Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It must be hereditary

Last year, when Liam was 4, this is the best Christmas tree portrait that I got of him.So perhaps it should be no surprise that this is the shot that I got of cousin Henry this year - also at age 4.Are all 4-year-olds like this? Or only the ones in our family? Anyway, if it's any consolation, Liam's photo turned out beautifully this year - so I'm sure Henry will be much more co-operative next year!Thomas didn't mind me this year, but I suspect that by the time he is 4 I will have to deal with it all over again!And finally, one of all the cousins together.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The epic Christmas holiday post, 23 photos and counting.

Another year of shopping/decorating/wrapping/caroling/cooking/making merry is behind us. All that build up, and then it's over in the blink of an eye. This year we started on Christmas Eve by preparing for guests to come the following day. I attempted to make a beef tenderloin this year and I have to admit, I was almost more excited by the beef than I was about any other aspect of the holiday! So much so that I had to snap a photo after I got my roast lovingly trimmed and tied.We had our traditional Thai takeout for dinner (it's morphed over the years... used to be Chinese) and then got ready to head to church. I tried taking a few pics of the kids after they were cleaned up, but it's not an easy task on Christmas Eve when they are all giddy with anticipation. After the kids went to bed, we finished our preparations and then headed for bed ourselves. Here's the living room in all its glory, after Santa's visit.On Christmas morning, we were able to sleep in until almost 8 a.m. I know that one of these years, the kids will be up at 5 and clamoring to head downstairs. Mallory was the first to run into our room. "Mom!" she whispered, in her whispering voice that is so loud that anyone on the second floor can hear her, "can I go downstairs? I'm so excited to see if Santa came!" We told her to wait for her brother so she marched across the hall and threw open the door to his bedroom. Same as last year, Liam was already up but quietly playing on his own in his room, waiting for us to come and get him, I suppose.At our house, Santa does not wrap his presents to the kids. So they paused to admire the hockey game/Lego/Rapunzel doll/Playmobil that was left under the tree, and then headed for their stockings.The Zhu Zhu pets have been a pretty big hit. On the other hand, Mallory was quite exasperated to find that Santa had left her a clementine in the toe of her stocking since she thinks he knows taht she does not like them. Sigh... it was worth a try.She was, however, delighted when Liam came into the room carrying the unicorn riding stick that he chose for her. (We wound up just tying a ribbon around its neck since it was difficult to wrap.) Here is her reaction to it: This was also the Year of the Penguin - she got stuffed penguins, animatronic penguins, and a game of Pop 'n' Drop Penguins that is essentially the exact same as the game of Trouble that we played 30 years ago. Liam was just content to start building with his Legos.
They both enjoyed the fact that the Playmobil penguinarium can be filled with water and a waterfall activated with a hand-pump.As for me, Santa found me too - I am now the happy owner of a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. Hoping to log lots of miles this winter!Once the gifts were opened, we ate some monkey bread and spent the rest of the morning enjoying the new toys. I had to deliver some gift baskets to the office for the people working in the control room on Christmas day. Then, I came home and got busy in the kitchen. The roast turned out fabulous - maybe a little more well-done than I normally like, but super tasty nonetheless. (I bought this roast a few weeks before Christmas at a grocery store close to us that was running a sale. I checked prices with a couple of butchers to benchmark how much I should be paying for it. Then, two days before Christmas, we saw the exact same roast for sale at the Superstore for HALF the price - I couldn't believe it. So I went out and picked one up today, because the recipe was awesome and I can't wait to have more!)By this time, cousin Ethan had joined us, so we tried for a few group shots underneath the Christmas tree before the gift-opening frenzy continued.And then we continued playing with and enjoying our new toys.Then a few attempted family portraits - though these never turn out well late in the day! We're always tired, dishevelled, and spun out on sugar.And then, today, we were faced with this monstrosity to clean up:It didn't take long, which is just as well, because I am definitely coming down with something - my nose is stuffed, my head is pounding, and I am heading to bed. We are doing Christmas Round Two tomorrow and I want to be in top form for it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Norman Rockwell winter break

Halfway through the first week of our break - at this rate it will be over in the blink of an eye. We've spent the last few days wrapping things up so that we can settle in and enjoy ourselves for the next week and a half. We've had haircuts and doctor's appointments and year end reviews at the office... lots of errand-running and last-minute shopping (never again, I swear!)... and now it's time for some R&R. After the deep freeze last week, we had a good thick layer of ice on the creek. There is not really enough snow on the ground to make the sledding good, but the ice was beckoning. We took a shovel, a broom and our skates down to the creek, and set about clearing ourselves off a rink.Liam brought his hockey stick and puck, too, and we played some impromptu one-on-one. He killed me, of course. I got smoked by a five year old. In my defense, though - this is the first time I have played hockey. Like, ever. And despite the fact that I did terribly, it was a lot of fun.I think Chad did better than I did, skill-wise; I think he gave a few goals away to Liam. He did, however, complain the entire time about how much his skates hurt his feet. No wonder Chad didn't grow up as a hockey player.Mallory had a ball too, and really surprised me. The ice surface was a bit bumpy but she had no problem staying on her feet. Not only that... she said she was going to practice her figure skating, and practice she did. Look at this move:And then she wanted to play hockey, too, and she fired the puck down the ice enough times to prove that the first time she made contact was more than a fluke.She says that she wants to play ringette AND hockey AND figure skate when she gets older. And after seeing her like this... I believe every word she says.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

May the force be with you

Today, I took the kids over to a birthday party for their friend Colin who is turning 6 this week. (OMG, 6!! - but I digress.) The party theme was Star Wars (not KKK as Mallory might appear - she is wearing a Jedi robe and looking awfully reminiscent of me as Princess Leia, I must say. Maybe we can double-date next year on Halloween.)It was nice to take a break from the Christmas festivities and focus on something else for a change. Colin's mom did a bang-up job organizing some indoor party activities including a Jedi obstacle course...
...and a Darth Vader pinata...
...and Liam even spoke to, and enjoyed the company of, the other kids there. Go, Liam!My kids have no idea what Star Wars is, but they sure did enjoy cutting up and eating R2D2.Full photo set up on Flickr.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Where did the month go?

Normally, I have my Christmas shopping done in October, my cards done in November... you get the idea. This year, I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I still have to do a pile of shopping, all of my baking, all of my wrapping, half of my cards...If I can just make it through today - and then a couple of hours on Monday afternoon - then I will be off on vacation for a couple of weeks. I will definitely be fielding calls from the office but, equipped with a laptop and a phone, am hoping not to have to come back in. And then we can bake, shop, wrap, craft (I still have Christmas crafty items tucked away that I bought more than a month ago!)... you get the picture. Very much looking forward to it.

(Both kids got their eyes checked for the first time last week... both are doing A-OK.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's that time of year

Yesterday we finally got to see the kindergarten Christmas concert. It was originally scheduled for Monday but was cancelled on account of the weather. I'm glad they were able to fit it in yesterday, because that was Liam's last day of school for the year.Liam was his normal, goofy self during this concert, the version of himself that acts all shy and surprised to see us, deliberately avoiding eye contact and giving his shy-smile when he made it. Last year Liam was a Santa during the concert, and this year the classes reversed roles, and he was an elf. The kids marched into the north foyer of the school, proceeded to recite three poems, and then the teachers thanked us for coming. We were a bit surprised because last year's concert was probably 20 minutes long and involved quite a repertoire of songs. This year's concert was very short by comparison, but no less sweet.After the concert, we went down to the classroom, where the parents had brought in treats for the kids and there was a craft set up to do together (one he had already done at Cindy's this year, but you know Liam and crafts - he was more than game to do it again!) Speaking of treats, one of the items requested were rice krispie squares, and so we made some using the Christmas rice krispies with the red and green bits and then cut out the required six pieces with a gingerbread man cookie cutter. We had to repeat this on Tuesday night for Wednesday's concert, because we had made a batch on Sunday night for Monday's concert and when the concert was cancelled, I wound up taking them into the control room instead since they wouldn't last (at least not well) until Wednesday. And yes, I got some flak for bringing a plate of cutesy rice krispie treats into a roomful of controllers and planners, but that didn't stop the plate from quickly disappearing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Puff, my magic little dragon

Mallory has had a nighttime cough for the past several weeks. It doesn't strike too much during the day, though it's been known to crop up when she experiences an extreme temperature change (going outside/coming in) or is running around. Mostly though, she has a couple of coughing fits each night where I might get up to give her a drink of water, but mostly we just have to wait it out.

Then, on Sunday night, she had a coughing fit that went on for quite some time. I got up to give her a drink and went back to bed. Still she coughed. A few more minutes passed and then the door to our bedroom opened and she came in. "Mom, look," she said. I took her to the bathroom and turned on the light. Her entire arm was soaked in white foam that she had coughed up. There were a few puddles of it on the floor in the hall. I freaked out. I gave her some Tic Tacs to suck on to help quell the coughing and sat up with her in the rocking chair until she felt better. Then I plugged a vaporizer into the socket in her room, went back to bed for a few hours, and called the doctor's office the minute they opened the following morning.

My doctor couldn't see her all week, and neither could any of the other 3 doctors in the practice, which makes me wonder what the hell kind of a medical system we have. Nonetheless, they recommended us to a medical clinic later that same day and we got in there. It did not take the doctor long to zone in on the problem. I described what had happened and he asked whether Mallory has ever had seasonal allergies (check!) or eczema (check check!), and then he diagnosed her as having Reactive Airway Disease.

Basically, this is a precursor to asthma, and about half of kids with RAD go on to develop asthma as adults. He prescribed her two puffers, one to take twice a day and one to take only when her coughing fits flare up. We've had no coughing fits in the 24 hours that she has been using the other puffer, so that's good. She also enjoys taking the puffs, which I do appreciate, seeing that I am already cramming pills down Captain's throat twice a day and the idea of forcing more medication on anyone would be enough to send me over the edge. Even though cough syrup is not sold for kids under the age of 6 anymore, I have been known to slip Mallory some from time to time, and she doesn't like the taste so it's always been a battle of the wills. I'm glad we don't experience this with the puffer.

Still... it's a puffer. And it's a chronic disease. And it's sad to face that kind of diagnosis for one of your kids. Especially when you are an active person, and you hope for that kind of life for your child, too. I know there's no guarantee that Mallory will be athletically inclined, nor is there a guarantee that asthma would prevent her from participating in anything, but you know the two are linked and it could make it that much harder for her. Yes, I know it could be worse, and I am thankful that her treatment is 'only' a puffer - she does not have it too bad, compared to a lot of other sick kids out there. I just hope that she'll be in the half of the population that outgrows this, and doesn't have to deal with it for her entire life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taking shelter

Today we had our annual Roberts family Christmas, which somehow always seems to coincide with our first blast of wintery weather. It looked a lot like this last year and a couple of years before that, the entire event was postponed for a few weeks because of the inability of our whole family to dig out. Or maybe it was just the Kent Club janitor who couldn't make it in to unlock the building for us. Regardless, it was postponed.The day started out innocently enough - a few big fat flakes, not many of which were sticking. Just enough to set the mood. But as the day wore on, the snow piled up......until, by the time we headed home, the streets were pretty much deserted. (To be honest, this Christmas tree lot is deserted EVERY time I go by. I feel bad for these trees in a very Charlie Brown sort of way.)Days like this serve to remind me that it's going to be a hectic week at work. Not only is it the last week I'm working before some vacation time - at least, I am hoping for a break from work! - but my job is directly tied to the weather. I'm looking at this and I'm thinking of overtime. (Not that I get paid it. Just that I work it.)It does make the neighbourhood look lovely, though. Here is the scene from my driveway, facing south.And here is a scene from the passenger seat of the car on the drive home. This photo doesn't really mean very much, but it sure is pretty. (That's a red traffic light in front of us.)