Sunday, January 30, 2011

If You Can't Beat 'Em Join 'Em

If you are really, really, really sick of the gray skies, bitter cold, snow, snow and more snow, this is what you should do...

Go sled riding...

Have a snowball fight...

After this shot... this was the next shot on my camera...

What?  You say it is just a white square?  Exactly.

Make some snow angels...

Make a snow fort...

Make a snowman...

And, finally, drink some hot chocolate...

After all that, you might momentarily forget that you hate winter, and start to feel like this...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter in Pittsburgh

For those of you who don't live in Pittsburgh, or anywhere near it, let me tell you something.
IT IS COLD!  Oh, and it is snowing... again.  This past weekend, when I was standing outside pumping gas, I thought the liquid in my eyeballs was going to freeze.  My sincere admiration goes out to the (crazy) true fans who sat in the -4 degree windchill temperatures to watch the Steelers win the game last weekend.  I am NOT that dedicated.

Here is what the view from my kitchen table has looked like... oh, since about December 1st?!

I don't love it, to put it mildly.  Which I guess is why this poem I got in an email amuses me.

It's winter  in Pennsylvania 
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At  five  below.
Oh, how I love Pennsylvania
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a  breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.
The weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Pennsylvania
Cuz I'm frozen to the ground! 

Hope you are warm, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dylan's ABC Book

Yesterday I was busy making lunch, going over the long list of "must do's" for the day.  Miraculously, Dylan was entertaining himself, and was being quiet.  That is almost unheard of!  I had no idea what he was doing, and to be honest, he could have been hanging from the ceiling fan by his underwear and it wouldn't have bothered me.  He was entertaining himself!  Quietly!

After lunch, he told me it was time.  "Time for what?", I inquired.  "Time for you to find all the letters!", he told me with much enthusiasm.  This is what I found...

There were letters in the living room.  There were letters in the dining room.  There were letters in the kitchen.  There were letters in the hallway.  There were letters in the playroom.  There were letters on the stairs.  My initial thought was "Wow!  This is really cool and creative!", but unfortunately, that thought was followed by "Wow!  This is going to take a long time to clean up!"  I can't help it.  I try to ignore those thoughts, but I like things neat, so they just find their way into my brain.

Luckily, I ignored that thought, and focused on just how excited my kid was about these letters.  Despite the list of "things to do", I decided to just go with it.  "Want to make your very own alphabet book?", I asked a shocked Dylan.  "WE CAN DO THAT?!", he shouted.

And, that is how "Dylan's ABC Book" came to be.

"A is a A.  A is 4 Apple.  Even the A says AH"

I wrote what he told me on each page, and I really mean exactly what he told me, which is how I got such gems as "The K is the K"?,  and "The Y is always cheerful"?

When we had finished the completed book, the look on his face was utterly priceless.  To give you an idea of just how happy he was with his book... he told me "Mommy, thank you for helping me make my book!  You're my BEST FRIEND!"  Previously, I was told (quite frequently) that I was Number 2 on his list.

Want to guess what we are finishing today, after his nap?  Here's a hint...  I found this in my kitchen...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy 98th Birthday Pap-Pap

My grandfather turned 98 on January 18th (Tuesday).  NINETY EIGHT!  He went into the hospital on Sunday, with an infection in his foot, so I went to see him there on his birthday.

When I walked into his hospital room, there he was talking to someone (a medical student), laughing and smiling.  He is always talking to someone, laughing, and smiling.  He draws people to him with his stories, his friendly nature, and his positive attitude.

When he saw me he grinned, and exclaimed, "Oh, Jenny!"  Shortly after, my parents arrived, and we all sat for hours, talking and reminiscing as we often do.

When I gave him the card I made him, with a mosaic of photos from various stages in our family, he cried. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but it was pretty sappy.

When someone is 98, you don't hold anything back.  You tell them how much they mean to you.  You listen more closely to what they have to say.  You look at them, as if you want to memorize exactly how they look right at this moment.  You have more patience with them.  You are filled with love and appreciation for the person they are.  There is an immediacy to your time spent with them.  You know that this time might be the last time - the last chance you get to say "I Love You".

As I drove home, I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if we were always like that, with everyone?"  I shuddered, as I had the thought that really, it is the same with everyone in our lives.  There should be that same immediacy, because we truly don't know how long we have with anyone in our lives.  This time might be the last time.  If we truly grasp the enormity of that fact it is enough to bring us to our knees.  It is enough to make us change the way we view our lives and each day in it.  It is enough to change the way we interact with people.  And, it should.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Annual Physical

 Back when I was having some physical problems (extreme exhaustion), and had a bunch of blood tests, (which all came back perfectly normal), my doctor convinced me to come in for an annual physical in January.  I went last week.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I have been going to this doctor for 8 years, and I really like her.  She is very laid back, very friendly, and extremely thorough.  You know how most doctors hardly look at you, and rush through the appointment at lightning speed?  Not her.  Here's the problem.  (You knew there was going to be a problem, right?)  All the things that make her great... make her terrible.

I made my appointment for 9:30am.  I had to drop Dylan off at preschool at 9:00 and pick him up at 12:00. That would be plenty of time, right?  WRONG.  I was ushered into the examining room at 9:40.

9:40 - Oh, cool!  That didn't take long at all.  She is usually running late, but I'm already in the examining room.  The nurse said she should be in shortly and that I'm next.

9:45 - Man, this is a big examining room.  Way back in the corner, like I've been bad or something.  I feel like I'm in time out.

9:50 - Holy crap, it is cold in here!  Why does it have to be so cold?  Isn't that nurse freezing, with a short sleeved shirt on?  Would the doctor think I'm weird if she came in, and found me with my gloves on?  Oh, she'll be in soon.  I'll be fine.

10:00 - I cannot believe she didn't come in yet!  My appointment was for 9:30!  I am so flippin' cold!  At least I'm not waiting in the waiting room, catching everyone else's germs.

10:15 - This. Is. Ridiculous!  WHY didn't I bring something to read?  They could at least put some magazines in here, so I have something to do.  There are SO many things I could be doing right now.  I didn't really need to get a physical, did I?  I could really go for something warm to drink right about now.  Tea, hot chocolate... Great, now I'm thirsty AND cold.

10:30 - I have been waiting for ONE HOUR!  This is INSANE!  I hate doctors.  I really do.  They think their time is so much more important than mine.  My time is nothing.  Not like I have anything to do.  Just a huge to-do list that is just sitting there, while I sit in this FREEZING COLD EXAMINING ROOM WITH NOTHING TO DO!  GAH!!  I am starting to really get mad.  I need to calm down.  Not looking at my watch every three seconds would probably help, too.

10:40 - I cannot take this anymore.  They must have forgotten about me.  (Opening the door, and sticking my head out).  "HELLO?!"  (Seeing a nurse)  "Oh!  Excuse me, do you have any idea when..."
AAARRRGGGHHH!  (Going back in the room and sitting back on the uncomfortable chair).  That is IT!  I am putting my coat, AND my gloves on.  If I would have known I was going to sit here for AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES, I would have just laid down to take a nap.  (Leg beginning to bounce up and down, and eyebrow beginning to twitch).  I. AM. SO. MAD!

10:45  (Leg still bouncing and eyebrow still twitching).  What would they do if I just threw this chair against the wall?  I bet someone would come in THEN.  Hmmm... Wonder if I can surf the internet on this computer?  I bet if I threw this computer against the wall someone would come in really quick.  OMG, I am actually envisioning myself doing that now.  OMG, what if I actually have an out of body experience and do it?  Just stand up and throw the computer against the wall in the doctor's office?  What would they do?  That would be quite the story, huh?  Could I possibly have Adult ADD?  Why am I this mad about waiting?  BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN AN HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES IN A COLD ROOM WITH NOTHING TO DO!  AARRRGGGHHH! (Doing lamaze breathing to calm myself down.  Trying to imagine myself on a tropical island drinking a pina colada).

10:50  AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES!!  I AM GOING TO TELL THAT DOCTOR OFF!  THE NERVE!!  Right after I throw this chair against the wall....
"Hi Jennifer!  It's good to see you!  How are you?"...
"...Oh... ummm... I'm...good". (Sigh)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dylan The Science Kid

Some things change.  Some things stay the same.  Poor Dylan is on his 3rd school, (fourth, if you count the "Mommy & Me" class we went to for a few months before it fell apart).

He seems to be enjoying his new school.  He doesn't complain about going, and usually emerges smiling and singing whatever new song he has learned.  After only a few classes, he is already telling me some of the names of kids he has met.

Last Thursday was his first music class at the school.  A teacher from his regular class takes him directly to his music class, so I don't see his regular teachers at the end of the day.  The director of the place was standing with the music teacher and the kids when I picked him up last Thursday.  "Next time you're here, could you stop in and talk to Mrs. X (one of his regular teachers)", the director said to me, as I was turning to leave with Dylan.  "Ummm...", I paused, waiting for an explanation.  "She said he is doing very well", she said, failing to follow that with anything substantial.

"WHAT?!", I was screaming in my head as I walked down the hallway.   I used to be a preschool teacher.  I know you don't ask to talk to a parent whose child is doing "very well".  So what's up?  That is just mean, leaving a mom to her overactive imagination for four whole days!  So, who knows what that is about?!  I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Today he had his first science class at the school.  When I heard they offered it, I was thrilled.  Me, I've never been the least bit interested in science.  I knew that if Dylan was going to develop an appreciation for science, it was going to have to come from his dad, or a teacher, because I'm basically of a "Science, Shmience" frame of mind.  But, Dylan has been watching "Sid the Science Kid" on PBS lately, and loves it.  I have to admit, it is a cool show, even if it does talk about Shmience.

So, this morning I told him he was going to his first science class, just like Sid.  "You can be Dylan the Science Kid!"  I couldn't resist singing a few bars of "I love my mom... My mom is cool... But now it's time for me to have fun at school", as we drove there.  No, I didn't do the little dance when I dropped him off - it was snowing and 16 degrees and I have a cold and... wah!

His class is 45 minutes long, and the best part is that his school is so close to the library, that I can just go hang out there and get myself and Dylan some books.  When I picked him up, the teacher said, "Well, you would never know today was his first day!  He came right in, and had no problems at all!"

So often, we focus on the things our kids do that drive us completely nutso.  For me, it's the never ending chatter, and the ridiculously slow process of getting dressed.  We don't think about the things that have never been an issue.  Why would we?  But, today I found myself thinking "Wow!  I have never had to deal with the screaming, crying kid, clinging to my leg, and begging me not to leave him.  Dylan has ALWAYS been good in new situations.  I AM LUCKY".  "I AM LUCKY".  It's a powerful phrase, when said out loud, or even in your head.  It puts a smile on your face, and a spring in your step, and gives you that needed extra ounce of patience.

So regardless of what the teacher has to say tomorrow, it doesn't matter.  I AM LUCKY.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I don't get as much time as I'd like to write posts for this blog.  Things happen all the time that I want to write about, but it is the finding time to sit down and write that is the problem.  Sometimes, I like to challenge myself to tie two posts into one.  Like today!

Last night, Jim created "Daddy Ball".  The game involves putting two light sticks (we got when we went to see the lights at Hartwood Acres (AWESOME!)), together to make a circle.  Then, you try to roll 3 balls in such a way that they stay in the circle, but don't go past it, from across the room.

Today, I created "Mommy Ball", and Dylan created "Dylan Ball".  Mine involves trying to hit 5 cups down with various sized balls (you get 3 tries).

  Dylan's involves rolling a ball through a space made by propping a guitar on stuff, to hit over a heavy game propped up.  When I was able to hit over the game, but he wasn't, he decided his game was "not a very good game".
But, we had fun, and I was reminded once again how simple it really is to make your kid/kids happy.  You don't need to spend a lot of money on fancy toys.  You don't even need to be all that creative.  You just have to spend time with them.

Something completely bizarre happened this week.  Back when all the Christmas cards were pouring in (I miss getting mail!), we got a card from one of my ex-employers.  On the front, there was an adorable picture of her two girls.  On the inside, three smaller photos of them, and then a quote.

Sometimes Jim doesn't even see some of the cards we get.  If I get the mail, I confess that I might immediately put it in the Christmas card holder before he even sees it.  So, on New Year's Eve, I brought out the stack of cards and we looked through them, while drinking Rum & Cokes.  (Yes, we are wild and crazy party people).

When Jim saw ex-employers card, he remarked, "Wow, I can't believe she got the photos to spell out the word JOY"  "Huh?!", I remarked, while grabbing the card to check it out.  The three pictures did spell out JOY!  "Jim, there is no way she did that on purpose! She's organized, but she can't be that organized!"
"Well, there is no way that is a coincidence!", he stated emphatically.
(I don't know if you can see it in this picture.  I wanted you to see the card, but without showing the girls' faces)

I had to know, so I sent her an email.  Here is her reply to me...

Jen………..I gasped out loud when I read your email.  Honestly, I had no intention of creating “JOY” in the photos…….I just laid them out in a way that looked good to me.  Isn’t that funny?  I can definitely see it now and am haunted by it!  What does that mean…....I created joy without even trying?!!!!!!  I am seriously a little spooked by your revelation!

  (I let her know that it was actually Jim's revelation).

Isn't that CRAZY?  I think it's a sign.  A sign that JOY can be found anywhere.  In little moments, completely unplanned and unexpected.  Like, while playing "Mommy Ball with your 4 year old.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 - The Year In Pictures

When I stumbled across this idea, to do a post with pictures from the past year, I loved the idea.  What a great way to quickly (is anything I do quick?!) sum up a whole year!  Now, years from now, if I find myself saying, "What year did Dylan...?,  all I have to do is check this post!  Now, if I can just remember to do this each year.

I take A LOT of pictures.  Choosing was torturous, and really, when do I ever follow the rules?  I decided to do a slideshow...

Dylan Firsts This Year:

First time he went bowling.

First time he used tools to help Daddy build something.

First time he caught fireflies.

First time he saw fireworks. (He did NOT like it).

First swim lessons.  He took some with Mommy and some with Bubba.

He got to sit in a fire truck.

First time in a rowboat.

First ride on the Alpine Slide at Seven Springs (with Mi-Mi and Bubba).

First "big kid" ride. (The hot air balloon ride at Idlewild)

First circus.

Switched to a "Big Boy Bed".

First school field trip on a bus. (To Schramm Farm)

First time he sat on Santa's lap.

(This post is dedicated to Nan, who gave Dylan his beloved "Puppy".  She will be missed by all those who knew and loved her).