Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Posting at Boondock Ramblings

The always entertaining, Jonny's Mommy, over at Boondock Ramblings, asked me to be a guest poster. She is one of my favorite bloggers, so how could I refuse? I like her because even though she is refreshingly honest about the exhausting job that is raising a "very active" 2 year old boy, she obviously adores her son, loves being a mom, and keeps a sense of humor throughout it all. She gets my sarcastic sense of humor, and I love that. She is also one of the most loyal bloggers I know. Her son, Jonathan, is only about 2 weeks older than Dylan, and is totally adorable.

Click here to read my post, Toddlers Talk, and while you are over there, you really should read some of hers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Control Freak Perfectionist?

As soon as a woman finds out she is pregnant, she starts to imagine what her child will be like. She wonders, "Will he/she have my eyes? My husband's nose? My thick, dark hair? My husband's smile? My long, slender fingers?" She hopes that the child will inherit their good traits, and worries that they will inherit the bad.

I like to think that Dylan got some of his wonderful qualities from Jim and I. But, lately, there are a few traits that I'm noticing he has inherited that just make me feel bad for the poor kid.

My husband is a perfectionist. At work, as a graphic designer, and at home as a man who loves his tools, it often takes Jim a long time to complete a project. He is extremely concerned with the details, and he wants things to look perfect. It means that his finished products are amazing, but it also means he might drive himself (and someone else) crazy getting to that point.

I am obsessed with organization. I like everything to have a place. I have files for everything, I love labels, and I love to get rid of things I'm not using. I'm also a bit of a control freak. When I was a teenager, I told my mom I wanted to do my own laundry because she was "doing it wrong". (It is a testament to her remarkable amount of patience that she didn't slap me).

Poor Dylan was doomed. He is a mixture of the two of us, and it is both amusing, and scary. A few weeks ago, we took Dylan to Target, and we were walking past the area where everything is one dollar, when he stopped dead in his tracks. He ran over to the bins, obviously annoyed by something. The items were NOT in the right places. There were puzzles in with stickers, and stickers in with folders, and it HAD to be fixed before we could go any further.

Also, there are very specific ways that things should be done according to King Dylan. If we play with Mr. Potato Head, we must first separate the eyes, noses, mouths, etc., before we are permitted to proceed. When eating, if I try to give him a broken cracker - well, that is just insulting and will not fly.

Yesterday, as my mom was leaving, Dylan was dragging the bin with large blocks toward me, and my mom remarked on her way out, "Oh, you want to make a house, like you did with Mi-Mi?" Okay, I was pretty sure I could make a respectable house out of those blocks, but Dylan had his doubts. I messed up the very first block, apparently, because he was rolling on the floor screaming, "NO!!" "What?! That's not how you want it?" "No!! Like dis!", the King explained. After ten minutes of that, I was stressed out!

My kid is an enigma. He throws himself into things with passion and enthusiasm, but completely sweats the small stuff. Maybe the three of us can take a class on "Not sweating the small stuff"? I'll get my planner, Jim will make a checklist, Dylan will line up our shoes by the door, and we'll be ready to go.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Can I Get The First Poop?

Well, we have embarked on that "wonderful" adventure that is potty training. As a mommy blogger, it is a requirement that I write a potty post, isn't it? Well, here you go...

A few months ago, I started reading "Potty Training For Dummies". Oh, I had no idea. What is it about potty training that makes a well educated, intelligent person feel like a complete and total doofus? I read the book. I did the research. I was ready. Or so I thought.

A few weeks before Christmas, I took Dylan to Babies R Us, and let him peruse the potty aisle's assortment of tricks. He showed special interest in the Elmo chair, which the child can high five, and which plays a variety of encouraging statements in both English and Spanish. Personally, it made me want to scream. Elmo's voice is at a range that I almost can't even hear, but I can hear, and that makes me want to rip my hair out. But, because I had my eyes on the prize, and my head in the clouds, I bought that one. (Later, when Dylan wasn't with me, because it was a special present from Santa)

On Christmas day, it was presented, wrapped in colorful paper, and accompanied by much "oohing" and "aahing". Dylan decorated it with stickers that he chose, and he even used stickers to spell out his name on it. He sat on it fully clothed several times that day. Everything was going according to plan.

My parents even bought him a CD with "potty music". Yes, that's right. Potty music. If you want to know the truth, the music isn't for the kids. It's for the grownups. Keeping a sense of humor throughout potty training without it, would be just about impossible. With it? Well, here's a sample...


(Jim said "these people need to get better agents". I said "they probably make more money than we do".)

I am going to get a lot of use out of these songs. Like this one, which I'm thinking of getting Jim to rig the guest toilet to play when the seat is lifted...



Or this one, which I think I'll play some day in the future, when Dylan brings his fiance and the future in-laws over for dinner. That way I can find out from the start if they have a good sense of humor, right? I'm thinking of putting it on during dinner, after appetizers, and before the main course. (I figure I'll cook then, heh).


(Catchy, aren't they? Now you'll be singing them all day. You're welcome.)

Dylan was interested in the songs, often requesting the CD, and getting a very serious expression on his face while following along with the book. He acclimated to the chair, sitting on it in the living room, family room, dining room and kitchen, before it finally found its way into the bathroom. We watched the potty video several times, before getting out the sticker chart, and going over the process. Then, he sat on it without clothes. Um, A LOT. He's been sitting on it for weeks, each time with his very patient Mommy sitting on the very uncomfortable toilet seat, reading him book after book after book. Each time, with no results.

Last week, after reading more of the Dummy book, I decided to try the hourly potty sit idea. Maybe I just wasn't getting the timing right? For an entire day, we sat there in the bathroom reading books every hour. The day went very fast, and very slow. Very fast because every time the timer went off, I just couldn't believe an hour had passed already and I had to trudge my annoyed butt into the bathroom, and muster up some fake enthusiasm once again! Very slow, because while waiting for your kid to "produce results" time seems to stand still. My back ached, my butt was sore from the uncomfortable seat, and hope was dwindling with each potty sit. We would finish the books, and I would happily ask, "Are you done?" "Yea", he would reply, and then stand up. Each time, I would glance desperately into the bowl - nothing. "@#$!", (I would say in my head). Out loud I would say, "That's okay, Dylan! You tried! Good job, buddy!" "!@$$%%%%^#@@, WTH am I doing wrong here?" (in my head). By the end of the day, when I heard the timer go off...
"Dylan, time to go potty, honey!" "!@##$@#$$, if I have to go in there one more time I might shoot myself" (in my head)

At that point, I sent out an S.O.S. in the form of a "help me" email to the 50 or so members of the mom's club. Many of them had gone through this agony, and had successfully made it to the other side, and I needed their advice. Within hours, I had a ton of emails, all offering different ideas! But, not one of them hit on it.

Why do I say that? Because last weekend, we went to Dylan's cousin's birthday party. At the party, Dylan watched two of his girl cousins pee on the potty. There was much enthusiasm, talk of "big kids", and prancing around in flower underwear. The next day was Sunday and we were too busy to even attempt the potty thing. But, Monday, when I got home from work, there were my parents greeting me at the door, with the news that Dylan peed on the potty twice! "DYLAN!!! YOU PEED ON THE POTTY?!? THAT IS GREAT!!! I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!!! Kiss, Kiss". "!@#$##@@#$$# Are you kidding me? I do all the hard work, and they get to be first?! !@#$!" (in my head) So apparently, what works for my kid? Peer pressure. I guess I need to set up a lot of play dates in the coming weeks, because holy crap (pun intended), I want to at least get the first poop.

(I'm kidding, Mom. I'm not bitter. Hmmpphh) I am still able to laugh about it. My sense of humor is still intact. Or it will be, once I play that darn CD again. Excuse me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Do You Want To Be?

I wrote a post, and I had a poem I wrote a few years ago that I wanted to include with it, but I have searched the whole house, and it has disappeared. Those of you who have moved recently - how long did it take for you to feel organized again? I'm going to hold off on that other post. While looking, I found something I wrote 15 years ago, when I was 21 years old. Turns out, I'm not SO different at 36 than I was at 21.

When You Grow Up

When you're a little kid, grownups ask you, "So, what are you going to be when you grow up?" The possibilities are endless. You can say anything, because at that moment you can be anything you want - a movie star, a ballerina, a fireman, a baseball player, president. No one holds you to that - to your dream of being whatever you say you'll be when you grow up. But, when you're an innocent, wide-eyed child, full of hope, everyone wants to know what you hope to be.

Suddenly, one day when you're much older, someone asks you, "So, what do you do?" You automatically answer that you're a mailman, or whatever, but it wouldn't be that. You would say "I'm in communications" to build it up because that's what you "are". Suddenly, people aren't asking you what you want to "be" anymore. They want to know what you "are". You've made your choice. Your destiny is chosen.

But, there are so many things to "be", how can you pick just one? Me, I want to "be" kind. I want to "be" loving. I want to "be" a good friend. I want to "be" a good wife. I want to "be" a good mother. I want to "be" successful. I want to "be" deliriously happy and content. I want to "be" an 82 year old grandma who skydives and drives a Harley to visit her grandkids.

I want to see it all. I want to experience it all. I want to "be" it all. I don't want to grow up.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day To Remember

My grandfather turned 96 yesterday. Actually, I think when you are that age, it should be "MY GRANDFATHER TURNED 96 YESTERDAY!!!" That's a big number, and the proper amount of enthusiasm is necessary. As a special present, he got to watch the Steelers win! (singing) "Pittsburgh's going to the Superbowl!"






See that smile? Can you feel the enthusiasm? Can you hear the laughter? Someday, when my grandfather is no longer with us, I think that is what I will remember most about him - his laugh. He loves to laugh, and he laughs often. Yesterday, he laughed A LOT. The cause of the laughter? My crazy kid, that my grandfather adores. I think seeing Dylan might have been his favorite part, even topping the Steeler game! When he was opening his gifts, Dylan had to help. Dylan opens gifts with gusto - RRRIIPP! Watching the two of them - my heart was full. It definitely topped the game for me.








Friday, January 16, 2009

...As I threw my own wardrobe into the trash...

If you've ever watched "What Not to Wear", on TLC, you know the drill. Friends, family, and co-workers gather with the hosts, Stacey and Clinton, to bombard some poor, fashionably challenged nominee who has no idea what is about to hit them. They are almost always shocked and embarassed, and some are even angry and mortified. Then, they are told that they have been secretly filmed for 2 weeks, and that they are going to be forced to view the proof of their fashion faux pas right then and there, along with their loved ones and millions of TV viewers.

If that isn't bad enough, then they have to travel to New York with their entire pathetic wardrobe, so that Stacey and Clinton can mock them and their clothes, while they try awkwardly to defend themselves. Then comes what has to be the cruelest part - 360 degree mirrors - the horror!

I don't paint a pretty picture, do I? All that being said, I was wondering if you could all nominate me? Please?! I'm serious. It would be good TV, I'm telling you. I would be the only person in the history of the show to run towards them, hugging them with such force that I actually knock them over, and then kissing Clinton on the mouth. Or maybe both of them. Who knows? I'm a loose cannon. I would also be the only person in history to laugh maniacally as I threw my own wardrobe into the trash can with glee.

I'm not gonna lie. The 360 degree mirrors would traumatize me. Maybe I would be the first person to fall down on the floor in a heap, begging for it to be over? But it would be worth it for the $5000 to buy clothes that fit! That look good, and that fit. Imagine!

Some of you don't understand. When you need new clothes, you go to a store, look for your size in a color you like, try it on, pay for it, bring it home - WAH-LA! For me it is not that simple. If I buy jeans or pants, I'm in between two sizes. So, either I choose the smaller size and walk around uncomfortable, or the bigger size and wear a belt. (Or, you know, exercise and lose weight, heh). Then, I have to search for a store that has "long" or "tall" sizes to get the length I need. (I'm 5'11").

Then, we have my monkey arms. If I buy a shirt off the rack and put it in the dryer once or twice, the arms will be too short.

Then, there is the sheer joy of shoe shopping with size 11 narrow feet. As far as I know, there are 2 stores in my area that carry my size - Naturalizer and Littles. (Littles!! the irony) I went to Naturalizer a few weeks ago. Apparently they feel if you wear a size 11 narrow, you are an old lady with bad eyesight, because WOW, those were some ugly, old lady shoes! On to Littles, where I still didn't have a lot of choices, but those I did have were actually stylish. I found tennis shoes that fit - $134! I found black dress shoes that fit - $175! I found a pair of brown shoes that fit that almost made me cry. They were so cute that I might even get compliments on my shoes for the first time in my adult life! - $175! Is it just me, or is that crazy? Do people really pay that for shoes? Stacey and Clinton would say "it's an investment". Stacey and Clinton make more money than I do.

Jenn at Juggling Life met up with some other bloggers a while back, and posted this picture of their shoes on her blog.




I almost fell on the floor laughing/crying because if it were my shoes the picture would look like this...

Sad, and yet oddly hilarious, isn't it? Maybe it's just me - insanity breeds hilarity, I'm thinking.

So, anyway, back to my request..Could you all just go nominate me now? If they need convinced I'm sure the picture of my shoes will seal the deal. Look out Clinton.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If My Books Could Talk

Sometimes I almost think that inanimate objects can talk. I know they can't, but if they could, this is what my books have been saying lately...


A Book's Plea

Look at me,
on a shelf I sit.

I've been sitting here
for quite a bit.

Inside of me
wild adventure looms.

But I just sit
in dusty rooms.

I tell a tale
of love so sweet.

Star-crossed souls
destined to meet.

Or a story
of great suspense,

With twists and turns
that are quite intense.

I hold passion,
horror, and mystery.

Poems written
with subtlety.

Turn off your computer.
Turn off your TV.

Put down your cell,
and spend time with me.

Grab a drink,
climb into bed.

It's time your
love of words was fed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kindermusik Redeemed

I took Dylan to a Kindermusik class a few weeks ago. Those of you that read this post will be shocked. The nanny job I had that required me to take "A" to Kindermusik class once a week has been over since December 1st. So, why? Why would I voluntarily subject myself to that kind of torture? One word - LOVE. The love a mother has for her child that makes her capable of doing anything.

You see, ever since Dylan became a social butterfly, craving other kids to play with, I've been looking for activities. The Together With Twos preschool class was a bust. It started with three kids, and by December was down to one - Dylan. He really enjoyed it, but with no social interaction, there really was no point. So once again, I am on the hunt.

Yes, there are preschools I could drop him off at, but with my new job, I'll be spending two very long days away from him already. I want something we can do together. I just had a (nagging) feeling that he would enjoy Kindermusik. Plus, they let you attend one class for free, so what did I have to lose (besides my sanity)?

We were going to attend the very last class in that 15 week session, so I was a bit concerned that all the other kids would be pros and Dylan would be dazed and confused. HA! Not quite. He tried to take over the class!

We got there early, and when the instructor put out the instruments for the kids to try, while everyone was arriving, I just had to laugh. When I went with "A", I would have to hand her an instrument from the bin, and try to get her engaged. Dylan, on the other hand, went right over the second she put the bin on the floor, and proceeded to dump out the contents. The other kids seemed a bit confused by this strange kid who felt the need to try out each and every instrument with great enthusiasm.

When it came time to clean up, my kid was the one telling the others where to put the instruments - "In dere!! In dere!!" Dylan bounced on my legs, pounded the carpet with his imaginary hammer, marched, sang, and danced, all with a big, goofy grin on his face. When we were to stand up and march in place, Dylan marched around and around everyone in the circle, while beckoning, "Come, Mommy!"

When we got to the part where you swing the kids up in the air, he let out a laugh from deep down in his belly. "Finally!", I thought. Jim said that I took Dylan because I needed closure. He said my life just wouldn't be complete until someone danced with me at a Kindermusik class. That could be true, but whether we go back or not, it was totally worth it, for that laugh alone.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time

Why am I such an emotional being? Why is it that a child's gentle, hesitant voice, singing a song, can stir such strong feelings in me? Why is it that a photograph of two sisters hugging can bring a tear to my eye? Why is it that an older couple, walking hand in hand always puts a smile on my lips?

Maybe I was emotional before, but it is not the same. I am not the same.

The first big change in me came after Doug died. Before someone dear to you dies, you don't give death much thought. You know it happens, but it is out there, way in the future. But, once death barges into your life, like an unwanted houseguest, it is impossible to ignore. It finds its way into all the crevices of your home, and even when it leaves, your home is never the same. You remember what it was like having it barge through your door, and the memories linger like faint traces of perfume.

After Doug died, I realized the value of time. Before, time was like a never ending dixie cup dispenser. If I had a bad day, tomorrow would be better. If I said something I wished I could take back, I would apologize the next time I saw the person. Things could always wait.

After he died, and the fragility of time became clear to me, time took on new meaning. There is an urgency now - a need to spend my time wisely. It is difficult for me to stay at a job that makes me unhappy. It is difficult for me to spend time with negative people. It is difficult for me to put things off.

When I leave someone I love, even for a short time, I often think, "Did I hug them? Did I say I Love You? Do they know how much they mean to me?" I start to go down that scary "what if" road more often than I probably should. I usually shake my head forcefully to rid the thoughts from my mind. It's not something that I want to focus on, but at the same time, there is a gift that comes in the understanding that life is uncertain. Appreciation. For little things, like sunsets, butterflies, and the smell in the air after it rains. For big things, like watching Jim and Dylan play, and spending time with my family. An appreciation for people - the ones who are always there for me when I need them.

The second big change in me came the day I looked into my son's eyes for the first time. It was as if I had been wearing sunglasses with the wrong prescription up until that point. The world immediately became clear to me, clear and bright and beautiful, and full of love. Time took on new meaning once again. Talk about an urgency! I had even less time in my days!

I did make one New Years resolution for 2009. I resolve to have pictures of our family hung on the walls of our new home this year. This might not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Other than that, I would just like to spend more time doing the things that I love, and less time doing the things that I don't. In 2009, I wish that for all of us.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Small Towns

I grew up in the suburbs, about one hour from the city, 20 minutes from the nearest mall or movie theater. My first and second years of college, I attended a school that was smack dab in the middle of no where. It was a bit unnerving.

I really don't think that I am a country girl. I think living on a big stretch of land, with no nearby neighbors, would make me a bit crazy. I need people, noise, and a bit of hustle and bustle. The traffic, and not being able to eat at a restaurant without waiting, I could do without, but still.

Every time that Jim and I drive through the boonies, I become perplexed. (It amuses Jim). Then come the questions. "Where do these people buy groceries? Get a haircut? Buy gas? Where is the nearest hospital? What if there is an emergency? Who do the kids play with - those cows in the field? How can they stand it?"

I would consider our old house city living, to an extent. So, yes, there were plenty of people around, but I didn't know any of them. Even at our new house, although the neighbors have mostly all been friendly, I don't know them yet. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable going over to ask for a cup of sugar, (you know, if I baked).

I never thought I would like living in a small town, where everyone knew my business, and I couldn't walk down the street without someone stopping me to gossip about so and so. But, today I got a taste of small town living, and I must say, it was pretty delicious.

I started my new nanny job the week of Christmas. I work with two girls, one 6 and one 3, two days a week. Today was the first day I took the younger one to preschool. The preschool is in a very small town. I had 2 1/2 hours to kill, and very few options in this tiny place, so I stopped in the coffee shop first. Not a Starbucks, mind you, but a little, cozy, ma & pa coffee shop with tablecloths on the tables. The owner worked behind the counter. I know she is the owner because she introduced herself to me! She came over, after I sat down, asking me, "Is this your first time in town?" Her smile was warm and welcoming, and she shook my hand while introducing herself. When I left, I heard her say, "Hope we see you again, Jen!" I get the feeling she'll call me by name next Tuesday, if I return, which of course I will. She knew the names of all the other customers, and I could hear her greeting them. "Hi Bill! How's your wife? Mary! So good to see you! How was your Christmas?"

When I walked into the tiny library next, I was convinced I had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. The librarian smiled at me as I entered, saying "Hello! How are you today?" I even got the feeling I could say more than "Fine" or "Good", and she would listen. We discussed the cold weather briefly, then she told me, "Let me know if you need anything".

There is a connection in small towns that is rare. It might be nice to walk down the street and have everyone know my name. It might be nice to feel connected to my neighbors. I might even enjoy hearing that gossip, especially if it's juicy.

***Thought you might like to know what happened after I wrote this. When it was time to pick up the little girl from preschool, I gathered my things and reached in my coat for my keys - no keys. I reached into my pant pockets - no keys. I looked in my purse - no keys. PANIC!! I went back to search the bathroom - no keys. I asked the librarian if anyone had turned keys in - no keys. She asked the other two employees - no keys.

Then, she talked me through where I had been. "Could they be in your car?" I ran out there and the car was locked. I had to lock it when I got out. At that moment the librarian, and two other people, (who I don't even think worked at the library), came out to look around my car to see if I dropped it. That is when the freezing rain started. We all rushed back inside and I searched again. I suddenly thought, "OMG, I'm gonna have to walk in the freezing rain to the school to pick her up, then call someone! I have FIVE MINUTES!!" Then, I had another thought - St. Anthony! (If you don't know about St. Anthony I will be telling that story another day). Honestly, one minute after praying to St. Anthony I took off my coat and checked the pocket in my sweatshirt - KEYS!!!

If I hadn't just moved all our crap into a new house, I'd probably be looking for a house in that town.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Confusion and Christmas Clarity

Forgive me for talking about Christmas in January, but time really got away from me. Remember that I said that Dylan wanted milk and a donkey for Christmas? Well, I might have been confused. I mean, I was confused. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm still confused. Talking to a toddler does that to you.

After Jim informed me that he thought Dylan was saying "cookie", we had this conversation...
video

I think he was saying "milk and cookies", but I'm not sure if that's what he wanted, or if that's what he wanted to give Santa?!

Last year at Christmas time, Dylan had no idea what was going on. He didn't know about Santa, and he wasn't interested in unwrapping presents. He was much more interested in showing off his new skill - walking - and seeing how many things he could now reach and pull down on top of himself.

This year, he took it all in. He soaked it up like a very absorbent sponge. He learned about Santa, and Rudolph, and the presents they would be bringing - if he was good. He listened, wide eyed, as he heard the story of Mary riding the donkey and giving birth to Jesus in the stable. He learned to sing "Jingle Bells", and "Rudolph". He "helped" his daddy put up the big tree, and he counted the snowmen that I put up on the mantle. He chose ornaments to put on his little tree, and he reminded me to turn it on. He marveled at the Christmas train display that we took him to, and I thought we would have to drag him out kicking and screaming. He opened presents with much pizazz, even ones that didn't belong to him (mine, Jim's, the ones on the wall at Kings, whatever). He made cards (with his daddy's help) for me, and his grandparents, saying "Merry Christmas". He opened a gift that was bigger than him...




and a very special present from Santa...



He got art supplies, puzzles, a doctor kit, and loads of new books, and as he opened his gifts, my obsessive compulsive kid put each one in a neat, orderly line.

Yes, he got all of us into the Christmas spirit this year. But my favorite part of all was during Christmas dinner, when my sweet, smart boy reminded us all of the true meaning of Christmas. In the midst of all the chomping and chatter, he started to sing, "Habby Berfday to you. Habby Berfday to you. Habby Berfday, Baby Jesus, Habby Berfday to you".