Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to all! We have many reasons to celebrate this time of year and boys eager to drink it all in.
I had some "help" in the kitchen before the big day, decorating cookies to take to neighbors and friends. This was a fun afternoon, but I'm sure I still have sprinkles on my kitchen floor, even after mopping! They seemed determined to pile as much on each cookie as they could possible shake from the shakers. I thought they'd never dry...but eventually they did. And they tasted great!

On Christmas Eve, John's mom cooked us an amazing feast. But before we could dig into the food, we dove in to some presents.
The boys were very patient, waiting for all the gifts to be stacked up for each person and then waiting and watching each other open packages. These costumes were the hit of the evening.

It snowed all day on Christmas Eve, piling up about six or seven inches here in Iowa City. During dinner, the boys had to take an intermission to run to Grandma's piano room window to watch the snowplows clearing the street and driveways. After that, they proceeded to eat about six desserts each, but what the heck...Christmas only comes once a year!

We had to hurry home to bed so Santa wouldn't miss us. This was our first year expecting Santa overnight, as in the past he's come while we were at 8 a.m. Mass on Christmas morning. Due to a schedule change, we couldn't go to Mass until 10 a.m., so presents came first. (Note: I'd much prefer to attend Christmas Eve Mass, but since I can barely get the boys through a regular one-hour service, there's just no way we'd make it through the extra pageantry plus the need to arrive at least 45 minutes early to get a seat!) The boys didn't get up until about 6:45, which we considered an acceptable time. You can see that Daniel was still a little bleary eyed.
They tore into the packages and were thrilled...
...until they weren't. The picture below is just before Edward wailed, "But I didn't WANT Lego!"

He was eagerly anticipating the semi trucks that carry the Cars vehicles (Lightning McQueen, et. al.) I had been coaching both boys to ask for Lego because they love building with it at school and at the Children's Museum, but didn't have any of the "big kid" kind at home, due to the tiny pieces. Daniel fell right in line and was thrilled with his Lego box. Edward, however, did not appreciate Santa's attempt at manipulation, giving one semi each to the boys so that they'd have to play together. Tears ensued--both Edward's and mine, my heart broken to see him disappointed on Christmas morning.Thankfully it didn't last long, and in a beautiful Christmas moment, it was actually Daniel who saved the day. He came across the room to the chair where I was holding a sobbing Edward and held out his red Mac truck saying, "Here Edward, you can play with it." What a great kid! Shortly after, they were both playing happily, and Edward had to admit that the new Lego allowed for the construction of much better garages and ramps for the cars.

In the meantime, I attempted to make a pan of monkey bread for a breakfast treat, but ended up setting off the smoke detector when the sugar boiled over and burned on the bottom of the oven. To stop the smoke I took it out five minutes early, so of course it wasn't cooked all the way through. We attempted to eat the outer edges, but it just wasn't working, so we waited for the oven to cool a bit, used the grill spatula to scrape as much as we could from the bottom, and tried again. We got it cooked through, but not without more smoke. And I still had a birthday cake and pizza dinner (birthday boy request) to cook later in the day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We're expecting another significant snowstorm just in time for Christmas so I guess I'd better hurry up and post the pictures from our first storm last week.
Other parts of the state had snow earlier, but this was our first real shovel event. It was much anticipated by the under-5 set in this house. So much so that Edward got up half an hour early so he could go out and help John clear the walks and driveway. He has a new shovel that he's been dying to try out (Edward, not John.) I must record this now so I can show Edward in about 10 years when we're forcing him out the door with threats of withholding the car keys (*shudder*)

When we got home from work/school, two of our (retired) neighbors were out chatting over their shovels. The boys had on boots but no snowpants and could not contain their excitement. They dived right in, running through the yards with glee. Oh well, I guess it's not such a big deal to take off the wet pants with the boots at the door and change for naps. After naps it was back outside where we stayed for more than an hour. First shoveling and then playing on the sled. I briefly contemplated a trip to a sledding hill, but it was already getting dark and they were fully content dashing through our yard and pulling/being pulled along the sidewalk.

We celebrated Christmas with John's extended family on Sunday--a much more successful trip to Chariton than our last adventure. This time we had a large room for our gathering and our boys were thrilled to play with their cousins from Omaha. Edward was even a good sport about losing his throne as Banana Slap champion. He always beats John and me, but his seven-year-old cousin proved to have even quicker reflexes and definitely was making a run for it until it was time for lunch.
We didn't leave until almost three in the afternoon, which is normally when they wake up from naps, so I think exhausted is not too strong a word. They slept almost the whole way home and were docile enough for the last half hour of the trip while awake, content to listen to the books on CD we checked out from the library the day before.

When we got home, it was time to trim the tree.
We'd managed to buy one Saturday morning, despite two out of the three places we tried being completely sold out. And it's not even a Charlie Brown tree. It may be the best we've ever had. I guess it's not a bad thing to walk onto a tree lot and only have to decide among about a dozen options. We definitely have some heavily laden branches down low, but I decided not to rearrange after the boys were done. This tree is true to who we are this year. This picture is also true to who we are this year. A little wacky, occasionally infuriating, possibly looking for trouble.
Finally, a health note: I've recovered from my double root canal, which now awaits a permanent crown sometime after the first of the year (in hopes that my new insurance will cover it.) I went back this morning for the endodontist to remove the temporary packing and place the permanent one. She told me today that pain studies have shown that root canal treatment on an infected tooth is the second most painful experience one can have. The first is getting shot in the knee with a bullet. What?! So yeah, I guess I really was justified in my weekend-long stupor and desperation for additional drugs.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A friend of mine started a project last winter when she realized she had gone a whole month without taking any photos of her third child. Nothing like mom guilt to get you going. So she decided to challenge herself to take at least one picture every day for a year and post them on Facebook and her blog. It's been fun to watch the progression and to see what memorable (or mundane) moment from each day is captured.

I may have to take up this challenge myself as I have found fewer and fewer pictures on my camera and have let many of those "fun in the moment" moments slip away. This blog starts to get unwieldy when I think I have to catch up on weeks of updates all at once. Something to ponder in the new year. It would help if I had a better camera, but since I just gave all our money to a local endodontist, that's not in the cards.

I had a toothache last week that I tried to ignore and/or treat with ibuprofen. After five years without it, we decided to carry dental insurance again starting Jan. 1. We never have dental issues and for two cleanings a year it was actually cheaper to pay out of pocket than to pay the monthly premiums. Well, I believe I just caught us up on five years worth of monthly premiums with what turned out to be a root canal gone bad (and needing replacement); so bad it infected and killed the tooth next to it, which also then required a root canal.

The pain was so bad that even though the endodontist office said they didn't have an appointment until Monday, I just took myself there on Friday intending to beg for mercy, whatever was necessary to be seen and get started on ending the pain. Apparently I looked just pathetic enough to be fit in around their scheduled patients. I was so desperate, I actually stopped at an ATM on the way to the office so I'd have cash to offer any other patient in the waiting room who would be willing to trade for my Monday appointment. That turned out to be unnecessary, but I really think I would have done it. There is nothing quite like tooth pain.

The best I felt all week was when I left that office still numb on Novocaine. I couldn't start the real pain meds right away because I needed to pick up the boys from school and then get them back there at 4 p.m. for Edward's much-anticipated performance as a hummingfish in his class presentation of "The Lorax."
It was pretty much everything you'd expect from a preschool performance, and mercifully short. The kids had fun and we had a great laugh at the end when Edward stole the show with a very dramatic bow. In the picture he has his hand to his chest and is about to do a full body bend forward to receive his applause. Classic!

Earlier in the afternoon, we'd also celebrated the season with a great University of Iowa tradition: Holiday Tubas.
On the last Friday of the winter semester, all the tuba/euphonium faculty and students and any community members who happen to play gather on the steps of the Old Capitol in the center of campus and play a holiday concert. (If you click on the link above you can hear part of last year's concert.) This year we were lucky enough to have a near-40-degree day, so it was quite pleasant and festive. There are years when the concert has sort of a tag-team approach as players rotate in and out of the building to warm up their instruments and unfreeze their valves. Not this year. The boys were interested, but also able to run around a bit without causing too much disturbance. They also were thrilled to receive a candy cane at the end and even more ecstatic when I said they could eat it right then rather than waiting until a regular dessert time. Oh, life's simple pleasures.
Since we were on campus, of course there were many sights to see. Chief among them, Cambus after Cambus rolling down the street. The timing was such that it would have been tricky to get them home and settled for naps and then awake again in time to go back to school, so in a RARE departure from routine, we decided to skip naps and ride the Cambus. You would have thought I said we were going to Disneyworld. Again, simple pleasures.
This is the bus driving away after our ride.

Having children who appreciate the simple things can occasionally backfire though. When I last posted we were in the throes of a parents vs. kids battle over behavior and listening. We were quite surprised at how little they seemed to care about their missing toys. The first two days we rewarded good listening and then re-removed the toys for bad behavior in equal measure. Slowly they started gaining back more than they were losing and it seems in the last few days that we've really turned a corner. Of course we've been praising the good behavior until we're practically tripping on ourselves. Daniel had a bit of a relapse today, refusing to listen to us when we suggested it was time to go to the bathroom, resulting in three accidents. It's frustrating, but interesting to see how he uses this mechanism for control. But this weekend has been a bit topsy-turvy with me still being in near constant pain from my teeth.

I actually had to have the doctor paged Saturday and Sunday to discuss alternatives to the drugs she prescribed. Yesterday she told me I could take the vicodin/ibuprofen combo as often as every 2 hours until the amoxicilin for the infection reached a therapeutic level (expected today) which should have caused the pain to subside. This was a relief because waiting for the 4 and 6 hour mark on these two was agonizing. I was a bit nervous about pumping such high levels of drugs through my system, but it truly was necessary. Taking it that much more often meant that I'd run out by this morning so I had to call again to have her phone in a new prescription. She seemed surprised that the pain was still so strong and decided to also prescribe a steroid to help with the inflammation.

John ventured out into our arctic wonderland (today's high was about 7) to pick these up. The pharmacist warned that the steroid combined with ibuprofen is tough on the stomach. But I'd already taken the ibuprofen and needed to start the steroid ASAP to get the full day's dose in by bedtime. Ugh. Let's just say it was not a pleasant morning.

This is what passed for my attempt to entertain the boys while John was at Walgreens:
We were discussing snowmen, despite the fact that our predicted blizzard had not materialized overnight. Edward asked if we had a corncob pipe and seemed flummoxed when I told him we did not. We're very literal these days, and the Frosty the Snowman book we've been reading of course mentions this accessory. I told him that all Frostys are different, depending on who makes them. "Some snowmen wear black top hats and others might wear a red or blue hat," I continued. Then I remembered this hat stashed in our winter box and pulled it out to great effect. When I walked into the room wearing it, they could not stop laughing. Then they wanted to try it on themselves and it did not lose any of its humor value. This was heart-warming for me, as one of my fondest memories of my Grandma Ganey is her laughing so hard and so long that she nearly fell off the couch when these hats were Christmas presents for my cousins and me and we all put them on immediately upon opening them at our family gathering. I wish I still had that picture!

As I mentioned, we were expecting a whopper snowstorm overnight and thought since we'd be housebound today we should probably have an outing after naps yesterday. We headed over to the mall to visit Santa and have dinner. I've been eager to get the Santa visit done so that Edward's wish list would stabilize. He's been changing his mind so often that I've had visions of a Christmas Eve shopping trip.

Our dinner destination, a buffet restaurant called Pizza Ranch, provoked a great reaction from Daniel: "Pizza Ranch?! I LOVE pizza! AND I love ranch! Will they have carrots and celery to dip?" They do, and he did. A successful outing.
Our other Saturday project was decorating Will's memory tree. We were a little late in getting the ornaments this year, but now they're up and ready to share with any holiday visitors.