Friday, December 30, 2022

5 on a Friday: Stuff and Nonsense Edition

 1. Weird creeping virus of doom and little sleep: Minnie coughed herself awake in the middle of the night a couple of days before Christmas, and I really wanted to bring her to the pediatrician when the office opened … only it didn’t open because of bad weather. She came in bed with me at 4am because I was freaked out listening to her cough on the monitor and we slept ok. She was fine the next day— runny nose, low grade fever, but the barking nature of her cough went away and she just sounded kind of congested. I got sick Christmas evening and felt yucky all day on the 26th— low grade fever, body aches, etc. Coop kind of felt bad on the 27th— no fever, but a headache which is his first symptom all the time. SO ANYWAY. I thought it was the same crud and had moved through us (Harry felt like I felt on the 20-21 and stayed home from school, then Minnie on the 23rd, then me, then Coop) but then Minnie got sick again the other day. She was better all day yesterday (no fever, nose dried up considerably), but then at 5 am, she coughed and coughed and coughed- so much that I got nervous listening to her on the monitor and brought her to bed. She yelled at me that it was WAKED UP TIME and she was ALL WAKED UP and her TUMMY IS ALL FULL OF SLEEP and IT NOT BE FAIR for almost 40 minutes, but then she passed out for an hour THANK GOODNESS. Here she is now, and I am calling the pediatrician’s office as soon as it opens:

The Encanto house travels where she travels.

2. So much unspent FSA money that I must spend ASAP.  In 2021, we didn’t take out enough FSA money, because Harry had a pericardial effusion and needed eleventy billion echocardiograms, and he had braces, and Dorothy got braces, etc etc etc. So for 2022, we both maxed out our deductions and we didn’t use them. I mean thankfully, right? (Although Harry did have a pericarditis flare, but it happened on the weekend, so he went to the ER, and we only had to pay our normal ER copay instead of co-insurance on the echo and the doc visit plus money toward our max out of pocket deduction which is how it’s billed when we go to the cardiologist— HOW EFFED UP IS THAT?? And we have really excellent insurance. But still! It, like, rewards us for seeking primary care in the ER— WHAT THE HECK?) Which brings us to me yesterday, buying $500 worth of fancy tooth brushes and bleaching gels at the dentist. And to Ben today taking Cooper to the ortho for his braces (even though really he needs to have his teeth cleaned first because they are really stained (from what I don’t know- tooth brushing ennui?)). In retrospect, I could have been billing Minnie’s diaper subscription to that account and buying my awesome thickening shampoos and retinol, plus the billion N95s we used to make the kids wear every single place they went but don’t anymore (see item 1). I also could probably use some prescription sunglasses and several more pairs of readers to lose, but I didn’t realize how much money was sitting there until a couple months ago. Oops. Also, we scaled back our deductions for next year, which feels like asking for medical bad luck, but this was feels way too wasteful.

It’s Bluetooth enabled so it can offer me toothbrushing advice which seems unnecessarily invasive.

3. Dorothy got bangs. She brought in a Taylor Swift pic for inspiration, and her stylist nailed it
She is clearly feeling it.

4. Jack and I kicked Christmas to the curb. He helped me rip the outdoor lights out of the front yard tree with a cherry picker, and then we wrestled the lights off the indoor tree and threw it outside. We packed away all the breakables, and there are no knick-knacks anywhere and I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

5.  We turned the dining room table. The whole room feels bigger. WHY HAVE WE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE?? We also left the couch and table and bench where we put them to accommodate the tree, and the whole space works better. ELEVEN YEARS and we never considered this arrangement? What.

Don’t be distracted my my walking get up (IT WAS COLD); just look at the table

Now it’s vertical and there’s so much more room everywhere

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Yesterday, a magical time capsule of a day

 Ben worked for like 15 hours yesterday AWAY FROM THE HOUSE which is very Before Times in and of itself. He hosted a work holiday party after being on campus all day, so he left before the kids were all up and came home right in time for Minnie's bedtime.

To make things even more nostalgic, the kids are all home for winter break. Jack had early morning dive practice, but otherwise we were just all home together like back in the endless day. We had a full table for lunch! The 3 little kids and I went to Target to spend their Christmas money and shop aimlessly! Everyone lingered in their PJs fighting lazily all morning! It was just like old times.

I decided to take Dorothy and Cooper to see the new Puss in Boots movie (mostly because I did not have 3 freaking hours to see Avatar, and Black Panther showtimes were weird) even though we could have just rented it on Amazon. Jack tagged along because the movie theater! Is there anything more nostalgic than the movie theater?! We bought tickets the day before for a nap time show, buying them early so we could score our favorite seats in the exact middle of the second-to-last row. I made everyone buy a box of movie candy at Target for $1 because it's like $6.95 at the theater, and they grumbled about it just like they used to. I did buy giant fountain sodas (gasp!), an extra-large tub of popcorn with butter (that gave Cooper a terrible stomach ache because OMG that butter), and a pizza when we got there, though.

 I assumed the movie would be terrible (which was fine with me-- taking the kids to see terrible movies used to be my number one way to kill an afternoon when I had a houseful of tinies) and I could nap, but it was actually ... kind of cute, and I mostly stayed awake.

Which brings me to the fly in our ointment-- Minnie also stayed awake at home with Harry because she spiked a fever ad started leaking out of her nose and eyes (she is SO GOOPY). She actually coughed herself awake moments after we left the house, so Harry's afternoon changed from playing Xbox with a baby monitor next to him to playing with a sick, sad two-year-old who was pretty pissed off to find no one else home. He's such a great kid (no sarcasm).

We got home to a messy house and tons of laundry to fold, so I did general housework with everyone underfoot-- so nostalgic. We had bacon, eggs, and pancakes for dinner, and Harry ditched us to have dinner with friends and go see a hockey game WHO CAN BLAME HIM? Jack helped me clean up and watch Minnie while Dorothy and Cooper had some sort of death match downstairs (don't ask; don't tell), and Ben came home like a conquering hero to clean up the basement while I sat in silence gearing up to dose Minnie with yucky meds (Tylenol-- she's very dramatic and also not in the mood for any of my ministrations after a COVID test) and slog through bath and bedtime. 

BUT I MADE IT! I dozed on the couch while Ben and Jack watched Willow and we waited for Harry to come home, and I went to sleep happy to have had one more day home with little kids driving me semi-nuts.

Before she dissolved into snot and sadness, Minnie spent her Christmas money very decisively:

She has really done a number on her sweet little room lately

Lunch. Dorothy and I had already moved on to the fudge course

A slightly creepy doll

Movie crew

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

That’s a Wrap on Hanukkah (Monday— Monday was a wrap on Hanukkah)

 It’s like I want to be an adult who eats sensibly, but also Ben put a huge box of Frango mints in my stocking, and I made two pumpkin pies.

Lunch dessert:

Do real grow ups even eat lunch dessert? Also, do they buy whipped cream in 3-packs from Costco because it is coca season? Like, I doubt it.

Ok. Let’s talk K-cups. Are there any that taste good? I LOVE drinking a fast cup of coffee the minute my eyes open, especially when I need to get up and work out first thing because Ben has to work and kid duty will descend upon me, but K cup coffee is… not amazing. I have Starbucks veranda pods right now, and they are completely OK, but is anything better than OK in your opinion?

I think Minnie has started pulling her hair out again. GAH— I really thought she was done with that, but she has some spiky regrowth, and one side has way less hair than the other. I am a hair puller and twister from WAY back, so I get it, but GAH.
(There’s really nothing to be done about it except offer her toys with lots of textures, especially some that are safe to sleep with since she does it when she’s falling asleep. Responding to her noises in the middle of the nought helps, too, which is why she’s STILL NURSING at night. Any other ideas?)

We end Hanukkah every year with a sibling gift exchange, and it is a delight from name drawing (out of a hat- this year Coop’s new CCM hat that really shows off his straggly hockey hair) to shopping to the big reveal.

While I was looking for that pic, I found this one of a toy that has already broken and has already been returned:

After the initial assembly, I t lived in our front hallway for a few hours, and it was a delight to hear Beatrix trot back and forth over it— worth the whole hassle. (Also, I love Minnie’s diaper and PJ’s in the foreground that she immediately shed to put on the dress and boots she’s wearing. And! That striped bag in the back is a festive trash bag that I bought on the advice of the Girl Next Door podcast to have prettier Christmas morning pictures— loved that tip!)

Anyway: Sibling gift exchange

Coop drew Minnie and got her a princess tutu dress and a play food barbecue set. BIG HIT

Dorothy drew Cooper and made Ben take her all the way across town for a particular knee hockey goalie stick that she wrapped in a park of Ben’s socks

Harry drew Dorothy and took Cooper to help him pick something out. They looked at clothes at JC Penney and Kohls (LOLOLOLOL) before going to Target and buying her Minecraft for her Switch

Jack drew Harry and got him a book about the Chicago Bears and baseball cards (not only did Harry get a complete set of bball cards from Santa, but also his entire stocking was stuffed with them— that’s all he wanted fir the whole holiday, the adorable weirdo).
Minnie drew Jack, and to be honest, right now everyone wants Minnie to draw their name because that means Ben and I are picking out the gift and will probably get an unfulfilled wishlist item and not something totally rogue. She got him the breakfast sandwich maker he wanted (that has been really hard to source because apparently everyone else ants one too??)

Honestly, I can sort of see why
I wanted a group pic of this completely successful gifting experience, but someone is 2

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

My Dad Would Be 75 Today

 75– wow!

That means it has been 5 YEARS since the big 70th birthday party my mom threw at their house which feels WAY MORE RECENT than that. But! If you look at the photos we got him for that birthday, you can see we are all MUCH YOUNGER. Also the birthday party!! When Ben and I got home from a rowdy dinner out with Jon and Caleb the whole outside of my parents’ house smelled like gas. Like, light-a-cigarette-and-we’re-all-toast level gas. So I made my dad call the gas company and my mom was SO SO SO mad at me because she had a houseful of people set to arrive in less than 24 hours. But the gas smell was a CITY EMERGENCY, and they ripped up THE ENTIRE YARD (my parents’ house has a  HUUUUUGE yard) to find and fix it. SO funny now, but very fraught in the moment. It was like 2am, and we were all awake watching a fleet of Bobcats destroy everything out the windows and knowing that Dorothy and Cooper would be up and at ‘em in like 4 hours.

But. 75. Wow. To acknowledge that kind of a milestone and not be able to celebrate with him is a lot. I miss him so much all of the time. I mean, I’m not walking around sad all day or anything like that, but something will happen and remind me of him, and bam! There it is— all that grief coiled up just under everything. Like, the (hilariously huge) wearable neck and back massager he gave me on what was his last Christmas was out of battery and I couldn’t find the charger, and I just sobbed for a second in my closet. (Where I found it under some boxes of badly hidden presents. It’s a really great massager.)

Ben and I planned to go out for a huge steak dinner to celebrate because getting dressed up and going out to dinner with my parents has been a favorite thing of ours since we were in our 20s. But I am a little sick with the low-level crud Harry and Minnie have had, and it is very cold, and Cooper has hockey practice. Instead, we will have vodka tonics and make his favorite fudge and scratch off some lottery tickets in his honor and maybe watch a bad movie or some weird documentary series and fall asleep on the couch, wake up, eat some more fudge, and go to bed. Which is what we would would have done with him after the dinner out.

Here’s the last pic we took together, Easter 2019:

It’s a pretty great picture, especially when you feel a little (or a lot) sad.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Merry Merry

 We had the most delightful couple of days celebrating with our little (ha!) family, but we absolutely missed gathering with extended family. 2 separate groups of people on Ben’s side have the vid, so no NYE plans, either **sad trombone** It’s also the first year that anyone we normally celebrate with is sick on the holidays, and we wish we would have celebrated normally the past couple of years, in retrospect.

Our Elves (plural— FML) on the Shelf brought matching Hanukkah jams this year, and I got ZERO pictures of the fam in them, mainly because Minnie just flat out refused to wear them at all.

And also because we had so much lazy fun, I just didn’t take that many pictures.

Where does one of us stop and the other begin? HARD TO SAY

We spent the 23rd making Santa cookies, which was perfect because Ben had meetings, and he is kind of Grinchy about making cookies (which, I get it— SUCH A MESS).

And not even really appetizing, on the whole
Minnie refused all help and spent like 40 minutes making a not-messing-around dough lump

Dorothy colored the buttercream frosting, and it has never been so vibrant.

I made a much more tame green icing
Elf at work
Seriously, she was SO into this cookie and clearly had a real plan.

I was delighted to find Santa hat sprinkles in my huge sprinkle bottle. Next, year I am buying more and doing at least one batch of festive dinos.

I made my grandpa’s spaghetti sauce and meatball recipe for Christmas Eve, and we spent the whole day just sort of hanging out at home waiting for it to be bedtime—- in a very festive, merry way complete with a toddler kitchen helper and a nap time movie with snacks,

Santa delivers stockings right to the kids’ bedrooms, and this is genius because it buys us time to open our own stockings together and just not have to get out of bed so early. AND! The kids have so much fun showing each other what they got and then laying it all out for us to see, too. Wisely, Santa brought Minnie’s to our room, knowing she comes in to nurse at the crack of 6 am.
Dorothy woke up at 1 am, investigated her stocking, and fell back to sleep until almost 7 when she scampered down to Coop’s room

He was happy to see her:
Harry and Jack spent awhile together opening things and then joined the little kids for some candy and knee hockey while Ben and I had coffee and got our bearings.

Present opening always goes slowly. We go one at a time and pause to delight and also to eat pull apart cinnamon rolls

Harry loved these tennis sunglasses

Coop has been asking for this book every time we have gone to Costco lately
Jack was thrilled to update his wardrobe

Dorothy was her very best elf elf and loved every single gift

Minnie liked these boots so much the would only wear them and nothing else
I LOVED the variety of Ugg boots Ben got me because I needed an update
But the real star was a dresser top coffee maker because sometimes I need a cup of coffee so I can get up and make a better cup of coffee. Hashtag too old to parent a toddler

Ben cooked a HUGE dinner (he wrote Christmas Feast on our weekly menu, and it was)

And we ended the night putting the little kids to bed and playing the games Harry and Jack bought us (with their own money—- so sweet!)

It was a perfect family weekend, and tonight! We are catching the last night of Hanukkah with our traditional sibling gift exchange. It’s a delight to watch the kids pick out such thoughtful gifts for each other, but it is also very logic puzzle-y to figure out how to take them all shopping in a way that avoids taking them with their random-draw sibling or the person who drew their name. Having an extra driver this year might help…