Monday, April 29, 2013

Meet the Newest Member of our Family

His name is Victor.

(A quick aside:  My hyacinths are blooming!  Huzzah!)

Victor enjoys pillaging seaside villages, color-coordinating his outfits with the flowers around him, and brandishing his broadsword at greedy rabbits.  I hope.

I'm also pretty sure he OD's on caffeine every morning.

Painfully awake.

It's somewhat rare for Derek and me to so enthusiastically agree on home (or lawn) decor, but Victor was just kitschy enough for me and just Viking-y enough for Derek; thus, V's adoption was sealed.

I was a little leery of Victor the Viking at first, perched there on top of one of our bookcases throughout the winter.  I first read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe at a rather formative age, and have since wondered about every statue I've come across.  What this thing once alive?  Has it been frozen by a cold-loving, Christmas-hating villainess?  

Eventually, however, I got used to Victor's twitchy-eyed stare, and the two of us began conversing on a regular basis.  And by "conversing," I mean I rambled and V listened.  Victor is an excellent listener.

It was a long winter, okay?  Give me a break.

Today's his first day outside.  Am I worried he'll get lonely out there all by himself tonight?  Of course not, hahahaha, that would be crazy, hahahaha!   

On a completely unrelated note, look what I just found on the internets:

She's THIRTY BUCKS (and by "she," I mean Victoria; I've already named her), so there's pretty much no way she'll find a home around here, which is a shame, as she looks like an ideal companion for our Victor, not to mention the fact that she could bash garden vermin with her watering can and bake little garden gnome cookies for visitors.  

It's just as well, I suppose.  I can see myself going totally out of control on this one and adding Viking gnome children and grandchildren.  Then we'd be "those people" in our neighborhood.  If we're not already.

Update:  According to Derek, his name is spelled "Viktor." As in "Viktor the Vikings mascot."  Of course.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Silver Linings

I gotta tell you, today has been one of those days.  The kind where, in order to convince yourself that Yes, you should get out of bed tomorrow morning, you have to mentally gloss over all the negative aspects and accentuate the positive.

On that note, I give you all the great things that happened today:

This morning, Caedmon greeted me with a great big smile when I walked into his bedroom.  See?  That's a terrific positive.  He also gestured grandly like a miniature, male Vanna White while standing in the corner of his crib and proudly cried, "See what I did?" in order to properly showcase the vomit covering his sheets and blankets, his own clothing, and the bars of his crib.  I'm guessing he didn't point out the puke crusted in his hair simply because he couldn't see it.
Positive:  Caedmon's cheerful morning greeting and his channeling of a glittering game show model was a terrific way to start the day.  As long as you ignored the powerful stench.

This evening at the supper table, I got three whole bites of food into my mouth before Atticus brought forth a truly impressive amount of vomit before bursting into hysterical tears.  He was also kind enough to turn to the side immediately before doing so, saving the table and its spread of freshly prepared food from mixing with Atticus's slightly less fresh, already-digested food.
Positive:  I did get a little supper, and most of the puke landed on the laminate flooring.

Five minutes later, while I was working on cleaning up the aforementioned well-placed mess and Adelaide and Caedmon were plowing through their supper, astonishingly unaffected by their brother's impressive display of regurgitation, I could hear Derek leading Atticus toward the stairs to head up for a bath.  They made it all the way to the staircase before another chorus of heaving and splashing echoed through the house.
Positive:  It was in the front room, which is all wood flooring; easy clean-up.  Plus by this point I was giggling a bit maniacally, which Adelaide questioned.  I gave her a little history lesson and hit her with an Abraham Lincoln quote:  "I laugh because I must not cry.  That is all.  That is all."  While cleaning up vomit.  Parenting Level "Supreme Awesomeness": Unlocked.

I got to go to the library for a while this evening, which I believe gave me the fortitude I needed to clean up the mess I found in one of the children's bedrooms upon my return.  I won't burden you with the knowledge of exactly what it was, but I will say it was a puddle of a common byproduct of illness other than vomit nestled in a Vikings cap.  Evidently it magically appeared there, as none of our three children have any idea of its origin.
Positive:  We live in a time and place where modern plumbing exists.  I was able to throw the hat, a befouled teddy bear, and a number of pieces of less-than-pristine boys clothing into the washer with only minor clean-up beforehand, dump in some soap, turn a knob, and walk away.  Straight to the kitchen sink where I viciously scrubbed my hands.

Yup.  It was a good day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Society for the Protection of Non-Sentient Beings

I've held myself off from making a list as long as I could.  Looks like I made it three weeks.  Improvement.

  • It's been raining for about a week straight around here.  No, it hasn't been fun to be forced inside by cold, rainy weather, but at least it wasn't snow.  Until this morning, that is.  When it started snowing.  

  • Spell Check.  I don't like it.  It's always trying to tell me that me that my words are not words.  Summarization is a word, mmkay, Spell Check?  Crisler is... well, not a word, but it is spelled correctly.    Anyone know how to turn Spell Check off?

  • Yesterday afternoon, when I put Cade down for his nap, I left him with an assortment of books and toys in his crib to keep him occupied should he wake up before the official end of nap time (we don't fool around with the length of nap time around here; they can read books, they can play with toys, they can split their personalities into dozens of fractured pieces due to an extra thirty minutes' worth of motherly neglect, but they must be quiet and they must leave me the heck alone until nap time is officially over); one of his chosen toys was Mrs. Potato Head (Ms. Potato Head?  Miss Potato Head?  I don't know what the politically correct term is for female root vegetables of ambiguous marital status.  I'm sure there's some group of perpetually offended individuals who would be happy to set me straight, right after they douse me in whatever color paint you use when you've decided to be disgruntled on behalf of plants).  ANYWAY.  When I went to get Caedmon up from his nap, I found him sitting in his crib, decked out in Miss/Mrs./Ms. Potato Head's earrings, handbag, and glasses.  He took the earrings and purse off quickly enough, but refused point blank to part with the glasses.  "These are MY glasses, Mommy.  I wear glasses like the Other Atticus."  We'd had some friends over to play in the morning, you see, and one of these friends, the Other Atticus, wears glasses.

     He wore those things for two hours, including to and from the bus stop.  My face hurt just looking at him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our Vegas Trip in Pictures

Don't worry.  I didn't take many.

First up:  the reason we were there in the first place!  Well, the reason Derek was there.  He's the guy in the white shirt, studiously preparing for his presentation on the panel.  I must say, though, I was the very epitome of a helpful spouse that day at the conference; I did important things like take this photo and trail after him as we walked around all the different vendors, and while he talked about [insert technical jargon here] and [insert even more technical jargon] and [insert absurdly complicated technical jargon], I contributed by walking into stalls and saying, "Oh, this company's carpet is really squishy.  Very pleasantly springy.  Yes, I like this one."

I really don't know how he would have survived without me.

I took this picture in the Aria.  It was a good-sized flower bed, and even though there were signs that asked you not to touch, I gently touched them anyway.  How can you not touch flowers?  Plus I had to confirm they were real.  So much of Vegas is fake (I'll just say I'm talking about the grass and leave it at that).  Oh, but those two enormous flowers in the middle aren't real.  Neither is the monstrous stone hummingbird.  Just so we're clear.

You may also notice that the store in the background reads "Dior."  All of the stores in the Aria were ridiculously high-class (read: expensive), and most of the people walking around looked like they were headed for the Kentucky Derby, heels, hats and all.  I walked around in my comfy sneakers and ponytail and quietly sang to myself, "One of these things is not like the other..."

Derek and me in front of the Venetian.  Excuse me, Derek and Troy and me in front of the Venetian.  

These signs were in every public bathroom I had the privilege of frequenting.

It's a depressingly accurate summary of the city.

And this is about an hour after our return.  

I have no idea when Atticus got so huge.  It must have been during the three days we were gone.  I'm sure that's it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pretty Sure This One Won't be Picked Up by the Las Vegas Tourism Bureau

Derek had a work conference in Vegas this past week.  When first preparing for it a couple months ago, he asked if I wanted to come along.  A few days in a warm climate?  Travel to a location I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing before?  With no kids?  Um, YES.

Derek's mom and my mom (hereafter known as the Granny Nannies) both agreed to drive up and take care of the kids while we were away, earning our undying gratitude.

How do I describe Las Vegas, Nevada?

How's this:  I had planned on purchasing a whole stack of postcards and sending them to various friends and family while there; but as I perused the postcard carousel in a gift shop, the only thing I could picture writing on them read:  "This is one of the dirtiest places on earth.  Trust me when I say you don't wish you were.  But the food's AMAZING.  *smiley face!*"

Vegas is one of those places where you walk around all day, get back to your hotel room and feel your body engage in an involuntary head-to-toe shudder.  It was gaudy and seedy and had the overall feeling of trying too hard.

Still, it was time away from the kids, and while it was cooler most of the time we were there (50's and 60's), there was a terrific absence of snow.  And we definitely had some good times.

The highlights:

  • Derek and I both got nine hours of sleep Monday night.  In a row.  I woke up feeling electric, almost painfully alive.  

  • On Monday, I accompanied Derek to the conference for most of the day (a massive thing for the National Association of Broadcasters).  It was full of, well, broadcasters, not to mention millions of dollars worth of cameras and televisions and other fancy broadcasting equipment.  At one point, Derek and I were sitting in a session on something boring (to me, anyway); I had foreseen this, and brought a book (of course).  At one point, I noticed the gentleman sitting two chairs down from me giving me a not-so-subtle look, which I at first interpreted as, That is so rude- she should be paying attention to this incredibly boring speaker with his nearly incomprehensible accent!  Or something like that.  Upon looking around, however, I noticed that half the people in there were swiping and tapping away on their smart phones and tablets, and realized that his facial expression was less outraged than baffled.  So I'm pretty sure his thought was more along the lines of Is that a... a book?  Made out of... no- it can't be!  Made out of PAPER?!  I didn't know there were still people who read those things!  It made me feel like a rebellious anachronism.  Or maybe it was an anachronistic rebel.  

  • I left the conference a little early to return to the hotel room.  This meant riding the monorail from the convention center back to our hotel.  I had already registered my unease on the monorail with Derek, who thought my claims of "It just rocks around so much, and feels kind of... I don't know, loose," to be a trifle ridiculous, and did his level best to educate me on the difference between trains and and monorails and why monorails are so safe.  I won't quote him because I'm still not sure what he said.  That whole interaction took place in the morning; by the time I climbed back onto the monorail, I wasn't really freaked out- until, that is, an automated voice decided to announce the fact that the monorail HAS NO DRIVER and in a city that likes to party this makes for the best designated driver ever and blah blah blah.  I kept my head down so that my fellow commuters wouldn't see my eyes widening and whispered, "That's terrifying," which the lady next to me apparently overheard as she then looked at me and started laughing.  I like to think she shared my sentiments.

  • I ventured up and down the Strip Tuesday while Derek was at the conference, walking for hours.  It was glorious; I was able to walk as fast as I wanted (I'm a pretty speedy stroller) without hearing little voices saying things like, "Slow down!" and "You walk too fast!" and "Why are you always trying to leave us behind?"  I was also approached by a random guy in front of a casino (not a pimp or one of those people trying to force pornography in your face, and if you've ever been to Vegas you know I'm not even exaggerating) who looked respectable enough.  He asked me if I would like to view and then provide feedback on a new sitcom NBC is currently filming.  The lanyard and badge around his neck looked pretty official, but I still wasn't sure, so my first response was, "Is this a scam?  Am I about to be raped?"  He looked a little taken aback but recovered quickly enough, assured me that neither was the case, and eventually another lady and I followed him into the casino, I didn't hear any scary background music warning me that I was about to meet my demise, and finally ushered us into a room with a bunch of people watching the pilot episode on computers, fancy little clickers in their hands as they gave their opinion on what they were watching.  The whole thing took 45 minutes and I was paid $15 in cash.  I also wasn't raped or scammed.  Score.

  • So much good food.  SO MUCH.  I'm still thinking about that chocolate almond croissant, and the grasshopper shake, and that cheeseburger with shoestring fries (and I'm not even a big cheeseburger person), and those enchiladas... It's a good thing I walked umpteen miles between meals, or I would have been rolling back into the airport.  

  • So much of Vegas just makes you feel violated and nasty inside, but I really liked their airport.  It had lots of interesting and beautiful artwork.  Then I came to this:
Why, yes, that IS a rabbit.  I'm pretty sure they were mocking me.

Despite the location, we had a pleasant trip.  I made sure not to look back down at the city as our flight departed, lest I be turned into a pillar of salt, and the Granny Nannies weren't waiting on the front porch, bags in hand when we got back home (a good sign).  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Do Androids Dream of Electric Flowers?

Since moving into our house a few years ago, I've been able to identify most of the existing flora.  There are a few, however, which continue to mystify me.  It also turns out that I'm not so great at describing my flowers to Google:  "Purple... uh, flower-shaped... flower.  And it's little."  Turns out "little purple flower" doesn't give that specific of results.  I had a teensy moment of irritation that Google couldn't just read my mind, but then I realized that if it could, it would mean the machines have finally taken over, which led to the malignant suspicion that maybe thoughts like "Jeez, Google, just read my mind already!" are how it all starts and maybe Google planted that thought in my mind and I should recognize it as the beginnings of the inevitable AI coup.

Terrifying robotic overlords aside, I'm going to be asking you guys for help throughout this growing season.  I'll be posting photos of unidentified flowers as they bloom, and maybe you guys- real human beings- will be able to help figure out what they are (and yes, I do see the irony of this whole conversation/ paranoid rant taking place on a blog hosted by Google).

So!  First flowers of spring, and I have no idea what they are.  That's a promising sign, right?

They're a darker purple than they appear in this photo, and small, and uh, flower-shaped.

See 'em in there?  Really small.

In other exciting flower news, two of the three drumstick primroses I planted last summer have survived the winter!  They didn't bloom at all last year, so here's hoping for buds sometime soon.

Any ideas as to what those little purple flowers are?  (COME ON, HUMANS!)

UPDATE:  Big thanks to Cassi Renee, who determined those mystery flowers to be Glory of the Snow!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Greenstick Fractures!

Yesterday afternoon.  It's been a normal day.  I'm helping Atticus lower himself to his bedroom floor.

 He performs this weird, sideways twisting motion on the way down, because he is physically and emotionally incapable of making normal motions; he must insinuate extra hops and twists and gyrations no matter what he's doing.  I'm not sure if this is a boy thing or a four-year-old thing.

I'm not sure when it happens, when the strange twisting motion turns into a cringe of pain, but suddenly he's on his stomach, screeching and trying to lift himself up, only to find that his left arm can't support his body weight.  He collapses, then fruitlessly tries to crawl into his bed, doing his hurt cry the whole time, while I gape in astonishment.  I honestly have no idea what has just happened.

I help him into this bed.  He's lying on his back, his left arm stretched out by his side.  The slightest movement causes screams of pain, and he freaks out anytime I give the slightest indication I'm going to touch it.

Now, Atticus is not my hypochondriac child.  I have one of those.  She acts like her leg is broken when she stubs her toe and begs to visit the ER when her stomach hurts.  If this had been Adelaide, I would have waited until I left the room to roll my eyes, heated up a rice pack, and robotically patted her head while muttering, "There, there."  (Depending on how hurt she has decided to be, she either begrudgingly finds this funny or is severely insulted.)

Atticus doesn't do that.  When he does his hurt cry, I know he's actually hurt.  So the fact that he was doing his hurt cry and couldn't move his arm, hand, or fingers kind of freaked me out.

So I called my mom.

After describing the situation, she said it sounded like it could be a greenstick fracture and recommended getting him in to see the doc for an x-ray.  (Do you know how rare it is for my mom to mention the words "Doctor" and "Go" in the same sentence?  That alone was enough to get me moving at warp speed.)

I got Cade up from his nap, and hustled him and his sister out to the van.

I very gingerly helped Atticus get out of his bed, and we made it down the stairs and outside with only about a dozen pained outbursts from Mr. Greenstick Fracture.

On the two-minute drive to the doc's office, I call my friend Shayla.  She offers to come pick Adelaide and Cade up, and calms me down after I semi-hysterically wail something like, "My mom said it sounded like a greenstick fracture, and I think that's the fracture that shows up in forearms of children suffering from child abuse and now I'm about to be arrested for child abuse I didn't commit!"  She's also a nurse, and reassured me that a kid has to come in three times with something like this for the parents to be arrested.  Which was comforting.  And terribly depressing.

We get to the office.  They get us in within two minutes.  We see a nurse and doctor within ten minutes, which is amazing given that our boys' regular doc is off that afternoon and another doc is squeezing us into her schedule.  I love small towns and small-town clinics.

The nurse is suitably impressed with my magazine-and-Ace-wrap splint.  I tell her my mom's a school nurse, and she coached me over the phone.  The nurse nods as if this makes more sense.  I may have been exhibiting a bit of the crazy eye at this point.

They do an x-ray.  Atticus gets a sucker.

The doctor comes back into the exam room.  There are no broken bones.  (HALLELUJAH!)  He has nursemaid's elbow.  The doc does that little twisting thing that I could have done at home, Atticus writhes in pain while it's being done, but once she feels it click into place, our son is miraculously fine again.

I feel a little foolish until the doc says that it really wasn't presenting like nursemaid's elbow (that Adelaide has had four or five times): he wasn't cradling his arm the way they usually do, he was complaining of pain in the wrong place, he didn't seem to mind when she was manipulating his elbow.  So it wasn't only me that was fooled.  Or maybe it was and the good doctor was just nice enough to pretend otherwise.  Either way, I'm satisfied.

I call my mom back.  She says that no, it's a spiral fracture that is indicative of child abuse.

All I remember is seeing two x-rays side by side in one of my psych textbooks, one greenstick and one spiral, and that one was a red flag for abuse and one wasn't.  Evidently all I took away from that was BROKEN FOREARM BONES (that's a technical term, friends) IN YOUR OFFSPRING MEANS YOU ARE THROWN IN JAIL AND YOUR CHILDREN ARE TAKEN FROM YOU.

All in all, it was an unnecessarily traumatic afternoon.  But I am extremely grateful that Atticus doesn't have a broken arm.  And that I'm not in prison.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Smooth Operator

Hello, all!  I hope you had a pleasant, joyous, and stress-free Easter weekend.

Let's see, how did ours go?

Saturday I cursed the person who invented the entire concept of the Easter bunny.  Then I cursed myself for deciding to ever take part in all that nonsense.  Don't get me wrong; I am most certainly not one of those parents who seems to treat Easter like Second Christmas.  Our kids got some prunes and some banana chips and some yogurt-covered raisins, and yes, even some candy.  But I was just so irritated, stuffing their baskets Saturday night, mostly because it's nearly impossible to try and get a 4-year-old to focus on Jesus when there's candy in the running.

Then I did a mental face-slap and told myself to lighten up.  Which helped, and made for a much happier Easter day for the rest of my family.

Easter morning there were special Easter outfits to don (Adelaide's outfit:  Easter dress from last year, cardigan from three Easters past, shoes we already owned; Atticus's outfit: already owned khaki pants and shoes, $1 garage sale Ralph Lauren button down shirt; Caedmon's outfit: already owned khaki pants and shoes, hand-me-down shirt from Atticus; total Easter outfit cost:  $1.  BOOM BABY.), Easter candy to snarf when Mom's not looking, and pictures to take.  Our children once again must have conspired to ensure that in no shot would all three of them be smiling.  They were more or less successful.

Then we went to church, where I got to hold a gigantic 1-year-old as he cried himself to sleep while I was helping in the children's area.  I also learned that it is very difficult to maintain any pride or modesty while sitting in a chair with said sleeping toddler (seriously, that kid was bigger than Caedmon, who's no delicate flower) sprawled over you while wearing a white sundress and four-inch wedges (me, not the boy- but that would have been kind of hilarious).  

After that, we went to our friends' house for Easter dinner (remember Hannah*? It was her family).  We all ate delicious food, Atticus was about as subtle as a Mack truck around Hannah, and the kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt.

Caedmon managed to latch on to one of Hannah's younger sisters, Hallie*.  Hallie's a couple years younger than Hannah, and took it upon herself to help take care of Cade while we were there.  Caedmon, for his part, loved the attention and its associated perks.

For instance:  Cade and Hallie were both seated at the children's table (you know what's awesome?  Getting to the point where your kids are all old enough to sit at the children's table BY THEMSELVES), and she helped him with various food-related tasks, such as buttering his bread.  I had noticed, by occasionally glancing at the kids' table, that she had given him three or four pieces of buttered bread, but I wasn't about to quibble when I was getting to eat all by myself.  If bread and butter is what it takes to get me un-interrupted ham-eating time, then bread and butter he shall have.  What Derek eventually pointed out was that Caedmon wasn't actually eating the bread, he was merely licking the butter off, handing the piece of bread back to Hallie, who would then slather another layer of butter on, and the whole process would repeat itself.  Again, I would have put a stop to it, but I had ham and mashed potatoes in front of me.  I will not apologize for my personal hierarchy of priorities.

A short time later, Caedmon asked Derek and I for dessert.  He got a red-velvet cupcake, and a few minutes later we cleaned off his red velvet-laden face, hands, neck, chest, and shirt.  

At that point he was expected to scamper off so that I could eat my own cupcake.  Maybe halfway through that cupcake, however, Derek motioned to the kids' table, where lo and behold, Caedmon is again seated, now with a slab of four-layer cake in front of him.  It didn't take long to deduce that Cade, in his two-year-old boy wisdom, had skipped the part where he asks his parents for more dessert (knowing what the answer would be), and gone straight to sweet, soft-hearted Hallie, who of course gave him some.  

She then helped him hunt for Easter eggs, putting off her own search until his basket was full.  

After all that, he wouldn't hug her good-bye.  He did ask about her (twice) after we returned home, but I explained that he had had his chance to bid her a fond farewell, and had missed it.  I also may have wandered down a confusing path that included a lecture on the dangers of playing hard to get and how girls that go for that kind of thing generally aren't worth getting.  Fortunately for me, he was struggling to peel an orange and generally ignoring me and my drivel by the time I came to and remembered to whom I was speaking.

There you go.  Our Easter in a nutshell.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.