Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who would have thought this would be so hard?

I mean, we've made much harder decisions. We chose a preschool with very little time, with endless self imposed pressure to make sure it was the perfect place to leave what is most precious to us. We've made decisions about what they eat, how to discipline them (which clearly isn't working, but that's another post), and each day shape their lives with the endless decisions we are making for them. But this...this had me at a bit of a loss.

After all, how do I know I am getting The Right Clown? What qualifications should I look for? I assume it's not like hiring a contractor who needs to be licensed and bonded. Will they play the right games? What if Hayden is afraid of clowns? These are the thoughts that plague me through the night. After all, how can I be sure that the water coming out of the funny boutonniere is non-toxic? I called a couple agencies, but for some reason nothing felt comfortable to me. They assured me that "whatever clown" they sent would be great, but shouldn't I know exactly who is coming to my home? Shouldn't I already know what person will be interacting with my 3-year old son and his friends, whose parents are trusting that I will not expose their children to some degenerate?

Today I found The One. She looks great. Her website shows pictures of her with the kids, lists her experience, references and even her resume. She is also a preschool teacher with Child Development units. I quickly emailed her and she quickly responded, even mentioning that she is a "pretty clown" not a scary clown. Ding! We have a winner! She called me just a short while later, sounding very personable and friendly. One thing we talked about was price and I mentioned that her price is perfectly competitive with the other companies I contacted. She said she used to work for agencies like that and that the person doing the performance gets a small fraction of that amount. She also said that they may describe one person and send another, that they even asked her to use another name on occasion! Now, some of this is self-promotion, but I do like the idea of having personally spoken to and arranged things with the person who is coming to our home. She spoke about being able to keep the kids' attention for an hour, and that she knows how to speak with them, making even the shy ones comfortable.

Hmmm...maybe I should go to clown school.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Peas in a (i)Pod

As a Completely Non-technical person, I am enamored with my iPod. It now goes everywhere with me- car, gym, and even on a long walk yesterday. It has become my trusty companion, creating a soundtrack to many parts of my day. When the kids are restless in the car, I can put on that magical Kindermusik, which has the amazing ability to calm them when I can't. Really, I don't know what subliminal messages are being broadcast over those selections of Wishy Washy and Ring Around the Roses, but they settle into their carseats with a happy, dazed expression without fail.

At the gym, I hit on quite the random selection of music. Being Completely Non-technical, I find setting up Playlists to be a challenge, not quite worth my time. Instead, I have the iPod randomly play through the music library Fillip was kind enough to load for me. Last week I had a really great workout and found myself reflecting on the odd assortment of music that got me through it. We warmed up to Natalie Merchant, pumped a few machines to Papa Roach, hit the treadmill for some cardio to Rossini's overture to Semiramide, then cooled down to Don McLean's Bye Bye Miss American Pie. Not exactly what most people would consider a cohesive group of songs, but frankly, it was the best hour of music I had listened to in a long time.

Yesterday my new pal (by that I mean my iPod) joined me for a long walk around my neighborhood. As we bopped along, I was in my own little world. Diana Ross and the Supremes' Love Child, Oingo Boingo's Out of Control, a bit of Fillip's classic rock thrown in here and there. It was great. I was outside, enjoying the fresh air, and the feeling of really moving along. Then I walked by someone else with earphones in. I smiled and nodded as we passed, but he didn't give me even a glimmer of acknowledgement. Suddenly, I found that despite being on a public street with hundreds of cars going by, I was completely and utterly isolated. My great music brought me a wonderful momentum, but I felt completely removed from everything around me. While at the gym, this is a good thing as I don't like particularly like the feeling of being a hamster on a wheel, but being out on a beautiful day, it seems like I should feel a bit of connection with my community, or at least get a friendly nod from the strangers I am walking past. As I entered the alley behind my house I turned off the music to let the world back in. There were birds chirping, dogs barking, and a refreshing sense of experiencing my day once again.

Although I love my little blue iPod, I need to be mindful not to shut the world out completely, just now and then.

Quote of the Day

Picture two rambunctious boys in the bath, the little one with water dripping off his face, a little bit of a stunned look, and me sitting next to the tub with one side of me soaked from the torrent of bathwater that just came my way.

"Hayden, no cannon balls in the tub!!"

This rates right up there with other brilliant parenting moments like
"No more lima beans until you eat your chicken!"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Logan- 17 months

At 17 months, Logan is quite a character. He is such a funny, busy, sweet little guy. Those blue eyes will melt you in a heartbeat, but can also be very piercing as he deems necessary. He gives the sweetest kisses with those full lips, always accompanied by a crisp "mmmmMwuh!" He is trying to do things for himself, helping us dress and undress him. He tried to put on his shoes and socks, which he provides ample opportunity for given that he still takes off his right shoe and sock ALL THE TIME. Not the left one. The right one.

He is constantly on the go, moving, pointing, jabbering away. He likes to direct us and point out whatever has caught his interest. He likes to play with trucks and planes making driving noises as he pushes them along. He always notices planes or helicopters in the sky, no matter how high they may be. He seems to hear them first and lets us know to look up as he excitedly points and shouts. Because he sees buses and trains all day at school, he is fascinated by those as well. Last week he kept telling us something on the way home. We were trying to guess, but obviously not getting it until Hayden lost patience with our lack of understanding and said "He is saying choo choo!" Sure enough. All we heard was "shoo choo" which we were guessing meant "shoe." No, that would be "shooosh!" Big difference. We have also heard "obah dayah" (over there), "ahwandat" (I want that), and a few other words and phrases. He calls Hayden "buvvah" or "Daydah" which Hayden loves. Hayden will tell anyone who listens "I'm Daydah!" Data? "No, Daydah! I'm Logan's Daydah." They always get their vitamins since they know to ask. Logan runs over and points up to the shelf yelling to let me know it is time. Twice a day he gets his nebulizer treatments and most of the time will sit sweetly in our lap.

Whatever Hayden has, Logan wants. He is none too gentle about getting it either. As they play we constantly need to referee as someone is always screaming and yelling, pushing, hitting, grabbing, etc.. But when they do play nicely, they are so very sweet. Logan is definitely learning about routines and establishing them himself. I call the kids' feet Stinky Stinky feet. At bathtime, Logan insists on getting his feet washed first, proffering a tiny, wet little foot barely sticking up out of the water and bubbles. As I wash Hayden's Stinky Stinky Feet that tiny foot will be offered again and again with a little grin. For the last two nights he has sat through the entire reading of Goodnight Moon, then had to read it himself. He turns each page, waves and says "night night!" It is so sweet to sit there reading with the two of them. At bedtime Logan needs to turn on his radio, his humidifier and turn off the light. When he gets up, he needs to do the opposite. Lord help us if we skip a step!

He is such a sweetie, offering lots of kisses with an easy giggle. His eyes are always alight with mischief, and he will take any opportunity to be chased around. If he can reach me, he will reach under my shirt to tickle me saying "Beh baw!" (belly button!) He started this on his own one day as I reached over his carset to Hayden. They giggle hysterically over that every time. So do I. Logan absolutely loves music. Hayden has been talking about the Move It Move It song from Madagascar for awhile now. They play it at school. When I went to pick Logan up recently, that song came on. Ten toddlers stopped in their tracks and started bouncing their heads, then moving those little bodies to the beat. It was like Muppet Babies got mixed with A Night at the Roxbury. Too funny.

With all that silly charm oozing off of him, he does have quite a temper. He wants what he wants when he wants it! It's not uncommon for him to throw himself down on the floor in a temper, and for us to simply walk away. Obviously, we don't see eye to eye on this, and sometimes he has to just give us his blood curdling shriek until we are ready to do whatever he is waiting for. He shrieks when he is mad, sad, and happy. This is a phase we will not miss!

At nearly one and a half, he is on the cusp of full blown toddler independence, yet still so very baby. As much fun as it is to see him do new things, I am desperately holding onto the last vestiges of his babyhood. I kiss those soft cheeks and neck any chance I get. It will pass all too soon.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cough on a Stick

This morning I had my usual weekend wakeup to the sound of Hayden thumping the porcelain seat of the toilet up. As usual, I stumbled down the hall to make sure he didn't need any "rear maintenance" and found a wimpering hot boy on the floor. He was able to rasp out that is throat hurt and seemed genuinely upset by the fact that he couldn't talk. I gave him some Tylenol, cold water and honey, then tucked him back into bed saying we would go see the doctor later. I told Fillip I suspected Hayden had strep throat. Sure enough. The culture came back positive immediately. (They do a strep test right there in the office, and the ped compared it to a home pregnancy test.) Hayden was so very pitiful all day long. He just laid around not wanting anything but an occasional drink. This is a very spirited child, so as sweet as it is to have him snuggle up to me at the docs office, it just wasn't the usual Hayden. I know he will feel better tomorrow once the antibiotics have a chance to work, which is why I am a little glad that it is strep, rather than some virus that just needs to run its course. This is a concrete and easily treatable diagnosis.

Tomorrow, I hope and expect he will be significantly back to his usual self. I look forward to seeing more smiles and spirit from him. Today there were very few smiles and the only giggle was prompted by Logan. Logan had a little bit of a runny nose and as they were sitting together, Logan managed to blow a big ol' snot bubble out one nostril. Well, even a toddler suffering from a nasty case of strep throat can't help but laugh hysterically at that!

What I really feel bad about is that I really enjoyed caring for him today. He was so sweet and cuddly, and easy going about everything. He was content to lie on my bed and look at books while I folded laundry, went down for a 2+ hour nap when I asked him to, and didn't once fight back when Logan assaulted him in various ways. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't want him to be sick, don't want him to suffer in any way and truly feel bad for him since I know how awful it is to have strep throat. But, since he was sick, it was so nice to get to mother him and care for him all day long, rather than coral, cajole and often discipline. It felt like I got to spend so much more time truly showing him how very much I love him, to let him know that I was doing everything I could to keep him comfortable. All day I would reassure him that I understood his misery, that it would be better soon. I enjoyed that. I feel like I am a little warped for that enjoyment, but it was actually a strangely satisfying day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I Like My Car, but Not Enough to Make it a Fun Afternoon

Four hours. That is how long it took me to get home today. Four hours. Four hours on the road and I wasn't even close to Vegas!

A crane fell over on the freeway, which they had to close down for most of the afternoon. Not just any freeway- the 405 Freeway at the 101. At the "busiest interchange in the world" as one news reporter was kind enough to say in his report. Imagine, how many people drive through that interchange and now had no way to get to where they were going! This caused traffic all over the west side. When I left work I had no idea this was going on. When I noticed traffic getting heavy as I headed north and heard helicopters, I just figured there was an accident ahead and turned to take an alternate route. What I didn't realize was that there were no alternate routes. You simply could not get north from the west side. So, I thought if I could head far enough east, I could then go north and come around the other side of the Valley. No dice. Hardly a unique idea. Two hours into my drive (and only 3 miles from my office) I realized I had to use a restroom. Half an hour later (and only a few blocks) I stopped at a grocery store and felt much better. I kept thinking that maybe I would be better off to call and see if any of my coworkers wanted to go get a drink and wait it out. After all, in a couple hours it would likely be much better. However, if I stayed in the city for dinner, there was no way I would see my munchkins before bed. That was just not acceptable. So, I stuck it out.

People kept calling me to check my progress, offer sympathy and keep me company. The thing was, I wasn't upset. Frustrated and disappointed to lose time with my family, absolutely. But not upset. I just couldn't help thinking that as much as people were saying that I was unfortunate, that I was having a bad day, I really wasn't. Tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of people were sitting there just like me. The crane operator who fell with the crane, now there is a person who had a bad day! I was fine. By the time I arrived at my inlaws for dinner I was very tired, and very glad to be out of the car, but also so happy that we really are fine.