Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thomas The Train

Anyone who knows J knows his love of all things Toy Story, Tractors or Thomas. For along time, J was obsessed with watching the Toy Story movies. Recently, Thomas has been at the top of his list. He gets a limited amount of t.v. time (contingent upon eating a good supper and behaving well). We have been trying out Net Flix which offers tons of episodes of Thomas to choose from, providing a little variety for mom and dad.  Here are my observations on Thomas.

Thomas and his friends are trains working on the Island of Sodor. They each have some personality quirk (or disorder) that makes them unique. Thomas' best friend is Percy. Percy is rather whiny and borders on unintelligent which allows Thomas to get him into trouble a lot.  There is also James who has a bit of a narcissism problem (come on, his red paint isn't THAT awesome that he must mention it every episode!).  There is Emily (who is like, a valley girl or whatever), Charlie (who tells bad jokes) and Spencer (the arrogant control freak).  Gordon thinks every task is beneath him and says "oh, the indignity!"  whenever he is asked to do something.   There are others such as Edward, Mavis, Toby, Cranky, Kevin and Victor who make regular appearances to round out the cast. Kevin is my favorite.  He is a little crane that works in the Steam Works with Victor. He is clumsy and drops stuff all the time. Victor is always saying, "Slowly, Kevin, slowly. Gently, Kevin, Gently." I use this on J when he is ramming about the house or trying to "help" me with a project.  He finds it hilarious and slows down to a reasonable speed.

There is also Sir Bertram Topham Hatt (yep, his first name is Bertram). Bertram runs the railway.  His day starts with going to Tidmouth sheds to assign jobs to  the trains. These jobs are always vitally important (ie: carrying a pole  accross the island to put up a birdhouse, driving an opera singer to her concert or making sure a load of flour gets to the duke's summer house so that he can make cakes for tea).  He gives Thomas these important jobs to do with stern warnings about the awful things that will happen if Thomas doesn't come through. Then Thomas ALWAYS messes up in one way or another.  Sir Topham yells some more (flirting with a heart attack) and Thomas goes around trying to prove that he is a "really useful engine". In the end, Thomas redeems himself and Topham calls it a day and goes home to his wife (Lady Hatt). Also, Bertram apparently suffers from some sort of short term memory issue. Because even though Thomas messes up every time, Sir Topham continues to assign him jobs wasting time and railroad resources.

Of course, each story has a good lesson to it. Although, sometimes they are a bit obscure and non applicable to people. For instance: "Don't lie or you might get turned into a chicken coop" or "Don't be vain or you could get bricked inside a tunnel." And my peronal fave: "Don't throw rocks at trains or they will sneeze at you."   But, good morals aside, someone needs to get  those engines to clean up their potty mouths.  Be careful while watching with your kids because you just never know when Thomas will drop a "cinders and ashes" bomb.  Or shout "bust my buffers!" or "fizzling fireboxes!"  J has been overheard exlaiming "bubbling boilers!" or telling me that one of his trains is a "bossy boiler". 

But what has been the most interesting thing my hubby and I  have observed about Thomas is the manner in which humans are apparently pawns to the trains.  When an idea "flies into Thomas' funnel", why doesn't the engine driver just stop the train? Anyone else ever wondered that? I mean, somebody has to fill the trains with coal and keep them chugging along.  When the trains challenge each other to races instead of working, a conductor never jumps out and says, "whoooooaaaa there guys. Bertram said we were to deliver cars to the docks. I am not getting yelled at by that dude again." Why not just stop fueling the engines if they decide to leave their cars in a siding to go plan a surprise party or play in puddles? Are the humans some sort of slave race there to serve the engines? If so, why do they let Bertram boss them all around? I guess some questions just can't be answered. Or shouldn't even be pondered (I really do waste my time thinking about these things).

All in all, I like Thomas. It beats watching Toy story for the 8,945th time. And there are good lessons to be learned. J picks up on the engines being kind or unkind and being good friends to one another and we try to help him apply that in real life too. He also understands about being helpful and working hard, which is important for him to see as well.  But just once, I'd like to see an episode where Thomas just does what he is told.  Rather than just doing whatever he wants, he follows directions and makes Bertram happy. There is a good lesson for kids in that too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

FHN Fast Stop

Last Friday, we finished a course of anti-biotics.  The sore throats were gone, fevers were down and appetites were returning. Things appeared to be going great until Sunday morning.  J was up crying that his ear hurt.  This lasted about three hours before he fell back to sleep and we managed to log about 90 minutes of good sleep before rising to greet the day.  Being up early, I decided to get J and myself moving and take him to FHN Fast Care which is housed inside Shop-ko in Freeport, IL. I looked up their number and called to find out that they they open at 10a.m. The fee was $52. Much more reasonable than the ER and probably faster too, I thought. And we wouldn't be sitting among tons of sick people catching something worse than what we went in with. I decided we would be there promptly at ten, walk in, have some kind doctor check out J's ears and we would be on our way.  Boy was I wrong.

We arrived on time, but apparently I wasn't the only early bird.  We were sixth in line. Sandwiched right between someone coughing up a lung and a nauseous toddler.  We registered with the very nice (but obviously stressed) young lady working there and were told that we would be seen in 60 - 90 minutes.  If we wanted to, we were told we could browse the store. We were given one of those notification things that you get at restraunts when you are waiting for your table and set off to check out what Shop-Ko had to offer. After all, I wasn't about to sit there and get coughed on or catch my death.

$50 later, we wandered back to the check in area and resumed waiting (I still don't know what I got that added up to $50).  At about the 75 minute mark, the woman in line before us at check in came out of the exam room with her nauseous toddler and a bunch of clothes all wrapped up in a blanket.  A clean up in the exam room was called over the PA and a nice young man with a bucket and mop hurried into the room.  The dr. came out and assured me it would only be a few minutes more so that they could clean up a "little situation" that had occured.  I told the dr. to have mop-boy take his time.  I was ready to be done waiting, but I wanted a diligent, thorough clean up effort to take place before we entered that room. After all, we were there for a sore ear. Not the pukies. Although I ended up going home with $50 of unplanned  stuff,  I wasn't about to take home the pukies too.

I must say that when I entered the room, it was very clean and the dr. was very kind to J (We still didn't touch any surfaces and I utilized hand sanitizer when we were done.)  He verified that there was indeed an infection in J's right ear and upon listening to J's chest and testing his pulse oxygen, that he had the start of bronchitis.  He sent a prescription over the pharamcy and we were on our way.  To wait some more.

It took about 30 more minutes for our script to be filled. By this time, J was antsy and hungry, we were both ready to bid farewell to Shop ko. I plied him with some trail mix that I had bought earlier and took his blood pressure in the blood pressure machine that was there (which he found hysterical.) Finally, our script was ready. We collected his meds and headed for home.

Not really how I wanted to spend a Sunday with my boy, but it is what is, right? I am just glad we got him some relief from his earache and are (I hope) on the road to recovery.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why toys in the 80's were better than the toys today.

Remember toys in the 80's?  The ones that defined your childhood (well, if you're my age!)?  I got to thinking about toys today as I was playing with J. I wondered what he would look back at fondly as an adult. I am sure he will feel as nostalgic about Toy Story and Thomas the Train as I do about the toys of my childhood. He will probably have John Deere tractors packed away somewhere just like I still have many of my toys tucked away among my prized childhood possessions. But, what toys of today even come close to the awesomeness that was 80's toys? Does a an Elmo toy compare to a Care Bear? Dream on!

One of the biggest fads that I recall were Cabbage Patch Kid dolls. I remember those being so hot that moms were having fist fights at toy stores in order to get the one their child wanted.  They all had "birth certificates" with their names and there were books, cassette tapes, posters and other merchandise to go along with them.  Mine were Melanie and Sybil Sadie.  I still have them.  One even had a retainer to match my orthodontic situation at the time. My sister and I toted those dolls everywhere and drove my parents crazy listening to the tape on car rides. I can still sing the songs. In fact, I am humming them as I type. This was the Cabbage Patch Theme Song off of their 1984 Album titled Cabbage Patch Dreams ( .)Good luck getting that song out of your head.

Jem dolls were also high on my list. They are (in my book) way cooler than Bratz dolls could ever dream to be.  I wanted an Aja doll for Christmas one year.  With her tubular blue hair and bitchin' make up (check her out:, she was way cooler than Jem. And I got her.  Sadly, I no longer have Aja, but I remeber opening her on Christmas morning at my Aunt's house in North Carolina.  Boy, Santa was the best!

Then there were My Little Ponies.  Those cute little horses with the designs on their heinies.  You could comb their hair and put them in their stable. That's really about all they were good for, but we had hours of fun with those things!

Then there were my Star Wars toys. Man, I had them all! Luke, Leia, Chewy, R2D2, C3PO, Darth Vader, Emporer Palpatine, Han, Lando.  I even had the ewok village. Despite being a girl, I loved Star Wars and everything about it.  I now wish I had kept all those figurines safely in their little pakcages so that I could be lounging around a mountain of money right now, but oh well.  My immense nerdism paid off in other ways. It eventually landed me a hubby. If I hadn't done well at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit on our first date, he may not have stuck around. Hands off ladies, he's all mine.

There were so many incredible toys back in those days. Dare I say better than today, even.  Pound Puppies, Rainbow Brite, G.I. Joes. Sit-n-spins, Big Wheels, Easy Bake Ovens. He-man and She-ra.  And the be all end all of 80's toys: The Atari.  Man. Kids don't know what they missed out on!

You can keep your Leapsters, educational and politically correct toys made from all recycled and BPA free plastic. I'll take a Strawberry Shortcake doll, Thundercat or a Popple any day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Strep - oh how I loathe thee.

This week has kicked off with the arrival of strep at our home. How fabulous.  Instead of roses and fancy dinners, our Valentine's surprise is streptoccocus and zithromax all around.  We typically aren't big Valentine's Day observors, so we aren't missing out on much.  We had the luxury of a three day weekend (yesterday being Lincoln's birthday - the perks of being a State of Illinois employee!!!). The extra day allowed us to rest and get enough medication in us to no longer be a contagious threat to other humans before returning to work and daycare today.

It is going on 4:00p.m. as I type this and I am surprised that I haven't received a call from daycare asking me to come get J.  I didn't figure he would last the day.  I worked at a frenzied pace this morning trying to accomplish a whole day's worth of work in a few hours in case I had to depart, which has left me with some extra time to write this afternoon.

This recent bout with strep has highlighted  two major changes since having a child.  One is the apparent ability to function with little to no sleep. Even when you are sick.  Somehow, when that little voice is calling for you at 1a.m. (and 1:30, and 2:15, and 3:00) you manage to be able to stumble out of bed and muster enough focus to administer medication, assist in a trip to the bathroom or provide a desperately needed drink of water/hug/extra blanket/back rub.  And then be able to get up and function in the world the next day.  In my pre child days, anything short of a full night's sleep left me worthless and unproductive the next day.  I have concluded that pregnancy and child birth leave behind a new "Sleep? Who needs sleep?" hormone that gets you through parenthood.

The second phenomenon I have observed is the willingness of a parent to let their child sneeze, cough, vomit etc. all over them without a second thought. (Note: Usually this is as a result of trying to supplement the sleep you are being cheated out of.)  I of course contracted my strep as a result of holding J so that we could both get an extra hour of sleep. I awoke with his little face an inch from mine breathing strep germs and bad breath directly into my mouth.  But, was it worth the extra 60 minutes of sleep? Heck yes.  Do I like having snot wiped on me? No. Do I enjoy an unexpected sneeze in the face? No.  Would I let any other human being other than this child do this to me? Not in this lifetime.  Pre - J, I would never have caught vomit in my hands in order to avoid having to change bed sheets at 2a.m.  Nor would I ever have laughed when receiving a big, wet, sloppy kiss from a kid who is hacking like he smokes 2 packs a day. And if you would have told me that I would have accepted a good night kiss from a kid who was running a 102 degree temp  and looked like death warmed over, I would have said you were nuts.

But, I do. Just like every other parent does for their kid.  I get irritated at all of the mid night wake up calls and being sick more than ever before.  But, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And do you know why?  Because of all the love, laughter and awesomeness that is hiding inside that petri dish of a little boy.  Because when he calls me into his room for the 4,356th time because his feet are hot, he looks at me and says ,"thank you mommy, you are my best friend." Or  he asks me to take him to the potty and hugs me as tight as he can.  Or he just says "I love you." Oh, and because of the laughter. The belly laughs, the silly walks, the funny little songs, the mis-pronounced words and the insightful "Jacksonisms". For those reasons and a million more, I 'd never think twice about any of the inexplicable actions I do as a parent. Instead I will just stock up on hand sanitizer, clorox wipes and coffee. Because I know the day will come when I wish my boy would cough on me at 3a.m.