Pocketfuls of Sunshine

So yes, it has literally been months since I have updated the blog.  It nags at me, it really does.  So now that summer is home and The Husband is home from teaching, I figured I would rekindle the blog flame. For awhile, anyway.

There are plenty of reasons I haven’t updated the blog in awhile.  For one, time has been scarce.  But who am I kidding?  We all have it–it’s just how we choose to spend it.  Secondly, the Internet is a wee bit scary these days.  I keep reading all these stories about bloggers coming up with detailed plots (heartbreaking ones at that) that are entirely fictional.  I hear of people lifting pictures of kids and pasting them into their blogs and signatures as their own.  C-R-E-E-P-Y.

And, if by some wee chance you are still checking this blog, you know that I don’t post pictures or use my childrens’ real names.  This might be a little less attractive than blogs that post every detail of what little Tommy did on a particular day, but let’s face it.  There are some wackadoos out there.  Anonymity is worth it.

Anyway, just as a student feels the need to tell her teacher why she did not complete her vocabulary definitions from last night’s homework, I feel the need to let my faithful readers know why I’ve neglected Pocketfuls.  My apologies.

So what’s new around here?  The kids are doing great.  Bubby is walking and talking.  His latest words are good ones–”Tank U”.  He says it swiftly and roughly, and it’s the cutest thing ever.  He is an explorer, always looking for something he can dissect and move around to figure out how it works.  His inquisitive nature is really something to watch, and I wonder just how much trouble he’ll find he’ll discover as he goes about his day shifting and sorting things.

Beanie is stretching her wings a bit, seeing how she works into the world and what it holds for her.  She has revealed her stubborn streak, something that, in the moment,  seems needless and irritating in the face of trying to parent, but something that has me equally happy that she will stand tall and hold her own when she desires.  Every girl needs a little stubborn in her, and Beans will have no shortage.  Of course, along with stubbornness, she needs to learn fault.  And she is.  She’s quickly mastering the art of saying sorry.  Up until now, this has taken the shape of a hug, some downcast eyes, and a quick “Ha-orry”.  The “S” sound remains elusive.  But just the other night, hours after she had been chastised for behaving badly, she walked over to me in her pajamas.  Without prompting or discussion, she said sorry for her earlier display, and she pushed my cheeks up with her hand and elbow, following it with two of the most true words I know.  “Happy.  Muma.”  Such a statement.  Such a moment.  Best.Apology.Ever.  It was all I could do not to cry at her cuteness.

In other quick news, The Husband and I celebrated our 6th anniversary last weekend.  We had a great time at some local establishments, and the kids got to spend some time with GaGa and Bumpa.  All was well.

Now that’ve I updated the family sitch, it leaves time for more irrelevant posts.  More to come in the days ahead.

I Love Signs.

No, I don’t mean the movie, although it was mildly entertaining.  And I don’t mean signs of the astrological type.  (I’ve always been one to read my horoscope and if it sounds positive, I am pleased.  If it sounds depressing or ominous, I scoff at it and think, “Who really believes in that stuff anyway?”) I mean signs with actual text.  And I love catching signs with grammatical errors, particularly ones dealing with apostrophes.  It’s the English teacher in me.

So last night when I went to the movies with my sister-in-law and some of her friends, I noticed the sign behind the ticket counter.  I had seen this sign just two weeks before at a different theater.  It said something to the effect of  “Children only admitted to G and PG movies after 6:00 pm.”  Really?  We actually need a sign for that?  I mentioned something to my hubby about the ridiculousness of needing to tell people this seemingly obvious information, but I didn’t mention it to the ticket seller who probably would think I’m a nutty old woman.

But last night, there was a second sign underneath the first.  I actually read it twice before I understood its implication.  “Children under 2 not admitted to R movies.”  I looked at the young girls behind the counter and I couldn’t hold my tongue.

“I see your sign about 2 year olds and R movies.  Do you REALLY have people that try to do that?”

I was hoping it was, perhaps, some kind of public service announcement that some shmuck in a cube at the corporate office thought would look like a good community gesture.  You know, as in “we’re looking out for kids and you can trust us with yours.  Now give us all your money.”

But I was wrong.

The girl immediately began to do that whole wide-eye-rolling thing where it’s blatantly obvious that she frequently deals with nutty parents who actually fight her on the sign’s mandate.

“Yeah…ALL THE TIME.  They do it because they say they can’t get a sitter.”  A sitter?  No way.  That is just plain stupid.  Ever heard of staying home with your child and, um, being a PARENT?

At this point, there were some angsty teens behind me and I was mildly aware that I should be moving to the side to let them purchase their tickets to the waste of time and money that is the teenage horror movie.  But I was kind of stuck.

” I cannot believe so many people would do it that it necessitates a sign.”

“Yep.  Enjoy your movie.”

So I did, even though I have thought about that sign a few times today.  And then I thought, “Why 2?”  So it’s ok at 3?  4?   I could go on and on.  The problem lies not with the sign, however.  It lies with the fools who insist on ruining their children and polluting them with the garbage that they call “entertainment”.

The End

In college, I remember using the word “Random!” all the time.  It was a part of the daily vocabulary for the girls at 430 Charles Street.   So since I haven’t updated in awhile, I’ll give you a “random!” look at what’s been going on around here lately.

The big news?  I managed to land the perfect stay-at-home job for me!  It’s the triple bonus.  1)  I can work from home and around the kids’ schedules.  2)  It is something about which I am very passionate since Beanie’s birth.  3)  I can help other children while teaching my own what it means to do something good for others.  The new gig?  I’m in “Creative Development” for the charity that has done so much for Beanie and our family.  I’ll be working to write grants, fundraise, and bring in donations from various events.  The Husband and I are very excited about this new endeavor.

In baby news…the kids are doing so well!  The Bean is learning new words every day and she is very compassionate towards her little brother, offering him toys, calling him to follow her down the hallway, and giving him the cutest hugs and kisses before bed.  She tells him she loves him every night, and I think she really means it.  Mr. Bubby has become an easy toddler, sleeping straight through the night for months now and always happy and smiling.  He waited a long time for a tooth, and now is in the process of getting three.  You wouldn’t know it, though, because he is very happy to just be crawling and cruising, exploring the house from one end to the other.  We had a great day at the mall today with a friend of mine and her two kids.  Lunch, the carousel, and walks around the mall–a great way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

Oh, I read Twilight finally.  I had to see what the buzz was all about, and frankly–I still don’t know.  Admittedly, it’s not a genre I read normally, but it seemed manageable.  And it may have been enjoyable, had the book been severely edited and the author not used “incredulously” about 78 times.   I’m clearly in the minority, but I have no idea why this book is a bestseller.

Since I’m on the entertainment kick, the DVR on our TV is filling up by the day.  I can’t keep up.  Unless the kids are watching a cartoon, the television is off for most of the day.  We listen to music instead.  At night, I get excited to see what the DVR has in store for me, but there’s not enough time in the day to catch up.  So Idol had to go.  The audition rounds are so contrived anyway.  I’ll check back in when they go live and there’s some actual talent there.  Until then, I keep fast forwarding through commercials as I get my percentages down.

Gymnastics has started again for Beanie.  She is a rock star on the balance beam.  She looks ahead, puts one tiny foot in front of the other, and motors right across the four foot high beam.  All while singing.  She uses a high pitch and sings her way across, happy as a lark.  I love it.

It’s getting late and I should work on that DVR percentage while I have the chance.  Stay tuned!

Another new year is upon us, and as Lori at Barefoot in High Heels reminds me, it is time to make those dreaded resolutions. Every year I struggle to find something that I can stick with throughout all four seasons. Lately, I seem to catch little clips from the morning shows and Oprah about unleashing a new you. Most of these segments begin with intentions of weight loss. They all review the same information from last year’s show, such as eat right, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep. All three are things to which I should devote time in the New Year. With those in mind, I’ll make my top ten list.

1. Eat better. (I’m not as enlightened as some with their nutritional mumbo jumbo, but I can cut back on fatty and sugary foods and replace them with more veggies.)

2. Exercise regularly. (I’ll be honest. After having two babies within nearly a year of one another, I was amazed at how the weight came off just by not having time to eat. But now, the weight is off but things are, well, um…let’s say they are “out of place”. So I just told the hubby I’ll be making a date with our treadmill as much as possible to put those wandering parts back in line.)

3. Get sleep. (This one is easy. The kids are sleeping now, and I’ve been staying up late relishing time to read, watch TV, and fall asleep on the couch in a hazy cloud. But I’ve been meaning to back up my bedtime by about an hour. The goal now is 11:15, right after the local weather report.)

4. Drink water. (Two pregnancies back to back found me carrying bottles of water everywhere I went. I was a good girl. I drank like a fish. Now, I enjoy one can of pop a day. Not so bad, except that I haven’t been drinking water throughout the rest of the day. Time to turn on the tap again.)

5. Read more. (Now that things have settled down, I want to read more. I have some books on hold at the library and a few in my pile in the meantime. Now I just need to snuggle up and read.)

6. Write more. (I have some good ideas. I really do. I need to put them to paper, or on screen as the case may be, and see what happens. I have two pieces out now, and I need a rotating stash to submit to publishers when I get those inevitable rejections.)

7. Stay informed. (This one is tough. Since the kids are at that age where they understand MUCH more than we think, I have turned off the news. I used to know what was going in fairly soon after it happened. Now, I’m a little slow on the breaking news. It’s worth it so that the kids don’t see the ugliness that is live and in living color now. But I need to find time to catch up online and stay atop of the stories that affect the country and the world.)

8. Make playdates. (I am one of the only stay-at-home mothers I know in my circle of friends and family nearby, so it’s hard to make playdates easily. And up until this point, it wasn’t much of a playdate because the kids were so small. I couldn’t really just sit back and watch them play. And with Bubs, I really still can’t. But we are getting closer to all out playdates that are fun for both the kids and me as well.)

9. Shop smarter. (This one has been in effect for awhile, but I should improve upon it. I use coupons at the grocery store, shop mostly during sales, and bargain hunt online. Every penny adds up.)

10. Keep my closet organized. (I really think this one is the hardest for me. I reorganize two to three times a year, usually at season changes. Somehow, no matter how nice and neat everything looks, it inevitably becomes disheveled as I tear through it trying to find something in a hurry. It sure would be nice to keep it put together this year. But really, who has time for that when doing all these other things? This one might have to go.)

So there’s my list. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Happy New Year!

Last year, we heard enough about Wall Street and “Main Street” and, quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about bailouts and depressing economic predictions on either street. This year, I prefer a different, more fun street. Easy Street.

While I was walking the malls with my pregnant waddle and an infant in a stroller, people looked at me like I had lost my marbles. “How far apart will your babies be?” I was asked everywhere I went.

“Thirteen months,” I would answer with a smile that conveyed that I’d had this conversation before and was ready for the second, usually nosy, comment. It was generally something like, “Oh my God. You’ll never sleep again.” Or “Did you want babies that close?” Or “I couldn’t imagine taking care of kids a year apart. It’s so hard.” Thank you for the encouragement, ladies.

But occasionally, someone would follow up the “how far” question with something interesting and insightful. It was like a breath of fresh air.

“Really? My kids are 13 months apart and it was the best thing I ever did.” Or “I never would have planned mine to be so close either but it works out and they are close for life.” Or even “you are going to be busy but it’s the best kind of busy.”

So, one day not so long ago, while I was pregnant with Bubs, I remembered a little gem of wisdom from a mother with kids in tow. She said, “I won’t sugar coat it. It’s hard in the beginning with two so close. But you do what you have to in the beginning. The first year is hard. But once the youngest hits one, it is so much easier. Get through the first year and you will be amazed at how much easier it becomes.”

I wondered at the time, will it really take a year? I was hoping for a little let-up after four months, maybe six. A year seemed like an eternity.

But here I sit, as Bubs turned one two days after Christmas, and I can say that woman was right.

In my son’s infant stage, he had acid reflux. Badly. And it wasn’t just the spitting up. I can handle spit up. Trust me. I’ve been covered in it to such a degree that I could market a new fragrance. It was the wincing, the arching, the screeching out in pain. I cried. A bunch. It was hard to see my little guy in pain and not be able to help with just the touch of my arms or the sound of my voice. But, with the help of a little medicine and a lot of reading, we got through it.

He also didn’t sleep. And I don’t mean normal “babies don’t sleep” kind of insomnia. I mean, he would sleep for only 45 minutes to an hour at a time, night after night, month after month. I have never, ever felt that kind of sleep deprivation and I hope not to ever again. I remember saying, “He’s six months old! He should be sleeping!” I was grateful for those odd nights when he slept three hours at a time. People would ask, “How is the sleeping going?” I would reply happily, “He had a good night last night. I got a three hour block.” And I could hear their jaw hitting the floor because, really, three hour blocks at six months is a dismal performance, but I was so thankful for the little respite I could find. Miraculously, the night of October 20, 2008, he decided to sleep through the night and continued to this very day. It was such a monumental night that I remember the date. So we got through it.

During this time, Beans got a new myoelectric arm, started to talk, and learned to walk. For the first four months of Bubs life, Beanie scooted to get around. Slowly, at first and then more quickly. It was quite the sight. I lost my baby weight quickly as I spent my days picking up and moving both kids from one place to another because she wasn’t yet walking. I lugged Bub’s carseat to Beanie’s therapy sessions, learned to grocery shop with two kids in the cart, and mastered getting them in and out of the car relatively quickly while running errands. At first, it took me a good hour to get out of the house. Now, I move faster than Superman as I race around and get them loaded and to our destination on time, most days.

And now, one year later, I am sitting on the couch as both kids are sleeping. And I’m blogging. And reading. And meeting friends for the occasional dinner. And raising awareness for Variety. And writing. And just keeping up.

That woman with two kids in the mall that day was right. One year is the turning point. And now it’s Easy Street most days. Don’t get me wrong. Even the nicest streets have cracks in the sidewalk that trip you up when you aren’t looking. But it’s worth it to take that walk. Just remember to take a warm coat, some comfy shoes, and a bag with some extra diapers and wipes for emergencies.

an angel gets its wings.

Yes, it is that time of year when we gather with family and friends to celebrate all that is good and right with the world. We open that bottle of wine that we never seem to have time for, find a cozy blanket, and watch a flurry of Christmas classics like It’s a Wonderful Life.

At one point, George asks Mary, “You want the moon, Mary?” Men, take note. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.

This year, I feel like I was handed the moon. And it isn’t round and far away. She is just down the hall, sleeping in her crib, holding on to her Bunny, Carebear, and Duck. She is two now, and I can now say with confidence that she will make big strides in this world. Somethings you just know, and this I know.

Right now, I’m not the only one that knows this. The Hubby and our families and friends have this confidence in little Beanie, too. And on Christmas Day, I”m hoping more people will know it, too.

On Christmas Day, before you run out to see what presents Santa has hidden under the tree, put your cozy slippers and robe on and run out the door to get your copy of The Detroit News. Our daughter’s story will be there, and we’re told it may even be the front page story. If not, it will be found inside Section A. Just look for her bouncy pigtails jumping off the page. You can’t miss it!

It will appear in all editions of the paper, and if you aren’t in Michigan, never fear. The Internet is a wonderful thing. Just check out www.detnews.com and scan away for those baby blue eyes!

You’ll learn her name if you check it the paper on that wonderful day. And that’s ok. Who knows? One day, her name might be bigger than any of us could imagine. Just don’t tell her that for a moment, when she was just a curled up bundle inside mommy’s tummy, I thought about calling her Zu-Zu. I really did.

It’s been a busy time, as usual, around here. I’m sure everyone is feeling that time is slipping away as the holidays grow ever closer. I’ve never been one to say that I get “stressed out” about the holidays, though. Really, I have bigger things to “stress” about rather than gift buying and decorating the house. I consider those generally to be fun things to do. This year, though, many people are stressed about the finances associated with gift buying, decorating, and feasting for Christmas celebrations. This includes the Bloggerista’s family, which is why I am a deal shopper. I brave the crowds every year, with the exception of the last two years because I was with a newborn or very, very pregnant. This year, I took back my space in the parking lot and shopped on Black Friday.

Now, apparently, if you haven’t heard, we are in a recession. The economy is failing. Times are tough. However, if you were at a mall at approximately 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, you would think certainly this is a falsehood. Parking lots were packed, stores had lines wrapping around in circles inside so as to not cause the sensor at the front door to do that annoying loud beeping that nobody really checks out anyway, and people were making trips to their cars because they couldn’t carry all of their purchases. I did this. Three times. I told you, I excel at bargain shopping.

Ok, so it was Black Friday and people expect crazy shopping to happen that day. I’m sure you all heard of the poor worker trampled to death at Walmart because a bunch of people are nuts for televisions. It’s disgusting really. But that’s another post for another day.

Now I generally try to go to the mall with my kids during the week to walk, window shop, grab lunch while they watch the carousel, and count how many other mothers with strollers we pass making loops around the mall. It’s quite pleasant actually. You don’t have to say “excuse me” a thousand times or wait in line for a simple Coke and a cookie from Mrs. Fields. It’s relaxing, and if you do need assistance at a store, there are more than enough employees to help you.

In the last two weeks, however, I managed to arrive at a nearby mall on two different Sundays. I thought it would be a quick trip, as I am so used to the ease of weekday shopping. Ok, so maybe it might be a little bit busier. Surely, I couldn’t be turning into one of those people who says, “I don’t shop on the weekends. It’s too crowded. I don’t like the mall on weekends.” Who doesn’t like a mall based on what day it is?

Well, me. I’ve crossed enemy lines and I want my weekday pleasantries back, please.

Yes, I know it is the Christmas season. But I kid you not when I say that the ENTIRE parking lot was FULL. I was circling and circling, just waiting for that person who is always ever so slowly sauntering back to the car that is in a aisle she doesn’t really remember. More circling. Nobody was leaving.

Really? Everyone is in the mall, shopping, and nobody is leaving. I thought everyone was broke. Ok fine. I’ll be patient.

I finally get a spot, three hundred yards away, and my mother and I haul the kids into the stroller and make a mad dash for the department store doors. Once inside, we take off their coats and hats and position the snacks and sippy cups accordingly. I should have dressed them in short sleeves, though. It is so packed inside that we can feel the warmth of too many bodies in one place. Ick.

Speaking of bodies, there are far too many in the Apple store. Now, I know that people like their technology. I’m using a wireless laptop to blog on as I type, and I have convinced myself that it is an essential item in our household. But, I’ve never quite understood the mass of people loitering around in the Apple store. How many iPods do you need, really? I still don’t own one, and at this point, I’m thinking of making that a permanent mantra (unless someone bought me one for Christmas–then I will gladly accept). Anyway, the last few times I have been to the mall, I walk past the Apple store to get to the center, where the all-knowing, super-plump Santa sits. The kids like to wave and look at Santa, so we head there first on most December days. But as we pass the Apple store, there is a distinct smell.

I know it well. I taught high school, remember? It’s too many people in one small space. It instantly takes me back to those passing times where I watched two hundred kids cram their backpacks, coats, and books into lockers that were only 6 inches wide. You do the math. Average high schoolers are wider than 6 inches across, but somehow they are all supposed to stand there simultaneously and shove their belongings in that space in one minute flat before running off to the other side of the building. But, I digress.

This smell is obnoxious. But the store isn’t as packed as a high school locker bay. It’s just full of people who mill around and touch every little screen they can get their greasy little fingers on. You think I’m kidding? Check out those touch screens when you walk by one day. There are little prints all over them. You wouldn’t need a CSI team to catch a criminal there. You can visibly see multiple sets of hands on each little device.

The last time I went to the mall was with the Hubby, and I mentioned the Apple store and its stench. He caught a whiff, too. And we quickly moved on. It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode, as many things do in life. “When the B leaves, the O goes.” That is how it is supposed to work. And really, with the economy faltering as it is, more people should take note. Save your money and have cleaner air. Now who can argue with that?

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