Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Lack of Power
No, not me. Well, I did lack the power to get Four on the hill yesterday. He said he didn't want to ski. I decided not to push it. It was snowing and cold. Don't want to push him away from skiing. Gotta keep it fun. But today, we made it up to the hill, bought our tix, got ready to rock, went to the lifts, and ...

no power. Apparently there had been an accident somewhere in the area and it knocked out the power in area. And I thought it was dark in the restroom b/c someone had forgotten to turn on the lights. So, in my new optimistic mindset, I decided that the lifts would probably open soon and we could hike the bunny slope until they did. Well, the lifts finally started around 11AM. Just enough time to make it to the top, back down, and meet the shuttle back to the timeshare at 11:30. We got to the park lot at 11:33 to see the driver pulling out of the lot. The knuckleheads who "man" the lot were completely helpless. After finally yelling at them for their lack of help, they finally led to someone who called the shuttle to send them back. I was pissed. Here I am with a 3-year old and all this ski crap, and these toothless losers can only tell me, "It's not my problem." And then after I finally get pissed enough to blow up on them and then finally get some help, the one guy tells me that this happens all the time and this is how they fix it. What? Do you just have fun watching the gapers squirm?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Four Jumping
Today, Four was trying to jump on his skis. amazing. it's only his second day. he was also turning on his own. we made it up to the top of Shawnee. He very confidently picked his way down using the green circles to guide him.

LuLu has not been sleeping well. Maybe we need to sleep away from home more to get her used to it.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Racer Chaser
Today was Four's first day on the mountain. our four met Curt, Kristen, and Nick at Shawnee mountain around 9:30 am. Curt and Nick had picked up rentals and a harness on the way. Curt asked if he should pick one up for me. I said "Sure" but minutes after getting off the phone I imagined that I would probably return it. At the mountain, Curt and Kristen put theirs on Nick and M followed suit before I had a chance to ask her to hold off until I had a chance to determine whether or not we would use it, and thus whether or not we should take it out of the packaging. Once opened, I decided to roll with it. Afterall, it wasn't worth fighting over $37 just before entering the potentially stressful endeavor of teaching your own son to ski. To make a long story short. This harness device, the "Racer Chaser" ranks right up there with some of the best $37 I've ever spent. Essentially, its a vest that the child wears over his/her outerwear with two crotch straps and a d-ring attached on each side of the waist. A long strap then attaches to the rings allowing the parent to ski downhill behind the child and both controlling their speed as well as providing steering input. Both Four and Nick had ski tip locks that, as the name implies, held their tips together. With the tips held close together mechanically, subtle encouragement to spread their feet wide always created a good snowplow, or "pizza pie". Early on, I would try to get Four to work on turning, but after a while, I decided that it was enough that he was out here having fun and getting the balance and sense of speed issues down. Turning could wait for another day. Then, a few runs later I noticed him weaving back and forth all by himself. It was amazing. he also seemed to getting the concept of straightening his skis for more speed in the flatter sections of the "bunny hill". Encouraged by these discoveries on the parts of both boys, we thought we'd try to go to the top and come down some of the long greens. on our way to the other lifts we saw kristen, who was a little early for the pick-up. Her presence, while not unwelcome, encouraged the boys to call it a day. But what a full-day it was.

Kristin took the boys back to our timeshare to hang out with M and LuLu. Curt and I got to ski together for about two hours. It was awesome. Curt is a good skier, and a great guy to hang with.

Later, we took the kids to Shawnee's Rec Center. They have a neat pool with a gradually descending "'beach" area and a falling water shower feature built into an interesting U-shape. While in the water, Four said something to the effect of "I've had a great time". It was as if he thought our vacation was over already. But it was heartwarming to know that he had genuinely had a great day, and that if the vacation were over, he probably would have been fine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I did end up getting sick after the last post. So, I'm throwing up, M is just barely finished with throwing up, and Four's got a doctor's appointment at 6:50 PM. I managed to keep it together enough to convince M to have LuLu stay home with me. Good thing. Let's just say there was a mess.

Today was a good day. We ended up at the pharmacy -- antibiotics for Four's ear infections. We went to the grocery store next door while waiting to get a few things. The kids we really good. Four actually sat in a cart even though they have the "customer-in-training" carts at this store as well. We all got naps today. M came home and everyone, esp. LuLu, was happy to see her. Dinner relatively uneventful. Four and LuLu played with some trains after and M and I got to chill for a bit. Then came tub-time. LuLu, still on cloud 9, was all smiles getting ready for the tub. She is getting so big. She found her reflection in the windows by the tub, and would smile and point to it. I found myself getting all soft and mushy. Looking at my little baby turned chubby toddler, tears came to my eyes and the words to a Billy Joel (not necessarily a fan -- but who hasn't heard this song?) song ( mp3) came into my head:

This is the time to remember
'Cause it will not last forever
These are the days to hold on to
'Cause we won't, although we want to

The overall meaning of the song is a bit different, but this part seems relevant. Don't forget today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Good with the Bad.
LuLu took 7-10 steps several times last night walking between M and me. she was so proud of herself. so were we. even four got in on the act, trying to help with the videotaping. today, lulu even took some shaky steps outside on the woodchips around the swingset. she was walking from the bottom of the slide to the ladder. she's so funny on the slide. she crawls over and throws herself down head first with no concept that she could very easily get hurt.

m is home sick today. stomach bug causing vomiting. four has a nasty cough, and woke up complaining that his ears hurt. lulu seems relatively well, knock on wood -- she did have the vomiting on Sunday. I feel like I'm going to get the bug M has any minute now. stomach is real queasy. and we're supposed to go on vacation next week? fun.

uh-oh where's that bucket?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

The Red Button
Four hasn't had a BM in two days. Related to fever? Probably not. Probably more a function of all the Valentine candy he keeps getting from his neighborhood friends, which makes us feel like scrooges for essentially boycotting the Hallmark holiday. Anyway, he was trying for at least the third time today. After not producing anything, he proceeds to tell me that "God pushes the red button to make me poop." I was in the powder room with him for moral support, but had to duck out to make eye contact with M. It was all we could do to not lose it laughing. In recent months, non-productive seatings on the potty had been explained away as "My poop went back to God," followed by a sort of scrunchy "it is what it is" face and a shoulder shrug. I never knew God was so interested and involved in our BMs.

btw...i'm still in my pajamas.
It Worked for Nemo
Something about me, Four, and public restrooms. Thursday afternoon, the three least mature members of this family branch were out doing some shopping for Valentines and the Birthdays. Between stores, Four informs me he has to go tinkle. I think OK, we're right near the Acme, and I know where the potty is there, quick in and out. Not to be. This particular restroom has a toilet that is particularly high off the ground, so Four has some difficulty reaching over the top. With LuLu almost always in one arm, I can't properly lift him to get him over, and this one is too tall even for the standing on my feet trick. No problem though, because I figured out another neat trick. This restroom has one of those trashcans with a lid that has a flat top and two in-swinging doors. It makes a perfect step stool. Usually. This day, unbeknownst to me, one of the doors was actually holding the bottom of the lid up off the floor. When I noticed that Four was a bit far from the pot I grabbed his arm and asked him to hold on. Still holding LuLu in one arm and Four's left arm with my other hand, I used my foot to push the makeshift stool forward. The door swung in and the stool lurched down. Four spun in my hand. His right arm ended up in the worst of all places, the water of a public toilet. After several washings, I made sure that the lid was on terra firma, and the poor kid finally got to pee.

We joked later that we was trying to find Marlin.
Happy Birthday Olivia et al.
On Valentine's Day, M's clan celebrated February birthdays at our place. It was a good time. M and I are becoming far more relaxed about entertaining than we used to be. Sure, we still cleaned, but we didn't worry about it being Martha Stewart-perfect -- maybe its the fall from grace and ongoing trial ;^)

We celebrated the birthdays of Hayley, Rachel, Kyle, and LuLu. Again, everyone was well relatively well-behaved. I think everyone had a good time. I did. LuLu was treated to her first taste of cake. She did a great job. Barely made a mess, and ate every bit of a good sized piece. Given Four's egg allergy, we decided to play it safe and give her a piece of the egg-free chocolate cake that M's mom makes for Four. Now, Four has thrown up 2x today and we don't know if we should blame ourseslves for allowing our not-quite one year old to have chocolate cake, or if we can chalk it up to inordinate number of germs currently in our house. We're all fighting colds, perhaps sinus infections, with coughs. In fact, Four spiked a fever last night around 104 degrees. He was burning up and very irritable, we gave him Tylenol and tried to cool him with lukewarm washcloths. In less than an hour, his fever was down around 101 and he seemed to be sleeping comfortably. It still freaked me out and I would wake every hour or so to check on him. By morning, he was down to less than the benchmark 98.6. We usually use one of those ear thermometers but at some point in the middle of the night ran out of the plastic covers for the tip. So I had to use a regular oral thermometer to check on the little guy. Since he was mostly asleep, and probably more because I couldn't be sure that we had never used it rectally, I took his temperature under his arm. This morning when he came out to the kitchen -- for once he was the last one awake -- to our surprise, he cheerfully ran to give M a hug. Then very quickly started looking at his arms. He was clearly looking for something.
M asked him, "What are you looking for?"
Four: "the hole."
M: "What hole?"
Four: "The hole for this..." ...and ran off to his room. He came back with the thermometer, holding the relatively more pointed end toward his arm. In his tired, fever-induced delerium, he thought we had to stick the thermometer into his arm to get the reading. The funny thing is he didn't put up that much of a fight when we did it. Brave?

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Nature vs. Nuture
Hold that thought -- it's late.

OK, now I'm back (Sunday 2/15/04 2:24pm). It's been a whirlwind weekend. Our weekly Tuesday AM playgroup isn't happening next week, so the mom who had signed up for it decided to instead throw a Friday afternoon playgroup/happy hour. The moms and I were encouraged bring adult beverages if we wanted them. I threw a six-pack of lager in the stroller and wheeled the kids down around 4:45. About 10 families showed up, so there were at least 20 children (seemed like more). Cheese, crackers, veggies and dip, fruit salad served as precursors to pizza. It was a good opportunity to hang out and talk with adults. Its a good mix of people from various backgrounds, and despite the chaos inherent in such a large group of children confined to a small area -- and being supervised by week-weary SAHP's beginning to imbibe -- everyone, including me, was pretty well behaved. But this isn't the point of this entry.

Olivia has spent her first year of life in a house with an older brother who is about as all boy as they come -- loves trucks, trains, planes, tractors, etc. Olivia plays with these items with great aplomb, and seems very much to enjoy it -- making the requisite sounds almost as well as her big brother. The playgroup session above was at Ellie Peters house. Ellie is all girl. Her toys consist of dolls, dolls, and stuff for dolls. Despite her relative lack of experience, it took no time or initiation for Olivia to figure out how to play with these items. Now, she does have one doll -- we're not trying (that hard) to raise a tomboy -- but she doesn't play with it that much. Recently, she has started to hug the doll, but doesn't play with it for prolonged periods. At Ellie's she loved putting the dolls in the stroller, pushing the shopping cart, and "changing" babies' diapers. It was adorable to watch her push the babies around the room in the strollers, and when the dolls fell out, stop to pick them up and "gently" shove them back in to their seat.

While environment and upbringing definitely play a role in the differences between male and female behavior, I am now a firm(er) believer in the notion that nature plays the stronger part in creating nurturing females.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Can't, Won't, and Don't Stop!
One more thing: Four is playing with a stretchy lizard that we got on a recent visit to the Academy of Natural Science. He wrapped the tail around one of the drawer pulls in the kitchen. He told me that, the lizards in the jungle hang like this, except when they see something they want to eat, then "they can't, they won't, and they don't stop!" This is a Four-ified version of a Beastie Boys song* ( mp3) that I get in my head sometimes, but haven't for quite some time. Children's memory is amazing. I was practically on the floor laughing.

Even with experiences like Tuesday's playgroup incident, which I haven't found the courage and/or perspective to write about yet, I wouldn't trade my job for anyone's.

*Note: before I get admonished about the lyrics in the song, the children don't listen to it, I do. And when I sing it (and unfortunately for anyone nearby, dance) it is because of these words:

I Want To Say a Little Something That's Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters And The Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End

Sometimes you take the bad with the good. I like the message above. Peace.
My Own Cart
I like to think that I am a very in-tune and sensitive stay-at-home-dad. Even so, it's still so easy to see this world through our adult filters. Last night, when getting Four ready for bed, M asked him what his favorite part of the day was. He responded, "Going to the supermarket and getting my own cart!" Such a simple pleasure. For me, the event was mildly stressful. I had already done my weekly shopping on Monday, and was now just picking up a few things first from BJ's (our nearest buy-in-bulk club -- hey, if it's good enough for Ice Cube -- it's good enough for me) and then from Wegman's. Interesting that BJ's, a store for the thrifty at heart, and Wegman's, a store with very upscale selections, share essentially the same address. Anyway, that's a different story. On the way to BJ's, Four was complaining that he did not want to go to BJ's, and that he wanted to go to the mall. The local mall with its indoor playground has become his diversion of the season. Again, another story. To make the experience more enticing to the three-and-a-half year old, I promised that if he was a good boy in BJ's, he could push his own "customer-in-training" cart at Wegman's. You would have thought that I had promised him gold. He was an angel in BJ's -- sitting in the BJ's double-wide cart next to his sister, he gave LuLu more hugs and kisses than she cared for and practically force fed her the snacks I brought for them to share.

The local Wegman's must have been designed by either a mad man or a marketing genius. It's one of those stores that I want to like because of their awesome produce and breadth of selections, including a decent ethnic foods section, but the layout makes it impossible to get around easily. When it first opened, I assumed that it was just because it was new and once everyone figured it out things would get much easier. Well, they haven't. There is just no flow. There's apparently a marketing factoid that the longer, people stay in a store, the more they buy. This store must be raking in the dough. Again, I digress. Through the marketing maze, even with his own cart, or maybe especially with his own cart, Four was again an angel. Putting bananas, celery, yogurt, and only one unauthorized purchase in his cart, he followed LuLu and me through the store like a veteran shopper. One of the attractions for him at Wegman's is the large (O-Scale?) train that hangs from the ceiling. This day the train was not running. He asked me why. I told him I did not know and that he should ask one of the workers. He marched right over to a woman in a Wegman's apron and stocking shelves on a ladder. He made his initial inquiry and then began to quiz her about the nature of her work. You know, all the W's your mom always wanted to know: who, what, when, where, and, most importantly to Four, WHY. It's a shame we can't get him out of his shell more. ;^)

At checkout, they were doing Cholesterol screenings. Of course, he was very curious about this. He's a bit afraid of needles and shots and was quite nervous. He kept saying, "This is terrible." I tried to explain why chol screenings are good and that the minor pain is only temporary. I told him to go ask if he could watch. He walked over and stood about 15 feet away and asked, "Can I watch?" He asked twice, quietly. No one heard him. He came back and said, "They didn't say I could watch." Too cute. Amazing, that with school and the other fun things in his day, this was the best part of his day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Sloppy Kisses
I just put Liv down for a nap. After she finished her bottle, I was burping her and she started chatting away. I asked her for a kiss and she practically dove at me with her mouth wide open. Her open mouth landed right on mine, covering me with an endearing mixture of formula and saliva. If she wasn't my own child, it would have been quite gross, but as she is, it was quite beautiful.

Happy (early) Valentines!
LuLu Walks!
LuLu took her first steps yesterday. I had been sitting down with her on the floor and held her arm's length from me and encouraged her to stand on her own. Once she felt comfortable and balanced, I took my arms away and she stood there for a few seconds before making the three steps back to me. She was so proud of herself -- grinning from ear to ear. We had her do it a few more times to reinforce the muscle memory, but she soon stopped trying as she was way overdue for a nap. We'll try some more today.

In Four news, last night, I had a meeting to set the 2004 budget for our neighborhood civic association. As I was leaving, I said goodnight to Four and reminded him to be a good boy for mommy. He assured me that he would, and said, "Have a good time!" I thought that was very compassionate for a 3 1/2 year old. Maybe some of our efforts ARE starting to pay off.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Knuckle Sandwiches
The other day, I asked Four if he wanted a knuckle sandwich -- I was just joking around with him as we often do -- and he replied, "No thanks, Dad, I already have some soup." And with that scooped another spoonful of our homemade soup into his witty little mouth.
Night feedings and Lack of Sleep
Well, Olivia continues with her desire for a post-midnight snack. We had gotten a bit lax about it and were caving in again, so, of course, we're right back to square one. Last night, I decided to draw a line in the sand again. I would get her down and settled and then she would wake crying about 15 minutes later. This wake, comfort, sleep cycle continued for about 90 minutes when I finally caved again at 5AM. At which point she took about 3 ounces. I say if you're going to make that big a deal about it, you need to drink more than 3 ounces. So, what did I accomplish? I think nothing really. Now, she's tired, I'm tired, and no real lesson was passed along or reinforced. We shall see...

In other news, Liv now has 7 teeth. On top, both central incisors, both lateral incisors, on bottom, both central incisors and her left lateral incisor. [I finally did a Google to find the technical names of the teeth.]