Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Letter Maker

Last week in PreK, C's class focused on Anansi the Spider stories.  I wasn't very familiar with Anansi, but C tells me he is a "trickster" and there are lots of stories about him. One of the stories they read was about Anansi's children, all of whom have interesting names that describe their special skills ("see trouble", "river drinker", etc). For an activity that day, each of the kids drew a picture of what their spider name would be.

When I dropped him off the next morning, hanging on the wall amidst the ballet dancers, train builders, and taxi drivers was...
When I saw his creation, I couldn't help but smile at what he came up with. Anyone who knows C at all will realize exactly how perfect his choice was. Because how could my alphabet loving, early reading son be anything else?!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rainy days are here again

Ugh. Another day of constant downpours. This is already the wettest March on record, and we're expecting a few more inches of rain today. I can see water starting to seep into the basement again, just like it did two weeks ago.  I spent several days learning to love a shop vac back then, and was hoping to never put those skills to use again! As of five minutes ago, there is only a small trickle of water slowly coming in through a crack in back stairs. Not enough to start cleaning up...yet.

So, for now, I think curling up on the couch with the boys, scarfing down some homemade chocolate chip cookies, and watching The Princess and the Frog is definitely in order.

I guess there are still a few good things about rainy days!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Budding Ansel Adams?

One of C's favorite birthday gifts was a kiddy camera.  He's had a great time taking pictures of his favorite things. Here's some of his work.

The TV (a study in perspective). 
No photoshopping here--he rotated the actual camera to get his angles.

Lightning and a leg                                                     


Of course, O wanted a turn with the camera too. Here is some of his work.


His Own Ear

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Out of the Fog

Last night Hubby said, "You really need to update your blog! You sounded so despondent in your last post, and things are much better now!" And indeed, he was right. We persisted in potty training O, and I'm so glad we did. We made steady progress from that point forward, and this week has been completely different from last week. O's had 2 days in a row without any accidents at all, he's stayed dry through the night, and is now the one initiating trips to the potty. I'm sure we'll have some missteps along the way, but for now, things are great!

But while now I am bursting with pride and success, my last post was an accurate snippet of how I was feeling just a few days ago. Parenting is hard, and can easily make one full of self doubt. And I'm sure there will be many more times that I am convinced that I am doing everything wrong. Some days just feel like I'm walking through a cloud of fog, desperately trying to make it to the other side, even though I'm not sure what awaits me because I can't see that far ahead. I keep pushing forward, hoping that I haven't gotten turned around. That I haven't lost my way. That I'm not just wandering aimlessly in circles. Because I have two kids holding onto my hands and following my lead. So I can't screw it up.

I can only hope that in the end, we all get to where we want to be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Potty training stinks.

This week we embarked on potty training O. Potty training may bring out the best in some mothers, their compassion and patience only fueled by the challenge ahead.

I am not one of those mothers.

I have a tendency to get very frustrated and want to give up. All the potty training advice is to make sure that your child is really ready, and also that you (the parent) are ready. With C, I attempted to wait for both of those things to be true. When he first seemed ready, O was an infant and I wasn't interested. When I finally came out of that "new baby" stupor and was ready to train him, C had lost interest.  So I waited. And waited. And waited. And when C was 39 months and was learning to read, but still had no interest in the potty, I knew it was time to put my foot down. If I left it up to him, he'd never choose to disrupt the status quo. C trained fairly quickly after that, but I am not sure the battle over it helped anyone. I was quite sure I had waited too long, did this and that wrong. It certainly was not an experience that helped build my confidence.

I was determined to do a better job this time around. O has already been waking up dry for a couple months now and seemed interested in underwear, so I figured we'd give it a shot. I loved the idea that he would be successfully trained by his 3rd birthday next month. The first two days went pretty well. He was motivated to sit on the potty frequently and had a lot of successes. He was enjoying his sticker chart and looked forward to opening a prize left by the "potty fairy" the first day he had no accidents. But after that things went downhill. He hasn't wanted to sit on the potty at all, and screams "I don't have to go!!! I don't have the feeling!!!" all day long, even as he's doing the pee pee dance. I don't feel like struggling with him, and forcing him to sit when he doesn't want to, so I let him off the potty after a couple minutes of protesting. Only to see him pee on the floor 2 minutes later. Which makes me question everything. I knew he had to pee! Should I have made him sit for longer even though he was screaming? Let him get off and put him back on 2 seconds later? Is he just not ready? But he's having a lot of successes, and only 1 or 2 accidents a day! Isn't that progress? Do I need better bribes? Am I just not paying close enough attention? Am I paying too much attention? My 5 year old told my MIL on the phone, "Mom doesn't care about me at all, she only cares about O" because I've been spending so much time in the bathroom with his little brother! Isn't that a sign that I am just failing both my children?!?! 

I am soooo ready to just quit and try again in a couple weeks/months.  The wrench in the works? O doesn't want to go back to diapers! He wants to keep wearing underpants. And he says "No Mommy! I want to keep trying!" Maybe he is ready. And maybe I'm not. But I think now we're stuck. If only there were a patience pill I could take. I sure do need something!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do you know how to spell FLUMP?

C and O called me over to the kitchen with great excitement yesterday. "Look Mommy! Look what we spelled!!" They were so proud when they showed me how they had arranged their refrigerator magnets to spell "FLUMP". And I cheered!

You see, "flump" is a word that O made up to describe sliding down the stairs on his bottom. I think it came from the thump, thump, thump sound it makes as his bum hits each step. And C quickly caught on, picking up both the word and the activity. Both boys are both perfectly capable of walking down the stairs, but sometimes they just like to flump! They even have flumping races. This morning, O slowly slid across the living room on his bum. When I asked him what he was doing he said "I'm flumping, Mommy!" Oh. I didn't realize one could flump just anywhere. I had previously assumed it was only stair related.

And despite the fact that my spell checker is lighting up all over this post, I was thrilled when the boys spelled FLUMP on the fridge. Why? Because even if it's a made up word, they spelled it out phonetically, and it made sense. And that's pretty impressive to me! I am quite sure their spelling is correct.

Even if my spell checker doesn't like it.

*         *         *

On a whim, after writing this post, I decided to look up "flump". I knew that O had just made up the word, so I wasn't expecting to find anything. I was wrong.

According to the online Merriam-Websters dictionary, flump IS a word!

Pronunciation: \ˈfləmp\
Etymology: imitative
Date: 1729
intransitive verb : to move or fall suddenly and heavily
transitive verb : to place or drop with a flump

Wow! So flumping was indeed what the boys were doing when they flopped down the stairs on their bottoms. I guess my 2 year old has been reading the dictionary in his spare time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How many of these have you read?

I took this quiz on Facebook a few months back, and I thought I would take a look at it again for some reading ideas. I have read 55 of the 100 books here, but the vast majority were read before I had children. I really was an avid reader in a past life! I'd love to increase the number I've read on this list, because I do have some noticeable gaps. Did everyone else read Catch 22, Catcher in the Rye, and Lord of the Flies in high school? Those are just a couple of the books I feel like I "should" have read, but haven't. But I think in order to fulfill my challenge, I may have to stick with easier fare. Maybe I'll fill this out again at the end of the year and see if I've made any progress...

OOOH...I just noticed that The Time Traveler's Wife is on there! Chalk up #56!

*        *         *
Book Dare: The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte -X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling -X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - X
6 The Bible –X (the vast majority of it )
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell - X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman -X
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -X
Total: 10

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - X
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller -
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - X (maybe not the complete works, but certainly the bulk of it)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - X
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger -
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger -X
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot -X
Total: 7

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald -X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens -
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - X
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck -X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll -X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - X
Total: 6

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -X
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - X
34 Emma - Jane Austen - X
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen -
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -X
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - X
Total: 8

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell - X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown -X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving -
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding –
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan -
Total: 3

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel -X
52 Dune - Frank Herbert -
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - X
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth -
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon -
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley -X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon - X
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
Total: 5

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck -
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt -
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas -
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac -
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy -
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding - X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville- X
Total: 3

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker -
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -
75 Ulysses - James Joyce-
76 The Inferno - Dante -
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal - Emile Zola -
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray-
80 Possession - AS Byatt -
Total: 2

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker - X
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - X
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert- X
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - X
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White -X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom -
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - X
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton -
Total: 7

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad-X
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams -
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole-
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare -X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - X
total: 5


*       *        *

How many of these books have you read?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

50 books in 2010--update #2 (10 weeks, 10 books)

I'm so glad that I started this 50 books in a year challenge. Every time I sit down with a book, I know that I am doing something purely for myself. And that is a feeling that I've rarely felt in the last 5 years! I still love my TV shows and watch a lot of them, but getting lost in a book is much more gripping than any show could be. I'm glad I reminded myself of that.

Now, 10 weeks into the new year, I have read 10 books. I tend to read in spurts, a couple books in one week and then nothing for a while, but overall I'm staying on track.  This is about the time of year that I tend to lose steam with my New Year's Resolutions, so I'm happy that I am still reading, and that I'm still posting on this blog. Even though I'm no longer posting daily, like I had originally intended, at least I'm here! Both of these challenges are much easier to stick with than an diet, so perhaps that's why I'm having more success.

But, I've discovered that my memory is not what it used to be. I was discussing the challenge with a friend last week, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember the names of the books I had read so far. Good thing I'm keeping a list! Here they are...

1. Careless in Red by Elizabeth George
The latest novel in one of my favorite series, the Inspector Lynley mysteries. While this was an easy read, in my opinion it did not live up to her earlier works. Too bad. I was so looking forward to it. Her previous book was disappointing too. Hmmm....perhaps it's time to find a new favorite series.

2. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Hubby gave me this book two Christmases ago and it has been sitting on my bedside table since then. (See how much I needed this challenge?!) He thought it sounded interesting, and indeed it was. A mystery originally written in Norwegian, partly set in present day Norway and partly with Norwegian forces in WWII, it was a little hard to get into, but definitely a good read by the end.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A good friend suggested this book, and I am so glad she did!! I enjoyed this more than any other book that I have read in recent memory. The characters and themes in this "Survivor"esque reality tale were so gripping that I couldn't put this book down. 

4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The sequel to the previous book, this book was also interesting. Not quite as riveting as the Hunger Games (perhaps because some of the plot lines that were so shocking in the first book are now familiar parts of the story), but it definitely left me eager for the 3rd book in this trilogy, due out in August. Consider that book another one of the 50 I will read this year.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Several people suggested this book when they heard that I was looking for reading suggestions, so I had to check it out. This was another book that took me a little while to get into, but ended up being an interesting and satisfying Swedish mystery. And this led me to another sequel I am eager to read. Who knew 2010 would be the year I discovered Scandinavian mysteries?

6. Among Thieves by David Hosp
Another book that Hubby picked out for me! This book tells the story of what might have happened during the infamous art heist at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. As I actually visited this museum several times as a child, it was a fun read.

7. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown 
I loved The DaVinci Code, and Angels & Demons, but I had heard that this book was not as good. So instead of buying it as I tend to do (bookstores are like a close friend that always picks my pocket!) I actually requested it through the local library. It took a few weeks to come in, but since I was busy reading the previous books, it didn't really matter. And I was glad I didn't buy it. Definitely not as good as his earlier work, and not a book I would read again.

8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I felt like I must be the only person in the world who had not read this book after so many people suggested it. I'm generally not one for romance novels, so I had no interest in it, especially after I saw that it had been made into a cheesy looking film. But I figured so many fans couldn't be wrong, and when I saw it on sale for $3.99, how could I go wrong? And I did enjoy the book. It was a bit confusing at times, but definitely an interesting concept. 

9. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
I loved Dr. Verghese's memoir My Own Country, so when I saw that he had written a novel, I knew I had to pick it up. An interesting tale of family, medicine, and destiny that winds from India to Ethiopia to America and back again.

10. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
As I barely have time to read, I certainly never have the free time to go to the movies. But since there's been so much chatter about this Leo & Scorcese film, I figured I could at least check out the book. This was another easy read, but midway through the book, I predicted the final twist coming, so the book was not as mindbending or surprising as I expected. Oh well.

I have a few more books on my bedside table that are waiting to be tackled, but I certainly don't have 40 more ideas. I would love some more suggestions! If you can, please post in the comments and let me know what you're reading now. Or name some of your past favorites!

Monday, March 8, 2010



C loved his Chick Hicks cake (and we are still eating it! That was a BIG cake!).

17 friends showed up for his birthday party.

They all painted masterpieces.

And enjoyed some cupcakes.

C was so busy talking and laughing with the other kids that he barely said two words to me.

But I did see a lot of these...

And nothing says "Thanks Mom!" more than a smile like that!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventures in Baking a Chick Hicks Cake.

I am not a good cook.

I can feed my family, but I don't really enjoy cooking, so I don't like to spend a lot of time on it. Quick and easy tends to be the name of the game for me.

But even though my skills are lacking, due to C's food allergies, baking my own cakes for special occasions has been a necessity. My boys, just like most kids, come up with some pretty fancy requests. I try to accommodate to the best of my ability, and I think I've had some pretty good results over the years.

O's 1st birthday Elmo cake...

Part of C's 3rd birthday train cake...

This year, when C said that he wanted a Chick Hicks cake (why the "bad" guy from the movie CARS is his favorite, I have no idea!) I thought, "No Problem!" I planned to make a regular round cake, and then freehand a 2D Chick Hicks on the top, just like I did with O's Elmo cake. I was all set! Until yesterday, when C informed me that he didn't want a round cake, he wanted the cake to actually LOOK like Chick Hicks. And to make sure that it had his number 86 on it. And the sponsor (htB for "hostile takeover bank"...See I told you he was the bad guy!).

UH OH...

I was stumped. But then Hubby mentioned that Chick is quite a boxy car, so I could probably make something using rectangular cake pans. Hmmm....that might work. I told C I would give it my best try, but that he couldn't be upset if it didn't come out right. And after a long afternoon, my stacked rectangle/square cakes (with some carving to create angles for the windshields) did sort of turn into Chick Hicks. It didn't come out exactly like I was imagining it in my head, but it was pretty close.

C was thrilled and said "Mom!! It's awesome!! It looks just like the real Chick!!"  And I let out a sigh of relief!

Now let's just hope it doesn't collapse before we get a chance to eat it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Parenting is an exercise in firsts. First bath, first foods, first day of school... And this week as C turns five, we will embark on yet another first--the first "invite your whole class" birthday party. For some reason, this idea fills me with a lot of anxiety. Perhaps it's reawakening some of my childhood fears. I didn't have the easiest time making friends in elementary school, and I can still remember some episodes of social rejection so clearly, it was as if they happened yesterday. While I did eventually make some wonderful childhood friends that truly became friends for life, things like birthday parties were always a source of anxiety for me. "What if no one invites me to their parties? What if no one comes to my party?"  And while C views his first big party with only excitement and has no doubt that everything will be wonderful, I feel some trepidation. Again I wonder, what if no one comes? What if the kids don't have fun? What if they are mean to my son? Because what a parent always wants most is for their children to be happy. I know the day will come when C will learn that not everyone is nice and not everyone wants to be his friend, but for now I'm glad that he holds onto his innocence. After all, he is still my baby!
I can't believe how far we've come.