Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phase I

I've completed phase I of my little landscaping project. If you don't remember, I posted a picture of my front yard this summer. It looked like this:

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It's not pretty, is it. I hung on to those Black-Eyed-Susans because they attract Gold Finches for a few weeks each summer, but once I really looked at them I realized that a finch feeder might be a better way to go.

So, over the past several weeks I've taken some time to get in there and start cleaning things up. Phase I is now complete.


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I removed more than a trashcan full of Black-Eyed-Susans, gnarly mums, and yellow and green shrubs. I think it looks much better than it did.

Phase II will involve buying new mums and getting some pumpkins for the Halloween season.

Phase III will include ripping out the evergreen shrub on the right and replacing it with something similar. I was going to do that this fall, however we have had a very dry summer and fall and I was concerned that we were going to have water restrictions placed on us. I decided to hold off on it until the spring. Of course, we are supposed to get about 6 inches of rain today, so it would have been a non-issue, but it's a little too late now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not What He Planned

Oops, I sort of forgot to blog yesterday. I meant to provide an update on Michael, but it simply slipped my mind. In short, I took Michael to the doctor, and both of his ears were infected. He's on antibiotics again and seems to be doing well.

But, that's not what I'm going to talk about today. Today I'd like to focus on one of those parental dreams that we come up with before our child is born. One of mine was to have a child that I could sit and do puzzles with. So far, this has not panned out, but I haven't given up.

Andy's dream, was to have a son with whom to share his love of sports. I assume that he imagined playing catch in the back yard and taking Michael to see Flyers games. I know that he watched Michael closely in hopes that he would be left handed; because left handed pitchers make more money. (Stacey, I know you know what I'm talking about with this one.)

While Michael is a very energetic and active child, he's more like me than like Andy in this matter. He's more into climbing on rocks and running around looking for bugs and cool rocks than he is with playing catch or following the rules to a game. We did manage to get him to play Frisbee one day, but the amount of cheering involved for a game I don't even like made me hide the Frisbee. So, so far Andy hasn't gotten his games of catch in.

It seems that Michael is also following in my fan footsteps.

Last night I came up from exercising to find Andy and Michael watching the baseball game. The Phillies just clinched a play off spot and the fans are riding high. Not only are the Phillies winning, they are a really fun team to watch. This is the kind of baseball that fans live for.

M: Daddy, why are their "W"s on their hats?

A: They are the Washington Nationals. It's just like the Phillies have a "P" on their hats.

M: I like the Nationals!

A: No, we are routing for the Phillies.

I walk into the room.

J: Michael, what are you watching?

M: Bat Ball.

J: Oh, you are watching baseball?

M: Yes.

J: What is your favorite baseball team?

N: I like the Nationals and the Eagles.

At this point I would bet that Andy was cringing. 1) How can his son say he's routing for the Nationals? 2) The Eagles are a football team. 3) Oh no, is Joanna going to go off on her rant again about how she refuses to pay attention to the Eagles until they fire their scum bag of a coach for bring thugs into town and allowing his kids to drive through our neighborhood high on drugs and waving guns?

I really don't think this is what Andy had in mind.

As for those three thoughts, I can expound on those.

1) Michael said he likes the Nationals simply because he's contrary and will always pick the other team.
2) Eh, baseball or football, who cares...as long as there is cotton candy, hot dogs, and ice cream.
3) No, I didn't go off about the coach again, but only because it was Michael's bedtime and it's a really long rant.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Plans vs. Reality

On Friday afternoon I reflected on our family plans for the weekend.

  • Friday -Go to dinner with friends and their adorable 18 month old son.
  • Saturday - Go to the Home Show in Valley Forge to get ideas for the kitchen redo that we keep talking about.
  • Sunday - relax and get the cleaning and shopping done. Maybe hit the bookstore.

This morning I reflected on the reality of our weekend.

  • Friday night - Get puked on, call friends to cancel plans, put Michael to bed, change Michael's PJs and wash sheets, change Michael again and wash sheets again.
  • Saturday - Give up on going to the home show, suggest Andy take the time to get a run in, walk up to the park to see if I can find Andy's keys, leave personal information with park rangers and heart run even coordinators, drive Andy's car back to house, walk three miles through park looking for keys while pushing a hot and sick kid in a stroller, dig out spare keys from back of junk drawer, catch puke in bucket, only change and wash Michael's sheets once over night.
  • Sunday - Start laundry and do grocery shopping, notice that Michael's fever is down, decided to risk it and take Michael to Kohl's and then Learning Express, leave Learning Express when Michael turns green, take Michael's temperature and see it spiked to 104.4, panic, look up local Urgent Care centers, determine that they don't know what the word Urgent means, try to slip into Walgreens Take Care Clinic 15 minutes before they close only to discover that the Nurse Practitioner had already closed down and left for the day, take Michael's temperature again before heading to ER, sigh with relief, change and wash Michael and his sheets once over night.
This should be required reading for anyone who is considering having children. Your life will never be the same.

You know, I could really use a vacation right about now. Vegas anybody?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Randomness

Yep, it's that time again. The time when my poor little brain can't even pretend to pull off a semi-organized post. So, here goes. Let's see what spills out today.

  • Yes, I really do say "yep" in real life. I also use "yeah" a lot. I had a friend from Massachusetts tease me about it once. Since she pronounces "drawer" as "draw", I'm not too sure she has any room for criticism.
  • We have had the sidewalk chalk out a lot recently. My neighbor's daughter draw what looked like a..um...there is no nice way to say this. She drew a 10 foot long rainbow penis on our front walk.
  • Did I mention that we have been having a very dry summer?
  • This means we had a 10 foot long rainbow penis on our front walk for two weeks. It was adorable.
  • Yes, I know I could have hosed it off sooner, but where is the fun in that?
  • Michael is still insisting that I read Scooby Doo and the Rotten Robot every night. The book is so worn that the pages have started to fall out. I've had to repair the book with Scotch Tape so we can continue to read it.
  • Stupid Scotch Tape.
  • Come to think of it, stupid Scooby Doo too.
  • Although, I am thinking of trying to get Michael to dress as one of the Mystery Inc characters because I know with my orange turtle neck sweater, brown hair, and glasses I'd make an awesome Velma.
  • Wondering if I'm serious about that?
  • Yep.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There Are No Winners in Food Battles

I'm the youngest of three children so I got to see first hand how parenting three kids the same way ended up resulting in three very different grown ups. Over the past Four years, this has helped moderate my mommy anxieties by reminding me that there is a little wiggle room in parenting. I'm never going to be a perfect parent, and that's still OK.

There is one area where I still sometimes feel that I failed. Michael and his eating habits. Andy and I both eat pretty well and are both fairly knowledgeable about how to eat healthy. So, we'll sit down to a nice meal that limits red meat, uses healthy oils instead, and has lots of veggies and fiber. We talk about limiting processed sugar and adding in nuts and such. Then, I turn around and give Michael a bowl of Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal for the 4th straight day and sigh. This is not how I wanted my child to eat.

Michael is still a very fussy eater. He drinks milk, eats cheese and yogurt, enjoys some pasta dishes, and will eat bread products with cream cheese or peanut butter on them. He does eat some fruit and a couple of veggies, but it's really nothing to brag about. At times he'll eat chicken nuggets or hot dogs, but those are really just junk food, so I don't push it simply so I can say he eats meat.

In general, I don't do food battles. I've never seen anyone successfully "break" a fussy eater in a way that didn't end up making things somehow worse. I'm not going to go into details, but of the seriously fussy eaters I've encountered, no one has walked out a winner.

One of those hard core fussy eaters was my sister. She's 40 now, and she is still just as fussy as she was at 4. I was there for a number of food battles, including the time I got so annoyed with them that I got up and ate her damn green beans for her. I heard my parents trying to be rational with her. I even had the pleasure of watching her throw up on a camp counselor who made her take a bite of a beat.

Have I ever mentioned that Michael reminds me of my sister? Especially when it come to food?

So, I normally take a no battle approach. The only rule I enforce is that if Michael doesn't eat something healthy, he doesn't get snacks. He's normally OK with that and will settle for a PB&J instead of cookies. Or, he just won't eat. He's healthy, so I don't stress about it.

However, when we were grocery shopping, Michael asked if I would buy him one of those horrible TV dinners that has Shrek on the front. It had pizza, corn and a desert. Michael eats all of those, so even though I hate to support that kind of crap, I bought it for him.

On Monday I asked what he wanted for dinner. He wanted to eat the pizza dinner.

I cooked it for him.

He ate the desert and then told me he doesn't like pizza any more and that he wasn't going to eat it or the corn. Let's just say that didn't go over too well with Andy and I.

I don't force Michael to eat, so there was no, "you must eat this or you get punished." Instead, I simply told him that if he didn't eat his dinner, he wouldn't get any snacks later on. Seems fair to me, but not to Michael. He did protested. I heated the food up for him again. He protested again. I excused him from the table. Then, I put the dinner in the fridge and waited for what I knew was coming.

And hour later, Michael grinned at me and asked for a snack. He really needs to get control of the grin since it always gives him away. Wait, on second thought, I think I prefer that.

Anyway, I grinned back. Then, I went to the fridge, pulled out his dinner, and reheated it for the second time. I grinned when I placed it in front of him. "Here you go sweetie."

That was the end of the grinning.

Michael did suck it up and eat what had to have been horribly chewy pizza by that point. When he was done, he got his snack and he seemed happy. I, on the other hand, was exhausted and disgusted by the whole thing.

And you know what the worst part is? I know that he's going to ask for that same dinner again one of these days, and I know that he's going to put up a fight when I say no. And it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kids These Days

Man, kids these days have the coolest stuff. When I was a kid, we had TV's with knobs that would fall off if you turned them to fast. Now kids have HDTV, DVR's and the iTouch. When I was a kid, we had shoes, kids today have sneakers with heels that light up. When I was a kid, we had beds with head board, kids today have this:

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Tell me that bed isn't completely awesome.



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Go ahead, tell me that you don't want to curl up in there and read.

You can't can you? That's because that bed is awesome! I'm tempted to kick Michael out and take his room over for myself. I would love to sleep in a nice little nest like that, or curl up underneath and read and listen to my iPod. Do you think Andy would mind if Michael took my place in bed?

Yeah, probably.

Plus, there is no way I'm getting Michael out of there. He loves his new bed.

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Plus, look at all that extra space! He could fit another ten or so stuffed reptiles in there with him.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Changes

Have I mentioned that I don't like change much? Never have. Even positive changes stress me out. I like my routines. I like predictable.

It's not terribly surprising that Michael is the same way, is it?

He's had several big changes in the past few weeks. The first was the transition from his old - and awesome - classroom, to a new classroom at school. The next change happened last week with a switch from two days of school to three days of school. Yes, we lumped it together with the classroom change to get it all done and over with at once. And then, because we like to overdo everything, we finally switched him from his toddler bed to a twin bed this weekend.

So, how did these changes go?

The transition to a new classroom was the hardest change for him. I debated before hand if I should tell him and help prep him in advance, or just let it happen to him. Part of me voted for the just let it happen approach because I knew he wasn't going to like the change and didn't want to give him too much time to stew over the up coming change. The other part of me realized that I would be really mad if I wasn't warned about what was going to happen, so I decided to start prepping him about a week before they started the transition. Michael cried any time I talked about it. but, I pointed out that some of his his friends were moving with him, so he'd still have the same people to play with.

He wasn't particularly comforted by that.

Then, they started the transition, and he cried each day. I was very impressed with how seriously the school took the matter. They didn't dismiss it at all, and worked hard to make him feel comfortable. The morning drop-of teacher that Michel sees every day no matter what class he's in, came to the rescue one day. When he was struggling with the change she distracted him with, "Do you want to tell the other kids about dinosaurs?" and he sat down in his new room and shared everything he knew about dinosaurs with his class. Brilliant!

I did nothing to prepare Michael for the change from 2 to 3 days of school. I'm still not sure how much he understands about days and weeks, so I thought I'd just let it slide by and see if he even caught on. The good news is that the change means he's back in class with a girl that switched to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule in the spring. He adores her, and seeing her again made his transition easier. When I dropped him off last Wednesday, he barely even gave me a kiss because he was so happy to be at school.

The bad news is that yes, Michael figured out that he got shorted a grandma day and let me know about it on Friday night. He was so upset about it that he tried to insist that I take him to my mom's on Saturday morning. "It's not a mommy and daddy day! It's a grandma day!" Luckily, he forgot about that on Saturday morning, but I'm sure we'll hear about it again.

I felt a little bad about the bed transition right after the other changes, but he barely fits into the toddler bed anymore so we would be making the change soon anyway.

We went to Ikea and showed Michael the loft bed that we were thinking of. It's not as tall as a bunk bed, but it's still raised enough that you can sit under the bed and read. You can also buy a tent to put over the top, which turns the bed into a cool little cave of warm and snugly. I totally want one for myself.

Honestly, I really expected Michael to refuse to sleep in it the first night, but I think we did everything right for once. We let him see the bed before buying it, we let him pick out his new sheets (Iron Man and Spider Man), and I even let him "help" put it together. That last part was the hardest, but it paid off. Michael loves his new bed.

So, after two weeks of change and several rounds of tears, it seems like things are settling down and Michael is enjoying his new class and new teacher. Now, to start prepping him for Kindergarten.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More on Reading

I received a number of questions and comments in Tuesday's post about reading bedtime stories to Michael. I've been mulling them over and decided to dedicate a post to them today.

The first comment was from Stacey at Conference Call on Mute. She said:

"I know your son is only 4 but given his sophistication (embalming, for example) have you thought about reading him books from your older childhood? Limit it to a number of chapters, of course."

Here's an interesting thing about that group of books. I've only read a few of them, and the one's I did read it was done when was much older. I had the normal exposure to Dr. Seuss and other picture type books because they were read to me. But, everything after that was skewed by my learning disabilities. When everyone was reading Phantom Toll Booth and other such books, I simply could not read anything more than a few sentences long. So, I never read them. By the time I had received the assistance I needed in learning to read, I was in 5th grade. Instead of reading age appropriate books, I raided my sister's bookshelf. Considering she was two years older than me and an advanced reader, that means I was not reading age appropriate books. So, I went from Dr. Seuss to Judy Blume - I still remember my mom's horror when she discovered I had just read Forever - To Stephen King.

It's probably time to fill in that gap.

Then there is the whole limiting the chapters idea. It's great. Unless your kid is Michael. Then, it means I nightly battle in which Michael cries while I try to explain why I'm not going to read the entire book at once.

The next comment was from Beth. She suggested that I have Michael read to me instead. This is a great idea, and I've tried it a few times. Michael does not approve of this approach. I am the mommy and it is my job to do the reading, and no deviations are allowed. As such, the mommy is also required to read the books in a specific manner and don't even think about not saying the Rotten Robot's lines using a computerized voice.

Let's just say this kid has helped me master my eye rolling.

Now Lindsay has a great approach. She suggested that I separate them into long books and short books and allow one long book or two short books. Currently, we have short books, longer books, and books that are too freaking long and I've hidden. I think I'll take a little time and completely redo Michael's bookshelves and see if I can institute this policy.

The books that are too freaking long will stay hidden.

The other Stacey chimed in with: "Must be tough. Good thing I don't have to deal with this exact same situation. Yep, good thing."

Can I just say that it's nice to know that I'm not alone in this? Cole and Michael sure do know how to work their mommies.

Finally, Desi had a great suggestion. Read the books really fast. I tried this one last night. I thought he would find it funny and laugh about it. Oh my word did that tick Michael off. I read the first page fast and as I was flipping to the second page, he placed his hand on the page and directed me to slow down. Clearly, I was breaking his bed time story rules and he put an end to that right away.

Folks, I'm living with a literary dictator! But, at least he loves books, right?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Know I Shouldn't Complain About This

I know I've said it before, I'm a fanatic about reading. It's a very special skill to me, and I want nothing more to instill a love of reading in Michael. The primary way that I've been doing this is by reading to Michael. It is part of his bed time ritual, and when his attention has increased, I've started bedtime earlier so we can fit more reading in. Basically, my policy is to read to him any time he wants me to read to him. But...

You knew there would eventually have to be a but.

The first problem is the repetitive nature of Michael's interests. He likes to hear the same book over and over and over again. I, on the other hand, have a very low tolerance for repetition. As the books get longer and longer, my tolerance goes down and down. I could probably read Good Night Moon every night for the rest of my life. I can handle Chicka Chicka Boom Boom every night for a few months straight, I know because I've done it. But, Scooby Doo and the Rotten Robot? Not so much.

Which brings me to the second problem. Content. Boring books are bad enough, but now we are getting into Scooby Doo and Super Heroes and these books are not all that great. Not only is the subject matter cheesy, the writing isn't that good either. I know that it's still beneficial to read to him, even if it's silly stuff, but Having to read Scooby Doo and the Rotten Robot every night for the past several weeks is becoming painful.

And the biggest problem are the questions. I encourage Michael to ask questions when we are reading. I like when he really pays attention to the story and interjects comments here and there. But, my already inquisitive child has exploded with questions lately. Here are some of the questions and comments Michael has asked about Scooby Doo and the Rotten Robot. Some nights I get EVERY.ONE.OF.THEM.
  • What are those, in reference to the back stage passes the Mystery Inc gang is wearing.
  • Sy Smiley Doesn't have one, so he can't go back stage.
  • What does "Make a Bundle" mean?
  • No, his name is Tinkerwell, not Tinkerbell. (Even when I don't make the mistake.)
  • What is a handkerchief?
  • Do they have a washing machine back stage to wash the handkerchief?
  • What does "scram" mean?
  • What does "sabotage" mean?
  • I know other words that mean "sabotage" followed by an explanation I've told him previously.
  • Why does Velma trip when they are running away from the robot?
  • Why is Velma off her feet when she sprays the robot with the fire hose? (I thought using a fire hose at the fair would answer this. Nope. he's still asking.)
  • How does the bad guy control the robot from inside?
This book has 24 pages, and it generates that many questions every night. Oh, and did I mention that he gets three books a night? We are also reading Riddle Me This fairly often as well as Scooby Doo and the Tiki Curse. Let's just say that bedtime has gotten very long.

So, what am I going to do about this? I'm going to move bedtime up 15 minutes so we can keep going over the meaning of "sabotage" and "scram" while exploring the physics used by cartoon illustrators. It may not be the most compelling conversation I'll ever have, but it keeps Michael thinking and lets me cuddle with him for a little while each night.

For now though, the book on Mummies I just bought is staying out of the bedtime rotation. He made me read the part about embalmers pulling King Tuts brains out through his nose five times in a row. I don't think either of us will benefit from that right before bed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finally, the township fair rules!

Every fall, our township holds a small fair. By small, I mean they serve some food, they bring out the fire engines, they have a row of vendors, and instead of rides, they get the big bouncy slides and such. We have taken Michael to the fair every year, so this little fair has become a family tradition.

Last year was the first year that Michael was old enough for the bouncy stuff, but he was too frightened to go on anything except the bounce house. Last year he was old enough for the pony rides, but he was too frightened to actually get on one. In other words, last year we walked around in the sun while I tried to convince him that he would have fun if he just gave _______ a try.

This year we went to the fair with one of Andy's coworkers and her 3 year old son. He behaved just like Michael did last year. He got in the bounce house once, and then forced her to carry him for the rest of the time.

But not Michael. Oh no, this year was completely different. He went on everything as many times as he could. Ponies?


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No problem. He practically clawed his way into the saddle.

Most of the bounce house stuff was sealed, so I couldn't get pictures of him, except for the biggest one. I had no idea how he was going to do any of it until he popped out of the middle.


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From there he had to climb up this really high wall.

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I was sure that he'd get half way up and then I'd have to rescue him.


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Look at him working it! Now there is determination. After sliding down the huge slide, he ran around and got right back in line. I was so impressed.

I was also impressed at how well he did when we decided to take a break and watch the firemen cut the top off of a car. They used hydraulic tools to remove all the doors, then they popped out the windows, and finally, they just sliced the top right off. Michael sat and watched with interest.

After the car demonstration, he went over and the firemen showed him how to use a fire hose. He jumped right in and he looked like such a big boy. It's amazing how much difference a year makes. He ran rings around our friend's son, but I assured her that he would likely be doing the same thing Michael was at next year's fair.

The cutest part of the whole day was when they gave Michael a plastic fire hat. Michael has never been very big on hats. He can tolerate a baseball cap for a few minutes, and will keep a winter cap on in the snow if I force him to, so imagine my surprise when he was still wearing the hat several hours later.

And then the next morning when he put it on.

And when he wore it to the grocery store.

And when he ended up wearing most of yesterday.


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What are you looking at lady? Haven't you ever seen anyone wearing a fake fire helmet while eating gummy worms?

Well no, I haven't. But it's so stinking cute you can keep doing it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why you little...

Last night Michael and I went over to check on my mom and do some chores for her. While Michael has been pretty good over the past few months, he still gets a little punchy when he's over tired or hungry. (A lot like him mommy, actually.) Between staying up too late this past weekend and the stress of transitioning to a new room at school, he wasn't on his best behavior last night.

The elevator in my mom's apartment is really slllooowww, so it's not uncommon for us to have to stand waiting for a few minutes. Normally, Michael stands right next to me and waits patiently. Sometimes, he'll explore a little, but he rarely goes very far from me. Last night was not one of those times.

When we got there, we could hear music coming down the hall. I think someone was playing music in the gym, but it was clear to me that wherever the music was coming from, it was behind a closed door. Michael was not satisfied with that explanation so he started off down the hall to investigate.

"Michael, please come back here."

Michael kept walking.

"Michael, come back. The elevator is almost here."

He kept walking.

"Michael! Come here!"*

Michael stopped and turned around. With the most indignant tone I've ever heard from a small child he said, "Mom. I heard you." Then, he turned back around and started back down the hall.

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open for a moment asking myself if my four-year-old had just given me attitude for expecting him to acknowledge me.

"Michael, if you don't come here, you won't get get any Scooby Doo books read to you at bedtime." That worked. But, it seems that some lessons in respect are called for.

Little stinker...



*It's really not surprising that everyone at the apartment complex knows who Michael is, is it?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Getting Hit From Both Sides

The responsibility that comes with having a child, while overwhelming, isn't exactly a surprise. You know there is a good chance that you won't get a full night of sleep for months on end. You know that you will face temper tantrums, scraped knees, and at least one non-edible object being swallowed. Granted, you may not expect five ear infections in eight months or full body hives in response to antibiotics; but you know going into it that being a parent isn't always going to be easy.

What I'm coming to realize is that as you get older, being a daughter can be just as difficult as being a mother. To be fair, I understood this from a theoretical point of view. I watched my dad care for my grandmother as she aged. She would live at our house for a few months while she recovered from a broken hip or knee, or we would go and visit her in the hospital or drive down to the shore to check on her. My dad spent a lot of time making sure she was well cared for, and that she could remain as independent as possible. I watched as my mom cared for her father as he aged as well. Toward the end, she even took medical leave from work and cared for him full time. I get that caring for parents is a big responsibility.

What I'm struggling with is that it's starting to happen, but this is just too soon. I'm not even 40 yet. I have a four year old child. I'm too young to have parents that might need a little extra help. I mean, come on...my 75 year old father is still body surfing, kayaking, and running boy scouts ragged. My mom is only in her 60's. This should be smooth sailing, right? RIGHT?!

Well, no.

It's not that my mom is getting frail and can't care for herself anymore. She's still in pretty good shape. But, when something comes up, of course she needs help. When she fell and damaged what remained of the ligaments in her knee two years ago, she needed help while she recovered. No biggie. It could have just as easily been me. Then, when she needed a hysterectomy last year, she needed help again while she recovered. Once again, that could happen to any of us. The thing is, now that she's getting older, these things seem to happen more and more. Her vision is going, she has some neuropathy in her feet from and autoimmune disorder, she's not as strong as she used to be. All of these things contribute to the likelihood of her getting injured or taking longer to heal from an injury.

I guess that's where my problem is with facing this issue. I guess I just expected it to happen over night. Like she would hit 80 and, boom, I'd need to care for her. But it's not like that. It's a progressive situation that started with the occasional need for care, and has increased over the years. So, while she's still living independently, driving, and caring for her home, I'm starting to realize that this is not a static situation, but a progressive one.

It's a sad, scary, and frustrating situation. I love my mom and it's hard to imagine that one day she may not be able to live the way she wants to live. She's a very independent woman, and it will not be easy for her to relinquish that when the time comes. It's also scary. Her most recent problem involves some kind of reaction that is causing swelling in her face. They suspected it was a chronic sinus infection and rushed her in to an ENT to make sure it wasn't getting out of control. That can be a very serious, and I really didn't like pondering the what-ifs of the situation. It turns out that she does not have a sinus infection at all, and the ENT thinks it may be allergies. But my mom has decided it's not allergies, and isn't being as proactive about treating/ruling out allergies as I would like. It's frustrating because unlike a child, I can't just make a sticker chart and bribe her to take her medicine. (Hmm...I wonder if that would work?) She's an adult and she is the one who decided what treatments to follow or refuse. It's very hard to watch her make decisions that I don't agree with.

I also have trouble hiding that frustration. The solution seems so simple to me, and when she doesn't do what I would do, I can get a little too worked up. Unfortunately, instead of coming across as being concerned, I come across as being impatient and condescending. My mom feels like I'm treating her like a child, and you can imagine how well that goes over.

We'll get her over this current hurdle, and I expect it to have no impact on her over all independence. Things will go back to normal again. Only this time, I'm going to be a little more prepared for the next time and the time after that...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not Yet Kiddo

I have a very vivid memory of the day my sister got her first pair of glasses. She was in 4th grade and I was in second grade. My mom took us to the store in the mall so that she could pick out her frames. If I remember correctly, she wasn't all that excited about it.

Me? I was so jealous. I wanted glasses so badly. I must have tried on every pair in the store. There were some awesome sparkly horn rimmed glasses that I fell in love with. It was so disappointing that I had 20/20 vision and didn't get my own pair of glasses.

I know, it's funny to think that someone would actually want glasses. I bet you think that when I finally did need glasses at age 18 that I wasn't as excited about it. But, I was. I've never had a problem wearing glasses. I've tried contacts, but I always go back to my frames. I'm just a glasses kind of girl.

Last night we went to Lens Crafters so Andy could pick out a new pair of glasses. He does wear contacts often, but he still wears glasses enough to need to replace them every five years or so. To keep Michael busy, I took him back to the kids section and let him try on the glasses.

He was just like me. I watched him try on each pair over and over again. He was so excited, I could barely get him to stand still long enough to snap his picture. This is the best I could do.


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I have to say, I thought he was adorable with glasses, but I'm glad that he doesn't need them yet.

He was not happy that he doesn't need them yet. He begged and pleaded with me to get him glasses. He was so insistent that I had to explain that he can't get glasses without a prescription, and that he couldn't get a prescription unless his eyesight was blurry and a doctor decided he needed glasses. He was very disappointed and asked when he would be able to get glasses. Based on Andy's and my vision, I felt safe telling him someday.

Let's just hope he's so excited about it when the time does come. For some reason, I doubt it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dirt, Glorius Dirt

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of the shameful landscaping in front of my house.

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It's one of those things were I kind of knew it was getting out of control, but after looking at it like that every day, I stopped seeing just how bad it looked. Then one day I actually looked at it and saw just how bad it looked. I can't imagine what my poor neighbors have been thinking.

I know how this happened too. I've wanted to redo the landscaping for several years, however to make any changes I'd need to submit a plan to the landscaping committee and then wait two months for approval. That's way too much work for me as a working mother with a young child, so I kept putting it off. Then, when I finally had enough energy to plan for it, I was faced with finding time to actually do the work. While Michael loves being outside, he's never really been one to stay in the front yard while I sit and relax. In fact, this is the first summer that I've actually been able to sit at all when he's outside - normally on the neighbor's front lawn because their daughter doesn't wander as much as the boys do.

And then, there are the gold Finches. Every year I look at the Black Eyed Susans and decide that I'm going to rip them out. They are invasive to the point of having killed one shrub already and after they bloom, the leaves turn black. To be honest, I don't even like them when they bloom. However, we have a charm of Gold Finches that live in the park next to us, and they love the seeds from the Black Eyed Susans. Every year when the flowers start to die and the leaves start to turn black, the Gold Finches show up and I decide that I'll leave them for another year.

I'm sorry Gold Finches, you'll have to make due on the Thistle that grows in the park because those babies are coming out!

With the gorgeous weather this weekend I took the opportunity to start working on the landscaping project. The first evening I attacked the patch next to the steps. And I mean attacked! I pulled and dug and raked and yanked while Michael and the other kids played around on the sidewalk with chalk and dinosaurs. I worked really hard for about an hour and made a tiny little dent in the jungle. Not only has have the Black Eyed Susans doubled in size and sent out runners all over the place, the emerald and gold shrubs are also trying to take over the world. The further I got into it, the worse it all seems. But once I cleared out the entire patch next to the steps, I was encouraged by how much better it looks.

The next night I decided to attack the patch in the center of the flower bed. I was hoping the kids would be out again to keep Michael busy, but everyone was away for the holiday. Michael wanted to wander and play. I wanted him to stay with me. What to do, what to do?

Um...duh! I had a nice little plot of freshly dug dirt just sitting there waiting for Michael to play in it. I handed him a small shovel and let him go to town. The only rule was to keep the dirt on the dirt, and not on the sidewalk. That kept him busy for an hour, until sundown forced us to fold up for the night. I was able to make another small dent into the overgrown landscaping, and Michael got to play in the dirt. It was a perfect evening for both of us.

Well, except that he was so filthy I had to carry him up to the bathtub. But that's a small price to pay for an hour of uninterrupted yard work.

When I get the rest of the Black Eyed Susans out I'll snap a picture so you can see phase I of the project. Phase II is going to involve digging out the big old evergreen shrub next to the steps, and if it's going to happen this year, it needs to happen soon. I think I may need to invest in a full sized shovel for that job.

Friday, September 3, 2010

500 in 2010 Update - DONE!

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.
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I've completed all of my 500 in 2010 goals except for running Warrior Dash, which I'll be running with Laura and Maria on October 9th. (I just learned that my 20th reunion is on October 9th. I was looking for a good reason not to go, and this is perfect.)

In addition to running, biking, and ellipticalling 500 miles this year, I've also lost 20 pounds and gotten myself into better shape than I've been in since college. I cannot tell you just how amazing it feels to know that I can go out and run 4 miles without a problem. At the beginning of the summer, I wasn't even sure I could run 2 miles. I really didn't think my body could do it. I've never been so happy to be wrong before. It's really inspiring to realize just how much power I have over my own fitness.

Now that I've reached my 500 miles, I'm going to stop tracking my miles. I'm still going to run and bike and use the elliptical, but I want to expand my workout to include more stretching and toning as well as devote more time to the rowing machine. The reality is that if I'm measuring my miles, I will devote all of my workout time to activities that produce miles. That is counterproductive to my overall goals, so I'm not going to do it.

I'd also like to add a note about Andy and 500 in 2010. I would not have been able to do this without his support. He shared the child care duties with me so that I'd have time to get out and run, and he did so willingly. Not only that, Andy also also completed 500 miles in 2010. In fact, he finished up weeks ahead of me. While I've really enjoyed the online competition (London, I'm looking at you) having Andy to partner with really helped me keep going when I wanted to quit.

Oh, and let me assure you that there were times when I wanted to quit. There were nights when I slept on Michael's floor while he cried in pain from another ear infection. There were workouts that were interrupted when Michael threw up in bed and needed to be bathed and the bed changed. There were long days at work that ended with a rough ride home in traffic. Sometimes, I'd give myself a break and take a night off. But most of the time, I pushed through it and managed to come in 4 months early.

I think I'll celebrate with a nice bottle of wine. And a few victory laps around the park.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Randomness

I've been really, really busy at work this week so I haven't had much time to blog. We had a great weekend and some funny stuff has happened, but I melted my brain on Tuesday and lost the posts I had written in my head. So, that means randomness!

  • I know this will jinx it, but so far I'm loving the 4-year-old stage. Michael is so sweet and cuddly that I almost wish he could stay at this stage forever. I love when he wants to sit squished between Andy and I while watching TV. I love all of the "I Love You"s. I love having his long, gangly legs hanging off my lap as I read him bedtime stories.
  • I don't, however, love having him insist upon being carried all of the time. He's just getting too heavy for that.
  • But, I do it anyway because I'm what my dad calls a "soft touch."
  • The other day at the grocery store, Michael did something that was clearly a bad idea and I said "Dude? What were you thinking?" His response was, "Why do you keep calling me dude? My name is Michael."
  • I just rolled my eyes. How do you explain "dude" to a 4-year-old?
  • Michael is becoming very aware of genders and has been creating boys and girls clubs with his friends. It all seems to make sense to him until I point out that M, one of his favorite people in the entire world, is a girl. He's really not sure what to make of that. He wants her to be in his club, but she's a girl. I think it might be time to pick up a copy of Free to Be You and Me.
  • I'd get him the Feminine Mystique, but that's not really bedtime story reading.
  • And, it might be a little over his head.
  • And, since I'm bring up gender issues, here's a great blog post that I think every woman can appreciate. It's titled Dear Menses. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Special Blog Meet Up - About time too!

Most of my blog friends are friends from Baby Center. That's where we all hung out when we we pregnant and when our kiddos were babies. Then, drama happened and they transitioned to a new format, and almost everyone drifted away and the conversation continued through a bunch of blogs (and Facebook and Twitter). But, back in the early days on Baby Center, one mom started a post titled "Do you ever feel like a thread killer?" She was lamenting the fact that any time she posted on a thread, it died. She was a great poster, but I think her timing was always bad. So, people started posting. Somewhere along the line, the thread turned into an attempt to be the last person to post on the thread. You know, to be the official killers of the thread killer's thread.

I'm proud to say, that over three years later, that still hasn't happened. Yes, Baby Center changed formats and closed that thread, but the two remaining posters started a new one on the new format. When that thread was closed down after 1000 posts, we started another one. Now, over 4000 posts later, we are still going.

So, who are the two stubborn mommies who are still trying to kill the thread?

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That would be Karen and I. We have had an ongoing conversation since our Michael's were less than a year old. We each log on about 5 times a week and for me it's been like having a really cool chick sitting next to me at work that I look forward to chatting with everyday. You know, the one you complain about your husband, coworkers, Mother in Laws and such with.

We have a number of things in common, which I think drew us together on that thread long ago. We were both working Mom's who were breastfeeding and pumping at work. We both grew up at the Jersey Shore (Karen's the real deal and I was a summer transplant). We get Guido jokes and feel that Amoroso makes the best hoagie rolls ever. We are close in age, our husbands are both big kids that love video games. And, we were also the only two mom's on Baby Center that had sons named Michael.

Karen and family typically come up my way each summer, but we have never been able to make a meet up happen before. Their schedule is packed, I've burned my sick time, you name it, it's happened. But this year, we managed to make it work.

And this is how it turned out.


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It was so easy sitting down to dinner with them. Like I've found with other blog meet-ups, it's like we have always known each with just a little added something for being able to hear Karen's voice and see her smile (instead of emoticons...which I use to many of.) Karen and her family were pretty much just how I expected them to be. It was a fun, and crazy dinner, and it certainly was not enough time together...but we'll work something out in the future.

I think the best part for me of the get together was seeing our boys together. While my Michael is pretty sociable, he does normally need a little time to warm up to people. Not this time. The two Michael's clicked instantly. The laughed and played the entire time like they've been best buddies for years. It was really adorable to see. I know my Michael was sad when it was time for them to go.

The other fun part about the two boys together was that from behind, they looked alike. They are almost the same height, they are both tall and slender, and they both have blond hair. Add the fact that they have the same name, and it was like having carbon copies running around. It totally cracked me up.

I'm so glad that I had a chance to meet another one of the wonderful women I've meet on the internet. Karen was everything I expected her to be, and I can't wait until we can get together again.