Loose Ends

I find myself twiddling my thumbs a bit today.

Today, both of the kids are at school and Scot is at work and I am home alone for 8 hours for the first time since Jamie was born.  (I think.  It’s possible I’m lying about that but my memory isn’t what it used to be.)  I decided that I was going to enjoy this first day of relative freedom and take it easy a bit.  After I got the kids off to school, I did the grocery shopping.

ALONE.

Once I came home and unloaded everything, I sat down and made a list of chores to tackle today.  It wasn’t very long but it was also a list that I would have had trouble finishing a week ago when the kids were home all day.  I didn’t think anything of it, I just figured it was a decent list to tackle.

It was done by 1:15.

I didn’t rush.  I didn’t run around like a crazy person cleaning my house.  I had a leisurely lunch.  I played around on Facebook and Twitter.  I even watched ridiculous middle-of-the-day television.  (By the way, there is NOTHING on TV in the middle of the day!)  Still, I managed to complete that list of tasks two hours before Liam is due home from school.

It seems I am a little out of practice with this thing called “free time.”  I’m sure I’ll get back into the groove with it soon.  But for now I’m at loose ends.

Endings and Beginnings

Summer ends.

School begins.

Today was the day it all changed.

It’s been a good summer.  After promising myself that we would have fun this summer, I went right out and did just that.  We had playdates, we went to the pool, we visited the zoo, we spent time at the beach, we visited family, we spent time at playgrounds and parks.  We filled our days with laughter and fun.  The summer flew past in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

The last two weeks before school started seemed to take forever, though.  Liam was clearly bored with our summer routine and even going out and having fun seemed like a chore.  His listening ears seemed to have been shoved in the back of a drawer somewhere to gather dust.  I spent a lot of time breaking up fights between the kids because they just couldn’t leave each other alone.

Clearly, it was time for school.

Today was the joyous day Liam finally became an official first grade student.

Ready for school!
First grade is a big deal.  He goes to school all day, he gets to ride the bus both ways, he gets to eat his lunch at school and have recess with his friends.  He was a bit nervous about it all over the last couple of days but this morning he strapped on his backpack and hopped on the bus like a pro.
I got lucky and the first day of the school year fell on a day that Jamie was also out of the house at daycare.  So, I spent the morning cleaning the house like some kind of maid on meth and then cleaned myself up and headed over to my neighbor’s annual “Boohoo/Yahoo Party.”  This is the party she has on the first day of the school year for all the neighborhood Moms.  Lots of yummy food and conversation later it was time to get Liam off the bus.
It seems as though his first day was a smashing success.  He seemed excited about his teacher and his desk and meeting the other kids.  Now it’s time to get into a groove with the new routine.

Chatterbox

Jamie is forging ahead with language just as fast as he can go.  He’s begun to use 3 and 4 word phrases without prompting.  He tries so hard to communicate with us.

His recent list of phrases includes:

Maggie, where are you?
There it is!
Night-night! Love you!
Sit right here, Mama.
I don’t know.

It sounds like he’s saying more than just those but, as usual, the enunciation could use some work.  I’m just happy to hear him trying in the first place.

Aside from increased vocabulary and better facility with stringing words together, the biggest change is how much happier he is.  We used to have 20 min tantrums at meal times because he couldn’t communicate what he wanted.  He would get frustrated, we would get frustrated, and it would all degenerate into screams.  Those days are mostly a thing of the past.  His base level of frustration has dropped significantly and stems more from not getting what he wants rather than not being able to tell us what he wants.  He no longer loses his shit at the first sign that someone doesn’t understand him.  Instead, I consistently see him try desperately to get his point across and he works at it until he succeeds.

There is still a very long way to go.  He is way behind his peers as far as being inteligible goes.  If my memory hasn’t rotted away completely (always a hazard), Jamie seems to be around the same level Liam was when Liam got tubes just before he turned two.  After Liam got his tubes, it took him about a year to catch up.  He wasn’t nearly so badly delayed as Jamie and he didn’t get early intervention like Jamie has but it still took almost a year.  Now, he never shuts up, uses words far beyond his age level, and deploys sarcasm with devastating accuracy.  With continued therapy, I believe Jamie will be chattering away like a pro within the next year.

Blue Stripe!

Liam had a belt test this morning and he passed with flying colors.

If he keeps it up at this pace, he’ll earn his blue belt in October, be a red stripe before Christmas, and earn his red belt just after his birthday.  Once he’s a red belt he gets to start breaking boards.  After red belt he has to earn 3 black stripes before he gets his black belt.  So, as long as nothing derails him, he’ll get his black belt sometime when he’s eight.
I can’t tell you how proud of him I am.

An Update On The Diet Thing

It’s been a couple of weeks since I talked about this and for those of you following along at home I thought I’d give you a quick update.

Two weeks ago I did a mid-day strafing run weigh in because we had dinner plans with friends and I couldn’t make it to my regular meeting.  It had not been my best week and I was stressed with trying to prepare for our trip to boot.  I was hoping to just hold steady.  I gained 0.4 lbs.  I saw it as a victory because it could have been more.

Last week I missed meeting and weigh in altogether because we arrived home from vacation just hours before meeting time and shortly after I got everything unpacked from the car, I managed to smash my bumper into the garage.  Needless to say (but I’m going to anyway), I was not having a fabulous night and choose a high potency stout over Weight Watchers.

This week I went back to my meeting.  I got back on track with my eating habits, got back to tracking (which I slacked on during vacation), and tried to whip my sorry butt into shape.

I lost the 0.4 lbs I had gained two weeks ago.

This may seem like the tiniest of victories but it’s not.  For one, losing is losing not matter how much or how little.  For two, I gained weight in the week I was gone on vacation.  I tried to stay on track but the longer I was gone the more I veered off track.  I did avail myself of my parents treadmill on a couple of occasions but that couldn’t possibly make up for the crappy way I was eating.  When I got home I was a couple of pounds above where I wanted to be.  So that 0.4 loss was more like 2 pounds.

Onward and downward (on the scale, that is)!

It’s All Happening At The Zoo

Our last big outing while visiting my parents was a trip to the zoo.  This was Liam’s favorite part of the trip because he knew the dinosaurs were back at the zoo and he couldn’t wait to see them again.  Each summer the Detroit Zoo installs a whole raft of animatronic dinosaurs that move and bellow and spit water (some of them).  You walk a gravel path through a wooded area and the dinos are all tucked into the trees.  They’re huge and really cool and very, very well done so Liam was excited.

But before we hit the dinosaurs, we stopped into the Butterfly House.  This is always a calming oasis of green plants and fluttering lepidoptera.  Dad planned ahead and wore red which always attracts the butterflies.

Two landed on his back to start with.

Then one moved up to his shoulder.

The dinosaurs were even better this year than the last time we saw them.  They had more of them and they were fantastic.  
Brachiosaurus

T. Rex

Quetzalcoatlus

They don’t spare the gore, either.

The detail was amazing.

“Wow, Mom!”

Giganotasaurus.  Yes, he was HA-UGE.
After the dinos we wandered through a bunch of the zoo.  We didn’t see the whole thing because it’s a big zoo and Jamie has a time limit.  We were working to see as much as we could before we needed to head home so Jamie could nap and before the worst of the heat of the day.  But, we got to see a fair bit and then snagged a ride on the train to get back to the front of the zoo.
Mandarin Duck

River Otter

The ubiquitous peacock

Gorilla.  He was magnificent.

The boys and me at the entrance to the polar exhibit.

Jamie inside the polar exhibit

Liam on the train
It was a great day and I’m really glad we saved it for our last outing of the trip.  It gave the kids something to look forward to and ended our vacation on a high note.  Days like this one remind of how much easier things are getting as the kids get older.  We still have our rough spots – oh boy, do we – but getting out and having fun together is a regularly attainable goal these days.
Now, we’re back in the swing of things here at home and looking toward the start of school.  In just two more weeks Liam will be a first grader.  Where did the summer go?

Beachy Fun!

While we were visiting my parents last week, we made it a point to hit the beach.  You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a beach where they live whereas it’s a two hour drive to Erie to get to one around here.

So, yeah, the beach was on the list of must-do activities.

Sunday morning we got up and went to early Mass then headed straight home, changed into beach attire and headed off for a couple of hours of sun and sand before we had to go home for Jamie’s nap.  Liam has been to a beach before but it was Jamie’s first experience with it and he loved it.  The water was the perfect temperature as well as clear and clean.  Jamie ran right in and was completely fearless about the water.  The kid would have walked in over his head if we let him.

They also spent a good amount of time playing in the sand and just generally having a great time.

Getting a shell from Puppa

A handful of sand…

…bombs away!

THEY ACTUALLY PLAYED TOGETHER.

Puppa with his grandsons

We stayed for a couple of hours and then everyone was hungry and getting tired so we packed up and headed home.  I’d forgotten how much fun being at the lake can be.  Walking up to the beach, I caught the smell of the water and suddenly I was a little girl again, on vacation with my family, knowing that we were almost to the most fun I would have all day because I could smell the water.

It was great to make those memories with my kids.  I hope we can do it again next year.