Saturday, August 27, 2011

Better Than Me

The Boy loves singing the theme song from the Wonder Pets television show:

YouTube Video

This is pretty cool for a number of reasons, most involving the fact that he's willingly singing. He has been doing a lot of very nice singing lately; although his diction (age appropriate) is somewhat unclear, he's getting the overall shape of the melody. That's important; getting a kid to know when notes go up or down is an important first step.

Little Bear enjoys trying to sing along, but he doesn't quite understand how to make different pitches yet. He's kind of a monotone, as are many two year old singers! He recognizes melodies and asks for particular tunes, and he really is trying to sing. He'll get it soon enough. He, more than The Boy, loves to listen to my quartet rehearsals. It's pretty darn cool.

Both boys sat in on several moments of rehearsal today, And they asked to hear their current favorite live song: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." I love the fact that my kids hear barbershop standards every day around the house. May they know all of the old songs before they know that the old songs are old songs.

The Baby loves listening to singing, and you can sometimes interrupt a fit by singing at him. Not often, mind you but occasionally. With luck, that will continue.


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Probably the best thing about having multiple children is watching them develop and change as time passes. You can be reasonably certain that they're going to turn out as adults who use the potty by themselves, sleep outside of our bed, put themselves to bed at night in a timely manner, and so forth.

The Boy had been in our bed at night, for at least part of the night, for his entire life. In rereading my blog, we've tried to get him in his bed at quite a few times, with varying degrees of success. For the past two weeks or so, he has been sleeping the entire night in his room AND has been getting himself dressed in the morning!

It's such a change. He even takes himself to the potty once or twice in the night, only calling if he needs help. It's a weird thing to see, because I did not think that he would make that change as abruptly as he did.



The baby sleeps with us far more often than he does in the bassinet. I'm really okay with that, because I miss the snuggles. He does prefer Mum still, but I have many more nice moments with him than I did with Little Bear at an equivalent age.

Little Bear is still Little Bear, although he started a low cry during his nap today. I snuck in and climbed into bed with him, as he had switched from the toddler bed to the trundle bed. He had had a bad dream, and he was upset. He snuggled right into me and fell back asleep, and we napped like that for an hour or so. It was awesome - particularly since he hadn't slept with his daddy in well over a year. I don't often see him sleep, and I see him wake up even more infrequently. What a sweet little boy!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Patience

On Monday I will be beginning another chapter of my professional life, starting a temp position that could be a work to hire kind of thing. At the very least, this is the sort of position that can get me some of the opportunities I want, even though it isn't in the teaching fields. The sudden pressure to fill every last moment of every day before I start working brings into sudden contrast the largest issue we've faced this month: the lack of any kind of routine and consistency. I honestly think that this is driving all of us a little batty right now, and I am greatly looking forward to heading back to work and getting the kids in school at Rodef.

I am a creature of habit. There is no doubt about that; I have been this way for my entire life. I like a routine, I like steadiness and consistency, and I like to plan things over the course of months and years. I am very comfortable when I have some predictability in my life. Not necessarily every day is the same predictability, but some semblance with which I can plan. The lack of that does weird things to me; I'm grumpy and out of sorts, I'm irritable and impatient, and I'm tending to take it out on the children.



It doesn't help that, because they are half of my genetic code, they are wired similarly. The Boy values that structure. Little Bear perhaps moreso, because of his strong need for constant motion. They love their toys, they love the outside of Grandma and Grandpa's home, and they love us. They've just been getting bored out of their minds very quickly. When they get bored, they start picking fights with each other and with us. Those with siblings know those fights: both children are contentedly playing with toys. One kid looks over at the other, walks over, and takes the toy away and bops their sibling on the dome. Little Bear doesn't even need toys. Particularly at the kitchen table, he'll walk up to The Boy and just start giving him open-handed slaps to the noggin.



After the fiftieth recurrence in a given day (this would be around 10:30am), I've just about had it with those two children. I haven't been as nice as I've wanted to be, and I've been more likely to forcibly remove them from a room or unilaterally take toys away or remove privileges such as stories or iPad use. We've had a short fuse when it's come to The Boy and going places, and we've left him home (with an adult) a couple of time in the last week. That's not how I want to deal with my sons: do what I say or you'll be punished. There's a better way.



I know that I've be overreacting about the whole "Me first! It's my turn to be first!" thing that The Boy does, which is SO not a big deal. Annoying, yes, but only actively bad when he tries to push past Little Bear on a stairwell. If you ignore it, it will go away. Same thing with the throwing of toys to keep them away from the sibling, or the "outside voice" shouting indoors. It's annoying, but it is hardly worth a punishment or losing ones temper.

I know that getting back on the work and school routine is going to help. We will all be a little happier to see each other and to be home, and going places with each other will return to being a special treat. I will see much less of my family, which stinks, but I know that I'll be happier building my life towards a new career path. I want to get back to proactive parenting and setting my children up for success, not the reactive parenting I've been doing.


On an unrelated note, someone vandalized the blue slide at the blue slide park. It's this neat concrete slide built into the hillside, and when you get a piece of cardboard or something similar on the slide, you really build up a nice head of steam. The kids love it, and going to that park is their favorite activity. Someone painted it red, and badly. I'm very depressed about that.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Left Turn Planning

We woke up today planning on taking the boys to Kennywood again. Grandma found some half price tickets, which means that we only had to buy tickets for The Boy. The Baby had a doctors appointment (Spoiler: 12 pounds, 4 ounces, and 23 inches long), and we would leave directly from the doctor's office to go to the park. First hitch: double meltdown at 9:30 when we were about to leave.

So, I calmed the boys down, with Grandma doing much of the heavy lifting. Mom took the baby to the appointment. They got back at around eleven, and we debated what to do. We didn't want to bring Little Bear to the park, only to have him fall asleep in the car on the way home and not get a decent nap. We decided to take two cars: The Boy and me in one, everyone else in the other. Second hitch: today was the first day that the park was closed for the season. Much disappointment was felt.

We went to the science center instead, and it was pretty cool. The Boy had a very nice time, although the museum proper was a little old for him and the young kids area was a little too young. The Sportsworks addition next door was a little old for him, although he did as much as he could. It was worth the $2 it cost us for admission (thank you, public assistance card). He stood at a urinal to go, twice.

It is still weird to look at him and see an otherwise normal kid. You know?

The rest of the day was uneventful. We got Rita's, and the boys were in bed a little early. Little Bear was picking fights with his brother for much of the afternoon, and The Baby was cute. The Boy did figure out how to fake sleeping in the car, as he fooled Grandma and me both in separate trips.


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Interesting Day

Last night, I hit the proverbial wall around 7:30pm. I have been struggling with some breathing issues over the past few weeks, and that, combined with a lack of sleep (shocker!), knocked me out just a bit after 9:45. The Wife let me sleep through a couple of nighttime wake ups, and we all finally awoke at 6:30. Since The Boy had an ultrasound scheduled for 2:00, he had to be NPO by 8:00. That means, no food except clear liquids for six hours before the test.

So, we went to IHOP for breakfast. After breakfast, the boys started to push Mum's very last nerve, so we went outside to play for an hour. Mum left to teach a lesson at that point, and Little Bear played with Grandma while I occupied the other two children. All went upstairs for naps around the time that The Boy and I left for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

We arrived around 12:45 for a 1:30 appointment, picked up some drugs at the pharmacy, went back to the car to get The Boy's pee sample (which he had graciously donated around 11:45), then up to audiology to collect batteries for his hearing aids. Insurance actually pays for a dozen hearing aid batteries for him, which is really cool. Thank you, public assistance!



We got up to oncology around 1:10, checked in, and asked for someone from child life. Grandma buys lots of arts and craft supplies for the playroom in 9B, which is the young children's oncology ward. Child life picked up the supplies and thanked The Boy, and we were called in to get weighed. This was now around 1:25. Keep in mind that we hadn't eaten since before 8am, although I cheated with a Diet Pepsi and a granola bar. We were weighed and measured, and The Boy was really irritated that he didn't get a lollypop like he usually does.

We went to the lab to get the blood draw common to these visits. The Wife was told, this morning, that nephrology would have orders in the computer so that the lab tests for nephrology and for oncology at the same time. They couldn't find those orders in the computer. We went to our examination room, and the nurse came in to say hello. It was nice to see her, as we hadn't seen her since The Boy was on treatment. She was pregnant then, and she didn't even know that The Baby was due! Anyway, she couldn't find the orders, either, so they had to contact nephrology, find out what was needed, then have Dr. G draw up a new set of orders. The new resident came in the room to take medical history and give a brief examination. After, the nurse came back in to let us know that the orders would be done for the day, and Dr. G came on for our visit and exam.

The visit was nice, and the examination came up clean. We gave the nurse the pee sample, and after the doctors left, we went down to the lab and got the blood drawn. The Boy was so cooperative through this whole process, and he didn't make a peep during the blood stick! I would have cried like a baby, but he was calm and relaxed. We finished in the lab at 2:45, and headed down to ultrasound, 45 minutes after our appointment.

We checked in to radiology, and we were told that we would get the next available opening. At around 3:30pm, the technician came and got us. The Boy was really cooperative and not nearly as grumpy as he should have been. He hadn't eaten for almost 8 hours, and we were both not too pleased. Still, he was pleasant and happy and did everything that he was asked to do. As a matter of fact, he was so calm and placid that he fell asleep on the ultrasound bed! It was very cute. After the ultrasound, I carried him down to the cafeteria, and we had his victory cheese sandwich.

Usually, we do the ultrasound before the doctor visit, but scheduling worked out opposite today. While we could possibly expedite the results, we will wait until the end of the week. If they really need to find us for an emergency, I'm sure we will hear something.



Still, it was a great visit and a wonderful bonding moment with The Boy. He also peed standing up, into a urinal! That was pretty cool to see. Every once in a while, a plan works the way we want it to work!


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Great Fatherly Pride

The Boy just stood at a urinal and peed, for the first time! I'm so proud...


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Location:Penn Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Sunday, August 21, 2011

While I Was Gone

So, I go away for a couple of days, and things continue uneventfully at home. As a matter of fact, even bedtimes went smoothly and without any drama or issues! Granted, I wouldn't want to wish the three children on one parent for any length of time on a regular basis, but The Wife handled it with aplomb and relative ease.

That is, except for the head wounds.

Yes, I'm being ironic - while both boys had nice whacks to the dome while I was away, it was entirely unavoidable and something that would have (and will) happened while I was watching them. Little Bear was climbing in and out of our bed when he fell and opened up his chin on the rim of the bedside. No stitches necessary, although he will probably have a nice little scar of his chin. The trick was trying to get the bleeding to stop and keep some kind of bandage of the wound. We got a butterfly bandage on it around bedtime, and it stayed on until the morning, so that's fine.

The Boy was jumping on his bed when he fell off and bumped his noggin on the way down. This echoes the "8 Silly Monkeys" book and song, and The Boy was asked, "8 silly monkeys jumping on the bed one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said..."

"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" he said. Sigh. The funny bit was he remembered the next bit: "...but noone said anything about jumping on the couch!" If you have little boys, you understand: they get hurt a lot. My dad calls them boy bruises - the cuts, scrapes, bruises, boo-boos, and other assorted weird things that are caused by normal human boy craziness.

Today, we made a return trip to Sandcastle, which is the waterside park associated with Kennywood. We bought season passes for next year, which will be a great decision, as we had an amazing time today. What a difference a year makes!

The Boy, last year, wandered around the edges of the pools and had an amazing time watching kids go down the little slides and have fun. Little Bear followed him around a little bit but was mostly a spectator. This year, The Boy went down all of the little water slides in the two kiddie areas about two dozen times each. He sprinted back up the ladders to go again and again, having an amazing time playing in the water. Little Bear did last year's boy impression, wandering from place to place and watching everyone do their thing.

It's pretty exciting to see! I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.




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Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm a Bad Person

This might make me a bad person, but I thoroughly enjoyed having eight hours of basically uninterrupted sleep last night. I woke up once at 5:45, got scared for a quick second ("Uh-oh! The Boy didn't come down the hall! Where is he?"), realized he was 350 miles away, then went back to sleep.

Granted, now I have to drive those 350 miles and work tonight before I see them, but one night of quality sleep does wonders for one's outlook.






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Location:West Caldwell, NJ

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the Road Again

Tonight, I'm at my father's house in New Jersey. I drove The Wife's aunt from Pittsburgh to western Connecticut, and I'm crashing here tonight. It's been a nice trip, and I had a great dinner with my dad and Uncle B.

I just told my father that I'm pretty sure that this is the first baseball game I've watched without kid interruptions in a really long time - like, world series in 2009, when The Boy was in the hospital and slept through the game. Of course, I'm being more than a little sarcastic, but it is really weird not to have the kids around.

It doesn't help that baseball games happen right in the middle of bedtime, which means that there's a break between the 5th through 8th innings (more or less) when I'm reading stories and doing baths and such. I'd really rather play with the boys and do that wonderful, intimate bedtime stuff; the game can always be watched later if anything really exciting happens.

But, it's nice to be able to yell at the television and not worry about waking anybody up. Plus, if I call a ballplayer an a$$h013, I don't have to worry about a Little Bear overhearing and repeating it.

Tomorrow, I'm driving to north of Pittsburgh for a chorus coaching session, so I won't actually see wakeful non-infants (I hope) until Saturday morning. Sigh. I miss my children already.


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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Frustration? Kind of.

One of my friends had their first child in March, and I spoke with them a few weeks after their bris to find out how things were going. They had gotten into an argument because of exhaustion and a difference of opinion as to what "sleeping through the night" meant an how it impacted the rest of their life.

Bottom line, my opinion, one needs to sleep when the baby does. If he is sleeping his five hour stretch from 9-2, regularly, then you need to adjust your bedtime. It sucks, to be sure, but when you have an infant, sacrifices must be made. Nobody likes it, but it doesn't last forever.

It sure seems like it while it's happening, though. It feels like life stops completely and will never restart. Number two feels like that and then some. Ironically, number three doesn't feel like that at all.

The Baby has been fine. Loud, occasionally grumpy, very needy of Mum, but generally good-natured, sweet, and cuddly. The areas that have us frustrated and angry all revolve around the other two children.

I'm guessing, at this point, that the lack of regular, uninterrupted sleep is playing havoc with our patience and our abilities to keep calm, rational heads as our children are losing theirs. Ultimately, that's the problem: behaviors that used to roll off of our backs and either be avoided (by some careful forethought) or gently changed have become frustrating, anger-inducing, and negative-behavior producing.

We want to be positive, patient parents who participate in the day to day lives of our kids. We want to show them positive examples of how to treat each other, and we want them to be responsible young men.

I know that some things are pipe dreams. Kids learn how to clean up after themselves by example and repetition, and it takes time and energy and effort to establish that. It's not going to happen by itself, and some backtracking is expected with the arrival of the baby.

It's not like they've been total angels since the baby came home, but our reactions to their behavior are our problem and our issue. Yes, The Boy has been bossy, and he's started this silly little "No, I've got to be first!" thing that got old after the first time he did it. He's also started violently opposing bedtime by hitting me, throwing things, and running away unless restrained - again, another thing that doesn't really fit in my personal view of parenting. He and Little Bear have started physically fighting more often, which I understand is more human nature than anything else, but still outside how we want them to behave. That one, at least, might have to be conceded to basic sibling rivalry and just managed instead of corrected. We'll see.

On the funnier side, The Boy has been waking up and dressing himself in the mornings. He usually picks fairly decent combinations of clothing. The other day, he woke up at 2am, got changed into daytime clothing, and went downstairs to hunt for us. He finally stood at the bottom of the stairs and yelled, "Daddy! Daddy, where are you? I want Kix for breakfast!" Sigh.

Bottom line, it is interesting how new-baby-freakout manifests itself. With The Boy, it was normal new parent stuff. With Little Bear, it was a significant sense of overwhelm-ed-ness, if I can make that into a word. With The Baby, it's difficult managing our behavior towards the rest of the family. I keep reminding myself that it, too, shall pass, and our worst day nowadays is still better than an average day during The Boy's treatment.



Above: The Boy drew my picture on the concrete.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

First Solo Outing









(Above: The Boy "talking" on a wood chip cell phone to Grandma, then Harriet and Abagail.)


Right now, I'm standing in a small local playground watching The Boy and Little Bear go nuts. The Baby is in the front carrier, sleeping cutely. I do love those little infant snuffles. This is my first solo outing with all three boys! I've been in the house with them, but not out by myself.

It's not hard, but it does take some amount of vigilance. The Boy likes to wander off randomly, mostly when he decides he's done with whatever activity we are currently pursuing. That's annoying, because he does it silently. Little Bear wanders, also, bit usually in search of something specific that he's yelling about.








Like now, where he made a beeline for the back of the park, yelling, "The swing! The swing!" Plus, his pants are falling down in the back, showing his little white bum to the world. While he has more of a butt than his brothers, it is still not much of a butt.








The Wife gets home from teaching in a half hour or so. We'll have lunch, and I will hopefully get a rest. It's been a tough few nights for The Boy and me, which I'll discuss later.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: Dora Live!: Dora's Pirate Adventure

Last week, we tried to get tickets for Dora's Pirate Adventure at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and failed. The shows - at 2:30 and 4:30 - were completely sold out. I bought tickets for the next week's show. Finally, Friday came around, and we went to the show today.

The boys had haircuts today, and The Boy fell asleep in the car on the way home from the haircut. I grabbed him from the car and brought him inside, and he slept in my lap until a little before 1:30. Side note: it is so nice to have a little boy curled up on your lap!!! We woke up, ran to Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a treat, then drove to the museum for the show. We parked and ran inside, getting in line for the show at a little bit after 2:00 for the 2:3 performance.

The Boy didn't want to sit and wait; I think he used that skill up yesterday at the amusement park. He wanted to go into the next room and play with all of the cool stuff, and I wouldn't let him - not at $20 a ticket, you know? He and a bunch of the other children ran around the place like chickens with no heads for a while, then he sat with me as the show began.

He was not too happy to be awake and had a difficult time conceptualizing the show, which meant that he wasn't behaving as well as he could have behaved. I think I was more excited to see the show than he was! During the show, he participated somewhat, waving the "pirate flag" (some ribbons tied together) and shouting somewhat at the characters when prompted. Mostly, he sat on my lap or next to me, sucking his thumb and getting his allotment of daddy belly.

The show itself was glorious: the acting was cute and enthusiastic, the singing was decent (albeit mostly canned, but I'm pretty sure that the actors - mostly college kids by the looks of them - were singing along), and the costumes were recognizable and fun. The dancing was neat as well, and the scenery - though sparse - was used to nice effect. I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as The Boy did. The sound system itself was atrocious, consisting of two marching band-outdoor quality speakers and a bunch of nice headsets. That's why I'm not sure how much of the singing was canned, because the speakers were preventing balance from coming out.

Grandma gave The Boy some money for souvenirs, which we used to buy the video of the cartoon episode and the storybook that goes along with it. The outing was an unconditional success, without a doubt. This particular branch of the show runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2:30 and 4:30 through September 4. Tickets are $20, and buy them in advance.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pleasant Success

Today, we took the boys to Kennywood, a local amusement park located about twenty minutes (in moderate traffic) from our home. This was the first time we had brought the boys to an amusement park since about this time last summer, so we were fascinated to see what things would be like. We picked up our discount tickets at Giant Eagle on the way out, paid for parking (got a spot about twenty-five feet from the entrance), met an old school friend of The Wife's, and proceeded into the park.



The Boy and I immediately went on a small roller coaster called the Jackrabbit, which we had gone on last summer. He patiently waited in line, and then we climbed into the car. We had an amazing ride! The scariest bit of the day came immediately afterwards, when he followed a group of boys away from me. I lost track of him for a very scary couple of minutes, until one of the nearby parents pointed him out to me. I had a picture of him from the park entranceway, so I wasn't too scared, but he's little and quick. Crisis averted, we went to find the rest of the family in Kiddieland.



The boys had a wonderful time in Kiddieland. The rides are cute and the waits are very, very short - the longest wait time in Kiddieland all day was about two minutes, for the enclosed ferris wheel ride. Little Bear started to melt down after around an hour, so we had lunch and sent the two younger ones home with Mum while I stayed with The Boy.



Here is where I was pleasantly surprised: he was utterly ideal and perfect for the three hours we were alone! We went on about a dozen rides or so, mostly adult rides like the log flume, spinning pods, and the pirate ship. The lines were long, but not unreasonably so, and my first suspicion was that he was going to flip out while we were waiting. What surprised me was that he didn't flip out, he waited quite patiently and well, and he actually asked to go on a whole bunch of rides despite long lines! Kennywood has a large selection of rides that a 40-inch high child can ride with an adult, which gave us a lot of options on the day.



Eventually the rest of the family returned to the park. One of the biggest benefits of living so close is that we can send people home to nap and to rest and bring them back in more than enough time to enjoy the evening! Little Bear was still overtired and overstimulted, so he was having a hard time with the concept of waiting. He's also still quite young, even though he's huge compared to other children. He wasn't able to handle waiting the fifteen minutes waiting for a bigger ride, so he and I and The Baby went to Kiddieland to wait for The Boy and Mum. Any wait of more than ten seconds was really, really difficult for him. He flipped out when the exit gate was left open while kids were exiting, and he wasn't allowed to enter at that moment.



Still, we had a nice time, and he really loved the elephants ride. The plane and the helicopter rides were also really cool to him, but the Phantom, jr., roller coaster was a little too scary. We left soon after, stopped at Eat N Park for dinner, and put two overtired boys to bed early tonight. This was an amazing day an an awful lot of fun for everybody. I can't wait to go back, and I'm so looking forward to bringing the boys when they love going on all of the rides!



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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Growing, Growing!

We took the boys to the spray park this afternoon. The spray park, if you've never been, is this really neat addition to a playground that involves lots of devices that shoot water into the air. The Boy absolutely loves the spray park; Little Bear is kind of indifferent to it. He spent most of the time on the swings. It was still really neat to see all of the kids playing in the park and seeing how the boys fit into the spectrum of children.



My kids are big - like, really big. Little Bear is something like the size of a three-plus year old. Still moves like a toddler, still is cautious like a toddler, but the size of an older boy. The Baby was there, and The aside was speaking with another mom who had a six week old baby, who was a solid three or four inches shorter and a couple of pounds lighter. The Boy is kind of normal sized, but he's grown quite a bit over the last month or so.

He has thickened out quite a bit. He's actually quite difficult to lift right now! He's gotten stronger and bigger, and he has certainly grown more adventurous. We went to the indoor play place - My Little Outback - yesterday in the rain, and I was pleasantly surprised to see him doing lots of climbing and jumping and crawling through stuff that he hadn't done before. It's really quite extraordinary. I blame Rodef Shalom's preschool for teaching him to try new things and play with new people.

Little Bear, despite his size, is really very, very careful in his activities. He is not eager to try new activities, and he has discovered the phrase, "That was scary!" Playing in the water part of the spray park, or going into the kiddie pool at the Family Park, is very scary to him right now. I know that he'll grow out of it, but it's weird to see my kamikaze kid being a... well, a fearful toddler. Little Bear has always been fearless and adventurous, ready to tilt at windmills with no provocation.



The Baby isn't doing anything too cool right now, although he has seemed to take a bottle fairly well over the past couple of days. Granted, it was freshly pumped breast milk, but it was still pretty cool to see. The secret is just like with his brothers: the milk needs to be warmed to body temperature, and the right nipple needs to be on the bottle. He's smiling when he sleeps, which is neat to see, and his head is moving quite nicely.

The rest of the day went quite uneventfully. We had dinner out as a family, which involved a big heap of French fries and some grilled cheeses, and The Boy and I had a nice play session outside with the hose and the small pool. I also had a nice walk with the three boys and Aunt Jeanne, and The Boy and I watched Star Wars together. Tomorrow, we are going to Kennywood for the day with the boys, which should be pretty darn awesome. I cannot wait to see Little Bear on those rides! I think he's going to go nuts.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Wonder Pets (2006)

Wonder Pets is a Nickelodeon animated series starring Ming-Ming Duckling, Linny the Guinea Pig, and Tuck the Turtle. Every day, after pre-school ends, their "action phone" rings and tells them of a baby animal who's in trouble and needs to be rescued. They assemble their flying boat, get into their costumes, and head out to solve the problem and save the baby animal. Their theme song lyrics: "We're not too big, we're not too tough, but when we get together, we've got the right stuff!" sums up the message behind the show: when you work with your team, you can accomplish anything.

Slight philosophical aside, for those of Generation X and prior: like it or not, this is what they're teaching in schools these days. Collaboration, teamwork, group efforts are the important things being taught. Most lessons tend to be student-directed from small groups. In our generation and backwards, things were taught primarily from an individual perspective. Not any more; the kids are graduating school knowing how to work in a team. It tends to have the problem that they don't really want to do anything solo, but that's a different story entirely.

Anyway, we heard about the Wonder Pets from our friends back in Scotch Plains, NJ, who have girls that are 2 and 4 years older than our older boys. The Boy discovered them on Netflix, and he's been working his way through some of the episodes during the rainy patch this week.

The show itself is pretty good. It's repetitive to the extreme, which is always a flaw in children's programming from my perspective. They shouldn't always have the exact same formula going through, bu I guess they're sticking with what they do best. The show is mostly sung; probably 75% of the dialogue is sung in a vague operatic-recitative style, which is really kind of neat to hear. I approve of the music, for sure. The characters themselves are kind of bland but moderately entertaining, with their primary virtue being cuteness. The duckling has a speech impediment that causes them to pronounce her "r" like a "w," similar to a young, young child. It's getting annoying and is not likely to be remediated.

(Funny: each episode is titled something like "Save the duckling / Save the kitten" and "Save the tree! / Save the elephant!" The Wife said that she's waiting for the episode "Save the cheerleader! / Save the world!" Heh.)

The animation is very stylistic - photos that are loosely animated to make a cartoon, similar in style as South Park. South Park is obviously more cartoony, and this uses real pictures to make the backgrounds and animals. South Park is not for children, and this is designed for young children specifically. I'm just speaking of the animation style.

I recommend this in small doses. The young kids will enjoy it; it does tend to grate on parental nerves. I kind of think it's cute; The Wife dislikes it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Difficulty With Smart Children

The Boy was playing a letter game on the iPad, which involves bouncing acorns with letters in them into slots, which turn into a picture that begins with that letter. He was on letter I, and it was 9:20 and bedtime. Bedtime wasn't urgent, because he had a long, late nap.



"Would you like to go to bed after letter J or letter L?" He stopped and thought about it for a minute. "How about after letter Z?" Grandma, sitting behind him on the bed, literally rolled over with silent laughter. That was darn fast processing speed, and it was a darn impressive logic leap. "Okay, The Boy, how about to letter O?" "How about... to letter Z?"

We settled on a compromise of going to letter Z and having only one story before bed, as opposed to starting bedtime when I suggested and having three stories. That's fair. He's doing an educational activity, kind of, so I'm okay with that. If it was Playstation games or something similar, then we would have a different negotiation.

Last night was a rough night for all of us - The Boy suddenly threw a major fit at his bedtime for absolutely no reason. This made bedtime from a pleasant half hour to an excruciating hour and a half. On the positive side, he took himself to the bathroom, took off his own night diaper, did his business, washed his hands (or at least moved the soap and towel around the counter), put his pants (but not diaper) back on, and remained dry until he woke up at almost 7:30 this morning. The Wife and I did not wake for any of that.

The boys have started an interesting morning routine: The Boy finds Little Bear standing behind his door gate, and he opens Little Bear's gate by yanking on it from behind. The two of them play trains and talk with each other. It's really quite cute. Then, they want to watch Superfriends with breakfast.

Had a job interview at a large local bank to work in the loan processing department. Should be interesting. I'll hear back at the end of the week.


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Differences in Children

Same genetic code, different daily outcomes, same long-term outcomes.



In the process of researching for my cancer journey book, I've been fascinated by the different processes that we have undertaken with The Boy and Little Bear, to get them from point A to point B. For instance, I've been reading about the journey to potty training with The Boy throughout 2010 and comparing it with Little Bear's journey over the past two months.

The Boy was a little bit older when we started to effort the potty training thing. His treatment made it more difficult to do potty training, as a miss at the wrong time could have serious health issues for the rest of the family. Chemo pee could be deadly, you know? Plus, the surgeries and the radiation did really weird things to his insides which made holding his poo quite difficult. Little Bear, thankfully, has no such issues, so we've been able to start potty training, in earnest, quite a bit earlier.

One of the other major differences is that, throughout his toddlerhood, The Boy would occasionally make a little bit of pee and poo in the potty, even stretching back to pre-treatment days (though that was more luck than anything else). Little Bear has been indifferent to the potty, and he is almost 100% pee trained. That is, he will even frequently ask to use the potty! He will not, however, poo in the potty under any circumstances. He'll get there, for sure, but it's been a much different day to day journey.



Bedtime has been similarly chronicled here, and the difference is interesting to us. Little Bear might have had a rough adjustment to his toddler bed, but after that week, he's resumed his normal ease of going to bed. The Boy is still a daily struggle, although many more nights are smooth and easy. It's still too early to say what The Baby will do, although he seems to be a sleeps-on-people stinker like The Boy.

Little Bear has taken more of an interest in The


Baby than The Boy did in him, but I think he's just following his brother's example as opposed to actually generating the interest internally. We shall see, I suppose. Little Bear is also doing more singing than The Boy did and paying more attention to music, and he asks for more specific and varied songs. His favorite song, right now, is "Let Me Call You Sweetheart!”

Gonna take the younger two for a walk. Back later.


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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stinker No. 3

He's only three weeks old, but he takes up the whole bed!


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Baby Kisses

The little baby is rapidly getting not-so-litte. It seems like he's a little bit bigger after each nap that he takes, and he is certainly eating enough for two babies. It helps that he's very strong: he's doing a great job of lifting his head up and moving it around, which feels a bit faster than either of the two other children. Like Little Bear, he's been turning himself from his back to his side really quickly. He very strongly prefers his mother to anyone else, as he usually starts screaming within thirty seconds of anyone else picking him up.

What's really cute: when he's on my shoulder, he starts rooting around and bouncing his mouth off of my cheek. It looks like he's giving me kisses! Very cute. Then, he usually tries to latch onto my nose and eat. I keep telling him that that's not the meal he wants, but he doesn't listen yet.

The Boy has suddenly gotten bigger. About two weeks ago, he suddenly gained, like, a bunch of weight - he just feels more solid than he did before then! He's eating really well lately, and he's been doing a lot more running around and climbing. It's beautiful to see, even though he's rapidly hitting the point where nobody in the house besides me can pick him up!

He and I are going to the Pirates game tonight. Tickets were on Groupon last week, and Grandpa is meeting us at the park. Should be lots of fun!


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is He A Good Baby?

So, I got the question again today: is The Baby a good baby? I gave my usual flip answer: "No, he's a bad baby. He's stabbed his brother, he tries to sneak out every night, and I'm pretty sure he took twenty bucks out of my wallet yesterday." That usually gets some nervous laughs, before I change the subject and say nice things about my little boy.



No, I will not (again) get into the philosophical discussion of what a good vs bad baby is and whether or not good and bad/evil can or should be attributed to a person who's life is so new that, if they were a library book, they would rack up no late charges. My point is not to poke fun at the questioner, but instead to examine the life of my newborn son.

He seems to be... well... a baby. A newborn baby, at that. He's very, very small, compared to his brothers, and he's very, very squishy. His legs are till froggy-shaped and haven't really straightened out like they will. His hands and arms flail about randomly, because he can't see well enough to aim them (and lacks the muscular control to intentionally grab yet). He pees and poops a lot - he's the only kid in diapers right now, and we have a lot of cloth diapers, and we are running diaper laundry every day or day and a half. Last night, for example, he wound up going through four diapers in a 30 minute time period!

Not as gross as it seems, though. Newborn poop doesn't smell and, consistency and color, resembles spicy brown mustard more than poop. Newborn pee is harmless as well. Diapers are just utterly unable to keep newborn excretions, no matter how the diapers are sized and shaped, so you just deal with it. Whatever.



The boys are adjusting quite well to the baby, I think. There's still the attention issue that we still need to work through, which isn't much of an issue when both parents are still at home, unemployed. The Boy comes downstairs in the morning, or home from an outing, saying, "Where's Mum and The Baby? I want to see the tiny little baby named The Baby!" The Boy will frequently pause his running about and playing to give his baby brother a kiss, or to beep his little nose, or to tickle his belly a little bit. Little Bear is starting to emulate that, although he's still too little to really understand what's happening.

The good news is that the nighttime stuff is starting to work itself through, although The Boy does get up two or three time to go potty. We don't have a nighttime diaper solution for him that he can take on and off by himself, so a parent still needs to be there to supervise. That would be me, because I can't do what The Wife does for the newborn. The only other issue is that when The Boy joins us, it's later in the morning, when he's ready to be awake. This means he spends the snuggle time kicking me, poking me, and otherwise preventing me from getting some wonderfully needed 6:15-6:45am sleep. The good news: he's staying in his room, willingly enough, until it's daylight. The bad news: daylight is really, really early this time of year.


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