Monday, December 22, 2008

"You're just Mommy."

Ever since our fateful trip to the ophthalmologist a couple of months ago, J has been obsessed with going to the eye doctor. You would think with all the trauma of that episode that he would be obsessed with avoiding the eye doctor, but not my little guy. Every time he gets a boo-boo, no matter how miniscule, he holds out the wound for me to see and solemnly tells me, "I hafta go to the eye doctor. I got a boo-boo." It's only intensified since our little bout with pinkeye the week before last. TH took him to urgent care because the pediatrician couldn't fit us in, and although he saw a doctor who was definitely not a pediatrician ("How about his ears?" he asked TH. "Does he have an ear infection?" ummm....you tell me, doctor.), because he looked at J's eyes it's now cemented in his mind that all sickness leads to the eye doctor.

The urgent care guy (I mean, doctor) prescribed antibiotic drops that we had to put in both eyes three times daily. Every 8 hours. Doesn't sound bad, right? Just tell him to tilt his head back, hold his lids open, and gently put 2 drops in each eye. Simple enough. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, if you could have witnessed the scene at my house when we were putting those drops in J's eyes. We laid on top of him. We bear-hugged him. We tried Laura's trick of trapping him between our legs on the floor. We tried to shoot the drops at his eyes from a couple of feet away. We--dear God, I feel guilty even writing this--put him in a headlock. Let's just say, over 2 days an entire bottle of antibiotic drops was wasted on the carpet and our clothes, and J got maybe 3 total doses before we gave up and just let the pinkeye "self-resolve." Now I understand the evil death-ray stare I get from people who I've instructed to administer eye drops to their cat 3 times a day and when they come back for the recheck a week later I lecture them about "always giving the meds as directed!" If you've ever had to medicate a cat with anything 3 times a day for more than a couple of days and you managed to give all the meds and not lose your fingers in the process...then I should probably hire you LOL.

So on the 3rd day, when I was trying to reassess J's eyes and see if he looked ok to go to daycare, he wouldn't let me look and kept telling me, "No! I hafta go to the eye doctor! And get medicine for my eyes!!" I tried to convince him that I'm qualified to look at eyes: "J, guess what? Mommy is a doctor. I can look at your eyes!" This was greeted with as skeptical a look as a 2.5 year-old can muster up. "Well, I'm an animal doctor, but still, I'm a doctor," I added lamely. "Mommy," J said, in an aren't-you-cute voice, "you not a doctor. You just Mommy. I hafta go to the eye doctor." I guess I need to work on my bedside manner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

I don't think there's anything cuter than listening to my 2.5 year old's running commentary about life. It seems like every day he's trying out new words and phrases, and I'm starting to get a glimpse at the inner workings of his little brain. There are days when J cracks me up with the funny things he says. He's a natural ham, too -- when I start laughing he tries harder and harder to say something funny. Sounds like someone I know...

Anyhoo here's a little sampling of the cute things J has said lately.


"Mommy, you not a grownup!! You a girl. I'm a grownup. Daddy's a baby."

"Lookit all the comfortable lights!!" (he learned the word comfortable yesterday and has taken to fitting it into random sentences.) "Oh I love the Christmas tree, it's so comfortable."

"Mommy! Shhh...the dirt trucks are sleeping. Be quiet." (The "dirt trucks" are outside a construction site we drive past every day. In the evenings he always points out that they're "sleeping." Too cute!)

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all-away. Oh what fun, it is to ride....inside and outside...onna reindeer..."

"Don't kiss me!! My teeth are stinky."

"Mimi not eat my food. Mimi a dog. She eats poo-poo." (sigh...gross but true.)

(Running up behind me and grabbing my butt): "Mommy you booty is SO BIG!!" (Runs away laughing hysterically. I think *someone* coached him on that one.)

(After I croaked "good morning" to him when he woke me up over the weekend) "Talk like Mommy, not like a monster."

"No water! I drink juice! WATER CHOKES ME!! IT CHOKES MY THROAT!!"

"I don't wanna wear underpants! I wear a penis."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Haircut Day.

Every 3rd or 4th Saturday is Haircut Day. I used to cut J's hair at home, but it became a major hypertension-inducing ordeal requiring wine, Excedrin, and therapy to recover from. I've had lots of well-meaning suggestions about cutting J's hair at home, including bribery (he gets a treat every time afterwards), physically holding him down (how does that help?), cutting his hair in front of the TV (not enough distraction from the clippers buzzing near his ears), punishment (no, no, no, again I don't see how that would help), and even one childless person who actually recommended sedation (briefly considered then I came to my senses and realized he's not one of my cat patients getting groomed LOL). Of course I also have lots of people telling me to just let it grow out. Okay, people, here's the thing. J, like his parents, is a black person. When his hair grows out, it becomes a little afro. Which I have to comb out. Which, as I said before, induces blood-curdling screams that make my blood pressure go up. I'm not a fan of cornrows on little boys, so I prefer to just keep it short and avoid having to deal with it. Thankfully J is now old enough to go the barbershop with Daddy, so off they go about once a month, or when J's hair starts looking "like a werewolf" (TH's phrase), whichever comes first.


So anyway, today was Haircut Day. We tried to talk it up as soon as he was out of bed: "J, guess what? Today you get to go to the barbershop with Daddy!! And then maybe you'll get a lollipop like last time, and you and Daddy can go to the park afterwards! Won't that be FUN??" He didn't fall for it. He actually put his hands on top of his head and said, "No haircut, Mommy." And then he ran down the hall back into his room still covering his head, and slammed his door. And then kicked the door, in case we didn't get it. 30 minutes later, he was dressed and in the car, screaming the entire time "No haircut! NO HAIRCUT!! NOOOO HAIRCUUUUUUT!! MOMMY COME TOO!!" I felt terrible. But it had to be done, so off they went.

I had the entire morning to myself, which is one reason I love Haircut Day despite the emotional trauma. This morning I managed to run 4 miles, take a long luxurious shower, make a real breakfast, read my latest Entertainment Weekly and my Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, walk the puppy, and watch about half of the first Lord of the Rings movie before J and TH came home. And you know what? Haircut Day went well for them, too. Surprisingly, for the first time J didn't cry ONE SINGLE TIME while getting his hair cut. According to TH he actually had a great time hanging out with "the guys" at the barbershop and learning to roll dice (hmmm. No comment on that one.) After getting their haircut J and Daddy went to McDonald's for breakfast and then to the park. J was so worn out after Haircut Day that he asked for a bowl of oatmeal for lunch and has been asleep for the past hour.

I got a relaxing morning, and TH got to spend some real "boys time" with J. I'm thinking maybe Haircut Day should be every week.

Monday, December 8, 2008

As promised, just copying another blogger

Eh. That sums up my mood today. The weekend was good, we hung up Christmas lights and the tree, went to a birthday party, went to church, I went to work, blah blah blah. I won't bore you with the details. Soooo, I'm shamelessly plagiarizing Joanna's 100 List. Here goes -- items in bold are those I have actually done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars --In lots of places, including the Rocky Mountains and a beach in Panama
3. Played in a band -- high school band counts, right? I was a complete band geek.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland -- several times. But not Disneyworld (see my Top Ten List).
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis -- a tarantula, yes. A praying mantis??? Never.
10. Sang a solo
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. - I actually used a book titled I Can Knit! And now I can.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning -- another Panama adventure
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight - I do have two sisters, after all.
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping -- again in Panama. That was a crazy summer.
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse -- I've also seen a total eclipse of the heart, but that's another entry for another day.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied -- Right now, I'm pretty satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke - Hecks yeah!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class -- Does Tae Bo count? No?
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- God, no. (shudder)
88. Had chicken pox
89. Saved someone's life -- lots of times. If by "someone" you mean an animal...
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous -- Adrien Brody brought his dog into our clinic one day. So did Leila Ali. And Vince Neil.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit - again, another story for another day. I did win, though.
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

I need to travel more, apparently.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

As I was flipping through all of the "Black Friday" ads last week, I found that there was nothing I really wanted. At least nothing worth getting up at 4am on a 4-day weekend to stand in line and shell out money for. My husband asked me what I want for Christmas, and I couldn't come up with anything. We have everything need, and really almost everything we want. A nice house, clothes on our backs, a full pantry, paid bills, and enough love to light up a major metropolitan city. I don't know if it's the economy or what, but I just can't bring myself to buy something unless I REALLY REALLY REALLY want it. I don't see how spending more money on useless crap will help our country's situation right now.

However. That's not to say there's NOTHING that I want. I have plenty of Christmas wishes, and none of them cost a penny. So Santa, here's my Christmas list:

I want to wake up on Christmas morning to a clean house. Not just "we had a couple of days off so we threw some dishes in the washer and put our shoes away" clean, but a really clean house. Clean like if we had magical house-elves who come out every night and scrub, mop, dust, and tidy up clutter like their little lives depended on it. And I want the house to STAY CLEAN. Is that so much to ask? As a matter of fact, when it's not your busy season, don't you have a few elves you can spare?

I want my clean house to also be a pretty house. Not extravagant, but pretty. Like a cool, hip, not-too-trendy cover from a magazine that features Pottery Barn/Ikea/Pier One all rolled up into one, with a little Better Homes & Gardens thrown in. I want to look at a page in a magazine and effortlessly translate what I like into my house, as opposed to what I do now -- look at a page in a magazine, randomly try to "do-it-yourself" a feature of the picture, and end up with a hot mess courtesy of Michael's, Jo-Ann, and Wal-Mart.

I want my little dog to suddenly understand that although I love her, the incessant barking is making me go crazy and secretly wish that I wasn't ethically opposed to learning de-barking surgery.

I'd also love it if you'd magically get rid of all those clients who irrationally accuse me of "only caring about the money" AFTER I've performed miracle surgery and saved their pet's life and, you know, charged them for it. When you're done getting rid of those people, it would be awesome if you could whip up more of the clients who bring us cookies and cakes during the holidays and send me thank-you cards when I've done a good job.

Speaking of cookies, isn't there some way you can arrange it so I can be the first person in Weight Watchers history to lose 10lbs in a week? Without killing myself exercising or starving myself, that is? I mean, you eat BILLIONS of cookies every Christmas and though you're a little portly, it really doesn't show. So I know there's some magic secret involving fairy dust or whatever, and I want in.

Lastly, I'd like to sleep past 7am on a day off. Ever. Seriously. One time would do it. More than one time would be AWESOME. Maybe when you stop by our house on Christmas morning, you can occupy J for awhile playing Hot Wheels on his streets and roads rug and watch Wow Wow Wubbzy a few thousand times with him while I snooze away in the next room. You've got time. I think we're all aware that you're able to manipulate the space-time continuum.

I know these requests might sound strange, but I don't think they're any weirder than, say, asking for a pony when you live in an apartment in the city or begging for your male dog to have puppies "just so we can play with them." If you can manage even ONE of these small wishes, I'll definitely believe in you forever, Santa!

Sincerely,

Desi

p.s. Oh yeah I forgot -- could you also bring world peace, a cure for AIDS, and the end to childhood hunger? Those would be cool, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Top Ten List

I'm totally uninspired to blog today. We had a GREAT weekend with family in town and an early Thanksgiving, but I can't come up with anything to say about it, except....we had a great weekend with family in town and an early Thanksgiving.

So I'm going to be lazy and just steal someone else's idea:) Laura recently posted about her Top Ten things she wants to do before she dies, and encouraged other bloggers to come up with their own list, so here's mine.

The Top Ten Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
(in no particular order)

1. Go on an African safari.

2. Open my own veterinary clinic.

3. Go on a honeymoon (that's right, we never had a honeymoon).

4. Learn to scuba dive, and then visit the Great Barrier Reef.

5. Travel to all of my favorite ancient history sites: Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

6. See my child(ren) grow up and become parents.

7. Perform a stand-up comedy routine in front of a paying audience...and actually make them laugh.

8. Be completely debt-free: No credit card debt, no student loans, no car loans, live in a house that is completely paid off.

9. Go to Disneyworld.

10. Open a coffee shop.

It looks like I have a lot to accomplish LOL. Hopefully I'll be blessed with another 50 years to do it all, right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I forgot to read this chapter in the mom handbook.

So last night J was a very restless sleeper, waking up a few times for no apparent reason and then going right back to sleep. Finally around 4:45am he woke up crying, looking for some Hot Wheels car (his new obsession) that he took to bed with him and was now of course not in his hand. I could hear him wailing, "Where my car? Where my caaaarrr?" from down the hall, and that quickly turned into "Mommy! Mommmmyyyyyy!" Of course no yelling for Daddy. After a few minutes with a pillow over my head I got him and brought him into our bed. I knew this was a big mistake before I did it but like a rookie I was praying he'd just go to sleep.

I have to add here that although I know alot of people co-sleep well past this age, it has never worked for us. J has been in his own bed since he was about 9 weeks old, and it is RARE for him to sleep in bed with us. I'm sure he loves it but I can't take all the jumping, kicking, and constant "Turn the TV on! Pweeeese? Turn the TV on! Let's watch Dora! Pweeese?" In general if I'm bringing J into our bed it's out of sleep-deprived desperation, and it usually doesn't work. So I knew my chances of failure were high, but I had to try - it was still dark outside for pete's sake.

At that point J was up for the day, a fact that he knew before he ever got in our bed but that it took me, oh, 30 minutes to figure out. 30 minutes of:

J: Turn the TV on!

Me: Be quiet and lay down.

J: (whispering) Turn the TV on!

Me: Stop talking.

J: (standing up) I jumping! Uh-oh, I falling down the stairs, aaaah! (giggling).

Me: (quiet trying to ignore him).

J: Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?.....Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?

Me: Oh my God STOP SAYING "MOMMY" AND GO TO SLEEP!

J: Ok, I'm sleeping now. (10 seconds later) Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? What are you doing? Mommy? I want juice! Juuuuuuuice. Juuuuuuice.

Me: I'm asleep. It's still night time. Lay. Down. And. Go. To. Sleep.

J: It's dark in here. Turn the light on! It's dark.

Me: That's right, it's dark because IT'S STILL NIGHTTIME. For the love of God, please lay down and be quiet for 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes. Is that so much to ask? 15 minutes of rest? And why are you way over here on top of me? Daddy's laying right there, why don't you lay sideways with your feet propped up on him? As a matter of fact, why don't you ask Daddy to get up and turn the light and TV on and get you some juice??

J: (looks over at TH and then whispers) Mommy....shhhh....Daddy's sleeping.

Me: (Unable to speak because I'm gritting my teeth so hard.)

TH: (snickers, apparently he's heard this whole exchange) What can I say....you're the Mommy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maybe we should just dig up the floor and put a big ball pit at the bottom.

Well, it finally happened. J fell down the stairs last night. This has been one of my biggest fears ever since we moved into this house 7 months ago. We used to live in a 3-story townhouse, so J learned to use stairs pretty much as soon as he could crawl. The big difference between this house and that one, though, is that there we had short staircases with switchbacks and landings halfway up. Here we have one extra-long (17 steps!) staircase leading straight up. The stairs are carpeted, but the floor at the bottom is ceramic tile.

J is good at going up and down the stairs by himself, but we're so paranoid about it that we usually walk in front of him when he's going down. Adding to our paranoia is his new "game" of shouting "1-2-3 JUMP!" at the top of the stairs so we've been even more nervous than usual. Last night I was putting J's clothes away in his room while he played with his cars on the floor. As many a parent has said over the years, I only looked away for a moment. One minute he was sitting next to me, the next minute I heard a horrifying thumping sound and TH yelling "Oh Jesus!! He's falling!" It seemed like my feet were moving in slow motion as I started running out of the room, and my heart was racing as I waited to hear a little skull hit the ground. Luckily he stopped falling just short of the last step, and by the time I made it downstairs TH was already holding J, who was screaming bloody murder.

Thankfully he wasn't hurt. Of course TH and I were shaking like leaves and it took all I had to hold it together while we looked him over for injuries. Later TH told me, "When I looked up he was UPSIDE DOWN like he was in a handstand with his head on the step and his body tumbling." Shudder. I still feel sick when I think about that. When J came into our room this morning he happily asked me, "Amember when I fell down the stairs? And it was scary? Amember?" and started giggling. What, this is funny to you, kid? Yeesh. I'm not sure if he learned the hard way about jumping on the stairs, or if now he'll start doing it on purpose. At this rate my hair will definitely be gray by the time I'm 35.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update on our little rodent friend.

Post-op tumor removal...look at that pretty incision

The rat is fine. Doing great, actually. The tumor turned out to be a malignant fibrosarcoma, "completely excised with little risk of reoccurrence" (patting myself on the back). The owners, who had become quite attached to this rat, were very happy that surgery was successful and the rat didn't "die on the table," which is what they were sure was going to happen. The mom had called the school last week to tell them about the rat's problem (we have year-round school here and the rat was home with them on a 4-week break). She talked to the teacher and gave her the estimate for surgery and histopathology, about $250 total for everything, really not that bad considering. Of course the school didn't pay for the surgery...they just got a new rat. Not sure about the ethics of that school, but whatever.

Surgery to remove a huge tumor from a rat: $250

Cost of replacing said rat with a newer, better model: Maybe $10.

The look on the family's face when I brought the rat out from surgery minus a 5cm diameter tumor, running around acting like nothing even happened: Priceless.

Note to parents: Rats are great pets, for some people there is too much of an ick factor but believe it or not they are usually pretty nice, rarely bite, and easy to take care of. The downside? They are TUMOR FACTORIES as Joanna pointed out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why you should read the fine print when your kid volunteers for something at school.


Voiceover: Dr. E before a major surgery. Look how serious and determined she is as she prepares to put her extraordinary surgery skills to use yet again. Note the extreme concentration as she plans and maps out her best approach to removing a lemon-sized tumor from...a rat. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a rat. This veterinarian does not discriminate against our rodent friends, believing that they, too should get quality veterinary care. Will she be successful? Will the rat survive? Will little Bobby's parents regret letting their kid "foster" the class pet this semester hence becoming responsible for its veterinary bills? We'll find out soon...

Monday, November 10, 2008

An easy way to tell if the lady in the car next to you has a toddler.

Scene before having a kid: I'm driving down the street in my beat-up old Corolla, windows down, bopping my head with music blasting loudly. Depending on the day, it may be R&B, rock music, or rap. If I'm with TH? Probably Tupac. I finally notice people in cars around me rolling their eyes so I turn the music down until I get to the highway.

Scene now that I have a toddler: I'm driving down the street in my midsize-SUV-one-step- away-from-a-minivan Hyundai Santa Fe, windows down, bopping my head with music blasting loudly, and occasionally singing out loud. I finally notice people in cars around me either rolling their eyes at the volume or snickering...and I realize that after dropping J off at daycare I was so into his music selection (Dora's Around the World Adventure -- actually a pretty decent CD of world music for kids) that I never turned it off. In fact, when it got to my favorite song (that's right, I have a favorite on the Dora CD) I actually TURNED IT UP. As I pull away from the light I sheepishly switch to the local hip-hop radio station.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a little better than the green ones you get on field day when you come in last...

(And trust me, I know all about green ribbons on field day.) I got this little token at my WW meeting last night. Actually the tally is 11.6 pounds to be exact. In one month! I guess I'll stick with it after all :P

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Bless America

I'm not going to go into detail about my feelings on this election. I know what Obama winning the election means to me, and what it means to people like me. It's a big deal now -- A BIG DEAL -- but I only hope that by the time J is my age, no one will really understand why this was such a big deal. I hope by then it won't be a revolutionary idea that J--a black person, descended from people who came to this country not as immigrants but as cargo--could become president. I hope by then we will have had a female president, and that it won't be a novelty and cause for weeks and months and years of debates whenever someone "different" is on the ticket. I hope it will be as commonplace for black people to run for president as it is for them to play professional sports. That's my dream for the future.

But last night, and today? That I will remember for the rest of my life. Yes we can, indeed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The weekend vacation in pictures.

We had a blast this weekend. I really couldn't have asked for a better 3-day trip. The highlights: Great weather in San Diego. J behaving incredibly well (for the most part, anyway) with staying in the hotel, 5-hour car trips each way, and really random schedules and food. Meeting Rita. That's right -- Rita and I met each other!! She was awesome, as expected, graciously inviting us to her parents' house on Halloween for dinner and trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating with J, X, and Q (Rita's 2 kids - seriously cute BTW). A gorgeous, picture-perfect day at the San Diego Zoo. J seeing the ocean for the first time. A great conference where I learned a lot. 4 days off of work and not a single call from the clinic. And a good portion of the costs covered by my job, always a bonus! Anyway rather than rehashing all the details, here's a few of my favorite pics from the weekend...































































Sunday, October 26, 2008

And a lovely time was had by all...

I'm so sad to go back to work tomorrow. I had a 3-day weekend after several weeks in a row of working Saturdays (not my normal schedule) and it was pretty awesome. Friday dawned cool and clear, with a snap in the air that is normal in other parts of the country this time of year but a treat in Vegas. J and I spent a lovely day together, shopping for necessities like a big pumpkin and Halloween candy, hanging out with Mimi in the backyard, and painting. That kid loves painting. I bought him a huge pad of paper 2 weeks ago that is already 3/4 used up. Then on Friday evening we carved a pumpkin for the first time ever.

J was very excited to go on the "commuter" with me to look up patterns to print out for our pumpkin. "Not scary face, Mommy" he told me several times. "Happy face." He wasn't too sure about the guts of the pumpkin--he seemed a little icked out by it--but by the end he did touch a few pumpkin seeds.




The look on his face when we took our pumpkin outside and lit the candle was PRICELESS. We could tell he had absolutely no clue what pumpkins were about until that moment. It was great.



Then on Saturday we headed off to the Southern Highlands Fall Festival and Charity 5K, which was So. Much. Fun. J was so excited to see me off at the start of the race, waving and yelling, "Run, Mommy! I run, too!!" and running around on the sidelines. As cheesy as it sounds that really got me pumped up and gave me all the wind I needed in my sails to finish that race. I know to more experienced runners 5K is pretty paltry stuff, but this was only my second 5K, almost a year later than my first one. Let's just say for a few months after we bought the house I fell off the running wagon for awhile so I had to start training again from scratch for this race. I was pretty proud of myself at the end, because I accomplished my three goals: 1) Finish the race. 2) Finish the race running, not walking. 3) Finish in less than 35 minutes. I was actually surprised that I accomplished #3. TH must have been surprised, too -- the only disappointing moment was when he and J were not at the finish line because they were fooling around at the Festival, and as TH told me later (rather sheepishly), "I thought you would take way longer." Thanks, honey:) The Fall Festival itself was alot of fun. It was everything a good Fall Festival should be -- pumpkins, rides, a bounce-house, slides, hay, music and a bunch of small children attempting to "square dance," cotton candy, balloon sculptures...it was really one of the best family outings we've had yet.



(You know how when you're running, you feel all long and lean and athletic, and then you see a picture later and realize that no matter how long and lean your tell yourself you are, you're still only 5'4" and still pretty stumpy, even in long black pants? Yeah that's me right now looking at this picture. My legs are so short LOL.)



(It's a sword, people, get your minds out of the gutter.)




The weekend wrapped up with another great day today. We got up too late to make the early service for church, but instead of lazing around at home we went out to breakfast, then went to the mall, and then finally made it to the second church service. J was a little chatterbox all day long, reviewing the weekend's events with us via his new favorite phrase, "Amember? (Remember?)" As in, "Mommy, amember the pumpkin I made it, with the seeds, and I got them with a spoon, and we put in the candle outside, amember? Amember we were running outside, and got the cotton candy, and I was dancing, amember? Amember?" So freaking cute!!



After a weekend like this, I'm really really really glad that I changed jobs two years ago so I could spend more time with J and TH. It was a pretty significant pay cut, but a pretty significant change in my quality of life, too with a 4-day workweek and reasonable hours (most of the time). Sometimes, especially now when money seems alot tighter than it used to, I'll have materialistic fantasies about all the things we could be doing and buying if I hadn't left that job. But then I'll remember the 60-hour workweeks that came along with it, and the days when I first came back from maternity leave when I only saw my infant son maybe 1-2 hours a day awake. And then my now 2-1/2-year-old son will say out of the blue while we're scooping out pumpkin innards, "I like Mommy stay home with me today," and I know it was the right choice.




(These last 2 pictures are from a different pumpkin patch we went to last week. Fall is so much fun!!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Elusive Skunkakitty.

After realizing that Halloween is next Friday and thus I only have this weekend to throw together a costume for J, and frantically thumbing through various catalogues (One Step Ahead, Lillian Vernon, Target, etc.) to get inspiration from (code words for "copy"), I decided to go to the source. On the way home from daycare I started questioning J about what he might want to be for Halloween. Being 2.5 years old, he doesn't have much, if any, grasp on what Halloween is, or what a "costume" is, for that matter. His first response when I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween? (As he looked out the window at a garbage truck) "A garbage truck! I wanna be a garbage truck!" Hmmm, ok, not quite getting it yet...

"J, on Halloween do you want to dress like a fireman?"

"No, a firetruck!"

"How about a policeman?" No. "A football player?" Nope. "A doctor, a monster, a dinosaur?" No, no, and thinking about it....no.

"Do you want to be an animal?"

"YES!! I wanna be a animal!" Bingo. I shoulda guessed, a boy after my own heart.

"What kind of animal? A doggie?" Firm no. "A horse?" Uh-uh. "An elephant?" Totally blank look. Then inspiration struck me. "Okay, how about a skunk, or a kitty?"

"Yes! A skunkakitty!!"

"No, J, a skunk or kitty. Which one?"

"A skunkakitty!"

"No, you're not understanding. Do you want to dress like a skunk, or do you want to dress like a kitty?"

(Now talking to me as if I'm the one with limited verbal skills). "Noooo, Mommy, not a skunk or dress like a kitty. A skunk-a-kit-ty." That's right, he sounded it out slowly in case I was still too slow on the uptake.

This morning I tested him to see if this whole idea held up overnight. "Hey, J," I slyly asked. "Tell Daddy what you want to dress as for Halloween." With no hesitation: "I wanna be a skunkakitty!"

Okay, then. If my baby wants to be a skunkakitty, then a skunkakitty it is. If anyone needs to find me this weekend, I'll be at the fabric store.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Decorating ideas - help me out??

I had the embarrassing realization this weekend that we have now lived in our new house for 7 months (!!) and we have not decorated a thing. Well, we did paint one wall of the living room and hang some pictures upstairs, but that's it. I feel kind of bad because at our old house, J's room was decorated from top to bottom. I spent so much time on that room! I had several prints of baby jungle animals that I ordered from an art website 5 months before he was born, and those were my "inspiration" pieces. The walls were painted -- I'm talking horizontal stripes and hand-stencilling. The rug, bedding, and artwork all coordinated well. I even busted out my sewing machine and made a cover-up for a little niche in the wall, complete with velcro tabs and piping.

J's new room? Sad. Just pitiful. Plain white walls, plain baby furniture which is looking more and more babyish the older he gets, no pictures on the walls, no curtains, etc. So my next project is to decorate J's room. Our new house has 3 bedrooms, and right now the 3rd bedroom is the playroom. However because it is the bigger room, we'd like to turn the playroom into J's "Big Boy" bedroom, with new furniture, and some type of decorative theme. It only seems fair that if (when) we have another kid J should get the bigger room, you know with seniority and everything.

So here's what I want: A more grown-up room but I don't want it to look like a teenager lives there. I like color within reason (i.e. primary colors = ok on the bedding, not so much on the walls). The furniture will likely be medium-toned wood such as oak, maybe a little darker. I like coordinating stuff but not "matchy-matchy." Not counting furniture I'd say our budget is about $300. I'm willing and able to paint, put up chair-rails, etc.

I'm not going to post a picture of the room as it is until I have a good before and after; there's not really anything to look at. Neutral carpet. Off-white walls. Hideous vertical blinds. Heinous plain white sliding closet doors (I may replace these with folding doors). Just big enough for a twin bed, a dresser, a desk, and some type of storage.

Here's some bedding I like, mostly it's the colors. I think we're leaning towards a dinosaur theme. Any ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? (by ideas I mean maybe a pic of your own kids room, ideas on wall or window treatments, or point me towards a good website or store that has good quality but affordable stuff...).




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sometimes I wish I did something else for a living (this one's depressing).

I'm not saying that *most* days I don't love being a vet. I do love it. I have weeks were I'm literally euphoric about my job -- patients are doing well, clients are happy with me, the clinic is making money, I'm saving lives and taking names. But there are some weeks, like the past one I had, that are full of all the things we vets don't enjoy. Namely euthanasias. It's a part of the job, I learned to deal with it a long time ago, usually it's for the best, blah blah blah. That doesn't mean that it's "easy," or fun. I actually counted this morning, and I did seven (SEVEN!!) euthanasias in the past 5 days of work. Just call me Dr. Death -- my techs do. (Last month I was "Dr. C" -- maybe 3 out of 4 patients I saw ended up diagnosed with cancer. One of my receptionists brought her dog in and actually told me she wanted the other doctor to see him because if I touched it, it would turn into cancer. Thanks!)



It's one thing when it's an old pet with loving owners who are providing a final respite from suffering. It's another thing altogether when I'm euthanizing animals for totally preventable reasons -- lack of vaccinations against infectious diseases, or the worst offender, Neglect. I can feel the weight of it on my shoulders at the end of the day, and it eats away at me in the middle of the night. Why why why do people have pets they can't take care of? I love my profession and think it's a valuable one, but even I understand that having a pet is somewhat of a luxury. No one HAS to have a dog or cat. I'm not saying you have to put Gucci collars on your dog and push it around in a "doggy stroller" (welcome to Vegas), but you know, some basics are required. Food. Water. Vaccines. Seeing a vet every once in awhile. Attention. Love. You'd be amazed at how many people pull up to my clinic driving Hummers or even a Bentley (yes, I said a freaking Bentley) and then complain about paying for a twelve dollar vaccine!! Then when their pet is dying of parvo virus (parvo vaccine = 100% effective, people), they tell me they "can't stand to watch" and run out the door while I put their poor dog out of its misery by myself. It's a blessing and a curse when you're in this profession because you really do love animals. Unnecessary euthanasias make my heart heavy because I'll remember all of the animals, even if their owners forget them 5 minutes later.




sigh...okay I feel better after that little vent. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day, and I'll get to play with cute puppies and kittens all day and save a life or two. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The force is strong in this one.

Now I understand how parents end up pimping their kids out to be in commercials. Having a cute kid with you is almost as good for "greasing the wheels" as palming someone a twenty dollar bill. Especially if said kid has mysterious Jedi-like powers of persuasion, like J apparently does. Yesterday we were at Fresh and Easy, my new All-Time Favorite Grocery Store, and there was this older lady who kept staring at J while we were in the bakery aisle. To his credit, J was being unusually chipper for an After Daycare shopping trip, pointing at things and exclaiming in a very cute I'm-So-Young-Everything-Amazes-Me voice: "Lookit all those cakes, Mommy! It's a birfday!" or "Mmm-mmm I love all this store!". Of course this was followed up by whining about wanting cookies and me hissing at him to drop it about the cookies already, we have cookies at home!! When I looked up from our little argument the lady was gone...or so I thought. After we checked out, she appeared out of nowhere and handed me a small box of the cookies he'd wanted. Then she proceeded to tell me, "He is the most precious thing I've ever seen. I mean, he's really special." (I know you're not believing me at this point, but I swear that's what she said word for word).

On the one hand, the whole exchange was a bit...creepy. On the other hand, I was oddly flattered by her compliment--as if somehow I'm responsible for J's cuteness or specialness or whatever. I'm not really a fan of putting little kids in the spotlight, so it's not like I'm going to run out and hire a talent agent. However...if I can find a way to use J's powers for good (like getting a good table at a restaurant or friendlier service at the DMV), then I'm all for it!

Is that bad?

Friday, October 3, 2008

So I went ahead and joined the cult last night.

I finally caved to their catchy commercials and clever marketing scheme, and once I got to the meeting I was overcome by their overzealous leader and his story of a changed life and long-term success. Add to that a certain 3-digit number that almost made me vomit in my mouth a little bit and I had no choice. Resistance is futile, as they say.

I joined Weight Watchers. So far, not too bad. You know, for one day. It at least makes sense to me on paper, which is good. We'll see what happens. I'm not brave enough to put "before" pictures or my (shudder) actual starting weight on this blog, but I'll be sure to post updates about this little adventure occasionally. If it's successful, that is. If it's not successful...pretend we never had this conversation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I guess guilt comes with the territory.

Thanks to our wonderful economy and extremely slow business yesterday, I won a paper-rock-scissors with our other doctor and got to leave work early yesterday. I saw my last appointment at 1pm and then I was free. Normally I pick J up from daycare around 5:30pm, so to have several free hours stretching before me was a real treat. Like most moms with a working guilt gland, however, as soon as I left work the inner conflict began. My immediate thought when my boss let me leave early was that I would pick J up early and find something fun to do. This was quickly followed by a different idea -- have the free afternoon to myself, which is really, really, really rare. I work 4 days a week, and on the other 3 days I'm home with J. Some weeks I work weekends, too, so like most moms I don't ever have real "days off." Sure, when we're home together I'll run to the store or workout or get my hair done, but it never feels fair for me to leave J with TH all day when it's his weekend, too. So I end up feeling guilty about that on top of everything else and I never have my extravagant "Me Days" that I'm always planning.

I decided to swing by TH's office and we had lunch together with just the two of us, another really, really, really rare occurrence. By the time we were done, I knew that even at daycare J would be taking his nap, so I headed off to get a pedicure and my eyebrows waxed, something I haven't done in months. But I couldn't help but feel guilty the whole time! I kept wondering, which is worse: Leaving your kid at daycare when you could have picked him up early, just to do something as trivial as a pedicure, or never taking time for yourself? My days are full from sun-up to sundown of things that need to get done for other people: feeding, cleaning, working, taking care of sick animals, driving, getting things ready for the next day, etc. My only true "just me" time is when I can scrounge up enough energy to go work out. It's a classic case of trying to be Supermom when I'm just a regular person.

Bridget wrote a great post the other day about a certain celebrity's completely unrealistic view of what is to be a mom these days, spouting off about how wonderful and fulfilling her pampered and assisted life is and how if we just try hard enough we can all be like her. I bet she's never wracked with guilt about leaving her children in someone else's care for a couple hours (or a couple days) so she can sneak away and relax with her feet in bubbles, reading Us Weekly and drinking wine. I bet when she's getting her eyebrows waxed, she's not tensely watching the clock thinking about how much she's been working lately and how her kid was the last kid picked up from day care every day last week and if she wasn't so selfish she would have picked him up an hour ago and they'd be happily skipping along eating ice cream cones with him happily proclaiming "You're the best mommy ever!!"

So I still managed to race over to daycare an hour before usual, and was super proud of myself that J was The First Kid Picked Up this time. Of course when I got there J had just gotten up from his nap and was cranky, throwing his cup in the car and screaming all the way home about "NO JUICE!! I WANT CHOCKA MILK!!", and then later I almost threw my back out overcompensating for my guilt and wrestling around with him in the living room. Darnit. I should have added a massage onto my spa package.

At least when TH got home he noticed the eyebrows.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The downside of an active imagination...

One of the reasons I love listening to J talk these days is because he's developed quite an imagination. He plays little games by himself that I can't quite decipher, involving "1-2-3 blast off!" and "Run from the dolphins!" (??). He's starting to enjoy dress-up games where he wears different hats or his blankie is a cape -- I know, I know, I'm probably going to regret that when we're out in public and he's wearing a tattered baby blanket around his neck and a black cowboy hat, but he's still small enough for that to be cute, not weird, right? I'll ask him questions about every day things, and he makes up cool answers. For instance, he pointed out that the sun was going down, and when I asked where it was going, he replied "Into his garage." Or he'll tell me that he's going on a train to see the animals at the "zoom," and then he'll be a pirate. Hey, makes sense to me. Well, to him anyway.

But there is a downside to an active imagination. J has developed a number of fears over the past couple of weeks, both rational and irrational. He's starting to notice when it's getting dark, and suddenly he doesn't want to go up the stairs to his room if "it's dark up there." Up until now, he's been used to a pretty much pitch black room for sleeping at night because even the light from his baby monitor would keep him up. Now we've had to buy a nightlight and on some nights leave the door open because he'll start crying and even screaming about his room being dark.

Last week we had to trim the trees in the front yard, and we had branches bundled up in the garage for trash pick-up this week. The first time we had to go into the garage with those branches J stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway and immediately started climbing up my legs and crying about the "scary trees in there." To the point where we had to back the car out of the garage and go around through the front door just so we wouldn't pass the "trees." The worst episode, however, was over the weekend when we went to Best Buy to look at computers and J randomly decided they were scary and proceeded to throw a major screaming fit about going down the aisle with the computers. And it wasn't a spoiled-brat tantrum -- he was really acting scared, screaming for TH not to let the computers touch him and clutching my neck so hard he left red marks on me.

I'm a little stumped as to how to respond to some of this. On the one hand, I don't want to encourage a fear of every day things, and I know I can't always avoid things because they're "scary." On the other hand, it really wrenches my heart to hear his scared screaming because it's very different than anything he's done before, and he truly seems terrified. I wish I could describe the look on his face when he was trying not to go near those computers, it was heartbreaking. Hopefully like everything else this will be just a phase.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The kid loves his bluegrass.

If this doesn't make you smile at least a little bit, you have no soul. (And a little randomly added clip at the end just to make my day).


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The next time my kid gets sick I'm taking him to a vet.

I'm always amazed when I have to deal with doctor visits, for myself or for J, at the difference between the way I treat my client/patients, and the way we are treated. I hate for my clients to wait in the waiting room for more than a few minutes, and I'm fanatic about calling them myself with lab results as soon as they come in, even if they're normal. As we all know, that's not exactly how it works at the "human" doctor.

Yesterday we had to take J to the ophthalmologist. For a few weeks he's been complaining that one of his eyes hurts, and rubbing his eye and doing this weird blinking thing. Our regular pediatrician didn't see anything wrong but because of the concern about things like childhood retinoblastoma, he recommended that we take J's complaint seriously and see an ophthalmologist for a full exam. So the appointment was made, and for the past couple of weeks I was dreading what I knew was going to be a Major Fiasco.

I tried to be proactive and make the earliest possible appointment (at 7:30am) so we'd hopefully be the first ones seen and not have to wait. Nice fantasy that was. We showed up on time, and spent 20 minutes filling out forms and answering questions not really applicable to a two-year-old (History of smoking? High blood pressure? Glaucoma medication?). After a 30 minute wait we were ushered into a room and the nurse, who obviously doesn't regularly work with toddlers, attempted to put J through the usual battery of eye tests. She allowed him to sit on my lap in the big mechanical chair, and asked him to "look to the left, then the right," or "look at the ceiling. Come on, buddy stop moving around, look at the ceiling, ok?" I'm not sure I've ever used the word "ceiling" with J, but whatever. (Side note: Their office really needs to update. At one point they held up a picture that had among other things on it, a rotary phone and said, "Point at the phone!" Completely blank look from J. A Palm Centro -- THAT he would have known LOL.) He actually did pretty well for the most part...and then came the eye drops. First the numbing drops, because as she explained, the dilating drops "can burn like crazy." So she had me hold J down, and then she asked me to hold his eyelids open because he was struggling too much and her acrylic nails were so long she was worried she'd scratch his eye. That's what she said. Then she completely missed the left eye with the numbing agent, so when she put in the dilating drop he started to scream bloody murder and thrash around. All the while J clutching me, wailing "My eye! My eye! Noooo Mommy!"

After sending us out in the hall for another 30 minutes to wait for his eyes to fully dilate, they brought us back into the same room, where J proceeded to drop to the floor and throw a major fit (understandably) about being back in the Room of Eye Drop Hell. So I whipped out the M & M's I'd brought for just such an occasion, and started to coax him into the exam chair again by promising that if he was good for the doctor he could have some candies.

And here's where I almost lost my cool with the nurse. Obviously this lady doesn't have any kids or work with toddlers much, because she had the nerve to say in her most I Don't Have Kids Yet So I Can Be Judgmental of Parents voice, "Oh, come on Mom, don't bribe him, he'll be fine." What? Did you just tell me not to bribe my kid when we're trying to force him into a giant mechanical chair for an ophtho exam? And how, pray tell, will the doctor be able to look into his EYES if he's squeezing them shut and screaming at the top of his lungs? Hell yes, I'll bribe him, thank you very much (can you tell I was a bit ticked at that?).

(Deep breath) Anyhoo...the rest of the exam went suprisingly well, considering. The doctor was actually great with J and reduced the stress level significantly just by his tone of voice. He even got J to put his chin on the little chin thing and hold still for a quick slit lamp exam. He didn't see anything abnormal, which was comforting, except...he was only able to see about 50% of the retinas because J kept moving his eyes around. You know, like a normal 2 year old. So after 2 1/2 hours of screaming, crying, freaking out, burning eyes, and now dilated eyes, we were referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist who could "probably handle a patient this age a little better," just to be on the safe side. AAAAGH! Why didn't we go there to begin with?!? You mean we have to do this whole thing again in a couple of weeks?? Yeesh. Next time J has a problem, I'm just bringing him to work with me -- at least here we're used to patients who jump around throughout the exam and have no problem "bribing" them to do what we want with dog biscuits. Just kidding. Kind of.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Please stand by...

I'm having a hard time posting lately because our home computer is still down (new computer this week, yay!!) and we've been SUPER busy at work, with you know...work, so I haven't been able to post from there much. I've been taking alot of pictures lately, so hopefully I can get them posted later this week.

J is growing up so fast (I think this is my theme for the summer LOL). Over the weekend he wanted to talk on the phone to everyone I talked to -- Granny in Alaska, Auntie B, Auntie D, and Grandmother in Georgia. Listening to his end of the conversation is hilarious, if someone asks him what he did today it becomes a long stream of consciousness list of everything on his mind: "I play outside, wit a baseball bat, and see the doggie, and jump on the wall (?), and one two free ELEVEN!! and I ride my scooter then Mimi no no no barking! listen to Dora music and Daddy make breakfast bacon eggs and CHEESE!!! Wuv you bye-bye I wanna watch Cars." He even had a phone conversation with his friend-the-same-age, which was basically the two of them repeating the same things over and over again and then laughing hysterically.

Fall is definitely my favorite season in Vegas. The weather finally becomes tolerable as opposed to The Living Inside An Oven Experience that is summertime. We've been enjoying sitting out on the patio in the mornings and evenings, me drinking my coffee and reading (or I'll admit it, surfing Facebook from my phone), J playing in the "yard" with Mimi or lounging at his little picnic table with orange juice and grapes. I'm so glad we finally have space to sit outside and have a dog, two things we weren't able to do until we bought this house. Although on the downside sitting outside more is only making me more anxious to hurry up and get the yard landscaped. It's so sad, J has lived in Vegas all his life so he doesn't realize that packed dirt and rocks do not equal a fun backyard. He got a cool Diego sprinkler for his birthday and can't even use it because, well, would you like to run around in mud and gravel?

And finally, on a sad note...I was so stoked to take J trick-or-treating for the first time this year and answering the door for the neighborhood kids on Halloween, until I somehow just realized that we're going to be out of town on Halloween!! Bummer. On the brighter side, we'll be in San Diego, and hopefully we'll get to meet up with Rita and her lovely family. How exciting!! I might get to meet one of my blogging friends IRL!! We'll keep you posted...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What I'm thinking about at 2am when I'm not sleeping...

  • What is J going to be for Halloween? This will be the first year for trick-or-treating, I'm so excited! Someone suggested that I fluff his hair out and dress him as Napoleon Dynamite. Hmm....funny or lame? I was leaning toward dressing him as a boxer, he has little boxing gloves and everything. I guess I could ask him what he wants...
  • Should we be thinking about preschool already? J's friend-who's-the-same-age is already on a waitlist. We're such slackers.
  • We really need to get started on decorating this house. How can I get Candace Olsen from Divine Design to do my house for free?
  • Where the heck is David Cook's album? We're waiting, Davey.
  • Wow, the RNC was pretty whack compared to the DNC. I mean, seriously dude, Palin?? Seriously? And Obama had Stevie Wonder, sorry McCain, you can't beat that.
  • How can I become a work-at-home mom and not change careers? Maybe if we converted the living room into a surgery suite and the garage into exam rooms...maybe not.
  • We are so behind the curve with no DVR or TiVo. I hate when I miss another episode of Project Runway and have to wait for a random Saturday marathon to catch up.
  • Hey! I just realized! If we time it right our next kid could be born on 7-8-9 or 9-9-9! That's gotta be lucky, right? Or at least cool. We need to get on that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Buddy

Me and J have been having a renaissance of sorts lately with our relationship. I think it's mostly that he's becoming more and more interesting as a companion, and I'm getting better at dealing with the tantrums and whining. Fridays are my off day, so every week we get a whole day with just the two of us. I know to stay-at-home moms that probably sounds lame--and it sounds even lamer to me, woo-hoo, a whole day with my kid--so I really look forward to Fridays. J is my little buddy now. We lay in my bed in the morning after TH goes to work, watching cartoons or the Today show. Usually at some point, even if it's over 100 degrees outside and uncomfortably warm in the house, J will climb into my lap and tell me, "I'm cold," and then snuggle up to me. I'm not sure why he has to have the excuse of being cold as opposed to saying, "Mommy hug me," but I'll take it. Then I let him decide what he wants for breakfast (same thing every time: "Pancakes! Um, and syrup! And sausage!").

After that...we hang out. Like I used to hang out with my girlfriends in college. Maybe we'll go to Starbucks and have coffee and chocolate milk. Maybe we'll take Mimi on a walk while J talks nonstop about everything he's been wanting to tell me all week while I was away at work -- there's an airplane in the sky, that car looks like Daddy's car, the doggie was barkin' and barkin' and jumped up, the baby was cryin' and then n0-no-no J in timeout! I love listening to him.
Sometimes we cruise the mall or Target together, or pick out a craft to do from Michael's. At some point every Friday we end up Doing Art, either painting or gluing or smashing Play Doh into the table. And yeah, we also veg out in front of the TV and watch Cars for the billionth time, and some days we don't even get dressed.

This is what I was looking forward to when I envisioned being a mom. I loved my little baby but I really cherish these moments where I get to see him developing into his own person before my eyes. I often look at him and wonder what he's thinking, what does he think of us, of our life? Now that he can talk, sometimes his answers surprise me. I'm constantly amazed at how his mind works. The other day we were having a Serious Adult Discussion about the economy, and I was telling TH that I'd read a commentary about our huge debt to China, and the author said if the debt was called in we'd all have to learn to speak Chinese. And from across the room, out of nowhere, J said, "Ni-hao!" ("hello" in Chinese, he learned that one from Nickelodeon). We were floored. How does he do that? And then we had a little nervous chuckle, as in, wow, he really listens to everything we say, ha ha better watch our mouths.

It's enough to make me want another one. Eventually.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Laura recently requested some quick and easy dinner ideas for toddlers. (Well, she didn't specify "quick and easy" but with twin toddlers I'm assuming that would be best). J is a really picky eater, so I'm constantly struggling to find things he will eat that us adults won't get sick of. He's one of those little kids that doesn't like all of the typical little kids things. Macaroni and cheese? Nope. Pizza? No. (The sausage on the pizza? Sure, but the pizza itself...not so much.) Strawberries? Apples? Bananas? No, no, and not a chance. Bread? Don't make me laugh.

But we do have a few household favorites that are reasonably nutritious, fairly quick to prepare (30 min. or less), and make good leftovers.

Turkey and Bean Burritos
Prep time: 20 min.

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp oil
2 cans refried beans or one giant can - I like Rosarita Vegetarian Fat Free
1/2 large onion, diced
1lb ground turkey (we're ground turkey people but obviously ground beef would work)
1/3 packet Taco Seasoning (better than burrito seasoning, it's not as salty)
Maybe 3/4 cup chunky salsa (depends on how "soupy" you like your beans)
Tortillas or wraps
Shredded cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese
1 tomato, diced
Shredded lettuce

1. This is a "one-skillet" meal. Heat the oil on medium-high heat and cook the onions until translucent.
2. Add the ground turkey/beef and brown thoroughly.
3. Mix in the taco seasoning.
4. Add the beans and the salsa. Turn heat down to low-medium and cover.
5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until beans are cooked through, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve rolled up in a tortillas with cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. Or, smother with green chile sauce and put cheese/tomatoes/lettuce on top. J won't eat tortillas but he'll eat his "beetos" in a bowl with cheese on them like chili.

Chicken/Sausage/Rice Soup
Prep/Cook Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1lb boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever's on sale), cut into small pieces
1/2 lb. sausage of your choice (other than breakfast sausage) cut into 1/2" pieces
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 large box (32 oz.) of low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
4 cups cooked white or brown rice
garlic powder
poultry seasoning

Directions (this is another one-pot recipe):
1. Start the rice cooking first before other steps. (ok 2 pots if you count the rice)
2. Brown the chicken in the bottom of a large soup pot in a small amount of oil. Add the sausage and cook through. Do not drain. Season the meat with garlic powder, poultry seasoning, and/or whatever you like (cajun spice works well if your kid will eat spicy food.)
3. Whisk the cream of chicken soup into the chicken broth in a bowl and add to the meat. If you like a creamier soup use less broth (2/3 box).
4. Add the bag of frozen veggies. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. When rice is done, add the cooked rice to the soup.
6. Serve with crusty bread.

This is one of those recipes that actually tastes even better the next day and microwaves well.

White Lasagna
(This one is my "specialty." It's probably really fattening, but once you go white, you'll never want regular lasagna again. It also takes a little more time to prepare (45 min.) so it's a Sunday or potluck dish. This recipe makes a lot.)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 - 2lb. boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
One package "ready to bake" lasagna noodles
3 jars alfredo sauce of your choice
8oz package of sliced mushrooms (or 16oz if you really like mushrooms)
1 bag baby spinach
16oz shredded mozarella or "Italian blend" cheese.
Small package of shredded parmesan cheese.
Italian seasoning blend

Directions:
1. Preheat oven according to directions on lasagna package, usually around 400F.
2. Season chicken with Italian spices and grill or sautee cooked through (I use a Foreman grill.) Cube cooked chicken or shred with a fork.
3. Start cooking all 3 jars of alfredo sauce on medium-low heat.
4. Add chicken and mushrooms to sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until mushrooms soften up).
5. Coat the bottom of a large lasagna dish with nonstick spray. Start layering the lasagna as follows (note that lasagna noodles are "oven-ready" so they don't have to be cooked ahead of time.):
  • Lasagna -- make sure the noodles aren't touching each other or the sides of the dish.
  • Alfredo sauce mixture -- I use a ladle to put a spoonful on each lasagna noodle and make sure to cover each noodle completely.
  • A couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Shredded cheese
6. Continue layering until all noodles are used (usually 4 layers). On the last layer add the shredded Parmesan to the top. Sometimes I will put a layer of steamed or canned asparagus on the top and put the Parmesan on top of that.
7. Cover with foil and bake according to lasagna noodle instructions. On the last 10 minutes uncover so the cheese can brown a bit.
8. Stuff your face.
9. Gain 10 pounds.

If you really want to know...

I'd like to thank Steph for giving me something to do today since I'm in a huge writing funk. She "tagged" me for a little Q & A, so here goes...


A. Attached or single? Firmly attached, thank you very much.

B. Best friend? My sisters.

C. Cake or Pie? Cheesecake...technically is that a cake or a pie? Discuss amongst yourselves.

D. Day of Choice? Sunday. It's family day, and the only day I'm guaranteed not to have to work.

E. Essential item? Lip gloss.

F. Favorite color? Red.

G. Gummy bears or worms? Worms.

H. Hometown? Denver, CO.

I. Indulgence? Hmmm...I'm not a shoe or purse girl, so my indulgences are pretty small. I like high-quality makeup, so I guess that's an indulgence. I'm also addicted to buying children's books.

J. January or July? July. It's super hot here but we have alot of fun in July--TH's birthday, 4th of July, our anniversary.

K. Kids? One. And a few pets.

L. Life isn't complete without? TH and J.

M. Marriage date? July 2002.

N. Number of brothers and sisters? Two - identical twin sister and younger sister.

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges. There's no comparison.

P. Phobias? Heights. Sometimes flying if I think about it long enough.

Q. Quotes? There's no place like home.

R. Reasons to smile? Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. "I'm the dude playin' the dude that thinks he's another dude!" How can that not make you laugh?

S. Season of Choice? Spring

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I consider myself an expert.

A Guide to Understanding and Dealing with Your Toddler

Do you have a child under 3 living in your home? Do you find yourself in a state of constant confusion and frustration trying to figure out just what the little guy wants or needs at any given time? Does it seem like you can't predict from one moment to the next what will trigger a meltdown?

After several months of intensive research, I've compiled a list of all the things guaranteed to cause tantrums and irrational displays of emotion in my own toddler. By memorizing this list and making sure not to EVER perform any of these actions, you will be one step closer to a peaceful, quiet, tantrum-free household. Keep in mind this list is only a starting point; your own toddler may have different triggers, or be that rare child that never gets upset (yeah, right).

Disclaimer: This list may not be applicable to all children in all situations. If you have tried to avoid every trigger on this list and your child still acts irrationally, the author is not responsible for gray hairs, high blood pressure, curse words, or stress-induced vices (such as eating or alcohol consumption) that may result from constant exposure to tantrums and/or whining.

Tantrum Triggers to Avoid at All Times:
  • Letting different types of food touch each other.
  • Using the wrong placemat at meal times.
  • Using any placemat at meal times.
  • Expecting the toddler to sit in their seat at meal times.
  • Expecting the toddler to eat at meal times.
  • Forcing a toddler to be buckled into a carseat.
  • Forcing a child to sit in a carseat instead of the preferred location of the front seat, or even more fun, the middle console between the seats.
  • Forcing a toddler to get into a car at all and leave the house when they have other plans.
  • Touching anything without pre-approval from the toddler. For instance my toddler has not approved me resting my elbow on the console of the car while driving, so if I do this he is sure to throw a fit.
  • Turning the pages of a book. Or turning them incorrectly.
  • Not turning the pages of a book.
  • Putting juice/milk/water in the wrong cup. Putting a straw in a cup.
  • Not putting a straw in a cup.
  • Singing the wrong song. Singing while they are singing. Not singing while they are singing.
  • Insisting that the toddler get in the bathtub.
  • Insisting that the toddler get out of the bathtub.
  • Putting on the wrong clothes. Not allowing them to go naked in public.
  • Taking clothes off, especially pajamas in the morning before going to daycare.
  • Anything involving brushing -- teeth or hair.
  • Not letting them touch the cat with "mean hands."
  • Letting the cat touch them without permission.
  • Walking to one side of the room when the toddler wants you on the other side. Sitting in a different spot than they want you to sit in.
  • Breathing.
This is just the basic list. There are several more advanced lists covering subjects such as Avoiding Tantrums While Travelling (first tip: don't travel with your toddler) and Special Circumstances: Things That Set Them Off in Public Places Such as Church or the Library.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bye-bye, little baby

I'm really not digging the Terrible Twos right now. From one day to the next, we never know if we'll have a good day (laughing, smiling, cuteness, new words, new skills, cooperation, good naps, eating well) or a Terrible day (screaming, crying, throwing things, getting frustrated over a lack of new words and skills, refusing to take a nap, acting like food he liked the day before is burning acid in his throat...). The highs are really high, like J running up to me and cannonballing into my lap, shouting "Mommy!" like I'm the best thing he ever saw. But then the lows can be pretty low, as evidenced by the scene last night when J flipped out over taking a bath, but we had to force the issue because he was covered in dirt and chocolate pudding, so we ganged up on him like jail wardens, TH wrestling the kid while I manned the soap and washcloth.

That said...I realized over the weekend what I hate the most about this age. It's the growing pains -- mine, not his. My baby is leaving me. Sure, he's still in diapers and he still sleeps in a crib, but his growing independence is causing me to struggle some days just as much as him. Over the weekend we had a little dinner party/playdate with friends from out of town--one friend has 8-month-old twins, and the other has an 8-week-old. As I was holding the newborn baby, I tried to remember J at that age, and I couldn't. I remember that time in our life, and I can tell a million stories about breastfeeding, poopy diapers, and sleep deprivation, but I can't really remember what J looked or sounded or smelled like then. If I didn't have the pictures to prove it, I probably would have forgotten little details like what his face looked like without eyebrows (he didn't have any for a long time) and the fact that he had pretty bad baby acne when he was 6 weeks old (totally forgot about that until I pulled out the photo album the other day). Then I looked over at J standing next to one of the twins, and he was HUGE, he towered over them like a giant. Was he really as small as them only a little over a year ago? When did he fit 9-month size clothes? I remember saying to my sister when he was that age that I couldn't even imagine him walking and with a mouth full of teeth. And she wisely told me, "Just wait. Soon you won't be able to remember when he didn't."

I looked back and forth between the 3 littles ones and my big one, and realized his "baby" days are quickly receding into distant memory. And wouldn't you know it, I felt a little sad. Don't get me wrong, I love my almost-preschooler, tantrums and all. He's much more fun and interesting and engaging in so many ways, and in all honesty I wasn't a huge fan of the newborn phase anyway. It's not so much that I miss him being a baby...it's more the realization that the whole point of going through these Terrible Twos is to start the long road to independence. He's still needy and clingy to Mommy most days, but I can see that as he learns to jump and walk and run, he's jumping and walking and running away from us, bit by bit. One day (too soon) all of this...this...littleness will be another distant memory and a picture in the photo album, and I won't be able to really remember a lot of it. The day is coming when I'll be watching him skateboard down the street or something, and I'll fondly recall him throwing a fit about not being able to turn the pedals on the tricycle, screaming "I DO IT! I DO IT!" as I tried to help him. I'll be like my own mom, forcing my former mama's boy to give me a kiss before he runs into his first day of school, then secretly watching him through the window and crying (one of her favorite stories). I know, I know, it's wonderful and necessary and the natural order of things, but still...it burns a little, doesn't it?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Like most 2-year olds J has developed an obsession with having "boo-boos," and he is constantly pointing out microscopic lesions on his body so he can score a band-aid. He'll even wince in fake pain when I'm checking them out, and after he gets his band-aid he'll randomly hunch over the area like a wounded animal and push me away, going, "NO!! DON'T TOUCH MY BOO-BOO!!" . This is usually followed by him hopefully asking, "Medicine?". Yeah, he tries to score Tylenol and Motrin, too, whenever he can.

Very cute, right? Only not so cute when his new daily routine is to point out zits on my face and tell me, "Mommy got boo-boos onna face." Thank you, baby, for telling me that. It's right up there with him trying to pull up my shirt so he can poke my fat belly, yell, "Mommy booty!" and cackle hysterically. Next thing you know he'll be pointing out wrinkles and gray hairs....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Elmo's naked.

This is me "whispering" because I'm posting while I'm at work. It's very naughty, I know but our computer went to heaven over the weekend. Maybe she'll see Wall-E up there (I don't know why the computer is a she, it just feels right LOL). So until we can get the Geek Squad on the case I have to sneak and use the work computer...



It's funny how J will suddenly grasp a concept -- or maybe he always grasped it but didn't have the words to articulate it until now. Over the weekend we were watching Elmo in Grouchland, which is one of the few little kids' movies that doesn't make me gag. The basic plot is that Elmo loses his blanket and has to go to Grouchland to retrieve it. So as we were watching a scene featuring a full body shot of Elmo running down the street, J suddenly turned to me and said, "Elmo's nanket!"

"That's right, sweetie," I said in my Mommy's Teaching You Something voice. "Elmo lost his blanket."

"No, Mommy," J replied in his I'm Talking to the Village Idiot voice, and he actually climbed onto my lap and put his hands on either side of my face to drive the point home. "Elmo's nanket."

"Elmo's blanket? Elmo made it? Elmo's name is?"

"NO!! ELMO'S NANKET!!"

"Ohhhh. Elmo's naked. Yes, baby, Elmo is naked."

And that was his mantra for the rest of the day. During dinner: "Mommy, Elmo nanket. He no hanna close on." During bathtime, standing up in the tub and shaking his...body at me: "Elmo nanket. I nanket, too!!" Heard over the monitor in a little singsong as he's drifting off to sleep: "Elmo nanket, Elmo nanket, Elmo nanket, Mommy nanket, Daddy nanket, too..." Okay, that one made us laugh.