Monday, April 27, 2015

Kailey's Birthday Month

She's SEVEN!  How is that possible?  When April 1st rolled around, Kai looked at the calendar and declared, "it's my birthday month!"  In her defense, it is entirely our fault that she thinks of her birthday as a month-long affair.  We have gone a little over the top in  year's past.  And, this year was really no exception. 

We started the month celebrating with my parents, who were here for over a week, which was a huge treat.  And, Katie was here, too.  Kai got lots of books and art projects from Katie and doll house furniture from my parents.  But, more importantly, she just got to play and hang out with them -- which is one of her favorite things to do. 

The weekend my parents left is when we headed to Tahoe, which I wrote about previously.  Somehow Kai had fun despite the hospital drama.  She is such a good natured kid, and so compassionate towards others (especially her brother). 

The following weekend, we headed to Fairy Tale Town with friends and had a blast.  We also went to a birthday party for one of Kai's classmates and went to another friends' house for dinner and more playing.  It was a weekend full of friends (and, also, Alden got his burn --so it was also another weekend of worry and hospital visits for Alden... poor little guy!)

Then, the next weekend, was her actual birthday weekend, when Eric's mom came to visit.  On her actual birthday, we made cupcakes and brought them to school.  Making cupcakes on a Thursday night when Eric's mom had just arrive in town and both kids were wound up was a bit of a production.  I've been swamped at work lately, so didn't wrap up the day until about 6 PM, which is precisely when Eric, Kai and Eric's mom walked through the door.  Then I was fixing dinner, cleaning up dinner and digging into the cupcake project.  Kai was not happy about whatever it was I cooked for dinner (I think it was fish) -- so there was lots of drama through the meal.  By the time I turned to the cupcakes, it was almost Kai's bedtime.  And then I realized I was out of baking soda, powdered sugar and buttermilk.  It turns out you can substitute baking powder for baking soda (just triple it for the baking powder), you can make powdered sugar if you have regular sugar, cornstarch and a blender, and you can make buttermilk if you have regular milk and a lemon.  So, the cupcakes were saved, but they weren't really done until about an hour after Kai's bedtime.  She helped decorate a couple and then we sent her off to bed while I finished up.  It was exhausting. 

But, her birthday was a fun day, and worth the production the night before.  We met her at her school at lunch time, and all had lunch with her and her classmates (we've done this with her a few times -- it's such fun.  And, her school makes such awesome lunches for them!). After lunch, we stuck around through recess.  Alden was very popular with Kai's classmates.  They all wanted to take turns holding him -- which he quite enjoyed.

After recess, we went to Kai's class and sang her happy birthday and handed out cupcakes.  We picked her up from school a little early and let her go home to open her presents.  We got her kid-sized gardening tools and made her a raised bed of her very own where she could plant whatever she wanted.  Eric's mom got her a badminton set -- which has been totally fun. 

Once the gifts were open, we headed to a movie theater where we met Kai's friend Leanna (and her parents) and watched Monkey Kingdom.  The girls were SO excited.  At first, they picked seats in the theater all to themselves.  But, when the lights went down, the yelped and moved to the row where the rest of us were sitting.  It was funny.  I love watching them try out independence, even if it doesn't take the first time!

After the movie, we gave the girls some money so they could take photos in one of those instant photo booths.  They were both so hyper -- the pictures are just shots of their noses and their teeth (their mouths were open so wide from the hollering and hysterical laughing). 

Then we went to Round Table Pizza for dinner and let the girls play the arcade games.  It was a late night and they both had a blast. And, it was only Friday night!

We spent the weekend in the yard, playing games and gardening. We also had Julie, Malachi and their kids over and made chicken enchiladas and let the kids fill Kai's bed and do some planting . They all had a total blast.

Eric's mom left on Monday afternoon and I had several days of budget hearings and other bill hearings and meetings for work.  On Friday afternoon, at about noon, it suddenly dawned on me that the main event -- Kai's actual birthday party - was the next day. At 11 AM.  Of course, I had a few things for decorating the house.  And I had ordered the cake.  And figured out a live animal show to come.  And then figured out a REPLACMENT to that show when the original group I booked canceled on me with only about a week to go.  So, I had been doing a few things in anticipation of the party.  But, I hadn't really thought about food.  And, it was supposed to RAIN, which meant we had to take down all the paper lanterns and come up with a back up plan (I really didn't want 20 plus children in the HOUSE! But, alas, that was the back up plan).  So, I spent Friday afternoon running around and trying to get some things together to make the party a hit. 

And, it was a ton of fun.  It rained all Friday night, but was crystal clear in the morning.  We got up early and prepped food and cleaned the house.  I picked up the cake.  Eric put the lanterns back up and cleaned the yard.  We set up the food table.  We finalized the gift bags.  And, somehow, at 11 AM, we were mostly ready to go. 

The kids had a total blast.  They played on the swingset.  They seriously put Eric's construction skills to the test.  Luckily, he is a master, so there were no issues.  But, we probably had 15 kids on the play structure at once, with all the swings in use, and jumping, banging and climbing going on.  It was impressive.  We also had a scavenger hunt for the kids, that they got into.  Of course, I just printed up a list of things for them to find from the internet -- I didn't spend much time checking it.  The kids were looking and looking for a feather and finally one of the moms asked me if I had, indeed, put any feathers in the yard.  Well, no... I just assumed they would find one.  They did manage to find most of the things on the list and had a good time.

Then we had pizza and then the animals showed up.  Not all the kids were into the lizards, geckos, and snakes -- but, a lot of them loved them and Kai was very into them.  It was sort of perfect, because we set up the animals on the brick patio in the back, and the kids kind of came and went.  So, they all got a lot of time holding and learning about the animals -- but, in a very individualized way.


Then we had cake and the kids played more.  They got into the gardening and the badminton set and just had a blast running around the yard.

It really is a house made for entertaining.  That night, we went to dinner with Deb at a sushi place in town.  Alden ate two bowls of miso soup, a half an avocado, a huge piece of salmon and more. We were all duly impressed.  The waitress brought Kai a special treat for dessert. And, after that massive meal, Alden was all jazzed up and making everyone laugh with his goofy antics.  It was a fun dinner.

The next morning, we played croquet (Deb bought us a croquet set -- now we have every yard game imaginable!) and then she had to go.  Then we had some neighbors and their kids over for lunch and a playdate.  They have an almost one year old, and it was clear that Alden was THRILLED to be having his own playdate.  He kept going up to her and cocking his head to the side so they could be eye to eye and then GRINNING at her.  Such a flirt. 

It has been a busy birthday month with a lot of playing, a bit of drama, a lot of work and - mostly - a lot of fun.  But, seriously, I need a nap.

Happy Birthday to our wonderful, creative, caring, fun-loving daughter!!  We love you!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Accident Prone

Alden is at my least favorite age in terms of child safety.  He's at a fabulous age for watching his mind unfold, his language develop and the discoveries he makes.  But, children between the age of one and two have no understanding of cause and effect.  They have no sense of danger.  Every little shiny object is to be examined and ingested, if at all possible.  Every object that mama or daddy holds is something to be grabbed and examined.  It's exhausting keeping a one year old safe from themselves.

And, quite frankly, we've had a few fails the last couple of weekends.  Although, we are going in decreasing levels of severity -- so, who knows, maybe this weekend will be injury free?

Three weekends ago, we spent the weekend in a hospital in Tahoe (I previously wrote about that).

Two weekends ago -- Alden managed to swipe Eric's coffee mug off the counter moments after Eric had poured coffee into it, and dumped it on his leg.  He was in a sleeper, and we immediately held his leg under the faucet and ripped the sleeper off.  It was terrible.  Burns hurt so much, and Alden was screaming.  After holding it under the cold water for several minutes, we examined the injury and decided he needed to have a doctor look at it.  So, it was back to the ER, where he got special burn cream and bandages.  Luckily, the cream seems to have worked miracles and today, you can hardly see any scar at all on his leg. 

Last weekend, Alden pulled himself up on the screen door that leads from our sunroom to the concrete back patio.  And, the door swung open and out Alden tumbled, resulting on two cuts on his head and more tears. 

It's been a rough couple of weeks of Alden's second year on the planet.  Hopefully we can avoid any injuries this coming weekend as we celebrate Kai's birthday (again! It's party time!) 

Do a little sun dance for us -- somehow there is rain predicted on Saturday (rain - in drought-ridden California.  We NEVER have rain anymore... but, of course, the weekend we planned her party, it is likely to rain.  Which means 20 six and seven year olds tearing up our house.  Fun times).

Saturday, April 11, 2015


I took this picture of a drawing Kailey did at school.  The question was "why are you lucky?"  Her response:  "I am lucky because I have a great family and I have a garden" (spelling corrected).

We're lucky too. 

He's One!

We've started birthday season here -- which also happens to be the height of the legislative calendar as all my bills are up for hearing and the budget process in California is in full swing.  Add in Kai's school calendar and activities, tax season, Eric's work activities, Alden's classes, home projects, and just the day to day work of keeping everything going and... well... I never find time to write.

But, time keeps ticking -- and just like we were rushing last year to finish decks and wrap up all my work when my water broke at 1 AM on March 27th, forcing us to realize that this little person wasn't going to wait for us any longer... so too, he turned one and we somehow pulled off an amazing celebration.

I'm so glad we were able to throw a big bash.  At first I wasn't sure if we should -- because they are a lot of work, and he isn't going to remember any of it.  But, Alden's first year was a crazy year for us, and it was a good time to take a pause and just celebrate all that occurred this last year -- mostly, to celebrate him. 

We all feel so lucky to have Alden in our family.  He completes us.  He's our go-along baby... he has been so patient with us during all the transitions this year.  People at Kailey's school always remark that they never hear him cry or fuss.  He really doesn't cry much.  Only when he really needs something.  But, he does point and SHOUT with the best of them.  He demands the things he wants, pointing emphatically and if you grab the wrong thing he shouts again, thrusting his finger even more determinedly in the direction of the desired object.  He can be extremely insistent.  Insistent and laid back... is that a thing? 

He loves to catch people's attention and engage with others.  He has an amazing smile. Lately, he's been scrunching up his face, trying out new ways of getting people to pay attention to him.  When he does something that makes everyone laugh, you can see him light up, pause to think about what it was, and then try it again. 

My parents and Katie were able to be here for this celebration.  In many ways, it felt a lot like Kailey's first birthday party.  Except, this time, we had it at our house since our house has enough outdoor space to accommodate a crowd.  As Kai says, it's like we moved to a park.

But, we had a lot of the same people at both parties.  Sarah, Doug, Penny, Max, Brian, Deb... and then we had new people.  The folks we have started spending time with here in Sacramento and our work colleagues. 

We worked hard to get the yard ready -- and it looked amazing. 

Alden enjoyed his party.  We put water in the water table for him, and he had a great time splashing around with Will and watching (and idolizing) Max.  He LOVED the bubble machine and squealed in delight at the stream of bubbles. He loved being on the swings and just taking in all the people.  Alden doesn't get easily overwhelmed.  He seems to enjoy a good party.

I thought cake time might freak him out -- but, he seemed fine with everyone singing to him. 

It took him awhile to realize that the cake we put before him was all for him and he could just tear into it.  But, eventually, he got into the swing of the smash cake.  (there was a bit -- HUGE -- cake for the guests and a matching smash cake for Alden.  Too cute!)







Once everyone left, we opened presents. 

Alden loved each gift -- especially the drum.  I knew he'd love that drum.  He is such a musical baby.  When we have the music on in the car, he'll sing along.  And, one of the children's CDs has songs that end with a "sing and repeat" -- so the person on the CDS will sing a few notes and pause so that the listener can repeat those notes back.  Alden loves trying to match the tones and he has gotten quite good at it. 
He also liked trying out his new walker.

Katie was in town a couple of days after the party and my parents stayed the rest of the week -- which was nice.  We went to the train museum and went on a few other outings.  Mostly, we just hung around the house.  Everyone was fighting colds -- so, we tried to take it a bit easy.

On Saturday morning, my parents left and we decided to go to Tahoe for the night, to cap off the birthday week.  We packed up and found a great deal on a hotel.  After arriving, we got into swimsuits and headed down to the HUGE hot tub (more like a small swimming pool) and splashed around.  Alden was laughing and playing with Kailey.  After about 45 minutes, we got out to dry off and get ready for dinner.  At that point, I noticed that Alden's coloring was a bit off and he seemed out of sorts.  I told Eric I was worried about him.  It was like someone had flipped a switch. He had been fine, but he was suddenly lethargic and cranky in a way that is not typical of him. We walked to a nearby restaurant, and Alden just kept his head on my shoulder the whole time.  He feel asleep during dinner, completely uninterested in eating anything.  Also not like him at all.  We returned to the hotel and Alden continued to sleep -- although sort of moaning in his sleep.  We knew he'd been fighting a bit of a cold, as we all had, so we let decided to just let him rest.

About 3 hours later, at 10:30, Alden woke up vomiting.  It was gross.  We sprung into action trying to clean things up and assess Alden.  He was really unhappy and seemed to be having some trouble breathing (his nostrils were flaring and his little chest was working overtime).  We called the doctor and they told us to take him to the Emergency Room.

So, at 11 PM at night we headed to the ER.  They assessed Alden and found his oxygen levels were low (in the low 80s -- you want to be in the 90s).  The hooked him up to oxygen and did a chest x-ray and took a urine sample.  All of which was met with wailing, thrashing and howling from Alden.  It was awful. 

At about 2 AM, they told us that they needed to admit us since Alden's oxygen levels were remaining low.  For the next two nights, we were in the hospital with Alden.  He got a shot of antibiotics, and started improving after that.  Once he was able to maintain oxygen levels while awake, they let us go home and we rushed back down to Sacramento where we'd be at sea level and he could breathe a bit easier.

Not exactly how we wanted to cap the birthday celebration.  But, at least he's OK.  We feel so thankful to have this amazing little person in our life.  Happy 1st birthday, Alden.  We love you so very much.