Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well Nicky had a really fun Christmas. He was up around 8:30 and came out to see that Santa had filled his stocking and left him two toy construction vehicles: a front loader and a dump truck. He was allowed to eat as much candy as he wanted. In fact I'm pretty sure the only 'real' food he ate on Christmas was a waffle for breakfast, peas for dinner and pretzels for a snack.

He was having so much fun with the toys Santa brought that it took quite a bit to get him to try opening some of the other presents! But when he did, he had a great time playing with each. Especially the toy grill (from his Aunt Leslie and Uncle Jim) and the toy electric saw with interchangeable parts (from Aunt Maryellen and Uncle Scot). In fact, after those were opened, it was pretty much impossible to get him to stop playing long enough to open anything else!

In the afternoon, Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Maryellen came over for dinner. Tom's cousin Mike was already here, he'd arrived on Christmas eve and spent the night with us. And Nana was here already too. So we had a nice big group for Christmas. While Nicky played, Nana, Tom and Mike cooked a beef wellington for dinner. It was gorgeous, huge and tasty!

After dinner, we finally got Nicky to finish opening his gifts. The last one was the BIG package that had been under the tree for weeks! Turns out it was a Red Flyer wagon. Tom and Mike put it together, with Nicky's help of course, and Nicholas LOVES it! I took him for a ride in it up and down the street for a while. I tell you, it's a deluxe wagon compared to the ones they used to have! It has folding seats, seat belts and cup holders!

Nicky never did quite settle down for a nap, so when we were snacking on the pretzels and other assorted yummies in the gift basket from Mike (Yum! What tasty treats in there!) which Nicky was grilling on his grill before eating, Nicky actually started yawning and saying "I so tired!" It wasn't even 8pm, but we got him into bed and he fell asleep pretty quick.

We had a really lovely, relaxing Christmas. I hope your families did also!

Now this morning, the day after Christmas, JM and I are going to drive Maryellen home to Alabama. Tom, Nicky and Nana are staying here this time (Tom and Nana had been the ones to go pick her up last weekend). This will be the first time I've seen Maryellen and Scot's house, so I'm looking forward to it. I think I'll pack some knitting to do on the way. Maybe a warm scarf! It's going to be cold up there!

We're driving up Friday and coming back Saturday. My dad and Gwen are coming on Sunday, so I'd like to be back for that. They'll stay with us for a few days before heading home to GA.

My mom and her sister Melanie are in GA right now having Christmas with my sister Jessie and Melanie's family up there. They're staying at the lodge at the top of Amicalola falls and I'll bet it's just gorgeous! Hopefully they'll stop by on their way back to South Florida though. We have one more present for my mom from Nana. And I'm sure Nicky wouldn't mind seeing Grammie one more time! He had a great time with Grammie and Aunt Liz the weekend before Christmas.

Well it's about time for me to start thinking of what to pack for my trip today. Tom and I woke up early this morning! I just might have to squeeze in a few more hours of EQII playing before I go!

Photos and movies of Christmas to come soon upon my return!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting it done

Almost done with everything for Christmas!

All the cards are done and getting mailed today. Just had three addresses to get today and Tom did that.

All the shopping is done and either wrapped or ready for Santa to do his magic on Christmas Eve.

All the gifts are made except for a few ornaments. I'll finish those tonight and wrap them.

And then I'm DONE!

Cheapest Christmas ever probably, but I think everyone will LOVE their gifts.

Preview of them here if you have a high-speed connection.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

(oh, and Gayle, I am pretty sure I totally misspelled Hanukkah in your card. Sorry!)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Time to make the presents

Whew, the first semester of grad school for TOm and I is finally over. We're still awaiting our final grades, but we both turned in our final papers on Friday evening. What a relief to finally be able to sit on my butt and not feel like there is homework I should be doing.

Have I mentioned I'm not really all that thrilled to be doing this whole "school" thing again?

Tom and I have been working on putting the house into some semblance of order. With school, Nicky and that stomach flu we all had, it's been about a month since any real housework was done in earnest. I must say though, we're doing pretty well now. Tom's catching up on dishes and laundry. I've gotten the den into pretty decent shape, organized all the stuff we had in there into storage stuff and give-away/sell stuff, and gotten the den into good enough shape that when Nana came this weekend she was actually able to sleep in there comfortably.

Yesterday we put up the Christmas tree and today I decorated it. Nicky helped with a few items, but mostly he was de-decorating the tree. From about his head height down I've only put ornaments that can't be broken, so hopefully we'll not end up with shattered bits in the carpet.

And hopefully he won't pull or push the tree over. Back when we had cats, Tom and I quickly learned to secure the tree to the walls in a few spots. We haven't done that though since we don't have kitties anymore. The dogs haven't been much trouble, but I can see Benjamin's tail clearing off the outer layer of ornaments along the lower third of the tree too. So maybe some of the ornaments I'll inevitably find on the floor over the next few weeks won't all be from Nicky.

So now, I finally have time to get around to making all the Christmas gifts this year. I have everything I need, and now finally have some time to do it. I'll have to write about what they are later since a lot of the folks who read this blog are on the gift list.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Oh my heart

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

- Elizabeth Stone

I've been thinking about this for a long time. I think the first time I heard a form of this quote was probably while I was pregnant with Nicky. And I don't think I really understood it. Oh, I thought I did, but I didn't really.

When I finally brought Nicky home I think I had some PPD. Not nearly as bad as some, but I did have thoughts of hurting him. However they weren't what I expected when I'd heard about that as a symptom so I didn't immediately make the connection. I wasn't thinking of me deliberately hurting him. I would find myself staring into space imagining all the horrible things that could happen to my baby in this huge and now very scary world.

I didn't even notice it consciously until Tom mentioned taking him to St. Augustine beach for a day trip. Immediately I was picturing us at the beach: surf, sand, lots of sunscreen, and a baby hat of course. Pictured me standing with him in the waves, maybe in water up to my knees of course. And we'd look at the waves, the sunlight dancing on the water, the people playing in the water.

And then, unbidden came the horrible thought, what if I wasn't paying enough attention to him, what if a big wave came, and knocked me over, and I dropped him and the undertow pulled him away from me? Immediately I was terrified to take him to the beach.

We eventually went anyway, although not that day, and I was super-vigalent and only let the water get up to my ankles and we didn't set him down for even a second. But still, that was just once instance when immediately I thought of the danger in something that before I'd have just thought of as a fun family outing.

I started noticing my thought patterns more consciously after that, and then it got worse but was totally unrelated to Nicky or my parenting and was instead wrapped up with changes at my job. A few sessions with a therapist was all I needed to iron things out, but still...the world is a very scary place.

Everywhere I turn, it seems there are horrible things happening. Natural disasters, kidnappings, murders, accidents... I rarely watch TV. I pretty much only watch Disney movies, Caillou (which yes, it is irritating), Curious George, Martha Speaks, and maybe a little Sesame Street, Clifford, and Word World if I'm home on a weekday. But still, I run across stories online, sometimes involving people I know on the net, that just strike me down.

These just fan the flames of my well-hidden, shoved into a mental closet, terror. I have to keep it squelched in order to even leave the house. Sometimes I even convince myself that I'm not worried. I think in some ways folks might even think I'm pretty cavalier about Nicky's safety sometimes. I let him explore, even fall sometimes.

But honestly, even beyond the fears (which fears really just isn't a big enough word here) about what can happen to Nicky, there's an even larger fear. One I only discovered once he was about 7 months old or so. I remember it because we were already moved into this house. And that is the fear of what could happen to me, or to Tom, or (heaven-forbid) to both of us.

There have been a few things that have really driven this home to me. One blogger, Whymommy, that I follow who has fought amazing odds and beaten her breast cancer and has two little boys close in age to Nicky. Another blogger, Lisa, who is fighting her 3rd fight with cancer and has two tween-aged girls. And the recent dual-hospitalization of Tom and I.

I mean, I have my faith (well my own version of it) and do believe in something of an afterlife. I know with my whole heart that should something happen to someone I love, I will see them again and they will not be unhappy or in pain while waiting for me.

However, the thought of something happening to me, Tom, or both of us. The thought of leaving Nicky here, behind, to fend for himself, even with the amazing love he'd have from the rest of our family. I just can't even examine this feeling too closely for fear it would just swallow me up and I'd never leave the house again.

Sometimes I think that parenting must be the bravest thing a person can do.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, and one more thing

Did I tell you that on Thanksgiving Nicky found out how well coffee beans fit in his nostrils?


Well they're a perfect fit.

Luckily I was able to get it out myself, because I was really not looking forward to that ER visit.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Playground photos & Thanksgiving


JM brought over photos of Nicky that she took at the playground of him. This was back when Tom and I were still recovering from our stomach flu, but we were out of the hospital. He has a ball at this playground. They have three separate playsets, one for 1-3 year olds, one for 4-8 year olds, and one for 8-12 year olds. (or something along those lines)

Well Nicky doesn't pay any attention to those age designations. He loves climbing all over all the sets. JM got a few photos of him coming down the really big slide and climbing up on the big playset. He's getting so big.

He also loves the merry go round, even when it's going really fast with the bigger kids.

I do have to say though, taking him to the playground is exhausting. I imagine that at some point you can sit on a bench and just watch them play. But right now he still doesn't know to watch where he's running. So you have to follow him around to make sure he doesn't run right under the swings or in front of a slide. I wonder how old they have to be before they learn to look out for things like that?

We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving this year. Just us, Grandpa and Grandma. Tom did the Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. JM took care of the bread and dessert. They worked on the stuffing together. And I made sweet potato fries and green bean casserole. Oh, and cranberry sauce of course. (You know, the canned kind. Yum!)

Nicky ate rolls and cranberry sauce. That was it. I tell you, Nicky's not much of an eater anymore. We fondly remember the good old days when he'd eat anything we were having. Not any more! In fact, yesterday he ate cheerios in milk for all three meals of the day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Snuggles and Cuddles

When I had Nicky via unplanned c-section (which sounds much more relaxed than emergency c-section doesn't it) I was initially holding it all together pretty well. It was a Friday night and Nicky was in the Special Baby Unit (which sounds much better than the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit right) but I was doped up on all sorts of stuff and barely able to move my head anyway. I was absolutely sure he was just fine and this was just a normal thing they did with c-section babies to make sure they were ok.

Well it was about Saturday evening when I lost my shit. I'd been trying to stay focused on pumping and being positive and happy, but finally I realized I'd gone from having 24/7 contact with my baby to not even being able to hold him for a full day. I just felt like my heart had been ripped from my body and was being held hostage.

I remember that my mom was actually relieved to finally see me cry. She had been worried that I was so calm about him being away from me for so long. I remember my nurse coming in and we talked about maybe I'd be allowed to hold him the next day if they could get him to the point where he could use a cannula instead of the tent. Other than that though, I remember very little now other than crying while trying desperately to pump enough colostrum for him to make up for not being there holding him every single second. It was during this time, and the week that followed, that I pledged to never, ever take holding my son for granted.

He's only 2 now, but I can honestly say I've kept that promise. Just the other night, Nicky was sleeping in the car when Tom picked me up from work. He woke up when we got home, but was still tired. I carried him in, and sat in his room rocking him for as long as he'd let me.

Later, Tom had already gone to bed and I'd stayed up far past my normal bedtime. I was in the bathroom finally getting ready to go to sleep when I heard Nicky's door open. I called softly to him to come out to me, but no answer. I peeked out of the door and could just see his little head lying on the floor in his doorway. I'm not sure if he slept walked or just was too tired and laid down, but he was sleeping on his legs in his doorway. I went and picked him up and rocked him again for a while until he asked to "go bed." And I tell you, I just can't get enough of holding him like that.

For a long time when Nicky was first home there was nowhere he'd really sleep for long other than right on Tom or I. It took us 3 weeks of getting sleep in 10-15 minute snatches to realize what we needed to do. From 3 weeks to 5 months, Nicky slept every night on my chest as I slept in my oversize recliner. (I'm actually sitting in it now as it's become my laptop chair.) Tom would get up with Nicky for the 2am feeding, change him and then lay him back down with me to sleep. Tom got to sleep in the bed right next to us, but I got to sleep most of every night which worked out beautifully for us both.

When Nicky was 4 months old we were told it was time to move him to the crib and cut out the 2am feeding. We tried it for maybe 2-3 days. It was just too much for him at one time though and so we went back to having him sleep on me, but still cut out the feeding. That worked really well. During the next month, Tom worked on having Nicky take some of his naps in his crib, and then at 5 months old Nicky started sleeping in his crib at night.

Oh we had a lot of rough nights of having to get up and put the binky back in for him. But finally we gave up and put him on his tummy. That helped keep the binky in place and he slept so much better. (I know, I know, back to sleep. But he had a binky, breathable bumpers, a fan, non-smoking house and parents, and no pillows, blankets or toys in his crib. And we were TIRED.)

Anyway, after learning to sleep in his crib, Nicky never, ever fell asleep anywhere else (except carseat and swing of course). That's held true to this day. I recall my Godson Collin falling asleep once IN his toybox, on top of toys even in the midst of playing. Not Nicky. And once he gave up the bottle, there was really no cuddling anymore either. He was just too busy to sit that still. Places to climb and things to do.

It's only been the last few months probably, maybe even only the last few weeks, that Nicky's gotten more cuddly. Tom found an old glider for us, cleaned it up and we have it in Nicky's room. And he'll actually let me rock him in it. It's heavenly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tears of Motherhood

Before Nicky came along sure, I'd feel bad when I'd hear about people being hurt in disasters, crimes, accidents, heck even the movies. Maybe even cry for perfect strangers, yes, even fictional ones.

But ever since having Nicky I cry at the drop of a hat it seems. A song, an ad, a news story, a blog post, a speech, a kid's story. (Gawd, so many of his books I can't even READ to him because I bawl so hard by page two.)

I'd noticed this not long after giving birth. At first I just chalked it up to hormones. Then sleep-deprivation. But he's two and a half now. He sleeps through the night. I have no excuses anymore for my proclivity to dissolve into an empathetic mess.

Am I the only one? Is this a normal part of motherhood?

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's just not working

We're all well again (finally!) sorry I've been lax about posting. Grad school is eating up all my fun computer time. I can't even tell you how behind I am on my blog-reading, much less posting. If not for my Twitter-fox popping up in my browser I'd feel totally disconnected from all my bloggy pals.

As for something different than a discussion of bodily functions...oh, well actually this is about that too...

Basically we've been trying to score a baby brother or sister for Nicky for a while now. We tried the "now that you've had a baby you're body will understand what to do and you'll get pg without help" method. No go.

We've tried the jump on and off the pill just to see if it works. Nope.

We've tried just the Metformin alone. Uh uh.

We've tried the magical mystical Metformin/Clomid combination that scored us Nicky for THREE full cycles. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero.

Ovaries: "No eggs for you!"

Now we're on a break for at least one cycle. I was too busy last week with being sick to even think about calling to see what we'd do next so I don't even know what my next steps will be. I'm still on the Metformin, so I suppose it's possible (though remotely) that just that could result in an egg drop, but I'll not be holding my breath.

Depressing as it is, and it is, I do have to say that infertility issues this time are not anywhere NEAR as painful as they were before we had Nicky. I've read on message boards and such that secondary infertility, or problems having a subsequent child, were just as horrible as trying to have your first. I privately doubted it, but didn't ever say so, since from my perspective of having no kids I couldn't really tell what someone could be going through.

But I am standing up now and proclaiming that once you've had one child, infertility is NOT the same. Because you know what? I can pee on my stick, see that lonely single line and then go hug my boy. Even if we never get pregnant again, I have been able to experience pregnancy and childbirth and have my precious boy. It just doesn't hurt as much this time.

Now I'm not trying to be cavalier about someone's very real pain. Infertility does hurt. It hurts to feel betrayed by your body, to feel you have a piece of yourself, your family, missing. But from my point of view, from having 11 years of no pregnancy, no baby, and after a while, no hope of a baby...well this isn't nearly as bad.

But it still sucks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fell off the planet

Well in that last post, where I was going straight to bed because I was too wiped out to stay up for the election results?

Yeah, well I started puking right when they were announcing the winner. What was that? About 10:30pm? By 10:30am when we were trying to get me to the doctor, we ended up having to call an ambulance to transport me to the hospital. I had the worst case of stomach flu ever. After a whole day in the ER they admitted me and I stayed in the hospital for days.

By Friday Nicky started getting sick. Tom had my stepmother-in-law, JM, over to help out. They took Nicky to the doctor and got him some nausea medicine. He was still hydrated enough to go home.

By that night Tom was puking. He was picked up by an ambulance on Saturday morning. By that afternoon I was on the 2nd floor and Tom was up on the 4th floor. Tom's dad and JM were both home with Nicky. And that was the first time ever that Nicky spent a night without either Tom or I with him. I was so worried about him, but he was having a good time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Saturday Nicky was fine, but Sunday night he was sick again. That was a nerve-wracking night for everyone.

Monday I finally was discharged and came home. Tuesday Tom came home. Tuesday Charles came down with this flu, and now today JM is coming down with it. It's some kind of modern-day puke-plague. Hopefully everyone will stay hydrated enough to stay out of the hospital.

Aside from this plague, my Grandfather passed away Friday night. My mom had gone down to see him when he took a turn for the worse on the same day I went to the hospital. My mom was so worried about him and me, but she needed to be down there. She was there when he passed away. He had acute myelogenous leukemia. His funeral will be tomorrow, but we're still too sick to attend. He was my last grandparent. Fortunately we were able to have a really nice visit with him back in September.

Needless to say, the vacation that we'd had planned for this week has been totally blown out of the water. We had rented a cottage on Lake Lanier for Nov 8-15th for Tom, Nicky, and I and my mom, Liz and Jodi. I'm so glad Liz and Jodi were able to go. They're under orders to have enough fun for all of us. They said the cottage is really nice. So we'll definitely do this again. Hopefully it will work out better next time!

All I can figure is we were really meant to stay home this week. At first, when I first went to the hospital we thought I'd be better in time for our vacation. Then we thought we might have to come up a few days later, but we'd still make it. But then when Nicky and Tom ended up sick we knew we weren't going anywhere. We got the message.

So we're home. Eating meals of soup, toast and gatorade. Hopefully we'll be back to normal next week.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Going to bed

As much as I thought I'd be up all night, I'm about to keel over. I'm going to bed to have sweet dreams about an Obama landslide tonight.

I'll see how this all comes out in the morning.


Fingernails? What fingernails?

Today's the day folks. Tom and I voted Friday, so now all we can do is wait and hope.

If you haven't voted yet, please drop whatever you're doing and head to your polling place. Not sure where to go? Check here. Enter your address and it will tell you your polling location.

Every vote counts.

Thanks to Lisa for this great clip.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Cute Pirate and Typhoid Mary

Nicky the cute pirate was able to go to Boo at the Zoo again this year. Despite Tom and I both now sick with this cold (me at the beginning of it, Tom at the end) and Nicky having run a fever Wednesday night and most of Thursday.

Either I'm a really good mother, or a really good Typhoid Mary.

Nana was able to come with us this year since it was a Friday. She had a great time going through the zoo and seeing Nicky do his trick or treating. I was able to use her camera to get a few nice snapshots. Here's one to tide you over till I can get the rest online:

More soon. I promise!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Masterpiece

We finished the float on time, and it held together in the rain that we had the ENTIRE day of the parade as well. Photos were put together into a PDF by a colleague and she gave me permission to have it up here.

The theme for the parade was "On the Road to the Swamp." We designed a float to be a road, complete with grass margins, lines and street signs, that lead to a swamp, where our Dean of Libraries was cooking up a cauldron of Kentucky Fried Wildcat. Behind her is a giant cookbook on a stump. Surrounding her were cooking paraphernalia, swamp critters and natural materials.

The umbrella and visqueen covered book pages were concessions to the rain that was expected. Thank goodness it was down to a drizzle for most of the actual parade. The hard rain came down during the hours of the morning when we were transporting and setting up the float. But using a good amount of the visqueen we were able to put the float together in the rain without everything turning totally into mush. A lot of our props were made of paper mache and covered in washable tempera paint, so it was pretty ruined by the end of the parade. But it lasted through the event, which was all we really needed.

The driving even went well. I didn't run into anything and the dean didn't fall off the float, even though she was insistent on standing the whole way. (Even after my strict lecture on safety and staying seated.) We had a giant stuffed gator in the passenger seat of the truck, but he was probably pretty hard to see. I know he made seeing really hard for me! I ended up moving him down out of the way as soon as the parade was through so that I could see.

All in all, it was a huge amount of work, but I think the crowds really liked it, and the libraries could really be proud of our accomplishment. I hope the libraries do it again next year. (I don't want to be in charge though!!)

Click to see photos on the PDF here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's hope the float floats

I did finish that paper on time if you're wondering. Actually I wrote one paper, and then decided on a different theme so wrote an entirely new paper too. Even turned it in a day early. Booyeah!

Now if I can just get my CSS file to work right for my other class. Garhhh!

At work, I've been working this week full tilt on the homecoming float. Today we picked up the trailer and set it up. We got tons done and it's really nearly complete. Tomorrow we just have to go out for a few hours to finalize a few things and wash the towing vehicle.

Friday will be the day from hell though. Have to be there at 7:15am and drive 10mph in a huge truck towing a 16 foot trailer hoping it doesn't all fall apart, for 6 miles. Then we get to the starting spot by 8:30am and have to attach all the parts of the float we're taking separately. The parade starts at noon so we'll have plenty of time to overheat and get exhausted. AND there's about an 80% chance of rain all day. Not even kidding.

It'll be on TV in Gainesville. I hope Tom can tape it for me. And I really hope our paper mache doesn't turn to mush before the start (or end) of the parade.

It looks great though. Really. I'm pretty proud of it. I'll get photos.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wherein I blabber on while trying to avoid writing my paper that is due Tuesday.

Thought I'd let you know I'm finally better. My stomach still isn't quite up to speed, but the fever was gone by Friday and I returned to work Monday. This week was incredibly busy though, both with grad school and with work. Beyond my normal work I'm chairing the Homecoming Float committee for the libraries. This will be the first year the libraries will have a float in the Homecoming Parade.

How did I become chair you might wonder? Simple. I was out for a doctor's appointment for the first meeting. And they elected me chair. Not even kidding.

But it's going to be great. Really. We've come up with a great design, secured a donated flatbed trailer that we'll pick up this Wednesday, and we've been working on all the parts of the float for about two weeks or so. Lots of paper mache is involved, so let's all hope that there is no rain on Friday!

Nicky and I went to the park today while Daddy was off at my inlaws' house taking care of horses and mowing. There were at least two birthday parties there, and tons of kids. Most looked to be about 5-6 years old. Nicky did great and had an absolute ball. I had planned to take him to the pool afterward, but it has closed for the season. Aw well. Next year.

I suppose I ought to start working on my first paper. It should be pretty easy. It's pathetically short (only 1000 words!) and can be on any topic that we've discussed up till now in the semester. Trimming it down to one topic is going to be the hardest part. Ok, really going to start now. Well, right after I check my twitters...and maybe check on my rss feeds...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Not dead, just full of crap

Well, it's not a pretty title, but it is accurate. I've been home for 3 days and will be out again tomorrow with the stomach flu. I finally went to the doctor today. Figured 3 days of a fever and er, fluid loss, probably warranted a visit. I swear that the doctor entered all my symptoms into a program (does Google make a medical version for my doctor?) and then picked my diagnosis from a list of choices given by the computer. Is this really the art of medicine these days?? He said it's Acute Gastroenteritis. Yeah, pretty much sounds like latin for "stomach flu." Lovely.

So during this enforced hiatus from work, for which I'll be giving up probably all of my carefully horded sick days, I've managed to stay current, mostly, with my grad school-work and keep one finger on the pulse at work. Not that I can do much more than send emails that may or may not be coherent, but at least I'm trying. What? Did people actually used to take off sick from work and NOT communicate with their coworkers and boss? What was that like?

On the Nicky front, he ran a good 24 hour fever last week. Little booger probably gave this to me actually. But he got over his fairly quick with not really any other symptoms. He spiked another little fever along with some sad little sick-boy cries on Sunday, but 30 minutes of cuddling with his daddy and some ibuprofen and he was running around fine. Jealous a little? Just maybe. Although admittedly I'd much rather me be sick than him. (Just not for so darn LONG!)

Hmm, enough of the poor me I'm sick whining? Yeah probably.

Ok, I'm putting up a little movie of my 2.5 year old READING a book to the camera. Yep, that's right. READING! Ok, well not the actual text maybe. But still. He opened the book, and kind of knew that there were words inside. And man, he just gets the emotional upheaval that Grover is feeling here. Check it out.

Here's the book:

Here's the reader:

And here he is, reading me his bedtime story.

Such fun!

Next up, I'm trying to catch him on camera doing his drive-thru impression. He squeezes himself into this little space between a chair and the hutch and pretends to take drive thru orders. All of which include "Large Diet Coke!" Um, maybe we have a drive thru addiction?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

So cute

In the car tonight as we started home after a very busy evening...

"I'm soooo sleepy!"

He's so cute!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nicky's first joke

I keep forgetting to tell everyone this, but on the way home from our trip last weekend, Nicky told his first original joke.

We were passing by different animals. Horses "Horsies! Neeigghhh!" and "Cows! Mooooo!" was coming from the backseat.

Then we hear, "Doggies! Mooooo! Heh, heh, heh!"

We thought that was pretty funny at first, and then when we heard that chuckle we realized he'd done it on purpose. His first joke!


That was on the way back from our 4 day trip down to south florida. We went to visit a whole bunch of folks. My sister Jessie had flown down to stay at Liz, Jodi and my mom's house for the week, so we wanted to see her (and them!). And we just found out last week that my grandfather has lymphoma, so we wanted to get down there and see him too. He'd only seen Nicky a few times, and so we really felt we needed to get there to see him more. We stayed two nights at Liz's place and then a night at my Aunt's house near my grandfather.

Nicky got to meet my two youngest cousins who are just 6 and 9 years old. He had a ball playing with them. And it was great to see so many folks I haven't seen in so long. I think the only other time we'd been all the way down to Pt. St. Lucie was when Nicky was 3 weeks old and my grandmother passed away.

It was a really nice visit, and they all encouraged us to come again soon. We returned via the Turnpike and miraculously it only seemed to take us 3 hours to get from Pt. St. Lucie all the way to my inlaws house in Citra/Ocala! (They were so nice to watch our three dogs while we were away.) I think we must have traveled through some kind of time warp to do that, but it sure makes it seem like an easier, more doable trip! I think we might be able to swing a few more weekends down there over the next few months.

While we were down there, we found out my cousin James' son is being baptized this next weekend in Jacksonville Beach. So we're now planning to finally get up there to see them for a day trip. It only takes a bit over an hour to get there, and we STILL haven't met his FOUR children yet. What kind of a cousin am I? He's got three girls, the oldest and then twins, and a boy who is just turning one. His oldest I believe is about four, and the twins are right around Nicky's age I believe. Nicky should have a ball playing with them Sunday. We picked up a few little gifts for them today, and I can't wait to see them.


That leaves one more family set I haven't seen in, oh, forever. My cousin Alexis is married and has a daughter who is, geez, like five or something! And I haven't met her or Alexi's husband yet. Lame! Well we're finally going to get up there and see them.

Tom and I were planning a trip to North GA this fall, and then we decided to take my mom, and then we found out that Liz and Jodi were planning on going in November anyway, and so now we're all going up together a bit before Thanksgiving to visit for a whole WEEK! I'm so excited! I don't think I've ever taken a week off work except for being sick or having surgery...or a baby.

This will be almost like a real vacation! We'll still be visiting family (which I call a family trip, but not really a vacation) but we're renting a house for the week. It's a little 2 bedroom place right on Lake Lanier (which I hear is more like pond lanier right now, but still). It's cheaper than staying at the Amicalola lodge and it's right near where my sister Jessie works. She'll probably stay with us most of the time too.

This will be the first time we've been to GA since Nicky was born. It'll be a long drive, but I think he'll do fine. We'll just have to make sure to bring lots of distractions. And maybe the laptop and a movie.


The only other thing I can think of is that Nicky seems to be allergic to cats. We noticed that last weekend when he was sneezing and getting hives on his face in the houses with cats. He loves kitties though, and so we just washed his hands and gave him benadryl.

Actually come to think of it, this week he's been pretending to be a kitty. He meows and scratches. Which I think is pretty cute. But the best thing is that I can get him to eat sometimes by calling "kitty kitty kitty" and holding out food. Hey, whatever it takes!

We were doing this with his happy meal at McDonald's tonight. We'd taken him there to play on the playground after shopping for James' kids at Toys R Us. Nicky was so good in the store, even though I didn't really buy him anything. (Well except for a really cute little book that I remembered from my childhood: There is a monster at the end of this book)

He had a ball at the playground. It was one of those giant tube-like things where once they're in there you're not going to be able to get them out till they want to come out. But the weather was gorgeous, not hot for a change, the sun was setting and he was the only child there for most of the time. So really it was like a giant fun playpen and Tom and I actually got to sit and eat while Nicky wore himself slap out. He wasn't interested in the food at all, until he came close and meowed. Then I called "kitty kitty kitty" and held out a french fry. He ate most of his fries and burger that way.

Maybe if he IS the kitty he won't feel so bad if we can't GET a kitty later on.

Yeah, probably not. Well we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. With our three big dogs I'm not seeing any other animals coming into our family for a while.

(Aren't those famous last words? Knock on wood for me!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art, Education, Travel, and an Anniversary

Nicky wasn't too enthusiastic about paint if you remember. And crayons, well mostly he likes to line them up and stick them into things. Pens too actually.

But I think we've finally found his


Happy Anniversary to Tom and I! Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. I'm really not sure how it's possible it's been that long. I mean, I'm not possibly old enough to be married that long am I? Weird.

But what's really weird though is trying to imagine our lives together before Nicky came along. It seems like such a different life. And really, not one we miss.

For our anniversary Tom gave me a nice card and sent me flowers at work. I had picked out three different cards for Tom and hid them around the house for him to find. I'm so very sneaky. One was in the microwave under his keys, one was in his nightstand under his morning medications, and one was hidden behind the window blinds in the living room. Tee hee.

We went out to dinner (Tom and JM conspired and she babysat to give us the night out) and had sushi. What a treat!

Then we went to two shops we just can't go to with Nicky: the bead store and the little shop next to it that is filled with all sorts of imported fair trade art. Tom got a carved statue from India and bought me two pottery birds from Peru.

Then we stopped at the public library and checked out some books and movies.

And we were home before 9pm. Man are we pathetic or what? But we had a great time!

Grad school is cranking along for Tom and I. One of my classes is extremely demanding though. I think I'll make it, but it's a lot more work than I'd expected. Luckily my other class seems extremely easy in comparison. The good thing is that this really hard class is in web design, so I should make good use of it. Our group is designing a website for this statue/memorial. Pretty intimidating project, but I think my group can do it.

We're taking off for a long weekend to visit family, and we'll be taking the laptop to try to stay on top of our coursework.Later in the fall we're actually taking an entire week off to go to North Georgia. We're renting a house with my mom and Liz and Jodi, and it should be a lot of fun, a real vacation! We're very excited. The house we're renting has wifi, so we'll be taking the laptop for that trip too.


Speaking of taking a long weekend, we're finally getting down to south FL to visit my mom's side of the family. My grandfather isn't doing too hot, and we want to get down there to see him and let him visit with Nicky if possible. Hopefully he'll be feeling up to it. Nicky's a pretty energetic fella!

And he's a pretty emotional little fella too. I took this movie when his Nana left after this last weekend visit. Poor little guy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Finally rejoining the wireless world

Well we'll work on calling everyone who might need to know, but just in case we haven't told you yet, Tom and I are canceling our landline phone and now have two cell phones again. After about two years of no cell phones, this is a big step.

This time we hope it will be MUCH cheaper. We went with the cheapest AT&T plan for two phones. It's only 450 minutes or so, but they roll over and our calls to each other and anyone else on AT&T don't count towards that. Also, calls after 9pm and on weekends are free too. Since we rarely talk to folks during the day I think we'll stay within our minutes. All told it should cost 60$ a month, plus tax.

To make up for this new bill, we're canceling our landline and cutting back the cable to just the most basic plan. That should save us about 70-100$ a month on the Cox bill. We'll see how it all comes out in the wash.

If you need our new numbers, email us and we'll get them to you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

So, what did we do this weekend?

We had a very busy weekend. Our financial aid finally came in so we were able to pay a lot of bills, put enough in savings to give us a little cushion for food and stuff over the rest of fall, and buy something that will hopefully save us cash over the long run...

Sorry for all the photos, but I know Tom will enjoy seeing these on here. He's really thrilled with this car. I'm just happy it met my goals: Comfortable space in front, room for two carseats in the back, and good gas mileage. Oh, and the price had to be right of course. We paid almost half down, and the other half will be paid off in Spring. That will be nice.

So that's what we did Saturday. I am uploading a movie of us getting in the car to go to dinner right now. We celebrated by going to TGI Fridays for dinner. I think in the end, Nicky would have rather stayed home though. He prefers a PBJ (which is what he calls them now) to just about anything else.

Now today, we got up pretty early and did a lot too. We first went to Sunday breakfast. Then we were headed to the mall so Nicky could play. On the way we stopped at Rooms to Go where I put in a special order for bed rails. These will enable us to use the head and foot board that matches Nicky's dressers. They'll arrive on Friday and only cost 20$ which was awesome. We're planning to set this bed up in the den to make it the guestroom soon.

After that we headed to the mall. We got there about 15 minutes before they opened, so we pushed Nicky around the outside of the mall in the stroller for a while. Then we went to the salon where I usually get my hair done. I've been wanting to get a perm for a while but we had to wait till our fall money came in. It's kind of a late bday present to me.

They had an opening right away, so I stayed there and Tom and Nicky went to play. They were gone about an hour, but I was still getting wrapped. Nicky needed a nap, so we decided that Tom and Nicky would go home and rest and I'd call them when I was done. It took about 1.5 hours to wrap my hair, and then the processing took another hour. Then the cut took another bit. Pretty soon it was already 3:30pm when I was calling Tom to pick me up.

While I waited for him to arrive I went to the Clinique counter and bought a lipstick and brow liner. Nothing like a new hairdo to make you realize your eyebrows are invisible! That was such a splurge to buy makeup somewhere other than the drugstore!

Then on my way to go splurge on a bra I ran into Tom and Nicky. They came with me and I was able to buy myself one more bra. I only have one that I like, and so of course they've discontinued it. But they found the last one in my size. Yay me! Two whole bras!

Hmm, bra, lipstick, eyebrow pencil, perm and a volvo. I am so spoiled.

After that we headed to dinner at Nicky's Grandpa & Grandma's house. We had spaghetti, and I think Nicky ate more of that dinner than he has of anything all weekend! He just loved it.

By the time we got home it was after 9pm and time for bed. Nicky went down without a fuss. He's been really doing well the last few weeks and sleeping straight thru the night. Finally!

Oh, and on a side note, remember all the trouble we had with him and the Houdini poopoo messes? Well, since we moved him to his toddler bed we haven't had any trouble. Apparently by giving him the freedom to either come to the gate to call us or play quietly in his room, he no longer feels the need to strip down and paint. Thank goodness! I'm recording this here so that we can remember this if we have another baby who does the same thing!

So anyway, now that I've totally put off doing my homework for about an hour, it's time for me to actually get busy. Grad school isn't going to finish itself!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More Wordles

Just for fun I did this Wordle of a part of my blog. It's from all the text from the first half of 2007. That's a LOT of text!

Wordle from my blog for the first half of 2007

Here's another one from 2008, including Jan 1st thru today.
Wordle from my blog for 2008 till 9-6-08

This is such a neat tool. I think I'll try it sometime with some research papers and such.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Warning: Politics Ahead

I've seen posts about this letter regarding Sarah Palin that was supposedly written by a person who knows Sarah personally. It seems rather balanced, although definitely doesn't show Palin in a favorable light.

However, ever the skeptic, I did a little more looking to see if I could find out if this was real or not. I found this report from an Illinois newspaper. Looks like it's authentic.

I'll not say what my opinion is about Palin, although those close to me probably can figure it out, but I think this is worth a read for research purposes, so I'll post it here in it's entirety as I found it on this blog which I found out about from this blogger.

I will say, that I'm thrilled to be alive during the US presidential election that has both a black man and a woman running for office. Sometimes I wondered if I'd ever see that day. Well that day's here, and in some ways I feel like we win no matter who gets the most votes. (Although I sincerely hope the vote goes my way of course!)

------start copyrighted material: Copyright 2008 Anne Kilkenny-------

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

You may distribute it to your friends/email list with my name and email address attached, but I’m NOT willing to have it posted on a webpage with my name and email address attached (there’s too many kooks out there!)

Bottomline: the only thing Sarah Palin has in common with Hillary Clinton is her gender and good looks. :)



I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome . There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was criticizing her pay as too high in the press . I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since •“NRA supporter”: absolutely true •social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no •”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents •pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008
--------End of material copyrighted to Anne Kilkenny---------

Note: She requested her email not be released, so I'm not including it here. Although it's out there in the internets if you really wanted to find it.

Cool Web Feature of the Day: Wordle

This is a neat little tool. You may have seen tag clouds before. In fact on the right side of my blog is a tag cloud that shows my del.ici.ous bookmarks this way. Basically it's a representation of information where the size of each word is related to how many occurrences of that word there are in a set of information.

Well, Wordle is a free online tool that allows you to input text and then see a word cloud made from that information.

I saw these this morning on Tongue and Groove. She'd entered in the candidates' convention speeches. I think they're worth looking at.

Then just for fun I made one of my blog's latest posts:

Then, I tried to think of a few really good speeches. Here are the ones I thought of first:

Martin Luther King's I have a dream
Wordle image

Brown v Board of Education Decision 1954
Wordle image

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Wordle image

Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman
Wordle image

Susan B. Anthony's 1853 speech after being arrested for voting in the presidential election of 1852
Wordle image

This is a pretty cool tool!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Take a Hike Ike.


New photos up for August! Just in time for September to roll around.

New-ish things for Nicky lately...

Not only can he take off the safety doorknob covers, he can also open the really complicated gate we had on the den and had moved to his bedroom. This is the gate that adult visitors always have a hard time with!

When we moved that complex gate to his bedroom door, we bought a cheapy plastic gate for the den. Well he can just pull that one right down now. Super.

He likes to tickle daddy, mommy, the dogs, toys, etc. He'll say "Tickle Daddy" while he's tickling Tom, "Tickle Abbey" for Abbey, etc.

He had a little jewelry box of mine full of old earrings that he played with for a while. They were his "treasure!" (said with a pirate accent of course) We finally took them away since they were so small and he's still into putting everything in his mouth. But Grandma and Grandpa got him a toolbox of his own and he just loves stashing things in it. It mostly seems to hold his binkies.

Speaking of binkies, I don't know if we're ever going to get rid of them. He just won't sleep without them. We finally gave in and bought a few new ones. So now he somehow has about seven of them. Not usually all at once though. There were 8, but one was run over with the lawn mower. Oops.

As for Tom and I, we started our graduate programs last week. They're all online at FSU's College of Information. So far so good! I hope the rest of the semester goes as smoothly.

Well, on the tropical weather front, we did just fine through Fay here. All our family seems ok so far too (with the big exception of Juliet's car). Gustav also missed everyone, although it looked bad there for Tampa for a moment. Somehow they dodged the bullet again though. I am very glad that NOLA didn't get hit too terribly with flooding. Thankfully Gustav slowed a bit before landfall and landed a little away from them.

So now we're looking at Hanna, Ike and Josephine. All in a row. It seems Hanna will miss us. Maybe she'll send some rain up Georgia's way though. They could use it. Ike looks very ominous though. Already a category 4 storm and headed for the Bahamas. I feel for those islands. Man, they can't catch a break! They've been pounded by Fay, Gustav and Hanna already. Looks like Ike is headed right for them. Maybe Josephine will peter out before she reaches them at least.

Anyway, we'll be watching Ike, and if it looks like he's headed for the family down south, well you all just head up our way! Tom's already said if Ike's headed in towards us, even though we're high and in the middle of the state, we might be leaving town. We'll see what happens.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sting, Wasp. They're not just band names anymore.

Tom, Nicky and I got home this evening after they picked me up from work. Tom was tired and sore and just wanted to take a nap. I was tired and cranky about not getting the dinner I had been looking forward to for two days. (Yes I am that shallow sometimes.) Nicky was tired but happy to squirm down and run into the yard.

He didn't come when we called him to go inside and instead ran around the side of the yard. Tom was already inside, so I walked around to the side of the house calling Nicky to come. Before I could even see him I heard "Ow! Ouch! No!" And then met Nicky coming towards me. He had a grumpy face and was clutching his arm saying "Owie, Ouch!"

I looked and could see he'd been bitten or stung. Immediately I thought about snakes and spiders, but there was only one red spot, no blood and no dual puncture marks. I knew it could still be a spider or a sting though, so I asked Nicky what happened. He said "ladybug owie." Well, anything remotely bug-ish is a ladybug these days, so that didn't rule out anything.

I tried to get Nicky to come with me into the side yard to show me what bit him, but he just said "NO!" and did not want to go back over there. I called Tom and took Nicky inside to the kitchen. His arm was red and you could see the spot was puffy with a red center. It was a pretty big center too, not like a tiny bite.

Tom could tell right away it was a wasp sting. He got a cold pack from the freezer and I held that on it for a bit while Tom got the sting meds from the first aide kit. We put that on and a little bandaid and I kept the ice on it a bit. We gave him ibuprofen, but couldn't find any children's benadryl (we'll have to buy some).

Once Nicky was comfortable and playing in the living room I asked him if he wanted to come outside with me and show me what happened. He said no. He was totally NOT interested in going outside at all, which is unusual, so we can tell that sting really hurt him.

I went out to look for the culprit. And there, right under the electical box on the side of the house was a wasp nest covered in wasps. It was just about the height where Nicky could easily reach up and grab it. I'm sure he saw them, thought they were nice fun bugs, and reached for them. I'm so thankful he was only stung once! There were about 6 of them on the nest when I saw them and he could have been hurt much more.

I went inside and told Tom. He went out immediately and killed the nest with spray. So no more for now.

But the really surprising thing to us...Even thought Nicky was obviously upset that ladybugs turned on him and it definitely hurt a lot, he did not shed a single tear. No crying at all. He said it hurt, and "owie" a lot, but no real fuss. I think his biggest fuss was over having to take medicine, but even that wasn't bad since he actually likes the taste of that ibuprofen ok. I guess he's either got a really large pain tolerance, or he's just very stoic. Maybe both. It probably helped that Tom and I stayed calm during the whole thing, but still!

So Nicky's first big sting. Before this he'd only had mosquito bites. We watched him carefully for any reaction, but he's fine. We'll keep an eye on the site as well. I'm putting up a few movies now, and you can see he was doing just fine tonight as we put him to bed.

Gustav and Hannah spinning in the sea...


Man, we just got rid of Fay and now there are two more storms coming to take her place. And it seems several others are hot on their tails too. At the moment it's really not looking like either of them threaten our part of Florida, but I can't stand the thought of another hurricane hitting New Orleans either. I well remember how horrible that was, even for those of us with no family or friends there.

I know Katrina was not on the same level as 9/11, but in some ways it makes me feel worse. I suppose I feel that way because while 9/11 was unspeakably horrible and terrifying, it was an act of terror perpetrated by evil people, and I'm not sure there was really anything we could have done to prevent it.

But Katrina's destruction, it just feels like we should have been able to have prevented it, or prepared better, or even that we just could have dealt with it better after the fact. It feels like a gigantic failure, and I feel guilty about it. Not on a personal level, but on a national one. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I've been thinking about that a lot as the computer models from Gustav have started showing LA as a possible landfall location. I don't even know what to hope though. I mean, I certainly don't hope it hits FL either.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fay is finally gone away

Well, we made it fine. LOTS of rain, but we're high enough that we didn't have any problems. We'll have to drain the pool and clean out all the leaves and junk before we can use it again, but that's fine.

I'd taken Wednesday and Thursday off to have some visiting time with my mom. We made it out of the house on Wednesday, but then we were confined to the house Thursday through Saturday. We made a break for the store on Saturday between storms, and then not 30 minutes after we returned we actually had the most violent storm yet.

Tom's patch on the roof held well and there aren't any more leaks into the bedrooms, so that's a relief. Our actual roof repair job will be rescheduled since they're really busy right now fixing storm damage on other homes and it'll probably be raining Friday anyway (that's when they were going to come originally).

So I finally got to go to work today, after 5 days off! Wow that was a LONG weekend! And what do I get in my Twitter feed?

Oh that's just perfect. Well, at least we won't have to worry too much about this one till next week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fay is here today


Looks like today is Fay Day around here. This is the current picture. So far we're getting a lot of rain here, but we're pretty high so I think our house is going to be ok. We have picked up most everything in the yard so they won't fly around. We have bottled water and some canned and dry foods. The only thing I wish we had done before would be to get more propane for the grill, but then again I wouldn't know where to keep it. Wouldn't want that flying around and wouldn't want it in the house.

We still have our power on, which is very good. That's really what we're mostly worried about. It really only takes one good limb or tree falling on a line to mess with the power.

I took yesterday and today off to be with Mom. She's visiting us over the last week and we've had a great time. It was so nice to spend yesterday with just the two of us shopping and going to the art museum. Today we've been sipping tea and playing cards while keeping up with what Fay is doing. Tomorrow UF is closed which is such a relief! I really did not want to go in with this storm sitting right on us practically so I'm awfully glad they finally decided to close it.

So far we've heard from the folks down in Pt. St. Lucie. They're flooded around there although it sounds like my relatives homes and business are ok. My cousin's car had a tree fall on it though. I'm just glad she wasn't in it! They said the wind wasn't too bad (especially compared to Frances and Jeanne in 2004) but that the rain was just insane! US 1 is totally flooded and they had over 2 feet of rain. That's just nuts!

Jodi said she's ok in Lake Placid and the storm isn't affecting them anymore. She didn't sound worried at all so everything must be ok there. Liz finally called us. She's in Orlando for an art seminar and has had a lot of rain and a tree fell on the building she's in. But she is fine and the building must not be too damaged since they're all still there. We were very glad to hear from her though. We were worried!

Now I have a cousin up in Jacksonville, so hopefully he and his family are all ok. They're close to the beach, so are probably getting a lot of wind and rain.

Nana's in Tampa and should be fine. Charles and JM are in Ocala though and probably are getting tons of rain. Hopefully they'll not lose power for too long. They're prone to outages in their area even in the best of weather.

That's the update for right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you sure you don't want to visit?


I don't know about you, but this storm still looks mean to me. I know it's still technically not a hurricane, but after crossing most of Florida it's still got a clear center of rotation.

I hope everyone south of us is ok. And looks like everyone up here will be getting it tomorrow or Thursday. We'll see.

Tourist destination? Not this week.

Hmm, so basically Florida isn't the place to be for the next 5 days.

Tom and I had planned to go to FSU for orientation this Thursday. But with all the uncertainty about Tropical Storm Fay we don't feel comfortable traveling and leaving Nicky. Aw well. Saves gas money!

My mom has been visiting us for the last week and it's been really wonderful having her here. She and Nicky are enjoying each other's company and he'll sure miss her when she goes. Liz is at a seminar in Orlando for the week. I'm pretty sure she hadn't counted on having a view of a tropical storm from her hotel room, but I guess it's complimentary along with a continental breakfast. I'm sure she'll be fine, but hopefully her seminar won't be interrupted by a power outage.

So far UF is open and I'm working as normal. I'm really hoping to have Wednesday or Thursday off though. I might still take Thursday as a personal day even though we're not traveling. It would be nice to have a day to spend with my mom before she goes and I'm still nervous about Fay, even though everyone else seems pretty lackadaisical around here. I know it's not hurricane strength, but that's a lot of rain, and you never know about tornadoes. I remember all too well Jeanne and Frances in 2004 and going days without power!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Good thing he's so cute


We found him again sleeping by the gate to his room. Twice actually. Once when he fell asleep there before we went to bed ourselves and then he was there again this morning. Tom had gotten up with him (again!) at around 3am and stayed in there till around 5 but Nicky wouldn't lie down and sleep. So Tom came back to bed and we just listened to Nicky's repertoire till he conked out right there.

And MAN was he mad when we woke him up at 8:30am! Tom was actually a bit gleeful to get to wake Nicky up for a change. (only fair right) Well Nicky pitched an absolute fit in the car on the way to work this morning. And didn't even want to kiss mommy goodbye. Poor kid.

Now I'm at work waiting for them to come pick me up. I should have left at 5:30 but Nicky JUST went down for a nap at about 4:45pm. So Tom's going to aim to pick me up at 6:30.

I hope he sleeps tonight!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Where in I keep typing and hope Nicky goes to sleep

After putting Nicky to bed, it's become a nightly occurrence for him to come open his door, stand at the gate we have in his doorway and try to talk us into coming back to lie down with him while he falls asleep.

He's actually quite good at this verbal manipulation and adds new material almost daily. Some of his favorites:

"Daddy, more cuddles?"
"Lie down?"
"Come back!"
"Come on"
"You promise!"
"What are you doing?"
"Where are you?"
"I NEED you!"
"Binky!" (after throwing all four of his binkies into the hallway)
"Toot toot!"
An alarm impression (maybe an alarm clock, maybe a fire alarm?)
and his #1 way to express irritation with someone..."You Stupid."

It seems like only yesterday I was anticipating the joys of his learning to talk and create sentences of his own.

Tonight though he did do something cute. He was looking out the window while Daddy drove to pick up dinner. He said "Hi cow!"
I was pretty sure there wasn't a cow walking down our street, but I asked him if there was a cow outside. He said "no," but then said "Hi there cow. Mooo!"

So I went to look outside. In the yard across the street was a dog with a white face and grey body along with a black and tan dog of questionable heritage. He then switched to saying "Hi puppy!" and "Give kisses?" He just loves dogs.

For a minute the dogs went out of sight into some greenery and I said "Where'd they go?" Nicky said "where they go?" and then, lowering his head, he said softly, mournfully "Oh dear. It's my fault."

He's just so funny. Of course I told him it wasn't his fault, and then pointed them out when they reappeared. He was just being dramatic. What a ham.

He does stuff like this all the time now. I put up a bunch of new movies, and several of them (ok,six actually) are of him during a single morning when he dismantled the sofa and played with the cushions for something like 30-45 minutes straight. (Hey I had like 9 of these, and I narrowed it down to 6 AND even cropped some of them!)

In one of them he climbs to the top of the stack of cushions, very precariously, raises one arm high and declares "Super Hero!" We have no idea where that came from.

He's also getting really good at following some instructions (when he feels like it). He helps feed the dogs sometimes by gathering their bowls for daddy and then putting their full bowls down in their places. This is great for the dogs too. They associate him with bringing them food and see him as a source for good stuff rather than competion for food or as the constant annoyance he can be. One of his favorite things to do is pull tails and feet, sit on them, put his head on them, and hug them too tight. We tell him to stop, or make him stop. And he apologizes to them, but we have to find a better way.

One thing I tried the other day was an actual time out. Benjamin was with us in the living room and he was tugging on Bobo's tail (Bobo is Benjamin's nickname). I told him to stop at least twice, and I know he heard me and understood. But he just looked at me, still holding the tail. I got up and put him nose facing into the corner behind the front door and told him to stay there for two minutes. (One minute for each year of age is the rule of thumb.) It took a few times of moving him back before he got that he was not to move. But eventually he did a full two minutes in the corner, well with at least one foot in the corner. (Baby steps!) After his time was up I told him why he was in time out. I emphasized that he was in time out for not obeying when mommy told him to do something and that he has to listen to mommy and daddy. He was hurting Benjamin's tail and when mommy said to stop he has to stop right then. While hurting (well sort of, but mostly annoying) the dog isn't ok, the punishment was really for not obeying. I had to think that through myself while he was in timeout.

It seemed to make an impression and I think we need to use it consistently. It's hard though. Nagging and repeating are so much "easier" but of course they're not effective. (Otherwise we wouldn't have to keep doing it!) I think to do them most effectively we need a designated time out spot and a timer though. Have to pick one up soon. Till then we'll just use the real clock.

Hmm, it's been quiet in his room for about 20 minutes now. I think he finally went to sleep. It only took 2-3 times of putting him back in bed tonight.

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's just not fair.

It's been a heartbreaking few days. As some of you know, I've been on a mom's message board since 2005. I joined a group of women who were all newly pregnant and due in March 2006. We got kicked off one board, moved to another, and then another. And then that board split, as seems to be a natural occurrence when a board gets really large.

These women and I have been online friends now for three years. We've supported each other through the happiest of times and the saddest of times. Most of us gave birth to healthy babies. Some had additional challenges, with pregnancy complications, premature labor, and genetic disorders. A few of us had miscarriages or our babies were stillborn. One lost her husband in a tragic motorcycle accident. And now, horribly, one has lost her son.

It's been hard trying to wrap my brain around how something like this could happen. Or maybe what I mean is "why" something like this could happen. I mean, sure I know as well as most that accidents happen all the time. But for an accident to have such tragic results is just so unfair.

I know you're thinking "Duh, who said life is fair?" But I suppose I still hold onto that childish naivety that life is actually, in the end, fair. That in some cosmic way karma keeps score and the good are rewarded while the bad are punished.

And Henry was very, very good. And even more important, his big sister is too.

Please think of the Berlin family today as they do what no parent should ever have to do.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rock my world why don't you.

So last night Tom made a fabulous dinner of lamb, potatoes, and a spinach salad. He also made brussel sprouts and corn.

For the record, I've always hated brussel sprouts. Always. It's one of those constants in life.

But I thought I'd be brave and try one, you know just to say I did. And guess what.

I liked it.

What the heck? Is there just nothing sacred?


Notice the new link over on the right? If I had a radio station, that's what it would sound like. Probably Liz will remember most of those songs. Ah, a trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Big Boy Bed

I managed to take a little movie of Nicky this morning sleeping in his big boy bed. it's hard to see because it was still pretty dark in his room, but I turned on the light for a minute for you. And I showed how we have the beanbag on the floor for me to sit in and his crib in the closet for now.

And just in case you're one of the folks who are wondering, tomorrow I take a HPT. I don't even know if the clomid worked yet though. My temps are all over the place, but they may have been affected by my CPAP machine. So I'll take an HPT every three days or so until the cycle is over.

An interesting new technology

In one of my committees I explore virtual worlds and how they might be used in library marketing, education and services. Google recently released Lively, a new virtual world that is accessible via your web browser. I created this room for my AHJ pals to visit. Take a look! (You'll have to download the Lively program to actually visit, but it's pretty neat.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update: Well, he did fall out of bed

Just to update you on the big boy bed switch. He did really well last night. We went to check on him around 11 and he was sleeping soundly. Pretty much in exactly the spot he'd been in originally too. He must have been ready for bed.

Around 3 am I heard him calling "Momma! Daddy! Where are you?" and jumped up to get him. He was standing at his gate, the light was on and Nana was looking around.

Turns out he fell out of bed (it's only about 8 inches off the floor) and Nana woke to see him sitting there. She asked if he was ok and he asked to "See Daddy?" She told him Daddy was sleeping and asked if he wanted to climb into bed with her. He climbed up, and was still for a few minutes, but then he wanted his binkies. He couldn't find them though so she had gotten up to help him find them. One had fallen between the bed and the door. That's when I came in.

We turned off his light, and turned on his music. I noticed he was pretty wet so I changed his diaper. Then I pulled his bed out from the wall to find his binky. I was walking between his bed and the wall, holding Nicky and feeling with my feet for the binky when I lost my balance (not at my best at 3am). I fell right into sitting down hard on his bed. Thank goodness it held! That bed is sturdier than I thought!

I retrieved the bink and sat in his bean bag chair to cuddle him for a few songs. I'd put this in his room so I could sit next to his bed to read him a story before he first went to sleep. It worked out well. (I'd have been stuck in there if I tried sitting on the floor!) After two songs he was ready to lie down again. And he went right to bed, sleeping through the night. He was still sleeping when I left the house at 8:30am.

What a big boy!

Now I can't wait to hear how nap time goes today. I'm not optimistic about that one. We'll see.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Big Night Tonight

Tonight Nicky is sleeping in his new big boy bed. It's been a good 30 minutes so far and he's not yet tried to come out. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Saturday night after dinner, Tom went to take return a movie rental. Nana and I decided to take Nicky in the swimming pool. (Did I already tell you Nana bought us a 3' deep pool? I'll have to take some photos.) While I was changing him into his swimming diaper and trunks I thought his trunk felt a bit too hot. His cheeks were cool, but his tummy was pretty hot. He'd been running around the kitchen, so I wasn't totally sure it wasn't just from running around, but we decided to take him in the pool anyway.

We swam around for about 10 minutes or so. Just until he started shivering and his lips were purple. (I always thought my mom was just making that up when I was a kid. But nope, his lips really DO turn purple when he's cold.) Then we took him out and warmed him up. Lucky for us, Daddy's return from the video store right then sidetracked Nicky from his usual Getting Out Of The Pool Tantrum.

We warmed him up, got him in his jammies and put him pretty much right to bed. I may have let him watch a little of Animusic or something, but it wasn't much. But when we went to check on him later he was obviously burning up with a fever. (Cue Mommy-Guilt)

We gave him ibuprofen to bring it down. It did reduce the fever, but it never fully went away. He had it all day Sunday, but it really didn't seem to cause him any discomfort. It was up to 102.9 at one point during the day and we called the pediatrician's office. The nurse said that at this age the risk of seizures from fever were in the 105+ range, so unless he was that high or showing signs of discomfort, lethargic, vomiting, etc. it wasn't anything to come in for. If he seemed bothered by the fever we could alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen every 3 hours, but otherwise it was fine to just hit the ibuprofen every 6 hours.

So we kept that up all through the night. At 9:45pm it was up to 103.9 (these were rectal temps, so subtract one degree for the oral temp equivalent). We didn't get much sleep that night. (Especially since Tom was coughing all night. He's had a cold for about a week now. I've finally gotten over my 2.5 week cold.) By the time my alarm went off I knew I wasn't in any condition to work, and Tom was even worse. I stayed home and watched Nicky while Tom slept.

I'd say by noon today Nicky's fever was totally gone. No telling what it was. The nurse had mentioned Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, but I haven't seen any bumps or rashes yet. Hopefully we won't have that.

Anyway. In the afternoon around 4:30 we figured we'd all get out of the house. Poor Nicky hadn't left the house since probably Thursday. We went to pick up a few things at the new SuperWalmart in town. Well, we got the few things and we also got a bathtub bubble toy, Nicky's new big boy bed, new Mickey Mouse bedding, a new baby gate, and an ice cream maker. (Thanks Nana!) So much for the little shopping trip.

But it was fun, and we got out of the house. When we got home Nana put pizzas in the oven for dinner and Tom started working on the bed. He finished putting it together while I bathed Nicky after dinner. It was a REALLY fast bath because we had a thunderstorm roll in just as I started washing him. His new bubble toy was a hit though. It's like his outside bubble machine, but it's a little smaller and suctions to the tub surround. I closed the shower curtain partway and let him enjoy his tub-o-bubbles.

After Tom set up his bed and made it up with his new sheets we had a story and a snuggle to his music and then set him into his bed. He's got 3 binkies (usually it's between 2-7 actually. Didn't want you to think we're spoiling him or anything- HA!) and he's snuggling his two teddy bears (kissy bear and bunny bear), his penguin (ping-ping) and Wendel (his worm- same as in this old photo). Usually they're just IN his crib, but he was actually grabbing and hugging all of them when we left.

It was kind of a whirlwind transition actually. Not really any preparation for it. So we'll see how it goes. His crib is still in the room, but there's no mattress in it because the big boy bed uses his crib mattress. Suppose if we absolutely had to we could move the mattress back into the crib, but right now there's a bunch of Nana's stuff in the crib. So it wouldn't be easy. Hopefully we'll make it through the night in the big boy bed.

As for the gate, well we need something to keep him IN his room at night. Otherwise he'd surely go wandering out. We do have the chain lock on the front door, so he probably can't get out that way, but still there is plenty of trouble he could get into at night alone. We bought a gate, but it's not one with a swing door. So we moved the swing gate from the den to Nicky's room, and put the new gate on the den doorway. It'll work for now.

I'll take some photos or movies tomorrow of the new bedroom set up. It won't be long before we have the guest bed set up in the den with the computers and Nicky will have his room all to himself. Pretty exciting stuff.

In the meantime, I have three movies up for you now. These were taken today at lunch. Nicky's fever was finally gone and Nicky was eating his pasta. In one you can hear him saying "delicious" which is so fun to hear! In another he was asking where Grammie and Aunt Liz are. And in another you can hear him show off some of his curse-word vocabulary. *sigh*

Not sure what to do about that. Usually we ignore it, but I had to giggle in the video knowing I was going to have to put that online. When he did it later at the store I just asked him to please not curse in public. What are you gonna do?