Free Comic Book Day

We attended this fabulous event at Daddy’s local comic book store the first weekend of May. And considering that the annual giveaway entails waiting in line on a sidewalk in a strip-mall parking lot for hours on end, amazingly, the jaunt was a smashing success!

We were particularly impressed with Zeke, who was the trouble-maker on the previous family outing. Sure, we understand he’s going through the throes of the terrible twos, and that his strong-willed spirit has served him well in life — certainly helping him survive TTTS, the NICU and CCAM surgery, and deal with an umbilical hernia, acid reflux and now asthma — but tantrums suck and have to be dealt with in productive ways. So, I pick and choose my battles with the contrarian, and always have to plan ahead for outings, notably those with the whole clan.

First crush: Zeke & Wonder Woman bond @ Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 7.

Having brought two cars to the event helped to take some pressure off. And then the presence of an attractive Wonder Woman, who seemed to be immediately fond of the 3 Amigos, didn’t hurt in setting the day’s mood either. In fact, “Woman,” as Zeke lovingly refers to her, had a special thing for Z-Bird.

There was even this humorous moment toward the end of the boys’ three-hour stint when WW checked in on the boys, and an exhausted Zeke gave an eye-level stare at her thigh while standing and then a fatigued gaze at her breast as she held him. Obviously, this interplay provided much comedy for the nearby comic geeks.

As far as the other 2 Amigos go, Houston was shy at first and a bit overwhelmed by the super-hero aura. Gabriel was awestruck, as well, but was also a tad whiney and needy. The fact that we stood in line with the Hydes and that the boys were able to play with Matthew and Jonathan helped to pass the time and keep the kids’ unruly behavior at bay. Thank goodness for friends and super-heroes.

Not only did we have happy children that day, we had a happy Daddy. I took the boys home in our “escape car,” so Daddy could stay to score some cool sketches and autographs, as well as spend some time with Auntie Merdy and Uncle Greg.

The nicest Captain America ever shares his shield w/ the 3 Amigos.

Unfortunately, the day following our comic-book merriment, sickness again infested our home. By the evening, the kids had slightly red, goopy eyes. But because the symptoms weren’t that acute, I chocked it up to seasonal allergies and not something serious. We did our normal routine the first part of the week. But by Wednesday, the kids’ eyes had worsened, and both Gabriel and Zeke had intermittent fevers throughout the day, so it was apparent we should institute a self-quarantine.

That night, the boys awoke to the frightening realization that they were unable to open their eyelids because of encrusted sappy secretions. Poor Gabe, both of his eyes were sealed. To top it off, Zeke had a temperature more than 104°. Tylenol brought it down, but it was obvious this ailment was getting worse, not better.

The next morning, Stephen called our inept pediatrician and explained the fevers and eye conditions, to which he queried, “And what would you like me to do about it?” Yeah, we’ll be finding a new pediatrician really soon. Luckily, not all the docs in our area are that lame, and we were able to go see a great physician at our frequented trusty-worthy family medicine practice.

Turns out, that the kids indeed had pinkeye, and Gabriel and Zeke have ear infections in both ears to boot. Dr. Sharon prescribed eye drops, which almost immediately cleared up the nasty and annoying symptoms of the pinkeye. She also put Gabe and Zeke on strong antibiotics, which took a few days to start working, but have now (along with a regimen of Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen) done away with their ear pain and high fevers. Thank God for modern medicine and docs who actually give a hoot about their patients.

“Super-Mom-Super-Wife-Super Tired” Girl & Green Lantern brandish their awesome power rings.

Since the twins have been fever-free since Saturday and the pinkeye will no longer be communicable after five days, we are set to get back to our fun-filled schedule as of tomorrow, and just keep on trying our best to get and stay healthy. Even though it seems as if there’s always some malady lurking around the corner, the doc encouraged us by saying that these viruses and infections aren’t for naught: each time the kids get sick, they build antibodies that will in turn prevent future illnesses. One can only hope.

So yeah, the bad news for the kids is that they missed out on strawberry picking with Moms Club, a free bluegrass festival, church, and playdate at Matthew and Jonathan’s house. But the good news is that Grumps is feeling good these days, so Granny came to visit last weekend — first time since January! She helped me sanitize the toys and wash a ton of possibly infected laundry, since instances of pinkeye reinfection are fairly common.

Granny also gave us a break on the parenting front. I finally dyed my hair and went for a haircut, and then got my 90-minute massage. Very nice. Stephen caught up on sleep, since his sinus infection has worsened as of late. Thanks a million, Granny!

“Hot Guy” Spidey thrills the kids w/ his appearance. (Check out the sketch this stoner got artist Ryan Dunlavey to draw for him.)

Miscellaneous happenings, random thoughts:

  • As if my hectic life weren’t enough, I received a summons for jury duty. I’m going to request an excusal, but if I don’t get it, I’ll just wear my Fair Tax button on my Ron Paul t-shirt while carrying my messenger bag that features a “Don’t Tread on Me” patch to the jury assembly room. That should get me recused, for sure.
  • We had “Christmas In May” today. I gave into Houston’s occasional pleading for holiday entertainment. We watched “Rudolph” and “The Grinch,” and read “Frosty the Snowman.”
  • Zeke’s obstinate behavior has even shone through for Miss Pat our last couple times at speech therapy, but Gabriel has totally made up for it. He recently mastered Who, What, When and Where questions with much depth and detail. Pat said that this was not only a milestone for Gabe, but that it’s also pretty advanced for his age.
  • Miss Lorrie and I have taken the boys swimming at the Y twice now. All have improved in just two aquatic outings, exhibiting greater skill, comfort and bravery by the second lesson. I also made the mistake first time around of getting them all cleaned up in the family locker post-swim. Way too crazy. Now I just dry ’em off and load ’em up. Much smarter.
  • In late April, I went to another doc to try to tackle my sinus infection, which is still lingering a bit. In addition to some helpful meds, I also got a physical and some blood work done to rule out that anything major might be wrong. After all, I’ve been extremely ill four times this year. But I’m fine, thankfully, other than some slightly elevated lipids.
  • All the boys love to chant and sing, and even make up their own songs. Zeke’s recent creation is a lilting “Going up, going down, going up, going down.” Quite a lovely ditty.
  • Driving around with the boys is a chatter-infused adventure. These are some recent musings of the twins: “Look, Mommy, McDonald’s … Taco Bell … Wendy’s … Happy Easter, church … Mom’s Club church (where we have our monthly socials) … pretty house … hiking trail … firemen … apple store (Lowe’s Foods) … lion store (Food Lion) … lake … flags.”

Houston proudly poses w/ one of his favorite Marvel anti-heroes, Deadpool. (Click this pic to see all the photos.)

  • Houston, on the other hand, is a total backseat driver. He already knows about right turn on red, yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, speed limits, passing in the lefthand lane and a variety of other driving-related rules. I bet he knows more motor vehicle laws than your average driver.
  • Speaking of driving, getting stuck behind a Prius, especially when motoring uphill, totally sucks. What doesn’t suck is the Foo Fighters’ new CD, Wasting Light. Absolutely awesome.

Early May milestones

  • Both Gabriel and Zeke finally figured out how to climb out of their cribs. Needless to say, the bedtime shenanigans (especially considering that Houston is also sleeping in the twins’ room now) are at an all-time high. It is not uncommon to put them down in their own beds and find them all piled on top of one another in a single crib later. Wake-up time has become a new adventure, as well.
  • Houston put on his socks and shoes for the first time all by himself. He is surely no master at the task as of yet, but he loves to try.
  • Houston experienced his first real fight. Two boys at a playdate allegedly ganged up on him and one bit his finger. They said he started it and he said they did, further justifying himself by adding, “But Mommy, I was defending myself.” All is well amongst the dudes now, but it was definitely a teachable moment.
  • Big bro has also taken to heading up the twins’ potty training. He is always encouraging them, showing them the ropes and just being such a positive force. I even woke up one morning to find that Houston had gotten Gabe on the little potty, while he went on the big potty. Now why Gabe was totally nude is still unclear. Zany boys.

If Only Every Day Were Mom’s Day

I had a fabulous Mother’s Day due to the kindness and generosity of my phenomenal family … thanks, dudes! 🙂

The day kicked off with a big, fat nap — one of my favorite things in the world these days. Stephen tended to the kids all morning long and then awakened me with a fantastic “Happy Mother’s Day” chant, with spastic 3-Amigo accompaniment, of course. The boys jumped in the sack and lovingly attacked me, putting into action their best wrestling moves, and Zeke even treated me to one of his current specialties: loud, slobbery raspberries on the belly.

Team Dillingham raises $500-plus for March For Babies … thanks for the donations!

Then Stephen surprised me with a gift certificate for an hour-long spa massage and took the clan out for a Mexican dinner, which included not only delicious food, but also pretty well-mannered boys. A mom sure can’t ask for much more than that.

In fact, the weekend was great all around. On Saturday, Free Comic Book Day was a smashing success. I’ll have more details about that wonderful event once I deal with the pics, but suffice it to say that it was a complete 180 from our disastrous family outing the previous weekend: March For Babies.

I had been raising money for the March of Dimes charitable walk for a few months and had exceeded my $500 goal, so the family was looking forward to the culmination of our fundraising efforts and participating in the final event. It started off great, with the boys cheering “March For Babies” on the drive downtown, free doughnuts and drinks at check-in, access to the concourse overlooking our city’s awesome minor-league ballpark, and the kids having fun playing at the stadium’s playground.

Cousin David assists Zeke in hunting Easter eggs @ Gramsey & Papa’s house.

Things went south about a half mile into it when Zeke decided that riding in our red wagon just wouldn’t do; instead, he wanted to be carried by Mommy. Obviously, carrying a 35-pound kid on a 5k trek wasn’t feasible, but no amount of urging, reassuring or disciplining would change his stubborn-as-a-mule mind. Once the tantrum of Zeke “the Mean Streak” (his current moniker, which is quite unfortunate, but all too often appropriate) erupted in full force, we had to head back to the car, missing out on the rest of the walk, seeing our friends at the GMOM spirit station, and all the post-march fun, food and entertainment.

Who knows if Zeke was tired, hot, hungry, mad, sad, sick, vying for special parental attention or what, but we have decided to take two cars to all family outings henceforth, if logistically possible. That way, the troublemaker can be removed from the situation and punished immediately, and those who are well-behaved are rewarded with continued good times, instead of being forced to suffer the consequences of the lone agitator.

Luckily, good behavior abounded during the boys-only weekend, when I was up in Virginia in early April and Daddy had the kids by himself. After a rainy Saturday of blankie forts, movies, video games, books and action-figure fights, Stephen took the kids to on an Easter egg hunt at park on Sunday. The event featured real hard-boiled eggs and live children’s music.

Gabriel & Houston share their candy w/ a baby @ the Mom’s Club Easter Egg Hunt.

Later in the month, the boys went on the Moms Club egg hunt, but this time, the eggs were candy-filled plastic eggs. Considering that they were chanting “chocolate bunnies” before the search even began, I think this was a welcome variation to the seasonal activity.

There was a third egg hunt during our family trip to Virginia. Aunties Lisa and Dina, Lisa’s rockin’ fiance Albert, and cousins Kara, Meredith and David came out to Gramsey and Papa’s to see the kids. The 3 Amigos were treated to yet more candy and also participated in water-gun fights, light-saber battles and happy hikes in the pasture.

The day before was Kara’s 9th birthday bash. The Sponge Bob-themed party featured painting, pigging out and pinatas. The boys had a ball being part of cool-cousin Kara’s special occasion; she is, after all, one of their favorite people on the planet.

Gabriel does his best punk-rocker while painting @ cousin Kara’s birthday party.

However, poor Zeke puked his guts out en route back to Gramsey’s house, giving me horrifying flashbacks of his incessant infant vomiting, before his acid reflux was diagnosed and treated. At the time, we weren’t sure if it was caused by the mass amount of junk food he consumed at the party or if his Prevacid wasn’t fully back in his system yet, since our recent attempt to get him off the meds was unsuccessful.

In retrospect, Zeke’s hurling was probably due to the fact that the whole family came down with yet another stomach bug over the next few days after Kara’s party. In fact, Stephen and I were supposed to go out for a hometown get-together that evening with some of my oldest and dearest friends, but I was so exhausted that I had to cancel our plans, which had been in the works for months. (Sorry, CC Brew Crew girls!)

It was the next night on our drive back home that I started feeling achey, and by the following morning, I was sick as a dog and eventually spread the illness to my sweet babies and hubby. We went to the doc that Tuesday and, fortunately, tested negative for strep, but all the doc advised was “eat lightly, stay hydrated and the virus will pass within 48 hours.”

Zeke tries to get the attention of Axl, a male tiger @ the Natural Science Center.

Sure, she was right about that particular ailment, but our medical misfortune continued and our stomach bug soon morphed into a horrible, family-wide sinus infection. I suppose our immune systems were so run down that we were perfect victims for the next sickness. That week was a trying and turbulent one, for sure.

Since the kids and I had not left the house for what seemed like an eternity and we thought we were on the road to recovery, we decided to spend Easter at Granny and Grumps’ house. Sadly, that weekend turned out to be the height of sickness, especially for Houston and me. We had violent coughs, sparse appetites, scratchy throats, high-pressure headaches, clogged ears, stuffed-yet-runny noses, no sense of smell, major fatigue, etc., and all of our over-the-counter remedies did squat.

Despite the prevailing sickness, we still managed to have some mirth and merriment, including eating Easter breakfast and attending the sermon at Granny’s church; visiting with Aunt Naomi, Uncle Clay, Uncle Tommy, and cousins Terri and Peggy; playing on Clay’s tractor and in his old barn; checking out Terri’s fresh-caught trout and worm bait, and going on 4-wheeler rides with Clay.

Houston tweaks his firearms skills while fighting off bad guys.

We also went for a joy ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The section we drove on had quite a few tunnels, which delighted the kids and inevitably led to them belting out “more tunnels” chants. Other than my getting car sick when riding in the rear of the van (thanks for letting me have the front seat, Granny!) and almost puking over the edge of an mountainous overlook, it was the perfect way to spend a gorgeous Easter afternoon.

But the best part of our Easter weekend — besides celebrating the resurrection of Christ, of course — was the fact that our dear old Grumps looks fantastic. We are encouraged about his new, healthier outlook and happier attitude, and we will continue to pray for his improved wellness. Take care of yourself, Grumps … we love you!

There’s lots more news, but since it’s late and this blog is already long, I’m calling it quits for now. My hope is to get the amusing Free Comic Book Day photos done and to post another blog by week’s end. In the meantime, click each of the five pics seen here to check out our April happenings. You can also see a few of Miss Beth’s blurry-but-fun shots from Matthew’s birthday party in March.