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11 posts from November 2009

November 29, 2009

Four years later...

It’s hard to believe it has been four years since my phone rang with the last news on earth that I ever wanted to hear.  The irony is that I was almost not home to get the call. I was on the way to the gym after dropping Kelsey off at leikskola (Icelandic preschool) and realized that I had left my sneakers at home. I had decided that mom’s stay in the hospital was a wake-up call of sorts, and a good motivator to get in better shape.  I headed back home and was inside grabbing them when the phone rang.

I answered to hear my aunt's shaky voice.  She called let to me know that mom had died 19 minutes earlier.  I was stunned beyond belief, and everything stopped for a few minutes until I could come to grips with events enough to call Peter, get him home, and try to figure something out from 3,000 miles away from home.  Well, 3,000 from mom's home, and where I would need to head ASAP.

The one thing that stopped almost immediately was the blog.  Not just a few minutes, days, or weeks, but months before I started writing again.  I know some people  are able to continue to blog through their pain, but that was not me.  I not only was not sure what to say, but had little or no desire to write one word.  I had eventually intended on back-posting something, but never made my way around to it, figuring avoidance was a good tried and true method, why do anything else?  

To be brutally honest, it was not just my mom's death that quieted my inner voice.  It was the double (or triple?) whammy of Mom dying, learning two days later that I was pregnant, and having the pregnancy officially declared a miscarriage 5 days after Christmas.  To say it was a rough month is probably an understatement.

I was so busy the first few days that I had little time to grieve.  We had to get ourselves to the States immediately, and begin making plans.  I was executrix of the estate, and had a job that I had not foreseen needing completion for another 30 plus years.  Within a day of arrival, the funeral was planned, and a lawyer hired.  A day later I realized I was "late", and took a test.  Much to my shock, it was positive.  While we very much wanted a third child, the timing was nothing, if not, awful.

I was almost numb until the funeral was over, and others left or went back to their normal routine.  The quiet, the eeriness of knowing I had to personally wade through every sheet of paper in mom's house, and the realization she would never walk through the door again hit me hard.  Peter and the girls stayed as long as they could, but he had to get back to work, they needed a normal schedule, and I had to get to work, pronto.

There were going to be several more trips back to Pennsylvania, quite obviously, before I could finish everything, but I did what I could to keep busy.  I opened and closed bank accounts, met with the attorney and paralegal several times, returned new, but unworn items, began selling clothes I couldn't look at (outfits I had bought mom), gave 15 coats to my aunt for charity, and Freecycled the heck out of whatever I did not envision selling at an estate sale or anything that we would need.  

I think there was nothing sadder than returning a new pair of boots, clearly purchased on a happy shopping trip, in the middle of the Christmas shopping season.  I had to fight tears back to explain why I had no receipt, but, please, could Nordstrom just honor its policy and take the boots back?  I had no clue how much money would be left to pay estate bills, or worse, bills that had yet to come in, whether medical expenses or simply things she had purchased, but not paid for, prior to her falling ill.  The hospital bill was covered by her insurance, but it made me ill to look at the charges, especially considering that I ended up very close to suing for malpractice for all of the tests they didn't do in time.

I returned to Iceland after two and a half weeks of getting her affairs in order.   My aunt agreed to check on things until I could return, and the paralegal for the attorney had everything under control.  I think it was at that point that I really lost it.

It was an awful flight home due to extremely high winds and turbulence, by far the worst on Icelandair (not the airline's fault), and totally at the wrong time for me.  We had two aborted landing attempts prior to the pilots deciding to head to Egilstadir, a city on the eastern side of the island.  We stayed there for a few hours, and returned to Keflavik when the winds died down enough for the plane to land safely. 

I got to our house in Reykjavik, and I finished losing it.  The one person I desperately wanted to call could not answer the phone.  I was supposed to be thrilled to be pregnant, and instead was devastated as I could not grieve and be happy at the same time.  Additionally, I was extremely sick.  It began while I was still in Pennsylvania, but after Pete and the girls had returned to Iceland.  It was a combination of pregnancy-related nausea, grief, anxiety, and, once back in Reykjavik,  a lack of sleep.  I couldn't eat, and sleep was a complete mystery.  I had never understood insomnia before that time in my life. 

Sleep eluded me completely once I was back.  I don't know if the 22 hours of darkness contributed to it, or it was simply my body's way of reacting to everything.  I tried OTC sleeping pills, and they made the situation worse. Melatonin was by prescription only in Iceland, and I couldn't get an appointment at the base until the first week of January.  Ironically, I had no need for it by that point.

I got up each day, whether I had two hours of sleep (because my body finally just gave up and fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion) or none.  I took the girls to school, cried on the couch at home during the day, picked them up, and tried desperately to be there for them.  I managed to pull through, and even created a Christmas for them.  The worst part?  Putting out the gifts mom had shipped early, knowing the FPO might take a while.

Despite everything, I tried to look at the bright side.  The pregnancy.   I was sick early, and generally, that meant a healthy pregnancy.  We decided to announce the impending birth early, so as to brighten everyone's spirits, hopefully my own included.  Never mind my rule about waiting until the 3rd month, especially since I had already experienced two miscarriages at this point.  

Two days later we had our first, and second-to-last, doctor's appointment.  Due to the difficulties I had with both Caitlin and Kelsey, I was able to see  a specialist.  As is standard, she performed a sonogram to confirm the pregnancy.  This time, it was the opposite.  There was only a faint heartbeat, and the growth was not on track.  She had blood work done, scheduled me for an appointment two days later, and her assistant discussed my 'options' with me.  While not popular in Iceland, I requested a DNC, should the pregnancy not be viable.

I immediately was under fire.  Why?  Why would I choose that?  Why not let things go naturally?  If nothing else, I was insistent upon immediate testing, but I also had not slept, eaten (much, if anything), nor really felt anything for the past month.   Nothing sounded better than being forced to go to sleep, despite the awful circumstances.  More to the point, I did not need any more pain, and certainly not dragged over several days.

Friday rolled around, and the sonogram pointed out the obvious, as had the blood work.   The pregnancy was over, and the only decision to be made was what to do next.  I chose the DNC, and thankfully, the procedure was quick and painless, from a physical perspective.  It was uncomfortable when they forgot to ex-tubate until I was wide awake, but at least everything was over, and there were no obvious issues.

We received the results in the mail several weeks later.  Like my previous two miscarriages, this pregnancy was not meant to be.  A chromosomal abnormality not compatible with life had occurred, and there was no way the baby would have made it to birth.  It was a relief in some respects knowing that nothing I had done (or not done) had contributed, especially the stress brought on by the grief.

And, with that, you have my life  from 10:15 a.m. on the 29th of November 2005 until the next time I booted up the computer, and actually felt like typing a blog posting.  I wasn't 100% myself, but had begun to come back from the brink, and was able to plan future trips to the States, and try to work out a plan for everything that still needed doing.  The days were getting longer, I thought up reasons to leave the house (not stay in), and I began to look ahead and realize there might be good times in the future.

All that being said, if I could turn back the clock, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I would be on the phone with the hospital right now, begging them to check my mom.  I would plead with them to have a pulmonologist come in and test her for the clot we all knew was there, and if nothing else, perform emergency surgery.  I could turn it back further and fly back to make sure it was all done, even though she repeatedly told me not to, as she "would by home by Wednesday."

Instead, I am sitting here, laptop in hand, thinking about after four years, how happy I am that there is finally a stone in place.  My one omission during the first year was a lack of concern for a gravestone. Finally, it is complete, in its proper location, and includes pots molded into the marble of the base for plantings.  It is a beautiful stone, artfully carved, but necessary much too soon.  I am thinking, perhaps, irises?

November 24, 2009

I'm supposed to be

sleeping. SSSHHH (with your finger diagonally across your mouth as Nicholas would do)!  However, felt I ought to add a few photos, even though I haven't finished yesterday's post on Legoland. 

IMG_3416   IMG_1307  We are in Anaheim, having pulled in this afternoon around 1 p.m.  I spent the hour long drive up from San Diego staring at the ocean as it traipsed along to our left for a good half hour or so.  Then landscape changed from water to hills to palm trees lining the streets of Anaheim.  

We had originally thought we might squeeze in one more activity while in San Diego, but I think the early in the day, less-stress drive was a much better idea.  This also gave Nicholas time to help with "me-me" (doing the dishes), prior to checking out of the hotel in Carlsbad.  If you didn't know before, you can now tell that he has older sisters who enjoy a good joke at his expense once in a while.  I really can't wait to see the payback one day.

The other picture is Nicholas working on his Yoga.  Even toddlers these days understand the importance of being limber, and more importantly, moving around whilst confined to a car seat to avoid those nasty blood clots.  Believe it or not, I mean that in utmost sincerity.  Not that I think he is at risk, though it is a possibility, but I have known too many people who have had it become an issue.  Though to be fair, while we do encourage stretching on long car rides, this was also his sisters bugging him to do different stretches.  They think it's hysterical that he likes yoga, and try to make him show off his two positions frequently.  At least he'll be flexible and relaxed, more than I can say for me.

We got to Anaheim in record time, checked in early (a plethora of open rooms) had lunch and spent the day getting snacks for tomorrow, trying to swim (hot tub broken=short swim time on cold evening), and visiting Downtown Disney.  I won't quote Pete, but suffice it to say we were a bit disappointed.  Lots of stores with overpriced stuff that we don't need or want, but attract kids like flies.  Amazing how they do it!  We escaped 'only' spending money on dinner, but frankly, next time, we will probably go elsewhere. The name now escapes me, but it was supposed to be genuine N'awlins cuisine. Hmmph, not really, but I didn't have my hopes up, either.  Now, off to bed or I might miss the 5 wake-up calls  and two alarms we have set for tomorrow.  Think it'll do the trick?

Brick by Brick

When I was 6 or 7, I received a giant box of Legos as a gift.  I want to say it was a Christmas gift, but my memory fails me in remembering exactly when I received it.  It was a large, white, flat box, maybe 2' by 3' and 2-3 inches high.  The box had a plastic window, but was still very sturdy, and revealed a plethora of Lego building bricks when flipped open.  It was short enough to fit under my bed, after I had finished playing, but the bricks inside kept me building and re-building for hours.

IMG_3390  I remember that this set included not only roofing pieces, but windows that had removable shutters. Compared to today's toys that do everything for a child, it is hard to believe that was a delightful surprise.  I remember being so excited  that I could build a 'real' house, and wish I had held onto it for our kids.

They have their own sets, but there is something special about sharing your toys with your children, even if they are stored in a battered and bedraggled old box. Given that they are from Lego, the shiny bricks would probably look as though I had purchased them yesterday, and the kids wouldn't know the difference, but...

IMG_3377Despite my love of the toy, I was clueless about the existence of a play land constructed around the simple toy.  I don't remember thinking about it until we were in Iceland, and then began musing that we should get there while the kids were young.  We tried to plan many a trip to either Denmark or England, and neither one ever worked out.  It certainly didn't help that the Legoland in London closed for the winter (the nerve!) or that we never actually made it out of the airport in Denmark.  

 IMG_3362When we learned of our move to San Francisco in 2008, we figured we would just add the trip to the list. Not only was it not that far away (just 8 short hours), but given that Peter has immediate family working for the company, it seemed inane to pass up the opportunity.  And having been there, I can only say that I wish we had gone sooner, and I hope we will revisit soon.  We did not do it all, or even come close, but we all  had such a great time.  And, any place that offers waiting areas for rides with building stations gets an A+ in my book!

Legoland is not Disneyland and does not open at the crack of dawn, nor does it close at midnight.  The hours are (in our opinion) European-style and quite reasonable...unless you are trying to complete the park in one day.  We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and walked out not long before the park closed. Despite our best efforts to see a bit of everything, I don't think we really 'did' more than half of the park, if that.

    Perhaps our mistake (if you can call it that) was starting in Mini-Land.  Oh, after we stopped (well, paused) to see Santa and Thomas.  Part of Nicholas's new-found interest in trains includes Thomas, and he could not pass up a chance to see/touch/try to climb all over him (despite giant signs shouting, "DO NOT CLIMB").  We cut him a break this time seeing as how he hasn't quite started with the SRA lessons, and thankfully the Lego police were nowhere to be found.

Miniland = Fantastic.  Simply no words to describe the little land that they continue to build upon.  From the cable cars to the Golden Gate to Vegas, Washington and New York City.  It is absolutely amazing, and one could probably spend half a day just engrossed in the small world of colorful, plastic bricks.  Nicholas loved it (in case you can't tell) and we were thankful that the small metal garden fence held him back (just barely).

IMG_3393  We headed into the Imagination Center after finishing Miniland.  Peter and I were dizzy just watching Caitlin and Kelsey on the Bionicle Blaster (think Tea Cups from Disneyland, but made out of Legos), and this was one those moments that all of the sibling bickering became worth it.  Even though Caitlin was shooting looks at me from the ride (guessing Kelsey looked in her direction), they still had each other, and none of those "Who will I ride with?" worries.

  We followed along the trail and visited the Land of Adventure.  Cargo Ace was a hit with Nicholas, while the girls preferred the jarring drops of the Beetle Bounce.  Nicholas and I lasted about five minutes in Pharoah's Revenge as the 500 balls per minute flying at my face lost its allure pretty quickly.  He thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but Peter distracted him with a better option: food. 

IMG_3403IMG_3406The park food was decent, and I would even consider my salad to have been tasty.  Gordon Ramsay, I am not, but far better than the park fare I remember as a kid.  The kids each found something they liked, and Nicholas made short work of his fish fillets, which were supposedly hand-crafted from Icelandic cod. I am sure it probably was Icelandic, but when you know exactly what fresh Icelandic fish tastes like, mmm, not quite the same.

By the time we finished lunch, it was nearly 2 p.m., and the shadows were getting longer.  As it is now pitch-black by 5 p.m., we knew we had to be quick or miss out on a lot.  We tarried for a bit in Castle Hill, pausing to let the girls ride the Royal Joust (Caitlin regretted as it was "too young" for her mature self), and play for a few minutes on the Hideaways. Funtown followed and was a hit with the  the Factory Tour and a Fire Dada (truck) built out of life-size Legos!  

IMG_3408We raced to the Sky Cruiser that is routed over Funtown, and endured our first true wait of the day:  30 minutes for a 5 minute (at best) ride.  We powered our brightly, multicolored cars on a track while Peter attempted videos from below.  Both girls enjoyed the ride, but it was over way too quickly.  We ended the day with a tour of Explore Village for Nicholas, while the girls and I headed to the Coastasaurus on Dino Island.  We couldn't pass up the store, but didn't acquire much other than the Christmas Village (which I am under order to begin as soon as we return home), and a Bob the Builder set for Nicholas.  

 The end?  It was the end of our day at Legoland, and probably sounds a bit too idyllic for us.  Honestly, it really was a good day.  We started it off right with (large cup of coffee for me) and just went from there.  Yes, there was a weak moment, but not until the end of the day at the cash register when I heard the words "I want" and "but she's getting" about key chains and candy just one time too many and briefly snapped.  All in all, not bad for a 7 hour day at a theme park.

Now how did we get that happy, happy, joy, joy day (minus the key chain business?)?  Here a few tips, should you decide to go:

  • Do not be afraid to go in the winter (it's San Diego, you won't freeze), as you will be fairly sure to eliminate the kids desire to swim in the water areas (this means less stuff to lug around, and no wet bums in the car, a bonus!) and an emptier park (not empty, just not as full).
  • Bring the carrier AND the stroller if you have a toddler.  I love schlepping Nicholas in the Ergo, but he sometimes prefers to nap in the Bob, and, if nothing else, there was a place to stash the backpacks and such while we were on rides.  
  • Lower your expectations!  Seriously, I just wanted to get through the day (at first).  I was excited, but tempered it as sometimes too much excitement leads to crankypantsness.  Don't expect to get it all finished, and be happy with what you accomplish.  This is especially true if you have a wide age range in your group.
  • Expect to spend money. It's a theme park, folks.  I wouldn't recommend going overboard in the stores (you can get most of it anywhere), but don't beat yourself up if you go a tad over budget.
  • Be the first ones out!  Preferred parking rocks, and gets you out quickly at the end of the day. 
  • Save money on the tickets, to assuage guilt on other purchases.  Kids under 3 are free, and free tickets for older kids seem widely available.  Look and ye will likely find. 
  • You really aren't supposed to bring in food (unless you have food issues...do rules count?), but water bottles and snacks will go unnoticed, so take what you need within reason.
Last, but most definitely not least, send a big thank you to the person who sent you the free passes.  Auntie Lisa, we so appreciate the tickets and had an awesome time.  You saved us a bundle, and we all had a blast.  Gracias, takk fyrir, and as Nicholas would say in his tiny little voice "Thank you"!

November 22, 2009

On the Road Again...

While I spent the evening doing laundry last night to prepare for today's trip, and Kelsey convalesced, Caitlin was lucky enough to have "quality time" with Peter.  The activity of choice?  I will give you one guess (two words, first word sounds like 250 screaming teenagers).  Yes, he took her to New Moon.  My viewpoint is not important here except to say that I have no problem with her seeing the movie, and was especially grateful he was the one who took her.

Not only did I get more laundry finished (we have a laundry room floor again!), but I was able to avoid the likes of Pete's movie theatre neighbor who spent a better part of the movie eating Vienna Sausages out of a tin that rested on the belly.  Now, I have no problem with bringing one's own food, but, really, Vienna Sausages?  So, Peter (between his neighbor and the 250 other whooping teens) had a great time, and I have no laundry to do for weeks (I can dream, right?).

IMG_3359  We headed out later than we expected, but part of that was due to partial participation in the Basket Brigade.  With Kelsey being sick, we figured it would be better to do a drop-off, rather than have her get worse before our trip.  We slightly increased our donation, and the last I heard, over 800 people were going to have a hearty Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Katherine, the organizer, and her incredible efforts.  Guess we will just have to mail next year's donation?

IMG_3360  For whatever reason, packing seemed to take forever, and we didn't really get started until 2 p.m.  We drove through the Middle of Nowhere for several hours, and the kids either slept,read, or watched movies.  Other than this brief glare from Caitlin, they spent the day in fairly good spirits despite being trapped in the car for 6 hours, until we stopped in Burbank for dinner.

As we stopped at a light, Nicholas turned, pointed, and said, "Choo-choo"!  He was pointing to a Barnes and Noble on the corner.  We didn't see a thing, but figured the younger ones have better eyes, so maybe he saw a photo somewhere.  Then we remembered he did the same thing when we were in Walnut Creek last week.  We finally realized he either remembered buying the Thomas train at B & N, and/or playing with them, even though he has only been there once in the past 6 months and that was 6 weeks ago.  He is either a genius, or this is a product of having a blissfully uncluttered baby brain.

We arrived in Carlsbad by 10 p.m., not too bad considering the start, and would have been fine if the kids (Nicholas definitely included) were not extremely wired. Apparently, a 4 hour nap in the car does not bode well for an early bedtime.  On the up side, Legoland doesn't open until 10 a.m., so plenty of time to catch some zzzzs.  

November 21, 2009

You know that scene in Parenthood

when Steve Martin gently asks his daughter, "Do you feel like you want to throw up?" and she replies, "Okay!" and her head spins around, covering the room in vomit?  Put Peter in place of Steve, and Kelsey for (um, little girl who also starred in Curly Sue & whose name completely escapes me) his daughter, and move the action to our foyer.  To think we thought yesterday that Kelsey was on the mend...

She had a bit of a cold earlier in the week, and stayed home from school on Wednesday.  I tried to also keep her home yesterday, but she was perky as could be, and adamant about attending school.  She likes it (an alien concept for me).  She slept in a bit, went to school, and all was fine.  Well, until this morning when I felt someone hovering over me and woke up to her mumbling that her stomach hurt in a rather nondescript way (this could mean anything from a small amount of gas to being ready to pass out from pain).  We went downstairs, Peter harangued her a bit about her outfit, and without further ado, she let him (well, the foyer) have it.

Nothing like spending your 'sleeping in' time (Pete was off today, and told me to sleep in ....HA!) cleaning a cold, hard ceramic tile on your hands and knees.  Though I recall being that sick as a kid, and there isn't much else that causes that unique type of discomfort.  Remembering how many times my mom probably cleaned up worse (and in the middle of the night),  promptly grounded me and kept that gag reflex at bay.  I tucked her into the couch and was relieved to see that she was too sick to go to school, but not too sick to watch TV.  Now I know you are thinking, but what about that trip we are supposed to take oh, tomorrow?

We still plan on leaving in the late morning, however, the Basket Brigade plans are on hold/being modified.  In all likelihood, Cait and Peter will deliver the goods, but we will not be wrangling.  Kelsey is still feverish, and while a few hours resting in the car is fine, I don't want her getting sicker (or anyone else ill) at the Brigade.  So, we will make up for our absence by increasing our donation.  I wish it weren't the case, but better that than we make an emergency exit , and delay our departure time even more.

Where are we going?  It has probably completely slipped my mind to mention much about the trip, because I have done such a poor job of planning, and I would really like to ignore that fact.  We are SO last minute on this vacation, but did manage to get a few good deals, including a heavily discounted Disney entrance and free Legoland tickets (thank you, thank you, Auntie Lisa!!).  We are making a quick tour of Southern California, to include San Diego (Legoland! The zoo!), Anaheim (Disneyland!), and the general Los Angeles area (Hollywood! A boardwalk/beach! An amazing Thanksgiving dinner!).  We also hope to catch up with a friend or two while on the way back home, and perhaps even stop at a winery (I know, perhaps my rear end...).

DPA675F-538 With all that's going on, I still managed to remember that Little Guy is 21 months old today.  Probably soon we will just mention the years (I have said that before, haven't I?), but given how much more of a Little Guy he has become, I feel I should write something (God knows, the journal isn't getting much of a workout these days).  I can never remember to write down all of his words, but here is a smattering (hopefully some new):  da-da (truck), choo-choo, please, thank you (which he says without prompting), hello (sounds like HEH-whoa?), Lemmeesee, What's that, who's that, ahfoo (airplane), bad cat, phone (phone), and the list goes on.

He has a newly discovered love of trucks and trains, and runs them up and down the couch, the stairs, the shoe rack, the car seat, and if he can't find the one he wants, he will make one.  He has made trains (and highways) out of boxes and puzzle cubes.  He pushes them into shape and around the room with the appropriate choo-choo noise.  Who needs a train table when you have an extremely active imagination?  Though I can't say we aren't toying with the notion, as I have a feeling it would get a lot of use.

IMG_3358 He seems to have outgrown the tiny bit of "terrible twos" he had a few weeks ago which involved a brief pacifier stealing and hitting phase.  We certainly understood the pacifier part (he would never take one, didn't know what it was, and had a sudden intense interest), but had to briefly avoid the gym daycare til we were sure the hitting bit had passed.  We nipped it in the bud quickly, and thankfully, smooth sailing for the time being (I won't say never again...).  There was also a touch of biting, but thankfully (?), he saved that one for me, and me alone. 

Today was a bit nutty and exciting*, and didn't remember to get a snapshot until he was asleep.  So, here we have LG conked out when he was almost 21 hours old, and now as he is 21 months old.  A wee bit of a difference, wouldn't you say?

*Cait was pulled aside after choir (at the church) tonight, and asked to do the lead in the church Christmas play.

November 20, 2009

*Spoiler Alert*

from Peter Dinoia, new comedic genius.  I know, I know, it is not normally what one pegs as his forte. Staging, securing the perimeter, stopping art thieves in their tracks, and voluntarily traipsing around the world at a moment's notice?  Yes, those would be the attributes that might come to mind.

Now, Pete can tell a joke, and can do quite a few mean impressions, from Archie Bunker ("Geez, Edith, huh?") to the Swedish Chef (Orsky-Borsky & such).  However, actually creating the comedy from scratch isn't necessarily his strong point.  Until last night.  In a fit of overwhelming creativity, Peter created a sketch, if you will, of one of my favorite shows (this point needs to be stressed), and I still cannot get through it without laughing.  Apparently, neither can anyone else, as all of his Facebook reviews have been stellar.

Yes, this all started on Facebook, what doesn't these days?  An urgent status update from a friend of ours mentioned that her television died while she was watching the most recent episode of House.  I immediately commented and sympathized with "Ms. B.", as I, too, am quite a fan.  I can't quite put my finger on it, whether it is House himself (ooh, that sexy stubble), his obvious medical genius, or simply that I am still so excited that Puck managed to resurrect himself to become head of oncology (and still look as, um, fit as he did when jumping around in A Midsummer's Night Dream).  Guess the acting thing really was a stage. 

Before I continue, I should note that this may fall completely flat if you:

  • never watch House and have no clue what I am talking about
  • have only watched one episode (best if you have seen several)
  • hate the show (though frankly, you may hate it because you agree with the synopsis)
  • are a much, much better person than I am and don't waste time on useless television shows that don't really do anything but mildly entertain you for 42 minutes on a weekly basis

On the other hand, if you watch it religiously like my pathetic self does, then this might be for you.  It is Peter's take on the most recent episode of House, most of which was missed by our friend.  

Without further ado, Peter's version of "Teamwork":

The patient is overcome with some mysterious ailment in the first scene. Then House and his team argue over the initial diagnosis and treatment. House orders a bunch of tests. During the tests the patient gets sicker. Then there is some sexual banter between House and Cuddy that should get House fired. They correctly diagnose and treat the problem. The patient temporarily gets better then goes into cardiac arrest. They then realize that the first diagnosis is completely wrong and determine the real cause and prescribe new a treatment. House says a bunch of stuff to Wilson that would make a normal person never talk to House again never mind stay his best friend. Second Diagnosis turns out to be completely wrong and they tell the patient that he is terminal. Then as the patient is about to flatline House has an epiphany and figures out what is actually wrong and prescribes a last minute miracle solution. Patient lives.

Actually, I think that is every episode...

Now who doesn't need a laugh like that once in a while?  Thanks, Beaker!

November 19, 2009

Now you See it...

If your sweet tooth beckoned a few weeks ago, and you were tempted by the See's catalog Cait was proffering, your prayers have been answered. The orders arrived this week, and a giant cardboard box was hefted into my car today when I dropped Cait off at practice.  I haven't sorted through the assortment yet, but will attempt to do soon, and hopefully mail orders before we depart for our Thanksgiving vacation on Saturday afternoon. 

For those of you wondering, Caitlin was selling a certain selection of See's candies for the Danville Girls Chorus. They are trying to raise money for a trip in the spring, and each child will get a portion of what their total sales allocated towards their trip cost.  I am normally not terribly fond of fundraisers, as I think most are done when the kids are way too young.  It ends up being more of a competition, and/or the parents buy most of the offerings, since door to door is discouraged, and the neighbors have already purchased from their own children.

Since the Chorus is not the local elementary school, and one whole town away, Cait had a much better chance of being able to sell to friends and neighbors without getting the standard, "I gave/bought at the office."  She wisely targeted a few moms after one of Kelsey's playdates, managed to snag the grandparents' interest during a Skype call, found a neighbor who needed extra Christmas gifts, and even sold while back in Virginia & Maryland for the shower.  Oh, and we can't forget the frantic last minute call to Uncle John & Kim, who helped the cause, and will have their treats very soon.

IMG_3343I figured it couldn't hurt to plan ahead, and not buy all of my Christmas gifts last minute at the 7-11 (though it is a fun challenge to figure out who really needs a can of Sterno vs. the last 6 pack of Diet-Rite soda), so I added a few things to the list.  We added it up, sent in the form, and voila, four weeks later, have a gigantic box full of chocolates and gift cards galore taking over my bench in the front hallway.

 For whatever reason, I didn't learn of the sale until several days after it began. The first email I received was well after Cait started selling, and made no mention of goals.  The only item of interest was that each girl would receive credit for 30% of what they sold towards their trip.  Nothing about it being a contest, and if there was a prize section, I missed it entirely (this is good, I always fret too much about competition).  Lo and behold, there were at least two prizes per choir (if not more), and Cait won second place for fund-raising in the Apprentice Choir.  The prize?  A $30 gift card to Target!  Kelsey had won $10 gift card from Target at the Girl Scout Halloween Bingo, so you can bet Cait was thrilled to show it off. 

No word on whether she will splurge on big ticket items for the family (that could be half of a tricycle for Nicholas!), or spend on herself (will be closely monitoring her in the clothing section).  Now I best be off to wrap and pack.  If you purchased from her, look for an email soon with the expected arrival date, and thanks to everyone for their support!

November 15, 2009


Though somewhat sadly, not in our favor.  In fact, all but one of the twelve goals scored were for the other team.  Luckily, that didn't prevent Kelsey or her friends from having a good time, or setting loftier standards for the next game.

Tonight was the first game of her indoor soccer league season.  She enjoyed soccer so much, that she wanted to continue with indoor soccer once the regular outdoor league ended.  A friend's father is coaching (so Pete is free to record the games), and even more of her school friends are on the team, since the age rules are more relaxed.

Tonight's game started with a brief practice, as the girls normally do not meet during the week: the league regulations require only weekly games.  Fine for those who have played before, but at least one was new to soccer and a little practice never hurt anyone.  Peter dropped Kelsey off early, and picked us up after their pre-game practice ended to save Nicholas a bit of boredom.* 

We arrived just as they were about to start, and I noticed Kelsey donning a second soccer shirt.  They were blue tonight, and the extra shirt could only mean one thing:  she had been chosen/requested to be goalie.

I was a bit nervous.  Goals are big swaths of land to cover, and really, she could have paid a bit more attention when playing outdoor soccer. During the outdoor season, her team spent so much time on their offensive moves, that she was often surprised when they ended up near the goal, and missed more than she caught.  Not to worry tonight, as the opposing team (which, if they are under 8, I am Santa Claus), spent a good portion of their time near/around/in our goal. She didn't have time to look at the scoreboard, much less daydream.  She was on top of things, but still missed a few, and the other team scored 6 goals in the first half, something that would have most crying in their boots.

Not me, and definitely not Kelsey.  She had at least one awesome save (if not more) for every goal they scored.  Her team didn't let go, and fought the fight until the end.  They ended the game just as red-faced and sweaty as the other team, and just as cheerfully (though with somewhat blase looks) and did the old "good game" routine at the end as though they had won.  They didn't, but they tried, and more importantly, seemed to have an incredibly good time, including the poor teammate who took a ball smack in the face one minute before the game ended. 

In the end, Kelsey wasn't disappointed because they lost, but because they got so few goals.  "Next time." she stated firmly on the way home,"we are going to get AT LEAST THREE!" 

*Who are we kidding, this kid was born to play soccer, and loves to watch just as much. If you remember pictures from way back when, he could kick a ball before he could walk.  When we arrived at the game, he ran around to the back of the car to get his "ba".  Little smarty-pants remembered how Pete kept the bags of balls in the trunk.  Yep, he's getting signed up next, provided it doesn't interfere with his Kindermusik/swimming/gymnastics/Itsy-Bitsy Yoga schedule.

Here's a a highlight reel of some of Kelsey's performance in goal (right-click and choose "Save Link As..." to save to your computer - 5.3MB):

Download Kelsey Goal Kick and Save

November 05, 2009

First Communion

It seems like Caitlin just had her ceremony, and already Kelsey has begun preparations for her special celebration in the spring.  Of course, prior to the First Communion, is the Rite of Reconciliation, which already seems to be more of an undertaking than with Caitlin.  I am not sure why, but it is much more of a process here than it was in Iceland.

IMG_1286 IMG_1285 Perhaps it is the change in the scenarios:  when Caitlin made her First Communion, we attended the church on base in Keflavik.  Nearly all of the preparations were made during the CCD classes.   The teacher sent home a packet of prayers (oh, the nights of Caitlin nervously working on them...), but no hand-outs for the parents, no workbooks tailored to Reconciliation itself, and no retreat.  Tuesday evening, at the first parent meeting, I received not only a 3 page hand-out regarding the entire process, but a book for the children, and a periodical for our use. I have to say that I feel more confident having the extra information and material to work with, but  I don't remember going through any of the same when I was a child.  Perhaps it is timing, and not the church or program?

There were also many other differences, the primary one being the distance to the church.  Here we can swing by at a moment's notice, whereas even CCD at St. Michael's required a 1.5 hour round-trip. More importantly, we had to build in extra time for Cait, given that the motion sickness was far more prevalent then (and she was NOT reading in the car all of the time back then).  Even on the cold, dark Icelandic winter mornings, the poor thing was ill for at least half of the trips out there and back home.  I am pretty sure only a nap staved away sickness, and that could not be counted on most times.

2006-119Considering that we have weekly CCD lessons, church, parent meetings, workbooks, and two separate retreats (one for Reconciliation, one for First Communion), I must admit I am quite glad we could walk to church if necessary.  I am also quite happy to announce that I may have (at long last) found a regular babysitter that will not break my wallet.  Given that it appears I will be doing all of the Reconciliation work with Kelsey by myself, I think that is going to be a lifesaver.

As it turns out, Peter will miss everything that has anything to do with the process.  He missed Tuesday night's informational meeting (no big deal), but will likely be away for any other meetings, the retreat, and Reconciliation itself (kind of a bigger deal).  The bright spot?  He will definitely be there for First Communion, which is right now slated for either May 1 or May 8. Supposedly one gets to choose which date, but that remains to be seen.

The reason for two days of ceremonies?  The sheer number of children making their First Communion.  Not only are there two separate days, but there are three separate ceremonies on each day!  I remember having a big First Communion, but this just seems overwhelming.  Cait's entire CCD class had maybe 12 children.  The ceremony itself was intimate yet, having followed a brunch that morning for all of the First Communicants and their families.  Given there are several CCD classes per grade here, well, a bit of a shock to the system. I have a feeling if there is a brunch, it will be a cozy family event we have at home.

 I haven't mentioned as of yet, but of course, we will welcome any family and friends who want to visit.  Especially given that we are not going to be in the California area much after that, a good time to stop by if you haven't already.  Where to next, you ask?  Still working on that one, *sigh*.

November 03, 2009

I thought I had it under control...

Peter left yesterday morning for a week's worth of training in the DC area, and I was bound and determined to have everything flow smoothly this week.  Not that his presence is necessary to have that happen, but there is that certain ebb and flow when you realize you are not the only responsible party within 3,000 miles who can care for your house, crazy cat, or usually adorable children.

IMG_1281 Since the last trip went relatively smoothly, I thought I would simply copy the same game plan, and just tweak things here and there.  Rather than go nuts and start off with a crazy schedule, we would have the relaxing Sunday up front.  Part of it would be a family meeting to determine the week's meals (and who would help cook them), and the rest would simply involve getting our of our jammies, and more importantly, out of the house.

No problem!  The day flew by as we spent time doing odds and ends around the house, and then headed to Osage Park in Danville.  The girls would uncovered dinosaur bones in the play area, while Nicholas and I did walking/running intervals on the circular trail.  Fabulous!  We even had plenty of time to spare to go home, change, and then get to the teen mass.

In theory, it would have been fine, except that not only did I forget snacks for Nicholas (Annie's cheddar bunnies are a lifesaver), but the mass was extra long due to a special homily and introduction of the those preparing for confirmation.  No, Nicholas was not happy. 

He had not taken nap that day, and he squealed and squirmed, and I was ready to call it quits before the collection was taken.  We ended up staying as I had promised the kids we would head to the family dinner afterward (translation: no cooking or cleaning for me), and Nicholas briefly made amends with everyone when he clapped wildly and shouted, "Yea!!" when the teen band finished singing. 

Thankfully, the rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, and even bedtime was fine.  The only hitch was a slightly later bedtime due to the late mass and dinner...and with Kelsey, early or late to bed....late to rise. 

She is NOT a morning person.  Combine that with someone else who is not a morning person trying to wake previously aforementioned non-morning person, and you have a lethal combination. I try to be patient (translation: drink at least one cup of coffee prior to waking her up), but I am usually trying to get two people going, and stop a third from destroying their rooms (to prevent the litanies of "he's touching my stuff!!!") while doing so.  Not nearly as easy as it sounds.

She dawdled and she dallied, and I finally lost it.  The embarrassing part?  I really lost it when she couldn't find her glasses.  I had about given up when I found them on the kitchen counter, the pink frames blending nicely with the granite in the counter top.  Who put them there?  Me.  Sigh.

For whatever reason, she got over it.  We dropped Cait and co. off at the middle school, and made it to Kelsey's school in time to drop her off in the front.  I headed back home for a second cup of coffee, and by 9:30 a.m., I was had it - again.  Between the shower drain not working, and the master bath being flooded by the toilet that was clogged by one piece of paper (or perhaps something Nicholas thought to throw down),the morning was in the toilet.  The best part? The property manager decided not to call Pete back (despite the fact he told him it was urgent), as he thought "we were all on vacation on the East Coast."  If we were, would we really be asking for a repairman to show up the next day?

IMG_1275 We made it to swim lessons early, and miraculously had not forgotten anything.  Nicholas swam his little heart out, and I quickly dressed him and we headed home.  He remembered that I had two "pleases" (pieces of candy) in my purse that he had been carting around all morning.  He loved clutching them in his sweaty little hands, and I didn't care, as he seemed to show no interest in eating them.  Until now.  I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw this face just as we were about to turn into our neighborhood. 

He was so happy, and so proud, though, that I just couldn't get mad.  He had somehow managed only to smear on his face and hands, and there didn't seem to be a drop of chocolate anywhere else.  Despite my best efforts, I had to laugh.  Now don't think that I didn't still sit down with my glass of Zinfandel, and cranberry cheese with the Raincoast Crisps last night, desperately trying to find my DVR-ed episode of House (another non-House night, what is going on??).  No, the bathroom clean up alone earned me that chunk of heaven.  Still, nothing like a Little Guy happily covered in smeary cocoa, and bursting with pride as he licks the wrapper to remind you that not all is lost, in fact, perhaps something good (and yummy) was just found.

November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

IMG_3288 IMG_3291 or because I know the grandparents are chomping at the bit for these photos.  Well, wait, we assume the grandparents are waiting with baited breath, because the Little Guy was just stinkin' cute tonight. 

I know I shouldn't say that, but he just didn't cease to amaze me.  He is all over this Halloween thing!  From dressing up to running (not walking) up the steps of each house (both the stroller and Ergo were out of the question), to saying thank you and bye-bye to almost every treat giver.  He gave an occasional stab at "Trick or treat," but that was a bit more difficult.

IMG_3299 IMG_3308 The girls had a great time, and Kelsey and her one friend loved listening to Nicholas.  I realize I need to enjoy it while it lasts, so "Isn't he cute?!" in girlie squeals was music to my ears.   Of course, the fact that he was he thought it was trick or trade (he would take a piece of candy and then offer the person one of his own) was simply adorable. 

Other than the high-pitched voices, it was fairly tame trick or treating this year, as we went with other folks and didn't try to overdo it. We also opted to leave Caitlin to her own devices (sort of).  She went trick or treating with a neighborhood friend, and came home two hours later with a nightmarish blister on her foot (translation: lots o' loot).  The only issue?  We figured out she threw away candy that she decided she didn't like.

I know we are trying to eat better, and woe to the non-organic produce that touches my lips (most of the time), but really, Halloween is once a year.  NO ONE throws away a Milk Dud in this house (that could be mine), and I know Peter will have words with her about that Snickers bar.  Seriously, I have never seen a child do that before.  Whatever, she's happy, we are happy (and on a sugar high), and all's well that ends well, right?

Last, but certainly not least, if you think you recognize a certain little monkey, you are correct.  The costume Nicholas is wearing was made over (GULP) 11 years ago for his (very) big sister, Caitlin.  You can't see it in the photo, but there is a large stuffed tail, and I have to say, it made an excellent leash tonight, as this little guy is just too fast.  Even after we arrived at home to have a small dessert party, he continued to run circles around all of us. If we could harness his energy, PG&E would be paying us...

Here's hoping everyone had a happy, fun, and safe Halloween!