Saturday, March 31, 2012

The boys

The boys have this ritual. Every night, after dinner, they grab a bowl of M&M's and disappear into the basement to play video games until it's bedtime.
This is their bonding time. Father and Son. It's something Mason has been craving, and needing ever since Fred started working from home. This year has been a difficult one for all of us, but I think it's been hardest on Mason. The concept of Daddy working, even though he is home all day, every day, and not able to play or hang out with him, does not compute to a 5 year old. So even though they have been doing a lot of video game playing, I allow it.

Their usual line up includes role playing games such as Arc the Lad, Final Fantasy, and Rogue Galaxy. But, every once in a while they throw in Gran Turismo, cause, you know, they are boys and well, it's racing. Cool cars. That's just what boys do. (Loosely quoting my 5 year old boy). Over time, Mason has even learned to handle the controls, racing himself, and winning first place most of the time. Is this boy like his Daddy or what?

Well, that was the routine until one fateful night. A shock of static electricity and our Playstation 2 was fried. It wouldn't even turn on. You'd push the button and...nothing. Mason was understandably devastated. Yes, it is only a game. I am very well aware of this fact. But, as I watched tears of broken heartedness streaming down my son's face, I realized it was so much more. It was Mason's special time alone with his Dad. Something they could do, just the boys. How could I deny him that? So, I did what any devoted mother would do, and I scoured the internet for a new Playstation. It was not in our budget to get a new $300 video game console (as much as Fred has been wanting a PS3), and besides you can't even play PS2 games on a PS3. However, I did find a store that sells refurbished PS2's for about $30.00. When I brought this to Fred, there wasn't too much of a discussion, as we already knew what we were going to do.

A few nights later, I saw the complete happiness on Mason's face as he and Fred came walking out of Game Stop, the new (to us) and working PS2 in hand. We, of course, raced right home, plugged it in, and the boys played their games until bedtime. The best $30 I think we have spent in a long time.
Their nightly ritual has recommenced and I, once again, am regaled with stories of magical powers, distant lands, epic battles with the evil Sin, and various companions they meet along their journey.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Allergies, Eczema and Asthma..oh my!

Wasn't it only a year ago that I held my little boy, ear pressed to his chest as he took short, shallow breaths, while rushing into the doctors office? I suppose I should have guessed this day would arrive for her as well.

Yet, here I was with my girl, listening to her little body wheezing with every breath, and feeling so unprepared. This scene all too familiar. I don't know if I thought that maybe she would escape all this asthma, allergy hullaballo, or if I thought I had a few more years before I needed to worry about it all. Though, putting some thought into it now, I should have known better. Especially with how she suffers daily from horrible eczema. Our doctor has told us many times, given family history it's not uncommon for the Asthma, Allergy, Eczema trio to be present. In fact it is more likely since this trio tends to be hereditary. Fred has it, Mason given her history with eczema, and evidence of allergies being present, it was bound to happen. But let's back up for a bit.

I first noticed her having a wheeze two weeks ago. It was a Friday, we were having a play date at the home of my kids best friends, who happen to also be the kids of our pediatrician. I think I've mentioned this before. The ironic story of our friendship. Anyway, the boys were happily playing off by themselves and our daughters, having some fun of their own, jumping on couches and running up and down stairs. Sophie had a bit of a cough, but I noticed as she ran by me that she had a different sound to her breathing. A wheeze. Nema heard it too, but it was subtle, and after some settling down from running it was gone. I forgot about it.

But now it has been a few days of this nasty cough and her periodically emanating that whistling sound, more pronounced after she has been running. I kept looking for any signs, mostly that of retractions in her neck muscles (what Mason was doing during his episode), but never saw it. So I did my best to not freak out. Convincing myself that it was nothing to worry about because it didn't seem to slow her down. Not even a bit. She was still go, go, go. Can't slow her down. A trait similar to her brother. It's hard to tell when these kids are sick because they just keep going and going, like the Engergizer Bunny. That said, I monitored her closely and would periodically say to Fred, "come listen to her breathe." Clearly I was concerned, but didn't want to seem the overprotective mother, freaking out over every little cough or wheeze. Fred and I had a long discussion after Mason's episode last year and I promised to try to be more easy going. I should never ignore my mothering instincts.

Yesterday, after a trip to the playground, where she would normally be running all over the place, she seemed sluggish and her breathing more rapid, as if it was difficult to do so. We headed home, where I had Fred check her breathing once more, and even though it was her nap time, and she was clearly tired, I finally made the call to our doctor. Fifteen minutes later, we were in the waiting room. Thankful, once again, for our doctor making the time to see her. Even without her cooperation to take deep breaths, he could clearly hear her wheeze with each and every breath she took. Though really concerned, I kept my cool. I suppose having gone through this once already made it easier the second time around.

Of course she hates the nebulizer. She was always scared of it when Mason had treatments. At first, it was a struggle to get her to sit still and put the mask on, but then she sat down on Daddy's lap and watched My Little Pony. Sophie has been slower to recover. It could be her age. She is only two and not the best at expressing herself. She doesn't talk very much, and answers questions even less. When she does talk, she is not very articulate and it takes me two or three guesses before I know what she is saying. I have to be very observant in order to have any idea of her symptoms, making her slightly different to manage. 24 hours and three nebulizer treatments later she's down for a nap, and as far as I can tell breathing better. Still I will follow the directions of our doctor and give her at least one more treatment today, continuing to monitor her closely through the weekend.

Spring has always been my favorite season. Beautiful weather with blooming trees and a myriad of smells. We are a family that prefers to be outside, kicking the ball around, riding bikes, going for walks, blowing bubbles and of course planting and harvesting our garden. With the pollen count in the moderate to very high range all month it is no wonder our allergies have been kicked into high gear. It is clear to me now that monitoring breathing habits and nebulizer treatments will become the norm, and that stocking up on tissues and Claritin will be brought to a whole new level.

That and it seems like I can't tell a story in any reasonable amount of words.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Lately, it has been beautiful. 70 degrees and feeling more like Spring than ever. Trees have begun to bloom. You can smell the aroma of nature as you step outside our door. I don't know the name of the plant but, I do love their smell.

We have been spending our afternoons outside, drawing with chalk, playing in the dirt, and riding bikes. One day we even broke out the sprinkler. Well it was mostly to water the grass but Mason insisted that he put on his swim suit and run through it. Sophie found the water too cold and eventually Mason did too. We'll have to wait another month or two before trying that again, I think. Or at least wait till the temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher. I'm pretty sure we will be breaking out the bubbles one of these days, I keep forgetting.

Sophia had her turn at Grandma Sunday. I was glad to have her back into that routine. She needs her own time with Grandma, she needs some independence, and more importantly, she needs to get used to being away from me.

I got the rare opportunity to run errands alone. Fred joked that I should make a big sigh at least 5 times and yell out, "don't do that" or "come here" a few times just so that it felt normal. (ha. ha.)

Mason seriously scared the hell out of me. I arrived home, after my errands, to a quiet house. I assumed the boys were outside playing, so I busily put the groceries and other items I bought away. As I walked out of the pantry I hear a little voice scream out, "BOO!" I must have jumped about 10 feet, proceeded by my screaming. In hind sight, it wasn't the best idea to scream an obscenity at my 5 year old son, but when you get the brains scared out of you, that tends to be the result. He giggled maniacally as I regained my composure, now certain I wasn't going to have a heart attack, and quickly descended to the basement. "Did you put Mason up to that?" "Up to what?" Fred asked me back. "Scarring the buhgezzes out of me!" An evil smile curled upon his lips as he casually, and only half heartedly, tried to hold back his laughter. "No, I didn't, but that is awesome. Did you scare Mommy, buddy?" "Yeah, I did. I scared her good." They both laughed. Hard. Sharing this moment, and savoring my torture. I, however, had no interest in sticking around for this. I quietly turned and left the room. Their all too joyous laughter growing dim behind me. Jerks.

Fred and I took Mason to the playground up the street by our pool. We race the whole way there. Realize we are totally out of shape. The swings were too squeaky for my taste and I had to hold my ears as Fred decided he would swing despite the nails on a blackboard screeching. We tried to capture Mason as he ran through the play scape, up the slide, in the tunnel, down the stairs, around the other side. I ran up the slide after him. Guess I judged wrong because my head hit hard and everything went white. And for a bit I could feel myself sliding down the slide, hands holding my head, and the tears welling up in my eyes. I didn't want to cry in public, so I choked them back. I felt a little nauseous, even looked a little pale. I spent the rest of the our time at the playground sitting on the bench, nursing my ego and bruised skull. I have to say, playgrounds are only for children for a good reason. However, we tried to turn this into a learning opportunity for Mason. "See, buddy, this is why we don't walk up slides. We only slide down them." Ha! I could see how well that lesson sunk in as we watched our son climb up the slide, that mischievous Briggs grin on his face.

Lately, a few mornings while Mason is at school, it's been warm enough to take Sophie to the playground. She makes friends so easily these days. Such a kind, friendly, and caring person she has become. I absolutely love that about her. I like it when I am able to give her things she can do on her own. Things to help her develop. I feel so guilty that she has not had the same opportunities that Mason was given. I feel so guilty that I have not been able to give her the attention and time that I devoted so much of to Mason at this age. When I see her engaging in things on her own and learning it helps to ease my mommy guilt, if only just a bit.

Lately, we've decided that it was time to plant our garden. So a trip to Home Depot later, and the kids are getting busy in the dirt with Fred. We've planted tomatoes, cucumbers (Fred wants to pickle them, I want some for my salad), carrots and peppers. Flowers have already bloomed on our strawberry plants and we can see the beginnings of buds on our raspberry and blueberry plants. We bought a second grape plant to cover the hideous shed. We are hoping these concords are actually seedless, unlike the first type we bought that said the grapes were seedless, but turned out to have seeds.

It turns out, we planted our garden just in time for a last minute frost to hit, temperatures dipping into the low 30's last night and early morning. Oh, well. Hoping our harvest produces well this year despite.

Lately, allergies are hitting the household with a vengeance. Waiting for all the coughing, sore throats, ear infections, itchy eyes, sneezing and running noses to subside.

Lately, Spring cleaning has been on the forefront of my mind. I have a running mental list of things needing to be done: windex the windows, clean and vacuum out my car, hose down the deck (table, chairs and all), mow the lawn, etc. And for the first time ever I actually seriously cleaned our Dyson vacuum today. OH.MY.GOD. It so needed this cleaning. Through Pinterest, I found a website with instructions on how to clean your Dyson, including photos for each step. Can I just say how much I love DIY projects and How to tutorials that include pictures. I am such a visual person, especially when it comes to learning. Anyway, she says you are supposed to do this every 3-6 months. Whoops! I've done this, like, NEVER! Ha, ha. It's a wonder this thing still works huh? So now I am waiting the appropriate 24 hours till my Dyson is dry and I can use it again. In the meantime, my floors will have to remain dirty. Though, it's not like this is anything new to my floors.

Lately, this house has been filled with songs from Strawberry Shortcake episodes and scenes from My Little Pony. Most especially that of the Read It and Weep episode featuring Daring Do. This is the kids favorite. I hear Mason reciting lines and acting out scenes, "Hmm, these animals are all predators. Except for Rats!" and "You won't get away with this Ahuitzotl." Daring Do is reminiscent of Indiana Jones so it's not surprising that it holds their interest, especially Mason.

The new season of Transformers Prime has begun and our DVR is running out of room. I am fearing the day that I have to inform them we need to start deleting.

Lately, I've been running all over town searching for all 8 in each boys and girls series for Happy Meal toys. They are My Little Pony and Transformers Prime this month. I tell you, the things I do for my kids. On the other hand, having these toys in his earning basket has really motivated Mason to find ways he can earn stones.

Lately, this is our life. A glimpse into our everyday. I document this now, knowing in only a few short months, our lately is likely to change.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lucky Charms

The four-leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the common, three-leaved clover and is quite rare. Occuring once in about 10,000 specimens. According to tradition, such leaves bring good luck to their finders, especially if found accidentally. According to legend, each leaf represents something: the first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Monday, while picking Mason up from school, Sophie was picking at the blanket of clovers covering the landscape. I bent down to supervise, making sure she didn't pull out the whole lot, and ended up finding the little beauty pictured above. I can't believe I actually found a four leaf clover. Mason and Sophie didn't understand the implications of this little find, they only thought it was cool. Mason begged to carry it to the car. And as I held their little hands walking through the parking lot, watching him twirl the clover in his fingers, I couldn't help thinking how much we have needed just a little bit o' luck in our lives.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting there - Family time and The Lorax

Today we were finally able to take the kids to see Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.

It all started Monday morning when Mason woke up at 1am screaming. I couldn't get him to tell me anything other than he had a nightmare, though he continued to scream and I could tell there was something else wrong. So, I called in reinforcements. Daddy managed to get him to say his ear hurt, and after some late night t.v., back to bed. When the sun rose, Fred took Mason to Patient First convinced he had yet another ear infection.

I called Mason in absent from school and waited to hear the diagnosis. About an hour later, Fred called. Mason's ears were so full of wax the doctors couldn't see his ear drums so they flushed out both his ears. Now, I have had this done to me (only one ear though) and it was one of the most uncomfortable, often painful, things I have been through. You bet I won't be volunteering for that again. So when I heard Mason was having it done, I cringed. But, true to form, Mason was a champ and handled it like the brave, strong, little man he is. After all that, the doctor said she saw no infection. However, she did notice a distinct heart murmur and referred us to a pediatric cardiologist.

My first thought was, didn't we go through all this three years ago? Knowing all this, we instead scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician for a second opinion. I just want to put it out there: having a good pediatrician makes ALL the difference. About 2 hours after his initial exam, Mason was in another doctors office, this time with all of us present. Knowing Mason is not one to complain or cry over nothing, our pediatrician decided to take another look at Mason's ears. Turns out there was still a significant amount of wax in his ears because the ear drum still was not visible. Mason, having had enough, was not too thrilled to have another doctor scraping out his ears. I felt for the boy, I really did. My heart broke with every tear that hit the floor. Despite the pain, I was glad we put him through it because as it turned out his ear was infected. Fred and I even got a chance to look through the otoscope to see the bright red ear drum. Kinda cool.

Next, we tackled the heart issue. Our pediatrician remembered the previous incident and pulled up the records from our trip to the pediatric cardiologist three years ago, which determined it was an innocent murmur, one all children have and eventually grow out of. Just out of playing it safe, our pediatrician checked his heart again. Determined there was nothing new and not to be concerned. Mason hasn't had any indication of having trouble breathing, nor has he been excessively winded when playing. So basically nothing to worry about. Just your standard case of an ear infection.

That long story said, we had planned to go see The Lorax on Monday, but after all the doctor visits, it didn't happen. On top of that, Mason missed his classroom Dr. Seuss celebration, which he'd been looking forward to all last week. To make up for it, we took the kids to IHOP for some Truffula Chip Pancakes and Rooty Tooty Bar-Ba-Looty Blueberry Cone Cake. I would have tried the Green Eggs and Ham if they had actually been green eggs and not spinach. Guess I'll have to try dying my own eggs next year. Mason can't wait to plant the seeds in our yard. He is convinced they will be "cotton candy trees" as he calls them. Suppose we will have to plant them and see. I'm actually curious myself as to what type of tree will grow.

OK, so no Lorax on Monday. We decided after a day of antibiotics in him, we would take the kids to see The Lorax on Tuesday after school instead. That didn't happen either. Tuesday morning we got a call from Fred's brother, who was in town for a conference. They screwed up his reservations at the hotel. Naturally we offered him our guest room and Fred picked him up that afternoon. It was great to for us and the kids to see him again, plus we got to go out to dinner with friends.

So, two days of planing to see this movie and two days of having to reschedule. This is life I tell you. Nothing goes according to plan. You just have to learn to go with the flow and not get so stressed about it. This is a work in progress for me. Anyway, back to the Lorax. It's Wednesday, Fred dropped his brother at the airport, I dropped Mason off at school, and we are looking at movie times. It was decided, we would make it to the movies today.

After picking up Mason from school and grabbing a quick lunch, we all piled in the car and headed to the new theatre in Leesburg, Cobb Village 12. Wow! This is now my new favorite theatre. They have a concierge desk, 3 VIP auditoriums with reserved seating, A FULL BAR (did you catch that? I'll say it again, A FULL BAR. And you can bring your drink back to your seat. Awesome!) with a full "chef inspired" menu and seating, a cafe style snack bar with all your movie theatre favorites along with a hot menu and self serve fro-yo. This pass-through style makes it so you don't have to wait in those annoying lines at the snack bar anymore. Does it get better than that? I'm thinking Girls Night!!

Anyway, after hitting up the snack bar for popcorn, drinks and some gummy bears we grabbed two of those boosters and headed to our seats. But not before noticing the party room and stating that I might just be hosting a party for myself this year. We sat at the very top of the stadium seating and settled down to wait for the movie to start.
I think this one really enjoyed the experience. This was her first "real" movie theatre experience. We've been to those free movies over the summer, where it's nothing but kids and no one cares if your child is running around or making noise because the whole theatre if full of children doing the same thing. This time though, we had to stay in our seats and be quiet. She did real well and mostly liked being able to hold the popcorn all by herself. She refused to let it go.
(Waiting for the movie to start.)
Faces glued to the screen, these two were heard giggling throughout the movie, especially when the quirky creatures of the Truffula forest were on screen. Sophie could be seen covering her ears every so often. I think it was a bit loud for her taste. She does only have 2.5 year old ears. When asked what was his favorite part of the movie, Mason said, "the part where they are going to kiss and she says we don't have time for that." Ha, ha. Of course, it is.

If you haven't already, go see The Lorax for yourself, with your family. It has a great, not so subtle message about environmental consequences to depleting our resources, destructing habitat , and causing pollution while the big corporations get rich. I really wonder why this story wasn't made a big screen movie until now, given our history with environmental issues.

Even though it felt like it took us forever to get there, I really enjoyed the movie as did the kids. This was a very nice family outing, something that was needed. I'm glad we did it and I really look forward to having more of these in the future.
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Saturday, March 3, 2012

In like a lamb


March 1st turned out to be one of the most gorgeous days by the time I picked up Mason from school. Reaching a near 70 degrees before the days end, we took advantage of the rare Spring-esque weather. I made special muffin tin lunches for us to enjoy out on the deck, while listening to music on iTunes. Everything is more enjoyable and relaxing when you add great music to the mix. I think life would be much easier if we all had our own soundtrack. Don't you?

After lunch Sophie went down for a nap and Mason and I went outside to throw the ball around. We ran into one of our neighbors up the street who have two boys around Mason's age and the three of them played out in the yard, as I chatting with my neighbor while she cleaned out her car. (Which reminds me, I should probably find a day to get that done as well.)

Around 4:30pm we said good-bye to our friends and came inside to start dinner. I made one of Mason's favorite dishes, (also a favorite of mine growing up) Beef Noodle Casserole. Yum!

We ended the evening making homemade ice cream with our brand spankin' new ice cream maker. It works much, much better than our old one. (Thanks so much Mom and Dad, best family Christmas present ever!) The kids helped mash the strawberries, while I ran to the store for some ice. Sophie then sat vigil watching intently, and albeit rather impatiently, as the maker churned our mixture into delicious strawberry ice cream. I have to say, I actually prefer our homemade strawberry ice cream to the store bought. It is that good.

What a great start to the month of March.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Today, we arrived at carpool to find all the teachers greeting us with Cat in the Hat hats on, and a banner in the entryway. Last year, on this day, Mason's class ate Green Eggs and Ham for snack and made their own Cat in the Hat hats.
(Mason, Age 4, March 2011)
This year, his class had their community helper dress-up day. They were asked the question, "If you could be a community helper when you grow up, which would it be?" This falls into the theme they are learning about for the month of February, Community Helpers, ending this week. Mason decided he would be a Construction Worker, which was perfect because two years ago my parents got him a set of tools with a belt and hard hat.
(Mason, Age 3, January 2010)
Good thing we still have the complete set. Some of the tools are showing the wear and tear, but it served it's purpose today. I didn't grab a picture of him this morning, but his teacher has been great about taking photos throughout the classroom, during each month, and then posting them to our classroom Shutterfly share site. This has been such a bonus for my scrapbooks, especially since we can download any image we want for FREE. And, even though I haven't been able to help out in the classroom this year, as much as I would like, this site has allowed me to experience all the things I have missed. Anyway, my point was that I am sure she took pictures of everyone in their outfits today, and will be posting those photos on the website in the next few days.

Even though Dr. Seuss' actual birthday is today, Mason's school is spreading the celebration over two days. Having finished out their February theme today, the Bears' Dr. Seuss celebration will be on Monday, where Mason is already assuming they will be eating green eggs and ham again.

"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."

Of course you can't celebrate Dr. Seuss properly without reading to a child. The NEA sponsors Read Across America, an annual reading motivation and awareness program that is held on March 2nd. Mason's teacher has asked the class bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book on Monday as part of the birthday celebration. I wonder which story Mason will choose. Maybe, There's a Wocket in my Pocket? Or perhaps, Wacky Wednesday? I wish we had Oh, the Places You'll Go, but I was waiting to get that for him at the end of the year--when he has his fly up ceremony at school.

In addition, Mason's school continues the Read Across America celebration for the entire month of March, giving parents the opportunity to come into the classroom and read books to the class. This was one of the highlights for me last year, sharing a few of Mason and I's favorite stories. I grew up around books, and it has fostered a love for reading (not only for myself, but also reading to and with children). So when the email was sent out, I was one of the first to sign up, and am now anxiously awaiting for my day to arrive.

I think we can all agree that Theodor Seuss Geisel, was an innovator. He made learning to read fun while imparting important life lessons at the same time. Green Eggs and Ham delivers the age old message of "don't judge a book by it's cover," while The Sneetches touches on discrimination, and The Lorax, well it's obviously about our environmental responsibility. But that's what I love so much about his books. The inspirational aspects you walk away with after reading them. Because, "it is better to know how to learn than to know." (Dr. Seuss)

So on his birthday, I leave you with a few of his inspirational quotes:

Dr. Seuss Quotes
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