Monday, November 29, 2010

Hook line and sinker

I totally bought into this Elf on the Shelf idea. 100%. I will not apologize for my blatant love of all things Christmas-y. I love Santa. I love twinkle lights (I call them Christmas lights, however they're used). I love swags of garland and holiday music that starts playing the day after Halloween (yes, that is stretching it a little but that's a-ok with me). I love the smell of fresh cut evergreens (or candles!) and the big, red blooms of the poinsettia. I love that I get to buy my son ornaments every holiday season, reflective of what he loved so much that year. It's a train this year, naturally.

When I heard about the Elf on the Shelf idea a few weeks ago I knew it was right up my alley. The idea is that this elf reports back to Santa every night to tell him whether the little one was naughty or nice and then returns to a different spot in the morning, perhaps causing some mischief along the way. Extra Christmas-y? Check. Totally ridiculous and child-like? Awesome. Extra good behavior reinforcement? Count me in.What I didn't like was the price: $35 for a little elf and a book? Not going to happen. And that one is slightly creepy looking. Agreed? Last weekend I struck gold at Hobby Lobby and found an adorable stuffed elf for $4.99...and then 50% off that. Scrounge around the internet for some "elf" ideas and I have a $2.50 version of Elf on the Shelf.

Meet "Dabo the Elf", as named by Noah:

We're two days into our mischief and I'm pretty sure Noah is going to be in tears when Christmas comes and goes and so does our elf. So far "Dabo" has found his way into Noah's stocking, Noah's boot, on the shelf with the dinner plates, and up on the chandelier. Tim thinks I am getting far more enjoyment out of this elf than Noah. Perhaps. But I don't mind one bit.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No time to blog or just lazy? Take your pick.

What do you do to entertain your toddler while you are making dinner? I'm dead serious when I ask this. Frankly, Noah has been spending far too much of the hours from 5pm until 6:30pm in front of the television and I am appalled at myself. I was never the mom who swore her precious future Nobel prize winner would never watch television but I'm concerned it's getting out of hand. Add in the On Demand feature and we have the makings of a addiction brewing around these parts.

I've tried coloring, playdoh, trains, cars, puzzles, and even bought him a step stool high enough so he can reach the counter and play sous-chef. Except then he wants the knives and to fiddle with the stove. I hear that's frowned upon. What is your magic formula for making dinner while entertaining a 2 1/2 year old?

So you know how I tore up the carpet on our stairs and then never updated about having them refinished? Yeah, that's because I haven't done a thing about it. They sit there in all their paint splattered glory just begging me to take a belt sander to them. However, this working thing is totally getting in the way of me getting ANYTHING done around the house (and here you thought if I had mastered laundry then I must have mastered the rest of LIFE). Alas, I have not and my stairs are neglected. And I didn't like the price I was quoted to have them refinished. That is, until I went to the carpet store today to investigate having them re-carpeted.

This time I was looking at pretty, patterned carpets...kind of like a runner. The lovely saleswoman must have thought I live in a golden palace with diamonds on my sink faucets and precious gems embedded in my floors because the carpets she was showing me? They were EXPENSIVE. Think around $2,500 for carpet, pad and install...for the STAIRS. Umm. No. Sorry. The stair refinishing is looking mighty nice right about now.


Noah doesn't need a brace! Or special shoes! HOORAY! The docs think he just has a gross motor developmental delay that may resolve itself by his 3rd birthday. MUCH better than I thought. However, they suggested I look into physical therapy for him if I want to be "proactive". Have they met me? Obviously that suggestion meant I called the state early intervention office immediately and we have our first evaluation next week.


Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I CANNOT WAIT. Turkey and a subsequent nap on the couch? YES, PLEASE.  Enjoy your holiday, friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Queen of shortcuts and canned soup

Laundry sucks. There, I said it. Folding clothes and unloading the dishwasher are my two most hated chores. Sadly, the other adult who lives in my house doesn't seem to be programmed with the need to wash clothes or dishes. If we want clean clothes then this woman is the one who gets it done. But it doesn't mean I like it. (Side note: don't marry a man whose mother did his laundry and then his first wife did his laundry and then his cleaning lady post-divorce did his laundry because he will never once take an interest in learning how to run the washing machine and dryer. But I have learned to pick my battles.)
I feel like I can never catch up and have all the laundry washed, folded, and put away. We only have 2.5 people living in this house and yet it's never done. It drives me insane to have full laundry baskets within days of doing five loads of laundry. It will sit sorted on my bedroom floor for days until I can get it all done. Inevitably I will leave a wet load in the washer overnight and have to run it again the next night after work (where another load will get left unfinished because, damnit, I'm tired and don't want to be folding clothes at 11 pm).
The lightbulb went on early last week when the laundry was threatening to take over my upstairs hallway. My fancy pants, front loading washing machine has a DELAY TIMER. A little, tiny button on the front of it that I never paid much attention to until Noah pressed it last week and I saw the timer clock climb from 1 hour to 12 hours. Do you have any idea what this means? I DO. This means I can put a load of laundry in the machine before I go to bed, add the detergent, and then set the delay timer to go off an hour before I wake up. Then, when I wake up? The load is clean and ready for the dryer. I toss it into the dryer while I am showering and getting ready for work. Since that routine takes about 45 minutes (I'm slow in the morning and my coffee maker doesn't have an auto switch...I'm looking at you KEURIG) and so does my dryer, my clothes are dry and ready to be folded after I'm dressed. So I fold it because it's only ONE load and I don't feel OVERWHELMED by FIVE (seems like FORTY) loads that need to be washed, dried and folded. I don't have time to put it all away in the morning so I still have to tackle that part but I am seriously impressed with myself. Or with Noah for pushing that button and showing me the light.
It sounds like a million more steps but this has made the laundry process in our house less frought with anger, despair, and mildewy cottons. I'm in love with that little delay timer button.
And about the canned soup: go buy two ready made pie crusts, 1 bag frozen mixed veggies, 1 rotisserie chicken, and 1 can cream of chicken soup (lower sodium so I don't feel so bad). Put it all together. 30 minutes at 375 and you have chicken pot pie. It's a few steps above pre-made frozen pot pies and about a frillion steps below (but way EASIER) than homemade crusts and sauces. I may be feeding my family this multiple times a month for the rest of winter. I hope they don't mind. And I bet you all totally already knew this recipe.
What are some of your short cuts?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Falling and I don't mean the leaves

So I write a post all about striving for balance and this weekend my tenuous grip on that balance was thrown off yet again. As many of you know, when Noah was 6 months old, I fell down the stairs while carrying him and broke his left leg. The break was relatively clean but was positioned on the growth plate right above his knee. (More here and here.)

That was a really difficult time for me. However, I moved on, we moved on, and Noah seemed to be doing fine. That was until last week when I got to preschool pick up a little early and had the chance to watch Noah run “races” with his little buddies. Now, I KNOW parents cannot, should not, compare their child’s development to his/her peers. Every kid is a unique snowflake, each develops at his/her own pace, yada yada. But what I saw watching Noah and his friends run after each other showed me, without a doubt, that Noah lags behind his classmates when it comes to running and walking. He falls down...a lot. He twists his legs while running when he should have more fluid movements. His gait is very unsteady. Although he was having a blast chasing after his friends, I nearly started to cry watching him run. I knew the next call I made was going to be to his pediatrician.

You know what the most wonderful thing is about a pediatrician who also happens to be your neighbor? House calls. Noah’s doctor stopped by yesterday afternoon and observed him running and walking. In five minutes and with almost no hesitation, he determined that it was Noah’s left leg that was causing the gait issues. And most likely a result of the break. Do you want to know what happened immediately after he left? TEARS. Lots and lots of tears. That visit broke the wall I had so carefully constructed around that day in February, 2009.

Our doctor hypothesized as to what possible treatments may be in store for us:
-A leg lengthening brace
-Special orthopedic shoes with a lift in one heel
-Physical therapy
-Nothing, depending on the outcome of x-rays

None of these options are life-threatening. None of these options will reduce his quality of life. Each of these options has the potential to help him walk and run better over time. I know deep down that this is just one of the many tests we face as parents and that he’ll be fine. Just fine. But, damnit, it doesn’t make me feel better. None of this would have happened if I wasn’t in such a hurry that day, if I had slowed down and paid more attention. I hurt my son that day (yes, unintentionally but still, I hurt him) and we’re still paying for it.

As time has gone by and separated me from the pain of that day and the days that followed, I found my resolve to slow down and focus on what’s right in front of me begin to weaken. Our calendar filled back up and we started rushing to get here, there, everywhere. We started cramming our weekends full of obligations from beginning to end, especially after I went back to work. I can’t do it anymore. My attention gets diverted from my family too easily by all the obligations and events and visits. I KNOW what happens when there is too much going on and not enough time to do it all. I’ve been in the emergency room’s x-ray room holding my six month old infant’s legs straight while the tech takes pictures of his fractured femur. I can still hear his frightened screams of pain. They haunt me.

I don’t mean to sound so “woe is me”. There are children with much more difficult trials and parents who are shouldering it all. I know Noah will be ok. I just thought I had learned my lesson a year and a half ago but it’s becoming clear to me that I didn’t learn anything. So, where do we go from here? We make the necessary appointments with the orthopaedic doctor. We listen, we learn, we help Noah the best way we can. We clear off our calendar a little more and spend more time taking care of our family. At the end of the day, this little guy is why I do everything I do...he really is my heart walking around outside my body.

I am the cutest fireman this side of the Mississippi, didn't you know? 
And don't even TRY to touch my candy.

(P.S. As I was getting off the train this afternoon a damn pigeon shit on my coat. I heard it "plop!" on my arm and I about lost my mind. It really was the icing on a craptastic day.)