Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween School Party and Heart Palpitations

I love Halloween. I really do. Not the scare yourself silly, haunted house, horror film type of Halloween, but all the other stuff involved in Halloween I enjoy greatly. This morning, though, wasn't so much enjoyment, as it was yelling, pleading, and heart palpitations. This morning was Dylan's first school Halloween party.

For an incredibly active kid, Dylan moves VEEERRRRYYYY SLLOOOWWWLLLYYY. When you want him to get somewhere by a certain time, he suddenly morphs into Slow Motion Boy. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Slow Motion Boy. He can leap over tall buildings, but first he needs to line these toys up, turn lights out all over the house, and count all the pumpkin decorations on the way out the door. It is hard enough getting him to school on time on regular days. I knew today, (which involved a costume) was going to be rough.

So, when my husband (whom I love dearly), jumped out of bed ONE MINUTE before my alarm went off, and jumped in the shower, I might have gone completely ballistic. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? YOU COULDN'T HAVE PICKED A BETTER DAY TO DO THIS!!" There might have been more yelling involved. He was about to leave the house when I screamed, "OH, AND NOW YOU ARE JUST GOING TO LEAVE WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE?!?" Yes, it was a beautiful moment between a man and his loving wife.

When Dylan woke up and didn't want to get out of bed, even though he was soaking wet, I knew what kind of morning it would be. Then, he insisted that I change the sheets before I put dry clothes on him. Then, came the "I NEED to"s. There are always things he NEEDS to do first, before doing what I want him to do.

Somehow we made it through breakfast. Somehow we made it through me drying my hair and getting myself dressed, although I had to stop about every ten minutes because I heard a crash, or he was screaming "MOMMY?", or he was too quiet and I had to investigate. By the time I needed to put on his costume I was already tired. Then I tried to put the super flimsy pants on, while he was only half standing still. Then I put the top on, and he started whining and pulling at the collar. "It's itchy. Itchy! ITCHY!!" I could just feel that any minute the fabric was going to tear and I started to panic and talk in slightly crazy mommy speak. "O-Kay-we-will-put-on-a-tshirt-under-it-and-then-it-won't-itch-O-Kay?-O-Kay. O-kay-This-will-be-fine-I-need-to-remember-to-keep-breathing-O-Kay"

By the time I met my parents at the school later for the parade I was breathing normally, and could even see the humor in the situation. When Dylan came out with his hat crooked and blood on his face from a bloody nose, well, it just fit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Never What You Expect

Yesterday the temperature reached 70! (Insert choir of angels singing here). Ever since I saw this idea, I've been waiting for a nice day, so Dylan and I could go to a certain park with a stream. He loves to throw rocks in the stream, and it is a beautiful park. When he woke up from his nap, I told him to get a bucket - that we were going to the park to collect rocks. Man, you would have thought I said, "From now on we are going to eat only cookies, all the time"! He was excited. I was excited. I had a picture of the perfect fall day in my head.

I would say that one of the biggest lessons I've learned from having a child is this - you have to be flexible. Things rarely go as planned. As a matter of fact, do they ever? We got to the park and it was closed. Closed!?! Since when are parks closed? That is just ridiculous. They had fenced off the entrance and there was a sign saying "No admittance. Park closed for season". I was going to park nearby and climb over the fence (What?), but there was no where to park.

After explaining things to a very understanding Dylan, I turned the car around and headed to another park. I also realized that I hadn't brought my good camera (Canon), just the small one that I hate, that always takes horrible pictures. So much for my perfect fall day.

But, then I had an idea. "Dylan, why don't we stop and get subs and have a picnic at the park?" He shouted "YEA!! I LOVE PICNICS!!", and that was it. Perfect fall day back in business. We had a picnic in the sun, chased each other through the leaves, had races on the slides, and drew letters in the dirt. And, somehow, my crappy small camera took these pictures...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Fall Day at The Park

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous! Much too gorgeous to stay inside, so we went to the park. Today it is gorgeous again, which is why I am keeping this post short!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three Straws

Dear Dylan,

Last night the three of us went out to eat. I couldn't help but grin, as I watched you playing with our three straws. First, you counted them. "We have three straws!!" Next, you practiced your newest skill - subtraction. "Now, there's three straws!! If you take one away, you have two!!"

Each time, your daddy and I admonished you, "Not so loud, Dylan"! We really need to work on your "inside voice", kid. I almost spit out my food when your daddy said, "Lower your voice", and you repeated what you just said at the same volume, only in a lower, more manly voice!

Then, you dropped one of the straws on the ground. You were about to crawl under the table and put your hands all over the dirty floor, but we told you not to. You were upset. You really wanted that straw back.

The next time the waitress came over, your daddy asked her for another drink. Then, you looked up at her and asked, "Can I have another straw?", drawing the word out for emphasis. She didn't hear you. The next time she came over, you asked a little louder, smiling sweetly at her, and adding a "Please?"

You grinned, proudly clutching your three straws, and I thought "This kid is going places". Knowing what you want, and not being afraid to go after it will get you far in life. I know it's not the first time, and I know it won't be the last time that I want to tell you this...

I'm proud of you.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Time

Well, the cold, rainy weather foiled our plans this weekend. That's okay. I just got the video done from last weekend! We made our annual trip to Reilly's Summer Seat Farm. We went on a hayride, picked out a couple pumpkins, ran through a corn field, and enjoyed the gorgeous fall leaves. Dylan also got to ride a pony, and get his hand painted (It was a football, but three seconds after getting it, he had already smudged it!). I know my parents are going to say, "How did you get such great pictures?" They took Dylan to a farm one day earlier that week, and he wasn't exactly camera friendly. Yes, there are about 30 good pictures in the video, BUT, I also took more than 60. All I can say is Thank God for digital photography. And, my Canon.
I obsess over what song to choose for each video. I picked "Old Joe Clark", by Dan Zanes, because it sounds like something you'd hear at a square dance. Plus, I just like watching Dylan's head bob up and down every time he listens to it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Fall Day?

My parents are not people who enjoy staying home much. Which, of course, means that I'm not a person who enjoys staying home much. Which, of course, means that Dylan is already not a person who enjoys staying home much. Which, of course, means HOLY HECK! WHEN IS IT GONNA STOP RAINING?!

Monday, as always, the day with the best weather of the week, I took the girls I'm a nanny for to Barnes & Nobles. Tuesday we were rained in. Wednesday and Thursday, after taking Dylan to school and back in the rain, we were stuck inside. Today it was still raining. This made me just a little bit AAHHBBBLLPPHHTTT!! I was supposed to have a mom and her son from Dylan's playgroup over. We've been trying to arrange it for a month now. First she was sick, then I was sick. This morning Dylan woke up with a red face and runny nose. Her son woke up with a bad cough. So, we were stuck in the house with no company. It wouldn't be so bad if it were just raining, but it is also COLD. Forty degree weather in October makes me start my "Why do we live here" mantra ridiculously early.

I might have been a tad bit irritated and bored, so I might have overcompensated. We played, we read Halloween books, we listened to a tape about fall, we painted a pumpkin, we made cookies. I also did two loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, washed dishes, organized a file cabinet, worked on a digital scrapbook, and wiped Dylan's nose eleventy billion times.

Since we were just going to be inside all day, I didn't bother to comb his hair. Be happy I didn't show you a picture of what I looked like today! If you are wondering why there aren't any pictures of the painted pumpkin, that is because I was too busy trying to prevent my WHITE kitchen from becoming multi-colored. If you are wondering why the cookies are red(ish), yellow, and orange, that is because we were SUPPOSED to make fall leaves. After mixing the food coloring in the icing, I realized I don't actually have a leaf cookie cutter. And, also, did you ever go to make cookies and notice that your flour says that it expired in 2006?! Yea, I never did that either.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthday Wishes

Last year, on October 14th, I wrote this post about my friend Julia. I got an email that day from her, after she saw the post, asking, "Did you know today was my birthday?" I honestly had no idea! What are the odds? Well, 365 to 1, actually. (Maybe I should play the lottery sometime).

I met Julia in November of 2000. I was going to be team teaching in the 4-5 year old class. The first day I walked into a room full of 24 wild preschoolers, who were already comfortable in their chaos by November, I felt a bit lost. Julia made it her job to fill me in on things, and to make me feel comfortable. I liked her from day one.

There were many teachers and helpers who came in and out of that classroom over the next three years. Three teachers trying to mesh their personalities and teaching styles was sometimes difficult, but Julia and I were very similar and never had any problems getting along. As a matter of fact, she would sometimes invite me and Jim (whom I had just started dating), to hang with her and her husband, and another couple. I usually turned her down, thinking that if we spent time together outside of work, it might be too much, and we would start getting on each others nerves. Ooof! (Kicking self. I was stupid then). Now, she lives far away and I never get to see her.

If you are wondering why I don't link to her blog, it's because she wants to keep her blog private. So many people (myself included) started blogging for selfish reasons. They wanted to find friends, they wanted to get a book deal, they wanted to make money, etc. Julia just wanted to chronicle her daughters' childhoods. Pure and simple. There is something so darn fantastic about that, and she does it beautifully.

Happy Birthday Julia!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cirque Du WHOA!

I don't have an official Bucket List. Nothing written out, with things to check off. But, there are certain things that I have always wanted to do. One was to see a Cirque Du Soleil show. It seemed like every time they were in Pittsburgh, I was low on cash, and couldn't justify spending the money. But, something my buddy Julia said, made me realize I needed to just do it. I bought Jim and I tickets for his birthday, and on Friday night we went to see Alegria.

If you want the short version, I can sum it up in one word... AMAZING.
If you want the longer version here are my thoughts...

*For all you Pittsburgh people - Walking up that hill to The Peterson Event Center, in the pouring rain, after you just scarfed down fast food in about 15 minutes, (knowing you had to eat something before the show), with bronchitis is not a great idea. GAG, WHEEZE, COUGH, COUGH. Oh, and also, my husband is only 1 inch taller than me. Why does he walk so fast?! How does he walk so fast?!

* When we got to our seats at 7:25 (the show started at 7:30), the lady next to me had her coat on my seat. When I asked her to move it, she said, "Oh great. I always hope that the people next to me won't show up so I can stretch out, and have somewhere to put my coat. But, you just had to show up, didn't you?" I replied, "Too bad! We're here!" Then, she grumbled, "Well, maybe the people in front of us won't show, and I can put my coat on their seat". I couldn't resist saying, "I think you're out of luck because I'm pretty sure the show is sold out". Then, Miss Joy and Happiness tutted, "Well, you know, people are SUPPOSED to show up 20 minutes before these things start". I commented ever so nicely, "Well, you know, there's this thing called TRAFFIC". Sure enough, someone did sit right in front of her. The seat in front of me was vacant. For some reason, I didn't tell her she could put her coat there, though, even though I wasn't using it. Hey, I did refrain from coughing on her, just for fun, even though I thought of it. Which brings us to my thought... People who don't know how to have fun should stay home.

*I don't get clowns. Never did. Just don't find them funny.

*If you go to a Cirque Du Soleil show, you will feel like an overweight, out of shape slug. Those people do not have an ounce of fat on them, and their bodies are like Greek statues. At one point, these male acrobats came out. Jim and I both thought they had things painted on their chests. Nope, their chests were just that defined. Hubba Hubba.

*At one point, this guy brought out a huge ring, like a giant hula hoop, and I thought, "What could he possibly do with that?" Then... "OH!... WOW!.. OH MY GOSH!!... HOLY CRAP!!!... WHAT THE...WHOA!!" My mouth was hanging open in amazement for the majority of the show.

*Is it possible to watch contortionists without thinking about sex? And also, being able to bend your back over and touch your feet to your head? That's just not right. I was in pain just watching.

*During one part, the trapeze guys had to climb up a very long rope ladder. They scurried up the ladder like very energetic squirrels, making it look effortless. Later, Jim said, "If I did that, I would get half way up, then I would have to say, "That's it. Show's over!", because I couldn't go any further!"

*If you get the chance to go see a show, GO! It is well worth the money. Just don't spring for the most expensive seats, unless you want to take the chance of getting picked to go up on the stage.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Are Here

The past two weeks haven't been easy for me. Two Sunday's ago, I woke up with a horrible sore throat. I ignored it, and spent the day at my in laws. The next morning, I woke up with a worse sore throat. I ignored it, and went to work that day and the next. That whole week, I kept pushing myself to do all the normal things my weeks consist of - laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning up meals, doing things for Dylan, doing things for Jim. I hate to be sick. It seems like such a waste of valuable time, so if I can ignore it, I usually do, and I did. By this past Sunday, though, I realized I had to stop and take care of myself. I called off work Monday, and went to the doctor's. He said what probably started as a sinus infection was now bronchitis.

I did take a couple days to rest, but clothes keep getting dirty, people keep getting hungry, and messes keep being made. I was tired and frustrated and annoyed. But, then Jim brought in a paper that was placed by our door.

It said... "Many of you may be unaware, but our beloved neighbor, X, recently passed away on October 4th, 2009. Her death was very unexpected after a sudden hospitalization. She left behind a loving husband, and two sweet young girls..."

That put everything into perspective. Most of the stuff we are all grumbling about is so inconsequential, isn't it?
WE ARE HERE. Let's stop grumbling, and make today count.

(For a related post, please go read this over at Boondock Ramblings. Oh, and grab a tissue).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The One Who Somehow Got Away

When I was dating, my grandma would say to me, "Well, Jenny. There's plenty of fish in the sea!" I would usually reply, "Yea, but grandma, you have to deal with a lot of worms!" This is a story about one of the worms.

We met at a club. I was dancing with my friend Rebecca, when this huge, sweaty guy leaned over to scream something in my ear. "WHAT?!", I screamed back. "DID ANYONE EVER TELL YOU, YOU LOOK LIKE KATE JACKSON?", he inquired, grinning at me. I already don't like you. Why start out with a corny line? Just say hello. Kate Jackson?! Puh-lease. Wow, are you sweaty! And...Big. Nothing wrong with that, but, geez, I don't normally date guys who have bigger boobs than I do! Oh please, just go away!

Sometimes people should really go with their first impression, but I didn't. He kept talking to me all night, and I danced with him against my better judgement, and even gave him my phone number when he asked. Why didn't I give him a fake number? Stupid! Because I am lonely and desperate. It has been far too long since I had a date. Sigh. He seemed nice enough. How bad could it be to go on one stinkin' date?

After talking to him several times on the phone, I deemed him "normal", and we planned our first date. Since we lived about an hour away from each other, I told him I would meet him halfway. He said that there was a great place to go, with batting cages, mini golf, go carts, etc.

At the time of this date, I was going to graduate school, living on campus, in a house with 2 friends. Before I left for the date, I went across the hall to tell them where I was going. They were out. Guess I'll tell them about the date later.

The place with the batting cages, mini golf, go carts, etc was fun. The conversation was flowing nicely, and I was enjoying myself. When we did everything there was to do there, I asked "Now what are we doing?" He answered that it was "a surprise", and that we would have to go in his truck. A surprise! I love it when guys plan surprises! How romantic! We continued to talk, as he drove down the road, but at some point I started noticing that we were a bit off the beaten track.

Where is this guy taking me? There's nothing out here! All I see are fields, a few trees, and some cows. Where are we?
"Where did you say we are going?"
"I didn't. It's a surprise".

Right. A surprise. Where could we possibly be going out here in the middle of no where? There are no businesses out here. I haven't even seen a house for probably a mile now! (Looking at him) Why is he grinning like that? Oh my God! OHMYGOD! What if he is... oh, that is ridiculous... he's just a normal guy... THATS WHAT EVERYONE SAYS ABOUT THE MURDERERS, AFTER THEY KILL PEOPLE!!!...oh man, I need to calm down. It's fine. He's just taking me somewhere...

"Could you just give me a hint about where we are going, please?"
"Nope. All I'll say is that I think you're really going to enjoy it".

OHMYGOD! He's going to rape me, then kill me! No one even knows I am out with this guy! No one knows where I am! I didn't even tell anyone his last name! Wonder if Rebecca could pick him out of a lineup?! How many drinks did she have that night? CRAP! I'M GONNA DIE!!

"What? Oh, yes, it is a pretty sunset".
I hope it isn't the last one I ever see! Oh! I like my life. I don't want to die. He might be bigger than me, but I'm not going down without a fight! (Looking at him again) He's huge! What was I thinking? I am weak. There is no way I can fight him off. Didn't I take a self defense class once? Remember, DamnIt! Remember something! A weapon! I need a weapon of some kind.

(Digging through my purse) Why do I always carry such a small purse? What could possibly be in this tiny thing? Credit cards? What the hell damage am I gonna do with a credit card? What I need is a pen! I could gouge his eyes out with a pen! Wow, could I really do that? That would be so gross. HELLO! HE'S GOING TO KILL ME! Where is my pen?

"What? Oh, we're almost there? Really? So soon?"
WHERE'S MY DAMN PEN?! I'M GONNA DIE! I have to think of something fast. Keys!! I'll jam a key between my fingers and gouge out his eyes with my keys! I can do this! OHMYGOD am I really doing this? (Closing my eyes to say a prayer) Lord, please don't let me die today...

"Here we are! I didn't say you had to close your eyes! I'm sorry it took a while to get here, but I heard this little festival was having fireworks tonight, and you said you love fireworks, so I thought this would be cool. Jen, are you okay? You look a little pale".
(Trying to breathe normally) "I'm fine. Just a little car sick, I guess. It's a fair! Way out here, in the middle of no where! Who would have thought!"

Believe it or not, we actually dated for 3 months after that, before he dumped me. Yep, that's right. The Big Boobed guy dumped ME. Oh well, at least he didn't kill me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We Got To Go Places

Today we went to Dylan's friend CJ's 3rd birthday party. It was at a park. There were swings, a slide, see saws, pizza, cake, and favors. What could be more fun than that, for a 2 1/2 year old boy? Not much.

After that, we went grocery shopping, then out to eat.

While walking into the restaurant to eat dinner, Dylan said, "It was a beautiful day! It stopped raining, and the sun came out, and we got to go places!" Man, I love that kid! Positive thinking at the age of 2 1/2! I have to be doing something right. Watching Jim and Dylan laughing, and throwing leaves at each other today, my heart was full. I am so lucky.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Home Renovation Post 1

Since the end of July, we have lived in our new house for ONE YEAR. It is in all caps because I find this fact shocking, and well, just plain unacceptable. We have lived here for ONE YEAR, and we have not painted a single wall since moving in. Pitiful.

We only had a few weeks between the closing and the move in date, and during that time, we...

1. Removed the sliding glass doors on the closet in Dylan's room. (Jim)
2. Bought wood doors for the closet, and painted them white. (both of us)
3. Chose knobs, and installed doors. (Jim) (Jim will say "There were many steps you skipped. It was more involved than that! I had to.. blah, blah, blah". You get the picture - new doors).
4. Painted the walls of Dylan's room blue, then painted clouds. (both of us, but I admit, Jim's clouds were better)

Since then, though, not a drop of paint on my clothes or in my hair (I'm a messy painter). Oh sure, we have ideas. It is getting the idea part to the execution part that seems to be the problem.

So for my memory's sake, and hopefully your enjoyment, I'm going to recap what we did manage to complete this past year. I'll start with the biggest endeavor.

When we moved in, the yard came with a pool. Actually, it was more like the backyard WAS a pool. The above ground pool and deck took up almost the entire yard. I don't mind pools. I like to swim. But, I also like to play in the sandbox, slide down the slide, jump in a pile of leaves in the fall, run in the sprinkler in the summer, make a snow angel in the winter, etc. None of that was possible with that pool taking up all the space. Also, we didn't have the time or money to maintain it. I think we swam in it 3 times last summer.

Then, we decided it had to go. Here's what we started with... (Picture taken in March)

After sending out an email to the 50 members of the Mom's Club saying, "Free Pool & Deck to anyone who can come take it down and get it off my yard", the pool was gone by April 4th. Problem was, they didn't want the deck. Then, we had to find some other people to come take the deck. That started on April 9th.

From April 9th-19th, my backyard looked like this...

Nothing says, "Come on over for a playdate" like rusty nails sticking out of wooden beams!

After April 19th, our yard looked like this...

Believe it or not, we actually took Dylan out to play with it like that a few times! We climbed on the rocks, dug in the dirt, and avoided holes in the yard. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And, believe me, we were desperate. I say that because our yard looked like that until... (wait for it)... AUGUST 4th!!! Yes, that's right, it took an entire summer of dealing with idiot landscapers before we finally found someone willing to come out and, oh I don't know, TAKE OUR MONEY!!! Seriously, we would sign a contract with someone, and they would be abducted by aliens, never to be seen again. I kept looking for "Landscapers Abducted By Aliens" stories in the news, but never saw any. Huh.

By August 14th, our yard looked like this...

We got rid of the ugly pine trees, that I'm allergic to, and that were also taking up a lot of space, and plan to replace them with smaller, prettier trees next spring.

By August 19th, the grass started coming in. I never thought I would be so excited about grass, but watering it 3 times a day was a pain! I just knew in a month we would have a gorgeous, lush lawn for Dylan and I to play in. Sometimes I'm so optimistically naive, it's laughable.

As of today, we have patches of dirt, and patches of grass. Where the landscapers put the dirt and topsoil, the grass is a yellowish color.

We are not at all satisfied with the result, so Jim decided he needed to get more seeds to try and fill in the patchy spots. He needed to aerate the soil, so he made the "Aerator 2000".

I knew when he told me the idea that it wouldn't work. I knew when he showed me the finished "Aerator 2000" that it wouldn't work. But, we have been married 7 years and in that time I have learned a few things. I have learned when I hear an idea, to nod enthusiastically. I have learned to let him tinker away in the basement, making who knows what. I have learned it is better not to ask questions. I have learned to say, "Ooh", and "Wow" when I see the finished products, no matter how ridiculous they look. I have learned to just sit back, and watch the funny man tire himself out pushing the "Aerator 2000" into the dirt until his arm just about falls off, and he finally admits defeat, and decides to go buy more topsoil. After all, it's not like I have any ideas myself. He'll figure it out eventually and we'll have a beautiful, lush lawn. I hope.