Friday, April 26, 2013

Three Boys

This morning, I had breakfast with Little Bear and The Baby. The Boy was doing his usual morning thing: lollygagging getting dressed.

Little Bear wanted two frozen waffles, and he specifically requests "pizza waffles." This means, I cut it into 8 "slices" like I do a pizza. (I do not add sauce and cheese. Pizza Waffles merely refers to the manner in which they're cut. That's just about the right size for him.

The Baby is tricky at breakfast time. About half the time, he does not want to eat anything. He'll play with whatever food is put in front of him, then he'll wander off into the living room and find some toys. Most of the time, unless we go out to breakfast, I just give him a little bit of cereal in a bowl with a little bit of milk, hand him a spoon, and he entertains himself for a while. Occasionally he'll eat with the spoon, occasionally with his fingers. If he finishes the cereal, he will drink milk from the

bowl. It's very, very cute.

Little Bear finished breakfast early and excused himself, leaving The Baby alone with me, and we had a nice conversation. I told him about Aunt W's wedding this weekend, and he politely pretended to pay attention. His response, after I was done: "Daddy.... cow goes MOOO!" It was very cute. He then told me, "Elephant.... " and then did his best elephant sound. He also said, "Hi, doggie, woof woof!" It was very cute, and the longest conversation I've had with him.


Little Bear is definitely the sensitive one in the family. It's very cute, but we have to be careful sometimes how we speak with him. A couple of nights ago, he was feeling a little giddy after dinner, and he wandered into the kitchen and called me a name - something not-quite-silly, like "stupidhead" or something like that. It definitely wasn't something like "stinker" or "silly" or the other gentle names that we use with the kids. I was sweeping the kitchen at the time, and I shooed him out of the kitchen with the broom. "Out of here until you speak to me nicely."

The Wife caught him in the living room and spoke with him for a minute, saying that the thing that he called me was hurtful and that he shouldn't hurt Daddy's feelings. She guided him to the kitchen to apologize. I picked him up, hugged him, told him I loved him, and that the name hurt my feelings and wasn't nice. He burst into tears for a few minutes, because he was quite sad that he had hurt my feelings. He really does mean well.


The Boy has been cute at bedtime lately. He's made "pajamas" out of Trio blocks for the large Elmo doll that we have floating around the house, and he tucks Elmo into bed. The stories for the past couple of days have been various Elmo stories from the iPads. It's quite cute, even though I'm kind of surprised that he's still into the whole Elmo thing. His tastes are really quite innocent, which is occasionally perplexing to me. This is a boy who loves superheroes, but loves Batman Brave and the Bold and the Superfriends - you know, where the basic most violet thing that happens is Superman punching a robot or something like that. He's still very much into Daniel Tiger and stuff like that.

And, then I show him the trailer for Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 and similar movies, of which he really enjoyed. Loved the Star Trek 2 trailer even more than those two. He doesn't really want to go see them - "I think I'll like them when I'm 6, Daddy, but I might be too little right now" - but he likes the (all ages) previews. He's an interesting kid like that; I honestly think that he's got a pretty darn good idea of what is age-appropriate and inappropriate for him.

I'm sure that'll be annoying as heck when he's 13 and getting caught sneaking into rated R movies. Sigh.


Tomorrow, while we're waiting for wedding stuff to happen, I'm going to take the boys on a fundraising walk, which is in Superhero costumes. I'm kind of stoked about that. I'm really, really hoping that they'll want to go as The Incredibles kids, because we have 3 matching costumes. After that, we'll have to hoof it back to the temple pretty quickly, but that's acceptable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cute Boys

Last night, I had finished the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, and I helped myself to my biggest vice: Thin Mints, the Girl Scout cookie. I can honestly say that this is the largest addiction in my life, and my thin mints are the only thing that I will not share with my family. I keep a box in the back of freezer (usually buy 5-6 boxes each year), eat 3 per day (because the serving size is 4 cookies), and enjoy them for several months after they stop going on sale. Love me some frozen Thin Mints.

So, I was standing next to the freezer, eating my three thin mints, when The Baby came wandering in the room. He climbed into his chair and looked at me, savoring my cookies. "Bite? Bite? Bite? Bite, Daddy? Bite, Daddy, PLEASE?" He looked at me with such a huge eyed, hopeful expression that - for the first time in a LONG time - I actually shared my thin mints. I gave him half of a cookie. "Thank you!" he said, in his cute, little baby voice. The WIfe was there, listening, and we both agreed that that might have been the cutest thing ever.

This was the same day that The Wife and I woke up to find The Boy and The Baby snuggled up together in a pile of small boys. It was absolutely heartwarming.

After the Thin Mint incident, I had to run to Men's Wearhouse to get a suit refitted. Since I knew it was a quick in-and-out kind of visit, I wanted to bring a boy along for some company. The Boy wasn't an option, as he doesn't travel well. Little Bear expressed his desire to stay home, but I overruled him by tickling him into submission and throwing him in the car. We got to the store, and he asked to go home. Avoiding the incident, I handed him my phone, tried on the suit, had it marked, and took it off. It took about three minutes, during which he finished a level in his game. "Daddy, look!" he said, showing it to me proudly. I was enthusiastic as I directed him back to the car (after chasing him playfully around the store for a second).

I asked him, "Do you want to get a donut (Dunkin' Donuts) or a milkshake?" He selected milkshake, so we went to Steak & Shake and sat at the counter, which was new for him. The stools were almost as tall as he was! They gave him a cool paper hat, which we directed a bit. We both had strawberry shakes, and it was a very pleasant fifteen minutes of time we spent together. We didn't talk about that much - a little bit about school, about playing, and about Aunt W's wedding this weekend.

Bedtime was uneventful, and I woke up when Things 1 & 2 stole my pillow from me while I slept.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baseball Afternoons

Yesterday, the boys and I played baseball. Because I had a board meeting for my chorus, I hadn't been planning on coming home for dinner. The Wife, therefore, decided to meet Grandma and Grandpa for dinner. I got done with work stuff earlier than expected, so I went over to Grandma's house. Dinner wasn't ready yet, so I played outside with the boys. There's three or four wiffle bats outside, but no wiffle balls; instead, we used a big Batman ball (one of those light, plastic balls around the size of a bowling ball that you see in huge racks in the toy store), which the boys had a much easier time hitting. We took some batting practice, which included The Baby: I showed him how to hold the bat and swung with him, hitting at the balls on the ground. He doesn't quite get the hitting thing yet, but he sure enjoyed doing it. The Boy, who was drawing pictures inside, came outside when we were starting to play. We set up bases, and The Boy was entranced with normal wiffle ball bases: an extra bat was first base, a bubble wand was 2nd base, the batting tee was 3rd base, and a hula hoop was home plate. He hit a couple and ran around the bases, yelling "Home Run!" We played "peg the runner" rules. I hit a good one, right at an entering Grandpa, who proceeded to peg me right in the forehead. Out! Little Bear was particularly cute: when I told him to "run around the bases," he took me literally. He ran to first base, ran a circle around it. He ran to second base, then ran a circle around it, all the way back to home plate. He scored a couple of "home runs" when Daddy's aim the ball (to tag the runner) went wide. He's the best hitter of the three, at this point. Yes, they all bat lefty. The only problem with the game was that The Baby kept running off with one or more of the bases, which necessitated an entertaining interruption of chasing him down to retrieve the base. The chase, of course, is likely why he kept doing it. I got home from my meeting just as the kids were getting out of the bathtub, which meant that I had a nice helping of snuggles. I wasn't expecting that - I got home right around 9 o'clock, which is usually long after the kids were in bed. This morning, The Baby and Little Bear were up around their normal time. The Boy, when I greeted him with an enthusiastic "Good morning!", gave me a very teenager-like dirty look and pulled the blankets over his head. He spent some time trying to ignore us and go back to sleep and was dramatically unhappy that we were waking him up. Granted, he could have been in his own bedroom and slept longer, but that's a story for another day. Granted, I could have NOT sicced The Baby and Little Bear on him, but that just wouldn't have been as much fun. "Little Bear, give your big brother a nice, big hug," was quickly followed by, "Little Bear, please let him breathe. I think you're smothering him."

Friday, April 19, 2013

On the Other Hand...

Last night was a GOOD night, even with a minot meltdown by The Boy. I got home from work at the normal time and we had a nice family dinner. During dinner, I proposed to the boys that I take them to the comic book store (for me) and to a NEW playground - well, a playground we don't usually frequent. The Wife had quartet rehearsal last night, so I wanted to get the kids out of the house for a couple of hours to give her some preparation time and let rehearsal get started without incident. The Boy objected; he wanted to take the family on a Pretend Israel Trip, just like he took at school earlier in the day. We compromised; while I did the dishes, Mum and Little Bear went to Israel with The Boy.

Side note: it was quite cute. They pretended to get on the plane, read a book during the "flight," bought a treat at the market, saw the Wailing Wall, and flew back to Pittsburgh. I got the boys in the car by saying, "Okay! We have to get in the bus from the airport! Let's go!" Even The Boy went to the car cheerfully at that point.

We got to the comic book store, and The Boy didn't want to go inside. He wanted to wait outside, which isn't really practical - it's a busy street, with a lot of pedestrian traffic. That's not safe for a little, little boy. Words were exchanged: "I don't love you any more, Daddy," and that sort of thing. I "compromised" by taking The Baby out of the carrier on my back and put The Boy. He was not pleased, but he eventually calmed down with a thumb in his mourh. (...and he reached for belly, natch.) I'm kind of proud of that solution. He and I talked it through, and he grudgingly consented to riding on my back. He was a little nasty on the way back to the car when he realized that we weren't stopping at Starbucks for treats.

Once back in the car, the general good mood resumed. We went to the playground at Schenley Park, which is comparable in size to the Blue Slide Park, but no huge hill in the middle effectively cutting the park in half. We had a lot of fun - the older boys mostly played with each other and with the other kids while I chased around The Baby and made sure he didn't wander into the parking lot. We were in the park for a bit over an hour before number two and three started getting tired. It was pretty cool to watch them in the new park; The Boy, in particular, seemed to flow naturally from one group of kids to another and seemed to have fun all the time.

The Baby did a great job with some climbing things, although it scared the crap out of me. Three feet isn't far to fall, but it's really far when you're not three feet tall.

We got back home and proceeded upstairs for drinks and the bath. The Boy was quite upset when told he wasn't getting ice cream; he started to throw a fit when I told him that little boys who hit their daddies and say mean things to their daddy and brothers don't get ice cream treats. I left him alone in the kitchen and took the other two upstairs to get into the bathtub, and he eventually followed.

The rest of the evening went without incident. Number one fell asleep quickly, followed by three then two. I was actually able to get downstairs and get some chores done before The Wife was done with her rehearsal. That's always a nice feeling, if for no other reason than letting her quartet mates know that I actually do my share of things around the house.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not such a great night

I have a pair of glasses waiting for me in the south side of town. This is an eye doctor that my mother-in-law absolutely loves, so - without a better option - we've made the 45-minute trek down there this year for new glasses (for me) and contacts (for her). Last night, The Wife checked the website, saw they were open until 9. Since I'm now done for work at 5, and the traffic to the south side is ridiculously bad, The Wife suggested that I come home, eat dinner, sit down for a few minutes, then head off around 6:30 or 7. We'll bring the boys, stop for treats, run around the mall a little bit... it'll be fun!

So, the list of things: the eyedoctor's office closes at 7 every day. The Boy decided he didn't want to go with us and proceeded to throw a screaming fit. "Daddy, I don't love you right now. Maybe I'll love you later when I'm not so mad." He was coerced into the car, but started hitting the baby for no real reason. The Baby was sitting there, watching the scenery go by, when his brother decided to whale on him in the car seat. That's something that I have no patience, sensitivity, or love for: bullying. Considering how often my older brother used to beat the crap out of me for no reason other than his entertainment, and considering how often I was the (usually unsuccessful) target of bullies growing up, I cannot and will not accept a big brother bullying a baby.

I mean, Little Bear can handle himself most of the time. He gives just as good as he gets. The Baby is still too little to participate in normal sibling rivalry.

After a stern talking to and a somewhat forceful reminder about how scary it is when a bigger person pushes you around, The Boy was moved into the back seat by himself, and Little Bear was relocated next to the baby, which suited him fine. At Macy's, The Boy proceeded to remind us how mad he was and how he didn't love us anymore, finally refusing (as we were leaving and upset for wasting the time and evening) to take one step forward. When I held his hand and walked with him, he proceeded to start hitting and kicking and was mostly dragged back to the car. The Wife calmed him down while I put the other boys into the car.

It's interesting how family dynamics shift over the course of time. A couple of years ago, I was the unquestioned good cop. If he was having a rough day, I was always available and ready to provide gentle comfort and correction. So was Grandma - we lived in the same house! Now, not so much - because The Wife and I are frequently alone with the group of boys, it's difficult and occasionally dangerous to leave the other two alone while gently comforting The Boy. Granted, that's okay and good for him, but there is going to be some adjustment for all of us.

I guess it depends on how I want to be viewed: do I want to be viewed by my sons as "Scary Dad?" I'm not sure that that's the image I want my sons to have of me. I think I'd prefer to be the good cop, closer to Santa Claus than to The Spectre, if you know the comics reference. (If not, look it up - basically, justice not tempered by mercy.) I know that I could have handled last night differently, and it bothers me. I get very, very stubborn and tend to lash out instead of reach out.

We got home, and he trashed his room in protest. (The other two were in the tub.) After a little while, when we were snuggling 2 & 3, he called out, "I'm calm now. Can I come out?" We told him yes, when he cleaned his room. Five minutes later: "Is it okay if my room is just mostly clean?" No, it wasn't. He said he was done a few minutes later, and I went in to check. It was clean, so he came in and snuggled himself to sleep.

We are going to change a few things. We're going to severely limit television and iPad/iPhone time to reduce the need to wait until a show is over to do ANYthing. First step? Hid the remotes. They'll find them, eventually, but until then, we've bought some time. Let's see if "restricting" the boys to reading and coloring and building and toys helps to straighten out some of his rage issues.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quick Update

It's been a while since I've written. It's been an interesting couple of months - mostly in a good way, which is why I haven't had the time and energy to write.

Work's been insanely busy, in a great way. (Busy equals job security, which I like.) I earned a promotion, and I have moved into a new department with an awful lot more responsibility. I'm still training - will be for a couple of more weeks - but I surrounded, again, by knowledgeable people who are ready and willing to help. Again, not a zero sum game; we're in it as a team. In my old job, I could use breaks in the action to do a little writing. In my new job, it's a less frenetic pace but a steadier pace.

At home, for last couple of weeks, things have been tricky. I'm adjusting to a new work schedule, which means different things for family relations. Slightly later starting and ending times - moving things by a half hour in both directions - means a slightly different dynamic. I don't quite have it figured out yet, but I will. Trickiest bit is trying to figure out how the kids' growing independence (as they all, baby included, need less direct supervision) intersects with the growing need for housework to get done.

The boys are doing well. The Baby is using more words and occasional sentences: "Hi, Daddy," "Buckles again" (when he wants to put a buckle together another time), that sort of thing. He honestly thinks he's three or five years old, like his bigger brothers. (It doesn't help that he's huge for his age, which lets him have a better-than-normal chance at keeping up.) He loves rubber ducks and little superhero action figures right now and is usually trotting around the house with one in each hand.

Little Bear is - well - three and a half. He is handsome and smart and fun and a bit aggressive at times. Definitely a ball-buster like his father! Yesterday, at breakfast, he was reading from an Elephant and Piggie book, like kids his age (who have books memorized) will do. He misread a word, and I pointed it out... and darned if he didn't go back, sound through the word, and read it out loud. He did it for a few more words as well. It's not shocking that he's learning to read at the age of three, but it's a bit awe-inspiring as well. That's not normal. It's nice to have incredibly smart kids.

The Boy pass through his latest round of ultrasounds and scans with flying colors, still NED (No Evidence of Disease). Dr. Graves received a grant to spend a couple years doing research into pediatric cancer, which is something that I know he's want to do. I need to drop him a line - The Boy and I missed seeing him. We'll be going to kindergarten at our local school, Minedeo. We are okay with that - its a good school with a good music program. He's been doing well in preschool, he is reading pretty competently, and at the parks, he has been working hard to run around with other kids his age.

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