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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Kid's Got Game

Leo practices his basketball skills nearly every day. The hoop he uses at the YMCA is the toddler-size and they told me yesterday that he played basketball the whole time I taught cycle. But his hoop at home is a little taller and he can make shots from the ground (not just when he has an advantage on the higher patio).

The cool thing about Leo (besides his b-ball talent) is that he never gets frustrated when he misses. He just says, "I missed!" and goes to fetch the ball. I also love his stance right before he shoots. Here are some "shots" of him playing his favorite sport on our driveway this weekend:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Leo's been here 23 months

If you ask Leo how old he is, he'll say "TWO!" That's because all his friends are turning two. He keeps saying, "It be Leo's birthday" because when it's a friend's birthday I say, "Soon it will be Leo's birthday."

Remembering the cute things Leo does and says at the end of the month is always tough so this time I kept little note pads upstairs and down so I could capture things as they happened. So here we go:

Cute things Leo says:

"I say no!" For instance, "Leo, would you like some oranges?" "No!" "Are you sure? They're really good." "I say no!"

"Be Patient." When he's waiting for me to make his Mac N Cheese, he'll say, "Be Patient!" or actually he screams and cries, "Be Patient!"

We heard an Ambulance and he said, "Ambilance!" I was surprised because I didn't know he knew that word. Then he added, "Not fire truck."

(Sorry if the following is clumped together; I have tried to put spaces in it but it keeps clumping.)

"I want lollipop!" He will chant this over and over and over again. When I don't give in, he'll say, "I need hair cut!" He knows you get a lollipop at the hair cut place.
"Please," "Dank-you," "I sorry," "Scuse me." We're working hard on manners but he generally only says these things when prompted. Every time he asks for food I say, "What do you say?" and he says "PLEASE!" and when I give it to him I say, "What do you say when I give it to you?" and he says "Dank you!" And today, when he pushed his friend Bianca and said, "She fall down!" I said, "What do you say to Bianca?" He said, "I sorry." Thanks, Granny Jo, for the book about manners. It is helping a lot.
"That MY ball" or "That MY train!" He says this when I say it's time to do something. "Leo, it's time to go bye-bye." "No, that's MY school bus!" I think he's trying to say, "No, I'm busy playing with this." I always say, "I didn't say it wasn't your school bus but we're still going bye bye."
"It be Leo's turn." He's learning (very reluctantly) about taking turns. Whenever it's someone else's turn he says, "It be Leo's turn!"
"It too big!" When I put something on him that he's never worn before he says, "It too big!" even if it isn't.
He doesn't quite understand choices. "Leo, do you want the blue spoon or the orange spoon?" "YES!"
"Mama be right back." He says this to comfort himself. So like on the way to the YMCA he'll say, "Mama be right back," to remind himself that I'm going to leave but I'll come right back. Oh, and he knows what I do while he's at the YMCA play center. When I come get him he says, "Mama teach bike class!"
"I try" means "I cry." Sometimes it's "I don't try" right before he starts crying. Now I can put together the one above with this one: The other day he said to me, "Mama, don't try" and I said, "Why would I cry?" He said, "Leo be right back!" Aw.
He's pretending all the time with his trains and his Little People. He'll pretend that Thomas is eating lunch with him. I'll say "What does Thomas want for lunch?" Leo says, "Thomas want Mac N Cheese!" And at the end he'll say, "Thomas all done!" He also goes up to his trains and says things like, "Hi, Percy! I'm eating banana!" He makes his Little People play Ring-Around-the-Rosie and Duck, Duck, Goose. He still makes them kiss. Sometimes a train will kiss a little person. "Thomas and driver kissing!" he says. The other day he was playing with his Little People Airplane and he said, "It flying to Baby Ellie's house" and I said, "Is Leo going to fly on the plane to Baby Ellie's house too?" He said, "No, I too big!" Ha!
He can say his ABC's sort of. He has the tune down and some of the letters. It sounds like this, "A, B, C, D, Uh, Uh, G, A, I, Ah Ah, La, La, La, La, P!" He can count to ten but sometimes he gets distracted and forgets that he was counting. When he does make it to ten it sounds like this, "One, Two, Fee, Foh, Figh, Sis, Se'en, Ate, Nigh, Ten!"
To get him familiar with his numbers we change the date every day on these little blocks that belonged to my grandma. When we used to do this at Christmastime we would follow that with moving the snowflake on the advent calendar. He STILL asks about the snowflake! And when I say, "No, we only have the snowflake during Christmas," he says, "Kiss-mas tee!" and points to the dining room where it used to be. I'm like, "Dude, it's been three months!"
He knows three states-- Georgia, Texas and Colorado. He often is correct when we ask him things like, "Where does Rah Rah live?" and "Where does Leo live?" but sometimes Rah Rah lives in Colorado and Leo lives in Texas and other mix-ups like that.
Whew, I've written a lot and nap time is short around here so I need to wrap it up. To sum up, he says a lot of funny things, has a lot of tantrums, sleeps very little, survives on a diet of Mac N Cheese and milk and loves sports, trains, books and people.

Signs of Spring

It's the end of March and it's still cold here. It's just not right. I mean, if I wanted to suffer I'd live in Wisconsin. But even though it's chilly, I've seen a few indicators that tell me spring is on its way:

1. The canopy went up for Nell's produce stand! Nell is this old lady who has two produce stands (that I know of) in Atlanta. One is in a parking lot right by my house. Her grandson runs it. It's only open between April and October. They sell all your basic fruits and veggies but the best part is they have red peppers for $1! Oh, and sometimes, if you buy a lot of stuff, they give you a basket. I heart free baskets.

2. The cover is off on our neighborhood pool! I'm not sure why they need to take it off two months before the pool opens but it tells me warm weather is coming!

3. I looked down at my feet and thought, ew, is that nasty wart that I had removed from my toe coming back? And if it is, how am I going to wear open toe shoes? Should I try to remove it again or just cover it up with make-up? That's gross to use make-up on your foot and then on your face. I don't want to buy separate feet make-up. Do they make feet make-up? Should I put a band-aid on it? I never would have had all these random thoughts about the state of my feet if spring weren't near!

Okay, that's all I got so far. I'll keep you posted. I need all the hope I can get because it's like 40 degrees right now. You won't catch me out buying peppers or prematurely jumping in the pool. Although I might shop for feet make-up.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My List

Last week I had lunch with mom's cousin Virginia and her husband, Larry. Larry is a character and when I told him I didn't drink coffee he said, "You don't drink coffee? You're on my list!"

I told him that people who do drink coffee are actually on my list. "And so are people who were born after 1980!" I told him.

"People who were born after 1980?" he asked. "Why?"

"It's just weird," I explained. "There are people who are walking around with jobs and families but they weren't born until after 1980. I can't take them seriously."

He agreed and added "people born after 1980" to his list too.

Other people on my "list?"

People who don't take back their carts or throw away trash at the movie theater (I figure they're the same people)

People who jump up at the end of the movie and don't even wait for a little bit of the credits (you can really piss me off at a movie theater).

People who have names that sound like another name. For instance, if your name is Ashlyn. Why not Ashley? Or if your name is Andela...why not Angela? Now I'm just making stuff up. I know this deserves to be on my list but I can't think of anymore examples.

Miracle Babies




I better conclude my list before I sound like a curmudgeon (which may be on your list).

Oh, I got it. Yessica. Jellifer. Kelin. You know your names are really Jessica, Jennifer and Kevin. Who are you trying to fool?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Namaste, Granny Jo

Leo loved doing yoga with Granny Jo.

The plank:

Downward Facing Dog:

Child's pose:

Tree pose:
And, of course, happy baby!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Litter Bug Runners

Today I ran a half marathon--something I haven't done in about four years. It was rainy, hilly and tough but that's not what I want to complain about here. Instead, I want to climb up on my soapbox about litter bug runners.

Why is it acceptable for people running in races (everything from 1-mile-family-fun-runs to marathons) to throw their water/Gatorade cups on the ground?

I'll admit, back when I first started doing races, I threw my cups on the ground. Why? Because everyone else was doing it. I figured it must be okay. And if they're going to pick up all those cups anyway, what's one more?

But I always felt weird about it. I mean, throwing cups on the ground is littering. And I don't litter any other time in my life. Plus, all those cups on the ground make it dangerous for the runners. Surely, there have been casualties that could have been avoided if people could just toss their cups in the available trash cans. And since when is "everyone else is doing it" an acceptable reason to do something?

I bet if I asked the runners around me today why they couldn't put their cups in the trash can I would hear lots of, "It would slow me down!!" I'd have to say, "Dude, you're running at the same pace as I am. You ain't gonna win. You ain't even gonna place in your age group." It's so absurd to see these people grab the water, chug it down really fast and then throw it on the ground like they're competing in the Olympics.

I mean, I can understand if someone like my sister-in-law Julie (who actually does win marathons) needs to throw her cup on the ground. The girl is sprinting through the race so slowing down to throw away a cup could kill her time.

But not the rest of us. In fact, some experts (like Jeff Galloway) recommend walking the water stops in order to achieve a faster time. Now this sounds like a good plan. Walk the water stops and while you're there, throw your cup in the trash can. You might even finish faster.

Oh, and just in case you care: you'll save all the volunteers hours of work cleaning up your mess. Come on, you're not a rock star. And even if you are (like P. Diddy who once ran the NYC marathon), you should still throw away your cup.

I'm proud to say I threw away every cup I used today. I even held on to one for two miles when I couldn't find a trash can.

Here I am, finishing the race...and thinking about how I can't wait to get home and start ranting on my blog!

Mommy's Biggest Fan

Running a half marathon in the rain was tough but seeing Leo (and Frank and Granny Jo) at the end made it worth it!
When I saw Leo he gave me a big hug and a kiss.

And he told me all about how he rode the "choo choo train" (public transportation) to come "pick up mama." Oh, and he also said that the people on the train were "passengers." Impressive!
But I think his favorite part was going out to breakfast afterwards and being silly with Granny Jo:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feeling Blue

Leo may be brilliant in a lot of areas but colors isn't one of them. I'm not worried he's color-blind or anything (okay, I was worried about that for a few days). He does KNOW his colors. He can say them all. He just doesn't seem to know which color is which. His favorite is blue. He often calls things blue when they are and even when they're not. I'll say, "What color is this?" and he says, "It's BLUE!" Of course when I say, "No, it's green," he says, "Not blue."

He even requests blue lollipops. Too bad I bought the assorted color bag. Hey, but if he doesn't know the difference, maybe I can tell him the red is blue. Now I'm really screwing him up.

Here's our little blue man:

This lollipop is actually purple but I thought this picture was cute. Daddy doesn't know that Leo needs a bib, even just for a lollipop!

Financial Lessons from my Credit Card

When I received my first credit card bill in college, I was stoked to see that I only had to pay $15.00 when I actually spent $120. "This is awsome," I thought. "I'm going to use this credit card for everything!"

Now I know better. But apparently some people don't. That's why my latest credit card statement came with a nifty chart about what happens if you only pay the minimum payment. I'm certain this wasn't Visa's idea. I wish the government had been in the business of bailing out morons back when I was one.

Here's what they taught me:
If you make no additional charges using this card and each month you pay only the minimum, you will pay off the balance in about 19 years and you will end up paying an estimated total of $6,000+.


If you make no additional charges using this card and each month you pay $122.77, you will pay off the balance in about 36 months. And you will end up paying an estimated total of $4,000+.

And then this is the best part. Right under the part about paying over $4,000, they have a little note in parenthesis that says:

(Savings = $2,000+)

Hurray! I just SAVED $2,000!! Now what should we do with all that savings? We could go on a trip! We could go on shopping spree! We could finally afford HBO!

Guess what, Visa. I graduated from college. I know that paying anything less than the total amount due is stupid. And if I can't afford it, I shouldn't have swiped it.

Hey, that's a good line. I gotta tell my buddy Dave Ramsey about that one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Leo loves to not only say what something is, but also what something is NOT. He really seems to understand that some things are sort of similar but not exactly the same. Here are some examples:

His "snack trap" is always filled with either Goldfish or Cheerios. When I give it to him he says what it is NOT:
"Not Cheerios."

And if it's Cheerios, he says, "Not Go-fish."

Today he said something about Granny Jo. I said, "Granny Jo is coming to visit you soon." He said, "Not Rah Rah." (Not his other grandma.)

We went to Kohl's and I told him, "This is Kohl's." He said, "Not Target."

I asked him what state he lives in and he said "Colorado." I reminded him that he lives in Georgia and he said, "Not Leo's house."

I was emailing my friend Debbie and I told him, "I'm sending a note to Ms. Debbie." He said, "Not Cuhl." (Not Claire.)

And in an unrelated story, I give you another example of Leo's brilliance:

There's this really nice guy who works at the YMCA on Saturdays named Kevin. He always greets us at the door and he always wears a sweater vest. Frank and I have commented to each other that it's kinda funny how he always wears one (not the same one, just always an sv) no matter what time of year it is. At Christmastime we brought Leo up to the Y to have his picture taken with Santa. Leo was wearing a sweter vest so Kevin said, "A guy after my own heart! I love the sweater vest!" That's really the only time I remember Leo being around when we talked about Kevin and his sweater vest.

Well today I was about to put one on Leo and I said, "Look, Leo. You're going to wear this nice sweater vest" and he said--and I'm serious!--"Like Kevin."


I said, "What did you say?

He said, "Like Kevin!"

And just to be sure, I said, "Where is Kevin?" He said, "YMCA!"

OMG. I can't stress to you enough how little contact Leo has had with this guy and how not often we speak of his sweater vest. I think he remembers from that one discussion at Christmas!

I just have one thing to say: Not dumb.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From Dumb and Dumber to Debonair

Yesterday I got so fed up with Leo's long locks that I cut them myself. As soon as I finished I had flashbacks to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. See above. Now, the pictures do not do this disaster justice. You'll have to take my word for it--it was bad:

I don't know which was worse--the fact that his bangs were uneven or the fact that he had bangs at all.
So we went to the pros at "Snip-Its" (same place he had his first haircut). I said, "We had an accident!" Ms. Stacey said, "You're not the first mom to do this." She then gave Leo a "flip-it" do with a spikey look on top. She even gave me some hair gel so I could do it at home. So here he is today with his new look (courtesy of me--not as good as Ms. Stacey's):

Now if I have any trouble doing the flip on top (or if I run out of hair gel), this do can also work as the "regular" which is what he usually sports (top part over to the side). And of course every almost-two-year-old needs at least two looks!

Monday, March 08, 2010

I reckon I'll write a blog

Every time I see the word "reckon," I think, "Now there's a word you just don't hear enough. I need to try to use it more." So that's what I'm going to do this week--incorporate the word reckon into everyday conversations like:

"Hey, Elsa, what's for dinner?"
"I reckon we'll have some leftovers."

"Who's hosting playgroup this week?"
"I reckon it's your turn."

"Mommy, I eat banana."
"You can eat a banana, I reckon."

What was once a term reserved for hillbillies is now, I think, southern chic. See, it can be fancy too:

"What designer are you wearing?"
"I reckon it's Oscar de la Renta."

"Will you be having the steak or the fish?"
"I reckon seafood sounds really good."

"Are you going to the opera?"
"I'll be there in my Oscar de la Renta gown, I reckon."

I believe there's a place for reckon in business settings too:

"When are you going to get that story to me?"
"I reckon I'll turn it in by the due date."

"What time is the meeting?"
"I reckon it's at 3:00."

"Why do you think I should give you this job?"
"I reckon I'm qualified and I deserve it."
"You? You sound like some red neck."
"No, it's southern chic! I read it on a blog!"

I reckon I may have my work cut out for me.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper

"I help mommy!" Leo announces every time he sees me start to do a chore. How has having a tiny assistant changed my routine? Tasks that used to take a few minutes now take at least a dozen! If you would like a toddler helper, here are the job skills you'll see on Leo's resume:

  • Vacuuming: He likes to steer the vacuum and if I won't let him do that he either removes all the attachments or tries to chase (and trip over) the cord.

  • Swiffering: I let him Swiffer the whole downstairs the other day. If I had known he was going to have such a knack for it, I would have attached the dusting cloth.

  • Unloading the dishwasher: he will push the door "up up up" whether I'm ready for it or not.

  • Changing sheets: "I jump pillow!" "I jump bed!" "I help mommy!"

  • Doing laundry: He can slam that dryer shut as many times as I need him to.

  • Hanging up laundry: "Dundies!" he still says as he plays with the hangers.

  • Cooking: "Leo cook" he says when I start to prepare a meal. He then opens the cabinet where "his" bowl is and screams for a "boon" so he can stir his invisible food.

  • Grocery shopping: He carried a bag of bananas around the store today and then traded them for a bottle of lemon juice. When he started to suck on the bottle I had to end it.

  • Driving: "I drive!" he told me yesterday. "No, only grown-ups drive. Who's a grown-up?" He first guessed John and then Paloma and Charlie (my sister's dogs).

  • Setting up for spin class: "I help! I ride bike!"

  • And in the pictures below you'll see his favorite and least favorite chores:

  • Favorite: sweeping--He especially likes to hold the dust pan...and then dump the contents back onto the floor.

  • Least favorite--Wiping down his little table. He tried this the other day and as you can see, immediately handed the wet paper towel back to me. Good help is so hard to find!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Things I wish I liked: coupons

Whenever I go to the store and the cashier says, "Do you have any coupons?" and I say, "No," I feel like he/she is thinking, "Idiot. You've got stains on your clothes. You obviously don't need to pay full price for anything. Are you just too lazy to cut out a few coupons? And while I'm judging you, are you too lazy to change shirts? I know that stain didn't just happen this morning!"

I mean, he/she is right. Coupons save you money. And sometimes stores double and even triple them. I've seen coupon experts on talks shows, explaining how they can get a cart full of groceries for $43. I spent $143 today and my cart was only three-quarters full.

The thing is, I just don't like 'em.

I don't like how you have to cut 'em out. I don't like how they sit around, not expiring. I don't like carrying them to the store and then trying to remember, "Okay, so if I want to use the coupon for pickles then I have to buy three jars to get $.50 off. But do the jars have to be a certain size? And what brand was it again? I guess I'll pull out all my coupons. Damn! I've spilled them all over the floor! I hate coupons! And I hate pickles!"

I've played the coupon game before. I got a little pink organizer and I made labels like "Breakfast," and "Snacks." But I started buying weird things that I would never have bought without coupons--like Pledge wipes and five containers of Parmesan cheese. Plus, how do I know what's a good deal and what's not? Is $.75 off three packs of bologna a great value? More importantly, do I need three packs of bologna?

I hear about people saving money with coupons. They use those websites run by coupon experts that tell them where to find the best deals. And I'm the only person I know who doesn't plan my meals around the weekly sales. I just think, "Hmmm...what sounds good?" and even planning that much takes me too long. I wonder if these coupon-gurus are able to do it without sacrificing their time. Because my time--even though I don't have an actual job--is worth a lot.

Today I did go to my little pink coupon organizer to see if I had a coupon for anything on my list (which I know is the backwards way of doing it). I was pleased when I found ones that had expired. Isn't that sick? I found one that worked and when I went up to check out, I said, "I have a coupon!" I bet he/she was thinking, "Wow. Good for you. Your bill would have been $143.84 but instead it's $143.09. With all that savings you can get a new, unstained shirt."

Coupons: I wish I liked 'em. But I don't.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Leo's been here 22 months

Silly February doesn't have a 30th so I guess technically tomorrow Leo would turn 22 months. Still, it's basically been 22 months. We could not get him to sit in his big chair for very many pictures because, as he said, "I sit Leo chair." So most pics are in this chair, making him look much bigger than he actually is.

The main new thing with Leo is that he's taking all of his words and making sentences. I'm impressed with his proper use of the word "I" in senteces like "I go YMCA" or "I eat!" or "I go potty" (not something he does, just something he likes to talk about). I mean, he could say "My go YMCA" which would be perfectly fine but he skipped right over that and into the appropriate first-person form.

He also figured out the meaning of "too" and correctly adds this to the ends of sentences like, "I like cottage cheese too" and "I go night night too."

Sometimes I swear he even speaks in past tense like, "Rah Rah left" or "I had it!" Oh, he also likes to say, "I made that" when he builds something with blocks or draws something.
He's caught on to "Good job" which we say a lot and he'll say, "Good job, Leo!" before we even get a chance to praise him.

My favorite word he says is "Yes!" He used to avoid all affirmative answers but now he says "Yes!" loudly and emphatically. It makes it easy: "Do you want more Mac N Cheese?" "YES!"
And speaking of Mac N Cheese, that's his new favorite food. He asks for it at every meal--even breakfast and snacks. We try to limit it to once a day but it's hard with the screams of, "MAC AND CHEESE! MAC AND CHEESE!" And frankly, I can't really think of any good reason he can't have Mac N Cheese for breakfast.

His other new love is Thomas the Train. He likes to read about Thomas, watch the Thomas the Train TV show, play with Thomas toys in the bath and discuss Thomas with his buddy John. Seriously, they were just playing together today and they would look at each other and say,"Thomas!" They're like crazed fans. See ya, Elmo.

Leo still loves basketball and will ask to play outside with his "basketball net" no matter what the weather. We can't wait for it to get warm again so we can stop turning him down when he pathetically stands at the door with his basketball saying, "I go outside!"

He also loves his Fisher Price Little People. He puts them on the school bus and the airplane and sometimes makes them play "Duck Duck Goose." The people on the airplane are always, always going to "Baby Ah-yee's house." He can say "Ellie" by the way, just not if he puts "Baby" in front of it.

Another game Leo likes to play is "Stop/Go." He runs around the house saying, "Go-go-go-go-go" and then will suddenly say "STOP!" and get still for about one second. Then he's off again. I'm a big fan of this very tiring game.

His dislikes? Vegetables, getting in his car seat, having clothes put on him, having to leave a toy when it wasn't his idea, inflatables and tents. Oh, and sharing. We hear a lot of "MINE!" around here.

So basically, he's just a regular 22 month old--totally brilliant, adorable and sometimes a little monster.