Monday, February 28, 2011

Bad Mommy Mondays

Will now be an every-other-weekly event.  I just don't have enough to do ten a week.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dear Miles,

It's been a little while since I last wrote to you.  I wish I had a good explanation for you as to why, but suffice it to say that I just . . . haven't.

I hope you know, when you read this someday, that everything I've written here is for you.  Not everything is addressed to you, and not everything is about you.  But it is all for you.  So that one day, when you are tempted to believe that I do not love you because of some argument we've had or some issue we disagree upon, then, you may look to all that I have written, and know that I love you more than I could ever tell you.  So much so that the thought of you being angry with me someday has brought tears to my eyes, even imagining it.  You are my world, you and that amazing father of yours.  My world revolves around making the two of you happy.

I am in a contemplative mood as I write this, tonight, on the eve of the seventeen-month anniversary of your birth.  The day has been cool, though not as cold as it has been recently.  The fog of this morning gave way to an early thunderstorm this evening.  As you splashed in your bath tonight, the thunder boomed outside, and you growled back at it, reveling in the conversation you were having with Mother Nature herself.

And that moment described you in such perfect detail.  You are unafraid of the world - in fact, you view it as your playground.  One giant world, meant to be climbed, and stomped on, and growled at.  You take such delight in it all.  Giggling at the dog when he licks your face. Squealing with joy when someone laughs at your antics.  Bursting out with a jubilant "Hi!" whenever someone new appears.  You view the world with such utter exuberance, that it is impossible to be unhappy around you.

Until, of course, the storm clouds appear on your face.  Every once in awhile, something upsets you, or frustrates you, and you let the world know.  Your screams of anguish when you hear the dreaded, "No" could bring any trained soldier to his knees.  Your sad little pouty face, and the tears you squeeze out when you cannot express yourself fully break my heart.  Everything you do, you do it big.

Tonight, as I rocked you to sleep, I suddenly realized that your little body has long since outgrown my arms.  Sure, you can fold yourself up until you still fit perfectly on my chest, but when you decide to stretch, your head resting on my shoulder, your feet drape over my hips.  I laughed when I realized I now have to wear you like a Miss America sash, just so you will fit comfortably.

I could go on and on about your accomplishments, your amazing feats of athleticism and intellectualism combining to make you the most amazing toddler that ever lived.  But I already do that.  Every day, on this blog.

So, instead, I will leave you with this, my wonderful son:

I love you, all the way to the moon - 
and back.

Love,
Mommy

Silence is Golden

Except when you have a toddler.

First thing every morning, I sit in my chair, nursing a cup of coffee, and trying desperately to clear the cotton out of my head so I can function.  Many times, I'm trying to do this while Miles is awake.  Being the saintly child that he is, he usually just plays quietly.  When he's not so saintly, I resort to the television.  Because this mama?  Cannot function before coffee.

I'm not really certain when that started.  I used to be a morning person.  Really, I did.  I loved the morning.  Then, while I was pregnant, I redefined morning to mean anytime between 10 and noon.  Because I was exhausted.  Constantly.  Baby-building is a tiring process.  So, I started sleeping in.  A lot.  Then, Miles was born, and I learned to sleep when he slept (which was never, it seemed).  Morning became obsolete.  If I managed to get out of my pajamas before Patrick went to bed, I considered it a success.

Now, however, I have been blessed with this amazingly energetic toddler, who thinks that 7:00 am is sleeping in.  So, I started setting my alarm for 6:30, in an effort to down a cup of coffee before he woke up.  And then, Thursday, he woke up, screaming, two seconds after my alarm went off.  Somehow, waking up to screaming just makes my morning worse.  So, by 8:00 am, I was still slumped in my chair, slurping my second cup of coffee, and just trying to survive.  Miles was being saintly, and playing quietly.  Without the television.  I felt like a good mother.

Then, I realized he was too quiet.  Like, completely silent.  I peeked around, certain that the room would be destroyed.  Instead, I found Miles sitting very quietly.  I did a double take.  He was stark naked.  His diaper was lying in a heap about four feet away.  And he was industriously investigating the . . .toy he had discovered.

I couldn't help it.  I laughed.  A lot.  He looked up at me, startled.  Then, he grinned at my obvious delight and pointed as if to say, "Look, Mom!  Isn't it neat!"

I died.

Anyone know of a brand of diapers that closes with duct tape? :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Battles & Blessings

Battles:

  • Icky weather returned on Thursday.  I hate being stuck indoors.  I officially give the finger to Winter.  In the most lady-like way possible, of course.
  • Teething.  Eye-teeth are coming in.  I am bracing myself, because these are supposed to be the worst.
  • Busy, busy, busy.  We had things planned every.single.day this week.  It was tough finding time to do everything.  I have a feeling that it's only going to get worse from here.

Blessings:

  • Patrick.  He took Miles out to the mall on Wednesday night, which allowed me some much-needed time to work on some projects.  I watched episodes of The Pretender.  It was glorious.  The end.
  • Miles' rash went away!  He looked so much better.  And then, it came back, but not nearly as bad.  And it's going away again, so end result = Yay!!!
  • Miles has been ultra-snuggly this week.  I love it.  And the crankiness that usually goes along with it has been fairly scarce.  So, even better!
  • I have found a new assistant to help with my kids' performance group!  I met with her on Wednesday, and now I'm even more excited for our new season. :)
  • A chance to perform this afternoon.  I am playing the Mock Turtle in an Alice in Wonderland Tea. :)


Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Photos!

Chillin' with Daddy and Dominic, playing with a light.

Apparently, Miles is growing out of his baby bed.  I probably
ought to move him to a dresser drawer . . .*

Dragging his sled around as the last snow was melting.
This was apparently preferable to dragging it on the snow.

Using his toes as teethers.  Because apparently
the nine zillion teething toys he owns are insufficient,
apparently. <sigh>

*For the love of all that is holy, I am joking.**

**Gods of the Internet, please create a humor font.  And while you're at it, could you create a sarcasm font?  And maybe a weapon that allows me to slap people through the computer?  And, and, and, and, and . . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Haircut

Miles has had his second haircut, now.  It went . . . well enough, I suppose.  Once again, I trimmed it, this time in front of the television.  All was well until he turned his head at the exact wrong moment.  The back of his hair is a little (read: a lot) shorter than I intended, but it still looks good (read: it makes me crazy, but there's nothing I can do about it).  And, well . . . judge for yourself.  It's a little too close to being a bowl cut, for my taste, but <shrug> not bad for an amateur, I guess?



Ah, what the hell.  The kid is freakin' adorable, no matter how badly mommy butchers his haircut.  Especially with that mischievous little grin.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Could Get Used to This . . .

Miles has always had a special love of the vacuum, which he calls the "Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrr."*  Usually, that means that he spends a ton of time chasing me around the room while I try desperately to sweep up the cereal crumbs.  After literally months of this, Patrick and I broke down and bought him his very own vacuum.


So far, he loves it.  And so do I.  He can now sweep up his own messes.  And he does.  And it is bliss.  The end.

Wait.  What do you mean he spends most of his time chasing the dog with it?  And the dog?  He barks at it.  Loudly

Oh, well, he's vacuuming.  Yeah, I could definitely get used to this. :)

* Add about 30 more seconds worth of "rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" after that, and that is close to what Miles calls the vacuum.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Tuesday?

I totally kicked its ass.  Miles and I had a great day, in spite of its Tuesday-ness.

Take that, Tuesday. Pfffft.

The Roller Coaster

Every year, at this time, I feel like I'm at the top of the first hill of a giant roller coaster ride called The Festival.


I look ahead to the coming weeks and months, and suddenly, I see it all spread out before me - the terror and thrill of the ride.  The twists and turns.  The exhilaration, and the exhaustion.  And I know that before I know it, October will be here, and the ride will glide in to the relative comfort and calm of the holidays.

But, for now, I sit at the top of this hill, in the moments before it all begins.

I take a deep breath, and prepare for the plunge.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bad Mommy Mondays


I know you've been anxiously awaiting the return of this beautiful little list, since I took last week off for Valentine's Day.  Well, the ooey-gooey-ness must have worn off, because this week, I have plenty to add to my litany of bad deeds.  Enjoy!
  1. I let him wander all the way across the gym from me.  Seriously, some psycho mom could snatch him up and run away with him.  Well, she could if she wasn't so busy helicoptering around her own little cherub, at least. . . 
  2. My house is a disaster pretty much all the time.  I don't even care anymore.  Untidyness runs rampant, and I am fighting a losing battle.  <shrug>  At least I keep the floor clean, since:
  3. Miles may, on occasion, eat food off of the floor.  I mean, it's not like it's everyday, or anything (it is), and it's not like it's every meal (it so is).  And at least I try to stop him, right? (I don't).  To be fair, though, if I threw away every piece of food he ever dropped on the floor, our grocery bill would be in the thousands of dollars a week.  Seriously.
  4. Miles plays video games already.  Yep.  And he's entirely obsessed with the computer.  I've already set the poor little guy on the road toward nerd-hood. . . Oh, wait.  That's not a bad thing. 
  5. I actually allowed my poor child to grow a mullet.  And I didn't even realize it.  <hangs head in shame>
  6. My kid did some of his earliest teething on a pickle.  True story.
  7. For Miles' first birthday, a bunch of us went to the zoo.  No, we didn't rent it out, and no, I didn't plan it for six whole months.  It was a last-minute decision, and it was fun.  Apparently, I should have stressed about it more, but frankly?  I saw no reason to.
  8. I bribe my kid with cookies.  When you're sitting in the Dermatologist's office, and your son suddenly becomes a manic, destructive mini-monster, then you can judge me.  Meanwhile, pass the cookies.
  9. I can't always control my kid.  Sometimes, no matter what I do, he runs screaming around the room like a banshee.  See #8 for an example of my failed efforts.
  10. My kid rarely wears socks unless we're going somewhere that requires shoes.  His feet sweat, he overheats, and he gets cranky.  Apparently, allowing him this minor comfort is allowing him to rule the roost already.  Meh.  We already knew that . . . :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ahh, Sunshine

How we've missed you. Thank you ever so much for returning, even if it was only for a couple of days, so we could play outside.  We celebrated by playing with the dog.


And taking a nice walk, enjoying your warmth.

And . . . shoveling non-existent snow?  Well, sure, why not?

Please come again soon.  We love you.

Sincerely,
-Us-

P.S. If you abandon us again, and allow that bastard Snow to come back, I will shank you.  Love and hugs!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Battles & Blessings

Battles:

  • Sleep issues continue to plague us.  Fighting at naptimes.  Waking up an hour earlier than usual.  All in all, same old stuff.
  • A crankiness that may be sleep-related, or possibly teething?  It's so hard to guess.
  • My arch-nemesis, Tuesday.
  • This ridiculous rash that we can't seem to kick.
  • Miles is getting more and more picky about his food.  I'm trying to remain chill about it, but it's tough.
  • No Shakespeare night this week.  I missed it greatly.
Blessings:

  • Patrick.  So supportive.  And sweet.
  • Miles.  He is learning at an amazing rate.  He astonishes me daily.
  • The weather.  Oh, my, but it's been beautiful.  It is so nice to open the windows again.
  • I think I've figured out the sleep issues.  I think Miles is trying to transition from two naps to one, and I've been trying to hold him to his old schedule.
  • In spite of his rash, and his pickiness, and everything else, Miles really has been an angel this week.  
  • Heart-warming compliments on my writing from random internet-strangers.  Seriously, it made my week, in a very nerdy way. :)
  • An opportunity to spend a day with Aunt Ninell.  I love that woman.  She is such a riot.
  • My job.  I am really and truly blessed to be able to bring my son with me, and to work with people who have become friends to both of us.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Photos!

My little Dennis the Menace. . .  :)

One of my new favorite photos of my boy.

Making Daddy's Valentine's Day present. 

Climbing on blocks at the science museum. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dermatologist Appointment From Hell


As promised, from yesterday.  Remember that this was all part of the evil plot of my arch-nemesis, Tuesday.

Scene: The Dermatologist's Waiting Room
Time: 9:00 am, Tuesday* Morning

Miles ran around the waiting room screaming his fool head off, leaving a trail of cheerios and soy milk, as I tried desperately to complete the endless pages of pointless paperwork that were required before they would even let us back into a room.  I tried, desperately, to control him, offering him everything from toys to cookies, to no avail.  After fifteen minutes of this, I finally gave up and sped through the paperwork, while my son did his best impression of a banshee.

Every patient and receptionist in the room gave me with that disapproving, "Control your child" look.  Except one mom, with her perfectly-behaved four-year-old girl-child, who looked at me with pity.  I tried to ignore it, finally finished the paperwork, then cleaned cheerios off the floor, scooped up Miles, and his sippy cup, and his snack cup, and my purse, and took all of it up to the front desk.  As I was dropping off paperwork, and trying not to up-end my bag, Miles took a dive for the floor, and the stench of dirty diaper whacked me across the face.  I excused myself, changed him, and returned just in time to be called back (finally) to see a doctor.

We had been in the office for fifteen minutes.  It felt like days.

Once in the room, I answered questions about Miles' medical history and the Devil's Rash that covered him from top to toe, while Miles generally did absolutely everything he shouldn't.  He opened and closed the drawers.  He pulled the sheet off the bed.  He screamed.  He wanted up.  He dove for the floor.  He rustled through my bag until he found the secret stash of animal crackers, and then begged for them, "Cook! Cook!" until I finally gave in out of desperation.

He sat quietly for about 90 seconds while I answered more detailed questions.  Then, he asked for more "Cook!"  Ad nauseum.

Exit Doctor Assistant Lady (DAL).  Five more minutes of Chaos in a Tiny Room.  Enter Doctor Dermatologist Lady (DDL). More questions.  More chaos.  Ad nauseum.

Exit Doctor Dermatologist Lady (DDL), in search of Big Wig Doctor Dermatologist Lady (BWDDL).  Five more minutes of Chaos in a Tiny Room.  Enter both Doctor Dermatologist Ladies (DDL & BWDDL).  More questions.  More chaos.  Ad nauseum.

In the end, it was determined that Something Terrible (but Unidentifiable, apparently) is wrong with his skin.**  Prescriptions were written.  Good-byes were said.  The Monster was re-dressed, and the door finally opened.

Exit Bedraggled Mommy, chasing Mini-Monster of Doom, running at top speed through the maze of hallways.

Then, we had to stop to check out.  While at the desk, I managed to finally succeed in dumping the entire contents of my bag on the floor, and Miles fell flat on his face, in front of everyone who was waiting in line, giving me that, "Control your child and get your shit together, I'm tired of waiting on you" look.  And, we had to make a follow-up appointment.

It's set for Tuesday.  My arch-nemesis is good.

*See, I told you.  Evil plot.  Arch-nemesis.  It's all there.

**Wonderful.  So glad that two specialists were able to collaborate to come up with this gem of a diagnosis.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesdays. . .

It's not unusual to hate Mondays.  The beginning of the work week.  The end of the weekend.  Totally understandable.  But, honestly, Mondays don't bother me, much.

Tuesdays, on the other hand, have my undying hatred.

Mainly because at best, they're the blah day.  Monday, I feel hopeful at the prospect of another week, another opportunity to get things right.  Wednesdays are the halfway point.  Thursday is so near to the weekend that you can almost taste it, and I don't even have to explain the appeal of a Friday.

Tuesday, however, is just there, taunting me.  The weekend is still but a distant dream, but I have usually lost the motivation of Monday.  So, it just hangs there.  Being Tuesday.  Wretched.  I abhor it.

Which is probably the reason that Tuesday has decided to seek revenge.  Perhaps it's psychological - the way expecting bad things tends to bring them about.  Or maybe Tuesday is simply my arch-nemesis.  I prefer the latter explanation.  Let me give you an example as to why I think this:

Yesterday was Tuesday.  It was also a simply awful day, for a million tiny reasons, each one seemingly innocuous on its own.  But combined?  They made for a rather hellish day.*

It started when my alarm went off, a full 40 minutes before Miles usually gets up.  Usually, this gives me enough time to snooze once or twice, then come downstairs and have a nice cup of coffee before I launch into my day.  Tuesday, however, had other plans.  When I pushed the snooze button for the first time, relishing the idea of nine more minutes of blissful slumber before I had to drag my ass out of bed, I thought for a moment that I hadn't hit the right button.  Several seconds later, my sleep-ridden brain finally figured out that those noises?  Weren't coming from the alarm, but from the next room, where Miles was already wide awake and playing.  Patrick got up, too, and helped, so I could at least brush my teeth, and by the time I got out of the bathroom, the two of them were already downstairs.  I drank my morning coffee in between helping find Miles some breakfast and re-locating the remote.**

Our normal morning routine was planned to be somewhat different, anyway, since Miles had an appointment with the dermatologist at 9:00 am.^  So, just as Miles' second-favorite show was coming on, I had to whisk him upstairs to get him ready to go.  Unfortunately, that meant that he spent the entire time fighting me in an effort to get back downstairs to find Boo.  Blargh.  I managed to dress myself and him, brush his teeth, and brush his and my hair in record time.  And, like the Bad Mommy I am, I parked him in front of the end of Boo  so I could get my shoes on and get the diaper bag packed.

Then, we had the dermatologist appointment from hell.  More about that tomorrow.

Afterward, I put Miles in the van, where he promptly fell asleep, and I used that opportunity to get his prescriptions filled.  I dropped them off, then went to get a chai from Starbucks, since I have a gift card.  The chai?  Which was supposed to be a delectable treat?  Tasted like butt.  And when I got back to the pharmacy, there was some sort of problem that prevented me from being able to pick up the prescriptions right away.  So, I drove home, anxious to sit in the van in the driveway, just breathing for five minutes.

And that's when Miles woke up.

We went inside, to find that the dog had, once again, escaped his kennel while we were gone, and had strewn dirty laundry all over the house.  For the second time this week.  Only this time?  He decided to tear some of it to shreds.  Just for giggles apparently.  I cleaned it up, got Miles some lunch, and then fell into my chair in a heap.  The clock read 11:34 am.

Tuesday is a bitch.

*Okay, okay.  I am being dramatic.  What else is new?

**No way can this mommy face a Tuesday without a cup of coffee.  If that means television first thing, so be it.

^Right during Sesame Street.  That was some bad planning. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Science Museum

Saturday morning, Miles and I made the twenty minute trek to our nearest science museum.  We played in water, and did several other fun things.  Then, I remembered I had the camera.  So, here is an overview of our adventures. Enjoy! :)

Playing at the train table in the toddler room.

Wearing a foam ring as a crown. Still in the toddler room.

The truck at the indoor playground.  We played here for quite
awhile, as well.

Playing with the magnetic gears.  He had a great time figuring
out how they worked.  So cute. :)

Riding the glass elevator.  He loved watching everything go by,
and the doors that wrapped around as they opened and closed.

And playing in the musical garden.  The rock garden sang,
the floor is a piano, and the trash cans are drums.  It was
the perfect place for my mini-musician. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feel the Love

So, it's Monday, which generally means a list of reasons why I'm a terrible mother.  But, not today.  Partly because I'm feeling like an awesome mommy today (for reasons unknown - I've done nothing spectacular lately), and partly because I was lazy and didn't start the list early enough for it to actually be funny.  But, mostly, because it's Valentine's Day.

So, go tell someone that you love them (even if it's only your mom.  She'd probably love to hear from you.), and nom on some conversation hearts, and watch sappy movies.  Because regardless of how you feel about this holiday, it's never a bad thing to celebrate the love we have in our lives.

To all of those I love - whether we are related by blood, or by choice - I love you, and I am honestly flattered and humbled to have each of you in my life.  I have been blessed by each of you, and you make each day just a little brighter.

May your day be filled with joy, with laughter, and with love.  In all of its marvelous forms.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Was Nerdy, When Nerdy Wasn't Cool

I have found in recent weeks, that somehow, I totally missed that 'nerdy' has become cool again.  I mean, I get it - tech is cool, right now, and the ability to use said tech makes you 'nerdy'.  Thus, nerdy = cool.  I just missed it, somehow.  Because, you know, I'm too nerdy to be aware of popular culture, apparently.

Anyhow, I realized this recently on one of my mommy forums.  I made some sort of amusingly self-deprecating comment about being a nerd.  Within moments, several women had hopped on to declare their supreme nerdiness.  "After all," one wrote, "we're all on an online forum."

And it hit me: she was right.  Here I was, feeling like the nerdiest person at the lunch table, and I was talking to a bunch of people I've never even met.  All of whom were proud to declare their nerd status.  Which is what I find amusing.

Fifteen years ago, I was being shoved into lockers for being a nerd.  I was locked in the instrument closet in orchestra for being a nerd.  I was ostracized, and I sat alone, reading during lunch, because I was a nerd, and therefore, untouchable.  I wish I could say that I didn't care - I liked being smart, and if that meant that others didn't like me, so be it.

But I did care.  I cared a lot.  And I would be lying if I said that I had never wished to be one of the pretty, popular girls.  Because I did.  But now?  Looking back?  I am really glad I was the nerd.  I'm proud of that awkward girl I used to be for having the guts to sit alone and read, rather than pretend to be something I wasn't.

And I'm so glad that being nerdy has become 'cool' again.  Because hopefully, when Miles tells his friends that he wants to learn computer programming or how to diagram a sentence, they won't laugh at him.  Hopefully, they will think of him as the cool, nerdy kid, and ask him to teach them these awesome new skills.

I know it's unlikely, but that would be my ideal world for my kid.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Battles & Blessings

Battles:

  • Oww, goodness.  I had my first migraine yesterday morning.  I nearly puked.  It was awful.  The end.
  • I've just been feeling "blah" all week.  It sucks.  I'm not outright sick, so there's no reason to hole up in bed, but I just don't feel 100%.
  • I have a serious case of Apathy.  Stuff needs to be done? Just don't care. Blah.
  • Naps.  What once was peaceful has re-entered the realm of hellish.  I think he's trying to switch to one nap, but he has a hard time sleeping for more than an hour at a time, so he ends up sleepy later in the day anyway.  Aargh.  Why won't my kid just sleep?
  • Nap craziness = cranky toddler.  Oh joy of joys.
  • Eczema.  It has returned with a vengeance, and we don't know why.  So, now we get to take him to a dermatologist.  Poor kid.  He is itchy and red and covered in splotchy-bumpy rashes.  And nothing I do seems to help. :(
Blessings:

  • Patrick.  Yep.  You knew that would be there at the top again.  He went in late to work yesterday to field The Boy while I tried to not to die from the Migraine of Doom.  Even though he has a major project due.
  • Despite his cranky, rashy, sleeplessness, Miles has actually been a lot of fun this week.  And taking him out in public with me makes me realize how incredibly well-behaved he is for his age.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing son.
  • The beginning of pretend play.  I love my little fire-breathing dragon. :)
  • Toddler crafts.  Oh my cookies, but this child loves to paint.  And I love displaying his artwork on the fridge.  I feel like a real mom, now. :)
  • Time with friends.  Thursday's Shakespeare Night was a howling success, and exactly what I needed to de-stress.
  • The opportunity to meet other moms in the area.  A bunch of us from my mommy forums are getting together for an outing this morning, and then going out for dinner tonight, sans kids.  I am really looking forward to it. :)
  • I know I keep saying this, but honestly, Stacey is such a blessing in our lives.  I hope she knows just how much I appreciate her help, and just how much of my sanity she has managed to save. (And I know you're reading this, so seriously: Thank you!)
  • The promise of warmer weather, even if it's only for a couple of days.  I really need the sunshine.
  • The library.  Oh, how I've missed you.  Sorry about that fine from two years ago that I just paid, but I've changed.  I'm a better person, now.  I promise I'll never abandon you again. Love and hugs and stuff.
  • This blog, and all of my mommy forums.  It is so nice to have a place where I can be honest about my short-comings, and find out that I am not alone.  To each and every person who reads this: Thank you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Photos!

Just chillin' in his cute little duds. :)

All wrapped up after a bath.

Can you believe he still plays with this thing?
It's a favorite, even if he officially 'outgrew' it
months ago.

Sliding at the indoor playground at the mall.
And, as a special treat this week, a short little video. :)

video

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blowing Fire

So, I may have mentioned that my child occasionally watches that evil device known as a television, right?  Well, his favorite show is a beautiful little cartoon called, "Jane and the Dragon".  It's about a young girl, destined to be a lady-in-waiting, who has managed to earn the right to train for knighthood.  Her best friend is a full-sized, fire-breathing, snarky dragon.  This show is pure genius, in so many ways.  But, that's not the point.

The point is that this adorable show has been the catalyst for Miles' very first bout of pretend play.  He adores the show, and often gets very excited and jumps up when Dragon comes on the screen.  The other day, Dragon got really frustrated with a situation, and threw his head back, exhaling a stream of flame into the air.  Miles immediately threw his head back, exhaling sharply out of his lower lip.

I gasped.  I must have, because he turned to look at me.  "Miles?" I asked, "are you blowing fire like Dragon?"  He grinned, and did it again.  Since then, whenever he is frustrated with the world, he throws his head back and 'breathes fire'.

Then, on Tuesday, as Dragon flew off into the sky at the end of the episode, Miles threw his arms out to the sides, flapping them up and down like wings, and ran around the room, blowing fire.  He was pretending to be Dragon.

And they tried to make me feel guilty for letting him watch TV. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Heart the Mall

Like, big, pink, puffy, middle-school girl-with-a-crush hearts.  And possibly flowers, too.  Which is funny, since yesterday I talked about my hatred of shopping.  And under normal circumstances, I hate the mall with the fire of a thousand burning suns.  But, on a weekday, an hour before any of the stores open, it's simply a big, open, warm place to take a walk with my crazy-busy, active toddler.

So, at nine o'clock yesterday morning, I bundled Miles into the van and drove the half mile or so to the mall.  I took the stroller in, but for most of the morning, he walked beside me, running at times to keep up with my rather rapid pace.*  We stopped at the coffee shop inside the bookstore (one of the very few stores open at that ungodly hour), where I purchased a chai for me, and a blueberry scone for us to share.  And then, we walked the mall.  Like a pair of weight-conscious baby-boomers.  Except cuter.  Every few steps, Miles would stop and ask "more, please" and I would give him another bite of scone, and he would sign "thank you" (from his ear, but whatever, his mouth was busy chewing).  And then, we would continue walking, and nibbling, sipping our respective drinks, just chatting and enjoying one another's company.

Yeah, I can totally dig on the mall.

*I try to slow down for him, I really do.  It just doesn't always work very well . . .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Hate Shopping

Seriously.  Especially if Miles is with me.  What could have been a ten minute run in to Wal-Mart by myself turned into an hour-long ordeal that included a zillion mini-meltdowns.

I mean, I get it.  Wal-Mart is about the worst place in the world for a toddler*.  It's huge.  And over-poweringly bright.  Everywhere you look, there are products stacked from floor to ceiling in endless rows.  Around every corner is a TV, blaring out a commercial for a nearby product.  People run in every direction, often with no patience or concern for those around them.  And finding anything is a challenge.  I almost always walk out with a headache.

I can only imagine what it must be like for Miles.  Everything that I already mentioned?  He sees that, too, except intensified.  A small gym seems like a huge space to a toddler - something the size of your average Wal-Mart must seem like an impossible distance.  The brightness makes it hard to look up, which is terrible if everything is above you.  The walls of products must seem like a never-ending labyrinth of products so bright that your eye jumps from one to the next before it has had a chance to process.  There is simply so much input.  And his little brain?  Is a sponge.  And on top of all that?  He is confined to the cart - an extremely small and uncomfortable space that he has zero control over.

I can totally understand why my kid was the Tantrum King today.  In fact, I'm kinda surprised I didn't throw a few fits, myself.

Oh, glorious internet, become awesome enough that I don't have to step foot in one of those evil stores ever again.  Deliver everything to my door, please.  Or, better yet, bring back the dimly lit frontier General Store, with its few shelves of dry goods, attended by a clerk who brings everything to the counter for you.

Because this whole Wal-Mart/Target/Grocery Store idea? It sucks.

*And honestly?  Every store is like this.  I just happened to be at a Wal-Mart today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bad Mommy Mondays

This week's list of reasons I am a Bad Mommy.  It's a little short.  We've been indoors all week, so we've had fewer opportunities to be judged. :)  Enjoy!
  1. I don't want more kids.  If I truly loved being a mommy, I would continue to reproduce.  If I truly cared about Miles, I would give him a playmate.  Even if the thought of going through pregnancy and the newborn stage again (this time with a toddler in tow) makes me want to vomit.  I should be barefoot and pregnant already, dammit.
  2. Despite my best efforts, my child is not a good sleeper, and never has been.  Apparently, if I would just [let him cry it out/rock him to sleep every night/random other useless advice] he would be sleeping just fine.  And I need to fix this now, because obviously it's going to affect him for the rest of his life.  He will always have sleep issues if I don't fix them right this minute.  In fact, it may already be too late!!! 
  3. I blog.  Which means I must be ignoring my kid to do so.  Because, you know, I should be watching him even when he sleeps.
  4. I stay at home with my son, rather than going to work and helping to 'provide' for him.  Yeah, this little gem actually came from another stay-at-home mom.  Who doesn't work at all.
  5. I work.  I may take my child with me, but there's no way I'm actually interacting with him at all, so the poor guy must be suffering horribly.  Never mind the fact that he's quite happy to go to the office, and will actually sign bye-bye and go for the door when I mention the word, "work".
  6. I act as a short-order cook some days.  Miles has just hit that picky stage.  Psychology says that this is just a sign that he's discovering his control over his environment.  One of the ways he can control it is to refuse to eat.  So, I offer him three or four different foods at some meals, trying to get him to eat something.  Apparently, this means I'm setting him up to be incredibly picky.  Who cares if he is too young to understand the idea of "you eat what you're given"?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Okay, so I swore I would never talk about sleep again, but. . .

This isn't exactly about sleep.  More about a cute little routine that happens pre-sleep.  It's more about reading, really, and cuteness, and . . . you know what?  I'm going to stop talking and just tell you the story already. . .*

I have been blessed with a child who adores books.  He will sit and 'read' to himself.  He can choose his favorite books off of the shelf by looking at the spine.  He can stare at pictures for ages.  But, inevitably, it ends with him bringing me a book, and signing "please book?"

I love reading with my son.  It's one of the few times he will still cuddle with me, voluntarily.  He loves to point out his favorite parts of the pictures.  He likes to turn the pages for me, and he knows exactly when to do it on all of his favorite books.  But the best?  We save that for a sleepy-time book.

"Guess How Much I Love You?" begins with Little Nutbrown Hare trying to tell Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him.  Big Nutbrown Hare says he loves him more, and it goes back and forth.  It ends with Little Nutbrown Hare saying, "I love you right up to the moon!"  Big Nutbrown Hare settles him into bed, and kisses him good-night, and then lays down close by.  The book ends with Big Nutbrown Hare saying, "I love you right up to the moon - and back."

As we near the end of the book each time, Miles snuggles in, turning the pages the instant I've finished reading them.  When Big Nutbrown Hare kisses Little Nutbrown Hare good-night, Miles leans his face up, asking for his own good-night kiss.  And as the two hares settle down for the night, Miles curls up on my chest, and goes quiet.  His eyes are usually closing as I put away the book.  And for just a moment, all is right in the world.

*If you don't know me, I totally do this every.single.time I tell a story.  My friends are saints.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Battles & Blessings

Battles:

  • Snowmageddon.
  • Have I mentioned that I hate snow?
  • We haven't left the house in five days.  Cabin fever is rampant.  We will get out today.
  • Sleep issues that came out of nowhere.  Blargh.  So frustrating.
  • Clingy, cranky toddler.  Part of it is probably cabin fever, but I wonder if he's sick, too?
  • Complete lack of motivation paired with exhaustion.  I haven't accomplished anything this week. :(
  • Miles' eczema.  It's flaring up again, even though we've been really careful about avoiding dairy.
  • The pull of the television.  I hate having it on a lot, but frankly, I don't have the energy for much more.  
  • The lack of a Stacey.  She's house-sitting for a friend, and I am definitely missing her company.  And her help with the dishes. :)
Blessings:

  • Patrick.  Yep, same as always.  Without his support, I couldn't manage.  Especially on weeks like this.
  • Miles has been way more interactive lately.  He is using a combination of signs and vocalizations to communicate, and has figured out how to ask for a lot of different things.  And when we sing songs, he either dances like crazy, or attempts to copy the hand motions I do.  He loves this so much that he always applauds afterward.
  • Great conversations with great friends.  
  • NPR.  We always turn the radio in Miles' room to public radio for naptime.  For the first time in awhile, I actually feel well-versed on what's going on in the world.  Yay!  Input!
  • Sesame Street.  Oh, how I've missed you.
  • The prospect of a couple of hours out of the house by myself (even if it is to go grocery shopping), followed by a quiet evening, and fun-filled Commercial Party tomorrow.*
Have a great weekend!

*It's just irritating that they keep interrupting our commercials with some weird sports thing.  Jerks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I am never talking about his sleep habits again

Yeah, after that wonderful explanation of our new sleep routines and how wonderful they were, Miles has had two terrible sleep days in a row.  He's even throwing tantrums in the middle of the night - something he hasn't done in a really long time.

Ugh.  No more sleep updates.  It just seems to jinx me.

Friday Photos!

Another shot from our last photo shoot.  This was
toward the end.  Can you tell?  Doesn't he look a tad
disheveled?  Still adorable, though, no?

Reading in his recliner.  In his overalls.  Could he
be any cuter?

A photo taken with the webcam on my netbook.  It looks so
stereotypical of a teenager's Facebook pic that I couldn't
resist including it here.  I'm sure he'll hate me later for this. :)

Chillin' on the couch with Dominic.  Snow days are good for that.
Stay warm, and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mommy's Little Mimic

I have to tell you, I am loving toddlerhood.  The independence.  The personality.  The communication.

One of my favorite things, though, is having my own personal mimic.  It's hysterical (and a little bit scary) to see him act out things he has seen me do.  And it's not always immediately.  On the contrary, it's often hours - or even days - later, when he suddenly breaks out with something unexpected.

Most recently, it was a dance move.  To be fair, this kid has been copying dance moves for ages - he was copying gypsy dances before his first birthday.  But, Monday was the first time he has copied my silliness and turned it into a dance move.

Let me back up and explain, for those who don't have toddlers, that one of the best ways to entertain them is with a dance party.  Turn on the tunes and just go for it.  The crazier your moves, the more they enjoy it.  So, while listening to Remarkable Cows from Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens CD,* Mommy broke out her Rockette's style kick-line.  All by myself.  And I may or may not have fallen over at the end of it.  But only because I was kicking and shaking my foot wildly to induce a Giggle Fit.

Two hours later, when Miles played the ABC song on his music table, I saw those same high kicks coming from my son.  He was shrieking with laughter, wiggling his butt, waving his arms, and kicking his leg up every couple of steps.  When the song ended, he fell over backward and wiggled his feet for all he was worth.

And then, of course, he applauded himself.

*Seriously, go find this book/CD combo if you have a toddler.  It is the.best.  Bar none.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Juice Ritual

I honestly can't believe I haven't talked about this before now.  This is, by far, one of my favorite things that Patrick has ever taught Miles.

Miles has always been a very 'thirsty' kid.  He can suck down a cup of juice or milk in no time flat, and then asks for more.  He has been known to do this over and over and over and over and . . . well, you get the idea.  The problem is that my little toddler-man is really impatient.  It was getting to the point that every refill became a race to fill the cup and return it to Miles before he noticed.  It was a race I usually lost.  He ended up frustrated, which made me frustrated, which just led to all sorts of unhappiness.

Until one day when Patrick was home.  Rather than racing to finish the job, Patrick calmly sat down on the floor and allowed Miles to help.  What began as a simple task of holding the lids while we poured has turned into what we lovingly refer to as the Juice Ritual (even if it's done with milk).

We take the cup into the kitchen, and the parent sits on the floor and opens the refrigerator door.  Miles goes to the refrigerator, and pulls out the container for his choice of drink (either milk or juice - we keep them both on the bottom shelf).  Then, he closes the refrigerator door, and pops a squat across from the parent.  Parent will then loosen the lid on the container, and Miles will unscrew it.  Meanwhile, Parent removes the top from the cup.  Both lids are then placed in the loving care of Miles, while Parent pours the liquid.  Miles then returns the lids to their proper places, and works on screwing the top back onto the juice container while Parent closes the cup.  Parent re-opens the refrigerator, and Miles then picks up the container, and puts it back in the refrigerator and closes the door.  He is rewarded with a full cup, and a high five.  We, in turn, are rewarded with a notable lack of shrieking and a smile of pride on his tiny face.  And five minutes of relative peace until he finishes that cup. :)

He loves that fattening juice! :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Did you notice?

So, I've changed up the design a bit.  The old one was a little too feminine for me, so I did a custom design.  What do you think?  Do you like it?  Should I change it?  Go back to the old design?  Other thoughts?

Sleep Update

Okay, I have to talk about sleep.  I have talked for months about Miles being a terrible sleeper.  How he wouldn't sleep through the night for the longest time.  How awful bedtimes were.  How we would fight.  And how naps were even worse.

All of this is true.  I feel like I didn't sleep for the first 15 months of Miles' life.  Because I didn't.  His sleep habits were awful, despite my many attempts to change them.  Rocking him to sleep resulted in a baby who could only nap while being held.  Attempts to let him 'cry it out' ended with all of us in tears, sometimes after Miles had cried so hard that he had made himself puke.  Nothing we tried seemed to work.

Then, while browsing our local Half Price Book Store just after Christmas, I came across a book titled, "The No Cry Sleep Solution".  I had heard of it many a time on my mommy forums, and had been given a basic overview of the method.  I thought it would never work for us.  Still, after 15 months of sleeplessness, I was ready to try anything.  So, I bought the book, and I read the entire thing in an afternoon.*

I don't think I'd be overstating things to say that this book changed my life.  In the most honest, realistic, and practical way possible: I managed to get my kid to sleep.

Much of the book focuses on how small children sleep.  What they need, physiologically, and why getting there can be so difficult.  I thought I was a child psychology guru, but the author gave me a million new insights into my son.  And, she gave me a list of things to try to help him sleep better.  More than anything, she reiterated over and over that there is no single solution that gets every child to sleep.  There are, however, a number of tried and true tips that can help set the stage for getting a child to sleep.  The day after reading the book, I put a few of these tips into practice.

First, and most importantly, I re-evaluated what I wanted out of a bedtime (and nap time) routine.  After a little soul searching, I realized that I was being inconsistent with his routine, because I wasn't certain what was acceptable.  Was it okay to rock him to sleep?  Or should I just put him straight in bed?  Eventually (and after much discussion with Patrick), we decided that our long-term goal included a few minutes of cuddling in the recliner before putting him to bed.  Going in with that plan helped us immensely.

The other major thing we discovered was that Miles was fighting naps because he probably didn't realize they were just naps.  At bedtime every night, we turned out all of the lights, turned off all of the noise (other than the constant hum of his humidifier and fan), and then rocked him, and put him in bed.  The problem was, we did the exact same thing at nap time.  Because his little toddler brain is not able to read our minds, he thought we were putting him to bed for the night - sometimes after he'd only been awake for a few hours.  Looking back, it's obvious why he fought it.  We began turning on the radio at a low volume, and leaving on a lamp for naps.  Within two days, the fighting at nap time stopped almost entirely.

From all of this, and with a little patience, we were also able to establish a consistent daily routine with him - one that is predictable for all of us.  It's not a set-in-stone schedule, by any means, but it does allow everyone to know what to expect.  And with naps no longer a major fighting point, we're all breathing a little easier, and stressing out a whole lot less.

Just within the past couple of weeks, bedtimes have become a little slice of heaven.  We cuddle in the recliner, and read a few books, then turn out the lights and rock for about five more minutes.  Then, he goes into the crib - still awake, but sleepy - where he rolls over, and snuggles in for the night.  No fuss, and no fighting.  Just a sweet little way to end our days.

I no longer dread bedtime.  Or naps.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

*Okay, okay, I only skimmed the parts that didn't apply to me, but still. . .