Noggin Is Now Our Default Channel

July 8, 2009

While we were on vacation, my parents kept the boys for several days while M and I got some time away to ourselves.  It was a great bonding time for M and me, and a good way for my parents to get special time with their grandsons.  One of the ways they had to compromise from some of our parenting habits, though, was watching some different children’s shows than we usually play at home.  There are very few shows I can stand to watch, so we DVR those shows and always have several to choose from when it’s TV time.  My parents had recorded a few, but more of the time, my mom would just turn on Noggin and let them watch whatever was on.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with anything Noggin plays, other than being insanely annoying sometimes.  I recognize it’s merely a matter of personal preference, so I’ve made it a point not to cringe when PJ asks for Dora or Diego or Gabba Gabba now.  If there’s an episode on, I’ll let him watch and find something else to do so that I can ignore the TV.  (On the bright side, I don’t know when I’ve kept the house cleaner.)

In the meantime, though, I have learned that the more ridiculous the show is, the more hypnotic it is for young children.  Oh, and some of those shows are totally trippy.  Yo Gabba Gabba?  There are not words to describe this show.  I love it for the way it holds my boys’ attention–but that’s about the only reason I do.  It is WEIRD.

The shows I’ve found I can stand in moderation are Blue’s Clues (with Steve), WonderPets, Backyardigans, and Maggie and the Ferocious Beast.  I still detest Dora, Diego, and Yo Gabba Gabba.  All the rest fall somewhere in between.  I’m curious.  What kids’ shows do you like to watch with your kids, and which ones do you hate but let them watch anyway?  And while we’re polling, what do you see is a reasonable amount of TV time for your kids each day?  How strictly do you stick to that guideline?

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Bullet Posting Again

January 26, 2009

Sorry I don’t have the energy or focus for a real post today.  I caught a cold over the weekend (no idea how, I never go anywhere without at least one of my boys and they’re all healthy), and it just keeps getting worse.  So here’s a few thoughts, bullet-style:

1. Any of you with toddlers/pre-schoolers, I have a question for you.  At mealtimes, do you have to remind your child to eat every thirty seconds or so?  Unless PJ is just super hungry and the meal is exactly what he wanted (and sometimes even then), he continually gets distracted from eating.  While chewing one bite endlessly, he will start playing with his fork or spoon, or look under the table for the dog, or play peek-a-boo with me or Scooter, or anything else he can find to do other than eat.  Until I threaten to take his food away and dinner be over, he cannot focus again on eating.  Most meals, this happens with every single bite.  Is there any wonder I hate mealtimes some days?  So is this typical behavior?  Do your kids do this too, or did they have a phase where they did this?

2. I’m totally torn between finishing off the job of weaning Scooter so I can take real cold medicine and clinging to our last nursing session each day for that snuggle time.  The practical side of me says it’s time already, but I don’t feel ready emotionally yet.  He still seems to enjoy it as well, otherwise I would have moved on already.  It doesn’t help matters that M doesn’t fully understand how strong my emotions are about this and continues to encourage me to finish weaning.  Must be nice to be a man, where much of the time the practical side is the only side.

3. It’s weird sometimes to listen to PJ talk.  He talks mostly non-stop these days, and almost all complete sentences.  His vocabulary grows each day, and he often rattles on about something he could have only learned at school.  It’s just so normal that I tend to forget that less than six months ago he was barely talking at all.  He sings songs now and will try to quote the dialogue of his favorite movies along with the characters.  He asks for what he wants and can answer my questions (even if he doesn’t always do so readily).  I’m so proud of how he’s flourishing in pre-school.  I’m starting to hope they reconsider whether he needs the extended school year program this summer; not only will it prevent us from going crazy having him around all day every day, but I want to see his improvement continue and not have him lose any ground over the summer.

4. My parents are coming to visit us the first weekend in February.  It won’t be a long visit, but I’m super excited that they’re coming, other than the extensive cleaning I need to do over the next two weeks.  You see, although both of my parents have been frequent visitors over the past few years, they have never managed to visit at the same time.  The last time they visited us together was right after PJ was born, before we’d moved into this house (we moved the next weekend).  Even when Scooter was born, only my mom was able to come down right away; my dad showed up a week or so later when he was here on business.  Considering we only live 4 or 5 hours away from them, it’s crazy to think they haven’t been able to make the trip together.  It means a lot to me that they’re making a real effort to take a joint trip to see us.

Now off to start cleaning for their visit.  The guest room has become the catch-all room since it has been so long since we’ve had overnight visitors, so I need to find somewhere else to store all the junk hiding in there.  Wish me luck!


Details–Way Too Many Details

January 14, 2009

This may be an extremely boring post, but since some of you actually want to help me instead of just listening to me whine (thank you, Kristen), I thought maybe it would help if I gave a little more detail about my diet and exercise routine.

Diet first:

Breakfast–I usually have a small bowl of cereal or an oatmeal bar on mornings I don’t have time to sit and eat something.  I have a glass of grapefruit juice with it most days.  I used to eat Pop Tarts almost every morning and just didn’t eat if I didn’t have time, so I think this is an improvement.

Lunch–It’s usually a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich or a small portion of leftovers from the previous night’s meal with a glass of milk.

Dinner–This varies more.  I’ll be the first to admit that this is my least healthy meal of the day.  M and I try to cook something about five nights of the week.  It is usually something super easy and covered in cheese and lacking many veggies; we’re not great cooks, so it’s great that we make anything at all.  The other two nights are usually fast food.  Not something I’m proud of, but it’s a vast improvement over fast food four or five times a week like we were doing for a while.  (For the record, I am not against healthier meals as long as they are as easy to cook as the simple meals out of boxes.  I don’t have the time or talent to do anything more than that right now.)

Snack–The only snack I have during the day most days is right before bed.  I know this is the worst time to eat, but I have pills I have to take before bed, and I have a little trouble swallowing them.  A couple of bites of something after makes them go down easier.  I have cut the snack down to literally a few bites, an improvement over a couple of cookies.  I usually take the pills with a glass of milk too.

I also drink at least a bottle of water during the day–not as much as I probably should be drinking, but all I can stomach.  I get water-logged easily.

Exercise:

Since I started doing Wii Fit, I have been aiming for a full thirty minutes of “fit credits” each day.  Since those thirty minutes take a good forty-five minutes to add up with all the clicking you have to do between each activity, I find it difficult to schedule time for more than that.  I’ve been doing about 12 minutes of yoga, 5-8 minutes of strength training, 10 minutes of aerobics, and a couple of minutes of balance games if I just need a minute or two to reach the 30-minute goal.  Most days, I focus the aerobic activity on the more strenuous activities, like jogging and hula hoop (it’s WAY more activity than you think it’s going to be).  I agree that the other aerobic activities are kind of pathetic–better than nothing, but not exactly helpful to get you buff.

I have also increased how much I’m doing around the house, using chores like vacuuming to add some extra activity into my day.  These may not be calorie-burners, but they’re better than living life as a couch potato.

I decided after yesterday’s frustrating weigh-in that it was time to accept the Wii Fit’s limitations and ordered a workout DVD from Amazon.  I’m hoping that a real thirty-minute aerobic workout staggered with the Wii Fit routine will jump start actual weight loss.

Even though I was ready to just give up yesterday, I hate the way I look right now and fit into clothes that I can’t just let it win.  If I have to work even harder and eat even less, then I’ll have to do it, as much as I hate it.  It’s better than staying like this.

But while I’m thinking about it, I have two questions about complaints I’ve had lately that I can only assume come from my new diet and exercise routine.

1. I’ve been getting headaches every afternoon and evening.  I thought they were probably from dehydration, so I started drinking lots and lots of water every afternoon.  The water isn’t helping.  The weather has been bad for sinus problems, so it’s quite possible it’s a sinus headache (which would explain why ibuprofen isn’t helping either), but it seems weird for it to only kick in in the afternoons and evenings.  What do you think?  Are there other possible causes–and solutions–I’ve overlooked?

2. I’ve always had weak ankles, so it’s no huge surprise that one of my ankles has started bugging me.  I’ve cut back on jogging (partly because for the first time ever I need a good sports bra and don’t have one yet), thinking that would help the ankle problem, but it just keeps getting worse.  I’m trying to work out despite the pain because I know I tend to use any excuse to just throw in the towel.  M seems to think the pain sounds like a pinched nerve.  I really don’t know what to think.  Ibuprofen isn’t helping this either, and it’s excruciating to even walk much around the house some of the time.  How would I go about easing the pain if it is a pinched nerve?  I’m not ready to consider the possibility that it’s something else quite yet because that would almost certainly end the workouts for at least a short time and I know how likely it would be that I would start them back up once I have to stop.

I know that part of the reason the weight is being stubborn is probably my IUD.  I’ve always been sensitive to hormone changes, and I think my body is just overreacting to the different hormones, partly by making me gain weight.  I hate the IUD for other reasons too, so I’ve been thinking about what my options would be if I got it taken out.  I have a feeling that the diet and exercising would be almost a moot point if I do decide to change birth control, but until that happens, I have to do this the hard way.

So, if any of you made it through this excruciatingly boring post, do you have any advice for me?  Thank you in advance.


Asking for Help Yet Again

November 19, 2008

I’m at a loss here, so I’m turning to you experienced, more creative mothers to find solutions for me.  As usual.

Problem #1: Diapers

Both boys have had problems lately with leaky diapers.  They are both currently wearing size 3 Pampers Cruisers.  Is there a better diaper out there for boys?  PJ could step up to a size 4, according to their weight specifications, but BabyN is still too small.  (I’d prefer he step up to big boy underwear, but unfortunately we’re nowhere near there yet.)  Do you think the bigger diaper would help with the leak issue overnight?

BabyN’s problem may not be solvable with a different diaper, but I’m still open to the advice.  You see, he sleeps on his belly with his butt in the air (totally adorable, by the way).  All that pee hits the front of his diaper, and gravity pulls it down toward his belly.  It leaks almost every day, and I simply don’t have enough pajamas to change him when he wakes up early in the morning soaked in pee.  (He usually goes back to bed for another hour or two, so I’m reluctant to put him in clothes for the day yet.)

Are there better diapers for baby boys, with more protection up front?  Or is there something I can do on BabyN that will soak up more of that pee before it hits his clothes?

Problem #2: Pants

Last week PJ went to the doctor for his three-year check-up.  He has gained less than half a pound from his two-year check-up (but the doctor isn’t worried, oddly).  He has grown about three or four inches, though.  He is actually solidly on the chart in height, when his weight is lagging far behind the chart still.  That makes for a tall(-ish), skinny kid.

Pants are hard to find.

He is wearing 18-month pants–usually.  He still fits into some of his 12-month pants, but I’m making a real effort to pass those down to BabyN, since he now needs them more.  Besides, even if they fit fine around the waist, they’re starting to look like high-waters.

The pants issue is what sent us shopping this weekend.  I was really proud of how many perfect pants I found for both him and BabyN, but when I tried to put him in a pair of them this morning, they were huge.  The perfect length, but unable to stay up around his waist.  I tried his brother’s size of the same pair of pants–still huge around the waist but too short (which means they’ll be too big around the waist on BabyN too).

I’m incredibly frustrated.  We have the exact same pair of pants for him already, and they fit beautifully.  That’s why I got these pants specifically.  I can’t believe that the same style and same maker of the pants (even in the same year) don’t fit the same way.

I already took the tags off, too, so I’m not sure they’ll take them back.  They weren’t expensive at least, but I hate thinking we wasted that money.  Do you think I should try to take them back anyway?

And the bigger question: How do I find pants to fit such a skinny kid?  It’s been a struggle all season but is suddenly getting worse, and I’m getting frustrated by it.  Also, is it appropriate to try clothes on him at stores like that to make sure they fit before we get home?  I’ve never seen it happen, but that doesn’t mean people would look at me funny if I tried it, does it?


Politics and Religion

November 4, 2008

I know several weeks ago I promised not to write about politics again, but I just have to talk about it.  I promise, however, that I will not tell you who to vote for or that your candidate’s going to send this country to hell in a handbasket or even encourage you to go vote.

This is because I have a dilemma of my own in relation to my political beliefs.  It stems from my Christian beliefs.  Religion is also something I don’t talk much about on my blog because it is yet another of those controversial topics.  I may secretly hope you believe the same way I do, but I am not going to condemn you or alienate you if you don’t.

My problem is how to let religion and politics influence each other.  Clearly, my religious beliefs have a lot more influence in my life than just what I do on Sundays.  My faith in God determines many of my actions throughout the day, including decisions I might make on days like today, when the future of our country is in our hands.

It goes without saying that I would like someone in office who has the same religious beliefs I do.  We all want that, someone who is governed by the same moral system we each are.  I would love if the whole country could follow that same moral system and those same religious beliefs.

But it also goes without saying that the entire country will NEVER all believe the same thing, as idealistic as I’d like to be about it.  Having a government that forces this is what led our founders to set up the American government the way they did, with a separation between church and state.

This is where this weird gray area comes into play.  I completely agree that the government should not be based on one particular religion, making the religion’s moral rules into the country’s laws.  Remember Henry the Eighth, who killed numerous wives because he couldn’t divorce them?  The only way this would ever work is if everyone in the country had a deep faith in this religion and willingly abided by the laws because of their strong morals, not just because they were rules.

Since that will never happen, the government by necessity must remain separate from religion.  That leads to tolerance, something America is famous for.  Personally, this word “tolerance” makes me uneasy, from a religious point of view.  But the American founders had the right idea that a country should not turn people away simply because they do not believe the same thing.

This tolerance, however, makes governing the country more difficult.  People from different religious backgrounds have different moral guidelines for their lives.  Instead of just cracking open the Bible and enforcing the rules found there (we’ll just pretend for a minute that they really all are black-and-white and not the gray areas that different Christian groups still argue over), the government has the difficult task of deciding what is truly best for all the people in the country, regardless of their own morals.

That is why topics like abortion and gay rights are so controversial.  Different religious backgrounds and moral backgrounds dictate different beliefs.  I don’t envy our government the task of deciding how these topics based on religious debates (in part) fit into our country.  Just because the most prevalent–and vocal–religion says one thing about it doesn’t mean that corresponds with the tenet of equality that our founders insisted upon.

So where do I stand on issues such as these?  That is a good question.  I know where my heart stands; it follows my religious beliefs.  But my official stand can’t be that black-and-white.  I know that above all, God teaches loving one another, and I’m hoping our lawmakers are hoping to do the same, regardless of their own religious backgrounds.  Sometimes that might mean legislating tolerance about some of these issues.  It’s not really the government’s place to enforce religious rules that go against the basic values of our country.  Maybe this is where the churches step in and work with individual people affected by these laws instead of expecting the lawmakers to fix the problems with global laws.

I’m a little worried that I haven’t really made myself clear in this post.  That’s probably because I’m not entirely clear about my own feelings about it myself.  I struggle often with how I think the areas of politics and religion should intersect in our country, given that my idealistic situation is impossible.  Is it even possible to follow God’s laws in leading a country where you can’t legally enforce those laws?

I know that for me, I am doing my part today by making my choice for government prayerfully.  God can use either candidate to do what He wants with our country, if we have let him lead us into electing his choice and if that candidate will let God lead.  I think perhaps I should focus more on my own part in this and not the greater issue of how religion should and should not interfere in the political arena.

Okay, here comes the possibly fun part.  I really am curious about other opinions.  I will not close comments, as I am tempted to do to protect myself (you guys know how I hate hearing that you don’t agree with me).  Just please, please be kind to me and each other.  I am fully aware that you might not agree with me about the religion thing at all; please don’t criticize me for my beliefs as I have refrained from doing to you.  I really just want to know how your own beliefs–or lack thereof–have influenced your political choices.  How do you think the two should relate to each other?


One Whole Year

September 22, 2008

I did it.  The old Afterthoughts is gone.  It was remarkably easy, a little too easy even to erase all that recorded history.  Anyway, I have yet to see whether it accomplished my main purpose, but I have no reason to believe it didn’t.

In other news, my baby is one today.  Excuse me while I go cry.  And make cupcakes and wrap presents (cause I’m on the ball like that).  I could and probably should write an emotional post about how I can’t possibly handle being the mother to two toddlers and how my baby is all growned up and my reluctance to wean and how all of a sudden I want another (ok, not that sudden).  But those posts will wait for another day.  I have enough scheduled into this day already.  Besides, the summaries kind of speak for themselves, don’t they?

Ooh, oh yeah, one thing before I go bake cake.  BabyN isn’t a baby.  I NEED a new name for him.  I’ve asked for suggestions several times already and have gotten squat.  My creative juices are non-existent right now, so I need help.  Ideas? Please?


The Name Game

July 24, 2008

I’ve seen lots of posts over the past few weeks asking about name ideas for new babies.  I always read the comments, sometimes checking in several times over the next few days to make sure I’ve read them all.

I never comment, however.  I did once or twice, long ago, but I quickly realized that not only am I pretty bad at guessing other people’s tastes in names, but mine are pretty unusual too.  I’ll probably love the names that these people choose, agreeing that they are perfect for them, but if I offer a contribution, I’ll always feel kind of bad that my suggestion wasn’t chosen.

But, hey, that’s not what I’m really writing about today.  I’m not sure where I saw it, but somebody mentioned in one of those numerous comments a site called nymbler.  It’s a site that claims to help you name your child based on names you like (say, names of your current children or your own name).  It will offer endless suggestions of names that somehow relate to your favorite names, either by origin or popularity, etc.

Intrigued, I checked it out for myself.  It’s not like I have another kid to name, but I still love playing the name game.  What would I name another kid if we ended up with a third boy?  What if we somehow got a girl?  Would I keep the names we would have named the boys if they’d been girls?

I realized something as I perused name after name after name: I’m awfully picky.  I would love for a third name to fit the pattern of the rest of our names (if you know the family blog, you know the pattern), but honestly can’t think of a (decent) name that fits.  But even without taking that into consideration, I had a hard time finding names I liked.  They have options to mark names as favorites or to remove them from the list of possibilities.  After playing around for about an hour, I had two names earmarked as favorites, and those had barely made the list.  The names I would never consider, though, were well over a hundred.

The funny part?  It’s not like I was vetoing the normal, common names.  If you know our kids’ real names, you know they’re not unusual by any means.  I really dislike a lot of the popular names right now (possibly simply because of their popularity), and I will only consider names that are pretty normal.  Even then, I have to veto many, many more because of bad memories associated with students from my teaching days–or ex-boyfriends.

That last one kind of stinks because two of my otherwise favorite names belong to the most annoying of all my students and the most serious ex I had.

Oh, yeah, and they have to sound decent with our last name.  Since it’s such a short, choppy name, the first name has to be at least two syllables, with very few exceptions.  The first letter of our last name as well as the vowel sound also sound weird with many names.  A lot of names I would consider just don’t sound right.

After playing around on that naming site, I started to wonder if I wanted to consider having another baby ever, simply because of the difficulties I would have in naming another kid.  PJ’s name was easy; it was the name M and I said we would name a boy if we ever had one, a name we had created early in our dating days.  BabyN’s name seemed pretty obvious once we saw the pattern of the rest of our names; it fit perfectly and we both loved the name.  This long after PJ’s birth, I already had a pretty good idea of what our next son’s name would be, if we had another.

Now?  No clue.  It’s not like it matters.  I don’t have a nameless gestating baby or anything.  But I’m still curious what ideas you might be able to come up with, what names you think we might like.  Will you join me in playing the name game?  What are some of your favorite names, especially ones you think I might like (this will be easier for those of you who know the boys’ real names)?  If your kids had been a boy/girl instead, what would their names have been?  What are some of your favorites that you couldn’t use for whatever reason?  Or what are some of your most hated names that your husband liked?  That one ought to be interesting!