Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twelve Months of Sidewalk Chalk and Sippy Cups

I picked up this idea from some of the blogs over at Scientopia *and really liked the idea. If any one else wants to give it a try, you post the first sentence from the first post of each month. Let's see what my year looked like.

In January I "I only set one New Years Resolution last year. " I ended contemplating a resolution to reduce stress in my life, but realized it was unrealistic and ditched the idea right off. Good choice.

By the beginning of February I was pondering deep philosophical questions. "For some strange reason I often ask Michael what he wants for dinner." I still ask, and I still rarely get an answer. I guess I'll never learn.

March started with, "There are a number of different aspects of the 3.75 crazies that get me down." I take it I don't need to elaborate on the theme.

April saw me meet one of my 2010 fitness goals with, "One of my 500 in 2010 goals is to be able to run the 2 mile park loop, including the big hill, without stopping to walk." I'm still really proud of that. Wait until you see next year's goal.

In May I stumbled a little. "I'm in the middle of a blogging funk. " I didn't make many posts that month.

June saw the end of our first family vacation. "Our trip to Disney was a success!" 'Nough said.

July got a flaming start with, "I'm a bit of a weather watcher, so I have the Weather Channel app on my iPhone. " Yes, I managed to wrap being a geek up with my neighbor almost setting all of our houses on fire.

It was August before the sickies showed up in the first post of the month with, "We ended up with two different viruses floating around the house last week." The only difference between then an now is that we have a virus and a bacteria floating around the house. I can't help but picture the Wonder Microbes singing, "What's gonna work? Team work."

I got a little domestic in September with a long overdue landscaping project. "I've completed phase I of my little landscaping project." I did complete Phase II as well, but the ground hog ate my mums. Stupid whistle pig.

October started out with a trip to Vegas that I never blogged about because OMG I had the worst sinus/ear/throat infection ever. Here was the start of that saga. "Considering that I just had a great weekend spent hanging out with some friends in Las Vegas, this post should probably be about that." I don't think I ever post about the full impact of that illness. It lasted for six weeks, and I even managed to crack a rib from coughing. Please, never again.

November was a rough month. I didn't feel well, and I was very contemplative. It started with a flash back to 1977 thanks to, "Michael had a Halloween Parade/Party at his school on Friday. " You don't always know what parenting will bring up for you.

By December I was pretty much worn out. And old. I realized that my age is catching up to me and posted, "After wearing the same glasses for several years, I got a new pair back in January."
Yes, that's the post that I revealed that I may soon need reading glasses. WAH!

This year was a rough year with the endless string of ear infections, hives, shingles, and super bugs. I worked hard, played hard, and trained hard. I ran Warrior Dash and got into a size 8 pair of jeans. Michael was...well, Michael. I lost a butt load of sleep. But, I also made some big strides as well. It was not the year for no stress.

But that OK. There is always next year. I wonder what kind of crazy it will bring?

So, that's it for the year folks. I leave the office in a few hours and won't be back until January 4th. It's possible that another post could appear before year end, but pretty unlikely. I'd like to take this time to thank all of the wonderful friends that I've connected to through my blog, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Holiday season.

And as always, I'll still be making spelling mistakes galore on twitter @Joannagr.

*Remember, I'm a geek.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Show Me the Mommy!

Wow, I'm really glad I didn't make that reduce my stress levels resolution last year. If I had, it would have been a major fail. I had this post planed early last week, but then I made a stupid mistake on Thursday. Not only did I make the mistake, but I made it TWICE on the same day. And I know better.

So, what was my stupid mistake? I casually mentioned that Michael hadn't been sick for two months. Twice. TWICE!!!!! What was I thinking?

He didn't even wait 24 hours this time around. He woke up at 1:00 am in the morning with a fever of 102. He was hot and sweaty and had just the slightest cough. I finally got him to sleep at 4:00. On the sofa. But that pretty much killed everything I had planned for the day...you know, like going to work.

So, I know that Friday is show me the mommy day, but seeing how next Friday is Christmas eve and the Friday after that is New Years eve, I'm just going to do this now before the picture is lost forever.

This is a picture that Andy snapped of me while we were enjoying a relaxing breakfast in San Antonio.

It's probably the best picture of me taken in the past several years, and I really wish it was with a higher quality camera. But, as it is, her you go. This is what this mommy looks like on the rare occasion when she isn't stressed out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season to be Quirky

They held a gingerbread house decorating party at Michael's school yesterday. They take pint size milk cartons and glue graham crackers on them, and it makes perfect little houses for the kids to decorate. Michael was excited for Andy and I to come see him at school, but I wouldn't say that he was into the whole experience.

His teacher started everything off by having two of the children read books to all of the parents. The children are supposed to sit on the floor on their circle time carpet. This is what Michael did.


He's so cooperative.

Then, the kids sang several songs and did a little dance. This was Michael's take on it all.


His reason behind hiding was that he was a little shy. Being a little shy, I get where he's coming from. While all this was going on, the school director came in and asked where Michael was.


He whipped opened the curtain and yelled across the room that he was being shy.

Um...wait, that's not what a shy kid would do. That's what my kid would do. I get that too. Drama is so much more important than being shy.

Michael never did join the kids for the singing, but after a little coercion I did manage to get him to sit down at the table to decorate his house. I spread the icing on it for him, and then let him place the candy any where he wanted to. He stuck the mints to the roof and all of the chocolate candy went straight into his mouth. Or, at least it went close to his mouth.


I will say, those chocolate covered pretzels looked pretty good to me as well. It seems like a waste to put them on a gingerbread house. Never waste good chocolate, that's what gum drops are for.

It was a crazy scene, with way too many people squeezed into a small area. I did get a few moments to speak with his teacher. She pointed out that Michael can read all of the words on the wall, but that he now refuses to try and read for her. He also refuses to let her take a picture of him. Oh, and he refuses to do his worksheets as well. What can I say. He is who he is.

You might think I'd find all of this upsetting. My kid doesn't follow rules. He's stubborn and persistent. But, while it can be frustrating at times, this tells me something very important about his teacher. He really likes her. So, while I'm a little concerned about how he'll behave in kindergarten, right now I know that when I send him to school, he's in the hands of someone he trusts and likes enough that he has no problem being himself. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Different Kind of Santa Problem

I'd like to thank everyone for the thoughtful responses that I received from last week's post about my problem with Santa. I really did want to play up the magic of Santa, but my own annoyingly practical personality was making it hard for me. All of the wonderful input really helped me figure out how to play up the spirit of Santa and add a little magic to Michael's Christmas. Jen left a wonderful link to the article "Santa Claus:Making the Invisible Visible" Which is well worth the few minutes it takes to read. (Plus, I got a wonderful giggle out of the analogy the author uses considering I work in the aerospace business.)

That said, we have been working on making Christmas a fun and memorable time for Michael. We have decorated the tree and the house (Think Clark Griswald). We have been reading books and watching Christmas specials. This afternoon, we are going to spend an hour watching Michael and his classmates "decorate" gingerbread houses at school. We are playing up the season.

On Saturday evening, after we returned from the train exhibit, we went to a birthday party at one of our neighbors. It was a great party. After taking a few minutes to warm up to the crowd, Michael had a blast playing with the other kids and eating tortilla chips. Andy and I were actually able to chill with the adults while Michael played downstairs. It was a little Christmas magic for us.

Part way through the party, Santa and his elf showed up to the party. I didn't know this was going to happen, so I wasn't able to prepare Michael for it before hand. Considering that Michael flat out refused to even consider sitting on Santa's lap last year, a little prep time might have helped. Then again, after I caught a glace of the Santa, it probably would not have.

Let's just say that Santa seemed a little worn out. His fake fur suit must have been washed a thousand times, and while clean, looked really matted. He also had a pretty half-assed beard and the enthusiasm of three toed sloth. He plopped himself by the Christmas tree and gave surely looks to everyone that walked by.

I decided to give him a try anyway. I brought Michael up and walked him in to see Santa. He would have nothing to do with him. I pushed a little, but it was clear that I was just wasting everyone's time. The hostess was sitting next to Santa, and she had a gift for each kid, so I sent Michael over to her to get his present. He walked over, took the present, thanked the hostess, and then turned and gave Santa the stink eye. I just about died laughing. I've never seen Michael give anyone such a look, and it was perfect for such a lousy Santa.

But, you know what the best part was? Michael's reaction wasn't even the worst. J, our neighbor that is the same age as Michael, walked in, gave Santa one look and exclaimed that, "Santa does not have black eyebrows!" Now there is one 4 year old that knows some BS when he sees it. Good for him for calling the Santa on be so lame.

And, good for me for it not being my kid that outed the Santa as a fake. Thank goodness for small blessings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trains at the Arboretum

For the past several years, Andy has been suggesting that we head to the Morris Arboretum to check out their Christmas Train display. Last year it was a little too snowy, so we skipped it. When I saw that we were supposed to have relatively warm weather on Saturday, I suggested that we finally head over. I checked their website and discovered that they are all of 7 miles down the road and wanted to kick myself for waiting so long.

The arboretum is part of the University of Pennsylvania, and it certainly has the feel of such a well regarded school. While we were there, they had a group of singers from the university strolling around singing carols. It was an added treat.

There is a lot to see at the arboretum, but we were there for the trains, so that's where we headed first. They have a nice set up, and Michael quickly found the Thomas tracks.

I have to say, I just adore his rosy checks.

There are multiple tracks, and some of them run up high. For small kids to really enjoy the show, the parents have to do some hoisting.


Andy and I took turns because Michael isn't all that little anymore.


In addition to the trains, they have replicas of many famous buildings.

Here is Independence Hall.


They also have copies of some bridges as well.


Michael was particularity interested in this track. He watched as two separate trains looped by for about 10 minutes.


After the trains, we had a little bit of time to check out other parts of the arboretum. They have a sculpture garden, but we avoided that after Michael bounced this one a little too much.


They also have this amazing tree walk. It a huge metal structure that takes you right up into the trees. It was sort of like being in the Ewok village, minus the teddy bears. They even have some netted areas where you can climb out over the trees.


Hey, that's a long way down. I went out, even if I was a bit tentative. Andy didn't seem to mind, and of course, Michael scrambled out like he is used to hanging out 40 feet above the ground.


I was really excited to finally visit and I was so impressed, I decided to convert our day passes into a year long family membership. I can't wait until this summer when all of the trees are covered with leaves. They have a very impressive collection, and it should be a nice place for Michael to blow off stem.

Oh, I also have some administrative stuff for you. If anyone is wondering why they haven't seen Christmas cards from us yet, this is why.


Four year olds are not always very cooperative.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Santa Problem

Spoiler Alert: If you still believe that a jolly, jiggly elf wearing a red suit and white beard magically deposits presents under millions of Christmas trees all on one night, do not read any further. I mean it. If you read further, despite my warning, and then get angry at me for killing Santa, well then, I may also have to start poking holes in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too. So, once again, if you are still gullible enough to believe that Santa is real, DO. NOT. READ. THIS. POST.

Santa. He causes me some problems. Big problems. Philosophical problems. He causes me enough angst, that I'd personally like to pull his beard off and whack him up side of the head will his fake belly pillow. I don't think that's the point of Santa, and I afraid I'm missing out on something. Let me explain.

I don't have any memories of actually believing in Santa. Part of this is because I'm the youngest of three kids. It's possible that my sister may have announced to our entire neighborhood, over the CB radio, that Santa was a fake. (Yes, really. I'm that old that I remember the CB radio fad.) While I don't actually remember that, I do remember always being skeptical about the very large man who could fit through a very tiny chimney.

In fact, my poor mother had to answer questions from a 5 year old such as, "How can Santa be at two malls at one time?" and "If Santa brings presents on Christmas eve, why can't we look under that blanket covering that pile of boxes in your room?" Even at five, I thought her "They are Santa's Helpers" and "Santa sent me the money to buy your presents" answers were lame. None of it made any sense. It was clear that I was being lied too.

And that's the root of my Santa problem. It's a lie. I personally don't like lying. At all. In fact, I probably take the no lying thing a little far based on the responses I've gotten from answering "how do I look" questions. I'm working on it. I now realize there are times people don't want or need to hear the truth, and I try to come up with the most polite and least dishonest response I can in those situations. Still, it doesn't make sense to me that people ask me how I'm doing when they don't really care.

Anyway, now that I'm a parent and it's Christmas, I find myself faced with the whole Santa thing. Michael has grown up with the belief in Santa, and I've been OK with it so far. We leave cookies and milk out and pretend that Santa comes on Christmas eve. Last year, Michael did ask me once if Santa was real. I deflected the issue by asking him what he thought. He said he thought Santa was real, so I just sort of let it go.

But I'm not sure I'll be able to lie to him if he asks again. It just seems wrong to me. If I'm trying to raise him to be an honest person, how can I lie to him? But, maybe this is different somehow? Maybe the magic of Santa is so awesome that it's worth the fib? Maybe I'm underestimating how sharp kids are and that they pick up on the whole nudge, nudge, wink, wink aspect of the whole thing? Maybe that's even part of the fun?

So, what do you all think? Is it OK to lie about Santa? Is it actually bad to not lie about Santa? Is my insanely annoying practicality ruining Christmas for Michael? Should I just lighten up and go for it, dusty boot print in the fireplace and all? Is this all a waste of my mental energy because Michael's going to figure it out by the end of the holiday season no matter what I do? Please, provide me with guidance oh wonderful blogsphere!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Randomness - The Good and the Bad

We had a nice, festive weekend. I'm slowly getting myself into the holiday cheer, with hopes that it will pick up speed and I'll be motivated to host a great Christmas dinner again this year. At this point, since Michael is the only child on both Andy and my sides, he's really the only one that's tons of fun to shop for. Everyone else, not so much.

So, since I'm not fully festive yet, I'm just going to do some randmoness...with a twist. The good and the bad of each item.

  • Our township held it's annual Christmas parade on Saturday. We walked down to the corner and snuggled up in blankets and watched as some police cars, scout troops, a band, and the fire trucks went by. The Good: We were at the beginning of the route so cub scouts kept dumping candy into Michael's lap. It was as exciting as Halloween for him. The Bad: We have more candy canes than Santa's workshop.
  • I did actually rush out and buy a copy of Eclipse on Saturday since I hadn't seen the movie in the theater. The Bad: The movie was really bad. Andy kept cracking jokes, and I think he felt guilty for "ruining" it for. However, his cracks were the best part of the movie. The Good: I paid less for the DVD than if we had seen it in the theater, so hey I wasted less money by waiting.
  • I started my Christmas shopping last night around 7:00. The Good: The mall was dead, so I had the best customer service ever. The Bad: There is really nothing interesting at the mall, so I didn't really make a dent in my shopping list.
  • Michael loves the XBox Kinect. I mean he loves it. We played it at least an hour or two every day since we got it. The Good: Unlike the Wii, this thing really results in a great aerobic workout. It's great for burning off that 4.5 year old energy that it's too cold to burn outside. The Bad: He insists that I play with him. I'm a little sore.
  • Somehow I've become the Christmas cookie queen. It started within my family, but I made the mistake of bringing cookies in to work, and I now have a reputation to maintain. I'm expected to provide everyone's old favorites, but also to try a few new cookies each year. The Bad: I have a cookie dough problem. I love raw cookie dough and end up eating way too much with every batch that I make. This does not jive with my weight maintenance goals for the year. Plus, I'm probably due for a case of salmonella. The good: OMG. COOKIE DOUGH!!!!!
Hmm, there is probably more I could say, but I think I should head over to the Pioneer Woman and see if these might join the list this year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Are You Waving at the TV?

When I got home yesterday, the house was strangely quiet. Andy's car was there, so he had to be home. I started to wonder if he had forgotten to pick up Michael as I wandered through the silent house. When I got to the basement doorway, I saw the light was on so I called down. Sure enough, they were both down there. That's pretty rare, so I wandered down to see what was going on. Andy had pushed the chair back and was waving his hands at our big TV.

Um...whatcha doing?

Andy explained that he had picked up the XBox Kinect when he was out earlier. This game system had barely even hit my radar, so I was surprised to discover it my house. For those of you that are as out of things as I am, the Kinect is a game system like Wii, but instead of using a controller, the system uses cameras to detect your motion. This means that you don't have to worry about throwing a controller at the TV when you get too excited about a game you are playing. Another cool feature is that the camera will actually snap pictures of you while you are playing, leading to much hilarity.

I had plans to go to dinner with my mom last night, but I was going to play with Michael for a while so Andy could get a workout in, so somehow I ended up roped into playing the Adventure game with Michael. Great goggly moggly! What a work out. Michael and I were jumping and ducking and leaning like maniacs. We worked up some great laughter, and a good bit of sweat as well.

As I was playing, I realized that I was wearing a dry clean only sweater. I didn't want it to get gross, so I took it off and continued to bounce around with Michael. After about 30 minutes of this, I needed a break. I was still wearing a long sleeve T-shirt, so I was really getting icky. I sat down and decided to take my shirt off for a few minutes to cool down. Michael continued to play the game. That's when I noticed the camera float up on the screen so that it could snap a picture. AHHHH!!!! I dove out of the way and quickly put my shirt back on. The last thing I need is for someone to hack our system and pull that picture off the XBox.

Michael continued to play, and he too was starting to get pink from the exertion. He had on a hoodie and a shirt, so he asked me for help taking them off. Mid-game, I helped him yank off the hoddie, and managed to take the shirt with it. No biggy. I sat back down and watched the screen again. (So that I could tell Michael to step back every 15 seconds.) As I'm watching I hear Michael yell, "Snap a picture of me! Snap a picture of me!"

As I turn to look at him, the camera pops up on the screen, preparing to snap a picture. What I discover is that Michael had yanked his pants off and was standing there with all his dangley bits blowing in the breeze. The game prompted him to jump and when he did, the camera snapped it's picture. Of my baby. With his arms and legs spread wide and every flopping around.

I squeaked in shock and rushed, laughing to at least get a pair of underwear on his tiny little hiney. I giggle uncontrollably for several minutes, and Michael continued to jump and wiggle his way through the game.

When I finally stopped laughing, I hollered over to Andy that he was going to need to delete a picture or two from the hard drive.

I don't care if that's all we ever get from the Kinect. It was one of the funniest things I've seen in ages and the best belly laugh I've had in I don't know how long. Add to that, the fact that Michael bounced and wiggled for a full two hours and feel asleep without a fight, and I have to say that I think I'm going to like this thing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It couldn't be

After wearing the same glasses for several years, I got a new pair back in January. It was a necessity really. Years of Michael attacks had pretty much destroyed the old pair. They were so bad that I had to tighten one of the screws to keep the lens from falling out. Come to think of it, it's amazing nothing ever happened to the lens considering all the times it did fall out.

I love that the current style for glasses is the fairly narrow frames. After those multicolored, marbled plastic monstrosities in the eighties, sleek and simple is a big improvement. The problem with narrow lenses, however, is that there is always a little too much peripheral vision that's compromised.

With my old glasses, the week spot was always the area above the lenses. It wasn't a big deal, but it did make recognizing people who were coming down the stairs at work difficult to identify while I was heading up. I got called on it a few times, which leads me to believe that I may have occasionally walked right past someone I knew. Oops.

Anyway, when I got the new glasses over the winter, I discovered that their bad spot is under the lenses. On occasion, I would notice that I couldn't see something if I was looking down, and would have to adjust my head to get whatever it was into the field of view of the lenses. It was an annoying adjustment, but at least I wasn't failing to acknowledge people that I've known for ten years.

At some point, the motion became automatic, and I didn't seem to notice problems anymore. It was a nice. But, it didn't seem to last long. Recently, I've been noticing it more often, particularly when I've been filing down my fingernails as they do their annual cold, dry weather disintegration. I've also had to make adjustment to see my iPhone and when Michael holds things up in my face. I've actually been thinking of getting a new pair of glasses that have a little more coverage.

That's when something dawned on me. I'm not having trouble seeing things that are far away. These things are actually close up. And the adjustment? I'm not shifting my head down to get the object focused through the lenses. The adjustment is actually me moving my hands away about 2 or 3 inches.

OMG! It's not my glasses. It's my eyes. And it's not my nearsightedness. It's Presbyopia! You know, that thing that happens to your eyes as you age. But, but, but...I'm not even forty yet. That's not supposed to happen until your...wait, when is that supposed to happen?

So, after wondering about it for a week or so, I finally decided that I needed to find out if my eyesight could really be going old lady. I asked my sister if she's noticed her close up vision going. Sure enough, she has. Her advice? She simply said that I should accept that I'm getting old and go out and buy myself a pair of sparkly readers.

Sigh. I guess she's right. Eventually I'll need to get readers. However, I already wear glasses, so that will be a big nuisance. For now, it's not so bad that I can't just handle it with the arm adjustment. In fact, based on how long my arms are, I think I've got about another 13 or 14 inches to go before I need to suck it up and take the bifocal dive.