Sunday, December 27, 2015

Catching up

We hope everybody had a Merry Christmas! We did.

We were home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then yesterday, we drove to my parents' house for a quick trip. We came back home today.

We left Biscuit with my parents, and we'll swap him out later in the week.

It seems like I should feel sad or worried about Biscuit when I leave him there, but frankly, he feels safe and always has a great time. And it's nice to have a break. As long as it's a short break! Those things make it easy for me to drive away. I'll miss him of course, but it's fun to talk to him on the phone and find out what he's been up to.

I'll try to add some pictures and some funny stories soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Picture-perfect presents

I can't remember where I saw this idea, but instead of name tags on our gifts this year we decorated black-and-white photos with glitter glue, sequins and snowflakes.

Some of them were really pretty. Some of them were really silly. And some of them I'd rather not be seen by anyone but family! We can't all be great artists!

My favorite was one I did of Biscuit. It was a picture I took of him at the beach last January. He was looking out over the sand and sea, and I snapped a picture of him in his sunglasses. You can see the reflection of the sand in the lenses.

The only bad thing is that we printed and decorated more pictures than we have presents to put them on.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another science project

Since Biscuit was so excited about the science project his class did at school, I thought it would be fun to do another project at home.

And since wintertime is upon us, we decided to make snowflakes.

First we made pipe cleaner snowflake shapes.

Then we tied the snowflake shapes to pencils and suspended them in glass containers.

Then we boiled water and added borax and food coloring and poured it into the containers.

Then we let them sit overnight. They started to firm up around the edges. As the jars sat, the liquid turned into a jelly-like consistency.

We let them sit overnight, then pulled them out of the goo. We had crystallized snowflakes.

Biscuit was a little disappointed because he chose red food coloring, but the snowflakes came out pink. But he still thought they were cool enough to tell his doctor at his checkup appointment Friday morning.

I really enjoyed seeing Biscuit get excited about how the process worked, and if I tell the truth, I enjoyed seeing how it worked, too.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A good report

Biscuit had his annual checkup Friday morning, and he got a good report.

We really like Biscuit's doctor because he's very thorough. We spent about 45 minutes with the doctor. Nowadays, that's forever!

They checked his eyes. The said they were 20/20, although we saw Biscuit cheat a little bit. When he had his right eye covered, and the nurse asked him to read the line of letters, Biscuit slid his right hand over a little bit and helped out his left eye. We'll keep an eye (no pun intended) on it.

They did a hearing test and said he passed. Of course, that doesn't explain how I can talk and talk and talk, and he never hears me.

He weighs 53 pounds and is 46.75 inches tall. He's gained 4 pounds and almost 3 inches in the past year, and our checking account has the dent to prove it! I told him that he's not allowed to grow again until it's time to wear shorts.

And as he says every time I tell him that, "Moooom, I don't have any control over how much I grow!" 

Biscuit is around the 50th percentile for weight and the 25th percentile for height. That means that he's right in the middle for weight, and 75 percent of other kids his age are taller.

The doctor asked him a thousand questions, including how he likes school and what he's learning, about extracurricular activities, what he likes to eat and more.

Biscuit told him that he likes playing "Star Wars" with Jeff, and the doctor asked if he was planning to see the new movie.

Biscuit held his hands out and said, "Well, here's the thing. It's rated PG-13, so we have someone going to see the movie, and then she's going to tell Mom if I can go see it or not."

And sadly for Biscuit, my friend did indeed tell me about the movie, and I told Biscuit I wasn't comfortable with him seeing the movie. He didn't complain or protest, so I said, "Maybe when the DVD comes out, you and Dad can watch it together at home. That way, if you decide you can't finish watching it, you can just turn it off."

"That sounds like a good plan, Mom," Biscuit said.

The doctor made Biscuit stand one on foot and touch his nose, then swap to the other foot. He asked Biscuit what he wore on his head when he rode his bike. Then he asked him to share at least one way to stay safe from the sun.

The American Cancer Society came to Biscuit's school last year and gave each kid a T-shirt, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. They also taught them a little slogan to remember for sun safety.

"Well, first you slip, then you slop, then you slap," Biscuit said.

The doctor gave him a funny look, and Biscuit explained.

"You slip on a dark-colored, long-sleeved T-shirt. Then you slop on some sunscreen. Then you slap on a hat and sunglasses."

The doctor said he hadn't heard that before.

He explained to Biscuit everything that he was going to do. He asked us lots of questions. And I was just impressed with how much time he spent with us.

As we were getting ready to leave, the doctor said, "He has an incredible vocabulary for a 7-year-old."

And what I wanted to say but didn't was, "Yes, and he uses it ALL. THE. TIME. NON-STOP."

But it's good to know that Biscuit is in good health and right on track to keep learning and growing.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sickness ... again!

Well, illness has brought our house down once again!

I swear, our boy chooses the most inopportune times to get sick. And much less, he shares it with the rest of us. Luckily, this one hasn't hit Jeff, and fingers crossed, it won't.

It's the weirdest thing because this seems to be the same pattern as last year. The first quarter was perfect attendance, then he started to pick up every germ and bug that passes through.

Biscuit got to his piano lesson Monday evening, and less than halfway through, his teacher stopped and asked, "Are you feeling okay today?"

Biscuit confessed that he wasn't feeling well, and by the time we got him home, his temperature was 102.5. So he missed school Tuesday and Wednesday. I hate that he misses school, but he's not supposed to be there within 24 hours of having a fever.

"Mom, you know what I hate most about being sick?" Biscuit asked.

"What's that?" I asked him.

It's definitely missing school," he said. "I REALLY hate missing school."

His fever finally went away, and he was able to go back to school today. And he was a little too excited about being back.

When he got home, I asked him what color he got on the behavior chart today.

"Well, Mom," Biscuit said, shifting his weight and not looking me in the eye. "I had a bit of a ... umm ... well ... a complication today, and I got yellow."

That's one step down from where they start each day. The category is called, "Think about it."

"What happened?" I asked.

"Well, Natalia ..." Biscuit started.

"Nope. Stop right there," I said. "I don't want to hear about the other kids. I want to hear only about you."

"But Mom," Biscuit continued. "Kiernan was ..."

"No," I said. "Tell me what YOU did."

"Well," Biscuit said, "I was playing in the centers, and everybody was misbehaving. And I was going back and forth between two centers because I didn't hear the teacher say we had to choose one and stay there."

It wasn't a big deal at all, but his hemming and hawing and trying to blame everybody else irritated me.

"Listen," I told him. "What you did to get clipped down was not that big a deal. But you not coming straight out and telling me makes me upset. You need to be straight up with me."

"I'm sorry, Mom," he said. "Next time, I'll tell you as soon as you ask me."

So he says. I guess we'll see.


So I just read this post to Jeff, and he said, "Now wait a minute. That's not what he told me."

"You got a different story?" I asked.

Jeff said yes, and that here's how the conversation went: 

"I was copying other kids," Biscuit said. 

"Were you copying someone else's work?" Jeff asked.

"No!" Biscuit said. "I would never copy anyone else's work."

"Then what do you mean?" Jeff asked.

"Well, I was copying other kids' behaviors," Biscuit said. "And that's something I need to work on, not being influenced."

Jeff said to me, "You could just hear his teacher's words through him."

Well, his teacher does have a point. And I hope Biscuit learns it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Growing up

Despite me telling him not to, Biscuit just keeps growing!

He's learned so much since he started school. I was impressed with his progress in kindergarten, and that barely touched what he's doing in first grade.

But lately, his physical growth has been the most noticeable thing.

It's little things ... like when you see him sitting at the dining room table and realize that his legs don't stick straight out on the chair anymore. Or when he's standing right beside you, and you try to put your hand on his head, and you have to reach a lot higher than you used to ... or smack him in the forehead (yep, it's happened!).

I think I mentioned earlier that when it got to be long-pants weather, we started trying on his clothes and had to clean out his entire dresser. And most of it was because his legs and arms got longer.

So when we started replacing his pants, I realized that they wouldn't fit well in his drawer anymore. If you fold them in half, they're too long from front to back to fit. And if you turn them sideways, you can only get a few pairs in there.

So we swapped some of his clothes from the dresser to his closet. And boy do they look like big-boy clothes in there.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently:

Old friends: Biscuit was ready to go to bed last night, but he couldn't find Stripes, his stuff tiger. 

His main-squeeze stuffed animal changes every so often, but nobody ever gets left behind. Even though he occasionally changes who he cuddles closest, all the others occupy the other side of his queen-sized bed.

It was bed time, and Stripes was nowhere to be found. 

"I'm sure Stripes is downstairs somewhere," Jeff told him. "We'll find him tomorrow."

Biscuit grabbed his bear and squeezed him tight. 

Then he said, "Come on, Teddy, it's just like old times."

Throat problems: Biscuit suffers from seasonal allergies and some sinus problems, so he often wakes up with a scratchy throat.

"I feel something weird in my throat," Biscuit said one morning. Then he held up his hand and said, "And before you say it, Mom, it isn't a frog."

"How do you know it's not a frog?" I asked him.

"Because I never put live pieces of nature in my mouth," he said quite indignantly.

A new word: Biscuit was eating his dinner tonight, and he said, "Mom, this is scrumptious!"

"What?" I said, wondering where on Earth he learned that word.

"My food is scrumptious," Biscuit said. "It's an adjective."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The science project

Biscuit's class is learning about science projects. I don't recall doing science projects in first grade, but if you wanted to know what he's doing in first grade that I didn't do until second or third grade, it would take a lot of typing!

So Biscuit was excited about the project, and he wanted to tell me all about it.

"Mom, do you want me to tell you how to perform a science experiment?" Biscuit asked.

"Yes," I said. "Tell me all about it."

"Well," he said, "here are the steps. ... First, you ask a question. Then, you form a hypothesis. Next, you perform a test. Then you collect your results. And the last step is that you reach a conclusion."

"Dude!" I said. "I don't think I knew the word 'hypothesis' until, like, third grade! What was your experiment?"

"Well, we wanted to know if the color of a drink would affect the taste of it. That was our question," he explained. "So we each had three cups with something to drink in them. One was blue. One was green. And one was plain. We tasted the drink from each cup, and you know what?"

"What?" I asked. I could tell he was enjoying drawing out his explanation.

"All three cups were apple juice," he said. "The color didn't change the taste at all!"

"That's a really cool project," I said.

"So our question was whether different colored drinks taste different. Our hypothesis was that we thought they would taste the same. Our test was that we drank them. Then we wrote down what each one tasted like. That was our results. And our conclusion was that the color of the apple juice didn't make them taste any differently."

I was very impressed.

I dialed my brother's cellphone and handed the phone to Biscuit. 

"Tell your uncle about your science project," I said.

Biscuit took care of the pleasantries then told my brother about his project. And my brother, being my brother, said, "Well tell me this ... Is a hypothemus kin to a hippopotamus?"

"Noooo," Biscuit said. "It's a hy-po-the-sis."

"That's what I said," my brother said. "Hypothemus. It at least has to be a cousin of the hippopotamus, right?"

Biscuit let out a big sigh (something he does to my brother quite often) and said, "You're just picking on me, right?"

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Seeing Santa

Our annual tradition of taking Biscuit to see Santa while my parents are here for Thanksgiving continued again this year. But I was a little nervous the night before we went.

"Okay," I said to Biscuit. "Grandmama and I are going to go shopping tomorrow morning. Then about lunchtime, you, Dad and Papa will meet us for lunch and a visit with Santa. You do want to see Santa, right?"

I was surprised by his answer.

"Um, I don't think I want to go see Santa," Biscuit said.

Well, my mind flew back to last year when we had to talk with Biscuit about Santa and Santa's helpers. Remember this?

So my first thought was that he was freaked out about last year and didn't want to see Santa because of it.

"Why don't you want to see Santa?" I asked, pretty nervous about his response.

"Oh," Biscuit said. "I just haven't thought of what I want to ask him for."

Whew! I let my imagination go too wild!

I told Biscuit that all he had to do was to think of two things he wanted to ask for. That Santa is always good about engaging the kids, asking about what they like and don't like.

There wasn't a line, so we walked right in. The whole process is so fast, that last year, I didn't even hear what Biscuit asked Santa for.

So this year, I asked Mama to go stand near Santa and Biscuit to eavesdrop while I dealt with the photographer.

Mama told me that evening what he had asked for, but I did get distracted from the photographer when I heard Biscuit tell Santa, "And I can give you a hint about finding that one ..." Because clearly, Santa can't find toys on his own! And besides, don't the elves make all the toys?!

Throughout his seven years on this Earth, Biscuit has gone back and forth about liking to have his picture taken. He used to grab for the camera and ask me to take his picture. But now he's gotten really weird about it. He likes it when I take pictures of him in poses in costume. He liked the pictures I took of him playing baseball. He also liked me taking his picture at Tweetsie Railroad. 

But if you look at those photos, you'll notice that he doesn't offer up a full smile. As he's lost his teeth, he won't smile big for pictures. He gives this little crooked half smile with no teeth showing.

I asked him about it, and all he said was, "I just don't like to show my teeth when I smile."

I don't push it because I don't want him to get upset about it, but I sure do miss his sweet, full smile!

Here he is on his visit with Santa.

And just as a side note ...

Last year, we saw this Santa a day before he was going out for medical leave. I wondered why he would work just a few days, then leave, but I figured he must've hurt himself. A back injury or something.

Well, it turns out that he had a really rare kind of cancer that they found by accident while they were checking out something else.

His cancer was so rare that the hospitals here in town wouldn't even touch him. They sent him to a big university hospital about an hour and a half away from here.

They had to take one of his kidneys, and he had to endure all kinds of radiation and treatments.

He said he was feeling really good now, and we were all glad to see him back and looking like the Santa we've loved for the past seven years.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

No good deed

Jeff didn't get home from the basketball game until about 2 a.m. last night. So since he gets Biscuit ready every morning, I figured it would be a nice thing if I took over those duties this morning.

And as they say, no good deed goes unpunished!

I went up and roused Biscuit. I washed his face and combed his hair. He brushed his teeth and got dressed. Then we headed downstairs.

I didn't turn on any downstairs lights, so as we were walking back down the stairs, I thought I had reached the last step. But I hadn't. I fell down the last three steps.

It hurt so bad!

I was sprawled out on the floor, and I started moving everything to make sure nothing was broken. I could tell that my wrist was hurt. I could move it around, but I know it's going to be bruised and sore tomorrow.

Biscuit was freaked out. He came running down the rest of the stairs.

"Mom! Mom!" he said. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I said. "Calm down. I'm okay. But I need you to do me a favor. Can you go and very gently wake up Dad and tell him I've fallen down the stairs? Be gentle. Dad didn't get home until really late last night."

"Okay, Mom," Biscuit said. "I'll be right back."

I sat on the floor for what felt like forever. Finally, Jeff and Biscuit came up the hall.

"Kimmy, are you okay?" Jeff asked. And by this point, I had turned from freaked out to scared to mad and grumpy.

"I'm fine," I said. "Can you just fix his breakfast and lunch so he won't be late for school?"

After a few minutes, I got up and joined them in the kitchen. I grabbed an ice pack and sat down at the kitchen table.

I tried to do something nice, and there I was, sitting at the table while Jeff was having to do all the things I didn't want him to have to do.

Jeff got Biscuit out the door and took him to school.

When Jeff got back home, he said, "Did you hear how your boy told me what happened?"

"There's no telling," I said. "But no, I didn't hear him."

"He came running into the bedroom and said, 'Dad! Did you hear that really loud noise just now?"

"No," Jeff said. "What happened?"

"Well, it wasn't me," Biscuit said. "It was Mom. She fell down the stairs."

Really? He thought it was more important to address the noise it made when I fell over the fact that I at first thought my wrist was broken?!

We've clearly got to talk to that boy about his priorities!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Piano update

Biscuit and I got to his piano lesson about 10 minutes early today, only to find his teacher's driveway empty. We usually arrive a few minutes after his teacher gets home from his "real" job of being a music teacher at an elementary school.

But it was rainy and messy all day today, so I allowed for extra travel time.

Turns out, it wasn't needed. Biscuit's teacher called about 4:56 p.m. to say that he was going to be late getting home for Biscuit's 5 p.m. lesson.

So Biscuit and I hung out in the car and talked for a little bit.

He didn't get to practice much this week because he had his last lesson last Monday, then my parents came into town Wednesday. My brother and his family came in on Saturday. And by Sunday, we were all exhausted. So when I told him to practice Sunday evening, he struggled.

I remember when I was taking lessons as a kid, and I would just get so frustrated because I couldn't do what I knew I needed to do. Knowing what's supposed to be happening and not being able to do it is beyond frustrating. My Daddy plays guitar and sings, but he can't read music. So he and Mama couldn't understand just how hard it was for me sometimes.

And because I believe everything happens for a reason, I think that everything I experienced when I was taking lessons will be beneficial to Biscuit. Including understanding when he gets all torqued out over not being able to play a song the way he wants to.

When he practiced Sunday evening, he got so mad at himself. I mean, he was playing "Frosty the Snowman." How could you possibly get mad when you're playing "Frosty the Snowman"?

He was doing such a good job until he got to the part about "There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found." The notes for that part are pretty different from the rest of the song, and he just couldn't get it locked in.

So when he and I were talking in the car, I told him, "Listen. You need to just tell him that you didn't get to practice much this week. He'll understand that."

And when we got inside, he did just that. And luckily, without any prompting, his teacher said, "You know what? You don't have any control over things like that. Holidays are busy, especially if you have family at your house."

"I did play for them," Biscuit said.

"That's great!" his teacher said. "I know they loved it, too."

"I think they did," Biscuit said.

Then Biscuit played a song he's been working on for a while. He'll be playing it for two competitions after the first of the year.

After he finished, his teacher went back and picked a few nits.

"I hope you don't think I'm being mean when I tell you these things," his teacher said. "I just want you to get better and better."

Then the teacher looked to me for backup.

I said, "You know when you're working on your writing at school and your teacher points out that you wrote a letter backwards? This is just like that. By pointing out parts that need work, it'll just get better and better."

Biscuit seemed to relax a little bit. I worry sometimes about how intense he can get about things. And how hard he can be on himself.

As Biscuit was packing up his books, his teacher whispered to me, "There are some of my students that I wouldn't be that picky with, but he is just so musical. He has music in him. I truly believe that he's going to do something in music, whether it's vocational or avocational, I believe it."

I tend to be skeptical when people seem too complimentary, but I can see it, too. And I'm really glad we found a teacher who can recognize Biscuit's talent and help him be as good as he can be.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Delayed Thanksgiving

With everybody's schedule, it's just not possible for my family to gather on Thanksgiving Day. So we figured out a few years ago that the Saturday after Thanksgiving was the best day for us to get together.

We had a really nice visit and ate too much good food - ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole, dressing with giblet gravy and more! I love family gatherings, and not just for the good eats!

After everybody left, I got the kitchen cleaned up, then Jeff, Biscuit and I decided to relax in the living room. I didn't get to spend much time with Biscuit today, so he immediately came over and climbed up into my rocking chair with me.

And that's when the giggling started.

Biscuit makes this noise with his mouth that sounds almost like when you roll your R's in Spanish. I can't make the noise, so Biscuit decided that today was the time for me to learn.

He said, "Put your against your gum and move it against the other thing."

"What?!" I asked him.

"Watch, Mom," he said. But I still didn't get it.

I didn't do a good job as a student, and he thought it was quite funny!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Out of the mouth of my babe

Today is Thanksgiving, and I'm thankful that my son amuses me on a daily basis. Here are a few things he's said recently:

Using his math: Biscuit has discovered the scales in the produce department at the grocery store, and he wants to weigh every single thing I get, even if it's something that's priced per item.

I figure it's math, so I take the time and let him do it.

Yesterday, I needed a couple of Red Delicious apples, and they were on sale for 99 cents a pound. I got two pretty big apples, and of course, Biscuit needed to see how much they weighed.

I walked over, and we looked at the scale together. 

"Okay, the needle is halfway between 1 and 2 pounds," I told him. "So how much do my apples weigh?"

"Oh, uh ..." Biscuit said, and he was stumped.

"It's HALFway between the numbers," I said.

"Oh!" Biscuit said, and there might as well have been a light bulb over his head. "That's 1 and a half pounds of apples."

"Good job," I said. "Now let's figure out how much they cost."

I rounded up and told him that they were $1 a pound.

"If the apples are $1 for each pound, and we have one pound and half of another pound, how much would that be?" I asked him.

"It would be $1 and ..." then Biscuit just sort of looked at me.

"What's half of one dollar?" I asked. "And remember that a dollar is the same as 100 cents. So what's half of 100 cents?"

"50 cents," he said.

"Right." I said. "So our apples are $1 and 50 cents."

We took a couple of steps away, and I said, "By the way, THAT is why you need to learn math. For the grocery store."

I happen to glance up, and saw a man standing near us laughing. I caught his eye, and he just nodded his head and went on about his shopping.

We'll take lessons wherever we can find them!

A big kurfuffle: Biscuit stages all kinds of intricate battles with his action figures and little Lego men. One evening when we were all three in the living room, and I said, "What's going on?"

"Okay, guys," he said. "Here's the deal. There's an odd conniption going on at the base."

Before he could go any further, Jeff asked, "Wait, what is a conniption?"

Biscuit thought for a second and said, "I don't really know. I just heard that word and just kind of made it up for what we're playing."

Good behavior: I know lots of people are upset that stores are open today, but we don't have our Thanksgiving until Saturday. So it's kind of like a regular day for us.

Mama and I went shopping, and Jeff, Daddy and Biscuit decided they would go with us. We sort of dreaded it because they tend to get impatient and are ready to go before us, but we also knew that it would be time spent together, which is always good.

Daddy and Jeff went to the men's department, and Biscuit stayed with Mama and me.

I'm not sure what happened, but Mama called down Biscuit. I heard her say something about how if he wanted to stay with us, he couldn't be doing whatever it was he was doing.

Then Biscuit said, "I'm sorry, Grandmama. I've only been in this store once before, and I just didn't know the expectations."

I could see Mama trying not to laugh.

"The expectations are just for you to be good and patient so your Mom and I can shop some," Mama said.

"Got it," Biscuit said. And he was really good the rest of the time.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Biscuit is back to normal

This has been quite a rough week. Remember how I said Biscuit wasn't feeling well last Sunday, and that I hoped he felt better soon? Well, that didn't happen.

By the time we got home Sunday evening, Biscuit's temperature was 103, and you could tell by looking at him that he was a sick little boy.

I wrote emails to his teacher and after-school leader to let them know he wouldn't be at school Monday. I texted his piano teacher to say we couldn't attend his lesson. Jeff and I split the day. I worked the first half at work and the second half at home. And Jeff did just the opposite.

Our thought was that Biscuit's fever would wind down Monday evening, and he would head back to school Tuesday. But when he got up Tuesday morning, he was still feverish.

Biscuit will occasionally run a fever out of nowhere, often with no other symptoms. I asked his doctor about it, and his doctor said that's just his body's way of fighting off bad stuff. He also said we should be glad that Biscuit's immune system is strong enough to fight off illnesses like that.

Biscuit's doctor has always said that three days is the magic number. If his fever goes away within three days, he's fine. If it lasts longer than that, we should bring him in to his office.

So Tuesday morning, we called the doctor. 

We went in that afternoon and while we were waiting on the doctor, poor Biscuit couldn't even sit up. He was lying face-down on the exam table. He was wearing a hand-me-down T-shirt with "Angry Birds" as "Star Wars" characters. When the doctor came in, I helped roll Biscuit over. Biscuit started to sit up, but the doctor told him to stay right where he was.

"Hey," the doctor said. "I like that shirt."

Biscuit had his eyes closed until the doctor made the comment about his shirt.

Biscuit opened his eyes long enough to say, "I don't like 'Angry Birds,' but I do like 'Star Wars.'"

Turns out, Biscuit had an adenovirus. I had never even heard of such a thing, but it's basically an all-encompassing virus that affects dang-near everything in him.

He had respiratory issues, sinus problems, throwing up, bathroom issues, headache, body aches, sore throat and more. The only thing that didn't hurt him was his ears. They were perfectly clear.

The doctor wrote him an excuse for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And he said that if Biscuit's fever wasn't gone Wednesday night / Thursday morning, we should bring him back.

I woke up Wednesday morning with the room flying around. I have occasional bouts of vertigo, and I certainly didn't feel like getting up and going to work. But the week before Thanksgiving is always rough at work. We have early deadlines, and I just couldn't miss any days of work last week.

Wednesday night, Jeff and I were lying in bed, and just out of nowhere, the vertigo kicked up a notch. It was worst the I had ever had. I was lying perfectly still, but it felt like I was rolling all over the bed. I broke out in a sweat and immediately started feeling nauseated. It was awful.

We were already worried about Biscuit, then Jeff had to worry about me, too.

I still wasn't feeling well Thursday morning. But Biscuit woke up on his own and walked downstairs. I could tell by the look on his face that he was feeling better.

He brought me the thermometer, and I checked his temperature - 98.3 in one ear, and just for good measure, 97.5 in the other ear.

"How are you feeling?" I asked him.

"I'm feeling very, very better, Mom," Biscuit said.

Finally, by Friday evening, we were all doing a lot better.

Jeff had all-day work days both days this weekend, so Biscuit and I just camped out at home. We caught him up on his homework and piano. I did a bunch of cleaning stuff that I wasn't able to do this past week.

We're hoping this coming week will be a lot better for us.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A busy weekend

We went to my parents' house this past weekend. Since the time around Biscuit's birthday party is always hectic, I like going to their house the weekend after. They get more time to celebrate with him, and he enjoys that it extends his special day.

We had a good visit, and Biscuit had a good time playing with everybody.

I think he might have played too hard because by the time we left, he wasn't feeling well.

I figured he was just tired because he went to sleep within 10 minutes of leaving my parents' house. But when we got home, I took his temperature, and it was 103. Poor little man was feeling awful.

We kept him home from school today, and when he went to bed about an hour ago, he seemed to be feeling a little bit better. His medicine should be wearing off pretty soon, so I'll check him again before I go to bed to see if he needs another dose.

But hopefully, he'll feel better tomorrow.

Here's some of the fun he had over the weekend:

Brownie and ice cream.

Making a wish.

Big breath to blow out the candle ... and I missed him
actually blowing it out because his big breath tickled me.

And lots of presents.

Mama spent 98 cents on these Halloween balloons with LED
lights inside. We inflated them, turned out all the lights and batted
them around the living room. It was Mama, Daddy, Jeff, Griffin,
me, my brother, my sister-in-law, one of my nieces and my
nephew. And can you believe it? Nothing got broken!

And then it was time to play in the leaves.

This is my nephew. He's 11, and he's the tallest kid in his class. And
it was quite impressive to watch his 5-foot-6 frame dive into these leaves.

Going ... going ...

Gone! He's in there. Can you see him?

My nephew with my brother and Biscuit as the cherry on top.

And then he was tired.

I hope my baby feels better tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Rising Together"

Now that Biscuit is in school, Jeff and I don't get to take our annual anniversary trip anymore. So I ended up with an extra week of vacation time and no good reason to take it. I decided I would just pick a random week and enjoy some time off to myself.

When I looked at the calendar, I realized that the week before Biscuit's birthday would be a good week to take some days.

It was wonderful. And I only checked my work email once. I was very proud of myself for that.

I made plans for Biscuit's birthday party. I had lunch with a friend. I did a little Christmas shopping. I rearranged my chest freezer and my regular freezer. I also rearranged some other closets and areas of the house. I did things that nobody will notice but me. But they were things that make my everyday life easier and more organized.

I also planned to use some of my time off to write some blog posts I've been meaning to write. But did that happen? No.

So here's one from a while back.

The week of my surgery, there was a big folk music festival in town. I had edited so many stories about that thing that I couldn't decide whether I wanted to go or whether I was already sick of it before it had even happened. I read so much about the artists and events that I felt like I had already seen it.

As part of the event, this sculptor came to town and created a ladder sculpture called "Rising Together."

About two weeks before the festival, the sculptor asked for ladder donations from anyone who wanted to participate. They could be old or new, decorated or plain. My boss (and luckily also my friend) suggested that she and I decorate one themed for the paper. She asked one of our maintenance guys, and he actually had an old ladder he was willing to give us.

We covered it with sections of the paper, comics, business cards, PR materials, even branded drink koozies. And we had a great time doing it.

After all, who gets to spend a part of their workday doing what we all did in kindergarten - cutting and gluing and coloring?

Here's our ladder partially done. We painted
a layer of watered-down glue over top of
everything to smooth the edges and protect
our creation from the elements.

My boss and I wanted to document our work, so we got
one of our staff photographers to take a picture of us.

When we finished, the maintenance guy who got the ladder for us also offered to deliver our ladder to the drop-off site. He said he wasn't creative like us but that he could drive a truck and do some lifting.

I went home that evening and told Biscuit about the ladder my boss and I created. He got a funny look on his face.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"Mom!" he said, getting excited. "You'll never guess what."

"What?" I asked.

"We made a ladder today at school, too!" he said.

The school's ladder was painted white, then all the kids were allowed to add their fingerprints in red or blue paint. (The school's colors are red, white and blue).

So we traded details about how our ladders looked, and I told him that once the sculpture was done, we'd go see it and hunt for our ladders.

Well, my appendix decided otherwise. I didn't get to go to the festival or see the sculpture.

But remember that boss and friend I mentioned? She DID get to see it, and she was kind enough to take pictures for Biscuit and me. She got an overall picture, then she made sure to get close-ups of each of our ladders.

Check out our ladders:

The sculpture looked kind of like an igloo to me. It had a dome shape, and you could walk into it.

This is the ladder my boss and I decorated. It's hard to see the details because
it was overhead, and the sky is bright behind it. It was quite a hodge-podge, though.

Biscuit's ladder was on the outside. I think it showed up well because it had a white background.
Biscuit said his fingerprint was blue, but of course he couldn't remember where he put it.

I'm not much of an art person. I can't really explain the technical aspects of this sculpture. But I can say that I did get the symbolism of having these ladders donated from people all over the city piled up together. It did fit its name.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy birthday, Biscuit!

Today is my baby boy's 7th birthday. And as I tell him, he can be 40 years old, and he'll still be my baby!

Biscuit is consumed with "Star Wars" right now (more about that to come). So his party was themed around his latest interest.

This is the first time that Biscuit has really been interested in the food and games and other parts of the party. Previously, he told me the theme and wanted me to take it from there. But it was really fun doing the research and then being able to talk to him about what I had found and getting his opinions about what he did and didn't want.

He decided that since he and Jeff have only watched the original three movies, he wanted his party to be based on those movies, not the new one. Well, that was quite a challenge. All the party stores and websites have supplies based on the movie that's coming out this December. But after a lot of searching, I finally found what he wanted.

When I asked Biscuit who he wanted to invite, I told him that our dining room table has six chairs, and we could put chairs from the kitchen table on either end.

"That's eight kids counting you," I told him, and he set to work narrowing down his invitation list.

Everybody who knows me knows that I love all this party stuff. I love making the invitations, and I always print them out and mail them. And Biscuit always gets a homemade cake or cupcakes in whatever flavor he wants.

Well, this year, I decided that I would make it a little easier on myself.

I made the invitations, but I decided to email them. It felt weird, but it saved time and money.

Address and phone number blurred out, of course.

And I decided to ... gasp! ... BUY a cake. I know, I know.

I had ordered a personalized sugar sheet that went along with the theme. They're made with a special computer printer that uses food-grade ink. The sheet that it prints is completely edible.

Again, I saved time and money. If I had ordered the cake pre-made, it would've cost about $40. But by getting a plain cake and the sugar sheet, it was about $25.

I was quite pleased with myself until I started looking at the available space on the top of the cake and then the sugar sheet. The sugar sheet was a quarter sheet cake size and the cake was a quarter sheet cake. But it turns out that the measurements of the cake were a little bit smaller than a true quarter sheet cake. Add to that the fact that the sugar sheet was created to cover the entire top of the cake, and the cake I bought had a pretty wide border of icing around the top.

Time and money saved. Stress ... not so much!

I finally took a small offset spatula and squished the icing toward the edge of the cake as much as I could without messing it up too badly. Then I got out a ruler and my sharpest paring knife and took to hacking apart the sugar sheet.

I was all worried about it, but when I showed it to Biscuit, he said, "Whoa! Mom! That is SO cool!" And he never even noticed that R2-D2 wasn't even on there. As long as Luke Skywalker was on there, the boy was happy.

Sorry about the shadow. I was in a hurry and didn't look
at my picture before I moved on to something else.

Now, when you start searching something like "Star Wars" birthday party, you get WAY more information that you could ever need. You wouldn't believe how many blog posts, websites and posts on various social media offer suggestions for "the perfect party!"

I took it one topic at a time. The first time, Biscuit and I looked at decorations. Our next trip online, we figured out games to play. The third trip was the most fun for me. We checked out food!

All the food had theme-specific names. And let me say that I've never actually seen the original three movies. So I was taking Jeff and Biscuit's word for a lot of this stuff.

We had Edible Ewoks, aka gummy bears, these bear-looking little critters in the 
movie, and Han Rollos, a take on the character Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford).

We also had light saber pretzel rods. The good guys have blue and green light
sabers. Darth Vader has red. So Biscuit said I could only make blue and green.

There are some animals called Taun Tons that I think are
shaped like T-Rex dinosaurs (Short little arms in the front and
long tails. They run on their back legs). Anyway, I made these
appetizers with wonton wrappers with spiced meat and cheese
that I've been making for years, but I had no idea I was
making "Star Wars" themed appetizers all these years.

Making his wish.

Blowing out the candle.

We borrowed a cooler that looks like R2-D2. It
held Jedi Juice (kid-sized bottles of apple juice). 

This Darth Vader is a pinata. Biscuit thought it was
appropriate that they would be ripping open the bad guy.

And Biscuit decided we needed to do goodie
bags. He picked out what we included.

We included a Play Pack, which has a coloring book, crayons and stickers, 
"Star Wars" fruit snacks and homemade chocolate chip cookies that we 
called "Wookie Cookies." I was alerted by a friend that "Wookie" is not the correct 
spelling for Chewbacca's people. It was supposed to be "Wookiee." But I blame 
Jeff. He knows everything about those movies, and he was my proof
reader. This shows he was not on his copyediting game that day!

There were a bunch of gifts, of course, including three new Nerf guns. There were lots of helium balloons scattered around the living room, and after everyone left, Jeff, Biscuit and I each got a gun and started target practice. I guess it could've ended badly, but it was a lot of fun, and it felt like we were getting away with something.

As a matter of fact, when my Mama called Biscuit, I said to him, "Don't tell Grandmama what we were doing. We'll get in trouble."

I knew exactly what would happen.

Biscuit walked around the corner and said in a low voice, "Um, Grandmama ... Mom and Dad and I are shooting Nerf guns at balloons in the living room."

"GRIFFIN!" I yelled. "You were not supposed to tell!"

He got a big kick out of that.

This was my favorite gift bag.

This morning, I put a candle in a peanut butter and jelly English muffin.

Biscuit said, "Mooom! How many times am I gonna have to blow out this candle?!"

But of course, when he talked to my Mama this evening, that was one of the first things he told her. "I've blown out my No. 7 candle four times so far, Grandmama."

I had some games planned for the kids, but I sort of lost control of the party. The sugared-up kids were feeding off each other, and pretty soon, I gave them light sabers and sent them to the yard.

The kids used "The Force" to keep balloons
in the air with their light sabers.

And a game of King of the Hill is required
by law at all boys' birthday parties.

It was a big day for Biscuit yesterday. He actually got in trouble a little bit at school today. His teacher said he agreed that he wasn't on his best behavior, but she said she wasn't too worried about it. She referred to it as "birthday-itis."

The school has a morning TV show, and they list all the birthday kids. So Biscuit was excited about that. I also took doughnuts for all the kids in his class. On birthdays, parents can bring in a special snack. The class sang "Happy Birthday" to Biscuit, and when he was recounting the story, he said, "And Mom, my teacher said I didn't even have to sing!"

He had a piano lesson after school, then we let him pick out the restaurant for dinner. And of course we saved some presents for the actual day.

Biscuit chose a Mexican restaurant, partly because he had seen them make a big fuss over other customers' birthdays in the past. And they didn't disappoint him tonight. The servers at put the big sombrero on him and gave him a free dessert. They sang to him in Spanish, which of course he loved. And our server offered him the first bite of the dessert then promptly smeared it on his nose.

Don't mind the demon eyes. I'll fix them later.

So Biscuit went to his best friend's birthday party on Saturday. He had his own party Sunday. They made a fuss over him at school today. His piano teacher played and sang a rousing version of "Happy Birthday," in which I think he used every note on the piano. And he finished up with a dinner he loved and more presents.

By Biscuit's account, it's been a great few days.