October 31, 2011

one dozen

Twelve years ago, a boy asked a girl to go out with him.

Her life hasn't been the same since.

October 27, 2011

track suit superstar

With what what we thought could be the last burst of nice fall weather over the weekend, Malcolm and I took some time to enjoy the great outdoors.

After a nice mother/son lunch on the patio, Malcolm was ready to take the yard by storm.

Then he was ready to take the ol' wagon for a spin.

Track suit: DC Superfriends (birthday gift)
Turtleneck: Electric Kids(thrifted for $0.50)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Starter (thrifted for $1.50)

Once that got old, rolling in the front yard (and its scattered piles of leaves) was tons of fun!

While we didn't leave our house, it was a very nice afternoon ... I have a feeling we'll both be pretty depressed when these types of days are behind us!

October 26, 2011

lunch with a two-year-old

It was all his idea ...

(And, yes, he finished the entire sandwich.)

October 25, 2011

when i grow up

I'm not sure why it's been on my mind lately, but I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life job-wise ...

What I want to be when I grow up.

I've been teaching in some capacity (whether it be in a physical classroom, at a for-profit tutoring company, or for the virtual school) for coming on five years ... And while I've had many positive moments and the jobs have been good for me in many ways, I just didn't find myself passionate about any of them (current situation included).

I've always said that I identify with being a "scientist" first and a "teacher" second, so maybe therein lies the problem ... As convenient and family-friendly as teaching may be for a young mother with her second child on the way, I don't think my heart is truly in the teaching profession (or has it ever been there).

I don't feel a "calling" like many teachers do.

I don't think that I love it.

So when my mind wanders to life after child-rearing (when my kids are in school themselves and I can "get back to work" for real), I just don't know if I want to spend the rest of my working years and all the way up to retirement in the classroom.

I don't know if I want to be "a teacher" forever.

I mean, if teaching were all about the content (science in my case) and how to effectively present it to students, I think I could very well manage ... But that's not what teaching is in most cases. Too much, I find it's all about the politics, or the administrative duties, or all the "extras" that a teacher must do every day. Or that it's about appeasing picky parents or taking the blame when a student fails.

I've grown up hearing that teaching is a "thankless job" (my uncle was a teacher), but now that I'm living it, and closing in on five years of being an educator, I'm really beginning to understand and I don't like it.

I don't like feeling like I should second-guess myself and/or my abilities. I don't like being told that I need to do more when I'm already giving so much of myself and my talents and my time. It's just not worth it to me. Maybe temporarily, while my children grow, but not forever.

Not as a life-long career.

But science.

Lovely, wonderful, rational science.

I could walk into a lab any day of the week and immediately feel at home ... Immediately feel like I belong, like I have all the answers and I don't have to wonder or second-guess. The more I stop and really think about it, the more I realize that science is truly is my thing. From the day I filled out my college application and indicated "Biology" as my major ... I guess it always has been.

But science doesn't lend itself to motherhood like teaching does ... And certainly not like my current virtual position, where I can stay at home with my children and work at the very same time.

With science comes childcare and guilt that I'm not home.

With science comes the sense that my kids are growing up and I'm not there to witness it.

With science there are fewer days off and less time to spend on vacation.

No, science isn't all flowers and rainbows either.

That's why it's so difficult for me to decide what I really (truly!) want to be when I grow up ...

Especially since I thought I was already there.

October 21, 2011

potty mouth

A couple of weeks ago, Malcolm learned a new word.

When playing in the living room.


When greeting me after a nap.


When laying on the floor and watching TV.


When asked, "What is (or was) in your diaper?" (Which I do many times a day since his little voice, and the way he says "Poop!" is so stinkin' cute.)


It seemed my kid had poop on the brain, so I did what any proactive mother would do ... I took his little potty chair down from the attic and placed it prominently in the bathroom.

Although I'd love to sit here and type how my genius son potty trained himself in twenty-four hours (or something like that), that just isn't the case ... Malcolm definitely understands the concept (he has been following me into the bathroom since he could crawl), but I can tell that he's not quite ready to take that next step.

For one, although he will tug at his diaper or tell me that there is some poop inside, he, just as often, will sit around in a dirty diaper without any fuss until I grab the diapering supplies and go to it. And as much as he enjoys sitting on his potty chair fully clothed (and wiping his diapered butt with toilet paper), he doesn't seem to have much time for it when he is naked and actually able to use it.

I don't know what "the norm" is for boys and potty training, but I honestly hadn't given any of it much thought until Malcolm decided that "Poop!" was a fun word to say.

I'd love to have him out of diapers before Baby #2 arrives in March, but I'm not holding my breath.

As I've seen firsthand with his verbal abilities, Malcolm works on Malcolm's timetable. He doesn't care if I want him to be able to really communicate with me (although his ASL signing skills have certainly helped in that department). He doesn't care if family members insist that something must be wrong with him and we should get his hearing checked. He doesn't care if the kids around him are spouting off words left and right ...

He does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.

I have no doubt that potty training will be exactly the same. Malcolm will decide that big boy underpants are cool as soon as he feels like they're worth his time.

So, until that fateful day, the potty chair will sit (gathering dust) in our bathroom, prompting a gleeful "Poop!" from Malcolm every time he notices it.

And I'm totally okay with that.

(Did I mention how stinkin' cute it is when his little voice says "Poop!"?)

October 20, 2011

(more) fun on the farm

Another afternoon at Mapleside Farms, another fun family outing.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves ...

Long-sleeved Shirt: Faded Glory (thrifted for $1.00)
Overalls: Old Navy (hand-me-down gift)
Hooded Sweatshirt: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Starter (thrifted for $1.50)

As you can see, Malcolm had an excellent time!

October 18, 2011

last october

I was browsing through my photo files and made the mistake of checking out last year's October collection ...

Yet another reminder of how much Malcolm has grown in the short span of a year.

I guess he really is ready to be a big brother ...

October 14, 2011

(both of my) boys will be boys

Here's a haiku to take us into the much needed (for me anyway) weekend ...

It's also a mini-glimpse into the ridiculousness that is life with two boys.

Son in a bear hug.
"How can you escape, Malcolm?!"
Crack! Surprise head-butt.

Note: Unfortunately, I did not snap a photo of the shiner that immediately began developing under my husband's right eye ... I think the memory will be enough for him to think twice the next time he wants to playfully restrain our smarty-pants, problem-solving toddler!

October 13, 2011

my legacy

Over the weekend, we took a trip out to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to visit my old stomping ground ... Saint Vincent College.

I hadn't been there in years and although it looked and felt pretty much the same, there were many noticeable differences. Things were updated, roads changed, buildings remodeled and revamped (and in some cases added) ... And seeing my two-year-old son there, in the midst of it all, made it a bit surreal.

I mean, wasn't I just an undergraduate, living in the dorms and participating in a long-distance relationship with my high school sweetheart?

Didn't I just walk down this same path, eat this same college food?

I know I stood in awe of the same fall colors ... Enjoyed the warm, sunny days when I wasn't toiling away on my Biology homework.

Tee-shirt: Sonoma (thrifted for $1.00)
Dress shirt: Gymboree (thrifted for $1.00)
Jeans: Ocean Pacific (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Toddler University (thrifted for $1.50)

And yet, here it is, almost eight years later.

This time, my husband (then-high school sweetheart) and I, are not alone on campus.

We're bringing our son.

My legacy should he decide to attend Saint Vincent when he graduates from high school ...

Maybe he'll get to use the remodeled, restructured, re-everything Science building.

He already seems to have an interest in the brand new lab spaces and equipment ...

My science-nerd ways must be rubbing off on him!

I'm sure he'd make me proud ...

October 11, 2011

credit where credit is due

Malcolm is a good kid.

A really good kid.

He has an agreeable attitude and a laid-back personality.

He's a good eater.

He can occupy himself with books and toys.

He's a great sleeper and partakes in his naps and bedtime quite willingly (and on a pretty consistent schedule).

He follows directions (most of the time).

Yes, he is a wonderful little boy ... Yet I refuse to believe that all of these attributes are merely genetics in action.

A random shuffling of the dice ...

A lucky mingling of a specific sperm and egg ...

As the arrival of Baby #2 is made known to family and friends, the same general message keeps rearing its head:

"You lucked out with your firstborn ... Be prepared for this next kid to be a holy terror!"

But is it all really just the luck of the draw?

I don't think so.

I think that parenting (or "nurture" if you're thinking of the age-old debate) also plays a major role in how a child eventually behaves ... Parents are often blamed when things go wrong with their kids ... So why shouldn't I get some of the credit when my kid is so, so right?

From the very beginning, I was diligent to make sure the Malcolm had a predictable routine to govern his days (and nights). Sure, as a baby, this "routine" was very fluid and mainly consisted of eating, sleeping, and playing at similar times each day ... But, as time went on, the routine remained an important part our day-to-day lives, often signalling when certain activities would end and others would begin.

I remember, when Malcolm was about four months old, mapping out (in a notebook) when he typically preferred to eat and sleep so that I could establish a nap schedule for him ... Set times where he would go down for a nap each day.

Certain family members scoffed at the idea ...

Who puts a four-month-old on a schedule?!

You just don't do that!

But I did.

And it worked.

Malcolm fell into it beautifully.

And from four months on, Malcolm knew what to expect from each day ... And this, I think, has always been comforting to him.


Maybe it's the teacher in me, but who seriously prefers a day that is nothing but chaos? If you are a student, you want to know when class begins and ends ... You want to know what's next, where you are going, what you will be doing ... In fact, it's safe to say that you look forward to certain parts of the day!

So why would a young child (at home) be any different?

I have seen children without a schedule and have heard the frustrations of other mothers whose kids "do not sleep" or "are out of control" on a daily basis. While, yes, a child's personality and temperament play a role (obviously, every kid is genetically different), routine can do so much to alleviate many of the things that drive parents crazy.

Maybe a child isn't "out of control" because they are just wired that way ... Maybe they are tired! Maybe they should have been put down for a nap earlier in the day! Maybe they are bored and need something to do! Maybe they don't realize it is time to start winding down for bedtime because they don't have any signals to tell them so ...

Malcolm has these moments, too (All kids have their moments!) ... But I try to use them to my advantage.

I learn from them.

If the routine has stopped working I tweak it so that it will again.

I am the parent.

I am in charge ... And I strongly believe that Malcolm is growing up better for it.

I guess my husband and I will really see if our parenting is as good as we think it is when the Baby #2 does arrive ... I know we'll continue to use many of the same things that were put in place when Malcolm was an infant two years ago ...

I know that there will eventually be more nap schedules, structured days, and bedtime routines ...

And I know that, despite what genetic differences there may be between my children, a routine will always be a part of our day.

While I will not end up with another "Malcolm" at the end of this pregnancy, I have no reason to dread the "holy terror" that many are predicting.

Famous last words?

Who knows ...

I still refuse to believe nature trumps all.

Good parents deserve some credit, too!

October 7, 2011

doing things the hard way

I have always been a pretty stubborn person ... Just ask my husband and (I'm positive) he'll have many examples at the ready ... So, "planning" for the birth of Malcolm over two years ago was cause for much drama in our house.

I vividly remember shedding tears of frustration during a conversation about how I wanted the birth to go ... My husband just didn't (couldn't) understand that I, in no way, shape, or form (barring an emergency situation), was going to allow an epidural within fifty feet of my body. He didn't understand that the option of receiving an epidural wasn't an option for me.

As far as I was concerned, it didn't even exist.

"Why can't you just say that you'll consider it?" He kept asking. "That you'll get one if things get really bad?"

Really bad. Ha!

(I definitely am familiar with "really bad!")

I know now that his concern was out of worry that he'd be unable to watch me go through the painful lows of labor without any drugs to assist me ... But, even so, I wasn't thinking about my husband or his feelings on the big event at all ... My mind had been set. And when I set my mind to something, I do not change it.

So, Malcolm's birth came and went without the epidural despite intense back labor ... And I suddenly went from feeling like death run over, to being on the top of the world.

Total validation.

It didn't hurt that I immediately became "Superwoman" to many of my family members and friends either ... And, to this day have become the resident question-answerer about how to make it through a natural labor and delivery (in fact, I was called for "advice," earlier this week while my cousin was in labor with her third child).

Natural birth is like a little feather in my cap. A trophy on the shelf. My own personal marathon. I could never (nor would I want to) run 26.2 miles in one day ... But I can push out a baby using my own mental prowess and determination.

"Mind over matter" they always say ...

So, this second time around, I really hope to accomplish the exact same thing (although the absence of back labor would be nice).

Again, barring an emergency situation, I am planning on delivering another human being into the world without numbing my body from the waist down. As with Malcolm, this choice isn't so much about "what's good for my body" or "what's best for the baby" as many types of natural birthing literature would have you believe (although I look at those things as an added benefit) ... It is, somewhat selfishly, more about me. It's about setting my mind to a goal and then going out there and achieving it (pain and suffering be damned).

If I did it once, I can do it again ...

However, one difference this time around, is that I'll be working with a midwife every step along the way.

In fact, my usual OB/GYN (who works in tandem with her, something that is new since my pregnancy with Malcolm) was on vacation during my first prenatal appointment ... So that first visit consisted of my little family (Malcolm included) and the midwife.

I'm very excited to see how this will impact the progression of the pregnancy and the ultimate birth of Baby #2 in March. I may have gone through the motions once before, but I know that there is still a lot to learn. Strange as it sounds, there's a part of me that actually enjoys the experience of birth (pain notwithstanding) and I am so thankful that I am being given the opportunity to go for it all over again!

October 6, 2011

return of the sweater vest

The leaves (and raindrops) are falling.

The air is turning colder.

It must be time to break out the sweater vests!

Shirt: Jumping Beans (thrifted for $1.00)
Sweater vest: Starting Out (thrifted for $1.00)
Corduroy pants: Sonoma (birthday gift)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Toddler University (thrifted for $1.50)

We just love the fall!

October 3, 2011

he's a rocketman

We spent a dreary afternoon at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center over the weekend.

Malcolm absolutely loves it there, so he was (literally!) over the moon the entire time!

It's a good thing Gramma and Grampa live just down the street!