Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Red Wagons Ho!

Our family had a great Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve at Heather's parents' house, Christmas day at our house with just our crew, and the day after Christmas with my parents at our house.

My Mom had asked my what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted a wagon. I told her Heather wanted a wagon too. My Mom said that wasn't really for us; it was for the kids. I stuck to my guns. I wanted a wagon. She spared me the part where I sit around in a nice new sweater woven by Scottish virgins from the wool of grass-fed sheep while wishing I had two kick ass wagons for the kids.

Yee damn haw. Wagons! We loaded up the wagons and went to Aldridge Gardens Sunday morning.

It was just over 40 degrees, so we gave the kids lots of layers and put fur boots on the girls. They had a hard time standing up.

My dad spent most of his time picking up fallen turtle kids.

He spends a good bit of his waking hours devising ways to limit his physical exertion with things like electric fishing reels, so he's probably at home right now working on the preliminary drawings for life size Weeble Wobble outfits.

I guess I could have helped, but I was having fun watching.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cat Watch - Day 16

Francesca is still here. No news is good news. She spends her days outside, and on nights that are either cold or rainy she comes inside after the kids go to bed. Almost every night of the last two weeks has been cold and/or rainy. She is sort of an indoor/outdoor cat for now. When it gets warmer, I think she can handle being outside almost every night. Maybe the lure of being able to come inside during harsh weather will keep her close to home.

That looks like a mugshot, but it's not. She just happened to sitting against the wall tonight. She would not turn to the right. Cat's are stubborn animals.

Francesca has a friend now. Heather calls it an alley cat. Brooke calls it a bristley cat. I don't know what it is other than a really furry tan cat whose tail looks like a bottle brush. It's always around our house now and has slipped into our garage a few times. It has a collar, so I assume it has a home or once did. The hobo cat now enjoys the cat buffet on our screen porch. I'm glad Francesca is making friends with the other neighborhood kitties though.

I'll try to get a mugshot of the hobo cat for future updates of Cat Watch 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cat Watch - Day 2

The cat came home. She was gone for 40 hours; it seemed like longer than that. She left Sunday afternoon. This morning Heather saw her on the back porch and started yelling. Gary! Oh my God! Gary! Gary!

I came running into the kitchen not knowing what in the hale was going on. I half way expected to find three kids sleeping at the bottom of the stairs. I was relieved to find that the screaming was a good scream and that our kitty came home.

Francesca spent all day today hanging around the house. When I drove up in the driveway tonight, she was sitting in front of the house in perfect yard cat form.

Tonight, the low is 35 degrees though, which may not be super cold for all cats, but I think it's too cold for a cat with no winter fur who is used to a steady 68 degrees. Tonight, after the kids went to bed, I unlocked the cat door that goes from the the kitchen nook to the screen porch and let Francesca in. That cat is beside herself to have house privileges.

She will be an indoor-outdoor cat tonight with access through the cat door to the porch and access to the great wide open through the open screen porch door. I just hope a herd of chipmunks don't storm the house through the series of open doors we left for the cat.

I'm happy to know that I didn't send the cat off to her death. I still wonder where she was. Maybe she was lost. Maybe she really was giving me the cold shoulder like commenters to "Day 1" said. I think it's a Christmas miracle.

God bless us, every one.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cat Watch - Day 1

We have a cat. I don't mention the cat much because we have three kids who occupy most of our time. And she's a cat. Cat's don't do much. Actually, it isn't even my cat. It's Heather's cat. It came into our marriage with her. It's almost a cat-in-law to me.

I'm allergic to cats, by the way. The cat was so important to Heather that she had me take weekly allergy shots for two and a half years so I could live in the same apartment as that cat. Then I made friends with the cat and sort of took over the cat care responsibilities. By cat care, I mean cleaning up cat puke and changing litter boxes. It may as well be my cat now - or at least our cat.

We have a problem with the cat, though. She is violent. This wasn't a big deal until we had kids. It was pretty humorous actually. It's funny to have a new person in the house and warn them that the cat is violent, only to see the person be mauled while yelling "animals love me," "cats love me," "help me," etc. etc. This one does not like you. She doesn't like anyone.

You wouldn't know she was a brutal beast from the Christmas card pictures above. We have dressed the cat as a child for our Christmas card pictures every year. It's the kind of joke that's funnier when people don't know you're kidding.

We were skeptical that Francesca would be able to handle the kids and continue to be a house cat. We were pleasantly surprised to see that she would let the kids pull on her fur and ears and not try to kill them. She even made the first family Christmas card picture, sans Mom and Dad, last year.

The whole family: Piper, Henry, Rosemary and Francesca.

I guess there was a point in the kids' development where they got big and fast enough to really do some damage to the cat. Least week the cat stuck back, putting a couple scratches on Piper's arm. It was in self defense, for sure, but that still doesn't fly. Kids are going to pull on an animal. The animal can either take it or it can't be around the kids. That's pretty simple.

We thought the cat fighting back might be a fluke, so we gave her a second chance. Then, this past Saturday, Francesca got so mad at the kids I was sure injury was imminent. Francesca was hissing and swatting and her hair was falling out. It was bad for everyone involved.

I decided, with Heather's consent, that it was time for Francesca to experience the great outdoors. The few times she's made a break for the yard, she's really liked it. I figured it would be a slow transition, where she would spend most of her time on our screen porch and then venture off little by little though the open screen door into the yard.

I went to the pet store yesterday and bought Francesca a nice outdoor bed for the porch and a red break-away collar in case she got stuck on something. I put on her collar, with our name and phone number on the tag and set her free.

She was on the back porch for about an hour and then she disappeared.

Ten freaking years that cat was with us and she just took off. I hope she took off anyway. Heather and I were talking last night about how we hoped she was OK. Heather was glad she had a new collar and it had our contact information on it. I just kept on asking, where the hell is that cat. Seriously, where is the cat? We live in a neighborhood. It's just houses in every direction and they're all the same. It isn't like she found a better house. This one has food, water, and a cat bed on the porch. She's lived here for almost seven years. I don't get it.

This morning I went looking for her around the house and found her collar hanging on a hydrangea. Sooooo . . . she is collarless and missing.

I can't very well make a sign to get the cat back just so I can put her in the yard again. She can't come back in the house and attach herself to one of the kids' faces. Maybe she'll come back. I hope she's OK.

On top of feeling like jerk for causing my little buddy to suffer from his procedure, I may be a cat executioner. I really want her to come back and be a yard cat. Maybe she didn't understand my intentions.

Here kitty. Come home. Sorry about that thing where I put you in the yard after ten years of being a house cat.

If you see a gray cat in a J.Crew sweater, drop me a line.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Little Buddy's Little Buddy

I don't know which one of us is more traumatized, Henry who was circumcised today at the ripe old age of 17 months, or me, who is responsible for my little man's trauma.

The NICU where Henry spent the first month or so of his life doesn't circumcise babies, so we were left to fend for ourselves in the boy parts department. After Henry was discharged our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric urologist for a consult. I talked to the doctor and did my own research, as Heather has put all things related to boy parts under my responsibility. I determined that an uncircumcised penis is about as common in Alabama as a blizzard. We have snow, but people freak out when they see it. I didn't want my son's penis to receive the same reaction.

We went to the urologist the first time when Henry was really little, probably right around his due date. His little fella wasn't ready to be worked on yet because the skin was not fully attached. That problem resolved itself, but by the time he was ready, he had to have general anesthesia. To do general anesthesia on an outpatient basis we had to wait until Henry was a year old. So we waited.

When the surgery was scheduled the first time, Henry got his first and only diaper rash, which turned into a strep infection. Our next available appointment was today.

Here is our little guy getting ready for the procedure.

He is pleasantly oblivious despite being: up at 5:00 a.m.; alone without his sisters; and dressed in a hospital gown at a hospital.

The procedure went as planned and I feel comfortable that we had a skilled craftsman at the helm. Our doctor fixes a lot of botched circumcisions. That, at least, would indicate that he knows how it could go wrong. He also did Rosemary's hernia repair, which went well - with no scars.

Henry after the procedure.

Happy, given the circumstances, and high. Very high, actually. We now know that Henry purses his lips when intoxicated. That may come in handy in 16 years if he still does it.

We've kept Henry on lortab since he got home, so he's been comfortable for the most part. My trauma came when we changed his diaper for the first time. The sight was horrifying. I haven't eaten since then, about 11 hours ago. I really don't know if I will. Like ever. I'm just sick to my stomach. As soon as we saw it, I called the nurse and described what we saw. The nurse said that was normal and agreed that it usually looks pretty bad afterward. If I had known what it would look like, I don't know if I could have gone through with it even though I had convinced myself we were doing what was best for him. I really feel horrible and now I'm second guessing myself.

My guilt is going to translate into a whole lot of baby spoiling this weekend. Hopefully my little buddy will feel better and look better soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rosemary Busts a Move

People don’t say “bust a move” anymore do they? That sounds like something a parent-chaperone at a middle school dance would say. In any case, I like to bust a move on occasion. Mostly when I’m alone with the kids. The kids partake in the move busting as well.

Heather recently had a few evenings away from home with work stuff and getting her hair cut (when the kids ate fireplace rocks), so I’ve had plenty of dancing opportunities. When I don't have my iPod or CDs handy, I play the XM stations that come with our satellite TV service. The best XM choices for a dance session are: Hip Hop Nation (which is too dirty), Kids Place (featuring painful songs in which kids are excited about nothing), Radio Disney (good for kids, but not great for dancing), Soul Town (good for dancing) and Backspin / Old School Rap (really good for dancing and not overtly dirty like newer hip hop).

The girls have always liked rap, especially Rosemary. Even when Rosemary was a little baby, she liked to listen to Ludacris in my car. I know Ludacris is not ideal baby music, but when faced with the option of a Fisher Price CD and a crying baby or a Ludacris CD and a happy baby, I went with the happy baby and Luda. It’s no surprise that Rosemary now stops whatever she’s doing and dances as soon as she hears anything remotely hip hop on TV or the radio.

Here are the girls, Rosemary in particular, digging on the Old School Rap station during our pre-dinner ho-down. Piper is in Pink and Rosemary is in light blue.

Getty up, girl. That move will make a real impression at the office Christmas party one day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Henry Has Mad Skills

When the kids were first sitting up, I noticed that we didn't have any balls in the house of an acceptable size for a baby. Babies need balls. That's Baby Raising 101.

I went to the sporting goods store and bought three tike size soccer balls: red for Henry and pink ones for Piper and Rosemary. We rolled the balls, when the kids got bigger we carried the balls, and we always take them outside with us. Mostly, I dribble the balls around while watching the kids, but the kids play with them some. Piper has kicked them a little. Rosemary not so much. Henry mainly carries the balls and tries to eat them.

Yesterday, the weather was pretty decent and we wanted to get outside. We were still gun-shy from the Thanksgiving trip, so we didn't want to drive a long way in the car. We decided to just go over to our neighborhood soccer fields and let the kids run loose. Of course, we took the balls.

I kicked the balls around with the kids, and then we put the kids out in the middle with some balls. First, Henry picked up the ball and walked around with it like he always does.

Then he just started dribbling it.

Heather tried to get me to grab the video camera, but I was just watching. While I was looking on, Heather got a good sequence of shots. For some reason, it didn't seem like that big of a deal that my 17 month old kid was controlling a soccer ball 2 months after he started walking. After I had a chance to process what I saw, it did seem pretty cool.

Maybe it was random kid behavior. He did it again after those shots, but for just a few kicks at a time. It could be that he is dribbling well just because he can't kick it out of his control yet. We'll see. I can still hope that the appearance of aptitude at 17 months will translate into skills in the 2012 Under 4 Tikes League - not that I'm counting.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Trip

Yesterday, we took a trip to my folks' house in Pensacola for Thanksgiving dinner. Before that, the furthest we had been from home is two hours to Heather's parents' house. We've made that trip a few times, and it's been fine.

My parents live about four hours from us. I figured it would be a little harder, but the kids are pretty laid back, so I didn't think it would be that bad. I was mistaken. We left home after an early lunch, and at the two hour mark the kids woke up and flipped out. They didn't stop for the rest of the ride. If they would have started yelling before the half-way mark, I think we may have been eating take-out turkey from the Cracker Barrel at home.

We braved the storm of rage and made it to Pensacola to have some quality time with my parents and my sister's family. Then dinner and off to our hotel. My parents had a house full with my sisters' family, and I like my own space.

The space I chose on this trip was the Residence Inn. I picked it because it had a kitchen if we needed it and it was a suite. The other option close to my parents was the Crowne Plaza, which I think is nicer, but it's just one room. What I didn't know when I made our reservation is that Heather would want to put the kids in the bedroom with us, and because the Residence Inn has to cram in a kitchen and a living room, the bedroom was really small. That information would have come in handy when we passed up the other hotel for a suite.

Once you put three of these little tents around a bed in a smallish hotel room, it doesn't leave a lot of space.

The pea-pod tents are new adds to the baby gear portfolio. The good part about them is that they pack up to the size of a small pillow - including the little self-inflating mattress. The bad part is that when you put a toddler in there for the first time, they don't know they are in a cute little tent called a "pea-pod," and think they're in a cage. It took a little time to warm up to the tents, but once they settled in, the kids slept fine.

I slept horribly. Those kids are loud. I don't know how they sleep with each other. At home, they have a volume knob through the baby monitor. I should have argued the "put the kids in the other room" point a little bit. I was just worn down; I would have agreed to just about anything last night.

After we woke up this morning, we headed to the beach so the kids could see it for the first time. (Heather took some pictures). The weather was perfect for it. After the beach, we hit my parents' house again and then ate at McGuire's Irish Pub on the way out of town.

McGuire's has always been one of my favorite places to eat back home. It's pretty touristy, but I think I've been gone from Pensacola long enough to fall into that category anyway.

The poor light in the restaurant makes for poor quality pictures, but it's good for hiding the mess we can leave behind.

The drive back today was pretty much the same as the drive down. The first two hours were fine; then they let us have it. At least the group freak-outs are rare enough that we aren't used to them. We are very fortunate in that. We have easy kids - just as long as they aren't in a car seat for over 120 minutes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Big Girl Seat and a New Do

After seeing Rosemary in her infant seat last week while Piper and Henry were enjoying big kid seats, I broke out the instruction manual on the big seat to see how to install it rear-facing for Rosemary. It was really easy. Now I feel like a crappy dad for not thinking of that in the first place.

Rosemary was loving her big kid seat on the way up to Heather's parents' house for Cousin Laramy's baptism.

This weekend, I also tried to fix Henry's hair to make him look less like Monster Tweety Bird. It's been a while since I used anything on my hair/head, but I found a jar of pomade in the back of my bathroom drawer. I figure if it's going to stick up, it should stick up right.

I gave him a fauxhawk for our Sunday afternoon walk. I would have taken a better pre-walk photo, but Piper was encouraging me to get the stroller moving.

I got a half-way decent mid-walk picture before it started getting dark.

. . . and some upside down pictures of the other ones:

I like Henry's look, but I think I need some product that isn't goopy wax. My hair was short when I used the pomade and Henry's is longer and very fine. It was really hard to wash out and it looks a little too wet. I need to find out what product all the cool toddlers are using and get some for my little man.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Weekend in Pictures

I haven’t updated the blog in over a week. Maybe it’s because I got used to updating it only when someone was injured. Maybe it’s because I’ve been especially busy with work at night during my “TV / play on the computer time.” Equally as likely, it’s because the kids have been running us ragged.

This time last year we keep the kids on lockdown so they didn’t get RSV or some other respiratory illness. Last year it was easy to keep the babies cooped up when they didn’t know what was out there in the real world. Up until this past spring, they had only been at the hospital, the doctor’s office, and church, once, to get baptized. Now they know there’s a real world out there and they don’t care too much for not seeing it on a regular basis. We’ve decided to be as safe as we can, but still get out of the house. We've been busy keeping the kids busy.

Last weekend, I took a bunch of pictures of our outings, but didn't get a chance to upload them or put them in any sort of context. Now I have a ton of pictures. So this is the nearly context-free (belated) weekend in pictures:

Our pediatrician got in 100 doses of preservative free H1N1 last Thursday, so we reserved our three doses and hit the doctor first thing Friday morning.

Here are Piper and Henry in their new big kid cow print seats on the way to the doctor.

And Sweet Little Rosemary still in her infant seat.

Poor little Rosemary. I'm going to put a rear-facing big girl seat in for her, so at least she'll have a nice comfy seat until she weighs enough to go forward facing when she's 14.

. . . and the kids tearing apart the waiting room while waiting for the shot:

Fortunately, we didn't pick up swine flu waiting to get the shots to prevent swine flu.

On the way home from the doctor, we remembered that we needed milk for the day. Neither Heather nor I wanted to go home, then go to the store, bring back the milk, and then go to work. So we just took the kids the new Super Target for some milk. That place is so Super, they even have a cart built for three little kids.

In addition to being out of milk, we were dangerously low on glow worms.

Here's Henry riding in the cart:

Henry looks like a little kid, as opposed to a big baby, riding in the cart. He gives these little boy expressions too. My little buddy's growing up.

His large head and irregular hair growth look a bit odd. It makes him look a little like Tweety Bird in the episode where Tweety drank the Mr. Hyde juice that turned him into a monster.

But way way cuter than monster Tweety, in my opinion. I think Henry needs a little trim and some Rogaine. That would put him back to regular Tweety.

We hit Aldridge Gardens for some fresh air and sun on Saturday morning, followed by my favorite burger place, Baha Burger.

The kids loved the burgers and sweet potato fries. Rosemary even grabbed a to-go sweet potato fry for the road.

After Baha, we napped, watched football, and then had some friends over Saturday night.

Sunday we did a Costco run in the morning.

The most well behaved kid got to ride inside the cart, which turned out to be none of them. We just rotated kids who couldn't stay sitting.

We capped off the weekend with a pictureless walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon - followed by an evening of work on Sunday. Woo-hoo.

Time to do it all over again.