Monday, June 04, 2012

Unintended Vacation

Almost halfway through 2012 and I have spent most of it off work.  I just started back a couple weeks ago and while some of the folks who I don't see on a daily basis, said with genuine concern, "Where have you been?", others seemed to have not noticed or after asking how long I was gone, and I responded with "three months" they promptly look down at my stomach.  No, I didn't have another baby - did I really look 9 months pregnant last time you saw me???

Towards the end of last year, I developed some butt pain.  Quite literally. Thought it was a muscle, it didn't respond to any of the stretching, yoga etc that I tried and just got worse until one day it felt like a jolt of electricity running down my leg.  Hello sciatica.  Off to physical therapy.  2 months of that and after some slight improvement, things got much worse.  Way more intense nerve pain (which can only be described as hell - you can't sit, you can't lay down, you can't sleep) and then my foot and leg suddenly started going numb and my reflex was gone and my muscles in my leg felt like I had run a marathon, when all I had done was get out of bed.  Off to MRI.  Herniated disc.  Off work because I can't fulfill my job description of being able to lift 35 pounds.  Off to surgery.

The anticipation of surgery was way worse than the actual day, and immediate recovery is actually pretty quick.  You are up walking and home the same day.  It was a great success as my nerve pain was pretty much gone over night.  Surgical pain is nothing - I was happy to have that kind of pain.  Because backs are touchy and discs are slow to heal, I took my maximum time allowed for FMLA to minimize risk of reherniation.  And here I am feeling pretty good and back at the grind.  There is plenty of soreness and weird daily aches and pains and I have to be very diligent with PT and careful with how I do everything, but it is so much better than before.

So that has been all consuming. My mom has practically lived here since the surgery helping with Cam (no lifting allowed in the beginning and definitely not a 40 pound child) and generally taking care of the house, the chickens and the garden.  She has been a lifesaver.
Mom getting a garden going for us.

Me and my boy
One week before my surgery, we thought it would be a good idea to get a new influx of chicks as the current flock is slowing getting picked off and they are an aged 2 and will quickly lose productivity.   So Jenn and I came home with a mere 33 chicks.  So tiny and and they hardly take up any space at that age!  Maybe not the best timing with my back, but with Jenn doing nearly everything and after only losing 3 early on, they are thriving and taking up way more space.  Challenges this time around included keeping them alive when we had the freak snowstorm and extended power outage (chicks need heat!), keeping them separate from the big chickens, fencing in an outdoor area for them while still keeping them segregated, and keeping their side of the coop clean.

Teaching them to how to drink.  See?  30 doesn't look like that many!
Month old chicks...getting crowded!
Checking out the great outdoors.  About 5 weeks here.
About 8 weeks old.  In their expanded outdoor area.
 As of two days ago, we finally integrated them with the six mature birds.  It was pretty seemless as they have had lots of time to check each other out through the green fencing.  A bit of posse-like behavior from the older ones - they stick together and exert their age and might over the young ones, quite literally establishing the pecking order.  It has been really interesting to see the big ones do their normal wandering throughout the day to all their usual places (aka EVERYWHERE), while all 30 of the young ones stay quite close to the coop and are not venturing all that far. I thought for sure they would follow the old ones right to my back deck.  My fingers are crossed. See that largish white one alongside the coop?  Yep.  Confirmed.  Rooster.

Other summary in photos....

We hosted my work holiday party this year.  A great excuse to clean the house - who knew it could look that clean?  Also, isn't it weird how the unpainted texture shows up in photos?  We will paint in here....someday.


Christmas eve we went to Florence for a little canoe-crabbing.  After a slow start, we ended up with a quite successful day, hauling in 9.
Watching waves.  Look how Melody is doing all the work!
Keith and Dwayne out on the water.

New Years was spent on the coast with our lovely friends.  The light in this photo is not particularly good, but I love the conspiring look on their faces.

"3,2,1 Drop!" Yelled over and over and over....
Later in January, the Bauer family met up in St George, UT for a late holiday gathering.  Two days of bad weather, then it was glorious. Cam loved all the hiking.
Some serious Diego watching.  The beer helps.
One of several trips to Snow Canyon.  How do we get him out?
Lovely day hike north of town.

Camden update....He is doing great at daycare and developing friends that he spends most of his time with. He has stopped napping (as of January) for us at home, but will still nap at daycare.  He needs one about every third day and if it's not a daycare day, he sometimes will end up falling asleep at the end of a meltdown at 4:00 PM.  He has officially started to read.  Small words, but does all the sounding out and loves figuring out new words.  Everywhere we go, he asks, "what does that say?'  'What are those big words?"  I love it.  His keen sense of observation and caution has not abated.  We've had two attempts at going to the dentist and while he talks a good game about sitting in the chair and opening his mouth, this action has yet to materialize.  And his two favorite activities remain playing with cars and riding his bike.

Pondering puddles.

Easter!  He loved the search this year.
At a train show.  He LOVES railroad crossings.
In early May, before I had to head back to work, Cam and I stayed in Gig Harbor for a few days to hang out.  I had a wonderful night out with my old elementary school cronies, a fun visit to the zoo with Amy and family and a ferry ride for Cam, of which the most exciting part was watching the cars drive on and off.  Go figure.

At a Pt Defiance beach after the zoo.
"Come on Grandpa!  We're almost to the easy part!"
Another great train ride.
We've been chipping away at progress on our house. We have a garden up and running.  We'll see what actually comes up, but we've got a lot planted.  We have been using an independent contractor who comes in and does a bit of work a couple days a week.  The "platform room" is making some nice headway with new flooring and new paint.  And the laundry room is getting a toilet framed in and some new flooring as well (thanks Dad!).
New colors!
We didn't quite get the ring of fire for the solar eclipse, but we got a nice show regardless.
The cloud came at just the right time.

And finally, we leave you with a video.  Cam is not the most aggressive boy when it comes to physical activity.  When he hit three, he learned to fear things, so he approaches any new physical activity with caution.  I am OK with this, and you can imagine my surprise, when I witnessed what he's been doing at Grandma's....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Year in Review

I always threaten to abandon this blog as I can't seem to do it on a regular basis, then someone tells me, "I keep checking your blog....".   Oh, all right........

I see we left you off with the sleep woes of our child. I would love to say they have all resolved. But alas, no. Shortly after that blog, we did embark in some serious sleep training that involved slowly moving further away from the bed each night until the one putting him to bed was eventually sitting out in the hall while he fell asleep. It was painful, but it worked. There were some long sessions sitting on that floor, but he eventually got the idea and we had to forbid anyone from falling asleep with him ever again, lest he fall back into that habit. So that part was fixed, but the middle of the night wake-ups crying for mama or just showing up at the side of my bed, sadly have not gone away like one book promised me, ("once you get the putting self to sleep issue solved, the midnight wake-ups will stop". Ha!). We had some nice stretches, and there are days he will sleep straight on through to 7, but I would say about 2/3 of the time I am either crashed in his bed or he is in ours by 5:00AM. And sometimes I sleep just fine and others, not so much. Such is life.  I don't have the energy to be very strict about it, and would rather just sleep no matter where it is or who it is with.  And besides, I do love cuddling with him!

Keith is almost a year into his new job.  He does like it and it is a nice fit for him, but the hours for him are relentless.  11 hour days minimum, 5 days a week.  Poor thing is tired all the time and has little energy for much else.  So needless to say, not much progress is being made on our house.  Although we have made some headway.  The crawlspace is now insulated and we had some ductless heat pumps installed, so we are hoping for a warmer winter (or at least one where we burn a bit less wood).  Lately, we've made a push outside.  Keith got a hold of some (a whole bunch) of old telephone poles and created this fence
New Fence
and used some as corner posts for a garden fence.  We rented a backhoe and did some leveling of ground and moving of stuff.  We planted some grass seed in the front and are starting to work some of the dirt in hopes of having a garden come spring.  Most of this is done via a rented piece of equipment or lots of wheelbarrow loads.  As Keith says, "We need a tractor".
Grass next year, we hope

Not too bad so far...
Grass is growing!

And now.....a summary of the rest of the year (remember, no one is forcing you to read this!).

March:  Spent a lot of time and effort getting Cam a haircut.  At this point it would only be his second.  The first one was easy - he let me do it while watching TV, and it came out all right.  When I attempted the second, he went into hysterics and would not sit still - no level of bribery would work, and with me wielding sharp scissors, I didn't risk it.  I think I got two cuts in and he wouldn't have any more.  So we had a couple visits to my hairdresser that were fruitless, one visit that was followed by a trip to a park where someone mistook him for a girl!  Talk about rubbing it in!  We ended up going to a barber with his friend Max (who sat so quietly and politely by himself in the barber chair), where Cam sat still on my lap but was not happy about it.  The sucker afterwards almost made up for it.
During Haircut

Since then, we had one more forced session where he cried in Gramma's arms the whole time and then miraculously, last week he let me do it all by myself in our living room, not crying once.  You just never know what you're going to get with these kids.

April:  Cam and I took a trip up to Washington to visit Gramma and Grandpa.  We took the train both ways which proved to be a great way to travel with a toddler. 

We made it!
Arriving in Tacoma
Milk on Train
Milk on the train.

Silly boys
Fun with friends in GH
Nice Follow thru!
Throwing rocks in Puget Sound

Keith met us in Portland on the way back and we took Cam to the zoo for the first time.  He liked it indeed, but didn't go as crazy for the animals as we thought he would.   Cam has been doing little soccer classes (if you can really call it soccer) that he enjoys for the most part.  There are days he participates like a champ and days he wants no part of it.  When he realizes anyone is watching him is usually when he will stop participating and just want to watch.  He continues to be shy and really doesn't talk to anyone except for those most familiar to him.  And any new situation, he will want to be carried or demand a hug, "I need a hug mama.".  Cute at times, frustrating at times.
Soccer Team Photo
Look how happy he is to be in a team photo!
Nice Kick!
Sometimes he has actual soccer skills...
Sometimes he has other skills....pilates during soccer?  Sure, why not?
Somewhere in here I agreed like a fool to run a half marathon with my old college friends, so I lamely began training.  My training never consisted of more than a long run on Sunday and a short run (no more than 3 miles) on a weekday if I had someone here to watch Cam.

May:  Not much notable this month, except this cute little guy, Giacomo Giustina, Bea's brother was born!!
Borrowed photo - he's about 2 months in this pic.

June:  Somewhat successfully ran the Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon.  I had been having nice long training runs with the longest being 10 miles.  Not running fast, but not stopping, which equates to success for me.  So I felt moderately prepared.  The night before we had a lovely time reuniting with all our friends, but unfortunately that night I was hit with one of my worst episodes of insomnia since nursing school.  I'm not sure if I actually got any real sleep.  Regardless, I felt reasonably good and we were off to a successful start.  Our group of 8 quickly dispersed, with all of us running at our own pace and within the first mile I was running on my own. Things were great until about mile 3, I started to have some knee pain. I had been having trouble with my knee, but it never really hurt until after my runs, so my plan was to ignore it all and rest it up after all this nonsense was done. So now of course it starts to hurt while running on the day you least want it to happen!  I forged ahead, trying to ignore it, and frequently adjusting my knee straps in vain. By mile 8 or 9, I was having shooting pains all the way up my leg and into my hip and even felt a little unstable on the leg (like my leg might buckle), and with a great frustrated sigh, started to walk.  I was most pissed off because my lungs felt great and I just hated walking, knowing I could have easily ran the whole thing.  So I alternated running and walking, until I hit downtown Seattle where I just couldn't stand to walk in front of all those people.  So I just ran as fast as I could for the last mile and after crossing the finish line, could barely bear weight on that leg at all. But I did it, and would even be willing to do it again, if I could find a solution to the knee thing.  My time was officially 2:27:14.  It took several weeks and a new knee brace, but I can say now that my leg is back to baseline.
The gang at the end.  We all did it!

July:  Summer ticking along.  I think this is the month the sun finally came out. It was a long, wet, and cool spring that about drove us all to the brink.  Still no trips for us, a pretty homebound summer with limited vacation for Keith.

We did get our usual 4th of July camping trip at Smith River.  The weather cooperated and Cam truly enjoyed hanging around the campfire, sleeping in a tent and running around with his cousins.
At the end of the day, sitting around the fire.
A big furry friend
Camden and the Newfie - he did this all on his own - not a forced shot.
Cousin Ashley
We love Ashley!

Decided to try a crash course in potty training on a random weekend in late July.  Mom came down to help.  Up to this point we have had a potty out for him and we were constantly reading potty books which he was very interested in and he always would wake up dry in the morning.  So I figured he was ready, but there was one small obstacle:  he would not actually sit on the potty - with or without clothes.  So we tried a weekend where we just kept him naked or in underwear, hoping he would then want to sit down and go instead of get all wet. I can't say it was a success.  The only way to get any pee in the potty was if we caught him starting to pee and raced over with the potty and put it under him.  He would be kind of excited, but would never initiate it and bring himself to it.  And he would hold it forever.  One morning he woke up dry and didn't pee until 11:00 AM!  One time, I gave up waiting and we headed outside.  As he stood at the door waiting to go out, he says to me, "but it's OK to pee in the water".   I said, yes that's fine, but I'd rather you do it in the grass.  He marches out ahead of me, steps into his pool and pees.  So clearly he can control it, but for whatever reason will not do it on his potty.  When it came time that he obviously had to poo, he became very upset and distressed, so we called it all quits and put the diapers back on.

A couple weeks later at daycare, they asked me how potty training was going and how they'd like to see some progress so he can move up to the preschool class  He laid there quietly and surely listened to me explain my woes.  That day he sat for them on the toilet.  And that day at home he sat on his own potty. So, I got out the M and M's and bribed away.  He would get an M and M just for sitting on the darn thing.  One time, he said to me, "I want an M and....I want to sit on my potty". These kids know way too much!

So we carried on with potty time, but no real results.  Then one day, early in September, after having potty time in the morning, I left him naked and left the room.  Next thing I know, he comes around the corner, and says in a quiet voice, "I did it mama.  I peed in my potty."  And sure enough he did.  Just like that.  And it went very quickly from there and we haven't really used a diaper since.  He was rewarded with 3 M and M's for pee and 5 for poo initially, until I realized he was getting a shitload of M and M's each day.  I was able to talk him down to 2 and 3 without any trouble.  And when they were gone, they were gone, and he was OK with that too.

The funny thing about Cam and his potty is that he is very private.  He has always instructed me to leave the room while he is going (but I have to come back and look at it), so pottying at daycare has been a slower process.  They have to go in groups there, so we are still struggling with accidents while there, but he seems to take in all in stride as well and does not get upset by it.  The next challenge will be to get him to go in a public restroom - he is deathly afraid of those things.

August:  A busy month.  I went on my annual girls' hike early in the month.  It was another lovely hike.  This year we stayed up north and did a hike to Marmot Pass on the Olympic Peninsula.  As usual, fantastic views and even better company.  And some sore calves for the next three days!!
Camp in the morning
Breaking camp in the morning
Cloudy night.
Marmot Pass in the fog
Scramble up the nearby peak.
Morning scramble
The Olympics
View of the Olympics from the very top
Lots of pretty wildflowers

Keith, Cam and I got away for one weekend at the coast,

Playing with sand
All pics are of Cam, so here is one of us!
Looking at the sea stars
Writing in the sand
More walking
Beach walk
....and a week of camping with my family in Eastern Oregon at Magone Lake in the Strawberry Mountains.  It as a nice, relaxed week of good weather and good company.  We had a lovely campsite overlooking the water, which was a perfect swimming lake.  We got away for an overnight hike without the kid and walked up to the top of Strawberry Mountain.  The only snafu we had was what was the first of many breakdowns/problems in my "new" Subaru. The clutch went out at the trailhead for our hike.  Between Keith, my dad and my brothers we were able to limp it back to the campsite.  There the problem was pretty confidently diagnosed, but no parts or mechanics to be found, so the day we left, we bombed home for 6 hours - only stopped once and Keith probably only used the clutch 5 or 6 times.  I had no idea you could drive/shift a car that well without pushing in the clutch.  We made it home and Keith finished the repairs.
Our campsite on the way over.  Where would we be without the hot wheels?
Coffee and eggs over the fire
Breakfast at camp - not a bad site, and a great swimming lake.
Card tricks with Uncle Carl
Goofy family photo
Morning in the camper
Sleepover in Gramma and Papa's camper
The clan at the top
Top of Strawberry Mountain - 9,038 ft
Pretty valley
Pretty valley along the trail

The other problems with my car?  Too many and too complicated to list.  It was one thing after another after the check engine light came on and about $2,000 and a lot of cursing later I think I'm finally done with repairs for a while (knock on wood).

Oh, and we got a cat.  Well, she found us.  We had been thinking about getting a cat and one day, here is this gorgeous Siamese on my back deck.  I gave her some food and she kept showing up and made her way further and further into our house and lives.  Eventually, I put an email out to the neighborhood to see if anyone had lost her, and sure enough, she belonged to a neighbor down the road.  She tried to take her back home, but Bobbie (as named by Camden), came right back.  So, by mutual agreement, she is ours now, but free to go back anytime she chooses.  Cam loves having her, but isn't always that nice to her.  And Bobbie isn't that young, so she only puts up with so much - just a couple surface scratches so far and lots of hissing.
New Cat
"I have a cat mama!"

September:  Nothing notable here - this was the month the potty stuff really started to happen, so I think we laid low and it was also when we did most of our outdoor work as we needed to get it all done before the major rains started.  As I remember, September was actually a lovely and hot month - well deserved after our spring (or lack thereof).

October:  We talked about Halloween a lot and Cam was initially very excited to be a Rainbow fish, then a ladybug, then a tree.  We settled on a tree and I even sewed him a little shirt with leaves all over it.  When I showed it to him, he said, "Wow Mama!".  But he wanted nothing doing with putting it on.  I wasn't completely surprised, just hopeful.  Not even the promise of strangers dumping candy in a bag for him was enough to get a costume on my boy.  So instead of trick or treating, we went swimming.  We had the pool to ourselves and he had the best time ever.

November:  Camden turns 3!  He was in denial and wanting to push it off ("No....I'm still 2!  I thought I was still two!  For 5 more minutes!").  As most of you know, Cam is a quiet type.  Not one to strike up conversations with other kids at the playground, not one to even say hi to someone really for the first 5 minutes you are with him, and if Happy Birthday is about to be sung or is being sung, it is hide-behind-mama-cover-your-ears time. So when I asked Cam if he wanted to have a birthday party, he got a very worried look on his face and said "Noooooo!"  I thought about tricking him into one and having it at a gymnastics place or pizza place because what kid doesn't want a party?  But then I thought, my kid doesn't want a party.  And that is OK.  Why in the world should I force it on him, when it is HIS birthday?  So we didn't have a real party.  Just dinner and cake with family and a few presents scattered throughout the day.  And the Happy Birthday song was forbidden.  He loved it and now proudly says, "I'm three now mama!".
Fire truck cake
Fire truck cake was a hit.
Cousin Brandon
Cousin Brandon - he really takes to the older cousins.

As I always say, he continues to fill us with wonder. His strong points are still his vocabulary and his letters/numbers.  We are pretty sure he can read a couple words.  For sure he can read his name, also stop, boo and moo.  I caught him once sounding out the word dad on his pajamas.  He also loves to say what sounds the letters make.  He will randomly tell me, "W says wuh like for watermelon".  It blows me away every time.  He likes to make words that rhyme.  A lot of times he just makes up words, but he picks a lot of real words too.  He says complicated things like, "I changed my mind.  I will do that later.  I didn't mean to do that.  First we will....then we will....., OK??".  Every sentence out of his mouth is long and filled with so many descriptive words.  And the memory on that child is frightening.  If I miss a word in a book, he calls me out on it, or if I miss a small part of the story I am telling him (we repeat a lot of the same stories), he freaks out until I correct myself.  And then we laugh at how silly I was for getting it wrong.  And on and on.

Happy boy

He remains timid on bikes, and anything physical that is new to him.  Like jumping into the foam pit at gymnastics.  He won't jump off the big boat yet, and I asked him about it today and he said, "I will jump off the boat when I am 16."  Well.  OK then.  Socially, with other kids he is getting better.  There is nothing cuter than watching him converse with his playmates.  The conversations are short, but man they are cute.
Fingerpaint with Max
Max, one of his best buddies
Artwork with Bea
And Bea, his other best buddy.

Hot wheels remain the toy of choice.  After a long day away at daycare, he will immediately walk in the door and sit down with his pile of cars and park them for about 30 minutes easy.  It is his way of recharging and calming down.  Unfortunately, a lot of the day I hear, "Mama, come play cars with me.  Play cars with me!  I thought you would play cars with me!!".   I can't tell you how many times I have parked a Hot Wheel.  He is recently becoming interested in playing games and doing puzzles, which is still very parent-intensive, but a nice change from the cars.

I shipped him off to Gig Harbor on the train with his Gramma Neena earlier this month.  We met her in Portland and the two of them rode the rest of the way north together on the train.  He was gone for four full days - the longest he has been away from us yet.  He did great and had a blast and barely even asked for us.  The quiet here was surreal, but a well needed break for us too.
Killing time in Portland.

And finally, as I write this, I can say that we have successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving.  We normally descend on Keith's parents house in Coos Bay, but this year, it was decided to do it here.  That means no beach walks, cliff walks or dune walks, which I did miss, but it was less stress on Keith's parents and less driving for the cousins.  Our house did well to fit everyone, and all seemed to enjoy themselves.  Lots of eating, game playing and lounging as usual.  It was a real challenge for Camden as he had to share his space and toys for four solid days with three other kids.  Not an easy task for him and he had his moments, but overall, I am very proud of him and I think he really bonded with his cousins.

We got almost everyone out on at least one outing up the Butte.  We had glorious weather and the kids made it all the way to the top on their own accord.

Hiking up the Butte
Cousins hiking - Cam insisted on taking this backpack.
Snacks at the top
Camden and Ashley "my favorite cousin" on top of the Butte
Our little family
View from Spencer Butte
This Sisters from the top of Spencer Butte
Pausing for a picture
So proud of everyone for making it up - lots of fake hips in this crowd!

Happy holidays everyone. Hope you have a great one!