Monday, August 20, 2012

Besides the kids..what’s new?

Pets! We now have three. This is a solely Marlo-led endeavor, with kid backup. Back in November 2009, my beloved Conan disappeared shortly after my discovery of the Nocturnal Racoon Bandit. I have missed him terribly since, my sweet, fierce Sir Snugs-a-Lot that terrorized countless family members and guests, yet never so much as scratched a child. That next January, our affectionate Voodoo, who endeared herself even to non-catlovers, passed away at home, while we played a boardgame a few feet away. The loss of these elderly cats was deep and painful. For years, Fillip and I had said that once the cats were gone, we would get a dog. Fillip  took some convincing, but given how often Fillip works at night, I wanted the comfort of knowing a canine companion was watching over us while he was out.

Last January the boys and I headed over to the animal shelter to get them their very first dog. We chose to meet two dogs in the designated area. One was a Boston terrier type, super cute and friendly. The other one was Doris. The kids' overwhelming choice was Doris, and so begins the saga of my Least Favorite Pet Ever That Has Grown On Me Over Time. For the record, I want to make it clear that although I take full responsibility for bringing her home, I take NO responsibility for her name. I blame Fillip for that.

Doris had a tough transition into our household. Although Fillip fell in love the very first evening she convalesced from her spay surgery in his lap, within a few days she was overly rambunctious, digging holes, chewing anything she could and just driving me crazy. She would playfully nip the boys running around, and not so playfully nip our guests. She immediately took ownership of our property and family. Within a couple days she had hopped the back fence, yet stayed in the front yard eagerly awaiting our return, while defending the property from previously friendly neighbors out walking their own dogs. She is quite trainable when we spend the time.The official story from the shelter was that her owners surrendered her because they moved. Clearly, there is more to it than that. She is very sensitive to loud noises, and wouldn't even go out in the yard if the bug zapper was on. She would just cower. Someone hurt her, which is so sad.  Initially, her only saving grace was her gentleness with baby Sutton. He crawled over to take a toy she was playing with, making me very anxious. She simply let him have it, then gently grabbed the other end with her teeth, slowly pulling it back and forth in a nurturing version of Tug-O-War. The kids can take her food while she is eating, climb on her and play rough with her, without the slightest sign of aggression. Despite all the aggravation she had caused, I decided she could stay.

Now she is easy to have around, with few problems. Sometimes she barks too much or gets in the trash, but overall has melded into the family. We enjoy most of her antics, my favorite being her frequent groaning. I swear, she lies down on her bed like an 80 year old man, rather than a spry three year old dog. She loves going for walks, and especially loves going for a run when I skate with the Sutton in the stroller, and the older boys on bikes. Sometimes she plays with a dog down the street. They sound loud and aggressive, but have a great time! The boys love her and I enjoy snuggling up on the couch with her. When they are all grown up, this is the childhood dog they will remember, I hope fondly.

Although we had always said this would be the Decade of a Dog, it turns out I am really a cat person. I’ve missed those cats terribly, and find myself mesmerized by the friendly neighborhood cats. As I mentioned here, I decided it was time to add a feline to the family. This sweet cat that showed up didn’t work out for us. He is being fostered down the street and often comes to visit. I still find myself completely drawn to him, but just can’t handle his bad habits in our house. In February, we adopted a new cat from the animal shelter. There were two 6-month old kittens who had been found together. One looked like a snowshoe and the other a caramel black and grey tabby with white socks. The snowshoe seemed a bit reserved, so we adopted the tabby. Although he seemed like an average sized kitten at the time, he quickly bloomed into a gorgeous, fluffy beast of a cat. At about a year old, we suspect he has some Maine Coon in him, and know that he is one cool cat. We named him Perry, because when we got him he would make a funny sound like the character on Phineas and Ferb. Also, like those characters, we often find ourselves going “Where’s Perry?” Perry the Catypus is a very independent soul who will contentedly tolerate some cuddling, but isn’t a lap cat. Howevre, he does love to snuggle up with Hayden up on the top bunk bed. He spends a great deal of time outdoors, showing up in the late evening for bedtime. Our bedtime..not his. While we try to sleep, he plays energetically all night. Doris sleeps in our bedroom with the door closed because the sound of the two of them frolicking all night was just too much. Perry loves to stalk Doris in the backyard and spring out at us when we walk across the front yard. He’s very spunky and sweet.

Given the lengths I went to in convincing Fillip to get Doris and Perry, it was kind of understood that our pet populace was full up. Then, a friend of mine posted adorable pics of a tiny kitten she had found that needed a home. He was eating from a bottle and had leftover milk on those little chin cute! When Fillip came home that afternoon, I greeted him with “I’m off to get Sutton, and a friend is dropping of a kitten in 15 minutes. Bye!” In protest Fillip was quite sullen during the dropoff. However, he immediately took to this sweet, tiny grey and black tabby. For all his blustery, gruffness, Fillip can’t resist a baby anything. He said “Give him to me..I get to bond with this one!” So, we now have our adorable, Silly Billy. Hayden has nicknamed him Bilbo, like the hobbit. He is super energetic, and oh so sweet. He still has a strong need to nurse, and will kneed and suckle his stuffed raccoon for an hour or more every night. If he gets too wound up, we just give him his raccoon to calm him. Sometimes, I catch him doing the same to a very content Doris. He loves to snuggle and is very gentle.He will play with anything he can find, much to the delight of the boys. He also likes to sleep with the kids when they go to bed. When I go for one last tucking in before I hit the sack, I often find Baby Sutton and Baby Billy snoozing away together. Logan usually builds a little nest of pillows and stuffed animals on his bed, including Billy's raccoon. I think the sound of Billy's purring and sucking lulls my non-stop Logan to sleep.

All three pets romp and play together, much to our amusement. Doris seems very happy to have playmates and the cats don’t seem to care that she is a 60 lb dog. She is more gentle with tiny Billy than Perry is, but Billy holds his own. They are all very tolerant of well meaning, if not so careful children. The kids are pretty good about caring for all of them, from feeding and watering to cleaning up after them. We certainly didn’t need any more beings in our house, yet I am so glad our animal family is there as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sutton at 2 Years Old

Sutton is by far our two-est one. Someone handed him the Being Two Years Old Manual, and he decided to write the updated version. He is into everything! Each time he steals something (which is constantly) and we ask for it back, he runs away. When we get close enough to grab it, he throws it out of reach. Not a big deal when he has a hair tie. Not a good idea with the tv remote or my camera or a glass or…..

He moved to his big boy bed a couple months ago when he started climbing out of his crib. He hasn’t stopped climbing out since then! Rarely do we get a full night’s sleep. Around 2 or 3am each morning, he crawls into bed with us. It’s super sweet…until the kicking begins. Yet, I love to wake to that sweet little face next to me on the pillow. After weeks of this, I am a walking zombie. It’s not uncommon for me to wake squished between Sutton and Logan. So, I’ve had to become the mean mommy once again. When Sutton comes in while it is still dark, I tell him to go back to his room and get in his bed. Once he has, I will go tuck him in. He will usually stay until dawn, which is a huge improvement! After daylight breaks, I will usually let him snuggle up until my alarm goes off a few minutes later. This morning however, he returned triumphantly, heralding in the day with the announcement “I went pee pee!” Yes, this is good news, BUT it meant instead of the usual warm snuggle and hitting the snooze button, I had to get right up to get the bare bottomed Button a new diaper, wash his hands and get him his earned treat. Yeah, potty training is great, blah blah blah. Although he is potty training, it is far from consistent. The desire for treats and praise is there, but he doesn’t yet recognize that it isn’t an On Demand feature of his body. He will sit there getting frustrated, banging on his privates yelling “PEE PEE!” Kinda cute and sad all at once.

Getting warmed up by Daddy.

First night in his Big Boy Bed!
One of his absolute favorite things to do at home is dance. Well, demand to dance. He knows which button on the keyboard launches the music program. This is first thing he wants to do every day. He will come over to us with an excited grin, say "Dace!" and give a little dancing bounce. Too cute! He also sings along to the songs most often heard on our playlist. Sure, Sexy Back isn't the most appropriate song for a 2 year old to sing, but it sure is cute when he throws his hands in the air and yells "Yeah!" on cue. He now sings songs on his own, which is unbelievably cute. He mostly sings Row Your Boat and Bear is Now Asleep, complete with hand motions. This last one is from his Spring Program. In December, I called him the Unhappiest Elf Ever, as he stood on stage looking sadly stoic. In May, he had such a great time, he wanted to do it again!

Enjoying cocoa on his 2nd birthday.
His language has exploded and he says new words every day. It’s amazing what he comes up with that we didn’t realize he knew. He gives the sweetest hugs and kisses and greets me with the most amazing amount of enthusiasm when I get home every evening. He seems to enjoy being at preschool, but lately has been sad being dropped off. He cries often, but when I peek in 2 minutes later he is happily playing. Trying to get him used to me sending off happily without the long drawn out tour of his classroom, then tears, I now kiss and snuggle him at the door, rather than coming into the school. It seems to be improving, and today he gave me a sweet kiss, then ran off to play.

 Every night we read Go Dog Go and Goodnight Moon. He LOVES Go Dog Go, and it has become an interactive story together. The older boys pipe in as well, making it fun family time. “The dogs go to sleep. They will sleep (all together now!) ALL NIGHT!” As always, story time is one of my favorite parts of the day. When we read any book, he points to different letters and calls them by name, so I’ve decided he is a genius. He wants to do everything we are doing. Although he volunteers to help the most, I’m not sure he’s the biggest helper! He loves to help us cook, cracking eggs (quite well!) and mixing things together. He helps feed the dog and empty the lint trap in the dryer. Oh, and pillage anything he can! He’s absolutely delicious.

Little mensch all dressed up at the family reunion.

I know I'm cute.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Logan At Nearly 7 Years Old

Logan is a constant rainbow of emotions. He can brighten a rainy day with his smile and twinkly eyes, yet send storm clouds to the Sahara on a moment’s notice. Scratch that…no notice given! He vacillates between uber helpful, and mulishly stubborn. He remains so sweet and vulnerable despite his quick and volatile temper. There is no halfway with this kid. He’s an Act Before He Thinks little guy, yet so incredibly observant and astute. His bright blue eyes seem to glow…often with mischief. Logan loves to test people’s patience and certainly won’t be winning the World’s Greatest Listener Award. Yet he is unbelievably endearing to everyone who knows him.

Logan has also enjoyed summer camp, acquiring that golden tan genetically straight from Fillip. He loooooves the ladies, and has several girl friends that he enjoys playing with. Just this morning the counselor he chats about constantly told me he is her “#1 Camper!” I believe it, little charmer! On our many beach trips he has proven absolutely fearless in rock climbing and boogie boarding. I watched him get dunked under by waves repeatedly, coming to shore with a whoop and a grin!

Logan adores Sutton, although he can be a bit overwhelming. Every night he invites his little brother to join the Snuggle Club on his bed, and see if Sutton wants to sleep with him. Most nights he goes to sleep with a kitten nestled in his bed, snuggled into his nest of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. It’s still fairly common for him to climb into bed with me to snuggle during the night. I can usually predict this, when I think he is going to need more physical contact that he didn’t get during the day. He still regularly comes over requesting a hug and kiss. He is very verbal about his emotions and what he needs. It’s a great thing as it gives us much opportunity to address anything that is bothering him, while nurturing those things that make him feel so good.

He is excited to begin 2nd grade, and be back at school with his friends. Although we have had a fun Summer Break, he misses the friends has hasn’t seen these last several weeks. A few months ago Logan got severely injured at school. After showing off in a tree, the branch broke, causing him to crash face first into the asphalt. All this happened (putting on a show for his friends, swinging around, crashing and bleeding)…without an adult noticing. Later in the hospital he  told me "I told my friend Jack that I could jump out of the tree and land on my feet. And I did! Then I landed on my face." His friends ran for help. The result was a broken nose and severe concussion. Although extensive neurological sci-fi testing shows everything is ok, he still gets frequent headaches, and I still feel queasy every time I remember those horrible hours of watching him limp, gray and unable to stay conscious. Fortunately, his sparkle returned quickly, but I feel bad that he has to deal with these headaches.

Logan still loves to cook, and recently I set him loose with some halved avocados and a pantry, and he made the yummiest guacamole! I was concerned about the over use of lime juice, but that tang was right on in our chicken tacos. Far be it for me to worry about that again… or hassle myself making the guacamole! It’s accomplishments like that which he feels so great about and give us an opportunity to highlight his many positive talents.

Logan continues to be such a brilliant, joyful light in our house. That little sensitive soul has us all charmed.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Family Update - Hayden

Obviously, it’s been awhile since I posted! Since I’ve missed several birthdays and a hundred anecdotes, I will just start in the now.

Hayden at 8 years old-

Hayden is so grown up, I can’t even believe it. Physically, he is starting to get lanky with feet that won’t quit. He’s incredibly handsome with a charming smile, and a fun dry wit. He loves sports, electing to go to Sports Camp instead of the regular day camp this year. Making lanyards apparently just didn’t interest him. Fortunately, his counselor realized that on the very first day. He’s enjoyed playing soccer or baseball every day, seems to be improving his foosball skills, and is picking up some choice language from the mixed age group. At home he has been enjoying watching a ton of Olympic sports and LOVES to play Skylanders whenever he is allowed.

We are very big on everyone having responsibilities, and working as a team. Hayden could use some improvement in the Help Around the House category. Asking him to do anything is SO ANNOYING to him. We’ve tried to convince him that Eye Rolling is not an Olympic sport. However, he seems to think that if he keeps it up, maybe he can compete in the 2020 Olympic Games by bringing back Demonstration Sports. It could go on the schedule right after they bring back Pigeon Racing.

He continues to be a doting big brother to Sutton, even volunteering to take him potty. If Sutton goes in the potty, they both get treats! He really looks after his littlest brother and they have a very strong bond. His relationship with Logan is much more up and down. Much of the time they play great together. Much of the time Hayden can be quite a bully to Logan. Although, just yesterday, they went to Disneyland with camp. They each had $20 to spend. After lunch, Hayden found some personalized key chains. There was a Logan one and a Hayden one. Sweet kid bought the one for Logan, saying “I haven’t been treating him so great lately, and I thought he would like it.” Kvelling! They really do love each other, despite the frequent bickering. When Logan got hurt at school a few months ago, Hayden spent a very anxious afternoon waiting for us to get home from the hospital, just so he could see for himself how Logan was doing. Another day, Logan literally fell on his face walking out the door. Hayden was in a panic, and so upset that his brother was hurt. He doesn’t express a lot, but he loves his brothers.

Hayden remains a rather cautious and introspective kid. He keeps his emotions close to the chest, so we listen very closely when he lets them out. His time on the beach can vary from playing with Logan gleefully, to sitting quietly reading a book. He’s become more adventurous, playing in the waves and boogie boarding this summer. He is so eager to begin 3rd grade, although I suspect that will fade quickly once he needs to start getting up a bit earlier for school. School begins next week, and he is eager to see his friends every day, start learning new things and have homework again. Strangely, he hasn’t done all that much reading this summer, but that will change quickly once school begins. I’m still constantly amazed at how quickly he reads and how much he retains. Recently at a birthday party:

Logan- “Hayden, how many chapters in the 7th Harry Potter book?”

Hayden- “Thirty six and and epilogue.”

I haven’t looked it up, but I’d be willing to bet money he’s right.