Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Proud Moments in Parenting - Christmas Edition

They brought Santa to the local malls early this year.  Normally they wait until after Thanksgiving and the malls are so packed that you can barely even see Santa when you walk by.  At first, I was annoyed at the rush.  If we keep going at this rate, the Christmas shopping season is going to start in August, and old guys in red suits will be permanently stationed under dusty pine trees in every mall.  But then I realized that this could mean Michael could actually sit on Santa's  lap without me being forced to deal with the crazy crowds.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we drove up to one of the smaller malls in the area.  As we walked by the central court area, we discovered a semi-respectable. "Michael, look it's Santa!  Do you want to sit on his lap and tell him what you want for Christmas?" I asked.

"Yes.  But I want to prank Santa."  He replied.

Andy and I both raised our eyebrows at this development.

"I think it's a bad idea to prank Santa. He'll only bring you coal if you do that." Andy smartly replied.

"He's just a guy in a suit!" Michael retorted.  He's got a point.

"Well, you know those men are Santa's helpers and they report back to Santa, so you don't want to prank them.  Plus, I've heard that sometimes the real Santa comes and fills in for the helpers so they can take a break."  I explained.  When did lying become so easy?

"I still want to prank him.  When I get to his lap, I'm going to fart on him." Michael proudly announced.

"" I sputtered trying to suppress my laughter. 

We directed Michael away from Santa and distracted him by taking him to Game Stop instead. As funny as it is in thought, I would be mortified if my child actually intentionally farted on Santa's lap.

We did actually survive the traditional mall Santa photo-op the next night with nothing more mortifying than Michael asking for a NEW iPad to replace his old one, but I'm sure we haven't heard the end of this.  On Thanksgiving, we told my family about what Michael had said...and my sister offered to pay him ten bucks if he farts on Santa next year.

Great, just great.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fear of Heights

Michael insists that he is afraid of heights.  This is something he brings up on a regular basis, and he does not like being contradicted on the matter.  Do not question him, he will fight with you about it.

So, here are some of the things he did while we were on vacation last week.

  • When we went to the small amusement park at the beach he asked to go on the Ferris Wheel first.
  • After getting off the Ferris Wheel, he ran straight to the Pirate Ship. 
  • Also while we were down the shore he asked to climb Barneget Light again.  It's 172 feet tall.
  • We also went to Hershey park during vacation.  Third ride?  Pirate Ship.
  • He went on the Comet, Hershey's icon wooden roller coaster. It's 84 feet tall.
  • He made three trips on the Sooper Dooper Looper, a 75 foot tall roller coaster that loops upside down.
  • He had a blast on Hershey's Kissing Tower.  It's only 330 feet tall.
Conclusion?  I don't think that "afraid of heights" means what he thinks it means.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Quilt

This Quilt

quilt 1

...Is not a very good quilt.  When I was inspired to start quilting again, I had to do it RIGHT NOW.  I couldn't even wait three days for a fabric order to ship, so I ran over to the local JoAnn's and bought as many pink fabrics as I could.  As a result, I threw together a lot of pink fabrics with a miss-mash of different design colors.  It is also the first quilt I made in fifteen years, and it really shows in my messy stitching.

This Quilt

quilt 2

...Is about the rejuvenation of my crafting mojo.  I'm a life long crafter.  My mom started teaching me as soon as I showed interest.  I remember stitching scraps of fabric into little wads of knots when I was no more than five years old. She taught me how to sew, quilt, and stitch.

I've always loved the technical aspects of quilting.  I love the design, the piecing, the basting, and especially the quilting.  However, I learned to quilt in the traditional style and with the fabrics of the '80s.  I just never clicked with the fabric designs.  Everything looked muddy and undefined.  Even the crisp whites used for backgrounds were replaced with taupe batiks.  I ended up doing mostly Amish and Hawaiian style work because they traditionally only use solid colors, and even that I abandoned after Michael was born.

Then, Last summer I met Liz.   In addition to being completely charmed by her three adorable children, I was charmed by the quilt that they sat on in her yard.  It was crisp and vibrant and nothing like the quilts I had learned to make.  With continued nudges from Liz's Quilting Blog It was only a matter of time before I was hooked. Thank you Liz.

This Quilt
quilt 3

...Is the Snuggle Quilt.  One afternoon, while I was cutting the fabrics for the quilt, Michael asked me what I was doing.  When I explained that I was making a quilt he immediately claimed it for his own.  He didn't even wait for me to finish the quilt before he started using it.  One chilly morning while I was working on the quilting, he squeezed up next to me and pulled an unfinished corner over his lap.  It has been the Snuggle Quilt ever since.  Whenever he wants to cuddle, he'll grab the quilt and ask Andy or I for a snuggle.

This Quilt
quilt 4

...Is a catalyst.

As I mentioned, my mom taught me to quilt.  She has been an avid quilter for many years, and it is her craft of choice.  She'll take breaks to knit or cross stitch, but in the end, she always returns to quilting.  She's such a serious quilter that in addition to having a dedicated sewing room, she also keeps a card table set up in her living room for extra space.  She may be using it to baste a quilt, or to pick out fabrics, but it's always in use.

That all ended when my mom started her cancer treatments.  She was so tired and sick during chemo and radiation that even small knitting projects were too much for her.  The table remained clear for many months.

My mom completed her treatments last fall, and I was hoping to see her return to herself again.  I discovered a small sign of hope one winter day when she babysat Michael for me.  When I picked him up, my mom had set up a jigsaw puzzle on the table, and the three of use completed it that afternoon.

That puzzle sat on the table for several months.  It became clear that my mom was not doing well.  All of her tests were clear.  Her heart was undamaged by the chemo.  The X-rays and bone scans were perfect.  Physically, everything was fine, but emotionally, the fear and illness had taken their toll.  She could not get past the trauma. She suffered so much to try and beat such a frightening disease.  She even spoke with a professional about it, hoping that he could give her medication to help her feel better.  He told her that it was just something that she had to go through, there are no magic pills to erase such a dramatic experience.

It was right around this time that I caught the quilting bug again.  However, it had been years since I quilted, and I had a few questions.  Who better to ask than the person who taught me to quilt?  Not only was it fun for her to answer my questions, I think it made her feel good to know that she had valuable skills to share.  She really seemed to enjoy those calls.

She also seemed to really benefit from her last visit with her oncologist around the same time.  She brought up how frightened she was, and how it wasn't going away even with the end of her treatments.  He sat with her for a long while and discussed his experience of suffering from heart failure and eventually ending up needing a heart transplant.  He explained how hard it was for him, a doctor, to be end up helpless in the ICU.  He validated the lingering trauma of going through such a difficult medical crisis.

This validation lifted her spirits a bit.  She was doing so much better that when I finished piecing the quilt I asked her to come with me and help me pick out the fabric for the back of the quilt.  We ended up having a wonderful time at JoAnn's as she helped me find a brown fabric with pink dots to go with the miss-mash of colors on the quilt front.  She showed me some tools that I could use to make quilting easier for me, and she even started browsing the fabrics a little.

The next time I walked into her living room, there was a quilt sitting on her card table waiting to be marked for stitching.  Not long after that she actually found the energy to purge her fabric stash and pull out all her unfinished projects.  To date, she has completed three quilts that had been abandoned when she received her diagnosis.

At long last, she seems to have found her passion for quilting - and life - again.

This Quilt

quilt 5

...Is more than just a quilt.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No Big Deal...Except for the Pictures

The weekend before last, Laura stopped by for a little while.  It was no big deal.  Which is kind of a big deal.

See, once upon a time, meeting people on the internet was creepy and only something weirdos did.  (I realize I'm showing my age here.  I grew up in the pre-Internet days.) But somewhere along the line, instead of being weird and rare, meeting people over the internet became more common.  And as a result, a bunch of crazy women who met on the old Baby Center May 2006 boards actually decided to meet up.  And it was awesome. We discovered that the friendships we had developed on-line were real friendships.  Friendships worth building and expanding.

So, we got together again.  And again.  And again.  And BOOM, it was normal.

When Laura showed up at my house for the first time, it didn't feel like having a formal guest at my house.  It was just like a friend dropping in for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.  And it wasn't just normal feeling to me, it was normal to Michael.  He was excited to see her, and giggled away when she followed him into my living room and jokingly sat on him. In fact, he was so comfortable with it that he didn't hesitate to try and talk over her and try to dominate my attention.  Which is so annoying, but something he only does around people that he's down with.  I think.

One of the awesome things about it being no big deal is that it allowed Laura to snap some great pictures before she had to leave.  I've seen her at work before, and she really knows how to engage children and get them to give her their all.  In just a few short minutes, she was able to capture this picture, which I LOVE!

She managed to catch both of us smiling!  I thought that was impossible.

And oh my,  I want to eat him alive in this picture.

 But the great thing about Laura's photos is that she also knows how to capture her subject's character.  She not only caught the sweet pictures.  She caught this one.

Which is just so Michael.  He's a very animated little boy, and I loved that she caught him being, well...himself.

Which brings me to the picture that cracks me up.


Michael tries to pull the pouting thing all the time, I guess in hopes that I'll give in.  Unfortunately, he's not very good at it and in the end both of us end up laughing.  This face is the transition face, the face that tells me that I've got him.  And that he knows he's got me as well.

So thank you Laura for stopping by for the afternoon.  And thank you for capturing these great pictures of my little imp.  And know that you have an open invitation to stop buy.  I'll gladly treat you to a cheese steak anytime.  And that goes for the rest of my internet friends too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insanity! Michael's In.

Andy and I have kind of been in an exercise slump.  We are still working out, just not as much as we used to.  And...maybe not as hard as we used to.  We've also started picking up some bad eating habits again.  To be honest, it was a nice break for me at first.  I've spent the last several years tracking every minute and mile that I've run, biked, or rowed and I was clearly burned out on all the tracking.  But I've discovered that if I don't have a race or a goal to work for, that I start to let things slide a little.  At this point, both of us have let ourselves slide enough that we either need to find some new motivation or buy new clothes.  Considering we just invested in a new heating/Air conditioning system, we are newly motivated to go with the cheapest solution.

After doing some research, Andy suggested that we give Insanity a try.   They are the same company that produces P90X, which I know about from a bunch of the military guys at work.  To give you an idea of the intensity of P90X, even many Marines find it too hard.  Clearly, that's not the program for me.  So I checked out Insanity, and while it looks hard, it has the two features I need right now.  First, everything is incorporated into a cardio workout.  I love cardio.  I hate resistance training.  Second, Insanity is all about the core, and trust me, I need to work on my core.  Badly.  I'm not talking about working on my six-pack here folks.  I'm talking about trying not to look five months pregnant.

We ordered the package last week, and it arrived yesterday.  Before diving into things, we decided to watch the first workout and see what it's like.  It's pretty much insane.  Andy and I groaned just watching some of the stuff.

However, Michael was watching with us, and his response was insanely enthusiastic.  He watched the entire 25 minute workout and then insisted that we play the DVD again.  Sure, why not.

This was the next thing we saw.

Michael really got into the warm-up. I was sure, however, that once they got into the hard stuff, he would sit it out.
Nope. He kept going.

And going.

Guys, you have no idea how funny watching this was.  Six year olds are not necessary the most coordinated people in the world, and as I discovered later, this program takes a lot of coordination.  Michael was huffing and puffing, laughing, and falling dramatically on the floor during the rest periods.  He teetered and tottered at times, and we had to rearrange things around him for safety.   He even kept running to me asking me to feel how fast his heart was beating.  But you know what?  He did the entire workout.

I've never seen anything like it.  Michael has always had energy, and he has always enjoyed exercise, but his exuberance for this was a total surprise, not to mention his perseverance.  When he finished up he was grinning from ear to ear.  (And I can assure you that when I finished the same workout two hours later, I was NOT grinning from ear to ear. Oh no, I was not.)

Despite the fact that he did the work out right before bedtime, Michael went to sleep without any trouble.  I didn't think anything about his workout again until this morning.  As soon as Michael was done his breakfast he insisted that I turn the DVD on for him again.

This was the last thing I saw before leaving for work this morning.

I just had to laugh.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Basic Need

*cracks open blog and looks around*

Hmm...not much going on around here, is there?

*Runs finger over header and discovers an inch of virtual dust*

I've been a bit negligent lately, haven't I?

*Glances at out of date links to the right*

Make that very negligent.

I'm not sure how to do this anymore.  But, since no one's around, I guess it doesn't really matter much. Maybe I'll just hang out a little and chat with myself.  See what happens.

Something very important happened last week.  Maria, one of the most amazing women I know, and her family adopted a little boy. 

It sounds so simple summed up in so few words.  They adopted a little boy.  But I assure you, there was nothing simple about it.  It's Maria's story to tell, and I hope that one day she'll dust off her blog and share some of the story.  But what I will share is that they brought home a teeny tiny little baby when he was just a few days old, fell deeply in love with him, and then had to wait for over a year to complete the process that would make "The Best Baby Ever" their own little boy.

To commemorate the adoption, they had a celebration party which Laura was able to attend and photograph.  Her post about it is entitled The Luckiest Kid Ever. Please take a minute to go there and see the pictures of Ned and his super sweet family.  Aren't they just the sweetest pictures ever?  And the best part is that I've met them, and they are even more awesome than they look.

What's funny about Laura's post is that I had a similar response to Ned's adoption being finalized. But, the luckiest kid ever in my mind, is myself.  You see, I have an adopted brother.  He's the oldest of the three of us, and like Ned, my parents brought him home when he was only a few days old. Eric has always been my big brother and I've always been his baby sister.  I've never known life without him, and I wouldn't want to.  He has always made me laugh, listened to my concerns, supported my every goal, and always had my back.  I could not ask for a kinder, more caring brother.

But, I have a confession to make.  When I was little, I sometimes worried that Eric's biological mom would show up and want to take him back.  I just could not understand how anyone could ever give up such a wonderful person.  I was just a child and could not grasp the realities surrounding a woman's choice to put her child up for adoption.  It seemed so simple to my young mind.  Eric was such an amazing, kind hearted, creative, funny little boy that I figured his mom would ache for him so badly that she would have to track him down and make him hers again. How could she not?

I never voiced this concern to my parents, so they never had the chance to explain to me that even if she did show up, no one could take Eric away from us. It was just something that lived in the back of my mind.  It was never a huge anxiety, just a low level anxiety that was always there.  A constant tension.  A threat that maybe someday, out of the blue, someone would take my big brother away.

It seems silly now, looking back on it, but it wasn't silly then.  And the anxiety from those days still makes it impossible for me to watch or read any stories that involve a birth mother battling for her biological child.  I just cannot handle it.  No matter what it will always come back to the very simple fact that ERIC IS MY BROTHER. He always has been, and he always will be.  Do not question that fact because I cannot deal with it.

Once Maria got the final court date set for Ned's adoption, she started a beautiful countdown on twitter.  Everyday she had a picture of people who love Maria and Ned and their family showing the number of days left until Ned was legally theirs.  It was exciting and touching the way we all got to share in the final stretch of their journey.

But for me, that countdown started the moment I knew Maria had met Ned.  Because I knew that no matter what the courts said, Ned was their little boy.  He belongs with them.  And I also knew there were many obstacles in the way of making that official.  And just as I worried about someone showing up and taking my brother away, I worried that something would happen and the courts would take Ned away.  And while in my situation, it never really was a possibility, in Maria's case, it was.

So, for the past year I've held that tension, that fear.  I've held my breath at every step of the process.  And at times I probably failed to be as supportive to Maria as I would have liked because I didn't want to turn into a blubbering  mess in front of her and stress her out more. 

When Maria finally posted the pictures last week showing the judge who sealed the deal and Ned's adorable face, I cried.  I cried tears of joy and tears of relief.  And then, I called my brother up and told him just how lucky I was to have him in my life. 

I am so elated for Maria and her family.  They are truly blessed to have such a wonderful little boy in their family, and he is blessed to have such great parents and caring and funny big sisters.  I'm also truly relived for them now that this process is over.  I hope that they can finally relax and breathe knowing that Ned is home for good.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Joys of Fish Ownership

I love animals. I'm a huge fan of kitties and puppies. As a child we had many kinds of pets; including cats, dogs, fish, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils (which make horrible pets), bunnies, and probably a few I'm forgetting. I also worked at a pony farm where I cared for horses, dogs, chickens, a donkey and a cow.

While I enjoyed all of that, animals require a lot of care and maintenance. I've cleaned up enough hairballs and scooped up enough horse poop to last me a lifetime. That's part of the reason that Andy and I don't have any pets. Because I don't want to take care of them.

For some reason, which I'm sure made sense at the time, Andy bought Michael a Betta fish last year for Valentine's day. As any mom could predict, the two of them took care of the fish for about two weeks, and then completely lost interest in the poor little bugger, leaving me with the responsibility of feeding it three times each day and changing it's water every week.

In other words. Hey, I have a pet fish!

After a few months of weekly water changes I bought a small tank with a filter. The good part? I didn't need to change the water as often. The bad part? Betta's like to eat food that is floating or falling. Once it hits the bottom of the tank, it's disappeared from that little fishy brain. Unfortunately, the filter in his tank sinks his food faster than he can eat it. So, to feed him I have to hover over the tank dropping the pellets in one by one. Just what a full time working mom wants to spend her time on.

I'm kind of over the fish at this point and I really wish he'd just go to the great big fish tank in the sky. But, he's a living thing, and we took on the responsibility of keeping him alive and well, so I will care for him.

A few weeks ago, the well part of the alive and well started to slip. The fish stopped eating, stopped spreading his beautiful little fins, and became very lethargic. I confess, I was kind of happy and hoped he would croak so that I wouldn't have to spend anymore time or money on a four dollar fish.

A few days passed, he didn't improve but he didn't die. Damn.

A few more days passed. He didn't improve but he didn't die. Double damn.

A few more days passed and I noticed a small white growth on his face. But, he didn't die.

I couldn't deny it. The poor thing had a fungal infection and he was suffering. He was clearly eating enough to hang on. The poor little guy was in pain, in my house, under my care. Unacceptable.

I know that there are people out there that would have just tossed him in the toilet and given him the big flush, but even though he's an itty, bitty little fish, with and even ittier, bittier brain, I just couldn't do it.

So, on Monday night Andy picked up some water treatment, and I started the intense process of trying to heal the very fish that I'm sick and tired of taking care of.

The good news? The water treatment was pretty cheap.

The bad news? The treatment seems to be working.

Does anyone want a free fish?