Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Best Christmas Dinner Ever

Well, I may be exaggerating a little, but I'm so glad that I decided to simplify and focus on just a few special dishes. I made Sausage and Bowties in Tomato Cream Sauce and Fettuchini Alfredo, both of which turned out wonderfully. I may have gotten a little carried away when I served three pounds of pasta though. We'll be eating leftovers forever. We also had salad and homemade garlic bread. Yum.

But, the real focus for me this year was a single pie. I made the Pioneer Woman's Scrumptious Apple Pie and served it with homemade ice cream and whipped cream. It was the best pie I have ever eaten. Seriously, I'm a pumpkin pie fan, and even I choose the apple pie over the pumpkin pie I had made. Folks, I didn't even like apple pie until I tried this one. If you only ever bake one more thing in your entire life, it should be this pie.

After dinner, when we opened gifts from my family, I had a surprising gift that related directly to the pie recipe. While I was searching for recipes before Christmas, I must have checked out the apple pie recipe about 10 times. Every time I looked at it, I noticed the picture that The Pioneer Woman shows of her favorite knife. It's a Henckles Santoku knife. My sister must have channeled my desire, and surprised me with the very knife I had been drooling over for weeks. She's amazing like that.

I'd share more about the first Christmas when Michael actually got it, but there is only one piece of pie left, and after posting about it, I think I need to go eat it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He Swallowed What?

I normally call my my around 8:00 am to check in and see how Michael is doing. Before I do that, I typically take a trip to the ladies room, in case we end up talking for a while. This morning, when I returned to my desk, the red light was blinking on my phone. Considering this is the last day of work before the office closes for the year, I couldn't imagine that it would be work related. We are all just goofing around. So, I checked the received call log. It was my mom. The woman who is loath to make a phone call for any reason except an emergency. Oh crap.

"Hi mom. What's up?"

"Well, I have two problems."

"Ok?"

"Well, the cable for the monitor that you bought me doesn't fit on my computer."

"Ok. Have Andy check it out when he picks up Michael and well get you what you need."

"Sure."

"Ah, mom. What's the other problem?" You know, the one that couldn't wait for me to make my normal call?"

"Well, I had to bribe Michael to let me change his diaper so I gave him my Mag-lite. Before I knew what had happened, he pulled the light bulb off and swallowed it?"

Oh, so that's what was so important. My son just swallowed a small piece of glass. I can sort of see how the cable for the monitor was more important than that. I mean, it's not like my kid just ate GLASS or anything.

I Googled it and determined that yes, the bulb is glass. But also learned that there is a spare bulb in the other end. I suggested that she pull that out as a reference and give the doctor a call.

She called back about 20 minutes later (I love my pediatrician's office) and told me that the doctor said it should pass through on its own. We just need to keep an eye on him for the next two weeks. Phew.

Oh, but the good news is that my mom was able to get her light working with the spare bulb.

P.S. Seeing how I'm a lunch break blogger who will be on vacation for the next two weeks, I may not be posting much. I should be back to my normal erratic posting on January 5th.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Letting Things Go

The holidays are a wonderful time of celebrating with our families, rejoicing in our spiritual beliefs, and eating great food. For many of us, it’s also a time of great stress. We have trees to trim, meals to plan, parties to juggle, sick noses to wipe, and shopping lists that need to say within budget. For us working moms, you can add the end of the year rush to finish up projects and clearing off of the desk. I’m not sure what extra “fun” hits the stay at home moms, but I’m guessing it’s just as bad.

My sister and I have worked out the holidays so that she hosts Thanksgiving, and I host Christmas. She is the better cook, so it makes sense for her to do the more important meal. Plus, staying home on Christmas day allows us to host my mother in law, if she’s in the mood. At least we don’t have to travel all over the place, making stops in several states.

A few years ago, I started doing a buffet for Christmas dinner. The spread included baked ziti, roast beef sandwiches from that hole-in-the-wall deli, and home baked cookies galore. Over the years, I’ve started adding items to the menu, like twice baked potatoes with shrimp, green beans with cashews, pies, homemade rolls, and even more cookies. Andy goads me on with dreams of even more. So, when I started planning the Christmas menu this year, I decided I was going to top the previous years and drop the roast beef sandwiches for something new, and even more “special.”

But, I couldn’t come up with anything. I was wracking my brain, scouring the internet, and looking through my cook books and magazines. But nothing was hitting me. Everything that sounded interesting required planning oven space, and juggling dishes, leaving me almost no time with my guests. Add to that the restriction on onions and ham, and a vegetarian guest, and I started getting really frustrated.

On Friday, I came across some articles about “Core Competency Mom’s” that really got me thinking. You can read them here:

On Not Doing Dishes: The Rise of the Core Competency Mom

Life, Uncluttered

On Wasting Time: Are you Reading This at Work? (I was)

A Happy Mom’s Secret: Don’t Do Your Own Laundry.

There were a lot of good points in the Authors’ blog articles, and they help me put Christmas in perspective. (She also made me want to hire a cleaning service, but some things aren’t in the budget. Thank God Andy vacuums.) So I asked myself what I valued the most about Christmas dinner. The answer came quickly. I enjoy spending time with my family. Yet last year, I didn’t get much chance to do that. In fact, I even had to kick my dad out of the kitchen several times because he kept getting in my way. In my attempts to outdo myself from the year before, I’ve lost touch with what the evening is all about.

Saturday, I dropped all plans for Christmas dinner. I’m just going to let it go. I will not be spending an hour waiting in line for roast beef. I will not be baking potatoes and pealing shrimp for a side dish. I’m going to make a simple, but scrumptious pasta dinner that will allow me to sit down with my family while we all enjoy the meal. We’ll laugh, eat too much, and then adjourn to the living room to share in the silly gifts we buy each other. (I’m betting five bucks that my brother and I both got my dad the same calendar.)

It felt great to just let go and simplify the meal. I didn’t realize it, but I was sort of dreading Christmas dinner. But with my revised plans, came a renewed excitement about the event itself. I’m focusing more on what we will be doing, and how it’s going to feel, than I am on where I’m going to get an extra oven for one day.

I also realized that making dinner misses out on my Core Competency. I’m not a chef. I’m a baker! So, while dinner might be simple, desert is going to rock! Cookies, pies and cakes will round out the meal. Come Thursday evening, I plan on there being a lot of over stuffed tummies sitting in my living room unwrapping gifts and laughing away.

P.S. No news on Mr. Fuzzy. I heard him for about 10 minutes on Saturday night. When I put my ear to the wall, it became clear to me that whatever it is, it’s not in the Chimney. In fact, much to my chagrin, it sounds like it’s playing in the rain gutter. I’m going to toss some mothballs into that corner of the attic and see what that does. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to talk with my neighbor and let her know that it might be in her attic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

No squirrels in the attic or bats in the belfry

When I got home yesterday, I went upstairs to listen for squirrel activity. I didn’t hear anything, not even the pitter patter of little fuzzy feet on our roof. I decided that it was probably safe to pull down the attic stairs and head up to check out the scene of the previous night’s frantic squirrel activity.

I found nothing. No squirrel, not bats, and no hole. I was relieved to discover that there were no squirrels or bats, but the lack of a hole left me a little confused. I know that I heard an animal, but where did it come from, and where did it go?

I reported my findings to Andy, who shrugged it off saying the squirrel was probably outside playing in the rain gutter. While I know that squirrels act…ah…squirrely, I tend to think playing in the rain gutter at 3:30 am is even a little weird for them. But, having no better answer for what I heard, I didn’t argue. I just hoped that whatever caused the noise, would no longer be an issue.

I kept my hopes up until I got out of the shower and noticed little scratching sounds over in that corner of the room again. I listened for several minutes, and it sure does sound like a squirrel, but if it was in the attic, I would expect to hear it running around. But it wasn’t. What’s going on here?

I peeked outside, just to make sure that MF wasn’t playing in the rain gutter. He wasn’t. I mentioned it to Andy, but again, he shrugged it off. Until about an hour after we went to bed, when MF decided to have a little party. Stupid squirrel. Go to sleep!

Andy heard it this time, and decided to investigate. He got up, and stood in the corner of the room listening. Next, he got a flashlight and went out on our patio to check the, you guessed it, empty rain gutter. Dude, go to sleep! Instead, he threw on some shoes, went downstairs and went out on the deck to look for it. Honestly, I have no idea what he thought he would see from down there that he couldn’t see from the patio, but whatever. He gave up and came to bed, and that’s really all I cared about at that point.

So where is the squirrel? I think I know. I believe that MF has moved into our chimney. That would explain the location the noise is coming from. It would also explain why there has been no scampering around. He’s just climbing down into his nest, and settling in for the night with a walnut. And the main reason I think this theory is correct? Because, of all the options, this is going to be the hardest problem to solve. Who do I even call for squirrel removal from a chimney? A chimney sweep? Animal Control? A redneck?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things that go scratch in the night

Around 3:30 am last night, I was pulled from my precious, wonderful, beloved sleep by some quiet noises. At first, while I was still drifting up from a dream, I though it was Michael moving around in his crib down the hall. I started to groan mentally; annoyed at waking up over something so trivial when I realized that the sounds were not coming from Michael’s room. It sounded like someone was in my room going through a pile of papers, yet I could feel Andy in bed right next to me. That’s when my eyes popped open and my heart started pounding in my ears.

The worst part about my heart pounding in my ears is that it makes it very difficult to actually listen to the sound and try to identify what it is. I could tell that it was in my room, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Calm down, breathe, calm down.

Two weeks after we moved into our townhome, about five years ago, a squirrel invaded our attic. We were very frustrated with the desecration of our first home and rushed up to investigate. Mr. Fuzzy, whom I referred to as MF for short, had found a roll of paper towels, and was forming a nest in the insulation under the eaves. I removed the paper towels, and surveyed the scene to see how MF was getting in. On one side, our house is completely separated from our neighbor’s house by a cinderblock fire wall. On the other side, however, there were squirrel sized gaps over the vents that run next to the rain gutter; one in the front, one in the back. Clearly, MF was coming in through the neighbor’s attic and moving into ours.

To remedy the situation, we purchased hardware cloth and some wood to cover the openings. One afternoon, we headed up into the attic, made sure MF wasn’t in there, and sealed up the holes. Bye-bye MF! Good riddance you rat with a fluffy tail.

Until last night, the hardware cloth has succeeded in keeping the wildlife in the wild and out of our attic. As I calmed down, I started to figure out that the scratching sounds I was hearing sounded like a squirrel digging at the hole that is directly over the corner of our room. Somehow, Mr. Fuzzy breeched the barrier our neighbor put up and the one that we did. And, it sounded like whatever method he had used to get in, was not allowing him back out. From the sound of it, he was scratching frantically at the hardware cloth, and not getting anywhere with it. Great MF is stuck in our attic.

The first thing that went through my mind was that London is going to get a laugh out of this. (I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m thinking about a blog friend’s squirrel problems at 3:30 in the morning.)

The second thing that went through my mind was, what am I going to do about this? I appraised the situation. It’s 3:30 am and there is a squirrel frantically trying to escape from my attic. MF is keeping me awake, but Andy appears to be sound asleep. Do I wake up Andy? If so, what is he going to do about the squirrel?

Maybe we could go up and try to pry open the cover over the hole and let the squirrel into our neighbor’s attic, and hopefully out to freedom. However, that would involve opening the pull down stairs into the attic, which might result in a freaked out squirrel escaping down the stairs. The stairs that open into the hallway, facing right into Michael’s room. You know, where Michael was sleeping at the moment. Scratch that idea.

As I was trying to come up with a better idea, MF seemed to calm down a bit. Maybe enough for me to go back to sleep and allow me to deal with this problem later. Still, I have a squirrel, which is probably really panicked and pissed off at this point, trapped in my attic. How do I get him out? I can’t let him starve to death up there. Even if that wasn’t horrendously cruel, I’m pretty sure those sharp rodent teeth could do a decent amount of damage before he became to lethargic to do anything. Not an option. Maybe one of us could try to go up during the day and open up the hole. That’s not desirable, plus it may just get the squirrel stuck in both ours and the neighbor’s attic. So, I think I may have to get my hands on a live trap and try to sneak it up there while somehow keeping the squirrel from getting loose in my house. Great.

Whatever we do, we’ll have to find the entrance route and fix it. Just the thing I want to do in a fridge attic the week before Christmas. Thank you MF, thank you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It all makes sense now

Michael has been doing really well since he returned to my mother’s care during the day. He is thrilled to spend time with Grandma and often asks to go and visit her. Of course, he often asks for her when I’m making him do something he doesn’t want to do, like sleep. But, he’s always happy to see her in the morning.

Michael and my mom have been taking several classes at the community center. One class is swimming, which he likes. My mom often brings a lunch for them, and they attend open swim in the early afternoon. Michael is always pleasantly exhausted on those days. They are also taking a music class, which provides Michael a chance to spend time around other kids. He seems to like the music better than the kids, but he certainly has fun.

He has gotten one cold since leaving daycare. I know where he got it to. The train table at Barnes and Noble. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that he’s going to pick up germs, and that playing with trains is worth it. What is really nice is that he seems to be handling this cold better than the ones he had when he was in daycare. So, while his nose has been a mess, so far his ears seem fine. (I’m knocking on wood, crossing my fingers, and even throwing some salt over my shoulder for good measure. Please don’t jinx me.)

I normally call my mom in the morning to get a feel for how Michael is doing, and so I can hear his cute little voice in the background. I never really know what to expect to hear when I call. Sometimes Michael is spouting off about letters, other times he’s climbing on the sofa and pouncing on my mom. Recently, he’s been forcing my poor mother to watch a dinosaur video over and over and over. I hear “play it again”, then my mom rewinding, then the song “Big, Bad Rex” comes on and Michael sings along.

This morning was a little different. The first thing I noticed was that there was no dinosaur video playing in the background. In fact, it was unusually quiet. When Michael realized that my mom was on the phone, he decided that he no longer wanted to play alone. He needed her attention. She started talking to him about putting something on the computer. The next thing I hear are, um…toots, followed by lots of giggles.

Mom, just what is going on there?

She gave me the link to this…






And she has the nerve to call my dad crass? Ha!

This is the woman that raised me. So, now you know how I ended up like I did.

How I Responded

I see a few of you think along the same lines as I do. When Michael said, "Crap begins with E" I paused for a moment and thought about it.

"Sweetie, Crap begins with C."

Then we went back to eating, and I haven't heard "crap" since.

Although, I really love the comment I received from an anonymous poster.

I might say, "Well, crap starts with "c", but technically it starts with "e" because you have to eat before you crap."

Whomever you are, you got me to giggle first thing on a Monday morning. Thanks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to Respond

The other night during dinner, I slipped up and said "Oh, Crap" in front of Michael. Michael was talking about letters, and without missing a beat he said, "Crap starts with E."

So, how would you respond to that?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pictures of Chrirstmas Past and Present

I have always loved all of the fun leading up to Christmas. I love the cookie baking, the decorating, the planning, and sometimes even the shopping. As a child, I couldn't wait until the tree went up, and I was always the one that went crazy with the ornaments and the tinsel. I've never outgrown it either, and I have always enjoyed decorating our tree with Andy. But, now that I have a child, it's even better.

Here is a picture of Michael from his first Christmas. He was just starting to practice crawling, and my major concern was about him learning to crawl before the tree came down. I could just imagine the many disasters that could result from a mobile baby.


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For his second Christmas, he was starting to appreciate the beautiful, shinny balls that mommy was hanging all over the tree. This is one of my favorite pictures of him playing with one of the "balls" that he stole off the tree. This is also the reason I invested in a bunch of shatterproof ornaments.

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This picture has nothing to do with decorating the tree, but I got such a giggle out of it this morning that I had to share. Those PJ's are size 18 months. He in 3T now. Sniff, sniff.

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So that brings us to decorating the tree this year. We popped Michael's old Santa hat on him (yes that is the same hat from the first picture) and got down to business. When I pulled out the bag of garland, his eyes lit right up. Things went quickly from this...
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To this...

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He did that all himself, without any help from Andy or I. Not that I wouldn't drape him in copious amounts of garland, trust me, I would. But, it was even funnier because he did it too himself.

His old Santa hat is getting a little small for him, but mommy's hat might still be just a little too big.
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After significant goofing around, we finally got down to business and decorated the tree. For a while, I felt like I was in a cartoon. I'd put on a string of garland, then Michael would take it back off. Once I finally got him to leave it on the tree, he would wait until I had it dropped nicely, and give it a yank, pulling it all taut. With enough distraction, provided by Andy of course, we finally got to the good part. Hanging the decorations.

To start, I sat down with a box of ornaments, and handed them to Michael to put on the tree. He would take one, walk to the tree, hang the ornament on a single needle of the tree, and then walk back for another. On the next trip, he would try to hang the new ornament while picking up the last one which had fallen to the floor. When he finally managed to get a number of them on, I noticed that they were all clustered together in one little spot. I decided to jump in and spread them around a little.

Here he is hanging a wreath hanger on the tree. He had a lot of fun, but I don't think he entirely gets the Martha Stewart approach to decorating a tree.

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When we were done, Andy flipped of the lights, and we all cuddled on the sofa and gazed at our shinning tree. I sure do love getting ready for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

PMS Sucks

As I mentioned, I didn’t really have a very good weekend. Nothing bad happened. In fact, from the outside, it looked like a very nice weekend. We all relaxed. I got some Christmas shopping done. It snowed a little, but didn’t stick to the roads. Michael and I enjoyed an hour at Barnes and Noble. Nothing to complain about, right?

By the time Friday rolled around, I was completely touched out. I haven’t felt that way since Michael weaned, but with all of his climbing, pulling, pushing, and poking last week I was done with being touched. This would be fine except that Andy saw just how exhausted I was, and kept reaching over to tap my leg just to reassure me. My normal mind would think about how sweet that is and I’d feel so happy to have a loving, supportive husband. But, it wasn’t my normal mind, it was PMS mind. Instead, it just felt like a constant reminder that I’ll never have a free moment ever, ever again and that people always need a little more from me than I think I have to give…WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TOUCHING ME!!!

I got up in a huff and moved over to the love seat. And, if that message wasn’t clear enough, I stretched out the full length of it so Andy couldn’t sit there if he did actually want to.

And if that crazy wasn’t bad enough, I got even worse on Saturday. Michael has started to drop naps every so often. For someone who loves her naps, this is horrifying to me. So, on Saturday morning, I decided to take Michael to Barnes and Noble in an attempt to wear him out. We had a lot of fun and stayed longer than normal. By the time we got home, I felt like I had earned a nap. No, I felt I was entitled to a nap. So, after lunch, I took Michael up to bed, read him some stories, and then tucked him in. Sleep tight baby.

I settled down on the sofa with a soda a my Sudoku book and listened to the monitor, waiting for that regular breathing that signals my ok to head up for a nap. But instead of rustling covers and sweet little sighs, I was hearing an ongoing conversation about how Michael didn’t want to take a nap.

No, no, no! I need a nap. Sleep, child sleep. Please? Pretty please with sugar on top? After about half an hour of mentally pleading with him to sleep, I started getting frustrated, then mad. I was so upset, I felt like I was trembling inside. I JUST WANT A FREAKING NAP! Is that too much to ask for? Seriously. A nap, that’s all I want.

It was getting close to an hour when Michael started to object to his quiet time. Andy came up and I informed him that he was going to have to deal with Michael because I needed to go have a nervous breakdown. Then, without another word, I went upstairs and shut myself in my bedroom like a pouting child. A few minutes later, Andy came in to get something and caught me crying, which just made me even angrier. I wanted to curse at him and maybe toss my pillow in his general direction.

I’ve felt this way before with PMS. I get angry for no reason, I start to tremble, and then half an hour later it passes and I’m fine. But, on Saturday, that didn’t happen. When I got up from my nap, I was still feeling off. I decided to run to the grocery store to buy myself a little more time to pull myself together. However, I quickly found myself overwhelmed in the pasta isle, trying not to cry over the enormity of choosing between Barilla or San Giorgio. One of them must be better than the other, right? What if I pick the wrong one? Shouldn’t I know these things? Oh my god, why does everything have to be so freaking hard?

I survived the shopping trip, and eventually calmed down. But then I was left feeling emotionally and physically drained. I also felt horribly guilty. I went psycho over missing a nap and having too many types of pasta to choose from. I feel so bad for Andy and Michael to have to experience that, and embarrassed that I so completely lost it over a few hormones surging through my blood stream.

I’m not sure what made things so bad this time around. Was I just too stressed and tired to handle it? I don’t think so. Ive been worse off and never lost it like that. Did it have something to do with adjusting my thyroid medication? I mean my levels are fine now, so that should make things better, not worse. And then it hit me. What if this has to do with my age? What if this is the beginning of perimenopause? At that thought, my brain short circuited. I’m not ready to start thinking about that sort of thing. Must distract myself. Must distract myself.

So, what do you all think? I normally do roast beef sandwiches and baked ziti for Christmas dinner. I’d like to switch things up a little, so I’m going to do lasagna. But what meat dish should I do? I’m not a fan of ham, and I don’t want to do turkey. I like to do a buffet style meal. Any suggestions? Maybe something I can prepare in advance and then reheat?

Huh? Wait, what was I talking about? Never mind, I’m sure whatever it was it wasn’t important.

P.S. I finally went with San Giorgio because it was on sale.

Meme for Christmas

I think I'm going to do a post about PMS later, so here is something cheery for the day. Melissa at My Little World tagged me with a meme. It was fun to do, and helped me reflect on some of the more important parts of the holidays.

Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate.

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree?
Wrapped.

Colored lights on tree or white?
I used to be all about the white lights until I met dh. He really likes colored lights, and that’s what we have used. This year we bought a pre-lit tree with white lights, and I have to say, I miss the color.

When do you put your decorations up?
A few Saturdays before Christmas.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Lasagna.

Favorite holiday memory as a child:
The year my brother and sister bought each other Alf dolls. They were both so excited that they had to show me what they had bought. I had to keep a straight face and the secret for several weeks. It was so worth it on Christmas morning when they each brought out their very similar looking presents for each other. They each eyed the other’s gift while I giggled to myself.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I’ve always been a skeptic, so I don’t think I ever believed. Of course, my sister didn’t help. One year the neighbor association decided to do a Santa tracking thing over the CB radios (Yes, it was the 70’s). My dad handed my sister the radio, she clicked the button, and then announced to the whole audience that Santa was a fake.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
My mom always made us Christmas PJ’s that we got to open on Christmas eve. Does that count as a present?

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
This year we are going for shatterproof chic. I call it the Walgreen’s special.

Snow! Love it or dread it?
Both. I love watching snow. I love playing in snow. I don’t’ even mind driving in it…if I’m the only person on the road.

Can you ice skate?
It’s been a while, but I could the last time I tried.

Do you remember your favorite gift?

My boom box (the 80’s). That was when bigger was better. My iPod Shuffle is smaller than one of the batteries that the monstrosity sucked down like water.

What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Spending time with family

What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Baklava. Oh Aunt Bubbles…

What is your favorite tradition?

When we were kids, my mom would make my brother, sister and I sit on the steps while “Santa” turned on the lights. We would all squish together as close as we could and wait for the go ahead. It only lasted a moment, but it was our chance to connect before the chaos began.

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Giving.

What is your favorite Christmas Song?

O Holy night, preferably sung by my brother.

Candy canes! Yuck or yum?

They start out Yum, but quickly turn to yuck. And, I never learn.

Ever recycled a Christmas present?

Nope.

Monday, December 8, 2008

To spare you...

I’m cranky and PMSing today, which follows a weekend of being cranky and PMSing. So, instead of subjecting you to the same whiny, snippy attitude that Andy had to deal with all weekend, I’m going to do this meme that I stole from London. It's one hundred things, you bold the ones you have done.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars (In silk PJ’s)
3. Played in a band (I’m counting the grade school orchestra.)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower (Several. Even one in the middle of a freezing cold night)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain (On Earth day 1990 so I could see the first ray of sunlight touch the USA.)
9. Held a praying mantis (I’ve touched one to move it to safety, which is amazing considering my fear of bugs)

10. Sang a solo (And the world is grateful)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
( Yes, if it means I’m on land, and the storm is at sea. No, if I have to be on a boat.)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (Irish crochet)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill

24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse (Sun and moon)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (Frequently, the sunrise this moring was gorgeous)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (See, that’s the problem with money, you never seem to have enough.)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke (No, No, Heck NO!)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa (Oh, but I had a chance, and turned it down. Stupid pride.)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (With my mom. I was ok, she had a broken foot.)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (By $2 dollars. Get this, the bank COVERED it for me at no charge!)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (No, but I’ve stuffed a few)
88. Had chicken pox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
(I’m counting the dude that played Leather Face in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee (A number of times, including twice in my mouth. Clearly, I talk too much)
100. Read an entire book in one day


Wow, 41. I hope to add a number of them before I die too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Week in Review

Monday

Michael had swim class on Monday morning. After class, my mom decided to stay at the community center for the open swim. Michael had a blast. Michael didn’t get to nap until 2:00, and I woke him up at 3:00. By 5:30 he was so tired/wired that he was slap happy. I was the one getting slapped.

Tuesday

Michael had music class at the community center. Michael had a blast. He also didn’t take a nap. By 5:00 he was slap happy. At 6:15 he climbed on my head, grabbed my hair, and tried to “ride me like a horsey.” Michael was in bed by 6:35.

Wednesday

It was a much better day on the sleep front. There were no classes and he a nice long nap. Michael was very energized when he got home.

My mom found a video about dinosaur digs at a thrift store. It’s actually a travel video about different dinosaur attractions in the US. It has lots of dinosaurs and several songs, including Big Bad Rex. Michael loves to watch the video. Over, and over, and over again. When my mom dropped Michael off, she brought the video with her. I was not happy. Halfway through the second viewing of the video, our power went off. Then, I was really unhappy. “I want BIG BAD REX, I WANT BIG BAD REX,” was shouted as a mantra throughout the house.

Have you ever tried to explain a power outage to a 2.5 year old? Well, I have. After about 20 minutes of it, Andy and I decided to go someplace with power so I could stop saying, “We can’t watch Big Bad Rex because there is no power in the TV. And no, I can’t turn the lights back on. They need power too.”

Thursday

Michael was in a great mood when he got home. M was out with her mommy, so they played for a few minutes until it started to rain. We had to take Michael in. As soon as he settled down, he looked at the blank TV and demanded that the TV needed power. Hey, my explanation worked! Who would have guessed?

Andy and I have both been trying to eat healthy and lose weight, but last night I decided I needed a break so I ran to McDonalds. I got Michael his usual Mickey D’s treat, a milkshake and french fries. Andy got Chicken McNuggets. As we were eating, Andy offered one to Michael and got the normal refusal. However, I decided to try a different approach.

“Oh, Michael, you can’t have that. No Chicken McNuggets for you. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it anyway.” He snatched that McNugget away from Andy so fast I could hardly see his hand move. Before I knew it, he was taking a bite out of it. Then another, and another. He finally grinned and popped the last bite in his mouth like it was the most delicious thing he had ever eaten. I’m thrilled that he finally tried something with meat, other than a hot dog. But it would have been better if he had done it for a reason other than disobeying me.

After dinner, we had another first. Michael and I went downstairs to play with “his” billiard balls. Not long after we got down there, he decided he needed some private time so he headed for the closet. (We have Michael’s 2.5 year appointment today. I’m going to ask the pediatrician about how to potty train a child that insists on pooping in the closet.) When he was finished, we headed upstairs to change his diaper.

This is were the strange part happened – ok, pooping in the closet is strange, but it’s not a first. Michael wanted to go back downstairs, so Andy went down with him. Normally, Michael will insist that I come down too or he won’t go. But, last night he happily went down with just Andy. He called my name once, but kept going when I didn’t follow.

They played down there for at least half an hour. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Part of me wanted to head down and play with him anyway, but the other part of me wanted to plop on the sofa and read for a few minutes. It felt so odd sitting there reading while those two played in another part of the house. I’m used to that while I’m cooking dinner, but Michael normally comes into the kitchen every so often just to check on me. Not last night. After a few minutes of reading, I put down the book and closed my eyes for a quick snooze. Ah, did that feel nice. I felt so energized when they came back up.

It’s a good thing too. Michael decided that I was a puppy dog and made me sit in the living room while he kept running into the kitchen to get me imaginary doggy bones. He would bring me big bones and little bones, and finally brought me some huge dinosaur bones. After feeding me for several minutes, we switched off and he was the puppy. He sat on the floor; panting, barking and eating my imaginary bones. It was terribly sweet, especially after a week of slap happy toddler abuse and a power outage.

When bedtime rolled around, I helped him get in his warm, fuzzy PJ’s. He snuggled on my lap and I read to him about Tyrannosaurus Rexes and Triceratops. He settled back against my body and closed his eyes while I sang to him. Finally, I tucked him in with his plastic Big Bad Rex and a dinosaur book and kissed him good night. He murmured “I love you” as I left the room.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Comments on comments

I often think about doing a post based on my comments, but rarely do. I’ve gotten several comments this week that have really made me reflect, so I thought I’d take a stab at them.

The first comment is Desi’s response to Michael playing the drums.

I guess I'm the opposite of everyone else LOL. Growing up both of my parents were musicians. My dad supported our family for a few years by playing drums and trumpet in a funk band. We had a drumset in our house as far back as I can remember. I would find it so cool if J was interested in playing drums, but I'll wait until he's older and let him pick whatever instrument he wants (my parents had us all pick instruments at age 5).Amazingly my hearing is fine but I have to admit my twin sister has some hearing loss in her left ear.

I was mostly joking about not wanting Michael to play the drums. The thought of a three year old banging randomly on a set of drums makes me cringe, but the thought of an older child learning to play the drums based on their passion is an entirely different matter.

I don’t come from a very musical family. Sure, we all love music. My sister and I both played instruments in school, and we were good enough for the Winter concert. But, my family doesn’t really have music, if you know what I mean. And the way that I know this is because my brother does have music. It’s not entertainment or a distraction, it’s part of who he is. He is gifted with an amazing voice, and an ear for both music and lyrics that never ceases to astonish me. Singing is not something organized or planned with him. He just does it. Growing up, I just got used to him breaking out in song at random times. He would get an idea in his head for a little ditty, and for several weeks, we would be blessed (or cursed, teen age boys come up with some weird things) as he worked out the tune and the words. His music was as much a gift for us, as it was for him, and I really miss hearing him sing all the time.

That said, I don’t think there is much hope that Michael has music. When he was playing with the drums, he wasn’t playing music. He was exploring how they work; investigating the similarities and differences that each drum makes. He would focus on one drum first, then another. There was no sense of rhythm involved, no sense of music. It was purely analytical.

I could be wrong. Michael is really into songs right now. He even wiggles his hiney to some of them. So, if he does want to play an instrument – even drums – I’ll encourage it. But, somehow I think I’ll be buying him a calculator before I buy him drum sticks.

The other comment that made me think was Laura’s in response to yesterday’s jealousy post.

Let me yell you the honey-do list Jon would have if he had an ENTIRE week off!!!!!! I would give him one day to relax and the rest would be doing all the stuff I get the joy of doing while he is traveling.

Believe it or not, I don’t do honey-do lists. When we got married, the women that Andy works with actually gave him a Honey-do pad as a joke. After a year or so, I finally used it for shopping lists because I never once had a request for him.

Now, before you all start thinking I have the luckiest husband in the world because he doesn’t get Honey-do list, I should clear something up. Andy isn’t the lucky one. I am, and I’m going to brag.

When I got home yesterday, my kitchen was spotless. The counters were wiped down, the dishes were all washed. He had even scrubbed around the burners on the stove! Be still my beating heart. Then, I opened the fridge. Andy had cleaned out all of the leftovers and washed the shelves. It was sparkling.

No, I’m not lying. My husband, without any prompting, scrubbed my kitchen from top to bottom. I’m telling you, he’s a keeper.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jealousy

I’m not typically a jealous person. If a luxury car pulls up next to my Honda, I’m happy knowing that my tires are cheaper than theirs. And, at least I’m not driving that Hyundai anymore. If someone has a nice big house that actually has enough room for all of their stuff, fine. Maybe I should start buying reasonably priced hair and skin care products instead of Aveda, and put the difference in the bank. I fully recognize that while many have more than I do, many more have less. I am grateful of my blessings, and I also recognize that my choices and actions play a large part in what stuff I have and don’t have.

That said, I’m jealous. Not seething, angry jealousy. Just that low level envy that creeps up on me every so often. I wasn’t even going to say anything about it, because honestly, I’m a little ashamed to admit it. But, after I read Desi’s Dear Santa post, I realized that maybe I’m not the only one with feelings like this.

So, what is making me jealous? Andy has the week off. Not only does he have the week off, we are still sending Michael to my mom’s each day. All week long, Andy get’s to sleep as late as he wants. Once he gets up, he can do whatever he wants. When I say whatever, I mean whatever. You know, like go to the bathroom without someone barging their way in so they can “help” you with the toilet paper. Or, sit down and watch the news without someone climbing on your head and grabbing your hair all while yelling, “I ride you like a horsey.”* Hell, he can even leave a sharp knife out on the counter if he wants to. Can you imagine!

I don’t begrudge Andy the time off. He works hard all day, he is so involved with Michael, he does so much of the house work that he deserves the break. But, I wish I could have one too. Whine, pout, sigh. But, it doesn’t work that way. When I’m off, my mom get’s to take off too. That means that Michael stays home with me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being home with Michael. I know that these days are limited. I know Michael will grow up and demand independence. I know that when it happens, I’m going to be sad. I’m going to miss these early years. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to sleep late, or do a puzzle without the pieces being thrown all over the house. At this point, I’d even settle for being able to clean the house without worrying about what the little beast may do while I’m out of the room.

However, that is not the fate of a mom with a two and a half year old. So, I guess I should just suck it up and deal. But, if I dream of soaking in a hot tub for an hour, reading and drinking wine, would you really blame me?

*Yes, this did happen to me. What I failed to mention was that Michael also farted on my head while he was doing it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nothing Good Can Come of This.

We paid a visit to one of Michael's great grandfathers a few weeks ago. This is what Michael discovered when he started to wander around the house. While it was fun watching Michael play the drums at someone else's house, I'd prefer that we keep this something special to be done at great Pop Pop's house, and not an every day occurance at ours. Seriously, can you blame me?

Photobucket

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving at the McMansion

When sharing stories about Thanksgiving, I’m always struck by how large many families are. I have a very small family, and I can’t imagine how you fit 18 people at a dinner table. I guess that’s were the fabled children’s table comes in. We have never needed a children’s table because we’ve always been able to squeeze the kids in at a regular sized dinning room table. However, I do know how to feed 18 people, because despite our small family size, we always end up with enough food to feed a small army.

My sister, Aunt Bubbles, and I share the holidays. She normally takes Thanksgiving, and I normally take Christmas. She’s one of those people that is always in the middle of some project or another, so we never know what Thanksgiving will be like. This year, she and her boyfriend are in the process of building a house. Until the house is built, they are renting a Mcmansion that hasn’t been able to sell in the current market. I volunteered to take over Thanksgiving for her, but she declined. I am so glad. Michael ended up having a blast.

They haven’t unpacked very much because they are only planning on being there for a short time, They also have two beagles that can do so much damage that I’m convinced they have hidden opposable thumbs. What that means, is a huge house that is completely child-proofed. What more can a little boy ask for than constant attention from doting grandparents, hardwood floors to slide on, huge closets to hide in, and permission to jump on the furniture? And, what more can a mother ask for than a few minutes when she doesn’t have to keep a close eye on her child and doesn’t have to worry about him getting hurt or breaking anything? Add to that endless pumpkin pie with real whipped cream and my sister’s potato sausage stuffing, and you end up with a very happy little boy, and an even happier mommy.

After dinner, we all ended up in the living room looking at vacation pictures and playing catch up. It’s so nice to have a little bit of time to sit down and chat. It was a little bit difficult with Michael jumping on all of us, but isn’t that really what Thanksgiving is about, enjoying time with your family and counting your blessings?

It can be hard at the end of the evening to pack up and head home, but this year Michael made it easy. He refused to nap on the ride down, so by 5:30 he was running around like a maniac, trying to keep himself alert. He ran right into the corner of a very soft chair, and lost it. Complete and total meltdown. We scooped him up, said our goodbyes, and tucked him into the car for the ride home. He was out cold in a less than a minute. We ended our day listening to his sweet little breaths coming from the back seat.