Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry, merry!

Merry Christmas to one and all! :) We had a wonderful Christmas day! We loved watching the kids open their gifts, followed by a wonderful Christmas breakfast. Patrick and Jillian joined us for the morning and Nick made all of us his signature homemade fantastic breakfast of Belgian waffles made from scratch with fresh fruit, fresh whipped cream, and maple bacon. The grown ups toasted with Mimosas and Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry - SO delish and festive) and the kids got to toast with straight OJ. :) It was a wonderful morning and I am so lucky to have a hubby so handy in the kitchen.

The kiddos played like crazy all day long with all their new toys. Liam loved his new batcave and also his firehouse and firetruck and Kate went absolutely nuts over her new American Girl doll (named Lily, of course) and all the accompanying accessories. They crafted with new gifts, played board games and wore themselves out. It was so fun.

Patrick and Jillian joined us for a wonderful xmas dinner as well. We fed the kids and put them to bed and then the adults enjoyed a late grown up meal followed by cocktails and board games into the late hours. It was a GREAT and laughter-filled evening, save for the short sullen brood that Maggie went into when Nick pushed her competitive buttons during a heated game of Cranium (I still beat him - ha). Seriously, though, it was a fantastic day! My mom and dad, by the way, finally made it to Rochester, NY to be with Rin and her crew for Xmas after many MANY an airport delay and "gerfuffle" as Dad would say.

We hope you had as blessed and merry a Christmas as we did! Much love to all!

Kate racing to the presents at a very respectable 8am! Thanks for not waking up at the crack of dawn, kiddos!

Liam spying the Christmas wonderful-ness.

Ready for our Christmas Morning Feast. It should be noted that while Nick made the food, he was in no way responsible for the table decorations. He does draw a line. ;)

Kate and her new best friend, Lily.

The table awaiting the grown ups for a nice holiday dinner to be followed by board game madness.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

And now for part two of Liam's Vocal is Liam singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with his "new" tonsil-free voice. Listen to the earlier post of him singing the same song to hear the difference in his little voice. :) He is too darn cute! Sorry it is sideways - I forgot you cannot rotate the video off of my camera...or if you can I don't know how! :)

Cookie Capers

Each Christmas, the McKenny clan competes in our annual Cookie Decorating Contest. It should be noted that the contest generally does not have a lot to do with the theme of Christmas - not among the adults, anyway! There are only two rules: 1. My Dad is the judge and 2. The judge can be bought.

So, basically, the cookie that either sucks up to the judge the most, or is truly most impressive in it's creation, structure and decoration will win. Ideally, you want to combine those two winning elements into one cookie to secure the prize. Of course, no one loses, really - Rookie of the Year, Suck-Up award, and Best Use of Sprinkles are all past awards, for example. Above all, though, the contest is so much fun - a messy, laughter and wine and hot cocoa filled evening.

This year the contest was at the lakehouse, and Jillian joined us for her inaugural cookie contest. She won "rookie of the year" and was a fantastic sport - even taking the second rule to heart and bribing Dad with a bottle of his favorite scotch! :) Way to go, Jillian! We love a contender!

We all had a blast and I am proud to say that I won this year's overall competition with an ATTEMPT at recreating the lakehouse property via the art of cookie dough, frosting, and sprinkles. It was a blast.

Here are some pics of the event - soon we will begin architectural diagrams and schemes for next year's contest.

Liam making fun of his apron and just a teensy bit hyped up on frosting.

Our "Rookie of the Year", Jillian.

My "winning" cookie - a 3d replica of the lakehouse property.

Kate and her holiday spectacular cookies! She won the junior division and was so proud!

Lake-a-daisical Days

We spent some wonderful holiday family fun time at the McKenny lakehouse. The kids love having Nia and Gramps so nearby and I must say that Nick and I love it, too! :) While many people think my folks are borderline nuts for wanting to retire in Minnesota, we understand their rationale! In addition to Minnesota summers and falls making any winter chill well-worth it, most of their crew is here! With Patrick being here, Nick the kids and I, and Rin's husband, Nick, being FROM here - - - we have somehow adopted Minnesota as our home. The lakehouse is beautiful and peaceful and warm and wonderful and promises oodles of fantastic family fun.

When Dad does retire it will be great to have them here full time, but until then we appreciate them spending some of their free time away from work up here!

It makes sense - Mom and Dad have been based in tropical, warm places for most of his career! Sacramento, CA; Hong Kong; Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Miami, FL (with a little bit of time in chilly Peoria, IL)....they are due their midwestern rooted share of snow and ice. They are just doing it in reverse! :)

ANYWAY - we had a great time hanging with the fam at what we jokingly refer to as "McKennybunkport". Here are some snaps...

The kiddos snuggling and giggling at Nia and Gramps' place.

Kate at Gramps' computer - future CEO? She looks very professional, even with the puppy on the desk.

Kate and her Daddy. Nothing sweeter.

Liam very intent on a puzzle.

Liam about to open a new digger from Nia and Gramps.

Liam on the Mend!

Liam is doing so well! After some medicinal experimentation to get a painkiller that he could handle, he was brought some comfort and was able to start really healing thanks to the rest he was finally getting. All the screaming and crying and restless sleep from being in pain - not to mention MY heart breaking at him being so uncomfortable - was really making the recovery process difficult. At last, though, he is resting, has his sweet personality back, and is eating! Two weeks later, Liam appears to be back! Here are some pictures of his hospital visit - he is too darn cute, even if he did have to wear purple hospital jammies; he was NOT happy about that ("NO MOMMY! I don't WANT purple jammies! PURPLE is for GIRLS"). Once I explained that the jammies had little astronaut bears on it, he reluctantly agreed to put them on. So.....all is well and our little guy is back, even if his voice is quite different.

Chocolate Ice Cream Face. His arm is wrapped to protect his IV as he REALLY wanted to rip it out.

Little Man in a big bed.

FINALLY some rest for Liam. Pardon my exhausted face.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Surgery a Success. But sleep? Not so much!

Well our buddy Liam is now back home after having his tonsils and adenoids out. The folks at Children's St. Paul were fantastic, but boy are we glad to be home. Liam did super with the surgery. The hardest part for me was the anesthesia. I had to suit up in sterile hat, coat, etc. and go with Liam into the OR. I held him on my lap as they put the mask over his face and helped him breathe deep until he literally passed out in my arms. That part really unnerved me. Logically I understood of course, but the primal parent in me just literally wept at my buddy breathing in gas so rapidly that he literally collapsed in my arms. I was whisked away as they took him out of my arms and put him on the operating table. I was glad, however, that I got to be there when he went to sleep, whispering in his ear that I loved him. The surgery was over before you knew it and the doc said it all went well and that indeed his tonsils were alarmingly huge - to the point where they actually had to get a bigger jar for them than what was in the OR and that the folks down in pathology were excited to see such a uniquely large "specimen" as the doc put it! :) His adenoids were large as well and so it is good that those went away. The sleep apnea should resolve now as well as the chronic sinus infections.

Poor Liam had a bit of a reaction to the anesthesia when he came out of it. In short, he became terribly aggressive and combative. He screamed, kicked, and punched wildly - thrashing around with an upsetting glazed-over look on his face. There was no calming him down at all and it was VERY loud and painful as he landed a few kicks and punches in our attempts to hold him immobile so he would not hurt himself or pull out his IV. We are talking get out the straightjacket kind of crazy!!! :) It was tough, but he soon settled down and began ingesting popsicles and ice cream as fast as we could provide the treats to him. We think he has a bit of an opposite reaction to his medication than most kids - some kids get a bit hyper on codeine, apparently, and that certainly appears to be the case with Liam. He did not rest the whole day. We watched movies, ate frozen treats, and played cars on the hospital bed tray. It was a bit tough for him because he is a lefty and they had the IV in his left arm which was then wrapped in a cast of gauze and cloth to prevent him from ripping it out, so he had quite a bit of frustration with that. Nick left late Friday night and I stayed overnight with Liam.

Of course, as soon as Nick left, Liam decided it was party time. He refused to sleep. Between him being so overtired, agitated by the meds and the IV, feeling yucky, not wanting to be in the hospital and more it was a, shall we say, interesting night. And then of course it would seem that as soon as he WOULD start to drift off, in would come the nurse with medicine, a vitals check, an IV change etc. It was NOT restful and by this morning I no longer had a son in the hospital, I had a demon-in-training. :) He was a madman. Screaming, flailing, and yelling "NO" at whatever option was presented to him. "Liam, do you want chocolate ice cream FOR BREAKFAST?" "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" "Liam do you want a popsicle?" "NOOOO!!!!!!!!!" "Liam do want to leave the hospital, and go home but first stop at Target and pick out ANY TOY YOU WANT?!" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!"

Wow. Clearly. He was in a "no" mood. He has been for most of the day, even here at home. We all got a small nap in this afternoon, but now the challenge is getting him to stay hydrated now that he does not have the IV. He is not comfortable and his throat hurts a lot, of course. His voice is even different - which is very strange for us to hear. He does not want to drink, no matter how we dress it up. Shirley temples, water, chocolate milk, apple juice - cool swirly straws, fun cups or not. He is not terribly interested. We have to push that lest he wind up in the hospital needing a hydration drip as that is the biggest risk with kids his age refusing to drink.

The crankiness continued through the day until Uncle Pak and Jillian came by. They were sweet in helping to take the edge off of the Liam Crankfest. Finally now, at 5pm, after playing cars on a new track that Pak and Jillian set up, Liam is calm (knock on wood). He is now having a blast sitting on Nick's lap helping him "steer" with the Wii steering wheel while playing "MarioKart". He loves it. It is nice to see him smiling again.

SO - surgery a success. Liam cranky but on the mend. Will let you know the status of his muppet voice as things heal. :) God bless all the parents who have truly sick children that have to live in a hospital environment for longer than one night. God bless the nurses that help take care of them! What a tough situation and tough job that must be. I had one night and I am a total zombie today!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Merry Merry

We have been having all sorts of fun around here as we prepare for the holidays. The weather is doing it's best to get us in the spirit, too. As I type, giant fat snowflakes are drifting outside the window - if only it could be a tiny bit warmer than the -7 that the weather man tells us it is with wind chill! :) brrrrr.

Here are some pictures of us decorating the tree this year as well as a snap of Kate being silly at Nia's house wearing one of my holiday dance costumes from when I was much tinier. Also please enjoy a very special holiday video message brought to you by our muppet Liam. I wonder what his sweet little voice will sound like after his surgery next week.

Merry Merry to all!

She's an American Girl

A huge event was celebrated by little girls all over the Twin Cities recently. The Mall of America opened an "American Girl" store. For those of you who don't know, these dolls, their stories and their MANY accessories are loved and coveted by girls everywhere. Growing up I missed the American Girl craze (I am too old!), but it is certainly a toy that I think is great (unlike "Bratz" dolls that look like, well, prostitots - spelling intentional). Each American Girl doll has a whole story created around her and is from a different era of history. There is a pioneer doll, a doll from the 40s, a Native American doll, and so on. There are books about the character and her experiences in that time. Just wonderful! There are also dolls called "Just Like Me" dolls where a little girl can essentially choose her twin in doll form. Kate is very into imaginative play, so my mom and I took her on a very special outing to the new American Girl store to gauge her interest to see if maybe Santa would want to bring a doll for her.

We got dressed up and went on a holiday outing! It was so fun. The staff there makes every little girl feel like the most special girl in the world and focuses on great qualities of women throughout history such as courage, independence, intelligence, etc. Kate loved exploring the store and looking at all the dolls and the fun vignette's. It was so fun! We finished up the afternoon at the store's very own cafe - a pink-tastic place where, if you did not bring your own doll with you, they let you borrow one to join you in her very own chair for your dining experience - complete with her own doll-size menu. We sat at the adorable dessert bar and had milk and cookies for a snack to top off our first trip ever to the American Girl store. Kate declared that she would very much love it if Santa brought her a doll for Christmas and that, if he does, she will name her "Lily". Here are some pics of the fun day, complete with the doll that joined us for our snack!