Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Ring Story

As some of you know, Jim and I were married in Jamaica, in a gazebo, overlooking the ocean. Not long after that, we were swimming in the warm, turquoise water. There was a platform, for sunbathers, floating out in the deep water, and Jim and I were lying on our bellies, talking, when he suddenly pointed to his left hand. "My ring!!", he exclaimed. "It fell off while we were swimming!" We had been married less than a week, and his ring was gone? I couldn't believe our rotten luck.

He rushed over to the place where the resort had snorkels and masks that everyone could use. The guy was closing, but Jim pleaded with him, explaining about the ring, so he let us have them. I have no idea how long we swam around, searching the ocean floor, which was covered with seaweed, but it felt like forever. It was going to be getting dark soon. I was losing hope, when I had a flashback to an experience I had six years earlier...

Driving back to the apartment I shared with two other girls, all attending graduate school, I heard an ad on the radio. A certain airline was selling tickets to Europe cheap. I had always dreamed of going to Europe someday, and with the money I had inherited from my grandfather, I could afford it. Sort of. I'd have to do it "on the cheap", but I could go. When I got home that night I told my roommate, "I think we should go to Europe". She laughed until she realized I was serious. I somehow convinced her.

On the day I was remembering, we had done a lot of sight seeing. We had a wonderful travel book with details about everything - must sees, great restaurants, local treasures, places to get a bargain, etc. We stopped somewhere for me to take a picture, and I realized in horror that my camera was missing! It wasn't even mine! It was my mom's and she had loaned it to me for the trip.

My friend and I searched a few places, but didn't find it. I was near tears when she said, "Hey, I remember reading something about a saint that you are supposed to pray to when something is lost - St. Anthony". As we stood there like crazy people, praying on a cobblestone street in Venice, I had a vision - my camera sitting on the counter at the gelati stand! St. Anthony came to my rescue!

I looked over at Jim, looking desperately for any glimmer of gold on the huge ocean floor, and I started to pray, "St. Anthony please hear my prayer..." Seconds later, (no kidding), Jim sprung out of the water - holding the ring!! And that was the moment that I converted to Catholicism. (Not really) I did write a poem in his honor, though. Here's part of it...

...Anthony, why are you
so good to me?
I don't go to church
or pray faithfully.

Don't go to confession
I sin, and I curse.
I don't think I've
memorized one Bible verse...

Now, I may not be perfect,
I'm a sinner for sure.
I'm not famous, or noble,
haven't discovered a cure.

But St. Anthony must see
something good in me,
because I've been worthy
of not one miracle, but three!*

*Besides the camera, and the ring, there was one other thing I lost that he helped me find. I only ask him for help when I've lost something major. If I ever completely lose my mind, for instance, he'll be the first one I go to for help).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Play With Me

Lately, Dylan has been saying this one sentence all the time, which is going to ruin me. He says, in this sad, slightly whiny voice, "Mommy, I want you to play with me!" I hear it when I am unloading the dishwasher. I hear it when I'm cleaning up after dinner. I hear it when I'm putting away laundry. I hear it while I'm checking emails. It tugs at my heart, and weakens my knees, and more often than not, I find myself with my hand in his, being led off to play. I can't resist it. The words are too powerful, the feelings too pure.

I feel needed, and I like it. Yes, he will always need me, but not like this. He won't always be this small, this innocent, this trusting. I won't always be the center of his world. I won't always be able to fit him in my lap. I won't always be able to make him laugh, by doing something silly. I won't always be the person he wants to play with.

Being a nanny, I have worked with many busy families. There lives are jam packed with work, meetings, exercise, errands, soccer practice, play dates, recitals, lessons, etc. The older kids weren't whining , "Mom/Dad I want you to play with me", but I felt it. They were crying out on the inside. They wanted time to just talk to their moms and dads, to lie on the grass, to play a game, to make a birdhouse or a sandcastle or a memory. There it is - the hardest part of being a parent, in my opinion. How do you juggle it all? How do you find time to spend with your family, and still do all the things that your role as mom (or dad) requires?

Personally, instead of saying, "I'll play with you after I...", I want to spend more time saying, "I'll X, after I play with you". The house will always be there, the dishes will wait, there will always be more laundry, but my kid will only be this age for a short time. I want to play.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Great Day

I work on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Tuesday nights, I frequently exclaim, "Tomorrow, it's a Mommy/Dylan day!" He usually just smiles, or says, "Yea".

Yesterday, after we ate breakfast, I bent down to take Dylan out of his booster seat. Suddenly, he wrapped his arms tightly around my neck, placed his head on my shoulder, and hugged me. Then he said, "It's a Mommy/Dylan day! YAY!" What a great start to my day! That was how it began, and this is how it ended...

What a great day!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Want To Stop, But I Can't

If you've been a fan of "Lost" since the beginning, help me out here. Why did you start watching it? I'm not sure why I did. I've never been a big fan of mysteries. I think it must have been the hype. That, and the fact that the people who worked on the previews of the show are genius. I'm sure casting these two didn't hurt...

The first season, I was intrigued. What was going on? Who were these people? How were they all connected, and how were they going to get off that darn island? This season, I'm totally over it. They got off the island(some of them), and CAME BACK. Anticlimactic, yes?

Now, it has warped into some time travel acid trip that gets more confusing with each episode. There are so many plot twists and new characters being introduced, that I need an outline or a cheat sheet to keep it all straight. I am convinced the writers have no clue what direction the story is going in. I think they all smoke weed before writing each episode. I am convinced they are all laughing at us for being hooked. The title "Lost" has more to do with the viewers state of mind, than the characters' dilemma.

Each time I watch the show, I can be heard screaming, "WHAT?!", "HUH?!", "OH, COME ON!". Jim said that the best part of watching the show is seeing my reactions. I frequently shout out, "Another hour of my life I'll never get back!", after watching it, but a week later, I'm glued to the screen again. I've invested too much time in this story to not "finish the book". It's like a relationship that I know is bad, but I stay because I've been in it so long. I don't want to admit that it's been a complete waste of time. I need to know what's going to happen. I need answers to these questions. I need secrets to be revealed. I need someone to tell me I'm not the only one who is hopelessly "Lost".

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Mall

Yesterday, we took Dylan to the mall. We were letting Dylan play in the Mr. Rogers Play Area, along with a mass of other children and their stressed out parents. One stressed dad, whose son walked over to him in bare feet, right next to where we were, shouted sarcastically to his son, "Why did you take your socks off?! Why are you walking around in bare feet?! ARE WE AT THE BEACH?!"

Dylan looked at him, and shouted, "NO, WE'RE AT THE MALL!!!" That shut him up. : )

First Golf

On Saturday, we went to a birthday party for my friend's son, who turned 7. Dylan was the youngest kid there. It was held at a glow in the dark mini-golf place. I wasn't sure if I should take him, because I knew the place would be pitch black, and he has never been golfing before, and I was sure he would terrorize the other golfers, stealing their balls, and running off to place them in random holes.

It went better than I expected. I keep telling Jim, when dealing with children, you have to lower your expectations, then you are happily surprised if things go marginally well. The place was playing some great 80's dance music, and there was no music class this week, so basically Dylan NEEDED to get his groove on. A lot. We had a hard time getting him to come into the room with the birthday festivities.

We let him do his own thing on the golf course - as long as he wasn't bothering anyone else. He hit the ball a few times, but mainly just wanted to climb the neon green walls, and throw the ball up the scary clown ramp.

(He's dancing in this one).

Eggs for the Farm

We've been really busy, and I want to document it all, but don't have the time, so I'm doing 3 posts today to catch up.

On Friday, I was supposed to meet a friend and her 3 sons at the farm. When I told Dylan that we would be going after his nap, he said, "Nap, now?!", so you could say that he was excited. I had to wake him up from his nap, because we were going to be late. That is never a good idea, because if you wake him up before he is ready, he is whiny. I got him dressed, and tried to rush him down the stairs to get his shoes on. We made it down, but then he stopped, and said, "I need the X!" He went back up, repeating over and over, "I need the X!" Problem was, I had no idea what he was saying. He just stood at the top of the stairs looking pitiful, whining about the X. I looked at my watch, and got more anxious by the second, but as I looked at him, I could tell this could go one of two ways. One, I could yell that he needed to hurry up, grab him and carry him down the stairs, and try to shove his crying, kicking self into his shoes, at which point he would grow hysterical, flinging himself onto the floor and sobbing because he needs his dang X. Two, I could try the sympathetic, caring approach. Luckily, I picked two.

"Dylan, honey, what do you need for the farm?"
"The eggs!" (the poor kid was really looking pitiful at this point)
(It finally hit me that he was saying "eggs", and that he was talking about his plastic Easter eggs. I took a deep breath, willing myself to be calm, and asked...)
"Why do you need your eggs for the farm?"
He looked at me with the cutest little face, and said, "To give the chickens!"
(Okay, WonderMommy, now what?, I asked myself.)
"Dylan, that is so nice of you, that you want to bring the eggs for the chickens, but the chickens already have all the eggs they need. The ducks really need some bread, though. Do you think we could bring the ducks some bread?)
His sad little face changed into a grin, and he shouted, "YEA!" (Man, I love that kid!)
So, we had a fun day at the farm, despite the fact that my friend's little boys got sick and she had to cancel last minute, and those D$@# ducks wouldn't eat any of our bread!

"Whoa! That's a big turkey!"

(He grabbed a fistful of grass and fed the cow! Is he afraid of anything?! Luckily he still has all his fingers.)

"Ducks?! I'm not happy with you, ducks".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indecency at the Science Center

The girls I'm a nanny for were off this week. On Tuesday, their mom asked if I would take them to the Carnegie Science Center. If you've read my posts about taking Dylan there, you know that I'm convinced the place blows sleeping gas out the vents, because the place exhausts me. Truly. Nothing makes me feel older than a day at the Science Center. This will give you an idea of how my day went...

"Stay with me!... We have to stand in this line!... Stand right here!... Don't pull on that!... Stand back!... Don't get so close to her!... We have to do what she wants to do, too!... The line is right here!... Don't pull on that!... Stay with me!... Don't touch that!... Wait your turn!... Stop it!... Stay with me!... Does anyone have to go to the bathroom? Are you sure?... What the...Did you just pee your pants?! I asked you one minute ago if you had to go to the bathroom! We are gonna have to go down to the gift shop and buy a huge t-shirt for you to wear like a dress, because we have no spare clothes! COME ON!... Don't touch that!... Put that back!... No, I'm not buying you that! We are just here for the t-shirt!... Stand in this line! Stay with me!... Come with me, we have to go to the bathroom now! Put this on! Give me your wet clothes! Don't touch that! Let's go!... Back to the lockers for the third time! Stay here! Don't hit her! Yes, we are going back up to the fourth floor, where we were!... Stay with me!...A you're gonna have to be careful with your shirt - don't flash everyone!...Give that kid a turn!...Stay in this area!...A! Pull your shirt down!...A, stand up, you're showing everyone your privates!..."

Now loop that about 50 times. That was my day. By the end of the trip, even I was sick to death of the sound of my voice! The worst part was that I still had to drive one hour back to their house, and all I wanted to do at that point was take a nap.

A Visit

Sorry, but I've been doing so many things lately, that I will have to do several short posts in one day to catch up!

On Wednesday, Dylan and I took a "trip" an hour and 15 minutes north to visit Doug's family. I usually only see them 2 or 3 times a year, and the last time I took Dylan to visit was last September. But, it was as if we were just there the day before! He walked in ahead of me, and went straight to where Doug's sis-in-law had set up her son's old train set the last time. Sure enough, she had it ready for him. Boy, I don't know what got into my usually not affectionate kid, but he was following her all over the house, sitting on her lap, and giving out hugs! (It might have had something to do with her giving him bowls of blueberries!) She also made him a special lunch, with chicken nuggets, fruit, and a cupcake!

The grownups had homemade broccoli/cheese soup and a strawberry salad. That girl shames me every time with her delicious cooking! I'm domestically challenged, you know.

Dylan had a blast! He put on a show for them, singing, dancing, letters, numbers, etc. The kid loves praise, and they showered him with it. Doug's grandma, who gave him his beloved "puppy", gave him another stuffed animal that is sure to become a favorite. He also got gifts from Doug's mom, sis-in-law, and uncle. No wonder he loves going there!

Dylan also got to see Doug's brother's amazing train display, complete with 5 trains going at once, smoke and whistles! A little boy's dream!

A bittersweet moment was when Doug's mom, sis-in-law, and I were sitting in the living room talking. Dylan was in the dining room with Doug's brother, when he suddenly brought him a picture of Doug, asking who it was. Oh, my heart!

We had a great time. It is always so nice to see them, and we look forward to our next visit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Day 2009

On Easter morning, Dylan hunted for his Easter basket. I know it looks like a pretty ridiculous basket, with no candy, but at this point, he doesn't care, so I figured why get him hyped up on sugar if I don't have to? Believe me, he was happy with what he got!

He was thrilled with the "gummy bears", (which he recently told someone is his favorite food). Actually, they were organic, bunny shaped fruit snacks, but all he knows is they were "YUMMY!" (He looks like he is in a cheesy, over acted commercial for them in this shot!)

We went to my parents house for the day, and Jim's parents also came, so it was just the 7 of us. Our holiday celebrations are pretty quiet. Louder since Dylan came along, but still pretty quiet. It wasn't warm enough to hide the eggs outside, but Mi-Mi had them hidden in the living room and patio.

Of course, both sets of grandparents spoiled him, so he got a lot of stuff, but his favorite had to be the Elmo, who sings the ABC's.

One highlight of the day for me was discovering that he can now catch a ball! Who knew? I'm think he was even surprised.

My buddy Marsha pointed out that I don't have many pictures of myself on the blog. (You'd think it was all about Dylan, wouldn't you? : ) ) So, here you go. This is what I look like, if you were wondering.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt Number 2

I am so far behind on posts! They are piling up, much like the laundry that mocks me daily. I'll go back to Saturday.

Saturday, we took Dylan to his second "official" Easter egg hunt. Luckily, this time it was about 52 degrees. Not exactly my idea of spring-like weather, but after the previous egg hunt, we weren't complaining.

This one involved a hayride to the egg hunt area. This time he had to actually (sort of) hunt for the eggs, in piles of hay.

He was all kinds of brave, waving to the Easter bunny as we approached on the hayride, but when we wanted him to get close enough for a picture...

He liked holding a real bunny, though. He couldn't quite reach the baby lamb, but he "talked" to her anyway ("BAAA!")

After our return trip on the hayride, he got his basket, colored a picture, got a bunny painted on his hand, got a balloon, and posed in the tractor.

I was telling Jim that the best thing about this age is that he doesn't really care what is in the eggs. Things aren't done for the end result. They are done for the experience. The joy is in the experience for him. I guess that is why I squeezed every little drop out of the Easter experience this year. I love TWO.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

On Saturday, we took Dylan to participate in his first official Easter egg hunt. Official, it was. There was a lady shouting out instructions every ten minutes about how exactly the whole thing would go down. It was held at 10:00 in the morning, and on Saturday in our lovely neck of the woods it was COLD at 10:00am. Very cold, as in 37 degrees, which felt like 27 with the wind. Imagine a huge crowd of munchkins with layers, winter coats and hats, red faces, and runny noses. Not very spring like, Easter bunny! Bawk, Bawk! But, did we, or the swarm of other crazy parents let the frigid weather stop us from giving our kids a good time? NO!

There were real live bunnies to pet, free chocolate chip cookies to eat, and free whistles. Yep, free whistles given to a crowd of excited kids - whose idea was that?! Luckily, their little mouths were too cold to blow, and our ears were spared. The Chick Fil A cow was walking around, and the Easter bunny was ready for photos. Dylan walked right up to the cow, and high fived him, but stayed a safe distance away from the bunny at all times. Cows - not scary. Bunnies - terrifying. Who knew? He got close enough to get his free treat from the bunny's helper, then made a hasty retreat. (Since then, though, he went to the mall with Mi-Mi and Bubba and braved his fear to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap for a ridiculously overpriced picture!)

Ten minutes before the actual "egg hunt" began, people started lining up. I say "egg hunt", because it was more of an egg get. It was a big, open field with the eggs just lying all over the grass. Not exactly a challenge. The whole thing was over in about two minutes. Dylan took off running, and had about 20 eggs in his basket before I could even take a picture. All the shots I got are of his back!

The quota was 10 eggs per kid, so we had to put some back. Then I got a picture of Dylan and his cousins, who we had invited, and we stood in line to get a treat bag, before rushing to the car to get warm! We all went to eat afterwards (four couples and four kids). You know with that many kids under the age of 3, there will be some kind of drama. This time, it was my kid, who made a very scary choking noise, then proceeded to spit up all over himself. Reading all this back, the morning doesn't sound all that enjoyable, does it? Honestly, we did have fun. I said it before, and I'll say it again. When you have kids, if it happens, (getting together with friends), it's a success. You learn not to sweat the details. However, we are supposed to go to another egg hunt this Saturday, so if this one little detail (the weather) would cooperate, I would be very appreciative.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not A Good Morning

This morning, I awoke at the crack of dawn to find that it was snowing. Snowing, as in snow falling and snow laying on the ground. Snow, as in the radio broadcasters warning of slick spots and accidents. Snow, as in the kind that causes the lovely people of Pittsburgh to slow their cars to a steady crawl - in APRIL!!! Say it with me - "WHY do I live here?"

At work, when I wasn't looking, the 7 year old got eggs out of the refrigerator and put them in her room under a blanket to "keep them warm, so they will hatch"?!

Every morning, while I help the 3 1/2 year old get dressed in her room, the 7 year old is supposed to be brushing her teeth and washing her face in the bathroom. Today, she ran into her sister's room, (naked), to ask me if she smelled good. A very strong smell hit my nose immediately. It didn't smell like perfume. Nope. She sprayed her entire body with Oust so that she "would smell good for Matthew". He's the first grader who said he wants to go out on a date with her.

All this, and it wasn't even 9:00 yet. I should have stayed in bed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today it rained. Then, it rained. Then, it rained some more. Dylan and I didn't care. We had things to do. We made cookies, (or should I say "dookeys"?) This was Dylan's first culinary experience, and he certainly enjoyed it. He thought it was great we were making them for Mi-Mi's(my mom's) birthday.

Of course, he wanted to try the cookies - make sure they were acceptable to give to an important person like Mi-Mi...

They got two thumbs up - way up! (But, then again, he doesn't get cookies that often).
I was going to put icing on them, but the idea of giving a two year old boy a knife, even a plastic one, seemed like a suicide mission. (Plus, I forgot to buy icing at the store).

He also made a card for Mi-Mi... (I wrote it out on a separate sheet of paper, then he copied off mine)...

We ALL love you Mi-Mi, and we hope you had a happy birthday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Fool

(This seemed like an appropriate story on April Fool's Day).

We were fighting again. Lately, it seemed like all we ever did. After 3 1/2 years, and with a wedding being planned, things seemed to be falling apart. As he stood there yelling, in the kitchen of the tiny third floor apartment that I was renting in a lovely old lady's home, I suddenly had a thought. What has happened to me? Why do I put up with this?

Seconds later I had another thought. There's the look. That's what his mother meant. His mother had asked me, years ago, if I ever saw "the look". At the time I had no idea what she was talking about, so she explained. "He sometimes gets this really mean, angry look in his eyes". What she didn't say was that he looked wild, slightly crazy, and scary.

As I brought my focus back to what he was saying, I heard him say, "I am really trying to be giving and supportive of you, but I feel like I'm not getting anything in return". Is he serious?, I thought. I had been giving and supportive for the past 3 1/2 years, putting up with things that most girls would not. The anger started to build inside me, and I spat out, "Oh, that's RICH!" I could tell immediately from his angry glare that he knew what I meant. "Fuck you", he said. As I heard the words coming out of his mouth, I froze. No one had ever said that to me before. I couldn't imagine someone who claimed to love me saying those words.

It was my first out of body experience. I picked up one of the many old lady trinkets that adorned the place and threw it at him. As it crashed into the wall behind him, inches from his head, he looked at me in disbelief. When I realized what I had done, I started shaking. "Get out", I said in a voice that was barely a whisper. Then, louder and louder, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" "I'm not going anywhere", he said. "Then I'm leaving". I ran down the stairs, slammed the door, and started walking as fast as I could towards the library, trying to silence the voice in my head screaming, Who are you?

He was never abusive, but he had some kind of hold over me. I had started to forget who I was, what I thought and felt, and what I wanted. He had this way of twisting things so that I somehow ended up apologizing for things I knew weren't my fault. It hadn't always been like that, though. In the beginning, he pursued me, with grand romantic gestures - with flowers, poetry, songs, and compliments. He was my first real boyfriend. Was I so desperate for a guy to notice me? Was I so blinded by the thrill of being in love, that I failed to see all the warning signs along the road, admonishing, "STOP!", "Wrong way!", "Loser Crossing"?

It perplexes me now, looking back, and thinking about the person I am today. I am certain that this version of myself wouldn't give him the time of day. Why did I then? Have I changed that much? I sometimes think of those 3 1/2 years as wasted time, but I guess if those years made me the strong, wont-take-any-bullshit woman I am today, I am better having experienced it. I learned from it. I learned to pay attention to the way a man treats his mother. I learned that you can't change someone. I learned that no one should have to settle. I learned that I deserve someone who treats me like gold. I learned not to be a fool for love. Please, tell your daughters.