Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - The Year That Was.

2010. Meh. Won't miss it. It will go down in history as generally Crappy Year. Maybe even Spectacularly Crappy. But it wasn't all bad. 2010 had its moments, and here they are:

Biggest Accomplishments of 2010:
Losing 20 pounds...again. Running several 5K's. Accidentally running a 5 mile 5K. Since then deciding that I might as well run 5 miles every time I go out since apparently I can do it. Spending a weekend away from the kids. Parenting 2 children while working full-time. Maintaining my professionalism and not going ghetto on my former boss/colleague even when I had ample reason to.

Biggest Pain in the Neck in 2010:
My hair. All year, unhappy with the hair. I'm inching towards cutting it off but I just don't think I have the bone structure in my face to rock really short hair.

Random Sort-of Celebrity Association of 2010:
Did you watch Project Runway this year. Did you love Mondo as much as me? Well, guess what...I know that guy. Kind of. We were in marching band together in high school. Okay maybe not exactly "together," we were both in the same all-city marching band in Denver at the same time. I remember him, albeit vaguely. I doubt he would remember me. But still...I know that guy!

2010 Song That I Wanted to Hate But Secretly Loved Anyway:
Train, "Soul Sister." I know. Annoying. But I love it anyway.

2010 Song That Apparently Everyone Else Loved But I Continue to Hate:
Katy Perry "Teenage Dream." Barf, enough with it already.

Favorite Movies of 2010:
Avatar - I know it's really a 2009 movie but I didn't see it until May. I've now watched it about 10 times.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
True Grit - I know, right? A western? It was really good, though.

2010 Movie That I Still Just Don't Get What the Big Deal Is:
Twilight: Whatever the Rest of the Title Is. God these books were horrid and I could barely sit through the first movie so there was no way I could watch the sequel. I don't get the fascination. That kid who plays Jacob is HOT though.

Dog Breeds That Bit Me This Year:
Miniature Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel, American Eskimo, and for the 3rd year in a row the Number One Breed This Veterinarian Will NEVER Own -- the godforsaken Chihuahua.

Proudest Parenting Moments of 2010:
When J recited the Lord's Prayer from memory by himself. Still gives me chills thinking about it.
Taking care of the boys by myself for almost 3 weeks when Jr. was only 5 months old.
Watching J's reading skills blossom. Sharing books from my childhood with him, like Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Getting my kids hooked on "old" Michael Jackson music and Soul Train episodes.

Most Annoying Parenting Issue I Hoped Would Go Away in 2010 But Didn't:
Picky eating. If anything it's worse now that J can complain loudly and in detail the many reasons why he doesn't like something (too spicy, too crunchy, weird color, generally yucky, blah blah blah just eat it already!!!).

What I Learned in 2010 About Having Little Boys That I Wish I Hadn't:
They have no aim and pee on everything. I'm so sick of cleaning up pee around the base of the toilet. I grew up in a house full of girls so I never encountered this problem.

What Surprised Me Most in 2010 About Having Two Kids:
I love it. I had alot of people warning me about how hard it is to have 2 kids, and it just hasn't been that way for me. I really like having children, plural. Sure life is more hectic than ever before, but I've enjoyed this past year of having 2 kids immensely. I highly recommend it.

Best-Mom-of-the-Year Moment 2010:
The Halloween costumes. Hands down. 2 custom-made, full-body zebra costumes that looked like something you'd pay $60 for at a costume store. Totally made the new sewing maching worth it.

Worst-Mom-of-the-Year Moment 2010:
I won't go into detail. Let's just say that we learned the hard way about keeping that top-of-stair gate closed AT ALL TIMES and thankfully (and amazingly) we didn't have to go to the ER to learn the lesson.

Runner-up: When we did have to take J to the ER for the first time. He was jumping on a hotel bed when we were in Santa Barbara and fell off, and we were sure he broke his hand. He didn't. That did, however lead to this awesome picture:

Note the ER hospital bracelet that J refused to take off before his 1st Real School Picture the next day. Love it!

Peace out, 2010! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reason #5,947 these kids better hope nothing ever happens to me.

Went running this morning. TH said he would get the kids dressed. Came back to the baby wearing this get-up. A busy patterned shirt with completely clashing camo pants. To go out in public. Well, to the private in-home daycare he goes to, but still, it's outside the house. Good grief.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The force is strong in this one.

A couple of months ago, before Halloween, TH came home with a package of glow-in-the-dark bracelets he'd picked up in the $1 bin at Target. He also had one large "glo-stick" that we intended to use for trick or treating on Halloween. The package of bracelets came in much handier than we'd planned once we realized that J would do just about anything to play with one before bed. They became the bribe du jour, the incentive to brush his teeth, put on his PJ's in a timely manner, or say his prayers without jumping all over the room. He was completely fascinated with turning the lights off and dancing around with them like a college freshman at his first rave.

As luck would have it, we completely forgot about the big glo-stick on Halloween, and didn't need it anyway because someone gave J a jack-o-lantern shaped flashlight that quickly replaced the glo-bracelets as The Next Big Thing. Until TH randomly found the big glo-stick in the junk drawer a few weeks ago and in a truly inspired moment showed it to J, then whisked it away and told him he had to do Something Really Special to get that glo-stick. For awhile now we've been teaching J the Lord's Prayer, reciting it together before bed. TH told J that if he memorized the Lord's Prayer and was able to say it completely by himself, he could have the glo-stick. This was one month ago. Every night since then, when we kneel down for prayers, we've asked J if he wants to try to say it by himself, and every night he says no, he wants us all to say it together. And every night we remind him that there's a glo-stick in the cabinet downstairs with his name on it.


Today, I officially lost my job. The full-time one. The Grinch pretty much stole Christmas. Here's how it went down:

Grinch: I need to talk to you about the new contract I promised to give you once I bought the practice.

Me: Great, let's get to it.

Grinch: Well, see, here's the thing. I talked to my accountant, and...the numbers just don't add up. Once the practice is officially mine it will be a one-doctor practice, and the one doctor will be me.

Me: uh....what? When is this all supposed to go down, again? February? March? (This is what I was told last week).

Grinch: Well, see, here's the thing. Everything got kind of expedited so...I'm taking over Christmas Eve. So that will be your last day.

Me: Christmas Eve?? Like, next Friday Christmas Eve?

Grinch: Yep. As of the 24th I won't be able to pay you. I mean, maybe you could work one day a week as an hourly employee or something...I'm really sorry to do this to you a week before Christmas. You're an excellent doctor, the clients love you, I feel terrible about it, blah blah blah, b.s. b.s b.s, blah blah... I'll understand if you don't want to come in next week.


So I sadly cleaned 4 years of detritus from my desk, and left early to pick the boys up and spend some time with them. J could tell I was a little off all afternoon, and when he asked me about it I decided to be honest and explain as much as I could. "Remember when I told you how Mommy and Daddy work so we can have enough money to take care of the family and buy things?
Remember the blue pawprint building where Mommy works with the sick animals? Well, I can't work there anymore. They don't have enough money to pay me. So I'll have to work someplace else and it's making me sad." J looked sad, too. He's come to visit me at work dozens of times, I started at this practice when he was 5 months old. Every time we drive past the clinic he shouts, "Mommy! There's your work! Let's go in there and see Waffle!" (Waffle is a cat that lives there.)

He didn't say much about it after that. At bedtime, it was my turn with him (we take turns each night one of us with each kid), and after a couple of books we settled down for bedtime prayers. I kind of wearily asked if he wanted to try the Lord's Prayer. He didn't answer me. He just knelt next to his bed, put his hands together...and did it. The whole thing. From start to finish, without messing up or stumbling over the words once. It seemed like it just poured out of him effortlessly. My FOUR YEAR OLD. It gave me chills listening to him, he sounded so peaceful and grown-up. I can only compare it to that scene at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus quotes the Bible passage about the first Christmas. It was like the woe-is-me haze lifted and I could see our future right in front of me, in our little boy. I started crying.

"You are the best thing that ever happened to me," I told him.

And you better believe he got that glo-stick.

Pretending to be a Jedi.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Show Me the Mommy - 16

I bought this dress at Kohl's maybe 3 months ago. When I was not comfortably in a 16. Today was the first time I actually wore it outside the house. I like the retro-ish "Mad Men" vibe of it, which is more flattering for us curvy girls than more modern stuff. I'm not loving how busty I look with this neckline and the busy pattern but overall I'll take it.

I know alot of women who would rather cut off their own arm than be a size 16 but it's a milestone size for me. 16 is the cutoff for alot of stores before going into plus-size territory. Therefore I have now lost enough weight to size myself back IN to the regular store which makes me very happy. No more Lane Bryant, yaaaaay!!!

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 5 Mile 5K

*Disclaimer: Loaded up the camera w/batteries and a new memory card, then promptly forgot it on the counter at home. Therefore sadly I have no pictures to accompany this post.

Saturday I took part in the 2010 Las Vegas Great Santa Run, a 5K race that features thousands of runners dressed as Santa Claus in a combined effort to raise money for a local charity and beat the Guiness Book Record for "most Santa Clauses in one place." This is the second time I've run this race -- the first time was 3 years ago, and it was also the first time I'd ever run in a real race. The last time I was in the Santa Run it took place on Fremont Street in "Old Vegas," which was a perfect location. No major hills, a nice wide street to run on, a good gathering place at the beginning/end for those not running and for the live music and activities that accompany the event. It was alot of fun and a great experience for my first 5K.

The 2010 event was a little different. It was held at a big shopping/entertainment complex on the south end of Vegas Boulevard (i.e. The Strip), for reasons that are a bit unclear to me. When I heard where they were having the race this year my first thought was that there is no way this complex is 3+ miles around, and I wondered how exactly they would set up a course through a shopping center. I was right about the distance - shortaly after the race started it became apparent that the route would basically be 3 laps around the circumference of the shopping center. Or so I thought. I made a goal several months ago to run this race with Jr. in the jogger, and after the first lap I thought it was going to be a pretty easy race - there were a few mild inclines but no hills, and once we got past the initial bottleneck at the start (I'm not exaggerating at all when I say there are about 8,000 runners in this thing) the course seemed pretty wide open. I got into a good pace right away, and set an internal goal to finish in under 30 minutes. Totally doable.

The second lap, I noticed that there seemed to be alot of people milling about in Santa costumes who weren't actually in the race - they were jogging/walking through the parking lots and up and down the sidewalks of the shopping center, so they had to be volunteers or something, right? But...they had numbers on their chests/backs. I couldn't figure out what they were doing. Then I realized Organizational Mistake #1 - there was a "1-mile Fun Run/Walk," and those people were on a similar but slightly different course. Instead of having some space between the two races, the 1-Mile part began immediately after the 5K, with no demarcation in the huge column of people of who was in which race. Which was fine except for Organizational Mistake #2 - the only way to know which course was which when the two overlapped as to follow people standing at various corners with small colored arrows pointing out the way - red arrows were for the 5K, green arrows were the 1 mile. I think, I never was exactly sure what color I was supposed to follow. There was no other identification of the route. But after the second lap I still felt pretty good, so I just went with the crowd.

As soon as the third lap started, I realized that there was a problem. Instead of following the circumference as before, suddenly all of the 5K runners kept going straight along the back road instead of turning into the shopping center. Straight...towards a construction site. I'm not sure if the folks in the lead took a wrong turn, or got mixed up by the arrows, or just weren't paying attention, but I could see everyone kind of looking around with confused looks on their faces. The arrow-holders were nowhere to be seen. So we all just kept running. As you can imagine, if you've got a couple thousand people running, it's going to take alot for the tide to turn; at that point we were pretty much like lemmings. Eventually someone must have realized that we were waaaaay of course because I started seeing people cutting across a random lot, headed back toward the shopping center. So...that's what everyone did. Cut across a dirt lot. But at that point we were far enough away that we couldn't actually see the finish line, and weren't sure how to get there because all of the 1-milers were done and had started to wander around the shopping center, eating and shopping and socializing. We were running towards a big mass of people all dressed like Santa, half of them in the street/course, with no one exactly sure where we were supposed to end up.

Which brings us to Organizational Mistake #3: There were TWO FINISH LINES. One for the 1-milers, one for the 5K. And neither finish line was where we started, on the outskirts of the shopping center. Both were in the middle of the complex where there's a little park/bandstand thing, about a block apart from each other. The 1-milers were all hanging out in the park between the 2 finish lines, spilling into the street, and the remaining 5K runners didn't know which finish line we were headed towards because I guess the arrow people had given up or forgotten about the longer race and called it a day. I don't know. Thankfully Jr. pretty much slept the entire time, but my shoulders and neck were starting to get sore from pushing the jogger, and although I was still running just fine, I was more than ready to be done. Finally, someone made an executive decision and picked one of the balloon arches marking the finish lines, and we all made our way through it. But it was the wrong one. Which was disappointing because TH and J had been waiting the whole time at the correct side to watch me come across the finish line and they totally missed me finishing. It was a bit ridiculous to say the least.'s the cool part, at least for me. Although I knew the race was taking a bit longer than I had trained for (I must have played my "Power Song"* 4 times at the end because I'd run out of music on my "5K Playlist"), for some reason I never checked my time or distance until the whole thing was over. You guys, I ran 4.97 miles! I have never run more than 4 miles before. And I didn't stop to walk one single time. 52 minutes of running, a little over 10 minutes/mile, which is pretty good for me. With Jr. in the jogger, which I've also never done for more than about 2 miles before. Despite my general frustration with the idiotic way the race was set up, I have to say I was fairly proud of myself. I never signed on for the "500 in 2010" thing because 2010 began with me breastfeeding a 3 month old infant and I knew it was kind of unrealistic. I didn't even start running again until about 5 months ago, after a whopping 18 months of almost no real exercise. But I checked my Nike+ thing this morning and in those few months I've logged 207 miles. I totally think that by the time a year is up I will have surpassed 500 miles. I am officially In Much Better Shape Than I Was Five Years Ago. At 33. After breastfeeding 2 children. (It would be a lie, however to say that my boobs are in better shape than they were 5 years ago after BFing 2 children. Another post for another day.)

I don't surprise myself often, but this time I really didn't know I had it in me. And who knows, next year...half marathon, maybe?

*Run This Town - Jay-Z feat. Rhianna. Awesome running song, especially at the end of a race.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Drive-by Randomness

  • I haven't posted in 2 weeks. It feels like I haven't posted in 2 minutes. That's how fast life moves along when you're working 2 jobs and taking care of kids and trying to "train" for another 5K and maintaining a marriage.
  • Speaking of training...Las Vegas Great Santa Run in 7 days. This was the first race I ever ran, 3 years ago. I can't wait for this race every year. Literally thousands of people wearing Santa suits running around Vegas. Pure awesomeness. TH has promised me something special if I run the whole thing with Jr. in the jogger.
  • Get your minds out of the gutter, I'm pretty sure "something special" involves some kind of early Christmas present.
  • Speaking of presents...I want an e-reader. I'm constantly reading, so there's stacks of new and used books all over my house. I love the idea of having all my literature in one place.But then, it seems weird to curl up with a cup of tea and...a piece of plastic. Any recommendations? I'm leaning towards the Nook.
  • Speaking of Christmas - for the first time EVER I'm pretty much done with shopping, a whole month before the big day. I've still got to think of something for Jr., but I'm sure he could care less. He doesn't even really need presents at 14 months but I feel like he should get a few things so that J will understand that the holiday isn't all about him. Otherwise, everything for Jr. and TH is crossed off my list and securely stashed around the house. I feel so accomplished LOL.
  • I've been working too much. I don't really have a choice right now, but my tiredness is almost palpable. I'm having moments where I really want to be in a different profession because it's draining, especially this time of year when there's always an influx of euthanasias. This is a real thing. I have my theories as to why alot of people choose to put their pets down during the holidays, but it's still weird. I had four ON MONDAY ALONE.
  • On the other hand, over the last couple of weeks I've suddenly taken on all kinds of weird and crazy cases and in some ways I feel like I'm just now becoming a "real" doctor. I told one of my techs, this past week I've felt like the vet version of House - I diagnosed FOUR different diseases that I've never seen before, only read about in vet school. And amazingly I was right all four times. Maybe I do know what I'm doing...
  • But seriously though, I really would like a week off.
  • Jr. is walking and trying to run and amusing himself by walking backwards and intermittently trying to kill himself by trying to jump off the stairs/couch/our bed. But...he doesn't say anything yet that resembles a word. He understands alot, but has yet to say so much as "mama" or "dada." I'm trying to decide if I'm worried. It seems like a stupid thing to worry about, but the other day I watched a video of J at his first birthday and he was saying 2-3 word sentences. Who knows, they're just different I guess.
  • Speaking of J...preschool is proving to be challenging in ways we didn't anticipate. On the one hand, his teacher has had to formulate an "individualized curriculum" for him because he is so far ahead of his classmates on certain things like reading that she's "literally run out of lesson plans for him." (Her words). On the other hand, he's been getting in trouble at least once a week for various antics like not listening to his teachers, using "inappropriate language" (i.e. calling people "poopy heads"), and one incident that will go down in infamy as The Day J Got All the Other Kids Riled Up During Naptime and Led a Revolt Wherein He Was Actually Standing on a Chair Yelling for Them to Get Up and Run From the Inept Student Teachers and Some of the Kids Actually Went So Far as to Try to Run Out of the Classroom Onto the Playground. Yep, he's gifted like that.
  • Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that incident.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Show Me the Mommy - Hair Edition

Disclaimer: I can't believe I'm doing have no idea how nervous it makes me to show my hair in its real state!!

The other day I was looking through various pictures of myself here, on Facebook, on email, etc. and I realized that I have very few photos of my hair in its "natural" state. Which is funny because I spend more time with my hair natural than straight, mostly due to how time-consuming it is to straighten my hair at home. I don't have a relaxer or any chemical alterations, when I want my hair straight it's just me, my blow dryer, a flatiron, a curling iron, and about 1.5 hours of my precious time. I do go the hairdresser every 3 months or so for a trim and she always blows it out and presses it and it looks fantastic...for a couple of days until I have to wash it and then it's back to the same old, same old. So I thought (why, I don't know) I'd show the little process it takes for me to do my hair. Okay, as I'm writing this it sounds dumber and dumber but I took the pictures so here goes!

Here is an example of how I WISH my hair always looked when it's curly. This photo was taken at Jr.'s first birthday party (I'm on the right). Notice how shiny and springy the curls look, which takes a good bit of effort and alot of product. The other thing I want you to notice about this pic is my twin sister's hair. It's subtle, but do you notice the difference in texture, how her curls aren't quite so tight? My hair used to be that exact same level of curliness...and then I got pregnant with Jr. I don't know what happened, but ever since then the curls have gotten a bit on the unruly side. My hairdresser even commented that my hair is alot harder to tame than it used to be, my blowouts with her take much longer than they did 2 years ago.

Let's call this the "Before" picture.

It's the way my curls usually look in real life, minus the extra effort and product, after a long day at work. It's not any shorter than in the previous picture, the curls are just tighter. I seem to have no control over that. This is how my hair looks at least 50% of the time. Okay, honesty - since Jr. was born and I stopped straightening my hair as often, I'd guess more like 75%. Not necessarily this style but definitely this texture.

Step 1: De-tangle in preparation for straightening. This is why people with my hair texture absolutely, under no circumstances brush their hair during the day once the style is set (while it's wet). Once my hair dries, if I put a brush to it...instant Diana Ross.

Step 2: Divide and conquer. Sing a few bars of "I rock rough n' tough, with my afro puffs." Wish that I could wear my hair like this to work. Remember that I'm 33. Start straightening.

Halfway through. This is maybe 40 minutes into it. Why does it take so long? In order to get the kinks out I have to flatiron in teeny tiny sections, several times.

I can't believe the bags under my eyes in these photos. Stress is not a good look for me.

The finished product. Do you see why I make the effort? It looks great, right?
The problem is, obviously I can't wet or wash this or it will immediately revert back to its natural state. Therefore I have 5 days, TOPS, before it's so greasy and stringy from not washing that I get grossed out, and back to curly I go. And then usually it's another 2-3 weeks before I have the energy to straighten it again. I've thought about cutting it off, but I actually think it would end up being more work to keep it looking cute at a shorter length, especially while it's curly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tunnel Vision

When we were kids growing up in Colorado, at least once a year we'd have reason to drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel, which passes under the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. It's the longest mountain tunnel in the world (if I can remember correctly), around 1.75 miles long. If you've ever had cause to drive to/from Denver to one of the major ski resorts, you've likely driven through it. Something about going through the Eisenhower Tunnel was and is always exciting for me. The entrance to it doesn't look like much, and the tunnel itself is pretty boring, but as kids we always looked forward to driving through it, maybe because it literally feels like the entrance to the "real" mountains - often it would be clear and dry on one side, and when we'd come through the other side less than 10 minutes later it would be blizzard-like snow conditions. One game that we played every time we drove through the tunnel was to see who could hold their breath through the whole thing. I'm not sure if anyone ever won or was really able to do it, or how long it even takes to drive the tunnel. I do remember, however, that there was always a point in the game where you started to see light around the bend, where you knew that the end was somewhere down there, but because you couldn't actually see the exit and didn't really know how far away it was, you started to question if you were going to be able to make it this time. Was the end of the tunnel just around the corner, or another mile away? Would you pass out trying to make it, or be the winner?

That's how I feel in my life right now. You guys, I'm struggling. That's the only way I can put it. I don't want to bore everyone with my daily angst, so my posts of late have been what I call "blog lite" or "cheater" posts - heavy on pictures and captions, lite on any real content. It's not that there's any one giant horrific thing that's happened, it's more a cumulative effect of alot of big and small sucky things that once they're added up are starting to drag me down. I really, really want this to be the Best Year Ever...but it's not even close. It's actually turning out to be one of the Worst Years Ever. Yes, we continue to be blessed with health and beautiful children and a roof over our heads and food to eat. I know it could be worse, okay? But mentally and emotionally, I'm feeling kind of spent. Important people have passed away. Other important people have been hospitalized and sick. People around us have been getting divorced left and right. The economy is killing our community and what was a trickle-down effect on TH and I has begun to directly affect us. My career is in a complete shambles right now, to the point where I've been questioning whether I even want to stay in this profession that I spent 10 years of school and over $100,000 training for. But worst of all, I've been feeling...disappointed in people. I don't know if my expectations are too high, but they seem reasonable to me. Honesty. Integrity. Compassion. Caring. Unselfishness. Am I asking for too much? So many people that I expected more from are falling short, and it's starting to change my entire view of what the world is really like, which bothers me.

The family is still together and going strong, which is really the only thing that matters in the end. TH and I are people of faith and we truly believe that this is all happening for a reason. But right now, we're squarely in the tunnel. We can't see the entrance anymore, and we're holding our breath, hoping we can make it. We can see the light starting to seep in around the edges, and we know that we'll be coming out on the other side soon, but we don't know exactly how far it is, if it's just around the bend or another mile away. Will the weather be the same, or will it be a blizzard with zero visibility? I wish I could tell you. All I know is, we are definitely in the real mountains...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Real Quick-Like

Sadly all of my posts recently have been like this - real quick-like, bullet format, not enough hours in the day and my poor little blog is suffering from being low on the priority list. Anyhoo. The last few weeks in a nutshell:

Gratuitous baby photo with unnecessarily cutesy caption.
"Whatchoo talkin' about, Willis?"

Is he actually enjoying this? You be the judge.

Hey whaddya know, sometimes they do like each other. The other notable thing about this picture: I'm pretty sure this was taken around 4pm on my day off. 4pm, and they're both still in PJs.

Random pat myself on the back moment. Every Sunday we give J the toy sections of all the sale papers and his safety scissors, and he cuts out all of the things he wants to put on his Christmas list for Santa and puts them in a ziploc bag on the fridge. We call it his "Christmas File." It's been sooooo helpful figuring out what he actually wants for Christmas shopping. Genius!

Grandpa teaching J to play guitar.

Yaaaay, free pumpkins at the Fall Festival. Of course they forgot to mention that these pumpkins were seriously underripe and pretty much impossible to carve because the shells are hard like cement.

Crossing the finish line at the Fall Festival 5K. Notice the, um, lack of alot of people behind me. I was near the end to say the least. I'm just proud of the fact that my feet were still moving, the last mile of the race was all uphill and there were a couple of times where it seemed like I was running in place. But hey, at least I beat the lady with the double stroller, right? Right?

Nope. Definitely not "enjoying" it. Although he did ask to go again and was happier the second time around.

J: "Who says "matchy-matchy" is a bad thing when you're picking out your own clothes?"
Jr: "For the love of God, someone please cut my hair! Or at least brush it."

Preschool Halloween Parade. It was like being at a movie premierethere were so many parents lined up on the side with their digital cameras flashing (it was in the evening) that it felt like we were paparazzi. Here, J is clearly giving the universal sign for, "Please, no autographs."

Jr. longingly watching J at a Halloween party, fervently wishing that he could be four like his big brother so he that he, too, could blatantly disregard me telling him 5 SECONDS EARLIER not to jump out of this trampoline onto the rocks.

Pre-trick-or-treating. Yes, I made both of these zebra costumes, staying up til midnight for the last 3 days to get them finished. You can send the Mom of the Year Award directly to my house, thank you.
Just kidding, I love sewing stuff like this and seeing them in the costumes makes all the time spent on them totally worth it. (Check out my "costume" of random "fairy make-up". I mean let's be real, I only have so many hours in the day for being crafty, someone wasn't getting a costume and that someone was me.)

The Loot. I just love the look of smug satisfaction on his face. He has no idea that I'm raiding said loot as soon as he goes to bed.

My 3 boys on Halloween. I am going to miss these years so much when they're over.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Show me the Mommy - Working Mommy

Okay, I'll play. Mostly because even though I intellectually know that I'm okay-looking, I really hate the way I look in pictures, so I'm not in very many. I feel like photos of me never match up with how I *think* I look in my mind's eye, if that makes sense.

Saturday. At work. Drinking coffee, working on charts. Went running in the morning so the hair is pulled back, ran out of time getting ready and didn't put on foundation, hence the tired-looking face. Trying to finish up my cases in time to make it to at least one of J's soccer games this season. The story of my working mom life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And now the part where we all write love letters to each other

So. Everyone who reads this blog knows what I was up to last weekend. Because...everyone who reads this blog was probably there LOL. What can I say about the Vegas weekend? Alot. More than anyone probably cares to read. Since I live here I wasn't at all distracted by being in Vegas, which allowed me to really take in the moment and savor all of the new (and old) friendships that were formed. I kept thinking before this weekend that it was so weird, the eleven of us who for the most part had never met each other deciding to take time away from our families and drop major $$ on essentially vacationing with strangers. Except....we're not strangers. I didn't feel AT ALL like I didn't know these people. It was like going to a reunion, everyone seemed so familiar and I already knew some of their family history and their jobs and their views on life. In my educational and professional life I've had alot of moments where I was keenly aware that I was a little different, I was the big ol' black girl in the room. I didn't feel that way ONCE during this weekend. I'm already sad that we can't just get together for drinks again in a couple of weeks. So here's my thoughts on the whole thing, in randomness format: (I didn't bring a camera but I'll post links to everyone's blog where I'm sure someone posted pictures :)

  • Julie - our kids are the exact same ages - her Lacey and Jr. were born one day apart. We've corresponded ALOT over the past year as we've adjusted to having 2 kids and breastfeeding again and lack of sleep. I can't even tell you how much I was looking forward to talking to her in person. She is just like I thought - super smart, funny as hell, a very devoted mom. I've never been so delighted to hear another person drop an f-bomb in all my life. ("We both have potty mouths! Yay!!"). I'll be forever grateful for her actually getting into the backseat with Jr. after I picked her up from the airport and he decided to royally flip out in the car on the way home. That was the move of someone who really has been there, done that. And I'll also be forever grateful that she at least tried to pretend she wanted to go the nightclub.

  • Speaking of nightclubs - Tao at the Venetian. Whack as hell, glad we got in for free. I had on a ridiculous purple dress that I thought was totally hot at the store and now in hindsight feels a leeeeetle bit like part of the Miss Piggy Collection. But I still had a good time - you know me, if there's music and I can dance a little I don't care about the rest. A free vodka drink and a Cosmo didn't hurt either. And I definitely appreciated feeling loose and stress-free enough at one point to hoist my drink and simply toast, "F--- it."

  • Heidi - we've met before as she's here in Vegas, but I really got to see a different side to her this weekend. Heidi is a firecracker, in the nicest sense. She knows herself, she loves her kids but isn't run over by them, she loves to talk...and she definitely made me look like a poser as far as being "local" - obviously she gets out alot more than I do. Heidi was instrumental in us having a weekend of awesome-yet-not-too-pricey food. AND she was a little hottie at the nightclub. Can you say "the total package?"

  • Beth - okay I have to admit I knew who she was but somehow hadn't seen her blog. So it was odd that I got the strongest sense of deja vu whenever I talked to her - she looks and acts SO MUCH like Jen, my best friend from vet school. It was uncanny. I'm completely jealous of Beth's job - if I didn't go into vet med I wanted to be a history teacher and she gets to be a part of living history every day. I would love to meet up with Beth again.

  • Joanna - just. like. I. imagined. Which is a good thing. I don't think I've ever met anyone who spins a story the way she does - she has a real way with words. Her stories about her husband and son were hilarious. She's also very sure of herself - she calls it "contrary," I call it being a grown-ass woman who knows what she does and doesn't like (wanna know a secret? I don't like cordial cherries either!! Notice I didn't touch them). Why does everyone I'd love to meet for coffee every week live on the East Coast??

  • Jenn - whoa. I'm pretty sure I haven't ever been as together as she is. I mean seriously I felt like an airhead around her, she's so organized. Another strong woman - you shoulda seen her whip that big Tahoe into a U-turn without having to do a 3-pointer, it was great. I also love talking to people like her about their pets - why can't everyone I deal with be that caring yet level-headed when making decisions for their animals?

  • Rita (and her BFF Tenaya) - "Where my girls at?" LOL. Rita and I have met a few times before and I always always always love talking to her! She's pretty much the exact kind of person I was friends with in college - smart, fun, funny, adventurous, ready to party. I can't believe I was the youngest person on this weekend - Rita and Tenaya knew how to party til dawn like the 25 year olds while I was forcing myself to stay up until midnight. And even though you weren't happy with your haircut, Rita, I still give you props for the spur of the moment decision at the spa - I am so picky about hairdressers, I would never have the balls to get a haircut without thinking about it for weeks in advance. p.s....Can I borrow some jewelry?

  • Speaking of hair - after this weekend I'm seriously considering cutting my hair off. I got it done at the salon on Thursday and by Friday night thanks to the random humidity and rain it was a poofy ridiculous mess. I feel like I spent way too much time trying to tame my hair and being self-conscious about an impending Diana Ross moment every time we went outside.

  • Laura - again, exactly as advertised. I think of everyone Laura is the easiest to feel like you "know" because she's by far the most prolific blogger. I didn't get to talk to Laura as much as I wanted to, probably because she was always doing something - the girl lives a big life. Boudoir photos, fake eyelashes, meeting other internet friends, taking amazing photos...I bow down. So much energy and confidence - she's the person I want to be when I grow up :) I also love the short hair, it's one of my inspirations for wanting to cut mine off. Sadly, though, I still have never had In N Out...

  • Bridget - out of everyone, I'm most sad that I didn't get to spend more time with Bridget. She's another one who can spin a good story, and her style is out of this world. We all went shopping in her luggage - I was oddly proud of myself that I brought the same shoes that she did, like that was the fashion stamp of approval LOL. Again I wish I had this much confidence. It's funny because on paper I'd think that Bridget and I are very different - different political views, different lifestyle, etc. but I really enjoyed talking to her. With her cute little Southern voice.

  • Lindsay - all I can say is wow. She's someone else that on paper would seem very different from me, but to steal Laura's phrase I am girl-crushing on Lindsay. Sadly it's rare that you meet people who are truly, genuinely nice people and Lindsay is one of those. She is so sweet, y'all. (That was my homage to Texas I guess). I love that she wanted to watch football while we were hanging out in the cabana, and that she kept forcing herself to take her hair out of a ponytail like I had to force myself not to wear headbands all weekend.

I really did have a good time. It wasn't exactly the nonstop party that was envisioned (except for Rita & Tenaya), but it was just what I needed. If and when we do this again, I don't think we need fancy nightclubs and restaurants, just someplace to sit and and drink and relax and talk. And talk and talk and talk...I'm thinking somewhere beachy next time?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Heart

I woke up this morning a little confused.

Wasn't this just yesterday?

It was a year ago that I wondered whether I could love you as much as your big brother. All that worry, gone in an instant the minute I saw you.

My sweet little boy, with your angelic face and loud voice and freakishly strong little hands.

My feisty second baby that made me realize just how easy my first baby was. The baby who benefited from me having so much more confidence in myself as a mother. The baby who I actually cherished the late nights with (and they were/are many, for you are also the baby who fights sleep!) instead of wishing the time away.

My petite little man, so much smaller than your brother was but already outpacing his 4 year old appetite! I still have yet to find any food you refuse. Can it be eaten? Then you like it.

Our "Littleness." You really made us a family as cheesy as that sounds. J is a big brother because of you, and he's learned so much from having you around, even more than you've probably learned from him. Oh, how you adore him! I hope you always feel this way.

The past year has been so hard for us in so many ways. But when I look back I hope I'll remember this as the year of Jr., the bright spot in all this darkness, the source of so much joy.

My "Sweet Pea."

My "Poofy Puffhead."

My "Manny-Moo."

My heart.

Could I love you as much, indeed. Happy First Birthday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just keep swimming....

I love that little saying from Dory in Finding Nemo. That's about where I'm at right now, alot going on and unfortunately alot of great posts for the blog in my mind but not enough time to write them down.

A synopsis of the next few weeks:
Work a 6 day/60hr week this week. J soccer practice Monday/Wednesday, first game on Saturday. Preschool friend birthday party after soccer game Saturday (TH handling all that because I'll be at work). Family arrives in town while I'm at work on Saturday (woo-hoo! Both sisters and my mom and me all together in Vegas for the first time in 4 years!). Jr.'s 1st birthday party Sunday. Go into work Monday to neuter my sister's dog. Family here for 4 days, lots of our usual shenanigans will likely ensue. Again soccer practice Monday/Wednesday. Jr. one year check-up and shots that Wednesday (on his birthday). Home with the boys til Friday then Girls Weekend!!! til Sunday. The next day back at work, work four days/40 hours. Leave on Thursday night again to drive to California (5 hrs) for a veterinary conference. Stay in Cali 3 days, return Sunday night, back at work for another 4 days the next day. Work that Saturday as well. Dad in town for 5 days and 5K race the following Saturday. Work normal 4 day weeks plus the next 2 Saturdays.

The next Saturday and Sunday off not involving travel or family visiting: November 13.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Running.

I can't believe I'm actually saying this. I love running. If you've known me for more than a few years, you know this is a pretty new development. I have always hated running. HATED. When I was in high school and was involved in various sports, I dreaded the part of practices or training that required running around the track or through the park. It's not that I didn't like exercise, I've always enjoyed exercising in general. Just not running. The burning lungs, the pounding on my knees, the infinite search for a good bra for "ample-chested" women, the shin splints....

About 3 years ago, I randomly decided to start running. I don't know why. I had baby weight to lose, I was getting bored with going to the gym, and I had a friend who was always talking about how great she felt after going for a run. I had further incentive to do it when a friend of mine moved out of state and gave me her almost-brand-new treadmill because they couldn't fit it on the moving truck. So, I started running. Poorly. I could barely go 1/4 mile without stopping to walk. I did enjoy the time to myself, though, so I kept at it. I ran my first 5K, which was much more fun than I'd anticipated, probably because of the type of event more than the running itself. I lost some weight. I ran another 5K a few months later. But, I can't say that I really "loved" running. It was...okay. An excuse to buy an iPod. It made me sound kind of cool, to come into work and say things like "You'll never believe the coyote I saw when I was out on my run this morning," or "Oh, did you try to call me earlier? Sorry, I must have been out running."

Then Jr. came along, and for almost a year and a half (the whole pregnancy and up until he was around 9 months), I didn't run at all. And I can't say that I missed it. Sure, I felt guilty when I'd see my running shoes in the back of the closet, all dusty and half-smashed under a box. But I had absolutely. No. Desire. To. Go. Running.

However, a couple months ago, I was once again getting bored with my workout routine and frustrated with the 3-month weight loss plateau I'd been on, and since I was winding down with breastfeeding, I decided on the spur of the moment to start running again. This time, I bought one of those Nike Plus thingies and some new shoes so I could actually track how far I was running. One morning, after giving Jr. a bottle at around 5am, I set out, my only goal to go until I'd reached 5K, walking or running. I found a new trail near our house that went a little further into the desert than I'd ever been before, and that has ALOT more hills than I'm used to. I think that's what did it - actually watching the sun rise over our neighborhood from the top of a killer hill, no one around but me (and the bats. Good Lord are there alot of bats around here). When I got home from that run, I felt fricking FANTASTIC. Tired and sweaty, yes, and I'd had to walk about 70% of the 5K, but still fantastic. I had energy all day, and I couldn't wait until I could get out on the trail again.

That was about 2 months ago. Since then, I've run/walked about 90 miles. I make myself get out there at least 3 times a week, usually more, and my best runs seem to be the ones that start when it's still dark outside. There's just something about being on that trail and seeing the sun come up, and knowing that while everyone else is still asleep I've already accomplished something for the day. It''s....exhilarating, I guess. I've starting noticing who the "regulars" are, the other people that I always see when out on my run - the old guy with socks pulled up to his knees, the middle-aged couple with the 3 dogs who are never on leash but thankfully very friendly, the guy with the not-so-friendly beagle who I make sure to avoid when I see them further down the path, the older lady who's always waaaaay out in the desert, so far away that I can't talk to her but I see her out there almost every day...and they see me. I don't know how I look -- probably super red-faced (I flush really easily) and sweaty and out of shape, but at least I'm out there, right?

I've worked my way up to a 7K route around my house. To be honest, I still have to stop and walk at least once or twice and I come to almost a standstill whenever I'm faced with a major incline. But no matter what my time or distance, when I'm on the road and listening to my carefully-selected playlist (current "Power Song": B.O.B. by OutKast) and thinking thinking thinking about whatever heavy issue I'm working on, I can tell that it's finally happened.

I love running now. I'm a runner.

Monday, August 23, 2010

6 months since my birthday - update.

Wow time is flying by so fast! 6 months ago on my 33rd birthday I made several goals for myself, some of which I have easily attained, and others...not so much. Here's the update:

Goal 1: Run 2 5K's and think about a half marathon.
I am doing FANTASTIC with this goal. I haven't run the 5Ks yet but I am signed up for 2--one in October and the Santa Run in December--so I've been seriously training with great results. Running in general is a fairly new thing for me - I randomly decided I wanted to do the Santa Run 3 years ago, which was the first time in my whole life I'd ever run outside of a high school gym class. Thanks to Jr. and the ensuing pregnancy/post-partum/little baby madness I'd hardly run at all the past year until a couple months ago. For the past 6 weeks I've been faithfully getting up at 5am at least 3-4 times a week and hitting the road - no treadmill, no skipping weeks. I still wouldn't consider myself a "runner," I have yet to be able to run a whole 5K without walking thanks to all the hills around my house, but it's a start, right?

Goal 2: Lose pregnancy weight.
Again, lots of success here. I'm only a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight with the baby's first birthday right around the corner. I've visited this issue before so I won't rehash it, but I can honestly say that I am very happy with where I'm at physically and how I got there (i.e. normal diet and exercise stuff instead of starving myself and stressing out about it).

Goal 3: Get away for a weekend without the kids.
Yeah, right. I'm pretty sure our little blogger meet-up in October will be my first time away from the kids. A night away with BOTH of us? I don't see it happening any time soon but we'll see.

Goal 4: Decide what, if anything, I want to do with my career.
Honestly things have only gotten more confusing since February as far as that goes. I've been mulling over so many things in my mind and I don't have a really clear idea of what I want to happen. I really thought that at this point (6+ years out of vet school) I would be well on my way to owning my own practice or becoming a specialist. Neither of those things seems to be on the horizon, and I'm not quite sure how to make them happen. Do I go back to school? Do we move back to Colorado and think about opening a practice? Do I stay where I'm at for a few more years until the kids are older? What to do, what to do...maybe by my 34th birthday some kind of plan will be in place.

Goal 5: Debt free.
Still working on it. Due to the recession and its huge impact on Las Vegas, TH and I have both had to take fairly significant pay reductions this year with more on the horizon. Although we haven't accrued more debt necessarily, we've definitely had to slow down on paying down the credit cards and such. I could write a whole post on what it's like to make "good money" but still be essentially broke, but I don't feel like being depressed today. Another topic for another time.

Goal 6: Eat a pomegranate.
Hahahahaha. Hells no. I bought one, sat and stared at it for awhile, opened it, almost barfed looking at all those seeds, and shelved that goal for awhile. Couldn't bring myself to do it. I'll try again in a few months. Or never.

Hopefully when I revisit this again in 6 months when 34 is on the clock I'll have some 5Ks under my belt, I'll be fitter/thinner, debt-free, with complete clarity about where my life is going. Only time will tell...

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Slide

On Saturday I got off work by 2pm, so I decided to take J swimming, just he and I. We don't live really close to a public pool, and we've been so short on time this summer that we haven't really done much swimming at all. Now that I think about it, I think J has been in a pool a grand total of 3 times since May, including Saturday. (Next year I vow to do better, I promise!). It was my intention to do swim lessons this year but for various reasons it just didn't happen. The bottom line is, J still doesn't really know how to swim. Sure, he'll splash around in the water and even put his head under every now and then, but in general "swimming" to him has meant laying on his belly in the walk-in (i.e. extremely shallow) part of the little kids' pool, cruising around the pool by hanging onto the edge, or hanging onto me screaming and basically embarrassing me whenever I try to force him to float or something.

However, this year he has been sloooooowly acclimating to the water more, with less screaming and freaking out about water going in his mouth or nose. The pool we went to on Saturday, at the big local rec center, is one of our favorites because it's only a 10-15min drive from our house, it has long hours, it's cheap, and it has a really huge "activity pool" with wateralls and buckets that dump water on the kids and a gently sloping walk-in and a "deep" end of only about 3.5 feet. It also has a really big waterslide. As in, you have to be 42" tall in order to get on it, and there are usually mostly teenagers and adults in line.

(Please forgive the crappy picture, it was taken on my not-an-iPhone. Hopefully you can see the big corkscrew slide in the back with 2 stories of stairs leading to the top.)

As we were paying to get into the pool, J saw a bunch of kids standing up against the little measuring line they have to determine if you're tall enough for the slide, and he went and stood against it like they had. "Good for you, you're big enough for the slide!" said the ticket lady, "come get a frog stamp for your hand so you can get on it." J, who had no idea what slide she was talking about, was more than happy to get a frog stamp, and we went in to the pool.

"Soooo," I said nonchalantly pointing at the slide. "Do you want to go on that?"

His immediate response? "Definitely NOT. It's too scary."

Which was fine by me. We splashed around the kids activity area for awhile, playing some involved game that J made up about rescuing dolphins and sharks from evil penguins (?). After an hour or so he started complaining of being hungry and thirsty so we stopped at the snack stand for an ice cream sandwich. Right next to the snack stand is the fenced-off lap pool and high diving boards, where people were taking turns diving -- some basically belly-flopping, and some doing really impressive somersaults and flips. For whatever reason, J was fascinated by this, so we ate our ice cream watching the diving pool, which also put us right in front of the splash down area for the slide. Out of nowhere, before he was even done with his ice cream, J stood up and said, "I wanna get on that slide." And he said it very seriously, the way one might say, "I think we need to talk," or, "There's something I have to tell you."

Sensing that if we didn't go immediately he would lose his nerve, I quickly threw away the ice cream, took J's hand, and we almost ran over to the stairs leading to the top. "You're really going to do this?" I asked. "Yep," he said. "You understand that we can't go together?" "Yep," he said. As were climbing, I thought for sure that once he realized how high we were going he would chicken out, but instead he seemed to get more and more excited, so I hammed it up, saying things like "This is going to be so much fun!" and "You're definitely a big kid now!" As we neared the entrance to the slide, I told him that I would go first so I could wait for him at the bottom, and I tried to give him a little instruction on how to handle the splash-down area, which we were told was 3.5 feet (remember--HE CAN'T SWIM). "When you go into the water at the bottom, try to POP! up to the top really fast and look for me." Right before I went down I told the lifeguard at the top that J had never done this before and couldn't swim, so if he chickened out and didn't want to do it I would look up there and the lifeguard would just wave at me to let me know to come back up for him.

So, down the slide I went. And about one second into it, I thought we'd made a mistake. You guys, this is a real waterslide. Fast, with 3 big corkscrews, with lots of sliding up onto the walls and a pretty decent splashdown at the bottom. I remember thinking, "There is no way J is going to do this." At the bottom, I waited. And waited. And looked up at the lifeguard to see if he was frantically waving -- nothing. Just as I was about to get out and go rescue J, I heard him coming around the last turn, his voice echoing on the walls of the slide: "MOMMMEEEEEEEEE!!!" and then he came into view, half on his back, sideways, a look of sheer terror on his face. He shot out of the end of the slide, went under, and took so long coming back up that the lifeguard in the splash area got nervous and reached in, pulling him out by his arm. After sputtering for a few seconds J literally jumped into my arms and said, "I kept trying and trying and trying to POP! up but I got stuck under the water!!" (I have to admit, when he said that I kind of questioned my own judgement in letting my non-swimming kid do this, but then again I kind of believe in the old school thinking that the best way to learn to swim is to be thrown into the water and just have to do it. With close supervision, of course.)

"Did you have fun though?" I asked.

"YES!!" he said.

"Do you want to do it again?"

"NO!!" he said, firmly. Then he added, "Maybe next week we can do it again."

I'm not usually one to give bribes and rewards, but I was so proud at that moment, I felt it was definitely worth a new Hot Wheels car. So after a little more swimming--yes, he got back in the pool and swam around some more after that!--we packed up and made a little trip to Target.

Big boy, indeed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

TH and I are in a little friendly weight-loss competition. We don't want to call it "The Biggest Loser" because that's taken and it's been waaaay overused at this point. So then we thought of "The Big Winner" but that seems cheesy. So I've settled on "Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner," an old phrase I've heard before but never really loved until hearing Guy Fieri say it on my favorite guilty pleasure Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on FoodTV. We're weighing in weekly, and I'm keeping track of measurements -- TH doesn't want to do measurements because being a guy he wants his arms and chest to get bigger.

I don't really have time for Weight Watchers meetings right now so I'm doing the online program, which I don't love as much as the meetings but at least I can track what I'm eating pretty easily. As of right now I'm only about 10 pounds away from where I was 18 months ago before I knew I was pregnant with Jr. As I suspected, since I stopped breastfeeding a few weeks ago I finally got off the plateau I was on and it's also been easier to exercise. The hardest part right now is the frigging HEAT here in Vegas - we just had a record-breaking July with average NIGHT TIME temperatures of 97 degrees. So it's difficult finding a comfortable time to get out and run; I've found that around 5am is best but trying to get myself used to waking up that early has taken some time. Jr. usually makes it til around 4:30am before waking for a bottle, so now I've been making myself get up and get out of the house once he's back down, as soon as it's light enough for me to feel safe alone on the roads. I know. That's pretty early. But alot is at stake.

Which brings me to the Chicken Dinner part of this. In order to make things...interesting, TH and I have a little wager going on. Jr.'s first birthday is in exactly 8 weeks (gaaaah!! already??), and whoever loses the most weight by then is the winner. Of what, we're not sure yet. It has to be good. That's the first deadline. The second deadline, which is really just my own personal goal, is 2 years from now. Yep, I said 2 years. In two years, TH and I will have our 10th wedding anniversary. When we got married eight years ago, we were pretty much your typical broke newlyweds -- I was still in vet school with TH supporting us both on an entry-level salary. Long story short, we didn't go on a honeymoon. So my personal goal is (deep breath) to get into Bikini Shape in time for us to go somewhere beachy for our 10th anniversary/belated honeymoon. That may not sound like much to you, but here's the thing. I have never been in Bikini Shape in my life. Ever. Not when I was in high school, not when I was in my early 20s, never. I actually weigh less and look better now than I did 10 years ago when I was 23. So for me to wear a bikini would be HUGE.

Now I've put it out there, and I guess that means I've gotta see this thing through. In 8 weeks I fully expect to be collecting...something from TH as the Chicken Dinner Winner. In two years, I fully expect -- well, I fully hope -- to be wearing a bikini on a beach somewhere looking like the MILF my husband swears I am. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

His grandmother would be proud.

On the way home from church today, J out of nowhere said, "Daddy, I need to see your Bible." Which he pronounces "Bobble" but I don't correct him because it's cute and makes me laugh. It was kind of a random request because although we've gone to church pretty regularly since J was an infant, we can never tell if he's actually understanding anything that goes on at church or what we're talking and singing and reading about.

"Why do you want my Bible?" TH said. "I want to see what it's about," J replied. TH handed him the Bible, a black leatherbound old-school Christ's-words-in-red King James Version (i.e. no pictures, really small words, thin pages), and J turned to the first page, and just...started reading. TH turned down the radio so we could listen, and J proceeded to read through almost the entire first chapter of Genesis before stopping and saying, "God made the light because when it was dark it was really creepy and scary so he made a flash of lightning so there would be light." Wow. I don't know why, but I got goosebumps listening to J read the Bible like that. He seemed so grown up, not like a 4-year-old at all. When we got home, I made him read it again just so I could get it on tape. (I mean, on memory card. Is that something that's going to give away the age of people in our generation, that we still say we're "taping" something? Anyway.)

I'm sure you're all getting sick of me going on about J's reading skills but I felt the need to brag this time, so here you have it, J reading the Bible. (He actually went on for quite awhile but that would be too boring even for me, his adoring mother.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

He's like his own little special interest group.

We've been calling J Mr. Smooth lately because he's learned how to grease the wheels for himself, the power of persuasion. He's an expert at giving out strategically placed compliments, to the point where sometimes I wonder if he's being sincere -- is he just an innocent wide-eyed four-year-old making an innocent observation, or has he just figured out that if you smile and raise your eyebrows and say the right thing you can sometimes get what you want? Maybe his dad -- very much an old-fashioned southern gentleman who turns on the charm when he wants to -- has been coaching him.

For instance this weekend I went to the hair salon for a cut and blowout, something I do maybe 2-3 times a year. Whenever I come home from the salon TH whistles and calls me "Hollywood," and of course I spend the next few months unsuccessfully trying to recreate that hairstyle myself. So this time when I came in the door J ran up to me, looked at my hair, and stopped. "Whoa." he said. "Mommy, your hair looks really good. It's so beautiful. It makes you look so pretty." I was oddly flattered, and I gave him a big hug and said thank you. J must have noticed my reaction to his compliment because later when I was cooking dinner he randomly came up to me and said, "Mommy, your hair is the most beautiful. I really really really like it when you go to the hair place and you have it like that." "Gee, thanks again, sweetie," I said. Not five minutes later, he came up to me again and said, "Wow Mommy your hair is just so nice! It's just so beautiful and everything!" When I thanked him again, he actually said, "But you didn't hug me." Um, okay. So I hugged him again. Later, after dinner, J asked if we could go to Target and buy a Hot Wheels car. When I told him that it was time for bed and lectured that we can't go to Target and get a new car all the time, he said, totally apropos of nothing, "But I really like your hair!"

It's not just compliments. On Friday he ran into the house after school and pulled some kind of pipe cleaner, plastic bead, and glitter contraption out of his backpack, handed it to TH and said, "Daddy, I made this for you!" But when he noticed me watching from across the room he quickly snatched it from TH, came over and handed it to me and said, "Well, I made it for you, too Mommy, because you're soooooo pretty. Can I have some cookies?" I think this kid has a future in politics.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just call him Hoover.

So, as it turns out, I don't need to worry about Jr. being a picky eater like J. At least not yet. This boy loves to eat. Everything. We have yet to find something that he doesn't like -- no, scratch that -- we have yet to find something that he doesn't enthusiastically love and eat large amounts of even if it's the first time he's ever had it. I'm not sure if the homemade baby food made a difference. Because at this point baby food of any kind is a thing of the past. At 9.5 months Jr. wants to eat everything we eat, the less like baby food the better.

Bread. Pasta. Pizza. Yogurt and cheese. Any kind of fruit. Carrots. Sweet potatoes. Beans. Burritos. Tacos. Crackers. Cookies. Rice (real rice, not rice cereal). Oatmeal (real oatmeal with milk and brown sugar, not oatmeal baby cereal). Cinnamon raisin bread. BBQ pulled pork. Turkey chili. Grits. Cornbread. Tortillas. Cake and ice cream. Rotisserie chicken. I'm sure you're getting the picture...

Of course we're careful about how we introduce things and there are definitely still some stuff that's off limits (whole milk, peanut products, shellfish, choking hazards like grapes and hot dogs, etc.). It's funny because with J we were so much more strict about letting him eat stuff like ice cream and cookies. It's not that we let Jr. have alot of junk, but we're definitely much more relaxed about letting him have a little bit of whatever we're eating as long as it's within reason. It's interesting comparing the two boys' eating habits. Jr. already eats more than J, who continues to be a super picky eater who somehow manages to subsist on juice, cheerios, and sunshine (or so it seems some days). Last week TH and I finally hired the sitter so we could go out for his birthday, and we ordered a pizza for her and the kids. I told her it was ok for Jr. to have a little pizza crust. When we got home, she apologetically told us that Jr. seemed "really hungry" so she kept feeding him. I can't fault her for that because when Jr. is hungry he is HUNGRY and he makes the most godawful sound until you feed him something. My mom heard him making this particular noise one day while I was feeding him and talking to her on the phone and she said, "Well, that's an ugly sound." So now we call it That Ugly Thing. And if he's doing it, someone better feed him STAT. Anyhoo. The babysitter informed us that Jr. ate 2 full 3oz. containers of homemade pears and peaches, a WHOLE SLICE OF PIZZA with crust (sans toppings), a bowl of soft diced carrots, 1/2 a container of YoBaby yogurt, and "about 50 of those little puff things." Oh, yeah, and an 8oz bottle of formula about 30 minutes later. J, on the other hand, ate...about 1/3 slice of pizza ("mostly the pepperonis," she said) half an orange, and some milk.

Two things make Jr.'s eating habits kind of humorous. First, Jr. doesn't have a single tooth. Not so much as a swollen gum has appeared yet. Lord knows how much he'll be able to eat once he has something real to chew with. Second, Jr. is still a little thing compared to his brother at the same age. At his 9 month appointment 2 weeks ago he had only gaind 15 ounces since his previous visit 3 months before--less than a pound. His head circumference (minus the hair) and length are still tracking in the 50-75th percentile, but his weight is now in the 10th percentile. He has yet to clear 16.5 lbs, despite already eating us out of house and home. When J was 9 months old he was over 20lbs. I'll be amazed if Jr. is 18lbs on his first birthday (only 10 weeks away, can you believe it??).

Well, gotta run, Jr. is at my feet pulling on my pants doing That Ugly Thing, which will quickly turn into That Horrendous Earsplitting Yelling if I don't hustle downstairs and fix him a steak or something...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Caption Wednesday: Random Summer Stuff. (Let's face it, I couldn't be "wordless" if my life depended on it.)

Here, little Jr. points out several areas where the babyproofing is severely lacking. For instance, did you know that babies this small can stand up in the tub and grab the faucet handle, like, really fast?

Hi Mommy! There's no way you'll whip these pictures out and show them to our girlfriends when we're 16, right? Right?

Finally! Beginning to see the advantage of having two kids: they play together like this for a few hours every day and I can actually get stuff done around the house. It is kind of sad, though, how Jr. doesn't really have any toys of his own--we've been so lazy about buying him stuff since he's perfectly content playing with his older brother's Hot Wheels and RC vehicles.

"Sigh...est si dur être un bébé parfois. Pourquoi suis-je pense en français? Je ne sais pas, le regard sur mon visage a appelé pour lui."

"Oh, hey there little Jr., I know the camera's on me so I'm pretending to be all nice and stuff and acting like I didn't just PUT MY HANDS ON EITHER SIDE OF YOUR HEAD AND PUSH YOU DOWN TO THE FLOOR like 2 minutes ago because you kept trying to touch my precious Cars Laptop..."

Yeah, yeah, it's unsafe, sparklers can kill people, blah blah blah. You're only young once. And I must admit, J usually acts really nervous/scared about this kind of stuff so I was actually proud on 4th of July when he was the only kid at the BBQ who would hold the sparklers.

Ah, little kids. Don't let this picture fool you. J did not put his face in the water (voluntarily) one single time at the pool but he INSISTED on wearing these goggles the whole time. 4 is my favorite age so far - everything is fascinating!

Seriously you guys, I know he's my kid and I'm biased but the girls are in so much trouble when this one gets older.

"Hellooooo, ladies..."

You know what they say, the higher the hair, the closer to God.

Monday, July 5, 2010

So that's the end of that.

Breastfeeding. We're done with it.

Kind of.

After 9 sometimes-blissful, sometimes-torturous months, I'm throwing in the towel on nursing Jr. It's not that I don't love breastfeeding. I do...except for when I hate it. Ok maybe I don't hate breastfeeding, but I do hate pumping at work, and pumping after work, and pumping on the weekends, and anything having to do with pumping. I hate the act of it, and the constant stress of "not making enough." For whatever reason, first with J and now with Jr., I just don't make alot of milk. It's kind of strange, really, considering my, um, ample assets. I've gotten to the point where I have to pump 3-4 times a day on my work weeks just to make about 50% of what Jr. needs at daycare. I've been supplementing with formula for about 6 weeks, and it's still a huge struggle to eke out enough breastmilk to half-fill two 8oz bottles. And now that Jr. is eating solid foods really well and mobile, not only am I not able to keep up with the milk demand, but now it's a baby rodeo every time we go to nurse with him rolling and turning and upside down and trying to climb over my shoulder. I don't have the stamina or patience this time around to go through all the rigamorole I did with J at this stage to keep him nursing: nursing beads, hiding out in a dark room, laying down, etc.

I do feel a little bit guilty about it. Not because Jr. is all that attached to it, he's never been as much a boobie baby as J was and I think he could take it or leave it. I feel guilty because so far formula has been ALOT harder on Jr.'s body than it was on J the few weeks I supplemented with him. After almost 3 months we finally have the eczema somewhat under control, but if we so much as think about switching formula to a cheaper brand or something different he flares up immediately. On top of that, even with 50% breastmilk bottles he has horrendous constipation on formula. We're talking screaming and crying while he's passing rock-hard, sometimes bloody stool. Thank goodness he likes prunes.

There are some good things about not breastfeeding anymore. It's going to be alot easier and less time-consuming to just send a canister of formula to daycare with empty bottles for her to fill up, with far less washing/sterilizing/freezing on my end. I look forward to my boobs getting to a more normal size and not wearing nursing bras anymore, and being able to work out a little harder. I'm also pretty sure that once I'm done lactating it will be easier for me to lose weight; with J it seemed like my body held onto some extra fat while I was nursing that came off pretty quickly when he was weaned. And it will be nice to actually be able to take a break at work that isn't completely consumed by pumping.

There is some sadness about it, but not as much as I expected. We don't plan to have any more biological children, so I know that this is it for my breastfeeding experience. I will miss some of the little moments, the cuddling in the middle night, the sleepy milky smiles, Jr. bobbing his head on my chest like a little bird and reaching up to rub my cheek in the dark...

Whatever the case, we're not all the way done yet - we're still nursing at bedtime and if he wakes up at night, and first thing in the morning -- but the end is near. After last week I'm not taking the pump to work anymore, and I know from experience with J that once I stop pumping it may only be a matter of days before my milk dries up for good. Oh, well. On to the next thing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My little nerdling.

What I am about to say, I say with absolutely no derogatory intent or malice towards my own kid. It actually makes me kind of happy. Proud, even. Now that J is in school, TH and I have come to the realization that J might be...well...a nerd. Not in the Revenge of the Nerds, Pointdexter, pocket-protector and mouth-breathing sense. More in the "I'm smart and inquisitive and there is absolutely nothing I love more than reading and watching nature shows and going to school and if I'm not going to school, talking about going to school" kind of way.

Like me.

Remember I told you that J is a full-fledged reader now? Well, he has taken it to whole new levels. He goes to bed with books. Long books. And when I say "goes to bed" I don't mean we read a bedtime story and then he goes to sleep, I mean he begs and pleads to keep books in his bed for reading after lights out "if I wake up and I want to read something." He hides books under his pillow and down between the mattress and the wall, and I've caught him crouched by his window at night trying to take advantage of the sun being up until almost 9pm. The best part is that now he's taken to reading Jr. a "baby story" (one of his old board books) at bedtime, which is very cute and brotherly--once they're both in pj's they sit on the floor or in the rocking chair and J reads to him, mimicking all the inflections and voices TH and I used to use when we read J the same stories. I need to get it on video one of these days. We haven't really started chapter books yet but this weekend we're going to the library to see what we can find.

At school, the teacher told us that he is her "reading helper." He kept insisting on taking his own books to school even though they have plenty to read there, to the point where the teacher asked him one day to read the book to the whole class -- which he did. And apparently he does this every day. He sits in front of the class, with the other kids in a circle around him, and reads them a story. This amazes me on so many levels. I'm pretty outgoing now, but when I was a kid I was VERY shy and the thought of getting up and reading a book in front of the class would have been mortifying.

J loves school so much that on my days home with him, his favorite game to play is "School." I have to be the teacher, and he basically leads me through a typical school day: "Now it's time for Outdoor Play! Now we line up (lining up with, well, himself) to come back inside for Art Time. Now we eat a snack and then we have Dramatic Play." (I love the preschool with all their titles for every activity). We even make a lunch in the morning and put his lunchbox in the fridge. AND HE EATS IT. Whenever I have to pay attention to Jr. I tell J that I'm going into "the infant classroom" and while we're playing School J accepts that without argument. I'm telling you, this kid loves school. I asked him the other day what he wants to be when he grows up and he told me that he didn't know, "I just want to go to school all the time." He actually does a little dance when he looks at his calendar and sees that it's a school day. (Side note: J now has a big calendar on his bedroom door, the kind that teachers use on their bulletin boards. I bought it at the dollar store in the teacher supply section, along with little stick-ons for activities, the weather, etc. It's turned out to be so helpful when we're getting things ready the night before, he loves to look at the calendar and see if the next day is school or daycare or home or church, and when he has soccer practice, and what kind of clothes he should pick out. We even put special events on it like "Pizza for dinner" or "Go to the mall to buy shoes." As it turns out, J has another nerd quality like me - a love of organization and lists.)

I know J is not really a "nerd." He also loves to play outside and run and jump and kick things. I get the feeling that once he discovers things like chemistry sets and spelling bees and math competition, though, his true nerd tendencies are going to shine. Oh well, I'm a huge nerd and it's worked for me so far...