Home Up

January 10, 2005

For our New Year adventure this year we decided to play at grownups and go out for dinner.  We found a sitter, got dressed up and went to the Tavern on Long Ridge in Stamford with Lisa and Joe and Lisa's mum Linda who was in town for the holidays.  Great fun.  Party atmosphere (free noisemakers and silly hats) and good food.  We even got up on the dance floor a few times, and made it to bed at a fairly reasonable hour for a change.  See getting old.

Unfortunately Jinks the puppy didn't stay with us for very long.  We had been taking her to obedience classes and were working hard on training.  We were told later that she was all hound, and in retrospect that makes a lot of sense.  She was so rough that we could never leave her out of the cage in the house or she would attack the kids.  If we tried to pat her she would always bite, and when she was outside she'd go wild.  After one particularly bad episode when she knocked Anna to the floor we were faced with the sad and guilt ridden decision that she would have to find another home.  We took her to the shelter in Westport, and they had no doubt that she would find a child free home very quickly.  We'll try again, perhaps in the Spring.

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Christmas was a lot of fun -- Anna was really excited by the sight of the presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  She still hasn't got the Santa thing -- when we took her to have her picture taken with him she wasted no time getting away from him.  On a second attempt I did manage to get her onto his lap for about five screaming seconds.  Jack, who had been perfectly calm, caught her panic and joined in.  But on the day itself she tore open all the wrapping and fell in love with her new play kitchen.  Jack was underwhelmed by his new cars and legos, but was happy with the empty boxes.  

January 30, 2005

The second week in January Anna wasn't feeling too well.  She had a bit of a cough and was sleeping worse than usual.  We waited through the weekend then decided to take her to the doctors' on Monday morning.  Moments after the first look she was being hooked up to a nebulizer to give her lung medications while we were being told that she needed to go to the hospital.  I was thinking, "Okay, we can run home and throw some things in a bag, then go down"  "She has pneumonia -- you need to go right now!  In fact, we're going to call an ambulance for you -- you can't waste any time."  We thought she maybe had strep throat.  Ha!

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Bundled in to the ambulance and off we went.  In the emergency room it took three attempts to attach an intravenous line which she did not like one little bit.  Then chest x-rays.  Two hours later she was in her room, gowned and miserable. and minus the IV which her skin absolutely rejected.  And that meant nasty tasting stuff by mouth instead.    For the first day and a half she allowed the respiratory therapists to put a mask on for delivery of the pulmonary meds.  Then when she started feeling better getting her to wear the mask became a major battle that reduced me to a trembling wreck.  The therapist took pity on us and allowed us to give her the meds by just holding the hose in front of her nose.  And the first couple of days when she was awake she said "Mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy" nonstop, endlessly, even when I was already holding her.  She was so miserable and totally exhausted -- I would finally get her to sleep only to have someone come in minutes later to poke or prod.  A result of that was that when we got home it took over a month for her sleep pattern to return to a semblance of normality.

Meanwhile poor Jim was dealing with Jack at home on his own, managing very well.  They'd come to see us once a day, and a couple of times I actually took Jack home for his nap while I took a shower and changed clothes before heading back to my hospital cot when he woke up.  Jack had a much lesser version of Anna's problem so Jim was giving him treatments at home with our new, very own nebulizer.  

Anna wasn't going to be allowed home till her oxygen levels stayed up close to 100, and it started in the eighties.  Five days later we reached the magic number, and after watching every video in the hospital collection we were out of there.

We spent Christmas dinner with the Ferraros, and due to the day's excitement and lack of nap, combined with a fall after trying to climb into the little sleigh Lisa uses for display,  Anna decided to throw a fit at the dinner table so she and I retreated to the basement playroom for the duration.

 March 20, 2005

We thought we were over the nebulizing days, but hah!  Both kids had signs of a cold and this time we took no chances and were at the doctors' office when it opened.  Anna was put back on a modified treatment, but Jack was threatened with hospital if his symptoms didn't improve by the next day.  We went home and gave him mega treatments, with a final dose half an hour before the follow up appointment.  And it worked (I would have done almost anything to avoid another stay in the hospital).  So he's getting the double treatments, and we'll taper off and continue maintenance doses for both until the end of March -- hopefully the end of cold season.  But nothing stops them from wearing hats:

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We have what I like to call a flock of deer in the back garden.  Somehow they just don't fit the "herd" description.  And they're not really in our back garden, but they have an established trail which extends the length of Douglas Drive and which winds through most of the properties on the street.  While I love watching them as they pass by, it annoys me that I can never hope to grow roses or some other flowers because the deer think nothing of jumping our fence and chowing down on those tasty treats.  

On Sunday morning I was looking out of Jack's bedroom window while changing him.  We can see a lot more of the back of the property from up there as it slopes away from the house.  We saw the flock of deer but they were particularly skittish and soon took off.  Moments later I glimpsed a large dog following in their tracks.  As I watched it I realized it was pretty big for a dog and it was definitely tracking the deer.  It took me a few seconds before it struck me that I was watching a coyote -- it had the telltale reddish tinge to its fur and the wolflike facial features.  Funny: I always thought coyotes would look like Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons -- scraggly, scruffy and skinny -- but this specimen was very well fed with a nice sleek coat.  Though it was limping a little.  I dragged Jim out of the shower to come and see before it ran out of view.  As we watched, a companion ran in from the right, and this one was BIG.  Bigger than a German Shepherd, obviously the male of the pair.  They both took off after the deer as we managed to catch some video but no stills.  

Jim suggested we take the roast out of the fridge and throw it into the trees to try to lure them back for a photo op.

Later in the afternoon we saw them again, but not since that day.  And the deer haven't been on their regular schedule and when we do see them, there's only two or three young ones.   One evening while the snow was still on the ground this reduced flock was actually in the garden, over by my rockery eating the bushes.  I shouted and barked at them out of the window to no avail.  Then I opened the door and  jumped up and down on the deck.  No response.  There's a few tennis balls out there, leftovers from Jinks, so I grabbed them and lobbed them deerward.  Of course with my aim they landed nowhere near.  Then the deer wandered over to sniff the balls.  They're retriever deer.  Here are Anna and I watching them:

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June 6, 2005

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For Anna's birthday this year we invited all of her friends from playgroup and had a "Dora the Explorer" party.  Dora is Anna's favorite character of the moment.  Jack's are Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder -- his first words other than Dada and Mama were Bob and Pa-Ba (or "backpack" to those of us not in the know -- Dora travels with her backpack.  

Anyway, we had Dora music and a Dora cake.  We had a whole Dora game, with a backpack for each of the kids, a map showing the obstacles on the way to the birthday cake, and the necessary accessories for the adventure.  While everyone was in the kitchen I set up the Rainbow Tunnel in the family room, which they had to find and go through using their flashlights, before following the trail to Lily Lake using their binoculars.  This I ran up and set up in the kitchen while they were in the family room -- a circular blue tarp with foam lily pads.  And while they were all stepping around the Lake I ran back downstairs and pulled Cupcake Mountain (our indoor slide with two giant cupcakes attached to the sides) out of the basement.

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I had made the assumption that this game would take the better part of an hour from start to finish, handily using up a chunk of our three hour party timetable.  But obviously I didn't know my three-year olds too well.  They finished the course in about 15 really noisy minutes, leaving me panicked with another 45 to fill.  Luckily they decided it was so much fun they had to go round again, and again.  All in all, a great success.

Anna has been working on her counting.  When we're in the car and are about to go under a bridge, she has a countdown, "two, free, four, nine, ten, leven, nine, ten".

July 21, 2005

Here's a hint of what's to come....

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The latter part of June was spent in Scotland, allowing Jack to meet a few more relatives and old friends.  This is all old hat to Anna who visited before Jack was born.  Due to work pressures, Jim could only join us for the first five days, flying home and leaving us in Glasgow for another week.

We were somewhat nervous about the kids' abilities to travel well, not least because Jack wasn't allotted a seat and would technically be spending the flying time on my lap.  But we were pleasantly surprised.  The first hour or so was a little rough on the way over, but finally they both fell asleep and we put them on the floor in front of us (fortunately we had the bulkhead seats) where they slept for about three hours.  The flight was late leaving and late landing so we missed our Glasgow connection but eventually arrived at Jane and Mary's.  We had one day to recover before picking up our car and heading off.  

I'd forgotten how light it stays at night in Scotland.  This didn't help the kids adjust to the time change much, and it was a week before they would go to bed at a decent hour.  And when they  did go, it was to share the same bed as me.  A couple of times I woke up unsure of where Jack was, only to find him five feet away, curled up on the floor sound asleep.  He'd rolled off the mattress and never woke himself up.  He did the same thing In Tighnabruaich at Allan and Mo's where we had the biggest thunder storm that I can remember and which lasted most of the night.  It was bad enough that houses in Arran were flooded and lots of roads were washed out.  But we also had our usual wonderful time with the Neills and Jim was briefly introduced to the great game of shinty while we stood at the end of the crooked Kyles field.  At one point as we headed to the swings, the ball was hit toward us and came screaming at a high rate of speed, hitting the fence a little to close to Jack.  

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Our car had a talking GPS system which Jim took great pleasure in trying to stump.  Tighnabruaich totally confused the poor thing and it kept trying to get us to go back to Strachur after we'd alread turned onto the New Road -- a wee 24 mile detour (maybe it liked Strachur because the word fitted on the screen).  But it did get us to Oban so that Jim could tour his favourite distillery.  That morning I woke at 8 in our hotel and thought I'd have a bath before everyone else got up and then I'd have time to get them all dressed and down for breakfast.  Bathed and dried I picked up my watch to put it on only to find I'd actually woken at 6.  Blech.  I hate when I get up before I don't need to.  Expecially as it's extremely rare that I'm left in my be of a morning.   Kippers for breakfast made me feel a lot better.

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We headed back to Glasgow to get Jim on his plane and then I had a great dinner with Deirdre and Carrie -- our biannual get-together.  Jane chanced my driving enough to treat us to a visit to the new Science Center on the south side of the river before I had to take the car back.  Anna and Jack had a terrific time, pressing buttons and making things go.

I met up with old friend Averil and her girls for a morning in the Botanics, discovering purely by accident the wonderful childrens' playground which kept everyone occupied for a good two hours.

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Cliff came up from Bristol for the weekend, and after some confusion, got settled into a hotel on Great Western Road, the view from which has inspired him to do some Glasgow paintings.  He and I took the kids to the Transport Museum so that they could see steam trains and funny old cars.  The replica of the old Glasgow street has a cinema which shows their grandfather's film,  "Seawards the Great Ships", though Anna and Jack didn't get the significance of that yet.

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And on the Sunday, Jane and Mary had a crowd over for drinks in the garden.  Betty and Zander, Ginny and her family, Gerry, and Jeremy and Natalie (we saw Judy and Christine earlier).

On our return trip during the Heathrow layover snafus abounded.  We had Anna's UK passport with us, but not her American one.  We were asked for her Green Card, which of course she doesn't have.  Many phone calls to and from various authorities -- at one point it was suggested that we may have to go to the American Embassy the next day for clearance for her to fly  -- but luckily we must have looked so pathetic that pity was taken on us and we were grudgingly allowed to fly by the Immigration office.  Naturally, this info was not passed along to the many additional check points which awaited us, the last of which was at the boarding gate where Jack pooped mightily to show his displeasure at the delay.  

We had brought a portable DVD player with us, primarily for entertainment purposes on the plane, but wouldn't you know, when I plugged it in an hour into the transatlantic flight home, it had died.  Never mind.  Anna fell asleep quickly on the floor and Jack joined her an hour or so later after reading Thomas a few times.  The flight was overbooked and we had no empty seat beside us, but an attendant who took pity on us found the one free seat on the plane and asked the gentleman beside us if he'd mind moving.  So that worked out a lot better than expected.  However, after his three hour nap, Jack refused to sleep again for 20 hours.  That's a really long time.

October 18, 2005

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I've managed to miss three months' worth here.  Let's see:  all in all, August was fairly eventful.  Jim's niece Stacy and her daughter Arianna came to visit at the beginning of the month.  This happened to coincide with a whole lot of other things and in left the rest of the month rather  boring. 

So.  Jack had his second birthday and was presented with a train table.  This is almost more of a gift for us since now we won't be tripping over bits and pieces of track and trains all day.  Recently, and until now, Jack would get up in the morning and first thing would be setting up his track in the middle of the family room where it would stay till bedtime.   Now there's a home for all his bits and pieces.  He's nuts about the characters in Thomas the Tank Engine.  Especially James the red engine, who he calls Dame.  The Gods showed up with a Cozy Coupe car for him, and that's another great hit.  We'd actually been looking for one of these in the local consignment stores with no luck.  With both of these gifts, Jack was front and center when it came to assembly.  He watched Jim using the screwdriver for a few minutes then reached out and tried it himself.  Same thing with the car.  Maybe we've got a handy boy....

August also brought the hottest weather of the year, and all of it in that two week period at the beginning of the month.  So on the 13th (the absolutely mostest hottest day) we all piled into the car and drove up to Waterbury to see Thomas the Tank Engine in person.  Anna and Jack were both thrilled.  Thomas took us for a half hour ride through Waterbury in old cars from the days before air conditioning.  At least the windows opened a few inches.  But it was very hot and humid.  The organizers had set up a tent with four or five train table layouts which we went to play with next, and I know Jack would have been happy to stay there till he got over this train thing.  But onto the rest of the month.

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We picked up our eight week old puppy, Dalla, pictured in my July entry, the next day.  After our bad luck with Jinx we decided to hold off on a puppy until we were able to find a Flat Coated Retriever, which had been Jim's dog of choice all along:  it's a very mellow breed, even more so than Goldens, they love kids, and don't demand constant exercise.  Through one of Jim's clients we had been in touch with a breeder up in Madison who put us on her waiting list, and Dalla is the result.  We went to meet the puppies in July and had fallen for this one particular little girl with the funny ridge down the middle of her nose where the hair went in different directions.  But the breeder was matching potential owners with the different pups so we didn't know who we'd be getting until the day of pickup in August.  And we got the one we wanted.  Dalla is a Scots word for darling or sweetheart, and so far she seems to be just that.    

At the beginning of September Anna started preschool!  She's going to West Norwalk Nursery School which isn't even half a mile from the house.  She's going on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (Jack is slipping into her Tuesday morning slot with Auntie Sharon so I get a whole three hours a week to myself!).  The first day I was having coffee upstairs with the other new parents while the kids acquainted themselves downstairs.  Anna cried for a good 45 minutes at the start, and I could hear every cry.  But things started looking up fairly soon.  By her third week she was excited about going to school, and not crying when I left, though she still tends to be a bit clingy.  And she's still terribly shy but I hope school will help bring her out some more.

November 3, 2005

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A sad start to November:  we lost Buzz today.  I knew that he was getting up there in age and that weve been lucky to have him for so long, but it still knocked me down when it happened.

He'd just eaten lunch  and was squirming around on the kitchen rug and acting a little strangely, but I wasnt really paying attention because the kids needed to go for naps.  When I came back down I heard a banging noise from the basement and thought at first that maybe a raccoon or something had gotten in.  When I opened the door, it was to see Buzz lying at the bottom of the steps:  what I had heard was him tumbling down the stairs.  His back legs were bent strangely and he couldn't move them.

You know when cats are in great pain, or worse, they often look for somewhere dark to go and hide till its over, and I think that was what he was doing.  But I picked him up and brought him up stairs and sat on the floor with him.  He had completely lost all movement in his rear end, and I could feel the warmth leaving his back legs  - a sign that circulation had stopped.  He kept trying to walk, dragging his back legs and it was hurting me to watch him.  I was thinking the worst, but hoping so much that I was wrong.

Jim came home and I packed Buzz up and took him to the vet.  She told me that most likely a blood clot had gone to the base of his spine and it had caused paralysis of everything from his front legs back.  There was nothing to be done to restore motion so we had no choice but to give him the shot.  I sat with him, cradling his head in my hand as it took effect.

Then I cried all the way home in the car.

He has left a big old hole in my life he came to me just after my Mum had died, was my solace then,  and hes been my buddy ever since.  A good fifteen years of lap sitting and bed hogging.  A handsome boy who will be much missed.

November 2005

We often get coupons in the mail for free photo shoots at a local mall.  Here's one of the latest results:

December 2005

A legacy of the summer of 2005 is the knee immobilizer I'm currently wearing on my left leg.  Not quite the fashion statement you might think, but rather a dirty white brace built of metal rods and velcro.  It didn't start out dirty when I put it on at the beginning of November, but six weeks later it's definitely gone several shades of grey.  Who decided that making these things white was a good idea?

On Labor Day we were all hanging out by the pool -- Anna and Jack sitting on the steps and cooling their feet -- when Jack slipped and fell in.  I ran up the side of the pool and jumped in after him.  Of course, it being the shallow end, there wasn't enough water to give me any buoyancy so I hit the bottom like a rock  Jack was fine (this was his second leap this summer into a body of water, the first being the Ferraro's hot tub), just a little scared but fully recovered after a few minutes on my lap.  But I was feeling twinges in my knee from my hard landing and the pain just didn't want to go away.  About two months later after an MRI we finally found a small fracture in my knee which hopefully needs no more than the 24/7 wearing of the knee immobilizer to fix it.   And I am SO tired of it.  I can't get down on the floor with the kids or walk the dog or myself (which certainly doesn't help in the chub department).  And going up or down stairs takes forever when it's one step at a time. And, I keep slamming my poor toes into things because my leg can't bend around them.  And, and, and.

So, there will be swimming lessons in our near future, and guilt to come....

Christmas 2005

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Our holiday season started out with the Family Feast at Anna's preschool where we joined with all the other WNNS families for turkey with all the fixings and an auction of gift baskets.  We won the baking basket, though if I'd known there was a Dora the Explorer prize, we'd have put our tickets on that one.  

After that the floodgates opened and we had all sorts of things going on, and I know it'll only get busier as the kids get older.  

Last year I moved the piano in the living room into the spot normally held by our Christmas tree so this year things were a bit different.  We could have gone with a BIG tree, but an eight footer was sufficient, especially since going up and down a ladder with the knee fixer on is not the easiest thing.  Nor is crawling around the bottom of the tree either.  So it took me the better part of two days just to put up the lights.  

Anna was a bit more aware this year of the whole idea of Christmas but still surprised on the actual morning to see the tree surrounded by presents.  And they both slept late so we didn't really get started until after 8.  They both loved tearing off the paper and weren't paying too much attention to what was inside.  There were so many gifts to open that at one point Anna got tired of it all and walked away.  But only briefly.  

We had a large dollhouse for Anna stored downstairs in the smoking room but unbeknownst to us, water came in and was soaked up by the box.  So when Jim went to put the house together he found that a lot of the pieces had water marks.  Anna hasn't noticed, and we just call it the Katrina house.  Auntie Betty and Uncle Zander gave Anna a piano and an Aquadoodle, and Jack got a Geotrax remote control train set which Jim lost no time in setting up and playing with.  The garage that Santa brought him pales in comparison.  

And it's funny, but the toys they play with the most are practically the smallest.  Anna will not leave her jewelry box alone and all the fluffy feathers are starting to fall off, and Jack carries around his Nemo cellphone all day.

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