Monday, January 27, 2014

Another milestone, sort of

Last Saturday we embarked on the three-day mission to potty-train Aerin using the same method we did for Micah. Since she'd already been staying dry and using the toilet at daycare, we figured it would go pretty smoothly.

It did not.

Day one was great. Day two nearly killed us all (zero successes, ONE MILLION temper tantrums). I went back to work for the afternoon of day three, and then I left town for days four and five, during which Micah got very sick and had to stay home from school. I got back home Wednesday evening just as Aerin crapped her pants for the third time in as many hours. Todd, after two and a half days alone with a sick boy and a ticking pee bomb, greeted me with all the relief of a soldier coming off the front lines and immediately poured himself a drink.

So here we are on day 10. Pee goes in the potty, mostly. We played outside most of the day yesterday without any accidents or unsuccessful emergency runs inside. She still refuses to poop. We have to go up at 10 PM and 4 AM to take her to the bathroom so her sheets stay dry. She stays dry all day at daycare. So...mission sort of accomplished?

I'm leaving town again this Thursday and won't be back until Saturday afternoon. And the daycare just called to tell me Aerin's running a fever.

Good luck, Todd. We're all counting on you.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

O Mismas Tee, O Mismas Tee

For the last several years we’ve had a fake tree, a pre-lit one with molded fir branches that look surprisingly real. We bought it because we were tired of paying $80 for something we just going to throw away after a few weeks, not to mention the needles and sap everywhere and the hassle of putting the lights on and remembering to water the damn thing. And even though I missed the smell of a real tree, the fake one was perfect.

Christmas Eve morning

Year after year, an easy, beautiful tree….right up until half the bulbs blew on it last year. CRAP. I bought a bunch of replacements in January, but (to absolutely no one’s surprise) I have yet to find the time or motivation to go through and replace literally hundreds of teeny tiny light bulbs. So we have a beautiful, partially-lit tree with great big dark patches all over it.

To further complicate things, we recently got a new cat. A fourth cat. A cat we needed like Michael Jackson needed another dose of propofol. We went to the pet store for some cat litter and this was happening and well....we, uh, accidentally adopted a cat. An 8-month-old kitten, to be precise, with all the energy and climbing ability you’d expect.

Between the light situation and the cat situation, this year we decided to get a real tree and hang only our most durable ornaments. It was a good idea, except that Todd is a total tree snob and only likes fraser firs. So December 13th found me, Todd, the kids, and Grammy all loaded up in Grammy’s truck, headed to Valley Christmas Tree Plantation, a U-cut tree farm northeast of Huntsville. It was cold and wet and muddy, but we figured we’d get out, look at all the trees, have some hot chocolate, and buy one of the pre-cut fraser firs their website said they had. A decent enough plan, except it’d been two full weeks since Thanksgiving and not even a single fir needle was left.

We hemmed and hawed about buying a pine, but in the end, nothing would suit, and we all piled back in the truck to continue our search. Ultimately, we decided to head to a vendor we’d bought from several years ago, who had since moved to a parking lot off of Highway 20 in Madison, on the opposite side of Huntsville.

About this time, the kids started getting hungry. I hadn't expected to be criscrossing the city and hadn't packed snacks, and things were looking pretty grim there for a bit. Fortunately, on our way through Huntsville, we passed two trains heading the same way as us. They were a welcome distraction at the time, but then we realized we could wait by the tracks in downtown Madison to see them again up close. HELL YES. So we raced past the Christmas tree farm, up to the old Depot in Madison, and along came a train only minutes later. Not the one we were expecting, but that was okay.

NS 8883 and BNSF 8908

NS 8883 and BNSF 8908

Well, that was pretty cool. But we’d seen two trains on the drive, and we expected two to show up. We waited. We got bored. We went to see the Christmas trees set up in the park across the tracks. We got colder. We walked back across the tracks. I found a smashed penny. The kids got even more bored.

Downtown Madison

Smashed penny

The kids were hungry and close to frozen, and we still hadn’t heard even the faintest whistle. We decided the train had probably pulled off somewhere in Huntsville, and we all climbed back into the truck.

Aaaaand that’s when we heard the horn. Back out of the carseats, boots crammed back onto feet, coats trampled into the floorboards, we all scrambled to get out of the truck again. The train was moving so fast, I only just managed to tumble out and catch a quick picture before he blew past us, waving at Micah and blowing his horn.

NS 9168 and two others I didn't catch

With Micah's mind sufficiently blown, we turned back around and headed to the tree lot. It didn't take us long to find the perfect tree and get it loaded up.

Picking the perfect one

Loading up our tree

Two hours, five diesel locomotives, and 60 miles later, we finally arrived home with our tree...which promptly shat needles over the entire house.

Replacing two hundred midgety light bulbs suddenly seems like a good use of time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa Claus is coming to town

Because we are cruel, unloving parents, this year was the very first time we took the kids to see Santa. Technically, I guess, Micah met Santa last year at a Havoc game, but WE didn't take him. He went with his best friend, Trey, and Trey's mom. I suppose we've failed at some crucial parental duty, but I'm having trouble getting too worked up over it.

Anyway, Trey's mom had the idea that this year we should go to Santa's Village in downtown Huntsville. It's actually set in Constitution Village, a working 1819 replica "village" that's part of the EarlyWorks museum complex, so it's got a lot more charm than your usual mall Santa location. So after a quick dinner at Steak N Shake, we all headed downtown.

It was unseasonably warm, like not-even-a-jacket-warm, but that worked out really well, since most of the attraction is outdoors. And it really was a neat place. There was a sleigh for the kids to climb in, an icicle maze, cookie decorating, reindeer to pet, a high school chorus signing, people dressed as bears or penguins or elves wandering around, and even a blacksmith. And of course, there was Santa.

Trey was the first one of our group to sit on Santa's lap, and he rattled off his two wishes with no problem. Micah, though, was completely distracted by a pile of toys to Santa's left and spent half of his time muttering in the opposite direction of Santa's ear. When I told him to talk directly to Santa, he then began rattling off a list that started with a CSX diesel locomotive, then moved on to every type of railcar there is. Santa cut him off about five cars in with, "Okay, a train set, then, right?" and then asked us if we knew about Southerland Station. Which, uh, yeah we do, but you're Santa, remember? So how about you stop putting in a plug for local toy stores because SANTA HAS ELVES. Work with me here, dude.

Aerin was just happy to see Santa, mostly because she really has no idea who Santa Claus IS. She requested that he bring her a Santa. And a snowman. I don't think he really knew what do with either request, so he ditched her pretty quickly in favor of the next kid, who had clearly memorized a toy catalog.

By the way, I love Micah's facial expression in his picture with Santa. Skeptical boy is skeptical.





Decorating cookies

In the Icicle Maze

Watching the blacksmith

Tired kids