Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning started at a decent 7:36 a.m. Once again, Santa left a few smaller items in the boys stockings hung outside their room, and I'm pretty confident this bought us at least an hour. Especially since most of those smaller items were mini LEGO sets which required assembly.

 Santa also left a few items in their main stockings by the chimney.

 We had a great morning, and everyone got what their hearts most desired.

Even superhero LEGOs.

 And Harry Potter robes, scarves, glasses and brooms, to go with the wands they picked up this summer at Wizarding World.

 When the morning was over, we had a great big mess, Ryan at play on the floor with his Power Ranger Samurai Megazord, Alex walking around with his Guitar Jamz, and Carl busy with .... my iPad.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The End of theYear of Shamus

Even though I was massively under the weather, we spent December 23 at Sea World. It was the last use for our year long passes, and we just love going to Sea World at Christmas time to see how beautifully its decorated.

The weather was cold - very cold  - but it was dry. So Atlantis was out. The kids rode on all the kid themed rides, like the Shamu coaster.

And then we had several special events planned. The first was lunch with Shamu. We'd never done this before, but this year on Black Friday they had a sale so I could buy the lunch tickets at 60% off. So we did.

This was great, and we all agreed it was a very special Sea World memory. You get to go back behind the Shamu stage, eat a buffet lunch (Alex, who has been obsessed with buffets since Disney, was over the moon), and you watch the trainers train the orcas.

They come up very close to where you are, and the boys loved it. They especially loved the trainer, and asked him a LOT of questions.

We walked through the Candy Cane Forest, where Alex, much to my disgust, did his best Christmas Story impersonation.
 And we watched the Polar Express in 4-D once again. It didn't snow the way it had in years, past. Bummer.

Our other special event was that we had milk and cookies with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

And we always love just walking around the park at Sea World. You never know who you are going to meet!



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Comes to Town

We've been tracking Santa's progress all day across the globe thanks to NORAD - right now Santa is in Rio de Janeiro.

And yesterday, we finally had a chance for some good one on one time with Santa Claus.

As suspected, Ryan had a hard time limited his requests for Santa. But the jolly old elf said he would do his best for him, but laughed, "No promises, ho ho ho..."

 Alex limited his request to just one item: the remote controlled video spy plane. His grandparents are supposed to be giving him this tomorrow, and I'm a little afraid that he might be disappointed he has to wait until the afternoon to get it. He's expecting it to come from Santa, so we'll see how this goes.

One of the pluses of watching Santa's flight across the world, is that once Santa leaves Europe, the boys freak out he is on his way to the Americas, so they went to bed nice and early. And they instructed us to hurry on to bed, too. They know Santa won't stop by if anyone is still awake, you see. If only I didn't still have a million things to do...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lunch Chefs

While Carl and I were finally outside decorating the house, the boys were mostly inside to avoid the cold and let Alex rest.

They would come out periodically to ask us if they could do something or eat something or watch something, and several times they asked us when it was lunch time. Apparently, they got tired of hearing "later" as an answer, because they took matters into their own hands.

Around noon, Ryan came outside and announced it was time to come inside for lunch. Carl and I came in, and the boys had not only completely set the table for us, but they had "cooked" and put plates of food and drinks at our spots.

Now, this wasn't exactly the lunch I would have prepared, but the fact that my boys had warmed up leftover pasta, sausage, "tore" up some salami and ham, poured out some shredded cheese, and added a Christmas cookie to the plate made this just about the greatest lunch I've ever been served.

The best part? Dessert was still to come, because as we were told, the cookie on our plates was part of "lunch," and should in no way be considered dessert.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"4-6 Weeks"

When Alex was first given the diagnosis of HSP on November 20, we were told that he would be suffering form the symptoms for 4-6 weeks.

We've been thorugh a lot of ups and downs over the past month, and I've eagerly been anticipating the arrival of our 4-6 week mark. Given that he first had symptoms of HSP between November 13-16, I was hopeful we would be over this by now.

Alas, as the pediatric nephrologist told us last week, "4-6 weeks is the textbook case, and not all kids read the textbook."

Outwardly, Alex has been looking significantly better. The spots are fading. He's had a lot more energy, and almost no joint pain.

He's puffy - very, very puffy - the result of taking steroids for the past month.

As an example, here he was just a few days before he came down with HSP.

 I was having lunch with the boys at school, and snapped a picture of him and Liam together to text to Carl.

And here he is when we tried to take pictures for Chris and Al's holiday card last week. He's all puffy, he's got dark circles under his eyes, and no amount of chapstick is helping his cracked, chapped lips.

But its not all outside appearances with HSP. We were warned that kidney problems are the biggest risk associated with HSP, and we thought things were okay. Two weeks ago, however, the amounts of blood and protein in his urine were rising, and his blood pressure is rising, so we were referred to a pediatric nephrologist. We like him, which is good, because he and his partner are the only two in Austin. He definitely made us feel more comfortable about Alex's health, and Alex really liked him. And Alex really, really liked the Star Wars themed patient room.

First up, Dr. Simon recommended a 24 hour urine collection. We didn't want him to miss more school than necessary, and since the labs are closed on Sundays, we started it yesterday, at 5:37 am when Alex woke up. The big orange jug had to refrigerated, which I think was one of the most disgusting things I've ever had to do. Mom said it could be worse, it could be stool samples, but still... I'll be sanitizing the fridge tonight. I drove the orange jug to the labs this morning , and now we have to wait a week for the results to come back and be analyzed.

In the meantime, Ryan was brotherly enough to 'share' his strep throat with Alex. Mom took him to the doctor today when he woke up not feeling well. He didn't have a sore throat, he just didn't feel well, was complaining about being hot and then cold, and his legs were hurting. But we can't take any risks while he has HSP.

Next to the kidney problems, a reduced ability at fighting sicknesses is the other big risk with HSP. Which means we are batting 0-2 when it comes to HSP complications. I still keep hoping that we will wake up next week and everything will be better.

It hasn't happened yet, but it sure would be nice to have a Christmas miracle and get Alex's health back to normal.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa's LEGO Workshop

On Alex's Wish List this year:

1. Skylanders Video Game for PS3, and lots of the accessory pieces
2. Disney Universe video game
3. Air Hogs Remote Control Video Spy Plane
4. Electric Guitar
5. Power Ranger Samurai toys and video game

Noticeably, there are few toys. He mostly wants video games, which is truly a sign that he is growing up. :( Other than the electric guitar, he's getting most of these items between our gifts, Santa's gifts, Ryan's gifts, and grandparent's gifts. So all in all, he should be happy come December 25.

On Ryan's Wish List this year were no less than 38 LEGO items. I explained to him that he needed to pick a smaller number, or else Santa and his family members were going to be too exasperated to choose just a few for him.

So he narrowed it down to just five groupings.

1. The LEGO Death Star
2. Batman LEGOs
3. Indiana Jones LEGOs
4. Alien Quest LEGOs
5. Power Ranger Samurai toys

Now, the Death Star LEGO is $399.99. Plus tax. So no matter how hard Ryan prays and no matter how much he truly believes in the miracle of Santa, a Death Star will not be waiting for him under the tree on December 25.

The Alien Quest LEGOs are reasonable. They aren't one of the more popular LEGO sets, so I've actually been able to pick up the bigger sets at Buy 1, Get 1 50% off sales. The Power Ranger Samurai toys were also easy. I took both boys shopping, separately, so they could pick out gifts for the other one, and they both picked out Power Ranger Samurais. Pretty cute. I had to steer Alex away from a few items  but I think I did so discreetly enough.

The Batman and Indiana Jones LEGOS, however, are even more problematic than the Death Star. LEGO isn't making them currently, so the only place to see them are in the video games, in the LEGO character sticker books Ryan has, or on ebay. And the ones on eBay have been obscenely over-priced. As in, they make the Death Star look like a bargain.

I've tried to explain this dilemma to Ryan, so that his expectations are lowered. But Ryan has remained steadfast in his belief in Santa and his workshop, and always counter-argues with me that Santa and his elves can make any kind of LEGO, so it doesn't matter what they sell in the LEGO store.

And despite my legal training, I get stumped. How can one possibly debate with such a brilliant, well-reasoned, well-spoken argument?

Flash-forward a few weeks, and I find myself one lunch hour inside Toys R Us. I walk in the store, glance to my right, and what do my wandering eyes spy but... Batman LEGOs.

And not just Batman, but a whole wad of DC superhero LEGOs. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, and some bad guys, too.

There they were.

On the shelf.

Just waiting for me and my American Express card.

For Ryan.

From Santa and his elves.

Just like he believed.

I was in such shock, that I think I just might even hear the reindeer's bells this year if the Polar Express stops by our house.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Look Ma, No Training Wheels!

Our own neighborhood is too steep and hilly for beginning bicyclers, so teaching the kids to ride their bikes has always involved driving to a nice, safe, flat surface. We've found office building parking lots on weekends are the perfect spot.

After a few misfires this summer, Carl finally took Ryan out for a successful bike riding lesson while Alex has been home resting.

Part of the reason why this summer misfired so spectacuarly was that it was hot. So Ryan didn't really want to be out doing something that wasn't fun for him. But it also meant he was wearing shorts, and after a few falls and more than a few scrapes, he would call it a day.

So we dressed him up in Alex's skateboarding gear for extra protection for our post-Thanksgiving lessons. Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist pads.

And it WORKED!

Yes, there were a few spills.

Some more difficult to take than others.

But all in all, it was a success.

The training wheels are OFF!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ryan's New Belt

 Last week, Ryan received his Level 3 Green Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Next up comes his Blue Belt. Since Alex went through the TKD ranks, they've made it tougher to get the belts. It used to be that each color only had two levels. Now, there are three, so it takes you even longer to move up.

 He's doing a great job, and is super proud of himself. I've been a bit worried that since Alex and Carl stopped doing it this summer, Ryan might lose interest. But he is very determined to succeed and is firmly convinced that Alex and Daddy are just "waiting" for him to catch up to them.

Ryan and Mr. Aherne, his instructor.

Ryan and Travis.
Travis is one of Alex's classmates, but don't tell Ryan that Travis isn't his friend, too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sharing is Caring

Mornings at home are up and down.

You never know what you are going to get when the alarm clock goes off.

Some mornings, nothing goes right, the boys are fighting, I'm yelling, and we're all in tears. We eat frozen waffles.  We might even forget breakfast. And I wonder why I ever thought I could be a working mom. Or just a mom, period.

Some mornings, everything goes right, the boys get along, we eat a warm breakfast I've cooked, everyone dresses themselves without even being asked, and we're all smiling and laughing on the drive to school.

Today was a combination of both.

Despite the freezing (27degrees!) temps, we all woke up on time, I showered and dressed, and came downstairs to a wonderful sight: two fully dressed little boys who were not only playing well together, but they had created a second Christmas wish list. One of presents they wanted that they could SHARE.

  That's right.


It bears repeating.

My heart warmed up about two thousand degrees.

Could any parent be so fortunate to have such wonderful children?

I then made eggs and sausage, and they decided to sword fight with marshmallow roasting tongs.

Not exactly Team Safety this morning, are they?

Since it was cold, proceeded to go warmup my car.

Only to find my battery was dead, because a certain smaller someone had left a light on it in the back of my car.

Two nice neighbors later (thanks Bruce and Jeff!), I had my Mommyvan charged, the boys bundled themselves, and we drove off.

We pulled up at 7:42am, and the boys even managed to get in the building right before the bell rang.

It was the best of times, and the worst of times.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crowning Touches

Our home updates continue.

We had crown molding added to our living room and one of the downstairs hallways today.

For whatever reason, when our house was built, they put crown molding in the front hallway and in the first two rooms  of the house - the dining room and the office.

It always struck me as add that they didn't extend it to the living room. Its always something I've wanted to add, but somehow we never did.

When we painted recently, we knew we were going to put up the molding, so we left the edges undone to save us the agony.

Its been driving me crazy the past month, and today, at least one little part of my life got a bit less crazed.

We're so happy with our carpenter we're planning more work for him. Carl wants to add some more built in bookshelves, and who am I stop him?!


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