Sunday, August 26, 2007

Discerning Tastes

So today the Crown Prince, as my mother in law referred to Cade when he was first born, provided an addendum to my grocery list. Both his grandfather and his babysitter share a preference for Boars Head Maple Ham from the deli and have, on occasion, shared sandwiches with Cade. Unfortunately for Cade, his father is in school working on his MBA and the family is on a student budget so we typically purchase Oscar Meyer deli sliced Honey Ham (in your grocer's refrigerator!). Unbeknownest to me, Cade has been mooching off the babysitter's lunch and today informed me that I need to buy "better ham" when I went to the grocery store. Oh, and by the way - could I get some of the "spicy cheese" that Ninny (the babysitter whose name is Cindy but answers to Ninny) has on her sandwich. Needless to say, I was shocked by these specific culinary instructions from a boy who prefers to eat his watermelon dipped in ketchup.

Thank goodness for Drew - the boy who will eat anything. And I do mean ANYTHING. Drew's appetite is so rampant that Aaron jokes about the fact that he ate his twin in utero because in very early pregnancy my hormone levels were so high that the doctor's office told me I might be having twins. Needless to say, we were relieved to find out that Drew was a singleton and even more relieved when we were introduced to his appetite because we could not afford to feed two of him right now. And we are already worrying about what Teenaged Drew's appetite will be like! Fortunately, his taste preferences are a little more pedestrian than Cade's (think Rice Krispies and Kraft Mac and Cheese).

While we're on the subject of toddler eating habits, has anyone figured them out?!?!? While toddlers are notoriously picky, I am confounded by the fact that they will insist on eating one particular food (say, oatmeal, for example) for three meals a day for three months solid and then all of the sudden, one day it is completely unacceptable and they will no longer deign to touch, more less consume, anything remotely oatmealish-looking. Aside from the wrench this throws into meal planning and the secondary ramifications it has (ensuring they eat enough raisins to break up the binding effect of the oatmeal), it is just plain annoying. I mean, really. I signed up to be a mom, not a short-order cook.

It's funny how reflecting on this, like many things parenting-related, I am amazed at how the cycle of life comes full circle. One of my favorite foods has always been Alaskan king crab legs, since my dad introduced me to them as a young child (he has pretty much instigated and fed all of my preferences for the finer things in life). I can remember shoveling down king crab legs as fast as he could crack and peel them for me, with no reverance for the delicacy I was consuming at lightning speed. I think of this every time I share another one of Cade's favorite meals with him - Sushi. With plenty of wasabi - the spicier, the better. If anyone figures out the method to the toddler taste bud madness, let me know.

The Best of Buds

So the nonstop chaos we have endured over the past three years as a result of having our kids so close together is finally starting to pay off. Cade and Drew are the best of friends. Not that they don't ever fight, but it is fairly infrequent given that they are both toddlers in the "mine" stage.

In fact, they are such good friends that after an entire summer of pretty much only playing with each other while we were traveling, I am having to recondition them to play with their other friends. Cade's poor little friend Polly, one of his favorites pre-summer vacation, has had her hugs rebuffed the last three times they have played together. It's a good thing that the social calendars of three year olds are still dictated by mothers rather than the children themselves, otherwise Cade and Drew would surely find themselves cast out of the Smyrna Toddler Society Circles.

Cute story - yesterday Drew woke up from his nap really crabby - he's not really a morning (or late afternoon) person and is a giant meanie for about half an hour after he gets up in the morning or from naps. Anyway, he's fussing and complaining as Aaron carried him downstairs and the minute he caught a glimpse of Cade in the living room, he pointed and said, "There he is!" and his whole face lit up. Cade returned the greeting and all was right in the universe again.

Right now they have two favorite games - Little People (of the Fisher Price Variety) and cars (of the Matchbox variety). They will actually entertain themselves for such a great length of time that lately I have started feeling guilty for how little parenting I am required to do. Those of you who have just joined the secret society of Moms Parenting Two Under Two - take heart! In just two years it will all be worth it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Major Milestone - The Big Boy Bed

Tonight's post is bittersweet. My babies have both moved to a big boy bed. After spending most of the summer traveling and sleeping in every configuration imaginable (together, apart, big boy beds, toddler beds, pack n plays, blankets on the floor, airplanes, carseats, etc.), Drew has informed me that he "no want to sleep in crib". In a persistent, wailing tone of voice. On a nightly basis. For the past three weeks.

Cade, who has been sleeping on a makeshift pallet of blankets next to my bed since we returned from vacation three weeks ago, informed me that he would sleep in his room ONLY if he could sleep in a big boy bed, not the toddler bed he happily slept in for over a year prior to vacation. In the interest of shortening the bedtime routine and removing the permanently installed Cade Area Rug from the floor next to my bed, I caved. It was not without apprehension - I got tears in my eyes last night as we discussed the Big Move and found myself mourning the loss of my babies. For almost the past four years (counting the pregnancy obsession months), my whole life has been focused on baby stuff - the food, the toys, the babyproofing, the diapering, the gear, etc. I found myself feeling sad that with the loss of the cribs, all the "baby" I will have left is the two diapers and 15 bibs a day Drew goes through since he STILL drools enough to soak through a raincoat.

We dragged out the old full mattress that we have been storing in mattress bags in the garage for two years since we lost our guest room to the second baby. When we packed it up (seems like just yesterday!), I lobbied pretty hard to sell it but Aaron insisted on keeping it since it had only been slept on three times and nobody had ever had sex on it. I must admit, I was pretty happy not to have to go out and buy a new mattress set today.

I started to get kind of into it. I secretly rejoiced at the thought of getting my guest room back. We disassembled the toddler room in Cade's bed and moved it up to the attic, leaving Drew's crib (which converts to a toddler bed) up in the nursery as backup in case the whole big boy bed thing didn't work out. Exhultation turned to disappointment when I realized that we have enough toys to fill up ToysRUS headquarters. With the big boy bed taking up so much precious bedroom real estate, the "guest room" will morph once again from nursery to playroom and be consumed by the Pottery Barn Rocket ship playhouse, the rocking horse, the play kitchen, and the train table (all gifts from well-intentioned relatives who clearly no longer have small children and all their assorted crap at home).

While shifting beds and oversized toys between the two rooms, we were amused to overhear the following conversation between the boys:

Cade: When I was a baby I slept in the crib and I didn't like it either. I was trying to get out but I couldn't get out!
Drew: YEAH!
Cade: Don't worry - Daddy says tonight we will sleep in the big boy bed in my room - you can stay there too.
Drew: Allright!!!
Cade: Now give me that train!

With the big boy room all set up and the toys neatly organized (at least until tomorrow) in the playroom closet, we read stories, brushed teeth, and settled the boys into bed. We outlined the rules of the big boy bed (no getting out of bed, no goofing off, and no touching the expensive Pottery Barn planet mobile hanging over the bed because Daddy is too lazy to move and re-hang it since the bed has moved). I was psyched and fully prepared for battle, as I was pretty sure the big boy bed was not going to work out and we would spend half the evening marching people back to bed and the other half listening to Drew wail as he was returned to his rightful place in the crib as the baby of the family.

Instead, Cade cried out once - to go to the bathroom. He went, climbed back in bed, and rolled over and went to sleep. Drew did the same.

It was too easy. Normally, I'd be rejoicing at what a masterful job we did sleep training our children! So why am I so sad that it looks like my days of sleep training may be behind me?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daddy Day Care

I had to work today and the babysitter needed the day off, so I left my children under the "supervision" of their father. I use this term loosely, since his definition of supervising is to spend an hour on hold with the Dish Network people trying to get the satellite TV fixed while the children beat each other with trains, I mean, play together.

While aforementioned father is on hold with his back to children, Oldest Son appears in front of him and says, "Daddy! My toe is red!". No, he did not step in red paint. He is BLEEDING. Profusely. Not only is he injured, he is tracking red body fluids all over mommy's carpet. A double supervision violation for Daddy. How did he injure himself, you might ask? He dropped an alarm clock (a gift from his father to help the three year old boy learn about electricity and numbers) on his foot. Violation number three - shock hazards as toys.

In dad's defense, when I came home both children were alive. He scored bonus points for also keeping the neighbor's child (dropped off while his mom had a doctor's appointment) alive as well. Further bonus points for feeding the children lunch (unlike the time I went on a business trip and my babysitter mentioned that she had bathed the children after three days since it appeared they hadn't bathed since I left. Dad confirmed that in fact, they had not). Final bonus points for successfully scrubbing the blood out of the carpet.

All in all, he did ok. Guess this means he can stay with them again tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Object of My Obsession, er - I Mean, Affection

So hanging out with little people and their moms and reading countless parenting magazines has reassured me that it is pretty common, and even normal, for toddlers to develop a fixation on a certain object. In my house, those objects are Dustbusters and fountains (of the landscaping variety). Yes, you read that correctly.

Cade has had what I would consider an unnatural obsession with Dustbusters from the time he was about eighteen months old. He now owns SEVEN of them, including three toys, three real ones, and a special car hand vac that his grandfather got for free for renewing his subscription to TIME Magazine. Stickers and candy carry very little weight with Cade, so his potty training incentive was - you guessed it, a Dustbuster. Which led me to one of the stranger moments in my life when I found myself screaming at him (in the throes of the umpteenth argument about the potty) - "Don't you talk to me about the Dustbuster again until you put your poopoo in the potty!". In the universe I previously inhabited (the pre-parent one, that is), Dustbuster and poopoo are two words that never would have crossed my lips in the same sentence. But I digress.

I was secretly pleased to learn that other children share this weird obsession - a friend of ours actually authored a book (in PowerPoint) about a family of vacuums for his son, who is Cade's age and shares his passion for motorized cleaning supplies. For a special reward for good behavior, we sometimes take Cade to the vacuum aisle at Target or Best Buy where he can inspect the newly released models of Dustbusters and stay on top of the latest trends. We were encouraged to learn from the Best Buy vacuum guy that there is another local three year old that frequents this haunt, only his drug of choice is the Dysons and he has to test drive them. We are grateful that our son at least has a more affordable addiction - his craving to add to his Dustbuster can usually be satiated for about $30, well under the cost of a Dyson upright.

Eventually the Dustbuster fascination subsided a little and he moved onto fountains. We now spend countless hours doing drive bys of his favorite ones - they all have names (Town Square Fountain, Library Fountain, the Duck Pond Fountain, the Target Fountain, Mommy's Fountain (the one by church), etc.). We have a bizarre ritual that we follow after pre-school pickup - we have to "check in" on certain fountains and follow a prescribed path before heading home for lunch. I indulge in the Tour of Fountains mainly because there are so few things that really interest Cade or hold his attention so I feel it's important to nourish this natural curiosity when it arises. Please don't remind me of how I enabled this behavior when I am complaining about the cost of anti OCD prescriptions in a few years.

Drew recently turned two and has elected to carry on Cade's tradition of honoring local fountains. Today, as we were driving down a new route, Drew pointed out from the backseat - "Look, Mommy! There's Baby Fountain!". Sure enough, there was a tiny fountain on a decorative grassy median at a three way intersection. I had to roll my eyes and laugh and repeat to myself that this is just one of those things that will pass when the Toddlooler (the parenting No-Man's land that encompasses the toddler and preschool years) phase is over.

As we left the intersection and drove past a local restaurant, I noticed another fountain in the front of the restaurant. Standing nearby and checking it out intently - two boys who looked to be about 8 or 9. Swell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Better Way?

After several failed attempts to archive the antics of my children (I've tried baby books, calendars, email accounts for the children, posting photos online, annual christmas gange letters, and weekly phone calls to all 1500 relatives wanting an update on the kids), I'm finally doing what I should have done three years ago - blogging. This will please my mother, who compounds my anxiety by asking, every time I tell a "boy story" (funny story about what they've done), if I am "writing this down somewhere". No, in fact, I was not, but now I am. Hopefully.

Not only will I have a place to capture boy stories (i.e. The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day), but I can also share lessons learned in parenting children less than two years apart - an adventure not for the faint of heart.

Just to give you a sense of what we deal with on a daily basis, thought I'd share my most recent boy story about my oldest, a very spirited child who definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer. He recently underwent a complete speech and language evaluation (long story, but everything checked out fine) and as I was sitting in on the evaluation, I got a unique opportunity to peek into the way his mind works. The speech therapist had a booklet of pictures and she was walking him through the pictures and asking him comprehension questions. A sampling of his responses:
  • She showed him a picture of rain , sun and snow and asked him to tell her where Charlie would be playing if he were cold and wet. His response: the snow, but he asked, "Where's Charlie? There's no Charlie here!" (there was no boy in the picture).
  • Right after that, she showed him a picture of Charlie in the cold with some items - sunglasses, a coat, an umbrella, etc. and asked him what Charlie should do to warm up (implication being he should put on the coat). He told her that Charlie should go home. Which in fact, would be much warmer than putting on the coat - I agree!
  • She showed him a pictures of three things and asked him to identify each. He correctly identified a picture of a shoe, but wanted to know, "where's the other shoe?"
  • She showed him three pictures one of which was a boy taking a bath. She asked him what he was doing and Cade said, "Drinking the bathwater!" (Cade and Drew hold drinking contests in the baths, despite the fact that I discourage this on a nightly basis).
  • She showed him a picture of ice cream and fire and said, "Ice cream is cold. Fire is......what?". He ignored her a couple of times. She repeated it and said, "Ice cream is cold. Fire is.....". Cade goes, "Fire is what!".
  • And of course, the grand finale. When she repeatedly asked him where he plays, Cade's response (as he's checking out all the therapeutic toys in the session): "Right here, lady!".

As you can see, our boy has a unique way of thinking. It was incredible how not one of his answers was really WRONG, per se - just not the straightforward answer she was looking for! Oh, to get inside the mind of a three year old!