Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cleaning Out the Closet

Last night my body told me that I needed to take a night off from exercising, so I decided to use the free time to clean out my closet. This is a project that I've been putting off way too long. So long, in fact, that I had 3 different sizes of jeans all stacked together. Yikes!

I had several objectives for cleaning out my closet.

  • Get my summer clothes out
  • Remove clothes that no longer fit
  • Free up some hangers
  • Eliminate the huge piles of pants/sweaters/shorts that keep falling on me
  • Determine if I need to buy some new clothes
I achieved all of my goals, so I'll consider it a success. But there were a few emotional moments during the project.

I frequently go through my closet and get rid of things I don't wear, but I rarely go through and get rid of the beloved articles that may not be suitable to wear in public. This time, I didn't have a "donate" pile. I had a "good-bye" pile. It included one of my favorite over sized T-shirts that I've been sleeping in for about 8 years now. It was a sad parting. But, even harder was adding my last pair of "mom" jeans. They are hideous and too baggy, but they are the most comfortable jeans I've ever owned. I rubbed the worn knees one last time, and gave them the heave ho. I'll miss them, but I'm pretty sure Andy won't.

I also encountered a few items of clothing that I like, but due to age and gravity, I just can't pull off any more. Really, cleaning my closet should not also include the pain of recognizing that some things just aren't so perky anymore. Not even a good bra could save a few of the v-neck tops. Sigh.

As I worked to the end of the closest I came across that skirt. You know, the one article of clothing in your closet that you love dearly but that hasn't fit you in a very long time. The one you pull out and stare at thinking someday I'll be able to wear you again, then you tuck back in and forget about for a year.

I've been working very hard and have lost a decent amount of weight. Enough weight that I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe now that I can fit into tons of stuff. I know how much I weighed the last time that skirt fit, and I'm just about there. So, I pulled it out, undid the hooks, and gave it a try. I held my breath, hoping it would fit. And you know what?

It didn't.

And when I exhaled, it was even worse.

I'm two pounds heavier now than when I bought that skirt, but it's still inches too small around my waist. INCHES ladies. As I looked at my tummy in the mirror I was forced to recognize that age has not only dragged down my boobs, it's also puffed out my middle. OMG, I'm turning into a puffer fish!

I suppose I could have just excepted the changes and added the skirt to my trash pile, but I didn't. I hung it right back up. And I'll try that stupid skirt on again. If it never fits again, so be it, but I'm sure as hell not ready to give up on it yet.

And who knows, maybe by the time it fits again, the silly thing might actually be back in style again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Family of Four?

Hahaha! No. Sorry. No baby news. We simply baby sat for one of our neighbors this weekend.

It's interesting, for as much as our children play together, we have a pretty strong no baby sitting precedent in our neighborhood. In fact, we have an unspoken boundary of the front door that all of the kids seem to intuitively understand and respect. The kids all share bikes, chalk, and Popsicles but the moment one kid runs into their house, the other kids just stop at the door and wait until they return. It was never planned, it just evolved that the door is the neighborhood boundary.

Early last week, Michael was playing with J and M when J's mom asked M's mom if she had gotten a response from a baby sitter. She was disappointed to learn that the baby sitter didn't pan out because she was hoping to use the baby sister so that they could leave J's little brother and take J to see Toy Story. They just wanted to spend a little bit of special time with J, but it didn't look like they would be able to pull it off.

So, I broke the unspoken rule and offered to babysit C while they took J to the movie. It was a little awkward at first, because it sort of changes the dynamic of the neighborhood a little. It certainly breaches the front door rule, and it could possibly cause bad feelings with other neighbors. However, J is such a nice kid and such a wonderful big brother, I really wanted his parents to be able to give him that special trip to the movies all on his own. So I offered. I was very happy that they felt comfortable enough to agree to it.

When it comes to watching someone else's child, we are in a better position to do so than the other neighbors. We are one of the few one child families left, so it's easier for us to handle another child for a few hours. It also helps that for whatever reason, Michael has always been very good with C. He was great with him when C was just a baby and continues to enjoy him now that he's almost 2. I felt pretty sure that we could handle both of them at the same time.

We prepared Michael for it ahead of time. I talked about how we would be watching C and that C would probably want to play with Michael's toys. Michael was very excited for C to come over and spent Saturday morning asking us when he would arrive.

I was a bit concerned about how Michael would handle it once C did arrive, but he had absolutely no problem with C raiding his toy box or joining in with what Michael was doing. They got along great the entire time. C is a very independent little boy, and he made himself right at home. He giggled and played and was a joy to have in the house. It was really very sweet. It was nice to spend some time with C and get to know him better, and it was also nice to see such a kind side of Michael.

As much as I enjoyed the time, I will say that I don't think I'm cut out for more than one child. It's hard having to divide my attention. I'm just not good at managing more than one distraction at one time. The boys didn't have a problem with it, but it was exhausting for me to try and keep my attention on both of them at once. I don't mean engaging them both at once, I'm simply referring to having that mental hook into the general where abouts of each one. Not surprising really. I can't even talk on the phone and drive other. (I mean at all. I really, really can't do it. The few times I've tried the call quickly ends in, "look, I really can't talk. This will have to wait.")

My biggest concern now is that J and C's parents feel that they need to return the favor. They really don't. I didn't do it so they would owe us a favor. Having spent time with both C and Michael, I can easily say that Michael is a little (a lot) more high maintenance the C, and therefore it's not necessarily a fair trade. I guess we'll see if anything comes up when Andy and I could use a little help. It would be interesting to see how he does spending a few hours with J and C.

Little stinker would probably be a perfect angle for them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not This Summer

Every summer I do the exact same thing. I purchase an inflatable kiddie pool for Michael to play in. Every summer I think the exact same thing. This year will be the year that Michael will play while I sit and relax on the deck and read a book.

So, we bought the pool.

We filled it up.

And this is what happened.

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Again


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And again
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And, of course, again

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The entire time this was going on I was expected to take pictures, shoot Michael with the squirt gun, and watch as he did various crazy faces while splashing into the pool.

It was fun. It was silly. It was wet.

But it sure wasn't relaxing.

Maybe next summer?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Having Fun With Mom

Before I gave up on reading parenting books by "experts" it was not uncommon to read that if you tell a child that they are ______ enough times, they will become ________. So, you should never tell a child that they are bad or naughty. Instead, you should tell them that the behavior they are displaying is bad or naughty. This makes sense, so I always make a point to do that with Michael. For example, last night when he ripped one at Barnes & Noble, I told him tooting in public is gross instead of telling him that he is gross.

However, while this is pretty common knowledge now days, it wasn't so big back when my parents were raising my brother, sister and me. My brother's most common label was hyper, my sister's was sneaky, and mine was brat. Oh, if I had a nickle for every time my mom called me a brat...

I believe smart ass took a close second to brat, now that I think of it.

I'm not saying this to criticize my mom. She did a good job with what she knew at the time. We have all grown up into successful adults, so it couldn't have been that bad for us. My mom has also been a wonderful influence on Michael and the help she has provided by doing daycare for him has been a blessing. She really is an awesome mom and grand mom.

As I stated, she's done a lot for us, so when she needed me to pick her up and drive her to the shop to get her car, of course I'm going to do that for her. What kind of child would let her almost 70 year old mom walk half a mile in 95 degree weather? Certainly not me.

When I picked her up, I pulled up to her apartment building and gave her a call to let her know I was there. While I waited for her to come down, I played with my iPhone a bit. I got a little too engrossed in what I was doing and didn't notice when she came out. I felt bad because I could have pulled up for her, but instead she ended up having to walk to my car. Oops.

When she got into the car, I apologized for making her walk.

"Mom, I'm sorry about that. I should have been paying attention. But see, I was checking Twitter and one of my Tweeps had posted that she had just gotten a 113 point word in Words with Friends, but she didn't say who it was against, so I had to head over to Words with Friends to make sure it wasn't me. I totally hate when that happens to me."

My mom was silent for a moment, the said, "You lost me at Twitter."

I giggled and nodded.

I know I lost her at Twitter...that was the intent.

I'd suggest that maybe if she hadn't always called me a brat that I might not do things like that. Seriously, it's all her fault.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moms Say the Funniest Things

I know what you are thinking, it's supposed to be kids say the funniest things. Well, they do. But sometimes parents don't think before they speak either.

On Saturday morning I took Michael to Target so he could pick out a Father's Day gift for Andy. As part of his potty training, Michael had earned a Toy Story Lego kit and Andy and Michael have been having a lot of fun playing with it together. I thought it would be nice if Michael picked out another Toy Story Lego kit to give to Andy as a gift. Michael loved the idea and picked out the remote controll car from the first movie. (Amazingly, it was the cheapest one. That never happens. Unless mommy actually wants the big Train kit and is disappointed that her son doesn't pick it out.)

The problem with this plan was that involved taking Michael into the toy department at Target. Getting him into it is not the problem, getting him out without spending a hundred dollars is. "Oh look mommy, Hot Wheels! Oh, Mr. Potato Head! Oh, Paperoni kits!"

Paperoni? Seriously? It looks like someone constructed a freakish animal out of mini tampons. I'm not buying that. It's going to give me nightmares.

Fortunately, before Michael started in with the hardcore begging for a little brown tampon dog, he noticed the Letter PixO set. Despite his long time love of dinosaurs and new found passion for bugs, letters are still Michael's favorite thing in the whole world. He saw the Letter PixOs and locked right in. Knowing I had already lost the battle, I agreed to buy them if we could head right to the checkout.

As soon as we got home, it was PixO time. I hadn't even kicked my shoes off before he was begging for the PixO kit. I dug it out of the bag, found an old egg carton, and separated the PiXos out by color. Then, we started making letters.

PixOs are really neat, but they really do push the limits of a 4 year old's fine motor skills. Michael was able to use tweezers (the suction thingy in the kit was too hard to use) but getting them into the correct hole on the grid was very difficult for Michael. In fact, it was difficult for me. We ended up sitting next to each other with me holding the bead tray over the letter template while Michael dropped PixOs all over the place, and occasionally into the PixO grid. I wouldn't call what we were doing fun, but Michael is crazy for letters, so he kept plugging away on the letters in his name.

By the time we got to "A" Michael had been working for a while. I was tired from keeping PixOs off the floor, holding the template in place, sorting out different colors because somewhere along the line Michael dumped all of them into a single bowl, pushing errant PixOs back into the proper hole when Michael would hit it with the tweezers...You know what I mean.

At one point, Mister "I can do it myself" noticed I was fixing one of his beads and complained that he didn't need my help.

"Michael, you dropped one into the "A" hole and I'm just trying to get it out for you."

Andy, who was sitting across the room burst out laughing. Michael and I both looked at him like he was insane until I realized what I had just said. Then, Michel got to look at both of us like we were insane because I REFUSED to explain what was so funny.

Oops.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paddle Boat Backfire

On Saturday morning Andy and I discussed what we needed to get done in the house. After debating and considering, we decided to blow it all off and head up to Peace Valley park for the afternoon. Hey, it's not like the laundry was going to wander away or anything.

The park is really nice. It surrounds a lake and includes a lot of trails and boat rentals. We discovered the park the summer I got pregnant, so even though we visit at least once a summer, we have never rented a boat.

This year we knew that Michael would want to go on a paddle boat the moment he saw one, so we were prepared for the possibility. He did not disappoint, and rushed right up to the dock the instant he saw the boats. Personally, I would prefer to rent a canoe over a paddle boat, but they are too prone to tipping, so Andy overruled me as he doesn't swim. I can see his point.

We decided to rent a paddle boat for 30 minutes, put on our life vests and headed out onto the dock. We loaded onto the paddle boat with Michael sitting in between the two of us where the rudder control was. Michael was thrilled!

I'm not an experienced boater, but I have spent a decent amount of time in canoes and kayaks. I know that you need to be careful of both wind and water currents because it really sucks to go too far and then turn into the wind and realize just how hard it is to get back. Trust me, I've done it before. So, I checked the wind and the ripples on the water and we headed off in the "hard" direction first.

Michael enjoyed himself, but on our way out we discovered a few problems. The first problem was that the pedals were too close for comfort. I ride the exercise bike all the time, but because my legs were bent so far, it was much harder than I'm used to.

The other problem was that Michael wanted to steer. And by steer I mean yank the rudder control back and forth and frustrate mommy and daddy beyond belief. We kept getting him to stop only to have him jam his toes under the control, preventing Andy from steering the boat at all. We were frustrated, but did our best to hide it because Michael was having fun.

It's a good thing I pointed us into the wind so at least our trip back would be easy. After 20 minutes we decided to turn around and head back in. Between the work of peddling out into the lake, and the heat from wearing life vests, we were already hot and tired.

Andy took the rudder and turned us toward the dock and we started to peddle. We didn't move. We peddled harder. Still, we didn't move. We put everything we had into it, and OMG, we weren't moving. Some how, despite the wind at our backs and the appearance of the water, we were going against a very strong current.

And we had 10 minutes to go the distance that it took us 20 minutes to travel.

Um...oops?

We could see that the people along the shore were not having the same problem that we were, so we decided to head to the shore and then work our way to the dock. We peddled and peddled and peddled. That's when I realized just how hot the sun feels when you are out on open water. (That's a lesson I've "learned" before as well.) We worked and worked and worked as we kept our eye on the shore. All I could think was just how embarrassing it would be if they had to come and rescue us.

To make matters worse, Michael really wanted to steer the boat. No, let me rephrase that, Michael wanted to steer the boat with a passion. It was as if his whole life depended on him being able to steer that boat. We had been pretty understanding of it on the way out, but now that we were peddling away, we couldn't afford to deal with him yanking the rudder around creating even more resistance for us.

So, we chugged away at the peddles and got increasingly snippy with Michael as we watched the shore from a distance. Finally, after working hard to come in, we started making a little headway. Not much, but at least we could see that we were getting closer to the dock.

My legs started to burn, but I was afraid to rest in case we started to drift backwards.

Andy fought Michael for control of the rudder.

Most of all, we peddled and peddled and peddled.

Finally, dripping sweat and exhausted, we pulled up to the dock. The young man working the dock tied us up and we heaved a sigh of relief at finally being able to stop peddling. It felt so good to peel of that hot life vest. We headed back onto land to return the vests and pick up the security deposit.

Michael immediately insisted we go again. He was also a little startled by how quickly we both said "NO!" We didn't have the energy for it, but we did promise to do it the next time we come to the park. I'm thinking we'll shell out the extra 5 bucks for an hour next time, and I'm going to let Andy pick the direction so at least if we have a hard time, it's not my fault.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Randomness!

I've actually had coherent posts planned out for this week, so I'd like to take a break from that and throw up some randomness. Some things just don't fit into a full blog post, but I want to share them anyway. So here goes:

  • I've mentioned my learning disabilities before. I'm lucky in that spell check can compensate for most of my weaknesses, so they aren't that noticeable. Those who follow me on Twitter have a good idea of my limitations. The more distracted or stressed I am, the more errors I make. Normally it's misspellings or reversed letters. This week, my brain has been doing something really weird. I'm actually typing entirely wrong words, like "this" instead of "the". Very odd. Even odder, I've spelled all the words right. (Ha, I just typed "on" instead of "all".)
  • I've been tracking my calories on the Lose it app on my iPhone. On Saturday, we went to dinner at Panera. Michael ordered the Shells and cheese, which is super yummy. He didn't eat it all, so I finished it off. When it came time to enter it into my iPhone I caught myself trying to say that I only ate a few bites of it, instead of half the bowl. How bad is it that I was lying to my iPhone?
  • Growing up, my mom had this habit of patting my hiney all the time. It drove me crazy and I finally made her stop. Now that I have my own kid's hiney to pat, I totally get it and pat Michael's hiney all the time. The other day we were talking about what a big boy Michael is and I told him I'll be sad when I can't pat his hiney any more. In the sweetest voice ever, Michael said, "Mommy, when I grow up you can still pat my hiney." I melted.
  • We all know that whatever he says now, my hiney patting days will come to an end all too soon.
  • I'm not the most outgoing person in the world, and I'm not always comfortable making eye contact with strangers. However, I know that making eye contact while out running helps to increase my saftey so I've really been workin on it recently. I've started to see some of the same people on multiple runs, and I'm really impressed with the diversity of people out running. How awesome is it that I see teenagers and baby boomers all on the same run?
  • Speaking of running. Yesterday I posted that I need to find a 5K to run in. This morning, Andy sent me a link to the perfect 5K for me. It's in July (on a Saturday morning of course) and guess where it is? My park! Even my favorite loop and hills. Sign me up!
  • When Michael is older, if he ever gets mouthy with me when friends are over, you know what I'm going to do? Pat his hiney in front of his friends.
  • Being a mom is awesome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

500 in 2010 Update

I suppose I could do this as a wordless Wednesday post and show this:


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But I think I've demonstrated my complete inability to do a post without words on many occasions, so I won't even try. The blue line is my goal. The pink line is my actual performance. The year is almost half over, and I'm 63% complete. If this was a work project, that would mean a good review. Since this is a life project, it means my pants fit a little better. I like that.

I'm really enjoying the 500 miles in 2010 challenge. It's been an excellent motivation to change up my workout routine and to stick with the harder aspects of it. I think it's fair to say that with the addition of interval training on the exercise bike, running, and some rowing; I'm in better shape today than I've been in for a long, long time. In fact, I probably haven't been this fit since 8th grade when I was still playing basketball. That means that at almost 40, I'm fitter than I was at 15. I'm proud to be able to say that.

Running is going well. I had some trouble with acclimating to the hot weather, but I've worked my way back up over three miles per run. I'm going to start looking for a 5K to run in the near future, so I can get the feel of a race before doing Warrior Dash. Many of them are held early on Saturday mornings, which makes a lot of sense, but giving up my one sleep-in day is proving difficult.

Of course, Warrior Dash isn't just a foot race. It's also an obstacle course. Now that I can do the miles I need to start training for the obstacles as well. I've considered several ways to do this, and one of them is very ironic.

Back in high school my evil gym teachers came up with a diabolical workout for us. They called it the circuit, and we hated it. It involved running a course around the school property, and at different stations we would have to stop and do some kind of exercise. They made us run this thing several times a week for a few months each year, and every year I cursed them for torturing us. I mean really, how sadistic do you have to be to put people through that kind of workout?

So, as I was thinking about ways to prep for Warrior Dash it occurred to me that maybe I should stop periodically throughout the run and do an exercise similar to the different obstacles I'll be facing. Of all the ideas I came up with, that was clearly the best one. I mean really, it's perfect for preparing for Warrior Dash. Perfect. Even if it exactly like the circuit my evil gym teachers made me do. I guess that means I'm either a masochist or my gym teachers were actually right. Neither is all that attractive, but both are probably partly correct.

Aside from motivating myself to do something I used to hate to do, the other problem I am having is with my calves. Shin splints suck. I never dealt with them in high school, so I never understood the problem when other girls complained about them. I get it now. It doesn't help that I also have a muscle in my right leg that likes to cramp for no reason. I've nicknamed it "Charlie" in honor of all the Charlie Horses it's given me over the years. I think it's the result of damage I did to my shin in a car accident when I was 17, so I just try to stretch it as much as possible and suck it up when it starts twitching. As long as it stays at the annoying but only a little painful level, I'll be OK.

I could probably go on and on about this, but I'll keep it short so as not to bore everyone to death, assuming anyone is still reading. There is one funny thing that has happened with 500 in 2010. I have a phantom competitor. Every so often, Andy drops a comment about how many miles he's gotten in. I keep suggesting that he sigh up for the challenge with the rest of us, but he refuses. "I don't have time to get those miles in. I don't want to make a commitment to it."

Yet, halfway through the year he's still beating me by a few miles.

I'd tease him about it, but I think it's great that he's exercising so much and I don't want to discourage him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Potty Training

I have good news to report. Today was the first day that Michael went to school without a pull-up on. We have been working hard on potty training since our return from Disney World. First we used a sticker chart to get him to stop being stubborn about peeing in the potty. It worked. Next, we used a sticker chart to get him to stop being stubborn about poohing in the potty. It worked. Encouraged by the results, I spoke with his teacher, who confirmed that he was staying dry in his pull-ups, and we decided to go for it. This morning I changed out his backup clothes from winter to summer and delivered some spare pairs of dinosaur underwear to school.

It's going to be a real challenge for him today. In addition to starting water play today, which will be exciting and distracting, the summer program has also started. There will be at least four new kids in his class today. I hope he can handle the added stress on top of having to make sure he has no accidents. I'm interested to find out how things go.

On the other side of things, Michael has had several suspicious accidents in the past week. The first one I didn't even know about at first. I got Michael up, carried him down stairs and changed him, so I know his pull-up was not full, nor where his sleep shorts wet. However, that evening when I went up to his room, I noticed a smell. I checked his bed, and sure enough, there was a dried spot on his sheets. Odd.

On Sunday morning Michael woke at 6:00 am. I went in and asked him for ten more minutes. (Sometimes he falls back to sleep. Can you blame me?) He called me in at 6:09 and he had wet the bed. Once again, the pull-up was fine. I had checked the night before and I knew that everything was tucked properly, so the accident was very curious.

This morning, he had an accident in the living room while wearing a pull-up as well. A mostly dry pull-up. And in light of recent events, I'm positive that everything was positioned properly in the pull-up. At this point, the only curious thing about this is why he's intentionally peeing out the side of his pull-up.

I have no idea what he's trying to do here. Is it for attention? I've been very low key about it. I get him changed, and then go right back to whatever I was doing. This morning I cleaned him up quickly, and then turned to clean the sofa cushion with the Bissle hand held. He hates the sound of that, so I'm hoping he didn't find any of the process rewarding.

So, on one side of things, he's doing better than ever with potty training. I'm feeling pretty confident that I won't be sending him to college in diapers. On the other side of things, he's intentionally peeing on things when I'm not around. I'm not sure how to handle it, all I know is that I don't want to make it worse. Do you think spraying him on the nose with a squirt bottle will work?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Icky: Good or Bad?

I'm a girl (woman, whatever) so the word "icky" has a fairly clear meaning for me. Anything icky is something I don't want to be near. It most likely will make my skin crawl, make me squeal and shriek, and cause my heart to race. Chances are, it will have more than four legs and will crunch when squished. I avoid things that are "icky".

Maria, who is the mother of three wonderful daughters, seems to know something that I am quickly learning. "Icky" does not mean the same thing to boys as it does to girls. She was at a book fair and saw some books that she thought Michael might like so she kindly picked them up and sent them to him. She nailed it with every single book. We have been reading Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp and How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? since they arrived. But, the real hit is the Icky Bug Alphabet Book.

Michael loves the Icky Bug bog. LOVES IT. He had me read it three times in a row the night it arrived. He's working on memorizing every bug in the book, and is upset that they couldn't find a bug that started with "X". I should probably Google it to see if I can find one because I suspect this isn't going to end any time soon. He even took the book to my Mom's this morning and showed her the book.

On Friday, J and M were out playing when we got home, and Michael insisted on bringing the Icky Bug book out to share with them. J, is a little boy who is just a few days older than Michael. M, is a little girl who is several months younger. They both joined Michael and I on my front steps so I could read them the book. J and Michael loved it. M, not so much. I could tell she wasn't enjoying the book, so I tried to speed past earwigs to get to the butterflies, but the boys wanted me to linger.

That's when J noticed that there were bees buzzing around the lavender plant at our feet. I had already shown he and Michael the pouches of pollen on the bees' hind legs, so I knew the boys were into watching the bees. So, I glanced at M. She was done sitting there politely as I read the book. She scooted away from the plant as her face crumpled into tears. I scooped her up and whisked her past the evil little insects and into her daddy's arms where she was safe.

It turns out that icky means something different to girls and boys. Personally, I think I side with M when it comes to icky bugs. Butterflies and dragon flies are very pretty, but you can keep your earwigs to yourself.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The New Kid in Town

I have mentioned how cool and kid friendly our neighborhood is before, and once again, it is great having so many kids living so close together. This year has been even better because the kids now play together and us poor, exhausted parents can hang around and chat instead of chase, moderate, and remove. It's fascinating to see the changes in the kids behavior as they grow and as younger ones join it.

Often, when the kids are out in a group, one parent will heard the kids while the rest of us relax and keep an eye out in case assistance is needed. (Watching Andy with the 20 month olds is very dangerous to my hormones.) We all take our turns, so no one parent ends up doing all the work.

Well, we have a new kid in town. One of our neighbors has wanted a Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever for a long time. After much research he finally fulfilled his dreams and brought home Sota, an adorable little puppy with white feet.

Yes, I'm calling his dog a kid. Trust me on this one. Sota is clearly his first child and is being treated as such. His daddy brings him out frequently for house training, ball throwing, swimming; you name it, they do it. (Yes, he has a baby pool for the puppy. And yes, Michael did end up in the dog's pool, but to his credit he managed to resist for a good 15 minutes.)

Of course, if you bring a puppy around kids, the kids are going to flock to the puppy, and that's just what our kids are doing. Like typical kids, the first time they go over they giggle and run around, but the newness of the situation limits their staying power. However, after the 10th visit, the kids will push Sota and his daddy for all they can get out of them.

Last week J, M and Michael were out playing when Sota came out. The kids ran over and started to play with him. We all sat down on the curb and started to chat. And Chat. And Chat. In fact, we were having a good old time. The kids played, but Sota needed to take a potty break, so all three kids climbed up into the camp chair that Sota's daddy had set out for himself and made themselves right at home. When Sota came back, the kids took turns sitting in the poor dad's seat and throwing the ball for Sota.

After at least a half hour of this, J's mom finally called over to Sota's dad and said that since he had everything under control, we were going to take off and that our husbands would be over to get the kids at some point. After laughing, we did check to make sure he didn't mind our children swarming his yard and taking over his seat. He smiled and assured us it was OK. I think he's happy that so many people are enjoying what a nice dog Sota is.

I'll bet he never expected to end up as one of the neighborhood parents when he brought Sota home, but he seems to be enjoying it, even if his child is a little on the furry side.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Whisper Down the Line

Disclaimer: This post relates to a news story that was presented on last night's local news. The event was a school bus driver driving her bus while drunk. There is nothing funny about this. I am vehemently against drinking and driving (as the guy I physically restrained from getting into his car drunk back in college will attest.) The irreverent attitude displayed in this post is the result of abysmal reporting on such a serious matter.

After dinner last night we spent a little time goofing around in the living room with the Local News on in the background. The quality of the reporting was so bad that we had trouble following the story. The first thing we heard was that a bus driver from Brookhaven was arrested for drinking and driving. Andy grew up in that town, and I lived there for a few years, so we both responded, "Of course she was from Brook Haven!"

Next, they mentioned that her blood alcohol level was 19 times over the legal limit for bus drivers. Andy suggested at anything over 0.0 is too high, so 1 times or 19 times is really irrelevant. Of course, at this point they still haven't made it clear if she was even driving a school bus at the time, so we weren't sure how serious the issue was. I mean really, how bad is a report like this if you don't even know if a school bus was involved?

They finally mentioned that yes, she was driving a bus. Andy and I were talking at the TV wondering if their were any children on board. You know, that might be a slightly important aspect of the story and they might want to get around to that detail sooner rather than later.

Finally, they get around to saying, "Once the bus was pulled over, one student emerged from the bus shaken, but not..." Andy and I were already poking fun at the horrible reporting so the word "stirred" flowed naturally from each of our mouths. I guess James Bond really has become part of the American psyche. We got a giggle out of Jinxing ourselves while being relieved that the real statement was "shaken, but not harmed."

I know, cheesy. You probably had to be there.

What was funny is that Michael misheard what we had said, but our laughter encouraged him to join in. So the next thing we know, Michael is walking around shaking his hands and singing, "I'm shaking the mustard, I'm shaking the mustard." Andy and I busted up, which just encouraged the new song and dance on.

So, that is how a drunk driving bus driver lead to the new "shaking the mustard" dance craze.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Snap To It! Status Report

It's been about two weeks since we started operation Snap To It! and I wanted to give a update on how it's going.

While I was reading Raising Your Spirited Child I came across an idea that really smacked me in the face. The author talks about picking your battles and enforcing some rules and not others. The problem is finding the balance between too much control and not enough. Because every child is different, there is no simple answer. Instead, what she suggests is that you know you are being too lenient when you start to resent your child's behavior.

I was definitely at the point were I was resenting some of Michael's behavior. Specifically, the bedtime stalling. Some nights were super easy and bedtime was enjoyable. Some nights were so hard that bedtime was consuming up to two hours of my evening. It was so bad some nights that I would end up in tears because I couldn't stand it anymore. I was so tired, so stressed out, so behind on everything, and I was letting Michael call me back into room multiple times after lights out. I was driving me mad.

The bedtime battles are not completely gone, but things have certainly improved over the past two weeks. If Michael starts pre-light lights out, Michael is warned that he's going to lose story time. So far, I haven't had to follow through. His biggest pre-lights out stall tactic is that he wants me to help brush his teeth instead of Andy. He pulls it almost every night, but we don't let it get beyond a simple complaint.

The biggest problem remaining is on the two days he goes to school. Those are the days that he naps and can't fall asleep at his normal bedtime. I think he also feels some anxiety about school, and it also gets him worked out at bedtime. So, those are the two nights that we have post-lights out call backs.

Prior to this winter, that was never a sleep issue, so Andy and I had never worked out a plan for handling post-lights out call backs. The only reason they got started to begin with was fear of Michael throwing up in bed. But, once they got started, they turned into a way for Michael to get extra mommy time. MOMMY time being the key.

So, on the occasional night when he starts with call backs, daddy handles them in a nice, efficient daddy manner. Funny, when Andy handles them, Michael rarely calls Andy back in after the first visit. That works for me.

So, bedtime is going much better. We aren't at 100% yet, but the 95% is enough to eliminate all of the resentment I've been feeling. It's also letting me exercise more and get more done around the house. It's a much needed change.

I must say that I do love some of the excuses I've heard Michael give Andy for his call backs. Last night Andy walked in and asked Michael what was wrong and Michael responded, "I'm confused."

I couldn't hear the rest of their conversation, but I got a giggle musing over just what could be so confusing about going to bed that Michael needed clarification. Who knew falling asleep was that complex!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Bermuda Triangle

There is an interesting little "island" of property about a mile from my house. It's formed by three roads, two of which merge together in a fairly sharp point. A dinner, a CVS, a beer distributor and a Burger King all sit on this little plot of land. Even though they are all clean, well run business, I almost never go to any of them. The CVS parking lot is a nightmare, I'm way too young for the dinner, and I can't buy beer by the case or I drink it by the case. However, there is nothing wrong with the Burger King.

In fact, it's one of the nicest Burger Kings I've ever been to. It's very large and clean. The staff is polite and competent. They have free WiFi. And they have a very nice indoor playground. It's perfect, right?

Well, no. It's the playground that's the problem. That's not fair, it's Michael that is the problem. Whenever we go, Michael always manages to coerce me to climb in it. It's one of those modular thingies that is a little to tight for an adult to play in comfortably. I hate climbing in it. I mean HATE it. I'm a fairly indulgent mom, but I hate that thing so much that I find every excuse possible to avoid it.

On Saturday morning, Michael asked if we could go to the BK playground. It came out of nowhere and I my first reaction was to say no. But, in light of our recent campaign of going to bed without stalling, sitting at the dinner table, and otherwise being a civilized human being I decided that this would be a good opportunity to set boundaries for Michael and to stick to them. It would be a learning experience.

We decided to make it a lunch event so Andy joined Michael and I. On the way over I explained to Michael that I would not be climbing on the playground. Period. Once I explained to Michael that I'm too big to play in it, he agreed to my condition.

We ordered our food and sat down to eat before going into the play room. The idea was to try and get Michael to eat before playing. (I was so committed to this that I didn't even order food for myself knowing that I was going to end up eating Michael's food.)

Two things happened while we were eating. 1) I realized that I hadn't switched from my purse to my diaper bag. You know, the one that contains a change of clothes for a potty training child. 2) Andy started to experience tummy problems. Have I mentioned that Andy is not very comfortable with public restrooms before? (Really, really not comfortable with them.)

We should have just left, but since we ate first, Michael hadn't had a chance to play at all. How could I make him leave before he even got to go down the slide? Andy decided to give it a try so we let Michael into the play room. He took off his shoes and climbed right up.

Of course, Andy realized he wasn't going to make it. Instead of getting Michael to leave, we decided that Andy would take the car and I would stay with Michael. When Andy returned, he would bring the diaper bag. No problem. Kill two birds with one stone.

No sooner had Andy left than Michael decided he was scared and started begging me to come and get him.

Sigh.

So, I fought that battle. It took about five minutes and the almost in tears face, but when Michael realized I wasn't going to cave, he gave up and decided to have fun on his own. It was a very rewarding moment. Not long after, a girl came in and she played with Michael.

He was so proud the first time he went down the slide. He was beaming as he came over to let me know. I gave him a high-5, reminded him to tell me if he needed the potty, and then watched as he jumped right back on.

Parenting gold.

I sat back and played with my iPhone while Michael romped on the playground and Andy did...well, you know.

Hmm...where is Andy? It's been a while. I hope he's OK. Eh, he'll be back soon. I'm just glad Michael is having fun.

"Mommy?"

"Yes?"

"I forgot to go potty."

I glanced down. Sure enough. He forgot to go potty. How, I have no idea. I only reminded him a minimum of 10 times.

So, here's my question. What do you do when you are trapped at the BK playground without a car or a change of clothes, and your kid has soaked himself to his socks?

Obviously, you can't let your kid go back on the playground. Heading to the bathroom and waiting until the spare clothes show up doesn't sound all that great either. I considered standing outside the BK to wait, but I was pretty sure Michael would freak out in about 30 seconds.

"Here Michael, why don't you stand right there and drink some chocolate milk?"

I had already texted Andy to find out when he would be back, but he didn't respond. I considered that he might be on the way back, but we live so close that after waiting 5 minutes I started to freak. I decided to call him.

I have no idea what was going on back at home. That involves details I don't need or want to know. I'm just really glad that he answered. After making it very clear how badly I needed the bag, he assured me he would be right there. I just needed to keep Michael still until then.

Thank goodness, Michael was in a good mood. I managed to distract him long enough for Andy to show up with the clothes. I whisked him off to the restroom and got him cleaned up, then returned him to the playroom for some more fun.

Michael played.

Andy relaxed.

Me, I just jiggled my leg nervously as I vowed to never leave the house again without the diaper bag.

And, to never head back to the Burger King at the Bermuda Triangle of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Secret to My Success

I was thrilled with how well Michael handled our trip to Disney. We pushed him hard with new experiences and long days and he did great. But I had a little help. Meet T-Rex.

Photobucket

T-Rex is a rubber hand puppet that Michael bought after we exited the super scary Dinosaur! ride. It more than made up for the traumatic experience. Michael quickly fell in love with T-Rex.

I spent a lot of time at Disney with my hand in T-Rex. Michael loved to talk with the puppet and frequently requested that T-Rex come out of my back pack. The puppet went to all four parks with us and had about as much fun as Michael did. T-Rex has been on water rides, roller coasters, and the spinning/flying rides.

The awesome thing about T-Rex is that it was able to occupy Michael when we were waiting in long lines. I'd get the puppet out, slide it on, and then it would chat with Michael. Michael's favorite game was for T-Rex to try and roar, but I'd make some other animal noise instead. This cracked Michael up every single time I did it. It was such a good joke that I even had Michael and our neighbor M giggling hysterically with it last night. You would think it would get old after the hundredth "meow" , but nope, it doesn't.

In addition to keeping Michael occupied, Michael was much more compliant with T-Rex than he was with Andy or I. Any time I could see him tipping into the "NO!" zone, I'd pull out T-Rex and let the puppet do the asking. Obviously he knew that it was me that was talking for T-Rex, but I guess having the puppet as an intermediary helped him by-pass his contrary nature.

I also ended up with some personal entertainment thanks to T-Rex. They do bag searches at Disney, and every time a guard looked into my bag, they were greeted with a big toothy dinosaur mouth. It earned a comment at every bag search.

The best comment the T-Rex earned was on the jungle river ride at the Magic Kingdom. We all piled onto the boat, and the young man operating the ride started into his river pilot performance. At one point he asked for a show of hands, and without thinking I held up the arm with T-Rex. Next thing we hear over the speaker is, "Holy crap, that dinosaur scared me!" That is so not Disney friendly language. It was awesome!

There was one drawback to T-Rex (well, other than all the weird looks I got, but I'm used to that by now). As I said, T-Rex is made of rubber. T-Rex has no ventilation. It was in the upper 80's all week. Can you say Dinosaur flop sweat?

It was gross.

And uncomfortable.

And totally worth it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vacation is Over, Now Snap To It!

Looking back over the last 5-8 months, I'm really glad that I did not set a goal to reduce my stress levels in 2010. I know I would have failed miserably. It's not that anything major happened. It's just all the little things that kept popping up that pushed me to my limits. The endless colds, the month of hives, Michael's transition into part time daycare, my transition to a new schedule, the new traffic patterns on my ride into work. It was like a never ending stream of chaos being forced on my life, and for someone who thrives on routine, it really wore me down.

So, I let a few things slide here and there. Bathrooms may not have been cleaned as often as normal, I may have missed an oil change or two, it's even possible that my caffiene levels where significantly higher than I'd like to admit. But, you do what you have to do to get by.

I'm a fairly indulgent parent. You can blame it on Michael being an only child, or that I'm older, or that I'm lazy. Personally, I think it's just part of my personality and that I got it from my father - who would be shocked to see me call him indulgent. But, he was. If I had a dime for every time I managed to cry my way out of doing the dishes, I could buy a dishwasher with the money.

Add stress and a sick kid on top of my already indulgent tendencies, and the result is not pretty. I stopped forcing Michael to sit at the table while we ate dinner. I stopped fighting the endless battles over toys and cookies in the grocery store. I gave in to all of the cries to "wait 10 minutes in the hall" while Michael tried to fall asleep. I focused my energy on the things that I really needed to fight, and let the rest slide. I knew I was creating bad habits, but I was OK with that. Bad habits can be broken.

When we got back from Florida, I knew that Michael's sleep would be screwed up, so we decided to bite the bullet and try to correct all of the sleep problems. The endless stalling, the requests for more books, the frequent calls for me to come back into his room. It was time to bring them all to an end. I put my foot down, explained what bedtime was going to be like, and told Michael the consequences of not following the routine.

Then we listened to him cry for close to an hour. He finally settled for having Andy run in to tuck him in and then he was out for the night. The next night was wonderful. He's tried some of the stalling tricks, but now when I tell him he'll go to bed without stories he believes me and doesn't push.

But that's not the only change. Potty training, which had stalled, is back on in full force. He's so close, we just need to be consistent and wrap things up. Also, it's a house rule that we all eat dinner at the table as a family. Oh yeah, and that not listening thing...I don't think so.

It's been interesting watching Michael adjust to the changes we have made. These things aren't new, they just haven't been enforced in a while. He's working very hard at finding ways to stall and resist. It hasn't been pretty at times. But we are making some headway. There were a few nights where I was even able to kiss him good night a walk out of the room without hearing another peep all night.

Yesterday was Michael's first day back at school, and it was also our worst day since returning from Florida last Thursday. He fought every little thing. I offered him dino nuggets for dinner. He wanted a sandwich. I made him the sandwich and he didn't want to eat it. Then, he wanted to watch TV while eating it. Then he didn't want it cut into dinosaur shapes...And then, and then and then up until bedtime. He started pulling all the bedtime stalling crap again to, which resulted in tears and a tantrum. It was like all of the work that we had done for the past five days disappeared.

It pretty much sucked.

We stuck with it, and will keep sticking with it. I think the pediatrician was out of line with a lot of the things she said to me at Michael's appointment, and the manner in which she said them didn't help. But I do agree that things had gone too far, and that we need to be firmer and more consistant with Michael. (To his credit, Andy has been saying for months. I was just too worn down to do it.) So, the vacation is over. For both Michael and myself.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Disney Was Great, and a Little Scary

Our trip to Disney was a success! Andy made a great call when he decided we should only head down for five days instead of a full week. We didn't get to do as much, but the time we did spend there was very enjoyable, with only one meltdown in a park.

We flew down Sunday morning. I was really impressed with how well Michael did on the plane. I had been prepping him with books and stories before hand, so he had an idea what to expect. I also think hauling his car seat onto the plane was beneficial as well. He's already conditioned to sit still in it, so riding on the plan felt just like riding in the car.

Once we got to Florida, we checked into our cabin at Fort Wilderness and headed for the Hollywood Studios park. It was packed. Turns out that the park is very busy during the Star Wars weekends they have each spring. Yes, we went to the Star Wars weekend. No, it was not by accident. Yes, I am a geek. But you knew that already.

Michael loved the park. We went on several rides and he did great. I was really impressed with how well he held up on so little sleep.

Monday we hit the Animal Kingdom. It became clear pretty quickly that when it comes to amusement parks, Michael takes after me. He likes rides that spin and dislikes rides that drop. Like me, he loved the Animal Kingdom and could have spent much longer there.

But, we did make a mistake first thing at the Animal Kingdom. We took Michael on Dinosaur! We had never been on it before, so we didn't know how scary it was. We should have known it was scary by the warnings they had posted, but we were too busy trying to convince Michael it wasn't scary to notice them. Oops.

It was very scary, and it ruined Michael for anything dark after that. Of course, we also took him on Splash Mountain the next morning and that did a good job of freaking him out as well. Don't worry, we didn't try any other scary rides after that. Not even the Haunted Mansion, which Andy loves.

If you think about it though, Disney has always been a little scary. Even though the movies have happy endings, most of them do involve some heavy stuff at some point in the movie. And it's not just the old ones, like Bambi's mom getting killed in a fire. The Lion King and Nemo aren't all nicey, nicey either. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that some 4 year olds might find some of the rides and shows scary.

Aside from a few scary moments, we really did have some magic moments. I'll never forget the look of pure glee on Michael's face as we whipped around on the tea cups, or his awe at seeing the fireworks show over the castle in the Magic Kingdom. He was really impressed by meeting Mickey and Minnie, even though he clinged to me through the entire encounter.

On our last day, we debated whether we should hit Epcot, or head back to the Animal Kingdom so Michael could visit DinoLand again. In the end, we decided to hit Epcot and if it was too boring for Michael, we would leave early for the Animal Kingdom.

Michael loved Epcot. He got to participate in a fake gameshow in the innoventions pavilion. Who knew velcro could be so fun? He loved playing with the foutains outside the Imagination ride. (One of my favorite places in the parks too. I still love playing with the jumping water. ) And, he loved Test Track.

Yes, we took him on Test Track. We explained the ride too him before hand and let him decide if he wanted to go on it. He decided to try it out and started begging to go again as soon as we got off. He liked it so much that he was willing to wait in line for 40 minutes to go on it again.

Yes, my four year old liked a ride so much he waited for 40 minutes to go on it again. That, my friends, is true Disney Magic.

We ended up spending the entire day at Epcot and poor Andy had to deal with the fact that he's now out numbered by the Animal Kingdom/Epcot lovers in the family. Michael and I are perfect Disney companions.

We did have one meltdown in the parks. It was over a .51 cent pressed penny. I don't know why I picked that battle to fight when I was practically throwing money at the Disney enterprise, but once I put my foot down, I realized I needed to stick with it. So, we ended up carrying Michael off kicking and screaming instead of giving in and getting him another squished penny.

Even with that one little incident, I'd call the trip a success.

Michael was a real trooper through the entire trip. We spent long days in the parks and by all rights he should have had more meltdowns than he did. It was such a treat to spend four days with so few battles and so little crying. Even the nights at the cabin were simple. He fell asleep quickly and had very few wake-ups.

Four days was just perfect. The only problem with that was we needed to return home on the fifth day and Michael didn't want to have anything to do with it. He made that clear the moment we tried to get him into the car to head for the airport. Wow, he put a lot of pent up energy into that tantrum.

He ended up having four major tantrums between checkout and arriving home. The worst, by far was the one that occurred while we were going through security. I was wheeling Michael behind me in his car seat when the TSA agent asked him to take his shoes off. He freaked out and refused. He curled into the seat and refused to do anything. Andy had already cleared security, so I was stuck by myself. It was a very bad feeling.

The TSA agents working the family line at security were awesome. AWESOME! As soon as I picked Michael up the one woman whisked the car seat away, took the wheels off, and sent it through the screening for me. I walked through the metal detector with Michael crying and fighting only to have the buzzer go off. I had left my phone in my pocket. Another TSA agent grabbed a bin for me and took care of my phone while I wrestled with Michael. They were not just understanding, they were extremely helpful. It was a nice gift at the end of an awesome trip.

This trip was a much needed break after a very long winter. I'm really glad we decided to go, and I'm looking forward to other trips we can take in the future know that we know Michael can handle it.