Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankful Everyday

Thanksgiving was quiet at our house this year. Graham came down with a fever the day before, that spiked Thursday morning at 104.7. I think he had the flu. He was so sad and lethargic, and obviously miserable. I sent Spencer and Gwen up north to forge ahead with our original plans. They went to Gramie Camie's for Thanksgiving dinner and Gwen brought the organic cranberry sauce we made together. Yes, I let my three year old stir molten cranberries at the stove, and she did awesome! Had I known I was going to spend Thanksgiving home alone (with sick baby) I would have prepared a bit better. But, come to find out, I had almost all the ingredients for pumpkin pie, and being vegetarian that is the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner for me. Before Spencer left, I took Gwen on a walk to our neighborhood Lucky's to pick up whipped cream and pedialyte. After sending the healthy half of my family away, I set to nursing, cleaning, cooking, and catching up on some light TV. I have to say, it was a pretty great holiday, even though I totally missed seeing friends and family. It was a treat to be in my quiet house, and have time to catch up on some projects (Graham slept a lot). By Friday afternoon when Spencer and Gwen returned, he was almost himself again, and we were all so excited to see each other. I am thankful for my little family and our relatively good health.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Going Coastal: Visiting Ambrosia's Mom and East Coast Family

The last time I visited my Mom was July 2009, which was also the last and first time she met Gwen. That is until we went this November, with both kids, so she could finally meet Graham, who is still, thankfully, quite baby like. I meant to make it during his first year, but it was flu season, and then we weren't sure about our finances, and then it was too hot. I will admit, I was putting it off for a plethora of reasons to numerous to go into or even articulate. Not wanting to go when it was too cold, or during the holidays, we made a mad dash of it the first week of November. Overall it was a lovely visit, though in response to our experience of flying with both children, Spencer said he wouldn't willingly get on a plane with the two of them until they are 18, and can go by themselves. It wasn't really that bad. We had a direct flight SFO to BOS, but really, who wants to, or is able to, sit still for over five hours (and over six hours for the flight west)???? If anyone has course to complain, I think it is me. It was me who had to try and nurse Graham (who is not a small baby anymore) in the middle seat, his carseat on one side, and a very nice gentleman who ordered two bloody mary's, not 4 inches from my boob on the other. It was me on the flight home stuck between both children, neither of which would sleep (Graham eventually had two cat naps). Graham screamed bloody murder if I left to sit across the aisle in Spencer's seat to take a break. I have to say, I was a little surprised that Graham didn't travel better. I am not embarrassed of my children acting like children, but who can take a break when their child is screaming?!?! Anywho, once we got to where we were going, things went as smoothly as once can expect while traveling with two small children. We over packed. One person cannot manage two children, two carseats, one stroller, 4 carry ons, and two suitcases, no matter how big the luggage cart. Spencer picked up the rental car, and I was going to meet him at the curb with all this. Unfortunately, to get to the curb where passenger pick up is, you have to cross the street, twice....I thought about it for a second, but thought better of having Gwen push her little brother across two lanes of airport traffic. I did the unmentionable and left my stroller (stacked with carry on luggage and a carseat) unattended. We, and all of our gear, finally made it to our Impala (which thankfully has a large trunk, though a very small back seat). And after taking the scenic route out of Boston, we eventually made it to the coast of New Hampshire to my Uncle's. He and his wife were kind enough to put us up. It truly felt like we were staying at a bed and breakfast. We were greeted with dinner with aunts and uncles and a distant Ohio relative (my Mom's Dad's side of the family). The following day we visited with my Mom at her house deep in the woods of New Hampshire. We had a lovely visit followed by another family dinner at my other Uncle's house. There we discovered Graham's love of sheep and dogs. I have never seen him as animated- he literally was trying to jump the fence to be with the sheep. The next day we went to Odiorne State Beach with my Mom. This is a place she has talked about for years since returning to her home state of New Hampshire. She has fond memories of her Mother taking her and her brothers there. It was a beautiful day and we will make a tradition of visiting it on future trips. Monday Spencer and the kids dropped me off at Krempels Center, where my Mom goes a few days a week, while they toured Portsmouth. I stayed for the morning program with her and it was awesome. The center provides activities for adults who have suffered brain injuries, and it has really changed my Mother's life. In 2000, after botched back surgery, she ended up with Herpes Encephalitis. The lesions on her brain have caused her to lose motor control of the left side of her body (and yes, she is left handed) so she is in a wheel chair. She has some memory issues, huge blind spots in her vision, OCD tendencies, and a flat affect. After spending way too long in a Nursing Home (she wasn't even 45 years old yet when her life took this turn), she was able to move into a group home setting. And then she found Krempels Center. In her past life as a nurse she always wanted to become a Lactation Consultant, and with the encouragement and support of Krempels Center, she finished the certification course earlier this year. While she hopes to move back to California some day, it would be hard to leave such an amazing program and all her East Coast family, never mind the logistics of such a feat. After making the trek with Spencer and the kids, and surviving, I think I can make it out in a year, or two, with just me and the kids. Bigger challenges have been managed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Many days of Halloween

I read an article in early October about how Halloween is no longer an event, but a series of activities. This was very much so our experience this year to the extent Gwen would ask, “Is this the first day of Halloween?” On the first day of Halloween we put up decorations. Per Gwen’s request, witches, ghosts, cobwebs, pumpkins, and ribbons. I found not scary versions of these things and tied a black ribbon to the mailbox. On the second day, we went to the Goblin Jamboree at the Children’s Discovery Museum. Grandma met us there where she hand delivered the kid’s costumes. Gwen was a ladybug and Graham a lion. This was an awesome event and totally worth the drive and expense. We hardly saw any of the museum (the Tot Spot was sufficient) and there were all kinds of Halloween themed carnival games that were age appropriate complete with little prizes (a candy free event). Gwen and Graham even got to ride a pony. We made another trek north for pumpkin carving at the Crumley Farm in Sonoma. They grew all the pumpkins in their garden and my little cousin Thor has half a dozen cousins on his Mom’s side ages 2-10, so that was fun. The proceeding days of Halloween included playing hooky from preschool to go to the Mommy and Me Trick or Treating at Santana Row with one of Gwen’s best friends (who we also went trick or treating with last year). Gwen was blown away by all the princess costumes, particularly Ariel which often included a fake red wig. At preschool, parents were invited to bring treats to hand out at the kids' costume parade, followed by a potluck. It was all pretty cute. The following day we wore costumes to gymnastics and in the afternoon went to a Halloween party for Gwen's playgroup at an indoor play area (bounce houses and whatnot). After all the princess costumes Gwen decided to protest her non-princess costume, so she wore her skeleton jammies she got for her birthday. On the next day of Halloween we went to Boo at the Zoo at the San Francisco Zoo (Gwen wore all black and leopard ears and tail). There was no trick or treating (I totally thought there were going to be volunteers handing out candy at all the different animal exhibits). There was an event tent with crafts and a stage, and various booths set up by sponsors handing out healthy treats (apple sauce in a pouch, granola bars for kids, fruit leather, etc.). Gwen saw Witch Hazel getting ready for her story time and was petrified by her, yet didn’t want to leave. We stayed for her story time, and at the end, Gwen was standing next to the witch helping her with the parachute the kids were all bouncing fake spiders on. I was so proud of her conquering her fear. And then it was Halloween, and we went to a wedding. Gwen was a little confused, but totally onboard with the festivities. My stepbrother got married at this beautiful castle like building in Marin. It was very gothic and very beautiful. After a lovely reception we went trick or treating in the neighborhood with the children of family and friends we had not seen in years. We really packed it in this year, but I have a feling this is what Halloween will be about in years to come, family, friends, and food, and I am okay with that.