Thursday, March 31, 2011

Preparing for Friday

Is it safe?  I'd say no.
Get ready for a few days of not hearing from me again.  I'm sure you're all disappointed...okay, not really.  Tomorrow is Oral Surgery part Deux - the Wisdom Tooth Insult.  Yes, after many years, those vestigial jerks residing in my head are coming out.

I scheduled it on a Friday so I'll have all weekend long to lay about in a medicated stupor and (hopefully) I'll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Monday morning when I have to resemble a human being again.

Luckily, I have the most awesome in-laws in the world.  They're going to help me out on Friday by being honorary toddler-wranglers until Brian gets home.  That way, I can go ahead and enter my medicated stupor with no regrets.

As with the last time I had oral surgery, and if not more so now that multiple teeth are coming out, I am planning for a week of eating a diet that resembles Jack's - all mush.  The only problem is that there's only so much ice cream and yogurt I can eat.  I know, it sounds like a horrid problem to have, but I crave savory foods and most soft foods are sweet.  I'm not going to suggest that someone make green bean yogurt, though (someone already has, though...YoBaby makes a Green Bean and Pear Yogurt that Jack used to love).  Maybe I'll eat spoonfuls of guacamole.

I'm also hoping that I won't be really disturbed at seeing and hearing teeth come out of my head.  Not to mention that I have a wicked gag reflex and have been known to throw up on healthcare providers.  That anesthesiologist was probably never the same, but I was in labor so you can't totally blame me.

The groceries have been bought (husband-friendly foods plus yogurt), the house has been cleaned, and the laundry has been...laundered.  I'm turning the house over to the care of the husband.  God help us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Mrs. Doubtfire Makes Me Cry

Nothing says family fun like a man in drag with
synthetic breasts all ablaze.
Debbie-downer post here.

I spent this last Friday night watching a movie I've seen many times over the years and to which I have always felt a strange connection - Mrs. Doubtfire.

No, I do not routinely dress in drag.  The connection I feel is that my parents are divorced.  This movie came out around the time that my parents split up, and it always hit too close to home for me.

Like a glutton for punishment, I can't ever not watch it.  Other people watch this movie and laugh, but I watch it and cry.

I don't take strong stands on many things, but this is one that I do.  Divorce, in my opinion, is one of the most devastating things to ever happen to a child.  It is an act that forever shakes a child's ability to trust and feel secure.  That feeling stays with that child through adulthood.  Divorce is a destructive force against the institution of the family.

I remember watching an episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8 in which Jon Gosselin claimed that a separation, and an eventual divorce, was ultimately in the best interest of the children.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  Ultimately, the best thing for children is for their parents to get along, love each other, and stick together.  The reality is that it doesn't always happen, but parents shouldn't kid themselves that it is good for the children.

When I watch Mrs. Doubtfire, it reopens the wounds that never fully closed up.  I watch those kids, and yes, I know they're fictional, going through their parents divorce and I weep for them.  I can't say that I feel for the parents, because I have honestly never been through that end of a divorce, but that implies no lack of respect for the pain parents must go through.  I'm sure that divorce isn't an easy decision, even when it is what the individual wants.

I feel like marriage isn't as sacred as it once was.  Divorce has become far too easy of an out, in my opinion, and it's far too commonly accepted as a normal part of our society.  I think we also live in a society in which divorce is so common that the consequences on our children aren't really considered in the process.  Lots of other families do it, so my kid will be okay, too.

Here's my reality...your kid will cope.  Kids aren't going to become sociopaths as a result of divorce.  They may suffer in school, but they may not.  They might be depressed and have other issues, but they might not.  Your kids will, in all likelihood, be just fine, but will they ever really be okay?

Your kids will accept their situation.  They will eventually come to realize that their parents are incompatible, especially if the divorce was messy, but they won't hold out hope that their parents will ever get back together.  They'll make lives for themselves.  They may, or may not, grow up and consider dissolving their own marriages.  Some will, but others will tackle marriage with a new resolve.  I, for one, consider myself to be one of the ones who approaches marriage with a "failure is not an option" attitude.

Parents can ease the transition for their kids.  Don't play games.  Don't use the children as pawns.  Always speak kindly of the other parent, even if you have to lie about it.

As I dab at my eyes, I weep a little tear for the children who are going through divorce right now.  You will never be the same, but you'll make it through this okay.  I promise.  In the words of Mrs. Doubtfire:

"Where there is love, those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart forever.  All my love to you, poppet.  Bye-bye."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Brings Fear

Run for your lives!
I love most things about Spring.  The playground is an inviting place (sometimes) for Jack to run, climb, or just pace back and forth.  Dinners can be filled with grilled food, which I'm too incompetent to prepare.  That's what husbands are for, in my opinion.  Warm evenings can be spent on the deck with a cold beer or a chilled glass of wine, whichever suits your fancy.

There is one thing that strikes fear into my heart at the advent of every Spring.  The slight buzzing in the air reminds me of it.  I'm talking about stinging insects.  We are not friends.

I am allergic to stinging insects.  Unfortunately, I haven't been stung by one yet that doesn't send me running for the nearest doctor for a humiliating episode of pulling my pants down to receive two shots in the butt.  Whoever says that shots in the butt don't hurt is a friggin' liar...they hurt, and they hurt bad.

I am lucky in that I don't have anaphylactic reactions to the stings, but they have gotten progressively worse over the years.  It went from a yellow jacket sting that made my leg swell in the 7th grade, to a yellow jacket sting in the neck (it went down my shirt) in the 9th grade that made my whole body swell, to a wasp sting a few years ago that made my foot begin to resemble a balloon.  Each time, I am rewarded with a trip to the doctor to deflate my inflamed body part and a few days of forced rest.

The little buggers seem to seek me out.  How else can you explain one going down my shirt?  Or getting in my shoe?

So, as I head out to get the mail today, I hear the tell-tale "buzz".  I scan the skies for any sign of my sworn enemy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Week. From. Hell.

An understatement.
You know those times when you really overextend yourself and then come to the "Holy S#!t!" realization that your life for the next several days is gonna suck?  Welcome to this week.

Sometimes, life just throws crap at you.  You can dodge it, and possibly fall over, or you can don your best protective gear and prepare to take one for the team.

I have 5 (yes, 5) different appointments this week, 3 of which involve doctors.  This may not sound like a lot, after all I am a stay-at-home Mom, but anything outside of Jack's routine, especially involving doctors, results in confusion, chaos, and mayhem.  This makes schedules like this week infinitely more challenging.

Let's start with Monday.  I've got a dentist's appointment at 8:30 AM to take a look at my wisdom teeth.  This was one of the last appointments I made for this week, but seeing that dentists aren't the most flexible with scheduling, I thought I should take what I could get, especially since I want to schedule getting the wisdom teeth taken care of one of the next couple of Fridays, before my life gets really crazy.

Next, a mere 2 1/2 hours later, Jack has his 2-year well-child check-up.  Again, this was something I scheduled about 6 months ago, so I had no idea that this week was going to be psycho.  Let me start by saying that Jack is notoriously bad at the pediatrician's office.  He screams.  He paces.  He gets uncomfortably close to other people in the waiting room, all the while ignoring their presence.  He swats at the doctor to the point of having to be restrained.  I always have to bring back-up to these appointments.  It's tons of fun and results in meltdowns all day from then on out.

On to Tuesday.  We have Gymboree at the regular time, which hasn't been as much fun recently.  I'm a little annoyed that Jack is still in Level 4.  He's not doing any pretend play, which is why he hasn't been moved up.  He's the oldest in his class by far.  Until this class, moving up was always based on physical skills, which he lagged a little behind in, but not a lot.  I know Jack doesn't care (he largely ignores the presence of everyone else in his class), but the other parents seem to notice and I just want him being with kids closer to his own age.

After Gymboree, I have another appointment...scheduled to start at NAPTIME.  I must have been on crack when I scheduled this.  Luckily, it's just someone coming to the house, so hopefully I can get Jack down for his nap a smidgen early.  If not, can we say freak-out?

Flash forward to Saturday.  Mason has an early morning vet appointment because they didn't run a heartworm test on him when he went in January for his dental.  Now that he needs a refill on his heartworm medicine, he has to go in just for the test.  This wouldn't be a big deal, except that Jack hates the vet's office, too.  He reacts with the same screaming, protesting, pacing, etc. as he does at the pediatrician's office.  It makes these appointments fun, so I always try to schedule them for times when Brian can stay with Jack.  Poor's hard enough having a thermometer stuck up your butt without your baby brother screaming in your ear.

Then, if I get my way, my wisdom teeth will be yanked out of my head on Friday morning.  This will make for an enjoyable day, if not weekend, full of painkillers, I'm sure.  I'm aiming for Friday because the following week is Spring Break and I can illicit help from my mother-in-law if I'm still doped up.

Here's hoping I make it through with my sanity.

Editor's Note:  I have now managed to schedule my wisdom tooth extraction for Friday.  I must be out of my friggin' mind.  WTF was I thinking?!?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rule Number One

You have to wonder who approves these things.
Recently, I read a post from Lydia and Kate from "Rants from Mommyland" in which they asked their kids what was "Rule Number One" in their respective houses.  The results were pretty funny.  Oh, from the mouths of babes...

Of course, seeing that Jack doesn't talk and discipline is still a very foreign concept to him, I decided to brainstorm what would be the top ten "rule number ones" in our house.

10.  No "choo-choos" in the potty.  You should respect the "choo-choos".

9.  There will be ample supplies of English muffins, vanilla yogurt, and Cheerios in the house.  Disregard for this rule will result in the wrath of Jack.

8.  Sprout is never allowed to malfunction.  See the consequence listed above.

7.  English muffins will always be placed butter-side down on the plates of toddlers.

6.  Diaper bags shall always contain the following:  more diapers than you think you need, at least one Thomas the Tank Engine, Cheerios, and a sippy cup.  Leaving home without one of these items will result in horrid consequences.

5.  Don't sing while The Wiggles or anyone on Thomas and Friends are singing.  I can't compare to The Wiggles (apparently) and neither can you.

4.  Jack eats first, Brian eats second, and I (hopefully) eat sometime after that.

3.  During baseball season, thou shalt not ask to watch anything other than baseball.  Don't so will result in pouting and guilt.

2.  Olives are not permitted.  Neither is goat cheese.

And the number one rule...

1.  The old adage is that if Mama's not happy, nobody's happy.  This is not true.  If Jack's not happy, nobody's happy.

What are the unwritten rules in your house?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Coffee Good, Caffeine Bad

Morning Joe, you are who I want to wake up to.
Here's a little kitchen confession...I'm not supposed to have caffeine.  I type this as I nurse a cup of coffee.  Hypocritical?  Yes.

I've given up most major sources of caffeine in my diet, namely soda, but tea and coffee is a little harder to part with.

You might be thinking that coffee and tea comes in a decaf variety, and you'd be right.  However, I have two problems with decaf coffees and teas: the price and the taste.

First, the price of decaf coffee and tea is ridiculous.  I know that coffee and tea has to go through further processing to remove the caffeine, but seriously?  An extra $2 for it?  It's "the man" sticking it to the healthy-eating consumers once again.

Second, the taste is different.  You can argue with me all you want on this, but really, it is.  Something's just missing.  I think that caffeine imparts a sort of flavor that is missing in decaf.  Admittedly, this might all totally be in my mind and if you told me that decaf had caffeine in it, I might not notice a difference.  However, I do, and it bugs me.

I'm a bit of a coffee snob.  I have lived with people who made horrid coffee and worked somewhere that served Royal Cup of Crap coffee (the worst corporate coffee ever), so I savor and cherish those good Maxwell House moments when I get them.

Besides, I need something to help get me going in the morning.  When you wake up to a toddler who, from the get-go, is ready to hit the ground running, you need something more than the unleaded version of the morning joe.

I have my annual check-up at the beginning of May and I'm sure I'll get a lecture about cutting my caffeine intake, again.  I've cut it down to one cup a day this year, so hopefully that'll be enough.  If they make me give up that, watch out.  I'll not be a fun person to be around at 8 AM.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Colds and Toddlers are Incompatible

Amidst the fun of birthdays, Gymboree, and multiple meltdowns this week (both mine and Jack's), we've had an unwelcome guest to contend with - a cold.

Brian and I both battled this same cold.  Brian had it first, which is rare as he, in his own words, "never gets sick".  A couple of weeks later, in the midst of recovering from oral surgery, I come down with the cold.  Boy, that was fun, but at least Jack didn't get it.  We felt lucky when a week and a half later, he was still cold-free.

We were so wrong.  The sniffles came last Saturday.  The snot was soon to follow.  Fantastic.  Luckily, this cold seemed benign compared to colds that Jack has suffered from in the past, but it still comes with it's share of fun.

First, anytime Jack has post-nasal drip, he throws up during meals.  Even this hasn't been that bad this time around, but no one wants to clean up Spaghetti-Os that are making an unscheduled reappearance.

Second, and still on feeding, Jack doesn't want to eat when he has a cold.  This morning, he had a quarter of an English muffin and milk.  I look at this and think that my baby's starving, but I can't force him to eat.  Instead, I've kept a steady supply of Cheerios at the ready for when he decides to eat.  All of this is in the context of our current hunger strike, so it makes it hard for me to watch how little my son chooses to eat.

Third, there is the endless supply of nose drippings, all of which Jack does not want me to wipe.  I come toward him with a tissue (they're the lotion ones, too, so no pain) and you'd think I was approaching him with a gun.  He starts waving his arms and screaming.  The result is that the nose doesn't get cleaned without excessive force, which results in the nose simply not being wiped most of the time.

Meanwhile, there is a Mommy at the periphery.  That Mommy is slowly slipping into madness.

I know colds, and frequent ones at that, are a part of toddlerhood, but it doesn't mean that we have to get along.  A few snuggle days and we'll survive.  I'm all for finding a magic bullet cure for colds, because I swear that they're harder on Moms than they are on toddlers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birthday Party Freak-Out Part Deux

Scenes from Jack's 1st Birthday.  Tons o' fun.
Yesterday, Jack turned two.  This was a momentous occasion for both Brian and me.  I mean, we have a two-year old!

Jack didn't see this as Earth-shattering.  Not at all.  In fact, he made it clear that this day should be like any other, or we would suffer the consequences.

In my zeal to create a perfect birthday, I neglected to adhere to Jack's exact routine.  The consequences were disastrous.

Brian stayed home from work to spend the day with us.  This was nice, because last year he was so busy at work that we barely saw him during the two weeks surrounding Jack's 1st birthday.  It was nice to have him home with us today.  We decided to start the celebration by heading out to the playground, just the 3 of us. Once we got there, it wasn't just the three of us.  It was the three of us, plus a day-care class's worth of children.

This was bad.  Very bad.  Jack isn't a groups-of-people person.

Jack was fine, for a while.  He went down the tunnel slide.  We went on the swings.  Then, he went over to the sandbox.  He started climbing in and out, in and out, over and over.  A little girl handed him a shovel.  He smacked it out of her hand.


A few more minutes of pushing kids out of his way in the sandbox and we manage to guide him towards another slide.  This slide suddenly gets bombarded by other kids.  I can see it in his face.  It's much too much.  He heads towards the gate to the playground and starts to scramble to get picked up.  Once he's in Brian's arms, he starts fretting and squirming, as though he wants to climb on top of Brian's head.  He's starting to melt down.  So, we pick up and go as quick as we can.

Flash forward to tonight.  We did the typical birthday thing...birthday presents, special dinner, and cupcakes.  Family came over.  It was fun, but then everyone went home.  Suddenly, the world collapsed.  Jack was a crying, fussing, clingy mess.  He didn't want anything, not choo-choos, not songs, nothing.  He was done.

It hit me that his routine hadn't been the same today.  In my efforts to create a birthday wonderland, I neglected the one thing that Jack thrives upon...absolute consistency.  As I was holding him in my arms, wishing the tears away, I couldn't help but feel awful.  My poor little boy.

I kissed him, put him to bed, and the sobbing stopped.  He sounded happy again.  He was in his bed, his room, his sanctuary.  All was right with the world.

He's two and he has certain way of doing things.  Jack is Jack and I wouldn't have him any other way.  Ultimately, I was so proud to be his Mommy on his birthday, tears and all.  Maybe next year the cupcakes will be a bigger hit.  Until then, here's to the (hopefully) not-so-terrible twos!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Baby Turns 2

Jack at about 20 minutes old.
I can't get over it.  My baby boy has turned 2.  Well, technically, he turns 2 at 8:45 PM, but he'll hopefully be asleep by then, so we'll celebrate now.

I felt this same way last year when he turned 1.  Where did my baby go?  It seemed like I was pregnant for years!  Suddenly, a year has passed in the blink of an eye.  It hasn't been an easy year for many reasons, but it seems like time moves so quickly when you're a parent.

While I don't get emotional too often, I do get a bit misty looking back at those first few pictures taken in the first few hours.  March 23, 2009 was a stressful day to say the least.  I had already been in the hospital in labor and delivery more than a day when I was told that I needed an emergency c-section.  I was so tired and drugged that I really didn't know what was going on as they wheeled me in that operating room.  The epidural made me incredibly sick and I was fighting passing out.  A few minutes later, I heard that little cry.  I couldn't see him as they held him over the sheet.  Brian went to go see Jack.  Before I whispered "I'm in pain", I asked the anesthesiologist, "Is he okay?".  I heard a "Yes" and felt like I could finally rest.  The pain, the complications, the bed-rest suddenly seemed worth it.  Everything changed.

I woke up in recovery some time later and saw Brian standing over a bassinet.  I still hadn't seen Jack, so I asked for my son.  Whoever does not believe in love at first sight has never held their newborn child.  The first time I saw his perfect little face, I was hopelessly in love.  I had never seen anything so beautiful.  It was as if someone turned on a light and I could suddenly see what was ahead of me.

I used to do many things to try to protect myself.  Suddenly, life was no longer about me.  It was about him.

Fast forward to 2 years later, and I can honestly say that I'm more in love every day.  Sure, there are ups and downs.  We're in a hitting phase and I'm a popular target.  However, Jack kisses me these days.  He hugs.  He cups my face in his hands and looks at me like I'm the most beautiful person in the world.  He reads to me and makes me "coffee" in his play kitchen.  While he no longer has that "new baby" smell (quite the opposite after going to the park), I never get tired of breathing in a whiff from his downy blonde hair.  His laugh still lifts my spirits and his little voice is music to my ears, even if it's just babble.

So, Happy Birthday to my sweet baby boy.  I am so lucky to be your Mommy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Alright, I consider myself pretty easy-going when it comes to child-rearing.  For the most part, if it works for you and is not harmful to your children, good for you.

I had heard about Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, so when I was able to get a copy at the library, I dove into it to see what all the fuss was about.

Now, I've met my share of women whom I might consider to be "tiger moms".  If you remember my post Pressuring Your Preschooler, that woman stands out in my mind.

Amy Chua beats them all.  I don't normally take this stand against other parents, but she genuinely encompasses the essence of crazy and over-bearing.

She starts her book with a list of the things that her children are not allowed to do, which includes:

  • Go to playdates/sleepovers
  • Get a grade other than an A
  • Not play an instrument
  • Choose the instrument they play
  • Do extracurriculars that haven't been chosen for them
Have fun might as well have been on the list, too.

Chua forces her children to rush home from school to practice their instruments for hours a day or more.  She doesn't allow them to go to playdates or sleepovers because they might be exposed to bad behavior and they should want to be at home anyway.  She goes as far as to insult, punish, and humiliate her children if they can't master a particular musical piece.  She believes that children don't know what is or is not good for them, so they should not be given choices.  Failure is not an option.

Houston, we have a problem.  Chua bases her parenting style on Chinese parenting.  So, Chinese parenting, I believe, works best on Chinese children.  However, Chua's children are second-generation Americans.  Chua isn't a Chinese immigrant.  So, trying to impose such an over-bearing doctrine on children raised in a society in which choice, freedom, and free-will is so widely championed is going to cause problems.  Even her own parents tell her to back off of her kids, and these are the parents that she models her parenting style upon!

Granted, it's a societal thing.  If I were living in China, I imagine that people would be appalled at how I raise my son.  He doesn't talk and he plays with trains on the floor all day?!?  No, I don't imagine that Jack will be playing the violin well by the age of 5; unless he requests it, he won't be playing an instrument other than his toy drum by the age of 5.  I don't believe that pressuring my son works at all; he marches to the beat of his own drummer.

Chua claims that she doesn't care if her children love or hate her, because her job is to prepare them for the future.  She assumes that her children will care for her and respect her not because she's earned it, but because they have no choice and it's what they're supposed to do.  To her credit, her kids are super-achievers and both considered prodigies in their respective instruments, but that's after she drilled them for years and years.

Honestly, I feel sorry for her children and I hope that one day they'll have the skills to make choices for themselves.  I certainly hope for Chua's sake that she's right about parenting and doesn't find herself abandoned by her children one day.  I definitely recommend reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, if for no other reason than to learn (and be slightly entertained by) a parenting style that is so different.

Do I think I will be forcing Jack to play Bach on the piano just yet?  I think I'll aspire to a potty-trained kid, first.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Train-Wreck TV

Nothing says "fierce" quite like animal print
and extensions.
I have a love/hate relationship with TV these days.  Granted, most of the time there is toddler-friendly programming on (I can just about recite the words to every Thomas the Tank Engine episode), but thanks to the DVR, I do get to watch programming geared toward my age group.

That doesn't always mean that I choose to watch it.  Sorry to all the fans out there, but I've never watched a single episode of the following:

  • Glee
  • American Idol
  • Dancing with the Stars

Brian has an affectionate term for the programming I select these days - Train-Wreck TV.  You know, it's a disaster, but you can't stop watching.  It's not just reality TV that qualifies in this category.

First, there's The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  I'm fairly confident that this show is geared towards people who are a full decade younger than me.  This show also makes me feel my teenage years where filled with naivete.  Why?  Well, the show is filled with 15-year olds who sleep around.  Several of these 15-year olds have gotten knocked up.  They are contemplating marrying their baby's daddy/momma, you know, normal teenage stuff.

I have two comments.  One, WTF?!?  Do teenagers seriously act like that?  If so, Jack's grounded the instant he turns 13, because I know it'll be trouble if he gets out of my house.  Two, it's on ABC Family. This is family TV?  More of an example of what not to do, if you ask me.  However, I CAN'T STOP WATCHING.  I'm counting down the days (13!) until the season premiere.

Second, there's Sister Wives.  It's a show on TLC about a polygamous family.  I'll admit that I watch this show out of morbid curiosity.  I keep expecting these women (there are 4 of them) to duke it out at some point, but they keep disappointing me.  I'll admit, they have shattered some of my perceptions of what polygamous families are like, but they are being investigated by the District Attorney's office, so the show may not last long, anyway.

Third, there's 19 Kids and Counting.  Again, they're a good, moral family, but you can't help but feel like something's gonna happen.  That many kids under one roof spells trouble for someone.  Hell, if I had 19 kids, I'd need to pull a House and self-medicate with Vicotin.

Lastly, there's Jerseylicious on Style Network.  All of my husband's extended family lives in New Jersey, so I find this show fascinating.  Granted, I've never seen any of my family members act like the wild animals on this show.  I can't help but watch, though.  It's like seeing every New Jersey stereotype I've ever known come to life on the small screen.  I can't stop!

As an aside, it should be noted that two of the above "train-wreck" shows are on TLC.  This concept hasn't escaped my husband, who calls TLC "The Freak Channel".  I don't agree with the "freak" label, but I do agree that TLC keeps feeling the need to go even more over the top than the Gosselins in order to make up for that train-wreck.

Not all TV I watch is bizarre.  I happen to be a huge fan of The Biggest Loser, though I'll admit that I catch myself more often than not eating ice cream while watching it.  I also like NBC's Parenthood, which follows four adult siblings and their experiences with raising families, including one child who has Asperger's Syndrome.  Then, there's House.  Not only does it appeal to part of me that's always loved the study of medicine, but Hugh Laurie is the most attractive man alive (next to my husband, of course).  I also manage to catch myself watching the old favorites like South Park (it appeals to my old college self), anything on Food Network (which I'm only just watching again after it triggering morning sickness while I was pregnant), and How It's Made on the Science Channel.

It sounds like I watch a lot of TV, right?  Not quite.  Like I said, the DVR is a friend, but I tend to accrue a back-log of shows to watch.

I guess the beauty of "train-wreck" TV is that it's so far beyond our own realities that it takes us outside of normal for a few minutes.  If you're anything like me, it also makes you realize how normal and good your life is, because you could be dressed in leopard-print, wearing a Bump-It.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Birthday Party Freak-Out

Party on, pug.
We're had a family party for Jack's birthday this weekend.  It wasn't anything like his 1st birthday party, but I couldn't help myself but strive for the most perfect, low-key party ever.

Sure, a family party shouldn't need a theme, but I couldn't help but feel like Jack would like one.  Last year, his party theme was Thomas the Tank Engine.  That's still his favorite character, but I decided to go with an Atlanta Braves theme for this year.  I made a cake that looks like a baseball and Jack wore his Jason Heyward shirt.

Of course, I didn't stop there.  I went to Party City and got an MLB table cloth.  I also got Braves napkins and baseball plates.  What's wrong with me?!?  Why can't I help but going all Martha Stewart (minus the stay in a minimum security federal prison)?

I don't know, but I have this tendency to lean toward the crazy in the pursuit of perfection.  I know that Jack won't remember his 2nd birthday, so why do I care?

I never pictured myself as this kind of Mom.  There are friends and family members that I thought would be this kind of Mom, but not me.  I'm a nerd who worked in a male-dominated industry until Jack was born, but now I'm going gaga (not Lady Gaga, mind you) over matching napkins and party plates?

I also realize that I might have gotten dangerously unrealistic in terms of what I could accomplish this week. I didn't feel functionally normal until Monday, so I've had a short week with which to prepare.

My Mom used to scrub our house top to bottom at the last minute before company would come over, and she'd be freaking out the whole time.  I told myself I'd never do that, but on Saturday morning here I am, striving for perfection and flipping out.  Have I mentioned how much I hate having hardwood floors?  They're pretty, but a pain in the butt to clean.

It all paid off.  The party was great, minus a meltdown due to sensory overload during the singing of "Happy Birthday to You", which is just Jack and that's okay.  Maybe next year will be more low-key; however, I imagine more freaking out (on my part and Jack's) will commence.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Aging Doesn't Make Bullies Nicer

It's not easy being orange.
When I hear about bullying on the news, I am so thankful that my son is only 23 months old.  Luckily, the little quips that adults and older kids throw tend to fly right past him.

As I mentioned in my post "Play Group Outcasts", kids Jack's age aren't immune to being labeled as "different", but it's typically the parents who initiate that behavior.  Can you imagine who picks up on that?  You got it...the kids.  I firmly believe that it is parents and adults that teach the kids to exclude other kids.

I feel for Jack.  I wasn't exactly popular as a kid.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I remember being picked on by one girl in my Girl Scout troop as early as the 3rd grade.  She excluded me from coming in their tent on a camping trip because she thought I was a loser.  She was the first person to treat me that way, but there would be many more.

Sure, I was awkward.  Looking back, I see it.  I was reading by age 3.  I walked on my tiptoes until I was 6.  I didn't necessarily like the same things other kids did.  I was a little brainy, dorky even.  I was in gifted classes from the time I was in the 1st grade, and while I loved it, it served to make me even more different.

I think it got the worst in middle school.  Right around the time my parents got divorced, the bullying got almost unbearable.  We were given assigned seats at lunch, and the people who sat around me were cruel.  It's funny, because the girl who bullied me the worst added me as a Facebook friend a few years back.  Then one day I happened to see her at our veterinarian's office.  She's married and an elementary school teacher now.  I waved to her while we were waiting, and she turned her back to me.  Some people don't change, but I have.  I defriended her (the ultimate Facebook insult) later that day.

Jack isn't very verbal yet (he has very few words for his age), so he squeals a lot and screams to indicate emotions.  It doesn't help that he's particularly tall, too, because that makes him look older than he is.  Sometimes, he seems like he's off in his own world.  At other times, he's a little intense.  Mostly, he's a little clingy cuddle bug.

People typically have one of two reactions to Jack; they either tell me he's one of the cutest little boys they've ever seen (they're right, but I may be biased), or they avoid him or worse, ask me what's his problem.  It's the latter that makes me want to go all crazy Mama bear on them.

I honestly worry for Jack.  Parents who act like they're better than everyone else teach their kids to act like that.  I don't want kids to treat Jack like he's different.  I felt so horrible about myself as a kid because of the way other kids treated me and I wish I could shelter Jack from that.

Really, I wouldn't change who Jack is, though.  I wish I could change the bullies instead.  I like how Jack loves to read, how he gives the best kisses and hugs, and how he laughs with his whole face.  He loves trains, baseball, and he's perfect just the way he is.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  Seeing as I have one of the most Irish-sounding last names ever, it seems only appropriate that I dedicate a post to the holiday of leprechauns, shamrocks, and green beer.

Tonight, we feast in my house to our traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage, along with Irish soda bread.  There won't be green beer (something just seems unappetizing about it), but there will be frosty bottles of Harp.

My kid and my husband have two of the most Irish names I've ever heard - John Patrick (Jack's given name) and Brian Patrick.  I remember St. Patrick's Day of 2009.  My midwife was imploring me to go into labor on my own, but I didn't want a kid born on St. Patrick's Day.  I had already picked out Jack's name, and I knew everyone would think his middle name was Patrick because of the holiday.  Nope, it's a family name.

Our local pub will, without a doubt, be crawling with Irish wannabes who want nothing more of the holiday than to hoist a pint of Guinness, which Brian and I both think tastes gross.  I guess that's one mark against the Irishness of us, huh?  I imagine that a good 25% of those imbibers will be calling in sick the next day.  Yes, if I were throwing up green beer, I'd likely call out, too.

Celebrate today the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland (but who, in a bit of Irish justice I guess, didn't do the same for England) by hoisting a frosty glass or two...or not, as will be the case with me.  No, I'm not against drinking, just still on medication from last week (drugs + alcohol = bad things).  Hug an Irishman (or woman) and enjoy the spirit of the day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

28 Going on 5

I'll admit it; I'm a 5-year old that has been elongated to 5' 7".  I keep thinking that I'll grow up more than this, but it just hasn't happened yet.  I manage to pull out the maturity card when I really need to do so, but I'm really just a closet elementary schooler.

I couldn't help but feel confused watching The Good Night Show with Jack and hearing the host suggest that the kids find a grown-up before using safety scissors.

A grown-up?  Where am I gonna find one of those?

I know that technically being a Mom, living in my own house, and being over the age of 18 makes me a grown-up.  The concept, for some reason, still seems foreign to me.

The good news is that I get mistaken for a younger person, or a formerly-pregnant teenager when Jack's with me, on a regular basis.  Here are some of the reasons why I still qualify as a little kid:

  • I eat Spongebob Macaroni and feel no shame.  It holds the cheese better.  Peanut butter sandwiches are still a common mid-day meal for me.  I also like corn dogs.
  • I watch Spongebob Squarepants and laugh my head off.  I might feel a little shame at this.
  • I have a dimple that attracts old ladies like a singles dance at the retirement home.  They can't help but comment on how cute I look.
  • I like dessert...a lot.
  • I have been known to do stupid things on a dare.  Eating a dog biscuit wasn't a high point for me.
  • I pull the best pranks.  When I worked as a veterinary technician in college, I hid in a body bag and made a grown man, the veterinarian, scream like a little girl.  It was awesome!  I have also frozen the track balls of coworkers, producing hilarious results.
  • I can shoot rubber bands better than any little boy.
  • I like dinosaurs.
  • I dress for comfort over style any day, unless the style is Braves' gear, because it's awesome.
  • I freak out about going to the doctor.

Unfortunately, my mind's writing checks my body can't cash.  My grey hairs don't work well with my Spongebob Macaroni.  I am acutely aware of a back ache at this very moment.  I don't have the energy to stay up until 2 AM without dire consequences.

Maybe one day I'll grow up, but for now, I think Jack enjoys having a Mommy who knows how to connect with him.  I'm still able to fake being an adult when I need to be one, but I manage to find ways to keep myself from growing up.  I know that one day I'll probably cross over from faking to being a grown-up, but maybe I've got a couple more years to be a kid.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Moms Run on Kisses, Toddlers Run on Cheerios

Jack at 6 months during the epic battle of
Baby v. Pureed Prunes.  He kept wanting more,
but alas,  the prunes won.
We're in the midst of a category 5 hunger strike in this house.

I've heard that toddlers far and wide decide around the 2 year mark to swear off food.  For what purpose, I don't understand, but I know that eating is not what Jack chooses to do with his time. He'd much rather be playing basketball, reading, or playing "choo-choos".

Besides not eating, he is super selective with what he wants.  I'll ask what he wants for breakfast and he'll point to pancakes, but then he'll refuse to eat anything but an English muffin.  Every morning, an English muffin, upside down. Usually, he eats about half of the muffin, all of his milk, and leaves what he requested for breakfast untouched.  Sometimes, he only eats a few bites of the muffin.

Lunch for Jack has always included yogurt, fruit, and baby cereal.  The individual components vary (different fruits, different cereals), but it's been a standard for him.  I have been a fan of the Super Baby Food diet, of which a yogurt-based meal is a major component.  This is the only meal that he eats reliably these days.

Dinner varies.  His favorites, until recently, have been spaghetti, macaroni and cheese with broccoli, and split pea soup.  These days, we're lucky if he eats more than a few bites.

Jack does get 2 snacks a day, but recently he doesn't eat those, unless it's Cheerios.  I swear, the kid could live on nothing but Cheerios and air.  He has a real passion for the circular-shaped breakfast cereal.  I attempt in vain to introduce other snacks, which he accepts when the mood strikes him.  Otherwise, he looks at me as though I have offended him with my gross error in judgement.  Luckily, he does drink his milk, because I know plenty of toddlers who don't even do that.

Oh, the quirks of the toddler.  I also wish I could survive on a few Cheerios and air...I'd lose so much weight!  Where he manages to get the energy that he has on so little food, I'll never know.  There must be Red Bull in his sippy cup.

I have been resisting all urges to make meals a battle.  It's not easy, especially since he's always been on the thinner end of the scale (around the 25th percentile).  When he indicates that he's "all done" (he has a sign that he sometimes uses to indicate this), I let him get down with no fuss.  It's not easy watching your kid gleefully get down from the table, but as hard as it is for me, I know it's harder for Brian.  I just refuse to make mealtime a struggle.  I don't want him to dread meals and I trust that he'll eat if he's really hungry.

Until then, we're stocking up on Cheerios and fortifying the air in our home with vitamins and minerals (I wish) and hoping that our skinny-mini kid breaks out of this fasting phase soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daylight Savings Time was Created by Childless Men

Earlier this week, my mother-in-law reminds me that this weekend would bear one of the worst scheduling nightmares for the parent of an infant or toddler.  That's right, it's the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.

Before my days as a parent, I remember the bi-yearly time changes being nothing more than a pain in the butt to remember.  In the Fall, gaining an hour meant more sleep.  My husband, when we were in high school, even used it as an excuse one year to stay out way past curfew.

But Mom, technically it was only 2 AM when I got home, because we gained an hour!

Jack better not try that one.  I know the way boys roll.

First, a history lesson.  Why in the world would we arbitrarily set our clocks forward or backward?  According to Discovery News, Benjamin Franklin was one of the first to suggest that adjusting our clocks in the Spring might save energy, in the form of candles.  During World War II, the country starting adjusting our clocks to save energy.  The Uniform Time Act of 1966 outlined the particulars of Daylight Savings Time.  Then the Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed up the dates in which Daylight Savings Time begins and ends.  Oddly enough, states don't have to comply and some do opt out.

There is actually some question as to whether or not Daylight Savings Time actually saves energy in our modern lives.  As tends to be the case with anything Washington does, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 didn't have any efficiency studies to back it up, until the oil crisis of the 1970s when the US Department of Transportation found that the switch only dropped energy consumption by 1 percent.  According to an article by Scientific American, the resulting savings (or lack thereof) may be negligible.

So, why do some old politicians who clearly don't have to deal with toddlers messing around with my clocks?  Fortunately, adults have learned to bypass our Circadian rhythms with artificial suns (the alarm clock), but my nearly 2-year old hasn't gotten that memo.

Now that I'm a Mom, planning around these time changes is a logistical nightmare.  If you have a newborn, it's relatively easy to weather the time change, because all they do is eat, sleep, and poop.  However, if you've got a kid who's on a regular nap/mealtime/bedtime schedule, watch out.  Your day is gonna suck.

Honestly, losing an hour in the spring really doesn't mess him up that much.  He sleeps until 9:30 AM (hallelujah!), but gets put down for naps and has meals at all the regular times.  He makes the transition by the end of the day.  Gaining an hour in the Fall is another story.  He wakes at 7:30 AM (fail) and is crashing before lunchtime (epic fail).

Luckily, we weathered this one pretty well, especially considering that Brian was out of town this weekend.  However, if the time-makers that be in Washington decide to do away with what I consider a pointless exercise of resetting every clock in my house, that would be okay by me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sprout, I Owe You

A little bright, isn't it?  This week, I have to thank you
Kelly, Super Grover, and Chica.  I owe my recovery to you.
I'm slowly regaining myself.  My sporadic posts this week have been a direct result of the following:

A) Oral surgery on Monday (unplanned, might I add)
B) A cold two days following the before mentioned oral surgery

I feel like a Mach truck has run over my face this week.  It has been all I could do to get myself to eat and stay awake, much less entertain a toddler all day.  While I don't advocate allowing children to sit in front of the TV, their brains slowly forming a gelatin-like substance, I do allow Jack to watch a little TV and this week it was invaluable while I felt like poo.

Jack only watches PBS or PBS's red-headed stepsister on cable, Sprout.  These days, we're primarily a Sprout family.  I like the PBS family of networks because I feel like they always have on something that I can trust is safe for Jack to watch and is educational.  I'll admit, I've turned into a little old lady and I watch a good bit of Nova these days.

Don't be fooled by the cute bald kid.
Well, this week I became an expert on toddler pop culture.  There are toddler shows that I like and ones that make me want to put my eyes out.  For those of you who aren't versed on toddler culture, here's a quick A - Z primer:

Barney:  The purple dinosaur isn't going anywhere.  Singing about manners and sharing equals riveting TV.  Jack likes the songs, but sometimes I just want to punch Barney in the head.  I think it's an innate response on the part of anyone over the age of 10.  While this show bugs me it's nothing compared to...

Caillou:  This is probably now my least favorite show on television.  This 4-year old kid does nothing but whine for a full 30 minute show.  His voice is like nails on a chalkboard.  Do not allow your child to get attached to this show, because you'll regret it.

Curious George:  A monkey teaching science.  This might be a metaphor for something.

Dinosaur Train:  Dinosaurs...on a train.  Don't overanalyze it, it's preschool TV.  You'll be disappointed if you try to find meaning.  A baby T-Rex gets adopted by a family of Pteranodons (big mistake, folks...T-Rex's are HARD CORE!).  Whatever, little boys love it.  They did have an entire episode devoted to poop.

Go to sleep, children.
The Good Night Show:  Sprout does most of it's programming in a show-within-a-show format, so all of the other shows I mention are played within the context of this larger show with a daily or weekly theme.  This show, hosted by Nina and her pal Star (who is, appropriately enough, a star), plays soothing programming, gentle music, and even does yoga to wind your kids down.  We end our day with it every day.  The downside?  It frequently puts my husband to sleep, too.

Monkey See, Monkey Do:  Kind of an exercise show for toddlers.  A cartoon monkey gets kids to imitate the movements of other animals.  Though, as Brian pointed out, they have the kids "warm-up" for about 3 minutes of actual exercise.

Sesame Street:  I actually am entertained by Sesame Street.  The writers throw just enough references to adult pop culture into the show that it makes it interesting.  Some days, it's Doogie Howser playing a shoe fairy, or Brian Williams hosts the news.  One day, Sarah Jessica Parker was waiting for Big...Bird that is.

The Sunny-Side Up Show:  The morning version of The Good Night Show.  It features a chicken puppet named Chica who chirps instead of talking.  Jack loves it.  However, they sing their own version of "Happy Birthday to You" and I'm convinced that Jack's going to be disappointed when we sing it the right way on his birthday.

Australian, yes.  Attractive?  No.
Super Why:  Some one has to rescue all of those kitties who get trapped in trees.  Leave it to the Super Readers who play reading games to save the day.  This is one of Jack's favorite shows and the only one that he'll stop and watch.  I use this secret weapon when I need to do something like take a nice shower.  I know that Super Why will keep Jack sitting on the couch in my bedroom for a good while.

Thomas and Friends:  Okay, it doesn't entertain me, but it is by far and away Jack's favorite show on TV.  He is a Thomas fanatic.  He has the toy engines, train sets, books, you name, he has it.  His toy engines are his BFFs.  When he hears the Thomas theme song, he squeals like a little girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

The Wiggles:  I used to think Australian accents were sexy, but then I heard The Wiggles.  Unfortunately, this modern version of Sharon, Lois, and Bram produces music that is audible crack to toddlers.  Jack can't get enough of their music.  So, I'm going to be forced to go buy a CD and cringe through every moment of it.  They also wear mock turtlenecks in primary colors, which is deeply disturbing.

I hope you found this informing.  Now, the next time some one says to you "Who sings that Fruit Salad song?" you can answer with authority, "It's those Australian guys that turned me off to Australian guys."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lost in Translation

I was saddened this morning to read about the earthquake and tsunami that has caused so much devastation in Japan.  

It is a little known dream of mine to visit Japan, China, and India, one day.  I have always had a fascination about the culture, language, and people of Japan.  One of my favorite books of all time is Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha.  One of my favorite movies is Lost in Translation.  My favorite food?  Sushi, followed closely by just about any Chinese food or Thai food.  Curries are good, too.

I have had a little love affair with Asian culture, food, and language since I was little.  I was the elementary schooler who wanted the spicy Schezuan chicken as opposed to the Sweet and Sour chicken that most kids eat.  I learned how to use chopsticks at an early age and I plan on teaching Jack to use them, too.

In another life, I would have loved to be an ex-patriate in Japan.  If I could have afforded it, I would have loved to study abroad in Japan.  At one point while I was still in college, I looked into moving to Japan after I finished to teach English and have the experience of a lifetime.  Of course, I had Brian to think about, and he is just about as American as they come.  He wouldn't have been interested in jetting off to a foreign country while I followed a childhood fantasy.  Besides, I liked him too much to leave him behind.

Refill on your scotch, Mr. Murray?
I used to be more adventurous.  I guess that age, and parenthood, takes some of the adventure out of you.  Priorities change and goals shift, but you occasionally find yourself thinking back to some of your older dreams.  Not that you want to abandon your family, but you want to encompass your family in some version of your past aspirations.  That doesn't mean that I want to wander the streets of Tokyo with Bill Murray, Brian, and Jack, but it would make for some interesting stories.  "Bill Murray showed me the best sushi place today!"

Now that I'm a Mom, I can't say that I've fully given up hope of traveling to Japan one day.  Sure, I might not go to as many places in Asia as I might have when I was younger, but maybe I can take Jack to Japan one day.  Eat real sushi.  Visit a real Japanese garden.  See a real temple.

So, may God bless the people of Japan and everyone else who has been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.  To the people of Japan, I wish that your beautiful country recovers quickly and that you all find the peace and help that you need in this time of distress.  Hopefully, I'll be bringing my family to visit one day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Future is Gonna Cost More Money.

This week, I've needed some laughs.  What do I do when I need a laugh?  I go through my cache of YouTube favorites and revisit the good ones.  Enjoy!

1.  A Dell sale gone awry.  I have had some interesting customer service experiences (AT&T stands out notably in my mind, as does AOL), but nothing like this.  This will have you laughing until you cry.  I can believable!

2.  While I no longer engage in drunken debauchery (I'm asleep by 10 PM on good nights), I still enjoy watching the misfortunes of my inebriated peers.  This video makes me laugh because it illustrates just how much babies act like drunkards...and they're sober!  Brilliant!

3.  Call an ambulance, please!  Some things just get lost in translation.  If you are Japanese and are interested in learning a little English before your trip to the US, I'd recommend you find another method other than Jazzercise Muzzy.  Also, I've never had to say any of these phrases, and I am American.

4.  Of else do you breastfeed all of them throughout the night?  All of mine speak three languages, including Mandarin.  Boy, do I love uber Moms!  The playground is totally like this, and I love all of Mompetition's movies.  On a related note, I think a baby seal just died.  Just watch the'll get it.

5.  Okay, this is a commercial, but being the mother of a pug I couldn't resist.  I love that you see his lips flapping in the breeze.

I may have a twisted or boring sense of humor, but sometimes you just need a good laugh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Parenting "Experts"

Good advice, in particular if your surname is "Sheen" or
The universe has been conspiring against me this week when it comes to blog posts.  However, I have emerged from my emergency dentistry and painkiller-induced haze unscathed, relatively speaking.

I feel like I have been bombarded this week by horrid parenting advice.  Of course, a fair portion of this has come from people who, by default of their fame, can claim to be experts on everything.  I'm talking, of course, about celebrities.

First, there's Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., or better known to the rest of us as "Blossom".  On top of being a neuroscientist and former child-star, she's also a mommy-blogger for the Today Show.  After all, a Ph.D. in neuroscience translates directly into a pretentious parenting expert, right?  In a recent post of hers, she highlights why it's okay that her children, who by her own admission showed some developmental delays, were not sent for the speech, physical, and occupational therapy that they would have qualified to receive.  In fact, she suggests that doing so is "forcing" her kids to do things they're not ready to do, like rolling over, walking, and talking.  In her words, "Confused yet?  Don't be."

Tiger Moms, I'm not sure your 3 month old is quite
ready for a Maxwell House moment.
Then, for those of you who feel like the "Tiger Mom" philosophy isn't quite for you (Charlie Sheen would say you don't have enough "tiger blood"), there is Tiger Mom antithesis, the "part-time" mom.  Yep, the mom highlighted in the article decided after a 4 month fellowship in Japan that she no longer wanted to be a full-time mom, so she divorced her husband of 20 years and decided to not be the custodial parent of her children.  I could really go into a diatribe about my thoughts about this woman's decision, but I'll let you be the judge.

Finally, there is the parenting expert of the week...none other than Charlie Sheen.  His method of parenting by example is something we should all strive for, that is if we want our kids to be warlocks.  I'm not sure his brand of Winning! is something that I want to model for my son.  I also don't have tiger blood coursing through my veins, so I'm probably not capable of Winning!  Sorry Jack, but you'll have to be moral like every other child.  On the other hand, I do hope that Charlie Sheen continues his verbal tirades for a few more weeks, because it's producing some gnarly one-liners.

Call me crazy, but I'm not sure that celebrities have any more expertise on parenting than I do.  You probably shouldn't even listen to me when it comes to parenting advice, because most sane and sober people are perfect capable of being the best parent for their child.  So, unless you are disturbed, there is no better expert for parenting your child than you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Need A Date

Single ladies, this might be a deal-breaker.
No, I'm not perusing the personals for love.  Brian's the only guy for me, thank you very much.  However, it has become very clear to me that Brian and I really don't ever go out for nice, relaxing dates anymore.  Allow me to explain.

First, Jack is a little bit of a high-maintenance babysitting charge, so I've been nervous about recruiting friends or neighborhood teenagers for the job.

What does high-maintenance entail?  Oh, not much, except for a kid known to vomit at the first twinge of nervousness.  Since he's a little bit of a Velcro toddler, that nervousness comes on rapidly.  It's not just a little bit, either.  It's like something from The Exorcist.  I've never seen his head spin all the way around, but it wouldn't shock me, either.

He's also been known to puke all over his crib at bedtime.  You see where this might scare off even the most seasoned teen sitter.  He also gags/throws up occasionally when eating, so it's a precarious situation to say the least.  One experience with it could scar a sixteen year old for life, but it might be the world's best birth control, too.

Second, because of the above mentioned challenge, I have only asked family to sit for Jack.  I feel incredibly guilty asking every time because I fear that I'm throwing them to the toddler firing squad.  There are instances in which I truly need babysitting help from family, like preschool registration, so I don't want to burn them out on my kid.

So, Valentine's Day this year was spent over take-out.  Our anniversary last year was too, except Jack had been bitten by our dog, so we spent the day in the emergency room getting stitches.  It was the best anniversary ever, as you can surely imagine.  With the final birthday of my twenties approaching rapidly, I am faced with yet another home-bound holiday.

Why not take him with you, you say?  Well...let me provide insight into the mind of the toddler.  Jack's butt hits that restaurant highchair and the screaming ensues.  He wants nothing to do with it.  I have spent several family members' birthdays pacing outside of restaurants.  It's a blast.  Not to mention that the presence of the offspring kind of takes the romance out of the whole "date" concept.  It's hard to whisper sweet nothings to your sweetie when your kid keeps shoving a train engine in your face saying "Choo-Choo!"

In the meantime, I'm gathering up my take-out menus and preparing to ring in another birthday.  Maybe one day me and the hubs will get to go out on a date.  Until then, take-out, here we come!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

English Muffins, Upside-Down

Toddlers are particular creatures.  Jack, being in the height of toddlerhood, is no exception.

I know I've written about Jack's eating challenges before, but I know that I haven't really captured the essence of his struggles.  The foods that most kids his age can eat, he can't.  It's not because of allergies or lack of desire necessarily, but these foods gag him and make him throw up.

It's been a fun process for us all, as you might imagine.  Brian and I get the daily anxiety of never knowing when Jack might blow.  As for Jack, he has anxiety of his own.  The poor kid has had such bad experiences with eating that he's very timid about trying new foods.  I can't blame him; I remember struggling with morning sickness so much that I didn't want to eat.

When we do find foods that Jack likes, we are elated.  Jack has expanded his repertoire recently, eating palate pleasing foods such as cereal bars, Spaghetti-Os, and cheese cubes, along with old favorites like Cheerios.  Then, there is the less-common toddler fare, like English muffins.

Jack has a little quirk about English muffins.  He likes them buttered side down.  For some reason, if you put them on his plate buttered side up, he doesn't like them.  Go figure.

Honestly, I couldn't care less if he wanted them smeared with hummus and jelly.  I'm just glad that there is a food that he can chew and eat!  We're slowly expanding our menus, but I'm hoping that by the time he starts preschool he'll be able to eat basically like any other kid!  Here's hoping!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies and Other Works of Pure Evil

Get out the stretchy pants, because you're about to be tempted.

I am convinced that Girl Scouts set up booths outside of my beloved Trader Joe's this time each year for one expressed purpose - to make me fat.  In fact, the whole of society feels the need to conspire against my eating-at-home agenda.  While the foods I prepare at home are not low-fat necessarily (I believe in choosing "all-natural" over "low-fat"), they are typically healthier than restaurant fare and processed foods.

I am human and humans are subject to temptation.  Thus, I fall prey to Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos, the two peanut butter filled temptresses of the Girl Scout Cookie line-up.  It also doesn't help that Tagalongs come in boxes of about 15-20 cookies, because I clearly can't just leave a couple of cookies in the box all by themselves; I must eat them all.

Here are some of the other beasts that I fall prey to on a regular basis.  Strict health-food nuts, look away:

1. Pot Stickers:  Something called a "pot sticker" can't be good for you.  I like the fried ones, which likely makes them worse.  I could down an entire order myself.

2. Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream (or Brusters):  Ben and Jerry...these men hold a special place in my heart.  They insert brownies into chocolate ice cream (Chocolate Fudge Brownie) and cookie dough into vanilla ice cream, swirled with the before mentioned delight (Half-Baked).  My waistline doesn't appreciate the damage these desserts have done, but my mouth does.

3. Hardee's (or Chili's) Chicken Tenders:  I'm a 5 year old at heart.  I'll always have a soft spot for chicken tenders dipped in creamy honey mustard.

4.  Cheese Dip:  Liquid cheese.  Enough said.

5. Pizza:  Okay, pizza, in my opinion, can be a healthy food if it's crafted to be that way.  The fact of the matter is that I rarely craft it in a healthy manner.  Bring on the extra cheese and meatballs.

The above-mentioned foods are a primary reason why I am not slimmer.  Let's be honest, Moms, after a full-day of toddler-wrangling and dealing with unspeakable horrors, you need a little comfort.  Sometimes, my comfort comes in the way of food.  Unhealthy, yes.  Will I feel guilty about it?  No.  I deserve a little something every now and then.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teething: It's Not Just for Babies

I'm almost 29 years old...and I'm teething.

My final wisdom tooth is finally coming in.  This is about 3 years after my dentist told me I should have all of my wisdom teeth.  You'll have them all by the time you're 25, he said.  Yeah, right.

I am one of the "lucky" ones, or so my dentist said, that really did not need my wisdom teeth removed.  There was plenty of room for them to come in without crowding my other teeth.  Wisdom tooth #1, #2, and #3 all came in years ago with relatively little fanfare.  I honestly just forgot about #4.

It was forgotten until last Friday, that is.  Then, a little twinge of soreness.  Then I felt it...that stupid little tooth.  There you are, you obnoxious enamel-based pain in my jaw!  I'm an adult, I can pop Motrin if I really need to do so.  How bad could it be?

Cut to 10 PM on Saturday when I'm laying on the couch with a look like someone shot me in the face.  Jack keeps his fingers in his mouth all day when he's teething.  Suddenly here I am, gnawing on my left index finger, contemplating getting some vice grips and pulling the damn thing myself.  Arrgghh!!!

No, seriously.  While I'd never do it, I ran across several "do-it-yourself" tooth extraction techniques (they suggested Orajel as an anesthetic, just in case you were wondering) while I was searching for home remedies for wisdom tooth pain.  I can't believe there are idiots who would actually try to extract their own tooth.  Dentists out there, charge these people a moron fee when they come to you to fix their mess of a molar.

Anyways, I managed to make it through Saturday night dosed up on ibuprofen.  I woke on Sunday to significantly less pain and to a tooth that had come in nearly all the way.  I'm glad that this is the last tooth I will ever cut, though.

I definitely sympathize with Jack a bit more.  The poor kid...he is going through this 20 times in about a 2 year time-span!  It would make me a little irritable, too.  It's a good thing that he won't remember any of it, because he'd be begging me to have his wisdom teeth removed.

If you are the proud owner of fledgling wisdom teeth, be forewarned...teething isn't just for our kids.  If you are lucky enough to have donated your wisdom teeth to a landfill, then count your blessings, because this sucks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Families of Three Rock

Jack's 1st Braves Game (5 months old).
So, when are you having another one?

Ugh, it seems like I just started fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes again and you ask me when am I going to re-surrender my body to the non-stop nausea, swelling, stretching, and aches so I can once again be a growing vessel for a fledgling human?

Ever since my son's 1st birthday, people have openly continued to ask me when we're having more kids.  Besides being a really awkward conversation, it's a terribly personal decision and process, if you know what I mean.

In all honesty, I might want another kid...eventually, but what if I don't?  I know many families whose oldest children are Jack's age and younger who have already added a second to their brood.  If it works for them...great.  Personally, the thought of having a newborn and a toddler makes me want to lay down in the fetal position in a closet and hide.

I think that BabyCenter's Joyce Slaton summed it up best in her post "10 sweet things about families of three".  There are lots of pluses to being a threesome rather than a foursome or more.  Inspired by Joyce, here are the 10 reasons why I like being just the three of us:

1.  We use Britax car seats and they are beasts.  I would no longer have a backseat if I had 2 of these monsters installed.

2.  Compromising is easier, because I don't have to juggle requests from multiple children.

3.  I can focus solely on Jack's needs rather than dealing with one kid and praying that the other one isn't about to do something dangerous, like try to fly off of the dining room table.

4.  Meals are easier.  I can't imagine trying to accommodate Jack's texture needs, plus feed Brian, plus feed/nurse offspring #2.  I probably would either a) Never eat, or b) Become a regular consumer of Carnation Instant Breakfasts.

5.  Braves games cost less when you only buy 3 tickets.  We can afford better seats that way, too!

6.  I feel like I can give all of my parental love to Jack.  I know that everyone says that they love offspring #2 just as much, but I like knowing that Jack is the only recipient of that love for a short while.

7.  No double strollers.  I struggle with the one single-seater that I have, so I can't imagine how I'd wrangle a two-seater.

8.  My house gets messy as it is, but I get the feeling that an extra child brings with it double the mess.  A toddler plus a newborn can only spell trouble for my carpet.

9.  There is one nap-time in our house, not multiple ones staggered throughout the day.  Therefore, when it's nap-time I can relax instead of caring for the child who happens to be awake.

10.  I have a little less Mommy-guilt.  I've heard many expectant moms who had a toddler already say that they feared that they were taking away their current child's babyhood.  No worries there...Jack can be a baby a while longer.  I also don't feel guilty that I'm spending more time with one than the other.

So you see, while it may seem like a great plan to crank children out in rapid succession (you do get through the diaper/bottle stage all in one shot), there are definite advantages to remaining a family of three for at least a while longer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Housework is a 4-Letter Word with 5 More Letters on the End

If you are one of those disturbed people who actually enjoys housework, I suggest you stop reading right now.  What you are about to read may disturb you.

I am definitely NOT one of those women who vacuums with a smile and irons because I enjoy it.  Quite the opposite...I loathe housework.

I can't stand cleaning bathrooms.  I would rather have a root canal than iron dress shirts.  What I really hate these days is how I can only manage to do about 20 minutes of cleaning at a time, so it seems as though housework is a never-ending, on-going task.

You know what's really sick?  I actually look forward to when Jack starts preschool in the fall, because I'll have a few consecutive hours in which I knock out all of the housework.  Yes, I just said that I'm going to be spending my free time cleaning.  How twisted is that?!?

When I was registering Jack for preschool, I heard plenty from moms who were going to use their newfound freedom to join a tennis team or go have lunch with their gal pals.  In fact, some of these moms were complaining that preschool was only 3 hours a day, 2 days a week.

Me?  I'm going to clean.  Why?  Well, because that's what I signed on to do.  We aren't blessed with the disposable income to hire a housekeeper, but I'm not sure I'd want to do that even if we could.  I guess I think it's part of being a mom.

While I value my free-time, and believe me that I do, I value the time I spend with my husband and son.  I'd rather spend time with them rather than cleaning while they're around.  I'd rather my son remember his preschool years as spending time with Mommy.  I don't want my son to identify "cleaning" as being one of my hobbies.

Jack also has a fear of the vacuum, so I am not able to vacuum unless he's out of the house with Brian.  If I absolutely have to vacuum while Jack's here, I have to carry him the whole time to console him.  My back is starting to give out for this very reason.  As a result, dust bunnies in our house multiply like, well, bunnies and Cheerios can be found under just about every piece of furniture.

So, I'll sneak in the housework when I can, even if it means not joining the SAHM's tennis team.  I'll dry-heave while cleaning the toilet and swear when I burn myself with the iron, but it'll get done.

I won't enjoy it, though.