Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Decade In Review

As the year comes to a close, I was going to write a Year in Review sort of post about all that had happened to us as a family this year. I got started writing it and got about two-thirds of the way through when I realized that it sounded remarkably like one of those cheesy Christmas letters you get once a year from your long lost Aunt Agnes.

And then I realized that not only is the year turning but so is the decade. It’s been 10 years since the big millennium celebrations and the hype of over the Y2K virus (remember that?!). I got to thinking about how much has changed over the last 10 years and how my life took some really surprising turns in that time. In honor of that, I give you my decade in review.

I began the year 2000 in a new relationship after dumping my ex-fiance two months before our wedding. That new relationship just happened to be with Scot - who I would go on to marry in 2001. In 2000, we were still living in separate states but were dating seriously.

At the time I was living in Columbus, OH with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and working full time for a law firm. My sister and her family picked up and went to England in March of that year and stayed for three months as my sister finished her dissertation research. I stayed in Ohio caring for their house, finances, and cat.

In November of 2000 the country elected George Bush. I will refrain from comment on the next 8 years of politics.

By the time my sister returned Scot and I were engaged so I moved out to Pittsburgh and we moved in together. I got a job at Carnegie Mellon and we began to plan our wedding scheduled for October of 2001.

In August of 2000, three days after I began my job at CMU, I lost my beloved grandmother, Mormor. I still miss her but I see her every now and then in the faces of my sons.

In October of 2000, I lost my Grandpa. That fall was tough for my parents - they’d both lost a parent and were both grieving.

Scot and I bought a house together in early 2001 and then spent the much of the rest of the year planning our wedding.

In April, I lost my Grandma.

Scot and I married on October 6, 2001 and took a short honeymoon to Baltimore. Our wedding was 3 short weeks after 9/11 and we were on our honeymoon the day that the US invaded Afghanistan. It seems wrong to me that I can measure the length of that war by the length of my marriage.

We settled in to married bliss. In early 2002 Scot was laid off from his job at IBM. We were blindsided and had no idea it was coming. The good news is that Scot ultimately landed at a company that eventually led to the job he has now so all’s well that ends well.

For the next couple of years we worked our respective jobs and lived the the married-with-no-kids life. We traveled to various places - New Orleans, San Francisco - and in February of 2003 Maggie the Wonder Beagle joined our family.

In April of 2004 my mother and I went on a 9 day trip to Ireland. We had a blast, saw so many gorgeous and wonderful things, and made memories together that I will never forget.

In late May of that same year we found out I was pregnant with Liam. Six short weeks later I lost my job in a lay off. It was not easy to take and even harder to find work as a pregnant woman. In the end I stayed home for most of my pregnancy and on February 2, 2005 we welcomed our son Liam. Liam and his great-grandmother were 100 years apart. We were so ecstatic to introduce Grandma to her first great-grandchild.

Adjustment to motherhood was huge. I’d always wanted children but having a baby was a real challenge for me. I felt out of my depth much of the time and leaned heavily on the friends and family around me for support and advice. I eventually got my sea legs as a parent and we settled in to raising Liam.

In early 2006 I tried to return to work with disastrous results for Liam’s health. Daycare germs caused a spate of illness so bad that Liam lost several pounds and we spent many sleepless night caring for him. My decision to return to work was reevaluated and I remained home with Liam.

In April of 2006 I turned 30. Somehow, even though I was a parent, a homeowner, and a responsible bill-paying adult I didn’t feel like I was 30. I’ve gotten over that.

In May of 2006 we lost Scot’s beloved Grandma. It was a hard spring.

By late 2006 we were seriously outgrowing our house. Scot was working 45 minutes from where we were living and the commute was killing him. We knew we would eventually want a second child and there was no room for it at the house. We also had reservations about the school district we were living in. So, we made the decision that it was time to sell the house and move.

We started Liam back to part-time daycare to facilitate our search for a house and entered a year of illness. He picked up everything that came down the pike. In January of 2007 he had ear tubes put in and things got miraculously better. His speech delay disappeared and he stopped being so ill so often. Now he has an immune system of iron.

We finally closed on a new house in the suburbs in late April of 2007 and moved in mid-May. We now have a big yard (and all the yard care that implies! ) and neighbors and kids in the neighborhood for Liam to play with. We sometimes miss our old stomping grounds (Hi Jenn and John!) but in all I love our house and where we live. Liam will start kindergarten here next year and I have no doubts that he will excel.

We spent the rest of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 settling into life in the ‘burbs. Scot grew increasingly frustrated with his job. I continued to stay home with Liam who survived the Terrible Twos and entered the Terrifically Terrible Threes. He excelled in pre-school and drove me up the wall on a regular basis.

Shortly after July 4th of 2008 we found out I was pregnant with Jamie. Immediately upon peeing on the home pregnancy test I descended into the depths of morning sickness. Actually, it was more like ALL DAY sickness.

Liam survived the summer he was three by the skin of his teeth and with the help of my in-laws who cared for him when I was too sick to.

By the fall things were progressing with my pregnancy and Scot was nearly at the end of his rope with his job. The presidential race was heating up and the political infighting was tremendous.

And then the bottom fell out of the economy.

In November of 2008 the country elected its first biracial president, Barack Obama. I stayed up late watching the returns.

In December of that year, Scot took a tumble down the stairs injuring his wrist pretty severely.

Which brings us to 2009 - a year with high highs and some low lows. Scot had surgery to repair his wrist in late January. I struggled to survive the end of my pregnancy while being the only mostly functional adult in the house.

In January, Barack Obama was sworn in as President. I watched the Inauguration with such pride and hope. I cried when he took the oath of office.

Jamie joined our family on March 4, 2009. He made his entrance two weeks early and had a rough first three months. Between reflux and colic I nearly didn’t survive those months and much of it is a blur of frustration, stress, worry, and exhaustion. Somehow we all made it through - I know the help of our family made that possible.

Scot took a new job in the beginning of 2009 - a job he is still at and still loves.

The rest of the year was spent settling in to being a family of four with a neurotic beagle. Our family is complete now.

To sum up, a lot has happened to me in the last decade. I started out the decade as a 20-something woman fresh out of college and fresh out of a nasty relationship. I didn’t know where I was going to end up or how I was going to get there. Now I’m a married mother of two little boys living in suburbia. Oh how life changes!

2010 promises to be a big year. Liam turns 5. Jamie turns 1. Liam will start kindergarten. I’m sure there will be many surprises along the way. There always are!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What A Difference Four Years Make

Here is Liam on his first Christmas in 2005:


And here is Jamie on his first Christmas (in the same outfit) in 2009.


Now, you tell me the difference.

Just Like A Kid On Christmas

The presents were tucked under the tree with great care....




The stockings were stuffed, Saint Nick had been there.


The children awoke to see Christmas bounty...


And soon the wrappings were in a pile quite jaunty.


Merry Christmas to all..

From a Spud and his bear...


And Jamie the Red with his flaming orange hair.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Crazy: Baking

Some people go crazy at Christmas time. This craziness can take many forms. Lights! Trees! Decorations galore!

I bake.

I love to bake and Christmastime gives me the perfect excuse to exercise my baking muscles. My Mom always baked at Christmas and it’s a large part of the holiday tradition for me as I have fond memories of baking with my Mom during my childhood. She always had special cookie recipes that she only made once a year at Christmas. Many of them were handed down through generations of the family and speak to my ethnic heritage. I feel connected to my childhood Christmases when I get to perpetuate the tradition. I also love carrying on the tradition with my children.

So, I decided to share with you the recipes that I make every year. Some are family recipes, some are ones that I’ve stumbled across on my own and incorporated into the yearly baking. Many of the recipes call for nuts and Scot has a pretty severe nut allergy. I’ve altered them to leave the nuts out but will include the original recipe here. Please enjoy! We certainly do.

Swedish Chocolate Sheet Cookies
Family Recipe

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 beaten egg
4 tbs. Baker’s Cocoa
1 1/2 cups flour
ground almonds

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, cocoa, and flour. Mix thoroughly. Spread dough 1/4 inch thick on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (the jelly roll pan is easier). Brush top with egg white (use your fingers - it works better!). Top with unblanched ground almonds. Bakes at 350° for 30 minutes. Cut into oblong pieces while still warm.

You can opt to leave the nuts off and just dust the top with powdered sugar after you bake them.

Dutch Spice Cookies
Family Recipe

This recipe is HUGE so I usually cut it in half.

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (my mother always used almonds. I don’t use nuts at all)

Cream butter and sugar. Sift together flour with spices, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter and sugar. Work in the sour cream. Form into 4 long sausage shaped logs, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°. Cut rolls crosswise into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet until delicately browned - about 12 minutes. Cool on wire wrack.

Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
Cookie recipe: Wilton
Frosting: Penzeys

Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix together in a separate bowl flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thick and cut into shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 6 to 7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Frosting
2 stick of butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
4 TB milk

Cream butter and vanilla together on medium speed with an electric mixer. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, mixing well on low speed after each addition. If you feel like getting fancy, add some food coloring to the frosting and sprinkle with colored sugar.

If you let these cookies sit a day or so they get all soft and chewy and, oh my God, they’re good!

Rolled Almond Wafers
Family Recipe

3/4 cup finely ground unblanched almonds
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 TB flour
2 TBS heavy cream

Mix ingredients in a saucepan and heat, stirring until butter melts. On a baking sheet lined with a silpat, drop 1 tsp 3 inches apart. Bake 6 at a time about 7 minutes or until the edges begin to brown but the centers are still bubbly. WATCH THEM CAREFULLY.

Cool a short time (about 90 seconds) then loosen with a thin knife and wrap each around a wooden spoon handle. Lay joined side down on a rack to cool.

Spritz
Family recipe

10 ounces butter
7 1/2 ounces sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 ounces blanched, ground almonds
15 ounces flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, mix well. Blanch almonds and grind, then add to mixture. Add flour 5 ounces at a time. Mix well after each addition. Look for the dough to be slightly crumbly.

Use a cookie press to shape dough into the shape of your choice. Bake at 400 ° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.

Alternatively, roll out the dough and cut circles and rings. Bake as above. When baked, spread jelly of your choice on the circles and top with the rings. Dust the tops with powdered sugar.

The nuts can be omitted from this recipe to make it a straight butter cookie, which is what I do when I make the jelly versions because Scot loves them but can’t eat the nuts.

Ma Richmond’s Shortbread
This recipe comes down from Scot’s family

14 ounces room temp butter
1/4 c. crisco
1 cup firmly packed confectioner’s sugar
6 cup flour

Preheat oven to 325° and line baking sheets with brown paper.

Cream together butter, crisco, and sugar. Add flour a little bit at a time. Dough should be slightly crumbly. Work dough by hand until it reaches a uniform consistency. Divide dough into sixths. Roll out 1/2 inch thick circles. Using fingertips, press dimples into the edge. Cut 8 wedges per circle. Bake on brown paper until the outside edges begin to get golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boys and Their Butts

Liam got out of the bath tonight and started scratching his butt.

"My butt itches!" he announced.

"So scratch it."

He proceeded to do so with such vigor that he wouldn't take the 5 steps from the bathroom into his bedroom so that he could put on his PJ's. Finally, I had to look at him and use the same line I use on the dog.

"Liam! Leave your butt alone!"

He headed in to his room where Scot was waiting him help him dry off and get into PJ's. He started complaining that his butt still itched and Scot, always the dutiful father, inspected the area. He said he saw what looked like two tiny hives so I marched to the cupboard to pull out the spray topical anesthetic for him.

That's when Scot asked Liam exactly where it itched.

"Right in between, Dad."

Yes, he meant between his cheeks.

Scot's response?

"You're on your own with that one, kid!"

So, I went in there with the can of Dermoplast and, always the dutiful mother, inspected my kid's butt. Even between his cheeks. Then said "Hold still. This will be cold."

And I gave him a blast of Dermoplast.

"There," I said, "no more itch."

He giggled like an insane fool.

Scot got his PJ's on him and then marched him into the bathroom so that he could brush his teeth. Liam then began to complain that his butt still itched. Whereupon I told him that wasn't possible because I used stuff to make his butt numb. I think he just wanted me to spray his butt again. Weird kid.

Christmas Preparation

Christmas is consuming me.

My sister is coming in for a quick visit and is arriving late tomorrow night. We have plans for Saturday during the day and on Saturday evening we're leaving the kids with my sister and going to Scot's company Christmas party. Which just happens to be dinner at the CEO's house. Oof-dah.

In preparation for all of this I'm trying to tame the clutter, banish the dust, and suck up the beagle fur so that our house is somewhat presentable. Did I mention that I also need to bake cookies, wrap gifts, and attend the pre-school Christmas show?

Needless to say I'm finding it hard to find time to sit down and relax. Or write a blog post. Or pee.

I'm really looking forward to the visit with my sister and her family. I haven't seen them in over a year so I'm hoping we have a good time. They haven't met Jamie yet and I'm excited for them to see him in all his chubby glory. Liam hasn't seen his cousins in a long time, too, and I know that he's going to have a blast running around with them.

Once we get through the weekend I'm hoping things will get a little bit easier. Scot is taking some time off of work and he'll be home to help wrangle the kids which will free me up to finish things like baking and wrapping. If I can get to Christmas day with my sanity intact and the chores complete I'll be ecstatic. I'm just looking forward to enjoying Christmas morning with the kids.

I'm hoping to keep posting and get to it a bit more often but work around the house is really taking most of my time and by the time I sit down at night my brain is incapable of stringing thoughts together.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Isn't This Supposed To Be Fun?

There's a Christmas carol that says something to the effect of wanting your days to be merry and bright. Wonderful sentiment, that. It is so far from my reality that I don't even know where to begin.

Life has largely overwhelmed me over the last few days. Jamie finally broke the tooth he's been working on for four solid months and I thought I was due for a break. But, oh no, it was not to be. No sooner did we get that out of the way than I started to have a major heart attack over Christmas.

It seems like we go through this every year - so much to get done in just a few weeks and now that we have a second child I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate every time I let myself think about how much is involved in Christmas. There's the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the decorating and the Christmas card sending and oh it just goes on and on.

So, we got to spend our weekend feverishly trying to tackle a to-do list that was completely unruly. We manged to get it finished and we now live in something resembling a lovely home that is decorated for the holidays. Now I just have to wrap all the gifts, bake all the cookies, host a visit with my sister, make Christmas dinner, and keep up with the housework so that all our labor over the weekend is not for naught.

In the midst of all that toil we were also dealing with Jamie who was being a total crank and refusing to sleep. We thought that once the tooth broke he'd be fine and out of pain so we stopped giving him pain meds. That was a GIANT mistake. He barely slept last night - which meant that I barely slept - and we fought him for every minute of nap we could get out of him today. I was a zombie this morning and still I don't think I sat down for most of the day. By 5:30 I was sitting on the floor with the baby practically crying from exhaustion and thinking I still had to bathe him, put him to bed, and then go do the grocery shopping.

I know it will all be worth it on Christmas morning when Liam starts opening presents. Jamie's too little to understand or care, but these are the magic years with Liam. The past two Christmases with him have been full of all the joy and wonder of a child at Christmas as anyone could ask for. I know he'll be as excited this year as well. If I can survive the next 10 days, that will be my reward.

In the meantime I'll keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun and maybe I'll trick myself into believing it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure I'm a Melted Puddle on the Floor

I received the following email from my husband this morning.

When you were bathing Jamie last night, Liam said, "I wonder if Santa
will bring Jamie any presents?" I said, "I'm sure he will." Liam then
said, rather mournfully, "I sure hope he does. Otherwise Jamie will
have the same old toys." We have one hell of a good kid, y'know that?

Yeah, I think he's a keeper.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roundup

1. Liam is officially obsessed with Christmas. I put the tree up on Sunday afternoon and got the lights on it but then ran out of energy and didn't feel like pulling all the decorations out. Well, I got to spend the next 24 hours hearing "when are we going to decorate the tree?" from Liam. Non. Stop. When I finally did pull out the ornaments last night he was practically crawling up my nostrils waiting for me to get the next ornament out of its box. I'm glad he's excited, but dang, tone it down kid!

2. I am a redhead and have been all my life. Jamie is also a redhead - he has the exact same color hair that I had as a baby. Admittedly, my hair has darkened over the years - especially since I've kept it short. But I am still undeniably a redhead - or at least I think so. The public is starting to make me doubt myself.

I get comments everywhere I go about my kid's red hair and isn't he cute and oh what an adorable baby he is! I don't deny that. But at least 50% of the time these same people look at me and say "So where did he get the red hair?" ARE YOU BLIND? I'm obviously his mother. I have red hair. WHERE DO YOU THINK HE GOT IT? ARGH!

This morning I was in the grocery store and two women approached and started cooing over Jamie and his hair. Then one turns to me and says "Daddy must have red hair." I said, "No, Mommy has red hair." I was completely fed up. She gave me this look that was a mixture of utter disbelief and "damn, you're a bitch!" Suck it, lady. If you can't use your eyes, it isn't my fault.

3. It's a sad testament to what our lives are that Liam enlightened me with the following little gems today. First, he saw a UPS truck drive by and he said "THE DELIVERY TRUCK! UPS! Look, Mommy, it went that way!"

Gee. Do you think we order enough crap online?

Second, we passed a small strip mall and Liam suddenly realized that all the store were connected. And then he exclaimed "Just like Starbucks that we go to! I love Starbucks!"

Oh yes. We start them young at our house. [facepalm]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nine Months

Jamie has been with us for approximately as long as it took me to gestate him. It's a little bittersweet for me, to be honest.

The sweet comes in many forms. Nine months means he's not a newborn anymore and that we're nearing the end of the infant stage. It means that we've almost survived the first year of his life, which is no small feat. We're also in mile 24 of the marathon that is breastfeeding. I'm starting to plan out how I'm going to wean him. He's starting to make strides toward sleeping through the night - for the last several nights he's been up only once instead of his usual twice. Nursing during that wakening has been what I can only describe as desultory. He'll do it but he's not ravenous. I've lived the last 5 years of my life with interrupted sleep. I'm fairly certain I won't know what to do when I have two children that consistently sleep through.

The bitter comes from knowing that from age 1 until age 4 we will live in a constant state of butting heads with him as he learns how to behave like a civilized human being. Everyone says that two is the worst age but they lie. They say that tantrums start at two but they lie. Tantrums start within days of the 1st birthday and I can tell you in painful detail how much worse age three is than age two. So, I know that in some ways it's all downhill from here.

Which leads me wonder to myself on a daily basis why I had a baby just when Liam was exiting that lovely little stage of development and becoming someone I liked having around instead of someone I had to endure.

I think I'm going to soak up as much cute over the next three months as I can. I'm going to take all the cuddles he'll give me - which are becoming less and less as he becomes more and more mobile. I'm going to store up all those things that make infancy wonderful against the days when he's Terrifically Terribly Three.

Happy Nine Months, stinker. Thanks for lighting up our world with your smiles.


Christmas Through The Years

Christmas 2005


Christmas 2006


Christmas 2007


Christmas 2008


Christmas 2009


Friday, December 4, 2009

The Elf on the Shelf

Last year for Christmas Scot's sister bought the family a gift set of "The Elf on the Shelf" complete with our very own Santa's Spying Elf (tm). Liam was so busy with his own gifts that he never noticed it and I tucked it away to be used this year.

Well, it's December now so on Wednesday I pulled out the book and read it with Liam. They had already read it at preschool so he knew about it. When I asked him what we should name our elf he insisted to me that it wasn't real.

"That's not real, Mommy! It's just a book!"

"What are you going to do tomorrow if there's an elf here?"

"It's not real, Mommy."

He gave me The Look that said "Mom, you are *such* an idiot." I'm sure I'll see a lot of that in the teen years.

I let it go but told him that he might be surprised in the morning when there was an elf here.

When he woke up Thursday morning, he found this:



Meet Kipperbuckles. Yes, that's what the kiddo chose to name him. Don't ask because I don't know. It's a 4 year old made up word but he likes it.

Anyway, he tried to tell me again that it wasn't real. Man, nothing gets past this kid.

"That's not real, Mommy!"

"How do you know?" I ask.

"He's not moving."

"He's not supposed to move, sweetheart. He sits and watches all day long and after you go to bed, he flies away to Santa to tell him how you've been that day. Then, in the morning, he'll be watching you from a new place."

He absorbed that for awhile.

Then...

"I'm going to be good, Mommy, because I want presents from Santa."

EPIC WIN.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time Flies.

In exactly two months Liam will be 5 years old.

FIVE.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this fact. I looked at him the other day and there is no trace left of the baby or the toddler. He is officially a kid. I look back at pictures of him from just a year ago and I can still see the toddler. That's all gone now.

I'm so proud of the kid he's turning into, too. We still have our moments but generally he's wonderful to be around, he's funny, he's helpful - sometimes without even being asked, he wants to be involved with his brother even if it's just keeping him out of things that might hurt him. Liam is affectionate with all of us, creative, and silly. He is just one awesome kid and it's the most wonderful payback for all the crap we went through to get this far.

I'm proud of ya, kiddo. Keep it up.



I Swear Nothing Happened, Mom.

Jamie is in love with the vacuum cleaner and will crawl around following it whenever I'm using it. I caught him on film with his dearest love today.


I'm going to see this same look on his face when he's 16, aren't I?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Roundup

1. I did not lose 5 pounds by Thanksgiving. However, I'm fairly certain I gained 5 pounds in turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie alone.

2. The trip to my parents house went fairly well. We borrowed my mother-in-law's Subaru Forrester in an attempt to gain ourselves some cargo space and passenger room only to find out that we probably could have done as well in our Honda Accord. It was a rather cozy 6 hours each way in the car with four people (two in carseats) and a dog. It was the one and only time I've wished that I had a minivan.

It was nice to visit with the my parents and they enjoyed seeing the kids. Maggie got some vet work done by my Dad and is now the proud owner of two gaps in her teeth (she had to have two teeth removed) and a row of stitches on her right hip/flank area (she had a cyst removed). She's a happier dog, though, so I can only assume that her mouth was bothering her even though we had no idea the two teeth needed removal.

I was sick for the first portion of the visit with a nasty cold that left me hacking, nearly voiceless, and choking on my own snot (yeah, you needed that image, eh?). Just about the time that I started feeling better Scot came down with a NASTY migraine and the following day started showing symptoms of my cold. Dude, he cannot catch a break.

Jamie did about as well as I expected him to do with the interruption of his schedule and the necessity of sleeping in the same room as me. Which is to say, not great, not horrendous, but definitely not what I see at home. I'm glad to be home but I know I'm going to spend the next week re-training him to sleep at night.

Liam spent most of his time hanging with Puppa and running himself ragged with the Maggie and Archie (the dogs - Archie is my parents' Cavalier King Charles spaniel). I think he wanted to take Archie home with us - or better yet, just stay there and never come home again. :P

3. I attended my 15 year high school reunion while I was in Michigan. I, unfortunately, only got to stay for about an hour because Jamie had a complete meltdown at home which neither my mother nor my husband could calm so I was called home to deal with him. But, it was nice to see people, they were all really nice to me - even going so far as to offer me hugs in greeting - and it was obvious that my nerves over the event weren't justified. I know that I've changed since high school and it's obvious that most of them have as well. So, the rotten treatment I received at the hands of some of these people is just not important anymore. Now that it's over, I'm kind of bummed that I couldn't stay longer and that even if I could have, I would not have been able to stay out until the wee hours since I have a baby who is still nursing and needed to drive 6 hours the next day. I'm hoping I'll be able to make the 20th reunion when the kids will be a bit older and I'll have a longer leash. :)

4. It is so good to be home. I'm reveling in the quiet of two kids in bed, the husband headed there himself because of his cold, the dog sleeping on her cushion, and the rain on the roof.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: The Thankful Edition

(I know it's a few hours early but you're getting it anyway)

1. I am thankful for my husband, without whom I would not have survived the last year. Between pregnancy and then a newborn, I was ready to give up on more than one occasion. Scot picked me back up again.

2. I am thankful for Liam, who makes me laugh, gives the best hugs around, and FINALLY sleeps through the night.

3. I am thankful for Jamie’s safe arrival and for his presence in our lives. He completes our family and is one giant ball of cute.

4. I am thankful for our medical professionals. They have seen us through wrist surgery, physical therapy, pregnancy, childbirth, infant reflux, headaches, and lots of other stuff. We’d be lost without them.

5. I am thankful for Scot’s job which allows me to stay home with our kids while they’re little. I know I complain about my lot in life sometimes but I wouldn’t trade it - these years are few and short but what they get from me being home lasts far longer.

6. I am thankful for our extended family who have supported us immeasurably over the last year in more ways than I can name.

7. I am thankful our friends. Living in a toddler-driven world, they are my life line even if it is just over the internet.

8. I am thankful for Liam’s pre-school teacher, Miss Christa. She’s been his teacher for two years now and she does a great job nurturing his thirst to learn. Because of her, Liam will be more than ready for Kindergarten next fall.

9. I am thankful for jewelry insurance. It’s a little thing but without it I would never have been able to replace my wedding rings when I foolishly lost them earlier this year.

10. I am thankful for the internet. It may sound stupid but without the wonders of technology I would not be able to keep in touch with almost anyone. I’m isolated enough as it is, the internet keeps complete obscurity at bay.

11. I am thankful for Mucinex, Sudafed PE, and, Advil. I have a rotten cold for Thanksgiving this year and they’re making it slightly more bearable.

12. I am thankful to be spending the holiday surrounded by people I love and who love me in return. I can think of at least two families going through their first holiday after the loss of a child and I am grateful beyond measure that I am not in their shoes. I also wish them strength this season.

13. I am thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's A Thanksgiving Miracle

Let me be frank. (Hi, Frank!)

People think that stay-at-home-parents have all the time in the world to take care of stuff because they don't work outside the home. Well, I beg to differ. I've lived the single, no children/married, no children lifestyle, too. Trust me, it was easier. It is beyond hard to keep a house clean and neat whilst having small children. Admittedly it is easier for some people because they are, by nature, better at keeping a clean house. I know that I am not one of those people and that the war against squalor is an uphill battle for me.

There are any number of reasons I find it hard. The principal ones go by the names of Liam and Jamie. They generally go behind me and undo everything I've done in about 3.2 nanoseconds. Jamie is also reaching the stage wherein I must watch him with eagle eyes every second that he is awake lest he try to swallow a Lego. So, accomplishing even small tasks can be quite difficult for me because I'm still working my way into multi-tasking with two kids. I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm as competent at it as I will ever become because it just doesn't get better than this no matter who you are.*

I say all this so that you can appreciate what an accomplishment it is for me that I completed ALL my weekly chores last week. I still didn't get them done in the Mon-Fri window I had them scheduled for and had to spend a large part of the day yesterday doing things I hadn't gotten around to. But, even so this is no small feat for me.

Don't get me wrong, the house is by no means spotless. And I still can't find the remote to the TV. (ARGH!) But the bathrooms are clean, the carpets are vacuumed, the kitchen is clean, the surfaces are dusted, we have groceries, and the laundry is done. I managed to cook dinner almost every night, too. (Also, a HUGE accomplishment.)

I still have a long way to go to become a Domestic Diva and I'm still working on all these things becoming habits so that it seems like less of a chore all the time. But when I look at the list of all the things I do around here OTHER than childcare, I feel like Superwoman.

I honestly don't know how women who work get it all done. They are the true Superwomen.

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*unless you have live in help.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You Be The Judge

If you haven't picked up on it already, we're nerds/geeks/dweebs in this house and we love Star Wars. There is a certain little person by the name of Liam who is obsessed. We even dressed our kids up as Star Wars characters for Halloween, going so far as to make the baby Darth Vader.

So imagine our glee when we received a flier in the mail from a certain store that allows you make and dress your own stuffed animal and that flier told us that they were carrying Star Wars bears this holiday season. Yes, indeed. Darth Vader. Storm Trooper. Jedi Knight. Anakin Skywalker. All as bears. The juxtaposition is hilarious.

Well, we took one look at this flier and decided that Santa was bringing bears this year.

So, one day this week we trotted off to the store, bought the bears, got the outfits needed (which is a story in and of itself) and came home to hide our booty. This afternoon while Liam was at his grandparents' house and Jamie was napping I dug them out in order to put their outfits on them.

We bought the Jedi Knight for Liam. It's like a little Obi-Wan complete with light saber. The damn thing is ridiculously cute and the hood of the outer robe even has slits in it for the bear's ears. We put Liam in his Halloween costume and hand him this bear and it will be a Kodak moment for the ages.

And, of course, we purchased Darth Vader for Jamie since that's what he was for Halloween. I pulled out the bear and started dressing him in the Vader outfit and I kept thinking to myself "this is getting kinkier than I would like." The material the outfit is made out of has a slightly vinyl like exterior to it and it fits the bear VERY snugly. To the point of it being difficult to dress the bear. When it came time to put the "helmet" portion on the bear it became too much for me. All this bear needs is a ball gag and we're in the BDSM business.

I give you the bear:




So, you tell me. Darth Vader or BDSM?

Friday, November 20, 2009

It All Gets Better, Right?

Jamie is killing me.

His sleep is deteriorating rapidly and as usual in such cases I can't determine the cause. At least not easily. It could be reflux. It could be teething. It could be developmental. It could be all three. It could be none of these. I've switched his medication schedule around, added in some extra Mylanta for the reflux and painkillers for the teeth. He's still a crankpot.

For most of the day today he was shrieking. If he wasn't asleep, he would shriek. Not cry. Not wail. Not shed a single tear. Just shriek at the top of his lungs to make sure I fully understood his displeasure.

I understood. Deeply.

I know this is all temporary and that it will get better with time. I know that it won't kill me or anyone else. I know that it's just an unpleasant fact of life in regards to having an infant in the house. Some days it's hard to take the long view, though.

At this rate the trip to Michigan for Thanksgiving is going to be exercise in torture and that solitary confinement cell at Gitmo is starting to look like the Ritz.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roundup

1. Thanksgiving this year is going to involve a road trip. We’re headed north to my parents’ place. We haven’t seen them for Thanksgiving (or any other holiday, really) since I was pregnant with Liam so this should be a good trip. I’m just hoping that Jamie gets his sleep under control between now and then. Otherwise, this trip is going to suck donkey nuggets. I wonder if they’ve got any spaces open at Gitmo - it couldn’t possibly be worse than what Jamie’s been putting me through lately.

2. In conjunction with Thanksgiving, I also have my 15 year high school reunion. Let me pause a moment here while I breathe into a paper bag. *hyperventilate* Ok, all done now. Anyway, I don’t know how many people will be there and I don’t think I’ve seen a single one of them since graduation day. I’ve reconnected with one or two via Facebook but to say the least I’m a little nervous. I keep flashing back to the scene in “Grosse Pointe Blank” when John and Joan Cusack are discussing reunions.

Martin Blank: Did you go to your reunion.?
Marcella: Yes. It was just as if everyone had swelled.

Yeah. I’ve swelled. Damn baby weight.

3. Jamie, little Nero that he is, has suddenly decided that baby food from a jar? Sucks. He’s become increasingly difficult to feed even his favorite foods. Today I threw up my hands in frustration and started feeding him table foods. I watched him cover himself in avocado at lunch today. But the interesting thing is that if he has something to self-feed, he’ll eat muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch better off the spoon. Sneaky little man.

4. My mother-in-law introduced me to a new and evil cookie recipe this weekend. It’s not only dead simple it’s also sinfully good.

Cake Mix Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup oil
2 eggs
12 oz chocolate chips

Blend cake mix, flour, oil, and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on sheet for 2 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

Voila! Scrumptiousness.

I keep looking at this recipe and finding yummy ways to vary it. Mint Chocolate Chips! Sin in a cookie, I’m telling you. Peanut Butter chips! Mmm, mmm, Good. How about a vanilla cake mix with cinnamon chips? Orgasmic!

I foresee this becoming a staple in our house. And I wonder why I swell.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quickly, He's On the Move...

Jamie took two steps today while supported by one of those walker toys.

It won't be long now...


video

Friday, November 13, 2009

Robert Frost Had The Right Idea

I’ve mentioned before that we have a Beagle named Maggie. Like all Beagles she is slightly smelly, incredibly neurotic, ruled by her nose, and loud when she howls. She also likes to spend a great deal of her time outside wandering the yard having an extended prowl and sniff. We have a lot of wildlife around here - chipmunks, squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and the occasional coyote - so the yard always has some new smell to be discovered by her inquisitive nose. In an effort to keep her safe from wildlife that might harm her (she was attacked by a deer the first week we lived here) and to keep her from being a nuisance to our neighbors, we installed an invisible fence and trained her to obey it.

She does very well with it. She doesn’t generally approach the borders of the fence, she knows exactly where she can and cannot go without getting zapped and if she does wander into the fence line she jumps back in bounds quickly.

The point is we make an effort not only keep her safe but to avoid annoying our neighbors with our pet.

The same cannot be said about one of our next door neighbors.

About a year or so ago, they adopted a dog from Animal Friends. The dog is in large part Walker Hound (aka the Treeing Walker Coonhound) and as a result has many of the same characteristics of our beagle but is about 3 times her size. Brody is as sweet as they come - he’s friendly, he obeys voice commands, he loves to play with people and other pets (apparently he LURVES cats). Like many hounds, Brody also has separation anxiety and when he is left alone in his house, he gets destructive. Very destructive.

My neighbors’ solution to this problem is to not leave him in the house when they are gone. If they cannot take Brody wherever it is they are headed, he is left loose to roam the neighborhood at will. He does not keep to his yard - once again, being a hound, he is ruled by his nose - and does whatever he damn well pleases no matter whose property he is on. They installed invisible fencing and then did not take the time to properly train the dog to it so once he figured out that the shock stopped as long as he just kept going, he stopped paying any attention to the fence at all. It didn't matter how hard they shocked him at that point.

He digs. He poops in other people’s yards. He trees other people’s cats. He gets into garbage. He poops on back porches. He barks at cats/squirrels/whatever he has treed. He drives other people’s dogs absolutely wild. He wanders far and wide across a range of busy and dangerous roads that often take out animals the size of a full grown white-tailed buck.

His owners, you ask? Oblivious. They don’t care. Their response is “just call if you have a problem.” So, you call. They take care of whatever the issue is. They apologize.

The next day the dog is out doing the same thing again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This has been going on for over a year. The husband of this family happens to be a lawyer and should know what the laws are regarding nuisance pets in our area. I’m sure he’s aware and just doesn’t give a damn. But it makes the rest of the neighborhood loath to get into it with these people. The wife is totally oblivious. She just doesn’t see the problem. She thinks everyone is fine with it and when something is mentioned to her, she always has an excuse as to why it either a) wasn’t Brody or b) isn’t a big deal.

She’s always happy to offer an apology. But that’s all it ever is.

Now, I have spent a lot of time over the last year trying to beat into Liam’s head that sorry is all well and good but if you don’t change your behavior and stop doing whatever it is you’re sorry for, then the apology means nothing. He seems to be getting it.

If my 4 year old gets it, she should be able to figure this out, too.

So, I’ve taken to yelling at Brody to get the hell off my lawn every chance I get and I’m just waiting for her to approach me to try and “clear the air.”

At which point the air isn’t going to get a whole lot less clear as I give her an earful of what the neighborhood thinks of her, her dog, and her non-existent pet ownership skills. I’m the daughter of two veterinarians. I know whereof I speak on such topics.

It’s probably going to make me “that” neighbor but I was already halfway there anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Five Things I Want My Kids to Know

1. I want them to know that Scot and I love them unconditionally. It doesn't matter where they go, what they do, or who they love, we will love them. Always.

2. I want them to know that we believe in them. We believe that they can do whatever they set their minds to and that they can succeed.

3. I want them to know how to clean up after themselves, how to make a meal or two, how to do laundry. These things don't just magically happen because a house elf works for us. They're hard work and shouldn't be taken for granted.

4. I want them to know and understand that not everyone is as fortunate as they are and not everyone can afford the lifestyle that we can. I want them to be willing to help people who can't make ends meet.

5. I want them to know what a gift it is to have a sibling - someone who will always have your back, always try to understand what you're going through, always be there for you when you need them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moments

I was going to write an entirely different blog post tonight.

I was going to write about The Case of the Humongous Hives or possibly spend time openly mocking those that have a problem with stork parking.

But then I had a moment.

Jamie had a hard time going to bed tonight. Because we had a doctor's appointment late in the afternoon to try to deal with the hive issue, we got very off-schedule as far as the evening went. He fell asleep in the car on the way home from the doctor and by the time we finally made it home his dinner was late, my dinner was late, his bath was late, and bedtime was late. So, although he nursed normally before bed, he started screaming as soon as I put him in the crib.

I let him go for a little while and ran downstairs to take care of a few quick chores while Scot got Liam ready for bed. By the time I was done, Jamie was still screaming and I could tell that he was just having a hard time letting go and going to sleep. Rather than listen to him scream any longer, I got him out of his crib and settled down in the rocking chair with him.

I got him calmed a bit by popping his pacifier back in his mouth and started rocking with him. He cuddled up close in my arms and laid his head against my heart. As we slowly rocked back and forth I watched his eyelids start to droop and he began to doze off. I could feel his weight snuggled against me and time seemed to freeze around me as I soaked up the simple moment of my baby boy asleep in my arms. I wish I could explain the overwhelming rush of love I felt as I sat there looking at him.

It's so easy to lose yourself in minutia when you're scrambling after two little ones. Every now and then you get a moment and I try my very best to let everything else go and live in that moment for as long as it lasts. I make a conscious effort to make a memory out of that moment.

I got one tonight. I hope I get one tomorrow.

Spit Take

Remember this post?

This morning's installment came from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in which Daisy informed Mickey that she "loves playing pretend doctor!!"

Do you think she and Donald indulge in a little BDSM back at the nest?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technology Saves the Day

As much as I dislike it, we generally live our lives in totally disorganized chaos. I grew up with my parents constantly nagging me to pick up that, clean up this, and sort out the archaeological dig that was my bedroom.

As I've gotten older, those early bad habits have followed me and I'm not the best housekeeper in the world. In fact, I'm pretty mediocre. With two small kids, things get even worse. I really fell off the wagon when I got pregnant with Jamie and the morning sickness hit about a nanosecond after I peed on the home pregnancy test. I'm not good at being pregnant so we struggled through my pregnancy, I gave birth, and Jamie promptly turned our home into his own little Gitmo with his propensity for sleep deprivation.

The housework suffered further.

Life only seems to get crazier as time goes on and the kids get older, but I find that I feel less harried and out of control if the house doesn't look like a bomb filled with toys, unfolded laundry, and dirty pots went off inside it. So, for the last couple of months I've been struggling to crawl back up on the wagon and and take the reins away from that wench who's been driving lately. I divided my weekly household chores out over the days of the week and I try to keep to it - even though I haven't been so successful at it. Plus, there's all the ferrying of children and running of errands and doctor's appointments and haircuts, oh my!

And then I got an iPod touch.

Oh, you handy, slick little piece of technology, you have seduced me with your colorful screens and your oh so useful apps.

I went looking for something that I could use to keep to-do lists and I ended up downloading a free app called "Errand." You can set it up to schedule items daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly; it allows to push an item to the following day; it comes with a file of stock clip art and you can assign each task its own little icon and you can also use existing personal photos for the same purpose. When you're in the home screen of the iPod, it will tell you how many tasks you have left to complete.

I'm in love. I think I need professional help because every time I get to touch that "errand complete" button and I get a sick little thrill. Yay! I did it! I found myself thinking today that it needs a short little celebration animation for when you've completed all your tasks for the day. This app makes me want to do my housework just so I can hit the button.

So, ya got any chores for me?

Monday, November 9, 2009

ABC's

A - Age: 33
B - Bed size: King, Baby!
C - Chore you hate: laundry
D - Dog's name: Maggie
E - Essential start your day item: A caffiene drip. I miss it.
F - Favorite color: green
G - Gold or Silver: silver
H - Height: 5'8"
I - Instruments you play: piano
J - Job title: Mom
K - Kid(s): Liam (4), Jamie (8 mos)
L - Living arrangements: own a house
M - Mom's name: Sue
N - Nicknames: Hey you?
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: 4 times as a child, all related to kidney issues
P - Pet Peeve: drivers who irritate me.
Q - Quote from a movie: "What's the situation?" "Two blokes and a fuckload of cutlery!"
R - Right or left handed: right
S - Siblings: 1 sister
T - Time you wake up: 6:30am
U- Underwear: um, yes
V - Vegetable you dislike: beets
W - Ways you run late: When my children conspire against me. And I hate it when they do because I'm pathologically early.
X - X-rays you've had: teeth, ankle, arm, kidneys, wrist, I'm sure there's more.
Y - Yummy food you make: to die for Chocolate Cake
Z - Zoo favorite: baby elephants

Christmas Crazy

I didn't get to posting yesterday so I'll attempt the double-post today.

First, for the 3 people that read this blog, I would like to direct you to Burgh Baby's blog. She is currently attempting to raise $1000 to be split between Toys for Tots and a local shelter so that some Christmas Crazy can be brought to kids in need.

Read her latest post for the best reason yet to give even $1.00, if you have it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All We Need Is A Car Up On Blocks in The Driveway

Living in suburbia has a culture all its own. We moved into our house in the 'burbs almost 2.5 years ago and we're still trying to adjust. Before we lived here we lived within Pittsburgh city limits (don't blame Lukey on me! I never voted for him!) on a teeny tiny lot with about 3 trees - one of which was really the neighbor's. Our lawn was approximately the size of a postage stamp (as was our kitchen) and took precisely 87 seconds to mow. Yard care was not a high priority nor a time consuming task.

The reason I tell you this is to explain why it is that when we were looking for a new house we never even considered how much yard care a given house would involve. Well, we found THE house and it just happens to be situated on half an acre and is surrounded by large maples and oaks. Like many homes in and around Pittsburgh, our backyard is a hill. We've got about 20 feet or so of flat ground directly out the back of the house and then it starts going up. So, the whole back hill is woods. The rest of the property is ringed with trees.

You can imagine what this means come Fall.

Now, it seems like the people in my neighborhood all belong to the Lawn Mafia. I'm not lying when I tell you that I once came home on a 20 degree day when it was snowing to find my neighbor across the cul de sac mowing his lawn and picking up leaves. The man is obsessed. He's the worst example but everyone around here puts in a lot of work from early spring to early winter caring for their yards, gardens, and lawns.

Us? Well, not so much. It's not that I don't want to be able to devote time to to it but we have the youngest kids in the neighborhood and it always seems like there's something else going on to prevent us from doing more than the bare minimum. Last Fall I was pregnant, had a 3.5 year old, and my husband had a broken wrist. The few nice days we had, I just didn't have the energy to spend all day on leaf clean up. This year, I have an infant, a 4.5 year old, and a husband with the Hamthrax.

To top it off, our leaves tend to blow onto the lawns of at least 4 of our neighbors. I know they don't appreciate it. Last year Neighbor Man (he of the 20 degree lawn mowing) left several bags of leaves out with OUR trash just as a silent dig to the fact that he was cleaning up our mess thankyouverymuch. This year, another neighbor has erected a leaf fence to defend themselves from our leaves.

I feel so bad, but I also feel torn. I only have so much time and energy and while I *do* make an effort, I can't seem to get completely on top of the job, and keep the house clean, the laundry done, the kids fed, and myself remotely sane. It seems like every year I throw in the towel on the leaves in an effort to keep up with everything else. You'd think that with a college degree and no job, I'd be better at this. But I'm so not. Sigh.

So, yeah, we're those neighbors you give the evil eye for bringing down your property values.

UPDATE: After writing this post I felt so guilty about not raking leaves that I went outside and raked for an hour and a half. The job isn't even close to done but it's the thought that counts, right? RIGHT?

Friday, November 6, 2009

OINK!

I bet you think this post is going to be about eating too much Halloween candy. Wrong. Although, don't get me wrong, my jeans would like to send me a fast email to the effect of "stop eating that crap! The trunk is full."

Ahem.

The Swine Flu has landed at our house. As of yet only Scot is afflicted so we've sequestered him to one room and tried to keep the kids away as much as possible. It would be less problematic if I could get my hands on the stinking vaccine for the kids. Unfortunately, my pediatrician is only giving it to kids who have underlying respiratory problems and my kids don't count. I can't even get the regular seasonal flu vaccine for Liam. They finally got some in and are only vaccinating kids 3 and under so Jamie got his first dose but I'm still shit out of luck for Liam.

Even more frustrating was when my neighbor told me that her pediatrician is giving out both vaccines like candy. I wish I knew what arbitrary measure they dole these things out by.

Anyway, back to the point, we're on full lockdown this weekend and I'm going to be going it alone with the kids for the most part. I'm already exhausted, just thinking about it.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baked Goods

When I sat down to write a blog post tonight I was having trouble figuring out what to write about. So, I did some poking around the internet to see if there was something to spark my writing. I was striking out entirely until I wandered over to PerezHilton.com to rot my brain. Yes, I know. You think less of me now. But I spend a lot of time alone with small children. I need a break from their prattle on occasion. It comes in the form of celebrity gossip.

Having gotten that embarrassing little admission out the way let me tell you what I found.

This interview with Sarah Jessica Parker just astounds me. The more I think about it, the stabbier I get.

“I love the smell of diapers; I even like when they’re wet and you smell them all warm like a baked good,” she said.

Ok, lady, what the hell are you smoking these days? When has a child's diaper soaked with pee EVER smelled like a baked good? I've changed thousands of wet diapers and I'm sure I have thousands more to go. This analogy has NEVER leapt to mind.

“The only tragedy would be if their feet are bigger than mine,” Parker said.

Really. That would be the worst thing that could happen? Your twin girls couldn't borrow your shoes. What a tragedy. Nothing compares. Certainly not things like earthquakes that kill millions or children who die before their time. No, the real tragedy would be if your children HAD BIGGER FEET THAN YOU DO.

I'm left speechless and shaking my head. Wow. Just wow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remember when?

A few days ago I wrote this post about being tortured by children's television every day and what a pain in the butt it can sometimes be. This morning, Liam said to me "Mommy, did you watch Playhouse Disney when you were a little girl?"

Back when I was a kid, cable didn't exist, you had 4, maybe 5, stations to choose from, and if the President was on you were screwed. Saturday morning was the highlight of your childhood week because you got to tiptoe out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn and turn on Saturday Morning Cartoons. Every station had their own lineup and I, at least, generally picked one station and watched until my Mom made me turn it off. I remember a lot of Smurfs and Gummi Bears and Looney Tunes. It was quasi-educational but mostly it was just fun. I spent all week waiting to watch on Saturday morning and was always bummed when they were over.

These days? Not so much. I can pretty much find something cartoon-y or educational (or both) on TV 24 hours a day. Especially with things like Noggin and On Demand out there.

So, this morning when I explained to Liam about how we didn't have cable back then (and thus did not get or have The Disney Channel), that we didn't get it until I was in high school, and that we had one morning a week to watch cartoons he had a very confused look on his face.

However, perhaps the pervasive lack of kid's TV back when I was a little is what led me to watch soap operas with my mother from the time I was about five years old!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flummoxed

As I was wandering the aisles of Giant Eagle doing my grocery shopping this morning, I ran across a product that both confused and horrified me. So much so that I stood there in front of other shoppers, whipped out my cell phone, and snapped a picture. I give you the Batter Blaster.




Yes, indeed. Pancake batter from a whipped cream can. Organic, no less! How can something so unnatural be organic?!

On the one hand I look at this and think "is pancake batter really that difficult to make?" Even if you don't want to mix it from scratch, walk three aisles over and pick up a box of Bisquick. Even simpler than that is the bottle of Bisquick that you add water to, shake up, and pour in the pan. Are we all really in such a hurry and so lazy as to need pre-made pancake batter in a NOZZLE CAN?!

And then there's the other hand. This is the part where I think "Ew." I don't care how organic it is, that shit can't taste good. It can't possibly rise properly leaving you with leaden pancakes that will sit in your stomach doing their best impersonation of a pile of bricks.

Hold me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Roundup

1. I have officially reached whale proportions. I need to lose 30 pounds and I need to do it last week. Since I have two small kids going to gym isn't exactly convenient. So, it's time to step up the yard work/housework regime and cut back on the crap food. Oh sweet Kit Kats, how I'll miss thee.

If I can drop 5 pounds by Thanksgiving I'll consider that a victory.

2. Liam cracks us up all the time. His latest was using the phrase "two headed duck crosser." We gave him the "buh?" face the first time he used it and asked where he heard that. He said "Flushed Away!" We had watched the movie earlier in the day so we thought about it, pondered it, reverse engineered it and realized that he meant "two faced double crosser." Ha!

3. Jamie is racing through his developmental milestones. He'll be 8 months in a couple of days and he is crawling, pulling up, and cruising with abandon. He is just itching to chase his brother and the dog. At this rate he'll be walking before he's a year old. I know that all parents say this but I can't believe he's growing so quickly. Then again, I'm shocked that Liam will be 5 in a few months. How did that happen?

4. I had my first parental experience of the kid-up-all-night-puking illness. That? Sucked. I won't gross you out with the details but the sheer lack of sleep was heinous and I'm used to getting less sleep. What's worse is that it was the first night in forever that Jamie slept really well and instead of sleeping I was cleaning up puke. Yay parenthood!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Five Movies

I was puttering around the blogosphere today and ran across a post in which the blogger discussed the five movies she could see day after day and never get bored. It got me thinking about what five movies I would choose. In no particular order they are:

1. Sense and Sensibility - despite Kate Winslet's heaving bosoms this is a great flick.
2. Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea - yes, I know they're both 4 hours long but I love them, so there.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You - Cheesy teen flick based on Shakespeare with a great soundtrack. What could be better?
4. Clerks - A classic.
5. Shakespeare in Love - Even though Gwyneth Paltrow makes me stabby, I really like this film.

I'm sure there are more but those are what came to mind. As I look at it, it's a bit heavy on the costume drama. But who doesn't love a good costume drama?

Happy Halloween!

Well, Halloween was a bit of a bust this year because I spent the night before awake all night with Liam puking. So, we missed out on trick or treating. Sigh. Maybe next year. Halloween seems to be a bit cursed for us.

Anyway, because of illness and the fact that Liam refuses to put his costume back on so I can actually get decent pics of the kids in their outfits, here's the best I could do this year.

Liam was Luke Skywalker

Jamie was Darth Vader


It was a very Star Wars Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ninja! Ninja Spud!

I don't know what it is about little kids but they can make more noise than a troop of howler monkeys. All day long Liam sounds like a herd of elephants as he traverses the house. He also likes to announce everything he does.

"Mommy! I have to potty!"

"Mommy! I pooped!" (My favorite. I have also been reliably informed that he announces this fact at daycare as well. *eye roll*)

"Mommy! Jamie's trying to get my Star Wars toys!"

And on and on and on. Don't even get me started on the fact that he can have a tantrum, be screaming his fool head off over nothing, and set Jamie to screaming in response. That's a special brand of fun.

And then bedtime rolls around and he gets tucked in and well all breathe a sigh of relief.

But God help you if he has to get out of bed for anything and come find you. The kid is like a super triple black belt ninja. On more than one occasion I've been sitting quietly in the family room either watching TV or spending too much time on the internet when suddenly there is a little person RIGHT THERE next to me. I nearly jump out of my skin.

Once, I got up out of my chair to go use the bathroom and there he was. I almost didn't have to use the bathroom after that.

It constantly amazes me how much noise he can create until darkness falls. Then he switches on his Ninja Senses and proceeds to scare the living daylights out of us!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Things I Say at Least 13 Times a Day

1. “No, Jamie, you may not have the computer!”
2. “Thank you for urping on me, child, that’s just lovely.”
3. “Liam, just go to the bathroom!”
4. “Maggie you just came in!”
5. “Smarty pants!” (to Liam)
6. “Jamie, if you want to get to that, you’re going to have to learn how to pull up.”
7. “Stop screaming, roll over on your tummy and sit up, Jamie!”
8. “Mommy needs a nap.”
9. “No!”
10.“Maggie, *what* is your problem?”
11. “I love you, kiddo.”
12.“I want a vacation.”
13.“Maggie! STOP LICKING THE CARPET!”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Is Not Your Parents Looney Tunes

We're TV addicts in this house and my kids watch a fair amount of TV. Liam likes to watch kiddie shows when he gets up in the morning and on days that he doesn't have pre-school I generally let him watch about an hour and a half of programming. I will also let him watch one movie per day. Yes, it sounds like a lot but it doesn't keep him from being so smart he scares me and it doesn't seem to make him hyperactive so I don't really have a problem with it. We try to watch Playhouse Disney, PBS Kids, or Noggin so we make an attempt for his TV watching to be educational.

Of course this means that I get tortured by children's TV programming every. single. day. If you name the show, I have probably seen at least one episode of it. Except Yo Gabba Gabba. That shit scares me.

I've noticed lately that either the people that come up with kids TV are just oblivious or they are intentionally slipping in stuff to makes the parents go "oh hell, they did not just say that did they?"

A few examples:

  • Handy Manny. Manny Garcia and his nine tools live in the town of Sheetrock Hills and they help out the townspeople great and small with their handyman type problems. Included in the cast of characters is Kelly, the owner of the local hardware store. If you watch the show enough you will see that Kelly always has *just* what Manny needs. The most esoteric part for your project? Yep, Kelly's got it. And they shove it in your face, too! "Kelly, you always have what we need!" Yeah, she's always got what Manny needs. In her pants.
  • Special Agent Oso (Creepy): A turquoise and yellow panda bear (the fuck?) who in James Bond fashion helps little kids out with their problems. Well, James Bond minus the booze and broads. They even go so far as to parody Bond titles and sing Shirley Bassey-esque themes. This morning I was treated to an episode entitled "My Cousin's Special Salad." Ok, that's not even subtle anymore! The dialogue even got as a far as "I better toss this salad fast!" and "Hey! You're tossing the salad!" and "You used salad forks to toss the salad!" (um, ow?) I mean, that's just blatant.
  • Max and Ruby: Two bunny rabbits who seem to live back in the Little House age, have no parental supervision to speak of, and Ruby is a total busybody that Max has to find a way to circumvent every time. For each episode Max says one word over and over while the oblivious Ruby keeps not understanding his meaning. In one episode she tells Max "No, Max, no one gets in Grandma's special box." EXCUSE ME?!
  • Franklin: This one is about a turtle named Franklin and all his forest friends - none of whom have real names, they just go by Bear, Possum, etc. There is a girl character by the name of Beaver (I know!) and she is aptly named because she is a total See You Next Tuesday. But, come on! You had to have a character named BEAVER?!
I can't figure out if they're trying to be like Looney Tunes which are funny to kids and even funnier to adults but honestly? They are totally missing the mark if that's what they're going for. Looney Tunes had style, it was double entendre of the highest order. This stuff? Pains me. It really does.

So, I usually spend the morning trying not to do a spit take with my coffee while the TV is on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And Suddenly The Universe Puts it All in Perspective

I've been grousing a lot lately about how hard having an infant is and how much I wish I could have a day off. Jamie's been sick and teething so I haven't been getting a lot of sleep and as the days drag on and I continue to get very little sleep I have more frequent thoughts of having a vacation.

I dream about going away for the weekend. Without the kids. Without the husband. Without the dog. Going somewhere ALONE and having no responsibility except to myself and my own desires. Sleep when I want and for as long as I want. Eating alone and without interruption. Reading a book. Watching adult TV.

I constantly wonder what I thought I was doing having another baby just when life was getting easier with Liam.

And then I walked into daycare this morning with Liam.

There was a sign posted on the door about a little girl who attends the daycare. She was 18 months old and she died of SIDS at her home on Friday. She was healthy in all ways. Now, those parents have lost their little girl with no warning.

I cannot imagine the pain they must be going through. I can't imagine trying to go on with your life when there's a hole in it where your kid used to be. Suddenly, my life really doesn't seem that bad or that hard. I bet those parents would give anything to get up in the middle of the night with their little girl. I bet they'd give anything to be exasperated with her getting into something for the 87th time when she knows better.

So, even though I'm tired and cranky and on the edge of getting sick myself I'm happy right where I am.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Call Him Prince Michael

I had to take Jamie to the doc this morning for his cold. Turns out the poor kid has his first ear infection (that would certainly explain the fact that he scratched his ear bloody).

Because he had a fever, they handed us a baby sized mask at the door.



Quite the fashion statement, no?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day

As if the baby product market wasn't glutted enough with specialty gizmos and gadgets we now have this cleverly named product:


Yes, you read that correctly. Boogie Wipes. Scot came home with them from Walgreens because Jamie has a cold. I'm not against using them but I'm still trying to figure out how they're better than plain old diaper wipes.

Here's what the package says:

"Developed by Moms tired of chasing runny noses. Unique formula to dissolve mucous. Moisturizes with Vitamin E, Chamomile, & Aloe. Alcohol Free (I SHOULD HOPE!). Hypoallergenic. Gentle enough for all ages."

Somehow I don't think any Mom of a kid with a cold is going to be chasing that runny nose any less because they used a Boogie Wipe.

Clever advertising though - got us to buy it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Meet the Pumpkins

Here are the hand-carved fruits of our labors.


From left to right we have Flamey, Batsy, Bob, and that's Bob Jr. sittin' on top.

There Are No Words

As seen at the Farmer's Market where we picked up pumpkins this morning:


Weird Things People Say

Having kids opens you up to all kinds of crazy comment and suggestions. I could make a whole blog out of the weird things people have said to me about my kids or the completely ludicrous parenting suggestions that people have made. It's like your life suddenly becomes public property and people feel the need to share. Over share, really.

As a result, I'm used to getting comments about my kids when I'm out and about with them. They're both pretty cute kids with l-o-n-g eyelashes that every girl would kill for. I regularly get comments about how adorable they are and it happens especially often with Jamie because he's at that cute pudgy baby stage and he happens to have a full head of bright red hair. We also have a large senior population in our area (us youngins are far outnumbered) and they all love to dote on the kids they come across.

Once, when Liam was a baby, I was at the mall and sitting in the food court with him while I shoveled down some lunch. An elderly gentleman approached me and told me how cute my baby was and then proceeded to tell me that I better take care of him and raise him up right because God would punish me if I didn't. He also stated that he knows about caring for kids because he gives money to St. Jude's so I just better take care of that baby.

Buh?

It was, by far, the strangest encounter I ever had while Liam was a baby. Weirdly enough, 4 years later I ran into the same dude while shopping at the local grocery store. Luckily I didn't get the same speech! Although he did tell me to take care of that baby (Jamie this time).

The strangest comment I've gotten regarding Jamie happened just a week or so ago. I was in Walgreens and I had him in the stroller. I was walking down an aisle and had to walk past the little in-store clinic and the nurse practitioner there stopped me and exclaimed how cute Jamie was.

"Oh my goodness! He is so cute! He's so cute he doesn't even look real!"

Um, thank you?

Sometimes I don't even know how to respond.

The Cast of Characters

Hi there and welcome to my blog. I figure the first thing to do is introduce the people I'll be talking about most so here we go.

Cari: That's me. Stay at home mother to two boys.

Scot: My husband. We've been married 10 years.

Liam: Our older son who is currently 7 years old.

Jamie: Our younger son who is currently 3 years old.

Maggie: The dog. A beagle. Hence the title of the blog. She brings her own special brand of neurotic to our house.

I'm not sure what this blog will evolve into. It's not strictly a Mommy Blog but I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time talking about the kids because I spend a lot of time *with* the kids. We'll just have to see how it goes.