Monday, January 24, 2011

Kenyon+Croup=Sleepy Mama

On Thursday, we put a healthy Kenyon to bed and woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of him with a distinctive barking cough that seasoned parents know all too well--ahh yes, my old friend, croup.  Fever, barking cough like a seal (although in Kenyon's opinion, he sounded like a goose), and slightly labored, wheezy breathing--the no-fail recipe for many nights of interrupted sleep for this sleep-loving mama.

After three kids, I'm fairly hardened to any minor ailments the kids may get, and we're certainly not into co-sleeping in this family for any child past the ripe-old age of two months.  I guess we could argue that the boys co-sleep because they're all in the same room, but the point is that they're not with us.  Because 'us', especially 'me', needs sleep.

That being said, I'm a bit more sensitive to any sort of larger respiratory illness.  We're doing the usual: humidifier positioned so the moistened air falls in a perfect arc over his bed, medicine for the fever, and I check on him a couple of times in the night when I hear him coughing and everything.  But inevitably when my child has an illness like this I find myself in this scenario--I stir slightly and realize it has been a few hours since I last checked on him.  He hasn't made a peep.  I start to go back to sleep but of course imagine him in there struggling to breathe or some other impossibly horrible concoction of terror that only moms have the power to bring forth from their imagination (and I say this because Sam is undoubtedly sleeping like a baby, blissfully unaware).  By this point, my blood pressure is considerably higher and there's no way in hell I'm going to be able to go back to sleep until I get out of bed and check on him.  This can't be just my craziness, right?  Tell me you go through the same thought process...

So the past few nights, he has woken up feeling really crummy around 4am and has crawled in bed with us; I've let him just so I can make sure his little body isn't working too hard to breathe.  And he is pretty darn cute to sleep next to, even though he manages to defeat the laws of volume and mass to take up 72% of a king-size bed with his 2-year old self.

Croup is a weird illness, with the nights being so much worse than the days.  By morning, Kenyon is reasonably chipper but still makes a point of saying that he 'still has those bad coughs'.  And his appetite hasn't been up to par, which is the most significant, because Kenyon doesn't miss a meal.  Evidence: his round, stout body, and this recent conversation about what he does at his Montessori school...
Me:  "Kenyon, tell me what works you've been doing in Primaries!"
Kenyon: "The grape work."
Me: "What do you do with the grape work?"
Kenyon: "I wash grapes, and I eat them."
Me: "Oh!  Tell me about another work you do."
Kenyon: "The apple work."
Me: "Cool; and what do you do with the apple work?"
Kenyon: "I wash an apple, I cut it into pieces, and I eat it."
Me: "Do you do any other works?"
Kenyon: "No."
Me (thinking to myself): We're paying a grand a month so my kid can eat an apple and some grapes???

Even when he does start feeling better, I'm sure he'll milk it as long as possible, because he's got two doting brothers who have been waiting on him hand and foot, bringing down his blanket, his Sheepie, and reading to him.
giving Alex a high-five in exchange for his Sheepie
Watch out Derek Zoolander--even croup can't get in the way of his "Blue Steel"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mini-Outing, Bad Mood Style

We planned on going cross-country skiing or hiking during the 3-day weekend, but grey skies have made me a little gun-shy since our New Year's experience. After morning nap #1 (for Sam, who always gets up with Kenyon, bless him) and morning nap #2 (for me), we dragged our lazy butts out of the house to explore the Confluence Park area near downtown.  Sam and I have fond memories of bringing then-infant Jackson and our then-weimaraner, Winston, to run around off-leash at this park.  I use the term 'fond' loosely, because wily Winston somehow had a knack of knowing when it was time to leave, at which time he would commence his favorite game of Stay Within a 10-ft. Radius Of My Owner, Barking and Jumping Around But Not Coming Close Enough to Be Caught.  You haven't seen amusing until you've seen Sam at his wits' end, trying to tackle an obstinate, leggy grey dog. :)  We miss you, little Win (or at least, I do).

Confluence Park marks the spot where William Greeneberry Russell first found gold in the area in 1858; this discovery led to the founding of Denver.  Thank you, Bill!  It's a great area, with the Platte River running through it, and right near the amazing REI flagship store.  Kayakers, runners, walkers, bikers...and unfortunately, a decent number of vagrants, can all be seen using the area.  It's definitely a place where you feel more comfortable with other people around, but it's also convenient that we've got a spot to explore with a river, less than two miles from our house.  On lazy days like this, it's the perfect spot to get out and about for a bit.

 Despite their appearances, they are not in the Witness Protection Program.
 Kenyon enjoyed seeing the ducks and throwing rocks into the river.
 Jackson found a rock he thought was beautiful.
I have to admit, I felt a little disgruntled--it may have been that I didn't treat myself with what has unfortunately become a near-daily Peppermint Mocha from a coffee shop that I won't name but that rhymes with Schmarbucks.  Part of it is for a different post about parenting (and wife-ing) that I don't have the energy to write about now, but I feel it building.  And most of it had to do with the major, major bummer of a letdown of what I alluded to at the end of my Christmas post being thisclose to coming true, and then it being turned down.  I've got a bit of a cloud hanging over me, a what could have been cloud, a little bit like I was just dumped by someone when I already had multiple notebook pages with rows of my first name and his last name written out in swirly cursive letters, all surrounded by rainbows and stars.  And yes, I know that's an odd way of talking about your brother, your sister-in-law, and your niece and nephew.

I never knew how much I wanted family in town until it almost happened.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Curse of the Family Tradition

I would be remiss if I didn't blog about our 3rd Annual Tunheim Family New Year's Day Hike (and for those of you who are dying to hear about years 1 and 2, click here).  See, we figure it's a nice way to start the year with some good old-fashioned family togetherness, getting out and enjoying this beautiful state we have the privilege of living in.  And I also figure our years are numbered before the kids find us waaaayyyyy too lame to bother spending time with, especially out in public.

For the last two years, the weather has been awesome.  Who can beat sunny skies, even if there's some snow on the ground?  This year, as New Year's Day approached, the unseasonably warm temperatures that we'd been enjoying also decided to take a hike.

Since we knew the conditions would be a little snowier than our previous years, we decided to embrace the snow and go cross-country skiing.  The boys had never been, and we'd only been once (Sam fell...a lot).  There were snowy landscapes galore, but my eyes were fixated more on this little number that appeared in the temperature gauge of our trusty minivan: 

Um......ok, that's not usually a temperature I see when I'm planning on doing an outdoor activity.  Mr. Weather, you must have forgotten that I grew up in MIAMI.  Where that zero usually has at least a 9 marching merrily (albeit sweatily) along in front of it.  Now, I'm not saying that I prefer the weather in Miami at all; I spend much of my time talking about how the weather in Colorado is the best the country has to offer.  But

Then I saw this:
Nope, dear reader, sorry to dash your desperate hopes of the weather getting warmer.  There's a little minus sign in front of that 4.  At this point I'm cursing myself for ever starting a dumb family tradition of hiking on New Year's Day.  That's just crazy talk.  Why couldn't I have started a family tradition of staying in our pajamas, watching cartoons, and drinking hot cocoa??

And from there, things went from bad to worse...or more accurately, from frigid to arctic.  As we made our way over Berthoud Pass, I saw this:

hahahahahahaha.  Well, you can either laugh or cry, right?  I may have done both.  We rolled into Snow Mountain Ranch, a 5,000 acre YMCA property out near Granby, and attempted to not turn into popsicles as we checked in.

The weather was so $*!#@(^# cold that the guy who was assigned to giving the free cross-country lessons was NOT happy that my two older boys were brave enough (or that their parents were cruel enough) to spend time outdoors.  I have never been in weather like that, where it was utterly unbearable simply going from the car into a building.  But gosh darnit, they were free lessons and we were going to take advantage of them!  The boys were amazing troopers--I watched from a 5-foot proximity of the fireplace as they skied up and down on on the practice trail, falling often but popping right back up and skiing some more.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the rec center building, roller skating and playing hockey.
Thanks to the many hours spent playing hockey in our driveway,
the boys had no problem keeping up with much older kids
Kenyon also knows his way around a hockey stick
Roller Skating Kenyon

Now, I'd like to think that I'm not terribly snobby, but I very much prefer to stay in hotels that don't have the YHB (Yucky Hotel Blanket).  I wasn't expecting the Four Seasons--for $149 a night, we had a room, free breakfast, and access to all the property has to offer--snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (including free lessons for the kids!), archery, hockey, roller skating, basketball, ice skating, craft studio, rock climbing wall).  But we did have the yucky hotel blanket (which I immediately folded down to the edge of the bed and instructed the kids to stay away from), and when we pulled out the foldout couch for Jackson, it was apparent that the sheets had not been changed--it may have been the dirty sock in the rumpled sheets that clued me in.  They came and changed the sheets, but I was fairly obsessed with the possibility of contracting bed bugs the whole night.
Kenyon enjoying the not-so-luxurious accomodations
The next morning, the weather was mercifully warmer--not above zero, mind you...but warmer.  Blue skies go a long way for giving the appearance of warmth as well, and it really was a gorgeous day.  Kenyon, our stoutest and heartiest child, won the lottery by being too young to get out on skis and instead was bundled up in blankets and rode in a pulk (a sled, for those of you not hip to ski lingo) pulled by Sam.
Kenyon preparing to travel in style
It was a beautiful day...and despite all the agonizing about the weather, I really did have fun.  And so did everyone else--we are all looking forward to another cross-country ski experience soon.  The boys are so capable and willing to tackle new challenges, and it makes me excited to go on more adventures, experiencing all life has to offer, together as a family.

sigh...maybe this was a good tradition to start after all...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Confession, and A Birthday to Remember

The last month has been a blur, as the holiday season always is for mothers, and especially when you are a mother to a child with a December birthday.  For the first couple of weeks of December, I was very much still in recovery mode from my horrible skin affliction, and in my weakened state, I did something that I am very much ashamed of.


I celebrated Alex's 6th birthday at Chuck E Cheese, in all its middle America, plastic, and Made in China glory.   


I fully support your decision to unfollow me, delete me, unfriend me, or use any other tool of social media to denounce me as a result of this embarrassing deed.  Of course, all the kids loved every minute of it, from the electronic games, the winning tickets, and the redeeming tickets for...put simply, a bunch of crap.

One of the highlights of being a birthday kid was participating in the 'Ticket Blaster' experience, where you get one minute inside a special wind-tunnel booth to grab as many tickets as you can as they blow around you.  Some of them are mega-tickets, worth 50, 100, or 500 tickets.  Alex, being the wily kid he is, craftily bent down and shoveled a hearty handful of the mega tickets that were still on the ground as the measly single tickets floated around him.  He amassed well over 1000 tickets this way and was able to redeem them for the veritable Holy Grail of Chuck E Cheese prizes--a gumball machine (made of plastic, of course).

Aside from my snobbish aversion to the Chuck E Cheese experience, it just really isn't a good place for a birthday party.  The individual nature of the games means that the kids are all milling about and playing, but not really interacting with each other at all.  The formulaic method the Chuck E Cheese strategists have set up to get the most bang for their party buck is to line up eight or so long tables and hold multiple parties simultaneously (even down to all singing Happy Birthday to multiple birthday kids at the same time) makes for a very impersonal experience.  Again, all of this was lost on Alex, who seemed to have a ball wearing his inflatable crown decorated with tokens.  I know, I know--the point of a birthday party is for the kid to have a good time, so mission accomplished.  But mark my words, there will not be another Tunheim child celebrating his birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.  I can already foresee the time spent on a therapist's couch as a result, but that's just the way it's going to be.

taken from the wall at his school--he could be
Sam in this picture; I love it.  And I love him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas 2010 in Pictures

I'm a bit late on this one, but it's been an action-packed month, so I'm actually quite impressed with myself that I'm posting these pictures before budding green leaves begin their merry sprouting on trees around town.  We had the good fortune of a) not traveling for Christmas this year and b) having my brother and his family come out for the holiday (and my parents for a few days as well).  One might think that houseguests for 13 days (and a total of 5 children amongst us) would not necessarily be considered good fortune, but in all honesty, it was fantastic.  Here are some of the highlights; briefly narrated but I'll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves.  As per usual, I tend to heavily prefer black and white, and have only used color to show the amazing blue skies we get in Denver or to show the wonder of my niece's pink accoutrements that I am not normally accustomed to seeing.  Warning to mothers of only boys--prepare your eyes now before you scroll down to the section on Christmas Day!

We spent the first few days enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures, eating/drinking at our awesome neighborhood hangout, Vine St. Pub.  Sam and the kids built a stick sculpture out front; 6-year old Lexie immersed herself in the activity for hours.

Tyler and Lexie looking very official in
 their winter gear
After staying for a few days, Matt, Bodia, and his two kids got a good dose of winter as they left the balmy temps in Denver and headed to visit friends in Pagosa Springs.  The kids had never seen snow before--a day earlier, Bodia excitedly pointed out the window at our house to show them frost on the ground.  Frost.  When you live in Florida, any hint of a change in season is thrilling.  In Pagosa Springs, they snowshoed and sledded before heading home a day early to avoid being stranded by the epic snowstorm hitting the mountains.

Family Snowshoeing Snuggle

Yes, it's a miracle--they DO make
snowshoes in size 16!

Matt and Bodia
They arrived snowy and tired from a long day's drive home, and we had the perfect antidote--another meal at Vine St. Pub! We had another day before Nana and Papa arrived, and the cousins got to spend more time together.  At first, Kenyon, the youngest cousin at 2 years old, was quite taken with bullying his cousin Ty, two years his senior.  With an older sister who loves pink and prefers names like 'Sparkle' and 'Rainbow', he wasn't quite used to the rough and tumble kind of atmosphere that comes with three boys in one household.  He quickly got a thicker skin, and I really was continually amazed at how well everyone got along. 

 And then Christmas was upon us; here are a number of pictures of the festivities.

The boys in their matching Star Wars
 jammies, and Lexie decked out in pink fluff

The cousins testing out their swords and shields
Nana and Papa brought back from Lisbon

Lexie in her pink jammies, pink slippers, holding up her Barbie, with her pink scooter at her feet :)

Both Sam's family and my family do a traditional English Christmas dinner, so we all worked together to make the prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, salad, and pies for dessert.

You'd think I would have dressed up
a little more...what's up with the tank top??

Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, we managed to go on a couple of great hikes.  Mt. Evans State Wildlife Area had a great frozen river to explore...

We also hiked around Red Rocks...

It was a fun-filled holiday season spent with people I love--what more could I ask for?  Well, I wish my brother lived here, so we wouldn't have to wait until holidays for our families to get together...could this be a foreshadowing of future events??  Only time will tell... :)