Saturday, July 28, 2012

Touch-A-Truck; a.k.a. Make a Toddler Ecstatically Happy

 a.k.a. Recipe for a Long Summer Nap.

The Nichols family had a wonderful day today.
This is what memories are made of - We went to the annual Touch-A-Truck event at a local park, and it was by far so much more than I expected. We spent nearly 2 hours at the park looking at construction vehicles, emergency rescue vehicles, school buses, cranes, and yes, even a helicopter. The local businesses and community resources had everything you could think of here, free, for everyone to come touch, honk, experience. It was so much fun, and I know this will be an annual event for us from here until Syd tells us he's too old.
 Here, Syd is in absolute shock. This is just as we get here. Kids are honking horns, laughing, screaming in delight. It was a lot of stimuli to which to acclimate. See the tractor in the background? That's a hay ride! Syd kept asking for the orange tractor, so we finished our day with a ride around the entire park.
 This is a beautiful, restored 1960-something car. I was rather shocked the owner allowed the kids to play in it. I also had a bit of difficulty convincing Syd he had to share. :-)
 Mommy and Syd waiting in line to sit in a jet. Yes, you heard me. They had the dual-globed cockpit of a jet for anyone who wished to crawl in to. He was unbelievably patient. We sang the theme song to Disney's Little Einstein as we waited.
 One of the highlights. He got to sit in the driver's seat of the digger, but was more interested in looking at the scoop!
 Syd was so excited to "drive" a fire truck! It was wide open and the kids could climb all over the inside, as well.
 After visiting the truck, he had no choice but to indulge in the pint-sized free helmets they had for little ones.
 You can tell the day was wearing on him by now - this is a blue tractor they had - brand spanking new.
 I didn't get a picture of him in the swing, because he wanted me with him, but you can see how they have huge burlap strips the crowd got to sit in and swing back and forth! It was a lot of fun, and the breeze was quite refreshing.
 On the hayride - family photo op! Syd remembered hayrides from the trip to the pumpkin patch last year and he was bouncing in his seat he was so excited. This makes me look forward to our trip to get pumpkins even more this year.
 I took pictures of the helicopter flying in, too. Here, it is on display for everyone to see.
Mommy and Syd on the way home! I don't think he ever went after his grahams so quickly!
Toddler self-portrait. He truly took this entirely on his own, after I showed him how to hold the camera backwards. My little photographer is getting quite skilled!

This was so much fun. I look forward to years more of playing with trucks, and eventually, to him being big enough to dive in to the fire men's soap bubble bath! Oh, and after we ate lunch at home, he took a 3 hour nap. What a wonderful end-of-July tradition for us to start this year, and a wonderful beginning to my birthday weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baring Myself

So, here goes - I'm quite nervous about this, but also feel rather liberated in a sense...

Book is found on
Yup! That's me!

Nervous - I wrote this in 32 days. Really. I should NOT be publishing it now, but I swore I would give G.W. a copy of my book, and I told Steve that, obviously, he would receive a copy. And I promised my sister. And I really didn't put much thought in to the whole "binding for myself vs binding for sale" side of the book.

Are there things I want to correct? Well, duh - isn't that what writing is?
Are there things I really like? Yes. And that usually means those are the parts that should go.
Are there things I would do differently? Yes. But I have an idea for this year's NaNo book, so it's worth it, right? If nothing else, I have this to show for my hard work.

Liberated - I wrote this in 32 days!! REALLY! The month of November, and two days after the school year ended to tie up loose ends. There is something truly freeing in the idea that I just went with it and did not allow myself time to worry. Sure, it's creeping up now, but the bound book is already here. So, c'est la vie!

What makes me happy?
  • I really do feel I tied up loose ends. I can't stand books and movies where you're wondering about ______... I went in trying to ensure that didn't happen, and that nothing was resolved with any sort of deus ex machina.
  • One of the days where I was finishing the storyline, I was also playing along with OED on Twitter's forgotten adjective game. I kept a running list of words that I liked, and deliberately inserted every one of these in the book.
  • The best part about the above bullet point? A few who have already read the book haven't been able to necessarily see where I inserted these words. That makes me very happy. I hope it was smooth enough not to really cause a halt in the reading process.
  • I really love my cover, except I wish I could change the size of the font for my name. But the picture is mine, as well. I took that picture in a local park. A fascinating specimen. It is a small vein of a living creature eeking out an existence in a shell of bark, but all the branches still bloom. Amazing. G.W. calls it "The Organ Tree" because you can see "all its guts."
So, here goes - baring myself for all to see, and sharing it here. I took steps to allow myself to really let go and write. I still fell into the trap of "what ifs," but it is a learning process, and I refuse to let the doubters, the judgers, the pessimists, etc. get the best of me. This year's NaNo book will hopefully help me reach even further into the abyss that is me, and we'll see what we shall see.

If you're up for a challenge, join me on NaNo - I'll take any writing buddies I can, as it really helps when you're competing with more than just yourself to complete the novel. And you never know what you may be able to accomplish.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Justified Selfishness?

There are times when selfishness is justified, right?

I have a huge list of things I want to get done before the next school year starts. And this year may be just as frenzied as last year, especially with the addition of Syd attending school rather than staying in the home with Steve's grandmother.

My list has barely been touched. Truly. Instead, I've done what I need to for the conference I had to attend; I've ensured Syd has activities to do each day; and I've focused on my health - not just the "I need to eat more consistently and consistently better" health, but detoxifying my system and hoping upon hope that systems balance out and doing what I can to ensure that happens. I've worked on handling stress so that my coping mechanisms are firmly entrenched before the next onslaught occurs.  The minor surgery I had in April was a bit of an eye opener as to how stress is playing a role in what's happening internally, and I am no longer young enough to just bounce back. I need to make my health a priority in order to function the way my family needs.

That justifies letting the dishes go a day, right? Letting the dust build up on the ceiling fans a little longer? Delaying the laying out of my senior English class? Instead of working diligently while Syd is napping, like I do the first week after school lets out, I am working out before laying down for a quick nap. I am making a cup of tea in the afternoon to drink while Syd has his post-nap "tookies." I am using water as my snack before dinner, and I try to make sure I drink a full 8 oz before I drown myself in coffee (he still is up, consistently, by 5:30. He's just an early riser, and we've made peace with that). Yes, I drink coffee. And I now fully enjoy it. And studies have shown that having between 2-4 cups a day can help prevent certain diseases with which our family is currently coping, so I feel justified in that, as well.

It is ok to be selfish when it comes to your own well-being. By being a healthier Mommy, I am a happier Mommy, and a more patient Mommy. And I am more able to care for my family, especially with Daddy temporarily working 2nd shift.

Syd is, undoubtedly, a morning person. I am not. Let me repeat that. I, Dionne, am not a morning person. I never have been. Steve used to make fun of me endlessly about my attitude when I first woke up, or if nothing else, the expressions on my face. I used to say "I'm going to get up early and _____" and he would snicker, then say ok and look away. And then I had a baby and all realization of priorities shifted. Now, though there are times I literally drag myself out of bed so Steve can keep sleeping, I am more capable of helping Syd get his day started.

And I am very proud to say that I successfully stayed on schedule while gone for a week at my conference. My alarm was set for 5:50 and I was up every day. And several times that week, I went to the gym in the hotel and worked out before getting ready for class. Never did I fail, though, to get my Starbucks. Either in the hotel room or via the actual store. Another area where selfishness is ok - I was sitting in class all day discussing the symbolism and isolation present in Ethan Frome, which I really don't like. I think splurging on soy lattes was justified.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heat Wave Esss-Cah-Pay

The title is from Dory in "Finding Nemo" - they're trying to find the escape hatch when Bruce the Shark is snapping at them, and she pronounces the word in a French accent. That's what we're doing. Escaping the heat.
We've had horrendous weather here. No real news, since a lot of areas in the U.S. are suffering from one thing or another - forest fires in Colorado; tropical storms in Florida; freak windstorms that bring hurricane strength gales along the eastern seaboard - Basically, we're not special in our concern over the weather. However, the eastern states have also dealt with a tremendous heat wave, reaching triple digits before June was even over. Now THAT is unheard of. Steve mowed the lawn, which was necessary to do twice a week, until the heat wave hit. Now, we may not have to mow until September. He's hoping so, but I'd rather not crunch when I walk outside unless it's on dead leaves in October and November.

We did, however, have a quick typical July thunderstorm last night, and the result was this beauty. I believe it is a species of hibiscus. They are common in this area, but I find them lovely and this particular plant was actually one draw for me to this house, as it blooms nearly all summer long. I love watching the lazy bumblebees float around them, drunk on nectar.
This is to commemorate Syd's independence. This is the first time he put on his shoes. And there was no purpose. I came in to the living room and immediately wondered if we were going anywhere. As you can see, he was so proud of his achievement, he didn't want to correct the placement. I say, have at it and have fun. Good for you, big boy!
 My precious baby boy. I just wish I could sleep this deeply still. 'Nuff said.
We met Pop Pop in the morning on Independence Day for tennis. Here's my little Patriot.
After Daddy left for work, I broke out the finger paints for the first time. Syd got in to it, then took great pleasure in telling me he was "All dirty" and needed to wash his hands. But, we have some fantastic hand prints that will get saved and put in his baby book.
All in all, we're having fun, learning as much as we can while staying cool and hydrated, and Daddy and I are trying to soak up as much of this fun age as possible. Allow me to wax philosophical - in times when the majority of the country is struggling (a week later, 2 million are still without power) and politics are taking over, take a time out to be in the moment with the ones you love.
May your summer be a memory like ours.