Monday, February 28, 2011

I. Hate. Suppertime.

The combination of tiredness, in the kids, in us, the amount to fit into a very short few hours, my dislike of cooking in general, the stress cooking gives me, the importance of that nutrition to be dealt with, it does me in.

Tonight was a full out disaster zone.

Troy was hit with a sudden almost migraine headache and had laid down for a bit, which was a little weird in itself. And then I'm not the world's best nurse by any stretch of the imagination. Troy may have done himself a bit of a disservice by being such a great daddy and husband, that I feel like I've lost an arm when he's down for the count.

But this evening I really tried to see if there was anything I could do to help him feel better; water, tried to facilitate quiet. Max was asleep and the other three were playing so nicely in the boys room, putting together a play for the rest of us. Since all was well I decided to take on some 'real' cooking for supper (as opposed to my usual two to three step meals, like fish with a lemon thrown in the oven and cut veggies), and started not just one, but two meals. I had ground turkey sitting in the fridge I had planned on using, so started a shepard's pie to eat this evening, a favorite with the kids, and a turkey veggie chili to freeze.

Just when I was committed, potatoes on, turkey browning in the pan, beans and diced tomatoes simmering in the pot, that's when it all went down.

First Max woke up. He's not feeling well today. A teething, drooly, cranky boy, his face is a rashy mess, and he has the same head cold the rest of us have, eyes and nose both running. He wasn't excited about sitting on the kitchen floor to play while I chopped veggies.

Then the big kids came down, excited to have me come up to watch their play. I might as well have in hindsight. But I declined regretfully, starting to wish I hadn't taken on this project, wishing I didn't have my hands full so their imaginative play I was so happy with could be rewarded with an audience.

Then they started to dig in the fridge and in the cupboards for something to eat. Which I shooed, telling them supper would only be half an hour. That never works.

The boys brought out a game to the table. Max was wailing on my hip by this time, as I tried to spread the now mashed potatoes onto the shepard's pie, I just had to get it in the oven! Claire was on the table, pissing the boys off by hoarding their game pieces. A tired Seth started to cry that Thane wasn't giving him a turn. Thane stomped off mad, leaving Seth and Claire to throw punches. While Max yelled on.

I soon woke up poor Troy, giving him Max to entertain so I could 'just cut up the veggies and get them in the chili'. Oh yeah, can you also break up the brawl at the table?

It was evident Claire, like Seth, was feeling her regular evening unreasonable exhaustion, as she demanded a banana and then promptly threw it on the floor. Only to loudly declare she must have another one.

Thankfully, supper was now served. All would be alright now right? This too shall pass, I chanted in my mind while taking deep breaths.

I sat down to feed Max his long awaited meal, only to watch Claire continue to bawl on her bench for no apparent reason at all (besides the obvious exhaustion), Seth refuse to try a meal he generally will at least try, and Thane declare he's not hungry, his throat hurts. This is his absolute, hands-down favorite meal. Troy is trying to eat and appreciate the meal, but is mostly sitting at the table with his head in hands, obviously in pain from the headache, not to mention all the noise. In the middle of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, Max can't settle in to nurse (no wonder really), and bites me. Exit Troy stage left, the noise has broken him, he has to go to bed.

Trying to figure out where to start, I put Claire to bed. At least that goes easily, as she collapses gratefully into her bed (apparently her day was a full one, battling a cold doesn`t help). At least now I can hear myself think. And nothing's being thrown.

By her or me.

I give up and give in, Thane and Seth get sandwiches and peppers sent in their direction, where I maybe should have began. Max and I rock and read a few books and point at the pictures, and then with clean jammies on he finally settles in to nurse, reading a little about Egyptians for Seth, a little Harry Potter for Thane.

Now, I sit. Alone. With some fine chili. It's a good thing it tastes good.

I may have never stepped foot in the kitchen again.

So maybe a bit of good will come out of this evening, here's the recipe for the chili we love so much. A recipe handed to us by Troy's mother, who got it from Weight Watchers I believe. I plan to replace the canned ingredients with fresh soon to up the whole food goodness even more, just haven't evolved there yet. If tonight was any indication, I'm not ready anyway.

It's delicious, wholesome and hearty, comforting, and healthy. I call it a mix between turkey vegetable soup and chili.

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Carolyn's Turkey Veggie Chili
1 lb. lean ground turkey
8 stalks of celery
4 lg peppers (any color, I use red, orange or yellow)
3 med. onions diced
2 cans mushrooms diced and rinsed
1 15 oz. can kidney beans rinsed
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 tbs. chili powder

It also says to add one can of tomato soup, salt and pepper, and 1 tbs. vinager, but I generally don't. I also don't use as much onion, and often have this six-bean medley on hand instead of the black beans. Maybe that's why I like this recipe, it's forgiving.

Brown your turkey, put everything in a large roaster, pot, or crock pot. Cook at 350 for two hours, bring to a boil and then simmer on med-low for a couple of hours, or slow cook all day, whatever works for you.

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Funny enough, my copy of Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair just came in the mail today. As excited as I am to peruse it, it's a bit ironic that it's my book of choice this evening. ;)

One Sunny Monday morning.

This morning I've already been back to the kids school to pick up my sick little kindergarden man. Apparently the sore throat that's been bothering him made him cry when he started coughing in storytime.

So now he's all snuggled in on the couch with his favorite pillow. It has armrests and a back with a handle on the top for carrying it around, and is very soft of course, Seth's main criteria. I had bought it thinking it would be useful for sitting up at night feeding Max, but I never did even try it out. Seth confiscated it the instant I brought it home, named it Sharky (a name I still don't understand), and has been carrying it around ever since. He liked it so much I didn't have the heart to reclaim it. So now he's all snuggled up with 'Sharky', a blankie, Blue's Clues popped in, and a bowl of oranges, reiterating that he's "Prince for a day, right mom?". Right babe.

Before I start to tackle a mountainous laundry folding session, I'm enjoying this coffee. The dining room is sunny, and the birds are loving the birdfeeder Thane made recently at Scouts, newly hung this weekend. I love that Troy hung it on the flagpole in direct view from the kitchen and dining room windows.  

Troy is also finishing his coffee, and prepping to continue destroying the playroom. Yep. It's in shambles.

We actually have enough projects on the go at the moment, with our new family sized entry closet half built and the entry, front living room, and den revamps in full swing (yay!) but realized our assessment date for the EcoEnergy grants is coming right up and that we still had these two exterior walls in the playroom that needed to be insulated. 

So now it is. 

I'm pretty sure I had a picture of this room when it actually looked like a playroom, but can't seem to find it at the moment. Here it is all cleaned out the other day, waiting to be gutted. The kids LOVED the empty space.   

This room is my favorite in the house, the most sunny and warm room, in the oldest part of the house, still sporting it's long narrow old hardwood that I love. It has such a soul. In the mornings when we're here alone, Claire and Max and I will hang out while I have a tea, them playing around me, sometimes with me, Claire serving Max and I her tea. I picture it evolving with us, being a family art space, my 'art studio' some day. Because of the great light in this room I think it would be the perfect space to create in, to draw, paint, sew. I want to eventually paint it Benjamen Moore's Vellum or Dijon, both yellow, a bit mustardy, but keep getting distracted by another yellow called Handmade, just because of the name!

But then... then we got thinking, actually my mom mentioned this idea and we started to chew on it. Wouldn't it be a great spot for a new bathroom?

We have one very small family bathroom, in an odd spot, just before the kitchen, not very close to the bedrooms. Very small, I'm talking 5' by 7'. And very outdated and worn out. It's defintely seen better days. I tacked one of the bathtub walls back up with a nail type of better days. I had said I would not move into this house before that bathroom was renovated, but I said a lot of things back when I had no idea. 

So Mom's idea, a good idea I think, was to take some space from this playroom (our third 'living room' space really) and build a new bathroom instead of renovating the one that we have. At first I balked at the idea, in fear of ruining my favorite space, but the plan kept playing in my brain. A bathroom we could actually move in AND have room to store our towels in? That would be a step in the right direction. It's the closest room to the bedrooms, making the run in a towel from bathroom to closet much less dodgey. And we would still have most of the playroom, with a little thought into the layout I'm sure we could be left with useable, beautiful space.   

Playing around with layout, the couch is our 'tub'. The toy bins and stool, walls!
The kids love the empty space, which is certainly food for thought.
And the extra space added to our kitchen when we take out the first bathroom? Oh, that's the seal on the deal. As one of my friends put it, with the kitchen larger it would be a true Maritime home.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The big bed.

Sometimes in the middle of a particularily busy house, full of drywall dust, plastic hung to block rooms off, furniture moved into the middle of rooms to make way for wallpaper removal or painting progress, it's nice to have one little calm, uncluttered space to land. Since we renovated our room last summer, that's Mommy and Daddy's bed.

Sometimes, it's tea, a book, and a snuggle. Sometimes, it's Max having a full-out belly laugh at Claire's antic of the moment or it's a nice chat with my big boys. Sometimes it's a jumping, bouncy dance party.

Sometimes (especially when Thane, Seth and Daddy are involved) it looks more like a wrestling match, seeing who can get knocked off the bed first, Claire joining in by grabbing onto someone's leg, Max watching the wild things with interest.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project Plans: Chaise Bench

This pretty little window seat is the perfect size and space for tiny preschool bodies to snuggle up with his or her blankie of choice and enjoy a cat-like bask in the sun. This piece came from Troy's mom, who got it from his sister, who inherited it from a roomate I think? It was on it's way to the garbage anyway when I nabbed it and made Troy fit it into our already jammed van to take back to NB. The things this man goes through in the name of my creative inspiration. I actually like the blue and soft feel of this fabric (the softness factor of fabric reigns supreme in our family scale of like or dislike, especially for Seth and I) and will probably replace it with much the same, it's just stained and a little squished, in need of an uplift. I'm also thinking this will be a much easier starter reupholstery project. As opposed to, say, a sofa.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project plans: Mrs. Sofa

I'm tired of talking about (ranting about?) health issues for now, as I'm sure you are tired of reading as well, so today we're on to much more fun topics.

Project plans!

As in project want-to's! (As opposed to to-do's or should-do's.)

I constantly have a running list of project plans on the back burner, and generally don't have enough time for everything. So I thought I'd start showing you the plans. Visualizing is key in making it happen!

This week, I thought I'd start by spending the week covering a few furniture pieces I have big plans for.

Starting with the biggest plan.

This old sofa is begging me to reupholster her. I say her, because this couch reminds me of a mom who is dressed so practically, and really wants a makeover to return to her glamourous self. For some reason I think I am up to this task, even though I have never reupholstered anything before, save a few seat covers. I just think that it has such great old bones, I love the woodwork on the front of the arms and the legs, the kids love how the sloped back creates the perfect tunnel between the sofa and a wall. I'm not sure when it got the funny corduroy that really doesn't seem to mesh with it's style, but I remember it being that way ever since I was little, when it was already the couch relegated to the playroom.

I already have this goldish-yellow fabric for it that should compliment the dark wood very nicely. I found on sale several years ago, bought something like 9 yards of in my excitement and lugged it from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick with us in our move. Or was it 19 yards? I had worked it out and it seemed like the right amount at the time. I'm pretty sure you have no idea how bulky and heavy that quantity of fabric is, it's a sizeable package. As you can imagine, Troy loves when I buy project supplies and stash them, because 'I'm going to do that project at some point'! The worst part is that now I keep thinking the fabric she really deserves is a large bold floral print. No?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A little cooperation please

Sooooo.... an update on the eczema trail.

If you're feeling I'm dwelling on a very minor issue, you may be right. I feel, compared to the hardships many people face, that this is a relatively small blip. But, as a physiotherapist once told me in regards to Seth's mild, mild cerebral palsy (comparable to most cerebral palsy conditions in name alone), that to me it is a big deal, because it's happening to my child and that makes it a big deal to me.

We took Max for allergy testing and discovered he's allergic to gluten, among other things. Upon beginning a gluten-free diet (me, not him, as he's still exclusively breastfed), HE SLEPT! And we slept, and life was grand.

Seriously, within two days of me eliminating gluten from my diet he was able to sleep as normal as babies do. He stills eats once or twice a night, but mostly just... sleeps. Without waking up kicking his legs with belly pains and diarrehea, without being awake for hours upset and obviously tired but in pain and unable to sleep, like we had dealt with for most of January. Even better, his rash has become 'manageable'. He has had little flare-ups and his cradle cap is being persistant, but even these are a thousand percent better than it has been. His chin is a bit of a mess, but I'm pretty sure the constant teething drool is the culprit. He has mostly clear skin, most of the time, and the cradle cap and rashes that we're dealing with now are so very much less severe than before.

I'm still frustrated with... our medical system? Our culture? Not being able to cure him? I'm not sure at what exactly to pinpoint my frustration, but this whole process is making me crazy. Medical doctors (the ones revered and pushed as go-to source for our health information), only give me drugs to soothe his symptoms while they poo-poo alternative medicine. Yes. I just said poo-poo. The alternative practioners (who I admittedly tend to trust and appreciate more since I don't see them as salespeople to drug companies), work diligently to help me find the cause of the problem rather than just bandaging the symptoms, but also work hard to scare me off using drugs for his symptoms.  

Can we just have both sides work together to help me take care of my family please!?!

I believe that our body is a complicated, intertwined design, and that the true implications of drug use are not really known. On anyone's body, let alone a very little developing baby body. But, I also believe we are lucky to have medicine and doctors knowledgeable in it available to us when we need it (although 'when we need it' is highly overdiagnosed in our culture). I'm not sure what poor Max would still be fighting without the steriod creams and course of antibiotics it has taken to get his body back to some kind of acceptable state where his immune system can cope and keep up the fight.

I also believe nutrition, and all the minut details that food entails, is the key to our health, and that it's a conversation mostly ignored in the average visit with our doctor. Of course what we put in our bodies affects, may I even say causes, the output our bodies give back. Why, over the course of many doctors visits with multiple doctors over two months, resulting in a hospitalization, antibiotics, and bottle after bottle of steroid creams, did no doctor suggest looking into food allergies? When a homeopathic visit (where we had the allergy testing done) brings it up first and foremost as accepted and obvious knowledge and helps us combat the problem very effectively in as short as two days?

May I repeat, can these two fields please work together? Please stop damning the other and help me help my family? 

I'm just a mom.

I'm just a mom, trying to sift through so much information in areas I've never even thought of before. I'm not a researcher, a biologist, a nutritionist, a medical doctor, or a naturopathic doctor. I know a bit about art. But I can see what's happening with my kids. And I'm a bit of a cerebral chick, attempting to piece together their little clues and all of the information I can get my hands on.

Max and I met with our family doctor this week, just a bit of a follow-up appointment so I feel like I have one common thread in this series of appointments. I do really like her. She patronizes me much less than most doctors, not judging or lecturing when I disagree. She was saying how much better he looks and listening to me list all the avenues we've been down to get here. How the gluten elimination has been key. How we discovered his allergies through computerized electro dermal screening with a homeopathic doctor. How we're now beginning allergy elimination treatments through a form of auricular acupuncture, a very non-invasive treatment done with a similar instrument as was used to test for allergies through acupuncture points in the ear. To which my doctor said "Great! If it works...", conveying quite clearly she thinks it is a hoax.  

Our naturopathic doctors lead us to a Vitamin B cream that works the best for his cradle cap, probiotic drops to boost both of our immune systems, discussing vitamins I should add, areas in which my own body may be low, why my adrenals and immune system may not be up to par that could have caused him to be born in the same state (I digress, but I'm pretty sure the stress of a move, a new job, extensive renovations, three kids and a new baby in a year might have something to do with my body being a bit run-down) and what we can do about it. Information and aid none of the medical doctors produced. Not to mention leading us to the most important discovery, that food allergies are at least the primary trigger of his eczema, and a path to treat allergies. All in a non-invasive, complication free, no risk of negative unknown longterm effects path. I really just don't think alternative medicine is a hoax.

On another note, I'm tired. I'm tired of hyperanalyzing and monitoring Max's skin and patterns. I'm tired of sounding like a crazy, strung out Mom who can't seem to string a conversation together that doesn't involve discussion of allergies, symptoms, and medical series of events. And probably poop. Poop always seems to make it's way into the conversation. I've caught myself daydreaming of Max being three, of that magical birthday where I'll wake up feeling the desire to shower, realizing I have hobbies and projects I enjoy, and a husband who wants to go for a run with me. Where diapers have no part in my day, my little people can all use words and spoons, and can put themselves in their own carseats and most likely even buckle up themselves. I vaguely remember that point happening briefly between Seth and Claire, and I'm holding onto it tightly.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Day.

A little mush for you on Love Day.

(Warning: If something about Feb. 14th makes you bitter, you may want to stop reading now!)

I love that hubby of mine. The homebody in him who would prefer to stay home with our little family than anything else in the world, the builder who supports my crazy ideas ("Let's buy a century old home and completely redo it!"), who stays up late to build me new closets, who lets me sleep in and even greets me with coffee, the chef in him who more often than not feeds me, the funnyman in him who cracks me up everyday, who I would prefer to hang out with more than anyone else, the protector in him who gets up at night when I hear a noise, the Daddy in him who gets up at night to tuck someone back in.

I love my littlest Valentines. Those two I get to spend my days with. Max, who's little hand pats my side reassuringly while he nurses, my little bedmate who is putting his little foot down on sleeping in his own crib. He laughs at me and wraps his little arms around my neck, pulling my hair and slobbering my cheek. Best kisses ever. My little girl Claire, the most expressive mime ever, the singer, the dancer, the climber, answering the tv shows in what Troy calls 'Korean-Gaelic'. She squeezes my cheeks and gives me kisses. When I gave her a Valentine this morning she raises her eyebrows and says, "Wow! Tank youuu!"

My bigger Valentines, those boys I love. Seth, my snuggle bunny, Mr. Charismatic the entertainer, my little boy quickly becoming a big boy, learning to read and write. Thane, my responsible oldest, my helper, the negotiator and definite Libra, ever conscious of what is just and fair, a funnyman in his own right, old enough now to be lost in Harry Potter, my big boy who sometimes still needs a mommy hug.

I love our parents. We are so lucky to have them support us and help us how they do, there for us always. Having loved us and raised us, even still we are their babies, worrying about our safety in bad weather, reminding us to take our vitamins. Loving our kids as much as we do, offering them undistracted playtime, infinite interest in what they have to say and what they are doing, sharing our joy in their triumphs, the ultimate cheerleaders in their growth and milestones.

I love that I get to be surrounded in so much love everyday. So many hugs and kisses and snuggles and laughs that I often take it for granted.

Happy Love Day to you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A scare.

I just read a post by one of my favorite blogger moms, the first I ever followed, that made the past come crashing back at me.

I followed Betsy first on BabyCenter, at Babes in the Woods. It was the first blog I followed faithfully, identifying with her as my two oldest boys are around the same age as her daughters. Now I also follow her on Numbmum. This post recalls the terrible burn her daughter Ilsa suffered, from Betsy's hot tea she left unattended for just a minute. I remember when she wrote about it the first time, how I read her posts out loud to my husband Troy when she returned following Ilsa's burn. Every time, no joke, I hold a hot tea around my babies, I think of her and Ilsa, reminding myself to put it up when I leave the room.

Betsy details how guilty she felt, still feels, that she has Ilsa's scar confronting her everyday.

We all are faulty though, not ever-vigilant, often distracted. As parents your faults have never before been so disgustingly obvious. I'm in a hurry, pressing them forward faster than they would like, or I'm tired and impatient, or frustrated with other things and short with them as a result, or too busy to play, or just not actually listening when they're talking to me. Pausing and appreciating them, being with them, listening to them is difficult and I have to remind myself. Shouldn't it be so easy?

As a crawler, Seth drank Windex I left down one time. Not knowing how much had been in the bottle to begin with, he spent the day haunting the emergency rooms with Troy, his blood levels being tested routinely. He was fine, just a scare for us. (He thought it was great to play with new toys and have his Daddy to himself for the day.) It was a dose of strong guilt for me though. Why had I left it down? Where was I when he found it? Why couldn't I even remember if it had been full or not? How could I have been so negligent? Irresponsible, no good... and we were lucky.

One day at my in-laws, we were visiting for a long weekend, around a doctor's appointment Seth had in Halifax. Troy's parents were at work, I was running around with a towel in my hair after a shower, answering the phone, trying to schedule an appointment with another specialist while we were in town. It was last summer, just weeks after Max had been born, he was fussing in the living room. Troy was changing him, the boys were watching tv, I thought I would have to feed the baby soon. Troy had entertained Max long enough for me to squeeze in a shower. I put down the phone to realize I didn't know where Claire was.

But then I saw the gate open and just knew exactly where she was.

I found her in the pool, alone, her hair floating at the top, her little eyes open under the water. Her eyelashes had air bubbles on them. She was fine when I pulled her up, except then she was confused and scared by my ballistic screaming as I held her tight and close. We were both dripping wet, Troy was behind me, I passed her to him to see if she was okay, I couldn't even think what to look for. Her little blue pyjama top stuck to her, she only had on that and a diaper. Even her little toes were tanned. I remember it all, every single last detail, but don't remember it at all. I don't remember crossing the deck from the dining room to the pool. I went down the stairs instead of jumping in, why did I do that? Why was the gate open? We were neurotic about keeping it shut. Something in the back of my mind recalled that Thane had told me he had checked the temperature that morning, he wanted to go swimming. Had he told me that? I didn't remember, was I even listening? I didn't hear her fall in. Had she fallen in? Was she playing on the pool stairs and got in too far? She was scared to let go of the stairs railing yesterday when we were swimming, she didn't like how cold it was, she wouldn't get in when we wanted her to. I was shaking, felt like we had failed her. "She could have died", I kept repeating, Thane and Seth watching their crying inconsolable mother with wide eyes. I had the sudden realization there could have been a huge hole in our family. Our chaos had almost cost us our daughter.

Those of us who don't have lasting scars from our parenting failures have just been lucky not to be visibly caught in them. All of our kids wear our flaws in who they turn out to be, just as we wear those of our own parents. It's part of the gig. You try, really really hard. But sometimes you fail.

Kid Quotables

Seth - while eating breakfast the other day - said "When I grow up I want to be a scientist. Oh, and a golfer, a swim teacher, and a Beavers leader." Okay then.

(He's already outdoing Thane's 5 year old aspirations of working at McDonald's.)

*          *          *          *          *

While I was having a tea break the other day, Thane walks into the room, does a spontaneous bout of river dancing, hands on hips, and then heads upstairs.

*          *          *          *          *

Since seeing The Little Mermaid, Claire now brushes her hair with a fork. And wants to brush mine that way as well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet music.

This sweet song posted by Adele at Musings on the Simple Life made me think of this father daughter duo Ellen hosted the other day. Both such sweet songs.

I loved how on their Ellen appearance when she was asking how this began, the Dad, Jorge, said in their house, they "follow four guidelines: family, community, art and music".

I love how they have consciously outlined their family priorities. It's done in every organization to define where that organization should be directing their resources, their attention and time, to what work they should be doing. Why not within the family?

It took me a bit of thought, but I came up with the principle tenets we work towards in our family.

Kindness, health, and creativity.

Those encompass a lot. Kindness to each other, generousity and tenderness to friends and strangers, caring about social responsibility and the welfare of those who have a very small voice. Health in nutrition, activity, caring for our environment. Creativity in all that they (we) do, questioning and discovering, following our interests, testing our abilities.

What is your parenting 'mission statement'? If you were to list the values you want to raise your child to cherish, what would they be?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's Ookyook

... and it's cold outside!

Check out this clip for a little nostalgia for the vintage Sesame Street crowd. When I was little I loved when this came on, and found myself humming it today as I was getting the kids dressed up warm to go outside. Although my sister remembered the words much better than I!

Did  you know that Sesame has all of their classic and present day clips online to view? The kids and I had a great time going through them today (as I had no idea how to spell Ookyook). Remember Hoots the Owl, Ernie's Moon song, and Snuffle-cizing? And all their new ones, with songs by the Googoo dolls, Feist, and Norah Jones?

It's a good way to enjoy 'Ookyook'!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Serial casts

Another huge thing that I glossed over in January?

Seth had casts put on at the beginning of the month. In a nutshell, serial casts are another step like his braces to aid the range of motion in his ankles, reducing the over toned muscle, helping to keep his heel touching the ground, hopefully avoiding muscle-lengthening surgery and knee and hip, back problems later, etc. The casts, one on each calf and foot had to stay on for '5 sleeps'.

And this kid.

He thought it was very cool. How cool is that? Seth lapped it up as a chance to enjoy the day out as the center of attention, the life of the party, entertaining the staff and myself with his comic.

He could walk around in the casts later but had to wait two hours for them to harden, so was put in the world's tiniest wheelchair to get out of the centre to the van. He thought it was awesome, and looks at me with wide eyes and says, "Do we get to take this home?!" I couldn't help but laugh. Thane was with us and as we waited in the large entry way Seth chased him around, threatening to run him over. I had wished I'd had my camera with me, but it wasn't necessary. I can still see him. I had made him a new toque over the holidays (my first successful knit item by the way!), he was wearing it and had his two little red casts in this teensy wheelchair, Troy's black socks over his toes, wheeling around as fast as he could, him and Thane laughing their guts out.

His appointments always make me feel so lucky for the healthy children we have. That being in a wheelchair was a fun novelty. Our infrequent appointments are admist the child-size physio equipment Seth has no need for, full of straps for children who have little control over their muscles and much greater challenges dealt to them. The last time Seth was fitted for braces we watched an athletic looking teen test out a new leg, one built for running. Seth's barely perceivable, mild cerebral palsy seems like such a non-issue among these.

Seth made out well though, only slowing down on the last day. Unfortunately we only snapped a couple pictures just before taking the casts off, when he was anxious to be rid of them. He had developed a blister, they had warned us that was the worst that might happen. So that day we propped him up on the couch to be more still and told him he could be prince for the day, and if he needed anything just to ask. As I drank my tea snuggled up on the other end of the couch, he says in his best princely voice, eyelids fluttering, shoulders drawn up and hands folded on his lap, "So Queenie, what would you like to do today?". He cracks me up.

The best part is that the casts were very successful, follow-up measurements showing vast improvement, pushing his range into 'normal'! It seems his brain hasn't yet noticed the new capabilities his feet have, but that his range is that what Claire or Thane would have. He was sent home with walking on his heel exercises to do that will hopefully make those neurons connect. When his five sleeps were up we just had to peel the casts off.

Not to change the subject, but I want to show off the hat a little as well. It *only* took me three unsuccessful hats on the same pattern (too wide, too short, close but not quite - more like a yamaka than a toque) to get to this one, my first actual, more importantly finished, knit something. Although by the time I got to this one I had at least figured out how to switch colors for some lovely stripe action. So a couple more pictures in celebration of the hat and it's proud new owner. (The excitement of my kid being excited I had knit him something and proud to wear it was a high I had underestimated!)

Oh yes, one more thing. Notice those bottom teeth missing? Big boy growing here I tell you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A little housekeeping

(Blog housekeeping and house housekeeping!)

Wow. Today is just going so well. I have this ideal in my head of how the day should go, and today is actually living up to that.

To begin with, Troy got up with Max for the big stretch last night, so I logged seven hours of z's with only one shortish sleep interruption, and I actually feel awake and ready to go. Unlike how nights have been going lately, with two or more long awake interruptions with Max, and the odd Claire wake up. I think I didn't mention Claire had chickenpox while Max was in the hospital. That's how minor it was (or how distracted we were), but she was awake with some itchies a bit over the last week. Oh yes, and she fell out of bed twice. Yes. Ahem. Bed rail is now installed. Something as little as bringing it up from the basement and dusting it off can get in my way sometimes.

Then I had a coffee while hanging out in the playroom with happy Max and Claire, and doodled some house plans. (Yes! I'm back on the caffeine train. I've quit quitting coffee. After a month of dragging myself around uncaffeinated and exhausted I've decided whatever is up with Max's skin has nothing to do with the coffee I thought might be bothering him. So I'm going to at least pair my sleep deprivation with my favorite little black bean and gain some sort of alertness. Although at least now, having actually quit for a while, I can say I'm pretty confident there was no correlation between my vice and his eczema.) Watching them play together is so sweet. I love watching the sibling relationships blossom as baby gets old enough to really interact. The big kids are always so surprised and excited that the baby (who was cute but seemed quite useless to them before) is now also fun to play with!

Next up was a nap for Max and some housecleaning for me, Claire puttering around with me being a big helper. It never ceases to amaze me how baby's sleep (lack of or lots of) rules the day. I even managed to dust off my Flylady routine's that haven't seen much action in the last month. Get dressed (believe it or not that's a biggie for me), make the bed, reboot the laundry, feed the cat and empty the litterbox, unload the dishwasher, tidy up the kitchen, swish and swipe the bathrooms, and figure out what's for supper. I even decluttered the laundry room, finally taking the kitty litterbox to the basement and her food to the kitchen like I've been intending to, letting the laundry room feel clean enough to clean clothes in.

My house 'blessings' (aka house cleaning) plan, inspired by Flylady.
Notice all the checks today?! And the scribbly part is the supper plan, broccoli and fish, that's as close and I seem to be able to get to meal planning. My favorite part of my day plan, is the big square in the middle, a little list of things reminding me to get down on Claire and Max's level with them. Which is so much more important to me than housecleaning.

I even made one with the kids, with pictures for the non-readers, helping them with their routines. Even though we only use these occasionally, it works way better than any other chores chart we've tried. And they like checking off their accomplishments too!
I know it sounds like I let our lives be governed by lists and charts, but believe me it's not. They're more often ignored and not followed, but I learned a long time ago that 'ideal days' (like today!) don't happen if you haven't figured out what the ideal is, made a plan and goals. And making it visual is huge for me. So I have my little lists slid inside clear protectors - one of my favorite tricks, so I can check off items (or write down the supper plan, etc.) with dry erase markers, to be used again another day - and then taped on the inside of cupboard doors, so they're there if I want to look at them or absent if I don't want to look at them. I've done this with my list of vitamins to take, and the kids too, making one less thing to have to remember.

I was terrible at taking my vitamins, this has actually really helped.
Now, after our lunch, Claire and I are enjoying a little downtime. Her with Cat in the Hat and a pile of hair accessories she scrounged up somewhere, and I with you!

Oh yes, and the blog 'housekeeping' I was telling you about. Have you noticed the little word 'Home' sitting at the top left of my blog lately? All by it's lonesome? I've been meaning to figure out how to add more pages and just took a long time getting there. But now I've added a page for a list of my favorite blogs (it was getting too long for the side of my page) and plan to add a few other pages soon. Stay tuned, I have a few cool ideas I'm excited to add.

Next up, outdoors to enjoy this beautiful winter sun!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Loving Online

A little link love...

Pampering for the Littlest

Yesterday, the littlest Mister got his hair cut! At 6 months old! This is hilarious to me because his siblings didn't even have hair until they were at least a year old. Their first haircut photos usually held toddlers. But it was buh bye to the comb-over do for Max. While it was great entertainment as a mohawk, it had to go. Even though it was sad to see his black baby hair tips be cut off, leaving me with an altogether older looking and lighter haired boy.

And a trim for Miss Claire for good measure.

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