Sunday, February 27, 2011

Climber

Little Bear has done a pretty amazing job, learning from his brother. He's been saying words and phrases that his brother uses, including two- and three- word sentences. He has, however, taken some things on his own.

He's a climber. He climbs onto anything he can reach, and he's starting to discover that he can use chairs and things to get stuff that he can't reach. The latest is using a set of wire shelves to climb to the top of a desk, then climb across the crowded desk to get the Sesame Street juice boxes. He can't get at the juice in the boxes, but he does rip the straws off.

His brother likes to climb things, but The Boy has more fear and caution. Little Bear is afraid of nothing. Little Bear hasn't figured out jumping yet, but I'm fascinated to see what happens when he does.

Two boys, same genetic stock, very different. Interesting.


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Friday, February 25, 2011

What, Me Worry?

When I got home from work yesterday, everyone was still asleep from afternoon naps. I saw my chance: took off my work clothes and hopped into bed with The Boy and The Wife. She opens her eyes. "You stink. Go take a shower."

Sigh. The Boy didn't seem to mind, but I acquiesced to my lady, as usual. The good news? The Boy and I got an hour's worth of sleep together. The bad news? He wasn't asleep until almost 10:30pm. Such is the trade-off.

3.5 is a funny age. They don't always need a nap, but they can usually benefit from one. It's WHEN the nap happens that's tricky. Too early, never bad. Too late in the afternoon, and you're dealing with an energetic little boy when you're trying to get your bedtime routine started.

His brother doesn't have the same issues. He's in bed like clockwork at 7:30, and he sleeps his 11-ish hours without a hitch. He takes a nap in the early afternoon, usually. He's working on climbing out of the crib, which is a problem.

I'll be happy when The Boy is over this Roseola thing. He spiked another fever this morning. It's trending downwards but is still shooting up on occasion. It's frustrating, because he's not sleeping well or consistently because of this illness. This makes us sleep not so well, also. He tosses and turns, kicks, flails, and talks in his sleep - usually about letters or toy trains, entertainingly enough. Last night, he told his brother to stop playing with the trains.

Don't get me wrong - this is nowhere near as challenging as any phase in the cancer treatment. It is just exhausting to work a physical labor job on little sleep.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sick Day Snow Day

The Boy wound up spiking another fever over the weekend, high enough that we were more than a little concerned. He's also sporting a nice, healthy-looking roseola rash all over himself, particularly his face. His body looks like he colored all over himself with red dots - and, before you ask, he didn't. We checked. Plus, at this point in his life, he'd be trying to connect the dots.

Sigh. The poor kid can't catch a break. He's still got a 100-degree fever, although his symptoms (according to our pediatrician) are following the textbook progression of roseola.

And, yes, I'm still happy and glad that high fevers are being diagnosed by our pediatrician and not a combination of oncology and emergency room. It's a relief, no doubt.

Last night was just a brutal night for all of us. The Boy woke up at around 2AM, and was kicking us both in that particular toddler way: trying to snuggle us with his feet by jamming them in our back, stomachs, down our pajama pants... Combine that with tossing and turning, sitting up and asking for water, sitting up and asking to go to the bathroom. Long story short, he was awake until 4:30AM.

This was also a morning that I had work as usual, and The Wife was substitute teaching. So, neither one of us could actually spare the sleep to deal with him. I actually got up and left around 4AM, to try to catch my last hour before my usual 5:20 wakeup - I went into the spare bedroom and slept.

If he keeps it up, he can have our bed. We'll sleep on the trundle bed in the room with Little Bear.

On a funny note, Little Bear was left unattended for about 90 seconds earlier today. He went into the kitchen, found a box of cereal, went into a drawer, pulled out a plate, then poured some cereal onto the plate, climbed up onto a chair, and ate the cereal until he was discovered. What a precocious kid! Why do I have a feeling that, when he discovers my toolbox, I'm going to come home from work one day to find my television set lying in pieces?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Short Hits

Little Bear, on Saturday, was dressed in a nice, button-down shirt, with his hair combed. He looked like a little person instead of the baby. It was almost jarring to me. He's growing up quite quickly, and it's amazing to witness his behavior and language developing on a daily basis.

The Boy seems to have another little bug - he spiked a 102 degree fever (axillary) last night at bedtime. Sigh. It is nice to NOT have to go to the hospital, but... it's still frustrating. This is what we expected for when he started preschool: lots of little colds, because his immune system is way behind the curve for obvious reasons (...like not having an immune system for a couple of years).

He dreams about letters. He was talking in his sleep this morning and said, "Want a LITTLE one!" meaning he wants a little letter instead of a big letter. That's awesome.

Little Bear knows all or most of the alphabet song. He doesn't really get what it means, but he can sing along or by himself. He can occasionally identify letters, when he feels like it, but I haven't seen this with regularity.

The Boy is now asking, "What letter does THAT start with?" about all of his words. It's cute as heck, and I have a feeling that he's going to be reading by the summer time. He's working hard on it, that's for sure.

Little Bear can climb into his own car seat, and he enjoys doing so. He also was sitting on my lap yesterday, when he turned to me, said, "Tickle tickle tickle!" and tickled my belly. It was unexpectedly hilarious and cuter than anything.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outings

Today, the boys and I had a nice outing. It was our typical Wednesday: comic book store, Starbucks for chocolate milk (exchanging potty try for The Boy's milk), and dinner. This week and last week, I let The Boy choose where we ate: "cheese sandwich" (Quiznos), "pizza" (little hole in the wall place), "noodles" (Lulu's Noodles, a Chinese place), or Eat'n'Park. This week, we had Chinese.



The boys are really pretty good in restaurants, but it helps that I know what we're going to order before we sit down. I try to set us up for success: quick ordering, entertainment at the table, and preparations for a quick exit. The boys are babies and will misbehave if allowed to be bored; if kept engaged, they stay well-behaved.



We sang songs, tapped the table in rhythm, used chopsticks as drum sticks, and made letters from silverware. When the food came, we were excited for it. I paid the bill while we were still eating, so that we were able to leave before antsy-ness turns into "wow, look at THAT kid." I didn't have our usual bag of books and toys, so we improvised a bit.



(Above: "I not want to go outside! I'm hiding!")

After dinner we went home and played outside for a bit. It's really cool to see how Little Bear is developing: he's able to climb the ladder and go down the slide lots easier than a couple of months ago. He even wants to go on the big boy swing instead of the baby swing!

Bathtime, stories and bed... an altogether wonderful evening. These are the little memories and experiences that let us have a happy family!


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oncology Humor

Yesterday, The Boy had his checkup with Dr. Graves, which included a new set of scans. He came through clean and NED, which is what we hoped. The Boy even drew a heart with his name on it for Dr. Graves! Very cute. While they were there, The Wife asked the doctor to check The Boy's ears, as he flipped out more than usual when the hearing aids were applied. The result? An ear infection.



The moral of the story: if you go to the oncologist and come home with the diagnosis of an ear infection, then you're doing pretty darn well.

So, both boys are sick and unhappy, although they perked up quite a bit tonight. We had some nice games between the three of us, and both boys were asleep by about 8:15. I'm watching barbershop quartets while I blog, hoping that The Boy will sleep soundly enough to let me get some ice cream and brush my teeth (not at the same time). Doubt it.



Heartbreak of the day: when I left after work to teach a lesson, The Boy said, "You don't want to teach a lesson! Daddy wants to stay with The Boy and play!" Awwww.... I do want to stay and play, true, but I love my students.

Good work news: they want to keep me for longer, which is nice. I'm happy about that. My new coworkers are really cool guys, and I'm doing interesting and rewarding things! I don't know how long I'll be able to stay, but I'll enjoy whatever I can get.


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Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's a Boy!

We've been sitting on this for a little while, but it's time to give the Big Reveal:

The Wife is pregnant again, and it's a boy. This will be boy number 3, and he's due on July 13, 2011. We had the second ultrasound this afternoon, which revealed a teeny, tiny little pecker: (Only one baby, just two pictures.)





I expected a girl, but I was wrong. Guess I'm shootin' all Y chromosomes. Runs in the family a bit; I'm the youngest of four boys.

I texted the news to my father, with the line: "Hey, Dad, I'm getting my barbershop quartet in July!" His response: "That's great; just wait a bit before going for the basketball team."

We're excited, but more than a bit nervous. We weren't expecting this, but we're thrilled that we seem to have a nice, healthy young baby boy. Gonna be an interesting couple of years, isn't it?


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Friday, February 11, 2011

Climbing, Climbing The Mountain

Today, Little Bear decided to get out of his crib at the end of his nap, and apparently, Aunt J. found him with one leg entirely over the crib rail, with weight barely inside the crib. Now, we start to have the very quick discussions, because we start to hit on some safety issues. This baby that can climb over the rails, yet I'm fairly sure he has no idea how high in the air the top of the crib really is.

So, what do we do? For the most part, when he's in bed, he's in bed. We put him down, he takes his Winnie the Pooh and his blanket, and flops on his belly to sleep. I don't think that, in the bedtime sense, a bed (with a gate over the door) will make that much of a difference. For naptime, it's a bit more of an issue; he will frequently freak out for a little bit before he naps.

Here's where we are really new parents. The Boy has always been an easy napper, because he naps with us. Even during the time when we were trying to get him in his own bed, he was still napping with us. Little Bear is not a "sleep with us" kind of guy. We'd love for him to sleep with us, but he doesn't.

We don't really have a huge idea how to handle this. It's probably dangerous to keep him in his crib, because if he wants to get out, he could fall and hurt himself. The train table will have to move, for sure. We could go get the toddler bed from downstairs, and replace the crib with that. That has the benefit of sleeping in a bed, but with some rails that he can climb into and out of. Or, we could pull out the trundle bed in the room, and Little Bear could sleep in the bottom bed of the trundle bed. This might actually have the side benefit of convincing The Boy to sleep in a bed, although dollars to donuts says that we find the two of the snuggled up at least twice.

I think we'll probably keep him in his crib tonight and make a decision about the bed tomorrow. Tomorrow's a big day, you know?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Texting and Reading

On Super Bowl Sunday, my father sent me a text message at the end of the game. The Boy had my iPhone, and he pressed "view" instead of "close." He was excited by the letter keyboard that came up, so he typed his name and pressed the big blue send key. He followed that with his brother's name, "ball," and "spell," which is a chunk of the words he can spell.



The entire learn to read process is amazing. The Boy has been learning spelling from tv (Super Why), iPad (Grandma!), and iPhone. Little Bear has been learning letters from tv, singing, and refrigerator magnets. On a daily basis, they seem to get more control of the language. It's pretty cool.

The Wife and I were both early readers, and we remain voracious readers. I know much has been written - rightly so - about how the Internet has changed reading habits. I would still be shocked if my sons didn't read The Lord of the Rings, or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or Ender's Game. There's something satisfying about cracking open a book and starting a journey.



I wonder when they'll be able to read on their own. When will they sit down and read their choice of books? Will they like sci-fi, or trend toward mysteries? Or horror? Or self-improvement (shudder)?

How many text messages will they send in their lives? What will replace texting in the next gen devices? What tech things will come up that seem, to them, like the blinking 12:00 on my parents' VCR seemed to me?

So much of parenting is looking at the future. So much of my day is spent enjoying and reveling in their accomplishments and abilities. The Boy, without prompting, told me about his physical therapy yesterday. That's awesome, that it was important and that he wanted to share it! That's also new - he responds to questions, but rarely has enough foresight (yet) to bring subjects up.

Cute boys. Smart boys. Clever and impy boys.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Discipline... Or, Sometimes Your Kid Is That Kid

Friday night, we took the boys to Tot Shabbat at Rodef Shalom, our new temple. Rodef has been a real find for us; that's where The Boy goes to school, and where Little Bear will also go to preschool. It's a very nice, friendly environment, with lots of families and lots of kids. Tot Shabbat is the normal Friday services, but done in an intelligent manner: they say some blessings, then have a potluck dinner, then an abridged services, then dessert. The whole night starts at 6 and ran until 8. We could have stayed longer, but things didn't quite work out the way we wanted.

The boys were both quite wild during the course of the evening. They weren't "bad," as such; they were just crazy. They spent most of the time running around and chasing each other and "hiding" behind some curtains and exploring and pushing the elevator buttons and, in short, acting like little boys quite frequently act. Friday night, my kids were "That Kid." During the service, Little Bear was not content to stay close to us, and spent that time wandering around the temple grounds.

My own state of mind was not good. Last week was a difficult work week; not a stressful one, not a harsh one, just a hard one. I worked my tail off all week and was exhausted. I'm certain that this didn't help matters any.

This lead me to reconsider our discipline plan for the children, as The Wife and I frequently do. We spend a lot of time talking about it and planning things. Our discipline system for the children starts with careful planning: we try to never put our kids in a position to allow bad choices to be easy. We're careful about when we take them places, and what places we take them. We're careful about what toys and things we put out for them. We're careful about letting them be by themselves often. In general, if you make the right choice easier for them, then they're more likely to make the right choice.

Most kids want to do the right thing. I believe that strongly. They want to play nicely, they want to have friends, and they want to make their parents happy. The "wrong" choice is more interesting and more compelling for the children, because it's the choice that gets them the quickest attention from their parents. So, if the right choice is easy to make, and if the right choice gets the best attention of their parents, then the right choice is more attractive.

This isn't particularly easy to do. It requires constant vigilance (the price of liberty) and significant conversation and agreement between the parental units. It's also not something that it is easy to establish, and can frequently be mistaken for a lack of discipline.

Many people's ideas of discipline isn't really discipline. It's setting fear. I've come to the belief that, for my children, hitting them or putting them in a "time out" is not the right idea. They're not old enough to understand why you're doing that. Little Bear is 19 months old as of yesterday. He loves dumping stuff out onto the ground, and he loves taking food off of the kitchen counters to eat it. Can you honestly say that, at 19 months, he'd understand being put in "time out" for those two unappreciated behaviors? Instead, we tell him we don't like it and remove him from the situation. We'll remove a toy if the kids are playing with it in a destructive manner.

The Boy might understand "time out," but I'm not sure it's worth it. He's a good-natured kid, and removing him from the situation or removing the offending item seems to work better and faster than trying to force him into a "time out" situation. If he hits his brother, and we remove him from the situation and take the toy away, then he understands that it isn't proper behavior. "That's not nice!" seems to be something that he understands, and he tries not to behave that way.

So, what do we do during situations like Friday night, where our kids are "those kids?" Remove them from the situation. Explain to them that the behavior is not acceptable. And, above all, try not to allow the negative situation to develop from the beginning. When we see that they're crazy at the start, we don't expect that the little one will sit and watch the service. We take him outside and let him walk around, bringing him into the service for short periods of time. This hopefully sends the message that the service is important, but we're not going against Boy Nature and trying to force him to sit still and pay attention.

(Hey - I'm 36 1/2 years old, and I don't sit still and pay attention. Why should they, at 19 months and 3 1/2 years old?)

The next night, we went out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant, to Babies 'R' Us for stroller shopping, and to Barnes and Noble for book shopping. They were great, as we expect them to behave. They sat at the table and talked like normal. They stayed near us at the stores and played nicely with the toys at the stores and with the other little kids.

Considering that we have far more positive experiences than negative ones, I think we're on the right path. I also know that our system isn't for everybody. We've both had years to develop our discipline system through our teaching, and it did take years to develop the concepts, ideals, and execution abilities to the point that it's practical on a 24/7 schedule. What's easy for a 45 minute time period is not so easy during their entire waking hours.

That's not to say that we keep patience all of the time. Not even close. I know that, at school, I've had more than my fair share of music-stand-throwing, ripping my hair out, screaming at the top of my lungs tantrums at my students. Remind me to tell you about the time I made my entire wind ensemble cry after a concert in New Jersey... but, we try.