Let's see...

It's been a month since I posted.  Sorry 'bout that.  We are in our "survey window" at work, which means we could have the state inspectors come at any time to sift through records and find fault with things they may have been perfectly fine with before, but certainly anything that is not caught up.  And it seems I am constantly trying to catch up, keep up, or beat the next deadline.  Two weeks in a row with only one night that I didn't work late, take work home, or both.  At the end of that stretch I got a call from a neighbor: Would we have use for a home-cooked meal?  I nearly cried.  I was coming home at 8 in the evening and just about to try to pull together a meal.  It was a Godsend in the truest sense of the word.  That was last Thursday.  Sunday I came down with a head cold.  Really, it could have been a lot worse, but until today I felt like I had a fishbowl over my head that I was trying to think in and see through.  I skipped the gym this morning and woke up the two hours later feeling a bit more human.  'Course now that I've made it to the end of the day, I'm once again too pooped to pop.

Mozart had his 3 yr doctors appointment today.  3ft tall.  33 pounds.  There's gotta be luck in those numbers.  Not for him in the visit though as he had to have a shot.  Hepatitis as he's on a delayed schedule.  He, for some reason, thought it was a flu shot and protested heartily, "NO! I don't need a flu shot, I'm not sick!"  Then after the traumatic event, "I never gonna get another flu shot again."  After explaining, once again, that it was not the flu shot, and he needs it so he can stay healthy, he says, "That 'titis shot hurts too much, that's why I don't need one.  That lady (the nurse)  hurt me, but not the doctor, he just have me a check-up."

Alright, I'm falling asleep typing.  Past bedtime and heaven's knows I need the rest. 'Night all.

Oh, yeah, potty training is going alright ~ we are brave enough to go on little jaunts now without diaper bag and changes of clothes in tow.  I just have to have the "magic toilet seat" at all times, so he has something that he feels safe to sit on.  And really, whoever came up with automatic flushing toilets and other bathroom fixtures clearly never dealt with the after-effects of these horrifying devices with a small child.  They are terrifying.

Great Things!

Indeed!

Mozart turned three this weekend and we had his Fire Truck party as requested.  We'd planned on having the party at home, per usual, but found out Home Depot hosts birthday party's a couple weeks ago, so I called 'em up to see if they were available when we wanted and the only thing we needed to do was pick the theme.

Seriously.  That's all we had to do.  I said fire trucks and she said, "Cool, would a Rescue Plane craft be ok?"  Uh, yeah! Cool!  I went back to Mozart and he then changed his theme to be "Rescue vehicles with fire trucks."    This was a good because, while I'm sure I could have fashioned a fire truck cake, I really didn't want to poison the children with a Red Dye #40 cake.  Mozart agreed to a "fire rescue scene" for his cake.  So I got to work.  I used the same recipe as his owl cake, which, admittedly takes a bit longer than your typical non-freezer affairs, but it was just so good that every time I made a cake TW would say, "Oh, yes, she's an excellent cook, but nothing will top the OWL CAKE."  So yeah.  Had to.  Not because it was asked of me, but because I gotta show what I got from time to time :D

So Thursday night I got to work.  Went shopping.  Spent entirely to much money.  Changed the landscape of the cake from round to square pans because they didn't sell the sizes I needed in round locally.  Went to a second store for food dye (I threw it all away last year because I was disgusted with the chemical dyes, but then I couldn't come up with viable options for real colors, so I caved). Baked three cakes and a batch of cupcakes.  Set them to the freezer. Made the frosting.  Made the daycare edition cupcakes for his party the next day:
 

And put the crumb coat on the main cake:


....before falling into bed.  I went to my job as any zombie does the next day and set to work when I got home.  First another batch of cream cheese frosting.  A double batch this time.  Made various colors. And set to the landscape:


I hadn't a plan for the burning building when I was in the baking process, so I ended up fashioning it out of graham crackers.  I did a second crumb coat for good measure, then applied the grass, and of course, the underground was made of Nutella.  Finally, I decorated the fire station, and put a crushed graham cracker and cocoa gravel down on the road before applying the rescue vehicles.  But all said and done, I'd say, a pretty fine Fire Rescue Scene cake:


The kids loved it (as did the adults)...


Oh.  And not so insignificantly, Home Depot does a BANG UP job on birthday parties!  This is what we were greeted with:

That's right, not only did they decorate and provide a craft, but they really went all out ~ that piece of art hanging over the chair there in front of the fire truck place mat, and under the suspended fire truck, was a hand-painted workman's apron for the little man.  Each kid got the choice of doing 1,2, or even 3 crafts (Pirate Ship, Race Car, or Trojan Horse Piggy Bank), and while they didn't actually have any Fire Rescue Plane kits left, they were able to give Mozart one that was already built.  So we did our crafts, and had a blast.  Mozart tested out the roadway for the ambulance:


And we served up the cake:


AND THEN the FIRE DEPARTMENT showed up!!!  Mozart gave all the firefighters hugs, and then got to explore the TWO trucks they brought, and THEN he, and the other kids, got to practice ACTUALLY USING the fire hose!!  It was a truly amazing day.


So all of that was Saturday.  We'd been telling Mozart for several weeks now that he needs to be potty trained when he turns three because he's not a baby anymore and that we're not going to buy any more diapers.  Despite all of that we were meeting a great deal of resistance to the whole potty training thing.

But you know what?

Sunday he got up and peed on his potty.  Put his undies on.  And stayed dry ALL DAY LONG!
Monday, he went to daycare in big boy pants, and stayed dry ALL DAY LONG! (he did wear a diaper for car transport)
Tuesday, he went to daycare in big boy pants, and stayed dry ALL DAY LONG! (without aforementioned diaper in the car)
And today he also stayed dry THE WHOLE TIME he was in big boy pants!  He did have a diaper towards the end of the day as he hadn't yet pooped (today was the 4th day), but then tonight, after MUCH ADO, he POOPED ON THE POTTY!

Yahooooo!  We are going to the pizza house tomorrow in celebration.

Have I mentioned that Mozart is obsessed with Harry Potter?

I'm sure I must have.  He is adorable, whether he is saying "swish and flick", "wingardium leviosa", or "you disapear!" when using my pen or his fork to cast spells with his newly found wand.  Or when he jumps down from his chair and says, "I just gonna play Quidditch now," and runs off to get his broom.  Or the fascination he has developed with chess because of the great scene of Wizard Chess.

He has only ever read or watched the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", but he has watched the movie probably over 30 times and I'm sure he and TW have ready through the book nearly twice now.  I had reservations about the appropriateness of it for a two-year-old, but TW has such an obsession that I let it happen - it's a good bonding thing for them - at first only with one of us sitting next to him at all times, but now he watches the whole movie through on his own and only when he is feeling especially sensitive are those scary scenes (TROLL!!! Troll in the dungeon!) actually scary to him.  Now he just goes over the scene at the dinner table ("But the troll's not in the dungeon anymore. Went to the girls bathroom. Gotta tell 'mione.")

When I picked him up from daycare it was reported to me that he holds court by telling everyone about everything that Harry does, and all the other characters, and that he goes on and on and on, and and not a one of them (kids nor adults) knows what he's talking about except that it's Harry Potter.  That same evening on the way home, he says out of the blue (probably in response to something on the radio actually) and quite matter-o-factly, "I got a kitty, but just one.  BatCat died. Voldemort killed her."

*sigh*

I corrected him that while Batcat did die, Voldemort did not do her in.

I can't yet bear to tell him that he won't be going to Hogwarts when he's 11 because there is no Hogwarts.

Stymied

Bah!!  So, I have this idea for a Flickr challenge.  The challenge is to take a photo of a Movie Title.  I perused classic titles and came up with A Fistful of Dollars.  Never saw it, so I've got no preconceptions (if there would be any) aside from the name itself.  I just so happened to have a bunch of ones last night and attempted some photos of my own hand grasping the money.   None of the photos came out as well as I'd have liked - I should have set up the tripod, brought a drape out, darkened the room, etc., but wasn't really serious about it.

This morning, while at a work meeting/breakfast, I asked my colleagues to grab the stacks of cash in various ways as we were tallying the bill.  This was done and I got some cool shots, but that image of a darkened room with a green background and sharp low light haunted me all day as I went about my business.

I got home, finally settle in to take some photos, set up the room, with the green background, and the tripod, and - oh. Right. I spent all my cash!!

Good Grief.

I'll just have to do with some of the earlier photos I took.

If you like, check them out on the Photostream at Flicker  <- that link is actually another of the breakfast meeting photos, but if you navigate left or right, you'll get to the movie title photos!

Fire Trucks and More Fire Trucks

Since wanting to be a fire truck for Halloween, Mozart has become a little obsessed. To be honest, his obsession probably was in place long before that, but that is when I became aware of it. And when I learned he wanted to be a fire truck (not a fireman, mind you) I got to work.

I hummed and ha'ed, built a fire truck in my head, put that design to paper, made a list of supplies, went all over town to try and find them without breaking the bank, and put my plan in motion.  Unfortunately,I don't have pictures of the various stages, buy I'll try to r explore explain:

In my head I thought of a cardboard housing with suspenders to hold the whole thing up. Wheels would have to be off the ground, and the cab of the fire truck could double as his treat bucket. And, of course, there would be flashing lights!  'Course since it's a Halloween costume, and likely to be trashed, one wouldn't want to spend too much money, so I figured using duct tape for suspenders would do.  I thought of paper plates as the wheels and paper fasteners to attach them.  I went out to Home Depot to get spray paint, the duct tape and some reflective tape.  TW went back to HD to get some draft insulation tape a and a nozzle to use for the fire hose.  Then off to the dollar store and found some stick-on touch lights to use for headlight/brake lights.  Made a ladder from cardboard and more duct tape.

Displaying practice being a fire truck.jpgMy first try was a little front heavy.  It was already listing forward and there wasn't even any candy in the cab yet, so I shortened the cab by half, and at Mozart's request, added handles.  Up until this point, I hadn't been able to find any flashing lights, but a trip back to the dollar store solved both the handle AND flashing lights problem! Below is the final front view.










And here we have Mozart in action!  He'd gotten some loot, so the front is again listing forward, but he was still having a really good time here.
Displaying downsized_1031131655b.jpg
I'm sure we would have won some sort of prize for his costume - we got TONS of complements, but the costume judging was held after the trick or treating, after the parade, and a long walk down a hill, and frankly by the time he we got down there, he was completely melted into a screamy mess.  And, you know, a screaming toddler is MUCH less cute than one who is not screaming.  So, yeah, we didn't win anything.

Even though he was thoroughly miserable by the time the evening was over, he requested wearing his costume several more times and we even went on a couple other outings in full regalia.  Until I just couldn't keep it together.  Below is the just after the truck's last outing.
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I thought that the whole fire truck theme would have calmed down after Halloween, but Mozart, it turns out, REALLY likes fire trucks.  We went to visit with the fire fighters and see the real trucks on several occasions, and while he had wanted a tractor, for the longest time, for Christmas, from after Halloween right up until Christmas, all he wanted from Santa was a fire truck.  Somehow, Santa got the message.

And now the young man wants a fire truck birthday cake!  I've got to put my creative hat on again and figure this out.  I'd really, really like to have a cake without red dye #40, but I can't think of a way to make a RED fire truck (and not a pink or purple fire truck).

We'll see.

I'll post once I figure it out. Or don't. Regardless, I'll post results.

That's good news!

You know, that my readers haven't flat-lined on me completely.  There are a few dedicated souls out there who are apparently still checking in here despite my spotty posting.  Thank-you!

The weather, the job, and the heating bills have all been somewhat trying recently.  Add to that a perpetually busy toddler to keep up with, a new chiropractor, who I love, but who has me on a new and less satisfying workout routine, a mid-winter attack of the blues, I've had less time and/or been less enthused about writing.

*le sigh*

I'll get back into gear.  I will.  And on the bright side, I'm still very much enjoying my camera.  I've manages to take photos daily.  And only a couple of those days have I felt less than fully satisfied with what I've taken.
I think, because, I'm not feeling too chatty, I'll share some of the photos I've taken over the the last little bit.

Here Mozart is checking in with Santa, thanking him for the Fire Truck, and telling him he is too big to eat cookies.


And here, he is taking on the world - or at least the biggest train show in the country.


While I am SO over the cold, I'm pretty glad to have gotten this cracked bubble at 16 below.


I had intended on posting more, but it turns out my Chromebook doesn't want to upload photos right now, and Flickr doesn't allow copying photos, which I suppose is a good thing.  But you can go to my Flickr site and look at them for yourself.

Yeah, and these little square things - they are my attempt to upload photos.  I can't seem to erase them now that they are there.  Maybe they'll show up later.  Maybe just funky little squares forever...

It's just beautiful outside with a fresh new snow perfect for making snowmen.  The snow is still sticking to each individual branch and it would be perfect for taking photos if the light were just a bit more crisp - not that "crisp" is really a description for light, but hey that's how I'm thinking this morning.  While I haven't checked in here in awhile, I've been very, VERY busy over the last two weeks.  Vacation always brings an avalanche of work on return.  I've got an intern under me right now, so that in itself was much better than it could have been.  The changes to our department, and how we manage our caseload, however, was Major, and came on the heels of getting caught up from being gone.  It's a long day at the office when you don't leave until 3rd shift arrives.

All the changes to our case management, for as painful as they are now, will really be better in the long run, but at the same time as this is happening larger structural changes are taking place in the agency, which is putting A LOT of stress on management.  This is trickling down in unpleasant ways.  I won't get into the details.  Suffice it to say, whereas my job has never been quite the match for me, in the past couple of weeks I've felt rather like it is more thankless and soul-sucking than ever.

On way in which unpleasantness has occurred, which found its way back home is punctuality.  Generally I am on time, if not early to meetings, but there have been comments about locking doors so people cannot come in late, so as you can imagine, I've been putting a little more effort into getting there on early lately. On one of these mornings, Mozart was having a particularly bad time of it.  I was getting him dressed and as TW popped out of the shower, I noticed the time.  I say to Mozart that I've got to have Mommy finish up as they are cracking down on punctuality at work.  Suddenly he is reduced to tears and telling me that I can't crack down. Poor kid, in his emotionally fragile state(little did I know he was on the verge of getting sick), probably had an image of me cracking like an egg shell.

While Mozart ended up missing a couple days of daycare, I've managed to stay mostly healthy.  I've popped more Vitamin C and taken more elderberry syrup than average, and have managed to not come down with anything in full.  This morning, though, on waking I felt rather drugged and like I could sleep another three hours when woken up at 9am!  I've felt muscle-sore over the past two days, which seems to have gone today, but seriously - that is FOUR hours later than I usually sleep!  So much for catching a few photos of the snow at dawn!

I've had my coffee now and am feeling a bit more alive.  The snow hasn't melted off yet, so there is hope of getting a few shots if it can just brighten up a bit.  And hope of getting my glasses adjusted, doing a bit of shopping, and perhaps building a snowman.  If TW gets home in time I can even get to the gym.  Maybe.  Perhaps an Epson Salt bath would be a better option for today...

Snippets.

Mozart: "I don't have to ride in a car seat any more cuz I have a big bum now. And I just have to ride in my truck now."
Me: "I don't think so, I you've got a a ways to go before your bum gets that big."
Mozart: "Yeah, but some day my bum gonna be BIG and I gonna ride in my truck."

Mozart, guarding his food (that is on his plate the table) and pointing to the cat (who is across the room looking uninterested in any human happenings): "No, Barfy, you can't eat my dinner!  No, you go away!"

Mozart: "My thumb is broken."
Me:  "Oh, that's serious."
Mozart: "Yeah, the doctor have to take it off."
Me: "Heavens, it's getting worse all the time!"
Mozart: "That's ok, it's just at the hospital and it be all right."

Mozart: "Mama, I wanna watch Grey's Amammotty just a little bit.  Ok, here I go.  Mama, everybody's sick. They are all in the hospital.  Beep beeeeeep beep. I need GiGi bwankee.  It will keep me warm.  I better get down now.  Ok, now we gonna slide around on my new sleigh.  Noooo, not right now, I gonna fork. Where are the boxes?  I gonna fork up those boxes. Ooooooh, me fork broke up."

TW: "Oh! Not it!"
Barfinator did his thing under the piano bench, close but not touching Mozart's stack of train tracks, and clearly it is I who will be cleaning it up.
Me: "Ewwww!"
Mozart: "Ohhh, my tracks!"
Me: "It's not your tracks, they're fine, Barfinator did it again. He puked."
Mozart: "He pooped! Oh! That's a big mess.  A lot of poop."
Me: "Puke, honey, he puked. He threw up."
He then walks over to Barfinator and talking about and to him, "Oh, he is berry sick.  Poor Honey Bunny, your tummy hurts. Where is your tummy?  You gonna get better Honey Bunny. It be all right."


Mozart-isms

This morning, as most mornings, Mozart started the morning by asking, "Mama, are you all dressed?"

I was not dressed as he had woken a bit earlier than usual, and was still in my workout clothes.  I said no, and he said, "Oh, yeah, you still have your fluffy on."

My "fluffy" is my fleece pull-over.

We went downstairs and he noted that there was still a glass on the table from dinner last night, to which he declared, "That was salty water.  I don't like salty water."

Fear not, I am not serving him saltwater.  We had seltzer.  I've tried to explain that the zing is bubbles or sparkles, but he insists there is too much salt in that water.

Finally, breakfast done, he wants to play rather than come upstairs with me.  This is not part of the deal so so I said he could play with his airplane or forklift upstairs, and he said, "Yeah, I just gonna fork you some more."

That last one makes me crack up every time he says it, especially when he says, "I gonna fork you up!"

A New Year

Though we missed the plane on the way out, and I dislocated my shoulder on the way back, our trip was really quite lovely.

I'm not one for new year resolutions, but I do like to make goals for myself from time to time, and I suppose the 1st day of the year is a good a time as any to do so.

My first goal is to take a photo that I am pleased with daily. Getting a fancy-pants camera for a Christmas gift truly does help with this endeavor. I opened a Flickr account to have a place to display them, though they won't all be there.  I'm posting only photos that will be for full public viewing, and I imagine that a number of the photos that please me will be of Mozart as he is my most frequent target.  I may post some of the photos here, but if you really want to see what I've been doing check out my Flickr site. Give me feedback, I'd love to hear!

Other goals are to continue at the gym, eat more healthy, be more present with Mozart, and be more proactive in finding peace and happiness within myself, rather than just going along for the ride.