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.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes, I Did Get a Flu Shot

Today is the first day in several that I don't feel as awful. I don't feel great, but was able to get up, get dressed and get on with my normal day. This past Wednesday brought me what I have long been denying was The Flu. I can't remember being nearly that sick in over 10 years, and made sure anyone within earshot knew about it. I must have looked rather gruesome before leaving as my co-worker walked in and said "You look awful!" I didn't even have a voice to agree with that sentiment. Being that I generally maintain the opinion that I rarely get really sick, I was in denial for awhile. However, by Wednesday night the pain radiating from every part of my skin was excruciating. It felt like my scalp was too tight for my skull, and I was barely moving as even the softest footsteps sent seismic shockwaves up my legs and torso, making me feel as if my back were going to snap at any moment. Add a persistent cough, blinding headache, chills, sweats and fever, and I finally had to admit that I was sick. Really sick. I had never competely recovered from that nasty cold a couple weeks ago, so my ears are still plugged, further isolating me in a weird stuffy chamber within my own head. It is pretty rare for me to lie around while the kids just run around, but that was a significant part of each weekend morning, as it takes awhile for the Alleve to kick in. The prescribed cough syrup with codeine is great all night, well a dose every 4 hours, but makes me to loopy to take during the day. Several nights in a row I was in bed for the night, probably before the kids had actually fallen asleep in their own beds. Both Saturday and Sunday morning the kids were so sweet as I lay prone on the couch hoping the world would go silent for just a little while. Without being asked, they brought me a pillow and covered me in blankies. Logan brought my iced caramel macchiato to my face to drink (after all, I was sick not dying; some things are essential and my kids seem to know this!), as Hayden sat on the couch with me softly stroking my face. Poor Fillip was left to do basically everything for the last 5 days, although I did get up to help now and then- including making some uncommonly good hamburgers Saturday night.

You know, as awful as I felt, maybe it was worth the pure sweetness it brought out in those little guys. Nah, it was a nice feeling to have them so attentive, but with it also raining outside, they were like little whirling dervishes who could have really used some more directed activity!!

I expect I will spend the next few days recovering my energy, but even at about 75%, today is such a relief! Without any meds, I am only mildly uncomfortable. Let's just hope nobody else in my house gets it. Too bad I can't the $40 back from that stupid flu shot.