Friday, January 27, 2012

A Laughing Matter

The Boy’s joke: “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Boo!” “Boo who?” “Awww…. Why are you crying?” Roll on the ground in laughter. Another favorite joke: “What flower blooms between your nose and your chin?” “I give up. What flower blooms between your nose and your chin?” “Tulips! Get it, two lips?” Another favorite: “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Apple.” “Apple who?” “Knock-knock.” (repeat three or four times) “Orange.” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad I didn’t say apple?”

Little Bear is trying like heck to tell the jokes, but he doesn’t quite get it yet. Toddlers are very, very literal creatures, and the vagaries of humor are past their understanding. Bless his heart, he’s trying. Here’s his attempt, which is hilarious on an entirely different level: “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Apple.” “Apple who?” “Awww… why are you crying?” That is funny on an awful lot of levels, most of them unintentional. Probably, it is funniest because of the sincerity that he feels when he tells the joke!

The development of humor is absolutely fascinating to watch. The Boy is at a point where slapstick humor – people falling down, getting bonked on the head, etc. – is the absolute height of funny. Looney Tunes (the original Bugs Bunny stuff) is completely brilliant to him and will generally provoke a reaction up to, and including, literally rolling on the floor. I am absolutely dying to introduce him to the Three Stooges. That’s definitely a Daddy thing (pretty much, no American woman – with few exceptions – likes the Stooges), but he’s not quite there yet. He is thrown a bit by the black and white, and it does take a little while of story before they start whacking each other with hammers.

Thinking about it, I might want to wait a little while before introducing the Stooges. He does know where I keep my hammers.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Riding Drrrty

The boys did do some bike riding yesterday. Well, Little Bear rode on the tricycle. The Boy wasn’t in the mood for riding. The Boy would set up a pile of small boxes, and Little Bear would run into them on the tricycle. Both would fall over laughing. Rinse, lather, and repeat, and that was a solid half hour or so of fun time that The Wife had yesterday. It’s really nice that my in-laws have such a big garage, that the kids can play with their bikes!

YouTube Video

I had a nice daddy playtime yesterday. The Boy had pulled the cushions off of the couch, and we played on the cushions. It was a relatively simple game: he’d say, “Get me, Daddy!”, and I’d pick him up or drag him from wherever he was and throw him on the largest stack of pillows. Little Bear was really not feeling well, so he stayed out of the game for quite a while. He eventually joined us, wearing a t-shirt, no socks, and boots. Ah, the casual nudity of the toddler…

After that, the three of us played “Hide and Speak,” as The Boy calls it. He counted to 10, I hid, and he found me. I counted to 10, I’d start to look for him, and he’d jump out: “Here I am, Daddy!” When I tried to explain that that wasn’t how the game worked, he fell over laughing. Again, rinse, lather, and repeat. The end of the game came when I hid underneath a blanket, which started a game centered around building a fort.

It really is nice to see the boys playing together as much as they do. I’m still kind of tickled about the day in December when The Boy was home sick, and Little Bear’s teachers called us. He was wandering around the playground, looking for his brother, and was very, very sad that The Boy wasn’t there! It’s sad, for sure, but a little heartwarming that my boys love each other like they do. May it continue with The Baby, and may it continue through adulthood.

Little Bear starts swimming lessons next week. That’s his reward for a week’s worth of no poo accidents. I have a feeling that my children are going to be like fish next summer, something that I’m perfectly fine with. It certainly makes Sandcastle more fun!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Update

This past weekend, I went away to northern Ohio to attend a Sweet Adelines event, which went marvelously. I am so blessed, to have the friends and colleagues that I have; I wasn’t able to attend the Friday night sessions, but I had “substitutes” that were ready, willing, and able to step in and be me for a couple of hours. Best part of the weekend? The blissful 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep on Saturday night, which was richly needed after arriving in Ohio at 12:30AM the previous night and running 6 hours of rehearsals and such. Well, that and the whole “making new friends” thing, but I think the sleep trumped it all.

The Wife handled the children with her usual facility, and Aunt J was a welcome addition for the weekend. Because of all the snow, they didn’t really go anywhere; I did get a cute picture of the boys playing with sandbox shovels and buckets in the snow. When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I wound up underneath a pile of happy little boys. For a change, The Boy wanted to take a nap in his bedroom instead of mine, so I wound up falling asleep in his little bed.

When I awoke, The Boy had a friend coming over to play. I took Little Bear, and we went to the comic book store and to visit an ailing friend in the hospital. He was very, very cute, which I hoped helped her feel better. After that, we picked up pizza and wings for the football game. The Giants – my team – won their game, and The Wife allowed me (quite generously) to watch the game, putting the children to bed by herself. The Baby did seem to enjoy the bit of football that he watched.

My new work schedule will start next week or so. My definite hours are 9-2 Monday through Friday, with the option to work an additional 15 hours per week as I can, officially a part time job offer. We’ll see what’s going to happen with that. I’m not even sure exactly what I want to do, but it’ll probably be something along the lines of an 8:00-4:30 shift each day, with maybe a change on Tuesdays for chorus rehearsal.

Not much new to report, as I didn’t do much parenting this weekend. The Baby had his first two teeth break through the gum this weekend, and he reported to his 6-month doctor’s appointment at 28 inches and 20 pounds. He’s long and lean, just like his brothers. He still looks a lot like The Boy did at that age (may he have a better 10-month birthday than The Boy did), but he’s definitely developing “his own thing,” as The Wife stated.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Travel Day

The Baby had his 6-month well checkup today at the doctor’s office. He came in at 28 inches and 20 pounds. That’s pretty big. I don’t remember exactly what the other boys were at six months – and I’m too lazy to check – but I don’t think they were this big. He had potatoes at breakfast this morning, eating some off of my wife’s plate. He sits up pretty well right now, as long as you don’t leave him there for too long. Falling over – at least on a bed or couch – is really, really funny to him right now.

I had a good Daddy night last night. I got home from work at the normal time, around 5:15, and we hibernated for the evening because of a little bit of snow. We had several rousing games of “Gonna Get You!”, the highlight of which was me chasing The Boy with Little Bear on my back. Remarkably entertaining. We did a good job getting the kids to bed, as we converted any resistance to laughing and playing. Even The Boy went to sleep without a struggle, taking two stories and drowsing during “The Night Kitchen.”

It’s very cute when I get up, and he says, ”No, Daddy, don’t go! Turn the light out so I can sleep.”

I’m leaving immediately after work to go to a Sweet Adelines event in northern Ohio. It’ll be a late night tonight and a long day tomorrow, but it’ll be worth it – good fellowship, good fun, great music. Even more to look forward to: a night’s worth of sleep with no babies crying, no potty trips (except my own), no 4-year old feet in my kidneys…

Aunt J is coming over the house for the weekend, which is nice (Grandma and Grandpa are in Maryland visiting The Wife’s siblings), although The Wife did admit today that she was anticipating the challenge and fun of having the kids to herself for the weekend. I’m sure she could have handled it, although Aunt J is a welcome addition to the weekend’s plans.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012


The cool thing about the whole baby-lead weaning process is how the introduction of new foods is a complete sensory experience for The Baby. He has to get used to picking up a new piece of food and figuring out how to get it in his mouth, and that can be quite the experience. With cucumbers, green beans, and broccoli (the three foods he’d had prior to today), picking up the food was relatively easy, and none of them squish without some effort. Broccoli does smash on the table quite satisfactorily, as he evidenced by bashing the broccoli repeatedly on the table of his high chair.

This morning, we gave him bananas for the first time. Bananas are a bit more problematical than the other fruits: banana slices are kind of sticky, and they are not easy to get up off of the high chair tray table. When you finally pick up the slice, it’s very easy and rewarding to squish the slices in between your fingers instead of eating; it’s also easy to squish them when trying to bring it to your mouth. He had a bit of a struggle, but he finally managed to get some into his mouth and chew.

That’s actually the strongest part of Baby-Lead Weaning: the fact that the kids struggle and practice to get the food into their own mouth. At this point in the process, he’s not actually receiving significant nutrition from the food. He doesn’t need the food to survive. As he gets better at feeding himself, his nutritional needs have grown correspondingly. Plus, it keeps him busy and entertained while the rest of us eat breakfast, cleaning dishes, or bringing little boys to the potty.

I do admit to missing the “traditional” feed the baby with a spoon, at least a little bit. I think it’s more missing the idea of the intimacy of the feeding, rather than having to take the ten to fifteen minutes to actually do it at every meal. I still sneak a little bit of baby-feeding when I can, which my wife gracefully ignores. I’m also pretty darn happy that we haven’t had to make the expense of buying baby food, which is darn expensive. I think, still, that the only jar of baby food that we bought was during The Boy’s treatment, when we were away and needed some apple sauce to give his medicines.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good morning!

Little Bear came downstairs this morning looking for me, once he was done with the potty. It’s very cute, incidentally, to see him dash from his room to the bathroom after each sleep period. He came running into the kitchen, saw me, and skidded to a halt. At two and a half, sudden stops never quite go as planned, and it took him a second to regain his bearings.
“Daddy, I have to show you a question!”

“Yes, Little Bear?”

“Ah-WOOOOOOOOO!” he said, howling like a wolf.

“I see. Thank you!”

“Daddy, I have to show you another question!”

“Yes, Little Bear?”

“Ah-WOOOOOOOOO!” he said again, grinning fiercely. That grin is a million-dollar smile, incidentally, and might be the best smile of any of the branches of my family.

“I see. Thank you!”

“Daddy, want breakfast! Want Rice Crispix!” That’s what he calls Crispix, which he has somewhat confused with Rice Krispies. He knows the difference between the cereals and can request either one, but he likes Crispix better. The Wife came down with The Baby, and she put him in his chair so she could do her morning thing.

The Boy came down a few minutes later and picked at a plate of food. In a couple of minutes, he got up and followed me around the downstairs while I gathered my things for work. Little Bear, meanwhile, powered through his bowl of cereal, climbed over to his brother’s chair, and finished his breakfast. The Boy saw Little Bear in his chair and flipped out; he wasn’t upset about the food (he wasn’t hungry), just about the fact that his little brother was sitting in his chair. I moved Little Bear and the plate of food, and all was right with the world.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Last month, we were having real issues with Little Bear and his sleep cycles. That is, he was up at 5:30AM as if he set an alarm. This is not ideal. Pretty much, no matter when we sent him to bed (earlier, later, normal times), he was up at the same time and ready to go, usually with a night diaper full of stuff. (In retrospect, maybe it was his eating times that were doing it… but, I digress.)

Over the past week or so, he’s been sleeping later and later, frequently to 7:30 or 8:00. We’ve been putting him to bed a little bit later, usually closer to 8:30, and I have to say that it’s been nice. It’s no fun to have him turn into a pumpkin at 7:00PM, particularly since I don’t get home from work until after 5. It’s been a bit harder getting him to bed at night. He’s frequently up once or twice between 8:30 and 10, acting like normal Little Bear: “Need to go potty!” That is significantly more acceptable than having to get up at 5:30 every single morning.

The Baby is starting to settle his schedule quite a bit. He’s taking a reliable morning nap, a reliable afternoon nap, and a reliable evening nap before bedtime. (What a life, huh?) He’s even gotten to the point where we can put him down in his crib or in bed or in the pack’n’play for big chunks of his nap! He still generally prefers to have people as a bed, but he’s getting better about it.

The Boy, on the other hand, is… well… The Boy. He needs his daddy time at night, including stories and snuggling. I’ve been trying to leave the room while he’s still awake so he gets used to it, but it has mixed results. 7 nights out of 10, he says, “Turn the light off, please,” and goes to sleep. This week has been the other three nights: hours of fits, crying, screaming, and complete inconsonability. (Is that a word?) Ironically, he’s been comfortable and relaxed if I’ve run on the elliptical machine next door to his room, and that’s calmed him down sometimes.

I know I’ll miss the intimacy of having bedtime with my boys when they’re older. I do eventually want grown-up time, though. That is a bit of an exaggeration, I guess; they’re pretty good, most of the time. It’s just nights like the last couple, when I’ve had a million things on my mind, it gets challenging.

I do understand that that’s why he’s acting up – when I’m distracted and paying attention to other things, that’s when he tries anything to gain my attention. He’s My Boy, and he saves all of his best fits for me. I get that, and I hope that, in later life, I’ve been patient enough.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Solid Food and Review: Beauty and the Beast 3D

It's The Baby's half birthday, which is a pretty big deal. Hard to believe that he's 6 months old already, although I admit that it's getting harder and harder to remember life before him. I think that's true with all of the children; your mind and emotions adjust to the new paradigm such that the old one is kind of relegated to a historical view of things: you remember it happening, but it's almost like it happened to somebody else.

Last night, we gave him broccoli for the first time - his first solid food. He handled it like a pro: picked it right up, put it right in him mouth, and commenced chewing. I other words, basically how he's handled everything else up to this point in his life. We know that he swallowed some, because there were little broccoli chunks in his poop this morning. Still, it was a promising beginning to the baby-lead weaning to which my wife subscribes and has used (with great success) with the other boys.

Before then, I took The Boy to see Beauty and the Beast in 3D at the local movie theater. That was a mixed success; he had a good time, but I'm not sure how much he actually enjoyed the movie itself. I forgot how much of the movie happens internally to the characters, how much is conveyed in a glance, a bitten lip, a smile. I had the feeling, most of the way through the movie, that The Boy was echoing the character Chip, who kept asking, "What's happening? What do you mean?" to the adult characters. The 3D glasses were a mixed success; he wore them through most of the first half of the movie, then just preferred to watch the blurry picture until the end. He did tell me about the end of the movie when he woke up this morning, so I know that a little bit took.

That movie, itself, is probably one of my top three favorite movies of any sort. The soundtrack is beyond sublime, providing an expressive element matched by few Broadway scores. The voice acting is superb, and the writing is fluid and seamless. The 3D was pretty good and entirely devoid of gimmicky cheap thrills, mostly consisting of layers that provided depth and contrast to the characters. I found the 3D to be comfortable and not at all distracting, which is rare for the post-effect 3D that I've seen.

The previous evening, we had a very nice dinner out with a school family of The Boy's. Their daughter (in his class) had a kidney transplant and a younger age, so we feel some amount of kinship to them. Brothers of the urinary tract, I guess. We stayed until the kids started to act whacky, close to bedtime. It is nice to have some friends that have few expectations for you; just a gathering for a nice, simple meal. I give my wife a lot of credit for making the social engagements that we've made; I've been so focused on my job and my chorus, lately, that I don't think I've had a spare moment to think about my friends.

Little Bear has been progressing nicely towards potty training, at a steeply accelerating learning curve. He's decided that he's interested in putting poo in the potty, so he's set his mind to it. We've now had three or four accident-free days. I think he's finally turn the corner, although a regression is not only possible but expected. We all miss occasionally, right? He's been working on his reading, trying to reconstruct stories like "Should I Share My Ice Cream?" from memory while looking at the pictures. It's very cute.

This weekend should be interesting. Grandma and Grandpa are going to be away, and I leave for a Sweet Adeline's event immediately after work on Friday and don't return until Sunday afternoon. That leaves The Wife home alone with 3 boys. I almost feel guilty about looking forward to Saturday night, when I can sleep in my own bed, with no little people, and lots of room, and no one to wake me.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Fun Stuff

The Boy likes coming up to me and saying, "Daddy, I want to tell you a question!" This is usually followed by something like, "The clock has letters on it that say The Boy!" or "I like orange!" I'm trying to get him to understand the difference between a question and a statement, but I'm not sure it's going to take. Little Bear has started greeting me like The Boy did at 2 and a half: "Daddydaddydaddydaddy, Hi, Daddy! Daddydaddydaddydaddydaddy, Hi, Daddy!" while he bounces up and down. It's very cute, and it's very awesome first thing in the door after a day of work. The Baby is going to start solid foods this weekend - most likely broccoli. I'm excited for that, even if it's a little scary that he's hitting 6 months old so quickly. He likes playing with the sippy cup of water at dinnertime, although he doesn't seem to want to drink from it. He just likes throwing it around, and he seems to have discovered the gravity game. We're going to try to take the kids to Chuck'E'Cheese this weekend. We have a coupon, $20 for a pizza, two drinks, and some tokens. That's pretty reasonable for a night out with some fun things. I haven't been to a Chuck'E'Cheese since I was about 12 or 13. I'll bet it hasn't changed that much. Little Bear in the ball pit? Yes, please. I might have some great employment news next week. I'm not going to count my chickens until they hatch, however., and spill beans here. It's been bad enough, getting out of the habit of posting on a daily basis; I don't want to jinx myself as well. The Boy really enjoys 1-piece footsie pajamas. I think they're really cute, but it's not much fun trying to get a night diaper on him in those pajamas, particularly when someone leaves his underpants on. A minor pitfall, to be sure, but it is possible to change him from underpants to night diaper without waking him. On Monday night, The Boy read the entire "Green Eggs and Ham" book. I mean, he actually read all of the words. When he made a word mistake, he was able to correct himself, correctly telling the difference between "would" and "could" and similar things like that. It's a little frightening to see; I was an early reader, but I don't think I was reading quite that early. I do enjoy having smart children. Little Bear is loving the iWriteWords app on iPad, which teaches how to spell words and draw letters the "correct" way. He's pretty good at it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 7: The Voyage Home

The adults woke up at around 6:00 in the morning, and the children blissfully slept later. This allowed us to load the car, finish the last-minute bag packing, and prepare a light breakfast for them before waking them up. The car was loaded successfully, and we went on the the airport. I dropped the family off at the departures window and went to drop the rental car off.

As with everything else on the trip, this nt smoothly and completely without incident. I dropped the car off, got the receipt, and met up with the family right around the time that they finished curbside checkin. We made our way through security (dumb note: can't bring a 20 ounce Mountain Dew onto an airplane from outside security), went to the gate, and waited. We grabbed some extra breakfast for the family. Our Make A Wish button got us onto the airplane first, and we took the front rows of the flight for the extra legroom.

The flight went smoothly. We took right off, landed and coasted to our gate quickly, and our luggage came promptly off of the plane. Grandpa got the car from long term parking, I loaded all of the luggage inside, and we got home around 1:30. A family nap followed after a light lunch. The next morning I returned to work. No problems!

In the time since, I've gone through the more than 600 pictures that we took, narrowing it down to only around 450 shots that are fairly decent. There's about 50 really, really nice pictures in there! That doesn't count, by the way, the photos taken by Disney (around 75, but 50 of them are stock shots of the park and characters) and those taken by Give Kids The World (probably another 75 or so, including a bunch of professional shots of the resort buildings). We bought Give Kids The World photo books and used Walgreens to print 25 pictures for each book. Little Bear tells us each day that he went up and down in an airplane and that he saw the castle. The Boy seems to remember quite a bit more, and he is looking forward to bringing his picture book into school. Some other notes we discovered: Little Bear snores when he sleeps. I'm pleasantly surprised at my kids' priorities when it comes to toys. Inevitably, they chose a toy that they wanted to actually use, instead of the biggest, shiniest toy. We bought them toys at every stop; in every case, they picked a smaller toy that they used quite a bit instead of the big, flashy toy. In some cases, I actually bought a bigger toy or multiples of the smaller toy for them, just on general principle.

The stroller is great to have for security reasons if no other. Having the children right in front of you is much better than dragging them along by the hand or, worse, carrying them. The resort is unbelievably amazing. If we had done nothing other than spend the day at the sort, we would have been happy and busy. I only wish we had more time there, so we could have spent more time exploring and playing! You don't get to do much at Disney with little kids. By the time you get to the park, get inside, walk to the first attraction, wait in line, go to the next... We wound up doing only three to four attractions on each stop, with a meal in the middle. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we were happy that we were so close to the parks. Taking a midday rest as a necessity.

I could not imagine going to Disney with little kids and no magic Make A Wish pass. The shortest lines were around a half hour, and I couldn't imagine having one or more small children and having to entertain them for that long. I think our next trip will be sometime around when the smallest child is, like, ten and able to wait in lines without having to be entertained. Sleeping five in a room was not nearly the problem we expected. The trick as getting Little Bear some alone time so he could fall asleep; once he was asleep, he slept pretty soundly. The rest of us just went in and slept. Seeing the thousands and thousands of stars on the ceiling of the Castle of Miraclea was a sobering, difficult thought. Some of the kids, like The Boy, were on a Victory Trip. Some of the them were on a Final Trip. That could easily have been us. What if The Boy's surgery last January (2009) discovered another growth? We might have gone to Disney much, much earlier and under different circumstances. We were really lucky with the weather. Gorgeous, 70's, and only a little rain. Can't complain about that at all!