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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Brother Trap

Daughter does quite well dealing with her little brother, in spite of his tendency to get into ALL her stuff and bother her all the time. I know how she feels; he does it to me too. So I really can't blame her for trying to come up with creative ways to cope, especially since we don't put up with her pinching him. One of her tricks is to barricade him in the kitchen by putting stuff in front of the door. She has also learned to put things up high where he can't reach them. Trouble with that is that it no longer works since he is now figuring out how to climb on EVERYTHING and get whatever darn well he pleases. The other day I confiscated the bag of disposable shavers he got out of the top bathroom cabinet drawer, only to have to hijack him a few minutes later when I caught him running across the room with some sharp tweezers he excavated from the same drawer.

Several days ago Daughter was very irritated with her brother getting into her things and after a brief fit about it, she got real quiet and busy with some unseen thing. Son was equally quiet, so I didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on. I was enjoying a few private minutes to read the mail. As all parents of small children know, when things get real quiet for very long, it is usually cause for concern. In spite of enjoying my peace and quiet, I forced myself to check in on the activity at the other side of the room where I could see only the tops of two little heads busy at something behind the couch. What I found was Daughter working diligently at some sort of contraption that involved strings and chairs and I think a deep pit underneath a secret flap of carpet to disguise it. On the other side of her contraption was her art tools that she wanted her brother to stay out of. Son was sitting right next to her watching her every move, appearing to study and analyze every angle of what was going on. "What are you doing, Smidge?" I asked curiously. "I'm making a trap for my brother!" she announced proudly.

Amused, I left them to their own and made bets with myself on how quickly Son would navigate his way around the "trap" to get what he wanted.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Happy Day!"

Daughter, at three and a half years of age, has just learned that she can get out of her bed by herself. She transitioned from her crib to a twin bed at 26 months of age. We needed the crib for her new baby brother and wanted to transition her before she associated it with the new baby. She did fine with it and has never gotten out of bed by herself, until now. She has a floppy stuffed duck that is bigger than she is that we tuck along the open side of her bed. We started that to prevent her from falling out. "Mr. Duck" still has to be tucked into that spot next to her. A couple weeks ago Daughter discovered that she can get out of bed and open her bedroom door. Now this is how she gets up every morning. I can heard a little thud followed by little feet racing across her bedroom floor and then the door opens and she comes barreling out to announce herself. This is quite different from how she used to notify us she was awake by waiting in her bed and calling for us to come in to her room.

This morning I was already up with Son and had just finished feeding him breakfast. I was letting Daughter sleep in as she was up early yesterday morning. I heard the telltale thump followed by the pitter patter of little feet. I headed up the stairs and started singing my goofy self-made "Good Morning" song to her as I went. Daughter stood at the top of the stairs looking much like a little imp, blinking and grinning at me, her eyes still puffy from sleep. She then stated matter of factly, "Happy day, Mommy!"

Indeed. A greeting like that is the best way to start a day out happy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fearless

It really is different having a boy. He's already a daredevil and I need to ask my doctor for a prescription for Valium. Here's what he was up to yesterday. Remember that he's only been walking with confidence for a couple weeks.







































Later that evening, he was up to this.


And I still can't explain how he got the bump on his forehead that was there when I got him up from his nap. He must be doing daredevil stunts in his dreams as well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Popularity Contest

I've learned that there's a whole different culture in blogland. It's been giving me flashbacks from high school popularity contests in the 1980's. I didn't know this blog culture existed when I started this gig. Honestly, I was just looking for an easy way to set up a website for friends and family (especially those at a distance) to enjoy keeping up with news about my daughter, who was then 16 months old. Surprisingly, I have picked up a few outside readers, and they are welcome here.

In the past two years and two months since I began this project, my eyes have been opened to the culture, and I feel like I'm wearing the wrong hairstyle or the wrong clothes and that I'm being ousted by the "cool kids." I guess it's a competition to see how many readers you can get and how much traffic you can generate. I've learned that one of the blogging sub-cultures is identified as "mommy bloggers," I was intrigued when I learned about this sub-culture and began bumping elbows with other "mommy bloggers." From there it didn't take long for me to learn that there are also blog cliques. Apparently, in order to belong you have to draw a lot of readers. If your stuff is deemed "good" and you get enough readers you can get nominated for Prom Queen.

I don't really want to compete in a popularity contest, but it is nice to be noticed. I appreciate my handful of non-family readers. Especially since I eschew certain topics due to the original intention of this blog. You won't find me writing negative stuff about family members and in-laws or writing four letter words. I'm not much of a four letter word user anyway (unless you count "crap"...and I have been known to say "ass," which I was surprised to learn that some people think is a cuss word). And I don't typically write from the darkest places of my existence. Wait, that's not totally true. After all, I did write this. And this. And this. And this.

I actually found myself feeling pulled into the peer pressure of being accepted in cyberspace by my blogging counterparts. Fortunately, I got my head back and came to terms with the fact that I'll never be Prom Queen. I don't have time to frequent two dozen blogs and drop my comments at every visit, and I don't have time to post to this blog on a daily or multiple times per day basis. Even if I wanted to, I don't have time to work at "generating traffic," and I don't feel like altering my content for that purpose. I've got other priorities. I'm busy homeschooling, playing with play dough, reading Dr. Suess, and playing at the park. And in my "spare time" I'm busy manging my part-time professional counseling career. My original purpose was to give family members a place to view the latest pics of my wee ones and to read about their latest quips and antics. If you are a non-family reader and you actually come here because you are entertained by my writing or my little family life, please know you are welcome, and I'm glad to have you. But I don't plan on frying out my bangs with Aquanet or wearing pegged jeans to fit in.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Speed Racer

The fam is enjoying daylight savings time. That extra bit of daylight allows us to go for walks or to the park in the evenings. Tonight we brought along her scooter so she could use it along the way. She was really working that thing. I was amazed at how good she could maneuver and steer it and how fast she could get going while remaining in control of it. She sang "Speed Racer, go Speed Racer" as she zipped along. Then she spied another scooter in the driveway of a home we were passing. She paused with excitement and exclaimed, "Look! There's a scooter kinda like mine, but it's a little scooter for a little kid!" I sized it up. I looked at hers. I replied, "Yeah, it's for a little kid, just like yours. They are about the same size, ya know!" Daughter didn't miss a beat as she stepped back on her scooter and took off. "Yeah," she said, "but it's no match for mine!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mood Swings are a Symptom of Motherhood

Dear Son is at an interesting stage. He is walking. And walking. And walking. The novelty of this new skill is enough to drive him nonstop. And me nonstop. I used to get very little time to spend on anything that had to do with my needs or my wants (including taking a shower—which qualifies as a need AND a want). Even then, I knew to enjoy my very little time while it lasted because there would come a time when very little time for myself was a luxury that would be replaced by zero time for myself. That time is here.

In addition to walking, the current stage of Son’s little life also includes curiosity and fascination for everything. This explains the current state of my house. The toilet paper rolls are constantly being unrolled, the contents of any and every drawer and cupboard are pulled out and examined, and left in the middle of the floor. Random objects that he finds intriguing make their way into his chubby little hands and are carried about the house and left in even more random places. Right now there is a spoon lying on the floor next to the toilet, an earplug lying in the middle of the living room floor, the handle to the cordless vac lying in the middle of the kitchen floor, and at least a hundred other objects in my home are displaced. I spent an entire day last weekend cleaning the house and returning hundreds of objects to their rightful homes. Today it looks like that day never happened.

Son is also teething. His first one year molar arrived just in time for its counterpart to begin emerging. I attribute Son’s clinginess and irritability to this occurrence. Unfortunately, my own irritability can be blamed on nothing more than what I have already described. Lately Son needs to be held almost constantly. It’s both nice and frustrating sometimes. On one hand I know he will outgrow wanting to be held and cuddled way too soon and then these days will be gone forever. On the other hand, I’ve already given up all my time. It would be nice if I could at least have ownership of my hands and arms to get something accomplished. And I can’t even think about parking my big ol’ caboose on the couch while I hold him. As soon as I reach a mid-squat, he is fussing and complaining. No…I gotta be standing up and moving with him. It is reminiscent of those infant days when standing a swaying or moving while holding him was a basic requirement. Fortunately I still have the sling and can still wrap him on my hip, which allows me to get a few things accomplished each day, though carrying 25 pounds while completing these tasks gets exhausting. On the flip side, I think it is having a positive influence on my continued weight loss. I’m actually getting back into my pre-preg clothes finally.

Midway through the day (after already having a late morning nap), Son apparently decided he was ready for another nap and headed up the stairs. After snuggling and rocking and reading several stories, he wanted down from my lap. I assumed he decided he didn’t want a nap after all as he wandered out in the hall and looked around and said, “Mama!” as if asking me for something. Then he wandered back into his room where I was still sitting in the rocking chair and reached up toward the top of his dresser/changing pad where his favorite stuffed animal was left. I said, “Oh! You want Puddles Duck?” and he grinned and giggled to let me know I finally understood. He took Puddles under his arm and walked over to his crib where he reached up to let me know he was ready for a nap. I scooped him up and covered him in kisses and laid him in his crib where he tucked Puddles under his arm and took his thumb in his mouth. I didn’t hear another peep as I left his room and shut his door. It’s amazing how a five minute interaction like this can effortlessly erase my irritability and replace it with warm fuzzies. It’s even more amazing how such an interaction can leave me feeling like the whole day was worth it…just for that last five minutes. Parenting is like that sometimes.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Surviving Parenthood with a Precocious Child

Dear Daughter is precocious. I came to terms with that quite early in her life. Before she was 18 months of age, she had a vocabulary of at least 50 words. She was also able to say the entire alphabet correctly and quickly and effortlessly assemble her wooden alphabet puzzle and number puzzle before 18 months. She held interesting philosophical conversations by the time she was 25 months old. She could count to 20 by the age two and a half. She began writing her name before age three, and at three and a half can write at least half a dozen words (spelled correctly). She has completed an entire 36 week preschool homeschool curriculum in about 20 weeks because she tended to work at the pace of completing about a full week of work in one sitting. She has always had a vocabulary that outshines many adults. Today, for example, as she was juggling 10 different paint cups at her easel, she stated, "Boy, this is an unruly group of paint cups!"

And from the first time my precocious daughter first held a crayon she has been a prolific artist. She loves any medium she can get her little fingers into: crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, rubber stamps, finger paint, poster paint, tempera paint, watercolors, modeling clay, play dough, cutting and pasting, etc. I can't possibly save all her masterpieces, so I frequently pick out the best ones and save some for myself and pass others on to doting relatives. The ones that don't make the cut (dozens each week) simply have to go in the trash. I always try to be sly about it, though, so that Daughter won't catch on to it. The other day I failed miserably at the sly thing. She was throwing something away in the kitchen wastebasket when she found a crumpled masterpiece partly obscured by the remains of uneaten breakfast.

Daughter (with crestfallen face): "Mommy! You threw away my picture!"
Me (sheepishly): "Well, Honey, we can't keep ALL your pictures because you make SO MANY of them!" (I gestured to the refrigerator that was unrecognizable under the plastering of Daughter's artwork)
Daughter: "But that was a VERY SPECIAL picture! And you can't just throw it away!"

Daughter continued to look devastated as she rushed to gather paper and markers to re-create the picture in the trash can. She did well at duplicating it, and stated firmly to me that this was a very special picture and that under no circumstances was I to throw it away. It immediately took over the prime location on the refrigerator.

I think I hung my head for at least a week over that event, and I saved EVERYTHING for awhile, as if I could somehow soothe my guilty conscious and make up for my thoughtlessness by collecting stacks and piles and mountains of Daughter's art. I've had to revert to passing some on to the trash gods, but I do so with trepidation and as much slyness as I can scrape together. I don't think either one of our self-esteems could survive a replay.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Sweetest Little Baby Face?

In our house, ketchup (at least by the kids' standards) is its own dining course. Dear Daughter began demonstrating a passion for the condiment well over a year ago when she would say things like, "I want ketchup with french fries on top." With his very first taste, Son fell equally in love with this American tomato derivative. He will eat anything as long as there is ketchup involved. He is even more excited if you just serve the ketchup alone, but I refuse to indulge this (except for that one time I gave in to his whim to show him he wouldn't like it--yup, that one backfired!). I have been having visions of the movie "Big Daddy" where the son is happy just to suck the ketchup out of the packets. Yuck! Next thing you know, mine will be the "smelly kid." God, help me! Fortunately Son likes his baths--at least at this stage of his life. Husband blames the ketchup thing on me. However, I really only have a penchant for liberal amounts of ketchup on very specific foods--namely burgers and french fries, so I plead innocence.

The only thing worse than Son's infatuation with ketchup is when he gets it between his sticky little fingers, up to his elbows, in his ears and hair, etc. This is double bad because Son HATES HATES HATES to have his face wiped. It's amazing how a one year old can dodge a face wiping. This means that the smell of dried ketchup lingers along with the evidence on various parts of his body. It gets even better because Son is still recovering from a cold, which means a stubborn snot fest is available for my daily enjoyment. There IS something worse, I've discovered, than a child with dried ketchup all over his face: a child with bulging boogers hanging out of his nose and snot wiped via shirt sleeves across his face, some of it still gooey and glistening in the light and some of it dried into brownish patches across his cheeks AND dried ketchup in the spaces between the boogers.

And so there I was last Friday with my trip to the foodmart hanging over my head. We had just finished lunch (ketchup was the guest of honor), and I had gotten all the little feet shoved into shoes and little arms shoved into jackets, and I paused when my brain registered what my eyes were seeing. Son grinned at me as dried snot trails cracked on his cheeks and dried ketchup patches lingered in the creases of his nose and ears. I pondered briefly whether trying to wipe his face again would be worth the trauma it apparently causes him. In the end I knew that no number of repetitions across his face would produce a significantly better result as he is so amazingly keen at dodging the wiping in between screams of protest. With a sigh, I headed to the car with my booger and ketchup encrusted child with the face that only a mother could love.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cathartic Dump

The snot is slowly subsiding around our house. The dried booger plugs on Son's nose are getting smaller each morning. The raw patches Daughter has rubbed in her face are beginning to heal as the wiping subsides. Between the snot wars and the tornado warnings we're still not getting much sleep. Daughter was excited to go to Grandpa and Grandma's house on Wednesday and wouldn't go to sleep Tuesday night. She kept calling us to her bedroom and would say, "I just don't know what to dream about." Two hours later when she had finally fallen asleep she woke up inconsolable, insisting she wanted to keep drawing and demanding her crayons. When I convinced her to go back to sleep, she still insisted she didn't know what to dream about. Son wakes up through the night wanting to be held and reassured that things are okay in spite of the fact that his nose is running a snot marathon.

Yesterday was an intense day wearing my professional hat. I spent all day earning CE credits for a workshop on how to increase awareness of our feelings and sensations and help our clients do the same. It succeeded in raising my awareness of how exhausted I felt and how I was feeling the sensation of a migraine coming on, not that I needed increased awareness of these conditions. It also involved a lot of deep breathing and closing of eyes and relaxation and such. It was torture, as this all contributed to my overwhelming urge to go to sleep. I think I dozed a time or to, but I kept being awakened by the loud snoring of the man next to me.

I went straight from this full eight hour day of sleep-deprived, awareness-raising, torture experience to five back to back therapy sessions with behavior disturbed adolescents. The final session began with me being called every name in the book, and ended with me calmly putting on my coat and leaving in the middle of it. It's not unusual for me to be called colorful names by my teenage and adolescent clients. It's also not unusual for me to be greeted with hugs and adoration. I never know how I'll be received from week to week, so I never take any of it on a personal level. It's all in a day's work when dealing with adolescents who carry such labels as Bi-Polar Disorder-sometimes with psychotic features, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder-sometimes with psychotic features.... Nonetheless, all the flavors of "Disorder" and psychosis tires me sometimes. This is why I have to maintain some office based adult clients who come to see me because they actually WANT to, who are motivated to really work on issues, and who have high levels of insight and high cognitive skills. I was just done last night after a 14 hour day, and much preferred making it home in time to see my kids to bed than being the object of unresolved aggression.

I walked in the door and went straight upstairs where Husband handed me Son just in time to snuggle him to sleep. He curled up on my shoulder and tucked his head in my neck and went to sleep immediately. I lingered for a long time after he slept, listening to and feeling his baby breaths on my neck and thinking of how there is just no better way to end a day, especially a day like yesterday.