Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

There was the Christmas that I knew I was going to marry Husband.

There was the Christmas that I did marry him.

There was the first Christmas for these guys.

There was the Christmas that Penny learned to walk.

I can't wait to see what this Christmas brings.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Recharging Rechargeable Batteries

Husband invested some time and money researching rechargeable batteries when the twins were born. We actually got double A rechargeable batteries that fit into size C or D casings that we also purchased - perfect for swings and later for 3+ age toys. In the last couple of months I noticed that I couldn't get the batteries to recharge. We had to throw some out.

That is pretty much how I felt too. No ability to recharge. Three kids, a job to go back to looming quickly, then femur break and spica cast resulting in a child demon who whines 24-7 I really, really needed a break. Fortunately pre-spica cast we had already arranged for my in-laws to fly in (yeah, benefit to Husband's weekly travel) and watch the kids for a couple of nights while we got away.

After Ned broke his femur I thought we should just stay home but we did a couple things right in the planning department:

1. We picked a close destination. Portsmouth, NH. We drove the minivan and our small car to Manchester and gave the minivan to our inlaws (complete with GPS to get them to our house). No flights to chase after, no concern when in-laws flight was delayed for de-icing.

2. We went during weeknights. Having Nanny April there when we left on Thursday morning and with us returning Saturday morning (we were home by 11 am). My mom agreed to help with bedtime Thursday night and the nanny stayed a little late on Friday. I felt less guilty by having the kids' regular schedule in place.

I can say this with complete honesty - this was the best weekend away I have ever had. First of all, no blackberry. I am still on leave (extended until Jan 31 for Ned's rehab) so I wasn't checking in all the time with work. Second of all, I planned some amazing meals out but other than that the only other item on our agenda - SLEEP. Glorious, uninterrupted sleep. Waking up not because the kids force us to at 6 am but because we were hungry and wanted breakfast. Have I mentioned sleep? We stayed at the Hilton for free (again, Husband travel) so that was great - we were in the downtown so walked most everywhere.

We arrived around lunch time on Thursday, stopping at Gilley's PM Lunch for an incredible burger (I rejected fries in favor of a second burger it was that good). Not quite ready for my scheduled nap we went to the Portsmouth Brewery for a beer. I ended up having two, we met a lovely traveling salesman (fancy foods) and had a private tour of the tiny brewery. Although not sampled the curried mussels looked amazing and were told that the fish sandwich is their specialty.

Nap, glorious nap. It was hard to rouse ourselves but we had dinner reservations at the Black Trumpet which was highly recommended from friends and Trip Advisor. It was great and even in jeans/sneakers I didn't feel out of place despite it being a sort of upscale wine bar. We split some amazing mussels in a beer broth and I had gumpo and Husband had fish stew - definitely a cozy sort of night. Then we hit up the Green Monkey for a drink - that was served with a little hanging monkey of course!

The next morning I dragged Husband to the Friendly Toast which had the most amazing breakfast potatoes. Then we window shopped and watched the worst movie ever (How Do You Know - do not go to it). We had early dinner reservations at Cava for our very early anniversary celebration. When I called for reservations I was told that they only have them for the Chef's Table (basically a counter at the kitchen) and I thought that sounded fun. It was amazing. The couple next to us was clearly just dating so asked no questions but Husband and I asked the Chef (who was young and cute, FYI) a ton. The food was amazing (if pricey) and we went back for a couple other options after we did the chef's tasting menu (we were torn between potatas bravas and the gnocci as our favorites). Desert wasn't so great but it was included in our tasting menu. I only passed on the scallops after one small bit (I cannot force myself to like it despite repeated tastings).

I was all for going to bed early so I wouldn't be hung over the next day but Husband thought one more drink sounded fun. We went to the Dolphin Striker which had live music scheduled. The Bobby Keyes Trio was quite good (sort of jazz/blues) but took forever to get set up and I fully admit I drank too much. It was probably the worst decision of the trip (including our awful movie).

We had free breakfast in the hotel - if I hadn't been hung over I probably would have forced Husband back to Friendly Toast.

Portsmouth is an interesting town. It is conservative and very white. But they are big into being local without a lot of crunch granola feeling that can come along with that sentiment. Unlike Newport (last year's trip), it didn't feel empty on the off-season, just quieter. I really liked it and would love to go back.

I highly recommend the paces we dined at and I am so happy we have a nice memory of this trip (if no photos since I forgot a camera). We may continue to try to get away every December or at least early January for a couple of nights. Sometimes having three kids makes this seem insurmountable but it also makes it completely worthwhile.

Special thanks to Bill and Debi, Nanny April and my mom Susan for helping out in our absence.

How do you recharge yourselves and/or your marriage?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spica Casts: Lessons Learned So Far

Are you wondering how the Esqs are doing in spica cast world? We are two weeks into Ned's convalescence and are starting to get a handle on things. The first week was mostly about pain management and logistical challenges but we started coming out of our shell during Week 2 (including a trip to see Santa).

First let Ned explain what he did to himself in this short video:

I didn't teach him to say "femur" - he picked up on it when I was describing it to so many others.

1. Car Seat. There is an expensive Britax kind you can buy but we just bought this Evenflo booster seat one - and didn't use the back or arms, just seat base. It was $50 and we can use it when the kids are older as their booster seat. I didn't want to have to figure out insurance logistics since we were being released less than 36 hours after admittance. Husband picked it up on his way to fetch us. He isn't in a five point harness and that makes me nervous but we need to get up and out of the house once in a while.

2. Stroller. Our insurance does cover a huge wheelchair but luckily the Spider strollers Husband bought ages ago are PERFECT. We have two and were using one for Josephine already. Ned has been willing to sit periodically in his wheelchair but he won't let us push him up to the table for meals (more on meals below). We'll see how much we use it in the next week and if we are still only getting minimal use I may return it to save on some healthcare costs.

3. Clothing. Ned sweats a lot so thus far we've gotten some larger shirts - size 4T- boys small (size 5-6) (he's in roomy 2T pre-accident). We got two button down and two fun graphic Ts that are long sleeved and then a four pack of short-sleeved tagless shirts. The cast goes down so low on his ankles that we did buy moleskin to try to prevent bruising when he flexes his feet. I am going to see if they can shorten his right cast a little when we see the doctor on Wednesday because he does have scabbing on his heel. Currently he is willing to wear socks because he is convinced that he is wearing boots like Woody from Toy Story.

4. Seating. We tried to come up with many options. We bought bean bag chairs - two so Penny wouldn't be jealous and we have a couch in our playroom that we have converted to a comfortable nest for him. He prefers the couch in the playroom for morning and the couch in the family room for for afternoon, sometimes spending a little time in his beanbag chair at the train table. Unlike many spica cast kids he is VERY, VERY reclined so he can't really move on the floor and refuses tummy time.

Train Table

5. Lifting/Carrying. The physical therapist (I had to ask for a consult) assures me that I cannot hurt Ned so we are going with it - just lifting him up. He is heavy but we are managing fine. Unlike most people we do have Ned sleep in his crib. It gives us adult space downstairs and him a chance to be in a normal environment. He does wake up occasionally crying/upset but he was always a light sleeper. Some nights have been tough (last night he was up from 4 to 6 am and then Penny woke him up at 6:30 am).

6. Diaper changes/hygiene. Our highest priority is cleanliness - any redo of the cast requires him to go under general anesthesia. I had thought this was going to be my hardest task but luckily Ned has been pretty good about it. He hates having his diaper changed and whines/cries when I do it but he is getting better about it. We have had a couple of rough "brown" incidents but I wiped out his cast and he doesn't smell. We wash him down every other night, including his hair.
7. Pain Management. After 3 days we took him off the Tylenol with codeine to help cure his constipation. He's been fine on regular Tylenol and we stopped giving him it as often without any negative effect. He will tell me if his leg hurts and I wait for him to say it twice to make sure he isn't just parroting something he heard. Interestingly Ned complained about his teeth tonight and not his leg - it's probably his 2 year molars starting to come through.

8. Food. I was told that his appetite would decrease but actually it is about the same as pre-accident. And he is a neat eater! No joke! He was always neat and it has continued so we've been pretty daring about his food - meatballs (in sauce!), rice (!). But usually it is a sandwich for lunch and I keep snacks pretty easy (like goldfish). Since his "movements" have been regular (albeit a little liquidity from juice) I haven't been too focused on fiber but he does get whole grains and fruit (not much of a veggie kid).
9. Activities. Television. Television. Television. Ned loves TV and we've been indulging him way too much. Sometimes he'll look at a book or play with a car or other toy but it is pretty short lived. He's never been much for coloring but we are trying to encourage that. Nanny April even got Ned to do a craft and we took him to Chilis. Penny has been pulling out baby toys that Josephine uses and she and Ned have enjoyed using those. Penny will often bring Ned things but he does have a short fuse. As I discuss below at "Discipline" both Nanny April and I want to keep Ned's life as regular as possible.
We've been mixing up ways he can reach his food and toys, including tray table, a bopi with a circle mat.
Here is one activity sure to please every toddler - spinning!


10. Discipline. For the first few days we definitely coddled Ned. He got to pick what the twins were eating, watching, listening to, etc. But it wasn't really fair to Penny and Ned became a whiny mess. I TRY to be better about giving Penny a chance to pick too but I have to admit I tend to convince her to go with Ned's choices if I can. When he is grumping about toys that he is playing with I do count to three and then take it away if he doesn't stop whining. For the life of us though we cannot figure out how to stop one behavior that started pre-spica cast: food hoarding in his mouth. We have done 1-2-3 timeouts - in his crib if he is being really awful and otherwise we leave the room and let him alone. I do feel for him that this is tough but he has historically been a whiny kid and I don't want that to get out of control. Any advice on disciplining immobile kids is welcome.

Al Bundy In the Making

We are looking forward to this being over.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Show Me The Mommy: Trip to Santa

We took Ned on his first outing since he was put in the spica cast. To visit Santa. Yes, I am crazy but since I'm on leave we were able to go on a quiet Thursday morning around 10 am and there was no line. And the Santa was nice and looked very authentic.

I will post our final picture closer to Christmas but here is an adorable one that happened after the "professional" photo shoot.

We let Penny play at the indoor playspace for a bit after photos. I tried to take one of me and Ned while he kept grabbing for the camera.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oldest Girl; Strongest Willed

Penny is a fiercely stubborn child. If Ned says "No" Penny reflexively says "Yes". "Stop" "Go". "Mommy does it" "Daddy does it". You get the picture. But unlike Ned she doesn't get upset when she is contradicting Ned - she just keeps going at it while he gets riled up.

She likes to lead you around the house by the hand so you will interact with her. Penny vastly prefers to play with you but sometimes she will busily have a plan in her head that involves moving items from one place to another (random to my eyes).

Penny is very clumsy, sometimes falling down while just standing.

Penny holds a grudge. If you put her in time out for an infraction she won't stop crying and demanding to be out.

And if you ask about an apology - forget about it. She is smart enough to try to avoid time outs by asking for (well, demanding) a hug. She also tries to manipulate you by forcing you to eat what she has on her plate and asking for just "one" of something off her brother's plate if he isn't eating quickly enough for her.

She has a wicked sense of humor - she takes the David Letterman approach of repetition. For example, in I Love You Stinky Face there is a mountain of hamburgers and Penny insists (to Ned's irritation) that they are cookies. She laughs the whole time when you tell her they are hamburgers.

Penny is super helpful. To the point of hindrance. She minds Ned's business as well as her own. It can be sweet when she brings him things but she hasn't quite figured out Ned's range of motion for picking up the toys she brings him. We often keep her occupied by giving her little tasks that make her happy and keep her out of the way when we are tending to Ned. She will bring toys, "cook" food on her stove, "clean up" (singing a clean up song while she does).

Penny is the slowest eater and a messy one at that! She always wants just one more sip/bite when you take her cup and plate after the timer goes off.

With Ned convalescing Penny has started to speak out a lot more. She has more space to run around like a maniac but she doesn't touch stuff the way Ned usually does. We have to be careful not to get used to that. She has insisted on taking showers instead of baths while Ned can't join her. Penny isn't as into the TV as Ned is but she will usually watch about half an hour before she is bored (unless it is Toy Story which rivets both kids).

She is much more into crafts then Ned is and is happy to sit still for long periods of time to work on crafts - provided you are right next to her.

Penny can be pretty focused on anything involving fine motor skills, like stringing beads.

She is very "girly" and loves to carry around a purse on her arm. She mothers her dolls/bears and puts them to bed and gives them tummy time.

She is an expert hand washer - not only reciting the ABCs while washing but getting every crevice clean. I can see her scrubbing into an OR.

Penny doesn't care very much what she wears for clothes but does have definite opinions about shoes and coat and hat. Unfortunately she inherited my super fine hair and so usually it is a mess. Penny insists on a barrette when she wakes up and we do her hair at the kitchen sink but after her nap it is always back to being a disaster.

If you ask Penny to say "cheese" she always scrunches her head into her neck and brings her hands up. It's adorable.