Christmas Recap

So I was going to call this a holiday recap, but really, what is there to say about Thanksgiving?  We cooked, we ate.  Done.  So onto Christmas.

Last night was our friend Christmas celebration, which signals the end of the holiday season for me, because I am too old and tired to stay up until midnight tonight.

I learned/observed several things this season:

  1. Writing in lists makes me happy, because it doesn’t require transitions.  PowerPoint has killed my ability to write transitions.  If only my book could be written in bullet points, I would be all set.
  2. We have too many friends/family members.  I need a bigger kitchen to cook for them, a bigger table to seat them and a bigger house to store all the crap they buy my children.  But life does not suck.
  3. Walking in the city is far harder for those whose legs are 3 feet long.
  4. The tree at Rockefeller Center is far less impressive than you remember.  My son said “Wow.  Can we go to the toy store now?”
  5. I have to interrupt this list for an important news update from the boy –  “Do you know that you have to say butt to say butt-erfly?”
  6. Ice skating is not like riding a bike.  You forget how to do it.  Take my word for it.
  7. Feeling obligated to bake cookies stresses me out.
  8. My daughter is just a little bit bitchy.  She can talk just fine, especially if you buy her things, like “Lalaloopsy dolls”, which she can pronounce more clearly than her own name, which she still refuses to say.
  9. I would suck as a food blogger.  I do have some yummy recipes to post, but of course I have no pictures.  By the time I am done cooking, I am far too tired and hungry to whip out the camera.  Deal with it.
  10. If changing batteries didn’t require a screwdriver, more toys in my house would still work.  One set of batteries is the usual limit.  Not sure if that means I am thankful for screws or resentful of them.
  11. I may need tranquilizers to help my kids with their building/craft toys.
  12. He who shall remain nameless bought two GIANT nerf guns for my kids (5 and 2.5 years old).  Watching my son pelt him with foam bullets made my year.  It was also pretty great watching my daughter shoot this giant gun while wearing a princess dress.

Hope your holidays were half as good as ours were!

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Sometimes going to work is a welcome respite

When people ask me how I would describe my 2.5 year old daughter, I inevitably use some combination of the following words, (depending on how well behaved she was that day): stubborn, bossy, independent, resourceful.

However, lately, the word that best describes her is clingy.  That girl is on me all the time.  I know, I should treasure these years, because when she is older I will have to bribe her to spend time with me.  And I know she just loves me and I should be grateful for that.  And I am grateful and appreciative of the attention at least a few hours a day.

But in reality, I would like to sit for even a few minutes without 40 pounds of warmth on my lap (forcing my arms and legs into a position that is most pleasing to her), I would like to pee alone at least a couple of times a day, and I would like to go into the kitchen for a drink without having to carry her with me, and I would absolutely love it if she would allow my husband to change her diaper or help her do anything.

Instead, all I get is: “Mommy do”; “I want momma”; “I want to seat on momma’s wap”; “I come wit you, momma”; “I want to help you momma” and on and on.

And then when I am at my breaking point, she cuddles up against me and says “Hap-py, I hap-py” and I feel like a terrible person.  Master manipulator and she’s not even 3 yet.  I am both super proud of her and very, very afraid.

FYI – After her visit with the speech evaluators who said she didn’t qualify for early intervention, she added a slew of new words to her vocabulary, lending credence to my “she’s just a little bit bitchy” theory.  I bought her a pair of pink fuzzy boots yesterday and suddenly she can say “boots”, the color “pink” and “Wait til daddy comes home and sees my boots.”  Last week she seemingly had no idea what boots were and all colors were purple, with that devilish smile.

So today, my boss gave me the option of staying home, but I decided to forget that I had a choice and head off to work for some peace and quiet, a chair I could sit on alone, and a bathroom door I could close and lock.

I returned home refreshed and ready to host a carpet picnic, play an assortment of board games and read multiple stories.  I am even excited about working from home tomorrow, even if I have to type with one hand, because my lap is full of “hap-py” toddler.

The joys of Christmas morning

The great thing about Christmas morning is how the kids are too excited about Santa’s or Ho Ho Ho’s arrival to sleep another second.  They run into your room full of smiles and boundless energy, begging you to wake up so they can start digging through their presents.

What’s not great is when your husband’s snoring makes it impossible for you to sleep or attempt to sleep for another second.  Next year, he’s getting a stocking full of Breathe Right strips and nothing else.  And it’s a big-ass stocking.

Anyway, I hope all of you were woken up by your little people this morning.

On the bright side, at least I will be caffeinated by the time my daughter squeals “baby” every time she opens a present with a doll in it.  And I can watch A Christmas Story in peace!

 Merry Christmas!

Some recipes…or not!

So I said I might post some recipes here.

Since I was the first one up this morning, I thought it would be a good time.

I posted links to the recipes (and included the full recipes), I wrote cute little stories and I included pictures of the stuff I remembered to photograph.  I hit preview and it was gone!

Not to be deterred, I started again.  I posted links and full recipes, I wrote cute little stories (shorter this time) and I included pictures of the stuff I remembered to photograph.  I made sure to hit save draft and then hit preview.  And it was gone!

Feeling frustrated but still obligated to give you some recipes, I started a third time.  But this time, I posted links and some pics.  No fun stories, no full recipes. I hit save draft and preview and it was gone!

So screw it!  Find your own damn holiday baking recipes!  You all know how to Google.  But now you know I tried (really hard) and I should get credit for that, right?

Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!

I think the holidays may be driving me crazy

Yesterday was my last day of work before Christmas.  After work, we took the kids to see Santa at the mall, who looked authentic but was rather grumpy.  Side note, why is everyone comparing the authenticity of the Santas in the area this year?  That thought never occurred to me.  Does he have a red suit?  Check.  White beard – real or fake?  Check.  Santa good.  What else do you need?  My daughter wouldn’t even go near him without bursting into tears.  I doubt she would have checked his beard for glue.  I would rather have a cheery guy with a fake beard anyday.

Then we got the kids to sleep after a spirited reading of The Grinch Stole Christmas.  It was about 9pm when we started going through the Christmas checklist:

1. Realize we forgot stuff we desperately needed – pan for my homemade fudge, tissue paper, wax paper, etc.

2. Cry and send husband to store (1st sign of insanity)

3. Start the chocolate peppermint patty cookies and refrigerate the dough for an hour, as instructed.  A whole hour!

4. Make the fudge – think it looks crappy but refrigerate it anyway for 2 hours.

5. Sort some presents for husband to wrap.

6. Start making the peppermint patty cookies with sufficiently cooled dough.  Realize wrapping dough around tiny little patties is a royal pain in the ass.

7. Cook them, realize they are adorable and delicious.

8. Start making gift bags for the teachers and school office people.

9. At 12:30am, say good night to husband and decide that the brown butter brown sugar drop cookies will be a breeze after creating all those individual cookies.  (second sign of insanity).

10. Realize that brown butter takes awhile to brown and even longer to COOL.  Why are all these recipes obsessed with cooling.  Realize it is now around 1:30am and I am waiting for butter to cool.  Seriously?  Do some laundry, because why not?

11. Make the cookies.  Hey, they are easy.

12. Fill out invitations for my son’s birthday party with his friends that we have planned for when he is roughly 5 years and 1 month old.  I am a sucky mom who didn’t realize that 2 weekends of holidays in December would make booking a weekend party in early January downright impossible.  Realize that I am too tired to follow simple instructions on the invitations like Date, time, RSVP to, etc.  Forge on anyway.  Thankfully, we had extra invites.

13. Let the cookies cool.  Eat one and realize it was worth staying up late to eat them.  Finish cookie boxes for school.

14. Instead of going to sleep at 2am, decide it’s a good idea to watch Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.  (third sign of insanity).  But those kids are so damn cute!!

After getting approximately 4 hours of sleep, I drop the kids off at school and have a glorious hour all to myself.  I decide to nap.  Then my head starts doing the math.  If I nap, I won’t have time for coffee before my kid’s holiday party at school.  Have the following thoughts: I am tired, I should sleep, but I am too tired to function without coffee.  But I am tired so I should sleep.  NO, COFFEE WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING!  So here I sit wasting valuable nap time drinking coffee and updating my blog.  (fourth sign of insanity).  Side note: Even my dog is napping.  I apparently kept her up too late last night with my craziness.

If I am feeling extra insane later, I may just post some recipes.  They are yummy!  So glad I gave all the cookies away.

Happy birthday to the tiniest thing to ever change my life

5 years ago today, my son surprised me by making his appearance.

The night before I was actually waddling around a research facility in New Jersey until about 10:30pm.  I knew I was starting to feel different, but not in a bad way.  I couldn’t describe how I was feeling, but I remember telling my husband that the kid wasn’t going to make it to January.  My back was killing me as per usual.  I had actually been working from home for weeks already, because my boy had been killing my back, pretty much since I started showing and the commute was crippling me.

We had big plans that weekend.  We were going to meet with the pediatrician, pack my bag and get the nursery ready.

The next morning, I had a routine OB appointment at 8:30am.  I woke up late and was having trouble squeezing my 8 month pregnant body into the washroom to dig clean socks out of the drier.  (We still mostly live out of the drier, FYI.)  I found 2 socks that were the same, but different colors.  Since I was tired of bending over, I figured they would be good enough for the appointment.  When I got back home, I would dig around somewhere, to find either the matching black sock or the matching white sock.  I hid them behind some boots and figured no one would notice.  You could tell I already wasn’t thinking clearly, because I was going to an OB appointment, which typically requires removing one’s shoes among other things.

So that was the first time I was asked about my mis-matched socks.  They did the ultrasound and decided the kid wasn’t growing well enough, so they hooked me up to a machine to monitor the baby’s heartbeat.  I called into work with this strap stretched around my belly to tell them I was going to be late.  Then the doctor decided I needed to go to the hospital for further monitoring.  Worst case, he said we might have to induce the next day, which wouldn’t be a big deal, since the baby was already 34.5 weeks along.

I remember asking “Can I go home and get some breakfast….maybe change my socks?”  He was purposely relaxed and said “No, you might have to wait awhile so you should head straight there.”

So we did.  As we were waiting for a doctor to see us in the maternity ward, I heard sounds I never wanted to make.  I began wishing that I had read that last chapter in the What to Expect book.  Finally, they had a room ready for me.  We went in and they hooked me up to similar monitors.  They asked about my socks too.  But it quickly became evident that something was wrong.  More nurses poured into the little room and people were rushing around.  Apparently, they couldn’t find a heartbeat and my blood pressure was spiking, so they took some blood work.  They said he needed to come out NOW, via a C section, because he wouldn’t survive labor.  I started to cry and my husband calmly excused himself and went to the bathroom, where I could still hear him throwing up, although I appreciated his efforts to hide his terror.  The nurse thought I was crying about the C section.  I remember saying “I don’t care about you cutting me open.  You just said my son might not survive.  That’s why I am crying.”

They told me they couldn’t wait for my blood test results and would have to knock me out totally for the birth and began setting up the OR.  My husband looked relieved that he wouldn’t have to watch.  But the blood tests came back just in time and I was able to stay awake for his birth.

They strapped me to a table that made me feel like I was being crucified and they pulled my little guy out of me…and put all my organs back in.  I remember thinking he took forever to cry, but he eventually did.  And his APGAR score was nearly perfect.  He was so tiny, 4 pounds, 4 ounces, but also totally perfect.  My husband held him up to my head and said “I have Transformers bigger than him.”  We then went through our little checklist – he’s healthy and not ugly and something else, I forget.  We did a little high 5 about our luck and they whisked me off to a dark room, and took Danny off to the NICU with the sick babies, because he was apparently too small to hang with the normal kids.

I felt so lucky that I had that doctor appointment that morning and I thanked my mom and grandma up in heaven for watching out for my baby.

I wasn’t allowed to move or see him or hold him, because they were terrified I was going to start having seizures, because of my dangerously high blood pressure.  I was devastated and the nurse couldn’t understand why.  She reminded me that I was okay and so was he.  But I missed him terribly.  It was the first time I had been away from him in 8 months.

I cried and cried when I first got to hold him about 36 hours later.  He was so tiny and perfect and the first baby I ever held.  While his small stature made other people nervous, I quite liked it, because it meant he was easy to control with one hand, leaving my other hand completely free to jump in in case of emergencies.  We spent days visiting him in the NICU, listening to the neonatologist talk to the other parents about all the horrible things that were wrong with their babies and we counted our blessings each time they came to check on Danny and merely said “And he’s tiny.”

He wasn’t the easiest baby to deal with, but I loved him more than I knew was possible.  We had planned for him for years.  We thought we were ready, but we had no idea what we were getting into.  But I wouldn’t change a thing!

Love you lots little man!

I fear puberty

My daughter doesn’t talk as well as her older brother did when he was her age, so we made arrangements to have her evaluated.  The case manager is coming on Wednesday.

But now, she has me wondering, is she truly behind or just kind of bitchy?

She always gets her point across, but uses a combination of made-up words and multi-purpose words.  For example:

  • If my daughter were to say “Danny, that’s my chair”, she would say something like “Nya-nya boy, that’s me down.”
  • If she wants you to pick her up, she says “Me down.”
  • If she’s done eating, she says “All down.”

In her world, “down” is the ultimate word.  It means up, down, chair and done.

She also rarely calls anyone by their actual names.  As mentioned above, Danny is “Nya-nya boy”, her friends Charley and Ava at school are respectively “Baby” and “Sheisha”.

When you ask her what her name is, she emphatically replies “Baby” over and over again.

But today, Charley came over for a play date.  Instead of calling her “Baby” like she always does, she called her Charley.  When I asked Charley what Samantha’s name was Charley answered correctly, as I had hoped.  I thought she might provide a good example for Samantha, so I asked Samantha what her name was and she said “Amantha” without a moment’s hesitation.  I was thrilled!  She had finally learned how to answer the question people have been asking her for the past year and a half.

After Charley left, I was eager to show her daddy her new trick, so I said “Watch this (full of pride)…Samantha’s what’s your name?”  “Grampa” with devilish grin.  “No, Samantha, what’s YOUR name?”  “Gramma” with a giggle this time.  “SA-MANTH-A, what’s your name?”  “Mamma” with full-out laughter.

To make a long story short, I hate her and my husband and I are planning to escape the second she starts menstruating.

Making Cheesecake-filled Strawberries with a toddler “helper”

Tomorrow is Danny’s birthday party and this kid loves strawberries and cheese, so Samantha and I set out to make these Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries from Nutmeg Nanny:

I cut and pasted the below recipe.  My comments/narration are in italics.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries:

1 pound large strawberries (mine were less than large)

8oz. block cream cheese – soft

3 – 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Graham cracker crumbs (I used a bag of those Scooby Doo Graham Cracker sticks that look like dog biscuits.  I smashed them up with a potato masher while Samantha grabbed at the bag, yelling “NO, my kwakas!!”, but I managed to shake her off)

Instructions:

  • Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry.  Remove the top and clean out inside with a paring knife if necessary.  If you want to stand your strawberries upright slice a bit off the bottom. One strawberries are prepped set aside.  (Samantha helped me by making sure that no strawberry innards went to waste.  That kid also loves her some strawberries.)
  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla with a mixer or by hand.
  • Add cream cheese mix to piping bag and fill strawberries. (I used a sandwich bag with the end cut off, because I am not fancy enough to own piping bags.  While I was doing this part, Samantha helped out by turning me in circles and running through my legs and yelling to surprise me from the other side….so they look kind of crappy.)
  • Once strawberries are filled dip the top in graham cracker crumbs.  (I sprinkled the crumbs on top, because dipping was more than I could handle with the aforementioned toddler running between my legs screaming “MY kwakas!”)

Then I proceeded to suck the leftover filling out of the hole in the sandwich bag, which was mighty attractive, but I can now tell you with authority, that these guys may look crappy, but they are sure to taste delicious!

Mega Bloks may just send me to jail

So my son got this for his 4th birthday last year, from someone I have since threatened to kill.   I was wise and hid it until he was old enough to play with it.  If you look closely it says for ages 6+.

Unfortunately, the little bastard found it and has been begging all of us to help him build it.  Everyone else dumped out the box, chose a random bag to open and said “No chance in hell, kid” or probably something more kid-appropriate.

I decided to help.  I figured he was nearly 5 and very smart.  We could do it.  It might even be fun!

I am apparently the dumb one.  As I sorted through the half opened baggies that were at some point numbered and organized and flipped through the instruction manual (that is thicker than the one that came with my car), the kids decided to “help” with the building.

I know, building with the kids is the whole point, right?  Well, when half the pieces are smaller than my pinky nail, there is no fun.  It’s down right panic-inducing.

I found myself feeling possessed.  My 2-year-old grabbed one of the miniscule blocks and tossed it over her shoulder and I looked at her, paused while my head spun around and growled “Do NOT touch that!”

Eventually, 40 minutes into this little adventure after much cursing, I figured out how to get the kids to “help” in a less destructive way, by having them sort all the pieces.  Twenty minutes later, I finally finished a key component of the castle and sat down to relax, while the kids played with the little cannon.

The second I turned away, there was the sound of crumbling Mega Bloks and a sweet little “oopsy!”

I spun my head around again, grabbed the pile of blocks my castle had become and threw them back in the box, declaring us done building for the night.  (And yes, after an hour of building, it was MY CASTLE!)

I think I even convinced my son that the gift-giver would be sad if we finished the castle without him, so he who shall not be named will be very busy at my son’s birthday party this Saturday.  My son said I am not allowed to kill him, so torture is the next best thing.

After all of that, editing my book should be a breeze!

Letting my babies out into the world

So last week, I finished my first draft of the book.  It is not 50,000 words and it was not finished during the month of November, so I technically lost National Writing Month, but I feel good about what I accomplished.  As a good friend put it – I wrote a damn novel, so I totally won.

I made a Facebook post offering my friends a chance to read and comment on my first draft and a surprising number of people said they were interested.  So I have sent it off to them.  I wonder what they will have to say.  I am filled with both anticipation and dread.

Thinking of sending that baby out into the world and my boy’s upcoming birthday has left me feeling nostalgic.  5 years ago, at this time, I was as big as a house, with swollen feet and an aching back.  I was counting down the weeks until I could get this damn baby out.  But I had yet to read the whole chapter on labor in the What to Expect Book.  Just the list of facts was enough to make me edgy.  Besides, I had over a month left to go, so I thought I had plenty of time to work up the nerve to keep reading.

Little did I know that my little guy was impatient (and he still is) or just too damn eager to please his mommy (and he still is).  We were originally trying to get pregnant in time to have a tiny little bundle of joy in time for Christmas, but it took a couple of months longer than I had anticipated to make that happen, so he wasn’t due until early January.

But the boy was eager to make my dreams come true, so my husband and I spent Christmas Eve crying over a pile of presents we had yet to wrap, out of sheer exhaustion, while our tiny 4 pounds and 4 ounces of beautiful baby boy slept upstairs for a whole 2 hours.

Now my baby boy is a big boy and I can’t wait to celebrate with him.