Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Pumpkins

I had nothing to do with this. This was entirely, 100% my wife, although I did clean the dishes and eat the pie. Before, During & After follow:

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today, The Boy went off with Mum to visit a friend up in Wexford. This family has a 3-year old (born close to The Boy, I believe) and a pregnant Mommy, so The Wife heads up there every once in a while to entertain children so that Mommy can have some rest. That left me at home with Younger Bro, who petered out - as he is wont to do - around 10 o'clock, leaving me with household work to do.

How did my mother get any housework done with four boys running insanely around the house? I don't get it. With an infant, an 11-year old, an 8-year old, and a 7-year old running around... well, actually, that probably describes it. One infant is not that much to handle, particularly since I've always been a napper and was never a particularly busy child. (My boys have inherited my ability to entertain myself, even though I am an attention whore.) I wonder what the shape of the household was like when my oldest three brothers were 5, 2, and 1.

I know that putting toys away is a fairly useless endeavor. No matter how well you organize the puzzles, the crayons, the markers, the game pieces, and the balls, they will resume their skirmish positions around the room in short order. And, when you start to put toys away with children around, those toys become magnetically attractive to both boys. We do what we must do, as often as possible, and it dents the mess somewhat.

We have not started with the putting-toys-away thing, the clean-up time, with the boys yet. It's something that comes to mind fairly often. I'm not entirely sure how to proceed with something like that, but I'm reasonably certain that "Do you want The Boy to put those toys away, or Daddy? And, if Daddy does it, the toys won't be there tomorrow!" will work. Maybe that's an after-dinner thing. I'll talk it over with The Wife. Granted, we'll have to re-organize how we store toys in the living room at home - right now there are three tiny plastic bins and a large pile of toys under a spare piano bench (don't ask) instead of a toy chest or shelves or shelves of bins, like in their room.

Giving a thorough cleaning to, say, bathroom and kitchen isn't as much of an issue. It's generally done when one child is napping and the other is being chased by another person. But, if the children are demanding attention, that can be difficult or impossible.

What do you do, to help your children clean up after themselves and/or get a reasonable room, or is it a not-worth-it battle?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Grandma, today, told us that she contacted one of the local temples, a Reform temple in town, about membership for us, specifically because this particular temple has a wonderful pre-school program for which we are eligible for scholarship money. The Wife later told me that she thought that it was a three day per week thing, with some potential for full school day length activities (until 3 o'clock), which does solve a few logistical issues for us. There isn't a spot for January for Younger Bro - the 18 month programs fill up faster - but that's not necessarily the point.

Now, prior to The Boy's diagnosis, I was not in favor of pre-school. I figured that we would be able to provide a richer experience for him at home, or with a single sitter: library programs, baby'n'me programs, the zoo, the children's museums, etc., etc., etc. And, before Younger Bro was born, we might have been correct with that. With one child who is 2 or 3 years old, significant socialization experiences and learning experiences can be given and scheduled pretty easily. However, there are a couple of considerations that have risen.

First consideration is the socialization delay that The Boy has experienced due to his cancer diagnosis. The fact is, for the past two and a half years, he has not been able to socialize with anyone outside of the immediate family and grandparents on any regular basis. Bringing him around other kids has been dangerous to his health. Kids learn by experience and by observation: by being around other kids, and seeing what they can do, and showing off what they can do, they learn an awful lot. (Many will say, naturally, that kids learn more from each other in school than from the teachers. The egotistical teacher inside of me would like to believe that it isn't true, but that's also the guy who isn't employed, so take his opinion with a grain of salt.) When your kid is part of a playgroup, or a baby class, or a day care experience, they are learning by watching and participating with the group. Younger children show that on a regular basis, when they pick up skills earlier than their siblings because they're watching and observing a child perform the skill.

Not having that experience has been a handicap for The Boy. He's more than a little bit behind, socially and physically, and he doesn't do many things that your average 3-year old does. Granted, he has his own skill set - he knows letters (Hebrew and English) and letter sounds and draws letters and numbers pretty darn well, and few kids at 3 know the entire book of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog. But, we do want him to get a little "shock treatment" when it comes to socialization, and I'd rather that happen at 3 than at 12.

The second consideration is the employment situation. If one (or both) boy(s) are cared for during a chunk of the school day, then life is made considerably easier for whichever of us is at home. One child - even an energetic, busy child like Younger Bro - is fairly simple for which to care. That allows us to have one full-time job (or temp position, like I'm starting on Monday) AND the other parent to work some part-time employment (substitute teaching or temping or both) without fear. Realistically, this way, we can build up some fairly substantial capital for when we go house shopping when (and if) one of us finally lands a teaching job. Even if the hours aren't quite lined up with what we'd need as a full-time teacher, then the hours might be more amenable to help from Grandma or friends.

The third consideration is, of course, The Boy's health. Children are little germ factories, and it's a reasonably accepted hypothesis that exposure to dirt and germs and mold and such as a child promotes immunity and health in later life. Of course, when you're a cancer patient and have no immune system, that hypothesis breaks down. The Boy is off-treatment for seven months, and his immune system should be back up to par. I'm not thrilled about putting it through a normal workout, but better he get the colds and sniffles and other yucky stuff now than when he's supposed to be in school. This is the only one that's a holdup; Dr. Graves said that we might want to hold off on a full-time daycare center at this point. If this is a 60% thing, that might be a good compromise. Still not sure.

The fourth consideration is The Boy's academic success. This, to me, is kind of a lesser concern. There's no correlation whatsoever in a child's preschool activities and his collegiate academic success, even though many parents would like to believe that introducing their toddler to vector calculus will turn them into the next Albert Einstein. Sorry, but it's not likely, unless the parents are Albert's intellectual equals already. If you're normal, slightly-above-average folks, then your child is probably going to be a normal, slightly-above-average kid. That's how it works. The kid might be a mutant and inherit super-intelligence; it certainly happens. It's not likely. I don't really see that putting him in preschool, or NOT putting him in preschool, is going to make him smarter or more successful. Some of the extra skills he might pick up are nice, but aside from tying his shoes and learning how to go to the potty before he poops his pants, I'm not optimistic in this regards.

Fifth consideration is religious knowledge and skills. I'd love for him to learn Hebrew reading and singing and speaking, and I'd love for him to learn more about the Jewish world outside of the Musical Household. That's an awesome thing, and something I'm very interested in. Growing up Catholic, I never really felt connected to my faith; never had friends at my church, despite my parents' efforts to keep me involved with the youth groups and trips and such. If The Boy could get around that and develop friends and a connection with his faith, then I feel like he'll have a better chance for long-term happiness.

So, first consideration is extremely important and says do it. Second consideration is important and says do it. Third consideration is moderately important and says don't do it yet. Fourth consideration is not important and says do it. Fifth consideration is important and says do it. Your vote is?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much Structure?

(Side note: everyone on Chuck upgraded from iPhone 3GSs last season to iPhone 4s this season. Apparently, at the Buy-More retail chain, they make decent money.)

When I'm watching the children, and when I watch Grandma play with the children, I'm struck by the difference in our styles. I'm not saying one is better than the other; children need a variety of different types of people and perspectives in their lives in order to develop a well-rounded sense of understanding. I think.

Anyway, what I notice is that my parenting style, when playing with the boys, tends to be mostly child-directed. I'll let them play by themselves as much as they want, and I play with them when they want. That has the drawback of having a difficult time getting them to do what I'd like them to do, but it does have the advantage of teaching the children how to entertain themselves. I'm very content to sit and watch them play with their toys, and climb up and down on the furniture. Younger Bro, in particular, is very, very busy and does not sit still for any length of time.

When they want or need interaction, we play together. I help The Boy with puzzles or whatever toy he's got, or tackle or chase him around. The "gonna get you" game is a really, really good one with many different potentialities. Even YB is starting to get involved with that one; when I say, "Gonna get you!", he starts screaming giggles and occasionally starts running away. Sometimes, he'll just fall over, laughing, and wait to be tackled. It's very cute. This morning, YB actually joined me in chasing after The Boy and tackling his big brother.

Grandma, on the other hand, does an amazing job at interacting with the boys. She gets them looking at letters and numbers on the computer, or watching Sesame Street, or doing arts and crafts projects. It's extraordinary to watch. The Boy doesn't willingly do art projects with me, beyond asking me to write letters or numbers on paper or with chalk. And yet, he somehow manages to work with Grandma. Of course, there are tradeoffs... the boys generally don't play "gonna get you" with Grandma, but she doesn't necessarily seem to mind very much.

Kids need different types of people around them, which is one reason that I'm glad that they get to spend so much time with me, with The Wife, with Grandma, with both Grandpas, and the other people with whom he spends time. What do you notice about the people who care for your children?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Little Monkey

Younger Bro is a climber. He will get on top of any available surfaces that he can find, and he will climb as high as he can, without any fear or care for consequences or next steps. It's all developmentally appropriate, I understand; I just wish he would take the time to learn to climb down things (like stairs) without going headfirst.

I've found him standing on the piano keyboard, on the puzzle cabinet, on the kitchen table, on the dining room table (well, not quite; caught him before he got fully up), and on the coffee tables. He's tried numerous times to climb into and out of the bathtub, and when asked the question, "Do you want to take a bath?" responds by chanting "Bath! Bath! Bath!" as he sprints for the stairs, climbs up, walk/runs into the bathroom, and turns on the hot water faucet. Not ideal, but still pretty darn cute.

The latest is climbing up onto the black chairs in the kitchen, to sit at the low table. I would love to let him eat his meals there, but he doesn't quite grasp the concept of picking up food from a plate or a bowl without knocking the bowl over. We still try every once in a while, but not consistently. I would bet that, with steady practice, he'd get it; I'm not sure if I want to spend the time making each meal two or three times.

This is in stark contrast to The Boy at fifteen (almost sixteen) months. The Boy was sitting at the table and eating; he was a lot more careful with his fine motor control than Younger Bro, who tends to respond like Bam-Bam from the Flintstones. He had had his second major surgery in five months and was two treatments into his relapse therapy. The etoposide had caused relatively significant developmental delays, and he wasn't really walking full-time yet. His climbing was not nearly as well developed, although he could identify a few more letters than YB can. YB is a lot more vocal than The Boy is; The Boy knew as many words, I think, but didn't have as much to say. Getting regularly pumped with large amounts of toxic chemicals will do that to you, I guess.

I'm struck, on a daily basis, how different my children are from each other. It's more than just being two different people; it's two entirely different developmental plans. The Boy's experience, and our experience as parents, was shaped almost entirely by his cancer diagnosis and treatments. Every waking moment of every day, by fifteen / sixteen months of his life, was spent dealing with cancer issues: sterilizing toys, our house, ourselves; avoiding contact with other kids except on those rare "high counts" days; recognizing that he was in mortal danger before he knows what those words mean. Even the little things, like snuggling and sleeping, are different. We'll let Younger Bro cry himself out a little bit when he goes to sleep. We know the difference between the "I'm crying because I'm tired and need to rest but am upset about it" cry and the "I'm crying because you put me in the stupid crib and I'm not going to sleep no matter what you have to say about it" cry, and it's not a big deal for any of us - him included - for a few minutes of crying. With The Boy, we hated to let him cry for any length of time because:

1) he had a rough enough time without us adding to it by forcing him to do things like sleep by himself; and

2) he was already on multiple blood pressure medications, and we were afraid he'd send himself into cardiac arrest if he freaked out too much.

Slightly different attitudes and ideas, no? YB has been a crier since birth, The Boy less so. Sick children are frequently more affectionate because of their need, and YB has been anything but.

The last two nights, YB has made more-than-cameo appearances in our family bed. He's stayed for at least an hour each time, snuggling close to Mum and Daddy until displaced by The Boy. Displaced might be the wrong word; let's say that the presence of his brother inspired him to play more than to sleep. I think I really do sleep better with a little, wiggly, warm body snuggling up close, even if it does tend to make our lovelife a little more difficult. Still, we're not the only parents to say, "Quick! The kids are asleep!"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where does the time go?

I'm not entirely certain what I've been doing over the last several days. Not much, is the short answer; there's a few things brewing right now, but nothing imminent. I just don't feel like I've accomplished anything or moved in any one particular direction. Right now, I'm kind of floating around, more-or-less aimlessly, and I don't like it. I haven't exercised since last Thursday (more than a week), and I haven't even had the energy to think too much about it. I wake up; I may or may not go to work, mostly may not; The Wife may or may not go to work; and I spend the rest of the day sharing children with Grandma. We haven't really gone anywhere, and we're in a rut about leaving the house many days. Sigh.

On the surface, there's lots of stuff: my chorus and my quartet, which both competed last weekend; my leadership duties with my chorus and with setting up the new chapter, which starts in two weeks; a new temp job, working at a water waste treatment filtration manufacturer; a job interview for a town south of Pittsburgh; parenting two wonderful babies; and juggling my wife's efforts for a playing career, private lesson teaching career, and public school teaching career. And, that doesn't count the housework that I've been neglecting, either.

Excuses aside, there isn't that much going on that requires time and energy, more than thought and occasional discussion. Taking care of the boys and The Wife's teaching and playing are usually combined together. The temp job doesn't start for another week, and has some paperwork and a physical before I can start working. My chorus had a big rush of work, in selecting new music and getting it ordered; that's done, and only took an hour or so. The new chorus is occupying much of my thought right now, as we're trying to create an elite performing organization from the ground up. That carries a certain amount of stress and anxiety with it. Still no reason, yet, for a physically inactive person to carry the tiredness that I'm carrying right now.

The new information, from yesterday afternoon, is that I have an interview for a teaching position south of town. It's on November 8, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've documented my feelings about getting back in the classroom before, so I won't rehash my personal issues and demons. I'm just unhappy that I've got two and a half weeks to build up my hopes and dreams, only to (likely) have them dashed against the rocks if I fail to make it past the first round of interviews again. Or, worse: make it to the second or third round and fail. Or, even worse: get accepted for the job, only to have them talk to the soulless folks in my LAST job, and have the job withdrawn from me at the last minute.

Isn't it great, having such a vivid imagination? All the worst things in the world are called right to the surface. I used to be an optimist, with a bulletproof belief in myself as a teacher and a human being. The curse of age and experience is that you realize exactly how vulnerable and imperfect you really are. I know I'll reframe my beliefs as I get closer to the date. I'm just panicking a little bit right now.


What doesn't help is the fact that the boys have their stereo wake-up / freak-outs immaculately timed for the moment that The Wife and I are both asleep. So, we hold off going to sleep until the boys wake up. They don't, so we go to sleep around woot o'clock, then they wake up ten minutes later. It's amazing.

I think, if Grandma is amenable to watching The Boy, I'll take Younger Bro for a nice, long, two or three mile walk this afternoon. I also need to put away laundry, sort dirty laundry, mow the lawn, and blow leaves off of the patio and the driveway. That should wake me up. If not, there's a reason G-d invented coffee.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Current Events

The Boy's favorite phrase, right now, is, "I not [do whatever it is we want him to do]. I too busy!", or "I not [do it]. I not!", or "I do it in two minutes!" That's his response, in particular, to requests for going to the potty. His potty training is coming along reasonably nicely; when he has no pants, he is really flawless when it comes to using the potty. In pants, it's hit-or-miss.

He's doing a lot of puzzles right now - specifically, some Melissa and Doug puzzles that show some Jewish holidays. He also enjoys the big fire truck puzzle from Uncle Pete. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is still his favorite show, and "Mickey's Big Band Concert" is his favorite episode, I think. Tonight, he was playing with a bunch of metal key rings in a cup.

Younger Bro is doing lots of new things. He's started doing the Sit'N'Spin, which is pretty extraordinary considering his age. The Boy still has some problems with that. YB is a big climber - loves climbing up into big chairs to play with stuff on adjoining tables. The only unfortunate thing is his desire to throw everything off of the tables nearby - including computers, remotes, telephones, etc. That's just annoying.

We've had mixed success getting him to eat at the table, which he seems to want to do. He wants to sit at the black table in the kitchen for breakfast, but he doesn't quite understand how to eat off of a plate without knocking the plate over. Sigh. He's still an eating machine - pretty much eats anything that you can put in front of him, even though he still loves meat the most.

His "piano playing" is interesting - much of the time, he pushes one note at a time. Occasionally, he even plays something relatively melodic. The Boy is not interested most of the time in playing the piano, but still occasionally enjoys taking out the trumpet and trombone.

The Boy's eating is not great, but typical toddler: a few foods, eaten frequently: Cheerios, Shredded Wheats, Egg & Cheese, Grilled Cheese, Noodles & ketchup, and a few occasional foods like meat or chicken. He still won't nap by himself, but he is putting himself to sleep now: we walk him into his room, give kisses and hugs, give him his teddy bear with "The Boy" written on it, and leave.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Convention Endings

So, we're on our way home from the barbershop convention as I type - with luck, I'll get this in before we hit the area of Ohio that has no cell service whatsoever. Sigh. Lotta nothin' out here.

The convention was an absolute success, from my perspective. My quartet and chorus both performed well, and we got good, positive feedback from the judges that can make an actual impact on our performance. On top of that, I made some new friends and got to hang out with some old friends who didn't know I had relocated to Pittsburgh. It's always nice to relay The Boy's good news to people who haven't heard!

The best part of the conventions is the nighttime after all the shows are done. Barbershoppers love singing tags (the cool ends of songs, which are usually fun and exciting and sung without the rest of the song) and songs with each other. Last night was no exception. I got to sing with great people until 2:30am, when I crapped out and went to bed.

It sucks getting old.

Actually, that's not true. It was more being overstimulated and needing to calm myself down. I had hit a point where I was tired enough that I was getting kind of excitable, and that's not a good thing for me. When my wife is with me, she's a calming, focusing influence, and I usually stay up singing later and better. With luck, my kids will want to sing and to do all of the fun tagging and woodshedding that The Wife and I enjoy.

It'll be really nice to see the boys again. I'm not used to being away from them, and things aren't as much fun without them around. There were one or two other children under 3 there, so maybe next year...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 15, 2010


I am blogging from the Ohio Turnpike right now, on my way to Lima, Ohio, for the Johnny Appleseed District convention. My quartet and my new chorus are competing in this weekend's festivities. So, send good thoughts to us at 8:00 tonight and at about 11:45 tomorrow morning.

This is also, I believe, the first time since I got back from preparing the house in Jersey in December that I'm going away without my family. It's weird. For one thing, I have way less luggage than if the children were along.

I don't really like going away without my family. It's odd - I don't feel the stereotypical "need" to "get away from the kids" like many men seem to need. Even with all of the enforced family time we've gotten because of our continued unemployment, we still enjoy being around one another.

I know, I know... I haven't exactly had a traditional journey through fatherhood and family living. But, I hope, things would be similar if we did have a relatively normal situation. Eh. Whatever.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to? Sleeping. Napping when I want, going to bed when I want, and not waking up with a new person in my bed. Sure, I'm looking forward to the competition, to singing tags and songs until all hours of the morning.... but I'm looking forward to the sleep even more.

Last night was rough. Younger Bro was up at 12:30, 1, 3, and 5:15. My saint of a wife took care of the earlier ones until 5:15, when she kicked me out of Ed to handle it. YB just wanted some playtime. Good thing he's cute. The good news was, he went back to bed from 7 to 8, when an epic poop (one of the "I'm not going to bother with a thorough wipe, you're going in the tub" poops) woke him - and, by extension, The Boy, up.

ETA in Lima: 4:50 this afternoon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's a Dirty Job

Head over The Wife's blog and check out her entry from last night. It's very thought-provoking and, I think, one of the best things she's ever written.

As Americans, we live our lives trying to avoid conflict. We go far out of our way so that people of different feelings aren't offended or made to feel uncomfortable. We take great pride in our "awareness" of things: gay pride awareness, animal rights awareness, ethnic awareness, breast cancer awareness. I guess this is a step forward from a hundred years ago, as most people were not aware of the struggles of sub-groups of people (either ethnicities, orientations, or victims of disease or hunger). The trap in all of this "awareness" is that simple awareness isn't enough.

It's not enough that we're aware of breast cancer or prostate cancer. Many of us have a relative, friend, or friend's relative that has been affected by those diseases. Most of us are "aware" of them. So, what? What does "awareness" bring to us? I'm also "aware" of genocide in Darfour, global warming, global cooling, and the rampant spread of Red Sox fandom despite condom distribution programs worldwide. The "awareness" isn't seeming to fix many things. As Americans, however, we are quite proud of our awareness and, in general, do nothing more than revel in our pride.

My wife did a great job in her post, outlining several things that people can do to move beyond the "awareness" and into the "get off your rear end and DO something" column of things. Even if it's writing a check to CureSearch or one of the other charities that actually fund research instead of itself.

Cancer is an uncomfortable disease. It causes conflict and dismay and despair and depression. It ruins lives; it ruins lives of family members; it ruins jobs, careers, and good moods. It's not as cute as "I like it on the table," or pink ribbons on a car, or pink cleats on a baseball field. It's not as fun as a 5K run, or a walk and a picnic, or a golf outing, or a car wash. It's surgeries, radiation, toxic chemicals, hours of nausea, rapid weight loss, gaunt faces and skinny bodies, drug cocktails, hospital bills, doctor visits, specialist visits, hours of arguments with health insurance providers, hours of arguments and dozens of letters from collections agencies, missed days of work, missed housework, weeks of your life spent in small hospital rooms, loss of sleep, and constant fear and terror.

And, we seem to have fought cancer off... at least, for now, because cancer never really is beaten. It just disappears for a while.

My First Day at Work

I had an interesting day at the aforementioned temp job. It was really quite pleasant - the program for which I was shilling was really quite cool, and the teachers and parents in the school building were enthusiastic about it. The people - ATS Project Success - had a deal worked out where they were offering 40 hours of online tutoring for no cost to the parents. Pretty cool, no? If the program delivers half of what it promised - and there's no reason to think it won't deliver more than that - it can be more than a little revolutionary. Of course, that might just be the overly idealistic science fiction Star Trek-future loving me, but I'm willing to take that chance.

They expected me to be there for, like, two hours. There was enough "traffic" (people stopping by to talk) for me to stay all seven hours. I met some nice people, and some people who were quite cool at first but warmed up considerably when they realized that I wasn't asking them for any money. I could do that sort of thing more often, I think. It's an interesting scenario.

So, I went from there directly to barbershop, and I think that my quartet performed quite well in our last pre-contest performance - as did the chorus. It's going to be an interesting and fun weekend in Lima, Ohio, this weekend - not the least because it's a weekend where I will NOT be kicked regularly by a 3-year old snuggle buddy. The last couple of contests, I've spent most of the time sleeping... wouldn't be surprised if I did the same thing. What a wild and crazy life I lead... I head out to western Ohio for "vacation" to spend the time asleep. Oh, and I might spend a few bucks on CDs this weekend.

What can I say - I like to live dangerously!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Job Today

ATS Project Success, an online tutoring company - kind of cool, actually. Lots of neat swag, and an interesting concept. Parents seem intrigued so far!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Clairhaven St,Pittsburgh,United States

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Movement Towards Goal

It's been an interesting week over here at the Musical Household. The boys got their immunizations on Tuesday, and they both promptly got sick from them. Not a surprise - most of the time, I get sick from the flu shot, too. The Boy has had a fever of somewhat over a hundred degrees all week.

Isn't it interesting? He's sick, and tonight stayed home from Aunt Evelyn's 90th birthday party - because, for once, we were worried about the other people instead of him. Cool, huh? The down part is that we haven't slept all week and weekend. Even Younger Bro has joined the fun by wanting attention every other hour at night.

The other interesting bit is that we've hooked up with a temp agency in town. I actually have a job set up for tomorrow! I'll be handling out fliers for a tutoring service at a school's parent-teacher conferences. It's not a lot of money - basically, a little less than our cell phone bill. But, it's movement towards goal.

They want me to apply for a sales completion position, which would pay roughly the same amount as my substitute teaching did. The only catch? The job is 1-8 on weekdays, which kind of shoots everything else I want to do in the foot. Lessons, singing, any church gigs... not sure it's what I want.

Of course, I actually have to be accepted for the job, with no guarantee I'll pass the interview. With my luck... hey, there's always that middle school band job south of town, which closes on Friday.

(yeah, right.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A (somewhat) Interesting Evening

So, I was going to write a blog post last night about how it is difficult to make plans with young children because of the unpredictability of naps and nighttime sleeping and such. I was also going to say how Tuesday night was an easy bedtime night, and Wednesday night was shaping up similarly. I was interrupted by The Boy, who had woken up screaming.

I went into his room with the intention of cuddling him back to sleep in his bed - calm him down, get him settled, and return to the baseball playoffs. No such luck; he was obviously in physical discomfort. His little body was also HOT; not just snuggled under blankets hot, but feverish hot. I know my sons' body temperatures pretty well, and I can usually tell their temperature within about .2 or .3 of a degree Farenheit. 103.2 axillary (under the arm), which USED to be "You load him in the car, I'll pack my toiletries and a book or two. Come tomorrow morning with a change of clothes, please."

Now? Some Tylenol, lots of snuggles, watch "Winnie the Pooh" at 10:30PM, and call the doctor in the morning. Neither child slept much last night, as their immunizations and flu shots backed up on them. Is this how normal parents deal with illness? I just don't feel panicked in the remotest. Concerned, yes; aware of every little twitch, cough, sneeze, yawn, and eye rub; but not freaking out in the remotest. We are going to the doctor's office, but tomorrow morning and not today.

Not that I'm in a rush to get to the pediatrician's office... when we were there on Tuesday, it took more than two hours for one wellness checkup and two rounds of immunizations. That is, two adults and two toddlers sat in a six by ten room for two hours. I know that that doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened on my last two visits with two boys.

Again, not a huge deal. We're thrilled with the treatment that we've gotten from Dr. Weinkle, and we've been on the express lane for doctor care for 20 of the past 28 months. We've had much reason to walk in the door of the hospital or doctor's office and be taken directly to caretakers. Right now, not so much; an appointment with a healthy baby (well-baby visit) and immunizations for another healthy kid should NOT be a priority. The times that we've gone with a sick child, we've gotten perfectly wonderful help. So, with the two parents with both children, we can live with being a little grumpy.

So, Younger Bro is now in bed. The Boy is bugging Grandma for more food. Mommy is doing some paperwork, and here I am. I've got some more writing to do tonight while I watch the end of the baseball game. We're praying that tonight is an easier night; we've had a couple of no-sleep nights in a row. Both boys took one nap today, as did Mommy and Daddy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Pleasant Evening

Tonight, we had a nice, easy, pleasant evening. We had dinner, staggered, between 4:30 and 6:00 - the boys earlier, me in the middle, and The Wife last. She left for her orchestra rehearsal, and the boys played until bathtime at 7:00. They were in the bath for a half hour.

Younger Bro and I read a couple of books together, as much as is possible. In many ways, he is just like his brother: when you read him a book, you get half of a page done before he starts to turn the pages for you. It can then be difficult to finish a story. So, we made it through Goodnight Moon, a little bit of a Spiderman cardboard book, and a "lift-the-flap" book about dreidels. We watched a little bit of the Goodnight Moon video from HBO Family, then he went to bed without too much of a quibble.

The Boy came upstairs immediately after. He wanted to watch the end of the Goodnight Moon movie, and he fell asleep before the end of it. I watched some television, then came downstairs to do some work.

This was so extraordinary, because many of the other Tuesday nights have ended in disaster: children awake to all hours, etc. I think the "secret" is to follow bedtime protocols with both children as much as is possible: bath, stories, songs, bed. Quiet time, easy time. It won't always work, but it occasionally does.

It's also nice, because I just don't understand the way my younger son sleeps at times. He's very picky about his sleeping conditions, and he can be quite fussy and difficult to calm down. Grandma has figured out that some diluted juice in a bottle with a nipple can help. Still, tonight was much easier than I thought it would be. Makes up for last night, when we didn't sleep at all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The last five nights, The Boy has slept without a night diaper - just underpants and pajamas. It's been a mixed bag; 3 out of 5 nights, he's peed through his pajama pants. But, it's more of a win than you expect. On two of those occasions, he woke up dry, didn't get up to go to the potty, and went. That's not a good thing, but the war is trending in the right direction. We've had a couple of accident-free days, which is nice.

When he falls down, anywhere, he tracks down the nearest adult: "Are you okay?" he asks. He'll continue to ask until you ask him if he's okay. He's also at the "reporting" stage of his communication: every single thought or event that occurs to him is spoken aloud. It's cute, and we'll enjoy it while it lasts. It isn't long until children discover that many things are easier when you don't mention them to the parental units.

Rough night for Younger Bro - he was awake at 10, 11, 12, 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7. Not sure why. I know that I was sick yesterday, so maybe that went over to the little guy. I feel worse for my wife, who hasn't been sleeping well lately. Nobody except Mommy can soothe him back to sleep. The Boy, on the other hand, slept smoothly; one wakeup that resulted in wet pants, one more for a potty visit, then sleeping until 7:45.

We love our new iTV and our new television set for the bedroom. We spent last night watching the episodes of Glee stored on my computer, and we entertained The Boy by watching videos of him on youTube. All in all, a gigantic "Win" for Apple and for the Musical family, who has collected around 75 or 80 gigabytes of media on their computer.

It is amazing to see videos of The Boy as a little baby - he was a fat little guy! Then, to see videos of him a year or so later, in the middle of treatment; he was a gaunt, tiny person. The change in him - and in us - is stark. Thankfully. We made the right decision, coming out here, even if it's going to cause long-term changes that we're still not aware of.

We set up a large Crayola double-sided easel in the living room, because YB has shown the inclination to draw with chalk on a board. It's nice; one side is a dry-erase / magnetic board, and the other side is a chalkboard. They can both play on it, which is nice. YB is doing a nice job coloring and drawing lines with chalk.

YB is still enjoying the game of walking up to his brother and smacking him on top of the head. The Boy doesn't like it at all, and - for the first time, just two days ago - they punched each other a couple of time. Sigh. We're not violent people, and they don't watch (non-Batman) violence on television, most of the time. Much of that is just genetic, I guess.

(Actually, they probably watch more violence than I'd prefer. It's not just Mickey and Sesame Street on our televisions. Oh, well. It could be worse. They're not watching "The Matrix" or "Kill Bill." "Buffy" doesn't quite count, I think.)

Current favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes: "Mickey's Big Band Concert" and "Mickey's Message From Mars." Current favorite music: "Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones" and "Mousekedoer."