Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Like Mommy

I have a confession.

I am an animal lover.

When I was young, if there was a stray anything within a one-mile radius of our house you could bet that I had found it, befriended it and brought it home. I would beg my parents to please let me keep it.

The reply was always the same.


This continued throughout my young adulthood. Then, about a year and a half ago, we bought and moved into our dream house.

The day we moved in the previous owner's had left us a sweet note telling us about the neighbors, the phone number for the nearest Pizza Hut, etc. Then, at the bottom was a P.S.

If you see any cats in the yard, they are not ours. The neighbors to the right like to feed stray cats.

"Oh," I thought. "That's sweet."

Later that night our dog needed out. As I flipped on the light to our back patio I was amazed and shocked at what I saw.

Our backyard was teaming with cats. Big, little, white, orange. I counted 13 cats, although I'm sure there were more. Come to find out, what I'm sure started as one or two strays, has now transformed into one big, happy, breeding family. There's a new crop of kittens every few months.

I have since lost my affinity for helping homeless, stray animals.

At least homeless, stray cats, that is.

Little man, however, is a different story.

The other night I was strapping the little man into the carseat to head out on an errand. A group of the neighbor cats were wondering about, as they usually do. It was cold, so when I opened the garage door the cats came in. I kept shooing them away, which made the process of buckling in the little man into his carseat at least twice as long as it should have been.

"What you doing?" Little man asked me.

"I'm shooing the kitties out of the garage," I said.

As I finally got little man into his seat, the garage void of cats and on our way, little man was very concerned.

"Mama," he said. "It's cowld outside. The kitties want in."

"I know, but they can't be in our garage," I said. "That's not a good place for them."

"But they're sad," he said. "They have sad eyes."

I paused.

"Why are the kitties sad?" I finally asked.

"Because it's cowld outside," he said. "The kitties say 'it's cowld out here. We want to come in.'"

{Insert knife into heart. Twist.}

"The kitties are OK," I assured him.

"But they're sad," little man said. "It's cowld outside. They want to come in."

I looked back at him. His face was long and his eyes were pleading with me to please let the cats inside of our house.

I know exactly who he got the look from, too.

It was karma. I was being paid back for all the times I begged my parents to please let me keep this. Let me keep that.

And although I did not turn the car around and let the hoard of kitties into our house, I did pause and reflect.

And smile.

That's my boy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Because I Said So

Little man awoke in an especially good mood this morning. After a few minutes of playing around in mommy and daddy's room he sweetly asked if we could have pancakes for breakfast. It was too cute to pass up, so we headed downstairs for a Sunday pancake breakfast.

After making a special batch of M&M pancakes, little man was happily munching on his breakfast and playing with his toy trucks. Our faithful four-legged son, Casper, had taken up his usual position during any mealtime, which is next to little man's feet in hopes of catching any errant crumbs that should fall.

"Doggie wants a pancake," little man said, pointing down at Casper.

"Oh, he has food of his own," I said. "Doggies don't need pancakes."

Little man looked worried.

"But doggies need food, too," little man said. "I give him some of my pancake."

Just as little man began to reach down and give the dog an entire pancake I stopped him.

"No, no," I said. "Doggies don't need pancakes."

"But I share," little man said, his big blue eyes looking up at me.

I was stuck. At 3, the lesson of sharing is a vital one. I encourage it always. But how do I explain that sharing was good, just not with doggies?

"Oh, sharing is good," I said. "But don't give doggie your pancake."

"Why?" little man asked.

"Because," I said.

"Because why?" Little man asked.

And then the words came out of my mouth almost out of instinct. Words I never thought I would hear myself utter. Words that are famous and part of mommyhood lore ...

"Because I'm the mommy. And because I said so."

And there sat little man, giving me the same look I'm sure I had given my mother many years ago. The I totally know you have no good reason for that rule look.

And he was right.

And then I felt guilty.

So I did what any other good, loving mother would have done.

I changed the subject.

"How about some chocolate milk with those pancakes?"

Friday, February 20, 2009


It's Friday!!

Hope you enjoy it as much as a 3-year-old enjoys a cupcake ...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oh, the Places (He'll) Go!

A very, very dear friend of mine gave me a hardbound book of Dr. Seuss' most popular stories when I was pregnant. It contained all of the favorite stories I had grown up with and I couldn't wait to share them with the little man.

I think I was always destined to be a writer. Even as a child, I think the most fascinating thing for me about Dr. Seuss wasn't the colorful illustrations or imaginative stories, it was his ability to use words and convey the most magical stories in rhyme.

To this day when I think of Dr. Seuss, I think "genius."

I had been waiting for the day when little man was old enough for me to share my love of Seuss with him. I had been closely guarding the book my friend had given me when I was pregnant with him, careful to see that it didn't become victim to little hands ripping the paper pages or jumbo crayons. I had read to him from it before, but as a baby he much preferred something more along the pace of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?

Then, on Valentine's Day, love was definitely in the air as little man discovered his own love of Dr. Seuss.

We had gotten him the DVD of Horton Hears a Who for Valentines Day, thinking it was a fun kid's movie he would like. We had also gotten him a copy of Wall-e, which we already knew he loved.

From the moment the opening scene began in Horton, little man's eyes were fixated on the screen.

And there he sat, until the last of the closing credits.

"That's my most favorite movie, mama," little man said all weekend, begging for me to let him watch it just one more time.

However, the sun eventually went down and the bedtime hour neared. Little man was upset as we picked him up to carry him to bed. He wanted to watch Horton again.

But daddy was one step ahead of him.

"I have a special book for you tonight," he told little man. "This is Dr. Seuss. The man who wrote Horton."

Little man's eyes fixated on the cover of the book.

"Horton?" Little man asked.

"Yeah, Dr. Seuss wrote Horton, let's read some of it" daddy said.

As I stood at the bottom of the stairs I could hear the familiar rhymes of my childhood as daddy read little man bedtime stories.

And as little man drifted off to sleep, he had visions of Whoville, the Cat in the Hat and Horton dancing in his head.

And a very proud mommy, excited to see the appreciation of genius has passed on to one more generation.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dream a Little Dream

One of the things the "experts" warn of when little one approach the age of 3 is that that is the age when children often start to have very vivid dreams, even scary ones.

That was evident this week.

As I wrote about in my previous post, little man likes to sleep with his security blanket (aka "doggie lovie") over his ear. He once told me this was because it helped "keep the dinoswaurs away." I had suspected that he had had a bad dream involving dinosaurs.

This morning I walked down to get little man's coat so we could head out the door to preschool/work and saw little man laying on the couch.

"Are you sleepy?" I asked him.

"Yeah," little man mumbled.

I put his coat on him and carried him to the car. We were on our way when little man shared why he was so sleepy with me.

"The dinoswaurs came when I was slweeeeping," he said.

"Oh?" I asked him. "Is that why you're so sleepy, because you had a bad dream?"

"Yeah," he said. "There were big dinoswaurs. With scary big eyes."

"Oh, I'm sorry buddy, that must have been scary," I said. "But dinosaurs are nice, they won't hurt you," I said in an attempt to qualm his fears.

"No mommy. They ate him," little man said.

Then mommy had big eyes.

"Who ate what?" I cautiously asked him.

"The big dinoswaur ate the little dinoswaur," he said. "Ate him all gone."

I didn't know what to say. Although little man typically loves dinosaurs, I was always cautious about what his exposure to dinosaurs was. No scary dinosaur movies like Jurassic Park. Just nice ones, like The Land Before Time or Elmo's Dinosaurs.

Or so I thought.

"The big dinosaur ate ... the little dinosaur?" I asked him to clarify.

"Yeah. Ate him," little man said. "Gomp, gomp, gomp," little man said as he impersonated a dinosaur eating.

"No, they were just playing," I said in an effort to spin it. "I'm sure they were nice dinosaurs."

I looked up at my rear view mirror to see little man's face.

He was not amused.

"No mommy. He ate him. Ate him up," he said.

I reached down and hit "play" on the DVD player. Bob the Builder popped onto the screen.

And The Land Before Time was then moved to the back of the DVD book.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Thief in the Night

Little man has a little blue blanket that he must take to bed with him every night named "doggie lovie." (Aptly named because it has a dog on it.)

While we do a good job of not letting little man carry doggie lovie with him to preschool, out and about on errands and generally any place outside of the house, he is firm in his stance that doggie lovie must come to bed with him at night.

I figure at least he's not still sucking his thumb or attached to a binky ... doggie lovies are definitely the lesser of those evils.

However, not only does little man have to have doggie lovie with him at night, there is a specific way doggie lovie must sleep with him.

One of little man's quirks is the fact that his doggie lovie must be placed with one end over his ear (little man is a tummy sleeper, just like his mama) and the other end of the lovie across his cheek. I once asked him why this was, to which he replied it "keep the dinoswaurs away." I figure it's a security thing, much like his little frog nightlight.

Tonight as I was tucking little man in I gave him a kiss on the cheek as I left his room. Little man was worn out from a big weekend and was already curled up, with doggie lovie on his cheek before I even put the bedtime story book down. As such, when I kissed him, the kiss landed on the doggie lovie, rather than on his bare cheek. I said good-night and walked out the door.

I had no sooner gotten to the end of the hallway when I heard little man crying in his room. I turned around and walked back in, wondering what could be wrong.

Little man was sitting on his bed, sobbing.

I went up to him and gave him a hug. Something was terribly wrong.

"What's the matter?" I asked him.

"My doggie lovie," little man sobbed.

I thought maybe the treasured doggie lovie had fallen off of the bed. But no - it was sitting right next to him.

"Here he is," I said handing the doggie lovie back to him. "It was right next to you, silly."

"No," little man said in between tears. "Doggie lovie took my kiss."

I know - it had that same effect on me, too.

I tucked little man in to bed again and gave him a big kiss on the cheek, this time being sure to miss the doggie lovie.

"Are you good now?" I asked him.

"Uh-huh," little man whispered.

I crept out of his room and shut his door. As the door was slowly shutting I heard a faint "I love you mommy."

"I love you too buddy," I whispered back, thankful that my little man wasn't so grown up yet that he didn't still need a kiss from mommy before drifting off to sleep.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fun With Photoshop

Ocean Breezes (Last Florida Post)

I don't remember seeing the ocean until I was around 8 years old and my family took my brother and I to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World. I did not see it again until I was in high school. I know from stories and family pictures that my first visit to the ocean was to a beach in Galveston, Texas, however I was very young and don't have any memories from it.

However, there is definitely something about the ocean that calls to me. There is just something about it that refreshes my soul and brings me peace and calm. Although living in Kansas does pose a certain difficulty, the long trip is always certainly worth it the minute I catch my first glimpse of the ocean and hear it's sounds.

And, as if having my nose and my chin weren't enough, little man has also inherited this love from me.

Even though he is only 3, I can tell that he, too, feels a certain calling from the ocean.

Although the water was just around 66 degrees (not exactly swimming temperature), we couldn't get little man away from it. He would wade in up to his knees and squeal every time a wave would come against his chest. When we pulled him from the water (amid much protest) he would insist he kept at least his feet in the water.

There is something about the ocean that little man keeps close to his heart. You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his laugh. You can tell by the light in his face that he loves the ocean.

And although the ocean has a certain magic over me as well, there is one thing that is now more powerful than my own personal love for the ocean.

The love for my son ... and seeing the light in his eyes when he catches his first glimpse of the ocean and hears it's sounds.

And that makes the long trek all the more worth it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chugga Chugga

There was quite possibly one thing that came close to topping the beach in little man's eyes while on our sunny getaway.

We had been told many times that the train museum in Naples was a great place to take little ones, especially little boys.

And our little boy loves trains.

So, one morning we headed out to the museum. We had been told it was only open certain days and had sporadic hours, so we crossed our fingers that today was one of those days.

As we rounded the corner, little man immediately zeroed in on the train sitting outside of said museum.

Fortunately for us, it was open.

There were few people there, so little man definitely had the run of the place. The inside of the museum was a large model train display. All types of model trains were running in and out, up mountains, through tunnels and stopping at miniature depots.

However, outside was the real treasure - at least in little man's eyes.

A real toy train.

A real toy train that you could ride on, that is.

As mentioned before, there were few people there when we first arrived, so little man took advantage of that (and the fact that the old man running the train was clearly a grandpa-type who loved little kids) by riding the train no less than four times in row.

And when that was over, little man had the opportunity to sit in the conductor's seat.

And honk the horn.

Little man was so excited he could barely stand it. With each honk, his big blue eyes would light up and he would laugh a big, happy 3-year-old belly laugh.

I thought we would be there all day.

And if little man had his way, we would have been.

However, Mama did hold the trump card.

"Don't you want to go to the beach?" I asked little man.

"Yeah! I wanna go to beach," he said.

"Well then we have to say bye-bye to the trains," I replied.

Little man paused. I could tell he was running the scenario through in his mind. Trains or beach?

"I go to BEACH!" He finally exclaimed.

And so we loaded up and bid farewell to the trains.

And chugga chuggaed all the way to the beach.