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10 Feb

Life has been rough lately.  I’ve been sick for the last 7 weeks.  Yes.  SEVEN weeks.  Bronchitis, sinusitis, pleurisy, costochondritis.  We’ve truly been in survival mode.  Alex has watched way too much TV, and I can’t even feel guilty about that because at least he had something to do while Mommy was laid up on the couch, trying not to cry from all the pain.  Alex came down with croup the same week that I ended up at the ER because I thought I’d fractured a rib.  (That was when I was diagnosed with costochondritis, 2 days after being diagnosed with pleurisy.)  And Steven was laid up in bed the entire weekend (of that same week!) with a high fever and just generally feeling awful.

Yep, no guilt that the entire family can pretty much quote all of the movie Cars now.  TV has been my best friend and babysitter through much of this.  Forts help, too.

While all this was going on, we were also having issues with our new kitten, Theo.  While he figured out the litter box in a single night, he wasn’t consistent with it.  He was already treated once for a bladder infection, so the vet thought it was now behavioral.  I wasn’t convinced.  We were cleaning messes off the floor daily, but he was containing them to the same spots, and they weren’t vindictive in nature.  When he peed on the bare tile, that was my opportunity to suck it up in a syringe and take it to the vet’s office for testing.  I was right; it’s medical.  Theo has crystals in his urine, so he and Ninja are now on a prescription diet to take care of the problem.  So far, so good.  Theo is now consistently using his box.   So glad because when you’re already feeling awful, having to clean up feces and urine every day is just lousy.

This week I finally started to feel better.  I’m cooking again, after weeks of takeout and eating from the freezer.  Good thing because all the meals I’d stocked are now gone.  My singing voice still isn’t right, but at least I no longer sound like a 13-year-old boy whose voice is changing when I sing Alex’s night-night song to him every evening.  And while I can’t go outside most days of our unusually-cold winter, we did have one day last week that the temps were high enough not to set off a massive bout of coughing.  Alex was thrilled to get to play in the snow.

Please ignore the complete lack of makeup.  I do not look like a proper Dallas girl.  My excuse: I was sick.

Please ignore the complete lack of makeup. I do not look like a proper Dallas girl. My excuse: I was sick.

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And when the weekend rolled around, he got to go back out with his daddy.  They threw snow at each other.  Super fun.

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My autoimmune issues are causing this to be an extra-long ordeal, and I feel as if I’ll never be well again.  But I seem to be past the worst.  I can hold my child again without gasping in pain.  The coughing has subsided greatly.  I haven’t had to bust out the heavy-duty narcotics for over a week.  And I can now run errands again without having Steven along to carry Alex and lift him into a shopping cart.  Struggling to lift my 34-lb. toddler has been the hardest part of this.  Sick and in pain or not, I had to care for my child.  Thankfully, Alex has really been quite good while we’ve been mostly housebound for the past 2 months.  He’s had his moments of practically tearing the house apart from cabin fever, but in general, he’s been wonderfully well behaved and happily entertained by his toys and movies.  Housekeeping fell by the wayside, which made me crazy, but I knew to let some of that go.  When I cleaned the entire house this past week, it felt like victory.

There’s a light at the end of the (ridiculously long) tunnel.



18 Dec

The only parenting book I’ve purchased is this one.  The main premise is that when it comes to raising kids, less is more.  Kids are overwhelmed by too many toys, books, TV, information, etc.  Scale it all back, and kids have an easier time.

For the most part, I’ve found this book to be spot on.  However, I thought the author was nuts to say to keep only about a dozen books out at once for your child.  But even that makes sense to me these days.  Alex keeps going to the same books over and over.  We’ll spend a week devouring The Big Red Barn, Broadway Barks, or I Want to Be an Astronaut.  Over and over and over.  Then he eventually moves on to another few books.

But somehow, we let the toys creep in.  And in and in and in.  Over the summer we noticed that all Alex wanted to do was color.  At first, we thought it was the excitement of his new craft table, but the tantrums ramped up at the same time.  Finally, we figured out that he was overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys.  He had three baskets/boxes of toys in the living room alone, and they were overflowing.  Finding a toy meant digging through the mess, and he just couldn’t handle it.  So he abandoned his toys, and only wanted to color and watch TV.

We culled through the toys, got rid of a few, boxed up a few others to take out at a later date.   It worked.  Alex started playing with his toys again, and the tantrums lessened.

We find ourselves somehow back in the same situation.  Too many toys, too many choices.  And Christmas is coming very, very soon.

See these toys below?

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My little guy is obsessed with trains right now.   Those are the only two he owns, and he loves them.  They’re in constant play, and that little plastic Thomas the Tank Engine is his bed buddy every night and during naps.  While he loves playing with the (better) Thomas trains in the church nursery, truth is, he’d be perfectly happy with just these 2 trains.  He doesn’t know that he’s supposed to want more, at least, according to our culture.

(At this point, I should probably mention that he’s not only getting Thomas trains and tracks for Christmas, but also a Thomas train table.  Grandparents are awesome!)

We came home from Thanksgiving in Texas with a ton of new toys from my husband’s side of the family.  We bought toys while we were in Dallas for Christmas.  And the toys from my side of the family have arrived.   I’m finding myself wondering where we’re going to put everything!  More than that, I’m questioning whether or not we should even give Alex the gifts we bought for him.  For example, we bought him a set of cars and one of those rugs with car tracks on it.  But in light of all the trains, I’m not sure the car stuff will be played with.  I have a strong suspicion our boy will be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff coming his way.

This is the sort of parenting dilemma I never anticipated.

We culled through the toys again last night, and we need to weed out a few more.  I’m trying to take to heart what Simplicity Parenting says about toys.  Our culture, and frankly our parental desires to give our kids things that will make them happy, say that if a kid likes his toy car, then he’ll love a dozen of them.  But instead of loving his one or two cars, he’s overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cars and won’t care much about any of them.

Alex loves Veggie Tales, and his stuffed Bob the Tomato is his best buddy.  Bob goes almost everywhere with us.  We considered buying him Larry the Cucumber to go with his Bob, but then decided against it.  We’d rather have him love Bob, instead of having to divide his attention/affection between the two.  We’ve seen a hierarchy of preference among his stuffed animals, and frankly, he just doesn’t need to add to it.

He has enough.


3 Oct

Our handsome little Matthew Alexander turned two recently.  Unlike his first birthday, I didn’t go all out with a theme or decor or a color scheme.  I didn’t really do anything besides make one of his favorite meals, bake a cake, and buy him presents.  I think if he were a girl, he might someday look back at the pictures and wonder why I didn’t have a color-coordinated candy bar and decorated water bottles, not to mention practically everyone we know in attendance.  But  he’s a boy, and I suspect he won’t care in the slightest.  And that’s assuming he ever goes back and looks at the pictures.

Score one for boys being easier!   Granted, we haven’t tried potty training yet, so I may eat those words in the future.

We didn’t even invite anyone other than my parents, who drove in from Texas to celebrate with us.  And dinner was nothing more than homemade macaroni and cheese, peas, and carrots.  Humble, for sure.  But I had a very happy boy, as he got to eat a favorite meal with some of his favorite people in the world.  What more could a little boy ask for?

Well, maybe a tricycle.


And getting to ride facing forward in the car for the first time.


And a super-awesome playset for the backyard, complete with assembly by Grandpa and Daddy.

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(They weren’t able to get it done, but Steven has since gotten the playset several steps closer to finished.)

Homemade cake with a bad icing job made Alex quite happy.  He’s such a big boy that he’s now able to blow out candles.  He got practice ahead of time at church with his new job.  He’s now the unofficial candle-blower-outer.  He takes his job very seriously and scans the sanctuary for every lit candle in the place.  Apparently, getting to blow out candles is a Big Deal when you’re two.

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His favorite gift of all, though?  Helium balloons.  Steven brought them home while Alex was napping, and you’d have thought the kid hit the jackpot when he woke up and found them downstairs.  Open presents?  Why?!  There are balloons, people!

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Once the balloons lost their helium, his new toys became interesting.  Bob the Tomato goes everywhere with us now, and Alex shows off his new bubble mower to any neighbor he sees.  He even showed it off to the dogs next door.  Because dogs care about these things, you know.

Life is good when you’re two.

I Put the Labor in Labor Day

3 Sep

My poor husband.

My parents gave him money for his birthday.  He bought a new grill, as the old one had a major problem.  He put his new grill together on Saturday, then we threw some inaugural spare ribs on it on Sunday.  We’d never grilled ribs before, but I read up online how to do it, so it didn’t seem difficult.

Except, apparently, it was.

The ribs didn’t cook up in time.  We were doing it low and slow, like I’d read to do.  But it was too slow.  Steven fiddled a bit with the temp and burners, but it still wasn’t cooking.  We ate frozen pizza for dinner.

While Steven was upstairs bathing Alex, he asked me to go out and turn all the burners on low.  So, I did.  At least, I thought I did.  It was dark and our motion-sensing light out on the deck has a difficult time actually working.  I fiddled with the burner knobs, and the flames looked nice and low, but seeing as I’ve never grilled before (that’s always been Steven’s job for the entirety of our 15 years of marriage), what did I know?

Not much, as it turns out.

Steven went out a little later to check on the progress.  He started yelling.  Our ribs were on fire.  He turned off the burners, then the propane tank, but things were still flaming inside.  Hugely flaming.  By the time the fire was out, our ribs were nothing but charred dust.  And Steven’s new grill?  Well, it survived, but he had to order a new thermometer and nameplate for the lid.

Even worse, I took out the internet.  This house has an abundance of cables running all around it.  This drives Steven nuts, and he occasionally pulls some of it down, when he can see that it goes nowhere.  But the cable that runs along the roofline of the deck covering?  That one actually did something.  I fried our internet.  We thought that the cable company was just having a little hiccup, but hours later, the ‘net was still down.  And down again in the morning.  That’s when it occurred to me to go outside and check.  Yep, I smoked the side of the house and melted the important parts of the cable several feet above the grill.

I’m not kidding when I say that we’re really lucky I didn’t burn the house down.

I cried.  A lot.  Apologized to my husband approximately 952 times because I messed up his birthday present.  Then cried some more.  He wasn’t mad at me in the least (because he’s just awesome like that), but I was furious with myself.  And scared because I nearly started a fire.
Thankfully, he was able to order new parts for the grill.  It didn’t cost all that much.

Then he spent Labor Day outside cleaning up my mess.  Scrubbing grill grates.  Scouring the brick on the house to get all the soot off.  And cutting off the ruined bits of internet cable and splicing on some new cable.  Good thing I bought him a DIY book in a $5 book sale a while back because it told him how to do the cable splicing.  You know, since we couldn’t go online to figure it out.

I’m pretty sure he will never again ask me to do anything with his grill again.  I think I’ll stick to the kitchen.

This used to look nice and unwarped and not bubbly.

This used to look nice and unwarped and not bubbly.

This used to work.

This used to work.

The lid is now discolored.

The lid is now discolored.


9 Aug

We packed up the family, baby’s antibiotics (*sigh*), and seemingly half our household goods and headed to Vail, CO for a family vacation.  Instead of doing their usual 3 weeks in Vail, my parents opted for 3 condos for 1 week (they have a timeshare there) so that my sister’s family and my family could all go on holiday together.

It was wonderful.

While Steven loves his job, he was ready for a break.  And even though I still had to make some meals and do laundry and attempt to keep chaos and clutter from drowning us in our condo, it wasn’t anywhere near the same as being at home with a 4-bedroom, 2-story home to clean.  So yes, it was very much a break for me, too.  Sometimes when Alex took his afternoon nap, I read a book.  Bliss!

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but my sister’s family, who has lived in London for the past 7 years, moved back to Texas this summer.  Alex got to meet his cousins for the very first time in June when he and I went home for a wedding.  He adores his 4 beautiful cousins, who adore him right back.  So a week spent with them in Vail?  He was in heaven.   Those girls doted on him and all vied for his affections, and he ate it right up.  We often went swimming with the girls in the evenings.

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In the past when we’ve vacationed in Vail, Steven and I were childless.  So we went spelunking (on a tour), whitewater rafting, hiking.  With a toddler, things were very different.  Sometimes we’d head into town just so Alex could ride the bus.  He thought the resort’s shuttle bus and the in-town bus were the most fun things ever.  I guess when every other ride you’ve ever taken has involved being strapped into a carseat and riding backwards, the freedom of a bus ride is exciting.  Who knew that making a 22-month-old kid happy could be such fun?  Oh, how life has changed!

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We did buy gondola tickets and ride up and down the mountain.  That wound up being a whole-family activity.  Alex was quite nervous about the gondola at first, but then he got comfortable and loved it.  Even better, he was with his grandparents and cousins!

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Steven spent a morning hiking, I got to visit a fun little bookstore (and bought a new cookbook to add to my other 50 or so cookbooks), we ate out a few times, took Alex to a children’s garden and various playgrounds in Vail, and just generally had a nice time being away from home and in the beauty of the mountains.  We are so blessed to have opportunities like this.

But it’s always nice to come home.  I missed my cats like crazy.

Oh, and if anyone wants to know a great way to keep a toddler entertained in a hotel room, just blow up a bunch of balloons and toss them into his pack-n-play.  This seriously kept Alex happy for an entire hour one day!  And he wanted to do it every day, never tiring of his makeshift ball/balloon pit.


Snow/Ice Day

21 Feb

We woke up to thunder sleet.  I’d never even heard of that, much less experienced it before.  Pretty cool.  Schools are closed here, but Steven still had to go into work.  Bummer.

It’s really pretty out, and the birds are swarming the feeder, which I went out and refilled for them this morning.  (Yes, I love animals that much to go out in the ice just to feed the strays.)  Of course, I do that in part because the bird feeder is Ninja Cat’s main entertainment.  The feeder was a Christmas gift for me, but I think Ninja enjoys it even more than I do.

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Wistfully looking outside, hoping to go play

Wistfully looking outside, hoping to go play

Ninja watching his birdies

Ninja watching his birdies


My sweet, old Doogie asleep in the coat closet

My sweet, old Doogie asleep in the coat closet

Ringing in the New Year with Sickness

31 Dec

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This guy, my little Clark Kent, the kid who preferred a Swiffer duster to any of the toys he received for Christmas, is sick.  Really, really sick.  It started with a cough.  Then came the runny nose.  Wheeziness.  Fever.  Symptoms kept stacking up.  I was going to take him to urgent care on Sunday, but then he was better.  Only the runny nose seemed to remain, and he was playing hard.  But then that night, the fever spiked, he was wheezing when he breathed, and he’d lost his appetite.  The appetite thing worried me the most, as this boy loves to eat!

I took him to the doctor this morning.  Poor baby tested positive for both strep and RSV.  He has three prescriptions now, and we’re working hard to get him to drink enough and try to get well.  Not exactly the way we’d hoped to spend New Year’s Eve.