It has become clear that we should never, ever leave our home again for any extended period of time. We quickly discovered, upon our return, that our cat, Gracie, and indeed, even the house itself so mourned our absence that they felt the need to express their great displeasure in the form of destructive acts.
As smelly as Gracie's attempt was, however (two gifts of poo on the living room rug), its long-term effects pale in comparison to what we're still dealing with regarding the basement.
Having finally called in an HVAC repairman to look at our system, we have learned today that the humidifier attached to the heating system had a poorly installed, improperly-sized, beat-up water panel. In addition, the hose leading to said panel was not securely positioned or attached. The result? When the humidifier really kicked into gear (which, of course, did not happen until we had vacated the premises for a week), the panel got waterlogged, and excess water spilled all over the floor. The area of the basement that houses the HVAC is unfinished, but on the other side of the wall from it lies the playroom, office, and a nice expanse of wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpeting that is now increasingly attaining a rather unpleasant smell, and some small, but damning, amount of mold/mildew, as we've futilely attempted to get it dry over the past few days.
To top it off, the portable dehumidifier that we use for summer months has chosen this moment to crap out on us, too. We've had it running since we came home to help with the drying efforts, only to discover today (after forgetting up until this point to empty the thing out) that the water tank was nearly dry. It appears that the filter inside has become clogged, the back has iced up, and it likely ceased to pull any water from the air (or rug) days ago.
Thankfully, the kids, at least, have made a relatively smooth transition home. The first night was miraculous- they both slept completely through. The next few have been a little hit-and-miss, as we've had some uncharacteristic (prior to traveling) wakings here and there, but nothing worse than what we might expect to have on a random difficult night during the normal course of things.
All this, despite the fact that we finally weaned Michael off of Zantac over the holidays. We tried to do it once before, and delayed the attempt due to the fact that it was difficult to tell in the mist of teething whether his intermittent discomfort was due to that or to reflux. Since then, we've had him on a lower dose than before, but we continued to put it in bottles two to three times a day. Somewhere in the middle of last week, however, due to the craziness of the holidays and being away from home, we ceased to put it in any bottles at all, and Michael has done quite well without it. I have noticed that he now spits up once or twice a day, but seems otherwise comfortable, so we're hoping he's truly past his reflux troubles, now.
He's still teething, unfortunately- it never seems to end with him- but he's having a much easier time with these lateral incisors than he did with the central ones. Right now he's working on the right upper and lower lateral incisors. Though the upper one has been making its presence known for a couple of weeks now, it's taking its time about coming through, so I'm starting to suspect that the lower one will break through first, in the end.
Interestingly, our return home has not put a damper on his new found interests in standing and eating. I wasn't sure if, in the midst of so many changes, he might not be set back for a little while. Not my little guy. He's been standing up in the middle of the floor at various times, using very little to support his efforts, several times a day for the last two days. Yesterday, he even reached out to approach me. Unfortunately, he forgot to move his feet as he did so, and ended up lunging forward instead of taking a step. Today, he seems to be attempting to set records for how long he can stand unassisted before dropping back to the floor. He's also been using every vocal sound he has at his disposal, and every hand motion he knows, to implore us to give him some of whatever we are munching on. Today, alone, he's chowed down on some grilled cheese, some croissant, and some chick peas in addition to his usual fare of corn or rice Chex and bread. Last night, he ate an impressive amount of roasted chicken.
And sweet little Abby. She's been a bit more tantrum-prone as she adjusts to having just Mommy, Daddy and Michael to entertain her. But she's still thoroughly caught up in the Christmas spirit, and regales us with her favorite seasonal tunes on a daily basis. Not a day goes by that I don't hear some part of Frosty the Snowman, All I Want for Christmas is You, Hark the Herald Angels Sing (just the Gloria part) and Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart (still not sure why she took a liking to that last one- I've never actually sung it to her or anything- it's just one of many that she's heard over the radio in the car). The best is when she puts her own spin on the lyrics, though. Two or three times today, I've overheard her cute baby voicing trilling, "All I want for Christmas is Abby.... ooh, Baby!"
My biggest laugh of the day, courtesy of Abby, came this afternoon. Tom was telling me all about something funny he'd seen on Reddit, a picture of a five-year-old with their upper body hidden behind a sofa pillow but legs still clearly visible titled How My Son Plays Hide-and-Seek. He used Abby to demonstrate. Some time later, after Tom had left the living room, I was alone in the room with the kids and heard Abby rustling around on the other side of the sofa. I stepped over the gate for a moment to get something, and when I returned, realized that Abby must still be in that corner of the room, because I could not see her from where I stood. Somewhat alarmed, and beginning to wonder what in the world she could still be up to over there, I rushed across the room to where I could see her. This is what I found:
"What are you doing, silly monkey?" I asked.
"Abby hiding Michael!"
I could be wrong, but I think she meant to say hiding from Michael, as he was clear across the room from her. I also think she got the hiding concept down better than that sweet little five-year-old. But, I must admit to quite a bit of bias, here. I am her Mommy, after all.