Liam Update

Liam is almost 20 months old and because he is not yet walking we were highly encouraged by a loving friend to have him evaluated by a group here called Shield. So, a nurse came out to assess Liam about a week ago and sure enough, after an hour of evaluation she confirmed that Liam can't walk yet.

Seriously though, she took out a bunch of age-appropriate toys from her Mary Poppins style bag and observed Liam as he eagerly interacted with her and the student nurse that had come along for the ride. They were quickly taken by his smiley charm and bubbly personality. He did everything they told him to do (fed the baby doll, pulled himself up in order to fetch the doll from the sofa, stacked blocks, put the blocks in a cup and poured them out, etc.) except for stand and walk by himself. After Liam helped her clean up, the nurse told me she would fill out the paper work, send copies off to us and our pediatrician and then refer him on to the Early Childhood specialists in our school district who will also come out to assess him and then, assuming by that point he hasn't climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro already, they will send out a Physical Therapist to get him up to speed.

The nurse wanted to also make me aware that while Liam is working hard learning to walk, we might notice that he stops talking so much.

Uh, right....I'm not sure if she noticed but he really doesn't talk much to begin with. I mean, we would be hard pressed to notice if he stopped doing something he didn't do yet but hey, I'm not the nurse.

Be assured though, Liam has made great, um, strides this last week in the gross motor department. For example, he will now take a few steps by himself in order to be rewarded with tiny marshmallows. Although this might sound like I am taking a more primitive or perhaps dog-training approach, it's actually beginning to seem quite appropriate. Just the other day, when I put Liam down on the ground at one of Aidan's soccer games, a little girl came up and asked: "Can I pet him?" Amused, I said sure and then assured her he doesn't bite...usually.

So, because he is so small and because he is lagging behind in both verbal skills (as compared to chatty Maddie at this age) and gross motor skills, everyone and their mother tries to help him along. The best example of this happened on the way to church last week. Kurt's mother was in the back seat with the kids trying to get Liam to repeat the words she said. The conversation went like this:

"Say 'car' Liam," she said. "Liam, say 'caaaar.'"

"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee," Liam said, almost as if he were on a roller coaster.

"Say 'car' Liam, 'car,'" she repeated.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," he said, cheerfully pointing out the window. (I am sure he was pointing at cars...)

"Liam, say 'Mama,'" she said. "'Mamamamama."

"Ahhhhma," he said, looking at me.

Then my mother-in-law said, "Good, now say..........oh my gosh I can't believe the trees are changing colors already!"

I laughed till the tears rolled down my face and about flooded the car. But perhaps you had to be there....And although Liam might not be able to talk yet, if he could, I'm guessing he would have replied with something like this:


Soccer Chickens

One thing I love about the internet is that there is always someone out there who has way too much time on their hands and can provide me with just what I need for my blog entry. Take this video for perfect example: Chickens Playing Soccer. This is exactly what it is like watching an under 8 soccer team, only, the chickens have far more moves!

So, after taking some time away from sports, Aidan decided he wanted to try soccer again this year. Having played soccer at the collegiate level myself I was thrilled he wanted to take another shot at it. That thrill was mixed with complete dread about the hyper-competitiveness and intensity of other parents and coaches. But, Kurt volunteered to be the assistant coach and off we went, into soccer season on an under-8 team.

The season is underway and yesterday we took Kurt's parents to watch Aidan's soccer game. Each team has to provide one parent volunteer to be a line judge and since I was standing there, looking completely uninterested, I was given the task.

It was actually quite fun being a line judge, swearing the ball was hit off the other team when it wasn't (just kidding of course) and helping the kids get their throw-ins and corner kicks off. At first, I would try to give our boys some help as to where to throw the ball: "Look, Will is open. Throw it to him." But after a while, I realized I needed to say only two things: "Keep your feet behind the line, no, not on the line, behind the line..." and "Keep your feet on the ground when you throw."

This was accentuated by a throw-in that took place by the opposing team. The ball had gone out right past mid-field on our end and the coach was telling the kid to throw it to Zack: "Look, Zack is down the field and open....throw it to Zack. Do you see Zack? Throw it to Zack. Are you listening? Throw it in already, TO ZACK!" At which point I am fairly certain the coach was jumping up and down on his head with his arms frantically waving in the air. So, the kid, looking like a deer stunned by headlights, contorts his entire body around, twisting it in some acrobatic-like way in order to throw the ball the totally opposite direction down towards their end of the field, (but hey, he had his feet behind the line and kept them on the ground!) One of our players took off with the ball and their coach, completely beside himself, made the mistake of asking: "Why did you throw it that way? What were you thinking?" To which his player replied: "Parker was open so I threw it to Parker."

Parker was their goalie. And over half a field away. And his throw went all of about 5 feet, maybe....

I about burst out laughing but seeing as how the coach looked like he may need therapy later, or at least some strong mixed drinks, I kept it together. And I will admit, he didn't appreciate it several such episodes later when I made the comment: "Maybe you ought to tell them the opposite of what you actually want to get them to do what you really want." He had words, in his heavily-European-accented voice, that didn't sound very amused....

At any rate, we can't talk much because by the end of the game, Aidan, who has shown much more promise this year of at least being interested in playing soccer, asked Kurt to please take him off the field because his leg hurt. He limped over, holding his leg as if he had been severely injured. As soon as he was off the field, he sprinted the fifty yards to Liam who was practicing his walking on another soccer field. I am not certain which part of his leg was hurt but it certainly did not appear to be the running part!

Alas, such is the way with chickens, what can I say....


Mother Hen Portrait

One of the very best parts of parenthood, in my humble opinion, is the artwork that takes place right around 3 years of age. Lily announced she had drawn a picture of me yesterday and held up her doodle thingamajig. (I'm sure that's how they advertise these things too!) The similarities between her drawing and my self are simply amazing....really....my arms and legs do come straight out of my head, just like that! And yes, I do have a halo around my entire body, in case you were wondering.

(Obviously, she gets this talent from her father as I was never able to draw with such artistic prowess....hee hee hee....)



Here in Eden Prairie, the local food shelf offers a program called Fare-For-All. Once a month, you can stop in to the site and pick up a few boxes of fresh vegetables, frozen meats, bread and other whole grains etc. for a super low price. The idea is that everyone should be able to afford to feed their families good, healthy food. Today was the day. But we missed it. Again....

You see, today was also the first day of first grade for Aidan. In order to celebrate, we gave him the option of going to Dairy Queen (oh, please pick Dairy Queen, PLEEEEEASE!) picking up a cake or other assorted treat at Costco (oh, oh, oh....if not Dairy Queen, go for Costco, pleeeease, pick Costco!) or we could make a batch of cookies or cake at home (please, whatever you do, don't pick the cake.....pleeeease choose cookies! Come on, go for the cookies!)

He chose homemade cake. Now, you may ask why that was even an option. I have asked myself the same question over and over but alas, I have no good answer other than chalking it up to another momentary lapse of good judgement....which seems to not be so momentary, having started last week when I told the kids they could choose to play with whatever they wanted while I ran on the treadmill and about 10 minutes in Madeline came to tell me Lily needed help with the glue bottle, because it was empty now....and I soon discovered that in that very brief time, she had managed to empty an entire new bottle of white school glue all over two bookshelves stacked with giant legos in between...."Look mom, we made a lego sandwich!" After cleaning up, I told them to choose something for which they would NOT get in trouble and after 5 more minutes, Aidan came running in covered head-to-toe in the entire box of band-aids we had just bought at the store....."Mom, I'm a mummy," he says, as if this would be a get-in-trouble-free-activity. So you see, this lapse of judgement thing is apparently chronic....and a wee bit genetic...

At any rate, Kurt had come home early this afternoon with fever and chills and so I was able to set off for the store leaving Aidan behind, playing computer games and keeping watch of Lily, who, having lost all access to the art room FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE due to her stylish wall and furniture artwork earlier in the day, was bound to abide by house rules the rest of the day. (I said it was chronic did I not?)

At the store, Madeline became uncharacteristically devilish, biting or pinching Liam every time I turned around, apparently thrilled at her new found power. (How exciting to get THAT kind of reaction from such a tiny creature!) After threatening to shave off her hair, force her to grow long, curling fingernails (like those in the Guiness Book of Records which she is certain to have nightmares about tonight), and worse yet, refusing to let her eat any of the cake if she touched him again, we finally had everything we needed. At that point, I turned around and saw the boxed cake mixes on sale for $1. As a veteran mom, I knew the best thing to do for myself and my family was to put everything back and grab a box. But no. I was now a mom on a mission to bake the perfect 1st-day-of-school-cake from scratch....with 4 kids...and a sick husband....at dinnertime.

We arrived back home at 4:15. This is the normal time for me to prepare dinner so that we can eat around 5. Since Kurt was not feeling well, I decided to forgo making the terriyaki fish over rice with the side of vegetable egg rolls that was on the menu. Given that, I saw no problem with squeezing in the baking of the cake. After all, while it was in the oven, I would have plenty of time to put together the homemade buttercream frosting and still get dinner made while waiting for the cake to cool down before the decorating....right?

It was about the time I got the first phone call from Kurt, who was down in the basement and needed me to bring him more covers ("Karen, I feel like it is 10 degrees down here!"....um, because it is about that down there....) that I knew things might not go as planned. And then, when I started making the frosting and realized my box of powdered sugar was all but empty and the cake was cooking too fast on the top, and Lily came running over asking me to help her "scrape off the black stuff from the house" (not a promising sentence really); and after turning off the blender and taking the sizzling chicken off the stove, I followed her over to find that she and Liam had been digging in our potted hibiscus tree and Liam was eating the soil from the pile he was sitting in on the hardwood floor, and as I was cleaning it up, my self-proclaimed fifth child called to ask if the cake was ready yet, and would I mind bringing him something to eat and some hot tea and...oh shoot, the cake!...AHHHHHHHHHHH!

But I learned some very important lessons today. I found out you can make your own powdered sugar by blending it for a very long time. But no matter how long you blend it, it is still TOO gritty for frosting...but if you add an entire pint of whipping cream, you can kind of fix the texture....but then it doesn't quite taste right....at all....and the fat kind of sticks to the roof of your mouth indefinitely... And I also learned that you can't really fix a cake that gets crusted on top and bottom because the oven cooks too hot...and too long because of the baby eating soil. And that my kids would have been perfectly happy just squeezing big clumps of blue store-bought decorating icing over their ice cream, skipping the spongy, yet crusted, cake altogether. And that two boneless, skinless chicken tenders is enough chicken for all four kids, plus some, when they know they are getting cake later.

And even though it was pretty much a travesty of a cake, they actually ate it....Madeline said she loved everything but the crust, and shoot, Lily went as far as licking the frosting off the floor after having accidentally dropped her entire plateful of cake....when falling out of her chair, that came down on top of her....you know, because that's what kids do.

And as for Aidan, he had seconds...of the ice cream anyway...and I think, when my back was turned of course, he may have finished up the entire bottle of blue decorating icing. So, he might find out tomorrow just what blue food coloring can do to a person...which will make his second day of school just as memorable as the first. Hee hee hee!