Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Frankenstorm, Day 2 / Halloween

Frankenstorm blew its hardest, and there were times when I was confident the neighbor's treehouse would free itself from the tree, but in the end, we were left unscathed. The power never went out (thankfully!). Neighbors a few blocks away lost their power, and hadn't regained it as of around noon today, but it seems to be a relatively small patch of homes. There was one classroom at Connor's school deemed unusable for the day due to the hurricane, but Connor didn't know what damage there actually was to the room.

Halloween evening was warm enough for the kids to enjoy trick-or-treating, and though they went their separate ways this year, both had fun.

Connor has been reading the Diary of  Wimpy Kid series, which gave him a few good ideas for Halloween. First, he was insistent on going with a friend this year, rather than Helen. He decided that Helen slowed him down, and he wanted to cover a lot of ground this year. I think he forgot that typically he turns in before Helen does. Second, he encouraged Ed to throw a trashcan full of water on teenaged trick-or-treaters (Ed declined), and third, he was going to use toilet paper to wrap himself as a mummy. I upgraded him to cotton and latex free gauze, held together with latex free tape. Connor was not allergic to his Halloween costume, which was a bit of a victory, and it did not degrade as he was wearing it.

Helen's friend invited us over for dinner, a neighborhood bonfire, and trick-or-treating, so Helen went trick-or-treating with G. for a little while, and then finished her evening with a walk down our street. For treat tonight, she insisted on a pumpkin cookie from Grandma Carlene (they arrived today, thank you!) and a chocolate bar.

Both had quite a pile of loot. And if this year is anything like last year, I'll be tossing some of it out next Halloween. As much fun as a giant bowl of candy seems each year, it never quite gets consumed. In part, this is because Connor picks the crappiest candy available (Skittles, Starburst, think fruity and chewy and not chocolate). If he picked better candy, I'd eat a lot of it.

Helen wanted to be a ghost for Halloween, and we had discussed making the costume essentially the same as last year's pumpkin costume, but with a white fleece blanket instead of an orange one. Unfortunately, the hurricane disrupted my planned fabric store run, so I needed to make do with things at home. I actually like how it turned out, but it wasn't what Helen wanted. She did agree to have her photo taken just so I could see it on her. She didn't wear it anywhere.

I loved how the silk floated so easily, and with a little wind and movement, I think it would have been magical.

This morning, after deciding the ghost outfit was not what she wanted, she turned to the dress-up box and pulled out the cape I made Connor for his "hobgoblin" outfit from a few years ago, added a gold paper birthday crown, and picked up a sword. She declared herself Saint Michael and she was off to slay the dragons. But by this evening, she had decided on another costume.

In perhaps the greatest irony of all time, Helen opted to dress as Nicole, the little girl in the book "Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon".

I'm not making this up. The girl wears full-on dress-up clothes to non dress-up events regularly, but wears completely normal clothes on Halloween. I love her. Adults were awesome tonight as she explained to them that she was Nicole! From Herb the Vegetarian Dragon! They would nod as if they understood and tell her to take an extra piece of candy. It's hard to resist that smile.

Happy Halloween, everyone! And hope your power is on soon, if it isn't already.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm, Day 1

We survived Day 1 of Frankenstorm. Our lights flickered regularly, but so far, they're hanging tough. Thank you, to whomever trimmed trees or made offerings to the utility goddesses to keep things working in the neighborhood. I sincerely appreciate it. If the neighbor's treehouse stays put through the storm, it will be a miracle. We had a small debate about whether the driveway (which is close to the treehouse) or the street (which seems vulnerable to random debris) was the best place to park the car. We chose driveway. Hope that works out.

Because our home is near a hospital and allegedly shares power lines with that hospital, the power in our neighborhood rarely goes out. And when it does, it tends to get restored quickly. That's somewhat comforting, except when there's a hurricane outside? It doesn't matter what power comes back online first, because nobody's power is being fixed until the winds die down. And also, we lost power for, the neighbor's claim, the first time in FOREVER during the Spring's derecho, and I'm feeling a little snake bitten still, so not so confident that we do, in fact, keep our power all the time.

A few neighbors came over to play Monopoly with Connor. He outlasted them all to claim victory. They played in the basement a bit and then after the other children were gone, Connor started another game with our babysitter (who lives with us - don't think I made someone came into work today!). After that, he said that he was tired of Monopoly. I hope he remembers this feeling and Monopoly will quietly slip into a thing of the past. That would be a true blessing delivered by the storm.

One of Connor's friends peeled off the game rather early and went to play babies with Helen. Talk about heaven! Helen even lined up a playdate with her the next day, and another parent is taking the boys for more board games tomorrow. Woot!

Ed carved finished carving our pumpkin with Helen and Connor, we both got some work done, and we finished off the night with a game of Yahtzee, some crafting, and bananas foster.

If the storm brings the zombie apocalypse, my mummy is totally ready.


Chip Off the Ol' Block

Today, Helen opted to take her "quiet time" in the basement. I presumed this meant she would be even more active than usual, tending to her babies and making sure they were well rested. Instead, she did her best impersonation of her Grandpa Rodney.

Ed went downstairs and found this:

Chip off the old block, eh Grandpa Rodney?


Friday, October 26, 2012

Update on Connor

This morning's x-ray revealed that Connor has started to produce new bone. That is an extremely good thing. Unfortunately, there was a small amount of unfavorable shifting from the last appointment, so the process of the bone magically lining itself up has not yet started. I am not supposed to worry about this yet. The surgeon was happy enough with Connor's progress that we don't have to go back to see him for two weeks, at which point he will be able to tell us when the pins will come out. Connor has not needed Benadryl for a few days, so perhaps we are beyond that phase.

I still panic every time Connor is on an uneven surface or it looks like he's not paying attention to where he's going (something that is surprisingly common). He made it through the school Halloween party and parade today. I considered that a huge accomplishment.

Connor has decided there are a few upsides to having a broken arm. For one, he got a two week reprieve from school. And even though he said he was happy to be back, he definitely enjoyed staying home as well. Also, he's received lots of get well cards and several gifts which he has enjoyed. His class sent him a bunch of balloons which was really sweet. His friend, N, lifts his chair up onto his desk for him at the end of each school day, which Connor appreciates.

He's also learning how to throw a frisbee!


{this moment}

From SouleMama: {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Share your own moment in the comments or at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Holiday Card Time!

I've been working on being more organized, lately. The problem is, that becoming more organized has an immediate cost - my time, with hopefully a long-term pay-off. My plan has been to go through small spaces in my home, declutter them, and then try and maintain them in their new state of declutter.

In doing this project, I have come across 7 years worth of calendars I have sent my parents and in-laws for Christmas. I love these calendars. Sadly, they take a fair amount of time to put together which brought me to my latest task - organizing the photos from the current year, so that I could put them in some sort of order for the annual calendar. This organization is particularly annoying since I don't even have a nice, clean space I can admire when I walk through it.

But alas...if I don't start soon, I won't finish the task.

And, so long as I'm putting the photos in order, I might as well be a rock star and order my Photo Christmas Cards right now! Of course, I'm not nearly as organized as Helen's friend's mom, who sent me an email indicating she was busy making her cards the night before, and her son wanted to send one to Helen, so we may be getting an early Christmas card this year.

As always, I'm choosing a card that holds lots of photos, which surely makes up for my lack of sending photos regularly to the grandparents, right? I know, not really, but I like to pretend.

This year, our card is going to rival this one:

There are loads of special offers right now. Go grab one!


Disclosure: Shutterfly sent me an email reminding me about holiday cards, which inspired this post, and led to me making a mighty effort to get my cards out on time this year. In exchange for encouraging you to get your cards, they're buying some for me. Unfortunately, they are not also addressing them for me, so we all wait in suspense to see whether cards arrive on-time or late. Stay tuned. I've used this company on my own dime multiple times.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Helen! 5!

Dear Helen,

It seems that every year, your birthday gets overshadowed by other events. I'm sorry to say, this year was no exception. For starters, in the week preceding your birthday, your brother broke his arm, your brother had surgery to repair that arm, the Nats were in the play-offs, and your school had its annual Fall Festival. All of these things took up lots of air space in this household. Luckily, you're very loud, and we adore you, so even though we were busy - we did have a great celebration.

Four was a year of obstinance. There were feet stamped, lower lips stuck out, and occasionally even tears. You fell in love with dozens of people, and dozens of people fell in love with you. You developed a sense of style that you fully own. It is clearly meant to attract attention, and you relish in it. You remain a sense of tremendous joy for so many people - most of all, me.

The drama - oh - the drama! I don't think your dad will ever get over the doctor's appointment he took you to yesterday. Apparently, you can scream louder than anyone else in the office, you were willing to duck under a chair to avoid being seen by the doctor, and ultimately, he had to hold you down to get your immunizations. But don't worry. You still claimed victory. You refused the flu shot and nobody was going to tangle with you for this optional one after the mandatory ones had been completed. You were, by the way, proud of the fight you put up.

You don't tend to walk many places, but you do skip and run an awful lot.

You rarely, if ever, shut up when you are awake.

You took dance lessons and though your Grandma Carlene would love to see you continue, 5 looks to be a year of leaving those lessons behind. You'd prefer to learn how to cartwheel and run around more. In a few weeks, you start gymnastics. You are adamant that this is the correct choice.

You learned to dive off the diving board, took a ride on Space Mountain and generally declared that this was the year you would be Connor's equal in everything he attempted.

You found a best friend, and I adore him.

You also gave up your nap! For five full years, you rested reliably nearly every day. Now, you've graduated to "quiet time" which might as well be called "uninterrupted play with babies" since you spend most of the time rocking your various babies and putting them to sleep in you bed or a basket you've brought up to your room as you carefully watch over the brood.

A few days ago, you purchased a wooden flute at a Colonial Fair. On the way home, you asked if you could play your flute during nap. You reasoned that it wasn't you making noise. You were just blowing air. It was the flute making the racket. Well played, Helen. Permission granted.

You embrace life. Life embraces you right back.

We love you, Helen. May your years be long and days be filled with joy.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Update on My Broken Connor

Since Connor fell from the zipline, I’ve spent a lot of time reliving that moment. Now that I know the outcome, the memories are worse than when it actually happened. When it was actually happening, I was pretty hopeful that this was just a scary fall that would knock the wind out of Connor but he’d be running around a few minutes later. Not so, as it turns out, not so.
The quick version of the story is:
1. Trip to ER to determine the break cannot be set, must be seen by orthopedic surgeon the next day. Arm bandaged for overnight. Attending physician jokes that Connor won't be released until the baseball games are over because he's enjoying Connor's frequent updates.
2. Second trip to ER because Connor broke out in hives covering most of the area the bandage touched, as well as skin near the bandage where Connor scratched. Diagnosis of being allergic to either the codeine he was given in the hospital earlier that night or the bandage. My money was on bandage. The ER physician's money was on codeine. The nurse humored me and unwrapped the bandage completely, wrapped Connor in cotton, and then put the bandage back on top of the cotton.
3. Visit with orthopedic surgeon the next day to learn the break was complete and the two pieces of bone were not touching. Surgery advised.
4. Wednesday - cleared to take Connor to Nats first home game in the post season. Game is so boring and depressing Connor falls asleep for part of it.
5. Thursday morning, surgery. Grateful that my parents were already en route to my home for a planned trip. Learn post-surgery Connor is allergic to everything that touches his skin. He was given Benadryl during surgery to control the hives. Surgeon decides Connor must be allergic to the ER bandage, not the codeine. Orders test dose of codeine. We wait. Connor does not react. Phew. We have a pain med we can give him.
6. Thursday afternoon - parents arrive. Amen. Pain meds start.
7. Friday night - go to baseball game and have heart broken as Nats lose in gut-wrenching fashion. End of a great season. Glad parents are around because they're the only people I would've left Connor with.
8. Tuesday night - Connor slips on linoleum floor and falls on his arm. My heart stops. Call to surgeon, more pain meds, reposition arm, thankfully the pain goes away before we have to take another trip to the ER - KNOCK ON WOOD! This is going to be a long 4.5 weeks.
9. Later Tuesday night, Connor comes downstairs with MORE HIVES. This is starting to kill me. Seriously. I need to just hook him up to a constant flow of Benadryl. I need to hook myself up to something, too.
10. Connor spends an hour watching the Yankees-Detroit game, doing play-by-play announcing and having a ball. Ed notes that the little guy is pretty fun to have around.
11. Bed for everyone. Please let tomorrow go smoothly. I'm not sure how much longer I can handle all this stress - and I'm not even the one with the broken arm!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parenting Fail - Broken Connor

I am, for all intents and purposes, a free-range parent. I let my children roam pretty freely, and follow the "if you can do it, you can do it". For the most part, it's worked out incredibly well. We have few injuries in this house, and both Connor and Helen tend to back off when something seems like a bad idea.

This afternoon, my neighbors set up a zip line in their backyard. It extended from their tree house to the top beam of their swing set. It's a good height off the ground for their oldest child, but it's too high up for Connor.

But a zip line is pretty irresistible - and I was happy for Connor to take part in the play. He wanted to do it and I figured he'd be fine.

Mounting the zip line was extremely precarious. The kids had to climb onto the ledge of the tree house (up high!) and then grab the zip line. On Connor's second try, he fell. I was across the yard, ready to take a picture and then catch him at the end. I ran to him, my neighbor was right there and started tending to him. Ed came running from our yard.

Ed took Connor inside and I stayed outside for a couple of moments. The neighbors felt absolutely awful. I didn't realize how bad it was, until I went inside to check on Connor and he was still crying.

Connor does not cry for drama, and for him to be crying for several minutes meant something was definitely wrong. It took no convincing Ed when I suggested going to the ER. Ed stayed back with Helen and Connor and I drove up the street to the hospital. There was little wait, and it was clear as Connor yelped in pain that something was terribly wrong.

X-rays showed a broken humerus - a couple of inches down from the shoulder. A cast is unlikely to do the trick. We have a consult with a pediatric orthopedist tomorrow, who will tell us what the options are. From the attending physician in the ER, it sounds like there will be surgery.

Of course, if I could go back in time, I would tell him it didn't seem safe. Connor would've understood in a minute. Unlike many children, he wouldn't have given me grief about waiting until the line had been made more safe. I know this. But I think he trusted that with three adults right there, he would be fine. He should've been fine.

Huge parenting fail on my part. I only hope it heals fast, though I'm expecting soccer season is over for him, and who knows if he'll be able to continue in the Lego magic after-school activity he's signed up for? He's deduced that he's done biking for a while, and he was extremely upset that the near-nightly games of baseball with Ed are likely over. Of course, with Fall here, we didn't have many nights with enough light anyway, but getting cheated out of the last of the daylight is just awful.

Fortuitously, my parents arrive on Thursday. I'm guessing they'll be bringing a lot of relief with them. start figuring out how to make the best of the next few weeks - or however long Connor has to deal with this mess.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saint Michael

As the days have grown shorter, Helen has definitely sensed the change of seasons. She's already started doing lantern walks around the neighborhood (a tradition in Waldorf schools) and this past week, she started reenacting the story of Saint Michael. Saint Michael's story is retold annually during Michaelmas, and this year appears to have been very meaningful to Helen.

Essentially, the story of Michael is about conquering your dragons in this season of darkness, thereby bringing light. The second graders in Helen's school perform the story as a play, and in this year's play, a rather quiet girl wields the sword. It appears that has been incredibly empowering for Helen.

For the past few days, Helen has been marching around with her wooden store, declaring that she will slay the dragon and calling out "I am Saint Michael!". She also dons a golden cape I made Connor a few years ago when he wanted to be a hobgoblin for Halloween. Oh how I love seeing that cape get an extended life.

Helen's baby, Flower, is posing for the camera here.
We all, of course, have dragons to slay. My personal dragon for this season is the numerous small spaces in my home that have become filled with clutter. I'm trying to go through one small space each evening in the hopes that my home will be closer to clutter-free at the end of Winter. Also, I'm resisting the urge to settle into the metro rather than ride my bike to work.

May we all find a way to slay our dragons this season!


Friday, October 5, 2012

{this moment}

From SouleMama: {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Share your own moment in the comments or at

Monday, October 1, 2012


A few weeks ago, I reported to my dad that Connor had started soccer. Without missing a beat, he told me I had finally become "a soccer mom". Indeed. It's all it's cracked up to be, I assure you. A friend of mine and I considered the merits of bringing mimosas, but as her husband is the coach, this seemed like poor form. So instead, I sink into the stereotype.

Judging from the scores, Connor's team is awful. Every game they have been in, they've had the league "mercy rule" imposed on them, sometimes by the end of the first quarter. This rule dictates that if one team scores at least 6 more points than the other, the losing team may invoke an extra player.

To be fair, once it's 5 on 4, the team can occasionally score, or at least keep the other team from racking up a ton of points. And the boys seem to be having fun, although last weekend, frustrations on the field started to become apparent. At one point, Connor fell to the ground and ripped some grass out of the field. I suppose I'm glad he took his frustrations out on an inanimate object.

At first, Connor was undecided about soccer. He thought soccer practice might interfere with his plans to become a professional baseball player. Ed assured him he could probably skip Fall ball with few consequences.

What Connor lacks in soccer skills, he makes up for in enthusiasm. The little dude runs onto the field excitedly, chomps oranges and apples like a champion eater during breaks, and he stands right beside his coach to let the coach know he's available to go in, should the need arise. What's more, he had a blast with a recent soccer playdate that looks like it will become a standing date in the near future.

One of Helen's classmates has a brother on Connor's team, which means she has her classmate and his younger sister to play with during games. Their mom reports she's never seen so much soccer. Helen loves having her classmate to herself on Saturday mornings, rather than having to share him with the rest of the class.

Me? I'm enjoying trying to photograph soccer, though I've learned my lens is inept for the job in many ways. A better lens will find me, I'm sure, and in the meantime, I'll keep clicking away because I'm having so much fun!