Wednesday, July 31, 2013


They're Johnny's new obsession. Trains. It's not even a question. Trains. They're Johnny's new passion ... Okay, I'll stop there for anyone not familiar with late 90's Aerosmith...

Anyway! For Christmas, John and I gave the boys a big wooden train set. At the time, they were mildly interested. John and I would build tracks, the boys would run trains on them, and then they'd tear them down. The tearing down, of course, was the best part.

Then, suddenly, Johnny started building the most elaborate train tracks. Kind of out of nowhere. He figured out how to make elevated tracks and would loop them through each other and around in all kinds of configurations.
Just for the record, the track on top is John's.

I don't have a lot of pictures of his tracks because he tends to tear them down as quickly as he builds them. Just believe me when I say he makes some cool ones.

With this new obsession, we have spent a good chunk of time in the last few months watching trains. One of our favorite spots is in Cardiff, right by the Cardiff Kook because there's a beach we can visit for Hank to enjoy throwing sand and our parking spot is in view of the Coaster trains that go by. AND, big bonus, we can see the railroad crossing sign and "sticks", as the boys call them, which may be Johnny's favorite part of watching trains. We also went to the train station in Hampton Bays quite a few times when we were on the east coast to get a fix. And now one of Johnny's favorite places is the trolley station, where we can see about two trains every fifteen minutes. Much more satisfying than in Cardiff, where they come by about every 45 minutes.

We also went to Old Poway Park a couple of weekends ago and brought Grandma, Jack, and Aunt Leslie along to enjoy riding the old steam locomotive there. It runs on the weekends and goes twice around its little track through the park. The boys adored it.

Johnny too excited to smile
Hank and Jack reserving judgement.
Johnny doing his imitation of the sticks at a railroad crossing.
Now we have a game that we play at the park, where Johnny will say "Here comes the Johnny train!" And I have to put my arms up and say "DING DING DING!" so that it is safe for the Johnny train to go down the ladder/slide/bridge/whatever is the track at that moment. Of course, the Hank train comes to play at some point, too. It's pretty cute. And not a bad workout for my arms.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The time Johnny let John cut his hair. And he wasn't sleeping.

Johnny hates to have his hair cut. Abhors it. Loathes it. Is absolutely terrified of it. The last time we took him to get his hair cut, we went to a place that specializes in children's cuts. They have cool chairs to sit in, videos to choose from, and screens your children get to stare at while the stylist works their magic. We figured if anything was going to work to get Johnny to calm down during a hair cut, it would be this place.


He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. And SCREAMED.

I'm not talking a "Hey! I LIKE my hair! What are you doing to it?" scream. It was more like a "OH MY GOD!!! You're trying to take my arm off! And this is terrifying! Is that a butcher knife??? How could you DO this to me?!?!?!" kind of scream. John had to physically hold him down (after we were moved to the back room so we wouldn't terrify the other patrons) to get the cut done.

It was awful.

Anyone who has grown children says to cherish every moment because childhood goes too fast, but then when my boy's hair gets a little long those same people will tell say, "Wow, he needs a hair cut!"... even AFTER I tell them the haircut story. Well, I decided that life is too short to fight with my children over the length of their hair. I'd rather fight the no-peeing-in-the-house battle. Or the stop-hitting-your-brother battle. I'm completely over the society-says-your-hair-should-be-short-so-I'm-cutting-it battle.

But that doesn't mean I don't like his hair to be short. It's cooler. I don't have to wash it as often. And Hank can't pull it.

So John found a way to get Johnny to cut his hair voluntarily. And all it cost John was his beard and mustache.

He took his job VERY seriously.
Not bad, Johnny. Not bad.
Johnny is obsessed with cutting off John's mustache, so John was able to turn that into a deal. He cuts Johnny's hair, then Johnny gets to cut off John's mustache. And, obviously, it worked. Johnny stayed still the whole time, didn't balk at the clippers and followed all of John's instructions.
His hair - after shearing
Now John is growing his back beard because Hank needs a haircut. :) What a man.

Friday, July 19, 2013

East Coast Trip: Part Two

I left off with John in the Southampton Hospital.

Let me back it up to 2am Saturday morning. John wakes up with wrenching pain in his abdomen. Pain so horrible that he can't get back to sleep and can't find a single comfortable position. Naturally, he thinks it's because he has overeaten (which he has) and that it will pass. Finally, about 9am, John asks me to take him to the hospital because the pain is just getting worse. And when my husband, John J. Durso, is insisting on going to the hospital, you just take him to the damn hospital.

So I left the boys with all of their doting relatives and drove off with John. In Long Island, where I've never driven. Driving a rental car I'm not supposed to be driving. Totally panicked by my husband being in such intense pain. Oh, and pregnant/hormonal to boot. That was probably a good recipe for disaster right there, but by some miracle, we arrived at Southampton Hospital having made only a few wrong turns (GPS coverage is a little patchy in places) and John was ushered into the ER in a wheelchair, convinced he was going to die of stomach pain.

Eventually, he was dosed with some morphine and something else a little stronger and he was able to relax a little bit. The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent getting a CAT scan, an X-Ray and just passing the time.

Finally, we got a diagnosis of a partial bowel obstruction (a diagnosis John's aunt and uncle [renowned physicians] concurred with). Now, unless you've actually experienced a bowel obstruction or have seen someone suffering from one, it sounds kind of... innocuous. "Oh? You mean you just haven't crapped in a while? Wow. Can't you just, like, take some Metamucil for that?" I now kind of understand what John went through while I was in labor with Hank. Only labor contractions actually let up every now and then while the bowel obstruction pressure and pain just multiply with time.

Yes, I just compared John's pain to labor. It was that awful.

And thus began John's four-day stay in Southampton Hospital, soaking up all of the "hospital"ity they had to offer (who says you can't find humor in these situations?). Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that after his diagnosis came through, they shoved a large tube up his nose and down his esophagus (twice, because the first tube was the wrong size) into his stomach to drain the contents and relieve the pressure on top of the obstruction. I know. It "sucked". (I just can't stop.) But you know what was worse? It was in there for THREE FREAKING DAYS. He had to talk with it, sleep with it, eat the occasional ice chip with it (he wasn't allowed to eat for obvious reasons) and if he wanted to use the bathroom or walk the ward, he had to get a nurse to unhook his tube from suction so he could walk around.

People, it was no walk in the park.

In the meantime, while he was getting better, we had to cancel our tickets for our flight home that Monday. Luckily, though, my mother-in-law and father-in-law were able to stay so we could take turns watching the boys and keeping John company. I can't imagine what a misery it would have been if they weren't there. Dealing with two small children in an unfamiliar place with a hospitalized husband by myself? I might have returned to San Diego needing a lobotomy. 

On Tuesday, John was allowed to eat clear fluids like broth, Jell-O, lemon ice, etc and when he kept that down, he moved on to harder-to-digest foods like oatmeal and an egg burrito. He was released Wednesday morning and the boys and I picked him up at the hospital. The boys were ECSTATIC to have their Daddy back.

John's dad was able to make some reservations for a flight that night at 7pm, so we packed up and got the hell out of Dodge. Or Hampton Bays. Whatevs. We got out of there and headed to Newark with smiles on our faces.

The rest is pretty normal. We got to the airport, lugged our stuff around, got on a flight and flew home. The boys did well on the flight, sleeping most of the way because it was pretty late their time (we landed at 1am East Coast time) and were so excited to play with their toys when we got home. Of course, John and I were rather dismayed at their exuberance to play with ALL THE TOYS at midnight, but eventually exhaustion won out and we were all able to get some sleep.

And that's the entirety of our trip. Lots of fun with family and friends, delicious food, some great memories, and then a four-day hospital stay. We certainly know how to hit all the bases on a vacation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

East Coast Trip: Part One

[WARNING: Picture-heavy post]

I was really looking forward to our big trip back east. Even though it involved keeping two toddlers (well, one toddler and one... kid?) occupied for two 5.5 hour flights and all of the shenanigans involved in getting through airports and lugging our two large car seats around, plus being pregnant and more irritable than usual, I was excited to have a change of scenery and a change in routine. Plus, it was the last hoorah for a 4th of July in Long Island at Aunt Rose's house, which has been a Durso tradition for decades (I think, I haven't been around that long).

And most of the trip didn't disappoint.

We started in Connecticut, where John's grandparents live. John's grandfather has been volunteering at the local Maritime Center for lots and lots of years, so he was excited to take us to see it and I was excited to see him in his element and for the boys to experience it. Now, "Maritime Center" is a bit of a misnomer. The word "maritime" would indicate that there are lots of ships and boats and such to walk around to look at. Not so much. See pictures below.

Checking out harbor seals with Daddy
Looking at the harbor seals with Aunt Leslie
Shark cage!
It was a little crazy with all of the summer camps, but that didn't deter Johnny from taking the steering wheel when it freed up.
Why, yes, I AM too young to drive this thing. But what are you going to do about it? I'm too cute to arrest!
Fishing. But the magnetic fishing part at the end was busted.
He still liked it, despite not getting any fish.
Looking at... jellyfish? I think? Maybe shark eggs? I can't remember now.
Dory! And Nemo!
Oh yeah, there were meerkats, too. That's Johnny hanging out in the meerkat exhibit, separated by that acrylic dome so they don't eat his face off.


Johnny is my name, head trauma is my game!
Touching sea creatures. I think this was a crab.
Sadly, I didn't realize until later that I didn't get a single picture of the boys with Grandpa. It was so dark inside and so crowded that I had a hard time getting focused pictures and it was driving. me. crazy. Thus, I didn't take very many.

After a full day at the Maritime Center, the boys passed out in the car, so John and I drove to Greenwich and spent time ogling the houses there and looking up their values on Zillow. I know. Nerds.

That night we went to the Battinellis' house for a delicious dinner. Carl Battinelli and my father-in-law are childhood friends and still keep in contact. The stories they tell about their pasts are... well, I kind of hope they tire of telling them before my boys are old enough to understand these stories about the dangerous stuff their grandpa used to do.

Anyway. Carl got out some balls and a couple of bats for the boys to play with and his son, Paul, taught Hank how to swing a bat left-handed. Have I mentioned before that Hank is a south paw? Perhaps not. Well, he does a lot left-handed and batting is one of those things. Luckily, Paul is also a lefty and quite the baseball player, so he gave Hank some lessons. :)

Practicing batting

Paul hitting the balls that Hank pitched to him. Hank wasn't too bad at pitching, actually. Or maybe Paul was just really good at batting.

Then out came the construction vehicles. If you don't know Carl at all, let me tell you, it makes perfect sense that he would have a backhoe in his yard and would be perfectly okay with letting my kids dig a four foot hole on his property.
Hank concentrating hard on Carl's instructions on which lever to push and pull.

Cousin Jack looking on. The poor guy wasn't feeling very well, so he passed on the backhoe.
And the Johnny even wanted to try!

Look at that face! He was stoked.
 Then we went back to our hotel. Stuffed, mosquito-bitten, and delightfully happy with our busy day. And that was only day one.

The next day we woke up in our nice, dark, comfy, climate-controlled hotel room and made the drive out to Long Island.

The next three days were a blur of family, food, and beach time.
Throwing rocks into the bay with Daddy and Grandpa
Pacific boys on the Atlantic coast. Kind of. It's actually a bay.

Jack watching the shenanigans in the water.

The rest of the fam chilling on the beach. Kind of. More like baking. It was HOT.
Johnny and cousin Alison

Celebrating America's birthday. No, Hank isn't wearing pants.
Aunt Patty teaching the boys to chant "USA! USA! USA!"
This is Evan. The boys LOVED him.
Crazy cousins.

Trying a raw clam for the first time.
And gobbling it up!
Hank's turn for a clam...

Seems okay with it though.
This ramp/entrance to the basement saw a LOT of use. It was a slide, a ramp to race cars, a drum, a ramp to roll balls down, etc. It's the little things, right?

Cousin Joe. Another favorite of the boys.
Daddy all sunburned from a day of clamming and too much beach time.
Hank and cousin Emily. Ain't she purdy?
"Hand stacking" with Uncle Bobby and Grandpa.
They were hysterical over it.
Seriously, we had so much fun. The boys were in pretty great moods overall and by the end of our trip, they were well-acquainted with everyone in the family. They knew everyone's name and had laughed at all the antics directed their way. It was so wonderful to see John's family members interacting with the boys and even better to the boys grow to love all of John's family members. Complete heart melt. I did take a lot of pictures, but missed lots of photo ops because I was too busy enjoying myself. I think that's a good indication, yes?

The boys really liked being so close to the beach (only a block away) and having so many people available to shower them with attention. The yard was huge, so they hit balls with bats, blew bubbles, drew with chalk and when all that failed, they jumped on the air mattresses in the tents. :) See, the basement (where people usually sleep) is now so heavily scented with mildew that a majority of folks opted to sleep outside in tents. John was lucky enough to get a tent and some mattresses brought for him by family so he and Johnny could have a place to sleep. As one of the pregnant ladies present, I was reserved a room inside, on one of the "newer" mattresses. Yes, it was hot and sticky, since there wasn't any A/C, but on the whole, I had no problems sleeping. Hank and I were so exhausted by the end of the day that we would both collapse in bed and sleep solid until morning. With the occasional tug on my hair from Hank. As you do.

Then on Saturday, this happened:
That's John in the ER of Southampton Hospital. Because no trip is complete without a hospital stay. Since this post is really long and picture-ridden already, I'll stop it here and finish up with the whole hospital story. John is fine and everything turned out okay, but I'd like to leave this post as a happy one and make the next one the cynical, angry one. :)