Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An interesting conversation, and baby talk answers.

Last week J brought a book home from school that led to a very interesting conversation around our dinner table. The book was about Ronald McNair, one of the astronauts who died in the Challenger tragedy. McNair was African-American, and I became acquainted with his name when I was an undergraduate taking part in a science and math program that was started in his honor. The book J brought home was about McNair as a little boy in the early 1960s, and it recounted a true incident involving his not being allowed to have a library card because of his race.

J could not understand why little Ron was not allowed to have a library card. As we tried to explain the historical context in a way he could grasp, it dawned on us that J doesn't really understand racism because he doesn't really have a concept of race. Which was MIND BLOWING. It's hard to explain. TH and I don't feel like our lives are defined by race, but we certainly consider it a huge part of our identity. We have both experienced first hand both blatant and insidious racism. I'm not sure when I became aware of my race. Meaning, I've understood that I am a black person literally as long as I can remember. I don't remember my parents ever sitting me down and explaining it, or making a huge deal out of it, or focusing on it so much that it became a burden. But I've always identified that way.

J, however, knows that his skin is light brown. He knows that other people have skin that is "pink" or that have "yellow" hair. He has told me that there some of his friends speak Spanish. He has mentioned that his hair is "harder" than his friends. But TH and I realized last week that he's never categorized himself as being a part of a larger group. I'm not even sure if he's noticed that everyone in our family is the same race. Honestly, it brings up mixed emotions for me.

I think our children are going to be the first truly "post-racial" generation. They are the first group of kids exposed to people of all races in the media, in positions of power, and on the playground. They won't think anything of interracial families. They'll have proof in their own memories that the president isn't always a white male. They're post-Obama in a way that we will never be. It's fantastic.

But it also gives me pause. I don't want my children to be defined by their race. But I do want them to identify with it in some ways. I want them to have some knowledge and understanding of what the struggle was before them. When I tried to frame the idea of "minority" for J, I told him how I was the only black person in my entire vet school class. For that matter, I was one of only 2 black people (out of about 500) in my entire vet school for the four years that I went there. I want him to grasp that, in some small way. The fact that doors are wide open for him and his brother that were just ajar a little bit for our generation. I don't want to burden him with it, but I don't want him to ignore it, either. I cringe when I hear people trying to sound post-racial say, "I don't even see skin color." I find that so ridiculous. I want you to see my skin color. It's beautiful. It has a history. It's not better than anyone else's, and don't judge me because of it...but definitely see it.

So I'm glad J read this book. I'm glad that he thought about the story and proclaimed that it was unfair, and that anyone should be able to get a library card so they can read.

I'm glad that he looked at my hand next to his and said, "Your skin is the same color as mine."


* * *


Baby Talk answers (Maria, you're good!)


1. "Nonnie" = Manny. (How he refers to himself.)

2. "Coodie" = Car. I cannot explain this one.

3. "Pin-pin" = Cushion. We play a game J calls "Cushions" where we pull the cushions off the couch and the boys jump on them. After much crying one day we finally figured out why he was pointing at the couch asking to play pin-pin.

4. "Fuffins" = muffins.

5. "Kennies" = candy. Thanks, Halloween.

6. "Teen tine" = screen time. This refers to computer time only, TV is just...TV."

7. "Note neal" = oatmeal.

8. "Spa-doh"= spider. Again, thanks to Halloween decorations and his evil older brother for introducing him to that concept.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baby talk

*Disclaimer: This is a shameless rip-off of something LauraC did a few years ago when her boys were toddlers.

Over the past year, one of our biggest concerns (our only concern really) about Jr. has been his language skills. Or lack thereof, I guess. He has always made alot of noise, babbling and yelling and mimicking sounds. But it's only been recently, right around when he turned two, that he has said words we can actually understand. Mommy. Daddy. J. Kitty and doggy. Shoes, hat, socks. Juice, milk, water, cheese, pancakes, food, EAT! Outside, slide, plane, sky.

There are, however, many words that he says on a regular basis that have taken much gesturing and frustration for us to decipher. Words I actually wrote down for the babysitter so she wouldn't spend the whole day having no clue what he wants. So here's a little game: can you figure out what these words mean? Some of them are seriously random but he says all of these almost every day. I've put some context in parenthese to be helpful :)

1. "Nonnie" (That's Nonnie!)

2. "Coodie" (We play coodie?)

3. "Pin-pins" (We play pin-pins?)

4. "Fuffins" (Have fuffins, please?)

5. "Kennies" (I have kennies?)

6. "Teen tine" (Want teen tine.)

7. "Note-neal" (Note-neal please?)

8. "Spa-doh" (Noooo! Spa-doh!!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's always funny later...

It seems like all of the really random, stupid, ridiculous adventures happen when the kids are with me. I don't know why. Locked out of the house, car battery dies while we're at Sonic happy hour in 90 degree weather, drive halfway to the store with the diaper bag on top of the car, get all the way through the line at Walmart (and we all know the line is the worst effing part at Walmart) and discover I left my wallet at home. Etc etc and so on and so forth.

So yesterday, like everyday, Jr. and I went to pick J up from school. The school doesn't really have an efficient pick-up/drop-off routine, especially for the kindergarteners who must actually be picked up by someone over age 10 and the teacher has to visually see that person before letting them out of the line. The kindergarten classes let out around the side of the building instead of the front, and I guess there's no buses for kindergarten. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it...I've never seen a school bus at this school. Huh. I guess it's a true neighborhood school, everyone in walking distance? So anyway, although it's nice for safety, having to actually get out of the car and make visual contact with the teacher at pick-up means we have to park somewhere and get out and walk to the classroom. Because of this system, parking becomes a premium when school lets out at 3:15. If you're not there to score a space in front of the school by 3:05, you're looking at parking in the neighborhood, sometimes 2-3 blocks away. If you're like me, with a younger sibling in tow, that means pushing a stroller or trudging through inclement weather with a 2 year old. Not fun.

(There is a point to this). Yesterday, even though I didn't get to the school until around 3:10, I happened upon a car pulling away from the curb really close to the crosswalk out front right as I came by. Score! I parallelled, picked up J, talked to the teacher for a few minutes, and started loading the kids into the car. J got in, buckled up, no problem. I went to put Jr. in the his car seat, which is on the passenger side by the curb, and he decided to pull the old "you'll have to fold me in half like origami to get me into the carseat" routine. In the process, he kicked and knocked my car keys out of my hand. I looked down at the floor -- no keys. I looked out at the ground, expecting the keys to be in the gutter next to the car. And that's when I saw the keys sliding down into the storm drain we were parked next to. Not a regular gutter. A storm drain. MY KEYS WENT INTO THE STORM DRAIN. Meaning I couldn't start the car. Or drive home. Or get into the house if we decided to walk home.

It was a classic "That did NOT just happen" moment. I finished strapping Jr. into the car, ignoring J repeating incessantly "What happened? What just happened? Why are you looking at the ground like that? What are you looking at? What happened?" I tried to kneel down in the space between the car and the gutter (I mean storm drain) and realized this was a very deep storm drain. As in, I couldn't see the bottom, but I could see rungs of a ladder going down the side from under a manhole. Crap.

Hey wait, manhole! If there's a manhole, then maybe...who do you call in this situation? Who can open a manhole? The manhole had "City of Aurora" stamped on it, and luckily it was the keys and not the smart phone that fell into the storm drain. Thanks to Google, three phone call transfers later I was in touch with the Aurora Storm Drain Office (who knew?), and they said they'd send someone out to help me when they could. 45 minutes later -- 45 loooong minutes of trying to occupy the kids in the car with no radio, no heat, no buttons to push and too cold outside to take them onto the school playground while we waited -- a very nice man named Ralph showed up. He popped the manhole cover, climbed down into the storm drain, and immediately found the keys amongst the leaves and debris at the bottom, telling me, "You're very lucky there wasn't any water flowing down there today ma'am, otherwise your keys would have been on their way to the reservoir."

In less than 5 minutes my keys were back in hand, and when I asked him how much I'd be charged for this little escapade, he told me the only payment he needed was the look of relief on my face when he came up with those keys. Chivalry isn't dead, after all. I most certainly will be singing Ralph's praises to his boss tomorrow.

When we got home I pretty much knocked the kids over to get to their Halloween buckets. If ever there was a need for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at the end of the day...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just like I remembered

You know how when you're growing up, you have certain memories of how a certain place is or the way certain things happen? I've always told people two things about the Colorado weather:


1) It never snows on Christmas. It always snows around Halloween.
2) There is no predicting it. It could be 80 degrees one day, 20 degrees the next.


These 2 facts are pretty irrefutable amongst Colorado natives. The last week has once again borne this out.


Pictures taken on Monday 10/24. Temperature: 79 degrees



Note the shorts & t-shirt on J. Also note how he still looks like a lollipop from a distance, all big round head and stick legs.



Picture taken on Wednesday 10/26. Temperature: 32 degrees


Expected temperature this weekend: 61 degrees.


O Colorado, I missed you :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deep thoughts...

There's so much going on these days. Alot to wrap my mind around, not enough hours in the day, etc etc. I've been starting and stopping multiple blog posts over the past few weeks, and I can't seem to form a coherent thought. At least one that's more than half a paragraph. I have been pondering alot of things, though:



  • Where can I find jeans that fit? Not jeans in my size, but jeans that fit? It's ridiculous looking for jeans when you're "curvy." I'm in the "plus" category but I have a true hourglass figure; my waist is 10 inches smaller than my hips. But every pair of jeans I get at the curvy-girl store seems to be built for someone shaped like a cylinder. Thus I get the dreaded gap in the waistband in back and unintentional plumber butt when I bend down.



  • When we go to pick up J from school, why does Jr. always wait until we're in the crosswalk on the way back to the car to throw a random fit? He waits until I've got a kid in each hand and backpack/lunch box/jacket/hat to keep track of, and as soon as we're at the exact halfway point with the crossing guard holding up a line of cars he will invariably fall to the ground and start flopping like a fish. If I'm wearing crappy jeans so my crack can show while I try to wrestle him the rest of the way, even better.



  • Am I lame because I really love the song "Party Rock Anthem?" I want to hate it, but I heart it so bad. I cannot not groove to that song in the car. The kids are hooked, too. "STOP - hatin' is bad." Yes!! My motto.



  • I don't like corn mazes. They sound like so much fun on paper. We went to a gigantic one last weekend, and I succeeded in convincing J that it was the best thing since sliced bread but.....no. I wanted to run up out of there within about 5 minutes. It is just too creepy. Hasn't anyone seen "Jeepers Creepers"???



  • After almost 3 months, it finally occurred to me that one reason why I might be feeling so out of shape on my runs is the altitude. Even though we were gone for 7 years, I guess since I was born and raised in Denver I thought I was somehow genetically unable to suffer altitude sickness. I was wrong. It really is different in the thin air.



  • And finally....I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy. The third book....WTF???? Was that not the strangest? It was like there was a completel different author. Seriously, I'm done with these YA series and going back to grown-up books. This is why I need a book club...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two.



Two years with you
flown by like time always does
you're much muchier, even more than last year
so many new things
over a hundred words
we waited and worried and waited for those words and then suddenly
the floodgates opened and you haven't stopped talking
10 numbers and 26 letters, usually in the right order
colors, vehicles, places, things, animals
speaking of animals
thanks to you everyone calls Yoda the cat "Dodo-cat"
(I don't think he appreciates that much)


so many other things happened this year
4 molars
several haircuts, all pretty much against your will
one little increase in clothing size and a whole 2lbs gained
still a little guy but yet the most active person in the house
jumping climbing sliding pushing tumbling
a spill down the stairs, then another, "childproof" gates be damned
paints and crayons and markers and puzzles and tearing up paper
everything (everything!) is fun, but
for you nothing compares to music, our musiqsoulchild
playing on the piano and drums and guitar
always singing
and dancing
and dancing
and dancing, it's like Flashdance up in here you never stop dancing
recognizing the lyrics to songs on the radio
you now have favorite songs with your big brother
your idol, your mate, your favorite person on earth
(except for Mommy, but I know that won't last much longer)
let's not forget tantrums and getting mad and saying "No!" and "mine!"
and laughing while you put things together and take
many many many things apart (so many things)
and recognizing words in your books
you love the books just like J
now you have your own favorite TV shows
Bubble Guppies, Scooby Doo, Diego, Sesame Street

it's been a crazy year, you and J are
seasoned travelers, planes, trains, and automobiles
so many road trips this year
not to mention the big move to Colorado
but still in the same crib
still a snuggler in the morning
still a rocking chair at bedtime
still the occasional warm milk bottle (it's our secret)
still about 7.87394% a baby
that percentage is shrinking
and now you're becoming the most spirited
most awesome
most fun
most ALIVE
little boy.

You're still my heart.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Manny!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well, it made me feel better.

For the most part, we're loving 5. It's an adventure every day. J says the funniest things, makes up the most imaginative stories, is so enthusastic about life and everything in general.

And yet.

He's also had some of the biggest meltdowns and tantrums of his ENTIRE LIFE. Epic. Monster. Effing ridiculous. Over some really silly things.

And the sass and smart mouth and occasional forays into disrespect? Don't even get me started. It's a battle of wills over here and I'm not always the one winning.

As he approaches 2, Jr. has also started in with the epic, monster, effing ridiculous tantrums. Although I expected it from him.

So my aunt has been coming over to help us care for Jr. while we figure out a new daycare situation. She just became an empty-nester as her youngest of 3 kids started college last month. We were chatting the other night about the boys and how things are going with school, the move, the daycare drama, etc. I was telling her how challenging both kids have been sometimes lately, and she said, "Well, with all three of my kids, 2 and 5 was the worst."

I was really surprised by this. No one told me that 5 was one of Those Ages. 2 and 3, I knew would be bad. 5 has honestly snuck up on me. But fear not, fellow parents of 5 year olds. According to my aunt, after 5, it's smooth sailing.

Until 13. But she didn't want to talk about that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Random musings after volunteering in the kindergarten classroom

On Back to School Night I signed up to be a classroom volunteer in J's kindergarten class. Since I'm home during the day I figured this would be a good way to get involved. (I did not, however, consider how unbelievably dumb I was to sign up to be a class mom on days after I work. Get off at 8am, go to sleep by 8:30, wake up 3.5 HOURS LATER to get to the class by 12:30pm. Like I said, dumb.)

Wednesday was my first afternoon in the class. It was very eye-opening, a little sociology study right in front of me. I know these are generalizations and even stereotypes but I made a few interesting observations:


  • Boys are waaaaay more fidgety than girls. Something I suspected but only having boys I wasn't sure. My mother has told me this many times after visiting with my kids, that my sisters and I did not jump/run/move around as much as my kids. It was interesting to watch all the kids sitting on a circular rug together in the middle of the room, you could really see how the girls were sitting "criss-cross applesauce" as instructed, talking and giggling but not moving around much; while the boys wiggled, rolled around, pushed/poked each other, kept getting up & down, etc. It was distracting. J was no better than the rest, at one point he must have forgotten I was there because he started crawling around under the chairs.

  • Girls have waaaaay better handwriting than boys. Across the board. Again I suspected this but as we worked on writing exercises it was astounding just how much better the girls' letters/words were. Straight lines. Even spacing. Cute little curlicues or "tails" on some letters. The boys handwriting was.....yeah. Illegible? Chicken scratch? What's the PC word here? Not being an educator of small children, I don't know if it's the difference in motor school development, a difference in attention span (see above), or some Y-chromosome thing I wasn't aware of. Either way, it was noticeable.

  • Boys cry just as much as girls. Maybe more. Actually I think I saved this little factoid to share with my husband more than anyone else. For future arguments.

  • When allowed to pick their own "center" activity, the kids drifted into gender-specific play seemingly subconsciously. All of the girls, ALL of them, headed toward the play house/kitchen/babies area. None of them opted to use the adding magnets, geometric puzzles, or cars. Most of the boys immediately chose cars or airplanes or other vehicles to play with. A few (including J) went for the science/math type stuff. But none of the girls. That made me a little sad.

  • Girls have way more fashion and clothes choices than boys. I didn't realize how much I've been missing out on with 2 sons. Glitter/sparkles. Skirts. Skorts. Dresses. Leggings under skirts/skorts/dresses. Costume jewelry. Bows and headbands and barettes. Braids. Mary Janes. Floral print, lace, and ruffles. Pink and purple in general. Rainbow stripes and heart motifs.

  • Well, on second thought...I'm glad to be missing out on pink and purple.

Other random thoughts on my Volunteer Day:



  • The teacher is a ROCK STAR. There are too many kids. A few of them have learning/developmental disabilities but are mainstreaming (which I really like). Some of them cry alot. Some (like my little shnookums) are, uh, very active. Some are just...the opposite of well-behaved. Some (J) can read the newspaper while others have obviously and sadly never been exposed to reading/writing of any kind until now. And she handles them all beautifully, with that perfect kindergarten teacher authoritative-but-still-really-nice voice. "We don't do that." "Let's work on sharing and being polite." "My para-professional will now take over while I sip a vodka & Red Bull in the closet." (JUST KIDDING. Maybe.)

  • While I was there they had a special Spirit Day or something where the kids from the local high school came over in their school colors, with the marching band and cheerleaders and football players in jerseys (maybe it was homecoming?), and the little kids stood outside while they had a kind of mini parade. It was weird, disconcerting. The high school kids looked huge yet impossibly young, and it suddenly didn't seem that far away for J and Jr. I had that sense that the next 12 years are going to FLY by. I wished kindergarten could last forever.

  • Another teacher stopped by with a birthday gift for J's teacher, whose birthday was the Sunday before. As in, September 11. Unthinkingly, I was all, "Your birthday is on 9/11? That must be weird." She just looked at me. I lost my gold star for that day.

  • So far, this school district and school have been impressive. I don't know if we could have done better with private school or a charter. J is doing well. He likes his teacher and she's been able to give him what he needs academically. The building is not new but the classrooms are beautiful and they seem to have decent resources. The class is very diverse without trying to be very diverse. The school feels safe and happy and modern in its thinking but traditional enough that it's not really that different from when I was in kindergarten 30 years ago. Which is a good thing. J has friends. He's happy.

  • I am 100% most definitely in the right profession, dealing with wild animals all day instead of wild children. One word: leashes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The unintentional joke

J finds ways to make me laugh on a regular basis. Unintentionally.

From yesterday:

Me: So what do you guys do at recess?

J: We play the chase game!

Me: What's the chase game?

J: The girls chase all the boys and we have to run from them.

Me: Why don't the boys chase the girls?

J: (rolling eyes) BECAUSE WE DON'T LIKE THE GIRLS. I told you that before!

Me: Do the girls catch you?

J: No my new shoes make me run really fast. Like a thousand miles. Some boys get caught though.

Me: What happens when you get caught?

J: If the girls catch you, then you're their prisoner and you have to play for the other team.

Me: (snickering) You have to play for the other team?

J: Yes! And I don't want to get caught, because Mommy, I don't want to play for the other team.

Me: That's good to know, sweetie.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the night shift...

Working the night shift is turning out to be...interesting. The hours in some ways are fantastic, and in other ways the hours are really hard. A typical shift for me is 8pm to 8am, 3 to 4 nights a week. It doesn't seem like it could work with small children, but it actually affords me more quality time with them than I've ever had before. On the plus side:


  • I don't have to leave the house until a little after 7pm and I don't leave work until after 8am, so I completely avoid rush hour traffic. The clinic is actually across town, much further away than TH's job downtown, but his commute takes almost twice as much time as mine due to traffic.

  • Because I don't have to leave the house until a little after 7pm, so I can spend a good amount of time with the family before heading out. We're able to eat dinner together almost every day, and I can even help TH get the bedtime routine started before I leave. Sadly when I worked the regular day shift there were many (way too many) nights where I came home after the kids were already in bed.

  • I can pick J up from school every day at 3:15, and 3 days a week I'm also the one dropping him off. This is huge. For the kids it's almost like I'm a stay at home mom, the majority of my time away from them is while they're sleeping. I can even make it to after school activities or soccer practice and still not be late to work. I might even be a classroom volunteer this year if I can find a way to squeeze it in.

  • I get 3 days a week of one-on-one time with Jr. while J is at school. When we were in Vegas, he went to daycare 4-5 days a week, all day. Now he only has to go twice a week on the days when I need to sleep after a shift, and he's picked up by 4pm at the latest.

  • My schedule is split up, so I don't have more than 2 consecutive nights on duty. Actually the schedule is self is pretty darn good, 3 nights one week, 4 weeks the next. I really can't complain.

It's not all sunshine and roses, though. There are some negatives, which I'm trying to get used to.



  • Although the schedule is great for the kids and for the family overall, it's not so great to spend 3-4 nights a week away from TH. It's downright weird.

  • On the weekdays when I work, TH typically doesn't get home from his hellish commute until around 6:15, and I'm out the door at 7ish. Then we don't see each other again until the next evening. The 45 minutes or so that we're "together" is mostly spent in a rush of eating dinner and handing off the kids. It feels like a shift change....which I guess it kind of is.

  • The night shift at a small veterinary ER is very...lonely. There's one doctor (me) and one technician. That's it, all night. When it's busy, it doesn't matter. When it's slow, it's just me and the tech, who I don't know very well, hanging out reading and killing time. I wish I could call my sisters or friends, but being the middle of the night, they're all sleeping of course.

  • The schedule overall is kind of lonely. I'm going to work when everyone else is coming home or going out to have fun. When I'm on my way home, everyone else is headed off to work. The 2 days a week when TH takes the kids to school/daycare before I get off of work, I come home to an empty house. Don't get me wrong, it's kind of peaceful and I need to sleep, but I do miss having someone there to run up to me and give me a big hug, or to talk to about my day. These "vampire hours" are still strange to me.

  • Because I always have at least one weekend shift, I feel like my social life is suffering. I'm either at work or trying to sleep. When I have weekend nights off, I want to spend that time with TH, leaving precious little time for me to hang out with my sisters or other people.

I think we're getting used to it. The job itself is proving to be very challenging, which is a good thing. I definitely don't feel burned out anymore - my doctor muscles are being flexed every night and some of the work is exhilarating. Working on emergency is its own strange environment, you see all the extremes. People are either really grateful for your help, or irate and cursing you out because you can't work miracles or they don't have the finances to take care of their seriously ill pet. There's lot of blood and guts and running around and doing CPR and surgery at 2am. But then there's also long stretches of dead time where the only break in the monotony of waiting for a case is a random drunk guy banging on the front door wanting to use the bathroom. The night shift has its own subculture with drunk or stoned people, local cops who stop by regularly to chat and make sure we're ok, and strange late-night radio shows that I was never aware of before. Even the cases have a night-time quality to the them - I can't tell you how many animals I've seen in just 2 weeks that have somehow ingested their owner's recreational drugs. I see alot more death at night than I ever did as a day vet, because the animals are so sick/injured or sadly because of money. I'm becoming hardened to it and more stressed by it at the same time.


It's different. It's better in many ways, but it's a new dynamic. So far...I think I like it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Ides of August

August 2006




August 2011


He's not a baby anymore. But he'll always be my baby.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm baaaaack....

Well. I'm not even going to try to go into any type of detail about the last 8 weeks. In a nutshell:

At the end of June, TH got a job offer that was too good to refuse...in Denver. They wanted him to start working 5 weeks later, on August 1. In Denver.

So we packed up our stuff, quit our respective jobs, used up some (ahem, maybe more than some) of our savings, and moved back to Colorado.

FINALLY.

So much happened in July, you guys. A crazy epic drunken nightclub adventure in Vegas the likes of which we somehow never had in seven years of living there.

Awesome.

Wanting to kill each other during the moving process and threatening each other with divorce.

Not as awesome.

Getting our Vegas house ready for rental and then saying a prayer and driving away from our little home. Renting it out within 2 days of listing. *fist pump*

Preparing the kids for The Big Move and then when The Big Day came realizing that in the flurry of activity I kind of forgot that The Big Move was also a Road Trip With Kids. TH drove the moving van towing one of our cars, and I drove the other family car with the kids and the cats and some of our stuff. Thank GOD my sister took pity on me and flew out to help me with the drive. Let's just say I didn't really prepare for the road trip the way I usually do. There was an emergency "I forgot to pack enough wipes" stop. Then another stop to pick up RedBox DVD's because I brought the portable DVD player but no discs. And let's not forget the "one of the cats peed in the carrier and now the car smells horrid" stop. But we made it.

Then we had all the unpacking, and figuring out our new neighborhood, and all the EXTREME deja vu being back in the Mile High City. TH and I spent part of one afternoon just driving around to our old haunts (we're high school sweethearts) and reminiscing. Our high school. The houses we grew up in. Places where we went on dates. This is the strangest part about being back in Denver. We've never been "grown-ups" here. Vegas is where we really grew up in a sense - it's the only place I've ever practiced medicine, the place where we became parents, where we bought our first house, where I became a sorta kinda runner, where we spent 7 of our 9 married years. We left behind alot of good friends and great memories in Sin City. We never grew to love Las Vegas and never felt comfortable raising the kids there, but it would be a lie to say it wasn't bittersweet saying goodbye to the life we'd built there.

However...

We are so happy to be back in Colorado. The quality of life here is unbelievably better for our family. We've been here for 3 weeks and already we've taken the kids hiking, visited the mountains, spent time with the cousins, and squeezed in a date night with my sister watching the kids -- the FIRST TIME since we became parents that we've had a free babysitter! Craziness. I've gone running several times. We've gotten J registered for school. The kids have discovered the joy of running through a grass yard in the summer as opposed to the rocky desert landscaping they were accustomed to. While I was unemployed I spent so much precious time with my kids. This has been one of the best summers ever, despite all the stress and the fact that we're kinda broke.

So.

Right now, it's almost midnight, and I'm up writing this blog post because I'm at my new job. I am now officially an Emergency Vet, which is kind of a big change. I'm loving it so far. The hours are weirdly compatible with my desire to spend more time with my husband and kids. The medicine is pretty cool. The bosses are great so far. After almost a year of feeling adrift in my career after being laid off, I finally feel like I might be where I belong.

And now....I can exhale.

Monday, June 20, 2011

At least I know I'm wanted.

One of the best things about having 2 kids is watching them develop a relationship with each other. As Jr. has gotten older, I've really enjoyed seeing him and J turn into true brothers. They play together, making up games (well, J does the making up while Jr. just follows whatever he's doing), running around the house and hiding and jumping and playing under blankets and sitting together watching TV. Jr. mimics J's every move, skipping over the babyish stacking rings and blocks in favor of playing Hot Wheels and Transformers with J. They sit together in the sandbox, building roads and mountains for their construction trucks, an activity that invariable ends with J running inside to tattle on Jr. for eating sand. He's a good big brother that way. They lay in J's bed together "reading" books, an activity that invariably ends with Jr. getting bored and starting to jump on the bed, making J laugh while he tries to keep reading. He's a good little brother that way.

Like all siblings, they also have plenty of things to fight about. Not a day goes by without pushing and shoving and tug of wars and tears about who gets to do what. Jr. has learned to stand up for himself, holding on when J attempts to just snatch a toy away, pushing back when J pushes him down, running away when he feels like J is getting too close to whatever he has. It used to be that if the baby was crying, we could assume that J had done something mean to him. Now, if there are tears it could just as easily be Jr. who's the culprit in the fight as much as his older brother. I'm always playing referee, keeping up a constant litany :
"Don't take that from him."
"Give it back to him, he had it first."
"If I see you push him again you're going upstairs in your room UNTIL TOMORROW!"
"Do not put your hands or feet on your brother!"
"Why is he crying? What did you do?"
"Stop all that crying, he didn't do anything to you."
"You weren't even thinking about that book/toy/food/pet until you saw him with it."
"Would it kill you to share with him ONE TIME??"
And at some point, "I've just about had it with you two, everyone's about to be sitting in a corner."

But you know what they love to fight about the most? The one thing that causes more tears and pushing and shoving and pouting and whining than anything else?

Me.

J is usually pretty accomodating to his little brother, but if he sees me carrying Jr., or singing to him, or playing a game with him, or making funny faces, he'll literally elbow his way in between us, shouting, "Do that with me, too, Mommy! Do that with me!" and if I don't move fast enough it's only a matter of seconds before he's pouting, telling me "You never sing to me!" If I'm swinging Jr. around by his arms, as soon as I put him down J will jump onto me or pull on my arms and try to swing himself, looking hurt if I tell him that he's too big for that game. The silliest things are causes for jealousy - if I wrap Jr.'s blanket around his head like a head scarf and tell him he's "my little gypsy baby" here comes J with a random towel or blanket, begging me to make him a gypsy blanket hat, too.

Jr. is just as bad. If I'm sitting on the couch with J's head in my lap while we watch TV, Jr. will climb over his brother and push his head away so that he can have my lap. If I'm holding Jr. and J comes up for a hug, Jr. kicks at J and shouts "NO!!". He's been known to push his way in between me and J, or pull on J's waist or legs if he's too close to me. I can't lay in the bed with both of them because inevitably a fight will break out over who's laying closest to me, and if I try to split the difference and lay in the middle someone always snakes their arm or leg over me to aggravate the other. When we go to restaurants, I have to listen to endless whining from J about sitting on the same side of the booth as me. There have been times when I've had to untangle myself from the two of them as they literally clutch at me, inadvertently (or maybe purposely?) pulling my hair or wrenching my arm or straining my neck.

The funny thing is, I know they won't really grow out of this. There will always be jockeying for Mommy's attention. My sisters and I are all in our 30's and we still have moments of friction when we're all in town together with my mom and we have to ration out who she spends time with. If she spends the night at my sister's house, she has to promise to spend the next afternoon with my kids. If she goes to dinner with my younger sister, my twin sister and I are guaranteed to be secretly mad if she doesn't have breakfast or lunch with us. Shameful, but true.

Some days, I really hate feeling pulled in every direction, and I want to run away from the neediness. Other days, well...at least I know somebody wants me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A little help here.

I need a little help.

Ok. Let's be honest. I need ALOT of help.

Getting organized, getting rid of clutter, streamlining things, keeping track of stuff, ending our packrat ways...however you want to phrase it, that's what we need. Ok we're not really "packrats" in the strongest sense of the word, but some days it feels that way. Papers, papers everywhere. Clothes always living in the laundry basket. Kids' toys that somehow work themselves out of the toy boxes and into every nook and cranny of my house -- as I'm typing this I can look around and see a Hot Wheels car on the kitchen table, 2 DVD cases (likely without the DVD's inside of them if I know J) on the floor next to the TV cabinet, various Mega Blocks peeking out from under the couch, a large bouncing ball that's supposed to stay in the yard chillaxin' inside next to the patio doors, broken sidewalk chalks also right inside the patio door, some kind of Fisher Price junk (I know it's FP by the distinctive yellow/purple/blue color scheme) peeking out from under the couch, refrigerator letter magnets in the corner of the bathroom, random preschool artwork on the counters....

I know the problem areas, and I try to stay on top of them, but I feel like this is a real losing battle. For about 6 months last year we had a cleaning service come in every other week, mostly to deal with the floors (curse you, wall-to-wall ceramic tile!!) and the bathrooms. It was HEAVEN. But then...well, then I lost my job so we had to do away with that. It doesn't help that TH has a *teeny tiny* hoarder-type personality and is loathe to throw things away.

Here's where I need your help. How do I get organized? What do you guys do with all the papers, the toys, the clothes, the clutter? How do people have neat, tidy, organized houses when they work full time and have 2 small yet very active children? Are you just cleaning/organizing ALL THE TIME? Please tell me that's not the secret.

Here's the rundown of my most problematic problems:


  • No family room or separate living/formal area. This was the #1 mistake we made when we bought this house, buying into the whole "open floor plan" schtick. Never again. I hate hate hate that when you come in the front door you can look straight through into the kitchen and see if there are dirty dishes in the sink. Or toys everywhere. I would love to keep all of the kid stuff sequestered upstairs in their rooms, but that's just not realistic. Maybe when they're both old enough to play unsupervised, but for now Jr. at least has to be where I am - if I'm downstairs making dinner or on the computer or, well, cleaning, he has to be down here with me and thus we can't keep the toys out of the "formal" living space. We've got a couple of bookshelves with baskets and 2 storage ottomans, yet things seem to be overflowing all the time.

  • The papers. Oy, the papers. There's 2 factors here. TH and I have been witness to a really horrifying case of identity theft in my immediate family involving someone lifting personal information from a discarded credit card statement. So now, I'll admit it, we're a little paranoid about what goes into the trash/recycling. Therefore there's always a stack of stuff "to go through" and a box of stuff waiting to be shredded. Always. We never seem to get to the bottom of that box! The other factor is that we try to recycle anything that's recyclable, so there's also always stuff needing to go into recycling, which is nice and green and everything but when I look at bundled up boxes and papers and plastic bottles by the door it just feels like a pile of trash to me and I hate looking at it.

  • Toys. Short of going on a Throwing Things Out rampage, I really need a better way to keep these toys from overtaking our house. And I'm not talking about big bulky toys - it's those godforsaken little pieces that seem to be everywhere. There's only so many "storage solution" bins and containers and baskets you can have in a room before the boxes themselves start to look like clutter.

I really do need help. I'm embarassed to have people come to my house - I know it's not really that bad, but before I got married and had kids I was used to a much neater house. I know I shouldn't spend so much time worrying about a messy house but I'm one of those people who actually gets physically stressed when I feel like I'm surrounded by clutter and disorganization, and then when I don't have the time to really get it all done (or to get it done to my liking) I just get more stressed out.


Heeeeelllllllp meeeeeee......

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5. So big...yet still so little.

Driving to Denver last week for our yearly family vacation, we decided to leave Vegas at night, right after I got off of work. The plan was to drive the seven hours to Grand Junction (right across the Colorado state line), stop for the night, then push through the last 4 hours to Denver in the morning. Jr. cooperated with our little plan, pretty much sleeping the entire way. J declared that he wasn't going to sleep, that he was going to stay up and "drive with you guys," as if he was going to take a turn at the wheel at some point. Right before the trip we bought portable DVD players to hypnotize the kids for the trip, and stocked up on Scooby Doo DVD's. Scooby Doo is J's latest obsession. He has now seen just about every episode of old and new (and newer) Scooby Doo, from the cheesy 70's episodes with "guest stars" like Tim Conway to the more recent iterations that have plotlines about viral bad guys in the internet.

Anyhoo, J set himself up in the back seat with a stack of DVDs, juice boxes, raisins, several books, his blanket, and his pillow pet. Before setting out we'd decided to convert J's booster seat to backless since he's 5 now and getting taller by the minute. But when he got in the car, he kept fidgeting, pulling on the seat belt, leaning forward, whining about being uncomfortable. Finally he tapped me on the shoulder.

"I don't like this seat," he said.

"But it's a big kid seat now, remember?" said TH.

"I just...I don't think this is very safe, Mommy." And he looked genuinely worried. So we put the seat back together. Not ready for the big boy seat yet, I guess.

As we made our way through the mountains, J was alternately awed by the experience of driving at night and scared by it. "I can see constellations! And planets!" he exclaimed at one point. "This is really scary and spooky," he said later. "I hope we don't ever have to stop our car out here."

Around 10pm, I glanced back and could see that J was pretty much zombified by the latest Scooby Doo adventure, his eyes glazed over and his head listing off to the side. Normally he's in bed by 8pm, but we'd decided to let him set his own schedule in the car. Why not? He's a big kid now. But realizing that he wouldn't stop watching unless we made him, I told him that it was time to turn off Scooby Doo. His face crumpled.

"But I'm staying up late with you guys!" he whined. "I'm NOT TIRED!!"

I reached back and flicked the DVD off, expecting him to start crying or throwing some kind of overtired fit. Instead he leaned over onto his pillow pet, and was dead asleep about 15 seconds later.

****

While we were in Denver, we treated J and his cousins to an afternoon showing of Kung Fu Panda 2. J has only been to the movie theater twice before, and both times I don't think he was quite ready for the big show. He whined, cried, covered his ears, fidgeted, tried to walk up and down the aisles, etc. But this time we were with his older cousins, who he is always desperate to fit in with. He was so excited by everything -- the entertainment complex with a fountain and yogurt shop and arcade, the little kid's meal boxes of popcorn and Icees, the sharing of Red Vines (which he's never had before. We don't keep candy in the house.) Prior to the trip he'd used part of his allowance to buy Superman sunglasses, which he insisted on wearing through much of the movie even though we kept telling him it wasn't 3D.

"Everything looks so different with my glasses," he said breathlessly. "It's all blue and yellow and everything."

About 45 minutes into the movie, he said, very loudly, "I think this should be the end of this movie!" and covered his ears. Then he almost folded himself up in the seat and after that refused to sit down. "Can we leave, please??" he whispered. Finally my mom had the idea to let him sit on the steps next to our row, where he calmed down until the end of the movie.

After the movie, his 11 year old cousin X had to go to the bathroom. "Take J with you," my mom told him. J and I both paused. He's never gone into a public bathroom without me or TH before. When we're out together, like most little boys he's used to going into the women's restroom. I could tell the thought of going into the bathroom "by himself" was making him nervous, but I knew there was no real reason why he couldn't go in with X watching over him. He is 5 now, after all. X went in, and J stood halfway in the door, looking back at me and then looking into the bathroom. "Come with me, Mommy," he pleaded. Finally he went in, and I stood right next to the door, listening for any indication of problems. At one point I must have been almost in the door because a man behind me cleared his throat as I was obviously in his way. Finally X and J came out, J literally skipping. "I used the bathroom!" he shouted, making sure everyone in a 10 foot vicinity could hear him. We started for the doors.

Suddenly J skidded to a stop. "Oh, no!" he cried. "I left my sunglasses in there!" We looked around for X, but he was engrossed in the arcade.

"You're going to have to go back for them by yourself," I told him. "I can't go in the men's bathroom."

"I can't!!" J said. He was genuinely nervous. When we got to the door, he again begged me to go in with him. Finally he ran into the door, and less than 30 seconds ran back out, breathing hard with his face flushed, like he'd just run through an obstacle course. "Next time we have to go in your bathroom," he told me, and then took my hand, something he usually fights me on these days.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Playlist

This morning when I was out at 5:30am trying to get back on the running wagon after a very, um, sporadic running month (6 workouts total in one month), a new song that I just downloaded came on. I hadn't run to this one before -- "Pricetag" by Jessie J, a fairly new artist in America; apparently she's a big star in the UK. Anyway, I loved running to this song. So I repeated it. 4 times. When I finally went to the next song, over a mile had gone by. As usual, one of the keys to refreshing my running routine: NEW MUSIC.

I don't know how people run without music. I have tried to be cool and just hit the road without a soundtrack, and I can't do it. I need something to set my pace, something to give me that internal metronome. I guess if and when I become a more seasoned runner I'll be able to do this without music playing, but where's the fun in that? Mine is a very musical family, every activity requires music--"Cleaning Day" on Saturday ALWAYS means Earth Wind & Fire or Michael Jackson or Outkast playing in the background. I'm always in search of "perfect" running songs to add to my playlist - those songs with the exact right beats per minute, not so fast that I feel like I need to sprint in order to keep up, not so slow that I have to speed-walk instead of run. The genre isn't so important, although I tend to lean towards hip-hop, old school R&B, and rock.

I thought I'd share my recent faves, the songs that actually pump me up when I'm running, either because of the beat or the lyrics (it's cheesy, but during T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" it actually motivates me when he says "want that body, need that body." Of course I think he's talking about something other than losing weight.) My actual running playlist is about 30 songs, some of them selected for when I have to slow down and walk (big hills), and I haven't included those, just the songs that get me hyped. I have to warn you, some of the songs are a little profane ("Tangerine," very profane but an AWESOME beat). Remember, the point is to just keep running!






Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones



So what songs get YOU going? I'd really love to add to my playlist. I used playlist.com to make the list and share it, if anyone's interested in making their own playlist I'll be checking it out...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Five.

Dear J,


I don't know why, but 5 feels like a pretty big number. Sure, it's small in the grand scheme of things, but there's just something about the phrase "5 year old" that feels like a huge milestone to me. You're 5. I've been a mom for 5 years. The best, most blessed 5 years of my life. Also the fastest, most bittersweet 5 years of my life.


I remember being 5. The clothes I wore, the house I lived in, my mom's hairstyle, the shows that came on TV, the holidays with my grandparents, the anticipation of kindergarten, even some of the friends I had. I think that's why 5 is huge, it's one of the first years that you'll really remember for the rest of your life. I think about that alot as I watch you go through all of your little daily adventures, that you'll remember these times. This city, this house, your school, your teachers, the places you like to go, the games you play, the pets we have. But you won't remember them the way I will.


What I'll remember is how this is the year when you really came into your own. You started to experience the world in a different way, with your own preferences and interests that don't have anything to do with OUR preferences and interests. We tried to get you excited about karate, and you said you'd rather take a hip hop dance class. You stopped being into Dora and Diego and became obsessed with Scooby-Doo. Old Scooby-Doo, the exact same episodes we used to watch as kids, which is its own bittersweet thing. You started telling jokes (in your own fashion), inventing games, and building things out of household items. You began to see yourself as a bigger kid, especially compared to your little brother, but you also really bonded with him this year. Will you remember when we went to Sea World for this birthday and when we were at the hotel you told me that Jr. wanted to sleep in the same bed as you "because he's my brother and he really loves me." Probably not, but I will. You started to have a concept of what I do every day, and what work is, and what money is for, and how to save it. You played soccer, and wrote your name, and memorized almost every single song on the "Michael Jackson Number Ones" CD, and memorized the Lord's Prayer, and started learning Chinese just because you were interested in it. You kept reading, and reading, and reading, graduating from picture books to Dr. Seuss to "Junior Novels" in pretty much the blink of an eye (your current obsession: a Junior Novel about the Titanic. You carry that book around everywhere, telling me things like "Now the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean, buried under the silt and sand.") You're turning into your mother's son, reading books at the table, in the bathroom, in bed, in the car, everywhere you go.


But, thankfully, you're still little in some ways. Instead of correcting to you, I secretly want you to keep referring to the killer whales at Sea World as the "okras" (orcas) because it's so cute. You still cover your ears on the "scary" parts of your beloved Scooby-Doo episodes and Monsters Inc, even though you've seen them a thousand times. You're fascinated by everything, still easily entertained, still perfectly content to play with cardboard boxes and blankets (although I know video games are right around the corner). You continue to be a super picky eater, but there's glimmers of a little foodie in there. Pizza, hamburgers, spaghetti, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs? No, no, never, no, nope, absolutely not. Brussels sprouts, parmesan brown rice, chinese food, sushi? Favorites. You cried when Daddy went out of town last month because you said no one would know how to play cars with you while he was gone. You still have days when you want to be carried around, and I get a little pang every time I realize you're really too big for that now. When did that happen?

5 years ago, your dad and I were SO desperate to meet you! You were TEN DAYS overdue, and all we could think about was what you would look like, how you would be, what things would we teach you, how are life would change once you got here. And you know what? You are so so so so so much more than we could have possibly imagined.

Happy 5th Birthday.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

A few days ago I kept J home from preschool on my Friday off so me and the boys could spend a day together. I envisioned a lovely day going out to breakfast, dying Easter eggs, maybe a little shopping. I did not envision my 4.99 year old hurting my feelings.

The first part, breakfast, went well. We met up with a friend at our favorite pancake spot, talked over coffee, and managed to leave before Jr. completely embarassed me with his 18 month old antics in the restaurant. As we were driving away, I asked J if he enjoyed his breakfast.

"Yes," he said. Then he sighed. "I just keep getting fat."

?????? Sensing some kind of Parenting Teachable Moment, I proceeded cautiously.

"Um, did you just say you keep getting FAT? You're not fat, sweetie. Maybe you're just full because we had a big breakfast. Why do you think you're fat?"

"Well, maybe I'm not fat," he said, "but you are."

(What??? Did he just say I'm fat???)

"J," I said calmly, "I am NOT fat." Belatedly, I thought to add, "But even if I was, there wouldn't be anything wrong with that."

"Yes, you are fat," he said matter of factly.

"I'm really not fat, J." I said, trying not to sound defensive/hurt and failing miserably. "Why are you saying that, anyway? Do you even know what fat means?"

He thought for a minute. "It means...when your body is like...really wide."

Ouch. He knows what it means.

"J, who has been talking to you about being fat? Did somebody say something mean to you?" (About me? I thought but didn't say.)

"No," he said, again very matter-of-fact. "I just think you're fat."

"You don't think Mommy is pretty?" I asked, completely pathetic at this point, my ego being slowly crushed by my preschooler.

"Yes, you're pretty, Mommy. And fat."

Daaaaaang. Where the heck is this coming from?

"J, it's okay to be fat. But it's not nice to call people fat. It hurts their feelings. And for the record...I'm not fat." He looked confused, rightfully so. It's confusing. Why is it not nice to call people fat, when it's "okay" to be fat? Why do I care if my kid calls me fat, if I'm supposedly fine with myself however I am? For that matter, why does he even know about the concept of "fat?"

The more I thought about it, the more I wasn't sure exactly how to frame my response. On the one hand, I want J to understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, and there's nothing wrong with being heavier. I don't want him to be one of those kids who picks on the fat kid at school because he's naturally really thin and doesn't understand that some people are naturally...not thin.

On the other hand, I want him to understand that it's not okay to call people fat, even if it's true. That's a bit harder. How do I say, "it's okay to be fat" and then turn around and say it's mean to call people fat? It doesn't make good sense, does it?

And finally, I can't help but be a little hurt when J calls me fat. Is he comparing me to other moms he's seen? To people on TV? To himself? Where did he get the notion that I'm "fat?" Did I give him that idea? My weight has been pretty much an ongoing struggle my entire adult life. I've finally, after 15 years, gotten back to a comfortable weight for me. I try not to let my own body image issues seep out in front of the kids, but I have to wonder, have I been saying things about being fat in front of them? Do I obsess about food and diet? Should I not get on the scale when they're in the room? TH and I do talk about working out and how we "need to get back on track" when we've fallen off the wagon of eating right and exercising. Are we unintentionally giving J the idea that being overweight is a "problem" that you have to "fix?" Somehow I stupidly thought that because I have boys I wouldn't really have to worry about this kind of thing.

Hmmmm.

I'm ashamed to admit that I basically just avoided the topic, turning up the radio and changing the subject to how we were going to decorate our eggs. I've had all sorts of interesting conversations with J about religion, death, love, stranger danger, inappropriate touching, money, all the heavy stuff. But when it came to talking about weight and being "fat," I guess J found my kryptonite. I reeeeeeeallllly don't want to have the conversation, because I really don't like hearing my kid call me fat. Plain and simple.

Hopefully he'll forget the whole topic for another few years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I think it's Update Time...

Whoa. That was a quick 5 weeks. I didn't forget my little blog, I just...couldn't...quite...get to it. Husband work kids exercise pets sleep stress Weight Watchers no weekends etc etc blah blah blah. So anyway. Jr. at 18 months - that phrase alone blows my mind. 18 months as of yesterday.

  • Jr. is....I believe the PC term is "spirited." Yeah, he's spirited. I feel like the whole idea of "babyproofing" came about because of kids like Jr. We have already had a number of near-misses and "incidents" involving the stairs, climbing on bookshelves and dressers, various increasing-in-complexity baby gates, the dishwasher, the front door, the toilet, cups of coffee, the cats, the clothes dryer (don't ask), the laptop I'm using right now...

  • He's still our Littleness. As of today he's a whopping 21 lbs, continuing on his 10th percentile growth curve. He still easily fits most of his 12 month sized clothing, although he's finally able to wear 18 month pants (rolled over at the top because of his tiny little waist.)

  • That said, Jr. is STRONG. Like he has a baby 6-pack strong. I've witnessed him many times using ab strength alone to pull himself onto something and it is impressive. He can throw a ball, he can jump, he runs VERY fast, he does somersaults. I can't even describe how much more active he is than J ever was. Not that J was inactive, but the contrast between the two is interesting. They are definitely different kids.

  • He continues to be a champion eater, despite his small size. He's at the point now where I can just pull him up to the table in his booster, put a plate in front of him, and 10 minutes later come back to an empty plate. I really hope he doesn't change in that regard because one super-picky eater is more than enough.

  • I've been worried about Jr.'s language development because he still doesn't really say any words other than "uh-oh" and "hi." And "cheese," that one he says very clearly. I talked to his ped this morning about it and he reassured me that Jr. is not at all behind and his language recognition skills are excellent, so at this point we don't even need an evaluation. But I'm sure I'll be worrying about it until he really does start talking.

  • He continues to torture us with night waking. We're pretty much making it up as we go along with this one because although J didn't STTN until 11 mths, once he did it he never looked back. Jr. still wakes at least once a night and needs to be rocked and get a bottle to go back down, a process which can take a REALLY long time depending on his mood. We've tried CIO with him, and he has defeated us. All that gets us is screaming-SCREAMING-for over an hour at a time. He's one of those kids who gets increasingly agitated instead of winding down if he's crying, one of the ones you read about that will actually vomit from screaming/crying if he's really upset. I'm sure we're creating a monster with the rocking but I just don't have the heart or energy to force the issue on this one.

  • Despite his, um, "spiritedness" Jr. is really a joy. He's a handful for sure, but he's so full of life. As they said in Alice in Wonderland, he's much...muchier.

Up to his usual antics, in the laundry.



Chowing down, as always.


Poofy Puffhead no more. It was getting out of control. First Haircut With Clippers, courtesy of Mommy.

aaaaaand....more antics.

J at (almost) 5 years.



  • J is also much....muchier, but in a different way. I'm not sure if you can describe a little kid as cerebral, but that is a good word for J. He's always thinking, always planning, always trying to find the "why" in a situation. He doesn't make decision lightly which is interesting for a 4.9 year old. If he doesn't want to do something, his reasons are somewhat adult - for instance, we were trying to get him interested in karate as an activity, and tried the old "your friend so-and-so is in it and he likes it." To which J replied, "Mommy, I don't have to like something just because somebody else likes something. We can be different." And then he went on to tell me that he didn't karate is a good activity "for a kid like me. I think I would like something like dance classes better because I'm always dancing." Um, okay. Duly noted. I've been searching for dance classes for him, but finding something for kids this age that's not geared towards little girls in tutus is proving challenging.

  • Reading. Old news, but it's still exciting for me. J is now reading chapter books without many pictures, which is a huge leap in terms of what will keep him interested. He reads in the car, in bed, outside, in the bathroom (he is a boy after all). I was trying to read 1-2 chapters a night at bedtime until he told me that was "too slow" and that he'd rather just read the book by himself. So now I read a chapter, and he's allowed to read by himself for awhile before turning off the light. He may look like his dad, but he's definitely my kid.

  • Still no word on kindergarten. The charter lottery is May 1 (coincidentally J's birthday. Also a Sunday which seems weird but that's the date.) I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous about it. I know it's just kindergarten, but when your local school district is like ours, any chance to be in a quality program is important.

  • Speaking of birthdays, we've convinced J that instead of another big party, we should take a family trip to Sea World San Diego. We considered LegoLand but Jr. is just too small for that to be a fun experience. J was very excited about it, and then there was a little setback when he realized that no party means less presents (one of the reasons I want to get away from parties), and then he saw the Sea World commercial where the kid wears the swim goggles all day long so I bought him some swim goggles...that he wants to wear all day long. So he's all excited again.

  • 4.9 is proving to be a great age, although it has its challenges. J can eat what we eat, he sleeps at night, he's 100% potty trained, he can occupy himself for long periods of time, he's an excellent conversationalist, he can stay up late at night and watch movies with us or the babysitter without huge ramifications the next day. But he also is becoming argumentative and smart alecky (like I said, he's my kid) and every day it seems like he gets in trouble for not listening or talking back or generally acting like he thinks he's an adult. Thank goodness the middle school years are still far away...

Guess who wants to be a vet...



Reading at the table


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

34.360.28.5.20.FOURTEEN!!!

34 today. The past year was by far the fastest of my entire life. Which is good in some ways because I think I've documented pretty well that it was also one of the most tumultous years of my life. There were some big numbers this year though:
  • I'm 34.
  • Since I started running again (around May) I have run 360 miles. My goal for this year is to do 750. Easy peasy.
  • I've lost 28 pounds since my birthday last year. Some of it was baby weight, some of it was Mexican food/wine/mashed potatoes/chocolate weight. I officially weigh less today than I did when I graduated from undergrad at 23. And less than I did at my wedding 9 years ago when I was 25. And less than when I graduated from vet school 7 years ago. And less than I did BEFORE having 2 children.
  • I've been a mom for almost 5 years. I can't even wrap my mind around that.
  • TH and I have now known each other for almost 20 years. We met in the fall of 1991, when we were both 14, although we weren't really "serious" until a couple years later. We've literally been together more than half of our lives. Again, mind blown by that number.
  • Speaking of 14....SIZE FOURTEEN! *fist pump* And it's a loose 14 at that, size 12 is just around the corner. This is huge. No pun intended.

Last year I didn't have resolutions, but I did make goals that I wanted to attain before my 34th. Let's revisit, shall we?

Start running again. Run 2 5K's. Think about a half marathon. Check, check, and check.

Lose the pregnancy weight. Check. See above.

Go away for a weekend with my husband, without kids. Dang. Not yet. *Game show wrong-answer buzzer sound*. I did go "away" for Girls Weekend without kids, which is halfway there. Send this goal back to the front of the line.

Decide what I'm doing with my career - go back for a residency or what? Check. Not going back to school. Big things on the horizon that I can't discuss here.

Debt free except for student loans, mortgage, and cars. Sigh....almost. Actually both cars will be paid off this year. But due to other unforseen circumstances (oh, how I cringe reading last year's birthday post with no idea of what 2010 would bring, things like paying for funerals), we're still working on getting rid of some debt. But we're getting there.

Eat a pomegranate. So, funny story. Yeah, I couldn't do it. Stared at it, gagged, walked away. A whole year and I couldn't bring myself to eat a pomegranate. File that goal in the trash, it's not happening.

So what will 2011/34 bring? It's going to be huge. HUGE. I've got so many balls in the air right now it's not even funny, and at the end I hope to have some major accomplishments. To sample a few:

  • Running goals: I'm doing Warrior Dash in August in Colorado with my twin sister, who has also rocked her life and lost FIFTY POUNDS over the past year. I can't even tell you what it will be like for us to cross that finish line together. My second big running goal is to run a half-marathon, which I am planning on doing in December.
  • Finish upgrading my kitchen.
  • BIG THINGS on the job front. That's all I'll say. So big that it keeps me up at night excited-worried-hyperventilating-freaking out. More to come on that later.
  • Size 10.

Here's to another year....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Kindergarten Question

Oh, it seems like just yesterday I was posting about The Preschool Question. Time is flying by, to say the least. I was looking at J the other day, sprawled in his PBK anywhere chair that used to engulf him and now he can only fit in with his legs hanging over the arms, reading a pictureless book, his arm behind his head just like TH...yeah, time is flying.

We've started looking into kindergartens for J, and as expected it's a bit of a decision-making dilemma. TH and I are both proud products of public schools, and we have nothing against J just going to the school closest to us. But there are factors. Lots of factors.

  • The Clark County School District (CCSD) is one of the worst in the nation. There's no getting around that. I know they're trying alot of different things to remedy that ranking, and that it's not as big of a deal for the younger grades, but it's a factor. From a cost standpoint we are 99% sure we'll have to go with some sort of public school, but we have to choose carefully. Luckily for us, the area where we live has very good CCSD schools. So if we stay in this area, it shouldn't be a huge issue. (God I sound so snobby! "If we stay in this area." I just lost all my hood cred. Oh well.)
  • Money. Paying for both kids this year (full-time preschool and 3/4 time daycare for Jr.) was an eye-opener. We spent over 10% of our income on childcare this year. And our daycare is "cheap!" We've run the numbers several times and I just can't see how we could afford a true private school. We're scraping by paying for preschool as it is. Although J will be in an "all-day" program next year wherever he is, we will still have to pay for after-school care as "all-day" in kindergarten means until 2:30pm. And like most working folks, we don't get off at 2:30pm.
  • Location. This is the one giving us the most trouble. Right now, things are fairly simple because J's preschool is adjacent to TH's job, so he just rides to school every day with Daddy. I take Jr. to daycare, which is only 10minutes from my job. However. It's still a big triangle because we don't LIVE near either of our jobs. So if we send J to the public school nearest our house, we will have to coordinate that with work schedules and getting him picked up after school and finding a new daycare situation for the afterschool hours. There's no way logistically that he could go to the same daycare as Jr. (near my job). We've found a couple of other charter schools that we like, but again they're not really near either of our jobs. We hate the idea of the kids having to spend hours of their day commuting with us. So that's a factor.
  • J. He's a factor. I've alluded to it before, and I'm not really going to go into detail about it here because I don't want to come off as one of those "My kid's so gifted, he can't go to regular school because he's so SPESHUL" kind of moms. But after many talks with his preschool director and teachers, we know that J needs a challenging academic environment. They are already talking about skipping grades at some point, which I am pretty much against. I'd rather find a school that is challenging enough for him to stay with his peers throughout. This is a tough one. We've gone on a couple open-houses at some of these "challenger" type schools, and OMG, THE OTHER PARENTS. Good Lord. I told TH for some of these people parenting is like a contact sport. Everyone so hyper-competetive, rattling off their kids' accomplishments as if they should already have a resume. I can't stand it. I know what J needs and I want him to be in that setting academically, but I hate all the jockeying and elbowing that goes along with some of these schools.

As of now, we've narrowed it down to two schools.

School A is our local elementary school. Pros: It's brand-new. As in, construction just finished and the school opened this past fall. Therefore it's nowhere near capacity yet, so the class size is small. It's near our house, so on my off days during the week, drop-off/pick-up will be easy. It's a beautiful school in a very nice foothilly type area, with no major roads or commercial districts nearby. So far, the plan is for this school to have a science/math "emphasis" and all of the teachers/administrators are very enthusiastic and dedicated. All-day kindergarten is offered, although on days when we both work we'll have to figure out the 2:30pm-5:30pm gray area. I think there's some kind of afterschool program but I'm not sure of the cost.

Cons: It's brand-new. There's no track record yet. We don't know anyone who's actually sent their kids there, so it's a complete unknown at this point. There are lots of plans and agendas and goals as far as the curriculum, but only time will tell if it's really going to be All That. It's near our house - great on my off days, worrisome when I work. On those days we'll need before-school care as well as I usually have to have Jr. dropped off at his daycare (nowhere near the school) and myself at work by 8am. If J gets sick or something and needs to be picked up, it would be a hike for either of us.

School B: Public charter school. We visited a couple of weeks ago and LOVED the vibe. Pros: It's a "Science and Technology Academy" with a proven track record. All of the kids there seemed to love their classes. The projects they were working on were impressive. The kids get computer/technology instruction from day one, as well as foreign language. They also don't ignore the other subjects, meaning there are art and music classes, which is VERY important to me. It's a public charter, so it's free, and they do offer before/after school care which is reasonably priced. It's not exactly near TH's job but it's on the way, easily accessible to his commute. The classes are small and the teachers top-notch. If J gets in, as a sibling Jr. will be able to get in easier later.

Cons: It's a public charter with small class sizes, which means the only way to get in is The Dreaded Lottery. There's no interviewing or campaigning, which I like, but it's completely out of our control. The parents I met were still on the HyperCompetitive side but I think that goes with the charter territory. It's in a very busy area, right by the highway and alot of shops/commercial stuff. Not a bad part of town by any means, but the location makes me a little nervous. It only goes up to 2nd grade, and then kids continuing on with this charter go to a different campus for 3rd-5th grade, and then a different campus for middle school.

As it stands, if J gets into School B with the lottery, that's where he'll go. There's just ALOT to figure out, as usual. Our little baby, going to kindergarten, I can't believe it...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Show Me the Mommy - Haircut & a couple more pounds

When I went to the hairdresser last week, I briefly considered just cutting my hair off. Freedom!!

Then I came to my senses and decided to start with going to shoulder length. Baby steps, people.



Closing in on 30 pounds...almost there....
This picture would have been perfect if not for the stains on my shirt from the baby's oatmeal hands (that I didn't even realize were there until the next day when I looked at the photo).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Answers...

Hey! Thanks for the questions. They actually made me think quite a bit about various aspects of my life which was not the intention but still very interesting. Ok for some answers:

On Being a Vet:
I'm not sure I remember the "why" of becoming a vet. I know it's something I always wanted to do, from the time I was little. I very vividly recall taking our Irish Setter, Clover, to the vet when I was around 6 or 7. It was fascinating to me. At that age I was already obsessed with animals - we lived across the street from a kind-of wildlife preserve and my sisters and I were always finding various animals in our yard and trying to bring them inside to be our pets - toads, garter snakes, salamanders, birds. One time we *almost* tried to pick up a rattlesnake that was in the corner of the yard. Luckily it was dead. Anyway when we took Clover into the vet I was so impressed with him, his office, the fact that she was up on a fancy metal table, the bags of dog food in the front...everything. I actually talked to that vet (Dr. B, he's still in business in Denver!) 2 weeks ago. Talk about full circle. I love animals - not in a creepy dress them up in clothes and act like they're people kind of way, but I find them endlessly interesting and fun to work with. I also LOVE medicine, the science, doing surgery, looking into microscopes every day, thinking about physiology and how the body works. You put the two together, and you've got yourself a vet.

The best thing by far about being a vet is the feeling of helping the animals and the people who take care of them. I have a soft spot in my heart for the elderly pet owners who tell me that their pet is the only companion they have, "all I have left." People love their animals, and even if they're not rich they usually try to do what's best, and I'm always trying to help them do that.

On the flip side of that same coin, the worst part about being a vet by far is the money aspect. We don't have the HMOs/insurance/government to help subsidize what we do, so it's all fee-for-service. People realize that veterinary medicine is really in alot of aspects at the same level as human medicine, and they want/expect us to treat their animals at that level. But what they don't always understand is how much that costs. I could go on and on about this but I'll just say there is nothing more demoralizing than spending days agonizing over a case, even coming into the clinic in the middle of the night to check on it, laying awake wondering if an animal will get better, getting the animal better, going to discharge it and when the people don't want to pay the bill having them say something like "All you vets care about is the money," as if the way to show I "really care" is working for free. Yeah, I hate that.

On Kids:
I know people who will hate me for saying this, but I didn't find going from 1 to 2 kids all that difficult. For me, going from 0 to 1 was MUCH harder. When J was born I struggled with what I now realize was mild PPD, and I had a very tough time adjusting for the first few months. Having Jr. has been very different. Sure there have been long nights and stress and exhaustion and a few freakout moments, but overall the experience has been very positive. I think the spacing does have some to do with it, my boys are about 3.5 years apart, so J has his own life with preschool, soccer, friends, etc and doesn't spend all his time with me anymore anyway. Even the sibling rivalry that I notice between them doesn't stress me much - maybe because I'm a twin and I always had a sibling to compete with so I'm used to bickering?

Laura, the most unexpected part about having two kids...I'm not sure. I think the differences have been related more to going through the whole process a second time as opposed to having 2 kids. The logistics of 2 was a little hinky at first, but it's been alot easier to integrate a baby into a family with kid(s) than it was to integrate a baby into a childless couple's life, if that makes sense. I've often thought about what it would have been like if we'd had twins this time, and I still think it probably (for me) would be easier to deal with twins the second time around than it was for me as a singleton new parent. That's how hard it was for me in the beginning with J.

I've loved having 2 kids. Having Jr. was one of the best decisions we ever made for our family. That said...we are definitely done at two. I'm very happy with two boys. I don't feel like I "need" to have a daughter. I will say that with 2 kids, I now have absolutely ZERO time for myself. ZERO. I'm never "off." 3 would be insane, I think.

How not to screw up being a twin mom:
Remember that twins are just siblings who happen to be the same age. They're not a unit. They don't want to be a unit. Separation is not always bad. Try not to compare them because everyone else will, for their WHOLE LIFE. Recognize that they're different but don't point out the differences (The "quiet one," the "social one."). It's hard to live down labels that people put on you, even innocently. Encourage them to be individuals the same as you would any other siblings.

I'm very close to my twin sister. She's my best friend. But I can honestly say I don't view our relationship as being much different or more "special" than I do my relationship with my younger sister.

On everything else:
Claudia, I'm sorry to inform you...I most definitely did not go to East LOL. I am a GW Patriot through and through. :-)

We're working on going back to Colorado. This has been a huge, drawn-out decision making process. We really enjoy the lifestyle and quality of life we could have for our kids in Colorado. I miss the mountains terribly. I miss my sisters even more. Vegas is dry, and kind of dirty, and more than a little seedy.

But.

Professionally, leaving and going to Colorado now would be starting over in alot of ways. We've been in Vegas for 7 years. I've never practiced in Colorado, we came here right after vet school. I'm established here (and so is TH). I know other vets, I'm familiar with all the specialists, I still have loyal clients. I know I could open a practice here within the next couple of years and be successful. If we go back to CO I think it would be at least 5 years before I could do that. Plus we do have friends here. And a good childcare situation. And a house that we can't sell anytime soon.

We're still undecided. There are huge pros and huge cons to both. To say we've been agonizing over this would be an understatement. Stay tuned on that one.

Hair: The jury's still out. Going to the hairdresser this week. We'll see if I have the cojones to make a radical change. Probably not.

Running bra: I don't have one!! I need one!! Currently I strap my DD's down with two sports bras on top of each other. I've looked into better bra situations but they're pricey and until I start working full time again it's a bit of an extravagance to spend $60 on a bra. Suggestions?

And finally. I met my husband in high school...wait for it...because he had a crush on my sister and he saw me in the hallway and only talked to me because he thought I was her. This is a true story. Let's call it fate -- here we are twenty (!!) years later, high school and college sweethearts beating the odds.

Whew! I'm more interesting than I thought LOL.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I''m actually a very interesting person.

You just can't always tell from my blog :) I have blogger's block something terrible. So many things are constantly on my mind, and now I even have the free hours when I'm working at night to write some good posts....but I gots nothin'.

So. What do you wanna know? Is there anything you're just dying to ask me? I don't imagine that I have "lurkers" but if so I'd love if you would de-lurk and prod me in a direction. Any direction. What can I write about, what can I write about....

I'm an open book. I'll talk about anything. Well, except for the stuff that I don't talk about on the blog. Leave me a question or Deep Thought in the comments and I'll pretend it was an original idea of mine and write about it. Deal? Deal.

This should be fun....(sound of crickets)