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.