Friday, December 28, 2007

Now You See It, Now You Don't

The Christmas tree ended its nearly two month stint in the living room today. I was excited about the getting the space back even though I knew it would most likely become the home of some of the larger new toy items. As it turns out, I got so used to seeing the artificial shrubbery there that the living room now looks a bit bland without it. I’ll re-adjust.

It took quite some time to disassemble the tree; I am now an ardent supporter of umbrella-style Christmas trees. You know, the kind that you hold by the post and kinda shake open. Those kinds of trees are much easier to get back into the box. And there is none of that standing around and de-fluffing each individual bough. Ugh. So many PVC needles fell off of the tree that I’m projecting it will be reduced to bare metal needle-less branches in five years.

Isn’t it funny how putting the Christmas tree up in preparation for the holiday is looked forward to while taking it down just seems like another chore? When putting it up there is Christmas music in the background, hot cocoa to drink, and if one can manage the lights without too much trouble a general feeling of goodwill prevails; by the time it comes down one more rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” would be one too many, black tea has replaced the much too sugary hot cocoa, and one just wants to get the job done as quickly as possible.

However, one must look at the bright side of things during these types of time-consuming, mind-numbing chores. My bright side was that although I had to remove each individual bough from the center post, I could just allow the strands of white lights to fall to the floor as the rows of branches were removed and simply unwind them from the post afterward and bundle them up for storage. Considering the fact that our tree was mashed into an un-navigable corner this was a good thing.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to find a way to turn the un-decorating into an event the whole family looks forward to. Lord only knows how I’m going to do that, but I am certainly going to give it a shot. Maybe I can find some misplaced holiday cheer mixed in with the cheerios and the four hundred and sixty-eight faux fir needles that found their way underneath the couch cushions.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You Light Up My Life

This year we made it to our home church for Christmas Eve service. My favorite part of the service is always the end when the sanctuary is alight with only the congregant’s candles. I love to watch the glow spread from the front to the back of the room as each person receives the light and passes it on to the next. There is something magical in the simple symbolism.

However, this year as the flame reached our corner my peaceful smile was quickly replaced by a grin of suppressed hilarity. In an effort to put out the blazing pillar before him my son leaned over in my husband’s arms and started a furious attempt to extinguish the candle that they were sharing.

Having only reached the ripe age of two years old, some of his motor skills have yet to be fully developed. Blowing out candles in not something he has learned to do with finesse; what he does is more akin to spitting.

So when he leaned over to have a go at the flaming wick, his nose scrunched up, he pulled back his upper lip and out came a quick, smart: “Ffitt, ffitt, ffitt.” The little girl sitting a couple of rows in front of us who is one month older than my son held her own candle calmly and just watched it flicker. My husband’s little light had to be lit three times. And each time my son more excitedly tried to put it out.

When the proper time came for the candle to be extinguished we tried to no avail to show the little guy how to properly blow the flame out. He tried to mimic us, but unfortunately all that was produced was a longer “Ffffffffffftttt” at the end of which his eyes began to cross for determined concentration.

It was a Christmas miracle that the little guy didn’t hyperventilate and pass out with all of the “Ffitt”ing that he did. A few of the attempts were rather vigorous and I was afraid that I would lose my composure and laugh out loud in love for my little boy during the singing of “Silent Night,” but I managed to choke through it. This Christmas left me with many other wonderful memories, but of all the memories this one has to be the merriest.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just Feeling Warm and Fuzzy All Around

The little guy’s stomach was gurgling last night. It must have sounded like a quack to him because he very seriously informed me that there was a duck in his shirt.

BoBeans has perfected his fake/forced cry. I picked up the baby the other night because she was fussy; this upset my son so he started with the waterworks. The poor kid just wanted some undivided mommy attention. At any rate, the baby thought that he was playing with her. Every time he would open his mouth to renew his wail she, in her naiveté, would mistake it for a laugh and would chuckle and squeal in return. The little Cheekers was having a ball, but my son grew very offended before attempting to drop the charade completely when he saw it wasn’t working. In an attempt to make up the baby reached for her brother’s head to stroke it; unfortunately she forgot herself and grabbed a tiny fistful of his hair. Thus the crying commenced again, a little more in earnest this time. More shrieking laughter; more forced tears.

The baby received a brand new toy for Christmas from a dear friend and it was so neat to watch them play with it together. Of course a six month old is only so coordinated: she would push it off of the tray on her walker and my son had to keep picking it up. My daughter makes this happy face where she scrunches her nose up and exhales through it in a sort of snort; the two of them “talked” back and forth in this snorting language, she dropped the toy, he picked it up, and they had a grand old time together smashing and exploring and organizing the monkeys in their plastic green grass hut.

Our family belongs to the genus of people that cannot help but resort to baby-talk when within two miles of a baby. Even the men do it. That includes my son. It is with a happy smile that I watch my little gentleman crouch down to his sister’s level and check on her with his own special brand of toddler baby talk, “Watcha doin’?” A baby talking baby-talk; if that’s not something to smile about, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

These Boots Aren't Made For Walkin'

Going to the pediatrician’s office is so exhausting. I have to take the kids twenty-five minutes west on an interstate highway to get there. Some times it takes twenty-five minutes, but there have been times it has taken over an hour.

Today we cruised the highway with minimal traffic and arrived a little early. The practice is on the fourth floor of a four-story building, so we always take the elevator. Elevators terrify my son. A stranger happening upon the sight is sure to get a chuckle. There I am, five-feet two-inches tall, carrying my baby girl while my two year old son, who is almost as tall as I am, stands on my feet and wraps his arms around my legs.

Like most pediatrician’s offices this time of year the feverish, coughing, runny nosed children are equal in numbers to those scheduled for regular checkups. This means we wait. And we wait. I try to look at the bright side and remember that I at least am waiting with a well child and not a sick one. This is the easy waiting because Blue’s Clues and Sesame Street help to entertain the kids.

It’s the waiting that takes place in the exam room that’s treacherous. By this time it has been a good two hours since the baby has nursed, so she is getting hungry. My son can only be read the same book so many times or drive his cars over the same terrain for so long before he has to resort to going through drawers and touching buttons while mommy frantically follows in the wake of would-be destruction.

Once the doctor appears (she’s always smiling and cheery- how does she do that?) the baby cries every time she’s touched, and the toddler either needs to be repeatedly snatched from in front of the door whenever the nurse is about to enter or told to stop rolling around on the floor.

During the descent back to the parking lot two gentlemen came aboard the elevator car. Before giving birth to my first baby I was employed for three years by a local hospital. They required all employees to attend concierge training which basically taught the new hires to be thoughtful and polite in case they didn’t already know how. What I am trying to say is that I had enter and exit an elevator last drummed into my brain; so when we reached street level I politely stood and waited for these gentlemen to exit the car. They politely stood and waited for me to exit.

Now I was in a bit of a conundrum. I couldn’t reach the door open button and, not sensing any bodies, the doors began to close. Sensing the imminent danger of another ride up and down the elevator shaft with my sweet boy crushing my feet with his toddler size eight shoes, my elasti-woman reflexes kicked in and my right leg instinctively propelled itself between the closing doors and the opposing doorjamb. I’m sure I looked like an idiot; I was perched on one leg with the other leg sticking straight out from of my body; I gripped an infant car seat in my left hand, had the diaper bag slung over my shoulder, and was blindly searching for my two-year-old’s hand with my own.

The elevator doors yielded to my apparent sudden urge to practice yoga and opened again forthwith. The one gentleman asked, “You got that?” with a very concerned edge in his voice; I’m quite sure he was having visions of the door closing on my leg and snapping it into two pieces. I mumbled something stupid like, “Mommies learn how to use all their limbs at once” in my hoarse cold-ridden voice. He probably didn’t understand a word I said, so I didn’t waste any time worrying about whether he thought I was touched in the head or not.

As if the day thus far hadn’t been strenuous enough we always follow up a visit to the doctor with a trip into the Target around the corner. Exactly a week before Christmas the parking lot was rife with motorists hunting and racing for parking spaces, and haphazardly dodging pedestrians in the crosswalk. I got scared and parked far away from the entrance.

My son clumped along next to the stroller in his big snow boots as we very, very slowly, slowly rambled through the aisles. Those boots really slow him down and the big puffy winter coat doesn’t help the speed factor very much. I think it took us an hour to look at a handful of items scattered throughout the store.

We were just about to enter the checkout aisle when the little man was taken by a fit of weariness and sat down on the floor. He couldn’t take another step. So he decided to lie down. In front of an oncoming shopping cart. Once the he regained the use of his legs we had a speedy checkout and managed to get to the car safely with our sack of… baby food? Yep. That’s the whole kit-n-caboodle: because that’s what mommies do- risk their lives to secure food for their babies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Word "Housebroken" Literally Means the House Gets Broken

I walked into the living room to see my husband encouraging my son to leap from the ottoman onto the arrangement of couch pillows on the floor. My husband’s logic is that the kid will learn to do all of these things on his own, so therefore they may as well have a little bit of fun doing it together.

Scenario: Toddler jumps from ottoman onto couch pillows.

Daddy sees: Oh, boy! This is more fun than wrestling around on the floor! I can continue to not act my age!

Mommy sees: Having to rush toddler with broken arm to the hospital. Also foresees having to remind toddler that he cannot jump on Mrs. Smith’s couch, bed, chairs, etc; Mrs. Smith decides not to invite Mommy over anymore.

Scenario: Toddler is “swimming” in the bathtub.

Daddy sees: Opportunity to teach toddler a useful, perhaps lifesaving, skill.

Mommy sees: Water all over the bathroom floor, walls, toilet. Mommy slips in a puddle of water while carrying infant and falls. Mommy breaks her neck and being the only person in the house who can speak in complete sentences lies on her back in excruciating pain until after dark when Daddy gets home from work. Toddler shrivels up into a sickly prune and needs extensive therapy in order to return to his natural, pre-pruned state.

My husband picked up a couple of movies that were on sale that he wanted for Christmas. The deal was that since they were intended as Christmas presents he was not to watch them until Christmas day. We were wrapping presents last evening and he informed me that although he knows which movies he is getting he would still like for them to be wrapped so that he can open them during the morning’s festivities. I shook my head and laughed at this, but it was really kind of sweet. Most little boys don’t grow up: they just get taller.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh, Joy!

It’s a good thing that I am comfortable with my husband; otherwise my new sweat pants may have stolen my heart because they are ever so delightfully comfy. On days that I do not have a bunch of things on my to-do list I revel in dressing as cozy as possible (if I have a lot to get done I seem to move much faster and feel more motivated when wearing jeans). I draw the line at pajamas, and only wear them around the house when I am sick.

Since the summertime I have had high hopes of finding a pair of cropped sweats on clearance because I find that full-length sweat pants often get too warm in a house void of a central cooling system. I was out at a department store the other day for a couple of stolen minutes when I found them. They may be hot pink and have the word “love” stamped across the rear end in lime green, but I couldn’t care less. Why? Because they love my butt and my butt loves them.

Besides, I don’t generally leave the house in sweat pants. But, oh, the rapturous joy! When I need to wash them I feel like Linus from Peanuts when his blanket needed washing. I suppose after a while, when they are no longer new, I shan’t feel the need to wear them all the time. If I should die in the meantime, please note that it is my wish to be buried in them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

R.I.P. Christmas Cookie

When presented with a be-sprinkled cookie a little girl may marvel at how tiny they are or admire the rainbow of color. She may try to separate them into small piles in order to determine exactly how many different colors there are. Or see if she could crunch just one between her teeth.

A boy probably wouldn’t do any of these things. Not for very long anyway. My BoBeans didn’t get past the word “ball.” There, on top of his cookie, were tiny balls. And what do little boys do with balls? They throw them. He tried, rather unsuccessfully, to throw them each individually. He looked to his right and said, “Catch!” to his Uncle Bob.

That didn’t work so well. It is hard to follow the trajectory of a sprinkle. So he resorted to flicking them all over. By the time my son was done mutilating the once beautiful Christmas cookie it looked as though the area around his booster seat was the Christmas Cookie Topping Burial Ground. The little guy was also nicely decked out in what appeared to be chocolate colored war paint.

We had a small Christmas gathering yesterday with a couple of our close and dear friends. Besides an abundance of cookies there was a smattering of other good and comforting foods along with coffee, tea, and eggnog.

When my son wasn’t mauling cookies he would pluck various other items off of a tray to sample. He would wander around nibbling a cracker for a little while and then decide he no longer wanted it, so he would replace the remnants to the exact spot on the tray from whence it came. There would be a row of agreeably placed crackers at the end of which was placed, ever so precisely, the aforesaid sculpted cracker.

They were so tastefully gnawed that they reminded me of modern art. I should have saved them to sell on Ebay. People have paid copious amounts of money to attain stranger things than chiseled party food.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We Have the Biggest Bus in Town

My son’s toys talk now. His animals, cars and trucks. They talk to him; they talk to each other. It is really quite funny to watch! The little guy even does different voices for each of the toys as they “talk”. They usually say things like, “Come on! Let’s go!” or “Growl”. Today at lunch even his tortilla chips had a short discussion before hunger prevailed and they were silenced forever. I’m just relieved that all of his battery-operated toys have not squelched his imagination.

When we went to the store the other day I absent-mindedly pushed my shopping in front of a lady who was browsing to pass her. I forgot to excuse myself, so my two-year-old took the liberty to do it for me. The woman was so impressed by his manners that I figured mine could be excused on the grounds that he learned to do so from my example in the first place.

Little kids learn a lot by watching. I try to make sure my son isn’t in the room before I do things like stand on a chair to close the drapes because I know that as soon as I put the chair back he’ll have it halfway across the floor so as to climb on top of it in front of the window. I’m also leery about clipping the baby’s nail in front of him. I don’t really want him to try and do that any time soon.

All children go through a bossy stage. I can see it starting already when my son attempts to pass along my commands to one of our two cats. It appears that he believes himself to be rid of obligation to follow the instruction if someone else obeys it. If I tell him to come upstairs or to sit down he immediately forwards the message along to a cat and generally does not comply without distress if the cat is not made to respond as well.

A rather cherished past time in our family is to replace the standard words of any given song with our own. It may seem silly, but we enjoy it because we are all rather silly. My son has started dabbling in this by just adding things and not actually replacing any words yet. After he has heard or read (he has about one dozen books memorized) four or five bedtime stories he generally likes to sing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.” By the time he falls asleep it is not uncommon for his bus to be loaded with the traditional wheels, wipers, money, babies and mommies, but also with cars, bears, hippos, and trains among other things. The cars on the bus go beep, beep, beep all through the town. That must be one BIG bus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Current Top Three Injustices

It has come to my attention that my son gets reprimanded for things that either my husband or I do as well. This hardly seems fair in my estimation and I am currently looking for a way to remedy this situation.

On a daily basis my son is told to stop chewing his fingernails. I do not bother to tell him this, as I quickly realized that he is not even aware that he is doing it in the first place. I feel as though it is a fight not worth picking. However, it drives my husband insane when my son stands around and ruins his appetite by devouring his nails so all night long I hear, get your hands out of your mouth!!! :::Sigh::: Alas, both my husband and myself are guilty of occasional mindless gnawing. At least I don’t have to cut his little fingernails anymore.

My father has always been a boisterous person; so has my husband. I feel as though my little boy comes by his loudness naturally enough. There have been many days where I had to take a deep breath and will my headache to cease and desist. I’m pretty sure that the little man knows what I am asking of him when I ask him to speak more quietly, but I cannot be entirely sure as he has yet to quiet down by request. He generally does not stop the racket at my husband’s demand either. On top of the ruckus my poor sweetie-pie has to endure my sly grins as well because it cracks me up to see one din-maker rebuff the attempts of another at achieving decibels as yet unknown to man. Of course it is harder for me to smile when they are both going at it at the same time. I’m pretty sure that my eyes have bled in the past.

For the day’s last look into the injustice that runs rampant in my home we will explore the Daddy-is-home-so-I-will-smother-him-to-death phenomenon. For a little boy mommy is just not as much fun as daddy. Plain and simple. So when daddy comes home the protégé latches onto daddy and follows him around like a shadow. If the shadow does not have the attention of the great and powerful daddy for a few seconds here and there it tends to whine. A lot. I can understand daddy’s need to have a few minutes without the groping and the clutching. I really can.

Perhaps my husband and my son can attend a twelve step program together to help them better cope with their groping and clutching tendencies. Like father, like son and all of that.

Monday, December 3, 2007


My little girl strongly resembles me in looks, but I found that there are certain aspects of my personality where she mirrors me as well. She loves to eat. It is no secret to those close to me that I love food. Thankfully the metabolism that God has given me can hold up to occasional divergences into the land of Bad Eating.

The baby started on solid food a couple of weeks ago (solid as in pureed). Only in the last week or so has she figured out how to open her mouth for the spoon and actually swallow the majority of it. Previously she spent most of the mealtime licking her lips, sucking on her tongue and spitting the food all over herself and the surrounding area. Now that these fine motor skills are more or less finely tuned the act of eating holds some pleasure for her. At least it certainly appears to.

My daughter enjoys her repast in the comfort of her bouncy chair. By the time the bib is securely in place so as to absorb most of the mess that is sure to be made she knows what’s coming and starts to kick her legs with the thrill of it all. (When a kicky baby is settled into one of these chairs it turns into a kind of baby-catapult, so always make sure that the baby is properly restrained so that he or she will not go flying through the air until stopped by a solid object like a wall.) There she sits making baby noises and kicking in between mouthfuls of sweet potatoes. Her eyes get all wide when she sees the spoon coming toward her mouth; if mommy is too slow in getting it there the little girl will grab mommy’s wrist with both of her small hands and pull the food-laden spoon into her waiting mouth.

There is still a little bit that needs to be learned about the whole spoon-eating thing. Approximately every other time her lips close around the spoon she zerberts the mush all over her face and up her nose. I’ve decided that I prefer foods like pears and applesauce: they don’t stain quite as much.