Friday, January 30, 2009

Urp! Blech…

We had a great evening last night. Michael was in a great mood when he got home. He was all smiles, and very agreeable. He even joined us for dinner agreeably. In fact, he was in such a good mood; I decided to take him in for a hair cut. He was getting pretty shaggy.

At the salon, he was such a big boy. He sat in the chair by himself and was very obliging as the stylist used clippers, scissors and even the trimmer on him. At one point she got some hair on his nose, and while I could tell it was bothering him, he did nothing more than stick his bottom lip out and try to blow it off. I brushed it away for him as soon as I could do it without getting in the way. When she was done, he hoped down and ran over to the lollipop bucket and waited patiently for me to get him one. I was so proud.

When we got home, I gave him a quick bath and got him ready for bed. He went down easily. I was able to get my workout and shower in, relax, and still get to bed a little early. Life was good…

…until I started to drift off to sleep. That’s when we heard the noises that we didn’t want to hear. No, not Mr. Fuzzy in the attic. Gag, urp, wah sounds. %#$@.

I really don’t know what is going on here. I’ve never seen a stomach bug quite like it. There is supposed to be a bad one going around, but this really isn’t a bad one. Michael threw up Friday night, never ran a fever, and aside from a few messy diapers, he’s been fine all week. He’s even been eating. I’ve got it too, and once again, it’s pretty mild. But, it just won’t go away. I hate not knowing what’s going on, but I know that if we head to the doctor that he’ll just tell me it’s some kind of virus and I need to make sure Michael stays hydrated.

We are getting pretty good at the clean up process. I take Michael (including the occasional hand catch. Ewww…) and Andy gets the rest of the stuff. Last night, we got lucky. I had the Ultimate Crib sheet on the bed, and Michael managed to keep everything over it. Yay for not having to get out the carpet scrubber! We had Michael bathed and every thing cleaned up in record time last night.

Michael wanted to go downstairs for a little while, and since we only have one Ultimate Crib sheet, which was now in the laundry, I thought that was a good idea. I put on his dinosaur DVD to distract him from asking for milk and Shirt. When Andy was done cleaning, I sent him to bed. No reason for both of us to be up.

I wanted to get Michael back to bed, but he refused to go until Shirt was dry. It’s a good thing too; because it turned out he wasn’t done. He gave me enough warning that I was able to get a bucket in front of him in time. This was a much welcomed first in our house.

I finally got him back to bed at midnight. He snuggled right in with Shirt still warm from the dryer. Then I tip-toed down the hall in the dark so that I wouldn’t wake Andy. I snuck around the bed and into the bathroom without turning the lights on, and walked smack dab into the closet that Andy had left open while rushing to get me some towels. So much for not waking Andy. Oops.

I checked with my mom, and Michael is doing ok this morning. He’s tired, but that’s to be expected. My stomach is still gurgling and I’m pretty tired too since I only got about 4.5 hours of sleep. I really hope that whatever this is, it goes away soon. Thank goodness it’s Friday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow/Sick Day

We had another snow/ice/rain storm yesterday. We have had so many this year that I’ve actually lost count of them, and they are getting kind of old at this point. I’m tired of watching the weather to see if the ice portion of the storm is going to be a problem with my daily commute. I end up in long debates with myself about not wanting to burn vacation while also not wanting to plow my car into something solid. Yesterday’s storm was the worst one we have had, but when I glanced out the door at 5:00 am and saw three inches of snow with a coating of ice on it at least there was no debate. I called out and went back to bed.

Andy decided to brave the weather, so it was just Michael and I all day. Michael has had a touch of a stomach bug since last Friday night. It started with some throwing up, but he never ran a fever, and never really complained. The only way I knew anything was still wrong was he lack of appetite and some very unpleasant diaper changes. He passed it on to me, so neither of us was feeling 100% yesterday.

We had a nice, laid back kind of day. We played trains and dinosaurs for a while, even though T-Rexes have trouble moving the trains with their short little arms. Next we played birthday. Michel would wrap up a dinosaur with Shirt and hand it to me to unwrap. I feigned surprise each time, even after I unwrapped the same T-Rex 30 times. After a while, Michael demanded his dinosaur DVD, and I obliged because I didn’t really want to unwrap T-Rex another 100 times. I popped in the DVD and stretched out on the sofa.

After a few minutes, Michael climbed up on me and made him self comfortable. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the warmth. Then I noticed him relaxing more and more until he was finally asleep against my chest. I scooted down as much as I could and ended up snuggled up tummy to tummy with Michael; his hair tickling my nose and his breath on my neck. We napped like that for an hour or so, and when we woke up, we both felt a good bit better.

I hate using vacation time for snow days. I hate snow days when we can’t even play in the snow. Yesterday should have been the biggest waste of a day off ever. But, to have my little baby curl up and sleep on me like he did when he was just an itty bitty made it one of the best snow days ever. Who needs snow forts when you can have snuggles instead?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Either/Or Stage

I’ve decided that calling Michael’s current stage the terrible twos doesn’t really capture the true nature of what we are going through. I’ve decided it’s the Either/Or Stage. He’s either amazingly cute, sweet and funny, or he’s really obnoxious and upsetting. There is no in between. It’s all or nothing.

Saturday night we needed to run out so Andy could buy some sneakers. I’ve taken Michael to DSW shoe warehouse before, and all of those loose shoes everywhere are too much temptation for him. Fortunately, it’s right next to Barnes and Noble. So Andy went shoe shopping while Michael and I played with the trains.

I set my expectations for Michael pretty low after several of the tantrums he threw last week, but I was hopeful. Imagine my surprise when he and a somewhat older boy started to play trains together. Next, a little girl approached the table. She grabbed a train from Michael, and he didn’t even bat an eye lash. He just picked up another train and continued to play. In the past, he used to try and push his way around the table, but on Saturday, he would pick his train up and walk around the child that was in his way. What a relief.

After the little boy and girl left, Michael played by himself for several minutes until another little boy approached. He was pretty young, and was sort of shy. Michael looked up, said “Hi, I’m Michael,” and than handed the little boy a train. It was such a sweet moment, and I was so proud of him.

Andy checked in once he was done shoe shopping, and I could see the tension on his face as he approached. He didn’t ask how things were going. He simply asked, “Are you OK?” I guess he was as concerned as I was.

I was sitting back, relaxed in one of the chairs. “Michael has been great. I’m fine. Why don’t you go look for those books you were interested in?” I said, nonchalantly.

As my dad would say, “It don’t get much better than this.”

Then it was time to leave. I gave Michael the normal 5 minute warning, but he ignored me. I asked him to go find Daddy, and he rejected the idea. I explained that he could walk out, or I could carry him out, and he started begging to stay. After several other attempts at logic, I picked him up and carried him – crying- to the car.

Typical.

I’m starting to think it is a conspiracy to drive us all insane. They lull us in with a sense of security, then bam – craziness. That way, we never know what to expect. We spend all of our time worried about when they are going to let loose, and what they are going to do. We live in constant uncertainty. They are trying to break us now so that someday we will be crazy enough to hand over a set of car keys to them. An added benefit is that they lower our standards as to what good behavior is, so we’ll tolerate much more than we ever thought we would.

You think I’m being paranoid? I’m not. I used to say the same thing about Bill Gates and Microsoft. For years, no one believed me. Then, they released Windows Vista. I was vindicated. I’m sure I will when it comes to two year olds as well. Assuming I survive.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Realizations

The past few days have been full of realizations for me. The first one came while I was reading the comments to my last post. I had some great, but conflicting, advice about sleep. On one hand, I should keep Michael up to help him reestablish his nap. On the other, I should be putting him to bed early to make up for no nap. Great advice, if I have a goal. But I didn’t. I was trying to restore the nap and trying to get him to bed earlier. I realized I need to go with either one or the other.

I actually consulted my mom for her opinion on whether we should go for the nap, or give it up. She handles nap time 5 days a week, so she has a very good idea of what Michael really needs. As much as I hate it, I think she is right. He’s giving up the nap. So our goal is to make sure he gets enough nighttime sleep. His new bedtime is 6:00 pm. It’s early, and I don’t love it, but it’s what he needs. I’m not sure how it will work come summer, but I’ll worry about that if, and only if, it becomes a problem.

I also had to come to the realization that the tantrum that Michael threw on Thursday was beyond me. We have always been able to handle his tantrums and undesirable behavior with natural consequences and consistent responses. On Friday I decided to pick up several books to read up on discipline approaches. Standing there in front of the parenting books I realized that I hate parenting books. Feeling helpless, I kept scanning the section until I came across Weissbluth’s book about Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and so much anger welled up in me that I surprised myself. I had forgotten about throwing that book across the room…oh lets see…right about the same time that Michael was dropping from three naps to two (earlier than he was supposed to). I hate that book so much I didn’t even open it when Michael decided to drop down to one nap a day (Guess what, earlier than he was supposed to.)

Honestly, I ‘m not sure if the book has any useful advice in it or not. All I know is that anyone that starts off a sleep book with black box warnings about what you are doing wrong, and then takes 300+ pages to tell you how to fix it, does not understand his target audience. I swore that someday I’m going to read the book, organize it and condense it so that it can be useful to parents that have been surviving on 3 hours of sleep.

Once I realized I had all of this anger in me about sleep advice books, I was able to calm down and start over on my search. I picked up Touch Points and 1, 2, 3 Magic. I started reading Touch Points but I ended up frustrated pretty quickly. It’s an interesting book in that it explains what developmental changes kids go through, but it didn’t have any practical advice on what to do about it. Yes, I know that we are seeing a resurgence of aggression; I caught on to that when my kid punched me in the face. I want to know what to about it.

Which brought me to my next realization, I’m a slow reader. Ok, I know that, but when I’m just doing pleasure reading, I tend to forget about it. I’m always reminded of it when I really need the information the resides in print and cannot get to it fast enough. Twenty pages into a book, I want to see some answers. I don’t have time to dig through 200 pages of psychobabble when my kid is turning into a maniac. I NEED ANSWERS NOW!

Which brought me to a completely different realization that’s going to lead me off on a tangent. I exercise 4-5 times a week. I typically do about 60 minutes on my exercise bike, but I haven’t been getting the results I used to get. Andy has been after me to change up my routine; his point being that my muscles are too efficient in doing the bike, and I need to work different muscles to get a better workout. He’s right, but I’ve been very resistant to changing things up. On Friday, I finally realized why. I read while I’m on the bike. My resistance to change my work out has nothing to do with the work out, and everything to do with protecting my reading time.

At Laura’s recommendation, I decided to try out the 30 day shred. When I mentioned to Andy that I was going to buy the DVD he suggested I take a look at On Demand to see if it was on there. What do you know, it was! At which point I realized that while I’m a geek, it’s turns out I’m not the useful kind. I don’t fix computers, I don’t know how to work our new Blue Ray DVD player, in fact half the time I can’t even figure out how to turn the big TV on without shutting the cable box off at the same time. I’m technologically hopeless.

The 30 Day Shred led me to several realizations. One, Jillian is tough. Two, sneakers that don’t actually have laces that tie are not suitable for anything other than walking the mall. Three, sneakers are not cheap. And four, I have muscles in places that I never knew about before, and Jillian knows how to remind me about them. If I were to meet her right now, I’m not sure if I’d want to hug her or punch her. Either way, I don’t think my arms would be up to it.

Last night, I decided to compromise. I did Jillian’s workout, and then I hoped on the bike for 30 minutes. This way, I get a better workout, but I still preserve some of my precious reading time. I’ve set aside Touch Points in favor of 1, 2, 3 Magic. So far, it’s making a lot of sense, and seems to build off of things Andy and I already do. The book is clear and concise, and I’m making my way through it as quickly as I can.

Which brings me to my final realization of the weekend; I’m afraid of doing time outs. Anytime parenting brings out such a strong reaction, I try to figure out if it’s because the technique is “wrong” to me or if it’s touching on something from my own childhood that makes me feel uncomfortable. As I read the description of how the author suggests you execute a time-out, I agreed that it seemed reasonable. I even realized that my parents used that approach at times, and it worked the way he described it. I’m going to finish reading the book, and see if we can give it a go. But I’m still wondering just what I thought a time-out was, and why it made me so uncomfortable. I guess that’s a realization for another day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is that you Mr. Fuzzy?

Michael has been a mess since Monday night’s sledding. I know that the problem isn’t just because we let him stay up late one night to sled, but the rapid decline into overtired, raging tantrumdom started the next morning, so it feels like that was the trigger.

Tuesday was a normal terrible two’s day with normal terrible two’s tantrums. Michael refused a nap, which wasn’t surprising after his marathon three hour nap on Monday. He did fight some diaper changes and ran from me when it was time for jammies. But that’s pretty normal these days.

Yesterday started off well. In fact, Michael and my mom had a wonderful day. Michael had his gym class, which he loves. Afterward, he stayed in the daycare at the community center while my mom took her gym class. (Aerobics, gym. All the same in my book) They wrapped up the fun with lunch at McDonald’s.

Michael should have been exhausted, and he should have taken a nap. But he really doesn’t care about what he should do, and decided to play with the doors on my mom’s closet instead. Which was fine until it was time to come home. I’m not sure of the exact details, but it sounded bad. There was fighting and escaping and manhandling galore. By the time my mom pulled up to my house with him, she was beyond frustrated.

I’ve had Michael push all my buttons before, so I know she really needed to vent. As I was trying to unhook Michael from his car seat, she started to unload on me. She was speaking fast, trying to get it all out. I was doing my best to listen to her because she really needed a sounding board.

And that’s when I heard the scratching noise. My head wiped around and I instantly focused in on the source of the sound. There, on the gutter, was Mr. Fuzzy. He was scratching around, flicking that puffy little tail around and then POOF, he was gone. He squeezed under the edge of the roof, right into my neighbor’s attic. I finally caught MF making entry. BUSTED!

My mom continued to rant while Michael fought to make me put him down. “I want to play in the snow! I want to play in the snow!” and “He hit me so hard I think I’ll have bruises…” yet all I could do was focus on that stupid squirrel. I watched and listened to see if I was wrong about him entering the attic, but I wasn’t. He was in there. I knew it.

Several tantrums later, I managed to get my mom settled down, and satisfied Michael’s desire to play in the snow. (Keeping an eye out for MF the whole time.) Once Michael was inside and distracted, I returned to my attic to look for traces of squirrel activity, but found none. MF has breached my neighbors attic, but not mine. I’ll be leaving her a note about what I saw so she can have the problem resolved before he does too much damage. I feel bad that he’s in her attic, but relieved that I know what’s going on, and that it’s not going on in my attic.

As for Michael? He wasn’t too bad last night, but this morning he threw the tantrum to end all tantrums. I had to wake him up to get him ready, and he did not want to get up. The child that refuses to nap freaked out about wanting to GO. BACK. TO. BED. He screamed, he cried. I took him downstairs and he ran right back upstairs and tried to climb into his crib. I gave him a moment to calm down and he threw every book off of his nightstand. All 30+ of them. He threw his beloved binky and shirt and even punched me in the face. I was so shocked I didn’t even know how to react.

Clearly, the child needs more sleep. But I don’t know how to help him get it. I can’t force him to nap. I knew that the process of dropping his nap would suck, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. If this keeps up, MF won't be the only squirrelly one in the neighborhood. Soon, Andy might find me scampering around the attic, scratching up insulation and chewing on electric wires.

I think it's time to start the "and this too shall pass" mantra.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lessons Learned

  1. Letting Michael stay up extra late to go sledding for the first time is lots of fun.
  2. The day after letting him stay up to go sledding is not.
  3. It's worth it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Weather Man Can Bite Me. Hard.

I tend to be pretty understanding of weather forecasters; I understand that the weather is a very complex system and that they do an amazing job predicting what our weather will be luck. However, if they can’t get weather right while it’s happening, they may want to consider another line of work.

I follow the weather very closely during the winter. I have a 25 mile drive every morning and evening on high volume roads. I’ve driven them in the snow, and I know that it doesn’t take much snow to cause gridlock and accidents. Even if everyone did know how to drive in the snow, which they don’t, accidents are difficult to avoid based on the shear volume of cars trying to get from here to there.

I checked the weather frequently throughout the day yesterday. I had a late meeting that I wanted to attend, but didn’t need to attend. Every time I checked the weather, the report was the same. 50% chance of snow showers in the afternoon with accumulations from a dusting to an inch. An hour before the meeting, I checked. Same forecast. Half an hour before, same forecast. I decided to stay. When I got to the meeting the host complained about low turnout and canceled the meeting. I was frustrated, but I can flex that extra hour, so no biggy.

Well, not biggy until I got about 3 miles from home. That’s when traffic slowed to a crawl because there was several inches of cold, powdery, slippery snow on the road. I put on a CD and tried to relax for the slow ride ahead of me.

Half an hour later, with two miles left until home, I started getting frustrated. I was sitting at a traffic light and took the opportunity to warn Andy I was going to be really late. Traffic was still crawling as far as I could see. The light changed, and I inched my way through the intersection.

That’s when I heard the siren. A police SUV and a large fire company van were trying to get through traffic and head in the same direction as me and my follow stuckies. The East bound traffic was light, but both westbound lanes were packed solid. I looked ahead and realized there was no way these guys were going to get through. The van driver, however, decided to give it a try. He turned onto the road and tried to travel in the eastbound turning lane. I watched him slide right by the side of my car, fishtail, and then crash the back of the van into the back of the SUV in front of me. He missed my car by about three feet. I actually gasped and held my hand up to my mouth, which made me giggle a little.

That’s when the adrenaline rush hit. I turned off the CD and flipped to the local news radio station. They reported traffic back-ups all over the region, but not on the road I was driving. Typical. Then the weather man came on. “It’s currently snowing in blah, blah blah, location.” But he doesn’t mention where I am. “Those areas could get up to one inch of snow.”

Dude. There are three inches of snow out there RIGHT NOW. THREE INCHES! THREE! Do you get it? There is three times more snow currently on the ground than you are currently predicting. If I had known the real weather, I wouldn't have stayed for the meeting and avoided the whole mess. Between the stress of the drive, the adrenaline rush from almost being hit, and the fact that the guy is a moron, I lost it. I sat in my car and did what any rational person would do. I cursed out the radio.

I calmed down after getting some of that adrenaline burned off, but my ride was still not over. I had a hill to go down before reaching my road. I was fine, but the garbage truck next to me wasn’t. Every time the driver took his foot off the brake, the massive truck would start to slide forward and the front wheels would turn. He would ease on the break, the truck would stop, he would correct the steering, and then ease off the brake. As soon as he did, he would start to slide again. I’ve never seen anything like it. The driver was being extremely cautious and did everything he could, but it was impossible for him to steer the truck.

I hung back. If he got sliding enough that the brakes wouldn’t work, he was going to crash into whatever was in his way. The last thing I needed was to be hit by a multi-ton garbage truck. But, that didn’t stop the idiot that was behind him. As soon as I left enough room, she zipped around me and put herself directly between the car in front of her and the truck. All so she could move about 100 feet and then sit just like the rest of us.

The truck driver tried to head for a parking lot just down from the crest of the hill, but he couldn’t get control of the truck enough to turn it. He finally gave up. He stopped right there in the road and put his blinkers on. Blocking one of the two lanes of traffic. Based on the horns behind me, it wasn’t a popular decision, but from what I witnessed, it was the right thing to do.

An hour and a half after I left work, I finally pulled into my parking spot. It took me an hour to go three miles, but I made it safe and sound. I opened the door to my warm home and the voices of Andy and Michael coming from the living room. Home is such a wonderful place to be. Thank goodness I had made dinner in the crockpot*. I was able to whip up a meal in minutes. Once I had some warm food in my belly we decided to suit up and head out to play in the snow. Three inches of snow sucks for driving, but it was great for Michael’s first time sledding.

*My roast turkey recipe for the crockpot is really simple. It can be done with a Turkey breast, with the bone in, or with a boneless turkey roast. You simply place the turkey in the crockpot, pour about 1.5 cups of orange juice over it, add a bay leaf and some pepper and cook all day. Because I’m gone for ten hours, I normally start with the turkey partially frozen. You aren’t supposed to, but doing it this way keeps the meat from getting too dry.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ok, I Get the Point...

We are not an orange juice kind of family. I know some people that love the stuff so much that they can’t start their morning without it, but that is not us. The only time we ever have orange juice in the house is when I was pregnant (and craved the stuff like it was crack cocaine) and when I’m making turkey in the crock pot.

Michael has almost no exposure to orange juice. I did offer it to him once when I had left over juice after making turkey, but that’s about it. I don’t even think he’s seen commercials for it because he mostly watches PBS kids. It’s possible that he’s seen some when we have adult TV on, but that normally means Andy has the remote...and Andy doesn’t watch commercials. Ever. Even when I threaten that I’ll be very angry if I miss part of my show.

So, last night I was pretty surprised when I heard Michael calling from the living room that he wanted orange juice. I still don’t know what started it. But, he made his request at the right time. I had just bought OJ for the first time in a year so I could make turkey. I smiled and told him that I’d be right back with some yummy orange juice.

I zipped into the kitchen and filled up a straw cup as fast as I could. I didn’t want to miss the window of opportunity. Toddlers are notoriously fickle when it comes to anything edible that may go in their mouths. (And amazingly open to putting anything that shouldn’t be eaten into their mouths. Little stinkers.) Thirty seconds later I handed him the orange juice that he was still yelling for.

He put the straw to his lips. Sucked in. Then shoved the cup right back at me.

“Yuck. Icky.”

“Michael are you sure you don’t want to try it again?”

“It’s icky poop juice.” He informed me while turning his back on me.

“But you just asked for it? What happened?”

He turned back to me and took the cup from my hand. He then said, “You drink it,” and shoved it into my face, hard enough that it almost went up my nose. I pushed it away, and he kept trying to make me drink it. Finally, in an attempt to make him back off, I took a sip.

“Yuck. Icky.”

“Mommy, you want to drink orange juice. Drink more,” he said as he shoved it in my face. I took it away from him and told him I didn’t want more.

“Mommy you want to drink orange juice!” He grabbed it and shoved it back up my nose.

“No. It’s icky. I don’t want to drink it.” I removed the cup from my nose and took it into the kitchen to dump it down the drain.

Next time, I think I’ll respect Michael a little more the first time he says no to a food.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Night Off

Last night I decided that I needed to take the night off. I’ve been pushing myself a lot since the holiday break ended, and it finally caught up with me.

My normal weekday goes something like this.

5:00 Get up, get dressed, get Michael up

5:45 Leave to drop Michael off

6:30 Start work

3:00 Leave work

3:30 – 4:00 Get home

4:00 Make dinner

5:00 Play with Michael

6:30 Get Michael to bed

7:00 Exercise

8:15 Take shower

8:45 Sit down if chores are done

10:00 Go to bed


I’ve been pushing hard on the exercise thing because I wanted to start my New Year off with a blast. So that’s actually been cutting into my schedule a little more.

Yesterday, when I was posting a comment about cross-stitch on Laura’s blog, I mentioned that I’m working on a project of my own. I really excited about it. But, I realized that I haven’t gotten anything done on it since the books I’m drawing from arrived. Normally, I dive right in.

So I started to wonder. What’s wrong with me? Why have I been avoiding this? And then it hit me. I’m tired. Really tired. But not the kind of tired you get from not sleeping enough. I guess it makes more sense to say that I feel like my creative energy is used up. I’ve been plugging away, getting everything that I need to get done completed. In the process of taking care of my job, my family and my body, I sort of forgot to take care of me.

Last night I decided to take a break. I told Andy I wasn’t cooking, and ran to Mickey D’s to pick up my favorite guilty pleasure meal…a number two with a Diet Coke. Then, once I got Michael to bed I laid down on the sofa and snoozed for an hour. I didn’t get anything productive done, I didn’t do anything to help me stay fit, I just snoozed.

When I woke up, I finally had the energy to get out the graph paper and a pencil to start working on my cross-stitch design. I spent an hour working on it, then and folded it up and went to bed. Surprisingly, even though I had a late nap, I had no trouble falling asleep. I think maybe my mind got a little bit of what it needed. Now, if only I could do that a little more often…Hey, a girl can dream.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I can't quite put my finger on it.

The child that my mom dropped off last evening was not the same child I delivered to her in the morning. I noticed it as soon as I went outside to get him. He didn’t have some amazing breakthrough on a milestone. In fact, I can’t even describe what was different about him, but it was there all the same.

The closest I can come is to say there was some difference in his manner that indicated a different level of maturity. He was holding himself a little differently. Maybe it was confidence, maybe it was awareness. It was as if something within him clicked and made him feel more grown-up to me.

He was sweet all evening long. No tantrums, no whining. Just a happy kid. He wasn’t interested in dinner, but sought us out in the dinning room while Andy and I ate. He didn’t disrupt us, he seemed to just want to be around us.

It was bath night, and he was initially resistant when I suggested heading up to the tub. I told him that I would get out his foam dinosaurs to play with, and he gave me a serious look, said “ok”, and headed up on his own. We played with the dinosaurs in the tub for a long time, and he really had a great time. I expected him to fight when it was time to get out, but he was completely agreeable and tried to climb out himself…which he has never done.

Back downstairs, he settled down to play trains. This is the one place I actually noticed a tangible difference. I caught it the first time, but thought I was mistaken. But, by the 5th or 6th time, I couldn’t deny it. Michael was calling me “mom”. I’m not sure what prompted that, but I have to admit, I don’t really like it. I was sad when “mama” gave way to “mommy”. To switch to “mom” so soon is harsh. I just wanted to stop him and say, “I am not mom. I am mommy and I will always be mommy.” But I didn’t think he was going to buy it. Sigh.

I’ve been thinking about it all day, trying to figure out just what is different, but I can’t explain it. I’m wondering what he’s going to be like today. Is this something permanent, or was it just a mood he was in? Whatever it is, it’s a reminder that as much as I want him to stay my little baby, he won’t. But it’s ok because I always discover that I love the next stage more than the last.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The good thing about bad days…

…Is that they can get better.

By the end of my work day yesterday, I was pretty annoyed with just about everything. I actually left a meeting early because I was afraid the endless stream of “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care” that was going through my mind, would start coming out of my mouth. Then, on my way home, I made the mistake of stopping at the grocery store to pick up milk. The express line was a comedy of errors that had everyone but me laughing.* I got home a few minutes before Andy and took advantage of the time to get changed and have a few sips of soda before they pulled up.

Mr. No Nap was so tired, that he crashed on the 10 minute ride home. I watched as Andy gently unhooked Michael from his car seat, and tried to carry him in without waking him. Michael had his cute little pink check nestled on Andy’s shoulder. And all of the stress of the day just drained from my body.

With the skipped naps and the general two-year-oldness, Michael has been a bit of a handful lately. He’s trying to bite, he disagrees with everything just for fun, and he has random meltdowns over things that I can’t even figure out. But, he has also been extra sweet and funny too. Last night I decided to avoid the battles, and let him run around during dinner, and the reward was watching him bring a truck in and run it across the edge of the table while Andy and I ate. It was cute watching him move the salt and pepper and random “stuff” we have on the table so his truck could get by.

We were a little concerned when he disappeared and all we heard was silence for a few minutes. When I went to check on him, I expected to see him eating my curtains or shoving a dinosaur down a vent, but I was surprised to find him sitting on the sofa drawing on his Mangadoodle. When I peeked in, he saw me and said, “come sit down mommy” and patted the seat next to him.

He was like that the entire evening. We played dinosaurs and took pretend naps snuggled together. He let me steal lots of hugs and kisses, and only did minimal damage with his dinosaurs. He was even agreeable when it was time to get him ready for bed.

Michael was just the thing I needed to make my day a good one.


*Note to people who are responsible for staffing express lanes. Please put your best employees, not your worst ones on the express lane. If you don’t, there will be nothing express about the lane.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cranky

I'm cranky and I have nothing to blog today. I've pulled up my blog several times today, intending to write a post. However, I have a bit of an eye strain headache from wearing different glasses yesterday, I'm resisting the urge to raid the vending machine for potato chips or Cheetos, and I really need a nap. These things seem to be seriously hindering my ability to think coherently, so I'm going to spare you all.

One little note. I encountered another down side to dinosaurs this weekend. While Michael and I were playing dinosaur fight, I managed to get gored in the head by a Triceratops. Fortunately, it only left a small cut on my forehead. Can you imagine the look on the ER doctor's face when I explained that my head wound was the result of a battle between a Triceratops and a "furry raptor"?

"Sure lady, whatever you say."

Friday, January 9, 2009

One of the Guys

I live in a pretty testosterone dominated world. The industry that I work in is predominately male, so most of the people I see every day are men. I am also out numbered by men when I go home at night. I think I have adapted to it pretty well, and I can normally hold my own when it comes to the one-upping. I may not be able to write my name in the snow with pee, but I can normally keep up with the sports talk and know the appropriate placing of “pull my finger.”

No matter how much I adapt though, there are still moments when I realize that I am not “one of the guys.” Not only is my office dominated by men, most of those men are retired career military men. Many of them have long histories of using…ah…colorful language. But, what’s interesting is that while they are used to swearing in their work environment, they also have been trained to NOT insult a woman by swearing in front of her. This causes problems for many of them as more and more women enter the defense industry. Their two worlds, the profane and the clean, clash.

I’m very used to hearing men pause mid-sentence as they censor their comments for my benefit. In a way, it’s amusing because there are times when I would say exactly what they want to say. They are censoring things for my benefit that I wouldn’t even censor.

It also annoys me a little bit. I don’t really need to be protected from a few little bad words. I’m not some precious, delicate flower that they need to worry about offending. I’ve caught puke in my hands, I shoveled manure out of stalls, and I’ve done enough shots of Tequila that I don’t ever want to drink it again. Trust me, a bad word here and there isn’t going to corrupt me.

Yesterday, I was the only woman in a meeting with about eight guys. This is pretty common, and normally I hear a lot of pauses from the guys as they censor themselves. Yesterday however, one of the managers spoke the way he would if it was just the guys. He wasn’t cursing up a storm, but he did call something bullshit (which it was) and then later referred to something as crap (is that even really a bad word?) I was pleasantly surprised that he was comfortable doing so in front of me. Several of the older managers looked a little uncomfortable, but I just ignored them and enjoyed being one of the guys for a moment. Being treated with respect is one thing; being treated like everyone else can be even better.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

T-Rex

Thanks for all of the guesses. I got a good laugh reading them today. All of your guesses make a lot of sense. My first guess was Hangman, and the "F" is pretty noticeable too. My mom assured me that it is, in fact, a T-Rex. Deanna's description "That's not two legs...it's a tail in the back and his legs are together so they look like one in front. And that's head on top and an eyeball (a really really big eyeball)." Pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm not sure if it's really impressive, or scary, that she understands what's going on in my two and a half year old's mind.

To be honest, I wasn't 100% convinced that it was a T-Rex until she dropped Michael off last night. He had his magnadoodle with him, and when I looked at it he had drawn two more "F" shaped T-Rexes. They looked so much like the first one that it almost has to be intentional.

I am completely floored that he is drawing like this. His language skills never surprised me because I...um...sort of talk a lot, and have since I was very young. (Excessively, some might say.) But, I cannot draw at all. In fact, if I tried to draw a T-Rex, it wouldn't look much better than what Michael did. This is something completely foreign to me. I've seen Andy doodle a little bit, but I think he may be hiding something.

Oh, JenFen, your Lord of the Dance comparison made me laugh so hard my coworkers looked at me like I'm crazy. They aren't buying my line about some really funny Excel files. I'm so busted.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Break Catch-up

I really enjoyed my almost two week long work vacation over the holidays. As I’m sure you can tell, I took a big break from the internet during my break, but now I’m back and catching up on blogs.

I had many goals for the break, most of which I did not achieve. However, I did manage to pull off a few of them. I pulled off a wonderful Christmas dinner for my family while keeping my stress levels low. I actually enjoyed Christmas dinner with my family, and I was even able to sit down and enjoy the gift exchange after we rolled our stuffed bellies into the living room. I even managed to do something I haven’t done in several years. I got enough sleep and felt well rested, for an entire week. It was wonderful.

There is no way I’m ever going to get to every cute or funny thing that happened over the break, but there are a few things I’ll like to highlight.

Michael finally got Christmas this year. Andy read him T’was the Night Before Christmas before bed on Christmas eve and then we got a glass of milk and a plate of cookies to leave out for Santa. We took Michael up to bed, and then started getting the presents and stocking set up for Christmas morning. Every time Andy and I passed the cookies, we would each take a bite. I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back, all the cookies were gone. I was astonished. In my house, Santa always left a little bit of cookie behind, and I just assumed that was what he did in everyone’s house. Andy looked at me like I was crazy when I went a got another cookie, took a bite out of it, and put it on the plate. Sheesh…

We also discovered that we hadn’t explained the whole, Santa comes in the middle of the night and leaves gifts, thing very well. On Christmas morning, we told Michael that Santa had come over night when we got him from his room. He was so excited. That is until we got to the living room and put Michael down in front of all of his presents. He frowned and asked, “Where’s Santa?” Oops. Don’t worry; his disappointment was quickly wiped away by the stack of presents he got to unwrap.

Our family tradition is to turn A Christmas Story on all day while we go about our business. I’ve seen this movie so many times that I can repeat half the lines. I also know which lines Andy will automatically repeat each time they come around. This year, however, I’ve decided there is one scene that just isn’t funny anymore. It’s the dinner scene that leads up to the delivery of the Leg Lamp. The first not funny part is the narrator commenting that the poor mother hasn’t eaten a hot meal in years because she’s constantly getting up for something. Been there, done that. Maybe it will be humorous again in about 20 years. The other not funny part is when the mother tries to get Randy to eat by telling him to act like “mommy’s little piggy.” Now that I have one of those kids, I just can’t find it amusing. It’s not even useful. I tried to get Michael to eat like “mommy’s little T. Rex” but he didn’t fall for it.

There was a pleasant surprise on Christmas day. When my sister and her boyfriend showed up, I kept noticing this really sparkly diamond ring that my sister was wearing. My sister tends to buy herself jewelry with her work bonuses, so it’s not surprising to see her with new rings. However, I couldn’t remember her wearing a diamond ring since she and her ex got engaged. The ring was so stunning that when I finally got a private moment I asked her if it was real. Her response was the biggest, sweetest, goofiest grin I’ve ever seen. That’s when I realized that my sister was wearing a diamond ring on her left ring finger. We had fun for the rest of the evening trying to get others in my family to figure out that she and her “puddin” are engaged. I almost peed myself when she managed to get my mom to compare her hand with my sister’s, and even though my mom was looking straight at the ring, it never clicked. We all had a great laugh when my sister finally made the announcement. It was a wonderful way to wrap up our Christmas celebration.

I’m also going to take a moment to update you all on two of the situations from before Christmas.

Michael never seemed at all bothered by the flash light bulb that he swallowed. I never checked for it, but I’m assuming it has since passed. We did have a wonderful round of jokes about it during Christmas Dinner, which I topped off with Maria’s comment about it giving “A light at the end of the tunnel” a whole new meaning. I did fess up that it wasn’t my line, and I’m pretty sure that Maria is now welcome at just about any one of my family events.

As far as the Mr. Fuzzy situation…it remains a mystery. After I blogged about it, we never heard the noise again. I do know that they clean our gutters a few weeks before, so maybe they disrupted some critter’s food stash. Laura was entirely correct when she pointed out that squirrels are not nocturnal, which made me doubt that MF was a squirrel. Then I walked out on our balcony and discovered several chewed up walnuts and lots of squirrel poop. My best guess now is that MF is a caffeine addicted, rain gutter stashing, very regular squirrel. As long as he doesn’t come back, that works for me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The New Obsession

Over the Christmas break, it became very apparent that Michael’s letter obsession has started to wane, and that it is being replaced by a dinosaur obsession. I’ve spent the past several days debating with myself over which obsession is worse.

The letter obsession was interesting when it started. I mean really, who wouldn’t be excited that their 16 month old is learning letters because he wants to? But, there are some drawbacks to living with the letter obsessed. For one thing, most refrigerator magnet letters hurt when you step on them in the dark. Come to think of it, they aren’t too pleasant when you discover one in your bed in the middle of the night and think it’s a bug either. However, the biggest problem with a long term letter obsession is that letters are pretty boring. Once you get past capitals, lowercase, and sounds, there really isn’t much going on in the letter world. You can only change things up so much with colors and textures.

So, I was excited about the arrival of the dinosaur obsession. Dinosaurs are much more exciting than letters. There are entire books about them, including a $35 encyclopedia that I was convinced to buy at Barnes and Noble. In my defense, I gave in because it has the phonetic pronunciation of pachycephalasaurus in it, which is valuable information when you have a dinosaur obsessed tot in the house. As it turns out, he already knew what one was, and how to say it, so I got suckered into buying it under false pretenses. But, I needed to look up Iguanodons the other day, so I don’t feel too bad about it. (I’m not sure what my mom and Michael do during the day, but it seems I don’t have to worry about her rotting his brain with too much TV.)

Anyway, like I said, the dinosaur obsession started out exciting, but now that the reality has set in, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I thought stepping on plastic letters was bad. Plastic dinosaurs hurt a hundred times worse. They also take up more space, and are more expensive.

The dinosaur DVD’s are definitely more interesting than the letter DVDs. If I never hear, “The A says ah, the A says ah, every letter makes a sound…” ever again, it will be too soon. Because Dinosaurs are such a common (normal?) kid obsession, there are plenty of DVDs out there, and so far none of them include a singing frog. But, they do include talk of things like “bossils” as Michael calls them. For something to become a fossil, it must “get dead” first. There’s also been talk of dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs. Oh my. Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Michael using the word “killed”. Yikes. And, if you are looking for dinosaur related DVD’s, Walking with Dinosaurs is very well done, and keeps the flash eating to a minimum. Now, if only they didn’t mention “eating their young” a few times, I would recommend it for younger enthusiasts. As for me, Michael’s seen it once, and he’s hooked. I just try to distract him when that part comes up.

So far, the most fun and painful part of the dinosaur obsession is the pretend play. I love pretend play with Michael. The creativity and imagination of small children is amazing. The things such young minds come up with are always so surprising and sweet and humorous. I just about melted when Michael called me “Mama T. Rex” and handed me his balled up shirt because it was a dinosaur egg. How sweet is that? Michael also played “hatch” for about half an hour the other day. I would cover him with pillows and he would hatch out from them like a baby dinosaur. We giggled the whole time.

What’s not so fun is when we had to pretend to be ankylosaurus and crawl around on the hard, tile kitchen floor. My knees are too old for that sort of thing. I had to direct baby ankylosaurus into the living room so we could play on the carpet.

The worst part of the pretend play is that Michael’s favorite dinosaur is T. Rex, so he spends most of his time as Baby T. Rex. Well, like any good T. Rex, Baby T. Rex needs to fight with other dinosaurs and then tries to eat them. I’ve spent the past week being stalked by Baby T. Rex, and let me just tell you this, he may not have 6 inch long teeth, but Baby T. Rex bites hurt none the less. That little stinker will sneak up on me and try to take a bite out of me any chance he gets. If I sit down next to him, he climbs on me and goes for my head, face or hair. Mama T. Rex has tried to put a stop to this, but I think that nothing short of wiring Baby T. Rex’s jaw shut will stop him.

So, my conclusion as to whether the letter obsession or the dinosaur obsession is worse is that, in general, obsessions suck for everyone but the obsessed. Now please excuse me while I go tend to my wounds.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. My philosophy is that if you need to make a change, you should just do it. There's no need to wait until January First. Dive right in.

In the fall of 2007, I had a health assessment sponsored by mom company. The good news was that my blood pressure was good. The bad news was that my weight had crept up after Michael weaned. I had crossed out of the healthy BMI range into the overweight range. Ouch. My cholesterol levels weren't too hot either.

By the end of December 2007 I had to come to terms with the fact that I had known I needed to make changes for several months, but I didn't do anything about it. I still think my philosophy is sound in theory. In practice...not so much. So, I decided to make my first New Year's Resolution. In 2008, I would exercise more and eat better so that I could improve my health. The results are in.

In 2008, I lost 15.4 pounds. I reduced my BMI from 26.3 to 23.9. I'm back in the healthy range. I exercised for 209 days out of the 365, and that doesn't include chasing Michael through the park. By December, I had worked up to 60 minutes of exercise a day, 4-5 days a week. While my total cholesterol number is still high, it's because I raised my HLD levels from 41 to 69. I have to say, I 'm pretty proud of myself.

However, I'm still not down to my goal weight. I have about 12 more pounds to go. So, that is my resolution for 2009.