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.