Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

I'm not usually one for memes, but I think these end of year recaps are actually pretty interesting to read. I've enjoyed reading those that others have written, so here is mine for your consideration. I borrowed this meme from Jennifer, although I've seen it in multiple forms all over the Internet. I've interspersed it with pictures of Nick playing in the snow, for no particular reason. (Other than the fact that the pictures are cute, of course.) Today the snow actually melted, so Greg never did have to shovel. His philosophy is, "Why shovel it when it will just melt eventually." He was right.  : )

So here we go. A recap of my 2010:

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Swam in a corn pool. That was awesome.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Well, I kept some of them. Specifically #2, #5, and #6. Although, to be honest, the only reason I kept #5 is because I hired a cleaning lady to come in a few times and help me organize it. But that counts, right?

As for #2, about eating healthy, I was doing pretty good until the end of the year, when I was pregnant. Something about pregnancy horomones make me crave foods that are not good for me. Specifically orange foods: macaroni and cheese, cheetos, spaghetti o's, etc. If an eight-year-old would love it, that's what I've been craving. Not that I don't eat healthy most of the time--it's just that I've been eating far more processed foods than I would like. Strangely enough, though, I weigh 6 pounds less than I did this time last year, and I'm 16 1/2 weeks pregnant! I hadn't lost a pound since leaving the hospital after having Nick, and I only started losing weight when I found out I was pregnant in October.

Yes, I'll probably make some more resolutions for 2011. Will I meet them? Sigh. Judging from my track record, perhaps I can meet 50 % of them. That isn't actually too bad, considering.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope, but I will next June.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
 No, thankfully.

5. What places did you visit?

Greg and I went to Chicago in June, and up to Northern Wisconsin in September. Oh, and I went to Iowa in October.  

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Hmm. Not sure on that one. Perhaps being able to walk without pain in my feet. I'm pretty grateful for the life that I have, and I know I'm not the only person who'd like more money and more time. Even if I had more money, though, I'd just use it to outsource jobs that I hate so I could have more time for myself and time with my family. 

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I never remember specific dates, but I know for sure I'll remember Nick getting his first haircut. I still miss those curls. Oh, and Nick breaking his arm. Poor guy.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Actually, blogging itself, I think. I have a hard time sticking to things, but I've kept up with this blog pretty regularly for a year and a half now. This year, I averaged about 15 posts per month, which isn't too shabby. I'm pretty proud of myself for that.

I'm also pleased with how far I've come with my gardening and plant tending. I've killed far fewer plants this year, and while my thumb definitely isn't green, at least it isn't the death signal for anything within a 10 yard radius.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Exercise. I did a great job the first part of the year, and then it kind of fell by the wayside. Between medical issues, a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy, fertility drugs, and then finally getting a pregnancy to stick, it just wasn't a priority. I've exercised, but definitely not 4 times a week, and I skipped exercise entirely during the first trimester of this pregnancy. The last three weeks, though, I've done physical therapy at least 3 times a week for an hour, plus exercising at home. So maybe in January I'll just get on the elliptical again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yup. Especially the last few months, my feet have been driving me crazy. When I wake up, I hobble and limp, and sometimes my legs go out from under me a bit. The podiatrist says that if physical therapy doesn't significantly improve my pain and range of motion, I'm probably going to have to have tendon lengthening surgery on the backs of both of my legs once this baby is born. So needless to say, I've been working my rear end off during physical therapy and keeping up with the exercises at home.
11. What was the best thing you bought?

Buying things makes me happy. One of these days I want to do a post on the awesome things I've been finding at TJ Maxx--just little, inexpensive things that make me smile.

But the best thing? Our new living room set, probably has the greatest impact on my daily life, since I spend way too much time sitting on it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband's, of course. He does all of the dishes and most of the cleaning. As we speak, he is folding the laundry that I never got around to taking out of the dryer. But I can't forget the hard work of Nicholas, who mastered both walking and talking this year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

People who judge, especially xenophobics and those who close their minds to the opinions of others. Even though my husband and I are agnostic, liberal democrats, I have quite a few friends who are religious and/or pretty conservative. But we can have conversations and find middle ground, with both of us agreeing that morality can come in many contexts other than religion.

But what really gets my goat is when people pre-determine their opinions without knowing all of the facts, and only educate themselves about one side of an argument. This depresses me, because it reflects on the weakness of our educational system--no one is taught to debate constructively nowadays.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills. Mortgage, student loans, car payments, etc. My husband and I together have more than $90K in student loans, so this sucks up a lot of what would be our discretionary income. Ah, well. That's what happens when two people with Master's Degrees get married. Plus, both of us have careers where we can make a deep impact on the lives of people in need. That should count for something, right.  ; )

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Finding out the results of the CVS testing in December. It was like my whole body, which had been tensed since October, spontaneously relaxed. I know things could still go wrong, but for some reason, I couldn't get even a little bit excited about the pregnancy until I got those results.

Also, we were thrilled when Greg got his promotion in September. He used to be a Clinical Therapist (LCPC) for children and adolescents with mental illnesses. Now he is the Clinical Supervisor for the entire Adult Mental Health Department at his company.  He also got a nice little raise, too, and in the middle of a recession. Now that's something to get excited about.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Unfortunately, the theme song to Calliou. Nick loves that show, and I've heard the theme song so many times it often runs through my head while I'm sleeping. I need to listen to some better tunes in 2011.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?  Hmm, probably a little happier or about the same.

b) thinner or fatter? Strangely enough, I'm 6 lbs. thinner even though my belly is already sticking out. I'm sure that trend won't continue for too long, especially since Greg bought us cheese fries for lunch.

c) richer or poorer? I think poorer, thanks to the housing market. We'll work on paying down debts this year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Being outside when the weather was nice. I really miss sunshine and the smell of flowers. I think I need to schedule outside time for myself everyday in the spring and summer for 2011.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Desperately searching for missing items. I'm notoriously disorganized. The only bright spot was that in 2010 I finally gave in and hired a cleaning lady to come in and help me get stuff in order. Hopefully I can afford to keep her coming in 2011, because after she comes, I can find my stuff for a good week and a half.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Which one? See my last few posts for an in-depth description, but basically we spent Christmas up to our ears in wrapping paper, toddler toys, and naughty foods.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

Not in the traditional sense, although I definitely fell in love with a few blouses, some really cool flowerpots, and a new fuzzy blanket for the couch.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I like Glee and Modern Family, although I haven't allowed myself to watch lately. You see, TV is my bribe for working out on the elliptical trainer. I only let myself watch when I'm exercising. Since I haven't been exercising, I skip the shows. My master plan is to rent the DVDs and work out to those and get caught up with TV as I get caught up with exercise. We shall see, however.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I'm not a hate kind of person, although I definitely get ticked off at someone every now and again. This morning it was the jerk who cut me off and stole my parking space at the Costco. But I'll be over it by tomorrow.
24. What was the best book you read?

What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell

I also really liked Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees. I figured out how to reserve books from the library online, so I've been doing that this year, and it has really cut down on my amazon budget. Though I miss getting those nice new boxes of books in the mail.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Sigh. That playing music in the car keeps my son happier than when I listen to NPR for the whole drive home. He'll even shout at me, "Mommy, want music!" I miss my news.

26. What did you want and get?

A new couch. In fact, we got a couch, a loveseat, and a nice armchair.
27. What did you want and not get?

A nice shelf to put our tv on and a flat screen tv to replace our late 1990s model.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We liked "The Kids are Alright," and "Milk."  Honestly, though, we didn't see many movies.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Do you know, I actually had to look it up on my blog, because I honestly couldn't remember. Greg took Nick and I out to a nice seafood place. I turned 32.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A really nice vacation. I'd love to go to Europe again, or on a nice cruise with lots of beaches.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Fashion concept? I don't exactly have one, although I certainly spent enough on clothes. For much of they year, it was "Hide the baby weight I never lost." Then, during the end of the year, it was, "Find clothes that make me look pregnant instead of fat."

32. What kept you sane?

Coffee, definitely, and the reading of books, magazines, and this little thing called the Internet. Also, time spent playing with Nick, whether reading, playing blocks, or coloring.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

James Tupper from "Mercy," a soap-opera-ey show that got cancelled.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?

All of the teacher bashing that went on. I'd like to see all of the so-called "education reformers" spend a week in a poor, urban classroom and then talk about how it's the teacher's fault those students don't meet standards on the state tests.

35. Who did you miss?

Hmm. I guess it's not a whom but more of a what. I missed going out with friends and having fun without kids being around. Something about having a toddler tends to stifle any semblance of a social life.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Probably some of my new coworkers at school. I really work in a great place, and it's been great getting to know the new members of my team.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

With doctors, don't assume that they remember who in the heck you are. Remind them, and ask them to read your chart before they see you. Also, do not hesitate to call, and then call again, if your questions are not answered.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Old McDonald had a farm, E I E I O." I must've sung that song ten thousand times with Nick. He begs me to sing it again and again, especially in the car. During nice weather, I'm sure the nearby cars thought I was a total nutjob, singing my heart out as I drove down the road.

Happy New Year everyone! Tonight, we're going to be doing a nice bit of nothing. Pizza for dinner, then probably homemade popcorn with real butter later. No drinking for me, but maybe I'll treat myself to some nice earl grey tea around ten p.m. If I don't, then I won't make it to midnight without falling asleep.  ; )

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Post #4: Santa Came Late

Since we spent Christmas Eve night and all of Christmas Eve day at my mother-in-law's house, Santa decided to hold off on leaving presents until the night of the 25th. Since Nick cannot read a calendar yet, no harm done.  ; )   He was pretty excited when he came downstairs to find what Santa had left him.

Santa noticed that Nick loves building with his Mega Bloks, which I picked up from last year for $7. So he brought Nick a whole new box of Mega Bloks, plus a table for building. He was duly impressed.

Nick also got a neat train puzzle that, when completed, makes train noises. Plus, Santa brought him a stamp set with vehicles and colored pencils, so that Nick can stamp his own airplanes and fire trucks and then color them in. Or, he can get ink everywhere and smear it on the furniture. Either way, he'll have fun.

I have decided that next year, (from Santa at least) Nick will get one thing to play with, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. I'm sure Santa will agree that this is for the best. My boy is already spoiled silly by presents from all of his grandparents and various other relatives. I cannot imagine the intense level of toys that will hit my home once I have two little boys at various stages of development.  I can imagine, however, that it will be great fun.   : )  It's a very good thing I'm not afraid of messes.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Post #2

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . .

Well, it certainly wasn't two turtledoves. Our cats would've just eaten them. Our Christmas #2 was on Christmas Eve, which I've always spent with my mother's side of the family. Nick was excited to see his Grandma Linda, Grandpa Ray, Gigi (Great Grandma), Aunt Mandy, and Uncle Andy.  Above you can see Nick showing off his big boy Christmas argyle sweater, which I love because it looks like something an adult would wear. All he needs is a briefcase, and he's ready for a business casual day at the office.

The good thing about my son is that he gets far more excited about playing with new people than he does about toys. Not that he doesn't like toys, but I'm less worried about him getting spoiled after seeing how much he wanted the interaction. There were so many presents, but he wanted everyone to sit on the floor and play with him.  Here is Aunt Mandy sharing a candy cane with him.

Nick was soon overwhelmed with presents, and he often couldn't be bothered to open new ones because he was so busy playing with the last present he'd opened. One of his favorite gifts was a keyboard--one obviously meant for an older child. Nick absolutely adored all of the buttons. I believe in the video below he's singing a version of "Somebody Come and Play" from Sesame Street.

Nick also loves giving presents. One special one that Nick and I made for Grandma Linda was one of those Shutterfly memory books. It was all pictures of Nick and his grandma together. I think she liked it.

I'll leave you with Nick regaling us with Christmas Carols. Jingle bells is his favorite song, and the only one he knows the words to so far.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Post #1

Nick gets more Christmases than most kids. You see, since Greg and I both have divorced parents, Nick ended up having four grandmas, three grandpas, and two great-grandmas. For three of his grandmas (and two of his grandpas), Nick is the first and only grandchild, at least until next year. He is a very lucky boy, and this is especially evident around Christmastime, both for love and attention reasons and for the obvious presents that come with lots of grandmas and grandpas. Nick is a total people person, though, and having new people to play with was the highlight of each of his Christmases.

Christmas #1 was on the 23rd, with Nick's Grandpa Mike and Grandma Patty. My dad has really been enjoying being a grandpa, especially since Nick has started walking and talking. I can remember him getting down on the floor and playing with my sister and I when we were little kids, and it's so nice to see him having so much fun playing with his grandson now. Although Nick doesn't look too thrilled in the above picture, as soon as he figured out what this car does, he got really excited. All you have to do is shake it up and put the car on the floor, and it drives itself. This was a revelation for my boy, who loves anything with wheels.

I love the above picture because there are so many random things going on. First, Grandpa Mike is looking at a picture Nick drew while Nick brushes his hair with a rather serious look on his face. You can see Nick's new tent in the background, and Grandma Patty, too, who is laughing at the whole scene. On the table are several Play Doh creations. Nick likes to make people roll balls and make him snakes. "Make snake!," he'll insist, handing the Play Doh over to Grandma Patty.

Above you can see Nick opening his favorite present of the evening, a tent with tunnel attached. As soon as I saw it, I knew that this present would be a winner. I can remember how much fun it was to play in tents and make forts when I was a kid. Nick's eyes got really big and he crawled inside as soon as it was put together. I think this is going to be our go-to toy for rainy days when he gets bored.

Nick got lots of play time with his grandma and grandpa, and he was so excited he wouldn't even eat his pizza. He just wanted to color with them and play with his new toys. I believe they both left here pretty exhausted from his hijinks. He kept begging them to come down on the floor and play with him. "Play with me. Please! Sit here." It was a really relaxing, low key evening, and a great start to our yearly Christmas festivities.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Many Joys of Cookie Baking

Every year, we bake cookies to give as gifts. My mom, my sister, and I baked the weekend before Christmas this year, and man, did we bake a ton of cookies. Nick was our official cookie taster. Gingerbread is his absolute favorite. My mom let him sample more than a few of our prototypes. It's amazing how many cookies are "damaged" and need eating.  :)

It's funny that gingerbread is his favorite. I think it must be a taste acquired in early childhood. My sister and I love gingerbread, but then again, we ate it from the time we were little kids. I've brought some to work and discovered that only a small subset of the population prefers gingerbread. Greg doesn't really like gingerbread much. That's okay, though. More for me and Nick.

After we were done with the baking, decorating, bagging, and packing, I tried to get some cute pics of Nick in front of the Christmas tree. Each year I use them for my gift tags. Here are the ones I ended up using:

Tonight I am baking cookies again. In my family, our tradition is to bake cookies (tons and tons of cookies) to give away as Christmas gifts. Here's a link to our cookie baking from last year. We did indeed bake this year, but here it is the day after Christmas, and we're just about out of cookies. Tomorrow we're having Christmas #4 with Greg's dad and stepmom (plus tons of cousins, aunts, and uncles), so I figured I'd better bake more cookies so there would be some fresh ones to bring. I made gingerbread, because gingerbread is my favorite, too. Yum.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We sure did. Here is Nick's picture with Santa, taken at an incredibly late date--Christmas Eve morning at 11 a.m. He wasn't even a little scared, and he shouted, "Santa over there!" as we approached his chair. "I see Santa! Santa!" Nick went right to him, and grinned really big, especially when Santa gave him a candy cane. My boy has grown so much this year. Check out his Santa pic from last year:

See the difference? He's gotten huge! But both times Nick showed no fear of the large, bearded man in red. Last year we had to wait in line for what seemed like forever, and I just couldn't stomach the thought of wasting several hours in line to see Santa.

We meant to go a few weeks ago, but we all had a terrible cold and felt lazy. Then, last weekend I had cookie baking, a cookie exchange, and the great diaper explosion weekend of 2010. I went to the mall with Nick on Wednesday the 23rd, hoping to get in, but the line snaked around Fox Valley Mall in a line rivaling those at Disney World. I gave up, but then felt incredibly guilty at home later. Parental guilt is a horrible thing. I know intellectually that my kid will not suffer if he does not sit on Santa's lap, but I still felt like a lazy mom. Nick knows who Santa is, and points out everything that has Santa on it. Last year he wouldn't have known the difference, but this year, he gets it.

So I convinced Greg to go out on Christmas Eve morning. To the mall. Yup. We're crazy. The wonderful thing, though, is that everyone else must've thought it was too late to see Santa, because there was no one in line--not one person ahead of us. Just Santa sitting there taking it easy, resting up for his big night. Next year we'll try to be earlier, but we really lucked out going at the last minute.

We broke the record for last minute errands on Christmas Eve, I think. There needs to be some kind of award for miraculous shopping adventures. We left our house at 10:30 a.m., and got home around 12:15. Here is what we managed to accomplish during that time. It was a true Christmas miracle:

1. Greg filled his car with gas.
2. Drove to Louis Joliet Mall
3. Santa visit, complete with official picture printing.
4. The festive eating of the hot pretzel.
5. Went to Bath and Body works for last minute gifts.
6. Tried three different stores, finally found sweaters and socks for Nick.
7. I got my eyebrows threaded. (Ouch! But it was very quick.)
8. Nick got to ride the big shaking car that costs umpteen quarters.
9. Drove to Best Buy.
10. Located and purchased $57 of ink cartridges. (For printing custom gift tags. That line was hideous.)
11. Drove to grocery store.
12. Greg bought wine and maple syrup. (Gotta have the basics.)

I was so proud of us at the end of that trip. When we left the house, Greg was telling me there was no way we'd get it all done. I secretly agreed with him, but kept my fingers crossed. I remained calm and told Greg not to worry. Both of us were shaking our heads in astonishment when we pulled in the driveway at quarter after 12.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Brother?

Nick has just recently found out that he's going to be a big brother. Does he look surprised? Well, I'm not sure he totally gets the concept, but we've been telling him "There's a baby in Mommy's tummy." He looks back at me quizzically and asks, "Baby in there?" Nick likes to poke my tummy--he thinks it's funny and he's definitely noticed it growing. Then, a few times, he has poked Greg in his tummy and said, "Baby in there?" This is where I started laughing hysterically. I've been teasing Greg for the last few weeks about eating so many sweets, and now Nick thinks his daddy is pregnant, too. Yup. He's pregnant with twin cream puffs.

So here are the promised details: I'm about 15 weeks pregnant, and due June 15th. We opted for CVS testing (roughly the same prenatal testing procedure as amnio, just done at 11 weeks) and just found out that the results are clear. We waited to tell most people because I've already had a miscarriage and a chemical pregnancy this year, so we wanted to make sure everything was okay with this one. Honestly, I wouldn't even let myself get excited until the first trimester was through. I've been feeling pretty good, except for my feet, and I've had to wear maternity clothes since I was about 8 weeks along. I'm pretty sure I can already feel him wriggling around in there.   : )

Oh, and the genetic tests did show that it is a boy. I enjoy being a parent more than I ever thought I would, and I'm really looking forward to having two little boys. I'm sure they'll exhaust me, but they'll also make me laugh and make life far more interesting.

Did that answer all of your questions? If not, please just ask.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some News. . .

This may help to explain my blogging laziness of late. More information to follow tomorrow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Too Busy Changing Diapers To Post

I just realized my last post was almost a week ago. One week without cute pictures of Nick? We can't have that. Here are a few cute ones that show what happened when Nick found my winter boots. Yes, he was actually able to walk in them (all over the house, in fact). I'll intersperse these photos with my topic for today, which is far less pleasant and (lucky for you) for which I did not take pictures.

I've been trying to post at least three times a week, and this week I failed miserably. It's not that I don't have anything to post about, my hands have just been too busy changing diapers. Nick, who just got over a cold, now has some kind of tummy bug that requires me to change his diaper and replace his pants every hour or two. I do believe Nick has had at least seven baths since Wednesday night. I had to stay home from work to be with him Thursday and Friday. I hate missing work, because it gets my students all discombobulated, but there wasn't much choice, in this case.

The doctor's office said not to worry unless it went on for over seven days. It has already been three full days and four nights of this, and I cannot imagine this lasting longer. We're hoping it will end very soon. The good news is that Nick has been in a pretty good mood, except of course for when we're changing his diapers. Understandably, he gets upset then.

Nick seemed a little better today, thank goodness. As long as I'm not still constantly changing diapers, I'll post again tomorrow about how Nick made my first physical therapy appointment more, ahem, interesting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Way Too Cold.

So what did we do this weekend? Christmas shopping? Santa visits? Wrapping Christmas gifts? Grading papers? Playing in the snow? Nope. The picture above illustrates our weekend perfectly well.

We did nothing. Literally we did not leave the house from Friday evening on, and nothing of value was accomplished. Why? Because it was way too cold.

All I felt like doing this weekend was curling up on the couch with a book. All of us still have colds, and the idea of walking outside in this miserable weather was just too much to handle. I've survived by taking benedryl every night so that I can breathe while I sleep. Nick just gets extra crabby and needy. Plus, he took a five hour nap on Saturday. He must feel like hibernating, too.

Usually, we do not watch much tv. But this weekend, we indulged in anything sedentary. We watched the weather channel, as you can see. Greg even let Nick watch some of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when I wasn't paying attention.  He seemed very concerned about the snakes. "I see snakes!" and then, later, "Snakes in there. Uh-oh." Like any male, though, my little boy was glued to the action movie for at least 20 minutes. Must be a guy thing.

I hope that this weather does not continue. It is way too cold.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blocks? Sure, these can be blocks.

In fact, Nick seemed to think that these blocks were way more fun than the regular kind, since they stack up so high. Shopping at Costco means I have lots of stackable boxes, especially Kleenex, since all of us are suffering from nasty colds.

As I was putting away a considerable number of boxes, Nick passed the time by creating his own towers. He looks rather pleased with himself, I think.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cold Weather = Bacon?

Why does cold weather make me crave bacon? It must be something about putting on a layer of fat to help keep me warm. I absolutely hate cold weather, and lately I just can't seem to get warm. The picture above is actually from a few weeks ago, on another very cold day when I took Nick out to eat at a little diner near our house. He's showing us all how much he loves bacon, too.

As I was driving home from work today, in the cold, in the dark, I suddenly had a thought. "Bacon." As I drove further, it became all consuming, so much so that I decided to run into the grocery store and get some so that I could incorporate it into dinner. After all, it isn't really normal to have bacon for a snack.

So tonight I made breakfast for dinner. All of us have bad colds, so we had orange juice for the Vitamin C. I made scrambled eggs with spinach, peppers, and goat cheese. We had english muffins, and, of course, bacon on the side. Something about a cholesterol-filled dinner is extremely appealing on a cold winter day.

Nick must have the same cravings. He stood near me the entire time I cooked, begging for bits to eat. It's funny how as soon as the smell starts to fill the kitchen, he comes, drawn to the meat. "Bacon!" he announced. "Want bacon please. Please! Bacon!" Then, when he'd eaten a slice, he'd insist. "More bacon!"  He reminded me of that old commercial for bacon-flavored dog treats, where the dog keeps saying "Bacon!"

By the time dinner was actually served, he'd eaten at least half of an orange pepper, plus a slice or two of bacon. Then he ate his whole dinner. I guess I'm not the only one craving fatty foods this winter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

And So It Begins. . .

What, you say? What begins? Well, the joys of potty training. Last weekend Greg and I bought Nick his own little potty. He's been talking about using the potty for awhile, but I don't really believe in pushing kids into potty training too early. (Even though my mother insists I was potty trained at 18 months.)

However, since Nicholas is now two, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get him confortable with the idea of using a potty. He became incredibly excited when we were in the Target and he saw the potties. The store had conveniently put them on the bottom shelf, easily accessible to toddlers. So Nick tried sitting on each of them, insisting, "I go poopy on the potty!" Here's what we decided on:

We chose this model for ease of cleaning rather than style. The fancy ones with the buttons and sound effects were cute in the store, but I could imagine them being rather gross to clean out. This one had fewer crevices. Plus, Nick liked it. He kept pointing to it in the back of the cart as we shopped, exclaiming, "That's my potty!" to anyone who walked past. We figured he was enthusiastic enough to at least give it a try.

I do have more experience than your average mom in this challenging endeavor called potty training. You see, I supported myself through most of my high school and college years by working in daycare centers. I even spent an entire summer working in the "2s" room, along with another adult plus sixteen two-year-olds. Our goals were 1.) to potty train them, 2.) to prevent them from biting one another, and 3.) to try to get them to take afternoon naps. Sound easy? Let's just say they were like a game of whack-a-mole: you get most of them to take a nap, and then somebody pees on the floor. As you're cleaning up that mess, somebody bites somebody else and the resulting cries wake up three more children, one of whom has a dirty diaper. While you're cleaning up that stinky mess, the other two bite one another, leading to more crying, and, ultimately, more peeing on the floor. I remember spending a lot of time with bleach water, and even more time writing up "biting reports." There is a very good reason I did not even consider having children before age 30. Anyhow, whenever I get frustrated with Nick, I just remember that summer and try to think of what it would be like with fifteen more of him. Then I smile and give my boy a hug.

Anyhow, back to our ill-fated first potty training attempt. I should warn sensitive readers that this is not a story to read while eating a snack. In fact, if you are at all grossed out by potty-type talk, please just stop reading right here.

***Warning*** Gross but funny story ahead

From my considerable potty training experience, I did learn that for very young little boys, they need to connect the dots and figure out when they are peeing. You have to be lucky enough to catch them peeing and get some in the potty. Then a lightbulb goes on and they start to get what to do (hopefully). We started out by giving Nick a nice big cup of orange juice. We hardly ever give Nick juice of any kind, but since we all have colds I figured the Vitamin C would be good for us. Over the course of about an hour, Nick drank about 14 ounces of orange juice. He told us "I go potty!" so Greg took him into the bathroom and showed him how to sit on his new potty.

Nicholas was super-excited about the potty, though he didn't really want to sit on it much. He was more interested in pulling out the bowl, touching the froggy's eyes, and even wearing it like a hat. I suggested to Greg that perhaps we should just leave Nick sans diaper for awhile, and try to catch him peeing. Nick certainly was happy enough wandering around naked, and we have hardwood floors. I decided that after all of that orange juice, something was sure to happen soon.

Fast forward about an hour. Not only has no pee decided to appear, Nick has determined that the potty is the greatest toy ever. He especially likes to sit on it with one foot in the bowl, and put toys into it. Since it was nearly dinnertime, we were about ready to give up and put the diaper back on. Then comes the gross part.

I'm sure you've guessed it by now. #2. All over the floor in a giant pile, about a foot from the potty. Nick announced immediately afterward, "I go poopy!" Never have I seen such a look of horror on my husband's face. Indeed, the look on his face alone made me start laughing hysterically as we tried to stop Nick from spreading it around the living room. Greg cleaned up the worst of the mess as I scrubbed Nick the tub. I laughed the entire time, because, at that point, what else can you do? It was my own fault for leaving the diaper off for so long. My daycare experience served me well after that, when I remembered how to make a 10:1 bleach water solution to sanitize both the floor and the potty.

As for Nick, he didn't seem to care at all about the mess he had made. But he was really, really ticked off when I had to wrestle him into a diaper after his bath. Nick wanted naked time to go on forever. He never did pee, at least not that night. However, when Greg woke him up this morning, he had soaked through his pajamas, blankets, and sheets. My boy must have a super bladder to have held it that long.

We'll try again this week, but I am not in a hurry. I know that this process can take a long time, and I will make it into a power struggle if we try to push it too soon. A power struggle with a two-year-old is one that will definitely be lost. Nick is still excited about his potty, so we'll go slowly and try periodically as our patience allows. Most importantly, I know I have to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Block Towers of Fun

And now I present, for your viewing pleasure, videos of Nick building with blocks. There are also some nice snippets of conversation. It's interesting how parents each have their own special thing that they play with their kid. Greg likes to look through art books (the big coffee table ones) with Nick and look at the pictures. He also does wrestling and they play basketball together with Nick's little hoop.

Me? I read tons of stories with Nick, both fiction and nonfiction. He likes the stories I've read over and over. He likes to say "I read it," and then he tells me the story by pointing to the pictures. But something I do with Nick just about every day is building with blocks. He has a decent attention span for it--the day I took these two videos, Nick and I built towers and such for at least 40 minutes. He loves knocking them down, but I also have noticed that he gets excited when he's able to add blocks to the towers.

If you haven't figured it out, "No Say You" means play with me, or come here. I'm not sure what that actually stands for, but he says it constantly. I need to take more videos of Nick, if for no other reason than to track his linguistic development. As an ELL teacher, I've had lots of training in linguistics and in how people learn language. I am constantly reading books about the evolution of languages and how people learn them, whether they're first or second languages. Every day I work with kids learning English as a second or even a third or fourth language. But it's amazing to me how quickly little ones learn their first language.

Nick has gone, in about eight months, from having only two or three words to speaking in short sentences. If you had to ask me how many words he knows, I wouldn't even know where to start. I would guess it's into the thousands. He already knows how to add 's to show ownership. (I'm still working on this one with my 5th grade ELL students who've spoken English since 1st grade! There's a big difference between learning a first and a second language.) Nick already mostly gets the concepts of over/under, up/down, in/out, etc. Every couple of days he blows me away with something he says.

I'm not saying Nick is advanced for his age. I think he's about where he should be, with speaking. I just love watching the process unfold each day. Today, for example, Nick was looking at the Christmas tree, and he saw this snowman ornament, pointed to it, and said "See snowman over there, by moon? It's breakable. No touch." Now, this ornament was right next to a moon ornament, and I had been talking to him the other day about not touching that one because it was breakable. I may or not have used the word breakable a bunch of times. Anyway, I was astounded that he remembered.