Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Choo Choo Fun and a Trip to the Podiatrist

(Just so you know, the choo choo fun had nothing to do with the podiatrist, I just stuck the two topics together for this post. After I wrote the post title, I was imagining how many different ways the choo choo set could cause me to have to see the podiatrist. I figured I'd better clarify.)

One of Nick's birthday presents (from Grandma Toni) is something called the Geotrax Timbertown Railroad. It's a remote controlled train set meant for two-year-olds, and Nick loves it. If the train gets off of the track (stuck, as Nick would say) all he has to do is put the train back on the orange part and it realigns itself.

Nick plays with his little train just about every day, and he loves the remote. (What man doesn't?)

So if no one stepped on the train, why the podiatrist visit? Well, ever since I had to put away my cushy, comfy flip flops, I've been having intense foot pain in both feet, and my regular doctor recommended I see a specialist. I had to take Nick with me, and that's why I'm writing about it. This visit was pretty hilarious in retrospect, though I was just a little mortified at the time. It's the moments like this that I don't want to forget.

When I was called into the examining room, Nick immediately discovered the rolling stool. He pushed it all over the room and put his monkey on it. Then, he greeted the doctor at the door with a big, "Hi!" As the doctor sat down and started asking me questions, Nick went behind the examining chair and located the control buttons. He started making the chair go up and recline. The doctor thought this was pretty funny. I helped Nick sit in a chair at the other side of the room, but a soon as I sat back down and took off my socks, he crawled down. Then he stood right by the doctor.

As the doctor examined my left foot, Nick came around to my right side and grabbed the other foot, repeating everything that the doctor did. "Sock off," he said. "Mommy's toes!"

The doctor found the problem immediately. Apparently I have something called "acquired equinus deformity of the foot (x2)," plus a contracture of my achilles tendon. I walked on my toes as a child and that screwed everything up. So I have to see a physical therapist and get some orthotics for my shoes. Sigh. Makes me feel vaguely geriatric, at the grand old age of 32.

The main thing the doctor talked about was the tightness in the muscles on the back of my calf and in my foot. Nick actually kept repeating what he said. "Too tight!," said Nick, holding my foot. "Mommy foot tight." I'm wondering if Nick might have a future in medicine. My son, the podiatrist.  :)  Nice thought. I bet he'd make a good doctor. He's already picking up the bedside manner. Perhaps I should get him a doctor's kit for Christmas, so he can begin to work on his skills.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Putting Up the Christmas Tree

Today we put up the Christmas tree. Nick helped.

We are lucky in that our tree is prelit, and does not have to be taken apart each year. It simply sits in the basement until after Thanksgiving, when Greg carries it upstairs and plugs it in. Sometimes we have to clear off the kitty dustballs, but other than that, this tree is good to go. Nick decided to use his broom to help clear off the cat hair. At least, I think that's what he was doing. I believe he said something along the lines of, "I'll help clean it." right as he picked up his broom and started whacking.

I didn't shopping on Black Friday this year--at least not to the stores. I did some online shopping, which was less exciting but also less stressful. When there is free shipping and online coupon codes, why bother to go out? We got into the Christmas spirit at home, and Nick even helped put on some ornaments. Of course, he also helped take some ornaments off. . .

For some odd reason, the focus is off on these pictures. I think it's the lights from the Christmas tree. But you can see that Nick helped me decorate this year. I put the breakable ornaments way up high, and Greg brought up the baby cage so that Nick can't actually crawl under the tree and knock it over. (Believe me, he would try!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Exciting 2nd Birthday Party for Nicholas

Last Saturday, Nicholas had his 2nd birthday party, and man, was he excited. Mostly, this was because of all the balloons. I don't think he understood what was happening until everyone arrived. My dad and stepmom brought Nick his own huge rocking bull, and his eyes got really big when he saw it.

Isn't it cool? Besides riding this bull, Nick also likes to pull on his tail and poke him in the horns. But he doesn't bite, so it's okay.

I did a plane theme for his birthday, because planes are just about Nick's favorite thing ever. I designed his invitation to go with the theme. Here's the front of it, below.

The company really invigorated Nick--he ran around with a ton of energy, playing and talking with everyone. We were so glad so many friends and family members could come to help celebrate his birthday. I made Nick's cake myself, and it turned out okay, considering that I'm in no way a cake-baking expert.

I did a half chocolate, half yellow cake, with a homemade buttercream frosting that I dyed blue. You would be really surprised as to how much blue food coloring it takes to get to this sky blue color. Then I made sugar cookies in the shape of airplanes and decorated them to put on top. The clouds are simply white writing gel. The important thing is that it tasted good, and when Nick saw it, he said two things: "Cake!," and, of course, "Airplane!" So he got the point.

Many of Nick's gifts went along with the transportation theme as well. See his airplane and his cool Thomas the Train set? The picture below has a weird angle and lighting, but I wanted to post it because it shows the exact moment when Nick realized that all of the presents were for him. Do you see the look of realization on his face?

The evening only got better from there. I'm hoping that Nick was entertainment enough, because other than the food and chatting, watching him was about all there was to do. But he was eager to please, and he tried to keep the crowd engaged..

In the last few months, Nick has loved singing the Happy Birthday song. I'm pretty sure he understood that we were singing it for him, because he didn't join in. Instead, he just grinned.

Then he ate some cake. Quite a lot of cake, actually.

I think Nick has decided that birthdays are a very good thing. I do hope that my boy isn't getting too spoiled, because he's often the center of attention. We'll work on things like rules more during this third year of his life. It is so amazing to see him growing and changing all the time. I am constantly astounded by the things my son notices, does, and says. All of his family and friends helped to make this a wonderful birthday. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nick Turns Two!

Last Wednesday was Nick's 2nd birthday. We've been really busy getting reading for his party, which was last night. I'll post pictures of that later. For now, I'll just post some pictures from Nick's real birthday. I made cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting, and we had a mini celebration at home with me, Greg, Grandma Toni, and (of course) Nick. I bought him a balloon at the grocery store, and it gave him hours of enjoyment.

Nick didn't really like it when I lit the candles on his cupcake. He looks rather perturbed.

Then, he was downright scared after we helped him blow them out. The smoke freaked him out, I guess.  Since my boy is mostly fearless, I guess it's a good thing that he has a fear of smoke and fire.

His fear turned to pleasure and excitement when I took out the candles and he found out that the cupcake was for him.

Nick gave my cupcakes a very messy (but positive) review. We had to give him a bath because he had dark chocolate frosting up his nose and even on the back side of his hair.

He got to bring some to daycare on Friday, and when I got there Friday afternoon to pick him, all of the kids had faces that looked just like this. I guess the dark chocolate frosting was a hit.  :) 

Nick's 2nd birthday was relaxing and fun. I am still astounded that my little baby is two! He's not a bay anymroe. Right now, in fact, he has scooted a chair over to the table and climbed up to try and steal a cookie.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Running Errands With a Nearly Two-Year-Old

It's become more interesting lately to take Nick on errands. He's much more talkative, and also far more demanding about what he wants and what he does not want. We pick our battles, but Nick definitely knows the meaning of "No." Today Greg and I went to rent a video, and our little man enjoyed running up and down the aisles. He also loved sitting in the director's chair, pulling dvds from the shelves, and trying to swipe candy bars. It is exhausting but never boring teaching him boundaries.

We also had to pick up some groceries, and Nick adores the grocery store because of all the people and the colors and the things to grab. Near the end of our shopping adventure, my blood sugar started to drop, so I went to buy a few munchkins from the Dunkin' Donuts in our Walmart. Nick immediately started shouting, "Please! Me eat! Please mummin!" I told him that they were doughnuts, not muffins, and he adjusted his demands accordingly. "Please doughnut! Me eat!" Stuffing an entire munchkin in his mouth, Nick grabbed for the bag, snatching another one. You'd think we didn't feed the boy.

I adore the look on his face in the picture above. He looks like he just got caught doing something naughty. Lest you think that Nick subsists on doughnuts and mummins, please understand that today he also ate greek yogurt, whole wheat bread, chicken, rice, a whole apple, and pasta with plenty of shrimp, asparagus, and red pepper.

Today was a pretty good day. When Nick woke up this morning, he climbed next to me on the couch with one of his favorite books, "If You Give a Moose a Muffin," by Laura Numeroff. "Mummin story," he demanded. Then he started to climb into my lap, exclaiming, "Lap story!" I do believe I read that story three times this morning. "Again! Mummin Again!" Nick loves pointing to the moose and the muffin every time they appear and naming them. He has this thing about muffins. I actually don't mind rereading stories; Nick has pretty good taste in books, and reading together is our thing. I've been reading stories to him since he was only a few wees old. I think that reading with him is actually my favorite thing to do with him--I'll always remember sitting with him on my lap with a story.

I love Nick's velour track suit. It was a hand-me-down from one of my teacher friends, and I think it's adorable. Greg said that when he wears it, he looks like he was about to go for a run. it's a 2T, and it actually fits him, though I had to roll the waistband so it wouldn't be too long. I can't believe Nick is going to be two this Wednesday.

I haven't been posting as often as I'd like during the last few weeks. Fall always makes me tired, and the time change has really messed me up. Plus, I have had multiple days of parent conferences, doctor's appointments, and family visits. I'm really looking forward to having a five-day weekend for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Week With Nick (Guest Post)

This is a guest blog by Melissa's husband Greg. I have been on vacation for the past week, and I took the opportunity to have some bonding time with Nick.

On Tuesday, we went to the Brookfield Zoo together. We got there a half hour before they opened their gates, but that didn't stop Nick from doing his happy dance when he realized where we were. Nick entertained the other waiting guests by dancing around in his squeaky shoes and shouting "ANIMALS! ANIMALS!" Once we were inside, Nick especially liked the turtle at the Swamp. He and the turtle had a tender moment as they shared a kiss with ony the glass in between them.

Nick and I then moved on to the Living Coast, where we enjoyed the penquins among other creatures. Nick was fascinated by the crashing wave, which first scared him, but then drew his curiosity like a magnet.

After our adventure at the Living Coast, we visited the Rain Forest, where Nick received an up-close demonstration of how to care for a boa constrictor.

It was a really exciting day for both of us. After five hours of running around, Nick was ready for a long nap.

On Thursday, we were joined by Grandma Toni and took a trip to Chicago to see the Museum of Science & Industry. The highlights included an exhibit featuring a retrospective of Jim Henson's work. There were no pictures allowed, but Nick was able to see Bert and Ernie and Miss Piggy up-close and in puppet. Nick got to create his own story using several etch-a-sketches, and got to use his own hand puppet to put on a show with the other children there.

Nick really enjoys planes, so he was thrilled to see an Omnimax show featuring the making of the new Boeing 787, as well as an old 727 in person. Here is Nick conversing with the captain of the 727 about its various innovations:

On Friday, we spent the day relaxing at home, reading stories and watching episodes of Sesame Street. Combined with trick or treating on Halloween at Grandma Linda and Grandpa Ray's place, it was certainly an exciting week for Nick. It was a good week for me too. I look forward to my next vacation with Nick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trick or Treat!

On Sunday, Nick dressed up as a little monster. He really, really enjoyed running from house to house and ringing doorbells. I'm afraid now that whenever we go on a walk, he's going to want to ring doorbells. I don't blame him. Some days I wish the whole "ring the doorbell, get some candy" thing worked all year.

Just like last year, Nick went trick-or-treating with an entourage. Nick's Grandma Toni, Grandma Linda, and Aunt Mandy went with Greg and I on our candy-seeking adventure. We took turns taking him to the doors. He kept trying to climb on the porches the back way. Front walks do not appeal to Nick.

This year, Nick was able to say, "Trick or Treat!" However, he never once said it at the door. He would say it while running down the sidewalk, or walking on someone's lawn, but whenever we got to a door he'd clam up and just grin. That's okay, though. His grin was enough to earn him the candy.

Nick wasn't sure what to think when he saw himself in his costume. But he didn't seem to mind wearing it, and at least it was pretty warm.

Well, Nick sure tired himself out trick-or-treating. He also tired out his whole entourage. But it was a great Halloween. Nick's daddy has already eaten most of the candy.  ;)