Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Good For What Ails Ya

Work is stressful - VERY stressful these days. Especially for the Hubby. Busy, busy time of year. Lots of 'yuck" to potentially bottle up and bring home each night.

Enter - Sweetie. The FOM-pillow-hat-wearing, Abba singing, "neckalace" accessorizing, Hide & Seek playing, Doodle Board "drawling" little bundle of energy, silliness, love and fun we are so honored to be the adoring parents of.

She sure knows how to bring things into perspective. She lightens up, not only the room, but our lives as well.

Yay, Sweetie! Thanks for being you and for reminding us of the important things in life.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Mama Monday #2

Theme: Silly

I think one of Sweetie's favorite words is "silly". Daddy is silly, she hears people say silly things, she loves to laugh and be silly, and silly knock knock jokes are her favorite things to share and learn.

Anything will do, really. Which makes it easier for her Daddy and I to entertain her.

Sweetie's joke for us:

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Potatoes who?

Potatoes turn into french fries!
(she's bursts into hysterical laughter at her own "silly" answer)

Our joke for Sweetie:

Knock knock

Who's there?


Mama who?

Mama Mia, here I go again...
(we laugh at our lame attempt at entertaining her. She just continues on, belting out the rest of the chorus "My, my, how can I resist you?" But she's happy.)

Silly girl. Sure do love you. :)

Mama Monday #1

Hi all. I'm starting a new thing here - "Mama Monday" - a special posting dedicated to the weekly themes suggested over at Mama Says Om.

This isn't replacing any other posts I'll do per week - it's an added feature I'll do along with my regular checking in.

It may or may not have anything to do with motherhood or disability, but it will always be a creative outlet for me that's hopefully interesting and fun for you.

I'm going to play catch up a bit and post 2 "Mama Monday"'s today - because I'm intrigued by the theme from last week, as well as the current one.

So, without further ado, here goes...

20 Things

1) I was born on the 20th of the month

2) So was my daughter

3) So was my eldest niece

4) I love bright colors - like red

5) But I also love earthy colors like greens, browns and oranges

6) I maintain that browns can be bright as well - my husband begs to differ

7) I've been to Disney World and I can't wait to return - with Sweetie and Hubby (both of whom have never been)

8) I've been to France and I can't wait to return - with Sweetie (who's never been) and Hubby (who's studied there and took me there in the first place)

9) I'm the youngest of 4 kids

10) I'm also the only girl

11) I have 4 nieces and 5 nephews - the oldest just turned 19, the youngest is only 5 months old

12) My favorite number is 23

13) My mom calls me Louise. I don't know why and neither does she. She's the only person allowed to call me this

14) One of my brothers calls me "A". He is the only one who call me this. That's cool with me

15) My middle name is my maternal grandmother's maiden name, and I love it

16) My daugher has 2 middle names - the first is representative of the time of year she was born, the second is in honor of my maternal grandmother

17) I love to write

18) I work at a newspaper, but not in a writing capacity (hardcore newswriting isn't my thing)

19) I'd love to have a writing career

20) I'm not twenty years old. Far from it actually. Well, maybe not that far????!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Flattered, But - I Don't Think So

I recently heard about this site and thought I'd have a go at it.

Turns out, according to them, I look 62% like Kate Beckinsale.


Even my husband says "uh uh". He says maybe we have the same nose. But that's it.

I'm surprised, though. I've always thought I looked a bit like Audry Hepburn. Others have told me this too. Her, and Carrie Strug (you know, that little gymnast from some years back who became the hero of the Olympics when she vaulted perfectly after injuring her leg).

Well, Audry and Carrie didn't turn up at all in my results. But Kate Beckinsale came out on top as the celebrity I most look like. Others mentioned were - are you ready for this? - Jon Bon Jovi, Chelsea Clinton and Beyonce Knowles.

Yeah, I know. I'm just as clueless as you all. Whatever.

Anyway, here's the picture I submitted of myself:

And here's Kate's:

(Oh, and for the record - Sweetie just came up to me as I was posting these pictures and - I swear to God - she saw Kate's picture and said "she's just like you, Mommy". )

Always Up For A Challenge

...Maybe that's why I let the house get so messy - all the better to test my balance as I teeter and twist across the toy-strewn living room floor.

...Also, a messy house makes for more satisfying results when I finally do pick up. Wow! What a difference!

Yes, I've always claimed that I do like a challenge. My day job has me challenged all the time - always something new to figure out and make work.

And at home I'm challenged - raising my very active, healthy daughter under the confines of what my physically disabled body allows me to do.

And who knew what exactly a pregnancy would be like for me?! It really could have been a lot worse. I could have had to use a wheelchair for the better part of those (for me) 37 weeks. But I got though - walking and thriving all the way!

Yes, I do like a challenge. I've pushed the limits of my body by skiing, travelling, hiking, swimming, raising a child and more.

And now I'm going to push the limits of my mind by signing up for yet another on-line course. But this time - it's FREE! You heard me - FREE!

Barnes & Noble University offers several classes on self improvement, writing - even geneaology and finance management, along with so many others. All for the low, low cost of - NOTHING! (Yes, there are books involved for each class - books you can purchase through good ol' Barnes & Noble, of course. But why not check out your library first to see if you can borrow them through there? That's what I'm going to try.)

Thanks to Diary of a Reluctant Housewife for turning me, and all her readers, on to this wonderful opportunity. And for the library idea. Because of her post, I've added a new category in my sidebar, called Self Improvement. And B&N University is right there on top.

Check out all my Self Improvement links. You'll find great resources you can use to challenge your mind, body and spirit!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

You Know You're Getting Old When...

... Your friends think you epitomize cool because you own an appliance that toasts bread and steams a poached egg at the same time.

Ah, but no, they're the one's who ooze cool because they own a Roomba

- My husband just hired a grown woman with a college degree who was born in 1986 and is only months older than our oldest niece.

- And what the heck is a "Holla Back Girl", anyway?!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lesser of Two Evils (1 of 3 Entries for Today)

Well, maybe not "evils", but a difficult choice, nonetheless.

My husband and I typically work a 8-5 work week. At the same office, no less, which makes commuting more bearable, at least.

But now hubby has informed me that he has to work the late shift for the next several Thursdays. This means working until 11pm - not home until 11:45 or so. Yuck.

Last Thursday was the first with this new schedule. He and I talked about it and decided that sleeping over at my parents' house that night would be preferable all around to sleeping at home. My parents live closer to our work than we do, so hubby would get "home" quicker that way. Plus, I would have some help with getting Sweetie off to bed. Sounded good to us!

It was fine, I guess. My niece and her boyfriend were at my parents' as well for the evening, so it was a bit of a party atmosphere (okay, maybe not "party", but much more lively than just Sweetie and I hanging out at home, of course). There were enough adults around so that I got some "alone" time (albeit in the midst of all the activity) to write a quick blog entry and check my email. So that was good.

But then it was time to get Sweetie ready for bed. Something I obviously deal with every night. And, almost every night, Sweetie doesn't want to get her pajammies on and puts up a bit of a fight. Again, something I'm used to. If she ever gets too riled up I can enlist the support of hubby to hold her down while I change her. But most of the time I can handle this part just fine on my own.

Well, as soon as Sweetie started to put up just a bit of a fuss, my mom came on the scene and helped me out. Even though I told her I could do it on my own. Even though my dad told her "Honey, let Amy take care of it." She still did what she could to control Sweetie's not-too-terrible squirms.

Alright. Whatever. I appreciate that my mom is there to help and that Sweetie is comfortable with her Nana and the discipline she doles out. It's a good thing, I guess.

So then Sweetie went to bed. My parents live in a ranch-style home, so I easily could have walked her to bed and even lifted her into her Pack and Play. Instead, mom scooped her up and carried her to bed, handed her her Teddy and tucked her in. I followed and said goodnight. That's about it. Whoopie.

All was fine for about an hour our so. Then Sweetie, very uncharacteristically, woke up screaming. By the time mom and I figured out it was Sweetie and not the T.V. show my niece was watching, we both hurried to her room. Apparently, Sweetie had woken up and, I guess, was a bit frightened because she forgot where she was.

So it was mom to the rescue again. She picked her up and comforted her, asking Sweetie what was wrong and what she needed. I followed and tried to talk Sweetie down too. Mom carried her out to the family room, where we tried to get Sweetie to take some cold medicine (she was still getting over her latest bug at the time). Sweetie wouldn't have any of that, though, and just continued her cries, mom holding her all the while. Finally, Sweetie climbed onto my lap (yes!) and hugged me tight, finally calming down in my arms. She was finally calm enough to realize everything was okay and she could go back to bed. Again, mom took her from me and we 3 trotted off for bedtime again. This time Sweetie tucked in nicely and quietly went to sleep for the rest of the night.

I didn't sleep well, though. I was in the middle of a cold myself, so that, combined with not-my-own-bed made for a restless night. Plus, I didn't know how to set the alarm clock in the dark (we slept in the same room as Sweetie). I ended up waking up too early, probably because I intuitively didn't want to sleep too late.

So - do I want to continue my Thursday nights like this - not being able to fully take care of my own child? Or do I decide to go home so that Sweetie and I have no choice but to deal with each other, no matter what good or bad things may occur?

I don't know yet. Which is worse? Which is less comfortable? Which is less comforting? I need to think about this some more and make the best decision for us all.

Get Psyched!

My husband has joined forces with a friend and formed a small group over at PEERtrainer. Basically, it's an on-line program for charting your foods and exercise while encouraging your small group of like-minded trainees to do the same. Seems like, similar to Sweetie's eating well while at school, the peer pressure of keeping up with your group will push you all toward successful weight loss. Cool.

I personally don't need to lose any weight. I could probably stand to gain a few pounds, actually. But I do have 1 or 2 bad habits I'd like to kick.

With this in mind, I went web-surfing for a PEERtrainer for bad habits. But I couldn't find any.

So I'd like to propose the formation of one right now.

If any of you, my faithful readers, have any nagging habits you just can't seem to kick, I invite you right now to contact me for the very first Bad Habit Breaking Peer Training Group.

I know over at the weight loss trainer, they like to keep the groups small - about 4 people each. But I'm not going to put any such restrictions on my group yet. I'd like to see what kind of response I get first. Then, if we need to, we'll break off into smaller groups.

So - come one, come all. I know you're out there. Lets get motivated, together, to become the best individuals we can be!

The Unbreakable Law


Murphy and his dang Law are at it again.

Every time I publicly endorse a discipline technique we're successfully using on Sweetie, that very day/night she breaks her streak of good behavior.

And every time she slips a little in her behavior, I fear that she'll never return to the "good" ways.

I'm not going to speak of the exact behavior that strayed (Murphy's eyes and ears are always on the lookout), but suffice it to say - IT NEVER FAILS. Talking/writing = bad karma in Toddler Land.

Curse You, Mr. Murphy, and your little Law too!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Because, Because, Because, Because, Becaaaauuuse!

Title note: think "Wizard of Oz" when you read this entry's title.

I thought all toddlers drove their parents crazy with "why" questions all day long. Why is the sky blue? Why is that man wearing a hat? Why do I have to go to bed? You know, the usual.

Well, not my daughter. Nope. She's a "because" girl, she is.

In fact, the whole "why" thing was really the last obstacle to break through in our ability to communicate fully with Sweetie. She just didn't get it. We'd ask her why she was doing such and such, or why she wanted whatever it was she desired, and she'd just stare at us blankly. Probably wondering why were we throwing out this random letter of the alphabet whenever she asked us for something.

Now she understands. I (kind of) remember the first time she actually answered a why question. That is, I can't remember what exactly she was asking for, but I remember her response. She had come into our room early one morning this past summer. I think she may have been asking to go downstairs, to which my husband and I asked her why she wanted to do this. She sat for a few seconds then simply said "I don't know."

Okay, so maybe not the greatest of responses, but at least it was an appropriate one.

Anyway, even though she "gets" the whole why thing now, she really doesn't take advantage of asking all those crazy questions. Instead, she tells us why she's doing things. Or even what she's doing - makes no difference to her - it's all the same.

"Sweetie, do you want a peanut butter sandwhich or macaroni and cheese"

"Ummm, I think because I'm sitting right here in my big girl seat, because I wanted to have macaroni and cheese because I was dancing and I was hungry because I'm sitting right here now so I can eat much better."

(Okay, so I may have taken some liberties with that "quote" because I really can't remember exactly what she said. But, seriously, she went on for a good 3 minutes last night explaining something to my husband and I and she used at least 6 or 7 "because"'s.)

It's absolutely exhausting to listen to her. We just sit there, eyes wide open, letting her ramble on, and on, and on, and on.

She's got something to say, let me tell ya. And she's gonna say it, alright. Because that's just what she has to do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Our Sweet Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!

Show some love and click on over to vote for me in the "Share the Love Blog Awards". Voting is from today, February 14th, to February 20th. I'm nominated in the Best Writing category as well as Most Inspirational. If you agree, click on me! :)

* To vote, click on the "Share The Love Blog Awards Nominee" icon in my sidebar, or just click here. Either will take you to the "One Woman's World" blog where you will find voting instructions and categories under her February 14th entry. Thanks so much!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Day

Well, the storm won out. Our travel plans are pushed back a day.

Sweetie went outside to "help" her Daddy clear some snow. Yep, we're starting her young. Lord knows I can't help - might as well get her on board. :)

When It Snows It Blizzards

We did have a quiet weekend planned. Then a death in the family turned our lives upside down. We'll be heading out later today for the wake and funeral - in a snow storm, of course. Why doesn't the weather ever cooperate when you need it to the most?

Anyway, I think I'll let my husband take the reigns today. He wrote a wonderful entry about his amazing young cousin. Click on over and take a look.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yup - She's My Daughter

Sweetie loves Abba. Their greatest hits album is all she's wanted to listen to at Nana's house this past week.

Do you know how funny it is to hear our adorable little 3-year old passionately singing "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme a Man After Midnight" as we stroll through the grocery store? Or "Money, Money, Money - Always Sunny - In a Rich Man's World."?

I’m so proud.

I grew up on Abba. I lived in Cleveland, OH when I was young, and every summer my family would take the 12-14 hour drive to MA to visit my grandparents and extended family. Abba helped to make those long, long, LONG car trips bearable. Our big, yellow & white Chevy Suburban became a "Dancing Queen". We happy travelers said "Thank You For The Music" and for making our trip so fun.

I can't wait 'til she starts singing "Does Your Mother Know”. Priceless.

I can also tell this child is my own because - BOY IS SHE STUBBORN!

Yes, she's shown stubborn tendencies before, of course. But tonight she reached new heights.

For starters, she bit her Daddy tonight when he scooped her up in his arms to say hi. She did this to me, too, a couple weeks back, forcing us to cancel play date plans and also to implement a time out on the Naughty Chair - for the first time ever. That time around it took a good half hour or so before I finally got my apology and she was able to get off the chair. Tonight, since we were in transit from Nana's house to our own - with 2 more stops along the way - she didn't get her turn in the Naughty Chair until about 1 1/2 hours after the offense. And then it was a good 30 minutes more before the apology finally came.

She also stubbornly would not take off her coat once we got home, even though she knew it was the only way she was going to get the "breakfast bar" that she so desired. No, this one wasn't such a huge disciplinary problem, but it was still an opportunity to show off her bull-headedness, adopted from her Taurean mother.

Lastly, she would NOT open her mouth to let me brush her teeth. Nor would she brush them herself. I confess, we haven't been terribly consistent about slipping this nighttime task into the routine, but still - she's never before put up this big a fight about getting it done.

In the end I was so mad that I gave up and had my husband take her directly from the bathroom to her bed. I usually accompany them up, help tuck her in, pick out her clothes for the next day, and say goodnight. But her behavior tonight had pushed me over the edge and I left my husband to deal with her himself.

Because of her bad behavior, there was no gentle tucking in, no "Good Night, Sweetie", no nothing. He swiftly placed her in bed, turned out the light and left. She got out only once - as is her usual "game" - and he silently put her back. We thought she'd keep us busy for hours what with getting out of bed and such but, miraculously, one time was it. No crying or anything. She's been asleep for over an hour now.

She obviously needs some sleep.

I need a drink.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Miss Cindy Is My Hero

I hardly know her - only saw her once - but I love her.

Sweetie's Totercise teacher at school is physically disabled. I don't know what her disability is exactly, but I know she has trouble walking/walks with a very definite limp. She tends to wear long pants, so I don't know if she wears leg braces. In fact, I've only seen her once - but the fact that she has a physical disability, yet is the physical exercise teacher, struck me as very interesting.

I tried to get more information out of Sweetie, but you know how that goes.

"Does Miss Cindy at school walk like Mommy does?"

"Does she walk more like Mommy or like Daddy?"
"I don't know."

"Does Miss Cindy wear braces on her legs like Mommy does?"
No answer.

"Do you like Miss Cindy and have lots of fun with her?"

So I asked my mom, who picks Sweetie up at school, if she's ever seen Miss Cindy. She has, but she doesn't know if she wears braces or what exactly her "deal" is either. Oh well.

But isn't it kind of cool - and just plain interesting - that this disabled woman does what she does for a living? I personally think it's great. It gets the kids who may not otherwise be exposed to disabled people regularly involved with someone who not only has certain physical challenges, but also lives a positive, active, healthy, "typical" life in spite of them. Yay, Miss Cindy! You go, girl!

Even though I totally admire Miss Cindy and what she does, I really don't think her job is anything that I would think about doing for myself. Yet, from what I've seen of her, we seem to be just about the same level mobility-wise as each other. But I just wouldn't apply to participate in such an active job. Probably because I know I couldn't live up to the ideal of how I think a P.E. teacher should perform. I'd be much too self-conscious to do that.

Again - not to take anything away from Miss Cindy - in my book, she kicks tushy!

I've also recently seen a disabled person or two working at The Home Depot. Again - not something that I would ever consider doing. But in that case it partially has to do with having no interest in tools and lumber, and partially because I don't believe I'd be physically up for the job.

I think part of it also has to do with not wanting to stand out from the norm. Back in high school I could have gone to the huge, public high school that my older brothers went to. But that would have meant having to leave each class a bit earlier than the other kids and also riding in the elevator instead of taking the stairs, just so I could get to the next class on time. Since I didn't want to do things any differently than all the other kids, I ended up not going to this school, but instead to the much smaller private school in town. There I could get around much more easily and in the same time constraints as all of my peers. It was the right choice for me.

And so it continues into adulthood. I still don't want to stand out as different from others.

I liked my job as a bookseller a few years back, but didn't like that I was always assigned to the registers, instead of being on a rotating schedule of sometimes cashiering, sometimes shelving, sometimes customer service. More accurately, I was thankful that I didn't have to do other chores that required more mobility, but I felt bad that I couldn't help out as all the other employees did. Customer service work meant walking the floor in search of requested books and, in general, just standing on one's feet for long hours at a time. At the cash registered I was able to sit down if I needed to, easing my back pain and resting my tired legs. But even this was different, because the other cashiers were not allowed to sit at all. I didn't like being different, yet I was grateful for the allowances.

I now enjoy a nice office position where I mostly sit myself in front of a computer all day. I get up when I want or need to, I'm able to sit when I need a rest, and I basically move through my day just like many of my co-workers and friends. I fit in well.

Whew! What a complex range of emotions I deal with. Who knew it?

Adding to the complexity of it all - I HATE it when people doubt my abilities and/or just assume that I'm not able to do a particular physical activity. Please, don't make exceptions or allowances for my "benefit" without first getting to know me and/or discussing my abilities and needs with me. Thank you.

Well - I didn't really mean for this to delve so deeply into my psyche of what it means to be me. And maybe it doesn't - I don't know, it's kind of hard for me to step back from this entry and read it objectively.

But there you go. It is what it is.

At any rate - rock on, Miss Cindy. You do a body good!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hoping For Six. Seven Would Be Ideal

We're talking time of day here, people. Come on, now.

Sweetie is still getting used to her new nighttime ritual of going to bed on her own, then staying there all night. She has her good nights and her bad. But to date she has earned 14 "bedtime" stickers in about a 3 week period. (She gets one sticker for each night she stays in her own bed all night. She also qualifies for a sticker if she comes to us, but lets us take her right back to her bed - and stays there). So I suppose that's a pretty good record.

Nonetheless, I fear she's getting to feel that the sticker thing is "so over". I think she's not so impressed with the idea of earning those tacky (literally and figuratively) little treats anymore, so I've been racking my brain for new, more exciting ways to conquier this challenge.

Enter - the digital clock. Sweetie's "very own, very special clock" that she helped to pick out at the store just last night.

All last night we hyped up the clock and explained that "when the first number turns into a 6, then you can get out of bed."

We quizzed her. - "If the first number is a 3, can you get out of bed?"
"What if the first number is a 5?"
"What happens when the first number is a 6?"
"Then I can wake up!"
"Right! Yay!"
"Okay, so if one of these other numbers is a 6, you can't get up yet. Only the first number. Okay?"

Then, all of a sudden it's 5:40-something in the morning and Sweetie comes toddling into our room. We say -
"What are you doing here? Is the first number a 6 yet?"
No answer.
Daddy takes her back to her room to look at her clock and point out the time. It happens to be 5:46 a.m. Sweetie indicates that she stood by the clock and waited until she saw the 6 (hubby can't remember exactly what she said).
"You did?!"
"Well, that's not the right 6. The first number has to be 6, remember?"
"Here, get back in bed and wait until the 5 turns into a 6. It's coming soon!"
"Okay!" - and she happily allowed her Daddy to tuck her back in.

I really thought she wouldn't make it. But she did. Past 6:00, actually. I didn't hear her talk to Noki the cat until about 6:02 when Sweetie excitedly informed her that the first number was a 6 and she could get up now. Yay!

I'm interested to see if this clock-watching phenomenon will last and finally teach our Sweetie about staying put until a reasonable hour.

When the weekend hits, we'll have to be sure to remind her that 6 - even better,7 - is the number to watch for. Wish us luck.