Thursday, September 30, 2010

Europe and The Little Einsteins

It was always a dream of mine to visit Europe.  When I was in graduate school, my grandfather died, and left me some money.  I was going to grad school for free (my dad was a college professor).  I was working part time to pay for living expenses and books.  I could have been responsible, and put the inheritance in the bank to save for the future.  But, a little voice inside my head said, "GO!  NOW IS THE TIME!"  And,  that little voice was pretty loud and insistent.

I was driving home one night and heard an ad on the radio that a certain airline was offering tickets to Europe at a great price.  The little voice screamed, "HELLO?!", and when I got back to the apartment I was sharing with two girls, my friend H was there.  That part was pretty amazing in itself, because she was almost never there - she was usually at her boyfriend's place.  When I first told her, "I think we should go to Europe next month", she laughed in my face.  But, shortly after that, we were heading to the liquor store to buy some wine. (We decided you need to be drinking wine when you plan an impromptu trip to Europe).

A month later, we were dragging our tiny rolling suitcases down cobblestone streets.  I was trying to find something.  Beauty and adventure, mostly.  I wanted to see something that took my breath away.  I wanted to feel... more alive.  I wanted a break from the norm.  And, once I got there, I realized that I wanted to eat every flavor of gelato I could get my hands on.  I somehow restrained myself from eating gelato for breakfast. (If you don't know, gelato is Italian ice cream - or as we called it "Italian Orgasm").

My little boy, Dylan, is already a seeker of adventure.  If he hears we are going somewhere new, it doesn't really matter where, he is ready and excited.  He already has a Bucket List, and he's already crossed something off of it.

His newest obsession lately... well... I'll let you figure it out from these pictures...

If you aren't familiar with The Little Einsteins, it is a great show for kids!  Basically, the four kids travel to different places in the world each time, looking for something.  There is a different piece of classical music featured in each show, and different famous works of art.  In one, they traveled to Venice.  I shouted, "I WAS THERE!" several times, and Dylan looked at me.  "Really?", he asked.  Once I assured him that it was true, he said, "I want to go there, too!"

Dylan, I really, really hope you DO get to go there someday.  I hope you get to go many different places in this world and see many amazing things.  Things that take your breath away, and make you feel more alive.  And Dylan, I want you to have as many flavors of gelato as you can.  As a matter of fact, kid, go ahead and have some for breakfast.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jim's 45th Birthday

Friday was Jim's 45th birthday.  This guy sure doesn't look 45, does he?  I always did like the older and more mature guys.

He took the day off, but didn't actually TELL me that until the day before his birthday, so I had no time to make any plans.  (I should have given him memory pills for his birthday).

Dylan had preschool until 12:00, so Jim slept in while I took him and ran errands.  Then, he came with me to pick him up, which thrilled Dylan.  A few days before, he informed Jim and I that his favorite kid wasn't there.  When I asked who that was, he answered, "I don't know her name".  Jim told him, "Well, just go up to her and ask what her name is and tell her your name!"

So, Jim and I walked into school, and Dylan ran over to the girl, shouting, "HERE SHE IS!  THIS IS MY FAVORITE KID!!... What's your name?".  His favorite kid just stood there looking a bit alarmed.  I couldn't believe THAT was the girl he liked.  A few days before, when I dropped him off, she was walking around looking rather depressed and gloomy.  When I picked him up that day, she was having a cow because she didn't get a turn to do something.  Why do guys always like the high maintenance ones?

We went to Panera Bread for lunch, and then went to Seven Springs.  I mean, Mi-Mi and Bubba got to ride the Alpine Slide with him.   We wanted our turn.  When we got there, we found out it was closed.  Dylan handled that little fact better than the 45 year old.

We played games in the arcade, and played at the playground (in the 87 degree heat!), then had a snack, before heading home.  Bubba came to babysit Dylan, so Jim and I could go out for dinner.  So, we had a nice meal at Outback Steakhouse, then rented a movie.   It was a great day.

(I appreciated the kid-free meal even more yesterday, when we had to leave the restaurant after I consumed only 2 bites of my meal.  Dylan had been constipated all day, and had gone to the bathroom (at the zoo) several times to sit and sit and sit, and touch every disgusting surface, and then touch his face, and produce nothing.  So, when he said he had to go, five minutes after returning from another potty trip with Jim, I wasn't going to take him.  I wanted to eat my meal while it was hot.  But, he was insistent, and it was my turn.  So, I took him in the ridiculously tiny stall, and cringed with each germy thing he touched.  Then, he started rubbing his nose, so I squatted to wipe his nose.  At that exact moment, the dam finally broke, and not only did he poop, but he peed  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Like It Here

One day recently, Dylan and I were in the backyard, playing in the sandbox.  Dylan was talking (as always), and said something funny, and I laughed.

"You always make me laugh!  What did I ever do before you?", I asked him.
"Well... you were married to Daddy!", he exclaimed.
"Yes, that's right", I answered.
"What DID you and Daddy do?", he asked, trying to imagine what we could possibly have done that didn't include him.
"Well, we worked, and we went out to eat, and to see movies, and did stuff with our friends".
"Did you have fun?", he asked.
"Yes, we had lots of fun, but then you were born, and things changed, but we still have lots of fun".
"Tell me about the day I was born", he asked.  This was new.  He never asked me about that before.
"On that day, Mommy and Daddy rushed to the hospital because you were in a hurry to be born!  (I skipped over some stuff here).  When you were born, I was so happy, and I thought you were the most amazing thing I ever saw.  I held you, and stared at you, and touched your soft skin.  Your daddy was so happy, and he just kept staring at you and smiling..."
"HOW happy were you and Daddy?", Dylan interrupted.
"Well, Dylan, we were so happy we felt like we would burst!  We had wanted you for such a long time, and you were finally here".
He was finally quiet for a few moments, taking it all in.  Then, he looked up at me, smiled, and said, "I'm glad I'm here.  I like it here".

My eyes filled with tears, thinking of all those months years ago, after my fiance, Doug, died.  At that time, I didn't want to die, but I certainly wasn't happy to be "here".  I wasn't sure I would ever be "okay" again, let alone happy.  As I sat there, crying and smiling at my son's sweet face, I thought of all the joy he and Jim have brought to my life.

"Dylan, I like it here, too.  More than I can say".

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer Reading 2010

Do you remember this post that I wrote back in May, when I vowed to read this summer?  Would you believe I read all but 3 of the books in that post?  (I added a few other choices, also).  These ten books in 12 weeks!

This is a BIG DEAL.  Me, saying I'm going to do something and actually doing it!  Don't get me wrong, if I tell a friend or family member I'll do something, I will.  It might take a while, but I'll do it.  But, when it is something I need or want to do, it often is forgotten or pushed aside.

I started to read these two, but quit, because I just couldn't get into them.  I was intimidated by the size of Jodi Piccoult's book, so I put it off, but I will read it eventually.

In my opinion, the best of the bunch was "The Year of Fog".  I could not put it down.  I had to know what was going to happen.  NOW, or sooner.  I finished it in 2 days!  It is about a woman whose fiance goes away for a day, leaving her in charge of his little girl.  She takes her to the beach.  They are walking along the foggy shoreline when the woman is distracted and looks away for a few moments, and the girl vanishes.  That is all I will say about it, but I will tell you that this book will really make you think about how quickly your life can change, and it will make you appreciate what you have and often take for granted.

On the flip side, for me, the worst of the bunch was "The Ten Year Nap".  For me, it was like taking a ten year nap.  SNORE! (Or SUH-NORE! as I like to say).  A book about a bunch of women who stop working when they have children, and don't go back.  They're unfulfilled, empty, lost, and jealous of the working moms.  But, the working moms are also tired, bitter, and unhappy, and jealous of the stay at home moms.  So basically, read this book if you want to be depressed and feel like being a woman = unhappiness.  As much as it annoyed me, I kept reading because I was sure things would work out in the end.  Everyone would realize that whatever their choices, they are just that - their CHOICES, and that things are not as bad as they think, and they should appreciate what they have.  Nope.  Just wallowing in misery until the very last page.  Skip it.

The Sophie Kinsella books, and the Jane Green book were all light, fun reads.  

I enjoyed Firefly Lane, but found it a bit frustrating.  It is about two life-long friends.  One, who becomes a wildly successful reporter/talk show host, but who never finds love or develops many close relationships.  The other, who has a loving husband and 3 children, but never develops her writing talent.  Women who can't have it all.  Seems to be a prevalent book theme for some annoying reason.

I highly recommend "Raising Your Spirited Child", because even though Dylan can't technically be classified as "spirited", according to the book, I still got many useful tips.  I think the author is a genius.  I think I'll do a separate post on this one.

Right now, I am reading "Eat Pray Love".  I am finding it very interesting - reading the book AFTER seeing the movie.  I find myself asking "If I had done the movie, would I have done it that way?"  Maybe I'll do a post on it when I finish, but then again, it is fall now, so don't necessarily be expecting it anytime soon.  My TV shows are going to be starting soon.  (I know.  Pathetic.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dylan's Bedroom Makeover / Last Week Of Summer

Our last week of summer was spent doing several things.  But the main ones were 1. Going swimming one final time, 

and 2. Getting Dylan's "Big Boy Bed" ready.  Way back when we went shopping for his crib, we decided to get one that converted from a crib, to a toddler bed, to a full size bed.  This set will last for a very long time.  So, it was time to switch from the toddler bed, to a full size bed, due to the simple fact that my very tall boy barely fit in the toddler bed anymore.  The problem was where to put it?!  It is a difficult room to arrange, because on one wall there are 2 almost floor to ceiling windows.  Another wall is closet doors.  There were no corners to tuck the bed into.  I think we arranged and rearranged the room about 5 times, before finally settling on this arrangement.

(To the left of the bed is the wall of closet doors, to the right there is room to play on the floor, shelves for toys and books, and the door)

We painted the room blue, and added the clouds when we moved in, to match what his room looked like at the old house.  At the time, we didn't want to spring anymore big changes on him.  The room had a jungle animal theme.  So, we still need to buy a comforter, and new lamp, but the new theme is cars and trucks, and we didn't have to paint!  

Of course, Dylan wanted WHITE sheets.  He was beyond excited about his new room, and new Big Boy Bed.  He only fell out a couple times so far (the night before his first day of preschool).  The only other change is that he's been coming down stairs at least once a night, needing "to go potty" (Uh, there's a bathroom UPSTAIRS), or needing desperately to ask us something.  By now, he isn't even trying to hide the fact that as soon as Jim leaves the room, he turns on the light and looks at books or plays with his toys.  It usually doesn't last too long, and he eventually does fall asleep, so we aren't complaining.

You just never know how you'll find him in that big bed...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome Fall

Wow, have I got behind here!  I know it's not officially Fall, but to me, summer is over when school starts and the pools close.  I'm proud to say that we crossed every item off of Dylan's Summer To Do List.

Even though I hate for summer to end, I do like Fall.  I love the new beginnings and the crisp feel to the air.  I am much more a "Fall Cleaning" kind of gal, than a spring cleaning one.  I get motivated to tackle those boxes I haven't looked at since I moved in 3 summers ago.  To rip wall paper off the walls.  To go through my clothes to find (once again) that I "have no clothes to wear".  Fall means hay rides, and changing leaves, and Halloween costumes, and candy.  Uh, oh.  I'm going to gain back those 10 lbs I lost since taking my nutrition class, aren't I?  No problem.  Fall also means layers.

This weekend we went to the farm.  I've noticed that every time we go to the farm, I take (more or less) the same shots.  I have many traditions.  I have to get a shot of Jim and Dylan walking in this spot.

It makes me sigh every year, because those two together are just too cute.

It's hard to compete with this kind of adoration!  That boy loves his Daddy.

I have to get a shot of my favorite tree.

Dylan has to run along this wall, and jump off it, (while I hold my breath).

I have to hand the camera to Jim and force him to take at least ONE shot of me, with Dylan.

I did get one completely new shot this time.  To my knowledge, we have never been there when they had these gorgeous sunflowers.

We really didn't even need to go to the farm to see animals, since we saw this guy right in our backyard that morning!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Day Of Preschool / 4 Year Old Class

Today was Dylan's first day at the new preschool.  If you remember, I decided to put him in the 4 year old class, even though he won't turn 4 until November.  Hopefully, that will be the right decision.

He has been counting down the days until school, screaming "TOMORROW IS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!" at me, when I got home from work yesterday.  He was very excited.  Oh sorry, he informed me and Jim this morning, "I'm not excited!  I'm happy!  I'm only this excited (putting his hand from the floor to his waist), but I'm this happy (putting his arms out as far as they could go)".

Last night when I reminded him about school, he said, "I have to go pick out my clothes!", while already running up the stairs.  Now, if you know me, you know this is hard for me - letting him pick what to wear, on his own.  But, I figured, if I want him in the 4 year old class, I better start treating him like a 4 year old.  I might have even muttered "Unclench, Jen" to myself on my way up the stairs.  But, then he said he wanted to wear red or orange.  Um... he has red(dish) hair.  I don't buy him red or orange.  He had one red shirt - a sleeveless "muscle" shirt.  I just couldn't do it.  

Then, he picked out a gray shirt, with red lettering on it.  I was fine with that.  But, since I love to be predictable, I hadn't done laundry, and he only had 2 shorts clean.  Neither went with the gray shirt.
This is what he ended up choosing...

But, wait!  Then came this morning.  A while back, I bought some new underwear for him, but mistakenly grabbed the size 6-8, instead of the smaller size.  I figured he'd use them eventually, so I washed them and put them in his closet.  Apparently, he found them.  He insisted on wearing a pair of the ridiculously big underwear to school, and I... let him.  You have to choose your battles after all.  This picture says it all...

He also insisted on wearing the crown he got at the Renaissance Festival with his grandparents.  I let him wear it in the car.  Oh, and of course, "Puppy" went along for the ride.  Oh yes!  And, he woke up with a black and blue/swollen eye, and a cut on his face.  The minute my head hit the pillow last night, I was OUT (for reasons I won't go into at this time).  I didn't wake up once during the night.  I didn't stir.  I think a marching band could have passed through our bedroom and I wouldn't have noticed.  Which explains why when Jim said Dylan fell out of bed last night I had no idea what he was talking about.  He must have hit his eye on the way down.

So, for the first day of school he had a swollen eye, a cut on his face, underwear that could not be contained by his shorts, and did I mention we were late?  Thank you!  Thank you very much!  But, he had a good day.  His teacher said he "did a good job following directions, and was social, and happy all morning".  Dylan said they sang a silly song about an elephant, told me what they had for snack (of course!), and said that one of his teachers looks like a boy (she has short hair, and I'll just assume he didn't tell her that she looks like a boy - way to make a good first impression!)

We celebrated his first day with a "first day present" (some new books), by making pizza together for dinner, and going to get ice cream after.  It's all good.