Saturday, November 30, 2013

Written Monday

Around Halloween, I re-started my gluten free diet. This is not a particularly new thing for me; I've been on limited gluten for a long time, except since we've moved to Pittsburgh, I've kind of let it slide. (Not coincidentally, my weight's crept back up about 15-20 pounds over the last few years. I'm not sad about that; with all the weightlifting I've been doing over the last year, I need the extra mass. When I'm lighter, I get hurt easier while lifting. When I'm this weight, I can lift with a lot fewer negative side effects.) The Baby has been suffering from some difficult digestive issues (read: icky, liquidy poop) that has made potty training more challenging for him, so we moved him to a gluten-free diet to see if that would help. The Wife and I joined him.

Over the course of the last month or so, we've kind of figured that it might not be the gluten for him; it might be the strange oils in so much food. So, we're trying to limit food with exotic ingredients for him. That's good practice, in general: if you've never heard of the ingredients, or if you can't pronounce them, then you probably shouldn't be eating the food. We think it's had a positive effect on him, but it might just be selective memory bias. We'll keep you informed. Suffice it to say, he's basically 100% pee trained, but #2 is causing some issues still. He gets it every once in a while, but not often enough. More often than The Boy at a comparable age, but not as often as Little Bear.

Saturday, after my chorus's show downtown, we went to a friend's birthday party. They had all sorts of yummy, delicious food, most of which was gluten-type stuff that some of us couldn't eat. The Boy and Little Bear are not following this diet, so they made up for the rest of our restrictions by eating everything in sight. The Wife, The Baby, and I restricted ourselves to corn chips with amazing buffalo chicken dip and veggies. From there, we went to an event at Rodef Shalom, where they served pizza. Again, 1 and 2 ate their weight in food while the rest of us didn't. The Baby was quite upset about it.

Dietary restrictions are really difficult for kids that young because it's difficult to explain to them and it's difficult for them to comprehend. Like, a month or two ago, we all went to Steak 'n' Shake and got milkshakes, which interacted poorly with all of our digestive tracts. The Boy and Little Bear can be made aware of the connection between what goes in and how it comes out again, but it's impossible to explain to The Baby. All he knows is this: pizza in copious amounts is over there. Mommy and Daddy aren't letting me have it. I'm grumpy about that.

We've been remarkably lucky with the way our children eat. I chalk a big chunk of that up to The Wife and the baby-lead weaning, which has been discussed a lot in this blog. The boys have always eaten the same thing that we have eaten, from the start of them on solid food, so they never got the picture that there was baby's food and grown up's good. So, I can definitely see why The Baby would be really confused and angry about being denied food, particularly when he sees other people his size eating the food.

After the recital yesterday, they had a "potluck" dessert table, with loads of different cookies and treats. Grandma had brought a fruit plate, which was perfect - the boys, to a man, will choose fruit over sweets most of the time. Don't get me wrong - The Boy and Little Bear ate their body weight in cookies, but they did it after they ate a plate of fruit. They had gluten free brownies there, which The Baby and I tore up.

The interesting thing will be thanksgiving. I told myself that I'd keep 100% gf until then. I don't mind breaking it for pumpkin pie.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recital Day

Today, The Boy and Little Bear performed in their first ever violin recital. It was held at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, and they played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (Little Bear) and The May Song (The Boy). It was followed by a nice cookie reception in the lobby. Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt C were in attendance. The Baby also did a nice job watching his brothers play.

That's the capsule version. The rest of the story is more interesting, I think.

The day started like most Sundays, with the exception that The Wife and The Boy didn't have to leave until later for Sunday school. So, I slept in a little bit and did my normal workout, then ate and cleaned up after everybody's breakfast. They left and Little Bear and The Baby and I did our normal thing: hung out for a little while, then went to the JCC for the open gym time.

The neat thing about the open gym this year (besides The Baby actually being able to play with everything there without being in direct danger of falling over) is that they've put up this ginormous climbing mountain / volcano thing. Little Bear absolutely loves it. It's a tricky morning for us, because The Baby gets really nervous about going places in the morning on the weekends. He really thinks that I'm going to leave him somewhere and go away, and he gets quite anxious about it: so much so that, when asked to put his shoes on, he throws a major league fit. He doesn't - and won't - understand that the JCC is fun time with Daddy.

It's strange, because we've never left him there at the JCC when he's been old enough to remember - and even when he was an infant, we probably used the infant child care a half dozen times at most, so it shouldn't have been enough to leave lasting scars. But, whatever. Once he gets there, remembers the place, and conceptualizes that I'm not going to leave him, he has a great time. He mostly likes to play catch with the basketballs.

We played there until around 11, then we headed over to Beth Shalom for Latkepalooza, the Hanukkah celebration. That's always a fun morning: games, and crafts, and a Hanukkah play, and some dancing. The Wife had packed a bag with fancy clothes, and I brought the violins, so we stuffed ourselves with latkes (potato pancakes) and had fun. The Boy spent most of his time at the various craft tables - he does enjoy his art. Little Bear played with the mini golf putting area for a long time, then he danced joyously with the dance teacher for a half hour. The Baby just hung out and ate. Eventually, I wrestled 1 and 2 into their fancy clothes and we headed out.

2 and 3 fell asleep in the car before we arrived at the church. We left 3 in the car with me, and 1 and 2 went in to get tuned and warmed up. I joined them about ten minutes later and set up the ipad on the nifty iPad tripod that my chorus bought for me. The boys were number 8 and 9, and they played wonderfully. The Wife played piano, and they remember to bow before and after.

Little Bear played and bowed with his own aggressive, joyful style - that's really how he is, and it's beautiful to watch. The Boy (who reflects my personality to an unfortunate degree) took the stage with what can only be described as a "strut," putting his violin to his chin with a flourish. The high five he gave me on his way down the aisle was accompanied by a cathartic "Yeah!!!", which brought some laughs from the crowd.

After another person (there were about 25 kids on the program, which ran about 100 minutes), I took The Baby down into one of the youth rooms, and we chilled together. The boys were quite good during the concert; The Boy slept for a bit, which isn't surprising.

The reception after was quite nice: punch, and cookies, and gluten free brownies that I went to town upon. The kids ate a dozen or so cookies each, although Little Bear was eating an apple. Grandma brought a fruit bowl. The funny bits: Little Bear, standing on top of the small brick wall bordering the lobby, singing "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," at the top of his lungs while dancing a little jig; The Boy, helping the baby swipe a few more cookies; our friend K encouraging the children for more mischief and more cookies. Like father, like sons, after all. The Baby was singing the words to the Suzuki violin songs that he could remember.

But, oh, that Little Bear was in fine form...

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yogurt, Screen Time, Funny

Daddy: "C'mon, Little Bear, time for your bath. You're stinky."

Little Bear: "No, Daddy, YOU're stinky!"

Daddy: "I've been called worse by better."

Little Bear: "Okay, Worse. You need a bath."


There's a self-serve frozen yogurt place called Yogurt City that just opened up near the house. The kids like it because they have a TV there, and the counter workers are very good about putting on shows the kids enjoy. The first time we went, it was Phineas and Ferb. Second time, Super Mario Brothers Super Show. Last week, Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving was playing. There was another family at the restaurant when we arrived, so to show off, I asked The Boy to read the frozen yogurt flavors to his brothers. They were quite impressed with that, even moreso when he told them that he was in kindergarten.

They were even more impressed when Little Bear read the flavors down, only needing some help with some of the longer words ("original" tripped him up a bit). The Boy is starting to notice that much of the work in kindergarten is severely beneath his abilities, but he's not complaining too much, yet. The Wife is getting concerned that he's going to notice that the level of work is about what The Baby does on the iPad. Can you imagine how that would go in school: "You can't do this? C'mon. My 2-year old baby brother can do this." SMACK.

I've been told that The Boy is very well-behaved in school, which is nice, but expected. I've also been told that he's been handling himself well with the other kids - not letting himself get pushed around and not pushing the other kids around. That's even better. I was always a bit obnoxious in school - still am - and that occasionally caused problems for me. For the most part, though, I had enough people that liked me in most of the social cliques that I was just left alone. The Wife, at the private school, was a target, and she wasn't really able to overcome that. Once she made it to public school, she was fine. I honestly don't know how my brothers were in school - they were so much older than I was that it didn't register. Molly's sisters were relatively popular (among the more academically-proficient individuals), and her brother wrestled, so he had (at least) a detente among the jocks while doing well with the nerdy gamer-folks.

Little Bear does quite well at pre-school, The Baby does, as well, even though it's a little early to make judgments (as a 2 year old, he goes three times a week - he's not even at 30 days). He's adjusted to the school so the drop-offs are a little less dramatic than betore. As a matter of fact, we've even been able to remove some of the baby accommodations around the house - he no longer has a booster seat at the kitchen table any more! He's even getting himself dressed in the morning, kind of - socks are a problem, and he gets confused by the shirts. He'll frequently try to put the shirt on upside down, which doesn't work particularly well.

The Boy has been on limited screen time this week because he scratched him brother on the weekend enough to draw blood. So, until the scratches heal, he's on limited time. So, we started a tradition which I think we'll continue: one book on iPad, one real-life book. Yesterday, we read Neil Gaiman's "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Goldfish," which went over well. Very silly, and The Boy now understands swapping a bit, so he got it. The art is also weird and wonderful, which helps. I think we'll keep the "one iPad book, one real book" thing and just alternate who picks which on any given night.


Keep an eye out for a book called "I Am the Salamander," by Michael Jan Friedman. I just supported it on Kickstarter, and it funded! It's about a kid super hero who is also a cancer patient - a natural, considering my love for superheroes and my love for a certain child cancer patient. I'll post more info as it happens, but this is a must-get.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Family Update

I arrived at the house at the same time as The Wife and the children a few days ago, and I parked in the street. I wasn't sure who was leaving first the next morning, so better safe than sorry, right? Little Bear and The Baby came down the driveway to say hi. I gave a nice hug to Little Bear and reached out for The Baby. He started giggling, turned around, and yelled, "You can't catch me!" I'm pretty sure that that's the first time he's said that. The Wife doesn't remember it, either. He's said, "Daddy, get me!" for a while, but never a sentence like that one. Side note - yes, I can catch him.

He has taken himself to the potty more and more often, which is really nice to see. Now that The Wife has left her substitute teaching job, she'll be able to finish the potty training for him. I am perfectly okay with not having to change diapers anymore. Last week, he took himself to go poo in the potty, which is great; except he didn't tell anybody before or after. It made quite the mess. Not the first, and probably not the last. Gotta teach him how to wipe, too.

The Boy has really, really been taking off, intellectually, since he's been in school. It's not that he wasn't beforehand; but, being around all those new people and new teachers has given him many, many new ideas. He's making intellectual and conceptual connections at an amazing rate of speed. It's things like "60 plus 60 is 120, because 6 plus 6 is 12.," which leads into 6000 plus 6000 is 12000, etc. He's been able to map that over into other numbers - 30 plus 40, for instance. He's become quite aware of the calendar and how days and weeks and months work with each other: we get a report, daily, on what rotation day it is and how many days are left until the next great event. In this case, it's how many days until the Veterans' Day day off from school.

I haven't seen that The Boy has asked to play with any of his school friends yet, though. I don't know if that's a factor of The Wife and I being overly committed in our personal and professional lives or of The Boy not finding any real pals in his class. There are a few names that keep popping up in conversation, which is nice, and his teacher told us (at the parent teacher conference last month) that he was doing fine in the social arena. He's even, apparently, had a few kids try to pick on him, which he handled well. I know that I always handled that sort of thing well - gave as good as I got, and I was always of a size with the bully-kids, so they wouldn't pick on me often. The Wife was bullied far more than I was, but I honestly think that that was more of a cultural thing as opposed to a personality thing - once she left the private school and went back into the public schools, most of that went away.

Little Bear has kind of been in a bit of a rut lately.He gets up, gets dressed, goes to school, plays after school at Grandma's, plays at home, then goes to bed. He's not doing poorly - he's just on a nice, happy, stable little island. He likes his friends and his teachers, he likes his work, and he likes his playing. He still will only wear Superman shirts; if they're all in the laundry, he will grudgingly consent to wear Batman. He loves to dress up whenever possible, and he's still the most patient of the boys when it comes to going to services, singing the religious songs, and paying attention.

He's been wearing out a little bit earlier than his brothers at night. A few nights this week, he's put himself to bed while 1 and 3 were still finishing up their bath. He just gets tired; I think he might be growing. We'll see.

Kids showing teamwork:

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Show weekend

From Oct 30:

My father drove into town on Friday afternoon for the weekend. This was the first time that he had driven out to Pittsburgh since he broke his back earlier this year. It was a little rough on him, but not moreso than he could handle at this point. We had a nice dinner Friday night at home, and I got to bed as early as humanly possible.

The Wife sang Saturday morning services, so the boys and I and my father went out to breakfast together. It was a relatively uneventful breakfast, although the Bagel Factory was more crowded than usual. All of us overslept a bit on Saturday morning, which meant a later start than normal. Surprisingly, breakfast places are more crowded at 9AM than at 7AM. I left around noon, leaving my father with the three boys until The Wife got back around 12:45. It's nice that they are old enough to not give him TOO hard of a time.

The boys did a nice job while I was at the show. They were a little bit obnoxious, but not actually misbehaving. They sat through the entire 2 hour show and even made it most of the way through the afterglow (which was a dinner 'glow) before turning into pumpkins. I'm really proud of them. I'm sure they were squirrely at times in the audiences, but they had a good time and seemed to enjoy watching the show. When the chorus set started in the second half of the show, you could hear "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" on the recording, yelled by The Boy. Kind of cute, but.... sigh. Children, amirite?

The Wife left the afterglow a little early with the children, to get them home and to bed. Since my quartet was there (and performing), I stayed until the end. All in all, it was a wonderful day and a wonderful night. I'm really proud of my chorus and of my quartet.

Sunday was spent resting. I honestly don't remember the last time I was as exhausted as I was on Sunday. We didn't do a lot - played at the open gym at the JCC in the morning, went to the playground in the afternoon, went to dinner at Don Pablo's then frozen yogurt after. Little Bear must be in a growing cycle right now: he ate his dinner, half of The Boy's dinner, half of The Baby's dinner, and a full serving of frozen yogurt afterwards.

Granted, he puked up his dinner remnants on Monday morning, which wasn't cool, but other than that and some yucky diarrhea that caused him to miss a couple of days of school, he was fine. Monday, I took off from work, dropped 1 and 3 at their respective schools, went out to breakfast with my father, then got a new driver's license (only 2 months expired), new case for my iPad, some groceries, and leaf bags from Home Depot. I picked up 3 at the appointed time, and we spent the rest of the afternoon doing not much of anything. Daddy needed the rest, as did Little Bear, and The Baby... is The Baby. He's a ball of motion at all times, regardless.

The Wife is leaving her substitute teaching job after this week or so. I have a lot of thoughts about that, most of which have been discussed in this blog in earlier years. Not sure if I want to expound upon them at this point, other than saying that being a substitute teacher (even a long-term sub, where you're in one position) sucks majorly. I'm so glad that I have a good job at a good employer, with a good manager and good coworkers. I'm really, really lucky.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Outsmarting a 6-Year Old

So, tonight, I coerced The Boy into helping me unload coats, sneakers, and dirty preschool clothes from Grandma's car. He threw a moderate fit about it, which I'm perfectly okay with: I waited the requisite two minutes until he got over it, then brought him downstairs anyway. Since he was making a fuss, I gave him a choice: one item to carry that I picked, or two items that he picked. He chose one item that I picked.

Since I'm an instigator and a pain in the rear, I then packed everything we had to carry into a box, then told him that the one item he would carry would be the box. (Closed, of course.) That was considerably heavier and more of a pain than the two items would otherwise have been.

Moral of the story: when Daddy offers you a choice with one easy choice and one hard choice, take the hard choice. The easy choice never is.

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