Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is it wrong to be relieved that birthday week is over?

Phew! R's birthday week is over. He had a great time on his actual birthday, when he brought space cupcakes to school and we went out to dinner with friends, and at his friend party on Saturday. But I'm pooped. I was up until 2am on his birthday making those cupcakes because Cook's Illustrated failed me in the frosting department. (The recipe I had previously used very successfully said that I could use white chocolate chips instead of chocolate chips - WRONG.) So, A had to run out in the middle of the night and buy crappy, unhealthy frosting in a tub. But R loved the cupcakes, and that's the important thing.

R was so sweet about his presents. He was genuinely excited about all of them, even though we only got him a few fairly small things: a football, a baseball glove and ball, a puzzle, a book about Apollo 11, an add-on kit for his Hot Wheels trick track, and some (admittedly quite cool) Speed Racer/Johnny Lightning cars. R kept saying to us, "Thank you, Mommy and Daddy! I really appreciate this!" My sweetie pie.

For the friend party, I of course went overboard cleaning the house - even though the weather for Saturday was going to be nice, and people would only be entering our house to use the bathroom. But my house has never looked better! And, I again stupidly killed myself working on R's cake. I insisted on making it myself to save money, but I had another Cook's Illustrated frosting mishap. Different recipe, different disaster. Eventually, I got the buttercream frosting to work, but when I tried to dye it purple, I couldn't get it to go beyond pink. R liked it, though, so I went with it. None of the kids except R liked the cake, though. The parents loved it, but my friend said that the kids are so used to crappy, tasteless, overly sugared cakes and frosting from the grocery store that they can't appreciate the real thing. Eh well. It means more leftover cake for me!

Because it was a nice day (85+ degrees and sunny!), we pulled out our bouncy house, which was a huge hit with R and his friends. They also used our climbing structure/slide thingy, the sandbox (all five kids were in it at the same time, which was quite a feat!), and ran around playing tag in the yard. I hired a guy to come and do balloon animals, and the kids were fascinated. This guy makes some incredible balloons. And, because R only invited four friends to his party, each kiddo got to take home at least three balloons.

Here's one of the piles of balloons (we stored them in the house so they wouldn't pop from the hot sun):

And, R's Spider-man balloon:

While all this was going on, the moms and A and I sat on the patio with frosty beverages, munching veggie chips, veggies and dip, and fresh fruit. Sweet!

Eventually, the kids got too hot, so we headed inside for pizza and cake. (I'm SO glad I cleaned the house.) I discovered that five children can fit peacefully in our house without a problem. Well, except for the noise. Yikes!

When our guests headed home, R and A and I relaxed while R played with some of his new toys. Later, we set up our Slip-n-Slide to cool off. R said the water was way too cold, but he enjoyed running back and forth on it for a little while.

Later, my wonderful friend E came over to babysit R so A and I could go out for a bite to eat and to see our friends' bands play. It was a gorgeous night, and we had a good time.

Sunday was truly a day of rest. And, we all needed it!

Oh - on Friday, I got great news! R got into the after-school program we were hoping for - hooray! As I told A on Sunday, now I have nothing to worry about. The party is over, after-school is taken care of. Life is good. :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Five years ago today...

...my life changed forever. It became whole.

Happy Birthday to my sweet boy.

(Here are some pictures from R's first year. I'll post about his birthday fun later!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday tidbits

Hey, there! Just a few wee things I wanted to write down/share/etc.

  • A, R, and I are headed out to CA in May. I happened to see an article on Saturday morning about how all the airlines are cutting fares to the west coast, so we did a quick search and found round-trip tickets to LA for $179! Crazy! So, we grabbed 'em. We've been needing to get out there to visit A's family and this was just too good to pass up because it usually costs us twice that much. We're also planning to spend a couple of days in LA to see friends, which will be nice. (Four days is plenty of time with the in-laws. Especially since the last two times have driven me to the brink of a nervous breakdown.) I'm excited to show R the Pacific Ocean.

  • I bought a composter and a rain barrel this week! A and R put the composter together for me. I get all jumpy and silly happy with the thought of composting our food scraps and egg shells and coffee grounds and tea bags instead of throwing them in the trash. The soil in our yard is pretty crappy, so the compost will be a huge help. Hooray!

  • Yesterday, I sent off the registration/application for the after-school program we're hoping to get R into. I hear it's really hard to get in, so I'm praying and crossing fingers and toes and all that. If he doesn't get into this one, which is held at the school where he'll be going to kindergarten, it means we'll have to look at a program where he'll need to take a bus to get there. That just seems like a lot for him to handle all at once - transition to kindergarten 5 days a week (he only goes 3 days a week to pre-K), all new kids (none of the kids from his pre-K class are going to the same elementary school as him), plus taking a bus.

  • Now, I have to finish planning R's birthday party, which is a WEEK FROM SATURDAY. Ack! We're keeping it small this year, just 3-4 friends, and I hired a balloon animal twister dude to come for a little while, which will be great, especially if the weather is stinky and we have to be inside. If it's nice out, we'll be fine because we have our own bouncy house. Between the bouncy house and the balloon animals, time for pizza and cake and ice cream, that will occupy the kids for the whole time. But I still have to get all the paper goods, balloons for decorating, make a cake, etc. And, I'm making cupcakes for R to bring to school on his actual birthday next week. And, I have no idea what to get him for our present to him. We're doing the book swap thing again this year for his friend party (instead of presents, each child brings a wrapped book and takes one home at the end of the party). This worked out so great last year because everyone got a new book, and we didn't end up with a house full of toys we didn't need/want. Some of the other parents of R's friends have borrowed the idea, too. It's gotten to the point where we parents get annoyed if there *is* a party where presents are expected. Most of the parties in our "circle" now either have the book swap or ask people to make a donation to the birthday child's choice of charitable organization. I really like that, and the kids don't seem to even notice.

  • Please keep Wanda in your prayers today as she undergoes surgery for breast cancer. And, if breast cancer has affected you in some way, please consider supporting my friend Tyler, who is raising money to participate in the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk in Boston.

Boy, it feels like Friday. I wish it were! It's supposed to be 70 degrees here tomorrow. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to call in "sick" at work. If I didn't have a gazillion meetings, I might do the same. :-)

Here's a picture my friend took of A, R, and me a couple of months ago. Now you see why I don't have to worry about flabby arms.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Humble hero

Yesterday, I was working from home and A was at the office. In the late afternoon, I got an email from one of my co-workers saying something like, "Since A saved N, will he be immune from the next round of layoffs? ;-)" I had no idea what my co-worker was talking about. I figured A had helped our co-worker N with something big at work. But I was on my way out to pick up R at school, so I figured I'd just ask A about it when I picked him up later at the train station.

Well, it turns out that A literally saved N! I had to pry it out of A, but apparently our co-worker was choking on his lunch, another co-worker ran down the hall screaming, "Call 911!", and A ran over and did the Heimlich several times and got the food out. Then, everyone went back to work(!). A wasn't very forthcoming on the details, but I found out from others this morning that another person had tried to do the Heimlich unsuccessfully, other people ran upstairs to tell our CEO, several people tried to call 911 but got flustered and forgot you have to dial 8 to dial out on our phones, etc. - absolute chaos. (The stories make it sound like that recent episode of The Office where Dwight starts a fire.) But in the midst of all of that, A kept his cool and stepped in and saved the day. And, he was too humble to even bring it up with me! How much do I love this man?

As my dad will remember, this isn't the first time A has saved someone from choking. When A and I first started dating, we went to visit my dad and his girlfriend for dinner. I was chewing a piece of steak and it got stuck. Since I didn't want to cough the thing up in front of everyone, I left the room (big mistake). When I was in the other room and no one could see me, I realized that there was nothing I could do - couldn't breathe, cough, anything. But somehow my dad and A figured out that I needed help and rushed in. A took over, did the Heimlich on me a couple of times, and out popped the steak. I remember being so shaken up that A and I just held onto each other for a long time. And, I distinctly remember my dad saying, "Thank you for saving my daughter's life!"

I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband and for how God made him someone who is calm and collected during a crisis. But I think twice in one lifetime is enough times for a person to have to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Hopefully, A doesn't have to save any more lives anytime soon!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

R's school was closed today, and A had to film a video at work, so I got to stay home with R. Yay!

It finally feels like spring, and today was beautiful. After a leisurely breakfast, R and I packed some snacks and water in the backpack and drove to our local Audubon nature center. I swear there is nothing better for a four-year-old boy (well, at least my four-year-old boy) than going for a walk in the woods. There are giant sticks for poking things, rocks and old trees to climb, endless space in which to run, mud to stomp through, and you can shout without bothering anyone. Plus, we saw lots of turtles and two woodpeckers, and we heard frogs calling to each other. (We never could spot them.) I love doing this with R, and it makes me so happy that he enjoys it, too. We came home with a large stick (because it looked like a gun), a pocketful of teeny tiny pine cones, an eye dropper (used for getting samples of pond water), sneakers caked with mud, and - hopefully - no ticks.

When we got home again, I fixed lunch, and we ate out on the patio (first time this year!). We puttered around the house - playing trains, making a satellite out of egg cartons and plastic forks (R's idea), listening to a Magic Tree House book on CD - and in the yard - playing baseball, pulling out maple seedlings out of the lawn and garden. We had many sweet moments of snuggling, of R telling me how much he loves me and smiling at me with his squinchy grin, and laughter. At one point, R told me that he was glad that he was part of our family and that he was happy to be born. And, he asked me why I had him. I love being able to tell him how much he was wanted and loved before he was even a speck of cells. (Speaking of which, he has been really interested recently in human development after seeing an exhibit at the Museum of Science. He was absolutely fascinated by the fact that he was once the size of a lentil bean. And, by how I told him that when he was at that stage, I called him "Lenny.")

In the late afternoon, we picked up A at the train station, headed home for a quick snack, and then headed to the Boys & Girls Club for Family Swim time. We went to it last Friday for the first time and really enjoyed ourselves. R's swimming lessons there have really paid off, and he's quite comfortable swimming now. And, even though A and I were exhausted last week and tonight and not interested at all in going beforehand, it was great, and we're glad we went. We had fun together, plus a lot of R's friends from school and their families were there, too. And, we'll all sleep really well tonight.

So, to sum up - a really good day. (And, happy birthday to my friend Stef!)

Of course, I forgot to take pictures today. But I had to share this one with you:

This is a sign that R made at school one day and brought home. Actually, this was the second draft. He also brought home the first draft. He taped it up himself on the bathroom door. Any guess as to what it says?

Well, first, I have to say that I find it absolutely hilarious that R was thinking about this particular thing at school and that it was on his mind enough that he sat down to draw a picture in protest. Twice. And, then he saved it and made a point of barricading me in the bathroom until he could hang it on the door.

Because you know what it says?

No toothbrushing allowed.

The little bugger. :-)