Monday, September 29, 2008

The seventh inning stretch

William learned the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" months ago because David and I sang the song to him while we gave him his twice-daily asthma treatments. We don't always sing the song to him now, though, because he likes to sing along instead of breathing in the medicine. Oh well.

Here's a command performance:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An incentive

I'm about to impart a major piece of wisdom to those of you who have children who are younger than my son. Or maybe even to parents of children with kids around William's age.

When you have a tantrum-prone child and you have to take said tantrum-prone child to Target or the grocery store or wherever, find something inexpensive that he or she really likes and promise it to them if they behave nicely in the store.

Did I just hear one of you whisper the word "bribe"? Yes, I think I did. 'Fess up. That's what you were thinking, weren't you? Au contraire, my friends. I just prefer to think of it as an "incentive."

For me, the "incentive" is a piece of string cheese. See, that's not so bad. It's not like I'm tempting my child with a Snickers bar or something. When we go to Target, William gets a piece of string cheese. We go to the food section, stroll on up to the cheese display, and I ask him which kind he wants. He always wants the same kind, so I hand it over and he carries it with him until we reach the check-out counter.

It, er, took a few times to convince him that he was just supposed to hold it and not gnaw through the plastic wrap. But he knows now. Today, he even told the lady in front of us in line that he was holding it but couldn't eat it until Mommy paid for it. I didn't actually hear him say this because I had stepped over to the adjacent aisle to grab a Diet Coke. (He was holding my place in line in his stroller.) When I returned, the lady grinned and told me that that's what he had told her. He gets it.

So all I'm saying is...sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And if it's healthy, low-fat, calcium-filled string cheese that allows you to do it, that's pretty good, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurray for naps!

Attention, attention. Achtung.

William is napping. That's right, you heard me right. He's napping. That's NAPPING for those of you sitting in the back row.

We've been experiencing sort of a nap strike of late. It's mostly a school-related nap strike. William loves school so much that he just doesn't want to shut his eyes and, you know, sleep during naptime at school. I guess he's afraid he might miss something exciting.

So today, weary of all the no-nap days when he's been wired and overwrought by bedtime, I decided to be proactive. I figured, what the heck. Why not try this? So I told William all the way home that he'd need to take a nap at home. Just a short nap, I told him, but a nap. I sweetened the deal by giving him a package of fruit treats in the car and read two of his favorite books to him when we arrived at home.
Plunked him down in his crib, and he didn't resist at all. He didn't even do his usual OCD thing of straightening all his stuffed animals and sippy cups. He just willingly snuggled up and let me drape a blanket over him.

That was over an hour ago, and as far as I can tell, he's still asleep. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah. I am so relieved. At his age (and activity level), any nap is better than no nap.

From earlier this week:

William looking at pictures of himself:

The picture he's looking at:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

William was funny on Monday

I recently decided to get back into at least a semi-regular exercise routine. So I dutifully dug out my shorts and my running shoes yesterday afternoon and prepared to go to the YMCA for a little treadmill time.

As I was standing in the kitchen, filling a water bottle to take with me, my son scampered into the room. He saw me and stopped short.

"Mama, are those your exercise clothes?" he asked before adding gleefully, "You look FUNNY!"

Har, har, kiddo. You wait until you're 34, and we'll see how good YOU look then!

* * * *

William has been telling anyone who asks that he wants to be a pirate for Halloween. No matter what else we suggest--a cowboy, a dinosaur, a fireman--he has stuck to his guns. But he's so funny about answering the question. No matter how many times you ask him what he wants to be for Halloween he always thoughtfully cocks his head to one side and says, "How 'bout a pirate?"

So last night at the dinner table, I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween again. And amazingly, he didn't say "How 'bout a pirate?" He said (or I thought he said), "How 'bout A SOCK!"

"What?" I asked again.

"A SOCK!" he replied.

"A....sock?" I said, trying to picture a sock costume. I was having a hard time seeing the appeal of dressing up as a sock for Halloween. I guess it would be a pretty easy costume to make though, so there is that. Unless William wanted to be a toe sock; that could be problematic. I guess you could get a little jester's hat or something to symbolize the toes. But how would he hold his little trick-or-treat pumpkin?

"No, Mommy, a SOCK!" William shouted, growing a little impatient with me.

Luckily, David was there to translate. (That's usually my job, but all I could think of was telling people that my son wanted to be a sock for Halloween. "Tell them what you are, William." "I'm A SOCK!")

"A shark?" David gently asked.

"YES!" William shouted again, this time in relief that someone understood him.

So, no sock costumes for our toddler. But it didn't matter. Three minutes later, he was back to talking about being a pirate for Halloween anyway.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop and smell the roses

I feel like so many hours of my life rush past me in a blur. To be fair, many of the hours are indistinguishable anyway--changing diapers, making oatmeal for breakfast, dropping William off at school, making dinner, running errands. But too often, I put my head down and push my way through my day, trying to carve out time here for a freelance assignment and carve out time there to make sure we have fresh milk and bread in the house.

I try to remind myself to slow down. I try to remind myself what everyone always tells me: that my son will only be little once, that I need to stop and enjoy him while I can, that this time is precious.

Sometimes it works, and I stop and look around me. I memorize the way William sucks his upper lip in when he's concentrating on something. I note the way he waves his arms as he tells me something very important about whatever his favorite toy of the day is. I remember to say a blessing before we dig into our dinner.

But it's hard, as an adult and as a parent, to live in the now like that all the time. For very small children, the only time is the now. That's all they know. It's the only way they know how to live. Soon, probably sooner than I'd like, William will begin to grasp the concept of the future. He will become impatient with waiting--waiting for Christmas, waiting to be big enough to ride a bicycle, waiting for whatever he's just not old enough to do yet. But for now, his life is just that: now.

We walked up to the neighborhood playground the other afternoon, just to get out of the house for awhile. On the way home, we walked down a street where many of the houses have flowers or flowering plants by their mailboxes or in corner gardens by their driveways. William stopped at every single place where there were flowers, dropped my hand, leaned over to the flowers and inhaled their scent. Every single one. He didn't skip a single row of slowly dying zinnias or miss a modest clump of rosebushes enjoying the late summer sun.

I knew what he was doing, and first I was stunned into silence. Then I was charmed. He was literally living out the proverb of "stop to smell the roses." It was completely instinctual and natural for him. He did this purely for the pleasure of enjoying the flowers. If there were flowers, then he wanted to appreciate them. So he did. He did not worry about getting home to start dinner. He did not worry about how long it took us to get home (and it took us ages to finally make it home). But for once, I was able to live in the now with him. My inner clock kept ticking, but I was able to ignore it for a little while and just be.

Haircuts and lollipops

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that William's hair was starting to get a little shaggy. I'm afraid he may have inherited his mama's Big Hair Tendencies. It may not look big in this particular photo, but trust me, it was starting to take on a life of its own.

It didn't make him any less charming, of course, as you can see here:

But it was starting to get really unruly. And we didn't have time to venture out for a haircut until this morning. Here is the new 'do:

He loves his new haircut because it netted him a lollipop.

My reaction was more, "man, his hair is short now!" It also smells heavily of violets. Violets? Yes, violets. The hairstylist saw fit to douse his head with a wild coating of hairspray after she cut it. I'm not sure what possessed her to spray the head of a two-year-old boy, but whatever.

Is it weird that I actually had a panicky moment when the stylist went after my son's hair with the clippers? It was similar to that moment when, if you've ever had a bad haircut, you feel a flood of panic into your throat, as the hair falls to the ground, as you begin to freak out, "oh, no, she's cut way too much off! It's never going to look good ever again! I'm going to be bald!"

I'm way too invested in my son's hair, clearly. I need to get over this. It's bad enough that I'm paranoid about my own hair. But in my defense, I have a lot of hair that can potentially be messed up so perhaps you can excuse me for being a little gunshy.

But I guess it'll be okay. His hair does grow quickly. And David has reassured me that it really does look fine. I hope so.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I just asked William if he had anything to say to you, our dear readers.

This is his answer: "Happy holidays! I want to say Happy Holidays, please."

I'm not exactly sure which holidays to which he is referring. Let me ask him.

He doesn't want to tell me. Oh well. Consider yourself wished a happy holiday of some sort, whichever sort you prefer.

The stuff that he usually says these days, however, is cracking me up on a regular basis. Yesterday on the playground, he ducked underneath the play structure and announced, "Excuse me! I'm a dinosaur!" Where does he get these things? And whenever he wants a story, he says, "Tell me a once upon a time!"

Of course, sometimes he comes out with things that just make your heart skip a beat. Like this. He just told me, "You're my best Mommy! You're my best Mommy in the whole world!"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Have fun storming the castle!

Best seven dollars I've spent in a long time--see the results here:

Yes, it's yet another Little People set. But this time, it's the castle. The castle, hurrah! I found it for a measly seven dollars, as mentioned above, at the fall consignment sale at Brentwood Methodist. And to think that I nearly skipped that sale.

You may be wondering why this is such a big deal. Well, the Little People castle has been like the Holy Grail of Little People toys for me. My own church in Hoover had one of the original LP castles back in the late '70s/early '80s--the kind that was tall and imposing and took up half the floor and had a dungeon with a working trap door and a moat and everything. It was really quite amazing. I remember how we used to all love to haul that thing out of the toy storage areas and play with it. Everything else paled in comparison, even the McDonald's toy with the working cash register.

So I'd always wanted to get one for my very, for my son's very own. But for some unknown but clearly misguided reason, the ordinarily reasonable Fisher-Price folks decided to stop making the regular old Little People castle a couple of years ago and only make it in pink. Bilious, nausea-inducing pink. With lots of purple and frills and curlicues and stuff. Blech. What was that line in "A Christmas Story" again? You know, when the dad gazes upon his son in a pink bunny suit? Oh yes. "You look like a pink nightmare." The current incarnation of the castle is definitely a pink nightmare.

Now, y'all know that I'm a girly girl. Typically, I'm All About the Pink. But my little boy is not so much a girly girl. So I'm thinking pink? For a castle? C'mon. And as enlighted as I may be, I'm still not going to buy a pinky-pink castle for my rough-and-tumble two-year-old boy. I'm still not clear on why they decided to make the castle pink in the first place. Castles are about knights, and dragons, and dungeons and kings and stuff. If there are going to be any colors, really they should be earthy, stone-y colors, maybe with some royal purple and red thrown in. There's no crying in baseball, and there's no pink in castles.

For a plastic toy, the old version got it right.

And as you can see by William's big grin, he loves it. He's been playing with it all weekend, ever since I carried it in the door on Friday afternoon. With the help of his grandmother, he's even christened the dragons "Pow" and "Wow." This is one of the very first times he's ever given any of his toys a real name. And he's been chattering to himself as he plays with it, engaging in that age-old development phenomenon of narrating his play. It's quite hilarious to listen to, but also rather charming.

Anyway, seven dollars! Woot!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

William's report card

I so love William's new school. They take pictures of all the kids and put them in an online gallery every so often, then email a link to the parents. And they write these really cute notes for their daily reports. Here's the note that his teachers send home in his little orange backpack today:

"Today, I had a great day! I am so well adjusted! I love to talk and play with all my friends. I am quite the social butterfly! Outside, I had fun trying to scare my teachers. :) "

I can totally imagine that last part. This morning, William was howling from his crib, "Mommeeeee! Come open my door! Come open my DOOR!" at the top of his lungs. When I finally got to his room and opened the door, he shouted "Boo!" at me. Of course, I clutched my chest, jumped backward and said "Oh, my, I am so scared!" You've got to play the game, you know?

Anyway, William seems to be thriving. Today, I arrived to pick him up at 2 p.m. He was still lying on his little quilted nap mat, with Natty (Back-Up Natty, actually) and his dinosaur blanket cuddled up with him. He poked his head up when he saw me approaching and slowly, sleepily began to unwind himself to sit up. Then he showed me all the frogs on his nap mat. He was willing to leave...but only after I reminded him that he would be coming back on Friday.

Oh, if only he would love school that much forever. It would make middle school so much better...

Monday, September 08, 2008

By myself

By myself.

By myself, by myself, by myself.


That's the refrain around here these days. Sometimes letting William do something by himself takes twice as long as just doing it myself, but it's a tradeoff. If I take over without being asked to help, that tends to infuriate him. Then he pitches a big old fit and refuses to cooperate. So then I have to wait to let him do it himself anyway...but only after waiting for the temper tantrum to peter out.

Having a hard time understanding? Okay, imagine this. I open the car door and invite William to climb up into his carseat by himself, even though it would be easier and far more efficient for me to just plunk him in there. But he tends to get distracted...hey, what's this thing do, is that the door lock, hey, are those fruit treat there on the floor? So I'm standing there, waiting impatiently for him to, you know, actually get in his carseat. But if I give into temptation and Make It So, oh, that's going to be such a mistake. He'll wail and scream and flail and churn those legs of his, and I wind up with a bruise or two, maybe a black eye, and he's still not in his seat. And then I have to start all over! Argh!

So I guess toddlerhood is a lesson in patience for both of us, isn't it?

And if you've ever wondered why I sometimes show up a few minutes late, out of breath and disheveled, well, now you know why.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dirty and happy

William started school today, as I heralded yesterday. So, how'd it go? Surprisingly smoothly, even for a first day. Especially for a first day.

Only two minor hitches, that's it. The first: it rained today, which is actually a wonderful, desperately wanted phenomenon (doo DOO doo doo doo...doo DOO DOO doo). But that meant I had to scramble to unearth our raincoats as I was trying to usher William out the door. I just couldn't picture me trying to balance an umbrella and carry all William's gear while steering him through a busy parking lot. The second minor inconvenience: William took a sippy of milk with him in the car and managed to partially unscrew the lid. Which meant that some of the milk ended up on his outfit before he even got to school. Well, I figured, his shorts are dark, the milk's not going to stain, we'll wash the shorts later, and in the meantime, they'll dry pretty quickly. And hello, he's a two-year-old boy going to playschool. He's going to get dirty anyway.

But after that, it was all good. William hung back only a tiny bit when we got to Westminster and saw the throng of other parents and children entering the building. But he gamely carried his own lunchbox all the way to his classroom and let me help him wash his hands. Then he briefly surveyed the classroom, zeroed in on the best, most intriguing toy, and that was it. I, his dear old Mommy, ceased to exist in his mind.

Which was fine with me. I'd rather him be happily engaged in playing rather than clinging to my leg and howling. Not that he ever really does that, but there were a couple of other toddlers sobbing a few feet away from him. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that drama. I mean, you know your kid's going to be fine, that he or she is going to stop crying as soon as you walk down the hall, but still. It's no fun. I've gotten well past the point where any drop-off crying pings my guilt meter because I know, without a doubt, that William will have a lot of fun and thoroughly enjoy himself. But I still don't enjoy it when my child is upset. So I'm glad he wasn't. I felt for the moms, however, who were trying to pry themselves away from their sweet little girls, who had tears dripping off their cheeks.

I arrived to pick him up at noon, two hours earlier than the normal dismissal time, but it was his first day. William smiled broadly at me from across the room, ran over and jumped into my arms and kissed me soundly on my cheek. "I ate all my tuhkey [turkey] samwich!" he announced proudly. "I ate all my wunch [lunch]!" He was SO proud of himself.

With the help of teacher Miss Ginny, I managed to coax him into posing for some First Day of School pictures by the classroom door.

Here's how I know that today was a success. When I picked up William, he was dirty (see his shirt in those last two pictures above?) and happy. That way, I know he had fun.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's a school night

William starts school on Friday!

He will officially be a member of the Westminster School for Young Children's Toddlers and Twos program. His class is the Jungle Room class, which as we've all endlessly remarked, is perfect for our little monkey boy.

We had orientation on Wednesday, so we got to see the classroom and meet his new teachers, Miss Aubrey and Miss Sarah. Aren't they cute?

They seem really terrific, too, so I'm looking forward to William having a great year.

And we're all ready to go. His backpack is packed and ready. His lunch is waiting in the fridge. I've washed his new, gaudy nap mat cover and written his name on all and sundry. We're good to go. I'm reasonably sure that I've forgotten something, but at this point, I think we'll be mostly okay.

And I'm much less sniffly this year, sending my son off to school, than I was last year. I'm still going to take pictures, though.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A new study

I was delighted to see this article pop up on the Washington Post's website tonight:

Study Finds No Autism Link in Vaccine

This is one of my soapbox issues. I try to be very tolerant of different parenting techniques. Just because I don't cosleep with my son doesn't mean I am going to criticize you for cosleeping with yours. We let our son have a pacifier, but if you are vehemently anti-binky, that's fine, too. Breastfeeding is great, and I did it, but it doesn't always work out for every woman. Slings, strollers, however you want to carry your baby around or not carry your baby around is terrific. Whatever works for you and is good for your child is A-OK with me, not that you need my approval.

But on this matter, I am not so open-minded. I can't apologize for it, though. Vaccinate your children. Please. For so long, I've heard about and from people who choose to forego immunization about some unfounded fear that it might "cause autism" in their child. Based on one tiny and largely discredited study in Britain that was conducted years ago and based on lots of hearsay, people were shying away from vaccinating their kids.

It's not just about our individual children. It's about herd immunity for those children who really cannot, for medical reasons, be vaccinated. That child who had to have an organ transplant or a bone marrow transplant, the one whose immune system is too fragile to handle the vaccines--it's about her. It's about making sure there's herd immunity to account for children whose parents reject medical treatments due to their religious beliefs. It's about providing herd immunity to adults whose immune systems may be wiped out by chemotherapy for cancer. It's about providing immunity so that people who for some reason are not immune to certain childhood diseases will not be exposed and put at risk. Like me and my son. My doctors discovered that I was not immune to rubella when I was pregnant with William. Exposure to rubella--a child with rubella--during pregnancy could have been devastating to my unborn son. The thought of losing my son because of someone else's decision makes me shake with anger even now. After he was born, I immediately got a booster immunization. I would not take a chance.

And yes, it is also about your children. Have you ever seen a bad case of measles? One of David's instructors in residency told me that he'd seen them in third world countries and hoped never to see any in this country. It's so easy to prevent by giving the appropriate MMR doses, he told me, but people here have forgotten how really horrible some of those diseases can be.

Just so you know, I used to worry about my son developing autism. So many of us middle-class-parents do. But you know what? It never was an option to forego vaccinating him just on the off chance that he might be autistic one day. It wouldn't have been fair to him or anyone else to take such a gamble on his health. And I just hope that more parents begin to understand that. That's why I'm excited about the news of this study. I don't want parents to be afraid to vaccinate their children. And yes, I get a little emotional about it. And my biggest reason is asleep in his dinosaur jammies right now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Beach pictures

I wanted to post beach pictures before the scent of the salt and sea faded any more....

Me and William posing on the beach. I love this photo. You can't see much of me in my bathing suit AND we're at the beach AND we're both smiling!

Shoeless William ascends the steps.

Cute beach shot:

Cute beach shot with David:

Here I am helping William "build a sand castle." Sand castles rarely actually made it to the actual castle stage. We'd get one bucket of sand all molded together, and William would gleefully begin to smash it to sandy bits with his shovel (or occasionally, his bottom).

Yep. That's as much castle as there ever was, right there:


William got the giggles.

William loved to find the remnants of other people's hard work so he could enjoy them, too:

The following series was taken on one of the nights that we took William down the beach to the "ice cream cone store."

Ah, my sweet boys.

I really love this shot. It's just so William. The lighting was so beautiful, too. I wish it was a little bit more centered, but it's still pretty good. It makes me smile, and that's the important thing.

Sigh. Don't you kinda wish you'd been with us, too? It all looks so wonderful and romantic in that idealized-memory-of-vacations-past way when you're not presently covered in sand and sticky sunscreen, doesn't it? Ah well. It was pretty wonderful most of the time, regardless of the sand finding its way into every remote corner of our clothing.