Friday, December 30, 2011

Winding Down the Year

We're almost at the end of 2011. So I'm now ready to spend another six months trying to remember what year it is when I write checks. It takes about that long for the new year to sink in. Either that or I write '2001' everywhere. 2010 was really hard to remember because there was a '1' and a '0' just like in '2001'. But I digress.

We had a nice Christmas. I got the only thing I really wanted: Doug had a great Christmas. I also got some new Vera Bradley gear. We got to spend Christmas Eve with my Dad's family and Doug was really into my Grandfather's trains. Christmas morning we stayed here and my parents came to us in the afternoon. Doug got a lot of cool stuff. Our house looks like Santa just decided to stop at our house and dump all the toys from the rest of the block here. We had Christmas dinner over at my Grandma's house and Doug enjoyed a nice roaring fire in the fire place. Fires in fire places are evidently the most awesome thing ever. It was busy, but over all nice.

Doug's Grandparents in Kansas City sent him enough track to choke a hippo and we had a lot of fun on the 26th building track for his trains.

I decided that we were going to start the new year out with a clean house, so for the past few days we've been cleaning and taking down the decorations. We cleaned out the closets and pantry and donated things we didn't need or want anymore. I feel like it's a little easier to breath without the clutter, dust and decorations around. We're planning a very laid back New Year's Eve. We plan to go out for a late lunch and then come home and put on our pajama pants and watch movies and eat cocktail meatballs. I've been looking forward to this for weeks, it should be great!

Happy New Year!

Doug doing his part in the clean-up effort. Not pictured is his dancing to 'Some Kind of Monster' (I told him it was about Cookie Monster). If you can picture 'The Elaine' dance from Seinfeld without the kicking, you can picture Doug dance.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New & Old Traditions

I have to say, that one of the most fun things about having my own family is determining the various traditions we keep during the holidays. This year is the first Christmas we're celebrating in our new house, so it's the first time we've decorated it. We moved in a year ago in November, but spent Christmas in Kansas City.

We decided we really needed something on our lawn, so we got an inflatable Santa. I think he must be kin with the Wicked Witch of the West, because during the day he looks like a puddle.

We always hear about the Garden of Lights in Wheaton, but usually after the fact. This was the first year we made it out to it, and it was a blast. Doug loved running around and looking at all the light sculptures. He's wearing a nice coat that his Uncle John gave him last year. It finally fits!

Inside one of the buildings at the park they have a model train exhibit. Doug was completely fascinated by it and we spent a good half hour in there.

Here he's looking through the tunnel, waiting for the trolley to return.

Every year growing up we'd go with my Grandfather and Uncle and cut down a fresh Christmas tree. I was very excited to include Doug in on this tradition with my family. Below he's pictured with his Uncle John scouting out trees.

This is the tree that Jeff cut down. Doug is very fond of sticks, every time he picks one up I try to get him to say 'Expecto Patronum!'. No such luck yet.

After we cut down trees, we go for lunch. The place we eat is near train tracks. We happened to sit out on a screened in patio, about 10 feet from the tracks. We saw two trains go by and Doug was in heaven!

This is a picture of the tree at home. Note that Doug is diligently UN-decorating the tree. That's a train (with moving wheels) that Nan gave Jeff many years ago. Doug's pretty sure it's his awesome new toy. Also note the seasonally appropriate Darth Vader t-shirt.

My high school has a 'Cookies with Santa' event for Alumni and their families and this is the second year we've taken Doug. I've still yet to see any '01ers there (ahem), but we had fun. It's a nice no pressure situation for the kids to see Santa.

Last weekend we went with my family to to Strasburg PA to see Santa on a train. Maybe the reindeer were in the shop? Anyhow, Doug is very into trains and it was a blast.

Santa gifted Doug with a small engine, so I'm pretty sure any lingering anxiety about Santa is now completely gone.

I'm really hoping we'll add the Santa train ride to our Christmas traditions.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I never taught Doug the sign for 'no'. It looks too similar to the sign for 'bird'*. Once, I asked him a yes or no question signing 'yes' and 'no' and he looked up and around for a bird, so I abandoned that. Plus, it's kind of a nice perk to have a toddler who doesn't scream or sign 'no'. The other night Jeff and I were trying to get him to say the word 'no', but as he has in past times, he pointed to his nose and we just took it for a simple misunderstanding. In the past week, Doug has been putting his index finger to the side of his nose. I didn't know if he was altering a known sign or creating a new one. I had no idea what he meant. A few minutes ago, I told him it was time for me to take my shower. When I shower, I put Doug in his crib with his toys and sometimes he'll nap. Anyway, he didn't want to go to his crib, despite the fact that he was crying and walking in that direction. Then I saw him place his index finger next to his nose and look up at me. He did it twice more. He was objecting! He was signing 'NO!". Leave it to Doug to make up his own sign for 'no'.

*The first sign I taught him was 'bird'.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I'm half expecting agents from the Child Protective Service to be at my door today. I don't know how you can half expect something, but there it is. Also? My biggest worry about that is that they'll notice all the smeary sticky little hand prints on the coffee table that I haven't washed off yet. But there you have it.

Anyway, to make a long story somewhat shorter, we've called Poison Control twice in the past week! The first time was on Saturday. Jeff and I were just laying on the bed and Doug was running around, and then all of a sudden, he was on Jeff's side of the bed, chewing on something. We never did figure out what it was or if he swallowed it, but Jeff feared it may have been an ibuprofen pill he dropped. The pills are extremely bright orange, and there was no trace of the coating in Doug's mouth, so I doubted it. But to be on the safe side, Jeff called Poison Control, which basically said he'd probably be ok, but keep an eye on him. The thing we didn't know about poison control is that they take your information, and they call you back the next day to make sure the child is fine. Which I suppose they do for statistical reasons or something, because if Doug was ill, we'd take him to the doctor or the hospital and not wait around for a call to tell us that might be a good idea. But some people are stupid I suppose.

Last night I went to my bible study and Jeff and Doug went to swim class. On the way home from swim class they stopped off at the grocery store to get me some flowers. While Doug was in the cart, he was reaching for things, but Jeff thought he'd maneuvered the cart so Doug couldn't get a hold of anything. When Jeff was done picking out flowers, he looked over at Doug who was spitting something out that looked like tomato. It was not. It was Jerusalem Cherry plant, which has fruit that looks like cherry tomatoes, which happen to be one of Doug's favorite foods. Anyway, the cherries on the plant are toxic. When Jeff got home, he called Poison Control again. Because it appeared Doug spit the fruit out, he wasn't in any real danger other than an upset stomach. We turned on the baby monitor for the first time in a year so we could hear him if he got sick. We learned that Doug evidently has favorite songs on his fish mobile, and he'd smack the button to change the tune to a different one. I'd been wondering why it seemed the fish mobile was on forever.

Doug seems to be fine. We went to story time today, where he shared very nicely, most of the time. Afterward we went shopping. I had Doug strapped into the cart, and he was everywhere trying to grab everything. So I have a little more forgiveness in my heart today for Jeff. His penance last night was giving Doug a bath, which is exhausting and wet. Anyway, it seems I have a coffee table that needs cleaning...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cool Moms Wear Pajamas

Right? Don't they?

That should give you a pretty good feel for how things are going around here lately. About three weeks ago, Doug acquired a cold. Then he gave it to Jeff. So, I pretty much didn't stand a chance. What was some minor sniffling to them became a whole ordeal for me, requiring Jeff to stay home one day and my mom to take Doug the next. The cold then developed into a lovely sinus infection. I've been tying to scrape myself together since then. You know how some one who has asthma wheezes, their lungs desperate for air? If my body could make a sound like that for all the sleep it craved, the noise would be deafening.

In other non-pajama related news, Doug is talking. For real. I've officially lost track of the number of words he has, which is a great sign. He's also working on the concept of 'off' and 'on', two of his new favorite words. At first, only the tv in our bedroom could be turned off and on, but then flashlights could be on as well as toys. This morning he brought me a can of play doh and said "on!", meaning to open it. Almost there. He's also been teething a ton. He's got his canine teeth coming in along with possibly three others. This has led to a bit of an eating strike on his part, but with some Advil and soft food, we were able to get him to eat something. We discovered at his 18 mo appointment, that he hadn't really grown at all. His doctor was concerned but not overly so. But now we have to see his doctor again in three months instead of six to check his growth. So his little eating strike has made me anxious. Some of my cousin's sons went through the same thing, so I'm not that worried. Maybe our kids are normal, and the others are huge? Anyway, I've resolved to monitor Doug's food intake more and try to make sure snacks happen more.

I finally joined something at our church. This is a big, hairy deal! I've been afraid to commit to something for a while, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it to something because I wasn't feeling well. I decided I'd missed too many opportunities and I joined a bible study. It's very structured and it meets for something like 34 weeks. So far, I'm enjoying it. We're supposed to do a little reading each day and make notes in a workbook, but typical me, I leave it all to the night before. I suppose some habits are just hard to break. Some how I didn't study the bible much in the 13 years I was in Catholic school. I'm not sure how it happened but it did. Right now we're looking at Jacob and Joseph's family and I really wish I had the sound track to 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat'. Oooh, I've discovered it's 8 bucks on iTunes. Nevermind, it sounds awful. It sounds like a high school performance. I shall wait and get a better one some other time.

Doug is asleep, and for my quiet time I'm going to go curl up with a Sookie Stackhouse book. Those things are addictive! Also, she's kind of like Jessica Lansbury, every where she goes, people drop dead. I would move out of her town if I lived there. Anyway, my book and a comfy chair is calling me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mayhem and Chaos

Usually when I take a shower, I put Doug in his crib with a few toys to keep him occupied. Today, I asked him if he'd like to get in the shower with me, which he loves. He responded by saying and signing 'yes', so I led him into his room to get him ready.

He started doing this:

I thought that because he was throwing ALL of his toys into his crib that he'd rather stay in there this time.

So I plopped him in his crib and went on my merry way. You may have noticed that he's now wearing shorts in this picture. A few weeks ago, he threw everything out of his crib as usual, but this time his diaper as well. For a few days I took the precaution of making sure he was wearing shorts or pants, but then I forgot about it. Until Monday, when once again, his diaper was on the floor. When I walked into his room, he just pointed and stared at it, as if he couldn't believe his own daring. But lesson learned, the child shall wear shorts!

This is what I found when I returned after my shower:

"Spring me!"

And this:

At least he was wearing his diaper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Signing with Doug

I've been meaning to write about signing with Doug for a while, but I've only now just gotten around to it.

Way back when in the B.C. time (before children) I studied Speech Language Pathology and Audiology in college.* One of my classes discussed augmentative communication for children who developed typically, with the main method being American Sign Language. I recall that many studies were done about this and children were able to communicate earlier than their non-signing peers, had a larger vocabulary later on as well as a higher IQ. Contrary to what some people may believe, the studies showed that typically developing children who signed did not have a delay in oral language. I'm really tired of saying that last statement. One of the nurses in our pediatrician's office tried to say that signing made children 'lazy'. I just smiled and tried not to roll my eyes. Some times you just have to pick your battles, ya know?

Anyway, then after college I went to work in a learning center, with a focus on literacy and comprehension. One of our programs was geared to oral language comprehension and as a result we saw many students on the Autism Spectrum. The kids we saw came to us at all levels of language development. Some had good receptive skills, others were good at expressing language. Several had used some signs at point, and we'd sign too if it would help diffuse a situation. I'd taken several ASL classes by this point (but was by no means great at it, I'd forgotten gobs of it) so I could sign with some students as needed.

So, that was long, but that's the place I'm coming from. One of the things I learned in college was about babbling, you know, goo goo gaga, etc. I bet you didn't know that people actually studied this. At any rate, there are various stages of babbling that eventually lead to word formation. Earlier stages are like cooing, with 'ooos and aaahs' with later stages having almost a word like sound, things like 'dado' 'bada' ect. I'd always intended to sign with Doug. I'd bought a book on baby signing when he was about 3 months old with the plan to introduce it at 6 months old. Most babies can get the receptive part down by 8 mos, and then start signing back to you around 10 mos. Well, when Doug was around 6 mos, we started getting ready to move, and the book got misplaced or packed some where. The idea just kind of got shelved, I felt guilty about it, but there were so many other things going on, like moving! When Doug was about ten months old, I noticed that he hadn't advanced to the later stages of babbling in a typical developmental pattern. I wasn't concerned that there was a speech or language issue, he's a boy and sometimes kids will have typical language, but just later on. I believed that his first word would happen in the later end of the normal range and decided we would get cracking on signing.

Right about eleven months old, Doug surprised us by saying 'hi!'. I was pleased, but decided we'd continue on with signing. I think we picked three signs at first to work on, 'milk', 'more' and 'bird'. We chose 'bird' because we have a parakeet that Doug is totally fascinated by, and it's an easy sign (use your thump and index finger like a beak). 'Bird' ended up being Doug's first sign, maybe close to his birthday. A little after 12 months, Doug also began saying 'hot'. Everything concerning food is 'hot' as well as our wedding portrait, which is quite baffling. Then he began to sign 'more' and we really vamped it up. Then came 'milk' which he uses to mean beverage and the action 'to drink', which is totally a separate sign.

As in oral language, children who sign also create their own sign. Doug's first made up sign was 'lotion', which looks like you're rubbing lotion on your hands. He also made up a sign for 'toothbrush', 'open' and Herbert, his lovie.

In all, Doug has seven oral words and over a dozen signs by now and can use signs in combination ( 'more food' 'yes drink' 'please drink' 'please all done') . Very recently, I started to teach him the sign for 'yes'. The other day he started to say 'yes', which sounds like 'yish' while he was signing 'yes'. That was the first time he combined oral ans signed language.

I don't want to push signing on people. I think that every family has its own needs and that everything isn't right for each family. I do believe that signing has opened up doors for us and for Doug and that we're able to communicate with him much more effectively than if we didn't sign. I do encourage people with babies and toddlers to think about it and I'd love to discuss our experience with you, but I am by no means an expert in anything. Except perhaps catching food that comes out of Doug's mouth. Motherhood is so gross some times.

* I have my bachelor's degree, not a master's, so I am not an SLP and cannot practice as one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Lemon Scented 500

One night last week we went out to Denny's for dinner. As usual, Doug managed to charm the bejesus out of the wait staff. He was making eyes and smiling at all the waitresses there and then sure enough, one of the waitresses came over and offered Doug a toy car from the movie 'Cars 2'. It was plastic and the wheels were molded onto the body of the car and didn't move. At some point during the meal Doug had appropriated the lemon from my drink. He lined up the lemon and the car and then started sliding the lemon around the table, complete with car noises!

The lemon made a few laps around the table along with the race car that Daddy drove.

Then a winner was declared!

And then eaten.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Reading

In honor of National Book week, I thought I'd share with you what I've been reading lately. I do tend to read more of the summer, I think it's ingrained from summer reading assignments growing up!

The first few books I read this summer were a part of a trilogy I reread. I found the first one on my high school's reading list and it's been my favorite book since I was fourteen. It's called "Here Be Dragons' and it's part of the 'Welsh Prince Series' by Sharon Kay Penman. They're not light reads, they average about 800 pages each. The series portrays the struggles that the Welsh faced in the shadow of it's stronger neighbor, England. The characters are so vivid they practically walk off the page. You'll definitely need a box of tissues handy when you read them! The next two books in the series are 'Falls the Shadow' and the 'Reckoning". I highly recommend them.

Another great book I read this summer is 'Water for Elephants' by Sara Gruen. It's so exciting, with a great romance story. The setting of the story on a circus train is just incredible, full of so many things I'd never even imagined, very exotic. It's a great beach read, it's hard to put down!

My book club selected 'Bossypants' by Tina Fey for our first summer book. It was hysterical. I read it at night on my nook while Jeff slept, and several times I woke him up snorting because the book was so funny. Tina tells readers about her childhood and coming of age. She also talks about being a woman in a mostly guy's club, and the obstacles she had to over come on the way. It's a quick light read, perfect for a road trip, the beach or a lazy afternoon.

The book I've most recently finished is 'The Help'. It's a very powerful book, dealing with racial tensions in the South during the Civil Rights movement. The main characters are African-American maids and the white women they work for. It's a bit of a more serious read, but it's also uplifting. I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out!

The book I'm currently reading is 'Dreams of Joy', Lisa See's sequel to 'Shanghai Girls'. Lisa See's characters are very well formed, you forget that they're not actual people. The story deals with the complications of a mother/daughter relationship as well as the relationship between sisters. Another element dealt with in the book is the change that China under went as it became communist and the struggles and corruption communism brought to the country. The book really makes me want to go back and reread 'The Good Earth' by Pearl Buck, which I think Lisa See is a fan of. I also have an urge to rereal 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell. There are so many interesting elements in this book to discuss, I'm kicking myself that 'Dreams of Joy' and 'Shanghai Girls' weren't book club books!

I still have books that I want to read this summer, one of which is 'Then Came You', by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Several of her previous books left me disappointed, but her last book, 'Fly Away Home' was closer to where she started as a writer and I really enjoyed it. I'm hopeful for 'Then Came You'. Another book on my reading list is 'Room', which is a dark story about a mother raising her son in while in captivity. I'm not sure I'll be able to get through that one. The next book for my book club is 'Winter Garden' which I don't know much about yet, but looks exciting. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fighting Back

One day last week I was lying in bed and wondering why I was there. The answer was obvious, that I was exhausted and couldn't do anything more. And then I began to wonder why I was letting that stop me from doing the things I wanted to do, from living my life. I realized that yes, I was tired, but I can decide to succumb to it, or push through it. I will grant you, that this attitude is easier on good days than bad, but even on bad days I need to do something.

Last week, thanks to an old acquaintance, I met a new doctor to treat my fibro. He's not a rheumatologist, but a chronic pain doctor. He also has actual fibro patients, I'm not one or two of fibro patients he treats, but about one of thirty he sees weekly. That's a lot of fibro experience. He wasn't happy with or complacent about my treatment either. My first doctor told me that he aims for a 60% recovery for his patients. I've always wondered why he didn't want more for them. This new doctor is willing to try new things, one at a time to see how I react to them. He's also willing to see me more frequently, once a month instead of once every three months. I'm sure that appointments will become farther in-between as the fibro becomes more stable. But he gives me hope, which is more than any other doctor has done so far.

Last week I started yoga again. It wasn't something I was planning on doing, but I got a groupon offer for classes at this studio and they offered some gentle yoga classes. Sometime I think things like that land in your lap for a reason, so I jumped on the offer. The class was definitely more challenging than my lost yoga class, which was mostly done in a chair*. It was hard but not impossible. I left the class sore, but feeling well. I also didn't realize how weak some of my muscles were, which was a good wake up call.

I've been lamenting the shape of the house for weeks, smears on the kitchen floor, crunched cheerios in the carpet, dust everywhere. I began to wonder 'Why can't I have a clean house? Who says it's impossible?". So last night I decide I'd take the house one room at a time and clean it. Thoroughly. So far the upstairs bathroom is done as well as the kitchen. I bought a large wicker bin for the living room to stow some of Doug's larger toys in.** I feel pretty good about what I've accomplished so far and look forward to finishing the job!

Have a great week!

*The last yoga class I did was a therapeutics class, full of mostly older women with various types of arthritis, so many things were done on a folding chair to accommodate that. To be perfectly honest, it didn't really feel like yoga to me. Also, folding chairs are not friendly to fibro type people. Ouch.

**The main toy room is in the basement, but Doug manages to have toys in the living room as well as his room, which got a toy basket long ago. I swear he's taking over the house!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back in the Saddle

So. Wow. Several weeks have passed since I've updated my poor little blog. Well, starting about May, my thyroid condition started to get worse, leaving me fatigued. I swear there are sometimes that I think my middle name is fatigue. Anyway, then a TON of family on Jeff's side came into town. His parents stayed for two weeks, it was a blast. Then right after they left his aunt and uncle from Texas visited while they were in town for a wedding. It was nice to see them again, they hadn't met Doug. Then we had a break for about a week, and then Jeff's aunt and cousins from Alabama came to stay with us for a week. While they were here another one of Jeff's uncles from Kansas City was in town with his family. They were all here during Jeff's birthday, which was really special, as he never has family here then. There were a LOT of people, but we all had a good time.

At around this time I started seeing a new rheumatologist for my fibro. It turns out that he's leaving that practice, which is really annoying, as I had done quite a bit of research to find him and I liked him. At least he was up front and honest about treatment. He started me on a new anti-depressant to see if it helped my skin sensitivity. It did not. Even if it did, I wouldn't take it. I'm just now getting over the side effects from it-more fatigue. I couldn't make it through the day without a nap, unless I slept in. There were days in which I really couldn't get out of bed for quite a while. Sundays were the worst. We missed a LOT of church. Today is the second day in a row I got up at 9 and did not take a nap. Praise God! I'm starting to feel more like myself again.

A week and a half ago, I was starting to get things back together. We were on our way to church, when we got into an accident. An SUV pulled out in front of us from a gas station, another SUV was on it's tail, he didn't see us on the main road. Jeff swerved to avoid hitting him head on and the other driver ended up hitting us, on my passenger side door. In the car port is my THIRD rental car in two years. Ridiculous. Anyway, it was pretty low speed, but I felt tired and sore for a few days, but it's alright, because Doug was fine. I don't think I saw the other driver hit us because I looked back to check on Doug. He didn't even realize there was an accident until he heard his daddy swearing a blue streak! I don't blame Jeff there. We're hoping we're done with car accidents in our life time.

Doug is being Doug. He's still signing tons. I'm pretty sure he says 'dada'. The trouble is, when he babbles, he mostly babbles 'da da da da da'. But I can tell there are times he says it with meaning. He will also say "bubu!" complete with blowing for 'bubbles' at times. I've noticed that he can say the first sound in some people's names, with intent. For example, if he's looking for my brother John, he'll say "Jah? JAH!". Doug will say "guh?" for 'grandma'. So we're just waiting for him to add more words and sounds to his repertoire.

So that's all for now, I'm hoping I'll be able to post more regularly.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ear Lowering

As you can see, both my guys desperately needed a haircut. We've trimmed Doug's ourselves before, but he's never had it done by a barber. Just cutting Doug's nails is an ordeal, so we dreaded the day we'd have to get his hair professionally cut. As he was starting to look more and more like Justin Bieber, we thought the sooner the better.

Doug did amazingly well, Jeff, the barber and I were a bit stunned by Doug's relative calmness about the whole ordeal. He watched Jeff and several other men get their hair cut first. The lady who was cutting Jeff's hair had her 15 mo little boy there. After a while, he and Doug began pulling toys out of the box and running around. I suppose the barber feared total chaos with two toddlers running around and so he summoned Doug and I to his chair. Doug wouldn't wear the apron or anything, but he sat in my lap and didn't squirm too much. The barber was great, he was quick and ready to improvise. For some odd reason, Doug didn't mind the razor, but he wasn't a fan of the shears. So the baber was able to finish the job using mostly the razor. If I do say so myself, the pair of them look quite handsome with their hair cuts!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Padawan

Doug has grown by leaps and bounds since I last posted, particularly with language development. At ten months he began saying 'hi' to everyone and everything. I thought that since his first word came in under the year mark that he'd have many words by this point (nearly 15 mo. old). The only other word he's acquired is 'hot'. I think he began saying it sometime after his birthday, but I wasn't ready to give 'hot' second word status. Initially, he would only repeat it when we said it, mimicking the sounds. Because he wasn't applying it, I didn't think it should count. I know, I'm a tough cookie. Then about a month ago Doug and I were playing in the yard while Jeff was grilling. When the fire began blazing out of the grill, Doug started staring at it. He began whispering 'hot, hot'. I decided we could officially call 'hot' his second word. Since then a number of things have been 'hot'; food on the table- including salads, grills, ovens, erupting volcanoes, fireflies* and Elmo. I have to admit, Elmo is the funniest, but it gives us some in-sight as to how he classifies some things as hot- colors. Red and orange things tend to be called hot.

Then there is Doug's signing. Even though I've taken several sign language classes, I bought a book on signing with babies when Doug was about four months old. I was very excited about it, but then the idea was put on the back burner when we put our house on the market. When Doug was about ten months old, I started to feel guilty that I'd abandoned the idea of signing with him, I was worried it was too late to start. I started with a few signs, but put a lot of emphasis on the sign for 'bird'. Doug loves watching our parakeet as well as wild birds. Sure enough, he mastered the sign in a few weeks. Shortly after, he made up his own sign for lotion- both hands rubbing. Since then he's been using quite a few signs; more, all done, swing, fan, and air plane. I picked things that he has a lot of interest in. 'Swing' was the sign he mastered the fastest; in less than a week.

It's been very exciting watching Doug learn to communicate with us. At times, I swear you can hear the gears in his head turning! I can't wait to see what he'll come up with next!

*He may have eaten a firefly the other night. I pulled one out of his hair to show him. It lit up in my palm, Doug declared it 'hot' and picked it up with his fingers. He considered it for a moment and then popped it in his mouth. I have no idea if he actually ate it or not. I screamed 'NO!" and Doug fell down. I have no idea where that poor firefly went.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Happy Boy

Today Doug's birthday gift from his Kansas City grandparents arrived. The company we bought it from delivered and set it up, the whole thing took a little less than two hours. And of course, luckily, the rain held off so it could be installed and so Doug could play on it.

Doug gave it a quick once over, and then ran over to the baby swing, which he very much enjoys. I think Jeff and I are going to have very buff arms after this summer. Or need physical therapy.

He was able to climb the ladder surprisingly well, once he got the hang of it.

The slide is fantastic. It was the one element that I was worried about playing with him on it on my own. It's design allows the child to slow down at the end, so Doug doesn't go shooting off of it. So, once he's sitting down on it, you can just let him go and not worry about catching him.

This child has frightening strength. He needed less help than we thought on the rock wall. Maybe I stood in front of the microwave too much when I was pregnant?

Best of all, half an hour on the swing set = nap time!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May The Fourth Be With You!

Do you ever have those days when you wonder what on earth is wrong with humanity? The other day I had several separate incidents in which I wondered what was wrong with this person!

Yesterday Doug and I met my mother and my grandmother for lunch at Red Lobster. We were seated in a large booth across from the hostess's desk. Before we left, I took Doug to the restroom to change his diaper. On the way back, across from our booth, we crossed paths with this elderly couple. The lady was using a cane to walk and walked several steps out of her way over to me. She looked up at me and said, "Can you do something for me?". I was a bit taken back, so I stumbled, "Uh, sure?". She opened her hand and she had two balled up Kleenexes. She asked me if I could throw them away. Totally taken aback and now shocked, I did. I walked 4 feet (!) to the desk and threw it away in the trashcan there. After I was done, I was a bit confused by the whole encounter. Normally, I wouldn't accept such a thing from a stranger. I understand that she was using a cane, and that walking wasn't easy. Believe me, she couldn't have found some one more empathetic. But she walked out of her way to me, she was closer to the hidden trashcan than to me. Also, why couldn't she have had her HUSBAND do it? Sticking them in her pocket wasn't a bad idea either. Needless to say, I purelled the heck out of my hands and vowed to never do such a thing again.

About an hour later I arrived at the store. Doug was passed out in his car-seat, so instead of carrying him around, I decided I'd get his stroller out. Now, let me tell you, that this week I've been a bit more fatigued and tired than usual. Also, possibly a bit whinier about it too. So, when I saw a spot that wasn't a handicapped spot and was close to the door, I nabbed it. It was actually the last regular spot and was next to a handicapped spot (on the driver's and car-seat side). I went and opened the trunk and began to unfold the stroller. Then I went and put my bag underneath the stroller, and lastly I got Doug out. His stroller straps are numerous. I'm not sure why, perhaps the makers thought the stroller would be involved in some sort of stroller demolition derby. I'm surprised it doesn't have a roll bar. But anyway, it takes a moment to get him all in, and during this point, I vaguely heard a car honk and I ignored it. After I was done, I noticed a van parking in a handicapped spot across from my car. As we came even with the first car in the handicapped spots, I saw a woman sitting in it with her window rolled down. She leaned out of it and said something along the lines of "the nerve of them honking at you when there are plenty of spaces!". So, basically, I got honked at because I was putting my BABY in his stroller and it wasn't happening fast enough for these people. I won't say that I didn't send a glare their direction.

Last night we were having a plumbing emergency*. At about ten thirty the plumber arrived and was getting his tools out of his truck when we got a phone call on our house line. Jeff answered it and said,"No, no, she doesn't live here. No, you have the wrong number." He then proceeded to give the caller the number she called (she asked) and then hung up. The plumber came in and Jeff followed him downstairs. I decided to try to start to get Doug ready for bed, as it was waaaay past bed time, when the phone rang AGAIN. Now, I think just about everyone agrees that past 10:30 it too late to call people. It's just rude and annoying. Also, it gets your adrenaline going, because you wonder, "Oh my gosh, what's wrong?", because decent people only call after then for emergencies. I answer the phone. The caller ID tells me that this is the SAME number that called five minutes ago. Sure enough, the caller asks for the SAME PERSON. Now, normally, I'm not rude to callers. I can and will be curt, but generally polite. But this person was clearly not getting that Annie did NOT live here! So I told her off (long day, plumbing emergency). I won't swear I didn't use obscenities, but I think I avoided it. It must have worked, because she didn't call back for Annie anymore.

This last incident happened today when I took Doug to the doctor's. It's more humorous and exasperating than the other incidents. Today we saw the nurse practitioner because Doug has a rash that I thought was eczema. The rash was apparently something seasonal and common that toddlers get, it goes away on its own, basically no big deal. So after she gave me this info, she proceeded to ask how things were at home. You know, who's at home with us, any more kids? Anything else going on..... (looking intently at me)? I was a bit flustered, about this and had no idea what she was getting at. I said no, just Doug and I, Daddy works.... Then it dawned on me that I must actually look how I feel for once (very sore and very fatigued). The undertone I was getting from her was like, "Well, does your husband throw you down the stairs every night?". I was amused that I must have looked how I felt, but I was too tired to get into the whole "Well, I'm a hypothyroid person with fibromyalgia, and if you could not use big words today, that would be great. Also, don't call CPS on us, because we're totally cool.". Maybe I should print up some handouts for next time? Too exhausting to go through it each time I see them!

*Very long, uninteresting, expensive story.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Down On The Farm

Saturday we took Doug to a petting farm about 20 minutes from our house. It was the first time he'd seen animals other than household pets. At first he was fairly cautious, but as the animals ran over to greet him, he became increasingly more comfortable with them.

Baby goats! So cute!

Doug was so delighted by this little guy that he plopped down to watch him. I'm fairly sure Doug would have been content to just hang with the goats all afternoon. We walked him away from the enclosure to show him some other parts of the farm, but he just kept running back to the baby goats.

He also fell in love with this little lamb. We were initially a little nervous about him petting an animal that was obviously a newb, but both he and the lamb did well.

Doug is fascinated by birds and was excited by the ducks.

At one point, Jeff put Doug on the ground near the pony's fence. Doug realized that he could crawl under the fence to see the pony and was thrilled, until we stopped him, that is.

The other part of this property is called 'The Enchanted Forest', and they have some fairy tale themed play ground equipment and some other things, like this pirate ship and wooden train.

The farm is called Clark's farm and it's out in Columbia. It costs about $5 to get in. There is a gravel/dirt path so you could bring a stroller or wagon* if you wanted. The area where the animals are is on a field, so if it's been raining that might not work out so well. It was quite a lovely afternoon, and I encourage all of you with small ones to visit the farm.

*That was my biggest question- was the place stroller or wagon friendly, and the website did not tell me! So, now you know.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Shearing

We both knew that a haircut was coming soon. Doug was getting rather shaggy on the back and sides. Jeff declared that Doug was getting a mullet. It was time to act. We'd been debating about how to best go about separating Doug from his hair. A barber shop would probably do the best job, but it would probably be a blood bath for all involved. Doug doesn't like loud noises and we thought the shaver near his ears would be a little too traumatic for him. And us. We thought that having him watch Jeff get his cut first would be a good idea. Unfortunately, being a toddler, Doug's attention span is only so long, so I wasn't sure how effective that would be.

Last night though, Doug presented us with the opportunity to do it. He'd just finished his bath and I was putting lotion on him (he has patchy dry skin again) and he was sitting quite still and quiet. So I called for Jeff to bring the scissors. Doug held still for the front of his hair being trimmed. I died a slow death watching the pointy, sharp scissors so close to his eyes (totally buying blunted scissors TODAY), but he did well. It wasn't until Jeff started cutting the hair over his ear that Doug started to get upset. I'm pretty sure it's about only 1/3 of the amount of meltdown we would have seen at a barber shop though.

The haircut is a little rough in some places. But we all survived, and hair does grow back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second Verse, Not The Same As The First

Doug is now into his second year of life. The good news is that we pretty much got the hang of parenting an infant. The bad news is, Doug is now a toddler. So, we begin learning all over again!

Our pediatrician warned us that tantrums are now on the horizon. I remember laughing at that, because earlier that day we'd had our first toy store melt down. We'd been checking out wagons, and Jeff took Doug out of one, after taking him up and down a few aisles. Well, Doug wasn't ready to get out, and promptly sat on the floor and screamed. It was kind of funny. We were glad to see that he liked the wagon and we decided to get it. The tantrums are interesting. Sometimes they're due to the communication barrier. Doug only says 'hi!', and I've been very lax on signing. He does know 'all done' and 'bird'. He also invented one for lotion -rubbing his hands together, like I do when I put lotion on my hands. Other tantrums I think are due to simple crankiness or just toddler stubbornness (he gets that from his father). It's been a rather interesting experience navigating tantrums, and I think my work experience has been useful. I sometimes see parents bombard their child with language during a tantrum, and I've learned that sometimes the best thing to do is to just step back and give him some space and some simple language. I stumbled onto this series of books at the library, one is called 'Teeth Are Not For Biting', there's also another one called 'Hands Are Not For Hitting'. I think they're great and I like the use of a simple easy to remember phrase. I think simple language and repetition are key. I wish I'd seen these books when I was working!

Doug constantly surprises us. He's very bright and doesn't seem to miss a thing. Every night before we read Doug a story, Jeff puts our bird up for the night. He changes his water and food and then puts two towels over his cage. Well, for the past week, Doug has been jumping up and bring Jeff a towel at a time to help put Hermes away! After he did so last night, Doug was flipping his hands over. Jeff noticed that and asked me what that meant. I told him that's how Doug signs 'all done'. So, I guess the bird was all done for the night!

The other day we took Doug to the Play Ground Super Store* in Columbia. We put Doug down a couple of slides and then we let him down. He walked around and then ran over to a baby swing and then proceeded to put his arms up. I was struck by the very purposeful way he communicated that he wanted to swing. Now! I ended up pushing him on the swing most of the time we were there and totally missed the salesman's pitch. Doug highly recommends the swings though!

I'm sure I could blather on and on about Doug, so I'll stop here :)

*On Mondays and Thursdays they have open play on all their equipment from 10-1, I think. If you're in the Columbia area, it looks awesome!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


That was the theme sound of our weekend. Things just fizzled out.

Friday night was the birthday dinner of one of my grade school girl friends. She planned a nice evening at a restaurant in Glen Burnie, the Bone Fish Grill. Jeff and I had actually been there recently and had a very nice time, so I was excited to go again. The catch was that the place doesn't take reservations for prime time dining on Friday, and there were twelve people in the party. So, my friend got there an hour before hand to get us on the list with the hopes that we'd be seated by about 7, 7:30, that is about what the hostess said, so we had high hopes.

Now, Glen Burnie is about 40ish minutes from my house and I'd only been there a couple of times with Jeff. Since I'd never driven there myself, I didn't feel too comfortable doing it by myself. Then you add to the fact that the fibro screws with my night vision and it was raining and then suddenly I'm your 65 year old relative who has to leave your house before dark. My parents weren't available to watch Doug, and we didn't have another sitter lined up. I really wanted to go, and Jeff very generously offered to drive me. We need a new washer and dryer, so he planned to have dinner with Doug in the area and then do some comparison shopping at the stores in the area while I had dinner with the girls.

This plan sounded good. When I got to the restaurant, my friends were in the bar, so I joined them. We chatted and had drinks and caught up on life. At about 8 or so (half an hour to an hour after we expected to be seated) the bar tender (who totally looked like Frodo Baggins, and oddly had a black eye) closed out our tabs saying that our table was going to be ready soon. We waited and waited and were starting to get restless. At about 8:45 we went to stand in the front of the restaurant, hoping to be seated soon. It was almost 9, and this meant that we'd probably eat dinner closer to 10. It was just too late. I couldn't let Jeff and Doug wait out all night for me. I decided I needed to leave, so Jeff and Doug came and picked me up. I was very disappointed, but it was really going to be a much later evening that I'd planned. For what it's worth, Doug had a very nice time at Chik-fila. He had a yummy dinner and a lot of fun in the play area. The Glen Burnie Chik-Fila has a much more awesome play place than ours. When we got home, the power was out. I wondered if we'd suddenly been relocated into Montgomery County. According to BG&E, one of the arms of a pole had to be replaced and our power would be on by 11:30, 1, then 3. Luckily it came back by 2, or else Jeff would have been sleeping in the basement*. And that was Friday.

I decided that Saturday we'd do something as a family. We decided on Thai for lunch and a movie, Hop. I didn't want to see Hop in particular, I just wanted to see a movie. We had a very nice lunch, the waitresses at the Tara Thai in Rio hadn't seen Doug since he was about 6 months old, so they made a big fuss over him, which he loved. We got to the movie, got some soda for us, chocolate milk for Doug and some snow caps and Reece's pieces. We decided to try Doug in his own seat in the theater and got a booster for his chair. We settled him between us and gave him some of the candy and milk. He was happy during the previews, he occasionally had to get up and stand on his chair and see all the people sitting behind us. When the movie started, he began to get restless. He wanted to walk around in front of us and say 'hi' to the people sitting near us. We tried to get him to sit in our laps, but he would have none of it and screamed each time. Jeff had finally had enough and took Doug to the entrance way and let Doug run around there. Every so often he'd try to sit down with Doug, but he'd scream again. This went on for at least 40 minutes and was miserable for all three of us. I decided that it was time to go. It wasn't Doug's fault. I think the problem was that he was too tired and our environment was too interesting for him to settle down and take a nap. Lesson learned, no more movies for a while.

Sunday was kind of a wash. I was too tired, drained and sore to get up in the morning, so we missed out on church. Most of the day was spent around the house. I watched a Hallmark movie I'd dvr'd a few weeks ago, 'Time After Time'. It was about a 55 year old man who accidentally went back in time and went to save his 30 year old self and marry his high school sweet heart. At one point, the events of the man's life had changed because of a choice he'd made with his second chance. The older version of the man had no memory of the events and they'd had no idea why. I felt they needed the Doc there with a chalk board showing the diverging time lines. It was a cute movie as long as you didn't think about it. Sunday was a very lazy day.

This weekend has made it painfully obvious that we need to think about an alternate baby-sitter. It's kind of a difficult time for Doug now because he has separation anxiety. I also don't want to subject anyone to a screaming toddler for a few hours.

No electricity means that Jeff's CPAP machine doesn't work, which means that I don't sleep due to the monstrous snoring.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday's Misadventures

Wednesday is story time day, so to ensure that we make it on time, we start the day a little earlier. It was about 9:30 when I got out of shower when I heard the door bell ring. I knew that it must be FexEx delivering my new Vera Bradley diaper bag/purse hybrid. I was so excited about it that I nearly ran to the door in my towel! It was very difficult to take the time to get dressed because I was so excited and relieved it came. Anyway, so I got dressed and got Doug dressed and situated with breakfast and I began to load up my new bag. I love it! It's perfect for us, all my stuff fits on the outside and all Doug's paraphernalia fits on the inside. I'd been looking for something like it for a while and hadn't found anything satisfactory and this bag came rather highly recommended. I wasn't pleased with the price tag, but it is both a purse AND a diaper bag (also, I opted for, gasp! last season's colors, which are decently discounted). Best of all, I only needed to take one trip to the car when we left for story time.

It is a bit of a behemoth of a bag. My mother told Doug that it looked like I had a suitcase. I don't disagree.

Unlike previous weeks, this week story time was rather uneventful. I brought my bag in with us and had everything with us except Doug's sippy cup. I don't know, maybe I'm old school, but I don't think drinking in the library is really appropriate, even if it's in a separate room. Because I left Doug's juice in the car, every other child of course had a sippy cup. Naturally, Doug wanted one too. He tried to deprive several children of theirs. So, lesson learned, no more story time without a sippy cup.

After story time, he was totally exhausted. I waited, with him asleep in the backseat of my car, for my mom to come over so we could go shopping. My favorite pair of sandals died an untimely death the other day when I tripped and ripped the thong out of the sole. I also had a gift card to use at the Croc store, and wanted to check Old Navy out for more jackets in the next size up for Doug. So to Arundel Mills we went! I was out of luck at Old Navy for the jacket, but scored big with a Star Wars onesie for ten bucks! Next we went to to Off Broadway shoes where I got a new pair of Sketcher's Tone Ups* for $10 less than the Sketcher store halfway up the mall. Doug was a bit finicky at the Croc store, and I was glad I had my mom there to help out. He didn't like the price tags attached to the shoes and was so distracted by them that all he did was squat down and pull on them. My mom finally found a pair in his size (the sizes are vague) and we got him to walk by chasing her around the store. I decided to get them and rather than take them off, put his socks and shoes back on, we just ripped off the tag and let him wear them home. I'm lazy and it was easy. I did see some some adorable Star Wars charms for the shoes, but I thought there was a strong likelihood of Doug pulling them off and popping them in his mouth. So maybe next summer.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of toddler feet? They're constantly moving!

My mom and I expected Doug to pass out in the car, but he was awake the whole way home, and awake when Jeff got home half an hour later. Since it was still light out and warm, the three of us set out for the park. We had a nice time there, but left after a while when some older, rowdier kids showed up (Doug is easily mowed over, being short and all). We decided on Chipotle for dinner and by the time we got home from dinner, Doug had finally passed out. We put him down in his crib for a late nap and settled on the couch with The Empire Strikes Back. All in all, not a bad Wednesday.

*I don't think the shoes tone at all. But they're very comfy on my knees and feet and I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of running this Summer....

Thursday, March 31, 2011


So this was the scene the other day in Doug's room. I was putting away his laundry and he was moving around his room like a small tornado. He came upon his book shelf and systematically started ripping every book off the shelves. This 'activity' , lets call it, (I don't want to use the word 'behavior', it makes me squeamish) actually started a few months ago. He had started to become very difficult on the changing table, constantly reaching behind himself to get into the diaper organizer to grab things. I initially thought that he just wanted to play with something while he was being changed. A few weeks later I observed him with some of his toys in the basement. He has a toy pot with vegetables in it. Every time some one puts the veggies in the pot, Doug pours them out. The same with his ring stacker toy, he rips them off. He also tries to empty his toy box and the laundry baskets. I started flipping through our copy of The American Academy of Pediatrics book and only found that this emptying thing is a skill to master. I was like, um, check! I also have no idea how one year olds are supposed to 'play', other than in an investigation sort of way. He can roll a truck back and forth and turn on many of his toys. He's starting to kick a ball. I am just flummoxed. I don't know if this is atypical behavior, a phase or a personality quirk. Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Story Time

This week I took Doug to story time for the first time. I've been attempting to do it for some time, but for one reason or another, it just hasn't worked out. One of the problems we had with getting to story time, is that it's so early. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but a story time at 10:30 is a little bit tricky for us to get to. It takes at least an hour and a half for us to get out the door in the morning. This includes a shower for me, dressing myself and then doing something with my hair. Then I have to change (usually twice) and dress Doug. After than, I have to shovel some breakfast down his throat and get his coat on and gather all his paraphernalia. It's exhausting. However, now that Doug is one, he now can go to the toddler story time, which starts at 11:15 and is a much more manageable time for us.

The other issue was my fibromyalgia. I am usually tired and sore in the morning, so getting up and out isn't always an option. Lately Doug has been sleeping in until 11:30. I blame the time change and my need for extra sleep. Recently I've started a new drug which really seems to be helping with the pain and fatigue. So it took a while for us to get all our ducks in a row for story time. Crazy, I know.

When we got to the library, we arrived a little early for the toddler story time. I asked at the children's desk where it was, and we were ushered into a room where a story time was already taking place. At first I was confused, I thought that maybe the time had changed. It turned out that we were in the story time for infants. I mostly deduced this from the fact that Doug was the biggest child there. We stayed for the last half of that story time and stuck around for the next story time which was for toddlers.

The story time for toddlers was a different beast entirely. Doug got into a couple of scraps with a few of the other toddlers. Most of the kids were up and walking around and getting into stuff. There were a few people from the earlier story time with older children who also stayed on for the next story time. The girl and her mother that had sat next to us stayed too. The girl was a little tiny thing, yet she was walking around kissing everyone. Turns out she was only 7 months! She'd started walking when she was only 6! Anyway, at one point her mother offered her some Gerber puffs. Doug loves those things and he saw this go down. So, Doug being Doug, toddled over and looked at the mom expectantly. She asked me if it was ok, and then offered the cup to Doug, who promptly grabbed three of them. After that I grabbed him and sat him on my lap so he didn't finish off the little girl's puffs. Unfortunately, Doug didn't think he'd had enough puffs. He kept wandering over to the mom and badgering her. She hid them, but Doug is all over object permanence and tried to get to the hiding spot. As a desperate move, I grabbed him and clipped his pacifier to him, hoping that if his mouth was busy, he'd leave the puffs alone. It seemed to work for a while. At one point, Doug wandered into the middle of the small room with some of the other kids. He walked over to a little boy exactly his size. They stood very close sizing each other up. Doug didn't have his pacifier in his mouth, but he was fingering the leash it was on. The little boy noticed this. Doug noticed the little boy eying his pacifier and got antsy. Luckily, before the little boy made a grab for it, his mother grabbed him. A few minutes later, the little girl that we'd been sitting next to noticed Doug's pacifier as well. She had one clipped to her clothes, but nearly knocked Doug over trying to get to his. As they were both close to me, I popped her's in her mouth, and the crisis was resolved. The last scrap Doug got into was when an older and much bigger boy knocked him over. Doug cried, mostly because he was surprised and didn't see it coming. Over all, it was a pretty positive experience. Doug enjoyed seeing other kids and it was nice to have something to do. A reason to get out of the house. I think we'll be back next week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Saturday was Doug's first birthday. We had a rather largish party for him, I think in all about 30 people came. We had a total blast! Doug really enjoyed it. He didn't take a nap all afternoon, he didn't want to miss anything!

Our gift to him was this sand and water table. We didn't fill it with water because it was only in the 60's. All the kids seemed to enjoy it. Doug had never seen sand before, so we weren't sure how he would react. He was so excited by it that he kept grabbing handfuls of it to show us. Remarkably, he never ate any of it.

Initially, Doug was eating his cake very nicely off of a fork. But then he decided to give the people what they wanted:

I actually had cake all over my shoulder from picking him up.

Doug got so many balloons I thought he'd float away!