Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cuteness in motion

Christmas week Elizabeth came out of her newborn haze and became very interactive. She now coos and smiles and laughs, which the kids think is just wonderful. They all spend lots of time each day talking and singing to Elizabeth. Even Campbell gets in on the act. In the video, you can hear Campbell correcting me when I call Elizabeth by her name. He's convinced her name is "BeeBee" and we're not allowed to call her anything else when he's around. Ella is the one doing all the singing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The magic is still there

I was a bit worried about Ella and Santa this year. One day after school she announced that a boy in her class had said that Santa was really kids' moms and dads. I started preparing an explanation about how yes it was parents but big sisters have a responsibility to not ruin it for their siblings or else there would be no presents. But I stopped myself and asked Ella what she thought. Ever the pragmatic child, she said, "I think if you don't believe in Santa, he won't bring you presents." I agreed with her and breathed a sigh of relief.

Christmas morning, Ella hit our bedroom door with a thud at 1:00 am. She burst in yelling, "He came! Santa came. And he ate the cookies and brought a scooter and a pogo stick!" I told her to get back in bed and go back to sleep. "But I'm too excited," she wailed.

When I got up to give Campbell his morning milk at 6:00 am, Ella was peering at me over the top of her bunk bed rail, her brown eyes open wide. I told her it was still too early, and she groaned and rolled over.

The girls were so thrilled when they were allowed out at 7:00. Santa had eaten the cookies they had left and given them new cookies as a replacement. They thought that was the best thing and told all the relatives about it later in the day.

What with the new baby and all the medical bills we're dealing with, it was a modest Christmas. It did my heart good that the girls didn't notice in the least and were happy with the presents they got. Poor Ella doesn't weigh enough to use her new pogo stick -she needs at least another 20 pounds - but when I suggested that maybe we see if we could find a way to trade it in, she protested. "It won't be the one Santa brought me, and it won't have a red bow on it!" So it's sitting in the garage, unused. Since Ella was such a good sport about the pogo stick, I found a scooter on sale at Target last night and got it for her. She was so excited that I wanted to cry. She gave me the biggest hug and drew me a thank you note.

Lily got a scooter from Santa and a new princess dress and is in heaven. My mom also gave the girls each a little canvas bag from LL Bean, and Lily has been toting hers around all week. It has ner new spy kit and note pads and lotions and all sorts of flotsam in there.

Campbell wasn't sure who this Santa person was, but he did love the presents. In true two-year-old fashion, he'd open one toy and be so excited about it that he'd wander off to play, ignoring the other gifts in his pile. It made everyone laugh that he was just as excited about his new "shooz" as he was his new trains, which he spent much of the morning playing with while wearing his shoes.

It was a good Christmas, but I'm glad it's done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Better late than never

To say that I was having a rough time in the weeks before Christmas would be a bit of an understatement. I was completely overwhelmed by just about everything in my life - kids, house, work, battles with insurance, preparation for Christmas - and I was barely holding myself together. The seven days of sick kids right before Christmas was the final straw for me. I didn't have much Christmas spirit at all, which was a shame, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the lights and the tree and giving presents and baking cookies. But not this year; it was just one more thing on a long to-survive list.

But now that Christmas is over, I'm enjoying the aftermath. The kids are playing with their new toys and reading their new books. My parents are still here, and having two extra people to help manage the chaos has been wonderful. I don't feel quite so panicked on a daily basis now, mostly because I don't have any sort of deadline looming.

It's a shame I missed the fun before the holiday, but I'm glad I can enjoy it afterwards.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Same song, different verse

I thought we had finally beaten back the plague. We'd gone more than 24 hours without anyone throwing up. We'd been forcing the kids to wash their hands every five minutes. We'd been using copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I thought life was returning to normal, whatever that is.

I thought wrong.

At about 9:00 last night, I was in the office catching up on blogs, my sister was in the living room, and B was on the back porch. The kids were all tucked into bed and sound asleep. Peace reigned.

And then my sister yelled from the living room that someone in the girls' room was throwing up. It was Lily, and it was a disgusting mess. I'll spare everyone the details.

I felt awful, both because Lily was sick and because she had told me her stomach hurt before she went to bed. I patted her on the back and tucked her in, ignoring her complaints because she's been claiming that her stomach hurt all week. She's been desperate to be sick like Ella so she could lie on the sofa and watch cartoons and drink ginger ale. I figured her complaints last night were more of the same. Boy was I wrong.

Lily ended up sleeping on a pallet on the floor in our bathroom, just in case she threw up again, which she didn't. She came out this morning looking rather bewildered. It turns out she has no memory of last night's events, which is pretty funny.

So now she's on the sofa, watching SpongeBob and drinking Gatorade, and I'm back to washing a mountain of sheets and towels.

Le sigh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This is getting old

So it's been a disgusting week here at chez hok. Everyone but Lily and Teeny has been sick.

Campbell kicked things off on Monday by throwing up lots. He woke up Tuesday all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like he'd never been sick, but I kept him home from preschool anyway. We did go in for an hour so he could attend his class Christmas party, not that he cared about it in the least.

Wednesday morning I left him with a sitter while I went to Ella's class party with Teeny in tow. After lunch I took Campbell and Teeny with me to Lily's class party, which was held in the library at school. We had been there all of 10 minutes when Campbell threw up all over me and the library. I was mortified. Fortunately, several mothers helped me round up a plastic bag to put Campbell's vomit-covered clothes in and paper towels to clean up his mess. After that, I said a quick good-bye to a disappointed Lily and bolted for the door.

Campbell was droopy the rest of the day but didn't throw up again until about midnight. Fortunately, B was on duty at that point.

I woke up at 5:30 to feed Elizabeth and then started throwing up. I woke up B at 6:45 so he could get the girls off to school and then collapsed back in bed. B took care of Campbell for the morning and the girls when they got home from school as I staggered out once in a while to check on things.

Ella started complaining that her stomach hurt at bedtime, so we made her a pallet on the floor in her room with a puke bucket to avoid the splatter fest we had last time she was sick. According to B, she threw up tons in the middle of the night. So much so that he made her a nest on the floor in the bathroom so that she could rest between bouts. B, being B, took a picture. Somehow I figured Ella would be in college before we saw a picture of her passed out on a bathroom floor.

B was sick all day Friday and hid in bed while I held down the fort despite a migraine - only one parent at a time can be sick. It turns out grandparents aren't readily willing to babysit vomiting kids. Ella was droopy all day and took a long nap on the sofa, and Campbell was a horrible crank.

I figured today would be better, that maybe we'd all be on the mend. Turns out not so much. Campbell was horribly fussy this morning, and just as I picked him up to get him to stop crying, he threw up again. Sigh. Immediately afterwards he started begging for food. The poor little guy is so hungry, but I'm afraid to give him anything except toast.

Lily desperately wants to be sick so she can lie on the sofa and drink ginger ale and watch cartoons all day. B, Ella and I keep explaining to her that being sick means throwing up, but she seems to be willing to pay that price. I'm not sure how she hasn't gotten sick yet. Maybe she'll be lucky and avoid it all. I'm praying to the FSM that she does.

I'm at the end of my rope, which was pretty short to begin with. I'm doing load after load of laundry and spraying the house down with Lysol and scrubbing surfaces with bleach. I've left the house twice in the past three days, all for stupid errands - like buying more laundry soap.

I may not recover from this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Middle Child

Lily has been having a bit of a tough time adjusting to the new family dynamics. She's not the oldest, she's not the baby, and she's not the only boy - she's really the middle child.

We haven't seen any overt jealousy, especially not aimed at Elizabeth. But, as when Campbell was born, Lily has reacted by becoming even more whiny and clingy. She cries about EVERYTHING some days - her shoelaces are tied wrong, she doesn't like her cereal, she doesn't want to clear the table, she can't find the right color of marker. You get the idea.

She also wants to be in my lap or next to me all the time. And she begs me to pick her up in a baby voice that is like nails on a chalkboard. When Campbell was born, I figured she was begging for the extra hugs and snuggles because she needed reassurance, so every time she asked, I'd pick her up or put her in my lap, figuring that it would reassure her that I really do love her and the clingyness would dissipate. Turns out, not so much. It just made her clingier.

When we went through this after Campbell's birth, I discovered that the best thing to do when Lily said, "Me want to sit wif yooo," was to make her repeat the request in a big-girl voice and then give her a hug and kiss and send her on her way. I also learned that giving her unsolicited hugs and kisses and snuggles helped a lot too. I think my giving her love at unexpected times really helped her feel more secure.

We're working our way through her clingyness again, and I'm worried that I've permanently scarred my daughter by making her the middle child.

One thing that Lily really loves is to hold Elizabeth, and it turns out that she's really good at getting the baby to settle down and fall asleep. Lily pats her back and sings little songs, and Elizabeth conks right out. So now, when I'm making dinner or folding laundry or something and Elizabeth wants to be held, I give her to Lily, which makes Lily feel very special.

Lily held Elizabeth for me the other night while I made dinner, and the scene was just too sweet. I had to take pictures.

Elizabeth reached out in her sleep and grabbed Lily's nose, which Lily thought was very funny. After I took the picture Lily moved Elizabeth's hand so she could breathe.

Ella and Campbell have a pretty strong bond; she is definitely his favorite big sister, which upsets Lily from time to time. I'm hoping that Lily will be Elizabeth's favorite so that everyone is evenly matched.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It all went downhill from there

Yesterday morning started out reasonably well. The girls got up and ate breakfast without too much fuss. I only had to fight with Ella over her clothes; Lily calmly put hers on, perhaps learning from her sister's mistakes.

After I got the girls out the door and Campbell and Elizabeth settled with B, I went out for a run and froze my a$$ off. It had gotten colder in the two hours since I had been out to send the girls to school.

Even though it was cold, I'm glad I got the run in, because everything went to hell as soon as I walked back in the door. Campbell came running up to me, wrapped his arms around my knees and barfed all over my legs. While gagging, I managed to get him cleaned up and dressed in new jammies - fortunately the mountain of laundry that I hadn't managed to fold yet was still in the living room. I shucked off my barf-covered running pants and grabbed some pajamas for myself while yelling to B for backup.

Campbell threw up a couple more times during the morning, on me each time. Fortunately, I managed to keep him from throwing up on the furniture. But my pile of laundry grew exponentially during the morning as I had to keep cleaning up messes.

Elizabeth added to the fun by deciding that she needed to be held ALL.DAY.LONG. And only by me. B didn't count.

By the time 6:00 p.m. rolled around, I was sitting on the sofa in tears, with Campbell crying to be held and Elizabeth fussing in my lap. At that point I gave up and turned on the dreaded Dora to make Campbell happy.

Fortunately, things are off to a better start today. After refusing to go to sleep until after 11:00 last night, Elizabeth slept through the night. The girls got out the door without many problems, and Campbell seems to have made a full recovery.

I'm knocking on every piece of wood I can find in hopes that it lasts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It did not go well

I've been wanting to take pictures for a week, but I had to wait for the latest bruise on Campbell's head to mostly heal and for Ella's snaggle tooth to finally fall out. Today it seemed like the stars aligned for me.

First, I started with just the big girls, who loved getting into their fancy dresses, which they picked out themselves.

Then we added Elizabeth, who cooperated by sleeping.

Next, we tried to get Campbell into the picture. Even with the singing snowman, he wanted no part of the proceedings.

So I joined the group even though I was dressed in ratty jeans and a t-shirt. My hair was a mess and I wasn't wearing make-up, but I was willing to take one for the team if it meant a picture of all the kids. Campbell kept crying, so we gave up and went inside for snacks.

We made another attempt later in the day, with the singing snowman still in tow. I think this is our winner - everyone but Elizabeth is looking at the camera, and no one is crying.

When Campbell started running around, I gave up.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All she wants for Christmas

Is her three front teeth.

After several weeks of having just one front tooth hanging down, making her look like a cute little pirate, Ella finally lost her other front tooth. It was a tremendous ordeal; the tooth was so loose that it was just hanging there. I offered Ella $10 on top of whatever the Tooth Fairy brought her to just pull it out alreadym but she didn't go for it, which puzzled me. She pulled out the previous six loose teeth without any help from us.

One night Ella wiggled the front tooth so much that she bled all over the place, and she still wouldn't just pop it out or let either of us do it.

Wednesday night the tooth came out in her sleep, solving the problem. Fortunately, Ella didn't swallow the tooth while she was sleeping.

Thursday night she set out her tooth pillow with a Christmas letter for the Tooth Fairy and another sheet of paper asking for a note back, "Pleese." The Tooth Fairy, in her best swirly cursive, wrote her a little note back and dipped her wings in the cup of water Ella left out, turning the water slightly greenish. Ella was so thrilled when she woke up and saw evidence of the Tooth Fairy's visit that she didn't even think to check for the four quarters the Tooth Fairy left behind.

I love that the magic is still alive and well in our house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watch the video

Really, you have to watch the video I posted below. Lily and I had a lot of fun making it, giggling wildly the whole time. I love the expression on Elizabeth's face - I picked the perfect picture of her.

My mom made one of my dad, but I think he might disown me if I post it.

Elf Dancing

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


There's a saying in Texas that goes something like, "Don't like the weather? Wait a minute, it'll change." Yesterday was a prime example. We had a high of 81 in the afternoon, and then at 9:00 pm, it snowed. In between we had incredible wind and thunderstorms.

The kids were delirious with excitement this morning when they saw the snow/ice on the cars and the back porch. I don't envy the teachers at school today - they have 200 kids thrilled that it snowed. They were all a bit wild in the halls before the bell rang.

We don't get snow here very often, maybe every other year, and it rarely amounts to much. So we have to enjoy it when we can.

Ella and Lily hustled through their morning routines so they could go out and play before we left for school. They each made a little snowball.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yay Teeny Bit!

Elizabeth had her check-up this morning, and the news is all good. She now weighs 8 pounds, 12 ounces, which means she has gained more than four pounds in the 8 weeks since we brought her home from the hospital. She weighs enough that she is on the regular growth chart for weight now, not the preemie chart.

Unfortunately, she had to have her shots, which she did not like one bit. I haven't heard her scream that hard since was in the hospital and the nurse was putting in her feeding tube. But once the shots were over, Elizabeth calmed down pretty quickly. Now she's asleep in her car seat, recovering from this morning's trauma.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm back

After successfully completing NaBloPoMo without any problem, I suddenly got hit with a bit of writer's block last week. I just couldn't think of anything to write about. But I think it's over. There are plenty of posts brewing.

Poor B is having a hard time with the BCS game line up. He went to UT, which has a long-standing rivalry against Oklahoma, so he can't possibly cheer for them. And after 14 years of making fun of my alma mater, UF, he can't possibly cheer for the Gators. He's decided to just not watch the game. He's not the biggest football fan, so it's not a huge sacrifice for him.

But all the kids will be getting new Gator shirts in their Christmas bundles this year.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Things I've done

Becca at Forward Motion posted this meme, and I thought I'd steal it.

Things I've Done (In Bold)
1. Started my own blog (two, in fact - this one and my book blog)
2. Slept under the stars (as long as camping counts)
3. Played in a band (no musical ability whatsoever)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (In the wake of 9/11 and the Indonesian Tsunami)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (When you grow up in Florida, it's pretty much required)
8. Climbed a mountain (Sleeping Beauty Mountain in the Adirondacks, twice, and Stone Mountain in Georgia, but I'm not sure that counts)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (see number 3)
11. Bungee jumped (no way in hell)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea. (We used to go to the beach to watch storms)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I was five or six, and my dad took me to the top. At first I refused to look out because I was scared.)
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (Two)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (there were times during my coaching days when I saw the sun rise and set on the same day)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (But I have seen Mennonite communities)
36. Taught myself a new language (Provided HTML counts)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (briefly, in my 20s)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (Not the original - The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, where I grew up, has one of two original casts made from the statue)
41. Sung karaoke (Again, see number 3)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (many, many times)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (actually a pencil sketch)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (No, but my mom has)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (my own freelance business)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (I believe the technical term was "downsized)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (collar bone as a child)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (And I was terrified the entire time)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (Three years ago, for the first time)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (I used to row competitively, and my crew was on the front page of the Statesman for an article about a local regatta)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (Outside, and I shook my fist at the current occupant)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (but I witnessed my grandfather's dead animals being dressed)
88. Had chickenpox (Never had them, and now thanks to the vaccine, I probably never will)
89. Saved someone’s life (While running a summer swim lesson program, I fished a little girl out of the pool. Her instructor had turned her back on the child, who went under. When I pulled her out her lips were blue and she vomited all over me.)
90. Sat on a jury (I really, really want to, though)
91. Met someone famous (David Sedaris, and I was so star struck I almost couldn't talk)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (Four, actually)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant (as a child, at Busch Gardens)

There, 54 out of 100. It's obvious that I need to travel more.


Elizabeth spent most of Thanksgiving asleep in someone's arms. This was one of the rare times that I got to hold my own baby.

I wanted a good picture of Elizabeth in her matching hat and sweater. I tried propping her up on the sofa, but she kept sliding sidewards.

Elizabeth is now 8 weeks old. I've decided to take a picture of her next to Lily's Bitty Baby doll each month to mark her growth. When we brought Elizabeth home from the hospital, she was smaller than the doll, but now she's finally bigger. No more sharing clothes, I guess.
I weighed Elizabeth in a highly non-precise fashion the other night. I stepped on our scale, which is wildly inaccurate because Campbell likes to use it as a trampoline, while holding Elizabeth. Then I weighed myself without her. She's approximately 8 pounds - the little chunk. She's got little rolls on her legs and wrists now and a double chin. She's obviously faring well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The first run

When Elizabeth was born, I set December 1 as my "First Run" day, and I managed to pull it off. After I did carpool duties, I left Campbell and Elizabeth with B and headed out for a short run. It wasn't pretty or fast, but I managed to run/walk, with more running than walking, for a mile and half. I even managed to do strides at the end.

I'm a long way from being in shape, but I have to start somewhere. At least I didn't fall flat on my face like I did on my first run after having Campbell.