Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Not All Magic

The holiday's were a magical time around my house. Of course, there was Santa Magic. Michael's school sent him home with "Magic Reindeer Food" to spread on the lawn on Christmas Eve. Who knew that flying reindeer eat Quaker Oats with glitter?! We also had the Tooth Fairy magic, when Michael lost his second tooth several days before Christmas. That last one may have involved mommy pulling that tooth a little hard so she wouldn't have to be the freaking Tooth Fairy and Santa on the same night, because sometimes there is just too much magic.

In fact, I think there was so much magic in December that some people have forgotten that magic doesn't really exist. So, as a reminder, here is a list of things that do not happen by magic alone. If you can think of others, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Things that do not happen by magic:
  • Laundry
  • Vacuuming
  • Oil Changes (My car really should yell this at me every time I start it up)
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Homework
  • Tolerating a child who keeps holding things WAY TOO CLOSE to my face (Why does he do that?)
  • Weight control
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Sweeping and mopping (That Sorcerer's Apprentice clip in Fansatia? Huge lie!)
  • Removing teeth from under children's pillows and replacing them with money.
  • Changing sheets in the middle of the night
  • Blog posts
So what did I forget?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Randomness

Shhh...I'm not supposed to be posting today to protest SOPA. But really, me not posting will not have any impact on SOPA because I'm not exactly a powerhouse on the internet. (Big internet search engine, I'm looking at you. Just think of the statement you could have made!) For those of us that are the tiny voices on the internet, I agree with Laura that contacting your Representatives will have more impact than not blogging for the day.

It's Wednesday and I have random thoughts going through my mind, so the obvious thing to do now is a randomness post! Here goes.

  • Monday night, during dinner, I asked Michael if he knew why he had the day off from school. He did. They covered the topic pretty well for kindergarten social studies. I was impressed and pleasantly surprised. I even got to read over some of the material they used when I checked through his homework folder last night.
  • While we were discussing MLK jr. I realized that in my entire time in public school, K-12, we NEVER covered MLK jr. or the civil rights movement. My kindergartner has had more formal education on the subject than I have. It's disturbing, but at least things are heading in the right direction.
  • I had to work on Monday, so Andy and Michael had a Daddy day. I came home to find them sitting together on the floor playing a video game. They were having so much fun that they hardly noticed me when I came in. It was completely adorable and also gave me a little bit of quiet time to decompress from the long day.
  • While they continued to play video games, I made dinner. It's getting increasingly difficult for me to read instructions on food packaging. To read the instructions on the Texas Toast box I had to extend my almost to it's full reach. I strongly suspect that if I can't grow my arms any longer I'm going to be need bifocals in the next year or so. It almost makes me want to get laser correction so that I would only have to deal with reading glasses. Almost.
  • I was feeling pretty brave that night too, so I grabbed a flashlight and asked Michael to let me check for his 6 year molars. I saw one coming through on the lower left side of his mouth. There may have been one on the lower right side, but I wasn't able to move my head back far enough to see properly. Since I don't have bifocals, I'm just going to assume that it's there.
  • And finally, Michael has gotten his appetite back after last week's Strep infection. We let him eat a little too much junk over the weekend, so it's been a fight to get him to eat close to healthy again. Last night he really, really wanted a snack even though he hadn't eaten dinner. I was about to say "no" when he started begging me to let him have humus and crackers. I sighed and "gave in" and then snickered to myself as he downed half a container of CHICK PEA PASTE. Yeah, who got fooled there?
  • Actually, since I don't have bifocals, it could have been me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teething Sucks! Round 2

I didn't blog back when Michael was an infant. If I had, you would know just how much I hated when Michael was teething. It was horrible. He chewed on everything he could get his teeth on; including his crib, lead paint coated Thomas the Train toys, and me. Not only that, but it lead to many, many nights of lost sleep for everyone. It was so bad, I actually printed out the ADA's Primary Tooth Eruption Chart and kept it posted at my desk so I could keep track of how many teeth were left.

Today, I actually printed out the Permanent Tooth Eruption Chart and posted it at my desk. Why? Because after losing two teeth in December, Michael is teething again. And, it's about as much fun this time around as it was the last.

Michael constantly has his fingers, his shirt, or other random objects in his mouth. At times he's chewing with the two front teeth, but I've seen him with his fingers jammed all the way in the back so I'm wondering if those 6 year molars are working their way in too. If I'm brave, I may grab a flashlight and try to check things out. Knowing Michael however, I'll be sure to keep my fingers out of there. I wouldn't put it past him to think that biting me would be hilarious.

The shirt chewing seems to bother Andy the most. I agree, it's not too charming for Michael to walk around with a stretched out and wet shirt collar, but the fingers bother me the most. Not because I hate seeing him with his fingers in his mouth, but because of the germs his grubby little fingers are taking along for the ride.

He had a half day last Tuesday, so he spent the afternoon with my mom. When I went to pick him up, I watched him take a bite of a doughnut and I knew by the way he swallowed that something was wrong. My guess was either a cold or strep. He refused to eat dinner, woke up vomiting in the middle of the night, and was burning up the next morning. Let's just say that the strep test was simply a formality.

Given a few days of antibiotics and rest, Michael is fine. But, as long as he's chewing his fingers I suspect we'll be seeing repeats.

Teething round 2 tally: 3 nights of lost sleep, 2 days of school missed, one day of work missed, and a trip to the pediatrician's office.

Oh yeah, and just for fun. Primary tooth teething included 20 teeth. Permanent tooth teething? 32 teeth. Is it too soon to get his wisdom teeth out?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where it All Started

I was thinking about my hair stylist problems last night. As I said, I have to be realistic and own up to the fact that part of it is me. Not only do I not know how to express what I want done, I may also be a little over sensitive when they make comments I don't like. I probably didn't need to stop going to the woman that said, "Eww, what's this?" in reference to the hair spray on my hair.

I realized that maybe it's my mom's fault. See, when I was a kid, my mom had this thing about wanting me to look like Shirley Temple. Wait, if you factor in that she also tried to make me take tap lessons, it's probably fair to say that she wanted me to be Shirley Temple. Contrary child that I was, the last thing I wanted to be was anyone else. However, she never took that into consideration when she took me to get my hair cut. I know for a fact that she told at least one stylist to make me look like Shirley Temple. I remember crying for so long after that that my mom finally gave in and let me wash the curls out of my hair. I suspect that this order may have been given to a different stylist when I was in 8th grade. I don't think I let my mom take me to get my hair cut after that. I've also disliked getting my hair cut ever since then.

Several of you left good comments yesterday about how it's just too much work to let your hair grow out once you have colored it. I liked Claudia's because I not only want to let my hair go gray naturally, it was also a timely comment because my mom's hair is growing in now that she's been out of chemo for a while.

There have been a few surprises with my mom's hair. The first is how long it takes for hair to grow in. She has a full head of hair, and it's over an inch long, but it is SO SHORT still. I figured that since she always kept her hair in a pixie cut, it wouldn't take long to grow long enough for that. But I'm realizing just how long hair needs to be simply to be considered a short haircut.

The second surprise has been her hair color. She has been dying her hair for so long, she had no idea how gray it was. She thought that she just had some gray near her temples. Nope. She has a full head of salt and pepper hair. Maybe still a little more on the pepper side, but I don't think she's too happy about it. Personally, since I seem to have gotten my greying genes from her, I'm pretty happy that at 69 she's not completely silver yet.

The third surprise, I may be secretly enjoying. Sometimes when the hair first grows in after chemo, it comes in curly. And boy, is my mom's hair curly. Even if it was long enough for the pixie cut right now, it's way too wild for the style. When she first noticed that it was curly, she was excited. She's always wanted curly hair. But as anyone with enough curl to frizz on a humid day knows, the grass is always greener on the other side. Yesterday she was complaining that it's a different kind of curly on the sides than it is on the top. Oh, yes, I know all about that. It's such a royal pain in the hiney. So, she's discovering that curly hair isn't everything she dreamed it would be.

Personally, I hope it stays curly until hheir hair is down to her shoulders. I've told her since the day her hair started falling out that I'll treat her to a great haircut when it grows back in. If it stays curly, I'm going to pull the stylist to the side before hand, give her a $20 bill, and tell her to make my mom look like Shirley Temple.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

At Least...

I have a problem keeping hair stylists. I go through one every year or two. A few of them have left their salons, but most of them I have left. I finally came to the conclusion that maybe the problem wasn't with the stylists, but with me. One or two bad ones, possible. Every single one of them? Yeah, that's probably me.

My biggest problem is that I do not know how to ask for what I want when I get my hair cut. In fact, it's probably fair to say that half the time I don't even know what I want. I just want the stylist to read my mind and give me an amazing hair cut that I love, even though my hair is too fine for most of my dream haircuts. It's not reasonable to assume that a stylist can do for me what I cannot even express.

I've been working harder at trying to explain what I want and I've found a stylist that I really like. For once, I've found someone that doesn't cut my hair too short when I explain that I'm trying to let my hair grow out so I can put it in a pony tail when I run. She takes time before each cut to make sure she understands what I'm looking for and I've been very happy with the job she's done.

Finally.

Toward the end of my last haircut, she asked me if I've ever thought about coloring my hair. I explained that I had just finally grown out the last of the hair color and was looking to keep my hair natural. "Well maybe you could just make it look a little deeper?"

Ugh. So not what I needed. I have a lovely shade of mouse brown hair, and there is nothing wrong with that. Coloring my hair is expensive, time consuming, damaging, and time and again I end up spending a year or so growing out dry, brassy hair. Why would I go down that path AGAIN?

I swear up and down that I'm committed to my natural color. I want to set an example that you don't need to have a model's head of hair to be a kick-ass project manager, wife, or mom. Could my hair look better? Probably, but why? Why isn't my hair good enough the way it is?

That's when I start getting wishy washy. I see myself in the mirror and think, wow, maybe it would look better if I just added some depth to my color. Maybe she's right. What's wrong with wanting to look pretty? Maybe I should...

Then, I stopped myself. I've been through this before. I know where this ends up. I end up spending a lot of money only to discover once again that I never like my hair better when it's color. I always end up growing it out again. Also, if I'm going to set a good example, then I just need to embrace the mousy hair and own it.

I admit, it's hard to stick to my guns. It's hard to overcome the societal pressure to fight to look young and attractive for as long as I can. It's hard to accept the fact that I could look better.

But, I turned down the suggestion that I color my hair. My stylist's response?

"Well, at least it's not gray!"

Cause, you know, I look old enough to be getting gray by now, right?

Awesome.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Death of a Gingerbread House

I'd like to take a moment and thank Mo Willems' Pigeon for making Michael's begging so very much more animated. What used to be limited to, "please, please, pretty please!" has now expanded to include coercion and flat out bribes. While many parents would find this annoying, I'm quite enjoying it. I love the expanded use of language and the creativity that Michael is bringing to his attempts to get me to do things I don't want to do. I also enjoy the absurdity of Michael trying to bribe me to buy a Matchbox car with a thousand dollars that he doesn't have. Especially when he does have the 97 cents to buy it himself!

Michael used his new found skills when he discovered a gingerbread house kit at the grocery store before Christmas. The kit looked easy and was on sale, so I decided to give in. Andy and I then spent the next five days explaining over and over that we would build the damn thing on Christmas Eve AND NOT ONE MINUTE SOONER! Followed with me kicking myself for giving in to him. It's all your fault Mo Willems!

On Christmas Eve, we finally opened the kit and put the house together. As far as kits go, it was probably the easiest kit I've ever used. Buy the time we were done, the house looked pretty decent. Michael was very proud.

"I can't wait until we get to eat it." He announced.

Oh. Michael didn't realize that just because gingerbread houses are edible, it doesn't actually mean you want to eat them. So, I tried to explain to him that they are more for decoration than for eating. He was disappointed that we wouldn't be having his gingerbread house for Christams desert.

"Mommy, if you don't eat them, what do you do with them?"

Ah, good question. And, thanks to Laura and her family's Gingerbread House Smashing Tradition, I had a good answer. Without missing a beat, I explained that you smash it. It turns out that the idea of smashing a gingerbread house is even more appealing to a five year old than eating it.

On one of the lazy days toward the end of winter break, I decided we needed to stir things up a little. So I pulled these out of the basement.

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There is nothing like a rubber mallet to put a smile on a child's face. Michael hopped right up and was on it in a flash.

He was a little tentative at first.

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But that didn't last long.
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In fact, he discovered just how much fun smashing a gingerbread house could be!

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It was about this point that one of my neighbors pulled up to say hello. I'm sure she drove off with a few questions on her mind.

It's small projects like this that remind me of just how persistent Michael really is. I suspect that most kids would take a couple of good whacks at the house and then wander off to find something else to bash with the mallet. Not Michael. Oh no. He was not going to be satisfied until he had completely obliterated that little candy house. So he stood out in the cold and eventually ended up dancing on the crumbs of his gingerbread house until they were dust.

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Well, at least it made clean up easy. We simply swept up the crumbs and tossed them out back for the birds to eat. But, it does make me wonder about where this personality trait will lead us in the future.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012

The ill fated 2011 is over. I know I'm not the only one who had a rough year, and I'm hoping that all of my friends and family who struggled through 2011 find 2012 to be a better year. This is the time when everyone does their resolutions and sets their goals for the coming year, and I'm no different. I typically look over my life and come up with my goals based on where I want to go over the next 12 months. Being a program management type person, this typically involves a list with measurable objectives that I can track throughout the year.

I'm not going to do that this year.

The only concrete goal I have this year is to lose the 10 pounds I gained over the past 12 months. I've lost those 10 pounds before, I can lose them again. In fact, I'll probably lose them again and again over the years. I'm fine with that. I'm still 35 pounds under my highest weight, so it's all good.

This year, I will not be tracking the miles I've moved or the minutes I've worked out. There will be no spreadsheets. Thanks to doing that in the past, I've established a pretty good routine of working out 3-4 times a week, and I'll stick with that routine. It's working, so no reason to change it.

A more vague fitness goal is to do something about rediscovering my waist. I know I have one somewhere, it's just a matter of doing the right kind of work so that I can find it again. One reason is comfort. I have long, skinny legs and to get a good fit on my waist I have to go baggy with my legs or to get a good fit on my legs I have to squish the daylights out of my tummy. The second reason is so I can avoid those awkward moments when an acquaintance is looking me over trying to figure out if I'm pregnant or not, and hoping they make the right choice not to say anything about it because I'm not.

I have other things in mind for 2012, but I don't know how to express them well or how to execute them.

Humor is a very important element in my life. Everyone in my family has a great sense of humor and I have been joking and laughing since I was a child. It's a key feature in how we communicate and how we tell stories. It's part of how we connect with one another. We have running jokes that have been going on for 30+ years at this point. Humor is interwoven throughout the threads of my life.

I lost my humor last year, and with it I lost laughter, joy, and the connections that it brings. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I'm a story teller and you know that I often focus on the hilarity I find in everyday life. Without humor, I struggled to write posts. Not because nothing was going on, but because the language I use to express myself was silenced. For those of you with blogs, you know that I used to leave frequent comments. I love comments on my blog, so I assume people love comments on their blogs. But without my humor, I often started to post but would delete my comments because I couldn't finish them. I was there all along, but I was silent.

I don't want to be silent this year. I want my voice back. I want my humor back.

In December, I decided to take a break. I took a break from exercising. Some nights, I did work on our bathroom project. Other nights I took a nap on the sofa while Andy and Michael were at karate. I also relaxed my diet a bit and ate some of those foods that I normally fight so hard to resist. At the end of my work year, I even used two precious vacation days so that I could have several quiet days to myself before the craziness of the winter break hit. It recharged my energy and allowed me to take care of all of those stupid little things that have been nagging at me for months. It allowed me to collect my thoughts for the first time in a year.

I'd like to say my sense of humor is back. I'd like to say that I'll be posting frequently like I used to. I want that to be true. But, I'm too afraid to commit. As I said yesterday, last year tore away the illusion that things will always work out. I know I've gone too far the other direction, in that I know fear that something bad is always just around the corner. I'm afraid to trust that the good feeling I have now will linger.

But, I will say this, I'm going to try and laugh this year. I know it doesn't sound like much, but really, it means everything.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011

2011 was a hard year. Really hard. It started while I was recovering from the worst illness I've ever had and from some personal issues that knocked me flat. It looked promising until the evening that my mom found a lump in her breast. It pretty much sucked hard after that. CANCER SUCKS.

I don't want to dwell on the cancer thing, but there is one thing I'd like to say about it. Not only does it devastate those who have it, but it's also a challenge for the people that love them. And one of the hardest things about it is that it never goes away. Even if all of my mom's treatments where 100% successful and she is truly cured, there always remains a kernel of "what if" that remains in the back of your mind. I suppose over time, that gets easier to deal with, but for now the knowledge that it could pop up again at any moment still weighs heavily on my mind. I no longer have the illusion that things are good and they will always be good. Granted, it's always an illusion, but for day to day living it a very practical one.

But enough about that. It's time to focus on some of the positives from last year. Because, despite a lot of awful, the year was filled with many wonderful things as well.

One of the big joys of the year was Michael turning five. Five, while sometimes a real challenge, has been amazing. The little boy who clinged to me at preschool drop off everyday has transformed into a big boy who loves kindergarten and grins like mad when he climbs off the bus. At the beginning of the year he still refused to leave his bed without someone in the room with him. Now, we wake up on weekend mornings and find him playing quietly in the living room already dressed for the day. And, while he's taken to killing zombies in ipad apps, he still wants me to talk for his stuffed animals while he shows them how to play. He has gotten sweeter, and funnier, and more compassionate. Five has been awesome.

There were other joys throughout the year. On a personal level, my career really took off. I did some of my best work and received a lot of recognition for it. I'm very proud of the work I did, of the people I work with and for, and I'm grateful that I get to go into a job I love everyday.

In other personal achievements, 2011 was a year of significant growth for me. I've struggled hard with balancing being a wife, a mom, an employee and simply being myself. I always want to put everyone first, but by failing to set personal boundaries, I was never happy with any kind of balance I tried for. This year really pushed the need to start setting boundaries and I feel I made good progress. Andy really helped me to do this by supporting my decisions and reminding me to take care of myself when he saw me faltering. I would never have made so much progress without his support. He did this, even while he was picking up the slack for me while I was helping my mom. It's great to know that someone you love has your back.

There were also some wonderful experiences. I will never forget the joy on both Michael and Andy's faces as Michael got to battle Darth Vader on our trip to Disney World. Or how freaking awesome it felt to run the MS Mud Run with Andy. I've never enjoyed being tired and beat up so much in my life. We also had trips to the beach, quiet mornings spent snuggled together on the sofa, and endless stuffed animal fights that left all of us giggling. They were the sweet to all of the bitter and they are all moments I will cherish.

2011, you were really hard. You striped my soul bare, but you gave it room for amazing growth. You dealt blow after blow, but in between were moments of solace and joy. You put up roadblocks, but the detours lead me on paths I might otherwise have passed by. 2011, you were a journey that ultimately took me further than I ever expected. I'm wiser and stronger for all of it.

But 2011, you can still suck it.