Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just getting in under the wire here--pictures from Daniel's birthday while it's still his "birthday month."

Daniel's birthday (Monday, 1/10) was the first day of my week-long final MBA class. I was a little worried he'd get short shrift, but I got home in plenty of time that day to order the pizza he'd requested for his birthday meal. Once again, following Dad's lead (recall our Christmas meal was pizza, for the same reason.)

The night before his birthday, Daniel was lucky enough to celebrate with all four of his grandparents. My parents were in town for their babysitting gig (they watched the boys the first two days of my class week) so they and John's parents joined us for some presents, pasta and pie. Daniel decided more than a month ago that he wanted cherry pie for his birthday dessert.
We're really not sure where he came up with the idea, but he never wavered. I suggested other options, but he stuck to his guns, and I think he was pleased with the outcome. Even if he didn't like the pie, he was thrilled to run into one of his favorite firefighters at the pie store. (Firefighter Mark, who also drives a cement truck on his off days, and who we met last summer when he was pouring a driveway next door.) We've also seen him on our visits to the fire station, and he happened to be one of the crew assigned to the truck that visited the daycare this fall. So, yeah, he recognized us as soon as he saw us. He was leaving as we were coming in and was patient enough to stop for a chat with his adoring fans. The boys were a bit curious about why he didn't have his fire truck with him, but we tried to explain the concept of "days off."
The day before that (Saturday), we had Edward's first friend birthday party, to which we invited several of his friends' younger siblings who are in Daniel's class at school. So I guess I shouldn't have worried about short changing him since he basically got a three-day extravaganza for his birthday.

In fact, it's possible that the only person who wasn't pleased with Daniel's birthday celebration was Edward.
Even with the very helpful arrival of his birthday present in the same shipment from Arizona as Daniel's, meaning he had something of his own to unwrap, Edward really could not deal with the focus being on his brother. I believe this meltdown was because it was not enough to play with his new "lights and sirens" fire truck and insisted that Daniel should hand over his new ambulance as well.
You'll also note here that I am physically restraining Edward to allow Daniel the honor of opening his own presents. None of this is a surprise of course. It's hard to let your brother be the center of attention. I remember talking about this in advance of last year's birthday, but probably need to make that an annual conversation to achieve better mental preparedness on his part.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This afternoon Daniel came out of the bathroom, frustrated, with his pants and underpants twisted from his attempts to dress after peeing. He walked in to the room where I was folding laundry pulling on his pants and grunting from the exertion. Finally in frustration he yelled out, "No, thank you, Bob!" His underpants were Bob the Builder.

Also yesterday he wanted me to rub his back while he fell asleep at nap time. I promised I would come back to do it after I read Edward a book and settled him for his nap. It only took about 10 minutes but by the time I came back in he was flat on his back, eyes struggling to stay open. When I reached under the cover to rub his belly, his shirt was already raised up to his armpits. He'd belly-rubbed himself into a catatonic state.

The picture above is from a few weeks ago when he insisted on getting out his new stamps from Aunt Nora first thing in the morning. He'd wanted to do them at bedtime, and when his repeated requests fell on deaf ears we finally agreed he could do them in the morning. I should not have been surprised that he remembered.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Did you hear that scream on Friday afternoon? That was me finishing my last MBA class.


It's been five and a half years and there definitely were times I questioned why I was torturing myself, but it feels like a great accomplishment. Just please don't ask, "So what are you going to do with it?" I don't know. I don't have any immediate plans to change jobs, as there are few, if any, that would offer me the flexibility I have now. I started the program to fill time and space at a time when I needed distraction. I continued it because I figured even though it would be a slow slog, I didn't want to ever find myself shut out of an opportunity for lack of a master's degree. The right opportunity will present itself, and that's enough for now.

This last class was just one week, but 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ish) each day. My parents came out to hang with the boys on Monday and Tuesday, John's parents picked them up from school and kept them for the afternoon on Wednesday and Thursday, and John took Friday afternoon off to be with them. A fitting end, as this group has been supporting me all the way through this program.

John and the boys were prepared for my arrival home. John had taken them to pick out some festive balloons (pink and purple were required colors, and they wanted one that said "Mom"--not necessarily an easy purchase in January, but John called around and found one.) John strung up a banner in the kitchen and baked a celebratory oatmeal pie.

So I know I'm way behind on the blog right now, but let's just let this one stand alone. I'll have time in the days ahead to catch up on the rest.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Wow, more than a week later, we're still not up to speed on the birthday/Christmas extravaganza. I'll try to get all caught up since I'm headed to class next week and won't have time to come up for air.
After much deliberation and soul-searching, Edward finally settled on chocolate cake for his birthday. With Lightning and Mater. Yes, around and around we went with varieties of cake and pies, until we ended up in exactly the same place as last year. Oh well, at least I already knew how to do it. Apparently though, I don't know how to read the expiration date on a cake mix because the first cake of the day did not grow to more than about half an inch thick. I briefly considered just frosting it and moving on, but couldn't bring myself to do it. The only other cake mix in the house was white cake, so to the cookbooks I went to find a recipe for which I had all the ingredients. A quick reminder of how to make a substitute for buttermilk (regular milk with a Tbsp of lemon juice), and we were back in business. (The non-rising cake went into the freezer for use on a less festive, but still dessert-worthy occasion.) John's best comment of the day after learning of my cake plans: "You can DO that????" As in, make a cake without a mix. Yes, this is the level of our culinary expectations.

The next crisis came when I discovered that the number 5 candle had somehow broken in half inside the package. ARRGH! I was about to head out to Walgreens, which remained open 24 hours through the holiday, when John hit upon the idea of using the wax from a regular birthday candle to melt the two pieces together. It worked! At least long enough to light and blow out, which was all that was required.

Edward's other birthday meal request was for pizza--like father, like son. (It's on Daniel's self-selected menu as well.) I offered home made but he said, "No I want the pizza guy to bring it." Well, Edward, sorry. No delivery on Christmas. So instead, we went to a local family-owned pizza place that preps and freezes pizzas to bake at home. Worked pretty well, though it did result in the third smoke detector blaring of the day. (Recall the overflowing monkey bread from earlier in the day. Hard as we tried, we couldn't get all that sugar off the bottom of the oven. Really smokes up when the oven is at 450 for pizza!)

But aside from my kitchen foibles, I think it was an all around good birthday. Here is Edward in the Christmas gift knight costume opening knight Legos from his Wisconsin cousins.
And here he is with the castle gift from Grandma and Grandpa (with 130 PIECES!)
We did manage to get it put together, but it took all four adults!
This should be good for hours of indoor winter fun until it's warm enough to hit the sidewalks with this gift from Mom and Dad:
He's tooled around inside a bit but you can't get up much momentum from one side of the living room to the other.

The day after Christmas we took advantage of the Christmas Eve snowfall and went sledding at our local elementary school.
The boys had a blast, and John and I took a few turns down the hill as well. We steered clear of the "jump" some intrepid sledders before us had fashioned, but the kids thought it was fabulous. In the video below you'll hear Edward's "Oh, man!" when he misses it, and Daniel's giggles as it causes his sled to flip time and again.

John thinks this action shot is worthy of Sports Illustrated.
Next up, New Year's weekend in Evanston. More stories for another day.