Thursday, January 31, 2008

"I'm Sailing! I'm Really Sailing!"

Benjamin had 'em rolling in the aisles at the grocery store. Every time I would turn my back, he would stand up in the cart, lean forward, and put his arms out. (Yes, I recognize this is dangerous.) He reminded me of Bill Murray, tied to the bow of the sailboat, in "What About Bob?" Whenever I-- or anyone else-- would look at Ben, he would scowl back and yell, "Dit down!"

A Sticky Situation

Every time I walked through the kitchen, I thought, "What is that on the floor?" My feet were sticking. I got down on my hands and knees with a damp cloth, and scrubbed. I got up, and my feet stuck. I walked around the island, and my feet stuck. I went over to the table, and my feet stuck. Now, with three kids, something is always spilled on the kitchen floor, but this was appearing to be a global problem. Or, was it? I finally figured out that my feet were sticking due to the grippers on my slipper socks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It Takes a Village

I would like to thank all the people who called to tell me school would be two hours late again this morning. See? All I have to do is advertise my stupidity, and people come to rescue me (or, at least, my children) from it. I did not tell Amanda school was late-- just to see what she would do. It was about 8:30 before she asked, "Aren't I going to be late?" So, she does have some concept of time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Apple a Day

Benjamin saw a new doctor today. I know, I said we'd sworn off doctoring for a while... But this was actually an appointment that had been made 6 or 7 months ago, at the height of our hysteria. I'm reporting this... I don't know why... Because it's what's going on in our life.

His new doctor is a specialist at the U of M's Pediatric Specialty Clinic. She is a well-known expert and came highly recommended from other parents and medical professionals. We liked her-- there was nothing not to like-- but there's no new news on Ben. How you feel about that, I guess, depends on your outlook on life, in general.

This doctor reviewed all the non-findings of all the other doctors. She offered her opinion that Benjamin has been "over-tested," but that it's good to know everything that has already been ruled out. She said she did not see the same characteristics the other geneticist did in Ben's facial features, so she would not have explored the same syndromes. However, she also reviewed, in detail, Benjamin's unique characteristics, pointing out, kindly, "This is something. This is something."

For anyone who's forgotten, or lost track, here's where we are with Benjamin: He is a perfectly healthy 18-month-old boy. From a cognitive standpoint, he is developing normally. From a gross motor skills perspective, he is behind, but continues to make steady progress. He is a little on the short side, but well within a normal range. He has a very big head, but continues to hold at a steady growth pattern. He went through a period of very poor weight gain, but has gained weight considerably on a higher calorie diet.

The big head is his major distinctive feature, but it is not the only one. He also has unusual, deep creases in his hands and dimples at his wrists; these suggest shortened bones and/or abnormal skeletal alignment. He has small, but "thick," hands and especially feet; this may show evidence of extra fluid collected in his extremities, from before he was born, and it may improve over time. He has deep-set eyes, low-set ears, and small facial features; this is likely nothing, but appears more unusual because of his prominent forehead. He has a high, arched palate and a cross bite (misaligned jaw.) All these little things, teamed with the poor weight gain and the big head, suggest some genetic anomaly. But WHAT?

Well, we don't know any more today... and we won't... at least for a while. The doctor said there were more blood tests that could be done, but they likely would not tell us anything, so she considered it unnecessary torture for Ben, and we all decided against it. She said there is value in observation over time, since all people grow, develop, and change-- especially kids. She wants to see him back in a year.

The doctor said it is unlikely Benjamin has a major medical condition that could go undetected for so long, with all the tests he's had. That made me feel a little better. She also said she can't make us keep coming back... But that is her recommendation. I asked her how often genetic syndromes actually do get diagnosed. She said, 10-15% of the time, she can tell as soon as she walks in the room. Another 15% of the time, a condition is eventually diagnosed through testing and time... The other 70-75% (!!!) of the time, we never know.

So, I bring this full circle: It's about perspective. When we left the clinic, I was making an appointment for 2009 and wishing we had never gone. Todd was showing Ben the fish tank and bouncing down the hall.

Mommy's view: There's something wrong with my son. We don't know what. We may never know what. I hate seeing doctors who remind me of the unknowns.

Daddy's view: My son is perfect! The doctor said he was beautiful, and reaffirmed that no one can find anything wrong with him. I love seeing doctors who remind me I'm right.

Big Birthday Boys

Kazmer turned four last week, and Solomon's second birthday is right around the corner, so their mommy and daddy had a party this past weekend to celebrate both. Mayhem. Glorious mayhem. The boys have just my children as cousins on our side of the family, but there are more-- and still more on the way-- on their daddy's side. It was a beautiful day, so the daddies and some other adults (including a brave Grandma and Grandpa) took the kids sledding at a local hill. Then, it was back to the boys' house for supper-- complete with an ice cream cake for each-- and plenty of presents, which all those cousins gladly helped open. It's funny how I now have a son of my own, but still think of these two as "the boys." Happy Birthday, Boys!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Looking Forward to Sleep... In About 20 Years

I have a number of friends with new babies, and I certainly do not want to minimize their experience... A newborn is the greatest gift, but one that leads to mind-numbing exhaustion. Still, as a mother, you know the baby has to eat every couple hours, and you seem to somehow adjust to no sleep. I almost think it's harder when your kid has been sleeping 8, 10, 12 hours at a stretch for months-- and then starts getting up in the night.

My children have ensured poor sleep for a run of nights now. Amanda or Elisabeth occasionally comes around to my side of the bed to sob, "Mom, I had a really bad dream." Depending on my state, I either walk her back to her own bed and lay with her for a minute, or I let her drag her blanket and pillow and make a bed on our floor. I don't let them get in bed with us; it's torture I cannot endure.

But, this past week, each kid has taken a turn. One night, Elisabeth started screaming, "Mom! MOMMY!" When I went in, she demanded ice water and then threw a total tantrum when I brought back a Dixie cup from the bathroom. She did this twice in the same night.

The next night, Benjamin was up. I still don't know what his deal was, but he cried at 2, 4 and 5:15. I'll let him whimper for a while, but, if he really starts wailing, I figure there's something wrong. The last time, he was still crying while I held him and tried to rock him, "Dit down. Da-da," he'd whine, and lunge for the floor. I finally put him back to bed with a new cup and a stack of books.

Last night, it was Amanda. We had just fallen asleep around 11:45 when she came into our room, crying, "My leg hurts." Amanda is extremely dramatic when it comes to injuries and illnesses, but she does seem to get these horrible leg cramps. Todd calls them "growing pains"-- says he got them often as a kid. The doctor said they're actually Charley horses, but can be linked to growth spurts or excessive activity the previous day. Heat, rubbing, and painkillers all help... It's just a matter of what she will tolerate in her delirious state. She usually complains her feet hurt, so this shin thing was a new one. After some rubbing and bundling under warm blankets, she said it didn't hurt anymore. That lasted two hours, until, at 1:45, I heard more wailing, "OW! I want my MOMMY!" This time it was her foot. I put a pair of warm socks and sweatpants on her, rubbed some more, and finally got her to take some Motrin.

This morning, I asked Amanda how she felt. She shrugged and said, "Fine." I asked Elisabeth whether she had heard Amanda crying in the night. She said, "No, I was sleeping weally good." I guess I'm the only one with a no-sleep hangover.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I was happy to watch the boys, but I was a bit worried, because Kazmer had a doctor's appointment, so, for the first hour or so, it would be just Solomon. Elisabeth and Kaz play so well together, I wasn't sure how this would go. But, no worries. Libby tried to get Sol to do and play whatever she wanted to do-- somehow, magically, without touching any of her stuff... and he said "OK" to everything... but then wandered off to do his own thing after a few moments.

Finally, both decided to read books. Libby would say, "Pick out a book, Solly, and I'll read it to you." Next, I'd hear, "No, that one's too long... No, I don't know the words to that one... No, we read that one last time." When he eventually achieved approval on his book selection, Elisabeth said, "Now, come over here and sit on my lap and we'll read."

Of course, this is the best part, because, although they are two years apart in age, they are less than five pounds apart in weight. (And that's really sad, because Sol is a lightweight, too.) Then, I heard, "Uhhh. OK, maybe you should sit next to me on the chair." When Elisabeth started "reading" the book, she claimed it was called, "Thomas Finds a New Place to Sit."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nice (Ice) Mom

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's fed up with the cold. Schools here in town are starting two hours late. Unfortunately, I didn't know that until Amanda had been standing at the bus stop for about 10 minutes.

I had the television on this morning, flipping between the news shows, until about 7:45. That's when we tackle dressing and breakfast before the bus comes (usually) at 8:15. I feel like a jerk that I didn't know-- doesn't that seem late to make the call? Well, I'm sure they made the call earlier, but the crawl wasn't running when I was looking.

I was getting really torqued that the bus driver was late, and had just run to the garage to start the car and give Amanda a warmer place to wait... when she hiked back down the driveway. Finally, someone had stopped and said, "Go inside and tell your dumb mommy that school is delayed." Or, maybe that was Amanda's editorializing...

You know I'm kidding, right? I currently have just the one child who talks about me that way.

A delayed start also means Elisabeth has no preschool. That's OK. We can all just stay home. Ben and I are still in our jammies. The upside to this schedule: Two more hours of Polly Pocket Race to the Mall! I love it when Libby sings the theme song, "Race to the mall-- ready, set, go! Polly wheels, yeah! That's how we roll!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Keep Your Cold

A woman recently commented to me, "You can't live in Minnesota and not like winter." I am here to attest to the fact that yes, you can. I've never strayed outside the upper Midwest for more than a week at a time, and I've never gotten used to our winters. It's OK up until New Year's or so. The snow is pretty for the holidays, etc. But that's it.

It has been so cold of late, I hate to even go outside. But, when girls have to get to and from school, and kids need to drink milk and eat bananas, and movies need to be rented and returned, there we go. Ben actually cried during the dash from the Wal-Mart doors to the car door. And, if I have to say one more time, "Zip up your coat! Put on your hat..." Wait-- that would be a totally empty threat, because I'm probably going to have to say that thousands more times in this mommy lifetime.

More Medical Miracles

After his run in with the dishwasher rack, Max is fine! The doctor found no permanent damage to the eye... He just looks pretty beat up. You can find the complete story, along with one cute-- and one nasty-- photo, on his Auntie Wendy's blog. There's a link at the bottom of this page.

Uncle Ron is also fine. Todd's uncle underwent surgery last week to have part of his kidney removed, due to a tumor. No one was overly concerned about it, until afterward... According to his daughter, the doctor revealed there had been a 95% probability of cancer-- but Uncle Ron is in the clear 5%! Continue to pray for his recovery.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Little Man on the Move

Benjamin took 11 steps (in a row) during his PT this morning. How does Margaret do it? She gives him a mission-- Put the magnet on the board. Take the blocks back to the bus. Give Mommy a Froot Loop. The reasons are two-fold: It gives him incentive and purpose to walk, and it shows him the value of walking (He can move and still hold things in his hands.) See all I'm learning? I have also learned not to call physical therapy "therapy." People look at you oddly if you say your toddler is in therapy.

At the end of his hour, when he was all pooped out, Ben decided to escape from Margaret and me. He crawled out of the toy room and tore off down the hall. I pretended to chase him and he rammed head-first into the wall. He knocked his forehead on the baseboard and got a nasty gash on his temple. Todd has been worried about those sharp corners, but apparently the middle of the wall is just as dangerous.

Fun to be a Kid

Whew! We are still recovering from that long weekend-- at least the kids are. Give them an extra day off from school, and they'll find themselves all kinds of fun. Friday night, they got to have a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa P. They even took Ben for a couple hours, so Todd and I could sneak in a movie. Movies, popcorn, a tent in the family room, and brunch at Perkins the next day... What more could kids ask for?

Apparently, tickets to Monster Jam. Todd took the girls on a date Saturday night. Amanda had been dropping hints for two weeks, after seeing the commercials on TV. "Dad, kid tickets are just five bucks!" Yeah, but parking is $20... I thought they'd last about 10 minutes, all the while complaining about the noise and the smell, but they loved the monster truck action! Weird children.

On Sunday, they went with Grandma P and Kazmer to the nature center for a show by "Bruce the Bug Guy." Amanda and Elisabeth weren't so sure about touching the scorpions and tarantulas, but they did pet a few cockroaches. Kaz loved everything-- my skin is still crawling after seeing all the creepy things crawling on him!

Monday, Grandma and Grandpa R arrived, with an adventure of their own. I had an eye doctor appointment, so they took all three kids to see Auntie Lisa at her restaurant. Afterwards, we all went to Mall of America. There were rides, of course, and Daddy met us for lunch. Ben wasn't too keen on sitting still to actually ride anything, but he did like to look up and say, "Wow."

Are our kids spoiled? They get to do so many fun things and have so many people fawning over them... I don't think they have any idea what a wonderful life it is. But I know they'll remember these experiences, and I'll never make excuses for spending time with my kids. Many days, it's more like reading books or having an outing to Menards. But they'll talk about this stuff a lot longer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not as Special as I Thought

I have to give the back story here, or the current item will not make any sense.

I set foot in our local McDonald's a lot. This is mainly because Todd frequently rents movies from the Redbox that's posted in the entry, and I have to pick them up and/or return them. While I'm there, I get a big Diet Coke. And, on occasion, when I'm feeling especially weak, I take the kids for Happy Meals and let them crawl around that disgusting Playland.

There is one worker who stands out as being particularly friendly and helpful. She always greets me, chats with the kids, holds doors, offers to carry trays, etc. I have gotten to know her face and her name, Sue. Sue is also very complimentary... lets me know she likes my shoes or my jewelry, and she really likes my purse (see link to Bagolitas website at bottom of this blog.)

Over time, Sue has been so friendly and helpful, and has made so many comments about my handbag, that I decided to buy her one. It was a very small one, actually, but very fancy and feminine, and I thought she'd like it. I wrote her a letter commending her on pride of workmanship, and I took it into the store. I talked with her manager first, passed along my compliments, and asked if I could give the small gift to Sue. I found her in the kids' area, happily scraping gum off the underside of a booth. I made my little presentation, gave her a hug, and went on my way. I felt great about the whole exchange, vowed to myself to do more positive things, and swore not to be spouting my story around town as though I was some special do-gooder who thought I was so wonderful.

Since that day, months ago, I have continued to frequent McDonald's. Sue often holds the door for me and we always have friendly chats. I have toted a number of handbags, all that same Bagolitas style. This week, I was standing at the soda machine when Sue made a beeline for me. She began touching my purse and gushing over it. "I love your purse. It's so pretty. I sure would like a purse like that. I have a pretty purse. A customer gave it to me for a present once. It's really nice. But I love yours, too. Did someone make you that purse? I wish someone would make me a purse like that."

So, she had no idea who I was, and had made no particular connection with me or my gift. I am still laughing about it... Really, it's the best part of the entire exchange. She wasn't treating me specially. Sue feels no extreme affinity for me. What I said or did certainly did not change her or the way she interacts with everyone, anyone. I love it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Big Prayers for Little Max

I am sending out the all-call for prayers for Max. In an accident today at home, he fell and injured his eye. He is now recovering after surgery. For you genealogical arborists, Max is Grandma K's grandchild, the toddler son of her daughter, Victoria.

We are awaiting updates, and are, of course, hopeful that Max will make a complete recovery, and do it quickly. I'm going to try to pirate a photo from the blog of Max's Aunt Wendy, so you'll know just who you're praying for. Without passing along the details (because I really don't know them,) let me say this is the kind of thing that could happen to any of our kids at any time-- No matter how closely we watch, accidents still happen. Pray, too, for comfort for Max's parents and grandparents. They must be out of their minds with worry.

There's Something Different Here...

Cabinet Man built me a drawer, and installed it. The next time you come over, you're going to feel so displaced. "Where's the cutlery tray? I don't see it on the counter." It's in the silverware drawer! True, there's not a pull knob yet... something about the screw being too short. (Sounds like a personal problem to me.) Still, what's next?! A place to put my potholders? A spot to stash the steak knives? Woo hoo!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Medical Updates

With all your help, we've been praying for a number of family members and friends with medical issues; I thought I would offer this update. I'll start with the not-so-great news, but promise we'll end on an up note:

Todd's cousin, Danine, had a malignant tumor on her kidney, and had that kidney removed. An oncology appointment this week revealed cancerous spots on her lungs, her liver, and her ribs. This busy wife and mother will now begin a new, experimental treatment. Please continue to pray for God to give her strength, healing, and hope.

Todd's uncle, Ron (other side of the family,) underwent surgery today to remove a benign tumor on one of his kidneys. Pray for a smooth recovery and peace upon him and his wife, Linda.

Remember baby Andrew, the nephew of one of Todd's coworkers? He was born at just 24 weeks, and later underwent heart surgery. Now, at about 10 weeks of age, Andrew has passed the four-pound mark. He was taken off the respirator, and is breathing on his own.

The Mind of Mommy

I've been thinking, and praying, lately, about those in my life who are preparing to become parents for the first time. There's no way to prepare, of course. Todd and I often say, "If we'd waited till we were ready to have kids, we never would have had kids." But it is fascinating-- comical, really-- when I think about how I've changed as a result of parenthood. Before I was a mother, I never could have imagined:

10. picking someone else's nose-- and finding some satisfaction in it
9. cleaning up barf, and being more concerned about the barfer than about me
8. having another person suggest going to a monster truck show and thinking, "Well, maybe we should."
7. watching the school bus pull away, waving like a possessed princess, until the bus is totally out of sight... every day
6. having to explain why it is a bad idea for two people to share the same strand of dental floss
5. waking in the middle of the night in a state of panic because I heard a slight sniffle or cough
4. getting sticky kisses, and liking them
3. making a full-time job out of tracking down the number-one-requested Christmas toy
2. being so tired I don't remember getting into bed
1. being so happy I don't want to be anywhere else

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Little Mommy

If you are ever looking for a gift idea for Elisabeth, I would suggest disposable diapers. A ridiculous and wasteful plaything... but we do mete them out. The last package lasted a year. Just the generic, newborn size; you can buy a pack of 50 or so for about $6. That's a lot cheaper than buying the special diapers that are made for the dolls.

Each girl has a baby that goes "potty"-- gross, I know-- so those are the only dolls that actually "use" the diapers. But other babies, stuffed bears, even dogs and cats get Libby's mommy treatment. She dresses them up and totes them around. Since she's not napping anymore, I need some way to occupy her in the afternoon... This works for hours.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Healthy, Busy, 18 Months Old

Benjamin had a checkup this morning. Not much to report... His weight is about 21.5 pounds, nearing the bottom curve of the growth chart. He is 31 inches long, which has him holding steady at about the 30th percentile. His head circumference is up to 20 inches, which is just off the top of the chart.

He finally got the second half of his flu shot-- so he is not happy. He got the first part three months ago, and the clinic has been out of the vaccine since then. Ben did not do much to impress the medical professionals... just kept shoving raisins in his mouth, and shouting "buh-bye" whenever the office door opened or closed. Lately, Ben's been saving the good tricks for home life. The photos show his favorite-- standing on his head.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Clean Bill of Health

I saw the surgeon for my post-op exam. It took a few weeks to get in, what with all those long holiday weekends. Must be nice to have a job where you're only in the office on Mondays. I digress.

The doctor seemed to think my recovery was atypical-- more difficult than usual, from what I described. I don't think I'm a big hypochondriac, and I feel as though I have a pretty high pain tolerance. So, we were both at a loss for what to say about that. But, it seems I am now well along the road to recovery. He did pick at my side for a while-- said I had a stitch hanging out that he wanted to get rid of. Hadn't I noticed? Silly me, guess I should spend more time looking at my belly.

I Swear I Didn't Say That

When my sister came over, the boys were acting shy, hiding behind her legs and not saying anything. She commented, "They both jabbered all the way here in the car... Now, we walk through the door, and it's like they're different kids." Amanda piped up, "That's what my mom always says-- she wants different kids!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

High and Low

Some years back, there was a movie with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer called, "The Story of Us." It was pretty dumb, about a couple spending the summer trying to decide whether they should stay married. But, I particularly liked that each evening at the supper table, the family would play "High/Low." Each person had to share their high point and low point of the day.

Both high and low for me today occurred at the supper table. In a total surrender to my kids criticizing every meal I make, I concocted a menu of: sliced cheese, summer sausage, crackers, carrot and celery sticks, and orange Jello with mandarin oranges. (Todd and I also had chili-- which I swear my kids used to eat.) Amanda came up with the high: "I see we're having orange Jello. Grandma P must have finally given you the recipe. We should call and thank her for that." After being scolded for not sitting and eating, Elisabeth followed with the low: "You do not make the rules in this house!" Oh, really? Would anyone report me if I slapped a four-year-old?

Let's Make a Deal

I spent part of the morning at my second home-- Target. Coincidentally, or not so, since I go there nearly every day, they had just marked down aisles and aisles of toys. Yes, this is another post on the cheapness of Andrea.

Target always does a big toy clearance after Christmas. I welcome the chance to stock up for my nephews' birthdays (in January and February) and even Amanda's (in March.) Plus, even though I vowed to not stockpile any more, I suddenly know all kinds of people who are having babies, and Amanda has at least two birthday parties coming up. I must say, this year the 75% off section was vast and plentiful. I've never seen anything like it. There were a number of toys on my kids' must-have lists for Christmas... Not even three weeks later, I could have bought four for the price of one.

I bought so much-- got all those birthdays DONE-- that I even had to call Todd and confess. Two carts full will make a noticeable dent in the checking account. See now why I don't scrapbook? Shopping is an all-consuming hobby.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Another Lesson In Boy

It took nearly six years of parenting, but I've finally had my first opportunity to call Poison Control. I was folding laundry on our bed, and Benjamin was ramming around in the bathroom. The toilet lid was down, the cupboards were closed... Still, in just moments, I heard, "shhhk, shhhk." I poked my head around the corner to see Ben sitting on the floor, with the trigger of the window cleaner bottle pointed at himself. His shirt was drenched. Then, I noticed his hair was wet. So, if his head was wet, and his neck and belly were, too, what were the chances he hit his eyes and/or his mouth?

Apparently, he didn't. I quickly removed his tainted clothes, scrubbed his skin, and smelled his breath. Then, I called the poison line. I was reassured that if he did get Windex in his eyes or mouth, I would know it-- because it would burn, and Ben would scream. Another crisis averted. But he is shiny and streak-free.

Later, I told my dad what happened. He didn't seem alarmed and was somewhat amused. "Windex can't hurt you. It's actually helpful. Didn't you see the movie, 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding?'"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Timeless Family Fun

I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen when Elisabeth turned on the den TV. Typically, that television is permanently tuned to Disney Channel, but, for some reason, she decided to surf. I was listening with one ear as she stopped on a sitcom. She started giggling, so I kept listening. The story line, appropriately enough, was about a little girl who didn't want to go to church because she didn't have anything to wear. Libby started calling, "This show is really funny, Mom!" Take me back to my own childhood-- she was watching "The Cosby Show."

Great Strides

Benjamin impressed his physical therapist. The two of them spent about a half-hour standing next to the Little People garage, sending cars down the chute over and over again. "Uh-oh. All gone." Ben was showing off with his half-knee skills, and reaching up over his head to grab a car in each hand. He took a few steps, and crawled, crawled, crawled. She said he was doing so well, she had trouble coming up with exercises to keep him going for next time.

The therapist also noted how much more Benjamin is talking now. Yeah, I know. I'm still waiting for that quiet child.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Ice Man Cometh

Todd returns from his long ice fishing weekend today. Yay! Surprised I would miss him so much? Well, you try being an only parent for four days... with kids still recovering from Christmas, me still recovering from surgery, two adjusting back to their school routines, one beginning to walk. I shouldn't complain-- the grandmas and grandpas switched off with assistance and entertainment. And, according to Todd, the trip was only two days long-- he left on Friday and is coming back Monday evening. You do the math. But, I like his thinking... I may soon have to plan my own "two-day getaway."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Leave Your Message at the Tone

OK, this is kind of funny...

I have noticed for a couple weeks now that not one single person has left a voice mail message on our home phone. There was nothing really pressing going on, no information I was missing, so I haven't burned too many brain cells thinking about this issue. But, I had noted familiar names on the caller ID-- a neighbor, a friend who was hosting an upcoming party, even a high school girlfriend I rarely get to talk to-- who ALL did not leave messages.

Today, I was putting away boxes of Christmas decorations in the basement, and I noticed a red, flashing light on the phone base. Just one of the many quirky things about us-- we keep the base to our phone system in our unfinished basement... long story. Apparently, about THREE WEEKS AGO, someone hit the button to turn on the answering machine. This started a weird, generic electronic outgoing message, and bypassed voice mail altogether.

There were plenty of messages on that darn machine, including some from all the above mentioned women. There were some pretty funny ones from my mom, too, including, "Hello, hello? I don't like that creepy guy's voice," and "Are you alive? I talked with Todd earlier and he didn't seem to know either."

I turned the answering machine back OFF, so you should get voice mail-- my voice-- again the next time you call the house. Sorry for not calling you back.

"Hello, Kettle? Pot Calling..."

Benjamin was throwing a fit because I wouldn't give him another banana, and he dumped his dish of cereal on the floor. Elisabeth marched over, put her hands on her hips, got in his face and scolded, "You know what, Mista? You are weally stubb-ren!"

It's All Political

Did you know the Iowa caucuses were yesterday? Did you care? I couldn't post until today because my husband had taken the computer hostage, as well as the TV remote. He came home (late) from work, ranting, and raving, and pacing. During dinner, C-SPAN blared from the den. My amazing Amanda, in an effort to get her father's attention, asked, "What's an entrance poll?"

He was in a primary-induced haze for the rest of the night-- practically incoherent. After the kids went to bed, I laid in the bath. Even the running water and closed bathroom door didn't block the blathering on Fox News. From that spot, at least, every commentator sounded like Alton Brown, giving a play-by-play on "Iron Chef America," so I pretended.

Todd's candidate didn't do so well... big surprise. Now it will be more nail-biting and number-crunching all the way to New Hampshire. Election Day can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

He Took Five Steps!

After much coaching by Daddy, and plenty of applause for himself, Benjamin finally decided to walk. (Please don't ask why there's a princess tent in our living room.)

Two Celebrations for the New Year

We spent New Year's Eve with friends at Ross and Anita's. It was an all-afternoon and all-night affair. Ross had created luge runs-- seriously-- down the hills in their large yard, and kids and adults had a ball sledding. They also have a pond, flooded and lit to be a lovely backyard ice rink. Amanda tied on skates for the first time, and took off. We thought she would surely try, and quit the first time she fell, but she was pretty persistent. Of course, I brought the camera and never took it out of the bag.

I was feeling pretty lousy, and tried not to grumble too much over all the good-looking and -smelling food I dared not eat. In the evening, the guys played cards and the kids watched movies till they passed out. Not much more we could ask for to welcome in 2008.

We have made it a tradition to spend New Year's Day with Grandma and Grandpa K.; it is our Christmas celebration. It's always so nice and relaxed. Of course, the kids were jazzed up for one more day of presents. The gift-opening was immediately followed by a new Hannah Montana doll live concert. Those are the twin Hannahs, dancing on the railing that overlooks their great room. The girls titled the show, "I Got All I Wanted for Christmas."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

See Ya, '07

It is safe to say may family is glad to say "Goodbye" to 2007. We are looking forward to a much better year in 2008. Was the year awful? Well, I guess not-- we're all still here. But it was a tough one for us, our family, and friends.

Todd and I (mostly I) became obsessed and overwhelmed with issues of health for Benjamin. We had our own mini-health crises. People we love lost loved ones. It was a stressful year in the new house-- with projects, with finances, with everything. Amanda started kindergarten and Elisabeth started preschool; these are wonderful events, but life-changing for both children and parents. And the last few weeks have run us into the ground. Between the surgery, another bout of the stomach flu, and the death of Eisenhower, we have all been ready to flee.

But, Mama warns, "Don't wish your life away." And I'm trying not to do that, either. I've never been one much for New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have things I want to change... It's just that I forget them as soon as I've made them. However, looking back on the past year-- really all the years since we've had kids, especially-- I have noticed a change in me. I'm more fearful, and less fun.

As my husband always tells me, "Every day is a crap shoot." This year, I will try to embrace that notion. Tomorrow, I'll wake up, and toss the dice again. But, I'll be more excited about it. People do sometimes win at craps, right?