Monday, March 22, 2010

Gram’s Birthday Celebration

We had plans to get together with my family to celebrate Gram’s birthday on Sunday, so we started our preparations on Saturday. Eli made a card for his Great Gram, and also opted to stamp his FACE when I left him alone for five minutes with my stamps and ink.

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Here’s his creation. Eli asked Ben if he liked his card better or his face? That gave us a good laugh because Eli was obviously proud of how he had decorated his face with stamps and purple ink.

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Apparently Eli has a thing for decorating faces, because he took it upon himself the next day to draw on Charlie’s face with black marker. Charlie looked like he had war paint on!

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We decided to leave it on his face until my family arrived, so they could see Eli’s creation in person.

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Poor Charlie.

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We washed his face soon after everyone arrived. Thank goodness for washable markers. Here’s Charlie, looking much cleaner:

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Here’s Gram looking at Eli’s paper creation. You’ll also notice that there is a Spiderman card in the left side of the picture – Eli picked that out to give to Great Gram. When you open the card, it says, “Happy Birthday Superhero!” Eli wanted to sleep with the card last night—that is how much he loved it. I told him sleeping with it had the potential to wreck the card, so we compromised by setting it up on his bookshelf while he slept. I’m impressed Eli actually gave Gram the card (because he seemed extremely attached to it).

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Here are 86 candles on her cake, since we always do an extra candle – one to grow on.

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That is a LOT of candles to blow out!! It took her six puffs.

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Charlie was in this daze after all the candles were blown out – the smoke was pretty captivating.

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Here’s Gram opening gifts. She always ties the bows on her head for a little extra pizazz :)

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Thank you for your kind, sweet, uplifting words in the previous blog post about my Gram. They meant so much to me. She has a PET scan tomorrow and then meets with the surgeon on Tuesday (her actual birthday) to go over the scan results and schedule a surgery date. I had mixed emotions tonight as I realized this is probably the last time we’ll all be together before her surgery, and it may be a long time before things seem somewhat back to normal, if they ever do?

I HATE cancer. I know it from a child’s perspective, since Davey had leukemia when he was 4 and I was 8. When I was a teenager, my aunt died from breast cancer. And as an adult, I’ve had some friends survive cancer and one lose the battle. It’s never easy, always full of ups and downs. It horrible to have someone you love so dearly face something so difficult. Part of me is still in total denial that this is really happening since Gram is an otherwise healthy, vibrant woman.

Enough of my frustration though. Life keeps going. We’ll keep praying for her and I hope you do too.

I gave Gram this soft pink bathrobe and my mom coordinated with getting her some pink slippers. We thought this would make her upcoming stay in the hospital more comfortable.

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Here are some more photos from the evening:

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Eli was on potty accident #3 of the day, so he was wearing turtle pj bottoms with his sweater :)

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Both boys with their Great Gram -

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Davey and Gram (her license plate says DVSGRAM)-

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This month, Eli has turned into a child who can be VERY strong willed and stubborn. He insists on taking his shoes off when he’s playing in the back yard (and often takes his jacket off, as shown in the picture below), despite the fact that our yard is FAR from perfect (more like completely imperfect and our neighbor’s grass is absolutely beautiful and I wish I knew the secret – it really is greener on the other side :) and has all kinds of bumpy, rough spots in the grass and the dirt. But… he throws fits and goes ballistic when we ask him to put the shoes and jacket back on… sometimes I just give up and figure he’ll realize it’s cold and uncomfortable soon enough (which he usually does and throws another fit because he’s so cold).

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At the same time, here is Charlie, much more bundled up and appropriately dressed for the weather because he’s too young to have a choice in the matter. It was in the 50s and steadily dropping.

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Ben was happy it was Friday and time for the weekend.

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However, I realized I was way too happy it was almost springtime, because I left the sand table box open and all of our bikes and outdoor toys out in the yard, all of which were covered in snow when we woke up on Saturday morning. Bummer.

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Thankfully, most of the snow has melted and we’re back to the 50s this week. I’ll take that over snow any day!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teary Day

I just got off the phone with my Gram. She found out this morning that she has an advanced form of cancer, based in a tumor in her neck. This afternoon she went on with life and went to the DMV to renew her driver’s license that was about to expire. When I called, I asked her how the driving test went.

“It went well! I wore my green wig [for St. Patrick’s Day – Gram is Irish] and the guy who was going to give me my driving test was looking at me waiting in my car and kept whispering to the other employees. When he got in the car, I took off the wig and he breathed a sigh of relief. Then he had to get back out of the car to tell the guys that it was just a wig, because they were worried I wouldn’t be able to get my picture taken for the license with green hair.”

Gotta leave it to my nearly 85-year-old Gram to wear a green wig on St. Patrick’s Day :)

I asked her how she was feeling about everything else, and she responded, “It was a bad day, but everyone’s entitled to a bad day every once in a while.”

Oh Gram. I’m not envious of what you have ahead of you. The surgeon will remove the mass on her neck, the sub mandibular gland and possibly part of her jaw. Then she’ll have radiation and who knows what else.

I had a busy morning, hosting playgroup at my house that lasted later than it usually does, which was great. It was nice to have the distractions of friends around and the first part of the day passed pretty fast. Our weather today was beautiful and we spent so much time outside.

But by about 4 p.m., the heavy reality of what is to come with Gram hit me pretty hard. I got lots of sweet, concerned looks and comments from Eli. He kept coming up to me and touching my face, saying “I see a little tear” in his soft voice and wiping it away. Charlie offered lots of big kisses with lots of snuggles. Little kids are very in tune with our feelings, happy or sad.

My Gram is tough. And strong. And one of the most amazing examples to me of someone who lives life with passion, loves others and is a friend to many. She has lived near me almost my entire life, and during many of my younger years, she shared a 2-flat with my family and lived above us. Gram took me on all kinds of trips as I grew up – to Tennessee, Alaska, London, and Prague. We’ve have lots of good memories. And I’m always her personal travel agent when she wants to go visit a friend or relative, finding her good deals and booking her flights. My boys love their Great Gram and Eli has been singing her songs every day since she came over for a visit last week.

Now that I’ve had a good cry and my head feels like it’s going to explode, I am going to focus on doing what I can to help Gram stay positive and feel hopeful for the future. Especially since she turns 85 next Tuesday. We’ll make it a good birthday, despite everything she is about to face.

Love you Gram.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heard at the Paper Source

Today is one of those rare, extremely long days when Ben went to work at 6:30 a.m. and is STILL out. Tonight he’s out to dinner at a fancy Chicago restaurant with work people while I sit at home in my pjs (spouses are never invited, of course). I just called him to make sure he was still alive (the dinner started at 6:30 p.m. – it’s now 11 p.m.) and he said he would head home soon. Wonderful.

So… to break up the day a little, this evening I took the boys out and picked up my favorite cheeseless pizza from Homemade Pizza and made our regular visit to the Paper Source. While we were in there, Eli picked up one of the toys and carried it around, a Sound Machine with 16 sound effects such as laughter, applause, burping, etc. (most of the sounds aren’t great – I wouldn’t recommend buying this)

Eli pushed one of the buttons that sounded like a woman screaming, kind of like a horror movie scream, and he said loudly but sincerely,

“That sounds like Mama!”

Ohhhhh the Paper Source employees were laughing so hard. I was a tiny bit mortified, but it was pretty funny. I racked my brain to think back to why he might think a woman screaming sounds like me, since I swear I’m not the yelling type. But I realized that when the boys are driving me absolutely crazy, when they’re both crying or yelling or throwing fits and it’s 5 p.m. and I want to cover my ears, I do sometimes just let out an “Ahhhhhhhhh!”


Kind of like the sound machine scream.

Oh boy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Charlie Says - “Uh Oh!”

Why is it so cute when you’re 1-year-old first says “Uh oh!” totally spontaneously but in the right context?

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Today Charlie was sitting on this chair, coloring with a yellow crayon, when it fell on the floor. And he said as clear as could be…

“Uh oh!” and smiled in a sweet, a tiny bit shy sort of way.

When I heard this out of his mouth, I stopped what I was doing and looked over at him – and responded, “Uh oh?” and he said it again and looked down at the crayon.

I love it so much. I love hearing my little boy communicate in these simple but amazing ways.

Of course, he does plenty of communicating in this fashion too - (unhappy whining)

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Today Eli had his weekly physical therapy session at our house. His therapist, Lisa, is wonderful. She has such a talent for getting Eli to interact and move/strengthen his body, even if he isn’t initially willing or interested in what she is suggesting. She has commented every week that he seems to be making fast progress, which makes me happy. He’s getting custom orthotics for his shoes that will help him stand properly (instead of his feet falling inward) and his will help his muscles to develop correctly. Eli has a great time with Lisa and it’s fun to watch them work together.

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Today we also spent a lot of time running around the house. Eli was sprinting from the family room, through the office/hall into the living room, and then back again.

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Every now and then, he would fall on the floor, wiped out from all the craziness.

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And later, I got this rare picture of the boys together, munching on veggie straws. This is before Eli got upset with Charlie for sitting on the chair that he wanted to use to make a fort. Oh Eli…. he has also been a little obsessed with “tackling” poor Charlie, which really means he crashes into Charlie who isn’t expecting it and is caught off guard. The worst is when this happens outside and Charlie goes crashing to the ground. We’re working on playing more nicely together :)

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In other exciting topics, both boys slept until 9 a.m. this morning. I told a friend today that I don’t think I have slept that late EVER in the last three years. Daylight savings is a hard adjustment for all of us, but that totally made my day. And when Ben came home today, the sun was still shining! We celebrated by playing outside, despite the fact that it was 40 degrees and pretty chilly.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Snow Melting

Last week the highlight was the snow melting! Hooray for Spring, which came just in time – we were all going a little crazy after being cooped up for so long. I realize I never followed up on my lovely stomach bug… it took me a FULL WEEK to feel all the way better. That’s crazy. But the upside was losing five pounds, which is easy to happen when you have no appetite and you feel lousy when you do eat. I’d take being five pounds over my goal weight than being that sick, believe me. It was misery.

On to the outside pictures:

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The boys had fun playing in the backyard, sloshing through the remaining snow. Charlie isn’t used to walking on such uneven terrain, so he kept tipping over and getting wet. But he’d get right back up with a smile on his face. He even biffed it on the walkway, which you can sort of see with the red mark on his forehead.

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Eli had fun swinging again after not touching a swing in so long.

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Charlie found a dirty ball that had emerged from the snow and threw it at the basketball hoop, over and over again.

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Eli found another ball and soon took over Charlie’s play space. What else is new? :)

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On another day, my Gram drove down with my mom and spent the afternoon with us while my mom taught piano lessons. We went on a walk (the temp was in the 50s, which felt good when the sun was shining, but not as great when the wind was blowing) and Eli found a stick that he deemed his fishing pole. He would stop at every puddle along the sidewalk and street so he could fish.

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Toward the end of our walk, we stopped at a playground and let the boys run around for a bit. Here’s Eli and Great Gram on the teeter totter.

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I put Charlie on in front of Gram and he loved it.

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Both kids absolutely love the swings, so we spent lots of time with those too.

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Charlie was really cute – he kept squealing and kicking his legs while in in the swing.

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My boys had so much fun with their Great Gram as she has a song for nearly everything.

Today it’s back to dreary, rainy and cold. We even had a big thunderstorm a few nights ago. March is such a tease and my house always feels freezing when the weather jumps around so much. But birds are chirping and I spotted the first of the perennials starting to poke through the ground, so I know better weather is on its way.

The funniest thing out of Eli’s mouth today was when he and Ben were watching the birds outside through the window. Eli got a little worried and said, “The bird is eating itself!!” Luckily, the bird was just cleaning its fur a little :)

And finally, here is a video of Charlie last week playing with the piano – this is when we decided on the songs for Eli to sing in the talent show. I love Charlie singing along with his piano playing :) It’s always amazing to me too when toddlers this little totally know what you’re talking about, even if they can’t say many words yet.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Ward Talent Show

Our ward talent show was last night, and after much deliberation and changes right up until the last minute, Eli did in fact participate in the show. I was nervous that he would freak out when he was up there, but thankfully he just thought it was cool to be up on the stage with a microphone, singing in front of all of the wonderful, smiling members of the audience who happily participated with his songs.

We finally decided to have him sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” since those were songs that people could do along with him. And they are Charlie’s favorite songs too. We asked Keenan at the last minute to accompany Eli on the ukelele, which worked out great! Keenan is Hawaiian and brings his ukelele to Eli’s nursery class each Sunday at church – the kids have all have a blast dancing and singing songs.

Here is a video of Eli’s performance:

My favorite part of Eli’s songs was when he did the “peek-a-boo” action, and everyone in the audience did peek-a-boo back to him. He was totally tickled by 100 people peek-a-boo-ing back. And there was a crowd of little kids sitting up toward the stage that were fun to watch too.

Ideas that didn’t make the cut for Eli’s talent:

-Having Eli and Charlie re-enact the youtube video, Charlie Bit Me (it just seemed too unpredictable and we didn’t know how many people would know the video)

-Eli dancing to the “Hot Dog Song” from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (it is HILARIOUS when he dances to it – he does the crazy elbows and kicks and everything)

-A dozen other toddler songs that Eli likes to sing, but might not be as clear or fun for the audience

Ben also performed in the talent show – in a men’s quartet singing a medley of songs. I think they sounded great! Ben (is in the black sweater on the far right) sang bass and was REALLY nervous that he would mess up because they had only practiced twice. And he did make one main mistake, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Here they are:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Slammed with a Stomach Bug

I’m trying to sit as still as possible as I type this – meaning, I’m trying to just type without moving the rest of my body. I feel so-so when I’m still, and I feel queasy, lightheaded, and just plain awful when I get up to walk around. I have felt this way all day long. I have no pictures from the day as I personally look horrific, and I didn’t have the strength to take pictures of everyone else.

Last night I was hit with a violent, horrible stomach bug. I went to bed feeling a little off, but figured I’d sleep it off and feel better in the morning. Instead, I woke up at 2 a.m. feeling extremely ill and sprinted to the bathroom to throw up.

The toilet seat was down, so my puking destination was the bathroom sink, unfortunately (I barely made it). Better than the floor… but still pretty gross. Especially as I kept throwing up – over and over again – and didn’t have the energy to move to the toilet. I wouldn’t recommend it because after I was done puking, I had to then stick a wood bbq skewer down the drain to help it all drain down. Yuck……………….. (don’t worry, I used a hefty amount of Lysol on the sink after skewering the drain).

Is this too much information? Probably for some of you – I’m sorry. But I’m too sick to care.

I threw up about 10 times last night – basically everything I had eaten that day and then some. I debated sleeping on the bathroom floor, but it was too cold and I had the chills. So I climbed back under my covers and miraculously fell asleep.

This morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. to the sound of Charlie crying, ready to get out of his crib. I nudged Ben and asked if he was going to work, and he asked if I thought I was okay. I hadn’t sat up yet, but I thought I could manage somehow if he went in. So Ben got out of bed to shower, and I slowly got out of bed to go get Charlie.

Ugh. When I pulled my solid little baby out of the crib (who was crying, throwing himself around, kicking my stomach… I really wish he would wake up happy for once!), I was hit with more nausea and exhaustion and realized this wasn’t going to work.

So Ben stayed home today to take care of the kids so I could stay in bed and try to feel better. My favorite quote of the morning was when he happily said, “I really needed a vacation day.”

HAH! Is that what my life is?? Eternal vacation days…? : )  (I know he didn’t mean it like that, but it still made me laugh)

The morning was smooth enough. I went back to bed, Eli went to preschool, Charlie took a morning nap, and Ben did some work from home. But Ben was slammed with a nice dose of my weekday solo parenting reality when:

1. Charlie only napped for an hour in the afternoon and was crabby afterwards. It was only 2 p.m. at that point.

2. Fussy, persistent Charlie went up against tired, emotional Eli, who didn’t want his little brother to get in his face and interfere with whatever he was playing with. This turned into quite the tearful battle between the boys.

3. Eli went to the bathroom (on his little potty), but refused to pull his pants up. So he waddled around for about an hour with his pants around his ankles. At one point in the afternoon, Ben went upstairs with Charlie to change his stinky diaper, then came down to find that Eli had pooped on the dining room floor. I was upstairs resting and heard Ben make the discovery….. ohhhhhhhh I was trying really hard not to laugh – because that made me feel more queasy.

4. Around 3 p.m., Ben was feeling stir crazy and decided they needed to get out of the house. I suggested they go on a walk, since the sun was shining and the temp was in the high 30s, which feels pretty warm after our cold February days. So he attempted to get the boys ready to go out in the stroller, but I could hear Eli whining, “I don’t WANT to go outside… I want to stay HOME,” which is what happens to me every single day. He is my homebody while Charlie likes to go out.

5. Eventually, they made it outside, had a nice long walk and came back refreshed and happy. Eli made me the sweetest “Get Better Soon MAMA” sign and brought it up to my bed. He gave me a big hug and said, “I’m sorry you’re sick, Mama.” Charlie was also excited to see me and kept repeating, “Memememe” over and over, which is unusual since he prefers to say “Dadadada” a million times (which drives Eli crazy :)  It’s nice to be missed!

After the boys went to bed for the night, I attempted to come downstairs with Ben in hopes of finding something besides 7-UP and saltines that wouldn’t make me more sick. Ben commented that now he understood why after the kids go to bed at night, I’m always running around the house, cleaning up and finishing stuff up that I wasn’t able to get to while they were awake. He’s going back to work tomorrow, so I am crossing my fingers that I’ll wake up and feel back to normal.

Good job Mr. Mom! I think you were fabulous today. I’m looking forward to my vacation day tomorrow :) Yeah right!!