Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Trap of Mother's Day Out

Miles attends a Mother's Day Out program two days a week.  In theory, this gives me time to do all of the things that are difficult to do with a rowdy toddler in tow.  Usually, my to-do list looks something like this:

  • Pick up a couple of items from the store
  • Stop at the post office
  • Make sweet tea, lemonade, etc for the week
  • Bake cookies or other yummies
  • Finish a dozen or so craft projects
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Vacuum the whole house
  • Clean out Miles' room, and thin out his toy hoard
  • Clean out the garage/basement
  • Drop off items to be donated at Goodwill
  • Do all of the laundry in the whole house
  • Write blog posts
  • Shower in peace
  • Brush the cat
  • Do some gardening
  • Take a nice, long nap
Etc, etc, etc.  Often, my list goes on for pages beyond anything I could conceivably accomplish in a mere five hours.  And, in looking at the daunting to-dos, I get overwhelmed and my brain fries, and I lose all sense of what to do first.  So, instead, my 'Things Accomplished' list looks more like this:
  • Go to store, pick up a dozen things we don't need and forget the one thing we do
  • Drive past the post office with the intention to stop in later
  • Make myself a quick lunch
  • Sit in front of the television while I eat, and then get stuck there for the rest of the day.
  • Try to do a load of laundry, a load of dishes, and vacuum the living room in the last half hour before I have to pick up Miles.
Sigh.  Apparently, I cannot be trusted to accomplish anything when left to my own devices. . . 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Photos!

First Day of School - Wednesday

"I aim to misbehave" (ala Firefly)

Sir Miles Toppam Hat and Bear
Could he get any cuter? Oh, my.

Snuggles with Grandpa Troy

Chillin' with Great Grandpa

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Miles has been so much fun, lately.  I'm finding that I just adore his little blonde head a little more everyday.  I love how he likes to fall asleep holding my hand, and how he always has a kiss for me.  I love watching him play, and learn, and laugh.  I am so lucky to be home with him all the time now.

Since you all don't get to be here, I figured you might like a list of his latest antics:

  • He found one of Patrick's fedoras and has been wearing it non-stop.  A common sight in our house now is Miles, sans pants, strutting around with his hands behind his back and telling people he's "cross".  Apparently, he's decided he is Sir Toppam Hat from the Thomas videos.  Minus the pants, of course. . .
  • He constantly sings "We Are the Champions" at the top of his lungs, usually while kicking a soccer ball around the living room.  Random Stranger Guy even stopped me one day in the grocery store to tell me how awesome my kid is for singing Queen.  Yep, RSG, I know.
  • Miles is becoming a more serious, studious, focused child, but when he hears a bodily function, he giggles like mad.
  • He's ridiculously good at operating all technological devices.  In fact, he keeps introducing me to new features on my phone and my Nook.
  • He adores our poor cat.  He loves to give her hugs and kisses, and on the rare occasion that I don't stop him quickly enough, he loves to pick her up for a good strong squeeze.
  • He asks non-stop for Ogre Bites - frozen bits of yogurt that I thought were called Yogurt Bites. :)
  • He can successfully sign most letters in sign-language.  He still struggles with a few that require greater dexterity than his chubby hands can muster, but it is freaking adorable to watch him sign as he sings his ABC's. :)
  • His memory - which has always been rather impressive - just gets better and better.  He will ask for things that we haven't had or done in months.  Recently, he's been asking to go to the Festival - even though it's been almost a year since the last time he went.
  • It is now Miles' job to set the table for dinner.  He walks around the table, "Plate for Mommy. Plate for Miles. Plate for Daddy.  Fork for Mommy. Fork for Miles. Fork for Daddy." and so on.  Then, we all sit down, and Miles folds his hands for prayer, and often says the prayer (a shortened version, sure).  When he's done eating, he asks to be excused, then feeds the cat and takes his vitamin.  The whole process is so sweet.  I think it's my favorite part of the day.
There are so many more, I could fill pages. . . Guess I'll stop here and save some for another day. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Growing up, I was that 'weird' kid who looked forward to the start of school every year.  New teacher, new friends, new things to learn - it was super-exciting.  I would spend the entire summer asking my mom when we could go back.  Oftentimes, I would beg to enroll on my birthday, as a special treat.

It's exciting to watch Miles get excited, now.  All summer, when I would ask "Where do you want to go today?" Miles would ask, "School, please?"  And he would be truly disappointed when I told him, "Not yet."  At the beginning of August, we made a paper chain - one link for each day before school started.  We've taken them off one by one, and I've watched Miles' excitement grow as the chain shrinks.

Today, there is only one link left.  Today, Miles gets to go meet his new teacher, and tomorrow is his first full day with her.  We don't have to leave for two hours, and already, I can barely keep him from running out the door half-naked, ready to get back to something he loves so much.

I live for moments like this. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Friday Photos!

Okay, there is some serious cute happening in this post, so I'll warm you up with some basic stuff first:

A bike on the front of a bus.  Best.Thing.Ever.


Playing in the fountains

This was such a perfect moment.

Crashed out in Mommy's bed.

Playing with cars.
Did you die of cute?  Because I think I might have.  I love this boy so much. . . <3

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I suck at routine

I suck at routines.

No, really.  So much so that when I told Patrick I wasn't good at routines, he laughed and said, "I know."

But, I have a toddler, now.  Routines are supposed to help.  Actually, from the time I spent in schools, and in college studying such things, I know kids - especially toddlers and preschoolers - thrive on routine.  I know this spontaneous streak of mine is rough on him.  I remember how exciting it was for my parents to whisk me away on another adventure at any given moment.  I also remember that the rest of the time, the routine was nice.

So, in an attempt to force myself to stick to a routine, I'm going to post my routine here, and try to update it once every week or two, just to make sure I'm actually doing it.  Hold me to it!  If I go more than two weeks without updating the internet on our current schedule, please remind me!  Because it's even odds as to whether I just forgot to update, or I just flaked on routine again. . .

Anyhow: Proposed Routine - August 2012

Wake up (usually around 7:30) until 8:45 am - Breakfast and quiet tv time while I drink my coffee and become human
8:45 - 9:00 am - Get dressed and ready for the day. [Take Miles to the bathroom again]
9:00 - 11:30 am - Field Trip (even if it's just walking to the nearby playground, or playing in our own backyard - anything OUT of the house)
11:30 am - 12:00 pm - LUNCH [Bathroom]
12:00 - 12:30 pm - Quiet playtime, wind down time with Miles.  Books, puzzles, etc.
12:30 - 2:00 pm - Nap.  I'm going to try to stick to this time, so it's consistent with his school nap time.
2:00 - 2:30 pm - Snack and quiet cuddle time with mommy.  Books optional. [Bathroom]
2:30 - 2:45 pm - Learning activities (even if it's just coloring or playing with stickers)
2:45 - 3:30 pm - Miles and Mommy play time.  No electronic devices or distractions.
3:30 - 4:00 pm - Miles independent play time.  Mommy does housework, etc. [Bathroom]
4:00 - 4:30 pm - Fun activity in the kitchen - play doh, paint, water, etc
4:30 - 5:30 pm - Miles independent play while Mommy makes dinner

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teaching and Learning

When I started this whole motherhood thing, I knew I would be responsible for teaching Miles almost everything.  From eating and talking and taking his first steps to sharing and friendship and hospitality, and so much more.  I expected that.  I knew it was coming, and truth be told, it terrified me a little.  But at least I knew it was coming.

What I didn't expect was how much I would learn from Miles.  How he would inspire me everyday, in a million tiny ways.  And I don't just mean, "I'm the mom, so I have to do XYZ".  I mean touching, inspirational moments that change me all the way to the core.

Yesterday was a lesson in Perseverance.  I am quite aware that I struggle with this.  I have an unhealthy habit of giving up when the going gets rough.  Especially if I'm physically challenged in any way.  It is easier on my body and my ego when I simply choose not to do something, rather than fail at it.

I took Miles to the skating rink* yesterday morning for their Tiny Tot Skate.  I figured that he would figure it out pretty quickly and enjoy it, since he tends to be a fairly athletic little man.

Yeah, not so much.

The initial problem was that he wanted to run, and couldn't figure out why his feet kept flying out from under him.  If you've met Miles, you know that he has two speeds: a million miles an hour and asleep.  He would stand up, and start to take off, only to wind up on his rear, over and over again.  For an hour and a half.  Each time he would fall, he would struggle his way back to his feet and try again.  Eventually, he slowed down enough to go 5-6 steps before he fell, but never much more.  And yet, over and over again, he stood up, balanced himself, and started again, looking to the older, more experienced kids for ideas.  About halfway through, he tried using the wall for balance, as he had seen others do, and managed to get halfway around the rink before setting off alone - and promptly falling again.

He didn't get frustrated.  He didn't give up.  A triumphant smile as he stood and balanced, followed by a determined scowl of concentration as he set off.

It was hard, but he kept at it, and in the end, he left a little sore, but smiling.

I love this kid.

*Yes, a roller skating rink.  I know, I thought they were all gone, too. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Allergy Fog

For the first time ever, I am ready for winter and a good, long, deep freeze.

Because of the unusually warm winter we had, the allergens are at an all-time high, which means that Patrick and I can barely function some days.  My daily Claritin regiment is barely able to keep my eyes from watering, and nothing will stop the itching and the runny nose.  Adding Benadryl helps, but then I spend the next four hours trying desperately to stay awake.

The allergy fog is so bad right now that I didn't even realize that my 30 by 30 post yesterday?  Yeah, I totally didn't update the last half of it before I posted.  It wasn't until I read it this morning that I realized that.  I may go back and fix it later, and I may not.  It depends on how much of the day I spend trying to claw my eyes out.

But, just to prove that life goes on, regardless:

I must really love this kid.  Look at all of those allergens . . . :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

30 by 30 Update

With only a year (and a few days) left in this challenge, I thought I should update.  I'm a little appalled at how many things I have left to do.  However, I'm also a little impressed with all I've done so far. :)
  1. Read thirty books off of the list of top 100 banned books.
    • Fahrenheit 451
    • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    • Catcher in the Rye
    • In the Midnight Kitchen
    • Brave New World
  2. Make thirty crafts I have not tried before.  Bonus points if each serves a practical purpose. 
    1. Stencil t-shirts.
    2. Flower barrettes/headbands
    3. Girl's skirt from t-shirt
    4. Tree for stuffed animals for Miles' room (in progress).
    5. Polka dots for Miles' wall.
    6. Silhouette art for my wall.
    7. Steampunk Clock wall art
    8. Crocheted headbands
    9. Crocheted blanket (in progress)
  3. Choreograph a dance for my children's group.  All by myself.
    1. Ergo Sum - Which will be debuted at the Festival in less than a month.
  4. Take 30,000 pictures.
    1. 6500 so far
  5. Cook or bake 30 dishes I have never made before.
    1. Homemade Salsa
    2. Easier Homemade Salsa
    3. Stuffed Pork Chops
    4. Easy Chicken Pasta
    5. Chicken Noodle Soup
    6. Baked Ham & Fixin's
  6. Watch 30 classic movies I've never seen.
    1. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
    2. "The Seven Year Itch"
    3. "Casablanca"
  7. Learn to knit or crochet.
    1. Hand-Knitting: Accomplished.  Not fond of it, but I can do it.
    2. Crocheting: Accomplished.  Multiple baby hats, headbands, and various accessories created.  Crocheted headband sold on Etsy.
    3. Loom-Knitting: Accomplished.  Hate it.
    4. Finger Knitting: Accomplished.  Prefer crochet.
  8. Take a dance lesson, or preferably, a dance class.
  9. Take Miles to a new museum/event/activity/experience at least once a month.
    1. August 2011 through March 2012: Don't remember what all we did, but I did keep up.
    2. April 2012 - WonderScope
    3. May 2012 - Floating Lanterns trip planned for Memorial Day weekend
  10. Simplify my life by getting rid of things I do not need.
    1. Donated 4 boxes to Goodwill between Dec. 2011 and May 2012
  11. Organize all of our household paperwork, and keep up on it.
  12. Start my own business.  Even if it's just selling a few craft items online from time to time.
    1. Etsy business established.  Two items sold, custom made, and delivered.
  13. Finish illustrating the children's book I wrote in college.
  14. Open a savings account for Miles.
  15. Send birthday cards to everyone in my immediate circle of family/friends for at least one year.
  16. Take Dominic through obedience classes.
  17. Decide if/when I'm going to go back for my Master's degree, and what I'm going to study.
  18. Audition for a musical.
  19. Quit my Festival job and become a full-time stay-at-home mom. Find a better balance between work and mommyhood, whether that means quitting my job or not.
    1. Done. 
  20. Compile my music collection into one place.
    1. In-roads have been made.  Technology is fighting me. Boo.
  21. Get a digital copy of every important photograph I have, and store them in a safe place.
    1. Process begun.
  22. Finish my digital family tree.
    1. Using, family tree is now accurate to at least three generations on every side. Not sure when I'll consider it "finished".
  23. Exercise every single day for at least 30 days.
    1. So far, three times a week has been my best record.
  24. Learn at least 30 new signs for use at Special Olympics.
    1. "How many tickets?" - Need refresher.
    2. "Which?" - Need refresher.
    3. "Where is your coach?" - Need to learn.
    4. "Which events are you competing in?" - Need to learn
    5. "What time?" - Need to learn.
    6. Responses to "What time?" - Need to learn.
    7. "Where is your interpreter?" - Need to learn
    8. "She's/He's not here." - Need to learn.
    9. "She's busy with her child(ren)." - Need to learn.
    10. "I don't know much sign language." - Need to learn.
    11. "Do you want:" - Need to learn
    12. "Stuffed animals?" - Need to learn.
    13. "Candy?" - Need refresher.
    14. "Ball?" - Need refresher
    15. "Puzzle?" - Need to learn
    16. "Necklace?" - Need to learn
  25. Learn to play at least ten new games.
  26. Become more involved in the financial planning of our household.
    1. Downloaded an app to help track finances.  It was horrible, and reset to zero at the end of each month.  Trying to find a better one.
    2. As of mid-July, I have taken over budgeting and spending for the household account.
  27. Set up our wills, and arrange for custody of Miles, should anything unfortunate happen.
  28. Find a church where my family is comfortable, and become an active member.
  29. Participate in a flash mob. - DONE!
  30. Contact at least ten of my teachers from elementary, middle, high school, and college, and tell them how they have influenced my life.
    1. Mrs. Alexander - Freshman & Senior College-Bound English
    2. Mrs. Heath - Kindergarten
    3. Mr. Simmons - Middle & High School Gifted

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Photos

Okay.  Back to normal today.  My beautiful boy. :)

Eating a Cookie Monster cookie the
size of his head.

Cool dude.

Playing trains - aka any given moment in our house.

Science Experiment turned water play. :)

This is what life is about, folks.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Just Love

I try really hard to stay out of politics because I firmly believe that it's not worth it.  Politics-talk has a way of polarizing people, and hurting people's feelings, and in the end, only serves to make people angry.

Well, prepare yourselves, because I'm about to polarize, hurt, and anger a few people.

Let's talk gay rights.

As a friend of mine once said to me, there's no such thing as 'gay' rights.  Just like there's no such thing as 'straight' rights.  Just human rights.  The rights of all people to be treated with respect and dignity.  Regardless of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  People have rights, whether they are straight or gay, black or white, male or female, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or Atheist.

You believe that homosexuality is a sin?  Fine.  I frankly don't care to argue that with you.  It's not my job to dictate your belief system.  Even if I disagree with you.

You believe that homosexuality is a choice? Fine.  You're ignoring the mountain of scientific proof that it isn't - not to mention the personal experiences of millions of homosexuals who can tell you with certainty that they didn't choose it, any more than we 'straight' people choose to fall in love with someone of the opposite sex.  It just happens.  But that's not the point, either.

The point is that these people - gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people - are humans.  They are people.  They have hopes, dreams, ambitions, goals, problems, joys, sorrows, jobs, and lives.  They aren't some 'other' to be feared.  They are not out to get you.  They're not trying to 'turn' your children.  They simply want to live, peacefully and with dignity, just like you and me.  Only with a same-sex partner.

So before you begin spewing your hate next time, I want you to remember this: You are talking about real people.  Your brothers, or sisters, or children.  Your nieces, nephews, cousins.  Your friends.  Chances are, someone you know and love is gay.  And you can choose to hurt them, kill their spirit and convince them that they are evil. Or you can choose to love them.  And in the end, your choice will speak volumes about who you are.  Not them.

I'm not here to change your mind, or to tell you how to live your life.  I am here to tell you to stop the cycle of hatred, and replace it with a cycle of Love.  And if you can't handle that, then perhaps you need to take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself why.

It's not about chicken, or Boy Scouts, or even who someone loves.  It's about shutting your mouth until you have something kind to say.  After all, that Bible you quote so heavily also says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."  No exceptions.  No judgments.

Just Love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Olympics

It was summer 1996.  I was 12, almost 13, and between the hell of my seventh and eighth grade years.  The weather was fantastic, but no one cared.  Because the Olympics were in Atlanta, and the Women's Gymnastics Team was poised to win it all.  We were glued to our television sets, holding our breath for every flip and gasping at every release.  We were mesmerized.  And then Kerry Strug happened.

It was the vault, and every move was perfect and beautiful, but as she stuck the perfect landing, we watched the tears, and saw the limp of a badly sprained ankle.  We were near tears ourselves, watching the pain in that young woman's face, knowing that she couldn't get a decent score without her second run.  She made it all the way to the Olympics only to lose her chance one pass too soon.  Then, we watched, awestruck, as she hobbled to the starting line a second time, ran, leapt, flipped, and stuck a perfect landing for a full two seconds before hopping off, tears streaming down her face.  That nearly-perfect run resulted in her broken ankle and gold medals for the Magnificent Seven US Women's Gymnastics Team.

Since that night, I haven't managed to watch the Olympics once.  Until last night.

As I watched the Women's Gymnastics Team last night, I couldn't help but remember those beautiful young women, only a few years older than myself.  And I watched this year's team, thinking how young they look.  They're high schoolers, every one.  Did they go to homecoming last year?  Or did they skip it to train for the Olympics?  Do they make fun of their Biology teacher the way we did?  Is there a teacher they've bonded with, or are they too busy thinking through their routines?  To what extent are they typical teenagers?

But those musings disappeared completely as I watched.  At one point, the American team led the Russians by mere fractions of a point, and I watched as that lead was slowly eroded on the uneven bars.  I held my breath for every release, gasped at every flip, and sighed with relief with every landing, whether it was perfect or not, because there were no injuries.  I choked up watching a girl from the Russian team crying after a less-than-perfect turn at the uneven bars, and I had tears in my eyes another young Russian bounced off the balance beam and nearly fell over.  Twice.  For a few hours, I didn't care if the Americans or the Russians won.  They all were working so hard, and no matter who won, it would be because they had earned it.

Finally, it was time for the Floor Exercise - my favorite event, by far.  Going in, the Americans led the Russians by only a little over a point.  And we all watched as one young lady from Team USA crashed to the ground on her warm-up.  It truly was up in the air going in.

And then the routines began, and I stopped worrying about who would win.  Because they were so incredibly beautiful as they danced and flipped, their faces beaming with joy for the first time all night.  This was an event they enjoyed.  And with good reason.  They were good.  They were so good that they made the back handsprings, spins, and lifts look easy.  I watched in awe as one young lady landed on her belly, and then raised herself back to standing, without bending, as if raised by invisible strings from behind, landing elegantly on her toes.  And her face glowed. 

In the end, Team USA took the gold, but really?  That was less exciting than the sheer, awe-inspiring beauty of three women doing what they loved, and doing it with beauty, grace, and smiles.