Monday, September 29, 2008

Dylan at 22 Months

Dear Dylan,

Now you are 22 months old, and you seem to learn something new every day. I love to hear all the new words that you are saying. Sometimes, they are so clear, like "toofbrush", and "pineabble". Other times you get frustrated because I have no idea what you are trying to tell me. So, you just try to yank me to the item or place you want. There are times that you pull on my legs with such strength, I think I will fall over.

One place you really, really love to go is to the mall. (You stretch the word out, like you live in Jersey - "maaaall"). Yep, I have a mall rat already. Everytime you see a few stores together, you say, "Mommy, D-D, maaall, NOW!" You used to love Mr. Rogers play area, but lately you just want to escape to go up those darn escalators! ("Up-Down!") You still like to look at the fish, and go to the toy store, but your absolute favorite thing to do is ride the "choo-choo". You LOVE trains. We bought you a train table and you play with it all the time.
(*I tried to add a funny video here, but Blogger is not cooperating. Go here to see it.)

You love to go places. When I take you to the playground, you astound me with your climbing skills! You are already going up rope ladders and climbing steps to the highest slide on every playground. When your daddy was little, he wanted to be a stunt man. Something tells me that you might be following in his footsteps!

Another way that you are like your daddy is that you will eat almost anything. Sometimes I can't believe what you will eat! One day last week you chose to eat black olives over strawberry-apple puffs! You love fruits and vegetables, and I am very happy about that. (Maybe you can help remind me to eat my veggies?) What I don't like is how impatient you are at mealtime. You want fed, NOW! NOW! NOW! Your table manners need a lot of work, kid. Like, how about chewing one piece at a time, instead of becoming the human vacuum?

You have become very social, and you love to be around other kids. You seem to prefer boys, and you like to be around men. Your a man's man, but don't forget to give your old mom some love sometimes, okay? Actually, today I called home from work, and you said, "I love you, Mommy", in the sweetest, clearest voice! That moment was one of my top five best ever, Dylan.

You are really enjoying school. You run ahead of me to get into the room. A couple of weeks ago, the teacher sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". The sight of you and the two little girls in your class all touching different body parts, trying to imitate her was almost too much cuteness for me to take.

You are so funny. You are always making us laugh. Like how you'll watch the video of yourself a year ago, and look at me and giggle, as if to say, "I was a riot, then". Or like when I took you to Giant Eagle, reciting the six items we needed over and over, and then later, you told me the two items we still needed - "Bwead, Milk, Mommy!". (Your daddy would have forgotten two minutes after I told him!)

You are finally done with physical therapy! I really can't believe how far you've come. When the therapist gave you the evaluation of all your skills, you were testing at a 3 year old level on some things! You already know your colors, letters, and a few numbers. At this rate, you'll be reading by 4! You might want to pace yourself. You've got plenty of time. I'm really proud of you, though. You are such a sweet boy, and I love you more than words can say.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Found You

For reasons I'm unsure of, little kids all seem to love to play hide and seek. At one of my nanny jobs, the two girls, (4 and 5 years old), would always hide in the same two places. Always. When I would find them, (either behind the drapes, or behind the bedroom door), they would always seem astounded. How did I keep finding them?! One told me, "You're a really good finder!"

The two boys at my last nanny job, (Big Bro, age 10, and Little Bro, age 8), really loved to play hide and seek. The first time we played, they deemed me "the finder". Their house was huge, so we had to set up the limitations first. "You can hide on the first floor or second floor. Not in the basement, outside, your mom and dad's room, or the office". With that established, I started counting. When I got to 50, I started looking half heartedly, figuring I better not find them right away, or it would ruin their fun. After 10 minutes of not finding them, I started really looking. After 10 more minutes of not finding them I started REALLY looking, my heart beating a little faster.

Suddenly, their mom walked in, a little breathless. "Where are the boys? I need to ask Little Bro something".
"Uh, err, well...we are playing hide and seek, so I'm not really sure". Not the best thing to tell a parent, I thought to myself, inwardly groaning. She yelled, "Boys! Come out right now!", and I watched Little Bro climb out of an armoire. He had been scrunched up on a shelf in there?! I would have never found him. Big Bro came running up the stairs, so I never found out where he hid.

My next experience with the game was when just Big Bro and I were at the house. When we went over the limitations, he asked, "How about just outside, on our property?" I agreed, but remembering my last experience, asked "What should I do if I can't find you?" He told me "the code" he and Little Bro used, then took off to hide.

After searching the back yard, side yard, front yard, and driveway, "Hide and Seek" began to feel more like, "Lost Boy", "Manhunt", or "Holy Crap, where the heck did that kid go?!" I decided I had to use "the code". As I wandered around the yard, waving at the men paving the driveway, and the neighbors, screaming, "I CONFESS!", I thought, "This cannot look good".
Suddenly, I saw him run out of the garden. I had looked in the garden! To this day, I have no idea where he was hiding.

During my dating years, I often felt like I was playing a very long, frustrating game of Hide and Seek. Where were all the good guys hiding? Would I ever find one? The limitations weren't clear. Where exactly was I supposed to look, and for how long, before screaming, "I GIVE UP"?

Somehow, I did find him one day, in a very unlikely place, (my computer), and the game finally ended. All that searching was finally over, and had been worth it. I won, and I won BIG.

I guess I am a "good finder".

(I'm so glad I found you, Jim! Happy Birthday! I love you.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why Men Shouldn't Take Messages

I wanted to add a link to my previous blog. I also wanted to add this picture, but I must have dated Blogger's crush, because she was out for revenge! An hour later, I conceded. Maybe I should have told her he was a mama's boy, and had a third nipple?

Anyway, since we were talking about men's clueless ways, here is a picture I got in an email.
Why men shouldn't take messages...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maybe I'm The Clueless One

I love my husband. I really do. There are times, though, that I must admit I feel like we are surely speaking a different language to each other. How is it that I can say "The sky is blue", and he can hear, "We need some glue"? (No, that is not an actual conversation we have had, but you get my drift).

Is it all men who cannot see things that are right in front of them? I can't tell you how many times I will start eating something and he will say, "We have apples?" I look at him as if he is new here, and I reply in as calm a voice as possible, "Yes, Jim, we have had apples since four days ago, when I went grocery shopping". "Where were they?", he always asks. I sigh, and patiently answer, "In the fruit bin, in the refrigerator". "Oh, I didn't look in there". Then, he will remark, "We are out of salad dressing, you know". "No, we aren't. It's behind the ketchup. Did you look behind stuff?" Then, he assumes the sheepish look that I adore, and that usually saves him, and says, "".

I have always just assumed that women are the smarter sex, and that we just need to be patient with them, the poor souls. But lately, I'm wondering if I'm really the clueless one. One day, recently, the three of us were getting ready to go somewhere. I was packing the bag and getting Dylan's coat on. Then, I turned to where I thought my cell phone should be. "Jim? Do you know where my cell phone is?" He looked at ME like I was new here, and said, "Are you serious?" "Yea, I'm serious. Where is it?" "I just stuck it in your shorts pocket!" Wow. I am a pick pockets dream, apparently.

What happened a few nights ago was even more ridiculous. We were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and Jim was eating chips. He has this habit of taking the chip clip off the bag, and sticking it on my clothes. I think he feels it is funny, or something. Who knows? Anyway, since I fail to see the humor, I usually just take it off and fling it on his side of the couch.

The next morning was my day to sleep in, (Saturdays Rock!), so when I got up, Jim and Dylan were already in the kitchen eating breakfast. When I walked in, Jim bust out laughing. I was thinking, "What? Is my hair sticking up? You should see your hair sometimes and I refrain from laughing". I was about to say just that, when he pointed to my shirt. The shirt I had slept all night in. The shirt that still had the chip clip, (which happened to be a clothespin), sticking out of it!

Do you remember the post I wrote when I told you that I call my dad "Magoo"? Jim said that he thinks I inherited the "Magoo gene". He said I should have called this post, "Magoo, Who?" But I know the truth. I just can't think straight because I'm so exhausted, trying to interpret that other language that Jim keeps speaking to me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Power = Cranky Jen

Yesterday we drove to Erie, (about a 3 hour drive), to see Jim's relatives. Keep in mind that Jim and I are both only children, with only a handful of relatives in our area. Holiday celebrations usually consist of a whopping 7 people - Jim's parents, my parents, Jim and I, and Dylan. So imagine Dylan's shock to walk into a room of 23 people, all staring at him! He loves attention, but that was a bit overwhelming. We had a great time, and started the trip home around 5pm.

We stopped at Eat N Park about half way home, where we endured ridiculously slow service. When we came out, the sky looked ominous. For some unknown reason, I had decided to drive. That's when the wind started. Have you ever driven a small car in 40 mph winds? Yea, really fun. We made it home in one piece, got Dylan to sleep, and sat down to watch the Steelers kick some Brown butt, (taped). Five minutes later the power went out. The trees outside started whipping around, and my wonderful husband did what he always does in that situation - he went outside to "enjoy the storm". Then, I did what I always do in those situations - begged him to stop being a crazy man and come inside.

Since we didn't know when or if the power would come back on last night, I called it a night and went to bed. Since we both have electric alarm clocks and my first full day of my new nanny job was today, I set a manual clock.

This morning the alarm clock, which was set for 6am, went off. Jim mumbled something, then mumbled it again, then once more. "Can you make the manual alarm stop ticking?" I leaned over and felt around the nightstand -not there. "Where is it?" I asked. "On the floor!" I got up and started feeling around the floor - nothing. "Where?!" (This whole conversation was conducted in super annoyed, half asleep speak). "On the floor!!" "I CAN'T FIND IT!" He got up and grabbed the clock, which he had shoved under a pile of clothes to lessen the ticking slightly, and I stumbled into the bathroom. Jim came into the bathroom holding the manual clock. He held it up and mumbled something. I thought he said, "This clock doesn't even work. It says 5 o' clock". I wasn't sure why he needed to get out of bed and interrupt me for that bit of information, so I grunted and continued my business. After a few minutes, he opened the door again to tell me in a very annoyed tone, "Didn't you hear me when I said that it is FIVE O CLOCK?" Apparently the electric clock got all screwed up going off and on. Great start to my morning.

Then, I drove through the maze of downed branches and non functioning traffic lights to work. The little girl I am now watching decided she did not like the idea of her mom going back to work at all! Much shrieking and crying ensued. It will be fine. She'll adjust, and hopefully next time, I'll get a full night's sleep. Does this post make any sense? I'm tired and I'm rambling, aren't I? I just have one more thing to say. I love electricity. Electricity is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Dylan's first day of school. The class is called "Together With Twos", so basically it is two year olds and their very anxious mommies in attendance. Dylan won't be two until November, but they made an exception because, well, they needed another kid! It is only Dylan and two little girls in the class.

What is it about first days of school that are so nerve wracking? I felt like I was back in high school, all nervous and disgusted with myself. I bought Dylan a new shirt to wear especially for today, but realized last night that I forgot to wash it. At 10:30 at night I realized that he didn't have a single pair of clean shorts. I ran down to pull his clothes out of the dryer, which were slightly wrinkled because they sat too long. Then I realized that I didn't have any clean clothes either. No time to do another load. I actually wore the same outfit I wore yesterday! Groan. How pathetic.

This morning, I did manage to get a shower and wash my hair, but I was having the kind of bad hair day that makes you think shaving your head is a better option than fixing it. I finally just threw a headband on, and after fighting with Dylan about him wearing his new shoes we were out the door. Then, back in the door for me to change from shorts into jeans because dang it, it was too cold!

When we arrived, Dylan marched right in ahead of me, to look the place over, investigating every area before giving it his stamp of approval. We met the teacher, who told us that she would always have a craft out, but that it was up to them if they chose to do it or just play for the first half hour. Knowing my son, my guess was that I wouldn't be putting any crafts up on our refrigerator anytime soon. Wrong - it was the first thing he did. Aside from a little confusion about what exactly you do with glue, no problems there.

Free play time went fine. The time I had been dreading since learning of the class came next - story time. Dylan LOVES books, and loves to be read to, but it has always been one on one, and he is always sitting in someone's lap reading. This time, he was supposed to sit on a carpet square and pay attention while the teacher read to everyone. Uh, yea, not so much. Instead, he shunned the carpet square, got up 3 or 4 times to choose his own book to look at, then left the area completely. When I took him back to the story area, where I tried to get him to sit on my lap, he became The Incredible Noodle Boy and slid right out of my lap, and grasp, before wiggling away to freedom.

By that time, story time was finished, and snack time was next. While the little girls sat nicely, listening to the grown ups make small talk and daintily chewing on their snacks, Dylan gobbled his pretzels and juice down like a human vacuum, before leaving the table to explore once again. The teacher called him "active". What she doesn't know is, that I taught in daycares and preschools, so I know all the codes. "Active" = whew, he's a handful, isn't he? You must be exhausted. Luckily, he charmed her by bringing her letter magnet after letter magnet, telling her what each letter was. So, he's "active", but he's also "smart".

Next it was outside play time. He plays pretty well with other kids, so that wasn't bad. There was a small incident, though, where he almost locked us all out of the building by pulling on the door that was propped open (with a brick! - "active", "smart", and "strong").

I have a handful of papers to read before the next class - the days of papers everywhere that you don't have time to read have begun early! I have his first craft ever up on the refrigerator. I have a week to buy new clothes, do laundry, and get a haircut. Or, I could always shave my head.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Grocery Shopping Sagas

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I had issues with the Giant Eagle where I used to live. Strange, scary customers, unbelievably rude cashiers, a very limited selection, and tons of unnecessary crap jamming the already too small aisles, were just a few of my gripes. I ask you, who buys their Steeler gear at a grocery store?!? How about a lawn chair? Weirdos.

Come to think of it, there was an incident at a Giant Eagle I shopped at years ago. At the time, I was single, had an extremely depressing job, and was smack dab in the process of grieving for Doug. I was depressed, stressed, and looking for a fight. Back then, I only shopped once a month, so my cart was overflowing. I found an aisle with only one person ahead of me, and started putting my stuff on the conveyer. As I plunked down the last item, the cashier looked at me and in a very bored tone remarked, "I'm closed now".

"I'm sorry. Did you just tell me you're CLOSED? After you watched me put all this on here?" (me waving my hands wildly)

"I didn't notice you".


"No, I'm closed now" (Then she.walked.away.)

I could just about feel the steam coming off the top of my head. I started loudly complaining to customers within earshot. I made a nice little spectacle of myself, and then I left the store in a huff. (Yes, the items were still there). When I got home with no bags, my roommate said, "I thought you went grocery shopping!?" Still in lunatic mode, I screamed, "I DID!!!" Then, I threw stuffed animals against the wall for 20 minutes. "Good Lord, next time, I'll go", she muttered.

Since moving, I was anxious to find a new Giant Eagle, maybe one I actually wouldn't dread going to. I'm sure you are wondering why I don't shop somewhere else. Fuel perks - I love fuel perks. Anyway, there are two fairly close to our new house. My husband insisted that the one is much closer, so I went there last week.

At first I thought I had finally found it. Any store that has the diapers and toddler food in the same aisle as the candy completely understands my needs. But then, I started to notice them. More weird people. Have aliens landed in Pittsburgh, because I swear, people get stranger and stranger around here. I saw a woman wearing her boyfriend's shorts, which were probably 2 sizes too loose for her boyfriend let alone her. She had his belt on too, but still had to HOLD her pants up as she walked around the store. If she had to reach for something high, I was gonna get a full view of her panties.

When I went to leave, there were only 2 aisles open - one regular and one express. Two aisles?! Insanity. The whole time I was waiting in line, the guy bagging groceries was doing a one man routine. Think Robin Williams, but without the funny. "Hey, somebody wants cookies! Better grab some milk! What? No milk? HAR HAR HAR HAR".

Okay, on to Giant Eagle Number 2. Hallelujah! It is huge, with a 24 hr pharmacy, a dry cleaners, a really nice flower section, a place to drop off your kids for babysitting while you shop, people giving out samples all over the store, and friendly cashiers.

When it was my turn, the cashier looked at Dylan in the cart, and asked, "I'm just curious, what aisle did you pick him up in?"
"The weekly specials - thank God it wasn't a buy one get one free deal"
(Laughing) "Hey, have you ever watched that show, Jon and Kate Plus 8?"
"The show that makes everyone feel better about their life? Yea, it's hilarious. Did you see the one where she yells at him for breathing? Blah, Blah, Blah".

This whole exchange may seem unimportant to some, but for someone like me who was used to only being grunted at, "Haf a nice day", which sounded oddly like, "I hope you die", it was BIG. I think I skipped out of that store.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Apology Letter

Dear Summer,

I feel awful. You left and I didn't even say goodbye. You know how much I look forward to your visits each year, and I truly didn't mean to neglect you this time. It just happened. This looking for a new house/showing a house/buying a house/packing up a house/selling a house/unpacking a house/selling a house stuff has been so time consuming that I didn't get to spend as much quality time with you as I normally do.

But Summer, trust me, I knew you were around. I felt your warmth on my face as I watched Dylan discover the joy of playing in the sand. (We were the palest family on the beach again this year!)

I watched water droplets from a fountain form a rainbow, as he and I sported cherry moustaches after enjoying some italian ice.

I listened to the infectious sound of laughter when he decided that sliding down a slide was incredibly fun, and often ridiculously funny.

I watched in amazement as he became a social butterfly, and play-dates became a necessity.

I marveled at his strength, as he picked up stones almost as big as his head, to throw in the creek.

I listened as he made animal noises at the farm, and got up close and personal with the "Moo", "Baa", "Bawk, Bawk", "Neigh", and "Quack".

I felt the cool, soothing water as we splashed around in the pool.

We swung, we quacked, we felt the wind in our hair.

Dylan has adjusted to our new house so easily, as if he doesn't miss the old house even a tiny bit. (I sure don't).
I am so happy to be in our new neighborhood, with friendly neighbors and more space, that I know it was worth neglecting you a bit. But, as always, I will be eagerly awaiting your return.

Oh, and Summer? Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Did You Ever?

Did you ever have a moment when the world stood still, time stopped, and you witnessed something that took your breath away?

Did you ever have a moment that you wish you could have seen through a crystal ball years ago, when hope was lost, and pain was great?

Did you ever have a moment where your past and your future actually touched, and became entwined?

Did you ever have a moment that moved you deep down in your soul in a way that couldn't possibly be expressed with words alone?

I did, today.

This was that moment...