Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Magic

I think most people have a memory from their childhood that is magical. For me, it was my first major league baseball game. When I was very small, I loved the Baltimore Orioles. One day my parents put my brother and me in the car and told us that they were taking us to a surprise. They tried to see if we could guess where we were going, but we had no idea. I think we guessed a toy store and then we thought we might be going to see my aunt and uncle who lived in Baltimore. I don't think we ever managed to guess. At any rate they took us to see an O's game at Memorial Park. I don't remember much about the game itself, just that it was an amazing and fun surprise for us.

Having a fun memory like that for Doug is important to me. Last week we decided rather spontaneously to take Doug up to Strasburg to see Santa on the train. We'd done it the year before and Doug loved it. I was a little apprehensive about the 6+ hours in the car for us, there and back. I was exploring our options when I recalled the Red Caboose Motel which can be seen from the train. I checked it out and it was pretty reasonable. Moreover, sleeping in a caboose was going to blow Doug's little mind. We decided not to tell Doug where we were going, to make it a surprise.

Doug wasn't really able to guess what we were up to. He had decided that we were seeing Santa. I'd told him earlier in the week that we'd see Santa at my high school. Because of the trip, we ended up not going. In addition to Santa, Doug was also convinced that we were going to see some animals. I have no idea where he got this idea. Luckily for us, The Red Caboose Motel has a petting farm.

Doug was very excited when we pulled up to the motel. Jeff went in to check in and Doug was begging me to stay in a red caboose. I told him that I had no power to make that happen, but we lucked out and got a red one, thank goodness.

When we woke up Saturday we had breakfast in the Motel's dining rail car. The hostess wisely seated us next to the window so we could have a view of the tracks and the Strasburg station. Doug was quite pleased because he got to see the railroad crossing signal go down three times while they coupled the engine to the passenger cars.  He also got to see quite a few Amish buggies go up and down the road. FYI, according to Jeff, an open buggy is an "Amish convertible".

We decided we'd buy tickets for the train ride when we got to the station. The first train ended up being sold out, but we were able to get on the second one. We attempted to go and do some shopping in the railroad themed shops, but Doug would have none of that. He insisted on being outside to watch the train. It meant he wasn't begging us to buy things, so I couldn't really complain. He really has a one track mind.

Doug was absolutely delighted by the train ride. An interesting aside, Strasburg runs two Santa trains at the same time, half an hour apart. So at one point, the trains meet and stop so one can pass the other. When this happened, Santa had just walked into our car, and then he was gone! He had evidently ducked into the bathroom. We noticed that Santa couldn't be seen on the other train either. Evidently to protect the Santa story, the Santas hide, so that the children won't see two Santas at the same time or Santa on the other train.  I thought that was well done!

Doug got to meet Santa and had a wonderful time. Even though we'd told him many times we were going home, he was still disappointed when he realized we were almost home and wouldn't be sleeping in a caboose again. I fear that no other hotel shall live up to the caboose. I hope we were able to create a memory for him to cherish.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And That's Why We Have Turkey at Christmas

This is Doug's Nativity set. My mother gave it to him last year to keep him from playing with my nice set and much to my delight, it's kept him from trying to get to mine and he loves to play with it. It's become a nice learning tool for Christmas.

However, it has become a bit unconventional. Most of the things that came with the set are further back in the manger. Doug has been adding other toy animals to this set, as you can see. I'll admit that I placed them more strategically for this photo, Doug usually just lumps them all in there.

Doug's assortment of creatures helps answer some questions while bringing up other important issues. For starters, you can clearly see that in Jesus' time people were concerned about the environment. Case in point, the wise man opted for a compact camel. You will also undoubtedly notice the dinosaur present. Many people are very confused about evolution, Jesus, and dinosaurs. You can clearly see that there was a dinosaur present at his birth. The writers of the gospels left them out, probably because dinosaurs were so prevalent in those times that they were easily forgettable. Another item of note is the ginormous squirrel. Either there was some serious exposure to radioactivity in those times or evolution has made squirrels smaller. I'm afraid that one poses more questions than answers. You have probably also noticed the dolphin. The birth of Jesus was evidently so momentous that sea creatures were drawn out of the oceans and into the desert. I don't imagine the dolphin lasted long once he got there. And lastly, this scene finally answers the age old question, "Why do we have turkey at Christmas when we just had it at Thanksgiving?". The answer is simple: because there was a turkey present at the first Christmas. As you may be able to see, the turkey is standing very close to the cook fire. It may have been intentional to make turkey for dinner that night or perhaps the turkey was accidentally pushed into the fire. We may never know for sure.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Man

Meet Charlie, our elf. He came to us from the North Pole (Target) to keep an eye on Doug for Santa (Mommy & Daddy).

I had seen these elves in the stores for a while now and I was hesitant about getting one. Other people's children either loved them or feared them. But after three time-outs on Friday night, I decided it was worth a try.

Doug was interested from the beginning. Saturday night he came out of his bath to find Charlie perched on top of the entertainment center. We read the story that came with him and reiterated several times that Charlie will see if you're being naughty or nice and tell Santa Claus, who will in turn bring you more or less presents. You can't tell Doug that Santa will bring him coal. He loves coal. He has a collection of coal he has found while watching trains with Grandpa. So rather than a threat, he'd be over the moon to get some more .

There have been several times when Doug's not doing what we told him (cleaning up, sitting down to dinner, etc) and we've said to him, "Charlie is watching you!". At which point he usually jumps up and goes and does whatever it is we've asked him to do. The other night we were having dinner at my mom's house and Doug was having no part of sitting down to dinner. Desperately, I showed him a large snowman salt shaker and told Doug that the snowman knew Charlie and would report back. Doug was not impressed. I've also told him that Charlie has friends in stores who can report back to him. This keeps him from running around the store like a maniac and heads off the issue of running into a whole display of elves (Charlie's friends. They're watching you!). I also make a point to tell Charlie how well Doug did something, so that Charlie doesn't become 'The Man' (Elf) and Doug won't resent him.

I have to say, so far I'm pleased with this new tradition. Doug's begun to clean up hos toys without much fuss from me. I think we may modify St. Nicholas Day to say that St. Nick sent the gifts via Charlie, who's seen Doug being good (hopefully) to help reinforce the message that Charlie reports back to the bog boss. Hopefully this will continue to work right up until Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Sanctity of Tuesday

You know the opening scene in 'The Emperor's New Groove', where the old man gets in the way of the song and dance number and Emperor Kuzco throws a hissy because his 'groove' was thrown off?

That was me last week. Except I wasn't yelling at a little old man, but at the government.* You see, doing nothing on Tuesdays is totally a thing around here. Going to vote is definitely a thing. A thing that totally threw me off my groove. Voting is something that involves me not wearing my PJs and dragging Doug with me and standing in a looooong line. All things I hate doing (except the being with Doug part). I did try to vote early, but believe it or not, the line was worse. At any rate, I was able to drop Doug off at my parents' house and then go vote. Missions exasperatedly accomplished.

I take Tuesdays off, they are my crash days. I take this very seriously. Well, as seriously as you can take something when you sit around in your PJs for most of the day. Let me explain the origin of the 'Crash Day'. Having a few chronic illnesses makes me a tired person. Most people who know me well, will hear my say "I'm tired" about 673 times a day. Doug even knows this. He'll look at me and say, "Mommy's tired."** At any rate, when the fatigue starts to build up, the pain will too. Such that when I know I've over done it, my muscles will begin to twitch as sort of an early warning system (which is occasionally too late to do anything about it). I have found through experience that if I ignore these sign and keep on going about my business during the week, I crash unexpectedly. By setting aside one day a week in which I don't need to leave the house, let alone get dressed, I save a lot of energy and restore myself. Its kind of like when firefighters are fighting a forest fire and they set their own fires to prevent the blaze from spreading. By intentionally taking it easy once a week, I prevent most other fatigue crashes. It's brilliant.

Monday was  my day to crash for a while. We're usually busy on weekends, running errands, fun outings and going to church. Mondays I was tired, so it was a natural day for me to take it easy. Then Doug's story time at the library moved from Wednesday to Monday. I realized I could hold off my crash day for one more day and the Tuesday Crash day was born.

Crash day is a wonderful thing. I do look forward to it every week. On Tuesday morning, I permit myself the luxury of letting Doug watch a DVD, by himself. Doug will wake up, and then I'll change him and dress him and fix him something easy and non-messy for breakfast. He'll usually have dry cereal (for whatever reason, he's not big on milk in his cereal), toast or a cereal bar and some milk. I will then turn on a DVD of his choice, usually Olivia or Thomas, and then go back to my room, leave the door partially open, and then lay down for about an hour. Occasionally Doug decides to be the world's most persistent snooze alarm, and come in about every twenty minutes or so. Sometimes he comes in because he wants something, or he needs a snuggle or he just wants to check in. Either way, I'm totally fine with that. Then I'll get up, Doug and I will hang out, I'll make him some lunch, and then it's nap-time for him and more relax time for me. He'll usually nap until the second shift, Jeff, gets home. I usually have something quick ready for dinner on Tuesdays, or Jeff will make something. It's really amazing what a difference taking it easy once a week can make!

*In my defense, albeit for different reasons, I probably wasn't the only one yelling at the government last week.  

**Over the summer when I had a bad flare up, he looked at me and said that, and then told me to go lay down. How can I argue with that? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You'll Thank Me When You're Literate

I've been debating for a while about when I should more formally introduce the alphabet to Doug. In my b.c. life (before children) I used to teach children to read.  Additionally, I love to read myself, so literacy is something that is near and dear to me. I put it off for a while to get potty training off the ground (still very much a work in progress). But Doug is now very interested in letters and mostly can sing the ABC song.*

Last week I was inspired by Jeff's cousin's blog. Alli is doing a theme every month and starting the theme with a box with items in that theme. That really sounded like fun and got my creative juices flowing. I decided that I would introduce a letter by putting items that began with that letter in a box, along with a coloring page, courtesy of  Sesame Street printables and a large foam letter (left over from our large alphabet mat. What a pain in the butt that was).

I have various other actives and crafts planned to go along with this. After we looked in the 'A' box this morning, there was a letter 'A' hunt. I had printed out twelve large and differently colored 'A's and stuck them around the basement for Doug to hunt for. When he came down the stairs and saw the first one, he proclaimed, "That's letter A!" (thanks you, Sesame Street). I thought each day we'd do a 15-20 minute activity involving the letter and spend a week or two on each letter. He's grasped 'A' rather quickly, so I think we may only spend one week on it. In addition to learning the symbol (I'm only showing him the capital letter right now) we're also learning the short vowel sound for the vowels. If he only comes out of this with a knowledge of the letter names, however, I'll be happy. I mean, he's only two and a half. So far so good with the short 'A' sound though. I've also decided to use Sesame Street videos about various letter skits (today it's 'A's Anatomy'). It's actually letter 'A' week on their website!

Here's some pics of learning in action:

I decided, just for the first time, I'd gift wrap the box (I'm awful at wrapping. If you get something from us that's nicely wrapped, Jeff did it.). Initially, I thought Doug would be mighty pissed off unwrapping a box of his own toys, but he was quite excited.

 And yes, we're still totally in our pjs. It's a rainy Tuesday morning.

Here Doug is examining the contents of his 'A' box.

Doug has found his first letter 'A' on his 'A' hunt! He totally loved this activity. 

So far so good :)

*As an educator, one of my biggest pet peeves is when an adult proclaims a child "knows their ABCs", when what they actually know is the song, not the sound to symbol relationship, which is far, far more important.  End of rant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The summer has just flown by! I have to say, I'm glad it's done and almost fall. Summer is always a bit tough, I seem to be more prone to fibro flare ups, and indeed I had a nasty one in July. Just as I got over that, my thyroid decided to join in the fun too! I was worried about our trip, but my doctor was able to diagnose my low thyroid just in time! We went out to Kansas City for the last week of the summer. It was nice to visit with my in-laws and Doug always loves seeing them. I feel that we were really able to get potty training well under way while we were there, with four adults watching Doug, he was taken to the bathroom quite a bit. But we got to relax and more importantly get out of the rut that my illness had set us into. It was very cleansing. I think I'm back on track and I'm totally ready to enjoy my favorite season of the year: Fall!

Until next time, here are some pictures of our Kansas City fun!

This first set of pictures are from Lego Land. Doug asked to go back there just about every day.

In this picture he's helping his Pop-pop make a house out of tissue box sized rubber Legos.

There were small wading pool sized tubs of Legos and Duplos everywhere! They had some farm animals that Doug absolutely loved. However, they didn't have them for sale in the store!

They also had some cute Duplo cupcakes. They only came in pink however, Doug loved them regardless.

After going to Lego Land, my brother-in-law recommend this place for lunch, I think it was called 'Fritz's'. You meal was delivered via train and a basket. Both Doug and Uncle Matt were very excited about this!

Here's a shot of Doug looking at the trolley that went by our table.

Here comes our food on the train!

Doug's great grandmother, Nan, came over from St. Louis to visit with us for a few days. On one nice day, we went fishing. After about 15 minutes, Doug caught a fish. And then he was done.

Unfortunately, this cool park was right by the water, and after he caught his fish, Doug wanted to go slide and play.

The last two days we were there, the remnants of hurricane Isaac caught up to us. There was lots and lots of rain to play in!

The second rainy day we headed up to the mall to wear Doug out before we got him in the car the next day. The mall has this fairly unique two level carrousel.

We all had a good deal of bbq and fun in Kansas City!

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Friday!

It's finally Friday! I don't know what it's like else where, but here in the D.C. metro, it's been raining on and off all day. I was alerted to the rain a little before 8 this morning. Doug came into my room and announced, "It's RAINING Mommy!!!". It was a little more excitement that I can deal with at that hour of the morning, but I didn't want to rain on his parade, as it was.

It has been a loooong two weeks. A little over two weeks ago, I rolled my foot/ankle coming down our deck steps while carrying a chair. That minor injury sent my fibro into a tailspin and I've been stuck in a lovely little fibro flare up since then. Today is the first day in a while that I was able to promptly get out of bed in the morning. Due to that and the rain, I decided that Doug and I shall bake!

The most serious mind, baking takes. Also country music.

We got off to a bit of a dangerous start. I had left the chocolate morsels on the counter and pushed Doug's chair up to it. I turned my back for a fraction of a second, only to turn around to catch him using the paring knife to open the bag of chocolate! I freaked out a bit checking his hand for cuts, which upset him. I usually let him sample some of the chocolates, but because he was upset I let him sample more than was practical for making chocolate chip cookies. I ended up opening a bag of peanut butter chips and making chocolate and peanut butter cookies instead. They turned out to be quite delicious! I attempted to get a picture of Doug eating the cookies, but no dice. But believe me he's enjoying them while watching Cars.

It's the perfect day to cuddle up on the couch with some cookies and a movie! Happy Friday!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Time!

This summer kind of feels like a manual car being driven by some one who has no idea how to drive stick (like me). It goes on quite well for a while, and then stalls out. We started out the summer with a cold that Doug brought us and that took me forever to get over. Then we had a fantastic time at the wedding of one of Jeff's frat brothers in North Carolina. Then we got slammed by the Great Land Hurricane of '12 and lost power for nearly 6 days. We've been playing around with my fibro medication as well, which has given me mixed results. We're very excited about going out to Kansas City at the end of the summer.

Due to a lack of energy and a lot of time to make up for, here's a ton of pictures of our summer so far, one picture being worth a thousand words and what not.

This is a picture of the sign that hung in every stall in the bathroom of the wedding reception we went to. The reception was on a lovely pier that is evidently trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, the toilets used 'reclaimed' water, so they thought this sign was necessary:

So you know, stay out of the toilet because of the reclaimed water, not because it's a toilet. Funny side note, you couldn't go into the bathroom without hearing people snapping pictures of this sign.

This is a picture of Jeff and me at the reception. We had a great time, it was our first trip away without Doug (just two nights). Initially I was a little apprehensive about going to the wedding of one of the frat brothers, but due to the heavy presence of the wives, all the guys were on their best behavior and I didn't see anymore of them then most people (no odd nudity).

Here's some random pictures of backyard fun:

Catching lightning bugs!

Hanging out in our inflatable pool.

In June we were supposed to go to the baptism of my friend's son. I lost the invitation and we wound up at the wrong church and completely missed the event. The reception was to be held at a park, and the whole time Doug kept asking from the backseat "Park? Park?". We finally decided to head home, get changed and head out to Wheaton Park. Why not make some lemonade? Doug had a blast but kept on asking about seeing his friend Nora (the big sister of the baptized). I had to keep telling him that mommy was the flake and not Nora. Doug managed to have a pretty good time anyway.

The train ride is very serious business!

The 4th of July turned out to be another one of those happy accidents. We'd left my Uncle's house early because Doug was getting cranky and we knew he wouldn't sleep there. We drove my Grandma back to her place and Doug slept the whole time. He got about an hour and a half worth of sleep in the car. When we pulled into our drive way I realized that the city's fireworks were about to start in 40 minutes. We hurried up, ran into the house and re-provisioned and headed out to find a spot to watch the fireworks. We ended up in a parking lot across the lake, the perfect distance to see the fireworks without them being too loud. We were also at an easy exit to go home without fighting too much traffic. If we had planned it we couldn't have done a better job!

Doug was enthralled with the fireworks. He can be iffy about loud noises, so we were prepared to leave if we needed to. He only cried when they were over, he wanted more!

The weekend before last was supposed to be gorgeous, no rain and in the low 80's.We took Doug on his first trip downtown and on his first Metro trip. Of course it misted on us all day, but I'll take that over 100 degrees.

Our first stop was the American History Museum, the transportation section. Here Doug is rather excitedly pointing to a truck.

We also saw the dinosaurs at Natural History. Here is one very tired little boy passed out on the Metro ride home:

Til next time!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mini Vacation

I didn't actually go away over the weekend, but I still feel like I had a small vacation.

Friday morning my mother came over to get Doug and whisked him away for a day with my parents. Soon after that I set out for Tyson's Corner Virginia. I didn't even mind the drive out there, it was peaceful to sit in the car and listen to my own music without some one occasionally screaming for 'Rainbow Connection' to be played again (and again, and again..). Once at Tyson's I met my friend Bridget at her hotel. She actually was having a very well deserved vacation. From there we went to Leesburg where there's an outlet mall. The big draw for us there, well at least me, was the Vera Bradley outlet, which was absolutely amazing! Walking into the store was almost visually overwhelming for me, so much to see in so many patterns and colors! We walked around for a while looking at the various styles and patterns offered. The deals were fairly good. They also had a deal that day that gave you half off a second item, which I thought was decent. I was kicking myself for not having waited to replace my baby bag*, but I do love the newer pattern that I got it in. Initially I picked up a large duffel bag, but after walking around with it, I remembered that we had actually bought a nice duffel bag before I went to the hospital to have Doug, so there really was no need for another one. I did want a really big bag though and settled on the 'Get Carried Away Tote' in English Meadow, one of my favorite patterns. I decided that the bag would be good for day trips and car trips. Jeff looked at me like I had three heads that evening, but that's why I went with Bridget and not Jeff. I also picked up a new address book** in the same pattern. I used great self control and only bought two things there, keeping my total at about eighty bucks. I'm very proud of myself.

Of course there were many other stores there. They had several children's clothing stores, so I bought clothes for the one person in my family who absolutely didn't need any***. I got Doug another helicopter shirt so that I don't have to constantly tell him that the only shirt he wants to wear is in the laundry. I also got him some more pjs, one of them a 3 piece set so he can have long pants to wear in the fall/winter and a cute Elmo short set which he wants to wear constantly. I also got him a cute snap button down collared shirt to wear from Old Navy. We were just about to leave when I noticed a Corningware and Pyrex store. I only bought two things, again showing great restraint. I got a cute lunch box sized dish with a nice top that will vent for microwaving and a larger oval oven safe dish with the same sort of lid. I may have bought them purely because of the hot pink and purple lids. Bridget fretted that Jeff would never let me go shopping with her again.

The next day Bridget and I went up to Gaithersburg to a book festival to see the Bloggess, Jenny Lawson. It was an outdoor event, just borderline on waaay too hot. Jeff drove us because it looked like parking was going to be nutty, and it was. He and Doug went to a lovely park near by and then to see trains, so the two of them had a nice time. The tent (or 'room' as the website misleadingly called it) that Jenny Lawson presented in was swarmed by women before her presentation. As soon as the previous speaker left the stage there was quite a hustle for seats. I know we were very lucky to get seats at all! I think Jenny Lawson may have been one of the bigger draws that day, because she was in one of the bigger tents. She walked right by us, escorted by several cops, to get to the stage. She read from her book 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened', which is hysterical. She was very witty and genuinely nice. After the reading she went to another tent to do signings. As I had read the book on my nook, I went and bought a hard back copy for her to sign. The line went on forever, but Bridget and I met several funny women waiting in it. The whole thing was a total estrogen fest. After that, Jeff and Doug picked us up and we went out for a yummy BBQ dinner. Doug requests nothing else these days.

Sunday ended up being more laid back than I had envisioned. We took Doug to Sunday school for the very first time. He loved it so much he didn't want to leave and we heard about what he did all day long. One of the older boys in his class went out of his way to befriend Doug. It always amazes me how inclusive young children are with each other. After church the plan was a nap for Doug and then I'd plan and write up a grocery list and go shopping while Jeff stayed home and did the laundry. We ended up laying down too for a short bit and then abandoned the others chores we had in favor of going out for Thai and then to Barnes & Noble. It ended up being a nice way to end a very lovely weekend.

*I've love, love, loved my Baby Bag, but I really wanted a bag with a shoulder strap, so I bought the Metropolitan, which is a great mommy bag. The only draw back is that I lost the pockets on the side for juice cups, but that's a small loss compared to getting a shoulder strap, which has already proved its worth.

** I didn't listen to my mother and used ink to write addresses in my previous one, and once people moved and divorced and split up, it was hard to change things, and white out of any kind didn't work well. I had to type the part about my mother being right in a smaller font.

***Although, my mother did remind me that I should buy more t-shirts for Doug in the next size up for next winter. He doesn't like long sleeved shirts at all, and I had a hell of a time finding short sleeves in January. Again with my mom being right. What is that about?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Drowning Worms

Doug went fishing for the first time this past weekend with his Pop-pop, Uncle John and Jeff. We went to a lake that was pretty close to home. It turned out to be a decent day, warm, but overcast.

Doug didn't have his line in for more than a few minutes before he caught his first fish!

It was a small bluegill. His Uncle John took the fish off the hook for Doug. Doug's biggest concern was that the fish get back in the water quickly. He then went on to catch two more fish soon after. His technique was simple: have Daddy cast out the line, and then slowly reel it in himself, and then have Mommy or Daddy help reel the fish in.

After he caught his third fish, he got a little restless. He began to leave his Star Wars fishing pole on the ground and wander away from it. Luckily, a large fish wasn't interested in his line. Doug and I then spent some time at the playground near by.

After a little play break, Doug was ready to get back down to business. He saw several small catfish that John caught. Doug seemed to enjoy fishing and is eager to go back out and try it some more!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Toddler Strikes Back

Last Friday I yet again cruelly chose to take a shower by myself. Doug started throwing a tantrum by banging on the locked bathroom door, but after a few minutes left to go off and either play or watch the DVD I put on for him (at least that's what he wanted me to think). When I got out of the shower, he ran up to me and said "Mess!". I said "Yep, what else is new?". I had left him with some cheerios and some juice and I was expecting to find cheerios (aka carpet bombs) all over the floor. It's annoying, but not the end of the world.

Instead I found this:

He had over turned his basket of toys all over the floor, but more importantly, he got into the DVD cabinet, which has 'child-proof' locks!

Here's a close up of the cabinet:
Notice the lock casually tossed onto the couch. The lock has a sliding mechanism and loops over the two knobs of the cabinet. My guess is that the lock was left a little loose by our recent house guests and Doug was able to pry it off. I put it back on and told him to take it off and he wasn't able to. Or maybe he was faking... I don't know. We don't even keep his DVDs in there, his are in a drawer in the entertainment center with a different style lock on them. Yet another misadventure in living with a toddler!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Douglas James, International Sensation

On Saturday night we decided to go to a local Chinese buffet for dinner. Buffets with Doug are fantastic. Because of his age, we rarely have to pay and he gets to eat a ton of food. I'm pretty sure we're ripping restaurants off when we take him.

When we got there, we could see a large tour bus in the parking lot, but it didn't seem to be too crowded otherwise. We went in and got a table right next to the entrance. Doug was already clamoring for food, so it seemed our choice of a buffet was inspired. I took Doug up with me and had him pick out food (he picked out veggies!) and then dropped him off at the table to get my own plate. After we'd been eating a while, Doug stood up in the booth and flirted with the people standing in the foyer behind us. After a few times, I looked over my shoulder to see that Doug was flirting with some older Asian women. Once in a while they'd smile or wave at him. A few minutes later, one of the ladies was playing peek-a-boo with him and then tickling him suddenly. Doug was enjoying this and he didn't seem to be bothering them, so I let it continue. The very next thing we knew, we were surrounded by at least a dozen Asian people, all smiling and waving at Doug. None of them spoke English. It was slightly over whelming. They gave Doug high fives, held up fingers to see how old he was and pinched his cheeks. Doug was a bit staggered by his sudden audience, but seemed to take it all in stride. They gave Doug kisses and candy, he sent kisses there way too. It was kind of an awkward 'well, now you've said hello, we're eating, but you're still here' sort of thing that lasted waaay longer than it should have. Finally one of the tourists who spoke English came over and was telling us that they were saying that Doug was cute and wanted to take a picture of him. We consented and after a couple more high-fives they went on their way. Hopefully they were able to see that not all American children are brats. Possibly the oddest experience we've ever had as parents.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Choo Choo I'm Two!

I wish I could take credit for the title, but it was on a shirt my mother gave Doug for his birthday. Instead of having a big party like we did last year, we decided on having a small family gathering this year. The day before his birthday we had my family over for BBQ and cake. On Doug's actual birthday, Jeff stayed home and we let Doug open his gifts from us. I think Doug had a fairly good time.

He had a Thomas themed cake this year. Surprising, I know.

My brother surprised Doug with fish! They are a big hit and are still alive a week later!

We gave him a Thomas alphabet puzzle that he had to put together right away.

We also gave him a trike, which he's still getting the hang of.

This is a slice of cake on his actual birthday. Doug's version of the birthday song goes something like this, "Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday! (blow, blow)". We never did manage to get that on video.

Here's to the beginning of the third year!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Growing Up

This past week I feel like Doug's been growing up by leaps and bounds. I know two is just around the corner, but it all seems so fast!

Last Friday I thought I'd selfishly take a shower all by myself. I'd tried earlier in the week to just let Doug roam the upstairs while I showered. I made sure things were out of his reach, the gate was shut and I put his Elmo potty video on. I think the shower was on for about 3o seconds before he came running in shouting "SHOWER! SHOWER!". I'd left the door open because I didn't feel comfortable locking him out of the bathroom, in case he got hurt or needed me. I relented and let him in with me. So, on Friday I decided to go back to my old stand by, putting him in his crib with his toys. After I did that I went to check my email really quickly, and I heard furious screaming, and then jumping and then the door knob rattle. Sure enough, he some how got out of his crib. I decided he'd 'earned' a shower after that feat. After the shower, he went and sat down on his potty and peed in it for the first time since January. Since Friday we've gotten him to use the potty 2-3 times a day. Saturday I suggested a pull-up diaper, and he kept repeating "pull", so I got one out and put it on him, and then he ran into the kitchen, to the door just wearing a diaper shouting "pull! pull!". He desperately wanted to get outside. It took me a few minutes to figure out that what he was actually saying was "pool! pool!". He was under the impression that he was wearing a swim diaper, and wanted to go for a dip in the neighbor's nasty above ground pool despite that it was about 40 degrees. I bought him the cutest little Thomas the Tank underwear the other day, with the intention of having him wear them around the house for a few hours each day. But nope. Everything that is not a traditional diaper is evidently a swim diaper and you cannot convince him otherwise. So for now we're still using diapers. I suppose he'll just have to get over this with time.

We decided that we it wasn't safe for Doug to continue sleeping in his crib. In January we had taken the side off the crib, and Doug loved it during the day, but had a total meltdown that night, so we put the side back. When my in-laws came out in January they brought Jeff's old bed with them, which my father-in-law had made. We went out Friday night to look at mattresses. The bed is a little narrow and a bit shorter than a regular twin, so we didn't think we'd be able to find a mattress and were planning on special ordering one. We lucked out big time. We walked into a store and right by the door they had a mattress that would fit, on sale! We managed to fit it in the car and drove it home. We got the bed up from the basement and while I dashed out to Target for sheets, Jeff disassembled the crib. I managed to get the last set of Thomas sheets. Doug was pretty psyched about his big boy bed!

The first night, I laid in there with him until he fell asleep, about 15 minutes. Saturday night didn't go quite as well. For over an hour and a half I was in and out of his room. Finally, I just left. I'd moved his night light and changed it's color. I'd made sure his room was quite and as dark as he would tolerate. He popped out of his room about 3 times, and then we locked him in from the outside. The actual lock is on his side, but by using your thumbnail, you can turn it. And as I just found out, he can unlock it himself. After about 5 minutes he was asleep. We unlocked his door for the night and checked on him, he was asleep in his bed, all nice and snug. We haven't had to lock him in since. He'll open the door, scream and cry and then shut it. He definitely knows he's supposed to be in his bed. Nap time isn't going so well, he mostly plays in there. Hopefully he'll get over the novelty soon. Other than being a bit resistant to staying in bed and falling out (low tech solution: body pillow) he's adjusted well. The next big change will be turning his car seat around.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Accepting Failure

One of the effects of having a chronic illness or two can be a some what restricted life style. Most of the time when I look at my life under a small lens, I see that things are mostly fine and well. But if I look broader, I see that some aspects of my life are just not coming together as much as I'd like. And I'm starting to believe that's okay.

I recently started reading a book that was recommended to me called 'The Ragamuffin Gospel'* by Brennan Manning. I'm not too much more than 50 pages into it, it's a rather 'deep thought' kind of book, but I'm really getting a lot out of it. The central theme of the book seems to be about God's grace for us, and that we can't do anything to earn it, it's just given to us as a gift. Essentially, God knows we don't have it together, and that's okay.

This book was recommend to me ages ago by my pastor. I kept putting it off and putting it off and then last week I ran out of things to read and remembered this book. Some times when I pick up a book, it's the right time for me to read that book. Like I'm ready to experience it, that I may not have appreciated it as much if I'd read it earlier. That seems to have happened with this particular book. We've started the New Testament in my Bible study and I was starting to feel that I wasn't doing enough as a Christian. I started thinking "Well, now there's potty training, healthy shopping and cooking, exercise, Bible study, Church, story time, quality play time with Doug, quality time with Jeff and some time for me so I don't go postal, and oh yeah, let's work in some volunteer time too!" Yeah. I don't see it all happening either. This was helping me feel more anxious and overwhelmed. Then at one point in this book, a single mother tells the pastor that she feels called to a soup kitchen, but doesn't want to leave her kids with some one else. The pastor said something along the lines of ' you being a mother is enough for God'. And then my mind went "ooooh". It helped me let go of some of the anxieties in my life.

I have trouble sometimes accepting limitations due to illness. Things like not getting to church, or story time or making dinner for my family. I've come to slowly realize that failing can be okay, that I need to let it go. Tomorrow is another chance to make things right.

My ragamuffin.

*The full title is 'The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out'. See why I thought it was appealing?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time Out!

I don't believe in spanking, I don't think it accomplishes anything. However, Doug was thisclose to a spanking yesterday. Recently I've begun letting Doug out of the grocery cart with me when I go shopping, provided he doesn't take off and run away. The last few trips to the store he's been very good, staying with me and helping me put things into the cart. We've had a lot of fun by having Doug help us find and count produce. In general the trip is less of a headache because he's not screaming to get out or running away from me.

So yesterday we went to Target and he was walking with me and helping me load the cart. After that we had to go to the grocery store. He wanted to get out and walk next to me and because he'd been so good, I was ok with that. We went up a few aisles, got some produce and then went to the condiment aisle. I was looking for some individual packs of ranch dressing for Jeff's lunch and Doug was roaming up and down the aisle looking at bottles of 'dip'. I then heard a rattling sound and realized that the bottle Doug had just picked up was glass. I very calmly told him to put it down as I walked toward him. He smirked, held the bottle over his head with both hands, and threw it with all of his toddler might. Glass and bbq sauce everywhere! I was shocked and absolutely horrified. To Doug's credit, he was pretty shocked too. I'm sure that he didn't know that the bottle would break. I don't remember what I said to him ( I was still in shock) but it was something along the lines of "you are in SOOO much trouble and there will be a serious time out when we get home!". I plopped him back in the cart and went to find an employee to alert about the mess*. Several minutes later I brought Doug back to the aisle to show him that some one else had to clean up his mess. For the rest of the trip, Doug was pretty subdued. He wasn't dancing to the in store music anymore or pointing out things he knew the words for. He mostly just calmly sat in the cart.

I usually give time outs right after the offense, otherwise Doug is unlikely to remember what he's in time out for. But a time out in the store isn't quite as effective as one at home and I thought this deserved a good one. When we got home I put him in his crib, his designated time out place and he began to jump in his crib, clearly enjoying himself. I realized that the crib no longer has the desired time out effect, so I had to come up with something fast. I realized that I could strap him into his highchair and put him in the middle of the dining room, which ended up working out nicely. After his three minutes, I talked to him about what he did and why it wasn't a nice thing to do. I have no idea how much, if any of it sank into him. He was rather exceptionally good the rest of the day, possibly because I told him that I don't take naughty boys to see GG (my grandmother) and he'd been talking about going over there all day long.

I was really glad that there weren't any witnesses to the 'Great Bbq Chucking' of '12. Had I seen that, my first thought would have been 'Wow, what a brat!'. And there was definitely some part of my mind that thought that. I know that the incident was pretty extreme for Doug. He did only intend to throw the bottle, not shatter it and make a huge mess. I may laugh about it at some point, just not this week.

On another completely unrelated note, I got yelled at by a door to door salesperson yesterday. It had happened shortly after I debriefed Doug on his time out. The doorbell rang and Doug started screaming, which is unusual (the screaming and the doorbell). Typically when the bell rings, we're expecting some one and I tell Doug that so and so will be over and he's all cool with that. So after calming down a freaked out toddler, I looked out my window and saw a young woman who didn't appear to have anything identifying her with any company. I thought that she could be a neighbor, so I opened the door. She then launched into some sort of spiel. I very politely, but firmly asked if she had seen my sign.

A quick word about my sign. The first month we moved into this house, we were getting solicitors at our door a couple of times in a week. I don't buy stuff from people going door to door. I don't give donations to people going door to door. I don't join new religions of people going door to door. I just don't do it. If some one is an obvious solicitor, I don't even open my door. So we got this lovely plaque for our mailbox, which sits right next to the door frame. It's bright red and says "NO SOLICITING!". Best three dollars I ever spent at Home Depot. All of our friends and family who've visited our house have noticed it. We had trouble on Halloween with parents not sure if it was ok to ring our bell. So basically, what I'm saying is that people notice the sign.

Anyway, back to my lovely saleslady. She said, very rudely, "Now why would I look at your mailbox?! You should put it on your door!!!" Again, the sign is about 3 inches from the door bell. I shrugged, said 'No thank you' and closed the door on her face. There were a lot of things I could have said but didn't. Like, 'Oh, I'm sorry you aren't able to read" or "Wow, I know soliciting is a pretty big word, do you know what it means?". Sigh.

Thanks for letting me get all that off my chest!

*I admit that I told the employee that Doug had dropped the bottle, not pitched it with all his might. It's also not a store we go to often. Or will probably go back to for a while...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Off and Running

I think the title should be more like 'Off and Walking' or 'Off and Strolling' but I thought the one I chose looked better. Anyway, we're a week into the New Year and life is going well. I love the holidays, but I'm glad they're over. I like it when our schedule relaxes and things can go back to normal. We do have a bit of a birthday blitz in the next two months, but that's not as crazy or as all consuming as the holidays can be.

I've started feeling better. I do tend to do better with my fibro in the winter. It's something about the heat that tends to increase my level of fatigue. Conversely, my hypothyroidism tends to get worse in the cold months, my thyroid's activity tends to decrease and I experience more aches in my joints. I'd rather be dealing with thyroid issues then fibro ones as the thyroid is relatively easy to fix. I've also been off of Lyrica for about a month and a half now. We added Lyrica to my regimen about a year ago to help deal with my skin sensitivity*, but it didn't work, so it just got increased and increased until I was taking a mind boggling amount of it. It was also causing unpleasant side effects, so I went off of it, which took forever because its a drug you have to back off slowly. So I noticed that when I was in Kansas City for Thanksgiving, that I didn't need to take naps that week. That was the first full week I was off the drug. Then one of my girlfriends mentioned that she'd been on a mood stabilizer that was causing her lots of fatigue. Then it just clicked into place. So now that I've been off of Lyrica I've had more energy. I was taking naps almost daily in the fall, and I rarely got anything done.

We've had a very definite upswing on the quality of our lives. The house is cleaner and more organized. We've eaten more healthy homemade dinners. Doug's gotten more quality play time. We've been attending church more. Yesterday we hit story time for the first time in months! So, here's to you, 2012! Lookin' good!

*The skin sensitivity has a fancy smancy name: tactile allodynia