Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Week of School

Digging around in Alex's new backpack tonight, I found a piece of paper folded up about 18 times.

Unfolding it was like opening a Christmas present.

For once I had it completely, 100% unfolded, it became clear that this was a note Alex wrote to us sometime last week. Most likely on the first day of school.

I pressed it for a few hours, to try and flatten it as best as possible.

This is what the end result looks like:

It was worth the wait.

Tonight was also significant in that it was the first time Ryan has had homework.

He was so excited to come home with his homework folder. If he brings back his completed work tomorrow, not only does he get a sticker, but even more exciting, he will get to visit the beloved treasure chest.

So while Alex read his Neil Armstrong book from this week's book bag, Ryan and I did his homework.

He was particularly proud of his little "a"s in his name.

As was I.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A new apple tree

Team Danger hereby pledges to purchase, transport, install and maintain a new apple tree for Safety Mommy.

RIP, Golden Dorset Apples

I've officially given up on my apple tree.

This was its third summer. The first year, it just grew and seemed to be doing pretty well.

Last year, it actually produced some apples.

Some critters (squirrels, I assume) ate any apples before I could pick them. But at least they were there.

This year, it was green for a bit. But no apples ever grew.

And now it looks like this.

I'm going to dig it up this weekend.

Good night, sweet apples. I would have liked to have known thee well.

On a plus note in my garden, my passion vine has started blooming. Its finicky, and only comes up in late summer. Its not snaking around my tree very well, preferring instead to take over the rosemary and other nearby plants. But I love waking up and finding the flowers in my backyard.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Little Black Belt

This past Friday, August 20, Alex received his Black Belt in TaeKwonDo.

We had a bunch of family in attendance: my mom, Sandie, my aunt, Cheryl, and my grandmother, Bebe; Carl's sister Elaine, her husband Drew, and our nephew, Connor; and Carl's cousin, Staci, and her daughter, Bailey.

Because this was such a special event, I didn't take photos during the ceremony, opting instead to video the event. First up was Ryan, receiving his Tiger Cub Blue Belt. He was still a bit under the weather, but he still managed to pull through for the ceremony. Next up, Carl received his Senior Red Belt. Next stop for him is his own Black Belt. Both of these new beltings I taped perfectly.

And finally, our six year old became one of the youngest Black Belts ever at his school. They called his name, and BEEP.

My battery died.

So, no video of Alex receiving his Black Belt from Mr. Aherne.

No video of Alex receiving his Black Belt certificate.

No video of the nice speech Carl made to Alex, expressing how proud of him he was.

I'm hoping someone else ended up with some photos I might be able to use. But since Bailey was taking pictures for her mom, Elaine was busy with Connor, and my mom and Cheryl are still pretty new to digital cameras, I'm not holding my breath.

I took a few photos afterwards to try and make up for the lost ceremony memories, but ... sigh... they will live on only in our mental memories.

We celebrated at home afterwards with some cake and pizza, and then the kids (including Noel and Tati) went for a night swim before deciding to move the party indoors and entertaining us with their dancing.

That part, at least, was a stellar success.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of First Grade

Today was Alex's first day with his new class for first grade. I can't write that it was his first day in his new classroom, because his new first grade class with Ms. Stading is in the exact same classroom that his old kindergarten class with Ms. Gittinger was in. He's happy enough with that fact, though, because "I already know where to go and I won't get lost."

This was also Ryan's first day back at preschool after his tonsillectomy. He is in a new classroom, as well, with a new teacher, Ms. Pam. He's in what Country Home calls their "private kindergarten." Its meant for the older kids, like Alex, who just miss the September 1 cut-off. But we were so pleased with Alex's experience there that we did our best to get Ryan signed up for it, as well. He was also happy to be going back, and of course, Mimi also started back up at Country Home.

My alarm went off at 6am, and then Alex woke up at 6:15 a.m. But he told us it didn't go off for long, because he was already awake and dressed. He was ready to go back to school! Either that, or he was really nervous. But he said it was because he was so excited.

Carl took requests for breakfast. Alex wanted three (!) eggs and bacon. Ryan wanted mini-pancakes. I wanted Diet Coke.

Then it was off to Spicewood.

Alex will start taking the bus tomorrow morning, but on the first day, even though they don't want you to walk them to their rooms, we do. It was a big difference from when we walked him in to class for the first day of kindergarten. There was total silence in the classroom. All the children were sitting at their tables, doing a worksheet. They went in, hung up their bags, and sat down. What I wouldn't give for that kind of power at home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Keeping Ryan Occupied


Thank God for Netflix.

Especially Netflix's "Watch Instantly" feature which is hooked up to the TV via the PS3.

And thanks to the Netflix Gods who came up with the sheer brilliant idea to load up the three seasons worth of Backyardigans episodes. At roughly sixteen episodes per season, I have forty-eight episodes ready to start within seconds. We only have three saved on the DVR, and if I hear the "Robot on the Rampage" songs once again, I might lose it. But with Netflix, he can watch "Surf's Up," "Racing Day," "Escape from Fairytale Village," and so many, many more.

Oh, and thanks to the Netflix Gods who grant unlimited access to the Watch it Instantly shows. Way back in the days, we were once limited to something like 20 hours per month of watching instantly. TGFN those days are over!

Other than watching Backyardigans, Ryan has been playing with LEGOs. Shocking, I know.

We've also discovered a shortage in Play-dough in the house, but thanks to an emergency run to Target, we now have twenty-four full size cans in a rainbow of colors.

And he's been coloring and drawing.

This one is my favorite. I think its quite good for a 4.5 year old.

At first I thought the two people were sleeping. But no. That's Alex on the left, and I'm on the right.

Ryan is flying up above his ship, at the top of the picture, in the center.

We've run out of his pain meds, but fortunately, we have one refill. I was a bit afraid I might run out in the middle of the night. When he wakes up at three am, screaming, its never a good thing, and it takes forever to calm him back down and get back to sleep. 

In other news, while Ryan has been convalescing, Alex is at gymnastics camp this week, with his friend Carson. Its at the Capital Gymnastics in Avery Ranch, further away from our house, but its such a nicer facility than the one close to us, I've stopped complaining. Even Alex is happier with it than the one on McNeil, and I don't think its just because Carson is there, either. Its huge - almost three times as big as the one we've been to in the past.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


While Ryan has been re-cooperating this week, I've been working at home. And in typical Annalynn fashion, before I could start working, I needed to clean off my desk.And reorganize the home office. So I've dusted, disinfected, and gathered up numerous bags of items to go to Goodwill.

But I'm still left with two disturbingly large boxes of miscellaneous artwork and schoolwork created by Team Danger over the past year. I went ahead and purged the bulk of the worksheets, as well as the random daily drawings of  spaceships and Star Wars figures.

And yet, I'm not even breaking the ice on the amount of hand crafted, drawn , and painted goodies.

Alex spent two weeks in art camp this summer, and I have an entire box of items just dedicated to his creations there. That doesn't even include all the items we've already placed out on display, like the two liter bottle of magic potion, his dragon wings and tail, his shield, and his chalice.

 Here is Alex holding his magic potion, and wearing his wings.

And then there was this one ...

Trash, you might think to yourself.

Ah, but you would be wrong.

This is ... a dragon.

A dragon I was told we could not throw out.

I mean, seriously... where on earth does a parent keep this kind of thing??

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well it was a big weekend for Team Danger... Alexander passed his TaeKwonDo black-belt test, we attended a Cub Scout pack meeting / swim event, and Ryan stopped drooling... well.. let me explain...

Ryan has been making remarkable progress with his terrible wound... in just 2 days he went from grunting, moaning, drooling and complete refusal to take his medicine.. to talking again, eating his weight in ice creaming, eating spaghetti-Os and Ryan-made brownies, taking his medicine without batting an eye and light-saber fighting with his brother. So he's making definite progress... and more importantly, he's feeling happier. Poor little guy ;-(

It's been one thousand four hundred and twenty-eight days and Alexander is now the proud recipient of a brand-new TaeKwonDo black belt. He started the day he turned 3... which in retrospect turned out to be a bit too young.. but at the end of the day, he worked incredibly hard, listened well to all his many instructors... and earned himself the right to call himself a black belt. He often asked me if someone was "giving" him his new belts.. and I kept telling him that NO ONE gives you a TaeKwonDo belt... you earn it and take it.. there are no gifts in TKD... you accomplish what you want to accomplish... He's a month shy of his 7th birthday and already he's done what few children ever have the opportunity, or the ability, to do. Both Annalynn and I are extremely proud and awed by our eldest son.

Here he is sparring:

And here he is helping out with Ryan's Tiger Cub TKD class.. they both had a lot of fun... you can see (R)yan, (A)lexander, (W)ilson (one of our fav instructors) and Mr. (Aherne).

And of course, here is Ryan looking proud in his very-white uniform:

Ryan is so determined to be a "Duh Boy" just like his big brother.. and he's doing a fantastic job.. in fact age-for-age he's doing a better job, since waiting a bit to start was I think very good for him.

We also had a scouting event... while Ryan convalesced at home with mommy, Alex and Tiger Leader Daddy went to a pack meeting / swim event... it started with a crazy water balloon fight

and ended with an ice swim and water testing belt-loop/pin event... Alexander with his swim-team experienced didn't even break a sweat with this:

A productive Team Danger weekend!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Well, the moment we've been anticipating finally happened: Ryan's surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. This is supposed to stop his recurring strep throat problem (nine times this past year), and our pediatrician and two different ENTs we saw all agreed this was the way to go.

He liked this ENT doctor who would be performing his operation, Dr. Slaughter, because he had verified to Ryan he could eat as much ice cream and chocolate shakes he wanted for two weeks.

So we're in the room, Ryan on the hospital bed, and we're told he needs to take off his Team Danger t-shirt, and wear a gown with Bugs Bunny and friends on it. Problem no. 1. Ryan starts crying.

Then the anesthesiologist comes in, talks with us, and explains he will get to play a Star Wars video game and shoot at things. And when he shoots, he'll get gas that will knock him out, and then they will do the IV. Then they ask him if he wants to ride a bike into the room, or walk. He chooses to walk.

Except we are then told to go to a waiting area. Without Ryan. Problem number 2. My last image of him for forty-four minutes was of Ryan being carried off by the anesthesiologist, with his hands reached out for us, screaming, "Mama! Mama! Maaammmaaaa!"

Twenty-one minutes goes by. I attempt to read. The doctor comes to see us, says its done, and he is fine.He's in recovery, and it will be a bit longer, but then we can see him.

When we finally get to see him again, I hear him before I see him. He's crying and screaming he wants to go home. It was awful. He kept crying, "My mouth! My mouth!" and "I hate this hospital! I'm never coming back here! EVER!" "I don't like this doctor! I'm never going to the doctor AGAIN!"

They gave him some morphine to try and calm him down, but it didn't help much. They did let me get in the bed with him and hold him, but he was still so upset. He didn't like the IV at all, and he especially detested the toe clip to measure his vitals.

The nurse told us it would be better if he would sleep, that he would feel much better once he rested. It took forever trying to calm him down, but he finally did sleep.

When he woke up again, she asked him if he wanted a Popsicle. He declined, asking for ice cream (as he had been promised). Only THEN do they tell us no dairy for the first twenty-four hours. This was a serious letdown for Ryan. The ice cream was the main thing he was looking forward to out of all this.

We were there for what seemed like forever, and yet, in my mind, it wasn't nearly long enough. He is supposed to drink a lot of liquids so that he doesn't get dehydrated. He had a bit of water, and then we tried to give him some of his painkiller medicine. Which he promptly spit out. We tried again. And again. And again. He's too big to force it down his throat, and he just isn't swallowing. After about 20 minutes, he got some down, and promptly threw it up. Repeated steps 1-9, and Ryan repeated his final step of throwing up.

He takes a bit of a nap, but if we would have gotten a full dose of hydro-codeine in him, it might have been more than a bit of a nap. It was like this all afternoon. And evening.

At one point, his fever was up to 102. Our instructions were to call in with a fever above 101. Of course, the highest fever comes after 5pm, so we have to page the doctor and wait. And wait. We're given permission to give him some Tylenol for the fever. Which he also spits up. But at this point, he is just so exhausted from fighting us and the medicine that he falls asleep.

I slept with him all night, and every few minutes he would wake up, moan and whimper for a bit, and after I soothed him, he'd fall back asleep. This went on. All. Bloody. Night. Between 3:00 a.m. and 3:45 a.m., Carl and I performed another painkiller attempt, finally with a bit of a success. So we did have about ninety minutes of uninterrupted sleep.

Today hasn't been much better. Possibly worse, although his fever is mostly under 101. We were called in a prescription for Phenegren suppositories, which is supposed to keep him from throwing up his medicine. So now, before every 30 minute struggle to give him the meds, I also get to give him a suppository. If I wasn't already in hell, this sealed the deal.

I had purchased the LEGO Star Wars Plo Koon ship he most wanted, and this present was waiting for him when we came home from the hospital.

LEGO Star Wars Plo Koon's Starfighter 8093

But it didn't really help much.

He did ask us to build it, and he did assemble the two new characters himself. It hasn't left his side since we built it. He even sleeps with the ship.

And he sleeps with Plo Koon and RD-7. There was a bit of hysterics about 5:15 a.m. when he realized Plo Koon's lightsaber was somewhere not on Plo Koon. Fortunately I found it with minimal sleep loss.

Grandma and Papa stopped by to visit last night, and by this afternoon, Ryan was at least feeling somewhat okay enough to play with the Iron Man car gift they brought.

And when Jeff brought balloons and a gift from Noel and Tatianna, he at least got up and came to the door. Even if he isn't exactly talking yet to say thank you.

He finally started letting us spoon some crushed ice into his mouth this afternoon in extremely small doses. He's using those old baby spoons and putting about four little pieces of crushed ice on it every ten minutes or so. Hopefully, this will be enough to keep him from getting too dehydrated. And I'm just praying it gets better soon. I don't think either of us can take too many more days like this.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lucky Thirteen

Monday was our 13th wedding anniversary.

Every year, rather than exchanging gifts, we celebrate by going somewhere together. This year we chose the Outpost Inn in Round Top, Texas, and stayed in their Casita on Saturday night.

The place was lovely, although the breakfast was simply standard. Not the five star breakfast I was led to expect from their website, TripAdvisor reviews, and even from the guest book in our casita. I suspect that was because Big Danny was our chef, rather than the owner of the B&B. But I did love our room, especially the bathroom. I'm a sucker for a big Jacuzzi bathtub.

And  I found the perfect reading spot outside.

We ate lunch on Saturday at the Stone Cellar. The marghareita pizza was to die for, and we shared a bottle of Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel.

Afterward, we shopped, and I even managed to find my requisite Christmas ornament, which I always seek out as a souvenir on a trip. I'm not fond of mugs or snowglobes as souvenirs, but an ornament is special, and something I can visit with every year, for a short period of time before it gets packed away and doesn't clutter up my house for eleven months of the year.

We went to see Twelfth Night performed that evening, and shared a picnic dinner and more wine. I was a bit worried when I read that the Shakespeare at Winedale performances are held in a barn, but there were plenty of fans so that we weren't *too* miserable in the heat.

We especially enjoyed the Shakespearean cows that the drama students had created.

Sunday, we tried out Royer's Cafe for their famous fried chicken. It was quite good, although it was way, way too much, especially since we were there right at their opening, since the fried chicken is only sold for a maximum of three hours on Sundays, or until they run out. Its a bit of an institution in Texas, and was recently featured on the CBS Evening News as one of the best fried chickens in America.

All in all, it was a fun weekend spent in Round Top, Texas, population 77.  I wonder what the new census count will be? ;-)


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