Sunday, January 24, 2010

We paid HOW much?!?

Biscuit started day care on Feb. 2, 2009, so basically he's been there one month shy of a year.

We can claim his day care on our tax return, so the day care office gives out payment statements in January.

Are you ready?

Do you want to know the total?

Now that I know, I wish I didn't. Where did we get all that money?

When I used to worry about whether we could afford to have children, Jeff always said, "People say you find a way to make it work." I doubted him until we got that statement.

Jeff said that the teacher of the Daddy Boot Camp class he went to told all the dads to just go ahead and accept the fact that a month of day care is equivalent to a monthly payment on a new BMW.

And on top of that, our day care is less expensive on average than many of the day care centers here.

Are you ready?

Do you want to know the total?

$7,005 ... Seven thousand and five dollars.

Where the heck was that money last year before Biscuit got here? I just keep thinking of all the things you could do, all the trips you could take, all the house payments you could skip if you had 7,000 spare dollars.

I guess the Biscuit is worth is. Well, MOST days he is, anyway!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

$3.65 on my debit card

I've been sneaking out of the house to get away from my boys.

Actually, it's not as sinister as it sounds.

I have found a great way to get to the grocery store by myself. For the past few Saturdays, when I wake up (usually about 6:30 ... on the weekend!), I brush my teeth, throw on a sweatsuit, tennis shoes and Jeff's Buccaneers jacket, and I sneak out of the house. Then I'm off to Harris Teeter.

I'm usually one of only a couple of customers in the store. They're putting our fresh produce and restocking shelves. Everybody is friendly and extra-helpful. And I don't have to maneuver around other people and their buggies. Plus, no lines at the check out.

On the way home this morning, I decided to get biscuits from McDonald's. I got an Egg McMuffin for Jeff and an egg biscuit for me (knowing I'd be sharing my biscuit with my Biscuit). I was also talking to Mama on my cell phone. Don't worry, I'm not one of the rude people who talks on the phone while I should be placing, paying for or picking up my order. I made Mama hang on.

The total for my bill was $3.65. I opened up my wallet to find $3.42. I thought I had a 10 dollar bill, but then I remembered how I spent it the day before. So I used my debit card at McDonald's for $3.65. Three dollars and sixty-five cents on my debit card!

I've really enjoyed my secret trips to the grocery store. It feels sneaky and like I'm getting away with something. But I think if I do it again next week, I'll check my wallet for cash before I get in line at McDonald's.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I stuck to my guns

Biscuit is in the midst of an exploratory phase.

Actually, let me explain that a little bit better. Biscuit has to touch EVERYTHING, put EVERYTHING in his mouth and throw EVERYTHING in the floor.

He has also learned that there are actions he can take that will try my patience. And he performs those actions while staring straight at me, almost willing me to do something about it.

So I do what I'm supposed to do.

I say no. I sit him down when he stands on his chair. I take things away from him that he shouldn't put in his mouth. And I help him pick things up after he throws them in the floor.

But the odd thing that I've found is that it's really, really hard to say no, scold him and make him do what he's supposed to do and keep him from doing what he shouldn't. It hurts his feelings, and it hurts my feelings.

I didn't expect that. I didn't expect to have such a strong reaction. I don't remember my mama having a hard time saying no to me. But now I wonder if she did.

I also wonder how much Biscuit understands. Even though he can only say a few words, how many can he understand?

Biscuit's vocabulary is still limited to a few words, but believe me when I say the attitude is there already. I scolded him about something the other night, and he started jabbering and chattering back at me.

So I looked at him and said, "I don't know what you're saying to me, but I don't like your tone!"

He's a 1-year-old, and I told him I didn't like his tone!

Then the other night, he kept standing up in the chair he got for Christmas. I told him twice that he could not stand up in the chair. I said "sit down" several times. So finally, I said, "If you stand up in that chair one more time, the chair is going away."

Guess what he did? He stood up in the chair ... AGAIN!

So I set him down, grabbed the chair and started walking toward my bedroom, with Biscuit right behind me. I put the chair on top of my bed, out of Biscuit's reach but right where he can see it.

Then I headed back toward the living room. Again, with Biscuit right behind me, this time crying and fussing.

As I turned the corner into the living room, I looked back at Biscuit and said, "I don't make idle threats!"

I looked up at my smiling mother-in-law who said, "Do you think he understood you?"

And I said, "Probably not, but it made me feel better saying it. I did what I said I would do!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another reason to love day care

There are a lot of days that I think I would love to stay home with my Biscuit. But having a day care that we really like makes it so much easier to leave him.

And today, I found another reason to love day care.

I have a long history with kidney stones and had a flare-up last night. I wasn't able to go to work today, but Jeff got Biscuit ready as usual and took him to day care.

There's not a whole lot you can do for kidney stones besides hurt and wait them out, but sleeping most of today away certainly didn't hurt the situation!

I feel better. I feel rested. And I feel thankful that there are times I can hand Biscuit off to someone else and know that he'll be well taken care of.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Biscuit's Gotta Dance

My Biscuit Baby loves music. And when he hears it, he can't sit still.

He got a cool activity table for his birthday from Grandma and Grandpa Mills, and it plays music ALL THE TIME!!! Luckily for Jeff and me, the music is actually pretty good.

Here's a video of my boy getting his groove on ...

Lessons to learn

I continue to be surprised at how much information Biscuit takes in on a daily basis. He has a seven-word vocabulary (Ma-ma, Da-da, Pa-pa, hey, bye, uh-oh and ball). He understands simple commands, such as “eat,” then runs to his high chair; “arms up” when I’m changing his clothes or putting his high chair try in place; “no,” not exactly his favorite word; and “come on” and he follows wherever you’re going.

And recently, he has figured out that to get off of furniture, he needs to turn over on his belly and slide off backwards until his feet touch the floor. These might not sound like big things, but to watch him learn these things has been amazing.

That said, there are still some very basic concepts that just don’t make sense to him. And of course, they provide many great laughable moments for Jeff and me.

For instance, the shower in mine and Jeff’s bathroom has glass walls. Biscuit cannot understand it when he walks over and sees water pouring down the glass wall, but he touches the glass wall and his hand doesn’t get wet. He touches the glass then pulls his hand away and looks at it, like, “Where’s the water? Why isn’t my hand wet?”

A friend of ours gave Biscuit a little basketball goal that makes noise when you make a basket. Biscuit now says and understands the word “ball” (see the last blog post for proof). So once he figured out that when you put balls into the basket, you get a cheer and a song, he was all about finding every ball he could to shove into the basket. The balls that came with this thing are a little smaller than tennis balls. So picture him bringing over a ball that’s about the size of a grapefruit, then having no idea why the grapefruit-sized ball won’t fit into a basket designed to accept tennis-sized balls.

His next step was figuring out that balls are not the only things that will fit through the basket. So he’s put trucks, barnyard animals, plastic scoops of ice cream, pacifiers and other things through the net. Yep, it all fits.

Everything for Biscuit is truly a learning experience. Let’s just hope that his learning experiences don’t include his Mama’s road rage or his Daddy Man’s pokiness!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To drawl or not to drawl, that is the question ...

With Jeff from New York and me from Georgia and South Carolina, we spend a lot of time talking about accents and turns of phrase. And just when we feel like we've covered all the differences in the way we and our families talk, a new phrase or saying will pop up.

One example is that Jeff wears his old sneakers to mow the lawn. I wear my old tennis shoes to cut the grass. So we wonder what bits and pieces Biscuit will pick up from each of us.

So far, he says "Dada," "Mama," "bye," "hey" and "uh-oh."

This morning, as soon as I set him down from his bed, he started walking around saying, "Papa, Papa, Papa." That's how we refer to Grandpapa Stacks.

I called Grandmama and Grandpapa Stacks to let them hear what he was saying. Sadly, Papa wasn't home, but Grandmama heard him. I asked her if we could hang up, then I'd call back and let Biscuit say "Papa" on the answering machine. So of course, once the answering machine picked up, Biscuit started whining and wouldn't say anything.

Then this evening, when we got home from day care, Biscuit started attempting to say "ball." He's so funny trying to twist his mouth to copy what we're saying to him.

And if there was any doubt about whose accent he's going to have, check out this video ...

Tackling the spoon

To move into the toddler room at day care, Biscuit has to be able to feed himself. So as much as I'd like for him to stay with his current teachers in the infant room, I figured we'd better get to work.

Here's how he's doing so far ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The tantrum heard 'round the world

When we were in S.C. for Christmas, Biscuit got to play with his cousin's snare drum. He seemed like a natural. He took the sticks in his hands and just banged the daylights out of the head of that drum. He only hit the rim a few times.

What I failed to remember is that he also got called down several (okay, many) times for hitting things OTHER than the drum with the drumsticks. He hit furniture, he hit toys and yes, he even hit a couple of people.
So that was the end of his drumming career.

For some crazy reason, the only part of the experience that I remembered was how easily he took to playing the drum and how much he seemed to enjoy it. I totally blocked out the flying sticks. So in Target last week, I saw a drum similar to the one he played and bought it.

It was actually a music kit. It has a snare drum with two drumsticks, a tuning key and a strap if he wanted to wear it like the little boy with the bandaged head in the Revolutionary War painting. It also included a tambourine, an ocarina and a harmonica, all of which I decided he could have when he gets a little older.

So while The Daddy Man was changing Biscuit's diaper, I took the drum out of the box, set it in the living room floor and propped the sticks on top. Grandma and Grandpa Mills were here, and I thought they'd enjoy watching him play it, too.

We sat around and waited until we heard the pitter-patter of little feet, and then he saw it! He grabbed the sticks and went to town. He banged and banged and banged. Our little Ringo!

And then my memory started to return. In his excitement, Biscuit ran toward me grinning from ear to ear but also waving those drumsticks in the air. So imagine my surprise when in his glee, he smacked me in the head repeatedly with the drumsticks before I could even figure out what was going on.
As soon as I gained my bearings, I grabbed the sticks from him and said, "NO!" (probably a little louder than I needed to).

What happened next just blew me away. Epic tantrum! A tantrum like we've never seen before! A tantrum to END ALL TANTRUMS!!!

He flung himself in the floor, flailed his little arms about and started screaming like someone was chopping off his little Biscuit head. I was in shock.

I have never experienced this behavior from this particular child, and quite frankly, I had no idea what to do. So I just sat there. I thought if I just sat calmly and stared at him, he would see that he wasn't going to get a reaction from me.

And if the Biscuit's fit wasn't enough on its own, I had to get onto The Daddy Man for pointing and laughing at Biscuit! He thinks it's funny when little kids pitch a fit because they didn't get their way. "YOU ARE NOT HELPING THE SITUATION!" I scolded.

Watching Biscuit go through his tantrum was the hardest thing I've had to do in quite some time. I wanted to grab him up and squeeze him and tell him I was sorry for being mean and taking those drumsticks away.
But I kept saying to myself, "It's for his own good. You cannot and will not raise a bratty child. You will say no to this child when necessary."

Finally, it ended. The whole episode had shaken me up so badly that I had to leave the room for a few minutes.

When I came back, the first thing I did was make eye contact with my Biscuit Baby. He came over and crawled up into my lap, and I knew everything was okay. I also knew that as hard as it was, I can do what needs to be done to teach him.

And of course, not that I would admit it to them (not to their faces, anyway) but I keep thinking, "Wow. My parents went through this same thing with me all those years ago." I wonder if they're desperate to say "I told you so!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Belated Christmas letter

I didn't have time to write personalized messages on our Christmas cards. We have a pretty extensive list of people we send cards to.

But if I had had time to do it, here's what our Christmas letter would've said:

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a good year this year. We spent lots of time with family and friends, and Jeff and I both still have jobs.

The fall and winter are the busy months for Jeff. He covers college football and basketball for the paper and where we used to have 7 reporters, now Jeff is it. He covers Duke, N.C. State, UNC, Wake Forest, Guilford College, Greensboro College, UNCG and N.C. A&T. So needless to say, he's been pretty busy since August and will be until the Final Four plays out in April.

Grandma and Grandpa Mills made two trips down instead of one this year. They came down in May, and we took a quick beach trip, which was Biscuit's first. We were glad they got to spend some extra time with us.

We took a couple of camping trips with my side of the family. We went to Chimney Rock and Lake Myers. Well, to clarify, my brother and his family stayed in a camper. Grandmama, Grandpapa, Jeff, Biscuit and I went the hotel route. I like that a lot better!

Biscuit has accomplished all sorts of feats and his personality has become so much more evident. He's walking, eating table food and learning some basic words (Dada, Mama, bye, uh-oh - even though it sounds more like uh-uh). We've found out that he likes to play in water, he can't hear music without dancing, he loves to play with our hair or his hair when he's sleepy and he doesn't usually meet a stranger.

Like I said, we've had a very good year. And we're hopeful that this new year will bring even more good stuff!

New Year's Eve

My definition of a good New Year's Eve has changed over the years.

It used to be that we'd spend two weeks doing research on who was going to have the biggest party, what the price of a ticket included (food, drinks, noisemakers, etc.) and who would have the best "midnight event" (balloon drop, free champagne, etc.).

But this year, here's what made me happy:

  1. I finished up at work a little early and went to Target and the grocery store BY MYSELF before I had to pick up Biscuit. Being by myself at those stores doesn't happen a lot anymore.
  2. I came home to a tasty home-cooked meal, prepared by SOMEONE OTHER THAN ME ... namely, my mother-in-law.
  3. I was actually able to stay up until midnight. The past year has not included a lot of sleep, so staying up even past 10 p.m. is a big deal for me!
  4. And last but not least, Jeff got home from covering a college basketball game at 11:55 p.m., just in time to wish me a Happy New Year and give me a kiss.

Happy New Year, everybody!