Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today in my Infants and Toddler class we watched a short, 25-minute film on toddlers (kids 12-24 months). This is a movie they should show parents about a week before the first birthday party for their child. They should show it again at 18 months and again at 24 months. By the time the child is 3, the parent sits there, as I did -- chuckling. 

25 minutes of children pulling hair, biting, grabbing things from each other, avoiding hugs, giving more hugs than friends want, throwing things, making noise to see how noisy they can be, refusing diaper changes, pushing, hitting, shoving... and how, as an early childhood educator, you should deal with it.

X-man spent 3 months in his toddler room having periodical episodes of biting. He then had three major speech development times when he bit out of frustration because of his failure to be able to find the words.

And each time, as a parent, I was appalled, embarrassed, afraid. I just wanted the behavior to stop. By the time he was 2 1/2 X-man was pretty much done. Unfortunately, his last bite was on Pretty Girl's cheek. 

Now that I'm taking these classes I'm starting to realize how vastly normal he his. He has some definite strengths. He's amazingly capable on a playground. He enjoys painting and talking to people next to him while he's working. He is mostly using his words when interacting with people of all ages and sizes. But he's not the wonder child. He has huge tantrums when I say no. He still doesn't want his diaper changed, but isn't interested in the potty. And, if he's soaked his pants with urine, he doesn't even care to mention it. And on the days when "No!" isn't his favorite word in his vocabulary -- he just doesn't answer at all. And nothing drives this mother more crazy than being ignored.

The more experience I'm having with kids, the more I see how different they each are because of their temperaments. But the more experience I have the more I also see how very much alike they all are.

MacTroll said to me the other day, "It's like they're all running plays from the same playbook, and each parent has to crack the code."

I'm hoping by the time I get to 5, I'll be chuckling at 3... by time he's 24, I'll be chuckling at 21... Maybe, just maybe, I'll improve my learning curve, but I'm not betting on it. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Regular Monday

So, now that I'm free from the chains of disease, I'm getting back to the whirlwind that is my life. I'm rescheduling things that I had to cancel. I'm catching up on homework. I'm back to being the sole provider of everything to X-man for 99 percent of the work week this week, and it felt good. But I have to admit I'm slowly re-entering the housework area, and I'm focusing on the fun stuff, particularly X-man.

X-man is in love with the Tiger room. He loves being a big boy a lot, but he has some anxiety about the potty these days. We seem to have a great 2-3 weeks, then a big regression, and then another great 2-3 weeks. I'm not angry or frustrated, because I'm not the person on that mission. That's his last step out of babydom. All I can do is ask and support and jump up and down like we've won the lottery when he does it, so he knows it's a big achievement. He's not a bribery kid. No matter how much easier that track seems to be -- he's not falling for it. 

Today, when I picked him up from school, he was sitting on the floor in front of the bathroom. He'd just had a bowel movement in his pull up and gotten cleaned up. He was in the process of pulling on his new Pull Up and putting on his own pants. I waited outside the door and let him do it himself before going in knowing that had I walked in, he would have been desperate for help, when I know he can do it himself.

After school we met Curious J and Rogers at the park for our usual Monday at 4 p.m. playdate. The boys were very happy to see each other. So much so that they kind of ran around each other all giddy asking us where the other one was. Curious J gave X-man a hug at around minute 45 of the playdate. And X-man declared the play area with the telescope his home -- and he slept in one of the tunnels. Have I mentioned that he's all about the pretend play?

One of the things I love about my son is that lately he's bursts out a song whenever it occurs to him. So today, in his pretend house, he picked up a guitar and played a few riffs of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" while he sang along. He was running from the ladder to a medium-sized side singing "Fruit Salad" by the Wiggles. And yesterday, he was over the moon about "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on repeat. He gets so happy -- he sings.

I'm in the middle of planning two vacations that are almost back to back. We're planning on heading out to see our fave east coast relatives for Memorial Day weekend. Just a bit of a jaunt. Then on June 7th, we're planning on heading out west. MacTroll has to speak at Apple's WWDC conference or at least be a "directly responsible individual" for some sessions. So, X-man and I get five days in San Francisco by ourselves, before we head down to Morro Bay to see my friend Robin and then down to L.A. to visit KTDID and hit the Disneyland area.

I suspect the Pixar Parade and rides at the California Adventure Theme Park will make X-man pretty out-of-this-world happy. We'll have to see if he's got the guts to meet Buzz Lightyear in person. He's a little overwrought about characters. I was the same as a kid. I completely understand his anxiety.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Winter's Last Licks

I grew up in Rockford, Illinois, where I can remember having a snow day in 8th grade on April 26th and it being 85 degrees on May 2nd. I played too many soccer games in my youth dressed from head to toe, as I stood in the goal freezing my ass off and jumping up and down to stay warm, while flakes fell from the sky only to melt on the hard, dirt ground.

I'm used to thinking of winter as lasting November through April. I expect it.

But for some reason this year, I've been yearning for spring. Maybe it was my brief weekend in Arizona that made me start wishing for it. Maybe I'm just getting stir crazy inside my house after 12 days of being ill. But whatever it is, I'm watching the approaching snowstorm with a furrowed brow. 

I have tulips 5" out of the ground. I was ready to go to Prairie Gardens this weekend for some soil and compost. I wanted to open the windows and never worry about turning on the heat again. 

I'm being whiny. I know it. But I was sick through all the nice weather, and now that I feel like I'm finally pulling through -- I feel cheated because I had a fever through my whole spring break.

I guess I should remember that I only have 7 more weeks until the semester is done. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Questions for Utility Payers

For the last couple of months Ameren CIPS has been sending me notes about how I can sign up for their Power Smart Pricing. Instead of billing me for a standard amount for all watts of electricity my household uses, the company would instead bill me for the actual cost of the power when I used it. 

The idea being that it's way cheaper to use it late at night and early in the a.m. during the summer months, and during the middle of the afternoon in the fall, spring and winter months. 

You have to commit to a 12-month billing cycle to try it out. But I'm wondering how much "automatic" energy the house uses regularly and if it would make it worthwhile. For example, heating the water heater... Would it actually end up increasing my electricty bill because I took them off standard wattage? 

I think I could run the dishwasher at night before bed. I sometimes do. But sometimes when I'm on single parent duty, I'm so tired, I don't go back downstairs, and I end up running it at 7:30 a.m., which would be a higher price than at 9:30 p.m. 

I guess I'm wondering if anyone else has tried it? They give a statistic at the bottom that 99 percent of the people who switch don't go back to standard measurement after a year. 


I woke up pain free. Just now, in this moment, I'm feeling rather good. 

I'm going to use it for as long as I have it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From the Frontline

Today is Thursday. Today is day 6 of having a sinus infection and day 11 of me being sick, and you can tell all the laying about it taking a toll on me.

1) I rented a musical to watch last night. I hate musicals. Well, there are a few childhood favorites that escape the list (Grease, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Annie) and one adult surprise (Sunday at the Park with George). But for the most part, I spent my 20's in D.C. going to musical after musical hoping, but not finding one I'd ever consider purchasing an album for. 

2) I have used 4 boxes of Kleenex.

3) My son doesn't hug me any more. He just runs in and waves goodnight to me. When he comes in our room at 3:30 a.m., he's all, "Where's Daddy?" He's too sleepy to run down to the guest room to sleep with him, so he crawls into the far side of my king-sized bed. 

4) I have become a very expensive cat bed. I woke up yesterday at 4:40 p.m. covered in all four cats. This morning, I have Riley the dog at my feet (he's upset he didn't get taken in the car to drop X-man off at school) and Maya (the cat with the bullet in her back) in my lap.

5) The boys have stopped saying goodbye to me when they leave. They just go.

6) I went all day yesterday without talking to anyone. Until I got annoyed at something and had to try to call everyone to tell them my Grrr. 

7) Going downstairs for food makes me sad. Not only am I on my own, but I'm pretty sure this is going to play out that when MacTroll leaves for work next week, I'll finally be able to do things like stand up, drive a car, take my kid to school and -- I'll also be left with a tornado struck house. 

8) Spring break is almost over, and this is not how I wanted to spend it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Review of the Indianapolis Zoo

As a kid, I always enjoyed zoos. My grandparents lived very close to Brookfield in the suburbs of Chicago, and periodically we'd go as a family. When MacTroll and I moved to D.C., we'd spend the first really nice warm days wandering around the National Zoo. And if I have to pick between a Natural History Museum and a Zoo -- the Zoo always wins. 

So, last Sunday, on our last day in Indianapolis, we went to the Indy Zoo. For a toddler, it is a perfect-size zoo. It is not very big. You can walk whole zoo in about 2 hours, 2 1/2 if you get tickets to the free dolphin show. But for being such a small zoo, it's kind of expensive: $14 for an adult, $9 for a child and $5 for parking. There are also large signs up around the zoo asking you not to bring coolers or packages of outside food of any kind into the zoo, which I found pretty unfamily friendly, but no one searched my diaper bag, so I didn't offer up that I had a sippy cup of juice and fruit snacks hidden away in it. Also, if you're looking to avoid crowds, no one is at the zoo at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday... just so you know. The crowds tend to show up around 11 a.m. 

My favorite exhibit was Lemur Island, which is right next to the main food area. You can sit and eat your lunch (or illegal snack) and watch the lemurs play next to the flamingos. In the same area turtles are warming themselves and mallard ducks fly in and out. Lots of action going on in one central location.

X-man was pretty riled up about the rhinos, even though this one was asleep in the sun and snoring. :-) There's a bouncy suspension bridge in front of the rhino exhibit that he liked to run across. When he noticed the rhino was snoring, he said "1-2-3 WAKE UP!" But, of course, the rhino just slumbered away. He looked comfy to me in a nice warm sunbeam.

X-man was also into exploring the new and different stuff at the zoo. He found the binoculars fairly interesting, even though he was too short to see through them. And for the first time, ever, he was NOT afraid of riding on a merry-go-round.  Merry-go-round rides are $2.5o per person, and it's located right next to the petting zoo area.
X-man also enjoyed the fact that there is a playground on site. The park says it's appropriate for kids ages 5-12, but X-man had no troubles, except that he didn't want to leave to look at more animals. He wanted to stay and run and bounce. Even with 20-3o minutes at the park, he wanted to stay longer. MacTroll pointed out that he could play, for free, at a nicer park back at home, and reluctantly, X-man moved on.The exhibits were small, but well kept. X-man liked seeing a gibbon swinging around on top of an area while a half dozen otters scurried around at the bottom of the exhibit. He also enjoyed watching the giraffes eat breakfast and seeing an elephant out for a walk. The desert area is home to the cool meerkats, but the rest of it was pretty much unexciting finches and some cute tortoises. When we got to the end of the zoo, he asked for more animals... which is a sign to me that he's ready for a bigger zoo. He's not a toddler any more. Sigh.

Overall, it is a great activity, particularly since we were headed back home after lunch that day. It gave X-man some running around play time in a completely kid friendly zone. But I found it too small for the overall price, and I don't think it's worth driving to Indy to see by itself. In conjunction with something else makes much more sense. But if you want a stand-alone zoo experience and you live in Central Illinois, you'd be better driving the extra half hour to Brookfield near Chicago.

I have it in my head to get down to St. Louis this summer to see their zoo, which has free basic admission, but you can pay $10 for a Safari pass to see all the "add-ons." So, I'll have to go and compare.

Review of the Indianapolis Children's Museum

Last Saturday the family and I took a weekend jaunt to Indianapolis for a night. We left at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove right to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It is my hope that X-man will equate the word museum with fun and learning (because it's a huge source of frustration for MacTroll that I find most adult-themed museums boring).

The museum isn't the cheapest around. It cost $14.50 per adult and $9.50 per child (ages 2 and up). But parking is "free" in a large lot across the street, and the museum is very easy to find, although it's not in a heavily commercial area. So, if you're going to have lunch, you're going to want to eat at the cafeteria in the museum because there aren't any restaurants visible that are within walking distance. The museum is also NOT part of the Association of Children's Museums, so if you have a membership to ACM through your local children's museum, it won't get you in for free in Indy.

We arrived around 11:30 a.m. When we turned the corner to find parking, X-man saw the large dinosaur sculptures outside the building and started shouting, "I'm stuck! I'm stuck! Unbuckle me. Time to get out!" He was uber excited, but we still had to park. The parking garage was near full. We ended up on the top level in the sun. The skywalk to the museum was closed due to some construction/expansion going on, but once we got to the main lobby the wait in line for tickets was only a few minutes.  

I'm going to be truthful. We didn't get to see the entire museum. At just turning 3, X-man has a 2 1/2 hour time limit before he's ready to crash. Even if he thinks he wants to press on, the poor, little dude's coordination goes when he gets fatigued. But I will highlight most everything we saw including:

The Power of Children is an exhibit dedicated to kids who managed to make the world a better place. Kids like Ruby Bridges, who opened the door for kids of all races to go to school with one another and Ryan White who helped legions of people understand the horrific and unnecessary discrimination people placed on people with AIDS in the 1980s due to fear and ignorance about the disease. X-man was too young for most of the exhibit, where they have movies and real school re-enactments of what it was like to go to a segregated school. But what he did enjoy was the tree of promise at the front of the exhibit that allows you to type in a goal you have in your life and add it to the tree. He also dug the TV camera portion, even though he knew he couldn't read the teleprompter. :-) 

One of the new exhibits in the basement of the museum is all about glass art. I've seen these glass pieces hung in Las Vegas and in the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. Large, colorful, like huge pieces of coral. The Indianapolis museum has one hanging in it's main ramp/stairway area. But in the basement, it has put the pieces of glass into the ceiling and created a circular couch that spins so people can check out all the different sizes and shapes the artist created. There are replica plastic pieces with sculptures the kids can safely move around.It's no secret that X-man likes trains. Indy has a small train exhibit in the basement. It has a replica real-sized steam train that sits next to a pretend play station (which also houses the obligatory Thomas the Tank Engine Table). But next to it is a great model railroad set up. In this picture X-man is standing on a booster step to see up at the model trains. But you can also see an arch underneath where the kids can crawl under (the railway has multiple levels, including running on the ground under the arch). There's also a secret "pop up" where the kids who crawl under can stand in the middle of the train area and watch a whole different part of the track. Additional track runs along the ceiling of this part of the museum  as well.
There is also a large dinosaur exhibit in the basement of the museum that focuses on dinosaur fossils. X-man checks out the Dino nests here, where kids are encouraged to dress up as dinosaurs and interact with the eggs in the nest. There is a dino dig portion, but it is small and very popular. If you get to the museum before it gets busy, you may want to start in the lower part and let your kids have a chance to dig up some dinosaur bones before the crowds fall in. X-man doesn't like to wait in lines, so we promised him he could dig up bones at the Orpheum in their dino exhibit when the weather got nicer. The museum is in Indianapolis, so I think it's probably obligatory for them to have some kind of race car. :-) X-man was very excited to be able to touch all the wheels and pretend to fix it while he waited for his turn to climb into the driver's seat. When he tried to reach the pedals, he literally disappeared under the steering wheel. But he did drive it with lots of "vroom vroom" noises until he realized another child was waiting for a turn. Then he gladly climbed out and said, "Next driver!"It's also no secret that my kid loves to build, so the Lego Castle Adventure on the 2nd floor of the museum was a huge hit with X-man. There are two Lego creation areas set up for kids to build their own castles or castle gardens, there's a Lego throne for kids to sit on and get their pictures taken, a video screen with a large catapult for kids to design their own castle wall that will defend the castle against intruders. Once they've chosen their wall design, kids have a chance to wind up the catapult, aim it at the wall they created on screen and launch a large boulder at it to see if it holds up. X-man didn't understand why he'd want a strong wall. He wanted to watch the boulder crash through it. So, we let him set the parameters on the touch screen himself, and when the wall came crashing down he applauded.X-man did run into some issues with being the little guy at the Lego table. The big kids had all the better pieces and none of them looked up for sharing with a 3 year old. So, when X-man looked over and found the large, rubber Lego area was empty, he grabbed MacTroll's hand and got to work on a real wall.We ate lunch at the cafeteria. It had a wide variety of foods. A lot that were, of course, not healthy, like pizza, burgers, fries, etc. But I was surprised to find a fruit salad and a garden salad available. The lines weren't too long at 1 p.m., and we had no trouble finding a table to sit at. Prices were also not very steep.

There was also a comic book hero exhibit starring all of the usual suspects: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. Even the Incredibles made an appearance in the exhibit. X-man liked looking at all of them, but he didn't want to sit down and read comics. He wanted to somehow play with them, but the exhibit is set up more for older children who want to sit on bean bags and indulge in Captain America for a while.

When we left, we let X-man pick out a toy from the store. He picked out a small version of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (the new exhibit which opened on March 23rd was all about Space and Star Wars: Clone Wars). Here he is carrying his prize past the Lego builder guys that were hard at work building that day. 
Overall, it was a lovely museum. It is large, so if you have bigger kids, you can definitely, definitely spend a whole day there. If you think you'd be willing to take the whole family back at least three times during the year, it's probably not a bad idea to look into a membership. I think as X-man gets older, we might consider it. 

The Children's Museum is a good reason to put Indy on your radar for a visit. I do suggest trying it out on a weekday if you have smaller children to see if it's less mobbed. A Saturday during spring break wasn't my first choice, but it was my first opportunity to get him there, so we went with it. It was doable, but I think he'd have more fun and gotten to see more things if it wasn't so busy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sick girl update

I went to the doctor this morning. I have a sinus infection -- no surprise. He prescribed me some antibiotics (875 mg of amoxicillin), some mucinex and some afrin. He told me to take them with food, so I did.

2 hours later I lost my food, and the bitter tastes of the pills. I continued to vomit for over 2 hours. Then MacTroll ran out and got me a prescription for an anti-nausea medicine, which put me to sleep... but not enough to sleep, thank goodness. So I could still make it to the bathroom for a few bouts of diarrhea from being dehydrated. 

I've been up now for 2 hours. And I'm starting to get tired again. But holy moly, if it's not one thing it's another. At one point I thought it was a conspiracy by the medical community to kill me. Nice, right? That may just be the fever I've started to have.

At least MacTroll is home ALL this WEEK.

Sunday, March 22, 2009



Someone who can come over and rip out my sinuses. I'm afraid I'm headed back to convenient care tomorrow. Blah.

Sinus pressure from hell

We're in Indy for the night, and I'm having a hard time sleeping. My respiratory infection that turned into a cold now has sinus pressure from hell. The muscle in my left cheek actually hurts from breathing through my mouth all the time. I keep massaging it, but it doesn't help. Sudafed ain't even making a dent in this baby.

So the boys are quietly sleeping in the next room and here I am... online. How sad is that?

We went to the Children's Museum today. It's Saturday over spring break, so it was crowded, but there was a lot to do. I'll review that later. Tomorrow we're headed to the zoo.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Troubles of a Transient Town

Years and years ago, the way I understand it, people finished their education at whatever level they saw fit and started their working lives. A lot of them got hired in factories or companies or hospitals or universities, where they often worked 20-40 years. 

When retirement came there was usually some kind of party, a discussion about their pension and any benefits and some token of appreciation was handed out. 

No one does this any more. Everyone moves, moves and moves. And someone in my age bracket is likely to have 7 careers in her lifetime. I'm just about to start number 2... 

The University of Illinois tends to see a large number of people come into the town for educational purposes, only to watch them leave 3-5 years down the road after graduate or when they don't get tenure, or their research project ends or money runs out. 

Since we don't live in a big city, there's nothing else to absorb that workforce. When I was in D.C. there were several high quality universities between Baltimore and D.C. So, if you got your PhD at the University of Maryland it was not unusual to get a teaching position at American or George Mason or Towson or Howard. Or there were plenty of scienced-based organizations or companies, several thousands of non-profits or government entities to choose from in the non-university route.

But here, in sleepy Champaign. That diversity of employment does not exist. So people move forth -- to prosperity. 

The loss is never easy. I don't take losing friends well, and although I know it's a necessity, I wish things could be more -- permanent. 

Because when I imagine my kid growing up and always knowing your kid for a couple years and then realize if/when you move away they'll probably never remember each other, I get sad. I mourn. Because let's face it -- you don't meet that many quality people in this lifetime. And whatever magic Central Illinois has that puts them all here at some point or another is really pretty amazing. 

Mmmm, the claws come out

MacTroll picked up X-man from school yesterday. He was visiting the Tigers. Today is his last day as a Turtle. I've tried to explain that to him, but he's in denial. 

Anyway, the Tigers were all lined up to go outside when MacTroll went to get him. A few Tiger girls were standing near X-man in line. And one of them told MacTroll that they were not at all fond of X-man being in their class. MacTroll tried to explain that it was hard to make new friends, but it wasn't going anywhere with the 3 year olds. They know what they know -- which is undoubtably more than an adult.

X-man, like most kids, has the ability to be egocentric. When he feels like he's being over controlled he tries to be dominant, which no one takes well. He has a hard time sharing, and in comparison to a fluent near 4 year old, his language skills seem pretty primitive. He's male. He points and grunts a bit. Plus, although he's said he's had fun with the Tigers. He's made it very clear that he's upset about leaving the Turtles.

For example, he noticed another boy's name added to his chair the other day and wanted Ms. Krissi to take it off. He was in a panic about it. It was his chair, after all. And he had no intention of leaving it. 

I know that it's going to be a hard couple of weeks for  him. And I know that not all kids will be best friends. I guess it's one more thing I have no control over for him, and that makes me sad.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life through X-man's words

MacTroll came home this afternoon from a trip to D.C. and X-man immediately melded to his side. I guess having a sick mom for 5 days pretty much means that there's no time to put Daddy in the penalty box for traveling (usually he has little to do with him for 36 hours after a long trip).

Anyway, X-man is saying a lot of things that MacTroll's ears don't understand yet, since he's been away a few days. For example, X-man started talking about his goldfish, Gordy, who died. He also asked for his turtle bath toy holder a few times before I went down the hall and got it for him. 

But Daddy does lots of things Mommy doesn't do. He lets X-man eat pizza in the living room. He let's X-man sip from his diet ginger ale. He let's X-man sit in the tub for 45 minutes, even when he's given him the 1-3 minute warning three times over the last 20 minutes. :-) 

And since I'm sitting in my bed, hardly able to breathe because I'm so congested. I am thankful to have someone else on point tonight. I don't give a crap if there's pizza sauce on the carpet or that he's peeing in his bathtub. 

All I care about is that I can lie here blowing my nose with Clawdio, my awesomely soft cat, in my lap, without anyone shouting at me or pulling at me. 

Although he did come down after bath, blow me a kiss, and then turn around and ask Daddy for medicine and kleenex. He likes to think he's sick, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Falling Asleep in the Bathroom

I'm going to guess that X-man didn't nap today. He spent the whole day in the Tiger room, and the first thing he said to me in the car was, "Tigers are fun!" 

It was also the first thing he said when he spoke with MacTroll tonight on the phone. These are encouraging words since he's usually very miffed if I bring up the conversation of Turtle v. Tiger. Personally, I think he's a bit torn. 

Anyway, tonight at 7:30 p.m. he was eating some raspberries as a snack. Then he got upset because he wanted a sucker and I said no. He threw the raspberries on the floor in a fit. Since the state of my kitchen right now is basically post-tornado due to my illness, I asked him to pick up the smushed berries and throw them away. He screamed no!

I turned off the Wiggles and announced it was time for bath. He cried at first, and then relented. He played in the tub until around 7:50 p.m. when I told him it was time to clean up his toys and get out. 

He has a plantar wart on the bottom of his right foot, and every couple of days after a bath, I use a foot file to remove the dead skin. We are trying the child-safe duct tape removal method, but he keeps taking the tape off and refusing to let us put it on in the a.m. So, it looks to me to be getting bigger, which means I'm going to go to the drug store and investigate child-friendly possibilities, of which, I know there are none. But it's starting to hurt him when he walks around the house without shoes on, and with summer coming up, I'd like him to be able to go swimming, since the virus is contagious. 

Anyway, I always give him the option of filing his own foot, since he's three and wants to do everything on his own. He can then see that it doesn't hurt, if he's gentle. So he did that for a little bit, and then I got a few good swipes in, and then he freaked out.

I mentioned going to his room to read stories, and he started to cry. There were monsters in his room! Monsters in Mommy's room, too.

So I wrapped him up in a towel and hugged him while he cried. And then he fell asleep, at 8:15 p.m. in my arms, wrapped in a soft bamboo towel on the floor of his bathroom. 

I managed to get him to his bed and into a diaper a few minutes ago. Little dude was really, really tired. And now Mom gets a chance to take a shower. The pain in my lungs has subsided and now I'm draining. I can't hear very well, either. So I think I might be moving from the respiratory issues into stupid chestcold/headcold areas. 

So if you see me around town. Don't let me breathe on you. 

Things that make me feel better when I'm sick

I took X-man into school today, and as we walked through the halls, one of the Tigers (his new 3-year-old room starting on Monday) saw him. His eyebrows raised and he got excited. Then he turned back to the class and said, "I just saw Xander! Is he coming to our room today?"

It was like my kid was the bees knees for that little boy. 

I also learned from Ms. Jen that during his visits to the Tiger room, X-man has been waving to the Wonder Twins through the bathroom during potty time. (They share a bathroom with two toilets in it).

As for me, I'm still sick during these lovely weather days. I think I'm propped up by Dayquil right now, but I took a midterm in my Program Planning for Young Children class today, and I think I did pretty well.

Now I'm resting before I start in on my pro-bono projects.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Update: I have a respiratory infection that is likely bronchitis. Crap.

I'm up. 

I showered.

I brushed my teeth.

I have on clean clothes, 

and as soon as the nipper wakes up, I'm stripping my bed and putting on new sheets. 

Because holy cow, it was like I ran a marathon in my sleep.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Too beautiful of a day...

But I ended up sleeping through most of it.


Because I woke up with some kind of annoying flu. Chest congestion, sore throat, chills. I took X-man to school, turned in my homework at Parkland and turned right around. I had some hot chocolate (in the box, hot chocolate for those that are wondering) and took myself and Rileydog up to bed. 

And I fell asleep. I woke up an hour later shivering like crazy, even though I was under a feather down comforter. I was so cold that I spooned the dog for warmth. I woke up an hour later and had three cats lying on various parts of me. They're not fools. They know when their owner needs some lovin'. 

I set the alarm for 3 p.m. and it's good that I did, because I don't know if I ever would have woken up, except for the occasional hacking cough, when I rolled onto my back.

At 3 p.m. I snoozed the alarm. It took me until 3:45 p.m. to actually get out of bed. I got dressed, went downstairs, ate lunch, and at 4:50 p.m. I finally went to pick the X-man up from school. And holy, moly did I feel guilty about it. But I figured he'd rather run around with the Turtles or the Tigers on their playground than come home and be with a sick mom.

I was feeling better after my marathon sleep. Enough to stand in the front yard while X-man and our neighbor ran around for an hour. Then I brought him in for dinner. And he spent the night hanging out with an episode of Todd's World from the library and a library DVD of the Wiggles. 

He was great at bedtime. And now I'm sitting here, another cup of hot chocolate later, ready to turn off the lights. Riley is asleep and Maya, Clawdio and Nyssa are staring me down. 

It must be that time. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little bit better. I'd like to get a walk in if my lungs are feeling up to it.

Get Out and Play

Holy cow was Sunday a nice day. We took the family to Allerton in Monticello and took a 90-minute walk through the park avoiding flood planes left and right. And isn't it nice that X-man got to spend time with people other than just me.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Family fun

Both sets of skates were from my sister. :-)

A First!

Last night X-man was sitting in the tub playing with his toys when he told MacTroll he had to go poopy. This has happened a lot lately. MacTroll helps him out of the tub, readies his potty and then X-man sits and waits. 

Usually he ends up going pee pee and is generally surprised there's not poopy in the potty.

Last night, however, when he got up, there WAS poopy in the potty! MacTroll cleaned him up and then we all did the happy dance of praise. 

He started peeing on the potty in December. He was doing it pretty regularly in January, and then slid back all of February into only doing "exploratory" peeing. But this was a big thing for him. We're hoping that now that he's getting ready to go into a room at school where everyone is using the potty that it will be a regular thing by the fall. 

In other words -- no rush. But it was a huge accomplishment that he knew what his body was saying and listened to it. Hooray for X-man.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Putting the Fun in Funfair

Tonight, the family went to Westview Elementary School for their Fun Festival. Freak, who was one of the organizers of the event, pre-paid for our tickets so our money would stretch a little further. We played 8 games, had 3 pieces of pizza, one lemonade and a cookie for $6 total for the three of us. 

We got there a little early and played on the playground, where we met a couple of The Boy's classmates. They were very patient with X-man on the bouncy bridges and showing him how to do the trolleys. 

But my favorite part was that 4 kids were playing McDonald's underneath the play structure. One cooked the burgers, one made the fries, one ran the drinks and one was a cashier... there was one obvious problem to this game -- no customers.

So I knelt down and ordered some food. And as quickly as possible, a heap of playground mulch was presented to me. I handed them a tree seedling for cash and walked away. X-man watched. When I came back, I ordered McNuggets, apple slices and a diet coke. X-man dove into the structure and came up with the apple. 

Then, after realizing there might be too many cooks in the kitchen. He became the customer. He ordered his fries, apple slices and chocolate milk. And MacTroll and I stood there and stared. He was playing WITH the big kids in his new favorite past time: pretend play.

At 5:25 we went inside and got our tickets and dinner. Then Freak showed up and we chatted with her mom and Lizzie before Carrie disappeared and came back with Quigs' brood. 

I wanted to spend more time with them, but when X-man heard the games were starting he threw away his garbage, wiped his hands and face and grabbed my hands chanting, "Game time! Game time!"

So off we went. The first games we played were the choose a duck game. X-man chose a duck, saw he had a star and picked a star prize. Then he got to go fishing, where he got a rainbow fish and a little yo-yo. He raced from game to game eager to hand people his tickets and take his turn. In 30 minutes, we'd used all 30 of our tickets. We'd thrown sticky spiders. We'd launched ping pong balls off of mini catapults. We played skee ball. We searched in a treasure chest. We played tic tac toe with bean bags, and we RACED pigs.

At first I thought racing small, stuffed mechanical pigs was silly. But X-man thought it was awesome, especially when he got to hold his pig and kiss it for good luck. He got third place, but still got a prize. 

Overall, it was a very bright and cheerful evening. When we were out of tickets, it was time to go, and X-man didn't put up any kind of fight. 

But he had a really good time. A big thank you to everyone in the Westview Elementary family who helped put this on. It was great fun, and we'll be back next year.

Oh, TV, I do not understand you.

In 2004, I canceled my cable immediately after the WB show Angel went off the air. It was the only thing that MacTroll and I watched, so there wasn't any reason to keep it on. 

Then a couple years later, iTunes started carrying TV shows. I started watching two shows. One that had been canceled, Firefly. And another which was still in production, Grey's Anatomy.

I loved them both, for obviously different reasons. But I purchased the seasons (Firefly only lasted 1, but Grey's Anatomy was about to start it's 3rd season when I started watching) and watched them and rewatched them.

Then the networks finally started letting you view shows online for free with a few commercials. 

So, for the free price I decided to give Ugly Betty and Bones a try. Then later Private Practice. And truth be told, now I can't stand any of these shows. I keep trying week after week. But this week was the first time I turned off Bones. I also turned off Ugly Betty. Grey's was annoyingly stupid, as it has been ever since Meredith almost drowned. Even How I Met Your Mother appears to be lacking big time this season, and it was one of my solid funny shows.

In a time when Champaign is talking about hiking the sales tax from 3 to 5% on cable subscribers, I have to wonder how many other people will be turning off their TVs. They already can't afford to vacation anywhere that's not a day trip. I guess it's a good thing that spring is upon us, so we can all get out and play rather than feeling trapped by the wicked weather.

But still, there's a recession going on... you can't tell me that L.A. isn't flooded with out-of-work writers who could write these shows back into the hearts of their former fans. Cause right now, the writing's not worth paying for the electricity of powering up my tiny laptop.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Too freaking much for one freaking day

X-man is starting to visit the Tiger room at school. He didn't like talking about it. He's a man of action. He apparently got to go visit them from 9:30 until 2 p.m. today. 

Ms. Holly and Ms. Krissi said he did fabulous. He apparently was all snuggles with Ms. Sonya (who he had in the toddler room for five months before he moved up), until naptime, when he decided he was not going to sleep in a strange place. Instead, he tried to test the Tiger teachers' patience by jumping up and down on his cot. (Anyone remember when my son got three stitches under his chin from jumping on a cot last December? How about when he fell off of one at 18 months and got a black eye? He clearly has no adaptive response.)

When the Tiger teachers didn't let him get away with it, he insisted on using the potty... every five minutes for all of nap time. 

I guess I should be happy he wanted to use the potty, right? He's in the Tiger classroom full time starting March 23. But they said he had a good time.

In other news, I took Maya, our big, fuzzy cat, into the vet today. Her urinary tract infection came back. She still has blood in her urine, but her white blood cells are good and she no longer has pain in her bladder (so at least the antibiotics she was on for two weeks did her some good). But she's still peeing in our basement and our shower. So now she gets quarantined into our bathroom as we try to dilute her urine because she has cystitis.

But the most important thing I learned about Maya today? I knew when we adopted her in 2003 that she was an abuse case. What I didn't know was that she HAS A BULLET JUST BELOW HER RIB CAGE. It's not causing her any pain, nor is it in a bad place. But seeing those x-rays was just crazy.

Love and Hate

Things I LOVE:
1. When X-man falls asleep holding my hand to his chest or his face.
2. Coming home to a house I didn't have to clean.
3. When my husband picks up after himself and follows through on a project like say, his laundry.
4. When X-man tells me he loves me without me saying it first.
5. When I get a call from an old friend who is excited to talk to me no matter how long I've been out of the loop.
6. The 2 hours I get alone a day to either do homework or work on housework without someone pulling at me.
7. When I get to walk with my dog in the morning. 
8. When all my cats are happy and healthy.
9. When X-man is excited to go see his friends.
10. That my son's teachers are amazing, and I love how much he loves them and vice versa. It's a huge peace of mind to know that while I'm at school they both have a respectful, responsive and reciprocal relationship going on.
11. Warm potatoes on a cold day.
12. My car.
13. That tomorrow is Friday.
14. That some guy checked me out today while we were both waiting to turn left at the red light going out of Parkland. 
15. That I really enjoy my classes and think I'm going to love working full-time again in a couple years.

Things I Hate:
1. That there is no way to get onto I-74 at Mattis.
2. That one of my cats has a UTI and is peeing in my basement (two have been tested so far this week). 
3. That my husband is teaching our son not to pick up after himself. 
4. That it is impossible for me to walk out of Target without blowing over $100 on stuff that we actually need (cat litter, laundry detergent, etc.)
5. That no one seems to say thank you any more.
6. That I have to clean my house for Saturday by myself.
7. That for some reason there aren't any cool black couches that aren't gigantic. Seriously. I just want something that three people could sit on, on an easy clean fabric for less than $1500.
8. That my son has learned to tune me out.
9. That my husband has chosen to tune me out.
10. That I'm trying to find something to find comfort in besides food, and I keep coming up empty (other than the idea of just getting in the car and driving away).
11. That Busey is changing over their banking system which somehow requires me to do something... why can't they just make it automatic without me having to register with numbers I don't remember and have to look up.
12. That I've set my clocks like 12 times this week due to time changes and power outtages.
13. That as often as I recycle things, throw things out, give things away and donate things, I still have too much stuff in my house to have it look orderly.
14. That X-man is still in his dump everything out on the floor stage.
15. That the weather got cold again. I really got pretty high off the sunshine. I could use that again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turtle Serenades

X-man's friends in the Turtle Room serenaded him for his birthday. I caught a few of them. 

One, Two, Three

At 10:19 p.m. tonight, X-man will be 3. I said happy birthday to him today. He freaked out. 

"Not today! My birthday coming up!" 

So I think it's the idea that he likes the idea of his birthday in the future and not the past, but isn't quite ready to deal with celebrating it today. I think he feels the same way about moving up to the three-year-old room soon. He's going to go from a Turtle to a Tiger. Grrrr! :-)

So, if you see X-man today, please just tell him "Hi! It's nice to see you. I hope you have a wonderful day!" Feel free to throw in an "I love you" if you feel it. 

I.e. Avoid the happy birthday jargon. And I think he'll have a great day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yeah, He's My Kid

X-man was around 12 months old the first time an acquaintance actually saw him with my husband. Her response, "Oh, he makes sense now."

What she meant was that standing next to me, X-man and I don't look too related. Mostly because besides the structure of his eyes, the fact that his ears lobe and that he doesn't have a monobrow (all pretty good traits to get from my genetic code) he looks exactly like his father.

But yesterday was X-man's third birthday party, where I watched, with great anxiety, my son emulate me in ways that pretty much felt like someone taking a baseball bat to my head. 

He was so excited about his party and the arrival of Nana that he couldn't nap, which is never good, but in a situation like this makes things 10 times worse. Then when we were getting into the car to go to the party, he stalled. He wouldn't look at me in the eye. He was having a quiet internal freak out where pretending to fill the air on the tires on my bike seemed way safer than going to a party in his honor. I hugged him and asked him if we was worried. He insisted he was happy.

But when everyone arrived... he started to cry. Every 10 minutes. Like clockwork. He melted down. 

He didn't want to share. He didn't want people looking at him. He didn't want other kids touching him. And unfortunately, kids he's most loving to -- namely the Wonder Twins -- got the brunt of the birthday anxiety. He didn't want to be the center of attention. He suddenly wanted to find a quiet corner and have some alone time. And I didn't know how to get him through it. After some awesomely designed cake from the Cake Artist's Studio, he finally settled down and seemed to be in a better mood. It helped that MacTroll sat with him in his lap while they had cake and some fruit. And let's face it, sugar is a great equalizer for kids. At least the pushing and the tackling stopped...

After the party, when the room was cleaned up, we got in the car and went home. I was wiped. I could hardly think. MacTroll said when he signed the room release so we could get our deposit back that the woman said to him, "That's the quietest 3-year-old birthday party I've ever heard."

I think her nose probably grew a foot when she got into her car. :-)

Of course, this morning he's all happy to see his toys and balloons and to play with his Nana. And it looks like it's going to be a glorious day to try out his new T-ball set in the yard, while Mom scoops a whole winter of dog poop up.

A really big thank you to all the parents and kids that were patient with him yesterday. I swear he's not a spoiled brat. He just isn't used to everything focusing on him. He's much more comfortable as part of a pack hierarchy, where he's not the top dog, but he does have some good attributes. Like group hugger. He's a great hugger.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Recommendations Needed

So, um, I'm in search of a good fat-free, low-calorie salad dressing. 

If you've got a suggestion, please pass it on to me in the comments. I always used the light dressing from Paul Newman and Annie's Naturals. But now I'm going even further. 

And I'm getting tired of plain balsamic vinegar, lemon/lime juices... Please help me out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Look Puppies!

My friend Barb, who lays out the CCHS e-newsletter that I help write, posted on facebook a blog about foster puppies from a friend. Tom and Harriett have fostered over 1,000 rescue animals, and currently have a family of lab mix puppies in their care. 

So, if you need a little lift to your day and like animals... check out Tom and Harriet's puppies. They're 2 weeks old and uber cute. 

But I have to admit, I think their momma is a whole lot cuter than they are. :-) But I've always been more of an adult animal adopter. 

Monday, March 2, 2009


I'm almost through my second week of not eating out. It's self-imposed, as I'm roping in some winter comfort eating habits. 

But I went too long today after going to class and then shopping at Toys R Us. And the whole way down first street I'm thinking, "Oooh, Fiesta CafĂ©! Oooh Zorba's!..." 

I made it home. I'm eating my healthy lunch with my Fresca.

And I'm trying to pretend it's El Toro.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Whose mother are you?

That's my boy there: Grabby Crabby McGee. He doesn't take no for an answer.

Some kind of parasite has leeched onto my child. He's in my face all the time, pulling on my arm, jumping up and down. We play a game for 20 minutes. He wants to play more, but Mommy's had enough. So she says, "No, thank you." 

He immediately tries to drag me to some other part of the house to do a game that is way more developmentally appropriate with someone his age (like driving his sit on cars in a race around the house). Even with lengthy play dates, he won't back down. Sometimes, he doesn't engage with the kids and still only wants me to play. I feel like we're saying no to him a lot, but that's more because he's asking every 2 seconds.

"Race cars, Mommy."
"I can't right now, sweetie. I have to run the dishwasher, but when I'm done we can play with cars on the little people garage."
"No, Mommy! Want to race cars around! Come on, Mommy, come on!" (small child pulls my arm, my shirt, my hand).
"After I'm done with the dishes--"
He closes the dishwasher.
"Come on, Mommy!"
"X-man, I hear that you want to play with Mommy.'
"Mommy wants to play with you, but I can't play until my chores are done. So after the dishes are put in the dishwasher, I can come play, okay?"
"No Mommy! Now!"
"No, X-man. Go in the other room and color..."

And what should have been a 4-minute chore turns to 20 with all the begging and pleading. 

See what I'm talking about... sigh.