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The Oop Carves a Pumkin

October 30th, 2005  · stk

Last year, Alex wasn't walking. This year, she's going to be motoring down the street like a smaller version of most kids. THIS will be Alex's very first time "Trick-or-Treating". I doubt we'll be out long, but our little angel (appropriately dressed as one), will no-doubt be excited by the adventure! When you're just two, EVERYTHING is so brand new.

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A Short Slide-Show

Last year, Alex wasn't walking. This year, she's going to be motoring down the street like a smaller version of most kids. THIS will be Alex's very first time "Trick-or-Treating". I doubt we'll be out long, but our little angel (appropriately dressed as one), will no-doubt be excited by the adventure! When you're just two, EVERYTHING is so brand new.

She was very eager to help 'carve' the pumpkin, though she did far more seed plucking and table smearing, than she did carving. (Sharp knives and tiny toddlers don't mix). Still, she was excited at first, then apprehensive about sticking her hand in the gooey pumpkin. She managed, with a little persuading ... then the inborn glee of making an absolute MESS took over and she didn't look back.

It's been years since Rachel or I have carved a pumpkin and we have to thank Alex, for opening our eyes to childhood wonder, for a second time! It was very fun, especially for the first-timer.

Happy Halloween!

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Alex Sings - Too Much!

October 19th, 2005  · stk

Our Singing "Organizer"

Alex sings happy birthday

We're now past the family "birthday season". It started Mom's birthday, in August, then Dad followed suit with his, in September. Alex tailed the pack, with her's in early October.

By the time October came around, Alex was well acquainted with cake, ice cream, candles, presents and, of course, birthday cards. Mom had even managed to get Alex to say, "Happy Birthday, Daddy," by the time his rolled around. She loves it all (especially the cake and ice cream).

When you look at your child, you see a reflection of your union, your personalities and genetic predispositions. Of course, we take great pride in the fact that Alex is a happy child and figure that we must've done something right. (It all makes us very afraid about having a second child ... a "devil" child ... one that reflects all of our bad traits, because Alex seems to reflect all of our GOOD traits!)

Maybe not....

First, thanks to everyone that sent Alex a birthday card! She has gotten more enjoyment from her birthday cards than you can imagine (and Dad's birthday cards, and our anniversary cards too, for that matter). She doesn't distinguish between them ... we've just given them to her, so she can have more to "enjoy".

Most people look at a birthday card, put it on the counter, only to be thrown away (eventually). Not Alex! She's fondled, organized, read and moved her cards a countless number of times! I think she's played with her cards MORE than she's played with her new "kitchen center" (it seems that way, anyway).

Our obsessive, compulsive ways are now manifesting themselves in our tiny, but very cute, daughter. She will contentedly sit and "organize" the cards, moving them from one pile, to the next, "reading" each one. One evening, while Rachel was doing dishes and Scott was off somewhere else, Alex sat all by herself, on the bathroom floor, looking through a small stack of cards. She picked each one up, sang a little "Happy Birthday" song, put them down in a new pile. She went through all the cards in this fashion and then repeated the whole process over again!

Hearing the "music" from the other room, Rachel grabbed the camera and captured the moment on video ... Alex's first "singing". Have a look at our little organizer and let us know: WHO do you think she's singing the song to?

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Alex is Two

October 7th, 2005  · stk

Here come the Terrible Two's!

Wow, does time fly. Our little girl just celebrated her SECOND birthday on October 3rd.

She knew it was coming.

"MY birthday," she said (she's really "into" what's her's, Mom's or Dad's right now. It's kind of embarrassing when we go to visit friends. "MY toy," she says, grabbing some other kid's toy. "Huh?" Where did THIS child come from?)

Of course, Rachel's birthday is in August and Scott's in September, so she had some practice.

"How old are you?" we asked.

"TWO!" she says. (She can count to three now, but it's usually, "one, three, two").

We bought her a large, colorful, plastic "kitchen center" for her gift. We debated long and hard about bringing a plastic centerpiece into the house, but ultimately, capitulated. Why? Because she LOVES doing dishes and helping out in the kitchen.

Despite our distain for all things large and plastic, I think it was a good choice. She's been serving Daddy "coffee" and Mommy "tea", every morning (even if the cups are very small, at least they've been warmed in the "microwave"). Her teddy bears have been served full course meals and although they've starved for months, they're now caught up from three feedings each day since Alex received her gift! (They're starting to look positively TUBBY!)

Alex has been a joy (for the most part) during the year and we've chronicled her development, facial expressions and antics, in her "Year Two" slide show. There are over 120+ photos and accompanying notes. We hope that you enjoy the show. (The slide show is a Java Applet and requires Java be loaded on your computer).

Happy Birthday Alexandra!

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Busy Lad - Handyman Dad

September 25th, 2005  · stk

If I haven't been writing much lately, it's because I've been up to my eyeballs in work. Not that that's a bad thing, but I must say ... I've got more than I can chew, right now.

How did this all start?

Last spring, we realized that if I were to work at something, we would be eligible for a Provincial child care subsidy. How? With Rachel in University and with me a stay-at-home Dad, our income is ZILCH. If I earned a buck, we'd make roughly $400 a month "extra" to help keep Alex socially adjusted, entertained and up to her eyeballs in more germs than you can shake a stick at. (I'm all for "free" money if/when you can get it, mostly because I've been putting INTO the system for years, it's nice to take a bit OUT.) ;)

In March, I started doing web design stuff (thanks to Whoo for getting me started) and although I enjoy it, there hasn't exactly been a herd of folks knocking down the door. When summertime came, our landlord, who is starting a landscaping business asked if I wouldn't mind helping out on a job or two. So, before we left for extended holidays and again, upon our return, I did a small bit of manual labor. It was fun to earn a bit of money and I thought, "I ought to strap on my tool belt and do more handyman work, like I used to do."

Well, one eave fascia job led to a faucet replacement job, then a range hood exhaust fan job, to a complete bathroom renovation job, to a porch painting job and two or three MORE jobs, all waiting in the wings. No advertising, just word of mouth. Not bad, but it's now got me working evenings and weekends, in addition to regular hours. The mad rush, perhaps, till the big winter chill.

One woman, who is selling her house next spring, REALLY wanted me to come by and begin painting their porch this weekend. (Before it gets too cold to paint). Wouldn't you know ... Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day. Last night, I called around, trying to find a babysitter for Alex, but couldn't - everyone was busy. Rachel couldn't do it because she's got a 5-page paper due for one of her nursing classes and was counting on ME to look after Alex.

So I called the lady, a mother of two boys, one Alex's age and the other a couple of years older. I made a proposal, "I'd really like to help you out and start painting the porch. If you could look after Alex, then - yes - I can come by and get started tomorrow." She said yes.

So that's how I was able to finagle someone into paying me to baby-sit Alex! Pretty sly, eh? I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer!

What did Alex think of the arrangement? She loved it! She had WAY more fun playing with these two boys than she would have had playing at home. And what an odd coincidence. The youngest boy is almost EXACTLY the same age as Alex. And an odder coincidence, the older boy's name is ALEX too! (Alexander)

So for the better part of the morning, Alexandra was called "little Alex" and Alexander was called "big Alex". They watched a movie (Finding Nemo) in the basement, had a snack, went across the street to play in the park and ate lunch. They all had a great time, while "handyman Dad" scraped, puttied, caulked and painted ... turning a coin and getting free day-care, twice over!

That Dad, what a busy lad!

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On the Mend

September 18th, 2005  · stk

After 8 days since she first threw up, I know that Alex is on the road to recovery. This morning, she ate some cheerios, an egg and a whole piece of toast. Then she wanted another egg, which I fixed and she ate. I gave her some raisins, which she ate. Then she had a whole kiwi. Then a bowl full of yogurt. Then half a banana. And during this time, she drank two cups of milk. Wow. I never thought watching the Oop "pig out" would be such a relief.

Our house has had a dark cloud over it all week. It started, last Saturday, when the Oop threw up in bed. (Those of you who know us, know that Alex threw up for the first time, a week earlier, after visiting Fort Edmonton Park, on Labor Day). That time, she slept it off and bounced back. That time, we thought it was a one-off (and it did appear that way).

This time, she didn't bounce back. She threw up again, a couple of mornings later, after a mouthful of breakfast. She had watery diarrhea and a fever. Our normally happy child became cranky and lethargic. She had difficulty sleeping and wasn't interested in eating anything. Not one bite of food for several days. She complained about being hungry, so we would try to feed her one of her favorites (yogurt) and anything bland (crackers and toast). She would push it away, saying, "no" or take a couple of bites, then stop, complaining, "Tummy hurt."

It was very distressing and, of course, Alex began to lose weight. She was 27 pounds (unclothed) when we started. When we took her to the University Health Clinic on Monday, she weighed 11.5 Kg (25 pounds) - fully clothed - and by Thursday, she had lost another pound and a half.

Because she's a lean toddler, it really began to show and we became concerned. When I changed a rare poopy diaper on Thursday, I was shocked. Our little girl was wasting away, right in front of our eyes. Her muscle tone was gone, she looked gaunt and her legs and arms were shrunken.

She didn't play. She cried a lot. She laid around a lot and just wanted to be held. She slept in the morning, in the afternoon and fitfully, during the night. She awoke in the night, several times, crying. She would say "poopy", or "hungry", but wouldn't be poopy (she hadn't eaten anything, so nothing came out) and though she was hungry, it was too painful to eat more than a bite or two of food.

Fortunately for us, she continued to drink fluids throughout this gastrointestinal episode. She drank watered-down apple juice, mostly, though we did try some Gatorade, because we were concerned about her electrolyte levels. (She didn't much like the Gatorade). We laid off of milk, for a while, as it's difficult to digest. We kept to simple, bland foods, but she never took more than a bite or two.

It was a stressful to watch, as parents. We could only console and wonder, "When is she going to kick this thing?". The week went by and again, we visited the doctor (on Thursday). The doctor figured that she was pretty well hydrated and that she should recover soon and he was right. The next day, Friday, she began to turn the corner. The diarrhea stopped. The fever abated. She began to show more interest in food, even asking for an egg at breakfast.

But it wasn't till today, that I took a deep sigh of relief, watching her pound down an abnormally large amount of food for breakfast. Now, she's contentedly playing with her toys, by herself, in the living room. These are nice sounds that we haven't heard for a week.

Of course, now there's going to be a mess, as she starts to explore and push boundaries again. It's been easy to watch her all week, because she spent so much of her time resting. Now it will be back to the high-energy toddler and (of course) we will be thankful.

Watching your child refuse food and waste away is very difficult and stressful. You're helpless to do anything and that only adds to the misery.

To think that this was just a bout of stomach flu. God, what would it be like if it were something serious?

With a newly found, though woefully watered-down, sense of understanding, our hearts go out to parents who's babies have serious health problems. We've had a glimpse of the heartache, stress and helplessness that you must feel.

UPDATE (10 AM) - We've just gotten back from a visit with Paul, our neighbor (who had a quadruple bypass operation a couple of weeks ago), where Alex ate a cookie and drank some chocolate milk. When we got home, she said she was "hungee", so she's eaten ANOTHER egg, drank another cup of milk and I'm just fixing her ANOTHER piece of toast. Wow.

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