Monday, December 29, 2008

We're sick!

The girls are sick, at least, all three of them in some way or fashion.

The boys are doing just fine, somehow. But Colleen has thrown up somewhere approaching a half-dozen times today. Cate is fatigued and aching and has been asleep (more or less) since 5 p.m., but hasn't thrown up, while Elizabeth seems to be treading the middle ground. She ate dinner, at least a little, kept it all down, and was tired but not aching.

Colleen is the biggest puzzler. She is cheery as can be. At this writing it's been almost two hours since she threw up dinner, thankfully, and while she's not sleeping she's perfectly content to be lying in the bed next to Cate while Cate rests. I turned the radio on low so she has something else going on in the room. She has been down to meet us several times during the evening, including two trips to the basement to sneak herself some ginger ale. She got the can but couldn't open it. (I'm feeling adventuresome and opened a can for her since she's held the water down for 90 minutes.)

Cate is due for more Tylenol soon. All three are varying levels of feverish.

Now, Robert has been a trooper. He was basically ignored all evening and got his pajamas on and into bed by himself. He didn't even come looking for a bedtime story, though I did stop by and read one with him while I was up checking on the hospital ward.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After the football

This was the first Saturday not consumed by Division III football since we moved here and it was kind of nice to be somewhat normal for once. Defining normal:

I got out of bed first (a rarity) and m
ade breakfast (slightly less rare, but still pretty infrequent these days). Made sure Robert and Colleen got dressed. Since Mom offered us a trip to the movies (subtle request to get out of the house?!), we were pushing to get the rest of the day in order. I wanted to get the Christmas cards that had been completed in the mail so they could be in people's hands in a few days, and that meant a trip to the post office in St. Louis Park (Edina's is consistently one day slower.)

I asked Cate if she needed anything for her baking today and she did, so I added Byerly's to my to-do list. I got Robert ready to go and Colleen started putting her shoes and coat on, too. I figured, what the heck, and finished getting her ready to go and took her with me, too.

Got home with the orange juice and such and it was pretty close to time to go to the movies. While Cate and Elizabeth got ready I salted and sanded the sidewalks, because they're pretty icy to say the least.

Went to the movie. (Tales of Desperau. Elizabeth liked it because it was very faithful to Kate DiCamillo's book, but ehh, kind of a bland storyline.) We noticed they do a free refill on large soda and popcorn.

The stove is still out from Christmas Day -- one of the burners refused to turn off so we had to have the gas to the unit turned off. They won't be out to look at it until Monday. So Cate was luckily able to borrow a stove (and a kitchen) from friends and get her baking done for tomorrow's Christmas party.

She kept Elizabeth and I brought Robert and Colleen home for the rest of the afternoon. Among some other mundane stuff, we set up the Wii and Robert showed me he remembered a fair amount from when we played with the Wii at the Krugers back in August.

Unfortunately, when bedtime, I had to play the bad guy and told the older two it was time to turn off the Wii. Made sure Colleen was in her pajamas.

And then bedtime. Well, except I'm still up. Can't sleep. Too much stuff running through my head, I think.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Colemans

All in all, it was a pretty good Christmas round these parts. We're all here, all doing well.

Last night we had dinner at my cousin Chris' house, with many, many people we'd never met and a handful of people we had. The kids had fun playing with their Miller cousins, and everyone marveled at the cookies that Cate made. She's been baking up a storm the past few weeks, first for a choir bake sale and secondly for, well, this. I've had trouble keeping away from them, to be honest. Stupid cookies!

Elizabeth was up late with Cate finishing up a project -- a gift for Amelia, their favorite cousin -- even after I got home from Midnight Mass. Of course, Midnight Mass was at 10 p.m. We didn't have anything that required assembly this year, but a lot of gifts to wrap, and I had a lot of those on my plate this year. So for those of you who got inexpertly wrapped presents ... uhh, sorry.

This morning nobody came into the bedroom before 7 a.m. and we actually didn't unwrap a thing before 9. (Thanks, Cate, for the extra hour or so of sleep.) Presents were opened in shifts today: the ones we exchanged with the kids and from Cate's mom and our friends were opened before we all went to church this morning, and the ones with the rest of the family weren't opened until after dinner.

Oh, dinner. Wow. Dinner was a Neil creation, primarily, with the rest of us contributing items or hands. But he roasted the beef tenderloin with a nice dijon mustard sauce and also grilled scallops for the non-beef set. I'll have you know Cate tried a scallop and liked it enough that she ate another as well (remember seafood is still new to her), though we were not able to convince Elizabeth to expand her palate as well.

Elizabeth reports, not surprisingly, that opening presents was her favorite part of the day. (She's just woken up and can't get back to sleep, so I solicited her input.) She likes the new fleece blanket that Nonna made. Each of the kids got one, and in fact, the other two are sleeping underneath them as I write.

Surprised Elizabeth didn't mention the Wii, but then again, she's a down-to-earth kind of girl. And the Wii was the last thing they opened. We can thank Cate's mom and sister for that one. I actually am interested to see what one of these darned contraptions is all about, but have barely used one. We'll get it set up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One night stand

I’m working in my old Northern Virginia Verizon office for a day, en route to southwestern Virginia to cover the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for, and instead of making Verizon or pick up a hotel room for the night, I decided to spend the night at 406.

And it feels pretty weird.

I have been fairly worried lately about the house. We took it off the market in mid-October because nobody was buying houses anywhere. Thanks, economy. Well, since then, there hasn’t been nearly as much traffic around it, from either our realtor or our friends who might check in on it on occasion. So I was trying to prepare myself for the worst.

And it turns out the worst was unnecessary. The house is actually in fine shape. Looks like we left it. Or like I picture we left it. I’m amazed, after walking through it now, how much we actually got done, and a lot of it in the final weeks.

Plus, for some reason, there's this extra detail work done on the stairs we didn't know about.

Not much to nitpick right now, either. The fridge was plugged in, which seems like a waste if nobody’s looking at the house. At least one of us will be back in the D.C. area in January before we put the house back up for sale, so it can be plugged back in then. And the thermostat was set 10 degrees higher than we asked. No wonder the electric bill last month was so high. And the grass needs to be cut and the leaves raked. I will try to take care of the leaves on Sunday, if the weather cooperates … and if we still have a rake here, come to think of it.

There’s a box of canned food that was supposed to go to a food bank. Nothing I can eat tonight or really for lunch tomorrow, though there’s a can of soup I would be interested in -- if I could only open it.

Of course, the telephone was disconnected months ago. There’s no Internet and nobody to steal from. Our next-door neighbors appear to have abandoned their house. Not sure if they’re in foreclosure or what, but a month or so before we left, they bought a massive Yukon Denali. (I prefer the anagram Denial.) Remember what gas cost this summer? Then the week we left I was talking to one of the people who lived in the house and they said they were going to have to move because they couldn’t afford the mortgage.

But hey, they had a nice new vehicle.

We have little to nothing here in the way of furniture. I brought a towel so I could shower in the morning. The washer and dryer are still here, of course.

And, thankfully, so is the couch. Night, everyone.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh the Blessed Competition

Shall I set the scene? Three kids in the back seat. One worn-out driver/mom. All slightly irritated. Colleen sings and nearly starts a riot...

"Oh the Blessed Gospel,
Oh the Blessed Gospel,
It shall be mine.
I will labor for it.
I will labor for it.
It shall be mine"

Robert picks up the tune and when he gets to "it shall be mine" Colleen shouts "No, Robert! It shall be MINE." Elizabeth can't let that go, of course, and starts to sing "it shall be mine." Robert: "No! Mine." Colleen: "No! It shall be mine!" And so on and so forth.

Mom: "Urgh!"

Yikes. Good thing they were all strapped down and couldn't do damage to each other.

On the plus side, the kids are really getting settled into the St. Thomas the Apostle community. Robert will be in the Christmas pageant and is waiting patiently until he can join the Children's Choir (has to be in second grade).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The masters

Elizabeth and Robert both came home from Chess Club on Friday afternoon a little deflated. Neither of them won a game and Robert didn't even want to talk about it. (Of course, he's playing against second and third graders.)

Elizabeth and I have played a couple games of chess in the evenings since they started playing at school, but it's been a while. Da took up the challenge and has given Elizabeth a couple of practice games this weekend.

It's a learning experience for Elizabeth, who is having trouble keeping her pieces on the board. I came in to help her out late in a game on Friday night and I stressed with her the importance of playing it out a move or two ahead. I wasn't around on Saturday night but Da reports that Elizabeth made him work for his checkmate. So hopefully this Friday will go a little better for her.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It was a happy holiday

I had planned about waxing much more poetic about Thanksgiving but time never really developed for me to do that. So I'll just scale it back and say we had a wonderful time at our first Thanksgiving in Minneapolis since 2003. I had grown to accept turkey day with Cate's family in Pennsylvania, and at times possibly even enjoyed it, but it just wasn't the same.

Mom entertained 33 people, Neil made great gravy, the kids had a great time with their cousins and kids of family friends and the like. I don't remember specifics of getting the food on the table from previous years but it seemed like with three grown sons things got a lot easier.

Mom may disagree, who knows.

Plus, we survived a mix of family that could well have been fraught with disaster.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, two types of gravy, stuffing, Mama Stamberg's cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, wild rice, more pies than you could shake a fork at ... and a professional, or at least experienced meat carver. (Bob, at right, who is not related. Nor is mom's friend Nancy.)

There were two kids' tables, delineated by age, with the littlest ones by themselves. Somehow that didn't turn out to be a disaster. Elizabeth got to sit with cousin Matt's two younger kids, who are in the 10 and 12 range, and a neighbor who is her age as well. I'm sure that was an interesting conversation. The photo above shows only the grown-up table.