Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Z's 2 Year Construction Birthday Party!

Z had the best birthday weekend! He had a smile on his face the entire time and was never too overwhelmed by all that was going on around him :) We all had sooooo much fun!

Z woke up on Friday morning to a birthday breakfast. I had decorated the dining room after he went to sleep on Thursday night with all of the construction decorations. He was so excited when saw them up on Friday morning. We decided to do a little party (with all of his friends, look at the picture below) that morning before S went to work. S commutes quite a distance and there would be a lot of pressure for him to get home so that Z would have time to open his gifts before bed. This way he got to have cinnamon rolls as his cake and then was able to play with his presents all day long. It worked out great and I think we will start this as a new tradition.

The first present he opened was this. He loved it! He ate his breakfast in his big boy chair and was very cute about it. Z then opened this and I think the birthday could have been over right there. He loved these!

We were able to pry them out of his hands long enough for him to open a few DVD's and some books. Then the big present came...his new Thomas Train Set :) He was so excited about these that he jumped down onto the floor and insisted that S build a track with him before work. It was a great morning.

The next morning we had the family over for a "Construction Party". I had so much fun planning and executing this party. I got so many great ideas off of the internet and then threw in a few of my own. I decorated the room with pictures of trucks, balloons, Z's trucks and "birthday caution" tape. I then got these from Oriental Trading and had them all around the table (as well as in the kids goody bags). I made little construction signs for all of the food and tried to come up with construction type names for the different dishes (the meatballs were "hot boulders", the candy corns were "parking cones" and the rotini and wheel pasta salad were "nuts and bolts"). The veggies and dip were in a new paint pan and the pretzel rods ("logs") were in a new paint can. For the main dish we did "construct your own sub". This was a big hit with the adults (as well as the "Yield for Beer" sign). S decorated the cake to look like a dump truck (wish I had a picture...we only have video) and we also had cupcakes. It was so cute.

For the goody bags we had Bob the Builder bags filled with Tonka fun fruits, Bob the Builder hammers, the rubber ducks, truck stickers and then I made a CD of Z's favorite truck songs (of course the Bob the Builder Theme song was on this). They also got a truck dinner plate and there very own construction hat (with their name on it).

We must have done a great job prepping Z for the party because he was so calm through the entire thing! He didn't mind the crowd, other children playing with his toys or any of the attention. He was calm and cool and just went with the flow. He actually "opened" his presents this year (which was much more fun for S and I) and got very excited as he opened each one. Z got a lot of great things (so spoiled) and we are so appreciative of everyone who came.

S and I decided to pack up half of the new toys and brought them straight to the guest room while Z was napping. We felt he would be too overwhelmed having all of those new things at once. This way, on a rainy day we can bring down a new toy for he and I too enjoy. It also is a little less chaotic in the playroom.

It was a great weekend for our little man! We were both totally exhausted from the whole ordeal but it was worth it. Now onto planning next years theme ;) Just kidding...I will wait a month or two!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Can't Believe Your Two!!!

My little Bubba...I can't believe your TWO! My eyes fill up with tears thinking about how quickly time has passed and how wonderful the past two years have been with you. It is so hard to imagine a day when you were not in my life.

Every day instead of waking to an alarm clock, I am blessed to wake to the sweet sounds of your voice. I enter your room and am greeted by the warmest smile and a greeting of, "Hello Momma". You jump into my arms and give me the biggest bear hug and a gentle pat on the back (this melts my heart). I then bring you into bed with me where you greet Daddy with the same enthusiastic hello.

Our days are filled with laughter, quiet chats, songs, dancing and trips to many different places. We do have our days of tears and frustration but those soon fade and are replaced by giggles and hugs. You are the perfect age at this moment in time! You are so pure and sweet and love everything life has to offer. The terrible twos have not quite set in and your little melt downs and tantrums are easily dealt with. You LOVE to spend time with me and this means so much to me. You are so polite and sweet and say so many wonderful things....."Thank you Momma", "Please Momma", "Nice Momma", "Good Job Momma", "Hugs Momma". I am still waiting for the day when you say "I love you Momma" but your sign for love and the hugs that you give are enough to tide me over.

Z, I could eat you up. You grow and change everyday and I love to see all of the new things that you can do. I love to hear you count to 12, identify your shapes and shoot a basketball like a pro. You are always on the go and sooooo busy. I love that you can play independently and love to watch all of the games that you make up on your own. Z you are very chatty (just like your Momma) and have so many important things to say. I love to watch you stop, put your finger to your ear and listen to different sounds. You always say "Listen Momma" and I too put my finger to my ear and listen. You then identify what you think it is...too cute!

I can't believe that two years have gone by already. It seems like just yesterday I was rocking you in your glider at 2am praying that you would go back to sleep. I remember reading about how important it was to treasure those late night hours (as hard as they were) because I would never get that time back with you. Well they were right....there is a part of me that misses rocking with you and softly singing into your ear. It is the rare night that I get to do that now and you are so big now that it is a little more awkward for us:)

Z I love you so very much and thank God for you everyday! You have changed my life and given me the best gift of all...you have made me a mother. Thanks for being you, for being so sweet and for loving me so much. I know that there are big changes ahead for us as you continue to grow but if we go through them together as a family, I know we will all grow together.

Happy Birthday Z!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Can't Take It Anymore.....

If I have to listen to the "Bob the Builder" theme song one more time...I think I might cry! We can't listen to music in the car anymore without it being the "Bob the Builder"! If I put on anything else, I hear "Bob Builder again....Bob Builder again..." over and over!!!! Occassionaly he will say "Choo Choo Train Song" and then we mix it up by playing the "Thomas the Train" theme song but that is it!

S won't even turn on the radio when he is in the car...he can't take the song anymore. He drove 35 minutes to my parents house and heard the song about 15 times and that broke him. I hate the quiet and so when I ask Z if he wants to sing a song instead...he insists that we sing the "Bob the Builder" Theme song :) I just can't win.

We also listen to this wonderful song in the house all day long! Does anyone out there have another song, similar to the Bob the Builder song, that I could introduce my son to??? We really need to mix it up :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thomas on a Budget

Z's favorite stores are those with train tables. He would spend all day playing with the different trains if I let him. I remember when Z first found the train table at TRU, he was probably 12 months old and at that point he just liked picking up trains and carrying them around the table. I remember looking around at the different train merchandise and whenever I first saw the price of one Thomas the Tank Engine...my jaw dropped! $10 for a little toy train! And that was a small train...the prices range from $10-22 and that does not include the accessories and track :) I remember saying to myself at that moment..."we will have generic trains in our home, who cares about Thomas anyway?!?".

Well let's fast forward to a year later....after reading a lot about the quality of the different kids of wooden tracks...I decided to go with either Brio or Thomas. Z plays with the Brio trains that I grew up with at my parents house. The quality is great and I knew that whatever we bought for Z, we would save for our grandchildren. Brio is hard to come by these days...so we opted for the commercial Thomas the Train.

After deciding to go with the wooden Thomas trains, I decided to do my best to hunt for the best bargains and sales. So far we have saved so much money! I have hit craigslist, ebay, sales at TRU, sales at AC Moore and then this great website. We have not paid full price for one item and this makes me feel a little bit better. The yard sales and craigslist are the best bet. You can find some high quality stuff for very little money.

So far Z has an imitation train mat and a few Thomas pieces...this weekend, for his birthday, he will get a few sets of track and one simple destination. We then decided to take all of the stuff we bought for him at the yard sales and on ebay and spread it out over the next year. Rather than getting everything on his birthday and Christmas (too overwhelming for a little guy)...he will be enrolled in the "Train of Month Club". Each month, he will get either a train or an accessory. This will spread out the fun all year long :)

So yes, these trains are ridiculously expensive....but if you know where to look....you can do it on a budget :) And BTW I am doing pretty good with out my credit card ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Cold That Won't Quit

Z is still asleep right now and I hope that when I go to get him, his nose is running clear again! Better yet...not running at all!!! For a week now, Z has had a disgusting runny nose. For days he wasn't sleeping or sleeping way too much! He was clingy, had a bad cough and was very fussy. For the past few days he has been doing much better but his nose just won't quit!

This nose has kept us in quarantine for the past week. Playgroup and his activities ban children with green and yellow runny noses (and rightfully so). So that has left Z and I to find things to do on our own. Last week was actually a nice break for us. After spending so much time at my mom's and the hospital and the lake the weeks before that...it was nice to have some downtime at home. Now we are itching to get out and see other people!!!

So Z, I hope you are feeling better because Momma is going "Stir Crazy"!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Did It!!

Well I guess all that worry was for nothing....because I did it! I finished it in 2 hours and 12 minutes....not too bad ;) After a nice burrito lunch, some time in the hot tub and a cool shower....I am feeling pretty good. I am a little stiff though and very tired (haven't really slept all week ).

The start of the race was very overwhelming. Once I heard the starting gun and realized that I was running with 1,000 other women, a wave of emotion came over me. I thought of all of the hours of training I had put in and felt a tear in my eye. This was my day, my race! And what a beautiful day it was! The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect and the course was gorgeous. We ran along the ocean, through the countryside, around town and along the harbor...it was fabulous!

As I ran, I realized that I would not have been able to train for this race without some key people. I would like to take a few minutes to thank them right here. My biggest thanks goes out to S. Without you this race would not have been possible. You watched Z every weekend during my long runs, went to work late a few days so I could run during the week and were my biggest cheerleader. Then today you woke up at 6 AM to drive me to the race and were so good at helping to calm my nerves. You were there cheering for me at such key moments in the race (the start, mile 2, mile 10 and the finish)...it was so nice to see your smiling face in the crowd. Thanks for all of your love and support throughout this whole process. I truly appreciate it and love you so much!

I would also like to thank my parents. Thanks for cheering me on throughout training and mom thanks for buying my cliff blocks. I want to thank you the most for being so smart and staying home today to watch Z. I do think it would have been a long day for him and you were so smart to suggest staying back with him rather than dragging him with you to the race. I missed you at the race but S got some great video footage ;)

Thanks also to my close friends and family who were so supportive throughout my training. A big thanks goes out to my best friend L for text messaging me during the race. That was fun!

Now I would like to thank the many strangers from todays race who helped me reach the finish line. I run alone so during races I usually identify a runner to "stick with". I identified the "purple twins" early on as runners just like me. They would get far ahead of me and then I would catch them as they walked through the water stations. I stuck with them for the last 2 miles and as we hit mile 13, I thanked them for helping me get through the entire race. They smiled and were very sweet.

I would also like to thank "pink girl". You were great to run with during the middle of the race. When that creepy guy came up to you on that bike, a wave of adrenaline came over me. Don't worry, I had your back and was ready to attack if he touched you! Thanks to the "black knight" who helped me through miles 7 and 8 and finally thanks to the "orange and green ladies" who helped me through miles 9-10.

The fans at this race were awesome! Thanks to the kids at mile 5 who had the drums and drew supportive messages all over the road with chalk. They were very uplifting and funny! I would also like to thank the guy with the fruit salad at mile 6. Thanks for putting your fruit salad down long enough to cheer me on ;) Thanks to the family at mile 11 who clapped for me (I was alone at this point)...I really needed it. And finally thanks to the little 8 year old at mile 13 who created his very own water station by holding out his pint size bottle of water...so sweet!

It was a great day and I feel really good (stiff but good). I am sooooo looking forward to my massage tomorrow!!! Right now I am off to kiss my grandmother and show her my medal!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Race is Only Hours Away....

I am so nervous about tomorrow. I always get nervous about my races but I usually don't get too worked up until the day of the race...this time I have been nervous all week! I can barely eat today (and I know I need to) because I am sick to my stomach :)

I have been trying to figure out why I am so nervous and I think I have narrowed it down to these 5 reasons.

1. I have never run this course before, in fact I have never even seen it. This can be both a blessing and a curse. I do have a map and I plan to study it hard tonight.

2. Z has been sick with the worst cold all week. S got it the other night...that leaves me. I am congested right now but I am so afraid that I am going to wake up tomorrow sick! To prevent this I have been downing the OJ and apples :)

3. We have hardly slept this week! Z has been having such trouble sleeping because of his cold and so we all have been up! I know I am not going to sleep tonight because of the nerves and so I will be running for 2+ hours on very little sleep.

4. I have never run 13.1 miles before in my life, let alone in a race setting! The longest was a little over 12 (the other day)....I hope I can do it and I am not super slow! I also hope that I don't go out too fast. My plan is be in the back for the start.

5. What if I have to pee???? This is my biggest fear. When I did the 12 miles the other day, I stopped to go to the bathroom half way through at the hospital. They do have porta potties on the course but what if there is a long line? My time will be awful and I can't stand porta potties!!!!

So those are the worries "racing" through my head. I keep telling myself that I chose to run this race and that it is going to be FUN! However, no matter how many times I tell myself that, I still have the same sick feeling that I had the week before I gave birth. I was so scared of labor and giving birth (as I am sure most first time moms are) that if they had given me a choice to go through with it or just leave him in his nice, cozy condo....Z would still be inside of me right now!

My new approach to this race is to focus on how good I will feel after completing this long time goal. That is how I got through labor (not that I had much choice), I focused on the prize...the beautiful baby that I was going to be allowed to take home. My prize for running this race will be pride in my accomplishment, a nice shiny medal to show off and a massage appointment waiting for me on Monday....I think it will all be worth it ;)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Bless You Mamma"

I almost cried when I heard these little words come out of Z's mouth after I sneezed just now :) How cute is he? I sneezed and he looked up at me from "Super Why" and said with the cutest voice, "Bless You Mamma". How sweet!

I do have to admit that Z is more polite than S and I are :) He says "Please"and "Thank you" for EVERYTHING! :) He is so good about it and strangers are always very impressed. "Please" and "Thank You" were signs he learned early on and so he still signs "please" when he says it...it is really cute (although it looks like he has a bit of a twitch :)).

Sorry to brag about my kid but he is so damn cute (most of the time...did I mention we are now entering the Terrible Twos).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Confessions of a Shopaholic

As some of you know, I have a bit of a spending problem (got this from my mom). I am not the typical shopaholic that spends lots of money on expensive clothes, shoes or jewelry. I am a bargain hunter who loves to spend money! When I find a good bargain, this strange high comes over me and then I convince myself that I must have it. I can usually justify any purchase to myself....I swear it is a disease!!!

This "disease" that I have got much worse when I became a SAHM. Go figure...now I am making no money, yet spending more than before! The reason for this increased spending.... online shopping. When I first had Z, I had a hard time leaving the house. That fall and winter, I did all of my shopping online. Amazon and Old Navy were the two places I spent the most, because they were the kindest and kept my credit card info on file. It got so bad that S and I froze my credit card into the middle of a block of ice.

This literal freezing of the card worked for awhile and my spending cut down dramatically (except for Amazon because they had my number on file...damn them!). Then the day came last spring when I lost my debit card and had a cart full of groceries that needed to be bought ASAP. I rushed home with Z and melted my card and drove back to the store....since then it has been off ice and this has not been good.

Well S and I decided that it would be best if I did not have a credit card (freezing it won't work any more because I now know my number....it really is a disease!). We took some money out of savings and paid the balance off. I will cancel the card later this week and tonight we are going to cut up the card into little bits and dance around them! No more credit cards for me!

I know this is the best move for me. Giving a shopaholic a credit card and telling them not to use it is torture...it can't be done. I think the first step of my reform was to admit that I have a problem (I admitted this last year) and now I need to take steps to make sure that I don't spend money (removing the card from my life was the first big step). My next steps will be to make sure that Z and I keep busy and stay out of stores. I am also planning to unsubscribe from all of my favorite stores who send me email updates about their sales etc. And I think S might have to start getting the mail so that I don't see the fabulous catalogs come in! Hmmmmmmm......

The last step for me is that I am going to go through all of the wonderful things we already have and start getting rid of the things that we do not need. I will either sell them on Craigslist, put them up on FreeCycle, donate them to charity or throw them away. Most people do their big clean up in the spring...I am going to do it this fall. The money I make I will put away for those rainy days when Z and I want to go shopping! ;)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trains, Trains and Bob the Builder

So Z and I have been spending a lot of time at my mom's lately (because of my Noni) and there they have a set of Brio Wooden Trains :) They were my sisters when she was little and this past Christmas, my mom added to the set for Z, G and my dad :) Z loves these trains and always runs to them whenever we walk in the door. We take out the big container and build all sorts of great tracks. My dad often joins in and it is really a lot of fun.

Over the last few weeks Z has become very obsessed with both trains and Bob the Builder. Whenever we see a train book or a Thomas display he runs over shouting, "choo choo". He spends about an hour at the local toy store train table moving all of the trains about and talking to them. At the hospital they have a big construction site with lots of men in hard hats. Z always shouts to them, "Hey Bob Builder!". And every night he sings himself to sleep singing to his stuffed Bob the "Bob the Builder Theme Song". He sings "Boooooooooooob Builder....we fix it! Boooooooooooob Builder....we fix it!" over and over. It is really very cute (we got it on film).

Well now, I too have become obsessed with both :) Planning Z's birthday party has got me thinking all about trucks and Bob :) Planning his party has been a nice distraction from all that has been going on. I have the favors all set, I think I have the menu down and now I am working on the decorations! The invites came out really cute and I have gotten a lot of compliments on them :)

As for my new train obsession....before a few weeks ago I knew nothing about Thomas (other than he was a train and I don't think I was even sure about that). Now I know many of the trains names, that they work on the Island of Sodor and know all about the different train sets and destinations :) I decided to take A Buns Life's advice and get Z his very own train set for his birthday. Thanks to coupons and a big sale at TRU I was able to get a train set and tracks for Z for only $33.00 (normally $60.00). I have also gotten him a few of the truck trains so that he can have his two loves come together this birthday. My obsession has continued into thoughts for Christmas. I am now researching the perfect train table for Z. If you have any tips...(good or bad)....please let me know! A Bun's Life, I would love to know what you have :)

As for an update...my Noni is doing okay. She was moved to rehab on Wednesday and then moved right back to the hospital because she had pneumonia. That was a bit of a traumatic day for her. She is recovering from the pneumonia and will hopefully be moved back to rehab early next week. She is in pretty good spirits considering all that is going on. She is really quite something!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Very Special Training Run

As many of you know I am training for a half-marathon. Well today was the dress rehearsal for my race in two weeks. I planned my 12 mile route very carefully last night and went over it in my mind as I was stretching this morning. As I ran, my route seemed to take on a life of its own. I am sure that when I look back on all of my training in a few weeks, that this mornings run will end up meaning more to me than all of my other runs (even the race itself). This is because my new route brought me to see my biggest cheerleader of all, my grandmother.

My grandmother had a massive stroke on Friday. I am unable to share the details (too emotionally drained to go there right now) but I can say that the doctors are amazed that she can speak given the severity of the stroke. She has lost the use of her left side and has a very long road ahead of her. At age 84 she is unsure of how much rehab she is going to be able to take and we just hope and pray that she can find the strength to get through this.

S, Z and I have been staying with my parents this weekend so that we could be close to the hospital and my mom. S has been busy cooking for the past few days, working to feed us all (he's Italian) and Z has been a pleasant distraction for my mom and uncle. It has been a weekend of family which has been really nice.

Well, when I came up on mile 4 today, I found myself on top of a huge hill. I looked down at the city below and there in the distance was the hospital. It was then that I decided to forget my mile markers, forget my desire to run 12 miles straight, basically forget my training and decided to go and see my grandmother.

You see my grandmother has been one of my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to my running. After every race or long run I have called her to tell her about my accomplishments. It makes me feel so good to hear her "ooh" and "ahh" about what I have done and she is always so excited to share my accomplishments with others :) She is the greatest and has also shared in a lot of my training this summer. She was often there after my long runs at the lake and would sit and veg with me when I was completely wiped out :) We would both complain about all of our aches and pains :)

So today at around mile 6, I broke out of my running stride and into the hospital. There I found my grandmother sleeping peacefully. I smiled at her, shed a few tears and blew her a kiss. On the way out I whispered that I loved her and that I would be back later. After my very short visit I found new life in my run. I was so happy to have seen her and shared that with her (even though she was asleep). I know it was that visit that helped me to get through the 12.2 miles with out too much trouble.

I called my mom at the hospital after my run and told her that I had visited my Noni. She laughed and when she told my grandmother that I had been by my Noni said, "that's savage entertainment". My mom agreed and then said that she couldn't even run 2 miles and my grandmother said that she couldn't even run 50 feet!

Well Noni, you might not be able to run 50 feet now but we are all praying for you and hope that someday soon you will be back with Ruby (her walker) and we will all go to the Olive Garden (or whatever restaurant you choose) for a big celebration dinner :) I love you Noni!!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Perfect End to Summer

I am so sorry I have been out to touch! I got home around 10pm on Monday and then found out that my sister in-law was coming to stay for the next two nights :) I am just now unpacking, doing laundry and trying to catch up on all that I missed while I was away :)

Z and I were blessed with the most perfect week at the lake :) It erased all of the rainy memories from the two weeks earlier in the month! My mom joined us for the entire week and S and my Dad were in and out. We had S's sister and her family up the first weekend and then my sister and her family came over labor day. But most of the week it was just us.....nice, quiet and sunny!

Z and I filled our lazy days with sandcastles, swimming, reading (I finished a book in a week!), puzzles (I did 3 large jig-saw puzzles), running (ran 28.5 miles...not all at once), shopping, trips to the library and so much more.

The week was full of firsts for Z. He tubed for the first time and loved it! Don't worry....I was with him in the tube and the boat only went about 20 miles per hour. In fact, my dad was able to keep up in his kayak! Z got to drive the jetski with me for the first time and even got to ride on a 4x4 too ;) These three events made his week!

The biggest first of all for Z was that he found his first best friend, "A" :) "A" is 9 years old and Z is in love with him. They played together all month and Z could not get enough of "A". "A" would greet Z as soon as he got up in the morning and they played together all day. They went on wagon rides together, went for boat rides, played in the sand, played baseball and shot hoops. "A" came over for breakfast and lunch and seems to love Z as much as Z loves him. They had a five hour good-bye of hugs and high fives. It was very cute!!! Unfortunately "A" lives about 5 hours away but Z will see him over Columbus Day. "A" gave Z two of his old trucks which Z treasures!

It was a great vacation and admit that I was a bit teary when we left. It was the perfect balance of family, friends, relaxation and fun. I know that we will all remember it for many years to come!