Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pea in the pod, indeed

William stuck a pea up his nose last night.

He realized as soon as he put the pea in his nose that he had done Something Wrong. He bellowed, "My nose! Mommy!" and began sobbing. In fact, he got so upset that I was worried he was going to inhale the pea into his brain (okay, into his sinuses. I do have a better grasp on basic anatomy than that).

Luckily, with some coaxing and a little help from our friend Mr. Tweezers, the pea was quickly removed. Tearfully, William promised to never ever ever do it again.

David shook his head when he heard about this. "I always thought William was too smart to do somtehing like that," he mused.

Oh well. What is it about the nose that makes it so tempting for children to put things into it? Don't we all know someone who's stuck a pea or something up his nose? In fact, I could probably put together a list of perfectly normal smart people who, as small children, just happened to stuff random objects into their nostrils. I know my brother did. And my friend Phuong (sorry, for outing you on the interwebs, Phuongie).

Anyone else want to confess?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dressed up and down

William, all dressed up:

...and all dressed down...

"Mom, please. I'm a serious artist."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


William was driving me crazy this morning while I was in the bathroom, trying to brush my teeth and get ready for the day.

He was constantly saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look at this" and pulling on my arm to look at his Sleeping Beauty book/Little People figure/family tree scroll (don't ask). Then he'd sweep his arm across the counter and knock everything in his way into the bathroom sink. Lather, rinse, repeat. Argh.

At one point, I got so frustrated that I said, "If you throw Daddy's contact case in the sink one more time, I'm going to take that Sleeping Beauty book right back to the store."

(Not that they'd take it. It's a mess, with lots of slightly torn and dogeared pages. It's clearly been well-loved.)

And William stopped his act and said, "But, Mommy. Santa Claus brought me that book."

Whoops. Busted. Quickly, I regrouped and managed to sputter a lame, "Well, I'll take it back to the store where Santa Claus bought it." Gah. Way to go.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On strike

Having a child is like owning a company with unionized employees. You just never know when they're going to strike.

With babies, it was the nursing strike. With toddlers, the eating strike. With older toddlers, it's the nap strike.

We're flirting with the nap strike here. Y'all know I'm not ready for William to give up his afternoon nap yet. He needs that nap. I need that nap. But William didn't nap on Saturday and barely napped yesterday. I was scared to death that he was going to stay awake all afternoon today, too, especially when he was yelling "come open my door" less than an hour after I closed the door in the first place. Not that he ever settled down and napped during that short time.

So I marshalled my best negotiating skills, preparing to march in there and lay down the law. I walked in and realized that whew! He needed a change. Not in a grand, sweeping Barack Obama way. No, he needed a change in a clean diaper kind of way. Stat. Once that was taken care of, I told him that in no uncertain terms was he allowed to get up yet. And I covered him with his blankie and marched myself outta there.

That was about an hour ago. So far, so good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bathtub serenade

I live for moments like this:

I mean, you should have seen the grin on my face when William was serenading me. It gets me every time.

Er, that's William's imitation of Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection," just in case you weren't able to make out the lyrics...

Rite of passage

Today, I played a CD for William in the car.

I know, stop the presses, right? How about this: it was the first time I'd actually played one of his own CDs for him, per his request, in the car.

Usually, I play my own CDs or we listen to satellite radio. I have played the XM Kids channel for him, and I also played Christmas choral music for him in December. But I'd never taken one of his little kiddie CDs and played it for him. He's been happy enough with the Mom-dictated format up until now, so I hadn't seen any reason to mess with it. If ain't broke, don't fix it, etc. etc.

Also, I'd always heard people moan and groan about how all they ever get to listen to in their cars is Raffi (or Barney or whatever grating kid's music their child became slavishly devoted to). I always turned up my nose a bit and thought, "Hello, who's in charge here? You're the parent. You're driving. You get to choose what music you listen to in the car. End of story."

Of course, then I realized that my child was getting old enough to hear and understand some of the lyrics to the songs I was listening to. Good-bye, vintage Beastie Boys CD. See you later, Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. I relegated those to the "listen to only when alone" stack awhile ago, and that's when I began turning to the satellite radio children's channel (116, if you need to know).

So I guess it was only a matter of time before I toted William's CDs out to the Mazda. But happily, at least he wanted to listen to a They Might Be Giants CD. It may be kiddie music, but it's still TMBG. It's a win-win for both of us. And it's kind of amazing, now that I think about it, that it took this long.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frog and Toad are my friends, too.

Y'know, I'm sort of lukewarm on some of the characters in popular children's literature. Some of them irritate me (Max and Ruby), some of them are boring (too many to count), some of them are set well-meaning but annoyingly bad examples for your children (Curious George), and some of them....well, I just don't get them. (Yes, Madeline, I'm talking about you.)

But Frog and Toad are different. I love Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books. You know: "Frog and Toad are Friends" and "Frog and Together." Do I love them because I remember enjoying the books so much as a child? Do I love them because the stories are short, but not too short, and easy to read without being deadly dull? Do I love them because I just get a big kick out of silly old Toad and his good buddy Frog, who always goes along with his crazy schemes but reins him in when he gets too close to trouble? Yes, yes and yes.

Oh yes, and I love them because they often manage to impart a lesson without resorting to the dreadful Overly Earnest Message approach that so many contemporary kids books do. Please. Kids are not stupid. They know when they're being preached at. Give them a decent story, and if you can also fit in a good message, fine. Please do not insult my or my child's intelligence by sacrificing a good story on the altar of this-is-good-for-you-so-who-gives-a-whoop-about-fun? What child is going to want to read if that's the sort of drivel the book publishers are pushing on them?

I particularly love the story in which Frog gives Toad a hat for his birthday, but the hat turns out to be too big. But Toad doesn't want to hurt Frog's feelings so he wears it anyway, and he falls into holes and trips over tree roots. So unbeknownst to Toad, Frog sneaks into Toad's house to retrieve the hat, finds a way to shrink it, then returns it to his friend. And Toad wears his better-fitting hat with joy. Isn't that a wonderful examples of two friends looking out for each other?

By the way, we still need "Frog and Toad All Year," in case anyone runs across a copy...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Big Easy

When William willingly agreed to go potty at Target yesterday, I made sure I was effusive in my praise of him afterward. You have to encourage these things, and I wasn't going to let him think that it wasn't a Big Deal.

After I'd heaped praise upon him for awhile, I added, "See, wasn't it easy?"

"Yes," William responded. Then after a beat, he added, "But it's not easy being green."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not yet

So, when are you going to have another baby?

I cannot tell you how many times someone has made that remark or a version of it to me lately. Don't worry. I'm not offended. I take it as a compliment, in fact. I blithely chalk it up to the likelihood that you are all so dazzled by the sheer brilliance that is my first child that you are breathless for another.

Or, you know, there's always the "everyone else is doing it" explanation. And actually, that's not so far from the truth. On Saturday, three different friends announced to me that they're expecting again. And that doesn't count the four friends who had babies this past fall, or the women from church who are all due any minute now. Everyone's having a baby!

Except me. I know, that just burst your bubble, didn't it? Maybe someday. I'm still working through the feelings I experienced when I was pregnant with William.

For those of you who don't know, I spent most of the first six months of my pregnancy racing to the toilet. It was wretched. I was wretched. I was covering education for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, and I scoped out all my usual haunts for good places in which to privately throw up. (For the record, the staff bathroom just off the library at Palm Desert High School is ideal. It's a quiet, single seater, and you can lock the door. And nothing is nearby, so you don't have anyone sitting right there, listening to you upchuck whatever you so valiantly managed to choke down earlier.) I kept a just-in-case kit on the front seat of my car, since I was commuting an hour to and from work each day. And when I got home each night, I basically just slumped on the bathroom floor until it was time to get in bed and feel nauseated there. I'm not exactly eager to relive that, in any form or fashion.

And then there's the Bell's Palsy issue. I had finally managed to conquer the worst of the nausea and vomiting (which I darkly referred to as the All Day Ugliness, since it was never ever confined to the morning) and was just merely uncomfortable all the time, when half my face was suddenly paralyzed. I was 33 weeks pregnant, and not only I was swollen and unattractive due to late pregnancy, but the left side of my face was completely frozen. I could not blink my left eye. I could not raise my left eyebrow. I could not even hold the left side of my mouth shut. I could not taste salt, since even my tastebuds were affected. It was devastating to my self-esteem. I felt ugly. I felt damaged. And it continued to be devastating, since I didn't even begin to recover any movement on the left side of my face until my son was about two months old.

My former neurologist said he doubted the Bell's Palsy would return, were I to get pregnant again. But the possibility, even slim, still remains at the back of my brain. It lurks there. Surely no one can blame me for that, especially since the effects of the original paralysis never fully resolved. Look at my face, and you can tell:

My left eyelid still sags, but at least, thank God, I can blink my eye. I still cannot raise my left eyebrow at all. And when I smile, you can see that the left side of my mouth cannot smile as broadly as the right side of my mouth. I try not to dwell on it, but I still really miss my old smile. I think I used to have a really wonderful smile, and it was one of my favorite things about myself.

So, I still am coming to terms with the residual feelings that I still have about my last pregnancy. I was lucky in one regard, however: I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, full-term baby boy who had absolutely no problems. When he was born, they wiped him off and suctioned out his nose (and yes, David insisted on giving him some oxygen because he's a worrywart), and they handed him to me, and that was it. No NICU. No tubes. No surgeries. No worries.

We'd like to have a bigger family. Just give me some time to get my brain around it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gotta go back to school again

Today, William returned to school after a three-week winter break. Good grief, three weeks is a long time. I don't know who was more glad to arrive at his school this morning: me or him. We have spent a lot of time together over the past three weeks, and I think we both needed to get back to our usual routine.

Apparently that's a common sentiment. Every mom I ran into at school had a variation of the same thing to say: Yes, Christmas was great, a little hectic, but fun, and oh man, I sure am glad the kids are going back to school at last. I guess we were all ready for a little downtime after several weeks of lots and lots of quality time. Quality time spent inside. I don't think I need to spell out what that means.

But lest I sound cold and unfeeling, I will say I'm sympathetic to the plight of the cooped-up toddler. It's got to be hard to be energetic and active and have to stay inside a small house because it's cold, rainy and altogether miserable outside, let alone have to do so for most of three weeks. Let alone be quiet and relatively calm while doing so. Especially when Christmas cookies are also involved.

Despite the fun of the holidays, it was a looooong break. Finally, finally on Saturday, there was a break in the weather. I took William to Cheekwood, since we have a new membership, courtesy of my parents. We worked on an art project together in the learning center, and then I just let him run as fast as he could up and down the various trails. He joined an impromptu soccer game, and I just let him work out some of that pent-up energy until he actually volunteered that he was tired.

Here's the little prince, mugging for the camera in between his sprinting and his soccer game:

Admit it: you can see the energy radiating off him, can't you?

We went back to Cheekwood again yesterday, even though it was raining. We pulled up the hoods to our raincoats and walked around. It wasn't as invigorating as Saturday's trip, since William couldn't really run around. But at least we weren't inside. I just couldn't deal with staying inside the house again.

I also admit to feeling a little bit bad for William's teachers when I dropped him off in his classroom today. Can you imagine having a dozen small kids with cabin-fever dropped off on your doorstep? Whew. They were still alive when I arrived to pick him up, but I'm thinking they might have earned combat pay today...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Speech, speech

One thing that's been a lot of fun about William as he's gotten older is his language development. He started talking pretty early and acquired words at a very rapid rate, then began speaking in sentences before I could even write down all his new words. He said the word "balcony" yesterday, and I wondered, "Where did he learn that?" And then I remembered the times when I would run to make a note of his new words.

Now he's at the age where he has started telling long, rambling, imaginative stories. The other morning, he sat in his bed and told himself a story. I know this because I was eavesdropping via the baby monitor. I couldn't make out every single word, but clearly he was caught up in his own story. When David finally went in to liberate him from the crib, he told him all about how the SuperReaders (from the PBS show "SuperWhy") and the "castle people" (the people from his Fisher-Price castle) showed up at the front door. We often hear stories now about the castle people. In fact, I need to sit down next to him with a pen and write them down when he starts to spin these stories and preserve them for his amusement (and mine) years from now.

Of course, the language and cognitive development has its downside, too. Yesterday morning, I was changing him and getting him dressed, and he stuck his face up and chirped, "You're stupid, Mommy!" Great. He knows the toddler S word. David has apologized, saying William might have learned it from him (you know, of course, that David's general approach toward life is "if something is stupid, I tend to say so.") We're taking a zero tolerance approach to name-calling, though. I immediately told William "time out" and marched out of the room, shutting the door. He burst into tears and sobbed until I came back in. Then he fell on me, saying, "I won't say that word anymore, Mommy, I'm sorry." He knew he was saying something naughty. And now he knows we don't like it and won't put up with it. I think you have to take a hard line with this sort of thing--biting and hitting, too. You don't want them to ever think it's acceptable to hit someone or hurt them by calling them a mean name. "Stupid" isn't really that bad, but it is mean to call someone that, and William needs to understand that. It's also the first step towards names that are much worse.

Of course, he does still say many wonderful things, too. I was sick off and on during Christmas and New Year's, and many times, he sweetly inquired, "Mommy, are you still feeling sick?" And when I said that I was still feeling bad, he would pat my arm or hug me and respond, "I'll take care of you." All together now: Awwwwwww.