Wednesday, May 26, 2004

added pics from aquarium trip. enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A Day
Went out for a group ride tonight -- I needed a little time away. About 35 folks who ride a hell of a lot faster than this SAHD who hasn't been out much lately. Needless to say, I got dropped pretty hard. While I was out Mon fed and ate with the munchkins. Both kids eating crab cakes for the first time. Mon really tries to sell the fried mushballs to Shane, "Mmmm, aren't these delicious." Shane takes a bite, "Ummm, yeah, they are good, but I don't like them."

So, why did I need a little time away? We had two hitting incidents at playgroup today. First, one of our friends got hit on the head with the oversized wiffle ball bat. Then, after a warning that any more hitting incidents would lead to our departure, we had a second incident where a different friend was hit in the face. I thought we were on track for a great day. Everyone was doing great in the morning. We had no issues. Shane and I rode bikes with Liv in the trailer to our friends house for playgroup. Not sure what's going on. Except that there are two boys who are a year older than Shane who get together and can be quite mean, especially for whatever reason to Shane. They even pull our friend Jack, who's Shane's age, into the action from time to time. Whether related or not, I should mention Jack was the second hitting victim. Of the two instigators, the one boy, we'll call him David, is usually quite nice to Shane. It just gets complicated when this other boy is around. The other boy might be a direct descendant of Satan despite his biblically inspired name, but lets call him Louis. Another Mom and I have noticed and discussed Louis' behavior several times, and, perhaps especially the fact that his mother is completely oblivious to it. It's a bit unsettling.

Another recent worry is Shane's stated desire for Mon to stay home. I don't know if this is a phase. I like to think that I am about as caring and loving and supportive and fun as a parent can be. Maybe he sees all the other Moms at playgroup and at the park and wants his situation to be the same. Maybe I am trying too hard and he senses some stress. He said something about it to Mon tonight while she was getting dinner ready, and he and Liv were coloring at the table. He also asked on why she had to go to work and why Daddy couldn't go to work. My first 360 degree feedback from my charges is not the glowing report I had hoped for. Back to the drawing board.?

Monday, May 24, 2004

the daily yak
just stumbled across this guy. another dad who blogs. fun to read and funny. check it out: the daily yak

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Fare Thee Well, Scotty!
Party at Mom and Dad's to sent Scott-O off to San Mancisco. Scott is a great dude and we will miss him sorely, but he is pursuing a great opportunity in his career field. Go Scott! I'm sure you'll do great! Monica and I sometimes think back to one of our first dates where I had to pick Scott up from soccer practice before we went out. There he was "playing goalie" but actually squatting in the field checking out ants. It was pretty adorable. Monica thought that I must have been a pretty good guy b/c of how much I cared about this little brother of mine. So, thanks Scott for helping me get the girl of my dreams (even if we fooled her) and for being my brother.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

National Aquarium
Went to National Aquarium in Baltimore today. What a great experience. Baltimore's Inner Harbor was clean and vibrant and alive. It made the idea of city life seem exciting. Dolphin show was ehhh. The dolphins themselves were great. I just wished the MC would have done less talking and allowed the dolphins to show off their talents more. After all, its called a DOLPHIN SHOW, not a wannabe actor/marine mammal trainer show. Anyway, it was still pretty cool. We sat in the "Splash Zone" and the kids both got soaked. Shane's first rxn was to laugh, but then rethought it and stole Kristen's jacket from off her lap to hide from subsequent splashing. Liv did NOT like getting unexpectedly splashed.

The facility itself is pretty neat. Olivia love climbing up on the little built-in foot stools in front of most of the displays. It was neat to watch her protect her space on the step from three older boys without being overly aggressive, mean, or agitated. It was if she was saying, "Look, I have a right to be here, too. Don't mess with me." A stranger who was eerily going the same pace as us in the nearly empty aquarium, even noticed her ability to hold her own, and told me I should sign her up for soccer. I'm thinking Harvard Business School.

After getting what should have been a quick bite to eat, but nothing is as quick as you'd think when two adults are outnumbered 2-to-1 by children in an unfamiliar town, we got ice cream and went down to the outdoor ampitheater where there was a steel drum band playing. We listened and dance for quite a while. It was neat to see the kids interacting and playing with kids from various cultures. Got home well after ten.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Must've Failed Math!
Yesterday at an unfamiliar grocery store with both kids. Liv is teething so outings are a bit more manic than usual. In my haste to pay and exit, I hopped into a line that was relatively short. After placing about half of my 30 or so items, and now with an elderly lady behind me in line, a middle-aged lady walks by and I notice a perturbed look on her face as I'm turning back and forth loading the belt. She mutters something to the elderly lady. It takes me a few to figure out what she said. But then it comes to me, "He must've failed math in school." I look up at the aisle light/sign that indicates whether or not the aisle is open. Sure enough, "12 items or less." Now I feel like an ass. I apologize profusely to the elderly lady behind me and offer to let her go in front of me. She declines, indicating that its an understandable mistake, especially for a father with two kids. I say [not to her] it's an understandable mistake for anyone shopping with two kids -- especially when the item limit lanes aren't at the end where they are in most other stores. My wife did it once recently and said that no one should have to go to the store with two children.

Being a SAHD, I find that many people are more open to giving me some leniency. Which can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It's good for me -- hey, let's forgive the well-meaning but somewhat bumbling dad. It's not good for the movement away from gender-stereotyped roles for M and D -- reinforces the image of a bumbling father when it comes to the care of children and home. [That JCPenney commercial "Where's your mother" used to make my blood boil.] The funny thing about it is that I'm really not a bumbler. I do pretty well in the grocery and other stores, I keep a reasonable house, and I am working to raise two happy, well-adjusted, and loving children.

oh, yeah. I saw the woman who criticized my math skillz in the lot. I couldn't help but assure her that I hadn't failed math, and in fact, obtained an engineering degree with honors from an Ivy League school. I reminded her that sometimes people make mistakes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Mother Hens
I have been wanting for sometime to write a piece about SAHD's and the rxn from SAHM's in various settings -- this isn't it, just a warm-up. My experiences have been so varied depending on setting. Yesterday, again at Dupont, we were on our way out when both kids spotted one of the many activity centers attached to the wall. It was already being used by two older girls, probably sisters, so my guys just kind of hung back waiting their turn. I, too, stopped, waiting for my children. The mother of the girls, probably 30 feet away, assumedly finishing up the business part of their visit, sees me and immediately calls the girls to come huddle under her wings. I am pushing a stroller, wearing a diaper bag (well, OK, it IS a messenger bag, but it's got a sippy cup in the mesh pocket on either side), and walking with mini-me and his obvious sister. I am clean shaven, and wearing clean clothes. Lady, I am not going to steal or otherwise hurt your children. Similar scenarios have happened just about everywhere. Yes, statistically speaking, men are more likely to do the kinds of things I can only imagine she was afraid of, but SAHD's buck every other trend and statistic, can't you give us a break on this one?

The flip side of this is that my neighborhood playgroup has been extremely inclusive, and couldn't be a better resource. Thanks!
Today was a good day. We have been getting a bit nervous about the difficulty Shane exhibits in listening and behaving. But through reading some websites and books, we have developed some strategies to improve how we react to his behavior (good and bad) and his desire to listen, and well as giving him more structure and tools to help him. Also, we are working to remember that he IS three.

Playgroup today was at the park. Which is cool, but this particular park has practically no shade, and my kids couldn't be much more fair complected, and it was hazy, hot and humid. So, of course, we did the sunscreen before leaving for the park and some other errands. Picking up Shane's prescriptions at the pharmacist, he somehow rubbed some errant sunscreen into his eyes. So, we ended up back at home before the park. After thoroughly rinsing his eyes, we were once again ready to go. Just once minor incident at the park where we had a little talk about how to treat our friends. Shane likes to play pretty rough, some of his friends don't. After our talk, they both met in the middle.

Olivia continues to amaze me. She was climbing all over the playground like a pro. A couple of the moms commented on how athletic and coordinated she is given her age. It was validation of what I had suspected, but thought was maybe my biased view. She saw 2 samoyeds, and ran over to say hi, giggling and squealing the whole way. I joked with the owner that she doesn't really like dogs. They were really friendly, beautiful animals. The heat seemed a bit much for them though.

The mention of the dogs reminds me yesterday's visit to the Allergy/Asthma department at A.I. DuPont. We were down there b/c the little man has had a cough going on about a month or so, that has just kind of lingered. We weren't sure if it is/was allergy/asthma related -- he's been off the Pulmicort for about 6 months now AND grown like a weed in that period -- or if it is/was something else. Docs aren't sure either, so they re-tested all his environmental and food allergies via the skin test. It was awful. He was crying and fighting the process even before the skin pricks, just when the nurse was writing the nums on his back with a ball point. As I held (restrained) him on my lap, chest to chest, and alternated between giving him kisses and telling him, "It's OK" my eyes were welling up a bit. The poor guy was not happy about this and I was contributing to it. The good news is that he seems to have outgrown his walnut, dog, and dust allergies. The bad news is that the eggs blew up like they always do. But even that has a silver lining. His immunoGap -- the measurement they do with the blood tests -- on the eggs is dropping. His doc indicated that he has seen this before, where the skin is more reactive than the body's other systems, and since the iG is dropping, he predicts that within 6 months we can do an egg challenge. I had Olivia with me for this visit (as I do for most visits). I put her in the stroller and gave her a snack and drink to keep her occupied during the test. At first, she watched very intently, but as Shane struggled more and more, she got very upset. Their bond is really neat. However,...

... they are often partners in crime. During the waiting phases of the visit, the two would open the back door of the room at try to wander out. Behaviorly, this was very frustrating and embarrassing (especially when the doc would be in trying to talk to me) and really led me to get more serious about this listening and behaving thing. But now 24 hours removed, I realize that they were waiting alot yesterday, and there wasn't much for them to do. I had brought toys and books, but we had been through it all. That's not to say we can't improve.

If you made it through all that, congrats and thanks for reading.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Mother's Day
My mom and dad, Grandma, and Jess came over to celebrate Mother's Day as well as celebrate my parent's safe return from China. After lunch, we were treated to Mom and Dad's digital pics -- all 500+ of them. But it was really cool. We only lost one audience member, and even at that it was for a very short time. Shane got to spend some one-on-one time with my Mom, whom he absolutely adores. They went for a bike ride -- he rode, she walked. One car drove by -- perhaps new neighbors -- and waved. They waved back. Shane told my Mom that sometimes people drive by and he takes one hand off and waves and they say he's a cutie-pie. My mom asked if she waved would people say she was a cutie-pie. He said yes.

The normally outgoing and gregarious Liv has been going through a shy patch. She would just bury her head in my or Mon's chest when asked to say Hello.

Thanks Monica, Mom, and Grandma for all you do! Thank you Monica for giving us these wonderful kids!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. There were five families from our neighborhood that went down together. As we were getting ready, Shane asked why we were meeting at Jon-Jon's house. I told him that Jon-Jon's mom had arranged the trip and that all the moms and dads were going to meet there to follow each other down to the zoo. He said, "Dad, there aren't going to be any other dads there." Anyway, the zoo was awesome. It was Olivia's first time where she was able to respond to and attempt to interact with the animals. I tried to take still photos and found myself wishing I had brought the video camera. The stills just couldn't capture her excitement the way video might have. She loved everything; monkeys, peacocks, birds, bears, giraffes. You name it. At each exhibit, she would tense up so tight that you thought she might stop breathing, bend over at the waist, point, and practically yell, "Oouuu, oooouuu."

Shane had a good time too. He found a pair of glasses used in the primate exhibit to show how lemurs are color-blind and have to rely on their keen sense of smell to determine which fruits are ripe enough for eating. All the kids got in on the act. I think they all just lliked wearing the glasses, but hopefully got something out of the lesson.

I just put Shane down for a nap -- hence my ability to write now. But as we were laying there reading and telling stories, he told me that he didn't have a drink. "That's interesting", I said. "May I please...", he says. So I go off and get it. Since we had been out grocery shopping just before lunch, his cup was still in the car. So it took a while longer to gather the cup than if it had been in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house -- and I did grab myself a cookie. After I had exceeded what he must have thought a reasonable amount of time to produce the juice, he calls to me, "Dad, don't get off your focus!" My own words (slightly altered) used against me!

Our Town
Tonight, we rode into town to hit the library and get a bite for dinner. I rode my mountain bike with the kids in the trailer. Mon rode her bike solo. It was the kind of thing that we thought we would do more of when we had children and moved to this house. We need to do it more often. We ate at Penn's Table, which is a bit of a greasy spoon for me. But it was just good to get out as a family.

Tonight, reading a story about Lars the polar bear. Shane asks, "How do you make polar bears?" I asked, "Do you mean how do you draw polar bears or how does God make polar bears?" "How does God make polar bears." Mon answers, "He puts cells together." Shane interrupts, "What are cells?" Monica and I are both stammering. And Shane goes, "Anyone?" Where does he learn this stuff?

Today, when we walked into the restroom at Wegman's (yes, we have returned there) Shane says, "Wow, this is a nice bathroom, and they have such pretty music."

Olivia has gotten to be so much fun, she was in such a great mood today, except during aforementioned trailer ride. I cannot put a long-sleeved shirt on her without her playing this game where we look for the hand and the other end of the sleeve. She laughs and laughs and laughs. And, oh yeah, she's gotten two of her molars. Both first molars on the top. Her left came through about 3 weeks ago, and the right about 1 week ago. Pretty exact there, huh?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Was that you...
Tuesday playgroup, details to follow...

...I'm back. Playgroup was at the park again. We took our bikes, scooters, and other assorted ride-on toys. As we were unloading, a pickup truck goes flying through the parking lot. I say, half under my breath, "Slow down, tough guy!" Shane asks me who I am talking to. I didn't think he had heard me, but I find myself explaining the whole thing. As we walked over to meet our friends, I assumed it was done.

Later, I was up on the climbing apparatus with Liv, and Shane was very nicely sharing his scooter with his friends. While one of his friends was riding the scooter he came over to ask for his bike. I reminded him where we had parked it -- by the bike rack near the parking lot and the walking path which circumnavigates the park -- and told him that I could see him the whole way from the climber and that he could get it by himself. I split my time between being goofy with Liv and watching Shane. Well, he gets over to the bike, I turn away to "roar" at Liv, and when I look back he's talking to a man. Normally, that would be fine. But given our physical separation and their proximity to the path and the parking lot, every fiber in my body tensed up in primal flight-and-fight. I pick up Liv and start working over in that direction, jumping down from the climber with Liv in my arms. A few steps later, they separate and Shane starts walking back in our direction. Phew! Once close enough, I asked Shane what he and the man were talking about. He says, "I asked him if he was the man driving too fast through the parking lot." No fear. It's a little scary.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Welcome Home
Today my parents return from China. My understudies and I painted a banner to celebrate them and their safe return. Creating the banner was equal parts patience and frustration. We managed to not only paint the banner, but also the floor, the rug, the cozy coupe cars, and most importantly ourselves. I just hope that non-toxic is truly non-toxic.

It is amazing how close I feel to my parents now given the crap we've been through. While I have realized it for many years now, the fatherhood thing, the staying home, and now this recent trip -- given its duration and geographical separation --have really driven home just how much I love them. It is important, I think, to remember this, for there was a time when I didn't think we'd ever see eye to eye on much of anything much less share the mutual respect and love that we do now. And some day, when Shane and Liv don't think I'm as cool as they do now -- and I'm sure they will -- , hopefully this perspective can provide some light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Forgot to Floss
Last night, Monica took some of her company's overseas (UK) staff out for dinner. The two apprentices (apprenti?) and I treated ourselves to a fun and easy-to-cook meal: grilled steak and corn-on-the-cob. Shane is an old pro with the corn. Liv had only had it once previously. Last night, she did great. Almost completely cleaning one half of an ear, and cleaning out about half of the second half. During dinner, Shane showed me that he had gotten some of the corn stuck between his teeth. I tried to show him how to use his tongue to pull it out, and told him that after dinner, it that didn't work, we could use some dental floss to clean it out.

Probably needless to say given the pace and chaos which have descended upon the household, the corn and the flossing were forgotten somewhere between eating and going to bed. However, Shane woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and woke Monica up to tell her that we had forgotten to floss. We don't always floss (I know, I know) and she hadn't been there for the corn conversation, and so didn't really know what was going on. But she fumbled around with the floss and managed to get the string between a couple of teeth at a groggy 2am. That satisfied him and he was back to bed. Its just so amazing how their little minds work. I doubt he had any discomfort or annoyances remaining from the corn, but he had stored somewhere that we needed to floss and couldn't rest easily until that box was checked off.