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March, 2007:

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

I read that saying in a comment on a blog I was reading (http://www.antiquemommy.com) and it made stop and think. At least once a week I hear myself saying “Man, I can’t believe it’s already Christmas/January/Valentine’s Day/the middle of March/Almost Easter.” And at least twice a week, probably even more when Dan is gone flying, I hear myself saying “Ugh – I’m so tired! I can’t wait for this day to be over.” Most of the time on those days, I suck it up and play Princess Monopoly or Spiderman Operation for the thousandth time, but sometimes on those days I tell the kids they have to find something to do cuz I need a break. It took me a long time to get to the point where I didn’t feel guilty when I told them I needed a break and wouldn’t play a game right then.

But I still think, every night when I put them to bed, that I can’t believe my baby girl is 4 and so independent and that my little buddy is 6 1/2 and sporting the grin void of 2 front teeth. Keira is such a cuddler and loves to hug and kiss and sit on your lap – but at the same time, she has to do everything by herself, no help from anyone! Jason is so sensitive, but told Grandma the last time she was here that he was too big to sit on her lap. I almost cried!

Every mother needs and deserves time to herself, but we all need to remember to cherish every single minute we have with our kids, because even though the days may be long, the years are oh so short!

The Husband

I decided to take today to tell you about my wonderful husband. Being a pilot, he is gone every other week, which leaves me and the kids on our own. I get to experience being a single working mother and they get to experience much independence cuz frankly, I just can’t do it all. And really, this set up is great! While we’d like to have him home more often, his schedule never allows us to get in a rut, and we always appreciate each other and the roles each of us play in the family.

At this exact moment, I’m sitting in the office working. And what is my husband, who came home last night from being gone for a week, doing? He’s waxing the hardwood floors! Which means I got to go for a ride on the rolly office chair so he could wax underneath the desk.

Why am I telling you this? Because I love Dan! He is a great father, husband, and person. And he is now off to cleaning the downstairs bathroom (dang, did I get lucky or what!).

Here are just a few of the many reasons why I love my husband:

Dan is hot. He’s got these blue eyes to die for! Even the 54 year old male flight attendant on his flight home yesterday said so ;-) 

Dan makes me feel special – each and every day. Every day when he’s gone flying, he sends me e-mail messages and calls us to see how we’re doing and what we’re up to. When he’s home, he tells me how beautiful I am.

Dan loves to play with Jason and Keira. After flying and travelling for an entire week, I know he’s tired when he gets home. But he never complains. He gets right in there and picks the kids up from school, plays games with them, helps out at soccer practice, rides bike with them, reads books with them. He’s even good at putting “pretties” in Keira’s hair!

Dan loves to cook – which is good, cuz I don’t! I can do it, but out of necessity. When Dan’s home, we’re treated to awesome meals that don’t come out of a box. He loves to try new recipes, and we love to eat them! As a result, the kids love to cook, too. They always want to help, and he’s so patient and lets them. Jason loves to make dinner! We’ll get home from school and he’ll say “Mom, you take a break and I’ll make dinner.” We get macaroni and cheese or PB&J those nights, but I’m not complaining! What a great example Dan is setting for Jason.

Dan does laundry when he’s home (as a matter of fact, he’s folding a load right now!). And he does it well – he even sorts the clothes right! And when he’s finished folding them, Jason and Keira have to put them away themselves – we’re all about independence and being helpful in this house. How many of you saw your dad doing laundry when you were growing up?

Dan and I have the same interests. Outside of our obvious first interest, Jason and Keira, we both love to golf, hike, ride bike, take the kids swimming, go camping, play racquetball, walk to the park, play with Maggie (our dog). We spend a lot of time with our kids, but we also spend plenty of time alone. We take an adult vacation every other year, we get sitters and go on dates, we meet up with friends annualy in fun places for adventure weekends (hiked Pike’s Peak last year, camping in the Boundary Waters this summer), plus lots of other stuff.

I could go on and on about why I love my husband so dearly. But now it’s time for you to share . . . what about your hubby makes your heart pump and the butterflies flutter in your tummy?

The Laser

Apparently, all boys think the sound of a laser is cool. I took a long lunch break and went to Dude’s school for his continent feast. All the kids get to present their reports to the other kids and their parents, and then we get to eat the yummy food that each parent has prepared from their child’s country of choice.

Dude was so antsy waiting for his turn to present his report – he did, afterall, spend 4 hours creating the 12-slide PowerPoint presentation for it! After listening to the three written reports, he finally got to present his report. He did a great job, and I had to chuckle to myself when, after his first slide transition with the laser sound effect, the entire class went “oooooh, that’s COOL!” Dude just BEAMED! And really, wouldn’t you feel pretty good if the older kids in class were so impressed by something you’d done?

After all the presentations, 2 boys came up to Dude and said “Can your mom show me how to do that for our Australia report?” Without hesitation, Dude said “Na – but I can since I know all about making cool things in PowerPoint.” HA! The little turd . . . . at least he’s confident :-)

My Eyes Are All Googly!

After spending 40 minutes in the pediatrician’s office, 45 minutes at the park to pass time, and an hour in the ear specialists office, my eyes are googly!

Fall back to last week. Jason is complaining that the water won’t drain out of his ear. I tell him to tip his head to the side and shake it, cuz that always helps, right? He stops complaining. Sunday night after his bath, he’s complaining again, so I tell him to tip his head to the side and shake it. No good. At bedtime, I look in his ear and see something. It looks like a big ball of wax or a “thing” – hoping for the big ball of wax, I get the tweezers. I barely poked it and chickened out when it was HARD! First thing Monday a.m. I call the pediatrician and we get a 9:45 appointment. The pediatrician has me holding Jason down while she tries to get “it” out – he’s screaming cuz it hurts and she can’t get it out. After about 5 tries with different tools, she makes us an appointment with an ENT – and not the ENT we use for Keira (she’s got tubes) but another one, cuz ours doesn’t have any room for anything else today. So not only do I have to find a new office as far away from our house as possible, we have to go through the registration process – ick. After waiting in the lobby for 45 minutes, we get put in a room for 15 minutes. Doc says to go to the “procedure” room, which looks way too surgical for Jason’s taste 😉 Doc has some fun tools that the ped. didn’t have, but Jason still freaks cuz he THINKS it’s awful, so the nurse comes in and they have to strap him down in a straight jacket thingy! That did not go over so well, but in 10 seconds the “thing” was out.

And what was that “thing” in my son’s ear? A googly eye! Yes, you heard me right – a googly eye that you’d glue on a pom pom or a piece of paper! We’ve been lucky that neither of our kids have felt the need to stick “things” in “places” – well, except for the diamond-in-the-nose incident of 2004. And I always thought we’d have to go to the doc to get something removed from somewhere, but I certainly did NOT think it would be for my 6 1/2 year old! Sheesh!

He swears he has no clue where it came from or how it got there. He’s a bad liar and I’m good at getting him to confess on his own terms, but this time, I’ve got nothing. He’s either gotten really good at lying or is suffering a bout of selective amnesia. In either case, I’m pretty certain that after today’s events (tons of waiting around, pain in the ear, missing pajama day at school, being strapped down to a table) he will not be putting ANYTHING other than his elbow in his ear!

Teaching Moment with Barbie and Tanner

My husband and I were watching a cartoon with the kids Sunday a.m. before diving in to laundry and saw a commercial for the most hilarious/stupid (you choose) toy. Dan started laughing so hard he was silent, and the first words out of my mouth were “Are you KIDDING me?!” Now I must admit that I’m not a Barbie fan – at all! I think she depicts a totally unreal body image, which personally, I don’t want my daughter having to deal with. But, Keira does have 3 Barbies, the princess collection, that she got from Grandma, and like any other 4 year old, she loves to dress and undress them. Occassionally she’ll put them to bed in the doll house or drive them around in the convertible Mustang. But moving on . . . I see this commercial for Barbie and Tanner. Did you know Barbie had a dog named Tanner? Did you know that you can feed Tanner dog biscuits and he’ll poop them out? Then you get the pleasure of using the trash can and magnetic poop scooper to pick up the poop and start all over again – which essentially means that you’ll be feeding Tanner his own poo! I was wondering who would buy this toy? Apparently quite a few folks judging by the number of reviews on Amazon.com. Some of the reviewers actually thought it was a great toy to buy because it teaches your kid responsibility for picking up after their pet (as well as feeding them their own poo!). Personally, I like to teach lessons to my children in real life – like taking them with me when I walk Maggie and having them learn to stop at the corners, make her sit before she gets treats, and yes picking up the poop in a plastic bag to carry all the way home to throw in the garbage can. If you don’t have a dog, I’m sure you’ve seen irresponsible pet owners at the park. Use that as the teaching moment, telling your kids that it’s against the law (in most public places) and just plain rude not to pick up after your own dog. And it’s even worse to let your dog do its business in someone else’s yard, but that’s a totally different story :-)

My question for today is this: Is a Barbie toy REALLY the best way to teach life lessons to your children? Cuz I can’t see myself ever trusting Mattel and Barbie to teach my children valuable lessons.

Oh Look! Trucks! TRUCKS!

It’s a Friday Funny!

This funny goes way back to when my son, Jason (now 6) was 21 months old. I have to tell the story because I almost died of embarrassment as I walked down the aisle at church, as my best friend’s maid of honor!

My best friend, Jenn (we’ve known each other since we were 14) is also Jason’s Godmother. She asked both of us to be in her wedding – me as the maid of honor and Jason as the ring bearer. We were so excited! Jason looked so handsome in his teeny tiny little tuxedo and we had rehearsed him walking down the aisle a number of times – he knew Dad was waiting at the other end and he was ready to go. The entire wedding party is standing at the back of St. Pete’s and Paul’s Catholic Church (it’s a BEAUTIFUL big church! With a very long aisle!) waiting for the ceremony to start – Jason was due to walk down the aisle just ahead of me and the best man. It had started to get a bit warm (May in MN) in the church entry, so one of the ushers opened the doors to the outside to let in a little fresh air – and that was the end of it! Jason heard “big trucks” outside – and sure enough, there was a loader and a truck out there doing some construction on the road. With the doors open and everyone in church turned around staring, watching the first bridesmaid and groomsman walk down the aisle, my little flash of black tuxedo turns around and makes a beeline for the church door, all the while yelling at the top of his lungs in front of God and everyone “Mommy – look – oh truck! Oh Truck! OH TRUCK!” However, my little dude couldn’t quite say his “tr” sound yet and conveniently replaced it with “f” – you fill in the blanks. The rest of the wedding party just about lost their minds laughing while one of the ushers ran outside after my little dude while I walked down the aisle. That was the longest walk of my life, and I’m sure my face was as red as the roses in my bouquet!

If you’ve got a Friday Funny, please share!

What Did I Do With All My Time?

Our family is trying to get together with another family from our kids’ school. Keira loves to play with Rylie at school, so we figured we should get together and have dinner so the kids can play and the parents can get to know each other. Dan and I started looking at our schedule to find a Friday or Saturday evening that would work. Looks like we’ll have to schedule for 2008! OK, it’s not quite that bad, but the next Saturday that we’re available is April 14th. How sad is THAT! Part of it is due to Dan being a pilot, so he’s gone every other week. But the rest is just us out having fun :-) We of course won’t complain about that, but it got me thinking – What did I do with all my time BEFORE I had kids?

I remember having a hard time figuring out when I’d bake that cornbread to take to work for the annual Thanksgiving potluck . . . wondering when I’d EVER find time to fit going to the gym into my regular routine . . . deciding when I’d find time to clean the house because my mom was coming for a visit. I’m sure I was busy back then . . . working, playing in volleyball and softball leagues, hiking, hanging out with friends, scrapbooking, reading books, golfing. But wait, I STILL do all of that AND I get to be mom to my kids. So add to the previous list gymnastics, ice skating lessons, soccer, swimming lessons, school drop offs and pick ups, birthday parties, playing dolls and legos, and afternoons at the park. We’re getting it all done AND having tons of fun with the kids. Which brings me back to my question . . . What did I do with all my time before I had kids?

What did YOU do with all of your time before you had kids?

The Computer Age

What, exactly, is the computer age? I remember when I was a kid at school and the first experience with a computer was to copy two lines of code from a book to change some dots on a screen to a different color. I’d have to say I was in 6th grade. I do remember starting college and being amazed by all the computer stuff out there. We got Dude some fun preschool computer games when he was 3, and outside of having trouble with the mouse, he did great and loved them.

But just this past weekend, Dude gave me a wake up call. Now, I’m a technical writer and work with computers every day, so it wasn’t the computer stuff that was the wake up call. The wake up call came when he said “Mom, I really want to do my country report in PowerPoint this time. Can you help me?”

OK, first, he’s 6 and doing a country report on Zambia. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing THAT when I was 6. Second, he’s REQUESTING to do this report in POWERPOINT! I 100% attribute that the fact that last month, some of the upper elementary kids did their reports in PowerPoint, but still – a 6 year old asking to do a report in PowerPoint?!

Of course I couldn’t say no. So he runs downstairs “to turn the computer on” while I finish cleaning up the kitchen. When I get down there, he’s Googled Zambia, accessed the maps for Zambia and saved them to his My Documents folder, accessed the CIA country Web site, and started searching for the information he needed (population, land area, religions, etc.). Did I mention that he’s 6?!

I get him going in PowerPoint and show him how to type text and put graphics on the pages, etc. He spent 2 hours organizing his information and typing it – dang! Time for bed, so on Sunday we go down to finish. This time I decide to be nice and show him copy and paste – I have to tell you that at that point he believed I was the coolest mom on the planet – no more typing! And really, do you know how difficult it is for a writer to watch a 6 year old peck at a keyboard for 4 hours?! So he completes his 12 slides on Zambia and the African Wild Dog in a mere 4 hours. I then created a monster when I showed him how to change the text color and add transitions and sound to his slides. You would have thought I just told him he could eat candy and drink soda every day for the rest of his life!

He practiced his report over and over for me and Dan – I’m pretty sure the goal was to hear the “laser” sound every time he changed slides – but practicing reading large numbers is good :-)

We’re very proud of Dude, just as all parents are proud of their children. I’m just amazed at what they’re doing in school, and I’m grateful that he’s excited about it and wants us to help him learn new things. This is just one more thing that makes me realize my little dude is growing up, way too fast for my taste!

Now I’m off to the kitchen to make some sweet potato cookies with lemon glaze from Zambia for the monthly continent feast at school!

The Best Baby Advice I Ever Received

Have you ever heard someone say “There aren’t any manuals for babies!”? I have, and I totally disagree with that statement. With the multitude of books (Girlfriend’s Guide, The Baby Whisperer, What To Expect…), Web sites (babycenter.com), and live classes available, how can anyone say there aren’t manuals for babies? When we got pregnant, our insurance company even sent us a book to help guide us through the first year! I was eager to read every word of every book out there. Even after all those hours of reading and being absolutely positive my husband and I would be the most prepared new parents ever, the best baby advice I ever received came from my sister-in-law.

About a month before our due date, she said “The only unsolicited advice I’ll ever give you about babies is to establish that bedtime routine from day one.” I cannot even begin to tell you how much that advice saved my life! I am a person who needs her sleep – without a good night’s sleep, I’m not so pleasant to be around. Of course signing up for motherhood certainly wasn’t going to help me in that department! But, I took my sister-in-law’s advice and from our very first night home from the hospital, we established a bedtime routine. 6 1/2 years later, we STILL go through the same routine every night with both of our kids.

What’s the best baby advice you’ve ever received?

What’s In Your Toilet?

I was having a hard time deciding what to write about for my very first entry. After much careful consideration (OK, not really, but it sounds good!), I decided to begin with a story from my past to give you some insight into the fun and challenges my children present to me on a daily bases. I love my two children more than I ever could have imagined and wouldn’t trade my life for anything. The following takes place on September 7, 2003 precisely 1 month after we moved in to our “new to us” but older than any of us house. My son, Jason, is 3 and my daughter, Keira, is 9 months old. Enjoy, and feel free to laugh :-)

Sunday, September 7, 2003

My wonderful husband is gone flying for a week, so I get to enjoy our new house with the children.

Woke up at 2:15 a.m. to a little boy standing by my bed staring at me – scared the crap out of me! He crawls in bed with me (I’m too tired and lazy to take him back to his own room – bad Jodie!)

Woke up at 5:15 a.m. to little girl screaming for food – she went to sleep at 7:00 Saturday evening, so was very hungry.

Spent morning with crabby little girl (teething??? or just tired – who knows) while little boy watched cartoons (bad Jodie!).

Gave crabby little girl Tylenol for her teeth and she slept for 3 hours – yeah!

Jason helped me clean out the storage closet a little bit, then went upstairs alone.

I went upstairs to see what little boy is doing – scold little boy for writing on his shirt and pants with a permanent marker. Scrub little boy to death in hopes of getting some of it off before it dries.

Eat lunch.

Punished little boy for peeing on the floor in the bathroom. His explanation “I was trying to see how long I could hold it in my winky” – my response “DON’T DO THAT!”

I went into the bathroom . . . flushed toilet, which promptly overflowed. Jason explains that he “might have put something in there.” I asked him what – he said a toothbrush. That floated back up, so I took it out. Interrogated little boy to see if there was anything else in the toilet. He promised me no.

I flush toilet, hoping it will flush. Instead, it overflows even more – puddles on the floor. Grab every towel I can find to soak up water. Plunger plunger plunger! Not working – still overflowing more and more.

Realize crabby little girl is standing next to tub, in puddles of toilet water! Pick up crabby little girl and put her in the hall. She gets mad because she REALLY loves baths and wants to get in the tub. Afterall, we’re having a party in there without her, aren’t we? I shut bathroom door.

Run downstairs to get every towel we own to soak up water. Hear dripping. Walk into spare bedroom. See paint on ceiling bubbling as a steady stream of water falls to the carpet, in 5 spots!

Put many towels on floor to try to catch dripping. Run upstairs to put towels on bathroom floor. Little boy is flushing the toilet, OVER AND OVER, which of course means more water flowing and flowing and little girl crawling in puddles on floor.

Remove little girl and little boy, banishing them to their rooms with doors shut for the moment.

Call Speedy Rooter.

Scold little boy! Make him tell me what else he put in there – he insists nothing.

Clean up crabby little girl in mom’s bath tub. Change her crib sheet.

Clean up little boy in moms’ bath tub. Change his bed sheets.

Wait for Speedy Rooter guy to come.

Start eating dinner.

Speedy Rooter guy finds a tube of toothpaste in the toilet – toilet drains.

Send little boy to his room – screaming because “I’m hungry and I want to eat dinner!”

Write out check to Speedy Rooter guy.

Talk to little boy about what he did.

Spring to kitchen after hearing yellow dog put paws on table to eat Jason’s hamburger.

Get little boy back to table, new hamburger in hand, to finish eating dinner.

Scold yellow dog for eating hamburger.

Give crabby little girl some more Cheerios in high chair.

Get crabby little girl to bed.

Wash more towels (spent all day doing laundry already!)

Get little boy ready for bed, popcorn in hand (why I let him have that, I don’t know!). Put little boy in mom’s bed to watch something while I clean the bathroom.

Put TONS of wet soaking pee and poop-filled towels in laundry basket.

Walk downstairs to laundry room.

Lose my footing half way down the stairs and slide down on my back and butt, getting splashed with wet soaking waste-filled towels on the way. Got some great rug burns on my elbows and a lovely bruise on my knee!

Stand up, pissed as hell, cursing to beat hell!

Put laundry in washer.

Go to garbage to get garbage ready for morning – hear dripping.

See water dripping through the ceiling in to Maggie’s (yellow lab) food bin! Little boy did not put cover back on bin after feeding yellow dog – therefore, food bin is now being covered in pee sauce.

Upstairs to get little boy in bed.

Little boy in bed. Get myself ready for bed.

Walk to refrigerator for a much needed beer. We have no beer. Open up liquor cabinet, grab bottle of Canadian Club, head to the bedroom.

Lay down in bed, fill glass with whiskey – hear fly. Spot monster fly dive bombing the bed (it was HUGE – like a bumble bee – no kidding).

Get up to get fly swatter. Come back, no fly.

Get in bed, glass at lips ready for a drink. Little boy sprints into my room, scaring the crap out of me. “But mom, there is a fly in my room!”

Get out of bed, fly swatter in hand. Try to remain calm while little boy directs me to the fly.

Spot monster bumble bee fly on light, which is attached to new ceiling fan.

Swat fly on light.

Result – 1 dead fly, 1 broken light

Say “Oh S*&%!” Tell little boy that even though mommy said that, he should not say that!

Put little boy in bed.

Walk across hall, get in bed, and drink directly from the bottle.