Friday, July 17, 2009

Bye Bye Jackson

My family's (arguably) most beloved dog, Jackson, died suddenly on Wednesday. He happened to be at my house, and spent a lovely morning outside playing with our two willing playmates and chewing a bone while they played in the sandbox. Then one minute he was sneaking the dropped mac n cheese noodles from under their picnic table as we lunched, and the next minute, he fell over in what looked like a seizure or stroke to me. After about 20 minutes (and much internal panicking on my part), he got back up and seemed fatigued, but fine. Later that afternoon Mom decided she should come get him and watch him overnight, and while she was on her way, he dropped over and had another seizure-like thing, after which he never really regained cognition. He wasn't unconscious, but was unresponsive, to be sure. Mom and Dad took him to a vet who felt a tumor in his belly and heard his lungs full of fluid - and while they were waiting for x-rays to develop, he died on the doctor's table, presumably that the tumor had burst. Quite a shock for all of us, since he never once (even up to the last few hours) had seemed anything other than healthy and happy. As my Uncle Bob put it, Jack woke up every day thinking "Wow! Today is going to be the best day ever!" - and his absence will be acutely noted in our family for quite awhile. I'm not sure if there was ever a more beloved Golden. He was so calm, so fun and easygoing, so gentle - Claire would often pull herself to stand while holding his coat, and Gabe always wanted him to sleep in his room whenever Jack was here overnight. He was the epitome of what you want in a family dog, and we will likely look a long time before we are able to fill his shoes with some new paws.

This was the first time we had to explain death to Gabe - when we put our dog Paddington to sleep a few months ago, we just told him that P's wouldn't be living with us anymore because he bit Daddy. That situation was more complicated, since he wasn't outwardly sick, and we weren't sure where to start and stop with making sense of it for a 3-year-old. This time, though, Jack got sick right in front of his eyes, and as any of you parents know, not much escapes their eyes. He took the news surprisingly well, and was better at comforting me as I tried to comfort him.
We read a book together called "I Remember" by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, which I highly recommend if you need to explain death of a pet and the circle of life to a small child. He gave me a big hug, wiped my eyes, and said, Here Mom, let's sit down and watch Wall-E. That will make you feel better (which is what we often do if he gets hurt, to help take his mind off the pain.) I'm so proud of my compassionate little man.

A pair of jokers

Yet more monkey-see, monkey do... this time, Gabe was copying Claire. Lately I've been into putting pigtails in Claire's hair, and while they are in, they are adorable. Unfortunately, she enjoys pulling them out, but that's a different story. Gabe asked for them last Saturday, too.
Later on, one of them put on some sunglasses, and the other was quick to copy. Here the were hamming it up for the camera (and each other.) It's getting to be really fun to have two - not all of the time! - but more often than not, it rocks.

Cabin Fun

A few weeks ago we went to the cabin with Mom and Dad when the Heckers were home. Gabe really got into fishing - first he scoped out Hecker's mongo catch o' the day -- at 33", it was nearly as tall as he was!

Then he was helping Huck to reel in a fish that ended up being a big bass! Pretty sweet.

We had a great time that went by (as usual) all too fast.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I heart gDiapers

Several of you fellow mamas out there have heard me rave about gDiapers. Besides the obvious benefit of them being eco-friendly, I also love how breathable they are so Claire almost never gets diaper rash (or ouchy-butt, as Gabe so often referred to it.) If you are interested in experiencing gDiaper love, there's never been a better time to try it out. You see, they are offering a promotion on what they call "everyday g's", which are 6 pairs of little gpants (the outer cover + liner) for only $40 (instead of the bundled price of $70). All you need to add is one $15 case of gRefills, (or one $30 pack of cloth inserts) and you are set to go. Buying 6 pairs separately would cost you $102. If you are interested, follow this link and use my promo code g1524Gilles when you check out. Voila! $40 not $70! It's also very cool that they just added cloth inserts to their list of products, in addition to the cool biodegradable, flushable ones.

If $40 is out of your 'experiment' budget, then you can also try them out with a gdiapers starter kit, retailing for about $27 bucks. This only comes with 2 pants, not 6, but also comes with 10 gRefills to try it out for a few days. (Sorry, no magic promo code here - though you can also get them on which offers $10 off your first order.)

With a baby Claire's size, we go through about 6 gRefills a day, and we own 5 pairs of little gPants. It's been working out really well, and they are so darn cute to boot! For more info, you can email me or visit their website.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Our first non-kids adventure in 4 years began on Sunday as we departed for Las Vegas with the Atkinson's. In the 10 years we've known them, many zany adventures have happened with Ian and Monika, such as a road trip to Disney World as college kids where we deliberately detoured in Georgia in search of the World's Largest Peanut. This trip did not disappoint - plenty of fun and adventures were had. We did it all: stayed at the Bellagio with fountain-view rooms (scored with the slip of a $20); won (and lost) a bit of money gambling in many of the major casinos along the strip; clowned our way through Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum after a round of tequila shots ($38 for 4!); spent an evening at a Dueling Piano Bar; saw Penn & Teller's amazing magic show; drank like we were still college students; and stayed out till 2am (yes, that's 4am CST!) It was just the R&R that this group of former-funseekers-turned-parents needed. The kids did not seem to miss us too much -- Gabe told Grandpa Rod "Call my parents and tell them I'm having fun!" so the va-cay was good for all of us. Highlights of the trip can be seen in this Picasa Web Album (Ian, I spared the most incriminating ones...)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Road Trip

In case you were wondering what it would be like to "day trip" to Appleton with two kids in tow, here is a replay of our recent adventure to see Mel, Mel, and Amy and their 5 (!!) kids. Thanks to Amy, Drew, and Andy for hosting us! (Left to Right: Audrey, Carter, and Mel Aprahamian; Drew and Amy Gaerthofner; Amelia, Mel, and Maelle Bunkelman; Me, Claire, and Gabe.)

8:47 am:
Hit the Road for our 260-mile adventure (one way).
8:50: Gabe complains about a tummy-ache (meaning carsickness has already set in.)
9:08: Get to north side of River Falls, not quite to 94 yet; pull over for some fresh air; turn off DVD player as probable cause for the carsickness.
10:04: Have been on 94 for nearly an hour; get to exits for Eau Claire and realize I've missed the exit for Hwy 29. Call Jesse for a re-route (luckily, I didn't have to backtrack).
10:14: Back on track - reach Hwy 29, which we'll be on for the next 120 miles.
10:20: Pull over on side of 29 (a 4-lane highway) for fresh air and to get out (puking seemed imminent). Gabe is hysterical, which causes Claire to scream through the whole stop as well. Get Gabe calmed down, and we get back in.
10:36: Decide to stop in Cadott for a walk, potty break, etc to put the carsickness behind us once and for all. Stop at the gas station that all 500 post-Country-fest hungover drunks are also at. As we get out of the car, Gabe notices a bear - the first time I've seen one not in a zoo!
11:03: Back on the road; kids fall asleep and the drive becomes enjoyable.
12:47: Gabe wakes up and asks to watch his movie again. Since we're almost there, and he seems to be doing well, I turn it back on.
1:15pm: We are 10 minutes from the restaurant we are meeting everyone at when Gabe feels sick again. End up pulling over a third time.
1:45pm: We made it to Mom & Pop Place!!
3:45pm: Head over to Amy's, where the kids open gifts and play with all of Drew's toys.
6:00pm: Get some dinner. I decide that driving back tonight will probably be easier on me since they will probably sleep most of the way, and I'd be just as tired tomorrow, but they will be awake, and either fighting or carsick. While we wait for our food, Claire has a diaper blowout on my lap.
7:30pm: Hug the Gaerthofner's goodbye and head for home.
8:00pm: After stopping for gas and Starbucks, we are now on Hwy 10, going back to Stevens Point.
8:08pm: Gabe gets carsick - already. As we're pulled over on the side of Hwy 10, a sheriff deputy pulls up behind us to check out the action. Quickly leaves when I mention the possibility of puking. As I hold Gabe in the ditch, Claire once again screams at the injustice of being strapped in while Gabe gets to be outside with Mama.
8:38pm: Back to driving. Gabe falls asleep from all the drama. Claire tries to get her socks off.
9:10pm: Kids are both finally quiet and I pray that it lasts. "You do it to yourself" taunts the Radiohead song I'm listening to.
11:57pm: We make it into the driveway. As I get Claire out of her seat, I feel the start of another blowout. Gabe informs me, "I don't want to go anywhere ever ever again." I second his motion -- at least for tomorrow.

I won't lie, it was a rough journey. But seeing my girls once a year and how much are kids are growing and changing made it worth it. Next time, we're bringing Daddy. :)