Saturday, January 29, 2011

Money changes everything

We are experimenting with giving William an allowance.

A couple of weeks ago, I gave William the penny that was left over when I paid $1.10 for the $1.09 large Diet Coke at McDonald's. I've been doing this for months now. Sometimes he squirrels the penny away in his pocket, sometimes he drops it somewhere in the minivan where it rolls around for awhile, and other times...well, I don't know where the pennies go. But at any rate, the other day, he said that he wanted to get dollars.

I thought about that for a minute. The parenting experts are always saying how great it is to give kids an allowance and teach them the value of money. I tried to remember how old the kids needed to be, ideally, but finally concluded that William was probably old enough to get a basic introduction.

"Okay," I told him. "I'll tell you what. You can earn dollars. How about that?"

And I thought fast. What could a four-year-old do to earn money? I mean, realistically speaking?

"If you make your bed every morning after you get up, and then you pick up all your toys in the family room every night before you take your bath, and you do all that for a week, you can earn a whole dollar," I concluded.

William enthusiastically agreed. He already knows how to make his bed, and he certainly knows how to pick up toys, even if he doesn't enjoy doing it.

So a day or so later, I made a very basic chart on a piece of construction paper, with three columns: one for the day, one for bed, one for toys. He is supposed to make a checkmark in the appropriate columns for each day. Of course, what I didn't stop to think about was the fact that, oh yeah, William can't read the days of the week yet. But luckily for me, he's motivated enough to either ask or to figure it out based on the first letter of the word.

(Side note: I think he'll be reading the days of the week before long anyway. He claims he can't read, but then I've caught him reading random words that I didn't even know he knew. Today at the zoo, he read the word "exit" on a sign that was located nowhere near an exit. And he read the word "recycle" posted above a recyle bin. Of course, last week, he also read the word "beer" on a Budweiser truck parked in a gas station parking lot that we passed on the way to school. I was torn between being proud and being a little bemused. I went with proud. You don't have to actually drink beer to be able to spell "beer," right? And NO, it's not like he's seeing David and me drink lots of beer at home. David and I almost never drink beer. Certainly never cheap domestic beer out of a can. Shudder. Um, I can explain the bottles of Sam Adams in the fridge, though...)

So tonight, he checked off the blank for the "toys" category for Saturday. He's made (legitimate) checkmarks in all of the "bed" blanks since Tuesday, and he's got checkmarks in most of the "toys" blanks, too. He's been really good about making his bed without being asked, but getting him to clean up his toys at night has taken a little more effort (read: maybe just a tiny little bit of yelling and threatening).

Still, overall, I'm really proud of him. I think I'm going to go ahead and give him his first dollar tomorrow--after he makes his bed, of course. I know that he missed a couple of the "toys" blanks earlier in the week, but it was his first week. I think he's getting on board, and I think that getting his first dollar will really motivate him to keep doing it.

I plan to let him just enjoy his first dollar or two. Then we'll start talking about saving part of his allowance each week. "They" (you know: the Parenting Experts) recommend that children be taught to save part of any money they receive. And I think that's a good idea. But in order to do that this time around, I'd have to dig up four quarters, and honey child, that just ain't happenin' tonight. I'm just feeling good that I actually have a real dollar bill that I can give to William tomorrow.

Maybe by the time Andrew's old enough for chores, I'll have gotten this whole enterprise all figured out. Luckily, that's aways off. Right now, I'm just trying to keep money away from Andrew so he doesn't eat it. And wow, I can't believe that William's getting an allowance. How crazy is that? It's like he's almost five or something...oh, wait...

(By the way, a special award to anyone who remembers which song I stole this blog post title from! You can have...the penny left over from my next fountain Diet Coke. William won't need it anymore.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Almost a snow day...but not quite

Here's how you know we've had a metric ton of snow this year...

Okay, let me ratchet down the hyperbole a bit. Here's how you know that Nashville has had an unusually high number of snow days this winter: I've stopped taking pictures every time there's any measurable snowfall.

We had a snow day last Friday. We almost had a snow day today (there's snow on the ground, but God heard my prayers and made sure the roads were clear and the preschool was open). We've had numerous other snow days recently, which I've mostly chronicled or mentioned here.

And yet this is the only picture I've taken in the last week or two:

I couldn't even work up the energy to dress William up and have him run out into the backyard for a few quick photos. He quite reasonably said that he preferred to stay inside where it was warm and where he wouldn't get wet.

I posted the following on my Facebook status last week: Here's how I know that Nashville is tired of snow. No one is even out playing in it, and yet it's a beautiful blue-skied (if extremely cold) day.

And sure enough, everyone in this little corner of the world pretty much stayed inside. We ventured out that afternoon to go to the YMCA so I could burn off some of my winter fat.

Last night, when the forecasts were all calling for as many as five inches of snow, everyone was posting woe-is-me updates on Facebook. My friends and fellow parents were hoping desperately for the schools to be open. Others were praying for the bad weather to just pass us by altogether. Well, we got the crummy weather, but at least my son's school was open today.

Listen to me, saying that snow is "crummy weather"! I never thought I'd do that. And I guess I don't really think it's that bad. As I told William today, I actually love the way a snow-covered world looks. I was delighting over the fine ridges of snow that cling to the tree branches this morning at the breakfast table. I love the way the snow is heaped on top of the sticker bushes out front.

I guess I'm just tired of the disrupted routine. We all seem to function better with a routine. Just like babies and children function better with clear boundaries and early bedtimes. One or two snow days are fun. Three is still okay. But you start getting more than that, and it just gets old.

So I'm just glad that today we got the pretty snow AND we got to stick to the routine (more or less).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Days? How About Snow Week?

We are on our third major snowfall of the season. We're almost blase about snow now. "Oh, look, it's snowing again," one of us might say, casually. Or might not because it's so unremarkable by now.

But this one was actually a significant event by Tennessee standards (meaning that we got significant accumulation...for Tennessee). We only got three or four inches at our house, I think, but some parts of the state got as much as a foot of snow. That's Serious Snow in the Volunteer State, kids.

Like every other school in Middle Tennessee, William's preschool was out on Monday and Tuesday. We just had a long Christmas vacation, and we spent a lot of time together inside. Then we got snow and spent...more time together inside. William likes to play in the snow the first day, but even then, he's not keen on staying out there for very long. And I can understand. It's cold out there. We don't really have the most appropriate clothing for snowy weather. And you get wet playing in the snow if you're out there for a long time in makeshift snow gear. It's all fun and games until you're cold and wet.

So we stayed inside for the most part. Thus the email from preschool saying that it would be open on Wednesday came as a welcome relief. We joyfully piled into the minivan, and I dropped him off at school. Woot! It did not come a moment too soon. Even if no one else had it, I know that I had cabin fever. It was nice to both 1) get out of the house and 2) get a short break from all the constant indoor togetherness.

Knowing that I might only get one good opportunity to get some William-in-Snow photos, though, I even got out in the snowy front yard in my pajamas, coat, and boots to snap a few quick pictures for your viewing pleasure on Monday.

Here are David and William, preparing to take a toboggan ride:

And here's William with his very first snowman!

Yeah, that's about the size of the snowmen that we build here in Tennessee, or in the South in general. I built a similarly-sized snowman in Birmingham, actually, in 1987 when we got about the same amount of snow.

Side note: We do have some neighbors here who were very ambitious and rolled up a large amount of the snow in their yards to build four-foot-tall snowmen, though. They're pretty impressive...or were, until some teenaged vandals (I'm guessing) took a late-night spin through the neighborhood and knocked down snowmen. The homeowners' association email list-serve is all aflutter over this.

So we enjoyed the snow, we enjoyed the snow days, and now I'm glad that we're back to our usual routine.

But I'll tell you. I'm really feeling for the parents with kids in the public schools; they're STILL out. Oy. I'm dreading next year when we have inclement weather and William's out of school for days on end. I read the school system's explanation of why they opt to cancel school on certain days, but I still think they're overreaching. I mean, yes, I understand that safety is of paramount concern, and certain roads are icy, and all that. I get it. But the school district only builds five snow days into its calendar per year, and they've already exceeded it by two days. Actually, perhaps that is what I should take issue with: the district not putting enough snow days on the calendar. I'm feeling an email coming on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All About Andrew, Aging

I feel like I don't record nearly enough of the little things that happen in Andrew's life for my own enjoyment later on. Most of my posts on this blog that first year of William's life were those sort of posts, and it's fun now to go back and reread them. A lot of those events are kind of a blur in my mind now, so it's nice to have a history all written out for me by a reliable source. (Heh.)

So this post is all about Andrew, who is growing up fast.

Case in point(s):

1. He has a tooth. His first tooth began poking up from his gum just after Christmas. Now it's there and making itself known. In related news, I don't know how I am going to make it to the one-year mark for breastfeeding. Draw your own conclusions there.

2. David lowered his crib mattress yesterday. The next time he has a new sleeping situation, it'll be a Big Boy Bed. Eep.

3. He's all about the Big People Food. Last week, I scrolled back through this blog to read what I was feeding William at about the same age. William was eating toast and crackers and diced fruit and chicken sticks and cheese and Cheerios, and all sorts of stuff. I felt terribly guilty that I've been holding out on Andrew. Was I unintentionally babying him because he is the baby? I don't know. Immediately I went to the pantry for supplies. I dumped part of a can of fruit cocktail on his highchair tray, and he went to town. He liked the Cheerios too. And the chicken sticks were a big hit.

4. He knows about the stairs. I just walked downstairs with an overflowing laundry basket. William was on the stairs singing down to his brother, who was on his hands and knees at the foot of the staircase. Except that his hands were not on the floor. They were on the stair, and he was rocking forward.

Oh my goodness, he's doing it again! Excuse me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Lego Infestation

Have you ever had ants in your house?

When we lived in California, there were always a few times each year that we'd get a steady stream of ants from our patio into our kitchen. Some people claimed that the ants were coming in to seek water. Which, given the desert that we lived in, made sense, if it was true. But whatever the reason that we were inunudated, we had to deal with the problem. That usually required some spraying, some ant traps and some vigilance. Usually that took care of most of them, but we always seemed to miss a few stragglers. So annoying.

Well. We may not have the same trouble with ants here in Tennessee, but we do have another minor scourge that we can't seem to keep fully contained. That's right. I'm talking about Legoes. (Legos? Lego bricks? Whatever.)

I'm here to tell you that it is nearly impossible to contain a Lego outbreak. It is insidious.

Yesterday, I had to wrestle Andrew to get a Lego minifigure helmet out of his hand. He objected. Loudly. Last week, I had to fish a tiny Star Wars Lego lightsaber out of his mouth. And this is all after David and William did a full sweep through the house and picked up Legoes from the floor of every room in the house. (Seriously. They were in every room in the house, save for Andrew's room. And I wouldn't swear in court that it's entirely Lego-free either.) They piled Lego bricks in bags and bins and boxes. They put Lego creations on the tops of shelves and tables. They tried to keep all the new Christmas-stocking Lego toys contained to either William's room or the playroom.

But every time I started to think, "Okay. We've finally got all the Lego stuff put away out of Andrew's reach," then I'd stumble across a tiny little piece embedded in the carpet somewhere. Or tucked away in a basket of toys on the floor. Or hiding beneath the plastic dishes in the toy kitchen in the family room. Or hanging out behind a chair that Andrew can easily crawl under.

It is nearly impossible to eradicate Legoes from one's house, once you are,,, inundated with them. The best I can do is to just keep my eyes open for them and try to get to them before Andrew does.

Also, I am thinking about getting out my DustBuster and vacuuming up any stragglers. No prisoners. Survival of the fittest, that's how I see this.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ringing in the new year

Happy 2011!

That is crazy, isn't it, that it's 2011 now. I remember being a kid and thinking that the Prince song "1999" seemed impossibly futuristic. And now, to Adult Me, 1999 seems like just a hazy memory. Which it is, more or less. Let's see, what was happening in 1999? Bill Clinton was president. I lived in Memphis. David and I started dating that summer; he was in med school. My parents lived in Columbus, Mississippi. I'd never heard of Google. There was no such thing as Facebook. My cell phone weighed about two pounds. I hadn't even gone to grad school yet.

In other words, there has been a lot of water that's gone under the bridge since then. Oceans of water.

I have to say, though, that I'm pretty comfortable with where my life is now. In 1999, I still didn't know where I was headed or how I was going to get there. I have a much better grasp of who I am now, and while I am not living some great glamorous life, I'm really okay with that. I'm happy with my life. Not to say that there aren't some things that I want to work on...taking better care of the house, trying to make sure I raise the boys right, and nurturing my writing career, to name a few...but I'm glad that I am where I am.

Also, I'm extremely glad that it's January 2011, and not January 2010. This time last year, my family was still reeling from the recent breast cancer diagnosis that my mother had received. She had begun treatment, and we were all anxious about that. David was still regaining his health after having battled a serious case of H1N1 flu and a secondary case of pneumonia. I was heavily pregnant and uncomfortable as all get out, not to mention nauseated with horrible neuropathy in my hands and feet. To make matters much worse, my father-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late January 2010; he began treatment later in the winter, and our whole family was on tenterhooks for months. Then there was that whole broken ankle thing, which wasn't life-threatening but it was just a giant pain in the, well, you know what I mean. I think I can speak for the whole family in saying that we are all very, very, very glad to put 2010 (and the last three or four months of 2009, too) behind us. Far behind us.

Pretty much, Andrew's birth was the lone bright spot in a very long, bleak period.

But oh, what a bright spot he was. And still is!

So I welcomed 2011. I'm too superstitious to say that it has to be a better year than 2010 was, because 2010 was very rough, coming on the heels of a rough 2009. But I am still glad that we are ushering in a new year,ushering in this new year.

To my minor dismay, I did not get any iconic images of either of the boys this New Year's.

Longtime readers might remember this picture from New Year's Eve 2006:

That, of course, was William, at eight months. He was just delicious then, wasn't he? He had fallen asleep in the living room. He played hard and then he crashed.

At ten months, Andrew is far more mobile than William was at eight months. It's hard to get him to sit still for a picture, let alone get him to fall asleep in some adorable pose so I can snap a photo. But I did at least get a picture of him wearing the same pajamas:

As for that sweet baby in the first picture, well, this is what he was up to on New Year's Eve this year:

Those are the 3-D glasses that he wore to a screening of the new cartoon movie "Tangled" on Monday. That was an interesting experience, incidentally, but you'll have to mosey on over to and read my blog there to read it. In the meantime, suffice it to say that we're lucky that he didn't get to see all of "Tron" after all.

Hope that your new year is getting off to a good start.