Again, haven’t posted much recently. I’m still on Break for another two weeks, but much of that has been taken up with various projects around the house (which I still need to take pictures of and post…) and various travels around the state for Christmas.
That, and I’m still fighting with access to this blog from within my own network at the house, as our router isn’t very happy about that…for some reason…
Anyway, Christmas has been pretty fun this year. Meg has been pretty hyper all week, so my patience has been strained recently, but we’re in Hannibal now completing our week-long Christmas celebrations, so that should subside soon. Calvin still doesn’t quite understand the concept of opening presents yet, but he certainly enjoys the new toys he’s been getting.
Regardless, this is mostly a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” post. I’m still working on getting everything working properly with the system at home, so once that’s done, I expect to post quite a bit more often. There’s much to catch up on!
Let’s get this out of the way, first: Yes, we’re still alive.
Seriously, this semester has been crazy. A good kind of “crazy,” but still quite busy, nonetheless. There’s actually been quite a bit to post about here, but I simply haven’t had the time. That, and the new router I picked up a few months ago, for some reason, makes it difficult to actually access my own website from my house. Long story short, we’ve all been very busy and I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.
Briefly though, a post about Halloween…which was a few weeks ago… Meg had originally wanted to go as Doc McStuffins this year, a character on Disney Channel she’s been exposed to in recent months. However, as these things tend to go, she had seen all those episodes enough times and wanted to watch something else, so Word Girl took its place (though she’s been watching Doc McStuffins again, recently…I dunno…goes in phases, I guess…). Regardless, she changed her mind and opted to go as Word Girl, which gave Brooke the opportunity to actually make the costume instead of just using the store-bought version Meg got as a gift from Aunt Mal back in September. This actually worked out in our favor, as the costume for Word Girl’s side kick, Captain Huggyface, worked pretty well for Calvin to wear. Brooke did an excellent job with them, but as very few people in Marshall really know who these PBS characters are, we had to explain the costumes to more than a few people.
I don’t have much to do on Friday afternoons, so I picked Meg and Calvin up from school and brought them over to the college, where multiple offices have candy available for trick or treaters to come by and visit. This actually worked out pretty well, as that way, we could get Calvin in his costume for awhile, get some pictures taken, and then he wouldn’t necessarily have to go out for the real thing with Meg later. It happened to be pretty cold that day, so walking around campus for a few minutes was a bit warmer than the alternative.
Still, we ended up going out trick or treating anyway. Calvin was in a good mood and Nana came along to help out. That way, Brooke could hang out at home for other kids to come by and Nana and I could take both kids out in the wagon. We only ended up hitting maybe 7 or 8 houses, but as cold as it was, I think Meg had her fill of it. Really, Calvin didn’t have any idea what was going on, but I think he enjoyed going on a wagon ride close to his bedtime.
Ultimately, Meg had a pretty good haul of candy, combined from daycare, a visit to Missouri Valley, and then walking around our neighborhood (which, apparently, has a pretty good participation rate on Halloween, so walking around our block will probably be “enough” for the next few years!). All in all, a pretty good Halloween!
Other than that, again, we’ve been busy. Lots of work around the house has been completed (and I’ll still post about that…I promise…), and much has happened with both of our jobs out here. For my part, I’m now within a few days of Thanksgiving Break and, thus, within only a few weeks of the end of the semester. Time flies! I’ve enjoyed my time thus far, despite the number of hours I’ve been putting in. Next semester should be markedly easier, as I won’t have to develop three courses worth of material again.
A year ago today, we welcomed Calvin into the world. And what a year it’s been.
Granted, the last half of this past year blew by incredibly quickly because of Life Changes for the whole family. I barely remember what we did 4 months ago, as most of our time was spent packing and cleaning and looking into buying houses.
Through all that time, though, Calvin kept getting bigger! It’s amazing how much progress he’s made, especially in comparison with his big sister. Due to ear infections, it took her a bit longer to be mobile. Perhaps Calvin is more motivated to follow Meg around though, because he’s been crawling for a few months now and late last week started to try taking a few steps for the first time. He’s routinely standing up from a squat all by himself, standing for nearly a minute at a time before sitting back down again. He’s ready to walk, but hasn’t quite taken the plunge yet.
Within the last month or so, he’s also finally, finally, slept consistently through the night. He’ll cry out occasionally but can usually get himself back to sleep. I’m thinking the creepy peacock wallpaper in his room has something to do with it, but it seems like shortly after the move to the new house in Marshall, his sleeping situation (and ours…) improved dramatically.
Now that he’s a year old, we’re also in the process of weaning him off of Brooke faster than we were before. Meg was on a bottle long before this point in her life, but Brooke’s been able to keep feeding Calvin. Generally, she’s only doing it first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. We don’t even have to do it at naptime anymore to calm him down. She’ll slowly scale it back, but at this point, it seems like he can make it pretty well without needing that particular form of comfort. Big boy finally growing up a bit!
Other than his progress, life has been busy for the rest of us. They say your first semester is the hardest and they aren’t kidding. I’m frequently working 12 hr days during the week in order to stay ahead, but I don’t mind it so far. Brooke’s still getting settled with her job in Sedalia, but things are starting to look up on that front, too. I’ll post more about the house later, but we’ve got half of the electrical system done, some important plumbing done, some new appliances, and we re-did the bathroom upstairs by ourselves in a little over a week (there will definitely be a post on that one). Long-story short, we’re making progress with the house and are nearly “settled.”
Because of that, we were able to have a birthday party for Calvin this past weekend at the house. We had around 16 people over and, as the weather was gorgeous, we set things up outside. Grilled burgers, had many sides, and of course, birthday cake. Calvin napped through half the party and wasn’t exactly “smiley” after he woke up, but I think he still had a fun time, and definitely got some fun toys.
Regardless, Calvin’s done well this past year and, though his sleeping schedule was terrible for, oh, 10 months of his life, I think we’re finally past it. At least we’re to the point when he and Meg can play together in their room(s) by themselves, giving us a few extra moments of peace.
So, it’s been quite awhile since I last posted something. There’s a lot I could delve into, but for now, I’m going to bullet a few points of “updates” to get you a cross-section of how things have been going.
1). We closed on our house on August 6th, and there’s a whole story behind how that went down, but suffice to say, we successfully closed and got everything moved in. The house is doing pretty well, but we’ve got some long-term projects in process that prevent us from unpacking all the boxes. I’ll go into this in a later post, but for now, know that we had some plumbing done, getting me all squared away for brewing and getting us a new (more functional) toilet installed upstairs. Hopefully tomorrow, we will have electrical work done, where our house is going to be effectively re-wired. This is stuff that needs to get done and we’re glad we can get it moving within a month of moving in!
2). Brooke’s new job (with the same company) is going well, but she has her work cut out for her. Lots of things to get done, so she’s been busy incorporating her old duties at Bridges CSS (St. Louis) into her new duties at Bridges of Missouri (Sedalia). She’s enjoying it and things have been steadily improving this past month, but there’s lots more to do!
3). My job is going well so far, but this is only the second week of school. Our first exams will start late next week and continue into the following week, so while I’m trying to keep ahead on lectures for three separate classes, I’ve also got to do the “in the present” kinds of stuff like grading and test design. It’s work, but I’m enjoying it so far!
4). Calvin is sleeping through the night. It started August 23rd, on his 11 month birthday, and has continue on and off. Some nights are better than others, but aside from a few cries in the middle of the night, he’s staying down from 7:00 pm to 6:00/6:30 am. Oh, how long we’ve waited for this…and we hope and pray it continues…
5). Meg and Calvin are enjoying their days at the Missouri Valley Lab School. They started on August 18th and Meg took to it immediately. Like, I’m surprised just how well she’s done there. Compared with previous places, where she’d cry for 2-3 weeks as I’d leave her there, she’s been nothing but easy to deal with there. Calvin, on the other hand, took about a week-and-a-half to get settled where I can leave him with a teacher and not have him scream as I walked away. Still, that’s been better in recent days, too.
6). I got a new router and a new Linux server, so that’s why the site’s been down recently. I think I figured it out so it should be working fine, albeit a slight bit slower than it used to be. We’ll see how it goes…
That’s enough for now! I’ll expand on some of these points in the future, but this should tide you over for awhile!
This time, however, it’s so I can (finally) begin my first “grown up” job as Assistant Professor of Biology at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO. I am charged with teaching Anatomy & Physiology I and II, as well as Principles of Anatomy & Physiology. That’s going to be 15 credit hours worth of teaching each semester, so I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. It will absolutely be challenging, but I’m looking forward to moving off the lab bench for awhile and instead focusing on getting students to appreciate, if not love, physiology as I do.
When we moved to Iowa, Brooke had to leave Bridges CSS and, unfortunately, it took awhile before she was able to find anything comparable (or even acceptable…) doing similar things up north. Thankfully, unbeknownst to us, Bridges CSS was in the process of buying Bridges of Missouri, their sister company based in Sedalia, MO, which just so happens to be 30 min south of Marshall. Thus, with a stroke of providence or blind luck, she gets to keep doing what she loves while I begin this new adventure. She will return to St. Louis once or twice a month to help facilitate the connection between these two arms of the company, but she’s already got her work cut out for her in integrating the workings of the two companies. She’s excited to mix up what she’s been doing, too!
We’re on a pretty short time table now. We spent the last few weekends in Sedalia and Marshall investigating houses (more “grown up” things we’re finally doing…) and we think we’ve settled on one that we’re going to make an offer on shortly. My position officially begins August 1st, but I technically don’t have to be on campus until August 18th (school starts August 25th). There are all kinds of challenges with pulling that off in a limited period of time, but we think we’re moving in the right direction and can make it happen.
So, Meg was born in early March, meaning she turned 6 months old in September. Her first six months involved the experience of Spring and Summer. Calvin, born in September, just turned 6 months old this past weekend. His first six months involved the experience of Fall and Winter.
Guess which one got sick more often?
We’ve added it up and came to 11 days. That’s just 11 weekdays of illness from Calvin since January, not even accounting for all the snow days we had to take off for Meg (where Calvin frequently stayed home, too, whether daycare was open or not). Here’s the run down:
4 mo vaccinations- 2 days
Random Virus – into – Bacterial Pneumonia (4 mo) – 5 days
A few of those only seem short because they started over a weekend. For example, this most recent bout of RSV started last Friday and Cal held a fever all weekend (thank God it started over a weekend, though…). On Sunday at Urgent Care, he didn’t have an ear infection. He started feeling better Monday, then got worse Tuesday. I took him to the doctor and found he had fewer signs of breathing difficulties and instead had an ear infection. The “Unnamed Stomach Virus” started on a Sunday and kept him out on Monday. By Tuesday he was fine, but Meg and I had contracted it, so even if he got to go to school, two of us became afflicted.
Just can’t win.
More generally, this Winter has been pretty disruptive, largely because of the onslaught of snow, ice, and blistering cold (that mostly affected Meg), and also because Calvin just got every sickness imaginable for an infant. Brooke and I have weathered all this by splitting days at work, or taking turns taking days off here and there. It’s great that we both have flexible jobs, but I can’t imagine what this would be like if we didn’t.
Needless to say, we’re ready for some consistency in the weather. And by “consistency” I mean “Spring.”
I’ve been meaning to write something on this subject for a few weeks but never seem to get around to it. From the beginning, we were curious how Calvin would integrate into our existing threesome (or nine-some, depending on how many creatures we’re including…), and more specifically, how Meg would deal with him and how Brooke and I both have to shift our attention from entirely on her to entirely on her andhim (that’s 200% “attention,” for those keeping count).
Surprisingly and thankfully, it’s been shockingly easy. Meg has displayed nary a hint of jealousy toward him, though she certainly still wants more attention than we can sometimes give her. In general, she’s actually been pretty helpful these past few months, frequently grabbing a rattle or other toy when we can’t reach one, or staying in the room to watch him as we go downstairs to exchange the laundry. If he starts crying, she’s quick to say “It’s okay, Calvin. I’m here!” This rarely helps, but it’s still kinda sweet…
The more surprising aspect of their burgeoning relationship is how Calvin looks at her. I mean, he gets excited when one of us walks into the room after we get home from work, but when Meg walks in, he lights up like nothing else. The other day, I was driving the two of them home and Meg was facing forward singing some song she’d made up. She wasn’t even singing toward Calvin, but he was just staring at her, laughing randomly. Meg didn’t think she was saying anything funny, of course, so she didn’t really understand why Calvin was reacting this way. Still, it’s pretty obvious that she amuses him greatly.
As I’ve mentioned to Nana and others, I’m just waiting for the relationship to turn toward the typical hostility one would expect between a brother and a sister. Clearly they aren’t going to wait until their teenagers or anything, but will it happen when he starts crawling? Walking? When he starts recognizing her toys and messes with them? There’s already some element of this, as most of “his” toys were previously “Meg’s” toys, and she’s fully aware of this. It isn’t like she says “No, Calvin, you can’t have that,” but sometimes when she’s playing with him, she’ll take a toy he was currently chewing on as she’s done playing with it, so now he must also be done.
Regardless, he almost always wants to be around her (or, at least, he is happier when she’s around), and she usually wants to be around him. She still asks to “play with Calvin” just before bedtime, despite being bored with it after maybe 15 minutes of actual “playing.”
We had our first substantial run-in with sickness this past week. To some degree, it’s pretty impressive it took this long. Meg’s teachers had all commented how she’s the only student in her class of 20 that had not missed a day of school since it began last Fall. That isn’t to say she hasn’t had a runny nose or anything, but she certainly hasn’t run a fever. Even Brooke and I have both come through thus far unscathed, again, aside from the aforementioned runny nose or cough.
Traditionally, my immune system has been pretty great. I’ll come down with an affliction from time to time, but it seems to be pretty rare. If I recall, I’ve had a fever exactly once in the last 3 or 4 years, and it lasted for a few hours one afternoon. So far, it appears that Meg has taken after me, at least to a degree. She has certainly gotten sick before, but she’s around a lot of kids at her preschool (inside an elementary school…) and she hasn’t come down with anything (knock on wood).
But as I’ve written before, the Demon Baby Disease is one you don’t always see coming. And this past week, it struck the one person in this post I haven’t mentioned yet:
This presents a few additional difficulties compared with last time around. First of all, Meg was born in March, so by the time we hit the Winter cold and flu season, she was already 8-10 months old. Calvin turned 4 months last week. So, he hasn’t been exposed to nearly as much as Meg had at this stage in the year. Secondly, it’s a little bit easier to determine what’s wrong (i.e. “where does it hurt?”) in an 8-10 month old than it is in a 4 month old. Thirdly, we have a second child that has somewhere to be, let alone our schedules with our jobs and other engagements.
All we knew about Calvin is that he was fussy last Sunday. This was followed by a fever that started early Monday morning. Fever means “no school,” but thankfully, it was Martin Luther King Day, so Meg was off school anyway. I went in to work for awhile that morning while Brooke stayed home, as her son was having his first semi-serious illness. Dealing with a sick baby and a(n almost) 4 year old can be trying, for sure, but it was made worse by the weather on Tuesday, when they cancelled school…so Meg was out again. That day, I went in crazy early and left late morning so Brooke could go in that afternoon. Wednesday, Meg could go back to school, but Brooke had to teach that morning, so I loaded up Calvin, took Meg to school, and then brought him back home until Brooke could arrive so I could go in for a few hours.
During this whole time, Calvin had a fever and a productive cough that was getting more pronounced. The fever was kinda “on and off,” where it’d get better during the day, and then rear its ugly head overnight. Brooke was the trooper for most nights, staying upstairs with him as he’d only attempt to eat from her directly and wouldn’t take a bottle from me. Really, he wasn’t eating much at all, but he was drooling enough to suggest that he wasn’t dehydrated. She took him to an Urgent Care clinic on Monday evening and they said it was a virus of some kind, so he’d just have to work through it.
By Thursday, though, he’d had a fever for (effectively) 4 days, so Brooke took him to our pediatrician. He had also developed a very minor rash on his chest, still have a 102 F fever, and via chest x-ray, apparently had early signs of pneumonia. Great.
[That last bit we didn’t know until Friday after the radiologist had looked at the scans and talked with Calvin’s pediatrician].
On my way home Friday, I picked up some antibiotics to hopefully take care of pneumonia. If you didn’t know, there’s a viral form and a bacterial form, the latter of which is more common. If the antibiotics were effective, he’d have to have bacterial pneumonia.
Thankfully, that’s what he had. As of Saturday, he was almost back to normal. His sleeping schedule is still a little bit off and his eating is steadily improving, but importantly, he’s just acting like a happy baby again. No more constant and incessant moaning and whimpering. He still has a cough, but he doesn’t get nearly as mad about it anymore, and can lull himself back to sleep after he wakes up briefly. All in all, we’re mostly back to normal. Finally.
Nana and Papa came in to visit on Saturday, which was a big help for everyone. Some much-needed “distraction” for Meg and another set of arms to hold Calvin. All in all, a good visit and just in time to help Brooke and I re-adjust ourselves after a long week of half-days at work and half-nights of sleeping.
Let’s just hope this is the last time we deal with D.B.D. for 2014…
As Christmas fell in the middle of the week this year, our schedules were thrown into something of a tizzy. Christmas in Columbia with my family was the weekend before, we still traveled to Louisiana, MO to spend Christmas Eve with Brooke’s grandparents, we returned to St. Louis for Christmas morning so the kids could open presents under their own tree, and then we went to Hannibal for yet another Christmas celebration this weekend. That’s all with a second trip to Columbia for Meg and I between St. Louis and Hannibal destinations so I could see a few friends of mine from high school (good times had by all, by the way).
Needless to say, while the countless presents have been welcomed by our eldest, I’m sure the constant travel and disrupted sleep schedule has strained her. Still, in some ways, it helps us by having easy things to keep her occupied for days when she’d otherwise be making me play “sleepover” with her, or “hide and seek” (wherein she lays on the floor and considers this to be “hiding”…). It also helped all that traveling by having a new car to drive in…
Regardless, we had a pretty great trip. We received far too many presents, but that just goes to show how generous our two families are. Meg really enjoyed opening presents four times in a week, so getting to spread these things out over a longer period of time than usual was nice for her. Christmas just kept on coming!
Though I knew this phase of my life was coming, it’s starting to become even more evident that Christmas is becoming less and less “for me,” at least with regards to the “magic of Christmas.” I’m not talking about the religious aspect of the holiday, but more the shift from childhood to adulthood, where Christmas was such a big deal for a large portion of my early life. It still is, but now, it’s more of a big deal for my kids than it is for me. I still love Christmas, don’t get me wrong, but it’s beginning to take on a new meaning: where it’s now my job to make Christmas magical for my kids rather than make it enjoyable for myself. I hope that doesn’t sound “bah humbug”-ish, and maybe it’s just something I need to try and work on for next year, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.
Still, watching Meg open her presents (and Calvin in the coming years…he was kinda useless at opening things this year…) was enough “magic” for me. It wasn’t the same, watching someone else open presents as opposed to me opening presents, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as meaningful. It certainly was this year.
We’d been discussing a 2010 Subaru Forester for awhile, largely because they hold their value substantially longer than other vehicles, they’re reliable, and they have all-wheel drive standard. However, considering the value of our trade-in (which wasn’t much…), it just wasn’t going to be feasible anytime soon…
“Anytime soon” was accurate. Since getting that car, Brooke in particular hasn’t been all that happy with it. It had a few issues, for sure, and the interior didn’t really instill you with the feeling that it was a “nice” vehicle. Still, it worked. It drove. It rode pretty well for long distances. In retrospect, however, we put at least $3000 in maintenance and repairs into a car that we were still making payments on, so we never really felt secure in its reliability.
That, and it didn’t have a moonroof. My 1993 Nissan Altima that I drove in college had a moonroof. And I loved it. And I missed it.
A few weeks ago, we started looking into whether it was getting time to upgrade. Not necessarily whether it would happen now, but more questioning of when it could happen. After making a few calls, going on a test drive, and looking into things, we ended up taking the plunge: we’re the proud owners of a 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i. And I couldn’t be happier.
It’s fun to drive, it’s got all-wheel drive, it has Bluetooth integration, it has a rear-backup camera, it has heated seats (and side mirrors!!), it has a timing chain, it has CVT, it actually moves when you press the accelerator…and most of all…it has a spectacular moonroof. It’s pretty tech-laden, so I’m having to read through the instruction manual on this one to get everything figured out. It’s a nice problem to have, at least for someone like me. Meg likes the moonroof too, but probably likes the cup holder next to her seat better.
And the plan is, she’ll get to drive it some day. When we bought Brooke’s 2006 Scion xA new, the plan was (and is) to “drive it into the ground,” or at least as close as we can. We’ve got about 97,000 mi on it now and had almost zero issues with it. The one issue we did have was with the blower motor resistor, and I was able to fix that myself. We’ll probably end up replacing it eventually, put likely not until we’re done making payments on the Subaru. And the Subaru, we’ll keep as long as we can. Now, for the first time, we’ve got two cars we bought off the lot, getting exactly what we wanted with the intent of keeping them for a long time.
Regardless, we’re excited! It’s fun to drive and now we want to go on a long trip to Colorado or Yellowstone.