Saturday, December 27, 2008

Noodle Attempts to Communicate with Aliens

This afternoon, Noodle carefully took my finger, stuck it into her mouth, and bit down. HARD. So, for future reference, if this kid is all snuggly with you, and tries to take your finger, I'd advise you to maintain possession.

She's been quirky lately. Mostly this takes the form of waking up very early (say, 5:30 am on Christmas) and yelling for comfort. I fetch her, bring her to bed with me, try to help her fall back to sleep, and instead she wants to practice. Primarily her newly learned baby signs and her words. This morning, in pitch dark, she demonstrated the sign for 'help' (too complicated to explain succinctly) and says, "Hep!" Then "baby" (as if rocking a baby in her arms). Then Daddy. The sign for Daddy is to take your outspread hand and gently touch your thumb to your forehead. (It looks like a sign made up by someone making fun of people doing baby signs.) Noodle does the sign for Daddy by rubbing her hand on top of her head. Luckily she combines this with the word, "Daddy," which is kind of a tip off for the uninitiated.

Other fun things include insisting that she's hungry (she uses the sound 'Na-na') and then refusing to eat. I'm starting to suspect that she wants a pictorial menu so she can point to her selection for this meal. Instead I resort to sitting next to her and running down today's specials: "Would you like some oatmeal?" "Veggie sausages?" "A cookie?" (The answer to the last is always yes.)

Today she ate all her blueberries and then asked for more. She cleared out all the blueberries on my plate. Then on Grandma's plate, including the one Nuala could see but Grandma couldn't, by yelling, "Mo!" until we cleared up the matter. Then Daddy's plate and the fruit salad bowl. She kept insisting there were more blueberries in the house until we tipped the bowl for her to examine. "All gone!" We told her firmly. She finally accepts this with the word: "Ahk On." Which was the incomprehensible word she was practicing at 5:30 on Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Today was lovely. Four and a half is evidently the perfect age to celebrate Christmas. Q was thrilled because, "Santa Did come to our house!" (Never mind that Santa fills his stocking with toothpaste and office supplies.) He said lovely things like, "That's just what I wanted!" and "I think I should wear that (butterfly wings) for several days." He managed to almost not get overwhelmed and stay barely within calm when he really was desperate to open some presents.

Once rewarded with a present, he usually played with it, which is a happy moment on Christmas, in my opinion. Here you see him reading with Daddy right after opening a present...

Then wanting to be read to instead of eating brunch...

And now giving up on us to go read on his own...

Noodle had no problem with eating over presents:

But the umbrella was such a big hit we had to remove it so no one would get injured.

And me? I really felt the joy in creating a magical moment in my children's lives. It was a really lovely, quiet day and we were all together. Couldn't have asked for a better Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quick additions

Q is now sick. Fa la la la la la la la la.

Sitting on our bed this morning, he made one of his typical statements: "When Noodle is twenty, I'll be twenty-three."

What was somewhat surprising, was that usually he states that as a question: "When Noodle is twenty, how old will I be?"

J and I exchange looks.

J asks him, "Hey Q, when you are twenty, how old will Noodle be?"

A pause. "Seventeen."

My eyes bug out.

He then goes on to recite one of his current favorite books in his favored current style: operetta.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


We got our first snowfall of the year last week.

And over the weekend Noodle was smitten with her first ever gastro-intestinal bug. I had forgotten how absolutely disastrous these are for toddlers. Diapers are no match. Our usually cheerful Noodle is miserable: cranky and exhausted. After her much needed naps, she rouses in a beautiful and cuddly mood. And if you are really unlucky, you cuddle her at the wrong moment and find yourself requiring decontamination even as you attempt to comfort and cleanse the little one.

It's been fun.

We've been trying to prepare for what could be the first Annual Cookie Decorating Party. I was planning to spend last weekend scouring and reorganizing my kitchen in preparation. However, since I also had the GI bug (mine was done within 24 hours, toddlers have trouble shaking these things), well, I barely managed to do the usual seven loads of laundry. There are still baskets to be put away.

The good news for my dignity and my desire to have a relatively clean house for the invasion of 9 preschoolers and their siblings, is that a) my standards are pretty low and b) I have Friday off to clean too. The overall bad news is that if Q gets sick, or if Noodle doesn't get better, the whole ACDP will have to at least be delayed, if not cancelled.

I dread the look on Q's face if this happens. He's been counting the days on his Advent Calendar and the 20th is clearly embedded in his head. Oh for the easy days when he couldn't foresee more than a day ahead...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hard Lessons and Consequences

Sad tonight.

Q loves scissors. He’s just reached the point where his fine motor skills make it possible to cut shapes, however clumsily. He got to use his scissors yesterday and came up with some excuse to use them today.

We were having a low key day and Noodle was napping, so I didn’t pay much attention. I determined that he did not want to learn how to make snowflakes, left him with the paper and his scissors and went about my own business.

Sometime during the afternoon, he took the scissors to a couple of books. Not severely. Luckily, each time it was to the final pages of a book, and fairly easily repaired with tape. However one of those books was a library book, much to my horror.

To add to the incident, Q then claimed he didn’t know what had happened.

Initially I thought perhaps Noodle had an opportunity to do the cutting, but taking a look at the damage, we realized only deft little fingers could have accomplished the work.

So the consequences: scissors are off limits for a while. (Undetermined, but my guess is that there won’t be unsupervised cutting for a few months.) And for the lying, which we gave him a few chances to back out of, down to the point of reminding him of a story he knows about someone lying, well the consequences for lying was that there was no booktime for Q.

Salt to the wound was that something got in his eyes right before bathtime (which he was hoping to avoid anyways). So he was sobbing over multiple indignities (beads removed from his custody, the eye pain, the bath issue, the scrubbing of his body) and then the news of no booktime kind of finished off the night with screaming sobs.

It might have been a mercy, actually. He fell asleep so fast that the crying might have helped him push through exhaustion into sleep.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Musical Babies and Miscellaneous Catch Up

He needed help to get back out. Flashback for me to when he was two and got upset when we started to remove it from the house. Back then he didn't want to use it, but it was his and he wanted it to stay.

Have I mentioned that Noodle knows that musical notation is for music? Keep in mind she's, what 18 months? Yesterday I caught her looking at a copy of 'The Night Before Christmas'. This particular edition has the words and music for both "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" on the back pages. Squatting on her haunches, the book spread open on the floor in front of her, Noodle hums a recognizable tune: A-B-C-D-E-F-G....

Often Q will sing to Noodle after we put the kids to bed, especially if Noodle is fussing. The other night we had the unusual circumstance of Q being inconsolable at bedtime (I refused to let him take a rope to bed with him). Over the intercom I could hear him wailing away. Faintly there came another sound: Noodle trying to sing to him.

Wednesday there is no preschool, so both kids have class at the Community Music School. They have both taken classes pretty consistently there since they were babies. Obviously, in Noodle's case, it hasn't been that long. The classes for babies and toddlers remind me of the story times I used to do for the same age: very chaotic, fun, and fast moving since no one has an attention span of more than a few minutes. It's a blast to watch and the kids get a kick out of it. Q being a Boy of Structure, really thrives in classes. The last few weeks he's had to go as a big brother along to Noodle's class (adults required), immediately followed by his own class (solo class). He stays focused and involved the whole time. It's kind of amazing and delightful.

Picking the kids up from Grandma's the other day, I was dawdling. Hearing a musical piece I asked Q, "Is that a flute?" (I thought it was an easy question.) "No." He says this confidently. Hardly worth answering. It was, after all, an easy question. "Is it a piccolo?" "Yes." I look at Grandma (the musician) for confirmation. Quiet nod from her. Well then.

Picking up on an opportunity to use positive peer pressure, two weeks before Thanksgiving, we signed Q up for gymnastics. I scoped the place out beforehand, catching a class in session. As we watch, Q whispers something to me. I bend down. "Can I try it, Mom?" He is, unsurprisingly, loving it. The unintended consequence is that he is bouncier than before.

Below is a photo of Noodle with my friend's son (13 months, several pounds heavier than Noodle) on Thanksgiving. Both needed naps, but didn't fall asleep till we were nearly home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Logic for Toddlers

A few months ago we bought some 'Annie's Cinnamon Bunnies'. These are small cookies in the shape of, well, yes, bunnies. Cinnamon flavored. To amuse myself, and Noodle, I moved one in a bouncing pattern, saying, "Hop, hop, hop."

Noodle was delighted and learned the word 'hop'. One of the few vocabulary words that she has bothered to retain after learning. She even bounced her bunny cookie as she said it.

So we returned to conventional animal cookies a few weeks later. Noodle caught my eye and held up her animal. I couldn't identify it. (Low quality animal crackers are a little identity challenged, and they don't taste as good.) She bounced it up and down and grinned at me. "Hop, hop, hop." I found this pretty funny and no doubt egged it on.

Now we have the next logical step.

Q and I made chocolate chip cookies on Saturday. This evening, Noodle got one after dinner. She holds it up and catches my eye. "Hop, hop, hop!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Parenting Pop Quiz

Today, in a largely futile attempt to give Noodle a longer nap, I went to the mall with a friend. Noodle, of course, woke up as we left her driveway. Thirty minutes tops. (sigh)

In any case, Q loved the idea because the mall is filled with machines. Shortly after we arrived, he politely asks, "Do you think there's a room that can fit two strollers to bring us up to the other floor?" Evidently he'd forgotten the word 'Elevator'. So we found him an elevator, and four separate reasons to use it.

After our usual twenty minute potty break in the family bathrooms (thank you to the god of malls for that invention), we decide a snack is in order. The Starbucks is located in a sunken area, so we proceed with the strollers towards snack heaven. And then I spot him.


I balked, terror on my face. We haven't discussed Santa much. Q is totally into the concept of Santa. Totally into the idea of Santa coming on Christmas. But we just had a geography lesson yesterday on where Santa lives (Q thought he lived in New York City, which really does seem reasonable), so why would Santa be in a mall?

My friend Cynthia does not realize the extent or reason of my panic. Her only child is Noodle's age. She has yet to navigate this minefield.

So I plunge ahead into the pop quiz. Carpe diem. We stroller down to the Starbucks area, right past where one of the best looking Santas I've ever seen is discussing Christmas with children, monitored by bored photographers.

As we get into line, Q says, in his secretive voice, the one used for special and wonderful things, "Hey, there's a man dressed like Santa over there."

We went over to investigate after eating a snack. The area has a Polar Express theme, but it's not that magical, in my opinion. Q is intrigued by the fake snow on the floor and wants a closer look. But he is absolutely certain that it's not Santa. It's just not. I don't know how he knows.

Here Noodle attempts to sit in Q's lap. She wants him to read to her. I found her trust that he could read to her very endearing. He found it mildly annoying, although also amusing.

Q insisted that we should go outside so I could take photos of them in their winter jackets. Although it was only mildly chilly, I popped them into their coats to see if the hand-me-downs fit. Today Q managed to get into Noodle's jacket, so I guess there might be more room than there appears to be.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ridiculously Sweet

Noodle's singing seems to manifest consistently on stairs. J thinks it might be an attempt at 'The Syncopated Clock', which I don't recall. All I come up with is 'Grandfather's Clock', which also might work.

After bedtime last night, I heard her chirping away at her little song, followed by Q singing her lullabies.

His devotion is well paid.

Yesterday she climbed up on the couch, then elaborately tried to climb into his lap for him to read to her. He wasn't sure how to take this, since she was preventing him from looking at his book.

Recently (this past week, actually) Noodle has started allowing me to hold her hand without arguing. (The explanation that if she doesn't hold my hand she'll be carried actually seemed to make an impression.) Today, walking over rough ground, she even asked me to hold her hand, which surprised me. But when Q got close enough, she switched allegiances and begged him to hold her hand. It took a little tutoring to explain how to hold the hand of someone smaller, but we sorted it out. As they set out, she looked up at him with pure delighted adoration.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm splashing you!

Despite some reluctance to wear his costume to humor me for demonstrating that it fit or for the benefit of his father, who wasn't able to attend either trick or treating or the school parade, Q not only wore his costume, but enjoyed pretending he could splash with his trunk. He was a bit hit. And everyone asked if I made the costume. No. It was a gift to me so that I didn't spend days or weeks attempting to create an elephant costume only to have the neighbors ask what he was. And, for the record, elephant was his own idea.

Noodle was her usual happy go lucky self, oblivious of her costume. She got into carrying her own bag and refused to ride in the wagon more than twice and melted down hard once (she wanted to see Jake, her favorite dog on the street, whose owners were politely containing him).

Q really enjoyed handing candy out to the trick or treaters and was allowed to stay up till 8:30 to help. Noodle was unsuccessfully launched into bedtime and had to be rediapered, brought downstairs to help with trick or treaters, and sung to before attempting the second launching. She was out cold by the time I brought up the exhausted Q.

Miraculously, I think I kept the candy consumption down to 2 'fun' size portions for Q and one for Noodle. If only I had the same discipline for myself.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Long Day in New London

On I-95 this evening, Q repeated his newest trick- identifying the word 'GAS' on a highway sign. I was thrilled. He did it again. I praised him highly. Then he tried it with a sign without 'GAS' on it. Can't blame him for trying.

Noodle, who just said the word, "go" for the first time yesterday, launched into a clear two word phrase for me: "dog go" to refer to the book, "Go dog go" which she wanted me to read. Speaking of thrilled. I immediately rewarded that request. Earlier in the morning she had even come out with animal noises for a rooster and a duck, which I'd never heard before. She did not want to repeat the feat at bedtime. Animal noises are hard. You need a good night's sleep to do them justice.

Noodle, Q and I drove up to New London so J could show off the kids, oh, and to furnish him with his contact lenses. But because of the odd schedules of little kids, we ended up arriving about 3 hours before it was actually possible to see J. So we walked with the stroller to check out the docks, the train station, a coffee shop for dinner makings (ie. muffins, a little stale). Then, after discovering that the train station bathrooms were only open to those with train tickets, we rushed back to the car, and drove to Waterford where there is a Target, complete with flushing toilets. We returned to the theatre, and discovered we still were half an hour early. So we walked to the train station again, this time with Noodle on foot- several long blocks. She attempted to throw a tantrum over having to hold my hand, then, weirdly, conceded the point. On the way back, she started a happy little burbly song, which she revived for J's benefit as she climbed the stairs in the theatre. The words consist of 'da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da'. I think someone misses her daddy...

Both kids simply stood still and stared in amazement at the bagpiper from the play. It is an impressive noise. We stayed to watch J and a handful of actors rehearse a fight scene involving a lot of swords and dying. I kept whispering that it was pretend, but I'm not sure what Q would've thought. He was delighted by getting to check out the sword J had been using.

When we finally got home, Q tells me, "When the trick-or-treaters come," (dramatic pause), "we'll tell them we have a fire engine."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Indian Summer

One of Grandma Sue's friends offered us the use of their beach this week. We've had spectacular weather for October, cool nights followed by deliciously warm days. We lucked out again today with weather was in the low 70s, so Grandma Sue and I took advantage of the offer to bring the kids to the beach for a picnic.

The beach is Simply Gorgeous. Clean, small and lined by rocks and train tracks. An excellent diversion for a four year old.

We saw the "acela" approximately four times. There is something very suspicious about the frequency. Not to mention that the speed wasn't what you'd imagine for a train that only stops at major train hubs.

One edge of the cove is lined with pretty little summer cottages that made me regret my misspent youth. I don't even like the beach.

As my father would say, I could get used to it.

The kids had an absolute blast. Noodle played chicken with the waves, giggling hysterically when she got caught.

Q buried his cherry picker in the sand. Sue and I spent about 20 minutes looking for it as we herded the kids back and forth on the beach. Quinn asked us where it was and we replied, "We think you buried it, but we don't know where." He chirps, "Here it is," and pulls it out of the sand right by the lawn chairs.

There were scavenging seagulls, of course. I'd forgotten how ambitious they get. One attempted to drag away Q's metal lunch box, filled with trucks. Q was thrilled to be directed to chase the gulls- laughing as he scampered after the unintimidated birds.

At 3:30 we got on the road, a shell shocked vision of sticky, exhaustion strapped in the back seat.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Belly BUTT!on

Noodle was obsessed with bellybuttons today. Yesterday, or sometime recently, I was teasing her about her belly button, and she was repeating the word she knows "butt" (she uses it for real buttons) and then after I showed her mine, she kept coming back for more.

Today I paid for it. "BUTT!" she demands at the playground. The temperature is getting cold. "BUTT!" My tummy isn't fat, but, well, when I pull up my shirt, and my bellybutton is kind of in a roll of chub over my jeans. "BUTT!" She is finally satisfied. Or will be once I lower my tummy so she can stick her finger in it.

Two minutes later, I have my shirt tucked back in and am struggling to regain my dignity. "BUT!" Noodle toddles back over to me. I attempt to distract her. Looking around, I see another child who is not wearing too many layers to prevent baring stomach skin.

"Look! There's Joanna! Ask to see her belly button."

Noodle obligingly lurches over to Joanna. "BUTT!"

Joanna looks confused. Joanna is two. I explain, "She wants to see your bellybutton."


Joanna is very obliging, actually, and concedes to pulling up her soccer t-shirt to show off her belly button.

Noodle pounces, trying to stick her finger in the button.

Joanna drops the shirt and bolts up the playscape. There are advantages to being even a slightly older toddler.

Noodle returns to me. "BUTT!"

I now have a practical reason to wear cropped shirts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brace Yourself

It is the end of an era. Noodle learned to say "No" last week.
She emphasizes it with a shake of her head that pulls her entire little body into a drunken sway. "Nuh."

The kids are both launched into nice phases at the moment. Noodle has a fleet of words that pop out only at her discretion. "Horse" for example. I had decided that I had imagined that she'd ever said it. But Saturday we went to a (free) show at the Essex Train Station featuring Lomax the Melody Hound Dog (read: puppet), which is a new show on PBS. A mule appeared in the show and Noodle chimed right in with a "Huss."

My favorite new word is "Backpack," which she says as she steals Q's backpack, turning for the door and waving, "Byyyeee!" Another new word, perhaps her favorite.

Also this week, Q started drawing stick figures. With faces. And, you know, limbs. Six months ago I wouldn't have said he could draw anything representational. Three months ago I saw him draw a rocket, which promptly was scribbled over because the rocket was moving. I don't see anything for months and now he can draw people? What is this preschool teaching him?

(Q's Quarry on Formal Friday)

He's also fascinated again with what letters/sounds start words. After putting the kids to bed tonight, I heard the normal chattering between the kids for a while, then a "MOM! MOM! DAD STARTS WITH A "D"!" Yes. Yes it does. And I'm excited that you're excited. But could you maybe keep it down so you don't wake up your sister? "DAD STARTS WITH A "D"!"

The kids are sharing bedtime beautifully most nights. I think they love having company as they fall asleep.

Sunday night I heard Noodle chirping away to herself for about an hour after Q fell quiet. Then the screaming started. She's teething. Again. I gave up and brought her downstairs so she wouldn't wake Q. Any more than she had. She stayed awake till ten. Both kids were, well, difficult the next day.

I think one aspect of their relationship that J and I are most amazed by is how much they like each other. Q is ridiculously sweet to her, not just to suck up to the grown ups. When he leaves the room in the morning, leaving Noodle trapped in her crib, she starts to wail. He pauses, "I'll be right back Noodle, I just have to use the potty."

(note the boots)

For anyone concerned, the odd, migrating rash turned out to be hives. Evidently when you get a virus (as Q had the week previous) it sometimes can result in hives which appear, disappear, reappear. I haven't seen any in the past 48 hours, so I think he's done with it.

Also, to update you on the cleaning the bathroom daily crusade, I have, you won't believe this, cleaned the bathroom every day except for two. I can't believe it myself. It's addictive. Not the cleaning, mind you, but the clean bathroom. I'm really looking forward to the end of the bathroom renovation downstairs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unintended Consequences of Cleaning

I'm still on my personal challenge to clean the bathroom daily. But I've noticed a few things. First, the chemicals I use to clean this bathroom are kind of nasty. They're burning the skin off of my hands (yes, I should use gloves) and are pretty harsh on the lungs. So I've backed off on leaving the tub to soak in chemical juice for hours to bleach it clean. At least not every night. Just sometimes. I'm also watering the stuff down for use on the sink and toilet. Nothing fancy, just not spraying so much of it, and using a wet washcloth to apply it.

I've noticed that I like having a clean bathroom. It is easier to clean. Although it's surprising the amount of dust that arises in 24 hours.

But a more disturbing thing is going on. Ever since I started this effort in cleaning, Q has developed a migrating, disappearing, reappearing rash. I think it's simply coincidence, not causation, but since I cannot figure out what is going on, I'm leaving it as a possibility: Q may be allergic to clean.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Returning to Normal

We're home. We have a computer, although not much of the data that formerly resided on it. We were resuming our regular, albeit new, routine for preschool, work, and music classes. And now, to throw a bit of excitement into our not very organized lives, J has been cast in another play, MacBeth this time, which is terrific since people have heard of it. He will be playing the Doctor (who knew?) and Murderer No. 3. I'm thinking perhaps Q does not need to see this one either...

Because our life will evidently not be busy enough, I'm trying out a new challenge.

I'm not unusual when I say that I hate cleaning. Who doesn't? Well, in the The New York Times I read about a recently married couple (Tess Taylor and Taylor Schreiner, there's no mention of the odd name combination, I hope he takes hers), who are described in a lovely piece about their romance and wedding. I quote, "They boiled water to wash dishes, discovering that they share an affinity for chores." That makes more sense in context, but my point is that they evidently like chores. That's just wrong. No one likes chores unless they don't have to do them. If there is a mutant gene that has created someone who likes housework, it is unfair of the universe to pair them up with the one lone other person who also likes housework. Spread that kind of goodness around some.

Back to my challenge.

I was cleaning the toilet yesterday and I got this idea. What if I cleaned the bathroom every single day?

Anyone who has ever been to my house has become aware of how much I loathe cleaning. Cleaning makes me mean. Even after I clean the house still feels unclean to me. If anyone ever said of my home the lovely adage, "It was untidy, but clean" I would weep with pleasure.

So why does this masochistic idea appeal to me?

When Q was a toddler, he took an aversion to bath time. He would scream and tantrum if we tried to wash him. Our solution was to integrate bath time into our daily bed time ritual, rather than every two or three days, figuring that familiarity would take the edge off his hatred. Now he reserves screaming to nights when we wash his hair.

If I clean the bathroom every single day, maybe I won't hate cleaning so much. It'll go faster, in theory, because the dirt will have had less time to accumulate. I recall at summer camp, we had daily chores, including cleaning the bathroom, and the grime simply never got as bad because we kept it under control on a daily basis.

I'm on day two of the cleaning every day challenge. I have cleaned the sink, the toilet, the floor. I'll spray the tub down after Q is done with his bath and then rinse it when I go to bed. (I hate scrubbing the tub and feel it makes far less impact than the chemicals do, so this also is my attempt to see if repeat application of tub cleaner might take off that semi-permanent layer of grime.)

If this works to reduce my cleaning stress and actually improve cleanliness, I'll consider what implications this has for the rest of my life. I mean, could I clean the kitchen floor every day? Could I vacuum every day?

And now for gratuitous cute photos of the kids:

Q and Excavator. I'm not sure if it's possible to see in this particular photo, but he's sitting on the edge of his construction site, which looks like a miniature rock quarry.

Noodle had been wandering around the kitchen repeating, "hot, hot, hot," which is Noodle speak for "I'm hungry, would you feed me already?" She tried to hint further by getting into her eating chair. But the eating chair had the tray attached, and you can see what the result was. Obviously she wasn't too distressed. This is fairly typical of the lass.

And here you can see that progress is being made on the bathroom. J is giving Q a tour of the developments. Actually, Q is saying things like, "I see you put up a new shelf." Very Seriously. Noodle is exhausted and just wants to sit in Daddy's lap.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dear Mr. Sendak,

I read a lovely article about you in the NY Times this week. I would like to say Happy Birthday. But I would also like to say that I am a bit angry with you after reading the article. I hope that perhaps the article did not accurately portray your attitude towards your legacy. I know that sometimes a person can say something casually that is interpreted to heavily. But still.

I grew up reading your books. Or, perhaps more accurately, having them read to me. I know that 'Where the Wild Things Are' is not your favorite book. But it is one of mine. And now that I have a little boy of my own, there are layers to the book that I appreciate even more. My not-so-wolf-like boy even dressed up in a Max costume for his second Halloween.

When I was a bit older, I had your illustrated version of George MacDonald's 'The Light Princess,' on my bookshelf. Even before I could read, I would browse the pictures. I was very disappointed because the baby was so very homely. I felt the same way with 'Outside Over There'. I mean, it's a *baby* for pete's sake. Why do it have to look so troll like?

Then I had my second child. And perhaps, perhaps just because of you and your illustrations, when I saw how funny and homely she was, I could laugh and rejoice rather than wonder what mash of genes this poor child was cursed with to look so much like a troll. I could tell people with a smile, "She looks like a Sendak baby." And perhaps just because of this, she has a mischievious smile herself.

You want to leave a legacy like Keats? Mr. Sendak, I have to say that I was an English literature major and I was no academic flop, but all I can recall of Keats is something about a vase and beauty.

You? You influence my daily thoughts and references. I will never forget you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sinister Issues

I should say simply, technical difficulties. Specifically, our hard drive went down last week. Went down with a vengeance it would seem. And we, being naive slackers, well, we've never backed it up. Ever. So in addition to simply having an issue with hardware, there is now the significant likelihood that we have just lost nearly 2.5 years of photos, writing, and music (I admit, only J cares about the music, but I think he's not that moved by my loss of writing drafts). Sorry Mom. No photo update of the kids for you.

I admit that I would feel totally justified in abandoning our home and camping out in my mil's home until the situation can be rectified and my computer induced depression has eased off. But truthfully, this was the week we had already agreed to move in with her so that J could work on the downstairs bathroom renovation without fear of Q giving himself a home study course on power tools. Not to mention that Noodle has no fear of climbing anything, especially if Q has ever climbed it in her presence. Ladders, insulation, power tools, if it needs to be left unguarded for more than 30 seconds, it's better to remove the kids from the house entirely.

Staying at Grandma's house has been very educational for me. I have come to realize that two kids can wreck havoc on any home, no matter how beautifully managed, organized, styled, clean. It's their persistence that really makes a difference. If they're only here for a day, the house is restored, almost magically, by the next time I visit. If they're here for a week, all the things that drive me crazy start to emerge here too. Unnecessary kitchen utensils wander into the living room. Construction vehicles, some shedding parts, trip and gouge the unsuspecting bare feet. Food emerges in the toddler's hand, and I recognize it as food, but I have no recollection of having fed her that particular food in the past 12 hours.

While I am reassured that Grandma's house isn't quite as fabulous when the children keep coming back, I am thoroughly enjoying our mini-vacation in her home. Why is it a mini-vacation? Because of Grandma. Grandma is great at distracting one child while I deal with the other. Grandma is great at lending a hand with bedtime. Grandma thinks of meals and cooks them. Most lovely of all, Grandma is excellent company for me. More and more I'm realizing how little time J and I coparent. Mostly we toss the children like batons in a relay race, checking in with each other regularly, but not often able to give support during the long stretches that are the hallmark of parenting.

I am going to have to be drug from Grandma's house.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The End of Summer Vacation

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Lucky is when the cottage rental you trustingly made via the internet with no way to verify its actual existence, actually exists.

Complete with a dock for peering at fish.

Lucky is getting not just one, but two, parking tickets, in separate cities, and the total fee is $15.

Lucky is when the one week you take a vacation has the best weather of the whole summer.

And nobody gets a sunburn.

Lucky is returning back to your rental before the overturned lamp actually catches the now scorched rug on fire.

Lucky is having other adults around when your son declares, "It's all right, my penis is lower than the blueberries," as he pees on a bush.

Lucky is when you realize that spending time together as a family actually makes you want to spend more time together as a family.

Lucky is listening to your toddler murmuring, "Happy happy happy," as her father carries her home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Past week

Last week we got notice that the town was going to repave the road next to our house, the school parking lot (next door) and the primary street we use to access our street. This might sound annoying, or banal, but please keep in mind, we have a truck obsessed preschool boy in our household.

For the past week, we have had the privilege of watching a diverse quantity of trucks parade past our house, multiple times each day. Street sweeper, asphalt cutter, many dump trucks, excavator, tank truck (with water), asphalt spreader, grader, I'm losing track. And below, you can see what Q has been doing all day long.

The poor kid. At breakfast, he'll sit down to eat, and a truck will go by. He runs to the door, watches for a while, returns to the table, takes one bite, and a truck will go by! It is the height of preschool distraction.

The road looks lovely. We're hoping the repaving doesn't send draining water straight into our parking spots.

On other fronts:

Q wants to hear Stellaluna again and again. (A book about a bat raised by birds.)

Noodle is practicing for her future as a bat-head-eating rock star.

She had her 15 month check up yesterday. She's doing great. She is still not quite 20 lbs. Although if I'd given her free rein with the blueberries yesterday, I'm sure she would be. She's 19 lbs, 15.5 oz. (Half an oz shy of 20, if you're weak on English weights.) Which puts her back down in the 10th percentile, which is absolutely fine, I am told. There have to be some babies in this percentile, after all. And we're lucky we got a healthy baby there.

Excuse me, toddler.

We're off for New Hampshire today. It's probably just as well that she's no bigger than she is, since we may lug her on our backs much of this week. I want to be a slacker mom and not worry about packing every item that my children could conceivably want this week. Yesterday, for example, we went blueberry picking and I didn't even pack the girl a diaper. I know how to live on the edge.

I am not intrepid about travel. It's not part of my personality. However, as a concession to the car's limited space, this time I'm pushing the envelope: I'm only bringing two pairs of shoes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lactose Results and Nature Knocking

So, as I understand it, you breathe into a tube and a machine measures something.

If you score 10 or higher, you are lactose intolerant.
If you score 5 or lower, you are lactose tolerant.

I scored a 0.

We did the test twice since the result seemed, well, negligible?

I think I am one of the lucky few who have an actual obligation to eat ice cream.


We're being skulked by a skunk.

We'll be sitting in the den and suddenly I'll run over to the window and peer out, trying to spot her.

J asks, "Honey, what exactly do you think you're doing?"

They're so fearless and beautiful. I'm not stupid enough to mess with her. I just want a glimpse of her as she wanders through our yard, leaving a trail of musk so distinctive that it may beat out cut grass for the true smell of summer.

I haven't seen her yet, but I know she's out there. A smell that strong can't hide forever.

Several times lately we've heard a screech owl.

A mature screech owl is a dignified and haunting call. If you're curious, listen to the whinny sound on this site: "The Owl Foundation".

A few years ago, we were guests at my mother-in-law's house. At 2 am I woke to sounds from a horror movie. I was absolutely convinced that the neighbors had puppies that were being eaten alive. If you want to hear something similar to what I was awoken by, listen to the 'nestling food cry.'

Hopefully the sound of the adult I heard does not precede being woken by the second later this summer. They'd be done with nesting by now, right? right?

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Camel Discusses Straw...

Even when J is working and it's just the three of us, I like us to eat together. So I make dinner. I set it on the table for Q and myself. I load Noodle's high chair tray and lock her in place.

I call Q to eat dinner. We sit down. For less than a minute.

Q has to use the potty. He goes potty. For twenty minutes.

Noodle and I eat.

Q comes out of the potty. He informs me that he wants to wear clean underwear and shorts. I say, "Please, just wear what you had on before."

Q leaves the room.

Q comes back and tells me he wants to sit on a towel instead of putting on his underwear and shorts. I say no.

Q melts down.

Noodle begins to wail because she wants down from her high chair.

I offer Q a compromise. He can go upstairs and get fresh clothes on if he can do it before a 5 minute timer goes off.

I repeat this offer because he cannot hear me through Noodle's screaming.

He accepts the offer and goes upstairs.

I take Noodle's tray into the kitchen and start wiping her off with a washcloth.

Q returns and asks me to help him put on his old underwear.

I help him get his underwear on.

I get his sister out of the high chair.

I sit down to drink a cup of tea.

Q sits down at the table in his old underwear.

Noodle wanders around.

Our cat Savannah walks over to Noodle and pukes a huge quantity of cat food onto the rug next to her.

Noodle screams in terror.

Q announces, "Mommy! Savannah puked!"

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summertime Blue

It's blueberry season here. Although I remember pulling blueberries off of bushes while walking in the woods as a child, I have no memory of deliberately going blueberry picking. In place of that memory, is the book Blueberries for Sal. Perhaps I never needed to go blueberry picking- Sal and Little Bear went for me.

We took the kids blueberry picking a few miles from home. These are not wild blueberries, mind you, but rows of bushes at a local apple orchard, grown under nets to protect them from the birds. You enter through a corner, getting tangled like Peter Rabbit in Mr. MacGregor's garden.

Noodle was thrilled. At first she kept squawking for more, but when she got heavy, we set her down on the ground and the real fun began. She realized that she could get to the berries directly and happily plunged into the picking, popping green and blue berries into her mouth indiscriminately. Mushed from the ground? She doesn't mind. I gave up any notion that I can control her at all.

I asked Q if he remembers Blueberries for Sal. No response. Ah, well.

Unlike Sal, we did not have pails to drop our blueberries in, "Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk." We had a large flat box. It was simplest to leave it in one location and bring a handful at a time. Q took over some of the relay action, a good chore for a child who has trouble differentiating between ripe and unripe until the berry is in his hand. Noodle spotted the motherlode, and dove in. The rest of the the trip was spent juggling the box and Noodle, if one was on the ground, the other one must not be.

The July afternoon sun baked us as we picked. We decided we've had enough after an hour of late afternoon sun. I offered Noodle a final blueberry. She was so tired she can barely open her mouth.

When we arrived home, Q asked in a small voice, as he climbed out of the car, "Mommy? Are we going to can our berries for the winter?"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Moments in July

Noodle has a new word, brought out by Local Grandma. After we sing Happy Birthday, Noodle will follow it with a soft breathy, "Happyhappyhappy."

While I was busy singing to her over dinner last night, Q excused himself to use the potty. Where he fell asleep, head forward to rest on a step stool in front of him. Sadly, I wasn't able to transition him into his bed from there...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And then there were two...

We've had a busy week with a visit from cousin C from FL and his daddy. In the midst of the visit, we decided it was a good idea to finally move Noodle's crib into Q's room. This is having some mixed results. On the down side, we cannot seem to get either kid into bed and asleep without waking the other one. On the up side, Q has been a little shining star of a big brother. He sings and talks to Noodle to calm her down. He may have gotten protective of his toys during the day time, but at night, he's delighted to share his room. As I type this, he's bellowing, "I've been working on the rail road! All the live long day!" To be honest, I'm not sure how either of them ever falls asleep.

Noodle seems thrilled to have company at night, although she flips out if she sees me putting Q to bed. Just now, when Q left to get a drink of water, she got very upset. The night he went potty twice was a little traumatic. And then I must also remember that she's taken to pooping after she's put to bed each night. The transition has bumped bedtime from 6:30 to 7:30, or sometimes 8:30...

There's a lot more walking going on for Noodle and she can now say several more words: house, horse (they sound the same and she might not say them spontaneously, but in context it's very exciting), Mama and a cat's meowing sound that is remarkably similar to Raleigh's meow (our large brown cat) although I would not have recognized it if she hadn't mewed back at him one morning.

She can also climb a step stool, I discovered this afternoon...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Vacation

With the start of summer vacation, I have finally figured out that I am not repeatedly getting sick. Or rather, not getting sick with a gastro-intestinal bug as was initially speculated by the ER back in May. No, you go a couple of weeks, and have the same issue (less severe) and then repeat that the next week (severe, but without the dehydration that required the ER), you start to figure out that something is wrong. What precisely is wrong, is up to speculation again, but something more serious than a 24 hour bug is working me over.

Lactose intolerance is a likely suspect. So I have given up dairy for the time being. I expect to wear black until next June.

Other possibilities are pretty much all so complicated and dire that they require a specialist. I'm scheduled for July 22. I figure if I get up to 10 lbs lost in two weeks, I'll call and ask for another appointment.

Q, while himself capable of patiently sitting still for nearly an hour at an intimate double bass concert, has been straining our patience levels lately. So we refreshed our time out skills and he's responded quickly. But the poor kid isn't sleeping that well, and he's out of his nice preschool structure, so it's not surprising that he's been having more tantrums and whining fits than usual.

Wednesday night, he woke up from a nightmare, but not quite. J lay down next to him in bed, but Q simply kept yelling "No!" and kicking his legs, refusing to open his eyes or be soothed. J picked him up and carried him downstairs, hoping the change of venue would wake him enough to shake off the bad dream. Halfway down, Q stops screaming, and says calmly, "I want some ice cream," cracking both of us up. J brought him outside and showed him a lone firefly on our lawn. All very well and good, but he still wanted some ice cream. Sorry buddy.

I think Q's problem is that right now Noodle is learning a lot of new skills at once. She's walking now. The furthest she's managed is across the living room, but she's made vast progress in just two weeks. She's also saying 'Hi!' to strangers, and grinning her funny gap toothed smile, which no one can resist. Or, also amusing to strangers, staring suspiciously at them. She peers seriously into books, cuddles, and gets into trouble constantly. She has simply hit that absolutely adorable toddler stage and requires a lot of attention. And rewards it.

Today she discovered the pacifier stash. Since she no longer constantly needs a pacifier, we've been stashing them near her crib for bedtimes, when they're really quite helpful. As I was doing laundry today, she discovered the bin and pulled out a pacifier and tried it out. But there's another one! She spits out the first, inserts the next. Oooh! Wait! Another pacifier! She spits out the second, inserts the third. Whenever left unattended this afternoon, she'd make her way back to the bin and start trying on pacifiers like they were swimsuits. I'm sure the perfect fit is in here somewhere.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekend of Indulgence

After months of asking when he would turn 4, suddenly Q's birthday has come and gone without the tremendous exhilaration or infamous tantrums one would expect with so much anticipation. Is it possible that we could have fulfilled all his preschooler fantasies without building them into a frenzy? I have this dark suspicion that this last week of preschool will be filled with the disappointment of discovering that every day is not filled with lovely adventures, cake, presents and attention. Then we'll see some frenzied tantrums.

Friday we had the traditional picnic at Cedar Lake with cake. Q raced off to play in the sand with the child featured in last year's birthday photos, referred to internally as the 'resident' kid. This year they are both nearing four and civilized behavior and cooperative play came more easily. We barely saw Q the first hour. He was busy.

So Noodle reaped the benefits of having the nearly undistracted attention of 5 doting adults. She was thrilled. And, contrary to most days, photogenic:

She's greeting these early months of her second year with eagerness. Over the weekend she suddenly decided that last week's solo step repeated in various locations is just baby stuff and demonstrated a surprising new ability to string together several steps (up to 6 so far!). Oddly enough, she's best at it when she's tired. She's abandoned the hairball sound used to identify cats in favor of a sound equally ghastly for feline ears: the simple high pitched shriek. Although 'de-de' is still used to identify Daddy, babies, kitties and sometimes confusing undetermined items, she now prefers her new word, "this". Combined with pointing, it has proved itself an effective and satisfying word.

I have resisted the temptation to post the photo of Noodle being wiped clean of cake, looking at my mother with evident dislike on her face

Much to my delight, Q was delighted with every present he opened. A semaphore (go look it up and find out if I spelled it right) brought out a long and detailed explanation. He's now sleeping with it. Just in case.

And, much to my foolish joy, Q's beloved Excavator is returned to his arms.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Minor Injury Report

So Q had his first sports related injury in T-ball this past Thursday. Because Mom and Dad were there to witness the disaster, he was unable to continue with Preschool that day. Sadly, from my distant perspective it was terribly funny: one of the moms hit the t-ball, which flew straight out to smack him in the face. It seemed like a scene in a movie. (The mother felt awful and I'm sure I'd be scarred for life if it had been me that hit the ball.) Q seems to have recovered, since the next day he and a preschool buddy were deliberately throwing a ball into each other's faces.

Today I determined that I was courageous enough to attempt to trim Noodle's hair. I was mostly afraid that I would mangle the job and she would end up looking like someone tried to trim her hair in the dark. Turns out, that should've been the least of my worries. I didn't notice that she moved mid-trim, turning to yell at me. I scolded her. "It doesn't hurt to get your hair cut." Oh, yes, I guess it does hurt if your mother slices off your ear. The flow of blood down her shoulder being the tip-off. Luckily she's really hard to phase over something like this. She continued to bleed for probably half an hour of my attempts to staunch the flow with various strategies, but she was totally unconcerned after the initial protest.

Sadly, I think her hair looks a little like I tried to trim it in the dark.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Last year on Memorial Day weekend I spent Thursday and Friday nights in the Yale New Haven Hospital with Noodle as she was pumped full of antibiotics. I flashed back to that this Friday when I ended up in the ER, getting pumped full of fluids, pain killers, and something to relax my stomach muscles. The whole household seems to be feeling pretty puny: J picked up my GI bug (although he had a milder version and didn't get felled by dehydration) and the two kids are snot-nosed and tired. Hopefully we're all on the mend now, and to remember a year ago definitely puts colds and viruses into perspective.

Saturday we tried to take things easy, but still have enough activity that the kids would fall asleep when their heads hit the pillows. After an easy walk around downtown Essex, we stopped for ice cream, and I shared my scoop with Noodle. J has been trying (with some success) to teach her to say, "MMMMM" when she wants more of something. This was being reinforced very solidly with the ice cream- until I ran out. She got a bit upset. So J coached her on the "MMMMM" some more, giving her tastes of his. Which worked until he ran out. We tidied up as she voiced her protest, and buckled her into the stroller. She settled down a bit as we explained that it was all gone. Then she spotted the two teenage boys eating huge cones nearby. Pointing at them, she screeched, "THERE'S MORE!" in every way except actual words. Terribly funny.

She's actually starting to do this quite a bit. She points out when even complete strangers have something- anything- she doesn't have. It's obviously unfair. Her main desire is food, or drink, but she can get quite worked up about the car keys hanging in the kitchen. "THEY'RE RIGHT THERE! YOU'RE NOT USING THEM!"

Q is starting to fall into the 4 year old narration pattern of announcing every single detail of everything he's doing and seeing. It can be charming, albeit with some reservations, when he pops into our bedroom at 2:30 am to tell us he can see the moon through the window! But it can also be a bit exhausting when you've asked him three times to do a particular task and he's explaining instead what he is doing which is totally unrelated in excruciating detail. It'd be fascinating, except if he doesn't get his underwear and pants on in the next five minutes, the chances of getting him to preschool, and me to work, on time, are remote.

His favorite line currently is, "I like Noodle." He says this so many times each day that the phrase about 'doth protest too much' comes to mind. Except, most of the time, he really seems to like her. He shares with her, tries to play with her, giggles at her. He's a remarkably kind big brother. Fingers crossed.

Q is also in the delightful stage where he adores helping and (this is key) can actually help! He's practically desperate for me to make dinner in the evenings with the hope that he can help me. Tonight he was unable to sleep at bed time because he had one of his rare car naps. So we ordered groceries together, put the recycling into the bin and brought it out to the curb with the trash, cleaned up Noodle's exersaucer (she's too big for it, but has been delighted by the novelty of being placed in it lately), and as I cleaned the kitty litter he supervised and discussed the delicate distinction between kitty puke and kitty poop .

The key to finding ways he can help is to remember: No Task Is Too Small. "Could you throw this in the trash for me please?" "Can you put this washcloth in the hamper in Noodle's room please?" The main difficulty lies in thinking ahead to the next small task and having it ready for his return. Otherwise I end up asking him to use sophisticated tools with mixed results. The salad spinner and grater were successes, but the peeler incident resulted in blood and bandaids, and a tragic waste of parmesan...

Monday, May 19, 2008


For Mother's Day, Q received a rake and hoe. Since working in the yard is something he does primarily with me. These are metal and effective and now he has better gardening tools than I do. I have to bargain with him, trading the use of the hoe for the rake. They may be child sized, but let's face it, I'm not that tall, and most of my gardening is small scale.

I'm attempting to keep the yard respectable this summer. We laid good groundwork for this last fall by finally digging out a tremendous number of weeds (I believe much of this work was done after the growing season was over) and mulching around the plants we hoped were deliberate plantings. Now if I am vigilant and attempt to weed several days each week, I hope I might keep the garden beds attractive.

I've taken to hanging out in the yard with the kids trying to weed to this end. This works better some days than others. If Noodle is satisfied with hanging out in the wagon with a toy, and if Q is satisfied with remaining in our yard, I can actually get quite a bit of work done. Sometimes the kids even cooperate together, Q pulling Noodle in the wagon, to her obvious and touching delight. In various sessions in the past two weeks, with assistance from J, we have created a new bed (mulched even!) for day lilies in our side yard where we'll appreciate it every time we come home. J took it into his head to actually whack off all the dead branches on the shrubs on the same side yard. I kept thinking, 'Wait, we can *do* that?' They look much better. A little strange in bits, but so much less, well, dead.

Yesterday I hacked apart an already leafed hosta. I'd generally recommend dividing hostas in the spring or fall the way you're supposed to. However we have Very Large hostas that are massing in a plot to take over Rhode Island. My experience in the past four years with this yard is that I simply cannot insult the hostas enough to kill one. It's amazingly difficult to divide them in the first place. I hop up and down on the shovel attempting to break the root mass. I dig all around the entire plant, then remove the dirt from underneath it, hoping to surprise it with a sneak attack. Once I manage to crack off (and it sounds like I'm bursting open a melon) a chunk, I simply drop it in a shallow grave, pat the sides gently with loose dirt, water them once or twice until I forget (make that once) and the next spring I have a new hosta hedge. So I'm taking a mild risk by hacking off chunks of a heretofore neglected hosta (they like to be divided I'm told, and this one was crowded and attempting to smother the local perennials). I managed to get three good sized hosta chunks for replanting on the dark side of the rhododendron and I'll hope that they will take over and remove any lasting guilt I have for neglecting that corner of the yard. It's probably over run with dogs hitting the lightpole anyways.

Today I continued my assorted crusades and Q continued to assist. One of his favorite tasks is to run around the yard, pulling up small red seedlings from the Norwegian Maple and bring each individually to my attention, "Look Mommy! I found a baby tree!" There are thousands in the lawn and garden beds, so we may have located our summer entertainment. He has learned the name of a few plants (hostas and skunk cabbage, which sadly look identical to the naive eye, forsythias, dandelions). Today he brought me a spring of a flower plant. "What is is this called Mommy?" I don't know this one. He solved the problem, "I call it fermangia!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Noodle Turns One

She was tentative and mildly confused at first.

But she caught on...

She flew through her one year check up with flying colors, much to my relief, although not to any real surprise. She's packing on the pounds, and although she's only 18 lbs 13 oz, she's put on 3 lbs in 3 months when they expect the weight gain to slow down, and popped herself from the 5th percentile (5 to 10, I could've sworn it was 15th at 9 months) into the 15th percentile. Not to call her chubby. She's in the 50th percentile for length, which I think is also a bump up, and helps me understand why she looks more toddler than baby like. The new tooth I spotted recently (she's got several coming in) is a molar.

No walking yet, but it's starting to look like she's considering taking a step towards a desired object, then deciding that leaning or crawling is more prudent. Sadly, she's taken up shrieking and thus far we haven't been able to persuade her that it's a bad idea.

She's still a pretty mellow kid. She and Q seem to complement each other pretty well. She's getting cute, but still has far more potential for adorable goofy than pretty exactly. She's got a crinkle between her eyes when she grins. She'll let you know when she's unhappy, or if she wants something, but as one grandma pointed out, she's quick to forgive and forget once the situation is righted.

Noodle reminds us most of her brother, paradoxically followed by reminding us of my brother C, with her mischievous grin and her crawling obviously accelerating when she sees a forbidden object in reach. We may be in trouble.

Friday, April 18, 2008


This morning while Noodle was happily pointing at the cat and hacking out her sound for “Cat” (“AC- ACK- ACK!”), I asked her to go get the truck. She looked at me, crawled over to the truck and brought it to me. Definitely serious neuron work going on in there, despite the alien communication skills.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sunshine and Time

Today was the first afternoon in a while that we had unrushed time together as a family and the weather was brilliant. I met J and the kids at a park after work. Q ran around happily playing with children he'd never met before, with a happy, "Hi Mommy!" when he saw me.

Noodle has a new word, her first word outside of Dada, and spent the afternoon calling everything "Ack!" which is Noodle for "Cat!" You can tell it means Cat because it gets very animated and repetitive when she's near or pointing to a cat. Otherwise you'd think she had something caught in her throat.

She also indiscriminately calls many things Dada, but has clearly indicated the understanding of the word again and used it when he handed her a pacifier late one night. Very, very sweet.

When we got home after running errands, we had dinner on the patio, for the first time this spring. I'm going to brainstorm strategies to make this easier because it is simply so nice to eat outside, except for the lugging of high chairs, food, silverware, drinks, plateware, and children who need constant supervision.

Q is on spring vacation this week and you'd think he had a rigorous academic schedule by how much he seems to enjoy not being rushed out of the house at 8:50 each morning. Personally, I'm relieved that we're coming up with a plan for summer activities for him. Last summer he was a poster boy for 'Idle hands are the devil's playthings'. We're just not clever enough to keep a preschooler busy for months on end.

Today he declared with all the importance of a tiny Buddha (or Yoda) that "If upstairs was downstairs, then downstairs would be upstairs."

For those who would like an update on No Thank You bites, it does appear that I won that skirmish. He ate the exact same foods we fought over the following night, with barely an attempt for negotiating (and actually he ate the cheese toast with much gusto). The trick, it seems, is to remember his preschool teacher's recommendation that you offer the "less preferred" items first, then, after you are satisfied by the No Thank You bite, offer the food they'll actually eat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fruitless Battles

At preschool, the kids are trained to take 'No Thank You' bites. I need to investigate what level of cooperation my son is giving them regarding these bites.

This evening I gave Q a few peas (6) and some toasted cheese. These came at the end of the meal (they were finally ready) where he cleared off veggie sausage, pineapple, milk and perhaps something else I can't recall.

I told Q I expected him to eat a no thank you bite of each consisting of 3 peas and 1 actual bite of the cheese toast. He refused. I insisted. He refused. I insisted. He refused. I insisted.

So finally I left him at the table (kitchen has been cleaned, his sister fed and played with, I've had a cup of tea, and kept insisting he stay at the table) and took Noodle upstairs for her bath. I hear him dump his plate into the sink (a required chore) and he padded up the stairs.

"Did you eat your no thank you bite?"

Ok. So what can I logically punish him with? This is beyond what I think is reasonable anyways (on the pick your battle front I have no idea why I am in the midst of this skirmish). So I inform him that I'm very disappointed in him. And that consequently tonight he can't use Noodle's bath water.

Yes, that's right, an actual and real punishment that sends him into a tantrum and even evokes a tear which wrenches my grumpy heart: he cannot use the bathwater used for his sister's bath. I don't know why it's so important to him, but he's made it clear in the past (you only make the mistake once) that he really wants to take a bath in her bathwater. Sometimes even with her in it, but usually after she's done. Got me why.

I believe I won the skirmish, but to be honest, I'm not sure.