Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

The end of the year flew by.  My "under the weather" pun costume for Halloween turned out to be a bad omen, as I dealt with medical problems for a good chunk of time after that.   Nasty kidney stone, critically-low potassium, a cold, and then the flu.  I had been given tickets for a Red Wings game, but I was too sick to go.  At least my husband and his friend made sure the tickets didn't go to waste, and my husband was kind enough to bring me home some of my favorite pizza.

I didn't get to do nearly as much as I wanted for Christmas.  I did manage to get out all of my Christmas cards.  One Vicodin and five hours allowed me to crank out over 80 cards.  I knew I had to take advantage of having a stretch of time when I was feeling good.  I don't feel obligated to send out cards, but it's one of my favorite traditions.  I enjoy doing it and would be very disappointed if I were unable to do that.

I also managed to get special cards and gifts for my immediate family.  The one thing I really wanted to do this year was get gifts for everyone at work.  This was the year I was going to hit the kitchen and hopefully get a little crafty.  Unfortunately, all of my issues with illness made it impossible.  I swear, this year every single co-worker and boss got me something.  On a few occasions, I made a remark about how I felt bad and how embarrassed I was that I didn't have anything to give.  Everyone was kind and said something sweet to make me feel better.  I appreciated it, but I sure hope I can pull something together for everyone next year.

My son turned two last month.  He is still too young to really get into the gift opening portion of Christmas, but that was actually kind of charming.  I expect that next year he will be ready to shred wrapping paper as soon as he gets to the tree.

It was a sweet and quiet Christmas.  My flu had improved greatly by the holiday, and I actually felt good all day.  I hope I'll keep feeling good for 2015!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ten Memories of Buddy

I started dating Ernie in December 2004. In February 2005, he called and told me that he got a chocolate lab puppy and named him Buddy. I moved in with Ernie a couple months later, and Buddy became my puppy too. We celebrated all of his birthdays together, 1 through 9. 

If Buddy were still with us, we would be celebrating his 10th birthday today.  It is amazing how many things remind me of him on a daily basis. I still think of him several times a day, sometimes to the point of tears. He was unforgettable.

In honor of his 10th birthday, I decided to reminisce and write down ten of my favorite Buddy memories.  He was such a character that it was hard to narrow down the list to just ten.

1. Mirror, Mirror

There is a small mirror on the headboard of our bed.  Buddy was playing on our bed one day when he suddenly turned to the mirror and saw his reflection for the first time.  He seemed completely captivated by the handsome dog staring back at him.  It was as if the world had stopped for a moment.

2. Runaway Dog

Ernie and Buddy were in the driveway seeing me off to work one morning.  As I drove down our road, I glanced in the rear view mirror and was shocked to see Buddy bounding down the road behind my car and Ernie way back in the distance, waving his arms frantically while running and yelling. 

3. Sticky Paws

I had a feeling that Buddy kept jumping up on the counter to, as we call it, "counter cruise" for food or whatever else he could get into.  I set up my digital camera to start recording video, placed it on the counter, and went outside.  I came back in a couple minutes later and watched the video, which confirmed that Buddy was counter cruising.  Hoping to bust him, I laid long strips of tape, sticky side up, along the edges of the kitchen counters.  I went outside for a couple minutes and came back in to discover Buddy sheepishly walking around with lots of tape stuck to his front feet.  That did help to deter him, but it didn't stop him completely (see #4...and #5).

4. Muffin Tops

I baked some corn muffins to go with dinner and had them cooling in the pan on top of the stove.  Chewie wanted to go outside, so I pushed the muffin pan all the way to the back of the stove.  I figured they would be safe from any counter cruising that way.  When Chewie and I returned, I was pleased to see the muffins were still there.  Upon further inspection though, I discovered that the tops of all of the muffins had been nibbled off.

5. Country Crock

Ernie's family was staying with us, so we bought a 3 pound tub of Country Crock to ensure we'd have plenty.  While his family was having toast one morning, Buddy took advantage of them not being familiar  with his sneaky ways and managed to get the tub off the counter.  By the time he was discovered, half of the tub had been eaten, and his whiskers were slick with the spread.  

6. Furniture Tipping

I was standing in the kitchen with my back to the living room when I suddenly heard a disturbingly loud thump.  I turned around and was shocked to see Buddy on top of a now tipped over loveseat.   He seemed pretty shocked too.  He had jumped the loveseat several times in the past with no problem, but he obviously didn't clear it this time.

7. Bread Thief

I made myself a sandwich one afternoon and decided to eat in the living room.  I sat down in the loveseat with my plate and my drink.  I twisted to the side to set my drink down on the end table and turned back around to see Buddy standing next to me, a corner of the top piece of bread in his mouth.  He was slowly pulling it towards himself when our eyes suddenly locked.  He stood frozen for a moment, like he didn't know what to do.  He then chose to suck the piece of bread into his mouth like a vacuum cleaner, chew it furiously, and run away.

8. Pizza Pickup

Ernie and I ordered a pizza, and I offered to pick it up.  I brought Buddy along, since he always loved a car ride.  When we got to the pizza place, I reminded him that he was supposed to stay in the backseat. He sat obediently as I walked across the parking lot.  As soon as I entered the pizza place, I turned around to look out the window and saw Buddy instantly hop into the front seat.  I was then informed that my pizza wasn't ready because they had burned it and were making a new one, so it would be a few minutes.  I sat to wait, watching Buddy out the window the entire time.  He was gloriously going back and forth from back seat to front seat, over and over, constant motion.  Once I got the pizza and stepped out of the building, Buddy saw me and dove into the backseat, where he sat as obediently as I'd had left him.  Even if he had been slick enough for me to not see him, the brown fur all over my seat and the drool on my steering wheel was a dead giveaway.

9. Camp Fire

Things that used to have no effect on Buddy started to bother him as he got older.  He developed a fear of smoke later in his life.  While camping, we were sitting around a fire with a group of friends while Ernie held onto Buddy's leash.  Everything was fine until the fire started getting really smoky.  Panicked, Buddy took off for the camper door, which was behind Ernie.  Still holding onto the leash, Ernie went flying backwards out of his camp chair.

10. Rock Star

I was outside with Buddy, and it was time to go back in.  I called him several times, but he was intently exploring and was ignoring me.  To get his attention, I picked up a pretty good sized rock and threw it so it would land near him.  The rock thumping on the ground caused Buddy to look up, so I called him again and turned around to head for the door.  I waited on the porch for Buddy, who was running towards me.  When he got to the porch, the huge rock fell out of his mouth, and he eagerly waited for me to throw it again.

I put this list together this morning with the idea that I'd finish it up this evening.  During dinner, I told Ernie that I'd put together a list of 10 Buddy memories and asked him to guess them.  The first one he guessed was on the list, but then he said about five or six that hadn't made the cut.  We were laughing so hard and continued remembering many Buddy moments.  I think this list could have easily been three times as long, but I'm sticking with these ten.

Happy Birthday, Buddy.  I miss you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My First Packer Game

I don't have one of those oh-so-popular bucket lists, but if I did, I know one item that would definitely be on it: go to a Green Bay Packer game.  Seeing a game at Lambeau Field would obviously be the best, but I'd be happy with getting to see them anywhere.

Last week, one of my friends said that she and her husband would be unable to use their Lions season tickets for Sunday.  Their opponent?  The Green Bay Packers!  She said they were hoping to pass the tickets on to someone who could use them.  I texted my husband to ask if he'd like to go.  He told me to take the tickets but to ask my dad (also a lifelong fan) if he'd like to go.

I really thought my dad would say no.  My parents live three hours away and have made countless trips back and forth since Matthew has been born.  Matthew recently started daycare full-time, which will reduce their number of trips here.  They had actually just come to visit the previous weekend, so  I expected my dad to be all sensible and reasonable and say that he really shouldn't make the drive again.  Our conversation went something like this when I called him:

Me: "Do you want to see the Packers play the Lions in Detroit on Sunday?"

Dad: "Huh??"

Me: "I got offered two free tickets to the Lions game on Sunday, and they are playing the Packers.  Want to go with me?"

Dad:  "Um, yeah!!!!!!!"

Cue major excitement!  It was crazy that such a huge event was going to be happening in less than a week.  I'm used to having at least several months of waiting for an event once I get tickets.  I've already held concert tickets for over a year before a show (due to a postponement).  To be able to get tickets on a Tuesday for a game on a Sunday was crazy.

The game was incredible.  Well, actually, the game was a bit disappointing, since the Packers lost.  I think a more accurate statement was that the entire adventure was incredible.  Being surrounded by fun and crazy fans, even for an opposing team, is an absolute thrill.  Wearing our Packers gear made us easy targets for teasing, but that was part of the experience, and we rolled with it and had fun.  We will also never forget the two extremely vocal Lions fans who sat behind us.  Thanks to them, we have a lot of new phrases to use as inside jokes!

If I could change the outcome of the game, I'd have the Packers win.  However, there was something really great about being surrounded by ecstatic Lions fans and seeing their excitement over the home team's win.  I was even amused by the exuberance of the girl who ran up to me and knocked my cheesehead off. 

I will always remember this day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our Big Road Trip

Last weekend I was able to do one of my favorite things: drive back to my hometown and stay with my sister. The last time I was able to do that was almost 2 years ago, when I was pregnant with Matthew.   Matthew was once again with me, but of course he is a toddler now.  I was slightly nervous about the two of us making such a huge trip.

Our drive there on Thursday went super smooth, and he napped for a nice chunk of it.  After crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we stopped in St. Ignace to fill up the car and grab some lunch.  I specifically chose where to eat based on the view.

Once we arrived at my sister's, Matthew was immediately smitten with her dog and cats.  Matthew had never spent time with cats before, but it was clear that it was love at first sight.  I'm also pretty sure that my sister's dog, Rusty, gained about 10 pounds that weekend.  He and Matthew were pretty much BFFs, especially when Matthew had food.  "Rusty" is Matthew's new favorite word.

The three of us enjoyed some time together.  We ate pizza, visited my sister's co-workers on their lunch break so they could meet Matthew, ate some more pizza, and basically just enjoyed being together and playing with Matthew.  Our parents joined the fun on Friday, along with their dog.  My sister was also dog-sitting for her friend, so we had a really full house.  It's very clear that Matthew is an animal lover!  I am getting such a twinge to adopt a second dog.  I know that wouldn't be a wise move right now though.

Saturday took us to Green Bay for a family reunion for my dad's side of the family.  It was Matthew's first time meeting just about everybody.  He was a little shy at first but definitely warmed up.  The reunion was at my cousin's house, and she has a beautiful home and yard.  Matthew had a blast, and it was great to have fun with everyone.

We were able to spend time with some relatives from my mom's side of the family.  One of my aunts had us over to our house and cooked dinner.  She had a couple desserts, and we opted to give Matthew the least messy choice: angel food cake with Cool Whip.  He loved it!  My aunt commented when I was a kid, I just called it Cool and would eat it with my hand.  I'm not surprised.  Matthew also got awfully close to my aunt's TV, but it was to watch the Packers, so I allowed it.

We were able to visit my grandma (my dad's mom) at her apartment afterwards.  Matthew got ahead of me and ran down the hall and was rattling every single door handle he could reach before I caught up to him.  Thankfully, they were all locked.

Then it was back to my sister's house for one last night.  She graciously let Matthew and I have her bedroom so we could close the door at night to keep the kitties from jumping into Matthew's pack 'n play and accidentally causing chaos.  Her bed was crazy comfortable, and I slept great every night, except for the last one.  The last night is always hard.  I hate falling asleep because I know that when I wake up, it's time to hit the road.  Being realistic with vacation days I have left for the year, I'm certain I won't make it back until sometime next year.  It's always so hard to leave.

The drive home went almost as nicely as the drive there, so I really can't complain.  My parents decided to take the long way home so they could drive through Michigan, so we left at the same time and traveled together for most of the trip.  Mom rode in the backseat of my car to spend time with Matthew.  He loved having her there.

By the time we got home, our trip odometer showed that we had logged 1,063 miles.  I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eventful Weekend

This past weekend gave us a few fun Matthew milestones:

  • Matthew's first camping trip
  • Matthew's longest road trip so far
  • Matthew's first night away from home

Matthew did awesome with all three!  We unfortunately experienced a lot of problems with our fifth wheel (a leaking toilet, a blown out tire on the freeway, and a hole in the roof, to name a few).  We also found out before we hit the road that my credit card number had been stolen.  How lovely!  Fortunately, our credit card company was suspicious of the card activity and contacted us.  The charges were at a local store that I shop at regularly, so I was really impressed that they were able to detect the fraudulent activity so fast.  

It was kind of funny because on our way up, Ernie had stopped to change a blown out tire on a horse trailer for two ladies.  We had left feeling happy we could help and also thinking that maybe that would give us good karma for the weekend.  Apparently not!

After Ernie finished changing our blown out tire, we continued on the freeway in silence for a little while.  I could tell that he was also exhausted and in disbelief over how much stuff had gone wrong for us.  I finally broke the silence by saying, "You know, someday we are going to look back at this weekend and laugh."

Ernie said nothing.

"I mean, that day is really far off, but we are going to laugh so hard someday."

"Well, at least we're all okay," Ernie said.  "That's what's important."


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Road Trip

My dad's side of the family is having a reunion later this summer, so Matthew and I will be taking our first road trip together to go back to my hometown.  Aside from two of my cousins spending about 15 minutes with him, nobody on that side of my family has met Matthew.  There seems to be a lot of excitement about him coming, and I'm looking forward to having an adventure with him.

When I make the trip by myself, I can make the drive in less than 9 hours.  I make one pit stop to get gas, use the restroom, and grab a snack.  My drives back home have always been about (safely) making the best time possible.

I have no idea how the drive will be with a toddler in tow, but I know it's going to be different.  The drive will take longer.  There will be more stops. Matthew will need diaper changes, drinks, snacks, and time to stretch his legs and burn off some energy.   There are always such pretty and fun places that I blow past when driving home.  I sometimes, think about stopping, relaxing, taking some pictures.  Ultimately though, my desire to make good time wins, and I just keep driving.

I'm looking forward to having an excuse to enjoy the journey a little more.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"I Want To Go Home!"

Last month, I received a recall notice in the mail for my car.  It sounded minor, so I wasn't overly concerned about taking care of it.  I called the dealership and arranged to drop off my car Friday morning before work. They would then give me a shuttle ride to work and pick me up once my car was ready.

After dealing with the service department, I was told to sit in the waiting area, and a shuttle driver would be there to get me shortly.  A few minutes later, one of my co-workers called my cell phone.  The girls at work knew I'd been planning to hit the dealership and then grab a shuttle to the office, but she wanted to make sure I was fine and didn't need a ride.  I thanked her but declined, since the shuttle driver would be there soon.

Pretty soon, a gentleman approached the waiting area and asked, "Did somebody need a shuttle?"  I said yes and stood up, informing him that I needed to get to work.  I thought we were going to leave right then, but an elderly man who was also sitting in the waiting area suddenly announced, "I want to go home!"

The shuttle driver asked him if his vehicle was in for a repair or oil change.  He replied that he his was in for the recall.  The driver explained that the gentleman would need to speak with his service adviser to determine how long the repair would be, as a shuttle might not be necessary.

An elderly woman who had been sitting with us chimed in, "I want to go home too!  Will you come back to my home and pick me up then?"

The shuttle driver, seeming a little flustered, politely responded, "Well, that is my job."  He once again explained how shuttle service had to be coordinated with a customer's service adviser.  "Okay, let's check!"  She got up from her seat, and we walked into the service area.

While the two people spoke with their respective service advisers, a customer next to them declared, "I want to go home too!"  A service adviser stated that he had a customer who needed a shuttle home, and then another person chimed in with (you guessed it), "I want to go home!"

I've utilized the shuttle service for this dealership several times, and I have never had this happen.  I was a bit frustrated because I was needing to get to work and getting held up by all of these people who just wanted to go home.  It was pretty funny though, having all of these people announce one after the other that they wanted to go home.  This seemed like such a novel idea to all of them.  I don't think most of them were aware that shuttle service was an option at the dealership.

With such a group forming, a second shuttle driver was summoned.  I ended up in the shuttle with the two elderly people who had been in the waiting area with me.  My destination was the closest to the dealership, so mine was the first stop.

I feel like I should send a letter of apology to the dealership for causing the daily fuel cost for their shuttle service to skyrocket.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Books and Puzzles

My mom is constantly on the prowl for goodies for Matthew.  She and my dad recently made an awesome score at a garage sale.  They found several great books and puzzles.

I've been keeping track of Matthew's book collection with an account at Goodreads.  After adding this latest haul, his total number of books owned is at 179.  Several of those books were ones that my sister and I enjoyed when we were kids.  I'm glad our parents kept them all these years!

The puzzles have been providing endless amounts of fun.  My favorite is the one with the pets.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wish List: Being Selfish

Ernie and I lived together for several years before we got married.  We both pitched in financially but kept our money separate.  He had bills he paid every month, I had bills I paid every month.  Whatever money was left from each of our paychecks was our own respective business.

I really didn't buy anything too extravagant, but I did enjoy my disposable income.    I spent many Tuesday lunch hours driving out to Best Buy to load up on new release CDs.  I'd eagerly peel the packaging off in my car and pop in a disc to begin listening while I cruised back to work.  Every Saturday, I went to Barnes & Noble to load up on music magazines.  I browsed other magazines and books too and usually found more things to purchase.  On my way home, I'd often stop for a strawberry pop.  I loved going to the mall on Sundays.  Sometimes I just window shopped, other times I left with things like a lipstick, a skirt, or some fancy cupcakes to share with Ernie.

Once visions of having a child entered our heads, and we got engaged, my selfish lifestyle came to a screeching halt.  I realized that my $15 here, $40 there of fun added up, and our money was going to be needed for more important things.

Last year, I only bought one CD.  I also received one as a gift, so that doubled my haul.  When I do leave Barnes & Noble with a bag, it's usually filled with books for Matthew.  I swear my heart rate increases when I enter the children's book section, I could easily sift through books for an hour.  It's a magical place.

My priorities have changed, but I did enjoy my selfish single girl time.  I think if I could have a day to flashback to those carefree times, I would treat myself to:

Jack and Conor are two of my absolute favorites.  My CD rack is filled with material of theirs.  Well, my rack was before I packed my CDs up into empty diaper boxes to stow away in the basement to make more room in the house.  Back in the day, I would have been at the store the day these discs came out.  Now, I'm just patiently waiting until I can get my hands on them to load onto my iPod.  You'd think I'd just embrace digital releases by now, but I still love getting CDs.

3.  I love drinking out of mugs.  For some reason, it seems more leisurely.  I feel funny drinking anything but coffee or hot chocolate in a typical mug though.  I think this Tervis mug would be great for any kind of beverage.

4.  Last winter, I often borrowed (or, if you ask him, stole) Ernie's big, puffy slippers.  I want my own pair for next winter.  Until then, I'd love a lighter pair of some cute slippers for lounging at home.

5.  Summer is beautiful, but I don't handle heat well.  This time of year, I'm often pulling my hair back to help me keep cool.  I tend to be pretty sloppy with my hairstyle when I'm not at work because I'm usually too hot to be bothered.    This headband would be so fun for at home and running errands.

I love reading short stories.  My favorite time to read books is in bed before falling asleep.  Usually, I shouldn't be staying up too late, so to be able to complete a story start to finish in a small time frame is really satisfying.  It's also nice for those sad occasions where I put down a book and don't pick it up again for a few weeks and then need to be refreshed on what the heck is happening.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Brake Job

I had an oil change recently and was told that my brake pads and rotors were pretty worn and should be replaced.  Tears in my eyes (as there are any time large sums of money are requested), I texted Ernie with the info and the amount of the estimate.  He simply replied, "Nope."  Yes, I did need those things replaced, but Ernie was able to buy the parts and do it himself, so it didn't cost as much.  Free labor!  I love having a mechanically-inclined husband.  Matthew supervised the work.

A moth landed on one of my tires which, from the right angle and distance, made it look like I had a major issue with my tire.  I freaked out for a split second.

Last weekend, we got a few goodies from my cousin that her son had outgrown.  One of them was an awesome wagon.  Matthew and I had to take a couple of trips around the neighborhood.  He had a blast!  

Ernie took Chewie for a couple little trips too.  She loves riding in the truck.

On Sunday morning, I finally got to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  I had bought pork sausage earlier in the month with the intention of cooking this favorite of Ernie's for Father's Day, and then I got sick.  I guess it's not fair to say that I made biscuits and gravy; I made the gravy, and I threw frozen biscuits in the oven.  We can't all be Martha Stewart.  I made barbecue beef patties and mashed potatoes for dinner, but Matthew pretty much just ate a little bit of the potatoes and then scarfed a bunch of watermelon.  He's so appreciative of my cooking.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend Recap

What a weekend!  I'm an admitted homebody; I love being home. We spent a lot of time elsewhere though, and it was great.

Saturday started out bright and early with Mom helping me work our first Mom 2 Mom sale to get some of Matthew's old stuff out of the house and make us a few bucks.  How does one child accumulate so much stuff?

The sale was a lot of fun, and all we ended up not selling was some clothing and a baby monitor.  We sold lots of clothing and bigger items like activity gyms, bathtubs, a swing, and a high chair.  It made us a little sad to see some of the stuff go, but there is really no sense in keeping it.  The atmosphere at the sale was wonderful though, and it made me really happy to see other people so excited about their purchases.  Feeling some sadness about seeing an adorable little jacket of his get sold is eased by seeing the excitement of the person buying the jacket for their little one.

I was exhausted after the sale.  My poor mom had to drive home to Ohio right after, but I was fortunate enough to be able to go home and crash on the couch.  Ernie kindly let me sleep but finally woke me up to get going to a graduation party.  My co-worker's daughter graduated high school and was having a big party at her house.  A lot of my co-workers were there, and we had a really good time.  Her house and yard are beautiful.  Matthew loved running around the huge yard.  He also enjoyed the food.  He basically had a little bit of meat sauce, a bread stick, Goldfish, and cookies for dinner.  So healthy.

Matthew fell asleep on the way home, and then he of course got his second wind once we got home.  After playing for a little while, he was ready for bed.  Ernie and I watched some Breaking Bad on Netflix before we went to bed ourselves.

On Sunday, I got grocery shopping out of the way, and then we hit the road to go to my cousin's house.  She lives about an hour and a half away and had kindly offered us a free tricycle, wagon, and basketball hoop that her son had long outgrown.  Matthew has none of these things, and we have particularly been wanting a wagon, so we were obviously pretty excited.  Another one of my cousins (they are sisters) was visiting from Green Bay with her husband and sons, so we got some bonus relative visiting.  They had also never met Matthew before, so it was nice for them to see him.

As we left, Ernie called his cousin who didn't live too far away to see if she'd be up for having us pop in for a visit.  She agreed but admonished us upon arrival for not giving her more notice about our visit.  She was not mad that we'd shown up with little notice but said if she'd known we were coming, she'd have cooked us dinner and got Matthew presents from Toys R Us.   She still managed to be quite the hostess.  After we had called her, she quickly called to order pizza and salad.  She also had some strawberries and mini eclairs and presented Matthew with a brand new Batman t-shirt.  I was highly impressed!  None of that was necessary, but it was flattering and appreciated that she fussed over us.

Matthew and I snoozed on the way home, although I'm pretty sure I slept longer than he did.  I used to never be a napper, but since having a kid, I sure do love naps now.  Ernie mowed the lawn when we got home and then rode into town with Chewie to get some gas in the truck and pick up some Chinese for dinner.

Now, it's Monday morning.  Where did the weekend go??

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Toy Story

I've been sick since last Thursday, which has obviously been a bummer.  I used to rarely get sick, but now that I have a toddler, it's hard to avoid the germs.  Yes, I'm blaming the kid.  I've been told that's what they are for.

Managing to go to work (aside from wimping out and taking one half day last week) has been about all I've been able to do.  Ernie has been doing most of the parenting duties, and I've been alternating between sleeping and watching shows on Netflix.  I'm currently working my way through Breaking Bad, my show of choice after finally finishing Dexter recently.  Not having cable really makes me behind on popular culture.   I started watching Dexter back in December and was so excited about how awesome it was but kept it to myself to avoid becoming the butt of jokes.  "When you're done watching Dexter, want to put on powdered wigs and listen to records on my phonograph?"

I'm starting to bounce back though.  I still have a slight cough, but it no longer makes people get wide-eyed and instruct to me to stay away from them.  That's a definite improvement.  I'm having more energy to get stuff done at home too.

My favorite daily chore happens after Matthew goes to bed.  I've pretty much turned our living room into a playroom, and I take great enjoyment in tidying up Matthew's toys at the end of the day.  I have a spot for everything.  Certain toys go in certain containers.  Any item missing, even a small puzzle piece, is hunted down with determination that can be borderline crazy to anyone present. But it makes me happy to bring him downstairs each morning to a nicely arranged play area with everything in its place and waiting for him.  I know it will be destroyed in 10 seconds, but those first 9 seconds of him wandering around and deciding where to begin makes me happy.

This task was kicked to the curb while I was sick.  I laid on the couch and looked at the tornado of toys scattered throughout the room (and spilling into adjacent rooms), but I just didn't have it in me to pick up.  It made me feel bad that when he woke up in the morning he didn't have a nicely arranged area to dive into.  Ernie regularly points out that Matthew probably doesn't even care.

I'm willing to bet that Ernie is right.  I care though.  It makes me happy to spend a little time each night getting ready for our next day of fun.

I'm disappointed this morning because there are two items that are missing.  One of them is a book, of all things.  How does a book go missing?  We're also missing a guy from the farm.  I've been scouring the house with no luck.  I feel incomplete.  Matthew, of course, is fine.  I'm clearly the only one troubled by this.  It's just so vexing!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bully at the Mall

Back before I even got pregnant, I would always feel a fluttery happiness when I'd see the kids in the play area at the mall.  I hoped I would be there with my kid someday, watching him or her laugh and play and have a good time.  I've been eager to take Matthew there for awhile.  I had to run to the mall to pick out some greeting cards, so I thought it would be the perfect time to bring Matthew with and hit the play area.

After Matthew patiently tolerated how long I took to dig through the cards at Hallmark (I could easily blow an hour there), we made our way to the play area.  I left the stroller by the entrance and took off our shoes.  The play area was really crowded, and Matthew seemed hesitant.  He was barely entering the play area and looked nervous.  After a little encouragement, he cautiously began exploring.  He didn't like it if we were too far apart, so I pretty much hovered over him and probably looked like a really obnoxious helicopter parent.

After about 10 minutes, Matthew seemed more relaxed and started to enjoy himself.  He especially liked the slide.  The first several times, he couldn't make it up the steps by himself.  The more he went down the slide though, the more hyper and excited he got.  Pretty soon, he was having a blast and climbing the steps with little to no assistance.   He was laughing, and I was able to back off a little.

Matthew had been taking turns with several other kids playing with the slide, but we soon found ourselves with the slide all to ourselves.  Matthew would climb the steps, go down the slide, and run back to the steps, laughing and clapping.

Soon, another kid ran over to the slide.  He looked like he was about 7 years old and beyond the maximum height that was allowed for kids in the play area.  He also had sneakers on, which was a no-no.  

I wouldn't have minded his presence, but he went to the top of the slide where Matthew was sitting.  The kid angrily yelled, "GO!" and shoved Matthew really hard down the slide.  Before I even had time to react, I was at least able to see that Matthew was okay.  He went down the slide normally and wasn't crying, but he did look really surprised.  

"Do not EVER touch him or yell at him AGAIN."  I didn't yell, but it was obvious I was livid.  The kid looked at me like I was a complete moron.  A woman walked over, who I assumed was the kid's mom.  I figured she would apologize and scold her kid.

There was no apology, but she did firmly tell her kid to be careful.  I appreciated that.  Then, in a very sarcastic tone, she said, "The babies are special," before walking away.  She didn't say a word to me. 

A little girl had climbed up the the slide and was about to go down.  The boy once again yelled, "GO!" and pushed her down the slide.  We'd been in the play area for over half an hour, so I decided it was time for us to just go.  Fuming, I picked up Matthew, and we left the play area to put on our shoes.

While I was strapping Matthew into his stroller, tears filled my eyes.  When I was in 1st grade, I was playing outside at recess on the big play structure known as the deck.  There were poles that you could slide down to get off the deck.  I reached out for a pole one day to go down but apparently wasn't fast enough.  A boy came up behind me, yelled, "GO!", and pushed me off the deck.  I fell down to the ground.  My recently skinned knees that were almost healed were ripped back open.   

Nobody saw it happen.  I got up, quietly crying, and walked into the school to go to the office to find someone to help clean up my knees.  My teacher was called to the office, and when it was just the two of us, she scolded me for playing too rough.  I truly believe that my 1st grade teacher did not like me.

Seeing that boy  be mean to Matthew made me think back to my childhood.  I endured years of bullying.  One of my biggest fears for Matthew is that he gets subjected to the kind of bullying I experienced.  One of the most important things for Matthew to learn is kindness.  I think the only thing that would break my heart more than kids bullying him would be if he were a bully.  I refuse to let that happen.

I hope childhood years are kinder to Matthew than they were to me.  At least I always had a good home and family.  I promise he will always have that.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flag Day

On the first Saturday of every June, our little community goes nuts over Flag Day. It's our big celebration of the year. The big events are the parade in the morning and the fireworks at night. It's a small parade on a short route, but that doesn't stop people from flocking in for the fun. Matthew was only about 7 months old on his first Flag Day, so he was able to enjoy it a little more this year.

Sometimes, I get sad that I don't live in my hometown anymore because I wish Matthew could experience things that I grew up with on a regular basis.  This is his hometown though, and I think the annual Flag Day festivities will be part of his childhood that he will fondly remember as an adult.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Office Life: Advancing While Staying Put

I've worked the same job in the same office for 8 and a half years.  Way back when I was being interviewed for the job, it was made very clear to me that this position was not a stepping stone to bigger things; this was it.  There would be nowhere to advance.  Some people might have been immediately turned off, but it was music to my ears.

I've never had the desire to climb the corporate ladder and work my way up to the supposedly-coveted corner office.  My goal was to find a job I like and give it my all.  I didn't want to worry about looking for the next big thing or fighting for a promotion or seeing if I could eventually utilize my experience elsewhere for a fatter paycheck.  I just wanted to get a job, be awesome at it, and stick with it.  I'm sure it sounds like I'm not ambitious and that I've become complacent, but that is not the case.

Doing the same job for several years may sound like monotonous drudgery.  I suppose that can be true, but it doesn't have to be that way.  Although I obviously deal with much of the same each day, there are ways to keep things enjoyable and to improve myself and my work and expand what I do.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shopping and Swinging

After tackling the porch steps on Friday, Ernie forged ahead on Saturday with many more outdoor projects.  While he worked, Matthew and I decided to go out for a little while.  Our first stop was Target.

Matthew loves riding in shopping carts.  Being a stroller in a store doesn't cut it anymore.  He likes to be up higher and able to observe more freely.

I picked up some boring household items, but I also got a few things for Matthew.  It's getting way too warm for his footie pajamas, so some new summer pajamas were in order.

Once we left Target, I decided to stop at a playground that I knew had toddler swings.  I've been wanting to allow him to enjoy some swinging, but our previous playground stops only had swings for bigger kids.  Matthew definitely enjoyed the swing.

Once he grew tired of swinging, we walked around the park and explored.  When I decided it was time to go, Matthew resisted and ended up falling and scraping his knees on the asphalt.  Poor kid!  I felt so bad.  I cleaned him up as best as I could, and then we headed home.  

At Target, Matthew had spotted one of his favorite books from his day care and was stretching and trying to get out of the cart to get to it.  Obviously, I had to buy it.  I also picked up a couple new toys for Matthew's Little People Farm. I figured these new toys would make up for the knee scrapes he suffered.  Turns out, all I needed were the boxes.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Picture Perfect

We do not have much hanging on our walls.  Our house was brand new when we moved into it back in 2005, and it took a long time before we committed to hanging any pictures.  There is a chocolate lab painting upstairs, two train pictures in the living room, two lighthouse pictures in the downstairs bathroom, and Brett Favre in our dining room (I'm really surprised I got away with that).

I decided I'd like to have some family pictures displayed in Matthew's room.  Something to hang made sense, and I wanted to have pictures from both sides of the family.  At the first store I looked at, I immediately found a frame I loved.

There is plenty of ink in our printer, and I had several sheets of photo paper, so I decided to see what I could put together.  I went through pictures from our wedding and from Ernie's mom and stepdad's wedding.  I dedicated one side to my family and one side to Ernie's family (four pics each).  I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Ernie will be hanging it in Matthew's room sometime this weekend.  Well, hopefully this weekend.  He has a lot of plans for things to accomplish around the house on this three-day weekend.  Last night, he tore apart the front porch steps after he noticed they were unsteady.  He discovered rotting wood and other fun stuff.  One trip to Home Depot and lots of work fixed that though.

Once Matthew wakes up from his nap, I think a trip to a playground is in order.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Trip to the Greenhouse

I do not have a green thumb, but I do love flowers.  Fortunately, my mother is very knowledgeable in that area.  Thanks to her, I am able to enjoy some lovely flowers outside my house once winter goes away.  She told me last week that a trip to the greenhouse was definitely in order.  When I got home from work yesterday, we hopped in my car with Matthew and went to get some flowers.

This was Matthew's first time visiting a greenhouse.  I wasn't sure if he'd enjoy himself or not, but it was quickly clear that he was mesmerized by all of the beautiful flowers.

Matthew and I happily wandered all of the aisles while my mom made the important decisions.  She kept asking me what I'd like, and I did help to narrow down some choices, but I truly consider her the expert and wanted her to just buy whatever she felt was best.  I knew that we couldn't go wrong with whatever she decided.

Next to the checkout, there was a bin with free watering cans for "junior gardeners."  Matthew proudly grabbed a watering can before we left.  The owner said that he would hire Matthew in a few years, once he got a little taller and a few more muscles.  My mom said, "He should probably stop wetting his pants too."  Ha ha!  Poor Matthew.  It's hard being 18 months!  The owner said that wasn't a big deal though and that "it happens."  I think you're in, Matthew!