Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wow, April has been a slow month for the blog! So much happening and so little time to write it all down.

We have returned from our desert vacation to find the prairie in bloom! Lots of rain while we were gone made everything green and brought a gorgeous display of rhododendron on our front stoop. We're having fun with our first spring in the new house--much to discover. Also much to trim back, but that's not really the fun part. Before we left the magnolias blossomed so I taught Ed to identify them. Now of course the beautiful flowers are strewn about under the trees, but we're enjoying pink and white crab apples and will see what comes next.

But on to the Arizona adventure. For those out of the loop, we planned the trip around Colleen's Confirmation and First Communion, which was Saturday. (For those really out of the loop, Colleen is my brother P.J.'s second daughter; other characters in this tale are her older sister Katie, younger sister Molly, brother Sean, who is 9-months older than Edward, and my sister-in-law Diana.) John and I are Colleen' godparents and we wanted to be there for this special day. Plus we thought the kids would have fun together and, except for my trip to assist when Molly was born just weeks after they'd moved, we'd never visited them in the five years they've lived there (we've had a few other things going on in those five years!)

I selected flights based on routes that avoided O'Hare, shortest total travel time, and mid-day (nap time) in the air. There was no way I was dragging the kids (and us!) out of bed at 4 for a 6 a.m. flight, although it would have given us more time there. We had to draw the line somewhere. We left at noon Friday after a very easy check-in and security check at the Cedar Rapids airport. I really love everything about this airport, except that you really can't fly anywhere non-stop. We had a layover in Dallas.

The first glitch came when the flight attendant informed me I couldn't hold Daniel in my lap but had to give him to John. No explanation--just the directive and then she moved down the aisle. When she swept past again, I asked if this was just for take-off or for the whole flight. "The whole flight," she said and walked away again. The plane had one seat on one side of the aisle and two on the other. So this left John with Edward by the window and holding a squirming Daniel. This was not a good scene. Luckily, there were some empty seats on the plane and the two people behind John and Ed offered to switch so I ended up with seats for both myself and Daniel behind John. (Later it was explained that on the side with the single seat there is only one oxygen mask so a lap child can't sit there. Wish someone had brought this up before we were seated! We were able to ask the ticket agent for a different configuration on the way home to avoid this.)

I really thought Daniel would sleep at this time since he has been known to fall asleep standing up at daycare if I am even a few minutes later than my usual 12:10 pick-up. When he's tired he just drops. But I guess the new surroundings were enough to overpower this because he didn't start falling asleep until we were landing in Dallas. The DFW airport has a cool train system to move you between terminals. Ed was thrilled to ride a train AND a plane in the same day. The airport also has children's play areas in all terminals, so we made good use of this during our two-hour layover. The kids were both exhausted (and a good three hours beyond even their latest usual nap time) so they slept for most of the flight to Phoenix.

Daniel woke up toward the end and I soon realized that he was soaking himself. More liquid than usual on the trip to help with the ear pressure. The woman next to me helped me pull off his pants and shirt and he exited the plane in just his super-saturated diaper. What a sight! A quick change and we were on our way to baggage and rental car, but not before Edward asked, "Where's Sean?" and we had to explain that yes, we are in Phoenix now, but no, Sean doesn't live at the airport. At that point it was clear that we would not wait until morning for the first visit.

We arrived at our townhouse (a stroke of luck and last-minute deal-making--SO much better than a hotel room!) unloaded, put Daniel to bed, and then Ed and I went over to SEE SEAN!! It was a good first meeting--they bonded instantly at Sean's train table. We didn't stay too long though as it was well beyond bedtime according to our body clocks and we still had to make a grocery stop for some essentials.

Good thing we did, because the next day started well before dawn. Daniel got up at 4:15 with no idea that he was in a different time zone. Oy. This was one of the times that having a townhouse was a lifesaver. I got up with him and let John and Ed keep sleeping. Ed got up around 5, but we were still able to stay in the kitchen and away from the stairs leading to the bedrooms so that John could sleep. (Don't worry--we alternated this duty as it continued through the entire trip! Daniel added a "mid" morning (aka 8 a.m.) 30-45 minute nap to his routine and the rest of us made do with an afternoon siesta.)

The kids had a great time playing together--lots of vehicles to drive on the back patio and a swing set in the yard. We never made it into the pool as it was a beautiful, temperate mid-80s while we were there. We visited several fabulous parks and had endless fun climbing, running, swinging, jumping, sliding. One of the parks had a kid-sized road system mapped out in one section so we brought the bikes and they drove around. Another had a train to ride on and several full-sized engines and cars to admire. Edward and Sean were pretty much a blur, racing around and up and down. Daniel, a little slower but no less daring, charged up and slid down as fast as his little legs could carry him. Mother's Helper Colleen was always right behind him, an angel here on Earth!

On Monday when the big kids went to school and P.J. went to work, the rest of us headed for the zoo. Diana's expert navigation took us to all the major exhibits (except birds!) and the temps were cool enough in the morning that most of the animals were out for viewing. A favorite part was Monkey Village, which allows you to see them up close jumping from tree to tree. Daniel giggled and Ed and Sean raced to see where they would go next. Daniel was also quite pleased with the hand washing station on leaving the exhibit (apparently monkeys pee on everything--ew!) We ended that excursion with some playtime in the tree house and then headed home for naps. Whew! The kids slept three or more hours each afternoon and we were not far behind!

Some memorable moments: P.J. came down to the kitchen dressed for Colleen's Confirmation Mass and her first comment was, "Are you going to wear that pin???" pointing to the "Donate Life Arizona" lapel pin on his jacket. Priceless!

Daniel was so thirsty that we decided not to buy regular diapers but the super absorbent overnight diapers he usually only wears to bed. We still had to change him every two hours and each diaper was as heavy as if he'd been in a pool. At every turn he was holding out his hand squeezing and saying "Mek, mek" or "Duse (juice!)"

Edward was amused by the GPS in our rental car (hooray for Hertz and this bonus feature!) Every time we got in the car he asked, "Is it going to say, 'Arizona, Yes!'" (when plugging in your destination it started at the state level and worked down to city and then street.) He also decided that he could make the stoplights change by shouting, "right now!" while we waited. Daniel joined in the fun. Ed got it close enough to the actual change just often enough that he fully believes he has some powers in this area.

Details of the return flights are probably the only things we would classify as "lowlights" on the trip. We were all tired, the kids didn't nap and the time change somehow was worse going East. A sans-nap Edward was nearly impossible to control on the Dallas-Cedar Rapids flight and I ended up sitting next to him with Daniel in my lap for about half the flight because he and John were just pushing each other's buttons. At about the mid point, the sun was almost down and I realized Daniel's shorts were wet. Time for a change to the pajamas I'd packed in the carry-on. When I got back to the seat, Ed was sprawled across both and covered in his Thomas blanket, seemingly ready to sleep (finally--this was 8 p.m.) John got settled in the seat next to him with Edward laying on him and I sat back down with Daniel, who also fell asleep once he had a paci to hold as well as suck.

We made it to CR, but waking up was very hard to do. Both kids just cried as we gathered up our things and carried them off the plane to the waiting stroller (hooray for gate check and our double stroller and my sister Nora for telling me I should take the double stroller even though I was worried it would be too big to check!) We got our bags and got back to our car only to discover that we could not find our parking ticket. Ugh! We drove up to the exit, explained that we'd lost it and filled out the form that the attendant gave us including the time/date we entered. (Yes, we were honest.) He told us there was a $4 lost-ticket fee and then our total charge: $29.

Can I say again how much I LOVE the Cedar Rapids airport? Daily parking max of $5!

We got home around 10 p.m. and headed to bed. Thankfully, I had scheduled myself for vacation the following day as well, knowing that I'd need time to get us back on track--laundry, groceries, unpacking, etc. The kids slept in, sort of, until about 7:30. I took them to daycare and set about my tasks. I went back to work today and found it busy, but not overwhelming.

We had a great time, but we're glad to be home! Video to come in a future post.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm at a danger point with this chronicle. I've allowed too much time to elapse since the last post so that every time I think of sitting down to write an update the task feels overwhelming and I can easily find something else to do. I'll start from the weekend with the goal of working back to Easter and just see how things go.

Team Kenyon was in full force on Saturday morning for the March for Babies. We had more walkers than ever before and including people and dogs we got close to my goal of 40 walkers in honor of John's 40th birthday in December. It was such an honor to have so many friends and family with us. I did feel bad for dragging everyone out so early on a Saturday only to be pelted by rain about 10 minutes after the walk started. We had about one hour of daytime rain over the weekend, coordinated exactly with the walk time. A few intrepid walkers made it the whole route, but we left the boys with my parents at the library (about half way through the route loop) and then cut straight back to the park instead of following the whole loop. If not for the kids, it wouldn't have been bad to keep going--it wasn't super cold and it wasn't a driving rain. But I think we made the right choice.

My sisters surprised me by digging through the family archives to unearth two t-shirts from a long-forgotten era during which the Geraghty family attended summer picnics wearing matching green t-shirts with "Geraghty Gang" emblazoned on them. You probably had to be there, but I almost fell over laughing when I saw them walking toward me.

This month at daycare they are celebrating "The Month of the Young Child" with special activities each day. Some are simple, like the various color days (wear red one day, green the next, blue, etc.) One of the days this last week was "Dress like mom or dad day." Some boys wore their dads' ties, but John doesn't really have enough to spare and our kids don't have that kind of button down shirt anyway. We decided they could all wear long sleeve polo collar shirts and do just fine (even though I sprung it on John at the last minute and he had to go iron a different shirt.) Ed was pleased with the outcome and didn't seem to notice or care that John's shirts lacked stripes--a fashion lesson he is bound to learn for himself later in life.

I'm not even sure what to say about this picture except I hope we are not stifling Edward's musical abilities with this ghetto instrument. You are not mistaken: that is a cookie tin with its lid duct-taped shut holding an elastic band that was used to secure the monitoring devices for my many stress tests during pregnancy. The drumsticks are spoons and the headgear will just have to speak for itself.

OK, on to Easter. We started the morning with 8 a.m. mass. This may seem crazy, but since our kids don't differentiate between weekends and weekdays in terms of sleeping patterns, it actually meant we just followed our usual M-F routine and went together to church instead of work/daycare. Ed was pretty excited about Daniel and Dad coming with us. Usually they stay home. We managed to snap this family picture before we left. The angle is a little weird since we had to set the camera on a stool, but it's passable. We told Edward the Easter Bunny would come while we were at church, just as Santa Claus did back in December. The baskets were a hit--sunglasses, wiffle balls and bat, coloring tools (markers for Ed, crayons for Dan) and the all-important plastic eggs with jelly beans (Ed) and teddy grahams (Dan.) And, yes, Daniel's "basket" is a bike helmet. What can I say?In preparation for Easter dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, the boys "helped" me make a cake. Lesson learned in the process: the expiration date on a cake mix is actually important. John had to be dispatched for another mix after the first cake didn't rise. Still tasted pretty good, but I didn't think it was presentable as dessert.
I think we're all caught up now. I leave you with a video John prepped a couple of days ago showing some of the boys' latest antics. And I think you know that includes all three of them!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

We've kind of been back and forth between indoor and outdoor play of late. Here we were saying good-bye to one of our last moving boxes, which had morphed into a toy, but was finally just too bedraggled to keep around. We had lots of fun with it though, proving once again that no matter how much you spend on toys, the free box is tops. There is one more left now and it's on its last legs, as it is caving in, having most recently served as a diving platform (feet first only of course) for both boys.

Outside, we were thrilled to discover clusters of crocuses in bloom when we went out last week. I think being snowed on just makes them more vibrant. Daniel even got in on the excitement repeating "purple, purple" after Edward and I took an inventory of color. Now he points at a lot of things (purple and otherwise) and says "purple" but still, it's fun to hear these emerging words. He's also saying "thank you" or a version of it that sounds like "day-doo!" I remember Ed doing this and it's no less cute the second time around! The other recent addition to the vocabulary is "milk." He's been signing milk for some time now, but over the weekend he was squeezing his hand for the sign and started saying something like "mek, mek." It took us a couple of beats to realize what was happening, but we were pretty excited once we caught on.

Things kind of went downhill for Daniel as the weekend drew to a close however. He had a cough/congestion and was not sleeping well. We did two nights of this before I decided he should see the doctor on Tuesday. I was waiting for the nurse to return my call and schedule an appointment when Daniel's teacher called to report that he had refused to eat breakfast so they took his temp (what other reason could there be for him not eating?) and it was over 100. At the doctor, no surprise, they discovered an ear infection and prescribed Augmentin since he'd been on Amoxicilin so recently. Let's hope this knocks it out. We really don't want to start a pattern of one after another. The only silver lining is that this happened now and not two weeks from now when we're headed out to Phoenix!

The boys got a surprise package in the mail last week. Gram sent two new books--hooray! One is poems and the other is classic fairy tales like "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Three Little Pigs," and "The Gingerbread Man." Edward loves them! And we're quite pleased as well as each story is relatively short and he's satisfied with two or three before bed. Everybody wins.

We are only 10 days away from our Walk for Babies with the March of Dimes, and I have to say there is virtually no chance that the boys will make it with us for the whole route. I've been out with the stroller a few times in the last week, and I must report that 60 pounds of boy really slows the pace and strains the back/legs/etc. (Daniel weighed in at 27 pounds at the doctor yesterday and Edward usually measures 33 when he plays on our bathroom scale.) Edward can walk some, but I would say it is likely that they will spend the bulk of the walk in the park with Gram and PopPop, weather permitting. Not a bad trade for either pair.