Monday, December 19, 2011

Mery hritma

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. It does in fact say, "Mery hritma." Let me explain...

Christmastime is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. There are only two things I don't like about this time of year: the weather and the germs. Everything else I look forward to with great anticipation. I love decorating. I love baking cookies. I love Christmas music. I love how for one short month out of the year, just about everyone - no matter their beliefs or religion - seems to be a bit more giving and kind. I even enjoy wrapping presents to an extent.

As a child, I always anxiously awaited Christmas morning to see what treats Santa had brought for me. Had I been naughty or nice? Now that I have kids of my own, I'm pretty sure that I'm just as excited (if not more excited) as I was 20-some years ago, waiting to see if the jolly guy in the red suit will come down our chimney and what surprises he has for my own children.

This year Alec is almost four years old, and he is really starting to get into the whole magic of the season. He started talking and asking about Christmas before Hallmark even put their ornaments in their stores, which I'm pretty sure was just after Easter this year. Chase still has no clue what Christmas is, but he is just excited because his big brother is excited.

But back to the "Mery hritma"...

At the end of each holiday season I like to scope out bargains on decorations, cards, ornaments, etc. Rather than pay ridiculously marked up prices in December, I simply wait until early January and buy the same products for a tenth of what they cost a few weeks earlier.

Last year I thought I hit the jackpot. I found very cute Christmas placemats for only 75 cents each. Of course they were probably only 80 cents at full price, but still... I splurged and bought two of them, one for each boy, for a whopping $1.50 total. Five years ago I never would have thought to buy plastic Christmas placemats, but anticipating future Christmas meals with my young boys, I thought this was the greatest find ever. With Christmas already over, I brought the placemats home and put them directly into our Christmas storage that would remain in our basement until the next Christmas (this year).

Now fast forward to the weekend after Thanksgiving this year. Chad digs out our bins of Christmas decorations, and we start going to town, making our house look like Christmas exploded. We get to the bottom of a bin, and there they were...the Christmas placemats that I had bought last year. Somehow I had managed to forget about my incredible find, but there they were, all ready to bring festive joy to our dinner table. I placed them on the table at the boys' seats and continued with decorating.

A few days later we were all eating dinner when Chad suddenly asked, "What is Mery hritma?" I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and was worried that he had discovered something inedible in my cooking. Then he told me to look at the placemat. Here is what I saw:

Did you notice the picture on the top right? You can imagine my disappointment when I realized that my 75-cent placemats were wishing me a joyous holiday that I had never even heard of.

Don't get me wrong... I have never been the person who gets offended if someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Nor am I the kind of person who wishes someone "Happy Holidays." I wish others Merry Christmas and hope that they accept it for what it is - a kind gesture - just as I would if someone wished me Happy Hanukkah. But for two snowmen in festive Christmas attire to be wishing me a "Mery hritma," I was a bit put off to say the least.

At first I thought that maybe there had originally been letters there that had just rubbed off while sitting in storage for 11 months. The placemats were, afterall, not what I would consider luxurious. But after rubbing my hand over the greeting I found the placemat to be smooth and not the kind of material that would flake off. So I investigated further, and here is what I saw:

After straining my eyes, I saw them. Yes, they were there. A very faint "r," "C," "s" and another "s" were tucked in with the other letters, doing their best to wish me a Merry Christmas. Apparently the designer of these placemats thought that it was a good idea to put white letters on an almost-white background.

With some experience in graphic design myself, I couldn't believe that these placemats had actually been produced, not to mention sold. Then I remembered what I had spent on them. I guess I found out the hard way why they were only 75 cents! At least I only bought two of them and didn't go crazy and spend six dollars to get a set of eight.

Now you're probably wondering if we still have the placemats on our table. Well, we do. They still look festive, and unless you look really closely you wouldn't even notice a hint of a fictitious holiday. In fact, it has come to be somewhat of a joke in our house.

So for anyone reading my blog, I would just like to take the time to wish you all a Mery hritma and a Hapy ew Yar.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Want the Treat, Not the Trick

This past Halloween was a fun one for us. It was the first year that Alec really understood what was going on and had fun dressing up and going house to house for candy. Even Chase kept his costume on and made it around the whole block. It was also the first year that I passed out treats to the trick-or-treaters. In past years either Chad has done this or we haven't been home.

While passing out candy to all the little princesses, dinosaurs, ghosts, superheroes and monkeys, I began to realize that there were two distinctly different types of children. On one hand, there were the kids that would cautiously walk up to the door, shyly say "trick-or-treat" and act very appreciative when I let them pick out their own treat from the bucket. They were always very polite and never walked away without saying "thank you." On the other hand, there were the kids who ran at top speed from the last house they visited up to our porch. They shoved a hand into the bucket, grabbed as much candy as they could and ran to the next house without so much as a "thank you" or "Happy Halloween," and in most cases I didn't even get a "trick-or-treat" when they arrived. I also noticed that it really didn't matter what age the kids were, so I never knew whether I was going to get a "trick" kid or "treat" kid when a trick-or-treater came up to my porch.

In one instance, a group of three or four older boys, probably high-school-aged, walked up to our door. It was later in the evening, so Chad and the boys had returned from their adventure around the neighborhood, and Alec and Chase were helping me hand out the candy. The trick-or-treaters rang the bell and said "trick-or-treat," and I held out the bucket telling them they could pick something out, just like I had been doing all evening. Each boy politely took one thing and thanked me. But before they turned around to leave, Alec decided he wanted to help by giving the boy in the front a piece of candy, a Twizzler. I just assumed that this boy would take the Twizzler without even thinking twice. But instead he caught me completely off guard. He smiled and said to Alec, "Thanks, but I already took a piece." Alec again tried to offer the Twizzler to the boy, and I even told him that it was ok to take the second piece (afterall, he had been very polite so far). But the boy insisted that he didn't need it and just said to Alec, "That's ok can keep that one for yourself."  He thanked us again, said "Happy Halloween" and then went to catch up with his friends.

Now after almost two hours of watching countless trick-or-treaters of all ages help themselves to numerous pieces of candy without so much as a thank you, I was left just about speechless. I stood there wondering what this boy's parents had done to turn him into such a nice young gentleman. There are adults who don't act as politely as this boy had! What had his parents done that the parents of the "trick" kids hadn't done? And most importantly, what could I do to ensure that Alec and Chase grow up to be like this boy?

My best guess is that there isn't really an answer to this question. I'm sure there are plenty of wrong things to do, but I don't think there is one specific thing that will guarantee that Alec and Chase turn into "treat" children. I like to think that I am raising them to be good kids, but I can't help worrying when Alec runs over to Chase, pushes him over and grabs a toy out of his hands, or when Chase clobbers Alec on the head with a toy hammer. Despite timeouts, my numerous pleas to "be nice to your brother" or "take turns," and removing the problem toy from the picture, nothing seems to get  through to them. I realize that they are just kids and that this behavior is somewhat normal for their ages. But then I'll see other siblings playing so well together or an older sibling helping a younger one instead of fighting with them, and I go back to the question of what these parents are doing that I'm not.

I have tried to explain to Alec that we use our words to express something, not our hands or feet (or teeth). This worked a little bit, but now I'll find Alec one inch away from Chase's face yelling at the top of his lungs, "CAN I PLEASE HAVE THAT TOY? CHASE!!! CHASE!!! I WANT THAT TOY!! PLEASE CAN I HAVE THAT TOY?!?!" He thinks that just because he uses the word "please" that Chase should give him the toy. When Chase doesn't give Alec the toy (which is almost always the case unless I intervene), Alec looks like he's about to burst a blood vessel restraining himself from grabbing it. And if Chase tries to run away, Alec will follow right behind him and "accidentally" bump into him and knock him down. So I'm pretty sure I haven't succeeded in creating a "treat" kid out of Alec yet.

As for Chase, he's just doing what Alec has taught him to do. Alec would take a stuffed animal or soft toy and make it jump on Chase's head, but he knew it wasn't really hurting Chase (at least I think he knew...). The thing is, Chase doesn't understand the difference between making a stuffed bunny "hop" onto someone's head and pounding a hammer into someone's head. And because of this I'm pretty sure Alec has lost a few brain cells in the past few months. So the best thing I can do for Chase now is to teach Alec to be nice, which hopefully will set an example for Chase until he is old enough to understand right from wrong. But if I haven't succeeded in making Alec a "treat" kid yet, I obviously haven't succeeded in making Chase a "treat" kid.

I also am constantly reminded that if I want my kids to be nice kids, I need to be nice too. I'm sure when Chase hears me yelling at Alec for not listening, he doesn't understand why I'm yelling. He therefore thinks that yelling is just a normal part of life. Sadly it is a pretty normal part of my life, but maybe I need to be focusing more on how I act instead of how the kids are acting.

Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse of my boys being "treat" kids. But for the most part they still have a good bit of learning to do. Actually, I guess we all have some learning to do, whether it's learning to be patient, learning to take turns, or learning to handle situations without yelling all the time. For now I will just hope that my kids are just, as they say, "boys being boys." But one day I hope these boys will be nice gentlemen who will make other moms speechless over their polite actions. I know that's a lot to hope for, but it really would be a great treat.

They're still young... but will they be my little tricks or my little treats?

Friday, September 30, 2011

What New York Taught Me About Being a Parent

Chad and I just got back from an incredible week-long trip to New York City. Without the kids. While some people may not even be able to fathom being away from their young children for this long period of time, I embraced it with open arms.

The way I look at it is this: There are 8,760 hours in a year. I was away from my children for approximately 175 of these hours. Now I'm not a math genius by any means, but I'm pretty sure that 175 out of 8,760 really isn't that much. In fact, that still leaves 8,585 glorious hours to spend with my children every year. Obviously I'm not with my boys every second of these 8,585 hours, but I think you get my point. Just to put things in perspective, a person working a 40 hour per week job is at their job for just over 2,000 hours each year (2,080 to be exact), not including vacation or sick time.
While I thoroughly enjoyed our week of being Kim and Chad instead of Mommy and Daddy, being away from my boys for this period of time made me realize a few things about being a parent. Actually, I should say that it reinforced a few things that I already knew.

1. I definitely have the wardrobe of a stay-at-home mom. And there's no place better than the Big Apple to show me this. I haven't worked outside the home for over five years, which means I don't have anyone telling me how to dress. And since most of my days are spent on the floor playing with children, fighting with messy diapers, wiping up spills and being spilled on, I can't really justify paying lots of money for good clothes. Because of this, my wardrobe mostly consists of t-shirts, sweatpants, old shorts and sweatshirts. If I absolutely have to go out in public with the kids, I do have some jeans I can throw on at the last minute, and maybe if I'm lucky I can find a shirt without some kind of stain on it. But for the most part I live in comfy, less-than-casual clothes. For the times I actually get to escape the house without kids I have a few nice pants left over from my office days, and I have some nice shirts in the mix, mostly courtesy of my mom. But as I quickly realized when packing for our trip, I barely have enough "nice" outfits to get me through one week. And New York is basically the capital of trendy dressing, so it was pretty obvious I was an outsider.

On the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, that is a sweatshirt tied around my waist. And I'm sure no one will ever know that my sunglasses were only $5 at Charlotte Russe. Oh, and the shirt? That's a "hand-me-up" from my younger sister who is the queen of shopping and trends.

2. Being a parent is truly a 24-7 job, even when I'm not with my kids. It's amazing how I can be doing something completely unrelated to children or being a parent when all of the sudden I'll think about my boys. In New York I could be sitting in a crowded theater listening to someone sing about Mormons, when all of the sudden my mind would drift to, "I wonder what the boys are doing now." Or I could be watching police cars zooming down the streets of New York, and I would think, "Alec would love seeing those sirens!" And my personal favorite was our first dinner there at a hummus restaurant where there was a little girl about Chase's age who was being incredibly well-behaved. She was there with her mom and dad for at least an hour and a half, and she was just as happy as could be sitting in her high chair. I couldn't help looking at her amongst all the chickpeas and pitas and thinking that Chase would never sit still that long or be that good in a restaurant! So even though my boys weren't physically with us, my mind just couldn't stop being a mom.

3. Being a parent involves making some pretty major sacrifices. This is one of those statements that everyone makes about having children, but I don't think anyone really realizes the full impact of this statement until after having children. At least I didn't. While I love my children immensely and wouldn't trade them for the world, I do have to admit that spending a week in NYC made me miss the freedom of those pre-child days just a little bit. Not so much the little every day freedoms, like actually finishing a magazine during the month that it came out. But more the "big life choices" kind of freedoms. The main decision I made in my life that I feel was a sacrifice for my family was where we live. The Harrisburg, PA area is a great place to live in the sense that it has excellent schools and it's pretty central to lots of day-trip/long weekend type locations like New York, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. We also have access to tons of cultural events and family activities just minutes away from us. Plus, most of my husband's family is within 15 miles of us, and my family is about a half-day's drive away. And I guess if you're a fan of the change in seasons it's a pretty good location too (afterall, we do have the four seasons of tornado, hurricane, ice storm and heat wave). But if I were only thinking of myself, Harrisburg would not be where I would want to live. Topping my list of dream places to live are Phoenix, San Diego and (drumroll please) New York City! So I think you can see how "living" in one of my dream cities for a week could make me just a tad envious of those who do live there (and in case you're wondering, spending a week there didn't change my mind about wanting to live there... if anything it made me want it more!). I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with raising a family in New York (or Phoenix or San Diego); it's just not how or where Chad and I decided we wanted to raise our boys. So I took one for the  team and settled down in the school district where Chad and I both graduated from, where we know first-hand the opportunities that are available and the quality of the education that our boys will receive.

Times Square on one of our nightly adventures. What is there NOT to love about this place? Ok, maybe I can think of a few things, but I'd still love to live here!

4. I am very very very lucky to have wonderful family to help me out. As I mentioned earlier, Chad's family lives very close to us, and my family is not super-close but still a day-trip away. Fortunately, all of our parents are very willing to help us out with the boys. Chad's mom or dad will usually watch the boys when we want to go out to dinner or we both have a commitment at the same time. My mom or dad will take the boys for our longer babysitting needs, like this vacation. We are so fortunate that our family is both willing and able to do this for us. It really makes our lives a lot easier! (We always say that the one plus-side to two sets of divorced parents is extra babysitters!)

This was just one of over 20 meals that I got to enjoy completely uninterrupted! Family is the best!

5. Even though I love my boys immensely, I still need time away from them. And I'm not talking time like a lunch out or a trip to the mall. I need an occasional multi-day break. I could sit here and tell you how hard it was for me to be away from my boys for a whole week...but then I would be lying. Sure I missed them. And yes I spent a good amount of time wondering what they were doing and looking at photos of them on my phone just to see them. But I knew they were in good hands with grandparents. I also feel that I am a better mother, wife and person when I have some extended time away from my kids. It really gives me a chance to relax, build up my energy and actually take time for me. Plus, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I guess whoever "they" is actually knew what they were talking about!

The end of our vacation. I look (and feel!) so much more relaxed and less stressed than I did at the beginning (though whether that was the lack of kids or the watermelon martini I just downed is still questionable...)

By the end of the week, I couldn't wait to see my boys and give them both a huge hug. I felt completely rejuvenated and ready to tackle anything. I was ready to be Mommy again.

Chad and I have our tenth wedding anniversary coming up in May, and we're already thinking about taking another kid-free trip to celebrate. Realistically though this won't happen until our eleventh or twelfth least. I'm not ready to leave my boys for another week just yet, but I'm sure by then I will be! And who knows what I will learn about being a parent from that adventure...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let the Germ Spreading Begin

Alec starts his second year of preschool this week, which means that for the next eight months I will have at least one sick family member in the house. Having a sick child means no one is happy. Obviously the sick child is not happy because he's sick; I'm not happy because one of my kids isn't happy; the other kid isn't happy because he's not getting all the attention; and Chad isn't happy because no one else is happy!

For me, one of the absolute most stressful parts of being a mother is having a sick child. When one of my kids gets sick, it starts a minimum week-long process of constant worrying and second guessing. Will the other child get sick? Will I get sick? Should I give him medicine? Should we cancel our plans? Do I need to take him to the doctor?

In an effort to reduce my stress levels this year, I have devised a simple 3-question "Sick Child Guide" to help me decide whether or not to worry when one of my boys is sick:

1) Is it green? I don't care what part of the body it's coming from, but if it's green it can't be good. (Thanks to the pool snack bar this summer, I did, however, learn that a 3-year-old eating a blue freeze pop results in a 3-year-old producing blue freeze poop.)

2) Is the child being good? If the child is behaving, surely there must be something to worry about. If one of the boys is not picking on his brother, I know it's time to call the doctor.

3) Will the child eat M&Ms and drink soda? If yes, then he can't be that sick. This also applies to cake, cookies, lollipops, ice cream and basically any other food that a child typically begs for. But if the child refuses the junk, then I know I need to prepare myself.

While having a sick child stresses me out, I've never really considered myself a "germophobe." But I have to admit that I do a bit more hand washing during the school year in an attempt to keep germs away. I'm still not convinced of how much it really helps though. With Chase being a thumb-sucker, washing his hands is basically pointless. I mean, why wash his hands when we get home from the mall when all he did at the mall was alternate between touching things and sticking his thumb in his mouth? I could spend hours of my day wiping his hands if I did it every time he touched something in public. What else can you expect from a 17-month old? Alec is pretty good about washing his hands, but it still seems impossible to keep them clean all the time.

Hopefully my kids are busy building up their immune systems right now so that in a few years it won't seem like I spend three quarters of my life wiping noses and taking temperatures. But for now all I can do is realize that being sick is a part of life. Wait, was that a sneeze I just heard?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lollipops for Breakfast

A few weeks ago I heard about a job opening that sounded very tempting to me. The pay was good; the hours were good; the benefits were good; the work itself sounded good; and to top it all off I was perfectly qualified for it and had some pretty significant inside connections at the place that was hiring. I'm not currently looking for a job, but I still hear about openings in my field, and I'll occasionally check a few local places where I would love to someday work just to see if they happen to be hiring for anything. But when I heard about this particular job, it really piqued my interest.

While I love staying home with my boys, there are some days when I have to admit that I am pretty jealous of Chad. He gets to walk out the door and leave all the temper tantrums, spilled juice and fighting behind. He gets to sit at a desk and drink a cup of coffee before it's cold. He gets to eat his lunch from start to finish, often at restaurants I only dream of going. He gets to have actual conversations that don't revolve around why someone can't watch Peppa Pig for the fourth time that day before 9am or who was playing with what toy first.

Now don't get me wrong... Chad works very hard at his job, and he is great at what he does. I realize that his work isn't easy either and that he has his share of rough, chaotic and frustrating days. I know that he has long days where the last thing he feels like doing is coming home to a messy house, whiny children and a screaming wife. But at least he gets an 8-hour break from all of the madness. Some days I think an 8-hour break would be heavenly, and this is why I was so tempted by the job opening that I recently saw.

I mentioned the job to Chad, and we discussed the pros and cons of me applying for it. It basically boiled down to more money for the kids, house and us versus less time with the children. We have already discussed the fact that at some point in the future I plan to return to some kind of a job outside of the home. But our thoughts have been that this will happen once both boys are in school all day.

I know that I am very fortunate to be able to stay at home with my children while they are young. I realize that there are many people who would love to do this but who can't make it work. I know there will come a day when I will look back on this time and miss it, so I am really trying not to take my time with my children for granted or wish it away. But there are some days where I just have to wonder if I was meant to be a stay-at-home mom. Heck, sometimes I wonder if I am even qualified to be a stay-at-home mom! I mean, I never went through any training. My version of a craft is gluing some googly eyes on a circle and calling it a cat (or a dog, or a spider...). And there are days when my kids have eaten a lollipop for breakfast. Not to mention all the times when I am guiltily checking facebook statuses while Alec watches mindless television and Chase eats his sixth handful of Puffs (hey, at least I feel guilty about it, right?). Some days I have to admit that I feel more like a babysitter than a mother, and I feel like I don't give my children the attention I should when I am with them. I know this isn't true, and I know that I do give them plenty of attention, but I also wonder if I would be a better mother if I weren't around my kids all day. I think that if I had that "break" from them then I would be more attentive to them when I was home with them. 

Ultimately I decided not to apply for the job. I know inside that I am not ready to go back to work outside the house, at least full time. I would consider something part time if it were close to perfect, and there is one place where I would consider a full-time job. Otherwise, for now my job is at home with the kids. Besides, I've already (barely) made it through three-and-a-half what's another three-and-a-half more? I can always go to work, but I'll only have these years (although crazy ones) with my children now.

And you thought I was kidding about the lollipop for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Parrot

This past weekend, my dad, step-mom and half-sister came to see our new house for the first time. They live about three hours away, so we don't get to see them on a very regular basis. When we do get to see them we usually have a lot of catching up to do, and this visit was no exception. They were just passing through the area, so they were only able to stay for a few hours.

As we were sitting around our family room trying to fit in three month's worth of news into two hours, Alec was acting like he needed a nap (to put it nicely). He was being cranky, fussy, whiny, etc., which was making it pretty hard to have a decent conversation. So I allowed him to watch a show on TV as long as he kept the volume pretty low. For a while this worked. But after 15 minutes or so he began to get frustrated that he couldn't hear the TV over our talking. He looked at us and said, "Stop talking!" This is something he has frequently demanded before when he wants attention so I didn't think twice about it. I nicely explained to him that Mommy and Daddy were trying to have a conversation with Oma, Opa and Aunt Molly. This resulted in a little bit of whining and another, "Stop talking!" This time we continued our conversation without acknowledging him. And then it happened. We all heard a very loud and clear "Damn it!"...said by a 3-year-old. Well, needless to say, we all stopped talking.

After a brief second of stunned silence, we all sat there trying to keep ourselves from laughing. Alec immediately realized that he had done something that got our attention, which of course prompted another 3-year-old "Damn it," making us try even harder not to laugh. When I was finally able to speak without a trace of laughter, I told Alec that he should not say that word and if he did again it would result in a time-out. Fortunately (and very uncharacteristically of Alec), he listened and went back to his show without really making much out of it.

I am not about to sit here and tell you that I never let a swear word escape my lips in front of my kids. But I'm also not one to drop a four-letter word into every conversation. I reserve these words for stubbing my toe, dropping an entire plate of lunch on the floor, spilling coffee on the computer and other such incidents. But as much as I would like to blame the construction guys who are working in our kitchen for teaching my son this word, I'm pretty sure the blame falls on me for this one. Alec is at an age where he picks up on everything. Nothing gets past him, and I guess he has finally picked up on some grown-up words (maybe with the move and the lack of a current kitchen I've been doing a little bit more toe stubbing, plate dropping and coffee spilling!).

After Alec was asleep that night and Chad and I were having another good laugh over the incident, I realized that I probably should have taken a different approach to how I handled it. If I put myself in Alec's shoes, he has no idea why he got in trouble for saying this word. He's heard me say it, and I didn't get in trouble when I said it. But when he said it he was threatened with a time-out. I think on some level he knew that it wasn't a word he should be saying, but he didn't understand why. (Although like my dad pointed out, he definitely used it in the right context!). Regardless, I probably should have explained to him that it was a word that grown-ups sometimes say, but that we shouldn't say it either. Since Alec is still a Dora fan, I easily could have compared it to Swiper's phrase, "oh mannnnn."

Now that I know how closely Alec is taking in every word of what I say (even if I don't think he's listening), I am going to make a conscious effort to eliminate all 4-letter words from my vocabulary at all times. Maybe I'll even try to replace them with Swiper's phrase so that when Alec does feel the need to be a parrot he will be saying something that's acceptable for a 3-year-old.  It shouldn't be too hard since like I said these words are not a normal part of my daily language. But I'm sure I will slip at some point, and I guess I'll just have to put myself on a time-out! Or I could always do what my dad did... Any time I caught him saying a bad word he had to take me out for ice cream. On second thought, that might not be the best solution for an ice cream addict; I'd probably end up swearing all the time just so that we could go out for ice cream! Now that I think about it, my dad isn't much of a 4-letter word user either so I have a sneaking suspicion that he sometimes looked for a reason to say a bad word! Damn it! I mean, oh mannnnn...

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Quickly We Forget

Over the past year, I seem to have come down with a severe case of déjà vu. Every week or so Chase does something that I swear has happened before, but I know that it hasn't. Then I realize, it has happened before, just not with Chase. As Chase grows up, he is constantly reminding me of things I went through with Alec that I had completely forgotten about.

For example, the other day I was preparing to clip Chase's fingernails, which I had been putting off for days. I always tend to avoid this task because of what is involved in clipping a 1-year-old's nails. It basically involves a lot of wriggling mixed in with some kicking and screaming (I won't specify who is doing the screaming), and (if I'm lucky) maybe three or four nails end up somewhat shorter than they started. What should be a simple 1-minute task turns into a 10-minute wrestling match where I only end up the winner half the time (and even when I am the winner I still come out with plenty of bruises). So this is why I wait until Chase's face looks like a candy cane from all the scratches from his nails before I finally decide that it's time to prepare for battle.

The funny thing is that I went through this exact same thing with Alec, but I had completely forgotten about it. I never would have remembered going through this with Alec without Chase reminding me. And the older Chase gets, the more he does that makes me remember going through the same things with Alec a few years ago.

One thing I distinctly do remember from early on in Alec's first year was swearing up and down that I would never have another child. Prior to Alec's birth, Chad and I had decided that we would like to try to have two, maybe three, children. But in the weeks and first few months after Alec was born I really wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. I mean, what person in their right mind would be going on 72 hours of no sleep and no shower, holding a screaming baby and thinking I can't wait to do this again!? Fortunately, just like all the rough phases since, this phase passed. And about nine months after Alec was born I started missing the tiny baby phase, becoming jealous of friends' ultrasound photos and thinking that maybe, just maybe, having another baby wasn't such a bad idea after all. But what amazed me was how quickly I really did forget the sleepless nights, the constant feedings, the crying.

Now, three and a half years later, I am constantly reminded of things that I had forgotten all about with Alec. And it's not just the struggles like nail clipping or sleepless nights. I forgot how good baby shampoo smells on a newborn. I forgot how smooth an infant's skin is. I forgot how snuggly a tired 1-year-old can be when dozing off for the night. I forgot the sound of a deep belly laugh from a 1-year-old.

And I am already finding that there are times that I can't even remember something Chase did a few months ago (heck, sometimes I can't even remember what I gave him for breakfast!). Friends with younger children will often ask me "Did Chase do (fill in the blank) when he was this age?" or "When did Chase start doing (fill in the blank)?" I'll have to stop and think, and half the time I honestly can't remember. I can't remember what time he went to bed when he was 3 months old. I can't remember how old he was when he started holding his own cup. I can't remember how many days he rocked on his hands and knees before he took off crawling.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older (I did just turn 31, ya know). Maybe it's because life is so hectic right now that I can't even remember to brush my own hair before leaving the house. Or maybe it's because my mind is already overflowing with so many memories of my children in just three short years that it pushes out the small memories to make room for the big ones. Whatever the reason, I know that I can't remember everything about my kids. But I do know that I like to be reminded about how far they've come, even if that involves reliving the new extreme sport of finger nail clipping.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Adventures with Mom

When I was a baby, my mom used to take me everywhere with her. She would just plop me in my carseat and off we would go on an adventure. To a friend's house. To the grocery store. To the post office. To the pool. To the mall.

As I got older, she continued to take me along with her. While she still took me on everyday trips with her, she also took me on new adventures. As a toddler she took me places like the zoo and the circus. She would take me to the Harrisburg train station where we would hop on a train to Elizabethtown with a loaf of bread in tow. Once we got to Elizabethtown, we would walk across the street to the Masonic Homes where we would go to a little pond there and feed the ducks and fish. I'm not sure what I enjoyed more: feeding the animals or eating the bread myself! And I'm sure my mom will never forget the time I got bit by a goose!

The older I got, the bigger the adventures got. We traveled all over the country. New York City was a popular destination. My fearless mother would drive right into the city without hesitation. We would see a show and have dinner at a really fun restaurant like Hard Rock Cafe or Mars 2112, and we would usually make a stop in FAO Schwarz where I would gaze in amazement at all the toys, animals, legos and candy. And our stop in the toy store was not complete without a run on the floor piano from the movie Big. On an early trip to the City, when I was maybe five, we were in a theatre waiting for the show to start when my mom leaned over to me and very tactfully whispered, "Do you see that lady in front of us? That is Katharine Hepburn. She is a famous actress." As any 5-year-old would do, I stood up, pointed and said in a loud 5-year-old voice, "Who, her Mommy?" Needless to say, Ms. Hepburn was wonderful about it and even took the time to talk to us for a few minutes. On another trip when I was a bit older we happened to be eating at Planet Hollywood when Jeff Daniels made an appearance to donate the dog suit he wore in Dumb and Dumber.

But the adventures didn't stop there. In my middle school and high school years, my mom opened my eyes to the world. We went to the Caribbean together twice. We went on a trip with her mom (my grandma) to Greece and Turkey, and another year the three of us took a trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I have so many memories of these trips and the time spent with my mom. Right now, if she's reading this, she is probably worried that I am going to go into the story about the candy bar in the Caribbean or the song she sang in Spain. But I'll save those for another time.

I am very fortunate to have a mother who had not only the resources to go on these adventures, but also the desire to include me in them. It is because of my mom and these adventures that I am the woman I am today. I have a huge passion for musical theatre and a love of travel that I never would have had without the experiences she shared with me.

Not only did my mom create these memories for me, but she also taught me how to be a good mother. She showed me unconditional love. She showed me generosity. She showed me strength. She showed me a good sense of humor. And now she is showing me how to be a good grandmother!

Now that I am a mother myself, I have a new appreciation for my own mom. I only hope that I can be half as good a mother to my children as she has been to me. I hope that some day Alec and Chase will look back and remember our trips to the grocery store and mall, the outings to Boiling Springs Lake to feed the ducks, the shows we see, and all the other adventures we have in the future.

Happy Mother's Day, Ma!!! XXOO

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm Declaring a National Holiday

Exactly one year ago today was both one of the best days and one of the worst days in my life. It was one of the best days in my life because our second son, Chase Everett, was born at 4:38am, weighing in at 7 lb, 7 oz and 19.5", with a full head of hair. But what should have been such a joyful experience quickly became the exact opposite when the doctors and nurses immediately realized that something was very wrong with Chase. He was a pale blue-ish white color, he struggled to breathe, and he was not moving or making any noise.

After several minutes of trying to get Chase to cry without success, the doctors and nurses rushed Chase out of the room. Before I even had a chance to hold my new baby, he was taken away by strangers. The delivery room suddenly became eerily quiet and empty. Chad and I were left in the room with my doctor and one nurse, neither of whom had any idea what was wrong. No one wanted to say anything because no one knew what to say.

The minutes passed, seeming like hours. Finally the doctor from the NICU came into the room. We all held our breath, not sure we wanted to hear what she was going to say. Then the news came; Chase was alive. But before we could enjoy the moment, a "but" followed what we thought was good news. He was alive at the moment, but somehow he had lost 80% of his blood and was born with only 20% of the blood that most babies are born with. They had already started him on a blood transfusion with the universal blood type because he didn't even have enough of his own blood for them to figure out what type he was yet. But the transfusion was not guaranteed to save him. Even if the transfusion did save him, there were numerous complications associated with his lack of blood. He could have permanent brain damage. He could have organ failure. And the hardest part was that we just had to wait to see what happened.

4/5/10 Day 1 in the NICU: We were finally allowed to visit Chase in the NICU at 11:30am, when he was just over 7 hours old. When I first saw him the tears started flowing. I wasn't crying because I was sad. I was crying because while he was hooked up to tubes, wires and oxygen, he looked like a normal baby. He did not look like the ghostly baby that was the only image of him that I had up until this moment. He was finishing a second blood transfusion, now using his own blood type, which they were able to figure out. We learned from a test of my blood that Chase had bled into me, but to this day we still do not know how this happened.

4/6/10 Day 2 in the NICU: I was able to touch Chase for the first time. We still couldn't hold him, and we could only touch him very gently, but it was a start. He had a third blood transfusion, plus numerous tests on various organs.

4/7/10 Day 3 in the NICU: I was able to hold Chase for the first time. He was hooked up to lots of wires and machines, and I was so scared I would hurt him just by touching him. I felt like I was holding an injured animal, not my own son. He had more and more tests, and amazingly every one came back with good results. Chase was already improving greatly, but it was still a waiting game. I had so many questions that couldn't be answered. I wanted to ask the nurses so badly if they thought he would survive through all this, but I knew they couldn't answer this question; even if they could, I couldn't gather up the courage to let the words escape my lips.

My first time holding Chase
4/8/10 Day 4 in the NICU: This was the first day that they let Chase eat anything. They were worried that his digestive system needed time to recover from his trauma, so up until now all his nourishment came from his IV. I had been pumping breastmilk, and they allowed him to have only a few mL at first to make sure he could tolerate it. Once that went ok they allowed him to have a little bit every four hours. One by one, they slowly started weaning him off of all the tubes and wires and breathing support.

4/9/10 Day 5 in the NICU: Everyone is amazed with how Chase is doing. They let him eat whenever he is hungry today. I nursed him for the first time. He is now completely functioning on his own, without any support from machines.

4/10/10 Amazingly we were able to take Chase home after only 5 days in the NICU. I'm scared to death to have him at home without the support of the machines and the care of the nurses and doctors, but everyone assures me that they wouldn't be letting him go home if they had any hesitations. They tell me that they have fixed what is wrong and that we should view him as a normal baby now. I wonder if I will ever be able to do this. Big brother Alec gets to meet his little brother for the first time.

Our first family photo, right before leaving the hospital
In Chase's first week of life, we learned a great deal about him. We learned that he is a fighter. We learned that he does not give up. We learned that he wanted to be here with us.

4/10/11: One year later. I have a happy, healthy 1-year-old who I thank God for every day. Chad & I are so blessed that things turned out the way they did. Miraculously Chase has no long-term damage from the trauma he sustained at or before birth. We still need to watch his development very closely to make sure he hits all his milestones, but to date he's been doing this and has even hit some earlier than Alec did.

Chase as a happy almost-1-year-old
While most parents use a child's first birthday (and following birthdays) to celebrate the birth of the child, I would like to celebrate something else today. I would like to celebrate all the doctors, nurses and other staff at NICUs across the world. Because of their training and dedication, Chase is here with us to celebrate his first birthday. Without them, my life today would be a very different life. I know I can't officially declare a national holiday, but for me, April 5 will always be a date to honor these individuals who work long hours doing everything they can to provide outcomes like Chase's. There are holidays for veterans, mothers, fathers, grandparents, religious figures, historical figures and even groundhogs, and while I take part in celebrating most of these holidays, it seems only appropriate that I should set aside a special day to honor my other heroes. And I can't think of a better day than the day they saved my son's life.

Most parents also use a child's birthday to remember the day the child was born. I can tell you that I don't need a birthday to remember this day for Chase. In the last 365 days, I have thought about his birth every single day, at least once. Sometimes I think about it while I am rocking him to sleep. Sometimes I think about it when he is screaming and I am ready to lose my mind. Sometimes I think about it when he is happily playing with a toy. Sometimes I think about it when I'm watching TV. I never know when the memory will pop into my head. But I do know that I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Thankfully I called my doctor on April 4, 2010, Easter Sunday, because I hadn't felt the baby move in almost a day. Thankfully the doctor didn't just tell me to drink some juice and lie down (which I had already done). Thankfully I was in a hospital with a Level III NICU that was able to handle our case. I honestly feel that every doctor and nurse that helped Chase was an angel that God sent to save my baby.

If you are reading this blog (and still reading now, since this is a pretty lengthy one!), I have two requests of you. My first request is that you take a few minutes out of your day to sincerely thank anyone you know that works in a NICU. Even if it is someone you haven't talked to in years, please let them know that their work is appreciated more than they will ever realize. My second request applies to parents. If you are a parent, please tell your child(ren) that you love them one extra time today. Even if you've already told them 100 times today, tell them 101. Give them an extra hug and kiss and just take a moment to hold them and be thankful that they are a part of your life.

Happy first birthday Chase!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Then and Now

The other day I stopped at Sheetz to get gas on my way home from picking Alec up from preschool. In an attempt to ignore the number that was rising way too high on the pump's price read-out, my mind wandered to my college and early marriage years when Sheetz was at least a weekly stop for me. Stopping at Sheetz used to be a quick all-in-one trip for gas and lunch. But now if I want to get something to eat there, it ends up being a 45-minute outing:

Fuel the minivan: 5 minutes
Lug kids out of van and into Sheetz: 5 minutes
Make our way to the MTO screens and begin to order: 2 minutes
Pause order to pick up chips that Alec has knocked onto the ground: 2 minutes
Restart order because screen reset: 2 minutes
Cancel order and start over again because Chase has touched the screen and ordered me 17 ham subs: 2 minutes
Explain to Alec that he can choose one snack and that he has to put the other 14 things down: 1 minute
Pick up the 11 things that Alec dropped on the floor and put them back: 2 minutes
Explain to him that he still needs to put three things back: 1 minute
Force Alec to pick up the 3 things he threw on the floor in protest: 5 minutes, including a tantrum
What was I ordering again? Restart order: 2 minutes
Where did Alec go? Brief search for toddler: 1 minute
Find him dangerously close to the self-serve soda, which he can now reach; run faster than I ever have before: 2 minutes
Pick up the items that Chase knocked over in my hurry to prevent the Coke flood of 2011: 2 minutes
Back to ordering: 2 minutes
Detach Chase from the customer's shirt that he has decided to start teething on: 1 minute
Screen reset again; opt for something in the take-out case, which I should have done to begin with: 1 minute
Wait in line to pay and hold my breath that Alec doesn't make a run for the soda again: 5 minutes
Lug kids back to van and into car seats: 5 minutes

Actually that's 48 minutes for anyone counting. And this is why I haven't had any food from Sheetz in almost a year. I never thought I would consider a meal from Sheetz to be a luxury. But this is just one of the things I took for granted before having children. Here are some more examples:

Then: Saturday night involved a date with Chad at a nice restaurant or a show or hanging out with some friends at a bar.
Now: Chad & I frantically try to get the kids to bed early so that we can watch a 90-minute movie before passing out from exhaustion at 10pm.

Then: I could make a quick stop at the mall to grab a birthday present for a friend and try on a few shirts that I know I won't buy.
Now: After moving plans around, I finally find a rare evening with nothing going on that Chad can stay home with the kids so I can fit in 6 months worth of shopping into 2 hours (or I drag the kids along with me and speed shop, but this tends to turn into a Sheetz incident too).

Then: I could occasionally sleep in on Saturday morning and lazily stay in bed until lunch time.
Now: I pretend I'm still asleep at 7:15 on a Saturday morning so that Chad will get up with the first child; then I guiltily drag myself out of bed at 7:25 to help with the second child who was woken up by the first child (and yes, those extra 10 minutes were luxurious and worth any guilt I have).

Then: I could take a day off from work to go on vacation or recoup from being sick.
Now: A day off? What's that?

Then: Remember the "Disney Store" game? That's the game we used to play to see if we could get to the back of the Disney Store and back out without being attacked by a sales clerk. It took an average of 30 seconds, and we only succeeded about half the time.
Now: The "Potty" game. I see if I can take 30 seconds to use the bathroom before my bladder explodes without a child spilling something, falling off of something, falling into something, breaking something or stuffing something somewhere it doesn't belong. I still only succeed about half the time.

Then: Dinner was at 7pm and included some nice conversation that didn't include the words "poop", "time-out", "play date" or "don't push back in your seat".
Now: Dinner is at 5:30pm and includes some shouted conversation between me and Chad (over the flinging of sweet potatoes and singing of "Wheels on the Bus") that usually includes all of the above-mentioned words.

Then: My car CD-player was filled with some Dave Matthews, Josh Groban, Broadway favorites, Billy Joel and whatever my current favorite CD happened to be.
Now: Ok, some things I don't compromise on... car music is still my music, with an occasional kid's CD thrown in for long car trips. My kids will just have to learn to appreciate (or deal with) my taste in music!

The list could go on and on, but those are just a few of the things that I really took for granted before having children. I knew my life would change when I had kids... I just didn't think about all the little things that seemed so easy when I didn't have children. But of course that makes me look at my life now, and I realize that there are just as many things that I could be taking for granted right now.

Then: My life was full of very loving family and friends.
Now: My life is still full of very loving family and friends, but now I have two extra people who tell me and show me they love me every day - through messy scribbles that are "pictures" of me with my kids, flowers (dandelions) picked just for me, someone crawling into my lap to lay their head on my shoulder and snuggle.

Then: I watched friends' children and thought "look how cute they are."
Now: I see the joy in my own kids' faces when they are having fun learning something new or playing with a friend. I have so much pride watching them and knowing that I am playing such a huge role in how they are growing up.

Then: Work involved long hours at a desk or computer screen (often staring out the window, wishing I could be taking advantage of the gorgeous weather outside), professional clothes and meetings.
Now: Work involves singing silly songs, having animal birthday parties, playing games, play dates and unlimited time outside, all while staying in sweat pants if I feel like it.

Then: "Mommy" was the word I used to refer to my own mother or someone else's mother.
Now: The word "Mommy" has a whole new meaning. I wait months to hear one of my children say "mama" for the first time, knowing it means me and only me. I could pick out Alec calling "Mommy" from 100 kids. From hearing this one simple word, I can tell if my child is hurt, excited, scared, happy or just plain bored.

So yes, my life is very different now than it was five years ago. And while I took little things for granted then, I am trying my hardest not to do the same thing now. Because five years from now I will be able to make a quick stop at Sheetz for gas and food, but I won't be able to hold my sleeping 1-year-old or have animal birthday parties with my 3-year-old.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be Patient Cookie Monster

We have a book in our house called Be Patient Cookie Monster. It's a short book that covers the basics of patience. In the book, Cookie Monster goes to the bakery to get cookies but the cookies aren't ready yet. Cookie Monster doesn't like the fact that he has to wait for the cookies, so Elmo, Big Bird and Abby take turns showing Cookie Monster how they are patient. Elmo counts groceries in the grocery cart, Big Bird practices his ABC's, and Abby thinks of rhyming words. By the end of the book, Cookie Monster decides he will think of his favorite foods, and just as he starts to think of them the cookies are ready.

I've heard many parents claim that having children taught them patience. I would really love to know their secret because the only thing having children has taught me about patience is how much respect I have for those people who actually have patience. I have never been a patient person, and if anything I think I have less patience now than I did before having children.

I'm in the midst of potty training Alec, and if this isn't a test of patience I don't know what is. Alec is a smart kid, so I know he "knows" what he is supposed to do. And actually everything went really well for a few days. He very quickly caught on to going "#1" in the potty, and we only had a day or two of a few accidents before he started letting me know when he had to go. It's the "#2" that started becoming the challenge. After only two days of potty training, Alec told me he had to go "poo-stinky." I took him to the potty, he went, and I thought I had the easiest potty trained kid in the world. I should have known it was too good to be true. The next day, Alec decided to boycott going #2. Not just in the potty, but altogether. See, he understood that he wasn't supposed to go in his underwear or pull-up, but he didn't want to go on the potty either. So when he got the feeling, he would frantically yell "Eeee! Eeee!" and clench his cheeks together (and I'm not talking about the cheeks on his face). By the end of the day, all the clenching in the world wasn't going to stand in the way of nature running it's course. So four pairs of underwear later Alec felt much better, although disappointed that he wasn't going to get his sticker at the end of the day for having no accidents.

The next day, after about our sixth run to the bathroom following "Eeee! Eeee!", I finally felt my patience giving. Considering I had already made it through five unproductive trips in under an hour, I was pretty proud of myself for being patient as long as I had. But the sixth time was it. I even warned Alec that I was losing my patience. Of course that went in one ear and out the other, just like any other time I try to reason with a 3-year-old. I think the families in the next development probably saw the steam that came out of my head. After a very well censored yelling fit (which I think also went in one ear and out the other), Alec looked at me and said, "I not need to go." So I did what I think any sensible mother would have done. I looked at him and said "You do too have to go!" I know, very mature. This, of course, was followed by a chorus of "no, no, no, no, no, I NOT need to go", including tears and everything. This child really knows how to pull out all the stops. By this point I was about ready to burst a blood vessel, so I picked Alec up, carried him to his room and plopped him on his bed while I took a few minutes to cool off.

When my blood had returned to a slow simmer I went in to retrieve Alec, who was calmly playing with his stuffed animals. We made amends and continued about our day, which was shortly interrupted by some more "Eeee! Eeee!'s". Finally, about two hours later, the "Eeee! Eeee's" became very close together and after something like our 50th trip to the potty (I think I lost track around trip 27 or 28) we had success.

The next few days were each an improvement over the day before, and now he is doing much better and there are considerably less "Eeee! Eeee!'s". He has even gotten his five stickers that he needed for his reward of going to a new play place that opened near us.

I can't say that I'm proud of my lack of patience, but I almost have to wonder if it actually helped in this situation. If I were a nurturing mother who had the patience to calmly take Alec to the potty every 10 minutes for weeks on end, it may have taken Alec months instead of less than two weeks to get better at going to the potty. Sure, I can be a loving, caring mother when I want to be. But I can also stand my ground, and my kids definitely know when I mean business.

As much as I'd like to say that having children has taught me patience, I'm pretty sure I will always be the person who is yelling at the car in front of me in stopped traffic, glaring at the nice granny who has parked her grocery cart right in front of the cereal that I need to get, tapping my foot and sighing while the person in front of me at the coffee shop methodically counts out exact change for their order, and losing my temper when my kids have pushed my last button. I think it's going to take more than reading about a blue monster waiting for cookies for me to learn patience.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Facebook Tells All

A few days after New Year's, I was having a rare morning of "me" time while Alec was at preschool and Chase was at home with Chad. I decided to go to Panera Bread and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and catch up on the latest gossip in my Redbook magazine (even if the "latest" gossip is really the October edition that has been sitting on my desk unopened for four months). Being the Facebook addict that I am, I also had to share this as my status. So I opened up my phone and typed, "Alec is at school, Chase is hanging out at home with Chad, and I'm enjoying coffee and a magazine at Panera Bread. I'd say this is a good way to start the New Year!

After a half hour or so, I checked my phone to see if anyone had commented on my status. A few people had "liked" it, and a few others had offered comments telling me to enjoy the time. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked what I had really said. Was I really saying that a great way to start off the New Year is without my kids?

I've never been a fan of New Years resolutions, and this year is no exception. I've just never seen the point in waiting until a new year starts to try to achieve something you want. But I do use the start of a new year as a time to reflect on what is going on in my life. And this year I turned to Facebook to help me out. After considering the status I had just posted, I thought back to other statuses I had shared over the past year or so... "All I want for Christmas is for Chase to sleep more than 30 minutes at a time during the day...", "...looking forward to date night tonight...", "...taking a deep breath, counting to 10, and repeating over and over to myself I love my children, I love my children, I love my children...". I think you get the picture. Basically a lot of my statuses had to do with my frustrations with my children or enjoying time without them. In fact, if someone who didn't know me were to visit my Facebook page, they might just wonder why I even had children in the first place.

But just as I was about to put myself up for nomination for worst mother of the year, I realized that for every one frustrating status there were two or three statuses that showed my love for my kids. There were statuses about the fun trips we took, like to Zoo America or to see Yo Gabba Gabba. There were statuses about trying to find home remedies for my poor little guy who wasn't feeling well. There were statuses about what Alec or Chase happened to do on a particular day that made me laugh. There were statuses about not being able to believe how quickly the kids are growing up.

Before I knew it it was time to pick Alec up from school. On the way to get him, I think I figured out what I was really thinking when I made the initial Facebook post that got me onto this whole train of thought. I was thinking that I had a wonderful time on New Year's Eve day with Chad & the boys. We played at the Whitaker Center for a while before heading over to see some children's theatre and a kid's countdown to noon, and we ended the day with a trip to Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark. And while I had a blast watching Chase play in the water table at Whitaker and watching Alec on all the rides at Hersheypark, I also had a blast at Panera Bread sipping my coffee and reading my magazine (even if I barely made it past the table of contents because I really spent all my "me" time thinking about the kids!). So a great start to the New Year was actually spending some quality time with my family, while also escaping for some non-mommy time. Now if only that would have fit into a Facebook status!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Liar Liar Part 2: The Disappearing Biffy

A few months ago I wrote about Alec's addiction to his pacifier (or his biffy as we called it) and my dilemma of how to get rid of it ( I am happy to report that we are now a biffy-free house!

Are you ready to hear my secret that worked like a charm? I simply didn't give it to him at night. I didn't say a word about it, and neither did he. Yes, it really was that easy. All the plotting and planning and scheming was pretty much for nothing. I didn't need to lie; I didn't need to hold him down while he kicked and screamed for his biffy; I didn't need to make him exchange it for a toy that I probably would have gotten him anyway; I wasn't up multiple times overnight to serve as his replacement comfort item. Now I'm wondering how long ago I could have done this!

After the first biffy-free night, I thought for sure it was a fluke. I just waited for him to ask for it the second night. But he didn't say a word about it on the second night...or the third...or the fourth... It's been over a month now, and he hasn't asked for it once. It honestly amazed me how easy it was.

I guess I really shouldn't be that amazed. This isn't the first time he has surprised me with how easily he adapts to what I consider to be a major change. When he turned two last January, we moved him into a new room so that we could use the nursery for Chase. Not only did we move him to a new room, but we moved him from his crib into a double bed. Chase wasn't due until April, and we wouldn't need the nursery right away since we would use the bassinet in our bedroom for the first few months. But thinking that our little creature of habit wouldn't handle this change well, we decided to move him in in January so that we had a few months buffer for what we were sure would be a failure at first. We were convinced that Alec would take one look at his new room and bed and have a meltdown on the spot. But again he amazed us. He was thrilled with his new Thomas-themed room. He climbed right into his bed that first night and slept in it like he had been sleeping there his whole life, never even asking about his crib. Now, almost a year later, he just views the nursery as Chase's room.

There have also been other situations that Alec handled much better than I expected: the start of preschool, the transition out of his high chair, and most recently the change to a new car seat. Maybe this little creature of habit isn't as dependent on his routine as I once thought. Or, more likely, he's just growing up. It kind of makes me wonder what else he is ready for!