Monday, December 29, 2008


Our family had a wonderful Christmas. I hope yours did too! Here are some photos taken in Ocala on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Myles with my brother and sister

My dad dressed as Santa - getting a cookie from Myles

Myles' new truck and pile of presents

My happy boy on Christmas morning

Opening his first present
You can just see the excitement

More presents

Checking out the truck

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Meeting - results achieved!

So the meeting yesterday went very well. In the meeting were me, my husband, the associate director and one of Myles's teachers (who has been the source of much grief over the past month). Everyone was very open and honest and we all seem to have the common goal of pursuing Myles' best interests. My husband opened the meeting by asking whether they felt Myles could successfully adjust to their school after so much time with a nanny. They both (without hesitation) said absolutely. We also wanted to get a pulse on how close he is to being "thrown out" of the school. They both seemed shocked we asked and said it's never even been considered.

The teacher reiterated over and over that Myles has progressed leaps and bounds in the past two weeks - in attitude, verbal communication, and social skills. She also insists his aggression has dramatically reduced. She gave several examples of positive interactions she and the other teachers had with Myles this week, one being just an hour before the meeting. This made me happy. She also gave examples of how he's grown.

She told us that they do ASQ assessments on each child periodically throughout the year. Their last assessment of Myles noted that he is developmentally on track or ahead in every area except his social skills. He has never interacted well with other kids, especially in group settings. We all assume this is largely due to spending over two years with me or a nanny. In the past two weeks, the teacher stated his social skills have caught up with his peers. She gave some examples why. I have also noticed he has a strong liking for one of the boys in the class, who he talks about daily and acts very excited to see in the mornings.

They answered all of our questions honestly and were very positive. They gave the impression that they DO care about Myles. The teacher was very honest by stating that of the three teachers in the room, she is the least tolerant and that has proven difficult for Myles. This is why they have him spending more time (such as during breakfast and lunch) with the teacher who is generally assigned to the six youngest children in the class. Her temperament seems to mesh the best with Myles and he responds well to her direction. (I will note she also has the most similar temperament to me, from what I can tell.)

All in all, we are satisfied. There were a couple of minor contradictions in the meeting, but they were not related to important topics. The teacher even went so far to tell me I am "one of our best parents...offering plenty of information and direction to enable us to successfully teach and work with Myles." Apparently some of the parents say very little to the teachers when dropping off and picking up.

The past week-plus, the teacher we've had the issues with (who was the one in the meeting) has been more than nice. She's been much more positive when speaking of Myles and more personable during drop-off and pick-up. Her negativity with him and seemingly constant bad moods were two of my major complaints that led to the meeting. We didn't even have to mention these things. We are hoping this will bring an end to our daycare struggles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Daycare meeting today

My husband and I are meeting with the daycare in 30 min. We expect the two of us, the associate director and Myles' teacher (the one who I've had the issues with) in attendance. Things have been better the past week since I scheduled the meeting. I'll provide thoughts and an update later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

5k weekend

I ran my first 5k in over 6 months last weekend! I was so proud to finish...and in a pretty descent time - just under 34 min. Given this success, I embark this week on an 8-week program that will enable me to run a 10k. Just writing that gives me goosebumps. I never, ever imagined I'd run a mile, let alone 3...or 6! But these days, I can't imagine life without running. I feel so great after a good 2- or 3-mile run. It's indescribable.

So what made this weekend's 5k event the most memorable and special is that Myles participated in his first kids' race. I want him to get into running because I recognize the health benefits (and because I love it). But there's no pushing involved...the boy LOVES to run!

He did a wonderful job, participating in a 100-meter dash with about 40-50 other kids, all ages 3 and under. I was anxiously trying to capture a photo so I wasn't paying complete attention to where he finished, but from what I did see, he finished somewhere around 5th! He did GREAT and I was incredibly proud. Above is a photo taken after both of us had successfully run our races. I have a feeling there will be more of these to come!

By the way, I have not reported on my weight loss for a couple of weeks. I am currently at 146.0 so have not lost any more weight. However, I feel great and am fairly confident I'm building muscle due to all of the running I've been doing (about 8-10 miles per week). I'm feeling a slight difference in my clothes, especially in the butt area (YES!) so as long as I continue to see improvements to the way I look and feel, I'm content with whatever weight I'm at. More to come on that at a later date.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vacation dreams

I have to stop talking about the daycare situation or I'm going to be sick. I have a message in to the director requesting a meeting. I haven't heard back yet but expect to have something scheduled by end of day.

I thought for this post I'd talk about vacationing with children. Billy and I used to choose our vacation destinations based on where we could find the hottest art scenes and where we could best experience God's glorious creation through outdoor activities. Not now. These days, it's all about which cities offer the best scene for kids...toddlers, to be exact.

Around Labor Day, we took a trip to Atlanta. We were able to stay with my good friend Julie (making the trip affordable) and found loads of great places to take Myles. It was perfect. So we're thinking now about next year. I found a great site operated by Disney, which gives detailed information about family-friendly cities, as well as tips on where to go if you visit and even where to stay and eat. We used it when planning our Atlanta trip and it did not steer me wrong.

As for next year, a lot will depend on the economic conditions and whether we can afford to travel. Also, we celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary next September and were hoping to take a trip to Europe, just the two of us.

Do you have any favorite places to visit with your kids? I'd love to hear suggestions!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Daycare situation comes to a head

Well, I have finally "had it" with the daycare situation. I won't get into a lot of detail here, but I am finally calling a meeting this week with the director. I am tired of being told that my child could have a behavioral disorder when he only acts out WHEN HE IS THERE! I am tired of getting that feeling every day when I pick him up that he is too much of a hassle for his one teacher (who I've had issues with practically from Day 1 and never said anything to the director) so she chooses to ignores him all day, then treats him punitively when he acts out. I am tired of worrying every day whether he's being scarred for life there by a teacher who clearly doesn't like him. I'm tired of knowing he's unhappy as a result.

The daycare director will hear it all this week. I guess we will see what happens.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random thoughts on a "sick" day

We have not been feeling well in the MacDonald house this week. Myles was diagnosed Tuesday with an ear infection and sinus infection after the daycare sent him home that morning with a high fever. I am also battling overall lethargy, congestion, a mild sore throat and off-and-on headaches. Yuck!

Myles has been home with "Gramma Mac" for two days after I took most of the day off Tuesday to be with him. It was my last available sick day of the year. He is having such a wonderful time with her and I can already feel that it will be tough for him to return to daycare tomorrow.

I'm coming to grips with the fact that he just doesn't like it there. The daycare is rated well and came with good recommendations. But it's a daycare - not a nanny - which he became accustomed to during his first 2+ years. With 18 kids and 3 teachers in the classroom, they just don't have the ability to offer him the attention he so craves.

Complicating things is that Billy and I made a big mistake when Myles was younger. We put him with too many different caregivers. He had Meredith for 3 months as a newborn but she had to return to college. Zina kept him for about 8 months and decided one day she was too stressed to continue keeping him. I was then given clearance to transition to a part-time position and we hired Katy to keep him two days a week while I worked. Two months later, I was laid off and he was home with me.

I returned to work six months later and he began his time with Jade. During this time, we also sent him to a two-day-per-week Mother's Morning Out program so that he could interact with more children. Eight months later, Jade had her second baby (she found out she was pregnant very shortly after starting with Myles).

On May 19, Myles started daycare. With the frequent changing of caregivers - which was never our plan for him - we decided he had to move somewhere stable, where he could remain until starting kindergarten.

Due to the many changes he's already endured, we are unwilling to switch daycare centers. None of our previous nannies are available. So either it works out there or I return to the home...something I don't want to do. I know he's unhappy at the daycare because he is hitting and pushing other children daily...something he doesn't do anywhere else. I've confirmed with his Sunday School teacher and observed him at birthday parties and with cousins...the aggression is definitely limited to the daycare.

So we're trying to decide if he needs to stick it out and learn to thrive without the attention he's seeking (which he'll have to do in school anyway) or if we are making a critical error sending him somewhere that he isn't happy. I know that the teachers (at least 2 of the 3) care about him and want him to succeed there. They seem engaged and willing to help him solve his social issues with the other kids. I know that as far as daycares are concerned, it's a good one. I also hear that the 3/4 year-old class is the center's best.

For now, we're planning to hold on until he moves into that class in March, after he turns 3. If things don't improve, I will have a difficult decision on my hands.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How thankful I am

We had a tremendous Thanksgiving. The weather was amazing, the company was wonderful and the food was fantastic. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day.

Mommy playing puppeteer
Gavin taking his turnDaddy and the boys

Ian sharing his wisdom with a willing pupil
The kids' dinner table

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Your thoughts, please?

Today, Myles' daycare had a Thanksgiving lunch. Parents were invited to join their children and share a meal and fellowship with other families. It was never an option for Billy and I not to attend. We were signed up the day the sheet was posted.

And yes, the lunch was nice. It was great to see Myles in the middle of the day. What wasn't nice was the scene Myles made when we had to leave! He became so hysterical, I was afraid he would get sick. He cried uncontrollably when it was time for Billy and me to go. Ms. Carla tried very hard to console him but nothing would work. I hung around for about 10 minutes trying to say my good-byes. Billy hung around 30 minutes. It went from bad to worse when I had to leave.

So the question I'm pondering is whether it's the right thing to even attend these gatherings when it's not reasonable to take the rest of the day off. If this were a mid- to even late-afternoon function, I would have skipped out early. But it was over at 12:15. I don't have a lot of vacation or personal days and as you can imagine, my sick days get used up quickly with actual sickness.

There were only about 4 kids from his class and under 10 total who did not have a parent there. Those children had lunch with their teachers...same food, same room, but off in the far corner. At this young age, I'm not sure they know they're missing anything.

But as I saw those few kids sitting without parents, I felt sad for them. Should I? Maybe their parents don't attend these things because they have been through what we went through today. It's something I never thought I'd consider. But then again, I'm not sure I can see Myles as upset as he was today too many times.

So what's worse -- having him eat Thanksgiving lunch with his teachers while 80% of the class enjoys it with a parent or two? Or watching him cry uncontrollably as we return to work? I welcome everyone's feedback!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weight loss progress

Well, I completed my first week of trying to lose weight and fared very well. I'm down 3.2 pounds for the week to 145.6, with only 4.6 pounds to go!

I certainly had good days and bad days when it came to eating. I've been SUCH a bad eater, I knew I couldn't become a great eater overnight. But I'm happy to say about half of the days last week were truly good days. On the days I did not do well, I made sure to exercise to somewhat make up for it. Yesterday, I was out running again and managed to get back to 2 miles! My previous run earlier in the week ended after 1.5 miles so I was happy with this progress. Although I was up to about 4 miles at one point in time during the spring, I basically took 6 months off from running so being back at 2 is more than acceptable to me. There is a nice 4-mile run by my house that I intend to be doing by the end of the year so I'm excited to have that goal.

This week, of course, is Thanksgiving. I will allow myself to eat a lot that day. However, I'll be cautious leading up to that day, as well as the weekend after, with the hope that I can be close to 144.0 by next Monday, with just 3 pounds to go! Wish me luck...this won't be easy now that Thanksgiving is here!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

T-Rex experience at Disney

Well, we made another trek to Disney this weekend. We went Saturday evening to eat at the new T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. What a place! It is by far the easiest meal out we've ever had with Myles. No rolling cars across the table, reading stories throughout dinner, or taking a walk outside. The dinosaurs did ALL of the entertaining! The meal was pricey - we spent $70, including tip and did NOT have alcohol (although we did have an appetizer). But it was well worth it. This will become a once-a-year outing for us, I hope. If you have little ones (especially boys), I'd really recommend checking it out!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Family friendly cooking - Part 2

Here is another good, easy recipe, especially nice during these cooler months!

Pineapple chili
1 lb. ground pork or beef
1 16-oz. jar pineapple salsa
1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. chili powder
Pineapple slices (optional)

In 3-quart saucepan brown meat; drain. Stir in salsa, beans, tomato sauce, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Serve with pineapple slices.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday calendar

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I've compiled a list of some of the things going on in the area through the New Year, many of which we are attending. I hope you will make the time to go out with your little one(s) this wonderful season.

*Nov. 14 – Jan. 2 - Light Up UCF
*Nov. 17 – Jan. 4 - Gaylord Palms ICE!
*Nov. 22 – Jan. 4 - Nights of Lights (St. Augustine)
*Nov. 23 - JCC Family Festival @ Lake Lily Park, 10am-5pm
*Nov. 28 – Dec. 23 - Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest (Eustis)
*Nov. 29 – Dec. 31 - Now Snowing (Celebration)
Nov. 29 - Light Up Mount Dora
*Dec. 6 - Winter Park Christmas Parade @ Park Ave, 9am
*Dec. 6 - Light Up The Holidays @ Crane's Roost, 5pm
*Dec. 20 - Snowfest @ RDV Sportsplex, 2-6pm

I've put an asterisk next to the things we are doing. We always like to go out with friends so feel free to call me if you want to join us. I'll update as I hear of more events in the area. Let me know if you know of anything else as well. I know there's lots more out there!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nights of Lights

There are loads of fun things to do with kids over the holidays. Even if you're like us and don't get invited to many parties, you can always find something fun from Oct. through Dec. Yesterday, I learned of an event I never knew existed. This is rare for me, as I do quite a bit of digging around to find out how we can do things fun (and cheap) as a family. I think the primary reason I was unaware of this event is that it takes place in St. Augustine, a place we do not frequent.

But this year, this event is on our list. It's called Nights of Lights and sounds GREAT! Since Myles has never been to St. Augustine, we are happy to introduce him to a new place. We're even happier to see how much fun he has at the activities. One thing we'll definitely see is their "Winter Wonderland," complete with falling snow, an ice skating rink, ice slide and sleigh rides. When you live in Florida, you LIVE for these types of things when the weather cools (to the freezing 40s!!). They also offer a Santa's Train Tour and Christmas Trolley Tour. While we're there, we'll definitely do one or the other.

We haven't settled on a date yet but we're eyeing Saturday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 20. I'll be sure to provide photos and hope your family will also consider this event if you're in North or Central Florida. Happy holidays to all!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Down to earth moments

I swore in a previous blog that I refused to go on any diets or dislike my "mommy body." Well... that was that day, and this is today. You see, I have put on seven ugly pounds this year, which is equal to the number of pounds I'd put on the entire last decade. It is unacceptable.

So as I grapple with the fact that I'm close to outgrowing my Size 8 clothing, I have decided it's time to kick my own butt and lose all seven of those pounds by the end of the year. I have seven weeks to lose seven pounds. It won't be easy (especially since we're basically in holiday season) but I'm feeling pretty bad about how much I have obviously let myself go since breaking my healthy eating habits and beginning the downward spiral in March.

I started getting serious this weekend. On Friday night, I broke out my old Accelerated Winsor Pilates tape. I used to do these exercises fairly well about six years ago, when we lived in our old condo. There was one exercise I could never quite get the strength to do, but I was pretty darn good at everything else. And these exercises are TOUGH.

Well, long story short, I made it through the workout Friday night...after needing to use the "modified version" of four of the exercises and not even being able to touch the one I could never quite do. I realized while doing many of the stretches just how bad my lower back is. I also realized how completely out of shape I am after abandoning my running in early June and not picking up with anything else. I'm still sore today.

So here's my plan:
1. Winsor Pilates 3 times per week. It's a good, low impact activity I can do to regain good balance and re-strengthen my core (abs). It's also great because I can do it in my own home, whether it's dark outside or not.
2. Running 1-2 miles 3 times per week. Okay, that's a start with getting back into my running routine. Next month, it needs to be at the 2+ mile mark each time I go out. I went early this morning, determined to run a full 2 miles (despite my inactivity these last 6 months) and did OK. I ran 1.5 in a little over 16 min., then had to walk .25 so I didn't collapse, then ran the last quarter mile, finishing the two miles in around 23 min. Not exactly great, but it was a start.

As for my diet, I've decided to add in more fruits and take away half of the sweets. I also significantly increased my water intake this week at work and plan to continue that. Finally, I'm going to force myself to eat breakfast at least 5 days a week (something I'm very bad at) and stop eating after 7:30.

Hopefully, by doing these things, I can enter 2009 where I started it. Goal weight: 141 lbs.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fast, easy cooking for working moms

If you're like me, one of the last things you have time to do after working all day and being away from your child for 9 hours is cook an elaborate meal. But you also know it's unreasonable and way too expensive, not to mention bad for your waistline, to be eating out every night. You also want to serve balanced meals, not cereal every night.

I have been working hard to find good recipes that are kid friendly, simple to make and fairly inexpensive. I'll start sharing one weekly on this blog...get on me if I slack off!

Here's a good one, which I made last night and which Myles always loves. The ingredients combined cost me around $6-$7 and it easily feeds two adults and 2 kids. It usually takes me a half hour from start to finish, but 15 min. of that time does not require any of your attention. Typically, I only give about 15 min. of my full attention to cooking when making this meal. And it's quite delicious!

Apple Sausage Rigatoni

6 oz. dried rigatoni (about 2 cups)
8 oz. cooked smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (*I use the healthy turkey sausage)
2-3 Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup whipping cream (*I use the light cream found next to whipping cream in the dairy aisle)
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Snipped fresh basil (optional)

1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Set aside.
2. In same Dutch oven cook sausage until lightly browned (usually about 3-4 min. for me). Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are lightly golden, 5 min. or so. Stir in cooked pasta, whipped cream, and cheese. Heat through. Garnish with basil. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A day off...take it for yourself?

I am taking this Friday as a personal day. Originally, I hoped to drive 90 miles to spend some time with my dad, who is battling cancer. Although those plans aren't working out, I will still take the day off. After all, I have a few days to take by the end of the year, so why not?

As I started planning for the day, I began feeling guilty about taking Myles to daycare when I'm not working. The last day I took off (Halloween), I kept him home and we had a very fun day. But this time, I just feel too behind in life's tasks to give up the opportunity to take the day for myself. I have already made a list of things I'd like to do Friday that would be humanly impossible to complete.

But I can feel good about getting some of the things done, right? For one, I need to continue my Christmas shopping, which I've been SO good about this year, having already finished my dad and brother and started Myles and my sister. I also have a small pile of things that need to go to the children's consignment store, and one larger item for Craigslist. And yes, I still need to take down my Halloween decorations. And bake a pumpkin roll. And get a pedicure. Okay, actually I don't need to get the pedicure...but i could use it!

How about you? When you elect to take a day off (and you or your child aren't sick), do you ever send your child to childcare? Should I feel bad for this?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted!

I'm proud to say I voted this morning! As a mom, I feel the duty to vote for the person/people who will make our nation a safer, more peaceful and prosperous place for Myles. I'm very happy to report I voted for the person I 100% believe will do that!

Of course, since I don't operate a political blog here, I won't be saying WHO I voted for. Most of you know anyway.

I'm also fasting food today, spending the time I would normally be eating, in prayer for our nation. It's time we came together again as one and stood together for the greater good of ourselves and our children.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Treating at work

Billy's company had a trick-or-treating event at the office yesterday afternoon. The employees' kids were invited to come in costume and trick-or-treat around the building while enjoying lots of home-made sweets. Myles went as a dinosaur and we came home with close to 10 pounds of candy...GOOD candy! Nearly everyone had a huge bucket of assorted chocolates and Myles made sure to grab handfuls at several of the stations, especially if they had M&Ms.

Mommy and Daddy also enjoyed some of the food that was brought in...from dirt cups to cupcakes to assorted cookies and brownies. A good time was had by all and I am stealing the idea for my office next year (since these types of events fall within my job description)!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not So Scary Halloween

We took Myles to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney's Magic Kingdom Sunday night. We went back and forth all weekend on whether to spend the money ($50 per person) but decided to go for it after the great day we'd had Sunday and when we realized it was the last year Myles could go for free (under 3).

I think I speak for the whole family when I say it was wonderful! We had such a great time and it was worth every penny! Not only did we come home with about 5 pounds of GOOD candy after trick or treating around the park throughout the night, but pretty much every ride was open and there were little to no lines since Disney caps the attendance for this special event.

We rode the Teacups, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, the Tomorrowland people-mover, Goofy's kiddie coaster, and took three turns on the Indy race track (at Myles' request).

The parade was also fabulous and there were lots of characters who you don't usually see when visiting Disney (mostly the villains). The highlight of the night was Myles meeting Tarzan, Jane and Turk (the gorilla). This is one of his two favorite movies (second only to Cars) and he was in awe of the characters. Captain Hook was also a big hit.

While this is a little pricey (in total, we spent a little over $150 including parking and food), it is well worth doing if you have a little one. As a matter of fact, Billy and I both said we probably won't do Disney any other way moving forward. You pay about $15-20 less, can go into the park at 4pm (event ends at Midnight), have no lines and walk out with tons of free candy. It is really a good deal, if you ask me and as Disney always does, they make it magical for the kids (and even for the adults). Don't miss out on going to this event one year! I can absolutely guarantee you won't be disappointed (and I do NOT work for Disney)!

Friday, October 24, 2008

People and parties

So a friend of mine is having a great little children's Halloween party this weekend. We received our invite about a month ago and have been looking forward to it ever since. The kids are invited to wear costumes and bring a goody bag so that they can collect some treats. She's been buying deocrations for the house and working on recipes that will be fun for the kids and tasty for the adults, while sticking with the Halloween theme. Like me, she lives in a smaller house so didn't invite the whole world to come.

Then, the inevitable happened. Everyone started canceling. One right after another. It's sad, really. Today, she called me in disbelief...wondering if she should try to reschedule or just hold the party for the TWO kids (including my own) who are able to attend. She decided to hold it anyway and here is why:

People are notorious for this. It's the reason I only hold one party at year now at my home. They always say they're coming, then cancel for one reason or another. "We are now going out of town," "Child is sick," "Family decided to come and visit that weekend," are all excuses I've heard one too many times. And the biggest culprits are parents.

Listen folks, I don't want to offend anyone, but we have to be more sensitive to other people when they are putting forth an effort to be a friend. Obviously things come up. Unexpected emergencies happen. And in these cases, you are clearly off the hook. But there are too many times when people back out of a gathering and give an excuse...when really the excuse is that they just don't feel like going any more. It's been a bad day. They're tired. Whatever. It's inconsiderate...especially when done at the very last minute.

I feel really bad for my friend. She is one of the best friends I've been blessed to know and she doesn't deserve this. Now she's left with tons of food that won't get eaten. What's worse, she's left with hurt feelings...wondering if people just don't like her. I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself the same question. Why, oh why aren't people ever available to come to my parties? Do they just not like me?

I've been as guilty as everyone else of backing out of something for less than good reasons. But I, for one, am committing not to do so again. After all, I could use the friendships.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - my new kitchen

"I don't like Mommy!"

This is what Myles told me when we were driving home Sunday after his weekend with my parents. He had a wonderful time with them in Ocala but didn't want to come home due to the nonstop excitement. I tried to explain to him that he needed to come home because he LIVES there...and because we love him and want to be with him. It didn't work. "I don't like mommy!" So I tried telling him Daddy was crying because he missed him so much (Daddy was at home finishing the kitchen when I was driving Myles home). "No daddy! I don't like daddy!" was the response.

Billy doesn't think he fully understands what he's saying when he says he doesn't like someone or something. He feels he's just trying to communicate that he doesn't want to be with that person at that time. I'm not so sure. All I know is it hurts and I never expected I'd hear the "I don't like you" line this early in my child's life.

Looks like I have some work to do.

Here are two photos taken over the weekend during his stay with my parents. Both are taken at Silver Springs, which is a fabulous place to take children, especially in the fall and around the holidays, when they have extra activities and exhibits setup. It's worth the drive from Orlando when you have a day to spare.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What to do when your child is gone for the weekend

Wow, there are so many things I could think of doing with Myles spending the weekend with my parents tonight through Sunday. There's the Epcot Food & Wine Festival...a late season trip to the beach...heck, there must be something good playing in the movies or at the theatre this weekend. Unfortunately for us, tearing out our kitchen beats out all of these suggestions. Ugh. I guess it's better to do it while Myles is out of the house than in the house.

I'm going to miss the little man so much...he brings such life and joy into our home. I know he'll have a great time though, as he always does with Meme and Papa. Hopefully he'll want to come home this time!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Us at Green Meadows Petting Farm in early Oct. This place is a must for toddlers and is especially nice in Oct. with their pumpkin patch and Halloween decorations.

Coping with guilt

I'm going through another "feeling guilty phase." Lately, Myles has been (to put it lightly) clingy with me, particularly in the evenings. He wants 100% of my attention at all times.

So I've had a choice to I give him every moment of my attention from the time I pick him up until the time he drifts off to sleep, sacrificing time with Billy, making dinner, tidying things up and getting in some "me" time? Or do I teach him now that even though I'm away from him for 45 hours a week, I need even more time to spend on things other than him?

It's a real struggle. The latest thing to suffer was the 4-week Bible study I'd joined on Wed. nights. Myles absolutely did not want me to pick him up, then take him to another childcare setting for 90 minutes so that I could learn about how to love. So I missed the last class. I couldn't refuse the time with him. I would have missed the 3rd class as well if it weren't for the fact that Billy got off early that night and was able to meet me at the church and pick him up. After all, he won't want to spend time with me forever! Another issue is I have gained 5 pounds (that I did NOT need to gain) because we're not eating as well and I'm exercising very rarely.

I truly want to spend time with Myles, but I am struggling more than ever to make time for things other than work and being a mom. There's no time for cooking, no time for laundry (until after he finally crashes at around 9:30 p.m.), and no time for spending time with my poor husband, again until after he goes to bed and the bare minimum chores are done.

I love my job and what I do, but I truly wish I could shave about 10 hours a week off my work schedule right about now. That, of course, will not happen, so for now, I'm searching for the right balance, as well as any advice anyone has to offer. I welcome your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No time for blogging these days

I have fully intended to blog many, many days. But I have not made the time to do so. You see, I have been incredibly busy. I just wrapped up our annual Workplace Giving event at work on Oct. 3. We're also in the middle of a kitchen remodel and some major electrical work. I'm also doing a women's Beth Moore Bible study (which is awesome) and am very, very caught up in the presidential election, which I truly feel will make or break our country, depending on how people vote.

We have, however, tried to make as much time as we can for fun. We're excited for Halloween this year and are determined not to be SICK this year!!! Myles will be a dinosaur...see above. We're also busy with fall festivals and other fun outings now that the weather is bearable. Last weekend, we went to Green Meadows Petting Farm and had a BLAST! This weekend, we're going to Oktoberfest at Celebration, as we did last year. Lots more fun stuff planned this month through Dec. so I'll try to blog any opportunity I get. Check back weekly, as I do hope to update at least that often. Enjoy your fall!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New hair!

Well, Myles and I both have new hairstyles. We chopped Myles' hair last weekend and I changed my color and style yesterday. Attached is a photo I took after laying Myles down for his nap this afternoon.

Awesome makeup offer

I have not been blogging lately because I simply can't find the time. I have been swamped at work, as we're in the middle of our annual Workplace Giving Campaign, which I co-chair. On top of that, our evenings have been taken up with home improvement projects that have popped up. This week, we'll have a major electrical job done in our house and the kitchen will follow next month. We were fortunate not to have to do our plumbing.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that Nordstrom has purchased the e.l.f. makeup line (eyes lips face). I've never used their products, but know others who have, each of whom loves what they've used. You can only purchase their products online, to my knowledge. Anyway, since they are now having to re-brand all of the e.l.f. products, they are selling the remaining items - the ENTIRE line - for $1 apiece!!! Yesterday I purchased $65 worth of items, including five bronzing powders, two concealer sticks, two foundation sticks, and dozens of eyeshadows, lipsticks and nail polishes. If you use the code "CAROLINA" at check out, you'll get an additional $7.50 off a $15 order. And shipping for my huge order was only $6.95. Check it out at You can find some great deals for yourself or as Christmas gifts! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Atlanta photos

We had an awesome time in Atlanta!!! We did so much in just 2.5 days. Here were the highlights:

1. Six Flags Over Georgia

2. Georgia Aquarium

3. Imagine It Children's Museum

4. Stone Mountain

5. Fun dinners with our hosts, Julie & Bryan

I'll be back soon with more to say about our trip and other news and events that affect us moms.

Friday, August 29, 2008

5 things to take on a road trip with kids

So we are embarking on our journey to Atlanta tonight and I still have to get home and finish packing after all of us unexpectedly crashed at 9:30 last night. Thank you to Debby for the recommendation to visit Stone Mountain...we are going on Monday and coming home very late Monday night. Good thing I took Tuesday off!

Anyway, back to the purpose for this post. Here is what we can't live without on this trip:

5. Sunscreen for the two days we're spending outdoors.
4. Fun snacks for the road and during one of our many stops (we don't want to be forking out bills every time Myles is thirsty or just wants a small snack).
3. At least 4 movies for the long car ride up and back.
2. The camera...and lots of spare batteries for it!
1. An extra helping of patience...just in case!

Most likely, you won't hear from me again until Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Locked out

Grrr...we locked ourselves out of the house tonight. How could we, you may ask? Well, it was the combination of lots of variables...and it wasn't pretty.

Myles was not happy when we returned from a bike ride to the local playground only to find we were locked out. It was coming up on 9pm. Billy had his keys, but the key we needed (to our bottom lock on the side door) was inside the house, where our housekeepers had left it after cleaning today. Billy didn't think about that before he left the house with his keys. Oh, and our front door has a deadbolt on it.

We tried all of the windows, the glass sliding door, even called the police, but alas, we were out of luck. With Myles having a meltdown screaming "GO INSIDE!" Billy finally decided to KICK IN our front door!!! He unlocked the actual lock with his key and had to kick the door about 6 or 7 times to break the deadbolt. It was quite disturbing, but on the bright side, at least we know our door frame is pretty darn sturdy! It wasn't damaged a bit!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We are going on a quick vacation this weekend! Friday afternoon, Billy, Myles and I will pile into my car and make the 7-hour drive to Atlanta. We're staying with one of my closest friends, Julie and her husband Bryan. We are thrilled. This will be Myles' first trip!

While I love seeing new places, I am not a good traveler. I H-A-T-E to fly and while I enjoy a good road trip, it doesn't sound too appealing with a toddler. And, to be fair to him, it doesn't sound like much fun for him. As a result, Myles has never been out of the state...actually, he's only been two places - Treasure Island, FL (about 2.5 miles to the southwest) and Ocala, FL (about 90 miles north). Now that we're rapidly approaching 2.5, we felt it was time and Atlanta was the perfect place to go!

While there, we are taking Myles to Six Flags Over Georgia, where they have a massive Thomas the Tank Engine area and lots of rides, many of which he can ride. We're also going to the Georgia Aquarium and the Imagine That! Children's Museum. I've already started hyping the trip up to Myles. He knows he's going to see Thomas the Train and "the sharks." He's getting excited, but not as excited as me!

More to come, along with lots of pictures!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Entertaining a toddler during a never-ending Tropical Storm

Tropical Storm Fay has been sitting over us for more than 48 hours and it's not been easy for Myles. The schools (and his day care) are open one day (because it looks like it's heading out) and closed the next (because it decides to stall again). The poor kid has been indoors for 3 days. However, we've tried to have some indoor fun these ways:

1. Lots of coloring. Myles loves to have me draw shapes for him so that he can identify them. He can also draw a pretty nice looking circle. We've probably spent more time coloring these last 3 days than we have his entire life. It's actually been nice!

2. Playing different games with his beach ball. We've played monkey in the middle, worked on his throwing and catching skills and batted the ball around our huge coffee table (among the 3 of us) doing our best not to let it hit the floor. Of course, as soon as Myles realized the reaction it got when it did fall to the floor (Ohhhh noooooo!), he purposely let it drop each time it came his way.

3. Watching movies. Last night we watched about half of Peter Pan before bed. We've also watched Cars, Finding Nemo and parts of Meet the Robinsons (which belongs to some friends who have been on vacation).

What do you do when you're stuck inside with a toddler for such long stretches? Today is more of the care closed, winds high and rain heavy. If Fay doesn't go away very, very soon, I'm afraid we're all going to lose our minds!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

My head is ready to explode at work so I had to stop and breathe. Here's a fun recent photo from a park trip.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Free movies at UCF

Last night we took Myles to his first movie - a free showing of some cartoons on the UCF lawn, showing on a 26' screen. It was a gorgeous night and we were able to get a seat pretty close to the screen. But we were validated in our opinion that he's not quite ready for the movie theater yet when he decided he was done about 15-20 minutes in. Now, in his defense, we did get there about 45 minutes before they actually started. We wanted to get a seat up front and we wanted to sit on the lawn and eat some pizza (which you could order from your blanket with servers from the on-campus establishments walking around taking orders). And the movie itself really wasn't all that relevant for an active two year-old. But hey, we tried and we will most likely try one of these again because a) it's something to do and b) it's free. I certainly recommend these movies on the lawn to families with young kids in the area.

The area where they showed the movie (Knights Plaza, on campus) is beautifully decorated with lots of nicely lit trees. Here's a photo as we were leaving around 9.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The body of a mommy

I've been thinking a lot this year about my body. It sure has changed over the past 10 years, when I was a svelte 21 year-old Barbie doll! Gosh, even if I look back four years ago, the old body was much more attractive to the average eye.

And then I look at myself today. Sure, I'm up 11 pounds from where I was at 21. I'm up about 5 pounds from where I was four years ago. I never quite found my waistline again and my hips decided they'd keep about an extra inch or two. My legs started to sag a little. And I continued to look in People Magazine every week and cry inside that I didn't look like the women I see in its pages.

I made a pact with myself that I'd finally get that pre-pregnancy body back (2 years post-partum, mind you), joined Weight Watchers and got to work. Well, I lost those last few pregnancy pounds. But do you know what? As soon as I eased up, I put them all back on! It took me 6 weeks to take them off and 6 days to put them back on.

It was then that I realized my body is where it wants to be as a 31 year-old mom. And it was then that I decided I would love my body regardless if it was a size 8 (which it is) or a size 4 (which I so longed to be again).

Don't get me wrong - I still want to exercise and be in shape. And I know I need to eat right. Those choices should be a part of every person's lifestyle, thin or not thin. But what I'm no longer doing is depriving myself of a piece of cake if I want it. Or ordering skimpy salads with little to no dressing when I really want a chicken breast and fries. I'm learning to live with my body...all size 8 of it!

Here are a couple of pictures - one from four years ago, when I was "Barbie" (and that's Jen from Another Online Mom to my right!) and one from earlier this year, at Disney. You can't see my body well, especially on the first photo, but I'll have to post some different photos when I'm home and have access to them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My new layout

So I finally bit the bullet, sat down and took the time to find a more suitable layout for my site... you know, something that actually matches my personality. So thanks to my friend Katy of Another Mommie Blog, I came across this great blog designer named Lena. She had dozens of very cool designs that were fairly simple to download. Let me know your thoughts on the new blog if you have a minute.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Counting the days til August is over!

So I'm taking the idea for this post from my friend Jen's blog but this is something I was just thinking about this morning. I absolutely detest August! I think every Floridian must (unless you have a birthday this month)! It's hot, muggy and the amount of rain always seems to drop off, leaving my poor plants to shrivel up! It's even unbearable to go to a shady park and play on most August days. It's also a dead month in the hockey world (my favorite sport) and the holidays are all still too far away to get excited about. So while I H-A-T-E August every year (and dread it from about May until it's officially over), I've decided to find my Top 3 favorite things about it. This is something my husband has encouraged me to do, since he says I complain too much about the weather (wah, wah!). So here they are...enjoy (Billy)!

1. Mad Men is in season the entire month (my favorite TV show)
2. The fall clothing line is released (always very exciting for me)
3. My mom and my brother celebrate birthdays, which means two pieces of cake to gorge down

Are Jen and I alone in our overall disdain for August? What else is there to love about it? Please...I'm dying for reasons here!

Fun times...some old, some new

Well, the week of being a single mom (Billy was in California) is finally over and our goal over the weekend was to really re-connect again as a family and show Myles lots of fun. I think that goal was accomplished!

Truly, the highlight of the weekend was our Saturday trip to Wet & Wild, a nearby waterpark in Orlando. Billy's company was holding its annual picnic there, meaning the day was 100% free! What a fun time we had! The park was absolutely packed, so we spent most of our time in the kids area. This area, while fairly crowded, definitely offered room to breathe, and the company rented out three very large covered pavilions for its employees and families, with people only able to enter if they had on a wristband. These large pavilions came in handy when they shut everything down around noon for an hour to wait out a thunderstorm. Myles did ride on one slide - The Bubba Tub. Billy, Myles, and his co-worker and 4 year-old son waited 45 minutes to ride the five-story slide that features a gigantic tube taking on three drops. Myles looked petrified as he was coming down the final drop (I had a good view), but when they got to the bottom and we were all cheering for him, he let out an uneasy laugh and yelled "Again!" Of course, there was no again. Not with the lines.

We also had fun Sunday evening, as Myles and I went down to Shady Park for him to play in the splash fountain for about an hour. He loves the water and now that we're only about six weeks from the beginning of the seasonal change, we're getting in our last bits of fun.

We are also planning to go to Chick Fil A tomorrow night to see Mr. Richard give his monthly performance there for the kids. It's always a fun night, as Myles loves Mr. Richard. Hopefully this time, I can get some photos.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reasons I work

Sometimes people ask me why I choose to work when I have such a wonderful little boy who I could spend my days with. It's a fair question! After all, Myles is truly a joy and there are many days when I have a lot of guilt for leaving him with someone who certainly doesn't love him anywhere near the way I do. So I ponder the question...and offer some answers.

1. I really enjoy having a life outside of motherhood. I tried being home for about six months and didn't enjoy it at all. Now, in all fairness, Myles was at his most challenging while I was home and I felt very unprepared to deal with the challenges. I also felt very tired and found myself dying to get some time away from Myles, which is very unhealthy.

As a working mom, my life is much more routine (most days!). Myles and I spend some time together in the morning, we enjoy our car ride to the daycare center, I come to work on projects that generally don't require mommy skills, and I'm able to socialize with other adults. When 5:00 rolls around, I'm dashing out the door...dying to see Myles and create some memories.

2. I have no support network. With my closest family member living 50 minutes away (and she is very busy with 3 kids!), I typically cannot lean on family to just "give me a break." Usually, I can only get help in an extreme emergency. It's a little better during the summer when my mom is not working, but she, too, is 90 minutes away, hardly around the corner. I also have very, very few friends. The friends I've made in the past 10 years are all either in another state now, or they do not have kids. There are one or two exceptions but again, people are very busy and I can hardly fill much time with just one or two other moms to hang out with.

3. I enjoy having the extra money. It is always interpreted as a selfish statement, but I have to be honest here. I can't stand being "broke." I want to take a vacation every year (although that hasn't quite worked out yet) and I don't want to have to worry so much when we have to spend $5,000 to have our house re-plumbed (which we may be facing right now) or when a car needs major service. Particularly in these economic times, Billy and I are seeing our "net worth" dropping steadily before our our house has lost $50k in value in under three years and our investments have been losing money every quarter. In essence, if we were faced with an emergency, we wouldn't have a lot of money to fall back on if I stopped working and we were once again living paycheck-to-paycheck.

So there you have it. Straight from a working mom's mouth. I absolutely adore Myles...I would give up my life if it would save his. My heart does ache for him when I'm gone. But I've been on the other side...and this is the right one for me at this point in my life.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Positive discipline

Well, we had an incident with Myles this week that really caused me to stop and wonder what I'm doing wrong when it comes to discipline. We've settled into this routine where anytime we ask Myles to do something, he will ALWAYS either ignore us or say no (unless it's something like eating a piece of cake). So we'll sternly ask him again and sometimes even a 3rd time. When he still doesn't comply, we'll say Myles...Myles...Myles, are you listening to Mommy? (or Daddy) Our voice grows more stern with each syllable. He always looks over then to acknowledge us. Then we'll start he complies. He doesn't want us to get to three because when we do, he gets a swat on the bottom. (while many parents disagree with spanking, we do not as long as it's never done in anger)

This strategy, though, is getting old. And it's not correcting the root problem that he doesn't listen to us the first time we ask. So I've hit the Positive Discipline book again. I started reading it when Myles first started throwing tantrums and found he was a little too young for me to adopt many of its practices. At that age, only distraction was appropriate. But these days, Myles is clearly smarter and learning to manipulate. He's also pushing his boundaries more and more each day. As we observe his frustration at times, we realize we are simply not doing things the right way and something needs to change.

So while I am not a reader (I hate reading, actually), I will be reading this book in record time, hoping to bring Myles up in a loving, respectful environment...with limits.

If anyone else has any thoughts, suggestions or other good reads, please let me know. This is a difficult process, but a critical one. Myles' future depends on it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Isn't he just precious? We've all been sick so I'll have to catch up tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our new addition

Ha! I'll bet I fooled some people with that title! Nope, no babies here...instead, we have added our newest toy to the household and it's a goodie! Myles is really into "meanies" right now. Anything with "big teeth" is a winner...sharks, alligators, T-Rex dinosaurs, etc.

So while at Toys R Us tonight (where we were purchasing something for a brand new baby), we came across this dinosaur, which Myles HAD to have! Although Myles is acting a little timid with him for the time being - especially when he coils his entire body and roars - I expect that he'll be a household favorite very soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My dancing friend

I've never thought of Myles as much of a dancer. Heck, he never even seemed all that into music. After all, Kindermusik class was more about chasing him around the room than actually participating in the songs and activities! But maybe he's about to prove me wrong...or perhaps he was simply waiting to hear music that lived up to his taste!

We took Myles to see Mr. Richard, a talented local children's musician, at Chick-Fil-A last night. It was our second time seeing Mr. Richard, with Myles showing "some" interest in June. But tonight was different. Myles really seemed awed and into the music. He remembered a Mr. Richard song from the last time we saw him called "Sloopy Doop" and he wanted to hear him. So I took him up to put in his request. He DANCED throughout the entire song and laughed out loud in the greatest joyful spirit you've ever seen. He was having a great time! He had Mr. Richard laughing, because - in typical Myles fashion - it wasn't enough to just dance. He wanted to PLAY. the guitar! He got right up in face of the guitar and started lightly touching it during the song. Before the night was over, Mr. Richard was showing Myles how to strum a chord. It was very cool and even more cute!

Oh, and I bought Myles the newest Mr. Richard CD while there (which sadly, does not have Sloopy Doop on it). It was signed, "To my dancing friend, Myles." Your friend, Richard.

How sweet is that! Check out Mr. Richard's site here...if you aren't local and don't know of him, he's fabulous and has something about him that kids love. Check him out!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Myles and his best buddy

So last night was rainy, canceling our plans to head down to Lake Eola for some playtime. Instead, we did something even better...Myles got to see his best buddy, Calvin for the first time in almost 2 months! Calvin's mommy, Jade, had her second baby in early June and we have tried to give them the space they needed to adjust to life as a family of four. Now that they are fairly well adjusted, we were able to resume the friendship. I haven't seen that little boy so excited in a long time! When they pulled into the driveway, he was literally shaking, he was laughing and smiling so hard.

It was really neat to meet Elijah, the new baby, and see how amazingly well Jade is doing as a mommy to two boys! She's truly an inspiration! And of course, it was very sweet to see Myles and Calvin pick up where they left off, just being boys and having fun. I hope we'll have more playdates with Calvin was too long!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free gas offer!

Kraft and Publix are teaming up to offer $10 ExxonMobil gas cards to people who buy $50 worth of groceries, including four products from Kraft. The product mix that qualifies for the rebate is comprehensive -- including Capri Sun, Crystal Light on-the-go packs, Handi-Snacks pudding, Kraft salad dressing, Kraft mayo, mac & cheese, Oscar Mayer Lunchables, Post cereal and more.

You may receive a total of three $10 gas cards through this promotion by only submitting one form. However, you do have to spend $50 for each card, and receipts have to be dated between 7/7/08 and 7/27/08. The complete details are available on the mail-in rebate form here.

Thanks to the Orlando Sentinel Frugal Force blog for this great tidbit! Happy shopping!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My date with Myles

So Billy's mother came to town this weekend for our niece's birthday tea party and decided to stay at our house after the party. Billy owed her a "date" for her birthday in June. They decided to go and see a 3-D movie, giving me and Myles the perfect chance for our own mother/son date.

Of course, Myles and I went on a date where the main attraction was food...a new gourmet cupcake shop in Waterford Lakes called "Sweet." OK, this is precisely why I had to confess in a recent blog about my poor ability to instill good eating habits. But when I heard about this place Friday night, there was no way I was passing it up! My cupcake was one of the most delicious, heavenly things I've ever tasted!!! And Myles got a "kids" cupcake, which was about half the size of mine but came with a side order of M&Ms and gummy bears. Holy cow, you could have heard a pin drop at our table! We were both simply swept away by this decadent food!

We're heading to Monkey Joe's later this afternoon for some fun bouncing and to run off some energy. Gramma Mac (Billy's mom) will be joining us. Here's to trying to squeeze out every last minute of fun from this weekend!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teaching good eating habits

I have to confess...I am a poor eater. If I could, I'd live on chocolate, Mexican food and Diet Coke. Of course, since I don't have a death wish, I avoid this type of diet. But oh, the thought of it makes me hungry this very second!

With a never-at-rest sweet tooth and wishy-washy willpower, I have not done the best job instilling a good diet in Myles. He, like me, LOVES chocolate and anything else sweet that he can get his little hands on. He hates vegetables, can do without most meats and eats only a select few fruits. The only other food he seems to be addicted to (other than sweets) are carbs.

I've gone many a day to pick him up at day care, only to learn he ate 'only bread' at lunch. He tends to do a little better at breakfast and they always inform me he 'makes up for his lack of lunch' during snack. Of course, that's on days when they aren't serving carrot sticks for snack!

I've always been amazed by moms who make their own baby food, as well as those who engage in the debate of whether to buy organic or not. Organic!?! I am lucky to get my kid to eat ANY fruits or veggies so I couldn't care less if, when he does eat something good for him, it is organic. Our pediatrician told me to simply continue offering him a variety of foods. "Sooner or later, he'll try them," she insists. Meanwhile, I have to be sure that when I do put the dreaded green beans on his plate, it is accompanied by mac & cheese and a hot dog.

I'm not even close to giving up on this fight. But I now realize some mistakes I've made along the way that have led him to be such a picky eater. Mistake #1: my diet.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireworks for the 4th

Myles spent July 2-July 5 sick. He caught pink eye and also had an ear infection, which required antibiotics that caused diarrhea. It was not a fun weekend. However, we did manage to get out to some 4th of July fireworks that night. He was up and down all weekend and that night happened to be an "up" so we took advantage. We stayed in the car for most of the fireworks display but he was able to see a nice sampling for about 15-20 minutes, before we decided to call it a night and try to beat the traffic out of there.

Poor little boy was so's put me back in the "no more kids" camp. What the heck would I do with TWO sick kids? Or even one sick kid and another one to try to entertain and keep well? How do people do it!? With me being as wishy-washy as I am on the topic, we're certainly not going to have another one soon. We need to feel much more strongly than this!

On a positive note, I'm very fortunate to have such an understanding boss. When the daycare called at noon on the 2nd, telling me I needed to pick him up, she didn't bat an eye. This makes it much easier to maintain a career. And fortunately, I'm never so buried in work that I can't make up for time missed due to a sick child. It's all-around the right situation for a working mom!

Here are a couple of photos from the weekend - one as we celebrated my dad's birthday and the other of Myles at a local Ocala park.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lessons still being learned

I was talking with a childless, married friend today and she was surprised to read on this blog that we are considering another child. I've said for a long time that one is plenty for me. As I typed an e-mail to me, I had a revelation about why I am now open to another (not certain though), after saying for so long that I was done. It's because I've finally become comfortable in my mommy skin. Parenthood has taken more of a toll on me than anything in my life. It should, right? But I never expected what I got when I became a mom. And up until about 4-5 months ago, I just didn't feel "right." I didn't feel like everything had clicked for me. The challenges of raising a child felt like giant mountains that I couldn't even think about climbing.

It all changed when Myles started communicating with us. He was a late bloomer when it came to verbal communication. I even had him assessed early in the year for a speech and/or developmental disorder. But when the words started flowing more - around 22-23 months - I suddenly felt like I could do this. He and I began connecting on deeper levels (although I always felt connected to him and have deeply loved him since I first laid eyes on him). As we began communicating, I felt like I could better understand him. It was extremely powerful in helping me move past my insecurities as a mom and embracing the challenge.

I recognize now that parenthood is filled with constant ups and downs. The ups are tremendous highs and the lows can be pretty scary. 18 months was the scariest for us thus far, with tantrums and self-destructive behavior at their peak. And while we're on a high right now, I know the next low is right around the corner. As I've heard from many moms, raising a child doesn't get easier, just different. I know that is true. The struggles of raising a newborn were nothing like those of raising a toddler. Now, as Myles enters the "older toddler" stage, the challenges we do face are once again new.

Now that I've accepted this - and am OK with it and confident in my abilities as a mom - I am willing to entertain the idea of giving Myles a sibling. Of course, Billy still needs to be convinced (as does the "logical" side of me). But you never know!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekend plans

We've been proactive, making more plans with friends this weekend than we have in a while. I've learned that as a working family, it is VERY difficult to maintain friendships! So many things have to fall into place to ever be able to see people. And you're often limited to hanging out with other people with kids. Nobody without kids REALLY wants to hang out with another couple and their kid...regardless of how "good" the kid is.

Anyway, I digress. We are having a small Poker night at our house with two other couples (one with a child close to Myles' age). It will be great to socialize with friends! We just do so little of that any more! And to cap that off, we're meeting up with Jen (from Another Online Mom) for a family playdate tomorrow. Jen is one of those friends who I truly adore, and who I know I could see more often if I put forth more effort. We live pretty close to one another and have children with similar interests.

Of course, this weekend, Myles will have to share our attention with other people. Hopefully he'll enjoy the company of other children as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Do I think too much?

I'm going through one of my funks. Suddenly, I'm feeling really guilty about all of the time I spend at work - and not with Myles. I remind myself that I tried being a SAHM and absolutely did not feel cut out for the job. I craved being back at work, around adults and dealing with marketing and communication strategy. I have little to no support system around me and staying at home often felt lonely and very stressful. When I think about it, I know I don't want to be back in that place.

But that doesn't change the fact that I feel AWFUL when I drop him off in the morning. I wonder if I'm permanently damaging him by leaving him day after day, as he asks me not to. I wonder if he understands that he can still depend on me...and that I love him more than anyone (except his daddy)! I wonder if one day soon he will just stop asking me to be with him, for fear that the answer will be no. I just wonder what his mind can comprehend.

Then there's the whole issue of having a second child. My husband often talks about getting a vasectomy. I would have happily obliged a year, or maybe even 6 months ago. But as time goes on, I become more and more interested in another one. Then I start thinking about it, as I do everything. Here are the big strikes against having another:

1. I don't have enough time for Myles, let alone another child. He already only gets a few hours a day with me during the week. Do I really want to cut that in half?! I think not. And I've heard the argument about how having another will enable them to spend time together and not rely on me so much. I am sure that's true, but I don't like that thought. It's like I'm pawning them off on each other.

2. Financially, unless something changes, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for me to continue working when paying for childcare for 2. I believe we'd be paying about $400/week if they were both at the daycare Myles attends now. That's a lot of money. And that brings the discussion back to me not being so thrilled with being a SAHM.

3. In the event I did continue to work, I would have to deal with the guilt of dropping TWO kids off at daycare. And that is what I really can't imagine.

Couple these three big concerns with the stress of having two...going through the sleepless nights again, teething, etc. and it becomes much less appealing. I won't say at this point whether we will or will not have another. I've never been one to make decisions on emotion. As I said at the beginning of this post, I think WAY too much!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The childcare dilemma

So this was a difficult morning. Myles has basically been on vacation for 2 weeks (with the exception of a few days) and today it was back to reality. Every working mom endures the challenge of who will help care for her child(ren). In our case, Myles is in daycare. He started about 4 weeks ago and the last 2 weeks have been chaotic with vacation.

This morning, when we arrived, he put on a forced smile as we walked up the steps to his 2nd floor classroom. He asked to be picked up, which I did. When we entered the classroom, there was some chaos, as something had obviously just happened with one of the students and the classroom mouse (yes, they have a pet mouse, "Mopsy," who is in a glass display). Amid everything, noone even acknowledged us or said good morning to Myles. I was crushed. I struggle enough with getting him to stay each morning without crying...I really need the teachers' help by at least greeting him and making him feel welcome! Not today. So I walked him over to the window where a few of the boys were gathered with some blocks. I told him to look out the window and told him I'd wave to him from outside. We'd never done this before.

He gave me a long hug and a kiss, I told him I love him and that I would be back soon for him. I reminded him before I left to watch for me out the window.

I raced down the stairs and into the parking lot and looked up. There are blinds on the windows so it's difficult to see. And while I couldn't see him, I did see little fingers poking between the blind slats exactly where I'd left him standing. I waved and smiled and blew him a kiss. I got in the car, rolled down the window and looked up again, still seeing those fingers.

This morning, it crushed me to leave him. I felt like I was leaving him alone. I cried when I got to work and have been sad all day. Every time I think of those little fingers, my eyes begin to fill up with tears.

As I said when I started this post, every working mom has to struggle with childcare. And while I am confident I want to work, I still question where I have him. I know I have to give it time, as he has only been there 4 weeks and they have been interrupted by vacation. I also know we have been very spoiled, as he's always been under the care of a nanny. But circumstances now have forced this transition. We really have no other options, other than for me to stay home. I know I don't want this. But I also know I don't want any more mornings like this one.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Disney, Disney

Myles went to breakfast with the Disney characters Friday morning. His Meme and Papa took him while they were in town for their vacation. Myles met Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip and Dale and I'm told he had a blast. I do wish this was something I could have taken him to but hopefully there will be plenty of new and fun times this summer. Here are some summer plans we have:

  • Go to the beach (once a month)
  • Return to Orange Lake each month for swimming down the Lazy River and games at their incredible arcade
  • Splash grounds! Downey Park, Torcaso Park and Shady Park (Hannibal Square) are all good.
  • Monkey Joe's (probably once a month)
  • Rock Springs (I hear it's a great place for kids and a fun place to rent a tube)
  • Discover new parks. We go to parks A LOT. After all, they are free entertainment. But I know there are quite a few that we haven't made it to, which are well reviewed.
  • Hang out at the airport and watch the jets taking off and landing. We've wanted to do this for a while.
You'll note that none of the parks are on this list. That's because they are not worth the money you pay to be there over the summer. You'll stand in lines all day and sweat like a pig. It's much better to go when the weather least well into October. Have I left anything off? What are you and your family doing this summer?

What to do for a great daddy

Today is Father's Day and I feel that we have so much to be thankful for with Billy. He is an amazing Daddy in every way you can imagine! He has taught me so much about parenting...mostly to relax and let Myles have fun and learn through experiences (good and bad). It is largely because of him that we stay so active as a family and find so many fun things to do. He is a person who can't stand to sit around and loves to be with others.

He is also a great teacher. He has a way of talking to Myles and showing him how things work that sticks. His patience is unmatched (especially by me) and his love is very, very deep for his son.

So what do you do for such an amazing man on his special day? I asked him that and didn't get a very clear answer (you often don't from men). So I decided to give him the gift of time. We all went to breakfast this morning with my parents. My dad is very ill so it's important to me to spend more time with him. Thankfully Billy is very understanding. He is now napping (a rarity) and I plan to hang out with Myles as much as he'd like. We're ordering Outback tonight - his favorite restaurant - and will probably eat it at a park somewhere, as long as it isn't too steaming hot. We do lots of family picnics at parks with nice playgrounds. It's generally cheap and lots of fun for Myles.

What are you doing for your husband (or dad)?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We are still alive!

We have been busy with family vacations the past 10 days or so. We had a very fun weekend, mostly spent at the lazy river pool at my parents' resort in Kissimmee. We got some sun but thankfully, no burns. Myles also went with his grandparents to Disney's Legoland so that Billy and I could enjoy some time together. He's home for a couple of days, but my parents have tickets Friday morning to a Disney character breakfast, where Myles will eat breakfast with all of the main Disney characters, taking lots of pictures as he goes.

I wish I could be there, but between vacation, my nana's death, childcare issues and a sudden root canal, I've missed enough work. I'll be posting my dad's photos soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Whirlwind summer days

The past week has truly been a whirlwind. Myles has been everywhere it seems, from a daddy/son day Friday at Lake Eola Park and Shady Park (with its always fun splash fountain) to a last minute surprise trip to Treasure Island on the Gulf Coast.

Let's start with Eola. It's one of Central Florida's best parks. Nestled right downtown on the shores of possibly Orlando's most photographed lake, the playground is modern and challenging for the kids. Of course, it is usually crowded as well so be prepared for that. From what I heard, they had a great time of bonding and spent a long 2+ hours running around like boys do best!

Shady Park is also a treat. It's right in the heart of Winter Park, across from Dexter's on Pennsylvania. It's often quieter (and nicely shaded, hence the name), but boasts a fabulous fountain that toddlers just love to run through on hot summer days. This day was no exception.

We decided on Treasure Island Saturday morning. My family flies in from around the country each year to enjoy the first week of June there. This year, following the sudden loss of my grandmother, it was important to be there. So I took June 5-6 off work to spend a few days there with everyone. They were all arriving May 31 and that morning, after I had my hair done at the salon, we decided to surprise everyone and spend the weekend.

Myles had a BALL! We went down to the beach, where he challenged every wave. We also spent hours at the resort pool. He jumped into the pool over and over again until he could barely walk. That's our boy! I uploaded a few photos from the weekend, just to give an idea of the fun times we are having. Here's to a fun-filled, exciting summer with our 2 year-old!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

We had lots of fun this Memorial Day weekend! It all started Saturday morning, at Torcaso Park. If you haven't been yet, you should really go. It's a very quiet park in Winter Springs. What makes it fun is it not only has a play area, but a fountain, which is something most toddlers love! Myles, Daddy and I had a ball as the only three people running around in the fountain for about 45 minutes. Once he'd had enough, we played on the playground until it was a little too hot for comfort. It was a great morning and once again, free. Do you see a pattern with me?

On Sunday, after a very busy morning completing tons of errands, we finally headed to Ocala to Meme and Papa's house at around 2 p.m. Myles had been begging all morning to go. He knew it was Sunday and that was the day we were going. We played in the pool for well over an hour and had a nice dinner that night. We watched Disney Cars (of course) and called it a night. 

On Monday, we had a BBQ planned by the pool. We spent lots of time swimming again; for a while just me and Myles. We played and played, took a short snooze and then spent some time outside with family. It was lots of fun for our boy, as EVERYONE was around...Mommy, Daddy, Meme, Papa, Gramma Mac, Aunt Jayme, Uncle Justin and Shannon. Jayme had just celebrated her birthday on the 23rd so we had some cake after we ate grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad and whatever else we could stuff in our bellies. These holiday weekends are perfect times to reconnect with family and spend time outdoors. It helps to have a pool to enjoy, especially in the Florida heat. Now it's back to the routine!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We finished Kindermusik!

Myles is officially a Kindermusik graduate! We had our last class this morning with him still pretty much ignoring much of the structure of the class and choosing to run laps around the perimeter while occasionally bolting out the door and running down the hall. We probably won't sign up again (I don't think I could stand chasing after him like that for another 15 weeks) but it as a good experience and we came away with Myles understanding music better and even playing a few games to music (like the "fall down" game and "floating down the river"). I've looked into what else is available for children his age in this area and there is no shortage of options. We're considering taking swimming lessons again over the summer but it will largely depend on whether we can take an evening class and what the cost is. Unfortunately, like many other families, we are cutting back to cover expenses like gas and food. We're also considering putting him in a tumbling class, which I know he will enjoy. Of course, we were enrolled in Gymboree for a year so it is still around, as well as several Gymboree knock-offs like Little Gym.

What classes have your kids had good experiences with?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sleep struggles

We have a problem. Our 2 year-old does not want to sleep. I thought this was a problem with newborns...or teenagers! Not my 2 year-old! But here we's a big struggle to get him to bed every night. If Bill and I don't thoroughly WEAR HIM OUT for at least a solid hour in the evening, he will fight bedtime tooth and nail. And mind you, bedtime is often not until 9pm.

Last night we made the mistake of staying inside for the evening. Myles and I sat on the porch for about 20 minutes playing with some of his cars and enjoying the nice breeze, but we certainly weren't burning any energy. And we paid. It was 9:30 when he finally closed his eyes for the night. I told my husband that at least we could probably expect him to sleep until 7 or 7:30, rather than his usual 6:30. Not so. At 6:00 sharp, his door swung open. He waltzed into our room, where it was still pitch dark, and declared, "Mama, up!" My response: "Myles, night-night!" And it went from there, with him remaining awake, on only 8.5 hours of sleep! This is less time than Bill and I try to get each night! Is this for real?

On the bright side, I do look forward to seeing that smiling face each morning. I just wish he'd wait until the sun was out and I was a little more refreshed. If anyone has any comments on how to get a 2 year-old to sleep more, I'm all ears!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

6 quirky things about me!

Following suit, from Jennifer at Another Online Mom, I am going to tell you six quirky things about me.

1. I love to travel and see new places, but I H-A-T-E to fly! I actually hate flying more and more as I get older.

2. I wind down at night by playing Freecell Solitaire.

3. I am a severe introvert and often wish I had friends, but yet I choose to have hobbiees like blogging (and playing Freecell), which are things people typically do alone.

4. My husband and I are only planning to have one child.

5. If I weren't in my current career, I would try to work for an NHL hockey team.

6. I have seen Disney's Cars Movie at least 50 times. It's Myles' absolute favorite!

Okay, I tag Katy to go next!