Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Gene Pool Runs Deep

It never ceases to amaze me how the gene pool works. I've got friends with children where the boy looks just like the dad and the girl looks just like the mom. Like - eerily JUST like their parents. We have another set of friends where the children don't look particularly like their parents, but the baby boy is identical to his big sister - I would not be able to pick them apart in baby pictures. Another friend's daughter is EXACTLY like her personality-wise, so much that the poor little one basically can't get anything past her mom, who always knows what she is thinking because they think the same way. One of my favorite pastimes is to check out this phenomena at places like Disney World, where extended families tend to travel together. Yes, I know I need to get a life, but seriously - it is just fascinating to watch how family resemblance evolves over three or even four generations. You can almost pick in the crowd who "goes" with whom.

Cade has always been the spitting image of my husband Aaron. For the first 2 1/2 years of his life, I used to wonder how it was possible that he looked so much like Aaron and so little like me, given that I actually did all the work and carried him for 9 months! In recent months, I've been pleased to see elements of myself emerging in his face. And I am also encouraged to note that he shares my same fastidious dislike of stained/ripped clothing and missing buttons. And "mushy" bananas - he likes 'em green, like I do.

Everything else about him is his father. Today I was watching the boys chase a ball at the park and was marveling at how the backside of Cade is exactly like his father's - right down to the fact that he can't even hold his jeans up because he has NO butt. Same long torso, same skinny chicken legs (and just so I say something nice here - same thick, lush eyelashes, quick mind, and quirky sense of humor). He even has similar expressions as Aaron - my favorite is the one I like to call "WTF!?!?" It's pretty funny on a three year old. Wearing a very "Aaron" outfit (long sleeved t-shirt and unintentionally baggy pants) today, Cade looked like a miniature version of Aaron, with blonde hair (Yes! I KNEW he was mine!) Aaron himself is as if someone poured his two parents in a glass. He is the perfect blend of both their appearances and their personalities.

Drew, on the other hand, shares my build - the two sided pooch (bubble butt and muffin top tummy) and the chubby cheeks to go with it. But everything else about him is a mystery. We haven't quite figured out who he looks like yet - there are several extended family members that share a striking resemblance in baby pictures. In this way, he takes after me as well. I look like absolutely no one in my immediate family, but I'm the spitting image of my dad's sister. Drew does share the same lush, thick eyelashes as his dad and his brother. If we ever have a daughter, she will thank us for all the money she saves on mascara!

There is something very cool about seeing reflections of yourself in the next generation. In some ways, kids are a "do over" - a chance to take a lifetime work of lessons learned the hard way and share it with them so you can spare them from making the same mistakes. This, of course, frees up their time to go on and make different, bigger, and better mistakes of their own.

In light of that, here are today's lessons for Cade and Drew.

Drew: No amount of exercise will take that bubble butt down, so don't even bother trying.

Cade: Start learning how to keep the uni-brow under control NOW, while you're still young.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Cade and Drew Isms

The sophisticated (sometimes unwitting) sense of humor that the boys have never ceases to amaze me. A few of my favorites from this week:

Drew (pointing to Aaron's Google tshirt): Is that Gooble, Daddy?

Me: Time to clean up, guys! Let's go!
Cade: A little music would really help me here.

Drew: Come on, Cade!
Cade: Hold on a second. I'll be there in ten minutes.

Drew (looking at pot roast on plate): I don't eat meat, Mommy. I don't even try it.

And my favorites - the ones at my expense:

Me: Come here, Cade!
Cade (walking around with soft drink koozies on his ears): I can't hear you, Mommy! My hearing aids are broken!

Drew: Oh no! Spilled milk on floor! Can you just take care of that, Mommy?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Breast Fest: A Non-Issue

Is anybody tired of the breastfeeding "debate" yet? Seriously, the only topic I find more tiresome is "Working Mom vs: Stay-at-Home Mom: The Imaginary Media-Contrived Battle of the Moms". In honor of recent of anti-breastfeeding in public comments/acts by Bill Maher, Applebee's, Facebook, and yes, even the YMCA, blogging mommies around the world have designated October 10 as Breast Fest, a day to discuss their right to breastfeed whenever and wherever. Thanks to my friend Linda, a fellow mommy blogger and DC Metro Mom for bringing this to my attention.

I breastfed my oldest for nine months and my youngest for a mere four. I realized that in the world of hard-core Lactivists, this is no great length of time. But I was happy to be able to nurse my oldest until he got tired of it and my youngest until I was on the verge of losing my sanity and had to give it up (MAJOR hats off to all those moms out there that successfully nurse infants with toddlers hanging off their hips). I have mom friends that never nursed at all and one acquaintance that is trying to wean her four year old. And everything in between. And it's all good and fine. Why? Because it's a personal decision - one that rests with you and your baby. I learned the hard way the second time around that while nursing may be smooth sailing with one child, it can be like walking across hot coals with the next. And vice versa. It may be the most natural thing in the world but it is definitely NOT the easiest.

I could not care less what people think of me breastfeeding in public. Personally, it never worked well for me because my kids required complete and total silence to stay focused, but I did it on occasion when necessary, including on a plane, on a train, in a restaurant, and on a park bench in New York City. Has anyone said anything to me? Never. Have they shot me weird/uncomfortable looks? Yes. Do I secretly enjoy causing discomfort to the ignoramuses of the world? Yes. Does it change how I feel about nursing in terms of when/where/how long it is acceptable? No. Because it is STILL a personal decision that every mother must tackle with every individual child.

I'll participate in Breast Fest because I am pro-breast feeding. IF it works for Mom AND Baby. But I won't become a Lactivist because part of making it work for mom and baby is being able to stick your mental middle finger up at every idiot that has a problem with breastfeeding in public. But as far as I'm concerned, no more whining about the injustices against moms who breastfeed in public. If you want to do it, do it. And get ready to defend yourself in case you happen to end up sitting next to Barbara Walters on a flight. But chances are, she won't have the guts to complain about it to your face anyway. If you're not comfortable with it, then don't do it - you can plan ahead, pump, or supplement with formula. But there's no "right" to "fight" for here. You already have the right. Whether you want to exercise it or not is up to you.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Cade and Drew Isms

This one's for the grandparents. A summary of funny things the boys have said this week:

Drew: "Mommy! I can't open the gape!" (gate)

Drew: "Mommy! Your shirt is wipe!" (white). See a pattern here????

While playing trains on the floor:
Cade: "Drew! I'm driving the train to Bubbe's house."
Drew: "Okay! I will pick up Goopy there, OK?"

Aaron: "Bye, Drewbie, Daddy's leaving for school. Can I kiss you goodbye?"
Drew: "Yeah. Can you kiss Ninny goodbye too?" (Ninny is our babysitter)

While reading Where the Wild Things Are:
Drew: "Is Max in time out?"
Drew: "There's the Mommy Monster!" (pointing to a wild thing with a haircut startlingly similar to mine)

Cade: "I need a new DustBuster, I think". (as if 6 of them isn't enough...)

Drew Guards the Queen

Since birth, Drew has always been a lovey-dovey, snuggly little guy and a total Mama's Boy. So much that until he was about 4 months old, he would not allow Aaron to hold or soothe him. It actually affected poor Aaron so much that I swear I was already picturing us in family therapy 10 years down the line trying to restore the damage to the father-son relationship that was inflicted during infancy. Fortunately, he outgrew it and now he is now definitely a fan of Dad. But the Mama's Boy streak has not gone away. Little Drewbie has always been slow to warm up to strangers and preschool has been no exception.

This year he is attending school for two mornings a week at the same school as Cade. For the month of September, the two year old class only comes for two hours each morning, giving them a chance to ease into the school schedule. Presumably, by the end of September, they will all be sufficiently warmed up to the idea of being left by mom for extended periods of time and they will be allowed to stay the full three hours.

For these first several weeks of school, Drew would be fine until I pulled into the school parking lot and then the little lip would pull out and the big puppy dog eyes would fill with tears. Honestly, the silent glances of resigned betrayal in my general direction were far more agonizing that it would have been if the teachers had removed him kicking and screaming from the car. It was rough.

The teachers kindly informed me that Drew could "guard the queen" as he spent the first three weeks of school standing next to the door of the classroom for the entire morning and refusing to participate in anything, including snacktime - normally his favorite activity. Naturally, this information was just what I needed to assuage my guilt about leaving my Baby Boy at school. Additionally, they asked me to please be first in carpool line because he became extremely upset when other children left before him. Super.

As the end of September approached, each day I anxiously awaited the news that Drew was warming up to school and finally, it came. In the fourth week, Drew's teacher informed me that he "didn't want to admit it but he was having fun". Meaning that he would play happily until he caught a teacher looking at him, and then out would come the lip and the puppy dog eyes.

By the next week of school, he graduated to staying the full three hours along with everyone else and he happily jumps out of the car in the morning and climbs back in at lunchtime with a smile on his face. Both Mommy and Drewbie have survived the first test of separation.

Now we are on to our next two assignments - the church nursery and the childcare center at the YMCA (where Drew goes while Mommy works out). Last week the church nursery worker informed me that Drew "didn't want to play and insisted on standing next to the door the entire time." Here we go again...

Homeschooling Pays Off At Last!

Today in the parking garage at the Children's Museum, Cade noted that we were parked on level C, "same as my name starts with". Plus he let Daddy do workbook with him yesterday. Woohoo!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Drew Who?

Coming soon - more info on Drew!

I just realized that in true second child fashion, poor Drew even gets the short end of the stick with the blog. The last several posts have been about Cade - stay tuned for news about Drew next time!

Cade's Quirky Home School Education

A few weeks ago my mom, who works at a school for children with communication and learning differences, forwarded me an article on "quirky" kids - that is to say, kids that might be called "difficult" by some due to their unique learning styles. I loved it because the article described Cade (the Toddler Previously Described as Weird) to a tee. It helped me see his learning style in a whole new light and made me realize that I probably have a big job ahead of me as his educational advocate. He is bright and eager to learn, but responds best to unconventional methods of teaching.

Case in point:
True to my promise to Aaron, the boys and I are "working together" on assorted pre-school learning topics on the mornings that I have alone with each of them while the other is in school. In fact, Cade enjoys this time together so much that he asks to "do workbook" the minute Aaron and Drew leave the driveway and informed Aaron this weekend that "only Mommy can do workbook with me".

At the School of Cara, we follow the curriculum outlined by our preschool because Mommy is not a teacher - she is just trying to shut Daddy up. A significant part of the official curriculum for the 2 year class is "being away from your mommy", which Drew mastered during the month of September, leaving us free to spend the remainder of the semester wandering TJ Maxx and drinking Starbucks on our mornings off.

Cade's education has taken a different turn. I committed to work with him on counting and phonics, so this semester's course material includes three textbooks:

  • "Counting Bears", purchased half-price at Target during Back to School Week. Comes with actual counting bears to facilitate the learning process!
  • "Letters". Offers lessons on letter recognition, handwriting and phonics.
  • "Super Sticker Lessons" - a huge sticker book with various sections on letters, numbers, opposites, colors, shapes, big/small, etc.

Of particular interested to Cade is the insect section of the sticker book. He has a major fascination with beetles and as it turns out, did you know that there are MANY, MANY species of beetles, each more sickening than the next. I will be glad when the beetle unit is over. As of the end of September, Cade can name all 5,000 species of beetles and write the letter "C" backwards. In lower AND upper case!

As those of you that live in Georgia know, the schools here are notoriously bad. Aaron likes to refer to our local elementary as "the school that leaves every child behind". This prompts most parents to either move to the one good school district in the state, fork out an amount equivalent to their retirement fund to send their kids to private school, or home school.

An article in this weekend's paper about the very minimal home schooling requirements in Georgia prompted me to wonder if, in fact, I COULD home school Cade. Under my tutelage, he could conceivably graduate from high school an illiterate entomologist and and probably still be ahead of 99% of his peers in the public school system. And Aaron worries that they are not academically advanced enough....