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.