26 September 2007

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming!

What is it with mosquitoes and my son?
You may recall that last week, Judah had a bonafide shiner as a result of a bug bite. The day after the first biting offense, he was bitten again in exactly the same spot.

Insult, here's some injury for you: last night, while we were playing in the sandbox, I noticed a mosquito sitting in EXACTLY that same spot on Judah's face--right by his eyeball. I brushed it away, but it was too late, because the damage was already done: yet another bite, yet another shiner. But this one has swelled so much that I think his vision is slightly obstructed. Seriously--short of rubbing bug spray directly into his eyes, I'm not sure what I can do to prevent the mosquitoes from snacking on my child.

On a slightly related note, this isn't the first time Judah has had lumpy eyes. Judah was born with two plugged tear ducts. We thought it looked a little funny the day he was born, but who wants to admit their child looks strange when they've only just met him? (This isn't the best picture, because it was his left duct that was the most plugged and, consequently, the most misshapen, but just note that his nose is not in the way of your seeing his left eye. It's the lump.) But the day after, when we asked the doctor about it, she confirmed the plugged duct theory. Apparently, it is quite common for this to happen, but Judah's case was a bit more severe--he actually had a little lump next to his eye, which is not normal. Our pediatrician referred us to an Ophthalmologist, who looked at it for about 10 seconds before referring us to an ocular plastic surgeon. He said that it was a plugged duct the likes of which he sees perhaps once every ten years. In a normal case, the doctor could probe (or lance, I guess)the plug, thereby freeing it--a simple procedure done in the office--but this lump was not normal. My fear was realized when the surgeon we had been referred to told us we'd have to operate. He immediately set up a date for my precious little boy to go under the knife--almost exactly three months after he was born. He'd respond better to the general anesthesia when he had a little more weight on him, they said.

In the meantime, they gave us some eye ointment to stave off infection, told us to wipe the ever-present goop from his eyes regularly, to use a damp cloth to ease off the crust when he woke in the morning, and to rub it. Rub the lump. Massage Judah's eyeball, in effect.

Like any mother would be, I was thorough and disciplined in what treatment I could give. I wiped goop with the best of 'em. I rubbed that kid's eye until I thought I might press it permanently into his skull. I knew that if this lump persisted into his adolescence and adulthood, we'd have some issues to help him work through, but we'd love him just the same. And even though his face was shaped a little funny, I still thought he was absolutely beautiful.

Then, one morning, it all changed.

Judah was up before Charis, as usual. I dampened a washcloth with warm water for my morning ritual of wiping and massage, but when I began to rub, I noticed that it felt different than normal. Something was different.

The lump was gone.

I looked and looked to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me, but it was true: the plug had apparently passed. And for the first time, I was looking at Judah and knowing what he looked like--for real. I would have loved the lumpy Judah every stitch as much had he remained lumpy, but seeing him lump-free took my breath away. He was the most beautiful little boy I had ever seen, more beautiful than I imagined he could be. Of course, I called Abe and all the grandmas and aunties and uncles to tell them the news. Here's a picture taken the day the lump went away:

What a stud.

Of course, now the mosquitoes have taken to munching on him, so we're back to lumpy Judah. But he's still the most beautiful little boy I have ever seen.

24 September 2007

She Even Takes Out Her Own Trash

I read this entry on Beth Moore's blog today, and thought I'd pass it on.

County Fair 2007

Last Friday, we went to the fair. In the past, we've headed out to our favorite fair after Abe has gotten home from work. This usually results in a very short evening and very cranky children. This year, we used the good sense God gave us, and Abe left work at noon so we could head out earlier. This minor adjustment made all the difference in the world. We didn't take the kids with us to the fair we went to last Friday, so this was their first this year. It was also the first year the kids were able to ride any rides. Combine that with the amount of time we spent in the animal barns and climbing on tractors, and this outing turned out to be a big success.

Here's a photo of Charis hiding from the magic show. Except at the time, it seemed more like some sort of stakeout or imminent Old West showdown. "You want to pull a foam ball out of my ear? I don't think so, pardner."

Likewise, here's Judah doing his best glare. Poor kid. When this picture was taken, his big sister was riding in a very fun fire engine ride. And he wasn't allowed on, on account of the fact he's so little. In fact, he spent a good portion of the day at the fair watching his sister ride things, like...

...the old-timey cars, which she drove while her friend Emily went for a ride. Two blondes in a car together? It's a good thing the car was on a track and required no actual driving on Charis' part. That could have been a disaster.

...the swings, which looked a lot more fun than they actually were. She liked it for the first 30 seconds, after which, every time she circled around, she'd say, "I'm done!" And it only cost us two dollars to let Charis ride this ride for a minute and a half. That's not a ripoff at all, I think we can all agree.
...and the pedal tractors. Which also looked like more fun than they actually were, since these mini-tractors had the turning radius of a mini-tank. Turning 90 degrees required a six-point turn, so mostly, we pushed the kids around and just lifted the thing when we needed to turn. needless to say, we will not be purchasing one of these any time soon. Here are the things Judah actually did get to ride:

...his stroller. Doesn't he look happy about that?

...big tractors. He really liked these. When we'd pass the tractor section, he'd invariably point toward them, purse his lips, and...

...make a noise that sounded something like "rmbrmbrmbmrbmrmbmrmb", which is, of course, his version of the sound a tractor makes. You know I couldn't resist putting this photo in, even though I know some of you will think his hair has a distinct Farrah Fawcett-like quality to it.

And finally, here's a shot of Judah inspecting a pumpkin. I was trying to get a cute shot of him while he was playing near a hay/mums/pumpkin display, and he's so cute, he actually drew a crowd. No, really. A crowd. I tried to get a photo of Charis, too, but she's 3 years old and is therefore in perpetual motion. All-but-gone are the days of cute closeups of her--she simply can't stand still long enough.

So there. County Fair 2007 is in the books. Did the kids consume too much cotton candy, pop, and grease? Almost certainly. Were they still whiney and out too late? You know it. Did they collect enough dirt and dust on their bodies to require sandblasting? Almost. But isn't that what the Fair is all about?

20 September 2007

House Project Update

Well, reader (Mom). I have been meaning to post this update for quite some time now, but for some reason, I am suffering from a very serious gumption shortage, and it has seemed too time-consuming and brain-straining. So instead, I've been reading other people's blogs and watching Dora the Explorer.

But I've finally realized that this sucker a) isn't going to write itself, and b) isn't going to be any shorter the longer I delay. So here we go.

One nice addition to our addition is windows and a door. It's still not airtight, since the soffit (???) area is still wide open, as is my kitchen ceiling. As a related side note, it has been a terrible year for flies and fruit flies in our house. Yuck. You can see we're still waiting to install the window upstairs in Judah's room--it was left open to facilitate removal of demolition stuff, but now that the demolition is done, it can be installed any day. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but there's a skylight in the downstairs bath, so no windows on the sides of the house for that one, just in the roof.

Here's the big window at the back of the kitchen addition. It's a really nice one that Abe was able to pick up at an auction for a fraction of what it would have cost retail.

Here's a view from the south side of the house. It has also had windows installed: the horizontal window is in the future laundry/mud room. The large vertical window, which was actually a sliding glass door in its former life, was re-framed by our contractor friend and hung as a permanent window in the basement stairwell. I am really excited about the amount of light it lets into the area--you really can't tell there's any window there at all.

Here's Tim installing the laundry/mud room window. It's another nice one that we would not have been able to afford were it not for a business liquidation auction. Incidentally, at that same auction, Abe picked up some amazing real maple and birch hardwood flooring (which retails for about $7/sq. ft.) for $1.20 a square foot. It is better flooring than I even dared hope for. We've got miles to go before we can install it, but it's probably my favorite thing about the addition.

...unless, of course, we're talking about the upstairs bedroom. Sadly, I do not have a before picture of Judah's bedroom before we ripped it apart. In fact, here's a shot of Charis flexing her demo muscles. The room was green, orange, and deep blue with a (vague) traffic theme. It was cute. But the windows were oooolllllldddd and drafty, and the ceilings were really low with that horrible popcorn stuff on it. It needed to go.

So it did. Here's a shot taken from the same spot as the above picture. See? No wall. Judah's room (more specifically, the room that will be shared by whatever gender children we have the most of) will double in size, and it will get two new, huge beautiful windows and a skylight. We have sacrificially adopted the smallest bedroom in the house as our own, but in another universe where we didn't have young kids, this would for sure be our master bedroom. It actually has two levels to it: the upper level (which is only one step higher than the lower) will be carpeted and be the "bedroom" area. The lower level will get more of that fabulous hardwood flooring Abe was fortunate enough to procure, and it will be the "playroom" area. At least that's the current plan.

This is the view from the addition of Judah's room into the old part. Only one wall of drywall stayed, and we have yet to install the new window to replace the old one you see. Also, there's no skylight yet--it is waiting for some roof repairs Abe needs to make first. We've learned something about old houses--namely, they used what they had available and cheap when they built them. So in gutting rooms, we've seen a lot of questionable construction with very sub-standard lumber. The roof in Judah's room needs to be repaired because the rafters holding it up were recycled from a much shorter roof and sistered with additional lumber to make them long enough. It's a recipe for disaster, or, as Abe put it last night, "The bane of my existence."

Here's a cathedral-ceiling shot showing the new rafters with metal cathedral supports next to the old rafters with not much support at all. Those cross beams will be removed, and the old roof will also get those nifty metal support doohickeys. Then, the whole ceiling will be cathedral, which will make the room seem larger than it really is. I am prepared to be completely jealous.

In other house update news, Abe also got the old shower and wall ripped out in the basement and the new steel support beam put in so, you know, the house doesn't collapse. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of any of that. But since those things are done, we're now about ready to pour the basement floor concrete, which will be nice. Maybe then, they can build the basement stairs so I can actually get down to the basement without using a ladder. Sweet!

Well, if you made it this far, thanks for reading! I will continue to update you on our progress (whether you like it or not!).

19 September 2007

Charis Sings the Classics

Today, it was her special rendition of "Are You Sleeping?" It went something like this:

Are you sleeping
Are you sleeping
On the john?
On the john?
I am very sleepy
I am very sleepy
On the john
On the john

I think she's a gifted lyricist.

Here I Am!

Sorry it has been so long. I have been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to cover, and that has been the driving force behind my procrastination. I have no other good reason, unfortunately.

So in this post, I'll try to chip away at the What's Going On With The Kids side of the story.
And, you know, try as I might, I can't jump into that without mentioning our construction project (which will be fully updated in my next post), but here's all I'll say about that right now: We've gutted Judah's room (and by We, I mean Abe and Tim). Do you know what that means? It means Judah can't sleep in there any more until it's done (three months? six months? a year?), so we've moved his crib into Charis' room. They share a room now. Which also means that they share a sleep cycle at night, and must be separated for naps during the day--which in turn means that Charis is napping in our room, which means I have been getting exactly nothing done, since I'm trying to be quiet and not wake her. Whew. I wasn't sure I'd get that out.

Yes. I've been dreading this sharing-a-room thing for a while, so I'm afraid I haven't been very encouraging of Abe and his progress ("How about windows and doors? Can you do those first? Pour the basement floor? How about that?") in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. But there was only so much Abe could do to put it off, and finally, last Wednesday, it was Time. While the kids and I were at church, Abe moved the rest of the stuff out of Judah's room, including Judah's crib, and he removed the carpet and most of the trim. So we had to leap.

The bedtime routine went remarkably well, better than we had imagined; the kids chatted a little bit, but nothing too raucous, and they were asleep in no time. Huh! All that worry for nothing! we said. This will be a breeze!

Round about 2 am, when Judah woke up for no apparent reason, we weren't so giddy. Ditto that for 3 am. And at 4:15, when Charis turned on the hallway light and started to come downstairs, we weren't even cracking a smile. I took her back to her bed, tucked her in, and went back downstairs. But maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when, at 4:30, Charis turned on the hall light and began calling for me.

"This is going very well. I don't know what we were worried about," Abe moaned.

I raced upstairs, hoping to at least preserve Judah's slumber (since the rest of us were wide awake), and brought Charis in bed with us. She tossed and turned and talked and kept us awake until Abe's alarm went off. Then she promptly went to sleep.

On account of their bad night of sleep, the children slept until 10 am, and needless to say, naps that day were a breeze--for all of us. But you can imagine the dread I felt when bedtime approached the next night.

It was dread well felt: Judah was still up twice. And Charis came to sleep with us again, but not until 5:30.

"Maybe this will just take a couple of weeks for them to get used to," Abe suggested. I shot him my best withering look, which, considering my fatigue, may have looked a lot like drowsiness or a drooping eye.

But Ford was in his flivver and all was right with the world the next night--both children slept all the way through. No one cried. No one drooled on my pillow. And, while they have been getting up earlier than usual, Charis and Judah have settled well into this new arrangement, even better than we had hoped.

Okay, so nap time is still a little rough. Yesterday, out of boredom, Charis dumped a fragrant sachet of lavender and rice onto my bed and the floor. When I went to get her up from her nap, I found her lying prostrate on the floor outside my bedroom, her torso and head covered with her Blue Blanket like she was an ostrich hiding in the sand. Presumably, she found it uncomfortable sleeping on a couple hundred grains of rice. Princess? Perhaps.

In other news, we've got another shiner in our house. This time, it's on Judah. And, like Charis' black eye, his was bug-related. Why must bugs munch on my children's faces? Judah got bitten or stung by something about half an inch from his right eye, and it turned black and blue more or less immediately. To add insult to injury, while we were outside dismantling scaffolding yesterday, Judah got stung again in exactly the same place. What are the odds of that? Poor kid.

Well, there's more to say, but as you're probably already bored to tears (if, indeed, you made it this far.), the rest will wait for another post. I'm off to take the kids for the walk I promised them. Have a great day!

10 September 2007

My Little Geniuses

After my shower today, I popped downstairs to throw a load of towels in the washer, leaving the kids upstairs by themselves. Abe beeped me on the phone, and we talked for a few minutes before I realized that things were abnormally quiet upstairs, which is almost always a bad sign. So I called upstairs, "What are you guys doing?" To which Charis replied, "Just reading books." Yeah, right, I thought. So I went up to check on them myself.

And guess what they were doing? They were reading books. They really were. Sitting quietly in Judah's room, with no TV or toys out, on the floor, reading books. They weren't fighting or playing with soap and water in the bathroom. No one was climbing on the furniture or decorating the stairway with toilet paper. They were just reading.

You don't see that everyday.

04 September 2007

See You in the Funny Papers

My kids bring me such joy. They're constantly doing humorously memorable things, like this:

Yes, that is a potty seat. It would be nice if she would use it for something other than a hat.

And here's Judah, spying on the neighbors...

...and getting up-close-and-personal with the camera. Pardon the crusties in his cute little nose.
But very often, they do things that can't be captured with a camera. Yesterday, we were in the car on our way to the beach, and we passed a McDonald's. Charis piped up. "Can we get nuggets?"


"Can we get nuggets?"



She had spent the night at Yia Yia's house, a rare treat. I suspect she enjoyed herself, even if it was because she got an excellent breakfast: Charis was the first to wake up, and prowled around the house to see if anyone else was awake. Finding no one, she helped herself to a big bag of marshmallows. Shortly thereafter, Yia Yia came downstairs. "I did not know where you were!" Charis said.

"I was sleeping upstairs," said Yia Yia. "What do you have there?"

"I have marshmallows." Charis sighed. "I had a few."

At least she tells the truth...

03 September 2007

Somebody Call Rick Reilly

The longer I am married to my dear husband, the more I am exposed to countryboy--shall we say "rural"?--experiences I never thought I'd a) have, or b) enjoy, experiences which, in the end, I wind up loving, despite my urban background. On this list, we already have Mudding, Skeet Shooting, and Cow-Chasing. But those are topics for another post.

Yesterday, I added Enduro Racing to the list.

For those of you who don't know what that is (and 24 hours ago, I was one of those people), Enduro Racing is an everyman's NASCAR. Here's how it works: 150+ cars, mostly 4-cylinder beaters whose engines have been fixed to run well, all start the race at the same time, running 3 or 4 abreast on the track. The track we went to is known as the "fastest 3/8 mile track in the WORLD." To figure out just how much carnage that leads to, do the math--150+ cars running a 200-lap race on a track that is less than 1/2 mile long, or, to be precise, 1980 feet long. Cozy. Add to that the fact that, when a car is disabled, either as a result of a wreck or engine failure, or, as we saw, flipping over or losing a wheel, the race pauses for the driver of the disabled car to leave the track, then the race continues, with the damaged car remaining in the spot where it died. To put this into perspective for you, by the end of the race, there were approximately 40 cars in various states of disrepair littering the 3/8 mile track. The winner is the driver who successfully dodges these obstacles and completes the 200 laps first. In the race we watched, very few drivers completed all 200 laps.

Well, that's all well and good, but for me, the real beauty of the race lies in its participants and their vehicles. All the paint jobs were homegrown, the fenders crunched from previous races, the numbers mostly free-painted, and many of them had ephemera bolted to their roofs: Pizza Delivery signs, stuffed animals, rocking horses, Homer Simpson. Some had names, words, or phrases painted on them and they ranged from the poignant (In Honor of Jordan 7/17/07) to the cutesy (Daddy's Little Girl) to the pithy (U Just Got Passed) to the witty (4-Sale). But the two signs that held my attention were a bit more understated.

I noticed the two cars as soon as they drove onto the track--they were both painted in day-glo yellow. One said CPA on the hood, and that driver's number, fittingly, was 1040. The other had no number, just a simple "Steve-O" painted on the side. But I knew they were together, because they had lookalike signs strapped to their roofs: one said DAD and the other said KID. Now there's a bonding experience if ever there was one. "Son, I think it's time you put a roll cage in that car of yours, strapped on a helmet and a fire-retardant suit, and hit the track with me." "Gosh, Dad. That'd be SWELL!"

Because of their easily-spotted paint jobs and highly recognizable signage, they were easy to keep track of, and they seemed to stick close by one another. Periodically, I'd find one, and not the other, and panic--"There's Dad. Where's Kid? WHERE'S KID??" I did get a little emotionally attached. It usually turned out that Kid had hit the pits to bang his hood straight after a collision or change a flat, and I'd breathe a sigh of relief. Kid was okay.

But about 3/4 of the way through the race, the story changed. "I see Dad--where's Kid?"

Oh, no.

Kid's car was stopped at the side of the track, unable to move. He was stuck behind another disabled vehicle, and it looked as if there was no hope for him to get off the track and into the pits. Cars, by this point traveling at about 90 mph, barrelled past him, offering no reprieve. Things looked bleak.

Just then, another car nudged his rear. I was furious. Stop picking on Kid! I wanted to yell. And then I noticed that the driver was number 1040, the CPA. Dad.

Dad cozied his car up to the back of his son's, and then he did the unthinkable in this pell-mell, run-at-your-own-risk race: he pushed his son into the safety of the pits. The two traveled gingerly the 100 yards or so to the arms of safety, Kid drove off to his resting spot, and Dad traveled on.

What would be cool is if this story ended in a win for Dad. It didn't. Some guy whose car was labeled "White Trash" came in first. "Some of you are white trash, too, you just don't want to admit it!" he crowed.

And Dad, who had been running cleanly and fast, sacrificed his position for his son's safety, and ended up in the middle of the pack.

But somehow, I don't think he minded.

So if you're ever bored and looking for something fun to do, I recommend Enduro Racing. It's fun to watch, and you just might learn something about healthy family dynamics in the process.