Friday, December 29, 2006

Housework Wards off Breast Cancer

A new study shows that women who clean their houses on a regular basis are less likely to get breast cancer. Supposedly, moderate exercise such as this a few times a week works better than strenuous exercise once or twice a week.

I don't particularly like cleaning the house, but at least I feel better about not being able to afford a cleaning service (like everyone else I know).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top 20 holiday tunes

We've drummed up your favorite holiday songs. Which ditty leads the search hit parade?

read more | digg story

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Fun

Some fun Christmas activities: Type in a verb to make Santa do silly things. Beware - he can be naughty. Write an e-mail to Santa or play some Christmas games. Track his movements on Christmas Eve.

1-800-972-6242 Call Santa for a special message.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Sydneyisms of the Week

1. "My tummy is upsick."

2. "I want hot nuts for breakfast." No, she doesn't mean chestnuts roasting on an open fire (even though we've listened to Christmas music more than I care to admit). She's referring to hot Grape Nuts, my current choice for breakfast these days.

3. "No, it's not Frosty the Snowman, it's Rusty the Snowman." Ummmm, perhaps Rusty is Frosty's trailer park cousin made of out of dirty snow rather than clean snow? Who knows.....

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Liam's Website

Liam has his own website! I'm hoping that I can keep it updated with pictures and anecdotes. You can either check it frequently for new information or sign up to be e-mailed when I've updated the site.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Say It Ain't So.....

It's the end of an era. Greg Wiggle is sick and will no longer be the lead singer on "The Wiggles."

Sydney will be so sad.,20867,20845192-16947,00.html

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Liam's First Checkup

Today was Liam's first checkup with the pediatrician. His circumcision is healing quite nicely and other than his right ear sticking out a little bit, he is physically perfect. A quick trip to the baby scale revealed that he is one ounce away from his birthweight of 5 pounds, 11 ounces. That is remarkable considering that pediatricians like to see infants back at their birthweight by their two-week checkup. He'll definitely surpass that at his appointment next week.

As for his personality and temperament, he's generally a very easy going baby. The only time he fusses is when his diaper is being changed or when he's hungry. Other than that, he sleeps a whole lot and spends his awake time looking around and taking in the scenery.

Sydney is adjusting quite well to the huge family change. She is my "helper" bringing me diapers or putting the pacifier in Liam's mouth when he is crying. She is also our "baby alarm" when she runs to find us when he's crying. Hopefully, she'll continue to be my helper once Ryan goes back to work after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Time is Set

Now that we've got the date straightened out (Thursday, November 9th), I spent today getting the time straightened out. The surgery will start at 12:30 pm so our little guy should arrive sometime around 12:45 pm. I'll be in recovery for an hour or two while he goes to the newborn nursery to be bathed, measured and monitored for jaundice and temperature control. If he's as tiny as Sydney was (and he probably will be), then he may have some issues regulating his temperature just like she did. In that case, he'll stay in the newborn nursery for four hours before he can be released to my room. When all is said and done, both of us should be in a room by about 5 pm (for those of you who plan on visiting).

As for his name....Shiran and Amanda win the Halloween candy for guessing correctly. You guys just have to collect your rewards before I eat it all!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Baby Names

Since we already know our bundle of joy's gender and birth date, Ryan and I decided to keep his name a secret. After all, something should be a surprise (to everyone else), right?

We've had a lot of people guessing and recommending names due to our decision to keep it secret. Here's a hint, albeit a tough one: the name we're pretty sure will belong to our little guy was ranked 104th in popularity in 2005 according to the site below. Feel free to guess until you figure it out or post any name suggestions you may have. After all, nothing's set in stone until we fill out the birth certificate.

Free Halloween candy to the first person to figure out our current favorite!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Date is Reset!

I went in for my 36 week doctor appointment today and thank goodness I double checked our little guy's delivery date. I casually asked the doctor at the end of the appointment, "So, we're still on for November 8th, right?"

He replied, "Ummm, no, I have the 9th written in your chart."

He checked the calendar in his office and told me that he had Thursday, the 9th, designated as our delivery date. I KNOW he said the 8th back in June when I had the ultrasound done. Ryan heard him say it, too, so I know I'm not crazy.

So...for everyone who was planning on traveling to Houston on the 8th, you're more than welcome to, but the baby apparently won't make his appearances until Thursday, November 9th.

Who knows....I guess the doctor didn't want to reschedule his Wednesday golf game.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Unique Way to Tell Bible Stories

Talk about a unique way to spice up Bible stories....Legos!

Beware, some are not rated PG (strange, I know, since the guy used Legos). Be sure to ask your parents before you click to look at them (Rachel - this means you!).

Friday, October 13, 2006

How Many People Have Your Name?

I found out that I have a unique name....other than myself, no one else in the country has my name. How about you?
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sydney-isms of the Week

Funny things she's said in the past week:

1. "Oh, dear." We have no idea where she picked this one up (perhaps my mother?). She uses it whenever something goes wrong.

2. "No way!" We're thinking she got this one from school.

3. "The doctor is going to open Mommy up and baby brother is going to jump out." Oh, if it were that easy.....

4. "What do you say?" To Ryan, after handing him a garbage bag. She was expecting him to say "thank you" for her help.

We're constantly in stitches with all of the amusing things that come out of her mouth. Let's hope the laughs keep on coming.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Things I can no longer do

In addition to the standard things a pregnant woman can't do (drink alcohol, ice skate, eat unpasteurized cheeses), I've discovered some things that I personally cannot do. Here's my personal "Top 10 List" of things I can no longer do:

1. Paint my toenails without pausing to catch my breath after each toe.
2. Lean over the tub to give Sydney a bath.
3. Put away dishes that belong any higher than one shelf up.
4. Watch tear-jerker shows like "Extreme Makeover - Home Edition."
5. Hold Sydney in my lap to read a book.
6. Chase Sydney when she pulls away from me in a store.
7. Sit in a chair without cushions.
8. Find pajama bottoms that fit.
9. Reach into the depths of the washing machine to remove the washed clothes.
10. Go more than an hour without taking a trip to the restroom.

Am I uncomfortable? Yes.
Am I ready to not be pregnant anymore? Yes.
Is all the discomfort worth it? Definitely.

I can't wait until November 8th to meet our little guy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Can anyone loan us $4000?

Scientists recently bred an "allergy-free" cat. It has fur and is naturally bred. There were no genetic modifications done in a laboratory (meaning the possibility of genetic issues/diseases popping up is diminished). I'd love to get one seeing as Ryan is highly allergic and I am slightly allergic to cats (and neither of us likes dogs). The problem: each cat costs $4000. Anyone want to loan us the money so that our deprived child can have a pet?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Early Christmas Present

You might think from the title of this post that the early Christmas present is our little boy who is expected to arrive in a few weeks, but you'd be wrong. My early Christmas present is the thing we spent $400 on yesterday: an emergency root canal.

Once the early contractions/bedrest issue was resolved as of Tuesday, I mistakenly assumed that other than the usual third trimester discomforts, I would be home free for the rest of this pregnancy. I was wrong.

On Wednesday, I started having some discomfort in one of my teeth, but like most of my toothaches, I thought it would disappear within a day or two. By Thursday night, I was in so much pain that I couldn't sleep despite all of the Tylenol I was popping. After a quick call to my OB to ensure that a trip to the dentist was OK, I was in my dentist's chair looking an x-ray of a tooth that was in serious trouble. It's pretty scary to see a huge black spot near the root of a tooth.

My dentist, unsure of how to treat such an issue in a pregnant woman, referred me to a specialist. After another call to my OB to find out which medications were appropriate for me, I found myself in yet another dentist's chair, this time in so much pain I prayed for a quick blow to the head to put me out of my misery.

Of the three root canals that I've endured, this one was by far the most pleasant. The specialist was very gentle, especially when you consider how limited he was in how much pain killer he could give me. Once the procedure was over, he was reluctant to write me a prescription for an anti-biotic or painkiller due to the pregnancy. I agreed to stick with the Tylenol and give him a call if I noticed an infection setting in.

After another sleepless night and a stomach so hungry it was turning in knots (eating was completely out of the question), I had Ryan call him today to beg for drugs on my behalf. Luckily, he concurred once Ryan explained how much pain I was in and called in the prescriptions. I am now a much a happier person having taken my first hydrocodone tablet. I look forward to taking another one before bedtime in hopes of sleeping more than three hours tonight.

The specialist to whom I was referred is out of our "dental network" and normally, being the cheapskate that I am, that would bother me. But this time around, I don't care. I was willing to spend any amount of money to make the pain go away. I told Ryan to make the procedure my Christmas present this year. He said he wouldn't do that, but I really won't mind if I don't get anything this year; I'm just so happy to be out of pain.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Bedrest Once Again

Our little guy woke me up at four o'clock this morning with some pretty severe kicks in response to the contractions that I was having. It seems that being jolted awake by the walls of his current home (my uterus) closing in on him was quite upsetting.

After several hours of contractions (and big kicks from within), I high-tailed it to my doctor's office. Three uncomfortable tests later, I was given a prescription for something to stop contractions and told to stay on bedrest until my next scheduled appointment (Tuesday).

So, unfortunately, I'm going to miss a weekend in San Antonio with my parents and my sister's family. Fortunately, my parents volunteered to take Sydney anyway, so at least I'll have three days of bedrest without someone coming in my room every five minutes asking me what is wrong.

After all the trouble this little guy has given me in utero, he better be the best-behaved baby/child in the world. Otherwise, I think I'm in for eighteen years of chaos.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No diabetes, but......

On Monday, I had my 27 week checkup with my ob/gyn. After drinking the sickly sweet, orange-flavored, glucose-laced cocktail, I waited an hour and had my blood drawn. The nurse called today and said that luckily there is no sign of gestational diabetes, but I do have a slight case of pregnancy-related anemia. So along with a pre-natal vitamin and calcium tablets, I am now taking iron pills.

I'm not worried seeing as how I had the exact same thing with Sydney and she obviously turned out fine. So for the next 12 weeks, I'll dutifully take my four pills a day and keep staring at the ultrasound picture of our little guy in hopes that he gets my hairline and Ryan's perfect teeth.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tom Cruise is a Nut!

This proves that Tom Cruise is a complete nut. I feel sorry for Katie and baby Suri (who will grow up thinking this kind of life is normal).

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Sydney-ism of the Week

For the past few weeks, a neighborhood cat has made our back porch his bed. Each morning, Sydney and I go in the kitchen for breakfast and spy on the sleeping kitty. Our breakfast activities usually wake it up and it wanders off without our noticing.

However, one morning this week, it slumbered peacefully through breakfast and didn't wake up until our meal was over. The cat got up to do it's morning stretches and Sydney declared, "The kitty cat is doing yoga."

Ryan and I couldn't help but laugh at that one. We always knew we lived in a fairly liberal neighborhood, but when even the area cats get into yoga, you know it's pretty far to the left.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mark Your Calendars!

The date is (tentatively) set for the arrival our newest addition....Wednesday, November 8th. The doctor said we'd firm it up at my next appointment based on the baby's size and weight, but at this point he's pretty certain it will be the 8th. I'm a little sad that it won't be the 6th (my sister's b-day) or 7th (my niece's b-day), but it will be neat to have three family birthdays in a row.

Everything looks great, according to the nurse and doctor. The nurse was amazed at the strength and steadiness of our little guy's heartbeat, given the complications he gave us back in March. I have to admit, next to hearing the first cries of a newborn, hearing a baby's heartbeat is the sweetest sound in the world.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yay - We Have a Target in the Heights

After months of speculation and waiting, the Heights Target opened this week. It's official opening is next Tuesday, but it opened early for the neighborhood and those "in the know."

Sydney and I went this morning to check it out and while it looks just like any other Target, we did find some great "store-opening deals." She got a new Dora the Explorer place-mat and some new pigtail holders while I picked up another maternity tank top.

The Heights is not known for its acceptance of retail chains, so we were thrilled to see this store open. Now we don't have to drive into River Oaks or toward Jersey Village to shop at our favorite store.

I feel really good about shopping there after reading Newsweek's article about Target's charitable donations and community service connections. Target gives more money to charity (percentage wise) than any other retail chain. They also encourage their employees to get involved in community service work. In addition, they do not allow solicitation on their properties (that explains the lack of Salvation Army bell ringers come Christmas time) and they strive to be not only equal-opportunity employers, but equal-opportunity sales people. This explains why they chose to have their employees say, "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," despite all the hoopla caused by the Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh fanatics. The entire store is filled with Christmas decorations and paraphernalia while Christmas music fills the air - why shouldn't they also cater to their Jewish and Muslim customers as well by saying "Happy Holidays" to include Hanukkah and Ramadan in the holiday festivities? In an area as diverse as Houston and in a country as diverse as the U.S., no company wants to alienate entire segments of the population.

Needless to say, Sydney and I are thrilled about the neighborhood's new addition. I like it because it's affordable and community oriented while Sydney likes it because "it has lots of stuff." No matter what the reason, I'm pretty sure they'll be seeing a lot of us.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Life-Size TV (literally)

Who needs a TV this big?

What exactly are you saying to your guests (if you have any) about your life when you have a television the size of a double mattress?

1. "I have no life....all I do is watch TV and play video games all day."
2. "I sold a kidney so I could have the largest TV on the block."
3. "I'm hoping that the life-sized people on the screen will compensate for my lack of live friends."

I'm all for having the finer things in life, but come on......

Friday, July 7, 2006

Sydney Has Another Cousin!

For the past few months, Sydney has been obsessed with knowing everyone's relation to her. She knows that Rachel and Laura are her cousins (my sister's girls) and she can name my sister and Ryan's brothers with no problem. Last week, another name got added to the mix when Sydney got another cousin: Kayla Watson, daughter of Ryan's brother, Shawn.

We went to visit the new little family on Wednesday. We took them dinner and a few baby gifts and Sydney declared that it must be Kayla's birthday party because she was getting food and presents. I told her that it WAS Kayla's birthday, but that babies didn't have birthday parties. Sydney countered with, "Jacob had a birthday party and he's a baby." Jacob is Ryan's great-nephew who turned one last month. She's a smart little thing! I'm thinking she'll be a lawyer with that kind of logical argument appearing at age 3.

Sydney admired Kayla from a distance, merely peering at her over the edge of the bassinet. Other than that, she really had no interest in the baby. We're curious to see how she reacts to her baby brother in a few short months given her behavior with Kayla. We'll see!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Drumroll, please.....

It's a boy!!! The doctor is '1000%' sure it's a boy. He's very active and we had a hard time seeing anything for more than a second at a time, but there was definitely a penis exactly where it should be. We're very excited; nervous, but excited.

Everything else looked great, as well. All body parts are present and accounted for (and in the right spots) and he's at the 64th percentile for size and weight. The VCR was broken, so we don't have a video, but the doctor gave us several pictures to show off to everyone.

Now we just have to mentally prepare ourselves for having a little tyke, rather than another little princess...I guess there goes the girl name we'd already picked!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


While Sydney's verbal skills continue to astound me, I still find myself chuckling at her mispronunciations and mix-ups. A couple that had me laughing this week:

"Mommy, I want to eat a HANGERBER for lunch."

You figured out that HANGERBER is hamburger, right? The next one won't be so easy....

(Pointing to one of the Disney characters on a Memory game card) "This one is HOKEY POKEY."

Ever heard of HOKEY POKEY in a Disney film? I hadn't, either. It turned out to be Pinocchio, which I will admit is a pretty tough word to say.

Needless to say, we are entertained daily by these little pronunciations. I'm going to be pretty sad when she learns to pronounce everything correctly, but for now, I know to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


To make bath time easier, I usually climb in the tub and take a bath with Sydney. Our tub is fairly deep and leaning over it tires me out, especially now that I've got a belly in the way.

A couple of nights ago, I was already in the tub while it filled with water. Sydney undressed herself, threw her clothes on the floor and used the potty. When she finished her "business" she began to get in the tub. I asked, "Sydney, where do your clothes go?" meaning, "Put your clothes in the hamper." In her excitement, she picked up her pile of clothes and threw them in the unflushed potty. I cried, "No!!!!!!!!"

Ryan came running in, thinking something terrible had happened, and the two of us cracked up laughing. Poor Sydney had tears in her eyes thinking she'd done something terrible. She fished her clothes out of the potty and threw the soaked items in the hamper.

We started laughing even harder and I felt rather sorry for her. Ryan and I couldn't stop laughing long enough to reassure her that she'd done nothing wrong. It took a good five minutes of cuddling to calm her down.

I knew it would happen one day seeing as the hamper is right next to the potty. I just didn't think we'd find it that funny.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Date is Set!

June 27th is the big day.....the big ultrasound will be performed to determine the gender of our newest addition to the family. We'll be happy either way; however, all three of us are keeping our fingers crossed that it's a girl. We'll see!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Judge Rules Man too Short to Serve Prison Time

Well, I guess there's an advantage to being short....if I ever commit a horrible crime I might be able to use my (lack of) height to get out of prison time like this guy!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ha! My Mother Was Wrong!

Scientists have said that there is no real benefit to taking vitamins. So there, Mom, you were wrong all those years. Therefore, you really shouldn't have grounded me when you caught me flushing them down the toilet.,0,635571.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Sad, but true.......

Sadly, a new poll came out today stating that 1/3 of Americans between 18 and 24 cannot find Louisiana on a map (just one of many sobering statistics within this poll). Perhaps the even sadder news is that I am not surprised by this.

Of the 600+ students I had in my five year career, all of them were drilled and given map tests covering the entire world (minus Oceania/Pacific islands...impossible for even the best geographers). I'm sure if they were polled today, they would fare no better than the general public, despite my best efforts.

The truth is, until parents understand the importance of being informed of not only world events, but where those events take place and the cultures that are affected by those events, children/teenagers will not find those things important, either. IF the entire family gets together for dinner these days, the topic of conversation is not the day's news events, but is more likely to be the Astros' record or how many deer were shot the previous weekend (at least in the district I taught in).

Hopefully, Ryan and I can reverse this terrible trend, at least within our own household. It will be tough, however. Not only are we tempted to talk about more trivial things at the dinner table, but we want to protect Sydney from the horrors of the day's news. I only hope that we can find some kind of balance and that someday Sydney will blow those pollsters away with her knowledge of the world.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sydney Wants a Sister

After we had our first official ultrasound, Ryan and I told Sydney about the baby. It took her a little while to take it all in, but now, if you ask her, she'll tell you that there's a baby in Mommy's tummy. And when we asked her if she wanted a baby brother or sister, she informed us that she wanted a sister.

I think it's because one of her little school friends, Anna Catherine, just became a big sister to a baby brother. According to Anna Catherine's dad, Anna Catherine is not adjusting very well to the new addition. Apparently, two and three-year-olds talk about such matters amongst themselves because Sydney refuses to acknowledge that our baby might be a boy.

Either way, we can find out the gender of the baby in July. I just hope that no matter what the results are, Sydney adjusts well. I see how frustrated Anna Catherine's dad is and I definitely don't want that to be me come November.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another "First"

We thought that we were pretty much done recording Sydney's "firsts." We've got all the major milestones down: walking, talking, singing, using the potty, going to school, going to the dentist, etc. Yesterday, however, we encountered a new one: our first visit to the emergency room.

While stirring the macaroni and cheese that was to be her lunch, Sydney accidentally touched the pot. She suffered first and second degree burns on her right palm and after a call to the on-call pediatrician from our doctor's office, Ryan took her to the emergency room.

Amazingly, she got in within an hour and was the bravest little thing in the world while the nurse practitioner cleaned the burn and wrapped her entire hand and wrist. Ryan said she was the perfect patient and didn't cry at all (as opposed to when it first happened and she was completely inconsolable).

So for the next few days, her hand will be wrapped so that the burn can heal and hopefully an infection won't set in. A visit to her regular pediatrician on Monday should tell us when we can expect for the burn to heal completely.

I asked Sydney if she was going to touch a pot again and received a vehement, "NO!" in response, so we're hoping she learned her lesson. As difficult as it is, I guess it's one of those things you just have to learn for yourself. Sadly, I'm sure this won't be the last lesson she has to learn for herself.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Power of Prayer

A few days ago, a study came out stating that having people pray for you during recovery is detrimental rather than helpful. Heart surgery patients who knew that others were praying for them actually did worse than those who did not have people praying for them. How scientific could this study be? Can you measure the faith of those who prayed or the faith of those who had prayers said in their name? I don't think so.

I know prayer works, despite what scientists say. Most of you who read this blog know that Ryan and I got some good news a few weeks ago when we found out that we would be having a baby in November. Unfortunately, there were complications early-on and I was on bed-rest for almost two weeks. We had our families and friends praying for us. We were added to a prayer list at my sister's church. I even had my internet support group praying for us. People of several faiths kept us in their prayers.

It worked. On Tuesday, we got the news that despite the complications, the baby is thriving and all looks well. I'm still on a 'restricted regimen' but the chance of a miscarriage is down to 3%. The first words out of my mouth once we heard our little one's heartbeat was, "Thank you, God." I think I've said that prayer about a thousand times since, as well. After all, God most definitely deserves prayers of praise after such a terrifying situation is resolved.

I'm sure the study that was done was conducted as scientifically as possible, but I still don't believe the results. How can you measure something that has no physical manifestation? Isn't that the point of faith - to believe in something or someone so strongly that you don't need proof of physical existence? I simply don't believe this study's results; I'm pretty sure anyone of faith (Christian or otherwise) probably feels the same. Our little one is living proof (literally) that prayer works.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

30 - Big Deal

Well, I turned 30 yesterday and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm convinced that it was easier for me than Ryan or some friends of mine because I benefited from their experiences with the big 3-0.

My friend Tory turned 30 about six weeks ago and took me to the Chocolate Bar for an early b-day present last weekend. Tory is a friend from college who went on to law school, became a JAG attorney with the army and is now clerking for a federal judge here in Houston. She's traveled the world, having gone to four continents and so many countries I've lost count.

Even after all of her successes, she revealed that she mourns her twenties for all of the things that she has NOT accomplished, such as getting married, buying a house and having children. In short, she wants what I have and I, in turn, want what she has had.

I think the scary thing about hitting a big number in birthday years is the reflection that accompanies it. While I'm proud of what I accomplished during my twenties (graduating college, getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having a child) I can't help but think of missed opportunities. I will forever regret not traveling abroad while in college; I had chances to go to France and Israel and turned them down out of fear. I considered law school but opted for starting a job right out of undergrad in order to get my life going; now that I know that teaching is not for me, I really regret that decision.

For me, turning 30 was like a really intense New Year's Eve - a lot of reflection, but also some enthusiasm for what's to come. Perhaps we'll move into a bigger house, maybe we'll have more children and I might even make a huge career change. Who's the uncertainty that makes it so exciting.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Government Spending Gone Awry

Here's something thought provoking (it's been checked against the Snopes website and is true) -

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

a.. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

b.. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

c.. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

d.. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

e.. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The New "Survivor"

Have you heard about the next planned "Survivor" show?

6 men will be dropped on an island with 1 van and 4 kids each, for 6 weeks. Each kid plays two sports and either takes music or dance classes. There is no access to fast food.
Each man must take care of his 4 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, etc.
The men only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
There is only one TV between them and there is no remote.
The men must shave their legs and wear makeup daily, which they must apply themselves either while driving or while making four lunches.
They must attend weekly PTA meetings; clean up after their sick children at 3:00 a.m; make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.
The kids vote them off based on performance.
The winner gets to go back to his job.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Killer Kites

Who knew kite flying could be so wonder it's been banned!

Monday, March 6, 2006

Farewell Whole Milk

At Sydney's 2-year check-up last May, I was informed that she was underweight for her age. We were advised to keep her on whole milk for another year in order to fatten her up. I thought she looked fine and wasn't worried because she is also short for her age (surprise, surprise), but what do I know....I'm just her mother.

Today, I took Sydney in because she's had a cough for a few weeks. In addition to a prescription for some antibiotics, her pediatrician weighed her. She now weighs a whopping 28 pounds, 5 ounces. That's enough to get her into the 25th percentile for her age and enough to take her off whole milk.

So finally, Sydney can drink skim milk with the two of us and I can stop buying two different kinds of milk during each grocery shopping trip. I have no idea what we'll do with our extra 60 cents each week (whole costs that much more than skim). But at least I can rest easy knowing that Sydney won't be one of those obese pre-schoolers featured in overblown media reports.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

And people wonder why I quit.....

A 12 year old boy stuck piece of gum on an expensive painting while on a museum field trip. I immediately felt sorry for his teacher, although no one seemed to blame her (thankfully). The boy didn't think he'd done anything wrong......and people wonder why I quit teaching.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More Toilet Trouble

Since Sydney was potty trained a couple of months ago, we've been working on getting her to be more independent about it. She has done a fabulous job of going, wiping and flushing all by herself. She even gets herself up in the morning, takes off her diaper, uses the bathroom, puts panties on and then comes to tell us that it's time for breakfast.

Therefore, we no longer follow her into the bathroom to "help" unless she calls for it. Once again, we made a serious error in judgment.

She's been told at least a thousand times that she can only tear off two squares of toilet paper. I tell her that her bottom is little so she only needs two squares. I figured that she could count to twenty, so the concept of two squares should not be an issue.

All was well until yesterday evening. She went potty all by herself and then came to tell us that she needed more toilet paper. Ryan and I gave each other a look because we had just changed the roll the day before. Upon further investigation of the matter, Ryan found a stopped up toilet with almost an entire roll of TP floating in it. One scolding and several plunges later, the toilet is fine, which is great because we only have the one.

So we're back to the constant reminders of "two squares" and surprise spot inspections of Miss Independent's potty usage. Just when you think you've accomplished something you get a huge reminder that a pre-schooler is not to be trusted alone around something as fascinating as toilet paper. Oh, well....the joys of parenting.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Well, duh.......

A researcher concluded that men often lie about how many women they've slept with. Someone actually had to do a study to prove this? Talk about a waste of taxpayers' dollars.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Another brag.....

The pace at which a child builds his/her vocabulary is amazing. As I listened to Sydney say her bedtime prayer this evening, I thought back to her verbal skills from this time last year.

My Valentine's gift from her last year was the word "Mommy." I cried because I had been waiting for months to hear it. We were contemplating speech therapy because she was so behind others her age in her verbal skills. She'd already said "Daddy" and "WalMart" and even "Home Depot." But she had not said "Mommy."

This Valentine's she said, "I love you, Mommy," and now, not only is she saying "Mommy" non-stop, she is speaking in long sentences. It's truly amazing.

Her bedtime prayer is fairly long, yet she's been saying it for a month now: "Dear God, Thank you so much for baby Jesus, thank you so much for ______________ " (dinner, cookies, new shoes, etc.).

She sings entire songs (over and over and over) like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", the "ABC's" and a few songs she learned at school or church. My favorites are:

"There are seven days, there are seven days, there are seven days in the week:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
Today is ______________."

"How's the weather like today, like today, like today?
How's the weather like today? It's _______________ outside"

"God loves me. God loves me.
I'm so happy, I'm so happy,
God loves me."

In one year's time, she went from saying one word at a time to speaking in long sentences. Can you imagine how smart adults would be if we could increase our brain power and vocabularies in such exponential proportions each year? Children are truly amazing.....

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

How to Deal With Givers of Unsolicited Advice

Those of you who know me well are aware that there is a person in my life who insists on giving me "advice" even when it is unsolicited and/or unwarranted. It drives me crazy to the point of tears. I have avoided seeing this person and have even let the phone ring when I see their name on the Caller ID.

Anyway, the point is that I finally figured out how to deal with the situation. My very wise father-in-law pointed out that this person has a need to be in control of everything and everyone. I thought about that for a while and came to the conclusion that this person would be happy if they "thought" they were in control, even if they were not.

So my solution was to ask this person for advice on something that I either didn't really care about or something to which I'd already found an answer. It works like a charm and I wish I'd thought of it earlier. This person gets their need to control met and I get some peace.

I'm amazed at how much easier my life has become. I just hope this person doesn't figure out what's going on; otherwise, I'll be back to tears and frustration. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every minute of tranquility.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Junk Mail Pays

You never know when a random piece of junk mail can turn into something interesting. A couple of weeks ago, we received a piece of mail from Arbitron, the organization that gives ratings to radio stations. Enclosed was a request for both of us to record our radio listening habits for a full week; also enclosed was two dollars. We accepted the challenge and a few days later, we received our ratings booklets and ten more dollars.

So for the past six days, Ryan and I have been writing down what stations we listen to and when. We also have to tell where we heard the station, whether it be home, work, car or other. I've learned quite a bit about how I listen to the radio. For instance, I only listen to the radio in the car and with the help of the convenient 'change stations' button on the steering wheel, I found that I tend to change the station a lot. Of course, with this survey, I haven't changed the channel as often since it would be too hard to record such changes in my radio log.

Our week is up tomorrow and I'm quite thankful that I can go back to habit of changing the station when commercials come on. I never realized how annoying they were until I heard the same ones played over and over. It's definitely made me think about the luxury of my iPod and the fact that I can control what I listen to and when. Apparently Ryan's already figured that out because his log is practically blank due to his iPod usage.

So the next time you hear the phrase, "Arbitron rated number one...." you'll know how those ratings come about. And if you get a piece of junk mail from Arbitron, you'll know not to throw it out because, you, too, could help shape what's on the radio. And you could make twelve dollars out of it, too.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Update on the Resolutions

It's now one month into my New Year's Resolutions and I'm actually doing pretty well. My first goal was to lose weight, specifically ten pounds by the end of the year. I've lost two so far, which is not much, but it's something. Ryan says he can see the difference in my face and legs so apparently running three or four miles several days each week is working for me, albeit a little slower than I'd like.

Second, I've kept to my promise to read a book a week. I've read four, the most enjoyable being 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova. It involves the search for Dracula throughout Europe and Turkey and contains fabulous plot twists along with beautiful descriptions of various countries, primarily those in Eastern Europe. It's long, but definitely worth it, especially for someone like me who is fascinated with the intertwining of history and geography.

My third goal was to get our yard looking better. Two full garbage cans and 12 bulging garbage bags later, we can once again see the walkway on the west side of the house. I'd almost forgotten it was there seeing as that side of the house became our 'jungle' due to neglect. Only three more sides to go!

"Slow and steady wins the race' will be my mantra over the next year. Perhaps this will keep me from burning out when it comes to keeping up with my year-long goals.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nature vs. Nurture

I took only three psychology courses while in college so I am no where near an expert on the whole "nature vs. nurture" thing. It has been interesting, however, to watch Sydney develop skills and habits and then delight (or despair) in the realization that her actions mirror our own. Now whether she is genetically predisposed to these behaviors (nature) or she is picking up on our modeling of them (nurture), we can't really tell. But it sure is fun scrutinizing every new thing she does.

"Nature" Examples:
1. Her looks (eyes, eyebrows and face shape from me, nose and mouth from Ryan)
2. Sleep position (on tummy with one leg hiked up - from me)
3. Facial expressions (most from me, sticking lip out when concentrating from Ryan)
4. Bathroom habits (going two dozen times a day - from Ryan)
5. Great teeth (straight, no problems - from Ryan)

"Nurture" Examples:
1. Loves reading (from both of us)
2. Verbal expressions ("Hush, Daddy" or "GO!" when she hears a car horn honk - most from me)
3. Insistence on being barefoot, even at school (from me)
4. Insistence on not wearing pants around the house (from Ryan)
5. Food choices (YES to dessert, NO to green vegetables - from both on dessert, from me on vegetables)

Unknowns (could be nature or nurture)
1. Her temper (definitely from me)
2. Her love of exercise/the outdoors (definitely from Ryan)

I'm sure there are more, I just can't think of them. Regardless of the number, we really have to watch what we do and say because she repeats everything ("Shut up, Daddy) and does everything we do (lies on the couch to watch TV). It's amazing how having kids makes you want to be a better person, not just because you want them to grow up to be fine, upstanding people, but because you don't want them to embarrass you by showing the world what you're like behind closed doors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What a Memory!

Everyday I am amazed at how quickly Sydney learns things or picks up a new word or concept. In the past couple of weeks, we have been blown away by her memory skills. Here are just two examples.

We went to New Orleans over New Year's and visited with Ryan's great aunt who is very fond of Eeyore from the Winnie-the-Pooh series. All of her pajamas have Eeyore on them and the last time we were there (July), she took Sydney to her room to show her all of them. On our last visit, after a few minutes in the house, Sydney asked about Eeyore and ran off to Aunt Elaine's bedroom. We followed her and there she was, pulling on the exact drawer containing the pajamas. She'd barely turned two the last time we'd been there!

Last week we went to the zoo since the weather has been so mild. The children's portion has kiosks with animal pictures and buttons that when pushed, will give you the corresponding animal sound. Most are quiet and harmless, like the owl or a cricket. However, one is a mountain lion and the last time we were there (probably July), Sydney pressed it and ran away from it faster than we'd ever seen her run. This time, she pushed all of the buttons as usual, but when we approached the kiosk with the mountain lion on it, she grabbed my hand, pulled me the other direction and told me she was scared of it.

I'm sure all other two year-olds have great memories, too, but since I've only had in-depth experience with this two year-old, I have to say I'm very impressed with her memory. Of course, I'm just a little biased.

Friday, January 6, 2006

Willful 2 year-old + PMS = Chaos

While I am thankful that Sydney is back in school twice a week, this week I wished she was going five days a week. It's bad enough to have a willful two year-old, but when you add a bad case of PMS into the mixture, it makes for an unpleasant week for everyone involved.

Friday (today) is cleaning day in our house and while I'm usually not bothered by Sydney's "help", today I just couldn't take it. Her "help" usually adds an extra twenty minutes (and extra work for me) to each chore so rather than lose my patience with her, I asked her to go play by herself while I finished up a task. She obliged and I finished whatever it was I was doing. Then I noticed the quiet. It was way too quiet.

I found her in the bathroom applying paper mache to her arms. She had taken strips of toilet paper and dipped them in toilet (which she had just filled with pee pee and not flushed yet). She then wrapped the wet strips around her arms. There she was, pants around the ankles, covered in wet toilet paper. Oh, what a mess!

Next time, I think I'll close the bathroom doors before asking her to entertain herself. Of course, being two and half, she'll finding something else to get into, I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

New Year's Epiphany

While thinking about my "New Year's Resolutions" I came to the inevitable conclusion that nothing worth anything in life is easy. Of course, I've heard some version of this idea my entire life, but it really hit home as I made a mental note of changes I'd like to make this coming year.

Just like millions of other people, losing weight is my number one goal. There are countless ways to shed the pounds as evidenced by the multitude of diet pills, exercise machines and health clubs being advertised this time of year. However, after talking with a friend who recently lost quite a bit of weight herself, I decided to tackle my issue the old fashioned way: eat less, exercise more. It's not as easy as taking a magic pill or ordering all of my meals from some diet service, but I'm hoping that the lifestyle change it brings about will help me keep the weight off permanently, rather than ballooning back up once the magic pills run out.

My second goal is to read more and watch less television. I've already checked out several books from the library and plan to keep it up throughout the year. I'd like to read a book a week and with any luck, I'll be a very well-read person by the end of 2006. Turning off the television is another issue in itself. I love watching TV, but I'd like to set an example for Sydney that there are plenty of fun things in life that have nothing to do with a TV or a DVD player.

My last goal is to get our yard looking better. I've despised yard work since childhood, but every time I pull into the driveway I cringe. Just a few solid hours a week could get it looking healthy and green. So as much as I dislike it, I'll be out there raking, pulling weeds and watering our parched plants. It's not my idea of fun, but at least it will contribute to my first goal of the new year.

None of these goals is easy, but if I succeed at them, the effort will definitely be worth it in the end. Perhaps this time next year I can report that I've lost at least 10 pounds, read at least 52 books and made our yard look better than the ones manicured by local yard crews. Keep your fingers crossed - I know I am!

Happy New Year!