Friday, January 29, 2010

Phone Photo Friday - Sanity

When Michael became obsessed with letters when he was 14 months old, I have to confess that I was proud and excited. By about 20 months I was still proud, but the excitement had died down a little. I mean, letters really aren't that interesting for six months straight. When Michael was 24 months old, I was all "Here, don't you want to play with this car?" When he switched to dinosaurs at 2.5 years, I was thrilled.

Dinosaurs are much cooler than letters. There are lots of books, movies, and pretend games that involve dinosaurs. I really enjoyed learning about carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. The first trip to the "Dinosaur Museum" was absolutely magical. I enjoyed it almost as much as Michael did. However, after the 100th viewing of Walking With Dinosaurs, my enthusiasm had cooled a lot more than Michael's had.

And don't even get me started on having to read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" every night for four months. Let's just say that there really can be too much of a good thing.

Michael has developed a new interest, as you can see here.


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He is obsessed with these books, as well as the non-fiction Top Readers series. In the morning we carry them downstairs. If he's going to my mom's, they go with him. At bedtime, we carry them back up and Michael begs me to read them. "Please, please, please!" Last night I ened up reading to him for an hour! (Because he's taking 2 hour long naps at school and wasn't remotely ready for bed.)

It's interesting, much of what's in these Smithsonian books is way over Michael's head. The books are set up so one page is a full page picture, and the opposite page is several paragraphs of text. But that doesn't stop him. He still wants me to read them. Sometimes a certain part of a book will catch his interest and he'll ask me to go over it again and again. Wednesday evening we spent a while discussing several pictures showing the four chambers of the heart. He thought each chamber was a heart, not a part of it. I don't think we ever worked that one out. Last night, he stopped on pictures showing ocean temperature difference between El Nino years and regular years. He wanted to know why they called it a disaster. It's challenging to come up with answers that he can understand, but I'm enjoying myself.

I confess, part of my enthusiasm is over the topics we are dealing with. How cool is it that he's interested in the same stuff that I'm interested in?

But, you want to know the main reason I'm so excited? Variety! No more freaking "We're Going on a Bear Hunt". (Which I may have hidden.) No more "The B says Bah, the B says Bah, every letter makes a sound, the B says Bah." No more Walking With Dinosaurs. Hallelujah!

I'm sure that I'll eventually get tired of volcanoes, weather, stars, pyramids, the ocean, and such, but for now I'm going to enjoy the novelty of Michael's latest obsession.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Unexpected Problem

I've been complaining about Michael dropping his nap at 2.5 years to just about anyone who will listen. I was devastated when he dropped his nap. On weekends, his nap time was also my nap time, and I really did need those extra four hours of sleep. It also gave everyone a nice break from one another. A 2.5 year old for 12 hours straight is a lot to handle. A 3.75 year old even more so.

However, over time we have adjusted to the change. We've gotten into a routine that works for everyone. On the weekends, Andy and I play tag team to give each other a break. During the week, Michael goes to bed early and everyone gets a break.

It turns out that Michael's daycare has a two hour nap/rest time. To my knowledge, Michael has never actually slept during that time. He does indicate that he's resting, but you can never trust a 3.75 year old to report things accurately. What I'm noticing though, is that he's having more trouble falling asleep on daycare days. It's possible that he's just feeling extra clingy on those days, or it's possible that he's getting enough rest that he doesn't need to go to bed. Whatever is going on, it pretty much sucks.

If it was every day, I'd just put him to bed later and after a few weeks, I think we would all adjust. However, it's not every day. Instead, he stays up late on those nights, and then doesn't want to get up the next day. I mean he REALLY, REALLY doesn't want to get up. Once I get him out of bed, he stalls and whines and resists every move towards the door. When we get to my mom's, it gets even worse. He clings, he screams, he throws Pez dispensers at me. Yesterday I had to carry him into my mom's apartment, dump him, then hold the door from the outside while my mom latches the deadbolt. It's a nightmare.

I don't know how to solve this problem. The best thing would be for the daycare to let him skip nap time, but I doubt that's going to happen. I'm going to pick him up today, and I'm going to see if I can talk to his teacher to find out just how much rest he's really getting, and see if there are any changes we can make to ease the problem.

If not, at least in a year and a half he'll start kindergarten and we'll have new problems to deal with.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Like Being a Wine Connisseur...

...but without the buzz.

My appreciation of wine has changed over the years. Back in my college days, wine was just something to drink for the buzz. I'd make my wine selection by counting how many dollar bills I had in my pocket then subtracting out the cost of a nutty bar and a Coke. Whatever I had left I'd use to buy the most palatable White Zinfandel I could afford. (Thank you Ernest and Julio Gallo!)

Once I graduated from college and could actually afford to spend more than five dollars on a bottle of wine I learned some amazing things. You know, like red and white wines go with different foods. Imagine my surprise when I realized that there were different kinds of red wines and different kinds of white wines. It opened up a world of possibilities! The world of wines is much more complex and subtle than I ever expected.

Before this winter, colds were just colds. I'd get one or two a year, be sick for a week to 10 days, and then get over it. Pretty simple right?

Ah, but then Michael entered classes at the community center followed by daycare. I knew we were in for a lot of colds. I was warned. Trust me, you can't read mommy blogs for four years and not know about daycare and colds.

The surprising thing is not the number of colds we have had this year, but the variety. I never realized how distinctly unique each cold could be. Each one has it's own combination of head, nose, throat, neck, and chest symptoms and those symptoms vary in intensity and duration. So, the first cold was a mild scratchy throat progressing to moderate runny nose cold. The next one was a really bad scratchy throat that quickly changed to a deep chest cold that lingered for weeks. From there we moved onto the moderate scratchy throat to extensive runny nose cold that cleared up in about five days.

Even more impressive than my symptoms, are the reactions Michael has had. I'm quickly learning what different symptoms do to him. Scratchy throat results in frequent night wake-ups. Runny nose results in night time gagging and puking. Coughing results in midnight crying from a half asleep and very sweaty child. These mix and match at various stages of each cold and make every night an exciting new adventure.

So, please allow me to provide you with an expert critique on the current cold. I call it the alien cold because I'm pretty sure an alien has moved into my head. It's lodged itself into my sinuses and is stretching its tentacles out to my ears and the lymph nodes in my neck. I'm pretty sure it got into my head through my mouth because my throat hurt so badly for two days. Now that it has settled in, my throat has recovered, but the alien has started doing something really disgusting. I believe it's excreting fluorescent green slime through my nose. I'm not positive, but I think it may be toxic.

Yes, you heard me and alien has taken over my head and turned me into a toxic waste dump.

I think I'll survive, but it really makes me afraid of what the next cold might be like...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Maybe He'll be Potty Trained Before College After All

I'm pretty sure that Michael is one of the last May 2006 children who is not potty trained. While I'm not one to think much of peer pressure, in this case I agree. This is pretty late. I'm getting close to the "I need to talk to the pediatrician" on this one.

I tried to do a little "booty camp" during the holiday vacation, but I only got one day in before I had to abandoned my attempts. However, I wasn't giving up, I was just delaying. So, this weekend we gave it another try.

The first positive thing was that Michael actually agreed to put on underwear. Believe it of not, he's actually been potty trained for several months...if he's naked. The naked potty training was good, but not exactly practical. It doesn't seem like a stretch to be potty trained while clothed, if he can do it while naked. But, until this weekend he refused to put on underwear without a huge fight.

I was so encouraged by the underwear situation that I decided to give a trip to the book store a try. It required many "do you need to go potty" questions, but Michael managed to control his bladder until we made a trip to the bathroom. Success! This encouraged further trips to the grocery store and the mall. I even took him through the car wash with me and he stayed dry. I was thrilled. Finally some progress. I even sent him to my mom's in underwear yesterday.

He did have some accidents at home over the three days in underwear. We have to ask him constantly if he needs to use the potty or else he may just decided to go down his leg. So, we aren't there yet. But I'm not crazy enough to expect miracles.

We are going to keep doing the underwear thing on non-school days and I hope that over time he'll either go on his own or at least learn to ask to go to the bathroom when he feels the urge. If I'm really lucky, maybe I'll be able to avoid the "my kid still isn't potty trained" confession at his 4 year well child appointment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Benefit of Setting Non-goals

So I kind of, sort of set a non-goal for my New Year's Resolution. It's a good thing it was a non-goal, because if it had been real, I would have failed.

Yes, that's a really confusing and absurd way of saying that I let myself get really stressed out last week.

Overall, things are actually going pretty well. On paper, it doesn't seem to me that I should be stressed out. But stress never seems to care about how I want to feel. It just barges right in and takes over.

On the good side, daycare is still going well. On Thursday, Michael even ate his lunch. Michael ate! That's so impressive, I think I need to use caps. MICHALE ATE! And, even better, it was actually food that he ate. Astounding.

The new schedule seems to be working out well for my mom too. She's much less stressed out than she had been. So it seems that placing Michael in daycare two days a week was a good idea and is having a positive impact.

So, what's my problem? I think it's a few things.

The first problem is the endless colds. I knew this would happen when I signed Michael up for daycare. It's just the way it is. I'm not upset about it, or disappointed. My problem is how it effects Michael's sleep. Each cold comes with at least one night of frequent wake-ups because his throat is sore. We get a few half decent nights, then we get a night or two of gagging and all the fun that goes along with that. He then improves for a few days before we start the process over again.

What this means for me is frequent wake-ups and rushing to his room to make sure I get the bucket in place in time. Granted, that's only been 3 or 4 nights this month, but any coughing wakes me up and get's my adrenaline running. So, even if he just coughs twice and falls back to sleep, I end up wide awake for half an hour.

The second problem last week was my exercise bike breaking. I don't mind using the elliptical. The problem is that Andy and I often end up exercising at the same time, and that wasn't possible last week. It completely threw off my schedule.

Have I mentioned that I really like routine? If not, I'm guessing that's pretty obvious anyway.

The third problem last week was...hmm...how do I even describe this? Michael is a master staller, but last week he used my least favorite form of stalling. The raving lunatic approach. This involves making irrational and contradictory demands and then screaming and crying when I try to fulfill those demands. The tactics got crazier as the week went on.

By Thursday night I was so tired I took a nap after I put Michael to bed. He went down easily, but about 25 minutes into my nap he woke up and started with the demands. I did everything I could to calm him, but it finally came down to Michael just wanting me to fix his pillow. So, I went into his room about 15 times so that I could pick the pillow up off of his head and then put it back again. I tried to let him just cry it out, but he started gagging, which leads to buckets and sheet changes. It was pretty much lose/lose. When Andy finished up exercising, he took over for me. Michael was asleep in ten minutes.

Of course, I knew what I was in for Friday morning. Tired, cranky kid leads to horrible morning drop offs. That's just what I got. I pulled up in front of my mom's, and before I even had a chance to unhook my seat belt I got hit in the face by a Pez dispenser. (Orlando Bloom, woo hoo!) Let's just say that I didn't handle that as well as I would have liked. I hauled Michael up to my mom's apartment using the one arm under his arms the other between his legs approach, then I returned to my car for my drive into work.

That's when it hit me. All along I've been assuming that it's possible to handle everything in my life without getting overly stressed. I've been assuming that there is a way to do it, but that I just haven't figure it out. But, what if it's not possible?

This seems like a really bad realization. Almost like I'm giving up. But it was actually an epiphany. Maybe I'm not failing at managing my stress. Maybe I'm doing the best that I can do. Maybe it really is that stressful being a full time working mom with a high maintenance 3.5 year old. Maybe it's OK to feel this stressed out. Maybe this is just normal, not a failure.

When I got to work I took care of everything that I needed to get done. Then I called to see if I could schedule an eye exam for the afternoon. My plan was to use sick time to cover the appointment. I was going to leave early enough that I could head home and have a nice relaxing lunch before heading in. I realize this plan isn't exactly like scheduling a day at the spa, but it was meant to be a little break to help me chill out.

I think I need to do more small things to treat myself. I also need to stop beating myself up for not always being able to handle things. That simply adds more stress and makes things harder for me.

As for the afternoon off? Well, a dump truck managed to run off the road, knock it's bed off, and wedge the cab in the median of the highway I use to get home. I ended up sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, and then rushing to eat lunch so I could make my appointment on time.

Typical.

I just laughed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This is not the kind of break I was hoping for

Remember that new exercise bike I mentioned in the Fall? The one I was raving about. Yeah, it's broken.

To be fair, I did get a discount off of the floor model, so this doesn't really reflect poor quality as much as it does poor decision making. The good thing is that I refused to purchase it unless they would sell me the warranty as well. When the left pedal started working it's way out of the crank arm Andy and I tried to fix it. The pedal is cross threaded and completely hopeless. So, I called the warranty service and so far the experience has been nothing but positive.

The bike model has been discontinued, so we checked out exercise bikes at a large sporting good's chain (who's name you should not Google from work) in case they can't repair our bike. The more recent model, the Schwinn 140, looks even better than the 130, so I won't be disappointed if I have to get a new bike. The only problem is this process takes several weeks, so for now Andy and I are sharing the Elliptical. This is making it harder to reach my 500 in 2010 goals, but I'll manage.

Our current elliptical is not in the best shape anymore, and we have been talking about replacing that as well. So, while were were looking at bikes, we also checked out ellipticals. Michael wasn't interested in the bikes, but he was really into the ellipticals. He loves ours.


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He hopped right on and went to town. Isn't that cute? The first thing that went through my mind was, dang that kid's leg are long. The second was, how long until we get kicked out of the store for being irresponsible parents.

Surprisingly, we did not get kicked out. A salesman came over and spoke with us while Michael chugged away. I think I'm pretty much sold on a new elliptical at this point. So, even if we don't end up with a new bike, I think it's likely we'll be making a big purchase somewhere around tax refund time.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Really Not Ready For This Yet

Questions. Questions. More Questions. That is what is going on in our house right now. Endless questions. Questions which make we wish we could go back to the simple days of "Why?"

Michael has known the words "dead" and "killed" for a while. His dinosaur infatuation last year made those words unavoidable. But, it's one thing to apply those words to creatures that you don't ever actually see. Dinosaurs are extinct, so they are practically fiction for kids. Even the somewhat adult nature of Walking with Dinosaurs didn't seem to effect him. Until recently.

The other day Michael asked me to put Walking with Dinosaurs on for the first time in about 6 months. I could tell that he was getting more of it than he used to. I was tempted to turn it off, but Michael is so stubborn I decided to distract him at the parts I thought might be most distressing. Michael furrowed his brow a few times, but that was all.

But dinosaurs are not the only problem any more. Before Christmas I bought a few Step Into Reading books about volcanoes and weather. Michael loves them, so I picked up a few more to put under the tree. I included one of the Smithsonian books on volcanoes as well. Michael noticed that there were other books shown on the back of the Smithsonian book and has requested most of them as well. We have a big pile of sciency books that Michael wants us to read to him all of the time. Some of them are clearly beyond his age level, but even the ones that aren't are causing problems. Some of the questions he's asked lately are:

  • "If dust storms cover buildings and farms, what do they do to people?"
  • "What happens to people in floods?"
  • "What do tornado do to people?
  • "Is that man dead?"
  • "What will happen if the dust and ashes catch up to the car?"
To which I mostly answer, "Um...well...BS, BS, BS." My save on the dust storms was the best. I gave him a whole story about dust and grit and scarves. Phew.

I'm fine with the Step 4 books talking about death a little, but really, can we leave it out of the step 1 books. One of these days Michael is going to notice I skip certain sections of the book.

So, maybe I should go with something a little safer than cruel, cold science. How about Pixar? They are all about kids. Right?

Michael's movie at the moment is Up. It's not my favorite kid's movie. I've only watched the beginning once. If I want to cry that much, I'll watch Steel Magnolias, thank you very much. So, here are some of the questions I've gotten thanks to Up.

  • "What happened to the old man's sister (wife)?"
  • "Why is the old man so sad?"
  • "What happened to Mr. Muntz after he dropped through the clouds?"
To which I mostly answer, "Um...well...BS, BS, BS." Thank you Pixar for setting me up for an impossible to answer question. I'm not telling my 3.5 year old that he fell to his death.

I can assure you, the Lion King will not be entering my house any time soon. I can't even imagine the questions that would lead to.

All these questions about death almost make me wish for simple questions like, "Where do babies come from?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Told You So

Back in the fall of 2008 Michael had several ear infections that lead to his need to take antibiotics. It went well at first, but by the last round of "magic pick liquid" he wasn't buying it any more. He refused to take any medication from that point on.

The good news is that he really hasn't needed to take medication since then. However, there have been a few times when taking Motrin would probably take the edge off of a low fever associated with a cold. I've tried explaining to him that medicine will help him feel better, but he refuses. I've also tried to tell him that the orange and grape flavored chewable Motrin is candy, not medicine.

I don't know how, but he always knows when it's really medicine and always refuses it. Because I've only been trying to offer it to treat minor symptoms, I haven't pushed the issue with him. I figured I would wait until it was necessary before fighting that battle.

Upon entering daycare two days a week, Michael has also entered the world of endless colds. Saturday night he had a bad cough. It was making him gag. The gagging was resulting in the need for a bucket and changes in bed linens. There was nothing wrong with his stomach, it was just his throat that was causing the problem.

After about five rounds with the bucket, I finally convinced Michael to take some Motrin to sooth the pain in his throat. I handed him the little purple chewable tablet. He pinched it in his fingers as if it was the most vile thing he's ever touched. Then, he very cautiously put it to his mouth and started to nibble little bits off of it. Seriously, you would think I had handed him poison or something. After several minutes of nibbling, he finally finished it. He then pleaded for some water to wash it down.

It helped him finally fall asleep.

Last night he started with a dry, irritated sounding cough before bed. I knew it was going to lead to a long night, but he refused my initial offer of medicine. After one coughing wake up, he finally gave in again. This time he popped the whole tablet into his mouth and chewed.

"Hey, this tastes like grape!" He exclaimed, like it was a huge surprise. As if I haven't been telling him for a year that it tastes just like candy. As if I've been hiding some wonderful secret from him.

I refrained from saying what I really wanted to say to him, and instead settled for, "I know."

When he woke early in the morning he agreeably took some more of the amazing grape candy that makes people feel better. I guess I've finally sold him on something he could have discovered a year ago if only he wasn't so darned stubborn.

Now, if only I can get him to understand that all that "disgusting" food - like mashed potatoes loaded with butter and cheeseburgers - I keep offering him is really yummy, we would be set.

That kid just doesn't know what he's missing out on.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Phone Photo Friday - Like Father, Like Son

I know that the two of them did not conspire to do this, so it must just be a genetic thing.

On Sunday afternoon I was minding my own business and washing some dishes in the sink when Andy wandered in with my phone. I've long since come to terms with the fact that nothing electronic that enters our house is every truly mine, so I didn't think much of it. Until, of course, I hear the click of the camera.

"Dude. What are you doing with my phone?"

Andy just grinned and handed me my phone.

This is what he had snapped a picture of.

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So, you are probably wondering, how did I get a thank you sticker on my butt? I don't know exactly when that happened, but I do know that the sticker is the one that the cashier at the grocery store gave to Michael. I know Michael had it on his hand when we came into the house. I also vaguely remember Michael patting my tush while I was putting groceries away. Turns out, he was up to no good. Andy wasn't around, so I'm pretty sure he didn't put Michael up to this. I guess Michael just thought it would be funny.

Great, just great.

It's a good thing they are so darn cute, or I might just have to do something about this. I mean really how can I stay mad at these guys for long?



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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random for Random's Sake

It's Wednesday and I'm discombobulated, so it seems like a perfect time for some randomness.

  • Wow, I actually spelled "discombobulated" correctly on the first try!
  • The temperature outside has finally gone over the freezing point for, like the first time in what feels like forever.
  • Sometimes I tend to exaggerate things, like how long it's been below freezing.
  • Last night Michael would not let me leave his room after I put him to bed because the robots were coming to get him. I told him that people make robots, therefore they have to listen to people. All he needs to do is tell them to go away. It was the best I could come up with on short notice. If he does it again, I may give him a tinfoil hat to ward them off.
  • I'm just joking about the tinfoil hat.
  • Mostly.
  • Michael seems to have picked up some things at daycare that I'm not thrilled about. These include a cold, way too much information on Michael Jackson's death, and the phrase, "I'm going to smack your butt." (Based on things I hear people say when I'm out and about, none of these things is all that surprising.)
  • To make up for lost time last night, I did a higher intensity workout for a shorter amount of time then normal.
  • This morning I was reminded that 37 year olds do not recover as quickly as 17 year olds.
  • I have an appointment to get my hair done tonight. My golden "highlights" have gotten carried away so I'm going to try and go with brown and caramel highlights to tone things down.
  • Ironically, this will require that I have a tinfoil mess on my head for about half an hour.
  • I guess that means I'll be safe from robots.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Too Good To Be True?

Today was day three of daycare and, once again, drop off went really well. I was only a little surprised about the good drop offs last week because Michael was in an agreeable mood. However, yesterday he was in major stalling mode. I expected that to impact today's drop off in two ways. First , I expected him to stall. Second, I expected him to be tired and cranky - because he stalled at bedtime - and therefore super emotional when I tried to counter his stalling.

Nope. After telling me that he didn't want to get up I mentioned it was a school day and he hopped out of bed with a smile on his face. He was pleasant while he had breakfast, pleasant while we got him dressed, and even pleasant about getting into his carseat. He ran right into the school and didn't slow down until he heard people talking. At that point he slowed to a walk but greeted the early morning teacher with a polite "good morning".

I'm really happy that he seems to be enjoying school. I hope this trend continues. It makes him much easier to drop him off when he seems to genuinely enjoy going there. That certainly was not the case the last time we had him in daycare. It's such a relief.

Only time will tell if his attitude remains so positive.

Monday, January 11, 2010

500 in 2010

I know most of my readers probably already know that I've joined Laura C's 500 miles in 2010 challenge. I'm not planning on discussing my performance on here on a regular basis, but I did want to do a kick off post about it.

I debated joining the challenge at first because much of my exercise is done on an exercise bike. Laura suggested some conversion factors to convert bike miles into challenge miles, which made the challenge realistic for me. There was some debate over the best conversion factor, and I believe they went with 3.5 bike miles to 1 challenge mile. I'm going with 4 bike miles to 1 challenge mile because it feels like a reasonable comparison based on the way I work out. It may keep me off the top ten list, but it will motivate me more, and that's what I'm looking for.

My goal is to do 500 miles combined on the bike, on the elliptical, walking, or running. I need to average about 10 miles a week to reach my goal. I expect to log between about 10 to 14 miles a week through the rest of the winter. Then I expect to drop down a bit when the weather warms up and I start running again. I want to have a sufficient mileage cushion in place when I start running so I will not be tempted to quit running if I can't make the 10 miles a week. It's just easier to log miles on the bike than on foot.

I'm really looking forward to this challenge. I've been exercising regularly for about 10 years now, and I'm always looking for ways to make it more challenging and more exciting. I really like this goal because it's not based on weight loss - which has other contributing factors (stupid potato chips, pizza, pretzels, red wine...) - it's based on maintaining an exercising routine over an extended period of time. It should also add some fresh motivation to get me going, as I love friendly competition.

(As for a certain pregnant woman who beat me by over 3 miles this week, you are more than 10 years younger than me. As for a certain runner who beat me by about 8 miles...um...well...I got nothing.)

So, if at anytime I start going on about 500 in 2010 now you will at least understand what insanity I'm referring too. For now, I'll just leave you with my metrics for tracking my progress.


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That's probably too small to read easily. Let's just say the blue line is where I am and the pink line is where I'm heading. Ouch.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Phone Photo Friday - The difference between moms and dads

Moms and dads are just different. That doesn't mean that we aren't equally qualified to parent. It just means that we may go about it in somewhat different manners.

For example. It would never cross my mind to buy a 3.5 year old a snow ball maker for Christmas. If someone consulted me about it before purchasing one, I'd suggest that it's not a good idea because I know I would end up being the target of said snowballs.

Andy, on the other hand, saw a snowball maker in the L.L. Bean Catalog and thought it would make a great gift for Michael. Of course, Andy knows that he will end up being one of the ones throwing snowballs at me, so what does he have to lose?

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Here is Michael on Christmas day making snowballs to throw at me. He has decent aim, but his arm isn't very strong, so I didn't mind letting him throw them at my butt. (He also pelted my mother in law a few times too. Tee Hee.)

Andy spent half of the time inside the house watching through the storm door, and the other half throwing snowballs at Michael and I. Michael and I tried hiding behind the CRV, but Andy managed to toss the snowballs so that they would slide over the roof and rain snow down on us. There was much giggling and shouting involved and we were all smiling when it was time to head back in.

Sometimes it's good to let dads lead.

Please remind of this post if THIS ever comes up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Quick Peek at Sweetness

Like many families these days, Andy and I both have complex family situations. Both sets of parents have been divorced for a long time, which always makes for interesting holidays. My parents are pretty good with one another, so they both come to Christmas dinner, but it gets a little more complicated with Andy's parents. His father works shift work, so even if he wanted to come to dinner, most of the time he is scheduled to work on Christmas.

For the most part, I like this. It provides more opportunities for parties and eating yummy food.

This year we got together with Andy's father, his sister, and her husband on New Years day. It was just a small dinner and we exchanged a few gifts. I really enjoyed myself. It's a nice treat to not have to cook.

One thing I didn't expect was that Andy's cousin would be there. She has moved in (her parents are in the middle of a divorce) so obviously she would be there for dinner. If I had known this, I would have gotten her a gift, but it was a bit of a surprise.

I don't know how Michael made the connection, maybe because we talked a lot about Andy's grandmother, but Michael ended up calling Andy's cousin "Grandmania". That's what everyone calls his grandmother. I must confess that it's really funny hearing someone call a 20 year old the equivalent of "grandma". We tried correcting him at first, but it was so funny that we all ended up encouraging him. The poor girl will probably end up stuck with the nick name.

Michael really seemed very aware of "grandmania". Every time she left the room, he would ask where she was going and what she was doing. I thought it was really cute. He doesn't normally pay that much attention to people. I was really impressed with how sweet he was.

What I didn't know, was that he was even sweeter than that. When we got home Andy told me that after we had exchanged gifts, Michael had pulled Andy aside and asked where "grandmania's" gift was. Michael was very upset about the apparent slight, and asked several times for a present to give to her. Not once did he ask about why he didn't get a present from her. When Andy told me that, I think my heart grew three sizes.

So, while on the surface it may seem that Michael is not the most sensitive kid out there, there is hope for him yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daycare - Day 1

It seems that everyone survived Michael's first day at the new Daycare center. I checked on him mid-day and they reported that he was doing well. He started talking about it as soon as I walked in the door last night. As far I can tell, he had a good day. He was energetic when I got home, but he was also well behaved. He didn't try to lick me once all evening.

There were a few hitches. The first was that his pull-up leaked during nap time. Nap? What are naps? Michael claims that he slept during his nap, but I'm not sure if I believe him. He had no problem falling asleep at bedtime and he had a ton of trouble getting up this morning. That tells me that if there was any sleeping involved in his nap, it didn't last long.

The other problem was that I forgot to tell Andy that Michael had Larry, so they came home without her. Andy tried to call me so I could pick her up on the way home, but my phone didn't pick up the call. Poor Andy had to drive back to the center and pick Larry up.

On a similar, but different note, having Andy go back to get Larry was a big deal for me. I tend to always do that kind of stuff. I don't know why, I just do. And that's part of my stress problem. So, when I found out that a Larry rescue mission was in order, my immediate reaction was to turn right around, get back in my car, and get Larry. Andy asked if I wanted him to pick up Larry. I paused for a moment, but decided to accept the offer.

I guess it was a big day for all of us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Un-Resolution

First things first: Michael did great at his first day of drop off. I managed to get out the door without any tears. Michael didn't cry either. He was cute, on the ride over I heard him opening his lunchbox to check and see what I had packed him.

Ok, now on to me.

I'm not a big fan of resolutions, but last year I decided to set a weight loss goal. Which I reached. Yay! And then crashed and burned by gaining back more than I lost. Boo!

I've been exercising and eating responsibly for about 10 years, so I didn't really need to make any changes to stick to my goals. In fact, I did stick to my exercise plan and even started running last year. I'm very proud of that, and I'm excited to start running again when it warms up.

Over the past few weeks I've been looking back to figure out what went wrong. Beyond the obvious problem of eating too much. I needed to figure out why I was eating too much. So, I looked at my exercise and weight tracking for the year and noticed when I started putting on the pounds again. It was in the late summer. Right about the same time that my mom learned that she needed to have surgery. You know, when I had to figure out child care for Michael for an undetermined amount of time. Also, about the same time that I started eating two bags of Synder's sourdough pretzels every day with my lunch (at about 500 calories!)

I've also been reading "Raising Your Spirited Child". As I mentioned yesterday, Michael isn't the easiest kid out there, so I picked up the book hoping to get more ideas on how to motivate Michael while limiting threats and punishments. The premise of the book is that spirited kids have a certain mix of temperamental attributes that can make them challenging. I went through all nine attributes and it identified Michael as a borderline spirited child. Then, it had me go back and see how I rate. Um... It turns out I'm a spirited adult.

Ok, I already knew that, but it was just the reminder that I needed right now. You would think standing in the hallway of my mom's apartment building with tears running down my face would have clued me into how stressed out I was, but I think I was too stressed to deal with it at the time. But, looking back over the past few months I've had to deal with a lot of change; which I hate. My mom was also very stressed out and depressed; which my overly sensitive self was picking up and feeding into my own stress. To add to the problem, I wasn't using Andy or my friends to help me deal with my problems; I was trying to do it by myself. Turns out, I didn't do a very good job.

I considered setting the goal to handle stress better this year, but I decided that would just stress me out, so to try and reach my goal, I'm not setting a goal. To reach this goal that I haven't set for myself, I'm going to need to learn how to handle my spirited self a little better. I have no idea how I'm going to do that. A few things that I've considered are: getting my hair dyed back to close to my natural color so I don't have to do root maintenance, giving up my farm on Farmville, work harder at getting enough sleep, and sucking it up and leaning on my support network when I need to.

I have no idea how well I'll do, but I really do need to make some changes and chill out a little. So wish me luck on my resolution that I refuse to make.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another New Normal

I only set one New Years Resolution last year. It was to lose weight. While I did succeed at losing the weight, I also managed to gain it right back. In fact, I ended the year heavier than I started it. I consider that a fail.

This post is not about this year's resolution. But, it will have a part in the success or failure of it...which I'll get to in another post.

Tomorrow morning, Michael will be starting preschool. I say preschool because it sounds better to him, but it really is full day daycare two days a week.

Right about the time that we were talking about preschool options for Michael in the fall was when I learned that my mom needed to have surgery. The planning for the surgery required a number of additional doctor's appointments and had to be rescheduled a number of times. It was very difficult to try and plan for preschool at the same time, so we put off the decision until my mom's medical issues were resolved. In retrospect, that was not the best way to handle it. The stress of my mom's medical appointments and her recovery from surgery combined with a very spirited 3.5 year old resulted in way too much stress for everyone involved, especially my mom.

We discussed a number of different options for preschool, but what we decided was that to really get the full benefit for everyone a two day a week daycare would be the best option.

This will be a big benefit for my mom. She loves Michael and does a great job with him, however he's not the easiest kid I've ever met. Don't get me wrong. Michael is a good kid. He's funny and interesting. But, he's also persistent, intense, and demanding. He can wear me out, and I'm 30 years younger than my mom. I think three days a week will make it easier for her. Plus, it will allow her to get some much needed rest as well as freeing up time for doctor's appointments.

This will also be a benefit for Andy and I. My mom has needed time off twice to address medical issues, and as she ages it's likely to happen again. This way, we still have the benefit of her care, but we also will have a relationship with the daycare center and can make adjustments on short notice if necessary. That provides me with a good deal of peace of mind.

Most importantly, I think this will be a great opportunity for Michael. In the past few months it's become very obvious that Michael needs to socialize with other kids. He enjoyed his swim classes, but he didn't get much socialization. Being in full day daycare with the same kids should allow him to develop friendships and learn how to interact with kids his own age. I'm also hoping that a little peer pressure might give him the motivation he needs to give up diapers as well.

So, during the holiday break I made some calls looking for a daycare center with a two day a week program. I was really impressed from the beginning with the daycare we selected. I don't have any complaints about the daycare Michael attended last year, but it just never felt right to me.

Michael and I visited the daycare one day last week and I was very happy with what I saw. They have very low turn over with their teachers, the classrooms were big and well organized, and I was able to spend some time with Michael's very enthusiastic teacher as well. Their playground rocks. The most reassuring part was watching Michael as one of his classmates came over and asked him to play. He started our visit clinging to my leg, and by the time we left, I had to pry him away from playing dress up with two other kids.

I'm sure the transition will be a little difficult. We have all had to change our schedules to make this work. (For some reason, daycare centers don't open at 5:30 am). I expect that the first few drop offs will be rough, but I think that given time to adjust, this will turn out to be a positive change. Who knows, maybe Michael will even eat some of the lunch I pack for him.