I know my blogging has been sporadic at best. Between the kids, triathlon training and the time sucker of life aka The PTO Pasta Dinner, somehow blogging has just slipped. Fortunately, everything is good...even the fundraiser.
However, March is an important transitional month for me. It is the time of year when I shift from exercise to training, as I prepare for my third triathlon season. This year my training is mainly focused on the Nautica New York City triathlon. It's my first time doing an Olympic distance tri. My training buddy and the cyclist from my relay team are also doing it. Since I am a veteran, surely I should be done being neurotic about tris. Gone is my first year worry about what to wear. Gone (or perhaps dormant) is my second year fear of being eaten by a shark. Alas, however, there is still something to fear besides fear itself.
My new fear is the bike. Actually this is a fear from last season, but it is no longer overshadowed by the prospect of imminent death from a shark. Last season I started having problems with my bike chain falling off while I was riding. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal. However, I can't always get my feet out of the clipless pedals in time, particularly since it usually happens going up a hill, so the bike won't coast forward to give me time to unclip. I therefore suffer from a slow motion bike crash that does extreme injury to my pride. Hey, I would even laugh if I saw myself falling.
Believe it or not, some of my fellow athletes are convinced that this is because I am more confident I with my biking and therefore more willing to experiment with the different gears. I may be changing them too late. Fortunately one of my cyclist relaymate has offered to help me. His help has also helped me solve on of my previous exercise mysteries...why some people go to spinning class decked out in biking gear to ride a stationary bike.
Apparently many spinners have a computrainer. This is a computer bike that allows you to virtually ride different bike courses. Kind of like a Wii and bike in one. My teammate not only has a computrainer, but his wife got him the program for the Nautica NYC bike course. I'm helping him with improve his swimming, and he's helping me with the biking. I think I have the better deal here! I may continue to laugh at those wearing biking gear to spinning, but if it will improve my cycling skills, I will soon be laughing at myself when wearing my helmet and sunglasses in spinning class.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Wearing biking gear to use a stationary bike is not necessarily a sign of insanity.
Yesterday I told the kids to go get socks. Of course this meant that they did everything except going to get socks. However, it is my favorite time of the year. I just love December. No it's not the festive holiday decorations, the food or the gifts. What good be better than gifts? Why good threats of course!
I headed over to them to remind them that Santa could see exactly what they were doing. He has elves everywhere! What I found though was my younger son (YS) with his shirt pulled up and his stuffed animal mouse* on his breast. My older son (OS) promptly informed his brother that he couldn't nurse his mouse. I thought he was going to state the obvious: YS is a boy. However, that's not what he said. He calmly informed YS that mice drink mouse milk not human milk.
"Mouse" is actually a large stuffed animal rat that we got from IKEA a couple weeks ago that YS has named "Mouse."
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Baby mice drink mouse milk.
A while ago we converted our guest room into a playroom for the boys. However, we didn't have a place to put their games so most of them sat piled on the floor. We had been meaning to get a low bookcase for them, but we hadn't gotten around to it.
Lo and behold today we actually had a day without any commitments! We decided to go to IKEA and take a look at their selection.
As we approached, I had a flashback to the last time I went to IKEA. I was 22 and had just graduated from college. I was living in Hoboken, NJ. The Big Giraffe and I had just begun dating. He borrowed his mother's car and we went to the IKEA in Elizabeth, NJ. I had only been working for a few months and had carefully saved money to be able to buy new furniture. I picked out what I thought was the most beautiful dresser, nightstand and small vanity mirror.
I still remember eagerly anticipating the delivery. Much to my horror everything was in pieces. It took a lot longer than I would have ever imagined to put together. It looked great though when it was put together although the drawers never closed quite right and after a while my clothes made impressions in the bottom of the drawer. In fact, it was only a short while later that I realized that I had actually paid quite a bit of money for cheaply made furniture. I could have bought nicer furniture that was used. Later when OS began to do board breaking at Tae Kwon Do I joked that the boards he broke were just like the backs of all my IKEA furniture: pressed wood. Live and learn! Like I said, it did look nice.
However, in the years since I've wondered if my IKEA experience was just a fluke. Many people I know have bought furniture there, and they haven't had any problems with it. We bought a hutch from Crate and Barrel and the drawer closes funny on it. We decided to give Ikea another try.
After each of us feasted on their $1 meatball meal and $2 princess cake in the cafe, we headed to the section with bookshelves. How had 11 years passed by so quickly? It really seemed like yesterday I was a new college graduate buying furniture for my first apartment. Now I was holding two little boys' hands.
We found a decent looking bookshelf. Given how flat the package is, I'm guessing it's in at least two hundred different pieces. Hopefully this time though it will hold up well.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Some things don't change with time.
After my first race involving an ocean swim, I realized that I needed a new wetsuit. That was the bad news since wetsuits are expensive, particularly the full body kind which is what is recommended for ocean swims. The good news is that my experience swimming through many "warm spots" in the water made me more open to the idea of buying a slightly used wetsuit. After all, I used to believe that a used wetsuit would be icky because there was a good chance that the prior owner had peed in it. Now I realize that even if I buy a new wetsuit, I will still end up swimming through many other swimmers' pee. A used wetsuit therefore warranted at least a look.
The stars and planets all aligned and there happened to be a wetsuit on eBay that was 1) my top choice brand 2) had only been worn once and most importantly 3) appeared to be in my size! I say appeared because it seems that the people who determine the sizes for wedding suits have taken over wetsuits. In other words, size 0 supermodels may need X-Large. I went ahead and bid on the wetsuit and won it, spending $70 instead of the $300 that a new wetsuit would have required.
In the days since I placed the order, I became increasingly convinced that the wetsuit would not fit. In fact when it arrived yesterday, I was scared to even open the box. Well, perhaps I wasn't exactly scared. The truth is it was the hottest day of the summer (98 at the beach), and Aunt Flo had arrived. The thought of squeezing my bloated sweating body into a hot full arm full legged wetsuit made me want to get extra packaging tape just to make sure that the wetsuit didn't leap out of the sealed box and chase me around the house.
I've been doing weekly outdoor lake swims though, and I really would like to test out the wetsuit tomorrow to see how it works in the water. Thus I begrudgingly opened the box and almost screamed out loud in horror. It was tiny like a deflated balloon! I hoped that the wetsuit would swell up like a balloon when worn, because otherwise it didn't even look like my big toe could fit into the ankle part. Then I read the instructions on the tag which said, and I swear I'm not making this up, that I needed to put socks on my feet and plastic bags on my hands to help ease on the wetsuit. I'm surprised that "amputate a couple of appendages" also wasn't on there.
Still I did need to know otherwise how am I going to outswim the sharks next month in my race? I applied Body Glide to my legs as was recommended. I then announced to the Big Giraffe that I was getting a pair of socks. He was confused and said that he thought I was trying on the wetsuit. However, he seemed unphased as he lounged on the couch eating a mug of ice cream.
I came down with a pair of Christmas socks, since they were thin, and proceeded to tug on the suit. The suit did initially catch my feet, prompting the Big Giraffe to comment that he didn't know wetsuits had flippers on them. Then the suit widened, and my feet came through. I then pulled the wetsuit up to my thighs. At that point I realized that I had forgotten to apply Body Glide to my thighs. The Big Giraffe was still lounging with his ice cream, but he was too busy laughing at me to eat much.
I then announced I needed plastic bags. The Big Giraffe looked even more confused. I went ahead and grabbed two gallon sized ziplock bags and put one on each hand. I then slid my arm into the sleeve. It worked! I then repeated with the second hand. Although the Big Giraffe quipped that experienced triathletes could magically do a superpunch with both hands to put both arms into the suit at the same time, I now realize that you only need one bag. In the future, I intend to use a sandwich bag rather than a gallon-sized bag. A sandwich bag should have two advantages. First, it will help you avoid having to slip a bag all the way down from your elbow out of the sleeve of your wetsuit. More importantly, it will deny your spouse the opportunity to make snide remarks, like recommending the use of a kitchen garbage bag in case the gallon-sized bag may have accidentally left some part of your body exposed. I think the biggest struggle was trying to get the bag off my hand.
Finally it was the moment of truth. Would it zip? The Big Giraffe was actually helpful and zipped me up. It fit! I could even comfortably breathe! I went to look at myself in the mirror. Oh yeah, I looked like a superhero! A superhero wearing Christmas socks that is. I had forgotten to take them off and decided that on race day if need be, I'll just swim with them on or maybe cut them off.
My older son (OS) came downstairs to grab a boo boo pack from the freezer because...you know injuries can occur when you're "sleeping". He was very impressed when I told him I was a superhero. I think he actualy believed me!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: With 2 socks, one plastic baggie, and one wetsuit, you too can look like a superhero.
The day had come at last! We are liberated from schlepping around giant bags of baby items for every outing. No more bottles, baby food or diapers (even for overnight trips). No more stroller. I wanted to do cartwheels across the floor.
I was pretty excited...that is until we went on our first outing to Davis Farmland carrying our lunches, the boys' swimsuits and towels. Where was I going to put all the stuff? I was so used to throwing it in the basket under the stroller. Yes, I could carry it, but that wouldn't be very much fun for me. I know myself well enough to know I would be rushing the boys past all the farm animals so that I could more quickly get to a table and put down all my things. It's hard to pet a goat while your arms are full.
Then I did the unthinkable. Well, what I had thought of as unthinkable a few weeks earlier. I brought along a stroller simply to hold our things. Except that our stroller was sitting in the back of the Big Giraffe's car, which was parked at his office. That required me to do something even more unthinkable. I rented a stroller. That's right. I paid $5 to rent a stroller that I knew no one would use. I paid money for the sole purpose of toting around our stuff. Brace yourself for the next one: I did it twice! I forgot to take the stroller out of the car before our next Davis Farmland trip.
Today we went to the aquarium, and I again dragged the stroller with me. Yes, it was a lunch bag holder and coat rack on wheels. My triathlon training partner did the same thing. I'm guessing that at some point outings will become less frequent with school, sports and my kids hating me. My older son (OS) already seems to already be working on hating me. Maybe then outings will be rare enough that we'll just go out to lunch when we got the aquarium.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Kids outgrow baby gear before parents do.
Our backyard used to be a horse exercise track. No, not a race track, but a place where horses could gallop around outside. Over time, the land was divided up and new houses were built on it. Depending on where on which part of the track has your house, your land is either relatively flat (bottom of the track) or just flat in front of and under your house with the back completely slanted (side of the track.) We fit into the latter category.
While I like horses, I'm no expert on exercise tracks. I know about this because everyone in our neighborhood is related except for the Pakistani neighbors behind us and us. Our next door neighbor actually grew up in our house, and the boys' old babysitter who lived two doors down before she went off to college is her great great niece.
If you're looking for a hill to roll down, come visit us! Actually if it weren't for our fence, it would be good for sledding. Not a great hill by any means, but perfect for toddlers. Balex Melliot was rumored to have once gone down the hill on her son's slide and to have run straight into the fence. IShe proved to any Doubting Thomases out there that that force = mass X acceleration.
For a long time now, we've wanted to get a swing set. In fact my parents even put down a very generous deposit on one. However, the problem has always been the land. The swing set place insisted that almost everyone has a flat patch in their yard. We were the exception unless we wanted to put it in our front yard. Like I said though, our backyard is fenced. On top of it all, we would like to move.
After considering it for many years a while, we decided that we needed to live in the moment. The fact of the matter is these are the years when the swing set will be fun. We have a deck where I can sit and use my computer (I was pleasantly surprised last year to realize that my wireless works out there) while my kids run around the back. As much as they liked running around with sticks, I didn't think that it was the best of ideas. Plus we found out that the company from which we bought our swing set will move it and reassemble it for us if we move for only a small fee. Thus, we decided to get a swing set. For those of you who know me in real life, I will give you a minute to take in the fact that the years of hearing me agonize about this decision are over.
Last week the landscapers came and dug a huge mud patch box area in our backyard. The plan was all coordinated. First the landscapers, then the swing set today, followed by mulch next week from the landscapers. I was on top of things! I scheduled the delivery on a day when I was hosting playgroup so I would be here and could ask one of my friends in the playgroup to stay later so I could go pick up OS from preschool without worrying about missing the delivery crew; if you're not there, they won't deliver it. Oms were practically coming out of every pore. I was calm and zen-like and living for today.
Yesterday I received a call from the company saying that they actually would be here from 8-10. Perfect! I wouldn't need my friend to stay after playgroup. However, I failed to realize that meant I needed someone at the house while I dropped OS off at preschool. Zen went out the window, but I fortunately didn't have a major freakout or anything. My neighbor said that he would keep an eye out for the truck.
I asked his wife to tell them to put the swing set in the large mud patch in the back. I then asked her if she had seen it.
Her reply..."Yes, I know what you are talking about. I told Richard that either you were putting in a garden or having a swing set delivered. Knowing how you two are about gardening and yard work, we knew it must be a swing set."
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Children love swing sets.
I know that I been absent from the blogosphere for the last couple weeks. Don't you just hate the way real life gets in the way of blog reading? I'm kidding! Well, sort of any way. The past few days have gone well other than the fact that I have yet another cold. I think it's a combination of the fact that I had insomina even before the Big Giraffe was out of town, so I ended up unable to really sleep for about a week.
So, what has gone well? First, the Big Giraffe has been working tirelessly on getting our younger son (YS) to put the "r" on the end of the words like "car." The result is that YS thinks that Daddy is a lunatic and that it's great fun to ask Daddy questions about Mommy's "cah."
I also found our missing library book! Our older son (OS) is very into the solar system and the weather. As such, the Big Giraffe checked out two books on lightening for him (on my library card I might add). Although I liked one of the lightening books and all of the books about outer space, I was looking forward to returning the other lightening book...which of course had to be the one OS liked best. It provided a wide array of gory details about death and lightening. These are the parts of the book that require quick improv when you realize that in your absent-minded droning, you have just recounted tales of lightening chasing down entire families to strike them over and over again until they are all gone. Hmm...perhaps the sections weren't that bad, but they certainly detailed large number of deaths and warned us that it is quite likely that lightening will strike the same place repeatedly so you should never go back to the spot where lightening has struck before like your own backyard where your tree was struck last March. Do these authors have any idea how important it is to me to get my kids out playing in my backyard? It saves my sanity! I don't typically send them out in dangerous storms.
We had already renewed the library books once, so of course the final due date coincided with my week of insomnia/ I found all of the books that I had enjoyed, but I couldn't find the apocalyptic massacre storm book anywhere. It was neither with the other library books nor with the kids' regular books. I know because I culled through the entire bookcase looking for it. I figured that an extra day or two to find this book was well worth the 30 cents. I moved the couches and took out all the cushions. No luck. I even pulled the mattresses up from the boys' beds to see if the book had fallen there. Nothing. As long as the mattresses were up, I thought I would look to see if it had fallen under either headboard, since the headboards are bookcases. I looked under YS's bookcase without a problem. Then I got to OS's. Somehow my knee must have just hit at the right angle because the next thing I knew my knee had gone through the bunky board.
How on earth could fit into the category of things going well? For three reasons. First, denial. Second, as I proudly recounted during my parenting class later that evening, not a swear word escaped my mouth. Third, I was entertained by a similar story shared at the same parent group by someone named Balex Melliot, except that Balex told the group that her knee had gone through her kid's boogie board. Embarrassing for her to say that, but funny and entertaining for everyone who got to hear the story. One would have expected someone in the parent group to correct me Balex, but obviously they either truly believed she was nuts enough to let her kids sleep on a boogie board or assumed that they misheard "bunky" as "boogie" due to her cool Chicago accent.
The library told me that I had the option of either paying to replace the book, buying a new copy from Amazon.com, or filing a claim. The claim would unfortunately remain on my permanent record. I vaguely remember being threatened with stains to my permanent record in junior high school, but since I am not school right now, I don't know where they intend to write it. I was more affected by the sob story about budget cuts zeroing out the library's acquisition budget, so that they will buy no future books. Thus my loss would prevent any future residents of my town from ever learning about lightening. I went on-line seeking a used copy since the a new one was about $50. Between the bunky board and the book replacement, this library book was costing about $250! Do you know how many books on lightening I could have bought my kids?
Fortunately, I found the book in a suitcase (for when we go to Chicago this summer, Mommy) and now I'm only out about $200, which is better than being out 250.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Bunky boards are for sleeping, and boogie boards are for surfing.
In the years since I have declined your acceptance, I have been working on my skills to reapply in the future. In addition to working on my gag reflex by changing countless diapers, cleaning up vomit, and tasting food that has been in my children's mouths, and probably for that matter rubbed on a filthy floor in an infrequently cleaned McDonald's, I have also been working on non-verbal communication. I believe communicating with my children through interpretative dance will help me understand animals' conditions better. Why in fact just the other day I was able to determine that my dog did not in fact defecate on the dining room floor despite my younger son's garbled claim to the contrary because the dog was in fact asleep in the other room. Plus the tire tracks on my son's legs offered solid evidence sticking him to the crime.
More importantly though, I have been working on my animal surgical skills. A couple days ago my friend Suzanne and her hubby gave my older son (OS) a Playmobile Horse Shower. Not only did this give me more exposure to horses, but it allowed me to practice being in an operating room. Well perhaps my dining room room isn't exactly an operating room per se, but how hard could surgical reconstruction of a cat be now that I have spent hours putting together a microscopic horse shower? What's repairing a dog's knee after putting together the that shower with directions that only have drawings and no words? What's neutering a rabbit after putting together that shower that is so microscopic that only the specific mini-screw driver that comes with the set can be used to put it together? The true miracle is not that the shower was eventually put together, but that the screwdriver actually came with the directions. Unfortunately I did not discover it until half of the "screws" were already place. Much like how one abnormality can look like another, the screws resembled small red blocks.
Lest you think these have been the only areas of professional growth, let me highlight another important skill set: legal recourse. I am well aware that vets are sometimes sued and thus have malpractice insurance. Although I fortunately have never been sued (knock on wood), I have almost had the opportunity to seek legal recourse thanks to that horse shower. When the shower squirted water out of the tank, instead of the hose, and splashed all over me, despite the fact that I placed it in a jelly lip sheet, I had planned on calling Playmobile and asking for their toy Farmhouse to compensate me for my injuries to my...pride. However, Suzanne wisely pointed out that I could instead demand that they replace my entire house, since the malfunctioning horse shower may cause a mold infestation in my current house.
Oh, and in case someone in the admission's office does not know what a jelly lip sheet is, I am happy to further demonstrate the knowledge I have picked up since declining vet school. My friend Betty introduced me to the jelly lip sheet, which is a cookie sheet with an edge around it.
In summary, when I do reapply to vet school I will have had years of practicing all of these skills.
Best, Alex Elliot
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: There are many ways to build the skills needed to become a veterinarian.
For the record, the boys absolutely love the horse shower and seeing as it keeps them occupied for hours at a time, I give it a high rating as well.
Happy holidays to you all! It's been a busy but fun week here. The funny thing is that I can't even tell you exactly what we've been doing except that I've laughed more this week than I have in a really long time. Don't get me wrong; I love to laugh much to the Big Giraffe's chagrin because there might be a slight tendency to have it be at his expense. Such as right now while I'm watching him trying virtual step aerobics on the new Wii Fit we got as a gift for Christmas.
Christmas Eve day the Big Giraffe ran a few errands while my MIL and I made cookies with the boys. I even made them from scratch and pulled out my cookie dough press. I have an itty bitty problem every year: operator error. The first several cookie sheets worth of cookies I make always look like a two year old got a hold of the cookie press. I master the cookie dough press by the last dozen cookies. Satisfied that I have put the cookie dough press back in place and made lovely cookies I then pack up the press and put it away for next Christmas Eve. We all found my cookies to be quite funny to my chagrin. The Big Giraffe told me in all seriousness that theis year's batch not only tastes better than last year's (thanks to the William Sonoma on-line recipe!) but also looks better. I like to think it's because the boys are better at decorating them, but the Big Giraffe has clarified that my technique with the cookie press has gotten better.
Christmas Day itself the boys were up bright and early. We opened gifts and then the Big Giraffe made us our traditional, delicious eggs benedict Christmas breakfast. We spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon playing with the kids and of course setting up their toys. We also set up the Wii and had a great time playing with it. All of us bowled together even my MIL. The Big Giraffe and I had a ton of fun competing in tennis. Then it was dinner time.
After much thought (on my part as everyone else said they really and truly didn't care) we bought a HoneyBaked Ham and a couple side dishes. This worked out perfectly because I was able to make homemade rolls (yes, from scratch!) and a homemade au gratin potato sidedish. We also had the Christmas cookies and a cake. The ham was already cooked so I had full use of the oven for my sidedishes. I was quite pleased with it. Then it was time to beat up the Big Giraffe at boxing to engage in some healthy sporting games.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: A Wii offers more than a wee bit of fun.
It's been snowing like crazy here. Not surprisingly the boys are very excited. Our older son (OS) kept on talking about how much fun it was going to be to play in the snow. His plans were quite elaborate; there were going to be snowballs, snow angels, a snowman, a fort and of course chasing the dog around the backyard. He could barely stand still he was so excited. YS looked pretty enthusiastic too.
The Big Giraffe and I took turns looking around the house for OS's snowpants. We just couldn't find them. OS decided to go without the snowpants. YS reluctantly put his on. By the time we had the boys dressed and headed outside, I was exhausted. Forget triathlon training, attiring little kids in winter clothing is a greater workout. Which is why it was no surprise that they spent a total of about ten minutes outside.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: The amount of time spent dressing kids in winter attire is inversely proportional to the amount of time they will play outside.
I consider myself fortunate that I have not been on an airplane for a while...not because of how I feel about flying, but because of what happens at airports. In particular, I am concerned about the repeated announcements asking people to report any suspicious bags or packages to security. Since becoming a parent, I have always felt like all of our bags are suspicious because there's usually something gross either on them or in them.
These days, I have started carrying a bag that is far more icky if not suspicious than a typical diaper bag. In fact, my Trader Joe's bag reminds me of the belly I used to have at the end of each pregnancy because it seems to enter each room before I do. Why? Because it contains a Diego potty seat that goes on top of the toilet. That's right, my younger son (YS) decided not to use a toilet unless he can sit on that seat. In fact he liked that seat so much that we tried to find a second one at Target for our upstairs bathroom. Unfortunately, YS may not be the only child whose urination is Diego-enabled. There were none to be found. YS had to settle for a Dora seat.
This past Friday I took my kids to a children's museum with my friend Sally HP and her boys. The boys had a great time. I had stashed the omnipresent Trader Joe's bag behind a bench in the middle of the room. I figured that was a good place, because it was close the bathroom while being out of the way of any curious kids. We ended up not even needing it. YS discovered how to pee standing up!
However after we had left, I realized we had left the seat behind the bench. The problem is that YS still needs it for...well business involving actually sitting on the toilet. I had a terrible image of some poor employee digging through the suspicious bag only to discover a potty seat that had been used on public toilets! As stressed as I was when considering the embarrassment of returning to the museam to pick up a potty seat, I was more afraid of the argument with YS if he could no longer sit on it. I therefore participated in a most unusal phonecall during which I encouraged the museam receptionist not to touch the Trader Joe's bag that had been left behind the bench. Of course she had to ask why. There was definitely a long pause when I answered.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Parenting includes some crappy experiences and memories that just can't be flushed away.
When the Big Giraffe and I first were expecting, we thought about babyproofing our house with the keyword being "thought." The fact of the matter was that we didn't want to have to live in a babyproof house any longer than we needed to, and that was before we even saw those toilet seat clamps that I just knew I wouldn't be able to figure out. For the record, a couple friends do have them, and I still can't figure them out. We decided to move all the cleaners out from under the sink and put in those outlet covers. You know the ones that my kids can both get out but that the Big Giraffe and I still struggle with? We figured that we would do more when our older son (OS) became mobile.
OS began crawling at almost 11 months and didn't walk until almost 16 months. By then he understood the single most important word to both humans and dogs , "No!" We did bolt the dressers and bookcases into the walls with those saftety fastners. We have a lock on our medicine cabinet. That was about it though. Other than the infamous Sharpie incident, we had no issues. I didn't realize how fortunate we were until this week.
Thursday when my younger son (YS) was allegedly napping in the guest room, he climbed out of the Pack N Play and opened a tightly closed vat of Eucerin body cream, applied it to his clothes, removed his clothes, and applied all over his body. Fortunately that was when I was babysitting at someone else's house leaving the Big Giraffe to bathe YS. Perhaps I should clarify that body cream isn't water soluble. Friday again while allegedly napping in the guest room, YS once again climbed out of the Pack N Play unzipped my MIL's purse, rummaged through it to find her make up bag, unzipped it, and uncapped her lipstick. (Fortunately she stored all her meds up high in our kitchen.) YS then completely covered his belly with it. The Big Giraffe once again had the honor and privilege of bathing YS. My MIL hadn't seen that lipstick in months and assumed it was lost. YS's skin is still stained a rose colored pink.
Today we decided that YS is just too old to be sleeping downstiars. After all the downstairs bedroom is clearly insecure, and he can clearly climb out of the Pack N Play. Plus he sleeps in a bed at night. We put him in his room. After hearing a crash, the Big Giraffe went upstairs to find him completely naked. YS apparently informed him that he had a poop, and sure enough was able to point out a dirty diaper near the changing table. YS had generously taken out a new diaper, and a large handfull of wipes to facilitate the cleaning process. He also fortunately had not made any sort of mess. After rediapering and redressing him, the Big Giraffe went downstairs and left YS to sleep.
YS made alternate plans. He went into our room (which is connected to his) to remove some items from my dresser, knock over a chair, and make a phone call (if your phone numer is 500, then I apologize for disturbing you). He then meandered into the bathroom to brush his teeth...with my toothbrush. YS was very outraged when the Big Giraffe interrupted him.
Clearly, we need to change our approach (or possibly consider eliminating) naptime. Despite his lack of sleep, however, YS was fortunately not too tired to play nicely with OS. They were engaged in playing with an ink pad and some of their favorite stamps. When I looked in on the boys, I learned that YS had found a unique twist on an old playtime activity. He had "grown" a beard and mustache by repeatedly pressing the inkpad to his face. I know he did this because I caught him in the act. By then though it was already everywhere. Fortunately it was washable ink.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Some children require babyproofing at different ages.
Over the past few weeks, I've been giving the old heave ho to a lot of our junk valuable treasures. I've made some pretty good progress too. There is one area of our house though where I really need the Big Giraffe's help: our book cases. The two of us love books and love to hang on to things. I told the BG today that I knew it was hard, but he just had to buckle down and really look at all the items in the bookshelves. He needed to think about whether or not he had even looked at the item in the last year. He needed to consider whether he truly felt he would use the items again. Whether he truly felt that it was worth paying the storage money for that Celine Dion CD. Yes, I'm kidding about having to pay storage money for that one CD. No, I'm not kidding though that my husband owns one.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: My husband's musical tastes may be more eclectic than I realized before we got married, but I still believe that my heart will go on and on.
Before I became a parent of two, I swore that I would treat my kids equally. What worked for one would work for another. Yeah, you can just add this to my list of things I swore I would never do (or LTISIWND).
Back when I had just one, I was convinced that it was best to wait until a child was 3 to switch to a bed (unless the child was climbing out of the crib or you needed it for another baby.) Since my older son (OS) wasn't trying to climb out of the crib and seemed quite content to stay in his crib, I saw no reason to move him. I had even read some articles from a sleep institute that supported it.
Fast forward to a few years later. While my younger son (YS) never tried climbing out his crib, he really didn't like being in it so I figured it was just a matter of time before the inevitable occurred. His distress affected his brother as well. He kept OS running back and forth to fetch the various toys that he insisted needed to be in his crib with him at night and again in the morning. Plus he always wants his overnight diaper off immediately. Hence, my two year old is spending the second night in his big boy bed tonight.
While it certainly has made it easier for OS to sleep, I'm not exactly sure how much sleep YS has gotten, since he keeps getting out of bed to get toys himself, and has been up late playing with the assortment. by himself while his brother is sleeping. Isn't that parenting, though?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: With parenting, solving one problem creates new ones.
I am still looking for bloggers to do blogger reviews. Did I mention that there are going to be prizes? In fact there will be prizes for both bloggers and blog readers! Click here for more info. For our wedding, my aunt and uncle gave the Big Giraffe and me gift airline gift certificates. We decided to use them to go to Disney World for our one year anniversary. I was quite excited when we got to Disney World and I discovered they sold one of the greatest inventions ever: fanny packs! For some reason the Big Giraffe didn't seem to fully appreciate how momentous this was. I never understand why fanny packs went out of fashion. They're so convenient particularly for those time you need to carry a wallet, cell phone and maybe one or two extra things like a tube of sunscreen and a packet of tissues. Sure you have a giant bulge over your stomach and you look like you're straight out of the 80's, but you don't have to lug around a purse or a backpack.
When we went to Disney World for a family reunion last year, I learned that after having two kids, the fanny pack just didn't fit. I was pretty upset about it. Tears were shed. The Big Giraffe tried to console me by saying I could just buy a new, larger fanny pack. That just didn't make me feel much better for a variety of reasons starting with the words "larger fanny pack". Fortunately, or actually unfortunately, we had to lug around a diaper bag everywhere with us anyway so a fanny pack was actually not needed.
After receiving a constant barrage of criticism from the Big Giraffe and various friends over the last year for running without my cell phone, I decided today that I really need to start carrying it with me. However, unless I'm wearing my fleece, I don't have the pockets to store my cell phone. That's when I remembered the fanny pack! With trepidation, I tried to put it on. Not only did it fit, but I had to tighten it! I have a sneaky suspicion that the Big Giraffe was laughing at me when I went running. I saw a glimpse of a smirk on my way out the door when he said that it is not my best look. He just doesn't appreciate how truly stylish I was. I also think he's jealous of my fanny pack. Not only is it handy, but the zipper handle is shaped like mouse ears and the Disney characters form the letters to the word "Disney" across the front.
Two people with obviously highly evolved tastes did stop me on my run to compliment my gear. They were specifically more interested in my pedometer than my fanny pack. Pedometer? Umm...that's my iPod. They had no idea what an iPod was, and they didn't even get it after I tried explaining it to them. That's right, the other group that just loves fanny packs are old people. I think they zoomed in on the fanny pack and figured I was one of them.
It's amazing how excited I can be over the fact that my fanny pack fits again. Yes, it is kind of pathetic. Don't agree with that one, Big Giraffe!
I just got back from babysitting a 3 year old and a 3 month old. It's been a long time since I've given a baby a bottle. In fact, when I went to prepare the formula, I had to double-check the back of the container just to make sure I remembered the correct ratio of water to formula (and that it hadn't changed). It's funny how something I used to be able to do almost in my sleep seems so far away. In fact it made me remember that after I felt like an old pro at feeding and changing my older son (OS), I almost knocked my younger son (YS) out the first time I put clothes on him. I forgot how much head support you have to give newborns when pulling on those tiny shirts, and he fell forward on the changing table. Fortunately I caught him in the nick of time. For a while everything was smooth sailing with YS and then of course life changed.
Which leads me to today. Where in the course of parenting does it teach you what to do when your son drops a piece of pizza on his Tae Kwon Do uniform? Um...bleach? A friend already warned me that bleach will give the uniform a slight yellow tinge. I'm hedging my bets on Oxiclean. Where is the info on these important parenting skills because the Big Giraffe and are at a loss? Forgot crafty little projects to make your kids brilliant and fun recipes to trick your kids into eating vegetables. I just don't want to look like the idiot who let her kid eat pizza in his white uniform pants. If it doesn't stain it's like it didn't happen, right?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: There is a fine line between parenting expertise and ignorance.
Do you ever watch your kids and suddenly get flooded by a memory from your own past? For example, my older son (OS) has recently been intrigued by the police and fire departments. Every time he talks about or to a police officer, I remember how I accidentally set a jar of peanut butter on fire on my stove requiring the fire department to come to our house. I believe that event was what actually first established OS's interest.
Some memories triggered by my children are far older. I still remember how desperately I wanted to have a two wheeler. My old Hot Wheels was no longer cool. My parents had a system where I earned a star on every day that I behaved myself. When I earned enough stars, I could get a special gift. When I was saving stars to get a bicycle, a kid from across the street assured me that indeed we were allowed ride our hot wheels across the street from driveway to driveway. Apparently my parents disagreed. Just like that I lost two weeks worth of stars. I was later able to make it up by helping my mom take care of my baby brother. I was so excited to go to the bike store and pick my out my red bike with training wheels. I had it forever. In fact, it's still in my parents' basement. I have no plans to use it for any of my triathlons.
Yesterday my parents flew in from Chicago and took my older son (OS) out to get his first two-wheeler. He was so excited. He'd been talking for a while now about how he wanted the green bike at the store. He was thrilled when he could actually take it home (We had told him that it might be a few days since they might not have one built; we were lucky, the color he wanted was siting there waiting for him.) Watching OS reminded me of the day I got my bike. Where did all the time go?
After we got OS's bike and had dinner and ice cream at Friendly's, we returned home to find several cops across the street. An already wired OS got even more excited! We don't know why they were around, but a neighbor said she was going to try to get the scoop today.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: A new bike, ice cream, and the cops make a perfect day for a preschooler.
Milestones don't always come at the most convenient time. For example, the most convenient time for potty training is during a week when you have nothing requiring you to leave the house, rather than during a weekend when your college friends are getting together in a house they rented somewhere, like say New Hampshire. Unfortunately my younger son (YS) either didn't know or didn't care that we had planned to head up to New Hampshire yesterday for just such an event when he decided he was ready to be potty trained. We didn't want to miss out on the trip because of the potty training, but we knew the trip would take a couple of hours particularly with road construction and stops.
The good news is that there weren't any accidents in the car. Unfortunately, the Big Giraffe got to experience what seemed like every gas station bathroom on the way to the house. As a native New Yorker he rarely has kind words for the New Englanders amongst whom we live during baseball season, but he expressed particularly...articulate views about the barbarism of a people whom he claimed had not flushed a toilet in any public bathroom off of I-495, I-93, or I-89. The boys were less concerned and were quite excited to eat lunch, play, and swim when we got to the house.
We were all surprised to hear one of the little girls at the house announce "The baby is peeing!" Our older son (OS) elaborated by saying, "OS is making footprints!" That's right, YS not only peed on the floor, but he became upset and walked right through the puddle. Before any adult could intervene, the attentive little girl accidentally dropped her brand new, electronic barking black lab stuffed animal in the middle of the puddle. All of the kids except OS were crying. What did OS do? He jumped into the puddle to make a splash!
Fortunately, not only did the stuffed animal clean up nicely after going through the wash and dryer, but it still barked perfectly. The boys also cleaned up well, and there weren't anymore accidents. I think I forgot how important it is to keep reminding a potty training child to go. When OS was first in underwear, I kept setting a timer. Of course I no longer remember how much time I scheduled between each potty visit. It's funny how something that was such a big deal at the time, is a very distant memory just a couple years later.
Big Giraffe's Lesson Learned: The toughest part of learning to use the toilet is apparently learning to flush.
When I had only one child, my diaper bag was larger than the bookbag I used when carrying 4 college science text books, associated lab materials, and a laptop everywhere with me. I thought I would need a suitcase on wheels once I had a second child. Yet I read somewhere that with each child, your diaper bag gets smaller. I have been very surprised to find this to be true. In fact based on the reduction of diaper bag size from my first child to my second, I would be down to a Ziplock snack size bag for my fourth child. (Don't worry, Big Giraffe. I don't plan on confirming this.)
With my older son I always had "spare" everything. Sadly with my second I've found myself asking other moms for spares a few times. I've noticed that the parents who need a diaper from another parent (because let's face it you can't borrow a diaper unless the giver is deranged because why else would they want it back after it is used?) either have newborns and are still trying to get the whole diaper bag thing under control or they have more than one child. Personally, I've begun counting down the days until YS is done with diapers. Seeing as he just turned two, taking my socks off so I can count on both hands and feet doesn't get me to a high enough number.
The boys and I are heading to the Catskills for the week. Hence, I haven't been commenting on blogs as much and am entrusting Blogger to publish this scheduled post. I think back to what it was like when I traveled first of all by myself. Pause for appreciation. Then I think back to what it was like when I packed for one: enough items to go around the world and back twice. I feel myself breaking out in a light layer of sweat just thinking about it. In all honesty I think it is harder with just one because there is no model driving an only child to move to the next level. A second child sees his brother sitting in a regular chair to eat, sleeping in a regular bed and using other every day tools of living. If he can get by doing for a week, you don't need to pack a booster chair or a Pack and Play. Despite, paring the gear down as part of this minimalist approach towards packing, I'm still left with an enormous pile of "stuff". I'm thinking about being generous and giving each person a regular size Ziplock baggie instead of a snack size and telling them to cram in as many pairs of underwear as they can. That could be it for our luggage. Yeah, not a good idea, but then again, Ziplock baggies hardly take up any space...
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: There can be an inverse relationship between the number of children and the amount of gear.
I'm very excited to be going to BlogHer in a couple of weeks. I had a great time last year, and I learned a lot. I am also particularly excited to make my first visit to San Francisco. I am also looking forward to rooming with Suzanne. We have been friends since we were 14, and she's my younger son's (YS) godmother. I have my tickets. I have a hotel room, which was particularly easy to find since Suzanne did all the research. (She has been to San Francisco many times.) BlogHer has a packed agenda, including a signing for Suzanne's new book, Off the Beaten Subway Track. I thought everything was set. Then I realized that I am missing one thing: pajamas that fit.
For each of the past two Christmases, the Big Giraffe bought me a pair of pajamas that fit well. Unfortunately, they're winter pajamas so while they allow us to keep our house at a freezer-like temperature (much to the chagrin of any overnight guests), they're not so great when it's warm outside. I have given away all of my pre-pregnancy summer pjs, leaving me with pjs I bought during the third trimester of my first pregnancy. I am quite pleased to say that they are gigantic. There is no way I'm letting anyone who's not married to me see me wearing them. Sorry, scary pjs require a marriage license. I just won't take responsibility for giving anyone nightmares for years to come, followed by additional years of therapy. (I know for a fact that the Big Giraffe has medical insurance. Plus he took a vow for better or worse and I think that the pjs fall neatly into the latter category. Rest assured that if asked during my pregnancies the correct response would have been that they fell into the former category.)
Since I'm spending a lot of money on this trip, a couple of pairs of pjs is nothing on top that a couple of pairs of decent pjs aren't that much of an extravagance, the Big Giraffe, the boys, and I headed out to an outlet mall. While we were there, I decided to duck into my very favorite, pre-kids store: Ann Taylor. I love her clothes, and she was my designer of choice when I worked full-time. After two kids, well let's just say that they haven't fit as well and leave it at that. Today I braved the long line for the dressing rooms and practically held my breath when trying on the clothes while repeating a silent mantra of "Do not cry if they don't fit." And...they didn't fit. They were too big!!! I'm really excited that not only can I fit back in Ann Taylor clothes, but I'm not even the largest size (not that I wouldn't have been thrilled even to fit into the largest size too). There was nothing I liked enough to warrant spending even the outlet-reduced high prices, so I put everything back and then almost had a panic attack trying to leave the store to meet up with my family. Why is that?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Outlet stores are extremely crowded during 4th of July weekend sales.
My younger son's (YS) second birthday is this Saturday. Hmmm...that day sounds very familiar like there might be something happening in the Blogosphere. Wait a minute! It's the kick off day for the Happy Birth Days Carnival happening right here at FF&P!
YS received a Fisher Price Little People toy house in the mail for his birthday from my MIL. It has a of couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a washer, a dryer, a tub and a toilet. YS was quite excited to play with it. So was my older son (OS). In fact OS took the lead during the pretend play with YS interjecting every once in a while. I enjoyed watching the kids. In fact I decided to pull out the video camera and record them playing together. OS had the Mommy and Daddy figurines get up. Then Mommy went to the gym and Daddy took a shower. Then Mommy went home and peed and then took a shower. Then Mommy made breakfast. The Mommy made breakfast again. Then Daddy made breakfast. The Mommy made breakfast. Then Mommy peed. I interrupted at this point. Did Daddy have to pee? OS firmly told me "No, just Mommy." Hmmm. He had Mommy complete a variety of activities, alternating each with her having to pee. Seriously, why was the Mommy peeing so much? I asked OS if perhaps the baby needed to pee. He again firmly stated "No, just Mommy."
When I shared this story with the Big Giraffe, he began laughing. Apparently I clock quite a number of repetitions in the bathroom. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone but me.
For the record, I'm not diabetic, and I do not have a UTI. I just drink a lot of water, particularly after working out in the morning, and I hate feeling like I have to pee even a little bit.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It may not be the trips to the park or the playtime in the backyard that your kids will re-enact when playing "Mommy"; it might be how often you pee.
Yesterday right after swim class, my older son (OS) stopped talking in the middle of a sentence. He was absolutely fixated on something with a small smile on his face. His brother caught his gaze and turned to stare himself. I couldn't figure out what was so fabulous that my children were captivated. Then I saw it. It was a Little Mermaid swim tote. OS broke his gaze to ask me in a small quiet voice if he might get one like it. I can always tell when OS really wants something because instead of loud whining or begging, he quietly and calmly will ask for something.
I have to say that two of the many things I dislike about the Disney Princesses are the pink and the frills. This bag however was, dare I say it, tasteful. It was a pretty shade of green and not frilly. It was just a little mesh bag that could hold a swim suit and a small towel. A beach towel would be pushing it. There was a picture of Ariel on the front of it.
I went home and did a Google search for it. I finally found it on the Disney store site. They had other swim totes in stock, but clicking on the Ariel bag kept generating an error. This reminded me of when I was desperate for a large cloth Eprit bag which was the hot item bookbag when I was in 5th grade. My mom took me to pick one out, and I treasured it. In fact, if I hadn't worn a hole in the bottom of it, I would still use it despite the fact that it would now be 22 years old and probably no longer cool. With this memory in mind and the knowledge that OS wanted this bag so much, I actually called the Disney toll free number. I was told that this bag was so popular that they were completely sold out. What?! I didn't think this has happened with a non-video game kids items since Cabbage Patch Kids.
I called several Disney stores and they too were completely sold out. Everyone had the Sleeping Beauty, Fairies and Disney Princess bags. Apparently those were duds. One store, an hour away from me, told me that they had two Ariel bags left. I asked if they could hold one for me, and the saleclerk said it was no problem. I gave her my name. and said I would pick it up this afternoon so less than 24 hours later. I'm sure you can guess where this story is going. I briefly considered calling the store and asking them to ship it to me, but OS was so excited for it, and I had an errand in that direction anyway (albeit still 45 minutes away). So have you guessed it? I drove all the way there and learned that they had sold the bag they had reserved for me. Nice. Now I had two disappointed kids and a half tank of consumed gas...not to mention the lost time. Both boys picked out the "duds" which every store including the one right by our house had. And no, they didn't offer me any sort of discount or anything. I already sent an email.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Before heading out to pick up a reserved item, call to confirm that it's really there.
A. Elliot's Lessons Learned on How to Buy a Wetsuit and Keep Your Dignity:
Hope your name isn't Alex Elliot because in that case you've already failed
This is very important: bring a friend with you.
It's probably not a good idea to bring your kids with you.
Bringing your children with you will first become a bad idea when there is a major road block which doubles the amount of time the trip takes from a half hour to a full hour.
Be prepared that when your children make a beeline for the sea creatures stuffed animals, that you may have to purchase one. This is the second time you will realize it was a bad idea to bring your kids with you
After waiting for a good 10 minutes for the salesperson to help you, your children will probably have manhandled the stuffed animal of their choice leaving you to wonder if you're going to have to purchase said stuffed animals
When you go to try on the wetsuits in the bathroom since there's no changing room be grateful that the bathroom is very large. Then be prepared to sweat a little when you put on the wetsuit
Be grateful that putting the wetsuit on is much easier than you thought and that you were a smaller size than you thought. You will need this silver lining when you think back later upon this day
When you realize you can't zip up the back of the wetsuit by yourself ask your 4.5 year old oops, your friend the owner of the store zip you up while the top of your underwear and the back of your bra are exposed.
If you bring your friend have her take your kids for a walk while you finish trying on the wetsuits. If not, you may have to firmly tell your children that there's no way you would chase after them in a store full of people wearing a wetsuit. Then you can bribe them by telling them if they behave that you will buy them the stuffed animals.
Check out your reflection and realize that this is how you would look as a whale, kind of like how Elmo in Sesame Street sometimes pretends to be a rabbit.
Hope that the stuffed animals don't land in the toilet. An unexpected purchase is one thing. A new purchase that was soaked in toilet water before it was even bought is not ideal, particularly when the toilet is a public one.
Pay for the wetsuit, two stuffed animals, wetsuit shampoo and bury this event in your mind. Oh wait, you don't have to because you brought a friend along so the experience was really not as bad as it could have been; like if you went by yourself with your two kids for example.
When I got home Friday morning after working out, there were a lot of hysterics coming from the boys' room. I'm not quite sure what happened, but it involved my older son (OS), our golden retriever, my younger son (YS) and a beluga whale. Alright, a stuffed beluga whale. I mean, a stuffed animal beluga whale. From the amount of racket, I would have believed that a real beluga whale was involved in whatever was happening. After calming everyone down, I decided to hold off on my shower until after breakfast. By the time everyone finished breakfast, I was hearing more coherent sobs explaining how OS had taken the whale from YS and given it to the dog who ran around with it. Despite the sobs, it was time to get the boys dressed to leave for preschool. The dog did get the last laugh look...I believe he may have had a triumphant expression on his face as the wailing started up again as we walked out the door.
When YS and I returned, I jumped in the shower while YS was playing with his trucks in the bathroom. When I finished the shower, I was surprised to find YS sitting on a potty chair! That's right, there was unauthorized potty training going on in our house! I didn't even know he knew what it was. We had just never bothered to put it back in the basement after my older son (OS) had graduated to a real toilet. I'm sensing a theme here about not rushing. For the rest of the morning, he insisted on trying the potty, instead of having us go to the grocery store or on any of our other planned errands.
This experience reminded me of why I'm a big fan of waiting until a child is three to be potty-trained. At three they'll potty train in a couple of days, and their bladders are large enough that you'll never have to abandon a shopping cart of frozen foods to explore the scary bathrooms in the bowels of the grocery store while hoping that the creepy teenage sales clerk who's lurking around will go back to playing with his...iPod. Not that parents of young children don't get to enjoy the memorable grocery store bathroom experience for other reasons, such as pregnancy or when shopping after a workout in which you have drunk an entire large sports bottle of water. Potty-training is even better if you wait until children are 8 because they can do their own laundry. So maybe I'm kidding about the last part.
After a brief period of diaper wearing to pickup OS from preschool, the unauthorized potty training continued for the rest of the day, and OS and I abandoned our plans for the park. Could potty training really be this easy? Was my child a genius? Well, of course I think he is, regardless of when he gets potty trained! Visions without diapers filled my mind. These images were shattered when I heard an ear piercing shriek followed by two boys crying. I won't go into the details, but let's just say that something happened involving two boys, mardi gras beads, hanging out under a kitchen table, and a major accident. By major accident, I don't mean that someone stubbed their toe. I was surprised that the dog wasn't there, but that was because he was outside. YS has shown no further interest in potty training since then. Phew. The dog on the other hand showed a lot of interest in hanging out under the table when I let him come back inside after I cleaned up the mess.
I am back to my plan of holding off on potty training until YS turns three or hires an attorney to convince me that he was ready. I may have seen a movement, but I have not yet seen any "motions."
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Kids do things on their own schedules.
As my younger son (YS) has gotten older, he and my older son (OS) play more and more together. They honestly seem to enjoy being together. For the most part anyway. Yesterday OS asked if he could play Hungry Hungry Hippos with his brother. This game has previously been banned while YS is awake because of my concern that he might probably swallow one of those tiny white marbles. Remember the paper clip incident? (What's most amazing about that incident is that the x-ray didn't find a variety of other items that he has swallowed.) My little goat.
Because I was going to be right there, and more importantly because YS hasn't tried to swallow anything since the paper clip incident to the best of my knowledge, I consented. The game was fabulous. YS was thrilled to play it, but of course he is too young to understand the game and follow the directions. OS wasn't bothered by this at all. One of his favorite ways to interact with his brother is by being super bossy. He took great delight in repeatedly telling YS what to do. I felt a sense of pride. I remembered other moms saying that you look at your kids playing together and think "I created this." I started to get all warm and fuzzy inside. Visions of the Big Giraffe and me snuggled together while my kids played board game in our cozy living room with our imaginary fireplace danced through my head. Then the boys started to pelt each other with the hippo food. Those little white balls were flying everywhere, and there was a lot of screaming and crying. Guess what flashed into my mind? "I created this".
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you wanna win the game you've gotta take good aim and get the most marbles with your hippo.
Coming soon to a store in Massachusetts: Adventures in trying on a wetsuit starring yours truly. That's right. I will be "diving" into this whole new world where apparently I need Pam and Body Glide. Yes, that would be Pam like the cooking spray Pam and yes that would be after I purchase the wetsuit. That would also be for greasing up to help ease on the wet suit. Fun. I'm sure trying it on dry will be quite the adventure. Unlike Kami, I will not be posting pictures of myself in my new outfit. Thankfully my spinning instructor warned me that one of the brands is called Orca so that I won't get offended and think that someone is telling me I needed a whale size suit. According to this hilarious book I'm reading called Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams, having a triathlon wet suit will make me feel like I have super hero powers. I wonder if I wear it to the grocery store with my kids if they'll listen better...
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: An orca suit is not just for whales.
When I first had my older son (OS), I could not imagine giving away one single item of his. What if I regretted it? What if I needed it later? When I worked at our moms group yard sale, it almost pained me to see the high chairs, strollers, and Pack N Plays donated. How could people part with these items? I'm sure those of you with older kids are laughing about that one.
The Big Giraffe and I have decided to move! Yes, we're really excited about it. There's a catch though. After meeting with our financial planner, we're probably going to wait another year to year and a half. Probably. We're meeting with a realtor tomorrow evening to find out where the market challenges have dropped our home value and to get an early idea of what work we need to do before putting our house on the market. The fact of the matter is a year will go by pretty quickly.
Our annual moms yard sale is also later this month. I went into our basement a few nights ago to try to see it through a realtor's eyes and, after fleeing in horror, I came to a rather shocking realization: I'm no longer attached to baby items. In fact, the yard sale can't come quickly enough. I am excited to casually donate my high chair, baby toys, etc. I decided to take a stab at selling some of them and have been amazed by the response. Anything that doesn't sell is going to the yard sale.
It doesn't take a background in rocket science for me to realize that I had been hanging onto these items because I wasn't ready to say that I was done having babies. Sometime between then and my current look at the basement, it became alright to let them go. Yes, I know getting rid of things is a sure fire way to get pregnant again. I already checked my birth control prescription. Phew!
As a prospective buyer was checking out the high chair today, I noticed that the white plastic had started to yellow in spots. This high chair is only just about 5 years old, and I've kept it very clean. In fact, it was less used than most of my baby gear, because my younger son (YS) went straight to a booster chair, so he never used the high chair. I was a little surprised by how quickly it had begun to age. Then I had another realization. If I didn't get rid of it now, it would be a guaranteed fight with my future daughters-in-law.
I imagine that the conversation would go something like this:
Alex Elliot (AE): I've saved this high chair for all these years for my grandchildren. Future Daughter-in-law (FDIL): It looks like it's aged a little. Why is it yellow? It was white in the pictures with my husband AE: (defensive) It's perfectly fine (and to me it would be!). FDIL: What year was that plastic made? I remember reading in a history book that there were many issues with plastic when we were born. AE: That was BPAs, and I don't remember any high chair trays being recalled. FDIL: All the same, though our plastic regulations are much better now. It's been 30 years after all. I just don't want my baby actually eating off of old, degrading plastic. Seriously a high chair tray is the baby's plate. That's just gross not to mention dangerous.* Maybe we can take and keep a picture of it. AE: Fine. (rushing out of the room to call the Big Giraffe). But I saved it all these years for you!!!
Alright maybe I saved it all these years for me. That would be hard to admit though.
*If this is YS's wife, she can point out that he never even used the high chair in which case I will pretend I don't hear her.
Wow! I'm exhausted from this fight. May all my fights with my FDILs be this easy to avoid! Off to tell the Big Giraffe how I'm the best FMIL ever! Alright, at least let me have this moment! A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Deal with baggage and other gear before it poisons future relationships.
Back in the fall, we all took a trip to the aquarium with my mother in law. She bought my older son (OS) a pink mermaid doll at his request. It looks just like a Groovy Girl doll with a tail. He liked it, but other toys definitely took priority. Every once in a while the mermaid would make an appearance and both boys would play with her. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly my younger son (YS) was playing more and more with her. I think it may have started when he wanted to play with OS's favorite toy which is a ratty Groovy Girl doll. Not wanting to part with her, I think he may have given YS the mermaid as a temporary distraction. It was effective, but it proved not to be so temporary. Around the same time, the boys also watched the Little Mermaid at a friend's house. They began to request it at home. Whether it was a single event or a combination of events, one thing is for sure: YS is attached to the pink mermaid. He always wants the pink mermaid.
Of course you more experienced parents may know where this one is going. Now OS is claiming ownership on the mermaid. I know he really has no interest in it except to exert his claim over it. Needless to say, this has caused enough tears from each boy to float a mermaid, although OS now seems to understand the mermaid is YS's special toy. He gained understanding from my promise to take them to the aquarium (which should be a treat in itself) to buy him a new mermaid. Not surprisingly OS wasn't happy about this last part. He wants the original mermaid, which technically was of course his. The mermaid that now has a ripped tail and is covered in who knows. The mermaid that has already had numerous baths in the washing machine and needs another one.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It's never too late to stake ownership on a toy.
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of getting together with two of my college friends. We try to get together a couple times a year, but like everything else it's much easier said than done. Somewhere amongst stories of childbirth, kids, husbands, and work, our conversation stumbled onto the subject of storage. I think it came up when discussing how hard it is to keep your house clean with little kids. (This is not to be confused with the conversation I later had with Linda's husband during which I mentioned that our room looks like a disaster zone and he triumphantly turned to Linda and said that none of their good friends have a neat bedroom.) When it did come up, we all immediately jumped in to share our woes regarding where to stuff our husband's giant gray winter coat that takes up more room than any three normal coats. Alright that last part was just me, but my friends also had coat storage issues.
Linda happen to casually mention that she gives thanks to the dry cleaner. I looked at her quizzically. She explained that she takes the coats to the dry cleaner when it gets warm and then picks them up when she needs them in the fall. She even described how people forget about things at the dry cleaner for a long time and then remember them eons later. (Sadly, I can relate.) What a fantastic idea! I could get the giant coat clean and get rid of it store it at the same time! I wouldn't have to worry about where to put any of our coats. Immediately a reality check set in: I must really be at a different place in life to get excited about dry cleaners.
The discussion moved to other subjects, but sometime during dessert I took us back to the cleaners because I just couldn't believe how clever Linda was. Clever she still is, but it turns out this is an actual program offered by many dry cleaners. At least at Linda's cleaners, it doesn't cost anything extra, so it's essentially the same thing as cleaning and forgetting to pick clothes up except that you're guaranteed they won't throw them out!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Your dry cleaner may offer storage for your winter coats.
When I told my kids to clean up their toys today, I was expecting them to put their toys away as in where they belonged as in the toy bin or on the shelves. For example, I assumed that the refrigerator magnets would be put away on...well, the refrigerator. Call me crazy for thinking that. I mean that's where they've been for the past two years. You can imagine my surprise when I happened to notice this evening that my shoes were neatly filled with the refrigerator magnets. In addition to developing a sense of responsibility regarding taking care of their toys, at least one of my boys is apparently developing a sense of humor. They certainly have sole. I am just glad I didn't put my foot down on this issue. I would have felt like a real heel. Of course, I did confiscate the offending magnets, so the next time they go looking for them, the shoe will be on the other foot.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Ambiguous direction to children leads to unambiguously undesirable results.
Yes I noticed you looking at my boys and me as you were registering I also just happened to catch the look of horror on your faces as you watched my boys. The look that you exchanged with your partner did not escape my attention.
I just want to assure you that I was once in your position. I remember being pregnant and imagining what my kids would be like as my husband and I registered at Babies R Us. I pictured how sweet they would look in the different cute outfits. I pictured how cozy they would be when snuggled into their new strollers. I pictured them gurgling happily in their new carseat. I did not picture them taking apart the stroller display.
You can take solace in the fact that your child will probably not get into the stroller display. Now that you have now been warned, I am confident you will make sure of it. They will find something that you too have not even imagined.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Prospective parents have no idea what they are getting into.
Dear Babies R Us Employee,
I appreciate the time you took to ask if I had any questions about the strollers. I am concerned about an assumption you made. I know that I have found myself as an adult realizing that I had "missed a step" growing up like not knowing that Greek yogurt existed. You and I are not alone in this. I would like to share a little lesson I tell my boys that I think you would find very comforting. Boys can like pink. I know it's shocking. You better brace yourself for the next part: girls can look blue. Finally this one, some boys don't like blue and some girls don't like pink. You can see now why my younger son had no interest in sitting in the blue stroller you suggested but instead wanted to sit in the identical pink stroller you didn't realize you were blocking.
Wijvenweek / Household: An Ode to My Washing Machine
Wijvenweek post #3. Today's post is about the household, and the biggest household event this week related to my washing machine. Thus, this ode...
I bought you when I was still single. You were cheap and people (specifically those who wrote reviews and product ratings) spoke highly of you. I felt like you were a good deal. I later found out that your relationships typically had a life expectancy of only two years. You were willing to stay with me for longer.
I moved to MA with you, and you continued to serve me well. We had one blow-up in which you trashed a pillow and strewed what looked like feathers from five dozen plucked geese across my basement, but that was our only real fight. Even then, when I brought a professional in to mediate and told him that you had been manufactured by a company that rhymes with "Me E," he was blown away that we had stayed together for so long. That appliance repair man was the one who told me that you had already outlived your life expectancy. My cousin who used to work for the "E" confirmed that.
I have to admit I have been waiting for your time to come. You have demanded a lot of me in terms of energy and water. I have been eyeing a hot little front loading number that is willing to do everything for me that you have done, but is a little "lower maintenance." But you kept chugging right along. In the past couple months you started to moaning and groaning, like our family's dirty laundry was becoming too much for you to handle. We really thought your brother would be the first to go, though. Not only was the dryer also griping whenever it was asked to perform, but it was kind of acting like a wet blanket, or perhaps it was just leaving us with wet blankets, as it became less and less effective at actually drying.
But you wanted to be first, and you wanted to go out with a big bang so I would always remember you. You did. Monday my older son (OS) had pink eye and my younger son (YS) ended up in the ER for swallowing a paper clip. Tuesday morning I threw in a load of laundry, added the soap, and pressed start. You took your last drink of water from me, but then decided to end our relationship. You wouldn't even stay with me for one last spin. Just before the spin cycle you stopped, holding water and wet clothes. I was sad. I felt like I needed to breathe into a bag. Then I spent the afternoon on the phone looking for a replacement. That evening, I went out and invited your replacement into my life.
I thought things had ended on your terms. I thought you had what you want. But you were unwilling to get out of the way for your replacement. When the delivery men told me that they didn't think they would be able to get you out of the house, I wanted to breathe in a paper bag again. Fortunately you relented, and the delivery men were able to get you out of the house.
As excited as I am to have the new washing machine in my life, it was not easy to put your replacement on a pedestal. Why? Well, because the delivery men brought the wrong pedestals. In the end, it did require a second visit, but the new machines are resting comfortably. Well, not so much resting, as I have already put them to work for me.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: A lot of effort is involved in dumping one appliance and picking up another one, but it is well worth the effort.
Our dog Gandalf is not allowed to run in the yard by himself until he is healed from his surgery. Our vet also warned us that he would be "backed up" for a few days after the surgery. The Big Giraffe was happy to report Gandalf's first "delivery" yesterday, but we were not convinced that he was all clear. The Big Giraffe even did a couple extra laps around the yard with Gandalf this morning in the hopes that there would be more to follow. In the end, he gave up, leaving the boys (canine and human), the girls (feline only), and me to our Thursday routine.
Thursdays tend to be our days to catch up around the house. Fun times over at the Giraffe household! I started upstairs by cleaning the bathroom, even putting out a newly cleaned bathmat. Then I undertook the role of Sherlock Holmes in order to solve the mystery of my missing lap suit. I like to call the suit "Grimace" because with it's eggplant purple in color, so I feel like Grimace from McDonald's when I wear it. My suspects were two small boys who are constantly taking things out of my gym bag no matter where I hide it. I searched the house high and low for Grimace, but it was nowhere to be find. The boys were working on puzzles up in their room. I decided to go check in the basement to see if Grimace had been caught in the dirty laundry pile.
I wasn't down there for more than a few minutes. I remember hearing the toilet lid upstairs fall twice and calling up and asking my older son (OS) if everything was alright. He said it was, so I proceeded to make lunch for the boys. When I went upstairs and picked up my younger son (YS), his clothes felt slightly damp to me. I asked OS if he was playing in the sink. He said no. I had just washed my hands so I figured I must not have dried them all the way, and didn't think any further about YS's clothes. I should have.
After lunch we went upstairs for quiet time, and I saw a giant wet spot on OS's bed. I asked him the obvious question: did he have an accident. He said it was water. Oh, alright. What water? Water from the sink? Silly, mommy. Of course it wasn't water from the sink, he told me. Sigh of relief. It was water from the toilet! Trying not to lose it, I asked the obvious question in a strangled I'm trying not to yell at the top of my lungs voice. How did it get there? I figured they used a cup or their hands. It was worse than I thought. After careful cross-examination, I learned that they had bathed OS's cloth doll in the toilet. While I'm pretty sure that the toilet water was clean, OS did mention that he had also used the toilet.
I am baffled why they did this. We have a stool in the downstairs bathroom so that they can fill the sink and bathe their toys. OS does this at least once a day. There was also a stool in the bathroom sink upstairs that they could have used. OS is 4.5 and has been potty trained for a year. He knows what goes in a toilet.
Of course the worst was still yet to come. When asked, OS told me he didn't know what happened to the doll. I was in complete disbelief at this point. How hard is it to find a sopping wet doll? I was worried that she was buried under a couch cushion. We finally found her on the dining room bench. She had been sitting next to OS during lunch! Let's not dwell on that one too much or I may see my dinner again.
I confiscated the doll and we all went back upstairs to clean the bathroom. Yes, the one which I had just cleaned earlier that morning. It looked like a monsoon hit! Even the shower was wet with toilet water. The not yet used bathmat was sopping wet.
After bringing order to the chaos, I went back downstairs to try not to hyperventilate. That's when I got hit with the second surprise. Gandalf had apparently cleared the rest of his backlog...right in the middle of the hallway.
As for OS, I told him he wasn't allowed to use the upstairs bathroom for the rest of the day. It was soaked from both the monsoon and the post-monsoon clean-up. I believe he thought it was a punishment, which is not what I had intended. It actually had way more of an effect than taking away the dolls and other toilet bathing accoutrements that I found.
The Big Giraffe brought me home dinner.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It never rains, but it pours...toilet water.
Like many new parents, I underestimated how hard it would be to put together baby equipment. If you have kids, I'm guessing you have an inkling of what I'm talking about. At first I took the directions at face value. A few hours and many swear words later, the baby equipment was in worse shape than when I had taken it out of the box disassembled. Upon further inspection with a magnifying glass and a miner's helmet with light, I realized that what I had thought were merely ink smudges were in fact microscopic illustrations of a team of twelve people whose help I would need to put together the baby equipment. I became better at analyzing every inch of the directions and assuming nothing because you know what they say about what happens when you assume.
In time I realized that you had to pay attention to the logo on the part in the illustration so you could see which way the piece was supposed to be facing because in an effort to perhaps be more eco-friendly or to pay the writers less, the companies must have figured that writing out, "place side with logo up" or whatnot was too much. Same thing to figure out at what angles the pieces should be placed. I figure when I go back to vet school some day I can try and finagle this useful skill into an improved ability at reading x-rays.
I didn't realize that this movement to cut out words from the directions had carried over into non-baby items. Guess those unions are really working hard. A couple months ago, I realized that the people in my spinning class were not merely looking at their watches every two minutes to see when this painful, exhausting, sweat hungry class would be ending like I was. It turns out they were wearing heart rate monitors. Who knew? Caving into peer pressure, and also after reading in my triathlon book that heart rate monitors were a really good idea, I bought one. It's one of the best purchases I made. That's for another post though. All I can say is if you work out or want to start working out, you should definitely get one. The ones that are built into exercise equipment are just not the same.
My new heart rate monitor arrived in the mail and like the geek I am, I read the manual from cover to cover. (Stop chortling, Big Giraffe. You aren't the only geek in this house!) It came in three pieces. A flat plastic piece that was the chest transmitter that attached to a stretchy band allowing you to wear it around your chest so it could measure your heart rate, and a watch where you could read the data, tell the time, see how many calories, and see your target heart range. I knew every feature and if I couldn't access it directly, I could tell you where to find it in the manual. I loved the monitor for the first two weeks that I used it. I finally figured out why I wasn't losing weight when I was just swimming - my heart rate was too low as was, not surprisingly, the number of calories burned. Then a really funny thing started happening. The transmitter band wouldn't stay put. It kept coming apart. Thinking perhaps it was too tight, I loosened it. No luck. Then I tried the opposite and tightened it. It shot off like a sling shot while I was working out. Nice. No matter what I did, it just wouldn't stay put. My friend told me to wear it under my sports bra. I did. The band still came undone. At least the transmitter itself stayed put thanks to my bra, a little help from "the girls", and some not so surreptitious adjustments made while swimming by sticking my hand down the chest of my swimsuit. I still loved my monitor, but after realizing that I was one band adjustment away from being kicked out of the pool for obscene acts, I figured that I just couldn't swim with it anymore.
I happened to mention it to one of the trainers on Tuesday. She insisted on grabbing a band from her office and showing me how to put the pieces together. She said the most common mistake people make is to latch it on backwards. I reminded her I had read the manual. I should have saved my breath for exercise. It turns out I was latching it on backwards. You're supposed take the chest transmitter piece with logo side up, and stick the tab from strap into it on the face side not from behind like I was doing. Yes, you can go ahead and make fun of me. I'd like to state for the record that I paused from writing this to check out the directions on-line. They do not specify this. The worst part was I had even commented to the Big Giraffe that for $100, I would expect not to have two rubber "nubbies" poking out of my shirt. Guess that should have been a clue. They aren't supposed to be there! I'm loving swimming with my monitor and have upped both my heart rate and my calories burned. Now I just have to go back to reading instructions more carefully. Hey these are my radiology skills we're talking about!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: When it comes to electronics, ask a teenager.
*Excuse the terrible picture quality; I can't find my camera so I used my cell phone.
In case none of you have noticed, parenting is really hard work. I'm not talking about the whining, the temper tantrums, the dirty diapers or throwing up (you or them). I'm also not talking about the mounds of clothes, the meals, or the cleaning. I'm talking about the emotional aspects.
It's always been important to me that my boys are exposed to both so called boy toys as well as so called girl toys. In fact, if there's fighting going on between my boys, I can almost guarantee that it's over a My Little Pony or a Groovy Girl. My boys love playing with them, although I have to admit that they play differently with these alleged girl toys than I did with my ponies and dolls. For instance, the latest thing has been to put the ponies on our big Lightening McQueen car and let them go for an out of control joy ride throughout the kitchen. This usually seems to occur when I'm trying to cook dinner. The ponies also enjoy taking swim lessons and baths in the bathroom sink. However, the more traditional routines that I used to enjoy such as feeding the dolls, changing their clothes, and putting them to bed don't seem to be part of their play. In fact the dolls are almost always naked. (It's not a big deal; Groovy Girls are not anatomically correct.)
We've co-existed nicely with these allegedly female toys. Fairly recently though, my older son (OS) has gotten into Disney Princesses. No, he hasn't gotten into watching the movies because the only princess movie that he has seen is The Little Mermaid which despite owning, he never wants to watch. I believe his princess interest began when a friend had a princess birthday cake. She's very into princesses. As a result, he picked a princess birthday cake for me. Now both of my boys love playing with the princess figurines that came on my cake. Fortunately those figurines stay at home, or at least they are supposed to.
Last week, the boys and I went to a daytime moms group meeting. While I was taking off my younger son's (YS) coat and boots, OS apparently went into the living room and announced to a couple of moms that he was made from his daddy's sperm and his mommy's egg. He proceeded to tell them that he grew in my uterus, then the doctor cut a hole in it and pulled him out, and then he was born. Of course I found this out about an hour later. The mom who told me about it complimented OS on his precociousness. I felt a sense of pride. OS is down with the birds and the bees.
I am embarrassed to admit I was thrown for a loop, when OS whipped the princess dolls out of his pants pocket. He then offered a lengthy description of each princess. Once we all got home, I reminded OS that we don't bring our toys into other people's houses because we risk losing them. OS kept talking about how he wanted to take the princesses to preschool. Finally, in a moment of not so great judgment, I told him he couldn't because his friends might tease him. As soon as I said it, I wanted to clamp my hand over my mouth. I don't want my son to think that I think there's something wrong with his interests. I don't want him to think that he can't talk to me about his interests. Most importantly, I don't want him to think there's something wrong with his interests. At the same time, there was a part of me that felt that potential teasing is just as real as the birds and the bees.
Today the Big Giraffe was halfway out the door when OS called to him to come back. BG had a little McDonald's teddy bear from our Chicago trip in the outside mesh pocket of his backpack. OS told BG that he needed to leave the bear at home so that his friends wouldn't tease him at work. I'm not exaggerating (by much) when I say that I felt like my heart stopped. I certainly did feel like the world's worst mother. The Big Giraffe looked horrified. Even YS looked concerned. I had to fight back tears as I explained to OS that it was important that he have the interests that he wanted and that he didn't have to pretend to be someone that he wasn't. I would always love him no matter what. Except that he's 4 so there's no way he could comprehend even a fraction of what I said. It's just like anything else where my kids remember something really random, like that I raised a caterpillar in second grade, and then something I don't want them to remember like saying their friends will tease them. I spent the rest of the day being overly interested in discussing princesses. I think even OS thought it was a bit much. Where's my instruction manual?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Little pitchers have bigs ears...and big memories...and big mouths.
For those of us who didn't get an instruction manual with our babies and for whom parenting hasn't always gone as planned. On a more serious note this blog is about supporting a woman's ability to make her own choices about parenting including the choice, for whatever reason, to bottle feed her babies formula.