April 29, 2011

the freckle

As I give him a bath each night, I can't stop staring.

No, not at his sparkling gray eyes ...

Or his chubby cheeks ...

Or his mischievous grin ...

Or his long, skinny legs ...

Or his baby-sized feet and toes ...

The thing that catches my attention most is a freckle.

A single freckle that has magically appeared on his back, almost perfectly centered between his shoulder blades.

It is small and brown.

A mere speck.

Practically insignificant and unnoticeable to the average bath-giver ...

But not to me.

To me, it is a sign that he is changing.

Not so long ago, his skin was white. Alabaster. Smooth and soft and smelling of powder and baby shampoo.

Today it is different.

The freckle is just the first little blemish (of many).

Soon there will be more ... More freckles, cuts and scrapes and bruises from rambunctious toddler play, imperfections and scars from a childhood well-lived. They will appear, one after the other, time and again, taking him farther and farther away from his days as a baby.

While I wouldn't have it any other way, I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around how far we've come ... How, in only a year's time, we've gone from cradling, to sitting, to crawling, to walking, to running, to climbing (but not talking). How he's blossomed from an easygoing little lump, into someone bursting with attitude and personality.

The freckle reminds me.

It's proof that, in the blink of an eye (Look now or you'll miss it!) a phase of our lives has come and gone.

Proof that, just as my son grows, I grow too ...

With each new freckle, each mark that graces his skin, time ticks by.

He is changing.

He has changed me.

April 26, 2011

the easter buddy

When you're as popular as Malcolm, holiday weekends tend to be a busy affair ...

There are people to see, places to visit, and (of course, since this past weekend was Easter) eggs to find!

And what better place to hold an Easter Egg Hunt than Gramma and Grampa's wild and wonderful (and muddy!) backyard?

Polo shirt: Cherokee (thrifted for $1.00)
Jeans: The Children's Place (thrifted for $2.00)
Shoes: Sketchers (thrifted for $0.50)

April 25, 2011

attitude is everything

I used to spend hours on end stalking my friends on Facebook. I'd look at photos, read status updates, see what everyone was up to ... You know, the usual time sucking activities.

Today, I find myself using it less and less.

I'm not sure if it is just my group of friends, but there are just too many complainers on Facebook.

If it's not one thing, it's another ...

This weather is the worst!

I had such a bad day today!

My kid is screaming through her nap!

I can't believe how terrible my family is!

I'm ready for this pregnancy to be over!

I hate my life!

Why can't I get a break?

Seriously. At one time or another, these are the things that show up on my newsfeed.

Now, I have been known to complain as much as the next person (who hasn't?), but I've come to a profound realization since birthing my child over a year ago ...

Yes, life can be hard (difficult, stressful, maddening at times), but it is seriously what you make of it. If you make the conscious choice to focus on the negative, that is what you will always see. It will cloud your vision. It will infiltrate your memory ...

But, if you choose to find the good in every situation (the so-called silver lining), a bad day can seem not-so-terrible ... And maybe even like a small triumph!

Another blogger, whom I love to read each day, has summed this very notion up perfectly in two posts about her daughter. Here are the links for one and two, because they are so good. I highly recommend them!

They just go to show that, as a mother, I can enjoy my time with my child (or my life, if you're looking at the "bigger picture") for what it is. I can take the good with the bad, but strive to focus on the good of every situation.

Sure, Malcolm is a rowdy toddler ... He gets in to anything and everything. He makes a mess to conquer all messes. But it is up to me to decide if I want to look at that mess as a negative thing (My house is in shambles!) or a positive one (My son is so industrious!).

The question here is: How do I want to perceive my world?

It really is up to me.

I, for one, am making the conscious choice to look at each day through a positive filter. There are no do-overs. Before I know it, my baby will be a grown man and I will be wishing to live these moments all over again ... So I have to be sure to enjoy them right now.

Constant negativity on my Facebook feed be damned.

April 21, 2011

my favorite boys

Seeing them together (even when they are doing something as mundane as watching a basketball game on TV) makes me simultaneously fall more in love with both of them!

April 19, 2011

afternoon snack attack

Now that Malcolm has discovered the art of climbing on to the furniture, he spends a lot of time honing his skills during the day ...

About 80% of the time, he does so in a calm and controlled manner. The other 20% is a little more stress inducing (for me, of course) ... But he thinks it's hilarious.

Coincidentally, it brings new meaning to the tagline on his tee-shirt ...

(Yeti or not, here I come!)

Just recently, though, he has realized how comfortable and relaxing the couch can be ... As evidenced by the following photos:

Layered shirt: Circo ($1.50 on sale at Target)
Jeans: The Children's Place (thrifted for $2.00)

It's nice to have him slow down for just a little bit ... Even if it does involve spilled cereal and crumbs in the couch cushions!

April 18, 2011

the muppet master

I mentioned a bunch of posts ago, that Malcolm enjoys watching a "Bert and Ernie" DVD while I am trying to get work done during the day. Not only has this DVD been a lifesaver, buying me 15 minutes (or more!) at a time, it has also got me to thinking ...

It's funny (and absolutely fascinating to me) how kids truly do choose which objects they are going to prefer. Even if, as a parent, I want my kid to like (or perhaps ignore) a certain thing, it's the child who ultimately decides how he/she is going to react.

As much as I like to think that Malcolm exists only to make me happy (which in many ways, he certainly does), he really is his own little person with his own little brain ...

For example, after seeing some old school Sesame Street books at my parents' house (books that have been sticking around since my childhood), Malcolm has been all about Sesame Street! His favorite character is probably The Count (they call him "The Count" because he loves to count things!), but he's also a big fan of Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Grover ... Surprisingly, he doesn't really care for Elmo (the usual kid-favorite).

That's my boy! Going against the grain!

At any rate, this whole Sesame Street phase is all his own.

In no way did I (or anyone else in my family) "push" any of these particular characters on him. He's picked them himself from the various Sesame Street books we have accumulated and the videos we have watched on the Sesame Street website.

He's decided who will be a "favorite" and who will be "just another Muppet."

He pulls the strings.

As his mother, it is so crazy to see these preferences developing. I've heard from other parents, many times over, about how their kids only care about "Veggie Tales," or "Disney's Cars," or "Thomas the Tank Engine," or any host of other kid-friendly fare ... Now I'm living it, firsthand.

My son actually likes something and has quickly created a routine around it. And if he doesn't get to see his Sesame Street friends when he wants to ... Look out!

I can only imagine how many of these preferences will develop through the years. How many likes and dislikes will come and go with the times. How many of these "phases" I will embrace, and how many will cause me to cringe and shake my head.

But, for now, I'm brushing up on my Sesame Street impersonations ...

And wondering if a Sesame Street themed second birthday party is in the cards!

April 15, 2011

little thief

Not only has he stolen Mommy's heart ...

He's also gotten his hands on Daddy's wallet!

April 14, 2011

divine intervention

Our house has been on the market for exactly two months and two days.

There have been no open houses, or walk-throughs, or really any interest of any kind up to this point ... But I remain optimistic. I have long believed that what is meant to be, will be. Some things are out of our control, but there is a plan, a perfect design of which I am unaware ...

I know in my heart that our buyer is out there somewhere ... He/she/they have yet to stumble upon the treasure that is our home ...

It's just a matter of time.

Yet, despite these "happy thoughts" and endless optimism that our house WILL (eventually) sell, I took it upon myself to give it that extra "edge" yesterday evening. No, I didn't install new energy-efficient windows, or a new hot water heater, or refinish the basement, or offer a sizable monetary credit to potential home buyers ... I did something even more incredible ...

By the light of a warm, spring sunset, I buried Saint Joseph in the front flower bed.

That's right, I pulled out the big guns.

For any non-Catholics out there, Saint Joseph (Jesus' earthly father, or step-father if you will) is the patron saint of home and family. So, it has long been Catholic tradition (or superstition?!) to bury a Saint Joseph statue upside-down (his toes pointed to heaven) in the yard of a home that is listed for sale.

I know it probably sounds crazy, but to make the situation even better (at least in my mind), this particular statue has already worked once before ... We actually found it in this home's backyard shortly after we moved in!

Our Joseph's got a proven track record!

While I'm not expecting our realtor's phone to ring off the hook from here on out, I figure a little divine intervention can't hurt ...

It might be the one thing that sets our house apart from the hundreds of others that are also up for sale in our neighborhood!

April 12, 2011

no jacket required

We're back to the daily grind this week ... Work for me and lots of (boring?) indoor play for Malcolm ... So, the nearly eighty degree day that capped off our weekend was a true treasure.

Thank you, Cleveland! Finally!

A day to pull out the long-awaited, short-sleeved onesies (without anything layered on top)!

A day to explore the outdoors (and get some yard work done)!

A day to celebrate a wonderfully fun-filled week of spring vacation!

Malcolm was loving every minute ... And after running the length of the backyard, playing in the dirt, and rolling around in the grass, I finally captured him, red-faced, in the driveway:

Onesie: Toughskins (thrifted for $1.00)
Sweat pants: Carter's (thrifted for $0.50)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

It's hard to believe that, last year at this time, he wasn't even sitting up by himself!

This summer is going to be so different ... And so fun!

April 7, 2011

off the clock

I stumbled across this quote the other day and thought it was funny (and all too true):

"You can't see Canada across lake Erie, but you know it's there. It's the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland." ~Paul Fleischman

I'm currently enjoying a week of freedom during my Spring Break from the virtual school.

While the weather hasn't exactly been as "springy" as I would like, the "break" part of the equation is in full effect!

It's absolutely wonderful to just take things easy. To wake up when Malcolm does and to just spend the entire day doting on him ...

So often during a work week, I feel like I have to push him aside to get things done. I have to use means other than myself to occupy him ... Such as popping in his new favorite DVD ("Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures") and merely glancing his way as he bops along to the opening music.

Sure, he is no worse for wear. He's a happy kid. His needs are met. His diapers are changed. He's fed when he's hungry and read to when he wants to hear a story.

But, there's always that nagging feeling that I should be doing more for him. That he should be getting my undivided attention. I know that as time rolls by, and more children are added to the mix of things, my attention will always be divided to some extent ... So maybe this "lack of spoiling" my firstborn is currently receiving is a good thing.

Even so, it is nice to have those moments where I don't have to second guess and put one of my "jobs" in the backseat. For one, blissful week, it's just me and Malcolm doing whatever we want to do. Sure, there are various appointments in there too (for his eighteen month well-check and eighteen month portraits) ... But, for the rest of the day, it's all about him.

At least until he naps.

Then it's all about me!


April 5, 2011

march madness (is over)

The only way to eliminate the madness a toddler feels after being cooped up in the house for the entirety of March is to shift the calendar to April.

Although things seem to be cooling down again, we did get one nice day of running amok under our belts, courtesy of an afternoon at Gramma and Grampa's house.

Hooded sweatshirt: Circo (thrifted for $1.00)
WALL-E Tee-shirt: Disney/Pixar (thrifted for $0.50)
Fleece pants: Wonder Kids (thrifted for $0.50)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

I can't wait for this kid to really get a chance to explore their yard this summer.

He is going to absolutely love it!

April 4, 2011

virtual insanity

I signed up to take two e-learning classes this summer in order to finish up my master's degree (in Education) once and for all.

Although I am excited to throw myself into school again (as the student), I don't fully know what I was thinking.

I guess, last time when I took only one class, I was able to juggle it, a newly-walking one-year-old, a full-time teaching job, and a part-time tutoring position ...

Things are a little different now. I've gotten into a routine with the full-time job and given up the part-time one ... So, what's another class added to the mix?!

It doesn't hurt that work with my own virtual school will be over for the summer (yet I will still be required to be "in my office") as my e-learning classes really pick up, so I'll be looking for something to occupy my brain as I sit around the house in a state of suspended animation.

All logical reasoning aside, as much as I say I like to relax and just be, I also like to feel like I'm accomplishing something ... And what's better at making a person feel accomplished, than completing a master's degree?

It will be nice to finally end the process (about five years in the making) and have everything in place for when I need to renew my license in a few years.

I also figure that, on the family front, things will only get crazier from here on out ...

Malcolm is only going to become more mobile, and vocal, and independent ... He's not always going to be happy with reading the same books, or playing with the same toys, day in and day out.

He'll need more from me.

He'll need to be entertained and challenged and intellectually stimulated.

Our family (God willing) is only going to get bigger and more chaotic ... The number of "projects" that I can handle with one child demanding my attention will probably decrease once a second (or more?) is thrown into the mix. So I might as well achieve my current academic goals before something has got to give ...

Yes, now is the time to just go for it!

To take the leap and sink or swim ...

And, as I've said many, many times before, I don't do things "half way."

I'm a classic overachiever.

I'll take those two classes (hopefully earning a pair of "A's" to join all the others), complete my Graduate Comprehensive Exam, and never look back.

Then I'll get antsy and begin planning for my next advanced degree ...

Maybe Biology this time?

April 1, 2011


Just testing out the manual settings on my Christmas gift ...

And pleasantly surprised that (at least) his feet still seem little!