Friday, February 26, 2010

Still Sick

So my two-week-long cold has brought a strange symptom to the table. I've been experiencing sharp, shooting pain through the right half of my skull, including the jaw, cheek, ear and head areas. The episodes occur at varying intensities all through the day and night. I thought at first it was an ear infection and started taking an antibiotic, but when the shooting pain didn't go away, I went to the doctor. He said my ear was not infected and prescribed me a stronger antibiotic to treat me for sinusitis, since I am still very congested. He also told me to take Aleve for the unilateral head pain. Aleve diminishes the intensity of the episodes, but if I skip taking it even for a few hours, the pain is pretty intense.

Since I have always enjoyed very good health and even getting a cold is a rarity for me, it is totally freaking me out to be taking Aleve all the time. I have a borderline phobia of being dependent on any drug for any reason, and just thinking about the fact that I have been taking Aleve around the clock for days is enough to start a mini panic-attack. In the past, I would rarely even take Tylenol for a headache or Sudafed for a stuffy nose. I believe in the body healing itself with extra sleep, good nutrition, and a little help from vitamins. I also believe in allowing my body to give me biofeedback if something about my lifestyle needs to be changed. Like I get a headache if I do too much in one day or stress myself out with worry, so I'd prefer to adjust my stress level rather than mask the headache symptom with Tylenol. If there is an all-natural way to get over something, I will always try that and 95% of the time, it works. So the fact that this cold has been dragging on for so long and now I've got this weird head pain with it is kinda stressing me out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Caleb (Monthly Update)

Caleb is 3-years-and-11-months-old today, and overall, it has been a very good month. He has matured a lot this month. Some frustrating behaviors like name-calling and deliberately irritating his friends and his brother have subsided quite a bit this month. He is more and more interested in accomplishing new things and getting stronger and bigger. He has also been very sweet with Ethan lately. Anytime he gets a treat, he saves the last bite for Ethan, even at school or in Bible class. The last four or five times I've picked him up from one of those, he has had a piece of cookie or a marshmellow or a almost-gone packet of M&Ms clutched in his hand "for Ethan." He has developed a nurturing, paternal attitude with Ethan. He shows him how to do things with a more patient voice than in the past. He will give Ethan a piece of the puzzle he is doing, show Ethan where it goes, and then applaud him for placing it correctly. They still have plenty of conflict, but Caleb's attitude as a big brother is definitely maturing.

Caleb has also been enjoying going to school more than in the past. He is not a big fan of school in general, being an introverted child and preferring to follow his own agenda rather than a group's, but the last couple of weeks he has had a better attitude and had more positive stories to share. He is very excited about his upcoming birthday, since most of his classmates have already turned four, and apparently some are reminding him that he is still only three. He keeps asking me questions about his birthday party that I can't answer because I haven't made any plans yet (it is still four weeks away!).

Caleb has been a little fixated on "the truth" of late. I started talking to him about telling the truth and explaining what a lie is many months ago, but it seems to have really sunk in recently. The problem is, like any moral parameter, he has been very quick to apply it across the board, particularly with Ethan. Ethan is not even two, and his M.O. is to lie to get out of trouble. I ask Ethan, "Did you throw that truck?" and he of course says, "NOOOO! Bubba throw the truck!" Caleb immediately erupts with, "Mama he's telling a lie! He's telling a lie! Spank him! He threw the truck! Spank him for telling a lie!" The good side of Caleb's interest in the truth is that, right now, I can almost always count on him to tell me the truth. If he does attempt to mislead me, the struggle is so obvious on his face, so his lie is very unconvincing.

He actually tells on himself without me even asking on a regular basis. About a week ago, I came downstairs in the morning to find a guilty Caleb with the open M&M jar and chocolate all over his teeth. I said, "Caleb! Did you eat M&Ms without asking?" Caleb's little jaw drops and he sits there frozen, saying nothing. I proceed with, "Well, I can see that you ate the M&Ms because there is chocolate all over your teeth." He closes his mouth, I explain his consequences, and we go on with our day. A few days later, also first thing in the morning, Caleb pokes his head up over the side of our bed and says:

"Mommy, I have to tell you something."
"Yes, Caleb?"
"When I woke up and you were still sleeping, I went downstairs and ate some M&Ms from the treat jar. And then I went to the bathroom and brushed all the chocolate off my teeth, so you wouldn't see it. [solemn pause] Sorry for making all those bad choices. Do you forgive me?"

It was all I could do not to burst all laughing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Earlier today, I was talking with a friend on the phone about pain. She reminded me of how poorly we remember what it feels like to be in pain. We remember that something hurt, and even that it hurt a lot, and we are motivated to avoid whatever caused us the pain in the past, but we can't really recapture in our minds that feeling of being in pain once it is gone. Don't get me wrong, I definitely see this as a huge blessing. I'm glad that my memory is more poignant and detailed for the hours of great joy and pleasure than it is for the hours of intense pain. The problem is, it is also very hard to remember what it feels like to be free of pain while you are in the midst of it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Outside Again!

After weeks of cold and being cooped up inside most of the time, we just had the most beautiful weekend, and we took full advantage of it. The highs were in the 60's Saturday and Sunday, and even though poor Marcus had to hole up and study the whole weekend, the boys and I spent as much time as possible outside. Saturday morning, Aunt Wendi, the boys and I went hiking at Moss Rock Preserve. We met a really nice family with two boys close-in-age to Caleb and Ethan, and all four boys had a lot of fun throwing rocks and pine cones in a stream on the trail. We continued hiking until Ethan was pooped out, and then Wendi helped me get the boys back to the car before continuing her hiking alone. The three of us met Marcus for lunch, and then went home for nap time. After naps, Marcus went back to studying and the boys and I head out to enjoy our own deck and back yard. We stayed out for more than two hours. As usual, there was not a whine or complaint from either boy the whole time we were in the yard. They just loved being outside again. Sunday, after church and naps, the three of us spent another couple of hours playing in the back yard. Today, the favorite game was picking red berries off the shrubs and rolling soccer balls down the sloped yard and shouting "Boing!" when they hit the chain link fence. Caleb also spent a long time improving his frisbee arm, and he was in hog heaven with a willing audience of two (Ethan and I). He's at the age that LOVES to show off, and both his brother and I were happy to offer up the kudos he desired :)

I am so grateful for this weekend of warm weather. Even if it gets cold again, it was wonderful to have a glimpse of spring!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Riding Bikes

We had a pretty day a couple of weeks ago, so I dusted off the bikes and helmuts in the garage and let the boys stretch their legs. Ethan is getting very close to being able to pedal alone. He may be able to do it around the time he turns two in April. For now, he keeps his feet on the pedals while I push his back and the pedals go around. Caleb rides in circles and loves to be admired for how fast he can go.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ethan's First Shiner

A little over two weeks ago, just before Marcus installed the bed rail on Ethan's side of the boys' queen bed, Ethan rolled off the bed in the middle of the night and hit his eye socket on the corner of the night stand. He screamed like the world had come to an end. I didn't realize until I saw all the swelling in the morning exactly how badly he had hurt it. This picture doesn't really capture the one-eyed raccoon look he sported for the next week or so, but it gives the general idea :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Fun

Here are a few cute pictures of the kids from January and February.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sick Day

Well, after more than a year of good health for all four of us, the streak has been broken. Caleb caught a little cold last week, but got over it in a few days. I don't think he ever ran a fever, but he coughed some and had a runny nose.

Ethan came down with it on Friday afternoon, and it hit him harder. By morning, he had a fever of 104, which continued to hover around 101/102 all day, even with alternating doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofin. His fever spiked at 104 again today around noon, even with Tylenol in him. Marcus and I decided that he needed to go in to the doctor, since it could be his ears. Unfortunately, I was stuck at home without a car seat because Marcus had accidentally taken Ethan's car seat to work with him. I made a few phone calls and found a friend who was willing to come over for a little over an hour and keep napping Caleb while I ran Ethan to the doctor (in Caleb's car seat). It all went smoothly...they called us back to the exam room immediately, and we were able to head home just 40 minutes after arriving. They tested him for strep and the flu, and both were negative, but he did have a double ear infection. We got a script for an antibiotic and headed home to relieve the volunteer babysitter.

Marcus felt bad on Sunday, and I came down with it yesterday morning, but neither of us have it as bad as Ethan has.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Day in the Life of...

A little over a year ago, Marcus asked me this question over dinner: "So what do you do all day while I'm at work?" My response was a very long play-by-play of our day . I read over that entry a few days ago and thought that I should probably make that an annual tradition. So, if you have the stamina, read on for a day-in-the-life of Rachel, Caleb and Ethan.

Friday, February 12, 2010

5:35 am I give up falling back to sleep and get out of bed to get a few things done before the kids wake up. I wash my face, go to the bathroom, and head downstairs to empty the dishwasher. Then I sit down at my desk, plan our meals for the next eight days, and make a grocery shopping list. Next I write and post an entry on my blog, feed the dogs, pay a few bills, update Microsoft Money, and start a load of laundry. All of this takes about an hour.

6:30 am I hear Ethan in the monitor: bright, chipper and happy to be awake. I know that he is probably poking his sleeping brother because I hear Caleb moan, "MOMMY! COME GET HIM!" I hurry and retrieve Ethan, closing the door so Caleb can wake up at his own pace (which is very important for a peaceful morning). Ethan has his morning cup of milk while I hold him with his "blankie."

6:45 am Caleb comes down, and I ask the boys if they would like oatmeal or cereal for breakfast. They disagree. I help them discuss it, but they still disagree, so I decide on cereal since they had oatmeal yesterday. Both boys drink their milk and ignore their cereal.

7:00 am Boys go down to play room while I clean up their untouched breakfasts. I join them a few minutes later and we built a Lego castle together, do a puzzle, and play pretend with the plastic zoo animals.

8:15 am The three of us pile in the car with our prepacked gym bag to go to the Hoover Rec for Mommy's morning workout.

8:30 am I do cardio and lift weights while the boys play in the childcare play room.

9:30 am I pick them up after an hour and take them to the pool, where a friend and her daughter join us for a swim play date. Both boys have a great time swimming, though Caleb gets pretty upset when I take his swim vest off and encourage him to practice swimming without it. At one point, he climbs out of the pool and jumps in without his swim vest! I immediately pull him out of the water, but he is indignant and appalled that I didn't catch him before his head went under. I didn't even know that he was going to jump, so I thought I'd done pretty well pulling him out so fast. He generally has a hard time recovering from scares and/or percieved injustices, so he was pretty whiny until we got out ten minutes later.

10:15 am We get out of the pool and I let the boys stand under a warm shower for a while until they are no longer chilled. I get them dressed and take them back to the play room so I can take a shower and get ready for the day.

11:15 am We leave the Hoover Rec and see that the predicted snow is really coming down. I decide to skip the Walmart run I had planned and head straight home to feed the boys and check the weather.

11:30 am We eat a lunch of chicken nuggets, ketchup and applesauce, which the boys wolf down because they refused breakfast and did not get a morning snack.

12:00 pm We all go back downstairs to play in play room. The boys pretend to be kings defending their castles with their foam swords and hats (which are crowns). Caleb takes the lead today, and Ethan does everything he says (though often it happens the other way around).

12:30 pm We go upstairs to living room to play with the Thomas the train set. Caleb and Ethan play very happily without any conflict for more than 20 minutes. I tape them with the video camera for a while.

1:00 pm The boys watch an episode of Dora the Explorer together, while I load the dishwasher and clean up lunch. (Really, just Caleb watches it while Ethan continues playing with the train set.)

1:30 pm We go for a group potty break on our way to the boys' room to wind down for naps. Each boy picks one book to read, and we read for together for about 15 minutes. I lay down in bed with the boys until they fall asleep.

2:00 pm A friend calls on her way home from work, and we chat about our days and our plans for the snowy weekend.

2:15 pm I sit down at my desk and spend 30 minutes starting this blog entry.

2:45 pm I do one day of my Esther homework for the Beth Moore study we are doing at work. Then I move the load of laundry from this morning over to the dryer.

3:15 pm Since I'm all caught up on my housework, I head upstairs to lay down until the boys get up.

3:45 pm I wake up after a perfect 30-minute nap and am amazed that the boys are still both asleep. Ethan makes some noise, but it gets quiet again so I assume he has drifted back to sleep. (I mentally vow to take them swimming more often if I get a double 2.5 hour nap out of it.) I get the load of laundry out of the dryer and fold it. Then I straighten up the play room and call Marcus (but don't get ahold of him). VERY surprised that the boys are still asleep, I go upstairs and start making some preparations for dinner (marinating chicken breasts and washing veggies).

4:30 pm I hear both boys talking (whining) in the monitor, so I stop dicing potatoes and go upstairs to get them. I take them both potty, and then bring them downstairs for a snack of Chex Mix while I finish with the potatoes. Daddy calls to tell us that he'll be home around 5:15, thanks to the snowy day (which is 2-3 hours earlier than he usually comes home).

5:00 pm Snack time is done, so we spend fifteen minutes bundling up in coats, hats and gloves, so we can go outside and play in the snow as soon as Daddy gets here.

5:15 pm Daddy walks in just as I am putting the last glove on. He puts his coat on, too, and we all head outside to play in the 2 inches of snow that has accumulated.

5:40 pm Daddy goes inside to study for an hour before dinner.

5:50 pm The boys and I come inside and unlayer. Shoes and gloves go in the garage to dry off, coats get hung up, and both boys whine a lot about their numb hands. Ethan lets me warm his up, but Caleb just shrieks that they hurt too much and won't let me touch them.

6:10 pm I spend a few minutes putting final touches on dinner preparations while Ethan whines, HOLD ME, MOMMY! HOLD ME, MOMMY and Caleb continues crying upstairs in his room about his numb hands.

6:30 pm I send Ethan upstairs to tell Daddy and Caleb that dinner is ready. All three boys come down in about five minutes, and we sit down at the table and eat dinner, which is baked chicken, roasted potatoes & steamed carrots. I realize with frustration that the potatoes actually need about 10 more minutes, so I scoop them all back into the dish and put them back in the oven, and we all eat baked chicken and steamed carrots. Ethan eats very well, even downing most of his carrots. Caleb eats a few bites of chicken and starts asking to be excused. I make him stay at the table until everyone is done eating, asusual.

7:00 pm I clear the table and do the dishes while the boys play with their train set. Much like chaos and discontent is the norm for the hour before dinner, the hour after dinner is usually marked with cheerfulness and good attitudes: tonight is no exception for the boys and they play happily while I tidy up the kitchen.

7:30 pm We all go down to the play room. Daddy calls a friend and talks on the phone for a little while, and then heads back upstairs to study for the rest of the evening. The boys and I play with the Duplo Lego blocks one more time, and then clean up the play room together. Caleb is (uncharacteristically) cooperative about the clean-up process, and Ethan cleans with the energetic gusto that he approaches all of life with.

8:15 pm The boys follow me upstairs and start their evening race to get their pajamas on first. Caleb strips quickly and puts his Pull-up and PJ pants on by himself while I'm still helping Ethan out of his clothes. Caleb chants happily "I'm gonna be the winner! I'm gonna be the winner!" Ethan doesn't care about winning tonight, and keeps running away from me while I try to get his pajamas his on. Caleb gets to brush his teeth first since he was the winner, which Ethan protests loudly. After both boys have clean teeth, clean hands, and have pottied, we head back to their room for books, songs, prayers and tucking in. Bedtime goes very smoothly from here, and I kiss them goodnight right at 9:00 pm.

9:00 pm I walk downstairs and breath a prayer of thanks that the day is over and the boys are chatting peacefully in their bed. Then I sit down at the computer with a bowl of ice cream and finish this blog entry :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hitting the Gym

Last week, my dad came through town on a business trip and spend two evenings with us. We had two delicious dinners out, went swimming at his hotel pool, and, to top it all off, he bought us a membership to the AWESOME gym five minutes down the road from our house. We were members of this gym the first year that we lived here, but we let our membership lapse about eight months ago in an effort to cut costs. Now I am SO EXCITED to be able to work out again! Even better, the kids are older and Ethan is much more amenable to staying in the childcare room now than he was as an infant.

Last night, I went to Walmart and bought a second set of toiletries and a few other things to stock my gym bag. I remembered quickly that the biggest obstacle between me and the gym is how long it takes to pack the bag before we leave (swim stuff, shower stuff, changes of clothes, hair dryer, make-up, etc.) This time around, I'm going to keep a gym bag mostly-packed all of the time, and just add the few items I don't have duplicates off right before we leave.

I've worked out twice this week, and I even took my first Zumba class yesterday (which was awesome)! We are especially excited to, once again, have a pool we can take the kids to whenever. They both love to swim and we have missed that. I plan to sign Caleb up for group swim lessons next week, in additoin to taking them both swimming once or twice a week. Dad really hit the spot with this gift!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

101 Dalmations

Caleb's favorite movie at the moment is 101 Dalmations. I remembered Cruella De Ville being a little scarier than she actually is, so after he watched the movie at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago, I went ahead and moved the film over to our "thumbs-up" list.

The other day, Caleb and I were chatting about the movie, and I asked him who he liked the best in the movie. He cocked his head to the side and thought about it for a minute, and then said, "I like Jasper and Horace the best." (Jasper and Horace are Cruella De Ville's thugs who steal the puppies.) "Jasper and Horace are funny. Pongo and the girl dog are real nice, but they are not funny."

I opened my mouth to offer some helpful moralizing about why Pongo and Perdita were really better characters to admire, but I really couldn't argue with him, so I just laughed and agreed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sharing a Room

A couple of weeks ago, Marcus and I moved all of the boys' stuff into the larger of their two rooms, which was formerly just Ethan's room. We put the crib and other nursery furniture in Caleb's old room. The boys LOVE sharing a room, and I really love having their clothes and all of their stuff in one room. It makes getting dressed in the morning and getting ready for bed much easier. Before, Marcus and I would usually each put one of them to bed, and their bedtime routines were separate (and often at different times). If Marcus wasn't home for bedtime, it was much more challenging to get them both down.

Now, I put them both down together, and Marcus joins in if he is home. The boys get their pajamas on, go potty, and brush their teeth. Then they each pick out two books, and we read all four books together. Caleb is into much longer books now (it usually takes about 15 minutes to read 1), so Ethan often loses interest in Caleb's books and looks at other books of his own. After books, each boy chooses a song, and we sing together. Caleb usually picks a different song each night, while Ethan alternates between The ABC Song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I usually pick Jesus Loves Me because I love hearing their little voices sing that song. Next, we take turns praying. Neither of the boys like to make up their own prayers right now, preferring instead to repeat sentences I make up. I lead them through thanking God for the fun parts of their day, asking for forgiveness for bad choices, asking God to help them or someone we know with something specific, and thanking God for loving them all the time, no matter what. I hope that Caleb will be ready to pray on his own again soon.

After prayers, we go for one final potty break, and then I tuck them in and sing a little goodnight song, kiss them, start their falling-asleep music and turn the light off. They like the door to be left open until they fall asleep, and I always oblige. Having Caleb and Ethan in the same room and the same bed has really strengthened their bond and improved the way they interact during the day. They still have conflict, but they are noticably more affectionate and eager to please each other.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ethan (Monthly Update)

Three days ago, Ethan turned 22-months-old. I waited until today to write this post because potty training has been going so well, and I wanted to give it a full week before I jinxed it with a blog post. (Some people would say that one week wasn't long enough to avoid a jinx, and they may be right, but I earned my reputation of impatience fairly and honestly.) I put him in big boy underwear on Monday, seven days ago. I decided to go for full emersion, so I didn't even buy any has been underwear all day every day and a diaper at night. He is doing GREAT! From the first day, he has had 1 or 2 pee pee accidents each day, and yesterday he had no accidents at all: he stayed dry the whole day! I have to prompt him to go potty about once every hour, but as long as I do that, he stays dry. We may be very close to having #1 taken care of. #2 is my goal for this week. I am SO excited that we may possibly be done with buying diapers! Perhaps this was a preemptive move (I'm rather notorious for those), but I returned a $45 dollar box of diapers to the store on Friday. (We still have 85-100 diapers laying around from opened boxes, but I wanted to return that one before someone opened it.)

In addition to potty training, these have been a very good two months in Ethan-land. I've already shared several cute stories about him in other posts this month (He Forgive Me!, Bare Feet, Bugs, Anything But the Crib, etc.), so I'll let you check the archives for those if interested. Something that didn't make any of those posts, but Marcus keeps asking me to put on the blog, is Ethan's response to the name-calling stage that Caleb is in. Caleb frequently says something silly to Ethan like, "You're a Doo-Dee-Doo!" Ethan immediately responds with, "I not Doo-Dee-Doo! I ME!" He says this in response to any percieved name-calling as well. Like if Caleb says, "You're a smart boy," Ethan says, "I not smart boy! I ME!" The finality of his pronouncement and the confidence with which it is delivered is something else.

Ethan is very into books right now, and new the past couple of months, he is finally letting us read all of the words and turn the pages at appropriate times. Always before, I couldn't get through the words before he was ready to turn the page, and he wanted to hold the book, flipping backwards and forwards through the book as he pleased. Now, he will sit in my lap or beside me and read a board book straight through (as long as there aren't too many words on each page). He loves books with repetitive phrases that he can join in with, like The Very Busy Spider. He still likes doing puzzles, though he is over the chunky ones...he likes jigsaw puzzles now, even though they are really too hard for him. He dumps out a 24-piece or 48-piece jigsaw and I sit beside him, giving him the pieces in the order they go. He turns the pieces around and figures out how they fit, as long as he has two pieces that will fit together. He's not yet able to figure out which pieces will and won't go together.

Daily, we are amazed by Ethan's cognitive awareness and ability to learn new things. He is quite the bright little guy, and I love watching him grow!