Wednesday, December 23, 2009

the Daily Grind

Ahhh. Another day. It seems like so many things happen in a day, yet they aren't significant enough to write about... Tristan is growing and developing just as he should, and it is so fun to watch. One day he wasn't really grabbing for things with his hands, and the next day he started. Now he has those "powerful urges" to grab everything remotely within his reach. He slaps at it, whatever it is, or grabs it, or scratches it. I have to keep his nails clipped to not be clawed daily. I took him to the doctor for his four-month appointment, although he was more like five and a half months. He finally got his first set of vaccinations. Before we knew if he had hemophilia or not, while he was still in the hospital just after birth, they were of course poking and prodding him with the usual battery of tests, including taking blood to test for hemophilia. Finally, Dean said enough, and wouldn't let them stab or stick him any more, hence no vaccinations in the hospital (hemophiliacs should have pressure held on needle sticks for five minutes afterward, but of course no one at the hospital knows that). His doctor never mentioned anything at his next couple of appointments, so he still didn't get any vaccines. Anyway, this guy (a Navy captain, no less, an O-6) who just saw him was enthralled with him, and kissed him more than once. It was so sweet. He is indeed a sweet little guy and we all love him to pieces. He has been rolling over I think since just before he turned four months. He doesn't roll around, just over once. He is finally taking infant cereal. He didn't think much of it for some time, but tolerates it now. He has been hungrier lately it seems, or at least draining me thoroughly. He loves to smile and wins people over all the time by smiling at them, and even laughing when Kyler plays with him. He also has his two bottom teeth, and uses them to let me know when he is done nursing. I need to put a stop to that before it becomes a habit.

That Kyler. He is something. This morning I gave him a kiss on the mouth. He slipped me the tongue. I was so shocked that I hooted and hollered and made a lot of noise. He thought it was great and laughed hysterically. I won't be kissing his little mouth any more. He is a doll, though, and full of fun and mischief. He is noticeably taller and thinner to me by the day almost. His pants are loose on him and his cheeks are losing the baby fat. He likes to help with things around the house, like a little cooking (stirring on the stove), vacuuming with the hose, wrapping presents, etc. I worry about his teeth. He gets into so much candy and whatnot, and is not obedient about brushing his teeth. When I go after them they sometimes bleed.

Hunter is thoroughly enjoying his time off from school right now. He is getting addicted to one of Dean's computer games, Age of the Empires or something like that. It is an involved strategy game. Dean's hard work of grooming Hunter since he was small to enjoy games is paying off. Hunter can actually play those games with Dean, and board games of the same strategy and complication. I have no interest whatsoever in such games. I'm more of a Scrabble or Apples to Apples kind of girl. Hunter had tubes placed in his ears today, for the third time in his life. A lot of thick fluid came out, so once again it was warranted.

Dean is up to his usual tricks, ha ha. Actually he had today, Tuesday the 22nd, off of work. He is on tomorrow, then off the next few days. We certainly enjoy the time off he gets in the army. He said the other day that he is much less stressed than he was in private practice - at any of his jobs, and he works fewer hours as well. Of course he makes far less money, but it has been well worth the change to the military for so many reasons. We don't know how long he will stay in the military. He could be done after his three-year commitment, or he could make a career of it.

I have hesitated to say that we may go to Korea in the summer for his next assignment, as nothing in the military is definite until you are traveling to your new assignment with your orders. He has been penciled in for an assignment in Korea for a few months now, and we were all hoping/expecting to go. We are not sure if we will be able to accompany him, though, only because Hunter and Tristan have hemophilia. The medical facilities there would have to be comfortable taking us. All that we really need is available "factor viii", which is what they are deficient in (which means that their blood doesn't clot well when they have a bleed, or a procedure such as placing tubes, or surgery). It will likely be months before we know anything for sure. If we can't go with him, he'll go unaccompanied for a year, or possibly get assigned somewhere (undesirable) here in the states. Dean is scheduled to have his knee operated on in the near future to fix the meniscus or ligaments or whatever is damaged (from the army combatives course in the summer). The recovery time will be three to six months.

I am always busy, yet hardly seem to get much done. I bought a new digital camera recently, and have taken a few pictures with it. I still need to read the manual to figure out all it's capabilities and to learn how to get the pictures on the computer. I spent a lot of time researching cameras on Consumer Reports and from online reviews, so hopefully I got a good one, at least for the price, which was fairly inexpensive.

Last night we decided to use one of the gift cards we've received in the last year and go to dinner, to probably my favorite restuarant the Olive Garden. I guess it's been a while since we've eaten there, as there were a lot of new things on the menu, and the prices were noticeably higher. It was delicious as always. Dean had the ziti, and actually said that mine is better. I tried it, and agreed. It didn't have meat in it, though, so my sausage of course would make it better. I had the braised beef and tortelloni. It melted in my mouth - oh, sooo delicious! Hunter enjoyed his ravioli and Kyler had fettuccini alfredo.

After seven years of PTSD, I have started trying to make Christmas candy again. When we lived in Colorado, I worked with the Young Women at church, and some of the other ladies had "no fail" recipes for making different kinds of candy, and for an activity one week, we made them at the church. Well. We went to my parents' home for Christmas that year and I attempted on my own to make one of those no fail recipes. About three batches of it went in the trash, and I've never tried since. So this year I decided to find recipes that don't need to boil or need any specific temperature. Dean's brother Dusty has said before that he makes microwave fudge. I figured if he could do it, maybe so could I. He's given me a recipe book before (1001 Fast Easy Recipes) that has several easy candy recipes. So, I've made several batches of different types of fudge, and even some toffee that only had to boil for 7 minutes (no thermometer or ice water needed). It all worked out well. The toffee actually must have gone just over seven minutes, as it went from just right to starting to caramelize/burn in a few seconds, but it wasn't ruined, and still had a wonderful flavor, so I call it a success! I'm so excited! We'll see if I'm still so excited in a couple of weeks when I step on the scale!

We had a Christmas party last weekend. It was a lot of fun. I went the easy route and had the guests each bring a food item, so that made it pretty easy on me. I threw some frozen meatballs in a crock pot with salsa and grape jelly as I learned from Aunt Linda, and they were a hit. I also put together grape juice and ginger ale, which she recommends, and it was also well received. I made some crescent rolls, rolled up with cranberry sauce and ham, which were ok. There were lots of yummy things to eat, and we did a white elephant gift exchange. Those are always entertaining.

We are enjoying this wondrous time of year, and wish you a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Side tracked

I got side tracked with the old guy in the swimming pool in the last post. So here's more of the trip, mostly from pictures. I didn't think to take a picture in Havre de Grace, Maryland of my college freshman roommate Emily and her hubby and baby - who was born a few weeks before our Tristan. We hadn't seen each other since 2000, when we both graduated from the University of New Mexico. It was fun to see them. Our boys very much enjoyed their baby's toys. We saw them on the second day of the trip. We did a drive by of Edgar Allen Poe's grave in Baltimore, MD. It was rainy and we didn't feel like dragging the kids out of the car.

I did manage to get a picture of Dean's cousin on his mom's side of the family. Nora is in red. She and Dave (the camera man) have a lovely home that they have remodeled beautifully, and a fun little guy named Jack. We saw them on the other side of Connecticut on the way back down.
They are trying to live a vegetarian and even vegan lifestyle, which I admire. They served us some delicious holiday-type breads and vegies with a fantastic hummus that was reddish with fire roasted red peppers. Yum. Satisfying and tasty.
Here is one of many lovely churches that we saw.

We drove a few miles past Uncle Jerry's home in CT so I could say that I had been to Rhode Island.
We spotted this on the way to R.I.

It was like home sweet home for the boys in the hotel room - snuggled up together, and worn out from all the adventures...

On Saturday night, we stayed with my cousin Clint and his wife and their sweet little boy in Lorton, VA. Kyler must have been carsick by the time we got there at 10pm. Neither of the boys has ever been carsick to my knowledge. He had said one time in the car that his tummy hurt. So as we were getting ready for bed and had the air mattress all set up and sheets and blankets on it, he said something about Baby and throwing up. Dean and I went to investigate, and Baby was indeed covered in mass quantities of gray vomit, with chunks, as were the bed linens. Dean and I were trying to wrap our minds around how this could have come from Baby, who has only ever spit up breast milk. Finally it dawned on me that this couldn't have possibly come from Tristan - something would have been very wrong with him if it had. I asked Kyler, and sure enough he was the source. Mystery solved, but then we had to bother my poor cousin, who had just returned himself from New York with the family, for more sheets. I didn't manage to get a picture of them either. We went to church with them on Sunday, which was nice. Then we headed for home! It was a lovey trip, but it is always so nice to get back home!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Two years ago when we lived in Astoria, OR, we had Thanksgiving together as a family, just our family, which was ok. Just ok. Dean and the boys spent the morning trying to catch tasty creatures from the sea, and I spent the morning slaving away in the kitchen. Then we sat down for the big meal, and thirty minutes later it was all over. I decided I didn't want to do that again. It is hard living so far from family that we can't get together very often for the holidays. Last year we drove to Florida and met up with Dean's family near Disney World, and even went to the magic kingdom on Thanksgiving day. This year we decided to drive to Connecticut and visit Dean's uncle that he hadn't seen for probably 15 years. I had not ever been to New England, so there was lots to see. It was surprisingly much like Astoria, with many older Victorian homes. There were old, beautiful, stone churches galore, which I love to see. We spent two days driving each direction, for a total of about 700 miles each way. We stayed the first night in Washington, DC in a hotel close to the capitol. We toured the Mall in the evening. It was dark, so it was pretty cool to see the monuments and memorials in the light of the street lamps.

The next three nights we stayed at a hotel in New London. Dean took the boys swimming in the pool once, and I took just Hunter one time. While I was in the pool with him, an old man was in the water. He wouldn't leave Hunter alone. I just didn't know what to make of it, and my mother bear sensors were on high alert. He kept asking Hunter questions - must have been hundreds of questions. They seemed more or less friendly and innocuous, but with all those questions, he got out of Hunter his first and last name, what Dean does (military, etc.), our family makeup, our religion and more. I would tell Hunter to swim, to do a down-and-back, that there wasn't any point in being in the pool if he wasn't going to swim - so he would when I told him to. But this guy just wouldn't stop asking him questions when he'd swim back. I didn't know if he was just a lonely old man, or if he was hoping to molest/kidnap Hunter if he could get him away from me, or what the heck he was up to. He asked him so many questions that Hunter couldn't get away to swim in the pool, except when I stepped in and told him to go swim. That was what bothered me so much. Hunter didn't go to the pool to answer questions from a stranger, to the exclusion of swimming. But while that guy was there he couldn't do anything. Hunter is pretty trusting of people and would get pretty close to him in the water in order to hear and answer. That made me nervous, too. I do NOT teach my kids stranger danger because it makes no sense (read the book Protecting the Gift to learn much better things to teach children). I also don't force them to be polite or affectionate to anyone they aren't comfortable with (that book says that doing so shuts off their danger instincts).

I asked the guy a few questions to slow his torment of Hunter. He's Catholic, but no longer practicing because he decided the church just wanted money. He's Polish (as was Dean's Grandmother whose home we visited that Uncle Jerry now lives in), and a retired engineer. He never said a word about his family; he wasn't in the pool with anyone, so I don't know if he was in the hotel with anyone, or visiting family or what he was doing there, or if he is a child molester. He was from another part of Connecticut. Finally another family came to the pool and this old guy got out, got dressed in the bathroom, then put on his hat and floor length fur coat, (which also weirded me out) and left. I kept a close handle on the boys the rest of the stay in the hotel, not that I wouldn't have anyway.

So, in discussing it with Dean, he pointed out a few things. He says Polish people are very friendly - and he would know. (On a side note, the first time I took Dean home to meet my parents my dad told Pollack jokes). He also explained that New Englanders are very talkative, just like Dean's late father Norm. So, maybe that was just it. Maybe he was just a friendly, talkative old gentleman. I guess we'll never know. I didn't necessarily get any bad vibes from him, but it weirded me out that he wouldn't let the boy swim! He totally monopolized Hunter's pool time.

Grandpa Norm's old stomping grounds, where we visited Uncle Jerry.

Becky and the boys in front of the submarine in New London, CT.

Hunter and Kyler at the controls on the submarine.

Dean, Hunter and Uncle Jerry in Preston, Ct.
I'll post more pictures when blogger will cooperate and let me :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Never a dull moment

I thought I'd take Tristan to get some pictures today since it's been a while. I didn't have an appointment, but thought I'd "walk in". Kyler brought a pen along for entertainment, and even asked for paper to write on. I thought it was nice that he was going to keep busy in the car. It wasn't long before he said that he didn't draw on Tristan's face. He often tells us that he "didn't" do something, invariably something awful that he knows he really shouldn't have done. That is our cue that he just did whatever it was. So, I asked him if he drew on Tristan's face. He said "no". I asked if I should stop the car and look at Tristan's face - much like I ask to smell his mouth when I don't believe that he has brushed his teeth, even if he says that he did. I was surprised that he said it was ok if I stopped the car to see. So for some reason I didn't worry about it, until we got to the picture place and indeed, he had done it. So much for pictures today. I made an appointment for tomorrow, and even got to spin the wheel of excitement to win a freebie. Naturally it was a 16x20, which I have no use for whatsoever. So I asked if I could spin for something else. Surprisingly, the lady just asked what I wanted, so I said the 8x10 collage - much more useful. She gave it to me. Hopefully we can make it tomorrow unscathed. Oh, and Kyler is spending some time in his room to think about not drawing on Baby anymore. He did also do quite a job on his own legs as well, as he has done many times in the past.

Regarding matters of parenting, I absolutely love John Rosemond. I've read a few of his books, which guide me tremendously in raising my children. I am further astounded on a weekly basis with his insight and common sense in his newspaper column. The current column discusses the common error that modern parents make when they tell their children that they can do or be anything they want. Sound outrageous? Last week's column was just as interesting, though a different topic.