Thursday, January 29, 2009

Having Kids Is Finally Starting to Pay Off

I sat around, ate bon-bons and caught up on my soaps while the kids did this:

(And no, I don't really watch soaps.  No comment on the bon-bons.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Times and Bad Times

When Sammy was 2 1/2, that was a really rough age for me. It seemed he was constantly testing the limits, throwing tantrums, and generally being a pain in the butt. Not that there weren't good times, too, but in general, it was very trying for me.

Then, shortly before he turned 3, things turned around. He became an easy-going, happy child. He still throws an occasional tantrum, or willfully defies me, but I can usually turn things around pretty quickly. Sunday, he didn't nap (par for the course on the weekends these days) so by 6:00 he was falling apart with tiredness. After about half an hour of butting heads with him over EVERYTHING, he came up to me and said, "I need a hug and a kiss." We snuggled for a few minutes, and then I had a talk with him about how tired he was, and that that was probably why he was having such a hard time listening. Wouldn't you know, after that he acted like an angel until bedtime at 7:00. Easy peasy.

So, what's this I've always heard about the 3's being so much more terrible than the 2's? Unfortunately, I've discovered this current behavior is probably a short-lived phase. I read a study recently that basically said that children tend to be easy-going and well-behaved around their birthdays. Around their half-birthdays, they go through a phase where everything changes and their behavior becomes disruptive, defiant, and lock-yourself-in-the-bathroom-and-have-a-good-scream inducing. (Sorry, I did a quick Google search, and couldn't figure out the right combination of keywords to link to the study. You'll just have to take my word for it, unless I can come up with the citation later.)

The biggest problem for me is that my kids are about a year and a half apart in age. If you do the math, you'll see that we will always have a kid going through the difficult phase. This is proving true right now - Natalie is going through a difficult stage, while Sammy has been well-behaved.

I also have a copy of a "Cycles of Development" chart from The Gesell Institute of Child Development, but that is even less encouraging. I don't know if I can legally scan in the chart and post it here, but the citation on the bottom of the sheet says the Gesell Institute books are available at your public library. The cycles are: A) Smooth; B) Breakup; C) Sorting-Out; D)Inwardizing; E) Expansion; and F) "Neurotic". I don't exactly know the definitions of all those categories, but "smooth" is the only one that sounds promising to me. The only ages under the "smooth" phase are: 4 weeks, 40 weeks, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 16 years. That seems like an awful lot of time spent in cycles B through F.

Maybe no one but me is interested in this sort of thing, so I'm sorry if I've bored you to tears! (I have a degree in psychology, so obviously I find the brain fascinating.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Neither of my kids have ever had a "lovey" - well, other than the binky. But they haven't become attached to any one particular blanket or stuffed animal, which is just fine with me. I don't have to worry about leaving the precious lovey behind at a restaurant and then panicking when bedtime rolls around.

So, I was surprised when about a month ago, Sammy started wanting to bring various of his treasured toys to bed with him. It's a different toy every few nights. The last couple of nights, it's been a sheet of Disney stickers that we got for free in the mail (I think they wanted us to sign up for a movie club). Last week, it was his take-apart dump truck. The best, though, was a couple of weeks ago, when he filled his metal Elmo lunchbox with small toy cars and tractors (also metal) and drug that to bed with him. That came in handy in the middle of the night when he came into our room. The clunk, clunk, clunk announced his presence.

I just hope he doesn't decide he wants to take his tricycle to bed with him next.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crazy but True

The people that ride the city bus that I take to and from work are almost exclusively business people. It's rare that anyone says a word to each other. Most people sit and stare out the windows, sleep, or - like me - have headphones on and read a book. There's rarely a noise to be heard other than the engine noise or the heaters blasting, trying to fight the cold air that seeps in through the poorly-sealed bus doors.

Yesterday, a guy got on the bus with his approximately 3-year-old daughter in tow. Thinking about my own 3-year-old, I figured she would be chatty and exuberant, and extremely bored with sitting after the initial excitement wore off. I wouldn't have cared, but I knew that some of the other bus riders might not be so tolerant, so I started thinking about what toys I had in my purse that I could offer her if her dad hadn't brought enough distractions. (It seems to me, in my experience, that guys don't often think about those sorts of things.)

Her dad had brought her a snack - a staple when travelling with young kids. Good for him! Then she finished her snack, and...nothing. Her dad stared out the window, not speaking, and I expected her to start looking for her own entertainment. Nope - she sat there quietly, looking around at the other passengers, and didn't say a word until 20 minutes later, when we stopped at the first park and ride, and she asked him if that was their stop. Her dad told her that they would get off at the next stop, and again - not another word from her. By the time we got to the second and final stop, she had nodded off, sitting upright, and her dad carried her limp body off the bus.

Wow! I was flabbergasted. I have to believe she was just very small for her age, because it's impossible to imagine a 3-year-old behaving like that. At least mine. I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about trying to take Sammy on the bus with me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day Off

Today was a work holiday, but not a daycare holiday.  So I did something I haven't had a chance to do in ages, and I sent the kids to daycare while I stayed home.  It was a glorious five hours.  I got my house cleaned, wrote out thank-you notes for Sammy's birthday, and even had an hour to relax and finish up the scarf I'm knitting for Natalie.

Then I went to pick the kids up from daycare.  I was sitting at a yield sign waiting to turn right,  and I saw a cop car making a turn into my lane, so I waited for him.  The next time I looked up, another car had come out of nowhere and smashed into the front end of the cop car.  The cop car careened into the northbound lane of traffic and hit a vehicle that was waiting at the stop sign, and the car that had hit the police car was headed straight for the front end of my van at a very fast clip.  I had no time to back up, so all I could do was brace myself for the airbag explosion that was about to come. never came.  Somehow, the car missed my front bumper by mere inches and took out the yield sign that had been at my right front bumper.  Later, I saw the yield sign 25 feet away, in the parking lot of the gas station at that corner.  Wow.  Obviously, I had an angel looking over my shoulder today.  

I wasn't even that annoyed about having to stand outside in the cold for 30 minutes, waiting for the state troopers to arrive so I could give my statement (I assume because a local cop car was involved, the local police couldn't handle the investigation themselves).  I was just so grateful to be unharmed.  

You know, I'm thinking today might be a good day to try skydiving or bungee-jumping.  Obviously, my card isn't up yet, so this is the time to try something dangerous - right?  Maybe not.  I think I'm going to stay home and count my blessings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Free coffee!

It was -25 degrees here both this morning and yesterday, when I left for work.  Even worse, we got a ton of snow on Monday and with temperatures like this, the salt and chemicals the DOT puts on the road do absolutely nothing.  So I've been slipping and sliding over the roads all week, and then having to battle the sub-sub-zero temperatures on the three-block walk to work from my bus stop.  Brrr!  Thankfully, this cold spell is supposed to break tomorrow.

Check out this free sample I came across today!  Just the thing to warm you up on a cold day like today.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heavy Discussions

We had lay-offs at work yesterday.  (I know, not a good idea to blog about work - but since that statement probably pertains to about 90 percent of companies in this country, I don't think I'm giving away any state secrets.)  We'd known it was coming since before Thanksgiving, but yesterday is when the announcements were made as to how many, and who exactly, would be let go.

One of the people let go is someone that I've worked closely with over the years.  I've become very fond of her and was sick when I found out that she had lost her job.  Last night, I was sitting with the kids as they were watching a cartoon, and I had time to think.  A couple of silent tears rolled down my cheeks, and unfortunately, Sammy chose that time to turn around to tell me something.

He was very concerned, and wanted to know where I was hurt.  I had to explain to him that I was sad, and of course he wanted to know why.  I thought quickly, trying to put it in terms that a 3-year-old could understand.  I decided to tell him that a friend of mine wasn't going to be able to come to work with me anymore.  He pushed it still further, asking "Why?" so I told him that my company didn't have enough money to pay her.

He thought for a minute, then got a big grin on his face as he came up with the solution.  "They'll just have to buy some more money!" he said and, having solved the problem, turned back to his TV show.  Gotta love the innocence of childhood.

Later I got to thinking and realized that our government thinks a lot like a preschooler.  No more money?  Just print some more up!  Add it to our debt!  

However, politicians thinking this way is not nearly as cute as when it's a preschooler.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hi! Remember Me?

Life has been crazy the past few weeks. I haven't had much computer time, so I'm really far behind on reading blogs and writing on my own. Now that Sammy's birthday is over, I think life will get back to normal.

The day of his birthday, we took the kids to the Mall of America and did all the tourist-y things, like touring Underwater Adventures (an aquarium) and riding rides at Nickelodeon Universe. The kids were cranky and tired afterwards (okay, I admit it - the adults were, too) but it was a fun day.

The party was on Sunday, and I thought it went great! This year, we rented a banquet room at a nearby hotel, and I think that worked out well. It saved me the stress of having to clean (and KEEP clean) my house beforehand, and I think it was well worth the $100 for the 4-hour rental. My only regret is that we didn't pay the extra $50 to rent it for a full 8 hours. You'd think 4 hours would be plenty of time for a 3-year-old's birthday party, wouldn't you? Of course, the first hour was devoted to decorating and setting up food - but we had to shut things down when the party was still going strong, and I felt bad about that.

The banquet room was attached to the pool, so the kids had a great time swimming with their cousins. I discovered that Natalie is a Pisces at heart - a little water-baby. Being the second child, she misses out on a lot, and one of the things I regret is that I didn't have a chance to bring her to Community Ed swimming classes like I did when Sammy was a baby. I plan to fix that by signing her up for the next session.

So, there's my update. I promise to be around more now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Three Years Old

Three years ago today:

First birthday:

Second birthday:

Third birthday:

Happy birthday Sammy, my special little guy.  I love you, buddy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation

My vacation, by the numbers:

3...Christmas celebrations with various branches of the family
1...Trip to the Children's Museum
1...Case of the stomach flu, probably a memento from one of the patrons of the Children's Museum
2...Trips to the sledding hill
84...Trips up the sledding hill
7,483...approximate number of times I inflated and released rocket balloons for the kids (the orange thing in the upper right hand corner, for the uninitiated)
12...rocket balloons which popped
12...number of near heart attacks resulting from the balloons popping*
846...approximate number of times I chased Natalie off of the kitchen table
2...pairs of mittens knitted for the little kid-ens who are always losing their mittens
3...forts built and demolished projects started and abandoned at various stages of completion
23...different "potsicle horses" created to amuse the kids (If Sammy reaches elementary school without knowing how to properly say "obstacle courses", I take full responsibility.  I find it so hilarious that I can't help but do exactly what you're not supposed to do, and I use the phrase myself.)

*For those who don't already know, I am deathly afraid of loud noises, i.e. popping balloons, cars backfiring, and gunfire.  I think the fact that I tolerated so much balloon play over our vacation should earn me some extra Mommy Brownie Points (MBPs).  Possibly to cancel out the MBPs deducted when I lost my temper at the kids for being kids and getting fingerpaint all over every.square.inch of the kitchen table, their clothes, and their bodies during one of our art projects.