Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Not only has Liam started kindergarten bringing a whole new schedule to our lives but I'm attempting to make Jamie give up his morning nap.  He'll be 18 months old in 4 days and, quite honestly, I've had it with this two naps a day business.  It's a pain in my bahookey, thankyouverymuch.

With Liam starting school and changing schedule anyway, I figured I'd just add on a few more logs to the fire and rip away Jamie's morning nap, too.  Did I mention Jamie is working on a molar at the moment, as well?  It won't kill me, right?  RIGHT?

Efforts to this point have been scattershot.  In the last 7 days he's taken only one nap on 6 of them.  However, yesterday I put him down in the morning due to a bad night's sleep the previous night.  He slept for an hour and a half; I figured I'd get at least an hour out of him in the afternoon.

That was a pipe dream.

He chatted in the crib for an hour before my mother-in-law (who was watching him so I could attend an appointment) gave up and got him out.  He was happy and giggly all the way to bedtime and then slept like a rock all night.


So today I didn't offer the morning nap and planned to put him down after I dropped Liam off at school.  We made it through lunch time, although he was cranky as hell in spots, and then we had about 20 minutes to kill before we had to leave for school.  Jamie was whining and cranking about me telling him no about something or other when suddenly it was silent.

"Jamie!  Where are you, buddy?"


"Jamie!  Honey, what are you doing?"

[crickets and more crickets]

Crickets are never good.  NEVER.  I figured he was doing something particularly evil so I got up to go look for him.  I nearly stepped on him because this is what I found:

He stopped crying and cranking and whinging and whining and simply fell over asleep in the middle of the floor.  Apparently he wanted that morning nap I didn't give him.

After snapping a picture or five I had to wake him up.  I felt bad but we had to leave in 20 minutes to take Liam to school so I really had no choice.  When we got back from drop off I put him down for a nap.  He slept from 12:45 until 3:00 when I had to wake him up so we could go meet Liam at the bus stop.  He was so sacked out that when I went in to get him he was still all tucked up in the same position he was when I tucked him in for nap.

I'm hoping that in another week he'll be feeling more like himself.  In the meantime, I'll keep a watch under my feet for a randomly sacked out toddler.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sleep Walking

Jamie and I went for a walk this morning.  I need the exercise and he needed to be distracted during the time he would normally be napping.  We're trying to transition him to one nap and it's been. . . difficult.

Someone fell asleep.

Hopefully that 20 minutes catnap will get him to his regular nap time with a minimum of crankitude.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On the Second Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was the first full day of school for Liam.  So, we got to do drop off for the first time and he got to ride the bus home for the first time.

Once again, Liam was excited as a kid at Christmas.  While we were eating lunch I told him that we had to finish eating and then get ready for school.  He immediately added, "And then the fun begins!"

He did great at drop off and when it came time for the bus to drop him off we all headed up to the bus stop to meet him.

Waiting for brother!

Finally, the bus pulled up and the kids started pouring out.  I could see Liam waving at me from the window of the bus - right up front!  I managed to catch a shot of him getting off the bus.

He ran directly to me, gave me a big hug and said "It was so fun, I didn't want to stop!"

If I still hear that by the end of the year, I'll consider it a victory.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Da Da Daaaaah!

It makes me giggle every time I hear it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Day He's Been Waiting Over a Year For Is Finally Here

Today Liam became a kindergarten student.

He's spent the entirety of the last week quizzing me on how many days he has left until school starts and randomly announcing how excited he is to start school.  The only problem was that today was an orientation day and we didn't go to school until 1:00 pm. 

It was like telling a kid that the stockings on Christmas morning were to hang where they were - stuffed to the gills - and were not to be touched until after Christmas dinner.  You can imagine what that made my day like.  I tried to keep him busy (Hello, Costco run!) but really, all he was focused on was school.

Finally, it was time and he was ready to go.

We headed off to school and met with other parents and kids and then met his teacher.  We went to the classroom and he found his seat and he got to color while the teacher talked to the parents about various administrative points.

Once we were done with that, the teacher gathered the kids together and read a story with them.

After that we went outside to find a bus waiting.  They got to meet a bus driver and a police officer talked to them about bus safety.  Then, it was onto the bus for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood!

With all that excitement out of the way, it was time to come home.  Tomorrow is his first day of school on the regular schedule and he's all ready to go.  He has his backpack ready and we know who his bus buddy is - an older child at school who will help him get on the bus and get off at the right stop.  It's one of the neighbor kids so he knows her.

He's so tired from all the build up of going to school that he's just exhausted tonight.  I'm proud of him, though.  He did fantastic!  Tomorrow, Jamie and I will be waiting for him when he gets off the bus and I bet he'll be all smiles.  I can't wait.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Week

In one week, there will be a kindergarten student living in this house.

It seems like just a few weeks ago that we moved into this house with Liam as a 2.5 year old.  I feel like we've only scratched the surface of really settling into caring for our house and yet, here it is, three years later and Liam is starting school.  Time really does go by quickly.

Liam is excited.  I don't know how he could be anything but.  He's been talking about going to kindergarten for almost a year and a half now.  He's so very ready to be a big kid and ride the bus and have a backpack and learn all kind of great things.

We had a little welcome reception at the school the other night for the incoming kindergarten class and I could tell that it made Liam that much more excited.  He got to meet the other kids and run around on the playground with them.  We also got to see his classroom and meet the principal.  When we came home that night, Liam asked me if school were starting the next day and I could tell he was a little disappointed when I said it wasn't.

So now he has me counting down the days until kindergarten starts.  I'm so proud of what a great kid he is and I know he's going to do just fine.  I hope he loves learning and loves school for many, many years to come.

That first day of school, I'm going to be waiting for him at the bus stop and I can't wait to hear all about his day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Letter to Granddad

Liam has decided that he wants to learn how to read.  I honestly believe that he's halfway there already but I don't think he realizes that.  I think he reads more than he lets on.

He has the fundamentals down pat - he knows his letters and the sounds they make, he can write them all, there are even a number of words he really can read that he learned in pre-school.  He just needs to be able to put the blocks together and build his reading castle.

To that end, I asked my father-in-law, Tom, if he would help Liam.  I'm afraid that if I try to do it, Liam and I will butt heads and get frustrated.  I don't want to turn him off of reading because of frustration with me.  Tom, on the other hand, taught elementary school for over 30 years and is a fantastic teacher.  Who better to teach Liam?  When I asked, he was happy to help.

After I got off the phone with Tom, I told Liam that Granddad was going to work with him on reading sometime soon.  I warned him that it would take practice but that I knew he could do it. 

Out of nowhere, Liam piped up that he wanted to send Granddad a card to remind him about the reading lessons.  Well, he was in luck because I'm into cardmaking/scrapbooking and I have a ton of supplies sitting upstairs.  When Jamie went down for his nap that day, Liam and I sat down in the office to make a card for Granddad.

Designed, executed, and written by Liam (with a little technical help from me), here is his card to Granddad:

Granddad loves pigs, thus the stamp choice

It says "Granddad, I'm looking forward to reading with you!  Liam"

"Hand stamped for you by: Liam"

Have I mentioned that my kid is made of awesome?  He's made of awesome.

Again? Really?

Last night at around 8:00, Scot looked out the back door and said "What the hell is THAT?!"

People, another tree came down.  ANOTHER ONE.  I know that much of the Pittsburgh region got slammed with storms last night but we were in the zone of no storms.  Storms to the north.  Storms to the south.  No storms here.  There wasn't a single drop of rain, rumble of thunder, flash of lightning, or gust of wind.

Despite that, we have this "little" problem facing us:

We've known for a few weeks that we have a very large, very dead tree on our back hill, situated directly in front of our treehouse.  The removal of this problem is going to require a tree service which we hadn't gotten around to yet because of the $500 we spent on a new water heater 2 weeks ago.  There's only so much room in the budget, people.

Anyway, a fairly large limb of the dead tree came down and in the process managed to take out some other baby trees.  Here's where the limb came from (look at the tree directly to the right of the tree house and go up - there's broken tree there).

A close up:

So, whether we were ready for it financially, we've got to get the tree service in here to do some damn clean up work.  So much for getting new garage doors this fall.  By the time all is said and done we will have managed to blow about 2/3 of the money required for that on unexpected home repairs.  I'd really rather go to Hawaii.


Not Hawaii.  I'd have to wear a bathing suit.  But vacation?  YES, PLEASE.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday In The Park

Today was a perfect day.

I don't get to say that very often.  There are lots of very good reasons why that's true so I'm not upset that the bad days outnumber the good but I really cherish the good days when they come.  A perfect day?  Unheard of.

To start the morning off, the kids slept in.  Jamie woke up at 7:30 and Liam didn't come downstairs until almost 8 am.  When I'm used to being up no later than 6:30, this was like sleeping in until noon.  Scot got up a bit later and he took the boys on a run for Starbucks and Loafer's cinnamon bread.  (French Toast for breakfast tomorrow!)

We puttered around the house for most of the morning and I ran out to return the kids' library books.  It was gorgeous out.  Summer days like today are very rare.  Perfect temperature.  Little to no humidity.  A wonderful breeze and perfect blue skies.  I came home knowing that we had to get outside with the kids today.  It was too pretty a day to waste.

We settled on taking the kids to Hartwood Acres for a picnic.  We packed up food, some toys, and portable music and headed out for some family fun.

We lounged and ate:

Jamie decided that he would have a cup o' "joe":

There were light saber fights:

and noogies:

We blew bubbles:

and played ball:

There were smiles and fun all around:

After we left the park, we came home and Jamie and I napped while Scot and Liam watched some Star Wars.  When Jamie got up, I set to work getting dinner made and we managed to sit down to a meal together - a meal in which we all. ate. the. same. thing.  With Mr. Pickypants (aka Liam) in the house, I'm almost always preparing more than one meal.

The kids played until bedtime and then it was off to bath and bedtime routines.  They both went to bed without trouble and Scot and I were left with some time to ourselves.

It's been the best day of the summer so far and I don't want to forget a single moment of it.

Mr. Inventive

Watching Jamie learn about the world around him is such a joy.  He's inquisitive and inventive in the way that he plays and it always ends up teaching him something new.  For example, he recently learned that his musical play table is just as much fun upside down as right side up:

He did that all by himself, by the way.  He decided the top was boring, flipped it over, sat inside it, and proceeded to tip around in it like it was the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Even better, he didn't turn the table off before flipping it so we were getting random snippets of music as he tilted.

Also, like every toddler, he's imitative in his playing.  I've mentioned before that Maggie the Wonder Beags has a problem not using the house as her personal urine receptacle.  I clean up a lot of dog pee.  So, my Bissel Little Green Clean Machine tends to spend more time out of the cleaning closet than in it.  Jamie has watched me clean up pee so many times that he is now doing this:

His only frustration is that I unplug it and it won't turn on when he flips the switch.  Not that he doesn't attempt to plug it in.  Anything that has a plug on it (steam cleaner, space heater, hand mixers) that he can get his hands on, he will drag it to an outlet and try to figure out how to get those damn prongs in the wall.  It's a constant game of "No, Jamie!"  My favorite.  He's positively bursting with the need to figure things out - you can practically hear his brain getting bigger.

Oh, and, just for fun - this is what he does these days when he realizes someone pointed a camera at him:

Total ham, that one.  Quite the contrast from Liam, who currently runs away from the camera or shows me his butt.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A  little over a year ago, we bought new furniture for the family room.  The futon couch we'd had since before we were married was long past its sell-by date and the 'nice' chair was no longer so nice because of our then-toddler's penchant for climbing all over it.  That thing was more rickety than a ride at Kennywood.

So, we picked out a new couch, a side table, and a lovely leather recliner.  We thought "Hey!  Leather is easy to clean and we have an infant with reflux and a messy 4 year old.  Perfect!"  We slapped down the money and had them deliver it all.

A year down the line and that seemingly genius idea to buy leather is a lot less genius.

See, Liam has a little problem with the ability to sit still.  As in, he does not possess this ability.  He is physically incapable of sitting still for longer than a nanosecond.

Leather has many wondrous properties but the one drawback is that it is not silent.  It creaks, you see.  I'm not even sure that's the right descriptive word but as you move around on it, it makes noise as the leather rubs against the leather.

Squirmy Liam + creaky leather = INSANE MOMMY.

He'll sit down.  Then he'll recline.  Then he needs a drink so he sits up to get it.  Then he reclines again.  Then he needs a snack so he leans over to get it.  Then he swivels his body upside down on the chair.  Then he hangs over the arm of the chair to get a toy (which makes me MENTAL because this is what destroyed the other chair in the room).  Then he reclines again.  Then he needs to climb down and pee.  Then he climbs back up.

Every. single. movement. he makes causes noise.  It's like nails on a chalkboard only leathery.  I just want to shriek at the top of my lungs "SIT STILL!"  If this keeps up, I'm going to develop a tic.

Consider this a cautionary tale the next time you buy furniture.  If you want leather but have a squirmy kid, you might want to think twice.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Aliens Stole The Real Me

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a terrible housekeeper.  If you walk into my house unannounced on a random Tuesday you're likely to find the remnants of a toy tornado scattered around, dishes rotting in the sink, enough dog hair on the carpets to knit a second beagle, and laundry (both clean and dirty) piling up.  That's just inside the house.  The yard is even worse.  I never seem to be able to manage to climb up on top of the mountain and stay there.

A week and a half ago, on a Monday morning, I got up and had my usual morning with the kids.  But, something seemed to have infected me with the need to clean.  (And before you jump to conclusions, I am NOT pregnant, nor will I ever be again.)  I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted to do that day.  I didn't overwhelm myself with everything I needed to accomplish, just the things that I could reasonably tackle that day.  Then I got to work and started crossing items off my list.

Would you believe that I finished the to-do list for that day?

It's true.  I did.  Even more shocking was the fact that I finished my to-do lists for the next four days running.  I kept wondering who replaced the real me with one who cleans.  Not only that, I did all this while taking care of the kids.  What, what, what?!

I really admire Moms out there that can get it all done - work, take care of the kids, make it to activities, clean the house, cook dinner, etc, etc, etc.  I have never been able to strike that balance in the long term and I don't even work outside the home.  Who wants to rake leaves when you could be inside watching a movie with the kids?  NOT. ME.  But the truth of the matter is that I can't do it that way anymore.  I have to get our lives, our house, and our yard organized or I'm going to drown as the kids get older and they have more activities to attend.

What's amazing to me is that a single 5 day period of concentrated work each day has led to me to a point where I can now start tackling all the little jobs that have accumulated around the house.  Those pesky little tasks that needed to be done but weren't imperative so I always said "Oh, I'll get to that later."

Well, Later has finally arrived.  I never thought I'd get here.

These days if you stop by the house unannounced on a random Tuesday you'll probably find clean dishes in the dishwasher and clean pots in the drainboard, clean laundry IN THE DRAWERS, the carpets vacuumed, and the toys in some semblance of order instead of strewn all over the house.  I hope I can keep the momentum going.  It was awfully nice to wake up to a clean house and the coffee already in the pot this morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Defy You To Make Kids Look Cuter Than This

I don't know what it is about 5 year olds in a dobak and white belt but it is just about the cutest thing on the planet.  Line them all up and it's an overload of cute, especially when they're still at the awkward stage of learning to punch and kick.

(Liam is on the far left)

If you're wondering, that huge sign in the background says "HOUSE of DISCIPLINE."  I hope Liam gets to know it well. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Carpot Slides Alone

We were at the playground yesterday and with no encouragement from me, Jamie started sliding on the slide - all by himself.

Definitely not a baby anymore.