Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hot Hunks only $1.49 !!!

So, here is Part II on dining out. We took Mateo out to eat today at Johnny Rockets, which is a 50's themed diner meant to bring you back to a simpler time when a hamburger cost a quarter, only it cost $6.25 today. On a side note, what happened to McDonalds? Does anyone remember when McDonald's was, like, the cheap place to eat when you only had a couple bucks in your pocket? Now, when I feel like eating deep fried fat and clogging an artery in one night, it costs me $20 bucks!

Anyway, we were at Johnny Rockets having overpriced hamburgers and trying to keep our kid happy and most of all, quiet. Side note: lemonade works great but expect repercussions. Mainly your child being so hopped up on sugar that you might actually consider "borrowing" your nephew's ADHD medication just this one time. Today he bounced his head off the car seat over and over singing "da, da, da, da" all the way home (he only says "mama" when he wants something). And when he got back to the house, he ran around in circles until he bumped into the wall and fell over, stopping for one moment to pick himself back up and do it again. And that was watered down lemonade.

So, in an effort to keep our son happy while we had a semi-pleasant meal bopping along to Little Richard, my husband decided to let him play with his cellphone. To Mateo this was quite special because Mommy never lets him play with her cellphone because she has enough trouble not dropping it or accidently flushing it down the toilet herself and doesn't need any help from a toddler in destroying it or calling random strangers in Guam. So this actually worked. He loved it and was happy and most of all, quiet (you're getting the idea, right?), the whole time. I know I stress the "quiet" part of my stories a lot. But that's because MY SON IS THE LOUDEST CHILD IN THE HISTORY OF WORLD!!! I'm not exaggerating. I wouldn't be surprised if I have hearing loss by 35.

So back to the story. Dave is eating chicken fingers, Mateo is playing with Dave's cellphone, and I'm texting Mateo to stop throwing half chewed fries onto mommy's hamburger. I look over to see if Mateo got my message and on the phone screen it says...

Hot Hunks. Get picture messages of hot hunky men on your phone every day for only $1.49!

Yes, he was about to order porn on my husbands cell phone. I was cracking up....and relieved
we caught him in time....$1.49 per day is expensive!

So, away with the phone and back to the lemonade, to which I think Mateo has developed an addiction. "Juice, juice, juice, juice..." Side note: If the point of saying the same word as many times as possible for a period of 30 minutes or more is to make the person so delirious with insanity that they would do anything to stop it, then my son truly is an evil genius.

Point of the story: Johnny Rockets' burgers aren't half bad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going Green!

So the hip new thing today is going green. Well, I just have to say, Dave and I were thinking green before it was cool. Both of us, being nature lovers and avid hikers and campers, have always been huge advocates for the environment. But we can always do better.

Inspired by Earth Day and the Oprah special about earth day, I decided that, as a family, we can make a few more changes in our lives to become more earth-friendly.

For one, I am a paper towel-aholic. I use half a roll just cleaning the kitchen counters. A whole roll for the bathroom. Well, I've been feeling guilty lately that I am probably filling the majority of the Coventry landfill with my barely used paper towels, when the whole time I could be using a dishtowel or wash cloth.

But, the problem is my husband. And I'm not just saying that. I've tried to paper towel detox before by replacing them with dish towels. But this is what happens. Dave spills some raw chicken juice on the counter while making dinner (yes, my husband cooks, and he sews too) he grabs the first towel he sees in a drawer or hanging on the oven handle to wipe it up. Five minutes later, he wipes my son's hands with the same towel. So you see how that doesn't work?

But despite the risk of salmonella poisoning, I decided to give it another try. Now we have a "system". Green towels are for wiping things, red towels are for wiping people. Paper towels are limited to blood, chemicals, and salmonella and e.coli spills.

Then I heard another alarming fact. Plastic bags, like the ones we get at the grocery store, are not biodegradable. And there are so many in our oceans that there is actually a small island in the south atlantic made entirely of walmart bags and celebrities are now buying property to build vacation homes. Okay, that may not be a fact. But it is true that whales are choking on them daily and there are millions of them floating around Antarctica. Scary. Our grandkids will not have to worry about being stung by a jellyfish or bitten by a crab while swimming at the beach, they will have to worry about being suffocated by a plastic bag floating over their head. Keep out of reach of children. That's why we bought canvas reusable shopping bags instead of using plastic ones.

We can only do our best and even just a few small changes can make a difference. Wouldn't it be nice if we could afford to shop only locally grown organic, compound all our unused food, and drive a hybrid car?

Point of the story: Stop using plastic bags or you will be vacationing on one.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Adoption Etiquette

On a more serious note, I decided to write a bit about talking about adoption with adoptive families. This comes from several comments I've received from well intentioned friends or family concerning what to say or what not to say. I must preface this with the warning that this advice is my opinion as an adoptive mom only. I can not speak for all adoptive families but will give you the truth according to my personal preferences.

Tip 1: Asking if a child is adopted does not offend me (again that is personal, others might feel differently). Asking where my child's real mother is, is offensive. Are those your real breasts? Also, don't introduce my family as Dave, Justice, and their adopted son. This is John, Mary, and their C-section twins!

Tip 2: Don't pretend my child looks like me. First of all, my child is African-American and Puerto Rican, with curly black hair and brown eyes. I am white with blonde hair and blue eyes. My husband is covered in freckles. There's no way he came from us. We don't pretend he did, so you don't have to either. We do like to talk about his looks and heritage because we have a deep appreciation for all the parts of who he is. We love to collect Puerto Rican recipes and ideas for hair and skin care. We don't, however, like to hear any stereotypes about his heritage or anyone else's. Are you a drinker because you are Irish? Or in the Mafia because you are Italian?

Tip 3: Asking questions about the adoption is okay, usually. Where, when, how, are good questions to ask. Asking personal health questions is not okay, unless you are a close friend or family. I am not going to tell a virtual stranger about my son's birthparent's healthy history. We are proud of our decision to adopt and our experience with our son. We love to brag about him and more than just the fact that he is adopted. He is a remarkable kid with many gifts to offer. There have been challenges along the way and we are happy to talk about them with people who are invested in our lives, not with those we have just met, no offense. Does your daughter have a milk allergy because she wasn't breastfed? Does your son have asthma because you sat in the smoking section of a restaurant once?

Tip 4: Phrases we don't use: give away (as in why did she give him away?)
real mom or dad - substitute "birthmom" or "birthdad"
of your own (as in are you going to have a child of your own?) duh, we have one of our own, by love and law. Substitute - "biological child"

Tip 5: If you have a question about if something is okay to talk about, just ask. It doesn't bother me if you ask what the right terminology is or if it is offensive to talk about something. I will tell you honestly and have more respect for you because of it.

Tip 6: This is a big one. Don't, don't, don't make jokes, even if they are really really funny, about my son's birth culture, birth parents, disabilities, race, or otherwise. Even if it is not directed at him, if it is about his culture in anyway, it is offensive! Because Mateo is in our family, so is his culture and ethnic identity, and because we love him so much, we also must love his culture. So please, as harmless as it seems, don't make ethnic jokes. This may seem obvious but I have actually heard offensive jokes about my son's ethnicity in my own circle of friends. So just think before you speak.

I hope this helps some people to connect with families that have adopted. I know it's hard to talk about some of these things honestly with people. We don't want to offend one another. But to me, it shows people care when they ask about my son and allow me to talk about him. Just like any other mom. If you are overstepping what I feel is appropriate, I will tell you that the topic is too personal for me to share. It's as easy as that, so don't be afraid.

I love this T-shirt! It says, "I tried to be good, but I got bored"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Mommy, your skin is showing!"

Now that it's getting warmer outside, mommy is wearing capris, and Mateo has discovered skin. I don't know why he hasn't noticed it before. It's not like we don't have skin on our hands and face. But for some reason, our bare feet and legs have become very fascinating to him. In fact, he stalked a barefoot woman around the classroom at gymboree trying to touch her feet. It was kind of embarrassing. I mean, what do I say to that?

"Sorry, my son has a foot fetish"? "Nice feet you got there"? "He's studying to be an podiatrist"?

At home, dare I wear shorts around the house, Mateo gets very excited and chases me around trying to squeeze, kiss, or smush his face into my legs. And he pets my feet and tries to sniff my husband's, which can be dangerous. Does anyone else think this is weird?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My son is an evil genius

I swear my son is an evil genius. And I say that with much love and kindness. But, seriously, for having "developmental delays" he's one smart kid. I'll tell you why he's an evil genius.

I don't allow my son to throw his toys in the house. This may or may not seem reasonable to you. I've wrestled with it myself. What's the harm if he throws a little action figure here or there once in a while? Just ignore it and it will stop being fun. Well, that's not the way my son did it. My son would find the biggest toy he could manage, pick it up over his head in true WWF fashion and toss it as hard as we could with a loud grunt. I used to call him "The Hulk". Did you know that chimpanzees are 4 times stronger than their weight? Well, so is Mateo. The kid actually has deltoids. Truly defined deltoids.

One of his best moves is when we're in the car. I usually give him a sippy cup of juice to keep him....well, let's be honest....quiet. And when he's done drinking, he does this really cool thing. He actually throws the empty sippy cup at me making it through the center console and right into my cup holder. Seriously, I am not making this up. So, in the car, throwing is okay. It saves me the trouble of feeling around under the seats looking for the sippy cup that's been there since Halloween and is now growing fur and making the car smell like there's a dead body in the trunk. And of course we moms find all sorts of good stuff under there; moldy munchkins, stale animal crackers, a colony of mice, etc.

So, back to the no throwing rule. As soon as he lost a few toys after throwing them, he got smart. Instead of throwing a toy, he would very casually, as if it happened purely by accident, drop it on the floor. All the while looking at me with a face that says, "but I didn't throw it." I thought that was quite genius.

One of his other evil genius schemes happens in time-out. For a while we tried the Supernanny time-out technique where you put the child back into time-out everytime they get up with saintly patience and without saying a word (that means no "sit in that seat right now and don't you dare get up!"). So Mateo, after experiencing that technique a few times, decided to get smart and exact his revenge. When we put him on the step stool for time-out, he would stand up knowing one of us would come over to sit him back down on the seat, and as soon as we would get close enough to him, he would start swinging. This happened over and over again. So I did what every responsible, self-controlled parent would do.

"Sit in that seat right now and don't you dare get up!"

Then I gave up. Not on discipline, but on time-out and on Supernanny. What does that idealistic, overly pleasant, British woman know about parenting anyway? I don't even think she has kids.

So you see, my son is an evil genius. There must be more people like him out there in the world, reeking havoc on teachers and bus drivers, pushing the boundaries of gravity, becoming class clowns or rebels without a cause. Well, I've come to terms with it.

But in all seriousness, my son is great! He is funny, animated, very perceptive and sensitive. He is loving and compassionate. He is musically inclined and loves to dance. He gives hugs and kisses to us all the time. He has a strong will and knows what he wants. He is decisive and persistant. All these things will help him achieve his dreams one day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

on the subject of discipline

So, I got some superb, top-of-the-line, just wonderful parenting advice today at the mall. Basically my son is going through a hitting "phase". "Phase" is what the physicians call it. My question is, how long does it take to stop qualifying for a "phase"? I ask because his hitting "phase" has lasted....hmm, let's see....since we got him, 8 months ago! Now really. I am new at this but I thought a "phase" was like a few weeks. Or maybe a month. But is 8 months really a phase? Any experienced parents are welcome to respond.

Now, I've researched some different methods to use with a more "aggressive" toddler. Another one of those pediatrician words, "aggressive". I feel like I'm talking about a dog or raccoon or something. Most of the websites talk about hitting as a dysfunctional sort of way kids interact with one another. I understand that, and we have been through that "phase" already. This is different. This is purposefully hitting, kicking, and now scratching, when he can't get his way or if I tell him "no". I'm trying to "strike" a "balance" between "being" consistent "so" I don't raise "a" brat and not shooting myself in the head if I have to bring this kid into time-out one more time! It is very frustrating; sort of like my libral use of quotation marks.

Anyway, back to the advice. So, my husband and I were at the mall when we got the answer to our prayers, mother-of-all mothering advice. We took Mateo to the little kids play area. You know what I'm talking about right? Where you can drop your kid off for a few hours while you go shop - oh, wait.....never mind, I guess you're not supposed to...leave your kid....okay, forget that part of the story. So, we were at the kids play area, diligently monitoring and interacting with our son, expanding his mind at every possible turn, and encouraging him to reach his developmental "milestones" as quickly as possible. Well, he hit Dave, and then me right after. It had something to do with a hostage situation going on between Dave, Mateo, and some unsuspecting goldfish. Anyway, a middle-aged Chinese woman was sitting nearby (also diligently monitoring her son as he ran around pile-driving children left and right) and noticed Mateo was hitting us. This is what she said.

"My son never hits me. Ever since I put him in the cabinet and left him there for a while, he has been too scared."

Well, there we go! Why didn't I think of that? A cabinet! Of course, it all makes sense now. If only we had put Mateo in a cabinet, we would certainly not have this hitting problem. So, guess what the first thing we did when we got home was? Take a nap.

But after the nap! What was the first thing we did when Mateo tried to hit one of us?

Well, we didn't put him in the cabinet, if that's what you're thinking. We are not that desperate. But isn't that crazy? A cabinet? Yeah, maybe he won't hit you anymore but what if you are instilling a deep phobia of cabinets? Or even worse, all food storage units? What if your child can never open or even look at a cabinet or pantry again? I mean, where would he keep all his non-perishables? His pasta, rice, and spaghettios? Okay, I am probably thinking about this way too hard. But I felt bad for the little guy.

Let's be clear, I am in no way endorsing cabinets being an acceptable location for a time-out. I am merely offering the same suggestion that was given to me. Do with it what you will. Actually, I take that back. Don't do anything with it and certainly don't put your kid in a cabinet.

Point of the story: If you are in need of some discipline advice, I don't recommend going to the mall.

The boy in the oven

Mateo has made a friend in the oven. Yes, it is true, and no, we do not have the habit of sticking children in ovens. He doesn’t seem to recognize himself in reflections yet and therefore has made friends with himself in the oven door surface. It must seem very odd to a toddler that there is a strange boy living in the door of the oven. Even so, Mateo, being as kind as he is, offers him a drink now and then from his sippy cup. He has a routine, first he yells at him, for being stuck in the oven door I suppose, then he feels kind of guilty for being so harsh, and offers him a sip of his drink. As he puts his sippy cup up to the oven door, he changes his mind at the last second and shakes his head "no" as he takes the cup away. Then he watches for any response. He does this several times before making up with his "friend" and giving him a kiss. Should I be concerned?

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the subject of dining out

Why? Why, why, why bring your toddler out to a nice restaurant? Okay, maybe there are some of you supermoms with really really well-behaved children that can actually pull off a peaceful dinner at a "nice" (and by nice I mean anything other than McDonald's) restaurant. That's not me. So, since having our son, my husband and I have developed a rating system for restaurants.

Two thumbs up is a generally kid-friendly atmosphere. They may have some crayons and paper to doodle on, high chairs are accessible, but children do not outnumber adults by 10:1 at these fine places. (example; Friendly's).

One thumb up is a step up from a two thumbs up restaurant in service but not as kid friendly. They serve normal adult food but also have a kids menu. I would bring my kid on a good day, after a long nap, at an off-peak time, but forget it on a Saturday night. (example; Ruby Tuesdays)

Two thumbs down is someplace I would never take my toddler, not if you paid me, not if he were on his best behavior that day, not even if he had lost his voice from larangitis. Come on people, a restaurant where they have to go in the way back room to retrieve a high chair, covered in dust, that still looks brand new, is no place for a toddler (otherwise it would have bite marks and dried up ketchup on it like all the other restaurants). (Example; stuffy restaurant that would never have a franchise)

And the last rating is two thumbs.... in your ears. This is a place where the music is louder than your toddler is during one of his best tantrums, your kid is definitely not the worst one there, and they serve toys with your kid's food (example; Chucky Cheese).

So, someone, somewhere gave us the advice to bring our kid out to eat often while he's young so that it never becomes a big deal as he gets older. This is great advice.... if you are giving it to someone else. My response is always, "great, when are you picking him up?" Because I know that a meal inside my own home can feel like World War II with my toddler. Why would I want to put that in front of an audience? I can just feel the eyes glaring at me from all directions, some disapproving, most are out of pity.

Nevertheless, we decided it was time for our first trip out to a real restaurant, and we were most optimistic about it. We brought some favorite cars and little toys to keep him occupied, of course his juice, which is like liquid crack to a toddler, and the all important "Cowie". So we went to a thumbs up restaurant at a relatively slow time of day and thought it was just going to be great. They gave out balloons afterall, what could go wrong? Well, I'll tell you.

So, my son thought it would be a good idea to let us know just how incompetent we were as parents. After the waitress took our orders, he decided to just get punchy. He was playing with the box of crayons, taking them out, putting them in, taking them out, putting them in, taking them - you get the idea right? And every once in a while, he would drop one and then get very upset that it was on the floor. After picking up crayons several dozen times (trying to keep him happy) they slowly began to disappear under the booth.

"I'm sorry my son. Crayons are now gone. But look at all the wonderful toys we brought you to play with...please don't scream....please don't scream...."

Cue screaming.

I don't know if it's all toddlers or just my son, but he does this thing I call "the swipe". (If "swiper, no swiping", and the Dora theme song aren't flashing in your brain right now, you must not have children. Or else you don't let them watch TV and how do you do it?) "The swipe" is when he takes his hands, forcefully and quickly, swiping everything in front of him onto the floor. This drives me crazy! Which is probably why he does it.

So after we tell him the crayons are all gone (while simultaneously offering a lovely selection of other interesting toys) he does "the swipe" on the restaurant table. Luckily I could see it coming (see, I'm learning) and was able to catch anything valuable. Then he screams and continues to swipe in the air hitting everyone walking by him. So, what do we do?

We try everything, speaking very firmly, making the toys seem way more fun than they actually are (as if we were on a QVC program), ignoring, and, of course, praying ("dear Lord, I know I said I wanted a child....."). The only reason we didn't take him out of the restaurant was because I didn't want him to learn that he could get out of things by screaming and having a fit. Maybe we're nuts.

While Mateo continued to have his fit, I'm looking around to assess the level of embarrassment I'm experiencing. Honestly, I really didn't think it was that bad. There was loud music playing in the background, most of the other diners also had children, and no one seemed to care. While I thought it wasn't that bad, the restaurant manager did not agree. He sent the assistant manager over to "help out". This is what he said.

"Well! He's an active little guy isn't he?" In a voice sounding as cheery as possible when telling someone they're child is being a brat. "Maybe we could get him some apples!"


"Sure, get him some apples. Watch him throw them at your face", is what I wanted to say. "Thank you", is what I said. Well, apples didn't work, no surprise there. But french fries did, just before we were about to get kicked out. The rest of the meal was uneventful. We did go out with a bang though. Mateo popping his balloon.

Easter 2008. Mateo finds his Easter basket. Yes, that is easter grass all over the table. I was trying to be festive. And yes, we are still finding it all over the house today. And finally, yes, I do regret it.

Mateo searching for easter eggs. He was only interested in finding the jelly beans.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mommy is NOT an elephant!

Mateo can now imitate Luca, the dog. Which has its pros and cons. First, it’s very good because he can now understand that different objects "say" different things...(i.e. cars say vroom, cats say meow, and Mommy says "I need a drink".) I don’t really know why this is important but apparantly, according to developmental checklists, it’s essential to his future to know that the cow says "moo." Anyway, now when asked what Luca says, he can make a very high-pitched squealing noise, indeed, imitating Luca (being put in her crate when we are leaving the house). The downfall to this developmental milestone, he can make a very high-pitched squealing noise imitating Luca, for hours at a time, everytime he looks at her.

Mateo has also added 3 more sounds to his vocabulary of animals. He can say "raah" for lion, "ah, ah, ah" for monkey, and make an elephant sound. I’m a little concerned though, cause I asked him "what does mommy say?" the other day and he made the elephant sound. That was just a fluke, right?

What is this blog all about?

ATTENTION ALL PARENTS!!! There is urgent information you NEED to know to keep your family safe! It is vital for you to hear this important news about blah, blah, blah.

Okay, now that I have your attention. Welcome to my blog.

Confessions of a Real Mom; the down and dirty (and I'm not talking about a diaper check).

This is meant to be funny. Those of you who lost your sense of humor with your figure, your breasts, and (if you have a toddler) the use of your left arm, you may be offended and I can't be held responsible. Hey, I know where you post-baby women are at, I lost my figure and I've never been pregnant. It's called the mommy-is-tired-of-playing-cars-for-the-80th-time-today-and-needs-something-to-make-her-feel-better diet. It consists mainly of; anything chocolate, anything peanut butter, and anything chocolate and peanut butter combined. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this blog may not be for you.

So, here is my family. Me (The Mom), Dave (The Dad), and one (yes, one) child. My son, Mateo, but I really think he counts as at least three. It takes three arms to keep up with him most times. Here is some background info. My son is adopted. No pregnancy here (by choice). He is 22 months right now and I've been a mom for 8 months. Those of you with brain cells left will calculate (I know, big word for only 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep) that Mateo was 14 months old when he came to our family. Oh, and our dog, Luca, of course. A 2 year old boston/beagle mix.

Well, I hope you enjoy my musings, stories, and personal opinions (I'll never say you have to agree).

In love, and tiredness,