Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday John Landon Pfaffl!

This is an old post I wrote on May 22nd, 2007:

Two years have gone by....TWO YEARS....One year ago today, my little munchkin walked across our living room for the first time....And one year before that day, I held him for the first time. On Landon's first birthday, we took a picture of him at 2:04 pm (the time he was born). This year, I decided to make a tradition of it and we did the same thing.

It's so amazing to see how much he's changed over the last two years...and equally as amazing to see how much I have changed over the last two years! Before Landon came along, all I could think about was what I could be to prove to the world how smart and talented I was. I thought this permanent little figure would appear...and that my life as I knew it would come to a screetching halt. I listened to too many people who told me I would lose my sense of purpose after giving up the dreams of a big career to have a baby. What I didn't know was that Landon would become my purpose...not because it "HAD" to be that way, but because I wouldn't ever consider it being any other way if given the choice. I didn't know that looking at him would be like that amazing feeling of falling in love over and over and over. Instead of proving to a harsh and uncaring world that I am great, I gave birth to this tiny person who thinks, even on my bad days, that I am greater than I could ever possibly be. Not only is my child my world, he has helped me to learn ways to make this world a better place. I love my "new" life in a way that totally surprises me and I have a more clear sense of "self" than I've ever had. He is a ray of sunshine and makes every day more beautiful. Happy Birthday to my "baby"!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

They Grow Up So Fast!

Due to a cracked computer screen, I wasn't able to post this as anything but a draft until now. I wrote it May 21st:
We have been having so much fun getting ready for Landon's birthday--shopping for new toys and party decorations and practicing the birthday song over and over. I still can't believe my BABY is going to be two tomorrow (!!!), but even more than that: How in the world did he ever get old enough to ride a scooter? Yes, my little toddler has been begging us to get a scooter for him since all of the "big kids" in the cul-de-sac are always riding them around. (I didn't know Landon was old enough to be so trendy! Ha ha!) We finally decided to take him to Toys R Us to try some scooters out...Well, I took him to toys R Us to try out scooters, that is--Andy took him to Toys R Us to try to convince him to buy a motorized vehicle (that's a man for you!). While we were arguing back and forth about whether or not motorized vehicles were dangerous for a two year old and about what our child's desires and wishes really were, Landon was zooming around our feet on the gift of his choice: a cute little $20.00 scooter (...to make Andy's day a little worse, it was, of course, the Disney Princess model.) He was riding it all over Toys R Us, purple streamers blowing around on the handlebars, pink and silver glitter sparkling in the fluorescent lights. Not only was he ignoring the little girl who was yelling, "You can't have that one--It's for GIRLS!", Landon wouldn't even TRY any of the other models. It was so funny to watch my husband's face as he resorted to chasing Landon around, offering him every masculine model of scooter on the market, "Landon, look at this cool red one! Hey, Lan, what about Spiderman? Ooh, Spiderman is cooooool!". I had almost convinced my husband to cave and take the princess scooter home with us when he spotted one last scooter on the top shelf that had Diego on it. Diego has been a huge bargaining chip in our house on many occasions and Andy and I crossed our fingers (and oohed and ahhed) as we presented our last choice to the birthday boy glued to the sparkling scooter. The verdict?...(drumroll please!!!)...Letting go of the princess scooter for the first time in over half an hour, he showed a brief hint of interest in the Diego scooter. We quickly grabbed the scooter and Landon and ran for the checkout, hoping to avoid any further deliberation on the subject.It turned out to be a fantastic choice! We gave it to him when we got home on Friday and he has been riding it almost non-stop ever since! It cracks me up to see my "BABY" zooming around in his little Diego helmet. How did he get so old so fast? For months, Landon has been telling anyone who asks him how old he is that he's "Almost two" and now that that's become old and boring, he's been telling everyone that he's going to be four. FOUR? Don't fastforward the clock, little one--I'm not even ready to admit you're two! (sigh!) Anyways, we also bought him a Dora tent for his Dora/Diego party (coming up June 3rd) and he has turned it into his own little room! It folds up "easily" into nothing, so sometimes "he" takes it outside and sometimes "he" (a-hem!) sets it up in our living room. It has become a permanent fixture in and around our house and Landon fills it up with all of his favorite things (yes, scooter and helmet included!). It's usually so packed with his books and stuffed animals and other random objects that you can barely get through the door! (So much for my cleaning efforts!) Last night (since he insisted on eating and winding down for the night in his tent) I put a crib mattress on one side and covered it with sheets and cozy pillows.
I also added a small table and a lamp to the corner. After that final touch, let me tell you, the child was in hog-Heaven (Can't tell I'm southern with that last comment, can you? Ha ha!) I remember loving tents and "hideouts" when I was little, don't you? My brother and I would always throw a sheet over a few chairs and spend entire afternoons inside. It always felt like our own private universe. I can tell Landon feels the same way and I'm so glad I'm able to give that to him. We let the tent be Landon's own private haven. He loves having everyone knock at the door first, and has even more fun telling us whether or not we can go inside. I love seeing him this relaxed and content. Precious pumpkin of mine! What did I ever do before you were in my life to entertain me?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You Are What You Eat

Three great mothers I know (Kelly, Sharon and Kim) have been talking a lot about healthy eating habits for children, so I thought I'd put my "two cents" into a blog! I'll begin by telling of two instances where parents have irritated and flabbergasted me with the way they feed their children:

We were eating dinner last week at Outback and the server was watching Landon eat with an amused look on her face as he shoveled forks full of grilled salmon, steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes happily into his mouth. After a minute, she said, "He actually EATS that stuff?" We told her that he loves going to Outback just so he can eat those three things and she told us she couldn't believe it. "If my son would touch broccoli, I'd be shocked. All my two and a half year old son will eat is chicken nuggets and french fries. He doesn't eat vegetables ever--he just wants us to give him french fries and more french fries. He LOVES them!" After this, she proceeded to tell us that he'd "also eat potato chips and stuff", but that they could "barely even get him to eat burgers or anything else"....french fries, fried chicken, potato chips, "getting" him to eat burgers...no vegetables EVER? Would you believe that this girl works in the trauma center of a hospital and that she is about to graduate with a Masters Degree in NURSING?! I really couldn't believe my ears! That's not all:

A few months ago I was stopped at a traffic light when I looked over and saw a mother hand a french fry to her baby who was sitting in the backseat of their car. Judging from the size of the baby and the way she was acting, she looked to be about six to eight months old. As the baby squealed with delight at the sight of the french fry, I could see only four little teeth in her mouth (she was so YOUNG!!). The baby grabbed the french fry and immediately stared gnawing on it as the mom drove on down the road. I was beside them at the next light and saw another fry being handed back to the baby. This child was so small and she was facing away from the mom in a back-facing car seat--What if the child began choking while the mom was driving down the road? The whole scene really upset me!

Let it be known that I am not perfect. I have trouble making sure that my son eats healthy meals and snacks every day and sometimes it's a fight to keep him from gobbling down sweets when we're "out and about"...but there is a big difference between offering healthy foods to your child while giving them a treat every once in a while...and making junk available to them on a regular basis. Don't parents understand that they only have one chance to raise their children? Maybe people (even people with nursing degrees) really aren't aware of the damage they're causing.

I read an article that said, "There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits. What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels." Here's the rest of the article if you're interested in reading more.

It is so incredibly important to ensure our children have healthy eating habits! Imagine what a great chance they'd have at being healthy in the future if we'd begin teaching them now how to take care of themselves? You can find a wealth of information at this site about dietary recommendations for children of all ages and more facts on recent research about the relationship between heart disease and nutrition here. We should all remember that even though it's so much easier (and oftentimes cheaper!) to forfeit a balanced meal for something less healthy, it can only harm our little ones in the long run. We should also remember that it's just as important to avoid feeding our children things that can harm them as it is to feed them healthy foods that will benefit them.

In our family, we decided to go the "If it's not in the house, we won't eat it" route. We started the painstaking process of cleaning up our lives (and our refrigerator) when I was pregnant with Landon and now it's just a habit to "eat right"...nothing more than a routine trip to the store now! We try to pick out healthy recipes before we go shopping for groceries (to cut down on the amount of processed and prepared food we buy) and usually try to shop for mostly natural and organic foods at places like the Whole Foods Market to give us easy access to healthy choices. We rarely buy junk food (although--heh heh!--ice cream usually can be found in our freezer!!) and try to make sure that our food is free of dangerous preservatives like BHT (Click here to read research on some of the bangers of consuming BHT, BHA & BTHQ). We don't consume any artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) and we also try to limit our consumption of high fructose corn syrup. There are so many things that can be detrimental to our health that no one even talks about! (That's why my friends and family think I'm weird half of the time--hee hee!) I could go on and on, but seeing as I've loaded you up with too much information already, I'll get off my soap box (for now ;o)! Try to read through some of these articles and see what kind of information is at our disposal--you might be surprised what you'll find!
(One more thing: I used to hate writing papers for school and now look what I'm doing for fun--Ha ha ha!)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh

"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." ~Sophia Loren,

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." ~William D. Tammeus

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
-Tenneva Jordan

“The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom.” -Henry Ward Beecher

“A mother understands what a child does not say.” -Jewish proverb

“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love.” -Maureen Hawkins

“A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.”
- Emily Dickinson

“She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along.”
- Margaret Culkin Banning

“A little girl, asked where her home was, replied, "where mother is."
- Keith L. Brooks

“Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
- Elizabeth Stone

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”
- Cardinal Mermillod

"The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother—which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician."
-- Sydney J. Harris

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."
-- Victor Hugo

"Children are the sum of what mothers contribute to their lives."
-- Unknown

Charlotte Gray:
"Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate."

Oprah Winfrey:
"Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother."

"Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved."

"A good mother is worth hundreds of schoolmasters."
— George Herbert

My precious Landon, thank you for all of the joy you have brought into my life. Thank you for changing me in ways I never dreamed of changing. Thank you for reminding me to stop and watch the birds flying in the sky while we're outside. Thank you for sitting on the sidewalk with me and for watching in amazement while I let a caterpillar crawl up my arm. Thank you for making travelling more exciting, holidays more joyful, life more fulfilling. Thank you for resting your little head in the crook of my neck when you're overwhelmed and for showing me with one glance that I'm all the comfort you need in the world. Thank you for letting me be your guide, your audience, your playmate. Thank you for making Mother's Day so special and so significant! You are my love, my laughter, my life.


Friday, May 11, 2007


Have you ever had one of those moments in parenting where you feel like all of your hard work is really paying off? I have those moments when my mom offers Landon candy and he asks for carrots instead--or when he uses manners without being asked. A few nights ago, though, I had a different kind of moment with my son, one that showed me a reflection of myself and how I treat him. Andy had just given Landon a bath and we were going through the usual routine of brushing his teeth and putting his pajamas when he told us his rocking horse, "Spooky" was sleepy, too. We watched, in amazement as he went through our entire bedtime routine with his little wooden horse, sharing those "He's so cuuuuute!" looks when he wasn't watching us.

He started by putting some of his own pajamas on Spooky. (Notice the socks on the horse's "feet"--We always put socks on Landon before we put him to bed.) After Spooky was dressed, he got his Thomas the Tank Engine musical toothbrush and brushed his horse's "teeth" for the full two minutes that the music played.

Then, we watched as Landon ran to the bathroom and came out with one of the Pooh rinse cups we use when we brush his teeth. He placed Spooky sideways on the floor and then put the cup to the horse's mouth. We asked him if he was rinsing Spooky's mouth and he told us he was giving Spooky milk! Landon put a pillow under the horse's head and lied down beside his buddy on the floor, petting him and kissing him and giving him milk. He took care to be very quiet and attentive and gentle--and I could see that even though he isn't yet two, he is very aware of our actions and reactions toward him and around him.

Finally, after he thought his horse had had enough milk, he sat Spooky back up and covered every part of the rocking horse in blankets. We kept trying to help him by taking the blankets off of the horse's face (old habits die hard!), but he was adament that the horse's face MUST be covered in order to rest.

It's good to have a reminder every once in a while that your child is a product of his surroundings. If he is yelled at or punished every time he moves a muscle, parents will see this reflected in his actions toward others. Likewise, if he is treated with love and patience and compassion, he will certainly grow to be a loving and compassionate and patient adult...(And don't we need more of those in this world!) It's amazing to me what a responsibility we parents have. We really do have the hardest and most significant job there is!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

One For the Bird's Nest

This is a very special day because it is the day one of my favorite people in the world was born (27 years ago today--YAY!!). So, this blog is a tribute to the beautiful, hilarious, smart and talented, FABULOUS, Sharon Bruen...My friend.

From the moment we met, I knew we'd be friends. How could I not be friends with a person who told corny jokes and practiced tap dancing under her desk during class? I used to love spending the night at her house in middle school--We'd stay up all night eating Kraft macaroni and cheese and watching horror movies. We'd tease our bangs, tight roll our jeans and talk about everything from boys and school to our plans for the future and the latest Days of Our Lives episodes. We spent afternoons writing fan mail to an actor from Don't Tell Mom the Baby-sitter's Dead and driving our parents crazy speaking Offengloffish (a secret language we made up with our friends.) We passed our summer days hanging out at the neighborhood pool or meeting boys at Taylors Elementary, dreaming about when we'd finally be old enough to get our driver's licenses and stay out late....Those carefree days in middle school turned into the angst-filled teenage years when Sharon and I parted ways to go to separate schools. We still cried on each other's shoulders as much as we always had and got hyper enough to laugh (at jokes only we could understand) until our bellies ached! Even though we didn't run in the same circles, we still managed to get invited to proms at each other's schools and watched each other endure relationships with boys and family members and friends. Still dreaming of being older and more independent, we worked and played away a few more years. College found us heading even farther apart. Sharon moved to Ohio to go to college while I stayed in the south to go to school. We saw each other less, but our friendship never really changed much. I always knew that no matter how much time passed without us talking, I could get in touch with her out of the blue and we could just pick up where we left off.

I remember making a pact with Sharon when we were little that when we "grew up" and got married to Catholics :o), we would live across the street from each other and dig a tunnel under the road to secretly meet and "sneak away from our husbands". It's hard to believe that we really ARE grown up now! We're both married to Catholic men, too....and even though we don't live anywhere near each other, sometimes I feel like she really IS right across the street. Only, instead of meeting in our secret underground tunnel to sneak away from our husbands, we e-mail...and instead of being 11 year old girls worrying about boyfriends and our parents' rules, we are 27 and worrying about OUR boys and we're the ones MAKING the rules. How did we get so far apart in the world physically, but still somehow managed to stay on the same page with our faith and our commitment to our husbands and children?

Sharon is still the first and last person I talk to about everything. She is the rare kind of friend who tells it like it is without condemning you--the kind of friend who can make you laugh in the face of a tragedy without it feeling inappropriate. I have always been able to be "me" with her--crazy, corny, unstable--catty, cocky, insensitive, insecure, vulnerable--loud, scared, ornery, terrified or hysterical--whatever life has dictated for the moment...and she has always been the person who understands, who knows me best, who "knew me when", who knows it all and doesn't judge. She understands me when my husband can't. She encourages me when I question my parenting decisions. She "happens" to leave hilarious long messages on my answering machine when she doesn't even know how badly I need a laugh. I cherish her friendship with all of my heart. I am part of who I am because of her. We have grown up together and now we're raising our kids together. We live in our "grown-up worlds" trying to think of ways to hold back the clock and we find ourselves saying, "My, how time flies!"

Today, Sharon is lifting up an imaginary strawberry daquiri to toast her birthday and she is not alone. I, too, raise my glass to my fabulous friend from the "modified underground tunnel" between her house and mine and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHARONA! Wax-on wax-off, Koneecheewah and "I-Got-Five-Thousand-Dollars!" Congratulations on 27 amazing years! You are important. You matter. You have made more of a mark on this world than you will ever know! Offi Loffove Yoffou!


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Party Clean

When I woke up this morning, I only had a few things on my mind: Taking a shower, making apple quesadillas for my friend Emily's fiesta bachelorette party, and get Andy situated with Landon so that I could get to the party spot early enough to help the other party hosts set up. Simple, right? Umm...not so much! Anyone who knows me knows that things in my life are rarely simple! While I was in the shower (the kind of long, relaxing shower I only get to have on weekends when Andy's home), I heard the phone ringing over and over. Andy was still sleeping with Landon, so I got out and saw on the caller i.d. that it was one of the other hosts of the party calling. (Oh no...) She was out of breath as she told me that the girl who's house we were originally using for the party had fallen violently ill during the night and that we would have to move the party. I'll give you three guesses where the party was moved. Yes, MY HOUSE!! BAHHHHHH!!! I finished up the conversation as quickly as possible and said a calm goodbye.....Then I RAN!

I ran to get Andy out of bed. I ran to throw my hair into my signature mom-ponytail. Then I ran downstairs and started throwing toys haphazardly into drawers and cabinets and closets. All of a sudden I could see my house through a stranger's eyes: juice stains on the carpet, marker on the coffee table, dust on every visible surface (where did that come from anyways?)...I looked out the window and saw that Andy desperately needed to cut the grass. I also saw that it was raining. I decided to ignore the condition of the lawn, considering there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, and settled for getting Landon's sports equipment out of the pine needles and off the porch. AHHHHEEIIIEEAAHH!! We ran like crazy, wiping the kitchen countertops and scrubbing the bathrooms, vaccuuming and cleaning kid-prints and dog-prints from the patio windows. It was the best workout I've had in a long time! We got our house into party-hosting condition in record time. Andy and I joked about how we need to have big groups of people (or my in-laws!) over every once in a while just to get our house really clean!

Guests began to show up after a mere two hours of frenzied running and told us our house looked great and that it would be the perfect place to have the party. Andy and I just gave each other a quick "look" before answering them with a casual "Thanks! We wish we would have had more notice--then it wouldn't be such a pig sty!" Pig sty? Are you kidding me?! Our house hadn't been that sparkling and spotless in months! I love "Party Clean". I wanted to dance around my living room (which all of a sudden seemed so much bigger and nicer than it had that morning), enjoying the fact that I wouldn't slip on Landon's scattered artwork or cut my foot stepping on a lego. I wish time and toddler would allow more Party Clean days. Why is it that a dirty house irritates me, but I can never quite manage to be as organized as I want to be?

Anyway, the party was a lot of fun. Now, everyone is gone and guess what? We have a new mess to clean! Anyone want to come over?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

One Step Closer to Crazy

We almost made it to a portrait session with no bumps or bruises!! ALMOST! I waited through the split lip that came from a nasty spill during a kitchen soccer tournament. Then I waited through the huge scrapes that stretched from Landon's wrists to his elbows (courtesy of the stone wall at a park downtown that my little Evil Kneevil tried to scale)....I was finally going to get to take Landon to the photographer in the cute little Easter outfit he never got to wear (it was fifty degrees in S.C. on Easter this year and shorts--even though they were EXPENSIVE shorts--didn't quite cut it!)...when he fell yet again and a giant purple bruise formed on his forehead! Today, we topped off the list with one more bloody lip (no more socks in the kitchen!). My child is covered from head to toe in scratches and spots 90% of the time! (I'm going to be accused of child abuse any moment now!)
Landon is the stereotypical boy, running and jumping and climbing--throwing and kicking and digging from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he finally peters out of energy at the end of a loooong day. I chase him--I grab things before they fall on him--I get to him in the nick of time before keys go into sockets and fingers go into fans. My heart jumps out of my chest fifty times a day and I grow more and more amazed by people who raise families FULL of children without totally losing their minds. As much as the heartache and constant worry and work scare me though, I still find myself hoping that I will be one step closer to crazy, trying ever harder to get a whole brood of bruise-free children to our photographer for a Pfaffl family portrait. :o)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chicken Soup

We were on our way to dinner the other night when we ran into Andy's boss. He was with his wife and their adorable son, William. We stopped to say hello and began the "Baby Comparing and Cute Tricks Extravaganza": "Mine can do this!" "Can yours do that?" "Say this, Landon!" "Do that, William." Our boys are only two months apart so we always love to see how similar they are.....(and by that, I mean: Andy likes to show off and brag). After this had gone on for a while, Andy's boss told us that William had been sick with an upper respiratory infection and conjunctivitis. I could almost hear the record-screetch-sound-effect: "Vvvreeeeeet!!" My mom radar went up, "Sick kid! Sick kid!!" I tried to nonchalantly pry Landon from his buddy before the germs could transfer, but alas, it was too late. Within a couple of days, Landon, too, was sick.(See where bragging gets you, Andy?) ;o)

Our whole dynamic changes around here when Landon gets sick...And of course I worry too much and turn any common cold into pneumonia (or worse!). Because we don't vaccinate him, I always think he's catching something we could have "prevented". It's exhausting being me! :o) I hate giving medications that only temporarily fix the problem and putting him through pointless doctor's visits where they tell you it's just a virus and send you out $75 poorer....so, instead, we just try to slow things down at home. We don't run errands or go places. I don't worry about cleaning or making phone calls or sending out e-mails. I have even made a habit of cooking a big pot of chicken soup when any of us starts to get sick. (Landon has started asking for it now when he's feeling bad!) I make everything from scratch and LOAD it up with tons of garlic (nature's antibiotic!), onions, carrots, celery and egg noodles. Landon and I curl up all day on the couch, eating soup and reading books--watching t.v. and coloring pictures. I give him warm apple juice with lemon juice squeezed into it (you would be amazed at how much this mixture eases a sore throat!) and I can see him feeling better within a few hours!

It's amazing to me what a difference a little time, attention, and good old chicken soup can make! And I love knowing that I (ME! Deer-in-the-headlights-ME!) can help him feel better. It feels fantastic to hear him (the toddler who never seems to want to eat ANYTHING lately!) saying, "Mmm...Good chicken soup!" bite after bite after mommy-made bite! I watch him sitting against his pillow on the couch, snuggling into his favorite blanket--juice cup in hand--and I hold him and kiss him and tell him Mommy will make it better--He looks trustingly up at me believing every word of it, and for the moment...I do too.