Friday, April 30, 2004

School's Out
Today was Shane's last day of school at his current "Montessori" pre-school. Technically, the school is in session through the end of May, but we have been failing to see the point of continuing. The school is at least 20 minutes away, when there's no traffic. Some days, it has taken over an hour to get there. The school is ridiculously expensive, which is fine, IF we thought we were getting our money's worth. But right from the start we have felt like outsiders, and not even outsiders looking in, for we were never allowed to look in. A neighbor who had also been going to the school tried to schedule an observation which the school literature brags about allowing but when push came to shove, it was deemed that such a session would be disruptive to the children's learning. My own attempts to try to find ways to reinforce the classroom work were met with resistance, the only tip I ever got was, "while waiting at a restaurant, try playing a game of 'I Spy'" where one of the clues is the phonetic sound that begins the word. Further attempts triggered the response from the directress, "We'll let you know if there's a problem." Even Shane never really told us what happened there, which freaked me out a little. A recent email/e-newsletter from one of mom-centric "parenting" (mothering?) magazine sites compared Montessori programs with other programs and talked about how Montessori programs work hard to include the parents in the educational process. This was sort of the final straw. Our homework had hinted that this would be the case when selecting the school, but our experience was so completely different. There are countless other things that were reasons for us not continuing. Today's pick-up was confirmation that we had made the right choice. The directress said good-bye and good luck and all that to Shane and then turns to me to tell me that we really needed to work on Shane's listening. What! You're telling me this now. I have been asking for feedback and guidance for eight months and you're telling me this now? I told her that we were very disappointed that we had not been getting this feedback, and that it was one of the reasons for us not continuing. I just couldn't believe her audacity!

Friday, April 23, 2004

Holding a Grudge
We kept Shane home from school today thinking that it would nice for Shane and Mon to spend some quality time together. Mon had noticed that "Clifford's Big Red Movie" was coming out today, and thought a matinee would be a special mom-and-son thing to do since she had been away as long as she had. When Mon pitched it to Shane, he flat out refused, citing his being mad at her for going to Las Vegas without him. I felt really bad for both of them. And couldn't fix it.

While Mon was away, she would call and talk to both kids, and I would show them on the map or globe where Mommy was and remind them that she was thinking about them, but its just not the same. Later in the day, he mentioned that the next time Monica goes to Las Vegas, she should take him with her. We'll see.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Liv has been saying "Mine" for a few days now. Its kind of funny -- reminds me of the seagulls in "Nemo". It's kind of neat -- she's learning to assert herself against a bigger, stronger, older brother. And it's kind of obnoxious -- sometimes says it when not provoked. But she's learning and that is good.

That's my Boy!
Tonight was a late night. After dinner we went outside to play -- it was a gorgeous night right up until it started to rain. We were out front swinging and about ready to wrap it up to come inside and start the bedtime routine when a neighbor walked over to complain about the algae and the overall condition of the neighborhood lake (as prez of Community Ass. I get alot of these complaints) and we ended up talking until well after 8pm, and well after Liv's bedtime, and well after the start of the Flyers game. [I am a big hockey fan and even bigger Flyers fan, and during the playoffs I get sucked in pretty good.] So when we finally got inside it still took a few minutes to get her ready. Shane asked if he could have his Shrek popcorn -- I didn't realize it was actually green when I bought it. I made the popcorn and put Miffy on the boob tube, while I got Liv ready for bed. Once she was down, I told Shane that once Miffy was over we were going to go read. But with five minutes left, I realized that tonight really should have been bath night for both kids, but especially Shane with his injured toe. Falling behind on time and energy, I cut another deal. I told Shane that if he soaked his foot in a lukewarm bath of salt water for five minutes, he could watch another show. From Comcast's onDemand, he chose Dora the Explorer: Beach which proved appropriate. I ended up bringing one of his little chairs into the LR and put the front legs down on one of our beach towels and then put one of our size 12K+ casseroles on the towel in front of the chair. With his foot in the mini bath, he got this excited look on his face, and said, "This is like the beach Dad." After Dora was over he still had some popcorn left, so I offered to let him stay up and watch hockey until his popcorn was gone or he could go to bed. Guess which he chose. Sitting on sofa in my arms watching hockey, eating popcorn, and I think secretly trying to wait for Mommy to come home, he turns and says, " Daddy, I love hockey!" I didn't know if I should be crushed or excited or what. When he started I thought he was going to tell me that he loved me, but I found myself finding satisfaction in the idea of watching him play someday and of us watching more hockey together. Also, I suspect that he loved staying up late and eating green popcorn.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Chez Chastain
Kristin invited Shane, Liv, and me over for dinner. We had actually spent some time with them at the park on Monday, which was when she learned that I was flying solo with the kids and suggested that I might want to bring the kids for dinner and a bit of break. It was a strange weather day, starting out nice and then quickly deteriorating to cold, windy and threatening rain. But when we got there around 3:30 we all played outside for a bit until the two younger kids got cold and hungry. Kristin and I headed inside with them while Shane and Nick stayed outside. Watching them out the back windows, it wasn't long before we see the two boys running over to Curt's shed. Nick makes the corner and completely disappears behind the shed. Shane, obviously not as experienced (thankfully), doesn't make the corner and starts to pull his pants down to his ankles -- as he does to pee. We can see clearly listening to the obscured Nick, who must have told him to come all the way around to the back of the shed. Shane pulls up his pants, and goes around to the back of the shed -- although we can still see him b/c of the angle on which the shed sits -- pull his pants down again, and pee on the back of the shed. A later conversation confirmed that this was how his mentor had instructed him.

At dinner, the three boys sat at the small table together, and given that it was three ACTIVE boys eating together, they were all very well behaved. At one point, without promting, Shane said to Kristin, "Thank you, Kristin, for making this pasta for me." We were all trying a new wild rice pasta that was actually very good. The adults had grilled cod rubbed with Old Bay -- yum! -- and the children had grilled chicken. Broccoli all around.

After dinner, Curt and I went down to the basement with the kids to check out his progress on finishing it. It is coming along great, but I wouldn't expect anything less from Curt. But while talking about the details, trials and tribulations, etc. of such a project the kids were all playing in the saw dust with no shoes on [I know, I know -- at least I held Liv up off the floor]. When it was time to go upstairs, I noticed that Shane was standing awkwardly -- one foot on top of the other. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there was blood on the bottom of his right foot and immediately assumed that he had stepped on something. As the bleeding didn't seem too bad, I started to look for the object that he had stepped on, so that noone else would do the same. After finding a few candidates I noticed his left big toe -- the one he had been standing on. It had a good sized gash on it. I asked him what happened and he finally told me that he had been trying to carry "that board" -- a 2 foot by 3 foot laminated MDF shelf board -- when he dropped it on his toe. Given the size of the board and the size of the wound, Curt and I could not believe that he didn't cry or wimper or anything. In fact, the only time he cried at all was when we cleaned it out and put anti-bac cream on it.

Besides the injury, what a great way to break up my week! Thanks Curt and Kristin!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Busy Day
Playgroup is at the park. Which is fine, except that today some child not from our group throws sand in Shane's eyes. With no apology and without asking if Shane is OK, the other boy's mother comes over and whisks him away. The fact that I have recently put sunscreen on both kids exaserbates the problem as Shane begins to rub the sand out of his eyes. Within 15 minutes, I have other parents offering me the name and number of pediatric opthalmologists because his eye is so red and swollen. Rinsing with clean water and dabbing seems to be all the work our patient needs (for the time being.)

Eating lunch at home, I swear Olivia says, "I love you!"

Tonight is bath night. After stripping Liv down for the tub, and while waiting for the tub to fill, I realize that I have to pee. Fortunately, we're already in the bathroom, so I can just pee without incident, right? Wrong. As I am peeing Liv falls like three times, and I'm thinking "Here we go with the ear infections again." But as I finish up and walk over to where she is and is falling I notice that the floor is all wet. Apparently, she needed to pee as well, and now has pee all over her arms, legs, hands, and belly. Which, of course proceeds to get all over the top of tub and surround while we're STILL waiting for some semblance of warm water. Anyway, we finally get in the tub, and things are going really will, right up until she poops in the tub. We were essentially finished but now I feel compelled to drain tub, and rewash her. Then, as we are refilling the tub she touches the hottish water coming in and screams bloody murder. we got through it though. next...

Monday, April 19, 2004

On the Big Jobs
This morning, during our AM ritual of getting juice Shane asks me, "Why are my pants wet?" I shoot a quick glance -- none of it is on the outside of his pants, probably just a bit of PPD. I quickly respond, "I don't know. Maybe you had a little tinkle accident." Shane gets that serious, I'm-thinking-about-that, scrunched up look on his face and comes back with, "Yeah, that happens on the big jobs."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Today Monica leaves for Las Vegas. Leaving before the kids wake and returning late Thursday (much after bedtime) I will be on own for essentially five days. And while I am sure it won't be easy, I don't think it'll be as tough as many of the people I talk to predict. Mostly they're guys who don't stay home or women who don't know any other SAHDs besides me.

As an addendum, I will say that already today, Shane has been acting out a bit -- a bit rough with and (I hate to admit it) downright mean to Olivia. Hopefully, this can be nipped in the bud.

Olivia (just under 14 months) amazes me daily. Not having been home with Shane his first 2 years, I am realizing how much truly awesome stuff I missed. Don't get me wrong, I am seeing the frustrating stuff I missed too, but can't help but wonder how I might have handled things differently (dare I say, better) than his daycare setting. Anyway, Liv was looking for some juice today -- I think I had just given Shane some -- and she comes over saying "Juush" and rubbing her belly (sign language for please). I say, "Livvy, go get your juice cup." She'd already started one. She gave me this blank-ish stare to which I responded, "Where's your green juice cup?" This was enough to jog her memory. She waddled over to exactly where she'd left it and brought it back over to me. Go synapses!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Egg Hunting
Shane, Olivia and Collett were hunting for Easter Eggs at Nonna and Pop-pop's today. They were all so cute. Mom and Dad are leaving for China on Monday, so we celebrated Easter today, Saturday. Look for pictures soon.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Today, I took the kids to the mall. We needed some things for rounding out Easter outfits and such. Both kids were so good. It was pretty awesome. We practiced QVC's "fun along the way". We were a little silly, doing stuff like "hiding" and having races. At one point, as we were nearing the food court to grab lunch, we walked past the Easter bunny. I am doing my usual mental gymnastics trying to figure out how to get around this one -- past excuses have included "you're not in good enough clothes" or "your hair is too messy" to get a picture with the bunny. In those instances where I've lacked the intestinal fortitude to hand the credit card over to the Holiday Machine, Shane still insists on getting as close as possible to the furrily costumed creature and waving. Today, after a mental image of this poor child going through his whole life being that kid who never got to get his picture taken with the Bunny, I cracked and did surrender. We got in line to sit with the Bunny. Much to my surprise, Olivia was also very excited to see the Easter Bunny, and was practically diving out of my arms to get to him (or her). When we were in the on-deck circle, one of the assistants asked if we decided upon a package. I asked if we could defer until we saw how it turned out. We've been burned before with Santa. Well, today, the stars along with the planets most be aligned. Shane and Olivia both smiled and were both looking right at the camera for the pic. The only potential downside, it was all I could do to get my kids back from the big rabbit. He (likely) or she seemed a little too hands-on with the kids. Maybe I'm just paranoied. But either way, we had a great day and have a great photo to help us remember it.

Tonight, while waiting over an hour to get a haircut for Shane, I was talking to one of the guys at the shop who has cut my hair before. He asked "where are the kids?", "is that one of them there?", and "are you still a stay-at-home dad?" We were in the waiting area and he was back in the cutting area. I felt like everyone in the shop was looking at me and listening to our conversation. Shane gets to talking to the kid (probably 8 or 9 y.o.) next to him, and his mom. After the L.O.R. blood and gore explanation, the conversation turned to pets. Shane said that we wanted all these dogs. The Mom says "You better have a Mom who doesn't mind taking care of pets." Maybe she wasn't listening that previous discussion, but I am still so amazed by how many people are surprised that I do the laundry and (most of) the cooking even as a SAHD.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Two Left Feet
Shane has a couple pairs of slip-on shoes, essentially shoes that do not need to be tied to be worn. He still has a little trouble getting the right shoe on the right foot. This day Shane had a mismatched pair and they were both lefts. I looked at him and said, "Hey kid, you've got two left feet." He didn't get it. Maybe I need to get out more.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Witnessed by Monica --> Shane: " I love you, Livvy. I will always take care of you."

God, I love these kids!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Olivia just stumbled and bumped her head on the table which serves as a TV stand in the den. She fussed a little, look at me as I was bending to pick her up, pointed to her head and said "Bump" (sounded more like "buupp" but I'm giving her credit for it).

I have some posts to fill in between here and the last post, I've been old school and actually making notes by putting pen to paper to keep things fresh, just have to transfer.