Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Toasty Bear

Our fabulous weekend came to an abrupt end when the Cbear woke up moaning at 4:55 a.m. on Tuesday. JP happens to leave the house at 4:50 to go swim (because he's insane), so I was awake as I watched the headlights back out down the driveway. Usually I roll over, miss his presence in bed, and fall back asleep. On Tuesday, I heard some pitiful whimpers and hopped up to check it out. We are blessed with two kids who sleep without a peep from 8 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., so the rare late night sound always means something is wrong.

And oh, something was wrong. My little bear was flaming hot. I could feel the heat radiating off her restless body before my hands even touched her. I scooped her up and started frantically flipping through my memory to remember where we put the thermometer. Landon and Claire haven't been sick in months, maybe years. I don't think Landon has had a fever since he turned 1 and Claire's last sick baby visit was when she was 9 months old and had her one and only ear infection. I'm not sure where the thermometer was in Austin and I definitely wasn't sure where it was in Fort Worth. I finally found it (in the kitchen pantry -- why??) and when I sat her on the counter to take her temp, she was whimpering and her arms were shaking. I did not like seeing my feisty little honey badger like that. Not at all.

happy and healthy on Saturday

Her fever was 103.8. It was just after 5 a.m. and I was trying to figure out who to call (we don't have a Fort Worth pediatrician yet), whether I should call whoever I should call, and where in the hell we'd put the children's tylenol. I ended up contacting our insurance company's 24-hour nurse line. The nurse was very nice and helpful and answered on the first ring and I chatted with her in a hushed voice while I snuggled Cbear on our bed. She said to take her temp again after an hour and if it had gone to down to at least 101, I could wait to call our pediatrician when the office opened.

I googled a pediatrician on my phone while watching the clock and at 5:55 her temperature was down to 101.5 and she wasn't shaking anymore. JP came home at 7 and took over the snuggle duties while I grabbed an extra hour of sleep (insomnia had kept me up until 2 a.m., of course). Then Claire and I snuggled and watched Disney movies all morning before going to the pediatrician at noon where she was diagnosed with... a cold. Poor C-bear, all that drama and such a mundane diagnosis (not that we want anything fancy, but something with an immediate cure would have been nice).

Since then there's been lots of coughing, lots of nose wiping (and then lots of squawking when she realizes there's yucky snot on her hand, she does NOT like that), regular doses of ibuprofen, and the most snuggles I've ever received in 36 hours.

first morning cartoon viewing since March;
Landon thinks Claire should get sick more often

Today JP hung out with the Bear while I went in to work for a few hours (I'm almost out of sick days). She was a bit of a nuisance on his conference calls, but luckily she's doubling up on naps while she recovers. And because she has her daddy wrapped around her chubby little finger, she got him to cover her head in about 20 "hairboes" on a short break between calls. She was very proud.

so fancy

She's still coughing and her voice is hoarse and her nose is runny, but she's perkier and she hasn't had a fever since this morning. Hopefully she's turning a corner, because she is supposed to look like this:

from last Friday- yes, that's her favorite shirt

Not this.

Poor toasty bear.

Monday, May 28, 2012

36-hour Vacay

Since this was a three-day weekend, and we desperately needed a break from the house and its to-do lists (and springtails), but we can't spend any money for the next six months and being within 25 yards of the house seems to require us to spend money (BOTH a/c units have broken in the last 10 days; they were under the seller's warranty still, thank goodness, but we still had to pay the service fee and we were still without a/c for a few nights each time), so we decided we needed some sort of magical free vacation that wouldn't require any planning, any money, and because JP is so overwhelmingly busy at work and would have to work all day on Memorial Day, would only require 36 hours of our time.

Enter, my parents' lakehouse. It's about a 4 hour drive (3.5 if you don't stop and take the speed limit as more of a suggestion than a rule) and we get a comped room and meals since we know the owners. We piled the kids and canine in the car with a few swim suits, a ziploc of dog food, and some packed lunches to eat on the way and off we went!

all packed and ready to go!

We pulled up to the lake about 2 p.m. and Landon was in the water at 2:09, where he remained until forced out for dinner.

Lanman and Papa 

Cbear took some convincing with the life jacket (we require the kids to wear them any time they leave the house; there's several hundred feet of dark, deep water front and I can't handle the idea of one of them falling in and us not being able to find them), but she decided it was an acceptable fashion statement and wore it with surprisingly little protest for the rest of the trip.

ready to roll

And this is the other reason the life jackets are required-- the gaggle of dogs. Ours, my brother's, my brother's girlfriend's, and the two that belong to my parents.

Doggie Spring Break 2012

They had to jump in and cause chaos every time anyone got into or out of the water. Tex tried to keep up, but all the other dogs are about 8 years younger, so he mostly took the rear guard position.

the boys and the doggie gaggle

Landon got to take a ride on the jetski with JP, and then Claire wanted a turn. She was very focused and did NOT want help steering.

no time for photos when you're the driver

Then it was time for more swimming. Despite many trips to the lake, I think this was my first time to get in the water since our post-wedding breakfast in 2005. 2005 was also one of the last times I wore a bikini. It was a weekend for feeling 22 again (except for the whole two kids thing).

the ladies

Sunday morning bright and early with blue skies and calm water, so we headed out for Claire's first boat ride.

tolerating it

Which led to Landon's first tube ride!

loving it

Landon was brave all weekend. Last time we were at the lake (outside of Christmas when we don't use the boat), he was only 2 and he did NOT like the boat to go fast AT ALL. This time, he sat up front with Gigi and let the wind blow his hair back. It was so fun to see him have so much fun.


We made a pit stop (i.e., the boat got grounded) near Pine Island, so the men headed out to look for buried treasure (we just finished the Magic Treehouse book #4, Pirates Past Noon). They returned with a flip flop.


Later, in the spirit of carefree fun, I jumped off the top of the boat dock.


I think I look very graceful.


We spent the rest of the day swimming, playing, eating, and swimming some more.

JP's favorite game

My dad anchored one of the tubes near the boat dock so Landon could have a "private island" that he thought was the coolest thing ever. I burned the sides of butt cheeks laying on the island with him. I'm pretty obsessive about sunscreen, but I can't remember the last time I had to worry about my behind getting too many rays. The drive home was not so comfortable.


I'm not sure Landon has ever had so much fun. I love that he raised his drink for the photo. I take no credit for that.

drinks up!

Tex would also classify this as one of the greatest weekend of his life. He's been sleeping since 4 p.m. yesterday in an attempt to recover.

a wet exhausted blissfully happy dog

We headed home at 4 p.m. yesterday after a lunch of brisket and s'mores (s'mores that nobody wanted except the little boy who had been promised a marshmallow roast and had been so good we couldn't rescind).


JP and I were both over-sunned and under-rested, so we thought for sure the kids would sleep on the drive home. But in the end, it was JP who fell asleep immediately upon pulling on the highway and the kids remained bright eyed and bushy tailed (and luckily, perfectly behaved) the whole 4 (3.5) hours. We'd been talking about installing a car DVD player for their birthdays, but now I'm thinking we can divert those funds elsewhere, like to a third bugman.

All in all it was a fabulous little vacation that I know Landon will be talking about for months. And even though JP had to work from the lake on Saturday, and work after we got home last night, and work all day today, he did get a little break for jet skiing and washer playing and the eating of delicious food. And I loved that I got to have fun jumping off boat docks while watching my kids laugh and make memories with their uncle and grandparents. It was a perfect minication.

And now JP just alerted me that there's a lizard in our shower, so I suppose that means we're back to reality. Happy 3-day weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Bear, Illustrated

The Bear turns two in 12 days. I hardly know what to do with that. I ADORE the crazy, feisty, fabulous little lady she's become, but oh you guys, she's my baby. My baby who taught me I like babies; the baby who taught me that babies like me. She's our snuggle bug, our little herder who insists we all stay in the same room, our giver of hugs, our kisser of boo boos, our little biscuit who follows us around demanding "up!". She is fiercely independent but still cries most mornings at drop off. She quite literally screams hello at strangers at the store, but gives you a skeptical frown if you approach her without invitation. She wants to be held, but only by us. She wants to help, but only if you don't help her. She drives us crazy but is so adorable, so lovable, she (very almost) makes us want another one.

I went through my pictures from the last two months, trying to find a few that capture our Clairebear in all her honeybadger bearness. I really need to take more video, but these give you a taste.

1. Milkaholic Bear, who decided to help herself from the recycling bin.


(Also captured: her penchant for removing her clothing, and her love of socks and her insistence on putting them on BY HERSELF. Not captured: her displeasure when she tipped her head back and found out the carton was empty.)

2. Interloper Bear inserts herself in any situation.

disinterested, but close by just in case

mildly intrigued

choo choo!!

MY book

3. Fashion Bear. We are NOT allowed to help with the dressing.


(I believe this is a pair of pj shorts, with both legs shoved through one leg hole, one shirt worn as a midriff covering tube top, and another shirt worn tarzan style over the shoulder.)

4. Zooming Bear.


Claire doesn't just go, she zooms. Pretty much everything happens at full throttle, with maximum risk for injury.

5. Skeptical Bear.


You do not often wonder what the Bear is thinking.

6. Spotter Bear. We must point out (and yell out) every plane, truck, train, dog, bird, bug, and baby we see.


Immediately following this sweet point to the heavens for an airplane, there was much squealing and jumping for many minutes.

7. No Hands Bear!


When the Bear eats pasta, it's a mandatory hands up policy until we can get her wiped down. We have "hands up" drills just to practice.

8. Bossy Bear.


Just guess who is in charge in this relationship?

9. Pretty bear.


This picture is blurry, but you get her bright blue eyes, the still chubby cheeks, the hair down in her eyes, and the wonder of being two... you get Claire.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Start of Summer

I'm not sure when summer officially begins. Google could tell me, but my personal definition is when the temperatures hit the 90's and pools and lakes are warm enough to get in (and doing anything outside for more than five minutes makes you hot enough to want to get in regardless of the water temp) -- that's the start of summer. And summer is simple and easy and familiar... it's too hot to start new projects and it's layered in the comfort of home and friends before the start of a new school year.

This weekend was the start of our summer. We're unpacked, and but for four boxes containing our carefully padded china and crystal that's waiting patiently for a nice new modern sideboard that perhaps we'll purchase ourselves for Christmas, the house is settled. It's renovated, painted, and fully functional. It's amazing how little time it takes for you to know what's behind every cabinet. Our first weekend here I was always opening the wrong cabinet for glasses in the kitchen, but now the blueprint is there in my head and I move around my day knowing where everything is, or at least, is supposed to be. Humans are so adaptable.

Anyway, summer. Summer is many things, but for me it's about fun, heat, margaritas, and water. This weekend we had all four, plus visitors! One of my best Austin friends drove over with her husband and 3-year-old daughter (Landon's old swim lesson partner). Their adorable squishy 4-month-old stayed back in the care of her grandparents, which was a little sad because I wanted to soak up her adorable squishiness, but also great because it was just us and the big kids (and Claire, who thinks she's a big kid). We crammed all the car seats and grown-ups in our Highlander and showed them around town, or at least our small corner of it. We spent 50% of our time in the pool, which we followed up with margaritas and mexican food, a trip to the water gardens, and then much beer drinking out by the fire pit in the backyard after the kids were in bed. It was fun and fabulous and we already miss them. This morning we went on our long walk to the park, which they found beautiful and also eventful as Landon had an epic (EPIC) meltdown(s) along the way.

But while I enjoyed every second of their visit, except perhaps the part where we ended the walk with our screaming almost-five-year-old slung over JP's shoulders while my friend carried his bike, it was the Saturday afternoon in the pool that captured exactly the kind of afternoon I hoped to have when we bought this house.



poolside service




Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lanman

I have a draft post from last week about Landon's parent-teacher conference. Well, if you can call the uploading of four pictures a "draft." Seriously you guys- unpacking, cleaning, organizing, interior decorating, finance stressing, lunch packing, children raising, dinner making, internet surfing, springtail obsessing, and the occasional bit of TV-watching takes up the bulk of my evenings. And last week, I was doing all that while JP was out of town getting 9-hours of sleep in a room without springtails. Which is all to say, not a lot of writing has been happening lately and that makes me sad.

Anyway, back to the parent teacher conference I never got a chance to write about. There are very few thrills in parenting equal to that of hearing someone else tell you your child is wonderful. Sure, much of who Landon is comes from something inside himself, and it's not like JP or I had any control over the genetic material we gave him, but you do not get a report card when raising your kid. There is no one to tell you on a moment-to-moment basis that you handled a particularly challenging moment well. And there are SO MANY moments where some sort of guidebook or grading system would be helpful. So hearing your son's new teacher tell you that he is a JOY, that he is a leader, that the other children look to him, that he works so hard and does it with a smile, that she would never have to raise her voice if her whole class was filled with Landons, and that she is just so happy to have him in her class... I have to admit I got a little teary.

front yard climbing tree

Since he had such a marvelous report, and he's come along so far academically in the mere 8 weeks he's been there, we celebrated with a trip to the "yogurt restaurant with all the toppings" down our street. Claire flipped out when we pulled in the parking lot, even though we've only been once before and I can't believe she recognized it.

(I know her car seat buckle is too low, she yanks on it because she knows she's not supposed to)

Landon was given his own cup to fill with yogurt and any four toppings he wanted. He made very careful selections, posed for a picture, and then sat in complete, almost reverent silence while he ate every bite.


Two of our personal parenting principles are (1) that we don't bribe- good behavior is expected, not bargained for, and bad behavior is punished, and (2) treats are just that- treats. Special, exciting, and unexpected. So as we were heading out to the car after dinner and we announced the frozen yogurt trip and why we were going, it was so fun to see his proud, excited expression. Because we were going to get dessert and we were going because of him. I'm smiling just thinking about his adorable flustered grin.


Then, today Landon's class had their graduation ceremony and show. Landon was careful to tell us that he was not graduating, so he would be wearing flowers and NOT a graduation cap, but that was okay, because he would graduate next year after he learned even more things and grew even bigger. We listened carefully and nodded our way through his earnest explanation, never letting on that we were the ones who'd decided he'd be staying an extra year in the Montessori school, and though we agonized over it at first, we're now completely certain it was the right decision.

Not surprisingly, Landon took his job as performer very seriously, following all instructions and reciting each poem and song with a focused expression. There was a song in French, a telling of the presidents, the continents, and the planets, and a meandering story about never asking a black bear where it's going. Adorable.


There was a receiving of diplomas. Landon INSISTED that a belt must be worn for the special day, so JP punched a few extra holes in a too-big belt we found in his drawer.


I was presented with a belated Mother's Day book and plant.


JP got hugs. I wish you could see their matching cowboy boots.


And we got to meet the parent's of Landon's class girlfriend (and spy on the little couple through my telephoto lens).


It was a great afternoon. The greatest part was getting to see our baby boy in the spotlight, and to be able to focus on him alone. I can't remember the last time we spent time with him without Claire (as is his preference, but still, it was nice to be able to completely focus on him for a while). But the second greatest part? Using an extra credit hour to log out of work exactly when I needed to in order to be at the school 15 minutes before showtime, so I could be the relaxed parent in the front-row, smiling with my camera ready. No checking my blackberry, no reassuring anyone I'd be available later if needed, no need to log in and make up for the hours tonight. The move and my job change did have a price, but the resulting could-not-previously-be-comprehended, absolutely life-altering lifestyle change has been priceless. Even with the bugs.

But back to Landon. I'm so proud of him, and while I can't believe my baby boy is about to turn five, watching him grow and learn and change is so fun and rewarding that I can't honestly say I want him to freeze in time and stop. But if he could slow it down a bit, that would be great.