Christmas Break

Okay, the first thing to know about our break is that we've been sick almost the entire time. Heather threw up on Christmas Eve, and Corinne started a fever on Christmas afternoon. But Heather was mostly fine after throwing up, and Corinne's fever cleared up after a day. After that, it was basically just a cold for each of them: congestion, coughing, runny noses...you know, the usual. Nothing too dramatic. And there were plenty of up times in between the periods of misery.

(Also, a lot of these pictures are not great. They're mostly candid shots of the girls in their natural states of frenzy, which lends itself to blurriness. But I wanted to get them blogged anyway.)

We've had some fun playing with different arrangements of the fort (I learned that blocking the TV is not ideal, but they found a way around it regardless):

Heather gave Kyle Wii Sports Resort for Christmas. I think he's played it for a couple of minutes so far, but she's dedicated quite a bit of time to it:

By the 28th, this kid was not looking great. She was snotty and eye-goopy and coughing and all-around yucky. Her mood was a bit improved, though.

We had made a date to go to the zoo with the Spencers on the 29th, and we figured the girls were doing pretty good, health-wise. Heather seemed to be mostly recovered from her cold, and while Corinne was still a bit yicky, she was going to be in the stroller most of the time anyway. And we knew everybody needed to get out of the house, so off we went!

Liam, Heather, and Emma

The goats are always a hit.

The zoo was Thursday. Kyle spent Friday-Sunday at death's door. I was also sick, but not as bad. (My biggest issue was the migraines flared by the congestion.) Aaaand the girls got worse again. New Year's Eve was Heather's turn to spike a fever, so we didn't do any special festivities that night.

Corinne is currently obsessed with moving her food to other containers. Also, practicing her spoon technique.

Heather comes by her bookworm tendencies honestly, at least. I love it!
Trains, yo! And tangrams!

January 2nd, we got the girls in to see the doctor. Corinne's fever was gone by then, but this virus was just dragging on forever. Both girls were still super snotty and coughing and lethargic, though Heather was showing real signs of recovery. Corinne was diagnosed with the first ear infection either of the girls have had. Very special! So she started antibiotics and started improving very quickly.

I don't know if it's clear what Corinne is doing here, but it's one of her current passions: feeding the critters.

Corinne loves pillow corners MORE THAN LIFE.

Wednesday morning, Heather was bopping around, happy as a lark. That night, she crashed pretty hard. Thursday afternoon, she had a fever. Thursday night, she had a coughing fit so long and hard she was vomiting and I had to call the nurse line for suggestions to make it stop so she could eat (pro tip: there are basically none).

So this was us back at the doctor's office again on Friday, where Heather was diagnosed with an ear infection. Same ear as Corinne, even! The doc pointed out that that's one thing they really didn't need to share.

Both girls are doing much better now. For reals, I think. [fingers crossed!] Heather still wakes up very congested, and she didn't go to church this morning. (Actually, none of us went to church on Christmas or New Year's Day. And Kyle missed 2 full days and 2 half days of work this last week. This illness has been a beast!)

I'm hopeful that Heather will be able to go to school tomorrow, but I'm not 100% certain it'll be a great experience if she does. I'm envisioning her coughing for the first 2 hours and crying/screaming for the rest because she's worn out. But she'll be devastated if she has to stay home. So I guess we'll see how she is in the morning!

Coloring this afternoon.

Christmas 2016

Christmas was quiet at home this year.

We got a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.  We opted out of the cut-our-own route this year.  The trees haven't been in good shape due to the drought, it's a long drive, and it doesn't save any money.  So we just grabbed one from the hardware store.

We wanted another Grand Fir, like we had last year, but no one seemed to have them.  So we ended up with a Nordmann Fir.  It seemed to hold its needles well, but it has no smell at all, and the needles have an almost plastic-y appearance.  We're going to try for the Grand Fir in the future (they apparently start stocking them a few weeks after Thanksgiving).

I added some berry-like lights to the decorations this year.  I thought they'd look neat hanging from the trellis / wisteria.  The effect wasn't quite what I had hoped, but I think I can re-work them next time around to have a better outcome.  The picture overexposes the lights hiding their color, so they're more colorful looking in real life.

On Christmas Eve we got the girls to bed and awaited Santa's arrival.

To discourage Heather from diving right in to the living room in the morning Jess set up streamers across the doorway:

Then it was to bed for the night....or so we thought.  At about 11:30 Heather got out of bed and came in to our room trying to tell us something, but refusing to open her mouth.  She then ran into the bathroom (thankfully) to throw up.  Once that was out of her system, she started freaking out about the streamers.  She was apparently interpreting them as locking us in or something.  We got her back to bed....and then Corinne woke up.  And around 4 she seemed to decide she was done sleeping.  And finally a little before 7 Heather got up, so we might as well all get up...

Surely Corinne doesn't have the cognitive capability to have been anticipating getting up Christmas morning, but she was definitely feeding off of Heather's energy throughout Christmas Eve day.  They were both completely loony.

Anyway, up we got, and much excitement was had.  But first with the requisite anticipation-building pictures:

Corinne ignored the shiny gifts and the colorful "Tote-a-fort" and bee-lined straight for the bowl of M&Ms on the desk (with lurking alligator) and starting shoveling them into her mouth (the kid is a chocolate fiend):

Heather, however, knows the routine and went for her stocking:

Gifts were opened, breakfast casserole was eaten, naps were taken, fun was had by all.

Corinne loves the fort:

Heather helps me open a gift (I think it's Funny Bones!):

Jess got a new jewelry box:

The brain flakes are lots of fun:

Heather, of course, wanted to do some science and try out the first project from The Magic School Bus Science Club (12-month subscription service).  We built a model lung (balloon), chest cavity (plastic bottle), and diaphragm (plastic wrap).  It actually works too.  Pulling the plastic wrap will inflate the balloon.  This picture is Heather recording her observations about the experiment.

A nice ham dinner was had later on in the day with fresh rolls, of course, and many dessert options.  I had been having waves of mild nausea throughout the day, but my stomach seemed to settle down by dinner and I was able to enjoy the feast.

Corinne was thoroughly worn out by the day.  She napped twice, so we thought she'd be up later than usual, but at about 7pm she dragged a pillow up to me, climbed up in my lap, set the pillow on my legs, folded in half on to the pillow, and fell asleep.

2016 Family Adventure - Part 8: Returning Home

On Friday, October 21st, Heather helped Grandma make sugar cookies and we went over to Dinosaur State Park and sifted out some fossils and rocks in the sluice.

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On the 22nd we had a farewell lunch at Dairy Queen:

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On our trip back, during our layover in Chicago, the weather was clear and we went up in to the Willis Tower.  Up to the 103rd floor to go stand out in a box of glass:

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Then a couple more days on the train:

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Heather woke up early 25th in desperate need of something to read.  So she read the passenger safety card:

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As we prepared to arrive back in Martinez we ventured out to the observation car, which was oddly deserted at this time.  I guess not many people take the train into Emeryville since the observation car is usually packed.

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And with that, our trip was over.  We loaded back up in the van and drove home.2016-connecticut-travel-map

2016 Family Adventure - Part 7: Castle Craig

Okay, let's clear this up immediately, "Castle" Craig is a lie.  It should be "Tower Craig" or something, but I didn't name it.  It's a little tower built up on the side of a mountain in Meriden, CT.  But it has a great view and we got nice colors from the leaves.  I don't have much else to say about it, but it makes me miss New England.  I mean, just look a these pictures!  Trees!  Everywhere!  They just grow all on their own without being carefully tended and watered!

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Just pretend that guy in the red shirt isn't there...2016-10-20_12-28-01 2016-10-20_12-30-38 2016-10-20_12-31-23 2016-10-20_12-46-24

After visiting the "castle" we had pizza at a local pizzeria before heading back to Cromwell.