Monday, March 31, 2008

Anticipating April

April is going to be an exciting month! My mom is coming up for a few days (woohoo!). I haven't seen her in a year, which makes me cry if I think about it too much. R's fourth birthday is nearly here. And, I'm taking a few days off. Hooray!

I need to find (or make) invitations for R's big birthday bash ASAP, even though his friends party isn't until early May. That's my goal for this week.

Then, I need to get A's office ready for my mom's arrival because it doubles as our guest room. I had to take pictures so I can show the transformation later. Isn't his office horrible? I feel like these are the "Before" pictures on "Mission: Organization" or "Clean Sweep" on HGTV. And, yes, that is a COFFEE TABLE on top of his desk. That's his organization system. Also, see how the blinds are open on the windows? I did that for the pictures. A never opens the blinds, so it usually looks a cave or dungeon in there. Grrr. So, we're heading to IKEA this weekend to get some new pillows and other things to make the room look a little more homey. (I didn't take any pictures of the futon because I didn't want to scare my mother off.) And, I'll take any excuse to go to IKEA. :-)

My other big project before my mom gets here is hanging up family pictures in the living room. We've had a huge blank wall since we moved in FIVE YEARS AGO. A couple of months ago, I bought some really nice big frames and laid out on the floor how I wanted to hang them. I also have a bunch of smaller frames that have R's school pictures - those will go on either side of the big frames. And, I made templates from grocery bags so that I could recreate the layout on the wall. But that's as far as I got. Now, people keep commenting on our "art." Part of the problem is going back through years and years of photos to find the ones I want to include in the frames, then have them printed. That's my roadblock. It seems so daunting to find the 10-15 pictures that represent R and the rest of our family best. But I'm determined to get that done in the next week or so!

This weekend, I finally allowed myself to buy us a slow cooker. I've been sort of fascinated with them for a long time and I've been reading online about people's adventures with them. Right now, I'm cooking a whole chicken in mine, along with onions, celery, and carrots. It smells amazing, but one of the chicken legs is turning purple, as if it had a giant bruise. That doesn't seem normal, does it? I will let you know if we all end up with food poisoning...

For my final bit of random information for today, R started reading this weekend!!! He really and truly sounded out entire words and figured them out by himself. I am so proud of him. We haven't been pushing him, just helping him put letters together, hopefully with no pressure. Whenever he's protested, we just read for him. But he was pretty excited about doing it himself. I really think introducing the "Calvin and Hobbes" comics to him helped. This picture is of how I find him on the couch one day - belly down, with the Calvin and Hobbes book splayed open underneath him.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Prepare to be amazed

That's what my devotional was about this morning. I thought about that on my way to work. At first, I was amazed by negative things. I decided to walk to the subway station today instead of waiting for the bus, even though it was cold, rainy, and dreary. And, I was amazed by the amount of trash on the ground. I was amazed at how many cars ran a red light. I was amazed by the forlorn faces of people waiting at other bus stops along the way.

But then I started to look for God's hand. I was amazed by the buds on the trees and the daffodil sprouts and tulip leaves pushing up through the ground. In spite of all the garbage we produce and the damage we do to the Earth, God's amazing creation manages to keep going and bring forth new life.

I was amazed by the number of people who were walking along with me. It made me happy to see others saving gas and getting exercise. And, I was amazed that even though I don't take very good care of my body these days, I've been blessed with legs and muscles that work properly.

At work, I was amazed at the number of things I was able to accomplish despite being tired. I was amazed by how much fun my co-workers and employees are. Best of all, I was amazed to put my hand on my friend's belly and feel her two babies kicking away!

And, when I got home tonight, I was amazed by how much happiness I get from having a tiny boy run across the room, throw his arms around my neck, and tell me how much he missed me.

What amazed you today?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Signs of spring (finally!)

OK, this is sort of cheating: I won these potted tulips at a baby shower over the weekend by guessing pretty much exactly how big around my co-worker's belly is. She's a very petite woman with the smallest 8-months-pregnant belly I've ever seen. So, you know how I guessed how big around she was? By using my belly in its normal un-pregnant state. Yes, my un-pregnant belly is the same size as my friend's pregnant one. Luckily, I have a sense of humor about these things. :-)

My own tulips are finally poking their heads out of the ground in my front yard. And, today I discovered that my garlic chives are sending up shoots already! Those are the best plants ever. Nothing eats them (except for us), and they are so hardy. I'm thinking about planting them around my entire garden this year to ward off the bugs from my other plants. I'm also thinking about doing that with onions and garlic.

I filled my birdbath last week! And the birds have been having bathing parties ever since. I get to watch them in action from my desk at home.

R is very excited for Thursday - not only is it our day together, but it's also the first day of spring! (And the day of his first dentist appointment - hopefully that goes well.) He's also excited for Easter and coloring eggs this week.

Tonight I read him the Easter story from his little toddler Bible. I wanted to save the Last Supper for Thursday, my own toned-down version of the crucifixion for Friday, etc., but he wanted to read them all tonight. I've taught him about how much God loves him and that Jesus is/was God's son, and he's got a few of the Old Testament stories down (tonight he made a sling out of his sock and talked about knocking down the giant), but I've shied away so far from anything that might scare him. Especially after he found the Good Samaritan story a few months ago and seemed to obsess about the man's injuries. Tonight he insisted on reading the next pages, so I did, although I admit I was nervous. The toddler Bible is very tame really, but there were two pictures of Jesus on the cross with nails in his hands and feet, and R was very concerned. He asked me if it hurt Jesus and when I told him it did, he cried a little. My poor sweet boy. I tried then to focus on the good news part of the empty tomb, but he kept flipping back to the cross pictures. I hope he doesn't have nightmares tonight. :-( I want him to know the full story but only when he's truly ready to process it. I'm in no hurry for him to know about the bad in the world.

However, I think he'll be okay. When we laid down to bed, he rolled over and stared at me with a crazy, silly look and said excitedly, "Let's stay up and talk all night!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My night with Batman

The next time I'm feeling bad about not being a good enough mom for R, remind me to go back to this post. Because if this doesn't show much I love this boy, nothing will. No one except him could get me to dress up like this and then document it for tens of people to see! ;-)

Last night was A's weekly night out, which means it's Mommy-R night. When R came home from school, he was talking non-stop about superheroes, and Batman and Superman in particular. Now, he knows NOTHING about Batman and Superman except what he's learned from his friends, which isn't a whole lot, and I told him once weeks ago that Batman lives in Gotham City. (Which he told me about 100 times last night in the cutest voice, accenting every syllable very distinctly: "Bat-man lives in Goth-am Ci-Ty!") And, man, I wish I had a recording of how he says Batman. It sounds a bit English - more like Bat-mahn. Hysterically cute.

Anyway, last night, he asked if we could play superheroes. At first, he wanted to be Batman and me to be Superman, but when I told him that Superman lives in Metropolis, he dumped the Superman idea. Apparently Metropolis isn't cool. So, we were both Batman.

He asked me to tie his blanket around him as a cape, then I had to use my blanket as a cape for me. And, he found helmets for us: a fire helmet for him and a Curious George party hat for me.

Then, we swooped around the house looking for people and animals to rescue. When we swooped in on our cat Harley, the What-the? look on Harley's face almost made me fall on the floor with laughter. (The cat paid me back today by yuking on the living room rug.) I told R about the Bat signal, and then the Bat signal kept appearing on the ceiling every 5 seconds for us to go and do battle with another evildoer: a blue sweater, the vacuum (aha! R finally gets his revenge on the one major thing he was afraid of as a toddler!), a rubber duckie, and a pair of shoes.

We put each evildoer in the living room chair, pressed a button, and poof! - the evildoer became good (and then was deposited into a pile with the other now good-doers).

I nearly had to wrestle R to get him to take off the cape and hat before climbing into bed. He did inform me that Batman has to get lots of rest so that he can have the energy to rescue people, but then he was unwilling to follow this advice for at least another hour.

I had SO much fun. I love that this boy can get me to be absolutely silly and crazy. We experimented with taking photos of ourselves by hand and then by timer. The timer didn't work out so great, but what the hey. When I laid down with R to get him to go to sleep, I didn't wake up until 11:30 and since I was barely conscious at that point, I just stayed there all night. So, all A knew about our evening was the evidence he found on the camera, which I left for him on the coffee table.

R in his Batman attire:

The fiercesome twosome (evildoers beware!):

Did you know that Batman was Swedish? :-)

This one is from this morning. I just love the peering over the sunglasses look. Also, you may notice that he is eating giant chunks of Parmesan cheese directly out of our cheese grater. The boy has good taste.

I hope you have a chance to have this much silliness and fun today!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wacky Wednesday

Here are some of the wacky and weird things I've come across recently:

  1. Squeaker shoes for toddlers (see here). The latest in child safety! Find your child in a crowd by the sound of his/her footwear. Never in a million years would I have bought these for R, despite the fact that he moves way faster than A and me and has absolutely no fear. Can you imagine when 10 toddlers in the same crowd are wearing these things?

  2. The 2nd Annual Bacon Eating Contest. This took place in the next town over from me earlier this month. That must have been why we heard lots of sirens that day; I'm sure several ambulances were required to transport the heart attack victims to the hospital. I do love bacon, but this just makes my stomach turn. Blech!

  3. A song about our lovely town! (Warning: Brief adult-ish content in the video.) This cracked me up because it's so true. Our town seems to be absolutely overrun with pregnant women and young families (including my own!). We have fantastic restaurants and incredible resources for families, but we do pretty much roll up the sidewalks at 10 p.m. I remember when A and I first moved here from a grungy, hip, musician-infested neighborhood of Boston (I say that lovingly). We tried to go out to breakfast at 1 p.m. on a Sunday, which was the normal time in our old neighborhood. Ha ha ha ha. Boy was that a rude awakening: NOTHING was open. But this town is quiet and lovely and has a small-town feel even though it's just minutes from the city. I love it. And, since we moved here 10 years ago, it has actually changed quite a lot. We actually sell beer and wine now!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Goodness, I am always so touched and humbled by your kindness and support! You have all been such a comfort to me, and I thank God for you all every day. Wow. Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. I'm okay, really. I just was thinking that if my being away from R so much is really the way my life is supposed to pan out, maybe I wouldn't be chafing against it so much? I don't know. Plus, I feel like time is running out - I've only got another year and a half before he's off to kindergarten five days a week. And, it's becoming clearer and clearer that I am not going to be able to convince A to have another one, so this is my one chance! But it's not like I'm miserable. I'm a pretty happy mama most of the time, and R is a very happy, well-adjusted boy. So if things stay the same, I can't really complain.

OK, new subject! :-) I thought I'd share something I saw on TV yesterday. I was watching one of the Christian talk shows, and they had on this artist who painted this portrait of Jesus that I really loved. The artist's name is Allen Polt. I tend to shy away from images of Jesus because I have my own idea in my mind of what he looks like to me, and I'm sure we all have our own ideas that are personal to us. It's like seeing a movie after reading a book and being disappointed by what the characters look like because they don't match what was in my head. (The only time I wasn't disappointed there was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson did such a good job casting those movies!) I don't want the image in my head to be affected by someone else's image of the Lord. (Hmmm, I seem to be making an argument for NOT sharing this with you, but here I go anyway. Typical way my brain works...)

So, here's the painting. What do you think?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Praying for something new

Over the last few days, some things have come up that make my heart ache as a mom and have changed my ideas about what to pray for. Last Thursday was one of my days off with R. We really had a great day playing together and then visiting his friend. R told me: "This was really fun because I hardly ever get to see you, Mommy." He said it very matter-of-factly, but with a sad voice.

Then, on Saturday night, R woke up because of a bad dream. He explained, "I was at school, and I couldn't find you anywhere, Mommy!" He reiterated the dream to me again later.

Yesterday, R had a playdate at a local park, and A was going to take him because he's become friends with R's friend's dad (and only the dads were going). But R was upset about me not going and said, "But you don't even know what S [his friend] looks like!" Which is SO not true.

It's possible that R has figured out the thing I'm most sensitive about and uses it against me, but because of the bad dream, I think maybe he's having some issues, too. I don't know. I just feel badly because it's not like I choose to be away from him. I have to. It's just the situation we're in. I would quit my job and stay home in a heartbeat if it were financially possible.

And, I honestly do spend 99.99995% of my time when I'm not at work with him. There have been some occasional Sunday afternoons when A will take R on a subway ride for fun or when I'm just completely exhausted from the week and A will take R to his favorite indoor playspace - the one I refuse to take him to because it makes me wish I had a prescription for horse tranquilizers (for me, not for the kids - it's a little too crowded and nutty for my taste).

Every few weeks I feel this need to document to myself that I'm doing the best I can with my situation. I am late to work almost every day because I won't leave the house without seeing R in the morning. I hardly ever make plans with friends that would take away from my time with him. I only get my haircut 3 or 4 times a year because I don't want to take a half-hour away from him on the weekends. I'm not complaining about any of this. I choose to spend pretty much every waking moment with R because I want to. And he seems to need me to do it. Even when we're eating, he's got to be touching me at all times. Usually he has his arm entwined around mine.

I've spent a long time trying to come to terms with our situation, trying to convince myself that maybe this is the way God thinks is best for me and my family (for me to work full-time). But every time I think I'm okay with it for a few weeks, something like R's comments or my own heartache will make me question things again. I've been afraid to ask God for a change because I was trying to accept that this was his plan (and I don't like making requests of God for me because I have so much to be thankful for - when friends and family are suffering around me from broken marriages, illness and disease, depression, and tragedies, it seems very selfish of me to pester God with less important requests). But I've decided to ask anyway because maybe I'm wrong about his plan for me. My devotional yesterday was about trusting God and taking the risks he sets before you, and my first thought then was that I don't know what risks he wants me to take. So I'm going to pray that God shows me another way. Maybe there is some dream job out there where I could do something meaningful and serve God in some way, but I'd only have to work three days a week (the days R is in school), and make the same money I make now. LOL. Or maybe the dream job is for A so I can just stay home. I don't know, but I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.

Maybe I'm glorifying the stay-at-home mom life way too much. I just know that I feel happiest when I'm caring for R, cooking for my family, and taking care of our house. I feel like those are the things I'm best at and that give me the most satisfaction as a human being. Doing those things brings out my creativity.

So that's what I'm thinking about today.

And, because I hate my long posts without pictures, here's a picture of R and his friend watching the pins fall while bowling on Saturday. They had a blast:

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lenten side effects

My Lenten fast (not eating anything after dinnertime) is having more of an effect on my life than I had expected. I didn't realize before I started this "fast" how much food I was saving to eat for after R went to bed. Because I don't want him to eat these things (chocolate, cookies, ice cream, etc.), mostly due to the sugar and its unbelievable ability to turn my sweet boy into a whiney monster, I would always eat them after I put him to bed at night. While I lounged on the couch. With my computer in my lap. While watching TV. In other words, while I was being a sedentary blob.

Now that I'm forcing myself to eat any dessert I want at the dinner table immediately after my meal, I usually don't end up eating anything because I don't want R to have any (see above). For a couple of weeks, I made sure that I ate a candy bar or cookie or something at work during the day to make up for not having anything at night. But, now, I really just don't want those things. I don't have the urge for them.

Evidence: We've had five boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in the house since last week. I have eaten a grand total of 2 cookies! This is unheard of in Kristenland. Normally, I would have already consumed "my" box (the peanut butter and chocolate ones), probably in one or two sittings, and would be sneaking some of A's box (the coconut, chocolate, caramel ones).

And, tonight's evidence: I declined a FREE SUNDAE. That's right. The free sundae that came with my meal. The sundae that I can order with peanut butter sauce. The peanut butter sauce that I could eat a tub of with a spoon because it's so salty and wonderful. I wasn't in the least bit interested!

So, either my Lenten fast is actually helping to change my unhealthy eating habits or I'm about to come down with the flu.

Happy weekend! It's supposed to rain and rain and rain here, so R has requested that we go bowling. Yay!

Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead on Sunday!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Happy Birthday

Forty-six years ago today, the love of my life was born. Happy Birthday, A!

Here he is at two years old (what a cutie!):

And, R at two years old (just for comparison):

Monday, March 3, 2008

Last Snow of the Season* Celebration Day

* It better be! Because I can't take anymore!

So the big storm on Friday night and Saturday morning turned out to be pretty lame. Which was fine with me. It snowed and snowed and snowed, but it all added up to about an inch of slush and that's it.

But I still decided to celebrate what I am insisting was the Last Snow of the Season. R and I woke up, and I whipped up a batch of chocolate waffles** as a special treat for breakfast. Yum! (Oh - and before I forget - R slept in his room all night by himself!!! He woke up around 3 a.m. to use the bathroom, and I had to accompany him for that, but when we got back upstairs, he told me, "I can put myself back to bed," and he climbed in, laid down, pulled the blanket up, and said, "Goodnight, Mommy!" Hallelujah! I went back to my room without R protesting, and I slept in my own bed until 8:30!!!!)

** I took a picture of my lovely waffles, but A deleted it accidentally. Although I was tempted to write an entire post pointing out A's annoying habits in retaliation, I decided to forgive him. ;-)

After breakfast, we played lots of games:

Then, while A went outside to push the slush around and clean off the car, R and I "went on a hunt for wild animals." Hunting gear according to R includes gloves, goggles, slippers, hats, binoculars, and flashlights. And, apparently, an umbrella:

R explained to me that the gloves were for handling electricity. This was going to be an exciting hunt! Although we were not allowed to find any animals. Because the last time we played, I pretended that an alligator grabbed onto my foot, and R got scared.

I admit that I get tired quickly of the imagination games, which is just awful. I get distracted by things I need to do around the house. We'll be upstairs looking for animals, and I'll see laundry on the floor or books that need to be put away. But I do play along for awhile.

Next, we did a painting project. We bought these little wooden vehicles as Christmas presents for R's cousins, but I could never convince him to paint them until this weekend.

After lunch, we did boring stuff like grocery shopping and going to the bank. We stopped at the toy store to let R run around for awhile, and we ended up bringing home a bag of rocket balloons and a set of BrainQuest cards. We also peered in the windows at the kids' gym I chose for R's upcoming birthday party, and it looks very cool. We hadn't been there before, but I've heard great things about it, and when you reserve it, you get the whole place to yourself. The other huge gym where R goes does birthday parties, but your kids are mixed in with a gazillion other kids, so your kids don't actually spend much time together. There are going to be 20+ kids, mostly boys, at R's party, so there was no way we could host it at our house.

When we got home, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air. It was really cold and damp, but R put on his rain boots and found some puddles to jump in.

We walked by the playground, and R insisted on climbing all over everything while A and I begged him to keep walking because everything was wet. R sadly explained, "But I need to climb, Mommy!" So we let him for a few minutes ... until he slipped and fell on his back. Poor guy. Then we walked for a few more blocks until we headed home because we were freezing.

Hmm, I guess I never did much celebrating beyond making the waffles. But all in all, it was a relaxing and wonderful family day.


I found these pictures on the camera and had to share:

This was a microscope that R invented all by himself. He took his little magnifying glass, propped it up on a Lego wheel axle, and turned the little light on to look at his miniature trains. Pretty cool, huh?

This is what happens when you allow your 3-year-old son to watch an old Godzilla movie. We were visiting friends one day, and R's "uncle" asked me if he could put on a Godzilla movie for R. I said, "Sure" because I was thinking they're campy and stupid and not scary at all. Well, I forgot about all the GUNS. R was mesmerized by the guns and by Godzilla melting things with his fiery breath. Although it seems to have subsided now, for weeks after R saw part of the movie, everything he built with Legos had guns attached. Can you see the long pieces sticking out of the front of all these planes? Even the train has a gun!

Nice going, mom. Sigh.