Feb 282013
 

in van, kids discuss what Olympic sports they want to play
HENRY: Mom? You know what sport I’m glad’s NOT in the Olympics? Shark wrestling.

•••••

discussing his first loose tooth
JENNIFER: Soon you’ll start getting your teeth in that you’ll have forever.
HENRY: Man, I can’t believe I’m starting to be a grown-up already.

•••••

JENNIFER: What would you do if I just kissed on your face all day long?
HENRY: I’d run away…(in lower voice) into the deep, dark forest.

•••••

during our morning snuggle
HENRY: Mommy, if you were a wall, would your life be really boring?

 

Feb 012013
 

Oh, January, you started off so well. We were still full of warm fuzzy feelings after a great Christmas. Justin Timberlake released new music. Airfare was booked for an impromptu trip to visit my sister in Portland.

And then the germpocalypse hit.

Henry and Eleanor’s kindergarten class started dropping like flies. For a few days, seven of the class of twelve were out sick. Poor Henry missed an entire week of school. Late that week I took him to immediate care, just to make sure his continuing low-grade fever and coughing hadn’t morphed into something requiring drugs. I should probably get checked out, too, I thought, since I had started running a fever the previous evening.

Yeah, tested positive for Type A flu. Guess who hadn’t had her flu shot thanks to an autumn full of family deaths and her primary care doctor leaving the practice?

DUDE. I have a sky-high pain tolerance, for example, walking around all la-di-dah for a weekend with what turned out to be internal bleeding, and the flu straight-up made me CRY. Multiple times. When the flu hit Downton Abbey I watched Cora all tossing and turning and thought, really? are we sure the flu is really like that? Yes. Yes it is. Except you probably won’t be in an estate surrounded by ladies maids, you’ll be in a recliner wrapped in a Snuggie. I hurt so bad all over, and stopped taking my temperature when I hit 102.8, and that was the sickest I’ve been in my adult life, and I’m never ever EVER skipping my flu shot ever again. (Save me your stories of how the only time you’ve been sick was when you had the flu shot, or you never get one and you’re fine. I’ve probably already seen your comments on Facebook about it and I don’t care. It just means I won’t have to knock you over trying to rush to the front of the flu-shot line next fall.)

So that was a fun entire week of feeling miserable. Then I hopped on a plane and visited my sister for a whirlwind long weekend in Portland.

And arrived home just in time for a stomach bug. Eleanor was up in the middle of the night Tuesday night with stomach issues, and proceeded to miss two days of school this week. I was up in the middle of the night Wednesday night with stomach issues, and Andy’s middle-of-the-night turn was last night. We’re all nibbling on saltines and peanut butter, and lamenting the Pacers floor seats we had to give up Wednesday night and the fun “let’s go eat tapas” date we had planned last night.

But thankfully January’s over, here’s to a healthier February. Now to just figure out if tanker trucks full of Lysol are available to individual consumers, or if it’s easier to just take a blowtorch to my house and start over.

Jan 042013
 

Notice the lack of Fat to Fit Friday posts lately? Yeah, that’s because I’ve been too busy this holiday season eating All The Things. Cookies? Check. Homemade caramels? Check. That Chex-and-Cheerios-and-pretzels-and-M&Ms-and-white-chocolate-stuff-that-I’ve-only-heard-called-White-Trash-but-maybe-there’s-a-better-name-for-it? Check.

But in the midst of the GET IN MAH BELLEH sugar rush my family’s developed a weird obsession with the cheese ball my Mom makes. Like, we maybe can’t stop talking about it and have also possibly done a happy dance or two over it. Kids, adults, its nut-coated dairy power is limitless. So now I’m sharing it with you in my evil quest to not be the only person who has no chance of fitting into the cute running pants their spouse got the for Christmas. Bring on the cheese!

CHEESE BALLS

Makes 2 (one for you, one to force upon your friends)

2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 package (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 T. finely chopped onion
1 T. chopped red bell pepper (Mom leaves this out, I do, too)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
dash ground red pepper
dash salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix all together except for the pecans.
Make into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Roll in pecans.
Try not to inhale in one sitting.

Dec 142012
 

Last night was my last Intermediate Swimming class. I love that I can tell a difference in my abilities from when the class started two months ago. I can swim a length of freestyle without having to stop midway through, and can regulate my breathing without getting winded. I can do a flip turn (yay!) and a “elbow someone/do your hair” breaststroke turn. I can do freestyle, breaststroke, elementary backstroke, regular backstroke, and sidestroke. I can dive (yay!) off the starting block (double yay!).

Now just to keep practicing and getting better, both in technique and just overall being in shape. My challenge right now is to start getting in a regular schedule of workouts. You’d think it would be easy since the kids are in school every day, but it’s not, at least for me. Those handful of hours when Henry and Eleanor are in school are the only time I get to run errands by myself, or answer emails without getting interrupted, or do any number of things that go much quicker when I can do them in solitude. Taking an hour or so to head to the Y cuts into that already-limited time. I struggle with the balance of taking care of the household and taking care of myself. But if I’m going to do the half-marathon next spring, I’ve got to start making a schedule and sticking to it. This week I’ve managed to ride the recumbent bike here at home one night, and have been swimming twice. It’s a start, right?

And can I count chopping off my hair as losing some weight this week? My hair is so thick—a good problem to have, I know—but I was discovering that swimming + my hair = I was starting to feel like my hair was never ever dry. When it’s longer, it can take seven or eight hours to air-dry after swimming or showering. So at my hair appointment last week I gave the okay to chop it.

It’s amazing how five or six less inches makes me feel at least twenty pounds lighter. But, as I’ve warned Andy, you are NOT allowed to call it Mom Hair. It’s my Swimming & Training For The Mini Hair. Got it?

Dec 102012
 

Henry and Eleanor play with Legos
ELEANOR: (rummages in bin) And Henry! THIS one  is called the Big Lego Bin of Deepness, because it’s biggest and stuff.

•••••

at supper table, talking about what we saw at the Jingle Rail exhibit
JENNIFER: …and there was Old Faithful, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Rushmore.
ANDY: Do you know who’s on Mount Rushmore?
HENRY: Phineas and Ferb.

•••••

kids play outside, Jennifer works inside
*doorbell rings*
JENNIFER: (opens door)
HENRY: We’re playing Power Rangers, so can we call you Zordon?
JENNIFER: Um, sure?

•••••

watching TV, “every kiss begins with Kay” jingle plays
HENRY: (singing) Every poop begins with me…

Dec 092012
 

Henry and Eleanor are finally at a good age to play games, and they do so daily at kindergarten. Every day at school there’s a game or two at the activity tables, which has been an excellent way to scope out what the kids like and would be good to play at home. Best of all, I don’t have to let them win! All of the following games we either already own or they’re on our Christmas list. Without further ado:

I Never Forget A Face Memory Game (shown above): beautiful illustrations make this more interesting (and challenging, at least for me, who apparently DOES forget faces) than other memory games.


UNO: You know the drill on this one, since you probably grew up playing it, too. My kids get waaay too delighted over making Mom draw four.

Dizios: I had never heard of this game until I saw it at school, but Eleanor consistently says it’s her favorite. Great for kids who have a knack for patterns or have good spatial awareness. Kinda like dominos, but instead of dots you have to match up the swirly patterns. Surprisingly difficult sometimes! Right now we play without scoring, but we’ll be able to add in that aspect later, ensuring we’ll get several years out of this game.

Spot It: The runaway favorite at school, Henry’s favorite (and mine!) too. There’s several different ways you can play this, although so far we’ve only played one way. Games go quickly, and it’s small enough to be very portable. Don’t tell my kids, but Santa’s already purchased this for under the tree.

Blink:  This game’s been out a lot at school, but I haven’t had the chance to play it yet. Henry and Eleanor give it a thumbs-up, though, and I like that the games go quickly, so it’s on the list for Santa.

Ruckus:  Another game the kids love that I haven’t had a chance to play, so let’s hear from Eleanor instead: “It’s fun to make the matches.” Good enough for me, it’s also on our Santa list.

Left Right Center:  Andy and I received this for Christmas a few years ago, but never played it since it called for a minimum of three players. I got it out on a whim a few weeks ago and it immediately became a family favorite. Good practice on remembering left and right, and the games go quickly enough that we like to play a few rounds as a treat before bedtime.

So now you know what Henry and Eleanor are getting for Christmas. Shhhh…don’t tell them, okay?

photos either by me or from Amazon
links are our school’s affiliate 

Dec 062012
 

Despite the fact that I blab about my life here on this blog, I’m not really a “let’s share our feelings” sort of person. So I was just as surprised as you are when, after we lost Sam and Emilie, my greatest source of comfort was our infant loss support group.

We attended regularly for a couple years, and attended a “subsequent pregnancy” group when we were pregnant with Henry and Eleanor. These groups were invaluable to us. It was the one place where people got it, where you could crack a morbid joke or admit your bitterness over others’ pregnancies and people would nod in understanding.

We attend only the rare meeting now, but one we don’t miss is every December, when they hold a candlelight ceremony to remember the children and pregnancies we’ve lost. I look forward to it; it allows us a moment during a busy time of year to reflect on our family and how it came to be. It also gives us a chance to reconnect with others who attended the group the same years we did, the people who knew us as “Sam and Emilie’s parents” when the rest of the world wouldn’t (and still don’t) acknowledge it.

This is the first year that Henry and Eleanor took part in the ceremony, the first year they weren’t too young to understand what was going on. We had explained things as best we could, that they had to stay quiet and be respectful, that they’d see some people (including Mom and Dad) be sad, and that was okay. And they could feel sad or not sad, and that was okay, too. And to my great relief, they did wonderfully.

I was actually a little surprised at how seriously they took the ceremony, and how important it seemed to them. Eleanor was quick to dart up to fetch Kleenexes at the first sight of a tear; I had a fistful by the end. She even teared up a little herself during one or two of the songs, although she’d never admit it (“I’m not crying, Mom, my eyes are just randomly watering.”). Henry looked solemn and listened intently to everyone’s stories. At one point, Eleanor whisper-asked me what day was Sam and Emilie’s birthday and how old they’d be in heaven, then mentioned we should get the candles back out for their birthday next year to celebrate.

When it came time to light the candles, the girls lit one for Emilie and the boys did one for Sam. Eleanor took her job very seriously. She scoped out the candle she wanted, and insisted on saying Emilie’s name as we lit the candle. Henry picked out his candle, too, and both kids held them all the way home, where they insisted on lighting them again. Granted, Henry then wanted to carry his around the house like he was exploring, but overall, I think they understood the specialness of tonight.

I struggle with how much to incorporate Sam and Emilie into our daily lives. I think about them every day, but don’t want Henry and Eleanor to grow up with the spectre of a dead brother and sister always hanging over their heads. But the fact of the matter is that there will always be visits to the cemetery, and candlelight ceremonies, and mentions of people who are in our family but aren’t here with us. It’s a tricky balance to acknowledge the reality of our family but do so in an age-appropriate way. So Andy and I just do our best, answering questions honestly when they’re asked, and talking about Sam and Emilie when we feel it’s relevant. We’re basically making up the rules as we go along, I mean, who can ever expect and fully prepare for their family to be a blend of living and non-living children? Hopefully tonight proved that we’re on the right track.

Dec 032012
 

We joined the whole elf-on-the-shelf brouhaha last year, and Henry and Eleanor loved it. They had fun searching for the elf every morning, and randomly named him Ted.

They’ve been asking if Ted was coming back this year. Yesterday Andy told them that they could ask the Christmas tree, that Santa could hear them through the most Christmas thing in the house. I wish you could have seen them standing two inches from the tree, asking Santa if Ted could come back.

And voila! Ted made his triumphant return this morning, bringing a treat for breakfast with him.

I love this age, where they’re so smart about so many things, but also so quick to believe. Eleanor’s asking more questions this year (“is Ted just a toy?”) but still trusts our answers or makes them up herself (“he looks like a toy but changes into a real elf after we’re asleep”). I know we don’t have many years of this left. At some point the questions will overtake the faith in the answers. So for right now we’re trying to soak it up as much as we can. Because two five-year-olds’ excitement over elves who deliver Pop-Tarts? Pretty magical.