Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent

I only took two things from my Dad's house after he died.  There were the tractor drawings he did in elementary school that are hanging in the boys' room, and there's this calendar.  So many sweet memories of waking up every morning in December and fighting with Corey and Steve to move the mouse.  Even when we were in High School and way too old for it, one of us would always pull it out of the trunk and pester Dad until he picked up some candy.  I can still remember the exact sensation of reaching into the pocket with one finger to fish out an m&m.

Ever since I left home, I'd wanted one of my own.   Of course there is no shortage of advent calendars out there- really gorgeous ones, clever DIY ones, grocery stores ones with the cardboard doors, and classic Nativity ones that probably fit the meaning of Christmas a lot better than a mouse with a polka-dot bowtie.  But none of them held the magic this one does.

Last year, we introduced it to the boys.  Each day they got an animal-shaped pretzel after they moved the mouse.  Back then, they weren't following any kind of diet, but Lwasn't two yet, so we didn't want him having any candy, even for holidays.  Every day M would dutifully move the mouse, report the date and how many days left until Christmas, and then pass out the pretzels. 

This year, I guess the boys will fight over moving it, just like we always did.  L is too smart and too stubborn to let M run a one-man-show this year.

I even have a dye- and artificial flavor-free treat that I could use in the pockets.  But I have another plan up my sleeve this year. (Don't worry, I have a plan for those treats. Stockings!)

I don't know who started it, but I've seen this great idea on pinterest and all over the blogworld.  You gather up all your Christmas books, borrow enough from the library to make 24, wrap them up, and let the kids choose one every night to read together as a family before bed.  I love this.  It's an advent calendar, presents, a tradition, and books all rolled into one.  What could be better?

Tonight I wrapped the library books in garish green paper I found at my school's Sweety Shop.  I'll wrap the rest (from home and my classroom) after we get some of that lovely Ikea red and white striped wrapping paper.  That way I can send the library books back before school breaks for winter, and the boys can continue opening our own books during Christmas vacation.
The green on the wrapping paper isn't actually as hideous at it looks in this picture.  But almost.

Here's hoping that they haven't all been unwrapped by the time I wake up tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

M-isms

While we're on the subject of M's adorable way with language...

  
His teary response to trying on a suit:  "I don't want to be a man!  I want to be a boy!"

Five is not enough days

L had another seizure today.  That was only 5 days.

I wasn't here, but it sounds like it was a bad one.  I don't feel like writing a whole post about it, but I do like using this blog to help me keep track of them.  So.

I guess M and L were fighting and that's how it started.  When I got home from work, M and I talked about it over a little paleontology while L was napping.

So fun.  I admit at one point M had to ask me to stop.  I'm sure I wasn't taking over, but whatever.

 With no prompting or leading questions, M said, "Jesus takes my fault-ness away from my heart.  And Jesus takes L's seizures away from his heart."

This kid is so special.  I don't know how he comes up with stuff like this.  Of course we have talked to him before about Jesus healing and forgiving us, but the way he sees and explains things is so beautiful.  No wonder the Big Guy is so into faith like a child.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

We don't do the traditional Turkey dinner around here, but Thanksgiving is still special for our family (read: me) because it's the opening day of the Holiday season.   I love Christmas. 

After we put up the tree, we always take time to do the obligatory/awkward Thanksgiving, "What are you thankful for?" roundtable discussion (M: Christmas tree, L: crib).  But mostly, it's all about Christmas.

So last week we put up the tree, made hot cider, and dusted off the Christmas playlists.

I was going to lie and say that I had Christmas carols on as I was typing this, but it's not true.  Horrible Christmas lies.  I wish I did, but I had to turn them off to type this because I can't think with music on.  (So sad... I could never turn on some music and study, like the cool kids are supposed to do in college.)  But as soon as I hit publish, I'll be back to Glee Christmas medleys. 

You think you're the kind of laid-back parent who won't rearrange the ornaments, then this happens...

My little elf!

That last picture of L reminded me of one of my other favorite Christmas season traditions. 

Elf yourself!!

Now I know how I'll be spending the rest of my evening!  Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Berenstain Bears and the Funniest Boy Ever

M had me in stitches today making up titles for all the Berenstain Bears books pictured on the back cover of his copy of The Berenstain Bears And The Messy Room.  I was laughing until tears were rolling down my cheeks and scrambling to write them down as fast as I could.


Can you identify these alternate titles?

The Berenstain Bears Got The Naughty Hands
The Berenstain Bears Pour Additives In Their Mouths
The Berenstain Bears And See What Happens If You Go Out Of The House?
The Berenstain Bears Run Away From the Evil Guys
The Berenstain Bears Got Sad Because What?
The Berenstain Bears Have Mean Eyes and Want To Hit That Pig
The Berenstain Bears Said No Touching
The Berenstain Bears Get Scared At the Shadow
The Berenstain Bears Blow This At the Baby Sister



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faux-tella

M never complains about the foods he can't eat.  Not ever.  He is such a sweet, good boy.
 
The other day he asked for Nutella at the grocery store.  He used to get it as a treat sometimes before, especially Nutella and marmalade sandwiches when he was sick, so I'm not surprised that he remembered it.  I knew he wouldn't whine or complain when I said, "Sorry buddy."  And he didn't -not even a pouty lip.  Somehow the fact that he is so good about it makes it that much harder to say no.

So this morning I made some super easy fake Nutella for his breakfast.  Just some chocolate chips blended into our regular sunflower seed butter.  Good enough for us!

I got one sharper, happier-looking picture, but his hair was in his food. Yuck!



Hey good lookin'

This afternoon our friend Yo got married, so M and L got a chance to test-drive their new suit jackets. Next stop: Auntie Wum's wedding!



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Who's laughing now?

Over the past year, a few our of friends have ridiculed us about commented on the Christmas card display in our window.



Well, Thanksgiving is over and the tree us up.  And last year's laziness saved me at least 2 full minutes this year.  So, who's laughing now?



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jeez, universe. I wasn't serious.

What are the chances that L would go 62 days without a seizure and then get hit in the face with a door and have one - the day after I wrote about a stupid, heartless thought that had popped into my head?

Seriously.  How does that happen?  I feel like a horrible person even though I know they aren't actually related.  Because this happened once before.  L once had a seizure the very same day I gave a report to my school community about how he had been doing so well for the past 3 weeks and thanking everyone for their prayers. 

I obviously have to learn to keep my big mouth shut.  Or at least be more careful with him whenever I get the urge to blab.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All toes intact and all is well

Yesterday, as I was riding home from work, I was thinking about how L hardly ever has seizures anymore.  I am so thankful, and grateful, and relieved.

So I have no explanation for how or why the following thought popped into my head: Hmm... what am I going to blog about now?

Horrible!  What a horrible thought that sneaked so stealthily into my mind.  As if it was worth him having seizures so I could have something to blog about.  I was shocked that something so base could come from my own L-loving heart.

Besides, it's total BS.  There's always something to blog about.  Case in point: Today, while he was in the grocery store cart, L reached toward giant display of knife sets for sale.  I moved the cart to keep them out of arms' reach and somehow in the process managed to knock over the entire display of knives, including the rolling counter they were set up on.  It was like a cartoon  - the whole display started tipping toward me in slow motion, and as I tried to right it, one by one knives were slipping out of the blocks and clattering to the floor all around me.

Who needs seizures, when I can write about my own heart attacks and near death-by-gin-ji-knife experiences?


And if that hadn't happened?  Well, I'd have written about how L locked himself in here for 15 minutes this afternoon, while the staff insisted there was no key.

And then opened it himself just as they found the key that they did actually have and started to put it in the lock.

See?  There's always something to write about.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

preschool drop out (Whim, not M)

We've always said we wouldn't treat L differently because of his seizures.

Obviously, that plan hasn't exactly worked out.

We watch his diet much more carefully than we would have otherwise, and we make sleep a priority for him even more than we did with M at that age.  I tell him he's alright and to dust himself off when he gets hurt, just like I did with M, but I also watch a little longer to make sure he starts breathing again.  And though we still discipline him consistently, I admit to sometimes using a gentler tone when scolding L, since so many of his seizures are emotionally triggered. 

But, until now, it really hadn't influenced any major decisions we made.

The preschool little siblings
Today, Whim stayed with the siblings instead of teaching at the preschool co-op - for the third week in a row.  Whim was hesitant to teach from the beginning, so when our friend suggested that maybe it would be better for him to stay with the siblings, instead of rotating with the other parents, he didn't have any objections.  The siblings room is much more his style, anyway.

L never actually had a seizure during preschool, but he almost always cried when Whim dropped him off.  And because crying is one of his triggers, it made the other moms nervous.  I totally understand - seizures are scary even when you are used to them.  While I am comfortable pushing L to do important things, even at the risk of seizures, I'm not as comforatable putting our friends in the position of having to deal with them without us there to help.  I just wonder if we're doing him a disservice by not letting him tough this out?



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Archers' visit

Our good friends the Archers came to visit us in Bangkok this week, and we spent the last 3 days as a family of 10.  It has been just as lovely and as crazy as you would imagine it might be.  For those keeping track at home, that's six kids under 12. 

The routine has already been thrown out the window... why not go out for bubble tea (or milk) two hours after bedtime?

I loved catching up with our friends and that our kids had a chance to spend time together.  And as crowded as it was, they were real troopers.  I was continually impressed with how mature and well-mannered our young guests were.  Truly good kids.

M has come so far in the last six months that it's easy to look on our current situation as good enough or even pretty great.  But seeing another family overcome jetlag, huge transitions, cramped quarters, strange foods, and cultural barriers while my own boys had crying fights over spots in the car and imaginary hotdogs... it kept me humble.  We still have a lot of room for improvement.

No complaints from me though, especially about the crowded house.  I got to spend the last three nights snuggled up with these darling rascals.  I admit that when we hugged our friends goodbye on the train this afternoon, I was relieved to think of the boys back in their own carseats and getting tucked into their beds tonight.  (I never seem to sleep as well with those little feet in my face.)  But that doesn't mean I didn't close my eyes and revel in the moment of waking up to a sight like this one.

Luckily for us, our friends will be back with us in a a few weeks.  We'd better rest up.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

candy cane tears

Today, for maybe the first time, I was a little bummed about the boys' diet.  We made some major changes pretty much overnight, but I can truly say I have never minded.   It is just so obviously worth it that it seems ridiculous to mourn the crap we used to eat.

Maybe it's because I'm more of an "eat to live" person and not really the "live to eat" type.  Maybe it's because when I had to drop gluten as a teenager, I basically eliminated every one of my favorite foods overnight.  I don't know, it just hasn't felt like that big of a sacrifice.  But today I saw candy canes at the Tops Daily near my school, and I got tears in my eyes.  Just for a second, but real ones.

I like candy canes well enough, but it's not the taste I'm sad the boys are missing.  It's the excitement of seeing them on the shelf and knowing Christmas season is really here.  It's 30 years of trying to eat the whole thing without breaking it, sucking on it until it makes a point and putting the round side in my my mouth whole.  It's chewy, stale ones when we're taking down the tree in February and tempting three-year-old candy canes at the bottom of the Christmas box. Just for a minute, I was bummed that my kids won't grow up with those moments. 

We do have our own Christmas traditions, and we can continue to build them.  But I'm not at all tempted to let them have them, "once in a while."  The thing I keep reminding myself is that the boys- M especially- would never have those magical Christmassy memories anyway.  The only memories he would have of candy canes would be finishing one in time out after stabbing his brother with it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A birthday shot

If this is our life now, just imagine trying to get a good photo in the old days.










































Happy birthday, Whim.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hand tree


M brought this home from preschool last week.  I'm so curious.  It was "H" week, and of course it's a handprint.  But it must've been part of a lesson or a story or something, and M is not telling.  Despite the fall colors, I don't think it's a turkey.  I asked M if they learned about a burning bush in Bible - no dice.

He insists its a "hand tree".    Any guesses?

Whatever it is, it's up on the fridge - I love it!  Who cares if I don't know what it is.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Whim's birthday

I'm never going to understand how I ended up with such a cool guy.   Happy Birthday, babe!

Lucky





I'm so lucky to have an amazing photographer for a husband.   I get surprised with treats like this almost every day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

more than seizures

L's official diagnosis last year was "Reflex Anoxic Syncope and Seizures".

The seizures were so obvious that I never really paid any attention to the word syncope.  He would have an RAS episode, then have a seizure.  Every once in while, he'd manage to work his way out of it before the seizure started, but for the most part, once it started, it always ended the same way.

But now that L has basically stopped having seizures, I have been able understand the syncope a little better.   In the last week or so, L has had a few episodes.  He hasn't had seizures, but he has lost consciousness.  It's hard for me to accept, sometimes, that as hard as I work to stop his seizures, he will still have RAS.  His heart will still stop and his breathing will still stop.   The end of his seizures hasn't meant the end of his suffering.

In the last few weeks, we've worked with L to help him snap of out it before he gets to the "point of no return."  My friend told me that with their daughter, they taught her to take a deep breath at the count of three.  We've tried it lately, and it helps.  I wish diet could be the only answer, but it seems I still need a few more tools up my sleeve.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

straight dish

What?  You don't put in a movie to distract your two-year-old and then straighten his hair to see how long it is? 

It looks just like mine used to.
I don't even get how it can be this long... it's not that curly
Every time I put the camera away, he'd start being cute again
I love my ragamuffin boys.  But sometimes it's cute to see them looking a little different.

The dangers of popcorn

No, not those dangers.  (But it is scary/gross to remember that I ate a bag of Act II microwave popcorn every single day after school in sixth grade.)

Two nights ago, we popped some popcorn to go along with our night-after-Halloween tradition: watching Elf.  Usually we make popcorn on the stovetop, but I had just pulled out the popper the other day when I was tidying the kitchen, so I decided to do that.

M got hit with a rogue kernel from the popper.  It got caught in his shirt collar somehow and the poor kid got some serious burns on his chest!

Two days later and it still looks nasty!

Son of a nutcracker!!