Monday, August 31, 2009

Silver Linings

I am a firm believer in finding the good in every situation. Even those situations that we perhaps wouldn't choose.

Jack has been a finger sucker since birth. Actually, before birth as evidenced in an ultrasound photo. At first it was cute. And original. While thumb-sucking is an everyday, run of the mill habit of children around the world, sucking the index finger is not so common. We thought it was pretty cute...

Once Jack hit preschool, we started realizing that maybe we needed to nip this habit in the bud. For the past 3 years, we've tried all sorts of tactics to discourage the hand in the mouth. Nothing worked. Bandaids, clear nail polish, bribes, threats, prizes, punishments, we tried it all. I even threatened to cut off his finger. I'm not proud of that one - I strive to never use empty threats, ones I won't actually carry through on. But I was desperate.

He went through kindergarten sucking his finger. He went through the summer after kindergarten, sucking his finger. He turned 6. Still sucked his finger. I was growing more and more concerned about him starting first grade with finger in mouth. The germs, potential teasing, the viruses he might pick up . . . I was worried about it all!

The weekend before school started, we went camping at Pismo Beach. We rented an RV trailer. It was heaven. On the second night, about 4:30 in the morning, we were woken with a big "THUD". Then a loud scream. Steve and I jumped out of bed, ran to the other end of the trailer, and found Jack, with a bloody face. Jack had rolled off the top bunk. He had split his lower lip wide open with his teeth, and had knocked his top three teeth way back. They were loose, the gums were swollen and bloody, and he was a mess. I panicked, thinking of his teeth. Would they be okay?

Three days later, Jack had his 6-month check up at the dentist. Through X-rays, it was determined that he had fractured two of the three top teeth, and they would need to come out. But no damage was done to the permanent teeth, big relief! An appointment was scheduled for later in the week to pull the fractured teeth, once the swelling had gone.

That night, I noticed that Jack's finger wasn't in his mouth. As I thought about it, I realized that it hadn't been in his mouth since the fall. I asked him about it, and he said "It hurts my teeth when my finger is in there."

Now, Jack has a new smile.

It will be this way for a while, as the permanent teeth are no where in sight. And my concerns about him starting first grade with a finger in the mouth were unnecessary. So while I wouldn't necessarily have chosen for him to knock out his front teeth, if this is what it took to kick the finger-in-the-mouth habit, so be it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School

Growing up, I remember summer vacation feeling nearly endless. It seemed to drag on forever, and by the time the new school year rolled around, I was itching to get back to school and my friends. Now that I'm a mom, summer vacation seriously feels like a blink. Or maybe a week. In reality, it lasts nearly 2 1/2 months. But this morning, when I walked the kids onto the school campus to start their new year, it felt like I was just here yesterday!

New clothes, new shoes, and new backpacks filled with new school supplies!

We brought in doughnuts for the class for Olivia's birthday, and her best buddy Katelyn brought her a special balloon...making her first school-day birthday a lot of fun!

Through the window of Jack's class, his darling teacher Miss Cusenza isn't much bigger than the students! But she packs a lot of punch...

It's a big year for both kids. Olivia starts 5th grade, meaning real letter grades, honor roll, band, and big growth spurts. For Jack, it is his first year with all-day school, packed lunches, and a full day away from me. I know that it's going to be a great year - with amazing teachers for both Jack & Olivia, I have high hopes to continue the positive school experience that they've had thus far.

A Decade Ago...

Ten years ago today, we became parents. Ten years ago today, our lives changed forever...for better....for good.

When Olivia was born, we had been married less than 2 years, which at the time felt like a lifetime. We knew we wanted to be parents, but really had no idea what that would mean in our seemingly simple lives.

My due date was August 14. When August 25 rolled around, we were more than anxious, having tried nearly everything to get things started and get this baby girl out! Early in the morning on August 25, just hours before I was scheduled to be induced, I woke up with a start. Ouch. I went back to sleep, only to be woken up a few moments later with another pain. After watching the clock for about an hour, I woke up Steve. "Honey, I think I'm in labor." Both of our moms were in town for the birth, so we all got up, dressed and headed out to the hospital.

After about 9 hours of drug-free labor (with just a brief dose of a pain-killer right at the very end), and just a few quick pushes, out came this amazingly perfect little person...with the sweetest, softest cry the nurses had ever heard! We were in awe of what we had created, and the love that instantly filled our hearts and souls.

Now, ten years, two more kids, two more houses, a few more wrinkles and gray hairs later, we are still filled with the same awe and love that we first experienced ten years ago today.

Now, Olivia is a capable, independent, confident, helpful, loving, beautiful young girl...on the cusp of entering the most exciting and influential years of her life. A bright future lies ahead, and I am happy to get to be a part of it with her.

Happy Birthday Olivia...we love you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Almost Famous

The phone rang this afternoon. I answered, and this is how the conversation went:

Me: "Hello, this is Alyson" (I answer this way when I don't recognize the number on my cell. Might be someone important.)

Caller: "Hi, this is ____ from Peak Performance Physical Therapy." (giggle, giggle) "You were here earlier today?" (why I was getting physical therapy is another story)

Me: "Yes"

Caller: "Well," (giggle, giggle) "We were just eating lunch, and saw the Tri-City Voice" (giggle, giggle) "There is an article on the front page that says it's written by Alyson Whitaker," (giggle, giggle) "and we were wondering if that was you."
(My article on the Hayward Zucchini Festival made the front page this week)

Me: "Yes, that is me. I write for the paper."

Caller: "Oh my gosh! That is so cool!" (giggle, giggle) "We just had to call and ask if it was you!"

Me: "Yep, it's me..."

Caller: "OK, we'll see you at your next appointment. That is so cool...I can't believe it's you! OK, bye!"

Me: "OK...bye"

This was my first glimpse at what it feels like to be famous, even just a little bit...and I have to say, it was flattering, and more than a little amusing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things I Learned On Our Latest Road Trip

We just returned from a 10-day trip to Portland to visit my family. With 3 kids, golf clubs, and suitcases, it's easier (and a whole lot cheaper) to drive.

In a perfect world, the drive should be about 9 hours. In my world, add about 3 hours to that.

Over the course of our round trip trek, I learned a few things that will come in handy for future road trips:

1. Always carry a spare fuse for the DVD power cord. Radio Shack's aren't always accessible, though we did manage to find one in Medford, OR that was not too far off the freeway. I would have detoured several more miles, had it been necessary.

2. A newly potty-trained 3-year-old boy has approximately 7 1/2 minutes from the time he cries "potty" until there's a puddle.

3. In a pinch, a Propel bottle is the perfect substitute for a rest stop or gas station bathroom. Works well for little boys. Not so well for a girl. Just make sure it's empty.

4. Snacks are requested approximately every 23 minutes. That means over 12 hours, I need to have 36 snacks per child, or 108 total each way. Candy was the preference. A built-in vending machine would be nice.

5. Audio books are a nice deviation from movies, though they are read so slowly that I nearly fell asleep. At the wheel.

6. In order to avoid the above disaster, I guzzled far too many extra-large Diet Cokes. I couldn't sleep for 2 days after arrival.

7. After a long 10 days away, there is nothing more beautiful than pulling into the driveway and being home!