Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rocks at the playground

Yesterday evening I took CRB to the neighborhood playground to see if he was interested in trying to do the slide. The playground is really neat, with two separate play structures, one for toddlers and one for bigger kids. He was keen on the slide, but the slide was a distant second to the rocks. Rocks are fascinating and come in all different sizes. Certain 10 month old boys are quite interested in how they feel... and taste. It is not possible to remove all the rocks from the playground equipment, don't even bother trying. I am just glad that I was being very attentive. We won't be going back for several months to a couple of years.

Later that night, sitting down to supper at the new Mexican restaurant that opened close to our house, I was relieved to see all the men and women wearing their hospital badges. Doctors and nurses galore! At least, if something went wrong, I might not be sticking my finger down his throat to remove something else. I feel pretty prepared after the 3 hour infant/child CPR class that ToolMan and I took late last summer, but having some backup made me more able to relax.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Photo Hunters: Creative (& tiny)

Pit Girl for Moto GP

Here, Blythe reminds me of my German friend Tina who, not only is a big GP and F1 fan, but who also used to race motorcycles. Scientists agree she is no doubt the koolest mom on the planet.

For more Photo Hunters participants, visit TN chick.

Weekend Reflections

Last Sunday, I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series before I let myself read the last book. Today I finished book three, HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was such an enjoyable read, it was not at all like I was re-reading it. Tonight I may begin The Goblet of Fire, since it appears ToolMan and Wren are having a late night machining on the lathe.

Today, Colin and CRB had a good day together. This afternoon ToolMan cleaned out the yellow kiddie pool for CRB to have some fun. Colin, never one to miss water activities (so strange for a yorkie!), had to join in the splashing. Colin did not try to dominate the action in the pool, preferring instead to keep bringing me soggy tennis balls to throw again and again. At times Colin would jump in to check on what CRB was doing. To me this means that Colin was not ignoring CRB, and I believe that it is good that Colin had some interest instead of just shying away, which I would not think would be good for our fear aggression dog. Later, ToolMan fired up the grill and fixed us a late lunch outside, so we could chaperone the boys.

The highlight of my week was Thursday when I got to get to know a wonderful family member better. Somehow, growing up we never got to see each other. It's a special blessing to have a new friend out of your family.

For more weekend reflections visit Judi.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wal-Mart Greeter

When I was pregnant with CRB I had very few, but rather specific wishes. Like all parents, I wished for him to be a healthy baby, and like many post-fertility treatment patients, I just wanted the pregnancy to be over and to have my baby.

Some days when I was feeling bolder with my wishes, I wished for him to be a happy baby. Others, I hoped he would be the kind of person that tries to give other people happiness. I also hoped that he would find some pursuits, either hobby or career, that would give him satisfaction, be it through brick laying, science, or swimming. Whatever, as long as he was happy and fulfilled, my role and mommy would be complete.

Relatives though, seem to bring something extra to the mix. I remember my mom saying if only he was going to be a girl, we would not have to worry about the race cars. Laughing I said, "I am not so sure that being a girl would 'fix that' for us." I tried to explain that at least if he is interested it will be more socially acceptable.

When I was pregnant, a relative of ToolMan's, said "well I hope you don't think he is going to be very smart. I would not want you to be disappointed. Don't you know about regression to the mean?" When I failed to answer, this person went on to explain some psychobabble, err psychological theory, that very smart people seldom have children that are as smart as they are. Dumbstruck, I responded with "I am just wishing that he gets here safely." Later, during one of the hundred horror movie replays of this scene in my head, I realized that this was the first time this individual ever called me smart.

I guess it is natural to take a great deal of pride in your children, but honestly I am not sure what ToolMan and I can be credited for... maybe that he sleeps well?

My father takes a great deal of pride in both me and ToolMan, and now CRB. During the 11 times that I changed my major (but I finished college in 2.5 years so no eye rolling please) Dad only requested that I choose something that I would enjoy. My choice did not have to make a lot of financial sense, or be groundbreaking. He is just the kind of dad that is encouraging, and chooses to take pride in his child.

CRB is a tremendously happy person. He wakes up smiling. He is fascinated by his dog who does not care for him, but he never gives up hoping that Colin with reciprocate. The rare moment that Colin does is enough for him to keep trying, over and over. He has been saying "hi puppy" for sometime, but I have just now figured it out.

He seems driven to smile and wave at perfect strangers until they giggle back at him. The extreme nature of his behavior caused ToolMan to speculate that he will indeed be a Wal-Mart Greeter at some point in his life. Perhaps a career as a rock star, physical therapist or politician might pay better, but whatever he chooses, I will be proud.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

ToolMan's boy

Early this afternoon, my not quite 10 month old CRB took a shelf out of a cabinet. Once he had that free, he began pulling the rod pins out that hold the shelf. Tonight, he mastered the bathtub drain.

He's been able to do a zipper for about 2 1/2 months. Early this week, I handed him a battery powered alarm clock to keep him occupied while I changed his diaper. He had the battery cover off and the AAA batteries out in less than 10 seconds.

CRB does not try to put things back together yet, but he is masterful at taking them apart.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I used to be the sort of reader that finished a book before starting another. Not anymore… At the moment I have quite a few not completely read books on the nightstand.

  • The Reagan Diaries I have learned so much. I remember the day that Reagan was shot, but I did not realize that he was shot only 3 months into his presidency. Reading the book has helped me understand better the role of the President in our government. I am 173 pages into it, and I am sure that I stopped because there are just so many times the phrase "Left for Camp David" is interesting to me.
  • Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. This book arrived in Saturday's mail and I have finished reading it from cover to cover. I am quite excited about the projects featured in it, if I can just find some great fabrics…
  • The Cat who Dropped a Bombshell by Lillian Jackson Braun. Her latest whodunit featuring Koko and YumYum. Currently I am on page 117, and looking forward to the rest.
  • Cesar's Way
    by Cesar Millan. I have blogged about this before - this is a fascinating book, and I do understand my pup better. I am a slacker mom, I am only on page 209 but I will finish it before I get to read the new Harry Potter book.
  • One Step Closer – Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God
    by Christian Scharen. The book is engaging, but to understand it I need the Bible out, as well as a notepad and pen. At some point, I start having law school flashbacks about all the reading I did, and next thing I know ToolMan inquires "When is the test?"
  • Sick of Shadows by MC Beaton. Another whodunit, but I have not gotten to the point that anyone actually died I don't think. Beaton is one of my favorite authors, but I her Edwardian series is my least favorite.
  • Babywise
    by Ezzo & Bucknam. I only made it to page 67 and gave it to my mom to fill me in on the rest. She kindly obliged me and to this day I do follow many of the Babywise principles. The principle of putting the baby down to sleep while he is awake has worked great. I suspect that is why my child with great ease naps for about 3 hours and sleeps 13-15 hours.
  • Miscellaneous issues of Rolling Stone. Better moms read Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens for the recipes. Other women subscribe to Traditional Home. Me? I occasionally purchase a RS off the rack.

Sunshine and Daydreams

title above from lyric of the Grateful Dead's Sugar Magnolia

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thorazine Shuffle

Colin's issues have come to an unfortunate head. His anger has been pretty effectively channeled away from CRB and it is now directed at my carpets. As of Friday, Colin is now being doped with a thorazine medicine for dogs while we continue his behavior modification. Our plan is to only use this about 2-3 more days.

Last night we had one of our worst nights with CRB. We tried mixing some Lactose Free Sensitive formula into his regular Alimentum hypoallergenic formula at a ratio of 20%, 80%. He was awake and upset roughly every 45 minutes. It was hard for everyone and I am officially chickening out of the effort to introduce anything other than soy products to him. He does fine when he has soy cream cheese and soy cheese, but even the amount of milk in goldfish crackers causes a problem for him.

The one good thing that came from last night is I feel that I really did all I could do to breastfeed him. I gave up everything with milk for 7 weeks and his tummy did no better. I am not sure how long the milk elimination would have taken but I could not pump and dump any longer than 7 weeks. He is truly sensitive to it and I did everything I could. If later in life CRB tells me that my not breastfeeding him the recommended 12 months caused him to score 5 points less on the SAT than he would have otherwise I will remind him that formula is why he is alive and thriving.

The other crazy thing we did today is a major toy elimination for CRB and Colin. Our lives were becoming entrapped with stuff and ToolMan and I could not take it any more. CRB and Colin both play with the same things over and over. For CRB, his favorite toys are the simpliest with the least amount of batteries. I am going to continue my push to buy him very few items that need batteries. He's much more likely to babble and have fun making sounds if he's the only source for sound.

We kept plenty of toys for each of the boys to have a great rotation, and the ones that we elimated are going to stay in the shop's attic while we finalize what we really need/want and where the extras need to go. Lately I have been doing a good bit of shopping at the Salvation Army place so I have some insights into how I need to package up the toys so someone else can get some use out of them: leave the batteries in so the staff can easily tell the toy works; if the toy has parts, firmly attach the pieces with packing tape or place an item and its parts in its own clear plastic bag.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Loose Change

At the moment, my job is not providing much mental challenge.

CRB provides some:
  • Did he just try to stick his tongue through vents in the front of the hair dryer? yes ...
  • While it was plugged in? insert your favorite curse word...
  • Did he just eat that business card? almost ...
  • Does he really think rawhide tastes good? apparently...

Obviously, I am hurting for some real challenge. Also, I seem to wait in line a lot.

Couple those two facts and you have my new game for the Taco Casa drive-thru: If I am paying cash I try to give the cashier exact change using the most number of coins. It's just like a problem from elementary school math team competitions, and yes, I was a math team member . The sounds you hear are my real life friends dying from laughing so hard. They had to have a girl, OK? Better now?

Regardless, this game seems to have enough variables to keep my little mind occupied, and my wallet ends up lighter.

Full disclosure: at the Casa, they make your food to order, there is always a wait. This gives me enough time and my sauce on the side. :-)

If you have idea of ways to pass the time be sure to drop me a comment!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Weekend Reflections

I have so many things to be thankful for this week.

First, I am thankful for our allergist. He is a great man and helped CRB this week. Dr. D's original training was as a pediatrician and he went back to for the allergy/immunology specialty. What this means to me is I can feel good about having all areas addressed. I have been watching CRB especially closely as he has been doing some extreme nighttime coughing and a bit of wheezing, on top of his regular constant sneezing. Dr. D was ready with a plan. CRB, already a pro at the nasal spray, now has an inhaler system ready for those (scary) nighttime problems. Dr. D also said to bring him back if he needed the inhaler much or if I have concerns. CRB has still not had an ear infection. Dr. D said that was quite remarkable especially considering his congestion. I am so extremely thankful to have Dr. D and access to such excellent healthcare for my boy.

Dr. D said no meat til 12 months, and no milk products either. I have not been giving him meat, but milk is in a surprising number of things. Since we cut out the milk items this week, CRB's stomach is great. He may have that intolerance we suspected. Yesterday, I got to the grocery and found some soy cream cheese. This has been a big hit with CRB, so I am no longer very stressed about "depriving" him.

ToolMan has made excellent progress with the F1000 project. Progress=happy ToolMan=happy Leslie.

Lastly, I am so thankful that the Cesar Millan techniques are working. It would be a stretch to call the CRB-Colin interaction perfect, but it is a process and we are making excellent progress.

For more Weekend Reflections, check out Judi's blog at Mommy of Two.

Toys in the Attic

Monday I spent the day with my mom cleaning out some closets, cabinets and drawers. The impetus of this is her desire to "get her house back." Mom still has many items of my Grandmother's. The items that are causing her the most grief are things such as clothes, books, and papers. Again Monday, I was very glad that ToolMan helped me make some intense passes through her Grandmama's apartment in December, or we'd be dealing with kitchen stuff, even more clothes, etc.

I had been pushing for CRB to have some space when we stay at my parent's, so we ended up trying to make that happen too. In going through some closets and drawers, we came upon many of my old dolls and their clothes. When I was growing up, my parents always had enough money for what we needed, but unlike most only children (CRB included) I was not spoiled by stuff. Maybe in part because of that, I developed a special attachment to each of the dolls. As a child I had plenty to keep me busy, but I did not have the modern excess of stuff. For example, I had a single Barbie, a Skipper, and a Ken. Not exactly third world, but if you knew how much I played with those dolls...

I pushed through, rationalizing that some one else could enjoy these dolls now, or at least use them for something. We did not get to the 3 Barbies thankfully, as I have them stashed in another room in their house. If we had I might have lost it and reclaimed the rest. Many of my doll clothes were actually my baby clothes, so that proved very difficult for mom. The rest of the clothes were all handmade by either my mom, one of my grandmothers or aunts, or even myself... those were the ones I stressed over the most.

We did make a great deal of progress, but I am still quite haunted by the whole thing. Later that week I took CRB to the Salvation Army store where we purchased... cover your eyes... somebody else's naked dolls. We got 2 Barbies, 2 Bratz (one of which who was wearing her original thong underwear!), a GI Joe, and a knockoff American Girl, all for the low, low price of $6.

Why I am I buying these dolls? To make clothes for them of course! This week I found etsy.com. It's an awesome website where people sell handmade items. I don't have a tremendous amount of talents, but I can make some great doll clothes. ToolMan asked what I was up to, was I planning to quit my day job, etc., and I explained that this mommy wants to make doll clothes and I was not sure that CRB was going to be that into it. ToolMan, relived that I was not moving to a $3 per hour job, became super-supportive.

While checking out my competition, I saw Blythe. Blythe is the size of Barbie, with a Skipper body. (That means Blythe has a huge head). Her eyes change colors with the pull of a string. She is AWESOME. There are different models of Blythe (kind of like Barbie I think). If you are interested check out the wikipedia entry for Blythe. After about a week of intense shopping and research, I ordered Rosie Red Encore. To see her, check out this Japanese forum post that features owner shots of my Blythe, one of which I have posted below.

Check back later today for a pack leader, family update.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Photo Hunters: FAKE

Even smaller than the real thing...

For more PhotoHunters, click here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Things I Never Thought I Would Do ... but did this week

  1. use a ziploc bag for gift wrap ... I am usually not a fan of even reusing tissue paper and gift bags, so this is a new low.
  2. have a living room with no lamps ... I dislike intense overhead light, but I have never had a family member try to use lamp cords to pull themselves to a standing position.
  3. install 36 outlet plug covers ... I thought those caps were a dangerous choking hazard but my concerns of that are outweighed by the shock potential from the very Curious CRB.
  4. see my son put Colin's huge rawhide bone in his mouth and not think it was an emergency ... Formerly this would have been a eewh, but this week I was just relieved that the object was too big to choke on.
  5. turn a spare bedroom into a playroom ... It could have been the dining room but the bedroom was carpeted.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Yes, I will get your coffee

I saw this at Judi's tonight and I just had to participate.

If you had the opportunity to do a 1-year internship in a company or field completely unrelated to your current career or specialty, what would be your top 5 choices?

  1. Horticulturist
  2. The Smithsonian
  3. The Washington Post
  4. SPEED tv for Dave Despain
  5. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

I tag Kerri, with the comment that I want us to still open a stellar doggie daycare that caters to celebrities one day ! ;-)

Pack Leader

We arrived safely home Thursday night thanks to ToolMan and the Garmin 396 with XM weather. It was great having Next Rad in my lap while listening to the controllers re-route traffic around Atlanta for weather. Our self-imposed weather deviation may have cost us a whole 15 minutes. Although we were on an IFR flight plan we only spent about 20 seconds or less in MVFR conditions. I am glad ToolMan solicits my input for circum-weather-navigation.

Friday morning was quite upsetting. Colin's anxiety turned to aggression against CRB. CRB was obliviously crawling towards one of his toys, and Colin took a predatory few steps and then lunged for him. ToolMan, my mom, and myself were all in the room. ToolMan picked up Colin before he managed to nip CRB. Colin was firmly held, told NO!, and whacked with a cupped hand on his booty. Then we set Colin outside the room and closed the door. Unfortunately, my mom said "Oh poor Colin" and left the room to go comfort him 3 seconds later.

ToolMan and I were quite horrified for ourselves for not realizing that Colin's feelings had escalated to this point. For months, we had seen and laughed at the toy stealing. For a few weeks, we had seen the slight grumbling. Earlier in the week, we saw Colin lift his lip and "smile" at CRB. That was not smiling! It was bearing his teeth, and is a show of aggression in a dog, even if that dog happens to be a yorkie. We made quick decisions (Colin was not going to ToolMan's parents and would go home with my mom til we could re-group.) So we unpacked the car to get Colin's stuff out, and repacked it and left for our trip minus Colin.

Before we left town, ToolMan took me to the bookstore to buy Cesar Millan's book. On the way up, I managed to read 100+ pages. I have always been really amazed with the things Cesar does on his show. His book is fascinating. It is not a 1-2-3 style how to book, and he spends the beginning part of the book explaining dogs and packs. I think his technique could only be understood and implemented once you have the background he provides. One thing that he wrote that sticks with me is that you have to be 100% pack leader 24-7. As I value my dog, and as I want him to be a trusted part of the family, I have completely committed to Cesar's techniques and mentality. I did not think it was going to be easy to get Colin to walk on his leash beside or behind me, to "let" me leave through the door first, etc., but I understand now how important this is, and I will make it so.

Monday morning I headed to my parent's to help my mom clean up some cabinets and closets. As soon as I got to their home, I tried to be calm, assertive pack leader. I had told my mom some of it, so she was ready and supportive. I had always thought that the jumping and hyperactive excitement that dogs do when there owner's get home was out of love and joy. Cesar explained why it is actually dominating behavior and must be stopped. I let no crazy jumping take place. I am going to miss that but it is not an acceptable part of the plan so it is out.

The difference in our interaction was kind of shocking. I truly believe (as Cesar said) Colin is going to be a happier dog. We made enough progress at my parent's house for me to bring Colin home. During our drive home, he was completely calm and relaxed in the car.

At home ToolMan and I continued with the plan letting Colin know that he a pack member not the pack leader. Colin is showing a great deal of fear to CRB, but we are carefully following Cesar's plan, and we are being sure to not let Colin run off and hide or conversely, show any aggression.

If you are a dog owner, don't just buy the book, or passively watch the show, read the book.

And yes... I managed the leash thing and I completely agree that it is an imperative first step.