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Posts Tagged ‘I am five!’

It was conferences this week! You wanna know how much fun it is to bring a mobile, nap-skipping baby into classrooms with thousands of things to destroy and/or choke on? SUPER FUN. The only major snafu was when Ezra’s milk cup exploded all over Bill, the baby and the classroom floor in a spectacular geyser of coconut milk. I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited back to 2nd grade unless we have proof of a babysitter first. It is now time for you to sit back {or, uh, slowly back away by means of the handy x button} and enjoy reading about my two oldest precious little snowflakes…

First up we have Keaton, Sir:

This little guy’s report surprised me the most. I know it’s not fair to pigeon-hole your kids but if I WERE to do that, Rowan would definitely be my academic child and Keaton would be our… wiggly… uh… funny…. uh… sports-ball child. I think that about sums it up nicely. He always got great reports in preschool and was always put in the more accelerated learning groups but I guess I sort of thought that he was placed there because his teachers had Rowan as well and maybe just assumed Keaton was similar.

I know. I’m a terrible mother. But in my defense Keaton has never had the patience to sit still and work for long periods. Getting this kid to sit for a story was impossible until he was four and even now he jumps around and plays invisible swords when I read him chapters of Harry Potter. He loses interest and gets bored easily and always defaults to some physical activity involving swordplay or barrel rolls.

So imagine my surprise when his reading assessment revealed he was already working on the end of the year goal list. I have been trying to make an effort for him to read to me but man.. reading with a beginning five year old is just plain exhausting. He gets so tired halfway through that he just turns off by the end of it, making guesses instead of reading tougher words and sounding out words like “is” and “the” when he has had them memorized for months.

I really need to find some shorter books for him because I think he would get more confident if he could read in shorter bursts. I’ve tried the whole, I’ll read a page, you read a page thing, or only reading a few pages a night but the payoff just isn’t there for him then and he ends up crabby about the whole thing. I need something like the Biscuit books but more challenging and maybe with a little more stimulating subject matter. He loves Gerald and Piggy {and really, who doesn’t} but he’s read them all so many times that he doesn’t even need to open the dang book to recite the story. Of course he always wants Star Wars books but those suckers have super tricky words so I end up reading half of it for him. Right now the best ones for him are the more simple Dr. Suess ones. He can read The Foot Book, One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat and green Eggs and Ham with very minimal help from me. I’m really proud of his hard work and was so happy and surprised at how well he is progressing in reading.

Other than that? Kindergarten and Keaton are getting along swimmingly. He was sososo ready to go and really hasn’t skipped a beat since September once he adjusted to the much longer days. He loves his teacher, and absolutely adores being around people all day. I honestly don’t know how I produced SUCH a people person but wow is he ever. This is the kid I have to bribe to just gooooo beeee byyyy youseeeeelf for fiiiiiiiiive minuuuuutes, pleeeeeease. He would never ever be/play/sleep/eat do anything alone if he could help it, so school is a blessing because there are 29 other kids plus a handful of teachers he gets to spread all that love around to.

He has a half-day once a week which has been our time. I’ve tried to make it as special as I can so I pack a lunch and take him to various parks, make trips to the library or come home and play board games. Unfortunately once Ezra switches to an afternoon nap we’re going to have to switch Keaton to full-day 5 days a week which will be good for him but I’m really going to miss my time with my big guy.

Now that winter is at our doorstep, I know I have to get him involved in an outside activity. Unfortunately it just wasn’t feasible time or money-wise to keep him in dance this year. It’s been sad because he really loved it but with the dramatic increase in hours he spent at school it was the best choice for him at this point. We’re hoping to get him back enrolled in either the all boys dance group or karate and he’ll start a little basketball clinic and swimming lessons in January so that should keep him active over the coldest winter months. All-in-all it’s been a bang-up start to his formative school years.

11.29.2

Now for Little Miss Rowan:

As I mentioned, academics are never an issue for this kid so we don’t really worry. She is very close to being a Step 12 reader which is where the reading assessment ends {typically for end of the year third graders}. THIS IS WHERE THE BRAGGING COMES IN, if that wasn’t clear. Because I’m solely responsible for this, right? Me, the 7 year old who still couldn’t read simple sentences. Whose first grade teacher took pity on me and kept me in for recess to give extra help. I got it eventually and when I did I soared, I loved reading… but I was no Rowan. Her comprehension is phenomenal. She’ll read and {this is important} understand pretty much anything you lay in front of her.

We asked her teacher for a few reading suggestions because she absolutely devours books so quickly that I have a hard time keeping her challenged, but by the fourth or fifth one she suggested to our responses of “yep, she like that one” “read it” and “Yeah, she’s finished the whole series”, Bill was like, see! this is exactly our problem. She was stumped for a minute or two but after a good laugh she thought of a few titles Rowan has yet to read so the girl should be set for a while.

We moved on to math, where Rowan has bounced back and then some from last year. In first grade she was put in the most fast-paced math group and she struggled big time with the timed homework. They had 5 minutes to finish 100ish problems and it was really overwhelming for her. She spent the whole year getting more and more nervous about it until the end when she just quit trying all together. This kid had ended the first semester report with a strong “meets expectations” and by the end of the year she got the lowest score possible. When I talked with her teacher, who had left on maternity leave a few weeks before the end of the year, she was sure Rowan would bounce back fine, and thought the low assessment scores were due to the disruption of her leaving {Rowan was very close to this teacher and was not happy to be getting a sub}.

When we saw she was placed in the middle instead of the top math group at the start of this year we were relieved. The pressure and the pace was just too much for her very careful, perfectionist personality. She definitely has her confidence back. We did have one issue, however. The 64 question timed homework is the same sheet of  problems in the same order which they get about four times a week. They have 5 minutes to finish the sheet and seemingly overnight Rowan went from finishing in 4 and a half minutes to finishing in two and a half. “WOW, Rowan! That was quick!” “I know, Mom! Aren’t you proud!” “Yes! I can’t believe how much faster you’re doing these!” “Oh! It’s easy! See, the answers are always the same! So I know to just write 6,4 18, 7, 3, 15, 2…” “Uh… aren’t you reading the problem? “Why would I read the problem when I can just memorize the order of the answers?” “Oh, Rowan. I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” “Why WOULDN’T you do it that way, it’s way easier!” *so much head-shaking* Sure enough, the next time she did the sheet I watched her carefully and she blew through the first three lines, having memorized the answers. Needless to say, I notified the teacher of this, um, tactic, for homework completion, and she said, “Huh. that’s the only sheet they offer because they want the kids to see the equation and immediately associate the answer. I always wondered if kids figured out that they were always the same.” Yep. Leave it to our kid. Lovely.

Last year was a tougher year friend-wise for Rowan because of the dynamic of her particular class. Unfortunately Rowan got drawn into this mid-year a bit because she really liked a few of the girls so she tried to play “the game” of who is allowed to play with who and on what day but after way too many mean-girl tactics {in FIRST grade. Seriously.} she had to give up on the group which was a tough call she made herself and she moved on to a smaller group of drama-free girls which she has very happily stuck with ever since. Thankfully this year has been awesome and her teacher said that even though she definitely has a few close friends she spends most of her free time with, she is a good friend to all her classmates and well-liked.

She has even become somewhat of a mentor to the kids who struggle. She has noticed since starting at this school that her teachers often sit her next to the kids who need a little extra help. Once and a while she’ll get frustrated by this if her seat partner is a little too rambunctious but she understands it’s because she can stay on task and be a helper even if there is a little chaos around her {this is a complete 180 from how she was when she first started school at five, she couldn’t handle ANY disruption}. One boy in particular has been having a hard time but since her teacher sat him next to Rowan, she has taken him under her wing and he’s been really benefiting from her friendship, and she really likes him as well.

This is one more reason I love this school so much. They are so big into positive attitude, reinforcement and character building as well as academics. And listen, kids are still kids. Mine make dumb mistakes all the time. They can be jerks to Bill and I and jerks to each other… we all have our days. But they are learning some valuable things about not just being a good student but about being a good person and that I’m really thankful for.

Other than that, it’s dancedancedance for this lady. She’s struggled a little bit to keep up with the flexibility and acro moves which caused a rough start this year. She kept thinking she there was just no way she would ever get them, but then, she just…did it, and no one was more surprised than her. The look on her face when came back upright after her first walk-over was “oh shit! did that just happen?!” It was pretty priceless to witness after months of failed-attempts. She has a great group of girls in her line who she really likes and has become close to one in particular so that was a big help getting through the toughest parts, but I think she’s now officially turned the corner from the “no I can’ts” to the “welp, it’s gonna be a lot of work but I know I cans”.

11.29.1

There you have it! These two have done such a great job. After we got the report cards, we told them we’d take them out to a fancy family dinner. “Because we’re so smart?” Keaton asked, and I had to say, NOPE. I loved all the 3s and 4s on their report cards, but it was what we saw in the teacher’s comments that got them a crab and lobster dinner. Compassionate, good friend, role model, helper. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it.

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We’ve had sort of an ongoing saga the last few months regarding Keaton’s “tummy issues”, which is the polite name for a variety of digestive problems in our second-born. Around three and a half Keaton started having a bad reaction to ice-cream. It was just too rich for his system and it went right through the little guy. At first it was just large amounts- like if he had a big cone at a shop, but then it got so bad he couldn’t even have a bite without reacting to it. Rowan went through something similar at three but grew out of it before she was five so I honestly didn’t give it much thought, other than to lay off the ice cream for a few months. Only then things spiraled and the list of foods he reacted to grew to include cream-based pasta, then cream-based anything, then milk, butter and finally WHYGODWHY cheese. The list of foods grew so fast and the symptoms became worse and worse so I headed to Dr. Google who quickly diagnosed him with lactose intolerance.

We went full on dairy-free for a month to see if his symptoms improved. It took a few weeks but eventually he seemed mostly better which was… incredibly disappointing. In the Gunter house, cheese makes up four out of the five food groups so eliminating it from dinners was not a fun task. And I don’t know about you but a world without butter is not one I really care to live in. After a few weeks we noticed some flare-ups where a couple of symptoms returned so we, instead of trying to figure out when he had most likely accidentally been fed dairy {WHAT? WISHFUL THINKING IS SUPPOSED TO WORK, DAMMIT} , decided that it must not be dairy so we slowly reintroduced it to absolutely horrifying effects. WHOOPS. So yes, from then on we knew Keaton was definitely lactose intolerant but over the course of this past spring and summer it got steadily worse.

Now if you’re in the biz { uh, the lactose intolerance biz whatitsathing}, a lactose intolerant person needs to stay away from milk and butter and soft cheeses because their bodies can’t process lactose which is the sugar found in milk protein. This is caused by a lack or deficiency of lactase, which is the enzyme that helps to process that sugar.  The good news is that most of the time hard cheeses, yogurt and “cheese-flavored” items are not an issue because they don’t contain high levels of lactose. Unfortunately we found, they were also becoming big problems with Keaton. By the end of the summer we couldn’t figure out why his symptoms were still getting bad and finally we realized the problem was the “Pirate’s Booty” snack bags we had been giving him, which contains “real aged white cheddar”. Again, this is a fully processed food made with a cheese that should not have even affected him so we became really concerned. Swapping cow’s milk for almond milk is one thing but not even being able to digest one damn goldfish cracker? Not right.

So this sent me back to Dr. Google because not only should lactose intolerant people not have reactions to a number of the foods Keaton was having but the symptoms normally take much longer to manifest. And that’s how it was when this all started a few years ago. It would take a ton of milk or ice cream or a full diet of mac and cheese everyday for a week to get a reaction but now one bite of butter noodles or a small square of cheese had immediate effects. So on top of lactose intolerance he has a dairy allergy which is a separate thing {these can go hand-in-hand but not all of the time}. Milk allergy is an immune reaction, LI is an enzyme issue. Keaton was meeting the criteria for both so I decided it was time to retire Dr. Google and head to the other kind of doctor, you know, the one with arms and legs and a degree.

So this September we began the process of getting Keaton properly diagnosed with the secret hope of getting him “fixed” {in our house “fixed” means he can eat pizza again, which is all the sweet little thing cares about}. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that I held off taking Keaton is for so long because in my experience, and in the experience of many friends and family members, our hometown clinic isn’t known for its competence in figuring out anything more than a broken bone or strep. I didn’t want them to shrug at us or treat me like one of those moms that is looking for some nice big label to slap on her Special Little Snowflake. Eventually though, Keaton was miserable and I needed to know I was doing everything I could for him.

Surprisingly the doctor was really concerned at the severity of his symptoms and instead of giving me the “eh, he’ll grow out of it” line, she ordered a number of blood tests to rule out protein abnormalities and we were sent home with 8 {EIGHT} containers to collect… specimens… to check for unusual bacteria and/or disease. That was a really fun few days, let me just tell you. Everything came back normal, but she still wasn’t satisfied so she sent us to a pediatric gastroenterologist out in the city. This guy didn’t want to give me the time of day and barely listened as I ticked off Keaton’s symptoms knowing full well he thought I was one of those moms {and yeah, we all know at least one}. But then Keaton got up on the table for the exam…

Now, if you’ve met Keaton, you’ve probably also met his butt-crack. {I’m sorry I tried to figure out how to put that nicely, and, well, that’s pretty much it.} Since he turned three-ish, no matter what we did, we could NOT keep this boy’s pants up. I always assumed it was a genetic thing because neither Bill nor my dad have any discernible buttcheeks to speak of; their chicken-legs just morph right into their back and Keaton has the same body structure so I didn’t think about it until I noticed his tummy one day. Every morning before breakfast I’d help him dress and I’d cinch his adjustable waist pants as tight as they’d go because there is seriously nothing to this boy, he is all spindly in the limbs and his tummy is so flat it’s practically concave. But then immediately after breakfast, which would be something like, a banana and Cheerios or strawberries and waffles, his stomach would be huge. No, really, HUGE. Pregnant looking. His shirt would rise up and he would inch his pants down because they were pushing on his middle and causing discomfort. But then they’d ride low and become too loose, hence: Butt-Crack Magoo, which is what he’s known as around these parts. {I should say, he thinks his own butt is highly hilarious and doesn’t mind the nick-name, should you think we’re giving him some sort of butt related complex.}

All this to say, once that boy puts any food at all in his system, his stomach gets hugely distended, ridiculously bloated. This is the one symptom that does not clear up when we go lactose/dairy free. No matter what we put in him, his tummy puffs out. And upon seeing this, the doctor’s eyes got huge and he made eye contact with me for the first time since entering the room ten minutes before. “Whoa. This isn’t normal. That is just FULL of air. Listen!” He said of the echoing sound as he tapped on Keaton’s belly. “Uh, yeah, I know. I just told you about that. ” He then asked me to repeat everything I had just said from the beginning and after some thought we agreed to schedule an upper scope and a sigmoidoscopy to see what’s going on in there and to biopsy the tissue in his esophagus, stomach and intestines.

The procedure went really well, though I will say it is so strange and surreal to watch as your child is put under. Keaton is such an easy-going kid though, so there was no fear, no nervous build-up, only excitement over getting to watch Spiderman in his hospital room and getting to pick out which smell to give the mask as he breathed in the anesthesia. It took him longer than I thought it would for him to succumb and close his eyes and I have a feeling they didn’t give him the right dose because they told us it would take him a half hour to an hour for him to come to afterward and a very shocked looking nurse rushed to our room when it was over to let us know that “Um, so, he’s already awake and trying to sit up!” I asked Keaton if he woke up during the process or if he could feel anything and thankfully he said no, but it was cutting it pretty close.

The results of that showed he has an ulcer that is trying to heal itself but otherwise everything looked good, including normal results on all the biopsies. The two major things it confirmed was that yes, he has a severe dairy allergy and lactose intolerance and no, he does not have Celiac, which pretty much floored the doc. He said if you brought Keaton into a room of 100 docs ALL of them would immediately diagnose him with it as he “presents textbook Celiac”. I asked if I should try to remove gluten from his diet anyway just to test it {this is not something I want to do, I LOVE gluten, or rather I love food and gluten seems to be in 90% of it} which he didn’t seem too excited about and told me to hold off until we do a barium study to see if there’s anything wrong anatomically.

That brought us to this week, in which we trekked back to the hospital and had the poor kid drink quarts of that chalky crap as they x-rayed him over four hours. And again, I cannot emphasize how well Keaton took this, just happy to play his new Star wars game on the iPad as he sucked down the orange flavored barium, proclaiming it super tasty, which, GROSS. Think of McDonald’s old “Orange Drink” only thick and chunky. It might’ve had more to do with the fact that he had nothing to eat or drink since the night before. We haven’t gotten the results back yet, but the radiologist said everything appeared normal which will come as a relief to my mother who likes to remind me that her great uncle or grandpa or some such was born with an upside-down stomach and didn’t find out until he was an old man.

The dairy/LI issue will just be a part of life for him. When it’s this severe this young, it most likely means he will not grow out of it which isn’t the end of the world but it is a pretty big lifestyle change. There is no magic pill he can take to help him digest it better. Although they exist for adults, the pediatrician tells me they are all but useless and not recommended for kids. Cheese and butter are staples of Midwesterners diets so dinners are hard. Cheese and milk are huge snack items and staples of hot and cold lunches. And ohmygod don’t even get me started on pizza. Birthday party? PIZZA. Family gathering? PIZZA. School party? PIZZA. Crazy-busy run-around night? FROZEN PIZZA. Book-It reward? PIZZA. Friday night? PIZZA. You know what’s NOT fun for a five year old? Replacing all those PIZZAs with SALAMI SANDWICHes. And he loooooves pizza. I know in the kid-allergy department this is far from the worst thing to have to deal with. I can’t imagine what parent’s of kids with severe nut allergies must go through when sending their kids to school cafeterias which are packed full of peanut butter sandwiches that could seriously put their child in the hospital. I get that that is so much worse of a boat to be in than my inconvenient no cheese, milk or butter boat, but still.

The other problem you run into with kids that can’t have any dairy is that you tend to over feed them fruits and veggies, which then results in many of the same undesirable side effects that started this whole thing. For awhile the poor kid lived off of apples, oranges, grapes, peanut butter toast and hot dogs and… that’s it. What makes this suck even more is that he is my GOOD eater. He will try anything and not really complain even if it’s not his favorite. He almost never refuses food and eats good-sized portions. I feel so bad when he asks for more and all I have to give him is his 4th damn apple of the day.

I will consider my little guy very fortunate if the tests comes back normal. I don’t want something to be wrong, although if that something wrong could be fixed and this whole problem could just go away… well, that might have been more desirable that what we’re looking at now which is, pretty much no different from where we were three months ago. All the “normal” results leave us in pretty much the exact same place that we started in and I know Keaton just really wanted us to find him a way to have yogurt and pizza and cheese sticks like all the other kids in his class and nope, that’s not happening. The biggest mystery seems to be the stomach distention and while it’s not painful for him it does cause a fair amount of discomfort and once his modesty starts kicking in, a fair amount of embarrassment when he can’t keep his pants up. I’m sure I’ll find solutions for him. I guess I wasn’t too hopeful for any kind of resolve from his issues but I need to know, and more importantly, I need him to know that we did everything we could to figure this out for him. And while we wait for the answer, whether it be in the coming months or years from now, we’ll be there with him, our special little Butt-Crack Magoo.

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I want to take a minute to note the kids’ big art show and music concert we attended last night which was just as crazy as usual {massively over-crowded and chaotic} but at least now we know what to expect and can accept it for what it is, however horrifying it may be for a claustrophobic person.

The kids have been talking about this a ton and were super excited to show us their art work and all the songs they’ve been hard at work practicing. Rowan has a strict “surprise” policy, which means she won’t sing us or even tell us the names of any of the songs her class will be performing ahead of time so we can, I don’t know, go in with a musically cleansed pallet? Whatever, she’s really strict about it, so much so that whenever Keaton would so much as hum “Little Miss Muffet” or “Jack and Jill” Rowan would FREAK, like GOD, Keaton don’t you even know about My Policy {TM}, how could you?

And that was just for his Kindergarten class songs, ones that she had absolutely no involvement in. You don’t even want to KNOW the tone her voice took with him when he started singing the big group number for me, oh lord, the curl of drama in her voice went to a whole ‘nother level as she spit “You are ruining this for EVERYONE”. Which is to say, he was ruining it for no one, not even her, despite her very righteous indignation. Regardless, we’ve learned to just not ask too much about what we will hear on concert night because of this quirk.

I did have a little parenting conundrum beforehand though. Their music teacher instructed Keaton’s class to “wear their best” so Keaton came home from school, very excited, and said, “Mom! Mrs. H said we should wear our best clothes! I’m going to wear my tuxedo from boys’ dance because that is the fanciest thing I own!” Now, if you remember the pictures I probably posted last spring of my second-born dressed to the nines in a tux, you will have noted that this was not a sharp, sophisticated 2013 tuxedo, but rather something more closely associated with a bad 1980s prom photo. Line-texured shirt, hunter green bow tie and cumberbund, lots of sharp, unnecessary waist angles and ridiculously pointy tails. Now don’t get me wrong, it was/is completely adorable up on a dance stage, but for a school concert? Yeah, not so much.

At first I said sure, without really thinking about it. Keaton does not get embarrassed or ruffled easily. This is a kid who will still regularly come downstairs with a ninja mask, bow-staff and one of his sister’s leotards on and he has exactly NO SHAME. He’s asked to wear one of Rowan’s jumpers to school {because they look comfy, mom!} and he still will sport nail polish in the summer with absolutely no inhibitions. I 100% do NOT want to change this aspect of him. It’s one of my very favorite things and it’s truly what makes my Keaton so damn Keaton.

But. I didn’t want him to get hurt feelings if one of the kids {or let’s face it, adults, who I’ve learned can be worse when it comes to stuff like this} laughed at him or made fun of his very fancy outfit. The last thing I wanted to have happen would be for him to become self-conscious and lose the ability to just not give a shit about what other people think. Rowan was never as care-free as Keaton, but she got much more self-conscious somewhere between 6 and 7 and look, if/when it happens, it happens and that’s fine… I just didn’t want some jerky kid to kick-start it over a John Hughs tux.

I tried to explain to him that he would be a little over-dressed and that we could have a fancy family night that he could wear it to instead but he had his mind made up. I ended up polling a parent group I belong to and all agreed that I should let him sport the tux but should bring a back-up outfit just in case he felt it would be better to change. Brilliant! I explained the deal to Keaton which he accepted but he never wavered in his desire to wear the tux.

When we got to school, I dropped Keaton off in a room full of plaid shirts, sweater vests and khakis. I approached his teacher and said “Yeah, about the tux…” and she said, “Oh, we know all about the tux. Keaton talked about wearing it allll week”. Ha! Turns out it would have been weird for him not to wear it, as his whole class had been briefed on the sheer awesomeness of it. And therein I learned a very valuable lesson about trusting this kid, who knows himself through and through. And when they marched in, he stood up front and center, so proud as he sang his little heart out. It was a really great moment to be his mama.

Rowan did super great as well, and we were all surprised {!!!}! by the songs she sang {well, except for the last one, thanks for ruining LIFE, Keaton}. She was also very proud of her artwork and beamed as she pointed out her pieces hanging on the wall. It was all around a very busy, but fun evening celebrating just how awesome these little people are.

"Jazz"

“Jazz”

So much style in one little body.

So much style in one little body.

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And why not? It’s not like I have a very expensive, super awesome Canon 7D to record my family’s precious memories with. Oh wait! I do! It’s just currently being pulled apart by some camera surgeon, or more than likely, sitting on a shelf until a time when said camera surgeon deems it acceptable to actually take a look at the thing. I don’t really know anything other than last Sunday at the pumpkin patch it would not turn on, as if the battery had died, only I had just charged it two days before and that battery is a total rock star, going weeks before having to be plugged in. I couldn’t even freak the eff out, which is what I wanted to do, because it was Bill’s birthday and I didn’t want to stress him out or ruin his day so I just said, “Let’s not talk about it, we’ll figure it out tomorrow”. Then, all of a sudden it popped on. Huh. And YAY. Annnnnd it’s off again. Um. Shit. By the time I tested it the next day {when it was officially safe to freak out as much as I wanted to} it wouldn’t turn on at all.

So! After asking around we realized there was only one Canon specialist anywhere near the Twin Cities so Bill dropped it off on his lunch break and there it still sits. I’m more than a little distraught as the technician’s best guess {after checking the battery, which was just fine} was a faulty wiring communication thingy {technical term!} that will be pretty spendy to repair and is fairly common in these cameras. Turns out, after a quick google search, I found that the 7D is lovingly referred to as Canon’s Lemon. I really wanted the 5D mark III, with the 6D being more probable, but both were a liiiiiitle out of our budget and Bill’s co-worker had only owned this 7D for 2 years, it was way cheap comparatively and in great condition so I went for it, figuring I couldn’t be picky. Now I’m really, really thinking I should have been picky. I am normally a giant snob about items like this being completely new, but situation as it was, I just really wanted a new camera and getting a used one made that possible. I just hope it comes back as an easy fix and soon, as I sort of feel like I’m missing an actual appendage.

The good news is that these are the very best cell phone pictures money can buy! I know this because the very next day after the camera broke, my cell phone drowned in an unfortunate toilet incident here-by to be referred to as “Bill drops and shatters his phone Monday morning, Christy chastises him {from her very tall, some might even say high, horse}, Christy drops her phone in toilet that very same evening and this foot is never ever going to come out of my mouth”. Or just “Christy’s a Big Fat Idiot” {CaBFI}, for acronym brevity’s sake. After following all the instructions the internet had to offer it was sadly determined that all the rice in the free world would not save this phone. Luckily my contract was up for renewal so the new phone came at the best possible rate it could, which is to say, it’s a freaking iPhone so still ridiculously expensive.

{Okay it’s taking a little too long to get to these damn photos.}

Here you go, Internet!!

Halloween started off right with some gore.

That’s a real live Jack-O-Lantern, folks!

Halloween started off right with some gore. While I was up feeding the baby, Rowan awoke and under the supervision of her father proceeded to yank out the 2 front teeth that have been loose for over one full year {I know it’s me so it’s hard to tell, but this is not hyperbole. She’s been tormenting me with wiggling these suckers since mid-October 2012}. I guess it was an extremely bloody extraction, one I’m thankful Bill had to deal with, not me. Teeth are gross.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel, the Queen of the Woodland Elves, from LotR. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, missed got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy. He stayed home again on Halloween and studied up on his character by watching The Return of the King.

In case you missed it, this is the second time this kid has gotten sick on this holiday. Thankfully there was 100% less puking this time. He was feeling moderately better on Halloween but since he had to miss his school party I set up trick-or-treating in the living room which he thought was pretty cool. He seemed to be doing well that evening but he only lasted for about 25 minutes of ToTing so Bill brought him back and he laid on the couch and watched a movie with his candy bag close by. He was MUCH better today.

11.1.6

Getting Frodo ready. WHAT?! Hobbit’s have curly hair ERGO this was completely necessary! {Maybe I should have edited out that wine glass?} {NAH.}

You have to admit it was worth it.

You have to admit it was worth it. Big thanks to my friend Annie, who suggested it.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill's chagrin, most people didn't open the door and say, "Look it's Galadriel! The Lady of Light!". Weird, i know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie's costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

Ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill’s chagrin, most people didn’t open the door and say, “Look it’s Galadriel! The Lady of Light!”. Weird, I know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie’s costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

And there's my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn't tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

And there’s my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn’t tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

Til next year, Internet! Hope everyone had a happy, safe Halloween!

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The 2013 costuming season can be summed us thusly: So. Much. Sewing.

Seriously. As I was sewing on what I’m pretty sure was the 67th snap, I found myself wistfully remembering that first year when all I had to do was lovingly affix 7,986,231 sequins to two costumes. This year, between the 2 kids, I was responsible for six costumes, all of which needed a moderate to severe amount of sewing. And yes, severe sewing is totally a thing. At least when it’s done by me. I severely sewed the SHIT out of these costumes.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Rowan’s jazz dance was to Monster Mash. This costume was originally slated to be a lacy white and black, Bride of Frankenstein-esque number but it wasn’t quite Monster-y enough, which meant that the sewers had to start over, modeling it after a small-group costume created the previous season. I was a little put off by all the orange at first but it looked great up on stage and even won the costume award at our first competition.

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The skirt was probably the most labor intensive. The tulle of the skirt was dotted which made the placement of the sequins a no-brainer {and it was soft tulle which makes a HUGE difference in getting the sequins to stick} but there were A LOT of them. The black stripes on the front were glittered, which was messy but pretty easy. The waistband was added later by our room mom so we could add an assortment of orange, clear and irredescent crystal stones.

5.13.3

The orange muppet feathers were originally on a rope-like spool; 2 four inch and one six inch pieces were cut for each skirt and we sewed them on to create the desired feathered-bootie effect. We also added the flower and tacked the skirt down in several places so it would stay in place during the dance.

5.13.4

I’m sorry there was really just no good way to photograph this fluff of a top. When we got it is was just a rectangular piece of lycra. From there we sewed on two long ropes of orange fluff, tacking each down in 6 or so places. Then we added extra pieces of fluff to the back once we account for stretch, so it would completely cover the lycra. Three black straps were added to connect it around the back and two to the neck. The material is a sparkly black which is great for shimmering up on stage but not so great for the dancers as it is suuuupppeeerrr itchy. I ended up sewing a soft felt-like material on the inside where the straps were bothering Rowan which helped some.

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The neck straps were stoned with an assortment of crystals and I sewed on a swimsuit clasp and snaps for closures. There are 6 of these flowers on this costume, which were originally fake flowers with a stem and all, purchased from a craft store. They were de-stemmed, taken apart, hot glued and sewn back together, then a clear gem was sharpied {I promise this is a thing in the dance world} orange and glued in the center. We also glittered all the black stripes by placing many small dots of gem-tac glue and then sprinkling spoonfuls of glitter over them. Obviously this wasn’t enough DUH so we added random stones for shine.

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For the arm bands we sewed more orange fluff in a circle to splay out the feathers and WHY YES, that is more glitter on the black stripes, which was thankfully done in the studio and not spread all over my house… although I did mysteriously find some under Ezra’s chin a few days later for which the only explanation I can think of is some made it down my shirt and was transferred via nursing session, whatever… sparkle boob, sparkle baby. We also sewed clear hair elastics to the points of the band to loop around their finger so they would stay in place.

5.13.7

The leg mufflers were made of a very messy fur that sheds everywhere so we had to handle these puppies with care. We sequined the black tulle and sewed on the decorated flowers. To keep these things from slipping down while the girls danced we were given very tight, long, lycra socks. We sewed snaps to both the muffs and the socks to secure them. There was still a little slippage but it worked pretty well.

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Last were the hair bows. I helped glitter and decorate the flowers but one of our talented room moms created and assembled the bows. They are super cute and will be great for re-wearing at Halloween.

And here is the finished product…

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Rowan’s tap costume was MUCH less labor intensive and I really really love it. Still though, with the sewing…

5.13.8

The skirt was made out of a shimmery plaid which required no extra stones or sequins. I’m not quite sure how we made it through without having to sequin the tulle sticking out but thankbabyjesus for big/small favors. We stoned the belt loops and the buckle and tacked down the belt and the skirt to the tulle so it wouldn’t flip up. Voila! Done!

5.13.9

For the blazer we stoned and sewed on the decorative buttons and then sewed snaps on the inside for the closure. We sequined and stoned to create the LD patch. The pockets and collar were tacked down in several places so nothing gets floppy on stage.

5.13.10

For the finishing touches, the plaid was cut and glued onto the taps. We sewed on two rows of ruffle to the white knee-highs. The bra top required no extra work, as it was really barely visible on most girls.

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And here it is! I helped put the little stones on the hair bows but they were again mostly done by one of our room moms. I was disappointed when Charlie Brown was chosen as Rowan’s tap song- it’s just never been one of my favorites, but the costume ended up so adorable and the dance turned out to be one of my very favorites- the best one of Rowan’s yet. I love the whole thing.

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The studio also does a number that spans all the competition lines, 1st grade through graduating seniors {6 lines total plus the Dancing Dads- all of them except for the baby line, which is why this is Rowan’s first year in it} called Jive Bunny. It’s always a mix of songs with a common theme. Last year it was a Footloose theme, the year before is was Lady Gaga {those costumes were pretty rad}. This year Jive Bunny had a Rock of Ages theme. Rowan’s group dances out to I Wanna Rock during which they wield Paper Jams guitars. It’s reeeeeeally cute. A group of awesome moms took the helm piecing together this costume. I didn’t do anything but pay for it and add a few tacks to hold things in place.

Now for Keaton. Last fall I offered to help out backstage for the boys. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since there were just three boys on his line, they only do two competitions and two recitals and I was nervous how Keaton would handle all this so I thought it would be better to be back there with him. Then one of the boys ended up dropping out so it was just the two of them and I failed to remember that all the comp boys from the studio do a boys only number that is performed at all 5 recital shows. And little did I know, although I should have suspected, that I would somehow become responsible for the boys’ costumes which were eventually pieced together and modified by myself with a generous amount of help from the room mom from his line and a couple other older boys’ moms who have been through The Crazy and gave me help/tips. I was completely unprepared for this responsibility and hated pretty much every second of it from conception to execution to completion but there really wasn’t anyone else who could do it so that was that. If Keaton stays in dance I praypraypray a boy with a competent mother gets recruited so I can pass the costume conception torch to her, for I absolutely SUCK at it. Give me detailed instructions and material and I will gladly do whatever I can to help out but I’m just NOT cut out to put this stuff together; I do NOT have a brain that thinks in sequins and shimmer, just look at my closet where you’ll be assaulted with only varying shades of grey.

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I don’t have detailed or great pictures of Keaton’s costumes. I’m always so busy doing things backstage, a rushed cell phone picture is all I’ve managed so far, Hopefully I’ll get some good ones during the recital weekend. This is his jazz costume. It looks easy and unassuming enough and it really is, except that none of the items he’s wearing here came in the right color. The green t-shirt is the only thing that was purchased outright and the only modification was cutting a hole in it to string the light panel battery pack connector through. The sweatshirt had to match the girls’ vests so I bought white hoodies, cut a hole for the light panel in the lower chest, cut the sleeves off and had them hemmed, then a room mom helped dye them to match. Another room mom found the light-up panels {the girls’ tutus light up so they wanted something cool for the boys} which I glued and tacked onto the sweatshirt in 8 spots. I also tacked down the hood so it wouldn’t flop around and tacked the sweatshirt to the greet shirt.

The shorts were pretty time consuming because all the pink and orange you see on them was lovingly colored in with fabric markers and they needed to be gone over several times to be bright enough. They also only had the converse high-tops in bold colors; no neon or baby blue unless you want to pay big bucks for custom designs so those were dyed along with the sweatshirts, which took a couple of tries because they weren’t coming out dark enough. Then I ditched the white laces for the bright blue. The socks needed to be colored with fabric pens as well. There were tons of neon colors out there this spring but unfortunately they were all for girls and all super feminine styles. The process of running to store after store, getting excited about finally landing on something only to have it not work out and then heading back to return it was really daunting with the baby.

5.13.17

Keaton’s tap dance was to Hound Dog. Please don’t ask me about the zebra print because I… don’t get it either. The pants and fake-leather jacket was purchased at H&M. I searched stores and the Internet high and low for a boys zebra print shirt with close to zero luck. The only one I found was spendy and non-returnable which really wasn’t a chance I wanted to take because I never knew what would make it through approvals or not. In the end I modified the straps on a zebra camisole I found at Justice. The boys HATE it but since you only see the bottom and a little bit at the top it’s not too big of a deal. My least favorite part of this costume was the dog collar {which you can’t really see in this picture}. It’s a men’s gothic spike necklace I got at Hot Topic. I had to cut it down and add elastic and a snap and ugh, it’s weird and yuck and I DO NOT LIKE. Admittedly it looks just fine on stage but I asked the girls’ room mom to sneak it off of him for his individual shot on picture day because just, yeah, no thank you.

5.13.15

For the boys dance Keaton wore an adorable tuxedo. Since he was born with absolutely no butt to speak of, I had to take in the waist by about half. I also had the legs hemmed and each age group of boys got their own color cumberbund and tie. Besides adding velcro on the tie closure {they all pull them off at the end of the dance} and reinforcing the buttons, this one was pretty easy and he was just oh so handsome.

And there you have it! Time is always the big issue~ it seems no matter how hard everyone tries to get the ball rolling early, we always end up having to complete 9,000 tasks in about 3-4 weeks and it is really pretty stressful; especially when you’re caring for a small human that doesn’t understand when I say “hold on, Baby, I just need to sew on 8 more snaps”. I have learned to let go and just try to roll with the punches for the most part which was fine for Rowan’s stuff, especially after I learned to glue down the snap before sewing. There may have been some tears shed when those little bastards wouldn’t stop sliding around as I was trying to sew them down and it was 11 pm and I knew the baby would be up soon and I just wanted to sleeeeeep and STOP MOVING, SNAP I HATE YOU, SNAP WHY WERE YOU EVEN BORN, SNAP. Letting things go turned out to be a little trickier for Keaton since I was in charge of it but with lots of help I made it through with most of my dignity in tact. Being stuck in a dressing room with a dozen boys ages 4-12 is a WHOLE other story, one I’m really hoping I live through.

As in previous years, we are not sure if we’ll continue down this road. There are so many benefits of competitive dance but the main drawbacks, time and money, are getting harder to justify the deeper into this we get. We will reassess after the recital at the beginning of June and see where things stand. In the meantime, I’m so proud of all the hard work Rowan and Keaton put in this year. The progress they’ve both made is really remarkable and watching how much fun they are having up on stage has truly been one of my best moments as their mom, even if I do wince every time I see a hard-won stone or sequin pop off in the process ;).

 

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… Lightsaber sound effects

… ninja jumps, rolls and kicks

…mad booty shakin’ skills

… bespectacled

… not caring whether it’s a turtle bow staff

… Or a tutu

… A bike riding fool

… being frustrated you’re not older

… being frustrated you’re not younger

… A handsome devil

…running, leaping, flying cartwheels

… obstinate pouting

… Hippie-haired

… a humongous heart

… butt jokes

… learning that being a big brother can be hard

… learning that being a big brother can be super awesome

… ridiculous eyelashes

… sword fights

… so affectionate

… crooked smiles {sorry about that}

… My guy

Keaton had his preschool conference late last month. Despite always working myself up over the prospect that the teachers will tell me how much my kid sucks, they talked about how their favorite things about him are how he is a great sharer, a big helper, especially at clean-up time, and what a great friend he is. When they asked the kids to list who they love to play with, Keaton made almost every kid’s list. I know I’ve said it before but the different strengths and weaknesses of my kids always amaze me. Where Rowan excels at imagination and independence, Keaton excels at people. He is such a people person~ he’ll seek you out and engage you and just wants to be with others in every sense.

Keaton, to say that the last five years have gone by in a blink would be a gross understatement~ except that first year which I’m pretty sure lasted several lifetimes. You would never guess it though based on what a happy, sweet, laid back little guy you are now. I will always cherish the memories of this fall, that time between the puking mama and the mama who always has to say “I can’t, I’m feeding/rocking/changing the baby”, when you and I would grab our gloves and play baseball out in the street in the morning sunshine and how I’d pitch the ball to you and WHACK, you cracked it way over my head and my big pregnant self would have to run to retrieve it and try to tag you, only you would cheat by just running a small circle around home plate instead of touching all the bases and then you would laugh and laugh when I caught you to tag you with kisses and you would collapse on the ground, eyes twinkling and cheeks red and puffing and say, “Mama? I love you.”

Oh, Keaton. How I love you too.

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