Saturday, December 31, 2005

Trains, Planes, and Trucks Oh My!

If it moves and has wheels or an engine, Ian is interested. He absolutely loves anything involving transportation. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, wagons, bicycles, and especially trains to mention a few. If it moves and can transport something, he's hooked.

First thing after waking up, Ian has to play with his newly acquired train table that Santa brought him. He gets so engrossed in connecting the magnetic train cars and pushing them around the track, that I have to drag him away to eat breakfast. Usually tears are involved, although Paul and I have learned a one minute warning definitely helps with the transition. The second he is released from his highchair, off he bounces towards the train table.

Ian also loves to play with his bigger sized cars, trucks and train too. He pushes them around and lines them up like they're in a race. I frequently see him lying on the floor intently watching as the wheels go round and round. The latest newly acquired skill is for Ian to sit under a chair and move the vehicles between its legs. This is funny to watch, especially when he is finally ready to move out from under the chair and finds that his head is stuck, poor thing. Some whining, and "umm," his word for help, and mama comes to the rescue.

The interesting thing is that this obsession is not limited to actual toy cars, trucks, trains, etc. He even loves to look at books with this subject matter. It's so cool when he brings me a book and curls up in my lap to share it with me (because of course I and everyone else must have this obsession too). One of our favorite games is to say a type of vehicle and have him point to it. He's very proud of knowing the names of so many! Even in picture story books, where the topic involves something other than transportation, he keeps a watchful eye for the things he loves. One book in particular titled, "It's Too Soon," about a little rabbit having to go to bed, has a couple pages showing a car on a bookshelf. As soon as we get to those few pages, Ian gets very excited and says, "Caa, caa." Interpretation: car, car.

Ask Ian if he wants to go bye, bye, and he's off and running for the door shouting very clearly, "Bye, bye!!!" This kid loves to travel around in a car. I've heard other parents groan about having to lug their offspring anywhere. As for Ian, are you kidding? He knows that bye, bye means an opportunity to get out on the road and see the very things he loves. Sometimes we even luck out and get to see a real live school bus. Oh boy, when that opportunity presents itself, he squeals with delight and kicks his legs like nobody's business. A school bus sighting will absolutely make his day.

It is so cool to watch Ian play with his toys and be a total boy. But the really neat thing to observe is when he doesn't have his toys and has to use his imagination. When he starts to fill up during a meal, he loves to take his food, start driving it around his tray making engine noises. In restaurants, Ian grabs a straw and drives it around the table and under the place mat which of course makes an excellent tunnel. That cheese stick? A definite airplane once he stretches his arms upward adding sound effects to boot.

His preoccupation with all things transportation has certainly made it easier for Paul and I to think up a theme for his new room. When baby sister arrives and Ian is ousted from the nursery, he will absolutely go nuts when he sees all the trucks, trains, and planes covering the walls and bed. At least that's our hope to help make the transistion go a little smoother.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ian's Fan Club

Let's face it, he's cute, he's fun, he's pretty much always happy, he's hilarious to watch and interact with, he's even cuddly at times. Of course Ian has a fan club and it continues to grow. Anyone who meets him is instantly won over by his charms. Complete strangers in the store can't help but ooohh and aaahh over him (granted where I shop they're all retirees). Whenever given any attention, Ian immediately beams his beautiful smile and waves. Hearts melt and the conversations begin.

I would like to declare myself as club President (although certain grandparents may want to fight for this position), but his two biggest promoters have to be his cousins 7 year old Allison and 4 year old Madison. They absolutely go bonkers whenever they see him! Ian will run to the door to greet them and wham, they're on him. Hugs, kisses, high pitched squeals. It's a bit overwhelming for the little guy and he tries to get away to no avail. They've got him in a bear hug or have picked him up to carry him unwillingly about. Eventually, things settle down and Ian can briefly move about the house again of his own accord.

This is not to say Ian doesn't reciprocate those feelings towards his cousins, he does. He's just got the disadvantage of being smaller, at least for the time being. Once the girls begin playing with his toys, he's watching their every move. He follows them around the house trying to be a big kid just like them. I love this because his development grows by leaps and bounds. On a day before their visit, he won't show interest in playing with certain toys. But once the girls have gotten their pretty, sparkly nail polished little hands on it, he's all over it, figuring it out. It used to take him a good two to three minutes to climb up or down the stairs. Not any longer since the girls came over to spend the night. After watching them zip up and down those stairs, he's got it mastered in under 30 seconds.

Ian's in a unique position. On my side of the family he's the youngest cousin, at least for the next 3 weeks until baby sister comes. Once Paul's brothers and their wives start having kids, he'll be the oldest cousin on their side. This gives him the advantage of learning from those older than him, and at the same time learning to care for those that are younger. The older cousins adore him for being so small and cute, the younger cousins and siblings will adore him for being so attentive and caring.

And so, Ian's fan club will continue to grow, for certain when baby sister arrives. I just know he'll be the most awesome big brother and she'll whole-heartedly love him, at least until he learns to give her noogies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What I Loved About Christmas

What a great Christmas! There was so much going on, but what I loved most...

1. Ian's face showed so much excitement and his wee leggies would kick, kick, kick as we drove around and saw lights on people's houses.

2. Paul's loving attention to both Ian and myself. This man is a saint for doing so much over the holidays. No wonder Ian and I absolutely adore him.

3. Christmas Eve we celebrated at Paul's parents' house. All the brothers were together thanks to Sean moving back (he even brought a wife). Ian loved bouncing back and forth between his aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The house was full, but there was still enough room for future COUSINS, hint, hint.

4. At Paul's parents' house, we had Christmas sushi, a tradition. Yummy! Don't freak out about my being 9 months pregnant, it was all cooked.

5. Christmas Day we celebrated at my parents' house. And again, all the siblings were present thanks to Tony and Diana moving their family back. Again, Ian loved bouncing between aunts, uncles, and grandparents, but he absolutely loved playing with his 5 older cousins.

6. Ian was so funny when it came to opening presents, he wouldn't. Last year we could prop him in front of a package and he would tear the paper. This year, forget about it. We would have to open the present for him, then he would be interested once he saw what it was. Of course, he became completely absorbed in playing with the toy and wouldn't even look at the next present. So again, we would have to open it for him, and then he would become interested.

7. I loved watching Paul help Santa build Ian's wooden train table. We were up until 3 in morning, and somehow I never heard any swearing coming from the living room. I think Paul is just as excited as Ian about this present!

8. I loved waking up with Paul Christmas morning and listening to Ian babble/talk in the other room. He's so cute! He always wakes up happy, and loves to jump in his bed. He gets some serious air time doing this.

9. The presents I received were AWESOME! People were too generous.

10. The day after Christmas, I was able to get together with my lifelong friends for a girls' day. We've known each other close to 30 years. We saw Pride and Prejudice (loved it, total chick flick and I needed tissue at the end), ate at Pei Wei (one of my favorite restaurants), gabbed and laughed our tushies off!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Baking Frenzy

'Tis the season to bake, bake, bake, and need I say it, bake. I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I instinctively have to bake during the month of December. Perhaps I was brainwashed as a child. After years of smelling cookies baking in the oven and being tempted by plates of them lying around, I firmly believe my brain has been programmed by my parents to bake, bake, bake. It's almost like therapy. I honestly relax while I whip out a batch of cookies, or two, or seven, whatever.

However, on Wednesday, the therapeutic benefits went out the window when my motorized cookie press bit the dust. There I was, cookie press full of wonderfully red tinted, almond flavored dough (one of my favorite recipes), and then...nothing. I tried everything I could think of to get it working again; changed the batteries, took it apart and cleaned out every little crevice, whacked the motor a few dozen times. I even read the directions in the manual for Pete's sake! Still nothing. It had pressed its last cookie and it was time to retire it. I sadly relinquished it into the trash and decided to get a new one.

And found a new one I did. What luck, only a couple of days before Christmas and I was able to find a cordless cookie press. Sorry, no manual presses for me, thank you, I only go high tech. The beautifully illustrated box showed an amazing assortment of cookie and dessert possiblities, and stated, "Ergonomic Design, Powerful, Easy." SOLD! I couldn't wait to try it out. It even came with a recipe booklet, so I had the opportunity to try out a new spritz cookie. I mixed up the dough, loaded my newly acquired cookie "gun," and pressed away. Huge disappointment! The box claimed "powerful." Powerful? I swear I had to let the poor thing rest after each cookie. You could actually hear it gasp between pressings. Worse yet, the cookie itself was, how shall I say it, lacking in flavor. Blah!

So, do I let this deter me from accomplishing my mission of baking until I'm committed? No way! Hey, it's only Christmas Eve. I've got at least another batch to spew out. Just ask Paul, I have yet to make the one batch he craves, poor man. He has patiently waited through the whole process. I fear if I don't make the one kind of cookie he requested (chocolate raisin with vanilla frosting and sprinkles), he'll retaliate and I will have to change all of Ian's diapers over the holidays.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Visit to Santa: Cha-ching!

Being good, lemming-like parents, we took Ian to see Santa. Our boy did a great job waiting patiently in line. Fortunately, there were two girls waiting in line behind us to thank for this. They entertained Ian, and pretty much the rest of us, by performing some clapping games. You know, "Miss Suzy had a steamboat," and such. These girls knew their stuff! They even incorporated little dance moves into their play. Ian was mesmerized.

Then we reached the sign listing picture packages and prices. Paul and I had to pick our chins up off the floor. Holy cow! I swear there were loan officers available. Example, one 5x7, $13. Ouch! I now totally appreciate all of the Santa pictures I have received from family and friends over the years. The packages were named "The Santa Special," and "The Mrs. Claus Special." I'll say they're special, they're raking in a lot of dough!

Paul paid for our pictures, while I got Ian out of his stroller to familiarize him with the procedure. I was hoping that if he saw how the other kids were ok with sitting on Santa's lap, that he wouldn't freak out when it was his turn. After all, sitting on a stranger's lap, let alone a guy in a funny, red suit, can be quite scary on a first encounter. Ian really didn't pay much attention and got extremely wiggly and wanted down. Finally it was our turn and we walked over to Santa. He waved, smiled and picked up Ian. Ian was very unimpressed. In fact, he looked down right stoic. He just sort of stared off as Santa tried to talk to him. In the picture, Santa is smiling sweetly, while Ian looks numb. That's my boy, indifferent about famous figures, even Santa Claus! I'm sure next year it will be different.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bah, Humbug!

This posting is dedicated to my dad, who appears gruff, but is really a giant teddy bear. He is definitely a hard person to read at times. And yet, through his actions you know just how much he cares about the people in his life.

The other day, he was over at my house watching me print the Christmas letter I typed up for my mom. He was also entertaining Ian so I could work uninterupted. Out of nowhere he stated, "Tina, you know that present you got your mother? Put my name on it too, and that will be it." Of course I gave him a quizzical look, and he restated, "I mean it!"

He doesn't know it, but this crushes me. Part of Christmas is giving people who are near and dear to you a "present," no matter the size or form it comes in. It's really more symbolic than anything, and it doesn't mean you go and hike up the credit cards. At least this is how I see it. I can see my husband Paul nodding his head in approval as he reads this, especially the part about the credit cards.

My dad constantly worries about his kids, and for the most part we have given him reason to. However, I would like to think my actions the last three years or so have shown I have done a lot of maturing. Being a parent, I also realize that you probably do spend your life worrying about your offspring, it's in the job description. So dad, I understand what you're trying to tell me, but realize this, I want to show you how much I appreciate all you've done for me. No matter what form my "token" gift comes in, it is meant from the heart. You may lecture me that you don't need anything, but I need to give you something. There WILL be a present for you under that tree! Merry Christmas, and I love you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Scary Night

Last night put Paul and I to the test.

We put Ian to bed directly from getting home after visiting some friends. He had a very busy day and was exhausted. He had spent the previous night at my parents, then we went to the cookie decorating get together at Grandma Jo's, and ended the night going to my friend Stella's house to view her fabulous Christmas light display and decorations. Kudos to her husband Tom for doing all that work outside.

By the time we pulled into the garage, Ian was asleep. When we pulled him out of his carseat, he felt warm, but we figured it was due to the extremely warm coat he was wearing. Paul got him into his pajamas, lowered him into his crib and he curled up with his blankets and went right to sleep.

Being exhausted parents, Paul and I got ready for bed. I fell asleep immediately, while Paul read a book. Later, I'm awoken by Paul rushing out of our bedroom and into Ian's room. I have no idea what is going on. A minute later, Paul pokes his head into our room and asks for help. When I walk into Ian's room, I see Paul quickly removing all of Ian's sheets and blankets from the crib, and poor Ian sitting on the floor shaking with some residue vomit on his sleeves. We comfort him the best we can, get him into a clean sleeper and give him some Tylenol for his fever. He cried through this whole process, obviously feeling miserable and tired.

I decided to stay in Ian's room to keep an eye on him while he slept. After about half an hour, he seemed fine and I went back to bed. Needless to say, we're awoken by the sound of Ian crying. He had vomited a small amount and felt extremely warm. I scooped Ian into my arms to console him. This only upset him more. We decided a bath might calm him down and help lower his fever. He cried harder and harder. We sang to him, talked to him, cuddled him, nothing seemed to work. Paul and I felt helpless not being able to comfort our baby. Ian was obviously tired so we put him back to bed and he immediately fell asleep.

Fortunately, Ian has slept through the rest of night, and is even asleep now as I type this up. His fever seems to have dissipated, hopefully for good. If anyone has ideas of how to comfort a sick baby, please share them with me. Being somewhat new at this since Ian has only had colds in the past, I would greatly appreciate other people's knowledge in this area.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

I am finally in the holiday spirit thanks to a few things that have happened and are happening in my life.

Paul, Ian and I regularly drive through nearby neighborhoods to view Christmas light displays.

We went with good friends to view the Mormon Temple's light display.

Last night, Paul and I went to his work's Christmas party. This was hosted at the Wrigley Mansion and needless to say it was beautiful!

Today, Ian and I get to "decorate" sugar cookies at Grandma Jo's. I use the word decorate loosely predicting that Ian will mainly be eating the cookie and frosting the table. Gosh I love him so much! I am really looking forward to this event since I'll also get to spend time with my dear friends, some of whom I haven't seen in over three months. Mental note, take a camera!

Hopefully today, Paul and I are taking Ian to see Santa. I can't wait to see Ian's reaction when he sits in Santa's lap. Oh yes, get the camera ready. :-)

Also today, I hope we can stop by my friend Stella's house. She has enslaved her husband to put up Christmas lights around the house. This I have to see! I wonder, how much will her electric bill be for the month of December?

Tuesday night, Paul, Ian and I are going to the McCormick Railroad Park in Scottsdale. There's a train you ride through the park in order to view their light display. Oh, how Ian loves trains!

Friday, my nieces Allison and Madison are coming over to spend the night. These girls are so funny and always make me laugh. I know they'll love to make any silly Christmas craft I put in front of them. I have really missed doing such things since I quit teaching.

I am blessed with such wonderful friends, family and events in my life!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Shoe/Foot Fetish

I had to share this picture and tell its story.

Lately, Ian has shown an unusual interest in feet and shoes. The boy is obsessed! If he notices I'm without shoes, he finds some and brings them to me. I'll be busy cooking, when suddenly I feel something being pressed up against my feet. When I look down, there's Ian trying desperately to put a shoe on my foot. Usually I'll accomodate and lift up my foot, and he'll slide the shoe on. Sometimes it's flipped backwards, sometimes it's for the wrong foot. Sometimes he's trying to put shoes on me when I already have on a pair. It always cracks me up.

My favorite episode, was one morning when I was wearing my Looneytunes Taz slippers. Ian loves to play with these slippers. Once he saw I was wearing them, he had to have them. And yet, he knew his dear, beloved mama needed to wear shoes. Next thing I know, he has grabbed a pair of sandals for me and pushes them against my slippered feet. Now that was some great problem solving on his part!

On the night that this picture was taken, I wasn't exactly cooperative since I was trying to capture the moment on camera. As you can see, he's not exactly happy with me.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mama Of Toddler Learns a Lesson

Mommy Rule #1: Never, absolutely never turn your back on children armed with food.

Ok, ok, so I didn't heed these words of wisdom.

Ian and I are in the kitchen today baking cookies. He of course gets hungry, and I feed him something healthy - blueberry yogurt. He has recently shown me that he can feed himself using a spoon. At first, he's confidently using his spoon. A couple drips of yogurt are around his mouth, but other than that all is well. My mistake lies in thinking I can turn around to continue scooping cookie dough while he eats. I glance over at him and he's holding the yogurt cup up like he's drinking from it. No big deal, I've done this once or twice when I didn't have a spoon handy. I'm thinking the kid is brilliant, so I go back to scooping cookie dough. Then there's this soft giggle. I glance at Ian and notice his blue mouth. That's fine and to be expected, so I go back to the cookies. Then it dawns on me, the container looked empty. I look and his tray is fairly clean, his bib is clean, but his crotch is another story. Ay caramba!

Lights, Camera, Action

Last night we went to the Mesa Mormon Temple to view their spectatular display of lights. Our friends Chris and Beth, and their beautiful 13 month old daughter Riley went with us. Ian was extremely excited that Riley was in attendance. Whenever another child is present, he pretty much just tolerates us adults and focuses on the other kid. Needless to say, he absolutely adores Riley.

We parked, got out, and found Riley had fallen asleep on the trip over. Oh well, there was more than enough visual stimulation in the light display to keep her awake. Chris and Beth woke her and put her in a stroller, while Paul and I decided Ian could and should walk around to burn up some unused energy.

And burn up energy he did. The minute Paul set him down on the sidewalk, Ian took off running! He didn't really pay attention to where he was running, so he ran into lights, poles, plants, strollers and people. I have to say, everyone he ran into was more than understanding. A huge thank you to everyone for their patience. Now, I have to admit, I love to watch this little guy run, although it's not really running. It's more of a bounce and wiggle at the same time. When he races ahead of us, his little butt wiggles back and forth so much, you can't help but laugh.

While Ian sprinted, Riley relaxed. She kept saying "Ah, ah, ah," as she looked at all of the lights. Very sweet. Eventually, Ian got tired of just running and decided he should be the one to push the stroller. Poor Riley had no choice in the matter. Ian took over, pushing with one hand. Of course this caused the stroller to eventually steer left or right depending on which side he was pushing. Paul and Chris tried to compensate and help out, but Ian wouldn't hear of it. He kept pushing their hands away. Finally, someone got both of his hands positioned on the stroller. Huge mistake! This only made his steering worse and Riley was lunged in every direction. Actually, I think she really enjoyed it for the amusement park ride it turned out to be.

We had a great time looking at the light display, and highly recommend it. Bonus, it's free, except that you have to sell your soul to the missionaries. :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Bunco, Baby!

Tonight I needed therapy. Tonight I needed to scream until my vocal chords were raw. Tonight I needed to embrace others. Tonight I needed to feel the warmth of friendship. Tonight I needed to feel my heart race as opportunity stared me in the face. Tonight I needed to laugh my big butt off. Tonight I went to BUNCO!!!

Ah yes, bunco. A chance for us girls to gather, gab, giggle, gorge and gamble. Where the dice rolls along with our bellies as we hoot and holler at each others' luck or misfortune. I find it quite amusing that a number of us will do the silliest things to get the roll we want. I've witnessed dice being thrown across the table, ritualistic shakes, pep talks and threats addressed to the dice themselves, and even, dare I say it... rubbing those poor dotted cubes against the players chests. (Anyone male reading this is now drooling!)

All joking aside, this is serious business. Money is at stake. And mine keeps disappearing. I mean really, how hard can it be for me to occasionally win a meager little pittance. You know, just enough moola to keep me coming back. It's downright sad that I go home and have to face my husband empty handed.

Despite my misfortune, I continue to go, why is that? Of course it's not the money, it's the companionship of good friends. These women are downright hilarious, and I always find myself laughing until my sides ache. I consider this my aerobic workout for the week since I am usually out of breath and my heart is racing. I bet at least 1,000 calories are burned during those nights. I'm surprised this hasn't caught on as a class at nationwide gyms.

I always look forward to bunco night. It's a chance for me to step out of my wife and mommy shoes, and be one of the girls. I get to let my hair down, laugh, scream and be all out silly. This does my soul good, and my family reaps the benefits.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nightly Rituals: Welcome Home Dada!

I remember back before my 18 month old son was in my life, having a very sad nightly ritual of eating, TV, and sleep. Ian, thank you for coming into my life...

Ritual #1: Welcome Home Dada!

About 5:00 pm, I try to put together a dinner. Try being the operative word since I'm still in the beginning stages of learning to cook. A big thank you to my family for their patience. Ian, being the most wonderful toddler in the world (No, I'm not biased, this kid is amazing!), is usually independently "reading" books or playing with his trains, trucks and cars. Ok, ok, I have to admit there are times when he needs the electronic babysitter for entertainment to keep him out of the kitchen and touching the stove. What a bad mommy am I!

Eventually we'll hear the familiar screech of the garage door opening, signifying that Dada (a.k.a. Paul, my husband) is home. Ian looks at me with a huge smile, sweetly says, "Dada," and then runs to the laundry room door that is the passageway to the garage. He's squealing with delight and impatiently bangs on the door. The anticipation is too much, so he runs around the couch to release some energy. Finally, Paul opens the door to find a very excited little boy bouncing up to him. The look between their faces makes my day. Paul scoops him up, hugs and kisses are exchanged.

That's when the fun begins. While I finish cooking dinner, Paul chases Ian around the house. He throws his arms into the air, gets a wild look in his eye and growls. Ian shrieks and runs off with Paul in close pursuit. Of course the whole idea is to be caught, so Ian stops and turns towards Paul, waiting. Flying, acrobatics and tickling follow. The house is filled with laughter, a sound I never want to forget.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Carpe Diem!

Being a stay-at-home mom has left me somewhat out of touch with adults. A dear friend has inspired me to try a blog in the hopes of regaining contact with the nontoddler world (although I am sure most of my topics will revolve around one). Also, being 8 months pregnant, I find myself an incurable insomniac in need of something to do. I refuse to do the nesting thing while hubby and baby are peacefully asleep. Can you tell I'm jealous?

I hope this blog gives my friends insight into my life. I'm not always the best at communicating what goes on in my life. Plus, we are all so busy with family and jobs, it seems we can never get together. I cherish the time we do see each other, for these beautiful people are not just friends, they are family.

This blog also provides an artistic outlet. Not that anyone would know it, but I love to write. (See, dear friends, you are already learning something new about me.) I'm not a writer by any means, in fact I am probably in dire need of a class or two, but I'm going to give it a shot. After all, what did we learn in school? In order to become a better writer, you have to write.

And so my blog begins...

Why Carpe Diem? I absolutely believe in seizing each and every day. My twenties were a time of "finding myself." It was almost like my own Dark Ages. Sure I went to college, got a great teaching job, and found myself married. Great accomplishments, right? However, I think I spent those years doing more or less what was expected of me. I didn't take the time to really think about what I wanted outside of a job. I absolutely love teaching, but more on that in a later blog.

That decade was spent just living, not asking what else is there? Or, when I did occasionally "dream," I didn't stand up for myself and go for it. At the time, I was too afraid of change. My life was safe, unhappy at times, but safe. I still had a lot of maturing to do, and most importantly, I needed to find courage within.

I finally awoke in my early thirties. I started speaking up for myself and voicing my opinion. This caused great turmoil in my marriage. Needless to say, it ended in divorce. My life was no longer "safe," and yet it was saved. There was no certainty, but there was endless possibility.

The paramount desire was to have children and family, funny in that I was avoiding it so much in my twenties. I didn't care if I had to go to a sperm bank, I was going to have children! Fortunately, I took a much more exciting road, I fell in love with Paul. We are married, have a wonderful little boy, and are awaiting the arrival of a baby girl.

In sharing this brief synopsis of my life, I'm hoping to get my point across... Carpe Diem! I spent over ten years trying to figure out what would make me truly happy. I also spent that time slowly finding my voice so I could take a stand. My family and friends that have always had this strength are my heroes. They have shown me what is possible. I don't regret what I have experienced, just that it took me so long. Now, I treasure each day and its possiblities. Only I can ensure that my day is memorable. This doesn't mean I'm white water rafting the Colorado every day, just that I do what is important to me. Today, that means hugging, kissing, loving and spending time with my husband and baby. Carpe Diem!