Sunday, November 02, 2008

Me Time

Despite the old cliche, I love walking here in L.A. It is something that I find very rewarding and need to be mindful to make time for more often. We got our first rainy day of the season this weekend. I absolutely love rain, and took several opportunities to enjoy the weather. At one point, I found myself in the midst of several things at once,trying to jam pack my weekend with productivity and socializing, which is nothing unusual. I realized I had limited time to go for a good walk. Often, I take the kids on bikes and find myself slowly making our way around the block, arriving home a bit frustrated at our lack of umphh. This time, I decided to take some MeTime, a rare and under utilized treat.

I headed out in the drizzle for the lake. Initially, I felt stiff, doubtful that walking in cool, damp weather was such a great idea. Having to ford gutter rivers of rainwash impeded my pace, causing my enthusiasm to wane a bit. However, this Pisces is forever drawn to water, and I just felt a need to get to the lake. As I crossed into the park I felt much better, eagerly anticipating my destination. Although there were plenty of people there, there weren't nearly the crowds we usually find. For once, I headed to a bench and consciously took a seat to absorb the zen of the water.

As I sat looking at the pewter expanse, I became aware of my senses taking turns influencing my experience. I started to notice finer details about the scene before me. The grass was exceptionally green in contrast to the grey sky, and neutral plumed birds. The water had a gentle ripple, with mostly ducks floating about. As I looked around, the coots (my favorite bird there) seemed to be a single unit of feeding black, but the longer I watched, the more individual birds began to stand out. At first they seemed one blob of bobbing feeding heads, but really they were all at a different pace, some challening others, and some just hanging out on the perimeter. As I watched, I noticed I was hearing more than I was seeing. Those coots don't eat silently, but with a soft persistant pittering as their agile white beaks plucked blades of grass and insects from the ground. It was almost like the earlier whisper of rain. After a few minutes of concerted relaxation at the water, I headed back home at a brisk pace. I noticed a great difference in how I felt. Initially, I had felt stiff and slow,annoyed by my wet feet, burdened by the stress of numerous trivial responsibilities.

Once I headed back home, I could feel that my body posture was straighter, more open. My gait was swift with my hips and shoulders swinging freely with every step. My mind had shed the earlier stress and I felt like I was greeting each new step with a happy, positive thought. Often, I try to spend as much time with the kids to compensate for my time at work all week. I do an amazing job piling on the guilt for wanting a few minutes to myself, for leaving it all to Fillip for my own selfish wants. But, you know what? I truly feel that the refreshed wife and mom who returned to our house from the lake was so much more valuable than the stressed out lady that had left. Maybe I should feel guilty for not finding that inner peace more often. What a difference a walk makes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Amber Waves of Granite and Steel

So, again, I've joined a gym. Generally, I join a gym that is conveniently located either on my way to, or near work, and am pretty good about exercising regularly once I've established a routine. So, I cancelled my membership at the first gym after we bought this house because I had to backtrack 20 minutes each way to get to the gym before work. With Los Angeles traffic being what it is, I had no desire to add another 40 minutes drive time to my day. The second time, the gym was near my office. Well, getting laid off put a crimp in that plan. Which brings me to Lucky Gym #3. I really have no excuse at this point, as this is located in the next building from my office, my company subsidises half of the monthly dues, and will reimburse me up to $400 per year for whatever I lay out for "health and wellness." Sweet deal, eh? At the beginning of the month I headed over to the gym on my lunch break with all confidence that this fitness program would endure. I took the obligatory tour, awkwardly, yet briefly walked through the locker room feeling like a voyeur, and spent the rest of my lunch break perusing the literature and imagining all the group classes I would be taking. About a week later I signed up. Today, I finally worked out- sorta.

Typically I catch a bus at 6:45am, getting me to my office by 7:30am. I thought I would just take a 5am bus and have plenty of time to walk the extra distance, workout for about an hour, then shower and doll up for my coworkers. When I looked at the bus schedule last night, I realized it doesn't pick up at my stop earlier than 6:30am. Shoot. Along with my health and wellness benefit, my company also sponsers a Rideshare program. So long as we take public transportation at least 60% of the time, they pay for all or most of the fare, and validate parking on the days we do drive in. Due to the recent holidays and Fillip being out of town, I had to drive a couple extra days already. So, I figured I would just drive across the valley to the subway, ride the rails for about half an hour, take a quick jaunt up the hill to the gym, and have plenty of time.

With good intentions I left the house before 5:30am, and grossly underestimated my time and the effort involved. After driving nearly 30 minutes, finding a spot at the back of the subway lot, running down the endless stairs and through the station to jump on the subway, then waiting for it to go back in service- after all that I thought I was good to go. Except I didn't actually get downtown until 6:30am, and somehow exited the station on the wrong side, leaving me further from the gym than I expected to be. Then, I had to trudge up the hill, in the predawn dark (with all sorts of unsavory characters skulking around) with my purse and a backpack that I swear someone must have hidden rocks in. By the time I got my sweaty self to the gym I had 40 minutes total to workout, shower and get ready for work. Let me tell you, I'm not all that low maintenance. I quickly threw my baggage in a locker and hopped on a treadmill to watch dawn break over Bunker Hill. As the sun slowly came up over the horizon, it infused all the buildings in a soft amber light, slowly brightening as if someone were gradually adjusting a dimmer switch to the city. As I watched the sun illuminate the panorama of glass, granite and steel before me, feeling the quick burn of the treadmill, I thought to myself-

This is totally not worth it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Combo #6 Was a Big Hit Tonight

It's commonly thought that routine is good for kids. It creates stability and comfort, giving them security in knowing what to expect. We seem to be King and Queen of routine. Oh, not about naptime. Or bedtime. Or, well, most of the other "scheduled" parts of the day. Of course, weekday mornings require routine to get to work and school on time. Those kiddos now understand that when I need to go or I'll miss the bus, they had better let me go. This is less from an understanding of professional work ethic, as from a deeply rooted sense of awe of any bus, train or plane. Missing the bus is worse than time out in their eyes. Weekends include housework, playing outside, visiting with friends, they now include soccer (a whole other post!), and grocery shopping for the week. And Starbucks. However, there is often one day most weeks when making dinner just isn't feasible. Maybe the chicken expired in the fridge earlier than I expected. Maybe (hypothetically speaking of course) I got on the wrong bus and had to call Fillip to say I was all the way across the valley, and getting on another bus heading back, but please come pick me up at this alternate stop. Hypothetically, this wrong bus had the right number for those of you who might suggest reading that hypothetical sign.

So, about once every week or two we go to our favorite place. It's a little Mexican restaurant that has cheap, plentiful and delicious food. Seriously, going out to dinner is synonymous with going there. We rarely deviate because the reason we are going out to begin with always involves simplifying the evening, and therefore does not include a decision about where to go. The kids love it and rarely leave anything on their plates. They always get the kids mini-burritos usually with rice and beans. They are pretty good about trying new things, but hadn't yet ventured into another item. I had never paid attention to the fact that Fillip always orders their dinners by combo number, rather than name. Tonight was one of those nights when dinner at home wasn't the best option.

On the way over to the restaurant, before we had even discussed our dinner choice, we heard a little Logan voice say "I don't want combo #3." Maybe we need a little less routine.

Oh, and for the record, he ordered and enchilada instead of his burritos, ate the whole thing, and the enchilada from Fillip's plate. Hayden downed both burritos as quickly as any industrial vacuum. That's what we like about our routine.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday Logan!

Three years ago this morning, I smiled in relief at the fact that my second labor and delivery had gone so textbook smooth, and I was holding my sweet little Logan in my arms. Little did I know what a little spitfire I had there, and he keeps us on our toes every day with those intense emotions, and his silly comical personality.

This little boy is such an imp, and is fully aware of the power of those blue eyes. He is the most stubborn person in this house, which is saying a lot. He is also so tactile, loves to be physically close, manages to move his body in the most clumsy and agile ways, and because of his propensity for falling, bumping and bruising- seems to have a pretty high pain tolerance.

A couple months ago he decided he was done with diapers and tells everyone we encounter that he wears undahweah now. He has a most unique way of speaking, that only certain people can consistently understand because it is hard to translate speech that doesn't include r, k, c, l, g and a couple other consonants. Despite that, he has excellent sentence structure and vocabulary putting together long thoughts, sprinkled with the word poopy whenever he thinks he can get away with it.

He is so excited that today is his birthday, and has been greeting me for weeks in the morning with "is doday my buhday?" Well, today he didn't do that. When tucked him back in at 5:30am calling him my sweet birthday boy, his eyes lit up brighter than the predawn light.

Happy birthday to my sweet "Yodan."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We are fine, thank you

The boys are doing well. Hayden continues to thrive in preschool and is now learning to read. He says doing "paperwork" is his favorite part of the day, and he constantly asks his teacher for more work. She says she rarely gets a great student like him, and he is (almost) always a perfect angel for her. Before you think he is the greatest kid ever, let me tell you that with the other teachers at the school, he is more than challenging. He's got it into his head that he only has one teacher he needs to listen to. Life would be more pleasant during his afternoons if he would just believe everyone when we say he needs to be nice to ALL the teachers.

Logan is now potty trained which is fantastic. We have a very lackadaisical approach- meaning we don't do anything, and let the boys decide when they are ready. It's worked both times, and had them trained stress-free relatively early. For the first time in 4 1/2 years we aren't changing diapers!!! Whoo hoo!! Logan proudly drops trow wherever he is to show off his new Batman, Speedracer, Spiderman etc. underwear. We'll have to get him to stop eventually, but it's pretty funny right now.

It seems we have turned a bend on behavior. For awhile they were completely out of control, and bedtime was a 2 hour ordeal. Just when we would get one settled, the other would get crazy, and it would instantly become a 3-Ring circus. So, we started putting Logan to sleep in our room with a few minutes of snuggles before we leave the room. Instead of nagging him to sleep, cuddling him to sleep, holding him down when he gets up, or any other unpleasant and fruitless methods we were using, we now don't acknowledge him at all. If he does get up, we silently just put him back on the bed. Eventually, it isn't fun for him anymore and he just goes to sleep. He tries calling us, but we tell him we aren't going to answer, then just ignore it. If it goes on too long, we give him a warning then close the door. This method has had surprisingly quick results, and we are all much more relaxed. Hayden of course, gets put to bed with a brief snuggle, then he lays quietly until he falls asleep.

In addition to bedtime, we are using a quieter approach to discipline in general. One warning, then time out in the chair. Logan finally stays put most of the time. When he doesn't, I silently keep putting him back in the chair until he sits quietly for his full 2 minutes. Hayden is good about serving his 4 minute sentence, and we have broken his habit of stomping as loudly as he can into his room every time.

They seem to be getting along quite well these days, playing cooperatively and working as a team. They do squabble, but it is no longer constant. We have a lot of pretend play around here, and lots of drawing and writing. They also like to take there cardboard bricks to build anything they think of - a pool with spa, Starbucks drive-thru, a dog park... it's really one of my favorite things to find, despite the fact that it means I can't really walk through the room easily. I just love seeing their creativity and teamwork.

Fridays remain our fun day together. This week we went back to the Museum of Natural History by request. They were engrossed in my "tour" through the room of animal skeletons and seemed genuinely interested in the details I pointed out such as animal size, and smaller things like the proportion of rib length to leg length. Had that been me, I might have fallen asleep standing there, but they really listened and asked very well thought out questions. Last year, taking them out anywhere by myself was a huge ordeal. Now, they are truly a pleasure to bring them on one adventure after another. This week, maybe back to the beach!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eleven Steps to Go

Ok, I'll admit it. I have a problem. That's the first step, right?

It started when my neighbor brought it over the first time. I couldn't be rude and refuse, so I had a little. At first, I thought that it was just a minor indulgence, a treat to get me through a rough spot. Once I finished what the neighbor had supplied, it was supposed to be over. Then Fillip gave me more. I found myself craving it, wanting it, sneaking it when nobody would know. Like a glass of wine with dinner I told myself it was just a little something to take the edge off. Unlike the occasional glass of wine, I am consuming all day long. Home alone I have a little after breakfast, tease myself that I need to wait an hour, or that I must have lunch first before going back for more. As soon as my healthy yogurt is finished, I find myself again taking a little before I am fully aware of what I am doing. Before I know it, it is all gone. Yet over the weekend, I bought more supplies, fully aware this time that I needed to just make a clean break.

It's not possible. Those damn Rice Krispy treats are addictive. Regular Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, or the new Cocoa/Nilla Krispies that look so mottled and pretty in the pan. It doesn't matter. I need that sweet gooey crunchy taste. Aaaahhh, there's my serenity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oh yeah...that blog thing I do

No, I didn't fall in a black hole. Aliens didn't abduct me, nor have I decided to circumnavigate the globe on a hot air balloon, rendering myself legitimately unable to update my blog. I've just been way too distracted by the little day to day things to gather any thoughts to share here. Often, something silly will happen and I make a mental note that it would be a great blog entry. Unfortunately, my mental noteboard seems to be one of those dry erase boards that is constantly smudging the pertinent info away. So, a little tidbit.

Lately, saying bedtime is a challenge is a gross understatement. Bedtime is a nightmare. As soon as we announce that it is time to get ready for bed, everyone braces for battle and It Is On! After weeks of too much yelling, too much crying, and an elevated stress level that nobody enjoying an extended time off work should experience, I decided enough is enough. Obviously, our approach was not working. So, I made a sticker chart and we tried it out. Each night the boys would go to bed nicely, they earned a fabulous Dinosaur Sticker in the morning. After 3 stickers in a row, they earned a Special Treat. The Special Treat turned out to be donuts, and I am am not happy to share that the donut shop around the corner has delicious, light, fluffy donuts filled with blueberry goodness the likes of which I haven't experienced since my childhood. I would love to tell you of the miraculous results of this sticker chart, how bedtime immediately turned around and we are once again nominated for Parents of the Year awards. However, the results have been spotty.

The most positive outcome seems to be that with a specific recourse, I am much calmer no matter how bedtime goes most nights. Hayden has thrived on this system, enjoying the positive rewards he earns consistently. He is generally great about going to bed, so this was not a big challenge for him. It has been nice to give him these rewards because he is constantly testing us in other ways, so currently gets significant negative feedback. Giving him an opportunity to "win" has been great, and I think it has carried over to other areas. It also gives Logan a tangible example to follow, as it sucks to watch your brother get a treat when you didn't earn one yourself.

Logan has definitely improved on this system. He understands the rewards coming to him, and knows to ask for his sticker the next morning if he was good at bedtime. His sticker chart isn't nearly as full as Hayden's but I have to think any progress is good. On nights when he is completely uncooperative, he screams at us that "I no wan a tikkah. I no yike tikkahs!" However, the proud smile on his face when he gets those stickers tells me differently. Often, when Logan is yelling and carrying on instead of going to bed nicely, we have Hayden go to sleep in our bed, then move him later, which is a whole challenge in and of itself. It's not easy to get 40 pounds of sleeping arms and lets up onto that top bunk! I then tell Logan he can choose to either lay down quietly and go to sleep, or I will go out and shut the door. It's the same premise of letting a baby cry it out. Although I understand many people don't agree with doing that, I don't care to spend two hours every evening putting a yelling, screaming Logan to bed. This works. Five minutes of crying sure beats 2 hours. I have only needed to shut the door a couple times, and he would cry for a few minutes before laying down, pulling up the covers and waiting for me to come back to lay with him. Now, I just walk out and he calms right down.

Last night I thought that since things were going so well, I'd let Hayden stay in the room until Logan settled himself. Well, Logan wouldn't settle so I walked out and closed the door. I'm not sure I even made it across the hall before both boys were bouncing around giggling like the new playground had just opened in there. Frustrated, I told them no stickers in the morning, and moved Hayden to my bed. They were both asleep within 15 minutes after that. This morning, Logan asked about stickers so I explained why none were coming. Hayden tried to blame Logan, but I said he has a choice to react or not. Well, it was really hard not to cave and hand him a sticker when he calmly explained "Mommy, I was trying to lay there nicely and go to sleep but my brother was kept waking me up. He was making me smile, and when I smile the giggle just needs to come out." :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What the heck am I doing all day?

It's amazing how busy I seem to be now that I am not working. How could I possibly have time for a job? During the day I busily putter around the house making beds, wiping counters, doing laundry, or any other mundane tasks that catch my attention. On Fridays when the kids are home from school and on newly free weekends (since I get all the chores and errands done during the week), we do outings. This month we have gone to the beach, Travel Town, The Museum of Natural History, Noah's Ark at the Skirball Museum, and the Strawberry Festival. Not to mention, spent lots of time with family and friends.

I've nearly cleared the back patio of the mountain of boxes that remained unpacked over the last year. That has definitely been slow going as I need to find a specific place for everything, and can only continue until the sneezing starts. For any of you who don't know this, I HATE sneezing. It is as if my body has decided to interrupt whatever I am doing without the courtesy of even saying "excuse me." Really, I can't talk when I'm sneezing so all conversation needs to stop. I can't listen when I'm sneezing. I can't unpack boxes, put things away, drive safely, or sleep while I am sneezing. You can only imagine the sailor language in our bedroom when this insomniac is woken up sneezing!! So, emptying all the dusty boxes is quite the challenging mission since my allergies seem to be in full assault mode these days. The fun thing about unpacking things after a year is getting to see them again. Oh! I was wondering where those platters have been. Ooh! Look at all these picture albums. Wow! All my childhood schoolwork! Each box is like a little present and I need to stop (and sneeze) to look at each thing before finding the perfect spot for it. So, you can see how this would take some time.

Another project I completed is not as simple as it might seem. For some time I've wanted to decorate the boys' room and make it more personalized. I had bought unfinished wood letters to paint, but never took the time. Recently, it came to me that a couple bulletin boards for their art and school work would be perfect in there. My initial thought was cork boards, but pushpins would only turn into weapons in that room. When I saw magnetic boards and colorful magnets at IKEA, I realized that was perfect. So after painting the letters, I broke out the nails (several sizes), hammer, level, nail gun and air compressor, hooked that stuff all up myself, and voila!! Check out their room now! The valance and wall hanging are from their nursery bedding set, but I just love them anyway. Take a good look at the carpet, because anyone who comes to my house knows, it isn't often visible for all the toys!

So, as you can tell, I have been quite busy. Although I am actively job hunting, I am also enjoying this disguised blessing of being at home for a bit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beach Day

While I am off work, I am trying to spend Fridays taking the boys somewhere we wouldn't otherwise get to go. The interesting places are all jam packed on the weekends, so this is a nice opportunity to avoid the crowds. Today we went to the beach. We actually hit on a beach I haven't been to before, but will definitely be visiting again, possibly next week. It was really beautiful, but off the beaten path with limited parking, so not too crowded. The boys were fantastic the entire time we were there. I had the chance to praise them for bravery in the cold, cold water, teamwork, and overall good attitudes. Let me tell you, this has been infrequent as of late, and a refreshing reminder of easier times. After several months, it was easy to forget how much we all love beach days together.

Two cool dudes arriving at the beach with all their gear.

See that black speck? It's a dolphin! Although it's common for us to see dolphins swimming along the coastline, I have never seen them so close to shore (not that you can tell from this pic). The school would cruise back and forth and were quite playful. There were about three times I saw them actually flip their entire bodies completely out of the water doing a complete aerial somersault. Sensational. This was a highlight for me. Logan was kind enough to at least look. Hayden couldn't care less.

The difference between supervision and ......

...teamwork. What a nice change. Filling the bucket was a very big project. There was much conferring, waiting for waves, digging, and carrying. I'm still not sure what the ultimate goal was, but seems to me, it really didn't matter. It's all about the moment.

Looks almost like Baywatch, right?

Or James Bond?

Deep in conversation over dried apricots.

Navigating a murkey river of knowledge

Recently, I went to a seminar on how to navigate our school district. Being that it is massive, there is a lot to know! The lady giving the seminar actually gave new information for 3 hours, most of which focused on magnet schools, and how to earn points to get your child into the magnet schools. I was totally overwhelmed. Growing up where I did, it seems that my parents were fortunate (or wise to move there) to not have to deal with any of this. All the schools were good and still are. Not so much where I live now. There are certainly excellent schools, but we may not be zoned for one. Or, it might not be a primarily English speaking population. Or, one of the kids might need a magnet or gifted program, that isn't offered at our local school. Or.... the list goes on. I'm so glad I listened to this talk and now know what to ask and investigate. Because Hayden starts kindergarten in 2009, we will need to start this process this coming December!!

One good piece of advice that came out of all this is to keep him where he is at for kindy. It is a montessori program, and the boys are thriving. We love the school and the teachers, and at this point certainly feel it would be beneficial for Hayden to stay an extra year. He loves learning, asking for more academic work all the time. He has a lot of friends, and the school is a very nurturing environment, but with the well defined boundaries that my two little imps need. Seems I made a good choice to go the extra mile and try to sweeten up the teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Oh, and I told you they wouldn't be getting those red velvet black and white cookies. Those are already ancient history.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Zen

One thing I tend to limit while I am working is my baking. It is something I love doing, especially with the boys. However, I normally do not have the time for gratuitous baking, nor do I want the added calories. Lately, for various reasons, we have been making many more treats.
We used fresh lemons from a generous neighbor to make lemon bars. Logan was in charge of the filling, while Hayden made the crumbly crust. As you can see by the picture, there were lemons and dry ingredients everywhere! Although they make a tremendous mess, it's worth the effort in the end. You can see by the picture that Hayden learned what sour means, while Logan was very busy in the background. They seem to really understand the process and enjoy the results.

For Shabbat dinner we made a chocolate and cheesecake swirled bundt cake, with M&M's of course. When it came to selecting a recipe, it was the picture of the cake with M&M's that sealed the deal. Since that particular recipe didn't look particularly fantastic, I selected a favorite swirled bundt cake of mine, adapted a chocolate glaze and let Picasso and Rembrandt add M&M's according to their own desgin. Because my bundt pan doesn't take a whole recipe, we used the overflow to make several mini-bundt cakes for the kids.

Last night, for Teacher Appreciation Week we made black and white red velvet cookies. This recipe was a bit more involved, and they seemed to lose interest when sifting the dry ingredients took too long. It was a bit tedious, but they came out so light and airy that I would do it again. The red food coloring added another element since two little
boys can make 1 tablespoon of red go a very long way. Somehow, I managed to contain the red to the baking area, while making dinner and getting Hayden to set the table. Since at one point he somehow got a huge blotch of red on his butt, he had to change his pants to avoid transferring it everything he sat on the rest of the evening, but that kid is super happy in sweatpants, so didn't mind at all. Once I finished glazing these, I thought they were so beautiful they needed to be photgraphed. Then, I had to taste one so I would know if they turned out ok. As much as I appreciate those teachers, these cookies aren't going anywhere!!! I guess we'll just have to make another sweet for school.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sweet Freedom

So, despite the fact that I actually do need to work, I LOVE being home! I haven't had this much time off since the kids were born, and having a newborn is enjoyable, but no picnic. Now? I can have a picnic any day I want. This whole layoff thing? Pretty sweet deal in my book. Fridays now belong to me and the kids, as they go to school Mon-Thurs. My house is the cleanest it has ever been. I take long walks most days. We are eating like royalty as I love to cook, but rarely have time. The pile of boxes on the patio has even dwindled. After a couple "career advancement" seminars last week, this week I plan to start my job search in earnest. However, until I have to actually go to work, I am going to enjoy every second of this time off.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And the hits just keep on comin'

Last night as my boss and I were debriefing each other after Dancing With the Stars, Fillip called. I didn't answer figuring if he had an emergency, he would leave a message. Well, he did. While at his friend's house, somebody broke the windows on both sides of his cars! It's not even like his friend lives in a bad neighborhood, but I guess it's just as fun, if not more, to smash the windows of a strangers car in front of a beautiful house. By daylight today it looks like it was a bee bee gun. Whatever...that's a $500 deductible we didn't want to have to pay.

Oh, and on the job front...I didn't get lucky like
last time.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's My Blog. I Can Gripe if I Want To.

It's not often that I really gripe on here, but there have been a couple things on my mind. Generally, I try to go about my day in a way that not only accomplishes what I need to do, but also takes other people into account. Seemingly in this city, this way of conducting oneself is not universal.

1. On the road. How much does it change your day to just let me the fuck over? I mean, really! When I put my turn signal on, I am basically giving you the courtesy of saying "Excuse me, but I will now be occupying that space in front of you in that lane." Not your lane. That lane. Therefore, it accomplishes nothing but pissing me off to immediately floor your gas pedal to prevent me from merging. Actually, it is a waste of gas, environmentally irresponsible, making you a very bad person. Additionally, to that person who was nice enough to let me in, then called me bad names when I smiled and waved- I hope all 5 feet of me scared the living daylights out of you when I came knocking on your window at the next stoplight to clarify my sincerely friendly gesture of gratitude. I thought you were nice. I was wrong.

2. The gym. Yes, I have been going to the gym. In order to avoid anyone one forming any expectations of my gym attendance, I have refrained from mentioning this, as my attendence and rapid lunchtime workouts are both feeble, thereby meeting no expectations at all. Except mine. So, in the locker room at the gym, it would seem there should be some common ground rules. Obviously, I expect to see women in various states of undress. I have no issue with this. There is a locker area provided with conveniently placed benches for dressing and undressing, as well as free towels. So, if I am standing at the vanity mirror blow drying my hair to rush back to work, please do NOT strip down right next to me at the mirror instead of at a locker, just so you can watch yourself undress, then leave your sweaty clothes on the counter *next to me* while you go get in the shower. This is not your personal dressing room and nobody should have to move your smelly clothes to get ready to go back to the office.

3. Again, the gym. Like many people, my gym clothes fit like a second skin. I'm not terribly self concious about this as I'm there to be healthier and I'm fairly lucky in that my rarely worked body is a healthy weight. I'm certainly not one of those super hot chicks, but fall well within the range of average. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought there was a code on the gym floor. If you are going to watch other people, you are supposed to do so surreptitiously, not make them uncomfortable. We are all doing what we need to do and I suspect very few people there are interested in being brazenly ogled. Many of the weight machines require sitting with legs apart to ensure correct posture, or an effective movement. Repeatedly sitting across from me throughout the gym just to watch me do these exercises is despicable. Please, just go rent a dirty movie and leave me alone.

4. Doors and elevators. Just hold them, will ya? When hundreds of people are flowing in and out of an office building, you can't tell me you didn't know I was behind you when you let the door slam in my face. Because, you may not have known I was there, but you should have known somebody was there.

Ok, that's enough negativity for now. Carry on.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Because it is easier to do another post, than get up and go to bed

Recently the boys and I planted flowers. Yes, I planted. No, I do not consider this murder. I am trying to take of those innocent plants, even if most plants cower when I come near them with a watering can. I spent several hours turning over the dirt, which likely had not been tilled for decades. We saw some great worms (strangely, my enthusiasm for the worms was far beyond the interest showed by Hayden and Logan), pulled a lot of weeds, then gave the flower bed a really good watering. Unused to physical labor, my hand is still healing from the double open blister I earned while doing all of this. The boys had a great time "helping" me and we were all covered with dirt. Once I saturated it, we had a very impressive mudpit. When Logan asked if he could step in it, I saw no reason to refuse. The look on Hayden's face probably reflects how Fillip looked just before he carried us each straight to the shower before dinner. Good times.

Mammoth Memories

This past week we headed for the hills to Mammoth. I had never been there, and now understand why people love it so much. It is truly beautiful, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. There was some snow, and some sunshine, and it was never ridiculously cold. They did wear snowsuits- Hayden looked like pit crew for NASCAR and Logan looked like an Oompa Loompa, but they sure were cute. There were 15 of us- 8 adults and 7 kids. Basically, Fillip's entire immediate family. The kids had an absolute blast playing together, and the kids other than mine are all excellent skiiers and/or snowboarders. We did send Hayden to ski school twice. He enjoyed it the first time, but was slightly overwhelmed and beyond tired. The second day seemed to really click with him and I was so proud to see my little man navigating the "slope." While Hayden was at ski school, we had a chance for some one on one time with Logan. He did ask to go skiing, but was satisfied by our explanation that he has to be 3 years old to go to ski class. We built a snowman and played at the house until it was time to go pick up Hayden.
One afternoon, due to popular demand (demand being the key word here) we took the boys on the gondolas. Despite a pretty strong wind shaking the gondola, the boys thought that was great fun. I did NOT. At one point we bounced so hard that we heard a soft thwump as Logan fell off his seat onto the floor. He didn't care though, and all they wanted the rest of the trip was the gondolas. We could see them from our rental house, and the boys carefully monitored when the gondolas were running, each one that floated by, and when they had stopped for the day.

My favorite part was watching the kids play on the toboggin. All of them were fearless in racing down the hills, alone or together with as many as could fit at one time. They happily played together for hours, and tired themselves out so much, that even Hayden took a nap every day we were there. There was a bunk room with two sets of double wide bunks for all the kids. My boys felt so grown up getting to bunk up with their big cousins, and didn't give us any trouble about going to bed. Logan wasn't too bad about waking everyone early, especially since the household was up early to hit the slopes anyway.

Hopefully, we can make this an annual trip. With an easy drive, beautiful scenery, and so much fun activity, I can see building a lot of memories there.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Mommy!
Happy birthday to you!
I love you! Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Date Night

Tonight Fillip took Hayden for a long awaited evening at Fillip's best friend's house. Now, Fillip's best friend is a great guy, but it's his mom that Hayden wanted to see. She should be a Professional Grandma for all the spoiling she does. When Hayden was a baby, he spent a lot of time there, and might gladly move in without looking back. Once she's stuffed him full of everything under the sun, he'll get to play, watch tv, be endlessly doted on, then tucked into bed until Daddy is ready to go.

Since the bigger boys were out, Logan and I had a date night. First, he had to run some boring errands with me, but does get bragging rights for being there when I bought new laundry hampers. Believe, that's important around here. The bragging, not the hampers. We haven't had any of those in years. When I asked Logan what he wanted for dinner, he first said he wanted to go out for tacos, then changed his mind to sushi. It didn't occur to me until he mentioned "watching the shishies" on the way that he wanted to see the fish pond in the restaurant. I'm glad he said something because I almost tried a new place, and that would have been disasterous! He was very patient about waiting until we were done before going to see the fish.

When we got there, the hostess offered us seats at the sushi bar. That wasn't nearly as interesting to Logan as I had thought it would be, but after a bit of switching we determined a booster seat was more comfortable than the high chair, and yes, soup was coming. He ordered a pineapple juice to drink and was happy scribbling on a sushi paper menu. The first thing that arrived was my krab handroll. I offered him a bite, and he liked it so much I had to order another one! Let me just make a list of what my two and a half year old ate for dinner tonight:
- krab handroll, at least half of one of these in total
- an entire bowl of miso soup
- shrimp roll with cucumber (not his favorite thing, although he said he liked it)
- baked scallop and avocado roll, a big bite and a few scallops
- teriyaki chicken, his main course
- white rice
- tempura shrimp
- tempura green bean
- tempura sweet potato

I think that about covers it. Oh, and an orange candy for going poopy in the potty before we left. After all, he needed the full restaurant experience.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Gantseh Megillah

Last night I took the boys to synagogue for the Purim Megilla Reading. My intention was to take them to the Mini Megillah service for tots, stay for about half an hour, then take my tired boys home to bed. My inlaws met me there, with the idea that they would stay for the full program. The Mini Megillah service included the Cantor telling the story of Purim, interspersed with related songs. This is a very festive holiday and many people dress up. We didn't as I have always felt (and Fillip agrees) that the costumes should be related to the story. I didn't get it together in time, so we went in regular clothes, armed with Purim tambourines for blotting out Haman's name. At one point, one of my mother-in-law's friends commented that she wasn't in costume. I told her she should have said she is a queen every day, and that would totally justify my being a princess! My kids seemed genuinely unimpressed with the Mini program, and certainly far from engaged. Things changed when at the end, the Cantor led all the kids into the main santuary. As soon as my boys saw that was where they were headed, they jumped right in line and took off, despite not knowing the people there. I figured they were in good hands, and took my time gathering my purse, jackets, etc...

The sanctuary was hopping! It was a raucous, hamisheh crowd, cheering and booing through the dramatic Megillah reading. When we found our seats, and eventually found the kids, it was Purim madness! Kids and grownups alike were all dressed up, and everytime Haman's name was said in the reading of the Megillah, the whole congregation would raise a racket with groggers, booing and hissing. There was a projector set up displaying the English and Hebrew text being read. Haman's name was in red and a pointer was used to show where the reader was, and that we were close to mentioning the villain. When it was read, the screen was changed to show a fire breathing dragon, or various other "evil" images (including Harry Potter, which made me laugh) so there was no doubt when to raise the roof.

One man had applied bloody fingers to his face as if a gruesome hand were bursting out of his head. Logan was fascinated with this, so I said to go ask the man about his makeup and pretend hand. I think it was too noisy for the man to hear Logan's questions, but I saw Logan stand there earnestly gesturing and pointing to his forehead, trying to figure out what it was. Even the Rabbi was dressed up, and made an announcement that he was dressed as a baseball player from the all-time greatest team, the Boston Red Sox. This was met by much booing and groggers.

One of the traditions of Purim is to drink so much you can't hear the difference between the evil Haman, and the hero Mordecai. Well, this was the first time I have even seen an open bar right there in the sanctuary! No, I'm not making that up. These are sacred rituals people, and it would be wrong for me to exaggerate. So, President Clinton (aka, maybe the Men's Club President) poured me a very stiff screwdriver, and made a Shirley Temple for the boys. With services like this, I don't know why more people aren't converting!

Once the Megillah reading was complete, the Cantor announced a loosely reenacted story of Purim, as a motown/disco musical show. It was really entertaining and at one point Hayden jumped off my lap into the aisle to bust a move. The kids loved the part where anyone in costume was invited to parade around the sanctuary amidst all this singing, drinking and revelry. It wasn't my kids' fault they didn't have costumes so I sent them off to join the parade, instructing them to go around, then come back. They did exactly that and since people were still going, in the spirit of Go Dog Go I said "Go around again!" They loved the freedom to move around and make lots and lots of noise.

Along with their Purim tambourines, I had bought them party "blowers." You know, those paper noise makers that uncurl when you blow them. There was one left and Logan decided that a little Cinderella about age 6 should have it. Among all the freilach meidelach, he clearly had his eye on her. While I admire his chutzpah, he needs to work on his game a bit. He kept shadowing her holding out the toy, but wasn't speaking up, or maybe it was just too noisy. She didn't even notice him at first (which I can't help but think guys will experience again and again!), and I finally got her attention for him. I told her he wanted to give her the blower and that he must think she is the prettiest princess. She looked a little creeped out, frankly and a the other maidel mit a klaidel said to me "but I'm pretty too!" OMG! Did I just quash the self-esteem of a 4 year old? I assured her over and over that yes, she was really beautiful. Unfortunately we only had one blower left. Good thing I could then turn back to my cocktail after my rough foray into the preschool singles scene.

A rabbi from my childhood was there, as he and his wife are members of this synagogue. It was bittersweet to see him, as he is looking very old these days, yet still so familiar. I later saw that he now uses a walker, but somehow retains the appearance of vitality with that strong booming voice, and hair that has refused to whiten all these years. My guess is that he is in his late 70's, but don't know for sure. I brought each of the boys over to say hello (and kvell a bit, of course!) The rabbi spontaneously put his hand on Logan's head and began reciting the Hebrew benediction. Logan just stared back intently. Frankly, it did sound a bit as if Rabbi G was off his rocker, but I knew what he was doing, and appreciated that special blessing that he probably recited over me many times as a little girl. After all, there will be limited opportunities for him to bless my children, and I will take them all. When he did that for Hayden, there was something about the way the rabbi kind of jutted out his chin. Hayden wasn't quite sure what was going on, so just leaned in and gave him a kiss!

Just as I could see the kids starting to lose interest, the program wrapped up. It was nice to let the boys run into the social hall while I gathered our things, feeling good about them being at home in a shul. Usually, they are required to sit still and quiet, despite being bored out of their minds by listening to a language they don't understand. Purim is such a great opportunity to have the kids get comfortable and excited about being at services. I did explain that most services require us to sit quietly, but that Purim is a special holiday where going to temple is like a big party. True to form, the Sisterhood passed out hamentaschen at the end, making me look like a great fortune teller for having mentioned this to the kids ahead of time. They each took the proffered raspberry treat (I saved apricot for myself), took a big bite, then looked at me as if all the saliva they had ever produced had been absorbed by that one bite. As Tevye says "Tradition!" Post-synagogue sweets have never been accused of being too moist.

My two tired boys excitedly chattered about Purim all the way home, and fell asleep within moments of hitting their pillows, visions of hamentaschen dancing in their heads. Happy Purim.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How We Celebrated Hayden's 4th Birthday, and Celebrated, and Celebrated....

Friday night
We had our weekly Shabbat dinner with Fillip's parents. My mother-in-law had called to consult me on what kind of icecream cake Hayden might like. Unbeknownst to me, Hayden had declared himself anti-icecream. When I handed him a piece he whined "No Mommy! I wanted strawberries first!" How do I tell him he must eat all his icecream cake before he can have fresh fruit? Not to mention, how is that my son if he doesn't like icecream? I must have overloaded him on icecream en utero with my twice daily Banana Royale Sundaes from Baskin Robbins. It takes some effort to put 50+ lbs on this frame! He dutifully took a couple bites, but not enthusiastically. Silly kid.

Saturday- Hayden's actual birthday
We woke up Saturday morning and asked Hayden if he would like to eat breakfast at home or go out. He was very specific about where he wanted to go, so we headed to our former stomping grounds, and reminded ourselves of why we would go to that particular coffee shop so frequently. The staff is so familiar and friendly, the food far superior to the other places we go. As we walked in, Hayden announced to the dining room at large that it was his birthday and he is now Four. Logan backed him up saying "He da buhthday man." Towards the end of breakfast, while I took Hayden to the bathroom, our server asked if they could bring him a birthday sundae. Fillip said sure, but warned them he may not eat it. Sure enough. They brought 2 scoops of icecream over a cookie, smothered in chocolate syrup and marshmallow fluff. While they sang, Hayden sat there looking like he was having an awkward social moment. He had already told us he was full, and established the ban on icecream the night before. He quietly thanked them, then when the staff walked away he looked at us and said "Do I have to eat this?" No, I'll take care of it, son. Just pass it right over here!

We spent the day doing various errands to get ready for the party on Sunday. Hayden's only birthday present request was a big toy kitchen he had seen in December. Do you want a racetrack? No. Do you want Bob the Builder stuff? No. Do you want any, ahem...boys stuff? No, just my kitchen please. So, Fillip spent about an hour building it. It is a really cool blue wooden kitchen set with knobs for the stove, and buttons for the microwave. The sink handles work as well, and the boys are having a blast pretending to serve up various dishes, and clean their kitchen. It's really cute. After all, they see Fillip cook all the time, and often help us cook and bake. They are no strangers to the kitchen. To my future daughters-in-law: You're welcome!

That evening we headed to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner. Missy and Marlena met us there. The boys had never been there and were a bit overwhelmed to start. They quickly got the idea and loved the freedom to endlessly put in tokens to take the rides. Logan tried climbing in the "mouse crawl" that goes to the ceiling several times, but kept getting run over by bigger kids. A few words from me and another mom, and he finally got to the top so he could go down the slide. He was so proud of himself, but one time was enough. They each half heartedly at some pizza when it came to the table, then went to play. We didn't try to get them to eat much, but when they came back to the table a little later, they had worked up a better appetite and each devoured another piece. Chuck E. apparently only comes out for reserved birthday parties. I didn't realize this, and as soon as he appeared, Logan shouted "He came!" as if he had sent out an invitation, hoping the invitation was received. He then bolted over to the giant mouse. Well, some of the people at the qualified birthday party were rather exuberant and poor Logan turned tail and ran back to me. Hayden made his way into the fray, so excited to meet this giant mouse we had told him about. I was about to try to get a pic of the boys with Chuck E., then realized they were trying to sing and serve cake for that party. Oops! The kids weren't so enamored anyway. Fillip and I both agreed it was much Chuck E. "Cheesier" than we remembered, but the kids had a great time. Back at our house, Hayden opened some presents Missy had brought, played with her and Marlena for a few minutes, then off to bed. We needed time to finish last minute party details. Well, that and a bottle of wine.

Sunday- Party Day!
Hayden woke up excited to have his birthday party at last. We had a quick breakfast at home then headed to My Gym for birthday madness. The kids had an absolute blast! Basically, the kids go play on all the equipment and participate in games run by the My Gym staff. The grownups chat and munch on snacks (chips, candy, coffee cake, coffee, fruit). Fillip had told me the day before that junk food was required for a birthday party. I grudgingly complied, being a real grinch when it comes to that stuff. Anyway, I had a ball playing with all the kids and trying to capture every moment on film. Hayden had requested sports themed cupcakes, which I had made aplenty. There were baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls and footballs. He later said the football cupcakes were his favorite. The "Happy 4th Birthday Hayden" signs were penants made of sugar cookie dough. Add some juice boxes and you have 20 happy kids! At the end of the party, one staff member announced good news and bad news. The bad news was that the party was over. I quipped that the good news was that I didn't have to clean my house!! As the party broke up, Hayden was excited to hand out goody bags to all his friends. Later when I asked what his favorite part of his party was, he told me it was handing out the goody bags.

We took our two tired, sugar coated boys home to nap for awhile. Logan actually fell asleep in the car holding his balloon and a ring pop. He would later reclaim that ring pop and don a candy necklace for most of the afternoon. I kept wiping him up, but he was covered in sticky sugar all day. I'm not sure he has ever been happier! When they got up from naptime, we played with their new art supplies on the easel (Thank you Missy & Rob!) and opened presents. Hayden enjoys opening presents, but never goes crazy with it. Usually, he loses interest long before we are done. This time, we had a more moderate pile so he participated in all the gift opening. We are now slowly doling out fun new playthings over the next several days. Fillip and I were quite excited to see some "old school" toys like Lite Brite and Shrinky Dinks. I actually remember getting a Lite Brite one year for Chanukah, and playing with Shrinky Dinks. Later in the day, the little boy from next door came over to play while Fillip helped his dad move a refrigerator, then we all had dinner together. The boys just love being together, even though they don't interact all that much. It was a really fun evening, and overall a fantastic day. Hayden told us several times that he had fun with his friends, and is so excited to be Four. The day wasn't quite over for me though, as there were yet more cupcakes to make. There were 20 cupcakes left from the party, which is how many kids there are in Hayden's class. I didn't want to leave out the teachers, so had to make another batch. Fortunately, they went rather quickly, only taking a couple hours to decorate. Yes, that's quickly.

Monday- School celebration
On Monday I brought cupcakes to the school for Hayden's class. Hayden was really excited when I walked in. One boy immediately asked "Are those for me?" I told him one of them was. What I didn't know was that he had just had a birthday as well, and his mom was also bringing cupcakes. The teacher had forgotten about me. The other mom was later than expected, so the teacher had to "edit" the birthday crown to say Hayden's name, and had us go ahead. When I went to go get Logan from his class to join us, he greeted me with "Where da tuptakes?" Smart kid knows how to get to the important stuff. He felt like he was important stuff getting to go to his big brother's class for a little while. Hayden was so happy to have us there and immediately gave Logan a hug and invited his little brother to sit next to him. As always, Hayden looked rather uncomfortable as everyone sang to him. The kids all loved getting to pick which cupcake they wanted, as even the new batch had different sports. I had scrambled on my way over to pick up paper goods, a candle and a disposable camera (my camera battery died at the party on Sunday. Charger mysteriously missing. Both boys claim ignorance.) At one point I noticed that the disposable camera was being passed around as the kids took pictures. Hayden had the camera and was pointing at Logan who was standing still giving his cheesiest camera smile. We should get some interesting shots! After a little while the boys went outside with their classmates to play and I had to get back to work. Logan tried pulling my heartstrings with a very sad face asking to go home with me. About 30 seconds later he was tearing it up around the playground on a bike. I left two very happy kids full of sugar and playing in the sunshine.

So, there are many of you out there who might say that all this birthday shanigans is ridiculous, way too drawn out, and what kid needs to celebrate their birthday four days in a row. I agree, it's completely unnecessary. Yet, I wouldn't have eliminated a single thing we did. I would bake another 100 cupcakes, just to see the look on his face that let us know he feels so special. And, you know what?

He is.

Happy 4th Birthday, Sweet Pea.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Logan Turned 2 1/2 Yesterday

At 2 1/2 Logan is chock full of contrast. With those big blue eyes and cherubic cheeks, he is absolutely adorable. He loves to snuggle and be physically close to people, often just coming over and plopping into a lap without any preamble. However, just as suddenly, those eyes will fill with mischief, and those sweet full lips will purse in obstinance, and it is like pulling teeth to get him to cooperate. It is amazing how so much stubborn can fit in that tiny body.

Logan is a fun little imp. He loves to play and giggle. He runs everywhere he goes and can climb like a monkey. His teacher was telling me how very sweet he is in class, and that he needs to sit right up close to her during circle time. He loves school, and plays quite nicely with his friends. He seems to have a pretty good grasp of colors, and is learning numbers. His fine motor skills are still being developed, requiring correction in how to hold a pencil and colors with broad strokes, rather than being able to color in the lines on a small picture. He loves to sing, mostly the ABC's. We do hear snippets of other songs he learns at school, which are especially cute accompanied by hand motions.

At home, he is very big on pretending. This is often a game of going to Starbucks, but often short order grill as well. I don't know where he gets that as we don't eat at fast food restaurants, but it is very cute. He used to use an old dishwasher in the backyard as his counter, but now it is the new swingset platform. We are required to place our order and "eat it!!" Last week he asked what I wanted, so I asked what he had. Often, I'll "order" something, and he tells me he doesn't have that. So, the special of the day was vegetable soup with carrots. For some reason that really amused me, so I ordered it right up, pretended to blow until it cooled then ate the whole thing. One day I got to order a Pushup and he told me that would be seventy five cents! Often, once he has a game going, Hayden will want in on it. When Hayden comes up with the game of the moment, Logan is always a willing participant, letting his brother direct the show. Those two always want to be together and play nicely most of the time.

Books seem to be his favorite toys right now, and he will gladly grab a book he knows, and thumb through "reading" it for quite awhile. He drags a little chair from his room around the house, and sets up a reading area. When he has several books out, I require him to put them back on the bookshelf before taking more. He'll grab the books, and run as fast as he can to replace those and pick new ones. He also likes some of the decorating magazines I have around the house, pointing out different features he sees the magazine that reminds him of houses he knows. "Danma Mitty has dat! Dat ow-uh tove! Danma Woz titchen!" ("Grandma Mickey has that! That's our stove! Grandma Roz's kitchen!) We often take walks around the neighborhood and Logan is so proud to be able to peddle his tricycle all the way around the block. Unfortunately, he is easily distracted and slow as molasses! Last week I had Hayden stay behind him. Having his brother nudging him along really quickened our pace.

He has an extensive vocabulary with pretty good grammar. However, people often have trouble understanding him. Whenever we don't know what he is saying, we ask Hayden who can translate about 90% of the time. Logan pronounces all G's as D's (Grandma is Danma) and all L's as Y's and Th's as D's (I yike dat!) I love hearing him talk in his babyish way, using big words like synagogue (sydadod). When he is excited about something he is saying, he makes broad gestures, and his face is so expressive. Again, little body + big personality. He does try to use the word why? as punctuation, so we have gotten to telling him no more questions when it gets to be too much! We do Shabbat dinner with Fillip's parents every week. Logan is learning the Hebrew prayers and we now see him piping in more and more on the long Kiddush (prayer over the wine). Hayden prompts him through the short Kiddush, and I can't imagine anything cuter that seeing Hayden teaching Logan Hebrew.

He takes pride in his appearance, often asking to have his hair spiked. Recently, he has been less enthusiastic about that, declining about half the time I offer.Yesterday the boys got haircuts and he was so proud of himself on that raised chair, looking in the mirror. Pretty freakin' adorable to see that tiny face above the smock. The poor stylist was at a total loss when the kids started hounding her for treats, even though we told them they were all gone. Logan even remembered that the last time I took him there, I had bought a milkshake to share. Apparently, that had been permanently built in to our haircut routine, and I had dropped the ball! Getting back to independence, Logan really enjoys helping around the house with making his bed, feeding the cats, pulling weeds and loves to help us cook. Potty training continues to be hit and miss. He poops on the potty about 90% of the time, but rarely asks to go pee. Any potty success gets a treat and The Poopy Song. The Poopy Song seems to make him much happier than the treat, but if for some reason no treat is forthcoming, massive temper tantrums will ensue. We aren't avid trainers when it comes to the potty, preferring to think something will click one day and he will find that diaper gross. This happened early on with Hayden, so we have the blissful ignorance of people who haven't struggled through the process. Hopefully, we get lucky again. If he doesn't show more progress in a few months, we may get more proactive, but for now we are very low key about it.

Logan has never been a great sleeper, and since we got the bunk beds, bedtime often includes major drama. First, he climbs on the top bunk with Hayden, jumping, squealing, and wrestling with each other. When we tear the two puppies apart, Hayden settles right down and falls asleep quickly. Logan is very difficult to get down. Half the time, he ends up sleeping on what was Hayden's mattress in the other room. Last night I didn't even try getting him down in the bottom bunk, but started in the other room. Silly me thought he was being so good with no drama at all, that I would offer to let him fall asleep in the bunk bed. It took another 45 minutes and much switching back and forth. Part of the reason it took so long, was I was just unwilling to be my usual hard ass self, inciting tears and tanrtrums by both of us. It seems that the transition from his crib is really tough on him. I am wondering if the big bunk beds are just overwhelming, if he doesn't like seeing the other bed over him, or if he associates the bed with playtime. Maybe it's all three. Maybe I'm putting way to much into why a 2 1/2 year old boy doesn't want to go to bed. He just doesn't. Once he sleeps, he sleeps very soundly, but wakes very early. This morning he crawled into bed with me at 5:30am. Anytime before 5am, he gets sent back to his own bed. Today he was snuggled up tightly against me, which is always so sweet. When my alarm went off at 6:30am, Conan was snuggled against Logan, with a paw across his belly, crisscrossing my hand. It was a warm Logan sandwich and a very nice way to wake up. Despite the bedtime challenges, naptime is easy, and he usually sleeps at least an hour. Like I mentioned before, Logan needs a lot of physical contact and isn't shy about that. He is full of hugs and kisses, plops into my lap and clearly states "I want to be wid you." When he has been in trouble and isn't quite sure if the storm has completely passed, he will hover cautiously nearby until I hold him tight for a few minutes.

With all that snuggly sweetness comes the flip side. Logan has an amazing stubborn streak. Once he has taken a stance, he would rather lose any privilege than give in. When appropriate, we try to find a way for him to come around and save face without feeling like he backed down. Sometimes it is a power struggle, and we have to win. Of course, when he is over tired, he spirals completely out of control, unable to regain his composure. I feel so bad for him at those times, yet need to just give him some time alone to regroup. Almost always when he is mad he lashes out saying "Fine! You not coming to my buhday pahdy!" It sounded a bit amusing the first few times, but has gotten old really fast.

Now that we are seeing signs of spring (you know, after our harsh Los Angeles winter) we are starting to breathe a sigh of relief regarding Logan's health. After last year's hospital stay, we were both concerned that he would get sick like that again. Having had such a rough bout with rsv, he would have been more vulnerable this year than other kids his age. However, he did not get the virus, and his asthma has been easily controlled with Pulmocort nebulizer treatments once or twice a day. There was a point where he got a cold and we heard a rattle when he would breathe, but a few days of Xopenex combined with Pulmocort two or three times a day knocked it out quickly. We feel so lucky to have had him healthy through cold and flu season, dealing with relatively minor illnesses like colds, pink eye and a stomach bug. He has always been rather accident prone, and we haven't seen that go away yet. Yesterday we were about to go for a walk. We had been outside less than two minutes when he tripped on his own feet (which happened to be wearing Hayden's rain boots) and did a face plant on the pavement. He looks like he got in a fight, and didn't fare too well with a bruised bump on his forehead and his nose all scraped. Add the scratch on his cheek I accidentally gave him, and he looks a bit pitiful. However, a couple minutes of an ice pack and he was just fine, ready for our walk, and running around all evening.

This boy has always been a huge eater, and that hasn't changed. I can't even think of something he doesn't like. What is really interesting to me, is that he eats his veggies first. Meat might take a little longer, but he loves his veggies. People often comment on the volume of food he consumes, but it takes a lot of fuel to stay in motion for so many hours a day. We pack huge lunches, and he never brings any of it home. School doesn't encourage sharing lunches and says he is the one eating it, plus the snacks they provide. Independence is blooming, and Logan now wants to dress himself with moderate success. We let him struggle for a few minutes to figure it out, then rescue him if the shirt gets all turned around. He actually does quite well, and is very particular about what he wears. "I no yike dat one. I weyah dat shuyt." Last weekend I got a shirt out that says Ladies Man. At first it wasn't what he wanted. He stood there in just his diaper objecting, then asking "Who da yadies man?" When I said he is the ladies man he got a big grin, put his hand on his hips in a wide stance, clicked his tongue and gave a little hip thrust. I felt like I owed him a dollar bill, and about fell over laughing. Later in the store a nice old lady asked him about his shirt. I was actually cringing, afraid he would make the same gesture at her, but luckily he had left the stripper act at home. Phew!

Logan is such a bright light wherever he goes. He makes strangers smile, brings our family so much love, and manages to constantly grow and learn, while retaining some of his babyish charm.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hi, my name is Marlo and...

Most weekend mornings one of us takes the kids to the Starbuck's drive-thru. They usually get the kids cocoa, which we let them call chocolate coffee. That sounds perfectly appropriate, but it is a bit surprising when they know our order so well. Hayden knows Fillip's particulars and my alternate drinks. Yesterday morning Fillip sent Hayden in for my order while I got to sleep in. It actually surprised me that he didn't repeat grande iced fat free caramel macchiato correctly. I mean, what's wrong with that kid? This morning we were working on the fact that whatever I order is fat free. Getting me full fat is a fireable offense. He is very aware of all our tastes and what we eat and drink. Now and then (ok, usually once a week) when we have a cocktail he asks to taste it. We always tell him no because it has alcohol in it. Well, maybe that is too much information.

Tonight he was playing on his toy phone placing our order. This happens often, and they frequently pretend they are on their way to Starbucks. As I was getting Logan in his jammies, Hayden was busy ordering for us: "Hi, I need to get one warm chocolate coffee. Yeah, for me. And a strawberry cold drink for my brother. He likes that. Yeah. Cafe Americano for my Daddy with an add shot. Uh huh. Oh nuffing.(Must have been offered a pastry at this point.) But also, a grande vanilla latte for my Mommy. That one needs alcohol in it." Do you see the problem here? I'm sure it's obvious to you as well. He forgot the fat free. Otherwise, it sounds perfect.

It's Either Laugh or Cry, and Crying Was Already Taken

You may think I'm really mean, but this totally cracked me up. We had a really rough afternoon full of defiance and much timeout. Fortunately, the boys regrouped for the evening, but I think had used up all their coping energy.

Logan is really good about going poopy on the potty. He knows as a reward he will get a little piece of candy and me literally singing and dancing his potty song, which I think he likes better than the candy. However, he clearly feels that the candy is his due, no matter what. Often after I clean him up, our bare bottomed boy goes tearing around the house, bouncing on beds, and wreaking havoc until I can corral him in the bathroom to wash his hands and get dressed.

Tonight I warned him that if he made me chase him, he would not get his treat. He obviously did not believe me. Once I caught the little bare assed bandit, he asked for his poopy song, so I enthusiastically complied. However, he realized after his breathing treatment that he hadn't been given a treat. I explained that I had to chase him, so no treat. Apparently, processing that bad news exhausted the rest of his composure and he completely lost it. It was so sad to see him totally meltdown with big fat tears rolling down his eyes. Unfortunately for him, I mean what I say, so told Hayden to come on over for his bedtime story. By now Logan was throwing a fit on the floor about his treat, but when Hayden started climbing into my lap, Logan decided that was where he needed to be. Again, he was unfortunate as I wasn't willing to give Hayden, who was behaving nicely (at last!) the boot and reward the temper tantrum. Well, that was it! That poor little guy was so mad that he just laid there on the floor kicking and crying like I had told him...well, like I had told him he couldn't have any candy.

I read the story and tried encouraging him to come sit with us. No dice. At one point he disappeared into his room and came out carrying a chair. I warned him that if he used that chair to climb up and get a piece of candy, he would be in BIG trouble. It was so funny to see him standing next to that chair in the dark kitchen contemplating if it was worth the risk. Finally he decided to come kick on the floor some more. At the end of the story, he melted down again realizing he had missed his chance. More crying, kicking and all out temper. I decided to tuck in Hayden, then try to settle Logan. It only took a few minutes, but in that time I could hear Logan raging in the hall, and beating the bookshelf with my shoes. That was followed by the sound of all the books hitting floor. Yeah, he'll show me.

Now, this might not seem all that amusing to you, but hearing that tiny little guy exhibit such a huge attitude was really funny. I actually didn't have nearly as hard a time getting him to pick up the books as I had expected, and he looked so pleased when I thanked him that I think he forgot to be quite so mad. He did tell me once again that he wanted a treat. I did tell him once again no, but that he would get one next time if he didn't make me chase him. He is now sleeping peacefully after requesting lots of snuggles. He really is a sweetheart. Given my own temper, I totally got where he was coming from. It was just so funny to see it in such a little package.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hayden- Nearly 4 Years Old

It's been awhile since I gave actual updates with the kids. The thought occurs to me fairly frequently, but these personalities are so big, it's hard to fathom capturing that in just a few paragraphs. Let's see how this goes.

At nearly 4 years old, Hayden is such a fun boy. He loves to play and joke, giving us a goofy grin, or just plain cracking himself up. He is thriving at school, bringing home wonderful worksheets every day. Being unfamiliar with preschool education, I am beyond impressed with every one of these. Sometimes he is asked to count the objects, then circle the corresponding printed number. Other assignments involve discriminating between numbers and letters or many other academic ideas. He can count to 100 and has an uncanny understanding of numbers in general. We give him simple arithmetic problems of addition and subtraction and he just gets it. He knows what sound each letter makes, can write each letter, and can spell his and Logan's name. He doesn't yet grasp that words flow from left to right, and without coaching will write his letters one on top of the other. More like a logo than a name, really. He really enjoys his friends and playtime at school, but it is very difficult to get him to share what he did all day. We are actually quite impressed with his ability to evade direct questions, no matter how cleverly we ask.Maybe he should be an international spy when he grows up. His teachers give good reports of his class participation, and we are told that his temper is very typical for a four year old, and not nearly as bad as some of his classmates. The only thing the teachers would really like to see change is naptime. Hayden will not sleep during the day. He will lay down to "take a rest" but will not get that much needed sleep to get him through the evening. We really believe this has a lot to do with evening meltdowns, but haven't found a solution.

Speaking of that temper- He is becoming the King of Drama. If he isn't happy with something he loudly turns on the waterworks or defiantly yells at us, or both. We find that we need to be super consistent and immediate with discipline to quell the pending rebellion. Once he ramps up, it is very difficult to calm himself down, and the best approach is to let him blow off steam alone until he can pull himself together. He hates when we tell him to sit in his room by himself until he is done crying, but it is often the only way he will take the time to compose himself. We can often avoid these tantrums by warning of any change in activity and letting him know what the plan for the day is. He doesn't always do well with surprises, depending on what they are. If we are on vacation and there is no routine, he goes with the flow very easily. However, if I pick him up from daycare before he has played in the nap room as long as he wanted, I am greeted by angry tears for interrupting his playtime. Wednesday I told him he needed to get it together to go out to dinner and at least pretend to be happy to see me. He gave me the cheesiest fake grin that totally cracked me up. Fortunately, that also broke his tension and he was in a very good mood after that. Hayden does have a desire to be first for everything and win at whatever he is doing. We are trying to convey that you don't win at the dinner table, and getting to the sink first by pushing your little brother down is not the way to go. One of his new complaints is that everything takes "forever" and he "never" gets whatever was just denied. Insert whiny voice here upon being sent to his room for flinging oatmeal: "I never get to finish breakfast! I'm going to be soooo hungry. Lunchtime is taking forever to get here!" We often take forever to get out of the car, despite repeatedly telling him to get a move on. Logan takes forever to wash his hands when Hayden is waiting. Chocolate milk takes forever to get to the table when we are stirring the pasta before hopping to it for him. And, he never gets treats. Ever. Or so he'll have you believe. Last night we really rocked his world by serving the kids dinner first so we could have a romantic Valentine's dinner alone after they went to bed. When I went to check his progress on getting into jammies I was greeted with "I never want to have dinner like this again!" Well, although I feel for him being upset at the change in routine, it will happen again. Not often, but it will. Dinnertime is always a family event, so he doesn't have much concept of Mommy and Daddy time.

The flip side is what I like to consider his true nature. He is a very sweet kid, and often exuberantly appreciative of the little things we do for him. This morning he accepted his oatmeal saying "Oh thank you! Apple cinnamon! I love this kind. Thank you for making it for me, Mommy!" Of course, this had followed a very rough morning of lots of unacceptable behavior and lecturing by me, so I thought it rather funny when he ended this gushing with "See how I changed my attitude?" Yes, thank you. He will often tell us he loves us at random times, and is getting to be very sweet and caring with Logan, especially if Logan has hurt himself. Hayden will go over, put an arm around him and speak to him in a very high caring voice "Are you ok? Do you need me to kiss it better?" Logan always solemnly accepts the offer and all is well. Hayden is very good at sharing, although he also thinks sharing by other kids means handing something to him right away. He seems to play quite nicely with other kids, handing toys off if nicely requested, and holding hands or hugging the other kids. He is very independent, wanting to dress himself, cut his food himself, brush his teeth himself, etc... At this age, it's so great that he can actually do these things, with minimal assistance. Some days he wants to choose his own clothes, but doesn't seem to have too strong an opinion about what he wears. He rarely complains about me handing him clothes to put on, often giving lots of "Oh thank you's!"

Hayden is a very good helper around the house. He does an excellent job cleaning his room and making his bed, often without being asked to do so. He is starting to clear his things from the table, and yesterday folded and put away the empty grocery bags on his own. Cooking is tons of fun as he continues to understand the elements of the baking process and how to use the mixer. As we go through the grocery store, it's not uncommon for him to ask about items I put in the cart saying "Mommy, you bought oil. Are we baking a cake?" Baking remains one of my favorite activties to do with them. He of course loves to help Fillip build anything and help in the yard, and has a good grasp of what each tool is for. He is always active, running, jumping, climbing, or riding bikes. He loves to zoom around the block, and is good about waiting at the corner for us to catch up, keeping him in sight. The training wheels are a must, but I can see improvement in how he handles his bike, and need to start having him do circles in the street to master turning better.

We have a pretty established routine in the evening. Dinner is shortly after arriving home. Hayden is not a picky eater, and will eat most anything. However, he dawdles and plays until we are nearly done, then wants to sit even longer to finish his meal. This is a work in progress, but I think we might be seeing some improvement. Thankfully, we know he should be nutritionally sound as he loves veggies, meat, pasta, rice, and almost anything we put out. He will taste anything, even things he hasn't liked in the past. Mushrooms are one of the few things he doesn't like, yet last night enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms I made. Once the kids are jammied up we read a story before tucking in. This is my favorite time of the day, when we all cuddle up together for a few quiet minutes. Hayden really understands the stories we read, and asks good questions or can answer questions about what we read. His teachers report that he excels at this at school. Given my passion for books, this makes me so happy. With the recent addition of bunkbeds and room sharing, bedtime involves a fair amount of patience, but rarely because of Hayden. He is very good about lying down, getting a snuggle, and going to sleep. Once asleep, he is a rock and rarely wakes during the night. If he does wake up, usually something is wrong so we are very responsive. This happens maybe twice a year, maybe. He doesn't fight sleep at night, and will sleep until his brother wakes him around 6:30am. Last week he started telling me a story as if it had actually happened. It took a few minutes to realize that he was telling me about a dream.

Each day we are amazed at what a big kid he is. Not physically of course, he's a little peanut. In all other ways we see what we remember about childhood. He plays games we remember and uses expressions we used. He is recently aware of our music, and I just thought him so cool as I realized he was singing Stay Up Late by The Talking Heads. It's nice that the song requests aren't just Wheels on the Bus anymore. Hayden is so full of emotion and motion all the time, except for when he finally crashes at night. He is so fun to have around, and excellent company most anywhere. It's hard to believe that he was once this tiny baby, but I am enjoying getting to know this developing human being everyday. I love my Sweet Pea more than I could have ever imagined, and just hope that he is somehow absorbing that as he does so much other information.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yet Another Reason I Don't Talk Politics

Some might argue that I am a bit high maintenance. Fillip lovingly calls me Sally, harkening back to one of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally. I don't necessarily agree since I just like it the way I like it and consider myself low maintenance due to the fact that I happily leave the hair dryer at home to go camping, but whatever. :) Anyway, I was feeling like my mani/pedi was way overdue after not going to the nail salon for the last several months. This is something I like to do on my lunch hour, feeling like I am sneaking away for a little bit of luxury at the cheap nail place below the Weight Watchers Center after I weigh in. So, even though the Center was closed today, I just didn't want to wait another day. I can get the bad news at my weigh in tomorrow. Maybe my pretty toes will console me so I don't turn to candy. Yeah, right!

Everything started off perfectly. I was nice and relaxed as my toes were trimmed, my feel scrubbed and massaged, and the nice lady doing all this asked me superficial questions about my life. When she was almost done, another lady came over to do my manicure to save time. Well, I really wish I had not been left "alone" with her. The first thing she asked me was who I voted for. Not. Cool. I told her I'd rather not say. Instead of seeing the red flag and changing the subject, she proceeds to tell me that she likes Hillary, but doesn't like Obama because, you know, he's black. Yes...she really did say that. No, I didn't stand up then and there and demand another non-racist manicurist, but I should have because she was just getting started. She ignored the fact that by now I literally had my head turned 180 degrees the other direction and was no longer responding as she spewed on about the fact that only blacks like blacks and that if he is elected, being black and all, the economy would end up in bad shape. Hello!!! Has she noticed our less than booming economy? Has she ever heard of something called the Civil Rights Movement? I finally had to tell her that whatever my opinion of Barack Obama is, that opinion is most definitely NOT based on race, but on the issues that matter to me. Finally, I turned it around to see who she voted for which is when she told me she can't vote because she isn't a citizen. So, I guess since she can't rock the vote, she is waging a grassroots campaign of hate via people who just wanted a stolen hour of cheap pampering. Just to make sure the experience ended on a bad note, when she gave me my change, she made sure to comment on the tip I left that was to be shared among the girls who had helped me. I slapped down two more dollars to make it even and told her she was lucky to get anything. I also made sure to let one of the ladies who runs the shop know about that conversation and said she should really let that awful manicurist know to keep her opinions to herself. The whole incident really shook me as I am rarely exposed to that kind of hateful attitude.

Honestly, had she brought up the subject of candidates and told me she was backing someone I don't like because of how she feels about certain issues, I would have felt it was not the appropriate forum, but not been offended. Difference of opinion is what our system is all about. However, it was just so irritating to listen to a woman who has come to this diverse country to have a better life go off about an entire race of people, as if she is somehow superior. Clearly, Barack Obama has been significantly more successful than either of us, and has my respect for what he is achieving in his life. Whether I vote for him or not, I recognize that he has a lot of great qualities in a human being. That lady who did my nails could learn a lot from that black man.