Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So, That Was Stupid

Remember that blithe comment I made yesterday about neither of my kids ever having a prescription? Jinx indeed. Clare ended her six-and-a-half-year streak today with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a prescription for a lovely-colored, but apparently vile-tasting, azithromycin. Paging Mary Poppins! Fortunately, this is a newfangled prescription that requires only one dose a day for a mere three days.

Meanwhile, here is a totally-unrelated photo for the day. Pretty much sums up how Danny has spent his time without Clare to amuse him.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Sickness As In Health

Today is a rare day: Clare is missing school because she's sick. I believe in her four+ years of schooling, this is the second day she has ever missed being sick. I know I jinx myself, but I am going to go ahead and mention that neither of my kids has ever had a prescription, either. We are some healthy peeps.

Which means that it's been interesting to observe Clare in illness. She began to feel under the weather Friday evening, which unfortunately fell on Tim's watch because I was in Dallas having a lovely weekend with Cat. I got a brief update on Saturday morning telling me that she seemed to be okay. Of course, she went downhill that afternoon, and Tim being the sweetheart that he is opted to not let me know so that I would be sure to enjoy myself while away. Not that it was anything serious, or else I'm sure he would have called me. She's suffered from a fever, bit of a chesty cough, headache, and little appetite. In other words, swine flu.

Okay, we jest, though it naturally crossed both of our minds. You just never know, and from the reports from people I know who have actually encountered H1N1, it's not that big of a deal. Judging by the fact that she has been fever-free so far today, and generally perkier all around, I'm pretty sure it's a more run-of-the-mill bug.

Anyway, back to observing Clare. I think the way people behave while they're sick can speak volumes about their personality. For example, Tim is a royal pain when he's sick, but not because he's demanding and whiny. On the contrary, he totally shuts down and keeps to himself, because he doesn't want to be a burden and is frustrated with himself for getting ill. The problem is that I have no idea how to help him!

Clare, for her part, seems to maintain her curious, pleasing self. She most definitely has been more quiet, but despite tuning into several movies her brain is still full-throttle. When I walked in to see her last night after returning home from Dallas, she greeted me not with, "Hello" or, "Poor me" but rather with a detailed question about their first grade service project. And this was with a 103.6 degree fever.

This is kind of rambling, and I'm not really conveying what I intended, which is that I really appreciate the fact that it takes a lot to knock Clare off course. Like her father, she has been neither demanding nor whiny. But unlike him, rather than shutting down completely, she manages to find happy things to think about and discuss, such as how common the American Girls' last names are in the world or the interesting new places Quincy has found to nap.

While putting her to bed last night, she at one point lamented quietly that she doesn't like being sick. Lucky for all of us, it happens rarely. And lucky for Tim and I that even when it does happen, she's still our sweet girl.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Flood

We've gotten several inquiries from our loved ones regarding our welfare during the flooding. I've made my usual snarky remarks about suffering no other damage than the mental trauma of the kids not having school for two days. The horror! Yes, woe is me. People have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, whereas I have lost just a fragment of my sanity. So, I've been pretty ashamed of myself. Especially because, at the end of the day, I have great kids.

Yes, Clare likes to talk. A lot. And she begins each phrase with, "Hey, Mommy?" I document this because I know that approximately seven years from now I will ache for her to say that phrase just once a week, and to talk to me just once a day. And really, how many more years do I have where she is dying for me to turn the jump rope for her, even for just a few minutes? Too soon she'll be texting her friends while experimenting with make-up and hair styles, all behind her closed bedroom door.

Yes, Danny can be whiny. And I get so very tired of reminding him each and every morning, when he asks for his milk and Life, that he needs to say "please" when he asks. And yet for every whiny, manner-less moment there's an exultant whoop over a song he likes or a proposed outing with one of his "best friends." Too soon he'll be a strong, independent young man who doesn't need me to get him anything, and for whom a kiss and a story on the couch does not make boo-boos better.

Two days felt like such an interminable amount of time, and now I can't help feeling that I squandered valuable moments. I guess I'm only human. I'm still going to bed immensely relieved that their schools will be open tomorrow.

They better give me grandchildren, because I want my do-overs.

(The pictures at right show the exciting array of activities we engaged in today. The second-to-bottom shows Danny dancing to "Riverdance," his new favorite album, while the bottom photo shows them cleaning up the playroom before we ventured out for the day. We did wind up playing with friends later in the day, making it a much more fun day than I originally anticipated when taking these mundane shots.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Thoughts That Count

I am fortunate in that I feel loved by my family every day of the year. Still, it's nice to have that special, it's-all-about-me day, and this year they outdid themselves. To begin, Clare remembered almost immediately (despite it being 6:30 a.m.) to wish me a happy birthday. Not too much later in the day Danny serenaded me with "Happy Birthday" in that sweet, three-year-old voice. But the best was yet to come.

When Clare got home from school, after dutifully completing her homework, she ensconced herself in her room for nearly two hours "making [my] presents - and wrapping paper." You are probably as curious as I was as to what she was making. She kept an air of secrecy about the project, insisting that I stay out and keep Danny away. (The cats were allowed in, but naturally had no interest. So much for curiosity and cats.) The only tidbit she would give me was that she knew I was going to like one of them the most.

Evening eventually rolled around, Tim arrived home, and it was finally time to open presents. I must say that I received so many thoughtful gifts from friends near and far, so thank you all! Clare wanted to go last, so the anticipation had definitely mounted by the time she presented me with my first gift, which was: a paper doll set! She drew and cut out a doll, and then drew and cut out items of clothing for it. Adorable. The second gift, which sounds odd but I did think was creative, was a make-up set. She only got as far as the blush/eyeshadow container and a lipstick, both of which were constructed out of cardboard and a lot of tape. She says she plans to add more pieces later.

The third item was definitely the pies-de-resistance: "The Bear and the Soup," a story written and illustrated (so says the cover) by Clare. It's an adorable story that features the word "hibernation" on the very first page, perfectly spelled, too. I am not a sentimental mom and have tossed 97% of the artwork my kids have created, but I assure you I will treasure this creation forever. I am delighted that she plans to make an entire Bear series! She was right, too: I did love this one the best.

So, Clare pretty much ruled the day. Although, last but not least was my birthday cake, lovingly baked, frosted, and decorated (we use the term lightly) by Tim. He bakes me a cake every year, and this is one of the many reasons why I love him. No, he's not what one might call a baking artiste, but it was very tasty. (It's okay to go ahead and laugh at the ominously written "Mommy," because Tim did, too.)

So it was indeed a happy, happy birthday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

On the occasion of my birthday I received this marvelous addition to our JAM gallery.

It was inspired by this picture, which I took at my parents' house way back in the summer of 2006 when Clare was three and Danny a newborn.

I am incredibly lucky to have special memories commemorated this way. Thank you, Mom!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sometimes Thinking Inside the Box Isn't So Bad

It's amazing how a cardboard box trumps a room full of toys every time, isn't it?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beginning of "Magic" Moments

(Another guest-blogging appearance by Tim)

We entered another parenting epoch this weekend with Danny's opening game of Smyrna soccer with the U-4 "Magic." For the next 16 years, our Saturday mornings will likely be filled with harried breakfasts, searching for uniforms, and trips to far-flung fields in pursuit of little league glory. However, while parental cynicism may seep in down the road, Saturday's inaugural gameday was an exuberant affair, as Danny's love for all-things sports translated directly to the field.

First, and perhaps most importantly in Danny's mind, was the chance to suit up in the gold "home" uniform, complete with official soccer socks, shin-guards, and cleats. After Daddy industriously safety-pinned the much-too-large shorts, Danny raced around the upstairs ready to take on Ronaldinho. For my part, full-on uniforms with multiple jersey colors is ridiculous for 3 year-olds, but perhaps I'm just nostalgic for my own first venture into organized sports - indoor soccer at the Kenmore, NY YMCA 30 years ago where every kid wore whatever t-shirt their parents sent them in.

The Magic are coached by Coach Ty and Coach Eric who should be lauded for their patience in spending hours each week wrangling 3 year-olds. This being the first organized game, neither coaches, parents, nor kids knew quite what to expect. There are appropriately small soccer fields with appropriately small goals, and they divide the teams across two fields so every kid is "playing" at all times. The way it actually works, about 20% of the kids sit crying on the sidelines with their parents, 30% stand on the field and never move, 30% run around somewhat but are typically on the periphery of action, and 20% enthusiastically chase the ball down the field trying to score goals. Which goal is never a concern...shooting at your own goal is just as good as shooting at the other team's. There is no passing, and there is very little sense of competition...kids from the rival Lightning and homestanding Magic would happily follow each other toward the same goal until one or the other kicked it in.

Danny fell squarely into the last 20%, vigorously chasing the ball from one end to the next throughout the 45 minutes. He was a happy, flush, sweaty mess by the end, and eagerly asked "do we get to do this again next Saturday?" He scored his share of "goals," drafting alongside Emma, the Magic's best player and Mia Hamm of U4 soccer. As importantly, Danny was a good friend to his buddy Parker, who drifted between enthusiasm and frustration. At one point, Danny stopped mid run and went over to the sidelines where Parker had sought solace from his mommy, trying to encourage Parker to return to the fray.

As more kids drifted toward the sidelines, the coaches mercifully called the game a draw. Playing the role of "Team Mom," I was well-prepared with the most important moment of the morning: juice boxes and teddy grahams for the mighty Magic. Good to see that regardless of how it went on the field, every kid left happy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Danny the Dolphin

(alternately titled "Free at Last!")

Today was Danny's first day of school, finally. His preschool doesn't begin until after Labor Day, which really was only annoying because Clare started nearly a month ago. Not that this bothered Danny, mind you. In fact, when I mentioned to him yesterday, in my oh-so-eager voice, that school would be starting today, his response was, "Aw, not again!" Fortunately, he was perfectly cheerful about going today, and "happy as a clam" at school according to one eyewitness. A far cry from last year, certainly!

So today marks Danny's first day as a VCLC Dolphin, and the first time he is treading in the same footsteps as Clare, who was also a Dolphin. Last year Danny was a Cub at VCLC, but since Clare went to a different preschool when she was two, there wasn't the direct comparison. Not that there will be too much of one this year, either, given that Danny has a completely new set of teachers. Which is a good thing, because they are completely different kids, and I can tell they will be very different types of students, too. I don't necessarily mean that disparagingly, as Danny has recently demonstrated more academic prowess than I gave him credit for possessing. I mostly just think it will be interesting. He has a load of charm, so we'll see if he learns to use it to his advantage!

Monday, September 7, 2009


The kids and I just returned from a trip to Texas, where we visited my maternal grandparents. Incredibly, this is just over two months after we visited my paternal grandparents in Kansas. And by the way, both sets live independently in their own homes, at the ages of 86-88.

Whoever coined the title great-grandparents was pretty astute. While Tim did not have the special privilege of meeting any of his great-grandparents, I knew three of mine, so I really relish the fact that my kids have met theirs and are hopefully getting to know them, too. Of course, we don't visit them as often as any of us would like. But the time spent together was definitely memorable.

New Braunfels, TX is known for a vast array of water recreation, not the least of which is the Schlitterbahn (or Shitterbomb, as Katy unwittingly called it). I think I had overly high expectations of our visit to this place, based on our time at Adventure Island. The Schlitterbahn is the largest water park in the world, which was a bit overwhelming to us, but it's also a bit old, so it was hard not to be a bit icked out at times. Mostly I think our problem was the ratio of two adults to four kids. But ultimately I think the kids had a good time, so we'll focus on that.

However, I think they had an even better time simply playing at Grandma Deany and Grandpa Roger's house. Thanks to a break in the heat for most of our visit, they spent much of that time outside, doing heaven only knows what. My grandparents really don't keep any toys at their house, but they did have a flashlight. Turns out that armed with that and an iPhone, you can have a really fun dance party in the dark!

While they don't have toys, Grandma Deany and Grandpa Roger do have several decks of cards. Ask any of their 13 grandchildren to play Gin, and you'll have an experienced partner thanks to countless hands played with Grandmother and Grandfather. Let me tell you, they never took mercy on us, either, so if we were lucky enough to win a hand, it was fair and square. Last night the torch was passed to Katy, who had her first lesson in Gin. She lost, as did we all in our first few hands, but I'm pretty sure she won some respect from her great-grandparents - and the feeling was mutual.

To top it all off, Grammy and Grampy were also in town for this visit, so the cousins not only were reunited with each other (and shared a hotel room to boot!), and not only got re-acquainted with their great-grandparents, but also got to see their beloved grandparents - and even met/re-met great-uncle John, who drove in from Houston. My grandfather marveled at how well the four kids, who span age 3 to age 9, played together. I marvel at how special it was to have four generations mingling so easily.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Finding His Stride

Last night I found myself doing something I swore I wouldn't do - an increasingly frequent phenomenon the more parenting notches I get in my belt. Last night was Danny's first soccer practice, for his first official sports team experience. And yes, he's only three. I swore to myself that we wouldn't commit ourselves to weekend games and the like until Danny was old enough to truly understand what he was signing up for. But for those of you who have met Danny, you know that he really likes sports. The look on his face in the above photo says it all.

So we set off last night to meet the coach and embark upon his first practice. The experience was made all the sweeter by the fact that Danny's buddy Parker is on the team. Despite having seen each other only hours earlier, they had a joyful reunion on the field and stayed close to each other during each drill.

I'm happy to say that so far, Danny is an enthusiastic player who (usually) follows instruction and is eager to play. The games will no doubt be interesting, and it's too early to say that he won't wind up picking dandelions on the sidelines. But for now, as far as Danny is concerned, he's the next Beckham.

By the way, Tim suggested I title this post "My Left Foot," because Danny continues to baffle us by kicking with his left foot. He has exhibited no other left-handed tendencies, so who knows? Phil Mickelson is a righty who golfs left-handed. And Danny's own mother turns her deft (if I do say so myself) cartwheels left-handed, so perhaps this is just one more addition to the pantheon of leftish athletes.