Friday, January 27, 2012

Happily in the Past

I was looking at a newsletter I get via email earlier tonight and realized the entire thing consisted of items, products, and stuff relevant to a stage of parenting I am officially PAST.

Everything in it - pacifiers, nursing pillows, diaper bags, baby carriers - was all stuff I can (happily!) say I'm over and no longer need!

I spend a lot of time being sad about moving out of those baby years.  I can spend hours missing the sweet smell, sounds, and "ease" of a snugly baby. So, I think it's helpful (and healthy!) to focus on the positive things about moving beyond the proverbial balls & chains of those early years.

Now, mind you, my boys are only 3 and 5 so we're not completely out of the woods yet, but there is still a lot of freedom to be seen as they get older.  Sure, I still grab a (pre-packed) bag with extra clothes and undies in it, just in case.  I still have occasion to pack that "emergency" snack and/or toy to occupy and distract a bored child.  But the light at the end of that tunnel is BRIGHT.  

I recently packed the boys up for an overnight at Grandma & Grandpa's so Dave and I could have adult time at the Fire Department banquet.  I used to have to pack two weeks worth of stuff for two boys to take a two day trip.  This time, I packed one small bag (with PJs, toothbrushes, and clothes for the next day) and a pile of blankets & Pillow Pets.  End. Of. Story.  Loved it!

Now I can throw the boys in the car (NOT literally!) and run to the store, visit a friend, grab dinner, or what have you, without a big "to do" (whatever that even means!).  

There's a breath of fresh air to be found in their independence (they WALK by themselves, mostly, buckle and unbuckle their own car seats, mostly, and can even help carry things!).  I have recently even begun (*gasp!) taking the stroller out of my trunk!!  I find I use it so infrequently these days.  (I KNOW!)

However, there is still that issue of what to do with all this stuff we've "outgrown"...I have a basement full of "useless" (to us) stuff - changing table, high chair, crib, boxes and boxes of clothes, bumbo, toys - I just can't bring myself to pass it on.

Hmmm...I guess I'm not far enough removed not to have an emotional attachment to this stuff.  So, perhaps I'm not as far past this stage as I thought?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


We attended our first fire department banquet the other night.  I wasn't sure what to expect but it was a lot of fun.  The highlight of the night, of course, was Dave winning two awards.  

The first was for Most Active in Company Training.  

Then, much to both our surprise, Dave was given the Chief's Award for his help and assistance with firematic duties.  

The best part, though, came when the boys got home to see Daddy's awards.

Nate was so excited and in complete awe of Daddy's achievements.

He was so proud of his father and I loved seeing the gleam in his eye.

Of course within minutes, (as fully expected!) Nate asked if he could put these prized possessions on the collection shelf in his room.  

So Daddy obliged.  

As I left the room, I heard Nate whisper "I'm so proud of you, Daddy" as he kissed the plaque on the wall.  *sigh*  So precious.

Another First...Lost TEETH!

We have achieved another first in our family.  Last week (January 13th to be exact), Nathaniel came home from school and we went about our evening as usual.  Ate dinner (spaghetti with meat sauce), watched a movie, snuggled on the couch.  At bedtime I told the boys to go brush their teeth.  After brushing they always come "eeee" and "Ahhhh" for me so I can do an inspection of their "work".  

So, Nate comes out, asks how he did and I say "Um, Dude, where's your tooth?!?!?" 

He had a big gaping hole in his teeth where one tooth had been and another hung on for dear life.  So I grabbed a hold of his remaining loose tooth and when he pulled his head away the tooth stayed firmly between my two fingers.

Of course he then began to bleed.  Let me just say, for a boy who revels in blood and doom and gloom, he totally freaked out.

The gamut of emotions he proceeded to work through was, in a word, hilarious.  I hope that doesn't sound mean.  But he was all over the place.  He cried.  He screamed.  He laughed.  He thought he might bleed to death.  He was afraid his friends would pick on him and think he was a freak. 


Then he'd get all excited and giddy.  Followed by upset that the tooth fairy would be mad that he lost (swallowed?) his first tooth.  Sprinkled with some more giddy, some nervous laughter, and even more crying.  I could not keep up.

He was very excited to (finally!) get to use the "Army Fire Truck" tooth pillow Grandma made for him.  He proudly tucked his tooth inside and excitedly went to bed, full of questions about the tooth fairy and what she would do about his missing tooth.

The next morning he awoke to TWO shiny quarters (the tooth fairy is hurting from the economy, too, you know!) and a neatly printed (and funky folded) note from the Tooth Fairy about how proud she was and that it was ok that he lost his tooth.  She knew about it anyway.  And he was thrilled!

I still can't get quite used to the new "landscape" that is now my big boy's smile.  He looks so grown up with a gaping hole in his teeth.  It makes him lisp ever so slightly, too... which I love, but I assume that will go away like other adorable (and fleeting!) mannerisms and habits.  

I'm just so proud of my Bug.  What a handsome boy.  Congratulations, Nate!  One more milestone met!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ch, Cha, Cha, Changes

Lots has been going on here in the Smith Household the last few weeks/months.

Nate is in full swing in Kindergarten...he's seemingly moved on from the bully incident(s) and I'm finally in (some sort of) a groove to keep up with all his nightly/weekly homework, reading requirements, and projects.  Every day he comes home with some story of kissing Lily or asking Paige to marry him (!)...his idea of the most tragic day ever is when someone breaks his crayon or hits him with a piece of paper at play time.

Dave has (finally!) gone to get a sleep study done, proving once and for all that he DOES in fact have sleep apnea (severe, actually - I won't say "I told you so", but...) and was fitted for his CPAP machine today.  Tonight is his first official night on it and I'm hoping to wake up to a new and improved (a.k.a. well rested) version of my husband.  That might require a miracle, though, so maybe I'll give it some time?

As for Alex...he's been complaining about his tummy hurting for a while and after the hundredth time or so Dave and I thought maybe he wasn't just using it as an excuse to avoid bedtime, nap time, cleaning up, etc.  So, I took him to the doctor's.  His pediatrician ruled out all the major threats (appendicitis, bowel obstruction, etc.) and sent us on our way with directions to monitor what he is eating and when he complains and instill a "do not flush" policy so we can see what his poop looks like.  Fun times.  By the time I got home, however, I had a call from the doctor saying his urine test had shown some sugar in his pee which can be a sign of diabetes.  So off to the blood lab we went the following morning.  We were told not to give him food or drink so we headed in first thing when they opened - 8 AM.  What a torturous experience THAT was!  One cranky phlebotomist, two unsuccessful attempts, and nearly three hours later and we were driving uptown in pursuit of a good phlebotomist who had a knack for sticking children with needles so we could finally feed our three-year-old! 

Long story short, his blood tests came back negative for diabetes (thank goodness!) and didn't show any other problems - if his stomach issues persisted we were to come back in for an ultrasound to check his gall bladder, kidneys, and other stuff.

Then I got a phone call from my mother, who for at least the third time, suggested I look into Celiac's Disease and the possibility of him having a gluten allergy.  I poo poo'd the idea, as I had at least twice before because, as an infant, Alex had been tested for a lactose intolerance and had come back negative on milk, soy, nut, and wheat allergies.  If he's not allergic to wheat, he can't have a gluten intolerance, right?!?!


It turns out the two are related, but not dependent of each other.  You can have one without the other and vice versa.  So, I started reading and just stuff started making sense - his suspected lactose intolerance that suddenly disappeared, his mystery anemia that didn't respond to supplements, his tiny size, his stomach issues, those stinky poops he's had since he was a BABY?  All of these things were indicative of a gluten intolerance.

So, I called my doctor, suggested this theory and was told it was worth trying.  After much reading, learning, and inquiring, some initial resistance from my husband (who has since come around) and a (more expensive than usual) grocery shopping trip, we started Alex on a gluten free diet.  We switched over his cereals, bought rice and quinoa pastas, substituted gluten free snacks, and inspected the labels on a hundred items in our cupboards to find which we could and couldn't feed him.

I'm happy to report (initially, of course) that after a little more than a week of being (mostly) gluten free (the occasional non-gf item sneaks through at school or when he "shares" with his brother or other kids), things are looking up.  The most notable difference to mention is that he's actually EATING.  He's always eaten like a mouse...little bits at a time, all day long.  But now, he'll clean his plate.  He hasn't complained about his tummy all week and seems less "naughty" than he had been leading up to this experiment.

Sure, it could all be a happy coincidence, but it definitely seems promising enough to stick it out - I've seen enough good change to keep going with it.  It certainly can't HURT, right?  

Worth its weight...

I was grumbling this morning as I woke up at 4 AM to find Nate in the living room with the television on, watching Rescue Heroes for the umpteen millionth time.  Alex had maneuvered his way into our bedroom (again!) and I (thought I) had two more hours to sleep before my alarm rudely reminded me that it was Monday and I had to go to work.

As I lay there, trying to kick my hubby hard enough to stop his snoring and repeatedly telling Alex to close his eyes because "it was the middle of the night" (more or less!)...I opened my eyes to find my beloved monkey staring at me with the biggest, most beautiful smile on his face.  Now, anyone who knows Alex knows he has a smile to DIE for.  It melts my heart.  Everytime.  4 AM is no different.

So, I smiled back and in his characteristic Alex way, he whispered, "Are you happy, Mommy?" (He usually asks that when he thinks he's in trouble or I'm upset with him - and it's usually worded as "Are you happy TO me, Mommy?"

I could have died right then.

These are the moments I'm gonna miss.  Aside from all the cute misuses of grammar and the funny things they call their most prized possessions...

This is the stuff that life and all its good times are made of.

I might complain about Alex's sleeping habits, get frustrated with his having to be physically attached to me at all times....but truth be told, I know these moments are fleeting.  I know they won't last.  And I know they are pure gold.  So I'm (secretly) ok with him curling up at my feet in the middle of the night, or having to be touching me to fall asleep at night.  It's (secretly) ok if he talks incessantly (about nothing) before falling asleep or asks me to sing him "Little Bunny Foo Foo" again and again.

Because when he turns to me in the middle of the night, as exhaustion is pulling me apart at my seams, pokes me in the nose and whispers "honk, honk...beep, beep"...all the frustration in the world melts away and I realize that this is worth its weight in gold and then some.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Heart Faces...Best Face Photo From 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge & Photography Tutorials 

This week's photo challenge over at I Heart Faces is "Best Face Photo from 2011".  I immediately thought of this picture, which always makes me smile!

I took this photo of my beloved Alex being his silly goofball self during the only significant snowfall we've had all year.  The snow lasted just until the sun rose and melted it all.  It has not been a typical winter in NY this year, so we were happy to get this snow, even if it didn't last until Christmas!  At least I have this photographic proof that it existed.  And who can resist that face?  Of course, it's one of my personal favorites :)  

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge –

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In the Wee Morning Hours...

It's 3 AM and I can't sleep.

I blame the cup of coffee I had at 8 o'clock...although it's probably more likely the 1,009 things I have bouncing around in my brain right now.

That's what brings me here.  To attempt a brain dump so I can go back to sleep...wish me luck!

Worry is primarily my topic of concern this evening (morning?).  Worry can be such a wasted emotion, for it doesn't solve anything yet still robs me of precious sleep and adds to my already high stress levels.

In a nutshell, my BFF has been having some mystery health issues (for someone who is the epitome of health and wellness, this is even more concerning!) - She's one of the strongest people I know so to see her "down and out" is distressing.  I wish I could swoop in, pick her up (as she always does for me) and make it all better.  I hope the recent round of testing she's had done comes back with some (positive and uplifting!) answers!

On a less dramatic note, Nate told me last night before bed that when he "swallowed spit, it hurt his neck really bad".  That has strep throat written all over it so I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worse.  I've been up three times tonight just to check on him.  I'm not sure what I'm even checking for (fever?) except that it (temporarily) puts my mind at ease so I can go back to sleep for another hour or two.  Except this time.  He's sounds asleep without a care in the world, and I'm here!  :)

Alex has also been saying his "tummy hurts" for the last day or two.  For a kid who is so tiny and eats so little, it has his father and I questioning if maybe there isn't something more there.  As my baby, I think I worry about him more anyway.

And personally, this growing older thing stinks.  I know I'm only 35, but lately I've had so many aches and pains I can't help but worry about all the "ailments" that come with age.  I've put on WAY too much weight lately (and I already had too much as it was!) and I notice a significant difference in the way my joints feel as a result.  My hips hurt, my feet hurt.  My body image is at an all time low and I need to do something but that evil cloud of depression is making it difficult to put a plan into motion.  That's a whole other post for a different day, though.

So, for now...I guess I'll go waste, er, I mean spend some time over on Pinterest.  Maybe someone has a board of ideas on how to get back to sleep before my boys get me up at 6 AM.  G'night, all!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Classic Grandpa

After posting some Christmas photos last week, my sister posted a photo on my Facebook wall and pointed out a theme she had noticed.  I, too, had further proof of this and found it too cute and funny not to share!

Here is a picture of my father, whom I still affectionately refer to as Geempa (Man, I wish that had stuck but of course Nate had to start PRONOUNCING things correctly, darn it!) holding his youngest grandchild, my niece, Coraleigh on Christmas Eve, 2011.

Here Grandpa is again, holding my son, Alex, in November 2008

(Are you sensing a theme yet?) 

Grandpa and my niece, Kensington
November 2008

And finally, Grandpa and his first born grandchild, Nathaniel.  
May 2006

We love you, Grandpa!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goodbye 2011

Easily, 2009 could have been called "the year of the concert" - for whatever reason I went to a LOT of concerts that year ("a lot" compared to the none that I usually go to!).  2010 was "the year of the fire departments".  Between visits, activities, open houses, etc., we spent a lot of time in and around fire trucks, fire houses, and with fire men and women.

This past year, 2011, will definitely go down as The Year of the Travel.  I took so many trips this year, I can't even remember where all of them took us!

The boys and I traveled to Long Island for a week in January and to Albany in May to visit Tiffany and Brielle while they were there on a work detail.  The whole family drove down to Pennsylvania in May for a fireman's convention and the boys and I made the trip again in August for a friend's wedding.  We took several trips up North to see family and stay at Grandma and Grandpa's "camp".  We went camping in various locations with numerous friends and frequented many festivals, carnivals, parades, and County/State Fairs.

 NYC, January 2011

 Pennsylvania Fire Expo, May 2011

Alex with Pink Eye in Albany

Albany, May 2011

Pennsylvania, August 2011

The highlight of our year, of course, was our cross-country train trip from NY to Portland, OR.  The boys and I traveled a total of nearly 140 hours on the train trip of a lifetime!!!  It was definitely a trip that will live in my my top 5 experiences of all time!

We had a lot of firsts this year, too...first ice skating trip, first family bowling excursion, first demolition derby, first controlled burn with the Fire Department, first day of school (Kindergarten for Nate and Nursery School for Alex), first swimming lesson, first tee ball game, first tractor pull....We got our first baby chicks who grew up to give us our first fresh eggs.  We found our first baby turtle that we made a friend until he grew up to outgrow his cage.  

I did my first photo shoots for people outside my immediate family, got my first kayak for my birthday, lost a couple classmates from high school, welcomed my new niece, Coraleigh Shae, met some photography goals I had set for myself, and had a stellar year at work with my grant success rate!  This year was also the first year (since getting married 6 years ago!) that Dave and I actually got to spend our anniversary together!!  He got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, too...finally his work rotation paid off!!  We'll take it every 6-7 years :)

This coming year I hope to meet more goals, purge more clutter from my life, be more positive, and spend as much time as physically possible with my family and friends.  I hope you all have a great 2012!