Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vacation: Panda Sneeze

As mentioned briefly a few days ago, this is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me at work because of our annual conference. That conference starts tomorrow, the same day that Brad and Zander fly West to start a week-long vacation which will include lots of sore muscles (from skiing) and trips to the jacuzzi. (It's so hard to be us.)

I fly out a few days later to join. And while I certainly hope to find the time to post, one never knows -- what with all of the skiing, relaxing, and wine-drinking that will be going on.

As back-up blog content and because I have my priorities straight (spending time searching for blog content), I've been collecting various silly videos (mostly of children and animals) that have been floating around the web. Below is the first. It reminds me of myself as a new mother -- not just the size of the bear -- although I certainly felt that too -- but more so, the surprise and nervousness...

"I just want to stay here forever."

Zander says this at least once every day. Both Brad and I are the lucky recipients and usually it goes something like this:

Parent: "One minute until bath time." [Giving warnings to help with transitions.]

Parent: "Bath time! Do you want to walk up the stairs or be carried?" [Giving options so he has some power in the process.]

Zander [laying down on floor, not buying the choices or options]: "I just want to stay here forever."


After nightly book-reading ritual, which takes place in our bed:

Parent: "Time for songs."

Zander [laying down on our bed, pulling covers up]: "I just want to stay here forever."

It was cute the first time. Not so cute the fortieth time. Sigh.

Monday, January 28, 2008

One day I will sell them on e-bay and the lucky winner will never know from whence they came

For posterity, these are the infamous poop trains (first explained here and kvetched about here).

Not pictured are Old Slow Coach, the Sodor Dairy Cars, Gordon the Big Express Engine, Mighty Mac, Express Coaches, two track risers, four pieces of ascending track, and one viaduct.

Also not pictured...our empty bank account.

And once again, because I either have nothing better to do or I'm just plain disturbed (or both), here is mean ole Diesel 10 getting nasty with Rosie:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Doctor, doctor

This exchange occurred yesterday during the nightly bedtime song-singing ritual:

Brad [singing]: "Doctor, doctor. Give me the news. I got a bad case of loving you."

Zander: "What if the doctor has a 'bad case'?"

Brad: "Then the doctor goes to see another doctor."

About five minutes later Z calls Brad back into his room (as part of the nightly bedtime stalling ritual) and asks:

"Daddy, what if all the doctors are sick?"

Brad said something about there being so many doctors that one had to be less sick than the others.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Whoo hoo!

We've been busy recovering from some strange illness.

The night after Zander's surgery he woke up and threw up. We thought it was a delayed reaction to the anesthesia. But, the next day, his school called and said he threw up again and was also running a low-grade fever. I rushed there to pick him up, all the while thinking, "What type of parent takes her child to school the day after general anesthesia surgery?!"

When he woke up from his nap later that day, he said, "Mama, I tried to stand up, but I just fall down." My poor little guy!

Meanwhile, Z was fine that evening and slept great. I, on the other hand, woke-up at 4:00am and puked. Also had a fever for most of the next day. So, Z probably had some type of virus, which I caught. Unfortunately, it is the busiest time of year for my office (because of our annual conference next week), so I had to go into work anyway. (Registration closes COB today, so you'd better hurry.)

Just to top it off, Brad had some minor eye surgery yesterday afternoon. (Pretty funny how you hear all about my eye surgery for days beforehand -- see this post, this post, and this post -- but not a peep about his? Anyway, back to me...)

As a result of this excitement, last night Brad and I went to sleep right after Z at about 8:30pm. Collectively, we got about 30 hours of shut-eye and all feel as good as new.

Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Lego Pyramid

He's a prodigy I tell you!

Brad that is. I'd like to say that Z created this masterpiece, but it was my forty-something husband who also plays with legos. That is, when I'm not playing with them.

Seriously, we have a lego problem in our household. Used to be that during a random endless session playing with trains, I thought I was clever and would volunteer to build Z a tunnel or a shed (out of legos) for the trains. I didn't realize he had caught on until one day when he asked if I would play trains with him, he quickly added, "And they *don't* need anything built for them!"

Oops. Jigs up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Modern Child

On Friday evening, after a five-star gourmet meal at Chicken Out, we headed over to the grocery store as a family. Somehow Brad found the car-cart of all car-carts. Apparently it moved better and faster than any other. Z was 'driving' and having a grand old time. He and Brad were pretending to race a nice elderly lady driving one of these. Really.

(Of course, since he has now learned how to make his body poop-on-demand, he insisted on taking a "pit stop" in the yucky grocery store bathroom and then endlessly talking about the train he would get when we got home. "He" being Zander, not Brad. But, I digress.)

Brad: "Hold on tight, we need to go to the checkout."

Zander: "I can find it...I have a GPS!"

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Trooper

We're home and all is well.

The "surgical center" ran like a well-oiled machine. They called us early in the morning to say the doctor was running ahead of schedule (!) and asked that we get there early if possible. We arrived and Z was all set to go into surgery in less than a half hour. Zander was a trooper -- beyond belief.

This picture was taken in the first of four waiting rooms:

This one after "intake," but before the final waiting room:

Post-surgery, he woke up a little disoriented, asked for his beloved Taggie (mentioned here), and fell back asleep.

He slept on and off a bit, until he woke up for good and asked for "Murdoch," the train acquired from his most recent poop. (If this sounds strange to you, read this post and this post to see what I'm talking about. It will likely still sound strange.) Anyway, we left about a 1/2 hour later.

That being said, no parent ever wants to have to sign a "consent to resuscitate" form and then see their child in a hospital gown on a gurney.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gymnastics and Ear Tube Update

In case anyone was wondering (after this post), our excursion to remedial gymnastics yesterday actually went quite well. It took me a while to convince Zander that he wasn't going to have to go into "Slava's class" alone, but once that hurdle was passed, we both had a great time.

Z much preferred the instructor of this class (Ms. Leena). She learned the children's names and engaged them constantly throughout. It also didn't hurt that he excelled at everything, probably since he was the oldest child in the class by about a year.

In other news, unfortunately, the stubborn ear tube is still well-situated in Z's ear (as mentioned here). So, we're all set for a 10:30am surgery tomorrow morning to have it removed. I'm feeling a bit better about it, due in part to thoughtful well-wishers (thanks!) and since posting to the parenting listserv of all listservs, DC Urban Moms and Dads. I received a number of replies from parents whose children had been through similar procedures and all went fine.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How did it go so wrong?

On the heels of this TMI post, we've just handed over THREE trains in less than 24 hours! (Actually, two trains and one "roadway friend" named Alfie, but who's counting?!)

Maybe it's time to start that old B.R.A.T. diet bef0re we go broke...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Motto: Out and Through

The only way out is through.
I didn't coin this, but I say it a lot, especially when life gets challenging.

Couldn't find anything on the origins of the phrase, but a quick Internet search revealed that, apparently, Alanis Morrisette likes it a lot too. Isn't that ironic?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TMI Alert!

This one is definitely TMI. So, stop reading now if you don't want to hear about poop. Yes, poop. Don't say I didn't warn you...

We’ve been giving Z a lot of space around the whole potty-training thing. This is pretty much the opposite of what we did when we started the process, e.g. every five minutes asking, “Do you have to go pee pee? Want to put some in the potty? How about now? What about now?”

Truth is, he had no problem with peeing in the potty. Stops whatever he is doing, gets up, and goes. But pooping in the potty was a whole different story. We tried charts, stickers, cars (from the movie Cars), and trains. Once we even said we would buy him a brand-new car when he turned 16 years old. (Not really.) For the record, there was once a time when I thought I would never bribe my child but that was when I didn't know squat.

Indeed, after a little bit of space -- okay a lot of space -- one day last week Z seemed to realize that all he had to do was put some poop in the potty (instead of a pull-up) and we would give him a brand-spankin' new train of the Thomas variety. Originally, when we had offered him this deal (1 poop = 1 train), we were desperate and actual pooping in the potty seemed like a distant possibility.

Fast forward to today.

Let’s just say I had to make an emergency run to Target to get more trains. Each train is between $10 and $20, so we’re already out about $100. Shameful I know. Absolutely shameful.

The good news is that Brad already has a great idea to wean Z off of the trains, which is doling out a piece or two of train track for each dump instead. (Look, I warned you that this post was TMI.) The even better news is that we seemed to have crossed the line in terms of where poop belongs. But I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch so we're sticking with trains for a little while longer.

And as the saleswoman at The Container Store said to me when I mentioned that our 3.5 year old had just put poop in the potty at school, "It's about time."

(FYI, I wasn't just talking to strangers about the poop thing. I had called Brad to ask him a question and he mentioned the school-pooping-milestone to me, so I just had to mention it to the woman who was helping me.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Germane Joke (and some alliteration to go with it)

I'm not 100% sure where I got this joke. But I just came across it for the umpteenth time and it seems germane in light of yesterday's reference to being an overprotective Jewish mother and our recent foray into children's extracurricular activities. The joke is credited to Isaac Asimov, likely from his book, A Treasury of Humor.

The teller of the joke explains he has a friend, a mother with a three year old child, who herself always wanted to take ballet class but was forced by her parents to study the trombone. The teller of the joke comments that she will certainly have learned her lesson when it comes to her own child, and the mother responds: "Oh certainly, it's ballet no matter what."

P.S. Lest anyone think I am smarter than I am, I do not regularly go around citing Russian-born science fiction authors (who also happen to write joke books) - I totally had to Google Mr. Asimov. "Alliteration" I knew. "Germane" I had to double-check.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's just a procedure. It's just a procedure. It's just a procedure.

Got the call today. The one from Fairfax Surgical Center with details about Zander's upcoming "procedure" mentioned here. (I like calling it a "procedure" instead of "surgery." Kind of sounds like he is going to get a splinter removed instead of being put under general anesthesia.)

He's got a pre-surgical check-up with his pediatrician this Friday. I am so hoping that the stuck ear tube will have miraculously fallen out and we'll have to cancel the surgery, um, procedure. Alas, if that does not happen, we will likely have a very hungry preschooler on our hands come Monday morning. (He can't eat or drink for 12 hours beforehand; clear liquids until four hours prior.)

In the grand scheme of things, I know this is not a big deal. Children have more invasive and more critical surgery all the time and, as a result, I feel kind of guilty for even complaining. At the same time, Z is our one and only child and I am, after all, an overprotective Jewish mother. Sigh.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm fine with it.

If anyone was waiting with bated breath after this post to hear about how gymnastics went this Saturday, well, it didn't. Brad took Z this time, so I wasn't there to witness it. From what I've been told, even our friend Todd (dad to Champe) helped out and sat patiently with Z in the gymnasium, while his son participated in the class. But, no luck.

If you added up all the time we spent talking and strategizing about this during the week, you'd think the kid was refusing to wear a helmet or brush his teeth or something. It's obvious that we have just one child.

Two weeks ago when I was there, one of the gymnasium staff suggested that we join the two-to-three year old class, where parents CAN take the class with their child. I swallowed hard, fought back tears, and thought, "There's no way I'm going to let my child be sent back a grade! No way."

But, now that's our plan. Maybe he's just not ready and we're not going to push it just now. And I'm fine with it. I am. Really.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Kvetch: The Abuse of 'Handicapped' Parking Spots

This morning while at Starbucks, I witnessed two burly guys in a pick-up truck pull right into the only handicapped spot, hop out, get some coffee, and sit down inside to enjoy it.

Not sure why this bothers me, since it doesn't directly have anything to do with me, but I get so mad when I see people park in a "handicapped" spot without a licence plate or other tag indicating that need. It's something about the audacity of it. I can't park there -- why should they?! Don't they picture someone in a wheelchair drive up and look longingly at the full spot?

To make matters worse, my frustration is completely hypocritical of me since I break other 'laws' as I deem necessary (such as going over the speed limit (gasp!) or smoking crack). (Kidding on that last one.).

In fact, at that very Starbucks, I often park next to the reserved handicapped space, which is not even designated as a real parking spot. But, somehow parking in the handicapped space just seems worse. Or maybe I lead myself to believe it's worse so I can feel better about the laws I ignore?

Maybe I think too much. Or kvetch too much. Or both.

P.S. I realize that the word 'handicapped' is not P.C. these days, but it seemed so awkward to say "differently-abled parking spot."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What happens when a baseball hits a wall?

Zander has a new favorite joke (learned from this Sesame Street DVD) and it's actually kind of funny. Yes, yes, he watches the occasional DVD. Regardless, I went to pick him up from school earlier this week and he was in the middle of telling it...

What is a ghost's favorite game?
Hide and Shriek!

Everyone laughed. Next he told the one mentioned in this post, but told it correctly. I thought he was really getting this whole joke thing. Then he enthusiastically told this one:

What happens when a baseball hits a wall?
The wall breaks!

Get it? Me neither.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Political Cartoon in Today's Washington Post

I'm not necessarily a Hillary fan (still undecided, in fact). I'm just sayin' she can't win whatever she does. (Here's a direct link.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Water and Ice

We got a new refrigerator last weekend. Zander and I sat in the dining room and watched while Brad and the delivery people moved the old refrigerator out (into the garage) and brought the new one into the kitchen. Z thought it was just about the coolest thing since Super WHY.

Me: "The new one is bigger and has two doors."

Zander: "We can put more stuff in!"

Zander: "See that little mouth?" [Referring to the water and ice dispenser, which our old refrigerator did not have.] "What's that for?"

Me: "Water and ice straight from the refrigerator."

Zander: "YES!" [I think he also did a little fist pump.]

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mottos: The Dishwasher

I have a lot of them, so why not share?

If it fits in the dishwasher it goes in the dishwasher.
This holds true for knives and fine china (but not children and pets). Why do you think they call it "fine" china -- because it is fine to go in the dishwasher.)

And here's some bonus mottos:
If it doesn't fit in the dishwasher, consider throwing it away (but don't tell Al Gore).

If you don't want to throw it away, leave in sink "soaking" until Brad spouse gets frustrated and cleans it himself.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Wire -> Watch it.

The final season of HBO's The Wire starts this Sunday night. Now, I'm no television critic (nor movie critic nor fashion plate), but this is one good show.

It's gripping, realistic, entertaining, and upsetting all at the same time. I can't do it justice by trying to explain it. This Time Magazine article includes the series in a list of the best TV shows of all time. This San Francisco Chronicle piece calls it a "masterpiece" and says the following about the show:
...the breadth and ambition of "The Wire" are unrivaled and that taken cumulatively over the course of a season--any season--it's an astonishing display of writing, acting and storytelling that must be considered alongside the best literature and filmmaking in the modern era.

Let me warn you -- it's not always (if ever) easy on the psyche to watch and one has to pay close attention to the dialogue. Almost every episode I say to Brad (much to his chagrin), "I didn't get that. Did you get that? Can you explain it to me?" (And I ask all three questions in succession really fast not giving him a chance to answer. As a result, he misses the next few pieces of dialogue himself.) But, that's a discussion for another day.

If you don't have HBO, put the series in your Neflix queue. If you don't get Netflix, go to Blockbuster and rent it. If you actually have a life and do not have time to watch television, what are you doing reading this blog?!

The Preschool Gymnastics Debacle of 2008

We signed Zander up for his first “class” of sorts – it was supposed to be a 50-minute preschool (ages 3-5) gymnastics class. Z had whined expressed reticence about going until we reminded him that two of his friends, Champe and Coral, were also in the class.

When we arrived, the first thing that my friend Laura (Champe's mom) spells to me is that the children have to go in “A-L-O-N-E.” Fine – usually more of a problem for me than for Zander. This is a kid who walks up and speaks into microphones at concerts, sings his heart out on stage, and does a variety of other things without his parents. But, noooooooo, not today.

Today, all he wanted to do was stay with mama. The other children dutifully followed the teacher into a big gym and Z clung to me for dear life. After a few minutes, he said he wanted to go in, so I walked him over to the class. Unfortunately, I then ended up doing this about ten or fifty million times. Each time he would say he was “ready to join the class” and then each time he would come back to me crying.

At one point he went over to the class and stood there. Now, all the teacher had to do was invite him in – even just ask him to sit down. But the teacher did not. Once, Z came running back and said, “They won’t talk to me.” Not that I'm blaming the teacher (named Slava) or anything, just that he certainly didn't help.

Anyway, Zander never did join the class and by the end, I was at my wit's-end. In hindsight, I made a few key errors, one of which was not getting there early enough for him to acclimate. Another was not checking ahead of time whether or not parents could go in with the kids. I just assumed we could. Had I known, we could have talked about it and gotten him psyched for it. (Brad is particularly good at this.)

There's another class next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. Oh and this doesn't bode well for getting him to a ski lesson on our trip to Colorado next month.

Friday, January 4, 2008

This needs some explaining

Some close friends of ours drink raw milk. If I understand correctly, in order to do this legally in the state of Virginia, one has to own part of the cow that makes the milk. So, along with some other families from Zander's preschool, they participate in a cow share of sorts. Since one or two families were out of town during the holidays, they shared some of the milk with us so it would not go to waste.

It was in our refrigerator just like this when some family arrived before the festivities mentioned here and here. One of my nephews opened the fridge and said, "IS THAT BREAST MILK? DO YOU STILL DO THAT?"

That would be A LOT of fresh breast milk. Someone later pointed out that it is breast milk -- just from a cow. And no, I don't "still do that." Somewhat to my chagrin, Zander weaned himself when he was about 16 months old.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm no fashion plate, but are these for real?

I went to get my haircut last weekend and the 'stylist' plopped down the latest issue of French Vogue Collections in my lap as if it was gold. Now, it's been years (or never) since I really followed fashion and even then I wasn't going to win any best-dressed awards. No problem though, he's blow-drying my hair and I've got nothing better to do, so I dig in. (Now that I think about, maybe giving me a hint?)

Anyway, I come across the pages with the shoe collections. Of course, I expect some outlandish designs and/or super-high heels. Take, for example, either of these pairs of boots. Not something I would buy, but not off the radar:

But THESE really caught me off guard:

WTF? Are they shoes?

You can see them better at the designer's fancy website. The photos are clearer and actually make some sense. Unfortunatley, I can't link directly to the page. If you're interested, go to Marc Jacobs -> Marc Jacobs Collections ->Shoes -> Spring 2008 Women's.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Grandma Paula!

As I mentioned a few days ago, we held a New Year’s Eve party to welcome 2008 and celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday (which is today, January 1st). Everything went swimmingly due in large part to the high-end caterer secured by Brad’s stepfather. Brad’s oldest sister and her family (mentioned in this post) put on quite a show full of songs, slide shows, toasts, and more. It was a memorable evening in honor or a memorable woman.

As anticipated, the children didn’t last long at the party and were gone by 8:30pm or so, which is when I started drinking. Right before Zander left the party (in good hands with Tine), he said something about wanting to go to sleep “right here.” So he tried.

"Right here" was unfortunately the marble floor in front of the entrance to the party. But Tine soon coaxed him up and they headed home. I only worried a tiny bit. In fact, I said I’d call to check-in and I forgot to do so (see “when I started drinking” above).