Thursday, April 30, 2009

Introducing: Chachke Designs at Etsy

Yes, this is a shameless plug for my new Etsy shop, Chachke Designs, where I will be selling handmade paper goods created by me! I have a small inventory of gift tags listed now, and I will be adding new items daily. I would love if all of you would stop by and check it out, or you can subscribe to receive updates whenever I list something new by clicking on the "Subscribe to shop feed" link at the bottom right of my Etsy home page. Even if you are just "window shopping", the traffic will help me get added exposure on Etsy. No pressure - just keep in mind that the quality of Alex's college education depends on you.

You can visit my site at chachkedesigns.etsy.com or by clicking here.

Thanks!!

p.s. Please pass this info on to everyone you know. Or anyone you see, for that matter - your bus driver, the cashier at Walmart, that guy that digs through your garbage can...Everyone needs gift tags, right?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

and the fog lifted

I've been in a bit of a funk lately, and by lately I mean about six months or so. I usually blame my occasional bouts with the blues on spending every day with a person who barely speaks my language; someone who - other than eating and sleeping and watching America's Next Top Model marathons - shares few of the same interests as me; someone who has recently decided that my efforts to cater to his every whim are just not good enough and decides to express his dissatisfaction by acting like a complete and utter boogerhead.

One day last week, the forecast called for a sunny, hot day, with no cloud cover and no chance of rain. This was a departure from the kind of weather we have been having, which has been overcast and soggy and muggy at best. So my first instinct was to run to Target and get a little inflatable swimming pool so that we could take advantage of the warm day, before the weather had a chance to rain on our parade.

Of course, I was mid-mystery-illness last week, and since Alex had a hard time mastering the art of blowing up an inflatable swimming pool, I had to do it myself. Have you ever tried to blow up a five foot wide swimming pool with a sore throat? I would not recommend it. And now, there are about six hundred breaths of mystery-illness cooties swimming around in that thing, and I'm just praying Alex doesn't pop it and release the plague into the world.

Anyway, we finally got the thing blown up, donned our swimming gear, slathered ourselves with sunscreen, and stepped outside. And I don't know, something about the sun beating down and the smell of suntan lotion and having to squint my eyes just to see made me feel like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Suddenly, I was in the best mood I had been in for weeks, and it didn't even matter that the first thing Alex did when we got outside was to sit in the mud in his new swimtrunks.

We ended up putting the pool on the deck (despite the warnings on the box that said not to) because the yard is still muddy and gross from all of the rain, and our grass still isn't quite up to par. I let Alex fill up the pool, which he loved and was totally good at, as in he actually kept the hose inside the pool and didn't try to spray me or Murphy with it. We dumped all of his bath toys in and he got in and splashed and dripped water onto my legs as I sat and dangled my feet in. Even Murphy got in and cooled off. It was so fun and relaxing and made me even more excited for the oppressive heat of Dallas summers. Not to mention, we recently applied for membership to Glen Cove Swim Club for this summer and were accepted, so Alex and I can go to the big pool every day if we feel like it. Yay!

We played and played and soaked up every bit of glorious sunshine we could before heading inside for a delicious, summery lunch, and a delicious, summery nap.

I'm no mental health expert, but I'm pretty sure that I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (among other things). Which is unfortunate considering that every day since that wonderful, sunny day last week has been overcast and rainy and awful. And yes, I am miserable and crabby and in desperate need of sunshine. But I am holding out hope that the fog will lift soon, and hopefully for more than one day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

mmm, fudgie-ie

What's that? How many pictures can you take of a child eating a fudgsicle? Well, since you asked...



I know. I have an illness. But many of them are so much alike that it's hard to pick which good picture is better than another good picture, so I just end up posting all of them. I mean, in this one, his eyebrows are up, while in that one, his eyebrows are down. Kind of like those two pairs of black leather heels with the open toes and the ankle straps. You might think they look exactly the same, but that one has three straps and a stacked heel while the other has two straps and a stiletto. It's all about the details. How could I possibly choose between them??!!


So you see my dilemma. And I swear, I do actually spend time with Alex without my camera attached to my face. A LOT of time. But when I see a photo opp, I run with it. Like, for example, when Alex had finished his fudgsicle and tried to clean up his own mess...



That's it. I promise. At least for today. However, I can't promise that tomorrow's post won't contain dozens of unnecessary and redundant pictures of Alex scratching his hiney. Hmm, I actually don't have any pictures of that yet...stay tuned!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

wakey wakey doorknob shakey

As of three days ago, Alex no longer lies patiently (or impatiently) in his bed in the mornings. Whereas I used to let him marinate in his bed for as long as possible, slowly working my way into consciousness as he fell in and out of sleep, rising only when the sound of his mom-meeee!!s became too pitiful to ignore, now he hops out of bed the instant his eyelids pop open and heads straight to the door of his bedroom, where he rattles his doorknob until the sound becomes too irritating to ignore.

It wouldn't be such an issue if he would just play quietly in his room or read a book or put away his own laundry until I came in to get him. Or, if he insists on rattling his doorknob seconds after he wakes up, the least he could do is wake up at a reasonable hour, say, sometime LATER THAN 5:52AM. Yes, I awoke to the sound of that obnoxious rattle at 5:52 this morning and had no choice but to drag my half-conscious body to Alex's room, where I opened the door, prepared to give him a piece of my mind, until his bright and shining face greeted me with a huge grin and a jubilant, "Hi Mommy!" Yeah, that's just great, kid. How am I supposed to yell at you now?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

followers

For those of you who noticed (or didn't notice), I just added a new feature to my site that will allow regular readers to proclaim themselves as "followers" of my blog. Which totally makes my blog sound like some sort of cult, of which a twenty-one month old child is the leader and prophet, who has developed his own set of Rules By Which To Live and expects everyone to do as he commands, or else...which is sort of true. But it's not so much that as just a way to keep track of who reads my posts. And while some of my readers may prefer to remain anonymous - which is understandable considering the offensive and graphic nature of my content - I'd love to know who knows every detail of my family's personal lives.

I can't tell you how many times I've had people - many of whom I didn't know or at least hadn't met in person - email me or come up to me and refer to something that I had said on the blog, or tell me that they have been regularly checking in on us since Alex was born. I truly have no idea how many people actually read what I write (not that it matters, I would blog if my only reader was a literate monkey pursuing his B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies), but I'd love to know who checks in to see what we are doing, regularly or just on occasion. Oh, and any random internet stalkers that may be lurking out there - I'd like to know who you are, too. A fan is a fan.

I'm not exactly sure how it works, but there is a link in the lefthand margin of my page, below my blog archive*, where you can sign up. It appears as though you sign yourself in with a username and password associated with your Google or Yahoo account, then you have the option to follow publicly or privately (and see, for those of you too embarrassed to admit publicly that you follow my blog can be discreet - your little secret's safe with me). I don't know if I will keep this application - I suppose it depends on how easy it is to sign up and how many people actually go through with it - but for now, I am just excited to put faces with the numbers in my site counter.

* I moved the Followers application to a more visible location so that people might notice it even if they have not read this post.

Friday, April 24, 2009

two words

A couple of days ago, Alex finally responded "love you" after many, many nights of me saying it to him before bed and getting no love back. I had to fight the urge to eat his adorable "love you"-spouting face, and instead, calmly praised him for a job well done, kissed him, and left the room. Where I proceeded to jump up and down and pee myself with excitement. Nevermind that he really doesn't know what those words mean. He loves me! He really loves me!!

cheap labor

Need another good way to wear out your toddler? Put him to work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ways to wear out your toddler

Today was a busy, fun-filled day and I have little to show for it except for a couple of pictures and a few words.

We are members of the Dallas Zoo, and now that the weather has warmed up (86 degrees yesterday, 86 today, 81 tomorrow), I would like to start going at least once a week. I took A this morning, and we spent over an hour just at the Children's Zoo. Alex loves to pet the bunnies, play on the playground, and now that it is warmer, he loves to take his shoes off and splash through the water that runs through a little creek around the playground. Plus, there are so many hyper-active ankle-biters wreaking havoc that he can run amok and still be the most well-behaved kid there. I rarely have to tell him "no", except for the times when he tries to feed the sheep his fingers or bangs on the bunny cage or attempts to climb into the pigpen. I think the latter was his subtle way of letting me know that he feels perfectly at home in a pigsty.

We decided to get lunch from the zoo cafe, where a corn dog will run ya twelve dollars plus tax. Oh wait - you get 10% off if you are a member, so I guess it's more like ten and change. Needless to say, Alex and I ended up sharing a kids' meal . And I use the word "share" lightly because my portion of the meal consisted of half a bag of chips and two bites of corn dog. Alex, on the other hand, wolfed down an entire corn dog (minus two bites), a bag of animal crackers, a cup of milk, and a handful of chips. I should have known better than to share with him, little piglet that he has become. On Tuesday, after we came back from the grocery store, he ate three Eggo waffles - still frozen - and a handful of grapes before I even got the groceries into the refrigerator. Some might say he is going through a growth spurt. I think a call to Overeaters Anonymous is in order.

I don't know if you noticed, but I have this unhealthy compulsion to document every second of Alex's life, as if the very future of this planet hinges on whether I can produce a picture of Alex shoeless, in a green shirt, picking his left ear with his eyes half closed. Which is why I promised myself that I would enjoy this trip to the zoo as it was happening instead of watching it all through a camera lens. Of course, I still took my camera with me. You know, for an emergency. Thing is, although I was trying my hardest to enjoy Alex giggling and splashing in the water and feeding the sheep his fingers, all I could think about how I wasn't taking any pictures of Alex giggling and splashing in the water and feeding the sheep his fingers. But I managed to practice some restraint, and the only time I pulled my camera out was while we were eating lunch...which is why I have seven pictures of Alex eating lunch.

Tim has a work thing in San Antonio for a couple of days and was still at the house when we got back from the zoo. After sad goodbyes, Alex practically begged me to put him to bed, where he took a three hour nap, then we had a playdate in the park with one of his classmates. Alex was in bed and asleep by 7:37 tonight, and here I am, at 8:24pm, struggling to keep my eyes open as I type this. It seems as though we totally wore ourselves out today. I am looking forward to a busy summer and many more long naps and early bedtimes. Yay for fun and sun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

poor sick babies

My folks came to visit this past weekend and boy was it...eventful.

Alex has had a nasty cough since before Easter that kept him up several nights in a row, which kept me up several nights in a row, and when that coughing turned to wheezing again, I decided to take him back to the doc last week to make sure that he didn't have another case of strep and/or RAD. He didn't. What he did have was double ear infections. Again. No fevers, no ear-pulling, no decrease in appetite, NO decrease in energy level - no indication whatsoever that he had ear infections other than a nasty cough.

His doc was unavailable the day I took him in so this info came from the Nurse Practitioner. She said that, considering his history with ear infections, we may want to see an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist next time he gets one, especially if it happens during the summer, after "ear infection season" has passed. Inner ear issues tend to run in my family - as an ear-infection-prone toddler, my diet consisted of Amoxicillin and popsicles until I turned two and had my tonsils removed. My little brother had to have major surgery on his ear when he was four and is now mostly deaf in that ear. Of course, he went on to become an incredible musician, which just goes to show that ears are overrated.

By the time Alex saw the doc, I was starting to come down with something myself. It began as a swollen, scratchy throat that, by Thursday afternoon, had rendered me voiceless. I called my doctor's office and whispered to the receptionist that I needed a throat culture to see if I had strep. I went in on Friday and discovered that I did not have strep, which essentially meant that my illness was a mystery. I went home with a prescription for nasal spray and a decongestant, neither of which seem to have helped since I still have an itchy throat, an annoying cough, and whenever I open my mouth to speak, I sound like Bobcat Goldthwait.

The point of all of this is that my mom and dad were coming to stay in our plague-ridden household for the weekend, and while they were excited about being able to baby us, I was kind of bummed that we weren't at our healthiest. The plus side of their ill-timed visit was that Alex wasn't contagious, and since the doc suggested that I stay at arm's length away from him in case my mystery illness was contagious, they were able to pick up my slack in the mothering department. Plus, they cooked and cleaned and gave me some much-needed rest, which, I suppose, couldn't have come at a better time.

We took it kind of easy, ate a lot, had food fights, played outside, did some shopping, and played beauty salon - I flat-ironed my mom's big, curly hair, after which my dad didn't even recognize her. After A went to bed, we played games and watched movies. It was a really good time with my folks, despite the fact that I was feeling not so good.

Of course, Alex was in hog heaven. He had a great time blowing bubbles, planting "trees", reading books, and throwing horseshoes with B. He had a ball rough-housing with Grampa, being goofy, playing keep-away with his sippy cup, and trying on Grampa's glasses. B taught him that hiding under the table in the kitchen is a lot of fun, and now that B is gone, Mommy is the one that has to play along when Alex points under the table and says "sit!". He even went pee-pee on the potty for B and was promptly rewarded with one tasty jelly bean. Grampa taught him why Grampas should not be allowed to do their grandsons' hair, gave him some pointers about how to properly marinate a dry-aged ribeye, and gave him a quick lesson in auto-mechanics.

Speaking of which, did I mention that my parents' car overheated during the last five miles of their trip here? And that after my dad changed the broken clamps on some pipe-thinga-majiggy and started the car, it made wretched sputtering sounds that no fine-tuned piece of machinery should ever make? And that, after he had it towed to the dealership, they told him it would cost $750 to run a diagnostic, that he appeared to have blown both head gaskets, and if that was indeed the case, to fix the problem would cost more than the car was worth? Oh, and that they ended up having to rent a U-Haul truck and a trailer to drag Dad's poor, sick baby all the way home to Peoria? I hope I didn't mention any of that because it was a very traumatic experience for my dad, who loves his vehicle, and he would just be more miserable to have to relive it here on my blog.

Needless to say, their ride home wasn't nearly as comfortable or exciting as their trip here. I tried to convince them that it was a sign that they needed to stay. Alex was more distraught about them leaving than I was, and when my mom said goodbye to him, he cried, "Beeeeee! Beeeeee! Nooooooo! Beeeeee!!" as big, fat tears rolled down his face. Good try, Alex. A for effort. In the end, they drove off into the sunset with their poor, sick baby trailing behind them. Hopefully their next visit will be a little less dramatic. I think they'll probably fly...

Monday, April 20, 2009

21

So I started Alex's twenty-one month post on the 9th, the day before I intended to post it, which would have been the day that he actually turned twenty-one months old, which happened to be the day before the day before the day before Easter, which also happened to be the day after Grammy came to town and the day before Leah and Chris arrived, then I got so caught up in Easter festivities, followed by a week of blogging about Easter festivities, that I am now over a week late with his twenty-one month post, and while several changes have come about in the week-and-a-half since he turned twenty-one months old, I will save those details for future posts, simply to maintain the accuracy and chronology of the monthly posts, which means this post will be about the changes that occured last month, between Alex's twenty-month post and the day he turned twenty-one months old, and not at all about the things that have happened in the last week-and-a-half.

Now that we've got that cleared up, here is the scoop on this month's monthly post.

I sort of slacked on last month's post, so in order to redeem myself, I have decided to revert back to my original monthly post format. That way I can cover all the bases, things I haven't touched on in a while, and that should hold everyone over until Alex's final, detailed monthly post when he turns two. In three months. THREE MONTHS!! AAAIIEEEEEE!!!!

Size: I recently took him to the pediatric clinic (more on that later) and found out that his weight is currently 27.8 lbs, about a pound and a half more than at his 18 month well child visit. I wish they had checked his height, as well, but we'll find that out at his next well child visit when he turns two in three months. THREE MONTHS!!

Recently I've had to replenish all of the clothes he's outgrown, which is most of them, and have started to build his summer wardrobe. He wears a combination of 18 and 24 month shirts and shorts, but his pants must be at least 24 months, if not 2T. It's seems funny to put a big 21 month old kid in 18 month clothes, but most shorts and shirts fit just right in that size. Long-sleeved shirts tend to be three-quarter sleeve shirts when Alex wears them, which is why his sleeves are rolled up most of the time. His daddy has the same problem...which is why his sleeves are rolled up most of the time. Pants, of course, are still an issue - most of them fit fine in the waist and posterior region, but they are too short, especially after being washed, and I end up having to roll them into capri pants. In that case, he might as well be wearing shorts. 2T pants tend to be big in every way - big at the waist and baggy in the back. But at least they're not high-waters, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?

He wears size six shoes as a general rule, although I make him clomp around in sevens if those shoes match his outfit better. It's important that he learns very early to sacrifice comfort for fashion. We recently switched to size six diapers as well, not surprising since his diaper size has pretty much matched his shoe size since he was born.

Eating: He's still a great eater, especially in the last month. He has a huge appetite at most meals, eats well at school, and tries most of the things we put in front of him. He would be perfectly happy to sit and eat a pile of grated parmesan cheese, pinch by pinch. He'd rather eat broccoli off of my plate than cookies off of his own because, for some reason, whatever is on Mom's plate is always more appetizing. In fact, he'd rather eat broccoli off of Mom's plate than eat broccoli off of his own. Whatever, I don't mind sharing as long as he's eating broccoli. He likes spicy food, things like curries and salsa and Schezwan chicken, and we rarely hesitate to let him try what we're eating. He even ate a California roll last time we had sushi, although we did draw the line at giving him Wasabi. Maybe next month.

Sleeping: His sleep schedule has been a little erratic lately. For a while there, he was getting up at 6 sharp, and that was KILLING ME. Just when I thought I could take no more, Daylight Savings Time ended and he was sleeping great, going to bed around 7:30pm and getting up around 7:30am. In the past week, however, now that he's finally caught on to the fact that 7:30am is actually 8:30am and how dare us try to pull one over on him by moving all the clocks forward an hour!!??, he has started getting up at 6 again, and once again, IT IS KILLING ME. He does take good 2+ hour naps every day, although it often takes some coaxing to get him to stay in bed. In the end, Mama always wins that fight, which he is learning...slowly.

Physical/Cognitive Development: Holy cow, this child is talking up a storm. A few days into his twenty-first month he switched his vocabulator into overdrive and has added umpteen words to his repertoire. His favorite words this month are "Mommy" and "Daddy", probably because we are much more willing to give him what he wants when he refers to us by name. He will lie in his bed in the morning, hollering, "Mom-meeeee!! Dad-deeeee!!" over and over until one of us comes to get him.

He will repeat any word we throw his way, including such whoppers as "crocodile", "dinosaur", and "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis". Okay, so he's only said that last word once, and he didn't use it in the proper context. But still, the kid is mad about words and letters, can recognize the words "Mommy" and "Daddy", can repeat most of the letters in the alphabet (that "G" is a doozy) and can pick most of those letters out of a lineup. Some of his favorites are "J", "W", and "B", although that tends to change daily. If I ask him to "bring me the W", he will run to his toyroom, pull the letter W out of his foam mat, and present it to me. He loves to try to spell things - out of the blue, he will see a word and suddenly start pointing at each letter, saying something like, "E, E, O, C, U, D, E!" It would be great if the word he was referring to was actually "eeocude", but for now, we are just happy that he is starting to understand how letters work together to make words.

video

He is running too fast for us to keep up these days and is still climbing like crazy. The other day (social workers, avert your eyes), I had left him in the bathroom playing with some toothbrushes while I ran into the kitchen to get Windex. When I got back, seconds later, I found Alex standing on the tank of the toilet, grinning impishly and smacking the toothbrushes together. Not the seat, people. The tank. I pretended I wasn't having a heart attack, calmly removed him from the toilet, and sent him to timeout. Whenever we pick him up from the nursery at church, the nursery workers always say, "He is fast! He tries to run out every time the door opens, and we can barely catch him!"

He can climb onto our bed and over the back of the couch with ease and will drag a bucket or a box (or whatever he can find) into the kitchen so that he can reach things on the counter or in the sink. I watch him like a hawk when he is in the kitchen (but obviously not in the bathroom) because he can now access the most dangerous and off-limits things in the house, like the stovetop, the knives, and the coffee maker.

This month, we've seen an increase in his bossy side in that he will point to a chair and command you to "sit", or ask you to pick him up, point in a particular direction, and tell you to "go", or climb on your back and ask for a "ride", or bring you a book and ask you to "read". I suppose it;s unfair to call him "bossy" since he is really just communicating what he wants directly and verbally instead of just bellowing like a sick cow until we can guess what he is after.

He really is a very good boy, very affectionate, and very liberal with hugs and kisses and pats on the back. He loves to roll on the floor and jump aroud and do anything that might get a laugh. He loves to play outside, loves his mommy and daddy and doggy, loves to take things apart and try to put them back together, loves books and music and Sesame Street and strangers. Yes, strangers. Loves to wave at people, shouts "HI!!!" to everyone he sees, and unabashedly flirts with pretty waitresses.

He is generally sweet and well-behaved and adorable, although sometimes his hair has a mind of its own. He is Mr. Personality. He is my best buddy, despite the fact that he regularly wakes me up before sunrise, and I love him to death. I can't wait to see what the next few months have in store.



P.S. So sorry for the ridiculous first paragraph of this post. I was doped up on nasal spray, two types of cough medicine, a prescription decongestant, and a whole lot of caffeine at the time it was written. If I were arrested by the Literary Police for that awful piece of writing, I suppose I'd have to plead "no contest" to one count of WUI - Writing Under the Influence.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter 2009: The Big Day

We decided to go to church later than usual on Easter morning so that we could enjoy what the Bunny brought us, have a relaxed breakfast, and still have plenty of time for the five of us to get purdy and get to church while there were still seats available. Alex's contribution was to provide our early morning wake-up call because he was up and at 'em a few minutes before dawn cracked. All of us scored in the "what the Bunny brought" department, although Alex's various attempts to impress the Bunny apparently paid off because the kid hit the jackpot, blowing last year's haul out of the water. He found all sixty of his baskets (with a little help) and spent the morning playing with his new toys, books, and puzzles.

After breakfast, we got ready for church, took some family pictures, packed up the van, and made it to church in time to find a spot in the parking deck, get Alex to his Sunday school class, grab a cup of coffee, and find five empty seats in the Great Hall. Yeah, I was pretty impressed by us, too.
(Btw, you may notice a picture of Alex grasping a particular boyish body part in an ever-so-crude fashion. Allow me to explain. Lately, when he starts to pee, he will grab his crotch and say, "poo-poo", which apparently means, "hey guys, I'm going potty right now". We are hoping this is a sign that potty training is in our near future.)



I had prepared lunch before we left in the morning so it was ready to eat by the time we got home. Alex, however, tuckered out by the early rising and the basket finding and the candy eating and the Sunday school playing, started to fade in the car ride home, and didn't manage to stay conscious long enough to eat. So he napped while the rest of us ate and lazed around and took naps of our own. He woke up a miserable, sweaty mess, which was especially upsetting because we didn't leave enough time to get good pics of his Easter outfit before we left.



After he had recovered from his nap, I redressed him and took a few candid shots of him goofing around on the front porch in his Easter best. It wasn't until yesterday, as I was rummaging through his closet, that I realized I had forgotten all about the rad navy newsboy cap (or "hell-do", if you're a Telford) that I had bought to go with his outfit. Needless to say, I was devastated, although he still looked pretty dapper without it. What can I say, my kid's got style.



After Grammy, Chris, and Leah headed home, we spent the rest of the day laying around the house, playing with our new stuff, and eating way too much sugar-laden junk. The Easter Bunny was very conservative with the amount of candy that filled Alex's baskets, although he did fill the candy dishes with "all natural" bunny-shaped graham crackers interspersed with tiny jelly beans. Of course, only after Alex had picked out all the jelly beans did he start eating the "healthier" bunny-shaped graham crackers. Finally, Alex took a much-needed bath and played with some of the bath toys that the Bunny had left him.



Another Easter down. Holidays like this are just going to get more and more exciting now that Alex is starting to understand what is going on and can appreciate the festivities more. I am already imagining his excitement about this year's Neiman's Christmas Parade and wondering how he will react to Santa at the Arboretum and thinking about how much fun he'll have at Halloween...that reminds me, I still haven't decided on his costume this year, and people are already asking me what it will be. One holiday at a time, people. One holiday at a time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter 2009: Easter pics

Aunt Leah and Uncle Chris got up at 4 something Saturday morning and made their way up to Dallas as the sun rose, determined not to miss any of the fun we might have had later that morning. We had planned on taking Alex to get his picture taken with live bunnies at NorthPark Center by a professional photographer, a little Easter event that the mall holds every year, perhaps for those folks who go to the Arboretum and find out that no one is there to take pictures with the Easter Bunny. To be frank, I think that getting professional pictures of A with a skinny, sweaty teenager in a bunny costume with dirt on the knees is a little cornball anyway, and that Easter pictures with live bunnies is a much cuter and slightly less corny Easter tradition.

Being that it was the last day for pictures with the bunnies and the fact that we were running a bit late, I was sure that the line from the photog booth would wind through the mall, out the door, and extend around the building three times when we finally showed up to get Alex's name on the list. There was a small gathering of people around the booth, but certainly not the mob scene I was preparing myself for. We added Alex to the list, and about two hours later, after Alex had petted the stunt double bunnies and walked around the mall with Leah and Chris and ate some snacks, it was his turn.

I was convinced that Alex would end up manhandling those poor, sweet bunnies considering his past experiences with live creatures (remember this and this?). And as the photog handed Alex the fragile little bunnies, scenes from Of Mice and Men flashed in my mind. But apparently all the coaching we've done to keep Alex from ripping Murphy's ears off had an effect on him because he was just as gentle and sweet as he could be with those bunnies, and as a result, we got some seriously cute pics.

Is it just me, or does he look a lot older than twenty-one months old, posing like a big boy? Twenty-three months, at least. Aside from him maiming and/or murdering those innocent little bunny rabbits, my other concern was that he would be so enamored with the bunnies that we wouldn't get any pics of him actually looking at the camera. But clearly, the photog had done this a time or two before and knew how to get his attention. What the photog probably didn't bank on was when he tossed Alex a wooden egg to hold on to and Alex immediately hurled it back at him at no less than warp speed. Luckily they were wooden eggs and not real ones. Well, maybe not so lucky for the photog, who probably ended up with a big welt where that wooden egg hit him.

We waited another hour before we were allowed to edit the pictures and pick the ones we wanted to buy. Alex was an angel the whole two-and-a-half hours we were there, despite being hungry and tired and sick of the mall. We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen afterwards, where Alex continued to be a goof and a showoff before we headed back home so he (we) could nap and prepare for Easter.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter 2009: Horseshoes and Bunny-eating

Grammy came to Dallas bearing pre-Easter gifts, so after naptime on Friday, we took those gifts to the front yard where Alex and Grammy threw down in a friendly game of horseshoes.



Saturday morning, Grammy unveiled her second pre-Easter gift, one that required a little assembly. She had brought a round white cake and icing so that she and Alex could turn it into an Easter Bunny - one that you can eat. Alex is so obsessed with the Bunny that I wondered how he'd feel about eating one. Turns out, he's fine with it. It was pretty delicious; however, I think he'd eat Murphy if he was covered in icing and jelly beans.



Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter 2009: At the Arboretum

Grammy had Good Friday off so she drove up on Thursday night, leaving Poppa alone with his thoughts and his tax returns. Alex was very excited to see her when he woke up in the morning, and the two of them had some fun laying down some tracks in the playroom.

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We decided to take Alex to the Arboretum that morning to have his picture taken with the Easter Bunny, plus they were having a children's performer put on a kid-friendly concert at the amphitheater at 11:00- a perfect way to spend a gorgeous day with Grammy. So around 10:30am, we loaded up the van with cameras and snacks and diaper bags and headed that way.

I had forgotten how long it took to get there, and after what felt like three months in the car, we finally rounded the corner before the entrance and noticed that the traffic had suddenly come to a standstill. We found ourselves at the rear of a long line of vehicles that, despite the changing traffic lights, were moving at a snail's pace. Surely this wasn't the line to get into the Arboretum?! It's Friday morning, for heaven's sake, why aren't these people at work?! Then it occurred to me that, like Grammy, other people might have Good Friday off. Hey, gimme a break, I don't think about those things anymore. I'm a stay-at-home mom - I have everyday off of work. No, wait...I never get a day off...well, same difference, in this case. Point is, it never occurred to me that the Arboretum might be swamped on a Friday morning.

We decided to pass the folks in the "Valet Only" line because, as appealing as valet parking might be in this situation, Lord knows how long it would take to get the car back when we wanted to leave. Instead, we opted to follow the signs that read "Shuttle from Remote Parking Lot", complete with cute little arrows to direct the way, and discovered that the word "Remote" was a vast understatement. We drove and drove and drove, circling White Rock Lake, following signs and arrows all along the way, and just when we expected to Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind a sign to tell us we had been Punk'd, we spotted the Very Very Far Away Remote Parking Lot.

We parked and stood in line with dozens of others waiting to be loaded onto the bus. Alex was psyched about getting to ride the bus and kept saying "BUS! BUS!! BUS!", although I think he was mostly excited to ride in a vehicle without being strapped into a carseat. I, on the other hand, felt a little uneasy about the situation, like I was being entrapped by DHFS, who would be waiting at our destination to haul Alex off because his irresponsible mother failed to properly restrain him during a bus ride.

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Thankfully, Alex made it in one piece and DHFS was not waiting for us when we got there. First off, we found the bunny - some skinny teenager in a bunny suit with dirt on the knees - and found out that, despite what the website had said, there were no professional bunny pictures being taken. Of course, the bunny was mute because, well, bunnies don't talk, so this information came from his translator/body guard - another skinny teenager who follows him around apparently knows how to speak rabbit. He wasn't the most engaging or energetic Easter Bunny that ever was (what can you expect from a moody teenager getting paid minimum wage to dress up in a goofy costume and entertain whiny children all day), but that didn't phase Alex a bit. We forced Alex on him and got a few less-than-professional pictures, including one of Alex pointing out a noisy bird. Look Bunny, there's a bird! Do you see it, Bunny? DO YOU??!!

We dragged A away from the bunny, literally, and went to the amphitheater to catch the end of the concert. There were hundreds of parents and kids there, and A made a beeline for the stage as soon as he realized where the music was coming from. We tried to get him to stand back on the concrete benches and dance, but he refused to stand so far back when all the action was going on in the front row. Turns out even the front row wasn't close enough to the action, so he ended up onstage, where the singer called him out as Grammy chased him down.

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After the concert, we had a great lunch at the Arboretum's Terrace Restaurant, a little outdoor cafe that overlooks the lake. Sooo good - I had the best panini I've ever tasted, and apparently Alex thought so too since he completely neglected his PB&J and stole bites of my lunch instead. It was a delicious way to end a lovely day at the Arboretum, and it sort of made up for the fact that we didn't get any good pics with the bunny. Besides, we had alternative plans for officially documenting Easter this year, so we weren't too worried about it anyway. More on those plans in the next post...


Easter 2009: Eggs, etc.

I recently subscribed to Family Fun Magazine and got totally inspired to do some Easter crafts with A, despite the fact that A is about 3 years too young to really participate. But I can always count on him to provide moral support, if nothing else.

We started out dying eggs, which I knew would be a complete disaster if I actually let Alex "get his hands dirty". And I'm totally not the type who's afraid of making a mess with an art project, but here's the thing...Alex + eggs + bowls of food coloring = flying eggshell fragments, crushed and useless piles of whites and yolks on the floor and table, a semi-permanently tie-dyed toddler, and a Yorkie with egg farts. Not exactly the experience that would leave us with pleasant memories of creating holiday tradition.

"Patient" is not a world I would use to describe Alex, so expecting him to sit still and wait calmly while I dip round objects into vats of colored liquid, while I ooh and aah over the results after taking the colored balls out, then refuse to let him touch anything would be cruel and unusual punishment. So after I had dyed a few eggs, I let him have a couple to color on with crayons while I dyed the rest. He promptly took the two eggs in hand, smashed them together, and grinned with satisfaction over the crunching sound they made as bits of eggshell rained down on his head.

He then proceeded to bite one of the eggs, gagged on the shell, and threw up all over himself.

Despite that little setback, my eggs turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I used a combination of white store-bought eggs and some beautiful brown eggs Bill's chickens had laid and dyed them with Neon food coloring that I found at the grocery store. I experimented with the dye a bit, and what resulted was really intense jewel colors that make the eggs look more like precious stones than Easter eggs. I LOVE how they look, and I HATE that I can't keep them forever.

At least I have pictures, although it is so hard to capture the real vibrancy of the colors on film, especially with the bad lighting in my kitchen. But you'll get the idea, I think. And I'm sure some of you are thinking, She had to read a magazine to find out that dying eggs with your kid might be a good Easter activity? But the real "crafty" part of this project was not the dying, rather, the idea to turn the eggs into cute little chickens by gluing on eyes, a beak, and a little tuft of hair, placing them in the cups cut from an egg carton, and suspending them from a tree or light fixture. I made some modifications from the original instructions in the magazine due to time constraints and logistical issues, so my eggs ended up hairless and nested inside of soup bowls as part of my table setting, which I think was just as good.

The second project we did was to create handprint lilies by tracing around Alex's hand on a piece of paper, cutting leaves and stamens out of card stock, and attaching them to a green dowel rod. The extent of Alex's participation in this project was sitting still long enough for me to trace his hand, which, if you know Alex, requires considerable effort on his part.

After doing his part, he busied himself with some Easter-inspired coloring pages while I finished the lilies.

I think the lilies turned out super cute, and they served as the centerpiece on our Easter table before we distributed them to the Grandmas and Aunties as Easter gifts.

So that was about the extent of our pre-Easter activities this year. I'm hoping that, by next year, Alex will be ready to do some projects from start to finish, or at least, that he can help dye eggs without making himself puke. That would be a good start.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Monumental Task

Ughh, it takes me long enough to blog and post pictures on a normal day, let alone after a busy holiday weekend with family, not to mention the fact that I am already behind on Alex's 21 month post. Let's put it this way - I have over five hundred pictures to sort through, upload, and blog about from Easter weekend alone, so I have no choice but to do it in stages, which means I should get around to blogging about Easter day by the time Christmas rolls around.

That said, I'm working on the first post now and hope to have it done in a little while. Hang in there, folks...

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Boy and A Birthday and A Bunny

All week, Alex was looking forward to a big second birthday party for one of his classmates, so he was pretty psyched when Saturday finally rolled around. The theme was an Easter egg hunt, so A brought his manly football-shaped Easter basket, his eagle eyes, and extra elbows, in case he needed to throw a few.

As it turns out, there were plenty of eggs to be had, and the kids politely gathered their loot and placed it into their baskets, only stopping long enough to stuff their mouths full of chocolate from the candy-filled eggs. Alex, however, wanted nothing to do with his basket, preferring to haul the eggs around himself, as if carrying them in a little basket would be the sissified way to go about it. And once his hands were too full of eggs to pick up any more - I think he maxed out at five - he dumped the ones he had on the ground and went to find five "fresh" ones to carry around. Eventually he stopped dumping them on the ground and started dumping them into other kids' baskets. Yeah, he was kind of missing the point.

When he finally discovered that one of his eggs had candy in it, he got so excited that he tried to eat the candy without peeling off the foil. After giving the candy a baffled, "what the...?" look, he handed it over to me, knowing mom would know the proper way to handle a piece of chocolate.

Seeing as it was an Easter egg hunt, it only made sense that the Easter Bunny would make an appearance. That's one of those things that could either be a huge hit or a miserable failure considering that some kids totally freak out at the sight of giant, humanlike creatures in weird, fuzzy, animal costumes with big, bobbly-heads that sing and dance and walk around on two feet, and those kids usually end up running away screaming or paralyzed by fear or maybe soaked in their own urine...Yeah, my kid is the complete opposite of those kids.

Oooh boy, that poor bunny didn't know what she was getting herself into. Let's just say that if there is a law against stalking the Easter Bunny, then my child is totally going to end up in juvi. He followed that bunny around the entire time we were there, and every time he found an egg or a candy wrapper or a piece of mulch from the flower bed, he made a beeline for the bunny to show her that he, Alex Evans, had found a piece of mulch. Do you see this mulch, Bunny? Do you? Do you see it?? And when he was satisfied with her answer and convinced that she had indeed seen the mulch, he would run off to find something even more spectacular to show her. At one point, he found two pieces of sidewalk chalk and ran all the way across the yard to where the Bunny was entertaining some other kids, where he proceeded to create a masterpiece on the ground at the Bunny's feet. Look here, Bunny! I'm drawing you a picture! Do you see the picture, Bunny? Do you see it?? DO YOU??!!

I think Alex just innately knew that, out of everyone at the party, the Easter Bunny was the one to impress. I mean, Easter is only a week away, what smart kid wouldn't try to impress the ears off the Easter Bunny a week before Easter, if given the opportunity? I have a feeling my kid would trade his dignity for a Cadbury Egg. Timothy even had the theory that Alex's "masterpiece" was actually a detailed map to our house, just in case the Easter Bunny's ride wasn't equipped with a GPS.

When he wasn't showing the Easter Bunny the various things he had found in the yard or demonstrating his various skills and talents, he was placing himself in other people's family pictures - with the Easter Bunny. All of the families were taking turns having their photo made with the Bunny, and every time a family gathered around her, Alex would sneak up and make himself at home among the complete strangers, like, "What are you looking at? I'm totally related to these people!" You probably think I'm joking, but literally, every family picture that was taken with the Easter Bunny will feature some part of Alex, whether it's his arm, the top of his head, or maybe his adorable face covered in chocolate. I guarantee those families will look at those pictures later and wonder who the little blond-headed kid is.

So the party was a huge success with one exception - the birthday girl was m.i.a. Poor Mary Lawrence got sick about thirty minutes before the party started, and her poor mom, who had planned this fabulous party with delicious food and eggs and decorations and the Easter Bunny, was left with no choice but to have the party without her. She did come outside long enough for us to sing "Happy Birthday", after which she went right back inside for some r&r while the rest of us stayed outside and ate her birthday cake. Bless her heart.

Once we got into the car to head home, we took inventory of Alex's basket and discovered that he had scored two-and-a-half eggs, two pieces of chocolate, one candy wrapper, a watch, and the straw from a juice box. Yeah, he totally cleaned up. We had a fun time, it was a great party, and a total bummer that the birthday girl wasn't able to enjoy the festivities.

It was especially exciting to us because it was Alex's very first Easter egg hunt, and so far, it's the only one he'll go to this year. We do plan on going to the Arboretum this Saturday to participate in their Easter celebration, including getting a picture of A taken with the Easter Bunny. And I'll tell you what, if Alex decides to start being afraid of the Easter Bunny after I've handed my fifteen bucks over to the professional photographer, the ol' Bunny and I will have to have a little talk about where to leave all of the Cadbury eggs - in Mommy's basket, of course.



p.s. I had to post pics in slideshow form because I hate Blogger, and apparently Blogger hates me because I continuously have trouble uploading and manipulating pics using Blogger's uploader. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

cock-a-doodle-doo

I woke up at 6 this morning to the sound of my son crowing like a rooster. Whose brilliant idea was it to teach that kid animal noises, anyway?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

After the rain

We had a ton of rain last week, which, as I've mentioned, transforms our grassless backyard into a sticky, soupy mess of muddy nastiness. Since then, however, we've also had some sunshine that has dried up enough of the mud that we were able to go out and play on Monday without fear of getting stuck in the mire. In fact, the heavy rains encouraged more of our stubborn grass to grow, which means there is finally more grass in our yard than not. Of course, Alex managed to find all of the mushiest spots and trudged through them with his clean shoes, which now need to be power-washed. It seems that all the trudging made him thirsty because he stopped trudging long enough to take a sip of the rain water that had collected in his sand pail, water flavored with rocks and dirt and leaves. Well, not so much a sip since he just stuck his fingers in and then licked them. Luckily, he hasn't shown any symptoms of cholera or dengue fever, so I think we're in the clear.

Most ventures into the backyard must immediately be followed by a stripdown and a bath, regardless of the time of day. Murph had joined us in the backyard, and I made the mistake of telling Alex that Murphy needed a bath, too. The consequence of that faux pas was that Alex sat in the bath hollering, "Mur!!! Muuuurrrr!!!" until I dragged Murphy into the bathroom and threw him in the tub. So Alex got two baths, one with Murphy and one to clean him up after his bath with Murphy.