Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prayers Needed

I came across this story via a friend's blog. Shawn's friend Andrea just got some difficult news during her 20 week ultrasound. Needless to say, both George and I were in tears after reading it. As parents, it's impossible not to imagine what it would be like to receive such devastating news. Her courage and faith are awe-inspiring though.

Read her story at http://chasing2boys.blogspot.com/

Please keep her and the baby in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lesson Learned

This is the story of how a 27 pound two year old reduced her mother into a wimpering, quivering beat down dog over a few silly pictures.

It all started innocently enough. After an hour's drive to the nearest portrait studio, we pull into the mall and Olivia, observant as usual, hollers, "Choo choo train!" She recognizes the place where we've recreated in the choo choo train play area and thinks this is our sole purpose for being here. "That's right," I told her. "We'll play on the choo choo after our pictures." That seemed to satisfy her. We arrived in the portrait studio and the plan was Olivia first, then Nate, then the two together. She cooperated with the photographer's requests, well, at least as much as her attention span would allow. We got some very pretty pictures of this charming and charismatic young lady.

That is where the light and happiness ends. It was Nate's turn to strike a pose but Olivia had in her little 2 year old mind that it was time for the choo choo train. After all, she cooperated, and mommy said "after the pictures," right? A meltdown erupted. While Nate was being photographed, I was on the side lines with Olivia as she kicked, screamed, tried to punch me and threw her body limp onto the floor. How we got any decent pictures of her brother with that going on I'll never know. Thank you portrait gods.

Our photographer was so patient. She tactfully suggested we take a break, get a snack or drink, and maybe visit the play area. "We don't have any other appointments until 4, so take as long as you need." (And she must have been thinking, "and please come back with the sweet, demure little girl you walked in here with instead of the little @$%*head she morphed into.") So, we did just that. Olivia walked all the way through the mall holding my hand and trying to contain her excitement about the choo choo. We played for 30 minutes or so, then headed back into battle.

She was a little rambunctious when we were trying to get pictures of her and Nate together, but was, for the most part, cooperative. However, when the camera stopped flashing, "Olivia dark" reappeared. She decides to start running a 40 yard dash into Sears. As I'm chasing her, I'm also wrestling with Nate. I feel like I'm running down the field holding onto a 20 pound football for dear life as he bounces around, my arm squeezing him with the force of an anaconda. When I finally catch her, after ducking and diving in between the clothes racks, she decides to lose the use of her legs. So now I am dragging a lifeless toddler through Sears and back to the Portrait Studio. This series of events, the escape, the chase, the capture, the drag back, happens three or four times. I admit defeat. I tell our photographer that I'll have to order my pictures over the phone. I shove my credit card across the counter and just pray that she doesn't make another mad dash.

By the time we get loaded into the car, I can actually feel my blood pressure soaring, pounding. My hands are shaking and I've broken out into a sweat. If I could have right there, I would have laid down in the back and curled up into the fetal position, whimpering. Needless to say, there will be no more Olivia portraits until she turns at least three. I have been assured by portrait studio staff that three is the magic age when they actually enjoy having their picture taken. They actually like to pose. Let's hope she's right. I don't think I'd survive another experience like that. With Nate, I'll be smarter. I won't even bother with a formal portrait session between the ages of 18 mos and 3 years. Don't even want to risk it!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Our New Addition

I've posted before about being an animal lover, even as a small child. I also had a very direct way of asking for what I wanted. I went straight for shock value. My dad still tells the story about finding me laying in the middle of Gatewood Drive, pleading, "Please dad. I neeeed a dogggg." I guess I figured that if a car came by and ran over me it would be better than having to live without a canine companion. Shortly thereafter, we got a little black poodle puppy from my babysitter. We named him Choo Choo, and from what I'm told, it's because his mommy was Chi Chi. Very original. Choo Choo was an escape artist and my mom was constantly having to fetch him from the pound. My dad would be filling a hole under the fence on one side of the yard and Choo Choo would be digging a new hole on the other side. Some time later, I was given a sheltie. Some family friends had a teenage daughter, Nancy, who died from leukemia. Auggie was her dog and I would always visit him. I guess after she passed away, they knew that I would love him as much as Nancy did. He was the best dog a kid could want. I have fond memories of Auggie and Choo Choo waiting at the bus stop for me after school. They were there every day, without fail, waiting for the bus to drop me off. I think I was in about the 3rd grade when Choo Choo ran away. Auggie disappeared a day later, maybe to go look for his buddy. Neither dog ever returned. It was my first broken heart.

About a month ago, Olivia started asking for a dog. "We have a dog, Buster" I reminded her. "No, a new dog" she retorted. This went on for about a week, and each time, her request stayed the same. A NEW dog. I'm surprised I didn't find her laying out in the middle of Hay Field Lane, pleading, just like I did so many years ago. After a few days of throwing the idea around, we decided to visit the local shelter. George had seen a picture on their website of a female german short-haired pointer that he was interested in. George's Lady (a female german short-haired pointer mix) died the year after he was married. I think he was hoping for a replacement. We were disappointed when we arrived that the shelter would only adopt her to a house with a fenced yard. "She's an escape artist," they told us. In fact, she even escaped the 6-foot fence at the shelter. All the other dogs were too big, or not housebroken. I took one last lap around the kennels and saw the cutest, scruffy muffy face staring back at me.

We took him out in the yard to play. He was very timid, and particularly afraid of George, but he was gentle with the kids and warmed up to me right away. We brought Buster in to meet him, and in typical Buster fashion, he totally snubbed Charlie. He allowed a few sniffs, then wandered off. It was a few days before our application was approved and we got to bring Charlie home. It's been an interesting 2 weeks, but Charlie seems to be making himself right at home now. He loves to play ball in the yard, even entertaining himself by tossing the ball up in the air and catching it, then running back and forth from one end of the yard to the other. He's learning to play fetch too, and will bring the ball 3/4 of the way back to George now.

He really likes to help clean the highchairs. You can see, he's Johnny on the Spot. He doesn't even wait for Olivia to finish before he starts the cleanup process.

Nate's highchair is always full of little nuggets of deliciousness, and Charlie's the perfect height for the job.

We are all enjoying Charlie. Often we'll find Olivia with her arms wrapped around Charlie's neck saying, "I love you Charlie," or "Charlie fluffy" or "Nice dog. Good boy." He's very tolerant of all her attention. I look forward to seeing our new addition grow with our family.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not Already!

It seems as though Nate is developing so quickly that I'm having trouble keeping up with new posts to document the changes! Within the last week, I published a post about him crawling off to explore the house, pulling up on furniture and standing. Now he's pulling himself up to standing in his crib as well. I guess it's time to lower that mattress already!

He's also doing a "Great Balls of Fire" Jerry Lewis thing and standing in front of the baby grand piano while he plays it.

Right now, he's all about exploring ways to move his body and get around. He has certainly shown us that he has no fear. He sees something, and he goes for it. If he falls down, he just shakes it off and tries again.

I think he'll be chasing Olivia all around the yard this summer. Now, if it would ever quit snowing here...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Strong Man!

Our little Natester is pulling himself up on furniture! Granted, Olivia's chair is a small, low piece, but I'm impressed anyway! If the chair isn't available, he'll try and pull himself up on my pant leg or the couch. He looks pretty proud of himself, doesn't he?

If we give him a bit of help to full standing, he can stay that way for several minutes. Maybe he'll just skip true crawling all together? Either way, this boy is doing everything he can to keep pace with his sister.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Digging In

Nate is still not officially crawling, but he sure is getting around by just digging his little elbows in and pushing with his knees. He's becoming very curious about what lies down the hall, and isn't shy about heading off on his own to explore. I've found him in my room, Olivia's room, and the spare bathroom. It only takes him a minute or two to disappear and I'm off to hunt him down.

Here he is heading down the hall and coming around the corner.

All sorts of neat toys are hiding in his big sister's bedroom and he has decided to get down there one way or another. Nate and Olivia were putting on a concert. Livy's in the background banging on the drum. It was music to my ears!

He's also not shy about heading off on his own when we're away from home either. On Tuesdays we spend the morning at Indoor Gym. It's held in an old elementary school gym and there are lots of toys for toddlers to play with, ride on, and slide down. The last time we were there, Mr. Independent just crawled off chasing after a ball. Didn't even look back at mommy. He's got places to go, and toys to find!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dinosaur Diaries, Vol. 1

Olivia got a box full of dinosaurs from Grandma. There were baby dinosaurs that looked a lot like the characters in The Land Before Time, squishy dinosaurs that have dragon-like characteristics, and a few others that are a bit more realistic looking. She has been playing with these creatures non-stop! She likes to line them up below the aquarium in what she calls their "cave."

She also likes to line them up on the windowsill and make them "grrr" at each other, bite each other, or nip the other's tail.

It's really funny to see her imagination at work. Yesterday, she shared her apple and yogurt snack with a dinosaur. Anything to get her to eat healthier snack. Unfortunately, one dinosaur has even been used as a weapon against her brother, inflicting a slight injury to his forehead. That earned her a timeout and the dreaded threat to send the dinos back to Grandma if she couldn't behave!

Nate has been enjoying the dinosaurs too. He especially likes to chew on the squishy ones. Here he is trying to maneuver the whole dinosaur into his little mouth. YUM!

Who knows what the Vol. 2 of Dinosaur Diaries will bring!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Apres Nap

Lately, Olivia's been waking up from her naps with some interesting bits of info. She's had a cold for the last week or so and has had the typical stuffy nose to go along. The other day she calls out to me from her crib, "Mama, pick up me!" When I enter the room, she's standing up and she has already taken her binky out. Her pointer finger is raised and she says, "Look! Boo-oogie!" After I wiped off her finger, she goes digging for more gold, so to speak. She tips her head back so I can see up her nose. "More boogies, mama?" And then asks, "Mama have boogies?" So, I let her take a peek. Fair enough. But then she tries to stick pointer up MY nose. No way Jose!

Today, she wakes from her nap after only 30 minutes. Again, she's calling for me, "Awake!" This time, she tells me, "Big poopie! Stinky. P-U!" She was dead-on with her description. While I'm changing her diaper, she tells me, "Room spooky" and "spooky monkey." I imagine she had a bad dream about a monkey. She told George about it when he got home too. I think he finally convinced her that no monkey was going to get her. We'll see what kind of stories she wakes up with next!