Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grayson Hunter Hill

As some of you know, our close friends Dave and Christy had twin boys about four weeks ago. Last Sunday, their son Grayson passed away quite suddenly. His brother Carter is doing well in the NICU at Saddleback. Words can not express the absolute sorrow we feel for our friends, nor can I even imagine their pain. I'm writing this post simply because as I've shared this news with others, I've heard over and over of what they could do to help. Dave's brother has set up a memorial fund to help this young family and I just wanted to re-post the information for those who may have not seen it.

From Dave's brother Brandon:

"An account has been set up in Grayson's name if anyone would like to help this young family out (in lieu of flowers). You can send a check directly to the bank or you can send it to Brandon or David and Christy. You can also make a donation at any California Bank and Trust locations:

Grayson Hill Memorial Fund
California Bank and Trust - Corona office
200 South Main St, Suite 150
Corona, CA 92882

If you send it via mail directly to the bank IT MUST HAVE THE ACCOUNT NUMBER to ensure it goes to the proper place. If you are sending it to Brandon or David/Christy it can just say 'Grayson Hill Memorial Fund'."


If you would like to send anything directly to Dave or Christy please email me or Josh and we can get you the proper contact information.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Santa

We've never written Santa a letter, but Fin has been talking about doing it for a couple weeks now. Today I uncovered an old typewriter I'd forgotten about and Fin wanted to use it to write his letter to Santa. All the drawings are his (and all the more impressive when you realize he's using his left hand, and he's been right-handed). We addressed it and mailed it today.

It reads:

dear santa,
for christmas this year i would like a nerf gun. and parker would like a purple nerf gun with flowers on it. and parrots. i've been really good and parker has been really good too. can you bring mommy and daddy a picture of small world and thunder mountain. i would like a new pirate ship. and a book about water rides. and a skull tunnel for my train set.

griffin and parker and daddy and mommy

tammie would like a tiny bone and a bed and a chewy toy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Parker's Christmas Program!

Parker had her first ever performance today. She was so excited about the show all week. And she was really excited to wear her new "cinderella" skirt. When I dropped her off at class this morning she ran inside and exclaimed to her friend in a pink velvet dress, "Oh! I wuv your dress! Do you wike mine?!" and did a little twirl. I was a little nervous that she would panic, since she does not like the noise of crowds, especially clapping. And she is known to flee at too much attention. But she did wonderful! I think her love of singing and dancing trumped any nervousness she might have felt. She also really loves being a part of a class and following directions. Out of her whole class there were only one or two other kids who sang and did the hand movements like her. Her class is the youngest in the preschool, so that was to be expected, but I'm so proud of my baby girl.

Parker's Christmas Program 2009 from Lauren Kniep on Vimeo.

Our First Broken Bone

Since last Thursday our lives have been a whirlwind of activity, I feel like I haven't had time to think, let alone sit down and right about The Event.

When I pick up the kids from school, I grab Fin first and then we walk over to the preschool to get Parker (they both get out at 11:30). Last Thursday we did the same thing we always did, but Fin decided he needed to climb on the tiny picnic table they have. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. The tabletop itself is no more than two feet off the ground. He slid across the top, sat on the bench, and when he tried to stand up, somehow fell. A foot. But his arm snapped behind him and I immediately thought, oh my god, he just dislocated his elbow. It was at such a weird angle. He panicked, I panicked. I'm trying to hold him and stop him from trying to climb up on me. Meanwhile the director of the preschool ran over and got him to sit down and move his fingers and arm, which he did just fine. Chalking up his reaction to typical Fin behavior (he's not known for his pain tolerance, especially when its a skinned knee). I ran and got Parker and we headed home. He didn't want to move his arm, but he kept saying it was because of the scratch (he skinned the inside part of his arm). I fed him lunch, gave him some tylenol and put him down for a nap. He was still whimpering, but went down just fine. When he woke an hour later, his arm looked a little swollen. I went back and forth with Sarah and Josh and finally broke down and called the nurse's line, who suggested I bring him in. While we waited for the doctor Fin and Parker happily played with all the toys in the waiting room, Fin ran around with a dragon being chased by Parker and a unicorn. He didn't use his arm, but he was so happy I thought, oh man, they are just going to tell me he bruised it and send me home. I honestly almost left. But we got in, and the doctor sent us downstairs for x-rays. It took me almost ten minutes of cajoling, coaxing, and lying to get Fin up on that x-ray table. After the first one was done, he looked at me and said, oh. That's it? *sigh* We finally got the x-rays and ran upstairs to show the doctor. By this time is was after hours and I had to bang on the door to get someone to open it. No one told me anything at the x-ray place just handed me the x-rays and told me to "follow up with your doctor." As we waited for the doctor in the room, the nurse wrapped Fin's arm in an ace bandage and put it in a sling. Still at this point I'd was convinced they'd come in and say, oh he just bruised it, keep it wrapped for a few days and he'll be fine. So when the doctor came in and said, "Here's the card for the orthopedic surgeon, your appointment is tomorrow at ten and hopefully you can have the procedure that afternoon..." I must have looked dumbfounded, because she stopped mid-sentence and said, "Didn't they talk to you downstairs?" I said, "No! They told me to follow up with you." "Oh." She dropped her voice. "Umm, well it is broken. His elbow is dislocated and he has a small fracture on his humerus and the orthopedist says he'll need pins in it." My jaw just about hit the floor. "Pins?? Like he'll need surgery?" I hissed. "Yes." I glanced at Fin and saw him staring at me. I pulled myself together and forced my voice to be cheery. "Alright then."

I held it together till Josh showed up and I made the call to my parents. Just saying the words, surgery, pins, and fracture made me break down. If it was a matter of setting the bone and putting a cast on, I think I would have been fine. But the thought of surgery. Of anesthisia, of IV's and intubation and hospitals just threw me. We have been extremely lucky, our kids have never needed to be hospitalized for any reason. We went to CHOC hospital the next day, straight from the appointment with the orthopedist. We left our house at nine in the morning and did not get back till six that night. Fin was terrified of "going to sleep." I don't know if we made a mistake telling him that, but what could we do? Once we were in our room at CHOC though, he settled down a bit, thanks to their awesome staff and a Wii. He played tennis with one arm and played with the remote for the TV. It wasn't until they brought him some "liquid courage" that he broke down again. It took Josh and I almost ten minutes to get him to drink his medicine. And then they wheeled him away crying and trying to climb out of his bed. An hour later we were admitted to the recovery room where he was still coming out of the anesthesia. He was sobbing and tearing at his ivs and cords. He kept yelling, "I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep!" and then he'd fall back asleep. Seconds later the whole thing would repeat. I tried to hold him in my lap to keep him from thrashing. This continued for about twenty minutes, but it felt like four hours. Josh was only allowed to stay for ten minutes. I don't know how parents with truly sick kids do this. I can't imagine my child having to go through more than one surgery. I couldn't look in the eyes of the parents at that hospital with infants coming from surgeries in incubators, crying infants who they could only console with a pat on the back. We have been infinitely blessed with two healthy children and that is something I will never forget.

He's doing fine now. Running around, trying to climb on things, driving me crazy. This first week he's supposed to really try to keep it still. And about every forty seconds I have to tell him to STOP RUNNING, DON'T PUSH, YOU CAN'T CLIMB ON THAT, GET OFF THE STAIRS! When he sees someone who hasn't seen his cast yet, he holds it up, silently points to it with his other hand. Nonchalant and dramatic all at the same time. He proudly tells everyone that it glows in the dark. We've put pins on his sling, partly to hold his arm in better, and partly to make it more fun to wear. At my show this weekend he got two new pins. Someone commented on his pins and said, "Yeah. Got these two here. Had these ones." and shrugged, like no big deal, happens all the time...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fin's Matterhorn Birthday Party

While I'm catching up on stuff, thought I'd finally post these pictures of Fin's birthday party. Fin is still obsessed with the Matterhorn and Disneyland, so he of course wanted to have a Matterhorn birthday party. He asked me the day after we had spent some time at a nearby park where the kids rode their skateboards down a big grassy hill. That sparked the idea to have our party at the same park and "bobsled" down the hill, and the idea just snowballed from there (pardon the pun). We made brautwurst and hot dogs (and sauerkraut! but I think I'm the only one who ate that) :) I made a desert table with cupcakes, white candies, "snow monster" peeps and rock candy (just like the crystals inside the Matterhorn!). We decked out our wagon to look like the bobsleds and hung snowflakes from the trees and canopies. And for the piece de resistance Josh designed a photo cut-out for everyone to take pictures in (Fin loved these at the county fair over the summer). I downloaded all the music and messages from the ride, including the famous "Remain seated please, permanecer sentados, por favor!" and played it at the top of the hill. For activities we just brought all our wagons, sleds and ride-on toys for all the kids to go down the hill on. The kids had a blast going down the hill. Nanny even joined in the fun. I was a little worried that all the kids would just want to go play at the play structure around the corner, but once we started "sledding" no one asked to go. They totally forgot about it. After cupcakes and presents we all had a "snowball" fight (wadded-up paper and foam balls). And that was it! We couldn't get the kids off the hill long enough to make the "grow snow" I got. I loved the simplicity of the whole thing and everyone had a blast, the birthday boy especially. Doing birthday parties like this does require a lot of planning and a lot of help from family and friends, but in the end I love doing it (and am blessed to have some great co-planners in my sister and mother-in-law!)

Halloween (I know, I know, about a holiday season late)

So October was a little busy for us. Crazy busy actually. So busy that my house is still recovering as we near the end of November. So I'm going to try to cram in all our Halloween activities into one post. Better late than never, right? ;) In no particular order here's a few things to celebrate one of our favorite holidays:

Pumpkin City with Nanny! Pumpkin City is a pop-up pumpkin "patch" that turns up every year (Josh's first job was at Pumpkin City). There's a petting zoo, carnival games, rides and of course, pumpkins. The kids loved the rides and Parker just about died and went to heaven riding the ponies.

Josh and I attended a costume party at our neighbors. It was awesome to only have to take three steps to get back home. I couldn't stop leaping about and plie-ing all night.

One of our many Halloween projects, we made some pumpkins out of yarn. We also made ghosts out of napkins, and a ton of Halloween paintings.

We made gingerbread cookies at Nana and Grandpa's house. Instead of gingerbread men, we made "bonemen" and zombies. :)

Parker and Daddy did the the Daddy and Me pumpkin carving at her preschool. Everyone loved her pirate princess pumpkin that Daddy carved for her.

We also went to Auntie Sarah's annual pumpkin carving party at Gammie's house.

Parker and Gammie were ladybugs this year.

As was Tammie!

Fin's class also had a Halloween party. I wanted to help out and Fin's teacher said it was fine if Parker came, so she just made herself at home and participated in all the activities as if she was part of the class. Several of the parents thought she was part of the class till one got brave enough to ask how old she was! They paraded through all of the classrooms (his school goes up to eighth grade) and Parker did the whole thing (the parents did not go into the classes). She LOVES school.
Fin's whole class.
And finally, the main event! Trick or Treating! This year Fin was a discerning trick-or-treater, and would not knock on people's doors who did not have decorations up. "What about that house, their light is on?" "They don't eben have a pumpkin." he'd say witheringly.

Jessie and I whipped up Fin's costume from some cheap cargo pants and a woman's blouse from the thrift store. Jess sewed up the sides of the top so it'd fit better and then took the strings that formerly tied the arms and made the loops for the laces on top. He looked awesome. We made Parker's costume too, just sewed the felt wings onto a pink top, bought matching pants and crafted the headband. Both costumes together cost less than $15. LOVE handmade costumes!!

THE LOOT!! Supply is still going strong...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Fin: "I just want to be 29."
Me:"Daddy's that old. I'm not even 29 yet."
Fin: "Is that more than 100?"
Me:"No, its less."
Fin: "I want to be 100 then."
Me: "Well you'll have to take really good care of your body to live that long."
Fin: "Like what?"
Me: "Like eating lots of veggies and fruit and exercising and stuff like that."
Fin: "Well...I do walk a lot."

Parker comes and sits down at the top of the stairs, all dramatic sighs and sniffs (she should be sleeping). I relent and ask her what's wrong.
"Pippin just won't wet me read dis book to him! I just wanted to read dis to him"

I think all my DIY is rubbing off...
Fin:"Can people just live in houses right on the beach?"
Me: "Yeah, there are houses right on the beach. They cost a lot of money though"
Fin: "Well, we could just make one. Like out of sticks and stuff? Or maybe bricks? Is that a great idea?"

Parker hands me a pumpkin and says in a sing-song falsetto voice, "The princess is giving you a pumpkin!"
"Oh, thank you princess. What a nice pumpkin."
"Yes, she got it at the gas station for you!"

We're having lunch out when Fin nudges me and subtly points at the lanky man with salt and pepper hair eating at a table across from us.
"See the guy Mom?" he whispers, eyes wide with a huge grin.
I'm confused, "Yeah, why?"
"He's the guy! The one from the show? Who eats stuff?"
I stifle a giggle. "Oh yeah. Umm I don't think thats Anthony Bourdain, but he sure does look like him doesn't he?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You Think Your Boss Is Tough?

Parker woke up from nap with the strong urge to play with "mine tiny horsey." I told her to go ahead. And then she dropped this bomb. "I don't know where it is." Childless people of the world, you no nothing of the terror that sentence can instill in a parent's heart. Because they know exactly what they want to play with. And you don't. And they will always have ten different versions of what they want. And they will be over the house. And inevitably the one they want is the one wedged between the couch and the wall, completely invisible to the naked eye. Much crying will ensue. Let me illustrate how this works:

I grab the basket of "ponies"

Me: "Is it this one?"

Parker: "NO!"

Me: "Is it this one?! This one is tiny!"

Parker: "NO!"

Me: "Oh! Here, I found it! Its a pink one!"

Parker: *eyes are beginning to well up with tears* "Nooooo!!"

Me: "Okay, okay, we'll find it, don't worry! Lets look downstairs!"
Parker sniffs
Me: I rummage through approximately 152,658 tiny plastic toys "Is it this one??"

Parker: "nooooooooooo" the wailing has begun...


Parker: "ooooooooooooooonnnnnnnoooooooooo" wailing is escalating

Me: *tiny resigned voice* "Is it this one?"

Parker: HUGE SMILE "Yes! Dank you Mama! Mama, can you get me da barn?"
Me: "This one?"

Parker: "NO!"


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Fifth Birthday Fin!

I can not help but start with the cliche: I can not believe you are FIVE. Five. Wow. I remember what it felt like when you pushed against my ribs when I was pregnant. I can remember the smell of your bald newborn head. I can feel your tiny hand wrapped around my finger while you nursed. Waking to you stroking my face and the toothless grin when I opened my eyes. While I knew I was in love with your father the night we met, it was you that made us a family. It was you, and then your sister, that forged us together so strongly that I can't even imagine a life different than this.

I went back and read my old blog posts on your birthday and its striking to see how little you've really changed. Yes, you talk clearer, your vocabulary has grown, you can write and draw more confidently. But the very essence of you is essentially the same. Your love of roller coasters and the thrill of a good hill are still very much a part of you. They've morphed into an obsession with Disneyland. You eat, sleep, and dream Disneyland. You had a Matterhorn birthday party, we have to read books on Imagineers, you build miniature Disneyland's in the living room. You've decided you want to build rides for Disneyland when you grow up. And then on your break you'll ride the Matterhorn, because you "won't be hungwy at all." You are serious about your passion. When people call you, you politely answer questions and then interject, "Can we talk about Disneyland now?" You and your Papa have had long winded conversations on how the two of you can build a mini-Matterhorn for you to play with, and the ideas you come up with are amazing in their creativity and usefulness.

You still love scary stuff. You're thrilled its Halloween time again. I help out in your class when you go to the library, and you're teacher asked me, shocked, "He doesn't think thats too scary?" when you picked out a zombie book. I had to shrug and say, "He really loves scary stuff. I've tried to keep him away from it, but he loves it." You've never been really scared, never had a nightmare. I mentioned to your Nanny that I thought the scary stuff didn't affect you like other kids because you are so matter-of-fact. There's no telling you that something is real when its obviously not. "Are those REAL dinosaurs Fin?! I think they're real!" I exclaimed at the fair, pointing to the realistic animatronic dinos. You just shot me a withering stare and sighed, "Mooom. They are just robots."

You are heartbreakingly sensitive sometimes. You can not stand to be in trouble. When you do lash out at your sister and she cries, you immediately start crying yourself or start frantically apologizing and hugging her. Which in turn makes me feel awful (its not like you are harshly punished, at most we tell you to not *insert infraction here* and to apologize). In school yesterday you were asked to draw a picture of a telephone. I had my back to you, filing paperwork for the teacher, when I heard your teary voice say, "Mrs.Roranger I fink I have a problem!" You were frantic because you couldn't draw a perfect telephone. She showed the whole class and you settled down a bit, but snuffled for a while, breaking my heart into a hundred pieces. You are such a perfectionist already, but with two type-A perfectionist parents, there wasn't much hope for you. Its moments like that, that make me feel confident in our choice to wait one more year for kindergarten, even though I worry a bit that you will be bored. But I would rather you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, because that strength will only help you in the end. Whether you read at five or six matters little when it comes down to it.

We've started to read chapter books together, and I'm thrilled that you enjoy books as much as I do. Reading for me has always been one of my greatest pleasures, a way to escape, learn and grow. We've read some of my favorites, Roald Dahl, E.B. White. You loved Pippi Longstocking. Your Dad started reading Moby Dick to you last week, protesting that you had read all your long books and that you enjoyed it and said you couldn't wait till the guy fights the whale. You're equally enthralled with non-fiction, listening to pages and pages on dinosaurs, engineering (Disneyland) and spiders. I giggle writing Encylopedia Prehistorica on your reading logs, next to Scooby Doo and The Gingerbread Man. I hope your love of reading is something that stays with you throughout your life, and am determined to do my best by keeping you engaged.

You love music and have a pattern of becoming obsessed with a certain song and listening to it over and over and over. Which is pretty typical of your age I'm sure. What is not typical is that your songs of choice are by bands like Joy Division, Interpol, and obscure Swedish metal bands. I find it amazing that these songs are on in the background and you pick them up and fall in love with them, learning the beats, words, intonations, everything about it. You're so excited about your new headphones, its so cute to see you sit at the computer with the giant headphones on singing, "Wuuuv, wuuuv will tear us apart againnnn"

You are thoughtful and kind. On your birthday you let everyone help you open your presents, voluntarily offering up the chance to break the ribbon, or tear the paper to all your friends, even though you had talked about opening your presents all morning. You received a gift card and Disney Dollars for Disneyland, and when we went the next day you got the three things you've wanted all year. When we told you you still had money left over, you decided you'd rather buy Parker the baby doll she's wanted instead of buying yourself something. When we went to meet her after a ride, you were so excited to buy it secretly and surprise her. Every time she looks at it, she sighs and says, "Dank you Pippin, dank you." You two are still so close, playing and scheming together all day. I can't buy just one of you something, with out one of you demanding that the other needs something too (instead of the typical response, which would be for the one without a treat to demand something for themselves). You keep your eye out for your sister, if she lags just a bit, you frantically pull her and chastise her, scared to death she'll get lost. I've learned I can't say, "Fine, Parker, I'm leaving!" because it stresses you out so much. You get teary and panicky (all the while Parker still ignores me).

Every day you do something that makes me stop and think I'm the luckiest mom in the world. I love every single kiss you give me, love when you wrap your arms around me and sigh, "I wuv you Mom" or plead with me to snuggle with you just a little bit longer. I know you won't always want to snuggle with me, but I will always keep that feeling in my heart. We love you more than anything, happy birthday Boogs.