Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

We're back from a jaunt up north to visit my parents and celebrate Christmas AGAIN! The drive up was a nightmare of traffic delays and fussy children...a trip that normally takes 5 hours took over 7. The boys had a grand time with their grands and auntie and uncle and soon forgot about the hours trapped in the car. The trip home again was MUCH better. The non-stop excitement and activity of our 4 day visit made the boys nearly catatonic for the drive home. Amazing how fast the time goes when everyone sleeps (except the driver, naturally) all the way home.

Of course I took more photos.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe new year! We had sushi...oh damn! I forgot about my bottle of champagne! Well...it's bedtime. Perhaps I'll toast the new year tomorrow instead.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Photos from this big gift extravaganza are here. Now I'm going to start dinner. We're having lobster bisque, burgundy beef with twice stuffed baked potatoes and maple glazed carrots. Raspberry mousse for dessert. What are YOU eating today?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Return of Mr. Moose

A special Christmas video for all my bloggy pals:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Where the F*** are they?!

I'm totally pissed off at Shutterfly. Every year, for the last 6 years, I order photo calendars and cards from them and I've never had a problem. This year? I ordered my cards at the beginning of December and JUST GOT THEM TODAY!

Frack!

I think I set a new land-speed record for slapping on mailing labels and slobbering over envelope sealant. I know, I know. They will NEVER get to their destinations before Christmas. What can ya do.

Ordinarily, I like to take time and reflect a bit as I apply each mailing label. I think about the person I am sending the card to and wonder what they've been up to all year (if I haven't heard from them in a while). Not much time for reflection today. I think I had time to think about maybe three of the addresses I was mailing to.

One was our adoption agency. I added a personal note to that card and fought the temptation to add something about the huge bill they sent and how it almost wasn't going to be a Merry Christmas for us this year. Ouch. In a year where we had to replace both the hot water heater AND the central A/C unit, their bill almost broke us completely. God how I hate being frugal at Christmas time.

Then there was the card where John noticed the need for a new mailing label. It was addressed to Mr. & Mrs. and there is no longer a Mrs. So now I'm thinking about how sad Mr. is, this first Christmas without his Mrs. She was a nice lady.

Finally, there was the card where I felt compelled to write an apology. Sorry I haven't called or written for a while. Been too busy, too tired, too preoccupied...full of excuses, I am.

Sending Christmas cards is usually the first thing I do when I'm getting ready for the holidays. It's my ritual. It puts me in the right frame of mind and generates some holiday spirit. Sadly, not this year. I felt rushed and stressed. NOT a good frame of mind when you are wishing all your friends and family a Happy Holidays.

*sigh*

Maybe after I shower and prepare the delish gourmet meal I have planned to celebrate John's birthday tonight...maybe my mood will improve. I'll apologize to him in advance for being a cranky pants. Happy Birthday honey! I love you!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time's Person of the Year



Wow! Now this is something I never expected in my lifetime. I rock!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

He's Coming!!!


Tyler is on the lookout...

While outside today putting up some lights, we heard sirens in the distance. John suspected (correctly) that Santa was taking his annual inspection tour of our town. Every year he comes riding through on a fire truck to do a last minute check of who is being naughty or nice. The nice kids get a candy cane.



More photos from our day are here.

Tyler Cam

A view through Tyler's lens:

Can you identify everything he took photos of?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Deck the Malls

I hate going to the mall during the holidays. I usually avoid it at all costs. I'm one of those folks who embraced online shopping in it's early days and bought more and more Christmas gifts that way until I finally reached the 100% online level a couple years ago. Until this year. Leave it to my mother to come up with the one gift that absolutely could NOT be found online.

A few years ago my mom fell in love with the Crabtree & Evelyn signature series of china. It's Mason's Ironstone and made in England. Pretty stuff (and expensive), but they discontinued it this year. There were NO retailers online who had any in stock, including the C&E website. I couldn't cave and get mom's second choice gift - a Coach umbrella. $138 for an UMBRELLA? No frackin way. So I started making phone calls. I lucked out and found a local Crabtree & Evelyn that still had some of the china in stock.

The only problem...the shop is located in The Mall at Short Hills. Not exactly convenient and not exactly my kind of mall. Why? It's SWANKY. I'm a Walmart kind of gal. I get a little nervous when a mall has valet parking and shops like Brooks Brothers, Cartier, Dior, Dolce & Gabanna, Armani, Gucci, Saks...yadda yadda. I parked next to a pretty BMW and I did buy Tyler some sneakers in Nordstroms (and then wondered at my own sanity when she told me the cost of his new "Heelies".) Then we decided to see how the swanky mall did "Santa".

Ty in the giant snow-globe.I had the boys dressed nice and was crossing my fingers that they both would last through the wait in line. They did great! Santa's area wasn't very special, but they did have fun things to look at along the path to Santa's bench. It was a Happy Feet theme with giant snowglobes full of figures from the movie. Just before we turned a corner to get our Santa photo opp, they had a super giant snow globe that you could walk through. It was even snowing inside. Pretty cool!

I was just happy that Tyler showed almost no hesitation with Santa this year. Yay!!! Poor kid has had a major Santa phobia for years now. Max was really funny. He was snoozing in his stroller up until the moment I lifted him out and handed him to Santa. Max opened his eyes, looked at Santa and got the most comical look on his face. It looked like he was thinking, "Who is this Bozo??!" He didn't smile, but he didn't cry either. I'll take it.


Tyler & Max Visit Santa

Friday, December 08, 2006

Feline Friday: Faces of Sparty


Steven hasn't posted today's Feline Friday post yet, and I am so very far behind on my blog reading that it's just too ironic that I'm posting this before he does. Ha! Just thought I'd share some recent shots of Spartacus. He's such a handsome fellow, but he has as many evil streaks as he does stripes.

I think, more than anything else, he's bored. I don't have the time to play with him much and I can't often convince Tyler to engage him because Ty is afraid of being scratched. I think Sparty would be better off as a mascot in a Frat house. He's a rough and tumble Man's cat.

Coming Soon: A collage of Tyler's photos.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Lodge

Margo guessed it! We made our annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge for Tyler's birthday this weekend. Max and I steered clear of the water park (so no photos of Ty on the water slides this time) but we had loads of fun trying out the huge jetted bathtub in our room and cruising around the gorgeously decorated resort. I forgot how much fun it was to push a baby stroller and have oodles of total strangers come up and compliment your baby. Max was very popular!

Like last year, Great Wolf went over the top with their holiday decorations. It's a winter wonderland dripping with icicles, illuminated snowflakes and mounds of artificial snow. Max was in awe! His head was whipping from side to side and he had a huge grin on his face. He REALLY loved being in the arcade with his big brother. He was mesmerized by the lights and sounds.

Sadly, we were having too much fun and missed Santa. I'll have to think of somewhere else to take the boys for their visit. Happily, I did manage to get a great photo for our Christmas card. Keep a watch on your mailboxes. ;-)

Birthday Present #1
Tyler opens the first of his birthday presents while we wait near the lobby for Daddy to finish checking in.

The Mini Lodge
Having fun in the lobby inside the mini lodge.

Christmas Card Reject
Christmas Card reject. Max looked too schlumpy.

Tree Beds are fun to climb too
Getting acquainted with our room. Max loved the fireplace.

Determination
On the way to the main arcade, Tyler pauses to try and win a funky looking squishy ball. He didn't have much success, so we bought an even bigger one for him in the lobby gift shop. When Ty asked for my help, I did manage to scoop up a couple of big stuffed animals, much to Max's delight.

Tyler's Birthday

Tyler got something cool for his birthday:



*sniff* I can't believe my baby boy is 5 years old already! Photos from his special birthday weekend coming up.

Friday, December 01, 2006

ACHOO!

*sniffle* Sorry about that. Amazing how much dust builds up on this blog when I'm not here to update it for a week.

I should be asleep right now, but my mind is racing and I can't relax enough. I thought, perhaps if I write a nice blog entry I can wind down. We'll see if it works.

Tomorrow we set off on our annual Tyler's Birthday Trip to his favorite place on the planet. Does anyone remember where that is? I'll leave it a surprise then. You can wait for pictures, can't you? I do plan to take lots of pictures. This will be the perfect opportunity to capture that perfect shot for our holiday greeting card. Wish me luck! I'm on a quest!

Hopefully I can kill many birds with my proverbial stone and get in a visit with Santa too. He should be putting in an appearance where we're going. I'm taking bets on whether Tyler will approach him without fear and/or tears this year. Any takers? He is 3 and 1 so far (3 years of panic/tears and only one year of blissful ignorant joy when he was a year old).

This will also be the first time we've taken a lengthy car trip (longer than 30 minutes each way) with baby Max. A good test to see how he might fare when we finally drive up to see my parents. (5 hours in a car with 2 kids...yikes.) I'm used to sitting in the back seat with Tyler to keep him entertained. No room for me now with 2 car seats back there.

I'm so glad we got that mini-van. People laughed when we first bought it. Tyler was still an infant and it seemed like so much VEHICLE. Maybe a little overkill, but hey, that baby had a ton of gear to haul around! Now all the gear has been passed on to Max. Yay me for not giving in to the temptations of Ebay.

OK, have I gotten all the random gibble-gabble out of my head? Um... Oh! Ever read a book and find yourself wishing that the story would never end? Then, when it does, you realize the ending really left you hanging and you wish for a sequel? Then you find out the author is dead and never wrote any sequel? Yeah. It sucks.

Anything else? Oh yes! I found myself thinking about friends today. More specifically the friends I keep and the ones I choose to let drift out of my life. I've realized I'm really attracted to women who are very intelligent, talented and creative. I have friends who are writers and artists, friends who are talented with puzzles and games, friends who are great with a camera; and all of them are very interesting to talk to.

Then there is one friend who has drifted to the fringes of my life. I've been thinking about her a lot lately. She's called me a couple times and sent me a few emails, but I've responded only half-heartedly. I've known her for many years and while I've been there for her during almost every major crisis she's ever had, she's never really been there for me when I've needed her. Because of the choices she's made in her life, she no longer fits in well with mine.

It's been a long time since those grade school days where friendships were made and then broken with a cry of, "You're not my friend any more!" I'm not 9 years old and this friend didn't steal my favorite Barbie. I know how adults in a romantic relationship do a break-up. How do you end things with a friend? The "just don't call her back and she'll get the hint" thing doesn't seem to be working too well.

I'm also fighting against my own desire to be liked and have lots of friends. I don't have lots of friends and it's not easy to find new ones. Just when I think I've found someone I have a real connection with, they pull that "just don't call/email her back and she'll get the hint" thing on ME. Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive and they are just too busy with life right now to think about cultivating their friendship with me.

OK. Is that all the blather I can muster? No. One last thought. Max is finally starting to sleep for longer stretches. The only problem? He does it during the DAY when I also have to look after Tyler. So much for sleeping when the baby sleeps.

Now I should go to bed. I really really should.

No more Dr. Pepper for me!

I wonder if I recorded ER this week...


Knock, knock!

[Who's there?]

Ach!

[Ach who?]

Oh dear. My dusty blog has gotten to you too, eh?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Turkey Day Shortcuts

Until the last minute, I wasn't sure where we'd be spending the Thanksgiving holiday. Turned out we spent it on our own, at home. Nothing like a last minute scramble at the supermarket the day before a major holiday. Lucky for me, John did the shopping. Poor guy. He told me he was ready to start cracking heads by the time he finally reached the register.

So what does a happy homemaker do when she has a newborn and a planned trip to the hospital during a morning that would ordinarily be filled with major food prep? Shortcuts, baby!



So...we substituted my famous broccoli/cauliflower/cheese casserole for frozen cauliflower with cheese sauce, sub'd freshly mashed sweet potatoes for the fridge to microwave variety, sub'd my famous sage stuffing for a box of Stove Top, sub'd my fabulous gravy for Campbells instant, sub'd cranberry sauce made from scratch with Ocean Spray's delish canned version, apple pie straight from the store bakery, and finally we had a little 10 lb freshly roasted (but unstuffed) turkey. That last item I did make myself. The little fella only took 3 hours - it cooks faster without stuffing.

The verdict? Good! I was pleased with everything except the stuffing. Stove Top just didn't cut it, in my opinion.

Now that I know we can have a nice meal like this on short notice, I just might do it more often! How was your holiday?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

My thoughts are all over the place these days, it's difficult to write a coherent sentence. I've been going through all my photos from this year to try and select at least 12 for the annual Year of Tyler extravaganza calendar I make for friends and family every year...oh, but wait. Now we have Max too! So this year's calendar will take a sudden and startling turn in October. Now I need to come up with a new name for the calendar too. Hmm.

While going through a year's worth of photos, I find myself lost in fond memories of the places we've gone and people we've seen. I came across this photo I snapped of my friend Heather and her daughter Sarah and thought, "How great would this shot be if only John hadn't wrecked it?" LOL! My poor husband. I had to delete him.

Before:
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After:
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Sorry sweetie, I'm afraid the shot looks much better without you.

On to my next disjointed thought... Check this out!

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Look at the delicious swirl on the back of Max's head! I swear, I did NOT comb it that way! His hair does this all on its own! Seriously! Neat, eh?

Well, time to get ready to go. We're off to visit Grandma in the hospital. My poor MIL has been hospitalized since November 1st. She had surgery for a bowel obstruction that turned into one major complication after another. I think she is very upset to be missing all the great sales this weekend. [Very Big Wink!]

Hope you all have a nice day! I'll be back later with more photos, hopefully.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just when you think...

...I can't take much more of this. I see this face:


Oh yeah. That makes it all worth it. :-) I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

RRPC: In the Kitchen!

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge topic is "In the Kitchen!" Not much going on in my kitchen lately. Too tired to cook. We've been living on a whole lot of frozen foods and take-out. What IS going on in the kitchen? This:

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Yep. A whole lot of bottle making at all hours of the day and night. Similac, anyone? I serve it up at room temp in a hip Dr. Brown's baby bottle. Mmm mmm, yummy!

Visit the other Robins and see what's up in their kitchens:

Linking List

Jessica - Posted!
QuicksilverDreams
http://www.thewatersedge.us/QuickSilver/

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin
http://outmavarin.blogspot.com

Carly - Posted!
Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot.com

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures
http://gattina-keyholepictures.blogspot.com

Kerrin - Posted!
A New Day A New Photo
http://kerrinsdailyphoto.blogspot.com

Danella - Posted!
Deep Red Style
http://deepredstyle.com

Suzanne R -Posted!
New Suzanne R's Life
http://newsuzannerslife.blogspot.com

Julie - Posted!
Julie's Web Journal
http://www.barrettmanor.com/julie/journal.aspx

Janet - Posted!
Fond Of Photography
http://fondofphotography.blogspot.com

Teena - Posted!
It's all about me!
http://purple4mee.blogspot.com/

Robin - Posted!
R's Musings
http://rs-musings.blogspot.com/


Linda - Posted!
Blah Blah Blog
http://blahblahblog.wordpress.com/2006/11/15/garlic-sprouts

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thank You, Memory Foam!

Like me, my "memory foam" mattress topper is starting to develop dementia. The memory is going. Every night I sit on the side of my bed and get things together...remove my hair doohickies, make sure I have a bottle of water handy, check the alarm clock, arrange my pillows, read for a bit, yadda yadda. Over time, my generous buns have formed a sort of indent.

All day today, Max has been restless and unable to get comfortable. He hasn't been sleeping well in his cradle or any of his usual spots. A little while ago, in desperation, I carried him into the bedroom, sat in my usual spot, and bounced on the bed until he fell asleep in my arms. Then I set him down in my still warm ass indent.

I think this is the soundest he has EVER slept! I'm sitting in the glider next to the bed, typing very quietly. He's already 15 minutes past due for his next feeding. I'm wondering if I can slip into bed next to him without waking him. Soooo tempting.

(And in case my SIL is reading...it took FIVE YEARS for this to happen. Foam doesn't permanently indent in a matter of minutes. And it would probably happen to anyone of any size who sits in the same spot each night.)

Tyler & Cow


My son... That gleam in his eye tells me he's up to something. This photo was taken right before Tyler and Cow The Cow hit the bricks to go Trick or Treating. Cow was wearing a Halloween costume I'd bought for my Boyd's Bear last year. Cute, no? Deceptively so. That cow is a trouble maker.

This duo reminds me of another from one of my favorite comic strips of all time.

Wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dream Guilt

I had an extremely disturbing dream tonight. Back in 1989, my best friend's death was ruled a suicide. Tonight's dream revealed that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax just to fake her death. All because she hated me so much. Why? My last conversation with her before she died later that day was harsh. I was harsh. She'd called me at work on a particularly horrible day, I was angry and frustrated and I took it out on my poor needy friend. She wanted to have lunch with me and I just didn't have the time.

The dream starts much later in my life. The boys are grown, my husband has died (sorry, hun!) and I am the CEO of my own successful graphic design and advertising business. It's the weekend, I'm having lunch in the park with friends when I see a good looking man having a conversation with a woman who looks strangely familiar. I head toward their picnic table and over-hear part of the conversation.

Somehow from the scrap of words I hear, I jump to the conclusion that this man is "Tom" the boy my best friend was secretly in love with in college and the woman is HER. She's alive.

I confront him and he tries to convince me that I've seen a ghost. I almost believe him but then later decide to have him followed. Turns out he's one of the key people who helped her pull off the death hoax. Even K's parents thought she was dead. (She resented them too for their controlling ways and her smothered/over protected childhood.)

When K finds out I'm on to her, she comes to my office. I try telling her what her "death" did to me, but she's still so angry. Eventually she reveals that she's there to kill me. That's when things turn really, REALLY strange.

Queue the James Bond like chase scene where K and a band of assassins are chasing me and I suddenly have all this high tech gear at my disposal. Turns out my advertising business is just a front. I secretly manufacture spy gear for the international market.

As I run from overwhelming danger, I reach the far side of a tall parking structure, deploy collapsible wings from the black backpack I'm wearing, and leap. I'm crossing my fingers that the device works because, as I jump, I realize I've never fully tested this device before. It's a prototype.

There is the dizzying sensation of falling as people are shooting at me...and then John wakes me up to take over care of the baby.

Is there a psychiatrist in the house?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween Video

I took a few videos with my new camera on Halloween night (more on the camera later). It was dark out, so the picture is sometimes absent. Then, as I was filming, I forgot you can't just suddenly decide to flip the camera from landscape to portrait - so you'll need to cock your head to one side to watch. I'm such a ditz sometimes. You may or may not catch John starting to mention the mail in his hands. Turns out, the night before (mischief night), someone had filled our mailbox with shaving cream...so the mail was covered. Ick. You'll also see the huge disco ball necklace the police were giving out to the kids.



In this next video you'll see the only shot I have of my cauldron full of treats. I forgot to take a photo of the Halloween goodies this year.



So! My new camera. There's a story. My old camera (Canon PowerShot S50) has been great, but it's starting to act it's age. The zoom is a tad sluggish and there are a couple bad pixels. Nothing to warrant buying a new camera, of course. I had planned to use this one for at least another year. Then John went away to a work conference a couple months ago and won a door prize...$100 HPShopping.com gift cert. With his employee discount (and a rebate to boot) he was able to get me a killer deal on this:

It's so skinny and tiny! I finally have my purse sized camera. I'm still getting the hang of it. I think I like the video my older camera produces better. Not sure yet. The flash seems much brighter too, which is good and bad. Bad, because it forces the kids to squeeze their eyes shut on almost every shot I take. It has a huge 2.5 inch LCD display too. Blah blah...if you're interested you can see it here. LOL!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Well, things seem to be winding down...the doorbell isn't ringing as often. Over all, I was depressed with this Halloween celebration. Tyler's school pumpkin picking trip was cancelled due to rain and we never had a chance to go on our own. No pumpkins this year. No carving, no roasted pumpkin seeds...it's just too sad. I managed to jam in a nap this afternoon but I never expected the doorbell to start ringing before 5pm.

I had to speed through a shower because I knew John couldn't be bothered with my glow bracelet procedure (those were to be the last item slipped into the treat bags to maintain maximum glowability). I'd say the first 25 kids or so got cheated out of that extra Halloween goody. I made up 71 treat bags and swiftly ran out. John broke into my personal stash of fun sized candy to tide me over as he ran out to a local store for more candy. That was a first! I had to give a couple of older kids some safety pops that I'd bought just for the wee ones while I waited for John to hurry back.

Then there was the local police department. They totally upstaged me this year! As the patrol cars went through the neighborhood, the cops gave every kid they saw these really nice battery powered flashing necklaces. Tyler came home looking like a disco ball! My tiny little glow bracelets were totally lost in the glare. Grumble, grumble...but seriously, thanks to the boys in blue for going over the top to protect the kids. Plus there were several other houses giving out glow items. The kids started to look like Christmas trees by the end of the night. But I'm pretty sure I was the only one giving out goodie bags with temp tattoos, kazoos, finger puppets and candy. I win!

As for my costume? Once again, no time to put on makeup for my over the top Disney costume (plus I was afraid it would scare Max). Last night I had a brain storm. Since I just got a cool new baby carrier - a mei tai style wrap from my friend Heather at http://MaMaMadeProducts.com - it is in a cool Asian brocade that would match well with this nice kimono I wore a few years ago. I dressed as a Samurai for a Halloween party back then. So I could wear Max and he'd make a swell costume accessory! I looked high and low and could NOT find my kimono anywhere! I was so bummed! I considered wearing my Goth vampire garb with my pretty velvet cape, but it was so warm today. I finally decided to wear one of my Hawaiian muumuus (moo moos). I never had time to find my artifical lei, so I probably just looked like I was sitting on the front steps in my dressing gown.

Naturally Max got hungry just as the doorbell really started to heat up. I had him in the mei tai and was feeding him with one hand while I gave out candy with the other. The boys had already left to go trick or treating, so I was on my own. I got a little stressed trying to manage, but Tyler tired out rather quickly again this year so they only did our street and didn't venture out into the neighborhood.

It's 8:30 now and the doorbell has only rung twice as I've been typing this. It's a school night, so I can't imagine we'll have too many more visitors. John really went overboard on his last candy run, so I think there will be leftovers. Sadly, he bought candy types that I don't care for. Or maybe that's a good thing.

At least the boys both looked really cute!

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shazam!

Weekend Assignment #136: Your Favorite Costume

Oh that's easy! Halloween 1976...just before I got old enough to think store bought costumes were for babies and started making my own (ghost in a bed sheet, witch, hobo, zombie...you get the idea.) I really wanted to be Wonder Woman. I dragged my mother into Spencer's Gifts and showed her the costume I wanted and she hit the roof. Turns out it was an adult costume and much too "sexy" for a young girl of 10.

OK, next best superhero from my next favorite TV show (since Mom couldn't find a Wonder Woman kids costume in my size)! Maybe I should just show the photo and see if anyone can guess...

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You recognize my brother Mike as "The Fonz" of course; but are clueless on what I am dressed as, right? Not surprising. The show was only on for one season and was a Saturday morning kids show. It came on after Shazam! (featuring another cool superhero, Captain Marvel). No idea?

I am... THE ALMIGHTY ISIS! Average school teacher on an archeological dig in Egypt finds mystical amulet that transforms her into an ancient goddess with amazing powers.

Man, I really wanted to get my hands on an amulet like that. One of the first short stories I ever wrote was about just such an amulet (except it was connected to a Nordic goddess, Freya - because the whole Egyptian thing has just been done to death).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Max Loves Music

More accurately, Max loves Windows Media Player. What do we do when he's wide awake at 4 AM? This:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Spluge

- I've seen so much hullabaloo about Madonna adopting the kid from Africa that I feel, as an adoptive parent, I should say something. Um. Madonna? Just so you know... people who adopt aren't saintly or special. We adopt simply because it's a great way to start a family (particularly when your girlie parts aren't cooperating). I sure hope you adopted for the right reasons and that your new son has a great life. Honestly, I feel most celebs who adopt are doing so because they feel guilty for having so much money and this is one way to do some good with it. But I don't know any celeb parents to ask, so I'll just leave it at that.

- In a effort to save money, I killed my subscription to my Eaton Press Masterpieces of Science Fiction book-o-the-month club. For the past year or so, I've actually stopped buying new books from Amazon (except for John Scalzi's new books which I must have as soon as they are published) and I've taken the time to READ all those pretty leather bound editions of classic SciFi...or Skiffy...or what ever the current cool kids' term is. Naturally I started with titles I was familiar with. I re-read a few Heinlein classics (probably my all time fav author), some Le Guin, a Pohl, some Asimov, H.G. Wells, Verne, Burroughs (I get a kick out of the more dated "rocket to the moon" SF from the 40s and 50s)...and I've found new passion for more contemporary SF authors like Orson Scott Card. But for some reason I kept putting Arthur C. Clarke's books back on the shelf.

Why? Because I hated 2001: A Space Odyssey...the movie. HATED it. If you know me at all or have been reading my blog for a while, you know it's exceedingly rare for me to HATE any movie. I won't go into all the reasons why I hate it, but I've been sort of unconsciously punishing Clarke for it by avoiding his other works. Until last night. I started reading Childhood's End. Really, it was the intro that George Zebrowski wrote (another good writer) and, more so, the foreword that Clarke himself wrote explaining why he had gone back and edited his first chapter and how his opinions on "the supernatural" have changed over the years. I found myself laughing and drawing parallels to the wit and career of one of my other current fav authors, Mr. John Scalzi.

So, Arthur C. Clarke, please forgive me for being a tad judgmental. And you are right...the mini-series"V" totally ripped you off! (Loved that show!)

Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein...they are like the holy trinity of SciFi. At least they were in the early 80s. I wonder if any other author in that genre will ever achieve that level of fame and recognition. Stephen King comes to mind...but he has transcended genre. Enough with the musings on science fiction.

- Am I going to Mommy Hell because I let Max sleep on his belly and in bed with me? I'm blogging and watching him sleep so peacefully right now. I find I am much more relaxed with Max than I was with Tyler. I was SO afraid of doing the wrong thing with Ty. Paranoid and anxious...checking obsessively to make sure he was breathing...dressing him in too many layers...making everyone wash their hands even if they just wanted to LOOK at the baby... Good times, good times. I was such a freak out case. Now I get why my parents were so strict with me and so laid back with my brother. He got away with murder! Yes, I'm still resentful. Ha!

- Ty has been so sweet with Max. Yesterday he gave Max a kiss on the head and said "I love you baby Max!" I just melted! Now if I could just figure out how to encourage Ty to be more independent without him feeling like he's being punished...I'd be golden. Any tips on how to get a kid to dress himself?

- I have a video of Max I want to post, but it's a bit dark (low lighting conditions). Maybe I'll do that later. I have a book here that I want to get back to...no clue what those Overlords look like yet.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Halloween Thoughts

Tyler was very indecisive on his costume choice this year. He didn't seem to care and couldn't narrow his choices down. Actually, he seemed to dislike every costume he looked at. Finally, a few weeks ago, he said, "Mommy, can I just be SpiderMan again?" Well...yes and no.

His old SpiderMan costume was from a couple years ago and waaaaay too small. So I found one he liked on Ebay and won the auction (what a steal!) So, there you have it. He's going to be SpiderMan. Again. So we'll be skipping the annual vote for Tyler's costume tradition this year. I'll just do a big reveal on Halloween night with a fresh Trick or Treating video and photo.

I do have a special outfit for Max to wear when we answer the door on Halloween. That will be a surprise too.

Now I just need to find the time to put together all those treat bags! Good grief...there goes Max. Time for another bottle!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Just for grins... This is the photo I used on Max's Thank You cards. I hope they arrive soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Alone again...

We have the house to ourselves again. Whew! Dad came to get Mom and take her home. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good visit. She came through this time and even changed poopie diapers and let me take naps. Woo hoo! I think I'm actually gonna miss her.

John is on vacation this week, so I'm not without help just yet. One more week of going back to bed in the mornings. Yay! Max is a good baby, but he's got baaaaad gas problems. He makes grunting and growling noises in his sleep that keep me up alllll night long. Poor kid. I bought some "Gripe Water" based on a recommendation. Not sure it's working. I've just been trying it during the day to see if it makes a difference. Maybe I should try nights instead.

Anyone got any good anti-gas remedies? And yes, we burp him frequently during feedings. I'm starting to fear he has a problem with lactose like his big brother did. Or reflux. When this kid spits up, some times it's so bad it comes out his nose! Yikes!

I took some cute photos tonight, but need to get them off the camera. Later... It's 3:30 in the morning. I can't sleep. Max is being too noisy. I am using the laptop in bed. Man, I love this thing. Suddenly it's really coming in handy.

Geesh I am all over the place tonight. Lack of sleep is making me blather. Oh! Went shopping at the Carter's Outlet yesterday. OMG! I found matching outfits for Tyler and Max that will make a PERFECT Christmas portrait! I'm so excited about that! I just have to come up with a clever pose for them this year. I'm thinking of simulating snow with this fluffy white blanket Ty has...maybe have them sit in a sled. We'll see. LOL!

Does Ty have a sled?? I can't remember right now.

*YAWN*

OK. Time to try sleeping again. But I know as soon as I get cumfy, Max will start fussing. He has "oh no you don't, Mommy...no sleep for you!" radar! I swear!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh, grow up!

It's funny. I often remember hearing the words "Don't be in such a hurry to grow up!" when I was a kid. I understand what my parents and other adults were trying to say. Kids grow up too fast...childhood flies by before we know it and we miss the sweetness and innocence of how we and our kids were/are in their younger years.

But what about newborns? I found myself thinking last night as I was feeding Max at 3 AM; "I hope you start sleeping through the night soon, Sweet Pea." During the day I found myself thinking, in turn, "I can't wait until you...hold your own head up, sit up, crawl, start talking."

Then it finally hit me. I had a hard time remembering many details of when Tyler was a newborn. It was a haze of fatigue, bottles, diapers, spitup. I was in a hurry for Tyler, the individual, to arrive. I'm not really in a hurry for my sons to grow up, I'm just in a hurry to get past the helplessness and repetitive nature of infancy so I can get to know the person my son will become.

But I don't want my earliest memories of Max to be a blur. I'm going to make a conscious effort to file away specific memories of holding Max, feeling his warm breath on my neck as he snuggles in to sleep, smelling the sweet baby smell of his hair, feeling the grip of his little fingers around my thumb as I feed him, tickling his feet when I change his diaper...

Yes, this part is a hard part; but it has it's rewards too. I don't want to be in too much of a hurry for Max to grow up.

Off the subject, we got another nice surprise from some co-workers of John's. Thanks to the J&J account team for the great gift basket! I've never received one of these fancy layette baskets before. Sweet!

Thanks J&J Team!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Flowers

I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I got back from picking up Tyler from school on Thursday. John's boss had sent us these flowers:

It's a BOY!

Aren't they cute? I thought that was really nice of Keith (or most likely his secretary). LOL!

My MIL left in the afternoon on Thursday. I miss her already! She may not think so, but she was a huge help. Just being able to take a little nap each day made a big difference in how I felt. Now it's Saturday and I'm BEAT. I actually cried last night when Chili's screwed up my dinner take-out order. Talk about crying over spilt milk! I think my PMDD is acting up again. Or it could be just plain exhaustion.

Grandma snuggles

Tomorrow my parents are coming down and my mom plans to stay for the week. We'll see how that goes. Unlike my MIL, my mom doesn't just "do". She waits to be told. She also doesn't attempt to find things on her own or help herself; she asks. That can get on a person's nerves when they are sleep deprived. I am praying for an extra dose of patience this week.

Tyler is starting to show some classic signs of jealousy. He's been very possesive of his things and space. He is being a tad uncooperative and is acting out a bit. He's been clingy, especially to his Dad, and is craving attention. But all are mild and manageble. He's making good progress.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oh yeah...

Rough night with Max. Pee and projectile vomit on my sheets, night shirt, and Max's body. He was up from 12:15 until 3:30. Had to feed him a second bottle only an hour after his 2am one (probably because he lost half his feeding in the major spew fest). By 3:30 am I was a zombie and found myself having that "what the hell were you thinking" moment. Oh yeah. I just HAD to have 2 kids. I must be out of my freakin' gourd.

But my MIL came to the rescue this morning and sent me back to bed. Amazing how the perspective improves after a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. Ahhhh. I'm back to feeling happy and content.

Whew!

Isn't this photo just a scream?! Tyler was SO proud of himself. He was scared of holding the baby, but once he saw Max happily sucking away I caught this expression. Nice job, big brother!

Tyler Gives Max a Bottle for the first time

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Maximum Overdrive!

We are slowly catching our breath and getting settled into a new routine here. The piles of boxes hastily flung out of the attic still remain in the hallway and playroom. I'll look through them as I have a spare moment. My MIL is due to arrive shortly to lend a hand with baby Max and I know she'll frown at the disarray...but it can't be helped.

We were soooooo unprepared for that phone call, and yet, in a way, we WERE prepared. I saved EVERYTHING from Tyler. All his clothes, baby gear, toys...it was all waiting for Max in the attic. The pack-n-play has been put together in the bedroom with the thought of using it as an extra sleep/changing spot. I'm scratching my head, however, because while the changing table portion was easily found, the bassinet part wasn't...and that upper deck can't be assembled without it.

I'm just thankful that the boys were both born around the same time of year. Tyler weighed a bit more at his birth at the beginning of December, so, size wise, I think Max will be right on track to step into Tyler's shoes (and socks, and shirts, and pants). Nice to know the small fortune I spent on all those cute outfits from Gymboree will have a nice return on the investment. I should have a few years before Max has an opinion on wearing reruns. ;-)

Max had his first visitors today. My friend Norman stopped by with his wife Danit and their toddler son Charlie (he'll be one year old this month). Charlie has gotten so big! I forget how fast kids grow in the first year of life...but I am about to be reminded!

I'm tired but feeling quite content at the moment. Max is fast asleep in his bassinet. Tyler is playing a video game on his gameboy. John is puttering around getting the house more ready for his mother's visit. But I can't help thinking about L. While things happened in a flash for us, she had 9 months to contemplate her options.

I can't place myself in her head because I've never been in the situation she found herself in. But I did have a friend who reacted to an unwanted pregnancy the same way she did. S didn't want to believe she was pregnant. She ignored the situation as long as she could hoping the problem would just go away. She'd already had an abortion in high school and wasn't eager to repeat it. She hid her pregnancy from her friends and family. Only her co-workers noticed and put two and two together. No one said anything to her about it (except me) sensing, correctly, that she just didn't want to talk about it.

I hope L had a co-worker friend like me to confide in. I'd hate to think she carried the burden of her hidden pregnancy all alone. If someone pointed her to the choice of adoption, thank God for them. But I think L's decision was influenced by her own life experiences. Her own mother was adopted. Her own mother got pregnant at a young age and elected to keep her baby. L was raised by a young single mother with no support from her birth father. She knows first hand the struggles her own mother went through and just couldn't see that role playing out for herself.

I respect and admire L's decision. She told the social worker she wanted her baby to have a better life than she had with more opportunities.

Don't worry L. That's the least we will do for baby Max. He'll have loads of love too.

Sleepin Like a Baby

Maybe someday L will change her mind about having contact with us and Max. I hope so. She might not be the one raising him, but she'll always have a place in our family and our hearts.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's a BOY!

Photos of our day's adventure here: ryanagi.shutterfly.com/action/?a=8AZMmrRo1as2oA

And here's baby Max!

Baby Max is Here!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

FREAKING OUT!

I got a call from our adoption agency this morning. There is a baby WAITING FOR US...right NOW. He was born yesterday and will be ready for discharge tomorrow. All I have to do is call our agency back and say yes.

I have been freaking out for the last 2 hours. Am I ready? It's so...soon! Yeah, I know. We've technically been waiting for almost 2 years for this phone call, but... We had a lot more time to plan with Tyler. Time to get to know his birth mom. This birth mom doesn't want to meet us, at this point. Her decision was last minute, she hadn't had any prenatal care, and I get the feeling she was hiding her pregnancy for a long time. The hospital says the baby seems very healthy, so I'm not too worried about all that.

I'm more worried about being a mother to a newborn TOMORROW. TOMORROW!!!!

Holy crap!

Can I be ready for this? I'm wasting too much time freaking out. I know. There is a baby boy, all alone in a hospital waiting for his mommy and daddy to come get him. Is that me? Am I his mommy? I could really use some kind of sign right about now.

I called my parents and got my Dad on the phone. They were rushing to get ready for doctors appointments and my mom wouldn't even get on the phone. Dad was no help. I tried calling a friend, but either she isn't home or she isn't answering the phone.

I don't know how talking to someone will help. It's still my decision. John had no hesitation. He said yes almost before I got finished telling him the details.

I think some part of me is still dangling my fantasy of having a baby girl in front of me and saying "What about baby Sara? You don't even have a boy's name picked out. Are you settling? You can't do that, if that's the case. You have to be sure. This baby will be yours forever. No reservations! Are you really ready?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Master Manipulator

[Sounds of my two boys playing a video game together...]

Daddy? Will you get me a drink?

Uh huh...

Now? I'm really thirsty.

I'm a little busy right now Ty. You can get it...

*pause* [sounds of video game continue]

You know, Daddy, friends do stuff for each other.

Yep.

You're my best friend, you know.

I am?

Yes.

*pause*

I'm your best friend too, right?

Yes.

And I'm your only son and you love me...right?

Yes?

So you have to do things for me because you love me, right?

[sounds of video game being paused and a long sigh]

Are you going to get me a drink?

Yes, Ty.

Thanks Daddy! I love you!

[sounds of someone trudging upstairs and sounds of someone else gleefully stealing the spot in front of the computer...]


~ conversation overheard from another room. I think my son would make a good lawyer one day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What the...???

OK, do I have any nature buffs as readers? Can anyone identify the furry new neighbor I discovered eating grass shoots and acorns in my yard?

Ground hog? Gopher? Wombat? He was pretty fearless and didn't seem to mind me one bit. I was able to walk up quite close to him.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

School Daze

Last year I took a really cute photo of Tyler standing on the front steps, wearing his new backpack and ready for his first day of school. I decided right then that I wanted to make it an annual tradition...that front step, first day of school photo.

I missed it. Not because I didn't have my camera with me that day...but because my mind wasn't on his first day of official Pre-K. It was on where we were going AFTER school that day. Which was here:


Children's Hospital

We had to take Ty in for a follow up visit with the specialist about his kidney. They are still monitoring him, so no new news there. I was so focused on trying to make the visit as nonstressful and fun as possible, I totally forgot the first day of school photo.

Check out the cool exam room:


The bench seat in this one is orangey brown. The last time it was a different room and the seat part and cushion were a dark blue (way prettier). But I love how cumfy they made these rooms. Ty settles right in and makes himself at home. Plus he's got his blankie and favorite stuffed animal, Cow the cow, to comfort him.

The waiting room at this place is amazing too. They have a play house for the kids, a giant fish tank, a giant screen TV tuned into cartoons, kiosks with video games, loads of books...all in this adorable faux park-like setting complete with benches and artificial trees. They sure did a great job of making the whole "scary hospital" vibe go away.



So, no sweat. I could just take a photo of Tyler on the front steps on day 2 of school. Right? Pfft. No, I forgot again. But I did stop in to his old class room and ask his teachers from last year if we could take a photo with them. Ty LOVED his teachers and misses them terribly. They happily agreed and we followed them out into the playground with their new students and I snapped this quick shot (Miss Trina and Miss Jo):

Awww! I just found out that Miss Jo left the school and took another job too. So sad. She was so nice. I haven't mentioned that fact to Tyler. I think it would really upset him if he knew she was gone. He still tells me now and then that he wants to go back to his old room.

So, here we are at the end of week three of school. Finally, I took a front step photo.

He really didn't have that back to school excitement this year since he never really LEFT school. We was still going there every day, they just called it Summer Camp instead. Next year I think I will take him out for a month or two before he starts kindergarten. I think he needs a real summer vacation so that he can really appreciate the excitement of going back to school (and I can get that really cute first day photo).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"Dream Homes"

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge topic is Dream Homes. I had a specific home in mind, but a fever of 101.5 for the last 2 days and crappy rainy weather put a damper on my plans to take a photo jaunt to Denville. So...

Here is another dream home I photographed on our last trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's a model home I fell in love with. Waaaaaaaay out of our price range, but hey - a girl can dream. I love looking at model homes. It takes that whole "Craftsman" style to an extreme.


I wish that white car hadn't parked there. It totally robs the photo of HOUSE impact.


Here's the pool in the back yard. I loved the gradual entry steps and the water fall.


I totally fell in love with this dining room furniture (just swap out the glass top table for a matching wood one).


This dining room window had a great view of the ocean in the distance, but I took the photo more for the bottles. I totally stole this idea and did the same thing with one of my windows here at home.


The breakfast bar area in the kitchen. I loved how the cabinets were double sided with glass doors. You could access them from the dinning room side or the kitchen and it let loads of light through (plus that awsome view).


Tyler loved the bathroom with it's HUGE clawfoot tub and the wide open shower with the nice built-in bench. The entire room was tiled - floor, walls, ceiling. A dream come true for a kid who loves to splash.


John really liked the huge den with it's pool table, hidden bar (note the sink, since the bar is closed) and the nice home office setup (you can't see that part off to the right).

The only room in this house I didn't like was the master bedroom. For most, it would be a dream with it's huge windows, awesome view, open access to the huge master bath and loads of sky lights. The room was flooded with light. We HATE that. We have only two windows in our current master bedroom, and that's two too many. We have blackout shades hung and a heavy curtain on top of that. John and I both love to sleep in total darkness. More like a cave, really.

I guess our dream master bedroom would be huge, but windowless. Maybe faux window murals painted on the wall to give the illusion of a great view.

I think most folks have pretty specific taste. They like a certain style of house with only slight variations on that theme. Me? Nope. I have a bunch of styles that I love. Here's a good example:




This was a house I looked at quite a few years ago. I wish I had higher res photos, but the pics were taken with the first digital camera we ever had (it was a door prize and a 1.5 mega-pixel, I think). Very contemporary! I loved the shower so much that I still dream of renovating and adding a glass block shower like that to our current house.

Go visit the other Robins...Linking List:

Gem
Journally Yours
http://journals.aol.com/libragem007/JournallyYours/
http://libragem007.blogspot.com/

Karen
Outpost Mâvarin - Posted!
http://outmavarin.blogspot.com/

Carly
Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly - Posted!
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot/

boilyou
Percolation
http://boliyou.blogspot.com/

Suzanne R - Posted!
New Suzanne R's Life
http://newsuzannerslife.blogspot.com/

Nancy
Nancy Luvs Pix
http://journals.aol.com/nhd106/Nancyluvspix

Maryanne
Inside The Gilded Cage - Posted!
http://insidethegildedcage.blogspot.com/

Steven
(sometimes) photoblog
http://sepintx.blogspot.com/

Patrick
Patrick's Portfolio - Posted!
http://patricks-portfolio.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Party, Party, Party!

It's official. I have a four year old with a better social life than me. Ha! He has been invited to a birthday party every weekend this month. Who knew September was such a popular month to give birth in?!

So far, we've attended two parties (with one more next weekend). I haven't bought so many toys at Walmart all at once in a while. It reminded me of Christmas shopping, except I bought 4 of each thing. I was surprised how hard it was to decide on what to get. They are all 4 year old boys, same as mine...so easy, right?

No. I know MY boy, but I have no clue what these other kids are into. So I went with an assortment of things for each boy. Age appropriate card game, a soft foam ball for tossing around inside as the cold weather sets in, a pack of travel sized containers of play-doh, a Matchbox car, and a NASCAR branded PEZ dispenser.

I was always more excited to get lots of little gifts rather just one bigger one when I was a kid. I hope they liked what we picked out, since no one seems to open gifts during the party any more. Which leads me to the first of many observations I've made...

1. I have no idea what kind of gifts the boys received, because the gifts were opened some time later. I also have no idea if they liked what we gave them, since we weren't there to see the expression on their faces. I know it's easier on the parents if they don't have to deal with their kid (or others) wanting to open and play with the toys immediately, but I really miss the excitement of watching a kid tear into wrapping paper and the look on their face when they love, or hate something. LOL!

2. Hardly anyone around here has a simple home birthday party any more. Most opt for having it at one of the local play places. (The party this past weekend was held at a home, but the parents rented this giant inflatable bounce-around castle for the back yard and a full sized cotton candy machine. Very cool.)

3. I am totally nosy about some things. I fell in love with the house the last party was at and wondered to John, on the way home, how much they had paid for it (they recently relocated here from California). He popped on Zillow.com when we got home and told me the appraised value of the house is $678K. Ouch. No way we'll be moving to THAT neighborhood anytime soon. Amazingly, John really liked the house too and said if it were more in our price range, he'd move. LOL! I'll never figure him out.

4. I encountered my first instance of anti-SAHM sentiment. One of the mom's commented to the group how glad she was to finally be at a party with only working moms (I wisely kept my mouth shut.) She said she hated SAHM moms because they were "boring" and she has nothing in common with them. She was enjoying talking about after-care (some place to stick your kids once school lets out) and commuter woes with the other moms. Hmm. I made a mental note not to be boring, if I could avoid it.

5. It's insane how much it costs to put on these birthday parties. $135 an hour at a local play place and that doesn't include any food, paper goods, cutlery or goodie bags. Every party has served pizza to both the kids and adults, cake and/or cupcakes, goodies bags loaded with cool toys and prizes, drinks and even a pinata... We'd better start saving those pennies NOW if we have any hope of doing a party for Tyler in November or December.

6. Speaking of pinatas... since when did they replace the good old fashioned "whack it with a stick" kind with these new-fangled "everyone pull a string until the magic one releases the goodies". Feh! Give me a blind-fold and a broom stick anyday. I've got bottled up aggressions, dude!

7. And speaking of Tyler's birthday... it's the weekend after Thanksgiving. Will anyone go to a party that is so close to a major holiday? The weekend after that and we are starting to push a bit close to Christmas (those working moms will be using every weekend to get Christmas shopping done). Not to mention the risk of poor weather. I'm thinking we should have a party in early November, but I'm just not sure. At least Ty has our now annual tradition of a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate his birthday with just Mommy and Daddy to look forward to.

We've thought about having a party there...but paying for water park tickets for a dozen or more people (kids and adults)? OUCH! Plus who will drive for 50 minutes to attend a party, even if it IS at a cool indoor waterpark in the winter.

*sigh*