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