Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010 Memories

Looking around at my Christmas decorations, and the toys that have taken over the house, I found myself thinking, "What will I remember most about this Christmas?"  Then, "What do I want to remember the most?"

I want to remember Dylan's constant singing of Christmas carol after Christmas carol...

I want to remember that despite getting a bunch of cool new toys, Dylan was happy to do this...
(He's dancing, if you don't recognize that signature move).

and this...

I want to remember his excitement about helping us decorate the tree...

I want to remember Dylan simply asking us for markers, and Santa for paper.

I want to remember us playing our traditional Christmas game, where you can steal a present off someone at the end, and how Dylan was eyeing "Mi-Ma"'s big bag of M&Ms until it was finally his turn.  When he stole them off her, and she pretended to cry, and he reached up to pull her hands away from her face, saying "It's okay.  I'll take something else".

I want to remember the innocence and joy of Dylan at 4, and now, thanks to this post, I will.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Some Christmas Surprises

Weeks ago, when we asked Dylan what he wanted for Christmas, the only thing he would say was "New markers!"

Before he could talk, when I would take him to the mall, and start to get close to the Santa line, he would get a frantic look in his eyes and sign "All done!"  When he could talk, the answer to "Do you want to see Santa?" was always, "No.  No. Not really.  No".  I wasn't going to push it.  I was somewhat proud, to be honest.  Sitting on some guy's lap you don't know isn't a great idea, if you really think about it.

This year was looking to be a repeat of last year.  Every night at dinner, Jim drinks a Coke.  Every night at dinner, Dylan would ask Jim to turn the Coke can around, so he didn't have to look at the picture of Santa!  

So, this....

was a bit of a shock.  My parents took him to the mall one day, and returned with this, much to our surprise.  A few days earlier, while we were eating, I asked Dylan, 

"Are you excited about the presents you're going to get for Christmas?  What do you think you'll get from Santa?"  
"Well, I want him to bring me paper for upstairs, because we ran out".
"Paper for upstairs?", Jim replied.  "I don't think "Santa" knew you wanted paper.  All you said you wanted was markers".
"You and Mommy are getting me markers, but I want Santa to bring paper".
"Well, you really should have told Santa that.  I don't think he knows.  You might need to write him a letter."
I guess he decided he didn't have time to write a letter, so he would have to go straight to the big man himself.  I'm pretty sure my kid might be the only kid in America who sat on Santa's lap and just asked him for paper!

The other Christmas surprise was a very large, very expensive one.  Jim and I had planned not to buy each other anything this year.  But, as is often the case, things didn't go according to plan.  When this...

completely died the week before Christmas, we didn't have much of a choice.  So, I got a clean, new refrigerator for Christmas.  WOOHOO!  Not exactly what I wanted, but when you don't have a working refrigerator, you really, really appreciate the beauty of a new one.  (I didn't take a picture of the new one.  It is basically the same, just shinier, cleaner, and with a little more space).

The last Christmas surprise was at Dylan's new preschool.  First, there was a field trip on the day that was going to be his first day, so I postponed it.  Then, school was cancelled due to the weather the next day that was supposed to be his first day.  So, his first day ended up being ONE day before the Christmas program.  We didn't have high expectations for the Christmas program.  So, when Dylan came through the doors dressed as Joseph, we were shocked.
(I wish I could show you a picture of "Mary".  Let's just say she looked...
less than thrilled about standing next to her fiance).

When they handed my kid a horse on a stick, which was supposed to be the donkey, Jim looked at me and said, "Did they really just hand him a STICK?!  They don't know him very well yet".  Minutes later, all the kids were sitting on the floor, hidden from sight, while one teacher started to tell the Christmas story.  Suddenly, a horse head appeared above the pew.  Up and down, up and down.  Jim's face turned red, and he started to shake, trying not to laugh.  When the teacher walked over and calmly pushed the horse head down, only to have it pop back up again, I almost snorted.

Soon, all the kids were around the manger, one little girl holding a star on a stick high above everyone.  Suddenly, the horse head was up in the air, bobbing around, and coming dangerously close to taking out Mary, or knocking baby Jesus out of the manger.  Would you believe that the video camera ran out of battery before we got that gem on tape?!  And, then, my camera battery died!  All I had was my crappy point and shoot, which gives everyone eerie white eyes.  GAH!

You'll never see the Christmas story in quite the same way, will you?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Decorating

I haven't really been in the Christmas spirit this year.  Okay, the truth is, it's not one of my favorite holidays.  I'm never all that excited about it.  I couldn't figure out why.  Then, last Friday, when the three of us were driving somewhere, Dylan said something that made it crystal clear.

"I can't wait until Merry Christmas is over, so I can go to the beach!"

Apparently, my kid is as much a warm weather person as I am! The temperatures have been in the 20's around here.  But, it is the gray, gloomy skies that get me. I was unmotivated for decorating.

But, Dylan was so excited about helping decorate the tree, that it got me excited.

He loved hanging the ornaments on the tree, constantly saying, "Here?! Is this a good place?"
Every few minutes he would exclaim, "It is lookin' good!"

When we put the train under the tree, he ran along side it, back and forth, back and forth. Winter is a tough time for a kid with that much energy!

Each ornament we took out of the box brought back a memory, and had me smiling. And, I realized that the decorating isn't really that important. It was the memory we were making, right then, with Dylan singing along to the Christmas songs on the radio, Jim grumbling about the Christmas lights and saying "That's it! I quit!" when another strand wouldn't turn on (like he does EVERY YEAR), and me snapping picture after picture.

Dylan's handprint when he was a year old

Christmas picture when Dylan was 2

Picture of Jim when he was 4 months old

Picture of Dylan when he was just born

Christmas picture when Dylan was only 1 month old

Backpack ornament with picture of Dylan on his first day of preschool

Christmas card picture when Dylan was 1

Our First Christmas together as husband and wife

The hand painted ornament we got on our vacation to Cancun, our last trip before Dylan!

Jim and I on the day were married

The three of us at Dylan's 1st Birthday party

Dylan's tree

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CSN Stores

It's that time of year again.  The time to find the perfect gift for your kid.  Luckily, (well, maybe unluckily for him), his birthday is in November, so he gets so many toys that by the time Christmas rolls around he's left not needing or wanting much.  The only thing he told us he wants is new markers.  But, I have to get him something else!  Well, lucky for me, I was offered the chance to choose something from CSN Stores to review.  CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from contemporary coffee tables to fantastic fitness equipment to cookware!  

Dylan isn't wild about coffee tables,  he would probably injure himself on fitness equipment, and um... I hate to cook.  But, they do have these blocks.  What kid doesn't love blocks?  Especially a maze loving one?

I'm also getting these.  He has had the big set, that covers the whole floor, for quite some time and sometimes will still bring a letter to me, proclaiming it the "Letter of the Day!" 

 So, look for a future review, and click over to CSN Stores and check them out!

Friday, December 10, 2010

10 on 10 : December

I've been wanting to do the 10 on 10 thing for months.  The gist is, you are supposed to take 10 photos over the course of 10 hours on the 10th day of the month and then link up with the other participants.  Every single month, I say I'm gonna do it the next month, and then the next month comes and someone forgets to remind me again.
If you want to do it, or see what others have come up with, go here.
So, here is my first attempt...

I forgot to start until 10am...
At 10am I was transferring the rigatoni meal I froze yesterday, right in the dish, into a freezer bag.  You didn't know I had such an exciting life, did you?

At 11am, I was eating lunch with my family.  We had very little food left in the house, so my lunch was 1/2 an english muffin with peanut butter, a slice of swiss cheese, a glass of water, and this yogurt...

After lunch, at 12pm, Jim was sitting at the table writing a list for himself, of things he wants to get done.  Dylan decided he needed to write his own list...
(1. Play  2. Play with Daddy 3. Play in the Living Room  4. GO (somewhere) 5. Draw a picture - He only knows what letter words start with!)

At 1pm, I was getting a shower and getting dressed, so I thought I'd show you a picture of myself in my underwear... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...NO... This is what I found when I came downstairs...

Is Dylan a teenager already?  What is with the slouch?

At 2pm, I was taking pictures of my Christmas Mini-Match game I made, before I mailed one off...

At 3pm, I got home from the post office, and grocery shopping...  What?!  You don't look like that when you get home from grocery shopping?

At 4pm, I looked like this...

At 5pm, we were in the car, on the way to dinner... in rush hour traffic...

Closer to 6:30pm...

At 7:00, we were at Overly's Country Christmas, looking at the lights...

I have to say, this is not as easy as it looks, but I did it!  Finally!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just An Ordinary Day

When I am stressed, often the most calming thing I can do is to spend some time at home, doing some quality bonding with Dylan.  Today, we painted...

Read a ton of books in our "tent"...

Sat for a really long time, eating lunch and enjoying the sun, which made a rare appearance through the clouds that have persisted this entire stinkin' month so far.  The longer I live, the more I realize that I am a sun worshipper.  "Oh, most glorious orb of warmth and light.  Why do you forsake me, leaving me hither whilst the clouds darken my foul demeanor?  I beseech you to stay yonder, to warmeth my declining dispostion mucheth.  Glory to you, forever and ever, Amen".  If the sun had a church I would be in the front row every Sunday, waving my arms and talking in tongues.  (I can hear my parents now... "Where did we go wrong with that girl?")

After lunch, we went for a "bus ride".  This is my view, from the back of the bus, looking at the driver who seems to be confused on exactly which way is the front of the bus...

We went to the karaoke bar, ("the singing place")...

Then, to the "drawing place", where you "need to make silly pictures"...

To the "pet store to look at some animals"... This is a PET store?!  Um... isn't this the same guy who was sitting in front of me on the bus?...

We finished the afternoon by "selling some cookies".  Oddly enough, Puppy was our only customer, and Puppy looks like he needs more than cookies to perk him up...

So often, we are rushing about, trying to get things done.  To accomplish something.  To cross things off our precious lists.   Sadly, we probably don't write "Spend quality time with my kids" on our lists, but we should.  It really should be listed as Number 1.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It Will Be Okay

I was a little worried when I wrote the previous post that it would be misunderstood.  I didn't want people to worry, or think that something terrible was happening.  Plenty of others have written similar posts, and no one batted an eyelash.  So, why did mine get such a reaction?

I think my dad summed it up when he said, "You've never written one like that before".  Yes, I do try to be a positive person in real life, and on my blog.  Maybe some would say that I appear to have it all together.  But, the truth is... I don't.  Some days it's mostly together, some days it's sort of together, some days it's spilling out the sides, and oozing onto the carpet.

Let's be real.  My house is never as clean as it should be.  There is always more organizing I would like to do.  I never cook a meal that would impress anyone.  I rarely leave the house thinking, "Damn, I look good".  (I'm laughing even as I write that).  Jim and I don't have date nights nearly often enough.  There are two rooms in my house that are a complete disaster (the studio and spare bedroom), and have been since we moved in.  I can NOT seem to get a handle on all the mail and paper clutter.

Why am I telling you all this?  So that you know you're not the only one who struggles to juggle it all.  We're all stressed.  We all have days when we just want to cry.  Even men, although they might not admit it.  So, yes, I am fine.

Three weeks ago, I lost my 20 hour a week nanny job.  The other nanny for the family told them she needs to work full time, and she's been around longer.  This is my last week.  Truthfully, when I found out, my initial reaction was complete relief.  Which was quickly followed by fear, and thoughts of "What am I gonna do?"  I  have to work.  Even working 20 hours a week, we were struggling.

I've been struggling with the question "What do I want to do?" since high school.  I always had many interests, but there wasn't one dominant thing I knew I wanted to do.  Recently, when I asked myself, "What do you want to do?", the only clear answer was, "Not be a nanny!"

My first nanny job (in 2004) was fantastic.  I loved those sweet girls and they loved me.  I remember calling Jim once and saying, "I'm sitting in the sun, at the zoo, and getting paid to watch them play!"

My second nanny job was pretty good also.  I loved the couple I worked for, and the baby girl was mostly pleasant and adorable.  After that job, though, (aside from the "Dream Job", which only lasted a short time as dreams usually do), things have steadily gone downhill.

I'm DONE.  I NEED to do something else.  So, I had an interview last week, and I've taken a new job.  It is a research position, through Pitt campus, in which I will go into preschools and conduct tests one on one with the children, to learn about pre-writing development.  I'm excited about it, but also nervous and uncertain.  Who knows if I will enjoy it?  Also, it doesn't start until March, with some training in February.

In the meantime, I'm doing some work online.  Yes, I know that is terribly vague - sorry.  I can't talk about it until I am doing it successfully.  My ego NEEDS to not fail at this, so that is where the pressure lies.

The other stress involves Dylan.  Because I lost my job, and our finances are teetering at the edge of a cliff, we decided to switch to a less expensive preschool.  This will be the THIRD preschool the poor kid has been in.  He doesn't seem to care, but I am nervous.  There are so many unknowns at the new place, and in the coming months in general.

But, as someone wise once said, "To attain success, the first step you take will be to make the decision to START".   Here we go...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Didn't Cry

There are a lot of changes on the horizon for this family.  I'm not ready to go into specifics yet, but I will say that it is all a bit (understatement) scary and stressful.  I've been making lists to remember to complete lists, and my brain is going ten thousand miles a minute.

So, this morning when I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm went off - too darn early, but too late to really go back to sleep - I almost cried.

When I stumbled downstairs with Dylan, and looked out the window to find that it was snowing (again) and freezing cold - I almost cried.

When Dylan was trying to get out a difficult poop for what had to be 20 minutes, and kept screaming "MOMMY!" every five minutes, so I would come in the bathroom, only to have him say something like, "When I poop, it goes PLOP and splashes my bum!" - I almost cried.

When I was getting dressed and putting makeup on, and thought it was so nice that he was playing quietly, only to find that he had tangled the blind cords so bad that it took me about...huh...20 minutes to untangle them - I almost cried.

When I decided to get his new remote control flip race car out, and tried to put the SIX batteries in it, and could NOT get the batteries in after trying for about... oh... 20 minutes - I almost cried.

When I put his lunch in front of him, and he immediately went, "THAT's not what I wanted" (again) - I almost cried.

When I took him for his four year old well visit, and he (as usual) turned into the Incredible Bouncing Off The Walls Boy, talking the doctor's ears off, saying "You're not Dr. Wolf!  You know... that doctor whose name is Dr. Wolf.. He's not really a wolf, like in the story, you know... about the three little pigs...His name is Dr. Wolf, but he doesn't look like a wolf and he doesn't act like a wolf, and hey, you have Elmo on that thing on your neck... But you don't have Bert... You need to get Bert, and you don't have Big Bird... you need Big Bird, and..."  all during which the poor doctor and I were TRYING to carry on a conversation of our own - I almost cried.

Really, I could go on and on here, but I think ( I KNOW) you other moms understand what I'm saying here.  Some days when someone asks how your day was and you answer, "I didn't cry", they just don't understand how BIG of an accomplishment that was.

(P.S.  Elissa at Birch Swinging and I seem to be having similar days.  I'm pretty sure if she asked how my day was, and I answered, "I didn't cry", she would just nod knowingly and say "Good for you").
(P.P.S.  For those of you non-moms or males reading, I'm fine.  Everything is cool.  Nothing to worry about.  : ) )

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Dylan

Dear Dylan,

Now that you are four, I find myself wanting to squeeze as much "fourness" as I can out of my days.  I want to swim in it, to eat it up, to bask in all its glory, because four seems especially magical to me.

So, let me tell you the three words that I would use to describe you at the wonderful age of four - Creative, Smart, and Joyful.

You are Creative.  Your brain is constantly coming up with new ideas.  Toys are seldom used for what they were intended for.  A block is "a piece of cake", a pillow is a "castle", a butterfly net is a "cooker's hat".  The thing about creative play is that it can be quite messy, so I have to try to just go with the flow.

You like to make up your own games, and get your Daddy and I to play them with you.  We are often confused as to how exactly someone wins the game - that part never seems important to you.

Ever since you became obsessed with The Little Einsteins, (around 3 1/2), you've loved mazes, or "pathes".

Yes, you are definitely Smart.  You are doing simple addition and subtraction problems, and starting to sound out words.  Your memory astounds your Daddy and I.  You memorize books, character's lines in your videos, and the words to songs you've only heard a few times.

But, more important than being smart, in my book, is being wise, and you are that also.  You know what matters in life.  Like the other day, when I asked what you want to do with the money in your bank, and you said, "Give it to the poor people".  Or, when we asked what you wanted for your birthday, and you said, "I don't need any more toys".  You seem to find more joy in experiences than in things, and that makes me incredibly proud.

The adjective that I use the most to describe you is Joyful.  You are usually in a good mood, smiling that infectious smile of yours.  You love to laugh and you do it loudly!  You do everything loudly!  I'm not sure you have a quiet voice.

You love music.  You love to sing and dance.  You still love "Puppy".  (Wonder how long that will last?!)

You love your Daddy.  I try not to take it personally when you tell me Daddy is number 1, and I'm number 2.  Number 2 is not too shabby, after all. (But, you don't have to rub it in ALL the time).

I love you, Dylan, my sweet ambassador of joy.