Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blessed Quiet

I will again repeat: these glorious moments in the morning, when no one else is awake, are some of my favorite times of the day. The children and my wife are blissfully asleep. It's a Saturday, so besides some singing for her, for the rest of us it's a relatively untimed day. I can sit here with my coffee, type a bit, and listen to the silence.

It looks like the fevers have mostly broken. Little Bear was fine at bedtime. The Baby was still a bit warm but trending in the right direction. Both of them stayed home from the kindergarten education dinner at temple tonight, and they were both asleep by 7:30.


Little Bear woke up and called for me. I sat down with him, and we started our normal morning ritual. "Good morning, Little Bear. Did you sleep well?" "Yes." "Did you have nice dreams?" "Yes." "What did you dream about?"

Last night's dream involved him being lost in Wonderland. The Justice League found him and saved him, and then they fought the Queen of Hearts. I always lean in, eyes wide: "Who won?" I wait with breathless anticipation. He pauses, gathers himself, and whispers intensely: "The Justice League!" I cheer, excited and concerned for them.


The Boy and The Baby were just starting to stir when I sent Little Bear to go potty and get dressed, so I snuggled in with them while they woke. Same set of questions. The Baby said he dreamed about elephants. The boy never chooses to answer. That's okay.


The fevers are gone and the trip is on. We just got back from breakfast, and I'm updating the iPads and iPhones that are traveling with us. Once that's done, the car is already loaded, so we'll go play in the park for an hour before leaving. Run the sillies out, then they'll nap halfway to Maryland. It's a long weekend, but any weekend spent with the boys is a good one.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Plan B

Here was the plan for the week, since Grandma and Grandpa are leaving Thursday afternoon to help with the wedding planning: on Thursday, The Baby was supposed to spend the day with the babysitter. Little Bear would go to Rodef as per normal and get dropped off at Grandma's house; The Boy had a half day of school, so he'd go to Grandma's. The Wife also had a half day; she'd pick the boys up at Grandma's house and hang out with them until I got home. Friday, all three boys would head to Rodef. The Boy would be the "student helper" for the day. You know, Big Man in Kindergarten with all the littler kids 'n'at. I was taking a half day from work on Friday and working at home, so I'd pick the three up at 12:30 and spend the day with them. Friday night, we have a Sunday School event dinner at Beth Shalom. Saturday morning, I was going to take the kids out to breakfast, then run them around the park for an hour or two before hitting the road for Maryland. Picnic at 6pm for dinner, then pictures at 1pm on Sunday morning. Complicating things a bit, I am supposed to drive them myself. The Wife has a concert Saturday night, and she'll be driving herself afterwards.

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." John Lennon. "Man plans, G-d laughs." Old Yiddish proverb.

Tuesday afternoon, The Wife got a phone call for a job interview VERY south of town. The interview would be Wednesday afternoon. Little Bear woke up at 3am with an elevated temperature; he went back to sleep after some Tylenol, and the fever was gone the next morning. His behavior was normal, so he went to school. The Wife went to the interview; the superintendent and principal got called away for an emergency (a legit one involving fire elsewhere in the district) and rescheduled the interview for Thursday afternoon. Little Bear's temperature spiked to just over a hundred at Grandma's house in the afternoon, and The Baby was feeling warm around bedtime. The Baby had a restless night and woke with a temperature in the high 99s. Neither child went to preschool today. The Boy is, at this point, fine and as normal as he ever is.

So, plans rapidly change. Grandma graciously accepted the younger boys until they are leaving for Maryland. I'm leaving work at 2:30 to get them and bring them home-ish. The Wife's interview is at 2:15 or so down south. Depending on what's happening with the sickies, either she's going to go to the parent/teacher conference (for The Boy, at 4:15) by herself, or we'll bring everybody with us. After the conference, I'll work from home and finish the last hour and a half of my day.

Tomorrow will depend on what happens with the other two children. If they're better and can go to school, then I'll still work the half day. Otherwise, I'll just have to take the full day off from work to care for the sick kids. I hate taking the day, but such is life.

As far as the wedding this weekend, we're in "wait and see" mode. Most of the time, these fevers come and go in 24 or 48 hours. If they're better by Saturday morning, then the weekend will go as planned. If not, then The Boy will go with The Wife late Saturday night, after her concert. I'd say we're probably about 60-40 going as planned; there's always the chance / likelihood that The Boy starts showing fever between now and the wedding, particularly tomorrow when he's cooped up all day with Sickie 2 and Sickie 3. Oh, and that also assumes that The Wife and me don't get sick, either. Considering that I have my show next weekend, it's a virtual certainty that I will be getting sick.

That's the big difference between 1 kid and 2 or 3 kids; we don't arrive at a place, we descend on it. There are an awful lot of balls in the air on any given day to make sure that the children have coverage 100% of the time, and having to re-do multiple days' schedules at the drop of a hat is a Herculean task. Wow.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day Off

On Monday, I was off from work because of Collumbus Day. So, I took the boys to school and came home, armed with a "Honey Do" list.

I suppose that's kind of a misnomer and unfair to The Wife; she really doesn't have a Honey-Do list. If she wants me to do something, she asks, and I generally do it then and there. There aren't very many things around the house that she wants me to do - either she's going to do it on her own, or it just doesn't really occur to her to ask. I'm the one that pokes around the house, finds the broken stuff, and figures out whether or not I can fix it. In this case, I had a simple list: spackle some curtain rod holes still leftover from the move-in last year.

(I never said I did my tasks quickly.)

I stopped at the driver's license center to figure out that they aren't open on Columbus Day, either, which makes a certain amount of sense. I then went home, gathered my tools, then climbed into bed and went to sleep. I got up in time to stop at the doctor's office, which - because of the waiting time - turned into a not-quick visit. I then went and picked up Little Bear and The Baby at Rodef.

The Baby is funny. He generally doesn't have a hard time with most drop-off days at Rodef. He likes his teachers and his friends, and now that he's in the schedule, he's good. So, he was playing and walking around, turned and saw me, then burst into tears. Sigh. Little Bear was involved enough with his lunch that he didn't notice me for five minutes of so, then said hi, finished what he was doing, and came with me.

It was raining, so we didn't go to the zoo like I had initially planned. Instead, I took the kids to a neat playground in Fox Chapel. Both fell asleep quickly, as I thought they would. What I miscalculated: the length of their sleep cycle. When we got to the playground, I sat for a while and waited for them to stir. They woke up cranky and upset, and both refused to get out of their chairs and go to the playground. Sigh. Instead, we went back into town and got frozen yogurt.

After that, we went home and played. I'm cool with that. It was a nice afternoon, and we pretended we were in Kingdom Hearts. The Baby decided he was Donald, and I was Goofy. Little Bear was occasionally Sora (the main character) and occasionally Superman, depending on whatever was needed. I sometimes changed into Super-Daddy (you know, Superman's Daddy), and sometimes I was either Lex Luthor or Oogie-Boogie (from Nightmare Before Christmas), depending on which villain he needed to vanquish. The Wife got home, and we traded children so I could go to quartet rehearsal.

Interesting note about The Baby: Little Bear, The Baby, and I went to the JCC on Sunday morning. The open gym wasn't open yet, so we went to the playroom. The Baby saw the open playroom with the other kids and parents and absolutely flipped his lid. It took him 15 minutes to calm down. Basically, he was certain that I was going to leave him alone in the playroom with the other kids and go away. That makes me SOOOO sad! I hate that we have to do that to our kids, but iit's really expensive to live on one income. All was not lost: once he figured out that I wasn't leaving, he calmed down and played. Little Bear had no such qualms, having gone to the playroom with me on an awful lot of occasions


Maryland trip for the wedding this weekend. Down part: wedding is 3pm on Sunday, which means leaving 5 or 6pm on Sunday and arriving home between 10pm and midnight on a school / work night. Ugh. Excited about the wedding; not so much about the drive.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Facing Front

So, we reached another milestone over the weekend: we turned The Baby's car seat around to front-facing. That's a pretty big deal, as it's one step closer to not needing the car seats at all! (Imagine: getting my car back!) He seems to enjoy it a little bit more. I'm certain he enjoys the leg room.

Side note: he's actually not close to the weight limit for rear-facing. It's the height. Like his brothers, he's a skinny, LOOOONG little thing. But, his head was starting to poke over the top of the carseat, and that becomes dangerous.

We have a major complication for the week: the babysitter's daughter was diagnosed with hand-foot-mouth disease, which throws huge chunks of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday into difficulty. Grandma and Grandpa are going away from Wednesday through Friday as well, which only makes it that much more challenging. Not to mention that, you know, my kids were hanging out with her last week. Sigh. Good thing that those things are most contagious before symptoms show, or we'd be quite worried. No symptoms yet, I think. We'll see what happens.

So, we're delving into the second and third stringers in terms of child care - putting together people to watch the kids for an hour or two at a time. What makes this REALLY difficult is the fact that the kids need - you guessed it - car seats to travel from place to place. Now that The Baby is front-facing, it should make it somewhat easier - many of our friends have multiple small children and thus multiple car seats, so they can transport one of their kids and one of mine from place to place. The transportation issue is what really complicates child care: how do we get multiple children from Rodef Shalom to a babysitter's house, for instance, when grandma (who has 3 car seats in her car) is away? Multiple drivers for multiple children, naturally. Sigh.

Please note that second and third stringers should not be considered as qualitative judgments on their child care abilities; more that it's the people that have said, "Let us know if we can help!" without having us actually take them up on the offer before. See: how to help from January 2009 or so. Incidentally and not coincidentally, there's a few people that have seriously moved up our lists this week by being able to take care of the slack. There have been more than one set of people who offer to help, except when it's not convenient for them. In this case, people have been accommodating and helpful for us.

(Not that they haven't been before. I have to give a major, major shout-out to Rodef Shalom, who have been so gracious, accommodating, and wonderful to us. They've really bent over backwards with no notice to help us out. Friendship like that will not be soon forgotten.)

It's going to be an interesting ride this week. Hold on to your hats.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013


So, last night, The Wife was not feeling well. She spent dinner time at her parents' house with the boys while I had quartet rehearsal, and I met them back at the house around 8. The boys had already taken a bath at Grandma's house, so they just needed to get into pajamas. The Boy was practicing violin when I got home, and The Baby and Little Bear were fighting over the iPad. I took it away from both of them and shooed them upstairs.

The Boy joined us soon after, and The Wife stayed downstairs to relax a bit. We all cuddled up on my bed and read the next section of Neil Gaiman's new book, "Fortunately The Milk," which is marvelous. It's a great, illustrated adventure story starring a father who is trying to bring home milk for his kids' breakfast. Along the way, he encounters aliens (who want to redecorate the planet - replace our mountains with throw pillows and Australia with a giant commemorative plate shaped like Australia), Professor Steg (a stegosaurus), natives looking for a sacrifice to their volcano-God, and pirates. In short, everything a young mind wants to encounter in their daily life: "scary" bad guys that aren't really scary and can be outwitted with some creativity.

I started reading the book Monday night. I had left my iPad at work, and The Wife was using hers. Seeing the illustrations really adds to the story, so I used an alternative solution than reading it on my phone to them: I used Airplay mirroring and read the book off of the television in our room. That way, the words and the pictures were visible for all. I'm really proud of that, particularly since all three boys enjoyed reading and looking at that.

The Baby lost interest fairly quickly and started to play with the iPad. Little Bear fell asleep after about a page, and The Boy hung on for about 10-15 pages before falling asleep. I just stayed there for a little while, enjoying the relative silence (The Baby was trying to play Cut the Rope and failing, but since he was having fun, whatever).There are few things more rewarding, I think, than having a pile of small boys asleep, snuggled up to you.

Tonight, the Pirates are playing in the division series against the Cardinals at 5pm. I'm meeting the family at my in-laws' house: we don't have cable, so we can't watch the game on TBS. We'll have dinner there. The Wife has quartet practice, so we'll head back over at the end of the game (or 7:30, or when the kids start going nuts). We might finish the book tonight, or we might not. That's okay. I think this one will become part of the regular rotation.

Editor's note: we didn't. We made about 10 more pages. It's a fun book, and they like it, but they're sleepy little things.

All About The Baby

The Baby is quite an entertaining little man. It is amazing to watch him interact with his brothers and to learn new information; having two little people around him, showing him by example how to do things, has allowed him to do quite advanced things. His singing, for instance, shows quite a bit of range and pitch accuracy (relative to other 2-year olds). I mean, don't get me wrong - he is clearly a preschooler / toddler, and clearly a 2-year old baby with all the positives (snuggling) and negatives (potty training and tantrums) that that implies. He is a delightful little person.

One of the little things that we play with the boys: "How much does Daddy love (insert child's name)?" The response is "SOoooooo much!" or "MMMMmmmmm-ah!" depending on the responder. The Baby responds differently: "How much does Daddy love The Baby?" His response: "Me!!!!" while putting his hand in the air. Same concept, different question ("Who's the baby?" "Me!!!!")

He also really, really loves the "This Is Halloween" song from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and he sings along in the car with it. He knows a surprisingly large amount of the lyrics! He will also walk around the house singing some of my quartet's songs, particularly "Go The Distance," from Hercules - "I love Hercules!" he will say. He knows how to navigate a Netflix queue, and does a nice job with the letter and word games on the iPad.

His napping is becoming a little spotty - since he needs to nap with a buddy, he will nap with Grandma on the afternoons that he's there. If he's at the babysitter's house, he will not nap. His sleep at night becomes funny - if he takes the nap he really needs and should take, then he's up until 9:30 or 10:00. If he doesn't nap, he passes out around 4:30 and then is awake until midnight. So, pick your poison. The other boys tend not to nap unless a long car ride; The Baby still needs his.

The Baby's adjusted quite well to school. He doesn't cry any more when we drop him off. Today, we got into the classroom and changed into his pullup pants, and he said, "Bye, Daddy! Bye, Daddy!" and ran off to play without a second look. That's a nice change from a few weeks ago, when he'd cry hysterically for most of the car ride and for an hour or so into the school day. That child is attached to his parents.

He's also been splitting his nighttime snuggle time with both parents, which is nice to see. Mom is still his majority preference, but there are plenty of times when he sits up, looks at us both, and snuggles up to me. I love that. If Mom is busy at night, then he will snuggle with me without an issue. (The only issue is when she's getting up and settling down and getting up, kind of coming in and out of the room while doing stuff. He doesn't like that. He wants his snuggle partners to stay put.)

Going to preschool with Little Bear has been a big help. They play together during outside time.