Sunday, April 29, 2012

Depending on the kindness of strangers

I wasn't quite in the same situation as Blanche in "A Streetcar named Desire" (feel free to read the play if you are unfamiliar, but basically she had a mental breakdown), but I was in an uncomfortable situation yesterday morning, and two very nice people helped me out.

On my way home from Jazzercise, I hit a curb and popped my driver's side front tire. Yep, popped it. You can see the inch and a half hole in the sidewall and everything. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it big, and that includes getting a flat tire. I was only about a mile or so from home, and after a quick thought of just driving on the flat, I thought better of it and pulled over to change it out.

Normally, I would call Steve and have him talk me through such a situation (or have him come help me), but with my new "No Facebook, Twitter, etc" lifestyle, I don't use my cell phone as much, and I forgot it at home. So I was on my own.

I took the stroller out of the trunk and found the spare and tools to go with it. I took the jack out, and figured out where to put it on the frame so the car would not fall on me in the middle of the tire change. It took me a minute to figure that out, but luckily there were pictures on the jack. I was feeling fairly confident when my kind strangers pulled up.

I think the stroller standing up next to the car might have made me look like a damsel in distress. I had not intended that. I just didn't know where to put it while I was trying to jack up the car. It was pretty cold out, and I just wanted to get done quickly.

Jose and Stephanie were very kind. Neither of them asked me what I did to pop my tire so well, and even after I told them, they didn't judge me. They made nice conversation as Jose made quick work of changing the tire. He did double check my jack placement and confirmed that I had it in the right place (score!). He also knew how to work the locking lug nut, which, I think if I had gotten that far by myself, would have stumped me.

After Jose had finished, I hugged them both and embarrassingly offered them the little cash I had for helping. Jose laughed at me and said he did not do this for money. They got back in their Envoy and drove away.

As I drove home, I thought about just how cool it is that there are people out there who still stop to help change a tire and don't expect anything in return. I'm honestly a little sad that chances are I will never seem them again. They were really nice, good people, and who couldn't do with a few more nice, good people in their lives?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A funny diaper story and a trip to the zoo

Are you sick of my daily posts yet? Now that I'm giving up Facebook and such, I need an outlet for my fun life stories and pictures. And I don't want to wait an entire week to post. I'll probably throw a few of these photos on Facebook just for fun, but the real stories are here, on the blog.

Plus, I'm really enjoying writing again.

First up, the diaper story. Steve and I have teased Jack about changing Reid's diapers since before Reid was born. And Jack has always said he doesn't want to change any, especially the poopie ones. That started to change in the last week. Jack started to tell me he wanted to help. He'd even come over and watch while I changed Reid's diaper. Then one day, he helped take off Reid's pants and unsnap his onesie. I thought this was pretty cool. Maybe I could teach Jack how to change Reid's diapers, and I could have a few minutes to myself. Ha.

Then it happened. I walked away from Jack and Reid playing to put away a toy or put a dish in the sink, and Jack would undo Reid's clothes and announce that there is a "blue line". I thought Pampers was genius for putting the line on diapers that turns blue when they are wet. But now that Jack knows the color blue and knows that it means a wet diaper, it is an early warning signal for imminent danger. See, Jack can take off Reid's clothes, and he can take off the dirty diaper. But that's where he stops. He then yells and laughs until I come running and finish the change. Oh, he does bring the new diaper and a wipe, he just doesn't do anything with them.

So here's the funny story from today. We were getting ready to go to the zoo. I was showered and dressed. Reid was dressed. Jack was half-naked. I gave Jack the time notice that we would be leaving in 20 minutes. I reminded him that he needed to be wearing underwear, pants and a long-sleeved shirt to go with us to the zoo. Jack went upstairs to get dressed. Reid played on his playmat on the floor in the dining room. I ran outside to check in with the landscapers preparing our lawn for the swingset we just purchased from our neighbors. I was outside for 5 minutes. I came back in. Reid was naked from the waist down. Jack was completely naked. There was pee all over the playmat and the carpet. And yes, Jack was screaming and laughing hysterically. Don't worry, it was Reid who peed. Reid was also laughing.

Some moms have to worry about their children hurting one another or themselves if they leave the room. I have to worry about pee. I do realize I have the better end of the deal. That doesn't make cleaning up pee any more fun.

We did make it to the zoo today. The weather forecast called for high 50s, almost 60. So I thought it would be a good day for our first trip to the zoo. I also didn't have anything else for us to do today, and Steve was still in St. Louis. It didn't feel like high 50s at the zoo, but we had a good time anyway, all bundled in blankets and coats.

We bought a membership to the Brookfield Zoo this year. I think this is a must-have for stay-at-home-moms. We have only been once, but I already recognize the benefits even if we don't go again (but we will definitely be going again!). First, I spent all of $3 at the zoo today (if you don't count what we paid for the membership). The only thing I paid for was our ride on the carousel. We packed a lunch, which Jack loves to do anyway. The butterfly exhibit isn't open yet, so we passed that up. And our membership includes entrance to the Family Zoo, which is where we spent most of our time. It's inside and it's hands-on. Fun and Fun. To top it all off, I did not feel pressured to see as many animals as we could since I knew I could come back next week and it won't cost me another $40. Win. We only stayed as long as our energy allowed, which was about 2 hours.

On our way home, we stopped off to visit Aunt Connie at work. We got to see the new ambulances she was working on as well as a tour of the headquarters building, including the station that she manages. Jack was very intrigued by the bunkbeds. He also loved climbing in and out of the ambulances. He would have done that all afternoon if we had let him. It was really neat to see my "little" sister at work. She loves her job, and it shows when you see her doing it.

Alright, I have so much more I could write about, but I need to get to bed. Perhaps there will be more tomorrow :) Afterall, I also went to my first school Open House and got a tour from Jack. But that's a story for later.

Riding the Carousel


Checking out the lions

Watering the plants

Visiting Aunt Connie

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No technology update

I didn't want to leave you hanging as to how I did today. I did it! I didn't check Facebook, Twitter, email, or anything social media related until 8 p.m. tonight. And as you can see, I am done before 8:30! I did check text messages and the weather on my phone. But I don't think that counts as mental escapes.

So what do I think of this experience, you ask? I think it was awesome! I played with the boys in our basement this afternoon (after rest) and I got to hear Jack tell me all kinds of "cool stories". He has such a great imagination. He also wanted to play dress-up and search the basement for hidden passages. We did that, and it was as fun as it sounds.

No, it wasn't easy. While I was making lunch, I was very tempted to check the phone and the computer. I resisted though! I didn't know what I was going to look for, so that helped me remain true to the cause. Luckily, I did not have the phone or a computer while we played in the basement, so that made it much easier.

Yes, I will be continuing my plan tomorrow. Tomorrow might be a little more difficult. Jack doesn't have preschool and we don't have any plans with anyone else. I think we might try to go to the zoo if the weather is warm enough. I figure a good zoo visit will keep us all busy!

Oh, and a nice bi-product of my little test today - a cleaner house. While Jack was at school, Reid and I vacuumed my bedroom and got some laundry in. Hopefully this will continue too!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Good Mom, Bad Mom and other random thoughts

Today was a typical Tuesday at our house. No preschool for Jack. Steve worked (today, he left for St. Louis for a few days). I took the boys with me to Jazzercise class. We went to the library afterwards. We played. We ate lunch. We attempted to nap during rest time. We played some more. We watched TV. We ate dinner. I put Reid to bed. I bathed Jack and put him to bed.

And throughout all of this, I check my phone and the computer almost compulsively.

Tonight while I was bathing Jack, I realized what a problem I have with checking Facebook, email, Twitter, Pinterest, news websites, and whatever other social interaction via technology I can find. No, I wasn't using the technology while Jack was in the bath. Instead, I was talking with Jack. Just me and him. No distractions. It was probably the first time all day I wasn't thinking about anything else but what he and I were doing and talking about (we were talking about our favorite parts of the day and how the bath cup works). I really enjoyed the moment, and I felt calm and relaxed. That's when I realized what a problem I have.

See, during the day, I feel rushed and anxious. I'm always thinking about the next thing I should be doing. This is ironic since I really don't have anything I HAVE to do other than feed and care for my children. Yet, I stress about what to make for lunch, getting to the library, throwing a load of laundry in. It's all pretty silly. What I should be worried focused on is the people I am with and the moment I am in. Cliche, I know, but true.

So tomorrow, I am going back to something I tried to do about a month or so ago. I'm going to limit my Facebook/email/Twitter/et al usage to 30 minutes a day, and I'm going to wait until the boys are in bed to do it. Please send positive thoughts my way. I think this is going to be hard. I'm also going to try to find other ways to relax my brain. I think I use the technology as a momentary escape from whatever I am doing, and it has gotten out of control. So when I need a moment to myself, I think I'm going to try closing my eyes and mediating instead. Again, this is going to be hard.

What does that have to do with the headline on this post? Well, that's one of the random thoughts. On to the Good Mom, Bad Mom stories.

Over the weekend, I think it was Saturday, Jack damaged a library book during rest time. I couldn't lay with him to help him calm himself (I was taking care of Reid at that moment). The poor book suffered an almost completely ripped page and a broken spine. In the heat of the moment, I told Jack he would have to pay for it with his piggy bank money. Many tears ensued. But I also told him he would have to talk to the librarian when we took the book back and that he could only check out 1 book this week so he could show me he could take care of library books.

Over the next fews days, we talked about the library book a little. Jack was getting very nervous about having to tell the librarian what happened, and he was even more nervous about having to do it by himself. I reassured him that he wasn't going to do this alone. We decided I would tell the librarian what happened and he would apologize. He was still a little scared. I spent lots of conversations reassuring him that it would be okay (there are no police at the library arresting people for breaking books) and that I would be right there with him.

Today was library day. We went to the desk, and I told the librarian about the damaged book. She thinks they "might be able to mend it". Without any prompting, Jack apologized for breaking the book and explained that it was an accident. The librarian looked him right in the eye and told him not to worry, that accidents happen. She also told him his was a sweetheart for apologizing. As she walked away, Jack turned to me and told me how he had worried that this would be scary, but that it wasn't that bad at all. I think my son learned the power of taking responsibility for his actions today. And he's only 4.

That was my good mom moment. Here's the bad mom.

Jack has battled rest time for at least the last year (if not since he was two). So yesterday after soccer, I decided to let him watch a television show while I got Reid down, and then Jack and I were going to rest for 30 minutes. He felt asleep after 20 and slept for 2 hours. Today, I decided to use the same tactic. I would put Reid down for a nap (he goes to sleep like a champ, by the way) and let Jack watch a "Jack show" for 30 minutes and then we would rest for 30 minutes. We did this. He did not fall asleep even though he was yawning and quiet the entire time. Bummer. So we came downstairs and he asked for another "Jack show". I figured what the heck, he's pretty tired, maybe he'll rest a little more and then we can play. Jack watched television and I started cleaning. An hour goes by, I decide to invite Jack to help me sweep and mop the floors, a chore he loves to do. He says he wants to help, right after "Martha" is over. Okay, I say. Another 30 minutes goes by and "Cat in the Hat" starts. I explain that I'm only sweeping and mopping today, he's going to miss his chance. He tells me he help "next day when you do it". The stinker knows I will have to clean again. In the end, my floors and kitchen are clean. Jack watched 2 hours of television. We went outside to play when Reid woke up. I still have mom guilt over the long television time today (especially since that wasn't the end; I had to make dinner too!).

Okay, so I alluded earlier to favorite parts of the day with Jack. My favorite part of the day: watching Jack figure out how to get his wagon up the steps in front of our house. He found rocks from our landscaping to put under the back tires. With the front tires already up on the next step, this lifted the back tires off of the ground enough for him to be able to pull the wagon completely on to the step. What a little engineer! Jack's favorite part of the day: our plan for a jammie walk in the wagon. Unfortunately, Reid fell asleep before we could do. I promised him that we will go tomorrow, even if we have to take a sleeping Reid.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Loving Life

This last week has been filled with fun for all of us.  Jack had a pajama party at school. Steve got to see wild turkeys in Minnesota (who knew?). Reid and I got have brunch at Burnt Toast. I should really start looking for fun in places other than food :).

Last Sunday, Grandma Sue and Pepere came out for a visit. We are in the process of setting up a swing set we bought from our neighbors, so our back yard has a pile of swing set pieces, including a slide. After the rains, the slide had become a pool. Yep, Grandma Sue and Jack had fun playing in the "slide pool". Luckily it was warm enough outside. Jack would put on his swim suit to play outside in the middle of a snow storm if we let him!


Grandma Sue and Pepere's visit also gave Steve and me a chance to hit the outlet mall just the two of us. In about an hour, we were able to buy Steve some new clothes and make a stop at Trader Joe's for a few things for dinner. We both marveled at the experience of shopping without anyone crying or asking for his own cart. We also found it much faster to shop without the kids :).

On Wednesday, Jack had a pajama party at school. He loved being in his jammies so much, he stayed in them the entire day! And he's asked for a pajama party every night since. (We did relent on Friday night, but more on that in a minute). This picture is from about 4 in the afternoon.


I feel so lucky to be able to stay home right now with my family. And I definitely feel the benefit when Steve has to travel. It's a little rough not having any adult interactions when he is gone, but it's so nice to not have to worry about anything but the boys and the house during that time. This week's trip was the first in several weeks, so even though it was only one night, we definitely all missed him. Jack decided he wanted to surprise Daddy with cookies when he got home. So on Wednesday afternoon, we baked a batch of cookies for Daddy. We had lots of fun making Funfetti cookies from the cake mix. My mom has been making cookies this way for years, and I tried this a month or so ago without as much success. However, Jack and I figured out the trick this time. You have to make little balls of dough and then squish them down with your hands. Not only does this make for a better cookie, it also makes for way more fun!


Daddy definitely enjoyed his cookie surprise (and Jack and I loved taste-testing!). And since Grandma always makes us cookies, we decided to surprise her with some the next day. We drove out to Wheeling to make a surprise visit to the Villa where we knew Grandma Sue and her friends had been working very hard lately. I think the surprise was a hit.


We didn't stay long though, since they had work to do. We left and headed over to Nibbles Play Cafe for some fun and lunch. Even Reid got to play there since they have a great little baby area. I find I love watching Jack play and interact with other kids. He made a little friend at Nibbles, and they played in the puppet show theater and the kitchen for quite a while.

I recently joined a Mom's group through We've been to a couple of playdates, and we're all making new friends, which is definitely fun. We also found an amazing park that's pretty close to our house, closer than the other park we really liked. On Friday, while Jack was at school and Steve was working, Reid and I went to brunch with the Mom's group. It was a pretty big turnout with about 7 or so moms and several kids there. And this time, I actually got to talk to people! I love hearing people's stories. I really miss my friends from Wheeling: Sandra, Cindy, Erin, Jen, Meredith, Christine, Wendy, and so many more. So this brunch gave me a little feeling of being with them even though they weren't there. I think I'll invite the WHS ladies out this summer for something similar!

So I alluded to the Friday night pajama party earlier. Here's the details. Jack had been asking for a pajama party all afternoon (as well as the days before!), and he also asked for a fire in the fireplace. Since it was a little chilly, we decided that would be kind of nice. So, Steve stoked a fire and ordered a pizza. Jack put on his jammies, and we all hung out in the great room (except for Breyer, she had to play outside while we ate pizza on the floor). We played a rousing game of Superhero Chutes and Ladders, which Jack won fair and square. Reid played on his playmat and worked very hard to roll over. (He's so close!). We even watched a movie afterwards (an episode of the Avengers cartoon from Netflix). All in all, it was a successful pajama party. Of course, now Jack wants to do that again, and I'm sure we will!


This weekend was packed with fun too. My cousin Kelly came over for a visit on Saturday morning. I'm not sure who enjoys that more, me or Jack. He loves to show off for her. This time that meant jumping on the trampoline and playing hide and seek. I love to talk to her about life. I miss my 20s sometimes, and I love hearing about all of the cool stuff she gets to do. I think Reid is also becoming a huge fan of Aunt Kelly. He couldn't stop smiling at her and eventually fell asleep in her arms. I was too busy visiting with her this time to take pictures, but I'll remember to next time!

On Sunday, (wait, that's today!) we went to brunch with Papa (Steve's dad). We love brunch, and brunch with good company is always a good thing!


We finished up our weekend with a birthday party. Our good friend Olivia turned 4 yesterday and had her party at Pump It Up today. Jack got to play with all of his friends from Little Wildcats, so needless to say, he was pretty darn excited. Steve and I got to visit with our WHS friends, and needless to say, I was pretty darn excited.


The birthday girl


And to close out this post, how about a few pictures that didn't necessarily fit in with the narrative of the week, but are cute nonetheless. Enjoy!






Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's all happening too fast!

So Reid is 5 months old already. Where has the time gone? I thought I'd start this post with a little time-lapse photography. Here's Reid:

At birth

2 months old

3 months old

4 months old

5 months old

Pretty crazy, huh?

We have started to give him rice cereal, although not regularly enough to say that he is eating it. He likes to hold the spoon and chew on the spoon. We'll get there! He is also very close to rolling over from back to front. Not totally sure how I feel about that. I'm excited to watch him develop, but I'm not ready for mobile baby. He is very good at grabbing his toys and moving them from one hand to the other. I would say his favorite toys at this point are his teething keys and balls. Not too hard to keep this guy happy!

On the Jack front, he is also doing quite well. He's at the age where his thoughts and ideas are just amazing to us. Lately, he has been talking a lot about when he grows up and can do things on his own. He talks about when he will get his driver's license and be able to go places just him and Nicky. He wants to drive with Nicky to get a new sunshade for his seat in the car. He also talks about getting his own house someday. Don't worry, he doesn't want to move far. He tells us his house will be in the backyard. He has big plans though. He sees things in books that he wants for his house. So far that includes a pool, a living room, and most importantly, a fire pole to go from one level to another. I think his house will be a pretty fun place.

The boys and I are slowly figuring out our schedule. I've been Jazzercising a lot more lately. And I get to take the boys with me to a Tuesday morning class. They get to play with other kids, I get to work out. It's a pretty good deal. We also have maintained Library Day. We go every Tuesday to return our books and pick out new ones. I love to watch Jack go through the new books and ask to bring home a bunch. We usually leave the library with about 7 or 8 books. We love to read together!

Jack has started a soccer class through the park district. He seems to like it pretty well once we are there. He's definitely the youngest kid in the class, and so he has the hardest time staying focused. But the class is an hour and 15 minutes, so I don't blame him. He does listen to his teacher when she talks to him directly, so that's a good thing. He's been very excited to show Daddy what he learns. I love watching Jack and Steve in the backyard with the soccer balls. I think this is what I dreamed about when I found out I was pregnant the first time.

Our home classroom is coming along great too. We are all learning in this process. I read tons of books about Montessori method and how to make materials. Jack is learning how to follow rules and respect the office. Reid is learning how to roll over and track objects. So far our favorite activities are reading books and using the magnet board. We have a game for the magnet board where Jack has to find the letter and word for a picture. So if the picture is of an ant, he finds the letter a and the word ant to go with it. He's doing pretty well. The letter C throws him for a loop. He thinks it makes the S sound. It's fun to watch him figure things out.

We took Reid on his first family vacation over Spring Break. We packed up the family, Breyer included, and drove down to Starved Rock for a few days. Jack and Steve got some good hiking in on the first day, but it was a little too cold for Reid, so he and I stayed in the lodge. Reid napped, I drank hot chocolate and ate fudge. Definitely a good day. We also got some swimming in, and when the weather warmed up, we all got to go to the top of Starved Rock. We even made a stop at an ice cream place. Overall, a good first trip for Reid and a nice get away for all of us. We are planning a more substantial vacation for the summer. I can't wait!

Well, I hope I have kept you entertained in this long post. Now that I have finished judging journalism contests, I am hoping to write more here. I have so much to say, and since I don't have high school students who have to listen to me anymore, I have to let it out somewhere!

Enjoy some pictures from the last month!


Starved Rock




Soccer class

Soccer with Dad

Bathtime fun

Easter eggs

St. Patrick's Day Parade