Friday, February 27, 2009

Where were you 13 years ago today?

Me? I was basking in the sun of the Caribbean... with my brand new hubby! It's amazing that it happened 13 years ago. It feels like forever in many ways, but I can also remember pieces of that day like it was an hour ago.

We did not get married in a church. We planned a cruise with a stop in St. Thomas and got married on the beach: Magen's Bay, and went shopping for cheap rum and jewelry right after. The only thing I would change is to have my parents there. I wish I knew then that I know now how important that would be to me. Maybe for our 25th, we'll do it again and bring my folks.

Other than that, it was great. A first cruise toward an addiction to cruising for Tom & Trish...and Shawn for that matter. It was also quite an adventure. I'd spent the better part of a year planning, so it was not a fly by night deal. This was also before internet, email, or any of the resources we now consider the norm, so the planning was all done over the phone and via Fred Flintstone mail. I had to go to Kinko's to use the computer to do something with the state of Washington so we could legally get married there (although it's a US territory). It was really anyone's guess whether a car would really be waiting for us at the ship dock on that random Tuesday in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

It came off pretty much without a hitch. There were no drunken brawls or smeared mascara moments. Our car took us to the courthouse to get our marriage license while another car brought Shawn's parents, aunt, and her friend straight to the beach. When we arrived, it was about 8am and there wasn't a soul there but us. I can't imagine a more perfect way to exchange vows. The wedding coordinator was waiting for us with the photographer and the minister. What a sweet gig! They were all "mainlanders" who had just decided one day to pack it up and head to the islands. I've always envied the courage it must take to do that... If it weren't for sheer fear, I'm pretty sure I'd be living in an little Italian village right now running some rinky dink boutique and sipping espresso all day. Every country we've travelled to, we've met people who did just that...and I've always been crazy with jealousy. Maybe some day when Ian's grown, Shawn can open a dive shop and I can do something of little consequence in some little corner of the world. We shall see.

As soon as the minister started his schpeal, I knew we had a problem. The glaring ball of fire that is the sun, was literally right next to his face...and they were snapping pictures, destined to live on as record of this priceless moment for all eternity. I couldn't very well interrupt him and ask him to move over just a few, most of our pictures show us squinting miserably at the pastor. FYI, the sun is WAY brighter there than here!

It was over in a matter of minutes and POOF! I was a married woman. Ball & Chain. Old Lady. The 'Other Half'. A few more pictures and we were on our way back to the car, off to do some shopping. The way our pictures worked in our wedding package was that the photographer would give us the roll (yes, 1 roll of film) and we would have them professionally developed at home. No problem.

Yes problem. The roll of film had to actually make it home for that to work, right? Well, the car dropped us back in town and we did a ton of shopping. Of course we bought about 10 bottles of rum in every flavor possible (and ultimately left about 8 in our old apartment when we moved) who can resist $2 rum? We also bought some jewelry... Totally tacky gold watches and earrings that gather dust now...who knows where... but we were completely broke and young at the time, so it was our first purchase like that.

As we headed back toward the ship on foot (lugging all that rum), Shawn started feeling his pockets and asked me if I had the roll of film. No! I was wearing a pocketless formal dress! Of course, this is before cell phones, so we couldn't very well just call his folks on the ship and ask if they had it, or call the wedding coordinator and check to see if she picked it up by mistake. This was bad.

Some of the details are fuzzy, but we ended up at a gift shop somewhere near the port and finally reached the photographer on a pay phone. She was all the way back on the other side of the island at that point and the car was back with the driver at his house...who knows where. If you've ever visited or lived on an island, you'll know that island locals take their sweet time to do things. We were pretty sure there was no way to get our film back before we had to board the ship.

Well, after several more calls, it was determined that our film ended up on the floor of the towncar. The photographer was able to track down the driver, get the film, and get it back to the ship before we sailed out for our next port. Whew. That was a close one! All this took place while we stood around in the heat wearing our formal attire. Thank goodness we dressed down for the occasion! No wedding on the beach should take place in a big flowing gown or heavy tux for this reason alone!

It didn't take long before we were laughing about it, although Shawn's dad was laid up in his room with a cold washcloth on his face... practically with shingles over the stress of it all... but the rest of us carried on like we...well, like we were honeymooning in paradise. It was still one of my favorite vacations ever.

The weekend after arriving home, we had a reception at Tom & Trish's house, catered by family friends. We were striking deals left and right, which is never a bad thing for broke kids in love when they just can't wait to spend their lives together (INSERT UNCONTROLLABLE LAUGHTER HERE!!!).

I had promptly quit my job at Starbucks within days of coming home and started my new job at SanMar in their Call Center the day after our Wedding Reception. It's amazing to look back now and think that two big changes in my life happened at pretty much the same time. I generally know how long I've been married by the tenure at my company when people ask.

We rarely have pictures of the two of us together anymore, so I don't really have anything recent to compare with those posted below, but I hope to get the waiter at dinner tonight to take a picture. Shawn hates it when I do that. 50,000 pictures of one underwater sea anemone, yes. One picture every few years of the two of us I no longer have the excuse that our social worker made me do it!

Below are a few pictures... only a few. Again, we only took one roll of the actual wedding and I think we have some pictures somewhere of us on the honeymoon. I have no idea where those pictures ended up. I also included one of us at our reception...where we wore our wedding attire. So very 90's... Even a little 80's if you're looking at my attractive little jacket. Don't we look like we're headed off to prom?

So, in order to make this an official post on The Boy & The Bulldog, I have to say something about Ian. He woke VERY cheerful this morning and wanted to dance. His new thing is asking me to pick him up and we "dance" in the dark to the sound of his Rainforest music player and say good morning to our shadows. We do "rockabye babies" at night and say goodnight to our shadows, so it's become a ritual. He is quickly getting too heavy to do this for more than a minute or two, but I can still hold him longer than Shawn (or my 6 foot tall dad) go figure. Guys are a little wimpy when it comes to that stuff!

He insisted on soup for breakfast and of course got it all over a brand new shirt... but he ate the whole can before he left with grandma for another overnighter. He had a few crafts to do with cousin Ashleigh, and was looking forward to playing the harmonica with Grandpa Tom and playing trains.

I've got it down to a science now and only have to send a change of clothes. I love not needing to send her with 3 big bags of stuff to get him by for one night. It's one nice thing about boys. They don't take nearly as much "stuff".

We plan to do dinner and a movie tonight and then go to the gym tomorrow before heading to pick him up. It's become a comfortable routine and I'm perfectly OK with it now. Thanks Grandma & Grandpa for being so great about taking him and giving us that "alone" time. Trish, although the card you sent was right on the money, he's still fun to be with after all these years... Grandma knows what I'm talking about...and she can relate! I love that.

While the rest of you are saying "huh?", please enjoy a few pictures of what I was doing this time 13 years ago!

My dress was a clearance Jessica McClintock prom dress...and my sandals were $6 at Fred Meyer. Shawn's outfit cost about $100 total at some random mall store. I do still have my dress, dated as it is, I'll probably never get rid of it.

Oh man, look how skinny I am here. I think I was in a size zero or 2 at this time. Shawn still had his beautiful hair then...and he didn't have contacts yet, so I'm not sure what he could actually see!

At our reception. It wasn't until I was scanning this picture that I realized how sheer Shawn's shirt was. Good thing he didn't have his tattoos then!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ian's Weekend Shenanigans

OK. So, I know my last post was essentially just Ian running after Polli in the yard. I still love watching it...and imagine replaying it years from now, reminicing about how little he was. I think about just a year ago...and he could hardly be persuaded to go outside and definitely wouldn't have been running around after Polli like that.

So, from the weekend, there were more pictures that I haven't gotten around to posting. Some, I'm holding off to do more "then and now" comparisons...coming soon to a blog post near you.

So, Ian goes for yet another overnighter at Grandma and Grandpa T's house on Friday. That day is our 13th wedding anniversary and we're planning to go out for dinner and a movie... our normal MO for a night alone. Nothing else on tap for the weekend, but next week Ian has his school district speech evaluation to see if he qualifies for continued services or if we'll be on our own at that point.

For now, enjoy a few pictures from the dog park and around the house. Hard to believe it was almost short sleeves weather on Saturday and it's snowing today. Just another lovely winter in the Pacific Northwest!

Daddy & Ian at the dog park

Ian meeting a Boxer. We've always wanted a Boxer, they're such beautiful dogs

Ian and Polli enjoying the sunny day

Heading down the path

Mucho Grassy Ass!

It's official. Ian has hay fever

Ask me how much I hate his haircut!

Everyone has their laptops out

Shawn did this for fun... Thank goodness our social worker visits are over!
Playing in the backyard. When I'm gone this is the kind of thing that happens. The fashion police must have had the day off!

Another M&M Ceremony... The NC-17 version

Monday, February 23, 2009

Follow the Leader

For those out there who can tolerate mindless video clips of toddlers in action, this is for you... For those who, while growing up, were tortured by home videos of absolutely nothing, you'll probably want to skip this...

I decided not to do any editing, although it was tempting to add silent movie music and speed it up a little. I might still give that a try.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fabulous February Friday

Grandma Trish and Ian had another great day together, although Ian was pretty adamant at first with her that she go home, but then panicked when she actually did put her coat back on and walk out the door. He was pretty floored that she actually went. She came back in of course, and from that point on, he wanted her to go, but he wanted to go with her... Saying over and over that he wanted to go to Grandma's house.

We also made the mistake of mentioning a walk after breakfast and he got very excited about that. Problem is, Polli also gets excited at the word "walk" and needless to say, I left Trish with a pretty rowdy bunch to manage.

By all accounts, it was a great days as alway. I love this day at the end of the week when he can just do his own thing and have one on one attention after four days of chaos and over stimulation. I have a hard time believing that, other than mom and dad, there are better caretakers for kids than their very own Grandmas. I only wish my mom were closer so she could have some of that time with him, too... and we'd save a bunch more money! Hey, it would be a win win.

Alas, it can't be that way. I'm trying to figure out a way to get Ian to see my parents before Maui in September, but I'm not sure it's going to work out. Logistically, we're really limited right now and honestly, have 2 vacations coming up in the next 6 months, so...well. I'm sad. We'll work something out, mom & dad!

So, we have nothing planned for this weekend but as I mentioned before, I've been thinking of taking Ian to the Children's Museum in Seattle. However, we're reported to have nice weather tomorrow, so I might take the kiddos to the dog P-A-R-K and then either head into the city on Sunday or take Ian swimming. Haven't decided yet.

Today, Grandma took Ian for a walk to a coffee shop in our neighborhood. It was a traitor move against Starbucks across the street, but I'll forgive it this time. They had a great time chasing their shadows and enjoying the crisp sunny winter day, and when I got home from work he had just gotten up from his nap, in good spirits.

I was thinking about playing a movie to keep him up later this evening (in preparation for another pre-7am wake up like last Sat/Sun), but he started putting together a train track in the kitchen (completely by himself) and has been at it for almost 2 hours now. Why interrupt imagination with brain drain? So, right now he's playing "school bus trains", his own invention. I love that he is getting very independent in his play and also that he is using his imagination more and more. Often, when he talks through what his toys are doing, he includes "mommy & daddy toys" and "Ian & Polli" toys... and if it involves a motor vehicle, everyone is ALWAYS sitting in their proper "real life" spot in the vehicle. So cute...and way more creative and intuitive than when I was 2. I know that for sure.

Also big news, Ian had #2 success on the potty tonight! We were all so excited that we forgot about the M&M's reward. After dinner, he picked out his 2 M&M's and then had to be convinced to eat them. They went for train rides, rode on a flat bed rig, etc. He gets so excited about picking out his colors (and takes forever to decide) that he doesn't want to squander the moment. With any other candy type treat, he scarfs it down like nothing, but his 2 precious M&M's are savored. This is be why we will make him EARN his first car.

I also wanted to share a little story that I don't have a picture for... Today, we were doing letter flashcards and when we got to the Z card, Ian said "Seven this way, and seven upside down". I corrected him that it was a Z... and it took me several minutes to figure out what he saw: A 'Z" really is 2 sevens. Look for yourself. My kid is awesome... Although he also said to me the other day "Mommy, you're so money!", just like Vince Vaughn did in Swingers... a movie Ian has obviously never seen... Where did that come from? Kids are amazing!

Below are a few pictures from his Friday with Grandma...and afterward.
Oh, and I wanted to send out a big thank you to everyone "still" reading our blog so long after Ian has come home. I know blogs were a big source of learning and inspiration for me as we waited, and then ultimately brought Ian home...proving that 1) There IS an end to the wait, 2) We COULD do this, 3) Kids persevere, and 4) Parents can survive it all. The main reason why I keep it going is to be that source of comfort for other families, whether they be China families, other countries, Microtia families...or even the working moms out there trying to juggle it all. I reached 40,000 hits on my blog a few days ago, and while I'm sure half are my mom and mother in law, and the other half my coworkers, the few others out there...Thank you! You keep me going, even on the days I want to hang it up. I know blogs that get that many hits in a month, but for me, that's a big deal... almost 2 and a half years later!

Ian only watches TV a few times a week at most, so he hasn't really broken the close TV watching habit yet. Polli knows the proper distance she is supposed to sit from the screen.

Grandma getting hellos from her grandkiddos

Saying hi to his shadow

Traitor Ian... I mean, Ian drinking a smoothie at Zoka Coffee.

Checking out his Lego train tunnel

'Sup, Mom?!

I only include this to show how short his pants have gotten. In just the past few weeks, almost ALL of his pants have stopped fitting him. Up to now, he's worn the same size pants as in China although he's grown more than 6 inches.

Presented with the M&M's container. Check out that face. Could it get any better than this?

After several minutes, he finally picked his colors... Red and Orange. He usually picks only blue.

Building his train set in the kitchen. I only had to help him move two pieces, otherwise, it's all him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Little of This... And a Little of That

Not much to say on this post, but I'm making up for my last entry's lack of kid pics by overdoing it a little here.

Saturday was a lazy family day. Ian stayed in his PJ's all day and I only went out to do some light grocery shopping. Sunday, we stayed in all day again, but ventured out after naptime to watch Shawn play hockey. During the game, Ian found the video game area in the building and was enthralled by what the big kids were doing. I told him the gun games were broken when he asked me "what is that?". I said, "Those are big kid games that don't work when little kids play them". I fib like that all the time. I'm not sorry. He also thinks Nutri Grain bars are endorsed by The Little Einsteins... and that raisins taste just like gummy snacks.

Ian had the day off Monday with daddy and they stayed in their PJ's again, doing pretty much nothing. I was so jealous! When I take days off, they're to complete an impossible list of tasks like Speech Evaluations...doctors appointments...blood draws... haircuts...and other torturous events. Dad gets to hang out in jammies and watch reruns of Top Gear with his son. Darn that Eve and her apple!

The rest of this week should have more of the same routine. We have nothing major planned for the weekend, so I might take Ian to the Children's Museum in Seattle. We haven't been to that one yet. You'll know if we do!

A few small updates: Ian loves his glasses. They're the first thing he asks for in the morning and whines when I take them off at night. They are obviously making a difference that he can measure now...In just a few short weeks. I never thought it would be this easy.

Also, we're having no potty success, so we're backing off. He gets to sit on the potty if he asks, but there's no pressure and he still accepts diapers. It will happen eventually!

His new favorite phrases are: "Hey, I need Privacy!" and "I NEED THAT". He is also constantly asking "What is that" and "What is ____ doing?", which is a direct result of the many weeks of question words and phrases we practiced with his Brain Quest cards.

He asks all the time if people and things are sad. If a toy is all alone or if Polli throws a stuffed animal around, he asks if they're sad. We watched WALL-E and he asked over and over if WALL-E was sad and where his mommy and daddy went. He makes an instant connection with being alone and sadness.

We're eagerly awaiting his name to come up on the new school's list... His current school is really getting on our nerves. Just once I would like good feedback instead of hearing about how disruptive he is at naptime, or how he wouldn't listen, or any other number of countless things that 2 year olds do, but also points out the lack of engagement and supervision he gets. He doesn't eat the food they offer, sleeps poorly, gets cranky in the afternoon, etc. At least at the new place we'll be able to supply his lunches AND we'll have access to webcams all day. Cool.

At the new school, he'll also have computer time, Spanish class, Kindermusik, and several other great programs...all included. We get none of that now. I'm hoping we're able to get him in sometime before his birthday, but that's starting to look unlikely.

There's not much else going on, so for now, you'll have to make due with a few very random pictures of the weekend:

I don't know why, but he LOVES wearing my shoes. Never Shawn's... Only mine. The higher the heel, the better. Who can't resist a great pair of Kenneth Cole pumps? And he's running in these!

Doing Brain Quest "Max" cards with daddy. These are awesome... I highly recommend for speech therapy. They prompt great vocabulary bursts in numerous categories and prompt the use of prepositions and question words.

Doing "Run Jumps"... Pretty much all he wants to do, all the time. It's essentially Simon Says around the kitchen, living room, and laundry room... Over and over and over and over. Who needs a gym?

I just happen to like this smirk. He's obviously up to something, huh? p.s. I absolutely hate his haircut!

When I showed him this picture on the camera, he copied the pose exactly. Such a little charmer!

Pretending to play video games at the ice rink. I tried to keep him out of this area, but I think they have boy magnets built into the floor.

Naturally, his favorite was the car racing game. Even without quarters, it kept him entertained for 15 minutes.
Wondering why this is in here? This folks, is my son outside playing ALONE! He went out all by himself, which has NEVER happened before. It's a big milestone I didn't even mention above. Before I know it, he'll be taking off with his friends down the street on their bikes. I think of that every time I see neighbor kids out and about. I could cry just thinking about it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Anti-Valentine’s Day

I meant to post this yesterday, but forgot to queue it up...oops! I'm a day behind, so my next cute post of pictures from the weekend will have to wait a day or two. Hopefully I'll be able to add a few from Ian's day off with Daddy tomorrow, President's Day.

Well, We decided to unofficially boycott Valentine's Day this year. I'm sure I took the pressure off Shawn by making this decision all by myself. He unceremoniously dropped a Hershey's Kiss on my couch while I watched TV last night. Happy "Val-Times" (as he calls it).

Whether or not it "stimulates" the economy, it seems like an unnecessary way to spend money these days, so we skipped it. Grandma brought a nice gift of Dr. Seuss books and cash (!!!) for Ian, but we did absolutely nothing for anyone. I bought a box of Valentines for Ian's friends at school, but since he doesn't go on Fridays, he missed the party and I didn't partake in the supplying of garbage food for the little monsters. It's OK. He wasn't feeling well and I'm sure that every kid in his class will be hopped up on sugar and a mess by the end of the day. Ian is fighting a cold (me too) and would have probably stayed home even if it weren't already a scheduled day off. He was making excuses to lay down with his blanket all morning and was crying when I left for work. Grandma's so used to an easy breezy Ian, I'm not sure she has seen this side of him! (Update: Upon arriving home, I learned that he was his perky self within minutes of my departure...and stayed that way and then some all weekend).

Shawn proposed to me on Valentine's Day 14 years ago, but it has never been a major holiday for me. I'm not a flowers and candy girl and the idea of a crowded restaurant for the sake of a day made up by retailers…well I'm just not that into it. So, it's a normal day for us. Not pomp & circumstance and no pink/red hearts around the house. I much prefer to save the excitement and celebrate our Anniversary at the end of the month or my birthday in July, which are really my special days...that I don't have to share with the rest of the world.

I did find a picture of Shawn and me right around the time we were engaged. I suppose it could be considered our Engagement Photo since it was actually taken as we were scouting out possible wedding locations. It was after the headache of this research that we decided to go to St. Thomas and get married on the beach instead. It seems a million years ago. In fact, the bench we're sitting on was at a restaurant and nursery called The Herb Farm when it was located in Fall City, Washington… not far from where we live now. The restaurant was destroyed by fire not long after this and the nursery closed. It was a vacant lot the last time I drove by, with no sign of its former charming self. The Herb Farm was re-established elsewhere, but this was still one of my favorite places. I'm sad that it's gone.

Note our cute matchy matchy outfits. Do kids in love still do this? Green jeans (remember colored denim?) with almost matching boots (remember cowboy boots?) and white shirts. Weren't we so adorable back then? I'm pretty sure we had matching tan leather bomber jackets with us that day, too. Mine had huge shoulder pads. I remember them vividly. Ah, those were the days (like, totally).

Side note: I'm so excited to see a deaf player on The Amazing Race this season...and coming in first in the beginning leg, to boot! Many forget that Ian is technically considered Hard of Hearing since he only has partial hearing in his right ear, to what extent we still don't know. It was good to be reminded that a deaf or Hard of Hearing person can do the same things that hearing folks can do... just without the acoustics. No matter the future outcome for Ian's ear or hearing, he can and will do whatever he sets his mind to. If he has proven anything to us and those who know him, it's that he doesn't let anything get in his way!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Speech Therapy Ups and Haircut Downs

This week has been fairly routine and not a lot of photo ops. Today was Ian's next to-next to last speech visit with Mona. He only has 2 left! It would be a major step in the wrong direction to lose her at this point. It frustrates me SO much that the school district picks up at age 3. It seems so young. He has a ton of momentum with her right now and, even if he qualifies for speech therapy through the school district, it won't be the same. They won't get the same out of him in an office as Mona gets from him at our house.

I've decided to check Shawn's insurance benefits to see if Speech Therapy can be covered to some extent, and if so, we might just stick with Mona "off the grid". I'll even take Ian's old therapist Maura... but I'm feeling really sick about losing that group's support right now. They've done so much good for Ian and he just LOVES Mona...and I mean loves her. He talks about her, asks about her, and responds so well to her when she's here. He listens and interacts with her in a way that he doesn't do with most family and especially his teachers (I sometimes wonder if he talks at all at school). As a parent, she gives me good feedback and provides wonderful suggestions for improvement. She is creative and sweet... and I'll miss her.

I don't have pictures, but I took Ian for a haircut yesterday and he had a major MAJOR meltdown. He did great during his last haircut and sat well for the stylist. This time, I'm not sure what the trigger was, but he went into full meltdown mode and kept saying she was hurting him. She wasn't...I was right there. I think she might have poked him with the scissors once and it set him off. She was also nervous, which doesn't help. For crying out loud, it's Great Clips. They cut 2 kinds of hair: Men and kids. You'd think they'd have a system down. Anyway, it was similar to when he has blood drawn. In order to get to a point where it was even and he didn't have a mullet, I had to put him in my lap and hold his legs, arms and head. Yeah. It was as difficult as it sounds. He's getting really strong! In the end, he ended up with a bowl cut... when he didn't even really need his bangs cut at all and the sides and back are almost the same length....and it was $15 plus my guilt-laden $5 tip. $20 bucks. Next time I might take Grandpa Tom up on his offer to borrow the dog clippers.

Before she rang us up, she went to the back of the salon for a minute and I thought I could hear crying. I felt really bad for her, but come on... That can't be the first dramatic 2 year old she's ever seen. I assured her that she did fine and that I should be sorry. I wasn't really (I mean, I just pinned my child down while a stranger came at him with sharp objects) but felt like I had to be nice about it.

Within minutes of leaving, he was just fine. We went next door to the toy store and his sucker of a mom bought a tiny little train piece for $20. I don't know what's worse, the fact that toy makers exploit parents by putting these things in irresistible packaging and at the front of the store, or that there are people like me that fall for it. Regardless, he was thrilled and the haircut fiasco was long forgotten. So, I was down $40 for a toddler haircut and a consolation prize. C'est La Vie!

Tomorrow is another exciting Grandma Trish day. Ian asked out of the blue yesterday to go to Grandma's house and see Spirit. I asked if he wanted to take Polli... He said "No, Polli stay home. Only Ian play with Spirit". Once the weather gets nicer, Spirit can come on Fridays and they can all lounge on the patio... sounds nice!

For those wondering, he is doing great with his glasses. When he's at home, he never takes them off and usually asks for help if they come off or get off kilter. Odd that most of the pictures I saw of him at grandma's house, there were no glasses on! They're also usually around his neck or just getting put back on when I pick him up from school. What would kids do without their moms around to be the police?

Below are a measly few pictures from the past few days. I've been a slacker with the camera. Ian also doesn't love it when I have it out, possibly because of the flash. He's always saying "Mommy, camera down!". He's getting more like his daddy every day!

When I ask him to smile at the camera, this is what I get. A quick flash of cheezy overdone grin. Sorry about the mouth full of apple.

Getting REALLY good at "no lid" drinking. Niced moo-stache, Ian!


Monday, February 9, 2009

You Are My Sunshine, Ian!

I finally got this to upload in Blogger! What a chore. This is from Ian's latest sleepover.

Ian and Grandpa Tom singing Ian's favorite song and playing the mandolin. Grandpa Tom sounds cranky at the end, but the video cut out before the laughter... dadburnit!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Overnight with Grandma & Grandpa

Our weekend started with Ian packing up and heading to Grandma & Grandpa T's house for yet another overnighter. A mere 6 months ago, I had to be begged and bribed into letting them take Ian overnight, but I'm over it now in a big way and am glad to let them take him for that ONE night every once in a while. A big part of what eases my mind is that Ian loves it at their house and is 100% comfortable to sleep alone in his room there with zero issues. It's another day in the life for him when he's there.

This time, Polli went too, so we truly had an empty house. Before Polli came along in Dec. of 2005, it was what our house was like all the time. I don't remember the quiet being so quiet then or the hollow feeling I get now, that something important is a limb that is suddenly unusable or diminished eyesight. I missed them both terribly, even for just that one night, but I especially missed Polli. Yes, I know that's horrible. I admit it here (and expect the backlash) that I missed my dog more than my son Friday night. Normally when Ian goes to Grandma's house, I have Polli to fill the gap... She warms my lap and is my ever present best friend when Ian is asleep or gone. She makes me feel necessary and valuable in a way that no human ever could. For this reason, having her gone too was a big letdown. I make it sound like Shawn and I were on other ends of the planet this weekend, and we were a bit of the time. We each had our own reasons for wanting the night off Friday, and it wasn't for a date night this time.

Friday night, I had arranged a "IT Girls Night" for my department. There are only 9 of us ladies on site compared to 3 dozen guys, so I got the OK to arrange a round of drinks and dinner. Six of us were able to attend and we had a great time learning how each of us got our start in IT and at SanMar. It was a ton of fun. I haven't been out with gals for...well almost never... so this was a treat for me. By 8pm, we were ready to break off and get back to our lives, many of us moms and wives with long to-do lists waiting to be completed...and I'm sad to say we didn't get a single picture although I had a camera in my purse.

I decided to go see "He's Not That Into You", but it was sold out in the 3 closest theaters for most of the evening's I walked around the mall for an hour and then closed down Target. I can't say that I've ever heard "Target will be closing in 10 minutes". It was a new milestone for me but a sad one, right? I mean, it was Friday night and I was loitering in Target. I walked out with a windbreaker for Ian and a bag of dog snacks... Is it obvious who I was thinking about the whole time?

Why was I doing this, you ask? Well, while I was having my girls' night, Shawn was hosting a guys poker party at our house. I couldn't very well go home and be the wife who ruined everyone's dude fun. I did eventually go home to sneak upstairs and watch TV while the party raged, and yes it raged... I heard lots of swear words and "between hands" arm wrestling tournament. Oh, the fun I was missing, right? And although they didn't smoke in the house, there was a lot of cigar smoke finding it's way back in from the garage somehow, and it smelled like a bachelor pad throughout the house.

It started disbanding at about 1AM and Shawn came to bed silly on beers and thankfully had already cleaned up after himself; my kitchen sink was actually empty! I was pretty impressed. It sounded like fun though, and I like poker, so the next time, I'm hoping it can be a co-ed event...I guess that means I'll have to invite my department guys to the next girls' night! Hmmm. We'll have to think this through a little more.

So, I woke early Saturday and went to the gym while Shawn slept. We went and had a nice lunch at Panera, my favorite lunch spot, and then headed to see our kiddos. We stayed the night, drank wine, and watched movies...and then headed back home in time for Ian's nap today. It was great to be reunited with my kids. I missed them so much, eventhough it is truly nice to have a break every once in a while...even if the highlight is simply a break from tiptoe-ing the halls after 7pm.

While Ian napped today, Shawn and I watched my beloved Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins... YAY!, and ate too much junk food. Now Ian and I are playing while Shawn is off playing hockey with his Sunday league.

Probably the most important event of the whole weekend is that today, Ian told Shawn "uh-oh daddy, toots" and asked to go to the potty. We sat for a while and low & behold, there was pee pee & poo poo in the potty when he stood up. It was a big celebration, with the big finale being that Ian FINALLY got M&M's for going. He got 2 for #1 and 2 for #2... and couldn't have been more thrilled about his 4 M&M's. He savored each like it was caviar and obviously doesn't take that luxury for granted.

Below are several pics from Ian's overnight stay including a few with cousin Ashleigh during his last stay, 2 weeks ago. She's so great with him.

I've also been trying to upload a great video of Ian singing with Grandpa Tom, but Blogger's video upload is terrible and I need to figure out what's wrong. Stay tuned for that soon.

Reading with Cousin Ashleigh

Bonding with their blankets...

...Someone understands his need for a good sniff

Checking out one of Grandpa Tom's carvings...I'm pretty sure he thought it was real

Isn't this a cool book? He loved playing pretend with Masie. Here, he's feeding her oatmeal.

Hanging out in Spirit's kennel

He loves Grandma's window seat

Taking a break on the stairs

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Anniversary of Ian’s First Day of School

Today marks ONE YEAR since Ian started school. This time last year, I was sitting in the Starbucks down the street from his daycare wringing my hands for three hours before going back to pick him up. I was nervous about how he reacted when I left. I was sad that I couldn't somehow stay and watch without him knowing. I felt guilty for putting him in another scary unknown situation so soon after the traumatic process of coming home. More than anything, I was torn. Torn between my desire to go back to work and my wish to stay home with him. I always said I would go back, but in theory, I haven't met a single mom who doesn't wish they could be with their kids more, especially in those first few years.

So, when I went back for him on that first day after 3 hours, he was sitting happily at the table eating lunch. Spoon. Plate. Chair. I couldn't believe it. By the end of that week, he was head first into a routine and he didn't show a single sign of distress from the separation. I can't lie. That was hard. Something in me wanted him to struggle with the transition more, eventhough I know that would have been worse.

Now, a year later, he is a bona fide school kid. Monday through Thursday, he gets up at 5:30, goes to school from 6:30-3:30, and goes to sleep at about 7. Although we decided early on that the daycare he's in is not our choice for nutrition and curriculum reasons, he has flourished in the past year. Flourished in ways I never imagined possible. I won't give his center too much credit since it's more or less an expensive babysitting service there. Much of his progress is based on the success of speech therapy, his "down day" with Grandma Trish on Fridays, and our "every waking minute" attitude toward learning.

I read back over my post a year ago and can't believe how far he has come. He was a brand new walker, was afraid of outside, and had zero vocabulary past "dah" and the occasional "mama". He was barely eating with utensils and had never (at least since home) eaten out of his highchair. Now, he talks like any other almost-three year old, is completely fearless, and is BUSY. Just how many laps around the living room and kitchen can one kid do?

Here we are passing year one and getting ready to start a new daycare, or "Early Learning Center" as they prefer to be called. We're hoping to come up on the waiting list in the next month, making a transition to their Preschool class in March. I will have to go through that above hand wringing process again as we move him to yet another strange new place. All you parents out there who've had to move for jobs, military, etc… My heart goes out to you. I don't know how you do it!

We are also adding in the use of a keyboard and mouse with an old laptop of mine. There is some great toddler software out there that teaches the general key clicking and cursor moving skills, and he seems to love it. It's incredibly annoying to us adults, but quite engaging for him. As silly as that might seem to some, I think all the time about how important these skills will be by the time he is an adult. Chances are, he'll need to have a keyboard mastered and be capable of handling electronics by the 1st grade, if not earlier.

I also posted a few pictures of Ian at the park yesterday. LESS than a year ago, he actually figured out that outside was not the enemy. Watching him climb, jump, run, and slide with ease yesterday made me realize just how much he has accomplished this year. He amazes me on a daily basis! As we speak, I'm probably taking for granted something that will blow my mind a year from now!

So, I think it's evident that I've done away with such luxuries as hair combing or even pants in some cases, but it's easy to see much has changed in a year. He's definitely not the baby he was then. Why does it have to go so fast?

Learning his new computer software

Already mastering the mouse

Playing at the park. This time last year he was still unsure about the park...and would have never been able to manage the stairs alone.

Pretending to drive "the bus". Everything is either a train or a bus with this kid!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Finishing off January

What a lame week. I had so many great plans for Chinese New Year, but didn't follow through with a thing past the initial Hong Bao and giving Ian a Chinese Dragon train piece. I also bought him a traditional shirt (that I probably could have bought for pennies in China) that won't fit him next year. Well, it sits in his closet with the tags still attached. Sigh.

On the flip side of things, I joined a Yahoo group for families with kids from China in our area (the Eastside Seattle suburbs). Unfortunately, it's called "Eastside Little Ladybugs", but he'll have to deal with that a lot with the local "Born in China" community. Good thing he likes the ladies! I may just regret this some day!

Unfortunately, with most groups, the playdates are all in the morning on weekdays. I'm waiting for the day working mom's are recognized. It's pretty frustrating that I can't even get a decent magazine devoted to the subject. I get the feeling that once more moms are forced back into the workplace from our spiriling economy, that will change. As sad as that is for those who've dreamed and worked hard to stay home... It's probably a stark reality!

We did have one milestone this weekend... Ian had his first time out! Yep. I made him sit on the naughty step for one minute. He was upset that I told him to pick up his toys before getting a snack and proceeded to take all 25 letter magnets off the fridge (we're missing the X) and throw them at me. I was emptying the dishwasher and pretended I didn't notice, so he said "mommy, see this?" and when I turned, he threw one right at me. Sassy sucker. I picked him up and took him to the step, put him down and sat next to him. I told him "you never throw toys and especially at mommy. That hurt my feelings and could have given me owies. You're going to sit here and stay sitting for one minute because you didn't pick up your toys like I asked you to."
He cried. I hated to see it. But, he sat there for the whole minute saying "where's daddy?" Of course. Go to the other parent! After a minute, I went over and said "I want you to say you're sorry for throwing toys at me". He said "I sorry mommy". It could have melted my heart. I then gave him a hug and said "Thank you, now what are you going to do next?" He said "pick up letters and get a snack". So, we went over and he picked up every letter (we sounded it out as they went on the fridge and made it a game), and after, he got a snack. Thank you, Super Nanny!

Since we skipped the Chinese New Year Festival put on by our local chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC), we stayed in jammies most of this morning and then went to lunch at Qdoba after nap. Ian was so excited for a Naked Burrito. In the end, anything with beans and rice are his version of heaven. He ate almost an entire adult Naked Burrito. You go, kid.

This is poised to be a boring week for Ian but a busy week for mom and dad. Shawn will be at Microsoft's Tech Ready all week and I'm on fulltime mom/dad duty from sun up to sun down. I also have lots of training going on this week and will be giving classes every day this week to new hires in my department. Now that we're pretty much done hiring for a while, I have no idea what that means for me. Hopefully more writing projects. There's always something for me to do, so I'm not too terribly worried. Yet.

I will be stopping at Ian's future preschool tomorrow to see how much longer we'll be waiting. It's been 10 months since we put him on the waiting list. Ridiculous, but it means lower student/teacher ratios and a better school overall (and walking distance from our house). I was reviewing their curriculum again tonight and couldn't be more excited. I also get to provide his lunches, meaning they'll be healthier than the current chicken nugget/spagetti from a can diet he gets now and I'll be able to send things I know he'll eat. I feel much better about what's in his tummy in the afternoon when I packed it myself.

At the end of this week, Ian and Polli get to hang out at grandma Trish and grandpa Tom's overnight again. Shawn is hosting a poker party at our house and I am attempting to put together a first ever girls' night for my department. Shawn has about 30 RSVP's while I have a measly 4... Looks like I'll be finding a quiet place to read a book and have a cocktail for the wee hours that boys will be going crazy over a $20 buy in. They're lucky girls aren't invited. I'd shark the table for sure.

Below are a random hodgepodge of pictures from the week. Once I get grandma's memory card, I'll have some pics from Ian's last sleepover.

P.S. Mom & Dad: Sorry the Cardinals lost! I was rooting for them in your honor, but had to also root for Pittsburgh for a few other friends... But it was still hard to see them lose. Hope you're recovering OK!

Checking out the Yuan that was in his Hong Bao, the envelopes of money given during Chinese New Year for wealth and prosperity. Give a little of that over here, Ian!

He liked the chocolate money...and even the real stuff, but there was NO WAY he was letting me put it in the piggy bank... A golden OX, since this is the Year of the Ox. We'll deposit what goes in there at the end of the year (or use if for groceries the way things are going).

His favorite cartoon is Little Einsteins, this is Leo, the main character... Who also wears glasses. He has been the driving motivator in getting Ian to put on and keep on his specs.

Our little musician shows that he's not a one trick pony. Getting into a Jerry Lee Lewis groove here...

On his way to time out. Yep, I had to get a picture of that moment.