Saturday, May 31, 2008

Eating less, eating more

Two major steps spoken of earlier have been taken. Today is day 1 of Doug and I on Weight Watchers Online. Already I wish I could drink coffee; I'm up 3 points on him, having to have my can of Coke vs. his 2 cups of coffee. Doug is at the store as we speak, purchasing healthy snacks & Coke Zero for me. My goal is to lose 35 pounds and also be "toned" (which means more exercise); Doug's overall goal is to lose 70 pounds. Yeah, isn't he amazing?! He's got 2 mini-goals built into that, of course. Oh yeah, and the second step? Cable will be cut off on Tuesday.

Charlie, on the other hand, is now beginning to eat more again. We just don't know what's going on with him; he's always been stuffy and sounding like he has drainage. Ped. said that will get better. He even had some what we thought was wheezing/rattling in his lungs - yes, folks, having asthma myself, I know that that's serious. And I know he will have allergies and asthma because I do, as well as my birthmother before me, and her mother before her (the only medical piece of information my parents ever got). Anyway, he was doing his usual thing yesterday, taking 4-5 oz at a feeding. And then came 9:00pm. And he took TEN ounces. Almost 11, actually. And then he took maybe 1/2-tablespoon of rice cereal.
He woke up at 4am and took another 5.5oz. And then at 9am another 4oz. And then at 10:30 was crying because he was hungry. I sure wish this kid would take an actual feeding, because now I'm suspecting he's falling asleep before he's actually full.

Ah well. The adventure continues. We saw Indiana Jones IV last night. Charlie went with us and was supposed to sleep the whole time. Instead, WE spent the whole time pacing the back of the movie theater because he was wide awake and cried every time we put him in his carseat. Too much traveling during the day, I think. Anyway, we won't try that trick again. The movie was a fun way to see Indy one more time, though. Roman is off visiting my parents this weekend, along with my niece and nephew. My parents will be exhausted! Doug so graciously let me sleep until 10am. It was beautiful. So all told, I got 12 hours of sleep. I feel like I'm ready to take on the world... or at least, clean my house.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Much better, thank you

Doug has returned from his 2-day business trip, which would also explain why I was so exhausted and emotional last night; I had done all the feedings for close to 2 days. Enough to wear a person out. Real glad he doesn't travel a lot right now. My energy also perked up when I got a call from a coworker reminding me that it was our traditional hangout day, and she didn't care if I was working or not - I had better get to school so we could see each other. Traditional hangout day is great - the 8th graders are gone on their unsanctioned Cedar Point trip, the 6th graders are gone for the morning doing some roller skating party, and the 7th graders have a hot dog lunch and this year, complete with dunk-the-teacher tank and bouncer-obstacle course. Not much for 8th grade teachers to do but hang out and chat!

So I packed up the boys and headed over there. It was fun. Roman was a little unsure of the dunk tank, and actually said he wouldn't want to make a person fall into it. Sweet. He loved the bouncer though, and once the 7th graders cleared out he went through it probably six times. I went through once, just to be a good sport. All this excitement, plus Daddy coming home and a visit to a friend's house complete with trampoline on Wednesday, enticed Roman to actually SLEEP today during quiet time. He was in there almost 2 hours, I have no idea when he fell asleep.

Charlie is beginning to take a little more at feedings again, around 6oz today. He also has begun burping up a lot of mucus tinged with formula. He has a lot of stuffiness issues, and I wonder if he's got drainage that is filling his tummy. If it continues or doesn't get better, I'm definitely calling the ped.

Now I'm going to talk about my other love, scrapbooking. Photo organization, to be exact. I’ve been spending my free time reorganizing my photos. I bought a book called “Photo Freedom” by Stacy Julian. I have a previous book of hers, “The Big Picture" in which she convinced me to (almost) let go of chronological scrapbooking. It’s been hard though – even though I have divided my books into categories rather than years, I still find I am scrapping chronologically & by event.

However, I have taken a major step thanks to Photo Freedom. I have reorganized ALL my photos into categories. No more monthly folders for me, except for the “Charlie” “Roman” and “Family” pictures. Everything now gets separated into the following categories:

About Us (insights into our personalities)
Everyday Life (called “Things We Do” in the books)
Celebrations & Holidays
Places We Go
People We Love

I found that the Everyday Life is going to be the fastest growing album. I was concentrating so much on event-event-event, but I found the pages that Roman likes to look at the most are the “what was I like as a baby?” pages. Those that described his toys, or his moods, or silly things he does or says.

I also finally took advantage of the beauty of Photoshop Elements (besides that I can create digital pages) and have “tagged” my photos into categories. So I can click on the “Roman” tag and all pictures of Roman come up, regardless of month or year. Or, strangely enough, I discovered a need for a tag called “food.” Click on it, and there are close to 15 photos of us with food. Interesting.

So, it’s moving along. I’m not getting many actual pages done, but #1 this is easier to do when I’ve only got 10 or 15 minutes to spare at a time, and #2 hopefully it will cause me to scrap in a more timely manner. Such as, “Celebrations & Holidays” can be up to date, even if my “Places We Go” is still stuck in June 2007. I can scrap photos that are relatively recent. And Charlie can actually make it into my scrapbooks before 2009 rolls around. Assuming I can let go of the chronological bug.

Sleep... please...

I'm not complaining. Well, maybe a little. Charlie is generally healthy, we had no colic to deal with, and he's a happy quiet baby. Except note what time I'm blogging. Those few nights of 5-6, even 7 hours of sleep - gone. And I'm exhausted. And I'm crying. And I would give absolutely anything to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch. I sat and cried the whole time I fed him this time. I have great pity parties for myself. When I want to feel real bad, I think about the fact that except for those handful of nights when Charlie slept through, I have been getting up at least once a night since November. And from all things I've read, he won't consistently sleep through until he's 3-4 months adjusted. That's around July, ya'll. And there are a whole lotta nights until then.

I don't know what's gotten into him, but since camping Charlie has reverted back to only taking about 4 oz. at a feeding. Growth spurt over? So is my sleep. He wakes consistently 3.5 hours in the evening. I am so, so tired of seeing 2am. 2:30am. 3am. 3:30am. 4:00am. And no, I can't nap when he does during the day. I have an almost-5 year old who can handle about 1.5 hours of rest in the afternoon before starting to bother me. And most days, having to follow Charlie's schedule, Roman's rest is not at a time when Charlie is sleeping. So no, well-meaning advice-givers, I can't just "nap when they do." Go to bed early? Sure, I'll go to bed at 9pm. And spend absolutely no time connecting with my husband. Ever.

I know I'm just tired. But I have no patience to deal with the kids, I have no energy, and I just want to (insert swear word here) sleep. More than 3 hours at a time. Please.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Changes in attitude

Camping brings out the best in all of us. Roman is a sweet boy that loves to ride his bike and play outside; Doug relaxes and there isn't a hint of stress in him or myself. Charlie, it turns out, didn't like the water. But otherwise he did a lot of chillin' too, taking in the new sites and sounds.

When we return it seems that the daily grind descends upon us again. This time was no different - Roman flipped on the tv immediately, and Doug and I immediately began to catalog all the "stuff" we had to do... laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, who is going to do what... but this time, Doug and I have a long-term plan. We talked on Sunday night how we really like our "camping family" but there is much to be improved in our "at home family." So some changes are going to be made.

First step will commence this weekend - we are getting rid of cable. Well, we're downgrading to "basic" which is just channels 2-22 without a need for rabbit ears. We will get the big 4 (does Fox count as a major station?), 2 PBS stations, and the CBC (Canada channel). Along with some other meaningless stations that we don't watch anyway. And that's it. No Nickelodeon... no Cartoon Network... unfortunately, no History Channel or HGTV either. But that's what the Internet's for.

Second, we're going to try to adopt more of an "outdoor" attitude. It is so much easier for us to stay inside. Doug and I are not athletic, outdoorsy types. When we camp, we sit in our chairs or take walks, really. But we had a great time walking & biking and love seeing Roman do it. It will be out of our comfort zone, but that's why we have to do it.

Third, with the tv out of the way, we need to create more "relax together & do" times. Doug gets so overwhelmed because he comes home from work and I'm ready to dump the kids on him, Roman is usually in his whine-y stage, followed closely by Charlie's fussy period right after dinner... but we also allow tv and computer to soak up a lot of the time we could actually get things done. Again, refer to the slight, um, laziness we have. But we are determined to create more together/do times, because in a couple years Roman won't care. And now is the time to play catch in the backyard, now is the time to do the family bike ride (at least, once Charlie's sitting up).

And lastly, we're both going to join Weight Watchers and work together on becoming the physical people we want to be. I lost a quick 5-7 pounds, gain it, lose it, gain it. My body's still doing odd things (same weight, but 1 size smaller in pants - weird) so now is the time to just be done with it. And Doug, he's been talking the talk a long time but is finally ready to join in (due to a challenge at work).

This will all take time, and we will definitely have some bumps (try convincing vegetable-Roman to get off his butt and actually play outside - this will be a challenge in itself!). But we sat and marveled this weekend about how much fun we were having, how relaxed we were, and how great Roman was. So it's time to actually adopt that into our life here at home.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Decoration Day

Thank you, fallen soldiers. Thank you for keeping America the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. The first actual observance of a "Decoration Day" occurred in 1865 when freed blacks reinterred Union soldiers at a former Confederate prison, from the mass grave the Confederates buried them in into individual graves. Then the following year, a large number of blacks returned to the site, decorated the graves, and then held a parade with lots of singing and dancing following.

By that time, of course, communities throughout the South (and a handful in the North) had begun honoring their dead from the Civil War; in Mississippi, strangely enough, they held their own Decoration Day in 1866 honoring both Confederate and Union dead. It eventually evolved, as many holidays do, into a 3-day weekend meant for camping, picnicking, and car races.

However, being a history lover and America lover, I always take time to honor the soldiers who have given their lives so we can continue to enjoy our camping, picnicking, and car races. Memorial Day is for honoring soldiers who died during military service.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
Written in 1915, the first year of World War One

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Jellystone fun in photos

Daddy's my best buddy. Today, at least.

Putt-putting is fun! Daddy's teaching me!

I prefer to use the putter as a gun.

Even though I have developed a cold, I LOVE camping!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Greetings from Picnic Basket Drive

We are happily ensconced at Jellystone Park. Well, Roman's not real happy because we're making him have naptime. He stayed up late last night, up early this morning, went swimming, rode his bike, played at the park... he is exhausted. Charlie is pretty tired too, although he will nap just about anywhere. He went for his first swim this morning and while not smiling, didn't seem to mind it. Roman wore his Nemo swim vest and FINALLY we heard the words, "don't hold me!" He is petrified of anything new until he's finally made to do it; then he's fine. He could touch the bottom and stand, and he was pretty confident in his vest that his head would stay above water. He even put his face in the water after a time.

We're heading into town later this afternoon for some window shopping and a chicken dinner. Tomorrow - more of the same. I love camping here because they have activities for the kids running all day. Yesterday Roman made "sand art" and today they're doing tie-dying, although we would have to buy a shirt if we decide to do it. We are allowing Ro to go out on his bike without us, and he loves the freedom. We love the quiet. Although he doesn't stay away too long yet, and I think that's okay. There are a ton of kids here - and a ton of dogs, including a little yippy one next door that never stops. There is a dog show in town this weekend so I guess that's why everyone seems to have one.

Anyway, life is good. Charlie slept from about 10pm to 5am, but Doug and I woke up at least once an hour because we were paranoid the heater wouldn't start. That did happen twice. It got down to 37 last night. Thank goodness we don't tent-camp anymore. Ah well. I love getting away from everything.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

names & advice/comparing brothers

Roman called me "mom" for the very first time today. I was "mama" for about 2-1/2 years, and then he alternated between "mama" and "mommy." I have just come around to accepting "mommy" because it sounds real cute coming from him. I had wanted to remain "mama" as that's what I was named by the assistant mayor when we registered in Ekaterinburg. I could push it if I really wanted to. But "mom"? It just seems so... like everyone else. Mom. It's what I call MY mom. It's what a growing-up kid calls his mother. I'm not ready for Roman to be a big kid! I know "mommy" won't last, and once he's around peers more I will become plain ol' "mom." But I sure hope "mommy" will stick around for a little longer. Of course, he also will occasionally call me "moo-ma" and I'm not sure where that came from, but it sure is funny!

We have gotten advice regarding feeding Charlie, and I thank people for it. Please remember that while we may look like professional child-raisers, we have never had an infant before. We have no idea what we're doing until Charlie is, like, 10 months old. Or 10 months adjusted, anyway. So advice is good! We were recommended to try our fingers as he's used to the sucking... try only one meal at a time first... and feed after a bottle is totally finished, so there's no "hunger pressure" on any of us. All good ideas. I think we will try again after Memorial Day - camping is not the time to introduce something new.

We keep standing in awe of Charlie's size. We are amazed that he is in outfits that Roman wore when he came home at 9-1/2 months old. I mean, Roman was 19 pounds then! But then Doug and I were reminscing slightly at dinner. Roman was at the bottom of the charts. He was 19 pounds, but only about 19 or 20 inches long. Oh yeah... it comes back to me. I looked at our homecoming picture at the airport and thought - the only difference between Roman then and Charlie now is that Roman was feeding and could sit up. Size-wise, communication-wise, all the same. Huh.

Anyway. I've been attempting to feel guilty about putting Charlie in disposable diapers, as many of the blogs I keep up with are very pro-cloth diapers. I even did some research on biodegradable disposable diapers, but it turns out that in America, it doesn't matter - we landfill everything, even if it is biodegradable. Which is really the issue. The only reason to go with that type of disposable is that it is made out of eco-friendly materials rather than all plastic and gooey gel. Of course, instead of the gooey gel it's some sort of wood pulp mixture, so now you're cutting down trees to wrap your baby's butt.
However, I just may try one of the brands I saw from Sweden that is sold at Target. I mean, there's no way I'm doing cloth. Despite all the good reasons for it, I am a total convenience-gal. Especially with a second child in the house. And I don't feel guilty about it, although I probably should. But maybe if I use diapers that are made out of eco-friendly stuff, then at least it's a step in the right direction. As long as we're not cutting down too many trees to make them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adventures in feeding

So at the 7pm feeding we thought it'd be fun to introduce cereal. We made a very small amount mixed with formula.

Charlie kind of liked it, although he pushed a lot of it out of his mouth. The ol' tongue-thrust still in action. After a few bites, though, he was getting hungrier. And the cereal wasn't coming fast enough.

However, he really did like sitting in the highchair - although I think it was more because he loves looking at his Daddy.

We tried again at the 10pm but it didn't go over very well. I tried again this morning and Charlie definitely did not want any part of it - pushing it out of his mouth and crying. Even when we fed him formula first to "take the edge off" before trying cereal - no way. So I gave him a regular bottle at noon and he was happier. I just don't think he's hit the developmental place with tongue/swallowing to be able to eat. Did try to mix it in with a bottle to make it more "filling" but the brand of nipples we're using (Avent) make it very difficult, and Charlie couldn't get any out.

In Roman news, today is a good day. Yesterday was a bad day. Thank goodness for a good day because it makes me forget the attitude of yesterday. Since Tuesday was all about Charlie, Roman really acted up. Today I made sure to spend time playing with him (and prayed for the patience to do so) and he's in a much better mood, and I'm getting more done because I "did my time." I have definite opinions about playing with kids (since when is mom the sole playmate? Whatever happened to boredom becoming the spur for imagination?) but I'll have to blog about that another time.

What did crack me up today was Roman's mind getting more creative, or precise, depending on your point of view. We're going camping this weekend and Roman is thrilled. He's already gathering things to take with him. He had picked out a couple videos to watch along the way, and wanted to bring his flashlight and some Hot Wheels to play with. I told him to go put them on the stairs so we would remember to take them up. This is how he put them on the stairs:

They honestly were in almost perfect alignment, right up the center of the steps. What a funny boy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A healthy Dutch baby

“Square face, big belly – you’ve got a good Dutch baby here!” That’s the words of our Dutch pediatrician, anyway.

Charlie is between 25-50th percentile for 4 monthers – and that’s not adjusted! For his adjusted age he’s way off the charts (in a good way). He’s 14 lbs, 1 oz. He is also 24 inches long! We were told to go ahead and start rice cereal mixed with formula; if he takes that well, we can move on to veggies and fruits in 2 weeks. She said we should mix ¼ cup cereal with 8 oz formula, and try to give by spoon. Heh. So that’ll be fun. If he doesn’t take by spoon, we should give it with our fingers at first. Double-heh.

He also got 4 shots and one oral vaccination. Poor baby. Good thing he won’t remember it. Roman was very concerned for Charlie, and even said “I feel sorry for Charlie for getting those shots.” He rarely shows empathy, so I was impressed. Another concern has arisen – “increased tone” in his legs. So we’ve been referred to Early On, which is a taxpayer-funded program in Michigan for little ones. They will send a physical therapist through the schools out to our house for an evaluation. Basically, his legs are stiff and difficult to manipulate; his knee reflexes are much more than what they should be. Hopefully they’ll just give us some exercises to do rather than have to see a PT on a regular basis.

Charlie also has developed a flat spot on the right side of his head; funny, because on his back he looks to the right, and on his tummy he looks to the left. But we have to start forcing the head to the other side. Over the next 2 months we should start seeing him grabbing for things, rolling, and commando-crawling. It is physical things where we will see the preemie-delay most readily, she said.

So we’re going to start fun with cereal this evening and see what happens. Exciting! And I have a lot of phone calls to make, because I also have to make an appt. at a pediatric retinal specialist (different than the other one we saw) for a one-time visit.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Russia, bread, & our house

You get three topics for the price of one blog today. Only because if I keep putting off blogs to keep them a separate topic, I'll forget. First up, an interesting byproduct of the "green" movement: a local bakery has had to close. Too many farmers growing corn for ethanol now instead of the rye for flour. If you don't feel like reading the article, basically the owner would have had to raise his price on some loaves to $10 a loaf between the high cost of flour and cost of gas. Sad, really. We try to support all the local businesses that we can, and I hate to see them go out of business.

Second, an interesting article about Putin's Russia came across my radar from a friend in Colorado. The essence I got from it was, the government will continue to be corrupt (and the classes continue to grow farther apart) as long as the people stand for it. What many don't understand about Russians is that they stay as far away from government as they can. They are so introverted. A great illustration about this came at a local museum we visited in Ekaterinburg. All of the museum displays were symbolic of a Russian's life throughout history. At one part, we entered an area where there was a door that was closed and locked. No way through, we'd have to turn around. "Ah," said Ilyana, "it looks closed. But Russians have a way around this." And then she opened a little door within the door. And that led to more doors. But these doors also swung backwards or forwards, or you could push part of them aside like a maze, to get through the solid-looking doors. As Ilyana said, "although under communism it appeared that things were at a dead end with only one way to go, a true Russian will always find a way around it."

So it doesn't matter if the government is corrupt; it doesn't matter out in Siberia, at least, if the economy is up or down. Russians make do as they have for decades, no matter what is happening in Moscow. The government can do what it likes, make whatever laws they like; out in the country where the real people live, they have their own customs and ways around things. I can't see the Russians rising up in indignation; where we were, at least, they were quite aware that the government was a failure but as long as it didn't affect them personally (many still affected by the purges of Stalin) they didn't complain.

And now, for our house. By our scale Charlie's 15 pounds; we'll get the true numbers tomorrow. So Doug finally brought the crib out of storage and set it up Sunday night. Of course, he doesn't want Charlie actually sleeping in it; that would mean he's growing up. So he will take naps during the day in it, at least through this weekend when we're camping.

And the outside of our house is finally the way I want it. Flowers were planted in the front as the weatherman says it's 40s or higher from here on out at night. Isn't it wonderful? Although I guess you can't really see the flowers yet. So admire the new light and mailbox, and the burning bush has been moved to a better location, and the railing on the deck is much more attractive than it was.

And lastly, I did some planting of my own today. Some leftover soil, and we had bought some of those "sprinkle seeds" of North American wildflowers. Thought it'd be fun to do with Roman. Well, he's afraid of bees and didn't want to come outside in the first place, and when he did he refused to touch the soil. Or the plants. So you can see who helped me!

Hopefully the wildflowers come up. Roman has 3 sunflower seeds that are starting to grow, so I had to repot them as well.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bumps & bruises

Charlie and I have had our share of bumps the past couple days. Horrible to admit, but he was in my arms Thursday when he decided to do one of those random spasmotic jerks, and he flipped around and landed forehead-first on the dining room table. Thank God I was just sitting at the table (talking on the phone to my Grandma) so he didn't have far to fall and I was able to calm him within a few minutes. Took awhile to calm myself, however. You can see the 2 impact spots here:

Luckily he continued to act normal, did not go to sleep, and once he calmed down he continued to be a happy child.

Karma had its way, however, on Friday night. As I was bending down to hug Roman goodbye (Doug and I went OUT!) Roman decided to jump up into my arms. I went down, Roman went up, and his head knocked my lower lip into my top teeth. Lots of blood and some tears (mostly Roman's) later, I just have a nice bruise and some swelling. I still had a good time, though, meeting with the "young couples" for a third time from church.

Other drama in my life includes the fact that I had made an entire baby album on Snapfish. I worked on it for 3 days, but as I clicked the button to "place order" tonight the button kind of "grayed out" and I couldn't do anything. Couldn't go forward, couldn't go backward. I refreshed the page (assuming nothing tragic would happen because I had saved the book so many times) but half of my work disappeared. The pictures are all on the pages I placed them on, but ALL the journaling... gone. So I have to go back and journal the entire d*$# thing again. 18 pages worth. I am not happy.

We did start shopping for Roman's birthday however, which he keeps reminding us is in June. He is at the gift-quarantine portion of his life, however; no buying anything for him about 6 weeks before a major gift-giving event. He is not pleased with this. So he keeps begging us to go to McDonald's or Burger King so he can get a toy.

Roman also is surprising us by reading. A lot. I know he has memorized a few simple words, and he can sound out 3 and 4 letter words pretty well. This evening watching tv, however, he said, "Funniest Pets and People is on next." How did you know that?, we asked. "Because that's what it says on the screen." What does it say above that? Long pause... "Next." Oh, my gosh. When we ask him to sound things out, he has to be in the right mood. But the other day he also sat in Charlie's room and read the Curious George lift-the-flap book that we just got. Like, actually read it. That boy is amazing. He also informed us at dinner that 1/1 is equal to 1, and 44/44 is equal to 1. We're not sure when he began solving fractions in his head, but the boy is an Einstein. He has already told us that Math will be his favorite subject, followed by Science.

Charlie? We have a ped. appt. on Tuesday for his 4-month checkup and I'm anxious to ask a few questions, namely about food. We assume we must stick to his adjusted-age for introducing solids, but the boy is taking 8 oz. at each feeding. It seems perhaps he needs something more filling, like rice cereal or applesauce mixed in. We'll see. I also took a picture of him in the bassinet, which will prove the crib needs to be introduced very soon:

He's practically end-to-end in it! That outfit is also a size 3-6 month, but in all other outfits, he's now safely in the 6 month sizes. Chunka-Monkey is what he is. Since he's supposed to be only about 7 weeks adjusted, you know. And the best part? For 3 nights in a row, he has slept on average 6-7 hours. From 10/11pm to about 5 or 5:30am. Woohoo!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Secrets of SAHMs

Today was quite a day. Sparing the details, I now understand a lot more about my own childhood. And I understand a lot more about my own mom's habits. Things I am going to start putting into practice:
1. Try to have at least one thing to do a day. Especially if it means putting your kids in a nursery for a short amount of time (see: tennis, bowling from my own childhood)
2. If you have nowhere to go, you MUST enforce time in their rooms for the kids. It must last at least one hour, so you can watch an entire soap opera. (I'm considering picking back up with Days of Our Lives.)
3. Cooking dinner is actually "me time." Do not let anyone disturb you when you are cooking dinner/me time. Sometimes you have to start prepping at 4:30 for a 6pm dinner. Even if it's browned pork chops & french fries.
4. Have a glass of wine as you are prepping dinner. Or two.
5. Even though dinner is "me time," don't let the other family members know. Act like it was a lot of work, and you need to go sit down and relax after dinner.
6. Parents should rule the radio. It's the only tangible part of the day that you can truly call your own. Every once in awhile, grant the kids their own music. But remember - your happy music can make rough patches of the day okay. (Currently, I'm listening to oldies '50s & early '60s music. And what a better mood I am in. Nothing like a little Chuck Berry or the Drifters to pick up a spirit.)

And the great experiment in staying at home continues...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


By chance, I ended up stretching Charlie's feeding yesterday afternoon to close to 5 hours. He was ravenous, of course, but when he did get his bottle he took 6 ounces - much more than he was in the past. It obviously lasted him longer, too, and his next feeding (5 hours later) was 8 ounces. That got him all the way through the night! Yes folks, he slept from 11pm all the way until about 5am. Woohoo! This wonderful trend has continued today, roughly 4.5 to 5 hours between feedings, and 6-7 ounces at each feeding. Growing boy!

Roman is also starting to eat like a pig again, which means yet another growth spurt is coming. He had 2 lunches yesterday. I gave him a hot dog, crackers, cheese, and a Go-gurt. He devoured it and asked for an identical lunch. I gave him everything but a second Go-gurt, and he ate that all as well. Wow.

For dinners our struggles have minimized for now. I am trying much harder to cook things that Roman will accept. He has stated he likes ground beef, so I got online and got a bunch of casserole ideas. I also pulled out some old classics from my mom such as "Mac-and-Cheese with hot dogs casserole" and "easy goulash," as well as cooking up ye ole Hamburger Helper. I also made my very first grilled cheese sandwich last week. Yup, you read it right - I have NEVER cooked a grilled cheese sandwich. I had to call Doug to find out how to do it! (I knew it needed butter, but I didn't know if I had to do something fancy with it.) I didn't like them when I was little, and then... you know. Anyway, here's proof that it turned out good!

To go along with this, I finally bought myself a nonstick frying pan. When we married 8 years ago, Doug insisted on the fancy all-stainless steel cooking set (read: not nonstick). I warned him then that I preferred nonstick for so many reasons, the main one being I tend to burn things! I finally decided that after suffering for 8 years, I could spend the $20 and buy a darn nonstick pan. And oh, it's so beautiful!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

These little hands

My Mother's Day was just how I like it. Quiet, no big deal, but at the same time I had quite a bit of time to myself. My fabulous husband watched Charlie most of the day - which isn't a hardship, actually - and Roman slept 1-1/2 hours for a nap and played on his own for quite awhile as well. Had some nice pictures taken, too.

The hand flowers from Roman came Wednesday night from his class at church. I cried, I thought it was so cute. And Charlie, well, he has finally found his hands - in his mouth or he's fiddling with his fingers constantly. And talking... boy, is he making lots of sounds!

I spent the day playing with my scrapbooks, moving some older pages around, and deciding where to stop doing pages chronologically and where to start doing "categories." The decision happened quite nicely, actually - I will finish 2003 as chronological, and start 2004 (the year we got Roman) as categories. And that's fitting, I think - new version of our family, new version of our scrapbooks. I'm still so disorganized though - I thought I had finished 2006 digitally, just to open a box of old prints and find multiple shots from 2006. That's the year I lost our digital camera and had to go back to an old 35mm, however, so I suspect that's why I've got these extras.

So here's a layout I completed recently - I did a small album of our spring break trip in 2007, but I also did a layout of highlights for the "Places We Go" book.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I have been awash in scrapbook-land at the Great Lakes Mega Meet. I believe it's my 4th or 5th time going, and each year my mom and I take more classes and shop a little less. Which is fine, because I am liking going out of my "comfort zone" of 12x12 pages and trying new things. While I still spent all my birthday money, I am buying more projects and less stuff. I also find I'm gravitating more toward home decor items such as working with canvases, and I made a cool tri-fold frame in a class yesterday that I was really pleased with. Here are some of the things I enjoyed:

This was my first class - 3 12x12 pages and a mini-book.

Second class - a 6x6 album of cardstock, and the white center is actually 8 envelopes which you can store photos or memorabilia in. Very cool. Instead of Disney, I'm going to use mine for when Roman goes to a fair (we have the opportunity to go to 2 this summer).

My frame doesn't look like this (different papers), but it was really easy to make. I bought another kit just cuz it's so cool. The first 2 sections have transparencies in the window, so you can embellish or add more photos.

This is one of the things I'm really excited about. It's a 10x20 wall canvas kit. I got one about "family" too in burgundy shades. Rebekka had left a canvas behind and I've been wanting to do something with it, so thought I'd try a kit first to see how I like it.

I also bought a couple 8x8 acrylic albums and a chipboard album that the pages spell "birthday" so I can make Roman a little album for his first "buddy party." It occurs to me that I don't talk about my hobby much here, so I will try to do that more. I will maybe post some layouts in another day or two. Tomorrow is dedicated to sprucing up the outside of the house.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How I appear to be a put-together mom

I have had a couple people comment how smoothly we transitioned into our 2nd child, and how I seem to just go about my day like it's not hard at all. I admit, the posts do seem that way. On a rainy tired day, though, I will now admit - it's harder than heck. If it wasn't for Roman, I would hole up in the house, maybe venture out to a store once a week. I would read books, watch tv, and sleep. Well of course, hold & play with Charlie a LOT. But here's how I do it, unfortunately.... I let Roman watch a lot of tv.

I feel terribly guilty. Although not too guilty that I don't stop him. It's (mostly) PBS & Nick Jr., with Spongebob thrown in sometimes. I have begun exercising a little control, turning it off more often and telling him to go play. He likes to then follow me around and talk. Constantly. And we were making good headway, until I was struck with the mother of all sinus infections. So I'm tired. I'm very cranky. I just want Roman to be quiet and leave me alone for a little while. So I let him watch videos.

Apparently this is acceptable for a new 2nd-time mom, according to a mom I talked to yesterday. She's a parttime teacher as well, with a 5 year old boy and elementary-age girl. She said she was surprised I even get up and around before noon. I laughed... those days are more often than you'd think.

So I will try to be better. Because now that Charlie is becoming more alert, soon will come movement... and the real work will begin in earnest.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Bowled" over with fun

After getting my Z-pak and taking my first 2, I felt okay enough to go bowling with the fam. I couldn't help but post pictures here. Roman actually got 2 spares in the second game! It's a wonder the ball made it down the alley at all. It was like watching paint dry. We had to hit the "reset" button almost every one of his frames. Of course, the bumpers helped my game, too. We all "smell like bowling alley," as Roman puts it, so an extra load of laundry is happening tomorrow! When we got home Roman asked to see our wedding video. He was very interested in it, and especially wanted to see our wedding rings after that part in the ceremony. He wanted to know who was there, and what all the songs were... really funny guy. We were happy to oblige, as it was neat to see it again.

Our anniversary!

Eight years ago today, Doug and I got married. Wow! And just about 7 years ago, we closed on this house. And a smidge over 4 years ago, we brought Roman home from Russia. And 4 months ago, we began to seriously anticipate Charlie's arrival. Amazing. It occurred to me last night that we have spent half our married life without kids, and half with them. Kind of neat.

I'd post a picture of us two lovebirds on the day of our union, but the computer with the scanner is sadly, um... not working. We're not doing much exciting, since it's the middle of the week and all. Early on, we decided togo bowling on our anniversaries as it was something we could do with or without kids. The last couple years, however, we haven't gone - not sure why, I guess life got in the way. But we may go tonight depending on how I feel. Yes, folks, I've finally decided to go to the doctor and get the antibiotics I so desperately need. It's day 6 of stuffy/runny nose and sore throat, day 4 of productive cough. I don't think it's going to get better.

Roman has been busy with playdates. A neighbor came to introduce himself with his 4-1/2 year old son, and Roman skipped off to play with them for a couple hours. Today a friend from his preschool invited him over for a couple hours. I had been hoping for those couple hours to myself (well, me & Charlie) but that's when I'm going to the doctor. We also decided on Roman's birthday party. It's going to be at an indoor playplace that has huge jungle-themed climbing stuff. A couple of his friends have had parties there and that's where he wanted it. We are inviting 10 friends (whew!) assuming there will be some who can't make it. So I'm going there to pick up the predone invitations, etc.

Charlie is finally showing signs of awareness of the world around him. He startles, of course, at every sound his brother makes. What's neat, though, is that he likes going to new places (such as the bathroom during Roman's bath) and is very serious when he observes his surroundings. I have finally found a sure-fire way to make him smile, however. After his bottle and things seem to be settled in his tummy, I sit him up in front of me. For some reason he just loves this and he will smile multiple times at me. In fact, these episodes have proven what we had been suspecting - he has DIMPLES! Because his cheeks are so chubby they're hard to see, but those big-faced grins can't hide them. Here's a couple pics from this morning's round of smiles.
The first is me trying to hold him and take the picture myself - I got an amused look, but not necessarily a grin. The second I turned the camera over to Roman and concentrated on getting the boy to smile. He obliged; not the biggest smile I've seen, but he's clearly happy to be the center of attention!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Pictures of our day

First we stopped in the Imagination Station, where a big Duplo Thomas had been built! Later, Roman came back here and spent all his time playing with the Duplo tracks and trains that were set up.

It was finally our turn to ride Thomas!

And then we had our picture taken with Sir Topham Hatt, the controller of the railway! Roman very graciously invited Charlie to be in the picture too.

Roman also wanted to ride in a Model T. We ended up in a 1923 hack, built on the chassis of a Model T but used to transport people from the depot to respective hotels in Detroit. Our driver was a young woman who was very personable - she is studying for her Masters in historic preservation, and was thrilled to have landed a job that usually goes to older men.

Last event before our custard and trip home - a ride on the1913 carousel. A woman very thoughtfully took this nonstandard family portrait just before we started to whirl!

We got home very worn out, especially me - I laid down for a 2-hour nap, I was so beat! The rain held off most the day, just getting us a little wet at our last stop (custard station). Roman was great all day, and even when he was visibly tired he did not have a meltdown. Charlie charmed everyone he met, of course. He loved the swirling lights of the carousel. He looked at them rather pensively, but wouldn't stop staring. I should put in a link here to say this was at Greenfield Village, one of the coolest places in Metro Detroit.

Our day today...

I have almost lost my voice - day 3 of sinus? allergic? reaction to Spring and weather changes. It's in that deep sexy, gritty stage (albeit sore). That's okay, because my energy is much better today. And it's needed, because today is all about.... THOMAS! And the best part of our day is going to be when we climb aboard and hear this song:

Thomas is a steam engine, hip hip hip hooray
He chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-..... as he rides along the way
And when we hear that whistle, it can only be one train
Our favorite little engine, Thomas is his name!

Thomas the Tank Engine rolling along....

(pictures upon our return tonight!)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Our mystery visitor

Partially because of curiosity & partially out of need, we called in a realtor last week for a consultation and price analysis of our house. We are trying to budget for home improvements (and actually carry them out, rather than just talk about them) and are in a constant debate of whether to build a garage or not. We know of a couple obvious improvements that need to be made but were curious - what else would we have to do to make our home ready for selling when the market takes that turn upward? I mean, at least we're not California & their record foreclosures, so the hope is that we can move on. Sometime.

It was a very interesting, educational, and shocking visit. The realtor had some great ideas that we hadn't thought of, but the price analysis.... gah. First, here's the list of things we would have to do to put it on the market today:

Replace lights (2, front and side)
Replace mailbox
Paint front door fresh coat of white
Fix screen door jamb
Touch up deck stain/dress up handrail to make it look "permanent"

Buff hardwood floor

Refinish hardwood floor (try to get “ring” out where previous carpet was tacked down)

Replace roman blinds (wider) to cover drapery holes

Strip wallpaper & paint (can limit to window-wall if necessary, but I think the whole thing has to be done)

Reglaze tub

GENERAL FIRST FLOOR UPKEEP: Paint touchups, bedroom floor varnish touchups

Paneling on ceiling (paint or not?) so it can be “finished”
Rip up cat-stained carpet area, replace with linoleum squares
Paint floor of workroom grey
Gathered curtain at shelves under wet bar
New “duratub” between washer/dryer

Some of this we had planned for this summer already (tub and hardwood floors), and a lot is simple elbow grease & a big trip to Home Depot. But the garage.... ah, the garage. Based on the price comparisons we saw, we would not get our $$ out of a garage at this time. So at least we know that, and can spend that money on other things.

Pricing... we would have to list it well below what we paid for it. In fact, the realtor said that we won't see a good profit (like, what we could have had the market not turned) for another 5-6 years. That caused an interesting conversation, both with her and with each other. Lots of food for thought, as they say.