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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So Happy Together

It's been in the last couple of weeks that Leo and Gus have really started playing together. I mean, they have played together for a long time but now they're almost on the same wave length. Like tonight they were spinning in the living room and laughing. And earlier today Gus started a game of "night night" where he would pretend to go to sleep and Leo would do the same. Sometimes Leo creates this whole imaginary world and says that Gus is in on it. "We are playing pirate and we are on a ship. I am the captain and Gus is a kid pirate." Gus really does seem like he's going along with it!

And at the YMCA, the people in the play center have told us many times that Leo and Gus are "always together." Leo likes to draw treasure maps and Gus will just sit next to him and watch. And at Parents' Night Out at the Y, they told us that "Leo and Gus were pretending to be in a band. Leo was playing the harmonica and Gus was playing the keyboards." I would have liked to see that!

Here are a few of their "together" moments. (Capturing pictures is tough these days because Gus sees the phone and screams, "I see! I see!")

Coloring, Rocking and Picnicing

And in the pictures at the top they are reading. But be glad it's not a video; Leo is making up his own words to the book and the story is all about poo poo. Gus totally got it.

Breakfast Rules

Speaking of avocados for breakfast, can we discuss how I think all of these rules we have for our first meal of the day are so silly?

My avocado breakfast is only acceptable because I toast the bread and eat the two slices separately. If I didn't toast it and put the pieces of bread together, well, that would be a sandwich. Can't eat a sandwich for breakfast; that's against the rules!

There is one way to make a sandwich breakfast-approved: add an egg to it. If you put an egg on a hamburger, it's fine to eat for breakfast.

Well, that's not completely true. Cow is not an approved breakfast meat. Only pig. You can have a ham and egg sandwich for breakfast but not turkey and egg. Ridiculous, right?

And what about breakfast-appropriate alcohol? Frank made a good point on Christmas (which partially inspired my blog). We were having a traditional Christmas breakfast of egg casserole (Mexican'd up, of course) and I can't remember what else. Frank asked if we had the fixings for mimosas. Nope. What about screwdrivers? Nope. But we did have rum.

So Frank poured Bacardi into his OJ.

Everyone kind of stared at him and then laughed in judgement. He said, "What? So if I put vodka into my orange juice it's fun and festive and if I put rum in it, I need an intervention?"

Here is a working list of what I believe are The Breakfast Rules:

Bread must be in the form of a croissant or biscuit or English muffin. If it is sliced bread then it HAS to be toasted (and called toast).
Jelly is allowed on any of the above breads as is its partner peanut butter, but not together
Vegetables can only be eaten as part of an omelette
Most fruit is okay (but apples and pears are frowned upon)
Meat should come from a pig (Although Chick Fil-a has broken some breakfast barriers on that one!)
The following alcoholic beverages are allowed but only if they are mixed with orange juice: champagne and vodka. If it's after 10am, the champagne may be mixed with cranberry juice.

If I were breakfast, I would feel used. I mean, it can't have any of the food from lunch and dinner yet lunch and dinner are allowed to have breakfast food (brunch and "breakfast for dinner.") Maybe breakfast would like to be allowed to serve salads, soup or pasta.

Yes, this is America and pasta for breakfast should be okay!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Expanding his Ball Vocabulary

Gus used to call every ball a "football." But now he has expanded his ball vocabulary. He can also say "Soc-ah Ball" but I didn't have one handy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raundy Loom Decor

Earlier today we were at Bed, Bath and Beyond getting some necessities from the "beyond" section when I took a spin through the wall art aisle. Leo asked why we were looking there and I told him I wanted to find something to hang in my laundry room (my lady cave). Leo pointed at some picture of a skyline I couldn't identify and I said, "That's nice but not really laundry room-ish." Then he pointed at something else and said, "Look, that's raundy loom-ish!" Hahahaha, we chuckled at his reversal of first letters. Gus sucked his thumb and stared at us. 

When we got home we did a little art (glueing cotton balls as clouds; that's about as crafty as I get) and Leo said that he thought this would look good in my laundry room. So thoughtful (and affordable)! 

He was right; it's a perfect fit. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lots of Love

Who knew that Valentine's Day was a total kid holiday? It's not about romance, flowers and candlelit dinners when you have little people in the house. It's about paper heart crafts, Valentines and candy.

Leo got really into it. So much so that he insisted on making his own Valentines for his classmates.

"We're going to go to Target to pick out your Valentines that you can give to the kids at school. Won't that be fun?" I said.

"What about this heart I made? Can't I just make more of those?"

"Um, sure. So you could either make a bunch of hearts or you could pick out Valentines with characters on them like Star Wars or Transformers!" I said (not encouraging one way or the other, of course).

"I want to make them myself!" he said.

So he did. Well, we did.

I would draw a heart and write "Happy Valentine's Day" and "Lovey Dovies 2013." (His class' name is "The Doves" and the teachers call them "Lovey Dovies" so he asked me to write that.)

He would cut out the heart, sign his name and then decorate the back.

Then we attached Kit Kats to them with tape (which Frank said looked ghetto).

Oh, and I punched a hole in the top, tied ribbon and curled it. The ribbon couldn't be too long or else it looked too "gwirlie" (girlie).

They were cute in an "obviously homemade" kind of way, not in a "clever Pinterest" kind of way. And upon seeing the ones he brought home I can tell you we were the only ones who went this route! 

Gus and I attended the class party which was so fun. They made hats, handed out Valentines, decorated  their bags, played "heart potato" and bingo. They also ate lots of Valentines-themed food like heart-shaped strawberries, heart-shaped muffins and Leo's favorite--strawberry milk which he got to drink using a Twizzler as a straw. (Now that surely came from Pinterest!)  

Leo and Ben playing "heart potato." 

Gus thinks he is a Dove too! Here he is sitting with Ms. Desiree during a story.

Leo, Gus and "Lovey Dovies" playing bingo

Gus playing heart potato! 

Gus leading the class in song? 

"Hooray for Valentine's Day! It's all about us!" 

An Avocado a Day...

...keeps the doctor away? I sure hope so. Because, "Hello, my name is Elsa and I'm an avoca-holic."

Here's how my avoca-day looks:

Breakfast: Two pieces of bread with Laughing Cow cheese, toasted, avocado on top.

Lunch: Tortilla with Laughing Cow cheese (okay, this might be an addiction too), turkey and avocado

Dinner: If there's a salad, there's definitely avocado. If it's Mexican (which it is like three-four nights a week), avos are for sure on top and if it's really anything else (spaghetti, pizza, chicken in the crock pot), I'll find a way to work in an avocado.

So I'm averaging about 1.5 avocados a day. Luckily, while they're still a pricey vegetable (or fruit?), they're not as expensive here as they were in Georgia. In Texas we get them from Mexico so there's always plenty of 'em and they usually look and feel good. I like to buy four at a time. Love those four-packs that come in the net bag!

How do I tell if it's good, you ask? A good avocado has a slight give when you touch it. But if you're like me, and you're eating it as soon as you get home, before you unload the groceries, then it's okay if it's already super squishy. If you wait to long to eat your avocado then it gets brown and to me, tastes like bologna.

I know avocados are good for you but I also know they're high in calories. Since that's really all I knew, I yearned for more information about my favorite fruit (confirmed that now). I found this handy fact sheet. I'm pasting only the tid-bits that were interesting to me:

Mexico is the world's top producer of avocados, with California coming in second.

The average avocado contains 300 calories and 30 grams of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. (Totally worth it in the calorie department I think!) 

Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit.

Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.

One avocado contains 81 mcg of lutein, an important nutrient for healthy eyes.

This is all so informative and exciting; it makes me crave avocados even more! Tonight is fajita night so naturally we are going to have avocados. I like to add a little salt, garlic and lime juice to them with our fajitas to give them that restaurant flavor. 

This is not a picture of me but I do feel like this girl! Apparently this image is from a Pinterest group for avocado lovers. Must go join! Avoca-dios!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Super Leo!

I hope I'm not jinxing anything but I feel fairly confident in saying that the terrible twos are finally over for Leo.

Oh, you thought that the terrible twos applied to kids who were two years old? Hahahahahahahaha.

In Leo's case, the terrible twos started around age two (remember the "goalie" phase?) and seem to
have wrapped up around four and a half.

I haven't written too much on the blog about the rough times with Leo because really, who wants to read that? But if I can sum it up, he's been defiant, stressed out, overly fearful, tantrum-ridden, prone to boo-boos (I once counted sixty in a day), angry, whiny and abusive. I'm sure I'm leaving out some other unflattering qualities but you get the picture.

I know taking kids places isn't easy for anyone but with Leo, I can assure you it was worse than most. I liken it to pushing a grocery cart with a bad wheel. You can't get anywhere without a struggle and everything takes longer.

So that's enough of the bad stuff. Here's the good stuff: Since Leo has been four and a half, he's been so much easier. We put him on a strict discipline program and we think that that, coupled with his age, has helped.

He hasn't had a big tantrum since then. Sure, he's gotten upset and even had what I would describe as "outbursts" but nothing like he used to. I have not been assaulted in the process. (And yes, I was before.) He still exaggerates boo boos but we're down to like two-five per day and sometimes they're even legitimate! He's also more brave than he used to be. He'll climb on anything at the playground, play in the indoor contraptions at fast-food places and he LOVES jumping in bounce houses! (The last one is HUGE!) He also listens better and most of the time responds with "okay, mommy" when I ask him to do something or stop doing something.

In general, he just seems happier and more comfortable. Here's another one of my awesome analogies: He seems like a kid who has had some reactive food taken out of his diet. You know like when kids are misbehaving and they take out gluten or dairy? That's how Leo acts.  It seems like something has been taken out of him. (Or maybe he was possessed? My thanks to whoever performed the exorcism!)

He's also becoming more independent:

He was still sleeping in a Pull-up (and filling it up every night too!) until a few weeks ago. Cousin Ellie came to visit and they slept in the same room. When they got ready for bed Leo was putting on his Pull-up and three-year-old Ellie wasn't! That didn't bother Leo and even though a bunch of moms told me it shouldn't bother me either, it did. I know every kid is different but to me, when you are almost five, it's time to give up the Pull-up. So we did it and I've only had to change the sheets a few times.  We wake him up to go the bathroom right before we go to bed because he does not get up himself. He is so out of it when we come in, sometimes he lays down on the bathroom floor and tries to go back to sleep!

The other thing he does that is SO helpful to me is that he can buckle himself into his car seat. He used to do the top buckles but not the bottom ones but now he does them all! It sounds like a small thing but it saves me a lot of time and trouble.

You already saw his cool "to do" list. That really helps the mornings to go smoothly.

Oh, and he's eating better! He finishes his lunch at school and tries new things at home. Just the other day, he ate steak!

Now, if you don't really know Leo, you might not realize that all of these things are big accomplishments. So as you read them just assume he was doing the exact opposite of that before. Like in the food category, he used to only eat mac and cheese and a short list of other foods. So for him to eat steak is incredible!

Is he an angel? Not at all! But now he's just doing typical four and a half year old stuff which I can handle. And since he's easier to take places, we've signed him up for a soccer team for the spring.

Don't worry that his quirks are gone: he still has tics. His current one is where he takes his fingers up to his cheeks and says, "Ding ding ding ding." It's odd but perhaps not as odd as his aversion to "little things" like Polo shirt logos. Nobody, not us, not his preschool teachers or his psychologist, can figure this one out. I like to say "there has never been a documented case of this."

So if you want to see our new and improved Leo, you are welcome to come visit. Just do NOT wear a Polo shirt.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Long Goodbye

The following conversation did not actually take place. It is an exaggeration of how I feel during the ending-part of every customer service related phone call I make. 

Me: Thank you. I appreciate your help. Bye.

Customer Service Rep: You're welcome. Did I resolve your problem?

Me: Yes.

CSR: Great. We always like to make our customers happy. Now, is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No, thanks. You've been really helpful. Bye.

CSR: Oh, good. Just remember, whenever you have a problem, you can call us.

Me: Okay, that's good to know. I appreciate your help. Bye.

CSR: It's really my pleasure. Are you sure there is nothing else I can help you with today?

Me: Yes. I'm good. Bye.

CSR: Wonderful. You take care now.

Me: Okay. Bye.

CSR: And if there's anything else I can help you with, just don't hesitate to call. We're open from 8am-5pm Central Standard Time, Monday thru Friday and 8am-noon on Saturdays. We're closed on Sundays.

Me: Got it. Bye.

CSR: But if you do have a problem on Sunday, you can email us.

Me: Okay. Bye.

CSR: You have a wonderful afternoon.

Me: I will. Thanks.

CSR: I mean evening. It's evening already! Where did the day go?

Me: I don't know. (But I've got a pretty good idea where the last ten minutes have gone.)

CSR: Thanks again for calling.

Me: BYE!

CSR: Would you like to take part in a 15 minute customer service survey?

Me: If  I did I would just tell them how you cannot end a conversation!! This is far beyond the expectation of normal pleasantry exchange. We've exchanged far too many pleasantries! I cannot, I will not be pleasant anymore!! Good day, Sir!

CSR: So is that a no on the customer service survey?

Footnote: When thinking of a title for this blog, I came up with what I thought was sort of brilliant: The Rules of Disengagement. I posted it with that one feeling proud of myself. This whole topic reminded me of how I often get trapped in conversations with strangers (and people I know!). I decided to look up that blog. When I did a search, this post kept coming up. I was so confused until I realized I already posted a blog called The Rules of Disengagement. You can check it out too if you are so inclined.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The House Hunters Workout

I may not have my Workout of the Week blog anymore, but sometimes I still get the itch to share exercise ideas.

Ever since we moved back to Texas I've been doing what I call the House Hunters workout a few times a week (days I can't make it to the gym).  Hopefully you are familiar with HH or this might not make much sense to you. Feel free to check out my other posts on the subject to brush up.

The first thing you gotta do is DVR a bunch of House Hunters (House Hunters International works too.) There are two variations to the workout, one is interval based and one is endurance/strength. Allow me to elaborate.

I use the handy stopwatch on my iPhone and do 30 seconds to one minute of cardio followed by 30 seconds to one minute of a working recovery.
Here are the different cardio exercises I do:

Jumping rope
Jumping jacks
Jumping squats
(There's lots of jumping!)
Running in place (high knees)
Mountain Climbers
Switch/Switch/Lunge (I learned about them from Kristi Yamaguchi. Here's some other chick demonstrating.)

So I do these intervals through the three house tours, fast forwarding through commercials. Then, when they reveal their house choice and show us their happy new home, I'm doing the plank, a back exercise and stretches. The whole workout takes about 23 minutes.

This one ties more into the show so I'll break it down like that.

Meeting the hunters/back story:
Warm-up + Cardio--one of the exercises listed above

House #1:

Weights/lower body
Triceps with wide squats x 24
Biceps with lunges x 16 each side
Shoulders with calf raises x 24

House #2:

House #3:
More weights/lower body like:
Overhead press with squats x 24
Rows (no lower body) 16 each side
Flies with side to side squats x 24

Reveal/Home Tour:
Plank, back, stretches

Of course, if you don't like House Hunters (not sure we can be friends but...) you can use another TV show. It's good to have a plan. You know, so you're not just marching in place and fiddling around with weights while rolling your eyes at the Kardashians.

Football Fixation

Leo has this special football that Frank got for him from a co-worker who went to last year's Superbowl. It's so special that it sits on his dresser and nobody is to touch it. Gus spotted it awhile back and begged to play with it constantly. 
Last week Leo finally gave in and let Gus play with it. At first Gus was thrilled but now he's just obsessed: 

After a few more days of playing with it, Gus no longer remembered that it belonged to Leo. And Leo complained that Gus played with it for too long "for hours, for days, for weeks" and in this video, "for years." (Please notice the comic relief by Leo and the glow stick.)