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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

My Dear Son likes worms. A lot. He has recently decided that he likes to hold the wiggly, slimy things in the palm of his hands, and once he gets a hold of one, he doesn't like to put it down. Last week he glommed onto one and decided to take it on a walk with us. He was riding his new training wheel bicycle (it has a handle for parents to "help") and refused to let go of his "wormy." He has figured out how to pedal his "motorcycle" (which is what he calls it), but he tends to only steer it when he is reminded to or when we almost go into the ditch. He had his "wormy" cupped ever so gingerly in his palm while he rode. He kept transferring it from one hand to he other until it finally stopped squirming and lay in his palm in a limp wormy pile. Then Son said, "Wormy taking a nap!" I didn't have the heart to inform him that no matter how gentle he tried to be with his "wormy," he had fondled it to its death. He held that worm for the entire mile long walk and then insisted he had to bring it inside with us. I managed to convince him that Wormy would be happiest if he could continue his "nap" outside.

A couple days later we had a tree frog on the brick ledge next to the front door. The kids both enjoyed looking at it, and then Dear Son started pleading to "Touch it! Touch it froggy!" The next morning there was the same type of frog on the ledge outside Dear Daughter's bedroom window and Dear Son kept insisting, "Froggy touch it!" He was not at all happy that I couldn't oblige him through the window screen. He and Daddy later went out to the pond in search of frogs for Son to touch.

So far neither frogs nor worms have made it into his pockets, but I'm waiting for it. I just hope I find them before they go through the washer and dryer!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Springing Out in the Country

This is just a random pic of a rare moment when the wee ones are getting along great. They had discovered the latest Toys 'R Us ad and were beginning to construct their Christmas wish lists already.

In other news, we are enjoying the spring weather although it is flighty. We've had days in the 80's and days in the 40's. Regardless of a few transient cool days, the grass is really green and really long. We've mowed it twice so far this season.

We've also gotten started on some more cleanup in the woods. Not only did I get to drive the big ass lawn mower around a few acres of grass recently, but I didn't hit a single tree. We planted five new ones last fall, so my odds increased. I got that zero turn thing figured out well by now despite Dear Husband's anxiety over trusting the machinery to me. I also got to give the new chainsaw a workout. It occurred to me in the midst of all this that it took a lot of time and work. I had a hard time imagining what it would be like to live in an apartment building or condo in the city with none of this to do. I couldn't figure out what I would do with all my time!

Dear Daughter is having fun growing tadpoles in a jar in her room. We managed to fish a few out of the pond a couple weeks ago. We are having fun trying to identify all the frogs and turtles that live in the pond. We've decided that one of the types of frog is most definitely a Spring Peeper. We apparently have lots of those! We identified them from some sound clips on an Internet web site. They have a very distinctive sound. Early this spring they started their chirping and screeching and I noticed it even in the middle of the night. I thought they were bird and couldn't figure out why they were being so noisy even in the dark. Then we hypothesized that they were aliens stalking us. Their screeching is eerie, especially if you are outside in the pitch blackness when you are hearing them. There are two or three other varieties of tree frogs that I haven't identified for sure. There are also several very large blackish looking turtles. They are VERY shy and don't let you get within 100 feet of them before they dive into the water to hide. I can see them out of the picture window above the jacuzzi bath tub if I use binoculars.

We are also getting started setting up a garden. Nothing is planted yet, which is probably just as well as we are still getting cold enough to be near freezing once in awhile. The kids enjoyed helping Dear Husband set it up while I mowed Saturday. We'll have a vegetable garden and a berry garden to start with. Eventually we plan to put in a small grove of fruit trees. Here's a picture of the kids stopping for a drink. And pausing for a "rest."

Husband also got my new clothesline set up this weekend. We've had some perfect days for hanging sheets, towels, and blue jeans on the clothesline. I haven't gotten to try it out yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Gates' Head

I NEED the two or so hours I get between the kids' bedtime and my own bedtime. I use this time to work or unwind or do ANYTHING, besides being a mommy. Being a mommy requires my undivided attention for the other 14 waking hours of each day. Nevertheless, as a parent I remain "on call" around the clock whether it is during those blissful two hours or not.

I have begun latching the child gate at the top of the stairs each night before I retreat to the basement to unwind. Dear Daughter still does not know how to unlatch this gate, and so I have resorted to this because she had begun getting out of bed and repeatedly coming downstairs for random reasons instead of being in bed and asleep. Usually the gate deters her. Each night approximately 15 minutes after I leave her room, I hear the pitter patter of her little feet on the floor above me. They make their way down the hall and pause at the top of the stairs. While I can't see her, I can hear her. She sometimes checks the gate gently to be sure it is latched. Then she gives up and goes back to bed where she lies in bed reading books until the falls asleep (with her light still on).

Falling asleep with her light on is a new routine that started when I suggested that if she just can't sleep, she can turn her lamp on and read for a little while after I tuck her in. I thought this idea would keep her from getting out of bed. Now she thinks this is a nightly requirement (in ADDITION to getting up at least once) despite the fact that I read to her for 30-45 minutes in her bed each night and then snuggle in the dark with her for another 15-20 minutes. By this time it is often 9:30 pm. Little girls who are only four years old need to be asleep by then, if you ask me. I don't let her sleep past 8 am and she hasn't napped since she was about 2 1/2 years old. Still, she has been up until at least 10:30 and sometimes 11:00 for the past few weeks. I kept thinking it would catch up with her and she would finally fall asleep as soon as the light went out for our snuggle time. So far, it hasn't.

Daughter never calls for me from the top of the stairs behind the latched child gate. I think she knows she would be in trouble for this, especially if she woke up her little brother whose bedroom is on the other side of the wall by the gate. Tonight, however, I heard the routine pitter patter, the pause, and then I assumed she went back to bed. A few minutes later I heard her jiggle the gate with a touch of urgency followed by a weak, but desperate, little voice calling, "Mommy, I need a hug and kiss!" followed by a brief pause and tears and a quick scamper down the hall back to her room. I figured this was simply her typical drama attached to her perception of bedtime as a traumatic experience since she would have to defer being attached to my side for 10 hours while she sleeps. And yet this was the first time she responded this way, and so I decided to check it out. I found her in her room sobbing, and when she saw me walk through the door she literally jumped into my arms. Her only explanation was that she needed hugs and kisses because she just loves me so much. I indulged the moment, as Dear Son's bed time interactions with me amount to him shooing me away when I try to steal a kiss and ordering me to "Go to bed! Please!" The "Please!" grows in urgency the longer I linger and the more I try to give or steal kisses.

As I held my sobbing little drama queen close, the following conversation ensued:

Me: "What in the world is the matter?"

Daughter: "I just love you so much that I needed hugs and kisses!" *sob sob*

Me: "I just spent 45 minutes reading to you and another 20 minutes snuggling with you with the lights out."

Daughter: "I know, but I just love you so much. And when you snuggle with me I get a warm toasty feeling in my tummy, and I just needed that warm toasty feeling again. I just love you so much, Mommy!"

Me: "Oh, Sweetie, I love you too. I get that warm toasty feeling in my tummy, too, when I snuggle you!"

Daughter: "You do?!"

Me: "Of course I do. And I will always be your mommy, and I will love you for the rest of my life. No matter what!"

Daughter: "And I will love YOU for the rest of MY life! And when we go to Heaven our spirits will be there together and we will love each other forever and ever."

Me: "Yes, Sweetie. We will love each other forever and ever in Heaven!"

Daughter: "And maybe when you get to Heaven you hair will have the shape you want it to have."

(I recently got a modification to my haircut that is supposed to be one of those trendy angled cuts...but in the end it looked a lot better on the Aquage poster model in the salon than on my own head. Of course, the model being a perfect size 3 probably had a lot to do with how great her haircut looked, too. Yeah, I can tell from a head shot when someone is a size 3. But I digress. Apparently Dear Daughter heard me fussing the other night about whether I liked the shape of my hair cut.)

Me: "Yes, that would be nice to have the right hair shape in Heaven."

Daughter: "Yeah! And maybe in Heaven Daddy's head will be smaller!"

By this time I was giggling too hard to comment, not that I knew how to respond to that anyway.

You see, there is this joke in the family about the "Gates' head." It is a reference to the rather large heads on my husband's mother's side of the family. I've always thought my husband to have a rather large head. It's not so noticeable as long as he keeps his hair cut short enough. When it starts to get too long, it gets pretty big and bushy and I usually tease him that his "head is getting really big" and inquire when he is planning to get a haircut. Daughter has never made reference to any of this ever before. I, in fact, have not made reference to this in a really long time either, so I have no idea why this came up in the conversation so randomly.

Nevertheless, I found it hysterical, and so I had to post it as I thought my Dear Mother-in Law would get a giggle out of it as well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Special!"

The rivalry between the two siblings that live in this house began about a year ago when Dear Son was the tender age of roughly 16 months. Over the past year, things have only gotten worse. Dear Son wants whatever his big sister has the second she picks it up. He screams, "No, Sissy! Bubby have it!", he hits her, he snatches said object from his sister's hands, and he is not easily re-directed to say the least.

Tonight as the family all sat together eating dinner, Dear Daughter decided she wanted a fruit and Jello cup, but her little brother had the last one on his plate. He hadn't touched it, so I asked him if he wanted it or not. He didn't seem to care about it all, so I suggested his big sister could have it if her didn't want it. Boy did that get a rise out of him! "No! No! No! No, Sissy!" he said as he covered it with his pudgy 28-month-old hand. Then he added for emphasis, "It's special!"

Dear Husband and I both snickered before commenting to Dear Son in unison, "YOU'RE 'special'!" He went on to NOT eat the Jello cup. He apparently didn't want it but didn't want his sister to have it either. In the end, "special" or not, it was big sister who got to eat it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Not So Elusive Uvula

Since Spring has eluded us around here (it has been 40 degrees with snow flurries today), we decided to take a family field trip to the Discovery Center. It seemed like a good indoor activity and we had not been there for a couple years, before they completed their expansion. The kids had a great time with all the hands-on exhibits, which included digging for dinosaur fossil bones, building a life-sized Lego house, digging with a kid-sized machinery, flying homemade aircraft, making lighting, etc. You know, all the cool stuff that science centers commonly offer.

When we entered the section of larger than life exhibits about our five senses, we had to pass through a giant mouth, complete with teeth and uvula. I giggled about the uvula when I noticed it later and commented to Dear Husband about it. Then I didn't think any more about it. Until Dear Daughter inquired randomly at the dinner table, "Mommy, what was that thing hanging down in that mouth we walked through at that learning place we went to today?" It took me a few moments to connect in my own brain what she was talking about. "Oh!" I said, "You mean the uvula?" "Yeah," she replied, "that uvula. What is that for?" I realized that I wasn't any more certain about what a uvula is for that than I was when she asked me what eyebrows are for, so I told her we would have to do some research and learn about it.

She was silent for several moments as I was putting food away in the refrigerator. Then she suddenly stopped eating her plate of buttery noodles (her favorite) and said she didn't feel well, and in fact felt a little sick. There was an urgency in her voice, and so I instructed her to hurry to the bathroom if she thought she was going to throw up. She insisted she wasn't going to throw up, and got quiet again. I moved on to other things in my own mind as Daughter continued to pick at her noodles, and so I was greatly caught off guard when she began crying and screaming and with a single leap was out of her chair and at my side jumping around in the tile floor like a Mexican Jumping Bean. I frantically urged her to tell me what in the world was the matter with her, and she tried to explain through tears and wails. "I was just thinking of something, and I can't stop thinking about it!" Jump, jump, jump, as she screamed and wailed. I asked her what on earth she was thinking about, and she screamed and wailed and whined that it was "that uvula thing" and continued her spastic jig and urgent screaming.

I tried to distract her by heading to the playroom downstairs. Then Dear Husband and I made the mistake of teasing each other about how silly our daughter was being. I sarcastically told Dear Daughter that she need not worry about gagging on her uvula as I am 36 years old and have never yet gagged on MY uvula. This only upset her more. I nudged Hubby and made gagging and retching sounds with my hands up around my neck. "Uhhhh! I'm gagging on my uvula! UUUUUUUUUHHHH!!!!!" retch retch retch. This didn't make Daughter laugh. In fact, it only upset her further. Dear Son, however, thought it was hysterical. He giggled and giggled and put his pudgy little 27-month-old hands around his own neck and made retching sounds and said " 'Gain! " 'Gain!" as he pleaded with me to do it 'gain! I indulged him a couple more times to my daughter's horror and then realized that I'd better stop as she was so anxiety-ridden that she was wringing her Taggie Book in her hands to the point that I feared she would tear it in two, and then we'd have yet another crisis on our hands.

I have no clue where my daughter developed a phobia of her own uvula, but I'm really hoping that she doesn't wake up screaming tonight with nightmares about gagging on it. Me and my uvula need our rest in order to deal with whatever crises are conjured up in my four-year-old daughter's imagination tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vamonos!

I had to look it up to be sure I knew the meaning of this Spanish word. I've only heard it in the background when the kids are watching Go Diego, Go! I don't think I had even consciously realized I had heard it in the background until the point at which my 27 month old son used it correctly in a sentence today.

Following lunch, and out of the apparent blue, Dear Son decided he wanted "Turtle," who is his favorite security buddy as of late. I was busy cleaning up the aftermath that occurs after each meal involving my 4 1/2-year-old and 27-month-old children, so I suggested he go to his room to get it himself. I was sure Turtle was in his crib, as he sleeps with him every night. He trotted off to his room and returned a couple minutes later to the kitchen announcing, "I can't reach it!" This was quickly followed by "Sissy help ya?!" "Sissy" was still sitting at the table munching on her lunch (after all, she'd only been sitting there for 45 minutes and every meal takes her at least an hour and a half these days). She told her little brother she would help him, but apparently didn't move quickly enough for him. "C'mon, Sissy!" he said, "Vamanos!"

All of a sudden something clicked in my head. I knew I had heard it before, and I knew it was Spanish. I had a flash bulb memory of Go Diego, Go! playing in the background as I mopped the kitchen floor, changed laundry loads, wrote shopping lists, whatever I can get done in 25 minutes while the kids are glued to the Noggin Network.

I wasn't sure what the word meant, so I had to look it up. Sure enough, Vamonos can be translated into English as "Let's go!"

Apparently the Noggin Network really is "just like pre-school in your living room." At least if your goal is to teach your 27-month-old Spanish.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Worm Mystery

It's been raining for as long as I can remember. That means the worms come out and slither about on the driveway. It also means that Dear Son is genuinely entertained. Yesterday evening while I was at work, the husband took the kids outside to play in between rain showers. He later reported to me that Dear Son became infatuated with a worm and had to hold it. In his little fist. For 30 minutes. When they went back inside, Dear Husband claims he insisted the worm couldn't come in with them. By that time, he said, the poor little worm was a wadded up ball of a worm mess.

That's how he told me the story, and I didn't think much more of it until Dear Son woke up from his nap with his new squirt gun, which attached itself to his little hands when he discovered it on an end cap at the Food Mart this morning, and which he had not parted with since that first moment he laid eyes on it in the store. When I came into his room after his nap, he was standing in his crib jabbering about a worm being inside his squirt gun. I told him there wasn't a worm in there, but he kept insisting, so I peeked in the hole. All I saw was a lump that looked like where the two colors of plastic joined. "Nope!" I said confidently, "no worms!" He kept insisting, so then I said, "What is it? Do you WANT to put a worm in there?" And he replied, "Yeah!" I told him something to the effect of that not being proper and then we moved on to the potty.
Today he actually wanted to sit on the potty and even did so with his britches down, so I went with it and have put him back on it several times. Trying right after nap time seemed to make sense, so that's what we did. The four of us huddled there at potty seat level; Dear Son, his squirt gun, Dear Daughter, and myself. That's when I saw something reddish black go rolling across the floor. I quickly picked it up to examine it, and it was most clearly a waded up, nearly completely dehydrated worm, which Son had apparently shoved in his new squirt gun. Husband swears last night's worm didn't come inside. We didn't collect anymore worms that I knew of today, but then Son loves to shove "treasures" in his pockets, so who knows. He may have found it on the driveway or in the Food Mart parking lot and shoved it in his pocket before I could catch him in the act. Or he may have somehow managed to bring one to bed with him last night (unbeknownst to anyone else) and spent the night with it, and then discovered it still in his bed after nap time. At which time he shoved it in his new squirt gun.

This boy thing gets pretty interesting some days.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Projects

When I started this blog over three years ago, the point of my efforts was to keep family and friends updated on our family and to save me redundant email messages with photo attachments. It also became a hobby and an outlet for stress relief. What emerged from my posts were stories and pictures that recorded many details and milestones of my daughter's little life, and eventually my son's life as well. I have tried to keep the focus on my children in this particular blog for the sake of the theme and the original point of this project. Somewhere along the way, about a year into this gig, I felt like I wanted all the stuff I was recording in this electronic fashion in a more permanent and tangible keepsake form as well.
Dear Husband began to assist me with backing this site up on our local hard drive until I figured out the most practical way to convert it into hard copy. I considered taking it to a print shop, but even that didn't come without some conversion challenges as well as a pretty hefty expense. Without a good option readily available I just continued to hoard it electronically until something else made sense. About a year ago we finally invested in a laser printer/copier/fax machine. I needed it for my work and didn't know how I got along for so long without it. I also needed a flatbed photocopier for homeschooling. With a laser printer at my disposal, I decided that I could print it all out myself at home and compile it in a book (or volumes of books as it turns out). I considered using something like Adobe Pagemaker to put it all together, including printouts of the photos, but we didn't purchase a color printer, and I also wasn't sure how long the quality of a laser printed photo would last. The best option seemed to be to convert all the text into a Word file and print it out and place it in plastic sleeves accompanied by photo sleeves of the real photographs that correspond with the text. I've posted a lot of photos over the years.
This was a project that stayed in my head on some back burner list of "to do...someday." It was in line somewhere after the past two years of scrapbooking was caught up. In the meantime, we were busy with buying and selling a house and moving and all that comes with that.
A couple months ago I finished catching up the scrapbooks and so the blog conversion was next on the list. I have been working on this task for the past couple weeks. I have the text formatted and printed for the first two years and the accompanying photos printed and organized for the first 18 months or so. The next 163 photos are printed and waiting for me, which will complete the first two years. I will keep chipping away at it until it is caught up and then probably convert it and print it out on a monthly basis after that.
I have reread various entries and reviewed countless photos in the process of this project, and I am so glad I have recorded these things, as many of them would have been forgotten. Things like "The Hat Crisis," "poop bags," reflections on the "Metamorphosis," the relief that came when Dear Son finally slept through the night, "Learning Some F-Words," Dear Son's gas issues, the direct line to God, and backwards compliments to name just a few.
This project would be why I haven't posted anything new for awhile. Stay tuned, though...more will come!