A BIG FINISH!!!!!!!!!" I literally almost choked with laughter. I asked her "No big finish, huh? What's a big finish?" She goes "YOU KNOW! What you were DOING! When you get all loud and change the words and make it all long and taking forever at the end....THAT is a big finish. Don't DO that, MOM!!!!!!!!!!"

Well, pardon me! No Judy Garland moments for me, I guess. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I am Running Out of Words for "Cute"

Liam is so much fun. He is really just the sweetest boy. He is so happy and pleasant and fun. He absolutely loves cars and trains and rocketships and airplanes. He spends most of his playtime pushing around some sort of transportation vehicle and making appropriate accompanying sound effects. His vocabulary is increasing pretty rapidly now (as is often the case, Kate had been doing much of Liam's talking for him - informing me of his every need and when I am working on language with him, she tends to jump in and yell the answer before he can respond, just to let me know how smart she still is! :) Anyway, here are just a few of Liam's little sayings....

- Whenever he does something that may cause him dismay, such as drop his yogurt on the floor or pull all the books off the shelf, he follows it up when a long, drawn out, disappointed "Ooooohhhhh, Liiiaaaammmmmm"

- Cars = Cahs ; Train = Twain ; Fish = Whoosh ; Please take this or May I have that = Have? ; Please = pwweeeaaaassssseeee ; Yogurt = gogurt ; Buzz Lightyear (he is a big "Toy Story" fan) = BUZZZZZZ!!!!! (always yelled) ; Trucks = Trust ; Thank you = Teak-choo ; Books = bux ; If he has a wet diaper he points to it and says "Kinkles" (variation on tinkles) ; the bathroom is "bahfwoom" and he loves to brush his teeth so he will point to the bathroom and say "bahfwoom, teeeeef, pweaaaassse" and then point to his teeth.

He is just a sweetheart. I adore him.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh Deer

Do you know that in Minnesota it is the general norm for many men to take one full week of their annual allotted two week's vacation time and go travel north wearing camoflauge and hunting orange to go sit in a box on stilts or crouch in bushes for a week straight with their buddies while they wait for a doe or buck to frolic by to get their year's worth of venison?

I personally don't have anything against hunting. Man has been hunting forever and we exist today because of it (I will probably get some PETA flag now and get emails explaining that humans were actually more gatherers than hunters and the human body can exist on soy alone and deer have feelings too.) NO offense to vegetarians and vegans of the world...kudos to you, in fact, for that kind of discipline! But I just really don't care if there is hunting season....hunting is fine by me.

But I am annoyed by it - from the human perspective, not the deer's perspective. Here's my beef - or venison - - - FIRST of all, my contractor just did not show up for a week. Did not tell me so. Just bailed. Why? Because he was sitting in a tree waiting to get a 6 pointer. That is really annoying. For God's sake CALL me and tell me you are going on vacay. After a week of no shows and cell phone tag (he only got random service up north) I finally spoke to him and just called him on being hunting all week. At least he did not lie. I cannot believe how this state literally shuts down. You know it is deer opener when you go to Menards on a Saturday to buy stuff for a remodel and the parking lot is completely empty. I went to the lumber place with one of the guys last week for one hour and his blackberry kept going was his hunting buddies who were texting their kills to him. He would exclaim "GEEZ that 8 pointer should have been MINE!!!! I should be THERE!!!! I found that clearing!!!!!!" At one point I actually said to him, "Um, excuse me, I am RIGHT HERE. Let's just get this done and you can get back to shooting, ok?"

SECOND, with literally 650,000 registered hunters (estimates say 500,000 go hunting during the opener) is there anyone left that is NOT hunting (other than Nick?). It is not like Minnesota is a hugley populous state. I was literally invited to three different "hunting widows" parties last week. I guess I just need a bit more time to acclimate to this. I mean - I can see the appeal of it! I do not view it with distaste or look down on it. I just don't understand it enough I guess. I can certainly see going once and it being very cool hanging out in nature....Minnesota is stunningly beautiful and after our trip north this summer I could easily see passing a whole day sitting and enjoying the scenery and peace (interrupted by occassional gunfire), watching the animals and feeling the anticipation - though personally I could not shoot one. Too pretty! But I would also fear for my life....

With half a million people with guns and bows hiding in the bushes and trees in the dusky light I just don't think I would feel very safe, even if I had a blinding orange hat on. I am too much of a control freak to trust others not to be stupid and accidentally shoot me. Literally every day since opener there is a story on the news about someone getting shot and/or killed while hunting. One guy decided to walk across a field without wearing his orange vest, dressed in cammo, holding a life size deer decoy. One guy aimed for a deer, missed, and the bullet hit his brother in the leg right across the glade from him. If hundreds of thousands of people are tucked here, there and everywhere, might a stray bullet hurt? Do they only give licenses to sure shots?

Admittedly, I don't know a lot about it. I looked it up and it actually seems pretty complicated to get a permit and you can only "bag" so many depending on where and how you hunt etc. It is well regulated and all that. I am just annoyed by the hoopla and the fact that people seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to be working for someone and then leave with no notice to go off ANYWHERE for a week. I am sure that many hunters follow the proper channels and ask for time off or give a heads up....but not all, as I can attest.

I just think of being at my job, leaving Friday, smiling when people say "See you next week!" but not really acknowledging them. Then I just hop a flight to New York City and spend a week seeing broadway shows, going to museums, shopping and eating amazing food and going to spas with my girlfriends all while cleverly evading direct phone contact with my job. That would be MY ideal bonding week. How would that go over with the boss? I guess the deer hunters would not understand the broadway baby as much as the broadway baby misunderstands the deer hunters. Oh well. Oh deer.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fall Back...

From exhaustion! I remember our "single" days, or time before kids when the day that all the clocks turned back for Daylight Savings was actually fun in a strange way. Bars stayed open later! You could get "another hour of sleep" they say! With children in the picture "fall back" day becomes the longest day ever. Especially when you have kids on a "schedule" - and I guess I did not realize how predictable some of our actions were time-wise until today. First, you don't get more sleep because they wake up at the same time, only now the clock reads 6am instead of 7am, so psychologically you are muddled from the get-go. Then they start to get cranky around 11:30 for what seems like no reason. REALLY cranky. Then one of them starts to cry out "Eat! Eat!" and you realize that, according to their body clocks, they should have eaten by now because it is 12:30 to their tummies and food usually happens by 12:00. By 12:45 new time, they get cranky AGAIN because their bodies are saying that naps should have begun by now. Same confusion at dinner time. By 6:30pm the parent is looking at her watch wondering if it is bedtime yet (because the internal clock says 7:30) only to realize that she still has 90 minutes left. Sure, we could just let it go, but the way our life runs does not really work with a 5pm dinner and a 7pm bedtime....the kids would never see Nick with his work hours that way. So it is better to tough it out right away and just deal with it. But gosh it was a long, cranky day. Who knew one little hour could make such a difference! I almost think it would be easier to jump 5 time zones than to make such a minute adjustment. Well....maybe not, with all due respect to my international friends with kids who travel time zones often! :)

Maybe I am just tired from a great busy weekend, instead. Nick has been painting the new bathroom/hallway walls all weekend. Also we got the yard and garden mostly winterized today. I pulled up all the annual coleus and some bushes that did not make it through the dry summer. I deadheaded the perennials pruned the cherry tree for winter, raked all the leaves in the yard and got the perennials ready to be burlapped to try to save them this year from the rabbits and squirrels on the coldest of days. Nick finished up putting dirt back around the new patio and prepping it for seeding and winter fertilizing. I am always so pleasantly rejuvinated after working in the yard! It is so therapeutic and I enjoy it so much. I am learning, so we will see what makes it through this winter.

Also, Nick and I actually went on a DATE last night! We went to a great Tapas place and had some amazing Spanish tapas and beverages. Then we went to a concert - a band called Stars, that is so excellent, and a Norweigan guy named "Magnet" opened for them with nothing but a guitar, a soundboard and his gorgeous voice and it was awesome. Then we headed to Brit's pub for a bit before heading home. It was so nice to get out just the two of us! The kids were super for the sitter! Now we look forward to a week of hopefully big progress on the bathroom. Should get the tile and the wainscoting in. I love my floor tile and cannot wait to see how it looks!

OK - this post is pretty darn boring, I must say. I have talked about clocks, paint, food, and dirt. Woo. I live a life of insane excitement!

Happy Fall Back Day!

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Kate and Liam had a great Halloween. Kate loved her Snow Princess outfit. Nick, however, is ready to sit on the porch with a big stick after I heard one of the boys at school tell Kate "you look beautful, Kate, like Queen Amadala from Star Wars". Now, being compared to Natalie Portman is one heck of a compliment, but none of us were prepared for it at age four!!! Also, a Mom at preschool told me this week that her son came home from school and told her he wanted to marry Kate. Sheesh.

Anyway, all that aside, Halloween was pretty wonderful! Liam was a puppy and I could not stop snuggling him in his outfit. He had a great time and for some reason called every pumpkin that he saw a "bottom". I would correct him and he would just repeat "Bottom!" So on every porch that we trick-or-treated at, Kate would hold her bag and politely say "Trick or Treat" while Liam would widly point to any visible pumpkin or jack-o-lantern and scream at the top of his lungs "BOTTOM!!!!!!" It was so funny. Kate told me that walking around trick-or-treating in the dark was "so cweepy". Nevertheless, she and Liam seemed to have an awful lot of fun - - with the exception of when we were on our way home and Kate tripped on an uneven sidewalk and skinned her knee which was met with much drama and wailing. She later told me that if the sidewalk had not been so "cweepy" maybe she would not have tripped. Here are some pics from Halloween!

Snow Princess


Obligatory porch picture

Walking the princess and her pup

My Two Guys

I am crazy about these two!


Here are some pics of random moments in life! :)

Liam attacked his yogurt - though it looks like the yogurt attacked him. You would not believe how long this took to clean up. What you cannot see is the floor and wall was a disaster! :)

Kate saw a hair commercial the other day and said the woman had "beautiful culwy hair". She asked me to curl her hair. First we tried a curling curls. Then we tried these foam rollers. She looked so cute and dutifully left them in her hair for HOURS. She thought she was very cool. Upon unrolling them we discovered a head of beautiful STRAIGHT hair - albeit with a tad of body. No curls. I think her hair is uncurlable. Oh how I wish it were mine! Isn't she cute on the laptop? She loves the computer and is very handy with it and even types her name.

Kate doing Yoga along with her kids yoga video. She LOVES it. She does it before bed and sleeps like a log.

This is Liam eating a "Deceptively Delicious" recipe. They are homemade chicken nuggets made with a full cup of spinach puree, which is equivalent to a whole giant bag of spinach leaves. He DEVOURED these. Kate did, too. You can see the spinach once you bite into it, but the first bite is so delicious that they don't even care about the green. Nick eats them faster than I can cook them, too and they are great as salad toppers. YUM! I highly recommend.

A pic of the new patio from the second floor window. Sorry about the screen being in the way. It wraps around the side of the house to a grill patio as well. Will have to get some better pics of that up, too.