Sunday, January 31, 2010

Logan's 4th birthday

It's hard to believe that it's been 4 years since the day that Logan was born and our life changed instantly. I feel like at this point in motherhood, I've hit my stride. I'm not saying it's easy, but we're in a groove and even with the now 4-year old back talk (that drives me NUTS) we've got a pretty good handle on things.

It's about time because the last 4 years have been some of the most challenging, most rewarding, most mind-numbing, most fun years I've had in my life. A mixed bag for sure.

We celebrated Logan's birthday with a huge dinosaur-themed party with his friends. This was the first year that we organized games and activities and lunch, rather than just hosting a playtime with snacks and cupcakes. 4 year old's have "real" birthday parties. So, invitations were sent to 20 of his friends and their parents and siblings came along with. We hosted here at home and had close to 40 people in our house. I made cupcakes (the same vegan chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting that I always make for birthdays) with orange frosting because that's Logan's favorite color, then we ordered about 10 pizzas and had both a fruit and vegetable tray.

Everyone hung around for a while eating lunch and chatting. We're lucky that even though it was a full house, we have enough room to host such a big party without everyone stepping on each other. There were people in the front room, people in the living room, people in the kitchen and people in the playroom. It was full and fun!

After we ate, we all gathered in the playroom for a few games. Because this was a dinosaur-themed party, we had a dino dig. Ideally, this would have been done outside in the sand, digging for fossils. But, it's winter, it's cold and snowy and going outside was not an option. I filled Easter eggs with miniature dinosaurs that I found at a party store and put them in an inflatable baby pool and covered them with balls from the ball pit we have. The kids thought it was a blast to jump in and dig for eggs, then announce what dinosaurs they found.

While the kids were patiently waiting for their turn, we had an art corner (that the kids had been at the whole time at the party) where they could color their own T-Rex cut out. The girls especially liked this activity.

Lastly, we had a pinata. We never found a dinosaur pinata, but Logan had his heart set on getting one, so he picked out a Spider Man pinata. He really wanted this Spider Man pinata, claiming that Spider Man is cool because he goes to the bank to wrestle with bad guys. I gasped at the $20 cost of a dumb pinata to which Logan repeated back to Bill later that day, "Dad, we got a Spider Man pinata! It's $20!"

Filled with miniature candy bars, the kids took turns pulling the strings on the pinata to open the trap door (which is much better than handing a bat to a bunch of riled-up 4 year olds). Logan got to go first and it took about 3 or 5 kids to finally get it pulled open with candy falling on top of their heads. They loved it.

After the short sugar rush, we all went into the kitchen where we sang happy birthday to Logan. It was a moving moment for me to hear because there were so many people. I felt so fortunate to have so many friends celebrate Logan's birthday with us. All of these friends have been a part of our lives for years since we've moved to our town, seeing them many times a week - at playgroups, preschool, and around town at activities.

Even though we weren't planning on it, Logan opened his presents at the party. I think we all think that's the most boring part about a kids' party - but I couldn't be the party Nazi and tell him "No, you can't open your presents." Lame-o mom, I would be. He opened presents that were super cool dinosaur books, awesome cars, and everything a 4 year old boy would love. Afterward, Logan and Carter played with them all together. So cute!

All of the kids left with gift "buckets" - small sandbox pails with shovels (for digging for dinosaurs), a growing dinosaur that increases in size when soaking in water, and a wooden dinosaur puzzle or maze that they can color and it will last longer than other cheap gift bag items. And tons of candy from the pinata too.

The party was a smashing success and not nearly as crazy as I thought it would be. I told Bill that I hope it's a birthday that Logan remembers, not because I was up cleaning the house until 1am the night before, or spending so much time putting it all together - but I hoped he remembered it because it was fun. It was happy. It was awesome.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Where our life was different for a month and could have been different forever

These weeks in January had us living our lives differently more than any other time before. Bill's official title at work is "Business Development Executive" and this title comes with business trips. In the last year he would go to places in the US - New York, California, sometimes somewhere up in Canada and I think Mexico once. These trips are typically short, a few days, never more than five and they are sporadic, having him away every few months or so.

January, however, left us separated for almost the entire month. This was by far the longest he had ever been away and the farthest he's ever traveled. He handles their International accounts, so after a week in Vegas, he was off to London, Oslo, Frankfurt, Hoegaarden and Brussels.

Being used to business trips, I knew I'd be able to handle things on my own here at home. With our busy schedule, we'd continue our days of preschool, playgroups, activities and training at the gym. I have an amazing group of friends and network here, so I really wouldn't be on my own all the time.

Logan, being older, understood more than ever what a business trip was and handled it very well. He was interested in all of the places around the world and was curious about the countries his Dad was visiting. So, we bought a large wall map and every day that Bill was in a new country, we put a tack on the map. He actually started to name the cities Bill was in. While Logan talked about missing his Dad and wished for him to be home, understanding where he was made the month so easy and exciting for him.

Not only did Logan have a chance to learn a bit about geography to help him during this time away, but we skyped with Bill as often as we could when we found a moment in the afternoon (which was late at night on his side of the world). The boys both thought this was hysterical, Logan dancing around and Carter waving excitedly. It was cute.

After three days of Bill being away, it started to get old. The kids were great, no massive tantrums or acting out because of the change. They were as perfect as they could be. And Logan? He had some kind of attitude adjustment, being considerate, listening to directions and mostly agreeable, more than he's ever been in his life. It was awesome. But still, it wasn't the same with Bill gone.

And then halfway through the month, the kids got sick and we had to stay at home for days. Logan missed a day of school, Carter missed playgroup, we missed a birthday party, training at the gym and all of the activities we had planned. The total isolation along with the unrelenting effort of being on my own caused me to breakdown in tears all day last Saturday. Carter was missing his Dad as well, clearly upset as he walked around the house pointing to all of the family pictures we have on the walls and then pointing to the front door, wishing his Dad would come home. This broke my heart. It only made me cry more that day. We also had a quick moment to talk with Bill on skype on this day, which ended up being a terrible idea. I just sobbed, Carter cried and Bill talked to Logan about giving me more hugs when I was upset. It was a mess.

The next day my lovely, lifesaving friends came to my rescue. We had a play date in the morning where the boys had a great time playing, Logan chatting up a storm since he had been stuck inside too and a chance to get some adult conversation for me as well. Another friend offered to watch the boys for a few hours later that afternoon while I got a break and had some time to myself. I walked around the mall with a coffee in hand and a moment to breath. This recharged my batteries, leaving me feeling like a brand new person the next day and able to keep on single parenting for another week without feeling so dragged down.

Near the end of Bill's trip he let me know that there was a possibility (a very real chance) that we might be Cork, Ireland. His company is beginning to move Internationally and will build and office there this year as well as in China. I thought about moving the kids to a new country halfway around the world, away from all of our friends, our support system, my work as a food writer and everything that we have built in the years we've lived in our town. We have it made here and life is wonderful. It made my stomach drop to think about leaving it all, but on the flip side, it would be a great adventure and we'd be away from the in-laws (which would be the BEST OUTCOME EVER).

After almost 20 days away, Bill came home late Wednesday night. In the 10 plus years we've been married, I'd never been so excited to see him. It was similar to the feelings we had while dating. I missed him so much and our family just didn't feel right being split like we were for so long. The boys were in bed when he got home and the hugs and kisses after he walked through the door were surreal. Tired from being up for 24 hours due to meetings and traveling back to the US, still, one of the first things he talked about was our potential move to Ireland.

After much though on his travels away, he withdrew his name from the opportunity. It was shocking to me considering the fact that I had been mentally preparing myself for this big change, a huge upheaval for our family, when it sounded like it was almost certain. The next morning at work, they had meetings about the next steps to take Internationally and made the decision on who would move to Ireland since it wasn't us.

Our lives were very different for many weeks this month, giving us a chance to think about many things (and believe me, there will be a lengthy post about our marriage). Our family was this close to being turned upside down and all around. An interesting January, for sure. The rest of the remaining weeks we get back to normal, but now it's the beginning of a new normal. A better normal.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What's up, Buttercup?

Ooooo, boy! Do I have a lot to write about. There are quite a few newsworthy posts lined up, but unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to write about them yet. Sad, isn't it!? After weeks (months) of being too busy to really write on here or lacking the motivation to come up with something readable, now I have BIG NEWS and have to keep my mouth shut. Next week, my friends, next week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starting 2010 with the Plague

I had all of these fantastic plans for New Year's Eve, New Year's Day; goals to work on in January and even try to get back to my regular posting schedule here. And you know what happened? Since the night of December 29th, I've been fighting a slow death from every germ possible. The flu, a sinus infection, pink-eye (which the boys had too), an upper-respiratory infection, an ear infection, exacerbation of my asthma and a sore throat with lymph-nodes bigger than Texas. For days I lost my sense of smell and taste. Basically, it feels like I had the Plague.

The worst of it happened around the end of December. I missed a New Year's Eve party that I had been looking forward to. I stayed home and attempted recovery before Bill left on a business trip. I slowly got better, taking two steps forward only to take two steps back the next day. It's been relentless. When Bill was in Vegas for a convention, I held down the fort and pretended that I was healthy. It's like trying to type with a few fingers missing. Sure, you can do it, but it's definitely "off".

I keep thinking I'm in the clear and that the next day is going to be better. I am SO BEHIND in my work, unable to eat at restaurants for reviews, too sick to get advertising contracts renewed, and so forth. It's been rough being a work-at-home mom being the only person who takes care of business and kids while sick. There is nobody to call to take over. Nobody to cover a shift, no sub to come and take care of the kids. Just keep on keepin' on. Which is why I'm probably still a little sick.

So, the end of year review that I write on the 30th of December or the 1st of January? Yeah, that's getting published mid-month. I just hope I get caught up before Logan's birthday at the end of the month!