Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wow, you want to talk about behind? It is the day before Christmas and I still have gifts to wrap, and a present to finish making. Then, there are the hundreds of blog posts in my head from the last week! But, I did promise Jonny's Mommy a link. See, a while back she wrote this post, about Christmas newsletters. She said that if she were to write one this year, that it would just say, "We did the same boring, mundane stuff we did last year". That was when the light bulb popped out above my head, and out came my Christmas card for this year. After all, we like our Christmas cards to be... original. (Click on it to make it bigger - the background is blue - don't know what's up with that).


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dylanisms

Dylan has been cracking me up this week. He has so much to say, and a lot of the time, I have no idea what the string of words he has just spouted out with enthusiasm means. Usually I understand the last word or two, and I piece the rest together. Sometimes, though, what he says is perfectly clear. Like yesterday, when I asked him, "Would you like to go to the library?"
He said in the funniest little voice, "Oh! THAT would be nice!" (with his voice going higher at the end of "nice")

Oh, and when I asked him what he wants for Christmas, he didn't even need to think about it.
"Milk, and a do-ey!" Oh crap, I thought. I have to field the requests for a dog already? We already have a cat I don't want.
"Dylan, you want milk, and a doggy?"
"No, milk and a do-ey!"
I was actually relieved when I discovered he was saying "donkey". He wants milk and a donkey for Christmas?!

We Need More Money

As you know, I've been a bit obsessed with our finances lately. Being the person in charge of our finances, I get to live in a slightly panicked, slightly depressed state, while Jim gets to go about in blissful ignorance for the most part.

I decided that it was time to turn the focus outward, and start thinking of others for a change. Many, many people have it far worse than we do. I decided to use this can that we have, covered with a design that Jim made.



I thought it would be fun to have Dylan put all our spare change into the can, which is also a bank, for the month of December. Then, at the end of the month, Dylan and I will go to Giant Eagle and buy groceries with the money we accumulate, and give them to a local food drive. I explained this to Dylan, as simply as I could. Then, I got out some spare change, and let him put it in the bank. When we were finished, he immediately said, "More, Mommy!" I explained, "That is all I have. We'll see if Daddy has some when he gets home".

That was the beginning of last week. One day, when Jim got home from work, Dylan greeted him at the door with, "Where the money?" He then proceeded to frisk him. He stuck his hands in Jim's pockets, exclaiming, "We Need More Money!" I've created a monster. Yea, this plan to forget about our lack of finances is not exactly going well with my kid greeting everyone who comes to our door with, "We Need More Money"!! Yesterday, I was talking to Jim on the phone, and Dylan grabbed the phone, to shout at his dad, "We Need More Money"!! That should get Jim's mind off our finances, also. Great plan, Jen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guilt Can Be Good

I just read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, JCK, over at Motherscribe. You know a post is good when you keep thinking about it, long after reading it. This was one of those posts. In it, she talks about a conversation she had with a mother, who was beating herself up about losing her patience, and yelling at her daughter on her birthday. JCK felt that she was being way too hard on herself. In the post, she reminds all of us that we are human, and therefore not perfect. She tells us not to strive for the unattainable goal of perfection.

At first, after I read the post, I found myself nodding, and getting ready to leave a comment. Something along the lines of, "So true! You are so right!" But, the more I thought about it, the more I had to say. I needed to say something a little longer than a comment.

I know I am not perfect. No, I am not a perfect mom, but you know what? I'm a damn good one. That's right, I said it. There are many things I'm terrible at, and many things I'm not so good at, but I know I am good at that. That is something that bothers me about most women I know - the constant need to put ourselves down. We shouldn't boast, or come across as too high and mighty, but what about giving credit where credit is due? Being a mother is a hard job - the hardest job I know of. But, that's just it.

I think that it is the moms who get the enormity of this job, that feel the guilt. We feel the guilt because we realize that we are in charge of a human life. We must nurture their bodies, their minds, and their spirits. We must keep them safe in a scary world. We are their foundation. What an amazing responsibility! It is the most important thing we will ever do, and we want to do it to the best of our ability.

I admit, there are times that I chase that unattainable goal of perfection. I want my house to be perfect when those other mothers bring their children over for a play date. I want my child to be looking adorable when we go to that birthday party. I want to look cool, calm, and collected, when many times I am feeling anything but. I think that is where we, as mothers, go wrong. We are so busy trying to look perfect to those around us, that we are exhausting ourselves. Not to mention that it's ridiculous. We are all in this club of motherhood together. We should be able to say, "You know what? I'm tired. I'm stressed. My house is a wreck, my laundry is piling up, and I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs". That's real.

As JCK said, we are only human, and we will make mistakes - many of them. But the mothers who lose their patience and don't feel a bit guilty after yelling at their kids (when they didn't deserve it), are probably not the good ones. Guilt is not always a bad thing. Striving for perfection is fruitless, but striving to be the best mom we can be is admirable. Our children will thank us for it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Year Doctor Visit

We took Dylan for his 2 year old doctor appointment. He used to HATE going there. He would start crying the minute we walked in the door, and not stop until we walked out. But, after I rented "Elmo Goes To The Doctor", and my parents came up with the brilliant plan to get him yogurt after the appointments, (so he'll associate the doctor with something good), he now LOVES going there. (He'll weigh 200lbs, but he won't mind going to the doctor).

As soon as the doctor walked in, Dylan started showing off...if showing off involves an absurd display of hyper activity. He started blabbing away in a crazy string of words, some understandable, some not. When the doctor started discussing his eating habits with us, he loudly stated, "I EAT YOGURT!! One bite! Two bites! Three bites!!" When the doctor started going over the checklist of things he should be doing at age 2, it went like this...

Doc: "Running, Jumping, Hopping...Yes, he's doing all those right now...Says at least 50 words...I think he has said more than that just since I came in the room..." All this while Dylan was doing his crazy half skip/half hop around and around in a circle, all while blabbing loudly about who knows what.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

(Singing) "Christmas time is here! The most wonderful time of the year..." Oh forget it. As usual, I'm just not feeling it. "Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way, we had to cancel Christmas cuz we can't afford to pay, HEY!"

It seems to happen to me every year. I am never ready. It always sneaks up on me - tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe, WHAM! Hey, Christmas, back off a bit, you're in my space. But, Jen, you must decorate the house, put up the tree, hang some lights, buy some gifts, send some cards, bake some cookies, make some Christmas crafts, take the picture for the card, and make it all fun for Dylan! Hey, Christmas, BITE ME, you might want to start being celebrated in, say, February? We don't need that other holiday that month anyway.

As of today, we have a very modest amount of lights outside (done by Jim), one tree with just lights on it (also done by Jim, with some "help" from Dylan), a few decorations on the mantle and piano (done by me, today), and a snowman card holder hung by the door (done by me, today). I had a professional photo shoot scheduled right after Dylan's birthday, but the day before, he woke up with a really red face. It has been that way for the past 3 weeks! (Eczema is no fun).

*I wrote the above portion this morning. I was really hum buggin', but Dylan and I got out of the house. Driving down the road, this song came on...

Singing "SAN-TA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN...BA DUM BA DUM...SAN-TA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN...BA DUM BA DUM..." at the top of your lungs in a really goofy voice until your kid erupts in a giggle fit, helps relieve stress. Go ahead, try it.
(I'm guessing wearing one of those hats would also help).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What's Wrong With My Head?

Sleep has been elusive these days. No, not because of my toddler, which would make sense. I haven't been sleeping because of my other kid - the adult sized one. Something strange happens to the adult sized kid at night. The man who can sometimes be found in a t-shirt, next to his lovely wife who might be wearing three layers, and some gloves, switches bodies with me at night. Not in a kinky way - get your mind out of the gutter. What I mean is, while sleeping, my body temperature suddenly goes sky high, and he is suddenly freezing. It is very weird.

One of the first times I shared a bed with Jim, I had a bad dream. I rolled over, thinking snuggling would possibly help me get back to sleep, and came face to face with a masked man! The man in bed with me had a black knit cap pulled down over his eyes and part of his nose! I almost screamed and grabbed a lamp to smash on his head, but then I recognized the nose and mouth. When I asked Jim the next morning if he was trying to kill me, and explained that he almost got a kick in his privates while sleeping, he laughed! He explained that his head gets really cold at night, since it's not under the covers. I believe I said, "O...kay weirdo".

Another night, early in our relationship, I woke up around 3am, and rolled over to tell Jim he would have to take me to the emergency room. "Jim, there is something wrong with me! My head feels like it is on fire!" Again, he laughed! (Cruel man)
He had a space heater just inches from our heads, turned on full blast.

Somehow, over time, I have become accustomed to the bizarre nightly body switch. But, in the spirit of keeping our marriage interesting, he has added a new trick to the mix. He is now making a very odd noise in the middle of the night. It is a high pitched wheezing/sighing/whining noise that sounds like it couldn't possibly be coming from my husband. Usually when the noise wakes me up, I look over to find his face in the pillow. I lay there cursing silently, and when it doesn't stop, I poke him ever so softly (snort), and tell him to roll over. He does, and then immediately falls back asleep. I do not.

I told him to try one of those strips you put across your nose. That didn't work, of course, because he isn't snoring. Is there a strip for wheezing/sighing/whining I don't know about? Because if not, I'm thinking of making the adult kid sleep in the crib from now on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Remember That Time, With The Blueberries?

Dylan loves blueberries. I mean, he LOVES blueberries. Like, if we filled our pool up with blueberries, he would cannonball himself into the pool, (screaming "Bomb's Away!!!"), and eat his way out. That kind of love. That's great, because blueberries are good for you. That's not so great, because blueberries are expensive! A teeny, tiny container, that Dylan could consume in one sitting, costs $2.99. Considering the fact that he would like to eat them with every meal, that adds up to SON OF A PURPLE HIPPOPOTAMUS WHY IS OUR GROCERY BILL SO HIGH???

It was time for other options. So, I bought a bag of the frozen kind a few weeks ago. If you've bought the frozen variety, you know that they are smaller, and come in a boat load of juice - blueberry juice, of course.

One day, the human garbage can was banging his tray, shouting, "BOOBERRIES!!", so I put some in a bowl, and put them in the microwave to thaw. When I was getting the bowl out, the side of the bowl hit into the microwave door. That is when the blueberry explosion occurred. Blueberries roll, you know. Oh, and did I mention, that our kitchen cabinets, and appliances are white? Did I mention that the floor is a light wood? Yea. Blueberries, and blueberry juice were all over the kitchen.

I somehow managed to scream, "AWW, MAN!!!", instead of the many choice four letter words racing through my brain, and that is what set Dylan off. He laughed. He giggled. He guffawed. He yucked it up for about 20 minutes. Seriously, because I'm pretty sure that is how long it took me to clean it all up. (If you don't have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, run, don't walk to the store and get one).

Just when I thought he was going to pass out, or throw up from laughing so hard, he finally stopped, and asked, "D-D eat blueberries, now?" So, I successfully thawed a second bowl, but I decided to feed them to him, because I couldn't deal with the thought of more blueberries on the floor. Every couple spoonfuls, he would say, "Mommy made a mess!", and crack up. For a couple days, all he had to do was see a blueberry, and he would start laughing.

Last week, I checked out "The Cat In The Hat" DVD from the library. Yes, I know, he should have seen it before he was The Cat in the Hat for Halloween, but whatever. He loved the part where Thing 1 and Thing 2 run around the house making messes. When we were done watching it, he ran over to his toy shelf, and overturned all the bins, dumping the contents on the floor, laughing, "D-D made a mess!"

One day, after watching it, Jim, Dylan, and I went in the playroom. Jim remarked, "This room is a mess!" At first, Dylan tried to pin it on Jim, saying "Daddy did it"! Jim said, "No, who makes messes around here?" Dylan very seriously answered, "D-D does...and Mommy with the blueberries!" Yep, he's still laughing about that. No one else really gets why it is so funny, except the two of us. For some reason, I find the fact that my two year old and I have an inside joke extremely cool.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories

For me, holidays always conjure up memories of years past. I remember myself as a young girl, watching my mom, aunt, and grandma, cooking and laughing in the kitchen. My grandma would grab me as I walked past, and squeeze me to her, saying, "There's my beautiful doll! Give your grandma a kiss!" I would kiss her quickly, then struggle out of her strong grasp, but I loved it.

When I got a bit older, I remember playing pool with my cousins, and trying to beat my grandpa at a game of ping pong. He was hard to beat, and he never let anyone win, so I had to work hard for every point. I remember how good it would make me feel, even when I lost, when he would say, "You played a good game, Jenny".

I remember how I used to complain about having to sit at "the kid table", even though I was a teenager. My cousins and I would laugh and tell each other stories, but I was interested in the conversations going on at "the big table".

We would eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, green beans, jello, and applesauce. Sometimes, my mom would bring something out halfway through the meal, saying, "I forgot to put this out", and we would all groan, and grab our bellies which were straining against our pants. Someone would always say, "I don't think I can eat another bite", but then in just a few hours, mom would be bringing out pie, ice cream, pretzels, and drinks.

I remember playing games after dinner. Sometimes we would play Family Feud, other times, Pictionary. Regardless of what we played, there was lots of noise, and laughter. My grandma was always yelling out answers when she wasn't supposed to, and then she would grin, and say, "Oh, well, I was just helping".

I remember my grandparents, always sitting next to each other, my grandfather's hand frequently resting on her shoulder. She would often turn to him, in the middle of a story, to ask, "Right, Ken?" I remember thinking to myself that someday I wanted someone to love me that much.

I remember when Thanksgiving day would come to an end, and my family would put on their coats, and the goodbyes would begin. The goodbye portion of the evening always lasted a long time. There were lots of hugs, and kisses, and last minute words of advice, and "I Love You"'s shouted out the door all the way to the car. I remember the glow of happiness that lasted after they were gone, and my parents and I would rehash the days events.

Things are different now. Not better, not worse, just different. Even though, I often think of how things were at the holidays, I am thankful for all those wonderful times and the memories that go with them. More than that, I am thankful for what I have now. I am thankful for the new memories I am making for myself, and for Dylan. I am thankful for everything that I have and for everything that I had. It was a very happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hee Hee Haw Haw

Dylan has toys in his bedroom upstairs, and also in the family room/playroom downstairs. (Basically, it should be called a playroom at this point, because since we still cannot afford to buy new furniture, the ONLY thing in the room is toys and my piano).

One day, while standing in the playroom, I looked down and saw this toy...


It annoyed me for some reason. That toy was supposed to be upstairs. If all the toys keep migrating downstairs, there won't be anything for him to do upstairs, I thought to myself. Also, the two blue gears were missing. Missing pieces bother people with control issues, such as myself. I asked Dylan, "Where are the two blue pieces?" He immediately answered, "Upstairs". "Well, then, let's take this toy upstairs and put the blue pieces back on, okay?" "Okay, Mommy!"

When we got upstairs, he ran ahead of me into his bedroom. When I carried the toy into his bedroom, there he was holding two blue pieces...to this toy...


Confused? I was. Here's why...


Um, where did the other one come from? Last I knew, I only bought one. I remember buying it at a consignment sale a year ago. I remember bringing it home. I remember Dylan being afraid of it for a few weeks, refusing to go anywhere near it. I remember his gradual warming up to the toy, until he was yanking the gears off as it was still turning. I do NOT remember buying a second one. I do not remember bringing a second one into the house. And, well, that would be stupid. I do not remember anyone else bringing a second one into the house. I have asked everyone I can think of it they bought the second one. The answer is always no.

What is going on?! Remember back when we were moving, I joked that the old house had some weird disease where items were doubling themselves? Well, unless toy number one birthed toy number two when I wasn't looking, or my 2 year old climbed out of his window, (on the second floor), when he was supposed to be napping, walked to the toy store, pick pocketed some cash, bought the second gear toy, walked home, and climbed into his window with it, I have officially gone insane.

What really bothers me is - where are those two blue pieces?! Yea, because THAT is what should bother me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Birthday Party

This past Saturday, we had Dylan's 2nd birthday party. Birthdays are a big deal in my family. We're not really of the "throw something together" or "just have something small" mentality. I definitely wouldn't say that I am a "party person", but when I do have a party, I usually think BIG.

This year, we rented a gym, complete with a very long trampoline, and tons of stuff for the kids to climb on. Dylan LOVED it. He has been talking about it all week. He has been talking about the trampoline and the cake the most, but also about the kids that were there. I think just being around all those kids put a smile on his face that lasted throughout the entire party. I barely saw him the whole time. I mean, I saw glimpses of him - ZOOM! - running over there. ZIP! - climbing over there. But, he never once checked in with me. If you asked him, "Dylan, where's your Mommy?", he would probably have said, "Mommy? Oh, she's around here somewhere, I think. I saw her when she brought me in. Gotta go! BOING!"

I talked with him for a few days before the party about what was going to happen. We even pretended to blow a candle out, so when the time came, and he blew it out on the first try, I had to smile. He is quite proud of himself, and is still demonstrating the miraculous feat.


Since we didn't have time to have him open his gifts at the party, we spent the whole day Sunday, together as a family, watching him open his gifts. Spending the day in our pajamas, playing with all those toys, with the snow falling outside - it felt like Christmas.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Baby is Two

Dear Dylan,

You are two years old today! When I think of how fragile, and helpless you were then, and how much you have learned in just two short years, it amazes me. But, do you know something, Dylan? You have also been teaching me!

When I hold your tiny hand in mine, I learn the enormity of motherhood, and the responsibility of my role.

When I make you laugh, I learn to not take things too seriously.

When I see you playing with other children, I learn the importance of sharing and being friendly.

When I see you stop to examine a leaf, or to pick a flower, I learn that beauty is all around us, and that sometimes I need to slow down, to appreciate it.

When I listen to you sing, "Jesus Loves Me", I learn that God really is good.

When I hold you in my arms, I learn what is truly important.

Yes, it is hard to believe that two years have passed already, but is also hard for me to remember what my life was like before the floors of my home were covered with children's books, the rooms were filled with the sounds of your infectious laughter, and my heart was filled to overflowing with love for you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet, precious boy!

Love,
Mommy

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dyan's Birth Story - Part 2

On Sunday, November 19th, Jim's parents were supposed to come over, after the Steeler game, to see how we had decorated the nursery. While I cleaned and straightened up the house, Jim read the newspaper. I'm guessing Jim has conveniently "forgot" that part of the story, but it is true.

We started watching the game late, since it was on DVR, and you know, Jim needed to finish reading his paper. Dylan always seemed to kick the most when I was sitting watching television, and he really seemed to kick a lot during the Steeler games for some reason. At about 2:30 in the afternoon, he kicked really hard, and I jumped. "OW! Jim, he just kicked me so hard!" At 2:45 my water broke. It didn't gush out, as I had expected, and I made it upstairs to the bathroom without Jim even knowing what was happening. After I gave myself a mental pep talk, I called down, "Jim?" "Yea?" "Can you bring me the phone?" "Why?" "My water just broke. I need to call the doctor".

I have to say, my husband is very laid back. I knew, though, that he was nervous about his role. To be honest, I was nervous about how he would be also, but I was very pleasantly surprised. He was calm, (at least outwardly), and got right to work. "What do you need me to do first?" "Pack the car, while I call the doctor". I called the doctor at 3:00, and she told me to go to the hospital, even though, "this could take a while". I sat in the front on the way to the hospital and gave Jim directions, in between contractions. Jim called his parents and I called my dad ( my mom was out Christmas shopping). We told them they didn't need to come to the hospital yet, and that we would call them when the time was right.

When we checked in, the nurse behind the counter kept firing questions at me. I would stop talking every once in a while, to have a contraction, then continue answering her. When she was finally done, she said she just needed to print out our information, and then we could head to triage. I really wanted to lie down, but would you believe, her printer picked that exact moment to stop working? She was laughing, and chatting away, while trying to fix that darn printer, and I was in my happy place where printers aren't needed. Finally, I think I shot her the eyebrows while breathing in through my nose, and out through my mouth, and she said to go ahead to triage and she would come find us when she got the printer working.

In the triage room, another nurse started asking me questions. The only one I remember was, "Natural or drugs?" (I might be paraphrasing here). I remember saying, "I would like to do this naturally, but I reserve the right to change my mind". My doctor wasn't there yet, so another doctor came into the room, to "see where we were at". I heard her say, "She's fully dilated! The baby's head is right here!", and suddenly the room was a flurry of activity. They all started rushing around, and suddenly I was being wheeled down the hall, with Jim chasing after us!

Once they got me in the delivery room, I started pushing. It was around 4:30 and my doctor didn't arrive until 5-ish. I was pushing, but the baby's head was stuck, and wasn't moving much with each push. I wanted to punch the nurse, because with each push, she would scream, "THAT'S THE PUSH!", but nope, not the push. The doctor decided to do an episiotomy and THAT was the push. At 5:54pm, there he was. I had never seen anything more amazing. When he wrapped his hand around my finger, I knew that my life would never be the same.

*For those of you keeping track, Dylan was born 3 weeks early, and my entire delivery lasted only 3 hrs. (I always did like the number 3!) And, yes, there were no drugs. For those of you severely hating me right now, I would just like to remind you that Dylan had colic for the first 4 months of life, and screamed until I thought my head would explode. Things have a way of balancing out. For those of you who had long, agonizing deliveries AND a baby with colic, my sincerest apologies and absolute admiration. You may now throw things at the screen and scream obscenities. Our lamaze class had a reunion, a few months after all the babies were born. After we all met the babies and got caught up, we sat in on another Lamaze class in progress. We went down the line, and told our birth stories one at a time. I was first. Each story after mine seemed to get worse, and worse, and by the end, a guy in the class, who by this point looked rather pale, asked while pointing at me, "Why didn't you let her go last?!"

Dylan's Birth Story - Part 1

Two years ago...

"Jim, I'm going to sign us up for Lamaze classes, okay?"

"Uh...Okay...What exactly do you do in Lamaze classes, again?"

"You learn how to have a baby without passing out, or murdering your spouse in the delivery room".

Blink, Blink.

"Jim, it's okay! They teach you about what is going to happen during delivery, and give you techniques to use, so that you can have the baby naturally".

"Naturally?! You aren't going to take drugs? Are you sure?"

"No, I'm not sure, but I would like to, and I think the classes will help us feel calmer about everything, don't you?"

"Jim?"

Blink, Blink.


So, we went to the classes, and they did help us feel calmer. The teacher was fantastic, and looking around at the other nervous couples made me feel like everything was going to be fine. After learning how to go to "my happy place" and concentrate on my breathing, I started frequenting that beach quite often, for all sorts of reasons.

By November, I was big and uncomfortable, but I was feeling confident. My due date was December 8th. We had one more Lamaze class to go, and then we would start the final preparations - packing the hospital bag, finishing the baby's closet, and stocking the fridge with groceries for when we returned home from the hospital.

Monday, November 13th, I went in for my first internal exam. The doctor calmly informed me that I was "2 1/2 centimeters dilated, fully effaced, and that the baby had dropped". I had learned what all that meant in the classes, but all that meant to me was, "OH MY GOD! THE BABY IS COMING!!! I'M NOT READY!!! I HAVE ONE MORE LAMAZE CLASS!!! I NEED THAT ONE!!! IT SURELY HAS ALL THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF!!! I HAVEN'T PACKED THE BAG YET...I HAVEN'T...I HAVEN'T... Breathe in through your nose, Breathe out through your mouth...Happy place time..."

That Thursday evening, November 16th, we made it to our final Lamaze class. When I told the instructor what the doctor had said, her eyes got big and she glanced down at my belly, before she visibly recovered to tell me, "Don't worry. It could still be a few more weeks". Worry? Who was worried? We had packed the hospital bag, and bought some groceries, and really, does a baby care about a closet? As long as I didn't have the baby during this class, everything would be fine, but I needed this last class.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Family Brags

I never got to meet my dad's mother, but my dad has told me that she liked to brag about him...a lot. He said she would embarass him, by often doing it right in front of him.

My mom's mother - well, I don't know how often she bragged about her kids, but I do know that she loved to brag about me. I know this because, most of the time, I was standing right there! There was the time that I stayed over night, and I was sprawled out on the couch watching television, (I was 10, maybe?), when she suddenly entered the room with the paperboy, saying, "Here's my darling granddaughter. Isn't she beautiful? You two chat while I go get your money".

Then, there was the time that our whole family ate at a fancy restaurant, celebrating someone's birthday, and she invited the good looking valet guy to come back to her house, and have cake with us. She enticed him with, "This is my gorgeous granddaughter. She's smart, too". I think she was giving him the rest of my credentials as I yanked her into the car.

Yes, I come from a long line of braggers. But, I am a humble person, and I was sure that I wouldn't become one...until now.

After "trying" to get pregnant for two long years, I was losing hope. We were saving up for adoption when I finally saw that glorious plus sign! After the first four long, colic filled months, we learned that Dylan had torticollis. The weekly therapy sessions, specialist appointments, and 3 times daily stretches wore me out. I just wanted to enjoy him, and all the "normal" things about having a baby.

At nine months of age, he began wearing a helmet, to help his head develop into more of a round shape. For many months, I added the helmet fittings to all the other appointments. Everywhere we went, I had to deal with the stares, the questions, the looks of pity. Dylan didn't mind the helmet at all. I was the one that needed to adjust. When the helmet finally came off, I could run my fingers through his silky hair, and put his cheek next to mine, without feeling the cold plastic between us. Dylan could finally be the focus, instead of the helmet.

Now that Dylan is done with therapy, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. When I look at old photos, I am amazed and incredibly proud of how far he has come.

Working with other peoples' children, there have been kids I enjoyed being around, and kids that bored me, frustrated me, and basically tried to drive me to insanity. Before having Dylan, I sometimes worried, what if I don't enjoy being around my own child? What if our personalities are too different? What if we just don't connect?

That certainly isn't the case. I adore Dylan. I love spending time with him so much that it is difficult to be away from him. I love his personality - the passion he has for the things he loves, the joy he finds in life, the sweetness that is so much a part of him. How can I NOT brag? It's in my blood. I can't stop...and I'm not sure I want to.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Compassion

I'm not even sure how to start this post. I'm feeling at a loss for words this week. Several things have happened that leave me shaking my head, speechless and dumbfounded.

First, I lost my job, AGAIN. Let's see, the last one I think I had for 4 months, this one lasted a little over 2 months. The mom told me at the end of my day on Wednesday that she quit her job. My last day of work is next Friday. A week to find a new job! Uh, yea, that's probably not doable. The "We really like you. We think you're a great nanny. We feel so bad." speeches really don't help. There is the little matter of bills to pay, and my self esteem's dangerously low level, and the hassle of job searching again.

When things aren't going well in my life, I am always struck by how much I appreciate the little things. The little kindnesses, that might go unnoticed by some, are huge to me. Yesterday, I took Dylan to a used book sale at the library. It was crowded, and I knew if I put him down, he would run off, and get lost. So, I grabbed 3 books in one hand, and held Dylan in the other. While I tried to pay, he started grabbing all the cards in my purse. I left quickly, but decided to go back that evening when Jim got home, and could stay with Dylan. When I went back, I realized that I had found the best used book sale ever! I got a huge pile of books for $12! When I went to pay, I realized I only had $12 in cash in my purse. They weren't taking debit cards. My total came to $12.25. As I started looking through the books to decide which one to take out, the lady behind the counter, handed me a quarter and said, "Here, take them all home. I hope your son enjoys them". Yes, only a quarter, but to me much more.

Today, I took A to Kindermusik where I danced with invisible kid again. A little girl in A's preschool class, and her nanny, go to the class. On Monday, this week, A's mom arranged a play date, so the little girl and her nanny came over. That was pretty much the only time I had a conversation with the other nanny, other than to exchange pleasantries. Today, when I told her about the job, and how frustrated I feel, she reached over and put her hand on my back, saying, "Oh, Jen, I'm so sorry that happened". I almost broke down right there in Kindermusik class. Again, a small thing, maybe to some, but to me - BIG.
The power of touch astounds me. The words themselves, the compassion in her voice, was enough, but the hand on my back made me feel...understood.

Tonight, I took Dylan to Chick-Fil A for dinner. I had him in one arm, and the diaper bag and purse in the other. I was planning my strategy for getting everything to a booth, when the girl behind the counter smiled at me, and asked, "Can I carry your tray to a table for you?" I think I stared at her blankly for a second. "I'm sorry...what?" Good customer service always throws me off guard. But it wasn't just good customer service. It was one person...caring about the other.

What a beautiful concept.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Memories

Trick or treating went amazingly well this year. Dylan was overwhelmed and confused at first, but after a handful of houses, he was a man, (err, a CAT), on a mission. I don't think he smiled until we got home and he unloaded all that candy. Every time we would prompt him to "Say, Thank You!", he would do the sign along with saying the words. The sign looks like blowing a kiss, so everyone thought he was blowing them kisses all night. After the first dozen houses, if someone was sitting in their driveway giving out the candy, he would go right past them to the stairs. He associated the stairs and doors with getting that candy and those people were just in the way! He took the whole process very seriously, and he did not want to quit. He kept saying, "One more", until we finally had to cut the kid off. We were the only adults dressed up in our neighborhood, but then again, we were also told by many families that we won the prize for the best costumes of the night. Too bad that wasn't a CASH prize. video

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trick?

This is what someone might have been screaming in her car on the way to work this morning...

"HEY PITTSBURGH PEOPLE!! I THINK I SEE A FEW FLAKES OF THE WHITE STUFF!! YES, PLEASE!! YOU MUST SLOW YOUR VEHICLES TO A STEADY CRAWL, SO THAT I WILL BE LATE FOR WORK!! IN OCTOBER!! DUE TO SNOW!! AARRGGHH!!!"

(I was tired, and cold, and cranky. Today, it was in the 30's. On Friday, Halloween, it is to be 58 degrees. I'm thinking October played a trick today, and is saving the treat for Friday, because October realizes that freezing little children's costume clad buns off is not funny.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Love & Sarcasm

If you asked me what the secrets to a happy marriage are, one would be good natured teasing/sarcasm. At least for us, it works. I give no guarantees, mind you. Here are some recent examples...

We were about to go in Giant Eagle.
Jim: "Maybe they'll have some of those things you need in here".
Jen: "No. I just told you a while ago, I've only seen them at Babies R Us. Do you listen to anything I say?"
Jim: "Huh?" (Smiling)

When leaving Target...
Jim: "I just saw those pajamas, like Dylan has, with the feet, in adult sizes!"
Jen: "Why didn't you get some?"
Jim: "He's supposed to look like me, not the other way around".
Jen: "But, we could have used that for our Christmas card".

While sitting on the couch last night, watching TV...
Jen: "So, the Circus is coming to town..."
Jim: (Without missing a beat) "You thinking about joining it?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I Don't Get

It's cold this week. My employers have their heat on 65 (?!?), and my brain, along with the rest of my body, has frozen. It's hard for me to think when I'm cold, and these are the types of things I think about...

Things I Don't Get


1. Why did I have trouble finding a winter coat for my kid at the mall yesterday, and yet the radio stations are already playing Christmas music?

2. Why is it that men are always warm, and women are always cold, and yet women have more fat? (Don't freak out on me! I didn't say "You are fat". I said, "You have more fat" - in general). By the way, maybe we're irritable because we're so dang cold.

3. 3/4 length sleeves - If the top part of my arms are cold, it's a good bet that the bottom part is cold, too.

4. Vests - If the middle of my body is cold, my appendages are probably freezing.

5. Gloves - Why do we only wear them outside? We wear socks to keep our feet warm. Personally, my hands are always like frozen popsicles, so I'm thinking of wearing gloves constantly. I'll start a new fad...I'm hoping.

6. Wearing a scarf indoors - If this is a fad, and any trip to the mall will tell you it is, again, why not gloves, people? My hands are COLD.

7. This last one is really a puzzle to me...WHY do I live anywhere that has weather that goes below 50, EVER? (Yes, Jim, I'm starting early this year. WHY do we live here?!?)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Do Love Music, But I Hate Kindermusik

I have been at my new nanny job, with a 2 1/2 year old little girl, for 5 weeks now. The process of her warming up to me has been slow, and I mean S...L...O...W. Every Friday it is my job to take her to Kindermusik class. If you've never experienced the sheer joy of a Kindermusik class, let me get you up to speed. It involves a very excited teacher, children, and their mommies, daddies, nannies, or grandparents. The adults are to "model a love of music" to the children, by singing silly little songs, dancing around the room, and engaging in role play, all with a very high level of enthusiasm. Yes, you must be incredibly enthusiastic when modeling your "love of music".

A lot of the activities involve the parents or caregivers interacting with the children. Bouncing them on their legs, swinging them up into the air, or snuggling with them on their laps, are a few examples. There is just one problem with that. A, the little girl I watch does not want me to touch her in any way. Are you getting a picture of how this goes in your head? Well, here's how it goes...in my head.

*Oh Crap. Here we go. Lord, give me patience. I'm going to need it. Time to paste the smile on my face. This is fun! YAY! Yea, I've had more fun at the dentist's. Positive thinking is not working...

*Okay, she's getting out the instruments. Maybe that little boy is bored with the drums by (BOOM! BOOM! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!)..maybe not. If I could just get my hands on those sticks the fun factor would increase exponentially...

*Oh, A is just sitting there. I should try to get her engaged. O.K. Man, what a look. Fine, I'll just sit here playing instruments myself. I LOVE music. Why is it Kindermusik, with a K, anyway? How about teaching them a love for spelling things correctly? GAH! I wonder what these people would do if I started beating myself in the head with the drum sticks?

(The singing begins). "It's our time to sing together. Our time to sing together. It's our time to sing together. Sing hello, hello. Shall we bounce?" (The adults start bouncing the kids on their legs, while singing). "It's our time to bounce together..."
*Oh great! She won't do it again. I'll just sit here bouncing my legs with an invisible kid on them like a freaking moron. What?! Don't look at me like that. I tried to get her to do it! I'm a good nanny, dang it.

(The teacher plays a CD). "What's that sound?"
*Seriously?! Kids, come on! It's the same dang sound EVERY WEEK! How can you not know what it is? It's the carpenter's hammer, and it goes rap, rap, rap, and I'm thinking of using it to smash these windows, so I can escape this torture.
"The carpenter's hammer goes rap, rap, rap, (everyone pounds on the floor), and his saw goes see saw, see saw". (Kids on laps are leaned way over to the right and then to the left).
*Hey, invisible kid on my lap, ya having fun? Love music yet?

*Here come the bells.
"Bells are ringing. Listen to them ringing. Bells are ringing. Listen to them ringing. Bells are ringing. Listen to them ringing. All through the day...and stop!" "Now, what should we do with our bells", the teacher asks.
*Oooh! Me! I have an idea. Heh. Keep smiling. Don't forget to smile.

*Oh geez. Here we go with the dust rags... (Everyone takes a dust rag, and dusts the air, the walls, each other, etc., while dancing around). "Dust, dust, dust, rest. Dust, dust, dust, rest..."
*Could she at least stay near me, so I don't feel like a complete loon? My house needs dusted, and cleaned, and organized. When am I ever going to unpack all those boxes? Is it even a remote possibility I'll be able to park my car in the garage this winter? Sigh. Keep smiling.

"Hey, A, isn't this fun?"
*O.K. Hey, invisible kid, isn't this fun? Oh, there's no need to thank me. I enjoy bringing you here every Friday. FRIDAY! Thank God, it's Friday!

*Man, that chick with the triplets, she's amazing. Look at how cute her kids are. She's always so happy and enthusiastic. How does she do it? Drugs. Must be some good drugs. Maybe she'll give me some so I can get through this. Can we just skip ahead to the Goodbye Song? I really love that part.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Family Time Is Good

My friend, Julia, amazes me. She has four girls under age 6. Her oldest is five, the twins are 3, and her youngest is 21 months. Not only does Julia do the normal "mom" stuff, but she does the "extra" stuff. She takes them to the library to get books, videos, and CD's. She takes them to classes. Her and her husband take them CAMPING! I KNOW! And, they have fun, God bless them! Not only that, but she makes these adorable videos of their trips, and posts them on her blog. Since I am a big sappy sap, I get teary eyed watching them.

I've been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, discombobulated lately. Let's not go into why, but I was feeling a bit unglued. Jim has been feeling it, too. This weekend, though, we stopped. (Well, as much as a person can stop when living with a "very active" toddler.) We spent the whole weekend as a family. Saturday, we were invited to a little girl's 3rd birthday party, at a farm. Sunday, we drove up into the mountains, to Ohiopyle, and took in the amazing colors of the leaves. I felt better. Breathing in the fresh air, and watching my two guys laughing, I felt lucky. This weekend needed a video. So, here it is. (Thanks for the inspiration, Julia).


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Pictures You Don't Take Are Worth More

Thursday afternoon, the weather was fantastic. Dylan and were going to meet friends for dinner, but first, we did some mother/son bonding at the farm. Here are a few shots I took...





What a tranquil, idyllic setting, don't you think? Well, the pictures that I didn't take would tell a different story.

Like, a picture of Dylan bursting into tears when the baby cow let out a very loud, "MOO!!", right near his face.

Or, a picture of a greedy duck almost biting off Dylan's finger with the piece of bread in it.

Or, when Dylan decided to completely freak out about being in the stroller, so I let him out. I stopped to take a quick picture, and turned to see him walking along this wall...


I left the stroller and ran over to get him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the stroller heading towards the steep hill to the left in the above picture - the one that goes way down to the highway! I got Dylan off the wall, ordering him to "STAY!", and took off running after the stroller, which was now careening dangerously down the hill. Dylan found this all hysterical, and started laughing. Somehow, I caught up with the stroller. Then, I turned to see Dylan running full speed ahead down the hill after me, giggling the whole way down. I knew at some point he was going to fall and come tumbling down the hill like Jack, and possibly break more than a crown. I started yelling, "Dylan, be careful!". He fell anyway. The picture of me pushing the stroller with one hand, and scooping up Dylan with the other, as I made my way up the steep hill would have been quite a picture. But, the one of my long legs booking it down the hill after the renegade stroller - that would have been an award winner.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some Kind of Spurt

I know that kids go through growth spurts, but do they go through learning spurts? If so, that is what was going on with Dylan yesterday. He didn't play with a single toy all day. All he wanted to do was gather information. He was like a little alien, sent to earth to gather data on our planet. "Must...learn...more...meep...Need...more...books...meep...need...more...flashcards...meep".

I swear that I read him every toddler appropriate book in the house, (and we have a lot!) Then, he shoved flashcards at me, over and over, plopping his little learning butt in my lap. I finally had to take the crazy kid to the library. He ran into the children's section shouting, "Books, Mommy!" After reading every book in our house, my excitement must have been a bit lacking, because he pulled on my arm until I finally put the appropriate amount of enthusiasm in my voice and agreed, "Yes! Books, Dylan!"

I started singing him a song, later - "The Wheels on the Bus". He's heard it many, many times before, but he usually just stared at me, probably wondering why my singing voice is so bad. Yesterday, out of nowhere, he sang the whole song, over and over again. Of course, I had to get him to do it for Jim when he got home...


video

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another Photo Shoot

Geez, I haven't done one of my "artsy fartsy" photo shoots since April! Yesterday morning, Jim was dressing Dylan while I got ready to go out, and he ran into our bedroom, shirtless, with just a pair of jeans on. He looked like a Tommy Hillfiger ad, and the light was shining in the window in such a way, that I just had to grab my camera. But, once again, I was reminded of some very important rules to keep in mind when taking photographs of children.

1. If you start out with a particular shot in your mind, there is a 99% chance that you will be disappointed. Children seldom share your unique vision.

2. The more pictures you take, the more likely you are to get a good picture. Snap, snap, snap until your fingers won't straighten - we're in a digital world now, so you're not wasting anything.

3. Be stealthy. "Doo-dee-doo, I'm just going to walk over here and grab something, nothing important, don't worry your little head about it...(Whistling)...Then, I'm just going to slowly walk towards you with this thing behind my back until I am just about...SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!

4. Be goofy. Be loud. If you wait until they are looking at you to take pictures, you might have to pitch a tent. Just start snapping away and eventually they will look to see why you are being so weird.

5. Be flexible. (I didn't mean that literally, but if you can bend yourself in a variety of positions, you have a big advantage.) If the kid won't turn around, take pictures of their back. If they want to show you their belly, take it! If they grimace as if in pain at being asked to smile, take that. Candid shots are often the best ones.

Here are my 3 favorites from my photo shoot. I used Photoshop to add an effect to the last one.







Did I get the shot I envisioned? No. Not even close. But, I let Dylan lead the way, and turns out, he knew what he was doing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Dream

WE SOLD OUR OLD HOUSE!!! I realize how incredibly lucky we are. There are hundreds of houses still for sale in our old neighborhood. We only had to pay double bills for two months and our finances will recover quickly. Many, many people won't be so lucky. But, am I 100% happy and satisfied? No.

Why? Well, you see, I have this dream. Actually, I have many, but this one is wild and crazy. I hope you can handle it. I dream of living in a nice neighborhood (done), in a house that is big enough to hold all my belongings and that of my son and pack-rat husband (the jury is still out on that one). A house where everything has a place, and things are organized and clutter free (not even close at this moment). A house in which the rooms have matching furniture and accessories (heh, furniture would be nice). Rooms that look well thought out, and put together, as if done by a designer, instead of a hodge podge of hand me down pieces and bare walls. A house that is relaxing, that reflects who we are, and what we enjoy. A house where love shines brightly in family photos artfully arranged on colorful walls. A house that is my refuge.

Now that I have a new house, why is this all just a crazy dream, and not reality? Many reasons - some of which I know for certain, and some that I've only recently come to be brave enough to admit. One reason, of course, is that we never have enough time. Time to unpack, time to organize, time to design, time to shop, time to hang pictures. Another big reason is money. There is never enough to buy that matching furniture and all the hundreds of other items that make a house look great.

There is another reason, though, and I fear this might be the true reason my dream is just that. My husband and I, although very artistic and creative people, are handicapped. Yes, it is true. I should have mentioned it before. We have a ...design block. Put a smattering of paint chips in front of us, and we start to stammer and stutter. Give us a hammer, nails, photos, and bare walls, and our palms start to sweat. Give us furniture to arrange in an empty room, and we will stare at you open mouthed, muttering, "buh, buh, buh".

We always have an excuse, but the truth is, we lived in the old house for six years and hung only a handful of pictures. We didn't paint a single room a color that we fell in love with. We arranged the furniture, and then left it that way for six years. If you came to our old house and didn't know us, I'm not sure you would learn a thing about us from looking around.

So, my question to all you fellow bloggers, lurkers, readers in general who have my email address, is this... How do you do it? How do you design a room? Where do you start? Do you pick a color for the walls, then buy furniture, or find furniture you like, then look for paint? How do you decide what photos to hang, and how do you pick an arrangement? Where have you bought furniture? Maybe I should just hire one of you to help me out. Oh, right, back to that money excuse. I don't know. Give me some advice, please. I need help...clearly.

Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll even invite you over. I haven't even celebrated yet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dylan at 22 Months

Dear Dylan,

Now you are 22 months old, and you seem to learn something new every day. I love to hear all the new words that you are saying. Sometimes, they are so clear, like "toofbrush", and "pineabble". Other times you get frustrated because I have no idea what you are trying to tell me. So, you just try to yank me to the item or place you want. There are times that you pull on my legs with such strength, I think I will fall over.

One place you really, really love to go is to the mall. (You stretch the word out, like you live in Jersey - "maaaall"). Yep, I have a mall rat already. Everytime you see a few stores together, you say, "Mommy, D-D, maaall, NOW!" You used to love Mr. Rogers play area, but lately you just want to escape to go up those darn escalators! ("Up-Down!") You still like to look at the fish, and go to the toy store, but your absolute favorite thing to do is ride the "choo-choo". You LOVE trains. We bought you a train table and you play with it all the time.
(*I tried to add a funny video here, but Blogger is not cooperating. Go here to see it.)

You love to go places. When I take you to the playground, you astound me with your climbing skills! You are already going up rope ladders and climbing steps to the highest slide on every playground. When your daddy was little, he wanted to be a stunt man. Something tells me that you might be following in his footsteps!

Another way that you are like your daddy is that you will eat almost anything. Sometimes I can't believe what you will eat! One day last week you chose to eat black olives over strawberry-apple puffs! You love fruits and vegetables, and I am very happy about that. (Maybe you can help remind me to eat my veggies?) What I don't like is how impatient you are at mealtime. You want fed, NOW! NOW! NOW! Your table manners need a lot of work, kid. Like, how about chewing one piece at a time, instead of becoming the human vacuum?

You have become very social, and you love to be around other kids. You seem to prefer boys, and you like to be around men. Your a man's man, but don't forget to give your old mom some love sometimes, okay? Actually, today I called home from work, and you said, "I love you, Mommy", in the sweetest, clearest voice! That moment was one of my top five best ever, Dylan.

You are really enjoying school. You run ahead of me to get into the room. A couple of weeks ago, the teacher sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". The sight of you and the two little girls in your class all touching different body parts, trying to imitate her was almost too much cuteness for me to take.

You are so funny. You are always making us laugh. Like how you'll watch the video of yourself a year ago, and look at me and giggle, as if to say, "I was a riot, then". Or like when I took you to Giant Eagle, reciting the six items we needed over and over, and then later, you told me the two items we still needed - "Bwead, Milk, Mommy!". (Your daddy would have forgotten two minutes after I told him!)

You are finally done with physical therapy! I really can't believe how far you've come. When the therapist gave you the evaluation of all your skills, you were testing at a 3 year old level on some things! You already know your colors, letters, and a few numbers. At this rate, you'll be reading by 4! You might want to pace yourself. You've got plenty of time. I'm really proud of you, though. You are such a sweet boy, and I love you more than words can say.

Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Found You

For reasons I'm unsure of, little kids all seem to love to play hide and seek. At one of my nanny jobs, the two girls, (4 and 5 years old), would always hide in the same two places. Always. When I would find them, (either behind the drapes, or behind the bedroom door), they would always seem astounded. How did I keep finding them?! One told me, "You're a really good finder!"

The two boys at my last nanny job, (Big Bro, age 10, and Little Bro, age 8), really loved to play hide and seek. The first time we played, they deemed me "the finder". Their house was huge, so we had to set up the limitations first. "You can hide on the first floor or second floor. Not in the basement, outside, your mom and dad's room, or the office". With that established, I started counting. When I got to 50, I started looking half heartedly, figuring I better not find them right away, or it would ruin their fun. After 10 minutes of not finding them, I started really looking. After 10 more minutes of not finding them I started REALLY looking, my heart beating a little faster.

Suddenly, their mom walked in, a little breathless. "Where are the boys? I need to ask Little Bro something".
"Uh, err, well...we are playing hide and seek, so I'm not really sure". Not the best thing to tell a parent, I thought to myself, inwardly groaning. She yelled, "Boys! Come out right now!", and I watched Little Bro climb out of an armoire. He had been scrunched up on a shelf in there?! I would have never found him. Big Bro came running up the stairs, so I never found out where he hid.

My next experience with the game was when just Big Bro and I were at the house. When we went over the limitations, he asked, "How about just outside, on our property?" I agreed, but remembering my last experience, asked "What should I do if I can't find you?" He told me "the code" he and Little Bro used, then took off to hide.

After searching the back yard, side yard, front yard, and driveway, "Hide and Seek" began to feel more like, "Lost Boy", "Manhunt", or "Holy Crap, where the heck did that kid go?!" I decided I had to use "the code". As I wandered around the yard, waving at the men paving the driveway, and the neighbors, screaming, "I CONFESS!", I thought, "This cannot look good".
Suddenly, I saw him run out of the garden. I had looked in the garden! To this day, I have no idea where he was hiding.

During my dating years, I often felt like I was playing a very long, frustrating game of Hide and Seek. Where were all the good guys hiding? Would I ever find one? The limitations weren't clear. Where exactly was I supposed to look, and for how long, before screaming, "I GIVE UP"?

Somehow, I did find him one day, in a very unlikely place, (my computer), and the game finally ended. All that searching was finally over, and had been worth it. I won, and I won BIG.

I guess I am a "good finder".

(I'm so glad I found you, Jim! Happy Birthday! I love you.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why Men Shouldn't Take Messages

I wanted to add a link to my previous blog. I also wanted to add this picture, but I must have dated Blogger's crush, because she was out for revenge! An hour later, I conceded. Maybe I should have told her he was a mama's boy, and had a third nipple?

Anyway, since we were talking about men's clueless ways, here is a picture I got in an email.
Why men shouldn't take messages...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maybe I'm The Clueless One

I love my husband. I really do. There are times, though, that I must admit I feel like we are surely speaking a different language to each other. How is it that I can say "The sky is blue", and he can hear, "We need some glue"? (No, that is not an actual conversation we have had, but you get my drift).

Is it all men who cannot see things that are right in front of them? I can't tell you how many times I will start eating something and he will say, "We have apples?" I look at him as if he is new here, and I reply in as calm a voice as possible, "Yes, Jim, we have had apples since four days ago, when I went grocery shopping". "Where were they?", he always asks. I sigh, and patiently answer, "In the fruit bin, in the refrigerator". "Oh, I didn't look in there". Then, he will remark, "We are out of salad dressing, you know". "No, we aren't. It's behind the ketchup. Did you look behind stuff?" Then, he assumes the sheepish look that I adore, and that usually saves him, and says, "Well...no".

I have always just assumed that women are the smarter sex, and that we just need to be patient with them, the poor souls. But lately, I'm wondering if I'm really the clueless one. One day, recently, the three of us were getting ready to go somewhere. I was packing the bag and getting Dylan's coat on. Then, I turned to where I thought my cell phone should be. "Jim? Do you know where my cell phone is?" He looked at ME like I was new here, and said, "Are you serious?" "Yea, I'm serious. Where is it?" "I just stuck it in your shorts pocket!" Wow. I am a pick pockets dream, apparently.

What happened a few nights ago was even more ridiculous. We were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and Jim was eating chips. He has this habit of taking the chip clip off the bag, and sticking it on my clothes. I think he feels it is funny, or something. Who knows? Anyway, since I fail to see the humor, I usually just take it off and fling it on his side of the couch.

The next morning was my day to sleep in, (Saturdays Rock!), so when I got up, Jim and Dylan were already in the kitchen eating breakfast. When I walked in, Jim bust out laughing. I was thinking, "What? Is my hair sticking up? You should see your hair sometimes and I refrain from laughing". I was about to say just that, when he pointed to my shirt. The shirt I had slept all night in. The shirt that still had the chip clip, (which happened to be a clothespin), sticking out of it!

Do you remember the post I wrote when I told you that I call my dad "Magoo"? Jim said that he thinks I inherited the "Magoo gene". He said I should have called this post, "Magoo, Who?" But I know the truth. I just can't think straight because I'm so exhausted, trying to interpret that other language that Jim keeps speaking to me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Power = Cranky Jen

Yesterday we drove to Erie, (about a 3 hour drive), to see Jim's relatives. Keep in mind that Jim and I are both only children, with only a handful of relatives in our area. Holiday celebrations usually consist of a whopping 7 people - Jim's parents, my parents, Jim and I, and Dylan. So imagine Dylan's shock to walk into a room of 23 people, all staring at him! He loves attention, but that was a bit overwhelming. We had a great time, and started the trip home around 5pm.

We stopped at Eat N Park about half way home, where we endured ridiculously slow service. When we came out, the sky looked ominous. For some unknown reason, I had decided to drive. That's when the wind started. Have you ever driven a small car in 40 mph winds? Yea, really fun. We made it home in one piece, got Dylan to sleep, and sat down to watch the Steelers kick some Brown butt, (taped). Five minutes later the power went out. The trees outside started whipping around, and my wonderful husband did what he always does in that situation - he went outside to "enjoy the storm". Then, I did what I always do in those situations - begged him to stop being a crazy man and come inside.

Since we didn't know when or if the power would come back on last night, I called it a night and went to bed. Since we both have electric alarm clocks and my first full day of my new nanny job was today, I set a manual clock.

This morning the alarm clock, which was set for 6am, went off. Jim mumbled something, then mumbled it again, then once more. "Can you make the manual alarm stop ticking?" I leaned over and felt around the nightstand -not there. "Where is it?" I asked. "On the floor!" I got up and started feeling around the floor - nothing. "Where?!" (This whole conversation was conducted in super annoyed, half asleep speak). "On the floor!!" "I CAN'T FIND IT!" He got up and grabbed the clock, which he had shoved under a pile of clothes to lessen the ticking slightly, and I stumbled into the bathroom. Jim came into the bathroom holding the manual clock. He held it up and mumbled something. I thought he said, "This clock doesn't even work. It says 5 o' clock". I wasn't sure why he needed to get out of bed and interrupt me for that bit of information, so I grunted and continued my business. After a few minutes, he opened the door again to tell me in a very annoyed tone, "Didn't you hear me when I said that it is FIVE O CLOCK?" Apparently the electric clock got all screwed up going off and on. Great start to my morning.

Then, I drove through the maze of downed branches and non functioning traffic lights to work. The little girl I am now watching decided she did not like the idea of her mom going back to work at all! Much shrieking and crying ensued. It will be fine. She'll adjust, and hopefully next time, I'll get a full night's sleep. Does this post make any sense? I'm tired and I'm rambling, aren't I? I just have one more thing to say. I love electricity. Electricity is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Day of School


Today was Dylan's first day of school. The class is called "Together With Twos", so basically it is two year olds and their very anxious mommies in attendance. Dylan won't be two until November, but they made an exception because, well, they needed another kid! It is only Dylan and two little girls in the class.

What is it about first days of school that are so nerve wracking? I felt like I was back in high school, all nervous and disgusted with myself. I bought Dylan a new shirt to wear especially for today, but realized last night that I forgot to wash it. At 10:30 at night I realized that he didn't have a single pair of clean shorts. I ran down to pull his clothes out of the dryer, which were slightly wrinkled because they sat too long. Then I realized that I didn't have any clean clothes either. No time to do another load. I actually wore the same outfit I wore yesterday! Groan. How pathetic.

This morning, I did manage to get a shower and wash my hair, but I was having the kind of bad hair day that makes you think shaving your head is a better option than fixing it. I finally just threw a headband on, and after fighting with Dylan about him wearing his new shoes we were out the door. Then, back in the door for me to change from shorts into jeans because dang it, it was too cold!

When we arrived, Dylan marched right in ahead of me, to look the place over, investigating every area before giving it his stamp of approval. We met the teacher, who told us that she would always have a craft out, but that it was up to them if they chose to do it or just play for the first half hour. Knowing my son, my guess was that I wouldn't be putting any crafts up on our refrigerator anytime soon. Wrong - it was the first thing he did. Aside from a little confusion about what exactly you do with glue, no problems there.

Free play time went fine. The time I had been dreading since learning of the class came next - story time. Dylan LOVES books, and loves to be read to, but it has always been one on one, and he is always sitting in someone's lap reading. This time, he was supposed to sit on a carpet square and pay attention while the teacher read to everyone. Uh, yea, not so much. Instead, he shunned the carpet square, got up 3 or 4 times to choose his own book to look at, then left the area completely. When I took him back to the story area, where I tried to get him to sit on my lap, he became The Incredible Noodle Boy and slid right out of my lap, and grasp, before wiggling away to freedom.

By that time, story time was finished, and snack time was next. While the little girls sat nicely, listening to the grown ups make small talk and daintily chewing on their snacks, Dylan gobbled his pretzels and juice down like a human vacuum, before leaving the table to explore once again. The teacher called him "active". What she doesn't know is, that I taught in daycares and preschools, so I know all the codes. "Active" = whew, he's a handful, isn't he? You must be exhausted. Luckily, he charmed her by bringing her letter magnet after letter magnet, telling her what each letter was. So, he's "active", but he's also "smart".

Next it was outside play time. He plays pretty well with other kids, so that wasn't bad. There was a small incident, though, where he almost locked us all out of the building by pulling on the door that was propped open (with a brick! - "active", "smart", and "strong").

I have a handful of papers to read before the next class - the days of papers everywhere that you don't have time to read have begun early! I have his first craft ever up on the refrigerator. I have a week to buy new clothes, do laundry, and get a haircut. Or, I could always shave my head.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Grocery Shopping Sagas

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I had issues with the Giant Eagle where I used to live. Strange, scary customers, unbelievably rude cashiers, a very limited selection, and tons of unnecessary crap jamming the already too small aisles, were just a few of my gripes. I ask you, who buys their Steeler gear at a grocery store?!? How about a lawn chair? Weirdos.

Come to think of it, there was an incident at a Giant Eagle I shopped at years ago. At the time, I was single, had an extremely depressing job, and was smack dab in the process of grieving for Doug. I was depressed, stressed, and looking for a fight. Back then, I only shopped once a month, so my cart was overflowing. I found an aisle with only one person ahead of me, and started putting my stuff on the conveyer. As I plunked down the last item, the cashier looked at me and in a very bored tone remarked, "I'm closed now".

"I'm sorry. Did you just tell me you're CLOSED? After you watched me put all this on here?" (me waving my hands wildly)

"I didn't notice you".

"YOU DIDN'T NOTICE ME?! NO, YOU ARE GOING TO RING THIS UP, AND THEN YOU CAN BE CLOSED!"

"No, I'm closed now" (Then she.walked.away.)

I could just about feel the steam coming off the top of my head. I started loudly complaining to customers within earshot. I made a nice little spectacle of myself, and then I left the store in a huff. (Yes, the items were still there). When I got home with no bags, my roommate said, "I thought you went grocery shopping!?" Still in lunatic mode, I screamed, "I DID!!!" Then, I threw stuffed animals against the wall for 20 minutes. "Good Lord, next time, I'll go", she muttered.

Since moving, I was anxious to find a new Giant Eagle, maybe one I actually wouldn't dread going to. I'm sure you are wondering why I don't shop somewhere else. Fuel perks - I love fuel perks. Anyway, there are two fairly close to our new house. My husband insisted that the one is much closer, so I went there last week.

At first I thought I had finally found it. Any store that has the diapers and toddler food in the same aisle as the candy completely understands my needs. But then, I started to notice them. More weird people. Have aliens landed in Pittsburgh, because I swear, people get stranger and stranger around here. I saw a woman wearing her boyfriend's shorts, which were probably 2 sizes too loose for her boyfriend let alone her. She had his belt on too, but still had to HOLD her pants up as she walked around the store. If she had to reach for something high, I was gonna get a full view of her panties.

When I went to leave, there were only 2 aisles open - one regular and one express. Two aisles?! Insanity. The whole time I was waiting in line, the guy bagging groceries was doing a one man routine. Think Robin Williams, but without the funny. "Hey, somebody wants cookies! Better grab some milk! What? No milk? HAR HAR HAR HAR".

Okay, on to Giant Eagle Number 2. Hallelujah! It is huge, with a 24 hr pharmacy, a dry cleaners, a really nice flower section, a place to drop off your kids for babysitting while you shop, people giving out samples all over the store, and friendly cashiers.

When it was my turn, the cashier looked at Dylan in the cart, and asked, "I'm just curious, what aisle did you pick him up in?"
"The weekly specials - thank God it wasn't a buy one get one free deal"
(Laughing) "Hey, have you ever watched that show, Jon and Kate Plus 8?"
"The show that makes everyone feel better about their life? Yea, it's hilarious. Did you see the one where she yells at him for breathing? Blah, Blah, Blah".

This whole exchange may seem unimportant to some, but for someone like me who was used to only being grunted at, "Haf a nice day", which sounded oddly like, "I hope you die", it was BIG. I think I skipped out of that store.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Apology Letter

Dear Summer,

I feel awful. You left and I didn't even say goodbye. You know how much I look forward to your visits each year, and I truly didn't mean to neglect you this time. It just happened. This looking for a new house/showing a house/buying a house/packing up a house/selling a house/unpacking a house/selling a house stuff has been so time consuming that I didn't get to spend as much quality time with you as I normally do.

But Summer, trust me, I knew you were around. I felt your warmth on my face as I watched Dylan discover the joy of playing in the sand. (We were the palest family on the beach again this year!)



I watched water droplets from a fountain form a rainbow, as he and I sported cherry moustaches after enjoying some italian ice.



I listened to the infectious sound of laughter when he decided that sliding down a slide was incredibly fun, and often ridiculously funny.




I watched in amazement as he became a social butterfly, and play-dates became a necessity.


I marveled at his strength, as he picked up stones almost as big as his head, to throw in the creek.


I listened as he made animal noises at the farm, and got up close and personal with the "Moo", "Baa", "Bawk, Bawk", "Neigh", and "Quack".


I felt the cool, soothing water as we splashed around in the pool.


We swung, we quacked, we felt the wind in our hair.




Dylan has adjusted to our new house so easily, as if he doesn't miss the old house even a tiny bit. (I sure don't).
I am so happy to be in our new neighborhood, with friendly neighbors and more space, that I know it was worth neglecting you a bit. But, as always, I will be eagerly awaiting your return.

Oh, and Summer? Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Did You Ever?

Did you ever have a moment when the world stood still, time stopped, and you witnessed something that took your breath away?

Did you ever have a moment that you wish you could have seen through a crystal ball years ago, when hope was lost, and pain was great?

Did you ever have a moment where your past and your future actually touched, and became entwined?

Did you ever have a moment that moved you deep down in your soul in a way that couldn't possibly be expressed with words alone?

I did, today.

This was that moment...