Friday, December 31, 2010

Backdating

I'm backdating this post so that it sits as a final post for 2010 (I'm actually writing this on January 1, 2011). In January 2010, I set some goals for the year. Here's how I did:

1. I didn't spend as much time with Eli as I wanted to. Is this what happens when you have children? We're busy. But this next year I'm going to make that a challenge. We're going to celebrate eight years this year. We've grown and changed together, and I want that to continue. None of this empty nest "Hi, who are you?" junk for us 20 years down the road.

2. I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked. But, on the bright side, I think we had a great summer with Elsie. In fact, being home with her during the summer and during my maternity leave left me with a profound sadness at being a working mom. I'm excited about this coming warmer weather--she'll be a lot more interactive and we'll have a lot more fun exploring the simple pleasures in life (like sprinklers!).

3. The doing nothing on the computer thing didn't get worse, but it didn't get better, either. I think writing in my blog, reading others' blogs, and getting caught up with status updates on FB sucked a lot of my time away. It sure would be great to see some of my friends in person instead of having to catch up over the computer.

4. Hooray! One I can call a success! I spent less, saved more, and PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS EARLY! Hip hip hooray!

5. Yeah, about that exercise...I was pregnant most of the year. And big and fat and tired. And then I went back to work. We'll work on it this year.

6. I did a lot of purging when we bought a house and moved. But, I'm still a piler, and I'm working to get better at maintenance. Baby steps. Baby steps. (And the totebag collection disappeared with the move!)

7. And, finally, I did read more! I started the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and just finished book...8 (?) tonight. It's been good. But I would like to keep it up, and maybe make a pre-bedtime reading routine. Sure would like a bedside lamp... Except that there's the whole toddler-clears-off-my-rickety-bedside-table-daily thing to dissuade that purchase.

Lessons learned? I need to take care of me a little better, and I need to care for my marriage more deliberately. My husband is pretty spectacular. :)

Bring on the new year!

Cheers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Hymns

I love Christmas music--not cheesy commercial songs, no no no no. Christmas hymns. Songs of praise and worship that are not contemporary. I think I have narrowed down my top two favorite Christmas hymns. Sometimes I get carried away with the singing and don't pay attention to what I'm singing, so here I'm posting the lyrics of these beautiful songs for reading and appreciating (but you can sing them if you want).

What Child is This?

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The baby, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!


O Holy Night

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

-----
Hey everyone! Go tell it on the mountain! Jesus Christ is born!

Cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Green and Gooey (I hope you've already eaten breakfast)

It really is that time of year. I feel bad that both of my children got my proclivity for snot production. We are the three of us Darth Vaders lately. Elsie has spent the last two or three days with the goo coming out of her nose at a constant rate. Oscar is more suffering from drainage and has developed a productive cough, even though he can't spit, so he swallows. Gross, I know. But this is life. This has been my life for over three decades, and this is just the beginning for los dos ninos.

I have used the Snotsucker on Elsie, but it's almost not worth the tantrum because the snot has developed the amazing ability to regenerate, starfish style. Last night she has some major bubbles coming out of her nares. Commence extraction. Commence tantrum. Commence more snotskies. I lose.

As a result of this latest mucous development, we have all turned into mouth breathers, particularly at night. So, last night, for the first time, I left a water cup in Elsie's bed with her. I mean, I've been waking up with cotton mouth multiple times during the night, so I keep a giant cup of water on my night stand. I have been nursing Oscar more often because he wakes up with a dry cough that I interpret as cotton mouth, and Elsie had been doing some middle-of-the-night screaming. She didn't scream last night. I went to get her up this morning and the cup was almost empty. Coincidence that she was in a much better mood this morning?

On a completely separate note, O has started reaching for objects. And his grip has improved. Yesterday Elsie tried to pull something away from him and he held fast. She was frustrated, but she didn't scream. He just went back to what he was doing (drooling and gumming).

E & O make me smile. I love my children.

Cheers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Things

Eli is bugging me about updating the blog, so here I am, with two vignettes for you.

1. I went on a shopping spree at Kohl's the beginning of December with a gift card that was given to me by three lovely ladies at Oscar's shower. They made me promise to use the card for myself. Gulp. The truth is that since Elsie made her debut, and then Oscar, I really don't spend all that much money on myself outside of drinks from Sonic and the occasional shake from Chik-Fil-A. It's hard to spend money on myself, particularly at a place like Kohl's. But I did it. I went and got some clothes to wear to work.

I held onto that gift card for so long becuase I guess I secretly hoped the pounds would melt off without much work on my part aside from breastfeeding. I didn't want to buy clothes that would be too big. But, you know, at some point it was prudent that I stop wearing maternity clothes and wear real clothes. Turns out, I'm between sizes (in a happy and sad way) but really needed pants, so I bought the bigger size. I'm pretty boring--same pants, four different colors. And then for shirts, I bought three solid-color, long-sleeved, crew-neck tees (same style, different colors); two striped, v-neck, long-sleeved tees (same style, different colors), and one stiped v-neck sweater. Yep. Boring. Perhaps someone needs to refer me to What Not to Wear or another similar show.

On another bright side, I got some Kohl's Cash with my purchase, so I went back and got something for the kids for next summer. And I didn't pay a dime. Sweet.

2. Last Thursday was our behavior incentive for 7th grade. Remember I had been sick on Tuesday? I was feeling better, so I decided to put some skates on and just give it a whirl (totally disregarding the fact that I pinched my sciatic nerve on this same activity last year, and totally disregarding my terrible dreams on severe injury the night before). All was well. The kids were great; we all had fun. I raced some of the other teachers and lost, but I never fell on my rear--not once!

The other teachers decided that we must just be planning incentive trips around things that I do well. I laughed. Sadly, this just means that my golden years were those of middle school in Altus, Oklahoma. Seriously, I bowled with YABA at the base lanes on the weekends, and attended countless birthday parties at the local skating rink. It was awesome. Yep. I'm a middle school teacher for a reason--it's all becoming so clear.

Cheers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

O 4 month Doctor Update

On Tuesday, I took O to the doctor for his 4 month well-check, but I haven't posted about it yet because I was siiiiick on Tuesday and decided that curling up and dying was more pressing than updating the blog. A lot has been going on around here in my overwhelming life, and I will update soon, but I don't want to forget these stats(and, heck, it's been three days, so I can't guarantee the accuracy of my brain or these numbers):

Oscar, 4 months & 2 days
Weight: 15 pounds 7 oz.
Length: 25 inches
Head...It was an even number, but I really have no idea...

Cheers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

4 Months of O

Another month has vanished!

Oscar is four months old today. I know every child is different, and I'm experiencing it firsthand. I just went back and read Elsie's 4 Month blog update and have been reassured that Oscar is no Elsie.

Some notes: Oscar has been in size 2 diapers for over a month, but won't last in them too much longer (another month or two at most), and he's just now starting to wear 6-9 month clothing regularly, though some 3-6 month stuff still fits him.

He has been giggling since the weekend of November 6-7, long before Elsie started giggling. I remember when he started giggling because Elsie was eating her breakfast and Oscar was on the pink c-shaped chair and Elsie did something and I started laughing, then Elsie started laughing with me, and then Oscar started laughing, and then it was just contagious. So, we called and left a voicemail for Eli (who was at drill) with lots of giggles, and then we called my mom. I couldn't let those giggles go to waste. Rest assured it quickly turned in into crying all around, but it was memorable.

I haven't done "tummy time" with him since he was about a week old (meaning tummy on the floor time, not tummy to tummy, which he actually likes), but today he was in a good mood, so I put him down on an activity mat on his tummy and he promptly rolled to his back. I put him back and he did it again. And that was it. After that he was done with being on his tummy and just cried.

I try to put him on his back on the floor as much as I can when Elsie is not around, but he doesn't seem to be too close to rolling over, which Elsie was doing by now. And he's not scooting around any. He does have good abdominal muscles though and prefers to sit up to any other way of holding him. He's started holding on to objects for brief periods of time and putting them into his mouth when he can, so I'm doing his Christmas shopping based on this.

Like Elsie's hair, his is also falling out and growing in blonde. (In fact, the second picture on the Elsie 4-month update looks pretty much like Oscar.) The other day he was on our bed with the sun shining in the window behind him and I got a glimpse of what he's going to look like with blonde hair as I witnessed his sun halo. He already is so cute, but he's going to do some major heart-breaking.

He still wants a swaddle, and he'll scream if he manages to get an arm or two free. So, we get up in the night, tuck his arms back in, plug him up, and he goes back to sleep. He is still sleeping in his Pack-N-Play bassinet in our room (in the sitting area) but I think we're going to make the whole rooming transition after the holidays, after our family has gone and we can set up a bed in the second bedroom. Oscar will go in the crib in what is now Elsie's room, and Elsie will move into a different bedroom with a different bed. But what kind? We're still determining what to do. Maybe a toddler bed AND a twin bed in the same room? I don't know.

It's very interesting to see how two children can develop differently. I'm not worried about Oscar--he'll do stuff at his own pace. He'll roll over. He'll pull up. He'll grow hair. He'll crawl. He's his own person. Love him.

Cheers.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

19 Months

Where is the time going? My baby is 19 months old? Already! And there's no going back!

I remember back in the early months, Elsie was changing very rapidly, and then she seemed to hit a plateau as far as noticeable growth and change. But now that she's started using words, we're on again. I'm so amazed. So, so amazed.

She has an incredible temper (where did she get that from?), so it didn't surprise me the other day when she started throwing a fit when the tray wouldn't come off of Oscar's Bumbo chair, try as she might. He was sitting playing with some toys and started getting upset at her outburst, so I redirected her. I was folding laundry, so I didn't see how this interchange started, but as she will always do, she came back. This time I watched.

She looked at Oscar and then asked him, "Done?" She used the sign language for "all done" and then tried to remove the tray again. I was in awe. This is exactly the same ritual we use when Elsie is done eating. We ask her, "All done?" while also signing it, and then remove her high chair tray before lifting her to the ground. Where is my baby?

This last month has been an understandable vocal explosion. Some of the ones that I can remember are listed below.


  • If you sneeze, she'll say "shoo shoo" every time. Bless you?

  • In addition to "Thank you," which she says quite clearly, she now is saying, "Thank you, wah wah." Welcome?

  • She will also say, "All gone!"

  • Any time she sees football on TV, or even pictures of football, she'll raise her arms and exclaim, "Touchdown!" and frequently follow it with "Yay!" She also does this randomly when there is not, in fact, anything football related around.

  • She loves pointing out anything and everything that could possibly be a "cup."

  • She likes repeating, "Go, go, go!" and "Up, up, up!"

  • The other day I was doing something and she told me to "Stop!"

  • She's also picked up the ever-dreaded "Mine!" (Where did that come from?)

  • She loves saying Oscar's name. If she hears him crying, she will alert me to that fact by saying "Ah-kuh."

  • Instead of just "Hi!" she now says hello, but it sounds like "Hewo." Unless of course she's speaking Spanish, in which case she'll say "Ah-la" while sticking her tongue all the way out.

  • Oh, and she very clearly says "apple" and "car."


Turns out that she's also very adept at the body part finding game. I have to remember to leave "Where's Elsie's nose?" for last, because she always, ALWAYS, puts her finger up her nose. :) If I forget and ask, "Where's Elsie's eye?" or "Where's Elsie's ear?" she will always put the offending finger immediately in those locations, boogers be darned. (And she IS my child, so there are always boogers. Haha.)

She likes pointing out "mama" and "dada" and "ah-kuh" and "eh-see" in family pictures likes the ones hanging on our fridge. Tonight at dinner she was naming family member, and at one point I think she actually said "mama and dada". And then she said someone else. I asked, "Who?" And she turned to me, very calmly and said, "Who?" like I was the one who had just said something weird. It was funny.

She has also started verbal pauses. "Elsie, do you have a stinky diaper?" She says, very automatically, "Umm.." before answering in the negative. It's always a negative when it comes to the diaper. :) But when it comes to food, it is frequently affirmative. That's my girl.

One bad habit that I am looking for ideas for curbing is biting. I was pushing the cart at Wal-Mart tonight and she leaned over and BIT the top of my hand when I wouldn't take it off the handle. (What is it about biting the hand that feeds you?!?) And frequently when she's mad, she bites. Ugh.

Finally, she also thinks it's funny to have my hair in her mouth, and I frequently have to avoid her leaning over to lick my hair. Yes. I said lick. And she comes in tongue first, so there is no question as to her intentions. It's. just. weird.

But that's my weird flesh and blood. So it had to come from someone. Haha.

Cheers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Voiceless Hoarse

It's that time of year again. This year has been a little worse than before as far as the sinus drainage accompanying the weather changes. (I'm afraid little O has gotten my predisposition for mucous. I'm 2 for 2 with the mucous and allergies, and Eli's 2 for 2 with the blond hair and blue eyes...) Anyway, I was tutoring at Sylvan on Wednesday night and I realized that my voice was starting to sound adolescent. The next morning, I was completely hoarse. My students would imitate my voice cracking and then laugh. I tolerated their joking. By Friday, I was mute.

Now, my students were actually very good while I couldn't talk, and thankfully it was a library day, so there wasn't much talking to be done anyway. But what is a teacher without a voice? It made me really wish that all the technological equipment was already set up in my classroom so that I could have easily weathered this storm. Instead, I had a designated student speak for me. I would whisper to them and they would make the announcement. It was actually kind of funny. By the end of the day, I had a typed, numbered list of everything I needed to say and I would just have to say numbers to my vocal representative. Eli was at drill this weekend, so I couldn't even talk to him on the phone Friday night--we had to Google chat.

On Saturday, I had a little squeak back, and I had to go to the bank. I didn't think this through before I left and realized halfway there that I would have to actually speak to the lady through the drive-thru speaker. I tried really hard, and their end must be very sensitive because she seemed to understand all my little squeaks. The lady said that I sounded a little hoarse and wanted to know if I was getting sick. (She was kind--I was pretty much voiceless.) I told her that this was actually the sound of me getting better!

We had the pleasure of spending Saturday celebrating Christmas with our fabulous neighbors. His 4-year-old daughter is here for three weeks so they did early Christmas for her so she can play with her toys while she is here. I had dinner with them on Friday night and she asked me why I was whispering to her. I tried to explain about the drainage, but really, how do you explain that to a 4-year-old? Even the phrase "lost my voice" was incomprehensible to her (I'm pretty sure I saw the wheels turning as she wondered where I could have lost it...). Finally, she just turned to my neighbor and said, "A---, why is she being quiet?"

So Saturday, with the whole family around, I felt really stupid because I couldn't really talk to anyone and socialize. Thankfully Elsie puts on a really good show and she did all the talking that needed to be done on behalf of the Beaver family. She was a hit.

Today I went to church not realizing how traumatizing it would be to sit in the service while everyone sings the Christmas hymns that I love and not be able to sing the alto parts (or ANY part) that I know because to open my mouth would unleash a flurry of squeaks and cracks. It was both humbling and painful. Anyone who knows me in my adult life knows that I just love hyms and SATB parts where I can read the alto part (something that I picked up from being a Beaver). I've been doing it long enough now that I do a pretty good job with hymns we sing regularly. At first I viewed today as lost, a missed opportunity to show my stuff, but then I was able to concentrate on the words to the hymns without worrying about the music and finally the focus was in the right place. To God be the glory.

One thing that has become painfully clear is that I still, after all these years and all those admonishing report card notes, LOVE to talk. I found myself the other day dreaming about what a nightmare it would be for me if the voicelessness were a permanent condition! What a handicap to have! Would I even be able to have one of those little computer microphones that reads my voice box vibrations, a la Stephen Hawking? (We had a family friend who had had throat cancer when we were little, and she used one of those--we thought for sure she was a robot.) And then I wondered how I would feel about my children never hearing my voice again. It would be weird and heartbreaking for me.

Thankfully, my voice is coming back. There is actual vocalization today, but I've been trying to minimize it. It's the little things that we take for granted. Again, thank you, Lord, because I'm not a very good mime.

Cheers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Familia de Castor

Despite all the catastrophic events leading up to Thanksgiving, we made the decision to go to Long Beach, MS, to Aunt B's house to spend the holiday with the extended Beaver family. PawPaw is not doing well, so it was important that we spend this holiday with them, despite the need to recover from our vacation. Here's a picture of Eli's immediate family (clockwise from upper left; bro, sis-in-law, Dad, Mom, O, Eli, me, E, PawPaw's wife M, Paw Paw, sis).



A picture of my little man:




And my favorite picture of the day:




Evidently, Elsie and I were asleep during all the picture taking since it was her nap time and she would only sleep amid the chaos if we held her, so I held her and took a nap, too. And when we weren't napping, we were swinging on the swingset in the backyard and sliding down the slide.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I did not get any pictures of our Orlando trip. Not a one. I mean, who wants to see the insides of hotels and hospitals? ;)

Cheers.

Photo credits: E. Beaver Photography (Eli's cousin)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting back to...normal?

We're here. Eli accused me of giving up on the blog. Haha. I told him I needed to give everyone a chance to digest our adventure, and us time to recover. So, that's done then.


We're both behind at work, but we're trying to keep with it. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to get caught up.

So, for now, as I'm trying to be responsible and get everything done, I'll leave you with a picture of us from October 3o at our church's Fall Fest. I know, I know. It's a month late. And four weeks is HUGE in the life of a baby. But still, I think it turned out okay.





Cheers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vacation Finale

I marveled to Eli that I must live such a charmed life because I'm resilient and can find the humor and ridiculous irony in situations. I tried to laugh throughout this experience.

So, here it is, in the biggest nutshell you've ever seen, our awesome vacation (with prologue):

Last fall I was hired to work for the NWP on its E-team for part of the year. The initial commitment is three years, with the perks being a summer job that I can work whenever my schedule permits so long as I put in the requisite hours per week, and a free trip to the Annual Meeting each November where I could attend any of the sessions, but was required to be present for a day-long meeting on the Saturday of the conference. No prob. I immediately started making plans for this year's meeting, which was going to be in Orlando, at Disney World. We were going to leave Elsie with the grandparents and go, just the two of us. And then a month later, we realized that it was going to have to be three of us, not including Elsie. And being a breastfeeding mama, there wasn't really another easy alternative, so Eli would be with 2.0 (as we then referred to O-man) while I went to my sessions. Eli would be the babysitter.

Fast forward eleven months, and it's time to leave for Orlando. I had been very organized and put in my request for professional development leave back in August, and had a couple of weeks ago gotten a sub for the three days I was going to be out. In a twist of nicety-turned-terrible, I ended up letting the math teacher on my team have my sub, who is a retired middle school math teacher, since we would be out simultaneously, and I tried to find another sub. I found a sub for Wednesday and Thursday, but how was I supposed to know that every teacher was going to be out on that Friday?? I left school on Tuesday knowing that I would need a sub for Friday, and that I would be spending part of my time away to find one. I pretty much tried to avoid thinking about it. [I spent part of Wednesday and Thursday calling up random people from the sub list, to no avail. Once I finally found someone, I called to let the school know, and they said, "Oh, we just got an e-mail from central office saying he can't ever sub for us again." Great. I ended up not finding a sub and my team had to split my classes on Friday.]

I took Elsie to the doctor for her 18-months appointment in the a.m. so that I could legitimately use a sick day for travel, and my MIL came and got her to take her back to Mobile for the week. I packed and got things ready at home. Eli came home from work and changed the oil on the car, and then told me that we needed new tires, we needed them now, and we wouldn't be able to make the trip to Orlando without them. My plans of leaving by lunch time were thwarted, but not to worry. We had other errands to run while waiting on the tires. At the appointed "we'll be finished in about an hour" time, I dropped Eli back off at the tire place and headed home to wait for him to come get O and me. And then Eli called. The car was not ready. It would not be ready for another 45 minutes to an hour. Ugh.

Needless to say, I could have saved myself a sick day. We rolled out of town after four o'clock. And we drove into the darkness. Oscar actually did a pretty good job in the car. At one point I did have to climb into the backseat to sit with him to calm him down, but for the most part, he was a good sport (at least that's the way I'm remembering it now--it's much easier this way). In an effort to avoid paying any tolls on the Florida Turnpike, we took a bunch of state and county roads to get into Orlando. At one point, we pulled over to consult the atlas.

We pulled back onto the road, and something happened. I couldn't figure out what it was at first, but then Eli said it. The high beam headlights had turned on all by themselves. Yeah, that was it. However, strangely, they would not turn off. We turned the car off, the headlights off, and put the parking brake on--a sure recipe to be sitting in the dark--yet the high beams stayed on. Having no solution to this problem, we forged on. As we drove on in to The Happiest Place on Earth, we were sure that we would be pulled over for a DUI, driving at two in the morning with our high beams on. I started counting how many people flashed their headlights at us.

Once we got into the Disney Vortex, it became painfully clear that I did not actually have directions to the hotel, as I thought I did. So we drove around for a while, finally stopping to ask for directions. We found the resort, checked in at the hotel, and were unloading the car when Eli popped the hood to inspect the headlights--and they caught fire. Of course, he tells me this nonchalantly, saying something like, "Well, I hope the whole car doesn't explode." I looked at him for a second, and then quickly retrieved Oscar from the backseat just in case.

Our hotel room was okay, nothing fancy (although, I guess if I hadn't lived in Texas for so many years, the Southwest/Incan motif might have been special). We set up the Pack N Play, looked at some of the check-in literature, and then crashed. The next morning I got up early to find out where I was supposed to be. I left Eli and Oscar in the hotel room, out to look for free Internet in the business center or something, since it was $10/day in the room. Turns out the business center was ~$7 for TEN MINUTES!! I told the lady a sob story about our travels into town and how I didn't know where I was supposed to be, so she let me pull up my e-mail and get my itinerary. Turns out all of my meetings were in the other hotel that the NWP/NCTE booked for this conference. Stink.

I went to my morning session and then we went to eat lunch at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Downtown Disney. <--Highly Recommended. Eli and Oscar stayed at the hotel for the afternoon session, and when I came back we made a grocery store run to go get bread and peanut butter and jelly for the rest of our trip. We ate our sandwiches and then went for a walk around the resort lake. It was nice. And Oscar actually didn't mind being in the stroller.

The next day, Friday, was a lazy day. We set out right before lunch to go to Sea World since Eli got free military personnel tickets. It was fun watching the shows. I'm still very much in awe of those animals. Amazing. I would go back and do some of the behind the scenes stuff if I could. But, the day was a little tainted by Eli not feeling well. He started the day complaining of a headache. As we strolled around the park, he would stop at intervals to work through a pain in his neck. He would stop suddenly, incline his neck, close his eyes, and breathe. It reminded me vaguely of when I was having contractions with Oscar. It was weird. His pain was ever increasing, so I knew it was time to leave the park. Plus, I really wanted to get back in time to go to the NCTE Expo (read: free books!). At one point, I had asked him about how sick he was feeling, "Sick enough to end up in the emergency room?" His response, "I hope not."

As we got back in the car, Eli put on a fleece jacket. I mentally noted that it was 80 degrees outside. When we got back, Eli told me that he would be okay after he slept, so Oscar and I went to the Expo, where he was a hit with the ladies and scored me some free stuff, just on the cuteness factor alone. :) I also had an aha! moment while walking around, as the word meningitis came to mind. I sure hoped not. When we came back to the room, Eli was piled under all the covers and not looking well. I used an ear thermometer that I just happened to toss in with all of Oscar's stuff, and his temp was 102. We started making phone calls, trying to reach anyone we knew with medical expertise. I wanted to run his symptoms by a medical professional to see if this was something that would warrant a trip to the ER. The first person to call us back was my FIL, a nurse. His advice was basically, "Get thee to an emergency room." He dropped the M word that I had been thinking. I called the consierge to get directions and we were on our way.

On the way over, we talked about what this might mean. Eli said something funny to me (sorry I can't remember what), and my response was "Thanks for that." And then to get back at him, I joked about the long giant needle they would use if they had to do a spinal tap. "Thanks for that," Eli ribbed. Since I had Oscar with me, I didn't want to go into the hospital with Eli, so we sat out in the car until we got an update. They had him back in an observation room, and were going to do a lumbar puncture. At this point, I decided that I did not want to wait in the car, so we went into the spacious waiting room, where there was a kid's area. I watched the entirety of the Hannah Montana movie on the Disney Channel while Oscar slept. No word from Eli. It was getting late. And I was very tired. So I bundled Oscar up and we went and sat in the passenger side of the car and slept, awaiting news.

At one point, I went to go ask questions of the nurse, and they directed me to the business desk, where I paid my emergency copay while I was there. That was when I knew that Eli had meningitis. Why? Because the copay was equal to the "extra" amount of money we had this month that Eli told me just to leave in my account until all the bills were paid before using it to pay down debt. This was where we were supposed to be.

I don't know how long I was there before Eli called to tell me that it was indeed meningitis and that they were admitting him to the hospital. I went in and talked with the doctor about what this meant for us and our vacation. "He's not very good with needles," she says. (At some point in the evening they put the spinal tap kit in the room with Eli and left it there for him to look at for about two hours, building up his anxiety, before they actually used it, so that by the time they did the tap, he pretty much had an anxiety attack.) She told me they would have to keep him for at least 48 hours until they got their cultures back.

With nothing more for us to do, O and I went back to the hotel and slept.

At some point in the evening, I realized that I was going to have to miss my Saturday meeting, the whole reason we even made this stupid trip to Orlando anyway. I looked in my phone, and sure enough, I had saved the phone number of my group leader back when he called me in June, so I called MR (who, mind you, I had never met) and apprised him of my situation. He told me that I shouldn't worry about the meeting and that I should just take care of my family, that he would inform everyone what was going on. I insisted on coming at least for breakfast in the morning to put faces with these names that I had been seeing for the better part of a year. MR called me again on Saturday morning and wanted to know what kind of help I needed. I told him that ideally, I needed someone to watch Oscar while I was getting everything together to check out of the hotel by 11 (since we originally were going to leave on Saturday after my meeting, we had to be out). He told me that his wife could probably help me.

I made it to my meeting, had breakfast, met everyone and told them the same story I'm telling now, and then Mrs. MR came back to the hotel with me to watch O while I packed and loaded up the car. She was a blessing, a true angel. I would have managed, but it was so much easier to have another set of hands. People who think the kindness of strangers is a thing of the past are so terribly pessimistic! We made it out of the hotel, went to visit Eli at the hospital--he was still in the ER until they got him a room and the nurse held Oscar while Eli and I conversed--and then I took O to the airport to pick up my mom. Another godsend. We found a hotel to hole up in and then waited, making trips back and forth to the hospital to check on Eli, who was bored and tired, and headache-y.

During all this, I realized that we would be missing the long-awaited Thanksgiving lunch at church, and that I would not be making it back to school on Monday, at least, and maybe Tuesday. What a mess. I don't have any sick days, so the days I was taking off were unpaid days. I thought over the sequence of events that brought us here. I only haphazardly brought the thermometer and had it in the hotel room with me. We left the ibuprofen at home. Had we had it, Eli would have taken one and gone back to bed, and who knows what would have happened?

To make this long story longer, Mom flew back to TX on Monday p.m. About two hours later, Eli was discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of viral meningitis. I brought him back to the hotel room where he slept hard. We got up bright and squirrely to drive home. And on the way Oscar started running a fever. He was very hot to the touch. I didn't know what to do, given all we had gone through with Eli.

We got into the town of Moultrie, GA, and I tried to go to an Urgent Care place, but since he was so young, they would not see him and directed us to the ER at Colquitt Regional Medical Center. They ran Oscar through the rigamarole, and several hours later told us that yes, he has a virus, and that it didn't take a doctor to tell us that he got it from Eli. And that there was no telling what this virus would do, and no indication as to why it had decided to attack Eli's brain. So, we were sent on our way with the most expensive dose of Tylenol ever, an infant-come-pin cushion, but at least with a peace of mind. The ride home took forever, with O screaming every hour or so, and we had to stop frequently. But last night, at 8-ish, we got home. Fourteen hours. (Orlando is 7.5 hours from here on a good day.)

Then today, we drove to Mobile to retrieve Elsie and to spend Thanksgiving with the entire Beaver clan tomorrow--the first time this many Beavers have been together since Eli's grandmother died some fifteen (?) years ago. I'm here. Ready for bed. And ready to NEVER go back to Florida. "Florida hates us," Eli said. [And remember, we've been trying to laugh at all of this when we can...there was a lot of funny in the midst of the stress.]

And somehow in all of this, my watch now beeps at the top of the hour. I have no idea why it started doing that and I have no idea how to stop it. So, every hour is yet another reminder of the vacation that was not meant to be. Awesome.

Cheers.

(And if you made it to the end, bless you!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In this episode, The Vacation from..

a Place Hotter than Orlando in November!

Let me just start by saying that the journey to and the stay in the Magic Kingdom has been a disaster for the Beavers. But, it has been a disaster that we are taking in stride.

I would love to entertain you with tales of possessed high-beam headlights and consequent fires under the hood, but perhaps I will save that for a later date. Instead I will tell you this:

Eli is currently in the hospital in Orlando being treated for meningitis. And that's that. I don't really know much more. Since I have O with me, I haven't been able to go visit Eli, just talk on the phone. Now my mom is here from TX (bless her!), and I will be able to go to the hospital tonight and leave O with her.

Please just say some prayers as they try to figure out whether this is the viral or bacterial form of the disease. Bacterial = bad. Viral = not as bad, but still bad.

And now that I've failed at NaBloPoMo because of Walt's OUTRAGEOUS Wi-Fi access prices, I will give out updates in due course, whenever that may be.

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

18 months doctor's visit

A quick update before our day's adventures really get under way:

I took Goldilocks to the pediatrician today for her 18-month check-up. Just so I have them in one place until I get around to updating her baby book:

Weight: 23 lbs. 11 oz.
Height: 31.25 inches (Umm..She shrank a quarter inch since the last time? Something's amiss...)
Head Circumference: 20 in

Across the board, she's in about the 50th percentile.

She got 2 shots at 18 months. We were two days early to get her Hep A shot, so we'll wait until she's 2. For the most part she did well. She did not hold her breath and try to pass out as she did two months ago. She, did, however, not like getting shots. The nurse was telling me that now when she's walking through Wal-Mart or the mall, random children will just burst out in tears when she's around. Haha. I told her Elsie probably would do that, too, if she saw her in public. What a job!

And her latest language update is that not only is she labeling objects with names, she's now giving them possessives of sorts. "Mama shoes" when she picks up my shoes, or "Ah-skuh socks" when she picks up Baby Bear's socks.

I am amazed!

Cheers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still so far behind...

Well, I did make the choice last night to go to bed early, and it was a great decision for my health and for my body. However, it was not the best decision for my sanity. I went to bed with full knowledge that I may not have clean clothes to wear to work, that Elsie might not have a matching pair of socks for morning, that I would have to wash dishes before going to work to make sure all my pump parts were clean, that I would have to wake up bright and squirrely and head to Kroger to pick up some produce to help me with my under-the-weather-ness and some canned goods for our canned good drive at school, that I STILL did not have lesson plans for the days I planned to be out.

Sigh. But it all gets done in the end, doesn't it?

So here I am, at 9 o'clock at night, sitting down to work on lesson plans for my absence from school, knowing full well that I will have to get up even earlier in the morning than I did today to go leave sub plans at work. Ugh. Why do I do this to myself?

I haven't packed the kids. I haven't packed me. I haven't packed Eli (or checked to see if he packed). I guess I'll have a 1/2 tomorrow to get that done.

Wish me sanity!

Cheers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Halfway there

It's raining. Still. I welcome the rain, but I already feel pretty under the weather, so all I want to do is curl up in my bedcovers and go to sleep. It's really tempting, but I have to go downstairs and put some stuff in the fridge.

I have other stuff to do to get ready to travel, but I think I need sleep more.

We're halfway through NaBloPoMo. The challenge come up this week and next.

I think I really am going to bed. No joke. Look at the time stamp and add ten minutes, and I will be asleep.

Cheers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Small Groups

Last year, our church started doing small groups in some form or fashion. Originally, the group was a fellowship/prayer group. We started out in the "young adult people" group, but then we ended up splitting into "young adult people" and "young adult people with screaming children." And though Elsie was still just a babe and did not run around screaming, it was bound to happen (and is now my reality), so we ended up with the latter group. It was nice getting together with other parents of small children and just being in fellowship with people in the same stage of life. Those were my friends, my compadres, my sanity-savers. We thoroughly looked forward to that group once a month.

This year, our small groups were reorganized. I suspect this was partially to accommodate the influx of new attendees, but also to narrow the focus of the group. Yes, we fellowship and pray, as before, but we also discuss a designated Bible passage and the sermon that went with it. Instead of monthly, now we meet weekly. Sign-up was not based on stage of life this time, but rather convenience of time and locale. We had to sign up for a group that met on a day when we weren't working with Kaplan/Sylvan, and met at a time that would still get Elsie to bed at a decent hour. It was a toss-up between two groups, who met at the same time on the same day but on opposite sides of town. We chose the group that was closest, e-mailed the groupe leader, and signed up for this group with no knowledge of who was in the group.

And then we got traded.

I'm pretty sure I still have the e-mail that asks if this is okay, and assuring us that the demographics of our new group are similar to the old group. Of course this was okay. We love our group leaders, and as I said before, we only arbitrarily chose a group based on perceived geographic distance. But you know what? The demographics are not the same. No. Where. Near. Had we stayed in our old group we would have been the second oldest there. Now we're the fourth oldest. And honestly, this is just....

AWESOME!

When we were first married and we lived in Waco, we started by attending UBC, which is the same church where the Dave Crowder Band leads Sunday morning worship every Sunday that they are not touring. I love David Crowder, don't get me wrong, but the church just didn't feel right to me. The age demographics were just too one-sided. It felt like 99.9% of the attendees were undergraduate students. The only children belonged to the pastor and his wife. The only mature adults were a handful of professors who attended. I was done with college. I desired a population more...heterogenous. I wanted to learn from my elders. This church had very few.

Fast forward 5-7 years. FPCO is very diverse, and has become more so since we first started attending in September (?) 2008. And I think our current small group is such a dynamic reflection of this diversity.

Here's the breakdown of the 17 people:
2 couples old enough to be our parents (not entirely sure about the Zs, but they're at least a decade older than us)
1 single adult female professional (at least a decade older than us)
2 couples with young children (that includes us)
2 younger couples with no children
1 single adult male professional our age, or close to it
1 single adult female graduate student
2 male college sophomores

I particularly like that the two college guys come to our group because there actually is a dedicated college small group and yet they choose to hang out with us old folks (haha). And our grad student is working on a degree in English, but sometimes I wonder why she's not pursuing theology--I am constantly just in awe of her knowledge/interest in the workings/history of the reformed tradition. As I said, we love our leaders and our site hosts. And it's nice to hear from the 5 older people (one a member since birth, two others members for 30+ years, and two others with an international foundation). It's been nice to get to know another young couple from our church (both grad students), and our friendly car guy. In this group, when we have discussions, I feel like I'm the weakest link. Soaking a lot in with not a lot to contribute. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm being challenged, and I'm definitely growing and stretching spiritually in a way that I have not grown or been stretched in a long, long time.

Had we stayed grouped as we were last year, we really would have missed out on this wonderful opportunity, meeting and fellowshipping with these wonderful people, and having honest conversations that cross generational gaps. The Lord is working, and He knows what He's doing.

I still miss my friends from last year's group. We are all busy with our families and our socializing has pretty much been limited to a brief hello as we pick our kids up from the nursery on Sunday mornings. I wish we still had a designated time to get together with our peer group for fellowship and church-building. And with all the new people at church in our same station of life, I feel like I'm missing out on making new friends.

I just miss them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Junk in the Trunk

I've always been jealous of people, who when they open their trunks, have NOTHING in them. I always think, "How is that possible??"

I'm a teacher, so I'm the WORST about keeping junk in the car. Before I left Chambers Co., I made the effort to get both cars cleaned and detailed so that they would be clean before Elsie came. This was just the interior of the car, not the trunk. I've gotten most everything out of the car to "clean" it since then, but there were some untouched frontiers.

A couple of weeks ago, I don't remember where Eli was but both kids were napping, I got out the vacuum cleaner and the trash bags and the Armor-All and cleaned the front seat of the Saturn (baby steps, baby steps). Well, this weekend's list of things to do included cleaning out the backseat of the car. So, while Oscar slept, Elsie and I dragged everything out of the backseat, except the carseat and base. We got out the vacuum cleaner and took care of crumbs, leaves, pebbles, etc. And when she became distracted by pushing the stroller around the garage with her baby doll in it (she went into the house to fetch the baby doll to put in the stroller), I decided to tackle the...gasp...trunk. Dirty. Little. Secret. I haven't cleaned out the trunk in...a long time. Let's just say that there were some pre-Chambers Co. things in there, posters and whatnot. Lots of whatnot. So, it all got sorted, trashed, brought in the house--and then vacuumed. And by this time Elsie was bored of the task and we were done. Oscar woke up and Elsie was hungry. The timing was perfect.

Among the treasures uncovered was a coupon for pizza...that expired in 2004. You think I'm kidding. I did end up leaving a few things in the trunk: a can of Fix-A-Flat, a first aid kit, jumper cables, the windshield shade, rope (in a draw-string Gap bag), sunscreen, trailer hitch and accessories, a roll of duct tape, and the umbrella stroller.







Not bad, right, for a car that's 11 years old and just turned over 192,000 miles?

Now, the challenge, with two kids, is to keep it clean. And traveling and keeping the car clean is also a challenge. So, wish me luck.

Cheers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

3 months of O

I bet you thought I forgot yesterday to post about O being 13 weeks. I didn't. I just stopped counting after 12, and have now moved on to months. Now time for some pictures of the kids from the last few weeks.

From a Halloween playdate:

Sleeping Baby Bear:



And adorable Baby Bear feet (again, this one's for the old ladies):



Baby Bear got hot (and a little cranky):



Goldilocks crawls like a puppy:



Goldilocks couldn't find a chair that was juuuust right. (Though later she found the hostess's Cinderella couch that is just like her Mickey couch, and that suited her just fine.)



And finally, we got a box of goodies from Texas. This was early the next morning when it was time to leave for work/sitters, and Elsie refused to leave the Grinch or the Wocket at home. (I tricked her, and we left them..haha).



Happy Friday!
Cheers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

On a quick side note, that post yesterday was my 400th post! So crazy!

Today is Veteran's Day. I'm posting early so that I'm not distracted during my productivity today. Eli is headed to B'ham with his Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit to march in a Veteran's Day parade. It's evidently a big deal. I would have taken the kids and gone with him had I been caught up, but, alas, I am not.

Before I go, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all my friends and family members that have served in the Armed Forces. I couldn't do what I do if you didn't do what you do/did. A particular thanks goes to my dad, a 20-year veteran of the AF, and to my mom who served right along with him (but on the homefront, in the domestic campaign).

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Floor Time

I'm working on some assignments for the online classes I'm taking right now, and I put Oscar on the floor next to me. He's about to go to sleep.

But, I've been thinking. How much time does he get to be unswaddled on a hard surface? Around the house, if we put him on the floor, Elsie is sure to come over and body slam him, or trip and fall on him, or do something else that Oscar construes as traumatic. So he doesn't get much floor time here--in fact, I think this is the first I've put him on the floor for any length of time.

The rest of the time he is on a flat surface is when he's supposed to be asleep, so we swaddle him so that he doesn't startle himself (or us) awake. For the last hour or so he's been kicking his legs and flailing his arms, fussing occasionally, but mainly just being content. It's been nice.

And I just finished my assignment for my Using Google Documents in the Classroom course. Early to bed! Wahoo! I don't have school tomorrow, but I'm treating it like a regular day, taking the kids to their respective places and heading up to the school to get things done, get caught up. We'll see how much I get done.

Cheers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

18 months (and 2 days)

Sunday was when Elsie turned 18 months. No, I didn't forget. Okay. I remembered on Sunday, but forgot when it came time to blog. And then today someone asked me how old she was and I thought, "ACK! I forgot to blog about it!"

So, our little girls is 1.5 years old. Time sure does fly. We go to the doctor next week and I'll report on her stats then.

After school today, I went and picked up the kids and went to the first middle school basketball games of the year. I know. I'm crazy. Or brave. Or something. I of course imagined the worse case scenario before we went in (that is, having to leave with two screaming children, or trying to chase Elsie around while Oscar was inconsolable and needed to be held), but I went anyway. And, for the most part, all was well. Elsie was a little frustrated that I wouldn't let her out on the court to play with the ball. Oscar started screaming at the first horn, but the others he didn't notice--and thankfully he was content enough to stay in his carrier, wide awake, watching everything. I let Elsie climb in the stands a little bit and run across the end of the court during a time out, so she remained relatively happy. M brought her two boys and shared her pizza and popcorn with Elsie. We stayed to watch the pom dancers dance the halftime show at the girl's game (Elsie to dance right along with them...wish I had my camera with me then!) and then came home.

Now, it's only 7:30, but I feel like I need to go to bed...after I eat some Bluebell Pistachio Almond ice cream that my MIL conveniently left here. Mwahahahahaha!

Cheers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bewailing Babes

It has not been a good couple of days. I came home from Sylvan and both babies were screaming. Wailing. Poor Eli. Here's some other reasons why:

1. Mama can't breathe. Need. More. Albuterol.

2. Oscar can't sleep. Too. Much. Albuterol. (He woke up last night at 12, 2, 4, and 6 a.m.)

3. Elsie is congested and runny, miserable and moan-y.

4. Elsie woke up at 5:30 this morning, crying/moaning/wailing, and would not go back to sleep. Did I mention that I was awake at 12, 2, 4, and 6 a.m.?!? So much for adjusting to the time change. It's a conspiracy.

5. We're exhausted. And when we're tired, we snap at each other. I just want a vacation. (Oh, wait, aren't we going to Orlando in two weeks!! Woohoo! Now if I can just get caught up at work.)

6. I am extremely behind at work. I don't even know where to begin. What I really need is a day up at work with no kids of mine or other people's. (Hey, Thursday is Veteran's Day--no school! What a coincidence! I may just survive this yet!)

7. Oscar is not Elsie. That is, he is a little more temperamental and a little less consolable by others. He likes Mama, though, and sometimes it makes me feel guilty, some times it drives me crazy, and yes, sometimes I secretly like it. Not a secret anymore.

Don't look at these as complaints, please. Look at them as prayer needs!

On the bright side, the chemistry student from the other day was waiting to go into his ACT prep class when I left and I asked him how chemistry was going. His response was basically extremely enthusiastic. He was excited to tell me that he understood electron configurations so well that he actually found himself teaching it to the "A" student in the class. Haha. He told me I did a great job of explaining it. How's that for on the fly teaching?

And now that we have local television, I guess I could be watching Dancing with the Stars! (But there's dishes to do, a sink to shine, and papers to grade.) So, instead, I'm looking forward to Castle in an hour! Haven't seen it all season!

Cheers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Falling Back

I worried with the time change that the kids might not adjust. But, they slept until six this morning, which is almost like sleeping in, because it would have been 7 a.m. were it yesterday. We woke up and went downstairs and Oscar was in a great mood. Today was the first time that he giggled for me. It was so cute that I had to call and leave Eli a message with the giggles. And then I called Mom so she could hear. And in the background, as Elsie was eating breakfast, she was laughing at us laughing. So, there was a lot of laughing going on.

And you know how it goes, it quickly turned to crying, etc. And then Elsie went back to being her lethargic self (she's still not feeling well) and had a messy diaper. And just generally moaned all morning, constantly wanting to be held. Needless to say, we stayed (and will continue to stay) home.

Eli is at drill this weekend and had to wake up early this morning to take his physical fitness test. I was glad for him that the time change worked in his favor so that he could be even more rested for it. I haven't heard how he did.

I've been trying to get stuff done around the house, but it is more challenging when one of your usually-easy-going children is not so easy going. I'm afraid Eli's going to come home to a mess, and I was really hoping to surprise him by getting some stuff done and stuff put away. I'll just have to keep telling myself, "Baby steps, baby step, baby steps. One thing at a time, and the children are more important than the state of the house."

Cheers.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dark Ages

It's late and I've been on the run all day. No nap for mommy, but thankfully naps for both kiddos. Elsie isn't feeling well, running a temperature over 100, so we probably won't get to go to church tomorrow anyway. I'll try to get more done around the house.

But, this morning, since we have the local channels now, we were watching PBS, specifically Sesame Street, and it creeped me out. I'm still in the dark ages.

Follow this link to know what I'm talking about.

And good night. My eyelids are auto-closing.

Cheers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Locals

This is just a quick post-bedtime post about how we now FINALLY have access to local network channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, CW) and can therefore watch the game (Alabama vs. LSU) tomorrow. I can't believe how much I missed my network television. I could do without this cable television junk, really. I actually could do without television altogether, methinks, but there's someone else in my house who likes to watch sports.

On the bright side, since we lacked locals, I started watching HGTV. Okay, so maybe that's not a bright side. BUT, they do have 30-minutes programs so that I can watch them and fold clothes and simulteneously get good ideas for what to do with the house one day when we have money to spend. I like to watch Holmes on Homes, House Crashers, Yard Crashers, Bath Crashers, Color Splash: Miami (David Bromstad!), Property Virgins, Income Property, Designed to Sell, The Unsellables, Bang for Your Buck, and particularly House Hunters International. Oh, and there's a new show this season that I can't remember what it's called, but the people try to do their own renovation for cheaper than the pros guess it costs them, and they win the difference if they renovated for less. It's addicting, particularly since I'm a homeowner now. But it's also easy to turn it off since it's only 30 minutes at a sitting and there are frequent reruns.

Anyway, it's bedtime. It's drill weekend and MIL is here to see the grand kiddos while I get some stuff done around the house. We are taking some time out to go tailgate tomorrow, though. That should be a lot of fun. :)

Cheers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

12 Weeks of O

I just can't believe it. It felt like it would never get here. Oscar is 12 weeks old. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark I have been waiting for. Oscar is now old enough to go to the nursery at church! FINALLY!!!! Let's just say that not having Oscar stay with me during church will relieve A LOT of Sunday stress for me and enable me to start attending Sunday school again. And I'll probably, hopefully, enjoy going to church instead of dreading it. And maybe, just maybe, I can look at the last three months as a small sacrifice instead of a grand martyrdom. We'll see. Ironically, I've been anticipating this week, but I'm not even sure if we will be at church since it's Eli's drill weekend. C'est la vie.

Elsie is definitely going to be a good big sister. The other day she was holding a baby wipe up to Oscar's nose and making nose blowing sounds for him. And when I turned around a while later, she was holding a stacking cup up to his mouth and then taking it away and saying a refreshing "aaaaah" for him. It was too cute. And she tries to give him hugs and kisses, which sometimes represent sumo wrestling moves, but it's the thought that counts, right? I'm sure he'll appreciate it later, though now it just terrifies him. :)

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Orbitals

I was at Sylvan tonight and the director was on the phone with a parent, and she said, could you do high school chemistry, and I told her that yes, I could probably do it if I had a book, but that it has been 16 years since I've actually used the stuff. The parent was desperate for help and was willing to chance it. So, I'm thinking that someday soon this child will be sitting at my table.

Nope. He came the next hour. (!) I was emotionally unprepared for that. Haha.

It was the strangest sensation, looking over his notes. I have mentioned it before, but it was very much the "I-used-to-be-smart-WHAT-THE-HECK-HAPPENED?" feeling. The material was familiar, tugging on cobwebs in my brain; I knew there was information that was key, but I just couldn't come up with it. For the first 15 minutes he sat and watched me fumble through his textbook trying to get my bearings. I'm pretty sure I was talking to myself. And he just sat there, because he honestly had no idea. He couldn't even really tell you what the model of an atom looked like, so we started there.

And then, I figured out that key piece of information (the atomic number is also the number of electrons) and WHAM! It all made sense again. I took cues from his messy textbooks, highlighted text, and makeshift flashcards that he was a visual learner, so I made it visual. And after 16 years of sitting in my brain unused, I got to exercise my knowledge of how to notate electron configurations. Glory BE!!

And it was incredible to see that light in his brain not just turn on, but GLARE back at me as he made those connections and FINALLY something about high school chemistry made a little bit of sense, even if he wasn't entirely sure how it applied to a greater context.

I was very glad that the outcome was good because I was almost starting to panic that his mother was paying for this emergency tutoring service and that I was wasting their money. Now I'm just thinking that Sylvan needs to pay me more (hint, hint). Haha.

I also want to mention that this brought me back to how I worked my tail off in high school chemistry back in the day. I had a TERRIBLE teacher who was more preoccupied with being pregnant and having cankles (I remember once she stood up in front of the class and said, "Please don't look at my feet." Of course, the first thing the 30 of us did was look at her extremely bloated/swollen feet. I don't think we would have even noticed if she hadn't said anything.) than teaching chemistry. And I had a different teacher than my other friends (except one) and their teacher was so easy. Life just wasn't fair back then. But Lauri and I kicked some chemistry butt and made As in our class. The only two As. Rock on. I'm still very proud of that achievement.

And I'm feelin' good tonight.

Cheers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voted

I exercised my right to vote today.

Since we officially moved in June, I was voting at a new location. It was a much larger polling place than our old Frank Brown Recreation Center locale. On the bright side, when I walked in, there was a really long line in front of me...for whatever names included last names that begin with P (I saw some church family members there, that's how I knew), but the A-B line was nonexistent, so I waltzed up, they checked my name, the old man made a lame "Leave it to Beaver" joke, they handed me my ballot, and I went and sat down and connected some arrows. Not all of them, mind you. Just some of them.

Do you know anything about the Alabama constitution? No? Well, my education about it started in my Texas State and Local Government class that I had to have as a part of my teaching certificate in Texas. Yes, I learned about Alabama's constitution in Texas. Why, you ask? Well, because Texas has a really old, really messed up state constitution. However, when they start feeling bad about having the second most horrendously organized constitution (and the second most amendments of all 50 states), they look to the fat kid in class to make them feel better. And when I say fat, I mean FAT. To put this in perspective, the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787 and has 27 amendments (approx. 0.12 amendments per year). The Texas constitution has been in effect since 1876 and has 467 amendments (approx. 3.5 amendments per year since its inception). The Alabama constitution has been around since 1901 and has 827 amendments (to date, making that approx. 7.5 amendments per year). Gee whiz! And you want to get all factoid on me? Here's the dish from Wikipedia:

At 357,157 words, the document is 12 times longer than the average state constitution, 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution, and is the longest still-operative constitution anywhere in the world. (The English translation of the Constitution of India, the longest national constitution, is about 117,369 words long, a third of the length.)

Anyway, Alabama's law puts amendments up for approval that affect a specific county and the entire state gets to vote on the law. So, for instance (and this is a totally made up example), if Jefferson County wanted to raise property taxes, it would go to the whole state to vote on. Why should I care what is happening up in Jefferson County, and who am I to make that decision for them? I think it's stupid, and Alabama desperately needs constitutional reform. And that is partly why I only completed some arrows on my ballot.

Another reason I don't complete the arrow is if the person is running unchallenged. One vote wins it, and I just don't care that much. But, I was surprised to see Eli's former boss on the ballot--unchallenged, to boot--and contrary to my usual practice, I completed that arrow.

My last thought for today is something I have never thought about before: County Coroner is an elected position. Weird. (This year's candidate was running unchallenged. I'm not really that surprised....)

Cheers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teeth, Tangles, and Tangents

It's November and Elsie has two more teeth coming in! It's a good thing, too, because I would have hated for last week's diarrhea, diaper rash, and general malaise to go to waste! Haha. She has two more bottom teeth that broke through sometime recently--the two to either side of her bottom center teeth. So, she now has six on top and four on bottom. Ten! Ha. Ha. Ha. (Think of Sesame Street's Count and go back and read that again.)

Also, I must tell you that the bottle of detangling spray that I purchased while singing and dancing in "How to Succeed in Business" when I had to tease my hair into a rat's nest has come to be of great value in our household. No matter what we do, Elsie ends up with a wad of nasty matted hair on the back of her head where it rests against the carseat and where she sleeps on it. Sometimes I even find food tangled up in there (what?). Well, yanking on that mess does nothing but cause screaming, so we don't yank. And brushing it with a hairbrush only makes it worse, not better! So, we spray. And comb with successive combs, from a wide-tooth comb, smaller and smaller, to a man's pocket comb. And, like it says on the bottle, there is no more screaming. Success. And thank you, Theatre Tuscaloosa, for bringing the original impetus for this apple-scented miracle spray!

And on a side note, I'm a little OCD. I kid, I kid. But perhaps I don't? Now that I've spent time in my yard getting down and dirty with my weeds, I notice the same weeds all over Opelika and I just want to yank them out! I did the same thing with straightening merchandise at other stores when I worked at Books-A-Million. And while you may not follow my train of thought, I started this paragraph to tell you that my sink is still shining. I let it go one day and felt...sad and unfulfilled. So, last night, I stayed up until almost 11 getting it shined again. Another fabulous thing that has happened as a result of the clean sink is that the front seat of my car remains clean, too! I realize that the effort required to bring my trash and belongings inside with me is pretty much nil. I just need to do it. So, for the last two weeks or more, I have been keeping the front seat of the Saturn clean, too! (I vacuumed and Armor-alled it one day while the kids were asleep and I haven't gone back! It's nice!) Now for the backseat...

So, how's that for my first NaBloPoMo post? Sweet. Now to come up with 29 more.

Cheers!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaBloPoMo -- Take 3

Wow! Another year has come and gone already, and it's that time again! NaBloPoMo! Or, for you newbies, National Blog Posting Month!



The challenge is to post to your blog once a day for the entire month of November--and it is challenging. November is a busy month for me EVERY YEAR, so finding the time/internet access to update the blog has proven tricky, but I've been successful two years in a row. We'll see how we do this year.

Tomorrow, it begins...

Cheers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

11 Weeks of O...Juuust right.

This is that last week that Oscar isn't allowed in the nursery. I am so VERY ready to let the nursery workers dote on him while I go to Sunday school and church. For. Real.

Last night, Oscar went to bed around the same time as Elsie stopped screaming (7:30?) and didn't wake up until 5 a.m. It really is becoming the norm these days. (I'll update in the morning if I'm wrong..haha.) I am soooo blessed to have good sleepers. I don't think I could do everything I do (work, work, housework) if my sleep were of poor quality. Thank you Elsie, thank you Oscar, thank you God (who has blessed me with these two bundles!). Oh, and thank you Eli for ignoring the excessive snoozing, accompanied by the most annoying alarm clock, in the mornings.

So, tonight was Auburn downtown trick-or-treating. We went with our neighbors and walked around. The kids are too young for candy, but it was fun to see all the costumes, particularly the babies. Have I become a baby person?? Don't think so. But, but, but. Nah.

Aunt A (who we love and adore) sent O the cutest costume, so we built our family theme around his costume. So, here we are:



Did you guess it? Yep. We went trick-or-treating as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I know. We're so clever, I just can't stand it.

Goldilocks:



And Baby Bear:



And Goldilocks and her favorite Tiger (and favorite neighbor):



We stayed out for about an hour, but ended up having to come home as Elsie had a meltdown in downtown. It was the hour of delirium (what we lovingly call the hour before bedtime) so we knew we were pushing our luck. Glad to have had the opportunity to spend time with our neighbors.

Finally, two shots of Goldi as herself. Okay, so she's actually impersonating Jack Horner, except with raspberries:



And the final one is from tonight right before I came in here to update the blog. Elsie has learned how to use zippers, and let's just say I'm glad this wasn't a leisure suit, and I'm glad she doesn't have a hairy chest. :)



Cheers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Habits and a Kitchen Sink

Well, after the meals stopped coming after O's birth, we started back on our E-mealz plan, but we weren't 100% consistent with it, as some weeks we were too exhausted to make a trip to Wal-Mart. Here are some things I have learned in the last couple of weeks:

1. If we don't go shopping together, it probably won't get made. One, because I am not going shopping with the two kids by myself--takes too long, and there's no room in the cart. Two, if there are substitutions or omissions, I want to know about them otherwise I'm looking through the pantry trying to find something that just doesn't exist in my house. Which leads to lesson #2:

2. If we don't have all the ingredients on hand, then it probably won't get made or WILL get made and will taste weird because I do not have any time to run BACK to the grocery store to run in to get ONE item while toting two kiddos. Just not gonna' do it. So it pays to really pay attention to the shopping list (particularly the "staples") and not leave anything off. (This week we couldn't find lemon juice at Wal-Mart. Weird, I know. So, I really hope that that particular ingredient is not a necessity, but it probably is...)

3. You cannot substitute anything else if the recipe calls for "chili sauce." Though I'd never heard of it before, I'm assured that it is irreplaceable in recipes.

4. Corn starch is not that same as flour or corn meal. And even if the Internet site that Google brought up when you search for "corn starch substitutes" says that they make good subs, they do not.

5. Bisquick is also considered "All Purpose Baking Mix." Who knew?

6. We ate out more if we didn't make dinner and that led to purchasing school lunches because I didn't have leftovers to take. And I know this is totally stupid coming from an adult, but I HATE making sandwiches. And if I don't automatically put leftovers in disposable-if-you-leave-them-in-the-car-to-become-moldy-but-reusable-if-you-don't lunch containers, then leftovers will go to waste.

7. Eli hates doing dishes. (Seven years of marriage and I never really suspected. And no, I'm not being facetious.)

Which leads to my next update:

Back at the end of the summer, I bragged about cleaning up my kitchen and living room every night before bed, focusing on maintaining. After Oscar was born, it was much harder to do and many nights over the last eight weeks or so I would go to bed knowing I would wake up to a mess. Then Eli found out that his military law school dates that would take him away from us for 13.5 consecutive weeks have been set for spring (he leaves early February and will be back just before Elsie turns two). This lit the fire under me to start thinking about survival in those months. I started asking people about routines that I could have in place by then to manage the house, the kids, the yard, the work, the stress, the chaos--the LAUNDRY!! And am I surprised that I didn't find a lot of help out there? Not really. I think we all secretly live in chaos and without routines. We just put on a good show and get by as best we can until the machine breaks down completely.

I had heard about the Motivated Moms planner, and actually ordered one a few years ago that didn't get used (oops) and I considered it again. It is a fabulous idea and would work much better for me if I were either a SAHM or already had my butt in gear, but honestly, I'm just not there yet. So, I looked a little more, and I came across FlyLady.net. Totally hoky. Totally cheesy. Totally what I need. Baby steps (just like Dave!) and encouragement to develop habits and routines. Because guess what? Epiphany? I won't just magically turn into Super Mom once Eli leaves! If I try to do everything at once, I will definitely have a melt-down. I have to actually learn and use these new routines before then. So, Baby Step 1: Shine your sink. And that's where I am folks. As I'm trying to get everything done that needs to be done on a daily basis, I'm starting with a shiny sink. Every night before I go to bed so it greets me in the morning. And from there I'll add some more, little by little. But this is actually pretty challenging in and of itself. So, as a final thought, I give you...







my sink.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Today we took the kids and went to a local pumpkin patch. Why? Well, I hear it's what you do when you have kids and it's this time of year. Oh, and it's a great excuse to get out of the house. :) My full album is on facebook, but here are a few of my favorites from today.












And of course, for your O fix:






(This was taken today, before the pumpkin patch. Didn't I tell you about his smile?)

Cheers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missed It (10 weeks...I think?)

I'm not sure exactly what to say today since we went to the doctor on Tuesday. So, how about this:

Both kids are consistently going to bed at 7 o'clock. Yes, I said both of them. Oscar goes down for his long sleep and will sleep for an 8 hour stretch. Yes, that means he wakes up and needs to be fed and changed at 3 in the morning...but EIGHT HOURS! It blows my mind. I love that little boy.

Also, in the last week or so, he has spent more time awake and happy, or at least quiet. He still has his fussy times, but previously most of his awake time was spent fussing.

Elsie, on the other hand has done the other thing. My sweet, sweet girl is spending more and more time being cranky. She's teething again. And this time for real. More dirty diapers today that she's had in one day any time since she was little. Terrible diaper rash for the first time in her LIFE. In my mind it's adding up to more teeth. But I'm not sure.

So glad it's the weekend. I'm hoping to clean my house up (and get some help doing it) this weekend. We'll see what my energy is like tomorrow.

Cheers.

**I'm coming back on Saturday morning to update this to say that Oscar does not sleep eight hours at a time *every* night, but I would say it happens about 70% of the time (though last night was not one of them...sigh). And it's almost 8 a.m. and Elsie is still asleep (there's a first time for everything!). I think she's trying to make up for Oscar.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2 month visit, belly buttons and kisses

This morning I took Oscar to the doctor. We went to a new pediatrician today, one that Oscar had seen in the hospital. Our primary pediatrician is a part-time physician and full-time mother, and as our visits to the doctor become more and more infrequent and coincide with my days off of school, it's harder to see her, because she's home with her kids when I'm off work. Anyway, Dr. Taylor has agreed to be our secondary pediatrician. I like her a lot, too. She's not SST, but she's great.

Stats for Oscar at 2 months (9.5 weeks, actually)
Weight: 12 lbs, 15 oz. (almost 13 pounds!!)
Head: 16 inches
And I blanked out on his height, but he's growing and he's in the 75th percentile all the way across. "Equally proportioned" she called him.

One incredible blessing for today is that as I was leaving for the doctor today, I said to myself, "I don't have the $30 to pay the copay for this visit." But as parents, we do what we need to do for our kids, and I was ready to put it on a credit card. As I checked out, the girl didn't ask me for my copay, so I double checked with her. This couldn't be correct, could it? She told me she just goes by what's on the paper and the paper said no money owed. In a small stroke of divine intervention, when my copay on my teacher insurance went up on October 1, the whole plan changed so that well-visits and immunization visits for children are covered with NO COPAY! Wow! They both had appointments on Sept. 13 and I paid two copays that day. Oh, if I had only known... And all maternity care is paid for--no copays! (Not that I'm going to take advantage of that again anytime soon--God willing.) So, if Oscar has just waited six more weeks (ha!) he would have been completely free!

To change the subject, earlier today, I had my camera out and was playing with the different modes. This video does not have sound. My little Nikon doesn't capture sound. But I only asked once, "Elsie, where's your belly button?"




Where's your belly button?
Originally uploaded by Beaver Family



And in this one, you can see Elsie trying to share her shirt with the cat, and then Oscar. At some point I told her to give Oscar a kiss, and she did. And then she blew me a kiss. :)


Kisses for Oscar, Kisses for You
Originally uploaded by Beaver Family



Also, check out these baby blues. My babies.





Cheers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Progress

This update is about all kinds of progress, so let's start with Miss Elsie.

Elsie has cut two more teeth. I think they are molars, but I don't know anything about baby mouths. Visualize this: she already had her four top front teeth, and now, if you skip a space to either side, it's the NEXT tooth on both sides that cut through this past week. And that brings her teeth total to...(drum roll)...eight! She is a little off balance, though, because now she has six on the top and only two on the bottom. Probably the only time in her life she'll be top heavy. Haha. (Little inside family joke...right sisters?) Progress.

And she's firmly associating "mama" and "daddy" with us. The other morning it was still too early to get up, but Elsie was awake (of course), so Eli went and got her and put her on our bed, in between the two of us. She looked at me and said "Mama." I said, "Good morning," or something like that. She said "Mama" again. And then she turned to Eli and said, "Daddy." It was sooo cute. She also will repeat "Elsie" but it sounds like "Eh-see" and Oscar sounds like "Uh-guh" (not to be confused with Uga, the UGA mascot). Progress.

On a family front, the month of October has been busy indeed. The first weekend of October, right after Eli's surgery, he had drill. In March we had purchased tickets to see Dave Ramsey LIVE in Atlanta for the same weekend, so I found someone else to go with me--JMS. My FAB-U-LOUS friend JT offered to watch Elsie while we took Oscar. I don't think she knew what she was getting into, but I was/am so thankful for her willingness!

The DRL session really reignited my desire to get out of debt and stop spending money on stupid stuff. Basically, it was FPU in a nutshell: a good refresher for alums and a good preview for newbies. I'm so glad we went!

Well, here's the good news: tonight, after Eli gets home from work and we post the payment together--MY STUDENT LOANS WILL BE PAID IN FULL!! WAHOOOOOO! This is really going to get the Debt Snowball a-rolling! The loans are from undergrad and graduate school that I consolidated in 2006 into a new, low-interest, 20-year loan. I just got paid for my summer job with NWP, and that lump sum will take care of the low, low balance--SIXTEEN YEARS EARLY! PROGRESS!!

In housing progress, Uncle R came from SC this weekend and installed built-in bookshelves in the sitting area of our bedroom. It was just a big empty wall, but after he was done with it, it looked like this:



And then, after we were done with it, it looked like this:


(You can click for a close-up if you really want to see what books we have.)

We desperately needed cabinets to store linens, so that's what's on the bottom. Plus the cabinets keept the bookshelves from being a stepladder for a toddler. As you can see, we have very little room to grow and keep our books on these shelves, so this weekend was a good exercise in thinning down our book collections. "Do I really need this?" and "Will I ever look at this again?" and "Did I even remember that I had this before just now?" were key questions. As a result we have three boxes of books to donate. Yep. Three. Progress.

[The original design allowed six shelves in each case, but our books are bigger, so we have only five shelves in each case--and four extra shelves sitting on the floor. We may have to commission Uncle R to build another bookcase for Elsie's room so that we can use those shelves and shelf pins.]

The introduction of bookshelves to our bedroom introduces, well, our bedroom floor to us! Tons of square footage no longer covered by piles of books. And we'll be able to move our entertainment center where it goes, and then get the TV off of the night stand and back next to the bed. Progress.

Finally, on a happy note, Friday night the new Auburn basketball arena was opened and we went to the pep-rally thing being held to celebrate. I know, I know. We're Alabama fans. But, we're also Globetrotter fans, and it just so happened that this famous basketball team was present to help celebrate. It was awesome. I wish my students could have been there to see it!

Okay, time to go continue making progress around the house (and go get groceries) since today is Fall Break for me, and the kids are at the sitter. Teehee. I'm getting things done around here (dishes, laundry, cleaning out the car) and it feels good. Progress.

Cheers!