Monday, November 28, 2011

Before 40 - November

I've never been super athletic.  I enjoy sports, and I certainly wouldn't be considered "girly", but I never excelled at any particular sport either.  I played softball for many years, and I would say that I "wasn't bad".

Now let's talk about exercise.  I have a strong desire to do it... in my head.  Just there.  Not in practice.  Not so much that I join a gym, or get up an hour early to work out, or even squeeze in a walk now and then.  I watch The Biggest Loser every week, and every single week, I think "I'm going to eat better and work out!"  Then the week goes by, and I'm sitting on the couch again, eating snacks while watching another episode.  I'm motivated in my head, but my body doesn't get the memo.

I've signed up for fitness classes and not finished.  (In my defense, I have a weak back, and I seem to always hurt it when I exercise.  I know.  Excuses, Excuses.  Wah, Wah, Wah!)  I've bought fitness videos and used them for a while religiously... A WHILE.  I bought the Ab Cruncher and used it faithfully... for A WHILE.  My most successful exercise experience was the Water Aerobics class I took years ago.  Those old ladies and I rocked it out!

This past week, the day before Thanksgiving, my body finally got the memo.  I told Dylan that he and I were going to "do an exercise video".  I had bought "Billy Blanks Basic Training" DVD months ago at the library's used book sale.  It is 55 minutes long.  I figured, "How hard can it be?"  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  I amuse myself.  Put it this way... the people IN THE VIDEO were looking like they might die.  Put it this way... Thanksgiving day I was thankful I could lift my arms.  (Note to self:  You are NOT in shape, dummy!  Pace Yourself!)

So, I'm in horrendous shape, and I am the complete opposite of flexible.  I'm surprised I can bend over to tie my shoes.  All this to explain why I was a little nervous about my next "Before 40" feat.  I have never climbed a rock wall.

When I was out to dinner with a friend of mine, I told her about my "Before 40" thing.  She wanted in.  She had never climbed a rock wall either.  I found the place.  We just needed to coordinate a day we could each go.  It wasn't happening.  I called her yesterday (Saturday), and asked if she could go today (Sunday).  "No, I have to....  Can we wait until next weekend?"  Well, that's the thing about a "Before 40" list.  If you spend too much time "waiting", you don't spend enough time "doing".  I said I was going to do one new thing a month and I'm doing one new thing a month!  I was going to tell her that, too, but when she called me back later, she said she was in!

After a slight miscommunication about where the place was ("Oh!  You're in the South Side?  I thought you said the Strip!"), we were ready to go.  We got our fancy climbing shoes, and signed the form.  I told her, "You don't need to read it.  It just says you won't sue them if you fall and die".  I'm a fountain of encouragement, aren't I?  Just for that, she made me go first.  I had to stop a couple times and consider 1. If I was going to be able to get my huge feet in the next tiny crack.  and 2. If my arms shaking from exhaustion were going to prevent me from continuing.

Before 40 - October

I've told you that I'm not a good cook, but did you know that I don't bake either?  Martha Stewart would be appalled at my complete lack of culinary interest.  So, for "Before 40"'s month of October I decided to do something totally out of character.  Would you believe that in my 39 years I have never baked a cake?!  Weird, I know.  We are big birthday celebrators in my family, but apparently we are big birthday cake BUYERS, not bakers.

Since it was October, and I didn't have any birthdays coming up, I decided to make a Pumpkin shaped cake.

Dylan never passes up an opportunity to eat cake.
He found the whole Mommy-is-baking thing quite entertaining.  So much so, that he wanted to film it...

The recipe I was using made two pumpkin cakes.  We certainly didn't need to eat two pumpkin cakes after all that Halloween candy, so I figured I'd give one to my neighbors.  Um.. yea... that didn't happen. They weren't horrible, but I didn't feel they were neighbor worthy either.

My wonderful (also never baked a cake) husband was highly amused as he pointed out that I was supposed to flip the cake over, out of the pan, BEFORE icing it.  DUH!  Martha Stewart can kiss my pasty white butt!

Since I was on a roll, I decided to make my first PIE for Thanksgiving.  

It's a Turtle Pumpkin Pie, and OH MY was it rich!  Too much so for my taste, although Jim liked it.  For me, anything that rich should have chocolate in it.  I'm not a big pie eater, though.  I would say that it was better than the cakes.  I would have given my neighbors a piece, but Jim called "DIBS!" on the leftover pieces.

I've also never made cupcakes or cake pops.  But, considering the fact that we just ate way too much food for Thanksgiving, and the fact that we still have Halloween candy, I think I'll put that off for a while!  Don't miss my "Before 40" for November!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy? Thankful?

Are you happy?  Are you thankful?

Brad Pitt was interviewed recently and the interviewer asked Brad Pitt, "Are you happy?".  His answer was ""I think happiness is overrated, truthfully," he tells Australia's "60 Minutes." "I do. I think sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're not. There's too much pressure to be happy. I don't know. I don't really give a (bleep). I know I will be at times and I know I won't be at times..............".  "I don't give a shit"?!  To me, that doesn't sound like something a happy person would say.  Some might ask "How can he NOT be happy?  He is gorgeous, has a beautiful wife, healthy children, a successful career, and all the money a person could want!"

If someone asked me the question, "Are you happy?", I would answer "Yes".  I am happy.  I have many things to be thankful for - my family, my home, my friends, my health.  If someone asked me "Are you satisfied?", the answer might be different.  I have to admit that I always seem to be striving for more - more friends, more money... MORE.  I think that is part of human nature.  Wanting more gives us goals and something to work towards.  The trick is not letting the journey towards MORE, distract you from being thankful for what you do have right now.  There are so many things we take for granted.  There are so many things that we do every single day that we don't even think about.

Let this video remind you...

After watching the video, would you answer the question differently?  Are you happy?  Are you thankful?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fifth Birthday Party

This year we had Dylan's birthday party at Gymkhana.  For all you locals, it is a great option for this age group.  The kids had a blast, the instructor was great with the kids, the party room was a nice size, and there was very little work for me!  Score!

Five kids weren't able to come, so we ended up with 9 kids, and about 17 adults.  The instructor would open one section of the gym at a time, explain what the kids were supposed to do on the equipment, and then supervise them while they jumped, swung, climbed, and bounced.

We didn't have time to open the gifts at the party, so we waited until we got home.  Now my house looks like a toy store explosion!  Having a birthday in November isn't ideal, but the great thing is that we have plenty of things to play with when he is off for Thanksgiving week.  It is great to have some new games to play!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dylan's Fifth Birthday - In Pictures

Your birthday began when you, and "Puppy" jumped into our bed to wake us up.  You waited until 8:40! (THANK YOU!)

You had enough restraint to eat breakfast BEFORE opening presents!

You wanted to open Luca's present first! (the little boy I'm a nanny for)  Hmmmph!
I have to admit, it is a really cool present! 

We've played it several times already, and hey, so long as it's not Chutes & Ladders, I'm happy!

Considering the fact that you actually wanted to play hockey, BEFORE watching TV this morning, I would say this was your favorite present...

After opening all your gifts, we watched the video about Disney I picked up at the library, which was so ancient that I don't think it was a great representation of what we will actually see and do when we go.  Then, we watched "Word World", one of your current favorites.

After eating lunch, we headed to the Science Center.
We went in the "Sports Works" building for the first time, and had a blast!  (Why have skipped that in the past?!)  This was your favorite thing...

I'm not too excited about science, but I was excited about the sports!  Could you tell?

Even though we got a late start, we still spent several hours there.

After the Science Center, we went to Denny's so you could get your free birthday "Grand Slam" pancakes.  No picture, but this is how you felt about it...

We loved spending your fifth birthday with you!  Next... your PARTY!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Five Year Old

Dear Dylan,

You were so excited about your birthday this year, more so than any other year.  You have been telling people everywhere we go, "My birthday is coming up!  I'm going to be FIVE!"  You aren't all that excited about the presents, though.  When we asked what you wanted, at first, you said "I don't know".  You finally did come up with one thing you wanted - a handheld Sudoku game.  You are so interested in numbers these days.  Your ability with numbers amazes your dad and I.  You can make your own sudoku puzzles, and you convert letters to numbers and make complicated equations that way.  You are doing addition and subtraction with double digits, and starting to multiply!  I don't know how they are going to keep your interest in kindergarten next year!

Your daddy and I are looking at schools now.  What a hard decision!  You are very smart, but you also love sports, and we have to take that into consideration.  Your favorite sports lately are football and hockey.  You were playing golf and tennis, until the weather got too cold.  You love to watch the Steelers games with your daddy, and usually manage to keep interested until the last quarter.  You ask a LOT of questions about the game.  Actually, you ask a LOT of questions all the time!  I often feel like I'm on a quiz show.

I have to admit that four was a tough year for me.  The constant questions were exhausting and the negotiating!  You know how to tell time now, so that caused me some extra stress.  "MOM!  WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN TEN MINUTES!... MOM!  WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN NINE MINUTES!... MOM!..."  My rule with TV is that you get to watch one hour of TV a day.  You know that, so now it is "That video was only 54 minutes, so I get 6 more minutes of TV!"

I have to admit that I did some negotiating myself.  "If I play ANOTHER game of Chutes & Ladders with you, you have to play Uno with me!"  I'm trying to get you to learn to compromise and not always have things your way - something that is often difficult, as you like to be in charge.

You can read Level 1 books now, but you don't always want to.  You would much rather have me read to you.  You love when I get new books from the library, but you don't like going and picking them out! "That's not really fun", you'll say.  You are not at all materialistic, but you are spoiled rotten with experiences.  You want to go somewhere "fun" every single day!  You are also completely spoiled with attention!  I know someday I will miss the cries of "Play with me!", but right now, I get very little done.

The thing that I love the most about you is that you are almost always happy.  Your science teacher is always commenting on how much she loves your smile, and how you smile all the time.  You are a pretty easy going kid.  Not many things upset you... except losing!  You have become SO competitive this year, and you hate to lose.  You never give up, though.

Probably the thing I want to remember most about you at four years old, was how much you loved your daddy and I.  You were always drawing pictures of us, smiling and holding hands, with "I LOVE YOU MOMMY AND DADDY" written in large letters.  More than anything else, you just wanted to spend time with us.  I've cherished every hug, kiss, and opportunity to hold your hand and have you climb into my lap for snuggles.

I love you, my sweet boy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Peanut Allergy : Part 3

Yep, there actually is a Part 3 to the peanut allergy post!

When I asked Dylan what he wanted to take in for his birthday snack (which was today), can you guess what he said?  If you guessed COOKIE CAKE you are correct!  I promised him that he would finally get to eat a cookie cake at school.

Yesterday, I dropped him off at my mother-in-laws, so I could go get my hair cut.  Jim was going to pick him up later, on his way home from work.  After my hair cut, I came home and cleaned the downstairs bathroom, which was beyond gross.  Then, I decided to reward myself by finally watching "Crazy Stupid Love", while I ate dinner.  I never could eat dinner by myself unless the TV is on - too depressing.  I loved the movie, and it made me really appreciate what I have, especially my two favorite guys.

I was wondering where they were!  It was almost 8:30 and they weren't home yet.  I started to worry.  Then, I started organizing the papers in the kitchen, and realized in horror that I never bought the cookie cake - for the next day!  I would have to run out to the store.  But, I wanted to say goodnight to Dylan.  So, I waited until the finally got home, kissed Dylan goodnight, and ran out to the store (in my pajamas!) at 9pm to buy a cookie cake.

This morning, my dad was taking Dylan to school so Jim and I could tour a school.  I made sure he took the cookie cake, and told Dylan that Jim and I would pick him up later.  While we were out, I got a call on my cell, but I didn't recognize the number, so I didn't answer.  Now, here's the crazy part...

When we picked Dylan up, the teacher handed me the UNEATEN COOKIE CAKE!  Apparently there was smoke in the school, and no one could figure out where the smoke was coming from.  The fire trucks came and the day was generally chaotic, and they weren't able to serve the cookie cake.  Can you believe that?!  (Oh, the call was from them, to tell the parents about the smoke).

So, they don't know if the kids will have school on Monday or not  (the day of the Thanksgiving show - that Jim already took 1/2 day off for!).  If they do, we were told we can take the cookie cake in then.

I felt so bad for Dylan, but there he was, smiling and excited to see us.  I was so proud, we took him to Max & Erma's for lunch to get some cookies!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Little Of This, A Little Of That

*Part 2 of the peanut allergy post:  I took Dylan to the store and let him pick some snacks he would be happy with.  He was a little too excited about it.  "I want these!  And these!  And how about these?!"  I had to reign him in a bit.  Then, on Friday, even though the snacks were in a bag, sitting on the kitchen counter, I forgot to take them.  When I picked him up from school, and asked what he had for snack, his lip started to quiver and his eyes got teary.  "I had to eat Cheez-It's, and the other kids got a cookie cake again!  You said you would take the special snacks we picked out, but you didn't!"  (Excuse me while I straighten my "Mommy Of The Year" award).  I am happy to report that I remembered to take them in today, so hopefully the snack dilemma is solved.

*Part 2 of The Ugly Shirt post:  I told Jim yesterday that I had a blog post for him to read.  I sat down next to him while he read it.  When he got to the part that said that I threw his shirt away, he stopped and said, "YOU DID?!"  I said, "Keep reading".   Then, he read the next line that said "Yes, I DID".  Ha!
Then, he asked, "Is it still in the garbage?", looking hopeful.  I answered, "No, I waited until the garbage went out.  Why do you think I waited until today to show you this post?"  (Evil laughter).

*We have started touring schools for next year (he'll go to kindergarten).  You know how much I love to tour schools, right?

*Dylan turns five this week!  There was only one thing he could tell me that he wanted for his birthday - a Sudoku handheld game, that cost $14 at Target!  I am really enjoying these days when his needs are simple.  Material needs, that is.  Emotional needs (time and attention) is a completely different story!

*I think I've mentioned that Dylan is obsessed with sports lately.  His newest obsession is hockey.  Um, yea... a sport that involves him swinging around a large stick.  Could you all please keep your fingers crossed that I don't lose a tooth?

*Remember back in October I took Dylan to the farm on a 68 degree day AND it snowed the same week?  Well, the second week in November, I took him to the zoo on a 68 degree day AND it snowed in the same week.  Pittsburgh is a confusing place to live.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ugly Shirt

I came into the family room, to watch Dylan and Jim playing football.  Playing TACKLE football... in the FAMILY ROOM.  (Just wanted to point that out to you for some reason).  Although I was seriously questioning the brilliance of this particular idea, I WAS thinking how adorable they looked, laughing and tackling each other.  I WAS thinking how sweet it was that Jim was being extra careful, and pretending to not be able to tackle Dylan.  I WAS thinking about what a great dad Jim is, but I was suddenly distracted by something.  VERY distracted.  I couldn't focus on anything else actually.

Me:  "Jim?  Where did you get that shirt?"
Jim:  "I don't know".
Me:  "You don't know?!  Did someone give it to you, or did you buy it?"
Jim:  "I don't really remember".
Me:  "Are you sure that is a man's shirt?!"
Jim:  "Of course it's a man's shirt!"
Me:  "Men's shirts never have 3/4 length sleeves!"
Jim:  "In the 80's they did!"
Me:  Blink. Blink.  "You've had that shirt since the 80's?!"
Jim:  "Yea".
Me:  "Um... are you aware that it is 2011?"
Jim:  "Is there a problem with this shirt?!"
Me:  "Wow.  Which problem would you like first?"
Jim:  "It's just a shirt I sleep in!  Who cares?"
Me:  (thinking to myself about the many times that he cuts the grass in his "pajama shirts") "Mmm...hmmm.... It's ridiculously big... What size is it?"
Jim:  "I don't know" (Moving over so I can look at the tag)
Me:  "Oh for crying out loud!  The tag is so old and frayed, I can't even read it!  It has to be an extra large, though".
Jim:  (crickets)  (As far as he was concerned the conversation about the ugly shirt was over).

When I went up to bed that night, the ugly shirt was laying on the bed.  On MY SIDE yet!  Mocking me.  I threw it in the bathroom garbage can.  (Oh yes, I DID!)

I was quite certain that it would miraculously find it's way back out of the garbage can later, because, you see, I've married my mother.  (Just writing that sentence might require a psychologist visit).  I've always loved to throw things away.  I find it freeing, getting rid of clutter.  Somehow, though, in my childhood home, things would always reappear.  I thought I was losing my mind.  I thought the house had a ghost.  Then, one day, I threw something away in the kitchen, tiptoed down the hall, and waited.  Sure enough, I heard something in the garbage... or someone.  I caught my mom red handed!  "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!", I screamed at my surprised mom.  "Well, you might want this... you could use this for..."  Yep.  I am still hearing that, but now it's in my own house, and it's my husband saying it!

The ugly shirt was at the top of the open garbage can, so I figured the likelihood of me never seeing that shirt again was pretty slim.  I figured I would be hearing about it the next day, but do you know?  He didn't say one word about it, and I think the shirt was thrown away!  Unless he secretly took it out of the garbage and purposefully didn't mention it, because he is just waiting for a perfect opportunity to bust it out and wear it?  Oh, geez, now I'm nervous.  I'm hoping that this post will not have a Part 2.
I'm hoping that is the end of "The Ugly Shirt".

So, what about you?  Does your significant other have an item of clothing that you can't stand and would like to throw away?

(P.S. The shirt he has on in that picture is NOT The Ugly Shirt.  He looks great in that shirt.  He's a good looking guy, and he should wear shirts that show that.  That picture was taken on his birthday this year, the first time I ever wore heels.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Peanut Allergies Stink

Dylan has a "moderate" nut allergy.  He's had two allergy "attacks" that I've witnessed.  While scary, they were not the rush to the hospital kind of attack, but did require Benadryll.  We've had him tested, and the doctor said to avoid all nut products, but that we don't have to be concerned with things that say "made in a place that also makes nut products" (or whatever it usually says).  We can eat peanut butter around him - he just can't have any.

Dylan is great about it all.  If he is at a party, or somewhere I'm not, he always asks someone "Does that have nuts in it?", before eating something he's not sure about.  He's never seemed sad or upset about the peanut allergy - just very matter of fact.

When I went through his Halloween treats, taking out anything with nuts, he didn't seem to care.  He did want to count and organize them, before I separated them, but other than that, no big deal.  I've wonder at times if it bothers him, though.  When we meet friends at the park for a playdate, and the other kids are eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I wonder.  When we went to someone's house, and they had just made peanut butter cookies, and offered us some, I wondered.  When I hear him explaining it to another kid who wants to give him something with peanuts, I wonder.

Today, we were sitting eating lunch, and I was trying to pry some information about school out of him.  He finally threw me a morsel.
D:  "Well, it was Connor's birthday today".
Me: "Oh... What did you have for snack then?"
D:  "I had goldfish".
Me:  "Connor brought in goldfish for his birthday snack?!"
D:  "No, he brought in a cookie cake".
Me:  (slowly understanding)... "So, your teachers weren't sure if it had nuts in it, so you had to eat goldfish?"
D:  "Yea".
Me:  "Did that make you sad?"
D:  "... Well... a little bit..."
Me:  "Does that happen a lot?"
D:  "Well... sometimes".

The whole thing just made ME sad.  I thought back to the first day of school, when the teacher called me to ask if he could have one of the doughnuts that someone brought.  I THOUGHT I had explained that they don't need to be super concerned about the nut allergy.  I figured since I hadn't heard anything since, that it wasn't an issue.  I discovered that wasn't the case.

Just last week, we had a friend over from school.  His mom told me that when it was her son's turn to take in a snack, that he told her, "We have to make sure the snack doesn't have nuts, because I don't want Dylan to have to eat goldfish AGAIN!"  How sweet is that?

I was talking to Jim on the phone, and told him about the conversation with Dylan.
Me:  "So the other kids were all eating their piece of cookie cake, singing "Happy Birthday", and poor Dylan was sitting there eating goldfish!" (I told Jim)
D: (who was coloring in the other room)  "HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!?"
I think he was worried I was out in the bushes, spying on him!  You should have seen the look on his face!  I tried to explain that I just "imagined it", but he was still looking at me funny.

I guess I don't blame the teachers for being concerned, but I wish they had let me know what was happening.  The plan is that I will pick up some single serve bags, with things that Dylan would be excited to eat ( like Chips A Hoy cookies - not TOO different from a cookie cake), and take them to school.  Well that, and an Epi-Pen.

("Peanut or Groundnut" photo by Stoonn)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Once You Post About Halloween It Is Officially November

I finally took down the Halloween decorations today, so I guess I better do a Halloween post, so I can officially embrace November.

Since Dylan LOVES to golf these days, the costume was pretty much a no-brainer.  I got every single bit of it at either a consignment sale, or consignment store, with the exception of the argyle socks.  I had no idea how hard it would be to find argyle socks for little boys!  Ended up having to buy those online.

On Halloween, I took Dylan to preschool, where I got to watch him and his classmates sing some Halloween songs, and then march in a parade through the school.  I'd show the video, but all the other kids are in it.

Right before trick or treating, (which was at 6:30pm here), it started to rain.  Oh, and it was cold!  But, it certainly didn't dampen the spirit of all the trick or treaters.  Dylan was as excited as ever.  We hit just about every house in our neighborhood.  My mom and dad were here to pass out the candy, while Jim and I took Dylan around.  My mom only gave each kid one piece, so I'm pretty sure we will be eating candy until Valentine's Day!
This is just the loot from school!

Dylan with my parents

The trick or treating loot

He's an organization freak, like his mom!  He sorted the candy and marked how many of each kind he had!  Then, we had to leave it like that, (in my living room), until the next day, so he could show his friend who was coming over for a playdate how much candy he got!  The part that amazed me was that even with all that candy out, he didn't try and sneak a piece!  (I guess that would have messed up his system).

Welcome, November!