Monthly Archives: December 2010

Big Helper


The grocery store has the possibility of being a disaster. However, I have figured out a way of making it an interactive event resulting in fewer tears than I would have imagined. I discovered this several months ago but discovered the full power of the technique this afternoon.

Robbie was in full meltdown mode when we pulled into the Stop & Shop parking lot. I’m talking screaming, pausing for a deep breath, and screaming again at a higher pitch.He was somewhat calmer when I got him into the cart, reminding him of what a big helper he is in the grocery store. When I grabbed the first item off the shelf, Rob was in full helper mode.

It’s a pretty good system we have down: I hand Robbie whatever I want to purchase; Robbie inspects the item; if the item is found to be acceptable, it is place in the back of the cart by Robbie. The only time this has really failed is when Rob misses the cart and the item lands on the floor. For this reason, all fragile items are handles by both of us. This also works well for heavy items, like bags of dog food. I pretend that it’s so heavy I couldn’t possibly do it without Rob’s help. He giggles and helps me put it in the back.

However, all bets are off if there is an item Robbie finds particularly desirable. There were two of those tonight. One was a container of yogurt (the other seven were thrown back without a thought; the eighth was a coveted item). Yogurt is bad for this because the seal can be bitten through, causing quite a mess. The other item was equally hazardous, though for other reasons. I bought a roll of wrapping paper, which Robbie carried for about ten minutes. Much to the dismay of the other shoppers in the aisles who narrowly missed being knighted by Sir Robert.

We made it out of the store without a major meltdown, and, let’s face it, that’s really the goal of any trip to a public place. In fact, the event was so successful that Robbie did a victory dance at home. Now I just need to figure out how to get him through a trip to see Santa…


Monday, Monday


Who needs Mondays? Other than half a dozen holidays during the year and my birthday every six years or so, they really don’t do me any good. Particularly when they start thirty minutes before my alarm goes off after only six hours of sleep. Today was doomed to be a fail. Maybe not an epic fail, but still far below the passing line.

My day actually started at 12:38 when Robbie woke up crying. I still don’t know what he wanted because he fell back asleep before I could give him his bottle. Fortunately, I was able to quickly fall back asleep. No such luck for the 5:23 wake-up call, which Justin dutifully answered. He brought Robbie back to our room (I’m still not really sure about the thought process there), where Robbie proceeded to fuss, pull my hair, head-butt Justin, smack my face, and drop a full bottle of water on me. Twice. I just didn’t have the energy to do much about it, so I turned on Peter Pan, which Robbie did not want to watch.

I finally got out of bed at 6:30 (that extra hit on the snooze button was a real waste because that’s when the bottle of water landed on me). I went through my morning routine successfully, even finding a matching pair of black dress socks. I took that to be a sign of my impending good fortune because, honestly, who finds that on a Monday morning?

Unfortunately, my auspicious morning only lasted about five minutes. I walked into the dining room shortly after I finished getting dressed to look for my shoes (I think; I could have been looking for anything). And then I felt it on my right foot. Startled, I stepped back with my left foot. Right into a huge puddle of dog pee. Lovely. Just lovely.

Already running late (remember it was a Monday AND I hit the snooze button an extra time – double whammy), I left Justin in charge of the mess and dashed upstairs to find another pair of socks. For those of you concerned about the small details (as I would be), I did take the soiled socks off before my stair dash. Unfortunately, there were no good socks to be found in my sock drawer. There were gloves, running socks, Justin’s socks, and a hat for Robbie. But there were no dress socks. Knowing that school would be cold, I grabbed blue fleece socks. And found the missing shoes right next to my dresser. If only I had looked there first…

The day continued to get better as I arrived at school to find that there was no heat in our building. I spent the entire day teaching in my coat and gloves. But, never fear, my feet were toasty warm in their fleece socks.

On Mondays, I pick Rob and his buddy Pete up from daycare and then bring them home to play for awhile. In the past, the must-have toys have been the Swiffer and the broom. Tears have been shed over these items. To avoid such disasters, I put them up, sure that the boys would rather tear apart the Christmas tree. When we got home, I let the boys play while I straightened the living room. And then, sensing something incredible was going to happen, I looked up in time to see Pete dragging my Vac ‘n Steam from the dining room. He got it appropriately set up and started to push the vacuum back and forth. I was tempted to turn it on and see what the kid could do… And I just might do that next Monday. After all, he did a great job with the sweeping.

Christmas Trees


I’ve been looking forward to today all week. Christmas tree day! The day our house will finally feel like Christmas. And, boy, did it start early. With that sickly sweet smell you can recognize as soon as you walk into a baby’s room. Vomit. Everywhere. And my child? All smiles because it was time to cuddle with Justin and me.

He made a pretty fast recovery, although he didn’t actually eat anything at all today. He had a few saltines and some Sprite, but that was it. Not even a bottle before he went to bed. I know it’s important to keep him hydrated, but it’s hard to force liquid into him. He does this every time he throws up; he gets wary about putting anything into his body, which I can respect.

What I appreciate the most about my son is his ability to persevere, even in the face of a stomach bug. Robbie happily climbed into his car seat for our trip to Tyngsboro to procure our family Christmas tree from our friend, Ken Times. We also took a family nap after returning home, where Justin slept, Robbie played, and I tried to sleep.

Finally, finally, finally it was time to decorate the tree! The moment I have been waiting for since at least two weeks before Thanksgiving. The tree went into the stand without trouble. The ornaments were in the living room. Everything was ready to go. Until Justin plugged in the lights. They didn’t work. The lights I have been using since 2003. They had a good run, but getting new lights really wasn’t in the plans tonight. After all, I was already on borrowed time with a sick, hungry, tired child. I quickly ran to the new CVS across the street to get more lights. After spending $9.00 on three boxes of lights, I darted back across Mass Ave., ready to decorate the tree.

Justin opened the boxes to put all the lights on the trees (this is a husband job) and found that the strands wouldn’t connect to each other. They were all dead-enders. With only 50 lights on each strand, there was no way we could decorate our tree with just one strand. A quick trip to the grocery was a fail, so it was into the car and down to Walgreens. Fortunately, they had strands of 300 lights and, in a fantastic turn of events, Christmas DVDs.

Unfortunately, at home, things were deteriorating. Robbie was cranky and inconsolable. Tree decorating was put off again. With the baby finally down (Justin rocked him to sleep in the way that only he can do), my P90X workout completed, dinner eaten, and shower taken, it was finally time to actually decorate the tree. Justin and I turned on A Charlie Brown Christmas and opened 31 years of Christmas ornaments.

Justin patiently listened to me recount the stories of the ornaments: the ones I made, the ones from my sorority years, the ones we made together the first year we were married, the ones from Robbie’s first ornaments. And, bless his heart, Justin didn’t give up when he saw there was a second box of ornaments. He just kept hanging.

I’m not sure if you can tell really what the picture for this post is, so let me explain it to you. There are three snowman snowglobe ornaments. One reads Erin, another Dad (they were out of “Justin”), and a third Katherine. We bought them in the Macon Macy’s the January I was pregnant. I went down to visit Justin while he was on active duty for 30 days, and we picked up the ornaments for about 75 cents apiece. I did look for a Robert, which they didn’t have. However, I was so convinced that we were having a girl, that I didn’t care. I bought the Katherine ornament, thinking that my daughter would really appreciate that I was so in tune with my body that I bought her an ornament without actually knowing she was a girl. Now I’m just hoping that Robbie will find the humor in the first ornament ever bought for him. And, knowing Robbie, I’m sure he will.

Clean House


I’m not sure when I turned into an adult, but I know it was sometime when I looked forward to Saturdays because it would give me enough time to fully clean my house. And that’s how I felt when I woke up this morning. Justin had class all day, which meant he was out of my hair for the day. It was just Robbie and me. And a filthy house.

We avoided it in the morning by going to a craft fair, a greenery sale, and Wilson Farm. Robert went down for his nap easily, so I turned on the Kentucky game and got to work. Thank goodness I had the cleaning to distract me from the game… I only sat down to watch the last five minutes; I just listened to the rest of the game from various places in the house.

It took me six hours, but I did it. The kitchen is clean (even after dinner, with a newly cleared dishwasher). The living room and dining room are in mint condition (even the Pack ‘n Play is organized). The bathroom? Don’t even get me started on how cute the new Santa rug is on top of the recently sanitized floor. And the three bedrooms? Let me just say that beds are made and laundry is put away. Even the laundry basket full of clothes I wasn’t sure where to put. Christmas presents are stashed appropriately.

And now? Now I’m blogging to try to procrastinate starting my Christmas cards because I just don’t know how to get started. I even did 90 minutes of yoga to avoid it. But now, yoga done and house clean and stamp supplies organized and blogging close to complete… I guess it’s time to start Christmas cards. Or go to bed. Hmm…

The ‘Ish


Robbie loves his ‘ish. He feeds him every night. He points to him every morning. And, if you ask him what a fish says, he will very proudly say, “Gulp.” I know, I know. A fish really says, “Glub”, but I say, “Gulp” every time Jake the Fish eats a piece of food. Robbie is very attached to Jake, and I’d like to think that Jake was attached to Robbie.

Yes. I said “was”. Being the responsible pet owner that I am, I changed Jake’s water last night because it had gotten uncomfortably low from Cookie Monster drinking it. I figured if it got much lower, he wouldn’t have any room to swim and would die. And, since I accidentally boiled my fish when changing their tank in college because I didn’t wait long enough for the water to go to room temperature (this is the first time I have publicly admitted that), I let Jake sit in a mug on the kitchen counter overnight. This is what I found this morning.

And, for the close-up…

I can only assume that a cat wanted some water and knocked over the mug. I don’t think she (yes, I’m assuming it was Grover since she loves to hunt or Cookie since she was drinking the water) meant to commit fishicide. But, when the water was knocked over, and the fish came flopping onto the counter… Well, what was she supposed to do?

I explained the situation to Robbie this morning, and he took it well. He was concerned about the missing fish, pointing at the place on his dresser where Jake lived for the past five months, pitifully saying, “‘Ish? ‘Ish?” I have a feeling he didn’t quite understand that a cat was the culprit here because he was loving on them five minutes later.

Robbie and I took a field trip this afternoon to Pet Supplies “Plus” (don’t even get me started on the name…), and Robbie picked out a new ‘ish. It’s not the same as Jake or Fake Jake (last night’s casualty). But Robbie doesn’t really seem to care. He proudly held the bag with his new fish in it at the store, saying, “Gulp! Gulp!” Somehow, I think he’ll pull through. I’m just hoping that I will.

Music Man


This morning, Justin and I were sitting on the bed engaging in our usual witty early-morning conversation. All of a sudden, there was music playing. A nice Bruce Hornsby ballad, actually. It was as if we were living in a musical, where conversations burst into song mid-sentence. Startled, Justin and I looked around to find the source of the music: Robbie and my cell phone (which used to be Justin’s, explaining the Bruce Hornsby music selection). Robbie was sitting on the bed, phone up to his ear, rocking out to the easy-listening jam. It would have made the perfect video, but, well, Robbie had the phone…

Amused, Justin and I stopped talking and watched Robbie for a few minutes. Then, the song was over, and we went back to our conversation (obviously something very important that early in the morning). All of a sudden, there was more music. And it wasn’t coming from the phone. It was coming from Robbie. I don’t know if he was trying to mimic good ‘ol Bruce or trying to do a mash-up of easy-listening and Chinese opera, but he was getting a real kick out of himself.

Now, Justin and I have never heard Robbie sing. He actually has a sweet little voice, even if he doesn’t have any words… Apparently he practices his singing with Zhining most days. She practices her opera with the kids (it’s nice to have a built-in audience), and young QiQi often joins in (“big song” has two meanings – he sings loudly or he cries loudly).

In other news, the house is now as decorated for Christmas as it’s probably going to be. Except for the tree, which we’ll get on Sunday. And, thanks to some lovely candles, it smells like Christmas. Maybe I’ll have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head tonight… We can only hope…

Wake-Up Calls


That sleeping-through-the-night thing? Didn’t happen. There were two: one at 10:43 and the other at 1:25 when he kicked me in the head for the sixth time. Since there were no tears at bedtime tonight (probably due to a late and fabulous Chipotle dinner) and I gave him a dose of Tylenol, I’m confident that I will be sleeping through the night tonight. At least I think I’m confident…

It used to be that when I got to daycare, Robbie would open the door, smile at me, and run away. He wanted little (if anything) to do with leaving his friends and going home. After all, things are so much more interesting in Chinese than in our bland English-speaking home. He would kick and scream as I put his jacket on, picked him up, and carried him to the door. It really did a lot for my ego after a long day at work…

Something changed over Thanksgiving. All of a sudden, Robbie is excited to see me when I come to get him from daycare. He opens the door, smiles at me, and gives my legs a big hug. He stands still while I put his coat on. And (maybe this part is my imagination), he nearly leaps into my arms to go, giving his friends a big “I-love-my-mom-so-much-and-I-can’t-wait-to-go-home-and-play-with-her” grin as we go out the door.

And, with a dance party like we had at home, who can blame him?



I took Robbie on his first Christmas shopping extravaganza this afternoon. I have a few suggestions for the people at Kohl’s… Well, really just one. Fix the stupid shopping carts! I’m not sure if you’ve been to Kohl’s recently, but the child seats are in the front of the carts, lower than the handles, and facing out. This is extremely problematic.

Robbie got a kick out of facing front in a cart and seeing everything that was coming toward him. He was also a big fan of grabbing everything at his level. In case you’re wondering, that was most of the merchandise. The seats in the carts are on the same level of all the tables and shelves. I looked down at one point and saw four towels in my basket. And they did not match my bathroom decor… This got particularly nerve-wracking when we were near the china.

Luckily, we survived without any casualties. And Robbie did make some friends while we were there. He blew kisses at a group of employees who came to find him before we left to say good bye. I also got all of my shopping done for one person on my list and I got some goodies for my yet-to-be-determined Secret Santa at work.

And now I’ll sign off, hoping to sleep straight through the night without a 2:00 wake-up call (’cause that’s what happened last night…).