Monday, October 26, 2009

Back in the Land of the Living

What a few days it has been! On Tuesday night Mike came down with what we believe was H1N1, and he was completely wiped out from then through Friday night. He missed 3 days of work (which is not taken lightly when you are self-employed and have no paid time off) and basically was sequestered to the guest room, sleeping the majority of every day from Wednesday through Friday. Even on Saturday and Sunday he still needed to nap. On Wednesday night I discovered Zach had a fever, so he skipped preschool on Thursday and we went to the doctor. The pediatrician didn't think Zach had H1N1 because he hadn't had a real high fever (though Mike never really did, either) and wasn't completely wiped out like Mike was. Friday Zach seemed to be doing better, but we still skipped play group and just stayed home. I was starting to get rather stir-crazy, stuck home with sick people and with rain all day Thursday and much of Friday. So, we made our own quiet fun, since Mike was upstairs sleeping.
Zach put on his pirate costume that Grandma Ruth just made for him, and dragged Drew around on the Hawkeye blanket.

Then Zach got on the blanket and I dragged both boys around.

The rain and cold temps kept us inside all day Thursday and Friday, but not the dogs! Here's Maggie after I forgot about her and left her outside for about 45 minutes in the rain. Oops.

Friday afternoon I got a tip that my pediatrician's office had gotten some of the H1N1 mist, so I quickly called and got Zach an appointment. Zach was unhappy to hear he was getting the mist instead of the shot, but after a quick call to his cousin Cam and some reassurance from him (Cam recently got the seasonal flu mist), Zach felt better. Saturday it seemed like everybody was on the mend- no fevers, no achiness, minimal coughing, etc., and the day started pretty well. Drew played with the fridge farm and gave the animals kisses.

Zach and I decorated the sugar cookies I baked I Friday night.

Here are all the cookies once we finished. I surprised both Mike and myself by being quite calm and not as anal about cookie decorating as I usually am. Maybe it's because I knew we weren't giving all of these away. Anyway, we made ghosts, footballs, pumpkins, leaves, and tiger hawks, which is the Hawkeye mascot for you non-Iowans.

A couple of our Hawkeye cookies- we took most of these cookies (pretty much all the cookies I decorated) to Brad and Molly's house, which was where we watched most of the Hawkeye game.

Zach got a little orange sugar happy with this tiger hawk. I had to stop him from adding more sugar, and then I had to dump a bunch of it off this one.

Only one cookie ended up on the floor, frosting side down, of course.

After decorating cookies, Mike and Zach headed out to get Zach's H1N1 vaccine, and Drew and I played around before I had to go to my soccer game. After my game we all got ready to go to the Art Center for family pictures. We decided that since we haven't had any formal family pictures taken since Zach was 3 months old, we should do it this fall. I'm not sure why I decided it would be a good idea to do family pictures with a 19 month-old toddler, as that seems to be the most uncooperative age for professional photos, I think. But, we did it. Amazingly, the weather was great on Saturday, and the leaves at the Art Center were really pretty. Here are the boys all ready to go.

We arrived at the Art Center 5 to 10 minutes early, but couldn't find our photographer, so we ended up being late. How annoying. She and I had talked earlier in the day and I thought I understood where we were supposed to go, but apparently I was wrong. Drew was cooperative for about the first 5 minutes of the photo shoot, and then he decided it'd be more fun to walk circles around the family than to sit with the family for pictures. Susan, our photographer, is great, though, so I'm sure she managed to get at least one good family picture. Then she had a basket of fake apples that the boys played with, so I'm also sure she got good pics of that. At the end she gave the boys caramel apples to eat, and then Drew sat still, of course. I can't wait to see the proofs in a few weeks. I really hope there are a few good ones!

Saturday night, since everybody seemed to be past all the sickness, we decided to watch the Hawkeye/Michigan State game at Brad and Molly's place. The boys and I left early so I could get them to bed, and I ended up watching the end of the game by myself. And what an ending it was! If you missed the last few minutes of the game, you missed everything! The Hawkeyes won in the last 2 seconds of the game and maintained their undefeated status. Unbelievable. I was off the couch jumping up and down all by myself. I'm surprised I couldn't hear Mike and everybody two houses down at Brad and Molly's.

Drew was so excited on Sunday morning when he heard about the big win that he had to give Herky (the Hawkeye mascot) a big kiss. He's very much into kissing things lately- things, not people. His trucks and stuffed animals get way more kisses than I do.

Sunday the weather seemed nice enough to go to the pumpkin patch (finally!), but alas, Zach and Drew both had fevers, so it was not meant to be. Zach was also coughing and sneezing and his nose was running like you would not believe. I feel very bummed that we won't get to a pumpkin patch this year, but we've had busy weekends in October, crappy weather on our free weekends, and then nice weather and a free weekend, but sick kids. Ugh. So instead of going to a pumpkin patch, Drew and Zach got to try out their new rakes in the backyard. They picked the tree where the dogs don't poop, thankfully!

Apparently Zach was having a hard time smiling for the camera, so instead Foudy took his place and he got behind the lens to make Drew smile.

Zach and I also got started on some of our leaf projects on Sunday. Last week on our walks we collected a bunch of leaves, and they've been sitting in our phone books getting flattened out for a few days. Here are all the leaves we collected.

These are a few of my favorites up close. I really love how some of the maple leaves are green and a deep pink. How cool is that?

We did go to Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Cynthia's house on Sunday night to see Aunt Katherine, and both boys seemed ok, but not 100%. Zach was still blowing his nose every 30 seconds, and coughing and sneezing pretty often, too. After the boys' baths last night I took their temps, and they were both a little over 101, so we decided Zach would not be going to school again today.

Drew, who slept poorly yesterday, actually slept in this morning, and that seemed to be what he needed to feel better. I can't believe that with all the germs that Mike and Zach have been spreading around Drew and I haven't really gotten sick. My temp was up to 100.3 last night, but today I felt fine. Here's Drew after he woke up this morning. Notice all the stuffed animals. This kid loves his toys, and always has to have something (or as many things as his hands can hold) to carry around with him. Last night he slept with Puppy, Bridget (his alligator), and Cookie Monster, so they all had to come downstairs with us this morning.

Zach didn't sleep in like I hoped he would, but he didn't seem to have nearly as runny of a nose as he did yesterday, and he was in good spirits. Here are the boys playing one of Drew's favorite games. I call it train. Oh, and you can see one of our finished leaf projects (one we made this morning while waiting for Drew to wake up) on the door in the background.

Though Zach didn't go to preschool today, we did go to the grocery store- we had basically no food in the house. Zach decided that buying pumpkins at HyVee would suffice, though he was really sad to miss out on a hayride at the pumpkin patch. It seems people had bought all the normal sized pumpkins at HyVee already, so we came home with 2 huge ones that we'll have to carve tomorrow. This afternoon the weather was decent enough for us to get the dogs out for a nice walk while Zach rode his bike, and again, he seemed to feel good, so I think we'll be back in the land of the living tomorrow. I do wonder if that live vaccine Zach got on Saturday made his temp spike back up a little- I've heard the mist can do that. I suppose we'll never know, though. Zach still needs the seasonal flu vaccine, but our pediatrician's office is out of that, and Drew needs the H1N1 vaccine, which we're anxiously awaiting. I suppose it's too much to ask that we've had our sickness for the winter and that we'll be healthy from here on out, huh?

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Hot Dogs

The other day I was getting the boys lunch. As usual, I didn't really have a plan for lunch, so I was winging it. When this happens, as it does most days, I figure out a vegetable for the boys to eat first, and while they're eating that, I figure out the rest of the meal. So on Tuesday the boys were eating some cauliflower while I scanned the fridge, and I decided that they could eat the last two turkey hot dogs and maybe some of the leftovers from the night before. I made Zach's hot dog first (Drew must have moved on to some fruit or something, because Zach never finishes eating before Drew), and as he was about halfway done, he said he would want another hot dog when he was finished with the first. I told him there was only one left, so if Drew wanted the leftovers, Zach could have the second hot dog, but if Drew didn't want the leftovers, he would get the second hot dog. Zach suggested they split the hot dog, and I said that we'd have to see, but that that probably wouldn't happen, because half of a hot dog wasn't much for Drew to eat.

Of course, Drew did not want the leftovers, so I told Zach that Drew was getting the second hot dog. Zach flipped out and started crying about how that didn't feel fair to him and how he was so hungry for a second hot dog. I tried to explain how there were two hot dogs and two kids, so it was only fair for each boy to get one hot dog. He kept going back to how he would have shared the hot dog with Drew.

I could see I was getting nowhere, so to prove a point, I got out two Strawberry Newton cookies. I said to Zach, "I have two cookies. I'm going to give them both to Drew, ok?" Zach didn't like that idea one bit. So I said how that was what he originally thought should happen with the hot dogs- that he should get both. Then I broke one cookie in half, and said to Zach, "Ok, Drew gets this much (one and a half cookies), and you get this much (half of a cookie)." Again, Zach thought that was totally unfair and the crying continued.

Well, there was more explaining by me, and somehow I think Zach finally understood the point I was trying to make. But the crying continued, just as hard as it had started. I asked Zach what the deal was, and he kept saying, "I'm upset about the deal I made with the hot dog." I was confused, and asked Zach a clarifying question, and he said, "I'm just so upset about the deal I made for Drew... I feel like I was being really mean and nasty to Drew and it just feels so bad!" It was then that I realized he was feeling so bad not about himself not getting that second hot dog, but about trying to short Drew out of a whole hot dog in the first place. I said, "Oh, buddy, it's ok. Drew forgives you and I forgive you." and Zach said, "I don't forgive myself!" And then a few minutes later, "I just feel like I wasn't being a very good friend to Drew," sob, sob, sob. The kid was a wreck. So I tried to point out how much he normally shares with Drew, things like popsicles and cookies and all kinds of goodies, so he shouldn't feel so bad. I also told him that sometimes big brothers aren't very nice to little brothers, and vice versa, but it doesn't mean that they don't love each other.

It was just another example of how sensitive Zach is. Though I felt bad that Zach was so upset with himself, I was also proud of him for caring about Drew's feelings and happy that he finally understood the fairness/unfairness of the whole situation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Drew's First Haircut

Well, the time finally came for Drew's first haircut. I loved his curls so much for so long, but with the summer humidity gone, those curls just weren't as curly or as cute. It was just getting a little unruly. Plus, combing Drew's hair after a bath was not fun- there were always snarls, and I don't know any person who likes combing through snarls, let alone a toddler who handles it well. Also, we're getting some family pictures taken this weekend, so I wanted Drew at his absolute cutest.

Here's the back of his head before any cutting took place.

I think back to Zach's first haircut, and I remember it fairly well. We went to the mall, and we had a young gal cut it. Zach sat there so nicely, with tears in his eyes, but sitting very still. I shed a tear or two seeing his curls go. We knew Drew's first haircut would not be so easy, so we went in armed and ready with snacks and his favorite stuffed animal. *Disclaimer- Mike and I had just gotten back from a kickboxing class, so in these pictures I have wet hair from just showering.

Right away, Drew was unhappy with the spray bottle.

Molly really is great- she was able cut Drew's hair without messing up ever, even though he was wiggling and turning away from her every chance he got.

My sister Sandy had mentioned how much Anders loves Fig Newtons, so I decided to buy some Strawberry Newtons to feed to Drew during his haircut. I decided to whet his appetite a little by giving him a Strawberry Newton at lunch, and wouldn't you know it, that kid would not touch it! So I had to go to Plan B, which meant alternately offering Drew animal crackers and candy corn. That seemed to work pretty well.

Cutting the hair on the top of Drew's head was probably the most challenging. He has some long hair up there, but not a lot of it, so we had to keep it a little long until the hair fills in more.

Amazingly, Drew stood very still while Molly used the trimmer on his neck- it was almost like he didn't realize she was doing it. He did seem mesmerized by the train Zach was playing with.

Here we are after it was all said and done. Overall, Drew did better than I expected him to.

Zach decided he needed to get in on a picture, too. This is such a good picture of Zach and Molly.

Today I finally got a couple of pictures of just Drew, front and back, to show his new look. Though the actual curls are gone, the waves are still there, which surprised us a little bit.

Here's my big boy! I love his new look. I don't miss the curls, because I just think he looks so cute with his hair short like this. Thanks, Molly, for doing such a great job! Now we know his hair will look great for the pictures, but can someone guarantee us that he'll be cooperative and smile?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Busy Weekend (Now with words to go with the pictures)

Oops- earlier I accidentally published this post when all it was was pictures. So now I have gone back and done some explaining.

This past weekend was a busy one! Friday we got the house ready and anxiously awaited the visit of Aunt Sandy, Uncle Will, and Anders. Here's Drew showing how excited he is to see them.

Unfortunately for Drew, he didn't get to see them until Saturday morning, because they got in after 10 on Friday night. We basically all said hello and went to bed.

Saturday morning everybody was up and ready for action. Will entertained us all by his keen fashion sense.

The three cousins enjoyed the cranberry-orange muffins and scrambled eggs that I made. Sadly, I think this is the only photo I got of all three boys the whole weekend.

Sandy and I went to run a few errands (including hitting up the tea store at the mall and spending way more than we planned to on tea) and went to pick up our race packets at the race expo for our half marathon the next day. We got back just in time to get Zach to his last soccer game. In the mean time, the guys stayed home and watched the Hawkeyes maintain their undefeated status by beating the Badgers!! Then Mike and a couple of our college friends headed up to the ISU game in Ames. Sandy and I played with the boys.

I like this picture of the boys playing for a couple of reasons. First, I think Drew looks kind of funny (and slightly thuggish) wearing the new Hawkeye stocking cap I got for Zach earlier that day. Second, I think we'll look back at this picture in 20 years and recall the Snuggie trend (notice the commercial on the T.V. in the background).

After playing upstairs for a while, we headed down to the basement. I set up an obstacle course for Zach, and here he is demonstrating his jumping jacks. He isn't quite coordinated enough yet to really do his arms and legs, so mostly he jumps up and down and flaps his arms.

Aunt Sandy was a great sport and did the obstacle course, too, even the somersault in the middle.

Meanwhile, Drew and Anders played pretty well together, or at least next to each other.

Zach was very excited to get back upstairs to help Uncle Will make the pizzas, and he was the official "Cheese Boy." Making pizza with Uncle Will is a special treat Zach has come to expect every time we're with Sandy and Will, so we may soon have a full album full of pictures of Zach and Will making pizza.

Apparently there was something on the pizza stones that didn't appreciate being in the hot oven, and as a result, we nearly smoked ourselves out of the house. Amazingly, though, the smoke detector only went off twice. Given the amount of smoke that seemed to be in the house, though, that may not be a good sign. I'll have to be sure to change the batteries when I change my clock in a couple of weeks!

Despite the smoke, the pizza turned out very delicious, and we all enjoyed it!

Zach's favorite part was the flour on the bottom of the pizza. He and Will decided they should start a pizza place called "Flour on the Bottom" or something like that.

After dinner there was a little more playing before bedtime, including a concert by Drew and Anders.

Sunday morning Sandy and I got up early and headed downtown for our half marathon. Apparently we didn't get up early enough, though, because we were looking for a parking spot at 7:50, and the race started at 8:00! We improved over our last race, though, because we got to the starting line for that one with just 2 minutes to spare; this time I think we probably had about 4 or 5 minutes.

The race went really well. Nobody came and cheered us on, so we have no action shots from the race. My best half marathon time was one hour and 53 minutes, so my goal this time was to finish in 1:50. Because we got there with just minutes to spare, we couldn't get into the starting area next to the 1:50 pacer, but we weren't too far behind. And though there were a lot of people, it only took us a little over 2 minutes to cross the starting line instead of the 10 minutes it took us in the Twin Cities, and it wasn't as difficult to maneuver around people in the beginning. Sandy and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, but then we separated. The run was really pretty, and the weather was pretty nice, too. A bit chilly and breezy at times, but overall it was not bad. The course runs through some of downtown Des Moines, right up by the gorgeous capitol building, through the huge Water Works Park, around Gray's Lake, and then back through some of downtown again. Though we weren't together, Sandy and I both saw a Bald Eagle in Water Works Park, which was really cool. I felt like nobody else I was running by saw it, and I was almost compelled to shout out, "There's a Bald Eagle over there!" because I feel like it's not every day you see a Bald Eagle, but I chickened out. Somewhere in Water Works Park I caught up to the 1:50 pacing group, and then I passed them. I kind of wondered what I was doing, passing them like that, but I just felt like I needed to keep my pace up, and my pace was faster than theirs. Going into the Gray's Lake loop, I felt good, but my hamstrings were starting to feel a bit tight. I knew I just had about 3 miles left, though, so I knew I'd be ok. As I hit the 10 mile mark, though, right at about 1:23, I did the mental math and knew that 3 more miles at 8 minutes per mile meant another 24 minutes, which would put me at 1:47, and there actually was another tenth of a mile since a halfvmarathon is 13.1 miles. So then I felt a little nervous that I wouldn't make my goal, and I wondered if the 1:50 pacing group would finish in 1:50 if I was ahead of them. The last 1.1 miles felt really long, but I ended up finishing in 1:46:02, and I was very happy with that.

After crossing the finish line, I stuck to the plan Sandy and I had made, which was for me to wait on the right-hand side of the finishing area just past the finish line. I stood there for a minute or two and then decided that I didn't think she was immediately behind me, so I figured that if I went and got a quick snack and came right back, I'd be fine. So I did that. I came back and crouched low because it was windy and I was cold. After 10 minutes or so, I moved to the left-hand side of the finishing area because the sun was shining, and I watched like a hawk for Sandy to come through. Pretty soon the 2 hour pacer came through. I thought it was a little weird I hadn't seen Sandy yet, but figured she'd be there any minute. Then the 2:10 pacer came through, and I thought, "Hmm, that's weird. I haven't seen her yet." Then the 2:20 pacer came through, and I started to think, "Did Sandy get hurt? Is she just having a bad race? Where is she?" Then the 2:30 pacer came through, and I thought, "I have been waiting for 45 minutes. This is not right. Oh my gosh, where is my sister?!" So then I checked the medic tent, but she wasn't there. Our back-up plan for the Twin Cities race was to meet at the family meeting area by the letter Z, so I decided to do that here, too, even though we hadn't discussed it. Well, the brilliant race organizers had spots for each letter of the alphabet up to U, but then they just stopped. So there was no Z, and no Sandy. At this point I was imagining Sandy injured on the course, and I couldn't remember ever seeing a medic tent or anything along the course, so I worried that she was alone on the course and hurt, and I was feeling terribly guilty for leaving her behind. I ran into my friend Sara's husband and started talking to him and mentioned how I couldn't find my sister. As soon as I opened my mouth to talk, I thought, "Oh my gosh, I am about to cry. I better shut up." So I quickly left Matt to search more for Sandy. (It turns out I didn't hide my emotion very well, as Matt's wife Sara called later to check on me; Matt had told her I seemed upset and about to cry. There go my hopes of an Academy Award.) At this point, though, the fastest marathoners were finishing and the people who had walked the whole half marathon were finishing, so I knew Sandy had to be done. I wiped the tears from my eyes (thank goodness I had on sunglasses!) and asked a guy at the medic tent if he knew of a pay phone anywhere. He didn't, but then he offered for me to use his cellphone, which I was so thankful to do. I called Mike and asked if he'd heard from Sandy, and he said that yes, she had called an hour ago and was on the stage by the letters. We quickly hung up and I ran to the stage/amphitheater area. There was nobody in the middle of the stage, so I figured if I walked out there Sandy would see me if I didn't see her first. I think we saw each other at the same time, and I tell you, it was a made-for-T.V. movie scene. We ran to each other and embraced, and I cried, saying, "I was so worried about you! I didn't know where you were! I'm so sorry!" I am not that emotional of a person, but there were definitely tears of relief and joy over finally finding Sandy and knowing she wasn't hurt or lost. It turned out she finished in 1:55, so we probably missed each other while I was off getting food, NOT following the plan of staying on the right-hand side of the finishing area.

Later we reenacted our reunion for a photo op, but Will was too slow with the camera and missed the reenactment. Instead he got this funny one of us giggling at our own reenactment.

Once we got home, I had time for a quick shower and sandwich and then Mike, Zach, and I headed out the door for Zach's last flag football game. Zach was ever so focused on the task at hand (unlike in his soccer game the day before, when he was quite distracted). There was much

blocking (Zach is in the yellow and black),

blocking after the play was dead,

flag grabbing,

more flag grabbing,


and scoring touchdowns!

Here's Zach and his friend Caleb, whom I take to/from preschool every day, posing for a picture. They're only about 4 months apart in age, but many inches apart in height!

And here are Zach and Mike after the game.

Ross is Caleb's dad and the head coach of the football team. Ross and Mike graduated from Wartburg together, and Ross's wife Kristin and I graduated from Wartburg together, so it's a lot of fun to have our sons playing football and going to preschool together. Mike and Ross were on the championship IM football team at Wartburg, so I like to call this picture the past and future of IM football at Wartburg College.

After Zach's football game, the boys took naps (well, Anders didn't seem too interested in napping, unfortunately for Sandy and Will, though Anders never really was in a bad mood; he's a very easygoing kid), and Sandy and Will packed up the car. After a tasty dinner at Cheesecake Factory, we said goodbye to Sandy, Will, and Anders, and they headed south to the train station to head to Denver. Drew was insistent on giving Anders a hug, which was pretty sweet. And once we were in the car, Zach did the same thing he did when we dropped off Becky and Cam at the airport back in August- he bawled. He said he was so sad to have Aunt Sandy, Uncle Will, and Anders leave. I said, "It's hard to say goodbye, isn't it?" and Zach's response was, "It's too hard!" with more bawling. Then Zach said that when he visits people who live far away, he hates to leave them. I tried to make it better by telling Zach that in just a couple of weeks we'd be visiting Aunt Becky, Uncle Tom, Cam, his new cousin Myles, and Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Dick in Colorado. Through his tears, he said, "And while we're there, can we go to Minnesota?" It breaks my heart to have Zach so upset when we leave my family, but at the same time, it's so sweet.

It was a busy weekend, but a great one. Thanks, Sandy, Will, and Anders, for coming to visit. And thanks, Sandy, for doing the half marathon with me! Great job! Sorry about the debacle at the end of the race!